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June 2011


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for June, 2011

ATF’s Acting Chief Ken Melson Strongly Resisting Stepping Down

Ken Melson/atf photo

By Allan Lengel

Replacing Ken Melson, acting head of ATF, could get a little messy.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Melson is “strongly resisting pressure” to step down over the controversy surrounding ATF’s “Operation Fast and Furious”, a flawed program that encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers with the hopes of tracing them to the Mexican cartels.   ATF lost track of some weapons that showed up at crime scenes.

The paper reported that  Melson is eager to testify to Congress about the extent of his and other officials’ involvement in the operation.

The LA Times said Melson doesn’t  want to be “the fall guy” for the program

“He is saying he won’t go,” one source told the paper.  “He has told them, ‘I’m not going to be the fall guy on this.’ ”

A second source told the paper: “He’s resisting. He does not want to go.”

Andrew Traver, head of the Chicago ATF, has been nominated by the White House to become the head of ATF. But his nomination has been stalled in the Senate because of fierce opposition from the NRA, which insists he’s too anti-gun rights.

Traver met Tuesday with Attorney Gen. Eric Holder. Reports predicted that Melson would be pressured to step down and Traver would become acting director pending the outcome of the confirmation process.


Congressional Probe into Controversial ATF Gun Program Heads to Mexico

By Allan Lengel

The bad publicity for ATF and its “Operation Fast and Furious” program continues to flow.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a congressional investigation, headed by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is moving Friday to Mexico to probe further into the problematic operation. The Mexican government is said to be livid over the program.

The paper reported the investigation moves south in wake of a new report that two AK-47s sold in Arizona as part of the sting operation were found at the scene of a shootout with the suspected killers of a well-known Mexican attorney.

Operation Fast and Furious has caused a stir inside the Beltway. Some politicians have called for the head of ATF to step down.

The operation in question encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of many of the guns, some which ended up being used in crimes.

The LA Times reported that the Congressional delegation hopes to draw the Mexican government further into the investigation.

To read more click here.

More Details Emerge in Mobster Whitey Bulger Arrest: Bulger Had Plenty Weapons and a “Very Substantial Amount of Cash”

By Allan Lengel

More details began to emerge in the Wednesday night capture of Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger in Santa Monica, Calif., including the fact the apartment  he was living in with his girlfriend had a variety of guns and a “very substantial amount of cash.”

Richard DesLauriers, head of the Boston FBI, said at a press conference broadcast on MSNBC’s website, that a tip was generated directly from a media blitz this week that focused on Bulger’s girlfriend. The blitz included public service announcements on tv in 14 cities where Bulger, 81, who had been on the lam for 16 years, and his girlfriend, 60, were thought to have ties.

Bulger is accused of killing 19 people and there was a $2 million reward that was offered for information leading to his capture.

DesLauriers said just after 8 p.m. on Tuesday, California time, a tip came into the Los Angeles FBI office. The office passed it on to the Boston FBI command post, which analyzed the tip and found it to be “credible and promising.”  The Boston office then directed the FBI fugitive task force in LA to conduct a surveillance in Santa Monica.

Just after 4 p.m. on Wednesday, the FBI task force began conducting a surveillance on an apartment where agents suspected Bulger and his girlfriend Catherine Elizabeth Greig lived. They were going by the aliases Charles and Carol Gasko.

At 5:45 p.m., agents, using a ruse, lured Bulger out of the home and arrested him without incident.  Agents then went into the home and arrested the girlfriend Catherine Elizabeth Greig, DesLauriers. The Boston Globe reported that Bulger had stashed away hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in the apartment along with more than 20 firearms.

U.S. Atty. Ortez speaks at press conference/doj photo

DesLauriers said the FBI never gave up.  He said the bureau followed up every lead and tip and when the leads ran out, agents didn’t just sit back and wait for the phone to ring.

“Although there were those who have doubted our resolve at times over the years, it has never wavered,” he said.

He said the tip came in a result of  a media blitz which focused on the girlfriend, Greig.  Authorities did not say specifically whether the tip that came in identified her or Bulger or both.

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Ethiopian Man Arrested is Linked to Rash of Shootings at Military Buildings in Northern Va.

FBI Started Following Portland Bomb Suspect When He Was a Juvenile, Defense Says

Mohamed Mohamud

By Allan Lengel

More details are emerging in the case involving a 19-year- youth who was caught up in an FBI sting which involved him plotting to detonate a bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony last year in Portland, Ore.

The Oregonian newspaper reports that the defense team for suspect Mohamed Mohamud stated in court papers filed on Wednesday that the FBI began building a case against their client in early as 2008 when he was a juvenile — 16 or 17 years of age — and claimed the agency violated his privacy rights.

The paper reported that the filing stated that the FBI started by “physically and electronically” surveilling him. The paper reported it was unclear why.

It said by Oct. 4, 2009, FBI agents were trailing Mohamud at Oregon State University and secretly collecting evidence against him. At one point, he was suspected of date rape, but was exonerated, the attorneys wrote, according to the Oregonian.

The paper wrote that  Mohamud had signed over his computer and a cellphone to local police to help establish his innocence in the rape case.  The police then turned around and shared the info with the FBI agents.

“Another unique aspect of the intrusions of privacy in this case is the parallel involvement of the federal government, which surreptitiously participated in the interrogations, searches, and seizures conducted by state and local authorities,” wrote defense lawyers Stephen R. Sady and Steven T. Wax.

To read more click here.

Arrest of Mobster “Whitey” Bulger Creates 2nd Opening on FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List

By Allan Lengel

For the second time in the less than two months, the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List has another opening.

In May,  the U.S. gunned down Top Ten fugitive Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

Then on Wednesday evening, after a 16-year search, FBI agents in Santa Monica, Calif., arrested Top Ten fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger, a notorious Boston mobster who is accused of killing 19 people. His girlfriend was also arrested.

Filling the Top Ten vacancies is a process.

The FBI solicits from its field offices a candidate.

Often, dozens of recommendations come in to headquarters. Field offices submit packets with information about the case, including a case file, photos and reasons why the person is worthy of joining the list. Some submissions include endorsements from local police chiefs.

The Violent Crimes/Major Offenders Unit also solicits input from the media representatives at headquarters.

The candidates for the list are reviewed by a committee of agents from the Violent Crimes/Major Offenders unit, who carefully look over the submissions and case files.

Then higher ups at headquarters decide who makes the list. The FBI director ultimately signs off on it.

FBI Captures Boston Mobster “Whitey” Bulger in Los Angeles Area After 16-Year Hunt

Boston Mobster Whitey Bulger

By Allan Lengel

After a relentless search, the FBI in Los Angles on Wednesday evening captured fugitive Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger in Santa Monica along with his girlfriend as a result of a tip from a public service announcement that began airing this week,  law enforcement authorities said.

The  search that spanned the world capped a 16-year hunt for Bulger who had been on the lam since 1995. He was charged with 19 murders.

The capture in the Los Angeles area came after the FBI this week launched a campaign with billboards and TV ads focusing on Bulger’s girlfriend Catherine Elizabeth Greig, who was wanted for harboring a fugitive. The Boston Globe reported that the tip came as a result of the latest campaign.

The campaign included a 30-second, FBI- produced public service announcement (PSA) that began airing around the country.

The Associated Press reported early Thursday morning that the two were arrested without incident at a Santa Monica home after the FBI had been conducting a surveillance operation in the area.

FBI on its twitter page announced: “FBI Agents in Santa Monica, CA have captured Boston Fugitive James J. “Whitey” Bulger and his girlfriend Catherine Greig.”

Bulger, 81, was on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list.

Both are scheduled to make an initial appearance in federal court in California on Thursday.

Bulger was an FBI informant and reportedly got away with crimes while working with the bureau. The Boston FBI had formed a task force to hunt Bulger.

DEA Task Force Cop Admits Tipping Motorcyle Gang Member About FBI Wiretap

By Allan Lengel

DETROIT — A DEA task force cop pleaded guilty Tuesday in Detroit federal court to leaking information about an FBI wiretap to the president of a local chapter of a motorcycle gang.

Randall Hutchinson, a former Hamtramck, Mi., police officer, on the DEA task force, admitted leaking the info to the former Downriver Chapter President of the Highwaymen Motorcycle Club during an FBI probe into that organization in 2005 and 2006, U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

“Disclosing a wiretap investigation not only violates the law, it also betrays an officer’s duty to the mission of seeking justice,” U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade said in a statement. “We have no tolerance for that sort of betrayal.“

During the fall of 2005, while working as DEA task force officer, Hutchinson learned that the FBI was conducting a wiretap investigation that involved a large scale marijuana dealer who was a member of the Highwaymen Motorcycle Club, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Authorities said a short time later Hutchinson saw Phil McDonald, the Downriver Chapter President of the Highwaymen, in a gym they both worked out at.

Authorities alleged that Hutchinson told McDonald about the FBI’s investigation into the marijuana dealer within the Highwaymen and told McDonald that he had to be careful.

On June 19, 2006, Hutchinson and McDonald met again in the gym and Hutchinson stated that he had “been thinking” and that McDonald needed to see if his “phone was hot,” authorities said.

Hutchinson then concocted a plan to figure out if the FBI was tapping the phone, authorities said.