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Archive for July 20th, 2009

GAO Report Says Strain Between Venezuela and U.S. Has Caused Alarming Surge in Cocaine Trafficking

One thing the U.S. has to do is try harder to mend the strained relationship between the U.S. and Venezuela. It shouldn’t be hard to improve upon the relationship the Bush administration had.

President Chavez

President Chavez

By Chris Kraul
Los Angeles Times
CARACAS, Venezuela — A breakdown in anti-drug cooperation between Venezuela and the United States has contributed to an alarming surge in cocaine trafficking from Venezuela, according to a report issued Monday by the U.S. General Accounting Office.

The volume of drugs passing through Venezuela more than quadrupled from 66 tons in 2004 to 287 tons in 2007, the GAO said. U.S.-Venezuelan counter-narcotics cooperation ended in 2005, as friction intensified between the Bush administration and leftist President Hugo Chavez.

Although Venezuela was already a major corridor for Colombian cocaine before Chavez took office in 1999, the volume has increased to the point that in 2007, one-quarter of all Colombian cocaine produced passed through Venezuela, according to estimates.

The GAO said trafficking has increased in part because of Chavez’s alleged tolerance of Colombian rebels in Venezuelan territory and because of widespread corruption in his military and police ranks.

“Venezuela is caught between the world’s largest producer of cocaine, Colombia, and largest consumer, the United States,” the report concludes.

For Full Story

Read Report

Authorities Capture FBI Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitive in Mexico

preciado_captured2

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

California Gang member Emigdio Preciado, Jr., who shot and wounded a Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputy in 2000, and who is on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitive list along with Osama bin Laden, was captured in Mexico, the FBI announced Monday.

The FBI said Preciado was captured Friday night in Yagos, a rural town in the Mexican state of Nayarit, where he’d been living under the alias Regalo Castaneda-Castaneda and working as a fisherman.

The FBI said that his identifying tattoos on his chest – the names “Susana” and “Alexa” -had been surgically removed. Still FBI agents and Mexican police, who were there at the time of the arrest, confirmed his identity through fingerprints.

Sal Hernandez, head of the Los Angeles FBI,  credited the capture to “flawless collaboration” between the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, FBI and Mexican police.

Authorities charged that Preciado in September 2000, stepped out a van during a routine traffic stop and opened fire on two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies, striking one in the head. The deputy survived.

UPDATE: Tuesday: The FBI said it will pay a reward of up to $150,000 for tips that led to the capture, the Associated Press reported. The FBI said at least one person would get some money.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI Agent Daniel Dubree Named Assist. Dir. Information of Tech. Division

Daniel Dubree/fbi photo

Daniel Dubree/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Daniel D. Dubree, who has a law degree, has been named assistant director of the FBI’s Information Technology Operations Division, replacing Louis Blazy, who retired.

The FBI said Monday that Dubree will be “responsible for the operations and maintenance of all FBI information technology systems worldwide”.

In emphasizing the importance of the job, FBI Director Robert Mueller III said in a prepared statement.

“Every day, FBI employees all over the world rely on our information technology systems to efficiently and effectively do their jobs. The work of the Information Technology Operations Division is crucial to keeping the FBI ready to serve. Dan brings expertise in both technical and managerial fields to this important position.”

Dubree began his career with the FBI in May 1984 as a computer programmer with the agency’s Technical Services Division. He became a special agent 2 1/2 years later.

His agent career began in the Charlotte Division’s Hickory Resident Agency, the FBI said. Over the years, he bounced around to different offices.

In February 2002, he was promoted to adjudication chief of the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, Adjudication Unit II., which involved dealing with the misconduct  of FBI employees.

The following year, he was assistant special agent in charge in Dallas. After another stop, he was named assistant director of the FBI’s Information Technology Operation Division in August 2008.

Read Press Release

Justice Dept. Moving Some Operations to South Carolina

Not a bad idea to spread some part of the Justice Dept. around the country. It helps provide another perspective, plus if Washington is ever under a terrorist attack it doesn’t hurt to have a part of Justice Dept. that can maintain operations without worrying about getting out of Dodge. Dep. Atty. Gen. David Ogden made the announcement in South Carolina.

map-south-carolina

By MEG KINNARD
Associated Press Writer
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The U.S. Department of Justice is relocating some of its U.S. attorney operations from Washington to South Carolina under a 20-year lease agreement with the state’s flagship university, officials announced Monday.

The federal agency will be relocating its Executive Office for United States Attorneys to the building that now houses the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden said during a news conference in Columbia.

“I think it’s a good thing to get government out into the rest of the country,” Ogden said.

The move will bring more than 250 high-paying jobs to Columbia, a small fraction of the roughly 100,000 who work at the Department.

The effort, known as the Palmetto Project, will consolidate much of the DOJ’s attorney training program for the whole country in South Carolina. In 1996, the Department broke ground on the National Advocacy Center, a $26 million facility in Columbia where federal, state and local prosecutors participate in a variety of training programs. Since it opened two years later, more than 170,000 prosecutors and law enforcement officials have received training at the center, officials said.

For Full Story

Read Announcement by Dep. Atty. Gen. David Ogden

Fed Judge Dismisses SEC Insider Trading Suit Against NBA Team Owner Mark Cuban

Well, Mark Cuban caught a big break. Now let’s see if he can concentrate more to make his disappointing NBA team better by making an above-board trade.

Mark Cuban/60 mins.
Mark Cuban/60 mins.

By ERIC TORBENSON and BRENDAN CASE
The Dallas Morning News
DALLAS — A federal judge has tossed out the Securities and Exchange Commission’s insider-trading suit against Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, dealing a stunning defeat to the nation’s securities cop in one of its highest-profile civil actions.

Chief Judge Sidney Fitzwater of Dallas said in a 35-page ruling released Friday that the SEC had failed to prove that Cuban entered into a legal agreement not to trade stock in the search engine firm Mamma.com Inc. after learning nonpublic information about the company’s plans to raise more money.

For Full Story

Read Ruling

The Story When Cuban Was Charged Last Year

Calif. Postal Worker Stole Money From Kids’ Birthday Cards

istock photo

istock photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ok. So this may not be the federal crime of the century, but it may rank as one of the lowlier ones.

Postal worker Dean Hudson, 29, of Marysville,  Calif. pleaded guilty in May to stealing money from childrens’ birthday cards at a postal facility  in northern California, according to court records.

He was sentenced Friday to five months in prison and five months of home detention after his release. He was also ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution.

According to an affidavit by Shani Lee, a special agent with the U.S. Postal Service, homes and local post offices serviced by the distribution center Hudson worked at complained about tampered mail and missing money.

The agent also found that in 2008 Hudson was caught shoplifting at a Target department store.

Read U.S. Postal Agent’s Affidavit

Secret Service Agents Spotted in Nantucket

Rahm Emanuel

Rahm Emanuel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The presence of U.S. Secret Service agents, particularly outside of Washington, often creates a buzz and plenty speculation.

Over the weekend, the Boston Globe reports, agents  were spotted  in Nantucket outside the American Seasons restaurant, which  promotes itself as offering “some of the island’s most creative food, along with a one-of-a-kind boutique wine  list”.

The reason? White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was dining there.

A great place to vacation. And not a bad place for Secret Service agents to be working, if you have to be working.

MORE STORIES OF INTEREST

Ex-U.S. Atty. Pat Meehan Speaks Out Against ex-State Sen. Fumo’s Sentence: “A Shame Judge Didn’t Share Jurors’ Disgust”

Pat Meehan is thinking of running for governor. And this is as good as any issue to show how tough he is on crime.  He leaves no doubt that he is sincerely disgusted with what he sees as a lenient sentence.

EX-U.S. Atty. Pat Meehan/facebook photo

EX-U.S. Atty. Pat Meehan/facebook photo

The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed papers on Friday indicating that it planned to appeal the sentence. For more see posting below.

By Pat Meehan
Ex-U.S. Attorney For Eastern District of Pa.
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Pennsylvanians listened for cannon fire. The intended target was the state legislature in Harrisburg, where all 253 members of the General Assembly waited with hands cupped over their ears. They heard nothing.

That’s because when U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter sentenced former State Sen. Vince Fumo to only 55 months’ imprisonment, the discharge was too weak to travel much farther than the courthouse steps.

Fumo, once Pennsylvania’s most powerful Democrat, had been convicted of all 137 criminal counts he faced. He had defrauded the state Senate and two nonprofit organizations, and he treated the commonwealth like his fiefdom. And for this, he received four years and seven months.

After the verdict in March, jurors expressed outrage at Fumo’s disregard for spending, as he called it, “OPM,” or “Other People’s Money.” They couldn’t believe that a public servant would think nothing of using state funds to pay staffers to work on his farm or to hire a private investigator to track his ex-girlfriend. It’s a shame the judge didn’t share the jurors’ disgust.

To Read More