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Archive for February, 2022

CBP Finds $2.9M Worth of Meth Disguised As Onions

CBP found methamphetamine disguised as white onions. Photo: CBP

By Steve Neavling

CBP officers in southern California discovered $2.9 million worth of methamphetamine disguised as onions. 

The nearly 1,200 packages of meth were found in a tractor trailer at the Otay Mesa commercial facility at about 1 p.m. last week. 

CBP canines sniffed out the drugs, which were in packages shaped like onions with a white covering. 

In total, CBP found 1,336 pounds of meth. 

Nearly 1,200 packages of meth disguised as onions were discovered by CBP. Photo: CBP

“This was not only a clever attempt to try and smuggle in narcotics, one I haven’t seen before, but also time consuming to wrap narcotics into these small packages, designed to look like onions,” Sidney Aki, CBP director of field operations in San Diego, said in a statement. “These efforts show how effective our officers are, and as a response, the lengths drug trafficking organizations are willing to go to as they try to smuggle narcotics into the U.S.  While we have certainly seen narcotics in produce before, it’s unusual for us to see this level of detail in the concealment.” 

The 46-year-old driver, a Mexican citizen, was arrested and turned over to ICE. 

Herbert Stapleton Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office

FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office. Photo: FBI

By Steve Neavling

Herbert J. Stapleton was tapped to serve as special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Field Office. 

Before the appointment, Stapleton was serving as a deputy assistant director of the Cyber Division at FBI headquarters.

Stapleton began working as an FBI special agent in 2004, when he was assigned to the Cape Girardeau Resident Agency under the St. Louis Field Office. He investigated various crimes, including bank robberies, complex financial crimes, public corruption, and child exploitation.

Stapleton transferred to the Chicago Field Office in 2008 to investigate transnational organized crime. 

In 2011, a promotion took Stapleton to the Internet Crime Complaint Center Unit (IC3) under the Cyber Division at headquarters, where he was supervisory special agent. 

In 2014, Stapleton became supervisory special agent at the Cincinnati Field Office. Two years later, he was promoted to assistant special agent in charge in the Cincinnati office, where he oversaw cyber, intelligence, and crisis management programs in southern Ohio.

In 2019, he became section chief in the Cyber Division at headquarters, where he was responsible for cyber-criminal investigations. Last year, Stapleton was promoted to deputy assistant director of the division’s Operational Branch, and he also served as the director of the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force.

Before joining the FBI, Stapleton was an attorney. 

He received a bachelor’s degree from Centre College in Kentucky and a law degree from the University of Kentucky.

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Mafia’s ‘Pizza Connection’

Raleigh Police Officer Busted for Allegedly Selling Cocaine While On Duty

By Steve Neavling

A Raleigh police officer was arrested Wednesday after allegedly selling cocaine to an undercover informant while he was on duty and wearing his uniform. 

Officer Kevin Rodriguez, 33, a four-year veteran of the department, has been charged with distribution of cocaine and possession of a firearm, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

“When one who wears the badge breaks the law, it breaches the public trust,” U.S. Attorney Michael Easley said at a news conference. “This alleged crime is a serious breach of public trust.”

In November 2021, a tipster said the officer was selling drugs in Raleigh, prompting an investigation by the DEA and Raleigh Police Department. 

According to prosecutors, Rodriquez sold $2,600 worth of cocaine to a confidential informant after driving to the drug deal in his parole car. 

Rodriguez is on administrative leave without pay. 

“The arrest of Mr. Rodriguez is a disappointment to me, the Raleigh Police Department, and the citizens and residents of our community,” Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson said. “Although disheartening, I want to ensure transparency to maintain public trust.”

Sheriff’s Office: Border Patrol Agent Who Fatally Shot Migrant Acted in Self-Defense

By Steve Neavling

A migrant who was fatally shot by a Border Patrol agent in southern Arizona first assaulted the agent with a rock, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office said. 

The sheriff’s office is investigating the fatal shooting that occurred at about 10 p.m. on Saturday in a rugged area of the Peloncillo Mountains in Douglas, a few miles north of the border. 

In a statement, the sheriff’s office said the agent was acting in self-defense when he shot the migrant multiple times, 12 News-TV reports.

The migrant has been identified as 32-year-old Carmelo Cruz-Marcos of Mexico. 

Moments before the shooting, the agent encountered a group of undocumented migrants, including Cruz-Marcos. The migrants ran, prompting a foot chase. Both Cruz-Marcos and the agent tripped, and a struggle ensued. 

Cruz-Marcos struck the agent in the shoulder and then retrieved a rock, according to the sheriff’s office. As the migrant raised his arm with the rock, the agent told investigators that he had “feared for his life” and pulled the trigger. 

Top Prosecutors in Investigation of Trump And His Business Practices Abruptly Resign

President Donald Trump

By Steve Neavling

Two of the top prosecutors heading up the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into former President Trump and his business have abruptly resigned, abandoning a probe at a critical juncture in the years-old case.  

Carey R. Dunee and Mark F. Pomerantz resigned after the new Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg expressed doubts about the case, The New York Times first reported.

The resignations came after the pair were presenting evidence to a grand jury. 

It wasn’t immediately clear what doubts Bragg had about the case. 

The case began in 2019 and has already netted charges. The Trump Organization and its chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg were indicted last July on tax fraud charges. 

The case has widened to include Trump himself. Prosecutors were trying to determine if he overvalued his properties in an attempt to secure loans and insurance policies. 

Without the top prosecutors, the yearslong investigation could “Peter out,” The New York Times suggested. 

FBI Special Agent Pleads Guilty to Using Government Money to Gamble

By Steve Neavling

An FBI special agent pleaded guilty to misusing government money to gamble in a Las Vegas casino following an undercover operation, authorities said Wednesday.

Special Agent Scott F. Carpenter, 40, of New York, entered the guilty plea in federal court to a single count of conversion of government money. 

According to prosecutors, Carpenter, who worked out of the bureau’s New York Field Office, was in Las Vegas with three other FBI agents to conduct an undercover operation in July 2017. Following the operation, Carpenter used $13,500 in government money to play blackjack in a high-limit room. 

Sentencing is set for May 18.

The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General investigated the case. 

Multiple Gunshot Wounds Killed Migrant in Encounter with Border Patrol

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

A migrant who was fatally shot by a Border Patrol agent over the weekend in southern Arizona had multiple gunshot wounds, according to an autopsy. 

The cause of death was determined by the Pima County Medical Examiner, but the final examination report is not yet complete, the Associated Press reports

The shooting occurred at about 10 p.m. on Saturday in a rugged area of the Peloncillo Mountains in Douglas, a few miles north of the border. 

The sheriff’s office and CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility are investigating. 

Use-of-force cases have been increasing in recent years. A monthly average of 50 use-of-force incidents were recorded during the final 28 months of President Trump’s time in office. 

Use-of-force cases rose 20% under President Biden. 

In 2021, nearly 60 Border Patrol encounters led to deaths, a three-fold increase over 2019 and four times as many as the annual average over the past decade.