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Archive for October, 2016

U.S.-Canada Border Gets Little Attention But Remains Vulnerable to Illegal Crossings

Sign welcomes drivers coming from Canada to U.S. near British Columbia. Photo via Wikipedia.

Sign welcomes drivers coming from Canada to U.S. near British Columbia. Photo via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. border with Mexico has become a central issue in the presidential campaign.

But while the 2,000-mile border attracts more attention, the Northern border with Canada is 5,500 miles and is easier to cross illegally.

Without enough agents at the Northern border, officials said it’s difficult to say how much criminal activity actually occurs.

“The problem is that we don’t know what the threats and risk are because so much attention is given to the Southwest border,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., according to a report by the New York Times.

NYT wrote:

This area is a haven for smugglers and cross-border criminal organizations. Each year, Border Patrol agents catch hundreds of drug smugglers and human traffickers who use the sparsely populated and heavily wooded areas along the Vermont-Canada border to bypass the agents, cameras, sensors and other electronic devices that the Department of Homeland Security has installed to make up for the lack of personnel.

The expanse and remoteness of much of the Northern border, which includes Alaska, make the task of law enforcement daunting, said Norman M. Lague, who leads the Border Patrol station in Champlain, New York, one of the eight stations in the Swanton region that oversee border security operations in Vermont, upstate New York and New Hampshire. “We do the best that we can with the resources we have,” he said.

Officials worry that the lack of attention to the Northern border makes it vulnerable to terrorists and criminal enterprises.

FBI Used 15 Confidential Sources for Information on Armed Takeover of Oregon Wildlife Refuge

Burns, Oregon, where the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is located.

Burns, Oregon, where the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is located.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI used 15 confidential sources for information from their contacts with occupiers during the 41-day armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, according to a prosecutor in the case.

Now Ammon Bundy’s lawyer Marcus Mumford wants the court to force prosecutors to reveal the identities of the informants in the federal conspiracy trail against his client and six co-defendants, the Oregonian reports. 

“We’re being prosecuted based on the collective actions of others,” Mumford argued.

Two of the 15 defendants have been identified during trial as Terri Linnel, who was called as a defense witness, and Mark McConnel, who was driving with Ammon Bundy when he was arrested on Jan. 26.

U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown requested the government disclose to her the unreacted reports from the 15 informants.

The sources resulted in 129 reports, which the judge plans to review before determining whether to release the sources’ names and other information.

TSA Found 75 Guns, 3 Grenades, Numerous Knives in Carry-On Bags in 1 Week

Guns seized in the last week, via TSA.

Guns seized in the last week, via TSA.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The TSA made some frightening discoveries in carry-on bags at airports across the country last week.

Screeners found 75 firearms, 66 of which were loaded, bear repellent, numerous knives and there realistic replica grenades, the TSA reported. 

The TSA wrote:

In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly in carry-on bags, our officers also regularly find firearm components, realistic replica firearms, bb and pellet guns, airsoft guns, brass knuckles, ammunition, batons, stun guns, small pocketknives and many other prohibited items too numerous to note. 

When packed properly, ammunition can be transported in your checked baggage, but it is never permissible to pack ammo in your carry-on bag.

You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline.

Passengers face penalties of up to $11,000 for bringing prohibited items to airports in carry-on bags.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Director James Comey Wonders if Data Backs Narrative of ‘Biased Police’ Killing Blacks at DIsproportionate Rates

Director James Comey in San Diego

Director James Comey in San Diego

By Allan Lengel
ticklethetickle.com

SAN DIEGO — In these troubling times for police, FBI Director James Comey addressed thousands of law enforcement officials on Sunday, saying a lack of accurate data raises questions about the pervasive narrative that “biased police are killing black men at epidemic rates.”

“It is a narrative driven by video images of real and gut-wrenching misconduct, by images of possible misconduct, by images of perceived misconduct,” Comey told the crowd at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference at the San Diego Convention Center. “It’s a narrative given force by the awesome power of human empathy.”

Comey said Americans “have no idea if the number of black people or brown people or white people being shot by police is up, down or sideways over the last three years, five years, 10 years.”

He went on to say:

“We need to collect actual, accurate and complete information about policing in this country so that we have informed debates about things that matter enormously.”

He said leaders in law enforcement need to ask questions and understand the community and officers.

“I have heard from you that this is a uniquely difficult time in law enforcement,” he said.

To see the complete speech, click the video below.  To read the complete text click here.

Weekend Series on Crime: Anonymous, the Hackers

FBI to Create a National Database on Use of Force by Law Enforcement

police lightsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI tracks records on plenty of crimes, but it has not collected statistics on the number of times police use force when interacting with the public.

That is about to change under a pilot program early next year that will compile statistics and establish the first online database on fatal and nonfatal use-of-force among law enforcement, the Washington Post reports. 

“Accurate and comprehensive data on the use of force by law enforcement is essential to an informed and productive discussion about community-police relations,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a statement Thursday. “The initiatives we are announcing today are vital efforts toward increasing transparency and building trust between law enforcement and the communities we serve.”

But there’s one flaw: The Justice Department is barred from requiring state and local law enforcement to report nonfatal interactions with the public.

The pilot program comes amid high-profile police shootings of black people.

FBI Director James Comey said it’s “unacceptable” and “ridiculous” that there isn’t comprehensive data on law enforcement’s use of force.

Other Stories of Interest

Homeland Security Memo Says ICE Is Running Out of Money Because of Detention Surge

border fence photoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Is the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency running out of money because of a surge in the number of immigrants in detention?

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that ICE is on the verge of running out of money unless it receives $136 million to continue operating through Dec. 9.

But after the story was published, a DHS spokeswoman claimed the story was wrong.

Now the Wall Street Journal has a Homeland Security memo that appears to back up the earlier report that ICE is running out of money. The Journal reports today that a memo says, “ICE requests an additional $136 million for this account through Dec. 9, 2016,” and if the agency doesn’t get it, “our funds will run out on November 12.”

“Without the requested funding ICE will not fulfill its detention requirements… Insufficient funding would force ICE to reject any new book-ins, including these recent border crossers that fall within Priority 1 of the Secretary’s enforcement priorities,” the memo says.

Deputy Director of ICE, Daniel Ragsdale, called the memo a “draft which was never reviewed by ICE leadership,” adding, “this type of adjustment is common, and has been done in years past.”

DEA Shows Major Culture Shift in How It Handles Drug Bans After Kratom Reversal

Kratom pill, via Wikipedia.

Kratom pill, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA appears to be undergoing a major shift in how it handles the war on drugs.

After mounting public pressure, the DEA backed down on its pledge to ban Kratom, a south-east Asian plant that proponents say is an effective treatment for addiction to opioids.

“This is an unprecedented action. It’s never happened before,” said agency spokesman Russ Bayer, the Guardian reports. “We’ve never withdrawn a notice to temporarily schedule any substance but we want to move through this process in a transparent manner.” 

Bayer said the DEA is changing its approach to drugs under acting director Chuck Rosenberg.

“We have had kind of a cultural, organizational transformation during the past year,” Bayer said. “Our core mission has remained the same. It will always be to go after the biggest, most sophisticated, most violent drug traffickers and organizations responsible for the supply of drugs. But Mr Rosenberg has brought in an added emphasis, an increased awareness of some of the other functions that DEA needs to be engaged with. First and foremost community outreach, educating the public in terms of drug abuse, talking about addiction as being a disease.”