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Archive for September, 2019

Border Apprehensions Sharply Decline in August. Officials Credit Beefed Up Enforcement

Border Patrol agent makes an arrest. Photo via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol saw a significant decline in apprehensions in August, a rare decrease for the month.

The number of undocumented migrants detained for trying to cross the U.S. border in August dropped 22% over July. The decline was even more significant in the San Diego sector, where apprehensions dropped 43% compared to July.

Last year, August apprehensions were higher than July’s.

“This is not due to a seasonal decline,” Chief Patrol Agent Douglas Harrison told reporters Thursday.

Harrison said the decline is likely due to more enforcement from partners, including the newly created Mexico National Guard.

“This is a welcome relief and an indication that our efforts and those of our partners are having significant positive effects,” Harrison said.

Andrew McCabe Failed to Convince DOJ Officials Not to Charge Him

Fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe faces the possibility of being charged for allegedly make false or misleading statements to internal investigators.

A top official in Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen’s office notified McCabe Thursday that his lawyers had failed to persuade Justice Department officials to drop the case, The Washington Post reports.

“The Department rejected your appeal of the United States Attorney’s Office’s decision in this matter,” the official wrote, according to one person familiar with the case. “Any further inquiries should be directed to the United States Attorney’s Office.”

It’s not clear yet whether McCabe, a 21-year FBI veteran and a target of President Trump’s ire, would be charged.

An inspector general’s report alleges McCabe lied on at least four occasions – three of which were under oath. After the IG’s report was issued, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe in March 2018, just before his retirement benefits would have kicked in.

McCabe took issue with the report, saying he never intended to mislead investigators.

A Key Federal Source in Jimmy Hoffa Caper Dies at 89

The writer, a Washington investigative journalist specializing in organized crime and political corruption investigations, is a Jimmy Hoffa murder specialist. He is the author of “The Hoffa Wars” (1978) and eight other books. 

By Dan Moldea

Featured_wells_37881
Don and Monica Wells, at their one-time horse farm in Wixom in 2009, which was dug up by the FBI during a 2006 search for Jimmy Hoffa. (Photo: Dan Moldea)

One of the most important federal sources of information about the Jimmy Hoffa murder case was Donovan Wells, who died Sept. 5  at age 89 outside of Detroit. Below is an excerpt of a story I wrote for the 40th anniversary of the Hoffa case in 2015, based partly on interviews with Don and his wife, Monica. I liked and respected him for turning his life around.

♦ ♦ ♦

FBI agents raided a Milford Township farm looking for Hoffa’s remains in May 2006, based on information from Donovan Wells, a former business partner of both Rolland McMaster and Stanton Barr. At the time, Wells was in a federal prison in Lexington, Kentucky. He and his family lived on McMaster’s farm the summer Hoffa disappeared.

The FBI’s search warrant for McMaster’s farm has never been released. But Wells told me in 2009 that he informed the FBI that a large hole had been dug on the north end of the property several weeks before Hoffa’s murder.

In addition, his wife Monica claimed that on the afternoon of Hoffa’s July 30, 1975 disappearance, she saw two or three dark cars speeding onto the property, roaring past the farmhouse on an adjacent dirt road, and heading towards the pre-dug hole.

But what had really piqued the FBI’s interest was what Wells had seen and heard the night before Hoffa’s murder. At a local restaurant, as Wells, McMaster, and Barr were having dinner, mobster and Teamster official Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano – in the flesh – suddenly appeared, slapped his hand on their table, and said: “It’s going to be a great day tomorrow! A great day tomorrow! Right, Mac?” And he slapped McMaster on the back.

Provenzano then asked McMaster to accompany him to the bar for a private conversation.

Featured_jimmy-hoffa-found-2013_23655
Jimmy Hoffa

While they were gone, Wells asked Barr what was going on. Barr replied that Provenzano and Hoffa were meeting the following day to settle their differences—and that Tony Giacalone was making the arrangements for the sitdown.

When Provenzano and McMaster returned to the table, Provenzano pointed to McMaster and Barr and asked, “Do you guys know where you’re going to be tomorrow?”

McMaster responded, “Yeah, we’re all straight on that.”

The FBI never unearthed Hoffa’s remains, or any evidence that he had been killed on McMaster’s farm, but Don Wells—who passed an FBI polygraph test—gave the bureauh important new information about Hoffa’s disappearance in 2006: Rolland McMaster and Tony Pro were together at a restaurant in Detroit on July 29, 1975, the night before Hoffa disappeared. Wells also heard a portion of their conversation which was clearly about Provenzano’s scheduled 2 p.m. meeting with Hoffa on July 30, as well as the need for McMaster and Barr to have established alibis for the afternoon when Hoffa was last seen.

The writer authored a story in July headlined Jimmy Hoffa Vanished 44 Years Ago. Here’s What I Think Happened.

CBP Seizes 28 Counterfeit NBA Rings at Los Angeles International Airport

Counterfeit NBA championship rights, via CBP.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

CBP seized 28 counterfeit NBA rings at Los Angeles International Airport.

The value of the rings, if genuine, is estimated at $560,000.

CBP officers found the rings in a wooden box while examining a shipment from China.

The rings included designs from 11 teams: The Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors.

“Scammers take advantage of collectors and pro-basketball fans desiring to obtain a piece of sports history”, Carlos C. Martel, CBP director of field operations in Los Angeles, said in a news release. “This seizure illustrates how CBP officers and import specialists protect not only trademarks, but most importantly, the American consumer.”

DEA Gets Serious about Studying Marijuana for Its Medical Values While Crack Down on Opioids

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The DEA is proposing to increase the amount of marijuana that can be legally grown for research by 30% in 2020, a promising sign for cannabis advocates who have long insisted the plant has healing properties.

Under the plans unveiled Wednesday, the DEA has called for 3.2 million grams of cannabis to be manufactured for scientific studies to determine the medical value of marijuana

“This will meet the need created by the increase in the amount of approved research involving marijuana,” DEA said in a press release. “Over the last two years, the total number of individuals registered by DEA to conduct research with marijuana, marijuana extracts, derivatives and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has increased by more than 40 percent, from 384 in January 2017 to 542 in January 2019.”

The DEA also is proposing to reduce the amount of Schedule II opioids that can be manufactured in the U.S. next year. The DEA wants to reduce the amount by 31 percent, hydrocodone by 19 percent, hydromorphone by 25 percent, oxycodone by nine percent and oxymorphone by 55 percent.

“The aggregate production quota set by DEA each calendar year ensures that patients have the medicines they need while also reducing excess production of controlled prescription drugs that can be diverted and misused,” Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon said in a statement. “DEA takes seriously its obligations to both protect the public from illicit drug trafficking and ensure adequate supplies to meet the legitimate needs of patients and researchers for these substances.”

For decades, marijuana has been illegal because it was listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which means researchers believe it has no medical value. More substantial research could change that.

Numerous states have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, despite a federal law making it illegal.

FBI Agents Association: We remember Agents and other First Responders Who Were Exposed to Toxins and Hazardous Materials at 9/11 Sites

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Brian O’Hare, president of the FBI Agents Association, issued a statement on Wednesday to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America. He particularly made note of the agents and first responders who were exposed to hazardous materials at 9/11 sites, and subsequently contracted diseases including cancer. Some have died.

The association has fought hard for years to make certain families of agents who died from 9/11 related diseases, get benefits. It hasn’t been an easy battle.

The following is O’Hare’s statement:

The FBI Agents Association marks with solemn reflection the 18th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by remembering all the victims and their families.

FBIAA honors the memory today of FBI Special Agent Leonard “Lenny” Hatton and retired FBI Special Agent John P. O’Neill, who on this day 18 years ago lost their lives at the World Trade Center.  Agent Hatton saw smoke and fire coming from the North Tower of the World Trade Center and rushed to the scene.  He reported critical information to the FBI and assisted emergency responders in leading people from the World Trade Center buildings to safety and lost his life when the Tower collapsed.  Mr. O’Neill, who retired from the FBI in August 2001 to become Chief of Security for the World Trade Center, had escaped from the North Tower but returned to help others.

We also remember FBI Special Agents and other first responders who were exposed to toxins and hazardous materials at 9/11 sites in the performance of their duty.  Sadly, these Agents and other first responders continue to fall ill from cancer from this exposure.  Approximately 10,000 emergency responders, recovery and cleanup workers at the 9/11 sites have been diagnosed with various forms of cancer according to the World Trade Center Health Program.

FBI Special Agents have died from 9/11-related illnesses and other agents and employees are suffering from illness resulting from their work at these sites.  FBIAA honors the memory of the sixteen fallen Agents:  Dennis Bonelli, Steven A. Carr, William R. Craig, Brian L. Crews, Laurie Fournier, Jerry D. Jobe, Laurie Johnson, Mark C. Johnston, David J. LeValley, Mark J. Mikulski, Melissa S. Morrow, Robert M. Roth, Gerard D. Senatore, Rex A. Stockham, Paul H. Wilson and Wesley J. Yoo.

FBIAA is ensuring that fallen Agents, Agents confronting 9/11 illnesses and their families are provided the support they need and deserve.  This support includes assistance and benefits from the U.S. Department of Labor, the Victims Compensation Fund (VCF) and other sources.  Fallen Agents from 9/11-related illnesses are now recognized on the FBI Wall of Honor for having given their lives while in performance of their duties, and FBIAA’s Memorial College Fund pays a majority of the college costs for the children of members who pass away while they are active duty Agents.

On this solemn day, we remember with gratitude the victims and their families, Agents and other first responders and their families, and all of the 9/11 heroes who served our fellow citizens with courage and compassion.

Relatives Claim Gangster John Dillinger Wasn’t Shot at Chicago Theater

Gangster John Dillinger, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Relatives of notorious American gangster John Dillinger believe they have evidence that their bank robbing uncle was not shot by the FBI at a theater in Chicago in 1934.

Now they want to exhume the body buried under the headstone at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis to determine whether it belongs to Dillinger. They plan to conduct DNA tests.

That plan hit a snag after Dillinger’s nephew, Mike Thompson, filed a suit to prevent the cemetery from interfering with plans to exhume the body. A court hearing is set for Oct. 1, but the state issued a permit that set a deadline for exhumation about two weeks earlier.

“Per the approved application, if the exhumation does occur, it must occur on Sept. 16,” an Indiana State Department of Health official told CNN.

Then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover declared Dillinger as “Public Enemy No. 1” after his gang killed at least 10 people, robbed banks and even staged three jailbreaks from 1933 to 1934.

Last month, the FBI disputed claims that the FBI killed another man who was not Dillinger.

“A wealth of information supports Dillinger’s demise including 3 sets of fingerprints, all positively matched,” the FBI tweeted.

Lawsuit Targets Ex-FBI Agent Who Runs an Anti-Muslim Consulting Group

Former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A former Minnesota sheriff has filed suit against an FBI agent turned anti-Muslim provocateur following an alleged assault at an annual sheriff’s conference in Reno in June 2017.

The lawsuit claims former FBI agent John Guandolo, founder and president of a counter-terrorism consulting services, assaulted then-Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek for expressing concerns about the company’s anti-Muslim propaganda. The company, Understanding the Threat, is characterized as an Islamophobic hate group in the lawsuit.

After hearing about the concerns, Guandolo is accused of assaulting the former sheriff, causing “great bodily injury,” the lawsuit states. Stanek received medical attention and “has not fully recovered,” according to the suit.

Two months after the alleged assault, a Hennepin County judge granted a restraining order against Guandolo, who retired from the FBI in 2008 and became a conservative, anti-Muslim propagandist.

Stanek once suggested former CIA Director John Brennan secretly converted to Islam and later accused a Muslim college professor of having ties to terrorism. Both claims have been debunked.

Prosecutors decided not to file criminal charges in the case, saying it was unclear who initiated the confrontation.

The lawsuit claims Guandolo’s company “markets as a counter-terrorism consulting firm to profit from instilling anti-Muslim bigotry in law enforcement agents.”