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News Story

Border Patrol Agent Shot in Texas During Routine Traffic Stop

Photo via Border Patrol

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A Border Patrol agent was shot during a routine traffic stop Friday night near the U.S.-Mexico Border in Texas.

The agent’s partner returned fire, killing the suspect at the scene, ABC News reports.

The two agents and a deputy with the Kinney County Sheriff’s Department had pulled over a car near Brackettville, Texas, when a passenger opened fire.

The agent was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

CBP did not identify the agents or the suspects by name, but said the gunman was a 25-year-old man. The driver was a 32-year-old woman. Both are U.S. citizens.

“The agents and sheriff’s deputy requested medical assistance and rendered first aid, however the passenger of the vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene,” CBP said in a statement Saturday. “The injured agent was taken to a local hospital for treatment of a non-life threatening gunshot wound, and later transported by AirFlight to a San Antonio hospital.”

Russian Spies Penetrated FBI Communications in Brazen Counterintelligence Operation

Russian leader Vladimir Putin

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Russia’s unprecedented campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election appeared to be the primary reason why the Obama administration forced out three dozen Russian diplomats from the U.S. at the end of his term.

But something more sinister was going on.

Russian spies were using two rural East Coast estates to carry out a brazen counterintelligence operation that targeted FBI communications, Yahoo News reports, citing former U.S. officials.

Russians managed to decrypt what was believed to be secure types of communications, enabling spies to tap into surveillance used by elite FBI teams. The FBI’s ability to track spies on U.S. soil was hampered, and the bureau and CIA even stopped contacting some of their Russian assets.

The counterintelligence operation was so successful that some U.S. officials feared a Russian mole had penetrated U.S. intelligence agencies.

“It was a very broad effort to try and penetrate our most sensitive operations,” a former senior CIA official said.

Despite the discovery, President Trump continues to brag about his good relationship with Russia and has never divulged the severity of the country’s counterintelligence just before he took office.

Weekend Series on Crime History: The FBI in the 1930s

Border Apprehensions Sharply Decline in August. Officials Credit Beefed Up Enforcement

Border Patrol agent makes an arrest. Photo via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol saw a significant decline in apprehensions in August, a rare decrease for the month.

The number of undocumented migrants detained for trying to cross the U.S. border in August dropped 22% over July. The decline was even more significant in the San Diego sector, where apprehensions dropped 43% compared to July.

Last year, August apprehensions were higher than July’s.

“This is not due to a seasonal decline,” Chief Patrol Agent Douglas Harrison told reporters Thursday.

Harrison said the decline is likely due to more enforcement from partners, including the newly created Mexico National Guard.

“This is a welcome relief and an indication that our efforts and those of our partners are having significant positive effects,” Harrison said.

Andrew McCabe Failed to Convince DOJ Officials Not to Charge Him

Fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe faces the possibility of being charged for allegedly make false or misleading statements to internal investigators.

A top official in Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen’s office notified McCabe Thursday that his lawyers had failed to persuade Justice Department officials to drop the case, The Washington Post reports.

“The Department rejected your appeal of the United States Attorney’s Office’s decision in this matter,” the official wrote, according to one person familiar with the case. “Any further inquiries should be directed to the United States Attorney’s Office.”

It’s not clear yet whether McCabe, a 21-year FBI veteran and a target of President Trump’s ire, would be charged.

An inspector general’s report alleges McCabe lied on at least four occasions – three of which were under oath. After the IG’s report was issued, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe in March 2018, just before his retirement benefits would have kicked in.

McCabe took issue with the report, saying he never intended to mislead investigators.

A Key Federal Source in Jimmy Hoffa Caper Dies at 89

The writer, a Washington investigative journalist specializing in organized crime and political corruption investigations, is a Jimmy Hoffa murder specialist. He is the author of “The Hoffa Wars” (1978) and eight other books. 

By Dan Moldea

Featured_wells_37881
Don and Monica Wells, at their one-time horse farm in Wixom in 2009, which was dug up by the FBI during a 2006 search for Jimmy Hoffa. (Photo: Dan Moldea)

One of the most important federal sources of information about the Jimmy Hoffa murder case was Donovan Wells, who died Sept. 5  at age 89 outside of Detroit. Below is an excerpt of a story I wrote for the 40th anniversary of the Hoffa case in 2015, based partly on interviews with Don and his wife, Monica. I liked and respected him for turning his life around.

♦ ♦ ♦

FBI agents raided a Milford Township farm looking for Hoffa’s remains in May 2006, based on information from Donovan Wells, a former business partner of both Rolland McMaster and Stanton Barr. At the time, Wells was in a federal prison in Lexington, Kentucky. He and his family lived on McMaster’s farm the summer Hoffa disappeared.

The FBI’s search warrant for McMaster’s farm has never been released. But Wells told me in 2009 that he informed the FBI that a large hole had been dug on the north end of the property several weeks before Hoffa’s murder.

In addition, his wife Monica claimed that on the afternoon of Hoffa’s July 30, 1975 disappearance, she saw two or three dark cars speeding onto the property, roaring past the farmhouse on an adjacent dirt road, and heading towards the pre-dug hole.

But what had really piqued the FBI’s interest was what Wells had seen and heard the night before Hoffa’s murder. At a local restaurant, as Wells, McMaster, and Barr were having dinner, mobster and Teamster official Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano – in the flesh – suddenly appeared, slapped his hand on their table, and said: “It’s going to be a great day tomorrow! A great day tomorrow! Right, Mac?” And he slapped McMaster on the back.

Provenzano then asked McMaster to accompany him to the bar for a private conversation.

Featured_jimmy-hoffa-found-2013_23655
Jimmy Hoffa

While they were gone, Wells asked Barr what was going on. Barr replied that Provenzano and Hoffa were meeting the following day to settle their differences—and that Tony Giacalone was making the arrangements for the sitdown.

When Provenzano and McMaster returned to the table, Provenzano pointed to McMaster and Barr and asked, “Do you guys know where you’re going to be tomorrow?”

McMaster responded, “Yeah, we’re all straight on that.”

The FBI never unearthed Hoffa’s remains, or any evidence that he had been killed on McMaster’s farm, but Don Wells—who passed an FBI polygraph test—gave the bureauh important new information about Hoffa’s disappearance in 2006: Rolland McMaster and Tony Pro were together at a restaurant in Detroit on July 29, 1975, the night before Hoffa disappeared. Wells also heard a portion of their conversation which was clearly about Provenzano’s scheduled 2 p.m. meeting with Hoffa on July 30, as well as the need for McMaster and Barr to have established alibis for the afternoon when Hoffa was last seen.

The writer authored a story in July headlined Jimmy Hoffa Vanished 44 Years Ago. Here’s What I Think Happened.

CBP Seizes 28 Counterfeit NBA Rings at Los Angeles International Airport

Counterfeit NBA championship rights, via CBP.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

CBP seized 28 counterfeit NBA rings at Los Angeles International Airport.

The value of the rings, if genuine, is estimated at $560,000.

CBP officers found the rings in a wooden box while examining a shipment from China.

The rings included designs from 11 teams: The Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors.

“Scammers take advantage of collectors and pro-basketball fans desiring to obtain a piece of sports history”, Carlos C. Martel, CBP director of field operations in Los Angeles, said in a news release. “This seizure illustrates how CBP officers and import specialists protect not only trademarks, but most importantly, the American consumer.”

DEA Gets Serious about Studying Marijuana for Its Medical Values While Crack Down on Opioids

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The DEA is proposing to increase the amount of marijuana that can be legally grown for research by 30% in 2020, a promising sign for cannabis advocates who have long insisted the plant has healing properties.

Under the plans unveiled Wednesday, the DEA has called for 3.2 million grams of cannabis to be manufactured for scientific studies to determine the medical value of marijuana

“This will meet the need created by the increase in the amount of approved research involving marijuana,” DEA said in a press release. “Over the last two years, the total number of individuals registered by DEA to conduct research with marijuana, marijuana extracts, derivatives and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has increased by more than 40 percent, from 384 in January 2017 to 542 in January 2019.”

The DEA also is proposing to reduce the amount of Schedule II opioids that can be manufactured in the U.S. next year. The DEA wants to reduce the amount by 31 percent, hydrocodone by 19 percent, hydromorphone by 25 percent, oxycodone by nine percent and oxymorphone by 55 percent.

“The aggregate production quota set by DEA each calendar year ensures that patients have the medicines they need while also reducing excess production of controlled prescription drugs that can be diverted and misused,” Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon said in a statement. “DEA takes seriously its obligations to both protect the public from illicit drug trafficking and ensure adequate supplies to meet the legitimate needs of patients and researchers for these substances.”

For decades, marijuana has been illegal because it was listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which means researchers believe it has no medical value. More substantial research could change that.

Numerous states have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, despite a federal law making it illegal.