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Georgia ATF Undercover Operation Nets 245 Guns and 89 Defendants

U.S. Atty. Edward Tarver/campaign photo

U.S. Atty. Edward Tarver

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Undercover ATF agents purchased 245 firearms from people in Glynn County, Ga., including a number of convicted felons, resulting in federal and state charges against 89 people, the agency announced Tuesday.

Dubbed “Operation Thunderbolt”, undercover agents over a nine month period purchased 245 firearms, including handguns, rifles, assault rifles and sawed-off shotguns along with about $200,000 worth of illegal drugs, including more than 3 pounds of cocaine, over 1,500 ecstasy pills, over 800 oxycodone pills and a quantity of methadone, ATF said.

ATF said a number of guns purchased by agents appeared to be stolen.

“Operation Thunderbolt was a bold effort to protect public safety by removing violent criminals who sell guns and drugs within our communities,” U.S. Attorney Edward Tarver said.

Opinions Mixed Inside FBI Over Test Cheating Scandal

Robert Mueller/fbi photo

FBI Dir. Robert S. Mueller III/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — To cheat or not to cheat on an open-book exam.

That is no longer an issue among FBI agents around the country now that the test is long over. Now the question is, should those who did cheat on the FBI exam last year — and they could number in the hundreds — be punished? Opinions inside the bureau are mixed and plentiful.

“I think someone should get punished,” one FBI agent, who asked not to be identified, told AOL News, adding that the instructions for the test on bureau procedures were clear: You had to take it by yourself. “There are agents who worked hard and took the test on their own. There’s no excuse.”

But others disagree, including one agent who said it was “just goofy” to be accused of cheating on an open-book, multiple-choice exam. Another agent concurred, saying “the whole test is a joke” and that some employees may have found the test-taking instructions confusing and should simply be required to retake the exam if they collaborated with others.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens Dies in Plane Crash: Final Leg of Life Was Bumpy Including Fed Indictment

Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens during his last campaign

Ex-Sen. Ted Stevens during his last campaign

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The final leg of ex-Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens’ life was a bumpy one filled with misfortune and fortune.

He was convicted on federal public corruption charges, but fortunately for him,  the case was tossed out for prosecutorial misconduct.  He lost a bid for re-election after 40 years in the Senate. And then on Monday, he was among five people who died in a plane crash in remote Southwest Alaska.

The Anchorage Daily News on Tuesday reported the death, saying three others aboard survived.

Stevens, 86, who was considered a dogged advocate for Alaska, landed in big trouble after federal authorities indicted him in July 2008 on public corruption charges.  On Oct. 27,  days before the election, he was convicted. He went on to lose his bid for re-election.

But fortune returned. Five months later,  the Justice Department moved to dismiss the case on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct. Simply put: the case was a disaster and an utter embarrassment for the government.

Engineer Guilty of Selling Military Secrets to China

Honolulu_mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former engineer who worked on the B-2 Stealth bomb was convicted in Honolulu Monday of selling military secrets to China to help that nation develop a stealth cruise missile, the Associated Press reported.

Authorities said the engineer, Noshir Gowadia,66, pocketed at least $110,000 from the transactions and used the money to pay the mortgage on a multimillion-dollar ocean-view home on Maui’s north shore, AP reported.

He had been in federal custody since 2005. His lawyers had argued that the materials he gave to China came from unclassified and public information, AP reported.

“Mr. Gowadia provided some of our country’s most sensitive weapons-related designs to the Chinese government for money,” U.S. Attorney David Kris said in a statement.

“Today, he is being held accountable for his actions. This prosecution should serve as a warning to others who would compromise our nation’s military secrets for profit.”

Drug Cartels Operate Freely in Small Calif. Towns

In these small little towns in California, not only are some of the politicians extremely corrupt, but they’ve become places where gangs and Mexican and Colombian drug cartels operate freely.  Investigative reporter Jeffrey Anderson examines the problem.
CALIFornia map
By Jeffrey Anderson
Washington Times

BELL, Calif. —  The gang graffiti that coats freeway overpasses, exit signs and the concrete banks of the Los Angeles River attests to a problem more alarming than the recent revelations of hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual salaries for public officials.

Street gangs, a powerful prison gang known as the Mexican Mafia and even more powerful drug-trafficking organizations based in Mexico and Colombia operate freely in this small city and the similarly sized cities surrounding it.

News reports in recent weeks have focused on three Bell city officials who resigned on July 26 amid revelations that they were being paid up to $800,000 per year in a city of 36,000 where the average annual household income is less than $40,000. California Attorney General Jerry Brown on Monday announced that he issued subpoenas to current and former members of Bell’s city government, adding that his office also is investigating allegations of “possible illegal election conduct by Bell officials.”

To read full story click here.

ICE Agents Vote “No Confidence” in Head of Agency

John Morton

John Morton

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The union that represents field agents at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is giving the top management an icy  “vote of no confidence”, the Washington Times reported.

The paper reported that the rank and file vote was unanimous, and that agents say the leadership had “abandoned” its core mission to support a political agenda favoring amnesty.

The Washington Times said the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council of the American Federation of Government Employees voted 259-0 for resolution expressing a lack of confidence in the head of ICE, Assistant Secretary John Morton and Phyllis Coven, assistant director for the agency’s office of detention policy and planning.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI Backlog of DNA Cases Mounting

DNA code analysisBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The FBI has a backlog of 3,211 forensic DNA cases, which would take two years to eliminate if there was no new staff or new cases, according to a report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General.

“The forensic DNA case backlog at the FBI Laboratory can have significant effects,” the report said. “Backlogs may delay legal proceedings that are waiting on the results of DNA analysis.

Read more »

Louisiana Drug Trafficker Used Dog and Cockfights to Recruit for His Drug Ring

louisiana-mapBy Matt Castello
ticklethewire.com

For a big-time Louisiana drug trafficker, the dog and cockfighting ring served as the ideal venue to help expand his drug ring.

Pedro Mendez Ramos, of Church Point, La., who authorities described as “an avid pit bull and cock fighter”, used more than 300 gamecocks and 60 pit bulls as a recruiting tool for the drug organization he headed up.

Late last week, Ramos, 41, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Lake Charles, La., to 12.5 years in prison.

Authorities said the organization transported and distributed cocaine and marijuana from the Brownsville, Tex. area to the Church Point, La. area and then to Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, and other parts of Louisiana.

Members of the Gulf Cartel, a Matamoros, Mexico based drug organization, directly supplied drugs to Ramos’ crew, authorities said.

An investigation nicknamed “Operation Fowl Play” and “Rio Gallo” netted indictments of 18 men (including Ramos) on a variety of drug trafficking, money laundering and firearms charges.

The DEA, working together with local and state law enforcement, seized approximately 111 kilograms of cocaine from the drug organization along with $1.8 million in cash and about $1 million in property in Louisiana and Texas, authorities said.

The DEA said it’s not unusual for there to be a connection between dog fighting and other illicit activities including drug sales.

“I don’t want to say it goes hand in hand, but its safe to say there’s an overlap” between dog fighting and other forms of crime, Special Agent Roberto Bryan, a DEA spokesman in New Orleans told ticklethewire.com.