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Archive for December, 2021

Some Homeland Security Agents to Begin Wearing Body Cams

Photo: Shutterstock

By Steve Neavling

Dozens of Homeland Security agents will begin wearing body cams as part of a six-month pilot program. 

The cameras will be worn by 55 Homeland Security Investigations agents in Houston, Newark, New Jersey and New York, the Associated Press reports.

The idea is to examine the cost and benefits of the technology. 

The pilot is expected to be expanded to include officers involved in immigration enforcement arrests. 

While many local and state law enforcement wear body cameras, federal agents have not. 

ATF agents in Phoenix and Detroit began wearing body cams in September.

In August, CBP announced that about a third of Border Patrol agents will wear body cameras by the end of this year.

In June, the Justice Department’s Inspector General said federal law enforcement agencies were “generally unprepared” to adopt the widespread use of body cameras.

In the last decade, the Justice Department issued $150 million in grants for camera programs, but none of that money went to the ATF, FBI, DEA, or U.S. Marshals Service. 

Lead FBI Agent in Investigation of Gov. Whitmer Kidnapping Case Pleads No Contest to Assaulting Wife

Ex-FBI Agent Richard Trask. Photo: Instagram

By Steve Neavling

The FBI’s lead agent in the investigation into the alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer pleaded no contest Monday to a misdemeanor charge of assaulting his wife. 

Richard Trask, 39, who was accused of beating his wife in July, was sentenced to time served and ordered to pay court costs.

Following the hearing, Trask’s attorney Sarissa K. Montague, told The Detroit News “this was a difficult situation for the family” and “we are looking forward to moving forward.”

In September, the FBI fired Trask, who had worked for kthebureau since 2011. 

CBP’s Entire Workforce Awarded Homeland Security Person of the Year

Executive Assistant Commissioner of Enterprise Services Benjamine “Carry” Huffman accepts the award from Kristina Tanasichuk, founder and CEO of the Government Technology and Services Coalition and executive editor of Homeland Security Today.

By Steve Neavling

U.S. Customs and Border Protection was given the 2021 Homeland Security Person of the Year award for its commitment to protecting Americans and safeguarding the borders. 

The award, which honors people who serve the homeland security mission, was given by Homeland Security Today to the entire 60,000-plus CBP workforce.

“I want to offer my sincere thanks to Homeland Security Today for recognizing us with this prestigious award,” Executive Assistant Commissioner Benjamine “Carry” Huffman said. “The men and women of CBP work tirelessly each day to ensure the safety of our borders and facilitate legitimate trade and travel throughout the worst pandemic in recent history, and it is humbling that Homeland Security Today sees and appreciates them.” 

CBP, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency with regular interaction with the public, continued its mission in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also helped the country rebound economically by preventing counterfeit goods from entering the country.

According to a news release: CBP’s numbers illustrate the agency’s impact:

“Air and Marine and Border Patrol personnel performed over 13,000 rescues in Fiscal Year 2021 of migrants left in dangerous situations by smugglers along the land and sea borders. CBP has adapted to changing migration patterns, deftly managing and surging resources as necessary, and performing admirable humanitarian work in the process. CBP personnel helped deliver 30 babies and provided excellent care to over 147,000 children over the course of the fiscal year. At the frontline of upholding U.S. Intellectual Property Rights, CBP fights to protect America’s innovation economy and the health and safety of consumers. In November alone, CBP seized nearly 1,545 shipments that contained counterfeit goods valued at more than $335 million.

In November 2021, CBP reopened the U.S. land and ferry ports of entry to non-essential travel, ensuring a smooth opening and working to process vehicles as quickly and safely as possible. In addition, CBP worked to fight forced labor, issuing seven Withhold Release Orders and two forced labor Findings. CBP’s award-winning forced labor team fought to make global supply chains more humane and more secure”.

Fentanyl Seized by DEA Is Enough to ‘Kill Every Single American’

The DEA seized 15,000 pounds of fentanyl in one year. Photo: Shutterstock

By Steve Neavling

The DEA has seized so much fentanyl in the past year that it’s enough to “kill every single American,” Anne Milgram, head of the DEA, said. 

In an interview on Face the Nation, Miligram said the agency has seized 15,000 pounds of the deadly, highly addictive synthetic opioid.

“We’ve taken off 20 million fake pills this year. We estimate at the DEA lab that four in 10 of those pills are potentially deadly. We’ve taken off 15,000 pounds of fentanyl this year. That is enough potentially lethal doses to kill every single American,” Milgram said. “So we are doing a lot of work to make sure that we are taking those drugs off the street.”

In the 12 months ending April 2021, more than 100,000 people died in the U.S. from drug overdoses. Nearly 64% of the deaths were caused by fentanyl. 

“We’re in the middle of an unprecedented moment, 100,000 Americans have died. That’s more Americans than died from car crashes. That’s more Americans that died from car crashes and gun violence in the past year. This is unprecedented, and it is tragic,” Milgram said. “So to me, DEA has to do everything we can to meet this moment. We have to do more than we’ve ever done before, and so does Mexico, and so does China. And so to me, this is about saving lives.”  

The fentanyl is mainly coming from drug cartels in Mexico, and the chemicals are being imported from China, Milgram said. 

“We’ve built a case against the criminal drug networks,” she added. “And we’ve drawn that line between the Mexican criminal cartels that are mass producing illicit fentanyl and making these fake pills and pouring it into the United States. What we’re doing is investigating. We want to understand everything about how this is happening. And of course, the social media companies need to do more.”

Ex-FBI Lawyer Clinesmith’s Law License Restored After 1 Year Suspension

Former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith.

By Steve Neavling

Kevin Clinesmith, a former FBI lawyer who was convicted of altering an email in connection with the surveillance of Trump aide Carter Page, can practice law again. 

Clinesmith’s law license was suspended for a year in January 2020, and he was sentenced to 12 months of probation and ordered to serve 400 hours of community service after pleading guilty to a felony in August 2020. 

In September, the D.C. Court of Appeals approved the suspension after noting that Clinestmith showed remorse and had no prior disciplinary history.

Timothy Waters, Head of Detroit FBI, Talks About Public Corruption, Terrorism and the Latest on Jimmy Hoffa

By Allan Lengel

Domestic terrorism in Michigan has become such a concern that the FBI has tripled its resources in that area in the past 18 months, says Timothy Waters, head of the Detroit office, which covers the state. But concern over links to international terrorism also looms large.

“Our adversaries are extremely active here, more so than what people could possibly even imagine,” says Waters, adding: “We have a robust counterterrorism program here for a reason. If we didn’t have the threat, we wouldn’t waste the resources to address it.” 

Waters, 53, is retiring as special agent in charge of the Detroit office at the end of the year to join the private sector. The New Jersey native and West Point graduate started his career with the FBI in Detroit in 2000 and advanced within the bureau. He was appointed head of the Detroit office a year ago.

He sat down recently with Deadline Detroit, a sister publication of ticklethewire.com, for a wide-ranging interview about domestic and international terrorism, Chinese thefts of intellectual property, the continuing Detroit corruption probe and the timing of the city hall raids, ransomware and the latest on Jimmy Hoffa in relation to a New Jersey dump.  

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Taiwan Mafia

Ex-Homeland Security Official Cuccinelli Questioned by Congressional Committee about Jan. 6

Ken Cuccinelli

By Steve Neavling

Former top Homeland Security official Ken Cuccinelli was questioned by the U.S. House committee that is investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. 

Cuccinelli, who served as deputy Homeland Security secretary from 2019 to 2021, was asked about the events of Jan. 6 and what the agency did to prepare for them, CNN reports.

He said the committee also asked him about discussions he had with Trump. He said he declined to discuss details of those conversations. 

Cuccinelli was considered a Trump loyalist and was often in meetings when the administration discussed the election results. Trump even broached the idea of appointing Cuccinelli to serve as “special counsel” to investigate voter fraud.