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Tag: cartels

Des Moines Register: ATF Tobacco Investigation Schemes Is ‘Highly Questionable’

atf badgeBy Editorial Board
The Des Moines Register

It’s getting harder and harder to tell the good guys from the bad guys.

First there was the scandal involving federal agents who helped route guns to Mexican drug cartels. Then it was revealed that law enforcement officials nationwide have routinely abused forfeiture laws to seize the property of law-abiding citizens.

Now there are signs that agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives used highly questionable — arguably illegal – cigarette sales in order to fund a secret bank account used to pay informants.

And we’re not talking about a handful of rogue agents raising a few thousand dollars. The evidence points to tens of millions of dollars being raised by law enforcement officials through the same schemes used by the criminals they were supposed to be apprehending.

The operation, detailed in a recent report from the New York Times, wasn’t authorized by the Justice Department, the agency under which the ATF operates, and that appears to have been by design. It gave agents access to a bank account that, because it was off the books, wasn’t subject to the usual level of oversight.

The scheme itself was built on a complex series of transactions, some of which involved the sale and shipment of water and snacks disguised as cigarettes.

To read more click here. 

DEA Identifies Where Mexican Cartels Are Operating in the U.S.

Map of cartels identified by the DEA.

Map of cartels identified by the DEA.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA identified Mexican cartels that operate within the United States and provided a map to show where the drug gangs are wielding influence.

In Texas, for example, the DEA has identified the following cartels operating within the state: the Sinaloa, Gulf, Juarez, the Knights Templar, Beltran-Levya, Jalisco and the Zetas.

But Texas is far from alone. Most states have links to cartels, which can be very violent and supply dangerous drugs.

The areas with the highest concentration of cartel involvement are California, Texas, New York and New England.

Other Stories of Interest

Border Patrol Finds Whopping $3M in Cash Stuffed in Car Trunk

Border Patrol found $3 million in cash stuffed in a trunk, via Border Patrol.

Border Patrol found $3 million in cash stuffed in a trunk, via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Border Patrol agents are accustomed to finding cash or drugs packed away in vehicles.

But agents in San Diego were shocked when they opened the trunk of a car and found $3 million in cash, CNN reports.

“This is one of our larger cash seizures,” said Ralph DeSio, spokesman for the San Diego office of US Customs and Border Protection.

The bust is a major victory because it hurts the drug smugglers who rely on the cash.

The money was discovered in a Volkswagen Passat.

Other Stories of Interest

A Chat With A DEA Official About Detroit’s Drug Trade and the Influence of the Mexican Cartels

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Carlos L. Mitchem II knows about the drug trade.

He’s been a Drug Enforcement Administration agent since 1991, and has been posted in places like Chicago and Tucson and in some of the world’s hot spots,  Mexico and Colombia, where major drug cartels have flourished.

More than four years ago, he came to Detroit where he was named an assistant special agent in charge.

Times have changed over the years in Detroit. The big drug gangs like Young Boy Inc. no longer exist. Mitchem says the gangs are smaller and try to fly under the radar of law enforcement.

Mitchem, who sat down the other day with Allan Lengel, talks about the rise in popularity of heroin in the area and the presence of Mexican cartels in town.

Border Patrol Beefs Up Security After Claim That Agent Kidnapped

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

A claim that a Border Patrol agent was kidnapped by a Mexican cartel has prompted the agency to increase safety in some border towns, UPI reports.

As new safety measures are taken, Border Patrol officials said no agents are missing from the Rio Grande Valley sector, but they are still trying to reach some off-duty agents.

One precaution being taken in the El Pastor sector, which includes 268 miles, agents are required to keep in constant contact with headquarters, UPI wrote.

“At this time, the authenticity of the phone call received by the La Joya Police Department is uncorroborated. Nevertheless through an abundance of caution, El Paso sector has enacted safety protocols sector wide. The sector maintains communication with headquarters of the Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection,” the U.S. Border Patrol said.

Weekend Series on Crime: Mexican Cartels in the U.S

A Mexican Militia, Battling Michoacan Drug Cartel, Has American Roots

By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Staff Writer

LA ESTACION, Mexico — Jorge Rios, 11 rifle rounds and a silver cross decorating his black flak jacket, lost his job as a dishwasher in Tucson for driving without a license. Santos Ramos Vargas, at 43 the oldest of this gang, got deported from Menlo Park, Calif., when he was caught carrying a pistol.

Adolfo Silva Ramos might be with his 2-year-old daughter in Orange County rather than wearing a camouflage cap and combat boots if he hadn’t been busted selling marijuana and crystal meth while in high school there. The two dozen men standing guard on a rutted road that cuts through these lime groves and cornfields are just one small part of a citizen militia movement spreading over the lowlands of western Mexico. But as they told their stories, common threads emerged: Los Angeles gang members. Deported Texas construction workers. Dismissed Washington state apple pickers.

Many were U.S. immigrants who came back, some voluntarily but most often not, to the desiccated job market in the state of Michoacan and found life under the Knights Templar drug cartel that controls the area almost unlivable. They took up arms because they were financially abused by the extortion rackets run by the Templars. Because they had family killed or wounded by their enemies. Because carrying a silver-plated handgun and collecting defeated narcos’ designer cellphones as war booty is more invigorating than packing cucumbers. Because they get to feel, for once, the sensation of being in charge.

To read the full story click here.

Weekend Series on Crime: The Kidnapping Tactics of the Mexican Cartel