"ICE takes custody of 3 individuals suspected of smuggling $48 million in cocaine"

Begin forwarded message:

From: Michael Cutler <MCutler007@aol.com>
Date: January 4, 2011 7:13:25 AM PST
To: Michael Cutler <Mcutler007@aol.com>
Subject: ICE Press Release: “ICE takes custody of 3 individuals suspected of smuggling $48 million in cocaine”

Hi Gang:
I came across the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) press release dated December 30, 2010 and thought it was of great importance not only because of the information that the press release discloses but especially because of what the press release does not disclose. 
As I often note, a press release is a tool that individuals and organizations in all sorts of endeavors use to inform the public about successes that are scored.  Certainly the interdiction of a significant quantity of cocaine is something to crow about- but here is the issue that concerns me greatly.
Before you read my commentary further I urge you to take the time to thoroughly read the actual press release and ask yourself one basic and simple question, “What important information was not covered in the press release?”
To give you a hint, I would remind you that a good report should answer the following questions:
Who, What, Where, When, Why and How?
The very first question on that list was not answered in the press release!  I am not simply referring to the names of the people who were apprehended, but the fact that there is no mention of the citizenship or claimed citizenship of the individuals arrested was noted.  This is not a matter of idle curiosity on my part.
Worse still, this is not the first time that the immigration status of an individual arrested by special agents of ICE was not addressed in press releases and, unfortunately, I suspect it certainly will not be the last!  Recently there were other press releases that talked about how alien smugglers and those who conspired with illegal aliens to enter our country were prosecuted (and got relatively insignificant jail sentences) but there was absolutely no mention of any effort whatsoever being expended by ICE to locate the hundred or even thousands of illegal aliens who had paid for the services of smugglers to circumvent the inspections process or game the visa process!
When I was trained as an INS special agent, the first order of business that we were instructed to deal with was to properly and as completely as possible, identify the person(s) we came into contact with during the course of our official duties.  This is important on many levels.
First of all, as I am certain you know, when a police officer, federal agent or other law enforcement official apprehends a suspect the person in custody is photographed and fingerprinted.  This is vital to determine the identity of the person in custody.  I like to say that when an individual is arrested, it is comparable to throwing a hook into the ocean.  When you feel the line go taught and you struggle to land that fish, you certainly know you have caught some sort of fish but the question remains to determine precisely what fish you caught.
When a law enforcement officer stops someone, for example during a routine traffic stop, the police officer generally runs the person’s name and license plate through a computerized data base to check for outstanding warrants and to try to figure out if the person poses a threat to his (her) safety.
The issue of identity become much more critical when individuals are arrested for apparent felony level violations of law because it is absolutely vital to provide as much information as possible to the judge or magistrate who will set bail in the case.  
As an INS special agent, I was often called upon to provide clear evidence at bail hearings when defendants were taken into custody.  A bail hearing has two components- danger to the community and risk of flight.  A law enforcement officer who has arrested a suspect for a crime of violence, a crime involving dangerous drugs as was the case in the situation memorialized in the press release, or a suspect who is found to be armed or has made threats can easily articulate the danger such as suspect poses to the community.
The issue of risk of flight can be far more nebulous and difficult to articulate in a courtroom setting.  This is where the immigration issue can be absolutely vital to painting a clear picture as to risk of flight.  The illegal alien who has no community ties, has used multiple false identities and has provided numerous fictitious addresses establishes a track record of likelihood of flight.  The picture of flight risk comes into even clearer focus if the alien in question has been previously deported and reentered the United States without necessary authority.  Finally, if the illegal alien suspect has failed to show up for immigration court on days he (she) was supposed to appear, the picture becomes crystal clear.
I have testified before numerous such bail hearings and the results were, without exception, that the judge either remanded the alien suspect without bail or set bail so high as to make certain that the suspect was not released.  This is of huge importance!  How many times have we heard of a suspect being arrested for one crime, getting released from custody and then committing a murder or some other heinous crime?  How many times have people questioned why the judge released the suspect the first time so that he was at large and able to commit additional crime(s)? 
There is an additional factor to consider.  If the smugglers who were apprehended in this case are aliens, it would also require that the agents seek to determine if additional criminal charges should be brought against the defendants for violating criminal provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  For example, if any of the smugglers had been previously deported from the United States and were in the midst of reentering without permission and had been deported because of criminal convictions, the mere unlawful reentry would constitute a felony for which the maximum punishment would be 20 years in federal custody.  This is certainly a serious matter!
If a firearm was found to be in the constructive possession of the smugglers and they are determined to be illegal aliens, they would potentially be subjected to punishment for the crime of “Illegal alien in possession of a firearm.”  This too is a serious felony.
The first step along the road to these possible prosecutions would be to determine if the individuals who were arrested were, in fact United States citizens, resident aliens who stand to ultimately lose their lawful status in the United States if they are convicted or aliens who are presently illegal aliens.  
If a plea bargain is ultimately arranged, it is important to have a number of potential criminal violations that can be used as bargaining chips.
If there as a plea-bargain worked out down the road, it is important for all involved to be aware of the implications that any such arrangement might have on the immigration status of individuals if they are aliens.
Finally, if the defendants are subject to deportation it may be important to lodge documents that are known as detainers to make certain that these defendants are not released fro custody without ICE being given prior notification.
These are important factors that must be taken into account if the special agents from ICE who are working the case are to achieve the most effective results possible.  Yet there was not a single word in the press release that even addressed the issue of the citizenship or immigration status of the smugglers who were arrested with 48 million dollars of cocaine in their possession!
It would also be important to know if they might be members of a particular drug cartel.  Again, nationality would be extremely important in the furtherance of this line of inquiry.  While the government is under no obligation to provide all of the available information in the press release, I am concerned about the apparent glossing over of the issue of the citizenship of the individuals in custody for a very important reason.  I have been told that very few ICE agents have any real background in immigration law and often ignore the issue of immigration whenever they can!
I have heard these stories from a number of people who still work for that agency and it troubles me greatly that the sole federal agency that is charged with enforcing the immigration laws from within the interior of the United States would take such a cavalier attitude towards the immigration laws that they are supposed to be enforcing!


our country is to survive and if our children and their children are to get their share of the “American Dream” the citizens of this nation must take their citizenship seriously!

We the People must be the best citizens we can be, citizens who are worthy of the gallantry demonstrated by our valiant men and women in the military, law enforcement and firefighters, who routinely go in harm’s way in defense of this nation and our citizens.  
This must be our New Year’s resolution!
My goal in writing this and other commentaries is to point out our nations many failings before more victims pay the ultimate price for the incompetence and ineptitude of our government.
The first step in problem-solving is to first identify the problems and vulnerabilities and then devise strategies to overcome them.
If you find yourself to be in agreement with this commentary, I ask that you forward it to as many of your friends and family members as possible and encourage them to do the same.  We need to create a “Bucket Brigade of Truth!”

The practice of good citizenship does not end in the voting booth, it only begins there.

The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups. There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines!

The collective failure of We the People to get involved in make our concerns known to our politicians have nearly made the concerns of the great majority of the citizens of this nation all but irrelevant to the politicians.  I implore you to resolve this year to get involved!

If this situation concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional “Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation! 

All I ask is that you make it clear to our politicians that we are not as dumb as they hope we are!

We live in a perilous world and in a perilous era. The survival of our nation and the lives of our citizens hang in the balance.

This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue!

You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem!

Democracy is not a spectator sport!

Lead, follow or get out of the way!

-michael cutler- 

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News Releases

December 30, 2010
Miami, FL

ICE takes custody of 3 individuals suspected of smuggling $48 million in cocaine

MIAMI – Special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) took custody
of three suspected maritime drug smugglers in Miami on Wednesday and
helped U.S. Coast Guard crewmembers offload 62 bales of cocaine weighing
3,400 pounds and worth an estimated wholesale value of $48 million.

ICE HSI special agents offload bales of cocaine
On Dec. 17, the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Thetis intercepted a
go-fast boat 160 nautical miles off the coast of Colon, Panama. The
cutter Thetis launched a small boat crew and was assisted by aircraft
from the Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Air
and Marine Branch, to stop the go-fast vessel.

The bales were found and retrieved aboard the smuggling boat by Coast Guard boarding team members.

Assisted by ICE, crewmembers of the Key West-based Cutter Thetis
offloaded the 62 bales of cocaine at the Coast Guard base in Miami

“We are ready to stop all contraband on the high seas with our
partners, not only in the U.S., but those international agencies that
work with us day to day,” said Thetis commanding officer Cmdr. Douglas
Schofield, U.S. Coast Guard.

“We are seeing more and more of these kinds of smuggling attempts, as
organizations react to increased pressure on the southwest border,”
said Anthony V. Mangione, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Miami.
“And we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to put
more and more pressure on the organizations that attempt to carry out
these and other types of drug smuggling activities.”

ICE HSI’s investigation into the three suspected smugglers is being
conducted by the Miami Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST).
BEST was established in Miami in November 2008 and at other major
seaports because U.S. ports and maritime borders are subject to
significant threats to national security.

The mission of the BEST program is to identify, disrupt, and
dismantle organizations that seek to exploit vulnerabilities in the U.S.
border through increased information sharing and collaboration among
partner agencies. The Miami BEST incorporates personnel from ICE HSI;
CBP Office of Border Patrol; the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA);
the U.S. Coast Guard; and the Miami-Dade Police Department.

You may also visit us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security.

ICE is a 21st century law enforcement agency with broad
responsibilities for a number of key homeland security priorities. For
more information, visit
www.ICE.gov. To report suspicious activity, call 1-866-347-2423.

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