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Tag: Texas

Jeffrey R. Downey Named Special Agent in Charge of FBI’s El Paso Field Office

FBI Special Agent in Charge Jeffery R. Downey

By Steve Neavling

Jeffery R. Downey, who was serving as a section chief for the Critical Incident Response Group for the FBI, has been named special agent in charge of the El Paso Field Office in Texas. 

Downey’s career as a special agent with the FBI began in 2003, when he was assigned to the Buffalo Field Office in New York. He was transferred to the Augusta Resident Agency of the Atlanta Field Office in 2006. In both field offices, Downey investigated violent crime, gang, criminal enterprise, and public corruption investigations. 

In 2007, Downey worked an 18-month assignment as a supervisory special agent in the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., working on the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Fusion Center Task Force. 

In 2009, Downey moved to the Detroit Field Office, where he was promoted to supervisory special agent and put in charge of the Organized Crime Squad. A year later, he began supervising the office’s Public Corruption and Civil Rights Squad. In 2013, Downey became the senior supervisory resident agent in charge of the Oakland County Resident Agency. 

In 2016, Downey was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of the Detroit office, where he oversaw the criminal, crisis management, and mission services branches, which included specialty teams such as SWAT, the special agent bomb technicians, the crisis negotiators, and the Evidence Response Team. 

In 2020, Downey returned to FBI headquarters as section chief of CIRG’s Crisis Management and Intelligence Coordination Section. 

Before joining the bureau, Downey served as a special agent with the Secret Service. He earned a bachelor’s degree from John Carroll University.  

Alleged Neo-Nazi Accused of Plotting a Mass Shooting at a Walmart in Texas

Coleman Thomas Blevins Jr. Photo: Kerr County Sheriff’s Office

By Steve Neavling

A man arrested on allegations of plotting a mass shooting at a Walmart in Texas had a stockpile of guns, ammunition and racist and extremist materials in his home. 

Coleman Thomas Blevins, 28, of Kerrville, Tex, has been charged with making a “terroristic threat to create public fear of serious bodily injury,” the Kerr County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Sunday.

Authorities intercepted a message from Blevins that said he planned to shoot up a Walmart. 

During the investigation, the sheriff’s office made contact with Blevins and confirmed he was affiliated and networking with “extremist ideologies” and was capable of “following through with the threat.”

“Our investigators did outstanding work in this case, and possibly saved many lives,” Sheriff Larry Leitha said in the news release. “The plot interrupted in this case is unthinkable.”

Among the items found in Blevins’ home were flags depicting the swastika and other Nazi symbols and extremist books that advocated neo-Nazi ideas. 

“Firearms, ammunition, electronic evidence, concentrated THC, and radical ideology paraphernalia, including books, flags, and handwritten documents” were also seized, cops said.

FBI Agent Accused of Conning Woman Out of $800,000 As Part of ‘Secret Probation’

By Steve Neavling

A retired FBI agent accused of conning a woman out of roughly $800,000 by telling her she was on “secret probation” has been charged with multiple crimes. 

William Roy Stone Jr., 62, was indicted last week on seven counts of wire fraud, one count of wire fraud conspiracy, one count of false impersonation of a federal officer, one count of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activity, and one count of false statements to law enforcement, the Justice Department announced

The indictment alleges Stone convinced the victim she was on “secret probation” for drug crimes in front of a fictitious federal judge in Austin, Texas, in November 2015. As a condition of the made up probation, Stone told the victim she must pay him for the expenses he incurred while supervising her and that she was prohibited from disclosing her probation status. If she failed to comply, he told her she could be imprisoned and lose her children, according to the indictment. 

Prosecutors say Stone concocted an elaborate ruse to convince the victim that she was on probation. 

Stone purchased a home and cars with the money that the victim allegedly paid him. 

“Stone allegedly conned, threatened and stole from his victim, exploiting her trust in law enforcement for his own financial gain. The OIG is committed to holding accountable those who commit this type of conduct,” Cloey C. Pierce, special agent in charge of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Dallas Field Office, said in a statement.

Stone faces up to 178 years in federal prison. 

Undocumented Immigrant Convicted of Assaulting Border Patrol Agent with Baton

By Steve Neavling

A jury convicted a 24-year-old undocumented immigrant of assaulting a Border Patrol agent during a traffic stop in Texas in October 2019. 

During the two-day trial, prosecutors said Ludwin Artemio Santizo-Escobedo, a Guatemalan national, was in the country illegally and refused to be arrested after he was pulled over on State Highway 349 near Sanderson. 

Santizo-Escobedo grabbed the agent’s baton and repeatedly beat him in the body and head. To subdue him, the agent shot Santizo-Escobedo in the left forearm and shoulder. 

“This case illustrates the dangers the brave men and women of the United States Border Patrol face day in and day out while protecting our country,” U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff said in a news release.  “Violent assaults on federal law enforcement cannot and will not be tolerated.”

The FBI investigated the assault. 

“Every day Border Patrol Agents honorably serve our nation by securing the border. Too frequently, they endure physical assaults for carrying out their sworn duties,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs of the San Antonio Division said. “Thanks to the exemplary work of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI agents assigned to the Del Rio Resident Agency Office (RA) and El Paso FBI/Midland RA, Santizo-Escobedo will be held accountable for his violent assault.”

Santizo-Escobedo faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on Feb. 10. 

Border Patrol Agent Charged with Helping Smuggle Undocumented Immigrants

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

A Border Patrol agent has been indicted on charges of helping smuggle illegal immigrants by letting them pass through a checkpoint

Prosecutors allege Rodney Tolson Jr. received payments in exchange for allowing cars with undocumented immigrants to pass through a checkpoint he was manning near Laredo, Texas, The Washington Times reports. The scheme occurred in early 2019, according to the indictment.

Tolson, who has been suspended from his duties, was arrested last week. 

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission and expects officers and agents to adhere to the oath they take to uphold and enforce the laws of this country,” CBP said.

Earlier this month, a former CBP officer admitted smuggling her undocumented housekeeper into Texas from Mexico as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. Rhonda Lee Walker, who was stationed at the Laredo Point of Entry, agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to bring her housekeeper into the U.S. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dismissed felony counts of illegally transporting the woman into the country and lying to

Border Patrol Agents Accidentally Run Over Migrants, Killing One of Them, CBP Says

By Steve Neavling

A Honduran man was killed and another migrant rushed to the hospital after a Border Patrol vehicle accidentally ran over them in Kenedy County near Kingsville, Texas, last week, CBP said in a news release.

The incident occurred about 1 p.m. on April 29, when Border Patrol agents spotted fresh footprints in an area known for smuggling activity. 

As the agents searched for migrants, they ran over two men who were hiding in tall grass. The agents didn’t know they hit the men until a group of migrants emerged and informed them of what had happened. 

The migrants helped the agents locate the men, one of whom died at the scene. The other was transferred to a hospital via air ambulance and released later in the day.

“The initial investigation indicates BPAs were not aware anyone was burrowed in the grass nor were they aware anyone had been run over by a vehicle until informed by a migrant,” CBP said. 

The Kenedy County Sheriff’s Office and CBP Office of Professional Responsibility were called to the scene and are reviewing the incident.

Biden Taps Ed Gonzalez, a Texas Sheriff, to Head ICE

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

By Steve Neavling

President Joe Biden plans to nominate Ed Gonzalez, a Texas sheriff and outspoken critic of Donald Trump’s immigration policies, to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the White House announced Tuesday.

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

Gonzalez will likely face opposition from Republicans during his Senate confirmation hearing, which has not yet been set. 

ICE has not had a permanent leader since 2017. 

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. 

CBP Seizes $4.3M Worth of Meth from Shipment of Cucumber Pickles

CBP found 217 pounds of meth in a shipment of pickles. Photo: CBP

By Steve Neavling

CBP officers found $4.3 million worth of methamphetamine in a shipment of cucumber pickles being hauled into Texas from Mexico. 

Officers assigned to the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge cargo facility seized 114 packages of meth weighing 217 pounds from a tractor-trailer last week. 

The discovered the package after conducting a non-intrusive imagine (NII) system inspection. 

“This substantial quantity of hard narcotics will not make its final destination in the United States,” said Port Director Carlos Rodriguez, Port of Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas. “This interdiction reinforces our officers’ role in advancing CBP’s border security mission by preventing dangerous drugs from entering and negatively impacting our communities.”

The case was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations.