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Sunday, October 3

The murder of David Michael Hartley: "We cannot go to Mexico, we cannot recover that body, we cannot conduct an investigation"

UPDATE October 17 3:15 PM
I note from The Monitor report below that Reyna's statement about the 'Baby Zetas' not being 'in control' of how to handle their automatic weapons had been mentioned by another investigator in the early days of the case -- maybe by the Zapata County sheriff or at someone else who was knowledgeable about the gangs that operate on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake.

As to the rest of Reyna's claims, they have to be added to the mix; that's all that can be done.

From the CNN report below, it looks as if Statfor's view of the case hangs together, at least up to this time. But before turning to The Monitor and CNN reports I want to catch up with a brief report on Oct 15 that mentioned that Mrs Hartley had spoken with Flores Villegas, the Mexican investigator who was beheaded:
Tiffany Hartley, wife of David Michael Hartley who was allegedly killed by gunmen on Falcon Lake, says she met with the lead Mexican investigator regarding the death of her husband days before the police officer was beheaded.

Mexican state official Rolando Armando Flores Villegas was beheaded and his head was sent to the Mexican military in a suitcase, reports CNN.

"I met him. He sat right next to me," Tiffany Hartley said. "We talked through a translator and he just seemed like a really good guy who really wanted to just do good for -- you know, his country."

Tiffany Hartley expressed concern that the officer's slaying might hurt the investigation surrounding her husband's death. U.S. and Mexican authorities say that they are still investigating the case, despite the officer's brutal murder. [...]
Also, before I turn to the CNN report, the AP report below on the same news -- Mrs Hartley's second statement to Mexican authorities -- mentions something the CNN report doesn't specify, which is that her second statement provided "new" details from her recollection of the incident that took her husband's life. That wouldn't be suprising; an eyewitness can often add new information under skilled police questioning. But I find it interesting that the CNN didn't mention that Mrs Hartley's second statement contained new details:
Wife gives 2nd statement on border lake shooting(Associated Press) 20 hours ago

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The wife of an American tourist reported shot to death by pirates on a border lake has given helpful new details about the incident to Mexican authorities, Mexico's government said Saturday.

The Attorney General's Office said Tiffany Hartley gave a second statement Friday at the Mexican consul in McAllen, Texas, on what happened to her husband Sept. 30 on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake.

"Mrs. Hartley provided valuable information that will allow federal investigations to continue," the statement said.

The agency did not give any specifics on her statement. [...]
Okay; now to the CNN report today. One fact brought out in the report had escaped my notice if it had been mentioned in earlier accounts: that the truck the Hartleys drove to the pier at Falcon Lake still had Mexican license plates from the years they resided in Mexico. If the pier was under surveillance by Zeta spies, the plates would have been a reason for the spies to suspect that the Hartleys were spies for the rival Gulf cartel. So this tends to comport with Statfor's thesis that the attack on the Hartleys was a case of mistaken identity.

And if it's correct, as mentioned in the Monitor report, that a prime suspect in David Hartley's murder was killed on Friday, this also comports with Stratfor's view that the last thing the Zetas leaders wanted was to be involved in the kind of situation that took Hartley's life. Thus, as Strator theorized, they're cleaning house -- trying to erase anyone or anything that could trace Hartley's killing to the Zetas. Again, Statfor's view is just a theory although it derived from their sources.

The hopeful news in the CNN report is that the Mexican authorities aren't giving up on their hunt for David Hartley's body and that the current halt to the search is in the manner of regrouping:
Wife of missing American meets with Mexican feds
By the CNN Wire Staff
October 17, 2010 5:21 a.m. EDT

(CNN) -- Federal and state authorities in Mexico held an eight-hour, "in-depth" interview with the wife of an American reportedly shot dead by gunmen investigators believe are linked to a Mexican drug gang, a U.S. spokesman confirmed Saturday.

Tiffany Hartley -- who says her husband, David, was shot September 30 on a lake that straddles the U.S.-Mexican border -- is "fully cooperating in assisting Mexican prosecutors with their investigation," said Brian Quigley, spokesman for the U.S. Consulate in Matamoros, Mexico.

Friday's interview with officials from the federal attorney general's office and the prosecutors in the state of Tamaulipas was held in the FBI field office in McAllen, Texas. It took place the day after Mexican authorities suspended the search for David Hartley.

"Mexican authorities told the U.S. consulate that the suspension of the search was only temporary and would continue at a later date," Quigley said. "We are going to hold them to that."

Young said the family was told that the Mexican government was "restrategizing" how it is handling the search for Hartley's body.

Young said that the day mostly entailed Tiffany Hartley refiling a witness statement with Mexican officials, recounting what happened on the day she said he was killed.

Young said the meeting occurred in McAllen, where Tiffany Hartley and her husband had recently relocated.

Earlier Friday, Tamaulipas state attorney general spokesman Ruben Dario Rios explained the decision to halt the search.

"Our investigators have taken a temporary recess so that we can better assess the strategies we are using to find the body. We are currently considering other approaches to our search," he said.

The search was suspended on Thursday. Responding to local reports that it may have been threats of imminent gun battles by the Los Zetas cartel that led to Mexican officials to suspend the search, Dario Rios said, "Negative."

"We have no official information of threats on our investigators."

Tiffany Hartley's mother said that "we're very disappointed" in the development.

"The longer this goes, the less chance there is of finding David," she said.

A report issued by a Texas-based think tank Thursday suggested that Hartley's death may have stemmed from a case of mistaken identity in the ongoing war between two Mexican drug cartels.

The Stratfor report, which cites anonymous sources, noted that David Hartley worked for an oil and gas company with operations in Reynosa, Mexico. The couple had lived there for two years and had only moved to McAllen within the past few months, the report said.

The truck they drove to Falcon Lake on September 30 still had a license plate from Tamaulipas state.

The couple drove their personal watercraft to the Old Guerrero area of the lake, which the report said is a "known battleground in the ongoing war in the Los Zetas and Gulf cartels."

The sources told Stratfor both cartels have been known to conduct surveillance and counter-surveillance operations on personal watercraft, so Zetas scouts identified them as possible Gulf spies, because of their license plate and their method and direction of travel on Falcon Lake. They were then apparently confronted by "Zetas enforcers," Stratfor said.

The sources told Stratfor the attack was unauthorized by senior Los Zetas members and "a damage control campaign is currently under way ... to identify and eliminate those who engaged the Hartleys without proper authorization."

Protocol involves prompt disposition of a body to ensure no evidence can be brought against the group, the report said.

Falcon Lake is about 70 miles west of the Hartleys' home in McAllen.
Now here's The Monitor report:
Private detective: "Zetitas killed Hartley"
October 17, 2010 12:34 AM
Lindsay Machak
The Monitor

EDINBURG [Texas] — While Mexican officials have put the search for McAllen man David Michael Hartley on hold indefinitely, a local man believes he has many of the answers to the mystery of the disappearance.

Hartley, 30, is widely presumed dead after what his wife, Tiffany Young-Hartley, has described as an attack by cartel "pirates" on the Mexican side of Falcon Reservoir, which spans that country’s border with the United States.

She has said three boats of gunmen opened fire on them, fatally shooting her husband in the head, as the couple rode separate personal watercraft during a sightseeing trip to a partially submerged church in the abandoned Mexican town of Old Guerrero.

STRATFOR, an Austin-based think tank that focuses on the drug war and other global security issues, reported Wednesday that the Sept. 30 incident may have been a case of mistaken identity by the Zetas drug trafficking organization.

On Saturday, prominent Edinburg private detective Raul G. Reyna Jr. told The Monitor that the theory put forward earlier in the week by a STRATFOR analyst — that the attack on the Hartleys may have been a matter of mistaken identity — is more complicated than what really happened.

Reyna, owner and lead investigator for GOTCHA! Investigations, an Edinburg-based agency that has gone into Mexico to seek out and bring numerous criminal suspects back to the United States, has been looking into the Hartley case on his own.

Reyna believes, after talking to his "network of intelligence sources in Mexico," that the lowest ranking members of the Zeta drug cartel were responsible for the shooting. The "Zetitas," or baby Zetas, shot at the couple to try to steal the personal watercraft they were riding, he said.

"The kid that shot (at the couple) did not know how to handle the weapon," he said. "Because of the recoil (and power of the weapon) one of the shots got away from him and he shot Hartley."

Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez said Saturday that he believes some of Reyna’s claims are possibly true, but added that Reyna needs to be careful about nosing around too much in this case "because he’s going to come up missing a head."

Gonzalez pointed out that Reyna’s state-issued private investigator’s license is expired, a fact confirmed by Reyna who said he has been awaiting its renewal since applying for it on Oct. 8.

"Yes, it was a baby Zeta," Gonzalez said. "Some of them are 15, 16 and 17 years old that operate that area."

The private investigator also claims the name of the shooter was Guadalupe Gomez, also known as "El Piojo," Gomez was killed in Matamoros on Friday, Reyna said.

Mexican investigators in Nuevo Laredo who are dealing with the case were unable to comment Saturday evening. They also could not verify if Guadalupe Gomez was dead or alive.

Gonzalez said he was also unsure if there was any validity behind the investigator’s claim of who the shooter was.

Gonzalez added that he does not believe that theft of the Hartleys’ personal watercraft was actually the motive in the shooting. However, he does believe the group of young men shot at the Hartleys as a scare tactic, which was used in several other incidents on the Mexican side of the lake earlier this year.

"After reviewing the other cases," he said, "the same (scare tactics) were used in the other cases."

Another claim Reyna makes, which coincides closely with the theory put forward by STRATFOR, is that the "Zetitas" were not ordered to kill Hartley by Zeta leaders.

"They did all this without the consent or knowledge of the main Zeta group," Reyna said.

Sheriff Gonzalez agreed. The sheriff’s investigators are continuing to work on the case regardless of whether Mexican officials are searching for the body, which he believes will not turn up.

"We have also scaled down," he said. "If we know there’s no body to be found, why should we risk more people searching? Why should we risk having people out there searching and getting beheaded when we can’t find a body? The next step (for U.S. officials) is to continue to develop as much info as we can to pass along to the Mexican officials."

As the investigation began, following the Sept. 30 incident, Tiffany Young-Hartley was asked to give a statement to Mexican officials. However, after many invitations from Mexican officials, Young-Hartley refused to cross the border. However, Gonzalez said Saturday that Young-Hartley went to the Mexican consulate’s office in McAllen again on Friday to file a second statement.

"The (district attorney) in Matamoros wanted her to go his office and (the district attorney) in Miguel Aleman wanted her to go to his office (to give a statement)," he said. "She already gave one. They wanted to get another. So she did it here (in the United States)."
UPDATE October 14 11:30 PM ET
STRATFOR sources say Zeta cartel destroyed Hartley's body once case became headlines and that there's speculation that shooting was a case of mistaken identity -- Zetas may have mistaken Mr and Mrs Hartley for spies from rival cartel. Unconfirmed report that Mexican authorities have temporarily suspended search for Hartley's body. More on these reports and additional reporting on the case and related news from the Monitor article published Oct 14 10:31 AM.

UPDATE October 13 10:25 AM ET
A possible motive for the slaying of the lead investigator on the Hartley case, Rolando Flores, has been reported by CBS: CBS correspondent Don Teague said that Flores "reportedly fed information about the case to the media. And it's believed that's why he was slain. The CBS report continues:
Fred Burton, vice president of Counterterrorism and Corporate Security for STRATFOR, an intelligence company, said, "What they were trying to do is let everybody know, from the U.S. government to the Mexican authorities, that this is their geography, this is their gateway into the very lucrative North America market. Stay out."
I'm familiar with some of Burton's earlier analyses of Mexican cartel issues and they seem to have been accurate.

But I note a very disturbing tone in the observations of Congressman Ted Poe On "The Early Show." Behind all his reasonable talk about the Hartley case he is dialing for dollars on Mexico's behalf! Watch carefully, don't blink: (From the CBS report):
Congressman Ted Poe, (R-Texas), who has been involved extensively in this case as well as ongoing border issues, agreed [with Burton's observations].

"They are not only trying to send a message to Mexico, they're trying to send a message to the United States to back off, that this is their turf, and they want to make sure that they control it and anybody that tries to interfere will pay the price. And, of course, we cannot be intimidated by the Zeta cartels or anyone else. And, if anything, the United States ought to give more resources to this investigation. Mexico needs to let the United States, also, help them in this investigation. So, we cannot be intimidated but that is their message to the United States and to Mexico."

So will this beheading affect the Mexican authorities' willingness to continue a full-force search for Hartley?

Poe said, "Well, that's the problem that Mexico faces now, whether they're going to back off. And this is not the first time the Zetas have done this type of beheading of law enforcement officers to show that they control the border. The Mexican government and, really, the United States, don't control it, either. But, yes, this is a violent operation, but we cannot just say, 'OK, it's violent, we can't do anything about it.' We need to use all of our resources possible to make sure that we shut down the Zeta cartel and make sure they don't murder any individuals whether they're Americans or whether they are Mexican nationals."

Poe, who asked for American help to search the Mexican side of Falcon Lake, said he hopes the U.S. will make resources available in the search for Hartley's body.

He said, "The State Department, I think, was slow coming to the table on this issue, but this is an international issue. It is a terrorist event that is occurring both in Mexico and the United States, and we should deal with these people as terrorists."
Right. But we can't keep throwing money into a bottomless pit in Mexico. That country's elite is perfectly able to fund their government's war on the cartels without the USA's help, if only the elite would pay their taxes. Nobody's talking about raising their taxes. Just collect on the taxes now in force.

Americans, including the political class, need to stop being enablers. Not a penny more to the Mexican regime. And Poe should be ashamed of himself for using the Hartley murder in the attempt to fork over more US tax dollars to his buddies in the regime.

Empty out your savings account, Mr Poe, if you want to be chump. Stop bleeding the rest of American taxpayers.

UPDATE October 12 6:10 PM ET
After 13 days the murder of David Michael Hartley has finally made it onto the front page of Google News. Will wonders never cease. I guess the gremlins that pick the top news stories for Google readers decided that the beheading of a Mexican investigator working on the case was worthy of a raised eyebrow.

On Oct 5 I wrote in the Updates (below), "Like a spreading blood stain the story of David Hartley's murder is getting larger and outrage about the murder is growing among Americans." The story keeps getting larger, the outrage keeps growing. I have highlighted (in red) a quote from the ABC news story below that points to an aspect of the Hartley murder investigation that I don't think has been explicitly mentioned before in news reports.

As to the statement from a Mexican authority that Rolando Flores's murder is unconnected to the drug case -- another spokesperson told the Associated Press reporters who broke the story of Flores's murder that the authorities didn't know how or why he'd been killed. They received the head in the suitcase; that's all they know at this point.

So, there's a great deal of CYA going on.

The AP has a little more hard data than the ABC report contains, so here is the link to the AP report as well; it mentions that Flores was "the commander of state investigators in Ciudad Miguel Aleman."

And there is this knee-slapper from the AP report:
Lesley Lopez, a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, who has been involved in the investigation, said U.S. authorities were "slightly concerned that it was someone who was working as a U.S. ally on this case."
The journey of a thousand miles begins with slightly, I suppose.

If you're a first-time reader of this post, especially an American reader, I hope you can sqeeze in the time to read the rant I'd posted at the bottom of all the updates, and which was the original post.

At first I thought I'd gone too far in railing at Americans, including myself, but I got feedback from several American readers and a few American bloggers who told me I was on the money.

In any case, I'm tired of seeing Democrats and Republicans point fingers at each other about Mexico. When nobody's to blame, everybody's to blame.

This is a situation we let go too long and so it got worse and worse. And while there are Americans who've been screaming warnings for more than a decade -- the exceptions only point up how few Americans have been willing to speak out. And even fewer have taken any kind of realistic action, such as reading the riot act to Congress and refusing to send back to Congress representatives who stick their heads in the sand about Mexico.

Before I turn to the ABC report: if anyone who's following the Hartley case has not yet read Nacha Cattan's Oct 7 informative backrounder report for the Christian Science Monitor, Why Mexican pirates are targeting US tourists on Falcon Lake, here's the link again.

For additional background you can check out my September 28 post, Does Mexico's drug violence parallel Colombia's narco-insurgency?, which features a debate about the two sides of the question. I've gotten complaints that I never published Part 2 of the post. Monday. I Promise.

Posted at ABC News site about 20 minutes ago:
Mexican Investigator Searching for Killers of American David Hartley Is Decapitated

The Investigator's Head Was Stuffed in a Suitcase and Sent to the Mexican Military.

By EMILY FRIEDMAN
Oct. 12, 2010

The head of a murdered investigator who had been working on the case of missing Texan David Hartley was stuffed in a suitcase and delivered to the Mexican military earlier today.

The severed head of Rolando Flores, the head of state investigators in Ciudad Miguel Aleman, was murdered after spending weeks searching for Hartley. The American disappeared on Sept. 30 after he was shot on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake while Jet Skiing with his wife Tiffany.

Tiffany Hartley has said he was gunned down by pirates, and Hartley's family accused Mexican police of not looking for the body because they were afraid of Mexican drug gangs.

News of Flores' murder was first reported by Texas State Rep. Aaron Pena, who tweeted earlier today that the investigator had been decapitated.

Pena said on his Twitter account that he confirmed the decapitation through Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez, the office in charge of the Hartley investigation. A call made to Gonzalez was not immediately returned.

Tamaulipas state prosecutor spokesman Ruben Rios told The Associated Press that Flores' murder was "unrelated to the investigation" into Hartley's death.

Earlier this week, Mexican authorities named two suspects in Hartley's murder, two Zeta drug cartel members known as Pedro Saldiva Farrias, 27, and his brother Jose Manuel Saldiva Farrias, whose age was not given.

Juan Carlos Ballesteros, an investigator with the state prosecutor's office of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, said both were said to be suspected members of the Zeta drug cartel from Nueva Ciudad Guerrero, near the abandoned town where David and Tiffany Hartley were sightseeing before they were ambushed.

The Hartley case highlights the ongoing turf war between Mexican drug cartels and the country's government, which has been waging a war against the growing drug violence. More than 29,000 people have died in drug violence since December 2006, with the Zeta cartel being blamed for the majority of the deaths.

Zeta is known for smuggling billions of dollars of cocaine and other drugs into the U.S. every year.

Since the Hartley case first broke late last month, a virtual tug of war has occured between the U.S. and Mexico over which country should be searching for him.

U.S. officials said they're prohibited from entering Mexican waters to search for the body and have searched Falcon Lake on the American side, to no avail.
UPDATE October 10 6:48 PM ET
AOL News:
... Tamaulipas State Police Commander Juan Carlos Ballesteros told the El Universal newspaper that authorities are searching for Juan Pedro Saldivar-Farias and Jose Manuel Saldivar-Farias in the case, according to CBS News.

When asked about the suspects' identification on NBC's "Today" show, [Tiffany] Hartley said, "We have gotten word that they have been identified. As far as we know, nobody is in custody or anything. Hopefully, it will be a good lead and they can lead us to where David is. Right now, we just don't know."

Officials also said they were continuing the search for David Hartley's body on Sunday and were using military aircraft in the effort, reported KGBT. ...
Looks as if Mexican authorities are now moving heaven and earth to find Hartley's killer. Good. The AOL report has a video of the Today show interview.

UPDATE October 10 2:40 AM ET

Geraldo Rivera's Saturday 'At Large' show on Fox cable aired a very informative half-hour segment on the Hartley tragedy and the current status of the search for his body. This was the first time I saw a TV news show about the case so those who've followed every appearance of Tiffany's on TV may already know much of what was in the Geraldo interviews, but it seems the show brought out fresh news about the search.

From the interviews the Mexican authorities have worked hard on the search -- at least in the most recent days.

The show also featured a live interview with Tiffany Hartley and her mother-in-law. The interview brings out facts that I hadn't read about and I think it settles any lingering speculations that people might have had about Tiffany's account. Geraldo and the reporter who put together the video-taped part of the segment was very frank in addressing that angle and ticking off the reasons why Tiffany's story has passed muster with law enforcement authorities and the Mexican government.

While listening to the interviews it struck me for the first time that perhaps the pirates didn't shoot Tiffany when they were briefly only about 10 feet from her was because they were trying to catch her after shooting her husband, to drag her on a boat and rape her before killing her.

That theory was not proposed or implied during the interviews but it was just a pile-up of facts, and noting how attractive she was, even without make-up, that suddenly caused me to think along that line.

And given that her Jet Ski was so fast it was able to out-run the pirate boats -- a fact that was pointed up in the interview -- it seems it was an expensive piece of equipment. From that, it's also possible the pirates wanted to kidnap her, to hold her for ransom.

Also, from Tiffany's discussion with Geraldo, it's clearer why she had said at an earlier piont that her husband was a hero in that situation. He maneuvered his Jet Ski between hers and the pirate boats when the pirates first started shooting.

So, readers who are interested in following the case should very definitely watch the segment, which begins at the half hour mark for the one-hour show.

The video is not yet up at Geraldo's website, linked to above, but I assume it'll be available later today or Monday.

UPDATE October 7 5:30 PM ET
My post today, On Falcon Lake provides updates to the search for David Hartley's body, the controversy surrounding the search, and a wider view of the murder and crime on Falcon Lake.

UPDATE October 6 Midnight ET
World Net Daily has jumped into the story with an explosive interview, datelined today and posted about an hour ago:
The Texas sheriff investigating the jet-ski murder of a U.S. citizen on a border lake blames the incident on the Mexican drug cartels, insisting his probe exonerates the wife from any foul play in the incident.

"Mexico is not cooperating with the investigation to find the body of David Michael Hartley," Texas Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo "Sigi" Gonzalez. [...] "The incident happened on the Mexican side of the lake and we are at the mercy of the Mexican government to get involved," Gonzalez said. "So far, Mexico has refused to do conduct any meaningful rescue or recovery efforts."
[...]

Marco Antonio Guerrero Carrizales, the district attorney for the Miguel Aleman Province adjoining Falcon Lake on the Mexican side, has questioned whether Tiffany Hartley was involved in foul play.

Gonzalez completely rules out foul play on the part of Mrs. Hartley.

"A local witness saw Tiffany Hartley escaping on her jet-ski to the Texas side of the lake," he said. "She came in at high speed and was being pursued by armed men in a Mexican fishing boat that that the witness clearly observed."

Gonzalez said the witness was a long-standing member of the Zapata community who was well known to him and regarded as highly credible.

He said the statement of the witness was recorded in the police file but his name was being withheld from the public to protect his privacy.

"The testimony of this witness dispels any idea Mrs. Hartley was involved in any wrongdoing regarding the murder of her husband," he said firmly. "She called in a 911 phone call to our office at around 2:20 p.m. on the day of the incident, immediately after she got to shore, and her statements to my office confirm what the local witness observed."

Gonzales confirmed to WND that he had interviewed Mrs. Hartley himself.

He attributed the failure to recover David Hartley's jet ski and his body to the unwillingness of Mexico to cooperate

"The drug cartels operate from an island on the Mexican side of the lake," Gonzalez explained.

"Mexican law enforcement authorities do not control the lake – the pirates do," he said. "Tons of illegal drugs are warehoused on that island by the drug cartels for smuggling into the United States, and the pirates are well armed."

He said the pirates are used to guide Mexican drug cartel operatives smuggling drugs to the U.S. side of the lake.

Gonzalez told WND his investigation indicated the Hartleys had jet-skied over to the Mexican side of the lake to photograph an old church that is visible on the lake bank near the Old Guerrero area in Mexico.

"Mr. Hartley was a history buff," he explained, "and they wanted to photograph the church at Old Guerrero.

Hartley worked in the oil industry, and they had just moved to McAllen, Texas, about five months ago."

Gonzalez told WND his investigation revealed that this week Hartley and his wife were planning to move back to Colorado where he planned to take a job with Calfrac, an energy company based in Alberta, Canada.

Gonzalez said the jet-ski incident was the fifth violent incident involving Falcon Lake pirates in recent months.
[...]
The article continues with a list of incidents involving pirates on Falcon Lake and then picks up here:
"Fisherman are still advised to stay as far away as possible from any of the Argos-type fishing boats typically used as fishing vessels by Mexican fisherman," the Texas DPS warning alerted. "The robbers are believed to be members of a drug trafficking organization or members of an enforcer group linked to a drug trafficking organization who are heavily armed and using AK-47s or AR-15 rifles to threaten their victims."

Gonzalez said Mexican fishing licenses are sold in Zapata County to U.S. citizens that want to game fish on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake.

Still, he warned of the danger in doing so.

"Mexico has taken no steps to control the pirates," he said. "Mexican law enforcement authorities have routinely ignored our requests for assistance."

Texas Park and Wildlife Division Game Wardens and Texas DPS officers, including the Texas Rangers, have been at Falcon Lake since Thursday, assisting the Zapata County Sheriff's Office with the investigation of the jet-ski murder.

TPWD has deployed two 21-foot boats on the lake to search for David Hartley's body and his jet ski.

The Texas DPS has deployed its SWAT team, one of its helicopters and its riverboat to assist.

Still, Gonzalez is not confidant U.S. law enforcement will make any progress investigating the case.

"The incident occurred on the Mexican side of the lake, and truly we are at the mercy of the Mexican government," he said.

Following David Hartley's murder, Texas law enforcement agencies are telling boaters on Falcon Lake to stay on the U.S. side.
A correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor filed a report from Mexico City on October 5 (no timestamp on article) that Mexican authorities were still looking in Falcon Lake for David Hartley's body and denying various reports:
The state prosecutor’s office of Tamaulipas in northern Mexico denied reports in American news media that Mexican authorities have quit searching for 30-year-old David Hartley. Mr. Hartley's wife says he was shot in the head Thursday by armed boaters.

Nor have Mexican authorities doubted the veracity of testimony coming from family of the deceased, the state prosecutor's office told the Monitor. Press officer Ruben Dario denied claims reportedly made by Hartley’s family that a body has not been found because Mexican authorities have not bothered to look.

The 60-mile area of reservoir and lakes that straddles United States and Mexican territory has been hit by heavy rains that could make the search more difficult, Mr. Dario says. “The dam has been releasing lots of water to prevent dangerous levels, so there are many factors involved,” he says.

Questionable claims?

Prosecutor Marco Antonio Guerrero from the municipality of Miguel Aleman, who is handling the investigation, said he could not comment by phone to the press. However, he denied reports that he had questioned whether Hartley’s wife, Tiffany, was telling the truth about the attack.

CBS News reported Tuesday that Mr. Guerrero said no evidence of a crime existed as there was no sign of a jet ski or a life vest worn by Hartley, appearing to suggest that Tiffany could have had a hand in her husband’s disappearance. "We are not certain that the incident happened the way they are telling us," he was quoted saying.

David Hartley’s family responded that they backed Tiffany’s account. His mother today called on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to intervene. [...]
UPDATE October 5, 5:00 PM ET

All news reports quoted below are datelined today. Emphasis throughout mine. There are contradictory reports about whether Mexican authorities have searched for David Hartley's body and Jet Ski.

Two reports suggest that Mexican authorities are uncertain about how to respond to the incident; it seems the authorities are veering between suggesting the Hartleys were acting irresponsibly and suggesting that the murder did not take place.

Two accounts (AP, CNN) suggest Mexican authorities are stonewalling.

And a CBS TV morning show host grilled Tiffany about her account of David's death in the attempt to raise questions about her account of the shooting incident.

There is one very odd statement from the CBS report: "Police in Mexico want to know if what Tiffany Hartley says happened is actually the truth."

If they want to question her about her account, why don't they do so?

The claim from the Hartleys and a U.S. law enforcement official is that they've been trying, to no avail, to get a response from Mexican authorities.

Mexican authorities have said they can find no evidence a crime was committed and that there were no reports of gunshots on the lake. However, the Mexican authorities do not mention the account of a man who witnessed Tiffany Hartley being chased by a boat; the man, gave his account to Texas police.

The latest press report, from Associated Press, filed from Denver by AP reporter Ivan Moreno at 5:00 PM ET:
Dad: Mexican police failing in pirate attack probe

DENVER — The father of an American man who was allegedly killed by pirates in a lake on the Texas-Mexico border accused Mexican authorities of being corrupt and said Tuesday they're not doing enough to find his son's body.

Dennis Hartley of Milliken, Colo., was responding to statements by Mexican police in Tamaulipas State saying that they had not found evidence that the attack last week happened as it was described by Hartley's daughter-in-law, Tiffany Hartley.

Tiffany Hartley said she and her husband, David, were on Jet Skis on Falcon Lake on Thursday when men on three speedboats chased them, shooting her husband in the head. Authorities have not recovered his body, but Tiffany Hartley said she believes the gun shot was fatal.

Rolando Armando Flores Villegas, the Tamaulipas State Police commander overseeing the search for David Hartley, told the McAllen (Texas) Monitor on Monday that no one near the lake reported hearing gunshots or the sound of anyone on a Jet Ski.

The district attorney in charge of the case, Marco Antonio Guerrero Carrizales, also told the newspaper that authorities "are not certain that the incident happened the way that they are telling us."

Mexican authorities have not responded to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

Dennis Hartley said he doesn't believe the Mexican authorities and that they were being paid off by drug cartels. "I don't think anything right now is being done," he said. "I don't think at this time Mexico is really doing anything."

"That's our opinion of their investigation," he told the AP.

His wife, Pam Hartley, said she said she was hurt by the comments from Mexico's law enforcement and saw it as a tactic to make the case go away.

Tiffany Hartley recounted the incident on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday, describing how she saw bullets hitting the water near her and her husband flying over his Jet Ski. She became emotional as she described going to her husband to try to help.

"I had to turn him over because he was face down in the water and turned him over, and he was shot in the head," she said, adding that she tried to pull her husband onto her Jet Ski but couldn't, and that a man on one of the boats pointed his gun at her. "I couldn't get him up, and I just kept hearing God tell me, 'You have to go, you have to go.' So I had to leave him so I could get to safety."

Hartley said she believes the men are hiding evidence of the attack.

"I believe in my heart that they went back and took him, and they're hiding our Jet Ski, they're hiding him, and we just plea that we get him back," she said.

The shooting happened near the U.S. boundary of the lake, which is about 60 miles down the border from Laredo. Authorities said several fishermen were robbed at gunpoint earlier this year on the Mexican side of the lake but no one was hurt.

Pam Hartley said her son had been living in McAllen, Texas, and across the border in Reynosa, Mexico, for almost three years for his job in the oil industry. The couple were planning to move back to Colorado soon.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, the Texas congressman trying to help the family, said the shooting happened in Mexican waters and the U.S. doesn't have jurisdictional authority.

"However, we can and must continue to urge our Mexican counterparts to search for David Hartley," he said in a statement.

Cuellar said the U.S. Consulate General has asked for permission from the Mexican government to allow U.S. search teams to help. He said officials are waiting for the Mexican government to respond.

Pam Hartley urged Mexican authorities to work with the U.S. government to find her son and get more people involved "to search for David and bring him home."

"If they're saying that this did not happen, that this was all staged, if that's what they're trying to pursue, they're going the wrong way," she said. "It did happen. My son is gone."
1:53 PM ET, Associated Press via Houston Chronicle:
DENVER — The father of an American man who was allegedly attacked by pirates in a lake on the Texas-Mexico border says authorities in Mexico aren't doing enough to find his son's body.

Dennis Hartley of Milliken, Colo. says he doesn't believe statements by Mexican police in Tamaulipas (Tahm-a-OOH'-lee-pas) State saying that they haven't found evidence that the attack happened last week. The McAllen Monitor reported the statements by Mexican police Monday.

Tiffany Hartley says she and her husband David were jet skiing on Falcon Lake on Thursday when men on speedboats shot at them, killing her husband.

Mexican authorities have not responded to AP's requests for comment.
1755 GMT, CNN Wire Staff
Mom pleads for missing man's body amid search of border lake

The mother of a man reportedly killed by pirates on a lake along the U.S.-Mexico border pleaded for help in finding her son's body Tuesday.

Appearing on NBC's "Today" show, David Hartley's mother, Pam Hartley, tearfully asked Mexican authorities and the public to help recover his remains.

"Please, everybody call your Congress. Call anybody you can to have them get us over there. He has to come home," she said. "President Obama, help us. President of Mexico, help us, please."

Hartley's wife Tiffany reported that she and her husband were riding personal watercraft Thursday on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake when they were attacked by gunmen on three boats. Hartley was shot and fell into the water, his wife told sheriff's deputies in Zapata County, Texas, but his body has yet to be found.

"He was thrown off the Jet Ski and I couldn't pick him up to get him on mine," Hartley told a sheriff's dispatcher in a 911 call released by the agency.

Speaking on the CBS "Early Show" on Tuesday, Tiffany Hartley said she didn't believe Mexican investigators were looking for her husband's remains, and suggested that his killers had the body.

"We understand the possibility that the people who did this probably have him, and that's why maybe they can't find him," she said.

There was no immediate response from officials in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas to her remarks. But Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez Jr. told CNN on Monday that his agency has contacted Mexican authorities "on a daily basis" and was trying to coordinate search efforts by volunteers, but had received no response.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, the area's congressman, said he has asked federal agencies to press for support for the search from their Mexican counterparts.

"I have contacted the Mexican Embassy and urged them to move the case quickly," Cuellar said in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon.

A man Tiffany Hartley approached for help told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" that a boat was following her before she came ashore, but veered off as she neared land.

"She right away told me, gave me instructions as far as to call law enforcement and an ambulance because 'My husband's been shot,' " said the man, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

He said Hartley was "frantic -- crying, sobbing. I mean, she looked very, very jittery."

The reservoir is on the Rio Grande River, about 200 miles south of San Antonio, and straddles the border between Texas and Tamaulipas. The Mexican state has made headlines recently as a hotbed for drug cartel violence, and Gonzalez said he believes the attackers were pirates linked to the cartels.

"My understanding is they're 15, 16, 17-year-olds that have been given automatic weapons. They barely know how to use them," Gonzalez told CNN on Monday. "They don't even know where the safeties are at."


There have been at least four cases of gunmen in Mexican waters robbing or threatening boaters since April, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. The department has warned boaters to stay on the U.S. side of the lake since May.

Richard Drake, an area fisherman, told CNN he was chased by men carrying AK-47 rifles on Falcon Lake in May. They got to within 15 yards of his boat, which he said was along the international boundary.

"Fortunately, I had a faster boat than they did, so I outran them," he said. "They chased me for about a mile, mile and a half, and then they tailed off."

He said local fishermen had heard "that there were some people being robbed" and were advising boaters to avoid the Mexican side of the lake, "so I wasn't on the Mexican side. I was going down the middle of the lake when they kind of came out of the brush and kind of ambushed me."
CBS television website - no date stamp
Mexico Lake Pirate Shooting Story Questioned

Mexican DA "Not Sure" of Tiffany Hartley's Account That Husband was Shot in Head; Tiffany Responds

Mexican officials and American authorities are still searching for the body of 30-year-old David Hartley. The American tourist and his wife Tiffany Hartley were jet skiing on a lake that straddles the U.S. and Mexico when Tiffany says they were ambushed by gunmen.

But is that how it really happened?

"Early Show" co-anchor Erica Hill reports there are new questions about what happened that day. Police in Mexico want to know if what Tiffany Hartley says happened is actually the truth.

Hill said there's still no sign of American tourist David Hartley four days after he was reportedly shot in the head by suspected pirates on a lake along the Mexican border.

His wife, Tiffany, 29, made a desperate 911 call after reportedly racing to his aid, but says she was chased away by gunfire.

In a 911 call, Tiffany said she saw three boats. He is now presumed dead and his body has not been recovered.

And now Mexican authorities are questioning whether the attack took place at all. In a statement, Marco Antonio Guerrero Carrizales, district attorney for the Miguel Aleman Province, writes, "We are not sure. We are not certain that the incident happened the way they are telling us."

The district attorney questions why his body has not been recovered, particularly because they were told he was wearing a life vest and why there is no sign of his jet ski. In fact, the district attorney contends, no evidence exists that a crime was committed.

In response to these new questions by the district attorney, Tiffany Hartley said from McAllen, Texas, on "The Early Show" said she can understand the questions, but said the Mexican authorities have not been looking for him.

"As far as we know, we don't think they have been looking. And there is -- we understand the possibility that the people who did this probably have him. And that's why maybe they can't find him," she said.

Pam and Dennis Hartley, David's parents, said they need to get on the Mexican side of the border to look for their son.

Pam said, "There's been no searching on that side much the lake. I mean, we're pleading to Mexican president, to Governor Perry, to President Obama, to Hillary, help us bring our son -- Tiffany's husband --home. It's like we need to get over there and hunt for him. If nobody's hunting, how can he be found?"

As for Nikki, Tiffany's sister-in-law, she says she supports her "one thousand percent," in spite of the new questions being raised. She held Tiffany's hand throughout the interview.

"There's no doubt in our mind we stand behind her," she said. "She's just not a sister-in-law, she's a sister."

"Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez asked Tiffany, "You were returning from a day of sightseeing with David when this happened. I know that you had lived in Mexico for three years before moving back to the U.S. a couple of months ago. Did you know that there had been a spate of robberies on the lake? And did you have any concerns about going out that day?"

Tiffany replied, "We had heard about the pirates, and them robbing fishermen and whoever were over there. But we hadn't heard anything for several months. So, no, we had no concerns whatsoever of going over there, living in Reynosa, I mean, you live there for two and a half years, and we're not people who, you know, blend in. We stand out. We don't blend in. And we lived there, and we lived a life of no fear. That we were not going to stop living our life and adventures. David loves the history. That's what he loves. And that's why we were there that day."
Fox News - no time stamp
Wife, Mom Calling on Obama to Intervene in Search for Body of 'Victim' in Alleged Mexican Pirate Attack

The wife and mother of an American allegedly shot to death by Mexican pirates on a border lake in Texas are angrily demanding that Mexican authorities allow U.S. investigators to join the search for a body -- and stop questioning whether the attack ever happened.

Search teams scouring the U.S. side of Falcon Lake have turned up no sign of David Michael Hartley, 30, five days after his wife said he was shot in the head by Mexican bandits marauding on the U.S.-Mexican border lake.

Tiffany Hartley, 29, accused Mexican authorities Tuesday of "not looking" for her husband's body and called on President Obama to pressure the Mexican government into allowing U.S. authorities to search the Mexican side of the lake.

In an interview with Fox News, Hartley said she and her husband set out on the lake on Jet Skis to take pictures of a half-submerged Catholic church when they spotted three boats approaching them.

Hartley said her husband was shot in the back of the head, "as far as I know," and that she was unable to pull him on to her Jet Ski.

"I tried pulling him up but before that a boat had approached me with a gun -- had pointed the gun at me -- and then they left and that's when I tried pulling him up on my ski," she said.

Hartley told a dispatcher in her 911 call that she was forced to leave her husband behind because pirates in three boats were firing shots and chasing her.

Hartley was then helped on shore by an unidentified man who reportedly witnessed the boats chasing her as she made her way back into U.S. waters.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said Friday that Hartley was believed to be killed, but nearly five days after the shooting, there was still no word whether the oil industry worker had been found.

Hartley denied any suggestions from Mexican authorities that her account was not truthful, saying, "I loved him and there’s no way I would do anything like that."

Her mother-in-law, Pam Hartley, also defended her innocence, telling Fox News that "there is no way that Tiffany had any involvement other than trying to get away."

"They couldn't have loved each other more," she said of the couple.

Pam Hartley said her son "gave his life" to protect his wife. She also suggested that the pirates took Hartley's body and Jet Ski to hide any evidence.

Hartley went on to make a personal plea to Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to intervene in the case by sending U.S. authorities to search the Mexican side of the lake for her son's body.

"Hillary Clinton, she's a mother. She can understand," she said.

Mexican authorities investigating the alleged shooting reportedly say they have not yet found any evidence of the crime.

Rolando Armando Flores Villegas, the local Tamaulipas State Police commander in charge of the search for Hartley, told The Monitor newspaper that his investigators so far have found no evidence or Hartley's remains.

Investigators told the newspaper they were using two sets of GPS coordinates supplied by Young-Hartley to U.S. consular officials, but that their search of the lake at least a mile around each coordinate turned up nothing.

Marco Antonio Guerrero Carrizales, the district attorney in Miguel Aleman whose area also covers the Mexican side of Falcon Lake, told the newspaper that they can't figure out why neither Hartley’s watercraft nor his body — investigators were told he was wearing a life vest — have been found
.

Officials at the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) told FoxNews.com that Hartley's alleged death marked the fifth incident since April 30 in which U.S. residents ventured into Mexican waters and encountered pirates on the 60-miles-long Falcon Lake.

Prior to last week, the most recent occurred on Aug. 31, when authorities say pirates aboard a small boat with "Game Wardin" written on its side, in duct-tape lettering, tried to intercept a Texas fisherman. The fisherman, aware of warnings about pirates on the lake and recognizing the misspelling of the word "warden," managed to outrun the Mexican vessel to safety, officials said.

On May 16, five armed men boarded a boat on the U.S. side of Falcon Lake. Investigators have no additional information in that incident. Only 10 days earlier, two armed men approached a boat on the lake's northern side and demanded money, which the fisherman handed over, DPS officials say.
Like a spreading blood stain the story of David Michael Hartley's murder is getting larger and outrage about the murder is growing among Americans, as all the above updates indicate. Below is my first essay on Hartley's murder. The essay, published on October 3, when I first learned about the murder, conveys my outrage and shock at Hartley's death -- and my anger with myself and fellow Americans about the border situation that has taken the lives of so many innocents on both sides of the Mexican-U.S. border.
*************************************************************************************
The Hartleys on vacation


Hey, you! No don't look over your shoulder. I'm talking to you. So how's that been working out for you, the great defenders of the rights of Mexican immigrants, the rights of Americans to have dirt-cheap maids and gardeners, the rights of American agribusiness and the construction industry to work Mexicans at slave wages?

Hey you! On the Left, on the Right, in the Middle -- and you cute little college students and Libertarians and Tea Partiers and Greens. How do you get up every morning and manage to look at yourself in the mirror when you know goddamn well that your government has been supporting an evil regime in Mexico and doing it for generations and with American tax money?

Hey you! You no longer have the excuse that you didn't know, that you're not aware. You know. Now hold up your hands to the light and see David Hartley's blood on them.
New Details Emerge in Deadly Border Lake Attack
Updated: 15 minutes ago

(AOL News - Oct. 3) -- Dodging gunfire from pirates on a Texas-Mexico border lake, Tiffany Hartley was forced to make an impossible choice: risk her life by staying with her husband or return to land and seek help.

The couple were sightseeing on Jet Skis on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake on Thursday when Hartley says several boats of gunmen opened fire, striking her husband in the back of his head.

A recording of her 911 call released this weekend and reports from law enforcement officials detail the tragic incident.

"He was thrown off the Jet Ski and I couldn't pick him up to get him on mine," Hartley, 29, told the 911 dispatcher after she safely made it to shore. "Oh, God."

"She said she was seeing bullets hitting close to her in the water and realized that her husband had been hit behind the head," Zapata County, Texas, Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez Jr. told ABC News. "She went back trying to find, trying to help him. She went in the water trying to load up her husband to her Jet Ski ... trying to get his body and Jet Ski back to the U.S. side. She was being shot at so she finally had to let go of the body, climb back in her Jet Ski and head back over here to the United States."

Hartley told police that the armed men, who Gonzalez said he believes are pirates associated with a Mexican drug cartel, chased her into U.S. waters as she fled.

"I'm alive because of God's protection. There is no other reason," she told The Denver Post.

Officials are still searching Falcon Lake for the body of her husband, David Michael Hartley, 30, according to Fox News.

"The one thing I dreaded on Falcon Lake has happened," said the Zapata County sheriff. "The lake is not secure, the border is not secure because the incident that I dreaded the most has in fact happened. We cannot go to Mexico, we cannot recover that body, we cannot conduct an investigation, we have to tell the family we can't do anything about it."
If it's news to you that pirates were operating so close to the U.S. border -- it was news to me, too.

As with much news about Mexico, the news about pirate activity had been suppressed in the USA at the national media level until the murder of David Hartley. If Lou Dobbs had been on CNN I assume that by the end of August, at least, he would have picked up what was a local story in Texas until now.

But Dobbs was run off the air; the last straw for him was a shot fired at his house while he and his wife were standing outside the house. CNN was all too happy to accept his resignation so they didn't have find an excuse to fire him for enraging Mexico's regime and its American toadies.

The Fox News Cable-AP report that AOL linked to above has more information about cartel-sponsored pirate activity on Falcon Lake:
... The shooting led Texas DPS to again urge boaters to stay on the U.S. side of the 60-mile lake, five months after issuing its initial advisory following three pirate attacks.

But state Rep. Aaron Pena, a south Texas lawmaker briefed on the pirates earlier this year, said it has become dangerous enough to stay off the lake altogether.

"I wouldn't do it," Pena said. "When I go out there I have all the protection Texas can provide. But the average fisherman doesn't have that."

Pena said he has no doubts the pirates are working with Mexico's drug gangsters. The cartels that control the area wouldn't let the pirates operate otherwise, he said.

Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez said he had contacted the Mexican consulate to ask them to search for Hartley on its side of the lake.

Some campers along Falcon Lake had taken to arming themselves following the state's first warning in May. In one incident that month, state officials said five armed men boarded a boat on the U.S. side of the boundary.

The pirates either use powerful AK-47s or AR-15s to threaten their victims, Texas DPS said. The agency believes the pirates use local Mexican fishermen to operate the boats to get close to American fishermen.

Falcon Lake is a dammed section of the Rio Grande that straddles the border. The border is marked by 14 partially submerged concrete towers that mark the Rio Grande's path before the lake was created in 1954.

According to Gonzalez, Tiffany Hartley told police that the couple rode their Jet Skis for sightseeing and to take pictures of a famous church in Old Guerrero. They were riding back when they saw the armed gunmen on the boats, and immediately began racing back to U.S. waters.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department spokesman Mike Cox said one of the boats may have crossed into U.S. waters briefly while trying to run down Tiffany Hartley. He said Tiffany Hartley estimated that the shooting took place about 5 to 6 miles from the Texas shoreline, where she parked and called for help.

In April, pirates robbed another group of boaters who also went to Old Guerrero to see the church. Cox said the most recent reported pirate sighting had been Aug. 31, when boaters saw gunmen riding a small skiff with "Game Wardin" misspelled in duct tape on the side of the vessel. Cox said it appeared the pirates were trying to imitate state game warden boats they have seen patrolling the lake. ...
As to whether David Hartley would be alive if the Texas DPS had backed up its advisory with a ban -- I'd assume so, but his death is just one among many awful tragedies to arise from Americans studiously looking the other way.

So this really isn't about Mexico's cartels. This isn't even about pirates operating five miles from the U.S. border. This is about you and me. This is about Americans, who we really are as a people.

There's apartheid in Mexico -- places where Indians cannot even walk on the same street as the Creoles. But you never once saw Americans protesting this. Not once. Easy to protest apartheid half a world away. Easy to weep for the plight of the downtrodden far from US shores. Americans supported the Mexican regime as it raped its people and then hypocrites that we are, we welcomed Mexican immigrants as if they were fleeing Darfur.

The Mexicans are our neighbors. If you lived next door to parents beating their children bloody and shooting at them for target practice, you'd pick up the phone, wouldn't you, and call 911. You wouldn't say, 'These kids are so desperate they'll mow our lawn for five bucks,' would you? Would you?

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The Mexican administration knows that it can screw with Obama. They have no fear of repercussion. No surprise. Same ole Mexico.
 
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