Former FBI director James Comey praised the FBI for “speaking up,” in an apparent reference to a rare public statement issued by the department on concerns over a controversial memo Republicans are clamoring to release.
That memo alleges political bias against President Donald Trump and improper spying by the FBI and Justice Department.
Comey has been increasingly vocal with his support for his former FBI colleagues since Trump fired him in may 2017.
Former FBI director James Comey praised the FBI for “speaking up,” in an apparent reference to a statement issued by the department earlier this week expressing its concern over the release of a GOP-supported House Intelligence Committee memo.
“All should appreciate the FBI speaking up. I wish more of our leaders would,” Comey tweeted on Thursday. “But take heart: American history shows that, in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field, so long as good people stand up.
“Not a lot of schools or streets named for Joe McCarthy,” Comey said, referencing the Cold War-era senator from Wisconsin who promoted draconian methods for combating the threat of communism, such as accusing hundreds of State Department officials of having communist ties, sometimes without substantial evidence.
Comey’s statement follows the FBI’s opposition to the public release of the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee memo, which reportedly contains details of purported anti-Trump bias at the FBI and the Justice Department. FBI director Christopher Wray reportedly told the White House that the memo contained “material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
It’s not the first time Comey has spoken up in support of his former agency. After deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe’s abrupt resignation this week, Comey commended his service and asked for “continued strength for the rest of the FBI.”
Emily Prentiss’ (Paget Brewster) job is on the line after the recent events in “Criminal Minds” season 13.
In the episode titled “Miasma,” Assistant Director Linda Barnes conducted an internal review on the members of the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) team to analyze what went wrong prior to Spencer Reid’s (Matthew Gray Gubler) arrest in Mexico. Since Prentiss was in charge of the team during that time, Barnes appeared to be very determined to take her out of the job.
This is not the first time that Barnes put someone’s job at risk. Matt Simmons (Daniel Henney), who originally came from the International Response Team of the FBI, warned the team that Barnes did the same to his former team in the past when she sacked their boss and pitted the rest of the team with each other as part of internal politics. This could mean that she wants to do the same with the BAU this time in order to increase her credentials as she aspires to be promoted to the directorial position.
Since Barnes successfully had Prentiss suspended at the end of the episode, it could mean that there is a big chance to see Brewster leave the show again for the second time.
Fans can recall that Brewster first left the show at the end of season 7 after she joined the team in season 2. While the actress managed to return to the show for several guest appearances after her exit, she permanently rejoined the cast in season 12 as series regular to replace Thomas Gibson’s character Aaron Hotchner as the new BAU chief.
However, fans of “Criminal Minds” will have to wait for a while before they find out if Prentiss will resume her job as the head of the BAU since the series will be taking a short hiatus for the entire month of February.
“Criminal Minds” season 13 will resume with the episode titled “Annihilator” that will air on Wednesday, March 7, at 10 p.m. EDT.
Pittsburgh defense attorney arrested on drug-related charges Pittsburgh Post-Gazette A well-known Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney was arrested Thursday in the Allegheny County Courthouse on drug and other charges related to an overdose. Kevin Abramovitz, 37, was arraigned later in the day in City Court, after having been removed …
Oil theft has become increasingly common in Mexico.
As organized-crime groups have pursued oil theft, oil workers have become targets for bribes, intimidation, and violence.
There is little sign local, state, or the federal government in Mexico are able to mount an effective response.
Mexico’s oil industry has gotten increasing attention from criminal organizations, including powerful groups like the Zetas and Jalisco New Generation cartels.
The number of illegal taps found on state oil firm Pemex’s 14,000-kilometer pipeline network has surged, rising from 132 in 2001 to 3,348 in 2014. In 2017, Pemex reported 9,509 such taps — an all-time high.
Oil thieves have siphoned away billions of dollars from Mexican state coffers. But their enthusiasm for Mexico’s energy industry is also taking a deadly toll on the workers who keep it running.
“They said they knew who I was and where I lived,” Alberto Arredondo, a pump technician at an oil refinery in the central Mexican city of Salamanca, told Reuters of the first call he received from the La Familia Michoacana cartel in February 2015. “They wanted information.”
He hung up, but they called back, demanding to know when fuel would be pumped and though which pipelines. He would be hounded, kidnapped, pistol-whipped, and stabbed so severely that surgeons removed his gall bladder before he finally left the country in December 2016, heading to Canada, where he is seeking asylum.
Criminal groups “go in and they get some of these Pemex employees, and they intimidate them [into] giving them information as to the routes that some of the petroleum is going to be taking, the timelines, how many people are working at these refineries, the amount of crew members … they get all the details,” Mike Vigil, former chief of international operations for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, told Business Insider.
Fuel theft is not new, nor is it limited to organized criminal groups. Rural residents have often pilfered fuel, using it for their own needs or reselling it locally. Many locals are happy to buy cheap, illegally obtained fuel, as national energy reform has gradually increased prices at the pump. (Higher prices have also drawn in more criminals.) In some places thieves are praised for boosting economies in impoverished areas.
In Salamanca — site of Mexico’s second-oldest refinery — the number of homicide cases opened by authorities has risen each year since 2013, President Enrique Peña Nieto’s first full year in office.
In Guanajuato state, where Salamanca is located, authorities opened 1,096 homicide cases in 2017 — a 14% increase over 2016 and 71% more than in 2013.
The state’s homicide rate has increased each year since Peña Nieto took office, rising from 11.21 in 2013 to 18.55 last year.
There were also 1,696 illegal fuel taps in Guanajuato last year — the most in the country, according to Pemex.
Reuters found press records of at least seven alleged murders of Pemex employees around Salamanca since 2012. The state attorney general’s office said it had records of three suspected murders of Pemex employees in recent years.
In 2016, as Arredondo, the pump technician, faced continued attacks and threats from oil thieves, two colleagues at the refinery were killed. Family members of the victims told him they had contacted police about threats from those thieves.
In October that year, Arredondo was stabbed outside a bar. After recovering for two months, he returned home and again found gang members there. “I realized that this was never going to end,” he told Reuters. That night, he left for Canada.
Gangs and fuel thieves “kidnap some of these employees and then they intimidate them, and they tell them their either going to kill them or they’re going to kill their families,” Vigil said. The employees “go along with it because they’re fearful for their lives and the lives of their families.”
One day after Reuters published its report in January detailing Mexican criminal influence in the oil industry, Capt. Tadeo Lineol Alfonzo Rojas, the head of security at the refinery in Salamanca, was shot and killed while driving in the area. One of his sons was wounded in the attack.
Pemex, the state oil firm, condemned the attack, but authorities have made little headway against the gangs. Police there frequently seize vehicles — delivery trucks, ambulances, even school buses — rigged to carry stolen fuel.
‘Some people use drugs, but everybody uses petroleum’
For major cartels, Pemex’s oil dealings — which generated revenue of about $52 billion in 2016 and provided about 20% of government income — are an appealing target.
The illegal oil trade doesn’t have the same risks as moving illegal drugs through Mexico and over international borders, Vigil said. “Keep in mind that only some people use drugs, but everybody uses petroleum, and so it’s become a very lucrative business.”
The illegal fuel trade could not function without official complicity. Between 2006 and 2015, 123 Pemex workers and 12 former employees were arrested for suspected participation in fuel theft, according to documents obtained by El Universal in early 2017.
“A lot of Pemex employees are in collusion with these cartels,” Vigil said, “and they become affluent as a result of that.”
Illicit proceeds also enable payoffs — graft among police in Salamanca became so rampant that the state fired the entire local force and replaced it with state officers.
State and local governments are often unequipped or unwilling to address fuel theft and organized crime. The federal government has stepped in, often relying on the military, which is not equipped for law-enforcement duties.
In spring 2017, it deployed about 500 troops to an area in Puebla state called the “Red Triangle,” through which a major pipeline passes and where oil theft is common. In May, videos emerged appearing to show military personnel executing suspected thieves.
The recent announcement that more troops would be deployed around the country in response to record violence in 2017 indicates the government has not backed off this militarized approach, and national elections this summer are likely to draw lawmakers’ attention away from security policy in the near-term.
“The revenue that’s being generated by the petroleum [theft] is making a lot of these cartels much more powerful” and is likely to bolster many smaller groups, Vigil said. “Petroleum theft is becoming more and more prevalent as time progresses.”