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Are Drones the Drug Mules of the Future? DEA Says It’s Not Cost-Effective

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The recent discovery of a drone carrying methamphetamine near the U.S. border in Mexico has raised some eyebrows.

But the DEA said drones will not become tomorrow’s drug mules because they are not cost-effective, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“This method will only allow a small amount of drugs to be flown at a time, and that coupled with the ease of detection, does not make this method very profitable to these drug trafficking organizations whose motivation is money,” DEA spokeswoman Amy Roderick said.

It wasn’t immediately clear where the recent drone was heading, though one media report suggested the unmanned aircraft system was carrying drugs from one Tijuana neighborhood to another.

“While we would not call using drones a new trend in smuggling, we do know that drug trafficking organizations will use any and all means to get their drugs in the United States,” said Roderick.

ATF Searches for Clues to What Sparked Mansion Blaze That Killed 6

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The ATF is looking for clues to determine what caused a mammoth fire that gutted an Annapolis mansion and is believed to have killed six people, including four children, on Monday.

The Washington Post reports that two more bodies were found in the wreckage Thursday.

The mother, Stacey Boone, posted on Facebook on Thursday: “I never knew that I could hurt this badly. It’s unreal. All one big nightmare that I can’t wake up from.”

As another day passed since the fire, investigators still had no idea what caused the fire, said Anne Arundel Fire Capt. Russell Davies Jr.

“Until we make a determination one way or another, it’s going to stay a criminal investigation,” Davies said.

Also on Thursday, the ATF began to deploy dogs to smell for explosives.

Other Stories of Interest


Microsoft Turned over Data on Charlie Hebdo to FBI in Less Than Hour

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Microsoft took less than one hour to provide the FBI with data connected to the Charlie Hebdo investigation, an attorney for the software giant said Tuesday, The Los Angeles Times reports.

After concluding the request was “proper,” Microsoft gave the FBI the information in within about 45 minutes.

Microsoft attorney Brad Smith said the quick turnover underscores that private companies can work with law enforcement.

But Smith emphasized that new laws expanding the government’s right to access information from the Internet could sacrifice civil liberties.

“If those in government want to shift the line between safety and privacy, the appropriate path is to do so by changing the law rather than asking those of us in the private sector to shift this balance ourselves,” he said. “Democratic societies, not private companies, need to decide on the balances to be struck between public values such as public safety and personal privacy.”

Republicans Mull Alternatives to Shutting Off Funding to Homeland Security

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The GOP is considering alternative ways to disrupt President Obama’s immigration than cutting off funding to the Homeland Security Department at a time when the nation is on high alert for terrorists, Politico reports.

Republicans are exploring several options, including suing to overturn the president’s executive decision to prevent millions of undocumented immigrants from being deported. Another option is approving a short-term budget for DHS while considering other options.

“Either way, Republican leaders hope to reach a deal that would allow Homeland Security funding to continue past Feb. 27, without making it appear to their right flank that they are caving to the White House,” Pollitico wrote.

Still, some Republicans aren’t balking and want to take a hard line against the president.

“How Republicans resolve the fight will help answer a lingering question for their new congressional majority: Will they use their new power to go toe-to-toe with the White House or pick and choose their political battles even if that risks riling up their right flank?” Politico added.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Finishes Investigation of Ferguson Police Shooting That Killed Unarmed Michael Brown

Michael Brown

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI has wrapped up its long-anticipated investigation into the police shooting of unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, a U.S. official told the Associated Press.

It’s not yet clear whether the Justice Department will pursue a federal civil rights case against former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. But legal experts and government officials agree that it’s unlikely that charges will be filed because of the incredibly difficult legal standard.

The New York Times reported that Justice Department lawyers plan to recommend against prosecuting Wilson, but that Attorney General Eric H. Holder has not yet made up his mind.

A grand jury cleared Wilson in the Aug. 9 death of Brown, setting off protests nationwide.

Border Patrol Fatally Shoots Drug Smuggling Suspect in South Texas

istock photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Agents returned fire Wednesday morning and killed a drug smuggling suspect near Roma, Texas, the Associated Press reports. 

The incident happened after Border Patrol agents came under fire while investigating suspected drug smugglers in the desert, the agency said.

The agency, which has pledged to be more transparent about agent-involved shootings, didn’t divulge many details Wednesday evening.

Border Patrol has come under fire for what some critics charge is a quick-trigger mentality, even when the threat is minimal.

We’ll update this story as more information becomes available.

FBI Agent: No Direct Evidence Ex-CIA Officer Leaked Info to New York Times

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

An FBI agent testified Wednesday that there is no direct evidence that an ex-CIA officer leaked classified information to a New York Times reporter, the Associated Press reports

But the agent said CIA man Jeffrey Sterling was often in contact with journalist James Risen as prosecutors finished up their case based on phone and email contacts. Prosecutors recently declined to force Risen to testify.

Sterling is charged with leaking information about a classified mission that Risen wrote about in his 2006 book “State of War.”

Sterling has long denied being the source.

Border Patrol Agent Accused of Watching Female Co-Workers from Bathroom Camera

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A Border Patrol agent is accused of installing a small camera in the women’s bathroom to catch a peak of female co-workers at a compound in San Ysirdo, Calif., ABC 10 News reports.

Officials said the agent, who has not been identified, works with internal affairs.

He has been charged with a misdemeanor of peeping with a recording device.

Border Patrol didn’t immediately respond for comment.

The case is being handled by the district attorney.