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Category: Imperial County

Driver, 37 pounds of coke seized at U.S.-Mexico border

Confiscated cocaine seized in Calexico.
A Mexican citizen was arrested on suspicion of trying to sneak in nearly 37 pounds of cocaine at a border checkpoint in Calexico, federal authorities said Thursday.

The cocaine, worth an estimated $440,000 on the street, was sealed in 15 packages hidden in the quarter panels of the red 1999 Jeep Cherokee, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The 29-year-old Calexico resident driving the jeep was stopped Tuesday morning after a customs officer "noticed the driver was nervous," the department said in a statement.

Officers used drug-sniffing dogs and X-ray equipment to find the coke.

The man was turned over to federal investigators and was being held at the Imperial County Jail, authorities said. His name was not released. 

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— Robert J. Lopez

twitter.com/LAJourno

Photo: Confiscated cocaine. Credit: U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Ex-Imperial Valley official taped whipping stepson gets probation

Sanchez
A former director of the Imperial Irrigation District who was charged with felony child abuse after being filmed whipping his stepson with a belt has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and placed on three years' probation.

Anthony Sanchez was also ordered to do 50 hours of community service and enroll in an anger management class under a ruling this week by an Imperial County Superior Court judge. Sanchez pleaded guilty to a charge of child endangerment.

The case caused a national furor after the video, shot from a second-story window by Sanchez's neighbor in the community of Heber, was posted on YouTube and went viral. Sanchez then resigned from the water district's board of directors, an elected post, where he was serving his second four-year term.

Sanchez was apparently angry because the boy, who appears to be about 8, was unable to catch and throw a ball proficiently.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Heather Trapnell told the Imperial Valley Press that her office considers the sentence to be fair because "the most important thing to us is that he learns that this is not appropriate behavior."

Sanchez's attorney, Ryan Childers, told the paper that his client is pleased that he will not face jail time but that "his life has been changed in a way he never will be fully able to repair."

--Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: A still from the video that led to Anthony Sanchez facing criminal charges. Credit: KTLA

Burning pickup truck in Big Bear may be linked to fugitive ex-cop

This post has been updated. See note below for details.

Authorities were investigating a fire Thursday involving a pickup truck in the Big Bear area that may belong to a fugitive ex-Los Angeles police officer wanted in connection with a series of shootings that have left three people dead and two wounded, law enforcement sources told The Times.

The truck was was left in the snow amid pine trees as flames and black smoke curled into the air, according to TV news images. 

Law enforcement officers were responding to the area to confirm whether the vehicle was registered to Christopher Jordan Dorner, 33.

[Updated at 1:14 p.m., Feb. 7: There had been multiple reported sightings in the Big Bear area on Thursday of Dorner's pickup truck, sources said. Dorner was last seen wearing military fatigues and has a military ID. Coincidentally, at the Bear Mountain and Snow Summit ski resorts, customers who wore their military uniforms on Thursday could purchase a discounted $38 lift ticket.]

PHOTOS: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer

All schools in the Bear Valley School District were placed on lockdown about 12:25 p.m. as authorities responded to the blaze, a district spokesman told The Times.

Sean Jacques, director of loss prevention for Big Bear Mountain Resorts, said that after the burning truck was discovered on a forest service road, local law enforcement told resort officials to keep an eye out for Dorner and provided a suspect description.

“They said maintain vigilance,” he said.

TIMELINE: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer

Several law enforcement agencies are involved in the massive manhunt for Dorner and alerts have been issued all across California and in Nevada for the former officer suspected of killing a couple in Orange County earlier this week and fatally shooting a Riverside police officer Thursday morning.

The Los Angeles Police Department had dispatched units across the region to protect at least 40 officers and others named in the rambling manifesto that authorities say Dorner posted online.

Dorner, who was fired from the LAPD in 2009, is suspected of shooting three police officers, one of whom died, in Riverside County.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Searching for suspected shooter

Dorner also is suspected of killing a couple in Orange County earlier this week who were found shot in a car. One of the victims was the daughter of a former LAPD captain named in Dorner's supposed manifesto.

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Manhunt: Ex-LAPD cop thought to have stalked victims, sources say

This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

In the weeks leading up to his alleged shootings that left three dead and another wounded, former LAPD officer Christopher Jordan Dorner is thought to have stalked some of those named in a manifesto he is believed to have posted online, law enforcement sources told The Times.

Authorities were involved in a massive manhunt for Dorner, 33, and issued alerts across California and Nevada for the former cop, who is suspected of killing a couple in Orange County earlier this week and fatally shooting a Riverside police officer Thursday morning.

Dorner is suspected of visiting the homes of some of those named in the manifesto as he allegedly plotted out his attacks, according to the sources. 

TIMELINE: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer

They declined to provide additional details on Dorner's alleged visits, saying they did not want to compromise the ongoing investigation.

The Los Angeles Police Department had dispatched units across the area to protect at least 40 officers and others named in the rambling manifesto that Dorner allegedly posted online.

Dorner was believed to be carrying multiple weapons, including an assault rifle.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Searching for suspected shooter

Law enforcement authorities said they were concerned about Dorner's military background and weapons training. The lengthy online message allegedly written by the former Navy Reserve lieutenant threatened "unconventional and asymmetrical warfare" against police.
Continue reading »

Man deported after murder conviction arrested reentering U.S.

A 41-year-old man deported to Mexico in 1995 after being convicted of murder in Los Angeles County was arrested after reentering the United States illegally, federal authorities said Tuesday.

The man spent four years in state prison following the 1991 conviction and had his permanent resident card revoked, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

He was arrested over the weekend by Border Patrol agents at a checkpoint on California Highway 86 between Westmorland and Salton City in Imperial County. The man was detained pending federal charges for entering the country illegally, according to authorities.

His name was not released. No additional details were immediately available.

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-- Robert J. Lopez
twitter.com/LAJourno

String of Southern California earthquakes no cause for alarm

Southern California residents might be feeling more than their fair share of shaking lately, after quakes in Beverly Hills, Yorba Linda and Imperial County in the last month. But experts said it's really not unusual.

"We have several of these things every week in California, but usually they're out somewhere where they don't get this kind of attention," said U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Doug Given.

He said the Beverly Hills quakes attracted significant attention because they hit underneath a heavily populated area. Even the swarm of quakes in Imperial County — while strong and numerous — were far from rare.

Photo: The 1933 Long Beach earthquake

The two earthquakes that struck Beverly Hills last week occurred at the junction of two major fault lines, one of which produced one of Southern California's deadliest temblors.

Both faults are quite long, meaning they are capable of producing a destructive quake.

The Newport-Inglewood fault, beginning just off the Orange County coast and extending 50 miles northwest through Long Beach, Inglewood and into Beverly Hills, has been the subject of dire quake scenarios because it runs directly under some of the most densely populated areas of Southern California.

The 1933 Long Beach quake was a magnitude 6.3 temblor centered off the Orange County coast that killed 115 people, mainly in Long Beach and Compton. That was the second-largest number of fatalities in a California earthquake in recorded history. Damage to school buildings from that quake led to major steps toward earthquake-resistant construction in the state.

Continue reading »

California earthquake swarm: 19 homes red-tagged; temblors continue

PHOTOS: Earthquake swarm damages Imperial County buildings

Imperial County declared a local emergency on Wednesday as officials tallied damage from the swarm of earthquakes that continued Thursday.

There were more quakes overnight, but they were significantly smaller than the ones felt on Sunday when the swarm began.

The Imperial County Board of Supervisors declared the emergency after getting more information about damage. According to the Imperial Valley Press, 19 mobile homes have been red-tagged, several buildings -- including a school auditorium -- have been closed because of damage and water pipes broke. There has been no total damage estimate.

PHOTOS: Earthquake swarm damages Imperial County buildings

More than 400 earthquakes greater than magnitude 1.0 have been recorded in Imperial County since Saturday evening, said U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Elizabeth Cochran. The largest were a 5.3 and a 5.5 about midday Sunday.

Scientists say the reason is not fully understood, but there is a clue: Earthquake faults work much differently south of the Salton Sea than they do closer to Los Angeles.

Take, for instance, the San Andreas fault as it runs through Los Angeles County. It’s a fault where, generally speaking, two plates of the Earth’s crust are grinding past each other. The Pacific plate is moving to the northwest, while the North American plate is pushing to the southeast.

South of the Salton Sea, the fault dynamic changes. The Pacific and North American plates start to pull away from each other, Cochran told The Times from her Pasadena office. (That movement is what created the Gulf of California, which separates Baja California from the rest of Mexico.)

So Imperial County is caught between these two types of faults in what is called the Brawley Seismic Zone, which can lead to an earthquake swarm, Cochran said.

The  last major swarm was in 2005, Cochran said, when the largest magnitude was a 5.1. The largest swarm before last weekend's occurred in 1981, when the biggest quake topped out at 5.8. Before that, there were swarms in the 1960s and 1970s.
Continue reading »

California earthquake swarm enters third day; hundreds of temblors

Hundreds of earthquakes have rattled Imperial County since Sunday morning as an earthquake swarm continued.

But experts say the swarm does not necessarily indicates a larger temblor is on the way.

Certainly, the weekend's quakes were troubling for Imperial County, which is located in one of California's most earthquake prone regions. More than 400 earthquakes have been detected since Saturday evening, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. One local family felt 15 quakes in 21/2 hours.

PHOTOS: Earthquake swarm damages Imperial County buildings

But for all the ground movement, experts said there is no evidence the earthquake swarms were a precursor to much larger quakes on longer, more dangerous faults. And scientists don't see any immediate signs of added pressure to the San Andreas fault, which is not far from the location of the earthquake swarm.

That makes this weekend's swarm different than what occurred after the 2010 Easter Sunday quake that shook up the California-Mexico border. The 7.2 quake appeared to have directed tectonic stress northward, toward populated areas in Southern California. Three months after the Mexicali quake, a 5.4 quake that centered south of Palm Springs rattled the region.

Scientists said the Easter Sunday quake and its aftershocks triggered movement on at least six faults, including the Elsinore and San Jacinto faults, which run close to heavily populated areas in eastern Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire.

For now, there is no evidence that this weekend's swarm will trigger quakes elsewhere, U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones said.

No deaths or serious injuries have been reported from the weekend's swarm, but the shaking was sharp enough to postpone what was to be the first day of the school year in Brawley. Local officials reported 20 mobile homes shifted from their foundations and cosmetic damage to downtown buildings in this city of 25,000.

The swarming of earthquakes has occurred before in this largely agricultural, desert region near the Mexican border. The so-called Brawley seismic zone, about 100 miles east of San Diego, has endured earthquake swarms in the 1930s, '60s, and '70s, but was quiet between 1981 to 2000, according to a report on the Southern California Seismic Network.

In fact, some swarms in the '60s and '70s included "many thousands" of earthquakes, but the largest quakes during those sequences topped out at a magnitude 5.

"Swarms are fairly typical for this region," U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Elizabeth Cochran said. The last significant swarm occurred in 2005, when the largest quake was a 5.1. After a few days of quakes, the shaking tapered off.

Before this weekend's swarm, in which the top magnitudes were a 5.5 and 5.3 on Sunday, the most powerful swarm to hit the region was in 1981, when the most powerful quake reached 5.8.

There are a couple of reasons the Brawley seismic zone is prone to earthquake swarms.

The area is at the crossroads between two different types of faults, Cochran said.

To the region's northwest is the more familiar type of fault, where the Pacific Plate grinds past the North American plate, with one plate moving northwest and the other southeast.

But south of the border, the two plates are seeking to pull away from each other. (That movement is what created the Gulf of California, which separates Baja California from the rest of Mexico, Cochran said.)

Sitting at the crossroads of the different types of faults makes the area particularly volatile, Cochran said.

Another reason is the relative thinness of the Earth's crust in that region, which allows naturally occurring heat from subterranean rock to rise closer to the surface, increasing instability.

By Monday, the swarm appeared to be decreasing in frequency, Cochran said, although she didn't rule out the pace picking up again.

Previous earthquake swarms have gone on for days.

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California earthquake swarm unlikely to trigger massive temblor

What was the cause of hundreds of earthquakes in southeastern California over the weekend?

 

About 390 earthquakes greater than magnitude 1.0 have been recorded in Imperial County since Saturday evening, said U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Elizabeth Cochran. The largest were a 5.3 and a 5.5 about midday Sunday. Scientists say the reason is not fully understood, but there is a clue: Earthquake faults work much differently south of the Salton Sea than they do closer to Los Angeles.

Take, for instance, the San Andreas fault as it runs through Los Angeles County. It’s a fault where, generally speaking, two plates of the Earth’s crust want to grind past each other. The Pacific plate wants to move to the northwest, while the North American plate wants go southeast.

PHOTOS: Earthquake swarm damages Imperial County buildings

But south of the Salton Sea, the fault dynamic changes. The Pacific and North American plates start to pull away from each other, Cochran told The Times from her Pasadena office. (That movement is what created the Gulf of California, which separates Baja California from the rest of Mexico.)

So Imperial County is caught between these two types of faults in what is called the “Brawley Seismic Zone,” which can lead to an earthquake swarm, Cochran said.

Continue reading »

More than 390 earthquakes triggered in California 'swarm'

More than 390 earthquakes greater than magnitude 1 have hit Imperial County as part of a swarm that began Sunday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A  magnitude 3.8 temblor hit at 10:02 a.m. Sunday about three miles northwest of Brawley, a 25,000-population city nestled between the San Andreas and Imperial faults.

The vast majority of the quakes measured under magnitude 3.0, but two topped 5.0, according to USGS data. A 5.3 temblor hit about 12:30 p.m. Sunday; a 5.5 quake followed about 90 minutes later.

PHOTOS: Earthquake swarm damages Imperial County buildings

The quakes continued Monday but at a slower pace. The total would be significantly larger if quakes below magnitude 1 are included.

Residents in Brawley were continuing to assess damage.

Brawley schools were closed Monday -- what was supposed to be the first day of the school year -- as inspectors surveyed the sites for damage. Imperial Valley College, about 10 miles south of Brawley, was open after an inspection Sunday showed no damage, according to the school's website.

Continue reading »
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