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Tag: Drugs

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.

Ex-Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Pleads Guilty to Stealing FBI Funds

Allen Scott Pillow

By Steve Neavling

A former Green County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant in Arkansas pleaded guilty Monday to stealing more than $30,000 in FBI money that was part of a fake drug operation. 

Allen Scott Pillow, 56, was convicted on one count of theft of government funds and faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced at a later date. 

Acting on a tip that Pillow was abusing his role with the sheriff’s office, FBI agents conducted a ruse narcotic investigation and asked Pillow for help. In November 2019, the FBI staged a glass drug pipe in a vehicle rented by the FBI, along with $76,000 in cash in a red backpack. 

Pillow searched the car and found the glass pipe and backpack full of cash. He told the FBI that he recovered $45,600, which was $30,400 less than was in the car. 

During a search of Pillow’s home, the FBI found all but $280 of the stolen funds.       

“The vast majority of law enforcement officers are honorable men and women who put their lives on the line every day to preserve our liberty and safety,” United States Attorney Cody Hiland said in a statement. “On the very rare occasion that we encounter corruption within law enforcement, we will take every action necessary to root it out. Our office will hold accountable any officer who violates the public trust so that we may uphold the integrity of a profession that deserves our gratitude and respect.”

Diane Upchurch, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Little Rock Field Office, added, “The appalling criminal actions of former Lt. Scott Pillow revealed his lack of integrity and greed. “Quite simply, he betrayed his brothers and sisters in law enforcement. Officers who are sworn to protect and serve are held to a higher standard, and FBI Little Rock will continue to uphold Arkansans’ trust in law enforcement.”

‘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.

DEA Makes Largest Meth Bust in Its History – 2,224 Pounds

The DEA’s biggest methamphetamine seizure. Photo via DEA.

By Steve Neavling

The DEA on Wednesday announced the biggest methamphetamine seizure in American history: 2,224 pounds of the drug recovered in California.  

The Oct. 2 bust took place at stash houses in Riverside County that were connected with the Sinaloa cartel, The Los Angeles Times reports. The DEA also seized 13 pounds of heroin and 893 pounds of cocaine.

The announcement came just three days before CBP announced its second largest methamphetamine seizure on Oct. 9 at the Otay Mesa Port Entry in San Diego. CBP officers seized more than 3,100 pounds of methamphetamine, along with 64 pounds heroin, 29 pounds of fentanyl powder and 37 pounds of pills. 

Together, the seizures “are more than enough to provide a dose of meth for every man, woman and child in the United States and Mexico,” Timothy Shea, acting administrator of the DEA, said Wednesday at a news conference.

Authorities have seen a dramatic increase in methamphetamine seizures near the border. Last year, meth overdoses rose 25%, Shea said. 

Border Patrol Makes Second-Largest Meth Bust Along Southwest Border

More than 3,100 pounds of meth were seized at the Otay Mesa Port Entry in San Diego.

By Steve Neavling

CBP officers made the second-largest methamphetamine bust ever along the Southwest border, seizing more than 3,100 pounds of the drug, along with 64 pounds heroin, 29 pounds of fentanyl powder and 37 pounds of pills. 

The drugs were found in a tractor-trailer on Oct. 9 at the Otay Mesa Port Entry in San Diego. 

A CBP officer ordered the driver of the truck to pull over for an inspection. Using the port’s imaging system, which is similar to an x-ray, CBP officers grew suspicious and sent the conveyance to a dock, where a canine alerted authorities to boxes inside the trailer. 

The drugs were co-mingled with medical supplies. 

The estimated value of the drugs is $7.2 million, CBP said.  

“Smugglers will try every way possible to try and get their product across the border and because of the partnership between CBP, Homeland Security investigations and DEA this significant seizure occurred and we stopped them,” Anne Maricich, acting CBP director of field operations in San Diego, said in a statement. “I’m proud of the CBP officers’ dedication to our mission; they continue to stop dangerous drugs from entering our communities.”

The driver, a 47-year-old Mexican resident, was arrested and turned over to ICE, Homeland Security Investigations and the DEA for further investigation. 

“This massive seizure is testament of what law enforcement agencies can do when we combine forces – prevent over $7 million worth of deadly drugs from entering our country; thus saving countless lives from addiction and overdose deaths,” DEA Special Agent in Charge John W. Callery said. “DEA cherishes our great law enforcement partners in San Diego, especially those who work tirelessly to protect our nation’s borders.  We will continue to work together to disrupt drug trafficking organizations at every opportunity we are given.” 

Inside the truck where 3,100 pounds of meth were found.

New York Pharmacist Sent Cocaine in a Greeting Card To DEA Agent, Prosecutors Say

By Steve Neavling

A New York pharmacist is accused of sending powdered cocaine in a greeting card to a DEA agent after discovering his business was under investigation, the Justice Department said. 

The idea was to disrupt the investigation, but the plan failed. 

Dimitrios Lymberatos, 34, is charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice for seeking to “interfere with the investigation through intimidation,” acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss of the Southern District of New York said in a statement.

“Lymberatos’s misguided message was received loud and clear – and he now faces the possibility of a lengthy prison term for his potentially harmful attempt to obstruct law enforcement,” Strauss said. 

The DEA began investigating the pharmacy in November 2019 over discrepancies in a registration application, delaying his ability to receive authorization to dispense controlled substances.

Frustrated with the impact on his pharmacy, Lymberatos hired a private investigator to learn more about the DEA investigator. After discovering the agent’s home address, he sent her a greeting card with several packets of cocaine. 

When the agent received the card and found white powder inside, she alerted law enforcement and went to the hospital for a toxicology screening. 

Prosecutors say the motive was to create “fear” for the agent’s “physical safety, and to create trouble for the Investigator by causing her to come into possession of an illegal controlled substance.”

“One of our own diversion investigators was allegedly targeted simply for doing their job, and as such, Mr. Lymberatos’s alleged actions as a pharmacist and licensed professional were completely unconscionable,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Raymond Donovan said. “Thankfully, due to the diligent work of our Tactical Diversion Squads, he will be brought to justice.” 

DOJ Operation Leads to Largest Seizure of Drugs Sold on Darknet sites

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Federal investigators have arrested dozens of people accused of trafficking drugs through Darknet sites, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

The operation led to the seizure of more than $6.5 million in cash and virtual currencies, about 274 kilograms of drugs ranging from fentanyl and oxycodone to methamphetamine to heroin in the U.S., and 63 firearms.

The busts were part of operation DisrupTor, an international effort involving the Justice Department and law enforcement partners in Europe. It was the largest seizure of drugs sold online in U.S. history.

Darknet sites, which are on encrypted networks to make access difficult, have become a popular way to distribute illicit drugs.

“Criminals selling fentanyl on the Darknet should pay attention to Operation DisrupTor,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said in a news release. “The arrest of 179 of them in seven countries—with the seizure of their drug supplies and their money as well — shows that there will be no safe haven for drug dealing in cyberspace.”

“With the spike in opioid-related overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize that today’s announcement is important and timely,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said. “The FBI wants to assure the American public, and the world, that we are committed to identifying Darknet drug dealers and bringing them to justice.  But our work does not end with today’s announcement. The FBI, through JCODE and our partnership with Europol, continues to be actively engaged in a combined effort to disrupt the borderless, worldwide trade of illicit drugs. The FBI will continue to use all investigative techniques and tools to identify and prosecute Darknet opioid dealers, wherever they may be located.”

Click here to read prepared remarks on the busts.

Alarming Amount of Meth Disguised in Liquid Form Is Crossing Border

Seized liquid methamphetamine, via DEA.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Drug smugglers are crossing the border with an alarming amount of methamphetamine disguised in liquid form.

Federal authorities have found it in gas tanks, coolant containers, storage jugs, and bottles of water, pop and apple juice.

So far this fiscal year, feds have seized more than 141,000 pounds of meth, up from 68,585 the previous year.

After liquid meth crosses the border, drug dealers dehydrate it to return it to its crystal form.

“We have seen an increase in the methamphetamine seizures by various agencies to include DEA, DPS and Border Patrol, significant quantities of methamphetamine being smuggled,” Dante Sorianello, the assistant special agent in charge of the DEA in the San Antonio district, told News4SA.