The former USS Ranger, star of movies and television, is scheduled to arrive in Brownsville early Saturday morning to be cut up for scrap.
The decommissioned Forrestal-class aircraft carrier departed Bremerton, Washington, on March 5 under tow for the 16,000-nautical-mile voyage to Brownsville. The Navy announced in December that International Shipbreaking Ltd., based at the Port of Brownsville, had won the contract to tow and dismantle the aging warship.
The Ranger was built at the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. in the mid-1950s and commissioned in 1957 at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. It’s the only vessel of its class to spend its entire career in the Pacific Ocean.
The ship made 22 deployments in the Western Pacific and played an active role in Vietnam. The Ranger, the only West Coast-based carrier to deploy in support of Operation Desert Storm, was decommissioned in 1993 after more than 35 years of service.
The vessel ship spent eight years on the “donation hold” list, though the USS Ranger Foundation was unable to raise the funds necessary to convert the ship into a museum or to tow it up the Columbia River to Fairview, Oregon, which had proposed berthing the ship there as a museum.
Texas Tribune Editor Evan Smith at round table discussion with legislators Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. and Rep. Eddie Lucio III, Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben O. Villarreal and UTB government professor Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera. The Texas Tribune hosts weekly discussions on statewide topics affecting Texas. Photo By Raul Garcia Jr.[/caption]
By Raul Garcia Jr.
The Texas Tribune’s high powered news journalism made a stop in Brownsville to talk immigration politics with local legislators, leaders in education and the community to get a sense of what is really going on in the Rio Grande Valley and to get the immigration conversation going.
“They brought up the issues that we normally hear about but they brought them up with much more information than what we usually get,” said Ana Jacobo, UTB junior government and communications major. “They were able to discuss them better and tell us more and inform us about it.”
Texas Tribune Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith moderated the discussion with legislators Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. and Rep. Eddie Lucio III, Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben O. Villarreal and UTB government department chair assistant professor Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera.
During the talk Dr. Correra-Cabrera called the immigration system dysfunctional. Sen. Lucio had just filed a bill on immigration that morning and Mayor Villarreal was still struggling with he fact that three people had drowned near the shores of his community trying to swim to the American Dream.
Set between two international bridges and only a short walk from the Rio Grande River’s Texas/Mexico border the hot-button state and national discussion on Immigration was taking place in front of an audience of almost 300 people and broadcasted live on the internet. It was held at the University of Texas at Brownsville on Friday February 28. University officials, professors, students, local media and business people were invited to the free public discussion that was open to the public.
The Tribune’s Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith didn’t hold back any questions about the economic impact, border security, the Texas governor’s lawsuit against the president’s executive order on immigration, college tuition or if the father and son legislators stood on the same side of the governor’s position on immigration as he moderated the discussion.
“Were just no different than anybody else, everybody in the room is a Texan and I think we all have a stake in the outcome of this issue and there is not going to be any solution any time soon,” said Evan Smith, Texas Tribune editor-in-chief. “But I think it’s important to have the conversation to get people better informed and better engaged.”
Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben Villarreal said solutions are not complicated and he hopes discussions like the one he participated in with the Tribune will cut through the fogginess of the immigration issue and push it forward.
“What’s affecting Brownsville is affecting Rio Grande City. There are undocumented immigrants that are still coming through,” the Mayor said. “Immigration is not just about coming into this country, it’s about saving lives and giving life an opportunity to flourish.”
The Texas Tribune is an online nonpartisan non-profit news organization based in Austin, Texas. They report statewide issues on public policy, government, business and education. It was founded in 2009.
FEB 12 (BROWNSVILLE, Texas) – Mario Enrique Patlan, 45, Cristina Patlan, 23, and Reymundo Abel Brown Jr., 27, have all entered guilty pleas today in a long-running effort to smuggle drugs via UPS, announced Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit, Houston Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. All three are Brownsville residents.
Mario Patlan and Brown pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana and 500 grams of cocaine. As part of his plea, Mario Patlan is also forfeiting his interest in two residences in Brownsville. The conspiracy ran from 2007 to 2012.
Mario Patlan’s daughter – Cristina Patlan – entered her plea to possessing 37 kilograms of marijuana with intent to distribute in November 2011.
Evidence presented in support of the pleas demonstrated that Mario Patlan and Brown used their positions at UPS to receive and forward drug-ladened packages via UPS air and ground transportation. The packages were received in the area of Cameron County and were shipped throughout the U.S. During the time of the conspiracy, more than 1000 kilograms of marijuana was shipped via UPS to states such as Minnesota, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Michigan and New York.
As part of her plea, Cristina Patlan admitted she worked as a recruiter or go-between for her father and various drug trafficking organizations.
The trio will remain in custody pending sentencing, which is set for May 18, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen. At that time, Mario Patlan and Brown face a minimum of five and up to 40 years in federal prison and a possible $5 million fine. Cristina Patlan faces up to five and a possible $250,000 fine.
The charges are the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Lindenmuth, Lori Roth and Charles Lewis are prosecuting the case.