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 Frontera NorteSur
March 2000

 TODAY'S NEWS (Updated Every Weekday)


Wednesday, March 22, 2000: Local Farmer Tries To Control Public Irrigation

A farmer from the northern Chihuahua area accidentally flooded neighbors' homes, yesterday, when trying to direct irrigation waters to his own farm. Several houses in the the colonia El Papalote and Satélite, near Kilometer 6, experienced flooding in their patios.

Héctor Chávez, a local farmer, tried to increase the level of water directed toward his land, according to Ramón Lucero Garay, captain of the local fire department. "He blocked the water passage with boards which ended up causing an underflow," Garay explained. This underflow showed up in the yards of residents who alerted the fire department.

According to El Diario, this flooding came as quite a surprise because residents had recently been warned that there would be obstruction of the irrigation ditches when some area construction projects began. But residents had protested this plan to the National Water Commission (CNA) knowing that on Friday, March 17, the U.S. would start pumping 74 million cubic meters of water through the Rio Grand (Río Bravo) as part of an binational annual irrigation agreement.

The CNA brought the complaint before the federal attorney general, and channels were created to avoid accidents and floods during the construction. So when the water entered residents' property, they didn't understand what had transpired, until the fire department investigated.

The fire department assisted Chávez in returning the system to its previous alignment.

And, as is typical when water is released into the system, people are warned to stay out of the river and irrigation channels because of the unpredictability of water flow.

Source: El Diario

Tuesday, March 21, 2000: El Paso Border Patrol Says "No Link" Between Incursion, Bounty

Juárez newspaper El Diario claimed today that the Mexican soldiers who crossed into New Mexico March 14 and allegedly fired shots at U.S. Border Patrol agents did not do so accidentally. According to Joseph Dassaro, vice president of the Union of Border Patrol Agents in San Diego, "The drug trafficking war is intensifying and this incident was related to the bounty."

Over a month ago, U.S. and Mexican news media reported that one of the Mexican drug cartels was offering a bounty of $200,000 to anyone who killed a U.S. federal agent.

However, Doug Mosier, spokesman for the U.S. Border Patrol in El Paso, told FNS that "There is no link whatsoever between the events of that night and the bounty." Mosier added that he was curious that the office in San Diego would have any opinion on the matter.
Source: El Diario

Monday, March 20, 2000: Gang Leader Is "Most Wanted Man" On The Border

José Raul Ortiz, alias "El Quincy," leader of the Juárez gang, Los Ortizes, became the most wanted man on the border according to police authorities. Chihuahua state police (PJE) believe he has been responsible for several murders in recent years. The general director of the PJE, Ricardo Zamora Apan, said that the police intend to break up Los Ortizes just as they broke up another city gang, La Fresas.

Ortiz is wanted for the execution of his cousin and former leader of the gang, Arturo Ortiz Holgúin, alias "El Padrino." The PJE says it considers the death a narco-execution, as the gang is alleged to be involved in drug trafficking.

Police also allege that Ortiz has executed at least three other men in his drive to become leader of the gang, which has operated in Ciudad Juárez and El Paso since the mid-1980's. However, Ortiz does not enjoy the full support of the gang, and police have obtained addresses and other information concerning Ortiz from members who consider him to be a "traitor."

PJE officials say that Los Ortizes was one of the first local gangs to "specialize in dealing drugs and running guns." By the mid-1990's, the gang began working as assassins and debt collectors for drug sales.

Source: El Diario


Friday, March 17, 2000: More Youths Involved In Illegal Drug Business

According to a report in today's El Diario de Cd. Juárez, the number of Mexican minors involved in the business of transporting illegal drugs has increased 10 times in the last three years according to Cd. Juárez Police Chief Javier Benavides González.

The Juvenile Probation Department in El Paso reported that there have been 43 minors arrested so far this year for trafficking illegal drugs, ten less than were arrested in 1999. The majority of the youths arrested, according to the U.S. authorities are from the middle class.

"The increase of minors getting involved in drug trafficking is due to the lack of parental guidance and peer pressure," Benavides said. "It is a problem that affects many families, a problem of education."

The major drug traffickers recruit the younger dealers in schools, dance halls, and shopping centers. The possible adventure, risk and the quick money are the factors that influence the decision of the city's youth.

Source: El Diario

Thursday, March 16, 2000: Mexican Soldiers Enter U.S. Accidentally

Two Mexican military trucks entered the United States on Tuesday night near Santa Teresa, New Mexico. The military personnel did not know they had crossed the border, according to U.S. Border Patrol officials. Although two fires were shot by one of the Mexican military vehicles that returned to México, no one was injured.

At 10:30 pm on Tuesday night, two Mexican military trucks entered the U.S. near the Santa Teresa Border crossing and were stopped by U.S. Border Patrol. After the Patrol explained that they had entered U.S. territory, one of the trucks returned to México, but fired shots once it had crossed the border. The other truck remained in the U.S. and all nine soldiers surrendered to the Patrol. They were all later released with the their truck and their canine unit.

The soldiers are believed to be part of an anti-drug force. The spokesperson for the Mexican Consul General in El Paso apologized saying that "The incident was accidental and due to poor border markers." According El Paso Times, Doug Mosier, spokesperson for the Patrol, said the border is designated by barbed-wire cattle fence and widely spaced land markers.

Source: El Diario, El Paso Times

Wednesday, March 15, 2000: Hundreds Of U.S. Kids Spend Spring Break Helping Cd. Juárez Residents

A group of young students are spending their spring break in Cd. Juárez this week helping build brick houses for colonia residents who have been living in buildings made of cardboard boxes and other discarded materials. El Ministerio del Amor (the Love Ministry), the nondenominational NGO the volunteers work for, hopes to build 70 houses in different parts of the city.

The group originated in San Diego in 1980 by Steve Jolly, director, and now has members across the U.S. in many states including the border states of Texas and New Mexico. "We help people that live in cardboard houses. We help by giving them a place to live that will not fall apart in bad weather," said Jolly.

The houses the group builds consist of two or three rooms, depending on the size of the family, and are constructed with wood, cement, wire and strong roofing materials. The cost of each home is approximately U.S. $200 to $1,700 and depends on the size and the location. The homes in more mountainous areas are more expensive.

The plan for the year 2,000 is to build a total of 150 houses in Cd. Juárez.

Source: El Diario

Tuesday, March 14, 2000: Clinton Response "Encouraging," Says Elizondo

United States government agencies will stop using the phrase "Juárez Cartel," according to a letter sent by U.S. President Bill Clinton to Juárez Mayor Gustavo Elizondo. Juárez newspaper El Diario reported that Elizondo was "visibly emotional" as he discussed Clinton's letter in a press conference. "This is very encouraging news as we work on the project of vindicating the name of Juárez," he said. "I appreciate the gracefulness that President Clinton showed in responding to the municipal president of Juárez."

On January 14, Elizondo sent letters to Clinton, U.S. newspaper publishers, the FBI, the DEA, U.S. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey and others in which he denounced the use of the phrase "Juárez Cartel" and the negative way the city was being portrayed. President Clinton was the first U.S. official to respond to Elizondo.

The President's letter read, in part, "I respect your strong desire to protect the good name of your city . . . I will personally ask the agencies of the government of the United States to identify criminal investigations and drug trafficking groups by other references."

Elizondo has suggested that the cartel be referred to as the "Carrillo Fuentes Cartel," based on the fact that the organization was formerly run by Amado Carrillo Fuentes, who died July 4, 1997.

Source: El Diario


Monday, March 13, 2000: 18-Year-Old El Paso Woman Found Dead

The body of Sophia Martinez, an 18-year-old senior at Burges High School in El Paso, who had been reported missing since Friday night, March 10, was found Sunday in Northeast El Paso. Police believe Martinez died from head injuries. According to the El Paso Times, there was no evidence of sexual assault, but an autopsy was ordered.

Family members said Sophia Martinez was headed for a popular downtown El Paso nightclub Friday night to meet friends and possibly a blind date. Police and family are not certain if she arrived at the club. She did not return home, and her red 2000 Pontiac Grand Am was found in the New Mexico desert Saturday, several miles north of where her body was located Sunday.

The El Paso Times reported that about 100 of High School's 1,406 students sought support from six school counselors on Monday.

Source: El Paso Times


Friday, March 10, 2000: Another Alleged Narco Execution In Cd. Juárez

The body of a National Institute of Geography and Statistics Information (INEGI) employee was found yesterday morning by police officials in a vacant lot near a residence owned by alleged drug lords according to the Mexican Federal Police (PGR) officials. This marks the third murder in Cd. Juárez this week.

The body was identified as Vicente Varela Vásquez, 19, who worked for INEGI and was last seen alive Wednesday night. Vásquez was strangled, bound with duct tape, and found wrapped in a blanket near the vacant lot.

According to the autopsy, Vásquez had his hands, feet, and face duct-taped. Vásquez' body also showed signs of being tortured; there was an abdominal wound however, there was no evidence indication if the wound occurred before or after Vásquez died.

The Mexican Federal Police reported that this murder is similar to those of Arturo Hernández, "El Chucky," also referred to as "El Chaqui." This murderer was allegedly one of the late Amado Carrillo Fuentes' top assassins, and was an expert in murdering his victims in this fashion and was believed to operate along the border.

Source: El Diario

Thursday, March 9, 2000: Cd. Juárez Celebrates International Women's Day

In a number of different events around the border city, women in Cd. Juárez celebrated International Women's day yesterday in a unified effort to identify the role of women. Citizens, non-governmental organizations, civic leaders and politicians commemorated this special occasion.

Josefina Rodríguez Olivas, director of the event, described the celebration as a forum "to bring the message to all women in Cd. Juárez, no matter their class, profession or age, they must know the rights that they have."

Suly Ponce Prieto, special investigator of the murders of women for the State of Chihuahua, spoke for the importance of violence prevention.

Alicia Matus Calzadilla, psychologist, said, "You can do anything that you want to do as long as you remain positive and think through all that you need to do to accomplish your goals."

Additionally, state health service representatives made speeches on the importance of preventative health practices and emphasized the importance of open family communication.

Pamphlets were available along with the panel discussions and the drama, poetry and musical performances. The majority of activities happened on the downtown Plaza De Armas. Events will continue through the weekend.

Source: El Diario

Wednesday, March 8, 2000: "There's Still Hope" For Victims Of Violence

As part of many events celebrating International Women's Day, the Casa Amiga Crisis Center in Cd. Juárez presented a new anti-violence publicity campaign yesterday called "Existe Esperanza," (There's Still Hope). The campaign will work to prevent emotional, physical and psychological abuse against women from all walks of life.

"The prevention campaign will bring attention to the work that Casa Amiga does," said Mónica Alicia Juárez, education and culture director of the Center. The Center opened over a year ago in Cd. Juárez and assists women and children who are victims of violence. The center is one of four such centers in all of México.

The prevention campaign will include letters, television commercials, the internet and radio announcements. "There is more than rage, more than sadness, more than terror, there is hope," says one of the radio ads. The campaign focuses on the importance of not keeping secrets about violent occurrences and that witnesses should speak up.

"This campaign will work toward prevention," said Esther Chávez Cano, Center director. "We assist the victims, however, if we don't prevent the violence, we will never eradicate the problem."

Source: El Diario

Tuesday, March 7, 2000: El Paso Mayor Refuses To Apologize To Cd. Juárez

The mayor of El Paso, Texas, Carlos Ramirez, has refused to publicly apologize to Cd. Juárez for blaming the city for responsibility in the deaths of five El Paso teens who died in a car accident after partying in Cd. Juárez. Although toxicology reports indicated there was alcohol in some of the teens' blood, none of them were legally drunk including the driver, according to Texas law.

Immediately after the January 12 tragic car wreck, Ramirez demanded that Cd. Juárez change drinking laws to keep underage U.S. citizens from partying in the city where it is legal to drink at the age of 18. Chihuahua Governor Patricio Martínez has proposed to Congress to alter current alcohol laws in Cd. Juárez, however, no action has been taken. Meanwhile, Cd. Juárez business owners have highly criticized the El Paso mayor for giving their city a bad name.

City business owners publicly demanded an apology on March 1 because Ramirez had said that Cd. Juárez bars had allowed these teens to drink illegally. Bar owners claim that they carefully monitor the drinking of young people, and are more apt to promote music and dance specials and not drink specials as Ramirez had complained.

Source: El Diario

Monday, March 6, 2000: Environmental Agency Demands Waste Accountability

Mexico's environmental agency, Profepa, announced yesterday that they will sanction four Cd. Juárez industrial businesses that are unable to account for the location of toxic waste that was sent out of the plants.

María del Pilar Leal, spokesperson for Profepa, said that according to the agency's investigations, "the waste could have gone to inappropriate locations." Profepa conducted investigations, and 80 percent of the businesses had irregularities, which, according to Leal, might be acceptable on an initial investigation, but these numbers are too high. Investigations were performed randomly and began approximately a month ago.

Businesses that deal in toxic waste must be able to account for what waste actually leaves the plant, what transport company removes it and what its final destination is. The companies being sanctioned were not able to provide a complete paper trail.

The fine for these companies, not named in the El Diario article, will be anywhere from 20 to 20 thousand minimum wage salaries, which is a typical form of administering fines in México.

Source: El Diario


Friday, March 3, 2000: Customs Cracks Down On Re-Introducing Tobacco Products

The U.S. Customs Service in El Paso announced that steep fines and penalties will go into effect immediately against anyone re-introducing tobacco products into the U.S. that have already been exported. Fines could reach up to U.S. $1,000 and vehicles used to import the products may be confiscated for as little as one cigarette.

According to Roger Maier, spokesperson for Customs in El Paso, "The cigarettes that are made in the U.S., and are then sold tax free, are the products we are restricting." Maier said that all tobacco products that were previously exported must be declared at Customs, and there are no exceptions. The products will be destroyed by Customs officials, and travelers will receive a receipt.

Customs inspectors across the country will begin inspecting for tobacco products under this new act "Restrictions on the importation of tobacco products that have been previously exported," under Customs law 26 U.S.C. 5754.

For further information, Maier recommends visiting the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire Arms (ATF) website at www.atf.treas.gov.

Source: El Diario

Thursday, March 2, 2000: Martínez Reinforces Zero Tolerance Plan

Chihuahua's Governor Patricio Martínez announced yesterday that he will reinforce his Zero Tolerance plan, originally initiated at the beginning of his term in October of 1998. The governor says he will permanently close bars that have a record of problems that effect the community including selling liquor after hours.

"This effort will include all of those places where dangerous incidents have happened, and we will not only suspend their license or charge a fine, but we will permanently close them," the governor said at Tuesday's Security Conference in Cd. Juárez.

The measure will be preventative and detain crime, the governor said, and there will be a special security force, or sting operation, developed to patrol bars and clubs.

Additionally, the governor is further enforcing his Zero Tolerance plan with efforts against bank robberies and car theft.

Source: El Diario

Wednesday, March 1, 2000: Federal Police Begin Renewed Anti-Drug Effort

Yesterday, three levels of government officials met and initiated a plan to fight drug trafficking that will place the Federal Preventative Police at the Abraham González International Airport in Cd. Juárez to help turn around the drug-related crime wave that has hit the state of Chihuahua and Cd. Juárez. The plan goes into effect today.

The announcement was made by the federal secretary Adiódoro Carrasco Altamirano at the Second State Congressional Session on Public Security. The Mexican Attorney General Jorge Madrazo Cuéllar, Governor Patricio Martínez García and Mayor Gustavo Elizondo Aguilar were all present for the announcement along with a host of other security officials from all levels of government involved, including federal, military, state and municipal.

Additionally, the "Confidence Control Unit" will be developed, which will oversee the selection of security officers and periodically evaluate the security forces.

The session finished with a 14 point agreement that may effect the border region in the near future. The agreement included federal appropriation of U.S. $245,000 which will be divided among federal and state forces to fight public insecurity. Programs to improve computer and telephone technology were also agreed upon.

Source: El Diario