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Tag: DEA

DEA Agent Who Protected Violent Puerto Rican Drug Cartel Pleads Guilty

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A former police officer accused of joining the DEA so he could protect a violent Puerto Rican drug cartel has pleaded guilty.

Fernando Gomez, who infiltrated the DEA and was working in the Chicago field office, was arrested in December and charged with racketeering conspiracy for his alleged decade-long affiliation with the Organizacion de Narcotraficantes Unidos. The gang, which imported vast shipments of cocaine into the U.S., was accused in the indictment of participating in at least eight drug-related killings in New York and Puerto Rico and smuggling thousands of kilograms of cocaine.

Gomez is accused of helping the gang beginning in 2006 when he was a detective with the city of Evanston.

Under a plea deal, the 42-year-old former U.S. Marine faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on Nov. 21 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, The Associated Press reports.

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.

DEA Opens New Office in Duluth, Minn., to Crack Down on Illicit Drugs

News conference announcing the new DEA office in Duluth, via the DEA.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The DEA is opening a new office in Duluth, Minn., to crack down on illicit drugs.

Richard Salter Jr., special agent in charge of the DEA’s Omaha Division, said a partnership with the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force “provides a force-multiplier for all involved agencies.”

“This partnership brings additional federal law enforcement and prosecutorial resources that will help dismantle criminal drug trafficking organizations currently causing destruction to many of our families and communities,” said in a news release.

The Duluth Post of Duty is the DEA’s 240th domestic office. The new office is part of the Omaha Division, which has 11 offices covering Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and counties in Western Illinois and Western Wisconsin.

Salter said he’s grateful for the partnerships with state, local and tribal law enforcement.

“We’re merely embedding DEA agents into the very successful and long-standing Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force,” Salter said. “The DEA’s strength is our global network of intelligence and operational resources throughout the United States that enables us to respond rapidly and expand investigations that often link to other major U.S. transportation-hub cities, the U.S.-Mexico border, and ultimately to drug cartels in Mexico and fentanyl suppliers in China.”

DEA Inches Closer to Opening Up More Marijuana Research

Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA’s hesitance to allow for more serious research into marijuana may finally be coming to an end.

The agency announced this week that it’s going to enable more researchers to grow cannabis for studies. For decades, the only entity allowed to research marijuana was the University of Mississippi.

The move could make it easier to legalize marijuana – a step that many states have taken over the past five years.

Marijuana has been illegal on the federal level because it has been labeled a schedule 1 drug, which means it has no medicinal value.

“The main thing that it will likely do is precipitate broader changes in federal policy in marijuana, which will have immense knock-on effects for the industry,” said David Abernathy, vice president of government affairs at the Arcview Group, which markets marijuana research, CNN reports.

DEA Supervisor Busted in ‘Improper Personal Relationship’ with Confidential Source

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A DEA supervisor was involved in an “improper personal relationship” with a confidential source, taking the source on dates and making unjustified payments to the source, according to a report by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General.

The internal watchdog investigation was prompted by a tip from the DEA’s Office of Professional Responsibility, which said the unnamed supervisor “caused false statements to be made to justify” payments to the source, The Hill first reported.

The report also states the supervisor took the source on dates using a government vehicle, which is a violation of DEA policy. The supervisor also shared nonpublic information about personnel issues.

“The OIG concluded that the GS violated DEA policy and federal law when the GS approved payments to the CS without proper justification and when the GS approved a form relating to the CS knowing that it included false statements,” the report states.

Prosecutors declined to charge the supervisor, who the report says violated DEA policy and federal law.

Feds Seize a Record 16.5 Tons of Cocaine Worth $1B+ in Philadelphia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal authorities seized more than $1 billion worth of cocaine at the Philadelphia Port, calling it the largest coke bust in the history of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the third largest in the U.S.

The DEA bust netted 16.5 tons of cocaine from seven shipping containers found in a cargo ship docked at the Packer Marine Terminal, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.

Federal authorities arrested two members of the crew, Ivan Durasevic and Fonofaavae Tiasag.
Authorities said the ship appears to have originated from Chile and traveled to Peru, Columbia and Panama.

“This amount of cocaine could kill millions – MILLIONS – of people,” Philadelphia-based U.S. Attorney William McSwain said on Twitter, “My Office is committed to keeping our borders secure and streets safe from deadly narcotics.”

Public Invited to Interact with DEA Special Agents During Lecture Series

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a special agent for the DEA?

The DEA Museum in Arlington, Va., is offering the public an opportunity to hear from several special agents as part of a lecture series Tuesday. They will discuss who they are and what they do.

The event is free. Register at EventBrite.com. Can’t make it? The event will be live-streamed.

Speaking during the lecture series are Steve Fraga, who works with law enforcement counterparts in South America and Central America; Michelle Spahn, who serves as supervisory special agent and DEA 360 strategy coordinator; and Amador Martinez, who works on a number of assignments at DEA headquarters.

According to the event page:

Special Agents are on the front line for drug law enforcement in America and around the world. DEA’s goal is to eliminate illegal drug distribution, prosecute traffickers and destroy the financial infrastructure of these organizations. As the federal government’s premier drug law enforcement agency, our mission has never been so important. Agents are prepared for innumerable tasks including facilitating informant contacts, making drug arrests, community outreach, and international diplomacy.

Special Agents must maintain many skills to perform in less than ideal and often high pressure situations. While in the field, agents may investigate and help prosecute major violators of controlled substance laws, and partner with federal, state, local, and foreign officials in managing drug intelligence programs. Agents are often identified as the people who arrest and search subjects and seize assets connected to illicit drug trafficking, but they are also responsible for collecting and preparing evidence and performing other judicial functions. DEA Special Agents have a long-standing history in combating the critical problems of drug trafficking.

The event is from 11 a.m. to noon in the auditorium of DEA headquarters at 700 Army Navy Dr., Arlington, Va.

For more information, call the DEA Museum at (202) 307-3463.

Mexican Police Arrest Cartel Member Accused in 1985 Torture, Murder of DEA Agent

Ezequiel Godinez Cervantes is in custody.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Mexican police arrested a 77-year-old man accused in the 1985 torturing and killing of DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena Salazar.

The arrest of Ezequiel Godinez Cervantes is major break in what was the first time a cartel had murdered a DEA agent.

DEA Agent Enrique Camarena

The FBI tipped off Mexican authorities that Godinez had crossed the border.

“The killing of an American agent on foreign soil was a huge game changer for the United States,” Gretchen Von Helms, a criminal defense attorney who has no ties to the case, told NBC 7 San Diego. “They were obviously very interested in protecting their agents down there and at the time the DEA operated in Mexico much like it was in the United States. You didn’t believe that you could be killed.”

Camarena was working undercover in February 1985 when he disappeared. His body was found a month later on a ranch in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The Guadalajara Cartel accused the agent of taking down a marijuana plantation.

“His name has morphed into a symbol of the drug wars between the United States and Mexico,” Von Helms told NBC 7.

Camarena was depicted in the Netflix show “Narcos: Mexico.”

Godinez, who also is accused of killing two Americans he mistook for DEA agents, was handed over to immigration officials for planned extradition to the U.S., where he will be charged.