A common refrain about federal law enforcement post-9/11 is that the feds are no longer in the business of fighting the illegal drug trade. It was repeated several times on the greatest television show ever — “The Wire.” Anti-terrorism and the Wall Street meltdown with its associated financial scandals may indeed have focused the feds’ resources elsewhere. But that doesn’t mean federal agents and prosecutors aren’t still in the game.
Just ask the 53 Bronx residents charged in six sweeping federal indictments aimed at the crack and heroin trade in two Bronx housing projects. Some 450 federal agents and New York City cops descended upon the Morrisania section of the Bronx this morning to corral more than three dozen of the accused. And the feds used all the weapons at their disposal in the investigation —wiretaps, informants, undercover officers — to build the case that resulted in the execution of 22 search warrants this morning and the seizure of $18,000, four guns, and 1000 bags of heroin.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called a press conference to announce the arrests, the third such news event since he was sworn in last month. The first two were connected to white collar cases. Read the release issued by Bharara’s office here.
Apparently, a Bronx judge has had it with the super-casual attire that accused criminals are wearing to court these days. The judge berated a defense lawyer for letting his client dress sloppily and sent the sister of another defendant scrambling for dress pants and a button-down shirt.
Click here to read the post on Gothamist, which has a link to the original Daily News story.
It’s likely that the big issue as the case of the so-called Newburgh Four goes forward will be: What was the engine for the alleged plot? Was it self-propelled, as in, the four accused Muslim converts acted on their own with the FBI’s informant merely the investigators’ eyes and ears into the plot to blow up synagogues in the Bronx and military airplanes at an Air National Guard base in New Windsor. Or was it informant-driven, meaning that the FBI’s informant led the four into a plot that would never otherwise have jelled or moved forward.
The actions of the informant and how he was managed by his FBI handlers will be explored if the case goes to trial. The day after the four were arrested, the Iman at the Newburgh mosque where a couple of the accused worshipped said other worshippers complained to him about a man who was offering money to those who would join him in some undertaking. FBI director Robert Mueller III defends the bureau’s practice of using informants at mosques to gather information on other worshippers and clerics in an AP story carried on the web site ticklethewire.com