December 5, 2021

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Cotulla man sentenced for trafficking over 1000 pounds of marijuana

14 min read
A 37-year-old local man has been ordered to federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana

Read full article at: https://www.justice.gov May 3, 2021

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  • Ohio Resident Pleads Guilty to Operating Darknet-Based Bitcoin ‘Mixer’ That Laundered Over $300 Million
    In Crime News
    An Ohio man pleaded guilty today to a money laundering conspiracy arising from his operation of Helix, a Darknet-based cryptocurrency laundering service.
    [Read More…]
  • New Jersey Man Indicted for Tax Evasion and Not Filing Tax Returns
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Newark, New Jersey, returned an indictment on April 1, 2021, charging a Springfield man with tax evasion and willful failure to file individual income tax returns.
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  • U.S. Department of State to Honor Foreign Service Officer (ret.) William S. Rowland as Hero of U.S. Diplomacy
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Contractor Business Systems: DOD Needs Better Information to Monitor and Assess Review Process
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Since 2011, the Department of Defense (DOD) has implemented several changes to its processes for reviewing contractor business systems—which include systems such as accounting, estimating, and purchasing. Among other changes, DOD clarified the roles and responsibilities of the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) and the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA)—the two agencies that are responsible for conducting the reviews; clarified timeframes for business system reviews and established criteria for business systems; and withheld payments from contractors that were found to have significant deficiencies in their business systems. DOD does not have a mechanism to monitor and ensure that these reviews are being conducted in a timely manner. For its part, DCAA has conducted few business system audits since 2013, as it focused its efforts on other types of audits. DCAA plans to significantly increase the number of business system audits over the next 4 years, but its success in doing so depends on its ability to shift resources from other audits; to use public accounting firms to conduct other, non-business system audits; and DCAA staff's ability to execute new audit plans in a timely manner.   DCMA relies on the three offices responsible for conducting DCMA-led reviews to manage the reviews, but DCMA does not formally monitor whether these reviews are being conducted consistent with policy nor does it monitor DCAA's efforts to complete the audits for which it is responsible. DCMA is ultimately responsible for approving a contractor's business systems. DCMA currently lacks a mechanism based on relevant and reliable information, such as the number of reviews that are outstanding and the resources available to conduct such reviews, to ensure reviews are being completed in a timely fashion. Such information could help inform more strategic oversight on whether the current review process is achieving its intended results, or whether additional changes to the timing of or criteria for conducting reviews are needed. Why GAO Did This Study Contractor business systems produce critical data that contracting officers use to help negotiate and manage defense contracts. These systems and their related internal controls act as important safeguards against fraud, waste, and abuse of federal funding. Federal and defense acquisition regulations and DOD policies require that DOD take steps to review the adequacy of certain business systems, but GAO and other oversight entities have raised questions about the sufficiency and consistency of DOD's review process. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 contained a provision for GAO to evaluate how DOD implemented legislation intended to improve its business system review process. Among other things, this report examines (1) the changes DOD made to its review process and (2) the extent to which DOD is ensuring timely business system reviews. GAO analyzed DOD acquisition regulations, policies, and procedures for conducting contractor business system reviews and analyzed data on reviews conducted between fiscal years 2013 and 2018.
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  • Louisiana Man Pleads Guilty to Dog Fighting
    In Crime News
    A Louisiana man pleaded guilty yesterday to possession of an animal for use in an animal fighting venture.
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  • Michigan Man Sentenced to Prison for Attacking Black Teenager
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced that a Michigan man was sentenced today for willfully causing bodily injury to a Black teenager because of the teenager’s race.
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  • VA Disability Benefits: Actions Needed to Better Manage Appeals Workload Risks, Performance, and Information Technology
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In March 2018, GAO made recommendations to address gaps in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) plans for reform of its appeals process for disability compensation claims. This reform was intended to offer veterans who are dissatisfied with VA's initial decision on their claim more timely options to appeal. Since then, VA has implemented new options for appeals in February 2019, reduced the backlog of preexisting appeals from 425,445 in fiscal year 2019 to 174,688 in fiscal year 2020, and addressed aspects of GAO's recommendations. However, opportunities exist for VA to more fully address GAO's recommendations and thus better (1) manage workload risks; (2) monitor and assess performance; and, (3) plan for further development of information technology (IT). Specifically: Managing workload risks fully. Since 2018, VA has made strides to manage appeals and address GAO's recommendations. For example, VA has taken steps to monitor workloads and calibrate its staffing needs. However, further efforts are needed to sustain progress and manage workload risks. Specifically, VA has not fully developed mitigation strategies for certain risks, such as veterans using the new hearing appeals option at higher rates than the options that do not require a hearing. The lack of a risk mitigation strategy is significant because in mid-June 2021, VA reported that this resource-intensive new hearing option accounted for nearly 60 percent of the new appeals inventory, but VA has made relatively few hearing option decisions in fiscal year 2021. This could mean veterans have longer wait times and increasing backlogs under the new hearing option. VA's ability to effectively manage workloads lies, in part, in planning ahead and in proactively addressing risks that may impact timeliness of decisions. Monitoring and assessing performance. VA has made progress to address GAO's recommendations, but it is not monitoring or assessing important aspects of performance. VA recently established timeliness goals for all new appeals options, which better positions VA to monitor this aspect of performance and define resources needed to process appeals. However, VA lacks a quality assurance program and related measures to assess the accuracy of its appeals decisions. Planning for further technology development. Since 2018, VA has deployed a new IT system to support its new appeals process, but has yet to address issues GAO identified with VA's IT planning, such as specifying more fully how and when the new IT system will achieve all needed functionality. VA implemented appeals reform in February 2019, but continues to report that the new IT system provides “minimum functionality” and to identify functionality yet to be implemented. Also, a May 2021 VA report itemized over 35 problems with the new IT system, such as the need to reconcile records contained in multiple IT systems. VA officials told GAO that they are working on a plan to address the identified IT shortfalls. These shortfalls and VA's response suggest opportunities exist for VA to identify all key and necessary IT activities, responsibilities, interdependencies and resources, as GAO previously recommended. Why GAO Did This Study In fiscal year 2020, VBA paid about $88.5 billion in disability compensation benefits to over 5 million veterans injured in service to our country. Prior to 2018, veterans who appealed decisions on their initial claims for benefits often experienced long waits for resolution of their appeals—up to 7 years on average. These long waits are one reason GAO designated VA's disability workloads as a high risk issue. The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 made changes to improve VA's appeals process. The act required VA to submit to Congress and GAO a plan for implementing a new appeals process (which VA submitted in November 2017) and periodic progress reports. The act also included a provision for GAO to assess VA's original plan. In March 2018, GAO found that VA could help ensure successful implementation of appeals reform by addressing gaps in planning and made several recommendations, with which VA agreed. This testimony examines the extent to which VA (1) manages workloads and associated risks for processing appeals, (2) monitors and assesses performance, and (3) plans for further development of information technology. For this statement, GAO reviewed its prior reports on disability appeals; VA's progress reports to Congress; and information VA provided for GAO's ongoing monitoring of this high-risk issue and about steps VA has taken to implement GAO's prior recommendations. For more information, contact Elizabeth H. Curda at (202) 512-7215 or curdae@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Kenyan National Indicted for Conspiring to Hijack Aircraft on Behalf of the Al Qaeda-Affiliated Terrorist Organization Al Shabaab
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced the unsealing of an indictment charging Cholo Abdi Abdullah with six counts of terrorism-related offenses arising from his activities as an operative of the foreign terrorist organization al Shabaab, including conspiring to hijack aircraft in order to conduct a 9/11-style attack in the United States.  Abdullah was arrested in July 2019 in the Philippines on local charges, and was subsequently transferred on Dec. 15, 2020 in connection with his deportation from the Philippines to the custody of U.S. law enforcement for prosecution on the charges in the indictment.  Abdullah was transported from the Phillippines to the United States yesterday, and is expected to be presented today before Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger in Manhattan federal court.  The case is assigned to United States District Judge Analisa Torres.
    [Read More…]
  • Honduran immigrant convicted of alien smuggling
    In Justice News
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  • United States Announces New Humanitarian Assistance for Displaced Rohingya and Members of Other Affected Communities in Bangladesh and Burma
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
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  • Secretary Blinken’s Participation in Ministerial on Libya
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • ‘Disk Detective’ Needs Your Help Finding Disks Where Planets Form
    In Space
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  • Special Briefing with Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian P. McKeon, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Principal Advisor to the Administrator Mark Feierstein, and Experts On the Administration’s Budget Proposal for the Department of State and USAID for Fiscal Year 2022
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • The Department of Justice Files Brief Defending the Constitutionality of Idaho’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act
    In Crime News
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  • Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt Delivers Remarks at Health Care Fraud Takedown Press Conference
    In Crime News
    Good morning and thank you for joining us today. We are here this morning to announce the results of truly historic nationwide law enforcement operations led by the Criminal Division’s Health Care Fraud Strike Force Program — part of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
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  • FY 2022 Notice of Funding Opportunity for Resettlement Support Center (RSC) Africa; RSC Asia; RSC Eurasia; and RSC Latin America
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
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  • NASA’s AIRS Monitors Tropical Storm Fay as It Deluges the East Coast
    In Space
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  • Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Gives Remarks at the Civil Rights Division’s Virtual Conference: Confronting Hate: Strategies for Prevention, Accountability and Justice
    In Crime News
    Good morning. Thank you for joining us for this important event, Confronting Hate: Strategies for Prevention, Accountability, and Justice. 
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  • COVID-19: State Carried Out Historic Repatriation Effort but Should Strengthen Its Preparedness for Future Crises
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found From January to June 2020, the Department of State carried out a historic effort in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to repatriate more than 100,000 individuals who were in 137 countries. In the previous 5 years, State had repatriated fewer than 6,000 people. Most responses to a GAO survey of repatriated individuals expressed positive views of State's communication, among other things, though some expressed concerns about matters such as the prices of repatriation flights. State reported learning several lessons from challenges it faced, such as the importance of using social media and cell phones to communicate with U.S. citizens. State Personnel Assisting with Repatriations in Tanzania (Left) and Montenegro (right) Despite acting swiftly to assist Americans abroad, State did not follow some of its policies and lacked guidance for certain aspects of its repatriation effort. For example, as of May 2021, an interagency group State established to coordinate plans to evacuate U.S. citizens abroad in emergencies had not met since April 2019, hampering interagency communication early in the crisis. Also, incomplete guidance for calculating and documenting actual costs of State-chartered flights led to missing or inconsistent documentation and limited State's ability to show that the prices it charged passengers complied with its fare policy. Additionally, while State requires overseas posts to take steps to prepare for crises, its oversight of their preparedness has gaps. State requires posts to update emergency action plans but does not ensure timely submission of those plans. In the 20 countries from which State helped repatriate the largest numbers of people, 17 of 30 posts did not submit their updated plans for certification within required time frames in 2020. State requires posts to complete annual emergency preparedness drills, but does not ensure completion of the drills. In 2019, 16 of the 30 posts failed to complete all the drills within the required time frames. State lacks a mechanism for assessing posts' crisis preparedness. Though State encourages posts to assess their own preparedness annually, data from these assessments are not current or complete. As a result of these gaps, State lacks assurance that posts will be prepared to respond to a future global crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Why GAO Did This Study State provides repatriation assistance to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents abroad during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. State's Office of Crisis Management and Strategy and Bureau of Consular Affairs were primarily responsible for State's COVID-19 repatriation effort. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to report on its ongoing COVID-19 monitoring and oversight efforts. In addition, GAO was asked to examine State's COVID-19 repatriation effort. This report examines, among other things, (1) the results of State's repatriation effort, including lessons State reported learning from challenges it faced; (2) the consistency of selected aspects of State's repatriation effort with its policies and procedures; and (3) State's oversight of its overseas posts' crisis preparedness. GAO reviewed relevant State documents, such as cables and guidance. GAO also interviewed State officials in Washington, D.C., and in Ghana, Honduras, India, Morocco, and Peru. In addition, GAO surveyed a generalizable sample of passengers repatriated on State-chartered flights.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Colombian Vice President and Foreign Minister Ramirez
    In Crime Control and Security News
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