Monday, July 19, 2010

Arrests shed light on border kidnappings

The bedraggled immigrants were picking their way through the boulders and scrub when a group of heavily armed men descended on them just short of the California-Mexico border. They corralled them in a cave and pointed their guns on the 10 men and one woman. These lawless badlands in the hills east of Tijuana have long teemed with bandits and rapists, but these criminals demanded only phone numbers. They started calling the immigrants' loved ones in Pomona, San Diego and Bakersfield: Send us money or we'll shoot, they said. The days-long kidnapping ordeal in May illustrates a growing trend as roaming gangs of well-organized, heavily armed gunmen turn their sights on illegal immigrants, making a treacherous journey ever more dangerous for people trekking north.

In the spree of kidnappings, which began about two years ago, gunmen hold people captive until family members in the U.S. send wire transfers of up to $5,000 to accounts in Mexico. Some immigrants are beaten; several have been killed, including a pair of brothers from Mexico. Many straggle across the border and turn themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol agents. Others end up in migrant shelters in Tijuana, too frightened to report the cases to Mexican police. Little was known about how the criminals operate until Mexican authorities dismantled two gangs in recent months, including the one in May, when 11 suspects were arrested after a shootout and a wild foot chase through the hills. The arrests provided authorities with a rare glimpse into criminal networks whose reach stretches from the border to cities across the U.S. and Mexico. The gang was allegedly run by a career criminal from Nayarit and included a former Mexican army soldier. They admitted kidnapping more than 100 immigrants over 18 months, holding them in remote caves, makeshift camp and ranches.



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Who am I?

I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

My principal areas of expertise are: (1) Intelligence, (2) Training and Development, (3) Knowledge Management, and (4) Administration/Supervision.

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