September 25, 2021

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Local man sentenced for smuggling 35 people in hot trailer

18 min read
A 52-year-old Laredo resident has been ordered to federal prison for smuggling aliens, some of whom had lost consciousness

Read full article at: https://www.justice.gov May 11, 2021

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  • Afghanistan: Key Issues for Congressional Oversight
    In U.S GAO News
    The United States has provided approximately $38.6 billion in reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan and has over 35,000 troops in the country as of February 2009. Some progress has occurred in areas such as economic growth, infrastructure development, and training of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), but the overall security situation in Afghanistan has not improved after more than 7 years of U.S. and international efforts. In response, the new administration plans to deploy approximately 21,000 additional troops1 to Afghanistan this year, and has completed a strategic review of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Based on our past work and the significance of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan to the overall U.S. counterinsurgency strategy, we have highlighted Afghanistan as an urgent oversight issue facing this Congress. The government of Afghanistan, with the assistance of the international community, developed the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), which was finalized in June 20083, as a guiding document for achieving Afghanistan's reconstruction goals. The ANDS articulates the priorities of the government of Afghanistan as consisting of four major areas: (1) security; (2) governance, rule of law, and human rights; (3) economic and social development; and (4) counternarcotics. The United States adopted the ANDS as a guiding document for its efforts, and has also identified an end state for Afghanistan using four strategic goals: namely, that Afghanistan is: (1) never again a safe haven for terrorists and is a reliable, stable ally in the Global War on Terror (GWOT); (2) moderate and democratic, with a thriving private sector economy; (3) capable of governing its territory and borders; and (4) respectful of the rights of all its citizens. In discussing his new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan in March 2009, the President noted his goals were to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future. In addition, according to Department of State (State) officials, the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan is assembling provincial plans for security and development. Department of Defense (DOD), State, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) officials have suggested that securing, stabilizing, and reconstructing Afghanistan will take at least a decade and require continuing international assistance.Security in Afghanistan has worsened significantly in the last 3 years, impeding both U.S. and international partners' efforts to stabilize and rebuild the country. The security situation, including the overall increase in insurgent attacks from 2005 to 2008, is the result of a variety of factors including a resurgence of the Taliban in the south, the limited capabilities of Afghan security forces, a continuing and thriving illicit drug trade in the south, and the threat emanating from insurgent safe havens in Pakistan. Between fiscal years 2002 and 2009, the United States provided approximately $38.6 billion to support Afghanistan's reconstruction goals, which can often be characterized as construction. According to DOD, $22 billion of the $38.6 billion has been disbursed. Over half of the $38.6 billion was provided to support the development of the Afghan national army and police forces. Almost a third of the funding was provided to support economic and social development efforts, such as the construction of roads and schools, and the remainder was provided to governance, rule of law, and human rights and counternarcotics programs. Since 2003, we have issued 21 reports and testimonies on U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. Over the course of this work we have identified improvements that were needed as well as many obstacles that affect success and should be considered in program planning and implementation. In most of the U.S. efforts in the past, we found the need for improved planning, including the development of coordinated interagency plans that include measurable goals, specific time frames, cost estimates, and identification of external factors that could significantly affect efforts in key areas such as building Afghanistan's national security forces. We also concluded that several existing conditions, such as worsening security; the lack of a coordinated, detailed interagency plan; and the limited institutional capacity of the Afghanistan government continue to create challenges to the U.S. efforts to assist with securing, stabilizing, and rebuilding Afghanistan. To assist the 111th Congress, GAO is highlighting key issues for consideration in developing oversight agendas and determining the way forward in securing and stabilizing Afghanistan. Significant oversight will be needed to help ensure visibility over the cost and progress of these efforts. The suggested areas for additional oversight include the following topics: (1) U.S. and international commitments, (2) Security environment, (3) U.S. forces and equipment, (4) Afghan national security forces, (5) Counternarcotics efforts, (6) Economic development, (7) Government capacity, (8) Accountability for U.S. provided weapons, and (9) Oversight of contractor performance.
    [Read More…]
  • Defense Health Care: Actions Needed to Define and Sustain Wartime Medical Skills for Enlisted Personnel
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The military departments have not fully defined, tracked, and assessed wartime medical skills for enlisted medical personnel. The departments have defined these skills for 73 of 77 occupations. However, among other issues, the Army and the Air Force have not defined skills for numerous highly-skilled subspecialties that require additional training and expertise, such as Army Critical Care Flight Paramedics. Subspecialty personnel are key to supporting lifesaving medical care during deployed operations. The Army does not consistently track wartime medical skills training for enlisted medical personnel in its official system. The military departments are not able to fully assess the preparedness of enlisted medical personnel because, according to officials, they have not developed performance goals and targets for skills training completion. As a result, the military departments lack reasonable assurance that all enlisted medical personnel are ready to perform during deployed operations. The Department of Defense (DOD) has not fully developed plans and processes to sustain the wartime medical skills of enlisted medical personnel. While the Defense Health Agency (DHA) has initiated planning efforts to assess how the military departments' three primary training approaches sustain readiness (see figure), these efforts will not fully capture needed information. For example, DHA's planned metrics to assess the role of military hospitals and civilian partnerships in sustaining readiness would apply to a limited number of enlisted occupations. As a result, DHA is unable to fully assess how each training approach sustains readiness and determine current and future training investments. Approaches to Train Enlisted Medical Personnel's Wartime Medical Skills DOD officials have identified challenges associated with implementing its training approaches. For example, DOD relies on civilian partnerships to sustain enlisted medical personnel's skills, but DOD officials stated that licensing requirements and other issues present challenges to establishing and operationalizing civilian partnerships. DOD has not analyzed or responded to such risks, and may therefore be limited in its ability to sustain wartime medical skills. Why GAO Did This Study DOD has over 73,000 active-duty enlisted medical personnel who must be ready to provide life-saving care to injured and ill servicemembers during deployed operations, using their wartime medical skills. Senate Report 116-48 accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 included a provision for GAO to review DOD's efforts to maintain enlisted personnel's wartime medical skills. This report examines, among other objectives, the extent to which (1) the military departments have defined, tracked, and assessed enlisted personnel's wartime medical skills, and (2) DOD has developed plans and processes to sustain these skills and assessed risks associated with their implementation. GAO analyzed wartime medical skills checklists and guidance; reviewed plans for skills sustainment; and interviewed officials from DOD and military department medical commands and agencies, and nine inpatient military medical treatment facilities.
    [Read More…]
  • G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement on Arrest and Detention of Alexey Navalny
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • 2020 Wiretap Report: Intercepts and Convictions Decrease
    In U.S Courts
    Federal and state courts reported a combined 26 percent decrease in authorized wiretaps in 2020, compared with 2019, according to the Judiciary’s 2020 Wiretap Report. Convictions in cases involving electronic surveillance also decreased.
    [Read More…]
  • U.S. Special Envoy and Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland’s Visit to Tripoli
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Program Evaluation: Key Terms and Concepts
    In U.S GAO News
    Both the executive branch and congressional committees need evaluative information to help them make decisions about the programs they oversee—information that tells them whether, and why, a program is working well or not. The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) and GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) established a framework for performance management and accountability within the federal government. Building on that foundation, Congress has since passed, among other laws, the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (Evidence Act) to strengthen the evidence-building efforts of executive branch agencies. This product updates our previous glossary (GAO-11-646SP) to highlight different types of evaluations for answering questions about program performance, as well as relevant issues to ensure study quality. This glossary can help agency officials better understand fundamental concepts related to evaluation and enhance their evidence-building capacity. For more information, contact Lawrance Evans, Jr. at 202-512-2700 or EvansL@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Biomedical Research: NIH Should Publicly Report More Information about the Licensing of Its Intellectual Property
    In U.S GAO News
    Research conducted at Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) labs led to 4,446 U.S. patents owned by the agency covering a range of inventions from 1980 through 2019. During that period, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) had 93 patents—2 percent of the total—that contributed to the successful development of 34 drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and brought to market, including vaccines and treatments for cancer. These 34 drugs were developed by pharmaceutical companies and were associated with 32 licenses granted to them by NIH. As shown in the figure, these licenses have generated up to $2 billion in royalty revenue for NIH since 1991, when FDA approved the first of these drugs. Three licenses generated more than $100 million each for the agency. Royalties from NIH Licenses of Inventions Associated with FDA-Approved Drugs, 1991 to February 2020 When licensing its inventions, NIH prioritizes the likelihood that the licensee can successfully develop a drug by considering such factors as technical expertise and the ability to raise capital. Consistent with federal interpretation of technology transfer statutory authorities, NIH does not consider the affordability of the resulting drug. NIH provides limited information to the public about its licensing activities. For example, the agency does not report which of its patents are licensed or release metrics that would enable the public to evaluate how licensing affects patient access to resulting drugs. Increasing the transparency of its licensing activities could improve the public’s and policymakers’ understanding of NIH’s management of its intellectual property. HHS monitors for unauthorized use of its inventions (infringement) and has taken steps to protect its rights. HHS relies primarily on inventors at its labs to monitor for potential infringement and generally encourages potential infringers to license the inventions. If cases proceed to litigation, HHS relies on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to protect its rights. Since 2009, HHS has worked with DOJ to defend its intellectual property in several cases in the U.S. and abroad and has referred one case to DOJ for litigation against an alleged infringer. HHS labs conduct research that can contribute to the development of new life-saving drugs. HHS may grant rights to its inventions by licensing the patents to pharmaceutical companies that conduct the additional development activities and testing necessary to bring drugs to market. Public health experts and patients’ rights advocates have raised concerns about the prices of drugs developed with federal support. GAO was asked to review HHS’s management of its intellectual property. This report examines (1) the extent to which HHS-owned intellectual property has contributed to the development of FDA-approved drugs, (2) what is known about the licenses associated with FDA-approved drugs, (3) factors NIH prioritizes when licensing its inventions and information about licensing it makes public, and (4) steps HHS has taken to protect its rights. GAO reviewed relevant laws and agency documents, analyzed patent and licensing data, and interviewed HHS officials, academic experts, industry representatives, and nongovernmental organizations. GAO is making two recommendations, including that NIH provide more information to the public about the licensing of its intellectual property. HHS concurred with GAO’s recommendations. For more information, contact John Neumann, (202) 512-6888, NeumannJ@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Department Press Briefing – February 25, 2021
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Former Managers at Major Property Management Firm Plead Guilty to Defrauding U.S. Air Force
    In Crime News
    An Arizona man and a Texas woman have pleaded guilty to major fraud against the United States, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, respectively, for their roles in a scheme to defraud the U.S. Air Force in connection with privatized military housing contracts between approximately 2013 and 2016.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Requires Substantial Divestitures in Zen-Noh Acquisition of Grain Elevators from Bunge to Protect American Farmers
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it will require Zen-Noh Grain Corp. (ZGC) to divest nine grain elevators in nine geographic areas located in five states along the Mississippi River and its tributaries in order to proceed with its proposed $300 million acquisition of 35 operating and 13 idled grain elevators from Bunge North America Inc. 
    [Read More…]
  • U.S. Army Soldier Arrested for Attempting to Assist ISIS to Conduct Deadly Ambush on U.S. Troops
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department, along with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and U.S. Army Counterintelligence, announced today the arrest of a private first class in the U.S. Army, on federal terrorism charges based on Bridges’ alleged efforts to assist ISIS to attack and kill U.S. soldiers in the Middle East. 
    [Read More…]
  • Update to Secretary Pompeo’s Travel to Asia
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Morgan Ortagus, [Read More…]
  • Russia and the Assad Regime’s Superficial Support for Syrian Refugees
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Cale Brown, Deputy [Read More…]
  • On the Loss of Life Due to Significant Flooding in Central Vietnam
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Drinking Water: EPA Could Use Available Data to Better Identify Neighborhoods at Risk of Lead Exposure
    In U.S GAO News
    GAO's statistical analysis indicates that areas with older housing and vulnerable populations (e.g., families in poverty) have higher concentrations of lead service lines in the selected cities GAO examined. By using geospatial lead service line data from the selected water systems and geospatial data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS), GAO identified characteristics of neighborhoods with higher concentrations of lead service lines. The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) guidance for water systems on how to identify the location of sites at high-risk of having lead service lines has not been updated since 1991 and many water systems face challenges identifying areas at risk of having lead service lines. By developing guidance for water systems that outlines methods for identifying high-risk locations using publicly available data, EPA could better ensure that public water systems test water samples from locations at greater risk of having lead service lines and identify areas with vulnerable populations to focus lead service line replacement efforts. (See figure for common sources of lead in home drinking water.) Common Sources of Lead in Drinking Water within Homes and Residences EPA has taken some actions to address the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act requirement, which include developing a strategic plan regarding lead in public water systems. However, EPA's published plan did not satisfy the statutory requirement that the agency's strategic plan address targeted outreach, education, technical assistance, and risk communication undertaken by EPA, states, and public water systems. For example, the plan does not discuss public education, technical assistance or risk communication. Instead, EPA's plan focused solely on how to notify households when EPA learns of certain exceedances of lead in their drinking water. Moreover, EPA's plan is not consistent with leading practices for strategic planning. For example, EPA's plan does not set a mission statement or define long-term goals. Developing a strategic plan that meets the statutory requirement and fully reflects leading practices for strategic planning would give EPA greater assurance that it has effectively planned for how it will communicate the risks of lead in drinking water to the public. Lead in drinking water comes primarily from corrosion of service lines connecting the water main to a house or building, pipes inside a building, or plumbing fixtures. As GAO reported in September 2018, the total number of lead service lines in drinking water systems is unknown, and less than 20 of the 100 largest water systems have such data publicly available. GAO was asked to examine the actions EPA and water systems are taking to educate the public on the risks of lead in drinking water. This report examines, among other things: (1) the extent to which neighborhood data on cities served by lead service lines can be used to focus lead reduction efforts; and (2) actions EPA has taken to address WIIN Act requirements, and EPA's risk communication documents. GAO conducted a statistical analysis combining geospatial lead service line and ACS data to identify characteristics of selected communities; reviewed legal requirements and EPA documents; and interviewed EPA officials. GAO is making four recommendations, including that EPA develop (1) guidance for water systems on lead reduction efforts, and (2) a strategic plan that meets the WIIN Act requirement. EPA agreed with one recommendation and disagreed with the others. GAO continues to believe the recommendations are warranted, as discussed in the report. For more information, contact J. Alfredo Gómez at (202) 512-3841 or gomezj@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • NASA’s Cold Atom Lab Takes One Giant Leap for Quantum Science
    In Space
    A new study describes [Read More…]
  • Opening Remarks at the Indo-Pacific Conference on Strengthening Transboundary River Governance
    In Climate - Environment - Conservation
    Ambassador Atul Keshap, [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Settles with New Jersey-Based IT Consulting Company to Resolve Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it reached a settlement with Quantum Integrators Group (Quantum), an IT consulting and staffing company based in New Jersey. The settlement resolves claims that Quantum (1) discriminated against a lawful permanent resident by requiring her, based on her citizenship status, to provide unnecessary documentation before it would refer her for an employment opportunity, and (2) routinely required other work-authorized non-U.S. citizens to present unnecessary documents to prove their eligibility to work.
    [Read More…]
  • Operation Legend: Case of the Day
    In Crime News
    Each weekday, the Department of Justice will highlight a case that has resulted from Operation Legend.  Today’s case is out of the Western District of Missouri.  Operation Legend launched in Kansas City on July 8, 2020, in response to the city facing increased homicide and non-fatal shooting rates.
    [Read More…]
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