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December 2017
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Archive for December, 2017

Retired DEA Official Joe Rannazzisi Named Fed of the Year For 2017

Joe Rannazzisi (Photo grab from 60 Minutes)

By Allan Lengel

For the first time since the awards were given in 2008, a former, rather than current federal law enforcement official has been named Fed of the Year.

Joe Rannazzisi, a retired DEA deputy assistant administrator with a law degree and a pharmacy degree, has been named Fed of the Year for 2017, the result of his persistent and ongoing crusade against dangerous opioids and his criticism of Congress for protecting manufacturers.

As head of the Office of Diversion Control for the Drug Enforcement Administration, he led the crusade to clamp down on doctors, pharmacies, drug manufacturers and distributors.

He was aggressive, resulting in some of the biggest companies paying huge fines for failing to report suspicious orders. Not everyone was pleased.

He clashed with Congress, which he felt wasn’t being tough enough on drug companies. Some Congress members came after him, and in 2015, under pressure, he retired.

But that didn’t stop him from speaking out.

In October, he appeared in the Washington Post and on “60 Minutes” to tell his story how the DEA’s war on opioids got derailed by pressure from Congress and the drug industry.

He’s also a consultant for a team of lawyers suing the opioid industry.

His efforts in the battle against the opioid epidemic, particularly in light of the powerful opposition on Capitol Hill and from the drug industry, makes him worthy of the award, which is based on outstanding public service.

Previous recipients of the Fed of the Year award include: Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (2008):   Warren Bamford, who headed the Boston FBI (2009), Joseph Evans, regional director for the DEA’s North and Central Americas Region in Mexico City (2010);  Thomas Brandon, deputy Director of ATF (2011); John G. Perren, who was assistant director of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) Directorate (2012); David Bowdich, special agent in charge of counterterrorism in Los Angeles (2013);  Loretta Lynch, who was U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn at the time (2014); John “Jack” Riley,  the DEA’s acting deputy administrator (2015) and D.C.  U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips (2016).


27-Year Veteran of Border Patrol to Lead Big Bend Sector in Texas

Border Patrol Agent Robert L. Boatright

By Steve Neavling

A 27-year veteran of the Border Patrol is taking over leadership of the agency’s Big Bend Sector in Texas.

Robert L. Boatright was appointed by Carla Provost, the acting chief of the Border Patrol.

“I am looking forward to working with the Border Patrol Agents and professional support staff of the Big Bend Sector as well as all of our community stakeholders and law enforcement partners throughout the region,” Boatright told the Homeland Preparedness News.

Boatright’s Border Patrol career began in 1990 at the Imperial Beach Station in the San Diego Sector.

He served a member of the Senior Executive Service. Boatright also served as acting deputy chief for law enforcement operations at Border Patrol’s headquarters in Washington D.C. His most recent assignment was acting chief patrol agent at the Laredo Sector.

His new assignment places him in charge of 510 miles of the southwest border.

Other Stories of Interest

Even Republicans Criticize Conservatives’ Hyperbolic Attacks of Trump-Russia Probe

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, via FBI

By Steve Neavling

The increasingly vicious attacks against the FBI amid the Trump-Russia investigation have gotten so hyperbolic and over the top that even Republicans are calling on members of their party to tone down the rhetoric.

Saying it would be a mistake to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said “The best thing that can happen for everyone, the president included, is that Mueller be allowed to complete his work.”

Richard Painter, the former chief ethics lawyer who served under George W. Bush, continued to blast Republican Congressman Francis Rooney for suggesting a “purge” at the FBI to end political bias.

In a CNN interview Wednesday, Painter said of Rooney, “Tell that congressman and all the rest of them who are shooting their mouths off without any knowledge of the facts that they are just flat-out wrong.”

Painter added: “That doesn’t appeal to my type of Republican. That doesn’t appeal to patriotic Americans, to see the FBI attacked that way.”

Painter bluntly said of those attacking the FBI, “They’re actin like dictators.”

Nevertheless, Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., added to the chorus of criticism of the FBI, calling the investigation a “witch hunt,” the same phrase used by President Trump.

“Mueller has demonstrated he is incapable of leading a focused, unbiased review of his initial assignment,” Biggs wrote in the USA Today. “His witch hunt must end.”

Secret Service Denies Blocking Journalists from Filming Trump Golfing

White truck obscured CNN cameras outside President Trump’s Florida golf course. Via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling

The Secret Service denied trying to obscure CNN cameras from recording President Trump while he was playing golf at his course in West Palm Beach, Fla.

CNN reported that a large white truck was parked on public property in an effort to block nearby journalists from filming the president. 

The Secret Service responded that the agency “is in the business of protection and investigations not in commissioning vehicles to block the media’s view of the President’s golf swing.”

While a CNN film crew set up on a public sidewalk outside the golf course, “a white box truck drove up and obscured the view of the course through the trees,” the network claimed.

Other Stories of Interest

Special Counsel Probe Explores Possible Link Between Trump, RNC, Russia

By Steve Neavling

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is scrutinizing the Republican National Committee’s joint data operation with Donald Trump’s campaign to determine whether it shared connections with the Russian effort to undermine Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.

Two sources told Yahoo News that Mueller’s team began questioning RNC staffers about the joint operation to target voters in critical swing states.

Mueller’s team is investigating whether the operation, which was managed by the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, “was related to the activities of Russian trolls and bots aimed at influencing the American electorate.”

The widening investigation is exploring whether the Trump campaign received voter information stolen by Russian hackers from election databases in several states. Investigators also are trying to determine whether the Trump campaign assisted Russia’s propaganda campaign targeting specific demographics and voting precincts.

Wild Hog Triggers 2-Car Crash That Killed Border Patrol Agent, 2 Others in Texas

By Steve Neavling

A wild hog triggered a two-car accident that killed a Border Patrol agent and two other people in Southwest Texas.

A Ford Expedition traveling late Monday on a rural road near Uvalde struck the hog, causing the vehicle to swerve into oncoming traffic and collide head-on with a Mercedes SUV, driven by a 27-year-old Border Patrol agent who was driving home at the end of a shift at the agency’s station in Uvalde, about 11o miles southwest of San Antonio, according to the Associated Press. 

The agent, Antonio Cordova, and the driver of the Expedition, 51-year-old Ruby Garza, were pronounced dead at the scene. A passenger in the Expedition, 51-year-old Julia Vasquez, died at the hospital.

Both cars erupted in flames.

Feral hogs are a big nuisance in Texas.

Wife of Slain Journalist Sues FBI for Confidential Records about His Murder

Slain journalist Steven Vincent.

By Steve Neavling

The wife of a journalist who was beaten and shot dead in Iraq in 2015 won’t rest until she gets justice.

But first, Lisa Ramaci needs classified documents from the FBI to go after Iranian officials she believes are behind the death of Steven Vincent, a 49-year-old freelance reporter.

Ramaci has sued the FBI for those documents, saying the bureau has refused to release more than 100 pages of documents, the New York Post reports

Ramadi has filed a civil lawsuit against Iran, its central bank and its national oil company.

Vincent was captured, beaten and shot dead by local police in Iraq a few days after he published an article about Iranian-sponsored radicals.

Fetuses Immersed in Brain Tissue Found at Detroit Warehouse

FBI agents made grisly discoveries at a Detroit warehouse were body parts were improperly stored. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling

When the FBI raided a rundown warehouse in Detroit in December 2013, they made grisly discoveries at what turned out to be a black-market body parts business.

Agent found infected bodies dismembered with chainsaws, rotting, un-embalmed heads soaked in mouthwash and water, and human remains washed down the drain or thrown into the regular garbage.

New and disturbing photos obtained by Reuters show that federal investigators also found four preserved fetuses, which appear to be in their second trimester, immersed in a dark liquid that included human brain tissue. 

It’s unclear what Arthur Rathburn, owner of International Biological Inc., intended to do with the fetuses and how he obtained them. Selling fetuses for profit is a violation of federal law.

“This needs to be reviewed,” said U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who recently chaired a special U.S. House committee on the use of fetal tissue.

Rathburn is accused of defrauding medical researchers and educators by sending them infected body parts, without the families’ consent, from a rundown warehouse.

Rathburn has pleaded not guilty and is facing a trial in January in a criminal case that, until now, made no mention of fetuses.