He denies it all now. It is unclear why he would have asserted it all in this phone call, however, if it were not true. Of course, there could be any number of reasons. But this case bears monitoring. “Infiltration from the south feared: Terrorist smuggling denied by admitted drug runner,” from The Brownsville Herald, with thanks to Richard:
Officials are pointing to records in a South Texas drug case with alleged terrorist ties that they say underscores the lack of preparedness here.
The attorney for a jailed Gulf Cartel member cited in the incident, however, says his client was falsely accused of trying to smuggle Iraqi terrorists into this country. He maintains the claims were brought to increase the punishment for a drug offense against the accused.
The allegations are debated but the danger is real, warns U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz who believes federal lawmakers do not realize the exposure that exists on this porous international boundary.
“There is a huge disconnect between Washington and the border,” Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, said and called the security issue “alarming.”
“˜Gente de Osama”
The January 2005 arrest of Noel Exinia and Cesario NuÃ±ez appeared to be just another Drug Enforcement Administration bust on the border, until court documents in the case are examined more closely.
A few days before their arrest on federal cocaine trafficking charges, Exinia and NuÃ±ez moved more than a quarter-ton of cocaine from Mexico through the Rio Grande Valley and on to New York City, the men told officials.
NuÃ±ez, 33, pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge in September. His sentencing is set for Thursday.
Exinia, 35, eventually pleaded guilty to the same charge. His sentencing is expected in March.
Court documents filed in Exinia’s case make frequent references to his position in the notorious Gulf Cartel. The paperwork also contains details of a December 2004 incident in which he tried to secure transportation for 20 Middle Eastern “terrorists” waiting to enter the United States from Monterrey, Chiapas and Puebla in Mexico.
Recorded telephone conversations authorized under the U.S. Patriot Act and a court order captured the La Feria truck driver referring to the 20 men as “gente de Osama” or “Osama’s people.”
During a Jan. 5, 2005, telephone conversation, Exinia described the men as “Iraqis,” ages 25 to 33, who were willing to pay $8,000 for transportation past Border Patrol checkpoints in South Texas and into the U.S. interior.
Exinia mentioned that eight of the men were coming to Progreso, northwest of Brownsville. He said they were “dangerous” and “really bad people.” They carried guns and made the smuggler that was helping them “afraid.”