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Archive for September, 2019

Eyes in the Sky: How CBP Combats Drug Smuggling with Blimps

A CBP blimp, via Donna Burton of CBP.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Blimps hovering 10,000 feet above the U.S. border are helping combat drug smuggling operations.

Customs and Border Protection is using eight unmanned, unarmed blimps as eyes in the sky as part of the agency’s Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS).

“TARS is the most cost-efficient capability that we own,” Richard Booth, director of domain operations and integration for CBP’s Office of Air and Marine, says on CBP’s website. “TARS is like a low-flying satellite system, but cheaper to launch and operate.”

The blimps “fly like kites in the wind,” said Rob Brown, CBP program manager for TARS.

“Raising radar and other sensors to high altitude boosts surveillance range, and the physical sight of an aerostat is a visual deterrent to illegal activity in the air and on the ground,” Brown said.

Drug smugglers often fly low to avoid ground-based radar, but they can’t evade the blimps’ radar.

Father Recalls Horrifying Encounter with FBI Agent: ‘I Just Want Some Justice’

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

An FBI agent is accused of chasing a teenager inside his home in California and pointing a gun at him over a prank – and the agent has yet to face trial nearly two years later.

“If this had happened to me, this thing would have been over and two months later, I’d be in prison,” father Chris Perry told CBS13. “I have more flashbacks and whacked out visions of it all the time.”

The horrifying incident happened in December 2017, when the boy was celebrating his 14th birthday. He and a friend decided to knock over an inflatable snowman on the FBI’s agent yard in Roseville.

The FBI agent, Michael Corrigan, is accused of chasing the teen to his home and then pointing a gun at him.

“I fly out of bed and I turn the corner and there’s a dude in my house, two feet inside my house pointing a gun at my son and his friend, and I just flipped and tackled him out the door. It was just panic,” Perry said.

Last year, the agent was charged with a felony. But after all this time, the case has still not gone to trial.

“It’s been two years. I just want some justice with it,” Perry said.

The FBI declined to comment on the case and whether the agent has been disciplined.

Defense attorney Bill Portonova responded in a written statement: “Special agent Michael Corrigan is an honorable family man with an exemplary career in law enforcement and he has full faith that these unfortunate proceedings will achieve a just end.”

On Friday, Corrigan was in court for a status conference, but no date has been scheduled yet for a trial.

Weekend Series on Crime History: Mob Bust of Genovese Crime Family

Serious Questions Raised about DOJ and AG Barr’s Handling of Whistleblower Complaint

Attorney General William Barr.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Department of Justice’s handling of the whistleblower complaint involving Ukraine raises a serious question: Why did the DOJ decide not to forward the complaint to Congress?

The complaint was serious enough to spur an impeachment inquiry. It alleges Trump tried to pressure a foreign nation to investigate his political opponent.

The whistleblower also implicates Attorney General William Bar for allegedly helping Trump dig up dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son.

Democrats are accusing Trump of using the Justice Department to help interfere in the election.

It also has become clear that Barr’s DOJ has stymied the investigation.

As the impeachment inquiry continues, much more will be known about Barr’s involvement.

Border Patrol Agent Acquitted on Sexual Assault Charge

Border Patrol Agent Alejandro Perez, via Hidalgo County Sheriff Department.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent accused of sexually assaulting his then-girlfriend in June 2013 has been found not guilty.

Alejandro Perez was assigned to the Rio Grande Valley Sector when he was arrested on sexual assault charges in 2018, KGBT reports.

His then-girlfriend reported the alleged assault nearly five years after she says he became “sexually aggressive towards her” and refused to stop when she said no.

“Alejandro later admitted to raping her through text but he asked her not to report it because he could lose his job,” the prosecutors alleged in a complaint.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Perez is still working as a Border Patrol agent. When he was arrested in March 2018, he was assigned to administrative duties.

DEA to Join Fight Against Illicit THC Cartridges Behind Lung Illness Outbreak

Counterfeit cannabis cartridges, via the New York State Department of Health.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The Food and Drug Administration is asking the DEA to help with the ongoing investigation into a lung illness outbreak linked to vaping.

The FDA wants the DEA to help crack down on the supply side of the crisis because health experts have linked the illnesses to black market cannabis vape cartridges.

Health experts are increasingly focusing on illicit cannabis cartridges that are cut with vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent that resembles marijuana oil.

“To be clear, if we determine that someone is manufacturing or distributing illicit, adulterated products that caused illness or death for personal profit, we would consider that a criminal act,” acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless testified before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Wednesday.

Last week, the FDA launched a criminal investigation focused on the black market makers of the cartridges.

In the past month, law enforcement has busted at least two major distributors of counterfeit, black market cannabis cartridges.

More than 53o people have been sickened by the mysterious lung illness, and at least nine people have died. In a vast majority of the cases, the patients vaped black market cannabis cartridges.

Portland Police Stop ICE Agents from Using Bureau Center for Training

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

ICE agents are no longer allowed to use the firing range and classroom space at its training center in Portland after police abruptly terminated a two-year contract.

The Portland Police Bureau alerted the agency in a Sept. 19 letter that the city was halting an agreement for ICE to use the training center in Northeast Portland, Oregon Live reports.

The contract, signed in 2018, wasn’t supposed to expire until August 2020.

“After an internal review, the Portland Police Bureau is no longer allowing use of its Training Division facility by a portion of the United States Department of Homeland Security because the use of the facility must be consistent with the City’s values and Federal, State, and local laws,” the Police Bureau said in a statement Wednesday.

The city of Portland passed a resolution that prevents the city from using resources to enforce federal immigration law.

“The use of PPB’s training facility by other law enforcement agencies should be consistent with City values,” Chief Danielle Outlaw said in the statement.

“A mistake was made due to miscommunication during the contract approval process. When the oversight was brought to our attention, we took immediate action,” she added.

FBI Raids Home, Offices of Illinois State Senator Sandoval

State Sen. Martin Sandoval.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

FBI agents raided the home and offices of Illinois state Sen. Martin Sandoval as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Agents in suits were spotted removing evidence from the state capitol building, Sandoval’s political office in Cicero and his home in Chicago.

The FBI is investigating whether Sandoval received kickbacks for using his political office to steer business to at least one company, The Chicago Tribune reports.

It’s just the latest FBI investigation involving public officials in Chicago and Illinois.

In November, the FBI raided the City Hall office of Ald. Edward M. Burke, who since has been indicted on racketeering charges.