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5 of 6 Alabama Law Enforcement Officers Fatally Shot in 2019 Were Killed with Stolen Guns, ATF Says

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Five of the six Alabama law enforcement officers fatally shot in 2019 were killed with stolen guns, the ATF said after tracing each weapon.

“Alabama has lost six peace officers already in what has been a heartbreaking 2019. Five officers met their end of watch staring down the barrel of a gun held by someone prohibited by Alabama and federal law from possessing the firearm in the first place,’’ Northern District of Alabama U.S. Attorney Jay Town tells AL.com.

Those killed with stolen weapons were Birmingham Police Sgt. Wytasha Carter, Mobile Police Officer Sean Tuder, Auburn Police Officer William Buechner, Tuscaloosa Police Det. Dornell Cousette, and Huntsville Police Officer Billy Fred Clardy III.

“Crime guns are all too common in Alabama which is why, from the moment I was sworn, I have prioritized prosecutions of felons and drug dealers with guns and we will continue to execute that priority aggressively,” Town says.

Until earlier this year, it was a misdemeanor to be in possession of a stolen weapon worth less than $500. It is now a felony.

In all of the cases of stolen guns, the accused shooters were prohibited from legally possessing a gun

“Thousands and thousands of guns are reported stolen every year in Alabama, not even counting from the gun stores,’’ David Hyche, ATF’s assistant special agent in charge in Alabama, said. “We’ve had as many as 22, or 23, gun stores hit in a year just in Alabama.”

“Guns are absolutely money on the street. Guns are money for dope,’’ he added. “Drug dealers typically will take guns just like money. They’re just liquid assets.”

Weekend Series on Crime History: The Story of Al Capone

Homeland Security Discovers Long Tunnel Used to Smuggle Drugs in Nogales

Tunnel entrance, via ICE.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security Investigations special agents found an 82-foot-long tunnel that has been used for a few months to smuggle drugs near Nogales, Ariz.

Agents on the Border Enforcement Security Task Force were executing a search warrant when they discovered the tunnel, according to KOUN9-TV.

The tunnel, which was 8-feet-deep and had a ventilation system, led from a house in Nogales to a wastewater pipeline in Rio Rico, Ariz.

The tunnel appeared to have been used by Mexican nationals, two of whom were arrested on charges of possession and conspiracy to distribute hard narcotics.

Agents seized 200 pounds of meth, more than 6.5 pounds of fentanyl, nearly two pounds of heroin, and nearly three pounds of cocaine.

 

Homeland Security Ranked As Worst Federal Agency to Work – Again

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Department of Homeland Security ranks as the worst federal agency to work – again.

Of the 17 large federal agency, Homeland Security ranked lowest, according to a poll by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for public Service and global management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group, HSToday reports.

Homeland Security has been without a permanent leader, and its engagement score of 52.3 out of 100 represents a 0.8-point drop over 2018. Ratings dropped most dramatically for pay, employee sills and mission match. But there were improved scores for teamwork training, innovation and effective leadership.

The overall scores across all agencies increased modestly, despite a lengthy government shut down that affected 40% of 2 million federal employees.

ATF K-9 Killed During Shootout at El Paso Home

The 5-year-old Belgian Malinois died at the scene.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol K-9 was killed during a shootout that occurred as agents tried to execute a search warrant at a home in El Paso.

The 62-year-old suspect shot at agents from his backyard at 6 a.m. Tuesday, striking the 5-year-old dog, The El Paso Times reports. The Belgian Malinois named Boulder died at the scene.

The suspect was fatally shot with return fire.

The arrest warrant involved illegal firearms.

No one else was injured.

AG William Barr Contradicts Past Statements about FBI by Defending the Bureau

AG William Barr in Detroit, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Attorney General William Barr is sending mixed messages about the FBI.

After Barr blasted the bureau’s handling of the Russia and Trump campaign investigation, he fully endorsed the FBI at a news conference in Detroit.

“There is no finer law enforcement agency in the world than the FBI,” Barr said in Detroit, standing next to FBI Director Christopher Wray. “I am very grateful to the leadership being provided by Chris Wray.”

Barr’s comments about the bureau are in stark contrast to his and Trump’s recent rhetoric following the DOJ’s inspector general’s report that concluded the FBI acted appropriately in investigating Trump’s campaign.

Here’s what Barr said about the FBI last week: “I think there were gross abuses …and inexplicable behavior that is intolerable in the FBI,” Barr said. “I think that leaves open the possibility that there was bad faith.”

DEA Agent Never Gave Up After Losing his Eyesight from a Gunshot Wound in Afghanistan

Joseph Piersante’s FAST squad, via DEA.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

When DEA Agent Joseph Piersante was shot in the head in Afghanistan in 2011, he lost his eyesight but not his mission to combat drugs.

At the time, Piersante was serving on the Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST), a commando-style squad that battled drug cartels and smugglers.

“I had a frontal lobe brain injury because the bullet went to the front of my brain,” he told WDIV in Detroit. “I had two ruptured eye globes and two detached retinas, in which resulted in the brain injury, resulting in the craniotomy.”

Piersante, who became the first-ever member of the DEA to receive the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom, didn’t let the injury stop him from fighting drugs.

“In life we can’t always determine what happens to us, but what we can do is we can make the best out of our situation as we can,” Piersante said.

Unable to do his past job, Piersante began educating people about the dangers of drugs and helping addicts with treatment strategies.

After more than 20 years with the DEA, Piersante is retiring this week.

In retirement, he hopes to write a screenplay or book.

Rick Gates Sentenced to 45 Days in Jail for Lying to FBI, Conspiring to Conceal Money

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates with Trump.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates was sentenced Tuesday to 45 days in jail and three years probation for lying to the FBI and conspiring to conceal tens of millions of dollars.

Gates, 47, had faced up to six years in prison, but a federal judge in Washington D.C. showed leniency because of Gates’ help providing information for the special counsel probe.

“He’s had to testify, be identified as a known cooperator in the glare of public attention at a time of deep political division in our society, when people are demonized for being on the other side, and he was seen as turning on his own side,” U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said, The New York Times reports. “Gates’ information alone warranted, even demanded further investigation from the standpoint of national security, the integrity of our elections and enforcing criminal laws.”

Gates, who pleaded guilty in February 2018, will be able to serve his sentence on weekends, the judge said. Gates also was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and perform 300 hours of community service.

“I greatly regret the mistakes that I have made, and I have worked hard to honor my commitment to make amends,” Gates said in a prepared statement.

In a sentencing recommendation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston complimented Gates for his assistance in the investigation.

“Under exceedingly difficult circumstances and under intense public scrutiny, Gates has worked earnestly to provide the government with everything it has asked of him and has fulfilled all obligations under his plea agreement,” Gaston wrote this month.

Gates’ attorney, Thomas Green, asked for probation and community service for his client.