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Homeland Security Crackdown Nets 600+ Arrests of Suspected Gang Members

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security arrested more than 600 suspected gang members in what is being called the largest gang crackdown ever by the agency, the Associated Press reports.

The operation, dubbed “Project Southbound,” involved Ice agents and local authorities in 179 cities, leading the arrest of 638 suspected gang members between March and April.

Of those, more than 400 had violent criminal histories and seven were wanted on murder charges.

“These are bad people with bad motives from bad organizations,” said Thomas Winkowski, the principal deputy assistant secretary for ICE.

The arrests happened nationwide in places that include Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Maryland and New Mexico.

The crackdown was part of an initiative to target gangs with ties to other countries.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Alleged Member of Hacktivist Collective, Anonymous, Faces A Prison Sentence of 440 Years

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal investigators announced a total of 44 charge against a suspected member of the hacktivist group Anonymous.

Fidel Salinas, 27, of Donna, Texas, could be sentenced up to 444 years in prison for conspiring with the collective to hack computer systems of a county government, a school district and a newspaper in Texas, RT.com reports.

For awhile, it looked like Salinas would only face a single charge, but subsequent charges continue to be filed.

Salinas is also accused of cyber-stalking a female victim at least 18 times in December 2011.

“According to the allegations, between Dec. 23-29, 2011, Salinas had the intent to harass and intimidate a female victim. Allegedly, he repeatedly e-mailed her, attempted to gain unauthorized access to her website, made submissions through a contact form on that site and tried to open user accounts without her consent,” the FBI said in Tuesday’s statement.

“The indictment lists his alleged attempts to stalk her and hack into her website. According to the indictment, he repeatedly did so late at night and early in the morning, with his stalking attempts or messages sometimes occurring less than one minute apart from each other. He allegedly did so as part of a conspiracy or agreement with at least one other person, according to the charges.”

Charges Against U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm Put Spotlight on His 11-Year FBI Career

Rep. Michael Grimm

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, who was indicted on fraud and other charges this week, served as an FBI agent for 11 years, spending about half of that time investigating financial corruption, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Grimm’s congressional biography states that he worked in the New York FBI office from 1995 to 2006.

About five of those years were spent “deep undercover” with the bureau’s Financial Fraud Squad.

Grimm helped lead an investigation that netted charges against nearly four dozen traders in a currency trading scheme.

Grimm also investigated organized-crime fires and corrupt public officials.

Now the FBI said it will review his handling of the cases following the charges filed against him, including perjury.

“That’s something we definitely will look at. No doubt about it,” George Venizelos, assistant-director-in-charge of the FBI’s New York office, said.

Audio: FBI Agents Interview – And Threaten – Potential Informant in Recorded Phone Call

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Naji Mansour is an American living abroad.

His refusal to become a government informant has left his life in shambles. He was banned from seeing his family and was locked up in a squalid prison in South Sudan, Mother Jones reports.

Mansour recorded a conversation with two FBI agents who tried to win back his trust.

FBI Director James Comey Says He Keeps in Touch With Robert Mueller

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Just in case you were wondering, the answer is Yes.

FBI Director James B. Comey, who was in Detroit Tuesday to visit with the local agents and law enforcement folks, told reporters that he keeps in touch with the man he replaced, Robert S. Mueller III.

“He’s been a friend of mine a long time, so I talked to him a lot before coming and I’ve talked to him a number of times since then,” Comey said.

“I guess I don’t want to get into particulars or count the times, but he remains a friend of mine. ”

And then he added with a smile:

“And everything that goes wrong I’m blaming on him.”

Comey fielded questions from reporters about Detroit after meeting with law enforcement folks all day.

Detroiters are often convinced that the crime problem — particularly carjackings — is a little more unique here than in other places around the country.

But Comey responded responded to a reporter’s question about that by saying:

“I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I don’t think Detroit has any unique criminal problems. These are problems that we see in a lot of cities around the country.”

Comey said the FBI plans to add 300 new agents this year.

Will Detroit be a beneficiary?

“We haven’t yet decided where the 300 new agents are going to go,” Comey said. “That will obviously be based on need and where there are risks that are unaddressed. And so Detroit will obviously be part of that conversation, but it’s too early for me to say.”

Comey said the FBI was helping battle the violent crime in Detroit by participating in local task forces, and he acknowledged that  cities like Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland are up against some very tough crime issues.

Still, he emphasized that counterterrorism and counterintelligence remained the FBI’s top priority here and around the country.

He said he’s concerned about the thousands of foreigners training in Syria and where they might wind up after they leave. He also had concerns about home grown violent extremists and lost souls influenced by the propaganda on the Internet.

“So it’s why it’s so important for us to remember the importance of our counterterrorism mission everywhere in the United States.”

Comey also waxed philosophical about solving the violent crime problem.

“You can’t arrest your way to a healthy neighborhood,” he said. “You’ve got to arrest in order to create space for something to grow in its place.

“You will weed for ever if you don’t find a way to seed something in the space you’ve created with your weeding and grow a healthy plan. That is a huge and difficult problem well beyond those of us of in law enforcement but that is the answer to violent crime.”

He was also asked about his level of concern for security at the nation’s northern border.

“The southern border I worry about, the northern border I don’t,” he said.

 

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback Becomes Sixth Republic Governor Under Scrutiny by Investigators

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Republican governors have been under heat recently, and the latest is Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

The FBI is investigating whether Brownback confidantes were running an influence-peddling operation over getting people personal access to the governor, MSNBC reports.

He’s far from the only Republican governor receiving scrutiny.

According to MSNBC:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), for example, is at the center of a series of scandals, while former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is facing corruption charges. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has faced some uncomfortable questions recently; Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has found himself at the center of an investigation into his handling of a district attorney’s drunken driving arrest; and subpoenas have already been issued in an investigation involving North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s (R) administration.

The Kansas inquiry is focusing on Parallel Strategies, a lobbying firm created by three former Brownback employees who left public service for the private sector.

Public Face of Anonymous Pleads Guilty in Case That Could Land Him in Prison for 8.5 Years

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Barrett Lancaster Brown became the public face for Anonymous, a hacking collective that has wrecked havoc on computers nationwide.

Now the spokesman-like figure faces up to eight-and-half years in prison for public posts he made on YouTube and Twitter targeting FBI Agent Robert Smith because authorities were threatening to go after his mom for obstruction of justice charges on accusations that she tried to hide one of Brown’s computer’s, CNET reports.

“Robert Smith’s life is over,” Brown said in a YouTube video. “When I say his life is over, I’m not saying I’m going to kill him, but I am going to ruin his life…”

On Tuesday, Brown, 32, pleaded guilty to federal charges of making Internet threats, obstructing a search warrant and being an accessory to unauthorized access of a protected computer.

Brown’s attorneys Jay Leiderman told CNET Brown was protected by his first-amendment rights.

“It looks like he may have a very strong First Amendment defense to this,” Leiderman said. “Barrett engages in a lot of hyperbole, a lot of saber rattling, and he often speaks off the cuff and says sometimes things I don’t really think he means. Without having talked to him it’s hard for me to conceive of this as really a threat, as opposed to posturing, puffery.”

Questions Raised About Lethal Injections After Botched Execution in Oklahoma on Tuesday

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The deadly cocktails administered during executions are about to come under fire after a botched lethal injection involving Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett on Tuesday.

Newsweek reports that a doctor stopped administering the lethal injection about 13 minutes into the procedure after Locket lifted his head and began mumbling.

About 40 minutes after the lethal cocktail was administered, Lockett died of an apparent massive heart attack.

“We believe that a vein was blown and the drugs weren’t working as they were designed to. The director ordered a halt to the execution,” Massie said.

Authorities are bracing for serious questions about the viability and humaneness of lethal injections.