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Archive for July 10th, 2015

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Detroit Mob and The Purple Gang

FBI Agent Who Stole Heroin Seized As Evidence Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison

fbi-badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An FBI agent who stole heroin seized as evidence to feed his addiction was sentenced to three years in federal prison Thursday, a much lighter sentence than prosecutors wanted, the Washington Post reports. 

Matthew Lowry’s theft of evidence prompted prosecutors to dismiss drug cases against 28 defendants.

Calling it the most difficult decision in his 32 years on the bench, U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan said he choose a lighter sentence because of Lowry’s addition. The sentencing guidelines had called for seven to nine years in prison.

“What we have here is a successful young agent with a sterling reputation who abused his position and abused his trust,” Hogan said.

He added, however, that because of Lowry’s actions, “major drug dealers were put back on the street to harm our citizens and endanger our children.”

FBI Director Comey: ISIS-Inspired Attacks Targeting Fourth of July Were Foiled

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal agents likely disrupted a terror attack on the Fourth of July weekend by making dozens of arrests in the last four weeks, FBI Director James Comey said Thursday.

“I do believe our work disrupted efforts to kill people, likely in connection with July 4,” Comey told reporters at FBI headquarters in Washington, NBC News reports. 

U.S. authorities were worried about an attack on the holiday weekend.

Comey said ISIS-inspired actions often don’t involve elaborate plots and usually are spontaneous acts.

“It’s actually hard to figure out when they’re trying to kill somebody,” Comey said. “And you cannot say, ‘Well, we’ve got to do it on the Fourth.’ Because you know you have people who are motivated to kill people, and they are unreliable in terms of when they’re going to act.”

Some of the arrests over the past four weeks would have targeted the holiday weekend, Comey said.

“We made the arrests to thwart what we thought they were up to,” he added. “Some of them were focused on the Fourth of July, and that’s as specific as I can get.”

Dallas Morning News: Time to Hold Border Patrol More Accountable

border patrol 3By Editorial Board
The Dallas Morning News

Thousands of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers face a difficult mission as they work daily to halt illegal immigration and drug smuggling on America’s southern frontier. But there’s no excuse for the dozens of suspicious shootings and other abuses in recent years by minimally accountable border officers.

A June 29 Homeland Security Advisory Council report calls for greater accountability by adding hundreds of internal affairs investigators to Customs and Border Protection’s 44,000-member law-enforcement staff. The report contrasts the agency’s extraordinarily high number of arrests with those of similarly sized urban police forces and concludes that the agency lacks adequate checks and balances against abuse.

It’s disconcerting that the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees U.S. Customs and Border Protection, parent agency of the Border Patrol, has waited so long to institute reforms, especially considering persistent reports of corruption and misconduct among border law enforcers.

An internal investigation identified 67 Border Patrol shooting incidents in which 19 civilians died — including an unarmed Mexican boy killed during a rock-throwing incident at the El Paso border bridge in 2010.

Other notorious cases involved a youth’s shooting death as he stood on the Mexican side of the border fence near Nogales, Ariz., and a 19-year-old American shot dead while climbing from the U.S. side of the fence into Mexico. An agent on a Border Patrol boat in the Rio Grande killed a 37-year-old man who had been picnicking with his family on the Mexican riverside near Laredo in 2012.

In 64 such cases, the agents involved were absolved. Three cases remain under investigation.

A big part of the problem is that the border zone exists in a legal gray area where neither country’s laws fully apply, especially if an agent’s bullet crosses the border to hit a target on the other side.

A 2003 Homeland Security reorganization added to the problem by reducing the number of internal affairs investigators to zero, the report says. Currently, there are only 218 internal affairs investigators for a Customs and Border Protection workforce of 60,000, more than two-thirds of whom are law enforcers.

The advisory council report calls for a net increase of 350 investigators to address corruption and misconduct allegations in a timely fashion. It also calls for revised use-of-force guidelines emphasizing agents’ “overarching responsibility” for preserving human life.

Other recommendations call for the use of body cameras, limiting agents’ use of firearms against individuals throwing nonlethal items, such as rocks, and for ending use of firearms in car-chase scenarios.

These are common-sense measures that most urban police forces already employ. Border enforcement is serious business, but not so serious that innocents and nonlethal offenders deserve to pay for tighter security with their lives.

To read more click here. 

Federal Judge: Mother of Mexican Teen Killed by Border Patrol Agent May Sue U.S.

Border PatrolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge has ruled that the mother of a Mexican teen killed in a cross-border shooting by a Border Patrol agent may sue the government, the Desert News reports.

U.S. District Court Judge Raner C. Collins denied the government’s motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the victim, a Mexican resident, was not protected by the U.S. Constitution.

In a similar case, a federal appeals court came to the opposite conclusion.

“The Court finds that, under the facts alleged in this case, the Mexican national may avail himself to the protections of the Fourth Amendment and that the agent may not assert qualified immunity,” Collins wrote.

Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz fatally shot 16-year-old Jose Antonino Elena Rodriguez for allegedly throwing rocks across the border .

Secret Service Prepares for Logistical Challenge of Protecting Pope Francis in U.S.

Pope francisBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It’s a complicated, logistical challenge for the Secret Service – protecting Pope Francis during his visit to the U.S.

What makes security more difficult is that the Pope loves to mingle with the crowds, ABC News reports. 

To prepare for Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to several major U.S. cities in late September, Secret Service officials, including Director Joseph Clancy, traveled to Italy in June to make the preparations.

“I went out to Rome to see firsthand how their detail works, protecting the pope and what he likes to do and how he travels within the crowds,” said Clancy in an interview with ABC News’ Senior Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas at the Secret Service Rowley Training Center.

Pope Francis is visiting Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia.

Stories of Other Interest