Thursday, November 03, 2011

Texas AG: Mexican cartels 'spilling over' border

Texas Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott sent a letter to President Obama on Wednesday warning that Mexican cartel violence is increasingly "spilling over" the border and calling for more security. Abbott cited a "deadly shootout" involving "cartel operatives" last weekend in the town of Elsa, about 250 miles south of San Antonio, in which a Hidalgo County sheriff's deputy was shot three times. Sheriff's officials have said the deputy was wearing a protective vest and is expected to recover. Two suspects were charged Wednesday in connection with the attempted drug deal and kidnapping, a contract job to recover a lost load of marijuana for the Gulf Cartel, according to a KRGV-Rio Grande Valley interview with Hidalgo Sheriff Lupe Trevino. Carlos Zavala and Carlos Juan Hernandez were charged with three counts of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of criminal attempted capital murder. "Thankfully the officer survived, but the Hidalgo County Sheriff confirmed that the shooting spilled over from ongoing drug wars involving the Gulf Cartel in Mexico," Abbott said, noting the shooting was not an isolated incident. During the last two weeks, he said, three "high-level cartel leaders" have been arrested while hiding in Texas. Last week, Border Patrol agents arrested Eudoxio Ramos Garcia, 34, the Gulf Cartel's former plaza boss, or regional commander, in Rio Grande City, according to a newspaper in the border town of McAllen, The Monitor. Ramos had been in Texas only a few days at the time of his arrest and had paid $500 to cross the border illegally because his visa had expired. The day before Ramos' arrest, agents near Santa Maria arrested Jose Luis Zuniga Hernandez, "Comandante Wicho," on a weapons charge, believing he was at one point the plaza boss for Matamoros, across the Rio Grande from the Texas border town of Brownsville, according to The Monitor. The monitor also reported that on Oct. 20, ICE agents arrested Rafael “El Junior” Cardenas Vela, after a traffic stop by Port Isabel police. Cardenas is the nephew of Osiel C├írdenas Guillen, the former Gulf Cartel kingpin extradited to the U.S. in 2006 and sentenced last year to 25 years in a U.S. prison. Abbott listed a number of other incidents earlier this year involving cartel violence along the Texas border, including:

-- In September, a man was killed when "cartel operatives" exchanged gunfire between vehicles driving down a highway in McAllen.

-- In June, drug smugglers in Mexico fired upon Texas law enforcement officers near the border community of Abram.

-- In May, U.S. Border Patrol agents near Mission, Texas, came under fire from across the border.

-- In January, highway workers repairing a road near a known drug-smuggling route were fired upon from the southern side of the border near Fort Hancock.

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