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Archive for July, 2020

Off-Duty Border Patrol Agent Killed in Car Crash in Texas

Border Patrol Agent Fernando Morales.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

An off-duty Border Patrol agent assigned to the Del Rio Sector was killed in a car crash Monday night in Texas.

Fernando Morales, 51, was driving a 2017 Volkswagen Passat on U.S. 277 near Del Rio when a 2016 Freightliner truck veered into oncoming traffic in a no-passing zone, KRQE reports.

“I am deeply saddened to inform you of the off duty death of Border Patrol Agent Fernando Morales,” Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Austin Skero tweeted Wednesday. “He is survived by his wife and four children. On behalf of our sector family, I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues as we mourn his passing.”

Morales is a native of El Paso and graduated from Irvin High School.

House Democrats Urge TSA to Require Masks at Security Checkpoints to Protect Employees, Travelers

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

House Democrats are urging the TSA to require face masks for travelers at airport security checkpoints to protect agency employees and others.

In a letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske, Reps. Bennie Thompson and Lou Correa pointed out that nearly 1,000 TSA employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and seven died, Government Executive reports.

“We were pleased to see you fulfill part of that request when you announced on May 7th a requirement for TSA employees to wear masks. However, it is difficult to understand your hesitation to issue a national requirement for passenger masks to ensure that all frontline workers and passengers are equally protected across the aviation system,” they wrote.

The Democrats said mask requirements are a common sense approach to protecting frontline workers and travelers.

“The only controversy surrounding masks is a dangerous political one manufactured by President Trump and his enablers. There is a clear consensus among public health officials that masks are effective in curbing the spread of COVID-19,” they wrote. “TSA employees routinely enforce a number of requirements that are unpopular with the public, such as conducting invasive pat-downs and confiscating liquids, which you and your predecessors have deemed necessary to protect passengers.”

The TSA last month suggested there were no mask requirements because the CDC only recommends – not mandates – face coverings.

Man Sentenced to Nearly 13 Years in Prison in Ambush Shooting of ATF Agent

Bernard Anthony Graham

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A 27-year-old Illinois man was sentenced Tuesday to nearly 13 years in prison for his role in an ambush of ATF agents in Gary, Ind.

U.S. District Court Senior Judge James T. Moody sentenced Bernard Anthony Graham to 153 months in prison after he opened fire on two undercover agents during a botched gun buy in Gary, NWI.com reports.

An ATF agent was wounded during a shootout after Graham and two others tried to rob undercover agents masquerading as gun sellers.

Graham and Raymond Truitt, who died in the shootout, fire his gun at the agents.

For his role in the ambush, Blake King was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Stephen Belongia Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI Buffalo Field Office

Special Agent Stephen Belongia.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Stephen Belongia has been named special agent in charge of the FBI Buffalo Field Office in New York.

Belongia, who most recently served as the section chief of Cyber Readiness at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., first joined the bureau as a special agent in 1997 in the Phoenix Field Office, where he investigated criminal and counterterrorism issues.

While in Phoenix, Belongia became supervisor of a white-collar crime squad in 2010, focusing on investment and complex security frauds. He later led a counterterrorism squad.

In 2011, he was deployed to Iraq on a temporary assignment, investigating international contract corruption. In 2013, Belongia became an assistant legal attaché in Nairobi, Kenya, where he investigated, among other things, piracy and the terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping mall.

Belongia returned to Nairobi and began serving in the Human Resources Division at FBI headquarters, focusing on policy and administrative roles.

In 2017, Belongia was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of the Tampa Field Office in Florida, where he led the cyber, counterintelligence, human intelligence, technical, surveillance, intelligence, and administrative programs.

In 2019, Belongia was elevated to section chief of Cyber Readiness at FBI headquarters, working on a variety of tasks, including cyber education and training, human capital, strategic management, security, logistics, financial management, and workforce development. In addition, conceived and led several initiatives that included the FBI Cyber Academy, Cyber Pipeline, and the Cyber 2025 Strategic Review.

Before joining the bureau, Belongia earned a bachelor’s degree in business from California State University in Sacramento and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Oxford. Before becoming a special agent, Belongia worked as a CPA for KPMG.

House Democrats Call for Severe Funding Cuts to ICE, Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

House Democrats announced a plan Monday to severely cut the budgets of Border Patrol and ICE to reduce Homeland Security’s deportation operations.

The House Appropriations Committee introduced the fiscal 2021 spending bill, which would halt the hiring of new Border Patrol agents, prevent additional construction on President Trump’s border wall, and stop the detention of families, The Washington Times reports.

Under the plan, watchdog groups would receive a boost in funding to oversee ICE operations.

ICE’s deportation and detention division would be reduced to $3.3 billion, a $1.1 billion cut.

“Our bill fights for a more humane immigration approach, including the more restricted use of civil detention, expanded alternatives to detention, and the phase-out of family detention this year,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, chairwoman of the subcommittee that oversees Homeland Security funding, said.

CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan Calls Out Portland Leaders After Violence Breaks Out

CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan on Fox & Friends Weekend.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan slammed political leaders in Portland over their handling of violence in the city Saturday after Border Patrol agents were sent in to assist.

“What we saw in Portland last night was criminal and we stood strong with our federal partners to resist that,” Morgan told “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Sunday.

“Where are the local political leaders?”

Portland police declared the protest “a riot” late on Independence Dat after fires were set and violence broke out.

“These are not protesters, these are criminals who got together and organized and planned and actually brought weapons, they brought shields, they brought frozen water bottles, rocks, lasers, weapons with the intent to destroy a federal building and harm law enforcement officers,” Morgan said.

The protest comes after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Morgan called out one of the “criminals” for “trying to assault one of the CBP employees while he was being arrested.”

Book Examines FBI’s Pursuit of ‘Whitey’ Bulger And His Arrest, Trial And Death

“Hunting Whitey: The Inside Story of the Capture and Killing of America’s Most Wanted Crime Boss”

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A new book chronicles the FBI’s 16-year pursuit of James “Whitey” Bulger and his arrest, two-month trial and death in prison in 2018.

Journalists Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge painstakingly examine one of the most notorious crime bosses in American history in “Hunting Whitey: The Inside Story of the Capture and Killing of America’s Most Wanted Crime Boss.”

The book explores how Bulger, #1 on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, evaded capture for nearly two decades and was ultimately captured through the relentless efforts of federal agents.

The leader of Boston’s Winter Hill Gang was indicted on 19 counts of murder, racketeering, narcotics distribution and extortion.

The book offers new details about his death in prison.

“Everybody who lives in New England knows somebody who knows somebody who had an experience with Whitey,” Wedge told Cape Code Times. “We wrote this book to tie up loose ends.”

Sherman said Bulgar was constantly on the run before law enforcement caught up with him 16 years after he fled.

“He was free, but never free,” Sherman said. “He was always looking over his shoulder for the FBI or someone he’d crossed to come at him with a shotgun.”

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Hells Angels