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Tag: New Mexico

Ken Walton, the Most Flamboyant SAC Ever to Head FBI Detroit Division, Dead at 76

Ken Walton

Ken Walton

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Kenneth P. Walton, whose career as an FBI agent spanned 24 years, and who was regarded inside and outside the bureau as the most flamboyant person ever to head the Detroit FBI, died late last month in New Mexico after a battle with cancer. He was 76.

Walton, who headed the Detroit FBI from 1985 to 1988, oversaw some key investigations during his tenure in Detroit including a high-profile FBI sting that resulted in the indictments and guilty pleas of a number of crooked Detroit judges from 36th District and Recorder’s courts. After Detroit, he moved on to headquarters and retired in 1989.

“He loved the FBI and was a workaholic,” said retired FBI agent John Anthony, who worked at the time as legal advisor to the Detroit office and press spokesman. “I would usually get in at around 7 a.m. He was there in the office at 5:30 or 6 o’ clock everyday. He had a keen mind for investigations. He knew personnel. He knew who the hard workers were. He was a good organizer.”

Publicly, he had a TV-like image with his full-head of hair, which always seemed perfectly in place, much like the TV character Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in the TV show, The F.B.I.

He was articulate and dapper, often dressing in French-cuffed shirts his wife designed. In the colder months, he would be seen with a trench coat over his shoulders, which earned him the nickname “The Cape Crusader.”

He also wasn’t shy about expressing his views, and he ended up bumping heads with then-U.S. Attorney Roy C. Hayes. He made no secret of his dislike for Hayes.

Ross Parker, a retired federal prosecutor who was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office under Hayes, recalled the first time he walked into Walton’s FBI office.

“It was like walking into the Ken Walton Museum,” he said. “There were hundreds of photos of him with well known people and plaques covering every square inch of wall.”

“Non-Bureau law enforcement people did not always agree with his views but you had to admire his confidence and willingness to take a position. An example was the investigation of local judges. While some were ringing their hands over the undercover methods, he was full-steam-ahead and he made some innovative suggestions. He was charismatic, controversial, and did everything with flair.”

Many agents admired him.

“He was a legend,” said retired FBI Agent Terry Booth. “He was old school. Everybody liked him.  He seemed to back the agents and they loved him for it.”

Walton was sometimes criticized for flocking to TV cameras like a moth to light, and having a large ego.

“He was flashy, no doubt about it,” Anthony said.

But Anthony said it was really about getting the FBI publicity.

“He felt the FBI needed to be in the media because the public needed to know what the FBI was all about,” Anthony said, adding:

“You won’t see another one like him.”

Walton was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

He is survived by his wife, Charlotte; brother Jim of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin; and various in-laws and friends, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

Border Patrol Agent Shoots Drug-Smuggling Suspect After Confrontation

border patrol 3By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A physical confrontation with a Border Patrol agent didn’t end well for a suspected drug smuggler Monday morning near the Arizona-New Mexico border, the Arizona Daily Star reports.

The agent shot and wounded the suspect at about 10:45 a.m. in New Mexico

Agents were looking for suspects who fled a vehicle containing drugs when the incident began.

The suspect’s condition wasn’t immediately known, but the person was flown to an undisclosed hospital.

Feds, Tribal Officials Bust Up Meth Trafficking on Reservation with 34 People Charged

Mescalero Apache Reservation, via Wikipedia.

Mescalero Apache Reservation, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA and tribal officials cracked down on methamphetamine trafficking on the Mescalero Apache Reservation in southern New Mexico following an 18-month investigation, filing drug charges against 34 suspects, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports. 

The sting dismantled there drug trafficking organizations and led to the seizure of more than 22 pounds of methamphetamine.

The investigation began after an increase in drug-related violent crime on the reservation of 4,000 people.

“Given the disproportionate negative impact that methamphetamine has on our tribal communities, the significance of the results of this investigation cannot be overstated,” U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez said. “More than 75 percent of law enforcement agencies that work in Indian Country identify methamphetamine as the greatest drug threat faced by tribal communities.”

A whopping 40% of the violent crimes committed on the reservation involved meth, Martinez said.

Other Stories of Interest

New Mexico Man Sues Border Patrol Over Medical Marijuana Rights

medical marijuanaBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A New Mexico man filed suit against Border Patrol, saying agents are violating the law by refusing to allow him to posses medical marijuana, Las Cruces Sun-News reports.

Raymundo Marrufo filed the federal lawsuit in hopes of getting an injunction against Border Patrol for asking travelers about drugs at border checkpoints.

To obtain his medical cannabis, Marrufo must pass through a Border Patrol checkpoint, where he is asked whether he has any illegal drugs.

“If Marrufo answers ‘yes,’ he is a drug smuggler subject to felony indictment,” the court complaint states.

If Marrufo says no, he could be charged with lying to a federal agent.

“He doesn’t know if his life, for all intents and purposes, is going to end that day,” his attorney, Jason Flores-Williams, said in an interview Tuesday.

In the suit, Marrufo argues that a federal provision makes it illegal for the DOJ to interfere with state statues that allow the “use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

“Whether it is a sense of entitlement, indifference or simply ignorance of the law, the court must immediately issue an injunction enjoining the United States Border Patrol from asking questions and conducting searches that violate that Rohrabacher Amendment,” the complaint states.

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

courtroomBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

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
ticklethewire.com

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
ticklethewire.com

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

RecognitionSource.net

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

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.

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