Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 3, 2007


Host: Jose Cardenas

Arizona Congressman Harry Mitchell


  • Arizona Congressman Harry Mitchell is back in Arizona as Congress takes its Spring Recess.We’ll talk to Congressman Mitchell about the Iraq War, health care for our Nation’s veterans, and experiences during his first term in Congress.
Guests:
  • Harry Mitchell - U.S. Congressman
  • Terry Goddard - Arizona Attorney General
  • Linda Gorman - Public affairs manager, AAA Arizona


View Transcript
Jose Cardenas:
Tonight on Horizon, Arizona Congressman Harry Mitchell joins us to talk about the war in Iraq and providing quality health care for our nation's veterans. A yearlong investigation breaks up one of the largest human smuggling operations in Arizona history. Attorney General Goddard joins us with details, plus, we've all been watching gas prices rise. Will they continue or is there relief at the pump in sight? Those stories next on "Horizon."

Jose Cardenas:
Good evening, I'm Jose Cardenas; welcome to "Horizon." this week and next, the U.S. House Of Representatives is on recess, giving its members a chance to do work in their home states. Congressman Harry Mitchell is indeed back in Arizona, and he joins us tonight to talk about what he's been doing and working on in Washington. Congressman Mitchell, welcome back.

Harry Mitchell:
Thank you very much, glad to be here.

Jose Cardenas:
The war in Iraq of course dominates the news as it has for many months. Where do you stand on the position taken by many of your fellow democrats on a deadline for ending U.S. involvement there?

Harry Mitchell:
I've really been opposed to a deadline. I think that what we need to do is to work on this situation in a very bipartisan way. I think by doing that, we can come up with the best solution. But I think coming up with a specific date -- one of the things -- that's wrong. What we need to do is hold the Iraqis accountable. You know, it's -- we are more and more put into a position where we are spending our lives, our troops' lives and our money, in a situation that seems like the Iraqis have not taken ownership of their own country or their own situation, and that's what we need to do, and we need to do this in a bipartisan way.

Jose Cardenas:
Congressman, you oppose the deadline, yet you voted for the $124 billion spending package that includes an august 2008 deadline. How do you reconcile those positions?

Harry Mitchell:
I reconcile that because I believe very firmly we've got to support our troops. There's no way that we should not be able to support our troops with all the resources that we can, not only the troops in the field, but also with veterans' benefits. This measure is the only one I saw that did both of those. It provided necessary resources for troops in the field, as well as taking care of our veterans.

Jose Cardenas:
This may come at some political cost to you, this vote because the Republican Party and some conservative groups have announced that because of it they're going after you in 2008.What are you going to need to do to maintain your seat?

Harry Mitchell:
I was elected to congress to, I think, represent the people in this district and this state, and I'm going to do just that. There is no doubt in my mind that the republicans are going to come after me. I think that's just the political game that is played. I think, no matter how I would have voted, they would have been there. So I expected that and we're just going to do the job that I think I was sent there to do.

Jose Cardenas:
Further on Iraq, the senate majority leader Harry Reid has said that he intends to seek a cutoff of funding if the president does not go along with some kind of a timetable for withdrawal. What's your thought on that?

Harry Mitchell:
You know, the senate passed a bill as well as the House of Representatives, and there completely different bills, so now it has to go to a conference committee where a compromise will be worked out. This is where the president has a role to play. I hope the president and congress can come together with a compromise that we don't have to be at loggerheads. We can end this war in a way that's -- that we would like to, where we feel good about it, and at the same time put the Iraqis on notice that they have got to be -- they're in charge of this. They have got to be held accountable, and it just hasn't happened.

Jose Cardenas:
If a compromise is not reached, and if indeed senator Reid comes forward with a funding cutoff, doesn't that just hurt the troops?

Harry Mitchell:
Yes, but I don't believe that's the type of thing that's going to happen. I believe we should work in a bipartisan way to make sure that the Iraqis are held accountable, and at the same time we provide our troops with everything that is necessary. I would certainly work for that. I would not leave our troops at all in any situation where they would not have the resources necessary.

Jose Cardenas:
Talking about providing our troops with everything necessary, in the news recently has been the question of whether we're giving them adequate health care, both veterans from the Iraq war and from other wars. Walter Reed was the initial focus, but here closer to home we also have issues. Walter Reed, tell us what's going on there and what role you've played in trying to deal with those issues.

Jose Cardenas:
Well Walter Reed, you have to remember, is a medical facility under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense. It's an army hospital. But it doesn't take very long for those people in that facility to become veterans, and then they transfer over to the veteran's administration. As we looked at what was going on at Walter Reed, we then started looking at veterans facilities, and then found there were some problems in those veterans' facilities, as well. In the supplemental I might add, added over $550 million to take care of the backlog of repairs needed in veterans' facilities. But when we look at the need for veterans, it isn't just necessarily in healthcare; there are benefits that also are very important besides health benefits that we found that, as we've had some investigations, that many of these veterans are falling through the cracks. There is lost paperwork, they get tied up in beaurocracies. We've got to find a way, as people transition from the department of defense area into the veterans affairs area, that it's a seamless one, that these people do not have to fill out papers again that they've already filled out, and that their records are not lost, and that there's a sense of seamless transition. That's what we're finding are some of the biggest frustrations among veterans.

Jose Cardenas:
As you point out, there's also a distinction between the immediate medical care and long-term nursing home care. After the Walter Reed story broke, you toured, as I understand, the veteran's hospital here. Did you also tour, after the problems at the nursing care aspects of Walter Reed broke, the nursing home here run for veterans?

Harry Mitchell:
No, I didn't. The veteran's hospital is run by the veteran's affairs and the federal government. The nursing home is a state-run organization. When I first came, this was just a week ago maybe two weeks ago that I went to the veteran's hospital, and I did not tour the state-run nursing home. But what I did find at the Carl Hayden medical facility is a facility that people feel very good about; it's just that they're overwhelmed with the numbers. I think that they need more staffing and they need more space. 65 -- or half of the veterans who are served at the Carl Hayden medical center are over 65, and this is because -- one of the reasons, of course, we're in the sun belt, and there are all these retirees coming here. We have got to make room, not only for the veterans who have served in past wars, but we also need to be concerned with the current veterans coming out, and we're going to have lots of those from Iraq and Afghanistan. We're going to have to provide more resources.

Jose Cardenas:
Congressman any concerns about how the governor's office has handled the problems with the state veteran's hospital or nursing home?

Harry Mitchell:
Well I do know that the state legislature is looking into this, as an oversight hearings on this. It seems to me it might have been handled differently or better, but this is a state-run agency, it's a state facility, and we'll see what happens.

Jose Cardenas:
It is a state-run agency, but that didn't stop one of our state legislators from taking some shots at you for those problems. How do you respond to those criticisms?

Harry Mitchell:
Well coming from that particular legislator I expected that. Since it's state-run, and he heads up a committee that should be looking into that, I just don't understand how he can pass it off and say it's a federal responsibility, when it's a state-run facility, under the state jurisdiction, and responsibility of the state. So that's part of the politics, and part of what you mentioned earlier, that republicans may be trying to do.

Jose Cardenas:
Let me ask you about Pat Tillman. You had a determination by the pentagon that there was no criminal responsibility involved in the handling of the -- of his death. But you've asked for a probe, you've asked the house armed services committee to launch a probe. Why is that?

Harry Mitchell:
I think one of the most important things is, like in all controversies or issues, it's the cover-up that becomes the issue. I understand in times of war there are fatalities based on friendly fire. But it took 35 days from the day corporal Tillman died until he was finally -- the parents were finally notified of how he died. His family feels that there was a cover-up. Senator McCain feels there are some inconsistencies in the story. We don't know how high this has gone. We understand his death was friendly fire and an accident, but why was it covered up? We don't know that, and that's the purpose I believe of an investigation and the purpose for oversight hearings.

Jose Cardenas:
Congressman, last question. You had extensive experience here in Arizona as a mayor, as a state legislator and now you are a congressman, how do those two experiences compare?

Harry Mitchell:
They're all a little different, but there is some similarity of course in all of them. The difference between the federal government or congress and the state is the size. I'm on one committee that has 75 members. When you think of the whole state legislature as 90 members, I served in the democratic caucus in the senate where we had, in the eight years I was there, anywhere between 15 and 12 members. Now I'm in a caucus that has 233. Things are just different because of the size. But I think basically, legislation and legislating is the same. You just have to get used to some of the culture each institution brings with it.

Jose Cardenas:
Congressman Harry Mitchell thanks for joining us on "Horizon." good to have you back.

Harry Mitchell:
Thank you Jose.

Jose Cardenas:
The Arizona financial crimes task force recently found evidence that six travel agencies in the valley provided one-way airline tickets to more than 6800 undocumented immigrants since August of 2005. The tickets were for travel from McCarran international airport in Las Vegas. The value of those tickets, nearly $2 million. 16 defendants have been named. Joining me with details is Arizona Attorney General, Terry Goddard. Attorney General Goddard welcome back to "Horizon."

Terry Goddard:
Thank you.

Jose Cardenas:
We talked about a yearlong investigation by this task force. Who were the members of the task force?

Terry Goddard:
The principal members, besides the attorney generals office, the department of public safety and the phoenix police department. They conducted essentially an undercover operation where they tried to buy tickets, telling the agents at these travel agencies-- that they were coyotes, that they had a group of people that had just been smuggled into the country, and they needed the tickets from, in this case, from McCarran international airport in Las Vegas.

Jose Cardenas:
The travel agencies involved, there were six of them, where were they located in the Phoenix area I know but principally where?

Terry Goddard:
Well, principally in Phoenix. One was in Scottsdale and one had offices in both Phoenix and Mesa. So it was a valley wide problem, most of the actual physical locations were in the city of Phoenix. But they were small agencies largely, and the folks indicted in this sweep were owners and operators of these agencies, plus two individuals who were part of a safe house that were holding some of these individuals, pending getting their tickets.

Jose Cardenas:
And can you explain some of the other mechanics of how the operation worked?

Terry Goddard:
How the smuggling operation --

Jose Cardenas:
Yes.

Terry Goddard:
-- or the investigation? Well, people were brought into this country one way or another, and our investigation wasn't involved in that part of the process. But they arrived in Phoenix, were taken to a safe house or an intermediate location. The coyote, the chaperone went and bought tickets at one of these cooperating ticket agencies. They paid cash, bought them out of McCarran Airport. And in all of the instances we investigated, apparently because Sky Harbor has a higher level of investigation, in terms of whether or not you're in this country legally.

Jose Cardenas:
So people were being transported from Phoenix by land?

Terry Goddard:
People were put in a van and driven through Wickenburg up to Las Vegas and then put on the plane.

Jose Cardenas:
Did the airlines cooperate in any way in the investigation?

Terry Goddard:
The airlines were very important in the investigation. All of the major carriers were involved. They helped us with access to their records, as did their joint ticketing operation. So we had a good cooperation from the commercial carriers.

Jose Cardenas:
How did the problem first come to light?

Terry Goddard:
Well, it was part of an ongoing effort at the attorney general's office, in terms of money laundering. We have been for the past four years involved in investigating wire transfers from other parts of the country to Arizona, to pay for smuggling of human beings. Through that investigation, there have been a number of offshoots. This, frankly, was one of them. We found in several places where people were being arrested for large amounts of money being obtained through various wire transfer agencies, we found that they had lots of plane tickets, and travel itineraries from a relatively small number of travel agencies. So that led inexorable to checking out those travel agencies to see what level of complicity they had, and through the undercover buys. We found the complicity was very high. That they, in fact, knew who they were dealing with, that they were smuggling human beings, and they were willing to accept more than the face value of the ticket in order to sort of ease their conscience.

Jose Cardenas:
All of those indicated that something was going on here.

Terry Goddard:
Pretty strong, including one that was charging over twice the face value of the ticket to the alleged purchaser, to the police officer who was making the purchase.

Jose Cardenas:
And all cash transactions?

Terry Goddard:
All cash transactions. And another suspicious aspect was, all for an airport other than the one in Phoenix. Normally, when you're booking travel, you would assume that travel would initiate in the city where you're making the booking. In this case, none of them did.

Jose Cardenas:
We've identified or at least 16 people have been named as defendants. Who the principal defendants? Can you tell us that?

Terry Goddard:
I've got the principle travel agencies that were named, but the individuals were owners or principal operatives of those travel agencies that have been named.

Jose Cardenas:
What kind of a dent will this put in smuggling overall?

Terry Goddard:
I hope it's a strong message. I guess whenever you're looking at this kind of prosecution, that's got to be one of your motivations. This clearly is a huge market. It's something where even the 6800 since August of 2005 seems like a big number, 7,000 tickets. But based on the number of people we're sure are being transferred out of the Phoenix metropolitan area by coyotes, that's a fairly small number. But I know other travel agencies, if they were involved in even a fraction of this trade, are going to be much more careful. This is an ongoing investigation. We want to serve notice on the industry that we're going to be continuing to watch this kind of activity, and they'd better start policing themselves, and I think they will.

Jose Cardenas:
Do you think that you've got the principal agents that were involved?

Terry Goddard:
We've got the ones that were most involved the ones that we had best leads and I think we've gotten the most important ones. But I could not claim that we've gotten everybody involved in this trade.

Jose Cardenas:
Now, there have been some controversies about the proper scope and use of Arizona's human smuggling law. How does this fit into that?

Terry Goddard:
This is the reason -- August of 2005 is named in your introduction and in our investigation. That's when the antihuman smuggling, anti-coyote law went into effect in Arizona. It specifically says you are guilty of a felony if you facilitate for money, for a profit, the moving of somebody you know to be illegal in this country without proper documentation. So I believe these travel agents' operations clearly fall been the scope of that particular prohibition. Of course, also we've used that statute in terms of following up on many of the money laundering charges, when we found hundreds of thousands of dollars being moved by wire transfer to a particular individual for the purpose of paying for the transportation of human beings.

Jose Cardenas:
Presumably we'll be back to talk about that and other operations. But for now, Attorney General Terry Goddard, thanks for joining us on "Horizon".

Terry Goddard:
Thank you, sir.

Jose Cardenas: The price of gas has risen over the past month by more than 20 cents per gallon. Arizona drivers are paying more per gallon than the national average. But the prices across the state can vary widely. In a moment we'll talk about some of the factors that can drive up the cost of gas. First here's a comparison of some national, state, and local numbers for the cost of regular unleaded gas.

Merry Lucero:
Drivers here in Arizona and across the nation have been watching gas prices steadily rise. Arizona motorists are now paying more than three dollars a gallon for premium unleaded. Triple-A Arizona breaks down the average price for regular unleaded. The national average currently is $2.70, compared to $2.47 a month ago, and $2.58 a year ago at this time. Across Arizona, the average is $2.82 a gallon. It was $2.45 a month ago and $2.54 a year ago. In Phoenix the current average is $2.81 a gallon. Just a month ago in Phoenix, it was only $2.41 and $2.49 a year ago. Several different factors form the cost of each gallon of gas. The cost of crude oil makes up nearly 65\%. Taxes make up about 17\%. Refining and distribution are about 11\%, and the retail margin makes up 7.5\%. Gasoline inventories, refinery operations and production, and geopolitical concerns all affect gas prices at the pump. As we head into summer travel and hurricane season, drivers could feel the squeeze at the pump continue from current levels. To check on line for the cheapest gas prices in Arizona and across the nation, you can go to www.aaa.com/fuelfinder.

Jose Cardenas:
Here now with more on gas prices Linda Gorman public affairs manager for AAA Arizona. Linda let's talk about how we compare to other parts of the country. Who has the cheapest gas?

Linda Gorman:
Cheapest gas right now it's in South Carolina, followed by Georgia. We're really seeing the cheapest gas in the gulf coast areas. The most expensive, at least in the continental U.S., is California, followed closely by Washington. Oregon is also high up there, and so is Arizona.

Jose Cardenas:
If we were trying to determine within the state, where is the cheapest place to go, and the most expensive, what would the answer be?

Linda Gorman:
Cheapest is almost always Tucson, but most expensive is usually Scottsdale or Flagstaff but right now is Scottsdale.

Jose Cardenas:
Why would Tucson have the cheaper gas?

Linda Gorman:
Tucson has cheaper gas number one it's less expensive to lease land for stations there, and also they're not under the same requirements for clean air that we are here in the metropolitan area. It doesn't cost as much really to create their gas, to make their gas.

Jose Cardenas:
I know its springtime, but is there any connection between the summer blend traditional period that we go through, and the increase in prices at the pump?

Linda Gorman:
Yes there is, typically this time of year we do see an increase when refineries shut down we have our maintenance schedule and they're converting from winter to summer blends. Summer blends also cost more to produce, so there is that issue. Increases happened earlier this year, and the refinery industry has just been filled with a spate of problems, problem after problem, that has -- while not big issues in and of themselves, they just really underscore the fragility of the supply landscape here in the state.

Jose Cardenas:
And I take it one of the problems is we just don't have any refineries coming on line.

Linda Gorman:
Correct. We've had a huge population explosion in the last ten fifteen years even, but very little increase in refinery capacity. We've had actually no new refineries in the last 30 years, but we have more and more people coming in here. We just have very limited access to global imports.

Jose Cardenas:
I understand that in some activity in the Yuma area, to bring a refinery to that location, a new lawsuit was just filed yesterday? Today?

Linda Gorman:
Yesterday. A lawsuit was filed, and again, it's sort of disheartening that we just can't seem to get these issues out of the way, so that we can build these refineries so we can have access to more fuel. The problem also is just the exorbitant amount of resources that are needed to start up a refinery. We're talking about drilling fields, oilfields, heavy equipment. It's a very large undertaking; with something that the industry is not sure will pay off 20, 30 years from now.

Jose Cardenas:
The governor recently sent a letter a week ago asking for some at least transparency in how this is all conducted.

Linda Gorman:
She sent a letter to the department of energy asking for an investigation into why the refineries don't stagger their maintenance schedule a little more. And also you know why we see these increases this time of year. That is an important point, and there should definitely be transparency in the oil and gas industries. But what it really underscores is a symptom of the overgrowing problem, which is that we just don't have any new refineries. We have a huge population there, we have people moving into the state, and they're living on the outskirts of town, 20, 30, 40 miles from where they work. They're actually unknowingly contributing to the problem by consuming more gas.

Jose Cardenas:
We've got about 45 seconds left. First, is there going to be enough gas this summer? And second, what can people do to conserve gas?

Linda Gorman:
There will be enough gas for the summer. If there are any areas will see over three dollars a gallon, Arizona might be it for the reasons that I mentioned aside from California. People can conserve by purchasing just the regular grade, not the premium, and combining trips as possible, and really looking online to find the cheapest deals in the area that they live in.

Jose Cardenas:
Linda Gorman, thanks for joining us on "Horizon". To see video of other Horizon segments via the internet, please go to our website at azpbs.org and click on Horizon. You can also get transcripts and find out about up coming topics.

David Majure:
Allowing you to send your kid to the school of your choice, public or private, is debated on the ASU campus. Arizona lawmakers hold their first hearing on patient care problems at the state run nursing home for veterans. And what you should be doing to prepare for your retirement. It's all coming up Wednesday at 7 on "Horizon".

Jose Cardenas:
And that's Horizon for this Tuesday evening. I'm Jose Cardenas, thanks for sharing your evening with us.

Gas Prices


  • The price of gasoline has been climbing and drivers across the state and the nation continue to feel the pain at the pump. Premium fuel already hit the $3 mark and regular unleaded is not far behind. We get an update with Linda Gorman of AAA Arizona about what is behind the rising gas prices and where they might be headed this summer.
Guests:
  • Harry Mitchell - U.S. Congressman
  • Terry Goddard - Arizona Attorney General
  • Linda Gorman - Public affairs manager, AAA Arizona
Category: Business/Economy

View Transcript
Jose Cardenas:
Tonight on Horizon, Arizona Congressman Harry Mitchell joins us to talk about the war in Iraq and providing quality health care for our nation's veterans. A yearlong investigation breaks up one of the largest human smuggling operations in Arizona history. Attorney General Goddard joins us with details, plus, we've all been watching gas prices rise. Will they continue or is there relief at the pump in sight? Those stories next on "Horizon."

Jose Cardenas:
Good evening, I'm Jose Cardenas; welcome to "Horizon." this week and next, the U.S. House Of Representatives is on recess, giving its members a chance to do work in their home states. Congressman Harry Mitchell is indeed back in Arizona, and he joins us tonight to talk about what he's been doing and working on in Washington. Congressman Mitchell, welcome back.

Harry Mitchell:
Thank you very much, glad to be here.

Jose Cardenas:
The war in Iraq of course dominates the news as it has for many months. Where do you stand on the position taken by many of your fellow democrats on a deadline for ending U.S. involvement there?

Harry Mitchell:
I've really been opposed to a deadline. I think that what we need to do is to work on this situation in a very bipartisan way. I think by doing that, we can come up with the best solution. But I think coming up with a specific date -- one of the things -- that's wrong. What we need to do is hold the Iraqis accountable. You know, it's -- we are more and more put into a position where we are spending our lives, our troops' lives and our money, in a situation that seems like the Iraqis have not taken ownership of their own country or their own situation, and that's what we need to do, and we need to do this in a bipartisan way.

Jose Cardenas:
Congressman, you oppose the deadline, yet you voted for the $124 billion spending package that includes an august 2008 deadline. How do you reconcile those positions?

Harry Mitchell:
I reconcile that because I believe very firmly we've got to support our troops. There's no way that we should not be able to support our troops with all the resources that we can, not only the troops in the field, but also with veterans' benefits. This measure is the only one I saw that did both of those. It provided necessary resources for troops in the field, as well as taking care of our veterans.

Jose Cardenas:
This may come at some political cost to you, this vote because the Republican Party and some conservative groups have announced that because of it they're going after you in 2008.What are you going to need to do to maintain your seat?

Harry Mitchell:
I was elected to congress to, I think, represent the people in this district and this state, and I'm going to do just that. There is no doubt in my mind that the republicans are going to come after me. I think that's just the political game that is played. I think, no matter how I would have voted, they would have been there. So I expected that and we're just going to do the job that I think I was sent there to do.

Jose Cardenas:
Further on Iraq, the senate majority leader Harry Reid has said that he intends to seek a cutoff of funding if the president does not go along with some kind of a timetable for withdrawal. What's your thought on that?

Harry Mitchell:
You know, the senate passed a bill as well as the House of Representatives, and there completely different bills, so now it has to go to a conference committee where a compromise will be worked out. This is where the president has a role to play. I hope the president and congress can come together with a compromise that we don't have to be at loggerheads. We can end this war in a way that's -- that we would like to, where we feel good about it, and at the same time put the Iraqis on notice that they have got to be -- they're in charge of this. They have got to be held accountable, and it just hasn't happened.

Jose Cardenas:
If a compromise is not reached, and if indeed senator Reid comes forward with a funding cutoff, doesn't that just hurt the troops?

Harry Mitchell:
Yes, but I don't believe that's the type of thing that's going to happen. I believe we should work in a bipartisan way to make sure that the Iraqis are held accountable, and at the same time we provide our troops with everything that is necessary. I would certainly work for that. I would not leave our troops at all in any situation where they would not have the resources necessary.

Jose Cardenas:
Talking about providing our troops with everything necessary, in the news recently has been the question of whether we're giving them adequate health care, both veterans from the Iraq war and from other wars. Walter Reed was the initial focus, but here closer to home we also have issues. Walter Reed, tell us what's going on there and what role you've played in trying to deal with those issues.

Jose Cardenas:
Well Walter Reed, you have to remember, is a medical facility under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense. It's an army hospital. But it doesn't take very long for those people in that facility to become veterans, and then they transfer over to the veteran's administration. As we looked at what was going on at Walter Reed, we then started looking at veterans facilities, and then found there were some problems in those veterans' facilities, as well. In the supplemental I might add, added over $550 million to take care of the backlog of repairs needed in veterans' facilities. But when we look at the need for veterans, it isn't just necessarily in healthcare; there are benefits that also are very important besides health benefits that we found that, as we've had some investigations, that many of these veterans are falling through the cracks. There is lost paperwork, they get tied up in beaurocracies. We've got to find a way, as people transition from the department of defense area into the veterans affairs area, that it's a seamless one, that these people do not have to fill out papers again that they've already filled out, and that their records are not lost, and that there's a sense of seamless transition. That's what we're finding are some of the biggest frustrations among veterans.

Jose Cardenas:
As you point out, there's also a distinction between the immediate medical care and long-term nursing home care. After the Walter Reed story broke, you toured, as I understand, the veteran's hospital here. Did you also tour, after the problems at the nursing care aspects of Walter Reed broke, the nursing home here run for veterans?

Harry Mitchell:
No, I didn't. The veteran's hospital is run by the veteran's affairs and the federal government. The nursing home is a state-run organization. When I first came, this was just a week ago maybe two weeks ago that I went to the veteran's hospital, and I did not tour the state-run nursing home. But what I did find at the Carl Hayden medical facility is a facility that people feel very good about; it's just that they're overwhelmed with the numbers. I think that they need more staffing and they need more space. 65 -- or half of the veterans who are served at the Carl Hayden medical center are over 65, and this is because -- one of the reasons, of course, we're in the sun belt, and there are all these retirees coming here. We have got to make room, not only for the veterans who have served in past wars, but we also need to be concerned with the current veterans coming out, and we're going to have lots of those from Iraq and Afghanistan. We're going to have to provide more resources.

Jose Cardenas:
Congressman any concerns about how the governor's office has handled the problems with the state veteran's hospital or nursing home?

Harry Mitchell:
Well I do know that the state legislature is looking into this, as an oversight hearings on this. It seems to me it might have been handled differently or better, but this is a state-run agency, it's a state facility, and we'll see what happens.

Jose Cardenas:
It is a state-run agency, but that didn't stop one of our state legislators from taking some shots at you for those problems. How do you respond to those criticisms?

Harry Mitchell:
Well coming from that particular legislator I expected that. Since it's state-run, and he heads up a committee that should be looking into that, I just don't understand how he can pass it off and say it's a federal responsibility, when it's a state-run facility, under the state jurisdiction, and responsibility of the state. So that's part of the politics, and part of what you mentioned earlier, that republicans may be trying to do.

Jose Cardenas:
Let me ask you about Pat Tillman. You had a determination by the pentagon that there was no criminal responsibility involved in the handling of the -- of his death. But you've asked for a probe, you've asked the house armed services committee to launch a probe. Why is that?

Harry Mitchell:
I think one of the most important things is, like in all controversies or issues, it's the cover-up that becomes the issue. I understand in times of war there are fatalities based on friendly fire. But it took 35 days from the day corporal Tillman died until he was finally -- the parents were finally notified of how he died. His family feels that there was a cover-up. Senator McCain feels there are some inconsistencies in the story. We don't know how high this has gone. We understand his death was friendly fire and an accident, but why was it covered up? We don't know that, and that's the purpose I believe of an investigation and the purpose for oversight hearings.

Jose Cardenas:
Congressman, last question. You had extensive experience here in Arizona as a mayor, as a state legislator and now you are a congressman, how do those two experiences compare?

Harry Mitchell:
They're all a little different, but there is some similarity of course in all of them. The difference between the federal government or congress and the state is the size. I'm on one committee that has 75 members. When you think of the whole state legislature as 90 members, I served in the democratic caucus in the senate where we had, in the eight years I was there, anywhere between 15 and 12 members. Now I'm in a caucus that has 233. Things are just different because of the size. But I think basically, legislation and legislating is the same. You just have to get used to some of the culture each institution brings with it.

Jose Cardenas:
Congressman Harry Mitchell thanks for joining us on "Horizon." good to have you back.

Harry Mitchell:
Thank you Jose.

Jose Cardenas:
The Arizona financial crimes task force recently found evidence that six travel agencies in the valley provided one-way airline tickets to more than 6800 undocumented immigrants since August of 2005. The tickets were for travel from McCarran international airport in Las Vegas. The value of those tickets, nearly $2 million. 16 defendants have been named. Joining me with details is Arizona Attorney General, Terry Goddard. Attorney General Goddard welcome back to "Horizon."

Terry Goddard:
Thank you.

Jose Cardenas:
We talked about a yearlong investigation by this task force. Who were the members of the task force?

Terry Goddard:
The principal members, besides the attorney generals office, the department of public safety and the phoenix police department. They conducted essentially an undercover operation where they tried to buy tickets, telling the agents at these travel agencies-- that they were coyotes, that they had a group of people that had just been smuggled into the country, and they needed the tickets from, in this case, from McCarran international airport in Las Vegas.

Jose Cardenas:
The travel agencies involved, there were six of them, where were they located in the Phoenix area I know but principally where?

Terry Goddard:
Well, principally in Phoenix. One was in Scottsdale and one had offices in both Phoenix and Mesa. So it was a valley wide problem, most of the actual physical locations were in the city of Phoenix. But they were small agencies largely, and the folks indicted in this sweep were owners and operators of these agencies, plus two individuals who were part of a safe house that were holding some of these individuals, pending getting their tickets.

Jose Cardenas:
And can you explain some of the other mechanics of how the operation worked?

Terry Goddard:
How the smuggling operation --

Jose Cardenas:
Yes.

Terry Goddard:
-- or the investigation? Well, people were brought into this country one way or another, and our investigation wasn't involved in that part of the process. But they arrived in Phoenix, were taken to a safe house or an intermediate location. The coyote, the chaperone went and bought tickets at one of these cooperating ticket agencies. They paid cash, bought them out of McCarran Airport. And in all of the instances we investigated, apparently because Sky Harbor has a higher level of investigation, in terms of whether or not you're in this country legally.

Jose Cardenas:
So people were being transported from Phoenix by land?

Terry Goddard:
People were put in a van and driven through Wickenburg up to Las Vegas and then put on the plane.

Jose Cardenas:
Did the airlines cooperate in any way in the investigation?

Terry Goddard:
The airlines were very important in the investigation. All of the major carriers were involved. They helped us with access to their records, as did their joint ticketing operation. So we had a good cooperation from the commercial carriers.

Jose Cardenas:
How did the problem first come to light?

Terry Goddard:
Well, it was part of an ongoing effort at the attorney general's office, in terms of money laundering. We have been for the past four years involved in investigating wire transfers from other parts of the country to Arizona, to pay for smuggling of human beings. Through that investigation, there have been a number of offshoots. This, frankly, was one of them. We found in several places where people were being arrested for large amounts of money being obtained through various wire transfer agencies, we found that they had lots of plane tickets, and travel itineraries from a relatively small number of travel agencies. So that led inexorable to checking out those travel agencies to see what level of complicity they had, and through the undercover buys. We found the complicity was very high. That they, in fact, knew who they were dealing with, that they were smuggling human beings, and they were willing to accept more than the face value of the ticket in order to sort of ease their conscience.

Jose Cardenas:
All of those indicated that something was going on here.

Terry Goddard:
Pretty strong, including one that was charging over twice the face value of the ticket to the alleged purchaser, to the police officer who was making the purchase.

Jose Cardenas:
And all cash transactions?

Terry Goddard:
All cash transactions. And another suspicious aspect was, all for an airport other than the one in Phoenix. Normally, when you're booking travel, you would assume that travel would initiate in the city where you're making the booking. In this case, none of them did.

Jose Cardenas:
We've identified or at least 16 people have been named as defendants. Who the principal defendants? Can you tell us that?

Terry Goddard:
I've got the principle travel agencies that were named, but the individuals were owners or principal operatives of those travel agencies that have been named.

Jose Cardenas:
What kind of a dent will this put in smuggling overall?

Terry Goddard:
I hope it's a strong message. I guess whenever you're looking at this kind of prosecution, that's got to be one of your motivations. This clearly is a huge market. It's something where even the 6800 since August of 2005 seems like a big number, 7,000 tickets. But based on the number of people we're sure are being transferred out of the Phoenix metropolitan area by coyotes, that's a fairly small number. But I know other travel agencies, if they were involved in even a fraction of this trade, are going to be much more careful. This is an ongoing investigation. We want to serve notice on the industry that we're going to be continuing to watch this kind of activity, and they'd better start policing themselves, and I think they will.

Jose Cardenas:
Do you think that you've got the principal agents that were involved?

Terry Goddard:
We've got the ones that were most involved the ones that we had best leads and I think we've gotten the most important ones. But I could not claim that we've gotten everybody involved in this trade.

Jose Cardenas:
Now, there have been some controversies about the proper scope and use of Arizona's human smuggling law. How does this fit into that?

Terry Goddard:
This is the reason -- August of 2005 is named in your introduction and in our investigation. That's when the antihuman smuggling, anti-coyote law went into effect in Arizona. It specifically says you are guilty of a felony if you facilitate for money, for a profit, the moving of somebody you know to be illegal in this country without proper documentation. So I believe these travel agents' operations clearly fall been the scope of that particular prohibition. Of course, also we've used that statute in terms of following up on many of the money laundering charges, when we found hundreds of thousands of dollars being moved by wire transfer to a particular individual for the purpose of paying for the transportation of human beings.

Jose Cardenas:
Presumably we'll be back to talk about that and other operations. But for now, Attorney General Terry Goddard, thanks for joining us on "Horizon".

Terry Goddard:
Thank you, sir.

Jose Cardenas: The price of gas has risen over the past month by more than 20 cents per gallon. Arizona drivers are paying more per gallon than the national average. But the prices across the state can vary widely. In a moment we'll talk about some of the factors that can drive up the cost of gas. First here's a comparison of some national, state, and local numbers for the cost of regular unleaded gas.

Merry Lucero:
Drivers here in Arizona and across the nation have been watching gas prices steadily rise. Arizona motorists are now paying more than three dollars a gallon for premium unleaded. Triple-A Arizona breaks down the average price for regular unleaded. The national average currently is $2.70, compared to $2.47 a month ago, and $2.58 a year ago at this time. Across Arizona, the average is $2.82 a gallon. It was $2.45 a month ago and $2.54 a year ago. In Phoenix the current average is $2.81 a gallon. Just a month ago in Phoenix, it was only $2.41 and $2.49 a year ago. Several different factors form the cost of each gallon of gas. The cost of crude oil makes up nearly 65\%. Taxes make up about 17\%. Refining and distribution are about 11\%, and the retail margin makes up 7.5\%. Gasoline inventories, refinery operations and production, and geopolitical concerns all affect gas prices at the pump. As we head into summer travel and hurricane season, drivers could feel the squeeze at the pump continue from current levels. To check on line for the cheapest gas prices in Arizona and across the nation, you can go to www.aaa.com/fuelfinder.

Jose Cardenas:
Here now with more on gas prices Linda Gorman public affairs manager for AAA Arizona. Linda let's talk about how we compare to other parts of the country. Who has the cheapest gas?

Linda Gorman:
Cheapest gas right now it's in South Carolina, followed by Georgia. We're really seeing the cheapest gas in the gulf coast areas. The most expensive, at least in the continental U.S., is California, followed closely by Washington. Oregon is also high up there, and so is Arizona.

Jose Cardenas:
If we were trying to determine within the state, where is the cheapest place to go, and the most expensive, what would the answer be?

Linda Gorman:
Cheapest is almost always Tucson, but most expensive is usually Scottsdale or Flagstaff but right now is Scottsdale.

Jose Cardenas:
Why would Tucson have the cheaper gas?

Linda Gorman:
Tucson has cheaper gas number one it's less expensive to lease land for stations there, and also they're not under the same requirements for clean air that we are here in the metropolitan area. It doesn't cost as much really to create their gas, to make their gas.

Jose Cardenas:
I know its springtime, but is there any connection between the summer blend traditional period that we go through, and the increase in prices at the pump?

Linda Gorman:
Yes there is, typically this time of year we do see an increase when refineries shut down we have our maintenance schedule and they're converting from winter to summer blends. Summer blends also cost more to produce, so there is that issue. Increases happened earlier this year, and the refinery industry has just been filled with a spate of problems, problem after problem, that has -- while not big issues in and of themselves, they just really underscore the fragility of the supply landscape here in the state.

Jose Cardenas:
And I take it one of the problems is we just don't have any refineries coming on line.

Linda Gorman:
Correct. We've had a huge population explosion in the last ten fifteen years even, but very little increase in refinery capacity. We've had actually no new refineries in the last 30 years, but we have more and more people coming in here. We just have very limited access to global imports.

Jose Cardenas:
I understand that in some activity in the Yuma area, to bring a refinery to that location, a new lawsuit was just filed yesterday? Today?

Linda Gorman:
Yesterday. A lawsuit was filed, and again, it's sort of disheartening that we just can't seem to get these issues out of the way, so that we can build these refineries so we can have access to more fuel. The problem also is just the exorbitant amount of resources that are needed to start up a refinery. We're talking about drilling fields, oilfields, heavy equipment. It's a very large undertaking; with something that the industry is not sure will pay off 20, 30 years from now.

Jose Cardenas:
The governor recently sent a letter a week ago asking for some at least transparency in how this is all conducted.

Linda Gorman:
She sent a letter to the department of energy asking for an investigation into why the refineries don't stagger their maintenance schedule a little more. And also you know why we see these increases this time of year. That is an important point, and there should definitely be transparency in the oil and gas industries. But what it really underscores is a symptom of the overgrowing problem, which is that we just don't have any new refineries. We have a huge population there, we have people moving into the state, and they're living on the outskirts of town, 20, 30, 40 miles from where they work. They're actually unknowingly contributing to the problem by consuming more gas.

Jose Cardenas:
We've got about 45 seconds left. First, is there going to be enough gas this summer? And second, what can people do to conserve gas?

Linda Gorman:
There will be enough gas for the summer. If there are any areas will see over three dollars a gallon, Arizona might be it for the reasons that I mentioned aside from California. People can conserve by purchasing just the regular grade, not the premium, and combining trips as possible, and really looking online to find the cheapest deals in the area that they live in.

Jose Cardenas:
Linda Gorman, thanks for joining us on "Horizon". To see video of other Horizon segments via the internet, please go to our website at azpbs.org and click on Horizon. You can also get transcripts and find out about up coming topics.

David Majure:
Allowing you to send your kid to the school of your choice, public or private, is debated on the ASU campus. Arizona lawmakers hold their first hearing on patient care problems at the state run nursing home for veterans. And what you should be doing to prepare for your retirement. It's all coming up Wednesday at 7 on "Horizon".

Jose Cardenas:
And that's Horizon for this Tuesday evening. I'm Jose Cardenas, thanks for sharing your evening with us.

Human Smuggling


  • Attorney General Terry Goddard joins us to discuss the breakup of one of the largest human smuggling operations in the state’s history.
Guests:
  • Harry Mitchell - U.S. Congressman
  • Terry Goddard - Arizona Attorney General
  • Linda Gorman - Public affairs manager, AAA Arizona
Category: Immigration

View Transcript
Jose Cardenas:
Tonight on Horizon, Arizona Congressman Harry Mitchell joins us to talk about the war in Iraq and providing quality health care for our nation's veterans. A yearlong investigation breaks up one of the largest human smuggling operations in Arizona history. Attorney General Goddard joins us with details, plus, we've all been watching gas prices rise. Will they continue or is there relief at the pump in sight? Those stories next on "Horizon."

Jose Cardenas:
Good evening, I'm Jose Cardenas; welcome to "Horizon." this week and next, the U.S. House Of Representatives is on recess, giving its members a chance to do work in their home states. Congressman Harry Mitchell is indeed back in Arizona, and he joins us tonight to talk about what he's been doing and working on in Washington. Congressman Mitchell, welcome back.

Harry Mitchell:
Thank you very much, glad to be here.

Jose Cardenas:
The war in Iraq of course dominates the news as it has for many months. Where do you stand on the position taken by many of your fellow democrats on a deadline for ending U.S. involvement there?

Harry Mitchell:
I've really been opposed to a deadline. I think that what we need to do is to work on this situation in a very bipartisan way. I think by doing that, we can come up with the best solution. But I think coming up with a specific date -- one of the things -- that's wrong. What we need to do is hold the Iraqis accountable. You know, it's -- we are more and more put into a position where we are spending our lives, our troops' lives and our money, in a situation that seems like the Iraqis have not taken ownership of their own country or their own situation, and that's what we need to do, and we need to do this in a bipartisan way.

Jose Cardenas:
Congressman, you oppose the deadline, yet you voted for the $124 billion spending package that includes an august 2008 deadline. How do you reconcile those positions?

Harry Mitchell:
I reconcile that because I believe very firmly we've got to support our troops. There's no way that we should not be able to support our troops with all the resources that we can, not only the troops in the field, but also with veterans' benefits. This measure is the only one I saw that did both of those. It provided necessary resources for troops in the field, as well as taking care of our veterans.

Jose Cardenas:
This may come at some political cost to you, this vote because the Republican Party and some conservative groups have announced that because of it they're going after you in 2008.What are you going to need to do to maintain your seat?

Harry Mitchell:
I was elected to congress to, I think, represent the people in this district and this state, and I'm going to do just that. There is no doubt in my mind that the republicans are going to come after me. I think that's just the political game that is played. I think, no matter how I would have voted, they would have been there. So I expected that and we're just going to do the job that I think I was sent there to do.

Jose Cardenas:
Further on Iraq, the senate majority leader Harry Reid has said that he intends to seek a cutoff of funding if the president does not go along with some kind of a timetable for withdrawal. What's your thought on that?

Harry Mitchell:
You know, the senate passed a bill as well as the House of Representatives, and there completely different bills, so now it has to go to a conference committee where a compromise will be worked out. This is where the president has a role to play. I hope the president and congress can come together with a compromise that we don't have to be at loggerheads. We can end this war in a way that's -- that we would like to, where we feel good about it, and at the same time put the Iraqis on notice that they have got to be -- they're in charge of this. They have got to be held accountable, and it just hasn't happened.

Jose Cardenas:
If a compromise is not reached, and if indeed senator Reid comes forward with a funding cutoff, doesn't that just hurt the troops?

Harry Mitchell:
Yes, but I don't believe that's the type of thing that's going to happen. I believe we should work in a bipartisan way to make sure that the Iraqis are held accountable, and at the same time we provide our troops with everything that is necessary. I would certainly work for that. I would not leave our troops at all in any situation where they would not have the resources necessary.

Jose Cardenas:
Talking about providing our troops with everything necessary, in the news recently has been the question of whether we're giving them adequate health care, both veterans from the Iraq war and from other wars. Walter Reed was the initial focus, but here closer to home we also have issues. Walter Reed, tell us what's going on there and what role you've played in trying to deal with those issues.

Jose Cardenas:
Well Walter Reed, you have to remember, is a medical facility under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense. It's an army hospital. But it doesn't take very long for those people in that facility to become veterans, and then they transfer over to the veteran's administration. As we looked at what was going on at Walter Reed, we then started looking at veterans facilities, and then found there were some problems in those veterans' facilities, as well. In the supplemental I might add, added over $550 million to take care of the backlog of repairs needed in veterans' facilities. But when we look at the need for veterans, it isn't just necessarily in healthcare; there are benefits that also are very important besides health benefits that we found that, as we've had some investigations, that many of these veterans are falling through the cracks. There is lost paperwork, they get tied up in beaurocracies. We've got to find a way, as people transition from the department of defense area into the veterans affairs area, that it's a seamless one, that these people do not have to fill out papers again that they've already filled out, and that their records are not lost, and that there's a sense of seamless transition. That's what we're finding are some of the biggest frustrations among veterans.

Jose Cardenas:
As you point out, there's also a distinction between the immediate medical care and long-term nursing home care. After the Walter Reed story broke, you toured, as I understand, the veteran's hospital here. Did you also tour, after the problems at the nursing care aspects of Walter Reed broke, the nursing home here run for veterans?

Harry Mitchell:
No, I didn't. The veteran's hospital is run by the veteran's affairs and the federal government. The nursing home is a state-run organization. When I first came, this was just a week ago maybe two weeks ago that I went to the veteran's hospital, and I did not tour the state-run nursing home. But what I did find at the Carl Hayden medical facility is a facility that people feel very good about; it's just that they're overwhelmed with the numbers. I think that they need more staffing and they need more space. 65 -- or half of the veterans who are served at the Carl Hayden medical center are over 65, and this is because -- one of the reasons, of course, we're in the sun belt, and there are all these retirees coming here. We have got to make room, not only for the veterans who have served in past wars, but we also need to be concerned with the current veterans coming out, and we're going to have lots of those from Iraq and Afghanistan. We're going to have to provide more resources.

Jose Cardenas:
Congressman any concerns about how the governor's office has handled the problems with the state veteran's hospital or nursing home?

Harry Mitchell:
Well I do know that the state legislature is looking into this, as an oversight hearings on this. It seems to me it might have been handled differently or better, but this is a state-run agency, it's a state facility, and we'll see what happens.

Jose Cardenas:
It is a state-run agency, but that didn't stop one of our state legislators from taking some shots at you for those problems. How do you respond to those criticisms?

Harry Mitchell:
Well coming from that particular legislator I expected that. Since it's state-run, and he heads up a committee that should be looking into that, I just don't understand how he can pass it off and say it's a federal responsibility, when it's a state-run facility, under the state jurisdiction, and responsibility of the state. So that's part of the politics, and part of what you mentioned earlier, that republicans may be trying to do.

Jose Cardenas:
Let me ask you about Pat Tillman. You had a determination by the pentagon that there was no criminal responsibility involved in the handling of the -- of his death. But you've asked for a probe, you've asked the house armed services committee to launch a probe. Why is that?

Harry Mitchell:
I think one of the most important things is, like in all controversies or issues, it's the cover-up that becomes the issue. I understand in times of war there are fatalities based on friendly fire. But it took 35 days from the day corporal Tillman died until he was finally -- the parents were finally notified of how he died. His family feels that there was a cover-up. Senator McCain feels there are some inconsistencies in the story. We don't know how high this has gone. We understand his death was friendly fire and an accident, but why was it covered up? We don't know that, and that's the purpose I believe of an investigation and the purpose for oversight hearings.

Jose Cardenas:
Congressman, last question. You had extensive experience here in Arizona as a mayor, as a state legislator and now you are a congressman, how do those two experiences compare?

Harry Mitchell:
They're all a little different, but there is some similarity of course in all of them. The difference between the federal government or congress and the state is the size. I'm on one committee that has 75 members. When you think of the whole state legislature as 90 members, I served in the democratic caucus in the senate where we had, in the eight years I was there, anywhere between 15 and 12 members. Now I'm in a caucus that has 233. Things are just different because of the size. But I think basically, legislation and legislating is the same. You just have to get used to some of the culture each institution brings with it.

Jose Cardenas:
Congressman Harry Mitchell thanks for joining us on "Horizon." good to have you back.

Harry Mitchell:
Thank you Jose.

Jose Cardenas:
The Arizona financial crimes task force recently found evidence that six travel agencies in the valley provided one-way airline tickets to more than 6800 undocumented immigrants since August of 2005. The tickets were for travel from McCarran international airport in Las Vegas. The value of those tickets, nearly $2 million. 16 defendants have been named. Joining me with details is Arizona Attorney General, Terry Goddard. Attorney General Goddard welcome back to "Horizon."

Terry Goddard:
Thank you.

Jose Cardenas:
We talked about a yearlong investigation by this task force. Who were the members of the task force?

Terry Goddard:
The principal members, besides the attorney generals office, the department of public safety and the phoenix police department. They conducted essentially an undercover operation where they tried to buy tickets, telling the agents at these travel agencies-- that they were coyotes, that they had a group of people that had just been smuggled into the country, and they needed the tickets from, in this case, from McCarran international airport in Las Vegas.

Jose Cardenas:
The travel agencies involved, there were six of them, where were they located in the Phoenix area I know but principally where?

Terry Goddard:
Well, principally in Phoenix. One was in Scottsdale and one had offices in both Phoenix and Mesa. So it was a valley wide problem, most of the actual physical locations were in the city of Phoenix. But they were small agencies largely, and the folks indicted in this sweep were owners and operators of these agencies, plus two individuals who were part of a safe house that were holding some of these individuals, pending getting their tickets.

Jose Cardenas:
And can you explain some of the other mechanics of how the operation worked?

Terry Goddard:
How the smuggling operation --

Jose Cardenas:
Yes.

Terry Goddard:
-- or the investigation? Well, people were brought into this country one way or another, and our investigation wasn't involved in that part of the process. But they arrived in Phoenix, were taken to a safe house or an intermediate location. The coyote, the chaperone went and bought tickets at one of these cooperating ticket agencies. They paid cash, bought them out of McCarran Airport. And in all of the instances we investigated, apparently because Sky Harbor has a higher level of investigation, in terms of whether or not you're in this country legally.

Jose Cardenas:
So people were being transported from Phoenix by land?

Terry Goddard:
People were put in a van and driven through Wickenburg up to Las Vegas and then put on the plane.

Jose Cardenas:
Did the airlines cooperate in any way in the investigation?

Terry Goddard:
The airlines were very important in the investigation. All of the major carriers were involved. They helped us with access to their records, as did their joint ticketing operation. So we had a good cooperation from the commercial carriers.

Jose Cardenas:
How did the problem first come to light?

Terry Goddard:
Well, it was part of an ongoing effort at the attorney general's office, in terms of money laundering. We have been for the past four years involved in investigating wire transfers from other parts of the country to Arizona, to pay for smuggling of human beings. Through that investigation, there have been a number of offshoots. This, frankly, was one of them. We found in several places where people were being arrested for large amounts of money being obtained through various wire transfer agencies, we found that they had lots of plane tickets, and travel itineraries from a relatively small number of travel agencies. So that led inexorable to checking out those travel agencies to see what level of complicity they had, and through the undercover buys. We found the complicity was very high. That they, in fact, knew who they were dealing with, that they were smuggling human beings, and they were willing to accept more than the face value of the ticket in order to sort of ease their conscience.

Jose Cardenas:
All of those indicated that something was going on here.

Terry Goddard:
Pretty strong, including one that was charging over twice the face value of the ticket to the alleged purchaser, to the police officer who was making the purchase.

Jose Cardenas:
And all cash transactions?

Terry Goddard:
All cash transactions. And another suspicious aspect was, all for an airport other than the one in Phoenix. Normally, when you're booking travel, you would assume that travel would initiate in the city where you're making the booking. In this case, none of them did.

Jose Cardenas:
We've identified or at least 16 people have been named as defendants. Who the principal defendants? Can you tell us that?

Terry Goddard:
I've got the principle travel agencies that were named, but the individuals were owners or principal operatives of those travel agencies that have been named.

Jose Cardenas:
What kind of a dent will this put in smuggling overall?

Terry Goddard:
I hope it's a strong message. I guess whenever you're looking at this kind of prosecution, that's got to be one of your motivations. This clearly is a huge market. It's something where even the 6800 since August of 2005 seems like a big number, 7,000 tickets. But based on the number of people we're sure are being transferred out of the Phoenix metropolitan area by coyotes, that's a fairly small number. But I know other travel agencies, if they were involved in even a fraction of this trade, are going to be much more careful. This is an ongoing investigation. We want to serve notice on the industry that we're going to be continuing to watch this kind of activity, and they'd better start policing themselves, and I think they will.

Jose Cardenas:
Do you think that you've got the principal agents that were involved?

Terry Goddard:
We've got the ones that were most involved the ones that we had best leads and I think we've gotten the most important ones. But I could not claim that we've gotten everybody involved in this trade.

Jose Cardenas:
Now, there have been some controversies about the proper scope and use of Arizona's human smuggling law. How does this fit into that?

Terry Goddard:
This is the reason -- August of 2005 is named in your introduction and in our investigation. That's when the antihuman smuggling, anti-coyote law went into effect in Arizona. It specifically says you are guilty of a felony if you facilitate for money, for a profit, the moving of somebody you know to be illegal in this country without proper documentation. So I believe these travel agents' operations clearly fall been the scope of that particular prohibition. Of course, also we've used that statute in terms of following up on many of the money laundering charges, when we found hundreds of thousands of dollars being moved by wire transfer to a particular individual for the purpose of paying for the transportation of human beings.

Jose Cardenas:
Presumably we'll be back to talk about that and other operations. But for now, Attorney General Terry Goddard, thanks for joining us on "Horizon".

Terry Goddard:
Thank you, sir.

Jose Cardenas: The price of gas has risen over the past month by more than 20 cents per gallon. Arizona drivers are paying more per gallon than the national average. But the prices across the state can vary widely. In a moment we'll talk about some of the factors that can drive up the cost of gas. First here's a comparison of some national, state, and local numbers for the cost of regular unleaded gas.

Merry Lucero:
Drivers here in Arizona and across the nation have been watching gas prices steadily rise. Arizona motorists are now paying more than three dollars a gallon for premium unleaded. Triple-A Arizona breaks down the average price for regular unleaded. The national average currently is $2.70, compared to $2.47 a month ago, and $2.58 a year ago at this time. Across Arizona, the average is $2.82 a gallon. It was $2.45 a month ago and $2.54 a year ago. In Phoenix the current average is $2.81 a gallon. Just a month ago in Phoenix, it was only $2.41 and $2.49 a year ago. Several different factors form the cost of each gallon of gas. The cost of crude oil makes up nearly 65\%. Taxes make up about 17\%. Refining and distribution are about 11\%, and the retail margin makes up 7.5\%. Gasoline inventories, refinery operations and production, and geopolitical concerns all affect gas prices at the pump. As we head into summer travel and hurricane season, drivers could feel the squeeze at the pump continue from current levels. To check on line for the cheapest gas prices in Arizona and across the nation, you can go to www.aaa.com/fuelfinder.

Jose Cardenas:
Here now with more on gas prices Linda Gorman public affairs manager for AAA Arizona. Linda let's talk about how we compare to other parts of the country. Who has the cheapest gas?

Linda Gorman:
Cheapest gas right now it's in South Carolina, followed by Georgia. We're really seeing the cheapest gas in the gulf coast areas. The most expensive, at least in the continental U.S., is California, followed closely by Washington. Oregon is also high up there, and so is Arizona.

Jose Cardenas:
If we were trying to determine within the state, where is the cheapest place to go, and the most expensive, what would the answer be?

Linda Gorman:
Cheapest is almost always Tucson, but most expensive is usually Scottsdale or Flagstaff but right now is Scottsdale.

Jose Cardenas:
Why would Tucson have the cheaper gas?

Linda Gorman:
Tucson has cheaper gas number one it's less expensive to lease land for stations there, and also they're not under the same requirements for clean air that we are here in the metropolitan area. It doesn't cost as much really to create their gas, to make their gas.

Jose Cardenas:
I know its springtime, but is there any connection between the summer blend traditional period that we go through, and the increase in prices at the pump?

Linda Gorman:
Yes there is, typically this time of year we do see an increase when refineries shut down we have our maintenance schedule and they're converting from winter to summer blends. Summer blends also cost more to produce, so there is that issue. Increases happened earlier this year, and the refinery industry has just been filled with a spate of problems, problem after problem, that has -- while not big issues in and of themselves, they just really underscore the fragility of the supply landscape here in the state.

Jose Cardenas:
And I take it one of the problems is we just don't have any refineries coming on line.

Linda Gorman:
Correct. We've had a huge population explosion in the last ten fifteen years even, but very little increase in refinery capacity. We've had actually no new refineries in the last 30 years, but we have more and more people coming in here. We just have very limited access to global imports.

Jose Cardenas:
I understand that in some activity in the Yuma area, to bring a refinery to that location, a new lawsuit was just filed yesterday? Today?

Linda Gorman:
Yesterday. A lawsuit was filed, and again, it's sort of disheartening that we just can't seem to get these issues out of the way, so that we can build these refineries so we can have access to more fuel. The problem also is just the exorbitant amount of resources that are needed to start up a refinery. We're talking about drilling fields, oilfields, heavy equipment. It's a very large undertaking; with something that the industry is not sure will pay off 20, 30 years from now.

Jose Cardenas:
The governor recently sent a letter a week ago asking for some at least transparency in how this is all conducted.

Linda Gorman:
She sent a letter to the department of energy asking for an investigation into why the refineries don't stagger their maintenance schedule a little more. And also you know why we see these increases this time of year. That is an important point, and there should definitely be transparency in the oil and gas industries. But what it really underscores is a symptom of the overgrowing problem, which is that we just don't have any new refineries. We have a huge population there, we have people moving into the state, and they're living on the outskirts of town, 20, 30, 40 miles from where they work. They're actually unknowingly contributing to the problem by consuming more gas.

Jose Cardenas:
We've got about 45 seconds left. First, is there going to be enough gas this summer? And second, what can people do to conserve gas?

Linda Gorman:
There will be enough gas for the summer. If there are any areas will see over three dollars a gallon, Arizona might be it for the reasons that I mentioned aside from California. People can conserve by purchasing just the regular grade, not the premium, and combining trips as possible, and really looking online to find the cheapest deals in the area that they live in.

Jose Cardenas:
Linda Gorman, thanks for joining us on "Horizon". To see video of other Horizon segments via the internet, please go to our website at azpbs.org and click on Horizon. You can also get transcripts and find out about up coming topics.

David Majure:
Allowing you to send your kid to the school of your choice, public or private, is debated on the ASU campus. Arizona lawmakers hold their first hearing on patient care problems at the state run nursing home for veterans. And what you should be doing to prepare for your retirement. It's all coming up Wednesday at 7 on "Horizon".

Jose Cardenas:
And that's Horizon for this Tuesday evening. I'm Jose Cardenas, thanks for sharing your evening with us.

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