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Archive for March, 2022

CBP Seizes Ecstasy Poorly Concealed in Leaking Cans of Soup

CBP seized ecstasy that was stored in these cans of soup. Photo: CBP

By Steve Neavling

CBP officers suspected right away that the soup cans they were inspecting didn’t contain a hearty broth. 

While inspecting international express delivery parcels on Wednesday, CBP officers spotted a purple liquid leaking from 12 liter-sized cans labeled “Dutch Canned Vegetable Chicken Soup.”

Using an elemental isotope analysis tool, CBP officers learned that the contents of the cans were MDMA, which is synthetic ecstasy. 

The MDMA, which was destined for Miami, weighed 24 pounds, 4 ounces. 

“Crooked consumers continue to purchase dangerous drugs and controlled substances from unscrupulous international vendors, chemicals that consist of unverified ingredients that could potentially harm or kill our nation’s citizens,” Joseph Martella, CBP’s area port director in Philadelphia, said in a news release. “Customs and Border Protection officers remain steadfast in our commitment to searching through the proverbial haystack to intercept the needle of illicit shipments.”

On an average day in fiscal year 2021, CBP seized or disrupted 4,732 pounds of drugs in the U.S. 

TSA Agent Busted for Allegedly Smuggling Drugs into LAX

By Steve Neavling

A former TSA agent accused of smuggling what he believed was methamphetamine though Los Angeles International Airport was arrested Tuesday. 

Michael Williams, 39, was charged with one count of attempting to distribute methamphetamine. 

Williams was the subject of an undercover operation in 2020 after federal authorities believed he was helping smuggle narcotics past security checkpoints at LAX. On two different occasions during the investigation, William met with a “drug source” to collect a backpack full of what actually was fake meth, which he was to smuggle into LAX and deliver it to a source inside a men’s restroom during his shift. In exchange, he received a total of $8,000 in cash, according to the Justice Department.  

Williams was caught on LAX security cameras leaving the restroom in his uniform before starting his shift, according to the DOJ.  

Williams faces up to 20 years in prison. 

The FBI and DEA assisted in the investigation. 

Miami Man Charged with Opening Fire on FBI Task Force Members

By Steve Neavling

A Miami man has been charged with attempted murder and related offenses after he allegedly opened fire on two FBI task force officers and a local police officer in their unmarked SUV. 

The incident occurred on Jan. 31 while the three officers were on duty in the Homestead-Miami area. At about 8:30 p.m., Robert Mills, Jr., is accused of opening fire on the SUV while he was in the backseat of a parked car. 

The officers sped away to safety. 

Two dozen 9 mm bullet casings were found at the scene. 

Law enforcement later arrested Mills at a home in Miami. Officer recovered two guns, including a 9 mm pistol with an extended magazine in an attic of the house where Mills allegedly stashed it. 

If convicted on all the weapons charges, Mills faces a mandatory minimum of 30 years in prison. The maximum penalty is life in prison. 

On Tuesday, a judge ordered Mills remain in jail without bond pending trial.

Paul Brown Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Mobile Field Office in Alabama

FBI’s Mobile, Ala., Field Office. Photo: FBI

By Steve Neavling

Paul W. Brown has been tapped to serve as special agent in charge of the FBI’s Mobile Field Office in Alabama. 

Before the appointment, Brown was serving as the deputy assistant director in the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate at FBI headquarters.

Brown’s career with the FBI began in 2006, when he was assigned to the Bedford Resident Agency in New Hampshire, a sub-office of the Boston Field Office. He investigated criminal violations and then counterterrorism. He also was the coordinator of the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and was deployed to Iraq to support counterterrorism efforts.

In 2012, Brown became supervisory special agent and moved to the Counterterrorism Division at FBI headquarters. After a promotion, he became unit chief in 2013 and served as a program manager over U.S.-based international terrorism investigations.

In 2015, Brown went to the Jacksonville Field Office in Florida, where he led the North Florida JTTF.

In 2018, he was chosen to serve as the assistant special agent in charge of the cyber, counterintelligence, and crisis response programs of the Phoenix Field Office. A year later, Brown was promoted to section chief and appointed director of the FBI’s High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group. 

In 2020, Brown became deputy assistant director of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, helping lead the bureau’s efforts to prevent and diminish threats of the criminal use of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive materials. 

Before joining the FBI, Brown served as an officer in the U.S. Army and worked as a business consultant for a multinational professional services company. He received a bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and an MBA from Tarleton State University in Texas.

Barr Slams Mueller’s ‘Heavy-Handed Criminal Investigation’ in forthcoming Memoir

Former Attorney General William Barr, via Justice Department.

By Steve Neavling

Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr in his forthcoming memoir criticizes the special counsel probe of Russia and former President Trump’s campaign, calling it a “heavy-handed criminal investigation.”

Barr’s book, “One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General,” takes aim at special counsel Robert Mueller, calling him “the wrong person to investigate it,” Yahoo News reports.

“But he never seemed to have stopped to examine whether there was an adequate basis for pursuing either a counterintelligence or criminal investigation,” Barr writes. 

According to an FBI agent, Barr says, “after Mueller came in, the office quickly developed a ‘Get Trump’ attitude and began with a preexisting conviction that there must be ‘something criminal.” 

Barr also slammed Mueller for staffing his office with Democrats. 

“The whole purpose of appointing Mueller was to assure the public that partisanship would not be involved in the investigation,” Barr wrote. “Mueller defeated the very purpose of his appointment. His staffing decisions engendered deep distrust in half the country. Based on later information about the way the investigation was conducted, those fears were not wholly unjustified.”

Barr said one “glaring omission” of Mueller’s investigation was failing to examine the credibility of Christopher Steele’s dossier. 

“Even though Mueller was supposed to investigate Russian efforts to interfere in the election, he never seemed to have explored the possibility that Steele’s dossier was used as a vector for Russian disinformation,” Barr wrote.

Near the end of the book, Barr describes Mueller’s “trembling” hands and “tremulous” voice, questioning whether Muller “might have an illness,” The New York Times reports.

No, FBI Did Not Entrap Suspects in Michigan Governor Kidnapping Plot, Judge Rules

The original six suspects accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer.

By Steve Neavling

A judge on Tuesday rejected claims by three men accused of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that they were entrapped by the FBI. 

Jackson County Circuit Judge Thomas Wilson declined to dismiss the case, saying the FBI probe did not “escalate” the alleged plot, The Detroit News reports .

“I just cannot, in reviewing this matter, (see) that the government … somehow pressured any one of these individuals to participate in anything, or to get in line with this way of thinking,” Wilson said, referring to their conservative, pro-militia ideology. “That was the very reason that we got the confidential informant in the very beginning was as soon as he had joined the group and learned that they were talking about harming police officers and potentially politicians that he contacted the FBI because of his concern out of what potentially could happen.”

The three defendants, Paul Bellar, 23; Joseph Morrison, 27; and his father-in-law Pete Musico, 44, are set for a trial on Sept. 12.

They are charged with providing material support to terrorism, felony firearm possession, and gang membership. 

They claimed an FBI informant induced them to hatch the plot. 

Two co-defendants, who pleaded guilty to the plot, have agreed to help prosecutors.

Judges Tosses Retaliation Lawsuit by ATF Agent Who Previously Settled Complaint Over Supervisor with Nazi Tattoo

Former ATF Agent Bradford Devlin with a Nazi-themed tattoo, via U.S. District Court.

By Steve Neavling

A federal judge tossed a lawsuit filed by a Black former ATF supervisor in Seattle who claimed she was smeared and retaliated against after she settled a previous lawsuit against the agency. 

Cheryl Bishop, the first woman to serve on the ATF’s Special Response Team, received a $450,000 settlement more than two years ago in a lawsuit in which she alleged the ATF scuttled her appointment to a job at Washington D.C.’s headquarters after she blew the whistle on abusive behavior by Bradley Devlin, who served as the resident agent in charge of the Eugene, and complained about a Nazi-themed tattoo on his arm. Devlin denied being abusive and said he got the Nazi tattoo while working undercover investigating an outlaw white-supremacist biker gang in Ohio. Although the agency offered to pay for the removal of the tattoo, Devlin decided to keep it, calling it a “war trophy.”

In the latest suit, U.S. District Chief Judge Ricardo Martinez said Bishop failed to demonstrate that she was retaliated against, saying there was no adverse impact on her job, The Seattle Times reports.

Bishop plans to appeal.

James Smith Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Houston Field Office

Special Agent in Charge James Smith

By Steve Neavling

James Smith has been named special agent in charge of the FBI’s Houston Field Office. 

Before the appointment, Smith served as a chief of staff to the associate deputy director at FBI headquarters.

Smith’s career at the FBI began in 2004, when he was assigned to the Los Angeles Field Office to investigate drug-trafficking organizations, money laundering, and violent gangs. In addition, he was on the SWAT team and deployed to Baghdad in 2008 to support the FBI’s counterterrorism mission.

In 2010, Smith became supervisory special agent and transferred to the MS-13 National Gang Task Force Unit in the Criminal Investigative Division at headquarters. In 2012, he managed international hostage-takings, major crimes, and fugitive matters for the International Violent Crimes Unit.

In 2013, Smith was back in the Los Angeles Field Office, supervising the Violent Crimes Against Children Squad. In 2014, he became supervisor of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Squad and oversaw Mexican criminal enterprise investigations, the Compton Safe Streets Task Force, and other violent crime task forces.

In 2016, Smith became assistant special agent in charge of the San Antonio Field Office, where he oversaw the national security, intelligence, cyber, language services, surveillance, and aviation programs. 

In 2020, he served as an inspector in the Inspection Division at headquarters. Later in the year, he was named the chief of staff to the associate deputy director at headquarters, where he served as the chief of staff, senior proxy, and counsel to the ADD.

Before the FBI, Smith was an aircraft engine maintenance manager and a power plant engineer for two airlines. He received a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.