Monday, February 24th, 2014 — Good Afternoon, Stay Safe
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Disgrunted and Forced to Retire: Sue Everybody
Retired, Former 83rd PDS 1st Grader James Griffin Takes Legal Action Against: I.A.B. Chief Joseph Reznick, Retired Capt. Sean Crowley, 105th Squad Commander Michael Miltenberg and Detectives Endowment Association's Anthony Cardinale
NYPD's chief internal investigator called whistleblower a 'rat': lawsuit
Assistant Chief Joseph Reznick, the police department's new top cop in Internal Affairs, lobbed the R-word at now-retired first-grade Det. James Griffin, who claims he suffered retaliation for reporting his colleagues when they pressured him to help derail an internal probe.
By John Marzulli — Monday, February 24th, 2014 'The New York Daily News'
The NYPD's new chief of Internal Affairs allegedly referred to a detective as a "rat" for reporting police misconduct, the Daily News has learned.
The bombshell charge against
Assistant Chief ('Chief of I.A.B.') Joseph Reznick is part of a federal lawsuit filed by retired first-grade Det. James Griffin, who claims he suffered retaliation for blowing the whistle on his 83rd Precinct colleagues when they pressured him to help thwart an internal investigation.
Another retired NYPD detective, who is not a party in the suit, submitted a sworn affidavit also stating Griffin was openly disparaged as a rat by colleagues, a lieutenant and Reznick.
"On at least one occasion while I was in the office of then-Deputy Chief Joseph Reznick during a discussion concerning the amount of overtime being worked by detectives at Queens Cold Case Squad, Reznick referred to Mr. Griffin as a 'rat,'" retired Det. Michael Carrano said in the May 6, 2013, affidavit obtained by The News.
Reznick, a 40-year-veteran of the force, was tapped by Police Commissioner William Bratton to be the department's top watchdog. As the head of IAB, he oversees investigations of criminality and serious misconduct by cops, and depends on officers to report wrongdoing. He also leads a confidential squad of cops known as field associates who function as the eyes and ears of the bureau out in the field.
Reznick did not respond to a request for comment. The NYPD declined to comment on the case because it's an active lawsuit.
A high ranking police official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Reznick was vetted before he was selected for IAB.
"His integrity was not questioned," the official said. "Joe Reznick was selected for his vast experience and his well-recognized investigative capabilities, which are essential to IAB."
The NYPD's new top cop wants to shift IAB's focus towards rooting out corruption and serious misbehavior, instead of minor rule-breaking, the official said.
Legendary NYPD whistleblower Frank Serpico said the allegation that Reznick used the R-word is disturbing.
"If these are the facts, I don't know if anybody would feel comfortable coming forward with information," Serpico said. "I wouldn't recommend anyone coming forward if they valued their career."
"The system, in my opinion, has never changed," Serpico added. "Serpico was a rat because Serpico did what you're not supposed to do — 'You don't tell on another cop.'"
Reznick was deposed under oath by Griffin's lawyers in 2012 before the affidavit was filed in Brooklyn Federal Court. In his deposition, Reznick claimed that when Griffin arrived in the cold case squad in 2006 he knew nothing about the detective's prior problems at the 83d Precinct, where the word "RAT" had been scrawled on his locker.
Griffin accused the chief of joining in the retaliation by shutting down his overtime, and by blocking his requests to attend specialized training courses and transfer to another command.
Reznick has denied those allegations.
Retired Capt. Sean Crowley, who is also being sued, testified in his deposition that he curtailed Griffin's overtime after discussing the issue with Reznick, but insisted the reason was Griffin had been putting in too many hours without solving any cold cases.
Griffin had made more than 1,000 arrests before he was assigned to the cold case squad, where he claims he was saddled with "unsolvable" cases.
Griffin claims he tried several times to discuss the overtime issue with Reznick over the phone but the chief hung up on him repeatedly.
"That's not my character ... I don't abruptly hang up on nobody," Reznick testified at the deposition.
Lawyers for Griffin and the city held talks to settle the suit last week and are scheduled to meet again April 1, according to court documents.
Griffin's lawyer Alexander Coleman said Reznick's appointment to IAB is filled with irony.
"Here you have someone being considered to run the agency that investigates police officer misconduct, while at least in Mr. Griffin's case there is overwhelming evidence in the record that this same person labeled Mr. Griffin a rat and played a large part in ruining his career for having the courage to report fellow officer misconduct," Coleman said.
Griffin was hounded out of the 83d Precinct after he had refused to take the fall for Brooklyn Det. Michael O'Keefe, who had failed to interview the victim of an assault before he died, the suit claims.
Reznick testified that he knew O'Keefe because they both worked in the 34th Precinct, where O'Keefe was involved in a justified but controversial 1991 shooting of a drug dealer that triggered rioting in Washington Heights.
Griffin is suing the city, Reznick, Crowley, former 105th Precinct squad commander Michael Miltenberg and detectives' union official Anthony Cardinale.
'One Police Plaza'
Kelly's Detail: The Daily Almost Dozen
By: Leonard Levitt – Monday, February 24th, 2014 'NYPD Confidential.Com'
(Op-Ed / Commentary)
Just under a dozen detectives have been assigned to protect former police commissioner Ray Kelly since he left office last month.
Police sources say they are first- and second-grade detectives, which means the estimated annual cost to city taxpayers is somewhere between $1 million and $1.5 million.
The silver lining is that Kelly has fewer detectives on his 10-person security detail than did former mayor Rudy Giuliani when he left office in 2002. Giuliani's detail — which lasted a year and a half — protected not just him but his ex-wife, Donna Hanover; his children, Andrew and Caroline; his mother, Helen; and his then-girlfriend Judith Nathan, whom Rudy subsequently married.
Giuliani's detail even accompanied him to Mexico City, where his firm, Giuliani Partners, was the recipient of a $4.3 million consulting contract to reduce crime.
The former mayor also provided his favorite police commissioner, Howard Safir, with a security detail when Safir left office in 2000.
Safir, whom Giuliani called "the greatest police commissioner" in city history, succeeded Bill Bratton in his first tour as police commissioner. Giuliani wanted to make Safir feel and seem better than Bratton, whom Giuliani had dismissed with no credible explanation.
At the time, Giuliani said he provided protection to Safir because of threats to his life. Top police officials said at the time there were no credible threats.
Safir's detail lasted 16 months and consisted of over a dozen detectives. Their primary function, it turned out, was to deliver Safir's laundry.
Contrary to popular opinion, Intelligence Division chiefs say that police protection has less to do with security than with politics.
"With public officials, it comes with the territory," said a former Intelligence Division chief who asked for anonymity. "If they never had a threat they still get it [protection]."
Another former Intelligence Chief, Danny Oates, now the chief of police in Aurora, Col., said in 2002 that he did not recall doing a formal threat assessment for Safir or any other city employee who was subsequently provided with a detail.
"The process wasn't formalized," he said then.
Until Michael Bloomberg became mayor, police sources said that the only public official in recent years to have received credible threats warranting protection was neither a mayor nor a police commissioner but former State Supreme Court Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder of Manhattan, whose life was threatened by a drug gang over whose trial she presided.
When he became commissioner, Kelly provided a one-man detective detail for Guy Molinari, the former Staten Island borough president and a longtime Kelly friend. In 1993, in Kelly's first tour as police commissioner, he had sought Molinari's help to arrange an interview with Giuliani to keep his job.
Molinari's detail lasted only four months, until April, 2002. It ended the day this column, which then appeared in Newsday, asked both Molinari and Michael O'Looney, Kelly's spokesman at the time, why Molinari needed protection. [See NYPD Confidential, Apr. 29, 2002.]
Large-size details like those providing security for Giuliani, Safir or Kelly appear to be a recent phenomenon.
Ed Koch had a six-member detail after leaving office, but the protection was withdrawn after six months and some $180,000 in public expense.
The detail for David Dinkins consisted of a single detective driver.
When Giuliani fired Kelly in 1994, Kelly was also provided with a single detective who served as his driver for just a few months.
When Giuliani forced out Bratton in 1996, Bratton got nothing. Nada.
In 2002 when Michael Bloomberg became mayor and Giuliani was viewed as the hero of 9/11, Bloomberg ordered Kelly, then police commissioner, to provide the former mayor with a permanent police detail.
O'Looney justified the department's protection of Giuliani, saying: "The mayor remains one of the highest-profile people in the country and with that come security concerns for him and those close to him."
Supposedly, the decision to provide a security detail is made by the Intelligence Division's Threat Assessment Unit. How they come to their decisions is anybody's guess.
While the department would not specify or enumerate the threats against Kelly, a high-ranking official pointed out that the most recent threats against Kelly related less to terrorism than over Stop and Frisk, which received much publicity during his last year in office.
Recently, Kelly — who has a second home in Deerfield Beach, Florida — made two speeches in Sarasota, Florida, substituting for CBS reporter Lara Logan. It's unclear if his detail accompanied him.
Whether the threats against him are serious or as frivolous as those against Giuliani and Safir is also unclear.
In 2006 Kelly barred this reporter from Police Plaza, placing Your Humble Servant's mug shot at Police Plaza's security desk, alongside those of people who had threatened Kelly's life.
NO BIG DEAL – AGAIN. Commissioner Bratton said last week, "I was not overly concerned by what I saw" after Mayor Bill de Blasio pointed to his NYPD security detail when it was caught speeding and blowing through a couple of stop signs in Queens by a WCBS-TV camera crew.
It was the second embarrassing incident involving de Blasio and the NYPD in just over two weeks.
Two weeks ago, de Blasio contacted a deputy chief without Bratton's knowledge to inquire about the arrest of a de Blasio political supporter, Bishop Orlando Findlayter.
Bratton called de Blasio's call to the deputy chief instead of to him: "No big deal." When the deputy chief inquired, the bishop had already been released, police said.
Just as police spokesman Steve Davis said the department would not question the decision by 67th precinct commander Kenneth Lehr to release the bishop, Bratton said he would not question the police officer assigned to drive de Blasio.
The city's media, however, citing a speech by de Blasio two days earlier that detailed a city-wide initiative to rein in traffic fatalities, went hog wild.
Going especially wild was Fox News's Greg Kelly, who cited de Blasio's "hypocrisy" in having just made traffic safety an issue.
Nowhere did Greg mention that he is the son of the outgoing police commissioner whom de Blasio fired.
But driving wildly seems to be standard operating procedure for some of the city's biggest machers.
Back in 2004, Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence David Cohen was caught speeding up the West Side Highway, lights and sirens blazing, by none other than Mayor Bloomberg. Bloomberg notified the police.
Paul Browne, who succeeded O'Looney as Kelly's spokesman and is known to readers of this column as "Mr. Truth," said at the time that Cohen's speeding was authorized. [See NYPD Confidential, June 18, 2004.]
NYPD Intel and Counterterrorism's Surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey (Pro & Con)
Monday, February 24th, 2014 'The Newark Star-Ledger' Editorial:
NYPD spies get a pass
Religious freedom? Free press? Right to assemble? Strikes one, two and three.
In ruling that the New York Police Department's insidious post-9/11 surveillance of New Jersey Muslims did not unconstitutionally discriminate against its targets, U.S. District Judge William Martini ran roughshod over no fewer than half of our First Amendment freedoms.
On Friday, Martini dismissed a civil rights lawsuit filed in 2012 by Muslims who say they were caught up in the cops' spy-ops for no reason other than how they pray. They filed suit after the Associated Press reported that New York City police followed, photographed and cataloged people in Muslim neighborhoods in Newark, Paterson and beyond.
In his decision, the judge said the Muslim plaintiffs couldn't prove that's why they were targeted — then proceeded to defend the NYPD's tactics: "The police could not have monitored New Jersey for Muslim terrorist activities," Martini wrote, "without monitoring the Muslim community itself."
In Newark's case, "monitoring the Muslim community" meant Cold War-style surveillance of Muslim-friendly shops, restaurants, mosques and worshipers.
Instead of faulting the NYPD's secret Muslim dragnet, Martini remarkably blamed the media — specifically, the AP reporters who won a 2012 Pulitzer Prize for exposing the top-secret program:
"The Associated Press covertly obtained the materials and published them without authorization," Martini wrote, ignoring the media's constitutional role. "Thus the injury, if any existed, is not fairly traceable to the city."
Translation: It's not the cops' fault for spying on you; it's the media's fault for telling you you're being spied on. If you don't know about it, what's the harm?
Here's all we need to know about the NYPD's cloak-and-dagger Muslim mission: No part of the covert operation was prompted by a specific allegation and, after years of snooping, the NYPD never turned up a single terror lead. Not one.
Rather than protecting New Jersey minority communities from the NYPD's authoritarian tactics, the court's ruling deepens the divide between Muslim America and the sadly persistent segment of the population that equates Islam with terror.
The NYPD shouldn't be criticized for developing intelligence for use in terror investigations. But it must be condemned for its blanket suspicions and surreptitious surveillance of an entire community — based solely on how its people pray.
This misguided mission's biggest accomplishment: alienating Muslim-Americans who should be able to look to police for protection, not persecution.
From a sympathetic perspective, the public's post-9/11 fears were understandable. Muslim terrorists carried out those coordinated attacks. But injustice based on those fears shouldn't find support among police and the courts.
Discrimination based on race and religion is, unfortunately, part of American history — though it's not something that history looks kindly upon. Just as the appellate courts should not look kindly on this court ruling.
Monday, February 24th, 2014 'The New York Post' Editorial:
Ray was right
The NYPD and its former boss, Ray Kelly, got two big wins in their war on terror last week. Let's hope their critics draw appropriate lessons.
In Newark, US District Judge William Martini tossed a lawsuit against the NYPD's surveillance of Muslim communities. It was a clear-cut vindication of the cops and their anti-terror programs.
Martini rejected claims that the NYPD practiced discrimination in its surveillance of Newark mosques: "The plaintiffs in this case," he wrote, "have not alleged facts from which it can be plausibly inferred that they were targeted solely because of their religion . . . The more likely explanation for the surveillance was a desire to locate budding terrorist conspiracies."
In short, the cops were doing essential work — checking places that could harbor individuals wishing to do harm to the city.
So much for slurs of bias against the department.
The day before Martini's decision, the NYPD scored another victory: Word came that José Pimentel (a k a Muhammad Yusuf) had pleaded guilty to plotting to bomb the city. As a result, he faces 16 years in prison when sentenced next month.
The Dominican-born Pimentel is one more home-grown terrorist. Despite being raised in Manhattan, he turned against his adopted home in the name of jihad.
The FBI pooh-poohed the case, and Pimentel's lawyers initially claimed that the NYPD's use of a questionable informant cast doubt on the likelihood of a conviction. Nonetheless, Manhattan DA Cy Vance, pressed ahead — and Pimentel took the plea before going to trial.
One other note: Martini's verdict is a repudiation of the Associated Press' inflammatory and misleading series on NYPD Muslim "spying," which won it a Pulitzer.
Perhap the AP should return the prize.
As a candidate, Bill de Blasio vowed to rein in NYPD surveillance practices. Let's hope the department's two-fisted court vindication leads him to rethink that approach.
Monday, February 24th, 2014 'The New York Daily News' Editorial:
Looking through the Glass
The NYPD's visionary experiment with cutting-edge technology
The NYPD is testing a potentially breakthrough policing tool that could have the side benefit of improving cops' interactions with the communities they serve.
The tech is Google Glass, interactive eyewear that gives officers the ability to record audio and video from their point of view and get information fed into their fields of vision.
The NYPD is one of two departments in the nation known to have tested Glass, on a very small scale. There is no doubt that Glass or something like it represents the future of law enforcement.
Patrol cars in jurisdictions elsewhere across the country already have dashboard cameras that routinely record interactions between cops and suspects. As an outgrowth of the federal stop-and-frisk court case, the NYPD is expected to test equipping officers with wearable cameras.
The devices would record events from the most important point of view: that of the working cop. Heroism would be documented, along with run-of-the-mill police work, abuses and mistakes.
Glass would take standard wearable cameras to a new level, because it's actually a wearable computer. The possibilities are endless when the hardware is paired with software that may someday rival the iPhone's.
Imagine cops being able to get a translation of almost any language on the fly, retrieve crime reports instantaneously or see the layout of a building before going in.
So far, so good. But now imagine that Glass could identify you simply by scanning your face and pull up data about you.
While none of this will happen tomorrow, the NYPD is wise to wrestle with the powers and privacy concerns raised by the technology.
A running cop's-eye-view of what's happening on the street is one thing; video taken inside the home of someone who has done nothing wrong is quite another.
For now, if some officers are going to wear cameras, they must not be made to feel as though they're being infantilized, forced to wear electronic collars that will enable supervisors and the public to second-guess their every move.
It's uncharted territory, with all the promise and peril that implies.
IAB Tow: Now Enthusiastically Towing FBI Vehicles
In New York's Strictest No-Parking Zones, Not Even the F.B.I. Is Exempt
By JOSEPH GOLDSTEINFEB — Monday, February 24th, 2014 'The New York Times'
At the Federal Bureau of Investigation's counterterrorism compound in the Chelsea neighborhood, the urgent announcement sends special agents rushing to the streets.
Has a secret terrorist cell been uncovered? A trove of bomb-making materials, perhaps?
The warning, it turns out, often concerns a matter far more mundane — even as it is universally alarming:
"If you're parked on the south side of 18th Street, they're towing cars."
For decades, the F.B.I.'s vehicles were off limits to New York City tow trucks, given the bureau's authority. But over the last few years, the Police Department has towed hundreds of cars belonging to this and other governmental agencies. Not even police vehicles are exempt.
The cause of all this is a small towing unit of the department's Internal Affairs Bureau, charged with enforcing certain parking violations against government vehicles that might otherwise enjoy some latitude.
It does not matter if the offending car is a Ford Crown Victoria equipped with antennas from the hood to the trunk, or has a federal government placard on the dashboard. The only thing that matters is whether the vehicle is parked in a no-standing zone in Manhattan; if so, the Vehicle Enforcement Unit will tow it — no questions asked.
In 2013, the unit towed 1,855 vehicles that were illegally parked with a plaque displayed in the window, according to statistics provided by the Police Department. Federal vehicles accounted for 311 of them; 361 were Police Department vehicles, and 242 belonged to the Fire Department.
No fines are typically paid, but dealing with the tows is nonetheless a time-consuming nuisance. Agents must first go to Police Headquarters in Lower Manhattan to assert that the vehicles were being used on official business, and then go to the tow pound to retrieve the vehicles.
"Technically, they were good tows," said George Venizelos, the head of the F.B.I.'s office in New York. Mr. Venizelos said that the towing had "calmed down" in recent months, and that he did not believe they were "harassment tows."
Nonetheless, having a vehicle towed can often take four hours or more of an F.B.I. agent's time, distract several police officers from their regular duties and keep the unit from generating tow-related revenue for the city.
At Police Headquarters on a recent morning, two F.B.I. agents showed up around the same time, trying to find their towed cars. They carried form letters seeking the release of their vehicles.
"This letter is to certify that said vehicle was being used in furtherance of official F.B.I. business," one document said. "A valid police parking plaque was displayed in the vehicle."
The letter noted that the vehicle had been towed during the workday, adding, "It would be appreciated if your office would release said vehicle."
A police officer appeared sympathetic, telling the agents that on some days, as many as seven F.B.I. agents might come looking for their car.
"Why do they do it? Who knows," the officer said of the towing division. "It's not just you," he said to the agents. "It happens to us, too."
A police spokeswoman, Deputy Chief Kim Y. Royster, said: "We don't just tow N.Y.P.D. vehicles. We tow vehicles from all agencies, the Fire Department and federal agencies, too."
Chief Royster said the tows were for "safety hazard violations" that included being parked in bus stops, no-standing zones and elsewhere that parking was prohibited.
It is unclear whether the practice will continue under the new police commissioner, William J. Bratton. A senior police official said the commissioner was reviewing whether to disband Internal Affairs units that were devoted to pursuing low-level misconduct, a category that presumably includes parking abuses.
The Police Department's one-tow-fits-all policy can be traced to 2008, when an Internal Affairs Bureau sergeant was assigned to ride along with tow-truck operators to make good on Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's pledge to cut down on illegal parking by city employees.
The goal was to crack down on forged placards and to catch city employees improperly using their placards while off duty. But the units also towed unmarked detective squad cars that were illegally parked, even if the detectives were pursuing criminals or attending court hearings.
"It was the most antipolice thing you could imagine," a former Internal Affairs officer in the unit said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Over time, tow-truck operators and Internal Affairs investigators who resented the directive began shying away from towing police vehicles and issuing tickets. Instead, they began to focus on illegally parked vehicles used by federal agents — a significant change in practice and policy.
"They started feeling funny about issuing summonses to their co-workers," said one veteran tow-truck operator who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "But nobody else gets a free ride."
"If the placard says N.Y.P.D. 42nd Precinct, they'll say, 'Let's leave that alone,' " said the tow-truck operator, referring to the Internal Affairs sergeant. "But if there is an F.B.I. placard, they'll say 'grab this guy.' "
In the past, if traffic enforcement agents came across federal government cars that were illegally parked, they would normally issue summonses and not tow the vehicles. The ticket would be paid either by the agent or by the government, depending on the circumstances.
"We wouldn't touch them," Joseph Puleo, the president of the union that represents tow-truck drivers, said of federal agents' cars. "You just kept going, because you don't know what they're doing." (Mr. Puleo is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the city, accusing the Police Department of punishing tow-truck drivers for not meeting quotas.)
Special agents in New York generally receive a car from the federal government, often a Ford or a Chevrolet, for round-the-clock use. Through a longstanding agreement, the Police Department issues parking placards to each agent: They come with considerable fine print and only limited parking privileges. They are not to be used to park in no-standing or no-stopping zones, in crosswalks or at bus stops. Nor are they to be used in the garment district during specified hours, among other limitations.
"It's only been in the last two years where they've been actually towing the vehicles," said Jon Adler, the president of the National Law Enforcement Officers Association.
Mr. Adler, who represents federal agents across the country, said that only in New York did the local authorities make a point of towing cars belonging to the federal government.
"This issue unfortunately is a recurring issue in New York City," he said.
Skell and Embarrassment: Bernard Kerik
Kerik, Out of Prison and More Subdued, Seeks to Rebuild His Reputation
By COREY KILGANNON — Monday, February 24th, 2014 'The New York Times'
The burly Bernard B. Kerik of old may not have recognized the newer, slimmed-down version who showed up to speak to an impressionable group of aspiring police officers in Queens on Saturday morning.
This Mr. Kerik was subdued, clean-shaven: not exactly the hard-bitten law-and-order man whose cocksure approach fueled an unlikely rise from beat cop to corrections and then police commissioner, jet-set consultant, and the Bush administration's choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security in 2004.
He showed less of the lock-'em-up bravado, the swagger during his law-enforcement career, before a series of ethics violations led him to plead guilty to fraud charges in 2009 and he spent three years in a minimum-security prison in Maryland. Released from prison in May, he is now on probation.
"Today I'm a convicted felon," Mr. Kerik, 58, told the class.
After several years avoiding interviews, Mr. Kerik is now seeking attention. He has ideas for reforming the federal criminal justice system — easing mandatory minimum sentences, for example — that are born of personal experience. He wants to rehabilitate his reputation and build a new career as a speaker and consultant.
"Will people stay away from me now? I don't know," he said outside the classroom at Queensborough Community College, adding that he would speak to a conservative group in Washington this week about reform.
His life on both sides of the prison bars gives him a singular perspective into the criminal justice and prison systems, he said.
He sneered at ruthless prosecutors, criticized overly harsh prison sentences, and urged humane behavior while arresting offenders.
His own sentence, he said, opened his eyes to deep flaws in the criminal justice system.
"Now I've seen things that, in many ways, I wish I'd realized before," he said.
Invited to speak Saturday by Evy Poumpouras, a former Secret Service agent who teaches Criminal Justice 101, Mr. Kerik, who now lives in Franklin Lakes, N.J., brought along his daughter Angelina, 11. She critiques his talks and wants to be a Central Intelligence Agency analyst.
He told students about his work as an aggressive New York City police officer, calling it "the best job you'll ever have," but also one that carries heavy scrutiny of the sort that helped uncover his financial entanglements and ethical problems.
Regarding the presumption of innocence, he said: "I got news for you — it doesn't work like that."
"The assumption of guilt is immediate in the public eye, in the press's eye and in the prosecutors' eye," Mr. Kerik said.
He charted the arc of his career: how working for Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's security detail helped him become corrections commissioner in 1998 and then police commissioner in 2000 — without a college degree, he noted. He oversaw reductions in crime and witnessed up close the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001.
He told of being sent by the Bush administration to rebuild the Iraqi police force, and being nominated to lead the Department of Homeland Security, but withdrawing because he failed to pay payroll taxes on an undocumented immigrant he had hired as a nanny.
Mr. Kerik criticized federal sentencing guidelines, and described meeting behind bars many first-time, nonviolent offenders with long prison terms — people who had essentially made a mistake, he said, and were made to pay too high a price.
Mr. Kerik insisted that he had not gone soft on crime, adding that the offenders he arrested as a police officer were mostly dangerous criminals who deserved substantial sentences.
But for the most part, he warned, prison does not rehabilitate. Rather, he said, it teaches inmates to "steal, cheat, lie, manipulate, gamble, con and fight — that's what you learn."
A student asked Mr. Kerik if he felt "grateful" for his jail term.
"In some strange way," Mr. Kerik responded, "I'm glad I got to see what I did."
But as a felon, he said, "I can't work for the government anymore."
"All the stuff I had success in doing, I'm not allowed to do," he said.
Despite his entanglements, Mr. Kerik said he felt qualified to lecture on ethics.
"Some people question the messenger, but I don't think there's a better messenger than me at this point," he said outside class.
Mr. Kerik, whose scandals were seen as embarrassing to Mr. Giuliani, said they had not spoken in years.
"We created a distance," Mr. Kerik said. "I didn't want him to be impacted" by controversy.
After the talk, students applauded and asked to take photographs with him.
"Was that good?" Mr. Kerik asked his daughter. She responded with a high-five.
Before walking out with her, he said, "My only hope is that people remember me for what I did for the city and the government."
Christie's gun stance at odds with GOP's
By HERB JACKSON — Monday, February 24th, 2014 'New Jersey.Com News' / Hackensack, N.J.
New Jersey's strict limits on carrying handguns in public could be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, putting Governor Christie on a collision course with members of his own party who see overturning the state's law as a prime opportunity to expand what the constitutional right to "bear" arms means.
Christie's administration is preparing a petition asking the court not to take an appeal of a lower court ruling that upheld New Jersey's law. That puts him at odds with those asking the court to overturn the law, including the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association, a group of Republican members of Congress and attorneys general from states with more lenient laws.
Even before the bridge scandal weakened his poll numbers, Christie's positions on gun control made him an unacceptable presidential candidate to those Republicans nationwide who base their votes primarily on Second Amendment issues.
Christie called New Jersey's laws "sensible" last year even though gun-rights advocates consider many of them unconstitutional.
Christie did upset advocates for tougher laws last year when, facing pressure from a gun-rights group in the early primary state of New Hampshire, he vetoed a ban on a type of large ammunition he previously said should be banned.
But Christie has also defended the state's tight restrictions on permits to carry handguns outside the home, which require applicants to show a "justifiable need." That term has been defined by courts as having to show an imminent threat to the applicant's life, and a study cited in court papers said just 1,195 of the state's 6.7 million adults got a permit in 2011.
The Supreme Court already expanded gun rights in 2008 by interpreting the Second Amendment as granting an individual the right to own a gun for self defense in the home. The New Jersey case, known as Drake v. Jerejian, could expand that right to include defense outside the home.
More than three dozen congressmen, including Rep. Leonard Lance of Hunterdon - who has been endorsed several times by Christie - filed a petition this month asking the high court to take the case.
So did attorneys general from 19 states, including Florida and Georgia, where Christie has been or will be campaigning and raising money this year as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
Christie has said he supports laws that are effective, and is not predisposed to support or oppose gun laws. But the Supreme Court case would highlight his administration's defense of laws that are among the most restrictive in the country.
An issue in the GOP
Recent Republican presidential candidates all were more open to relaxing gun laws than Christie is. A national Quinnipiac University poll in September found that while the public overall is evenly divided between those who favor and those who oppose stricter gun laws, Republicans generally oppose stricter laws, 65 percent to 34 percent.
Gun-rights advocates are considered an especially powerful group in states that go first in the presidential nominating process. Iowa, which holds the first caucus, changed its laws in 2010 to restrict reasons sheriffs can deny permits. In New Hampshire, a WMUR-Granite State poll taken shortly after the 2012 shootings in Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School found that a ban on large-capacity ammunition clips was opposed by 60 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of Tea Party supporters.
Challenging the state's law are several men who were denied New Jersey permits to carry handguns in public, along with the New Jersey Association of Rifle and Pistol Clubs, which is the state affiliate of the NRA.
Arguments that the handgun permit law violates the Second Amendment were rejected in federal district court and by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, with the New Jersey Attorney General's Office successfully defending the law each time.
The state's brief opposing petitions asking the court to take the case is due March 14.
If the court does take the case, Christie would have to decide how to respond to questions about it as entrenched advocates on both sides of the issue try to make their arguments in the media. If Christie were to speak out to defend New Jersey's laws, he'd rile pro-gun voters. Or he could take a lower profile, and add to the concerns of gun-control groups worried he would cave to the gun lobby on the national stage.
"We in the Second Amendment movement in New Jersey will definitely make that a factor in the upcoming election unless the governor changes his behavior," Frank Fiamingo, president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, said, referring to the 2016 presidential election. "We're coordinating our efforts with other rights-oriented groups across the nation."
When contacted for this story, Christie's office would not comment directly on the arguments before the Supreme Court, but did release comments he made earlier defending the state's right to make its own gun laws.
At a news conference last year, Christie was asked whether he wanted Congress to pass stricter laws, and he said he did not because Congress could pass laws that would nullify state restrictions, including New Jersey's limits on carrying handguns.
"I didn't also like federal legislation that said if you had a right to conceal and carry in another state you can come and conceal and carry in New Jersey," Christie said at that April news conference, referring to a bill that passed the House but was defeated in the Senate in 2009. "It would undercut everything that has been done in New Jersey historically on that issue."
Challenging the law
The challengers to the handgun law include John Drake of Sussex County, who carries large amounts of cash for his job servicing automated teller machines. Also suing is Finley Fenton, a New York resident who serves as a volunteer reserve sheriff's officer in Essex County and was turned down for a permit by Judge Edward Jerejian in Bergen County.
Whether the Supreme Court will actually consider the New Jersey challenge is not clear.
The ruling in July by the 3rd Circuit upholding New Jersey's law said the Second Amendment does not grant a right to carry a weapon outside the home. But other circuits around the country have ruled the other way, or put tougher hurdles that Legislatures would have to clear to impose restrictions.
Often, but not always, the Supreme Court takes cases when lower courts disagree.
"They don't resolve all the circuit conflicts. Sometimes they let them sit," said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond and expert on the judiciary. "It may be sufficiently important that the Supreme Court would look at it, but you just never know."
Supreme Court won't consider gun rights for ages 18-20
By Richard Wolf — Monday, February 24th, 2014 'USA Today'
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court refused Monday to consider any new cases on gun rights, including the ability of 18- to 20-year-olds to buy guns.
The decision, however, does not preclude the court eventually agreeing to consider the next big legal issue in the national debate over guns: whether the right to keep a gun at home for self-defense extends to public places.
In fact, a federal appeals court panel's divided ruling this month in a California case makes it more likely that the question of guns outside the home will be heading to the high court soon.
Ever since Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for a divided court in 2008 that the Second Amendment to the Constitution protects the right to possess guns at home, the question of public places has been looming. Many states impose restrictions, such as requiring a demonstrated need to carry a gun, whether concealed or in plain sight. Most lower courts have upheld those restrictions.
To date, the biggest split from that trend involved an Illinois law that was much more restrictive than those in other states. Its ban on carrying concealed weapons in nearly all circumstances was struck down by a 7th Circuit appeals court panel. Rather than appealing to the Supreme Court, however, the state amended the law to allow for public possession, with restrictions.
The question for the court to answer, eventually, is whether such restrictions are constitutional. The high court has batted down several petitions in recent years from firearms groups rather than answer that question. After the December 2012 school shootings in Newtown, Conn., the issue became more politically charged.
A decision earlier this month by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals changes the equation. The majority opinion struck down San Diego County's restrictions as a violation of Second Amendment rights. It may be reviewed by the full appeals court, but if the ruling holds, it would represent a clear split with other appeals court rulings that have upheld restrictions.
"The Second Amendment does require that the states permit some form of carry for self-defense outside the home," the panel said. "States may not destroy the right to bear arms in public under the guise of regulating it."
Soon, however, the court will consider a petition that presents the issue squarely. Opponents of New Jersey's restrictions on carrying guns in public have asked the justices to overrule a 3rd Circuit appeals court ruling in Drake v. Jerejian that upheld the state law. Now that the 9th Circuit has ruled the other way, either case could provide a Supreme Court showdown.
The petitions denied Monday focused on gun rights for 18- to 20-year-olds and challenges to laws that restrict interstate gun transfers.
Legal Pot Smuggled Out of Colorado and Washington
By Michael P. Tremoglie — Monday, February 24th, 2014 'MainStreet.Com'
NEW YORK (MainStreet) — According to an August 2012 report from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RHIDTA), a branch of the White House National Office of Drug Control Policy, marijuana smuggling out of Colorado to other states has increased.
The report states, "From 2005 to 2008, compared to 2009 to 2012, interdiction seizures involving Colorado marijuana quadrupled from an average per year of 52 to 242. During the same period, the average number of pounds of Colorado marijuana seized per year increased 77% from an average of 2,220 to 3,937 pounds. A total of 7,008 pounds was seized in 2012."
The RHIDTA is the Colorado office of the many HIDTA's, created by Congress in 1988, furnishing assistance to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in high drug-trafficking regions. The purpose of HIDTA is to reduce drug trafficking and production in the United States.
Medical marijuana became legal in Colorado in 2000. There must have been a problem with medical marijuana being diverted for recreational use within the state, because a new law was passed by Colorado in 2010 with the intent of preventing it.
But there was speculation among law enforcement was that medical marijuana from Colorado was also being shipped out of state. Now law enforcement is gathering data validating this.
"There has been a pretty significant increase in marijuana going to other states since it was legalized in 2009 and that is just what we catch," said Tom Gorman, RHIDTA's director.
"It goes to about 28 other states," Gorman continued. "We have another report coming out in the spring and indications are it has not slowed down and interdiction experts are saying only ten percent is caught. It is about three and a half tons going to other states."
That is a lot of grass - at current Colorado average market rates it comes to about $58,240,000. Not a bad annual earning - all of it untaxed of course.
This smuggling is not confined to Colorado. Washington, which also recently legalized recreational marijuana, has a track record of exporting its crop of medical marijuana for illegal use in other states.
Dave Rodriguez, the director of the Northwest HIDTA which includes Washington state, said that over the last several years they have been tracking outbound highway seizures of loads of marijuana. He was unequivocal about Washington's marijuana being shipped outside of the state. Indeed, the smuggling is growing.
"The amount of marijuana being shipped from Washington has increased," he stated.
Here are some anecdotes taken directly from an August 2012 RHIDTA report of cases where Colorado smugglers were caught. These anecdotes only involve Colorado:
•In 2011, the West Metro Drug Task Force (WMDTF) investigated a Denver area dispensary for the shipment of "medical" marijuana outside of the state of Colorado. An undercover officer, who claimed to be from PENNSYLVANIA, arranged a deal with the owners of the dispensary to purchase 200 pounds of marijuana for distribution outside of Colorado.
•In 2011, the Northern Colorado Drug Task Force (NCDTF) initiated a case involving multiple shipments of high-grade marijuana being shipped through a parcel service from Ft. Collins, Colorado to VIRGINIA. The marijuana source was determined to be an employee of a local parcel service. It was estimated that more than 300 pounds of marijuana had been shipped to VIRGINIA by the parcel service employee over the period of a few months.
•In March 2012, WYOMING Highway Patrol stopped a vehicle traveling westbound on Highway 30. The officer discovers 9.5 grams high-grade marijuana, 125 grams of marijuana brownies, and 1.8 grams of marijuana candy found on the passenger and in the vehicle. The passengers stated they had purchased the products from a "store" in Colorado.
•In March 2011, Iowa State Patrol stopped a vehicle traveling from Longmont, Colorado to Nashville, TENNESSEE. During the search of the vehicle, 1.5 pounds of marijuana was found. The driver admitted to having a Colorado medical card, and was taking the marijuana to TENNESSEE to make a profit.
•In January 2012, Nebraska State Patrol stopped a vehicle traveling from Denver, Colorado to Sioux City, IOWA. During the search, troopers discovered 1.75 pounds of marijuana. The driver admitted to having a Colorado medical marijuana card and visiting up to seven dispensaries throughout the week.
•In April 2011, Kansas Highway Patrol stopped a vehicle traveling from Boulder, Colorado to Vero Beach, FLORIDA. During the search officers discovered 17.5 pounds of marijuana, 1.85 pounds of hashish, and 43 gel caps of marijuana. The driver admitted to buying the marijuana from a dispensary in Denver.
The out of state smuggling of marijuana from Colorado and Washington is anticipated to increase once recreational sales go into full swing. The reasoning of law enforcement is that there will be more sellers and larger supplies available with the legalization of recreational marijuana. Ergo more grass will be smuggled by more people to more states.
One other aspect of this smuggling needs to be mentioned. The smuggling of legal marijuana undercuts one of the arguments made by those advocating legalization. Among the many justifications made by pro-pot advocates - including some of society's elite like PayPal founder Peter Thiel or Whole Foods founder John Mackey - was that we spend too much money locking up pot smokers. Legalize pot and governments save the taxpayers' beaucoup bucks.
These arguments are up in smoke.
There is now - and always will be - an illegal marijuana trade. There will still be government money spent enforcing marijuana production, sale and consumption. There will still be money spent to collect taxes and put people in jail who violate marijuana laws.
The notion that a major cost of criminalizing marijuana involved the criminal justice system was always a canard. Prison space was not used up on those caught with a joint.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 1997, just 1.6% of the state inmate population were held for offenses involving only marijuana, and 0.7% were incarcerated with marijuana possession as the only charge. Some 0.3% of state prisoners in 1997 who were convicted just for marijuana possession were first time offenders. A subsequent 2005 study by Jonathan P. Caulkins and Eric Sevigny confirmed this.
While it is too early to tell, there are indicators that lead one to believe that marijuana legalization will cause more problems than it solves.
Former Pittsburgh police chief's sentencing a tough call for judge
Ex-chief Nate Harper's sentencing 'difficult'
By Rich Lord — Monday, February 24th, 2014 'The Pittsburgh Post Gazette' / Pittsburgh, PA
When former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik -- who once ran the Big Apple lockup Rikers Island -- walked into a federal penitentiary as a prisoner in 2010, it was, he said, like "dying with your eyes open."
"Your entire life as you knew it moves on around you, and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it," the recently released tax and obstruction convict said last week. "Your kids grow. ... The house changes. My dog died. My brother-in-law died."
At the Federal Correctional Institution Cumberland, in Maryland, where he served his sentence, he lived among the kinds of people he spent his life locking up. That's what former Pittsburgh police chief Nate Harper could face following his sentencing, set for Tuesday.
Mr. Harper's fate is in the hands of U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon, who rose to that post in late 2011 after three years as a magistrate judge. She faces a decision in which she must weigh Mr. Harper's history, his precise role in the conspiracy to commit theft and the importance of deterring others from similar dips into the public cookie jar.
Though federal guidelines suggest a sentence of 1 1/2 to two years, she can go as low as probation or as high as five years.
"It comes down to a very difficult call for a judge," said Bruce Antkowiak, a former federal prosecutor and now a law professor at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe. "The strongest cards [Mr. Harper's attorneys] have to play are his history with the department, the decades of work he has put in, the numbers of other people from law enforcement who evidently respect him."
Those same factors, though, could count against him.
"Either you think this is a fundamentally decent guy who did something wrong, or you think this is a public official who should be held to another standard," said Wesley Oliver, the Criminal Justice Program director at the Duquesne University School of Law.
Mr. Harper could argue that his lawman background puts him at risk in prison. The U.S. Supreme Court found in the case of police sergeant Stacey Koon, sentenced to prison in the beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King, that judges can give lighter sentences to defendants who are "unusually susceptible to prison abuse."
In the recent case of former corrections officer Arii Metz, though, prosecutors countered that argument by showing that the federal prisons already house many former police in relative security. As of last month, there were 1,269 former law enforcement officials in federal custody, according to the Bureau of Prisons.
"There are guys who are going to hate him because he was a cop," Mr. Kerik said. "There are going to be guys who are going to respect him because he was a cop."
Mr. Harper pleaded guilty in October, confirming that he failed to file tax returns for four years and diverted $70,629 in public funds into an unauthorized credit union account and spending $31,987 on himself.
The prosecution has maintained that Mr. Harper told two civilian subordinates to open and handle the account, making him a supervisor in the conspiracy, and subject to a harsher sentence.
The defense has countered that Mr. Harper had no co-conspirators, but also that the unauthorized account wasn't his idea. They haven't yet named the alleged mastermind.
"The government's response is going to be: Who cares?" Mr. Antkowiak said. "When you admit that you told two city employees to open these accounts and draw the Visa cards on them, you're a supervisor" of the crime.
Mr. Harper met with federal investigators "approximately 10 times," according to his attorneys. There's no indication, though, that the prosecution will ask the judge to impose a lighter sentence for what's called "substantial cooperation."
"We don't know what happened in those 10 meetings," Mr. Oliver said. Nor is there any indication of any results, he said, noting that a key part of weighing a defendant's cooperation is "how many busts, how substantial the busts were."
The flip side: Two defendants -- both of whom were given credit for cooperation -- publicly blamed Mr. Harper for a separate bid-rigging scheme in hearings before Judge Bissoon. The former chief has never been charged in relation to the incident, a contract won by Alpha Outfitters -- a company controlled by the chief's long-time friend -- to install and maintain computers and radios in police cars.
The judge shouldn't give much weight to their accusations, Mr. Oliver said, though he noted that the charge "tends to tear down the narrative that the defendant is trying to tell" about a good man with a bad debit card.
With the eyes of the public, and especially of law enforcement, on the case, the judge may carefully weigh the deterrent effect of the sentence.
"Look, one of the things a judge always considers is what kind of message [she's] sending with this sentence," said John Burkoff, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. " 'What's the message I'll be sending to police officers who may be tempted to do something bad if I'm lenient?' "
Mr. Kerik, now an advocate for sentencing reform, suggested that the message has already been sent. It could be amplified, he said, if the judge gives Mr. Harper probation but orders him to speak to police recruit classes about his crime and punishment.
"They're going to take his pension," Mr. Kerik said. "You've taken his reputation. He's now a convicted felon. He's going to have legal fees he'll have to pay for.
"That guy has been destroyed."
Detroit's Plan to Invest in Tech Could End Dark Ages for Police
By Matt Helms — Monday, February 24th, 2014 'The Detroit Free Press' / Detroit, MI
(Edited for brevity and generic law enforcement pertinence)
The Detroit city government that emergency manager Kevyn Orr envisions over the next decade will be a far more advanced operation, no longer limping along with outdated computers and obsolete technology that undercuts everything from accurate tax collection to real-time analysis of crime trends.
With some tax information still kept on 3-by-5 index cards and police officers still handwriting reports on paper, it won't be cheap to bring the city into today's high-tech world.
The City of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 protection in July, citing debts and long-term obligations of about $18 billion. On Friday, Orr filed a plan of adjustment in bankruptcy court outlining major improvements to city services and how the city plans to chip away at billions of dollars in debt.
Under the city's proposal to emerge from bankruptcy, Detroit would spend nearly $150 million during the next 10 years to make up for decades of a lack of investment in technology.
Upgrades for police
At the Detroit Police Department, the city would spend $38 million on tech improvements, including what it calls a "fully integrated public safety IT system" that would wrap in the city's Fire Department and EMS.
Moore said this is crucial for police officers, who spend far too much time manually completing paperwork that should be automated. With more up-to-date equipment, the data from those electronic reports can be used in real-time crime-tracking systems that can be shared among precincts for more accurate, timely responses.
"If you think about the amount of time a police officer has to manually put in information, all of that takes away from the amount of time the officer can spend on fighting crime," Moore said.
In January, the Police Department called for sweeping changes within the department, including rectifying outdated technologies. Its report noted that of 1,150 computers in use, about 300 were less than 3 years old, with the remainder outdated and in need of replacement. Beyond that, the department also called for a case management system that would allow police to provide regular updates on investigations, improved evidence tracking and better records management.
Austin's police chief apologizes for bizarre defense of officers who arrested jaywalker
Art Acevedo claimed he was trying to put jogger Amanda Jo Stephen's arrest near the University of Texas 'into context,' when he referred to officers in other cities 'actually committing sexual assaults on duty.'
By David Harding — Monday, February 24th, 2014 'The New York Daily News'
Austin's police chief has been forced to apologize for his bizarre defense of officers who arrested a female jaywalking jogger near the University of Texas.
Art Acevedo said sorry after appearing to dismiss the arrest of Amanda Jo Stephen by claiming: "Cops are actually committing sexual assaults on duty so I thank God that this is what passes for a controversy in Austin, Tex."
He soon retracted his statements claiming that "in hindsight, I believe the comparison was a poor analogy, and for this I apologize".
Acevedo added he was trying to put the arrest "into context".
He said his comments had come at the end of an "emotional week" following the conviction of Brandon Daniel for killing Austin police officer Jaime Pardon in 2012.
Jogger Stephen was arrested on Thursday morning for illegally crossing the street and allegedly refusing to give her name to police officers.
Her arrest was captured by a bystander, Chris Quintero.
In a video which has gone viral, she is seen sobbing and yelling that "I didn't f***ing do anything wrong! I just crossed the street" as she is questioned by police officers, before being led away in a patrol car.
The video has gone viral with more than 300,000 people viewing it.
San Diego, California
Pattern of Alleged Abuse in Police Dept. Examined
By Omari Fleming — Monday, February 24th, 2014 'NBC News'
A trio of current and former policemen have become the poster boys for alleged sexual misconduct at the San Diego Police Department, a department where documents show over the past two years internal investigations of officers are on the rise.
Anthony Arevalos was convicted of sex crimes with women he stopped while on the job.
Chris Hays resigned from the force last week after being charged with sexual battery and false imprisonment involving four women.
San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne needs support from the new mayor and the city council to keep his job after two new officer scandals are exposed. NBC 7's Mari Payton explores whether suggesting an outside audit will help Lansdowne keep his badge.
A San Diego police officer who pleaded not guilty Tuesday to multiple counts of sexual misconduct, plans to turn in his badge. NBC 7's Sherene Tagharobi reports.
Sue Quinn is a former executive officer of the County of San Diego Citizens' Law Enforcement Review Board. Though she doesn't know the inner details of the police department, she says its recent issues may point to problems with hiring and procedural policies.
"This is about integrity," Quinn said. "It's about integrity in the hiring process, the background process, the training process, the training supervisor process."
Police officials note that all officers have passed state-mandated standards.
However, that hasn't stopped Chief of Police William Lansdsowne from making procedural changes in the wake of these recent sex scandals. Two officers are now required to transport any female suspect.
"It's a failure of your training, hiring and supervision if that's what it takes to keep people from abusing their authority," Quinn said.
Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer has met with Lansdowne twice in the past week following the scandals to make sure best policies and practices are followed. Faulconer says he plans to meet with Lansdowne one more time before he's sworn in on March 3.
How a Kingpin Above the Law Fell, Incredibly, Without a Shot
By DAMIEN CAVEFEB — Monday, February 24th, 2014 'The New York Times'
MAZATLÁN, Mexico — They reacted here with utter disbelief. Joaquín Guzmán Loera, El Chapo, drug kingpin to the world, the Robin Hood of Sinaloa, had been arrested in his home state, in the resort town that is a loyal fief of his empire?
"It was too easy," said a young woman of model height, her back to the sea, her eyes fixed on the 12-story condominium where Mexican marines and United States agents grabbed him early on Saturday morning. "No shootout, no final stand?"
The takedown this weekend of the world's most wanted man — the chief executive of what experts describe as the world's most sophisticated narcotics enterprise, the Sinaloa cartel — upended long-held assumptions about the impunity of Mexican mobsters.
It also overturned long-lowered expectations of what was possible in the game of cat and mouse, or government versus outlaws, that has defined the drug war here.
Mr. Guzmán, after all, seemed untouchable, relying time and again on intimidation, bribery and local accommodation — even pride — to help him keep his freedom and his power.
But the giant known as Shorty fell with an odd humility, awakened shirtless by the authorities before 7 a.m. on Saturday. He neither died in a blaze of glory nor managed another daring escape; persistence carried him away.
The details of the operation, recounted by American and Mexican officials and witnesses here (most requested anonymity for their own protection) show that Mr. Guzmán's arrest, after countless near misses and narrow escapes, came down to a tight bond between the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Mexican navy, some well-kept secrets, and a fair amount of luck.
Even as security cooperation between Mexico and the United States continued to be hampered by distrust at the highest levels of government, American agents and Mexican marines worked together for weeks, until the moment of capture here when they crashed through the door of a fourth-floor apartment overlooking the Pacific.
It began with a meeting a few weeks ago. The D.E.A. presented a body of intelligence information to Mexican navy officials, including calls and contacts from cellphones used over the last few months. The Americans had worked closely before with the marines on successful operations but were not certain that their counterparts would take on the mission. Mexican security forces were focused on another problem — the battle between the Knights Templar cartel and self-defense groups in Michoacán — and President Enrique Peña Nieto had made clear that the economy was his priority. Officials said there were local obstacles, too. Many Sinaloans considered Mr. Guzmán as a kind of favorite rebel son. His cartel has deep roots across the state, with many arguing that his operation is relatively benign in comparison to some newer groups that rely more on extortion and kidnapping.
"It's an old model of organized crime that's not predatory on the local population," said Alejandro Hope, a security analyst and former Mexican intelligence officer whose mother grew up in Sinaloa. Still, he added, "For all the talk of Chapo as a good narco, this is the person who was responsible for some of the worst violence — for the drug war in Tijuana and Juárez. That's thousands of deaths."
Mr. Guzmán, though, seemed so immune to consequence that some here in Mazatlán had even come to believe he might be protected, or at least tolerated, by elements of the Mexican and American governments. "We thought he was clean," one businessman said.
But the marines, compelled by the intelligence gathered through wiretaps and informants — especially tips suggesting that Mr. Guzmán was showing up again in Culiacán and Mazatlán — agreed to move. They "surged up," one American official said, at a base near Cabo, the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, a short race across the water to Mazatlán and the rest of Sinaloa.
Starting roughly a month before Mr. Guzmán's capture, they began to sweep methodically through Culiacán, the Sinaloa state capital. They knocked down doors and recovered weapons, armored cars, drugs, cash.
The drug operators scurried. On Feb. 13, three men were arrested on the road to Mazatlán, including a man called "19," believed to be the new head assassin for one Mr. Guzmán's senior officers, Ismael (Mayo) Zambada. On Feb. 17, another senior leader was captured with 4,000 hollowed-out cucumbers and bananas filled with cocaine.
A half-dozen others followed and with each arrest and seizure, Mexican officials made sure to emphasize that they were seeking Mr. Zambada. The true nature of the operation never leaked — in part because of Mr. Guzmán's legend. No one seemed to suspect that he would come down from his secret hiding spots in the mountains of Sinaloa, or further afield, in Guatemala or wherever else.
And how much would it matter if he did? Experts suspected he had delegated much of the day-to-day work, and drugs have been moving north from this fertile region since World War II, when the American government needed opium for its wounded soldiers. With demand for heroin surging yet again, no one doubts that the trade — "the life," as some here call it — will go on.
But with momentum building in Culiacán, American officials said that the Mexican marines began to believe they might actually get the target that had slipped their grasp so many times before.
A small team of American agents with the D.E.A. and the United States Marshals Service were embedded with the Mexican marines, American and Mexican officials said, and in their ranks, too, confidence was rising, and mixing with impatience. As days dragged to weeks, there was a sense that Mexican officials wanted to wrap things up — especially after a raid led to what appeared to be a near miss.
Working on information from some of Mr. Guzmán's bodyguards, Mexican marines and American agents raided the home of his ex-wife on Thursday. After struggling to batter down the steel-reinforced door, according to the Mexican authorities, they were too late: instead of finding their prey, they discovered a secret door beneath a bathtub that led to a network of tunnels and sewer canals that connected to six other houses.
The search continued, but the earlier arrests and intelligence were pointing south, to Mazatlán — one of Mexico's first resorts.
Mr. Guzmán was not known to spend much time here; local businessmen with a lifetime of knowledge about Sinaloa's connections to the community said there were no known Chapo sightings, or serious rumors, over his many years in power.
The building he chose, called the Miramar, was built about a decade ago, they said, and was filled with a mix of vacationers — Mexicans and American and Canadian retirees — who came and went through the year. Before dawn on Saturday morning, it seemed to be just another place to enjoy the view. But about 12 hours earlier, an intercepted phone call to Mr. Guzmán's cellphone had already triggered the command to move. In the dark of night, neighbors heard knocks on the doors, according to interviews via apartment intercom. American officials said the teams did not know which apartment he was in. Then came a crash.
By the time retirees down the block heard helicopters — "I was waiting to hear the gunfire," one Canadian woman said — it was over.
Mr. Guzmán was arrested with one other man, Mexican officials said. Some reports said that the authorities also found a woman in the apartment and photos of the room show two pink children's suitcases on a bed, suggesting Mr. Guzmán was with his wife and twin 2-year-old daughters who were born in Los Angeles County. But American officials said they were surprised by what was not there: a cache of weapons. Not a single shot was fired.
Local residents cast doubt on the operation for that exact reason. "Everyone thinks it was a negotiated capture," said one local business leader.
That it happened just a few days after President Obama visited Mexico, during a week when official figures showed the economy grew by only 1.1 percent, has only added to the skepticism. Even after photos and forensic tests, many here, young and old, don't believe that the man with the mustache trotted out for the cameras on Saturday — and now confined to a high-security Mexican prison, officials said — is really the one they call Chapo.
"It's a fantasy," said Ofelia Aguilar, 52, walking through a shantytown called Santa Monica, still filling up with families who have been forced to flee the lawlessness of the Sinaloan countryside where Mr. Guzmán grew up. "It has to be someone else. I just don't believe it."
Randal C. Archibold contributed reporting from Mexico City and Ginger Thompson from New York.
Wiretaps, aides led to Mexican drug lord's arrest
By ALICIA A. CALDWELL and ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON (The Associated Press) — Monday, February 24th, 2014; 7:24 a.m. EST
CULIACAN, MEXICO (AP) -- As Mexican troops forced their way into Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's main hideout in Culiacan, the country's most powerful drug lord sneaked out of the house through an escape tunnel beneath the bathtub.
Mexican marines working with U.S. authorities chased him but lost the man known as "Shorty" in a maze of tunnels under the city, a U.S. government official and a senior law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Sunday.
It would be a short-lived escape for Guzman, who was captured early Saturday hiding out in a condominium in Mazatlan, a beach resort town on Mexico's Pacific Coast.
He had a military-style assault rifle with him but didn't fire a shot, the officials said. His beauty queen wife, Emma Coronel, was with him when the manhunt for one of the world's most wanted drug traffickers ended.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss specific details of how U.S. authorities tracked down Guzman.
For 13 years Guzman watched from western Mexico's rugged mountains as authorities captured or killed the leaders of every group challenging his Sinaloa cartel's spot at the top of global drug trafficking.
Unscathed and his legend growing, the stocky son of a peasant farmer grabbed a slot on the Forbes' billionaires' list and a folkloric status as the capo who grew too powerful to catch. Then, late last year, authorities started closing in on the inner circle of the world's most-wanted drug lord. Bit by bit, they got closer to the crime boss.
Then on Feb. 16, investigators from Mexico along with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement caught the break they badly needed when they tracked a cellphone to one of the Culiacan stash houses Guzman used to elude capture.
The phone was connected to his communications chief, Carlos Manuel Ramirez, whose nickname is Condor. By the next day Mexican authorities arrested one of Guzman's top couriers, who promptly provided details of the stash houses Guzman and his associates had been using, the officials said.
At each house, the Mexican military found the same thing: steel reinforced doors and an escape hatch below the bathtubs. Each hatch led to a series of interconnected tunnels in the city's drainage system.
The officials said three tons of drugs, suspected to be cocaine and methamphetamine, were found at one of the stash houses.
An AP reporter who walked through one of the tunnels had to dismount into a canal and stoop to enter the drain pipe, which was filled with water and mud and smelled of sewage. About 700 meters (yards) in, a trap door was open, revealing a newly constructed tunnel. Large and lined with wood panels like a cabin, the passage had lighting and air conditioning. At the end of the tunnel was a blue ladder attached to the wall that led to one of the houses Mexican authorities say Guzman used as a hideout.
A day after troops narrowly missed Guzman in Culiacan, top aide Manuel Lopez Ozorio was arrested. The officials said he told investigators that he picked up Guzman, Ramirez and a woman from a drainage pipe and helped them flee to Mazatlan.
A wiretap being monitored by ICE agents in southern Arizona provided the final clue, helping track Guzman to the beachfront condo, the officials said.
The ICE wiretap proved the most crucial lead late last week as other wiretaps became useless as Guzman and his associates reacted to coming so close to being caught.
"It just all came together and we got the right people to flip and we were up on good wire," the government official said. "The ICE wire was the last one standing. That wire in Nogales. That got him (Guzman) inside that hotel."
Alonzo Pena, a former senior official at ICE, said wiretaps in Arizona led authorities to the Culiacan house of Guzman's ex-wife, Griselda Lopez, and to the Mazatlan hotel where Guzman was arrested.
The ICE investigation started about a year ago with a tip from the agency's Atlanta office that someone was crossing the border with about $100,000 at a time, said Pena, who was briefed on the investigation. That person led investigators to another cartel operative, believed to be an aircraft broker, and that allowed them to locate Guzman's communications equipment.
The senior law enforcement official said the Mexican marines deserve credit for taking Guzman alive and without either side firing a shot.
"We never anticipated, ever, that he would be taken alive," the official said.
It is not yet clear what will happen next to Guzman, except that he will be the focus of a lengthy and complicated legal process to decide whether Mexico or the U.S. gets to try him first.
In Mexico, he is likely to face a host of charges related to his role as head of the Sinaloa cartel, which is believed to sell cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine in some 54 countries.
Grand juries in at least seven U.S. federal district courts, including Chicago, San Diego, New York and Texas, have already issued indictments for Guzman on a variety of charges, ranging from smuggling cocaine and heroin to participating in an ongoing criminal enterprise involving murder and racketeering.
Federal officials in Chicago were among the first to say they wanted to try Guzman. On Sunday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Tiscione in Brooklyn became the second. In an email Sunday, Tiscione said his office would also be seeking extradition but it would be up to Washington to make the final call.
A Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because it's a matter of sensitive diplomatic discussions, said decisions regarding extradition have not been made.
When Guzman was finally in handcuffs, the man who eluded Mexican authorities for more than a decade looked pudgy, bowed and middle-aged in a white button-down shirt and beltless black jeans.
Now 56, he had been on the run since escaping from prison in 2001 in a laundry truck. During those 13 years, Guzman was rumored to live everywhere from Argentina to Mexico's "Golden Triangle," a mountainous, marijuana-growing region straddling the northern states of Sinaloa, Durango and Chihuahua.
Under his leadership, the Sinaloa Cartel grew deadlier and more powerful, taking over much of the lucrative trafficking routes along the U.S. border.
His undoing started late last year as authorities on both sides of the border arrested people close to Guzman and one of his two top associates, Ismael "Mayo" Zambada.
This month federal forces began sweeping through Culiacan, capital of the Pacific coast state of Sinaloa. They closed streets, raided houses, seized automatic weapons, drugs and money, and arrested a series of men that Mexican officials carefully described to reporters as top officials for Zambada.
On Feb. 13, a man known as "19," whom officials called the new chief of assassin for Zambada, was arrested with two other men on the highway to Mazatlan.
Four days later, a man described as a member of the Sinaloa cartel's upper ranks was seized along with 4,000 hollowed-out cucumbers and bananas stuffed with cocaine. In the middle of last week, a 43-year-old known by the nickname "20" and described as Zambada's chief of security, was arrested transporting more cocaine-stuffed produce.
By the middle of the week at least 10 Sinaloa henchmen had been seized.
The final strike came when marines closed the beachside road in front of the Miramar condominiums, a 10-story, pearl-colored building with white balconies overlooking the Pacific and a small pool in front. Smashing down the door of an austerely decorated fourth-floor condo, they seized Guzman a few minutes after the sun rose.
Associated Press writer Alicia A. Caldwell reported this story from Washington and Adriana Gomez Licon reported in Culiacan. AP writers Katherine Corcoran in Mexico City and Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.
Federal Prosecutors Seek Return of Mexican Drug Kingpin to U.S.
By ASHLEY SOUTHALLFEB — Monday, February 24th, 2014 'The New York Times'
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn want Joaquín Guzmán Loera, a Mexican drug lord captured on Saturday, to return to the United States to face a long list of charges, competing with several other jurisdictions seeking his extradition.
Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the United States attorney in Brooklyn, said that his office would request Mr. Guzmán's extradition to face a variety of charges, according to Reuters. Mr. Guzmán — known as El Chapo, which means Shorty — was captured by Mexican security forces on Saturday in the resort town of Mazatlán, Mexico, after 13 years on the run.
It was not clear on Sunday how Mexico would respond to the request. Mr. Guzmán's capture was billed as a result of cooperation between the Mexican and American governments. But he escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001 and still has a sentence to finish.
If Mexico decided to send Mr. Guzmán to the United States, it is unclear where he would go first. Mr. Guzmán and his deputies are wanted in Illinois, Texas and California on charges of trafficking marijuana, cocaine and heroin, as well as racketeering, money laundering, kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder.
Mr. Guzmán is believed to run the Sinaloa drug syndicate, which enlisted henchman and corrupt police and politicians as it smuggled drugs north from South America. He was named with five others facing nine felony drug charges, including distributing cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, according to an indictment filed in 2009 with the Federal District Court in Brooklyn.
A co-defendant — Jesus Zambada-Garcia, known as El Rey, which means King — pleaded guilty in January and is awaiting sentencing.