6500 Felons Go Free, DA’s Refuse to Prosecute

Primer:

The White House on Thursday proposed removing certain penalties associated with trafficking of fentanyl-related substances (FRS), prompting criticism that it would weaken illicit drug enforcement.

President Biden and former President Trump temporarily placed FRS under schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Thursday’s proposal would make that change permanent while removing certain quantity-based mandatory minimums.

In a letter to Senate leaders reviewed by Fox News, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) described the plan as the result of collaboration with the Justice Department (DOJ) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“We are pleased to present to Congress a long-term, consensus approach that advances efforts to reduce the supply and availability of illicitly manufactured FRS, while protecting civil rights, and reducing barriers to scientific research for all schedule I substances,” said ONDCP acting Director Regina LaBelle.

Fentanyl deaths in the US spiked 1,000 percent over 6 ...

CRUZ, ROY SLAM BIDEN ADMIN OVER ‘MAN-MADE’ BORDER CRISIS AS FENTANYL DEATHS SKYROCKET

LaBelle added that “the proposal would exclude those FRS that are scheduled by class from certain quantity-based mandatory minimum penalties normally associated with domestic trafficking, and import and export offenses of CSA schedule I compounds.”

“It would further ensure that a federal court can vacate or reduce the sentence of an individual convicted of an offense involving an individual FRS that is subsequently removed or rescheduled from schedule I.”

The letter came amid a spike in fentanyl deaths, which some Republicans have blamed on the administration’s border enforcement.

April of this year alone saw a 233% increase in fentanyl seizures at the southern border, according to data released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Fentanyl, a dangerous opioid, is significantly stronger than heroin and the related opioid carfentanyl is even stronger than fentanyl.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., slammed the Biden administration’s proposal for being soft on criminals who are pushing fentanyl and killing Americans.

“Fentanyl analogues kill thousands of Americans each year. To protect our communities from the dealers pushing this poison, President Biden needs to keep them off the streets, not let them off the hook,” said Cotton in a statement to Fox News.

BORDER CRISIS: 233% INCREASE IN FENTANYL SEIZURES AT SOUTHERN BORDER

A Senate aide also told Fox News the proposal wasn’t serious and would encourage illicit drug labs. “This is not a serious proposal. It’s nothing more than a compromise between mainstream Democrats and pro-crime Democrats, and would only encourage illicit Chinese drug labs to get creative again with new fentanyl variants,” the aide said.

The White House did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Thursday’s proposal raises questions about how the Biden administration will continue the previous president’s fight against an opioid epidemic that has ravaged communities across the U.S.

In May, Biden extended a rule from Trump’s DOJ by signing the Extending Temporary Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act, which lasts until Oct. 22.

LaBelle added that Congress should approve $41 billion in spending for national drug program agencies, as well as continue working on legislation designed to counter overdoses.

“Expanding the nation’s public health approach to substance use disorders and strengthening our public safety efforts to reduce the drug supply are essential parts of our strategy to bringing down the rates of overdose death,” said LaBelle.

“Acting to permanently schedule FRS, combined with historic investments in the addiction infrastructure, as well as efforts to tackle illicit finance and disrupt drug trafficking, will stand as the most comprehensive effort to address substance use and its consequences in our nation’s history. In all these efforts, we look forward to working with Congress to support safe and healthy communities. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

6,500 accused NYC felons go scot-free as DAs decline to prosecute

District attorneys across the Big Apple last year declined to prosecute accused felons at nearly twice the rate of 2019 — letting more than 6,500 suspects off the hook, The Post has learned.

Prosecutors dropped all charges in 16.9 percent of the 38,635 felony cases that were closed in New York City during 2020, according to data compiled by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.

The year before, that rate was just 8.7 percent and the average for 2016 to 2019 was an even lower 8 percent, the statistics show.

Even though far fewer cases were disposed of last year, the 6,522 defendants whose charges were dropped exceeded the 5,985 who weren’t prosecuted in 2019.

The total number of cases closed in 2020 plunged by a massive 44.1 percent last year amid court closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic — down from 69,119 the year before.

A law enforcement source said there were “a lot of layers to the problem,” including veteran prosecutors retiring or leaving for other jobs and “inexperienced [prosecutors] and cops making it harder to do trials,” as well as the political nature of DAs’ jobs.

“The DAs are worried about getting re-elected,” the source said.

“Plus, you throw in a bucket of ‘woke’ and no one is getting prosecuted.”

The source also pointed to controversial, recently enacted laws governing the disclosure of evidence to the defense, known as “discovery.”

“Now, if someone takes a plea, you still have to provide the discovery information even though the case is closed,” the source said.

“Before, you didn’t have to. If you DP [decline to prosecute] a case, there is no discovery.”

The borough with the highest number of felony cases that weren’t prosecuted last year was the Bronx, where DA Darcel Clark dumped 2,408, or 28.5 percent.

Another 2,365 cases, or 28 percent, were dismissed by judges, helping push the rate at which defendants were convicted and sentenced in the Bronx to a dismal 27.4 percent, down from 44.2 percent in 2019.

But that number was even lower in Brooklyn, where it dropped to just 21.1 percent last year from 41.5 percent in 2019.

DA Eric Gonzalez declined to prosecute 2,206 cases, or 17.8 percent, and judges dismissed more than twice as many: 5,335 or 42.9 percent.

In Manhattan, outgoing DA Cyrus Vance Jr. declined to prosecute 11.7 percent of the cases disposed of last year, up from 7.6 percent in 2019.

Only two boroughs saw district attorneys decline to prosecute cases last year at rates that didn’t reach double digits.

In Queens, under DA Melinda Katz, the number was 9.9 percent, up from 5 percent in 2019, and on Staten Island, under DA Michael McMahon, it was 8.2 percent, up from 4.8 percent.

Last year’s increase in the proportion of cases abandoned by prosecutors was also accompanied by steep decreases in the number of convictions and sentences of incarceration, the statistics show.

Just 7.4 percent of defendants 18 and older were convicted of felonies and 10.5 percent were convicted of misdemeanors, compared to 12.1 percent and 17.1 percent, respectively, in 2019.

And only 3.8 percent of cases that began as felonies resulted in judges sending criminals to prison for a year or more or to jail for shorter terms during 2020.

In 2019, prison sentences were handed down in 7 percent of cases and jail sentences in 7.2 percent of cases.

Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD detective sergeant and adjunct professor at the city’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, was outraged by the situation, saying, “There’s so many people that will lose their lives because of that.”

“Eventually, it’s all going to backfire,” he said.

“It’s going to take its course, like everything else. The pendulum will swing back the other way, and they’ll stop electing people who are pretending to be a district attorney in name only.”

A Bronx DA spokeswoman said, “We prosecute cases when there is legally sufficient evidence. We decline to prosecute or defer prosecution in cases where police may need to gather more evidence or secure the cooperation of witnesses so that the case can move forward.”

“It is our duty as prosecutors to ethically assess each arrest as it comes in and determine if it is legally sufficient to proceed,” spokeswoman Denisse Moreno added.

A Gonzalez spokesperson said his office “led the way” at the height of the pandemic last year “by announcing that we would decline to prosecute low-level and non-violent cases in response to the public health emergency.”

“We have since resumed our pre-pandemic practice, which includes robust diversion programs wherein we decline prosecution if individuals successfully complete their requirements,” the spokesperson said.

“The fact that homicides and shootings in Brooklyn have decreased by over 20 percent compared to last year and major crime is down 5 percent proves that our approach has been successful and kept the public safe.”

A McMahon spokeswoman declined to comment and none of the spokespersons for the other DAs’ offices immediately returned requests for comment.

A spokesman for the Office of Court Administration declined to comment on behalf of the city’s judiciary.

Cartel Del Golfo is Operating Stash Houses in Texas

Primer: January 2020 by the Justice Department/ CDG is a violent Mexican criminal organization engaged in the manufacture, distribution, and importation of ton quantities of cocaine and marijuana into the United States. In the late 1990s, the Gulf Cartel recruited an elite group of former Mexican military personnel to join their ranks as security and enforcers who became known as Los Zetas. The Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas operated under the name of “The Company.” Costilla-Sanchez became the leader of The Company for several years following the arrest of Osiel Cardenas in 2003 and before Costilla-Sanchez’s arrest in September 2012. More details here.

***

Mexican Authorities Rescue 47 Kidnap Victims from Cartel ...

So, with that already classified, and with stash houses operating inside the United States, why has it not been declared a domestic terror organization and where are the arrests by Federal agents?

Texas border stash house packed with 108 migrants in searing heat

Nearly 930,000 illegal migrant crossing were reported by CBP through the end of May

A large human smuggling stash house harboring 108 migrants in southeast Texas was uncovered by U.S. Border Patrol agents Monday afternoon.

The migrants were found crammed inside what appeared to be an old car garage, enduring extreme heat and harsh living conditions.

Border Patrol officials told Fox News that smugglers keep migrants in stash houses located near the southern border before dispersing them deeper into the U.S.

The insignia for “Cartel Del Golfo,” which means Gulf Cartel, was spray-painted on one of the interior garage walls – which law enforcement said was the cartel’s method for laying claim to the operation.

 

Border Patrol said the Gulf Cartel is known to be heavily involved in running human smuggling operations across Texas’ southeast border.

Law enforcement initially said 107 migrants were found at the house before upping the count by one.

Officials identified one migrant caretaker during their apprehension near Alton, Texas Monday, but did not confirm whether he was involved in the running of the smuggling operation.

Five unaccompanied children and two-family units with children as young as six years old were uncovered in the stash house, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed Tuesday.

The migrants arrived from Mexico, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Stash houses like the garage discovered Monday are not rare sights for Border Patrol agents.

One hour after the stash house in Alton was discovered, CBP reported that a residence near Rio Grande City was found to have been harboring 23 adult migrants.

Fox News could not immediately reach CBP to confirm the number of stash houses found in 2021 but earlier this month local news outlet KGNS reported that over 4,000 migrants had been arrested in more than 200 dismantled stash homes.

CBP has reported nearly 930,000 illegal immigrant encounters at the southern border since January.

More than 180,000 migrants were encountered in May alone.

 

Heartless, Biden Admin Closes Office that Helps Victims of Crimes

In full disclosure, I personally have met several of the victims in recent years in Washington DC.

Biden admin closes office that helps victims of crimes committed by immigrants, opens immigrant services center

On Friday, the Biden administration announced that it would be closing a government office set up to help victims of crimes committed by immigrants, to be replaced with an office aiding in immigration services, according to the Associated Press.

Created by the Trump administration during his first week in office, the Victim Of Immigration Crime Engagement Office, or VOICE, would be replaced with what the US Immigration and Customs enforcement called a “more comprehensive and inclusive victim support system.”
Replacing VOICE is the The Victims Engagement and Services Line, “which will combine longstanding existing services, such as methods for people to report abuse and mistreatment in immigration detention centers and a notification system for lawyers and others with a vested interest in immigration cases,” writes AP.
(the website of VOICE before it was closed)
“The new office will add a service for potential recipients of visas designated for victims of human trafficking or violent crimes in the United States,” they continue

“Providing assistance to society’s most vulnerable is a core American value. All people, regardless of their immigration status, should be able to access victim services without fear,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
On Twitter Friday, Stephen Miller slammed the decision to close the office, stating “law enforcement is now forced to aid lawmakers.”** 

 

“This is in addition to all of the free help illegal aliens already get from mega-billionaires, the ACLU & powerful special interests. Americans have become second-class citizens in their own country. And grief-stricken families, mourning loved ones, are the collateral damage,” Miller continued.
According to the Associated Press, Miller stating that opening the new office would be like the DEA opening “a call center to help drug dealers get lawyers and amnesty for their crimes.” The Department of Homeland Security “is a law enforcement agency, not a legal help center for criminals and lawbreakers.”

VP Harris Trip Results in Joint Task Force Alpha

Harris meets with Mexico's president, declares 'new era' - Los Angeles Times source

In part from USA Today: GUATEMALA CITY – Vice President Kamala Harris, during a trip to Guatemala, announced initiatives Monday to address corruption and human trafficking in Central America and urged people from the region not to come to the U.S.-Mexican border. Harris announced that a task force would be created to work with the Justice, Treasury and State Departments to investigate corruption in the region. U.S. officials will train law enforcement in Guatemala to conduct their own investigations.

Joint Task Force Alpha was established to enhance U.S. law enforcement efforts against human smuggling and trafficking groups in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

“I have personally worked on these cases in my career and can say that when we see some of the most vulnerable in our communities being taken advantage of, being sold for profit, being abused, it should be a priority for all of us who care about the human condition and humanity,” Harris said.

“Corruption really does sap the wealth of any country and in Central America is at a scale where it is a large percentage of GDP across the region,” said Ricardo Zuniga, the State Department’s special envoy for the Northern Triangle. “We see corruption as one of the most important root causes to be dealt with.”

Part of the strategy to slow the pace of migration is creating better living conditions and economic opportunities for people in the region through investment. Last month, Harris secured the commitment of 12 U.S. companies and organizations – including MasterCard, Microsoft and Chobani – to invest in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

US: Kamala Harris declares Mexico, Guatemala trip ′a success′ | News | DW |  09.06.2021

From the DOJ:

“Transnational human smuggling and trafficking networks pose a serious criminal threat,” said Attorney General Garland. “These networks profit from the exploitation of migrants and routinely expose them to violence, injury, and death. The joint efforts we are announcing today will combine investigative, prosecutorial, and capacity-building efforts of both the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. Our focus will remain on disrupting and dismantling smuggling and trafficking networks that abuse, exploit, or endanger migrants, pose national security threats, and are involved in organized crime. Together, we will combat these threats where they originate and operate.”

In addition to the work of the Joint Task Force, Attorney General Garland directed the Office of Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training (OPDAT) and the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), in coordination with the State Department, to enhance the assistance provided to counterparts in the Northern Triangle countries and Mexico to support their efforts to prosecute smuggling and trafficking networks in their own courts.

The Joint Task Force will consist of federal prosecutors from U.S. Attorney’s Offices along the Southwest Border (District of Arizona, Southern District of California, Southern District of Texas, and Western District of Texas), from the Criminal Division and the Civil Rights Division, along with law enforcement agents and analysts from DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Patrol. The FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration will also be part of the Task Force. And it will work closely with Operation Sentinel, a recently announced DHS operation focused on countering transnational criminal organizations affiliated with migrant smuggling.

 

The Under Reported Threat to the US of Smuggling Chinese

We have watched for years the chaos at the U.S. Southern border with Mexico. While there is has been a single focus on Latin Americans crossing into the United States, very little has been reported about the volume of Chinese. This should stimulate some critical thinking and questions.

Is this espionage, operatives or the building of a force for other reasons? In February of 2020, NBC News was asking some of the same questions.

A Chinese student walked around a perimeter fence at a U.S. naval base in Key West, taking pictures of government buildings. Stopped by police, he said he was trying to capture images of the sunrise.

aerial view of nas key west naval air station base truman ...

And nine days after that, two more Chinese students drove past a guard at the same naval base. When stopped by security 30 minutes later, they voluntarily displayed the videos and photos they had taken of the base.

The first Chinese student arrested at the naval base in Key West was Zhao Qianli, 20, who was taken into custody on Sept. 26, 2018.

Zhao entered the base by walking along the facility’s secure fence line and trudging through the beach, court documents say.

Zhao headed directly to the Joint Interagency Task Force South property, according to court records, where he took several photographs on his Motorola cellphone and his Canon EOS digital camera.

His devices contained photos and videos of sensitive equipment at the facility’s “antenna farm,” as well as images of warning signs that read “Military Installation” and “Restricted Area,” according to court documents.

Zhao initially told military police that he was “lost” and that he was a “dishwasher from New Jersey.” In later conversations with the FBI, Zhao said he traveled to Key West to “see the sights, such as the Hemingway House,” but there were no images of tourist attractions on his phone, according to his sentencing memo.

Zhao admitted to receiving military training as a university student in China and was found to have a “police blouse” and a People’s Republic of China Interior Ministry belt buckle at his hotel, the memo says.

 

In 2016, Newsweek in part reported:

Smuggling Chinese across the southern U.S. border appeals to traffickers because it is more lucrative than smuggling individuals from Mexico or Central America. A longer journey commands a steeper price and the going rate per person is believed to be somewhere between $50,000 and $70,000; the total value of the trade for the Chinese mafias involved has been estimated at $750 million.

The role of Chinese mafia groups (triads) in bringing migrants across the border has also deepened their exposure to and ties with Latin American narcotics cartels, both in human smuggling and beyond.

An “alliance between Chinese and Latin American smuggling rings” was noted as early as 1993, but today the scope of this “alliance” encompasses not just smuggling, but also other illicit activity including the sale of drug precursors from Asia and pirated materials.

In Mexico, contact between triads and cartels occurs in various regions, including those ruled by the ruthless Los Zetas syndicate and the Gulf and Juarez cartels, depending on what routes are used for migrants. Triad groups are believed to operate in the Mexican state of Chiapas and the Red Dragon triad, which operates in Peru, is involved not only in smuggling, but also in extortion and drug trafficking within Latin America. The wide-ranging activities of transnational organized crime groups generate additional law enforcement concerns beyond border security.

But it is important to look to the other side of our country, the area of the Bahamas and South Florida. A few islands in the Bahamas are now fully owned by China, one such island is Bird Cay. From Forbes in 2019 in part:

Quoting CaribbeanNews.com directly:

“China has set its sights on The Bahamas and has invested billions of dollars in building new infrastructure and industry across the country.

New roads, new businesses, new hotels, and booming Chinese immigration has led to many companies being staffed with more Chinese workers than local Bahamians.”

Plus, “Reports show that over 200,000 Chinese are illegally smuggled into the Caribbean every year to open their shops or work at Chinese businesses, with many sending their money back to China.”

However, the local government doesn’t see how it’s in a good position to do anything about it since Chinese state banks are simultaneously flooding the islands with tens of millions of dollars… even going so far as to finance new ports there.

Private Islands for sale - Bird Cay - Bahamas - Caribbean Bird Cay, owned now by China

Hold on, there is South Florida where those smuggled Chinese are making their way into the United States aboard some very expensive yachts.

The Miami Herald just last year told us:

Dozens of Chinese nationals without proper papers have been smuggled from the Bahamas to South Florida by operators of luxury yachts who are charging them thousands of dollars each for the short Atlantic journey, according to federal criminal cases.

In recent instances, the Coast Guard stopped two vessels approaching the South Florida shore, leading to the arrests of three men accused of transporting a total of 26 Chinese passengers and one Bahamian, court records show. The alien smuggling operations were not related, however.

Rocco Oppedisano, a 51-year-old Italian national, is scheduled for arraignment in Miami federal court Wednesday on charges of conspiring to transport aliens into the United States and bringing them here for financial gain. Oppedisano told a magistrate judge this week that properties he once owned in the Northeast have been sold along with his Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Fiat vehicles to pay for legal costs over his immigration troubles.

Oppedisano was stopped by the Coast Guard on Dec. 2 while he was commandeering a 63-foot Sunseeker yacht named INXS FINALLY with 14 Chinese passengers and one Bahamian, according to an indictment. Among the passengers was a Chinese national, Ying Lian Li, who was deported last April but tried to re-enter the country.

It is unclear why these Chinese nationals — unlike Cubans and Haitians smuggled here in both go-fast and rickety boats in the past — sought to come to South Florida. But over the past five years, the Bahamas has experienced an influx of Chinese workers flocking to the archipelago as part of a push by China to invest in the country’s hotel, tourism and trade industries.

In the other alien smuggling case, a Coast Guard cutter encountered a 70-foot Hatteras yacht about 20 miles east of South Florida on July 23, when officers radioed the vessel to ask how many people were on board. The yacht’s response: two crew and eight Japanese passengers with passports, who did not need additional visas to enter the United States.

It was all a lie, according to a Homeland Security Investigations criminal affidavit.

About 10 miles east of Port Everglades, Coast Guard officers boarded the yacht and asked crew member Robert L. McNeil Jr. to bring all the passengers on deck. The officers counted 12 passengers with passports from the People’s Republic of China but without required visas to enter the United States, according to the HSI affidavit.

The Coast Guard concluded that none of the 12 Chinese nationals possessed documents that would allow them to enter the United States legally. McNeil, and the yacht’s charter captain, James A. Bradford, along with the 12 Chinese nationals were transferred to the Coast Guard cutter.

During questioning, Bradford said he left South Florida on the Hatteras yacht bearing the name CAREFREE on July 22 and arrived in Nassau, Bahamas, that day. He admitted that the purpose of the trip was to pick up a “tour group of aliens” in the Bahamas, transport them to South Florida and return to the Bahamas on July 26.

Bradford, who has been a charter captain for decades, said “he never checked to see if the passengers had proper documents to come to the U.S.,” according to the affidavit.

A search of the yacht uncovered 10 cellphones in the bridge area; none of the Chinese nationals had mobile phones on them.

“Based on my knowledge and experience in human smuggling cases, smugglers often collect cell phones from migrants until they are paid for delivering the migrants to the U.S.” wrote HSI special agent David Jansen, who added that none of the passengers carried any luggage.

The search also uncovered $118,100 hidden behind the wall paneling of the yacht’s master bedroom, the affidavit said. Investigators also seized more than $2,800 from McNeil.

Both Bradford and McNeil were indicted on charges of conspiring to transport aliens into the United States and bringing them here for financial gain. To resolve his case, McNeil pleaded guilty earlier this month to one count of alien smuggling to make a profit. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

The Hill says this is a disturbing trend.

Matt Cardy/Getty Images

While it’s unclear why these Chinese nationals sought to come to South Florida, the move is part of a larger five-year trend in the region. The Bahamas has seen a surge of Chinese workers as China invests in the archipelago’s hospitality and tourism industries. China’s presence in the Bahamas reportedly stems from a burgeoning relationship between the two countries, after China provided disaster relief in a bid to establish trade.