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Ex-Justice Dept. Analyst Judith Socolov Who was Convicted of Espionage Dies at Age 88

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Judith Socolov, a former Justice Department political analyst in the 1940s, who fell in love with a Soviet agent and was convicted of espionage, died over the weekend in Manhattan, the New York Times reported. She was 88.

Judith Coplon, who later became Judith Socolov, was arrested by the FBI in 1949 while working at the Justice Department, the Times reported.

The Times reported that her convictions, one in 1949 for espionage and another for conspiracy in 1950, were both overturned. The Times reported one conviction was overturned “because federal agents overheard conversations with her lawyer, and in the other because she was arrested on probable cause but without a warrant.”

Still, the U.S. Court of Appeals concluded that ”her guilt is plain,” the Times reported. The paper wrote that Soviet documents released years later supported that conclusion.

”She was a very high priority to the F.B.I.,” John Earl Haynes, a cold war historian at the Library of Congress, told the Times on Monday, ”because she was clearly in a Justice Department office, the Foreign Agents Registration Section, that was receiving the F.B.I.’s own counterespionage reports.”

She went on to marry one of her attorneys Albert Socolov and raised four children, earned a master’s degree, published books and did other things, and ran two Mexican restaurants in New York with her husband.

To read more click here.

Fla. FBI Agent and Cops on Trial for Mortgage Fraud

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Trial began Tuesday in Ft. Lauderdale federal court for an FBI agent along with four local Florida cops and a former officer, who face charges of mortgage fraud involving the purchase of properties in Broward and Palm Beach counties, the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel reported.

The paper reported that the six are accused of lying to lenders about things like income or whether the homes would be primary residences.

The paper reported that the defendants attorneys claim their clients were victims, and they had no idea the two mortgage brokers working with them submitted false information and forged signatures on hundreds of lending documents so they could make more money off the deals.

The paper reported that the mortgage brokers have cut deals with the feds and intend to testify in court.

The FBI agent, Robert DePriest, has been removed from all investigative duties with the FBI, the paper reported.

TSA Worker Busted For Allegedly Helping Drug Dealers


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Minnetta Walker of the Transportation Security Administration lost her moral compass — or perhaps she never had one, authorities allege.

The TSA behavioral detection officer at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, who is supposed to walk around and look for suspicious behavior, was arrested Tuesday and charged with providing info to drug traffickers and helping them get past checkpoints with minimum scrutiny, the Buffalo News reported.

The Buffalo News reported that the 43-year-old was arrested off-duty when she drove to the airport to pick up a suspected drug dealer returning from Arizona.

The paper reported that federal charging documents allege that Walker tipped off one drug dealer that drug agents were tailing him and escorted dealers through screening checkpoints, the Buffalo paper reported.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Ex-FBI Agent Jody Weis Steps Down as Chicago’s Top Cop

Private U.S. Spies Aid FBI in Afghan Probe

By Mark Mazzetti
New York Times

WASHINGTON — Not long after the Pentagon severed its relationship with a private spy network operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the F.B.I. quietly began tapping the same group to help investigate the killing of 10 medical aid workers in northern Afghanistan, according to American officials and private contractors.

The spy network, managed by Duane R. Clarridge, 78, a former top official at the Central Intelligence Agency, has provided agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Kabul with intelligence reports about militants who may have been involved in the attack, which killed six Americans last August.

How the F.B.I uses the information, and whether it has been valuable, is unclear. But that the F.B.I would use Mr. Clarridge’s group — at the same time the Pentagon is investigating whether it and other private spies were hired in Afghanistan and Pakistan in violation of Defense Department policy — shows the limits of the American government’s own information sources in the chaos of a war zone.

To read more click here.

One Gun Used in Slaying of ICE Agent in Mexico Linked to Suspected Texas Gun Trafficker

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

ATF said Tuesday it had arrested a suspected gun trafficker in Texas who allegedly bought one of the weapons that wound up in Mexico and was used to kill ICE agent Jaime Zapata on Feb. 15.

Authorities said Mexican authorities recovered three guns used in the ICE agent’s slaying — one of which was tied to suspected gun trafficker Otilio Osorio. He and his brother Ranferi Osorio, 27, were arrested Monday at their home in Lancaster, Tex. on charges of possessing firearms with obliterated serial numbers.

Authorities alleged that Osorio purchased the firearm used in the ICE agent’s slaying last Oct. 10 in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. ATF said ballistic testing conducted by Mexican authorities linked the weapon to Zapata’s death.

In a separate  criminal complaint,  authorities arrested  Kelvin Leon Morrison, 25, who lived next door to the Osorio brothers, on charges of knowingly making false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearms and dealing in firearms without a license.

U.S. authorities have been trying to battle an increasing problem of illegal gun traffickers shipping guns south to the Mexican drug cartels.

ICE Busts 678 Gang Members and Associates in Massive Crackdown Involving 168 U.S. Cities


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials announced Tuesday the arrests of 678 suspected gang members and associates, many with alleged ties to drug organizations around the world from Mexico to South America and Asia.

Dubbed “Project Southern Tempest”, ICE and and Homeland Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) said investigators targeted 168 U.S. cities with gangs that had affiliations with drug trafficking organizations. More than 46 percent of those arrested were members or associates of gangs tied to the drug organizations, ICE said.

Authorities said the operation ran from December 2010 to February.

“Project Southern Tempest is the largest ever ICE-led gang enforcement operation targeting gangs with ties to drug trafficking organizations,” ICE Director John Morton said in a statement.

“Through gang enforcement operations like Project Southern Tempest and Project Big Freeze last year, ICE will continue to disrupt and dismantle these transnational gangs and rid our streets not only of drug dealers, but the violence associated with the drug trade,” he said.

Authorities said there were 133 different gang affiliations and those arrested came from 24 countries in South and Central America, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. ICE said the gangs were also involved in such crimes and robberies and murders.

DEA Bans Chemicals Used to Make “Fake Pot”

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Invoking a temporary emergency order, the  DEA announced Tuesday that it was making it illegal to sell or possess five chemicals used to make  smokeable “herbal incense” commonly known as “fake pot.”

“Young people are being harmed when they smoke these dangerous ‘fake pot’ products and wrongly equate the products’ ‘legal’ retail availability with being ‘safe’,” DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said in a statement.

“Parents and community leaders look to us to help them protect their kids, and we have not let them down. Today’s action, while temporary, will reduce the number of young people being seen in hospital emergency rooms after ingesting these synthetic chemicals to get high.”

Under the temporary action, the products will remain illegal for at least a year while the DEA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study the issue. The DEA said the products are now designated as Schedule I substances, the most restrictive category.

During the past couple years, the smokeable herbal products sold at stores, particularly drug paraphernalia shops and on the Internet,  have become increasingly popular among teens and young adults, the DEA said.

The products are often sold under such brands as “Spice,” “K2,” “Blaze,” and “Red X Dawn” and “are labeled as herbal incense to mask their intended purpose,” the DEA said.

The DEA said at least 16 states have taken action to ban one or more of these chemicals.