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News Story

First TSA Employee Dies from Coronavirus; More than 100 others have tested positive

TSA’s Francis “Frank” Boccabella III.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

It was only a matter of time.

More than 100 TSA employees, most of them screeners, have tested positive for the coronavirus since the U.S. outbreak began.

On Thursday, Francis “Frank” Boccabella III, an expositive detection canine handler at Newark Liberty International Airport, became the first TSA employee to die from the coronavirus.

Boccabella was only 39. He worked as a TSA officer since June 2004, when he started out screening air cargo at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

“He is the first federal TSA employee who we have lost to COVID-19,” the TSA said in a news release. “The news of this loss strengthens our determination to work ever more closely with our interagency partners to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Weekend Series on Crime History: Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell

FBI Warns about Intruders Hijacking Video Calls Through Zoom

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Many Americans who are working from home are resorting to video conferencing apps. Schools also are using the apps for online classes.

One of the most popular apps, Zoom, has become a target to intruders who are hijacking video calls and posting hate speech and graphic images such as pornography.

The FBI calls it “Zoombombing,” which has become so popular the bureau recently issued a warning to users.

The bureau said it has been fielding a lot of complaints. School officials in Massachusetts said someone hijacked an online class through the video conferencing app and displayed swastika tattoos.

The bureau is asking the public to report incidents to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov.

More Than TSA Employees Have Confirmed Coronavirus Infections

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The number of TSA employees who have tested positive for coronavirus has topped 100.

In just the past 14 days, 58 screening officers and 21 non-screening employees have confirmed infections in 19 states.

More than three dozen TSA employees tested positive more than two weeks ago.

TSA screeners are vulnerable because they have close contact with a lot of travelers.

Several airports have multiple TSA employees sick, including Newark Liberty International and John F. Kennedy
International.

Federal lawmakers have been calling on the TSA to better protect its employees and the public.

Federal Agents Seize $30M Worth of Drugs in ‘Sophisticated’ Smuggling Tunnel

Drugs found inside a half-mile tunnel. Via ICE.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Federal agents seized thousands of pounds of drugs in a “sophisticated” smuggling tunnel that extends from a warehouse in Mexico to another warehouse in San Diego.

Inside the half-mile tunnel were 1,300 pounds of cocaine, 86 pounds of methamphetamine, 17 pounds of heroin, 3,000 pounds of marijuana and more than two pounds of fentanyl worth nearly $30 million, ICE announced in a news release.

The tunnel included reinforced walls, ventilation, lighting and an underground rail system.

“I’m proud of the excellent work performed by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents, as well as U.S. Border Patrol and Drug Enforcement Administration agents as integrated partners of the San Diego Tunnel Task Force. Their tenacity made the difference in shutting down this tunnel,” said Cardell T. Morant, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Diego. “I hope this sends a clear message that despite the ongoing public health crisis, HSI and our law enforcement partners will remain resilient and continue to pursue criminal organizations responsible for the cross-border smuggling of narcotics into the United States.”

Nearly 9,000 Homeland Security Employees Quarantined Or Infected with Coronavirus

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Nearly 300 Homeland Security employees have confirmed coronavirus infections and more than 8,500 have been quarantined at a time when the agency is needed to combat the highly contagious disease.

An internal Homeland Security report obtained by the Los Angeles Times identifies 292 employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 and 8,524 who are under quarantine.

Homeland Security plays a critical role in combating the virus, with departments such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Transportation Security Administration, the Border Patrol, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“These numbers underscore the risks that the men and women at DHS are taking every day to protect public safety,” John Sandweg, former acting director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in the Obama administration, said. “Measures can and should be taken to protect the workforce, including limiting operations to only those that are only mission critical to protect national security and public safety.”

The union that represents Border Patrol employees said the Trump administration is “exposing them to dangers that are unnecessary.”

“I don’t think the agency is doing enough to protect agents or individuals we come in contact with, period,” said Brandon Judd, president of the union.

Judd said six Border Patrol agents have confirmed infections and an addition 42 have been quarantined.

Coronavirus Fears Don’t Stop Construction of the Border Wall in Arizona

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Construction on the wall on the Arizona border with Mexico has not stopped as the coronavirus outbreak spreads rapidly across the U.S.

Work crews are filling up motels, Airbnbs and mobile home camps in the town of Ajo, while nonessential construction has stopped in most of the country, The New York Times reports.

The theory is that the wall will prevent the spread of the virus from Mexico to the U.S., even though health experts are skeptical.

In the meantime, residents in Ajo are worried that the influx of workers make them more susceptive to the coronavirus.

“This administration’s priority is to get the wall done. The rest of us might as well be damned,” Ajo resident Maria Singleton told the Times.

According to an Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Raini Brunson, the agency is following “government and CDC guidelines” as construction increases.

“As the guidance changes, decisions will be made as to how contractor employees will be affected,” Brunson added.

Jeffrey S. Sallet Named Executive Assistant Director of Human Resources at FBI Headquarters

Jeffrey Sallet

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Jeffrey S. Sallet has been named executive assistant director of the Human Resources Branch at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In his new role, Sallet will be responsible for overseeing the Human Resources, Training, Security, and Finance and Facilities Divisions.

Sallet previously served served as the associate executive assistant director of the Finance and Facilities Division.

Sallet’s career with the FBI career began in the New York Field Office, where he investigated public corruption, labor racketeering, organized crime, and counterterrorism cases. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he investigated how the attacks were funded and tracked al Qaeda’s financial assets.

From 2005 to 2007, Sallet served as a supervisory special agent in the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI headquarters, managing La Cosa Nostra investigations.

In 2007, Sallet became a supervisory special agent at the Providence Resident Agency in Rhode Island, which is a satellite office of the Boston Field Office.

In 2008, he began serving as supervisory senior resident agent in charge of all counterterrorism, public corruption, civil rights, government fraud, and organized crime investigations in Rhode Island.

In 2012, Sallet became assistant special agent in charge in the Boston Field Office, overseeing white-collar crime, public corruption, health care fraud, and civil rights matters. He also led the multi-law enforcement investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013.

In 2014, Sallet served as chief of the Public Corruption/Civil Rights Section in the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI headquarters.

He was named special agent in charge of the New Orleans Field Office in 2015 and then held the same position at the Chicago office in 2017.

In 2019, Sallet became associate executive assistant director of the Finance and Facilities Division.

Before joining the FBI, Sallet worked in the private sector as an auditor and forensic accountant. He is a certified public accountant and a certified financial forensics professional.