El Pasoans Take Risks to Keep International Bonds

An article found on the KFox14 website brings to light the necessity for El Pasoans to cross the Juarez border:

EL PASO, Texas — The U.S. Department of State is keeping Ciudad Juarez listed as a specific concern for those who need to cross the border, but many El Pasoans need to keep going.

They go for family and businesses, so they make adjustments and take their chances. For some, the price is high.

The familiar border aroma of onion, cilantro and jalapeno rise in Rosemary’s kitchen in El Paso – the same way they once did in her home in Juarez.

“I still imagine myself cooking, cleaning,” she said.

For 17 years, the El Paso-born American rose at 4 a.m. to make the trek back and forth across the international bridge, and she did it all for a man.

“It just gives me a great sadness because I sacrificed so many things. I sacrificed a lot of things being in Juarez,” Rosemary said. I sacrificed family; I sacrificed friends because I wanted to be with the man that I loved.”

Together, the couple built a house from one room and a thriving little enterprise.

“He built his business starting with nothing but a shovel and a little truck,” she said.

While Rosemary commuted to El Paso for her job, her husband worked seven days a week building their future.

Then, in 2009, cartel violence consumed the city.

“A lot of my husband’s friends who had the same types of businesses had all been killed already,” she said.

Rosemary’s extortion nightmare began and everything about the couple’s future was threatened.

“That put our life, his life, the life of our family in danger,” Rosemary said.

The couple starting handing over $200 a week from his business.

“I begged him and I pleaded with him to move here to El Paso and he refused. He said he was not going to give in to anybody and that he came to this life with nothing, and he was going to leave with nothing,” Rosemary said.

The nightmare went on for a year, and then, the extortionists wanted more.

“The day that he was shot, I was at my job here in El Paso and they told me that they had shot someone inside the business of my husband. It was all over the news,” she said.

In an instant, Rosemary’s husband’s life was over. Her life was over and she knew it. In a matter of hours, with the help of family in El Paso, Rosemary packed up everything she could and moved back home.

American business owners by the dozens would follow suit.

“It was us, it was our neighbors, our neighbor got shut down for a year, and then, our neighbor next to him – they assaulted him twice,” said Luis Gallegos, who owns a staffing company.

In 2009, an extortion threat arrived at the door step of Arias and Associates, Gallegos’ company.

“I got a call in the afternoon, we were right here and they called us that all our employees are locked in,” Gallegos said. “They wouldn’t let them out because the federal police had just gotten executed a just 10 feet from our door.”

Soon after, the Gallegos family would be trapped in a gun battle while stuck in Juarez traffic. Their teenage son witnessed a man shot to death by automatic gun fire.

“We were panicked,” Gallegos said. “We were shocked, but our employees were like, ‘Well, it happened to me when I worked over there at the liquor store.’”

But they were not so cavalier about cartel crime. Their thriving staffing business provided a workforce to some of the 150 “maquiladoras” (factories) in Juarez, and it immediately went into stealth mode.

“The business, everything, is all being handled over the phone,” said Hossana Gallegos, Luis’ wife and business partner.

Luis said that they would not conduct business at night and would avoid staying late in the afternoon.

“If we go, we don’t even call our employees,” Hossana Gallegos said. “We don’t tell them that we are going to be there.”

Hossana and Luis, who are Americans, operate their business in Juarez as though they are phantoms. They are doing as many Americans commuting to Juarez now must do. They drive modest cars and constantly change their routines.

Although security measures are not openly discussed, these business owners say it’s an adjustment being made by all, including maquiladoras.

“You see a lot of increase to the security,” Luis Gallegos said. “They’re shutting streets down. The access to the plants is more difficult.

The Mexican chamber of commerce reports more than 10,000 businesses have shut down since 2009.

It’s unclear how many of those businesses were American-owned, but Mexican business owners by the hundreds have sought refuge relocating to the U.S. side of the border. Most of them move their businesses revenue to the states.

They represent a growing social and professional network that meets at a restaurant on a regular basis.

Statistics from the state department show that there may be no going back to a prosperous pre-cartel Juarez anytime soon.

The state department warnings remain in place in Juarez calling it a specific concern.

The number of non-immigrant visas to the United States has increased steadily since 2009 and continues to rise. State department numbers show Juarez has one of the highest murder rates in Mexico.

Immigration and human rights attorneys representing those seeking asylum in the United States agree that safety remains a rapidly deteriorating concept in Mexico despite what its politicians push to the public.

Meanwhile, Americans trying to run their business with one foot in each country wistfully wish for days past before commuting got crazy.

“I would still commute every day, but it was not the same as before. I would always have to look behind my back. My husband would always be waiting for me as soon as I left for home and would lock the gates as soon as possible,” Rosemary said.

There seems to be no predictability factor as to whether Juarez can ever return to the days before blood began running in the streets.

“I was happy living in Juarez; I had everything I needed around me,” Rosemary said. “I had a Sams, Walmart, and all the stores.”

Those in El Paso creating a booming bi-national community on the border say they are adjusting.

“As soon as you crossed the border, you would see the soldier and then there was one after the other, patrols, the trucks,” Luis Gallegos said. “They would pull you over, and you don’t see that so much anymore. And oddly, you feel safer now.”

As far as the economic impact in El Paso is concerned, given the businesses and business people and families who have moved here from Juarez, every indicator from numbers gathered by the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation show that all the stability and growth of the city’s economy is coming from our military base, and not from beyond the border.

El Paso Attorney Linked to Mexico’s Drug Cartels

This story found in the Latin American Herald Tribune just goes to show that enablers are required on both sides:

EL PASO, Texas – A local attorney remains in federal custody following his Friday arrest by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) regarding allegations of money laundering for a Mexican drug cartel.

Marco Antonio Delgado, 46, was arrested last Friday at an El Paso restaurant. He is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.

An El Paso-area attorney, Delgado is named in a federal indictment charging that between July 2007 through December 2008, in the Western District of Texas, he conspired with other individuals to launder money believed to be drug trafficking proceeds.

According to the investigation, Delgado is linked to a drug cartel based in Guadalajara, Mexico, and accused of conspiring to launder more than $600 million.

Dennis A. Ulrich, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso, said: “Drug cartels operate solely on the basis of greed. However, when they can also corrupt trusted authorities, the integrity and stability of both countries’ financial infrastructure may be at risk.”

Delgado had his initial appearance in federal court Nov. 5. His preliminary and detention hearing is set for Nov. 8. If convicted, Delgado faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

This HSI investigation was coordinated by HSI El Paso’s financial group and the HSI-led Southwest Border Financial Operations and Currency United Strike Force (FOCUS).

FOCUS was created to detect and target a wide variety of financial crimes in west Texas and the state of New Mexico. This multi-agency financial strike force includes the following agencies: HSI, Internal Revenue Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission. FOCUS works closely with the U.S. attorney’s office, ICE’s Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, and the U.S. Secret Service.

Each participating agency uses its unique law enforcement authorities to enhance the capabilities of the strike force. FOCUS investigates the following financial crimes: money laundering, mortgage and bank fraud, structuring, unlicensed money transmitting businesses/couriers, and bulk cash smuggling.

El Sicario Room 164 showing at Fountain Theater, Mesilla, Saturday May 5

Film update: El Sicario at Fountain; PCFF forms film club, adds ‘Rocky
Horror’

The *Fountain Theatre* in Mesilla will screen *”El Sicario, Room 164″* the
El Paso-made documentary about a former Juarez cartel hit man, at 1 and
3:30 p.m. May 5.

Las Cruces’ *Molly Molloy*, co-author of the book “El Sicario,” will be on
hand, theater staff says.

Her co-author, *Charles Bowden*, may also appear. He’s written several
books on the border and is co-producer of the film.

“There are NO scenes of violence in the 85-minute film,” the theater’s *Jeff
Berg* said in a press release. “It is a fascinating monologue by the man in
the mask.”

*Variety* called the film, directed by Gianfranco Rosi, as “a minimalist
study in maximum violence.”

Tickets are $6, $5 for Mesilla Valley Film Society.

Theater officials suggest early arrival since the village will be having
Cinco de Mayo festivities nearby.

For more, click here

3 people killed yesterday in Juarez; 16 so far in April

Three people were killed yesterday in El Paso, two in a multiple shooting
that injured another person.  Earlier in the day, the naked body of a man,
his hands bound and head wrapped in tape, was found inside an abandoned
building. This brings the total for the month of April to about 16.   molly

 

Juarez residents inject thousands of dollars into El Paso political campaigns

Based on the campaign donation database at OpenSecrets.org, El Diario de El Paso reports on contributions from wealthy Juarenses with dual nationality to Texas political campaigns thru PACS AND SUPERPACS. A google translation is posted below…

Story by Lorena Figueroa

To view Google translation, click here

El Paso woman, Cynthia Gutierrez, murdered Tuesday in Juarez shooting

In the original story on this from El Diario on Feb 28 posted below, the murder victim was not identified. A story from today mentions the TV report and the identity of the El Paso victim. I did not see mention of this El Paso woman’s murder in the El Paso Times or other local media.
Family Seeking Help, Answers After El Paso Mother Killed In Juarez

Followup report on child wounded in police shooting, KHOU 11 and El Diario

An article in El Diario states that Sonia Tapia and her son
have left Juarez. The boy is in a hospital in El Paso and the family
does not plan to return to Juarez, in part due to fear of reprisals.
The article says that many other victims of violence would like to
leave Mexico but are unable to. Sonia Tapia and her son are US
citizens.

Juarez police officers investigated after shooting at American motherand child