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Tag: DEA

Are Drones the Drug Mules of the Future? DEA Says It’s Not Cost-Effective

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The recent discovery of a drone carrying methamphetamine near the U.S. border in Mexico has raised some eyebrows.

But the DEA said drones will not become tomorrow’s drug mules because they are not cost-effective, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“This method will only allow a small amount of drugs to be flown at a time, and that coupled with the ease of detection, does not make this method very profitable to these drug trafficking organizations whose motivation is money,” DEA spokeswoman Amy Roderick said.

It wasn’t immediately clear where the recent drone was heading, though one media report suggested the unmanned aircraft system was carrying drugs from one Tijuana neighborhood to another.

“While we would not call using drones a new trend in smuggling, we do know that drug trafficking organizations will use any and all means to get their drugs in the United States,” said Roderick.

The FBI and Drugs in the Beginning

Cocaine/ticklethewire.com file photo

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

Webster Bivens may have been a drug dealer, but his place in law enforcement history is not proportional to his status as an alleged dealer.

In the fall of 1965, Federal Bureau of Narcotics agents raided Bivens’ Brooklyn apartment. The FBN agents had neither an arrest warrant nor a search warrant. The agents arrested Bivens and handcuffed him in front of his family. They also allegedly threatened his family and in the terminology of Bivens’ later law suit searched his apartment from “stem to stern.” No drugs were found, and the charges filed after Bivens’ arrest were dismissed.

Bivens apparently had a litigious streak and brought a civil action against the “six unknown agents” of the FBN based on the violation of his rights under the 4th Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized.”

Up until that time, a cause of action could not be brought against the US or its agents except as specifically authorized under certain statutes, and that was the ruling of the lower courts in Bivens’ action. But the Bivens case made it to the US Supreme Court, and in 1971, the Court decided that the US could be sued if the acts of its agents violated the Constitutional rights of a person. This not only created a cause of action, it fostered a perception that federal drug agents were running amok and were incapable of doing more than simple “buy-bust” investigations.

As the Bivens case worked its way through the courts, the whole approach to the federal war on drugs was being evaluated. The FBN agents who arrested Bivens were part of the Department of the Treasury. Presumably because drugs like alcohol were viewed as taxable commodities even though the principal drugs being targeted at that time were heroin, cocaine and marijuana, and were illegal per se.

Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Was Created

In order to unify the federal effort against illegal drugs, one agency was created in 1968, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), and it would now be an investigative agency in the Department of Justice. Then in 1973 the BNDD was renamed the Drug Enforcement Administration, and it remained in the DOJ. Although the perception of drug agents out of control was mostly inaccurate, DEA did have limited resources and was under pressure to produce results in terms of arrests and drug seizures. This made it difficult to dedicate their limited resources to long-term investigations targeting the upper echelons of drug trafficking organizations.

In the meantime the FBI was learning to utilize tools provided by the Omnibus Crime Act of 1968. This lengthy act was intended to provide means for federal law enforcement to investigate organized crime. For the FBI that meant La Costa Nostra, the Mafia. One particular part of the act (Title III) prescribed the process to legally intercept wire, oral or electronic communications – electronic surveillance or elsur for short. It included telephone wiretaps and surreptitiously placed microphones or bugs – generally referred to as a “wire.”

The probable cause required to get judicial approval for elsur was by design a difficult standard to meet. The affidavit documenting this “special “ probable cause often ran well in excess of 100 pages. Among other things, there had to be a showing that other investigative techniques wouldn’t work. For example if a drug dealer would only deal with someone he has known for years, it would be very difficult to get him to deal with an undercover agent.

Once the affidavit & accompanying order are written, they have to be submitted to the Attorney General of the US or a specifically designated Assistant AG for approval. If they are approved, they then have to be authorized by a US District Court Judge in the district where the elsur is to be conducted. The elsurs are limited to 30 days, but can be renewed based on an updated affidavit.

Read more »

DEA’s #2 Person, Thomas Harrigan, Retires to Join the Private Sector

Thomas Harrigan/dea photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Thomas M. Harrigan, DEA’s number two person who was confirmed by the Senate as deputy administrator in March 2012, has retired from the agency to join the private sector.

Harrigan stepped down at the end of December.

Harrigan joined the DEA in 1987 and was first assigned to the New York Division.

Joseph Moses, a special agent and spokesman for DEA, said Wednesday that no replacement has been named as of yet.

Harrigan has joined CACI, a company based in Arlington, Va., that describes itself as providing “information solutions and services in support of national security missions and government transformation for Intelligence, Defense, and Federal Civilian customers.”

DEA Investigator Received Sexual Favors in Exchange for Bogus Offers of Reduced Sentences

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Federal methamphetamine cases against 11 people may be in limbo after a DEA investigator in Roanoke, Va., admitted he received sexual favors in exchange for bogus offers of reduced sentences, WDBJ 7 reports

Kevin Moore admitted the offenses two weeks ago, and now many of the cases have been delayed to determine how to proceed next.

Some of the defendants were awaiting sentencing, while ethers were headed to a jury trial next year.

So far, investigators said they don’t have any evidence that Moore mishandled the 11 cases.

Other Stories of Interest


DEA Program Manager Charged in Credit Card Fraud Involving $115,000; Prosecutors Allege She Took Out 33 DEA Credit Cards

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A DEA program manager from Maryland has been charged in a fraudulent scheme involving DEA credit cards.

She’s charged with using the cards to withdraw from ATM machines about $115,000 for her own use.

Keenya Meshell Banks, age 41, of Upper Marlboro, Md. is charged in a criminal complaint with access device fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. She made her initial appearance on Thursday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

According to a government affidavit, Banks worked as a DEA Program Manager in Northern Virginia, and was responsible for the approval and issuance of government credit cards to DEA employees, authorities said in a press release. The affidavit alleges that from June 2010 through October 2014, Banks fraudulently acquired 33 DEA credit cards.

According to the press release:

Specifically, Banks allegedly submitted applications that included the names and identifying information of individuals who did not work for DEA and therefore were not eligible to receive DEA government credit cards. On at least one occasion, Banks submitted an application that matched a current DEA employee. The employee never received the card and Banks allegedly used the personal information of the employee without the employee’s knowledge or approval. The credit cards were ordered by Banks via email, and the cards were sent to Banks via Federal Express or other mail, based on her certification on the applications.

The criminal complaint alleges that Banks used the cards at Automated Teller Machines in Maryland and Northern Virginia, withdrawing approximately $115,841.74 over the course of the scheme. No payment was ever made to the credit card issuer.

Is DEA Out of Touch When it Comes to Marijuana?

By  Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Is the DEA out of touch when it comes to classifying marijuana as a schedule 1 substance, the same as drugs like heroin and LSD?

Some might think so.

The website Government Executive has written a story entitled: “The DEA Still Thinks Marijuana is as Dangerous as Heroin.”

The website writes:

At the federal level, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies cannabis as a schedule 1 substance, the most dangerous class under the Controlled Substances Act, with “a high potential for abuse and potentially severe psychological and/or physical dependence.”

Many scientists say there is little basis to put marijuana in that category, and the DEA’s stance that marijuana has no medicinal use has been widely rebuked in recent years.

To read more click here.

3 Columbians Who Helped Kidnap, Murder FBI Agent sentenced to 20+ Years

James Terry Watson

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Three Columbian nationals who participated in the kidnapping and murder of DEA Special Agent James “Terry” Watson in Bogota, Columbia, on June 20, 2013, were sentenced to 20 to 27 years.

The defendants had previously entered guilty pleas to charges of conspiracy to kidnap and aiding and abetting the murder of an internationally protected person, the Latin American Herald Tribune .

Héctor Leonardo López, 34, Julio Estiven Gracia Ramírez, 32, and Andrés Álvaro Oviedo García, 22, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to kidnap and aiding and abetting the murder of an internationally protected person. Today, U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee of the Eastern District of Virginia sentenced López to 25 years, Gracia Ramírez to 27 years, and Oviedo García to 20 years.

The defendants admitted they lured victims, including Watson, into taxis, kidnapping and mugging them.

On June 20, Watson was attacked with a knife and stun gun while in the back of the cab. He managed to escape but died from his injuries.

“Throughout his law enforcement career, Special Agent Watson’s service was both selfless and courageous,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “With this action, we continue our work to hold accountable those who were responsible for his murder. In the weeks ahead, we expect to take additional steps to bring the perpetrators to justice. And in all that we do, our nation’s Department of Justice will continue to honor Special Agent Watson’s sacrifice, to safeguard the nation he served, and to protect the values and principles he defended all his life.”

 

Congress Is About to Block the Feds from Cracking Down on Medical Marijuana

By Tim Burger
Vice

WASHINGTON -- On the eve of the deadline to pass spending legislation that will avoid another government shutdown debacle, Congress appears poised to send a bill to President Obama that would ban the Department of Justice from meddling with state medical marijuana laws.

Tucked at the bottom of page 213 o​f the latest omnibus appropriations bill, a provision states that “[n]one of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used… to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana,” listing 32 states, as well as the District of Columbia, where the amendment would apply.

To read the full story click here.