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New York Times Editorial: More Accountability Needed for Border Patrol

border patrol 3By Editorial Board
New York Times

José Antonio Elena Rodríguez was 16 when he was gunned down on a street in Nogales, Mexico, in October 2012. He was shot several times in the back by a United States Border Patrol agent, firing through the fence from Nogales, Ariz. The boy was unarmed; his family said he had been walking home from a basketball game.

The Border Patrol has insisted that the agent was defending himself from rock-throwers on the Mexican side. But a federal grand jury on Wednesday charged the agent with second-degree murder. The indictment lends credence to what José Antonio’s family and activists on both sides of the border have long insisted: that this was another senseless killing by a member of an agency notorious for the reckless use of deadly force.

The agent’s union has asked the public to withhold judgment, a fair request. But it is fair, too, for others to demand openness and accountability from the Border Patrol in this and other cross-border shootings of unarmed civilians, in which basic information and answers have been sorely lacking.

In José Antonio’s case, the agent’s claim of self-defense would seem implausible to anyone who visits the spot in hilly Nogales where the teenager fell. It is hard to imagine him throwing anything across the road, up a 25-foot embankment and then over the fence and hitting, much less hurting, anybody. A major leaguer might be able to hurl a baseball that far, but a 16-year-old boy with a dangerous rock? No.

There are a number of other cases where border agents were said to have taken dubious and lethal action. A critical 2013 report by the Police Executive Research Forum, a law enforcement policy group, seriously questioned the Border Patrol’s policies on deadly force — it found that agents would deliberately stand in the way of fleeing cars, to justify shooting at them.

DEA Rarely Fires Agents Who Commit Serious Misconduct

dea-badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

DEA agents who have lied to authorities, falsified records, dealt drugs and committed other serious misconduct have been allowed to stay on the job, USA Today reports.

The discovery comes after lawmakers expressed frustration that agents were never fired for attending “sex parties” in Columbia.

Records from the DEA’s disciplinary files show that was hardly the only instance in which the DEA opted not to fire employees despite apparently serious misconduct, The USA Today writes.

The newspaper found that only 13 of the 50 employees recommended to be fired by the DEA’s Board of Professional Conduct were actually terminated.

“If we conducted an investigation, and an employee actually got terminated, I was surprised,” said Carl Pike, a former DEA internal affairs investigator. “I was truly, truly surprised. Like, wow, the system actually got this guy.”

Some members of Congress are calling for more action.

“There is a culture of protection internally that has to change. If there’s a bad apple, they need to be fired, if not prosecuted, and that’s just not happening,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Federal law enforcement should be held to the highest standard.”

Other Stories of Interest

Weekend Series on Crime: Mexican Oil and the Drug Cartels

Chinese Millionaire Connected to Clintons Arrested for Lying about $4.5M in Cash

fbi-logBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Chinese millionaire accused of providing foreign money in a campaign finance scandal during the Clinton administration has been arrested by the FBI, ABC reports. 

The FBI arrested Ng Lap Seng last weekend on charges that he lied about the reason he brought more than $4.5 million in cash to the U.S. over the past two years.

A criminal complaint alleges the prominent real estate developer made a series of trips to the U.S. with a large amount of cash.

The FBI said Ng falsely claimed the cash was for art, gambling or real estate.

The complaint in federal court mentions no current ties to the Clintons, but he was accused in a 1998 Senate report of funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic National Committee during the Clinton administration.

Delaware Justice Department Investigates Fatal Police-Involved Shooting of Man in Wheelchair

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Delaware’s Justice Department is investigating the fatal police-involved shooting of a man in a wheelchair, the Washington Post reports. 

During a call about a possible self-inflicted gunshot wound, Wilmington police encountered a disabled man, who is black, armed with a handgun, police said.

A video shows officers approaching the man with guns drawing, demanding that he drop the weapon.

An officer fired a single gunshot after yelling, “Show me your hands!”

The man was shot several more times after appearing to get up from the chair.

He died at the scene.

“The office will take these steps as quickly as possible in order to provide an account of the incident to the public,” the department said in a statement. “Making a determination about whether a person — including a police officer — should be criminally prosecuted under Delaware law is the responsibility of the Delaware Department of Justice and the department will make that determination following investigation in this case.”

Ex-Jackson Cop Accused of Helping Drug Dealers Is Indicted on Corruption Charges

Jacskon policeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former Jackson, Miss., police officer accused of helping drug dealers has been indicted, MS News reports.

Bryan Jones has been charged with commerce by threats or violence, stemming from complaints that he tipped off drug dealers about police intelligence.

“Corruption and criminal activity on the part of police officers in the Jackson Police Department is not going to be tolerated,” said Police Chief Lee Vance. “We are going to find the quickest most effective way to put you in jail for a long time.”

The FBI further alleges that Jones made illegal traffic stops and seized thousands of dollars and drugs from undercover agents and dealers who competed with his underground associates.

Body Found in Remote Cabin After Shootout with Border Patrol Agents

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 8.04.34 AMBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Authorities found a body in a remote cabin in northern Michigan after two Border Patrol agents were shot at early Thursday morning, MLive.com reports. 

The agents were fired on while investigating a missing person case on Drummond Island in Chippewa County.

Agents returned fire but retreated. After several hours of being unable to contact the subject inside, authorities found the person dead.

State police are investigating.

German Sniper Sentenced to 20 Years for Plot to Kill DEA Agent, Informant

dea-badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A German sniper who plotted to assassinate a federal DEA agent was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Thursday, the New York Post reports. 

Dennis “Nico” Gogel was convicted in January of conspiring to murder the agent and a confidential informant in Liberia for $800,000, the Post wrote.

“How stupid I feel to have engaged in something like that,” Gogel said at his sentencing.

“I’m not the same person I was before.”

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