Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Behind The Monument: ‘The Naked Warrior,’ Legendary Predecessor Of NAVY SEALS

 Coffee Or Die magazine offers a piece on the statue of the WWII UDT frogman that stands in front of the National Nayv UDT-SEAL Museum.

It was a beautiful March afternoon in Coronado, California, with no clouds in the sky. I had joined two retired plankowners — or founding members — of SEAL Team 7 at Glorietta Bay Park to view one of Naval Special Warfare’s most sacred monuments. As we left the parking lot, crossed the grassy courtyard, and passed by a row of stone benches, we finally approached The Naked Warrior.

Designed by the artist John Seward Johnson II, The Naked Warrior honors the World War II legacy of the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Teams — the combat swimmer units that eventually evolved into the SEALs.

According to the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum, the name of the statue traces back to a daring mission on the Japanese-held atoll of Kwajalein in January 1944. As the story goes, two UDT frogmen, Ensign Lewis F. Luehrs and Chief Petty Officer Bill Acheson, were tasked with a reconnaissance mission to assess the beaches for a future amphibious assault. When the duo couldn’t get close enough to the shore because their path was blocked by a coral reef, they stripped down to their underwear so they could squeeze over the reef and complete their mission.

As a result of the successful operation, UDTs started to emphasize training in which frogmen wore only face masks, swim trunks, dive fins, and Ka-Bar knives. For the remainder of the war, these elite waterborne commandos lived up to their name, often entering enemy-held waters without fire support, setting explosive charges to destroy underwater obstacles that prevented amphibious landings, and doing it all without being detected.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Behind the Monument: ‘The Naked Warrior,’ Legendary Predecessor of Navy SEALs - Coffee or Die Magazine

My late father, Edward M. Davis (seen in the middle of the above photo), was a Navy chief and UDT frogman in WWII. I wrote about him and other frogmen and how the UDT involved into the Navy SEALs in a piece for Counterterrorism magazine.

You can read the piece via the below link:  

Paul Davis On Crime: A Look Back At The World War II U.S. Navy Frogmen: My Piece On The Underwater Demolition Teams, Forerunners of Today's Navy SEALs




Monday, September 19, 2022

Sailor Accused Of igniting USS Bonhomme Richard Puts Fate In Judge

The Navy Times offers a piece on the trial of the sailor accused of setting the huge fire on the USS Bonhomme Richard. 

SAN DIEGO — The young sailor accused of one of the military’s worst noncombat ship disasters agreed to put his fate in the hands of a lone Navy judge who will decide whether he ignited the USS Bonhomme Richard in 2020 — or as the defense suggests, there may not have been arson at all.

Ryan Sawyer Mays (seen in the below photo) waived his right to a jury and told Capt. Derek Butler that he wants him to rule at the end of the court martial, which started Monday at Naval Base San Diego. 

According to prosecutors, Mays was a young, arrogant sailor angry about being assigned to deck duty after failing to become a Navy SEAL — and he made the Navy pay in a big way.

“Your honor, it was a mischievous act of defiance gone wrong,” Cmdr Leah O’Brien told the judge during opening statements for the prosecution.

Mays’ military defense counsel, Lt. Tayler Haggerty, countered in her opening remarks that it’s the Navy who is wrong. Haggerty said investigators concluded Mays did it before the probe was complete and then ignored evidence and witness accounts that didn’t fit into that narrative so they could find a scapegoat for the loss of a billion-dollar ship that was mismanaged by senior officers. 

Once investigators pinned the blame on Mays, who was known for being sarcastic and flippant, “nothing else mattered,” Haggerty said.

“Just because the government eliminates, ignores pieces of evidence, it doesn’t mean the court should,” she told the court. Haggerty told the judge by the end of the trial, which is supposed to last two weeks, “you will exonerate this sailor and find him not guilty of both charges.”

Mays is charged with aggravated arson and the willful hazarding of a vessel. He has denied any wrongdoing.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Sailor accused of igniting USS Bonhomme Richard puts fate in judge (navytimes.com)



Considered Armed And Dangerous: DEA Designates Alenka Karner As Fugitive Of The Week

 The DEA has designated Alenka Karner as their fugitive of the week.

The DEA provided the below information:

Alenka Karner

AKA:

Alenka HRIBAR, Alenka HRIBAK

Wanted for the following alleged federal violations

The following Federal Drug Violations:Conspiracy to Distribute SteroidsConspiracy to Launder MoneyConspiracy to Import Steroids

Warning: Considered Armed and Dangerous

Label

Description

Race

White

Sex

Female

Height

5' 6

Weight

120

Hair Color

Blonde

Eye Color

Blue

Year of Birth

Last Known Address

Ljubljana, Slovenia

NCIC #


W445014011

Jurisdiction

District of Massachusetts

Notes

Considered Armed and Dangerous

MASSACHUSETTS

 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Luchese Organized Crime Family Soldier And Five Others Charged In Connection With Operating Long-Running Illegal Gambling Business

 The U.S. Attorney Eastern District of New York released the below:

In federal court in Brooklyn, an indictment was unsealed charging six defendants for their roles overseeing and operating a large-scale illegal, online gambling business under the protection of the Luchese organized crime family.  In operation for more than 15 years, the gambling business known as “Rhino Sports,” utilized an offshore website and dozens of bookmakers in the New York area to take millions in illegal sports bets. 

Four of the defendants, Luchese crime family solider Anthony Villani and associates Louis Tucci, Jr., Dennis Filizzola and James Coumoutsos, were arrested at their residences in the New York area, and are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon by United States Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann.  A fifth defendant, bookmaker Michael Praino, was arrested in West Palm Beach, Florida and will make his initial appearance tomorrow morning in federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the charges. 

“As alleged, this conduct demonstrates how members of La Cosa Nostra continue to engage in illegal gambling operations and money laundering money-marking schemes that lead to threats of violence against anyone who stands in their way and has resulted in millions of dollars in profits to the Luchese crime family,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “These charges illustrate this Office’s continued commitment to rooting La Cosa Nostra out of New York.” 

Mr. Peace thanked the New York City Police Department, New York State Police, and the Westchester County Police for their assistance in the investigation.

"Members of the mafia are not giving up the tried and true methods of criminal behavior, even in the face of the burgeoning world of legal gambling. As we allege, a Luchese soldier and other family members ran an illegal gambling operation and offered their clientele the same twisted customer service: do what they say or face terrifying consequences. One thing these criminals can bet on - the FBI will continue our pursuit," stated Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.

 As alleged in the indictment and court filings, defendant Anthony Villani, an alleged Luchese solider, oversaw a large-scale illegal gambling business called Rhino Sports (the “Gambling Business”).  The Gambling Business was in continuous operation from at least 2004 through December 2020.  During that period, the Gambling Business was hosted online using offshore servers in Costa Rica and employed local bookmakers to pay and collect winnings in cash.  Records obtained from the Gambling Business’s website indicated that Villani’s illegal gambling operation regularly took bets from between 400 and 1,300 bettors each week, most of whom were based in New York City and the metropolitan area.  As alleged, Villani’s bookmakers regularly included members and associates of the Luchese crime family and other La Cosa Nostra families.  As part of the scheme, Villani employed co-conspirators Louis Tucci, Jr. and Dennis Filizzola, as runners to assist in operating the business. Villani is alleged to have received more than $1 million annually from the business.  During law enforcement searches related to this matter in December 2020, agents recovered over $407,000 in cash from one of Villani’s residences, as well as brass knuckles and gambling ledgers.

The unsealed indictment charges Villani with racketeering in connection with participation in various criminal schemes, including illegal gambling, money laundering and attempted extortion.  As one part of the money laundering, Villani and co-defendant Filizzola used gambling proceeds to purchase U.S. Postal Service money orders disguised as rent payments to a property owned by Villani.  Further, between April 2020 and October 2020, Villani is alleged to have attempted to extort an individual identified as John Doe in the indictment, including by telling John Doe: “I’m telling you right now, you don’t get this money – [expletive] run away.” 

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys James P. McDonald and Antoinette N. Rangel are in charge of the prosecution.  Assistant United States Attorney Claire S. Kedeshian is handling forfeiture in this case.

The Defendants:

ANTHONY VILLANI
Age:  57
Elmsford, NY

JAMES COUMOUTSOS (also known as “Quick”)
Age:  59
Bronx, NY

DENNIS FILIZZOLA
Age:  58
Cortlandt Manor, NY

MICHAEL PRAINO (also known as “Platinum”)
Age:  44
Bronx, NY

LOUIS TUCCI, JR. (also known as “Tooch”)
Age:  59
Tuckahoe, NY

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Three Iranian Nationals Charged With Engaging In Computer Intrusions And Ransomware-Style Extortion Against U.S. Critical Infrastructure Providers

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

An indictment was unsealed today charging three Iranian nationals with allegedly orchestrating a scheme to hack into the computer networks of multiple U.S. victims.

As alleged in the indictment, from October 2020 through the present, Mansour Ahmadi, aka Mansur Ahmadi, 34; Ahmad Khatibi Aghda, aka Ahmad Khatibi, 45; and Amir Hossein Nickaein Ravari, aka Amir Hossein Nikaeen, aka Amir Hossein Nickaein, aka Amir Nikayin, 30, engaged in a scheme to gain unauthorized access to the computer systems of hundreds of victims in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Iran, and elsewhere, causing damage and losses to the victims. 

“The Government of Iran has created a safe haven where cyber criminals acting for personal gain flourish and defendants like these are able to hack and extort victims, including critical infrastructure providers,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “This indictment makes clear that even other Iranians are less safe because their own government fails to follow international norms and stop Iranian cyber criminals.”

The defendants’ hacking campaign exploited known vulnerabilities in commonly used network devices and software applications to gain access and exfiltrate data and information from victims’ computer systems. Ahmadi, Khatibi, Nickaein and others also conducted encryption attacks against victims’ computer systems, denying victims access to their systems and data unless a ransom payment was made.

The defendants victimized a broad range of organizations, including small businesses, government agencies, nonprofit programs and educational and religious institutions. Their victims also included multiple critical infrastructure sectors, including health care centers, transportation services and utility providers.

“Ransom-related cyberattacks — like what happened here — are a particularly destructive form of cybercrime,” said U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger for the District of New Jersey. “No form of cyberattack is acceptable, but ransomware attacks that target critical infrastructure services, such as health care facilities and government agencies, are a threat to our national security. Hackers like these defendants go to great lengths to keep their identities secret, but there is always a digital trail. And we will find it.”

“The FBI remains steadfast in our commitment to work with our U.S. government partners for the purpose of imposing cost on our adversaries,” said Assistant Director Bryan Vorndran of the FBI’s Cyber Division. “This indictment, when coupled with other disruptive operational activities, demonstrates what’s possible when we team up with our domestic and international partners and take a whole-of-government approach. We, along with our partners, remain dedicated to protecting the United States of America and the victims affected by these egregious crimes.”

According to court documents, in February 2021, the defendants and their conspirators targeted a township in Union County, New Jersey. They exploited known vulnerabilities to gain control and access to the township’s network and data and used a hacking tool to establish persistent remote access to a particular domain that was registered to Ahmadi.

In or before February 2022, the defendants and their conspirators targeted an accounting firm based in Morris County, New Jersey. They again exploited a known vulnerability to gain unauthorized access and then used a particular hacking tool to establish a connection to a server that was registered to Nickaein and to steal data. In March 2022, the defendants launched an encryption attack against the accounting firm; after denying the firm access to some of its systems, Khatibi demanded payment of $50,000 in cryptocurrency and threatened to sell the data on the black market.

The defendants also compromised, and often encrypted and extorted, hundreds of other victims, including an accounting firm based in Illinois; a regional electric utility company based in Mississippi; a regional electric utility company based in Indiana; a public housing corporation in the State of Washington; a shelter for victims of domestic violence in Pennsylvania; a County government in Wyoming; a construction company located in the State of Washington that was engaged in work on critical infrastructure projects; and a state bar association.

Ahmadi, Khatibi and Nickaein, all residents of Iran, are each charged by indictment with one count of conspiring to commit computer fraud and related activity in connection with computers; one count of intentionally damaging a protected computer; and one count of transmitting a demand in relation to damaging a protected computer. Ahmadi is charged with one additional count of intentionally damaging a protected computer. All defendants remain at large abroad.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The intentional damage to protected computers charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The transmission of a ransom demand charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The offenses also carry a potential maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross amount of gain or loss resulting from the offense, whichever is greatest.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, with the investigation leading to the charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys David E. Malagold and Matthew Feldman Nikic for the District of New Newsey, and Trial Attorney Andrew D. Beaty of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Man Pleads Guilty To Fraud Scheme Targeting Navy Servicemembers

The U.S. Attorney's Office Eastern District of Virginia released the below information:

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A Newport News man pleaded guilty today to conspiring to defraud Navy Federal Credit Union and its members out of money and property.

According to court documents, from approximately April to August 2021, Samari Smith, 20, conspired with at least four other people to commit credit union fraud by convincing account holders to withdraw and turnover funds to them under false pretenses. Smith and his coconspirators targeted sailors in the United States Navy on online dating applications like Tinder by posing as women interested in a romantic relationship. Smith and his co-conspirators asked the victimized Sailors to withdraw and turnover funds – often under the guise of helping a relative in the Navy who was trying to send them money. 

Samari Smith was directly involved in defrauding four Sailors in the Navy who were then stationed in the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, which caused more than $40,000 in fraud losses to these victims. Two co-conspirators previously pleaded guilty, including the leader of the conspiracy, Trequan Smith, 21, of Hampton and Emani Burton, 23, also of Hampton. The broader fraud conspiracy orchestrated by Trequan Smith victimized dozens of Sailors in the Navy and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars of fraud loss.

Samari Smith pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 27, 2023. He faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. Trequan Smith pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. He faces a mandatory minimum of two years in prison and a maximum penalty of 32 years in prison. Burton pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and was sentenced to a term of one day of incarceration and three years of supervised release.  

Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Tira A. Hayward, Acting Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Washington Division; and Frederick Franks, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Norfolk Field Office, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen accepted the plea.

This case was investigated under the leadership and coordination of the Newport News Financial Crimes Task Force.

Assistant U.S. Attorney D. Mack Coleman is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case Nos. 4:22-cr-56, 4:21-cr-67, and 4:21-cr-68.

Monday, September 12, 2022

U.S. Marshals Offering Reward For Information Leading To The Arrest of Fugitive Leonard "Fat Leonard" Francis


The U.S. Marshals Service released the below:

 

San Diego, CA – The U.S. Marshals Service and Naval Criminal Investigative Service are offering a combined reward of up to $40,000 ($20,000 from each agency) for any information leading up to the arrest of fugitive Leonard Francis

Also known as “Fat Leonard,” the military contractor who pleaded guilty in 2015 of bribing Navy officials and was on home-confinement in San Diego weeks before he was scheduled to be sentenced in a $35 million bribery scandal. He allegedly cut off his GPS monitor and left his home on the morning of Sept. 4. 

On September 4, 2022, at 7:35 a.m. U.S. Pretrial Services, the federal agency in charge of monitoring his home confinement, received an alert that Francis’ GPS ankle monitor was being tampered with. U.S. Pretrial Services then attempted to contact Francis with no success. U.S. Pretrial Services followed up by contacting Francis’ defense attorney. His attorney stated they would attempt to contact Francis and have him contact U.S. Pretrial Services.

At 1:28 p.m. Francis’ defense attorney advised there was no answer. The San Diego Police Department was then contacted by Francis’ legal team to conduct a welfare check. At approximately 2:42 p.m., the San Diego Police Department arrived at the residence, and concluded that Francis did not appear to be home.

At approximately 3:30 p.m. U.S. Pretrial Services contacted the U.S. Marshals for assistance in locating Francis.

At approximately 4 p.m. members of the San Diego Fugitive Task Force went to Francis’ residence to locate him. After announcing themselves, task force officers made entry into the residence through an unlocked door. After a thorough check of the residence, officers were unable to locate Francis. Officers were able to locate the GPS ankle monitor that had been cut off. 

His current whereabouts are unknown.

Anyone with information on Francis’ whereabouts should contact the U.S. Marshals at 877-926-8332.  Anonymous tips may also be submitted via the USMS Tips App.  

The U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for over 84,000 fugitive arrests annually, arresting both federal fugitives as well as supporting state and local law enforcement agencies with apprehending dangerous fugitives across the nation and internationally

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on the Fat Leonard U.S. Navy bribery and fraud scandal via the below link:

 Paul Davis On Crime: My Piece On The 'Fat Leonard' U.S. Navy Bribery And Fraud Case 

Sunday, September 11, 2022

A Look Back At The 9/11 Attack On The Pentagon

I recall vividly the horrific 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. 

On September 11, 2001, I was the civilian administrative officer of a Defense Department command in Philadelphia, where I oversaw security, safety and other programs.

That morning I was sitting in my office on a naval base in Philadelphia when one of our people stopped in and told me a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

"Accident or terrorism?" I asked.

When we later learned that a second aircraft crashed into the World Trade Center, we knew we were under attack. Our commander, a U.S. Army colonel, sent all of our military and civilian employees home, as he didn’t know if, when or where another attack might occur. 
 

I remained at the base, along with the colonel and his deputy, and the three of us monitored the situation via the media and the classified communication equipment in my office. 

I remember the shock and dismay we felt when we learned that our headquarters, the Pentagon, was also attacked.  

My security job more than doubled from that day until the day I retired from the Defense Department in 2007.

I later wrote a piece for Counterterrorism magazine on the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon.

You can read the piece below:

 

Note: The top photo of the Pentagon after the 9/11 attack was released by the National Security Agency.

A Look Back At A New York Cop's 9/11 After-Action Report

Below is my Crime Beat column on 9/11, which originally appeared in the Orchard Press Online Mystery Magazine:  

I covered the Police-Security Expo in Atlantic City in June and heard Joseph Dunne, who served as the New York City deputy police commissioner during 9/11, speak to the attendees.  

Sponsored by the New Jersey Association of Chiefs of Police, the theme of the expo was to prepare to act and respond to terrorism. Previous to 9/11, counterterrorism was largely a federal responsibility, but now police officers have become front line soldiers. 

I sat in on a seminar conducted by Joseph Dunne (seen in the below photo), who retired from the NYPD. He gave what we used to call in the military a commander’s "after-action report" on the 9/11 attack. 

Dunne played tapes of some of the 911 emergency calls, one of which had the voice of a young woman on the 110th floor pleading with the operator to tell her what she should do. The woman paused and told the operator that she was pregnant. 

The audience was a tough group of cops and security people, but most of them were touched by the woman’s frantic call for help.

While standing near the towers, Dunne said he thought debris was falling around him, but he discovered that it was people. This, he said, left an indelible image in his mind.

"Consider the state of mind of the people who elected to jump and end their lives," Dunne said. "What awful choices these poor people had." 

Dunne said that the Port Authority and NYPD quickly closed tunnels and bridges and kept the lines open for rescue personnel. This quick action saved countless lives, he said.

Dunne recalled hearing a plane overhead and tensed up, "Don’t worry," someone told him. "It’s one of ours." Before 9/11, a conversation like that took place only on a foreign battlefield.

"The people in the buildings were innocent victims and rescue officers voluntarily rushed in," Dunne said, proud of his officers.

Dunne spoke of one officer who was filling out his retirement papers when the call came in. He left the retirement papers on his desk and rushed out to help. Like 22 other NYPD officers, he lost his life that day.

Dunne rolled out some gruesome stats: 19,000 body parts were signed into the morgue, and they collected 12,622 DNA samples.

"No one signs on to policing to deal with the collection of bodies and body parts," Dunne said sadly. 

By Dunne’s account, 25,000 lives were saved thanks to the NYPD’s rapid and skilled response. 

"As memories of September 11th fade, we have to remain resolved," Dunne advised. "It’s going to happen again."

9/11 was perhaps America’s worst disaster, but the acts of heroism and humanity that followed the attack led me to believe that we have the resolve to win the war on terrorism. 

Note: The above FBI.gov photo shows the Statute of Liberty and beyond it the World Trade Center on fire on 9/11. 

Saturday, September 10, 2022

DEA Dedicates September 11th Memorial At DEA Headquarters to NYPD And NYSP Task Force Officers

The DEA released the below information:

WASHINGTON - On Friday, September 9, 2022, the Drug Enforcement Administration dedicated a memorial at DEA Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, to DEA New York Drug Enforcement Task Force Officers who have lost their lives from illness or disease caused by their work at Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This new memorial consists of artifacts from the World Trade Center and Pentagon and a photograph from Shanksville, Pennsylvania; as well as seven names of DEA Task Force Officers who were assigned to the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force:

  • New York State Police Senior Investigator Thomas G. Moran, Jr. - July 22, 2012 – Cornwell, NY
  • New York Police Department Detective Traci L. Tack-Czajkowski - January 15, 2013 – Dix Hills, NY.
  • New York State Police Investigator Paul R. Stuewer- October 5, 2016 – Poughkeepsie, NY
  • New York Police Department Detective Mark Mkwanazi - February 16, 2017 – West Hempstead, NY
  • New York Police Department Detective Thomas J. Barnitt - June 11, 2018 – Campbell Hall, NY
  • New York Police Department Sergeant Robert P. Masci - June 9, 2018 – Smithtown, NY
  • New York Police Department Detective Terence P. Mulvey - December 1, 2021 – Bronx, NY           

Administrator Milgram was joined by NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell and NYSP Major Brian P. Webster to honor these Task Force Officers during a private dedication ceremony attended by the families and friends.

“We will never forget the tremendous sacrifice of the men and women who responded to the events of September 11, 2001. Not only on that day, but in the weeks, months, and years that followed. These American heroes showed true courage and bravery in the face of unimaginable adversity,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “This 9/11 memorial is a tribute to their lives, their work, and their service to country. We are proud to honor these TFOs who showed incredible integrity and dedication to their mission. They will forever remain a part of DEA’s legacy, both in our hearts and as an element of the DEA Museum.”

“On September 11, 2001, more than 70 law enforcement officers – including 23 members of the New York City Police Department – lost their lives in defense of our nation,” NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said. “And in the two decades since, hundreds more have died as a result of their rescue and recovery work that day and in the weeks, months, and years following. Tragically, we know that our losses will continue – but we are strengthened by the solemn pride and selfless devotion of all of our first responders and their loved ones. The memories of our fallen heroes live on through this memorial, and their legacies endure through every officer who continues their vital work. Thank you to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York State Police, and all of our 9/11 line-of-duty families who inspire us each day.”

New York State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said, “The tragic events of September 11, 2001, have left a tremendous void that is felt throughout our nation. Memorials such as this are imperative to show the survivors and loved ones of our fallen heroes that yes, we remember. These honored men and woman have displayed uncommon courage, remarkable bravery, and exceptional service. The New York State Police is forever thankful for their sacrifice and selflessness in putting others before themselves.”

The September 11th memorial, developed as part of the DEA Museum, serves both as a constant reminder of the selfless sacrifice our brave men and women made, and educates the public and visitors to DEA Headquarters about the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and the impact it continues to have on our nation. The DEA Museum and Visitors Center is located at 700 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, VA and is free to the public, open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Friday, September 9, 2022

A Dangerous Actor: China May Draw Lessons From Russian Failures In Ukraine

 Todd Lopez at the DOD News offers the below piece:

Chinese president Xi Jinping has set a timeline for his nation's military to be capable of taking Taiwan by 2027 — just five years from now. Recent events in the Taiwan strait have some questioning the strategic situation and prospects of a near-term invasion.  

Colin H. Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, said that while China is very interested in expanding its sphere of political and military influence in the Indo-Pacific region, it's likely going to be more cautious when it comes to a move as aggressive as an invasion of Taiwan.

"I do not think that China wants to put themselves in a position that Russia finds itself in today, which is invading a democratic neighbor — one that I think would generate an enormous amount of global sympathy," Kahl said during a discussion Wednesday at the Defense News Conference 2022, adding China would risk broader military tensions at significant political and economic costs.   

China might instead draw lessons from Russia's experience invading Ukraine over the last six months, Kahl said.  

"I would hope that they would draw the lesson from Russia's experience that, 'Hey, maybe ... we shouldn't do that,'" he said. "I don't think that they've sped up their clock. ... It's no mystery that Xi Jinping has given his military until 2027 to develop the military capabilities to forcefully reunify with Taiwan — if he makes the decision to do that. But I've seen no indication that he's made that decision to do so."  

Of greater concern is China's increased aggression in the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea, and other areas in the region, and how that increased aggressive action might lead to unintended consequences that could result from misunderstandings. 

"As China becomes increasingly assertive in kind of asserting its prerogatives around Taiwan, ... do they take the next step of trying to enforce those changes in the status quo in a way that runs the risk of an incident — an incident with the United States, and incident with one of our allies and partners?" Kahl asked. "We have seen the [People's Republic of China] engage in, over the last year or two, ... a trendline of increasingly unsafe and unprofessional encounters — both in ... the skies and at sea."  

Now, Kahl said, the U.S. and its allies must watch out for aggressive actions by the navy and air force of the People's Liberation Army that could run the risk of causing an international incident. In the meantime, he said, the U.S. will continue to operate in the Indo-Pacific as it always has.  

"We're not going to change our operating procedures," he said. “We're not going to do things that ratchet up tensions. We're going to do things that assert our continued support for the rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific and our support for our allies and partners, and not be backed away."  

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the Defense Department identified that nation as an "acute threat," which Kahl has further clarified as meaning "both immediate and sharp." But he's also now identified Russia as being "reckless" as well, considering the actions it's taken after failing to achieve the goals it set for its invasion of Ukraine.  

"I think that Russia is ... a capable military power — perhaps not as capable, frankly, and conventional as some of us may have assessed six or eight months ago ...," he said. "But they've also demonstrated that they're an extraordinarily dangerous and reckless power. And there's a way in which ... a weakened Russia becomes more dangerous on the international stage." 

In desperation, Kahl said, Russia has aligned itself more with and reached out to both North Korea and Iran for assistance. Moreso, he said, because Russia's conventional forces are so heavily occupied in Ukraine, he suspects they will be forced to rely more now on unconventional capabilities such as nuclear, cyber and space, as well as misinformation and disinformation campaigns.  

"Russia does not pose the challenge to the United States and the rules-based international order over the long term that China does," he said. "But in the immediate term, it's a very dangerous actor." 

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

U.S. Marshals Seeking Bribery Fugitive Leonard Francis, AKA 'Fat Leonard'


San Diego, CA – The U.S. Marshals San Diego Fugitive Task Force is actively searching for Leonard Francis, also known as “Fat Leonard,” the military contractor who pleaded guilty in 2015 of bribing Navy officials and was on home-confinement in San Diego weeks before he was scheduled to be sentenced in a $35 million bribery scandal, allegedly cut off his GPS monitor and left his home on the morning of Sept. 4. 

U.S. Pretrial Services, the federal agency in charge of monitoring his home confinement, received an alert that his GPS ankle monitor was being tampered with. Upon following their protocols, Pretrial Services notified the U.S. Marshals about the GPS alert. 

Members of the San Diego Fugitive Task Force went to Francis’ residence, in an attempt to locate him. After announcing themselves, task force officers made entry into the residence through an unlocked door. After a thorough check of the residence, officers were unable to locate Francis. Officers were able to locate the GPS ankle monitor that had been cut off.
His current whereabouts are unknown.

Anyone with information on Francis’ whereabouts should contact the U.S. Marshals at 877-926-8332.  Anonymous tips may also be submitted via the USMS Tips App.  

The U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for over 120,000 fugitive arrests annually, arresting both federal fugitives as well as supporting state and local law enforcement agencies with apprehending dangerous fugitives across the nation and internationally.  



Tuesday, September 6, 2022

'Fat Leonard,’ Set To Finally Be Sentenced In Long-Running Navy Bribery Scheme, Is On The Lam


The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Malaysian defense contractor known as “Fat Leonard” who admitted to bribing senior U.S Navy officers in a major bribery and fraud case, has escaped.

The military contractor known as “Fat Leonard,” the mastermind behind the worst public corruption scandal in U.S. Navy history who was three weeks away from being sentenced in the case, is on the run.

Leonard Glenn Francis, who has been under house arrest, cut off his GPS monitoring ankle bracelet and absconded from his San Diego home sometime Sunday morning, said Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Omar Castillo.

Pretrial Services, the federal agency monitoring Francis, was alerted to an anomaly with Francis’ bracelet, and Francis’ defense team went to check on him, knowing he has a history of health issues. An attorney called San Diego police about 1:45 p.m., saying Francis was not answering their knocks or messages, and asked for a welfare check at the home in the Torrey Highlands neighborhood, according to police officials.

Officers arrived and entered the home through an unsecured door in a central courtyard and found the home empty — save for the sheared GPS bracelet left behind, according to police and marshals.

The U.S. Marshals Service was called to assist, and the San Diego Regional Fugitive Task Force was activated to begin the high-profile manhunt. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which spearheaded the massive case against Francis more than a decade ago, is also helping.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

'Fat Leonard,' set to finally be sentenced in long-running Navy bribery scheme, is on the lam - The San Diego Union-Tribune (sandiegouniontribune.com) 


You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on Fat Leonard via the below link: