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Archive for March, 2020

Weekend Series on Crime: The Texas-Mexican Mafia

CBP Seizes Fake Coronavirus Testing Kits at Chicago Airport

Fake coronavirus testing kits seized by CBP. Photo via CBP.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

CBP officers intercepted a package of fake coronavirus testing kits at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, the agency announced Thursday.

The packages, which came from the U.K, were found at the airport’s mail facility and included prohibited medical drug kits, concluding ones for COVID-19.

“On March 17, 2020, CBP officers intercepted shipments containing ‘Test Kits’ for various viruses and diseases to include COVID-19,” the agency said in a news release. “Not all the COVID-19 test kits were in each parcel, and there was generally just one COVID-19 test kit within groups of other alleged test kits for meningitis, IVF, MRSA, onion, apple, salmonella and others.”

Authorities turned over the packages to the FDA.

“The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) prohibits the introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce, or the causing thereof, of any food, drug, device, tobacco product, or cosmetic that is adulterated or misbranded,” the news release stated.

Number of TSA Screeners with Coronavirus Reaches 12, As Hundreds Opt to Stay Home

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The number of TSA screeners who have tested positive for the coronavirus has reached 12, the agency has confirmed.

The screeners work in airports in New York, Ohio, New Jersey, California, Florida and Georgia.

Another TSA employee who is not a screener and had limited contact with the public also tested for the coronavirus.

An undisclosed number of the those screeners’ coworkers will be quarantined for 14 days, the TSA said.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents nearly 50,000 TSA officers nationwide, is calling on more protections for the screeners.

Fears of becoming infected with the coronavirus has prompted hundreds of screeners to skip work, raising concerns of staffing shortfalls. TSA Administrator David Pekoske gave TSA employees permission to use paid “weather and sick leave” if they decided to stay home, Government Executive reports.

 

Border Protection Employees Tasked with Stopping Nonessential Traffic Between Canada, U.S.

Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, where traffic comes and goes from Canada.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Border protection employees have a new job at the U.S.-Canada border: Denying nonessential travelers entry into the country.

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday morning that the U.S. and Canada have reached a deal to close the border to nonessential traffic to combat the coronavirus.

“We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic,” Trump tweeted. “Trade will not be affected.”

U.S. and Canadian officials had been working on a ban on nonessential travel between the two countries. Trade and commerce won’t be affected, Trump said.

Records: At least 13 Homeland Security Officials Tested Positive for Coronavirus, Nearly 500 More Are Quarantined

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The coronavirus has hit federal Homeland Security employees hard.

At least 13 employees for the agency have been confirmed or presumed positive for COVID-19, but only eight of those cases – all TSA screeners – have been publicly disclosed, according to documentation obtained by POLITICO.

The records also show that nearly 500 Homeland Security employees have been quarantined.

Homeland Security officials declined to comment for the story.

The risk to federal workers is high because many of the more than 240,000 Homeland Security employees are still working and in close proximity to the public.

“The department’s leadership is going to have to pay very close attention as this public health crisis evolves,” John Cohen, former acting undersecretary of intelligence and analysis., told POLTICO. “It has to be concerned that its ability to carry out its core mission could be compromised if there’s a widespread outbreak of the virus among DHS personnel. And quite frankly, that’s something that federal, state, and local officials need to be concerned about across the board — that this virus will spread among first responders, law enforcement, and Homeland Security personnel, compromising the ability of those organizations to protect the public.”

Number of TSA Screeners Who Tested Positive for Coronavirus Reaches 8

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The number of TSA screeners who have tested positive for the coronavirus has increased to eight, the agency has confirmed.

An undisclosed number of screeners who came into contact with their infected coworkers will be quarantined for 14 days, the TSA said.

The screeners were working in airports in Ohio, California, Georgia, and Florida.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents nearly 50,000 TSA officers nationwide, is calling on more protections for the screeners.

“I think that it is important that the American public understand what these TSOs are facing right now,” Everett Kelley, AFGE’s national president, tells ABC News. “They are afraid. No one knows or understands the extent of this virus so everyone is a little shaken by it.”

 

Biden Gets Secret Service Protection; Nickname is ‘Celtic’

Former Vice President Joe Biden

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden will receive Secret Service protection.

On Thursday, Biden’s campaign submitted a formal request for Secret Service Protection after protesters have repeatedly accosted him on the campaign trial.

On Tuesday, Biden’s lead in the primary election increased with sweeping victories in Florida, Illinois and Arizona.

“The U.S. Secret Service can confirm that we have initiated full protective coverage for Democratic Presidential Candidate and former Vice President Joseph Biden,” Secret Service spokesman Vincent Tutoni said in a statement.

Biden’s code name will be “Celtic,” CNN reported.

DOJ Moves to Dismiss Charges Against Russians Accused of Running Troll Farms

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department filed a motion Monday to dismiss charges against two shell companies involved in Russian inference in the 2016 presidential election.

The move comes just two weeks before jury selection was to begin in the case against Concord Management and Concord Consulting, which were charged in 2018 as part of the special counsel Robert Mueller probe.

Prosecutors say the companies were using the case to try to gain access to sensitive information that could harm U.S. national security, The New York Times reports.

“Concord has been eager and aggressive in using the judicial system to gather information about how the United States detects and prevents foreign election interference,” prosecutors said in a motion filed in court on Monday.