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Entries in Texas (8)

Tuesday
Sep182012

Mass Prison Break on Texas Border

Kevin Horan/Stone(WASHINGTON) -- Authorities have launched a massive manhunt for more than 130 inmates who made a daring daylight escape from a Mexican prison using a tunnel equipped with ropes and electric cables.

More than half of those who escaped from the prison in Piedras Negras, just across the border from Eagle Rock Texas, were serving time for federal crimes, including drug trafficking. Though drug gangs are often tied to prison escapes in Mexico, authorities have not yet linked the escape to a specific gang.

The attorney general of Coahuila state, Homero Ramos Gloria, said that three employees of the prison, including the director, were being questioned about the potential involvement of staff in the mass break-out. According to Mexican media reports, a dozen guards were also detained.

Ramos told a Mexican television station that the 21-foot-long tunnel, which was four feet in diameter , "was not made today. It had been there for months." Ropes and electric cables were also found nearby.

"We have 132 inmates escaping through a tunnel," said Ramos, "and it doesn't make sense." The number has also been reported as 129 and 134 in the Mexican press.

According to Mexican media reports, the escape occurred just after 2 p.m. Monday and took 15 minutes. The inmates overpowered guards in the prison's watchtowers, escaped through the tunnel and cut through a chain link fence into a vacant lot. No alert was sounded until an hour after the inmates, who represented a fifth of the prison's total population, had escaped.

More than 5,000 police and soldiers are now searching for the 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.

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

During a 2009 escape at a prison in Zacatecas, 30 men dressed as federal police officers raided the prison and liberated more than 50 members of the Zetas drug gang.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug282012

Mexican President-Elect Enrique Peña Nieto Files Supreme Court Brief in U.S. Murder Case

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A Mexican woman who was sentenced to 99 years in prison for murdering a Texas boy has received help from the president-elect of Mexico, who filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court asking for a review of the case.

Rosa Estela Olvera Jimenez was convicted of murdering a 21-month-old boy she was babysitting in 2003. Prosecutors said the Mexican national held the boy down and shoved paper towels down his throat, a claim Jimenez denies.

The amicus curiae brief, which was filed Monday by president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto in a personal capacity, the governor of Mexico and a Mexican lawyer, says Jimenez was denied her due process rights in a trial that hinged solely on expert witnesses brought in by Texas prosecutors.

Among the accusations are that Jimenez's counsel made "unprofessional errors" and that she was not given adequate funds to hire expert witnesses during her 2005 trial.

"Granting Rosa's petition could rescue an innocent woman from languishing in prison for the rest of her life, cut off from her daughter and the son born to her in jail as she awaited trial," the brief states.

Jimenez's case could have an effect on other Mexican nationals who are facing trial in the United States, according to the brief.

More than 2 million Mexican nationals live in Texas. Many of them are undocumented and lack the financial resources to receive fair trials, the brief states.

Jimenez, who was five months pregnant at the time of the incident, has maintained her innocence, saying the boy ate the paper towels himself.

The toddler's body had no bruises or scratches and Jimenez's DNA was not found on the paper towels, according to the brief.

The State of Mexico provided funds for Jimenez to hire experts and pursue a habeas corpus petition in 2010. A U.S. District Court judge granted Jimenez's request for a new trial on the grounds of ineffective counsel and expert assistance.

On April 25, 2010, however, the Texas Court of Appeals struck down the ruling, denying Jimenez a new trial.

Ryan Bates, the attorney handling Jimenez's appeal, said he and his client were "extremely gratified" by the support her case has received.

"The reason Rosa's case has drawn support from so many is the fact she makes a truly compelling claim of actual innocence," he said.

Peña Nieto was elected president of Mexico in July and will take office in December.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb222012

Bullet Near Mexico Border Hits Mother Walking Streets of Texas

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(EL PASO, Texas) -- A mother pushing her child in a stroller in downtown El Paso, Texas, was struck by an errant bullet fired during a shootout between Mexican police and carjacking suspects just across the border in violence-ridden Ciudad Juarez, according to El Paso police officials.

Forty-eight-year-old Maria Romero has been treated and released from El Paso's University Medical Center, but authorities continue to investigate the rare cross-border shooting. Her child was unharmed.

Romero, a Mexican citizen, is a legal U.S. immigrant and did not even hear the bursts of assault rifle fire across the border, according to a statement by the El Paso police department.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb152012

Mexican Gang Boss Gets Life Sentence in US Consulate Murders

Comstock/Thinkstock(EL PASO, Texas) -- A U.S. district judge Wednesday sentenced one of the Mexico's top gang bosses to life in prison without parole for his role in the March 2010 murders of a U.S. consulate employee and two others.

Wednesday in El Paso, Texas, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone sentenced Robert Angel Cardona, a top-ranking member of the Mexican gang Barrio Azteca, which is also tied to more than 1,500 murders along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to The Washington Times. Cardona pleaded guilty in August 2011 to charges of racketeering conspiracy.

Cardona and his gang had been involved in a long list of illegal activity. According to court documents, Barrio Azteca was connected to drug trafficking, extortion, money laundering and kidnapping in addition to brutal killings, including the Juarez murders of U.S. consulate employee Leslie Ann Enriquez Catton, her husband Arthur Redelfs and Jorge Alberto Salcido, the husband of another consulate employee.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb032012

Friend: Texas Missionaries Killed in Mexico Knew They Were in Danger

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(MONTERREY, Mexico) -- A dedicated Texas missionary couple strangled in their Mexico home knew how much danger they were in, but refused to leave the people they cared for, according to a friend from their sponsor church in Texas.

"They had opportunities to return, but these are their people.  It would be like abandoning family.  We don't abandon family," Karen Mosley, the secretary for Liberty Baptist Church in Lewisville, Texas, told ABC News. "We lost a couple of great prayer warriors."

John Casias, 76, and Wanda Casias, 67, were found dead at their home near Monterrey, Mexico, on Tuesday by one of their 10 children.  They had been living and working in Mexico for about 30 years.

It was the second time in a year that an American missionary was killed in Mexico.  Nancy Davis, 59, was shot in the head in January 2011 when she and her husband were attacked at an illegal road block.

"They had all kinds of updated security measures, which makes us all believe it was somebody he knew or he wouldn't have let them in," Mosley said.  She said they lived on a walled property and had a gate.

Mosley said church members used to go on missions every other year to the area where the Casias couple lived, until about four years ago when things became too dangerous for them to travel there.  Fighting between drug cartels over the past few years made Monterrey an extremely dangerous place.

"John doesn't allow visitors to come to his place anymore.  It's that bad," Mosley said.  "There are no more policemen, they're all dead. The last mayor was murdered. All they have there are soldiers."

The couple had discussed what they wanted, should anything ever happen to them, with members of the church, Mosley said. The couple said that if they were to be kidnapped, they did not want anyone to pay ransom for them.

"They would not allow it," Mosley said. "They knew it was dangerous. They were just cautious and they made a pact."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan062012

American Teen Deported to Colombia Is Heading Home

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(DALLAS) -- Jakadrien Turner, the American teen who was mistakenly deported to Colombia, was put on a plane Friday bound for home in Texas.

"She is on a plane back to the U.S. as we speak," Ray Jackson, a lawyer for Turner's family, told ABC News.

The lawyer said that while the family is thrilled, they are also planning lawsuits.

"We are exploring a civil rights law suit against ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), Houston Police and Colombian government... There is an egregious injustice and the ball has been dropped. ICE is the main culprit, but there are many parts of it where there is negligence," he said.

Turner, who turned 15 while in Colombia, was taken into custody by the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare on Dec. 1 after authorities determined she was a minor and an American.

During her time in Colombia, Turner was included in a government program called Welcome Home, which provided her with counseling, shelter and a job at a call center, according to the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare.

She posted often on Facebook under the name TiKa SoloToolonq, occasionally referencing her life in Houston and Dallas, and speaking of efforts to learn Spanish. She never indicated any attempts to move back to the United States, and while she often complained of boredom and unhappiness in Colombia, she appeared to be making a life there and was listed as "in a relationship" on Facebook.

Turner's bizarre adventure came to an end after her grandmother scoured the social networking site until she found her granddaughter and alerted authorities.

The teen was originally picked up by police in Houston for theft on Nov. 19, 2010, marking the last day her family had seen or heard from her.

During police questioning, officials said Turner gave the name Tika Lanay Cortez, a name Immigration and Customs Enforcement contends she simply made up, and told them she was a 21-year-old from Colombia with no identification. She continued to maintain her alias throughout the investigation and told officials she had no legal status in the U.S., an ICE statement said.

A number of database searches, which included checking her fingerprints, turned up nothing that contradicted her story, and according to ICE, they had no way of knowing that her story wasn't true. A missing persons report was filed with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, but an ICE spokesperson said that didn't show up in the course of the investigation.

Once she was convicted, Turner was handed over to ICE, to whom she maintained she was a Colombian citizen, even while being interviewed by a representative from the Colombian consulate. Eventually, the Colombian authorities agreed she was a Colombian citizen, and authorized her deportation, providing her with full Colombian citizenship upon arrival in the country.

Her family says they don't understand how something like this could have happened. "They didn't do their work," the girl's grandmother, Lorene Turner told ABC affiliate WFAA. "How do you deport a teenager and send her to Colombia without a passport, without anything?"

ICE says it is investigating the matter. It's unclear what Turner's motives might have been for providing police with a false identity. The agency insists it takes the, "responsibility to verify the immigration status of individuals in the agency's custody very seriously."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan052012

14-Year-Old US Citizen Deported to Colombia

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(DALLAS) -- A 14-year-old American citizen has been living in a Central American country since last year after being deported by U.S. officials.

Jakadrien Turner had been missing from her home in Dallas since Nov. 19, 2010, when she was picked up by police in Houston for theft. She had no identifying documentation with her. During police questioning, officials said Turner gave the name Tika Lanay Cortez (a name Immigration and Customs Enforcement contends she simply made up), and told them she was a 21-year-old from Colombia.

She continued to maintain that identity throughout the investigation process, and told officials she had no legal status in the U.S., an ICE statement said. A number of database searches, which included checking her fingerprints, turned up nothing that contradicted her story, and according to ICE, they had no way of knowing that her story wasn't true. A missing persons report was filed with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, but an ICE spokesperson said that didn't show up in the course of the investigation.

An ICE official told ABC News that people who do enter the U.S. illegally often have no documentation whatsoever to identify them or a country of origin. So, they took Turner at her word when she insisted she was a 21-year-old Colombian citizen.

"[Turner] maintained this false identity throughout her local criminal proceedings in Texas where she was represented by a defense attorney and ultimately convicted," an ICE statement said. "At no time during these criminal proceedings was her identity determined to be false."

Once she was convicted, she was handed over to ICE, where she still said she was a Colombian citizen, even while being interviewed by a representative from the Colombian consulate. Eventually, the Colombian authorities agreed she was a Colombian citizen and authorized her deportation, providing her with full Colombian citizenship upon arrival in the country.

During her time in Colombia, Turner posted often on Facebook, under the name "TiKa SoloToolonq," occasionally referencing her life in Houston and Dallas, and speaking of efforts to learn Spanish. She never indicated any attempts to move back to the United States, and while she often complained of boredom and unhappiness in Colombia, she appeared to be making a life there.

Her family says they don't understand how something like this could have happened.

"I'm flabbergasted," her mother, Johnisa Turner, told ABC News affiliate WFAA. "Something definitely has to change."

Her grandmother, Lorene Turner, was the one who eventually found Jakadrian on Facebook, after months of searching.

"They didn't do their work," she told WFAA. "How do you deport a teenager and send her to Colombia without a passport, without anything?"

WFAA reports Turner is being held in a detention center in Colombia, and Colombian authorities refuse to turn her over. ICE officials say they can't confirm those reports.

Still, her grandmother says she's optimistic.

"I feel like she will come home," Lorene told WFAA. "I just need help and prayer."

For their part, ICE says they are investigating the matter. It's unclear what Turner's motives might have been for providing police with a false identity. They say they take their "responsibility to verify the immigration status of individuals in the agency's custody very seriously."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul032011

Americans Advised Not to Travel to Mexican Border Town for July 4

Lifesize/Agri Press(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Americans are being advised against travelling to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico over the Fourth of July weekend, as authorities warn that a Mexican drug cartel plans on committing criminal acts against visiting Americans over the weekend.

“We urge U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Nuevo Laredo this weekend if it can be avoided,” Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven C. McCraw said in a statement.

Both the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Webb County Sheriff’s Office say they have received credible intelligence that members of the Zetas Cartel are planning on committing crimes against Americans travelling to Nuevo Laredo.

“According to the information we have received, the Zetas are planning a possible surge in criminal activity, such as robberies, extortions, car-jackings and vehicle theft, specifically against U.S. citizens,” said McCraw.

Officials say there is also a possibility of crimes being committed against U.S. nationals in suburbs that surround Nuevo Laredo.

Authorities in Texas say there isn’t any indication that cartel-related criminal activities will occur within that state, but in the event that it does, they are fully prepared to respond.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio