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Soldier on Border Drug Detail Vanishes

Search: National Guard officer was last seen in a motel parking lot.

July 14, 2001|H.G. REZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A California National Guard soldier assigned to a drug task force operating along the U.S.-Mexico border has been missing for two days, but officials said Friday that they have no reason to suspect foul play.

Warrant Officer Joyce Davis was last seen in a motel parking lot in Alpine on Wednesday. She failed to report for duty Thursday morning at Camp Morena, a little-known military base in San Diego County about 15 miles from the border.

The camp is used as a forward operations base by various military units involved in the Counterdrug Task Force, which interdicts smugglers transporting drugs through the rugged mountain canyons and trails of the area.

National Guard spokesman Maj. Stan Zezotarski said Davis, 36, a Sacramento resident, had been on the task force for one week. National Guard officials said she is married and has two children.

The task force is a combination of local, state, and federal law enforcement units working with teams from all branches of the U.S. armed forces to seize narcotics along the border.

San Diego County Sheriff's Det. Dan Pearce, who is assigned to the Alpine sheriff's substation, said the agency is investigating Davis' disappearance as a missing persons case for now.

Zezotarski said his agency is troubled by her disappearance. He noted that drug traffickers have issued threats in the past against soldiers assigned to the task force. Its members are also responsible for constructing a metal border fence from the Pacific Ocean east to Interstate 8 along the border.

Officials familiar with the case said Davis and two other soldiers met in Alpine on Wednesday about 5 p.m. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Davis declined an invitation from the soldiers to join them for dinner. That was the last time she was seen.

Instead, she said she was going to drive around the area and later agreed to meet them at Camp Morena on Thursday morning. Officials said that Davis telephoned one of the soldiers about 6 a.m. and again at 7 a.m. Thursday. According to one official, Davis said she had spent the night at a friend's house and was en route to the camp.

A check of her hotel room later showed that the bed had not been slept in and her bags were still in the room. A National Guard official said Davis' rental car is also missing.

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