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Archive for February, 2022

FBI Investigation into Bomb Threats at Black Colleges Reveals 6 Juveniles As Persons of Interest

Howard University. Photo: Derek E. Morton/Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

The FBI has identified six juveniles as persons of interest in connection with threats to historically Black colleges and universities. 

More than 20 FBI field officers nationwide launched an investigation into a series of bomb threats against the colleges and houses of worship, the bureau said Wednesday.

NBC News reports that the threats appear to be racially motivated.

A law enforcement official told NBC News that the juveniles appear to be “tech savvy,” saying they disguised the source of threats using sophisticated methods. 

In response to the threats, some of the universities, including Howard University, issued shelter-in-place orders on Tuesday, the first day of Black History Month. 

Other colleges that reported bomb threats are University of the District of Columbia, Fort Valley State University, Morgan State University, Coppin State University, Kentucky State University, Xavier University of Louisiana, Edward Wters University, Alcorn State University, Mississippi Valley State University, Rust College, Spelman College, Jackson State University, and Tougaloo College. 

“The FBI is aware of the series of bomb threats around the country and we are working with our law enforcement partners to address any potential threats,” the FBI said Tuesday.

AG Garland Commemorates the Deaths of 2 Florida FBI Agents Who were Killed One Year Ago

By Allan Lengel

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland issued a statement Wednesday to commemorate the deaths of FBI agents Daniel Alfin and Special Agent Laura Schwartzenberger, who were killed one year ago today while executing a federal search warrant in Sunrise, Fla.

FBI agents Laura Schwartzenberger and Daniel Alfin

“One year ago today, FBI Special Agent Laura Schwartzenberger and Special Agent Daniel Alfin were killed in the line of duty. Today, as we remember their service, their sacrifice and their courage, our nation also mourns the loss of 31 members of law enforcement who have died in the line of duty this year.,” Garland said.

“At the Justice Department, we stand shoulder to shoulder with those who protect and serve our communities. We recognize the sacrifices law enforcement officers make every single day, and that the COVID-19 pandemic has made their jobs only more difficult. We will do everything within our power as a Department to help keep members of law enforcement safe as we work together to keep our country safe.”

Feds Raid Michigan Home of High Ranking Homeland Security Investigations Official

Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Vance Callender

By Steve Neavling

Federal agents have raided the Michigan home of a high-ranking Homeland Security official who is under investigation for alleged misconduct. 

The raid occurred Friday at the Royal Oak home of Vance Callender, 49, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations’ Detroit office, The Detroit Free Press reports.

The office overseas investigation in Michigan and Ohio. 

A neighbor said plainclothes agents removed a briefcase and manila envelope. 

“Special Agent-in-Charge Callender is a highly decorated federal law enforcement official whose security and reputation are our top priority. That said, some rumors about him online are incorrect. To the extent, Mr. Callender is required to enforce or defend his rights, he is prepared to do so,” Callender’s lawyer, Nick Oberheiden, said in statement.

Oberheiden declined to elaborate on the investigation or the “rumors.” 

In a statement, an ICE spokesperson said, “As public servants working for a law enforcement agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) takes allegations of misconduct very seriously. Any allegations of misconduct are appropriately investigated, and any employee, regardless of rank or seniority, who has committed provable misconduct, will be held accountable.”

The statement added, “Where necessary, ICE works with federal and/or state and local law enforcement who may investigate such allegations. Per agency protocol, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) will also review the allegations.”

Callender has been the head of the Detroit office for about a year. Prior to that, he oversaw investigations in San Antonio. 

Callender’s career in law enforcement began in 1995, when he was a sheriff’s deputy in Victoria County in Texas. 

He became a special agent with the U.S. Customs Service in 2001. 

Callender has a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Texas State University. 

Border Patrol Agent Hospitalized After ATV Crash Near U.S.-Mexico Border

By Steve Neavling

A Border Patrol agent was injured Tuesday morning when the all-terrain vehicle he was riding collided with a Tahoe SUV operated by a fellow agent in Southern California.

The crash occurred in an area near the U.S.-Mexico border between Tijuana and San Diego, according to Border Report.

The injured agent was rushed to the UCSD Medical Center near downtown San Diego.

The agent sustained non-life-threatening injuries. 

“The agent driving the Tahoe immediately requested EMS support via dispatch,” Border Patrol said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “The agent operating the Tahoe did not report any injuries.” 

Nearly 20 years ago, an agent was killed in the same area after her vehicle rolled over an embankment. 

Trump Told Giuliani to Call Homeland Security to Seize Voting Machines

President Donald Trump

By Steve Neavling

Former President Trump asked Rudolph Giuliani to call the Department of Homeland Security and ask if officials there could seize voting machines in battleground states in an attempt to overturn the election, The New York Times reports.

The request came six days after the election. Giuliani called the department’s acting deputy secretary, who informed him that Homeland Security did not have the authority to take control of the machines. 

CNN also reported that Trump advisers drafted an executive order that would have directed the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense to seize voting machines. The idea came from retired Col. Phil Waldron and Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, according to CNN’s sources. 

In a meeting in the Oval Office, Trump also asked Attorney General William Barr about the prospect of the Justice Department seizing the machines. But Barr shot down the suggestion. 

Michael E. Hensle Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Milwaukee Field Office

Special FBI Agent in Charge Michael Hensle

By Steve Neavling

Michael E. Hensle has been named special agent in charge of the FBI’s Milwaukee Field Office. 

Hensle had been serving as the deputy assistant director of the Inspection Division at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. 

Hensle became an FBI special agent in 2003, when he was first assigned to the Albany Field Office in New York, investigating white-collar crime, public corruption, and civil rights. 

In 2006, Hensle moved to the Newark Field Office in New Jersey and continued to investigate public corruption. He also investigated organized crime, domestic terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction violations. 

In 2008, Mr. Hensle became supervisory special agent in the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate at FBI headquarters, where he worked in the Infrastructure Countermeasures Unit and Biological Countermeasures Unit. In 2011, he was promoted to chief of the Biological Countermeasures Unit and led the bioterrorism program and initiatives to prevent the acquisition, production, and use of biological agents as weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). 

In 2012, Hensle transferred to the Salt Lake City Field Office, where he initially led the domestic terrorism, WMD, and crisis management programs for Utah, Idaho, and Montana. In 2015, he became assistant special agent in charge of Salt Lake City’s counterterrorism, WMD, crisis management, and administrative programs and oversaw the eight resident agencies in Montana.  In 2017, Hensle led the field office’s counterintelligence, cyber, intelligence, and administrative programs. 

In 2018, Hensle became inspector in the Inspection Division at FBI headquarters. In 2020, he was appointed to chief inspector and provided oversight of eight inspectors and staff in the Office of Inspections. 

Later in 2020, Mr. Hensle became deputy assistant director in the Inspection Division, where he continued to lead the Office of Inspections and oversaw the FBI’s internal affairs portfolio. In addition, he coordinated audits and reviews of the bureau conducted by the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office.