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FBI Finds No Compelling Evidence That Jan. 6 Riot Was a Coordinated Plot

Alex Gakos/Shutterstock.com

By Steve Neavling

The FBI has found no compelling evidence to suggest the Jan. 6 riot was part of a coordinated plot to overturn the presidential election, four current and former law enforcement officials tell Reuters.

Of the more than 570 people arrested for their role in the riot, a vast majority were not connected to each other or far-right groups. 

“Ninety to ninety-five percent of these are one-off cases,” a former senior law enforcement official said. “Then you have 5%, maybe, of these militia groups that were more closely organized. But there was no grand scheme with Roger Stone and Alex Jones and all of these people to storm the Capitol and take hostages.”

Of those arrested, 40 were charged with conspiracy for allegedly plotting the attack. More than 170 people have been charged with assaulting or impeding a police officer.

A congressional investigation is underway, in part, to determine whether the riot was part of an organized plot. 

So far, the FBI has found no evidence that former President Trump or those around him helped coordinate with others to overtake the building. 

U.S. Agents Find ‘Sophisticated’ Tunnel for Drug Trafficking Near Border

Sophisticated tunnel found near the U.S.-Mexico border. Photo: ICE

By Steve Neavling

U.S. agents and Mexican authorities discovered a large, “sophisticated” tunnel near the U.S.-Mexico border that was outfitted with electricity, ventilation, a rail system with a cart and an electronic hoist, ICE announced. 

The 183-foot-long subterranean tunnel was found beneath a house in the city of Mexicali in the Mexican state of Baja California near Calexico, Calif. 

It was used by drug traffickers, who dug the tunnel nearly 22 feet beneath the ground, ICE said. 

“These types of tunnels enable drug traffickers to conduct illicit activities virtually undetected across the U.S.–Mexico border,” Cardell T. Morant, special agent in charge of HSI San Diego, said in a statement. “Discovering and shutting down these tunnels deals a major blow to drug trafficking organizations because it denies them the ability to smuggle drugs, weapons and people across the border.”

35-Year-Old Border Patrol Agent at McCallen Station Dies; CBP Grieves

Photo illustration: CBP

By Steve Neavling

A Border Patrol agent assigned to the McAllen Station died earlier this week, CBP announced Wednesday. 

Agent Ricardo Zarate, who began his career with CBP in 2009, passed away Monday. 

“I am deeply saddened to share the loss of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Ricardo Zarate,” Troy A. Miller, acting CBP commissioner, said on Twitter.  

“With a heavy heart, we regret to announce the line-of-duty death of Border Patrol Agent Ricardo Zarate,” CBP said in a statement. “Agent Zarate entered on duty on February 12, 2009, as part of session 922. We will never forget.”

CBP didn’t divulge details of his death, including the cause. 

Zarate was a husband and father, according to a death notice. 

Vote for TSA’s Cutest Canine on Social Media Today

Alona is one of four finalists for the TSA’s cutest canine. Photo: TSA

By Steve Neavling

The Transportation Security Administration’s four-legged workers are a vital part of keeping travelers safe at airports, sniffing out drugs and explosives.  

And they sure are cute.

The TSA is holding an online contest for its cutest dog, and voting is today, which is National Dog Day.

The four finalists are Alona, a golden retriever from the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport; Lexi, a Belgian Malinois from Dallas – Fort Worth International Airport (DFW); Badger, a Belgian Malinois from Chicago O’Hare International Airport; and Lexa, a German Shepard from DFW.

You can cast a vote for your cutest canine on Instagram , Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Voting ends at midnight tonight.

The TSA has more than 1,000 canines paired with handlers. 

“TSA’s working canines play an important role in the agency’s security operations across the country. We are so fortunate to have Alona and her handler Vanessa as a member of our team in Las Vegas,” Karen Burke, TSA federal security director in Las Vegas, said in a statement. “Alona is not only very skilled as a working dog, but she is also a worthy competitor in this year’s Cutest Canine contest. I’ll be voting for Alona and I hope you will join me in voting for her, too.”

Want to see some other furry cuties? Check out the TSA 2021 calendar.

CBP Seizes Fake FBI, DEA Badges Sent from China

Counterfeit FBI badge seized by CBP officers. Photo: CBP

By Steve Neavling

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers recently seized several packages from China containing counterfeit DEA and FBI badges in Chicago. 

The packages, which contained eight counterfeit DEA badges and one FBI badge, were sent from China and destined for locations across the U.S. 

“These counterfeit badges could have led to disastrous consequences if our officers had not found them,” LaFonda Sutton-Burke, director of field operations in Chicago, said in a statement. “Criminal organizations could have used these badges for their illicit activity under the guise of federal agents. Our CBP officers were able to identify these very realistic counterfeits and stop them from reaching their destinations.”

The badges pose a threat to the public, said Shane Campbell, area port director in Chicago. 

“It could be a serious security issue,” Campbell said. “Used nefariously, a fake badge can be a danger to the public and can harm the public’s trust in law enforcement.”

In the past few months, CBP also seized thousands of counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards that were sent from China.

Border Patrol Chief: Recent Attacks Targeting Agents Won’t Stop Them from Enforcing the Law

Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz.

Border Patrol Chief Paul Ortiz said his agency won’t be deterred by a spate of attacks targeting agents at the border.

So far this month, agents have been shot at, and one was struck and dragged by a car at a border checkpoint in Texas. 

“U.S. Border Patrol agents continue their unwavering commitment to provide border and national security to the American public despite recent attacks against them along our Southwest border,” Ortiz said in a statement Tuesday. “We take these threats and acts of violence seriously and will do everything we can to identify and bring those to justice who have sought to harm the men and women of the Border Patrol.”

Earlier this month, agents came under fire along the Juárez-El Paso border. An agent was patrolling the border when about five shots rang out from Juárez. He took cover and was not injured. 

Four days earlier, about 20 gunshots were fired at a Border Patrol agent who was patrolling in El Paso’s Lower Valley. The quick-acting agent also took cover and wasn’t injured. 

The FBI is investigating the shootings. The agency didn’t say whether there were other recent shootings.

About a week ago, a 37-year-old man smuggling a migrant in Texas used his car to strike and drag an agent at the Ysleta Station checking in El Paso County. He was arrested and charged. 

Ortiz said Border Patrol agents are well-trained and equipped to respond to attacks. But, he said, the violence is a reminder of the dangers facing agents. 

Ortiz said federal law enforcement will vigorously investigate the attacks and bring the suspects to justice. 

CBP Seizes Thousands of Fake COVID-19 Vaccination Cards Nationwide

Fake COVID-19 vaccination cards. Photo: CBP.

By Steve Neavling

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have seized thousands of counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards in the past few months, but the investigations are draining resources normally used to intercept drugs, CBP said. 

Agents at the port of Memphis recently found more than 3,000 fake vaccine cards that were inside more than 120 packages, CBP announced. Agents spotted a suspicious shipment from Shenzhen, China, that was headed to New Orleans. The package contained 41 blank, “low quality” counterfeit cards with typos. 

It was the 15th intercepted shipment of the night from all over the country. 

“The recipients of this ubiquitous contraband are unfortunately all over the United States,” CBP said in a news release.

The FBI has warned that it’s a crime to buy, sell or use counterfeit vaccination cards. 

“These vaccinations are free and available everywhere,” Michael Neipert, area port director of Memphis, said in a statement. “If you do not wish to receive a vaccine, that is your decision. But don’t order a counterfeit, waste my officer’s time, break the law, and misrepresent yourself. CBP Officers at the Area Port of Memphis remain committed to stopping counterfeit smuggling and helping to protect our communities. But just know that when you order a fake vaxx card, you are using my officers time as they also seize fentanyl and methamphetamines.”

Charles A. Dayoub Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s Kansas City Field Office

FBI Special Agent Charles Dayoub

By Steve Neavling

Charles A. Dayoub, who was serving as section chief in the Counterintelligence Division at FBI headquarters, has been named special agent in charge of the Kansas City Field Office. 

Dayoub began his career as a special agent in 2005, when he was assigned to the El Paso Field Office in Texas, investigating counterterrorism as a member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). He also served on the El Paso SWAT team. 

In 2008, he joined the JTTF in the Washington Field Office.  

In 2011, Dayoub was promoted to supervisory special agent in the Counterterrorism Division at FBI headquarters, where he oversaw international terrorism originating in the Horn of Africa. 

He was promoted in 2013 to supervisory special agent of a JTTF squad in the Philadelphia Field Office. 

In 2015, Dayoub was picked to lead the Newtown Square Resident Agency of the Philadelphia Field Office. As the supervisory senior resident agent, he supervised multiple programs, including white-collar crime, violent crime, crimes against children, health care fraud, and gangs and criminal enterprise investigations. 

 In 2017, he returned to the Counterterrorism Division as the assistant section chief of the international terrorism operations section that covered extraterritorial terrorism investigations and operations in the Middle East and Europe and includes the FBI’s Fly Team. 

In 2019, Dayoub was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of the Cyber Branch at the Washington Field Office, where he was responsible for cyber national security and criminal computer intrusion investigations and operations. He also oversaw the Cyber Task Force and the Computer Analysis Response Team. 

In 2020, he was promoted to section chief of the Counterintelligence Division at headquarters. 

Before joining the FBI, Dayoub was enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and practiced law in Dallas.  He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Baylor University and a Juris Doctor from the Texas Tech University School of Law.