NYPD Cop Arrested on Federal Drug Charges

2/4/13 The trial of Lamont Pride and Michael Velez continued today for the murder of police officer Peter Figoski. Here, NYPD logos from cop uniforms who attended the trial today. (pictured) 320 Jay Street, Brooklyn Supreme Court, Brooklyn, NY. Please credit Gregory P. Mango.

Originally published on July 15, 2015, at NationofChange.org

An NYPD officer was arrested on Monday for allegedly supplying oxycodone to a drug dealer in Vermont for three years. The officer’s accomplice hid the pills inside bags of Skittles that he mailed to the drug dealer’s infant niece to avoid detection. Unbeknownst to the officer and his accomplice, the drug dealer had secretly been cooperating with the DEA.

According to the multi-count indictment, NYPD Officer Andre Clarke began illegally supplying his accomplice, Michael Foreste, with oxycodone pills in 2011. Instead of operating directly with the drug dealer in Vermont, Officer Clarke reportedly supplied the opiate painkillers to Foreste, who personally brought the pills to Dannis Hackney of Burlington, Vermont. Foreste also sent the pills through the U.S. Mail by hiding them inside bags of Skittles addressed to Hackney’s infant niece.

On supervised release for a December 2008 federal drug conviction, Dannis Hackney began secretly working for the DEA while Foreste continued personally delivering and mailing oxycodone pills concealed inside resealed Skittles bags to Hackney’s two-month-old niece. During a traffic stop in Vermont two years ago, officers found 650 oxycodone pills hidden inside Foreste’s boxer shorts. Convicted of possession with intent to distribute, Foreste was sentenced in December 2013 to one year and one day in federal prison but remained free pending his appeal.

On May 16, 2014, Hackney was arrested with 300 oxycodone pills in his possession. Hackney agreed to cooperate with law enforcement officials but neglected to inform them about the drug packages to his niece. On June 10, 2014, DEA agents obtained a search warrant to seize a package addressed to Hackney’s infant niece. Inside the package, the DEA agents discovered a stuffed animal, infant’s clothing, a baby’s bib, a small purse, and two bags of Skittles candies. One of the Skittles bags contained 305 oxycodone pills.

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DEA Agents Reprimanded for Forcing Student to Drink His Own Urine to Survive

Originally published on May 7, 2015, at NationofChange.org

According to the Department of Justice, six DEA agents were either reprimanded or received short suspensions for leaving a UC San Diego engineering student jailed for five days without food or water. Although the student almost died of dehydration, near-kidney failure, and a perforated lung from a suicide attempt, no DEA agents were fired or indicted on criminal charges.

Engineering student Daniel Chong was smoking marijuana at a friend’s apartment in San Diego early on the morning of April 21, 2012, when DEA agents raided the residence. Chong and the other detainees were transported to a DEA field office in Kearny Mesa and interrogated. After the agents determined that Chong had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time, they decided to release Chong without charges and even offered to give him a ride home.

Instead of releasing Chong, the DEA agents claimed that they simply forgot about him. Left handcuffed in a windowless five-by-ten-foot holding cell, Chong endured the next five days without any food, water, or human contact. Dying of dehydration, Chong was forced to drink his own urine in order to survive.

“I had to do what I had to do to survive…I hallucinated by the third day,” Chong recalled. “I was completely insane.”

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Federal Agents Arrested for Bitcoin Money Laundering and Fraud

Originally published on April 1, 2015, at NationofChange.org

Two former federal agents have been charged with money laundering, wire fraud, and related offenses during their investigation of the online black market, Silk Road. Former DEA special agent Carl Force allegedly abused his authority by stealing from the government and selling sensitive information to the target of their investigation, while former Secret Service special agent Shaun Bridges reportedly diverted over $800,000 Silk Road bitcoins into his personal account instead of confiscating the funds as government property. By taking advantage of encrypted communications, multiple aliases, and hacked administrator accounts, these federal agents operated in the shadows and above the law.

According to court documents, Ross Ulbricht created Silk Road in January 2011 and operated the underground website until law enforcement agencies shut it down in October 2013. By concealing the IP addresses of the computers, the Silk Road became an open market facilitating both legal and illegal commerce. Although the majority of items sold on the website were illicit narcotics, Silk Road also offered computer hacking services, fake IDs, and other forged documents. After Sen. Chuck Schumer learned about the site, he asked law enforcement authorities to shut down Silk Road.

Between 2012 and 2013, agents Force and Bridges served on the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force. As the lead undercover agent, Force established communication with Ulbricht, while Bridges worked as the computer forensics expert on the team. Force initially fed Ulbricht fraudulent information, but the DEA agent also created multiple pseudonyms and began encrypting his surreptitious communications with Ulbricht.

Under the moniker “Nob,” Force posed as a criminal offering to kill Silk Road employee Curtis Green before he could become a potential witness against Ulbricht. Designed to ensnare Ulbricht into a murder-for-hire plot, the sting merely allowed Force to initiate contact with Ulbricht who went by the pseudonym “DPR” or “Dread Pirate Roberts.” After a few months of communication with Ulbricht, Force began encrypting his conversations and utilizing multiple online personas without informing his superiors.

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Mexican Police Helped Drug Cartel Massacre 314 Migrants

Originally published on December 25, 2014, at NationofChange.org

After years of silence, the office of Mexico’s Attorney General declassified a document admitting police officers had participated in the kidnapping and massacre of hundreds of migrants throughout northern Mexico. While working for Los Zetas drug cartel, police provided illicit protection, assisted in kidnappings, and turned a blind eye to the investigation of numerous mass graves. Caught in a turf war between the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, at least 314 migrants have died at the hands of the police and cartels.

According to a recently declassified memo sent from the office of Mexico’s Attorney General to The National Security Archive, local police in the city of San Fernando in northern Mexico have been working for the Zetas for years. A DEA cable from 2009 noted many Zetas had been recruited from an elite Mexican Army unit known as the Grupo Aeromóvil de Fuerzas Especiales (GAFE). No longer operating as the enforcement arm of the Gulf Cartel, the Zetas expanded into new territory and asserted control through murder, intimidation, and corruption.

In August 2010, San Fernando police officers set up roadblocks and pulled at least 72 mainly Central American migrants off intercity buses. Instead of detaining the migrants, police officials handed them over to the Zetas who extorted fees for safe passage across the border and forced them work as drug mules. The Zetas executed everyone who could not afford to pay or refused to smuggle drugs across the border. The bodies of 58 men and 14 women from Central and South America were later discovered at a remote ranch in San Fernando.

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Secret Service Director Resigns After Caught Lying to Congress

Originally published on October 2, 2014, at NationofChange.org

After providing slippery testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Secret Service Director Julia Pierson has resigned amidst multiple scandals and incompetency surrounding her agency. Failing to adequately provide protection for the president and the First Family, Pierson openly lied to congressional members regarding her failure to disclose all security breaches to President Obama.

On September 19, Iraq war veteran Omar Gonzalez leapt over the fence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and broke into the White House. Equipped with a three-inch serrated knife, Gonzalez was finally arrested by two off-duty agents after breaching five levels of security. According to an anonymous Secret Service official, the security alarm near the front entrance had been disabled because White House staff had found it annoying.

During a visit to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention three days earlier, President Obama entered an elevator accompanied by an armed private contractor with three convictions for assault and battery. Refusing orders to stop recording the president with his cell phone camera, the contractor was interrogated by Secret Service agents after Obama exited the elevator. The contractor was fired on the spot when agents ran his name through a database and discovered his criminal background. Secret Service agents were completely unaware the contractor had been armed until he turned over his gun.

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Colombian Pleads Guilty to Kidnapping and Murder of DEA Agent

Originally published on September 6, 2014, at NationofChange.org

An extradited Colombian national pleaded guilty this week to aiding and abetting the murder of an internationally protected person and conspiracy to kidnap an internationally protected person. On June 20, 2013, DEA Special Agent James Terry Watson stepped into a cab in Bogota, Colombia. In an attempted robbery gone wrong, Watson was stabbed four times and bled to death. Six other men have been extradited and charged with their involvement in the kidnapping and murder of Watson.

After watching the NBA Finals at a restaurant with friends, Watson left by himself and entered a cab. Video footage revealed a second car pulling up behind Watson’s cab at an intersection as two men exited the second vehicle. They immediately entered the back of Watson’s taxi. A few moments later, Watson escaped from the cab and fled down the street before collapsing.

Julio Estiven Gracia Ramirez admitted to using fake taxis to lure wealthy people into their cars, kidnap them, and force them to withdraw money from an ATM. He confessed to targeting Watson with the intent to rob him, but insisted he never knew Watson was a federal agent.

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