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CBP Officer Charged with Excessive Force, Faces Up to 10 Years in Prison

CBP officer (Photo: CBP via Twitter)

By Steve Neavling

A Customs and Border Protection officer from the Calexico office has been charged with using unreasonable force on a person seeking admission into the U.S. from Mexico. 

Officer Marcos Valenzuela, 29, of El Centro, Calif., injured the unidentified person while on duty at the Calexico West Port of Entry in August 2019, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday. 

“The protection of the civil rights of all persons entering the United States remains a high priority of the Justice Department, and our office in particular,” Acting U.S. Attorney Grossman said in a news release. “All allegations of excessive force by law enforcement officers are investigated thoroughly and carefully reviewed to ensure public confidence in our commitment to redressing violations of Constitutional rights.” 

Details of the allegations weren’t immediately clear. 

“No one is above the law and this indictment should assure the public that the FBI is committed to rooting out any public servant who violates their oath – regardless of where they work,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner said. “Actions such as the ones alleged in this case violate an officer’s oath, the public’s trust, and damage law enforcement’s reputation. I want to thank Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility for their collaboration and partnership in bringing this case to fruition.”

Valenzuela, who faces up to 10 years in prison, is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court for a motion hearing on May 21. 

“All CBP employees are required and expected to abide by all laws they enforce,” CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) Special Agent in Charge Elizabeth Cervantes said. “CBP stresses professionalism, honor, and integrity in every aspect of its mission and CBP OPR is fully committed to investigating all allegations of misconduct while supporting the men and women who proudly uphold their duties to serve and protect.”

Convicted Scammer Bernie Madoff Dies at 82

By Allan Lengel

Convicted scammer Bernard Madoff, who defrauded scores of clients out of billions of dollars in all, died Wednesday in the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina. He was 82.

Bernie Madoff/facebook photo

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons confirmed the death, CNBC reports. He died of natural causes, AP reported.

Madoff was destined to die in prison as intended. He pleaded guilty in a massive fraud scheme that victimized as many as 37,000 people in 136 countries as far back as the 1970s. Victims included Steven Spielberg and Kevin Bacon. He was sentenced to 150 years in prison.

Once exposed, his life became a nightmare. Ditto for people and organizations that invested with him.

His brother Peter Madoff, a senior managing director in the firm, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. His son Mark died by suicide by hanging himself. The other son Andrew died of lymphoma in 2014.

Biden Picks Tucson Police Chief Magnus to Head CBP

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, picked to lead CBP.

By Steve Neavling

President Biden is nominating Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

Magnus, who has served as Tucson’s police chief since 2016, is a vocal critic of former President Trump’s immigration policies and a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

If confirmed by the Senate, Magnus has a tough job ahead of him as the nation grapples with a border crisis and the separation of migrant children from their families. 

Magnus also would be the first openly gay CBP commissioner. 

On Monday, Biden announced his pick to lead the DEA – former New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram.

Woman at JFK Airport Was ‘Full of Pellets’ of Cocaine, CBP Says

Cocaine seized from a traveler at John F. Kennedy Airport. (Photo: CBP)

By Steve Neavling

A woman returning to John F. Kennedy International Airport from the Dominican Republican had concealed 100 pellets of cocaine in her bra, vagina, anus, and purse, U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities said. 

Yerlina Lantigua Hernandez DeNova, an American citizen, was “full of pellets” and now faces federal narcotics smuggling charges, CBP said Tuesday. 

Authorities said they found three pellets of cocaine in her purse during an inspection on April 9. After she was escorted to a private room room for a more thorough search, CBP officers found pellets stuffed in her bra, and she admitted she had “inserted pellets vaginally and anally,” CBP said. 

A total of 3 pounds of cocaine was found. The estimated street value was more than $94,000. 

“This seizure is another example of our CBP officers being ever vigilant in protecting the United States from the distribution of these illicit drugs,” Marty Rabon, acting director of CBP’s New York Field Operations, said in a statement.

Biden Picks former N.J. AG Anne Milgram to Lead DEA

Former New Jersey AG Anne Milgram

By Steve Neavling

President Biden on Monday nominated Anne Milgram, a former New Jersey attorney general, to head the DEA. 

If Biden’s nomination is confirmed, Milgram would become the first politically appointed leader since the Obama administration. Several acting administrators served in the top role under former President Donald Trump.  

Milgram served as New Jersey attorney general from 2007 to 2010. She teaches at the New York University School of Law and serves as a special counsel for Lowenstein Sandler, a law firm. 

The nomination comes in the midst of an opioid crisis and the legalization of recreational marijuana in many states. 

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said Biden made “a great choice” nominating Milgram. 

“She will be an excellent DEA Administrator, who will work diligently to fight drug trafficking and keep dangerous substances like fentanyl off our streets,” he said on Twitter.

Former Head of FBI’s Albany Field Office Sexually Harassed 8 Women, According to OIG

James Hendricks, former special agent of the FBI’s Albany Field Office.

By Steve Neavling

A former special agent in charge of the FBI’s Albany Field Office in New York sexually harassed eight female subordinates, according to the Justice Department’s internal watchdog. 

James Hendricks’ harassment was so egregious and frequent that his colleagues called him a “skilled predator,” the Office of Inspector General concluded in a report obtained by The Associated Press.

Hendricks, 50, was tapped to lead the Albany Field Office in July 2018 and quietly stopped working for the bureau last year.  

Hendricks, who writes a law enforcement blog, told investigators he did nothing wrong and blamed his accusers of misjudging his actions or exaggerating his behavior. He did not respond to AP’s requests for an interview. 

“It’s an ugly, ugly laundry list of things that were said, and that’s really hurtful to me and it really just disappoints me,” he was quoted as telling investigators.

The FBI declined to comment on the case but said the bureau “maintains a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment and is committed to fostering a safe work environment where all of our employees are valued, protected and respected.”

After interviewing more than a dozen FBI officials, investigators said Hendricks’ harassment began at FBI headquarters, where he served as a section chief in the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, the position he held just before he was promoted to head the Albany Field Office. Two of his accusers were in Washington and six were in Albany. 

Investigators said Hendricks gawked at women, touched them inappropriately, and made sexually suggestive comments.  

Border Patrol’s Encounters with Migrants Continue to Rise in Southern Arizona

By Steve Neavling

The number of migrants who are coming into contact with Border Patrol in Southern Arizona continues to rise. 

At the Yuma Sector, agents encountered about 11,800 migrants in March, an increase from about 5,100 in February, Tucson.com reports, citing CBP statistics.

At the Tucson Sector, agents encountered about 19,800 migrants in March, an increase from about 14,600 in February. 

Most of the encounters involved adult migrants without children, but the number of families traveling together and children traveling alone also is rising sharply. 

The Biden administration attributed the rise “to reasons which include violence, natural disasters, food insecurity, and poverty” in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Republicans blames Biden’s laxer border policies. 

Biden Wants Funding Increase to Investigate White Supremacy within CBP, ICE

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

President Biden’s budget proposal seeks to increase oversight of Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to investigate complaints of white supremacy. 

Under the proposal, workforce oversight offices within CBP and ICE would receive $470 million, a 22% increase in funding, Reuters reports.

The idea is to ensure timely investigations of workforce complaints, including “those related to white supremacy or ideological and non-ideological beliefs.”

The impetus for the increased oversight wasn’t immediately clear, but the Biden administration has prioritized combating domestic extremism, which a Homeland Security report in 2020 described as “the most persistent and lethal threat” to the U.S.