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Vast Majority of TSA, CBP Employees Are Now in Compliance with Vaccine Mandate

By Steve Neavling

An increasing number of Border Patrol agents and TSA employees are getting vaccinated in compliance with President Biden’s executive order, according to updated data. 

As of Nov. 30, 96% of Homeland Security employees were in compliance. 

About 88% of employees are fully vaccinated, and 89% have received at least one dose. About 7% have “reasonable accommodation requests” and don’t have to get vaccinated, according to the data. 

“The health and safety of our workforce – and the American people that we serve – is of the utmost importance,” Homeland Security Deputy Secretary John Tien said in a statement. “Importantly, we have achieved this level of compliance without any interruption to the critical missions and services we provide the American people: from border and aviation security, to maritime search and rescue, to cybersecurity and the protection of critical infrastructure, just to name a few.  I am so grateful to our dedicated workforce, who have stepped up and done their part to get us there.”  

About 98% of CBP employees are in compliance, and 87% are vaccinated. An additional 11% are exempt. 

In the TSA, 93% are in compliance, with 86% vaccinated and 7% exempt. 

In November, some Republican lawmakers were calling for Border Patrol agents to be exempt from the executive order, saying national security is at stake. At the time, about 77% of agents were fully vaccinated.

Data by Homeland Security

TSA’s 2022 Calendar Featuring Its Adorable Dogs Is Available for Free Download

The TSA’s Hhilbert is named in honor of Army Corp. Thomas Layton Hilbert, who died in Iraq on Sept. 7, 2007.

By Steve Neavling

You can now download the TSA’s 2022 calendar for free.

The calendar features the agency’s dogs, which are used to screen passengers and luggage. Each month features a different dog, along with his or her name, breed, birthdate, airport and favorite treat and toy. 

In March, for example, is Hhibert, an adorable 10-year-old Labrador retriever from Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport. His favorite treat is Puppuccino. 

“He loves all toys, but especially loves a ball, which he will carry around like Linus did with his blanket in the Peanuts cartoons,” the description reads. 

Hhilbert is named in honor of Army Corp. Thomas Layton Hilbert, who died in Iraq on Sept. 7, 2007. 

On the cover is Alona, who was voted cutest TSA canine in August.

The TSA has more than 1,000 canines paired with handlers. 

About three years ago, the TSA began using more floppy-eared dogs to engage with people in airports. An internal TSA review found that pointy-eared dogs were sometimes scaring airline passengers, especially children.


Disgraced Former FBI Agent John Connolly Gets Full Pension After Prison Release

John Connolly

By Steve Neavling

Disgraced former FBI Agent Connolly has returned Massachusetts with a full pension. 

Connolly, 81, who was granted a medical release from prison, was eligible for a pension under the Hiss Act of 1954, which allows federal employees to keep their retirement benefits even if they are convicted of serious crimes, except for espionage and treason, The Boston Herald reports.

Mary Callahan, whose husband was killed by mobster James “Whitey” Bulger’s gang, couldn’t believe it. 

“Unbelievable,” Callahan told The Herald. 

“They’re always covering their asses,” she added Friday night. “I’ve called the FBI countless times trying to get my husband’s gold Rolex back and all his papers. They’re taking care of their own guy but I can’t afford a lawyer to fight them.”

Connolly was sentenced to 40 years behind bars for working with Bulger. 

His lawyer Peter Mullane said the former FBI agent has “two serious illnesses.”

“He has multiple melanomas and pretty bad diabetes,” Mullane. 

While working for the FBI’s Boston Field Office in the 1970s, Connolly recruited Bulger as an informant. Connolly was convicted of second-degree murder for participating in a plot to kill a Florida businessman in 1982 at the urging of Bulger, who was killed in a West Virginia prison in 2018. 


Border Patrol Agent Dies in Line of Duty

By Steve Neavling

A Border Patrol agent from the Tucson Sector has died in the line of duty. 

Supervisory Patrol Agent Martin Barrios died on Nov. 29, the agency announced Friday. 

“The entire USBP family mourns the loss of Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Martin Barrios,” U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz tweeted Friday. “Please keep his family, friends and colleagues in your thoughts.”

Details of Barrios’ death weren’t immediately clear. 

John R. Modlin, chief patrol agent of the Tucson Border Control Sector, added on Twitter, “Our thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones. We will always remember his service.”

Barrios joined Border Patrol in April 2013 after serving in the Navy.   

To honor Barrios, Arizona Governor Doug Duceuy ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff.


Weekend Series on Crime History: How the Mob Tried to Control Las Vegas


FBI Agent Nominated to Serve As Police Chief in Mississippi

By Steve Neavling

An FBI agent may soon serve as a police chief in Mississippi. 

Tupelo Mayor Todd Jordan nominated John Quaka to become police chief of the city of about 38,300 residents, The Associated Press reports.

Jordan plans to ask the city council to confirm the nomination.

“I believe John’s experience, training and legal background have prepared him for this leadership position,” Jordan said. “I feel confident that he will do an outstanding job.”

Quaka joined the FBI in 1995, when he served in the Los Angeles Division. He then worked out of the Greenville office and the Tupelo office. He now works in the Oxford office and has been a Tupelo residents for 20 years. 


Massachusetts Man Charged for Allegedly Pointing Loaded Gun at Border Patrol Agent

By Steve Neavling

A Massachusetts man accused of pointing a loaded handgun at a Border Patrol agent was indicted by a federal grand jury on three criminal counts. 

Ivan Carmona was charged with assaulting a Border Patrol agent with a deadly weapon and possessing a firearm after having sustained a prior felony conviction. 

Carmona remains in jail without bond. 

If convicted, he faces seven years to life in prison. 

The incident stems from a Nov. 18 pursuit that began in Vermont. Border Patrol agents and local and state police were pursuing Carmona for unrelated state charges when he allegedly brandished the firearm. 

“Ivan Carmona’s alleged actions threatening a federal law enforcement officer, combined with his criminal record, suggest he is a danger to the community,” James M. Ferguson, special agent in charge of the ATF Boston Field Division, said in a statement.  “It is a testament to both the bravery and professionalism of the U.S. Border Patrol agents that Ivan Carmona was arrested without anyone being harmed during his apprehension. This case is the successful outcome of a concerted, collaborative effort with our local, state, and federal partners to apprehend an individual charged with violent conduct by the state of Vermont. We are committed to intervening against armed individuals who threaten the safety of the citizens of Vermont.”

Orleans County Sheriff Jennifer L. Harlow added: “It has become extremely troubling that Orleans County has become a playground for violence. When individuals within our community, or those who travel to our community, are in possession of firearms, illegal drugs, or both, they pose a risk to public safety. These behaviors effect our entire community and all those within. We are so thankful for the wonderful partnership we have with ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for working so closely with our community to help protect us from these dangers.” 


Book Excerpt: A Cuban Inmate Uprising, the Salvation Army and Santa’s Helper

This is an excerpt from the book “FBI Case Files Michigan

By Greg Stejskal

This is a Christmas story, but it really began just before Thanksgiving in 1987, at the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta.

The Cuban inmates had rioted and had taken control of a sizeable portion of the penitentiary. The catalyst for the riots happened years before that in 1980.

The Mariel boatlift, a massive exodus of Cuban refugees from Cuba to the US, had among its refugees, convicted criminals. Fidel Castro had apparently thought the boatlift was an opportune time to decrease his prison over-crowding. Upon arrival in the US those Cubans who were determined to be criminals were detained and placed in US penitentiaries with no clear plan as to what to do with them in the long term.

This uncertain future led predictably to unrest and ultimately to the prison riots. When the inmates rioted and took control of part of the Atlanta Penitentiary, they also took some of the staff hostage.

The FBI was tasked with negotiating with the inmates and providing SWAT teams should it become necessary to retake control of the penitentiary by force and rescue the hostages. SWAT teams from many of the large offices were called to respond to Atlanta. Our Detroit team was one of those teams.

So, on a cold, rainy November night, an Air Force C-141, flying a circuit, landed at Detroit Metro Airport to pick up our team. Already on board were teams from Pittsburgh and Cleveland. We arrived in Atlanta early the next morning.

 The Atlanta Penitentiary is a foreboding place. It was built in phases beginning in the late 1800s, into the first few decades of the 1900s. It has 60-foot walls with watch towers on each corner. Upon our arrival we climbed to the top of one of the watch towers and looked down into the prison yard. It looked like a scene from a post-apocalyptic “Mad Max” movie. 

Inmates were walking around the yard, all carrying homemade weapons: long-knives, swords, etc., made from scrap metal and sharpened on some of the prison machine tools. After seeing that scene, we all assumed we were going to be in Atlanta for a while. We knew we would prevail if it came to having to use force. After all they had made the critical tactical mistake of bringing knives to a gun fight. But they had hostages and a large supply of non-perishable food in their control.

The next morning, I was walking to the Penitentiary administration building for the shift change briefing when I saw a tent where free coffee and Krispy Kreme donuts were being served. It was the Salvation Army tent. The Salvation Army was there every day of the insurrection including Thanksgiving serving coffee, donuts, smiles and kind words. I’ve been on a lot of SWAT operations, but I had never been offered coffee, donuts or kind words from the neighborhood in which we were operating. Knowing the Salvation Army was there for us, had me thinking that I owed this selfless organization a debt – a pay it forward kind of thing.

   The penitentiary insurrection was resolved peacefully after about two weeks. The key factor was that no social order was developed among the inmates just anarchy. They went through several months’ food supply in days. We all went back to our respective homes.

   I did not forget the Salvation Army’s generosity. I decided every holiday season for a few hours, I would volunteer to ring the bell and tend the red kettle in my hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

   Some years later, I was ringing the bell at a local supermarket with my wife. We had both donned our Santa hats and were wearing the Salvation Army issue red vests. It was snowing lightly; the Christmas lights were shining, and Christmas carols were playing on the stores PA system. We were at one door of the store greeting shoppers and collecting donations in our red kettle, when all of a sudden there was a commotion at the other door.

 A man ran out of the store. He was closely followed by two other men in white butcher smocks. The men in the smocks tackled the man in the parking lot. They were trying to hold him down, but he was struggling & screaming as they pulled several cuts of meat from under his coat. The erstwhile meat thief continued to yell, flail and kick.

I turned to my wife and said, “I should probably go help them.” I kept flex-cuffs (large heavy-duty zip-ties) in my car. I grabbed some flex-cuffs, walked over and knelt next to the struggling man.

He was facing away from me. In my “soothing,” authoritative voice, that I used for arrests and reading someone their rights, I told him, we could let him up, but he needed to let me put these cuffs on him. The man turned his head to look at me, and his eyes got very big.

I’m about 6’4” and weighed about 235 lbs. I had forgotten I was wearing a Santa hat and a big red vest. After staring at me for a few moments, he asked, “who are you?” I smiled and replied, “I’m Santa’s helper.” He immediately stopped fighting and struggling. He submissively allowed me to place the cuffs on him. The butchers and I stood him up, and he placidly waited for the police to arrive.

I have often thought there might be some profound Dickensian message to be derived from this incident. I don’t know if the meat thief was stealing prime rib for his family, sort of a protein version of Jean Valjean, or maybe he was planning to host a barbecue at a homeless enclave.

There is certainly some irony in collecting donations for the Salvation Army at one door of a grocery store, and at the same time, to have an economically disadvantaged meat thief fleeing from the other door. Maybe the message is as simple as, if you’re poor and hungry at Christmas time, there are places other than your local grocery store you can go that care, like the Salvation Army.