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Archive for December 11th, 2013

The Game Remains the Same

ILLUSTRATION BY NOAH PATRICK PFARR/Baltimore City Paper

By Van Smith
Baltimore City Paper

BALTIMORE — Over the last half-decade or so, City Paper has done in-depth reporting about how Baltimore’s drug game is tied to heroin arriving from Africa, gangsters who double as gang interventionists, the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) gang’s broad reach in prisons and the streets, and legendary old felons getting charged anew. Now, with federal drug-and-gun charges unsealed Nov. 26 against Nathan “Bodie” Barksdale, one man embodies all four themes.

The case involves Barksdale’s alleged dealings with co-defendant Suraj Tairu, a man with a 1990s New York conviction for helping to import heroin from Africa, and involves heroin contained in an “egg-shaped object”—a type of heroin packaging that is commonly swallowed and later excreted by so-called “internal smugglers” from Africa who bring them to the U.S. on commercial airline flights. Initially, only Tairu was charged in the case, on Sept. 12, and court documents state that he was supplying heroin to “a long-time, high ranking member of the BGF”—who, once the indictment was unsealed, was revealed to be Barksdale.

Barksdale grew up hustling in West Baltimore’s since-demolished Lexington Terrace projects in the 1970s and 1980s, and by the end of that decade he had become a local criminal legend whose violent exploits were depicted in a 2009 docu-drama project spearheaded by Kenneth Antonio “Bird” Jackson, a stevedore and strip club manager with his own outsize past in Baltimore’s drug game. The project, The Baltimore Chronicles: Legends of the Unwired, claimed Barksdale was the inspiration for Avon Barksdale, a key character on the HBO series The Wire—a claim The Wire’s co-creator David Simon rejects. Two other old school Baltimore gangsters whose identities were used to create Wire characters—Savino Braxton and Walter Lee “Stinkum” Powell, whose names were applied to characters who were enforcers for Avon Barksdale, Savino Bratton, and Anton “Stinkum” Artis—have also faced federal drug charges in recent years and are now in federal prison.

To read the full story click here.

 

Some Congress Members Demand More Answers About Boston Marathon Bombing Probe

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Some members of Congress are still not satisfied with FBI’s response to questions about the Boston Marathon bombings, My Fox Boston reports.

One of the lingering questions is: Why didn’t the FBI tell local law enforcement that Russian authorities had warned the U.S. about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the bombing suspect who was killed.

Leading the charge is Rep. William R. Keating, D-Bourne, who is frustrated that he can’t get more pointed responses from the FBI.

“(Information sharing) was an important piece after 9/11, and I’m not seeing any kind of formal effort to take information that’s there and share it with local law enforcement,” Keating told FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet.

The FBI responded that the police department had access to a computer system, Guardian, that would have divulged information about Tsarnaev.

U.S. Citizen Says He Was Held by FBI For 4 Months, Endured Harsh Treatment in Africa

 
 Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A U.S. citizen claims in a lawsuit filed by the federal government that he was held for four months, endured harsh interrogation and was later released after it was discovered he had done nothing wrong, the Reason reports.

Amir Meshal is represented by he ACLU, which contends its client was unfairly mistreated.

The Justice Department said the case shouldn’t move forward because of national security concerns.

The ACLU, which is to appear in court today on the issue, wrote:

The American Civil Liberties Union will appear in court on Wednesday on behalf of a U.S. citizen who was illegally detained and mistreated by American officials in three east African countries in 2007. After fleeing unrest in Somalia, New Jersey resident Amir Meshal was arrested, secretly imprisoned in inhumane conditions, and harshly interrogated by FBI agents over 30 times before ultimately being released without charge four months later. …

In December 2006, Meshal was studying in Mogadishu when civil unrest broke out. He fled to neighboring Kenya, where he wandered in the forest for three weeks seeking shelter and assistance before being arrested. He was then repeatedly interrogated by FBI agents, who accused him of receiving training from al Qaeda, which Meshal denied. The American interrogators threatened him with torture and kept him from contacting a lawyer or his family.

Meshal was subsequently rendered to Somalia and then Ethiopia, where he was secretly imprisoned in filthy conditions with inadequate access to food, water, and toilets for more than three months, and again harshly interrogated by U.S. officials, who bore responsibility for his rendition and continued detention.

 

Milwaukee Paper: Inspector General Must Investigate ATF’s Rogue Tactics in Milwaukee

 

Michael Horowitz

By Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Opinion 

There should be no question over whether Inspector General Michael Horowitz should expand his investigation into undercover storefront operations by the ATF to include rogue tactics exposed by a Journal Sentinel Watchdog Report investigation.

An official with the U.S. Department of Justice said Monday that Horowitz “can and should” expand the investigation, and that’s exactly right. The only question is why have things gone on this long without a proper investigation and what the government will do now to correct matters.

The Watchdog Report investigation by reporters Raquel Rutledge and John Diedrich found that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has used rogue tactics in storefront operations across the nation for years.

For example, the report noted, agents recruited mentally disabled individuals to promote their operations — including paying one to get a tattoo — and later arrested them. They also put stings near schools and churches, increasing arrest numbers and penalties — and attracting juveniles with free video games and alcohol, according to the report. And they overpaid for guns, encouraging break-ins and purchases from gun stores for a quick profit, the report said.

 

To read more click here.

Former DEA Supervisor Becomes Advocate of Marijuana Industry As Lawyer

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Patrick Moen, a 36-year-old former DEA supervisor, took quite a turn in his career path, the Atlantic reports.

Yes, Moen may have recently led a team that fought against methamphetamine and heroin dealers in Portland.

But that’s the past. Moen has become the in-house lawyer for Privateer Holdings Inc., a private equity firm that invests in websites, insurers and consultants in the industry.

“The potential social and financial returns are enormous,” Moen said of his new business. “The attitudes toward cannabis are shifting rapidly.”

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