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Weekend Series on Crime: The Violent Los Zetas Organization

http://youtu.be/Y5Hts_hGE3Y

Column: Ex-FBI Agent Says Forget About Clemens and Bonds; Go For the Big Fish in the Steroid Mess

Greg Stejskal was an FBI agent for nearly 32 years before retiring in 2006. He was the Senior Resident Agent of the Ann Arbor FBI office and spearheaded Operation Equine with former FBI agent Bill Randall — an operation that focused on steroids.

The author (right) Greg Stejsal and Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

It’s generally accepted doctrine, at least when I was working drug cases, that you try to work up the food chain and go after the bigger fishes so to speak.

That being said, I have to question the wisdom of prosecuting anabolic steroid users — albeit famous ones — like baseball legends Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Take away the star power, and they’re simply users — not big fish, not major peddlers. Frankly, it’s not worth spending all the time and money on them.

But before I go on about that, a here’s a little background

In 1988, anabolic steroids (not all steroids are anabolic, synthetic testosterone, which promotes muscle growth and strength, for simplicity I refer to them as steroids) were made illegal under federal law. Dealing or possession of steroids with the intent to sell, became a felony. Mere use or possession was a misdemeanor. (The amount of steroids possessed was an indicator of whether there was an intent to sell.)

In 1989, when I headed up the FBI’s Ann Arbor office, Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler and his strength coach, Mike Gittleson, persuaded me that steroids were becoming a significant problem at all levels of football.

I proposed to FBIHQ that we initiate an undercover operation (UCO) targeting steroid distribution. FBIHQ was not enthusiastic about pursuing the illegal distribution of steroids, but reluctantly authorized a limited UCO to last only 6 months.

Read more »

DEA Goes After Mexican Cartel in U.S.; Arrests 1,985 in 20-Month Crackdown

Gun seized in Las Vegas as part of operation/dea photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The DEA on Thursday announced the arrests of 1,985 persons as part of a 20-month crackdown on the La Familia Michoacana Mexican drug cartel’s operations in the U.S.

DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said authorities said the crackdown, known as “Project Delirium”, also seized $62 million in U.S. currency, plus approximately 2,773 pounds of methamphetamine, 2,722 kilograms of cocaine, 1,005 pounds of heroin, 14,818 pounds of marijuana and $3.8 million in other assets.

She said over 70 of the arrests took place yesterday and today, and over 200 have been arrested since June 1. Arrests were made all around the U.S.

“Project Delirium is the second successful, strategic and surgical strike to disrupt and destroy one of the most violent Mexican cartels, La Familia,” Leonhart said.

“Through their violent drug trafficking activities, including their hallmark of supplying most of the methamphetamine imported into the United States, La Familia is responsible for recklessly and violently destroying countless lives on both sides of the border. The strong joint efforts with our Mexican and U.S. law enforcement partners are crippling this brutal organization by capturing its leaders, strangling its distribution networks, and relentlessly pursuing its members and those who facilitate them.”

ATF Was Evasive About Weapons Found at Murder Scene of Border Agent Brian Terry

Sen. Grassley/official photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

ATF earlier this year tried to play down the fact that guns from its highly problematic Operation Fast and Furious program surfaced at the scene of the slaying of Arizona Border Patrol agent Brian Terry last December, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The paper reported that the top ATF supervisors in Phoenix conceded in an email two days after the slaying that the weapons found at the scene were linked to the operation that encouraged gun dealers to sell to middlemen or straw purchasers, with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.

Brian Terry

But the Times reported that nearly two months later Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.) inquired whether the weapons purchased during the Fast and Furious operation, were used in the killing, only to get an evasive answer from ATF officials in Washington.

The Justice Department said “these allegations are not true”, according to the Times and failed to acknowledge that the guns were there.

The Times, citing unnamed ATF officials, said the agency drew a distinction because the FBI determined that neither of the two AK-47s in question were used in the murder.

Meanwhile, Grassley had been trying to link the Fast and Furious guns to the murder of ICE agent Jamie Zapata earlier this year in Mexico.

But a source tells ticklethewire.com that authorities found no link to Fast and Furious in that matter.

To read more click here.

Demjanjuk Attorney’s Accuse Justice Dept of Fraud for Withholding Key FBI Document

John Demjanjuk

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The decades-long legal case against accused Nazi John Demjanjuk won’t go away.

The Cleveland Jewish News is reporting that his defense attorneys on Tuesday filed a motion accusing the Justice Department of withholding evidence and fraud.

At the key of accusations is a 1985 FBI memo questioning the authenticity of a Nazi identity card issued to Demjanjuk, the paper reported. His lawyers say the memo could have helped exonerate him.

The motion asks U.S. District Court Judge Dan Aaron Polster to rescind the court order stripping the Ohio resident of his citizenship and deporting him, the Cleveland Jewish News reported.

Demjanjuk’s legal battle began in 1977 when the U.S. tried to deport him. He was accused of being a gas chamber guard — “Ivan the Terrible” — at the concentration camp, Treblinka.

He was deported to Israel where he was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death, the Cleveland paper reported. In 1993, the Israel Supreme Court ordered Demjanjuk released because evidence indicated that another Ukrainian guard, Ivan Marchenko, was the Treblinka guard.

In 1999, he returned to the U.S. where he was charged with being a guard at other camps. He lost his citizenship for the second time and was deported to Germany in 2009 where he was recently convicted of war crimes.

The Jewish News reported that he’s been living in a Bavarian nursing home while awaiting his appeal.

FBI Plans to Contact Actor Jude Law About Murdoch Scandal

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
The FBI probe into the Rupert Murdoch phone hacking scandal could being going beyond the 9/11 victims in the U.S.

The BBC reports that the FBI plans to contact the actor Jude Law following allegations that his phone was hacked during a visit to the U.S.

The BBC reported that a 2003 story by the News of the World newspaper, owned by Murdoch. was based on information from Law’s voicemail.

The BBC report comes in wake of reports that the FBI is trying to figure out whether allegations are true that Murdoch reporters tried to hack the phones of 9/11 victims in the U.S.

FBI Dir. Robert Mueller Gets One Step Closer to 2-Year Extension

Robert Mueller/file fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III moved one step closer to extending his 10-year term two additional years.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would clear the way for Mueller to stay on for two years.  The bill must now go before the House, which is expected to give its OK. That vote could come next week.

The current legislation limits the FBI directors term to 10 years. The bill is one time deal that applies to Mueller, and does not change the 10 year limit.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.)  of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who supported the move, but still raised questions, issued a statement Thursday:

“This is an extraordinary step that the Senate has taken. Thirty-five years ago Congress limited the FBI director’s term to one, 10-year appointment as an important safeguard against improper political influence and abuses of the past.

“Director Mueller has proven his ability to run the FBI over the last 10 years and he has given assurances that he will remain available to Congress and our constitutional responsibilities of oversight. I am glad the Senate was able to reach an agreement that provides a one-time, short term extension of the FBI Director’s term in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution. We live in extraordinary times which make this move unfortunate, but necessary.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) of the Judiciary Committee, who was a big advocate of the extension, issued a statement saying:

“Ten weeks ago, the President asked the Congress to extend the term of service of the FBI Director. I worked in a bipartisan manner to expeditiously report a bill from the Judiciary Committee to the full Senate. While no Senator opposed an extension of Director Mueller’s term, some quibbled over the text of a bill to accomplish this goal, causing unnecessary delay. I believe the bill reported by the Committee was constitutional, and that the revisions to the bill are unnecessary.”

“Nonetheless, I am pleased that a bill passed the Senate today that will maintain continuity of leadership at the FBI as we approach the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, and face continuing threats in the wake of the President’s successful operation against Osama bin Laden. I hope the House will take up and pass this bill so that it can be signed by the President, and the Senate can confirm Director Mueller’s re-nomination, prior to August 3, 2011, when Director Mueller’s current term expires.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Law Enforcement Deaths Up For Second Year in a Row

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Bad news for U.S. law enforcement.

For the second year in a row, law enforcement fatalities —  from shootings to traffic incidents –rose sharply nationwide during the first half of 2011. The figure included 40 officers killed by gunfire, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF).

The fund reported that 98 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty during the first six months of this year, a 14 percent increase over the 86 officers who died last year during the same period.

The report did show that the number of officers ,killed in traffic-related accidents — a total of  35– declined by 17 percent over 2010 during the six month period.

A breakdown of the 98 officers killed the first six months of this year were as follows: 40 officers were shot to death; 21 died in automobile crashes; 16 succumbed to job-related illnesses; seven were struck by automobiles while outside of their own vehicles; five were killed in motorcycle crashes; two were struck by a train; one officer died in an aircraft crash; one was beaten to death; one was electrocuted; one died in a fall; one was killed in a bomb blast; one was crushed to death; and one was strangled.

“The economy has forced reductions in training, safety equipment and personnel at law enforcement agencies across America,” stated NLEOMF Chairman Craig W. Floyd. “These budget cuts have put our officers at greater risk, especially as they face a more brazen, cold-blooded criminal element and a continuing terrorist threat,” he added.