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Archive for January, 2020

Barr Taps Timothy Shea to Serve As D.C.’s Top Interim Attorney

The Justice Department’s Timothy Shea to serve as DC’s top U.S. attorney.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Attorney General William Barr on Thursday named one of his closest advisers, Timothy Shea, to serve as the District of Columbia’s interim U.S. attorney.

Shea, 59, who is currently Barr’s counselor at the Justice Department, will oversee 300 prosecutors at the nation’s largest U.S. attorney’s office, which handles federal and local cases, The Washington Post reports.

Shea will replace Jessie K. Liu, who steps down Friday after President Trump nominated her to become the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes.

In a statement, Barr said Shea was “a fair prosecutor, skillful litigator, and excellent manager is second-to-none, and his commitment to fighting violent crime and the drug epidemic will greatly benefit the city of Washington.”

Shea’s service at the Justice Department ranges from working as a line prosecutor to serving as associate deputy attorney general.

Updated: Ex-FBI Translator Gets Probation for Making False Statements in Terrorism Case

Abdirizak Jaji Raghe Wehelie.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Updated: 9:40 a.m. Monday — A former FBI translator was sentenced to probation Friday after he admitted doctoring transcripts when his own voice came up on intercepts of phone calls placed by a terrorism suspect, the Associated Press reports. He was also fined $1,000.

________________

A former FBI translator is expected to be sentenced in federal court today after he pleaded guilty to making false statements in a case involving a terrorism suspect.

Abdirizak Jaji Raghe Wehelie, 68, of Burke, Virginia, was arrested in May on charges of lying to investigators about having contact with a man accused of joining a militant Somali group tied to terrorism.

In November, Wehelie pleaded guilty to making false statements, saying he doctored transcripts to hide the fact that he received a phone call from the man, who had been under surveillance.

The Justice Department said Wehelie had a personal relationship with the suspect, who had left a voicemail on Wehelie’s phone. When Wehelie translated the call, he changed his name to “unidentified male.”

The terrorism suspect’s phone was under court-ordered surveillance.

According to federal prosecutors, Wehelie later disclosed that he had been friends with the suspect for years.

Wehelie faces up to 25 years in prison, but sentencing guidelines call for zero to six months in jail.

No, the FBI Is Not Threatening to Arrest You Over the Phone. It’s a Scam

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI warned the public Wednesday about a phone scam in which the caller claims to be an FBI agent, and the bureau’s real phone number in its Charlotte office appears on caller IDs.

The caller demands money purportedly owed to the government and threatens arrest if they don’t make an immediate payment.

The caller often has extensive information on the target of the scam, including their full name, birthdate, family members and even cell phone number.

The FBI noted that it does not demand money or threaten arrest over the pone.

Border Officials Discover Longest Drug-Smuggling Tunnel Ever Found Along Southwest Border

Longest drug-smuggling tunnel ever found along the southwest border.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol officials said Wednesday they discovered the largest drug-smuggling tunnel ever found along the southwest border.

The intricate, bending tunnel stretches more than three-quarters of a mile and features a rail system, forced air ventilation, elevator and a complex drainage system.

The 5-and-a-half-foot tall tunnel begins in an industrial area in Tijuana, Mexico, and meanders more than 4,300 feet into a San Diego neighborhood, CBP said.

“I am thrilled that this high level narco-tunnel has been discovered and will be rendered unusable for cross-border smuggling. I am proud of the tremendous efforts of the Tunnel Task Force and our agents,” Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Aaron M. Heitke said in a news release.

“The sophistication and length of this particular tunnel demonstrates the time-consuming efforts transnational criminal organizations will undertake to facilitate cross-border smuggling,” said Cardell T. Morant, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Diego.

Officials first discovered the tunnel in August.

“As efforts to strengthen security on our Southern Border increase, Mexican drug cartels are forced underground to smuggle their deadly drugs into the United States,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge John Callery. “The sophistication of this tunnel demonstrates the determination and monetary resources of the cartels.  And although the cartels will continue to use their resources to try and breach our border, the DEA and our partners on the Tunnel Task Force will continue to use our resources to ensure they fail, that our border is secure, and that tunnels like this are shut down to stem the flow of deadly drugs entering the United States.”

Trump Applauds Ice Agents for ‘Swinging’ at MS-13 Members

ICE official, via ICE.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

President Trump praised ICE agents for getting into fist fights while apprehending members of MS-13, a notoriously violent gang.

Trump’s remarks came at a campaign rally Tuesday in Wildwood New Jersey

“These ICE people, they love our country,” Trump said. “They’re proud and they’re tough people. They’ll go right into a pack, they call it a pack, and they start swinging and everyone’s swinging, and they end up standing up and that’s the end of that. You know what they do is they bring the MS-13 and many other gang members back to El Salvador, back to Honduras, back to Guatemala, back to Mexico.”
Trump said ICE agents for the “incredible abuse they take and the incredible job they do.”

Trump also accused Democrats of supporting “deadly sanctuary cities.”

“What the hell is going on?” Trump asked. “And once set loose, these criminal aliens are free to continue their crime spree against innocent Americans.”

Raul Ortiz Named Deputy Chief of U.S. Border Patrol

Deputy Chief of Border Patrol Raul Ortiz.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Raul Ortiz has been named the new deputy chief of the U.S. Border Patrol.

Ortiz, who joined the Border Patrol in May 1991, most recently served as the agency’s Del Rio sector chief.

The announcement Tuesday comes a few days after the Trump administration chose Rodney Scott to serve as the Border Patrol chief.

Ortiz’s career with the agency began in the San Diego Sector. From 2000 to 2005, he served as the assistant patrol agent in charge and patrol agent in charge of the Comstock Station, as well as patrol agent in charge of the Del Rio Station. In 2005, Ortiz was promoted to assistant chief patrol agent in the Del Rio Sector.

In 2009 and 2010, Ortiz served as director of the Border Patrol Management Task Force in Afghanistan. Later in 2010, he served as the senior advisor to the special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan for Homeland Security. In 2011, Ortiz was promoted to the Senior Executive Service position of Homeland Security Attaché in Kabul until he began serving as deputy chief of operations at Border Patrol headquarters in Washington, DC.

Ortiz was promoted to deputy chief patrol agent of Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector in 2013, and became chief patrol agent of the sector in 2019.

“Deputy Chief Ortiz is an ‘Agent’s Agent’ and epitomizes the core values of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Border Patrol’s motto, ‘Honor First,'” Acting Border Patrol Commissioner Mark A. Morgan said in a news release.

Former CBP Official Sentenced to 31 Months in Prison for Illegally Selling Guns

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A former CBP watch commander who operated an illegal gun-selling business and committed other crimes while serving in law enforcement was sentenced Monday to 31 months in prison.

Wei Xu, 58, pleaded guilty in July to four felonies, including unlawfully dealing in firearms, possessing unregistered firearms, lying to a federal agency, and tax evasion, NBC News reports.

Prosecutors said Xu exploited his position as a law enforcement officer to buy and sell off-roster handguns. He also admitted to selling nearly 100 guns over two decades without a federal license, as required by law.

“Mr. Xu betrayed his oath to uphold the laws of the United States solely to put more money in his pocket,” Nick Hanna, the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, said in a statement.

Xu’s attorney, Mark J. Werksman, said described the sentence as fair and said his CBP service convinced a judge to reduce his prison time by a year.

Xu began working with CBP in 2004 and has been on administrative leave from his position at the Long Beach Seaport in California. He likely will be fired, Werksman said.

Brian C. Turner Named Assistant Director of the Operational Technology Division at FBI Headquarters

Brian C. Turner, via FBI

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Brian C. Turner, who recently served as the special agent in charge of the New Haven Field Office in Connecticut, has been named assistant director of the Operational Technology Division at FBI headquarters in Washington D.C.

The Operational Technology Division “provides technology-based solutions to enable and enhance the FBI’s intelligence, national security, and law enforcement operations,” the FBI said in a news release announcing the appointment.

Turner joined the FBI in 2002 as a special agent. His first assignment was with the Philadelphia Field Office, where he investigated white-collar crimes and criminal enterprises and supported surveillance operations.

Turner was deployed to Iraq in 2008 to support “FBI operational priorities” in the region.

After returning to the U.S. later that year, Turner served with the Fly Team of the Counterterrorism Division at headquarters, where he routinely traveled to Africa as part of the division’s overseas mission to combat global terrorism.

In 2012, Turner transferred to the Tucson Resident Agency of the Phoenix Field Office, supervising a criminal enterprise squad that targeted Mexican drug cartels along the U.S. border. He later supervised the Tucson Joint Terrorism Task Force.

In January 2016, Turner was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of criminal and administrative programs in the Minneapolis Field Office. In 2017, he became section chief in the International Operations Division at headquarters, overseeing the FBI’s legal attaché operations in Europe, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia.

In 2018, FBI Director Christopher Wray named him SAC of the New Haven Field Office.

Before joining the FBI, Turner earned a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served in the U.S. Army for about a decade. Turner also taught at West Point and earned a master’s degree from Long Island University.