October 15th, 2010
05:23 PM ET

American's suspected shooting death brings scrutiny to cartel

Craig Johnson
Special to CNN

(CNN) - The suspected shooting death of an American by gunmen linked to a Mexican drug cartel has brought unwanted attention to a cartel known as Los Zetas and may have resulted in a death sentence for the killers, security experts said.

"It's more likely than not that more senior people in the organization are unhappy about what happened here because this brings pressure from the United States and Mexican authorities," Robert Chesney, a terrorism and national security expert at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, told CNN on Friday.

"Let's face it," he added, "none of these cartels have any strategic interest in bringing more attention to their operations. That cannot be good for them. If anything, they are going to try to avoid situations like this."

Howard Campbell, University of Texas at El Paso professor and author of "Drug War Zone," said the suspected killing is most likely the work of cartel-connected young thugs - and a grievous mistake.

"There are reports that recently the Zetas have become a bit desperate and have been using ill-trained, reckless teenagers which can lead to mistakes of this kind," he told CNN in an e-mail Friday. "The leaders of Mexican drug cartels try to minimize attacks on Americans because they know this would bring pressure on their organizations."

Tiffany Hartley, the wife of David Hartley, has told authorities that Mexican pirates shot and killed her husband September 30 on Falcon Lake, a popular fishing destination that straddles the U.S.-Mexico border.

In comments that aired Thursday on CNN's "American Morning," Hartley said that she met with Rolando Armando Flores Villegas, the lead Mexican investigator in her husband's case, days before the police officer was killed and his severed head delivered to authorities in a suitcase.

"I met him. He sat right next to me," Hartley said.

Zapata County, Texas, Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez, whose news conferences have drawn national attention to the case over the past two weeks, said Hartley's suspected killers may be already dead.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
October 15th, 2010
03:30 PM ET

CNN Hero: 'All kinds of emotions raced through me, knowing that now more help was coming for our true heroes.'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/10/15/art.walrath.cnn.jpg caption="Since 2005, Texas home builder Dan Wallrath has given injured Iraq and Afghanistan veterans homes of their own – mortgage-free."]

Programming Note: CNN Heroes received more than ten thousand nominations from 100 countries. A Blue Ribbon Panel selected the Top 10 CNN Heroes for the year. Voting for the CNN Hero of the Year continues through November 18th (6am ET) at CNNHeroes.com

Editor's Note: Since 2005, Texas home builder Dan Wallrath has given injured Iraq and Afghanistan veterans homes of their own – mortgage-free. He and his Operation Finally Home team currently have ten new custom homes under construction.

Thank you, and everyone at CNN, for acknowledging the important work we as Americans need to do for our heroes - the ones who sacrifice so much for what we do every day.

My wife Carol and I were on a trip celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary when I received the call that I was selected as one on the Top 10 CNN Heroes of the Year. At first I was numb - I did not know what to say. I actually started shaking.

When I was first nominated, I never thought in a thousand years that I would have ever been selected as a CNN Hero, let alone in the Top 10. When I hung up from the phone call and told Carol what I had just been told, I said “I never could have dreamed when God laid on my heart to do this for our wounded families, that he had all this in mind. Now 20 million people will know about the struggles these young families face as they return to civilian life.”

All kinds of emotions raced through me, knowing that now more help was coming for our true heroes. The $25,000 I receive as a Top 10 CNN Hero will go entirely to “Operation Family Home” so we can help more heroes that need homes.

Updated: 10/18/10, 1:44 p.m.

A Global Celebration: Thanksgiving Night at 8p ET

Filed under: CNN Heroes
October 15th, 2010
01:21 PM ET
October 15th, 2010
12:52 PM ET

Letters to the President: #634 'Lessons from Chile'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama is facing many problems, but in a classic leadership sense, that means he is also facing many opportunities to show courage, fortitude, and leadership.

Dear Mr. President,

You can not believe the number of compliments I’ve heard people giving to the president lately. No, I’m sorry; I’m not talking about you. I mean the president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera.

The way that he stood by during those long hours of the miners’ rescue - congratulating, consoling, comforting, often sharing the spotlight but never hogging it - clearly struck many people as the very picture of what a president ought to be.

Maybe it was his smile, which seemed always ready. Or maybe it was the way he stood there in a red jacket looking like everyone else on the sidelines with no visible sign of security or handlers. Maybe it was the way that he spoke often enough, but not too often or the way he did not rush to be the first to great each saved man, but also never left them waiting for a friendly hand to shake when they were finished thanking the rescuers. It just seemed as if Mr. Piñera., at least in this circumstance, struck the perfect balance.

October 15th, 2010
12:50 PM ET

Questions for JonBenet's brother – again?

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

(CNN) - Police in Boulder, Colorado, want to talk to the older brother of JonBenet Ramsey, the 6-year-old girl slain at home on Christmas night 14 years ago, the Ramsey family's attorney said.

Supporters of the family call it harassment. The brother, Burke Ramsey, has no interest in once again answering questions he has answered for many investigators many times, said the attorney, Lin Wood, of Atlanta, Georgia.

And yet the mere hint of activity in one of the nation's most famous cold cases has headlines swirling.

Related video: Will the Ramsey case ever be solved?

So, what's the story this time? Burke Ramsey was the 9-year-old brother of JonBenet who, by all accounts, slept soundly in his room that Christmas in 1996 while his sister's skull was fractured and she was strangled elsewhere in the house.

Now, he's 23, and although police investigators aren't talking, the family's lawyer is. Wood said police investigators approached Burke Ramsey on his college campus in the spring, gave him a business card and said that if he wanted to talk about the case, they'd like to hear from him.

Investigators, no doubt, are hoping that locked in Burke's memory is some clue that could crack the case; maybe it's a detail that he was afraid to mention as a child or as a teenager but that he now wants to discuss.

Full story

Filed under: 360º Follow • Crime & Punishment
October 15th, 2010
11:00 AM ET
October 15th, 2010
10:43 AM ET

Mexican divers suspend search for American

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - Mexican divers have suspended their search for an American whose wife says he was shot on a lake that straddles the U.S.-Mexican border, authorities said Friday.

David Hartley was reportedly shot to death September 30 by gunmen who investigators believe are linked to a Mexican drug gang.

His wife, Tiffany, told authorities the couple was on a sightseeing trip on Falcon Lake, a reservoir on the Rio Grande. She believes the attackers may still have her husband's body.

She said she met with the lead Mexican investigator in the death of her husband days before the police officer was killed and his severed head delivered to authorities in a suitcase.

U.S. and Mexican authorities vowed the search for Hartley's husband would continue despite the investigator's slaying on Tuesday.

"I met him. He sat right next to me," Hartley said, referring to Mexican state official Rolando Armando Flores Villegas. Her remarks aired on CNN's "American Morning" Thursday.

"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," Hartley said.

Hartley said she wonders if the death of the lead Mexican investigator will hamper the search for her husband.

"It definitely makes me worried that nobody is going to want to take over," she said.

Full story

Udpated: 12:01 p.m.

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
October 15th, 2010
10:30 AM ET
October 15th, 2010
10:15 AM ET
October 15th, 2010
10:00 AM ET