Synergy Spanish

This system teaches you Spanish, the easy way - not the academic way. With only 138 words you will be speaking Spanish.

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The Best Vet in Mexicali!

Dr. Rafael, the best veterinarian anywhere; he's close to the border, speaks English and has lived in Arizona! Click

Mexican Auto Insurance

This company has been with us since 2008. They are the oldest and best established insurer for those of you travelling to Mexico.
Mexico Insurance


Ocotillo California on US Hwy 8

There are very cheap rentals in Mexicali. I found a house for an American friend for only $400 a month. It was a proper house – two stories, three bedrooms, an office, a huge living room, a beautiful garden in the rear, and a parking space behind a locked gate to the property. For us, the best site to find rentals in Mexicali is https://casas.trovit.com.mx/renta-mexicali.

Once in Trovit, stick to the street that you will find yourself on when you enter into Mexicali. After a couple of miles going East, you will probably see some rentals and that is the safest area. If you go farther south in Mexicali you will hit some not-so-good neighborhoods which you should avoid.

Ocotillo Turn Off

Ocotillo Turn Off

Another option is to look in the US towns just north of the border – Calexico, El Centro, and Heber. Going West on Highway 8, about 30 miles from El Centro you will hit, on the right (North side), a town named Ocotillo.

At first glance, Ocotillo may not look too good, but it is very safe and inexpensive. I’ve been there and love the place. There is a trailer park called Jackson’s Hideaway where you can rent a nice trailer – TV and all for about $300 to $400 a month. On the second Thursday of each month a large truck arrives at the community center and it’s free food for all residents. Fresh stuff including chicken, steaks, you name it. The town has a church, a bar, and a restaurant.

There is also the Ocotillo Trailer Park and Motel – I don’t recommend it although it is near the center of town and not all that bad.

One of our readers wrote me:

MaryAnn, the first time I saw Jackson’s Hideaway I was visiting a friend who wintered there each year, moving his fifth wheel trailer between Oregon and the Anza-Borrego Desert on the snowbird route. I was in a little van which served me well for short trips but wasn’t all that comfortable on a long haul. I told my friend I’d considered heading into El Centro (30 miles east) to get a motel and he suggested Jackson’s have “something better.” He was right. About half of their spaces are occupied by trailers permanently installed on spaces–which they rent. Don’t think ‘trailer’ as much as ‘fully equipped cabin’ or maybe ‘motel room with kitchenette’. Clean linens, kitchenware, air conditioning, cable television…heck, even a coffee pot! And the rents aren’t much higher than the space rental for those, like my friend, who bring their own trailer.

And talk about quiet…noisiest thing in that neighborhood are the mourning doves that send up their mating calls at the crack of dawn. There aren’t any ‘services’ to speak of in Ocotillo itself (one bar, one so-so greasy spoon, one gas station) but El Centro is handy and has everything for shopping/dining. But the best feature of Jackson’s location is that it sits on the southeast corner of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park with an almost inexhaustible supply of hiking and 4-wheeling trails.

I’ve become a regular visitor, and plan to return again and again.

Ocotillo has a fire department, a church, an airport, a gas station, a small market with a restaurant, a bar two community centers, and two water companies. Most of the properties are on about a quarter of an acre, and for only $28 you can get up to 40,000 gallons of the best water you have ever tasted. The water is natural and comes from two huge aquifers and is among the highest rated water in the U. S. – or anywhere.

Ocotillo had a population of 281 as of July 1, 2016 and an average house price of around $40,000. One property with a manufactured home and several other buildings with a truck, a motorcycle several tractors and two RV’s sold about a year ago for $7,000!

Sound interesting? You bet!

We love Baja California, but Puebla?

Jim and I always like to write about all the things that are great about Mexico. However, as in most countries, not everything is great. We prefer those areas in Mexico which are contiguous with the western United States border—in short, northern Baja California. As Jim likes to say, “Boy am I glad we moved to Mexicali, where else can you rent a beautiful 4 bedroom house with a 3-car garage for 500 bucks a month!”

Mexicali is super, along with the Guadalupe Wine Valley in Baja California on Highway 3 between Tecate and Ensenada. The beaches from the U.S. border to Ensenada are as good as Malibu and at a small fraction of the price of traveling or living there.

Fuel thefts of gas by location

Fuel thefts of gas by location

However, farther south and deeper in to Mexico, the state of Puebla and other locations are suffering from the huachicolero effect: the people are not buying fuel from gas stations anymore and they are even abandoning their traditional farming activities. Sorry, but my job is to keep you informed.

People who engage in the illegal theft and sale of fuel (gasoline or diesel) and adulterated alcoholic beverages in Mexico are called huachicoleros.

The word “huachicolero” is derived from “huachicol,” which is an alcoholic beverage adulterated with cane alcohol and other compounds. This word is also used to name the stolen fuel which can be equally adulterated.

An estimated 10,000 illegal fuel outlets have appeared so far this year in Mexico. They are selling discounted fuel stolen from Pemex, the Mexican petroleum company’s pipelines and severely affecting sales at established gas stations.

These clandestine gas stations sell on the streets, in automotive shops, at tianguis [markets] and even have home delivery systems. The sales of established gas stations have dropped by 50% throughout Puebla, and in towns like Esperanza and San Martín Texmelucan, by up to 70%.

Gas stations in the Red Triangle region of the state—where much of the pipeline theft takes place, conducted by thieves known as huachicoleros—used to sell 10,000 liters of fuel a day but now those figures have dropped to between 2,000 and 3,000 liters. Consequently, legal filling stations are on the brink of shutting down because sales aren’t enough to pay for their expenses.

Pemex and Mexico are losing millions, gas stations are closing, as they are being threatened by the huachicoleros.

It is impossible for an established gas station to sell stolen fuel because their inventory data is connected to Pemex and the federal taxation administration, SAT, allowing for easy detection of any irregular delivery of fuel.

While established fuel vendors see their sales plummet, a report by Pemex says the sale and distribution of stolen fuel has become the main productive activity in various Puebla communities.

Sources within the state oil company told the newspaper Reforma they have identified not only communities but whole municipalities that have abandoned traditional farming and livestock breeding to steal fuel, tapping into the 131 kilometers of pipelines that traverse the state. Selling stolen gas is proving to be a far more profitable activity than farming.

At least 17 municipalities are experiencing an economic boom as a result. One is San Matías Tlalancaleca, where 14 communities are now engaged delivering stolen fuel instead of milk.

The activity does have its drawbacks, continued the Pemex sources: disputes over control of the black market for stolen fuel have generated confrontations among locals, culminating in murder, vehicle theft and vendettas.

After last week’s confrontations between security forces and fuel thieves in Puebla, the leader of a local pipeline tapping gang has been forced to leave the town of Palmarito Tochapan, Quecholac.

De los Santos was employed as a municipal police officer in the neighboring state of Veracruz before relocating to Puebla and creating a network of fuel thieves, or huachicoleros, according to investigations by authorities.

Gustavo Martínez Jiménez, also known as “El Vieja,” was identified by residents of Palmarito as being responsible for the confrontation on May 3, 2017 with federal forces, where six civilians and four soldiers died. As a result, neighbors forced Gustavo Martínez Jiménez to leave town even throwing stones at his home.

Meanwhile, efforts are under way to contain and stop the increasing violence among gangs stealing fuel. The state of Puebla and the National Defense Secretariat have deployed a joint force of 3,000 soldiers and police officers.

State authorities reported that up until early May of this year an astounding 149 illegal pipeline taps had been located and over 2 million liters of stolen fuel had been recovered, along with 1,123 vehicles used to transport it.

So far, this year, 354 people have been arrested for their participation in fuel thefts.

Tapping pipelines and stealing the fuel in Puebla’s Red Triangle region is controlled by the Zetas and Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) crime cartels, according to Pemex and government officials.

According to Pemex sources quoted by the newspaper Reforma, small bands of huachicoleros have focused on communities in the municipalities of Tepeaca, Acatzingo, Quecholac, Palmar de Bravo and Acajete.

The Red Triangle sees such a high incidence of fuel theft because of the large number of gasoline pipelines crossing it from the Gulf of Mexico to the central states of Mexico.

A Pemex official said on condition of anonymity that most of the thieves are Zetas and the confrontations witnessed in recent months are part of a turf war for total control of the region and the stolen gasoline black market.

He said members of the Zetas and the CJNG train people living in the Red Triangle municipalities in pipeline tapping and fuel distribution.

One of the local leaders in pipeline theft is known only by his nickname, El Bukanas. A former construction worker and farmer, he now controls the activity in Palmar de Bravo and has been tied to instances of kidnapping and homicide.

After a massive crackdown by federal and state forces last March, El Bukanas is believed to have fled to the neighboring state of Veracruz.

As tourists, these are not the folks you want to mess with—or even buy your gas from. Jim and I want you all to stay safe.

June 27, 2017 Update:

Fourteen months after the creation of seven military units dedicated to safeguarding Mexico’s petroleum pipelines from theft there is no sign that they have made any difference.

In March of last year Petróleos Mexicanos either paid for or donated seven facilities at which National Defense and Navy officials were to be deployed, where their sole mission was to be the protection of the state oil company’s infrastructure.

The facilities were strategically located in the states of Puebla, Baja California, Sinaloa, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Michoacán and Veracruz.

The Puebla facility, for example, constantly monitors a Pemex storage and dispatch terminal, where officials can detect minute changes in the pipeline’s pressure caused by leaks or illegal taps, allowing them to respond immediately and investigate.

In spite of the increased surveillance, the number of illegal taps reported through 2016 and so far this year has continued to rise unabated.

Meanwhile, Puebla Governor José Antonio Gali Fayad has announced a second stage of the Zaragoza Shield security program, which has recovered 2.5 million liters of stolen fuel and resulted in the arrest of 450 people.Public Security Secretary Jesús Morales Rodríguez said 182 state and municipal police, 30 patrol cars and a helicopter have been assigned to the operation, which has a broad security mandate to combat home and vehicle robberies and muggings as well as pipeline theft.

Mexicali’s New 911 Number!

Mexico's logo for its new 911 number

Mexico’s logo for its new 911 number

Calexico Police Dispatcher Leopoldo Miramon reported that they’re having a lot of problems with the emergency 911 number. This has been caused by Mexicali’s implementation of its own 911 emergency number.

Here is an example: “911. Where is your emergency? Hello. Do you have an emergency? For instance, they hung up,” Miramon said as he hung up the phone.

Miramon said that may have been somebody from Mexicali calling Mexicali’s new 911 number and getting Calexico by mistake. And it’s happening a lot and creating a problem.

“They’ve extremely backed up the system itself. We only have three emergency lines at this time, which is enough for a small city like Calexico. However, now that Mexicali has converted over to the 911 system where they’re not using the old 066 number any longer, we get multiple calls,” Miramon said.

Lieutenant Gonzalo Gerardo explains it all began about three months ago when Mexico changed their emergency number. “If they’re in the proximity of the antenna, it’ll pick up their cell phone 911 and it comes to us here in Calexico,” Gerardo said.

This can affect Calexico residents as Mexicali is a large city of nearly a million residents and generates lots of 911 calls..

“So, at that point you’re going to tap all our 911 lines with calls from Mexicali. And if somebody from the U.S. is trying to get through with a medical call or something like that, it’s going to delay us answering their calls because we’re busy answering the 911s from Mexico,” Gerardo said.

The mix-up affects Mexicali residents as well. “They call 911, they hear us asking 911 in English, and they’ll hang up,” Miramon said, pointing to the call that had just come during our interview.

Police are working with telecommunication providers to solve the problem. Police ask the public to use 911 exclusively for emergencies or face negative consequences.

“It could be subject to arrest. And it’s happened in the past,” Miramon said.

Miramon went on to explain that if a person continues to use 911 for any other purpose than an emergency in progress, that person could face arrest. To keep 911 lines open for real emergencies is a matter of life and death, he said.

Still, the calls from Mexicali are apparently honest mistakes as the use of the 911 number is new to Mexicali.

As recently as November 15, 2016, a joint training session was carried out for the use of the new 911 emergency number in Mexicali between the Directorate of Private Security Services (DSSP) and the Control, Command, Communication and Computation Center (C4) in Mexicali.

The DSSP Director, César Román Díaz López, said that in coordination with C4’s Deputy Director of Operations, Sergio García Aceves carried out this training to provide emergency 911 training tools to entrepreneurs, which will allow them to help the public.

During the joint training session, 30 private security firms were explained the functions of the new 911 number and told to spread the word.

The private security firms were instructed that 911 is intended for emergency calls, where a person’s life or property may be at imminent risk; While 089 is for anonymous complaints requiring investigation, which are channeled to the corresponding authorities.

Baja California is among the 16 States of the Mexico to begin the transition to the new 911 number.

The use of 911 in Mexico is a blessing for visitors from the United States, as they have another tool for safety in Mexico.

You Can Learn Spanish Late in Life!

Learn Spanish

Learn Spanish

Question: Can you learn to speak Spanish later in life?

I am asked this quite often.

Here’s a typical question from my blog:

I am 65 years old and have wondered if it’s possible to become fluent in a new language at my age? – Lyn

Thanks for the question Lyn. When I started learning Spanish, I was pushing forty. And even at my ‘young’ age, it was a struggle to learn Spanish using the traditional methods.

That’s why I had to discover new methods of learning a language at any age…and these methods have not only worked for me, but they’ve also worked for thousands of my students.

I’m currently 52 and about to start my next language.

Now, I know, 52 is still very young, so let’s look at some other blog comments from my students your age and older.

I started learning Spanish at 65 years of age (now 68), and even my wife can’t believe how well I do when we go to Mexico…I make it an objective to speak only Spanish with the native speakers… – J Laurier

I have lived in Spain for 20 years & know a lot of words but only now since taking your course can I string sentences together. By the way, I am 82 years old. Thanks Marcus. Keep up the good work. – Mary

At the age of 74, I have tried other ways of learning but nothing has grabbed me like your teaching method. Spending two months in Spain to get away from the Northern European winter has become so much more enjoyable now that I can interact better with the native Spaniards. – Steve

You have helped me get a good start with your very carefully thought out methods which are as ‘clear’ as one can hope for. I’m almost 80 years old and I have no problem at all with your lessons. – John

I have taken many language courses in my youth and they were a real struggle! When you told me how easy yours was, I thought “Oh yeah” and at my age 76 I do not stand a chance, but what a surprise! It is easier and more exciting than I ever thought it would be, I cannot wait for the next lesson. – Ramon

At 65, you’re still a spring chicken when it comes to learning Spanish, when you do it the right way.

My oldest student so far was 96 and many of my students are in their 70s and 80s, just like the students who commented above.

Saludos,
Marcus Santamaria
Spanish Communication Coach

Mexican Peso Crashes as Peña Nieto Cancels Meeting with Trump

Dollar Mexican Peso Chart

Dollar Mexican Peso Chart

“Hey, lookee this,” said Jim hearing the news on TV. “Remember, when we first came here a dollar was worth eleven and a half pesos?”

“Yeah,” I answered.

“Well we’re getting a bit richer now as one dollar is now worth over twenty pesos,” said Jim.

“Geez, Jim, we’re gettin’ about double the pesos for our social security checks than when we came here!” I answered.

“MaryAnn, Seems the peso dropped a lot after Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, had his meeting canceled with Trump who said, ‘The U.S. has a 60 billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico. It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning of NAFTA with massive numbers of jobs and companies lost. If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.'”

“Yeah, Jim that’s not just a super deal for us, but for all Americans living in Mexico.”

“And even for tourists,” answered Jim.

“Think Trump is gonna build the wall, Jim?”

“Shucks, what do I know about that—just happy to be gettin’ 21 pesos to the dollar, instead of 11, back when,” laughed Jim. Here, listen to this, “Peña Nieto said, “I regret and reject the decision of the US to build the wall.”

“Who knows,” I said, “Anyway wall or no wall we got our Sentri passes and can always make it to America in ten minutes.”

“You betcha,” answered Jim.

 

Mexican Cartels and ISIS

Shootout at U.S. Consulate Part of ISIS Terrorist Attack Plan for Inauguration

“Let me read you part of this here Judicial Watch report,” said Jim.

“Well OK,” I replied, not knowing what Jim was gonna read.

“Get this,” said Jim.

“Islamic terrorists are finding common ground with narcotics traffickers.
A deadly shootout at the construction site of the new American consulate occurred this week in a Mexican border town where Islamic terrorists and drug cartels plan to launch attacks against the U.S. during the period surrounding the presidential inauguration, accord ing to high-level government sources.

In the incident, a number of gunmen fired multiple rounds adjacent to the new U.S. consulate compound in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico,which lies directly across from Laredo, Texas.

At least three Mexican soldiers were either killed or critically wounded in the ambush.

Law enforcement and intelligence sources say the barrage outside what’s soon to be the new U.S. consulate is connected to a broad operation between Islamic terrorists and Mexican drug cartels to send President-elect Donald Trump a message by engaging in attacks at border ports.

“Cartels usually don’t work with jihadists for fear of having the border shut down, but Trump is causing so much disruption in Mexico that they are partnering to send a message as to who is in control. This is as outrageous as a small group of guys crashing planes into U.S. buildings,” according to an official source. Another source said “Trump is causing a huge amount of fear in Mexico throughout all sectors; private, government, business, criminal, police….”

“Well that’s new,” I said. Jim continued.

“Nuevo Laredo is among the border towns that the terrorists and narcotraffickers plan to launch attacks in the U.S. and Mexico. Others include Matamoros, Reynosa and Ciudad Juárez. In 2015 Judicial Watch reported  that ISIS is operating a camp just west of Ciudad Juárez, around eight miles from El Paso. Sources that include a Mexican Army field grade officer and Mexican Federal Police inspector revealed that, during a joint operation, they discovered documents in Arabic and Urdu, as well as “plans” for Fort Bliss – the sprawling military installation in El Paso that houses the US Army’s 1st Armored Division. Muslim prayer rugs were recovered with the documents during the operation.

Just last week Judicial Watch reported  that a Jihadi-cartel alliance in the Mexican state of Nuevo León is collaborating to carry out attacks in American cities and ports of entry along the southern border. Confidential U.S. and Mexican law enforcement sources said that, as part of the plan, militant Islamists have arrived recently at the Monterrey International Airport situated in Apodaca, Nuevo León, about 130 miles south of the Texas border. An internal Mexican law enforcement report obtained by Judicial Watch confirms that Islamic terrorists have “people along the border, principally in Tijuana, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas.” Cartel informants tell law enforcement contacts that “they are only waiting for the order and the times to carry out a simultaneous attack in the different ports of entry or cities of the United States of America.”

The area where this week’s shootout originated is a 5.6-acre parcel just south of downtown Nuevo Laredo on Paseo Colon. The State Department predicts that by September the new U.S. consulate compound, which broke ground in mid-2015 and will cost $155 million, should be completed. It will have multiple buildings, including an office structure, U.S. Marine Security Guard residence, support annex and other facilities for the consulate community. The primary function of consulates is helping and protecting Americans abroad.”

“Well that ain’t here in Mexicali, at least,” I answered.

“Yeah,” said Jim, “but them there liberals, like MSNBC and CNN are busy broadcasting fake news, the press ain’t interested in Mexico and most Americans ain’t aware of the threat.” Jim continued,

“Mexican drug cartels have burrowed dozens of tunnels in the last decade, outfitted them with rail and cart systems to whisk drugs under the U.S. border and, after being discovered by authorities, abandoned them.

But some of the illicit passageways live on.

At least six previously discovered border tunnels have been reactivated by Mexican trafficking groups in recent years, exposing a recurring large-scale smuggling threat, according to U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials.

Now an estimated 20 large tunnels, constructed before and after 2007, remain largely intact on the Mexican side, according to U.S. and Mexican officials.When border fencing went up, traffickers moved underground. Since 2006 there have been 148 tunnels built, according to the DHS, most of them in Arizona and California.

The biggest underground threats now come from what border officials refer to as “super tunnels,” which cost millions of dollars to dig and feature sophisticated touches like lighting and ventilation systems that extend for hundreds of yards down wood-beamed passageways.

Most have been constructed in San Diego’s Otay Mesa region, 20 miles south of downtown San Diego.

In April 2014, U.S. and Mexican authorities were back in the same area. Traffickers had dug 700 yards from a window repair shop in Tijuana to another warehouse in San Diego.When U.S. agents toured the tunnel they noticed that one segment was lined with older-looking electrical wiring and wooden support beams. It also had two sets of ventilation and cart tracks.

The election day tunnel, they determined, had been reactivated — about 1,025 feet of it.

Two more tunnels have seen resumed activity under the Mexicali-Calexico border, 100 miles east of San Diego, according to Homeland Security Investigations.

“Hey, gimmie that there Judicial thing article, Jim,” I yelled.

“Take a look, MaryAnne” said Jim, laughing.

Son of El Chapo Kidnapped

According to CNN, shortly before 1 a.m. on Monday, seven armed men stormed into a trendy restaurant on the main drag of Mexican beach resort Puerto Vallarta.

They interrupted a group of revelers in the white-walled restaurant, separating the men from the women, and left with a high-value captive, according to Mexican authorities.
Jesus Alfredo Guzman, the 29-year-old son of jailed Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, was among the six men kidnapped, Jalisco Attorney General Eduardo Almaguer said at a news conference Tuesday.
The kidnapping is the latest blow to the elder Guzman’s efforts from behind bars to maintain his Sinaloa

cartel’s dominance in the region amid challenges from an emerging rivals.
Jesus Alfredo and his brother Ivan Archivaldo Guzman are thought to be involved with the Sinaloa cartel, along with Guzman’s son by another woman, Ovidio Guzmán Lopez.
The Mexican army, marines, federal police, state police and the country’s top prosecution office are searching for the missing men as well as those responsible. However, no one has contacted Mexican authorities to report the men missing, and authorities have not heard from the kidnappers.
Jesus Alfredo is the youngest of El Chapo’s two children from his first marriage.
The elder Guzman is behind bars in a Juarez, Mexico, prison as his attorneys fight efforts to extradite him to the United States.

Easy Patterns for Getting by in Spanish

Learn Spanish

Learn Spanish

I want to share with you a handy conversation pattern that you can add to your Spanish repertoire today.

It’s an easy pattern that helps you get-by in the language.

I call it a conversation pattern because you can use it to say a lot with a little.

In Synergy Spanish you can use conversation patterns to make as many as 88,000 phrases from
just 138 words.

The great thing about patterns like this is that as well as being authentic everyday Spanish, they feel natural and familiar to English speakers.

You can use them right away.

Here’s today’s pattern.

Estoy a punto de cumplir cincuenta años.
I am about to turn fifty years old.

Estoy a punto de tener un fiesta.
I am about to have a party.

Estoy a punto de hacer las decoraciones.
I am about to make the decorations.

All you do is attach a verb to estoy a punto de and you’re speaking with real Spanish sentences.

Estoy a punto de hablar más español.
I am about to speak more Spanish.

See how natural those phrases feel?

That’s because it’s an everyday conversation pattern.

Conversation patterns are powerful and easy to speak with.

These speaking patterns allow you to take just 138 words and make as many as 88,000 Spanish phrases.

There’s no faster or easier way to get by in the language than starting with these speaking patterns.

Synergy Spanish is filled with conversation patterns like these.

And when you are ready, you can take your Spanish into the real world and speak confidently with your amigos.

Why don’t you add a new dimension to your life by getting by in Spanish the easiest and fastest way possible?

Saludos,
Marcus Santamaria
Spanish Communication Coach

Mexicali Drug Tunnel to U.S. Found!

Calexico Drug Tunnel House

Calexico Drug Tunnel House

U.S. authorities on Wednesday seized a cross-border tunnel that ran the length of four football fields from a restaurant in Mexicali, Mexico, to a newly-built house in Calexico, California, following an investigation that netted more than a ton of marijuana and resulted in four arrests.

The drug raid has started with Mexican police entering El Sarape restaurant in Mexicali, Mexico, and capturing two men, Zuleth Yesennia Duarte Medina and A‎drián Guadalupe Armendáriz. El Sarape is located on Bravo 140, Centro, 21000 Mexicali, B.C., Mexico with a telephone number of +52 686 554 2287.

Prosecutors say the first tunnel shipment occurred Feb. 28, leading to the seizure of 1,350 pounds of marijuana in Los Angeles.

The tunnel was the 12th completed secret passage that U.S. authorities have discovered along California’s border with Mexico since 2006. They have found more than 75 along the entire U.S.-Mexico border in the last five years, mostly in California and Arizona—many of them incomplete.

“This house and tunnel were constructed under the watchful eye of law enforcement,” said Laura Duffy, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California. “For the builders, the financiers and the operators of these passageways, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. We will seize your drugs and your tunnel before you even have a chance to use it.”
Two men were arrested Wednesday in Calexico—one at the tunnel house and another at a house believed to have been used to store drugs—and charged drug trafficking crimes, authorities said. Two women were arrested Tuesday in Arizona, including the purchaser of the Calexico house.

A fifth suspect has been arrested regarding the drug tunnel in Calexico. His name is Agustin Enrique Cruz. He has been indicted on five counts, including construction, financing and use of a tunnel, money laundering, maintaining drug related premises, among other counts.

Homeland Security Investigations said another house and a warehouse in Calexico were designated to store marijuana until drivers could take the drugs farther north.
Cruz along with a co-conspirator traveled from Arizona to Calexico on several occasions throughout November 2014 and December 2014. In January 2014 Cruz and the co-conspirator found the property on Dool Avenue and Third Street in Calexico and purchased it for $240,000.

On June 18, 2015, based on the wiretap, the co-conspirators discussed the funds needed to construct a house on the property. On July 28, 2015, it was determined the cost would be $86,000. In September 2015 agents saw Cruz and the co-conspirator at the property on Third Street.

During a court authorized wiretap over Cruz’s phone, agents intercepted calls where Cruz and his father discussed the conditions inside the tunnel, which had become operational at that point.

Two of the other suspects arrested in Calexico, Joel Duarte Medina and Manuel Gallegos Jiminez, were in court on Thursday, March 26, 2016, but did not enter a plea.

Brad Pitt’s film “Dr. Q” Tells the True Story of an Illegal Immigrant Turned Famous Neurosurgeon

Born in the tiny village of Palaco, just outside of Mexicali, Mexico, Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa was the oldest of five children in his family. Quiñones-Hinojosa crossed into the United States illegally in 1987 when he was only 19 and began working on farms near Fresno, California in order to earn enough money to afford English lessons.

Brad Pitt as Dr. Q. and the real Dr. Q.

From there, he attended San Joaquin Delta College and completed his bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley with the school’s highest honors. Next, he earned a degree from Harvard Medical School with honors and became a U.S. citizen.

Today, Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa is known simply as Dr. Q, the internationally renowned neurosurgeon and neuroscientist who leads a cutting-edge research to cure brain cancer.

In his memoir, Becoming Dr. Q: My Journey from Migrant Farm Worker to Brain Surgeon, Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa tells his amazing life story-from his impoverished childhood Mexico, to his harrowing border crossing and his rising from being an illegal immigrant to an American citizen and gifted student at the University of California at Berkeley and at Harvard Medical School.

Packed with adventure and adversity-including a few terrifying brushes with death- before becoming Dr. Q it is a story about the importance of family, of mentors, and of giving people a chance.
His success story is as improbable as it is traditionally “American.”

Now Brad Pitt, partnering with Disney, is developing a movie based on Quiñones-Hinojosa’s life. Pitt will play the lead role of Dr. Q.

Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, who have been working on the film since 2007 and have recruited Matthew Lopez to write the script. Interest in the project came about when studio executives heard Dr. Q’s story on a radio program.

Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, is now the Director of the Brain Tumor Surgery Center at Johns Hopkins.

There’s plenty more to discover about Dr. Q now, thanks to the forthcoming movie and his book, available on Amazon, Becoming Dr. Q: My Journey from Migrant Farm Worker to Brain Surgeon.