“Number of federal wiretaps rose 71 percent in 2012″

July 1, 2013

The Washington Post on June 28, 2013 released the following:

By Peter Finn

“The number of wiretaps secured in federal criminal investigations jumped 71 percent in 2012 over the previous year, according to newly released figures.

Federal courts authorized 1,354 interception orders for wire, oral and electronic communications, up from 792 the previous year, according to the figures, released Friday by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. There was a 5 percent increase in state and local use of wiretaps in the same period.

The office collects the figures from federal and local jurisdictions at the request of Congress, but does not interpret the statistics. There is no explanation of why the federal figures increased so much, and it is generally out of line with the number of wiretaps between 1997 and 2009, which averaged 550 annually. A large number of wiretaps was also reported in 2010, when 1,207 were secured.

“This is just one more piece of evidence demonstrating the need for a full, informed public debate about the scope, breadth, and pervasiveness of government surveillance in this country,” Mark Rumold, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said in an e-mail. “We have a secret surveillance program churning in the background, sweeping in everyone’s communications, and, at the same time, in the shadows (and frequently under seal), law enforcement is constantly expanding its use and reliance on surveillance in traditional criminal investigations.”

The Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment.

A single wiretap can sweep up thousands of communications. One 30-day local wiretap in California, for instance, generated 185,268 cellular telephone interceptions, of which 12 percent were incriminating, according to the report.

The vast majority of the wiretaps in both federal and state cases were obtained as part of drug investigations, and they overwhelmingly were directed at cellphones, according to the report. Only 14 court orders were for personal residences.

Most jurisdictions limit the period of surveillance to 30 days, but extensions can be obtained. In one case, a narcotics investigation in Queens, the wiretap continued for 580 days. The longest federal wiretap was also a drug case and lasted 180 days in the Western District of Washington state, which includes Seattle.

There were 25 authorized federal wiretaps in the District in 2012, 18 in Virginia and 12 in Maryland. Local authorities in Maryland reported 50 wiretap orders issued by state judges, including 34 in Harford County. Virginia’s attorney general reported nine orders.

The amount of encryption being encountered by law enforcement authorities is also increasing, and for the first time, “jurisdictions have reported that encryption prevented officials from obtaining the plain text of the communications,” the report noted.

Officials said 3,743 people were arrested as a result of the interceptions in 2012, and so far 455 have been convicted.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Justice Dept., FBI to review use of forensic evidence in thousands of cases

July 11, 2012

The Washington Post on July 10, 2012 released the following:

“By Spencer S. Hsu

The Justice Department and the FBI have launched a review of thousands of criminal cases to determine whether any defendants were wrongly convicted or deserve a new trial because of flawed forensic evidence, officials said Tuesday.

The undertaking is the largest post-conviction review ever done by the FBI. It will include cases conducted by all FBI Laboratory hair and fiber examiners since at least 1985 and may reach earlier if records are available, people familiar with the process said. Such FBI examinations have taken place in federal and local cases across the country, often in violent crimes, such as rape, murder and robbery.

The review comes after The Washington Post reported in April that Justice Department officials had known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people but had not performed a thorough review of the cases. In addition, prosecutors did not notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled.

On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced that it will conduct the more expansive review.

“The Department and the FBI are in the process of identifying historical cases for review where a microscopic hair examination conducted by the FBI was among the evidence in a case that resulted in a conviction,” spokeswoman Nanda Chitre said in a statement. “We have dedicated considerable time and resources to addressing these issues, with the goal of reaching final determinations in the coming months.”

FBI spokeswoman Ann Todd deferred comment to the Justice Department.

In its April report, The Post identified two District men convicted largely on the testimony of FBI hair analysts who wrongly placed them at crime scenes. Santae A. Tribble, now 51, was convicted of killing a taxi driver in 1978, and Kirk L. Odom, now 49, was convicted of a sexual assault in 1981. Since the Post report, Tribble’s conviction was vacated, and on Tuesday, prosecutors moved to overturn Odom’s conviction and declare him innocent. The Justice Department had not previously reviewed their cases.

Chitre said the new review would include help from the Innocence Project, a New York-based advocacy group for people seeking exoneration through DNA testing. It also would include the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Steven D. Benjamin, a Richmond lawyer who is incoming president of the association, called the review “an important collaboration” and a departure from one-sided government reviews that left defendants in the dark.

“Mistakes were made. What is important now is our working together to correct those mistakes,” Benjamin said, adding that his organization will “fully assist in finding and notifying all those who may have been affected.”

The review comes as the National Academy of Sciences is urging the White House and Congress to remove crime labs from police and prosecutors’ control, or at least to strengthen the science and standards underpinning the nation’s forensic science system.

The last time the FBI abandoned a forensic practice was in 2005, when it ended efforts to trace bullets to a specific manufacturer’s batch through analyzing their chemical composition after its methodology was scientifically debunked. The bureau released files in an estimated 2,500 bullet-lead cases only after “60 Minutes” and The Post reported the problem in 2007.

Michael R. Bromwich, a former Justice Department official who investigated the FBI Laboratory in the mid-1990s as inspector general and, more recently, the city of Houston’s crime lab, said the review is important as the nation’s crime labs come under scrutiny.

“These recent developments remind us of the profound questions about the validity of many forensic techniques that have been used over the course of many decades and underscore the need for continuing attention at every level to ensuring the scientific validity and accuracy of the forensic science that is used every day in our criminal justice system,” Bromwich said.

The Post reported in April that hair and fiber analysis was subjective and lacked grounding in solid research and that the FBI lab lacked protocols to ensure that agent testimony was scientifically accurate. But bureau managers kept their reviews limited to one agent, even as they learned that many examiners’ “matches” were often wrong and that numerous examiners overstated the significance of matches, using bogus statistics or exaggerated claims.

Details of how the new FBI review will be conducted remain unclear. The exact number of cases that will be reviewed is unknown. The FBI is starting with more than 10,000 cases referred to all hair and fiber examiners. From those, the focus will be on a smaller number of hair examinations that resulted in positive findings and a conviction.

It also is unclear whether the review will focus only on exaggerated testimony by FBI examiners or also on scientifically unfounded statements made by others trained by the FBI, or made by prosecutors. Also unclear is at what point government officials will notify defense attorneys or the Innocence Project.

In past reviews, the department kept results secret and gave findings only to prosecutors, who then determined whether to turn them over to the defense.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Appeal

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Daniel Barrera-Barrera, Javier Fernandez-Barrero, and Orlando Fernandez-Barrero Indicted in a Superseding Indictment on Federal Drugs Charges

September 14, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 12, 2011 released the following:

“Three High-Level Colombian Narcotics Traffickers Indicted

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division; John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; and Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), announced the unsealing of a superseding indictment against Daniel Barrera-Barrera, 42, a/k/a “Loco Barrera,” Javier Fernandez-Barrero, 43, and Orlando Fernandez-Barrero, 45, both collectively known as “Los Gorditos.” Two of the three were arrested; Barrera-Barrera remains at large. Colombian officials recently announced a $2.7 million reward for the capture of Daniel Barrera-Barrera, whom Colombian authorities describe as one the “most wanted” individuals n Colombia.

The superseding indictment alleges that the three defendants conspired to manufacture and distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine knowing that the cocaine would be unlawfully imported into the United States. The superseding indictment also charges that Daniel Barrera-Barrera conspired to import cocaine into the United States. If convicted, the defendants each face a possible maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

On February 11, 2011, U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer announced the creation of the BACRIM prosecution unit within the Narcotics Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, specifically dedicated to dismantling emerging Bandas Criminales in Colombia. This is the first such unit in the United States specifically designed to target the emerging BACRIMs. The prosecution announced today is part of the BACRIM initiative. Including the defendants announced today, more than 100 BACRIM leaders and associates have been indicted by the Southern District of Florida. In addition, just last week, at a joint press conference in Colombia with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Attorney General Viviane Morales, Ferrer announced two additional BACRIM prosecutions: Operation Under the Sea and Operation Seven Trumpets, resulting in charges against 56 defendants in six separate federal cases.

“This indictment marks another success in our efforts to dismantle the emerging BACRIMs. It is the culmination of a significant long-term law enforcement investigation,” said United States Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer. “We will work tirelessly and commit our efforts to dismantling these narcotics trafficking organizations.”

“The arrests announced today exemplify coordinated, multi-national law enforcement efforts reaching into the highest levels of a drug trafficking organization’s leadership,” said Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge for DEA Miami Field Division. “The DEA will continue these joint efforts and maintain our sights on those who most damage our communities, whether from within or outside the geographic boundaries of the United States.”

“Drug kingpin Daniel Barrera-Barrera remains one of Colombia’s most wanted criminals,” said John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Miami. “His indictment, along with Javier and Orlando Fernandez-Barrero, has significantly disrupted their criminal enterprise which is responsible for distributing tons of cocaine into the U.S. and other countries.”

“Transnational Criminal Organizations are a direct threat to the national security of the United States,” said Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of ICE HSI in Miami. “The combined efforts of ICE Homeland Security Investigations and our law enforcement partners are designed to disrupt and dismantle these illicit organizations.”

On March 2, 2010, the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) designated Barrera-Barrera as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker (SDNT) due to his significant role in international narcotics trafficking. According to OFAC, Barrera-Barrera operates primarily in the eastern plains of Colombia, between Bogota and the Venezuelan border, and maintains a partnership with the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia), a narco-terrorist organization identified by the President as a kingpin pursuant to the Kingpin Act in 2003.

The charges announced today are part of “Operation Splinter Cell,” an ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation led by DEA. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

Mr. Ferrer commends the outstanding investigative efforts of the DEA, FBI and ICE-HSI, as well as the Colombian Fiscalia General and the Colombian National Police. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Fels.

An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

Bookmark and Share


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,640 other followers