YUMA AZ April 17 2013— A U.S. Border Patrol agent and an Arizona corrections officer face lengthy federal prison terms on allegations that they passed codes to unlock border gates, maps of hidden sensors and other sensitive information to smugglers before losing their jobs.
Ex-agent Ivhan Herrera-Chiang and former state Corrections Officer Michael Lopez-Garcia are to be sentenced Aug. 12 in U.S. District Court in Phoenix. Plea agreements with prosecutors call for each man to receive up to 15 years in prison.
Herrera-Chiang pleaded guilty Friday to bribery of a public official, the Yuma Sun reported Tuesday.
Federal court records indicate Lopez-Garcia pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy and to conspiracy to possess controlled substances with intent to distribute.
Both men were charged in early 2012 with conspiracy to possess drugs with intent to distribute.
As a Border Patrol agent, Herrera-Chiang, 29, was stationed in Yuma, while Lopez-Garcia, 28, worked at the state prison in San Luis, Ariz.
In his plea agreement, Herrera-Chiang said he provided maps and combinations to border gates to Lopez-Garcia to give to smugglers. The maps showed the locations of sensors hidden along the border to detect people entering the country illegally.
Herrera-Chiang said he also used a law enforcement database to look up confidential information about a drug load for Lopez-Garcia.
Lopez-Garcia said he was paid $5,000 for the gate combinations and that he shared the money with Herrera-Chiang.
Lopez-Garcia said he provided the information to smugglers and also acted as a lookout for smugglers and twice smuggled methamphetamine into the United States.
Lopez-Garcia admitted selling the smuggled methamphetamine as well as smuggled cocaine to a drug trafficker, but the buyer was an undercover agent.
In his plea agreement, Lopez-Garcia also admitted asking someone in a drug trafficking organization to arrange the murder of a government informant whom Lopez-Garcia thought had incriminating evidence about him and his activities.
Washington DC April 5 2013 The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced yesterday that it chose seven colleges and universities for its “Campus Resilience Pilot Program.” “This is an important step in our work with the academic community to help campuses prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate crisis and emergency situations,” said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. “Through their work with DHS, these colleges and universities will help us further develop best practices, resources and tools needed to assist campus communities nationwide in their efforts to reduce gun violence on campuses and bolster resilience and emergency planning processes for all types of hazards.” The selected colleges and universities are:
- Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pa.
- Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, Conn.
- Green River Community College, Auburn, Wash.
- Navajo Technical College, Crownpoint, N.M.
- Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
- Tougaloo College, Jackson, Miss.
- University of San Francisco, San Francisco, Calif.
According to the department, the program will “emphasize the importance of DHS’ Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) ‘Whole Community’ approach to planning and resilience efforts and will highlight the needs of various student populations.” The department said that the selected colleges and universities will help develop and pilot and emergency preparedness and resilience planning program. It will be assisted by “local stakeholders,” campus leaders and students. The Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council recommended that DHS create the program.
2 Maryland men arrested, indicted for manufacturing fake identification documents www.privateofficer.com
Special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested two men in Maryland Wednesday morning after both were indicted on document fraud related charges.
Read more: http://www.lasvegassun.com
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. Jan 31 2013 (AP) – An Iraqi man who pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges in Bowling Green has been sentenced to life in prison.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Russell sentenced 25-year-old Mohanad Shareef Hammadi on Tuesday, hours after 30-year-old co-defendant Waad Ramadan Alwan received a lesser sentence for his cooperation with prosecutors after his arrest in May 2011. Alwan could have received up to life in prison.
Hammadi’s sentencing grew contentious at times as prosecutors accused him of changing his story in an effort to secure less prison time. Hammadi testified during the hearing, speaking of growing up poor in Iraq and saying life was no longer normal after the U.S. invasion in 2003.
Hammadi and Alwan pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to send weapons, cash and explosives to al-Qaida in Iraq
LAS VEGAS NV Jan 28 2013 AP— Homeland Security officials said they’ve seized about $15,000 in knock-off sports merchandise in Las Vegas on a pre-Super Bowl crackdown.
Agents said they took two downtown kiosk operators into custody and seized about 600 phony NFL logo items this week. They said they found more than six dozen counterfeit jerseys, along with T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts with professional sports logos.
Officials said the merchandise would sell for $15,000 if it were authentic.
The shutdown is part of Homeland Security’s nationwide “Operation Red Zone” effort to curb fake sports paraphernalia.
Las Vegas agent Michael Harris said counterfeiting isn’t a victimless crime because it undermines the U.S. economy and can fund other criminal operations.
ALEXANDRIA, Va.Jan 12 2013 – A schizophrenic ex-Marine convicted of shooting at the Pentagon and other military targets has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Twenty-five-year-old Yonathan Melaku of Alexandria pleaded guilty last year to a series of shootings in 2010, including at the Marine Corps museum in Quantico and military recruiting stations. No one was injured.
The plea deal called for a non-negotiable 25-year sentence. But Melaku got new lawyers who uncovered evidence he was mentally ill. Government doctors have now also diagnosed him as schizophrenic.
At Friday’s sentencing hearing, Melaku confirmed that he wanted to go forward with the plea deal, even though he was aware of a potential insanity defense. He risked an 85-year sentence if he passed on the plea deal.
Couple charged after explosive substance, ‘terrorist’ papers found in NYC apartment www.privateofficer.com
Manhattan NY Jan 1 2013 A Manhattan couple was facing weapons charges Monday after authorities said they found a substance used to make bombs and papers titled “The Terrorist Encyclopedia” in their Greenwich Village apartment.
Morgan Gliedman, 27, and her 31-year-old boyfriend, Aaron Greene, were arrested on weapons-possession charges Saturday after officers with a search warrant discovered a plastic container with 7 grams of HMTD, a highly explosive white powder used in bomb making, police and prosecutors said.
Also found in the living room were numerous written items containing instructions on the manufacture of explosive materials and bombs, including a collection of pages that had a cover page entitled “The Terrorist Encyclopedia,” court papers said.
According to the court papers, chemical precursors to HMTD also were found in the living room.
Greene was held without bail after he appeared in state court in Manhattan on Sunday. Gliedman, who is nine months pregnant, was awaiting an initial court appearance. It was not clear who will represent her in court.
“The whole situation’s sad,” said attorney Lisa Pelosi, who represented Greene. She declined further comment. He is due back in court Friday.
The New York Post reported in its Monday editions that Gliedman is the daughter of a prominent Manhattan doctor. It described her boyfriend as a Harvard graduate and an Occupy Wall Street activist.
The newspaper said police went to the apartment with a search warrant stemming from a credit card-theft case. It said weapons recovered included a flare launcher, a commercial replica of a grenade launcher, a 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition and nine high-capacity rifle magazines.
Three people charged in a gas explosion that devastated Indianapolis neighborhood www.privateofficer.com
INDIANAPOLIS IN Dec 23 2012 (AP) — Three people charged in a gas explosion that devastated an Indianapolis neighborhood deliberately set up the deadly blast to collect a big insurance payout, authorities said Friday.
The home’s owner, Monserrate Shirley; her boyfriend, Mark Leonard; and his brother, Bob Leonard, were arrested Friday and charged with murder, arson and other counts in the Nov. 10 blast that killed two people.
Shirley, 47, was facing mounting financial woes, including $63,000 in credit card debt and worsening bankruptcy proceedings, court documents say. And a friend of Mark Leonard’s told investigators Leonard said he had “lost a ton of money” — about $10,000 — at a casino some three weeks before the explosion.
Investigators believe the trio had actually tried but failed to blow up Shirley’s home the weekend before the successful timed explosion, according to Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry. The fiery blast destroyed five homes, including Shirley’s, and caused widespread damage to dozens of others in the Richmond Hill subdivision in the far south side of the city.
Curry called the explosion a “thoroughly senseless act” that killed Shirley’s next-door neighbors. He said the victims, John Dion Longworth, a 34-year-old electronics expert, and his 36-year-old wife, second-grade teacher Jennifer Longworth, were “in the prime of their lives.”
Randall Cable, the attorney for Shirley and Mark Leonard, said he was stunned by their arrest.
“I’m just as surprised as everyone else that they’ve made an arrest. My clients have consistently indicated their innocence,” he said.
Shirley and the Leonard brothers face two counts of murder as well as 33 counts of arson — one count for each of the homes damaged so badly that officials have ordered their demolition.
Curry said his office would review whether to pursue the death penalty or life in prison without parole against the three, who are scheduled to appear in court Monday.
Shirley and Mark Leonard, 43, also face two counts of conspiracy to commit arson, while Bob Leonard, 54, faces a single count. Curry said the conspiracy charges stem from the failed explosion.
He said investigators determined that Shirley’s home filled up with gas after a gas fireplace valve and a gas line regulator were removed. A microwave, apparently set to start on a timer, sparked the explosion, he said.
On Friday, workers using heavy equipment were removing debris from razed homes in the neighborhood.
Doug Aldridge, the head of the Richmond Hill’s crime watch group, said after a neighborhood meeting that the allegations are “more than we anticipated.”
“Sometimes money makes people do stupid stuff,” Aldridge said.
Investigators found that in December 2011, Shirley’s home insurance policy for personal property was increased to $304,000 — an amount that was in addition to the coverage for the home itself, according to court documents.
A probable cause affidavit says Shirley filed for bankruptcy this year but stopped making her court-arranged payments and failed to appear at a July bankruptcy hearing. The home’s original loan was for $116,000 and a second mortgage was taken out on the home for $65,000, the affidavit also says.
A friend of Mark Leonard’s also told investigators that Leonard would surf online dating sites “and located older, heavier women, wine and dine them,” then borrowed money and never paid them back, according to the affidavit.
The friend said Shirley was aware of the scheming “and was OK with it so long as he did not sleep with the women,” the affidavit says.
Leonard has a criminal record that includes stalking and intimidation and convictions on dealing and possessing cocaine, according to prison records.
Two men, one fitting Bob Leonard’s description, were seen at Shirley’s home the day of the explosion, and Curry indicated investigators believe that’s when the gas line and valve were tampered with. He said authorities are still trying to determine the second man’s identity.
Curry said that the day before the blast, the brothers asked an employee of local gas utility Citizens Energy several questions, “including the differences between propane and natural gas, the role of a regulator in a house and controlling the flow of natural gas and how much gas it would require to fill a house.”
Curry said Shirley and her boyfriend had followed the same pattern two weekends in a row, visiting a southern Indiana casino, dropping off Shirley’s daughter with a baby sitter and boarding the family’s cat.
An affidavit says that when a friend of Mark Leonard’s called him Nov. 2, eight days before the successful blast, Leonard told the friend “the house blew up” and that he and Shirley were staying in an efficiency apartment.
In another call that day, Leonard told his friend he had been surfing Craigslist “looking for a Ferrari to buy” and explained that he could afford the luxury car because Shirley had jewelry insurance and “they expect to get $300,000 and he would get $100,000″ in the insurance payout, according to the affidavit.
It’s not clear whether investigators think Leonard believed the first explosion attempt had succeeded. Curry’s spokeswoman, Brienne Delaney, said the office could not comment beyond what was in the court documents.
The day after the explosion, Bob Leonard allegedly called his son and asked him to retrieve from a white van items he said he had salvaged from Shirley’s home after the blast.
“That, of course, is impossible because everything in the house was destroyed,” Curry said. “Plus no one was allowed access to the property after the explosion.”
Homeland Security Has Spent $430 Million on Radios Its Employees Don’t Know How to Use www.privateofficer.com
Washington DC Nov 26 2012
Ridgewood NJ Nov 19 2012
Stolen copper ingots valued at $1.25 million recovered at Port of Los Angeles www.privateofficer.com
Filipino crewman accused of faking fall overboard in Mobile, prompting $1 million search www.privateofficer.com
LORAIN, OHIO July 15 2012 - An interesting thing happened on the way to patrolling international water on Lake Erie. Deputies gathered intelligence that the wide open water of Lake Erie could also be used for human trafficking.
The Lorain County Sheriff’s Department was awarded a first-of-its-kind, technologically advanced patrol boat in 2011 through a Homeland Security grant to protect the northern border from terrorists using the Great Lakes to transport materials for dirty bombs.
David James who operates the boat for the Lorain County Sheriff’s Department said the boat is equipped with sophisticated equipment and can detect radiological and nuclear material on recreational boats or freighters illegally entering Lake Erie. Deputies have also used the boat to gather intelligence during patrols and interdictions or boat checks that have led to major drug investigations. The boat is also used for search and rescue.
But intelligence gathering led to a surprising discovery. There’s another growing illegal activity that this boat can help prevent.
The Lorain County Sheriff Department’s Chief Deputy Dennis Cavanaugh said so much focus has been placed on ports of entry in Detroit and Buffalo that human traffickers are possibly using boats to cross from Canada into United States water during summer months. Human traffickers illegally bring people into the county for the abusive sex trade or cheap labor.
Boats being used by human traffickers could blend in with recreational boaters, especially near the Lake Erie islands where thousands of boaters gather during summer weekends.
The sheriff’s department boat uses heat-sensing technology that indicates the number of people on board or where someone might be hiding on a boat. The boat’s infrared technology can show a person in the water or on a boat in total darkness by making a monitor appear as if it’s nearly daylight.
Working very closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Lorain County Sheriff’s department patrols 22 miles of Lake Erie shoreline, but most intelligence gathering missions are conducted nearly 20 miles from shore near Canadian water.
Investigators on the boat, a Boston Whaler 350 Challenger, work in conjunction with Homeland Security’s Northern Border Initiative.
The boat has enormous horsepower and tops out at nearly 60 mph. It has a touch screen that allows a computer to drive and guide it to an exact location on the lake..
The boat can team up with seven northern Ohio counties for mutual aid on a wide range of needs, but this shift in focus sheds new light on the growing concern over increased human trafficking.
Recent missions have been taking place in the evening or at night, but mission times vary which means you never know when the boat will be docked or out on the lake 20 miles from land.
The federal grant paid for the half million dollar boat.
The law goes into effect this fall.
Sex trafficking by taxi is rare, but advocacy groups say as police crackdown on brothels, traffickers have adjusted – now paying drivers of all kinds to ferry victims to the customer.
The city plans to train taxi drivers to spot clues.
But some cabbies say they’re being unfairly targeted by the law and question how police can enforce it.
Taxi drivers who knowingly transport sex trafficking victims will lose their license and face a $ 10,000 fine.
LOS ANGELES CA July 1 2012 - The Transportation Security Administration is firing eight federal air marshals for drinking on the job, and suspending six more for failing to report the incident.
The 14 marshals, who work out of the New York field office, were notified Friday and asked to turn in their weapons and credentials, TSA officials said. One probationary employee was terminated immediately. The rest can appeal.
Federal air marshals are armed, non-uniformed officers who fly on commercial flights to protect travelers. They also fan out among other law enforcement organizations during times of heightened security or special national events.
The drinking occurred at a restaurant in February and was reported to a website where employees can alert the organization of unethical and inappropriate behavior.
None of the marshals was scheduled to fly that day, but alcohol is forbidden when employees are on the clock.
Driver deliberately crashed car with gas container into NW D.C. building, police say www.privateofficer.com
Washington DC June 10 2012 A car carrying at least one container of gasoline crashed into the lobby of a prominent Washington office building Friday evening as diners ate at a restaurant one floor above, authorities said.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said the crash was deliberate. Law enforcement sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that one or more containers of gasoline were in the vehicle and that gasoline had been poured on or in it.
The vehicle smashed through plate glass and into the lobby of the building on the southwest corner of Connecticut Avenue and L Street NW about 7:30 p.m.
With its similarities to car bombings, the crash provoked a vigorous response. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force was at the scene, but there was no indication late Friday of a terrorist link. The motive was unclear.
The driver was taken to a hospital for evaluation, D.C. police said. There was no report of any other injuries.
“I felt a crash,” said a woman who was in the bar area of Morton’s the Steakhouse. “I kind of heard it.” She said someone in their group asked facetiously: “Is the building collapsing? Should we try to get out?”
The woman, Maureen Mathis, a law student working in D.C. for the summer, said a red vehicle, apparently a Jeep, rested in the lobby. Mathis said the man who appeared to be the driver struggled with building security officers, then with police. Police said the car had been stolen.
The corner is busy and many people were nearby, Mathis said. She added that she saw what appeared to be a gasoline container being taken out of the vehicle.
The entrance to the Farragut North Metro station at that corner was closed after the incident while police investigated. “Everyone said it was a miracle that no one was hurt,” Mathis said.
GAINESVILLE, Ga. June 2 2012
A federal magistrate judge denied bond for a north Georgia college student Thursday who the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said admitted building bombs.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne confirmed Wednesday a small army of ATF, FBI, GBI and local law enforcement raided a house in the woods where the girl lives near Cornelia.
The girl’s father told Winne she’s not a danger.
“Oh, she’s a real good person,” Tommy Savage said about his daughter Celia. “She likes to hunt and fish. She loves shooting. She goes sky diving. All kinds of stuff like that that you wouldn’t really typically think of a young lady doing
“What goes on in your heart and mind when you realize they’re arresting your daughter?” Winne asked Savage.
“I wish the government would stay out of my business or her business or whoevers,” Savage answered.
Winne found fascinating photos on Facebook through her name and now federal documents show Celia Savage facing some fascinating charges.
A sworn statement by an ATF agent said she illegally possessed a destructive device and possessed firearms while being an illegal drug user.
Tommy Savage told Winne his daughter Celia is a church-going college student but also is a daddy’s girl, hunting and fishing as she grew up. Like him, she is also a fierce advocate of the right to keep and bear arms.
“Is she a gun toting terrorist of any kind?” Winne asked Tommy Savage.
“Not hardly,” Savage answered, laughing.
Savage said his daughter’s not a militia member but she shares his dislike of government.
“The government, don’t have a whole lot of use for,” Savage said. “I think everybody ought to be able to stay on their property, do whatever the heck they want to.”
Savage confirms she’s in a YouTube video where she exploded a commode.
The ATF agent’s statement suggests Savage told an FBI agent she likes to blow up toilets in the woods.
Celia Savage allegedly has said she made five to seven pipe bombs of various sizes and that “manufacturing explosive devices and detonating them for recreation was her hobby.
But one wonders if she’ll have to face up to statements on Facebook.
“I despise all law enforcement and any governing authority. I am not one for selective targeting but mass destruction,” one statement said on her Facebook page.
Her dad said neither he nor his daughter advocate violence toward the government.
Documents allege suspect pot and suspected meth were found. They said Celia used pot the previous day and meth two months ago.
Her dad said to his knowledge his daughter is not a drug user but he’s concerned about some of the people she’s been hanging out with.
SAN DIEGO CA May 25 2012 — Customs officers found 700 pounds of marijuana in a commercial bus that was stopped at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, federal authorities said Wednesday.
Customs officers found 177 packages of marijuana on the bus. There were 22 passengers on the bus when it entered the port for inspection about 7 a.m. Tuesday, said Angelica De Cima, a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
A canine team was screening vehicles in the area when a dog alerted to the undercarriage of the bus.
Officers found 177 packages of marijuana in a compartment that had been built in the gas tank. The street value of the drug was estimated at $350,000, De Cima said.
The 37-year-old driver, a Mexican citizen who lives in Tijuana, was arrested and booked into the Metropolitan Correctional Center.