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Tag: Texas

FBI Investigating Texas AG Ken Paxton Over Allegations of Bribery, Other Crimes

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is investigating Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on allegations that he used his office to help a wealthy donor.

Former members of Paxton’s staff say he used his office to commit bribery and other crimes to benefit Austin real estate developer Nate Paul in several ways, The Associated Press first reported.

Paxton has been dogged with allegations of wrongdoing since his top deputies, who have since resigned or been fired, tipped off federal authorities about actions they allege are illegal. Four aides have been fired, prompting a whistleblower lawsuit against Paxton, a second-term Republican who has denied wrongdoing.

“After reviewing the claims made by former employees of this office, their allegations are overblown, based upon assumptions, and to a large degree misrepresent the facts,” Paxton said in a statement. “Unfortunately these attorneys chose to air their grievances through the media and through the courts, rather than established and objective internal processes.”

Among the allegations are that Paxton ordered his office to hire an outside lawyer to pursue Paul’s claims about an improper search of his home and office last year. 

Mexican Drug Cartel Leader Added to FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List

Jose Rodolfo Villarreal Hernández

By Steve Neavling

A Mexican drug cartel leader accused of ordering the 2013 murder of a lawyer in Southlake, Texas, has been added to the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list. 

The FBI added Jose Rodolfo Villarreal Hernández, 42, also known as “El Gato,” to the list Tuesday. 

Villarreal-Hernandez, who the FBI believes may be hiding in Mexico, has been charged in an indictment with conspiracy to commit murder for hire and interstate stalking in the death of a 43-year-old man, who was shot several times in his Range Rover while his wife was loading groceries into their vehicle. 

The bureau is offering up to a $1 million reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest.  

“Jose Rodolfo Villarreal-Hernandez is charged with orchestrating a brutal murder that took place in broad daylight at a busy shopping center. The shooter and his accomplices showed no regard for the victim, his wife, or the innocent bystanders who witnessed the murder,” Matthew J. DeSarno, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas Field Office, said in a statement. “The FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives program allows us to bring this case to the eyes and ears of citizens around the world. We will not rest until Villarreal-Hernandez is apprehended and made to answer for these charges in court.”

Villarreal-Hernandez has black hair and brown eyes, 5-foot-4 and weighs about  165 pounds. 

Villarreal-Hernandez is the 524 person to be added to the “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list. 

“The FBI will continue to use its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives program to locate and arrest violent criminals like Jose Rodolfo Villarreal-Hernandez,” Calvin A. Shivers, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, said. “We will bring to justice those individuals who commit violent acts and threaten the safety of our citizens and our community. However, in order for us to be effective, we need the public’s assistance. We encourage you to reach out to the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI if you witness a crime or have information that is beneficial to an ongoing investigation.”

Retired Border Patrol Agent Suspected of Killing Wife, Then Himself

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A retired 57-year-old Border Patrol agent is accused of fatally shooting his wife in Texas and then taking his own life.

Authorities say Mark Martinez, a 28-year Border Patrol veteran who retired in 2015, killed his wife inside the couple’s home in West El Paso on Wednesday, BorderReport.com reports.

The next morning, investigators discovered Martinez dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside a vehicle in La Union, N.M.

Police said the body of Martinez’s wife, Norma Martinez, was found by a family member.

The Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office and officers with U.S. Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force found Martinez’s body.

The El Paso Police Department’s Crimes Against Persons unit is investigating the suspected murder-suicide.

Texas Border Patrol Station Would Be Renamed in Honor of Fallen Agent Under Bill

Fallen Border Patrol Agent Donna Doss.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Border Patrol Station in Rocksprings, Texas, would be renamed in honor of a fallen agent under a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate.

Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican, introduced the Donna M. Moss Memorial Act of 2020 on Monday.

Moss, a 15-year-veteran of Border Patrol, was responding to a call for assistance when she was stuck and killed by a vehicle in Abilene on Feb. 2, 2019.

“In addition to leading a distinguished career with the Border Patrol, Agent Doss was a loving wife, daughter, sister, and stepmother,” Cornyn said in a news release. “Her loss was another solemn reminder of the courageous sacrifices law enforcement officers and their families make every day, and I hope memorializing her service at the Border Patrol Station in Rocksprings will help honor her ultimate sacrifice.”

Two days after Moss was killed, Cornyn honored the fallen agent on the Senate floor. Here’s what he said:

“It’s with a heavy heart that I come to the Senate floor this morning to express my deepest condolences for the friends, family, and colleagues of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Donna Doss, who was killed in the line of duty this last weekend.

During her more than 15 years of dedicated service, Agent Doss has made immeasurable contributions to public safety both in Texas and beyond.

In addition to leading a distinguished career, Agent Doss was a loving wife, daughter, sister, and stepmother. Her loss is another solemn reminder of the courageous sacrifices law enforcement officers and their families make every day.

We’re grateful to all of those who put their lives on the line when they put a uniform on each morning ready to confront the unknown challenges that lie ahead. I’m particularly grateful to the men and women in green who make up our nation’s Border Patrol, like Agent Doss. I want to thank Agent Doss’s family for her selfless service and sacrifice, and I send my heartfelt condolences to agent doss’s family, friends, Acting Sector Chief Matthew Hudak, and the agents of the Del Rio Border Patrol sector where she honorably served, and the entire Border Patrol family during this difficult time.”

Homeland Security Investigations tracks down 19th Century Painting Stolen in Italy

“The Assumption of the Virgin Mary” by Italian artist Giuseppe Pappini in 1851.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) tracked down a 19th century painting that was stolen in Italy in 2002.

Acting on a tip from the HSI Attaché Office in Rome, investigators found the painting in the Dallas area, where a private art collected had purchased the painting in 2015 from a dealer who apparently was unaware that it was stolen, ICE says in a news release.

The artwork, titled “the Assumption of the Virgin Mary,” was painted by Italian artist Giuseppe Pappini in August 1851.

The private collector agreed to hand over the painting to investigators so it could be returned to the Abbey of Santa Maria in Sylvis in Sesto al Reghena, a monastery in Italy where it had been stolen.

“Investigating the loss or looting of cultural heritage properties and returning them to their countries of origin is an important part of HSI’s diverse mission” Ryan L. Spradlin, special agent in charge of HSI Dallas, said. “Our specially trained investigators and attachés in more than 40 countries not only partner with governments, agencies and experts who share our mission to protect these items, but they train the investigators of other nations and agencies on how to find, authenticate and enforce the law to recover these items when they emerge in the marketplace.”

Read more about ICE’s investigations of cultural property, arts and antiques.

Man on FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List Since 2014 Has Been Captured

Yaser Abdel Said

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Yaser Abdel Said, who has been on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List since 2014, has been captured in Justin, Texas, on Wednesday and is in federal custody, the bureau announced Wednesday.

The 63-year-old taxi driver is accused of fatally shooting his two teenage daughters, Amina and Sarah on New Year’s Day 2018.

“Since that night, the members of the Irving Police Department and our partners with the Dallas FBI have tirelessly pursued justice for Amina and Sarah,” Irving Police Chief Jeff Spivey said in a news release. “Even after 12 years of frustration and dead ends, the pursuit for their killer never ceased. Today’s arrest of their father, Yaser Said brings us closer to ensuring justice is served on their behalf.”

FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno added, “The FBI-led Dallas Violent Crimes Task Force has worked tirelessly to find Yaser Abdel Said. These experienced investigators never gave up on their quest to find him and pledged to never forget the young victims in this case. Said was placed on the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List nearly six years ago for the heinous act he committed against his daughters. His capture and arrest bring us one step closer to justice for Amina and Sarah.”

Amina and Sarah Said, via Justice for Sarah and Amina Facebook page.

Said is accused of shooting his daughters, 17 and 18 years old, in his taxi cab.

A capital murder warrant was issued for his arrest on Jan. 2, 2008.

The search was led by FBI’s Dallas Violent Crimes Task Force, which includes of FBI special agents and officers from the Carrollton, Dallas, Garland, Grand Prairie, and Irving Police Departments and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Established in March 1950, the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list has helped track down hundreds of suspects. Said was the 504th person added to the list.

CBP Awards $289.5M Contract for 17 Miles of Wall Construction in Laredo Sector in Texas

An existing wall at border of Mexico. Photo via Congress.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Customs and Border Protection has announced a $289.5 million contract to build about 17 miles of contagious new border walls within Border Patrol’s Laredo Sector in Webb County, Texas.

Fisher Sand and Gravel Company, DBA Fisher Industries, received the contract, CBP said Monday.

With the apprehension of nearly 22,000 undocumented immigrants and the seizure of more than 30,000 pounds of drugs so far this fiscal year, the Laredo Sector is one of the busiest in the U.S.

Most of the illegal activate is occurring in areas where the sector lacks infrastructure, access and technology, CBP says.

The plan is part of President Trump’s aggressive push for new wall construction.

“These projects will improve Laredo Sector’s ability to impede and deny illegal border crossings and the drug and human smuggling activities of transnational criminal organizations,” CBP said.

Chris T. Clem Named Acting Chief Patrol Agent of Border Patrol’s Big Bend Sector

Chris Clem, acting chief patrol agent of the Big Bend Sector.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Chris T. Clem, a 25-year veteran of the Border Patrol, has been named acting chief patrol agent of the Big Bend Sector, CBP announced Wednesday.

Clem most recently served as deputy chief patrol agent of the El Paso Sector.

He’s held various other leadership positions, including deputy chief patrol agent of the New Orleans Sector and associate chief at Border Patrol Headquarters in Washington D.C.

Clem’s career with Border Patrol began in 1995. He served as patrol agent in charge of four stations – the Casa Grande in Arizona; the Ysleta in Texas, the Truth or Consequences in New Mexico, and Albuquerque in New Mexico.

A native of New Orleans, Clem primarily grew up in Houston. He received a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice and a Master of science in leadership and management from Sam Houston State University.

The Big Bend Sector covers 517 miles of the southwest border, from Sierra Blanca, Texas, to Sanderson, Texas.