Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thunderbird Farms & Hidden Valley Update: Operation Pipeline Express multi-agency drug raids yield drugs, weapons and arrests. . .

We have finally received official statements stemming from the drug raids in Maricopa, Thunderbird Farms and Hidden Valley. Of the people arrested in these raids, half of them were illegal aliens. We have foreign nationals doing harm to our country for money. Unfortunately, for every criminal arrested, there's two cousins, three uncles and several brothers ready to take their places in the “family business”.

Knowing this fact, I was rather irritated to discover that several of the homes raided on Thursday were still occupied TODAY with the appearance of “business as usual”. Each of these properties should have been seized, closed up and their occupants arrested or tossed out on the street.

I drove by four of the raided homes this afternoon (Monday 10/31/2011). The home on Mayer Blvd. had a big red “X” taped to the front door. Perhaps, this is a message to other load vehicles. The home on Brewer Rd. and the one at 8759 N. Warren Rd. were still occupied with people milling about. The occupants simply put sheets over the broken windows and picked up where they left off.

In reality, we should be following the examples set by other countries. It's not uncommon for governments to execute their country's drug dealers. Raiding a drug house one day, only to have it back up and running a few days later is definitely sending the wrong message to “would be” criminals.

'Massive' smuggling ring dismantled in Arizona

PHOENIX - Arizona authorities say they've dismantled a "massive" drug trafficking ring responsible for smuggling more than $33 million worth of drugs through the state's western desert every month.

Authorities said Monday that the ring is believed to be tied to the Sinaloa cartel -- Mexico's most powerful -- and that it has been in operation for at least the last five years. http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_phoenix_metro/central_phoenix/authorities-to-share-details-of-az-smuggling-bust#ixzz1cO9wHvoO

Keep in mind that $33 million is insignificant in a multi-billion dollar a year enterprise. Don't be confused by the numbers. Only as small percentage of contraband is seized. Only when the street prices of dope rise, will there be a hint of progress.

Images: Operation Pipeline Express drug arrests [Image 6 of 11]

Federal, state and local authorities announced the results of "Operation Pipeline Express," a 17-month multi-agency investigation responsible for dismantling a massive narcotics trafficking organization in the Arizona's western desert. In this photo, one of bales of marijuana seized during the enforcement operation. http://www.dvidshub.net/image/481858/operation-pipeline-express-drug-arrests

News: Authorities to announce results of probe targeting 'billion dollar' drug ring

PHOENIX - Federal, state and local officials will hold a news conference Monday morning to unveil the results of a 17-month, multi-agency investigation targeting one of the largest narcotics trafficking organizations ever uncovered in Arizona. Authorities allege the ring, linked to Mexico's Sinaloan cartel, smuggled millions of dollars worth of drugs a month through the state. Last week, investigators conducted the third of three recent enforcement actions aimed at dismantling the organization. http://pinalcountyaz.gov/Departments/Sheriff/Lists/News/DispFormA.aspx?List=b382d514%2D09a1%2D4490%2D80f0%2D4f0e76b7b4c9&ID=530

Multi-agency probe deals death blow to “billion dollar” drug ring

The probe that evolved into “Operation Pipeline Express” began in May 2010 following a traffic stop by Pinal County Sheriff’s deputies in Stanfield. To date, the case has resulted in the seizure of more than 60,000 pounds of marijuana; in excess of 200pounds of cocaine; approximately 160 pounds of heroin; more than $750,000 in cash; and nearly 110 weapons, including multiple assault rifles. http://maricopa360.com/?p=11880&cpage=1#comment-30170

'Billion dollar' drug ring dealt lethal blow

Monday’s announcement comes four days after federal and local investigators executed the third in a succession of large-scale enforcement actions tied to the probe, taking another 22 defendants into custody. To date, 76 individuals have been arrested in connection with “Operation Pipeline Express,” ranging from organizational “bosses” to stash house guards and load drivers.

During last week’s warranted searches, authorities seized more than two tons of marijuana, 19 weapons — including assault rifles, handguns, and shotguns — and nearly $200,000 in cash. http://www.inmaricopa.com/Article/2011/10/31/pcso-attorney-general-multi-agency-drug-investigation

It will be interesting to see if any of the seized weapons are from the ATF bungled “Fast and Furious” operation. Deliberately putting weapons into the hands of violent criminals from a hostile foreign land is just plain stupid. Heads NEED to roll.

This is far from a “death blow”. At best, this is merely an inconvenience to the Mexican drug cartels. Law Enforcement organizations: Don't start patting yourselves on the back, yet. This work is far from over.

“Today we have dealt a significant blow to a Mexican criminal enterprise that has been responsible for poisoning our communities with the distribution of millions of dollars’ worth of marijuana, cocaine and heroin,” said Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne. “I find it completely unacceptable that Arizona neighborhoods are treated as a trading floor for narcotics.

Monday, October 31, 2011

FUNSAR Training Weekend in the Superstition Mountains, Tonto National Forest. . .

As part of the Fundamentals of Search and Rescue (FUNSAR) course I'm taking at the Mesa Community College, we took an overnight trip along the Second Water Trail in the Superstition Mountains. This area is located near Apache Junction in the Tonto National Forest off SR 88. It had been some 18 years since I last hiked in this area and the years are certainly catching up with me. It wasn't as easy this time.

Old injuries and age made this outing quite a bit more challenging. I'm sure the pizza I ate before leaving slowed me down a little bit, too. The trail was rocky in places and I had to work harder than normal to keep my balance. My pack also changed my center of gravity, so I had to compensate for that as well.

Our destination was the Garden Valley. Upon reaching our destination, I unrolled my foam pad and lightweight sleeping bag. I didn't bring a tent to save on weight. I slept under the stars and got a good night's sleep. I usually don't sleep this good at home. The temperature dropped into the 50's, making it perfect sleeping weather.

Several other US Border Guard volunteers, including Patrol Leader J.T. Ready are also taking the FUNSAR course and participated in this event. USBG members took this opportunity to meet other individuals involved in various activities and explain our scope of operations in the Sonoran Desert.

National Association for Search and Rescue

A man with Alzheimer's wanders away from home, a hunter or hiker is missing, a group of school children is stranded in a flood... Search and rescue is a life-saving vocation. And the ability to save a life is often dependent upon how quickly the person can be found and accessed. If the missing person is one of your loved ones, you will expect well-equipped, well-trained search and rescue professionals to bring your one home safely to you. The National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR) has dedicated itself to preparing those involved in search and rescue to meet your expectations. http://www.nasar.org/

Welcome to Tonto National Forest

The Tonto National Forest, Arizona, embraces almost 3 million acres of rugged and spectacularly beautiful country, ranging from Saguaro cactus-studded desert to pine-forested mountains beneath the Mogollon Rim. This variety in vegetation and range in altitude (from 1,300 to 7,900 feet) offers outstanding recreational opportunities throughout the year, whether it's lake beaches or cool pine forest. More...

Garden Valley Loop

From the trail head, start hiking the Dutchman Trail #104. After .4 miles take the left fork at the junction with the Second Water Trail, #236. Follow the Second Water Trail across First Water Creek and continue on it for 1.5 miles to Garden Valley and the signed junction with the Black Mesa Trail, #241. Continue on the Second Water Trail another 100 feet to an unsigned trail heading off to the left (Northwest). Take this unmaintained horse trail across Garden Valley. The view is great and the trail is easy. http://www.arizonahikingtrails.com/hikingpages/gardenvalley.html

The Garden valley was a relatively flat area dotted with cactus and small trees. We were surrounded by mountains. Weaver's Needle was just visible to the east.

Trails Co-Op... Second Water Trail

3.3 miles long. A heavily-used trails that passes through Garden Valley.

Elevation: 1,940 - 2,420 feet.
Termini: Trail 104 near First Water TH, and Trail 103. No more than 15 people are allowed to be in a group. No more than 15 head of livestock are allowed in a group. http://www.redtrails.com/trail.php?s=d126Ao

This was a rather popular trail. The parking area at the trail head was almost full and people were observed everywhere. This environment was quite different than what we encounter in the drug smuggling corridors in the Sonoran Desert National Monument.

Upon emerging from the trail on Saturday morning, I was greeted by a friendly park ranger. In my neck of the woods, we don't have friendly rangers. We have BORTAC and SWAT teams. This was a real contrast to what I normally see.

BORTAC is the global special response team for the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Although I'm not a big fan of crowds, I was pleased to see people enjoying our public recreation areas without having to worry about being shot at by bandits, rip crews, smugglers or sicarios.

“These smugglers, many of them present in trafficking through my State of Arizona, create false Social Security cards, false green cards, visas and a variety of other fraudulent documents as an essential part of their smuggling activities.” --John Shadegg