Drug Smuggling Twist: Innocent Mexicans Allegedly Duped By Mennonite Suspect…Fronteras Desk

It is seldom that we see reports from the rural parts of the border and this one gives a small taste of what things are like and how a lot of drugs get into the US–through the ports of entry. I was also struck by this statement from the young Mexican man who was tricked into driving the drugs across:
“They treated me well in the U.S.,” he said in Spanish. “No one pressured me, no one attacked me. I have nothing against the U.S. prosecutors or police.”
The subtext: Had he been arrested IN Mexico, the police or army would have beaten and tortured a confession from him.  Also, the men caught in this scheme and deported back to Mexico are very fearful to be identified because they would be targeted by the smugglers and their suppliers for failing to deliver their product in the US.  -Molly
Lorne Matalon | Fronteras

CHIHUAHUA, Mexico —Federal prosecutors in Texas and New Mexico are dealing with a series of unusual cases.

Ten drug smuggling crimes have been traced to a man from a Mennonite community in Mexico who is alleged to have duped the victims.

The seduction starts with a classified ad in the paper, one that 23-year-old named Juan was drawn to. He asks that his last name not be revealed; he’s frightened there may be retribution if the man who placed the ad — identified by U.S. attorneys and the victims as David Giesprecht Fehr — finds him.

The ad reads, “Si tienes visa laser recienmente americano, contratación inmediata.” Translated, “If you have a recent U.S. visa known as a laser visa, there’s immediate work available.”

The man who placed the ad is from the Ciudad Cuauhtémoc area, a 40,000-strong Mennonite community of ranchers and farmers in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua.

They’re members of a conservative Christian church with European roots. Mennonites were invited by Mexico’s post-revolutionary government to settle here in the 1920s in part to populate Mexico’s border twith the United States.

The Mennonites in Chihuahua today trace their ancestry to Canada, and prior to that Germany and the Netherlands.

Juan answered the ad. And a man called back.

“The man said ‘I’ll pay you $500 a week to drive my truck to the U.S. and back,’” Juan was making $70 a week as a security guard.

The would-be employer, David Giesbrecht Fehr, goes by different aliases and imports American farm equipment. It’s now alleged he ran narcotics.

Mennonites enjoy a deserved reputation as prolific farmers and ranchers. This image was taken near Casas Grandes, Chihuahua where Mennonites have made the desert bloom.

He pitches non-Mennonite Mexicans who respond to his ad by saying that he imports farm equipment from the United States.

What he allegedly did not add is that the trucks he gave people to enter the U.S. with were loaded with large quantities of marijuana.

Juan thought the job offer was too good to be true. The caller was offering to quadruple his salary and give Juan steady work with health benefits.

So he told the caller he needed time to consider the offer.

The same offer was made to Juan’s father. They discussed it together. The father declined while Juan accepted, to his enduring dismay.

Liz Rogers was the federal defender in West Texas whose office represented Juan and five other Mexicans. The other three were arrested crossing into New Mexico.

“Whenever the person that is a Mennonite that the government has identified, whenever he showed up he could talk to them very professionally over exporting and importing farm equipment,” Rogers said. “And so it would be no wonder that they’d believe it was a legitimate job.”

It was anything but. When Juan hit the Texas border at Presidio, a customs agent told him to get out of the truck.

“They didn’t tell me what was happening,” he said in Spanish. Then another customs officer approached.

The officer said a DEA agent would explain everything. When that agent arrived, the conversation continued.

A Mennonite father and son at work in a field near Casas Grandes, Chihuahua.

“Are you carrying drugs?” the agent asked Juan. ‘Absolutely not,’ he replied. He couldn’t digest what he heard next.

“The DEA agent told me I had 57 kilograms (125 pounds) of marijuana in the gas tank,” Juan related. “I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breathe.”

Rogers says one of the cases showed how sophisticated the operation was.

“The marijuana was hidden very professionally in an I-beam,” she recounted. “It was welded into the I-beam of this big flatbed. And the government found it is because there’s x-ray equipment that can find very well hidden marijuana.”

At least seven of the people allegedly duped by Giesprecht, including Juan, live near a cluster of Mennonite villages near Ciudad Cuauhtémoc located about 60 miles southwest of the state capital, Ciudad de Chihuahua.

One non-Mennonite I spoke with outside Ciudad Cuauhtémoc — a man who says he greatly who respects the Mennonite culture — says his neighbors are hard-working farmers. But he says there are exceptions.

“They plant corn. Sometimes plant some marijuana too,” he said in English.

For Juan, arrested with 125 pounds of drugs, and the others in New Mexico and Texas, the prospect of serious jail time was real. But as evidence tied to David Giesbrecht Fehr mounted, the state of New Mexico dismissed all the cases.

In Texas, three defendants were allowed to plead guilty to time served and immediately deported. The defendants’ visas were revoked, and that revocation lasts for three years.

A man drives a cotton harvester on a Mennonite farm near Lopez Mateos, Chihuahua.

As a practical matter, however, none of the now-former defendants will find it easy to return to the United States, even for a visit with family. Juan, for example has aunts and cousins in Denver and Los Angleles.

If Juan to present himself at a border crossing, a computer check of his documents would show that he faced serious drug charges and accepted a plea deal which included immediate deportation.

But Juan’s just happy to be home.

“They treated me well in the U.S.,” he said in Spanish. “No one pressured me, no one attacked me. I have nothing against the U.S. prosecutors or police.”

The alleged drug trafficker, David Giesprecht Fehr, remains at-large. (Lorne Matalon / FRONTERAS)

For Days and Days

An email from Jose (a former gang-banger) found on the Frontera List Google Groups site:

Molly I wrote to mr houseworth this. We won, yayyyhhhh!. Can you post this? Jose.

From my phone.

—-Forwarded Message—-
From: joeriv…@yahoo.com
To: ghi…@icgpartners.com
Sent: Sat, Nov 10, 2012 10:14 AM CST
Subject: for days and days.

guten morgen, Gordon.
being from that culture i know exactly the mind set of the active participants in this war. (have you noticed that in this theater of war there are no claims to post traumatic stress disorder).and i can also empathize with the unwilling participants. whether they be connected to crime because their relative is a gang-member or as they see themselves “warrior”. armies were invented not for protection but to improve ones own economy. off course the stronger armies have always ruled the world. but here it is something else entirely. these men and women are just more enthusiastic about getting rich. no one does is for the fun, (except the psychos, the really scary ones. i get in their head sometimes and i see the horrors perpetrated on their victims, it is very scary.  the majority do it because of the money and a false sense of pride that what they are doing is for the good of the community. i grew up in those places where if your are a bad kid you are
noticed and a lot of people start to respect you, but is that respect that is out of fear, not for good deeds, although some are considered saints. i was considered a wise guy by everyone and that because i was always the smartest guy in the room. there were smarter wise guys than me but i never let them they were. it was still a mutual respect though we were all tough guys. and we took care of each other. that’s how we grew strong and conquered the texas prison system and then the city of el paso, texas. then juarez and ports unknown. under my direction. not in business but in mentally training an army. not the one you see today. no one killed to get in and no should die to get out. those were my rules. i let soldiers go because they were trying to improve themselves. a couple of them had moms that had the temerity to seek me out and beg that her son be let out. the son was more scared of disappointing me than anything. one of the moms was hot and she
liked me. but i would give the talk. “you cant come back cause you cant be in and out. i going to make sure people help you if you need our help but just to help you along a better way. we all want to find that path but we are on this one. it’s the right path for now. and most of them became better citizens and dads. i am glad and grateful that could help people like this. my people knew that i genuinely cared about them and i and had proved it in the joint and out here, they knew by word of mouth that i was in the business of taking care of business. or as we say “beesnes”.  no one had ever done this. the underworld had a deep respect for me, juarez and el paso and pretty much everywhere i traveled. we respect our criminals if they are daring, a mexican buccaneer if you will. i know how they think. especially the bad guys. i’m grateful i became one of the good guys. i didn’t need followers. i didn’t acolytes, nor servants, soldiers or addicts. most of
these men could’ve been been special forces soldiers. they would all kill for me but i never availed myself of that service. i liked to take care of my brush fires myself. i was good with my hands and feet. i have a street taught black belt. i like to call it street-fu. when i turned fifty i trained for a cage fight in iowa, i fought one whole round with one arm. i dislocated my shoulder with the first punch. it was an anomaly in and otherwise sterling street fighter reputation. i would cross the border into juarez to beat people up. now juarez is very bad mojo for me. after the reporter incident. i didnt go there to hurt him. i went there for these two strippers who were going home with me and my buddy. the guy disrespect the girls and i stabbed him with my buck. anyway, i got beat up but i didn’t tap out. they stopped it. i learned to be humble after that and lose the rest of my arrogance. this runs in the narco’s veins. the good lord deemed fit to
give me a body that i could turn into a weapon. that how i rose to the top of my game in the underworld. deep down inside somewhere in my nether regions, was the me i am today. i needed leaders.all those positive roll models that i looked up to in my formative years who helped me put the jigsaw together that was to be me today. the are all part of the dream that i now live. it was never a nightmare. it’s all just part of the dream that carries us across an untold number of thresh holds till we get it right. they were part of my healing. i am a violent man living in a pacifist’s body. i have dismembered and fantasized about commiting terrible acts on my enemy’s and it’s almost always as an aztec warrior. i just never saw the need. it’s a different story now. when i left, el chapo ruled juarez and we were all the better for it. no one was dying. if you lost a load. too bad. there was more where that came from. carrillo fuentes was in charge in juarez and
all was well. they were recruiting aztecas. they knew who i was and i let my guys work for them. i just wanted my free heroin and cocaine. and if saw someone on the street selling i would shake them down and tell them it’s for tax purposes. the narco’s didn’t’ mind. i was cheap. i never got greedy. thats why i am still alive. i did this one job, (if i tell you, i have to kill-you type of deal). my friend wanted more loot. i told him we had enough, but he went back and never saw him again. alive i mean. i booked it and no one except God and me the wiser. you know something? i am now in better physical shape than i was ever in my gang banging years.

auf weidershein….
jose