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Archive for January 26th, 2012

Man Who Shot at N. Va. Military Installations Pleads Guilty

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A 23-year-old man who caused a stir by shooting at military installations in Northern Virginia in late 2010, pleaded guilty Thursday in Alexandria, Va. fed court to damaging more than $100,000 in property and firearms violations.

Yonathan Melaku, 23, of Alexandria, Va., was involved in five separate shootings at military installations in northern Virginia between October and November 2010 and attempting to damage veterans’ memorials at Arlington National Cemetery. No one was injured in the shootings.

Sentencing is set for April 27.

“Yonathan Melaku pled guilty to carrying out a calculated, destructive campaign to instill terror throughout our community,” said U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride in a statement. “The video he filmed during one drive-by shooting is a chilling portrayal of his intent and the escalating danger he posed. Thanks to the FBI and their law enforcement partners, we were able to apprehend Mr. Melaku, develop the evidence that linked him to the shootings and secure this conviction today.”

According to the statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Melaku admitted that he carried out a series of five shootings from Oct. 17, 2010, through Nov. 2, 2010, at the National Museum of the Marine Corps (twice), the Pentagon, a Marine Corps recruiting sub-station in Chantilly, Va., and a U.S. Coast Guard recruiting office in Woodbridge, Va.

Each shooting took place late at night or early in the morning and involved multiple 9mm rounds fired at each building. The cost for repairs at the facilities exceeded $100,000.

Authorities said that Melaku admitted that during the second shooting at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, he set up a video camera within the interior of his vehicle to record the shooting incident.

Authorities said the video shows Melaku repeatedly firing a handgun out the passenger-side window, and he narrates the incident on the video and states, among other things: “That’s my target. That’s the military building. It’s going to be attacked” and at the conclusion of multiple shots exclaiming “Allahu Akbar” repeatedly.

Rep. Issa Ain’t Giving Up in Fast and Furious; Demands Assist. U.S. Atty Talk

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Like a pit bull, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) ain’t letting go, ain’t giving up easily in finding out more details about ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious, which encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to “straw purchasers”, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.

The latest: Issa, chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has fired off a letter to Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. demanding that his agency make Arizona Assistant United States Attorney Michael Morrissey available to speak with Committee investigators about his role in and knowledge of Operation Fast and Furious.

Issa notes in a press release issued Thursday that Morrissey’s supervisor, Patrick Cunningham has stated he will exercise his Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer any questions pertaining to Operation Fast and Furious.

“Since August, the Department has identified Patrick Cunningham as the best person in the U.S. Attorney’s Office to provide information about Fast and Furious to the Committee,” Issa said in his letter to Holder.

“The Department has refused to make Michael Morrissey and Emory Hurley, both Assistant United States Attorneys supervised by Mr. Cunningham, available to speak with the Committee, citing a policy of not making ‘line attorneys’ available for congressional scrutiny. Mr. Morrissey, however, was Mr. Hurley’s direct supervisor, and an integral part of Fast and Furious. Importantly, both Morrissey and Hurley are unique in their possession of key factual knowledge about Fast and Furious not readily available from any other source.”

 

DEA Agents Seize 1,100 Lbs. of Marijuana in North Carolina

dea photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Armed with a search warrant, the DEA agents and local police seized about 1,100 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $660,000, along with several hundred thousand dollars in cash, a small amount of cocaine and two automobiles in North Carolina, reports GoDanRiver.com

Three arrests were made of the Mexican suspects who were residing in the country illegally, according to the news website.

Jose Manuel Bahena, 23, Esteban Valentin Rojas, 30, and Jose De Jesus Villa, 24, remain in a county jail under a $1 million bond, scheduled to appear in court in February.

To read more click here.

First Charges of Shepard/Byrd Act Convicted, Receive Prison Time for Assaulting a Developmentally Disabled Navajo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Two member of the Bloods street gang were sentenced in a US District Court in Santa Fe, N.M., for a hate crime against a developmentally disabled Navajo,  the FBI said in a statement on Wednesday.

Paul Beebe and Jesse Sanford of Farmington, N.M were convicted and sentenced on federal hate crime charges related to the racially motivated assault of a 22-year-old developmentally disabled Navajo, according to the FBI and the Justice Department. Beebe received eight-and-a-half years in prison and three years’ supervised release, while Sanford got five years and three years’ supervised release.

Beebe, and Sanford were indicted by a federal grand jury, along with a third defendant who pleaded guilty and is still awaiting sentencing, in November 2010 on one count of conspiracy and one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (Shepard/Byrd Act), says the FBI. The three were the first defendants charged under the Shepard/Byrd law. Both pleaded guilty.

In August of 2011 the two admitted that Beebe has taken the victim to his apartment, covered in racist paraphernalia, and defaced the victim by drawing on him with markers a number of racist symbols once he had fallen asleep. When the victim awoke, gagged with a towel, Beebe branded him with a heated wire hanger, impressing a swastika into his skin. They recorded the event with cell phone cameras.

 

Secret Service Pick Up Armed Man Outside of Bush Home

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Federal agents detained an armed man outside of the Dallas home of  President George W. Bush,  reports Reuters. The man had a weapon in his car but was released after being questioned on Tuesday, a spokesman for the US Secret Service told Reuters.

The unidentified man told agents and local police that he was “spiritually told to pick up a package at the Bush home,” according to Reuters. He had a permit to carry the gun agents found in his car.

The former president and his wife were both away from home at the time of the incident, Reuters reported.

To read more click here.

FBI Looking for Ways to Better Monitor Social Media

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

It is no secret that social networks provide riches of info available to the public.

And the FBI is looking for ways to cash in on that and  better monitor info on social networks like Facebook and Twitter,  reports the New Scientist.

A document released on January 19  shows the bureau was looking for companies that might want to build a social network monitoring system for the FBI,  according to the New Scientist.

“The bureau’s wish list calls for the system to be able to automatically search ‘publicly available’ material from Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites for keywords relating to terrorism, surveillance operations, online crime and other FBI missions,” the publication reported. “Agents would be alerted if the searches produce evidence of “breaking events, incidents, and emerging threats”.

That document suggests the FBI wishes to use social media sites to look into specific groups of individuals, allowing agents to “locate bad actors…and analyze their movements, vulnerabilities, limitations, and possible adverse actions,” allowing the FBI to create “pattern-of-life matrices,” or logs of suspects’  daily routines, says the New Scientist.

To read more click here.

New Home For Phoenix FBI Opens

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Phoenix FBI has a new home.

A 210,202-square-foot building on N. Seventh Street officially opened Wednesday, the Phoenix Business Journal reported. It was built by Ryan Cos., a Minneapolis-based company.

The paper reported that the building consolidates four previous Phoenix FBI locations.

“With more than double the previous space, the Phoenix employees will benefit from a large stand-alone FBI field office, with many improvements to include tighter security and upgraded technology,” said James Turgal Jr., FBI Special Agent-In-Charge, Phoenix Division, according to the paper.

 

Guilty Verdicts Returned for Mexican Cartel Affiliates

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Things did not go the way Gerardo Castillo-Chavez and Armado Garcia had hoped in Laredo, Texas, on Wednesday.

Both men saw guilty verdicts returned on all charges against them, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced. Castillo-Chavez, a 25-year-old from Tamaulipas, Mexico, was convicted of “conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, interstate travel in aid of racketeering (ITAR) and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime or a crime of violence,” according to the Justice Department.

The guilty verdicts were returned unanimously after a four-day trial and six-hours of deliberation.

A Feb. 17, 2010 indictment charged Castillo-Chavez and 33 other individuals with 47 counts of conspiracy to kidnap and murder U.S. citizens in a foreign country, drug conspiracy, kidnapping conspiracy, firearms conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, use of juveniles to commit a violent crime, accessory after the fact and solicitation as well as substantive money laundering, drug trafficking and ITAR charges, according to the Justice Department. To date, 14 of those charged have been convicted.

Several witnesses in the trial tied Castillo-Chavez to the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, and implicated Castillo-Chavez, also known as “Cachetes,” in a double murder on April 2, 2006, as well as other attempted murders a violent attacks in Mexico.

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