Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Saturday, December 22, 2012

DPS has fired at vehicles from helicopters 5 times in past two years on U.S.-Mexico border

Borderland Beat
Records show 1 of 5 vehicles was disabled by shots prior to October incident that killed two Guatemalan men

Texas Department of Public Safety officers have fired guns from helicopters while pursuing vehicles five times over the past two years, according to new information on the practice obtained by the American-Statesman.

According to the records, released by the agency Friday after several public information requests, the tactic was clearly successful in only one instance.

Details of the incidents, which all occurred along the Mexican border, raise additional questions about the necessity and effectiveness of a policy that experts have said is almost unheard of in other law enforcement agencies due to the high risks associated with firing a weapon from a moving helicopter at a speeding vehicle.

The practice has been under scrutiny since Oct. 25, when a DPS trooper fired into a pickup racing along a South Texas dirt road near La Joya, killing two Guatemalan men hidden in the bed under a blanket. A third man was injured by the gunfire.

The chase began after Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens spotted the truck and called the DPS for air assistance after it refused to stop. Following the incident, the DPS explained that officers may use gunfire to end a high-speed chase that threatens the lives of bystanders.

The trooper, Miguel Avila, shot as the truck was speeding toward a school more than a mile away, which the DPS said posed a potential danger to students. Alba Caceres, the Guatemalan consul in McAllen, has said the men in the truck had “no guns, no drugs.” Texas Rangers are investigating.

In practice, the airborne marksmen aim at a fleeing vehicle’s tires to disable it. But, as the deadly October incident demonstrated, they don’t always hit their intended target.
On Oct. 21, 2010, a DPS officer in a helicopter fired a single shot at a fleeing vehicle suspected of smuggling narcotics — but missed the car. “Round did not hit vehicle,” the agency’s summary of the incident stated.

The vehicle was eventually stopped when officers threw down spikes to puncture its tires. Although 800 pounds of marijuana was recovered, “two suspects abandoned vehicle and fled to Mexico,” the report concluded.

In another case, on Sept. 13 of this year, a DPS rifleman fired three rounds at a vehicle reported by Mission police to be stolen. From the report, however, it is unclear whether the bullets played a role in ending the chase; Mission police couldn’t provide additional details Friday.

“Three bullet holes were later found in the vehicle,” according to the DPS report. “Three suspects exited vehicle and fled to Mexico.” Just over 1,000 pounds of marijuana were recovered.

In a third pursuit, it is unclear from the report why a DPS officer fired shots.
On June 2, 2011, a state helicopter joined Starr County sheriff’s deputies in pursuit of a vehicle. The report doesn’t specify why the driver was being chased; Sheriff Rene Fuentes didn’t return a call for comment Friday afternoon.

In the course of that chase, Highway Patrol officers also threw down two strips of spikes, a tactic the report describes as “successful,” deflating three of the car’s tires.
When the vehicle continued to speed away, smoking and throwing off rubber debris, according to the report, a DPS shooter in a helicopter fired five rounds “in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the vehicle.” It is unclear from the report whether any rounds hit the vehicle.
“Driver eventually came to a stop and fled on foot, after which he was quickly taken into custody,” the report concluded.

Of the five pursuits the agency has now disclosed in which DPS officers have fired from helicopters at fleeing vehicles, only one was clearly effective, according to the DPS summary of incidents.

On Sept. 23, 2010, Starr County sheriff’s deputies began chasing a vehicle after it evaded officers, the report states, adding: “During high speed pursuit, vehicle nearly struck other vehicles and began to drive toward a more populated area. From helicopter, DPS commissioned officer fired one round at vehicle’s tire, which deflated.”

According to the report, the vehicle came to a stop and the driver was taken into custody. “25 lbs marijuana, one baggie cocaine and open beer recovered from vehicle,” the DPS report concluded.

Fast and Furious Guns at Mexican Beauty Queen’s Shootout

A Romanian AK-47-typeWASR-10 rifle and a pistol were found at the crime scene where a Mexican beauty queen, Maria Susana Flores Gamez, and four others were shot dead in the city of Guamúchil, Sinaloa state, in November, reported CBS News.

The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that another weapon at the same crime scene—a 5.7 mm pistol—also came from the botched Fast and Furious, an operation under the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). In the program, some 2,000 weapons were lost and allowed to flow across the Mexican border and likely into the hands of violent cartel members.

The crime scene is apparently where suspected Sinaloa drug cartel operatives engaged in a shootout with members of the Mexican military.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told CBS that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) did not tell Congress of the latest Fast and Furious gun recovery during the November Sinaloa shootout. Grassley has previously requested that the DOJ inform Congress of any weapons that are found in connection with the gunrunning operation.

Senator Grassley has sent a letter to the Justice Department requesting more information, and asking whether the officials were planning to notify Congress "that a Fast and Furious weapon had been recovered."

Background: Fast and Furious AK-47-type rifles were found at the murder scene of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010. In September 2011, ATF estimated that Fast and Furious weapons had been recovered at eight violent crimes in Mexico. As CBS News has reported, guns trafficked under ATF's watch in a separate investigation were also used in the murder of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata in Mexico in February 2011. The families of both Terry and Zapata are suing government officials for alleged negligence and related claimsBrian Terry family sues ATF officials in Fast and Furious.

CBS traced records showing that Uriel Patino, a suspect who allegedly bought more than 700 Fast and Furious guns, owned the AK-47-type WASR-10 at one time. The 5.7 mm pistol, identified as an FN Herstal manufacture, was purchased by ATF supervisory agent George Gillett Jr. in January 2010, according to the Times.

Mexico Frees Marine Veteran who tired to bring in shotgun

Relatives of the detainee, Jon Hammar, 27, who was arrested Aug. 13 when he and a friend drove to Mexico from Texas in a motor home, described his release as a holiday surprise.
“It’s like a miracle; that’s the only way I can express it,” said his mother, Olivia Hammar, who lives in Florida. “It’s our little Christmas miracle.”

She said that her husband had flown to Brownsville, Tex. — across the border from Matamoros, where her son has been in prison — and that she expected her son home by Christmas. She added that his arrival might be delayed past Friday because even after a horrendous four months, enduring death threats and ransom demands from members of Mexican drug cartels, her son was determined to get back the confiscated 1972 Winnebago that he drove to Mexico.
“It’s really important to him, and we feel like it’s going to bring him some closure,” she said.
His case has drawn attention and outrage in the United States since early December, when his family decided to go public with the details. Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican who is chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, both campaigned for his release. In interviews and in statements, they have described him as a victim of Mexico’s broken judicial system, which routinely fails to convict killers who use weapons far more powerful than the old shotgun, which had belonged to Mr. Hammar’s great-grandfather.

“Here is the big travesty,” Senator Nelson said this week on Fox News, “the fact that he was picked up in the first place, when obviously he didn’t have any mean, evil intent.”

He added, “There should have been judicial discretion imposed in this long ago.”
But until recently, Mexican authorities were unwilling to discuss the case against Mr. Hammar, whose family said he had notified customs officials on both sides of the border about the gun.

Guns coming from the United States are an especially delicate issue in Mexico, which blames American gun dealers for much of the violence there. Mexico’s ambassador to Washington, Arturo Sarukhan, sent a letter to Ms. Ros-Lehtinen this week arguing that Mexico had a right to imprison Mr. Hammar for carrying a shotgun “restricted for the exclusive use of the Mexican armed forces.”

He emphasized that Mexico had a much tougher stand on guns than the United States. “Mexico has had very stringent gun-control laws in place for many years, and have reinforced their application as a result of the flow of weapons illicitly purchased in the U.S. and then trafficked into Mexico and into the hands of transnational criminal organizations,” he wrote.

It is not clear what led the Mexican government to change its stance. Mrs. Hammar said she was unsure of the reasoning. But she said she looked forward to telling her son, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan — and who had been on his way to Costa Rica to surf when he was arrested — about the support he received while he was in jail. “It’s been awesome to watch Americans get on board to help get him out,” she said.


  1. Personally I think the DPS has actually showed excessive restraint in their collective actions of these invaders...

  2. thats life shoooot to kill ask questions later i agree with this method

  3. Think about it. These are the same morons who are giving full body cavity checks to women for throwing cigarette butts out the window. TEXAS IS A FASCIST STATE.

  4. "These are the same morons who are giving full body cavity checks to women for throwing cigarette butts out the window"...


    One day their in a helicopter chasing after armed, illegal felons and the next day they're alledgedly giving cavity searches to people who pitch butts out the windows of moving vehicles?!?!


    Those folks know how to get around...

  5. @ 10:51.....Go fuck yourself! Pendejo ... To judge the whole state for the actions of a few is ignorance.

  6. Sure DPS used restraint if they thought they were playing a video game which they didn't cause it was too loud for that.

  7. I personally believe every agency in law enforcement should be able to shoot at thier threat. Every shitbag that flees from law enforcement knows what they are doing and that isnt something good so they should get real justice not a spank in the hand. Thats why they keep doing it. Alot of agencies have thier hands tied behind thier backs thats why the criminals do what they do. So my point is if your a criminal and get hot lead between your eyes fuck it you deserve it.

    1. 2 comments are for December 22,2012 12:27pm...the dumbest,and I'm sure the most racist SOB on GOD'S green earth!!!!!!

  8. What?! Fast n Furious guns were part of the beauty slaying. No? Isn't that crazy? Chapo's sicario had a Fast and furious gun? It reslly isn't crazy is it?

  9. I say good read but the idea of firing out of a helicopter is about as cowadly as Sarah Palin killing game from a helicopter. Only thing is it is people and it is in Texas.

  10. to anonymous 12:21 pm
    it doesn't matter how you feel. in order for democracy and freedom to function the government must practice self restraint. otherwise you enter an atmosphere of murder, impunity, and indifference (which is what totalitarian governments thrive on. Don't turn the victim into the guilty, because you don't know what the circumstances are.

  11. Texas Law Enforcement Officers DO NOT play games, and YOU DO as they tell you. They put their lives in danger to protect the law abiding citizens. Even from a DPS Helicopter if you hear the pilots, or crew chief on the loud speaker ordering you to stop then you stop, if you try to escape the are going to chase you and if you try to fight them or if the feel they are in danger they are going to light you up with every thing they have. I have seen them in action in the Texas back roads, and guess what they don't belong in the military so don't need to request permission to engage; so it's your decision to slow down, give up and live or fight back and die.

  12. @Anonymous at 1:30 PM

    You really sound like an idiot. What are you blabbering about? Sarah Palin and hunting? Are you some kind of angry kool-aid drinking libtard mad about something??

    Anyways, I dont think this report is newsworthy. 5 times in 2 years is nothing. Sounds like a journalist was hoping to break a bigger story than what he got. At least the reporter deserves props for actually doing a little research. That is much more than can be said for most news reporting today.

  13. Its a shame about the two Guatemalan men dying but border patrols have to be tough on these individuals,they dont deserve to die but they have no right to be entering U.S. illegally.

  14. If they were not doing anything wrong why were they fleeing?

    Mexico locks up a Marine with a glorified BB gun from over 50 years ago and saying that is ok, then as America is being basically invaded they fire on vehicles that they have reason to believe have narcotics or heavy weapons in them and America is out of line? Whatever.

  15. I dont want to sound like I'm sticking up for the bad guys , but someone needs to shoot 1 of those helicopters down. we cannot have rogue law enforcement playing judge and jury with automatic weapons from a helicopter.

    I have never seen a case like this, but I have received horrible, racist,and bigoted, vile comments for these stories. Aside from the complaints of the post its self.

    I am keeping the delete button warn

  17. December 22, 2012 12:27 PM who is author of "I personally believe EVERY AGENCY In LAW ENFORCEMENT should be able to shoot at thier threat."

    1. You work for ? Are you a police officer and this is your message to us all?

    2.Whose law??, ¿Does the public get to decide on What Is 'LAW' and on what LAWS will be implemented?? Organize A Protest Against 'The Powers That Be's POLICIES and you'll soon find out YOU HAVE 'NO VOICE'--¿DEMOCRACY RIGHT?

    "I personally believe every agency in law enforcement should be able to shoot at thier threat." ¿EVEN IF THE THREAT IS Self-PSYCHOLOGICALLY INDUCED? Have any of us paid any attention to Abuse of Powers in the police f. and other authoritarian agencies Taking Orders From ABOVE?

    Look for more signs of CORRUPTION and tell me, ¿what is the inner world of those who enter the Super Mechanically AUTOMATED World of ENFORCING L.A.W. -- IT IS ABOUT 'TAKING ORDERS', don't ask questions, JUST ENFORCE 'this book of authoritarian RULES: and that is called ENFORCING 'The Law' , , Whose Law? Not my law, YOUR LAWS?



    1. @932 what the fuck are you rambling about you wanna be enlightened fuck you sound some shitty ass mix between a black panther and a drunk pyschologist... get your goofy ass on somewhere with that bullshit rhetoric. Here in america, we have laws. Law enforcement enforce those laws. Its that simple. Don't fuck around and you wont get fucked with.

  18. It's amazing to me that most of the comments are supportive of these guys shooting at whoever they think needs to be shot at. Have we reached this point in the fascist takeover of the US that we allow the government to just shoot at whoever they want to kill from the air? What about the fucking constitution? It's clear that the homeland security nutcases have taken over Texas. Our patriot ancestors had balls - they were not a bunch of weak candy ass pansies who needed someone else to do their fighting for them. Are all you fools cowering in your beds every night worried about a few Guatemalans? You disgust me.

  19. "I have never seen a case like this"
    Chivis speak truth,just from the content of this story and past comments it is easy to see where all the racism is coming from.It is endemic and cultural,almost a throw back to less enlightened times.Maybe it is something to do with how insulated Mexico still is,it sees its own people and no-one else,and thinks of all the rest of us in terms of bigotry and racial stereotypes?It does get extremely hard to contain yourself in the face of this all the time.

  20. Exactly, they're just defending our borders.

  21. In some places in the world tasers are being used on people by police and innocent people going into cardiac arrest and dying. Would a doctor shoot someone with such a device? yet a guy with a 'badge' is given the right to pull the trigger and encouraged to do so: WOULD HE PULL THE TRIGGER ON ANY OF THE PEOPLE HE KNOWS, FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS? In fact, he may. Tasers should be banned and if we get together and speak as one voice eill we chnage anything? NOT LIKELY and we will have lost our time protesting. In these BB matters that we discuss tell me what can we do to chnage anything we disagree with when it comes to violence in this world, and other serious crimes? Yet we come he daily sometimes or very often getting all worked up without having an effect on the world we wish to change and so for how long a time should we continue with this PC desktop debate and opinion giving if the world will continue to move in the same way as it did yesterday? I CAN GET MORE DONE IN THE KITCHEN IN JUST ONE HOUR THAN I CAN EVER GET DONE HERE IN A YEAR.

    A new year is upon us, let us celebrate with friends and family and enjoy what is possible to enjoy,


    1. @620 how the fuck did you go from gunshots from a helicopter to tasers? You sound like you got tased one day being a piece of shit and never recovered from the shock....

  22. @ December 22 7:56 p.m.
    Right on brother. sometimes they have to shoot. IF They're getting shot at. most of the time cops are some trigger happy peeps just waiting to bust a cap in someones ass. If cops could shoot at someone anytime they feel that person is breaking any law then it would be a fucked up country where the police decide who lives and who dies. you wouldnt wanna live like that would you?

    1. @826 yea cuz cops shoot at everyone all the time everyday all over the place right? Don't exaggerate motherfucker I bet you don't even personally know anyone shot by a cop for no reason but youre on here talking that shit.

  23. December 22, 2012 12:27 PM I hope some day a Texas cop busts a cap in your ass. You think everyone who gets shot by the cops deserves it - you don't know many cops - a lot of them are criminals with badges. Move to Russia asshole.

  24. "Aside from compplaints of the post itself" you say? And when a blogger leaves you a comment to show support for you after you've been attacked by some blogger or other ¿what will your response to that BB commentary be?, that the supportive blogger is at a low level in terms of psycho-emotional developmental stage carrying on like one attached to a Mother's Apron Strings?

    I'm well known in the Saharah Dessert,

    soy Voz Mex, amiga

  25. @12:57

    Very thoughtful comment. Some posts are a magnet for racism and really we don't need them, I think it diffuses what is important as the topic becomes a sporting event. I personally don't think the DPS or the marine story has anything to do with the drug war, and incites racism and taking sides. it was a slow day and Havana wanted to throw something up...but I passed on the Marine story as it is not drug related.

    Last night I was sickened by the comments, and decided to leave BB for the night, better things to do with my time....Paz, Chivis

  26. Alot of people are talking about being racist here. The whole subject here Is with the dps chopper shooting. Alot of the people posting probably have never been to the Rio Grande Valley so they dont know what border crime is. They have never had crime hit so close to home. Alot of innocent people get home invasions by these shitbags. A couple of days ago suedo cops hit a party in Mission, Texas killed one guy and took the owner. You tell i me if those dudes dont deserve to get shot or should we let the courts judge them and give them 100 years probation. So they can be out in no time and keep doing the same shit they do, maybe next time it will be your party they go shoot up.

  27. " ... and decided to leave BB for the night, better things to do with my time..."

    Yeah, like leaving wordly problematic affairs and starting to focus on celebrating and having fun with friends and family. You should be taking a good break at this tie of the year.


  28. It's Interesting:

    How many stories have we read on BB of Mexican law enforcement (State & Federal) or Mexican military involved in an on-going pursuit AND firefight with moving vehicles (both on land and in the air) through populated areas?? And the majority of our responses are along the lines of "kill 'em all" or "keep shooting, one less cartel bad guy".

    But in our neighborhood?? "Fascists"...


    The cartels know this, but our leaders do not.

    You can have all the rules of engagement you want. In my experience they always favor the bad guys...

  29. Dr. Mex, he sounds like a cop ,and according to him everyone's a shitbag to proven otherwise .let's just hope he doesn't know how to fly a helicopter. as for your second post : well, I think we all came here for the same reason in the beginning, and why we are still here? (Who knows) maybe the answer is in one of those books you read? anyway you should spend less time in the kitchen.and take the umbrella out more often... See ya around kid!

  30. Hey BB this in proceso:

    Detienen a policías por hacer tragar balas a hombre y violarlo con un bat

    But DPS is ruthless huh?? Hahaha no saben de nada y de todos modos se quejan, mamones

    Keep on thinking cops in USA "violate peoples' civil rights"... they aint got shit on mexican cops when it comes raping someone... literally....

  31. Sad current state of affairs...

  32. wit a base ball bat......ouchy kenouchy!!!

  33. 9:23 PM, is this blog site about all forms of violence and acts of agression, abuse of power and things of ghat natue?

  34. Follow the links I included in my commentary instead of rambling in IN AN ANGRY FIT. You can spit out all the nasty words you wish in attempt to discredit me but I stand behind what I wrote. You haven't done the research I've done yet you carry on as though I were a deluded loser. What you've seen and lived through is Your Reference Point, what I've seen and lived through is amy reference point, we have a different view on things and it's easy to disagree with one another but the difference between us is that I can respond to what you wrote me without calling you names and trying to write in such a way as to convince other BB readers that YOU'RE OUT OF YOU MIND.

    Message to 9:20 PM

  35. @ 7:50 AM

    Many forms of violence and forms of aggression, yes, I believe so


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