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Archive for April, 2010

The James R. Hoffa Theory Revisted As Giant Stadium Braces for Wrecking Ball

James R. Hoffa

James R. Hoffa

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

One of the more improbable theories about Teamster James R. Hoffa — that he’s buried under the west end zone at Giant Stadium — is popping up one more time for old time sake as demolition teams get ready to knock down the stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Rumors of the Giant Stadium burial reached a feverish pitch after a self-described mob hit man Donald “Tony the Greek” Frankos mentioned it in a 1989 Playboy interview, according to the Associated Press.

But retired FBI agent Jim Kossler, who worked the case in the 1980s, said the agency had dismissed the possibility by the time the Playboy interview was printed, according to the Associated Press.

“What he was telling us couldn’t have happened because he either couldn’t have been there or he was in jail at the time,” Kossler said, according to AP.

AP reported that the FBI says it has no plans to oversee the demolition.

FBI Re-Examining Evidence in 1980s Colonial Parkway Slayings in Virginia

virginia-map1By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The FBI is trying to jump start a probe into the 1980s killing of as many as eight people in southeastern Virginia known as the Colonial Parkway murders, the Washington Post reports.

The Washington Post’s Maria Glod reports that the FBI is re-examining dozens of pieces of evidence, including hair, and is “putting fresh eyes on a list of about 130 suspects.”

The Post also reports the FBI is reviewing more than 3,500 reports from the case and has asked America’s Most Wanted to feature the unsolved mystery.

“We’re committed to the families,” FBI spokeswoman Vanessa Torres told the Post. “We don’t want to create false expectations. However, there is always hope.”

According to the Post, six people were slain and two others have been missing, but are presumed dead. The murders happened along “the Colonial Parkway, a scenic route that stretches from Yorktown to Jamestown” in Virginia.

To read more click here.

U.S. Changing Screening Policies of Passengers Aboard Inbound Intl. Flights

Airport crowdBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — In a world of Jihad Janes and underwear bombers, where it’s becoming more difficult to figure out who the enemy might be, the Obama administration is taking a different tact when screening passengers from inbound U.S. International flights.

The Washington Post reports the U.S. is “abandoning its policy of using nationality alone to determine which U.S.-bound international air travelers should be subject to additional screening and will instead select passengers based on possible matches to intelligence information, including physical descriptions or a particular travel pattern.”

The paper noted that after the Nigerian man tried to blow up his underwear on a Christmas day flight from Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight, the U.S. determined that passengers “from or traveling through 14 specified countries would be subjected to secondary searches.”

The new system will stop passengers who match up to “certain pieces of known intelligence”, the Post reported.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Does Recent DEA Enforcement in Afghanistan Signal Hope in Narco-Terrorism War?

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

In October, 2008 this column pointed out the growing link between international narcotics traffickers and terrorists, especially in Afghanistan. This was not news to federal law enforcement. Still, few politicians or members of the public were aware of this relationship.

Support for a well financed and coordinated international enforcement strategy, despite the best efforts of a few at DEA, seemed to be desperately lacking.

This dim political recognition came despite the alarming facts: The Taliban was expected to receive $70 million from the poppy harvest that year, and half of the terrorist organizations were financed — at least in part– by drug trafficking. The money was used to buy more sophisticated weapons and explosive devices and to train and equip more Taliban fighters.

In 2009 the Obama administration launched a bold strategy to attack narco-terrorism in Afghanistan. A multi-agency task force was established in Kabul to disrupt financial channels. The military targeted dozens of drug lords and began to participate in seizure and interdiction efforts.

And, importantly, the number of DEA personnel stationed in Afghanistan jumped from from 13 to almost 100. Add to that number the dozens of retired federal agents who were sent as contract civilian trainers to advise and assist the Afghan anti-narcotic program.

This ramping up of the anti-narcotic effort did not come without sacrifice. In October of 2009, three DEA agents who were returning from a firefight with Taliban drug traffickers in western Afghanistan were killed when their helicopter crashed. Seven military officers were also lost. The three DEA agents, Forrest Leamon, Chad Mitchell, and Michael Weston, had all volunteered as part of the expansion effort. They thought they could make a difference.

Now their sacrifice and the efforts by others appear to have made some difference. DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart announced this week in Kabul that more than 80 combined operations in 2009 had increased the drug seizures there by 924%. These efforts greatly decreased the amount of drugs exported from 2% of the total amount produced to perhaps over 10%, a significant achievement in one year.

Although this anti-narcotics surge has de-emphasized eradication, those efforts have nonetheless borne fruit as well. Eradication in the opium-rich southern region of Afghanistan has reduced cultivation by 30%. Narco-terrorists reacted to this success on Wednesday by detonating a bomb which killed 13 people who had gathered to receive free vegetable seeds as part of a British alternative crop program. Whether these re-education efforts will have the long term effect of helping to re-build the country’s agriculture, or will simply reduce supply enough to keep prices high, is up for debate.

The question, of course, is whether this new strategy represents the beginning of an awareness and commitment on the part of Congress and the Administration that support is needed on a global basis for the resources to enhance a well coordinated and financed enforcement strategy.

We spend billions each month on an uncertain military effort, not to mention the lives lost. So, a few additional million for an increase in law enforcement resources seems a worthwhile investment.

In a relatively small agency like DEA, if we don’t put up the funds and instead just shift resources and personnel, we’ll simply end up reducing enforcement elsewhere. Not smart.

The other issue is whether this growing awareness will make anti-narcotics enforcement a consistent priority both in this country and abroad.

One of the topics President Obama raised with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in their meeting in Kabul this week was the need for more effort against the narco-terrorists in that country. Whether it is even possible to motivate Karzai to get serious about the epidemic, which is destroying his country, given the involvement of so many corrupt Afghan officials, is yet another unanswered question.

Drug investigators and prosecutors have become accustomed to measuring victories through regular announcement of increases in seizures and arrests – all while the war is being lost by insatiable drug demand, inconsistent political commitment and inadequate resources.

Whether this latest development will mark another frustrating chapter may ultimately come down to whether the politicians and public truly understand the battle and the need for resources.

Does Recent DEA Enforcement in Afghanistan Signal Hope in Narco-Terrorism War?

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office. He is the author of the book “Carving Out the Rule of Law: The History of the United States Attorney’s Office in Eastern Michigan 1815–2008”.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

In October, 2008 this column pointed out the growing link between international narcotics traffickers and terrorists, especially in Afghanistan. This was not news to federal law enforcement. Still, few politicians or members of the public were aware of this relationship.

Support for a well financed and coordinated international enforcement strategy, despite the best efforts of a few at DEA, seemed to be desperately lacking.

This dim political recognition came despite the alarming facts: The Taliban was expected to receive $70 million from the poppy harvest that year, and half of the terrorist organizations were financed — at least in part– by drug trafficking. The money was used to buy more sophisticated weapons and explosive devices and to train and equip more Taliban fighters.

DEA Agent Forrest Leamon died in Afghanistan

DEA Agent Forrest Leamon died in Afghanistan

In 2009 the Obama administration launched a bold strategy to attack narco-terrorism in Afghanistan. A multi-agency task force was established in Kabul to disrupt financial channels. The military targeted dozens of drug lords and began to participate in seizure and interdiction efforts.

And, importantly, the number of DEA personnel stationed in Afghanistan jumped from from 13 to almost 100. Add to that number the dozens of retired federal agents who were sent as contract civilian trainers to advise and assist the Afghan anti-narcotic program.

Read more »

FBI Duped Militia Members to Get Them Away from Their Weapons

Christian Militia Hutaree patch/from website

Christian Militia Hutaree patch/from website

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI duped the members of the Christian militia in Michigan into going to what they thought was a memorial service at a warehouse in Ann Arbor  over the weekend, the head of the Detroit FBI told the Associated Press.

Andy Arena, special agent in charge of the Detroit FBI, said the ruse allowed agents to safely draw the Hutaree militia “away from their weapons” so they could be safely arrested, the AP reported.

Nine members have been charged with with seditious conspiracy and plotting to kill law enforcement officers.

After two days of hearings, U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald Scheer in Detroit is expected to rule on whether eight of the members should be detained pending trial. A judge in Indiana already ruled that the ninth defendant won’t be released.

Detroit U.S. Atty. Barbara McQuade Launches Media Leak Probe in Corruption Investigation

U.S. Attorney McQuade

U.S. Attorney McQuade

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade in Detroit announced Thursday that she’s launched an internal inquiry into “recent disclosures of information to the press regarding federal public corruption investigations.’

McQuade asked investigating agencies to conduct similar internal inquiries, according to a press release issued by her office.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI have been engaged in an ongoing probe into public corruption in city hall over the past few years. Targets include former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his father.

“Investigations are kept confidential for a number of important reasons, including protecting the integrity of the investigation, protecting the safety of witnesses, and protecting targets of investigation from public suspicion when no charges have been filed,” McQuade said in a statement. “We take our obligations to protect those interests seriously.”

She noted that if evidence was disclosed by a defendant in violation of a protective order, he would file a moiton for contempt of court.

“Although we can’t prevent witnesses from talking to the press, we will not tolerate leaks from the government or defendants in violation of protective orders,” McQuade said.

Homeland Chief Janet Napolitano to Head to Rhode Island to Assess Floods

Janet Napolitano

Janet Napolitano

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The head of the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will head off to Rhode Island on Friday to assess the devastating damage from the floods, the Associated Press reported.

The floods have been the worst the state has seen in 200 years.

“I hope that it will show Rhode Islanders, some of whom are feeling pretty beleaguered after a tough economy, a flood, a cleanup after the flood and then, bam, another one, that they are being heard in the highest levels of the Obama administration,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D) told the AP.