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Tag: ICE

Ex-ICE Agent Sentenced to 8 Months in Jail in Bribery Case

Courtesy of ICE

By Steve Neavling

A former ICE agent who received a bribe to satisfy his drug debt was sentenced to eight months in jail and three years of supervised release, the Justice Department announced Tuesday. 

Roberto Padilla, 51, was stationed in the El Paso station, received a $500 payment in exchange for revealing sensitive law enforcement information, according to court documents. 

“This former agent jeopardized his law enforcement career, his life and the reputation of his agency,” U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza of the Western District of Texas said.  “We will always vigorously prosecute public officials who abuse their authority, especially law enforcement officers who corruptly sell access to sensitive law enforcement databases.”

Padilla was arrested on Aug. 6, 2021, and fired 17 days later. 

“Roberto Padilla engaged in conduct that betrayed the oath he took to faithfully serve the citizens of the United States of America,” Jeffrey R. Downey, special agent in charge of the FBI’s El Paso Field Office said. “His behavior should not take away from the outstanding work done each day by the vast majority of law enforcement professionals at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

The FBI, Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, and ICE Office of Professional Responsibility investigated the case. 

Leaked List Shows 300+ Oath Keepers Members Worked for Homeland Security Agencies

By Steve Neavling

Hundreds of members of the far-right militia group, the Oath Keepers, are current or former employees of the Department of Homeland Security, according to a leaked membership list obtained by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO).

The list shows that more than 300 members of the extremists group described working for various DHS agencies, including the ICE, Secret Service and Border Patrol. 

The list, from 2015, likely doesn’t include all of the group’s members. 

Whether DHS is aware of the membership list is an open question. 

Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said last year that “extremism has no place at DHS and we will work with urgency and focus to address it.”

One member wrote, “I am currently a 20 year Special Agent with the United States Secret Service.” Another agent wrote, “I have been on President Clinton and President Bush’s protective detail. I was a member and instructor on the Presidential Protective Division’s Counter Assault Team.”

Some even described themselves as supervisors. 

One man wrote he is a “Current Supervisory Border Patrol Agent” in Southern California. Another worked at TSA headquarters in Arlington, Va. 

“Given what we’ve learned since January 6th about the extent of extremist beliefs and membership among elected officials and other government employees, these numbers are deeply troubling, yet not surprising,” U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., told the OCCRP. “What’s equally disturbing is the lack of transparency from the Department of Homeland Security on its methods for identifying, tracking, and eradicating this very real threat to our democracy and the rule of law.”

Former ICE Officer Indicted for Allegedly Stealing Funds While President of DHS-ICE Union

By Steve Neavling

A former ICE officer and head of a labor union was indicted in federal court for allegedly embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the union he represented.

Felix Luciano, 60, of San Diego, is accused of stealing union dues to finance his personal expenses, including luxury travel, personal credit card payments, checks to himself, payments to his wife’s business, retail purchases, dining and groceries, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. 

From 2011 to 2018, Luciano was president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 2805, which represents Homeland Security and ICE employees in San Diego and Imperial counties. 

Prosecutors alleges he concealed the theft by reporting false information on the union’s annual financial reports.

“When employees pay their hard-earned money into labor unions, they reasonably expect the officers of those organizations to be honest stewards of their dues,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said. “Our office will work diligently to pursue justice against offenders who have allegedly stolen from their own unions at the expense of members.”

70 Children Rescued by Multi-Agency Operation in Texas

Photo: ICE

By Steve Neavling

A multi-agency operation in Texas recovered 70 missing children in a three-week period, ICE announced Tuesday.

Operation Lost Souls was a joint effort involving Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in El Paso, the Texas Department of Public Safety and numerous other federal, state and local agencies. 

The operation ran from the end of April through mid-May in western Texas. 

The recovered children ranged in age from 10 to 17, and most were runaways. Some were victims of sex trafficking, as well as physical and sexual abuse. 

“Operation Lost Souls exemplifies Homeland Security Investigations’ commitment to protecting the public from crimes of victimization. In this case, we are looking out for our children – our community’s most precious resource,” El Paso Deputy Special Agent in Charge Taekuk Cho said in a statement. “HSI is committed to continue working with our law enforcement partners to locate, recover and help missing children heal, while ensuring that perpetrators are held responsible for these heinous crimes and brought to justice.”

Authorities attributed the success to teamwork. 

“At the Department of Public Safety, teamwork is one of our core values,” DPS Major Matthew Mull said. “We are grateful for all of our law enforcement partners who participated in this operation and who work around-the-clock every day to protect our communities, including our youth.”

Anyone with information about human trafficking is asked to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888.

Grand Jury Finds Federal Officer Justified in Killing Fugitive Who Shot at Him

By Steve Neavling

A grand jury found that a member of a U.S. Marshals fugitive task force did nothing wrong when he fatally shot a fugitive who shot at him and fellow officers at a New Jersey apartment, NJ Advance Media reports.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability investigated the case and presented it to the grand jury. 

The federal officer was identified as ICE Deportation Officer Sean Clayton. 

The shooting occurred on July 8, 2020, when Clayton and others on the U.S. Marshals Service NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force arrived at an apartment to arrest Canty, who was wanted on a parole violation and was suspected of fatally beating his former girlfriend in Harlem.

Once inside the apartment, the task force took several occupants, including children, to a front room. 

“Officers then heard and observed a person in a rear bedroom, recognizing him as Mr. Canty. The officers asked Mr. Canty to walk towards them, but he did not comply. Instead he closed the bedroom door,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement.

When the task force opened a bedroom door, Canty was pointing a gun at officers. 

“Mr. Canty then fired in the direction of the officers. Officer Clayton returned fire, fatally wounding Mr. Canty,” the statement said.

Canty, who died at the scene, had a loaded 9mm handgun. 

“After considering the facts, evidence, and testimony from the (Office of Public Integrity and Accountability) investigation, the state grand jury found the actions of the officer were justified and therefore no charges should be brought against the officer,” according to the attorney general’s office statement. “An officer may use deadly force in New Jersey when the officer reasonably believes it is immediately necessary to protect the officer or another person from imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.”

Biden Renominates Texas Sheriff to Lead ICE

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has been nominated to head ICE.

By Steve Neavling

President Biden nominated for a second time Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzaelez to be the next director of ICE. 

ICE has not had a confirmed director since January 2017, when Sarah Saldaña retired. 

In April 2020, Biden first nominated Gonzalez, an outspoken critic of Donald Trump’s immigration policies. But the nomination stalled in the Senate and expired at the end of the year. 

Gonzalez was elected sheriff of Harris County, which includes Houston, in 2016 and reelected in 2020. 

Gonzalez will likely face opposition from Republicans for a second time. 

Gonzalez has criticized Trump’s deportation policies and the separation of migrant children from their families. 

His law enforcement career began in the Houston Police Department, and he later served three terms on the Houston City Council. 

Gonzalez has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Houston Downtown and a master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas. 

Homeland Security Investigations Wants a Divorce from ICE

By Steve Neavling

Hampered by ICE’s negative reputation, federal agents from Homeland Security Investigations are making a dramatic proposal: Leave ICE. 

The suggestion was laid out in a report obtained by The Washington Post.

“Separating HSI into its own standalone agency is not simply a branding preference,” agents said in the document. “HSI’s affiliation with ICE significantly impedes investigations and HSI’s ability to fulfill its mission.”

The agents said their relationship with ICE is endangering their safety, frightening crime victims, and undermining their partnerships with other agencies. 

Congressional approval would be needed to break HSI from ICE. 

Some Homeland Security Agents to Begin Wearing Body Cams

Photo: Shutterstock

By Steve Neavling

Dozens of Homeland Security agents will begin wearing body cams as part of a six-month pilot program. 

The cameras will be worn by 55 Homeland Security Investigations agents in Houston, Newark, New Jersey and New York, the Associated Press reports.

The idea is to examine the cost and benefits of the technology. 

The pilot is expected to be expanded to include officers involved in immigration enforcement arrests. 

While many local and state law enforcement wear body cameras, federal agents have not. 

ATF agents in Phoenix and Detroit began wearing body cams in September.

In August, CBP announced that about a third of Border Patrol agents will wear body cameras by the end of this year.

In June, the Justice Department’s Inspector General said federal law enforcement agencies were “generally unprepared” to adopt the widespread use of body cameras.

In the last decade, the Justice Department issued $150 million in grants for camera programs, but none of that money went to the ATF, FBI, DEA, or U.S. Marshals Service.