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Archive for October, 2010

Oops! President Obama Offends DEA Agents in Drug War Comments

obamaBy Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama insulted — albeit inadvertently — the folks at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration today by mentioning the FBI instead of their agency in remarks about the war on drugs.

At a town hall meeting in Washington aired on MTV, the president told a group of young people that his administration is serious about “federal drug enforcement.”

But, he added, “we have to figure out who is it we’re going after because we’ve got limited resources. So decisions that are made by the Justice Department or FBI about prosecuting drug kingpins versus somebody with some small amount, those decisions are made based on how can we best enforce the laws that are on the books.”

Some DEA agents were insulted, saying the DEA is the lead agency on the war on drugs, not the FBI.

“That just goes to show his lack of knowledge,” said one DEA agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Again, it shows me his inadequate knowledge of drug law enforcement. He has no clue.”

To read more click here.

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Nation’s Biggest Drug Store Chain CVS Fined $77.6 Million For Selling Meth Ingredients to Criminals

cvs_logo2By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

CVS Pharmacy, the largest retail drug store chain in the nation, agreed to pay $77.6 million in fines for unlawfully selling pseudoephedrine to criminals who made methamphetamine, the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles announced today.

It’s the biggest civil penalty in the history of the Controlled Substances Act.

CVS’ troubles began in mid-2007, when Mexico banned the sale of pseudoephedrine.

Los Angeles County soon saw a spike in sales of cold and cough remedies that contained the ingredient used to make the often addictive methamphetamine street drug.

Criminals were turning to CVS to buy the products because the chain, unlike others, allowed customers to make repeated purchases that exceeded the federal daily and monthly limits. The criminals inundated stores in the Los Angeles area and Nevada, buying cough and cold remedies that contained the key ingredient, sometimes wiping out store shelves, authorities said.

They also noted that there were sales violations at CVS stores in more than 20 states.

To read more click here.

Arab-American Student Who Found FBI GPS on Car Wants Congressman to Find Out Why

Rep. Honda/official photo

Rep. Honda/official photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Arab- American student from California who recently found an FBI GPS on his car is asking his Congressman to help find out why he was being followed, Jeff Stein of Spy Talk reports.

Stein reports that student Yasir Afifi has turned to Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) for help.

Afifi’s attorney told SpyTalk she was drafting a letter to the Congressman to “put some pressure on the FBI to explain its practices.”

The attorney Zahar Billoo told Spy Talk the FBI was “wasting tax dollars” by tracking Afifi and “not pursuing serious suspects.”

The son of an Islamic-American community leader, Afifi found a GPS device on his car during an oil change and the FBI came knocking to get it back.

The whole thing started one recent Sunday when Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old American born business marketing student at Mission College in Santa Clara, Calif., discovered the device while getting an oil change at Ali’s Auto Care, WIRED reported.

The mechanic saw a mysterious wire near the right rear wheel and exhaust and removed it, WIRED reported. A friend of Ali’s then posted a photo the the GPS device online, according to an interview with Ali.

Two days later, WIRED reported, the FBI came for the device and Afifi turned it over.

Underwear Bomber to Appear in Fed Court in Detroit

Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marshals photo

Suspect Abdulmutallab/u.s. marshals photo

UPDATE,  Thurs. 2:30 p.m. — Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab made a brief appearance Thursday and said he was happy representing himself, and didn’t think it was necessary for the prosecutors to share evidence with his stand-by counsel, the Detroit News reported. The judge said she was overriding him on the sharing of evidence. A pretrial conference was set for Jan. 12.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Nigerian “Underwear Bomber” is scheduled to appear in court Thursday for a pretrial hearing — minus his defense team from the Federal Defenders Office that he fired.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab will represent himself but will have his standby counsel, Anthony Chambers, in case he needs legal advice. Chambers is a former federal defender who is in private practice.

Abdulmutallab indicated recently he might be willing to plead guilty to some charges. He was arrested after trying to blow up a Detroit bound plane on Christmas day with explosives in his underwear.

Update: 17 Firearms Found in Week at U.S. Airport Checkpoints

airport scanner 2By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — As part of an occasional snapshot of what’s happening at U.S. airports, here’s the latest:

Authorities found 17 firearms at airport checkpoints the week of Oct 4 to Oct. 10, according to the Transportation Security Administration, which runs the checkpoints.

Additionally, seven passengers during that week were arrested for suspicious behavior or fraudulent travel documents, TSA said.

The 17 figure is on the lower end. For instance, last Dec. 21-27, authorities found 37 firearms at airport checkpoints.

The Fed Court Trial in Bizarre Explosive-Collar Bank Robbery Case

James Myers to Head FBI Intelligence Division in Los Angeles

fbi logo largeBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON – James P. Myers is returning to Los Angeles — this time as a  FBI special agent in charge of the Intelligence Division and Field Intelligence Group for the L.A. office.

Myers, whose last post was as section chief of HUMINT operations (Human Intelligence)  and oversight section, started as an agent in 1987. He first worked in the Norfolk Field Office on a variety of crimes and as a SWAT team member, the FBI said.

In July 1993, he headed west to the Los Angeles office where he worked the Safe Streets Task Force (SSTF) squad, and he was named case agent for the Mexican Mafia prison gang.

In 1997, he was promoted to a supervisory special agent and worked gangs including the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), the FBI said.

In 1998, he was assigned as coordinator of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Task Force on violent crimes.

In 2003, he was promoted to intelligence program manager for the Los Angeles Field Office. In 2006, he was assigned to FBI Headquarters as the assistant director/operations chief of the MS-13 National Gang Task Force.

In July 2007, Myers returned to the Norfolk Field Office as assistant special agent in charge overseeing criminal, administrative, and intelligence programs.

In 2009, he was assigned as an inspector in charge at FBI Headquarters in March 2009.

Head of FBI Agents Association Says Agents Should Take Controversial Test Over; Also Wants to Have Input in Pick of Next FBI Director

Konrad Motyka/ticklethewire.com photo

Konrad Motyka/ticklethewire.com photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The head of the FBI’s Agents Association said Wednesday that he’d prefer to see all agents retake a controversial open-book test– and that no one be punished.

“Given the publicity, anyone taking the test the next time, there shouldn’t be any confusion as to the procedure,” Association President Konrad Motyka said in an interview Wednesday with ticklethewire.com.  He said the instructions for taking the first test were unclear for some.

The Justice Department’s Inspector General report recently found that a number of FBI agents cheated on the test that was on bureau policies for conducting surveillance on Americans called the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG).

The internal investigation, which focused on four FBI offices, found 22 people cheated, some of whom worked together or got the answers. The FBI is currently reviewing the matter, and is in fact considering having agents retake the test, much to the dismay of the many agents who did not cheat. The test is taken on a computer.

Motyka said of the cheating scandal potentially involves only a minuscule number of the 13,500 agents.

“I don’t think this is a commentary on the integrity of the FBI agents population in any way at all,” said Motyka, an FBI agent based in New York.

But he added: “Any time there’s negative publicity about the FBI, it’s harmful.”

Motyka, speaking in the D.C. law firm of Bracewell & Giuliani, which serves as general counsel for the association, also said the association hopes to have an input in the replacement for  Director Robert S. Mueller III, who finishes up his 10- year term next September.

While he declined to discuss names of potential successors, he said the Association would prefer a law enforcement person, but would not necessarily object to a judge or federal prosecutor. Mueller was a former prosecutor.

“We plan to make our point of view known,” he said.

Some of the names that have surfaced in the media include Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, John Pistol, the former number two FBI agent who now heads up the Transportation Security Administration, Frances Fragos Townsend, President Bush’s counterterrorism adviser and former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton.

Motyka said the Association also plans to press next year for a Merit System Protection Board right, which would allow agents to appeal disciplinary decisions to an independent board.  Currently, agents can appeal a disciplinary decision, but most must do through the FBI’s internal process.

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