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Archive for September, 2019

Top Homeland Security Lawyer Fired in Latest Shake-Up

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Shake-ups continue at the Department of Homeland Security with Tuesday’s departure of John Mitnick, the agency’s general counsel.

The White House fired Mitnick, who oversaw 2,500 lawyers at the agency, The New York Times reports.

“We thank John for this service, and we wish him well,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement.

The firing comes about four months after the White House ousted numerous top Homeland Security officials, including the secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen and the acting deputy secretary, Claire Grady. A month later, L. Francis Cissna, the head of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, left the agency a month later.

It’s not immediately clear who will replace Mitnick. Among the possibilities are Joseph B. Maher, the department’s principal deputy general counsel, and Chad Mizelle, an associate counsel to the president.

Quick-Acting TSA Officer May Have Saved the Life of a Traveler in Alaska

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A TSA officer may have saved the life of a passenger who was choking on a grape at an Alaskan airport.

Juneau International Airport Lead Transportation Security Officer Brenda Irizarry sprung to action last week after she was alerted that a woman was choking on a grape, Juneau Empire reports.
Irizarry performed the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the fruit from the 26-year-old Brenda Studley’s throat.

“We are extremely thankful to the excellent training that Brenda has obviously received,” a family member wrote in an email.

The family was on their way to a wedding in California and didn’t miss their flight thanks to the TSA officer’s quick actions.

DEA Agent Who Protected Violent Puerto Rican Drug Cartel Pleads Guilty

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A former police officer accused of joining the DEA so he could protect a violent Puerto Rican drug cartel has pleaded guilty.

Fernando Gomez, who infiltrated the DEA and was working in the Chicago field office, was arrested in December and charged with racketeering conspiracy for his alleged decade-long affiliation with the Organizacion de Narcotraficantes Unidos. The gang, which imported vast shipments of cocaine into the U.S., was accused in the indictment of participating in at least eight drug-related killings in New York and Puerto Rico and smuggling thousands of kilograms of cocaine.

Gomez is accused of helping the gang beginning in 2006 when he was a detective with the city of Evanston.

Under a plea deal, the 42-year-old former U.S. Marine faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on Nov. 21 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, The Associated Press reports.

Steven M. D’Antuono Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Detroit Field Office

FBI Special Agent Steven M. D’Antuono.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Steven M. D’Antuono has been named special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office.

D’Antuono spent much of his 23-year career at the FBI tracking down white-collar crime and public corruption. That experience will become handy in an office that handles a lot of public corruption.

D’Antuono, who recently served as section chief in the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI headquarters in Washington D.C., joined the bureau as a forensic accountant in 1996. His first assignment was the Providence Resident Agency in Rhode Island, where he handled criminal investigations into financial crimes, public corruption, organized crime, drugs, and counterintelligence.

In 1998, D’Antuono served as a special agent assigned to the Washington Field Office, where he investigated white-collar crime and public corruption.

In 2004, D’Antuono began teaching white-collar crime while serving as the supervisory special agent at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. In 2008, he was transferred to the Washington Field Office to supervise a public corruption and government fraud squad.

In 2014, D’Antuono became an assistant special agent in charge at the St. Louis Field Office, overseeing the Criminal and Administrative branches.

D’Antuono was promoted in 2017 to chief of the Financial Crimes Section of the Criminal Investigative Division, where he oversaw all of the bureau’s white-collar crime programs, including corporate securities and commodities fraud, economic crimes, financial institution fraud, money laundering, health care fraud, intellectual property, and forensic accountant programs.

D’Antuono earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Rhode Island. Before joining the FBI, he was a certified public accountant.

Emmerson Buie Jr. Becomes First African American to Lead FBI’s Chicago Field Office

FBI Special Agent Emmerson Buie Jr. via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Emmerson Buie Jr. has become the first African American to serve as special agent in charge of the Chicago Field Office.

Buie, who most recently served as special agent in charge of the El Paso Office in Texas, joined the FBI in 1992, investigating criminal issues at the Colorado Springs Resident Agency of the Denver Field Office.

In 1999, Buie became supervisory special agent and worked in the Weapons of Mass Destruction Operations Unit in the Counterterrorism Division at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In 2002, Buie was promoted to senior supervisory resident agent at the Fairview Heights Resident Agency in Illinois.

In 2006, Buie was assigned to London, where he became the assistant and acting deputy legal attaché. He served as the primary contact for coordinating the FBI’s involvement in several international counterterrorism and anti-organized crime agencies.

In 2008, Buie was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of criminal matters and also handled national security and administrative issues in the Springfield Field Office. In addition, Buie was the office’s leadership development coordinator.

In 2014, Buie began serving as the Cyber Division’s senior liaison to the National Cybersecurity, Communication and Integration Center at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where he helped coordinate public and private sector investigations and intelligence-sharing efforts between the FBI, DHS, and other agencies.

In 2017, he was named special agent in charge of the El Paso Field Office.

Before joining the FBI, Buie spent four years in the U.S. Army as an infantry officer and served in Desert Storm. His actions earned him a Bronze Star, Combat Infantry badge, and multiple accommodations and awards. Buie received a bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University.

Border Patrol Agent Shot in Texas During Routine Traffic Stop

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent was shot during a routine traffic stop Friday night near the U.S.-Mexico Border in Texas.

The agent’s partner returned fire, killing the suspect at the scene, ABC News reports.

The two agents and a deputy with the Kinney County Sheriff’s Department had pulled over a car near Brackettville, Texas, when a passenger opened fire.

The agent was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

CBP did not identify the agents or the suspects by name, but said the gunman was a 25-year-old man. The driver was a 32-year-old woman. Both are U.S. citizens.

“The agents and sheriff’s deputy requested medical assistance and rendered first aid, however the passenger of the vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene,” CBP said in a statement Saturday. “The injured agent was taken to a local hospital for treatment of a non-life threatening gunshot wound, and later transported by AirFlight to a San Antonio hospital.”

Russian Spies Penetrated FBI Communications in Brazen Counterintelligence Operation

Russian leader Vladimir Putin

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Russia’s unprecedented campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election appeared to be the primary reason why the Obama administration forced out three dozen Russian diplomats from the U.S. at the end of his term.

But something more sinister was going on.

Russian spies were using two rural East Coast estates to carry out a brazen counterintelligence operation that targeted FBI communications, Yahoo News reports, citing former U.S. officials.

Russians managed to decrypt what was believed to be secure types of communications, enabling spies to tap into surveillance used by elite FBI teams. The FBI’s ability to track spies on U.S. soil was hampered, and the bureau and CIA even stopped contacting some of their Russian assets.

The counterintelligence operation was so successful that some U.S. officials feared a Russian mole had penetrated U.S. intelligence agencies.

“It was a very broad effort to try and penetrate our most sensitive operations,” a former senior CIA official said.

Despite the discovery, President Trump continues to brag about his good relationship with Russia and has never divulged the severity of the country’s counterintelligence just before he took office.

Weekend Series on Crime History: The FBI in the 1930s