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U.S. awards border contract to company that already failed

THE BORDER REPORT

TUCSON - The United States awarded an Israeli company a $145 million contract to build a surveillance system along Arizona's border with Mexico. But federal records show that the same company had a hand in much the same border security project eight years ago. Read the story and watch our report on KVOA.com.
Mountain Lions, Bighorn Sheep Die In Effort To Restore Nature

THE BORDER REPORT

TUCSON – Last November, Arizona wildlife officials began a program to re-introduce bighorn sheep to the Santa Catalina mountains north of Tucson. Thirty-one of the iconic animals were trucked in from a wilderness area, fitted with tracking devices and offloaded into the mountains. Within weeks of their release, the bighorn began to die. Read my story here at the Fronteras Desk.


The Border In Depth

Rogue Mexican Army Troops Crossing the Line

U.S. Awards Border Contract to Company That Already Failed

Drug Cartels Protecting Our Borders

Mexico Investigator Alleging Abuses Jailed by U.S.

Toxicity in Arms Trafficking

Former ICE Official to Get Two Years

The Story of the ICE Agent and His Snitch

FBI Report Details Killing of American Kidnapping Expert

Reeling in a Dealer of Meth and Death

A Surreal Demarcation

Border Epidemic

The Border's Man of the Year

Twitter Gone Wrong

Voluntarily Returned to Mexico

Border Project Hits Snag

Justice – Sonora Style

Importing Drug Traffickers

Forced Leniency: The True Story of an Orgy Sponsored by the FBI A Sting Gone Wrong Investigation, Cover-up Corrupting the Weak

Pancho Villa Returns

The Battle for Cananea

The Corridor of Killing

General News

Murdered ICE Agent was Temporarily Assigned to Mexico

THE BORDER REPORT

Asi dicen las fuentes. The murdered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, Jaime Zapata, from Laredo, was temporarily assigned to Mexico. Somehow along the way, up that Highway 57 towards Monterrey. Lots of narco-bloqueos on that highway these days. Still, the questions linger. Back in late 2010, the Hermosillo Consulate issued a travel warning for consulate employees. They mandated, nobody travels at night, or past Navojoa, Sonora, without an armored car. Vehicles of State Department employees in Mexico all have State Department plates. Can we assume que viajaban en carro blindado? I think so. It's assumption only, at this point. Got off the phone with an ICE source a little while ago. She says the agents either rolled down their window or opened the door when they arrived at the checkpoint. But it was a fake checkpoint. That's Zeta turf, yes? So who runs the checkpoints? Who manages their existence along Hwy 57? Not common thugs. And if they knew the ICE agents were coming up, who gave the order? Someone knew they were coming and wanted to do this. But why? Lots of questions here; lots of fact, lots of fictions, lots of chismes. Somebody knew they were coming and, at the same time, one of these agents opened the door or lowered the window when they arrived. Popularly, it's said they did so out of inexperience. Pero alguien, somebody, knew they were coming. Last week, ICE was talking about the Mexican agents working with Homeland Security agents in the U.S. I asked one of the SACs about the trust issues. An ICE SAC; he said there were none. That they had been vetted. Yet I can't help thinking someone knew the agents were on that highway. Someone planned this. Esto queda claro.

Chismes

Mexico’s Hidden Drug War

THE BORDER REPORT

The following story was produced for the Fronteras Desk, public radio, Arizona. Click here for the audio version.

Long known as Arizona's beach town, tourists and business owners in Rocky Point, Mexico, say a recent State Department's travel warning about this place is unfair. Victims say otherwise. They say cartel violence in Mexico has quietly crept in and goes mostly unreported. Last year the chief of police of this quiet resort town on the Sea of Cortez was gunned down. Since then, the stories of violence here are barely mentioned. Business owners and the town's mayor prefer to keep it that way.   But for people like Veronica, the stories of violence are hard to ignore. Veronica is a waitress in a tourist bar here. She doesn't want her last name used; she's afraid she'll be murdered for talking. She says her boyfriend was a Rocky Point cop kidnapped from their home at gunpoint a few weeks ago. "I have to be careful, I saw the people who did it, so did my son," she says. Police found his body the next day. Noone can agree as to why the killers had ripped his fingernails out and shot him one time. The story barely made the Mexican press and it was never mentioned north of the border. There's other stories. Last week, sources gave a Fronteras Desk reporter a video of a Mexican Marine being accosted in his home by the Rocky Point police chief's bodyguards while the chief stood by watching. In the final moments of the video, his face is shown, beaten. He shot the video on his cellphone. He filed a complaint in court. He was beaten last March. Veronica's boyfriend's was killed in early April. Two weeks later, nearly the entire force held a protest, demanding the chief resign. Rocky Point mayor Alejandro Zepeda dismisses these issues. He's speaking through his translator, Mónica Castro. The mayor says his new chief is staying put. "The commander is ex-military, so he's a little bit more stricter so they have to acknowledge that change and maybe some people don't like the changes but it's gotta be done in order to provide better service for everybody." Over 35,000 people have been killed in Mexico's drug wars since 2006. Fewer than three hundred were Americans. Now The State Department's travel warning cautions visitors to Rocky Point. It's Washington's broadest alert yet. It advises people to stay away from entire states in Mexico and includes small towns like Rocky Point it had never mentioned before. Steve Holder's been coming to Rocky Point with his friends for nearly 20 years. "I'm going to Turkey next week and there's a travel warning there too so what can you do," he says as he smokes a cigar and orders another beer on the patio. No American has been killed in Rocky Point as a result of the drug violence in Mexico. But fear has driven the tourists away. On a beautiful day in April, it takes eight hours to find a single American. Rafael Noriega gave up on American tourists. The restaurant owner tried running a swank Italian place in the Old Port. Now he caters to the Mexican crowd with cheap, good red wine and five dollar pizzas. "Only Mexicans now. Mexicans from all over around. There's no Americans, well." Like the mayor, he says the little bit of violence that hit Rocky Point is the kind of sporadic violence that can hit any town in the world. "Nothing special. There's not violence in Puerto Peñasco," he pauses. "Not really." That same afternoon, the Mexican Army storms through downtown.. Fifty-cal rifles are mounted on rotating turrets on the soldiers' Humvee. Those soldiers had just shot a man in a white SUV. This is the problem with reporting on the violence in this town. Two soldiers threatened to arrest me when I tried to photograph the crime scene. The story didn't appear in the town's two major papers the next morning. The Mexican Army never admits publicly to the shooting.

General News

New Details Emerge in the Hunt for Brian Terry’s Killers

THE BORDER REPORT

TUCSON, Ariz. — New documents recently gathered by the Fronteras Desk give some new insight into what’s now become a nearly two year-long hunt for the killers of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

The document -- an FBI search warrant asking for a judge’s permission to track the cellphone of one of the fugitives -- shows that at least one of the killers was hiding, not in Mexico, but in the United States until at least Spring 2012, more than a year after the agent’s murder. The warrant paints a portrait of a group of men who easily managed to simultaneously live their lives both in the Phoenix area and Sinaloa, Mexico without too much hindrance by federal agents. In fact, one of the fugitives, an agent surmises, didn’t even know the U.S. had already identified him. You can read more of this story at The Fronteras Desk.

General News

Immigration Judges Dismissing More Deportation Cases

THE BORDER REPORT

This story first appeared on KJZZ's Fronteras Desk. Visit our website for stories from all across the border.

Immigration judges are letting more illegal migrants stay in the country. Government records show that the Obama Administration is focusing its deportation efforts on those who have been convicted of crimes.

Most people who show up in front of an immigration judge still face deportation, but the Department of Homeland Security, and judges in Arizona, have doubled the number of cases where deportation orders are dropped compared to five years ago.

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