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August 2011


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for August, 2011

Authorities Concerned Drug Smugglers Increasingly Turning to Tunnels

By Allan Lengel

In the past two weeks, law enforcement in Arizona has found two tunnels near the Mexican border, the Arizona Republic reported.

The paper reported that authorities are becoming increasingly concerned that that drug smugglers are turning more to tunnels as a way to smuggle drugs as the U.S. tightens things up at the border.

In Douglas, Az., law enforcement last week found a large hole in the floor of a house with mounds of dirt piled high in other rooms, the paper reported. The hole was the opening for a tunnel drug smugglers were digging from the U.S. to Mexico.

The paper reported that this summer the Border Patrol finished putting up new fencing in Nogales, a border town, so agents can see the other side. That has made it harder for smugglers to avoid detection.

“As smuggling organizations have more trouble moving their contraband both between the ports of entry and through the ports of entry due to increased technology and vigilance at the ports, then they will turn to more of these covert measures,” Vincent Picard, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Phoenix, told the paper.



New Acting ATF Director Todd Jones No Stranger to Fed Law Enforcement; Considered Pro ATF

U.S. Atty. Jones, new acting ATF Dir.

 By Allan Lengel

The new acting director of ATF, B. Todd Jones, is no stranger to federal law enforcement.

In fact Jones is on his second go around as U.S. Attorney in Minnesota.

Jones, who will remain the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota while serving as acting head of ATF, was first appointed to the U.S. Attorney job by President Clinton in 1998. He remained on the job until January 2001.  He was again nominated in 2009, this time by President Obama, and was confirmed in August of that year.

One ATF agent on Tuesday told that Jones has a reputation as being pro-ATF, an issue that’s of obvious concern to agents.

After leaving the U.S. Attorney post in 2001, Jones went on to work as a partner with a major national law firm in Minneapolis, Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi,, where he focused on complex business litigation. He represented a number of organizations and individuals in both criminal and civil regulatory matters.

President Obama nominated him in 2009 as the U.S. Attorney and he was confirmed by the Senate in August of that year.

After taking office, Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr. appointed Jones to serve as Chair of the Attorney General Advisory Committee (AGAC), a body that consists of 18 U. S. Attorneys. The committee is responsible for advising the Attorney General on a broad array of Department of Justice policy issues.

Jones earned his law degree from  the University of Minnesota Law School in 1983.  After being accepted by the Minnesota bar, he went on active duty in the United States Marine Corps, where he served as both a trial defense counsel and prosecutor in a number of courts martial proceedings.

In 1989, he and his family returned to Minnesota, where he developed a civil litigation practice encompassing a wide variety of legal matters, ranging from products liability defense and insurance coverage disputes to environmental and labor and employment controversies in both a private and public sector setting.

A  Sept. 19, 2009 story in the Minneapolis Tribune, reported that Jones, as a Marines Corps office, was recalled to active duty in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War, where he learned lesson on juggling multiple responsibilities of national security, law enforcement and justice.

“I learned the importance of focus, of working as a team,” he told the paper.

“Everything cannot be a priority,” he was quoted as saying. “Or nothing is a priority.”


ATF Agents See Director’s Departure as a “Fresh Start”


Ken Melson/atf photo

By Allan Lengel

Many ATF agents on Tuesday welcomed the news that acting Director Ken Melson was stepping down, saying his departure marked a step in the right direction in trying to revive a demoralized agency.

“I think everyone knew this was coming,” said one veteran ATF agent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “It’s a breath of fresh air.  It’s a fresh start. That’s the general sentiment.”

Melson’s departure seemed to break the paralysis that the department seemed to be in after  taking regular beatings in  the media and on Capitol Hill over “Operation Fast and Furious”, an ATF program out of Arizona that encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers or middlemen, all with the hopes of tracking the guns to the Mexican Cartels.

Melson was never going to become the permanent director. The White House nominee for the spot, Andrew  Traver, who heads up Chicago’s ATF, had problems getting confirmed. So Melson remaining in that spot only accentuated how problematic things had become and how politically weak ATF was.

On Capitol Hill, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.) led the charge, and began investigating the Fast and Furious program. Melson remained silent during most the controversy, which angered some within ATF. Melson eventually spoke to Congressional investigators and complained that the Justice Department had muzzled him and prevented him from even explaining to his troops what was going on with Fast and Furious.

Tuesday’s announcement gave hope to agents, including one who said morale was the lowest it had ever been — even lower than in the wake of Waco.

“There is cautious optimism,” said the agent. “We can move forward. ”

The agent said he had heard good things about the new acting director , B. Todd Jones, the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota.

“I’m hearing positive things about him,” he said. “He’s pro-ATF.”

The agent added that Melson stepping down was a good start, but “more needs to be done.”

Another agent called Melson’s departure “bitter-sweet”, saying “he’s a very personable individual, a good leader.”

“But I can only look forward,” the agent said.

Interestingly, Melson will return to the Justice Department where he once headed up the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices around the country. In recent times, during the Fast and Furious operation, he seemed to develop a distrust for the Justice Department, according to one source.

Melson will head over to Justice as a Senior Advisor to the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy (OLP) where he will specialize in forensic science policy issues at the Department of Justice


Fed Sting Involving Sneakers and Guns Nabs 60

 By Danny Fenster

There’s a sneaker and jersey store in Mansfield, Ohio that was dealing with much more than sneakers and jerseys. In fact, the feds were running the store and buying illegal guns and drugs from bad guys as part of a year-long sting operation that netted 60 arrests, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

The ATF worked with the office of U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Richland County Sheriff’s and prosecutor’s offices on the case, the paper reported.

“I have warned that the availability of guns was a serious issue for any urban center. It’s an issue that is playing out in our neighborhoods everyday,” said Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson.

ATF Director Melson and Az. U.S. Atty. Dennis Burke Stepping Down

                                                                                                                                Melson and Dennis Burke/atf file photo
By Allan Lengel
ATF acting Director Kenneth E. Melson, who took a lot of heat for the failed “Operation Fast and Furious” program, announced Tuesday he was stepping down  to become Senior Advisor to the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy (OLP) where he will specialize in forensic science policy issues at the Department of Justice.
The Justice Department announced that B. Todd Jones, the U.S. attorney in Minneapolis, will replace Melson as acting director, effective Wednesday. He will also remain U.S. Attorney in Minnesota.
At the same time, the Justice Department announced the resignation of  U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke, who oversaw the Phoenix Division during Operation Fast and Furious. His sudden resignation appeared to be part of the fallout from Fast and Furious.
Melson was at the helm during one the agency’s more turbulent periods, thanks to ATF’s “Operation Fast and Furious” , which 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 some of the guns. Some surfaced at crime scenes on both sides of the border.

“ATF employees are hard working and dedicated to the mission of protecting the public every day, and in my time here I have seen firsthand their extraordinary commitment to stopping violent crime,” said Melson in a statement announcing his resignagtion. “I will miss working with them, but know that my continued work at the Department will contribute in their pursuit and prosecution of violent criminals.”

On Dennis Burke’s resignation, U.S. Atty. Eric Holder Jr. stated;

“Under his leadership, the office has made great progress in its pursuit of justice with the creation of special units focusing on civil rights enforcement and rule of law, as well as more robust outreach to key communities, particularly in Indian Country. The office’s quick response to the devastating shootings in January that claimed the lives of several people and critically injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was crucial in arresting and charging the alleged shooter.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a critic of ATF who has been leading the probe into Operation Fast and Furious, issued a statement after Melson announced his resignation:

“While the reckless disregard for safety that took place in Operation Fast and Furious certainly merits changes within the Department of Justice, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee will continue its investigation to ensure that blame isn’t offloaded on just a few individuals for a matter that involved much higher levels of the Justice Department.

Rep. Issa/gov photo

“There are still many questions to be answered about what happened in Operation Fast and Furious and who else bears responsibility, but these changes are warranted and offer an opportunity for the Justice Department to explain the role other officials and offices played in the infamous efforts to allow weapons to flow to Mexican drug cartels.

” I also remain very concerned by Acting Director Melson’s statement that the Department of Justice is managing its response in a manner intended to protect its political appointees. Senator Grassley and I will continue to press the Department of Justice for answers in order to ensure that a reckless effort like Fast and Furious does not take place again.”

Tensions Grow Between FBI and Nigerian Law Enforcement

By Danny Fenster

Tensions seem to be heating up between African authorities and the FBI, reports Afrigque en ligne.

Nigerian police and the State Security Service say they feel sidelined by FBI agents’ investigation of the recent UN-building bombing in the nation’s capital Abuja. Though security and intelligence agents in Nigeria said they felt “embarrassed and ridiculed” by the bombing, they said the FBI were bound to find little “due to the unfamiliar terrain and peculiar Nigerian environment.”

“FBI operatives and other foreign experts have been taking part in investigations into the bombings in the country from the October 1, 2010 incident to the June 16, 2011 Force Headquarters blast. Yet, they have not been able to provide any useful lead that could help us to apprehend the masterminds,’ said a local paper.

The CIA Wants Cuts in Ex-FBI Agent’s Book That’s Critical of Spy Agency

New York Times

WASHINGTON — In what amounts to a fight over who gets to write the history of the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath, the Central Intelligence Agency is demanding extensive cuts from the memoir of a former F.B.I. agent who spent years near the center of the battle against Al Qaeda.

The agent, Ali H. Soufan, argues in the book that the C.I.A. missed a chance to derail the 2001 plot by withholding from the F.B.I. information about two future 9/11 hijackers living in San Diego, according to several people who have read the manuscript. And he gives a detailed, firsthand account of the C.I.A.’s move toward brutal treatment in its interrogations, saying the harsh methods used on the agency’s first important captive, Abu Zubaydah, were unnecessary and counterproductive.

Neither critique of the C.I.A. is new. In fact, some of the information that the agency argues is classified, according to two people who have seen the correspondence between the F.B.I. and C.I.A., has previously been disclosed in open Congressional hearings, the report of the national commission on 9/11 and even the 2007 memoir of George J. Tenet, the former C.I.A. director.

To read full story click here.

Inmate With FBI Wire Helps Bust Cellmate Who Wanted Prosecutor Killed

By Allan Lengel

With the help of a prisoner, who agreed to wear a wire, the FBI on Monday busted a 73-year-old man who wanted to have a Massachusetts prosecutor killed.

An affidavit by FBI agent Michael E. Dwyer said the FBI first received a letter from an inmate at the Worcester County House of Corrections on July 11, saying he wanted to speak to an FBI agent about an important matter.

Dwyer went to to the jail on July 28 and spoke to the inmate who said his former cellmate, Pernell Powell, wanted to have an Assistant District Attorney murdered, the affidavit said.  Powell was angry that the prosecutor recommended he serve four to six years for his fifth drunk driving offense.

The prison informant said Powell offered to pay $2,000 up front and another $2,000 after the job was done.

Earlier this month, the prison informant agreed to wear a wire and talk to Powell.

According to the affidavit, when the inmate asked Powell whether he was sure he wanted the prosecutor rubbed out,  Powell said:  “I want it. I mean what do you I put that money up for? I want his ass either way man”

The Telegram and Gazette reported that his next appearance is Sept. 6.

Read FBI Affidavit