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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.

FBI Agents Handling Civil Rights Investigation of Eric Garner’s Death Are Experienced With Such Cases

Eric Garner with his children, via National Action Network

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI team handling the civil rights investigation into the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man killed by a white NYPD officer, has plenty of experience with long-term probes and public corruption cases. 

CNN reports that the New York-based agents are taking a “free look” into the July death of Garner, who was killed while being placed in an illegal chokehold.

A grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer led to protests nationwide.

One of the agents specializes in long-term investigation in the white-collar crime division.

The FBI will be reviewing the actions of the officers to determine whether the civil rights of Garner were violated.

 

Man Awaiting Death Penalty for Shooting FBI Agent Is Ordered Released from Prison

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A man convicted in the 1990 shooting death of an FBI special agent has been ordered released from death row in Nevada, KLAS-TV reports. 

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du said Jose Echavarria must be released within 60 days barring the prosecutors willingness to retry the case.

Du said then-Clark County District Judge Jack Lehman never disclosed his bias, thereby violating the constitutional rights of the defendant.

Echavarria is accused of shooting Special Agent John Bailey in a bank in Las Vegas while the two wrestled for a gun.

Turns out, Judge Lehman had been investigated by Bailey earlier and never disclosed the relationship.

“The evidence submitted by Echavarria shows, beyond any dispute, that Agent Bailey had been centrally involved in conducting the investigation of the trial judge, and that the alleged fraud and the FBI investigation were of such significance that they would have had serious implications for the trial judge,” Du wrote.

Justice Department to Pay $134,000 to Woman After DEA Set Up Bogus Facebook Page

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A controversial tactic by federal investigators from the DEA to create a bogus Facebook page using real information from a suspect has turned into a $134,000 settlement for the woman targeted on the social media page, the Associated Press reports.

In the settlement with Sondra Arquiett, the DEA still did not admit wrongdoing.

The case has prompted the Justice Department to review how it handled the case and whether it was appropriate to set up a fake account.

“This settlement demonstrates that the government is mindful of its obligation to ensure the rights of third parties are not infringed upon in the course of its efforts to bring those who commit federal crimes to justice,” Richard Hartunian, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York, said in a statement.

“It also takes into account emerging personal privacy concerns in the age of social media, and represents a fair resolution of plaintiff’s claims,” he added.

Stejskal: The FBI and Drugs in the Beginning

Greg Stejskal

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

Webster Bivens may have been a drug dealer, but his place in law enforcement history is not proportional to his status as an alleged dealer.

In the fall of 1965, Federal Bureau of Narcotics agents raided Bivens’ Brooklyn apartment. The FBN agents had neither an arrest warrant nor a search warrant. The agents arrested Bivens and handcuffed him in front of his family. They also allegedly threatened his family and in the terminology of Bivens’ later law suit searched his apartment from “stem to stern.” No drugs were found, and the charges filed after Bivens’ arrest were dismissed.

Bivens apparently had a litigious streak and brought a civil action against the “six unknown agents” of the FBN based on the violation of his rights under the 4th Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized.”

Up until that time, a cause of action could not be brought against the US or its agents except as specifically authorized under certain statutes, and that was the ruling of the lower courts in Bivens’ action. But the Bivens case made it to the US Supreme Court, and in 1971, the Court decided that the US could be sued if the acts of its agents violated the Constitutional rights of a person. This not only created a cause of action, it fostered a perception that federal drug agents were running amok and were incapable of doing more than simple “buy-bust” investigations.

As the Bivens case worked its way through the courts, the whole approach to the federal war on drugs was being evaluated. The FBN agents who arrested Bivens were part of the Department of the Treasury. Presumably because drugs like alcohol were viewed as taxable commodities even though the principal drugs being targeted at that time were heroin, cocaine and marijuana, and were illegal per se.

Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Was Created

In order to unify the federal effort against illegal drugs, one agency was created in 1968, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), and it would now be an investigative agency in the Department of Justice. Then in 1973 the BNDD was renamed the Drug Enforcement Administration, and it remained in the DOJ. Although the perception of drug agents out of control was mostly inaccurate, DEA did have limited resources and was under pressure to produce results in terms of arrests and drug seizures. This made it difficult to dedicate their limited resources to long-term investigations targeting the upper echelons of drug trafficking organizations.

In the meantime the FBI was learning to utilize tools provided by the Omnibus Crime Act of 1968. This lengthy act was intended to provide means for federal law enforcement to investigate organized crime. For the FBI that meant La Costa Nostra, the Mafia. One particular part of the act (Title III) prescribed the process to legally intercept wire, oral or electronic communications – electronic surveillance or elsur for short. It included telephone wiretaps and surreptitiously placed microphones or bugs – generally referred to as a “wire.”

The probable cause required to get judicial approval for elsur was by design a difficult standard to meet. The affidavit documenting this “special “ probable cause often ran well in excess of 100 pages. Among other things, there had to be a showing that other investigative techniques wouldn’t work. For example if a drug dealer would only deal with someone he has known for years, it would be very difficult to get him to deal with an undercover agent.

Once the affidavit & accompanying order are written, they have to be submitted to the Attorney General of the US or a specifically designated Assistant AG for approval. If they are approved, they then have to be authorized by a US District Court Judge in the district where the elsur is to be conducted. The elsurs are limited to 30 days, but can be renewed based on an updated affidavit.

Read more »

Second Trial Begins in Virginia in Case Against Ex-FBI Agent Accused of Shooting Wife

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A former FBI agent accused of killing his wife is expected to stand trial for the second time beginning today, the Associated Press reports

Arthur B. Gonzalez, 43, is charged in Stafford County, Va.,  with second-degree murder and using a firearm in the commission of a felony

It’s his second trial after the first one ended without jurors reaching a unanimous verdict. The second trial will be in Stafford County Circuit Court.

Gonzalez claims he shot his wife in self-defense following an argument in which she attacked him.

Gonzalez is on unpaid administrative leave.