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$160,000 Armored Car Failed to Protect Slain ICE Agent Jaime Zapata

ICE Agent Jaime Zapata killed in Mexico/ice photo

 By Nick Miroff and William Booth
Washington Post.

MEXICO CITY — When U.S. special agent Jaime Zapata was shot dead one year ago on a notorious stretch of highway in central Mexico, he was driving a $160,000 armored Chevy Suburban, built to exacting government standards, designed to defeat high-velocity gunfire, fragmentation grenades and land mines.

But the vehicle had a basic, fatal flaw.

Forced off the road in a well-coordinated ambush, surrounded by drug cartel gunmen brandishing AK-47s, Zapata and his partner, Victor Avila, rolled to a stop. Zapata put the vehicle in park.

The door locks popped open.

To read full story click here.

 

Popularity of Synthetic Pot on the Rise

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

New trends indicate an increase in the use of dangerous synthetic drugs not currently covered under federal drug laws, reports Business Wire. The new drugs come from the cannabinoid family, closely related to marijuana.

“Simply making the new drugs illegal is not likely to make them go away,” said Dr. Barry Logan, Director of NMS Labs Designer Drug Initiative. “There is now an established market for these products alongside traditional recreational drugs.”

“The latest trend we are seeing is the appearance of completely new drugs. These new drugs are different in design from the current synthetic drugs and alter the brain’s chemistry by amplifying the effects of normal brain chemicals, producing the same marijuana-like effects,” said Logan.

To read more click here.

Physician Handed Four Life Sentences for Fatal Prescriptions

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A Chicago Physician was handed a steep sentence on Tuesday for his role in the deaths of four individuals, the FBI said.

Paul H. Volkman was sentenced to four consecutive terms of life imprisonment, the FBI said.  He was convicted of “illegally prescribing and dispensing pain pills outside the scope of a legitimate medical practice,” the FBI said, resulting in the death of four people between 2003 and 2005.

The 64-year-old was convicted in May of 2011 of 18 crimes, receiving a life sentence on each count as well as being ordered to forfeit $1.2 million. Among the 70 witnesses presented at trial were pharmacists that refused to fill Volkman’s prescriptions, law enforcement officials who investigated the deaths and  Volkman’s employees.

“Volkman was the physician at the center of a criminal scheme to distribute millions of controlled substances to hundreds of individuals in exchange for cash—a scheme that brought addiction, diversion, and death to southeastern Ohio and beyond,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tim Oakley and Adam Wright wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court. “During the course of this conspiracy, Volkman was the top physician purchaser of oxycodone in the country.”

The Black Guerrilla Family Gang Aimed to Show a Way Out of the Criminal Lifestyle—Until its Criminal Activities Brought it Down

Illustration Alex Fine/ Baltimore City Paper

By Van Smith
Baltimore City Paper

BALTIMORE — “It’s hard to promote black nationalism when you have a black man in the White House,” Thomas Bailey said on Jan. 6, 2009, weeks before Barack Obama was sworn in as the first African-American President of the United States. Bailey, a Maryland inmate serving life for murder, couldn’t have known at the time how prophetic his words were, or that they would end up memorialized in court documents.

As Obama was movings into the White House, court documents show that federal investigators with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Maryland—a unit dubbed the Special Investigations Group (DEA-SIG)—were kicking into gear a sprawling probe of the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF), the black-nationalist prison gang for which Bailey ran “the day-to-day operations” at North Branch Correctional Institution (NBCI), a maximum-security prison near Cumberland.

When Bailey uttered those prescient words, he was talking over a prison phone at NBCI with Eric Marcell Brown (“Eric Marcell Brown,” Mobtown beat, May 7, 2009), who was on a cell phone at the Maryland Transition Center (MTC), a correctional facility in Baltimore, where Brown was close to finishing a lengthy prison stint for a 1992 drug-dealing conviction. Brown, DEA-SIG investigators wrote in court documents, was “in command of day-to-day operations” in Maryland for the BGF, a national prison gang founded in California in the 1960s by inmate/radical George Jackson, a Black Panther Party member who espoused the black-nationalist view that African-Americans needed to build separate economic and social structures for themselves.

To read the full story click here.

Romney Gets Secret Service Detail

Romney at CPAC 2011. Courtesy Gage Skidmore.

Romney at CPAC 2011. Courtesy Gage Skidmore.

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

After months of campaigning, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney will now have the protection of the Secret Service, reports ABC News.

While there are no specific threats to the candidate, the increased  crowds at Romney’s speaking events warrant the added security, according to ABC.

Former Republican hopeful Herman Cain, who has since dropped out of the race, had the Secret Service protection. Now, Romney will be the only candidate with the Secret Service watching out for him.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST:

 

Trial Date Set for Mobster “Whitey” Bulger

Whitey Bulger/fbi

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

And now for the moment all the followers of Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger have been waiting for.

Bloomberg news reports that the federal trial for Bulger,82, who was on the lam for 16 years, has been set for Nov. 5 in Boston. He is accused of killing at least 19 people.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler set the trial date over the objections of Bulger’s court-appointed attorney, J.W. Carney Jr., according to Bloomberg news.

Bloomberg reported that “prosecutors have inundated him with 580,000 pages of documents and 921 tapes of secret wiretaps related to the 48-count racketeering indictment.”

“We can’t possibly be ready,” Carney told the judge. His client didn’t attend today’s hearing.

 

Calif. Couple Sentenced for Enslaving Illegal Immigrants

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A California couple was sentenced to 18 months each for harboring illegal aliens and forcing them to work in substandard conditions, the FBI said in a statement on Monday.

Maximino Morales, 46, and his wife, Melinda Morales, 48, of Paso Robles, Calif., had the victims working at their elder care facilities, according to the FBI. “The Filipino victims in this case were lured to the United States with false promises and were essentially performing slave labor,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr.

The couple, also natives of the Philippines, pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens, admitting they recruited the victims with promises of live-in caregiver work at the four elder care facilities they ran, known as “Four M’s, Inc.” A Philippines contact secured fake visas to get the victims to the US

“Some of the aliens worked alone in 24-hour shifts…as caregivers at one of the Four M’s elder care residential facilities for less than minimum wage,” according to plea agreements filed in this case. “All of the aliens lived in the care facilities, and some of the aliens slept in a closet, on a sofa, and in a walled-off portion of an unheated, attached garage.” Threatened with calls to the police or immigration officials if they tried to leave, the victims’ pay was credited against the “debt” they were told they owed, according to the FBI.

The operation ended when a concerned member of the community tipped of authorities. In addition to the prison sentences, the couple were ordered to pay $600,000 in restitution to nine victims.

Book Review: J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI’s War on Civil Liberties

By Ben Jacobs
The Daily Beast

 Tim Weiner’s fast-paced new book, ‘Enemies: A History of the FBI,’ explores almost a century of the agency’s domestic spying, infringing on the Fourth Amendment, abuse of power, and handling of famous cases like the Pentagon Papers and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Many books about the FBI focus on J. Edgar Hoover’s psychology, from his mother issues to his alleged predilection for dressing in drag. Enemies: A History of the FBI, by Tim Weiner, is not one of these. There is no racy gossip about Hoover or exciting tidbits about famed Depression-era gangsters like John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd whom Hoover and the bureau helped catch.

Instead, Weiner’s history has an exciting and fast-paced narrative that focuses on the bureau’s perennial enemy, the Fourth Amendment, and civil liberties generally.

To read more click here.