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Archive for March, 2013

Border Patrol Reports Increase in Illegal Crossings Following Confluence of Problems

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol is bracing for more illegal crossings following a confluence of problems related to the budget sequestration and Obama administration policies, the Washington Free Beacon reports.

“It’s the perfect storm,” Stuart Harris, vice president of Local 1929 of the National Border Patrol Council in El Paso, Texas, told the Free Beacon.

The perfect storm – planned furloughs, the release of illegal immigrants and a renewed push for amnesty – could have a devastating impact along the border, experts said.

“It’s a giant catch and release program,” Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the nonpartisan Center for Immigration Studies, told the Washington Free Beacon. “Why go through the expense of applying for a visa, when you can get turned down?”

Border Patrol outposts are reporting an increase in illegal immigrants crossing the border.

FBI: ICE Agent Justified in Fatal Shooting of Colleague Who Turned Gun on Boss

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI has determined that an ICE agent did nothing wrong when he gunned down a fellow agent who had fired shots at a supervisor in February 2012, the L.A. Times reports.

Ezequiel Garcia fired six shots at Kevin Kozak, the Los Angeles field office’s second in command, during a meeting about Garcia’s job performance.

His colleague, who was not named, intervened by shooting and killing Garcia, the Times wrote.

Kozak was severely injured.

“The surviving agents were not culpable, and no criminal charges are being pursued,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller told the Times.

FBI Investigated Whether Wall Street Journal Reporters Bribed Chinese Officials for Information

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI’s investigation into News Corporation last year included an inquiry into claims that the Wall Street Journal’s China bureau bribed local officials for information, the New York Times reports.

It’s unclear what – if anything – the FBI found during the investigation, which originally began over a phone-hacking scandal in 2011.

The Wall Street Journal conducted its own probe over claims that employees in the China bureau were giving officials gifts in exchange for information, the Times wrote, citing the newspaper’s spokeswoman, Paula Keve.

“After a thorough review of our operations in China conducted by outside lawyers and auditors, we have not found any evidence of impropriety at Dow Jones,” Keve told the Times. “Nor has anyone taken issue with our findings.”

The FBI declined to comment or say whether agents were still investigating the bribery claims.

Former DEA Officials Stand to Profit from Their Opposition to Marijuana Decriminalization

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Two former top DEA officials who have been loudly urging the federal government to nullify marijuana decriminalization in Washington and Colorado stand to profit from making pot illegal, the U.S. News & World Report revealed.

The retired officials, Robert L. DuPont, former White House drug czar under Presidents Nixon and Ford, and Peter Bensinger, who was administrator of the DEA in the 1970s, run Bensinger, DuPont & Associates, which specializes in drug testing in the workplace, U.S. News wrote.

“These individuals still have financial and professional interests in ancillary businesses and endeavors that benefit from keeping marijuana illegal,” he says. “So there’s a lot of bluster to imply the sky is falling, while to the rest of the public this is no big deal.” Armentano cites a number of recent public opinion studies on pot, including a 2011 study from Gallup that found at least half of America today supports legalizing marijuana.

The men were among 10 former DEA officials to recently address the Senate Judiciary Committee over their opposition to the pot laws.

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FBI Surveillance Tool Ruled Unconstitutional

By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — A federal court in California has ruled that a surveillance tool widely used by the FBI to obtain information on Americans without court oversight is unconstitutional because the gag order that accompanies it violates the First Amendment.

The ruling by Judge Susan Illston of the Northern District of California would bar the issuance of national security letters — a form of administrative subpoena — on constitutional grounds.

The ruling on the 1986 statute has been stayed while the government weighs an appeal. NSLs allow the FBI to ask Internet companies and other electronic communication service providers to turn over subscriber information on American customers and to demand that the providers keep the fact of the letter secret — including from the target.

To read more click here.

 

Weekend Series on Crime: Prison Gangs

httpv://youtu.be/3AiiPmdZNzA

The Story of 2 Dead Costa Rica Cops, the Drug Cartels and America’s Insatiable Appetite for Drugs

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

As he left for work on a January day this year, Police Officer Carlos Perez said goodbye to his wife and young children at their home in Limon, Costa Rica.

As law enforcement officers and their families across the globe, they faced the unspoken reality that it could be the last time they would have together. This day this reality came true.

Officer Perez and his partner, Jesus Garro, were motorcycle cops in Limon, and their assignment on that day was to apprehend four burglars who had ransacked a house, tied up its owner, and stole his truck filled with much of his personal property. The officers did find the criminals, shots were fired, and the stolen truck veered into them while they were standing next to their cycles, killing them both instantly. One of the officers managed to shoot and kill one of the culprits before the truck crushed him and his partner.

Two of Officer Perez’s relatives, who live in the US, were in Limon visiting at the time of the murders. After they read my column last week about drug trafficking in Honduras, we talked several times about their search to understand his death and what effect drug trafficking was having on their idyllic little country. I am grateful for their sharing with me this discourse at a time of family grief.

Ross Parker

Their unspoken question was whether American consumer demand for cocaine had been a direct or an indirect cause of this tragedy.

The answer, as with so many imponderables in the war against drugs, is that we may never know if there was a direct relationship between the increased Mexican drug cartel activity in Costa Rica and the men who killed the officers. There does, however, appear to be a reasonable likelihood of an indirect connection.

For several years the cartels have increasingly used Costa Rica as a transit point and storage and trading center for cocaine coming from South America and destined for the US. They commonly hire local criminals to assist the operation. These recruits frequently come to use the drug and need sources of illegal cash to support their habits. Burglary is a worldwide method to raise money for drugs.

Life in Costa Rica is much different than that for most Hondurans. As reported earlier, Honduras suffers from all of the ancillary effects of the combination of poverty and drug trafficking, overflowing prisons, unchecked criminal violence, official corruption, unstable governments, and rampant street crime by criminal gangs.

In contrast Costa Rica has managed to avoid the chaos of bloody coups and government instability. In 1949 Costa Rica abolished its army and used the money to promote social improvement. For half a century it has increasingly become a peaceful liberal democracy with a high standard of living and a thriving tourist industry. In 2009 the New Economic Foundation ranked Costa Rica as first in the world on its Happy Planet Index.

This health and happiness assessment is apparent among the people of Costa Rica. They enjoy a long life expectancy, a better health care system in many respects than that of the US, and a high literacy rate. A common response among friends to the question “how are you?” is “Pure Vida” or good life.

The question is whether the drug cartels’ efforts to satisfy their American customers is going to mess up the Good Life in this easy going paradise.

The one area that the Central American neighbors of Honduras and Costa Rica have in common is the unfortunate geography, in this respect, of occupying territory from the Caribbean to the Pacific. Anything traveling by land from South America to Mexico must cross the territorial bridge of each country. Today 80% of the cocaine coming from South America passes through these countries.

The increasing use of the cocaine highway from Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, ultimately to the US, has meant that Mexican syndicates like the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel utilize both countries as trading centers. The effects on Honduras have been obvious and deadly.

The effect on Costa Rica has been more subtle but is equally troublesome to its citizens because of the peaceful equanimity they have enjoyed. But evidence of trafficking has become more and more apparent in the last two or three years. The lengthy coastlines and unguarded border crossings make drug enforcement a difficult challenge for the limited number of police in the country, only 11.000 officers with no military support. Even with recent increases the law enforcement budget for the country is less than most major US cities.

On the positive side the US, through DEA and the military, have established an effective partnership along with providing tens of millions of US dollars that have enabled Costa Rica to transform its law enforcement and criminal justice system with the help of  a$2 million satellite and radio communication station on the Pacific coast.

The Costa Rican government has responded to the challenge by taking an aggressive stand against drug activity and related crimes. Further proposals include new wiretap, extradition and forfeiture laws, as well as increased sentences and imprisonment statistics.

Some in the country fear that these efforts are negatively affecting the Good Life in Costa Rica. However, the power and resources of the cartels seem to have given the country few alternatives but to take this get-tough stance.

The President of Costa Rica has asked two things of the US:  Increase its support and cooperation for international drug enforcement, and step up its efforts to reduce consumption in the US. These appear to be reasonable requests.

The Perez children will grow up with the knowledge that their father was a hero who sacrificed his life to improve the lives of his countrymen. Like the families left behind by fallen American law enforcement officers, they deserve to know that their sacrifice came with the realization that a renewed commitment to drug enforcement both at home and abroad was in order in America.