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Archive for June, 2011

Guns From Controversial ATF Gun Program Linked to Shooting of Mexican Military Helicopter, CBS reports


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Now comes another example of just how problematic ATF’s “Operation Fast and Furious” program has become.

CBS News reported that there is a link between the ATF program and a recent incident in which a Mexican military helicopter was fired upon by drug cartel suspects and forced to land.

CBS reported that authorities seized more than 70 assault rifles and other weapons from the suspects, some of which were purchased in the ATF sting.

The program, which has come under intense criticism, encouraged gun dealers in Arizona to sell to straw purchasers — all with the hopes of authorities tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels.

Unfortunately, some of the guns have been involved in crimes.

Estimated 1 in 4 Hackers are Informants

By Ed Pilkington
The London Guardian

NEW YORK — The underground world of computer hackers has been so thoroughly infiltrated in the US by the FBI and secret service that it is now riddled with paranoia and mistrust, with an estimated one in four hackers secretly informing on their peers.

A Guardian investigation today reveals how cyber policing units have had such success in forcing online criminals to co-operate with their investigations through the threat of long prison terms that they have managed to create an army of informants deep inside the hacking community.

In some cases, popular illegal forums used by cyber criminals as marketplaces for stolen identities and credit card numbers have been run by hacker turncoats acting as FBI moles. In others, undercover FBI agents posing as “carders” – hackers specialising in ID theft – have themselves taken over the management of crime forums, using the intelligence gathered to put dozens of people behind bars.

So ubiquitous has the FBI informant network become that Eric Corley, who publishes the hacker quarterly 2600, has estimated that 25% of hackers in the US may have been recruited by the federal authorities. “Owing to the harsh penalties involved and the relative inexperience with the law that many hackers have, they are rather susceptible to intimidation,” Corley told the Guardian.

To read the full story click here.

Man Convicted in Chicago of Conspiring to Kill Fed Prosecutor and DEA Agent

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former university research technologist was convicted Monday in Chicago of conspiring to kill a federal prosecutor and DEA agent, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The paper reported that it all began two years ago when Frank Caira told a friend that he wanted to make the prosecutor Shoshana Gillers and DEA agent Patrick Bagley, who were pushing his drug case, go away. From there, the plot began to develop.

The plot also included a plan to kill a dog belonging to attorney Jed Stone,who had represented Caira on charges of manufacturing drugs in his Downers Grove, Ill. home, the Tribune reported.

Authorities learned of the plot from a gang member, the Trib reported.

To read the full story click here.

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Snitching for the FBI Can Be Big Bucks

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Being an FBI informant can be big bucks — even if you’re not the most angelic individual.

In a murder trial in Douglas County, Nebraska, testimony surfaced that witness Jorge Palacios, a gang member, was paid more than $300,000 over five years from the FBI to help agents investigate drug trafficking, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

The paper reported that Palacios received those payments even though the FBI knew he was a suspected accomplice in an August 2004 shooting of a rival gang member in Los Angeles and that he had been accused — but never charged — in the rape of a 13-year-old girl.

To read more click here.

Sen. Judiciary Sets Hearing for Proposal to Extend FBI Dir. Mueller’s Tenure

Robert Mueller/file fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The wheels are starting to churn in the movement to extend FBI Director Robert S. Mueller’s stay for two years beyond his 10-year term.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday at 10 a.m. to address the issue.

After a search began to replace Mueller, the White House instead proposed to keep Mueller on the job.

Mueller has enjoyed bipartisan popularity on the Hill. Some Senators have proposed legislation tailored specifically to Mueller that would allow him to stay on for two more years beyond September, when he was set to step down. The bill is expected to pass.

Inside the FBI, there are mixed opinion as to whether he should stay on. Some have praised him for his leadership in in the post 9-11 era in what proved to be one of the more challenging tenures for any FBI director.

But some agents feel it was time for Mueller, 66, to go, and have been critical of his focus on certain crimes and intelligence issues at the expense of others. They also have long advocated for a former agent to take the job — Mueller is a former federal prosecutor — saying the agent would better understand their mindset and mission.

Mueller turns 67 in August.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Rep. Issa Says Will Have a Series of Hearings This Summer on ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious

DEA Task Force Cop and Attorney Indicted on Bribery Charges

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A California cop assigned to a DEA task force was indicted for taking a $2,500 bribe from a defense attorney, the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles announced Monday.

Rialto, Calif. Police Officer Aaron Scott Vigil, 41, of Highland, Calif., along with criminal defense attorney Lawrence Anthony Witsoe, 67, of Mission Viejo, Calif. were named in a three count federal bribery indictment unsealed Monday morning.

Authorities charged that attorney Witsoe told a client facing assault charges in Orange County Superior Court that for $2,500 he could get an assault charge dismissed by having a DEA agent tell the district attorney’s office and say he was a cooperative informant who helped in cases.

Vigil subsequently contacted the Orange County District Attorney’s Office on several occasions and explained that Witsoe’s client had provided reliable information regarding drug traffickers and that his cooperation led to the DEA seizing $110,000 in drug money, the indictment said.

The case was dismissed.

John Edwards Passed on Plea; Didn’t Want to Accept Months in Prison

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Two-time presidential candidate John Edwards didn’t want to be a jailbird.

The Raleigh News  & Observer reports that Edwards was willing to plead guilty to three misdemeanor campaign finance law violations, but not go to prison for up to six months as prosecutors wanted.

“Edwards and his lawyers were concerned. They wanted the ability to at least argue to a judge for alternatives, such as a halfway house, weekend releases, home arrest or some arrangement that would allow Edwards to be with his school-age children,” the paper reported. “He is a single parent after the death of his wife, Elizabeth, in December.”

Edwards, 57, was indicted Friday on charges that he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on campaign funds to cover up an extra-marital affair during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Edwards insists he never did anything intentionally wrong.

Then again,  he initially denied, and later admitted that he fathered a child with his mistress.

To read more click here.