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Tag: Homeland Security

Federal Investigation Targets Baseball Clubs That Sign Cuban Defectors

major league baseballBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal investigation into the smuggling of Cuban baseball players to the U.S. is targeting MLB team officials, ESPN.com reports. 

Professional baseball has seen a proliferation in Cuban baseball players, many of whom have been skittish about the investigation and have refused to talk to investigators from Homeland Security and the FBI.

The investigation, Operation Safety Squeeze and Operation of Summer, has gone beyond smuggler and handlers to MLB team officials who are suspected of ignoring criminal activity in order to sign highly prized players.

The MLB commissioner’s office has received two subpoenas for internal communications and other documents related to Cuban defectors and their affiliation with baseball teams

“MLB has been informed by federal law enforcement authorities that neither it nor its personnel are the focus of any criminal inquiry. MLB has consistently cooperated – and will continue to cooperate –with the appropriate government authorities to protect our Cuban players from the dangers posed by human smugglers,” said Dan Halem, Major League Baseball’s chief legal officer.

Homeland Security Employee, 2 Family Members Murdered in ‘Witchcraft’ Killing

Blue Moon/Wikipedia

Blue Moon/Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Three family members in Florida, including a Homeland Security employee, were beaten with a claw hammer and their throats were slit in a triple murder that appears to be tied to “witchcraft” and the blue moon, The Washington Post reports. 

Law enforcement said the gruesome attack near Pensacola, Fla., was being investigated as a “ritualistic killing.” Killed were Voncile Smith, 77, and her sons John William Smith, 49; and Richard Thomas Smith, 47, a Homeland Security employee who also was shot in the head.

“The elements of this case are odd, at best,” Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said at a news conference, as Reuters reported. “We have a very reclusive family. Obviously we’ve canvassed the neighborhood, spoken to people who’ve lived there for years and years. Neighbors have related to us that they’ve never met members of this family.”

Police said they have an person of interest “with ties to witchcraft.”

“Initial research has led us to believe it was a ritualistic killing,” Morgan also said, as the Pensacola News Journal reported. “The method of the murder — blunt force trauma, slit throats, positioning of bodies — and our person of interest has some ties to a faith or religion that is indicative of that. The time of the death on Tuesday also coincides with what’s referred to as a blue moon, which occurs every three years.”

Homeland Security Warns That Recreational Drones Could Be Used in Domestic Attacks

DroneBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Store-bought drones are becoming very popular to even amateur photographers and videographers.

Now Homeland Security officials are warning that many sites across the country are vulnerable to an attack by drone, ABC News reports. 

DHS added that drones have been used overseas to launch terrorist attacks.

“We cannot rule [out] the ability of future adversaries to acquire and use a commercially available [drone] as part of an attack within the Homeland,” according to the assessment issued Friday by the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis, or I&A.

Another fear is that drug-trafficking organizations are using drones to get over the U.S. border.

Ohio Homeland Security Chief Dies After Decades of Helping Residents

Richard Baron

Richard Baron

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Ohio Homeland Security lost its leader.

Richard Baron, executive director of the agency, died Tuesday following an illness, the Columbus Dispatch. 

Baron, 54, of Westerville, headed up security issues since September 2011.

Before taking the top Homeland Security job, Baron served 25 years with the State Highway Patrol and retired as captain in 2012. Prior to his State Highway Patrol job, Baron was a police officer and firefighter.

“He was an inspirational leader … a good man in every sense,” Department of Public Safety Director John Born said of his patrol academy classmate from 1987.

Congress Mulls Plan to Create Separate Unit to Investigate Terrorism

homeland2department-of-homeland-security-logo-300x300By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Fearing that Homeland Security is not equipped to combat violent extremism, key lawmakers in Washington passed legislation Wednesday that would create a single office dedicated to focusing solely on terrorism.

The Washington Times reports that members of the House Committee on Homeland Security butted heads over how best to handle the shortcomings.

The overhaul could be a hard sell because it hasn’t been endorsed or even introduced as an alternative by Homeland Security.

“There is no DHS strategic plan to provide clarity about how the $40 million in dedicated funding and expanded authorities would be utilized,” hRep, Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the top Democrat on the panel,e said. “There is no testimony from DHS, in an open setting, in response to concerns about transparency and the concerns that many Americans have about how current CVE (countering violent extremism) programs are being carried out.”

House Republicans Lash Out at Homeland Security After Pier Killing

US CapitolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

House Republicans expressed outrage over the Obama administration’s release of an immigrant who is accused of later murdering a woman in San Francisco, The Associated Press reports. 

The Mexican National Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez had a long criminal record and was released from federal custody in San Francisco, where he is accused of committing murder.

Republicans were angry that the man was turned over to San Francisco, a so-called “sanctuary city” that minimizes cooperation with federal authorities over immigration issues.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson responded that he will explore whether a new approach is needed.

“I want to evaluate whether some discretion can be built into the process so when we’re faced with a choice like that, we can make the best decision for the purposes of public safety,” Johnson told the House Judiciary Committee.

Kathryn Steinle was murdered on July 1 on a popular pier in broad daylight.

Dallas Morning News: Time to Hold Border Patrol More Accountable

border patrol 3By Editorial Board
The Dallas Morning News

Thousands of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers face a difficult mission as they work daily to halt illegal immigration and drug smuggling on America’s southern frontier. But there’s no excuse for the dozens of suspicious shootings and other abuses in recent years by minimally accountable border officers.

A June 29 Homeland Security Advisory Council report calls for greater accountability by adding hundreds of internal affairs investigators to Customs and Border Protection’s 44,000-member law-enforcement staff. The report contrasts the agency’s extraordinarily high number of arrests with those of similarly sized urban police forces and concludes that the agency lacks adequate checks and balances against abuse.

It’s disconcerting that the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees U.S. Customs and Border Protection, parent agency of the Border Patrol, has waited so long to institute reforms, especially considering persistent reports of corruption and misconduct among border law enforcers.

An internal investigation identified 67 Border Patrol shooting incidents in which 19 civilians died — including an unarmed Mexican boy killed during a rock-throwing incident at the El Paso border bridge in 2010.

Other notorious cases involved a youth’s shooting death as he stood on the Mexican side of the border fence near Nogales, Ariz., and a 19-year-old American shot dead while climbing from the U.S. side of the fence into Mexico. An agent on a Border Patrol boat in the Rio Grande killed a 37-year-old man who had been picnicking with his family on the Mexican riverside near Laredo in 2012.

In 64 such cases, the agents involved were absolved. Three cases remain under investigation.

A big part of the problem is that the border zone exists in a legal gray area where neither country’s laws fully apply, especially if an agent’s bullet crosses the border to hit a target on the other side.

A 2003 Homeland Security reorganization added to the problem by reducing the number of internal affairs investigators to zero, the report says. Currently, there are only 218 internal affairs investigators for a Customs and Border Protection workforce of 60,000, more than two-thirds of whom are law enforcers.

The advisory council report calls for a net increase of 350 investigators to address corruption and misconduct allegations in a timely fashion. It also calls for revised use-of-force guidelines emphasizing agents’ “overarching responsibility” for preserving human life.

Other recommendations call for the use of body cameras, limiting agents’ use of firearms against individuals throwing nonlethal items, such as rocks, and for ending use of firearms in car-chase scenarios.

These are common-sense measures that most urban police forces already employ. Border enforcement is serious business, but not so serious that innocents and nonlethal offenders deserve to pay for tighter security with their lives.

To read more click here. 

Secret Service, Obama, Former Presidents Celebrate Agency’s 150th anniversary

Secret Service photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Obama and other four former presidents joined Secret Service officials to celebrate the agency’s 150th anniversary.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secret Service Director Joe Clancy gave brief speeches at the small, private gathering inside the National Archives building Tuesday, CNN reports. 

The nation’s four living former presidents – Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush – delivered video speeches in what CNN described as “a rare and poignant tribute that could only be reserved for the Secret Service.”

This come amidst troubles in the agency that caused a shakeup in leadership, but officials managed to stay clear of that subject during the celebration.