Wednesday, September 4, 2019


Four Suspected Sinaloa Cartel Meth Labs Seized in Northern Mexico


Mexican security personnel in the northern state of Sinaloa seized four clandestine methamphetamine labs which are believed connected to the Sinaloa Cartel in the past week. Since 2018, officials busted more than 25 similar labs in the state.

The Office of the Secretariat of the Mexican Navy (SEMAR) announced the seizure of four labs within the surrounding areas of Culiacán. Officials discovered 1,014 gallons of liquid methamphetamine, 774 gallons of liquid amphetamine, and a large quantity of precursor chemicals.
The raids were carried out on August 27 and 30. The four laboratories were dismantled and seized items were turned over to investigative personnel from the state prosecutor’s office.
This seizure fits in a series of large lab raids in Culiacán, which is home base for the Sinaloa Cartel. In June, security elements discovered a clandestine lab in rural Alcoyonqui, resulting in the seizure of 220 to 330 pounds of crystal methamphetamine and 1,717 gallons of precursors.
Breitbart Texas reported on multiple labs recently seized in the area. Those included a case earlier in July when security personnel discovered a plant connected to the Sinaloa Cartel. Officials estimated the haul to be worth $170 million.
In August 2018, Breitbart Texas reported on three busts totaling more than 120,000 pounds of methamphetamine. Additionally, officials carried out numerous meth, fentanyl, and heroin seizures along smuggling routes in northern Mexico.
In June 2019, the Mexican Navy also seized two tons of drugs in Puerto Libertad, Sonora, according to local reports.
This past Saturday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Calexico East port of entry seized more than 190 pounds of methamphetamine concealed inside the fuel tank of a charter bus.
On July 19, Border Patrol agents working in the Yuma Sector seized 100 pounds of methamphetamine. The load had an estimated street value of $229,000, according to a Homeland Security release.
The availability of high grade, low priced meth is blamed for the continued cartel-related street violence in Tijuana and Juárez as low-level dealers fight for market footholds.
Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.) You can follow him on Twitter. He can be reached at

Trump Administration Diverts $3.6 Billion From Military Projects To Border Wall

Workers break ground on new border wall construction about 20 miles west of Santa Teresa, N.M., last month. The Trump administration has started the arduous process of canceling $3.6 billion in military construction projects to fund its plans to build more of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Cedar Attanasio/AP
The Trump administration has started the arduous process of canceling $3.6 billion in military construction projects to fund its plans to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper began notifying lawmakers Tuesday which projects will be canceled in their districts. Top Democrats immediately blasted the plan.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was among the first lawmakers to say his district will be impacted by the funding cuts, for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

"This decision will harm already planned, important projects intended to support our service members at military installations in New York, across the United States, and around the world," Schumer said. "It is a slap in the face to the members of the Armed Forces who serve our country that President Trump is willing to cannibalize already allocated military funding to boost his own ego and for a wall he promised Mexico would pay to build."
Schumer went on to say that Trump is trying to "usurp Congress's exclusive power of the purse and loot vital funds from our military." He also signaled Congress will strongly oppose any funds for new wall construction.
The Washington Post reported that Pentagon officials said they will halt 127 military construction projects to help build 175 miles of wall.
The plans come nearly seven months after Trump announced a national emergency to use roughly $8 billion to build a wall to curtail illegal immigration along the U.S. southern border. Of that, $3.6 billion was slated to come from the military construction funds, the Trump administration said during the Feb. 15 announcement.

The funds are being shifted from the Pentagon's 2019 fiscal year budget, which was approved earlier this year and runs through Sept. 30.
"President Trump's immigration efforts have failed since Day 1," said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee. "Today, he made it clear he is willing to take funds from our troops and disaster victims and divert them to try to protect his political right flank. And ultimately, that could put Americans at risk."
For months, Democrats have pushed to get a list of the projects that would be held in lieu of the wall. However, the Pentagon has remained tight-lipped until this week.
Congressional sources said a full list was slated to be released Wednesday, with lawmakers learning from the Pentagon which additional projects are on the chopping block.
Reed said the diversion of funds should be legally challenged and struck down in the courts. He encouraged broad, bipartisan opposition in Congress and the courts to "misusing defense dollars."
Traditionally, the Pentagon conducts a midyear review in April to hunt down budget savings that can be moved to programs that need the money. Now, the Pentagon is redirecting funds to the wall.
Congress is usually involved in approving the reallocation of military funds, otherwise known as "reprogramming." But not this time.
Following demands from lawmakers, the Pentagon had been slated to release the list of cut military construction projects in May, but the plans were delayed.


Google, YouTube To Pay $170 Million Penalty Over Collecting Kids' Personal Info

According to a complaint by the Federal Trade Commission, YouTube marketed itself as a top destination for kids in presentations to the makers of popular children's products and brands.
Patrick Semansky/AP
Updated at 11:29 a.m. ET
Google and its YouTube subsidiary will pay $170 million to settle allegations that YouTube collected personal information from children without their parents' consent, the Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday.
The companies allegedly collected information of children viewing videos on YouTube by tracking users of channels that are directed at kids. YouTube allegedly failed to notify parents or get their consent, violating laws that protect children's privacy, according to a complaint filed against the companies by the FTC and the New York attorney general.
YouTube earned millions of dollars by then using this information to target ads to the children, according to the complaint.
"YouTube touted its popularity with children to prospective corporate clients," FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a statement. "Yet when it came to complying with (the children privacy law), the company refused to acknowledge that portions of its platform were clearly directed to kids. There's no excuse for YouTube's violations of the law."
According to the complaint, YouTube marketed itself as a top destination for kids in presentations to the makers of popular children's products and brands.
For example, Google and YouTube told Mattel, maker of Barbie and Monster High toys, that "YouTube is today's leader in reaching children age 6-11 against top TV channels" and told Hasbro, which makes My Little Pony and Play-Doh, that YouTube is the "#1 website regularly visited by kids."
The FTC voted 3-2 to authorize the complaint and the final order in the case.
In his dissent, FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra said Google "baited children using nursery rhymes, cartoons, and other kid-directed content on curated YouTube channels to feed its massively profitable behavioral advertising business."
He noted that the "terms of the settlement were not even significant enough to make Google issue a warning to its investors." Chopra said he fears "the Commission brings down the hammer on small firms, while allowing large firms to get off easier."
The complaint said the companies' practices violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule, known as COPPA, under a 1998 law. Under the settlement, Google and YouTube will pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to the state of New York.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood was among several groups that had asked the FTC to investigate whether Google and YouTube violated the children's privacy law. CCFC Executive Director Josh Golin said in a statement that the group was pleased there will be "considerably less behavioral advertising targeted to children on the number one kids' site in the world."
But he added that "it's extremely disappointing that the FTC isn't requiring more substantive changes or doing more to hold Google accountable for harming children through years of illegal data collection."
A Google spokeswoman referred NPR to an official YouTube blog post. In that post, YouTube said, "Responsibility is our number one priority at YouTube, and nothing is more important than protecting kids and their privacy."
YouTube said that, in about four months, it will begin treating data "from anyone watching children's content on YouTube as coming from a child, regardless of the age of the user" and will stop serving personalized ads on this content and end comments and notifications on it.
People or companies that post content on YouTube will be required to tell YouTube if their videos represent children's content, YouTube said.
"In order to identify content made for kids, creators will be required to tell us when their content falls in this category, and we'll also use machine learning to find videos that clearly target young audiences, for example those that have an emphasis on kids characters, themes, toys, or games," YouTube said.
The company said the change "will have a significant business impact" on creators of family and children's content and that YouTube will help them in the transition. YouTube said it will set up a $100 million fund "dedicated to the creation of thoughtful, original children's content on YouTube and YouTube Kids globally."
In a separate statement, Simons and FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson said the settlement will require Google and YouTube to create a system "through which content creators must self-designate if they are child-directed. This obligation exceeds what any third party in the marketplace currently is required to do."
Editor's note: Google and YouTube are among NPR's sponsors.