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Customs agents in Texas find men in fuel tank

Pronews 7 file photo

EAGLE PASS, TEXAS (AP) – Federal agents say they have found six men hidden in a pickup truck fuel tank at an immigration checkpoint in South Texas.

 U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities said Tuesday that the men were found last week in a 2007 Dodge flatbed truck traveling from Mexico to Eagle Pass. The truck was searched after a police dog alerted authorities. The men were found in the truck’s diesel auxiliary tank.

 The men are between 19 and 50 years old. Three are from Mexico, two are from El Salvador ……read more.

ValleyCentral.com 

Customs agents seize marijuana at Texas border

 Pronews 7 file photo

EL PASO, TEXAS (AP) – Federal authorities have arrested a West Texas man who they say tried to cross the U.S. border with nearly 150 pounds of marijuana hidden in his car bumper.

 U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say the 25-year-old from El Paso was arrested over the weekend at the Paso Del Norte Bridge while entering Texas from Mexico…..Read more!

 ValleyCentral.com

Smuggler Caught with $1.5 Million in Drugs

Photo: KRGV

MADERO – U.S. Border Patrol agents, working near Madero Thursday night, spotted two people running north from the river.

The smugglers then dropped their bags and attempted to flee to Mexico.

Agents caught one of the smugglers, but the other made it to Mexico. Inside the backpacks, agents found 22 bricks of cocaine.

Read more here.

KRGV

Border Patrol Agents Save Man’s Life

Photo: KRVG

PENITAS – U.S. Border patrol agents from the Rio Grande Valley Sector saved a man’s life Thursday.

Agents were patrolling the Rio Grande by boat near Penitas when fishermen on the Mexican side caught the agent’s attention and frantically waved up-river.

As the Border Patrol boat rounded the bend, agents saw one man make it back to Mexico and another man struggling to stay afloat…..read more.

KRVG

High Speed Chase Ends in Drug Bust

Photo :.foxrio2.com

Two subjects are in custody tonight after leading police on a high-speed chase that ended in a drug-bust.

According to border patrol spokesperson, Oscar Saldaña the two-vehicle chase ended near FM-88 and mi. 12-and-a-half in the city of Weslaco around 2-pm.

Saldaña confirmed to Fox 2 News, the detention of two Mexican nationals at the scene.

Other assisting agencies were HSI, ICE, Hidalgo County Constable Precinct One, and the Pharr Police Department.

During the incident homeland security investigators were able to seize an unknown number of narcotics.

Both vehicles involved in the pursuit were seized by constable officers and the Pharr Police Department. We’re told that both undocumented immigrants……..read more here

KFXV-LD channel 67 is a Fox-affiliated station in McAllen, Texas, owned by Entravision Communications

Some faith, business leaders back gay marriage in Texas

Photo: File

Religious leaders, major corporations, mental health experts and a host of others are urging a federal appeals court to eliminate Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage, calling it state-sanctioned discrimination that harms families and perpetuates bigotry.

Supporters of same-sex marriage have deluged the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals with 27 friend-of-the-court briefs, many attacking points made by social and religious conservatives who had filed a similar spate of briefs last month because of an earlier deadline.

The vigorous debate gained added urgency when the 5th Circuit Court announced last week that the same three-judge panel will hear cases from Texas, where the same-sex marriage ban was struck down in February, and Louisiana, where a federal judge recently upheld a similar law.

On an issue bound for the U.S. Supreme Court, the 5th Circuit will be the only body to examine same-sex marriage from both perspectives.

In the Texas case, one of the recently submitted briefs — signed by 36 corporations — argued that Texas’ ban on gay marriage is bad for business.

Another, signed by 240 religious leaders, disputed claims that same-sex marriage would violate the religious liberty of faiths that oppose the unions. If the courts allow gay couples to unite in civil marriages, no religion would be forced to change doctrine or practice, they told the court.

“All religions would remain free — as they are today with 19 states and the District of Columbia permitting same-sex couples to marry — to define religious marriage any way they choose,” the leaders wrote. “All faith groups could continue to withhold spiritual blessing from any marriages and indeed bar those entering into them from being congregants at all.”

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia overturned Texas’ prohibition on gay marriage in February, but he allowed Texas to continue enforcing its ban while the state’s appeal proceeds.

But while the 5th Circuit Court has charted a leisurely path for the case — oral arguments have not yet been set, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s final brief is due Oct. 10 — three other federal appeals courts have overturned similar bans in five states.

The U.S. Supreme Court will meet in a private conference Monday to decide whether to accept any or all of the cases out of Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana and Wisconsin.

Texas still has time to join what could be a landmark case, and the 5th Circuit Court — which includes Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi — offers an intriguing scenario with conflicting rulings to review:

• Garcia, who sits in San Antonio, found the Texas ban unconstitutional, ruling that it relegates gay couples to “second-tier status” and demeans their dignity for no legitimate reason.

• Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans said same-sex marriage, a relatively new concept, isn’t a fundamental right. In preserving Louisiana’s ban on same-sex unions, Feldman also said the state had an interest in encouraging the formation of families with two biological parents, which he said offer more benefits for children.

Prior to Feldman’s decision, 21 federal judges across the nation had ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.

Last week, the 5th Circuit Court put Louisiana’s case on a fast track, setting a schedule that makes oral arguments likely to be heard in November.

Meantime, the court has 27 recently filed briefs to review, including one from the attorneys general of 15 states that allow same-sex couples to wed.

Banning gay marriage hurts children by depriving families of two spouses, they argued.

“All states would benefit from expanding the pool of willing and supportive parents. Thus, Texas’s marriage amendment actually undermines legitimate state interests, including the interest in ensuring that all children are cared and provided for,” the attorneys general said.

Groups representing Jews and Hindus, among other faiths, reminded the court that Christians who define marriage only as the union of opposite-sex couples don’t speak for all faith groups.

“It is a violation of the First Amendment to deny individuals the right to marry on the grounds that such marriages would offend the tenets of a particular religious group,” their brief said.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, noting that interracial couples were denied the right to marry in some states until 1967, said history shows how denying the right to marry enforces a caste system in America.

“Like early laws that were designed to oppress African Americans, Texas’s denial of the right to marry to lesbian and gay couples consigns them by law to an unequal and inferior status,” the NAACP said.

Others weighing in included:

• Emergency personnel, including police and firefighters, who argued that “sexual orientation bears no relation to one’s ability to perform in or contribute to society.”

“Texas denies these men and women the equal dignity and respect they deserve,” particularly those who die on duty, leaving partners who are denied access to death benefits because the state doesn’t recognize their union, the brief said.

• Three dozen corporations — including Alcoa, Amazon, CBS, eBay, Google, HomeAway, Intel, Levi Strauss, Pfizer, Staples, Starbucks and Target — said Texas’ ban on gay marriage places them at a competitive disadvantage when trying to recruit employees to the state.

“We recognize the importance of that equality to our employees, and we have seen the real-world, positive impact that fostering diversity and inclusion has on our productivity and performance, just as we have seen the harm that denial of equality causes our businesses,” the corporations said.

• The American Psychological Association disputed claims that heterosexual couples are better parents than same-sex couples. “The vast majority of scientific studies … have found that gay and lesbian parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and that their children are as psychologically healthy and well adjusted,” the association said.

The American Sociological Association concurred, saying children fare no differently if raised by same-sex or opposite-sex couples. “Unsubstantiated fears regarding same-sex parents do not overcome these facts and provide no justification for upholding the marriage bans,” the group said.


 

Court ties up Solis’ property

Photo: www.themonitor.com

BROWNSVILLE — U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen issued an order attaching property owned by former state Rep. Jim Solis, who is currently serving a federal prison sentence.

Hanen recently issued the writ of garnishment at the request of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but details are not available as the federal court record is sealed.

The writ is believed to be connected to a lien placed by federal prosecutors on Solis’ properties to ensure three of Solis’ victims can receive restitution of more than $118,000, Cameron County property records show.

In August 2013, Hanen sentenced Solis, 51, to almost four years in federal prison for aiding and abetting extortion in connection with his role in ex-404th state District Judge Abel C. Limas’ racketeering schemes.

Solis began serving his sentence on Nov. 26 at the Forrest City Low Satellite Camp Prison in Forrest City, Arkansas.

At the time of his sentencing, Hanen also ordered Solis to forfeit $250,000 to the U.S. government. He was also ordered to provide restitution of around $40,000 to former Cameron County District Attorney Yolanda De Leon; about $39,000 to attorney Peter Zavaletta; and $40,000 to Freedom Communications, former owners of Rio Grande Valley newspapers including The Monitor, Valley Morning Star and the Brownsville Herald.

Solis has forfeited the $250,000 to the U.S. government, but has yet to compensate De Leon, Zavaletta, and Freedom Communications.

Public records show the lien against Solis’ properties was filed on June 17, and it continues until the $118,000 amount is paid.

eperez-trevino@valleystar.com

EMMA PEREZ-TREVIÑO | STAFF WRITER

Group of Valley Democrats endorse Cornyn for re-election

Photo: Delcia Lopez

EDINBURG — The No. 2 Republican in the U.S. Senate, John Cornyn, of Texas, made a campaign trip to the Rio Grande Valley on Thursday that was alternately hyper-partisan and bipartisan.

In a question-and-answer session with Dr. Nolan Perez, of Harlingen, Cornyn took shots at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and the Obama administration. He called for his party to take over the Senate in November.

“Ask me in 40 days whether we have a few more votes for the kind of policy that you and I would support,” he said to a question criticizing President Barack Obama’s approach to natural gas production and exports.

But Cornyn also made overtures to Democrats in the crowd.

“We do have good people of good faith on both sides of the aisle who would actually like to get some things done,” the senator said. “But just think how much better things could be if we actually worked together in the best interest of our state and our country.”

More than a dozen elected officials and business leaders joined Cornyn onstage after the session inside the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance. Many of them were Democrats, including former County Judges Rene Ramirez, of Hidalgo County, and Manny Vela, of Cameron, as well as Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas and major fundraiser Alonzo Cantu, of McAllen.

Ramirez, the former Hidalgo County judge and active Democrat, said Cornyn’s appeal crosses party lines.

“He’s a good listener, and he’s a problem-solver and not a problem,” Ramirez said. “He’s attractive to everybody, including Democrats.”

But certainly not all Valley Democrats are supporting Cornyn, the Senate Republican whip.

As the leader of Texas’ congressional delegation, Cornyn should shoulder more blame for Congress’ inability to pass immigration reform, said Ric Godinez, the Democratic Party chair for Hidalgo County.

The senator, Godinez continued, is beholden to far-right Republican primary voters — a problem Dr. David Alameel, Cornyn’s Democratic challenger, doesn’t face.

“I just believe that Dr. Alameel, he’s less dependent on any of that influence to his decision making,” the county chairman said.

By JACOB FISCHLER | STAFF WRITER 

jfischler@themonitor.com

Dead criminal’s family whines that Dallas homeowner didn’t warn home invader before shooting him

File Photo

Lakesha Thompson sports a particularly warped view of the entitlement mindset:

An elderly man shot and killed a would-be burglar inside his Oak Cliff home.

Police say the homeowner saw Deyfon Pipkins, 33, trying to climb into the window and fired his weapon at least once at the intruder.

The homeowner is legally protected by the Castle Doctrine, which allows a person to defend his or her home against an intruder.

“It means they don’t actually have to retreat once someone comes in their home,” Sergeant Calvin Johnson, Dallas Police Department, said. “You have the option of using deadly force if you believe your life is in danger.”

After police notified relatives of Pipkins’ death, some showed up at the house. They were upset, and questioned the homeowner’s actions.

“He could have used a warning,” Lakesha Thompson, Pipkins’ sister-in-law, said. “He could have let him know that he did have a gun on his property and he would use it in self-defense.”

Pipkins had a lengthy criminal record. He served time in prison and was convicted of theft, possession of a Controlled Substance and criminal trespassing.

Thompson almost seems to view home invasion as a “no-harm, no foul” game until someone in her family earns a bullet as a result of his criminal activity.

It bears noting that the homeowner had been robbed repeatedly before this incident.

Posted by BearingArms.com Staff

Seven accused in straw purchase make court appearance

Photo: MGN Online

BROWNSVILLE — Seven Cameron County residents accused of making straw firearms purchases pleaded not guilty Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ignacio Torteya III.

Ike Samuel Jr., 25; Jose De Jesus Ruiz, 23; Fabian Medina, 23; and Geovanni Alexis Teran, 22, all of Brownsville; Miguel Angel Luiton, 23, of San Benito; and Jose Dosal, 34, and Ester Cardenas, 28, both of Harlingen, are accused of knowingly making false statements and representations on firearms purchase records.

Cardenas, Luiton, and Teran were released on $50,000 unsecured bond. Both Samuel and Medina also were issued a $50,000 unsecured bond but were awaiting release pending their compliance with court orders. Dosal and Ruiz are being held without bond.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Texas, said the indictments were the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation code named “Operation Six Corners.” The operation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

If convicted, the seven each face up to five years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

By CHRISTINA R. GARZA Staff Writer