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Archive for April, 2022

Biden to Replace Acting ATF Director with Top Prosecutor in Arizona

By Steve Neavling

President Biden will pick Gary M. Restaino, the top prosecutor in Arizona, to serve as interim director of the ATF until a permanent one is confirmed, the Associated Press reports.

Biden’s administration is removing the ATF’s acting director, Marvin G. Richardson, who has been accused by gun advocates of cozying up to the gun industry.

Richardson will remain at the agency and advise Restaino, the AP reported.  

The move comes about a week after Biden announced he was nominating Steven Dettelbach, a former U.S. attorney, to serve as the permanent director.

Biden’s first pick to lead the ATF, David Chipman, couldn’t get enough votes in the Senate for confirmation last year. 

AG Garland Releases Statement on 27th Anniversary of Oklahoma City Bombing

Attorney General Merrick Garland. (Photo: DOJ)

By Steve Neavling

On the 27th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland released the following statement:

“Every year on this day, we remember those who were killed when a domestic terrorist bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, taking the lives of 168 people, including 19 children, and seriously injuring hundreds of others.

“And every year on this day, we commemorate the strength of the Oklahoma City community that came together in the face of that loss.

“The Justice Department apprehended, prosecuted, and convicted the men responsible for the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. As we did, we never forgot the victims, in whose memories we worked.

“Twenty-seven years later, the Justice Department remains vigilant in the face of the threat of domestic terrorism. We believe that the time to address threats of violence is before the violence occurs, so we are putting our resources into disrupting terrorist plots. We also remain committed to holding accountable those who perpetrate such attacks, which are aimed at rending the fabric of our democratic society and driving us apart.

“Today, as we remember Oklahoma City, we must stand together against the kind of hatred that leads to tragedies like that one. Today, we are also reminded of the grace and resilience demonstrated by the Oklahoma City community, which refused to allow hate and division to win.”

Feds Indict 2 Men Accused of Impersonating Federal Agents, Lavishing Secret Service with Gifts

By Steve Neavling

Two men accused of impersonating federal agents and providing expensive gifts to Secret Service officers and agents for the past two years have been indicted by a federal grand jury. 

Arian Taherzadeh, 36, and Haider Ali, 40, were charged with false impersonation of a federal officer and possessing a large-capacity ammunition device, Business Insider reports.

According to the indictment, the men possessed an illegal magazine for a Glock firearm, and Taherzadeh had five illegal magazines for a Sig Sauer firearm.

They live in a luxury apartment building in Southeast Washington, where several Secret Service agents and other law enforcement officials also resided. They are free of jail on home confinement. 

They are accused of falsely claiming they worked for Homeland Security and were on a special task force investigating gang and violence connected to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The pair allegedly posed as law enforcement in order to build a relationship with real agents. 

Taherzadeh gave Secret Service officers and agents rent-free apartments, surveillance systems, a drone, a TV, iPhones, a generator, a gun case and other policing equipment, according to prosecutors. Taherzadeh is also accused of offering to buy a $2,000 assault rifle for a Secret Service agent assigned to protect the first lady. 

Four Secret Service agents who associated with the pair have been placed on leave pending an investigation. 

TSA Stops Enforcing Mask Mandate After Federal Judge Strikes it Down

By Steve Neavling

By Steve Neavling

The TSA stopped enforcing its mask mandate on planes, trains and other forms of public transportation after a federal judge struck down the requirement. 

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of the Middle District in Florida said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overstepped its authority and failed to adequately explains its reason for the mandate, Politico reports.

“It is indisputable that the public has a strong interest in combating the spread of Covid-19,” Mizelle wrote. “In pursuit of that end, the CDC issued the mask mandate. But the mandate exceeded the CDC statutory authority, improperly invoked the good cause exception to notice and comment rulemaking, and failed to adequately explain its decisions. Because our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in the pursuit of desirable ends, the court declares unlawful and vacates the mask mandate.”

The Biden administration has not yet determined how it will respond to the ruling, but for now, masks won’t be required on planes, trains and other forms of transportation. 

“Today’s court decision means CDC’s public transportation masking order is not in effect at this time,” an administration official said. “Therefore, TSA will not enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs at this time. CDC recommends that people continue to wear masks in indoor public transportation settings.”

Spencer Evans Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office

FBI Special Agent in Charge Spencer Evans

By Steve Neavling

Spencer L. Evans has been named special agent in charge of the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office. 

Before the appointment, he served as a deputy assistant director in the Human Resources Division at FBI headquarters.

Evans’ career with the FBI began in 2004, when he was assigned to the New Haven Field Office in Connecticut, investigating white-collar crime and health care fraud. He moved to the San Diego Field Office in 2008 to investigate health care fraud, international terrorism, issues stemming from Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, and other violations. He also served as a crisis negotiator for the FBI and the San Diego Police Department.

In 2011, Evans became supervisory special agent and served a joint-duty assignment to the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Fusion Center in Merrifield, Virginia. In 2012, he became unit chief in the Counterterrorism Division at FBI headquarters.

In 2014, Evans became supervisory senior resident agent for three offices under the Jacksonville Field Office in Florida. He oversaw bureau operations for 10 counties in northwest Florida, managing the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Child Exploitation Task Force, and Financial Crimes Task Force. He also was Jacksonville’s domestic terrorism program coordinator.

In 2016, Evans became assistant special agent in charge of the Oklahoma City Field Office, where he oversaw programs including cyber, intelligence, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, crisis response, and community outreach.

In 2019, he became section chief of the Office of Private Sector at FBI headquarters, where he oversaw the bureau’s strategic engagement with the private and academia sectors. 

In 2020, he was appointed to deputy assistant director of the Human Resources Division, where he was in charge of the sections responsible for employee health, performance, payroll, benefits, and leadership selection.

Before the FBI, Evans worked in the banking industry. He received a bachelor’s degree in finance from Brigham Young University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern California.

Jurors Bought ‘Stupidity Defense’ in Whitmer Kidnap Case, Retired Agent says

By Allan Lengel

Jurors in the Gretchen Whitmer kidnap case seemed to buy the argument that the four defendants weren’t very sophisticated or capable of pulling off a complex plot to snuff out the governor, says retired Michigan FBI agent Greg Stejskal.

Rather than the entrapment defense, “it would seem more to me that the stupidity defense was successful,” he says in an interview with ticklethewire.com Editor Allan Lengel, who is also editor of Deadline Detroit.

Stejskal is a columnist for ticklethewire.com.

DEA Warns That Fentanyl Is Causing ‘Mass-Overdose Events’ Nationwide

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

By Steve Neavling

The DEA warned local authorities about “mass-overdose events” from fentanyl. 

In a letter to local, state and federal law enforcement, the DEA said there has been a nationwide spike in fentanyl-related mass overdoses, which is defined as three or more overdoses in the same location within a close time frame.

The DEA reported at least seven confirmed mass overdose events nationwide, which resulted in 58 total overdoses and 29 overdose-related deaths. 

The events include six overdoses at a rental property in Wilton Manors, Fla., 21 overdoses – three of them fatal – at a homeless shelter in Austin, Texas, and 10 overdoses – nine of them fatal – on the same block in Washington D.C. 

In many of the events, fentanyl was mixed with cocaine or crack-cocaine, and the drug users did not know they were ingesting fentanyl. 

“These mass-overdose events typically occur in one of the following recurring scenarios: when drug dealers sell their product as “cocaine,” when it actually contains fentanyl; or when drug dealers sell fake prescription pills designed to appear nearly identical to legitimate prescriptions,” the letter states. “This is creating a nationwide trend where many overdose victims are dying after unknowingly ingesting fentanyl.” 

Homeland Security Reports Record Number of Encounters with Undocumented Immigrants

Border Patrol agent. Photo: CBP

By Steve Neavling

A record number of undocumented immigrants were detained at the Southwest border last month, according to recently filed court records.

Homeland Security reported that CBP encountered 221,303 migrants at the southern border in March, which is a 28% increase from Mach 2021. 

By comparison, fewer than 35,000 migrants were encountered at the border in March 2020. 

Federal authorities are worried about a surge at the border as the Biden administration plans to rescind Title 42 health authority over undocumented immigrants. Under the current policy, migrants can be expelled quickly without a hearing on their asylum claims. 

In March, 123,304 immigrants were expelled under Title 42.