SEARCH

Entries in Mexico (43)

Thursday
Mar212013

Report: Deaths Increasing at US-Mexico Border

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The number of immigrants who died while attempting to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border saw a large increase in 2012, even though there seem to be far fewer people attempting the crossing.

According to a report released by the National Foundation for American Policy, immigrant deaths at the border rose by 27 percent in 2012. Despite the fact that the border patrol has nearly twice as many agents as it did 15 years ago, the number of deaths in crossing has more than doubled.

The 477 immigrants who died trying to cross the border in 2012 is the second highest annual total, behind only 2005.

The border patrol captured over 350,000 undocumented immigrants in 2012, as compared to over 1.5 million in 1999. With a dramatic decrease in the number of immigrants attempting the journey, it is staggering that such a large number of them are dying.

The NFAP says that these numbers suggest that the border is getting more dangerous for immigrants. Testimonies from organizations that work along the border seem to confirm this.

Geoff Boyce, a spokesman for an Arizona nonprofit called No More Deaths, told USA Today that immigrants are now crossing the border in more remote areas of the desert comprised of 900 square miles with just two paved roads.

He said the crossing takes three to four days, and is made in temperatures as high as 110 degrees, in the summer, and below freezing in winter time.

"Even the healthiest person is going to have a hard time surviving in those kinds of conditions," Boyce told USA Today.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec222012

Ex-Marine Jon Hammar Freed From Mexico Prison

WPLG/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A former U.S. Marine has been released from a Mexico jail after being locked up for five months on gun charges.

Officials from the U.S. Consulate General in Matamoros, Mexico met Jon Hammar at the prison Friday and escorted him to the U.S. border, where he was reunited with his family in time for the holidays, said Patrick Ventrell, acting deputy spokesperson for the U.S. State Department.

The nightmare unfolded in August, when Hammar and fellow veteran Ian McDonough departed for what was supposed to be a few months of surfing and camping in a Winnebago in Costa Rica.

The two had recently finished a treatment program for post-traumatic stress disorder, which Hammar suffered after fighting in Fallujah, Afghanistan, according to his mother, Olivia Hammar.

"The treatment's very exhausting, it's a tough program, and he was there almost nine months," said Olivia Hammar. "(They) decided they were going to buy an R.V., fix it up, drive down to Costa Rica through Mexico, and we were very nervous about it. We tried to discourage it, to tell him to take a plane, but they said, 'We're taking nine surfboards and need a place to stay.'"

Hammar and McDonough arrived on the border between Mexico and Texas on Aug. 15. Hammar, however, had packed his great grandfather's shotgun, a .410 Sears and Roebuck model nearly 100 years old. Hammar had hoped to hunt small birds with it while living in Costa Rica, Olivia said. The pair wanted to register the gun with Mexican authorities at the crossing point.

"There were signs that said you can't take a firearm, and so Ian said scrap it, don't take it, but Johnny said, 'Let's talk to the customs agent,'" according to Olivia. "They said, 'Technically you can (bring it across) but you'll need to register it,' and had (Johnny) fill out paperwork to present to Mexican officials."

The gun was meant for hunting, but border officials arrested the pair on federal charges of having a weapon that is reserved for military use. McDonough was released when Hammar claimed the gun was his.

Olivia and Jon Hammar, Sr., hired local lawyers to defend their son in Matamoros, Mexico, where Hammar was taken to state prison. The U.S. State Department was notified by Mexican authorities the following day, according to a department official who spoke on background.

"Almost immediately we began receiving extortion calls from cartel members in prison with him," Olivia said. The State Department and Hammar's lawyer, Eddie Varon Levy, would not comment on the claim about cartel members.

"They're saying, 'You need to wire us money or we're going to kill your son, we've already f---ed him up,' and initially I thought it was a scam, but then they put him on the phone and he was breathless and I knew they had," Olivia said. "He said, 'You need to do whatever they say. I'm so sorry. I'll pay you back.'" Hammar had been a lifelong surfer and sailor who loved being outdoors. He enlisted in the Marines at age 18, in 2003, to challenge himself. When he returned from his second tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2007, after his unit lost 16 soldiers, he was "a different man," she said.

Hammar's release was celebrated by U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who was one of his most vocial supporters.

"I am overcome with joy knowing that Jon will be spending Christmas with his parents, family and friends," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec122012

Drug Smugglers Shoot Drugs Across US/Mexico Border with Cannon

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(YUMA, Ariz.) -- Drug smugglers continue to show creativity in inventing new ways of getting drugs across the U.S. border from Mexico.

Border Patrol agents say they believe a pneumatic cannon was used to launch dozens of containers of marijuana over the border and 500 feet into Arizona on Friday.  Eighty-five pounds of marijuana -- tucked into soup cans and then inserted into larger sealed containers -- were found in a field near the Colorado River in San Luis, Ariz.

After searching the surrounding area, agents spotted the carbon dioxide tank used to power the cannon that propelled the containers into U.S. territory.  The smugglers launched the drug-filled projectiles from a position in a brushy area immediately south of the border fence.  According to authorities, an accomplice was probably supposed to collect the containers but did not show up in time.

The contraband was discovered by a concerned citizen in a plowed field just northwest of San Luis before the U.S counterpart could collect it.  After the Border Patrol was notified and searched the field, Mexican authorities also inspected their side of the border, but no arrests have been made.

"Because of our progress in targeting and obstructing movement, they can no longer just walk across the border," Linwood Estes, a Border Patrol Agent in Yuma, Ariz., told ABC News.  "The more and more successful we are, the more and more unique they become in trying to get the drugs across."

Around two pounds of marijuana were packed into each soup can.  The contraband had an estimated value of $42,500 and is scheduled for destruction.

While this specific technique is new to the Yuma area, Mexican pot smugglers have a track record of innovative tactics to sneak their drugs across the border.

In October, two creative bandits attempted to drive a car over the border fence by using a makeshift ramp just 20 miles west of Yuma.  When the SUV became stuck on the fence, the men fled the scene before Border Patrol officers arrived.

In 2011, National Guard surveillance video caught drug smugglers using a medieval-style catapult to launch bales of marijuana across the border near Naco, Ariz.  Mexican officials recovered the catapult after it was abandoned, and said the device was capable of launching packages weighing two kilograms.

Underground tunnels and ultra light aircraft have also been used in the past year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec122012

Former US Marine Stuck in Mexican Jail, Fighting Weapons Charges

WPLG/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A former U.S. Marine who took off on a surfing adventure to Costa Rica in August is stuck in a Mexican jail just over the border from Texas, and his family is calling for his release.

Ex-Marine Jon Hammar headed south with fellow veteran Ian McDonough on what was supposed to be a few months of surfing and camping in a Winnebago in Costa Rica.  The two had recently finished a treatment program for post-traumatic stress disorder, which Hammar suffered after fighting in Fallujah, Afghanistan, according to his mother, Olivia.

"The treatment's very exhausting, it's a tough program, and he was there almost nine months," Hammer's mother said.  "(They) decided they were going to buy an R.V., fix it up, drive down to Costa Rica through Mexico, and we were very nervous about it.  We tried to discourage it, to tell him to take a plane, but they said, 'We're taking nine surfboards and need a place to stay.'"

Hammar and McDonough arrived on the border between Mexico and Texas on Aug. 15.  Hammar, however, had packed his great grandfather's shotgun, a .410 Sears and Roebuck model nearly 100 years old.  Hammar had hoped to hunt small birds with it while living in Costa Rica, Olivia said.  The pair wanted to register the gun with Mexican authorities at the crossing point.

"There were signs that said you can't take a firearm, and so Ian said scrap it, don't take it, but Johnny said, 'Let's talk to the customs agent,'" according to Olivia.  "They said, 'Technically you can (bring it across) but you'll need to register it,' and had (Johnny) fill out paperwork to present to Mexican officials."

The gun was meant for hunting, but border officials arrested the pair on federal charges of having a weapon that is reserved for military use.  McDonough was released when Hammar claimed the gun was his.

Olivia and Hammer's father, Jon Sr., hired local lawyers to defend their son in Matamoros, Mexico, where Hammar was taken to state prison.  The U.S. State Department was notified by Mexican authorities the following day, according to a department official who spoke on background.

But once Hammar was in prison, his family said they began receiving irregular phone calls from Hammar, sometimes in the middle of the night, and sometimes accompanied by other prisoners demanding money.

"Almost immediately we began receiving extortion calls from cartel members in prison with him," Olivia said.  The State Department and Hammar's lawyer, Eddie Varon Levy, would not comment on the claim about cartel members.

Olivia and Jon Sr. say that, filled with panic, they contacted the U.S. consulate in Matamoros, Mexico, which arranged to have Hammar isolated from the general prison population.  They were advised not to pay any ransom money, Olivia said.

A State Department official said, "The safety and well being of Mr. Hammar is a serious matter. ...We requested he be moved away from the general prison population, and prison authorities granted that request.  Now, he is in a separate room with constant contact with prison personnel."

Hammar's parents are hoping that Varon Levy can help extricate their son from the Mexican judicial system.  Varon Levy, speaking with ABC News from Mexico City, said that the charges Hammar was initially arrested on proved false; he was not carrying a banned weapon that was only for the military.  The actual criminal charges were brought because the barrel of his shotgun was too short.

Varon Levy said he hopes to get Hammer out of jail within the next month, as he works with prosecutors to discuss evidence, witnesses and possible lesser charges in the case.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec042012

Father of Girl Missing from Cancer Ward Denies Role in Her Disappearance

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- The U.S. Border Patrol located the father of an 11-year-old girl whose mother had removed her from Phoenix Children's Hospital with a catheter still in her heart, but he has denied playing any role in taking the cancer-stricken girl from her sickbed.

Surveillance video captured the girl, identified only as Emily, along with a young boy and her mother, who police have now identified as 35-year-old Norma Bracamontes, walking out of Phoenix Children's Hospital at 10:30 p.m. last Wednesday.

Authorities and medical professionals fear the catheter in the girl's heart could become infected and endanger her life. The device was scheduled to be taken out before her mother removed an IV from the girl, who had been receiving chemotherapy, had recently battled an infection and had her right arm amputated.

When stopped while entering the United States last weekend, Luis Bracamontes, 46, told authorities that the family lived a "nomadic" life, and did not have a permanent residence, ABC affiliate KNXV-TV reported.

Police said that Bracamontes was a Mexican citizen with a U.S. Resident Alien ID Card, and that the girl and her mother were U.S. citizens. Other than that, Bracamontes provided "no valuable information" as far as the whereabouts of his daughter, Sgt. Steve Martos of the Phoenix Police Department said. Neither parent has been charged with a crime.

The family's not having a U.S. address has made the search for Emily difficult, Martos told ABC News last week. Since Emily and her family are from Mexico, they have no listed records in Arizona.

A nurse supervisor called 911 when she realized Emily was missing, and described how Emily was able to avoid detection.

"She was wearing a wig, which is not unusual, a lot of our cancer patients wear wigs," the supervisor said. "She wasn't wearing a wig when she went into the bathroom though, and then she was wearing a wig when she came out, and she was actually covering her right arm, the amputated arm."

Police said Norma Bracamontes removed Emily's IV before walking her out of the hospital in street clothes.

The family left the hospital in a black van and has not been seen since. Luis Bracamontes denied to authorities that he was driving the van.

Calls placed Tuesday to Phoenix Children's Hospital spokeswoman Jane Walton by ABC News were not immediately returned.

With the catheter still in her heart, Emily runs the risk of infection at both the site where the catheter entered her skin, and risks bacteria getting into the catheter at its tip, from where it could travel into her heart. At that point, the bacteria could enter her bloodstream.

Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News that the longer Emily is out of professional care, the chances of her developing sepsis increases.

"This is not hype, or an overblown concern," he said. "We have a patient who, with cancer, is in a precarious position for infection. The longer it takes, the more worried we get. The chances of an infection being introduced goes up and up each day."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct102012

Suspect in Youth Soccer Coach's Murder Flees to Mexico

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A man suspected of murdering and mutilating a New York youth soccer coach has fled the country, according to police.

Michael Jones, 25, was stabbed numerous times in the chest, ear and neck in an attack that left blood on the sidewalk. He was left to die around 4:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Authorities were reportedly close to making an arrest when suspect Orlando Orea, 32, managed to leave the country, according to ABC News' New York station WABC.

Orea also goes by Orlando Gutierrez and Orlando Estevas.

When authorities discovered Orea's name on Tuesday afternoon, they immediately put him on a no-fly list, but it was too late. He had gone to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and paid cash for a last minute Aero Mexico flight, according to WABC.

Jones was in his fifth season as a soccer coach for the Red Bulls' youth training program. He is originally from Liverpool, England. Police do not believe robbery was the motive since Jones' wallet and phone were found at the scene.

Detectives are looking into whether the killing may have been a case of mistaken identity. They are investigating whether there was a dispute at a bar in the area before the killing that did not involve Jones, according to WABC.

The suspect may have been in a dispute over a woman, ran out of the bar, saw Jones and possibly mistook him for the person involved in the argument.

Surveillance footage shows Jones walking near his attacker before the stabbing, but it is hard to tell if the two were having a conversation or exchanged any words.

The video shows a man walking away from the scene with long, dark hair in a ponytail. Police estimate he is between 25 and 30 years old.

Jones' family lives in England and was shocked to hear about his death.

"It's unbelievable. It's like you feel it hasn't happened and you're going to wake up and it's all a dream and you can wind the clock back so we're not in this situation," Jones' father Perry Jones told the BBC. "But, obviously, we are and that's not going to change."

Jones had followed his passion for soccer to the U.S. and his father said Jones loved his New York lifestyle and was hoping to get a visa and build his life here.

Loved ones are gathering Wednesday in Westchester, N.Y. for a memorial service for Jones.

"He's a great guy," roommate and fellow coach Karl Hogan told WABC. "[An] honest guy and very passionate about his job and worked very hard, always thought about the kids."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep202012

Zetas Drug Cartel Arranged Prison Break, Say Officials

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(EAGLE PASS, Texas) -- The director and 15 other staffers of a Mexican prison on the Texas border are being held under house arrest while authorities investigate whether they helped Mexico's most violent drug cartel, the Zetas, break more than 130 inmates out of the prison during a daring daylight escape Monday.

Initial media reports said prisoners had escaped through a 21-foot tunnel equipped with wires and cables after overpowering guards at the prison in Piedras Negras, just across the U.S. border from Eagle Pass, Texas. But top officials in the Mexican state of Coahuila were always suspicious that guards had been involved in the escape, and interrogation of three recaptured escapees revealed that many prisoners had walked straight out the front gate into waiting trucks.

"[The 3 inmates] were recruited by that group [the Zetas], which is waging a war in Tamaulipas and other states of the republic," Jorge Luis Moran, public safety secretary of Coahuila, said on a Mexican television network, Forotv.

Moran told another news channel that not all the detainees had escaped via the tunnel. The prison's director, Miguel Angel Resendiz, was fired after the escape.

The Zetas were started by members of the Mexican military who went to work as security for the Gulf Cartel and then formed their own competing drug-smuggling operation, which soon became dominant in southeast and eastern Mexico. The Zetas are famous for brutality, including mass killings and beheadings.

The Zetas have been battling the Sinaloa cartel, the country's most powerful cartel, for control of Coahuila and other territory along the Texas border.

Moran said that on Monday, police responding to the prison escape were attacked by gunmen with grenades and rifles. Four of the gunmen were killed; one of the men was believed to be a Zeta attempting to prevent the police from searching for escapees.

In an emailed statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it had been made aware of the escape and was in touch with Mexican officials.

"CBP is aware of the reported jail break in Northern Mexico, and out of an abundance of caution, has placed its officers and agents in the Eagle Pass, Texas area on alert," said spokesman Dennis Smith. "At this point, CBP has no reports of escapees attempting to cross the border."

"We remain in communication with our law enforcement partners in Mexico and maintain a shared interest in keeping our mutual border secure," said Smith.

In 2010, more than 150 inmates broke out of a prison in Nuevo Laredo, across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas. Forty-one guards were charged with aiding in that escape, the largest in Mexico in recent years.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun182012

Whale Sinks Sailboat Off Coast of Mexico

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- A California man was rescued after his 50-foot sailboat was struck by a whale while he was sailing alone about 40 miles off the coast of Mexico.

The impact from the collision disabled the sailboat's steering and the vessel began taking on water late Tuesday.

Max Young, 67, a retired Sacramento high school teacher, quickly stuffed a mattress into the hole in the ship's hull and activated several pumps.

Young also activated his EPIRB, an emergency radio beacon, around midnight which alerted the Coast Guard.

"The safety equipment he had on board allowed us to find him very quickly. It was a big reason why we were able to rescue him," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Pamela J. Boehland.

The Coast Guard requested assistance from the Ocean Virgo, a Panamanian-flagged merchant ship. The Ocean Virgo was approximately 60 miles away and immediately headed to the scene.

"The fact the freighter was less than 60 miles away and was able to respond to our rescue request was great, but he was very lucky that he was able to be rescued so quickly," Boehland said.

The command center watch also diverted an HC-130 Hercules aircraft from Air Station Sacramento to investigate the sinking vessel.

When the crew of the Hercules located and established radio communications with Young at about 2 a.m., he was bailing water from his boat. He had also deployed his life raft in case he had to abandon his boat.

The Hercules remained on scene until the Ocean Virgo arrived around 4 a.m., and Young climbed out of his boat via a rope ladder that was thrown by the ship's crew.

Young had been on the final leg of a trip from the East Coast to a marina in Emeryville, Calif., when the collision took place. Young has been sailing for at least 30 years, and having worked on boats with his father, who was a commercial fisherman, he's been on the ocean most of his life, his wife said.

Debra Young said she has been in contact with her husband while he's on board the Ocean Virgo, which is headed for Panama. He's not expected to be back to Sacramento for another few days.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

US Warns of 'Retaliation' Against American Tourists in Mexico

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- American travelers to Mexico should beware of possible violent retaliation for this week's arrest of alleged Zetas drug cartel associates and family members inside the U.S., the U.S. State Department has warned.

Though the warning does not specify which "Transnational Criminal Organization" might engage in "anti-American" violence, on Tuesday federal authorities arrested seven alleged associates of the powerful Zetas drug cartel in New Mexico and Oklahoma for allegedly laundering millions in drug profits through breeding and racing quarterhorses in the U.S. Those arrested included Jose Trevino Morales, the brother of Zetas leaders Miguel Angel and Oscar Omar Trevino Morales, who were also indicted but remain at large in Mexico.

According to the indictment, the Zetas cartel steered drug money to Jose Trevino Morales and his wife to purchase, train and race quarterhorses. Horses owned by the Zetas' alleged front companies competed at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico and won lucrative races, including the $1 million All American Futurity in 2010. Some of the horses had the word "cartel" in their names, such as Morning Cartel and Coronita Cartel.

The travel warning issued Tuesday, the day of the arrests and the unsealing of the indictment, urges U.S. citizens in Mexico to be on guard. "Given the history and resources of this violent TCO, the U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to maintain a low profile and a heightened sense of awareness."

Miguel Angel Trevino Morales and his brother Oscar Omar, who go by the names 40 and 42, which refer to their alleged rank within the Zetas at the time of the cartel's creation several years ago, are now allegedly top leaders of an organization that controls drug trafficking in the east and south of Mexico.

The Zetas began in 1999 when former members of the Mexican military signed on to work as security for the Gulf drug cartel. The Zetas went into business for themselves and are now at war with the Gulf Cartel. They are based in Nuevo Laredo, which is in Tamaulipas state just across the border from Laredo, Texas.

The U.S. State Department issued a Travel Warning about Tamaulipas in February, and on Tuesday noted that it "continues to advise U.S. citizens to defer non-essential travel to the state of Tamaulipas."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May312012

Star Student in Immigration Flap Will Be Home for Graduation

Frankfort High School(FRANKFORT, Ind.) -- High school senior Elizabeth Olivas is coming home. After getting caught up on an immigration technicality in her native Mexico, the Frankfort Indiana High School homecoming queen will get to walk with her classmates at graduation on Saturday.

The U.S. State Department confirmed to her immigration lawyer, Sarah L. Moshe, that Olivas was given a visa to come back to the United States, Moshe told ABC News.

“The waiver was approved, and we just finished issuing and printing her visa,” an email from the State Department said.  “We gave her the visa packet and I assume she will be leaving the Consulate momentarily (visa in hand!).  Congrats and best of luck to Elizabeth and her family!  She is very lucky to have such a great team working on her behalf.”

Olivas has lived in the U.S. since age 4, and her father is a naturalized U.S. citizen. But after turning 18, according to the law, she had 180 days to return to Mexico to apply for a long-term visa to the United States.  Without that visa she would become an illegal immigrant. So she and her father took the trip down to the Juarez consulate, only to realize they counted dates wrong because of the leap year. Olivas was late by one day, initially told she would not be issued her long-term visa and, without a  “humanitarian parole” visa waiver, she would not be able to enter the United States again for three years.

But even the waiver process can be complicated. Waivers can take anywhere from three to eight months to be issued. Olivas couldn’t wait that long. She’d already been in Mexico for six weeks, missing most of her high school senior milestones, including prom and an academic achievement ceremony. With a near 4.0 grade point average, the star athlete is set to graduate as one of the top students at the school.  She is also supposed to give the salutation speech at graduation, which seemed unlikely before her case received a global outcry.

Frankfort High School Principal Steve Edwards told the Indianapolis Star that students were sad at the thought of Olivas not being with them for graduation and that the situation was one of the hardest things he’s ever dealt with.

“This is a very skilled, talented, beautiful young lady,” he said.

But now Olivas and her classmates will be able to celebrate both their graduation and her homecoming.  She told Moshe via text message that she was excited and grateful.

“JUST GOT OUT VISA IN MY HANDS,” read the text. ” IM COMING HOME!  THANK YOU SO MUCH, IM SOO HAPPY!”

Moshe told ABC News Olivas and her family are grateful for all the attention and concern over the teen’s plight.

“We take this opportunity to thank everyone for the outpouring of support for Elizabeth and her family,” Moshe said. “She will certainly enjoy a well-deserved graduation celebration on Saturday!”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio