September 22, 2021

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Local man who attempted to smuggle 13,000 rounds of ammunition sent to prison

15 min read
A 40-year old Laredo man has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction for attempting to smuggle ammunition out of the United States

Read full article at: https://www.justice.gov August 4, 2021

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  • Three Tribal Officials Charged in Bribery Scheme
    In Crime News
    Two current tribal government officials and one former tribal government official of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation (MHA Nation) were charged by criminal complaint unsealed today for their alleged acceptance of bribes and kickbacks from a contractor providing construction services on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation (FBIR), which is the home of the MHA Nation.
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  • Justice Department Reaches Proposed Consent Decree with the State of New Jersey to Resolve Claims that the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women Violated the Constitution by Failing to Protect Prisoners from Sexual Abuse by Staff
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    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found About 1.6 percent of the total available budget authority government-wide was cancelled from fiscal year 2009 to fiscal year 2019, averaging $23.9 billion per year. The variations in cancelled appropriations from year to year can be explained largely by trends in four departments. Together they represent 86 percent of the total government-wide cancelled appropriations, but their rate of cancellations were within a few percentage points of the government-wide rate. Four Agencies Represent the Majority of Total Cancellations from FY2009–FY2019 Cancelled appropriations for the six case study accounts GAO reviewed largely resulted from program-specific factors: Actual program needs were less than estimated. For example, actual versus projected troop levels and warfront movements can contribute to cancelled appropriations at the Department of Defense (DOD). Some program funds are only for specific purposes. For example, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families officials reported that some states declined funding for a teen sex and pregnancy prevention program, and the agency did not have the authority to redirect those funds for other purposes. Some programs' costs are more unpredictable than others. Contract and acquisition costs can be unpredictable . When final costs are less than originally estimated, agencies may have to cancel the difference. In contrast, agencies with a higher proportion of personnel expenses, which are relatively predictable, can more easily avoid cancelled appropriations. All of GAO's case study agencies have procedures in place to help limit discretionary cancelled appropriations. For example, the Army established a program that helps reduce cancelled appropriations by providing management with metrics and tools to help prevent them. Why GAO Did This Study Laws limit the time that agencies have available to use fixed-term appropriations for obligations and expenditures. However, agencies do not always obligate and outlay these funds in time, which ultimately results in cancelled appropriations. Efforts to limit the amount of cancelled appropriations result in more accurate budget estimation and fiscal projections, a more efficient appropriations process, and better service to the public. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 includes a provision for GAO to review the status of cancelled appropriations. This report addresses (1) the extent of appropriations that were cancelled in fiscal years 2009 through 2019 and how the rate of cancelled appropriations and other characteristics differ across agencies, (2) factors that contribute to the level of cancelled appropriations in selected accounts at agencies, and (3) efforts selected agencies make to prevent the cancellation of funds. To provide government-wide trends, GAO analyzed Department of the Treasury and Office of Management and Budget data. GAO also analyzed related documents from six case study accounts at DOD, HHS, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and interviewed officials at these agencies. The selected accounts included the three with the most cancelled appropriations government-wide and three additional accounts to represent the major categories of federal spending: personnel, acquisitions, grants, and contracts. For more information, contact Jeff Arkin at (202) 512-6806 or arkinj@gao.gov.
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    In Crime News
    A South Korean national pleaded guilty today to participating in a scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Defense.
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  • Owner and Operator of India-Based Call Centers Sentenced to Prison for Scamming U.S. Victims out of Millions of Dollars
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    An Indian national was sentenced today to 20 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release in the Southern District of Texas for his role in operating and funding India-based call centers that defrauded U.S. victims out of millions of dollars between 2013 and 2016.
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  • Warfighter Support: Army Has Taken Steps to Improve Reset Process, but More Complete Reporting of Equipment and Future Costs Is Needed
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO FoundSince GAO’s 2007 review, the Army has taken steps to improve its use of reset in targeting equipment shortages. In 2007, GAO noted that the Army’s reset implementation strategy did not specifically target shortages of equipment on hand among units preparing for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan in order to mitigate operational risk. GAO recommended that the Army act to ensure that its reset priorities address equipment shortages in the near term to ensure that the needs of deploying units could be met. The Department of Defense (DOD) did not concur, and stated that there was no need to reassess its approaches to equipment reset. However, in 2008, the Army issued its Depot Maintenance Enterprise Strategic Plan, noted that filling materiel shortages within warfighting units is a key challenge facing the depot maintenance enterprise, and called for changes in programs and policies to address materiel shortages within warfighting units. Further, recognizing that retrograde operations—the return of equipment from theater to the United States—are essential to facilitating depot level reset and redistribution of equipment, the Army in 2010 developed the retrograde, reset, and redistribution (R3) initiative to synchronize retrograde, national depot-level reset efforts, and redistribution efforts. In March 2011, the Army issued an R3 equipment priority list, and revised and reissued an updated list at the end of fiscal year 2011 with full endorsement from all Army commands. The R3 initiative has only begun to be fully implemented this year, and thus it is too early to tell whether it will provide a consistent and transparent process for addressing the Army’s current or future equipping needs.GAO found that the Army’s monthly reports to Congress do not include expected future reset costs or distinguish between planned and unplanned reset of equipment. GAO has reported that agencies and decision makers need visibility into the accuracy of program execution in order to ensure basic accountability and to anticipate future costs. However, the Army does not include its future reset liability in its reports to Congress, which DOD most recently estimated in 2010 to be $24 billion. Also, the Army reports to Congress include the number of items that it has repaired in a given month using broad categories, such as Tactical Wheeled Vehicles, which may obscure progress on equipment planned for reset. For example, GAO’s analysis of Army data showed that 4,144 tactical wheeled vehicles were planned for reset in fiscal year 2010, while 3,563 vehicles were executed. According to the Army’s current reporting method, this would result in a reported completion rate of 86 percent, but GAO’s analysis showed that only approximately 40 percent of the equipment that was reset had been planned and programmed. This reporting method may also restrict visibility over the Army’s multiyear reset liability. For example, both the M1200 Knight and the M1151 HMMWV are categorized as Tactical Wheeled Vehicles, but anticipated reset costs for the M1200 are significantly higher. In 2010 more M1200s were repaired than planned, thus accounting for a larger share of the budgeted reset funds. With fewer funds remaining, some equipment planned and budgeted for repair was not reset, pushing that workload to future fiscal years. These differences are not captured in the Army’s monthly reports, and thus Congress may not have a complete picture of the Army’s short- and long-term progress in addressing reset.Why GAO Did This StudyFrom 2007 to 2012, the Army received about $42 billion to fund its expenses for the reset of equipment—including more than $21 billion for depot maintenance—in support of continuing overseas contingency operations in Southwest Asia. Reset is intended to mitigate the effects of combat stress on equipment by repairing, rebuilding, upgrading, or procuring replacement equipment. Reset equipment is used to supply non-deployed units and units preparing for deployment while meeting ongoing operational requirements. In 2007, GAO reported that the Army’s reset strategy did not target equipment shortages for units deploying to theater. For this report, GAO (1) examined steps the Army has taken to improve its equipment reset strategy since 2007, and (2) determined the extent to which the Army’s reset reports to Congress provide visibility over reset costs and execution. To conduct this review, GAO reviewed and analyzed DOD and Army documentation on equipment reset strategies and monthly Army reports to Congress, and interviewed DOD and Army officials.
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  • Over-The-Counter Drugs: Information on FDA’s Regulation of Most OTC Drugs
    In U.S GAO News
    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulated most over-the-counter (OTC) drugs—that is, drugs available without a prescription—through the OTC monograph process. FDA has described an OTC monograph as a "rulebook" for marketing safe and effective OTC drugs, such as aspirin, cough and cold medicine, and hand sanitizer. OTC monographs established conditions—such as active ingredients, indications for use, dosage forms, and product labeling—under which an OTC drug was generally recognized as safe and effective. According to FDA officials, before the CARES Act, which was enacted in March 2020, the agency's ability to update and finalize monographs in response to safety issues and to reflect new scientific information was limited by the rulemaking process the agency was required to follow, as well as insufficient resources. Agency officials estimated that it took at least 6 years to complete the required rulemaking process. Additionally, the agency reported it was critically under-resourced to regulate the estimated 100,000 OTC drugs marketed through the monograph process. However, the CARES Act provided for a new process to regulate these OTC drugs rather than the rulemaking process. FDA officials expect it will take less time to update and finalize requirements for OTC drugs using the new process. The CARES Act also authorized FDA to assess user fees to provide additional resources to regulate OTC drugs. Although FDA officials said this new process and user fees should improve its regulation of OTC drugs, the agency's analysis of the effect of the CARES Act is still ongoing. FDA officials told GAO that prior to the CARES Act, they used various methods to identify and respond to safety issues related to OTC drugs. For example, to identify these issues, FDA officials said they read medical literature related to safety issues and reviewed reports submitted to the agency's adverse event reporting system. To respond to these issues, FDA took steps such as issuing drug safety communications to consumers and requesting that manufacturers make changes to a drug's labeling. For example, in 2015, two FDA advisory committees recommended that cough and cold drugs with codeine be removed from the relevant OTC monograph for use in drugs in children. In 2018, FDA also issued a drug safety communication stating the risks outweighed the benefits for the use of these drugs in children. However, FDA officials said these methods were not a substitute for rulemaking because manufacturers could legally market their OTC drugs without making requested safety changes until the rulemaking process was completed. According to FDA officials, the new process for regulating OTC drugs included in the CARES Act could improve FDA's ability to address identified safety risks in a more timely and efficient manner in the future. The act established an expedited process to address safety issues that pose an imminent hazard to public health or to change a drug's labeling to mitigate a significant or unreasonable risk of a serious adverse event. OTC drugs prevent and treat a variety of conditions; for example, sunscreen is used to help prevent sunburn. FDA officials and stakeholders, such as industry representatives and patient and provider groups, have questioned whether the monograph process used to regulate most OTC drugs has been overly burdensome and has limited FDA's ability to quickly update and finalize monographs in response to potential safety issues for consumers. Enacted in March 2020, the CARES Act changed how FDA regulates OTC drugs. The Sunscreen Innovation Act included a provision for GAO to review FDA's regulation of OTC drugs. This report describes, among other issues, (1) the factors that affected FDA's ability to regulate OTC drugs and (2) how FDA identified and responded to safety issues associated with these drugs. GAO reviewed federal statutes and agency documents and interviewed FDA officials and stakeholders familiar with the monograph process. These stakeholders included representatives from the OTC drug industry, health care provider and consumer groups, and researchers. The Department of Health and Human Services provided technical comments on this report, which GAO incorporated as appropriate. For more information, contact John E. Dicken at (202) 512-7114 or dickenj@gao.gov.
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    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Greenbelt, Maryland, returned an indictment today charging an Upper Marlboro tax return preparer with conspiracy to defraud the United States and aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur.
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  • Tennessee Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Hate Crime
    In Crime News
    Christopher Beckham, 35, of Nashville, Tennessee, pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court to violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Beckham was indicted in April 2018 after an investigation into an incident that occurred on Oct. 24, 2017.
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