Posts Tagged ‘DEA’
DEA agents – or AT&T employees?
For at least six years, law enforcement officials working on a counternarcotics program have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans’ phone calls — parallel to but covering a far longer time than the National Security Agency’s hotly disputed collection of phone call logs.
The Hemisphere Project, a partnership between federal and local drug officials and AT&T that has not previously been reported, involves an extremely close association between the government and the telecommunications giant.
The government pays AT&T to place its employees in drug-fighting units around the country. Those employees sit alongside Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local detectives and supply them with the phone data from as far back as 1987.
The project comes to light at a time of vigorous public debate over the proper limits on government surveillance and on the relationship between government agencies and communications companies. It offers the most significant look to date at the use of such large-scale data for law enforcement, rather than for national security.
The scale and longevity of the data storage appears to be unmatched by other government programs, including the N.S.A.’s gathering of phone call logs under the Patriot Act. The N.S.A. stores the data for nearly all calls in the United States, including phone numbers and time and duration of calls, for five years.
Hemisphere covers every call that passes through an AT&T switch — not just those made by AT&T customers — and includes calls dating back 26 years, according to Hemisphere training slides bearing the logo of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Some four billion call records are added to the database every day, the slides say; technical specialists say a single call may generate more than one record. Unlike the N.S.A. data, the Hemisphere data includes information on the locations of callers.
The slides were given to The New York Times by Drew Hendricks, a peace activist in Port Hadlock, Wash. He said he had received the PowerPoint presentation, which is unclassified but marked “Law enforcement sensitive,” in response to a series of public information requests to West Coast police agencies.
The program was started in 2007, according to the slides, and has been carried out in great secrecy.
“All requestors are instructed to never refer to Hemisphere in any official document,” one slide says. A search of the Nexis database found no reference to the program in news reports or Congressional hearings.
The Obama administration acknowledged the extraordinary scale of the Hemisphere database and the unusual embedding of AT&T employees in government drug units in three states.
But they said the project, which has proved especially useful in finding criminals who discard cellphones frequently to thwart government tracking, employed routine investigative procedures used in criminal cases for decades and posed no novel privacy issues.
Crucially, they said, the phone data is stored by AT&T, and not by the government as in the N.S.A. program. It is queried for phone numbers of interest mainly using what are called “administrative subpoenas,” those issued not by a grand jury or a judge but by a federal agency, in this case the D.E.A.
The government will offer up blather about success at shutting down drug dealers. Worthy of one more ironic slow clap. Success arrived at by compromising the privacy of the citizens of a supposedly free country is crap. Government self-praise floating atop a cesspool of corrupt practices is just one more signal of imperial power clasped to the bosom of power-hungry politicians.
Relying on one of our royal corporations to store and dole out information on every citizen smacks of one more sci-fi prediction come true. Corporate networks functioning as the best ally of a potentially fascist state ain’t exactly something worth bragging about. Even though that will be the response from hacks in both parties now that Drew Hendricks has turned up one more Big Brother watchdog in our lives.
A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.
Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.
The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don’t know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence – information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.
“I have never heard of anything like this at all,” said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011. Gertner and other legal experts said the program sounds more troubling than recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been collecting domestic phone records. The NSA effort is geared toward stopping terrorists; the DEA program targets common criminals, primarily drug dealers.
“It is one thing to create special rules for national security,” Gertner said. “Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations.”
Tell me again how Obama and the Dems care more about due process than the scumbags in the Tea Party/Republican Party. I just bought a new pair of rubber boots and I’m prepared to break them in walking through a farmyard full of crap.
This whole process is indefensible and unconstitutional. Yes, the lack of standards were laid down by Bush and Cheney and Democrats are perfectly willing describe what thugs they were – selling the Patriot Act as defense against terrorism and then letting it be used for everything from schoolyard gangs to tax challenges. Obama and his flunkies revamped all that to add “legalness” and now it’s supposed to be OK.
Here we are facing the same process used to legitimize illicit law practices in the name of the War on Terror – courtesy of the FISA Court and the NSA, this time.. Inexcusable, unforgivable and should be overturned by any elected federal officials with principles and a backbone.
Uh, that’s California below — not North Waziristan
The US uses drones for surveillance in some limited law-enforcement situations, the head of FBI has said, prompting additional debate about the Obama administration’s use of domestic surveillance.
Robert Mueller’s acknowledgement came in response to questions on Wednesday from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who said they wanted to know more about the federal government’s increasing use of unmanned aircraft.
“Does the FBI use drones for surveillance on US soil?” Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa asked during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
“Yes,” Mueller said, adding that the use was in “a very, very minimal way and very seldom”.
Mueller did not go into detail, but the FBI later released a statement that said unmanned aircraft were used only to watch stationary subjects and to avoid serious risks to law-enforcement agents…
The Federal Aviation Administration approves each use, the statement said.
Golly, what a surprise. Did they ever consider refusing?
At the hearing, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said she was concerned about the privacy implications of drone surveillance.
“The greatest threat to the privacy of Americans is the drone and the use of the drone, and the very few regulations that are on it today,” she said…
This is the same hack who said, “I think it’s an act of treason” – speaking of Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing on NSA snooping.
The Justice Department had disclosed that two domestic law-enforcement agencies use unmanned aircraft systems, according to a department statement sent to the Judiciary Committee and released on Wednesday by Grassley’s office.
The two are the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives…
Mueller, who is due to retire when his term expires in September, agreed that there should be public discourse over the future of the unmanned vehicles, saying “it’s worthy of debate and perhaps legislation down the road”.
Requiring warrants fits into the same category as FAA approval. Rubber stamps don’t ask questions or consider constitutionality.
The fact remains that the same sort of Big Brother methods denied as an unthinkable violation of sacred trust have been happening all along. Flying spy missions over these United States ain’t the same as reinforcing the Border Patrol or US Customs. Though that will be a significant portion of the rationale. No doubt.
Medical marijuana advocates are hoping state governments can succeed where their efforts have failed by asking federal authorities to reclassify pot as a drug with medical use.
Shortly before Christmas, Colorado became the fourth state to ask the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana as a narcotic in the same league as heavyweight painkillers including oxycodone. The governors of Washington and Rhode Island filed a formal petition with the agency in November, and Vermont signed onto that request shortly afterward.
All four are among the sixteen states and the District of Columbia that have laws on the books that allow the medical use of marijuana, even though the drug remains illegal under federal law. Meanwhile, federal authorities have asserted their power by raiding dispensaries in states including California and Washington.
Supporters say the public is on their side, and the state requests show the feds are increasingly isolated on the issue. But they acknowledge it’s still an uphill battle…
Insert appropriate smartass remark about “Change” here.
In their November petition, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire and Rhode Island’s Lincoln Chafee argued that “the vast majority of modern research” has found marijuana useful for treating patients with glaucoma, for relieving the nausea suffered by cancer patients in chemotherapy and for relieving symptoms of degenerative nerve diseases…
Critics call medical marijuana a “Trojan horse” for legalizing the drug entirely, and federal authorities mounted a string of high-profile raids in California, Washington and Montana in 2011…
Which further convinces social conservatives that their backwardness has at least an opportunist ally in the White House.
Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project said the states’ requests to reclassify the drug “could and certainly should” give the states some breathing room, “but I really don’t think it will…I think that it’s not going to provide any real tangible benefits immediately,” he said. But it if succeeds, “It will definitely bring the federal government more in line with currently accepted science.”
In the meantime, “There’s no reason for the federal government to be wasting resources going after medical marijuana providers,” he said.
A shortage of Adderall, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, shows little sign of easing as manufacturers struggle to get enough active ingredient to make the drug and demand climbs.
Adderall, a stimulant, is a controlled substance, meaning it is addictive and has the potential to be abused. The Drug Enforcement Administration tightly regulates how much of the drug’s active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) can be distributed to manufacturers each year…
Increasingly that estimate is coming into conflict with what companies themselves say they need to meet demand for the drug, which is reaching all-time highs. In 2010, more than 18 million prescriptions were written for Adderall, up 13.4 percent from 2009, according to IMS Health, which tracks prescription data…
‘All-time highs” – A deliberate choice of words?
ADHD is one of the most common childhood disorders. An average of 9 percent of children between the ages of five and 17 are diagnosed with ADHD per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused, hyperactivity and difficulty controlling behavior. If they are not properly medicated, children with ADHD may act out and be held back in class; adolescents might engage in impulsive, risky behavior; adults are at greater risk of being fired from their jobs…
And living in a nation that chooses symptomatic treatment over any other, we are all required to nod our bobbleheads and worry about a shortage of drugs for the next generation of junkies.
Federal agents toppled two separate drug rings today run by baggage handlers who allegedly imported marijuana and cocaine from Jamaica and Houston while working at Detroit Metro Airport.
Twelve people — including 10 baggage handlers — were arrested early today in an investigation dubbed “Operation Excess Baggage” and accused of exploiting weaknesses at several airports to run drug-smuggling pipelines since at least 2009.
Complaints filed in federal court in Detroit — where nine defendants were ordered held behind bars until at least Friday — describe intricate drug-smuggling rings that used crude tactics, an exotic locale and employee access to bypass security and transport hundreds of pounds of illegal drugs to Detroit’s streets…
The Jamaica case dates to January 2010 when a federal agent in Jamaica contacted another agent locally about the seizure of about 53 pounds of marijuana discovered inside a suitcase that was about to be placed on Northwest Airlines flight No. 2321 bound for Detroit.
The suitcase had a seemingly legitimate baggage tag bearing the name of an unidentified person who was an unwitting participant in the smuggling attempt, according to court records.
Federal agents let the plane depart for Detroit.
While in the air, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and the Homeland Security Department decided to intercept all baggage once the plane landed in Detroit before baggage handlers could touch them.
Investigators focused on five suitcases. Inside, agents found approximately 35 pounds of cocaine and almost 284 pounds of marijuana, according to court records…
The Jamaica case relied on several handlers in Detroit who were born in Jamaica.
The Houston pipeline used similar methods and operated separately, but simultaneously, according to prosecutors…[It] relied on two baggage handlers who transferred from Detroit to Texas so they could arrange the drug shipments, according to court records.
Not the toughest bit of analytics in the world. What was required was the staff and motivation. The opportunity to catch crooks like this ain’t going away anytime soon.
How did the mugger botch the robbery of a Staten Island pizza man? He grabbed the wrong bag of dough, of course…
Salvatore LaRosa and an unidentified accomplice allegedly followed the owners of Brother’s Pizzeria home on June 30, 2008. They put on masks and confronted the victims at gunpoint in their driveway, according to a complaint unsealed Monday in Brooklyn Federal Court.
The assailants demanded one of the shopkeepers hand over a bag – thinking it contained the day’s proceeds, officials said. “The bag that was stolen contained pizza dough,” Drug Enforcement Administration agent Kristie Osswald stated in the complaint.
Even though it wasn’t cash, the robbery victim resisted and was shot twice in the legs.
This creep managed a get-out-of-jail card by fronting a $1 million bail order from the Federal Court. Poisonally, I think they should lock him up and throw away the key. He shot the poor bugger he robbed.
Aside from being stupid, he’s still a danger to society.
Gather up your expired meds. Saturday’s the day.
Less than a month into the Drug Enforcement Administration’s prescription drug “Take-Back” campaign, over 3,400 sites nationwide have joined the effort that seeks to prevent increased pill abuse and theft. Government, community, public health and law enforcement partners will be collecting potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for destruction at these sites all across the nation o n Saturday, September 25 th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked…
This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Many Americans are not aware that medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are increasing at alarming rates, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, many Americans do not know how to properly dispose of their unused medicine, often flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away – both potential safety and health hazards.
“The National Prescription Drug Take-Back campaign will provide a safe way for Americans to dispose of their unwanted prescription drugs,” said Michele M. Leonhart, Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
It’s always pleasant to find a new avenue for disposal of all things which tend to accumulate and gain a life of their own.
You can find a location in your neck of the woods here: Collection Sites Search
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
Evidence has emerged that the Texan who bankrolled English cricket may have been a US government informer.
Sir Allen Stanford, who is accused of bank fraud, is the subject of an investigation by the BBC’s Panorama.
Sources told Panorama that if he was a paid anti-drug agency informer, that could explain why a 2006 probe into his financial dealings was quietly dropped.
Sir Allen vigorously denies allegations of financial wrongdoing, despite a massive shortfall in his bank’s assets. Of the $7.2bn in deposits claimed by the bank, only $500m has been traced.
Secret documents seen by Panorama show both governments knew in 1990 that the Texan was a former bankrupt and his first bank was suspected of involvement with Latin American money-launderers.
In 1999, both the British and the Americans were aware of the facts surrounding a cheque for $3.1m that Sir Allen paid to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It was drug money originally paid in to Stanford International Bank by agents acting for a feared Mexican drug lord known as the ‘Lord of the Heavens’.
On 17 February of this year, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused Sir Allen of running a multi-billion dollar Ponzi fraud…civil charges he has denied.
He was initially investigated by the SEC for running a possible Ponzi fraud in the summer of 2006, but by the winter of that year the inquiry was stopped.
Panorama understands that the decision was taken because of a request by another government agency.
In recent years – actually going all the way back to Ollie North and CIA drugs involvement – the U.S. government has dabbled in chasing vs. partnering with drug lords as the wind blew one way or another in the absolutely useless War on Drugs.
I trust all of these clowns about as far as I can throw them uphill into a heavy wind. Unprincipled thugs no different from their officially-criminal buddies.
A major drug cartel has infiltrated the Mexican attorney general’s office, and one cartel worker says he even spied on DEA operations from inside the U.S. Embassy, said Mexican prosecutors.
Five officials of the Attorney General’s Organized Crime unit were arrested on allegations they served as informants for the Beltran Leyva cartel, Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said, adding there are indications that other spies still work inside his agency.
The embassy employee, who also worked for Interpol at the Mexico City airport, is a protected witness after telling Mexican officials in Washington that he leaked details of DEA operations. U.S. Embassy officials had no immediate comment, saying they generally avoid discussing internal operating or security issues.
President Calderon himself has long acknowledged corruption is widespread in police forces. Monday’s case represents the most serious known infiltration of anti-crime agencies since the 1997 arrest of Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, then head of Mexico’s anti-drug agency. Gutierrez Rebollo later was convicted of aiding drug lord Amado Carrillo Fuentes…
Assistant Attorney General Marisela Morales said two top employees of her organized-crime unit and at least three federal police agents assigned to it may have been passing information on surveillance targets and potential raids for at least four years.
The agents and officials each received payments of between $150,000 and $450,000 per month for the information, Morales said.
Does it ever end? Will there ever be a long enough concerted effort by the Mexican government that roots out root and stem of corruption?