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How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Tag: New Mexico

Federal Lawsuit: FBI Agents Used Excessive Force with 3 Children in Drug Raid

courtroomBy Steve Neavling

A federal lawsuit accuses FBI agents of using excessive force during a drug raid at a New Mexican trailer where three children were sleeping, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

According to the suit, FBI agents blew open the front door with a stun grenade, causing shrapnel to strike a 10-year-old boy in the head and shoulder. A 12-year-old girl was forced to walk outside on glass, cutting her feet. All three children, including the 9-year-old, were emotionally traumatized, the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Las Cruces alleges.

The May 2013 raid was part of a pre-dawn bust of 22 suspected drug and gun dealers.

The FBI declined to comment on pending litigation.

Man Loses Lawsuit That Claimed DEA Supplied Him with Crack for Help in Investigation

220px-Crack_street_dosageBy Steve Neavling

A New Mexico man who claims federal agents gave him crack cocaine in exchange for help in an undercover investigation lost a lawsuit against he agency.

U.S. District Judge Martha Vazquez dismissed the suit, which alleged that the plaintiff’s crack addiction was reignited, saying damages can’t sought when the person’s own wrongful conduct caused the injury, the Associated Press reports. 

The lawsuit claims Aaron Romero was given crack cocaine to help in a case known as “Operations Smack City,” an alleged violation of DEA policy.

Romero, 39, was seeking $8.5 million in damages.

Other Stories of Interest

Former Police Chief Found Dead Hours After FBI Alleges Theft

By Steve Neavling

Just hours after the FBI accused a former police chief in New Mexico of stealing federal money, the suspect was found dead, possibly of a suicide.

The Associated Press reports that former Rio Grande City Police Chief Byron Piper, who retired in December, was found dead at his home with a gunshot wound.

FBI agents filed a complaint Monday, accusing Piper of stealing more than $44,000 in federal grant money that was meant for overtime pay for border security operations.

Agents conducted surveillance and discovered that Piper did very little work during the time he was collecting overtime pay.

“He stayed several hours at home; he spent several hours eating meals at various restaurants; and he completed a number of personal errands,” the complaint said.

Piper acknowledged in a meeting with the FBI that he did not work about 70% of the time he submitted OT sheets.

“I did it out of being lazy and stupidity,” Piper’s statement said. “I am very, very sorry for my actions. It is not only another stain on law enforcement but I am also hurting my family and embarrassing them.”

Man Wanted on Child Sexual Abuse Charges Identified with FBI’s Facial Recognition Technology

Steve Neavling

The FBI’s facial recognition technology helped nab a man wanted on child sex abuse charges, Gizmodo reports.

Neil Stammer, who speaks more than 10 languages, was wanted for 14 years and seemed to have no problem evading authorities.

That was until recently when he submitted a visa application at the U.S. Embassy in Nepal under a different name. The facial recognition technology indicated that the visa photo resembled Stammer.

A closer examination determined it was indeed Stammer, who is now in custody and being returned to New Mexico to face child sexual assault charges.

“It could be years until we can accurately pick out a single face in large crowd using this technology, but the days or forged paperwork helping criminals cross borders could well be over,” Gizmodo wrote.

Documents Show Border Patrol Slow, Reluctant to Take Action on Complaints of Abuse by Agents

Steve Neavling

New CBP documents raise more pressing questions about how the federal government is handling complaints of abuse by Border Patrol agents, the Arizona Republic reports.

The reports show that only 13 of 809 complains of abuse filed against agents from January 2009 to January 2012 resulted in CBP action.

Of those, one led to an agent’s suspension and two led to court action.

The documents also show that CBP is slow to take up the cases. About 40% of the complaints were still pending, the Arizona Republic wrote.

“Border Patrol agents who commit abuse simply get away with it,” said Vicki Gaubeca of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Regional Center for Border Rights in New Mexico.


Border Patrol Cracks Down on Medical Marijuana in New Mexico Despite Leniency Elsewhere

Steve Neavling

Medical marijuana cardholders in New Mexico are running into trouble in New Mexico courtesy of the Border Patrol.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that patients are afraid to travel in the state because of Border Patrol checkpoints and crackdowns of marijuana, which is still illegal nationally.

The crackdown comes as the Justice Department, under the recommendations of President Obama, grows more tolerant of state laws allowing medical pot.

CBP appears on be on an anti-marijuana mission, prompting calls from state and federal representatives to urge the agency to rethink its position on pot, the Journal reported.

“Their argument is that, at the federal level, marijuana is still illegal and that is correct,” state Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Las Cruces, wrote in a letter to CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske. “However, with states like Colorado and Washington legalizing marijuana, most of the agencies of the federal government have changed their policies to reflect the reality.”

Homeland Security Crackdown Nets 600+ Arrests of Suspected Gang Members

Steve Neavling

Homeland Security arrested more than 600 suspected gang members in what is being called the largest gang crackdown ever by the agency, the Associated Press reports.

The operation, dubbed “Project Southbound,” involved Ice agents and local authorities in 179 cities, leading the arrest of 638 suspected gang members between March and April.

Of those, more than 400 had violent criminal histories and seven were wanted on murder charges.

“These are bad people with bad motives from bad organizations,” said Thomas Winkowski, the principal deputy assistant secretary for ICE.

The arrests happened nationwide in places that include Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Maryland and New Mexico.

The crackdown was part of an initiative to target gangs with ties to other countries.


Homeland Security Department Goes Way Beyond Its Original Mission to Protect U.S. from Terrorists

Steve Neavling

The Department of Homeland Security, which was created in November 2002 following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, has gone far beyond its original purpose and is being used to investigate crimes unlearned to terrorism, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

The new law was simple: “The primary mission of the department is to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States; reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism; minimize the damage, and assist in the recovery from terrorist attacks that do occur within the United States.”

But more than 11 years later, the mission has included interrogating people suspected of pirating videos, seizing counterfeit NBA merchandise and going after pickpocket cases.

“They’ve kind of lost their way,” former Secretary Tom Ridge said. “I was proud to be associated with those men and women, but it just seems to me … the focus – the primary focus – has been substantially diminished.”

But Homeland Security wants to expand its operations even more, especially in New Mexico, the Journal reported.

“I really do want to expand the footprint as far as my side of Homeland Security,” said Kevin Abar, assistant special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New Mexico.