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Tag: ICE

ICE Agent Pleads Guilty in NJ Drug Sting

beeBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent pleaded guilty Wednesday in Newark to conspiring to steal what he thought was a large quantity of cocaine from a purported drug dealer. It turned out to be a sting conducted by ICE.

Valentino Johnson, 26, of Brooklyn, who was working as an ICE agent in Manhattan at the time of the crime, was allowed to remain free pending his Oct. 13 sentencing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark said.

Authorities charged that Johnson conspired with others including an ICE confidential informant to steal what he thought was a large quantity of cocaine stashed in a Newark warehouse. He then planned to distribute the drugs,with profits to be split among his partners in crime.

Johnson and his co-conspirators traveled to Newark on September 10, 2009, the day before the planned burglary, to inspect the warehouse, authorities said. They returned the next day to steal the goods.

Once they arrived at the warehouse, one of the men used bolt cutters to get access to the inside of the warehouse.

Johnson and one of the men then entered and “unloaded what they believed to be kilograms of cocaine from a truck parked inside” while another person stood watch. The drugs ended up being “50 kilograms of sham cocaine”, according to an affidavit by ICE special agent Michael Riley.

The three were arrested as part of the ICE investigation, authorities said.

Read Criminal Complaint and Affidavit

ICE Working to Rebrand Its Image

John Morton

John Morton

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement known as ICE has an image problem.

So ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton plans to “re-brand”, realign its duties and emphasize criminal investigations over immigrant deportations, the Washington Post is reporting.

“By streamlining and renaming several offices, officials hope to highlight the agency’s counterterrorism, money laundering and other complex criminal investigations and in the process “re-brand” ICE, turning the public — and political — spotlight away from its immigration work,” the Post wrote.

To read full story click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Senior ICE Attorney Convicted of Taking Bribes: Caught in FBI Sting

iceBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A senior attorney with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was convicted Tuesday in Los Angeles  federal court of  taking a series of bribes from immigrants seeking documentation to remain in the U.S., the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

ICE Assistant Chief Counsel Constantine Peter Kallas, 39, of Alta Loma, Calif. was convicted following a three week trial, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

“Mr. Kallas was a corrupt government official who abused his position of trust to line his own pockets,” U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. said in a statement.

Authorities said Kallen has been in federal prison since August 2008, about two months after he was busted in an FBI  sting and videotaped at the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino in Highland, Calif. “where he and his wife accepted a bribe from an immigrant”, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

He accepted a series of bribes, some as high as $20,000, authorities said.

Authorities said court documents show that besides Kallas’ salary,  the couple had deposited $950,000 in their bank accounts since 2000.

A search of their home turned up more than $177,0000 in cash, authorities said.

ICE & Marshals International Manhunt Nets Man Who Posed as Attorney for Detained Missionaries in Haiti

Jorge Torres-Puello/govt photo

Jorge Torres-Puello/govt photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

An international manhunt resulted in the capture late last week of Jorge Torres-Puello aka Jorge Torres Orellana, who posed as an attorney for the Idaho  church missionaries, who were detained in Haiti on kidnapping and abduction charges.

He was wanted in El Salvador, the U.S. and Canada for crimes against children, sexual exploitation of minors for pornography, organized crime and human trafficking, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.

Authorities say that Torres-Puello contacted the church in Idaho shortly after the arrest of the missionaries and said he had legal authority in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  He then received a retainer from the family of the missionaries and represented himself to the court and media as an attorney and spokesman for the group. He has no legal training as a lawyer.

ICE, the U.S. Marshals and other law enforcement agencies tracked Torres-Puello down on Thursday in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, authorities said.

“The location and arrest of this fugitive, wanted by three countries on some of the most egregious charges that ICE investigates, is an example of top-notch cooperation among law enforcement agencies in all these countries and our colleagues at INTERPOL,” John Morton, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a statement. “Hiding behind fake names or using phony identifications and passports will not protect those who prey on the most vulnerable in our societies. Together we will find you and bring you to justice.”

Second New Orleans Cop — Who is Now an ICE Agent — Charged in Cover Up of 2005 Police Shootings

new-orleans-map-istock
Udate: Thursday 11:40 a.m. — The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Ex-Cop Jeffrey Lehrmann pleaded guilty this morning  to misprision of a felony (a charge for concealing a known felony), for failing to report a conspiracy to obstruct justice in the investigation of a police-involved shooting on the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans. To read press release click here.
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A second ex-New Orleans cop — who is now an agent with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Arizona — has been federally charged with covering up the infamous Danziger Bridge police shootings in 2005 just after Hurricane Katrina that resulted in two deaths and four injuries, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

The paper reported that Jeffrey Lehrmann, 38, was charged with misprision of a felony or failing to report a crime. He is expected to appear in U.S. District Court in New Orleans Thursday and is cooperating with federal authorities, the paper reported.

Lerhmann was not involved in the shootings, but was tasked with interviewing witnesses.

Last month, Lt. Michael Lohman pleaded guilty Feb. 24 to conspiring to obstruct justice. He too was involved in investigating the case and covering up the findings.

The New Orleans paper reported that authorities charged that “Lehrmann knew of the conspiracy among his fellow officers to obstruct justice and participated in the ‘creation of false reports and the provision of false information to investigating agents’.”

To read full story click here.

Calif. Man Charged With Taking Exams for Foreign Students From Such Nations as Saudia Arabia and Kuwait

ICE shows evidence of fraudulent tests/ice photo

ICE shows evidence of fraudulent tests/ice photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

An Orange County, Calif. man has been charged with running a massive visa fraud scheme that involved taking exams for students from counties like Saudia Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Kuwait, Turkey and Qatar so they could maintain their lawful immigration status, authorities said Monday.

Eamon Daniel Higgins, 46, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., was charged with one count of conspiring to commit visa fraud.

Authorities alleged that Higgins and associates took college classes, exams and placement tests in exchange for money. He charged up to $1,500 to complete final examinations and other classroom work and $1,000 for English proficiency exams.

On Monday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 16 foreign students linked to the probe, authorities said. Six were arrested for committing visa fraud and 10 were arrested on administrative immigration violations.

“Visa fraud poses a significant security vulnerability and undermines the integrity of our nation’s legal immigration system,” Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary John Morton who oversees ICE said in a statement. “As this case shows, we will move aggressively to identify and prosecute those who engage in fraud and corrupt the immigration process for profit.”

Authorities Find Mexico-U.S. Tunnel with Lighting, Ventilation and Elevator

tijuana mapBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Mexican authorities, acting on info from U.S. federal investigators, shut down a yet to be completed underground tunnel on Wednesday that originated in Tijuana, Mexico and extended 860 feet into San Diego.

The tunnel, measuring just under 1000 feet in length and 90 to 100 feet in depth, had lighting, ventilation and an elevator system, the Drug Enforcement Administration said. The tunnel did not yet have an entry point in the U.S.

“The discovery of this unfinished tunnel bears witness to the extraordinary cooperation between all agencies involved in the task force and the Government of Mexico,” Ralph W. Partridge, DEA special agent in charge of the San Diego office  said in a statement. “It is extremely important to the San Diego area and the entire United States that his cooperative effort stopped the completion of this drug smuggling corridor before even an ounce of drugs could be transported through it.”

Authorities said the Mexican government arrested more than a dozen people inside the tunnel, which may have been under construction for about two years.

The Mexican government acted on information provided by the San Diego Tunnel Task Force comprised of multiple agencies.

Undercover ICE Agent’s Life Spared in Colombia When Traffickers Learn of his Identity

colombiaBY GERARDO REYES
Miami Herald

MIAMI — Luis Angel Ortiz was being driven to a party in Medellín when the car came to a halt and a man in the back seat put a gun to his head.

Time to pay up, Ortiz was told.

The threat came from the chief of a Medellín drug trafficking gang.

So began a 48-hour drama in Colombia that kept Ortiz — a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who had infiltrated the gang — teetering on the edge of death.

But Ortiz escaped execution when his captors discovered that he was an American antidrug agent.

According to Ortiz’s account to the FBI, his kidnappers panicked, apologized — and even surrendered a firearm while they asked him not to expose them, according to an FBI report obtained by El Nuevo Herald.

For Full Story