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Archive for September, 2019

Bryan A. Vorndran Named Special Agent in Charge of the New Orleans Field Office

Bryan A. Vorndran, special agent in charge of the New Orleans Field Office.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Bryan A. Vorndran has been named special agent in charge of the New Orleans Field Office.

Vorndran, who most recently served as a deputy assistant director in the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI headquarters in Washington D.C., became an FBI special agent in 2003. On his first assignment, he primarily investigated cocaine and heroin trafficking.

In 2008, he joined the International Contract Corruption Task Force in Afghanistan for five months before being promoted to supervisory special agent at the Counterterrorism Division at FBI headquarters. In 2012, he was promoted to unit chief.

In 2013, Vorndran began leading the Washington Field Office’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Three years later, he was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of the cyber and counterintelligence programs at the Baltimore Field Office.

In 2017, Vorndran was promoted to chief of the Strategic Operations Section of the Counterterrorism Division at Headquarters.

A year later, Vorndran was named a deputy assistant director of the Criminal Investigative Division, overseeing FBI programs focused on helping dismantle transnational criminal organizations involved in violent crimes that impacted the U.S.

Before joining the FBI, Vorndran was an engineer in the private sector. In 1998, he earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Lafayette College, and in 2012, he received a masters of business administration from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

FBI: Army Soldier Strategized Attacking Major News Network, Beto O’Rourke

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A U.S. Army soldier was arrested on allegations of planning to attack a major American news network, providing online instructions on building a bomb and strategizing an attack on Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke.

The 24-year-old soldier, Jarret William Smith, also expressed interest in joining a violent far-right paramilitary group in Ukraine and killing members of Antifa, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Smith, who was assigned to the First Infantry Division in Fort Riley, Kan., has been charged with distributing information related to explosives and weapons of mass destruction.

Smith faces up to 24 years in prison.

Before joining the Army, Smith expressed interest in fighting in the Ukraine with a far-right group, according charging documents.

“No former military experience, but if I cannot find a slot in Ulaaine [SIC] by October I’ll be going into the Akmy [SIC],” Smith is accused of writing on Facebook chat. “To fight is what I want to do. I’m willing to listen, learn, and train. But to work on Firerums [SIC] is fine by me too.”

After joining the Army, Smith returned to Facebook chat to say he “got knowledge of IEDs for days.”

“We can make cell phone IEDs in the style of the Afghans. I can teach you that.”

Homeland Security: White Supremacy Is a Leading Domestic Terrorism Threat

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Department of Homeland Security is beginning to combat white supremacy violence following the massacre in El Paso by a gunman motivated by his hatred of immigrants.

The department’s list of domestic terrorism threats now includes white supremacy, which has been on the rise since President Trump was elected.

The recent mass shootings “galvanized the Department of Homeland Security to expand its counterterrorism mission focus beyond terrorists operating aboard, to include those radicalized to violence within our borders by violent extremists of any ideology,” Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, said at a recent speech at the Brookings Institute.

“The continuing menace of racially based violent extremism, particularly white supremacist extremism, is an abhorrent affront to our nation, the struggle and unity of its diverse population, and the core values of both our society and our department,” McAleenan said during the speech.

DHS wrote up a 40-age document explaining its plan to collect data on white nationalist threats by working with local and state governments. The document also says DHS will combat propaganda on social media.

The El Paso massacre that killed 22 people at a Walmart “was an attack on all of us, on our family,” McAleenan told The Atlantic in an interview, noting that many Homeland Security employees are Hispanic.

FBI Offers $15,000 Reward After Fire Bombings of El Paso Catholic Churches That Served Hispanics

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI is offering a $15,000 reward for helping tracking down the arsonists responsible for setting fire to three Catholic Churches in El Paso that primarily serve Hispanics and migrants.

The first fire broke out May 7, when someone tossed an “incendiary device” at St. Matthew Catholic Church.

On May, another “incendiary device” was thrown at St. Patrick Cathedral. And on June 15, “an incendiary device” was into the San Judas Tadeo Catholic Church.

Authorities have yet to make any arrests.

No one was injured in the fires.

“We are counting on assistance from members of the community to keep our city safe,” the FBI said in a press release. “We are asking everyone to please remain vigilant for suspicious or unusual activity to include events and persons around you. To date, we have received numerous tips regarding this investigation and multiple law enforcement agencies are involved. Every lead will be thoroughly investigated. Regardless of how insignificant you think your information might be, we strongly encourage you to come forward and welcome your information and assistance. You do have the option to remain anonymous when providing assistance to this investigation.”

ATF Supervisor with Nazi Tattoo Is Accused of Discriminating Against Black Agent

ATF Agent Bradford Devlin with a Nazi-themed tattoo, via U.S. District Court.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

An African American ATF supervisor claims in a lawsuit that the agency discriminated against her after she launched complaints about another supervisor with a Nazi-themed tattoo.

A seven-day trial is set to begin Oct. 26.

Cheryl Bishop, a former bomb-dog handler, said the agency scuttled her appointment to a job at Washington D.C.’s headquarters after she blew the whistle on abusive behavior by Agent Bradford Devlin, The Seattle Times reports.

Now the senior supervisor in the ATF’s Seattle Field Division, Devlin denies being abusive and says he got the Nazi tattoo while working undercover investigating an outlaw white-supremacist biker gang in Ohio.

Although the agency offered to pay for the removal of the tattoo, Devlin has decided to keep it, calling it a “war trophy.”

Weekend Series on Crime History: A Big-time Mobster Talks About the Life

A Top Homeland Security Official Was Using Thousands of Tax Dollars on Personal Meals

Andrew Meehan

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Department of Homeland Security’s top spokesman, who plans to leave his post today, has been under investigation for spending large amount of tax dollars on personal dining expenses, the Washington Examiner has found.

Homeland Security acting Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Andrew Meehan announced last month that he was resigning, but his reasoning was never made public. Some senior administration officials suggested he was stepping down because of disagreements with the White House.

Turns out, Meehan federal authorities called for his termination after it was revealed he had spent thousands of dollars on meals. It’s not clear why he was allowed to stay in his position for nearly a month after announcing his resignation.

Homeland Security officials have declined to comment.

Border Patrol Agents Take Over Screening Migrant Families from Asylum Officers

Via CBP

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The fate of migrant families seeking protection in the U.S. will now be determined by Border Patrol agents, instead of the highly trained asylum officers who are highly trained in refugee laws.

Border Patrol agents, who will screen families for “credible fear” in the new pilot program, are beginning to get trained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, lawyers and several employees at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told Los Angeles Times.

The Trump administration has long advocated using law enforcement officers to interview asylum seekers to determine whether families have a “credible fear” persecution in their home countries. The idea is that Border Patrol agents are less likely to provide asylum to families.

“It’s creating significant strain for our clients — not just because they’re unprepared and untrained,” Shay Fluharty, an attorney with the Dilley Pro Bono Project, told The Times. “We understand that the intention is to significantly limit asylum officers who are conducting these interviews and have them be primarily conducted by Border Patrol.”