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Archive for November, 2021

DHS Inspector General Declines to Investigate Horse-Mounted Agents

By Steve Neavling

Homeland Security’s inspector general has decided not to investigate horse-mounted Border Patrol agents who were seen in viral images blocking Haitian migrants from entering Del Rio, Texas.

The images provoked public outrage and a pledge by President Biden to swiftly investigate the incident. 

CBP initially referred the investigation to the inspector general’s office, which declined and handed it back to Homeland Security’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which “immediately commenced investigative work, including its review of videos and photographs and the interview of witnesses employees, and CBP leadership,” Homeland Security said in a statement Tuesday.

“Once completed, the results of the investigation will be provided to CBP management to determine whether disciplinary action is appropriate and, if so, the specific discipline to be imposed,” according to the statement. “At that time, the employees will be afforded due process, including an opportunity to respond, and any corrective actions will comport with applicable laws and regulations. The disciplinary process, which is separate from the fact-finding investigation, is subject to certain timelines established in CBP’s labor-management agreement with the employees’ union of the United States Border Patrol.” 

OPR is tasked with investigating alleged misconduct by CBP employees. As a matter of policy, OPR refers all allegations of serious misconduct to the inspector general’s office. 

“DHS remains committed to conducting a thorough, independent, and objective investigation,” the statement reads. “DHS will share information, as available, consistent with the need to protect the integrity of the investigation and individuals’ privacy.”

Two Men Indicted in Shooting of ATF Agent in Spokane

By Steve Neavling

A grand jury on Tuesday indicted two men for their alleged involvement in the shooting of an ATF agent at a Spokane motel earlier this month.

The agent was briefly hospitalized and is expected to make a full recovery following the Nov. 6 shooting in a parking lot of a Motel 6. 

Randy Holmes, 24, was charged with three counts, including assaulting an ATF agent with a deadly weapon, The Spokesman-Review reports. He’s accused of exchanging gunfire with the agent. Because of a previous felony conviction, he was not permitted to possess a firearm, prosecutors said. 

Holmes faces up to 30 years in prison, if convicted. 

Vincent Petrushkin, 35, is accused of fleeing the scene with Holmes. He was charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. 

Both men are in the Spokane County Jail. 

The shooting occurred while the ATF was conducting an undercover investigation. 

Border Patrol Agents Rescue Bleeding Man from Car Moments Before It Burst into Flames

Remains of the car gutted by a fire. Photo: CBP.

By Steve Neavling

Quick-acting Border Patrol agents rescued a man from a burning car just before it burst into flames. 

Agents from the McAllen Border Patrol Station in Texas heard a vehicle crash south of McAllen and immediately responded on Saturday. 

The driver was bleeding and slumped over the wheel, CBP said in a news release Monday. 

“While executing their border security mission within their area of responsibility, Border Patrol Agents sometimes encounter various emergency situations involving members of the general public.  Our agents immediately took action to save the life of the man involved in the crash, preventing any further injury,” Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Patrol Agent Brian S. Hastings said in a statement.

It’s just the latest rescue by Border Patrol agents. 

In September, agents from the Brownsville Station rescued a woman from a smoking car before it erupted in flames on U.S. Highway 77 in Brownsville, Texas.

On the same day, an off-duty Border Patrol agent from the Laredo Sector witnessed an armed man destroying property in a parking lot and immediately called police. The gunman then began opening fire aimlessly, “causing chaos with the surrounding civilians,” CBP said in a news release. After helping clear people from the scene, the agent identified himself and deescalated the situation before police arrived.

On Aug. 29, CBP officers were credited with saving the life of a young woman who appeared to be overdosing on opioids. Two men carried the semi-conscious woman to the pedestrian lanes at the Douglas Port of Entry in Arizona on Sunday evening. While a supervisory CBP officer notified the Douglas Fire Department, a CBP-trained medic administered two doses of Narcan. 

On July 31, an off-duty Border Patrol agent saved a man from a burning car in metro Detroit.

Also in July, an off-duty agent from the El Centro Sector helped thwart a carjacking in what the agency called a “heroic act.”

In the same month, an off-duty Border Patrol agent in San Diego detained a man who was slashing a knife through the air while approaching bystanders.

Bannon Surrenders to FBI After Being Indicted for Defying Congressional Subpoena

Steve Bannon moments before surrendering to the FBI. Photo: Screenshot of his live-streamed video.

By Steve Neavling

Steve Bannon, a onetime top advisor to former President Trump, turned himself in to the FBI after he was indicted last week for defying a congressional subpoena to provide information to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. 

Bannon, a 67-year-old right-wing media personality, surrendered at the FBI’s Washington Field Office. In a live-streamed video moment earlier, Bannon was defiant.

“I don’t want anybody to take their eye off the ball of what we do every day,” Bannon said before surrendering. “We got the Hispanics coming on our side, African Americans coming on our side; we’re taking down the Biden regime.” 

“I want you guys to stay focused, stay on message,” he said. “Remember, signal not noise.”

A grand jury indicted Bannon on two counts of contempt of Congress. He faces up to one year of jail on each count. 

“As detailed in the indictment, on Sept. 23, 2021, the Select Committee issued a subpoena to Mr. Bannon,” Matthew M. Graves, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said in a statement. “The subpoena required him to appear and produce documents to the Select Committee, and to appear for a deposition before the Select Committee. According to the indictment, Mr. Bannon refused to appear to give testimony as required by subpoena and refused to produce documents in compliance with a subpoena.”

Arraignment has not yet been scheduled. 

CBP Agents Rescue Man Standing Atop a Sinking Airplane Off the Florida Coast

By Steve Neavling

Customs and Border Protection agents happened upon a plane crash off the coast of Florida and rescued the lone occupant who was standing atop the sinking aircraft. 

Air and Marine Operations’ (AMO) Tampa Marine Unit was conducting a join operation with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Tactical Impact Unit on Nov. 9 when agents and deputies spotted a man climbing out of the plane about a hundred miles north of Tampa along Florida’s Gulf Coast. 

“The situational awareness and quick actions of the Marine Interdiction Agents and Sheriff’s Deputies prevented a possible human tragedy,” Michael Matthies, deputy director of Marine Operations, said in a statement. “We are thankful we have the proper resources and trained personnel to perform when incidents like this present themselves.” 

AMO is responsible for assessing and confronting security threats using aviation and maritime law enforcement expertise. In the 2020 fiscal year, AMO seized or disrupted more than 194,000 pounds of cocaine, 278,000 pounds of marijuana, nearly 16,000 pounds of meth, 952 weapons and $51.5 million. AMO’s operations also led to 1,066 arrests and the apprehension of 47,872 undocumented migrants. 

About 20% of Border Patrol Agents, Employees Have Not Been Vaccinated

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

With less than two weeks before all federal employees must be vaccinated, one of five Border Patrol agents and employees have not been inoculated, The Washington Post reports, citing internal data.

As of Nov. 10, 77% of employees were fully vaccinated, and another 3% were partially vaccinated. 

About 4,000 agents and employees have not been vaccinated. About 15.5% of agents and employees requested a religious or medical exemption 

Biden’s mandate requires all federal employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 22. Those who don’t get vaccinated face discipline and could be terminated, his administration has said. 

Earlier this month, 44 Republican lawmakers called on Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to avoid enforcing the vaccine mandate to prevent a mass exodus of agents and other CBP employees.

“Our men and women in the Border Patrol have worked tirelessly to manage the crisis at our southern border,” the letter stated. “This year especially, they have been subject to extraordinary amounts of mental and physical stress. With morale at an all-time low, this mandate will serve as the last straw for agents who can easily leave the agency for other law enforcement organizations at the state and local level or retire.”

Weekend Series on Crime: The Poland Gangs

Border Patrol Agents Questioned about Use of Horses in Handling of Haitian Migrants

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

Federal investigators are finally interviewing Border Patrol personnel who were present in September when viral images showed agents on horses try to block Haitian migrants from entering Del Rio, Texas, ABC News reports.

The investigation was initiated by CBP following public outrage over Border Patrol agents on horses chasing and grabbing Haitian migrants. 

Homeland Security officials suspended the use of horse patrols following the shocking images, and President Biden pledged a swift investigation that will result in “consequences.”

But since then, the investigation has been anything but swift.  

Some have defended the agents, saying they were just doing their job. 

Details of the current investigation weren’t clear. 

At least two of the agents in the photos remain on administrative leave.