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Border Patrol Agent, Two Brothers Charged in Drug Cartel-Linked Murder Case

Border Patrol Agent Joel Luna

Border Patrol Agent Joel Luna

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent who patrolled ranch land for smugglers of drugs and humans is accused of helping his brothers run a criminal family business responsible for a decapitated corpse found off the Texas coast during spring break.

Joel Luna, 31, has been charged with capital murder as part of a drug trafficking conspiracy, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Luna’s attorney said his client never killed anyone, and it was his brothers, Fernando and Eduardo, who are to blame for the slayings.

“There’s an argument to be made against my client that’s guilt by association. People get swept up with those who are really guilty. It’s family,” said Joel’s attorney, Carlos A. Garcia. “Associating or going to a quinceañera is not a crime. He was just a family man, a working man. Think about how many Border Patrol members who live on the border have relatives here without visas.”

While Joel was for in San Juan but raised south of the border, his brothers were born in Mexico.

At the time of his hiring by Border Patrol, Luna appeared to be a great hire: He was an Army combat veteran and a high school ROTC standout.

The Los Angeles Times wrote:

In 2013, Joel notified Border Patrol officials that Eduardo had been temporarily abducted by cartel leaders in Reynosa who knew Joel was an agent and had threatened his family there, according to Cameron County Assistant Dist. Atty. Gustavo “Gus” Garza.

Eduardo, Fernando and their families crossed into the U.S. illegally to live at Joel’s house. Luna gave his sister-in-law $42,000 and instructed her to buy a house in San Juan for his younger brother, according to an arrest affidavit. Fernando moved in across the street, Garza said.

Fernando had been laid off and used severance pay to buy Veteran’s Tire Shop, about 20 miles north in Edinburg, according to an affidavit. He hired Eduardo and kept three other employees. Investigators would later argue that the run-down shop, like other businesses in south Texas, was a front for money laundering and drug trafficking.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Residents Endangered by Botched ATF Sting

atf badgeBy Editorial Board
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A fake tattoo parlor in St. Louis set up down the street from the Boys and Girls Club, and use of a confidential informer with a troubled criminal history, help explain how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives placed some of the city’s most vulnerable residents at risk — and seriously undermined its own integrity in the process.

St. Louis was part of the ATF’s Operation Hustle City, in which agents and police set up the Ink Pimp tattoo parlor at 2806 North Grand Boulevard in January 2013. Agents posed as outlaw bikers looking to buy guns to ship to California or Mexico, and serve as drug cash couriers.

All this occurred in the same area where hundreds of kids regularly attended classes and events on a campus that promised a safe environment. What were ATF agents and their bosses thinking? This appalling example of disregard deals another blow to citizen confidence in law enforcement at a time when federal agencies should be helping to restore public trust.

The Justice Department released a highly critical report last week of undercover ATF storefront operations aimed at getting illegal guns and drugs off the streets in St. Louis and four other cities. The report criticized the operations for inadequate oversight, accountability, training and planning, but did not recommend ending them.

The report said ATF should consolidate its expertise in running storefront operations and not proceed with such stings until agency directors agree they are properly designed and executed.

An agency that has existed in one form or another since 1886 shouldn’t need to be told to properly design and execute operations, especially ones that endanger the very lives of citizens they are supposed to protect. Having issued new directives to the ATF, the Justice Department will need to monitor for implementation.

Other Stories of Interest

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Stabbing Attack That Injured 9 at Minnesota Mall

ISIS flag

ISIS flag

ISIS has claimed responsibility for a stabbing attack inside a Minnesota mall that injured nine people.

The stabbings, none of which was fatal, was carried out by a “soldier of the Islamic State,” an ISIS-linked news agency claimed.

The suspect was killed by a part-time police officer in Avon, Minnesota, Newsday reports.

“He clearly prevented additional injuries and potential loss of life,” Kleis said Sunday afternoon. “His heroic actions are exemplary.”

Police said the suspect referenced Allah at least once during the attack.

The ISIS-linked Amaq News Agency said the suspect “carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of countries belonging to the crusader coalition.”

What’s unclear is whether the suspect had direct communications with ISIS.

The victims ranged in ages from 15 to 53, and none appeared to sustain life-threatening injuries.

Authorities have not identified the attacker.

Authorities See Possible Link Between Bombs in New Jersey, New York

Screenshot of surveillance video showing the bomb blast in Chelsea.

Screenshot of surveillance video showing the bomb blast in Chelsea.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Authorities are on the hunt for 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami, who is believed to be responsible for the Chelsea bombing over the weekend.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also said Monday that he “wouldn’t be surprised if we found a foreign connection to the act” after finding similarities between the bombs in New York and New Jersey over the weekend, CNN reports. 

Law enforcement official said the bombs may have been part of a possible terror cell in both states.

Two bombs were found in New York City and multiple ones in New Jersey.

Both pressure cook bombs in New York appeared to be filled with BBs and ball bearings. Flip top phones were used in both New York and New Jersey, but the bombs in those two places were made from different explosives.

On Sunday night, authorities found multiple bombs in a backpack near an Elizabeth, New Jersey, train station.

FBI Won’t Ban Agents from Masquerading as Journalists, But Imposed Restriction

AP LogoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When an FBI agent was exposed for masquerading as an Associated Press journalist in 2014, the media condemned the tactic, saying sources would be afraid to speak freely to reporters.

Now the FBI has imposed new restrictions on agents posing as agents, but the bureau stopped short of ending the practice.

The AP reports that agents must now gain top-level approval to impersonate journalists, which means the tactic may still be used in some cases.

The AP and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a lawsuit against the FBI last year after an agent impersonated an AP reporter by sending a fake news story “that was booby-trapped with surveillance software” in 2007. The trick led to the conviction of a teenager who had called in fake bomb threats in Washington.

The AP called the tactic “improper and inconsistent with a free press for government personnel to masquerade as The Associated Press or any other news organization.”

Nevertheless, FBI Director James Comey defended the practice in 2014 as “proper and appropriate.”

It’s unclear who often FBI agents pose as reporters.

FBI Intensifies Investigation into Russian Hackers Who Are Disrupting Election

hacker-artBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is boosting its investigation of Russian hackers who are believed to be targeting the Democratic Party and politicians.

Reuters reports that the FBI hopes to get enough evidence to gain indictments against Russians who are behind the cyberattacks.

The State Department said the hacking attempts by Russians are increasing and could disrupt and discredit the November elections.

“Doing nothing is not an option, because that would telegraph weakness and just encourage the Russians to do more meddling, but retaliating in kind carries substantial risks,” said one U.S. official involved in the administration’s deliberations.

Russian continues to deny its behind the hacks.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday that it’s not an easy task to track down and indict the hackers.

“We’re in unexplored territory here, and the president is quite interested in trying to establish international norms,” said Earnest. “I’ll let the FBI speak to what evidence they have amassed, but I think they’re also cognizant of the fact that as soon as they make a declaration like that, most people are going to understandably be interested in seeing that evidence. And some of that evidence may not be something we want to show.”

Suspected Bank Robber Sues FBI, City of Denver for Two False Arrests

bank robberyBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A man arrested twice on suspicions of robbing banks has sued the FBI, the city of Denver and its police department, claiming he was falsely arrested and subjected to excessive force and malicious prosecution.

FOX31 reports that officials dismissed bank robbery charges against Steve Tally, who is now homeless and is seeking $10 million.

His lawyers are from the same New York firm that represents the Central Park Five, winning a $40 million judgment.

Talley was arrested for a pair of bank robberies in September 2014.

Prosecutors dismissed the charged after Tally proved his alibi that he was working during the first robbery.

Months later, Tally was arreted again based on FBI facial recognition technology. But an FBI analysis later showed Talley was not the man in the surveillance video.

“He was guilty before he was proven that he was innocent,” bank teller Bonita Shipp said. “He was an innocent man. He didn’t do it.”

Expensive Equipment Stolen from ATF Vehicle in Detroit

atf badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An undercover ATF vehicle was broken into and valuable equipment stolen in Detroit on Thursday.

FOX2 reports that the break-in occurred around noon in the parking lot of a Thai restaurant.

“I guess a couple cars got broken into and then the police actually came in and got the owner of the car, which one of my waitresses and told her that her car got broken into,” said Sy Pradithavanij, owner of Sala Thai.

The ATF declined to say what was stolen, but said no weapons were taken.

The ATF vehicle was one of three cars that were broken into by pushing a tool through the keyhole.

Other Stories of Interest