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FBI Offers $15,000 Reward After Fire Bombings of El Paso Catholic Churches That Served Hispanics

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI is offering a $15,000 reward for helping tracking down the arsonists responsible for setting fire to three Catholic Churches in El Paso that primarily serve Hispanics and migrants.

The first fire broke out May 7, when someone tossed an “incendiary device” at St. Matthew Catholic Church.

On May, another “incendiary device” was thrown at St. Patrick Cathedral. And on June 15, “an incendiary device” was into the San Judas Tadeo Catholic Church.

Authorities have yet to make any arrests.

No one was injured in the fires.

“We are counting on assistance from members of the community to keep our city safe,” the FBI said in a press release. “We are asking everyone to please remain vigilant for suspicious or unusual activity to include events and persons around you. To date, we have received numerous tips regarding this investigation and multiple law enforcement agencies are involved. Every lead will be thoroughly investigated. Regardless of how insignificant you think your information might be, we strongly encourage you to come forward and welcome your information and assistance. You do have the option to remain anonymous when providing assistance to this investigation.”

ATF Supervisor with Nazi Tattoo Is Accused of Discriminating Against Black Agent

ATF Agent Bradford Devlin with a Nazi-themed tattoo, via U.S. District Court.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

An African American ATF supervisor claims in a lawsuit that the agency discriminated against her after she launched complaints about another supervisor with a Nazi-themed tattoo.

A seven-day trial is set to begin Oct. 26.

Cheryl Bishop, a former bomb-dog handler, said the agency scuttled her appointment to a job at Washington D.C.’s headquarters after she blew the whistle on abusive behavior by Agent Bradford Devlin, The Seattle Times reports.

Now the senior supervisor in the ATF’s Seattle Field Division, Devlin denies being abusive and says he got the Nazi tattoo while working undercover investigating an outlaw white-supremacist biker gang in Ohio.

Although the agency offered to pay for the removal of the tattoo, Devlin has decided to keep it, calling it a “war trophy.”

Weekend Series on Crime History: A Big-time Mobster Talks About the Life

A Top Homeland Security Official Was Using Thousands of Tax Dollars on Personal Meals

Andrew Meehan

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Department of Homeland Security’s top spokesman, who plans to leave his post today, has been under investigation for spending large amount of tax dollars on personal dining expenses, the Washington Examiner has found.

Homeland Security acting Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Andrew Meehan announced last month that he was resigning, but his reasoning was never made public. Some senior administration officials suggested he was stepping down because of disagreements with the White House.

Turns out, Meehan federal authorities called for his termination after it was revealed he had spent thousands of dollars on meals. It’s not clear why he was allowed to stay in his position for nearly a month after announcing his resignation.

Homeland Security officials have declined to comment.

Border Patrol Agents Take Over Screening Migrant Families from Asylum Officers

Via CBP

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The fate of migrant families seeking protection in the U.S. will now be determined by Border Patrol agents, instead of the highly trained asylum officers who are highly trained in refugee laws.

Border Patrol agents, who will screen families for “credible fear” in the new pilot program, are beginning to get trained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, lawyers and several employees at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told Los Angeles Times.

The Trump administration has long advocated using law enforcement officers to interview asylum seekers to determine whether families have a “credible fear” persecution in their home countries. The idea is that Border Patrol agents are less likely to provide asylum to families.

“It’s creating significant strain for our clients — not just because they’re unprepared and untrained,” Shay Fluharty, an attorney with the Dilley Pro Bono Project, told The Times. “We understand that the intention is to significantly limit asylum officers who are conducting these interviews and have them be primarily conducted by Border Patrol.”

Top Homeland Security Lawyer Fired in Latest Shake-Up

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Shake-ups continue at the Department of Homeland Security with Tuesday’s departure of John Mitnick, the agency’s general counsel.

The White House fired Mitnick, who oversaw 2,500 lawyers at the agency, The New York Times reports.

“We thank John for this service, and we wish him well,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement.

The firing comes about four months after the White House ousted numerous top Homeland Security officials, including the secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen and the acting deputy secretary, Claire Grady. A month later, L. Francis Cissna, the head of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, left the agency a month later.

It’s not immediately clear who will replace Mitnick. Among the possibilities are Joseph B. Maher, the department’s principal deputy general counsel, and Chad Mizelle, an associate counsel to the president.

Quick-Acting TSA Officer May Have Saved the Life of a Traveler in Alaska

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A TSA officer may have saved the life of a passenger who was choking on a grape at an Alaskan airport.

Juneau International Airport Lead Transportation Security Officer Brenda Irizarry sprung to action last week after she was alerted that a woman was choking on a grape, Juneau Empire reports.
Irizarry performed the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the fruit from the 26-year-old Brenda Studley’s throat.

“We are extremely thankful to the excellent training that Brenda has obviously received,” a family member wrote in an email.

The family was on their way to a wedding in California and didn’t miss their flight thanks to the TSA officer’s quick actions.

DEA Agent Who Protected Violent Puerto Rican Drug Cartel Pleads Guilty

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A former police officer accused of joining the DEA so he could protect a violent Puerto Rican drug cartel has pleaded guilty.

Fernando Gomez, who infiltrated the DEA and was working in the Chicago field office, was arrested in December and charged with racketeering conspiracy for his alleged decade-long affiliation with the Organizacion de Narcotraficantes Unidos. The gang, which imported vast shipments of cocaine into the U.S., was accused in the indictment of participating in at least eight drug-related killings in New York and Puerto Rico and smuggling thousands of kilograms of cocaine.

Gomez is accused of helping the gang beginning in 2006 when he was a detective with the city of Evanston.

Under a plea deal, the 42-year-old former U.S. Marine faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on Nov. 21 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, The Associated Press reports.