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TSA Reports Record-Breaking Number of guns Confiscated at Airports

By Steve Neavling

The TSA confiscated a record number of guns at airport security checkpoints in 2021, the agency said Monday. 

The agency confiscated 5,700 firearms, surpassing the previous record of 4,400 in 2019, CBS News reports. About 85% of the guns were loaded with ammunition. 

The rate of gun detections in carry-on luggage doubled from the previous high. 

TSA Administrator David Pekoske attributes the record confiscations to more Americans carrying firearms. 

“The reason? I think there’s just more firearm carriage in the country,” Pekoske said. “That’s the best answer I can give you.”

Here are the top 10 airports with firearm confiscations:

  1. Atlanta 
  2. Dallas Fort Worth 
  3. Houston (IAH) 
  4. Phoenix 
  5. Nashville 
  6. Denver 
  7. Fort Lauderdale 
  8. Orlando 
  9. New Orleans 
  10. Salt Lake City 

Border Patrol Agent Struck by Suspected Drunken Driver Along Checkpoint in California

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

A suspected drunken driver struck a Border Patrol agent at a freeway checkpoint in southern California early Monday morning. 

The Mini Cooper was traveling about 60 mph at about 2:30 a.m. when it hit the agent, who was working the checkpoint with “all the lanes lit up and traffic cone pattern set up” on I-15 near Rainbow Valley Boulevard, California Highway Patrol spokesman Mike Lassig said, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

The agent had major injuries and was rushed to the hospital, where he was in stable condition, Lassig said. 

The 30-year-old driver continued driving after hitting the agent before pulling over less than a mile down the freeway, Lassig said.

The driver, of San Bernardino, was arrested and faces charge of driving under the influence and felony hit-and-run. 

27 Homeland Security Employees Receive 2021 Presidential Rank Awards

By Steve Neavling

More than two dozens Homeland Security employees received the 2021 Presidential Rank Awards, one of the most prestigious awards in the federal career civil service.

“Congratulations to the DHS recipients of the prestigious 2021 Presidential Rank Award, the Nation’s highest civil service recognition, for their exceptional displays of leadership and service,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas said. “Every single recipient of this award has made a lasting impact on our Department and the Federal government through their talent, integrity, and dedication to our critical mission. In recognizing these incredible public servants for their transformative work, we also celebrate the colleagues who support them. The accomplishments of one are made possible by the contributions of all.”

The recipients of the Distinguished Senior Executive Service Rank Awards, which is presented to leaders who achieve sustained extraordinary accomplishments, are:

  • Angela S. Bailey, Management Directorate
  • Stacey Fitzmaurice, Transportation Security Administration
  • David M. Kohl, Transportation Security Administration
  • Joseph Maher, Office of the General Counsel
  • Gary C. Rasicot, U.S. Coast Guard
  • Keith Turi, Federal Emergency Management Agency

The recipients of the Meritorious Senior Executive Service Rank Awards, which are presented to leaders for sustained accomplishments, are:

  • Donna P. Campagnolo, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Kimberly Cheatle, U.S. Secret Service
  • Susan C. Dunbar, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • Paul Fujimura, Transportation Security Administration
  • Karen E. Hanlon, Transportation Security Administration
  • Melanie Harvey, Transportation Security Administration
  • Jennifer B. Higgins, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • James V. Johnson, Science and Technology Directorate
  • Francine J. Kerner, Transportation Security Administration
  • Calvin M. Lederer, U.S. Coast Guard
  • Troy A. Miller, Customs and Border Protection
  • Corey Price, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • Timothy Robbins, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • Gregory L. Teets, Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Kimberly Walton, Transportation Security Administration
  • Kelly Wheaton, Transportation Security Administration

Here’s the complete list of the Presidential Rank Awards.

Ryan T. Young Named EAD of Intelligence Branch at FBI headquarters

FBI headquarters, via FBI

By Steve Neavling

Ryan T. Young has been named the executive assistant director (EAD) of the Intelligence Branch at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. 

In his new role, Young will serve as “the strategic leader of the FBI’s intelligence program and external partnerships, overseeing the Bureau’s intelligence strategy, resources, policies, and functions,” the FBI said in a news release.

Before the appointment, Young had served as the assistant director of the Directorate of Intelligence.

He joined the FBI as a special agent in 2001, first working counterintelligence cases in the Miami Field Office. In 2007, he began to supervise the Cuban Counterintelligence Squad.

In 2010, Young received an FBI Director’s Award for Outstanding Counterintelligence Investigation for his work on a Cuba case.

In 2012, Young became chief of internal policy in the Resources Planning Office at headquarters. He transferred to the Counterterrorism Division in 2014 and created the Syria-Iraq Task Force. He also led a 72-member interagency task force to combat the threat from ISIS in Iraq and the Levant. 

In 2015, Young was named the assistant special agent in charge of the Intelligence Branch in the Dallas Field Office. 

In 2016, Young was promoted to section chief for the Directorate of Intelligence’s Strategic Technology Section.

Young became special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division of the Los Angeles Field Office in 2018 and led the bureau’s second largest Joint Terrorism Task Force and weapons of mass destruction investigations in the Los Angeles region and in Southeast Asia. He was also tasked with all crisis management and response assets, including the SWAT Team, the Evidence Response Team, bomb technicians, and other programs.

In 2020, he was appointed assistant director of the Directorate of Intelligence at headquarters.

Young received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in criminal administration and counseling from Western Oregon State University. 

Before joining the bureau, Young served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. 

Former DEA Special Agent Sentenced to More Than 12 Years in Prison for Laundering Money

By Steve Neavling

A former DEA special agent was sentenced Thursday to more than 12 years in prison for diverting more than $9 million from undercover money-laundering investigations to his own accounts to buy luxury cars, jewelry, and a home.

Jose Ismael Irizarry, 47, of Puerto Rico, pleaded guilty on Sept. 14 to 19 charges as part of a seven-year scheme in which he and his wife used the money to finance a lavish lifestyle. 

“The Department of Justice has zero tolerance for abuse of public office and is committed to ferreting out and prosecuting corruption wherever found, especially among the ranks of law enforcement,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said in a statement.

The money was deposited into bank accounts controlled by Irizarry, and his wife, Nathalia Gomez-Irizarry, and other co-conspirators. They used some of the laundered money to buy a Tiffany diamond ring, a $135,000 Land Rover and a home in Cartagena.

Irizarry, while investigating money laundering by Columbia’s drug cartels, worked with the drug traffickers to launder money seized from drop operations, prosecutors say.

“Public corruption is the FBI’s top criminal investigative priority, and we will not be deterred in our commitment to expose the deceitful even if it means arresting a former federal agent,” Michael McPherson, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Tampa Field Office, said. “The FBI and its federal, state, and local law enforcement partners will remain steadfast and focused on the work to maintain the public’s trust in government.”

Irizarry previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, honest services wire fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to commit identity theft, and aggravated identity theft. Gomez-Irizarry pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.

“Former Special Agent Irizarry abused the trust of the American people when he repeatedly violated his oath as a federal law enforcement officer,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said. “Bringing him to justice reflects the principles of those who faithfully serve and uphold the values of DEA. The men and women of DEA remain committed to protecting our communities and holding all accountable who engage in drug-related crimes. I commend our federal law enforcement partners who investigated this case with utmost professionalism and the prosecutors who worked tirelessly to bring Irizarry to justice.”

Prosecutors say the scheme began after Irizarry filed for bankruptcy in December 2010. At no point in the bankruptcy proceedings did he disclose any of the illicit income to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

“This is an egregious breach of the trust by a federal agent who was sworn to protect and serve the American people,” John Condon, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tampa Field Office, said. “While his actions are uncharacteristic of the dedication and integrity demonstrated by the vast majority of government employees, this case should send a message about the serious consequences facing those who would exploit their positions and violate that special trust.”

FBI Investigates Letters Sent to Media Outlets from ‘Chinese Zodiac Killer’

A previous letter from the Zodiac Killer, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is investigating letters sent to several news stations in Albany, New York, that claimed to be from the “Chinese Zodiac Killer.”

The Albany Field Office is asking media outlets in the area to contact the bureau if they see similar letters, The Albany Times-Union reports.

The FBI is asking the outlets to keep the letters sealed to preserve any possible DNA evidence.

It’s not yet clear what was on the letters. 

The Zodiac Killer is accused of murdering at least five people around San Francisco in the late 1960s. Decades ago, he sent similar letters to other media outlets, including the Albany Times Union, which did not receive one of the latest letters. 

The letter in 1973 said a woman in Albany would be killed on Aug. 10, 1973. 

“YOU Were WRONG I AM NOT DEAD OR IN THE HOSPITAL I AM ALIVE AND WELL AND IM GOING TO START KILLING AGAIN,” the letter stated. 

One of the Zodiac’s previous victims lived in Albany.  

The FBI said in a statement that there is no threat to the community.

Veteran Spokeswoman for FBI’s Cleveland Field Office to Retire

Vicki Anderson-Gregg, via YouTube

By Steve Neavling

For nearly a decade, FBI Agent Vicki Anderson-Gregg has served as the spokeswoman for the bureau’s Cleveland Field Office. 

Now Anderson-Gregg is planning to retire, WKYC reports.

Anderson-Gregg began her career with the FBI working in the Cleveland Field Office 20 years ago.  

She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology at West Virginia State College and a master’s degree in diagnostic intervention psychology at Marshall University. 

In an interview in May 2020, Anderson-Gregg said she decided to apply for the FBI after working in a maximum security prison and encountering people with mental illnesses.

“It fascinated me – how cruel people could be,” Anderson-Gregg said. 

She said the most rewarding parts of her job are catching criminals and finding missing children. 

Longtime FBI Agent Confirmed to Become Police Chief in Mississippi

By Steve Neavling

A 26-year veteran of the FBI is about to become a police chief in Mississippi. 

The Tupelo City Council on Tuesday voted to confirm Mayor Todd Jordan’s nomination of John Quaka to serve as the city’s top cop. 

“Twenty-six years of law enforcement, not one negative comment from anyone I’ve talked to that I’ve reached out to or people have reached out to me,” Jordan told WTVA-TV. “I think his clean record speaks for itself.”

Quaka will be in charge of an $11 million police budget, which includes about 120 employees. 

Councilwoman Rosie Jones urged Quaka to increase diversity within the police department. 

“I’m all about diversity and treating everyone fairly,” Quaka said “I told the search committee that there’s a lot of things the (FBI) does not do right. But what they do right is diversity. Everyone is treated the same. That’s what I bring.”

Quaka will replace Police Chief Bart Aguirre, who retired over the summer. 

Quaka joined the FBI in 1995, when he served in the Los Angeles Division. He then worked out of the Greenville office and the Tupelo office. He now works in the Oxford office and has been a Tupelo residents for 20 years.