Monthly Archives: June 2014

Juarez Cartel On Trial In El Paso: A Conversation With Jason McGahan

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A recently concluded trial in El Paso, Texas, has revealed the inner workings of how the Juarez Cartel used sophisticated communication technology to orchestrate murders, while United States law enforcement and intelligence operatives eavesdropped on calls between the killers. This came out while the prosecution was making its case against Arturo “Benny” Gallegos.

On Tuesday investigative reporter Jason McGahan was interviewed by Marfa Public Radio/West Texas Public Radio Fronteras Desk reporter Lorne Matalon about his work on this case.

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Can ‘Clean Coal’ Be An Environmental Game Changer?

Story originally published at

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U.S. public radio stations in the West separately aired this version of the story.

On Monday, President Obama is expected to unveil new rules aimed at cutting carbon emissions from power plants, including ones that use coal.

Coal generates nearly half of the country’s electricity and is the largest source of air pollution.

The new rules are expected to spur advances in technology to burn less polluting coal. At least, that’s the hope of proponents of one such “clean coal” project planned for West Texas.

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Texas State Police Surges Challenged By Borderland Sheriffs

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Mistrust of law enforcement on the border is hardly rare. The ebb and flow of policing the border in a post 9-11 world means some group or someone is almost always upset.

But in Texas, there’s apparent distrust within law enforcement itself. It involves how intelligence is not shared and how that’s in turn causing stress for some citizens along the largest section of the United States-Mexico border.

Currently, Texas border sheriffs and state police, the Department of Public Safety, are trying to resolve a major difference of opinion.

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US Ban On Ivory Spawns Dilemma In Music Industry

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In June the United States will begin enforcing a ban on ivory from the tusks of African and Asian elephants. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calls what’s happening right now to elephants “an unprecedented slaughter.”

But the ban has forced many professional musicians to make a choice — perform without their favorite instruments or forgo work that takes them across the U.S. border.

Photo by Neville Elder— Taddes Korris in New York. He was offered an audition in his native Canada with the Winnipeg Symphony. He declined. He didn't want to play without his antique bow and he didn't want to risk having the bow confiscated when he returned to the U.S.

Taddes Korris in New York. He was offered an audition in his native Canada with the Winnipeg Symphony. He declined. He didn’t want to play without his antique bow and he didn’t want to risk having the bow confiscated when he returned to the U.S. (Neville Elder)

I met up with the band called Mariachi Frontera as band members rehearsed in front of neighbors on Calle Allende in Ojinaga, a Mexican town on the Rio Grande beside Presidio, Texas. The band was preparing to to record an album it had initially planned to lay down across the border in the arts mecca of Marfa, Texas.

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Mexico Forbids Drug Lord’s Extradition Even As Negotiations With US Continue

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and republished by KPBS.

CHIHUAHUA, Mexico — On Feb. 22 the world’s most wanted drug trafficker — Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, known as “El Chapo,” or “Shorty”— was captured in a joint U.S.-Mexico operation.

At the time, federal agents in both countries followed intelligence provided by one of Guzmán’s subordinates who had been captured the previous week.

As applause over the joint cooperation between two historically wary neighbors subsided, the United States and Mexico began discussing the possibility of extraditing Guzmán to face charges in the U.S.

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Confrontation In Arizona Between Mexican Soldiers, Border Patrol Confirmed

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Two camouflaged Mexican soldiers crossed into Arizona in January, touching off a standoff with U.S. Border Patrol agents. Both sides drew their weapons before the the Mexican soldiers were detained.

It happened on Jan. 26, prompting a half-hour standoff 2.5 miles west of the Port of Entry at Sasabe, Ariz. After repeated denials that the Mexicans were military personnel, Mexico now says they were indeed soldiers, adding the pair was in pursuit of drug traffickers.

Richard A. Serrano and Tracy Wilkinson of the Los Angeles Times broke this story. They obtained documents outlining what took place and confirmed the veracity of the documents.

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Drug Smuggling Twist: Innocent Mexicans Allegedly Duped By Mennonite Suspect

Story originally published at

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and adapted for PBS Newshour.

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.

A Mennonite man drives a horse and buggy near Ciudad Cuauhtémoc.

A Mennonite man drives a horse and buggy near Ciudad Cuauhtémoc.

The seduction starts with a classified ad in the paper, one that a 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.

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Border Patrol Refines Tactics For Rock-Throwing Attacks

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The United States Border Patrol has issued new guidelines for agents involved in rock throwing incidents. Contrary to widespread media reports, the new guidelines do not forbid agents from firing their weapons at rock throwers.

But Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher has told agents to avoid situations in which they have no alternative to using deadly force.

Alfalfa grower Craig Miller stands beside the border wall at Ft. Hancock, Texas. Miller says it's unfair to burden federal agents with new directives in rock-throwing scenarios.

Alfalfa grower Craig Miller stands beside the border wall at Ft. Hancock, Texas. Miller says it’s unfair to burden federal agents with new directives in rock-throwing scenarios.

In 2010, on the dry bed of the Rio Grande underneath the Paso del Norte bridge in Ciudad Juárez across from El Paso, Texas, a Mexican teenager approached the border fence.

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West Texas Energy Boom A Threat To Astronomy

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FORT DAVIS, Texas — World-class observatories like Mount Wilson near Los Angeles and Palomar north of San Diego are cramped by the intrusion of urban light to once unspoiled night skies.

Facing the same problem in the 1970s, scientists at Kitt Peak National Observatory south of Tucson persuaded that city and others in Arizona to pass lighting ordinances.

Photo by Bill Wren— A glow over the northern horizon at McDonald Observatory near Ft. Davis,Texas. The light is generated by round-the-clock oil and gas operations in the Permian Basin.

A glow over the northern horizon at McDonald Observatory near Ft. Davis,Texas. The light is generated by round-the-clock oil and gas operations in the Permian Basin. (Bill Wren)

Now, the McDonald Observatory in remote West Texas — home to the largest telescope in North America — is suddenly dealing with unwanted light. The Texas oil and gas boom is responsible. Cutting edge research could be at risk. But the observatory is trying to convince industry to retool using a relatively simple solution.

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Narco Killer Sought By U.S. Sends Letter To Mexican President

Story originally published at

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MEXICO CITY — Rafael Caro Quintero, a once-powerful Mexican cartel leader who is now a fugitive from United States justice, has sent a letter to Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto claiming the United States wants revenge for a crime the convicted killer says he has already paid for.

Caro Quintero was convicted decades ago in Mexico for the drawn-out torture and murder of Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. The crime ruptured U.S.-Mexico relations in the 1980s and its aftermath echoes to this day.

On Aug.9, 2013, a Mexican judge ordered the release of Rafael Caro Quintero on a technicality.

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