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CBP Seizes $4.3M Worth of Meth from Shipment of Cucumber Pickles

CBP found 217 pounds of meth in a shipment of pickles. Photo: CBP

By Steve Neavling

CBP officers found $4.3 million worth of methamphetamine in a shipment of cucumber pickles being hauled into Texas from Mexico. 

Officers assigned to the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge cargo facility seized 114 packages of meth weighing 217 pounds from a tractor-trailer last week. 

The discovered the package after conducting a non-intrusive imagine (NII) system inspection. 

“This substantial quantity of hard narcotics will not make its final destination in the United States,” said Port Director Carlos Rodriguez, Port of Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas. “This interdiction reinforces our officers’ role in advancing CBP’s border security mission by preventing dangerous drugs from entering and negatively impacting our communities.”

The case was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations. 

North Carolina Man Convicted of Shooting at ATF Agents Who Were Conducting Surveillance

By Steve Neavling

A North Carolina man who fired a shotgun at two ATF agents who were conducting surveillance was convicted of assaulting federal officers and multiple firearm charges. 

A jury found Gary Lynn Gatlin, 50, guilty on Wednesday, and he now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. 

ATF agents were surveilling Gatlin on suspicion of firearm trafficking on April 15, 2020, when he approached them on Water Tower Road in Orrum, N.C., and fired four shots at their vehicle. The agents, who were not injured, had identified themselves as law enforcement. 

Police recovered empty shotgun shell cartridges and a Mossberg Maverick Model 88 shotgun and other firearms. 

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 7. 

Conservative Republicans, NRA Wage Battle Against Biden’s Nominee to Head ATF

Former ATF Agent David Chipman, via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling

The NRA and conservative GOP lawmakers are digging in for a fight to prevent the nomination of David Chipman as ATF director. 

The NRA on Wednesday announced its plans to oppose the nomination of Chipman as part of a $2 million campaign to fight gun-control measures, The Washington Post reports.

Chipman is a gun owner, former ATF agent and senior policy adviser at Giffords, a gun control advocacy group led by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. Chipman has advocated for gun restrictions, including a ban on assault weapons. 

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and other Republicans are urging Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, to oppose Chipman. 

“Mr. Chipman has a long history of advocating against Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” the Republicans wrote in a letter to Durbin and Grassley, The Hill reports.

“He supports limiting magazine capacity, holding gun manufactures liable if one of their products is used by a criminal in a crime, and banning certain types of rifles – including America’s most popular rifle the AR-15,” they added.

President Biden has faced pressure by gun control groups to pick someone to head the ATF, which has been without a permanent director since 2015 as the nation continues to grapple with mass shootings. 

As vice president, Biden recommended in 2013 that President Obama pick a Senate-confirmed ATF director. Obama followed through with the confirmation of B. Todd Jones in 2013, but Jones resigned in 2015, and the agency has been without a permanent director since. 

The current acting director, appointed by President Trump, is Regina Lombardo. 

Whether Biden can muster the 51 votes required to confirm a permanent leader is an open question. Republicans have blocked ATF candidates who were far friendlier to the pro-gun base. 

Senate Confirms Vanita Gupta As Associate Attorney General

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta

By Steve Neavling

The Senate on Wednesday narrowly confirmed Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general, the No. 3 position at the Justice Department. 

Gupta, 46, was confirmed in a final vote of 51-49 after Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski broke ranks and joined Democrats to confirm President Biden’s nominee. 

Republicans depicted Gupta, a critic of former President Trump’s policies on immigration and federal judicial appointees, as an anti-police radical. 

Gupta, who will be the first woman of color to serve in the position, is tasked with overseeing the department’s civil, antitrust and environmental and natural resources divisions. 

Gupta serves as head of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human rights and was assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division under President Obama, when she oversaw investigations into police brutality in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri. 

Senate Confirms Lisa Monaco as President Biden’s Deputy Attorney General

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco

By Steve Neavling

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Biden’s nominee, Lisa Monaco, as deputy attorney general, the top two spot at the Justice Department. 

Monaco, 53, who served as assistant attorney general for national security and White House homeland security and counterterrorism adviser under President Obama, was confirmed in a 98-2 vote. 

Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul voted against confirmation. 

Monaco was among Obama’s potential nominees for FBI director.

As deputy attorney general, Monaco will oversee the Justice Department’s operations and supervise the FBI and Bureau of Prisons. 

Monaco is known as a consensus-builder with experience on cyber issues. 

Biden’s pick for associate attorney general, Vanita Gupta, could be confirmed this week. 

Ex-Supervisor Border Patrol Agent Sentenced to 15 Years on Child Porn Charge

Jason Christopher Davis

By Steve Neavling

A former supervisory Border Patrol agent was sentenced to 15 years in prison on a child pornography charge. 

Jason Christopher Davis, of Las Cruses, pleaded guilty in October to producing a pornographic video of a 5-year-old child and uploading the video to his laptop.

Investigators found digital media with child pornography at his home, and he was arrested in May. 

He was a supervisory Border Patrol agent at the time. 

The case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide effort to combat sexual exploitation and abuse. 

The case was investigated by the Las Cruces Office of Homeland Security Investigations, the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Las Cruces Police Department. The Office of Professional Responsibility of Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol’s Management Inquiry Team, the FBI, and the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office assisted. 

Merrick Garland Remembers Oklahoma City Bombing on 26th Anniversary

Attorney General Merrick Garland. (Photo: DOJ)

Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged to crack down on domestic violent extremists in a speech commemorating the 26th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people. 

Garland, who led the prosecution of bomber Timothy McVeigh and his accomplice Terry Nichols, said the same brand of domestic extremism still exists. 

“Although many years have passed, the terror perpetrated by people like Timothy McVeigh is still with us,” Garland said at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. “The Department of Justice is pouring its resources into stopping domestic violent extremists before they can attack, prosecuting those who do, and battling the spread of the kind of hate that leads to tragedies like the one we mark here today.”

Garland spoke about white supremacy during his confirmation hearing earlier this year, citing the Oklahoma City bombing. 

“I supervised the prosecution of the perpetrators of the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, who sought to spark a revolution that would topple the Federal Government,” Garland told lawmakers in February. “If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government.”

Read Garland’s full speech here.

Scott McMillion Named FBI’s First Chief Diversity Officer

Scott McMillion, a 34-year veteran of the FBI, was appointed to serve as the bureau’s first chief diversity officer. 

McMillion will head the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which was created in 2012.

“As our chief diversity officer, Scott is the right person to ensure that the FBI fosters a culture of diversity and inclusion, and that our workforce reflects all the communities we serve,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said Monday. “I’m grateful he has agreed to bring his talent, experience, and dedication to our Office of Diversity and Inclusion, where he will build upon the important work that others started.”

For several years, McMillion has chaired the Black Affairs Diversity Committee, which assists the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to improve the recruitment, employment and retention of employees of color. 

McMillion’s first role as a special agent was in 1998 in the Omaha Field Office in Nebraska, where he worked on criminal investigative squads and was the senior team leader of the Evidence Response Team. 

In 2006, McMillion joined the Gallup Resident Agency of the Phoenix Field Office.

He became supervisory special agent in 2008 and was assigned to the Cyber Division at FBI headquarters in Washington D.C. In 2010, he was promoted to unit chief, overseeing the Innocent Images National Initiative and Digital Analysis Research Center.

In 2013, McMillion joined the Criminal Investigative Division as a unit chief in the Strategic Initiatives Unit, Violent Crimes Against Children Section. He later moved to the Jacksonville Field Office in Florida, where he oversaw the Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach, and Panama City resident agencies. 

In 2018, McMillion transferred to the Inspection Division at headquarters. A year later, he was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of the Columbia Field Office in South Carolina, in charge of the National Security Branch

Before joining the FBI, McMillion was a special agent for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He earned a bachelor of science degree in criminology from Florida State University and a masters of forensic ccience from Nebraska Wesleyan University.