Saturday, January 23, 2016

EL CHAPO: Capture & Connections to San Diego

Unless you’ve been living under a surprisingly well-excavated tunnel, you’ve probably heard by now kingpin Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, better known as El Chapo, has been captured. Again. This time, it happened after a nearly six-month manhunt that led authorities to Guzmán at the end of a sewage pipe in Los Mochis, Sinaloa.

For an overview, CNN tells the tale of the capture of “the most wanted, the most dangerous drug lord.”

Before tribute piñatas and interest in his fashion choices hit the mainstream, a perfect storm — tinged by correspondence with actor Sean Penn and a suspicious taco order— led authorities to Guzmán. The New York Times breaks it down:

Authorities had swept through 18 of his homes and properties in his native lands. Days on end in the inhospitable mountains, where even a billionaire like Mr. Guzmán was forced to rough it, left him yearning for a bit of comfort.

In early January, he arrived in the coastal city of Los Mochis, in Sinaloa, at a home where the authorities had trailed one of the chief tunnel diggers from his escape. Construction crews had been hard at work on the house for weeks. Telephone intercepts indicated that someone big was about to arrive.

The final bit of evidence was a food order, Mexican officials said.

Just two blocks away, a big order of tacos was picked up after midnight on Jan. 8 by a man driving a white van, like the one believed to be driven by Mr. Guzmán’s associates, witnesses said.

Hours later, at 4:30 a.m., the marines stormed the compound, meeting a knot of doors and fierce resistance from gunmen. Like many of Mr. Guzmán’s homes, this one was equipped with elaborate escape hatches: a decoy beneath the refrigerator, and another behind a closet mirror, which he used to flee as the battle raged.

Hours later, on a highway heading out of town, the authorities finally got Mr. Guzmán, arguably the most powerful drug dealer in the history of the trade, for the third time since 1993.

Penn spoke about his meeting with El Chapo and his widely criticized article about the drug lord with “60 Minutes” on Sunday. Penn says the get-together happened in early October, before the capture was set in motion:

“I think the policy of the war on drugs, which so deeply affects all of our lives, seems not to change. It seems to be so unmovable. And it occurs to me that often, because we want to simplify the problem, and we want to look at a black hat and put our resources into focusing on the bad guy and … and I understand that. I absolutely understand justice and the rule of law. And so I do what I call experiential journalism. I don’t have to be the one that reports on the alleged murders or the amount of narcotics that are brought in. I go and I spend time in the company of another human being, which everyone is. And I make an observation and try to parallel that, try to balance that with the focus that we– that I believe we– we tend to put too much emphasis on.”

You can find the “60 Minutes” interview transcript with the actor here.

El Chapo’s potential extradition to the U.S. will be a months-long process, but debate is already brewing on which jurisdiction he might land in. San Diego is a possibility.

“U.S. attorneys in seven jurisdictions have charged Guzmán, who was recaptured Friday in Mexico, with organized crime, murder and drug trafficking in his role as head of the Sinaloa cartel,” The LA Times reports, adding that San Diego prosecutors brought the first federal charges against Guzmán in the mid-’90s.

Not so fast, says the Union-Tribune’s Greg Moran. The reporter interviewed San Diego defense attorney Jan Ronis, who represented another drug kingpin, Benjamin Arellano Felix.

“I doubt he would come here, because the San Diego case is so old,” Ronis said. “Other cases are fresher, and they probably have more current witnesses and active cooperators on those.”

The U-T also had a great story detailing how El Chapo’s low-level foot soldiers do their jobs based on federal charges filed in San Diego three years ago: “The case illustrates the cycle of the drug business, from obtaining precursor chemicals in China to manufacturing the drugs in Mexico to smuggling them into the U.S. to laundering millions of dollars in illicit profits.”

Mula Ciega: Unaware Drug Smuggler?

Tijuana - Drugs have been discovered planted on vehicles crossing the border from Mexico into the US, their owners apparently totally unaware of their hidden, illegal cargo. 

Agents of CBP - Customs and Border Protection - working at the US border with Mexico routinely surveys underneath vehicles using a mirror extension device. 

The increased vigilance appears have been successful until recent reports from the municipal police of Tijuana. Several news stories have been reported lately of Tijuana police having found several heavily wrapped packages on the streets leading up to the border containing drugs, heavy magnets and a cell phone. The phone was likely planted to assist in locating the vehicle to remove the drugs, once it had successfully crossed the border into the US.

Always be careful where you leave your vehicle parked, unattended in Mexico.

Monday, January 11, 2016

San Felipe - Managing life by the tide tables

We live by the currents, plan by the tides, follow the sun and dream by the moon...

Tides and currents affect and influence the world all around us, paying homage to the cyclic nature of the cosmos. Those of us lucky enough to live by the sea are front row witnesses to the daily miracle of life with the ebb and flow of the seas. Tides and currents are what build and form our marine ecosystems around us. The relationship between man and the tides goes back to the beginning of time as coastal communities were formed, living off the tide pools and the bounty the tidal surges left behind each cycle. 

And so a strong link is formed to our moon above, in its constant game of tug-of-war with the earth below on the ocean masses encompassing our small planet. Our own bodies are made up of over 70% water; perhaps we feel that same gravitational pull too...

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2016: Severe Hurricanes Forecast for Mexico

Mexico will be affected by severe hurricanes, increased number of strong storms and longer periods of drought, according to a research carried out by the Institute Belisario Dominguez (IBD) released here today.

"Those will be the consequences of the changes occurred in the use of soils and the climate change in Mexico", indicated IBD, dependent on the Senate of the Republic.

The research said that the problems resulting from the loss of biodiversity and climate change are also public issues, the causes and effects of which change and affect the development of the country.

The research indicates that the average temperature in Mexico by year 2020 could be between 1.5 and 2.5 degrees Celsius higher that the current rates and also that they could rise up to two and four degrees Celsius by 2080.

The research said that hurricanes will not be the only consequence of the warming process underway in oceans, but also flooding linked to increased level of the sea, erosion and salinization of soils, surface waters and closest aquifer.

Areas that possibly will be affected include the Mexican states of Baja California Peninsula, Sinaloa, Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacán and Guerrero on the Pacific side as well as Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo on the Gulf of Mexico / Caribbean side of the Atlantic. Several tourist destinations may be affected including Todos Santos, Los Cabos, La Paz, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco and Cancun.

Stay tuned...

Monday, January 4, 2016

Using a GoPro in Baja?

How do you use your GoPro?

To encourage GoPro users to share more action-packed video footage and still photos, the company is offering rewards. The GoPro Awards will give you money when your snapshots, raw video or edited footage are selected for use on the GoPro Channel or licensed for other uses. Those rewards are $500, $1,000 and $5,000, respectively, and span a smattering of nine genres including motorsports, action, adventure and more.

GoPro is pretty serious about the program too, as it plans to shell out $5 million in rewards annually. The company says the awards program offers its customers a way to gain recognition for their efforts as its user base has "some of the most creative people on the planet."

Ready to submit your work? Head over the AWARDS PAGE to get started...

El Niño: On track, still growing and now arriving...

As the current strong El Niño brewing in the Pacific Ocean shows no signs of waning, its effects could be as bad as those of 1998, the strongest on record, according to NASA. The latest satellite imagery suggests the current El Niño is on track to rival or even surpass the biggest one ever recorded, in the winter of 1997-98.

Scientists don't know exactly how El Niño will take shape in the coming months.

The term El Niño (or El Nino for those who can't figure out how to type that letter on their keyboard) refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific.

Historically, February is our wettest month, and that is especially true with strong El Niños, where most of the precipitation occurs in that January, February, March time frame. 

With the arrival of a series of Pacific storms to the California - Baja California coastline this week, it appears that this may only be the beginning of what could be the strongest El Niño related storm season yet. 
Depending on its strength, El Niño can lead to major flooding, road / bridge failures, mudslides and heavy damage to coastal areas.

Not only will this string of storms bring heavy rainfall, the mountains are likely to receive some snowfall as well. Sierra Nevada is expected to receive feet of snow. This snowfall will be helpful in filling lakes and reservoirs during the warmer months. Travel may be hindered around the Donner Pass due to heavy snow throughout the week.

The first and the weakest storm will be seen on Monday with only light rain in Southern California. However, heavy rainfall is likely over areas of New Mexico, Arizona, and Baja California. San Francisco may receive some rain on Monday afternoon. Flagstaff in Arizona may observe some snowfall as well.

The storms next in line will be stronger and affect California and its adjoining areas from Tuesday through Friday. Heavy to very heavy rainfall along with widespread mountain snow is expected in Arizona, New Mexico, and California. Hills surrounding Los Angeles may be prone to some flooding and landslides as well along well traveled highways.

About 1 to 3 feet snow is expected in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco, in California and Flagstaff, and Arizona in Phoenix. After lashing Southwestern United States, storms will make a comeback over Northwestern United States next weekend. Travel problems will arise and it is strongly recommended to review and possibly reconsider unnecessary travel plans during the storm period as road closures, heavy traffic and dangerous driving conditions will likely be inevitable.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Storm warning for Baja California coastal regions

Ensenada - Authorities of the coastal municipalities of Baja California remain alert to the expected torrential rains that have are forecast to hit the regional coastal areas starting this evening and throughout the week.

In this port city, the head of the Department of Municipal Civil Protection (MCPD), Arturo Granados González announced that in the coming hours the Cold Front number 26 is expected to hit the region and with it will bring cold weather and rain along the jet stream.

"This has the potential to generate a major storm system according to reports from the National Meteorological Service (SMN), which continues to launch preventive measures in what are considered to be high risk areas of the urban area and delegations," he said.

He explained that the odds of heavy rainfall exceeded 50 percent for the entire next week, in addition a sharp drop in temperatures is forecast along with strong winds.

The San Pedro Martir area is expecting heavy snowfall and frost with temperatures expected to fall to 20-25 degree fahrenheit in the mountainous areas of the municipality.

He added that temporary shelters will be implemented where deemed necessary to provide protection to families who are in danger from the weather forecast.

Granados González called on the population to exercise caution and avoid taking any risks in face of the storm conditions and to take special care in the case of children and the elderly; vulnerable age groups.

In the municipality of Playas de Rosarito, the Municipal Public Security Bureau advised for the general population to take extreme precaution  during the coming rain events to help prevent traffic accidents.

The director of Municipal Public Security, Antonio Olea Joaquín López said that drivers should exercise extreme precaution and allow extra time when traveling to help avoid accidents during the traffic delays that are usually caused by these weather conditions. 

He noted that the number of accidents increases during the rainy season and is augmented by reckless driving, speeding on wet pavement, running red lights, and other traffic offenses.

He explained that municipal traffic police will be monitoring the traffic at the usual weather caused congestion points and if anyone should require assistance to use the telephone numbers 066 for emergencies, 089 for anonymous tips and 078 for tourist assistance.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Outdoor Surfboard Showers for Your Baja Palapa

Outdoor showers are always popular for beach living and are especially useful for washing off the sand before coming inside the casa. Here are a variety of ideas for outdoor showers on your patio using surfboards. I have seen a couple of these down here in Baja and they really caught my eye.

Best however, to make sure you get the OK from the surfer in your house first...