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Archive for November, 2021

Biden Nominates Kennth Wainstein to Lead Homeland Security’s Intelligence Division

Kenneth L. Wainstein

By Steve Neavling

Presiden Biden has nominated Kenneth L. Wainstein to lead Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis. 

Wainstein served as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Homeland Security advisor under President George W. Bush and general counsel and chief of staff to the FBI Director Robert Mueller.

“Ken has decades of government experience at the highest levels,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement Friday. “His deep expertise in national security, counterterrorism, and intelligence matters will benefit our Department and our Nation if he is confirmed. I urge the Senate to swiftly confirm Ken to this critical leadership role.”

In 2020, Wainstein was among 20 GOP-appointed former U.S. attorneys who signed a letter calling then-President Trump “a threat to the rule of law in our country.” In the letter, the former U.S. attorneys also endorsed Biden for president. 

Waintstein is currently a litigation partner for Davis Polk & Wardwell in Washington D.C.

ATF Agent Recovers from Shooting As Police Search for Two Suspects

By Steve Neavling

Police are on the hunt for two suspects after an ATF agent was wounded in a shootout near downtown Spokane on Friday.

The unidentified agent has been released from the hospital.

The shooting occurred in a Motel 6 parking lot west of downtown Spokane. ATF agents exchanged gunfire with several suspects, the Associated Press reports.

One of the three suspects was wounded and taken to a hospital, where his condition is unknown. 

Meanwhile, Spokane Police SWAT officers and other law enforcement are searching for the two other suspects, who fled after the shootout. 

Weekend Series on Crime: A Mexican Cartel’s Fentanyl Operation

FBI Removes Arizona Fugitive from Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List

Photo: FBI

By Steve Neavling

The FBI removed from its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List an Arizona fugitive accused of killing his wife and two children before setting their house on fire in April 2001. 

Although Robert Fisher remains at large, the FBI’s Phoenix Field Office said he no longer fits the criteria to be on the list. 

“Because the extensive publicity Fisher’s case received during its nearly 20 years on the list has not resulted in his successful location and/or capture, the case no longer fulfills that requirement,” the FBI said in a statement, Arizona Central reports.

Nevertheless, the FBI said it will continue to investigate his whereabouts. 

Fisher, who would be 60 years old if he’s still alive, is accused of slashing the throats of his 38-year-old wife and their two children, ages 10 and 12. His wife also was shot in the head. 

Authorities say Fisher, a former firefighter, then set his house on fire in hopes of covering up the crimes. 

According to a neighbor, Fisher and his wife were arguing the night before the murder. 

On Wednesday, the FBI announced that the alleged leader of the notorious M-13 gang in Honduras has been added to the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List

Steele Dossier Source Charged with Lying to FBI

U.S. Attorney John Durham. Photo: DOJ

By Steve Neavling

A Russian analyst who worked on the Steele dossier, which made unfounded and salacious allegations about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, was indicted Thursday on charges of lying to the FBI. 

The charges against Igor Danchenko stem from special counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the Russia probe. It’s the third indictment in Durham’s investigation.  

A grand jury indicted Danchenko on five counts of making false statements to the FBI.

According to the unsealed indictment, Danchenko lied about conversations he had with sources and fabricated details of the dossier.

The Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign commissioned the dossier, which was used to help obtain a surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. 

Magnus, Biden’s Nominee to Lead CBP, Advances to Full Senate Vote

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, picked to lead CBP.

By Steve Neavling

A Senate committee on Wednesday narrowly advanced President Biden’s nomination of Chris Magnus to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

The Senate Finance Committee voted 15-13, pushing the nomination to a vote before the full Senate. The only Republican to vote in favor of Magnus was Sen. Bill Casey, of Louisiana. 

Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., cited Magnus’ experience as a police chief and his compassionate but tough stance on immigration. 

“He shares the view that enforcing our immigration laws and treating people humanely — those two priorities are not mutually exclusive. We can do both,” Wyden said, Arizona Public Radio reports.

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, wasn’t on board, pointing to Magnus’ testimony during a conformation hearing last month. 

“The nominee was asked by members of this committee multiple times to acknowledge we face a crisis. He declined to do so,” Crapo said.

During the confirmation hearing, Magnus sought to assuage some Republicans by signaling support for two of former President Trump’s most controversial policies. He said he would consider finishing some of the border wall that the Biden administration has stopped and indicated he supported the Trump-era public health order that authorizes the rapid removal of migrants and asylum-seekers without an immigration hearing. 

Magnus, 60, who has served as Tucson’s police chief since 2016, was a vocal critic of some of Trump’s immigration policies and a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement before his nomination. 

If confirmed by the Senate, Magnus has a tough job ahead of him as the nation grapples with a border problem and the separation of migrant children from their families. 

Magnus also would be the first openly gay CBP commissioner. 

Biden’s ATF nominee David Chipman floundered in the Senate after every Republican and Angus King, an independent from Maine, refused to support him.

Suspected Leader of MS-13 in Honduras Added to FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List

By Steve Neavling

The suspected leader of the notorious MS-13 gang in Honduras has been added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. 

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of Yulan Adonay Archaga Carias, also known as Alexander Mendoza and Porky. 

Archaga Carias has been charged with racketeering conspiracy, possession of machines guns and cocaine importation conspiracy in the Southern District of New York. 

“He’s wanted for, among other crimes, facilitating the transportation of multi-ton loads of cocaine through Honduras into the United States, as well as possession and conspiracy to possess machine guns that were used by gang members to support international drug trafficking,” FBI Supervisory Special Agent Nick Durgin said in a statement Wednesday.

Archaga Carias is accused of murdering and participating in the murder of rival gang members and others associated with M-13. He was sentenced to a lengthy prison term after a Honduran tribunal convicted him of conspiracy and other charges in August 2018.  

Then in February 2020, Archaga Carias escaped Honduran custody when about 20 armed men wearing police and military uniforms stormed a courthouse where he had a scheduled hearing, killing multiple police officers. 

The Joint Task Force Vulcan (JTFV), which formed in 2019 to combat MS-13, is investigating Archaga Carias’ disappearance. 

“This is a joint effort,” Durgin, who supports JTFV for the FBI, said. “When we work together with our partners, we can see the crossover and better address the threat.” 

M-13 poses a serious threat in Central America, the U.S., and other parts of the world, the FBI said. 

“MS-13 is an international criminal organization whose business model is extreme violence,” Durgin said. “Capturing this individual would send a clear message to MS-13 that their violent activity and narcotics trafficking will not be tolerated.”

DEA Seizes Largest Amount of Cocaine Destined for New York in More Than a Decade

By Steve Neavling

The DEA seized more than a ton of cocaine that was destined for New York, and three people were indicted for their alleged involvement in a drug trafficking conspiracy. 

It was the largest seizure of cocaine headed to New York in more than a decade, according to DEA Special Agent in Charge Roy Donavan. 

“A multimillion-dollar storm of cocaine was seized before it could wreak havoc in the Northeast,” Donovan said in a statement.  “Over one ton of cocaine was seized, making it the largest cocaine seizure destined for the streets of New York in over a decade.  This seizure signifies a shift in the illegal drug landscape in New York, with cocaine seizures rising more than 150% in the last year.  DEA and our law enforcement partners will continue to guard against drug trafficking organizations’ tactics and techniques to smuggle drugs into our country.”

Jorge Aponte-Guzman, 33, Nelson Agramonte-Minaya, 37, and Carlos Maisonet-Lopez, 32, face up to life in prison on charges of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute at least 5 kilograms of cocaine. 

According to federal prosecutors, the drugs were inside 10 large metal law rollers in a rental van. 

“A seizure of this magnitude underscores the critical importance of working together with our federal and local law enforcement partners in the DEA Westchester Task Force, Westchester County Police Commissioner Thomas A. Gleason said. “The tremendous work and dedication of the DEA and Task Force Investigators has interrupted a major drug distribution operation and prevented approximately one ton of dangerous, illegal narcotics from being distributed on the streets of our area.” 

Read the full indictment here.