Category: Local News

Roundtable talk on Immigration held at UTB

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. 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.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 10.23.35 AMTexas 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.

Three Convicted in Five-Year Drug Conspiracy

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.

Matamoros newspaper drops drug violence coverage; editor flees after kidnapping

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A newspaper editor from a Mexican border city considered his future Thursday, a day after three armed men dragged him from his office, beat him and threatened his life before letting him go.

Enrique Juarez Torres, editor of El Manana in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, said his kidnapping was a warning from the Gulf Cartel over publishing reports in Wednesday’s newspaper about gunfights in the area that killed nine people.

A total of 15 people have reportedly been killed since the weekend as rival factions of the cartel battle between the border cities of Matamoros and Reynosa.
Thursday’s edition of El Manana in Matamoros carried no mention of Juarez’s kidnapping nor the dummy grenade tossed at the door of city hall. Both stories appeared in its sister paper, El Manana in Reynosa.

Continue Reading HERE


Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 5.01.01 PM

By Juan Montoya
It’s an issue that has hung around the neck of every Cameron County Pct. 2 commissioner like an albatross since before Carlos Cascos filled that position.
Cascos was saddled with the illegal subdivision when the streets were still rutted with mud, outhouses were the norm, rodent-infested and weed-filled ditches lined what passed as roads, and the resaca to the rear of the colonia served as the community cesspool and dumpsite.

Before Cascos, commissioner Mike Cortinas was content to let matters stand as they were since the county did not accept the subdivision, but came about as a result of City of Brownsville inaction in processing the plat application.

This kind of “benign neglect” dominated the county and city’s attitude toward the colonia and it showed.

Continue Reading HERE


Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 4.46.25 PM
By Various Sources
Numerous reports indicate that a virtual state of war continues to plague northern Tamaulipas, with blocked roads and running gun battles in city streets and confrontations on the roads between Matamoros and Reynosa. Many media sources indicate that it is a war between factions of the Gulf Cartel and the military which have led to this newest outbreak of violence. Scores of gunmen and some civilians are said to have died in the last three days. The military forces, as usual, claims that they have suffered no casualties in the mayhem. The U.S. Consulate in Matamoros has issued advisories to its employees and American citizens to stay away from both cities and not to venture out on the roads.