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May 2012


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Archive for May, 2012

‘Madman’ Daniel Elizondo Arrested in Case of Mexican Massacre

The logo of the Los Zetas Cartel/baltimore city paper

Shoshanna Utchenik

Mexican authorities have arrested a high ranking member of the Zeta drug cartel in connection with the massacre of 49 people whose dismembered bodies were recently found dumped on the highway between Monterrey and Reynosa, near the entrance to San Juan.

Reuters reports that Daniel Elizondo, the leader of the Zetas drug cartel known as “The Madman,” has been detained.

Elizondo headed the Zetas trafficking operations in Cadereyta, an industrial town near the spot where the bodies were dumped, an army spokesman told Reuters.

Though Mexico’s drug war has raged intensely since President Felipe Calderon launched a national offensive against the cartels in 2006, this massacre is among the worst atrocities,  Reuters reports. Since Calderon took office, around 55,000 have died in drug related violence in Mexico. Another 5,000 have disappeared.

Officials are using  DNA to try and ID the victims in the absence of their heads, hands, and feet. A week later, they have yet to identify any of them. It is possible they were migrant workers passing through the area, adding to the difficulty of tracing their roots.

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Hondurans Protest DEA Presence After 4 Killed in Drug Trafficking Incident

Shoshanna Utchenik

Protesters in Honduras’ Miskito Coast have burned down government offices and demanded that U.S. drug agents leave the area, following antidrug operations that killed four innocent people May 11, including two pregnant women, reports the AP.

The DEA supported the raid on the Patuca River in northeastern Honduras last week, when along with Honduran national police, they rode four helicopters tracking the landing of a plane carrying 1,000 lbs of cocaine from South America. The police say they were shooting at drug traffickers who fired first from a boat in the river, which appeared to be receiving the large load of drugs. Both agencies say Honduran police were the ones firing, not the DEA agents.

Lucio Vaquedano, the mayor of the coastal town of Ahuas, corroborated other reports insisting that the four victims were killed while diving for lobster and shellfish and were not involved with drug trafficking.

Congressman Howard Berman (D. CA) said Thursday that if such reports prove true, the U.S. should review this part of its assistance to Honduras, says the AP.

“I have consistently expressed deep concerns regarding the danger of pouring U.S. security assistance into a situation where Honduran security forces are involved in serious human rights violations,” said Berman. “The problems are getting worse, not better, making such a review all the more urgent.”

Honduras National Police Chief Ricardo Ramirez del Cid stated that his officers have a policy of not attacking when the plane lands, because drugs are unloaded by a flurry of locals who are not drug traffickers. “They’re just local residents who do the work because they get paid,” he said.

Honduran President Porfirio Lobo confirmed this is a serious problem, reports the AP, “The community turns out en masse to defend the drug traffickers because of their situation, living in structural poverty.”

The State Department says 79% of all flights smuggling cocaine from South America make their first stop in Honduras. A military spokesperson says the Honduran Military Intelligence is investigating the incident.

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First Deaf FBI Agent to Work as Undercover Lip-Reader Inspires Students

Shoshanna Utchenik

Any teens might be wowed by a former FBI agent, but the Mountain Lakes High and Briarcliff Middle School students who heard ex agent Sue Thomas speak in NJ this week weren’t ‘any’ students… they are hearing impaired just like her, reports New Jersey’s Daily Record.

That common challenge made Thomas’ story of special interest when she shared it with students Friday morning. She also inspired guests as key-note speaker for the Lake Drive Foundation’s For the Babies Gala benefitting the Lake Drive Sound Start program, on Thursday night.

The Daily Record recalls that Thomas was first hired by the FBI as a fingerprint examiner and became the first deaf person to work as an undercover investigator lip-reading suspects for the FBI. She wrote an autobiography called “Silent Night,” which inspired the TV show “F.B.Eye.”

Said Thomas, “Our kids have extraordinary lives ahead of them whether they speak or use sign language.

Whatever they do to communicate, the world is open to them.”

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Poor Secret Service; Rep. Barney Frank Won’t Invite the Prez Because of the Agents

Rep. Barney Frank

By Allan Lengel

Poor Secret Service.

Maligned after the Colombia hooker scandal.

And now this.

Rep. Barney Frank doesn’t want them at his wedding in July when he marries partner Jim Ready.

The New York Times reports that he wanted to invite the President, but he didn’t want the Secret Service there.

“If he and Michelle wanted to come, I would be delighted and honored to have him, but he will bring the Secret Service,” Frank said in an interview taped Friday for the C-Span program “Newsmakers.”

“We’re having this in the city I live in, in Newton, Massachusetts, on a Saturday afternoon. I don’t want to be accused of having shut down the entire region for a five-mile radius on a holiday weekend. I don’t want my guests going through a magnetometer. I would be flattered to have the president do that, but it would ruin the party to have the Secret Service. I’m not critical of them, but they can go take their layered protection of the president somewhere else. Not to my party.”

Questions Remain in Oklahoma Bombing: Book Excerpts from Oklahoma City: What The Investigation Missed — and Why It Still Matters

Perhaps no lead in the Oklahoma City bombing investigation was left hanging more glaringly than the radical community in eastern Oklahoma known as Elohim City.

It played host to some of dangerous radical criminals of the time, and there are multiple indications from law enforcement sources McVeigh himself either spent time there or met its residents nearby.

The ATF, through its undercover informant Carol Howe, knew that people at Elohim City were talking about waging war against the government and had made specific reference to blowing up federal buildings.

The failure to follow up on this intelligence speaks to a lot of the systemic problems that beset federal law enforcement not only in the lead-up to the bombing, but also in the lead-up to 9/11 — warnings signs that were missed, individual agents whose investigative instincts were ignored, and agencies more interested in protecting their own turf than in talking to one another.

Andrew Gumbel, co-author of Oklahoma City: What The Investigation Missed — And Why It Still Matters, talked to almost all the major players involved in the Elohim City fiasco, and he and his co-author, Roger G. Charles, gained access to all the government files that have been made available to date.

The characters in this extract include Dennis Mahon, a Ku Klu Klan leader from Tulsa, Oklahoma who first took Carol Howe into Elohim City; Bob Ricks, the FBI special agent in charge in Oklahoma at the time; Robert Millar, Elohim City’s spiritual leader; and Lester Martz, the head of the ATF’s Dallas field division, with responsibility for Oklahoma.

Excerpted from OKLAHOMA CITY, reprinted with permission from William Morrow

Copyright © 2012 by Andrew Gumbel & Roger C. Charles

The ATF made many excuses for failing to follow up on the leads Carol Howe had established at Elohim City. One was that Howe had been a nightmare from start to finish and her information unusable—an argument undermined by the reliability of much of what she reported back. Another was that they were ordered by Bob Ricks to back off.

That, too, appears to be untrue. John Magaw, the ATF director at the time, said the decision to stop almost certainly came from within his agency, before Ricks had a chance to express an opinion.

“I wanted to make sure that before we conducted any more raids of those kinds of places, we were properly retrained, had the right equipment, did really good intelligence, and had done very good practicing and planning,” Magaw explained in a 2010 interview. “We weren’t ready at that time.”

Magaw could not remember exactly how the decision was made, but Lester Martz most likely brought the problem to him, and he and his assistant director for operations supported Martz’s inclination to close Howe down. Remarkably, Magaw also acknowledged that the decision might have cost the federal government an opportunity to prevent the bombing.

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