Attorney General William P. Barr Appoints New Leadership Team At The Bureau Of Prisons

Attorney General William P. Barr today announced he will appoint Dr. Kathleen Hawk Sawyer as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and Dr. Thomas R. Kane as the Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Dr. Hawk Sawyer previously served as Director of BOP from 1992 – 2003.  

“I am pleased to welcome back Dr. Hawk Sawyer as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Under Dr. Hawk Sawyer’s previous tenure at the Bureau, she led the agency with excellence, innovation, and efficiency, receiving numerous awards for her outstanding leadership, “ said Attorney General Barr. “I am also pleased to announce Dr. Thomas R. Kane as the Deputy Director of BOP. Dr. Kane served in the Bureau for over thirty years under four Attorneys General and is known for his expertise and proficiency in prison management and organization. During this critical juncture, I am confident Dr. Hawk Sawyer and Dr. Kane will lead BOP with the competence, skill, and resourcefulness they have embodied throughout their government careers. I would also like to thank Hugh Hurwitz, Acting Director of BOP, for his dedication and service to the Bureau over the last fifteen months. I have asked Mr. Hurwitz to return to his responsibilities as Assistant Director of BOP’s Reentry Services Division, where he will work closely with me in overseeing the implementation of one of the Department’s highest priorities, the First Step Act.”

Dr. Kathleen Hawk Sawyer began her Bureau of Prisons career in 1976 as a psychologist at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Morgantown, West Virginia, and subsequently held positions of increasing responsibility as Chief of Psychology Services at Morgantown; Senior Instructor at the Bureau of Prisons’ Staff Training Academy (STA) in Glynco, Georgia; Associate Warden at FCI Fort Worth, Texas; the Bureau’s Chief of Staff Training at STA; and Warden at FCI Butner, North Carolina. In May 1989, she was selected as Assistant Director for the Program Review Division, where she was responsible for developing and implementing a system of internal controls for all Bureau operations. In 1992, Attorney General Barr appointed Dr. Hawk Sawyer as Director of BOP. While serving as Director for over a decade, she introduced the Forward Thinking Initiative, which was designed to prepare the agency to meet future demands and conditions. Additionally, she implemented reengineering initiatives intended to identify and eliminate unnecessary or redundant functions in order to maximize staff attention to inmates and yield agency-wide cost savings. While Director, Dr. Hawk Sawyer received numerous awards for service and leadership, including the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Management in 1992, the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Service in 1994 and 2000, and the Presidential Distinguished Executive Award in 1997. She served as Director until she retired in 2003.

Dr. Thomas R. Kane served in the Bureau of Prisons from 1977 to 2018, including 30 years in multiple senior leadership positions such as Chief of Staff, Assistant Director, Deputy Director, and Acting Director under four Attorneys General. While at BOP, he provided long-term leadership for the enhancement of processes to assess prisoner risk level and need for treatment, as well as the BOP business process by reengineering initiatives resulting in significant organizational cost efficiencies and process improvement. Additionally, he served as a member of the FBI Advisory Policy Board for Criminal Justice Information Services, the District of Columbia Sentencing Commission, and the BOP Health Services Governing Board. Dr. Kane received numerous awards and other recognition throughout his career, including the Attorney General’s Medallion, two Meritorious Presidential Rank Awards, and the BOP Distinguished Service Medal.  Dr. Kane also serves as a member of the American Psychological Association and the American Correctional Association.

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Author: August 19, 2019

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Unsealed Warrant and Forfeiture Complaint Seek Seizure of Oil Tanker “Grace 1” for Unlawful Use of U.S. Financial System to Support and Finance IRGC’s Sale of Oil Products to Syria

A seizure warrant and forfeiture complaint were unsealed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that Oil Tanker “Grace 1,” all petroleum aboard it and $995,000.00 are subject to forfeiture based on violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), bank fraud statute, and money laundering statute, as well as separately the terrorism forfeiture statute.

John Demers, Assistant Attorney General, National Security Division, Jessie K. Liu, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Steven W. Cagen, Special Agent in Charge, Denver, Colorado, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Jill Sanborn, Special Agent in Charge, Minneapolis, Minnesota, FBI, made the announcement.

The documents allege a scheme to unlawfully access the U.S. financial system to support illicit shipments to Syria from Iran by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated foreign terrorist organization.  The scheme involves multiple parties affiliated with the IRGC and furthered by the deceptive voyages of the Grace 1.  A network of front companies allegedly laundered millions of dollars in support of such shipments. 

A seizure warrant is merely an allegation.  Every criminal defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty, and the burden to prove forfeitability in a civil forfeiture proceeding is upon the government.

In announcing the indictment, U.S. Attorney Liu commended the work of those who investigated the case from HSI and FBI. They also expressed appreciation for the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs for its assistance in this case. Finally, they acknowledged the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Faruqui and Hudak and National Security Division Trial Attorney David Lim who are handling this matter, with assistance from Paralegal Liz Swinec and Brian Rickers, and Legal Assistant Jessica McCormick.

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Author: August 16, 2019

Former Correctional Officers Sentenced For Assault Of Handcuffed Inmate At Elayn Hunt Correctional Center

Two former correctional officers at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, Louisiana, were sentenced today for their roles in assaults on a handcuffed inmate in January 2017. Adrian Almodovar III and Charles Philson III previously pleaded guilty to depriving the inmate of his constitutional rights while acting under color of law.

“The Justice Department is committed to holding correctional officers who deprive inmates of their right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment accountable to the public,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to obtain justice for victims of these atrocious crimes.”

“The vast majority of law enforcement officers maintain a high standard of conduct and perform their duties with honesty, integrity, and bravery. Law enforcement officers at every level should be held to a high standard and those who deprive citizens of their civil rights and undermine the public trust should be held accountable. I want to thank the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, the FBI, and Louisiana Office of the State Inspector General, and our staff for their efforts in this case.”

“Along with our partners, the FBI will aggressively pursue allegations wherein correctional officers abuse their position of power and authority to deny persons their constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment,” stated Acting Special Agent in Charge Andrew Anderson. “The FBI is appreciative of its partnership with the LA Department of Corrections to root out correctional officers who choose to break the law and physically abuse defenseless inmates.”

“Corrections Officers are given great authority and trust, and when they abuse that trust, it undermines the entire system,” said Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street. “Physically abusing a handcuffed inmate can never be tolerated. It was entirely appropriate that these individuals be prosecuted and punished. The Louisiana OIG will continue working these criminal cases with our law enforcement partners for as long as necessary to protect the integrity of our system.  I want to thank U.S. Attorney Brandon Fremin and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice for all their efforts on this case.”       

During his previous plea hearing, Almodovar admitted to unlawfully striking inmate J.H. on multiple occasions while J.H. was handcuffed. He also admitted to failing to intervene to stop his fellow correctional officers from using unlawful force on J.H.  Almodovar further admitted to unlawfully striking a second inmate, L.B., in the head while L.B. was handcuffed. Almodovar was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Philson previously pleaded guilty to witnessing other correctional officers using unlawful force on J.H. and failing to intervene to stop them. He was sentenced to 12 months probation.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Baton Rouge Resident Agency Office and the Louisiana Office of the State Inspector General. Trial Attorney Christopher J. Perras and Assistant United States Attorney Cal Leipold also assisted in the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Zachary Dembo of the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division.

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Author: August 15, 2019

Defendant Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Provide Material Support to ISIS

Azizjon Rakhmatov, 32, a citizen of Uzbekistan and resident of New Haven, Connecticut, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).  Today’s plea took place before U.S. District Court Judge William F. Kuntz II. 

John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, FBI, New York Field Office; and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), made the announcement.

According to court filings, Rakhmatov’s co-defendants Abdurasul Juraboev and Akhror Saidakhmetov planned to travel to Syria to fight on behalf of ISIS.  Rakhmatov and co-defendant Abror Habibov discussed providing their own money to cover Saidakhmetov’s travel expenses and to purchase a firearm for Saidakhmetov once he arrived in Syria.  Rakhmatov also agreed to collect money from others to fund Saidakhmetov’s travel.  On the day before Saidakhmetov’s scheduled departure, Rakhmatov transferred $400 into co-defendant Akmal Zakirov’s personal bank account to facilitate Saidakhmetov’s travel to and expenses in Syria. 

Juraboev, Saidakahmetov, Habibov and Zakirov have previously pleaded guilty.  Juraboev and Saidakahmetov each were sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment.  Habibov and Zakirov are awaiting sentencing.  When sentenced, Rakhmatov faces up to 15 years’ imprisonment.

Assistant United States Attorneys Douglas M. Pravda, David K. Kessler, and J. Matthew Haggans are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Steven Ward of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

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Author: August 15, 2019

Virginia Man Sentenced To 60 Months In Prison For Committing Hate Crime By Threatening Employees Of The Arab American Institute

William Patrick Syring, 61, of Arlington, Virginia, was today sentenced to 60 months in prison for threatening employees of the Arab American Institute (AAI) because of their race and national origin, threatening AAI employees because of their efforts to encourage Arab Americans to participate in political and civic life in the United States, and transmitting threats to AAI employees in interstate commerce.

“Threats aimed to intimidate individuals based on their ethnic or racial origin are despicable violations of civil rights freedoms protected by our constitution,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “The Department of Justice will continue to fight to preserve the basic rights of people to live, work, and speak in their communities without the fear of hostility based on racism.”

“Investigating hate crimes is one of the FBI’s highest criminal priorities; these hateful acts are not only an attack on the victim, but are meant to intimidate an entire community,” said Timothy R. Slater, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “This sentencing demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to holding accountable those who seek to violate the civil rights of the people of our community through violent threats.”

Evidence presented at trial established that from 2012 to 2017, Syring sent over 700 emails to AAI employees, culminating in five death threats in 2017. According to court documents, Syring previously pleaded guilty in 2008 to sending threatening emails to AAI employees. Evidence presented at trial showed that Syring used nearly identical language that he admitted were threats in 2008 as he did in 2017.

According to testimony in court, AAI employees were frightened of Syring because he had sent them death threats in the past and continued to do so over a decade later. Additionally, according to witness testimony, many AAI employees lived in fear that Syring would follow through on his threats and physically harm them. They further testified to the toll it took on them personally and their families and loved ones.

On May 9, Syring was convicted on all 14 counts in the indictment, including seven hate crime charges and seven interstate threats charges. The case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office, and is being prosecuted by Civil Rights Division Senior Legal Counsel Mark Blumberg and Trial Attorney Nick Reddick.

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Author: August 15, 2019

Florida Man Arrested for Child-Exploitation Crimes

A Florida man was arrested today following the return of an indictment by a federal grand jury charging him with two counts of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual activity and two counts of attempted enticement of a minor to engage in unlawful sexual activity. 

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez of the Middle District of Florida and Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcements’ Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tampa made the announcement. 

According to the indictment, on March 9, 2015, and again on Feb. 23, 2016, Christopher Edwin Day, 49, of St. Petersburg, Florida, allegedly traveled in interstate and foreign commerce for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct.  In addition, starting in at least in or around December 2014, he allegedly attempted to use electronic devices to persuade two minors to engage in criminal sexual conduct.

The case is being investigated by HSI.  Trial Attorney Kyle P. Reynolds of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Candace G. Rich of the Middle District of Florida are prosecuting the case.

The charges in the indictment are only allegations.  The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

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Author: August 15, 2019

Tennessee Correctional Officer Pleads Guilty To Federal Civil Rights Offense For Beating Inmate

Nathaniel Griffin, 29, today pleaded guilty to using unlawful force on an inmate while Griffin was serving as a correctional officer with the Tennessee Department of Corrections, announced Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee D. Michael Dunavant, and FBI-Memphis Special Agent in Charge M.A. Myers.

“The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute correctional officers who violate the public’s trust by committing crimes and attempting to cover up violations of federal criminal law,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “Officer Griffin abused his power in this case, and the Department of Justice held him accountable for his unlawful actions.”

“Correctional officers must abide by and adhere to the same laws they take an oath to uphold and enforce. Instead of serving and protecting the public, this officer used physical force to violate the civil rights of an individual and will now be held accountable, vividly illustrating that no one is above the law,” said U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant.

“The FBI takes all allegations of civil rights violations seriously, and we will work tirelessly alongside our law enforcement partners to preserve the integrity of the criminal justice system,” said M.A. Myers, Special Agent in Charge of the Memphis Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  “Those who choose to ignore the oath they took to protect and serve will be investigated and brought to justice.”

On or about Feb. 1, Griffin and fellow correctional officers T.P., J.Y., C.M., and C.S. entered the cell of R.T., an inmate in the mental health unit at the Northwest County Correctional Complex in Tiptonville, Tennessee. Inmate R.T. spit and then remained seated on a bench, with his arms by his sides.

Correctional officer J.Y. looked in the direction of the surveillance camera in the cell and said, “Cover the camera.” Officer C.S. then covered the camera with his hand. When the camera was covered, Griffin saw inmate R.T. sitting with his arms by his side.  Correctional Officer J.Y. then repeatedly punched R.T. Griffin estimated that Officer J.Y. hit R.T. between 20-30 times. At some point, Officer J.Y. stopped hitting R.T., looked back at Officer T.P., and said, “Get you some.” Officer T.P. then stepped up and punched R.T. between four to five times. 

During the assault by the officers, inmate R.T. sat on the bench and covered his face and head with his hands. Griffin knew that punching R.T. was unlawful, but he did not step in to stop it.  Officers T.M., C.S., and C.M. were in a position to watch as J.Y. and T.P. punched inmate R.T., but none of them attempted to stop the officers from hitting R.T.

Griffin heard an officer in the cell ask for paper towels. Correctional Officer C.M. handed the towels to Griffin. Griffin wet them in the sink, and handed them to Officer C.S. Griffin knew when they wet the towels, they would be used to cover the camera. After R.T. was punched by J.Y. and T.P., Griffin observed that R.T. was bleeding. 

After Officers J.Y. and T.P. stopped punching R.T., the inmate spit on Griffin’s chest and arm.  Griffin punched R.T. multiple times. Griffin then left the cell.

Outside of the cell, Griffin spoke with T.P., J.Y., and Corporal T.M.  Corporal T.M., who was the ranking officer, told the other officers that they should come up with a false cover story about what happened to R.T.  Griffin understood that any subsequent discussion of the incident would not include that he and other officers had punched R.T. 

Griffin admitted in today’s guilty plea that he violated 18 U.S.C. § 242 when he repeatedly punched and injured inmate R.T. without legal justification. The maximum penalty for this civil rights offense is 10 years imprisonment. Sentencing is set for Nov. 13. 

This case was investigated by the Memphis Division of the FBI with the support of the Tennessee Department of Corrections, and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Rebekah J. Bailey of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant United States Attorney David Pritchard of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee.

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Author: August 15, 2019

Former Lake Charles Police Officer Pleads Guilty To Using Excessive Force

Robert Hammac, 45, a former officer of the Lake Charles Police Department, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge James D. Cain, Jr., for using excessive force against an arrestee, announced Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph for the Western District of Louisiana, and FBI’s New Orleans Field Office Acting Special Agent in Charge Andrew Anderson.   

Hammac pleaded guilty to a single count of deprivation of rights under color of law, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242.  According to documents filed today, Hammac was involved in a vehicle pursuit of G.T. on May 8, 2017, for several miles. The car was brought to a stop, and G.T. raised his hands in the air in a manner indicating surrender. Other officers then ordered G.T. out of the car and began pulling him out of the car. Hammac ran to the front passenger side door, opened it, grabbed G.T. before he could exit, pulled him back into the car, and repeatedly punched G.T.’s head with a closed fist. The victim was not resisting in any way or posing a threat.

“Law enforcement officers must uphold and defend the constitution,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “When an officer abuses their power, the public’s trust in law enforcement is compromised. The Department of Justice will continue to hold such officers accountable under the law.”

“Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe,” said U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph. “The vast majority of law enforcement officers perform their difficult and dangerous duties with integrity and courage.  However, law enforcement officers who betray the badge and the public’s trust, as the defendant did here, also dishonor their profession and their fellow officers.  This behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the Western District of Louisiana.”

“Police officers respond to challenging and dynamic situations every day,” stated FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Andrew Anderson. “They are trained to maintain professionalism and adhere to standards of conduct in any situation. In this instance, the officer did not apply his training and violated the constitutional rights of the victim. Instances such as this are unacceptable and will continue to be high priority investigations of the FBI.”

Hammac faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a $250,000 fine. The court set sentencing for Nov. 14.

The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamilla Bynog of the Western District of Louisiana and Trial Attorney Mary J. Hahn of the Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case.

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Author: August 15, 2019

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan Delivers Remarks at the Third International Forensic Science Symposium

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good morning.  It is my pleasure to join the Third International Forensic Science Symposium here in Mexico City and address such a distinguished and accomplished group of forensic scientists, lab directors, quality managers, and prosecutors from across Mexico and throughout the region.

I had the honor of speaking at this event a year ago, and am thrilled to join you again today.  Last year, I praised the enormous successes that had been achieved by laboratories in Mexico in the field of forensic science.  And today, I continued to be impressed by the ongoing, landmark achievements that have occurred over the past 12 months.  Once again, this symposium has provided a forum for us to build on those successes by sharing experiences, gaining deeper insight, and finding common solutions to challenges in forensic science.

At the outset, I would like to thank the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, or INL, for supporting today’s event.  On behalf of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, we greatly appreciate the commitment to investing in forensic science as part of the Merida Initiative from Assistant Secretary of State Kirsten Madison, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State James Walsh, and of course INL-Mexico’s Acting Director Virginia Kent, who just spoke.  Without the vision and support from INL, this symposium – as well as the great progress we have made and will continue to make – would not be possible.  Thank you, Acting Director Kent and your colleagues, for your support, cooperation, and coordination.

I also am proud to acknowledge our Mexican colleagues for their extraordinary commitment and collaboration in these efforts.  There are too many critical and dedicated partners here to mention, but I want to particularly recognize:

  • Maestro Felipe de Jesús Gallo Gutiérrez, the Head of the Office for the Coordination of Investigative Methods of the Fiscalía General de la República (FGR); and
     
  • Maestro Anselmo Apodaca, the Head of the Coordination of Forensic Laboratories in the Office of the Coordination of Investigative Methods of the FGR.

Thank you both for your continued leadership in achieving excellence in forensic science.

In 2019, the public safety threats that we face grow increasingly complex every day.  Transnational crime is more pervasive than ever.  The trafficking of drugs, arms, people, and money touches every corner of society, and takes far too many lives on both sides of the border.  In the face of these realities, those of us who investigate and prosecute violent crimes have challenging jobs.  Jobs that can be draining. Jobs that can be frustrating.  Jobs that take us away from our families, that cause us to miss dinners, birthday parties, and soccer practices.

But there are a few things that drive us to stay focused on our mission.  Identifying and bringing to justice violent offenders.  Making our societies safer.  Protecting the most vulnerable members of our society – our children, the elderly – from becoming victims of future crimes.  Identifying missing victims of violent crimes, and returning them to their anguished families. This is what makes our work so important and meaningful, and also why advances in forensic science and something like a comprehensive and effective national criminal DNA database are so essential.

The United States – through the FBI – has been working with the Fiscalía General de la República (FGR) to donate the most recent version of our DNA database software, known as the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS.  The term CODIS generally refers to our national DNA index of samples from convicted offenders, arrestees, crime scenes, unidentified human remains, missing persons, and relatives of missing persons, which are contributed by our participating federal, state, and local forensic laboratories.  CODIS has been invaluable to U.S. law enforcement in helping us track down offenders, solve crimes that otherwise might remain unsolved, and identify bodily remains of persons who could not otherwise be identified.

The impact of forensic databases in the United States has been significant.  Violent crime in the United States generally has been falling, including in some parts of the country to levels half what they were 25 years ago.  While a number of factors have contributed to this decline, there can be no doubt that forensic science and our criminal forensic databases have made our communities safer.

Let me share some numbers.  Since its inception, CODIS has grown to include over 17 million known profiles and over 950,000 crime scene profiles.  As of June 2019, the CODIS program has produced over 472,000 hits assisting in more than 461,000 investigations.  That is an astounding number. Over 461,000 investigations have been aided.  Can you imagine the impact that has had on not just solving crime, but also on deterring and preventing crime?

And let me say a few words about crime prevention.  When we arrest and convict violent offenders, we effectively neutralize them and limit their ability to victimize the innocent.  We take these criminals off the grid, and make society safer.  A U.S. economist has studied the impact of CODIS and concluded that each profile added to the national offender database saves between $1,566 and $19,945 in prevented crime.  That translates into an estimated $1.2 billion in annual savings.

Forensic databases – and ultimately the efforts of forensic scientists like many of those here – not only help bring criminals to justice, they prevent crime and save lives.  But any database is only as good as the information that is uploaded into the system.

That is why I am so pleased to see the successful efforts in Mexico to develop quality management systems and, ultimately, to achieve international accreditation.  Each of the 72 labs accredited in Mexico – in 12 States and the FGR – can now utilize the seal from the ANSI National Accreditation Board, signifying that they conform to a specific international level of quality.  This means, in courts across Mexico, competent scientists, using scientifically validated methods, calibrated and maintained equipment, and documented procedures are providing reliable testimony that is helping to convict the guilty or free the falsely accused.

I also encourage our Department of Justice team at ICITAP and leadership within the Mexican state and federal forensic labs to continually look for ways to increase efficiency and productivity.  It is not enough to produce reliable results.  To most effectively support investigations and prevent future crimes, forensic laboratories must produce not only reliable results but also timely assistance.

I also wish to mention a significant recognition.  ICITAP and forensic labs in the State of Puebla, Hidalgo, and Nuevo Leon recently were visited by evaluators from the American Society of Crime Lab Directors, or ASCLD.  In a letter addressed to ASCLD membership, ASCLD President Brooke Arnone, who I understand spoke with you on Monday, remarked that the evaluators “learned a lot and were greatly impressed with the labs in Mexico and their incredible progress to meet accreditation standards.”  She observed that this “work and investment will pay dividends for many years” and encouraged other ASCLD members to host our Latin American colleagues in their labs.  That kind of international, cross-border cooperation makes the world smaller, and a smaller world provides little space for criminals to hide.

In parting, let me recognize the work of your laboratories through a few examples of how you have made a difference.

In July of last year, a nine-year-old girl went missing in Zacatecas.  An Amber Alert was issued and a few days later a tragic discovery was made when the remains of a young girl were found nearby.  Within 72 hours, a team of forensic experts, investigators, and prosecutors had provided the State with enough evidence, including crime scene DNA, to arrest an individual who is now awaiting trial.

In May of 2017, several men in possession of six firearms were detained by law enforcement in Baja California Sur.  According to media reports, through the use of a ballistics database, four of the seized weapons were linked to at least nine homicides in Baja California Sur and one in Sinaloa.  In addition, three of the men were linked to the murder of journalist Ricardo Maximino Palacios only a month earlier.  In June of this year, due in part to that forensic evidence, those three men, as well as a fourth accomplice, were sentenced to over 18 years in prison for their role in the murder of Mr. Palacios.  Thanks to the extraordinary work of police, the forensic laboratory, and prosecutors, these deadly weapons were taken off the street and murderers were brought to justice.

These are just a couple of the many examples I have heard of the impressive forensic-related work that happens across Mexico.  It is important for your citizens to also hear about your successes. 

Public trust in our work is vital.  The progress the Mexican laboratories are making on international accreditation will assure the public of the reliability of your work and that your findings are grounded in science.  At the same time, the improved integrity resulting from international accreditation will enable strong, confident, and clearly understood testimony in the courtroom.

I therefore urge the forensic leaders here today to become effective communicators to the citizens of your States and countries.  Tell them about the advances being made toward the accreditation of laboratories and forensic services throughout the region.  These are significant accomplishments, and you should be proud of them.

Lastly, I want to thank you and your staff for the work that you do on a daily basis.  As I said before, our work can take a toll.  The constant flow of new cases into your laboratory may make you wonder, “Am I really making a difference?”  I assure you that your work does.  It makes a difference to the victims – and to their families, friends, and loved ones.  It makes a difference to society.  It makes a difference to the potential victims of crimes that were prevented.  Society looks to you – the officers, investigators, and prosecutors – to provide justice and closure.

Thank you for inviting me to be here with you today.  Once again, I commend our U.S. Embassy partners and our Mexican counterparts here and across the country on your significant accomplishments to date, and I wish you all the best in your continued strides toward regional excellence in forensic science.  Thank you.

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Author: August 14, 2019

Justice Department Commends Federal Communications Commission on its Important Step Toward Approving the T-Mobile/Sprint Transaction and Divestiture to Dish

Chairman Ajit Pai of the Federal Communications Commission announced today that his office has circulated a draft order approving the combination of T-Mobile and Sprint along with the divestiture of Sprint’s prepaid business to Dish Network Corp.  Just as the Department determined last month, the FCC’s draft order concludes that the merger and divestiture should move forward.  As the FCC explained, the circulation of the draft order means that the matter is now ready for consideration by the full Commission.

“I commend the FCC on passing this important milestone toward approval of the merger and divestiture, and congratulate them on completing their thorough review and analysis,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.  “We are now one step closer to strengthening competition for high-quality 5G networks that will benefit American consumers nationwide.” 

The Department’s Antitrust Division, along with the offices of five state Attorneys General (Plaintiff States), filed a civil antitrust lawsuit on July 26 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to block the proposed transaction.  At the same time, the Department and the Plaintiff States filed a proposed settlement that, if approved by the court, would resolve the Department’s and the Plaintiff States’ competitive concerns. The participating state Attorneys General offices represent Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.

Under the terms of the proposed settlement, T-Mobile and Sprint must divest Sprint’s prepaid business, including Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Sprint prepaid, to Dish Network Corp., a Colorado-based satellite television provider.  The proposed settlement also provides for the divestiture of certain spectrum assets to Dish.  Additionally, T-Mobile and Sprint must make available to Dish at least 20,000 cell sites and hundreds of retail locations.  T-Mobile must also provide Dish with robust access to the T-Mobile network for a period of seven years while Dish builds out its own 5G network.

T-Mobile US Inc. is a Delaware corporation headquartered in Bellevue, Washington.  In 2018, T-Mobile posted revenues of more than $43 billion.  Deutsche Telekom AG, a German corporation headquartered in Bonn, Germany, is the controlling shareholder of T-Mobile US Inc. 

Sprint Corporation is a Delaware corporation headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas.  In 2018, its posted revenue was over $32 billion.  Sprint is controlled by SoftBank Group Corp., a Japanese Corporation headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.

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Author: August 14, 2019