Criminal Justice News

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Register Now for Houses of Worship Emergency Preparedness Webinar



The Frederick County (Md.) Sheriff’s office, in partnership with the Mid-Atlantic Center for Emergency Management at Frederick Community College, will present a webinar on houses of worship emergency preparedness on Friday, Dec. 15, at 10 a.m. The webinar covers a review of hazards, the planning process and the Justice Technology Information Center’s Safeguarding Houses of Worship app. To register, visit https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4259113708350553346.

The sheriff’s office will also host a live workshop for local houses of worship on Monday, Dec. 11, at 6:30 p.m. at the Frederick County Law Enforcement Center. No registration is required; attendees are encouraged to bring an iOS or Android device to download the SHOW app.

For more information, contact Lt. Mark Landahl at (301) 600-4018 or by email at mlandahl@frederickcountymd.gov.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

US Extradites Former Salvadoran Military Officer to Spain to Face Charges for Participation in 1989 Jesuit Massacre



The United States today extradited Inocente Orlando Montano Morales, a former colonel in the Salvadoran army, to stand trial in Spain for charges related to the murder of five Spanish Jesuit priests in El Salvador in 1989.  This is one of the first top-ranking Salvadoran commanders to face criminal prosecution.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon Jr. of the Eastern District of North Carolina, Acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb for the District of Massachusetts, and Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made the announcement.

Inocente Orlando Montano Morales, 74, formerly of Everett, Massachusetts, and 19 other former Salvadoran military officials were indicted in Spain for the 1989 murders of five Spanish Jesuit priests during the 10-year Salvadoran civil conflict.  An arrest warrant for Montano was issued in March 2011 by a Spanish magistrate judge.

“Criminals and those lawfully charged with criminal offenses overseas should not be able to find safe haven in the United States,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan.  “Today’s extradition demonstrates our firm commitment to honoring our obligations under extradition treaties.  As a result, an alleged human-rights violator will now face justice in Spain.”

“This extradition, and the investigation and prosecution that preceded it, marks the culmination of longstanding and significant collaboration among HSI Boston, ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center, the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Boston and Raleigh, and DOJ’s Office of International Affairs,” said ICE Deputy Director Homan. “We are grateful for the support of our law enforcement partners, DOJ, and our Department of State colleagues to ensure that Montano will face justice in Spain for his crimes and will not find safe haven in the United States.”

In response to the government of Spain’s request pursuant to the extradition treaty between the United States and Spain, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina in April 2015 seeking Montano’s extradition to Spain.  According to the complaint, between 1980 and 1991, El Salvador was engulfed in a civil conflict between the military-led government and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN).  During this conflict, in the early morning hours of Nov. 16, 1989, members of the Salvadoran military allegedly murdered six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and the housekeeper’s 16-year old daughter at the Universidad Centroamericana.  Five of the Jesuit priests were Spanish nationals, and the remaining victims were from El Salvador.



At the time, Montano was a colonel in the Salvadoran army, and he also served as Vice Minister of Defense and Public Safety.  The complaint alleges that he shared oversight responsibility over a government radio station that, days before the massacre, issued threats urging the murder of the Jesuit priests.  The day before the murders, Montano also allegedly participated in a series of meetings during which one of his fellow officers gave the order to kill the leader of the Jesuits and leave no witnesses.  The following day, members of the Salvadoran army allegedly executed the six priests, their housekeeper, and the housekeeper’s daughter.

On Feb. 4, 2016, a U.S. magistrate judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina ruled that Montano could be extradited to Spain to stand trial for charges stemming from his participation in the murder of the five Spanish Jesuit priests.  In August 2017, the federal district court in the Eastern District of North Carolina dismissed Montano’s habeas corpus petition challenging the magistrate judge’s ruling.  Montano unsuccessfully sought a stay of his extradition in the Eastern District of North Carolina, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court.  On Oct. 20, the U.S. Department of State issued an order granting Montano’s surrender to Spain.

Montano’s extradition follows his 21-month federal prison sentence in the United States for his 2013 conviction in the District of Massachusetts for immigration fraud and perjury in connection with false statements that he made to immigration authorities to remain in the United States.  Montano served his prison sentence in North Carolina, which is where his extradition proceedings took place. 

His criminal conviction stemmed from false statements Montano made to obtain Temporary Protective Status (TPS), a benefit available to foreign nationals, permitting them to remain in the United States if they are unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, the temporary effects of an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. In 2002, Montano was present in the United States and, on several occasions thereafter, applied for and obtained TPS. On his applications, Montano falsified the date on which he entered the country because he knew that if he stated the actual date, he would have been ineligible for TPS.

The allegations contained in the Spanish extradition request are merely accusations, and any finding of guilt or innocence will be made by Spanish courts.

The criminal investigation in the United States was conducted by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations with support from the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center.  The extradition proceedings were handled by attorneys from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina, the District of Massachusetts, and the Office of International Affairs.

Attorney General Sessions and Acting DEA Administrator Patterson Announce New Tools to Address Opioid Crisis




Continuing to follow President Trump’s strong leadership on combatting the deadly opioid crisis, Attorney General Sessions today announced new resources and stepped up efforts to address the drug and opioid crisis.

Joined by Acting DEA Administrator Robert Patterson, Attorney General Sessions announced the following efforts during a press conference at the Department of Justice: over $12 million in grant funding to assist law enforcement in combating illegal manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamine, heroin, and prescription opioids; the establishment of a new DEA Field Division in Louisville, Kentucky, which will include Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, a move meant to better align DEA enforcement efforts within the Appalachian mountain region; and a directive to all U.S. Attorneys to designate an Opioid Coordinator to work closely with prosecutors, and with other federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement to coordinate and optimize federal opioid prosecutions in every district.

“Today we are facing the worst drug crisis in American history, with one American dying of a drug overdose every nine minutes,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  “That’s why, under President Trump’s strong leadership, the Department of Justice has been taking action to make our drug law enforcement efforts more effective. Today we announce three new initiatives to do just that.  First, we will invest $12 million in funding for our state and local law enforcement partners to take heroin and methamphetamine off of our streets. Second, we will restructure DEA's Field Divisions for the first time in nearly 20 years. Third, we will require all of our federal prosecutors' offices to designate an Opioid Coordinator who will customize our anti-opioid strategy in every district in America. These steps will make our law enforcement efforts smarter and more effective—and ultimately they will save American lives."

“DEA continually looks for ways to improve operations and interagency cooperation and more efficiently leverage resources,” said Acting DEA Administrator Robert W. Patterson. “By creating a new division in the region, this restructuring places DEA in lockstep with our partners in the area to do just that. This change will produce more effective investigations on heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid trafficking, all of which have a significant impact on the region.”

COPS Anti-Heroin Task Force Grants and Anti-Meth Program

The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office is awarding a total of $7.19 million in FY 2017 funding through the Anti-Heroin Task Force Program (AHTF).  AHTF provides two years of funding directly to law enforcement agencies in states with high per capita levels of primary treatment admissions for heroin and other opioids. This funding will support the location or investigation of illicit activities related to the distribution of heroin or the unlawful distribution of prescription opioids.

The COPS Office will also award a total of $5.03 million in FY 2017 funding through the COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program (CAMP).  The state agencies receiving funding today have demonstrated numerous seizures of precursor chemicals, finished methamphetamine, laboratories, and laboratory dump seizures. State agencies will be awarded two years of funding through CAMP to support the investigation of illicit activities related to the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine.

The complete list of Anti-Heroin Task Force Program (AHTF) award recipients, including funding amounts, can be found here.

The complete list of COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program (CAMP) award recipients, including funding amounts, can be found here.

Establishment of DEA Louisville Field Division

The DEA will establish the Louisville Field Division – its 22nd division office in the United States – on Jan. 1, 2018.  It will include Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia.  This action converts the existing Louisville District Office into a field division in an effort to enhance DEA enforcement efforts within the Appalachian mountain region and unify drug trafficking investigations under a single Special Agent in Charge.  DEA anticipates that this change will produce more effective investigations on heroin, fentanyl and prescription opioid trafficking, all of which have a significant impact on the region.  The division will also better align DEA with the U.S. Attorney’s Office districts in those areas, similar to current ATF and FBI offices, and also to the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program.

The Louisville Division will be led by Special Agent in Charge D. Christopher Evans, who comes from the Detroit Field Division where he served as Associate Special Agent in Charge.

Designation of Opioid Coordinators

Every U.S. Attorney will designate an Opioid Coordinator by the close of business on Dec. 15, 2017. Each USAO Opioid Coordinator will be responsible for facilitating intake of cases involving prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl;  convening a task force of federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement to identify opioid cases for federal prosecution, facilitate interdiction efforts, and tailor their district’s response to the needs of the community it serves; providing legal advice and training to AUSAs regarding the prosecution of opioid offenses; maintaining statistics on the opioid prosecutions in  the district; and developing and continually evaluating the effectiveness of the office’s strategy to combat the opioid epidemic.