Marion County: A Dark Cloud of Foreign National Crime

Marion County: A Dark Cloud of Foreign National Crime

June 27, 2013

By David Olen Cross

Located in the heart of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Marion County is home to the state’s capital. The valley county’s major employers are government, agriculture, food processing, lumber, manufacturing and education. A very green place to live is the valley county, cloudy at times, where strong winter and spring storms blow in off the Pacific Ocean and drop an average annual rainfall of 35-inchs, it is a place that has a mild warm environment in the summer.

But over the last six years, a different type of storm cloud has been moving over this Willamette Valley county, a cloud that has nothing to do with the weather, it doesn’t seem to dissipate, a cloud that has changed the environment of a county that was once a safe place to live, call it a dark cloud of foreign national crime.

Some stark numbers from June 1st Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) data indicate the presence of this dark cloud; cases adjudicated in Marion County Circuit Courts sent 287 of the 1,198 foreign nationals (prisoners with immigration detainers) to serve time in the DOC prison system.

Putting the preceding numbers into perspective, Marion County’s 320 thousand residents are approximately 8.4 percent of Oregon’s population of 3.831 million, yet the county’s residents have suffered 24.0 percent of the foreign national crime; these statistics place Marion, the states fifth most populous county, number one in foreign crime taking into account all of the state’s 36 counties.

This dark storm cloud of crime, now well defined, has moved primarily from south to north up the valley and is formed by foreign national criminals from at least 22 countries; but the storm cloud of crime’s greatest element are 251 of the 287 foreign nationals now in DOC prisons who have declared their country of origin as Mexico; the cloud of crime being 87.4 percent Mexican nationals.

Marion County is literally the center of the storm of Mexican national crime in the state having 25.7 percent of the 977 Mexicans now in the DOC prison system.

The storm of crime that formed over nine-hundred miles plus to the south of Oregon’s border with California and moved north over the county has its victims: 28 drugs; 18 homicides; 39 rapes; 48 sex abuses; 22 sodomies; 15 kidnappings; 19 robberies 18 assaults; 7 burglaries; 5 driving offenses; 2 thefts; 1 vehicle theft and 29 other types crime.

This dark cloud of foreign national crime has victims who are more than just mere crime statistics; on June 16, 2007 Marion County Sherriff’s Deputy Kelley James Fredinburg, age 33, was killed in a traffic accident near Gervais while responding to a officer needs help call; Deputy Fredinburg’s alleged killer Alfredo De Jesus Ascencio, a Mexican national, has fled the country and is suspected by law enforcement authorities to be hiding in the area of Puacuaro, Michoacan, Mexico.

On April 16, 2012, Laurin Putnam, age 21, a resident of Keizer, was poisoned by a heroin overdose and died; Ms. Putnam’s alleged killers are Sergio Quezada Lopez, Braulio Acosta Mendoza, Jose Romo Gonzalez, Jose Aldan Soto and Julian Hernandez Castillo, all five of them Mexican nationals; they all await trial in a U.S. District Court in Portland in connection with the drugs that caused her death.

Evaluating the dark cloud of foreign national crime in the county, drug crimes may be the most destructive overall to the county’s residents.

Data from the Oregon High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HITDA), 2013 Threat Assessment and Counter-Drug Strategy, report indicates most of the illicit drugs smuggled into the county are sourced from Mexican national drug trafficking organizations (DTOs).

Released June 4th, the Oregon Medical Examiner (OME) report indicated 19 deaths in 2012 that occurred in Marion County were caused by illicit drugs; the types of drugs by the numbers that killed 19 of the county’s residents last year were 10 from heroin, one from cocaine, 10 from methamphetamine or two from a combination of the preceding drugs; these drug death numbers equate to a 90 percent increase from 2011.

Beyond the human cost this storm of crime has left behind, there is an ongoing economic cost to the county’s residents who are state taxpayers; the cost for incarcerating 287 foreign nationals in the state’s prisons may approach 8.88 million dollars annually.

As recently as June 12th, the Marion County Correctional Facility (MCCF), the county jail, had 32 prisoners with federal immigration detainers incarcerated at the MCCF, a strong sign of those individuals may be in the country illegally; the annual cost to hold 32 foreign nationals at the jail is approximately 1.26 million dollars.

To dissipate the dark storm cloud of foreign national crime covering the county, the Marion County Commissioners and Marion County Sheriff’s Department should seek out any and all needed economic resources from both the state and federal government to fight foreign national crime in the county.

With so many inmates at the MCCF having federal immigration detainers on them, one place to start in seeking out economic resources would be for the Sheriff’s Department to open up jail beds and lease them to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); the stationing of ICE agents at the jail would send a strong message to foreign national criminals that the county is no sanctuary for criminal aliens.

To reduce future drug deaths in the county, to keep the Mexican drug cartels in-check, to keep the drug cartels from easily distributing cartel drugs, drugs that are killing far too many of the county’s residents, the Commissioners and Sheriff’s Department should seek out or provide any additional resources needed by the Marion County Street Crimes Unit to enable them to better to enforce the state’s drug laws in the county.

Finally, the Marion County Commissioners and Marion Sheriff’s Department should put aside any concerns about increased enforcement of the laws of the state offending the county’s Hispanic community, many whom are undocumented residents, because far too many of those in their midst are the dark cloud of foreign national crime that continues to cover this Willamette Valley county.

David Olen Cross of Salem writes on immigration issues and foreign national crime. He can be reached at


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