Morning Security Brief: Drug Tunnels, Video Confessions, Corrections Contraband, and More

By Carlton Purvis

►DHS and ICE agents on Friday were still gathering evidence after discovering a pipeline-style smuggling operation that started underneath a vacant Calexico supermarket. The use of pipeline tunnels is one of the newest approaches being used by drug smugglers, according to ICE. Narrow subterranean passages are lined with PVC and drugs are smuggled through. The tunnel was found when a hazmat unit responded to a possible gas leak at the grocery store. When they entered the building they found large drilling equipment and alerted authorities. No arrests have been made. "This discovery again shows the Mexican cartels' growing desperation in the face of heightened border security," said Ricardo Sandoval, assistant special agent in charge for ICE HSI in El Centro, California, in a press release.

►Publicly broadcasted, videotaped confessions are becoming a staple in the war on cartels in Mexico. “These sensational videotaped confessions have become the latest tactic employed by media-savvy officials trying to convince a skeptical electorate that authorities are not just arresting criminals, but criminals guilty of the crimes of which they are accused,” the Washington Post reports. One legal expert said the confessions actually hold no weight in court and critics say it’s a publicity stunt to make it seem like the authorities are working hard to stop criminals. Human rights advocates say the confessions are coerced.

►At Atascadero State Hospital, a facility for mentally ill criminals, officials are cracking down on contraband brought in by employees after a recent drill revealed a concerning amount. Employees are restricted from bringing items like hair brushes, lighters, CDs, and iPods into the facility, but some are still making it inside. Lawmakers and officials are worried that items brought in by employees are ending up as weapons or being used as currency for patients. Now the staff will be asked to empty their pockets upon entering the facility, and they will be subjected to metal detectors. It has been many years since metal detectors were last used to screen all staff, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports. 

►To expedite background checks, the public now has the option of going through FBI-approved private companies. These “channelers” have contracted with the agency to receive and submit criminal history information electronically on its behalf. These channelers can receive fingerprint submissions and other “relevant data” needed to perform background checks. A list of approved channelers can be found here.

►A post from the National Retail Federation describes some of the ways businesses used information from DHS to prepare for Hurricane Irene. ⇒ An article from SMT talks about PTSD, its effects on private security personnel, and a new program that offers free PTSD counseling for veterans. ⇒ The jury's still out on the bird-like drone that crashed in Pakistan last week, and no one has claimed responsibility for it yet.



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