While the rest of the nation is in financial straits due to the sequester cuts, the DEA soldiers on. It just finished spending months on yet another Most Excellent African Adventure, which ended with traipsing 5 Africans, who had never set foot on U.S. soil or planned to commit any crime here before the DEA suggested one to them, to New York where they face potential life sentences.
Once again, the case involves FBI informants pretending to be Colombian providers of cocaine offering to fly drugs from South America to West Africa. Had the drugs been real, they would been shuttled from Africa to Europe. For jurisdictional purposes, the informants made sure to tell the Africans that a minor portion of the drugs would go to the U.S. and Canada.
To make the case fit the DEA’s “narco-terrorism” meme, the informants also asked the Africans to supply missiles and weapons, telling them they wanted to use them in Colombia to shoot down U.S. aircraft destroying their cocaine fields.
There never were any drugs or weapons of course. It was just another sting. [More...]
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Via CNet, the DEA is complaining it can't access Apple iMessages with a pen register or wiretap order. Here's the text of the memo CNET obtained:
In 2011, Apple® Inc. developed iMessage®, an instant messaging service capable of sending plain text, pictures, movies, locations, and contacts. On February 21, 2013, the DEA San Jose Resident Office (SJRO) learned that text messages sent v1a iMessages® between Apple products (iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch®, and iMao:ID) are not captured by pen register, trap and trace devices, or Title Ill interceptions. iMessages between two Apple devices are considered encrypted communication and cannot be intercepted, regardless of the cell phone service provider.
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A criminal probe of Fedex and UPS has been ongoing over shipments of drugs purchased illegally from online pharmacies. The investigation is in the Northern District of California (San Francisco.) UPS appears to be cooperating while Fedex is not. Both companies revealed the probe in their latest quarterly registration statements. UPS said:
We have received requests for information from the DOJ in the Northern District of California in connection with a criminal investigation relating to the transportation of packages for online pharmacies that may have shipped pharmaceuticals in violation of federal law," the company stated. UPS said it was cooperating with the investigation and is "exploring the possibility of resolving this matter."
Fedex says: ""Settlement is not an option when there is no illegal activity." [More...]
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Via the New York Times: U.S. Rethinks a Drug War After Deaths in Honduras
All joint operations in Honduras are now suspended. Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, expressing the concerns of several Democrats in Congress, is holding up tens of millions of dollars in security assistance, not just because of the planes, but also over suspected human rights abuses by the Honduran police and three shootings in which commandos with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration effectively led raids when they were only supposed to act as advisers.
DEA's FAST program began under George W Bush. (Obama has extended it.) FAST stands for Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team. In plain English, squads of commandos. It operates in Haiti, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Belize. Here's a powerpoint about it.
The Administration's total Drug War budget for 2013 is $25 billion. [More.]
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The New York Times had an article yesterday about impoverished grandmothers in Swaziland who are growing Swazi Gold to support themselves and the orphaned grandchildren they are raising, many of whose mothers died of Aids. They are high up in the hills near a place called Piggs Peak. They fear the police.
Maybe they ought to fear the DEA who could decide to make Piggs Peak the next stop on their excellent African Adventures tour.
If you don't think the DEA is in Swaziland, you'd be wrong. The DEA has an office in South Africa, where is where the Times says the grandmothers' pot ends up, which covers:
Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Central African Republic, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Mada-gascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
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The New York Times reports the Drug Enforcement Administration will be expanding operations in West Africa, in continued efforts to stop cocaine from going from South America to Africa to Europe.
“We see Africa as the new frontier in terms of counterterrorism and counternarcotics issues,” said Jeffrey P. Breeden, the chief of the D.E.A.’s Europe, Asia and Africa section. “It’s a place that we need to get ahead of — we’re already behind the curve in some ways, and we need to catch up.”
In 2009, the U.S. drug war budget for Africa was $7.5 million. For 2010 and 2011, it was $50 million. Now, for 2013, it seems to be at least $60 million.
At the State Department, Asst. Secy. William Brownfield has been pushing hard for support for the DEA's African adventures, including new initiatives like the five year West African Citizen Security Initiative (WACSI). There's also the West Africa Coast Initiative (WACI). [More...]
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Bump and Update: Mr. Chong has filed a a notice of his intent to sue and claim with the DEA (a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit under The Federal Tort Claims Act) seeking up to $20 million in damages. You can read it here. The DEA has issued an apology, and promised a thorough review.
In addition to traditional tort claims, his notice alleges torture in violation of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and Convention Against Torture. The FTCA (28 USC 2675) allows recovery for pain and suffering, psychiatric and medical expenses, etc.
The actions of the officers give rise to the following causes of actions among others: intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and a Bivens cause of action for violation of Daniel Chong's rights under the Fourth and the Fifth Amendments for excessive force, unreasonable detention and unlawful seizure of his person.[More...]
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12 agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration have filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice, AG Eric Holder and others for discrimination.
[Their lawyer says] agents hired in the U.S. who come to Puerto Rico receive a bonus for working in a so-called high-intensity drug trafficking area, which Puerto Rican agents already on the island don't get. She says they also get more dangerous assignments because they have local experience that the U.S. agents lack.
Reading through the Complaint, available on PACER: the lawsuit claims National Origin Discrimination in federal employment practices; Disparate Treatment; and Equal Protection violations. It alleges the Justice Department has violated the Federal Workforce Flexibility Act of 2004. The agents, who are from Puerto Rico, claim they are not receiving the same benefits as "non-local hires" and receive 25% less pay.
The agents also claim they are being used as "cannon fodder" for the DEA, forced out of administrative positions and back onto the dangerous streets. [More...]
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Update: The DEA has released a statement defending the money laundering stings.
The New York Times details the extradition papers of Harold Mauricio Poveda-Ortega, presumably in an effort to show another example of how the DEA is involved in money laundering stings. So what else is new? If you want more details, check out the 15 page magazine article of the magazine that obtained the documents (it's in Spanish.)
What the Times doesn't mention is that Harold Mauricio Poveda-Ortega is charged in federal court with engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise under 21 USC 848, the "kingpin" statute, and facing a potential life sentence when he gets here. [More...]
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The DEA has been training Bulgarian law enforcement officials from the General Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (GDBOP) since 2008. DEA Regional Director of DEA, Mark Destito is in Bulgaria today for meetings. [More...]
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Bump and Update: On Frontline tonight, don't miss A Perfect Terrorist, about former DEA informant David Coleman Headley, aka Daood Giliani, who pleaded guilty in Chicago in exchange for a life sentence for his role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
FRONTLINE and ProPublica investigate the mysterious circumstances behind David Headley’s rise from heroin dealer and U.S. government informant to master plotter of the 2008 attack on Mumbai.
By most accounts except its own, the DEA turned Headley from a drug informant into a terror informant. And failed to notice he had joined the terrorists for real. [More..]
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Despite diplomatic relations being restored with Bolivia yesterday, Vice President Vice President Alvaro Garcia said today the DEA is still unwelcome there.
[Garcia]says the Drug Enforcement Administration "was a mechanism of political blackmail" and is not welcome back.
The DEA was expelled from Bolivia in 2008 by by President Evo Morales.
The New York Times reports on one of my favorite topics, the increased militarization and globalization and intelligence-gathering powers of our new world cops, the DEA.
From shootouts in Honduras to raids in Guatemala, Colombia, Afghanistan and Africa, to monitoring prescription use here at home, the DEA is smack in the middle (pun intended) at a cost of billions a year. Our new global holy warriors. But who's watching the DEA? Congress? It just keeps feeding them money. [More...]
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The New York Times has a fairly uninformative article in which it refers to the DEA "infiltrating" Mexican drug cartels and using some of them as informants. It mentions the current case involving the Iranian accused of an assassination plot against the Saudi Ambassador and the Chicago federal case of Jesús Vicente Zambada-Niebla, son of Sinaloa co-leader Ismael Zambada-Niebla.
The Zambada-Niebla case is far more interesting. The gist is that Vicente says he was part of an immunity deal that encompassed not only Mexican lawyer/fugitive/indicted defendant Humberto Loya-Castro (Loya), who is an advisor to Chapo Guzman and Ismael Zambada-Niebla, and a participant in Sinaloa activity, but that all of them also had permission to carry on the cartel's drug trafficking activity. He also alleges that the DEA provided the same immunity from capture and prosecution, and permission to carry on Sinaloa business to Chapo Guzman and Ismael Zambada-Niebla, the two leaders of Sinaloa. [More...]
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today promised Russia will continue to support the legal efforts of Viktor Bout and pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, both of whom were ensnared in U.S. DEA stings abroad and brought to the U.S. for prosecution. Bout is on trial now in New York for terror related charges arising from an alleged arms trafficking deal. Yaroshenko was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in an African drug sting, and is appealing.
Our citizens may be certain that our country will not leave them in an unjust situation…These cases have attracted wide publicity,” Lavrov said in a radio interview.
“We are actively supporting both [Bout and Yaroshenko], as well as other Russian citizens who find themselves in similar situations…This support includes hiring experienced lawyers if necessary,” the minister said.
Lavrov also blasted the U.S. for the way it handled the cases: [More...]
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