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A tank rolled through a residential neighborhood in Phoenix, Arizona, along with a SWAT team, armored vehicles, and because you can never be too careful, a bomb robot. So, what could have prompted such a show of force? A Mexican cartel beheading Arizonians in West Valley? An al Qadea cell, plotting a terrorist attack on Russell Pearce? Nope:

Sheriff Joe Arpaio rolled out the tanks to take down a man suspected of cockfighting.

Suspected. Of cockfighting. Really. Read More→

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In Arizona it takes a tank, the SWAT team and Steven Seagal to bust an alleged cockfighting ring.

Neighbours in the town of Lavine were woken Tuesday night to the site of a dozen SWAT team members and armoured vehicles surrounding a house on their street. Read More→

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who will never be confused with Sheriff Andy Taylor, has done it again.

The Arizona sheriff, who is currently the subject of FBI, United States Department of Justice, and Federal Grand Jury investigations for civil rights violations and abuse of power, can now add overkill to his impressive resume. Read More→

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The blood of a dead puppy is on Steven Seagal‘s hands … this according to an Arizona man who claims the actor participated in a deadly police raid on his home back in March that was taped for a reality show.

Seagal, along with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, has been served with an official notice of claim from Jesus Sanchez Llovera — who contends Seagal and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department performed an “unfounded” raid on his home because they believed Jesus was operating an illegal cockfighting farm.  Jesus denies the allegation — insisting he only raises the roosters “for show.” Read More→

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A convoy of armored vehicles descends on a simple suburban home outside Phoenix, Arizona. But the homeowner is not a terrorist. The man is wanted on suspicion of cockfighting.

One of the officers dressed in full SWAT gear is none other than action-hero Steven Seagal. Seagal rode in on a tank to make an arrest for the new season of his hit cable TV show,Steven Seagal: Lawman. Read More→

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Não é raro que os órgãos policiais tenham helicópteros e aviões para patrulhar do alto, mas o delegado do condado de Maricopa, Joe Arpaio, criou o que ele chama de sua própria força aérea: uma coleção de 30 aviões particulares que sua “equipe aérea” usa para perseguir imigrantes ilegais e traficantes de drogas.

No que Arpaio está chamando de Operação Céu do Deserto, pilotos particulares começaram a voar sobre o centro do Arizona para atuar como batedores para o Departamento de Polícia do condado de Maricopa. A vigilância aérea ainda não levou a qualquer detenção, duas semanas depois de seu início, mas Arpaio disse que terá um efeito dissuasor. Read More→

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Joe Arpaio montou uma frota de 30 aviões particulares que sua equipe utiliza para rastrear imigrantes ilegais e traficantes de drogas

Não é incomum as autoridades utilizarem helicópteros e aviões na patrulha aérea, entretanto, o Xerife Joe Arpaio, do Condado de Maricopa, criou o que ele considera sua própria força área: uma frota de 30 aviões particulares que sua equipe utiliza para rastrear imigrantes ilegais e traficantes de drogas.

Durante o que Arpaio considera “Operação Céu do Deserto”, pilotos particulares voam sobre a região central do Arizona e agem como “fiscais” do xerife do Condado de Maricopa. A vigilância aérea ainda não resultou em muitas prisões, 2 semanas depois de ter começado, entretanto, Arpaio justificou uma vantagem: Em resumo, ele ainda continua em evidência.

Apesar da derrota na Corte da polêmica lei contra a imigração ilegal no Arizona, duas investigações federais simultâneas focalizando as ações de Arpaio e uma auditoria de seu orçamento realizada essa semana revelaram que milhões de dólares foram gastos indevidamente pelo xerife. Mesmo assim, a “Força Aérea de Arpaio” não desiste de seu objetivo de perseguir imigrantes ou de permanecer em evidência.

“Esse é simplesmente um programa controverso que eu não considero controverso”, justificou Arpaio em seu jeito tradicional.

Na quarta-feira (13), fiscais do orçamento do Condado de Maricopa, uma área tão grande como alguns estados que inclui Phoenix, a sexta maior cidade do país, revelou que a administração de Arpaio gastou quase US$ 100 milhões em fundos destinados à manutenção de penitenciárias e outras atividades, incluindo o pagamento do salário de funcionários interinos dedicados a combater o tráfico humano e a corrupção pública.

Arpaio, que alega erros na audição e acusa os críticos de tentar explorá-la, faltou a audiência sobre o orçamento e ao invés disso apareceu em frente à lavanderia Monte Carlo, onde seus representantes levaram presos 6 mulheres acusadas de utilizarem identificações falsas para conseguir empregos, um crime estadual.

Como sempre, os canais de televisão foram convidados para filmarem o discurso do xerife, que declarou que as prisões representavam o 44º estabelecimento comercial vistoriado em busca de imigrantes ilegais nos últimos anos. Apesar da pressão crescente contra seu departamento, Arpaio, trajando a jaqueta do uniforme com 4 estrelas douradas em cada ombro, não demonstrou preocupação.

Antes da lavanderia, os representantes de Arpaio vistoriaram o Pei Wei Diners, detendo dezenas de trabalhadores, fazendo com que a cadeia de restaurantes publica-se uma página inteira em busca de trabalhadores para suas cozinhas. Em toda a região, inúmeras lanchonetes, lava-jatos, lojas de móveis e outros estabelecimentos já receberam a visita de representantes do xerife exigindo documentações.

“Nós estamos criando vagas nesses negócios para pessoas que possam ser contratadas legalmente”, justificou Arpaio. “Tenho contribuído para a economia. Não sou merecidamente reconhecido por isso, desde o Departamento de Justiça aos críticos. Eles simplesmente pensam que se trata de um xerife malvado prendendo lavadores de pratos”.

O Condado de Maricopa possui uma relação de amor e ódio com relação a Arpaio, um veterano de 18 anos na função que tem com frequência ativistas realizando manifestações em frente ao prédio de seu escritório no centro da cidade, mas que ainda recebe parabéns de fãs nas ruas e convites de políticos ávidos pelo seu apoio.

Do lado de fora da lavanderia, um cliente que não pode deixar suas camisas para lavar na quarta-feira (13) de manhã, porque a loja não aceitava encomendas, elogiou as batidas realizadas por Arpaio e comentou: “Se eles estão ilegalmente no país, ele devem sair daqui”.

Entretanto, uma mulher que pegava sua roupa na mesma lavanderia parecia furiosa, enquanto esperava a confusão passar. “Estamos cansados do Xerife Arpaio”, disse ela, que como vários outros no local não quiseram ser identificados. “Esses trabalhadores estão sustentando suas famílias. Eles não são violentos. Isso é ridículo”.

As críticas foram tão pesadas quanto aquelas ocorridas mês passado, quando Arpaio permitiu que o ator de Hollywood Steven Seagal embarcasse em um veículo blindado para participar de uma operação de busca de suspeitos em organizarem rinhas de galos.

“Nunca vi um espetáculo maior”, disse Robert J. Campos, advogado que representa o suspeito, Jesus Llovera. “Você tinha o Steven Seagal a bordo de um tanque e um grupo da SWAT cercando a casa, mas na realidade eles prenderam um homem desarmado”.

Para obter dicas sobre que estabelecimento comercial será submetido à batidas, Arpaio utiliza uma hotline confidencial, cujo número está impresso em tamanho gigante no lado de sua viatura que transporta os detentos. “Meus amigos ativistas não gostam”, disse ele com relação às denúncias. “Alguns políticos não gostam, mas eu decido o que acontece”.

Ex-funcionários e empregados atuais insatisfeitos representam a maioria dos informantes, segundo os representes da administração atual, pois fornecem informações precisas sobre imigrantes ilegais que trabalham em um determinado estabelecimento. Inúmeras denúncias, entretanto, vêm de clientes aborrecidos por encontrar tantos latinos trabalhando em um determinado local.

“Nós recebemos ligações o tempo todo; há hispânicos no McDonald que não falam inglês”, disse o tenente Joe Sousa, comandante da Divisão de Combate ao Tráfico Humano. “Caso haja preconceito racial; não levo em consideração. Nós precisamos de mais detalhes”.

A hotline também recebe inúmeras ligações sobre a atuação de Arpaio. “Muitas ligações são: ‘Muito bem, Joe!’ ou ‘Nós te odiamos, Joe!’ Reconheceu Sousa.

Durante uma entrevista em seu escritório, Arpaio pareceu ignorar a crescente onda de críticas sobre o seu trabalho. Ele disse que provavelmente lançará uma nova série de cuecas cor de rosa para seus detentos, retirando um modelo de dentro de uma de suas gavetas.

O Presidente pode até impedir temporariamente o tráfego aéreo sobre a Líbia, mas nunca haverá uma proibição do tráfego aéreo sobre a minha área, pausando por um momento e, então, acrescentando “essa é uma boa frase, não é?!”

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A 26-year-old Youngtown man was arrested Thursday afternoon in connection with an April 4 road rage incident that left the elderly victim in an intensive care unit, Peoria police said.

Officers arrested Erik Souther after receiving numerous tips from Valley residents who recognized him from media releases, authorities said.

Police arrested him at a friend’s house in Phoenix around 5 p.m., according to Jay Davies, spokesman for the Peoria Police Department.

On April 4, Souther allegedly jumped out of his car at a traffic stop near his home in response to an escalating road rage argument.

Davies said Souther pulled the 72-year-old victim from his car in the 9200 block of West Thunderbird Road around 7:15 p.m. and began to punch and kick him.

The beating left the victim with two brain bleeds, requiring transportation to the intensive care unit, according to Davies.

Shortly after the attack, a 911 call was placed from a nearby Circle K, apparently by Souther.

Souther was booked into the 4th Avenue Jail and is expected to face charges of aggravated assault.

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MESA, Ariz. — It is not uncommon for law enforcement agencies to have helicopters and planes to patrol from above, but Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, has created what he calls his own air force: a collection of 30 private planes that his “air posse” uses to track illegal immigrants and drug smugglers.

In what Mr. Arpaio is calling Operation Desert Sky, private pilots have begun flying over central Arizona to act as spotters for Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department deputies. The overhead surveillance has not yet led to any arrests, two weeks after it began, but Mr. Arpaio said it would have a deterrent effect.

In short, Sheriff Joe — as he is widely known — is still at it.

Despite court setbacks to Arizona’s aggressive illegalimmigration law, two continuing federal investigations into his law enforcement practices and an audit of his budget released this week that found that millions of dollars had been misspent, the sheriff — as vividly highlighted by the creation of the Arpaio air force — is not backing down in his pursuit of illegal immigrants, or the limelight.

“This is just another controversial program that I don’t think is controversial,” Mr. Arpaio said in his characteristic gruff way.

On Wednesday, budget officials in Maricopa County — a sprawling place as large as some states that includes Phoenix, the country’s sixth-largest city — found that Mr. Arpaio’s department had used nearly $100 million in funds meant to run the jails for other activities, including paying the salaries of deputies assigned to his contentious efforts to uncover human smuggling and public corruption.

Mr. Arpaio, who blames accounting errors for the audit finding and accuses critics of trying to exploit it, skipped the budget hearing and instead showed up outside Monte Carlo Dry Cleaners here, where his deputies led away six women who were charged with using false identification to get jobs, a state crime.

As always, the news media were called to capture the tough-talking sheriff, who declared that this represented the 44th business he had raided in search of illegal immigrants in recent years. If he was feeling the heat from the growing criticism of his department, Mr. Arpaio, dressed in a uniform jacket with four gold stars on each shoulder, was not showing it.

Before the dry cleaners, Mr. Arpaio’s deputies had raided a string of Pei Wei Asian Diners, detaining scores of workers and prompting the chain to take out a full-page help-wanted ad to keep its kitchens going. Across the region are fast food shops, car washes, furniture stores and other establishments that have had sheriff’s deputies unexpectedly rush in demanding papers.

“We’re creating vacancies so these businesses can hire people legally,” Mr. Arpaio said. “I’ve just done something for the economy. I don’t get enough credit for that, from the Justice Department and the rest of the critics. They just think it’s the bad sheriff going in and grabbing dishwashers.”

Maricopa has a love-hate relationship with Mr. Arpaio, 78, an 18-year veteran who has regular protesters outside his downtown offices but still receives kudos from fans on the street and invitations from politicians eager for his endorsement.

Outside the dry cleaners, a man who was not able to drop off some shirts on Wednesday morning, because the store was not accepting new laundry, lauded Mr. Arpaio’s raids and declared of the detained workers: “If they were in the country illegally, they need to get out of here.”

But a woman who was picking up her cleaning was fuming as she waited for the commotion to end. “We’re tired of Sheriff Joe,” said the woman, who like several others at the scene declined to identify themselves. “These workers were supporting their families. They weren’t violent. This is ridiculous.”

The criticism was just as fierce last month when Mr. Arpaio allowed the actor Steven Seagal to ride in an armored vehicle to execute a search warrant in a major raid on a suspected cockfighting operation.

“I’ve never seen a bigger spectacle,” said Robert J. Campos, the lawyer for the accused man, Jesus Llovera. “You had Steven Seagal on a tank and a SWAT team swarming a home, but the reality is they arrested an unarmed man.”

Mr. Arpaio said Mr. Seagal was one of his many volunteer posse members who help out deputies. But Mr. Campos said the raid was filmed as part of Mr. Seagal’s reality television show, “Lawman,” on the A&E Network.

To get tips on which business to raid next, Mr. Arpaio uses a confidential hot line, the number of which is emblazoned on the side of the wagon used to transport suspects to Mr. Arpaio’s tent-city jail.

“My activist friends don’t like it,” Mr. Arpaio said of the use of tipsters. “Some politicians don’t like it. But I decide what goes on.”

Disgruntled current and former workers make up the most effective informants, deputies say, since they offer the most precise information on suspected illegal immigrants working at a business. Many tips, however, are from customers upset to find so many Latinos working in a particular place.

“We get calls all the time that say, ‘There’s Hispanics in a McDonald’s and they don’t speak English,’ ” said Lt. Joe Sousa, commander of the department’s human smuggling division. “That’s racial profiling, and I ignore that. We need specifics.”

The hot line also receives plenty of calls commenting on Mr. Arpaio. “A lot of calls are ‘Way to go, Joe!’ or ‘We hate you, Joe.’ ” Lieutenant Sousa acknowledged.

Mr. Arpaio has growing competition for the title of the most outspoken Arizona sheriff when it comes to illegal immigration.

Larry Dever, the sheriff of Cochise County, on the Mexican border, recently drew the ire of Michael J. Fisher, chief of the federal Border Patrol, when he claimed that the patrol’s agents were intentionally not arresting some illegal immigrants to keep apprehension numbers down. “Completely, 100 percent false,” Mr. Fisher responded in a letter.

And Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County has declared his county to be ground zero when it comes to smuggling. In early February, he predicted that his deputies would engage in a major shootout with drug cartel members in a month or two. His remarks prompted three border mayors to write a letter telling him to stop stretching the truth and “creating panic.”

Mr. Arpaio asked Mr. Babeu to investigate allegations that three of Mr. Arpaio’s aides, including his chief deputy, David Hendershott, had engaged in misconduct on the job. Mr. Babeu delivered the results to Mr. Arpaio this week, although they have not yet been made public.

In an interview in his office, Mr. Arpaio was dismissive of the growing chorus of criticism of his stewardship. He said he might introduce a new set of pink underwear for his inmates, a sample of which he pulled out of a filing cabinet with a flourish.

“The president may have a no-fly zone over Libya, but there will never be a no-fly zone over my area,” he said, pausing for a moment and then adding, “That’s a good line, isn’t it?

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A former Glendale police officer accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to teenage girls and sexually abusing one of them will not be prosecuted.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office decided not to pursue a case against 25-year-old Christopher Balmaceda, who had worked off-duty at Mountain Ridge High School, despite a recommendation from police that he be charged with one count of sexual abuse and four counts of luring a minor for sexual exploitation.

“We determined there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction in this case,” said Jerry Cobb, a spokesman for the County Attorney’s Office.

He said prosecutors were concerned about the 17-year-old girl who said she was sexually abused. The teen said she aimed to report the officer’s wrongdoing.

The teen told Glendale detectives that “her plan was to get enough information to tell someone what Christopher was doing,” according to the police report.

Those statements made it difficult for prosecutors to prove a lack of consent to sexual abuse and explicit text messages, Cobb said.

The spokesman said prosecutors also believed they didn’t have the evidence to charge the former officer with luring, as a cellphone provider couldn’t provide the text of messages, only the number of messages between Balmaceda and students.

Sgt. Brent Coombs, a Glendale police spokesman, said detectives communicated with prosecutors early in the investigation and submitted what they believed to be a “very thorough investigation.”

Glendale police launched an internal probe of Balmaceda in late January after a report that teens had received suggestive messages from Balmaceda.

Police found that Balmaceda, who worked at the school twice a month, had sent about 3,600 text messages to female students from September 2010 through January, according to an internal investigation.

Police began a criminal investigation after a 17-year-old said Balmaceda, a married father, had kissed and touched her in January after she met him at an abandoned grocery store while he was on duty.

Investigators confronted the officer.

“Balmaceda admitted to me that from September 2010 through January 2011 he sent numerous sexually explicit text messages to four female Mountain Ridge High School students for the purpose of gratifying a sexual desire,” a Glendale sergeant wrote in an internal review.

According to the report, Balmaceda also admitted to the encounter with the 17-year-old. He submitted a resignation letter two days after the interview.

He did not speak to detectives investigating potential criminal violations. Federal law prevents prosecutors from discussing confessions or admissions during internal police investigations in court.

Balmaceda would not comment on the allegations or the latest decision.

Two former sex-crimes prosecutors raised questions about Maricopa County attorneys’ decision not to charge the former officer.

The presence of multiple victims and Balmaceda’s status as a police officer made this an important case to pursue, said Robin Sax, who spent 15 years as a sex-crimes prosecutor in Los Angeles.

“The touching plus the texts is way beyond what you would need for some charge,” Sax said. “We hold people who take care of our children to a higher level.”

Robert J. Campos, a Phoenix defense attorney who spent five years in Maricopa County’s sex-crimes unit, said he was concerned by the officer’s communications with at least four students.

Still, he acknowledged that prosecutors may have hesitated if the victim didn’t seem credible.

“When you talk to somebody who’s been a victim, you’re either going to immediately believe them or you’re going to be unsure,” Campos said. “If at a gut level, I believed, I took it to trial and I always won those cases.”

 

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"I’ll start this letter by first letting you know that I was very impressed by your performances in court. I want to thank you very much for a job well done… May your continued success to help others in such situations as mine to not only get them out of jail or prison, but to let them go back to their families and their lives back on track. Once again, job well done and God bless you and your family." — Rene

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