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Biden Picks Mayorkas to Become First Hispanic, Immigrant to Lead Homeland Security

Alejandro Mayorkas

By Steve Neavling

President-elect Joe Biden tapped Alejandro Mayorkas to become the first immigrant and Hispanic to lead the Department of Homeland Security. 

Mayorkas, 61, served as deputy homeland security secretary from 2013 to 2016 under President Obama. A former U.S. attorney in California, Mayorkas also served as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during Obama’s first term. 

Born in Cuba, Mayorkas and her family arrived as refugees in the 1960s, settling in Southern California. His mother was a Holocaust survivor. Mayorkas graduated from the University of California-Berkeley and earned a law degree from Loyola Law School. 

“When I was very young, the United States provided my family and me a place of refuge,” Mayorkas tweeted. “Now, I have been nominated to be the DHS Secretary and oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones.”

FBI Arrests Man Accused of Crashing Drone into LAPD Helicopter, Forcing Emergency Landing

By Steve Neavling

FBI agents arrested a 22-year-old Hollywood man accused of recklessly operating a drone that crashed into a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter and forced it to make an emergency landing. 

Andrew Rene Hernandez was charged last week with a misdemeanor charge of operating an unmanned aircraft, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison. 

The LAPD chopper was providing air support on Sept. 18 while officers responded to a burglary call at a pharmacy in Hollywood. 

“As the helicopter approached the pharmacy, the pilot saw the drone and attempted to evade the unmanned aircraft,” the Justice Department said in a news release. “Despite the evasive efforts, the drone stuck the helicopter, forcing the pilot to initiate an emergency landing. The drone damaged the helicopter’s nose, antenna and bottom cowlings.”

According to the complaint, the collision could have been deadly.

“If the drone had struck the helicopter’s main rotor instead of the fuselage, it could have brought the helicopter down,” the complaint reads. 

Barr Struck Deal with Mexico to Release Ex-Defense Minister for Senior Cartel Leader

Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, former Mexican defense minister.

By Steve Neavling

Mexican authorities agreed to arrest a senior cartel leader in exchange for Attorney General William Barr dismissing drug trafficking charges against former Mexican Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda.

The deal, first reported by Reuters, sheds more light on an unusual decision that drew criticism from some in Congress and the State Department, as well as former DEA agents.

“Mexico committed to collaborate with the United States in the capture of a primary objective,” a source told Reuters

Daniel Millan, spokesman for Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, responded, “what we agreed was to maintain a united front against crime and cooperation that respects the sovereignty of each country.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman denied both countries had a deal. 

Last week, multiple news outlets reported that Mexican officials were so incensed with the arrest of Cienfuegos that they threaten to remove the DEA from the country.

The unidentified cartel leader is suspected of trafficking large quantities of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that kills tens of thousands of Americans a year. 

Weekend Series on Crime: Why Colombia Is Losing the Cocaine War

FBI Agents Association Honors Dr. Fauci at Annual Event

By Allan Lengel

The FBI Agents Association (FBIAA), which represents more than 14,000 active and retired agents, honored Dr. Anthony Fauci at its seventh annual “G-Man Honors: A Salute to FBI Heroes” event on Thursday night.

Dr. Anthony Fauci

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), was the keynote speaker and received the association’s Distinguished Service Award.  

All proceeds from the virtual event benefit the FBIAA’s two charitable funds, the Memorial College Fund and the Membership Assistance Fund, for children and spouses of deceased agents.

FBI Director Chris Wray was a special guest at the event and host at a special roundtable.

“FBIAA’s G-Man Honors is a night to recognize the service and sacrifice of the men and women of the FBI and their families,” FBIAA President Brian O’Hare said in a statement before the event. “We are honored to present our highest award to Dr. Fauci and thrilled that Director Wray will join us and speak to the student beneficiaries of FBIAA’s Memorial College Fund. The powerful stories of our FBI families are truly inspirational, and we are excited to share them with FBIAA’s members, friends and supporters.”

Those wishing to donate to the funds can text FBIAA at 50155 or go to www.gmanhonors.com.

Four Potential Homeland Security Secretaries Under President-Elect Biden

Joe Biden, via Shutterstock.com.

By Steve Neavling

President-elect Joe Biden with be tasked with reforming the Department of Homeland Security and that will begin with picking a new leader. 

Axios has identified four potential picks for Biden’s Homeland Security secretary.

One is Alejandro Mayorkas, the former deputy secretary and the architect of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). A former U.S. attorney who emigrated to Cuba as a child, Mayorkas is currently a partner at the law firm WilmerHale. 

A second candidate is California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a son of Mexican immigrants who has opposed Trump’s immigration policies. Becerra also served in Congress from 1993 to 2017, representing downtown Los Angeles. 

U.S. Rep. Val Demings, a Democrat from Florida’s 10th Congressional District, is a third potential pick. Although Demings has less immigration experience than the other candidates, she did work in law enforcement for three decades. For four years, she served as Orlando’s first female police chief. 

A four potential pick is Lisa Monaco, who served as Obama’s homeland security and counterterrorism advisor. Monaco also has ties to Biden, serving as his aide on the Senate Judiciary Committee during the 1990s and working with him recently as a member of his Public Health Advisory Committee that is hammering out a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Men Charged in Plot to Kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer Also Mulled Televised Executions, Prosecutors Say

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Photo via state of Michigan.

By Steve Neavling

A militia group charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had devised alternative plans that included televised executions and burning down the state Capitol building while it was in session, prosecutors said.

The disturbing details, disclosed in new court filings and first reported by ABC7, allege the 14 men, many of whom belonged to a militia group “Wolverine Watchmen,” developed a “Plan B” and “Plan C” if the kidnapping plot failed to work. 

According to prosecutors, Plan B involved recruiting 200 combatants to storm the statehouse and stage televised executions of public officials.

“They were to take hostages, execute tyrants and have it televised,” court documents show. “It would take about one week and (said) that no one is coming out alive.”

Under Plan C, the extremists would set fire to the Capitol building while lawmakers were still in session, “leaving no survivors,” prosecutors said.

The men were charged last month in a plot that the FBI said it thwarted to kidnap Whitmer, a Democrat whose coronavirus restrictions had incensed some conservatives, even as COVID-19 skyrocketed. 

“The group talked about creating a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient,” the affidavit reportedly said. “They discussed different ways of achieving this goal from peaceful endeavors to violent actions. At one point, several members talked about state governments they believed were violating the U.S. Constitution, including the government of Michigan and Governor Gretchen Whitmer. As part of that recruitment effort, [Adam] Fox reached out to a Michigan-based militia group.”

Six of the men were charged in federal court, and eight were charged in state court. 

‘Nazi-Obsessed’ Man Sentenced to 32 Years in Prison on Firearms, Ammunition Charges

Dennis Alan Riggs’ Nazi memorabilia. Photo via Suffolk County Police Department.

By Steve Neavling

A Pittsburgh man who the FBI said is “obsessed” with Nazis was sentenced to 32 months in federal prison for being a convicted felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.

Dennis Alan Riggs, 51, pleaded guilty in May after the terrorism task force raided his home in January and found it riddled with Nazi memorabilia, the FBI said in a news release.

He was in possession of seven firearms and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, including an AR-15. 

The search of his home and cell phone uncovered his “obsession with Nazi ideology,” the FBI said. On his cell phone were photos and videos of him posing with an illegal AR-15 while wearing a Swastika shirt. One video shows him performing the Nazi “Heil Hitler salute” with the AR-15, which U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Colville said “exceeds the bounds of mere political expression.”

The FBI led the investigation.