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Column: The Manhunt and Capture of Vincent Loonsfoot in North Woods of Michigan

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office. 

Greg Stejskal

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

In the summer of 1988, Vincent Loonsfoot, an American Indian, drove to the Hannahville Potawatomi Reservation near Escanaba, Mich. There he ambushed and shot to death four members of his wife’s family and kidnapped his estranged wife. Loonsfoot then set off into the woods – beginning a highly publicized manhunt through the almost impenetrable forest of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Michigan is made up of two peninsulas, the upper and the lower. The Upper Peninsula extends east from Wisconsin and is bounded on the north by Lake Superior. The Lower Peninsula, the bigger of the two, looks like a mitten. So Michiganders tend to point to their hand when giving directions.

The Lower Peninsula is bounded by Lake Michigan to the west and Lake Huron to the east. The shortest distance between the two peninsulas, the Straits of Mackinac, is where the two lakes meet at the top of the Lower Peninsula. For years the only way to get from one peninsula to the other was by boat or plane. In 1957 the Mackinac Bridge was finished allowing for car and truck traffic between the two.

Although the two peninsulas are now connected, they remain dramatically different. In some ways the U.P. remains the pristine wilderness immortalized in Longfellow’s epic poem, “Hiawatha.” “By the shores of Gitche Gumee….” was Longfellow describing the Lake Superior coast of the U.P.

Vincent Loonsfoot and his wife, Peggy, were living near Baraga on the Keweenaw Bay Reservation. An Ojibwa Indian Tribal Court awarded Peggy sole custody of the Loonsfoot’s 2-year-old daughter, based on a finding that Loonsfoot had repeatedly, physically abused Peggy. Peggy was afraid of Loonsfoot, so without telling him, Peggy moved with their daughter to Escanaba on the south/ Lake Michigan side of the U.P.

Read more »

Were FBI Agent’s Texts Intentionally Destroyed in Gun Trafficking Sting in Philippines?

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The question is: Were the text messages sent by an undercover FBI agent to defendants in an 18-month gun trafficking sting in the Philippines destroyed by the government or was there merely a technical glitch that prevented them from being saved?

Deputy Federal Defender John Littrell suggests in a court document filed Monday in Los Angeles federal court that the government may have destroyed the text messages. The government, according to Littrell’s motion, claims it was a glitch: that the phone the agent used only retained incoming texts from the defendants, but not the outgoing ones by the agent.

Littrell says he needs the FBI agent’s texts to help prove that his client, Sergio Santiago Syjuco of Philippines and two co-defendants, were entrapped by the agent who he says used humiliaton and threats to get them to help traffick guns to the U.S. The trial is pending.

The case has already stirred some controversy. Littrell in filings weeks earlier alleged that the undercover agent used taxpayer dollars to pay for hookers in the Philippines for himself and the three co-defendants, and that some of the prostitutes where they went were underage. The agent responded in court documents, calling the allegations about the hookers pure nonsense.

On this latest allegations, Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Los Angeles said Wednesday night: “The government will respond to the allegations in court.”

In the motion, the defense attorney  writes that the government produced as part of the exculpatory evidence, 419 pages of photographs of incoming text messages sent from the defendants to the undercover agent. However, he noted that the government failed to produce any text messages from the agent to the defendant, evidence he says  could prove the men were entrapped.

Littrell writes in the court filing:

“The government’s bad faith in destroying the evidence should be inferred based on the lack of any persuasive explanation as to why all incoming text messages were preserved by the government, and none of the outgoing messages.”

“”Because the defense of entrapment will be presented to the jury, the precise contents of the statements of both the defendants and the undercover agent and the context in which those statements were made, will be critical at trial. ”

“On September 11, 2012, co-counsel George Buehler inquired of Assistant United States Attorney Margaret Vierbuchen why she had produced only photographs of incoming text messages from the undercover agent’s phone, and not the outgoing messages.  Ms. Vierbuchen responded by stating that the cellular telephone used by the agent preserved only incoming messages and not outgoing

“Defense counsel has discussed the government’s claim with an expert, and the expert has indicated that this is unlikely. The government has offered no other explanation as to why none of the outgoing text messages sent by the undercover agent during his 18 month investigation have been preserved.”

Usually text message on phones show a string of incoming and outgoing text messages.

Littrell also wrote that even if the government was correct in that there was a glitch,  it should have realized it and “replaced the agent’s phone with one that does record outgoing text messages in order to preserve what was obviously important evidence. Moreover, because the government preserved the incoming text messages by taking photographs of them as they appeared on the screen of the agent’s phone, why would the government fail to similarly take photographs of the outgoing text messages as they appeared?”

Littrell could not be immediately reached for comment.

Read Defense Attorney’s Motion

FBI/NYPD Sting Nabs Man Plotting to Blow up Federal Reserve in Manhattan

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A Bangladeshi national has been arrested for in an FBI-NYPD sting for plotting to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in Lower Manhattan, the New York Daily News reports.

Quazi Nafis, 21, was arrested Wednesday morning. He had parked a van filled with what he thought were explosives, but were actually not, and tried to detonate the material, the News reported.

He was arrested at the scene.

 

 

Lawmakers Upset Over Rift Between Reno ATF and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nevada

Sen. Grassley/official photo

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Three members of Congress are increasingly putting pressure on Attorney General Eric Holder to explain the U.S. Attorney’s  dysfunctional relationship with the Reno-based ATF office, Main Justice reports.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nevada has refused to prosecute ATF cases in the Reno office, leaving as many as a dozen cases untouched..

“The Justice Department has yet to respond to any of Congress’ questions about what happened in Reno for more than a year,” Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a a statement. “It’s an abdication of responsibility on the part of the Justice Department, and if these crimes weren’t prosecuted, whether because of actions of the U.S. Attorney or the ATF, the people of Nevada should know why.”

Two Nevada lawmakers joined the call for answers.

The cause of the strained relationship remains unclear, but agents have virtually abandoned the Reno, according Main Justice.

Authorities Detain Daughter of Mexico’s Most Wanted Drug Lord

Joaquin Guzman

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 Known as Mexico’s most powerful drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has eluded U.S. authorities since he famously broke out of a Mexican jail in a laundry cart in 2001 and rebuilt the notorious Sinaloa cartel.

But authorities may find clues about his whereabouts after border patrol officers detained the kingpin’s daughter Friday trying to cross the border on foot from Tijuana, Mexico, with a counterfeit Visa and false name, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Citing court records, Reuters said Alejandrina Gisselle Guzman-Salazar was trying to enter the U.S. to give birth to her child in Los Angeles.

According to Mexico’s attorney general’s office, Guzman-Salazar, a Mexican citizen, is not wanted for any crimes.

Her father, Guzman, however, is believed to be worth $1 billion and is running the most potent drug cartel in Mexico.

Marijuana Supporters Argue in Federal Court That DEA Has Ignored Research on Drug

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 Supporters of marijuana rights attacked the DEA’s tight regulation of pot in a potentially landmark case that could change the drug’s classification, Reuters reports.

Joseph Elford, lawyer for Americans for Safe Access, said the DEA has essentially ignored scientific research that suggests marijuana is safer than heroin and has medicinal value.

“This game of ‘gotcha’ will continue indefinitely unless this court intervenes,” Elford told a three-judge panel of the appeals court in Washington, D.C.

The DEA countered that research is not all conclusive and continued the line of rhetoric that marijuana is unsafe.

One of the judges appeared to agree with the DEA.

“Don’t we have to defer to the agency?” asked Judge Merrick Garland. “We’re not scientists. They are.”

Canadian Border Patrol Officer Injured in Shooting at Washington Crossing; Gunman Dead in Apparent Suicide

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The driver of a white van shot a Canadian Border Services Agency officer in the neck before apparently turning the gun on himself at Canadian crossing in Washington state Tuesday, reports KIROTV.

The man, whose name was not released, died at the scene of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, and the female agent was injured and airlifted from the scene to a hospital in Canada.

The van was driving into Canada from the U.S., KIROTV said.

Her identity and condition were not known this morning, but CTV News said she was breathing on the way to the hospital and appeared to be in serious condition.

What prompted the shooting remains unclear.

“This event is a sobering reminder of the dangerous conditions faced daily by the men and women of our law enforcement agencies as they work to protect the safety and security of Canadians,” Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said in a statement to CTV News.

Earlier in the day, Cpl. Bert Paquet said, “The first report at the scene revealed that a male, a lone male, had shot an officer in her booth. At the instant following the shooting of the officer, the lone male had been pronounced dead at the scene from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

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