Archive for March, 2011

U.S. Offers $5 Million Bounty for ICE Agent’s Killers

March 30, 2011

The U.S. State Department said its Narcotics Rewards Program would pay the amount to anyone coming forward with information that results in the arrest of those responsible for the February 15 attack that killed Jaime Zapata and wounded Victor Avila. Both men were agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

MATTHEW LEE,  Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration on Wednesday offered up to a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of the suspected drug traffickers who shot and killed a U.S. immigration agent and wounded another in Mexico last month.

The State Department said its Narcotics Rewards Program would pay the amount to anyone coming forward with information that results in the arrest of those responsible for the February 15 attack that killed Jaime Zapata and wounded Victor Avila. Both men were agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a written statement that the reward offer shows the government’s commitment to solving this case.

“”This reward reflects the U.S. government’s unwavering commitment to ensuring that all those responsible for the murder of Special Agent Zapata are brought to justice,” said Secretary Napolitano. “We encourage anyone with information about this case to contact authorities.”

Zapata and Avila, who worked at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, were attacked along a highway as they drove back to the capital from Mexico’s northern state of San Luis Potosi. Some U.S. officials say it was an intentional ambush and that the gunmen knew who their victims were.

Zapata and Avila identified themselves at U.S. diplomats in the moments before the shooting.

San Luis Potosi is at the center of a power struggle between the Zetas and the Gulf cartel. It is also on the route north used by migrants seeking to reach the United States. Officials say cartels have begun recruiting some migrants to work for the gangs.

The two agents were in a Chevrolet Suburban. Mexico’s drug cartels frequently set up roadblocks and ambushes to steal large SUVs and pickups.

Mexican authorities have detained several people in connection with the murder, including suspected Zeta gang member Julian Zapata Espinoza — known by the nickname “El Piolin,” or Tweety Bird. Authorities in Mexico said Zapata Espinoza told them gunmen from the Zetas mistook the agents’ SUV for that of a rival gang.

Zapata Espinoza’s boss, Sergio Antonio Mora, was also arrested though authorities have not said if he was present at the shooting.

Authorities in both countries have said the investigation continues.

Mexico has also announced a reward of up to 10 million pesos, or about $835,000, for information that leads to the arrest of the killers.

The Narcotics Rewards Program was created by Congress in 1986 to help the government identify and bring to justice the major violators of U.S. narcotics laws.

Associated Press writers Alicia A. Caldwell in Washington and Olga Rodriguez in Mexico City contributed to this report.

Related Articles:

U.S. Immigration Agent Shot to Death in Mexico is Identified


Mexican Army: Suspect Says U.S. ICE Agent Slain in Error:


Iredell Co., NC Sheriff’s Deputy Charges Man With Speeding – 128 mph

March 30, 2011

By Steve Lyttle / Charlotte Observer

Iredell County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Benfield might have looked twice at the display on his radar unit Sunday along Interstate 77 in the southern part of the county.

Benfield said he clocked a man driving 128 mph on the southbound side of I-77, near mile marker 41, in the Troutman area.

That driver, Franklin Julian Guzman, 21, of Charlotte, was arrested. He was charged with speeding, driving with a revoked license and careless and reckless driving. But that wasn’t all.

Benfield said a passenger in the vehicle, whose name was not released, was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

FBI Asks Public for Help Breaking Encrypted Notes Tied to 1999 Murder

March 30, 2011

By Brett Michael Dykes / The Lookout, A Y! News Blog

In what seems like a throwback to the still-unsolved Zodiac killings that terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970s, the FBI has sent out a public appeal for amateur sleuths to help solve a key cryptographic clue in a 1999 murder case.

On June 30, 1999, police officers in St. Louis, Missouri found the body of 41-year-old Ricky McCormick, who’d been murdered and dumped in a field. The only clues investigators recovered from the scene were two encrypted notes stuffed into the victim’s pockets.

“Despite extensive work by our Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit (CRRU), as well as help from the American Cryptogram Association, the meanings of those two coded notes remain a mystery to this day, and Ricky McCormick’s murderer has yet to face justice,” the FBI said in a press release today. CRRU chief Dan Olson added, “We are really good at what we do, but we could use some help with this one … Maybe someone with a fresh set of eyes might come up with a brilliant new idea.”

The FBI has reached out to the public with code breaking brain teasers in the past–but they were games, not actual cases. This is the chance for want-to-be FBI sleuths to break their brains on code that is part of a current investigation. The notes are after the jump.

Help solve this encyphered note Help solve this encyphered note
Help us solve this encyphered note Help us solve this encyphered note

The bureau isn’t offering any reward for assistance in solving the case at this time, but the FBI is asking people who believe they may have some insight into the notes write to the address below:

FBI Laboratory
Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit
2501 Investigation Parkway
Quantico, VA 22135
Attn: Ricky McCormick Case

President’s Military Actions in Libya Illegal? Obama Engages in Same Conduct for Which He Wanted Bush Impeached

March 27, 2011

“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a  situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation…” 

Senator Barack Hussein Obama, December 20, 2007.

Despite being 100% correct when he made the above statement, just days ago President Obama ordered U.S. military action in Libya, based in part on the authority of the United Nations Security Council and the recommendations of senior advisors including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the National Security Council’s Samantha Power, and Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, all of whom were pressing for military action based on humanitarian concerns.

The President chose not to consult Congress, instead sending a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) telling them of the strikes on Libya under his constitutional authority as Commander-in-Chief – well AFTER the initial attacks.

Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle agree the President should have consulted Congress BEFORE any action was taken.

Consider Vice President Joe Biden’s words referring to proposed actions of then-President George W. Bush:

“The president has no constitutional authority to take this country to war… unless we are attacked or he has proof that we are about to be attacked… If he does, I would move to impeach him…”

And yesterday, in one of several long and intense interviews concerning his outrage over President Obama’s unilateral decision to authorize military action in Libya, Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) called the President’s action “impeachable.”

The American People, must call for the proper use of constitutional authority, accountability, transparency, and respect for the rule of law – in short, we must defend the Constitution of the United States!

Liberty Counsel’s “Defend the Constitution” Declaration issues this directive (among others) to President Obama and all those who hold public office at the sovereign will of the voters…

“We the People of the United States of America demand that our President, our elected representatives, governmental appointees, judges and justices, and  any other government official adhere to the authority and rule of law as defined by the Constitution of the United States of America and its Bill of Rights.”

Click here to sign the “Defend the Constitution” Declaration:

When you sign our “Defend the Constitution” Declaration, Liberty Counsel will hand deliver your mandate – along with those of tens of thousands of your fellow concerned Americans – to your Representative, Senators, and other key congressional leaders. We will also publish your views to government bureaucrats, the media, and anywhere else it is strategically advantageous.

Only the American people can stop this tyranny before President Obama and his confederates succeed in remaking the United States of America into a socialist third world nation. In my nearly three decades of work in the legal arena and in public policy, I have NEVER witnessed a more blatant and perpetual disregard for the Constitution! 

By signing the “Defend the Constitution Declaration”, you will receive a copy of the second edition of Liberty Counsel’s “Patriot’s Handbook of American Liberty” which provides quick access to the fundamental laws and framework of our nation. The Handbook contains the two great bulwarks of American liberty, the Declaration
of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America, with an invaluable, easy to use index. 

In addition, the Handbook includes the text of Patrick Henry’s immortal address to the Virginia House of Burgesses on the eve of our first Revolution.

Unquestionably, there is a distinct pattern to the Obama Administration’s attacks on the constitutionally prescribed checks and balances at the heart of our form of government, and it transcends any particular issue.

Quite simply, the Obama plan is to increase the power and authority of the Executive Branch while diminishing the power of the other two branches. Such abuses are inevitable when one branch of government seeks to overpower the others.  Perhaps the greatest single example  of the Obama Administration manipulating and bullying the
other branches was the outrageous process through which healthcare “reform” was signed into law one year ago.

 The healthcare “reform” law and the manner in which it was passed demonstrate that under the Obama Administration and its leftist officials and “czars,” the Constitution of the United States is being systematically dismantled…  in order to form a more socialized union!

Go here to sign the declaration and to receive your copy of “The Patriot’s Handbook of American Liberty”:

Liberty Counsel, with offices in Florida, Virginia and Washington, D.C., is a nonprofit litigation, education and
policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and family. 
Liberty Counsel, PO Box 540774, Orlando, FL 32854; Phone: 800-671-1776

Obama’s War on Libya: A Constitutional View

March 25, 2011

by Michael Boldin /

With military action taking place in Libya right now, the essential question must be asked: Is it even Constitutional? For those of you who don’t want to read more than a sentence or two, here’s the short answer. Absolutely not.


The ninth and tenth amendments, while they didn’t add anything new, defined the Constitution. In short, they tell us that the federal government is only authorized to exercise those powers delegated to it in the Constitution…and nothing more. Everything else is either prohibited or retained by the states or people themselves.

What does this have to do with Libya? Well, whenever the federal government does anything, the first question should always be, “where in the Constitution is the authority to do this?” What follows here is an answer regarding American bombs being dropped on Libya.


Ever since the Korean War, Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution has been regularly cited as justification for the President to act with a seemingly free reign in the realm of foreign policy – including the initiation of foreign wars. But, it is Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution that lists the power to declare war, and this power is placed solely in the hands of Congress.

Article II, Section 2, on the other hand, refers to the President as the “commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States.” What the founders meant by this clause was that once war was declared, it would then be the responsibility of the President, as the commander-in-chief, to direct the war.

Alexander Hamilton clarified this when he said that the President, while lacking the power to declare war, would have “the direction of war when authorized.”

Thomas Jefferson reaffirmed this quite eloquently when, in 1801, he said that, as President, he was “unauthorized by the Constitution, without the sanction of Congress, to go beyond the line of defense.”

In Federalist #69, Alexander Hamilton explained that the President’s authority:

“would be nominally the same with that of the King of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first general and admiral of the confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war, and to the raising and regulating of fleets and armies; all which by the constitution under consideration would appertain to the legislature.”

James Madison warned us that the power of declaring war must be kept away from the executive branch when he wrote to Thomas Jefferson:

“The constitution supposes, what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the legislature.”


If, like any legal document, the words of the Constitution mean today just what they meant the moment it was signed, we must first look for the 18th Century meaning of the words used. Here’s a few common 18th-century definitions of the important words:

War: The exercise of violence against withstanders under a foreign command.
Declare: Expressing something before it is promised, decreed, or acted upon.
Invade: To attack a country; to make a hostile entrance

What does this all mean? Unless the country is being invaded, if congress does not declare war against another country, the president is constitutionally barred from waging it, no matter how much he desires to do so. Pre-emptive strikes and undeclared offensive military expeditions are not powers delegated to the federal government in the Constitution, and are, therefore, unlawful.


Here’s the quick overview of how this all plays out:

  • In Constitutional terms, the United States is currently at war with Libya.
  • Libya is not invading the United States, nor has it threatened to do so.
  • Congress has not declared war. Barack Obama did.

Some would claim, and news articles are already reporting on it, that the 1973 war powers resolution authorizes the President to start a war as long as it’s reported to Congress within 48 hours. Then, Congress would have 60 days to authorize the action, or extend it.

The only question you should have to ask for this would be – “where in the Constitution is congress given the authority to change the constitution by resolution?”

It doesn’t. And that resolution, in and of itself, is a Constitutional violation. More on that in a future article, of course.

James Madison had something to say about such a plan when he wrote:

“The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.” [emphasis added]

War Powers resolution or no war powers resolution – without a Congressional declaration, the president is not authorized to start an offensive military campaign. Period.

The bottom line? By using US Military to begin hostilities with a foreign nation without a Congressional declaration of war, Barack Obama has committed a serious violation of the Constitution. While he certainly is not the first to do so in regards to war powers, it’s high time that he becomes the last.

Top NYPD Commander Brutally Beaten

March 25, 2011


A top NYPD commander landed in the hospital with broken ribs after allegedly being brutally beaten by her husband on the front lawn of a home in Suffolk County, the Daily News reported Friday.

Deputy Inspector Juanita Holmes, a 24-year NYPD veteran, was beaten Monday by her estranged husband, retired Hempstead, L.I., Detective William Fowlkes, officials told the News.

Fowlkes, 47, followed Holmes, 46, to the home of a detective he suspected she was seeing romantically, the paper reported.

He allegedly began pummeling her on the front lawn. A friend heard Holmes’ screams and chased Fowlkes away.

Suffolk County police arrested Fowlkes Tuesday on charges of misdemeanor assault, trespassing and criminal mischief. Fowlkes was released after arraignment and is scheduled to return to court April 8.

A judge granted Holmes, the commander of the 81st Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, an order of protection against Fowlkes.

The couple had been separated and living in different apartments, officials familiar with the investigation told the News.

I-40 Bridge to be Named for Fallen North Carolina Trooper

March 23, 2011

27 Year-Old Patrolman Left Behind a Wife & Two Young Children When Killed in Pursuit Related Crash on Interstate 70 in Iredell County on March 15, 1968

Charlotte Observer Staff Reports

State and local officials will gather Thursday in Statesville for a ceremony honoring a state trooper who died while on duty a little more than 43 years ago in Iredell County.

A ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Front Street Baptist Church, 1403 West Front Street in Statesville, NC to mark the naming of the Interstate 40 bridge at the Iredell-Catawba county line for the late Cecil Hoffman.

Hoffman was a patrolman for the N.C. Highway Patrol when he was killed March 15, 1968, in a wreck that happened while he was pursuing a fleeing motorist. The wreck happened on U.S. 70. Hoffman, who was 27 at the time, left behind a wife and two young children.

Lt. Col. Wellington Scott of the Highway Patrol will be on hand for Thursday’s ceremony, which is open to the public.

North Carolina Highway Patrol In Memorium Page For Officers Killed in the Line of Duty:,000014,000721,000725,000726

North Carolina Crime Lab Flags Dozens More Mishandled Cases

March 23, 2011

By MIKE BAKER, Associated Press Writer

RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina’s crime lab has found dozens more cases of mishandled blood evidence, adding to an already extensive review of years-old files, officials said Tuesday.

The State Bureau of Investigation said it found the 74 cases after staff hand-reviewed documents from the 1990s. The files will be referred to local prosecutors to determine whether they include any improper convictions, and the SBI is continuing an internal review.

An external examination of crime lab operations last year flagged an initial batch of more than 200 cases in which blood evidence was omitted, overstated or falsely reported.

District attorneys said Tuesday they have reviewed all the cases in which someone was convicted — about 150 in all — and concluded that each one was supported by other evidence, such as a confession, eyewitness testimony and ballistics.

“There was additional overwhelming evidence in every one of them,” said Peg Dorer, executive director of the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys.

Defense attorneys questioned the reliability of the review led by prosecutors. Diane Savage, a lawyer who has focused on crime lab issues for years, said prosecutors can’t know how a jury would respond if it learned about improperly handled evidence. And she noted that confessions and eyewitness testimony aren’t always reliable.

“To me it seems like a complete whitewash,” Savage said.

The case that triggered the SBI review in the first place was based in part on the mishandled blood evidence and unreliable eyewitness testimony. Greg Taylor was exonerated last year after being wrongly imprisoned nearly 17 years for a murder conviction.

During Taylor’s innocence hearing, an SBI agent testified that agents were told to write in lab reports that evidence gave chemical indications for the presence of blood when the first test for blood came back positive. Agent Duane Deaver said agents were told to use that language even when a follow-up test was negative.

Deaver is linked to the five most egregious violations of blood evidence handling, and last year’s SBI audit accused him of overstating or falsely reporting test results.

CMPD Internal Affairs Investigating Allegations of Brutality Toward Suspect That Shot Officer

March 23, 2011

Information below from by Ann Sheridan

CHARLOTTE, N.C. —  Sharon Allen can’t sleep. The images of Sunday morning keep haunting her.

“They were beating, kicking him,” she said. “The gun was nowhere. He was laying in a ditch. And three cops were basically beating the crap out of him for five or seven minutes, maybe more,” Allen said.

Malcolm Xavier Springs, 20, is the man police allegedly beat. Minutes before the alleged incident, police say Springs shot Officer Brent Harrison. Harrison was released from the hospital Sunday evening.

Allen says she understands why police were angry.  “Yes I do. But what can you do if a person is handcuffed and shot and they’re basically laying in a ditch?”

She says there were three officers beating Springs.

“There was an officer sitting here with his dog watching. I can’t recall anyone saying anything or any cop trying to stop it,” she said.

Debra Walls is Springs’ mother. “I just want justice for both sides,” she said from her Kannapolis home. She’s angry she hasn’t been able to see her son and wants answers from police.

“I know there were tensions that were high, but that’s what they’re trained to do. That’s their job,” she said.

Right now their job is being reviewed by Internal Affairs, standard procedure when a police officer is shot or there are accusations of misconduct by officers.

“I feel like the truth must come out. There must be justice for both sides. I just want justice,” said Walls.

“That’s just awful,” said Springs’ brother Trenton Graham. He said he understands what his brother did is wrong, but says, “it still doesn’t give them the right to beat him.”

Related Articles:

Officer Shot in Leg Outside Gas Station

Investigators Looking for Witnesses in Officer-Involved Shooting

Kannapolis, NC Police Searching For Woman Accused of Assaulting Officer

March 23, 2011
 By NewsChannel 36 Staff /

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — Police in Kannapolis are asking for the public’s help finding a woman accused of assaulting an officer.

Megan Pethel and Jonathan Pittman allegedly assaulted an officer and then damaged police vehicles.

Pittman has been arrested, but Pethel remains on the run.

Police say she drives a gold 1999 Ford Contour with license plate ZZY-2127.

Anyone with information on Pethel’s whereabouts should call the Kannapolis Police Department at 704-920-4000.