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Thread: Coyote Gets Prison Time for Hoax
10-01-06, 04:28 AM #1
Coyote Gets Prison Time for Hoax
Man gets prison for nuclear hoax
By Onell R. Soto
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
September 30, 2006
A Mexican drug addict who smuggled immigrants was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday for triggering a hoax that prompted a national security alert, a coast-to-coast manhunt and fears that terrorists would detonate a nuclear bomb in Boston.
José Ernesto Beltran Quiñonez, 34, apologized in San Diego federal court during the sentencing for falsely telling a 911 operator in January 2005 that two Iraqi men and four Chinese chemists were awaiting an atomic bomb.
Beltran said he was high on methamphetamine when he placed four calls from a cell phone to the California Highway Patrol.
To back up his claims, he threw a plastic bag containing travel documents and photos of four Chinese people he claimed were part of the plot over a border fence and told authorities where to find it.
“I don't know why I did it. I wouldn't want to do any harm to this country,” Beltran said, noting that his mother and siblings live in the United States.
After his extradition from Mexico in February, the Mexicali taxi driver told agents he was trying to create a lockdown at the border in order to harm other smugglers who owed him money.
Defense lawyer Dorn Bishop told a judge that Beltran genuinely believed the other smugglers were involved with terrorism, although he made up the part about the nuclear bomb being smuggled through a cross-border tunnel.
Bishop said his client is mentally unstable and sometimes delusional, and that he called officials in Spain six years ago after seeing a vision that a church, a car and a bridge would be blown up.
Prosecutor Alessandra Serano said officials have not been able to confirm that Beltran made the calls to Spain. She said last year's hoax was much more sophisticated than a bomb threat to police called in by a drunk.
Federal agents launched a massive investigation in response to Beltran's calls and the bag with the photos, said Dan Dzwilewski, head of the San Diego FBI office.
Assisted by Mexican officials, agents from several U.S. agencies activated an emergency command post, scoured the border looking for a tunnel, used voice analysis to track down Beltran and issued alerts to police nationwide about the supposed terrorists, Dzwilewski said.
The scare was discussed at President Bush's security briefings and forced Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to skip Bush's second inaugural so he could return to Boston to assure residents they were safe.
The Chinese in the photos turned out to be farmers, one of whom had been in immigration custody in San Diego for two months.
“This was a planned disruption,” U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz said. “It's not just a couple of phone calls.”
The judge also said the sentence will allow Beltran to get mental-health and drug treatment in prison.
Family members said they hoped Beltran would take advantage of such treatment.
“I really think he needs help, because he's done it before,” said a cousin, Juan Rodriguez.Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.
Do not puff, shade, skew, tailor, firm up, stretch, massage,
or otherwise distort statements of fact.FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley
10-01-06, 10:58 PM #2
They should have known he was a whack when he mentioned the four Chinese chemists and an atom bomb....everyone knows atom bombs are made by physicists and not chemists....and it only takes two Chinese physicists not four. Sheesh!
He should go to prison for that lame crank call."Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker." - Gener Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (original)
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