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Tag: DEA

Texas Man Sentenced to 90 Months in Prison for Pointing Shotgun at DEA Agents

By Steve Neavling

A Texas man has been sentenced to 90 months in federal prison after he pointed a shotgun at DEA agents who were trying to serve a search warrant at his home in Bandera County in 2016. 

Agents shot Luther Otis Foster IV after he leveled the shotgun at them and threatened to shoot. He has since recovered. 

During the raid, agents found a large number of marijuana plants. 

“Pointing a weapon at or threatening a federal agent is never a wise choice,” U.S. Attorney Sofer said in a statement. “It is fortunate that no one lost their life in this incident.  Unfortunately, today in Florida, a similar scenario ended in heartbreaking tragedy.  We should never forget the dangers our law enforcement officers face every day.”

Foster pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and four counts of assaulting a federal officer with a dangerous weapon in November 2018. 

The sentencing comes on the same week that five FBI agents were shot while serving a search warrant at a home in Florida. Two of the agents have died. On Thursday, a U.S. Marshals deputy was critically wounded during a gunfight in Baltimore while they were trying to execute a search warrant.

Justin King Named Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s Omaha Division

The DEA’s Omaha Division has a new leader. 

Justin C. King has been named special agent in charge of the division, which oversees 11 offices in Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska North Dakota, and the western parts of Illinois and Wisconsin.

King replaces Richard Salter Jr., who retired from the DEA in January.

“I understand and appreciate the concerns our Midwestern communities face as we contend with the threats posed by methamphetamine, counterfeit pills, opioids and other dangerous drugs on a daily basis,” King said in a statement. “I look forward to advancing the good work our investigators are performing across Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota and making a positive impact in our cities and rural communities.”

King’s career with the DEA began 19 years ago, when he joined the Laredo, Texas, District Office. In 2006, he was added to the DEA’s Foreign-Deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST), where he served until 2009. As a member of FAST, King participated in counter narcotics operations during three deployments to Afghanistan and one to Central America.    

In 20019, King transferred to the Oklahoma City District Office and served as a special agent and group supervisor of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force through 2014. King returned to the FAST program in August 2014 as a team leader, guiding his group on the final DEA FAST deployment to Afghanistan, in addition to training deployments in the Ukraine and Paraguay. 

In 2017, King was promoted to section chief and was tasked with the enforcement and training deployments of four FAST teams and the DEA Personal Recovery Unit. He served as executive assistant to the special agent in charge of the DEA’s Office of Training from April 2017 to January 2018.

King served three years as assistant special agent in charge of the Little Rock District Office, where he was responsible for all DEA activities in the state of Arkansas.

A native of Oklahoma, King is a veteran of the U.S. Army Infantry Branch.

Jason A. Forget Takes Over As Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s Washington Division

DEA Special Agent in Charge Jarod Forget.

By Steve Neavling

Jarod A. Forget, a 17-year veteran of the DEA, has been named special agent in charge of the agency’s Washington Division. 

Forget was promoted from his role as assistant special agent of the Washington Division, where he oversaw groups across Norther Virginia, Maryland and D.C. and established the new D.C. Heroin-Violent Crime Task Force.   

“SAC Forget brings with him a depth of experience, knowledge, and ability that will greatly benefit the Washington Division and the local community,” DEA Acting Administrator Timothy J. Shea said in a statement. “I’m confident SAC Forget will embody the highest standards of DEA excellence in his new role as he has throughout his career.”

In 2004, Forget joined the DEA, serving as a special agent assigned to the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force. He went on to work at the Guadalajara, Mexico Office, where he directed enforcement operations against Mexico’s most notorious and ruthless drug cartels, such as the Sinaloa Cartel and the New Generation Jalisco Cartel.

Forget has also held leadership positions in the Miami Division, the Office of Professional Responsibility, and the Washington Division. 

“He has led many global enforcement operations, worked to disrupt violent, large-scale, international drug trafficking organizations, shut down illicit opioid dealers from China and Mexico, and established collaborative strike forces to combat local community issues like violent crime and opioids,” the DEA said.

“Forget has a passion for the value of community-oriented policing, helping families affected by overdose, and keeping our neighborhoods safe from the scourge of violence drug trafficking can bring. In addition, Forget is keenly interested in local youth development through outreach and engagement organizations, and plans to continue and develop community outreach programs throughout the region.”

A Massachusetts native, Forget received a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in international affairs from Northeastern University. He also a fluent Spanish speaker.

Off-Duty DEA Agent Accused of Misusing Badge in Encounter with Noisy Neighbor

By Steve Neavling

The DEA is investigating one of its off-duty undercover agents who is accused of misusing her badge in an attempt to get her neighbors in Texas to turn down their music on New Year’s Eve. 

One of the neighbors, James Downs, of Hillsborough County, filed a complaint against the unnamed agent, ABC affiliate WFTS reports.

The tense exchange was caught on a surveillance camera. It happened shortly after midnight, when the agent knocked on the neighbor’s door and requested he turned down the music. 

“Turn it down, turn it down,” the agent says while flashing a badge. “It’s the last time I come here. Yeah, turn it down.”

Downs’ wife Christina Downs said the agent’s actions are “an abuse of power that is way completely unacceptable.” 

“I felt like it was very unethical and so unprofessional and such a terrible way to represent that agency,” she said. 

Plant City Police Sgt. Alfred Van Duyne agreed. 

“If it were me I would be looking at it that it reflects badly on my agency as well as myself,” Van Duyne said.

A DEA spokeswoman confirmed the agency is investigating the complaint. 

Barr Struck Deal with Mexico to Release Ex-Defense Minister for Senior Cartel Leader

Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, former Mexican defense minister.

By Steve Neavling

Mexican authorities agreed to arrest a senior cartel leader in exchange for Attorney General William Barr dismissing drug trafficking charges against former Mexican Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda.

The deal, first reported by Reuters, sheds more light on an unusual decision that drew criticism from some in Congress and the State Department, as well as former DEA agents.

“Mexico committed to collaborate with the United States in the capture of a primary objective,” a source told Reuters

Daniel Millan, spokesman for Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, responded, “what we agreed was to maintain a united front against crime and cooperation that respects the sovereignty of each country.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman denied both countries had a deal. 

Last week, multiple news outlets reported that Mexican officials were so incensed with the arrest of Cienfuegos that they threaten to remove the DEA from the country.

The unidentified cartel leader is suspected of trafficking large quantities of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that kills tens of thousands of Americans a year. 

DOJ to Allow Local, State Police to Wear Body Cameras During Task Force Arrests

Body cams, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department has reversed its ban on body cameras, saying state and local law enforcement may wear the devices during some joint operations with federal law enforcement. 

The move comes after some police officials have said the ban violates their public accountability policies. The DOJ had worried body cams would reveal the identities of undercover agents.

Under the change announced Thursday, federally deputized officers may activate body cams while serving arrest warrants or making other planned arrest operations while on a federal task force. 

“After spending a substantial amount of time examining this issue, assessing the results of the pilot program, and taking into account the interests and priorities of all the law enforcement agencies involved, I am pleased to announce that the department will permit the use of body-worn cameras on our federal task forces in specific circumstances,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement.  “The Department of Justice has no higher priority than ensuring the safety and security of the American people and this policy will continue to help us fulfill that mission.”

The Justice Department’s task forces include the ATF, DEA, FBI and U.S. Marshals Service. 

The task forces launched a pilot in January 2020 to allow local police to use body cams. Those include the Houston Police Department, Detroit Police Department, Wichita Police Department, Salt Lake City Police Department and Park City Police Department. 

FBI Director Christopher Wray spoke in favor of the ban reversal. 

“The FBI values the collaborative efforts of our state, local, and tribal partners, as they are integral to the success of our common mission to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution,” Wray said in a statement. “We hope this program will enable us to further expand these efforts and build upon deep-rooted relationships within our communities.”

Ex-DEA Spokesman Sentenced to 7 years in prison for Posing As CIA Operative in Elaborate $4 Million Fraud Scheme

Garrison Kenneth Courtney. Photo via Alexandria Sheriff’s Office.

By Steve Neavling

A former DEA spokesman to seven years in prison Wednesday to posing as an undercover CIA operative to defraud government contractors out of more than $4 million.

Garrison Kenneth Courtney, who served as a DEA spokesman between 2005 and 2009, pleaded guilty in June to one count of wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va.

Prosecutors said the 44-year-old Florida resident posed as a covert CIA officer serving on a highly classified task force, whose mission was to enhance the intelligence-gathering capabilities of the U.S. government.

No such task force existed, and Courtney had never worked for the CIA.

“Courtney’s brazen and salacious fraud was centered on the lie that he was involved in a highly-classified intelligence program and that he was a covered CIA officer engaged in significant national security work,” G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. attorney in the Eastern of Virginia, said in a statement.

“In fact, Courtney never worked for the CIA, the supposed classified program did not exist, and Courtney invented the elaborate lie to cheat his victims out of over $4.4 million,” Terwilliger said.

As part of the scheme, Courtney convinced several public officials that he was a CIA operative and told them they had been chosen to participate in the program, using “those officials as unwitting props falsely to burnish his legitimacy,” prosecutors said. The government officials unwittingly repeated those claims to the companies, giving his scheme an air of legitimacy.

The investigation was carried out by multiple law enforcement agencies.

Terwilliger had faced up to 20 years in prison. 

‘Operation Legend’ Nets Nearly 5,000 Arrests in 9 Cities, Barr Announces

Attorney General William Barr, via DOJ.

By Steve Neavling

Nearly 5,000 people have been arrested across nine cities as part of “Operation Legend,” an anti-crime initiative launched by the Justice Department in July, Attorney General William Barr announced Tuesday. 

Since the operation began on July 8, federal authorities and their local partners have arrested 267 murder suspects and seized roughly 16 kilos of fentanyl, 200 kilos of methamphetamine, 30 kilos of cocaine, and more than $7.3 million in drug proceeds.

Of those arrested, 1,124 have been charged with federal offenses. More than 600 have been charged with firearms offenses, and 440 have been charged with drug-elated crimes. 

The operation involves more than 1,000 agents from the ATF, DEA, and FBI, along with the U.S. Marshals Service, in nine cities: Chicago, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Memphis, Kansas City and Indianapolis. The operation is named in honor of LeGend Taliferro, a 4-year-old boy who was fatally shot while he was sleeping in the morning of June 29 in Kansas City.

To see a breakdown by city, click here.