ELEVATE Command Staff Briefing

News Blog

November 2022 

Protecting Yourself from Tech Support Scams

November 29, 2022

On a new episode of the Inside the FBI podcast, we dissect tech support scams. 

In these situations, criminals impersonate information technology professionals in order to persuade unsuspecting victims into sending them money or granting them remote access to their computers. By doing so, however, victims can literally open the door to criminals stealing their personal and financial data. 

Tune in now to learn how these scams work, how the Bureau collaborates with law enforcement partners across the globe to disrupt these criminal efforts and bring their perpetrators to justice, how you can keep yourself safe from this risk, and how you can report suspected tech scams to the FBI. 

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Violent Crime Case Round-Up 

November 23, 2022

The FBI plays a key role in combating violent crime across our country—and in some cases, abroad—through our investigative work targeting gangs and criminal organizations, violent crimes against children, Indian Country crime, human trafficking and involuntary servitude, bank robbery, and jewelry and gem theft.

FBI investigators usually work in partnership with other law enforcement groups, often establishing tasks forces to concentrate resources and efforts. This round-up is only a partial list of recent FBI violent crime stories—for a full list, read more FBI Violent Crime news and press releases.

Dion Oliver Convicted of Charges Related to the Shooting of a Wilmington 6-Year-Old Boy and the Death of Newark Woman
FBI’s Delaware Violent Crime and Safe Streets Task Force investigated a crime spree that unfolded across multiple police jurisdictions and two separate states. 

  • As a result, defendant Dion Oliver was convicted of stalking, kidnapping resulting in death, and conspiracy after a seven-day federal trial and was sentenced to life in prison.
  • “These men displayed a total disregard for human life,” said Thomas J. Sobocinski, special agent in charge of the FBI Baltimore Field Office. “In an act of retribution, they not only kidnapped and killed a woman, they opened fire in the middle of a busy street, when kids were getting out of school, forever changing the life of one 6-year-old boy as he was shot while riding in the backseat of his mom’s car. Rest assured, the FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to pursue those who seek to terrorize our communities and hurt innocent people.” 
  • Full press release

Sanford Foster Parent Sentenced to 170 Years in Prison for Child Exploitation Offenses
The FBI investigated a case that resulted in sentencing Justin Dwayne Johnson Sr. to 170 years in federal prison.

  • Johnson was sentenced for four counts of production of child sexual abuse material, one count of production and attempted production of child sexual abuse material, and one count of possession of child sex abuse material.
  • “Instead of offering a haven for foster children, this predator betrayed the children with a home of horrific abuse,” said FBI Tampa Special Agent in Charge David Walker. “The FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force is committed to identifying, locating, and recovering the innocent victims of sexual abuse and ensuring their abusers are brought to justice.” 
  • Full press release

Federal Jury Convicts Man of Alexandria and Monroe Bombings
With FBI’s assistance in this investigation, Daniel Aikens was convicted of eight counts of illegal explosive-related charges and awaits sentencing in 2023.

  • “…this is an extremely dangerous individual and we are fortunate more persons were not injured. All the investigators at every level, talented prosecutors and the courageous victims and witnesses who faced Aikens in court, played a vital role in helping us obtain this conviction. The Western District of Louisiana is truly a safer place today due to this guilty verdict and given Aikens’ actions, coupled with his failure to accept responsibility, we will indeed seek a lengthy prison sentence,” stated United States Attorney Brown. 
  • Full press release

Violent Crime Initiative Yields Multiple Federal Indictments and Arrests on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation
Seventeen individuals were indicted federally, with most being arrested, following an intensive violent crime initiative led by the FBI at the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation.

  • The charges filed in this investigation include arson, aggravated assault, firearms violations, domestic violence assaults, assault against an officer, child abuse, sexual assault, kidnapping, manslaughter, and murder.
  • Maximum sentences for convictions of these offenses range from five years to life in prison, with a maximum fine of $250,000. 
  • Full press release

Two Members and Associates of the 18th Street Gang Sentenced to Prison Terms for Violent Crimes Committed in Aid of Racketeering
FBI Washington Field Office’s Safe Streets Task Force efforts led to two members and associates of the 18th Street gang, Christopher Molina-Garcia and Christian Figueroa-Gutierrez, being sentenced to over five years each in prison.

  • Each was sentenced for their role in an attack on rival gang members on the platform of a Metro station.
  • The 18th Street operates in the District of Columbia and other jurisdictions both within the United States and internationally, and engages in criminal activities to include acts of assault, robbery, kidnapping, murder, and firearms trafficking. The 18th Street gang is particularly violent because members are required to commit acts of violence to further the interests of the gang. 
  • Full press release

Baton Rouge Man Sentenced for Animal Fighting Venture Crimes
The FBI’s assistance in this investigation led to Aquintas Kantrell Singleton pleading guilty to a crime involving the possession of 17 dogs for use in an animal fighting venture.

  • During a search of the defendant’s residence, the dogs were found in poor living conditions and many exhibited scars or fresh wounds. Agents found Dexamethasone—a diuretic used to achieve proper weight in preparation for dogfights—and other dog-fighting paraphernalia. 
  • “Blood sports, like dogfighting, are federal crimes,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “To set animals against each other for entertainment is cruel and unjust. Anyone who commits these acts should expect to be caught and to serve time in prison.” 
  • Full press release

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Counterfeit Pill Danger: Suspect in Los Angeles Allegedly Manufactured, Shipped Large Quantities of Fake Drugs 

November 21, 2022

The location where fake pills were being manufactured had to be sealed off and cleared by the DEA's Clandestine Laboratory team due to the presence of fentanyl and other dangerous substances.

The basement location where pill presses were churning out thousands of fake pills had to be sealed off and processed by the DEA's Clandestine Laboratory Team. Even trace amounts of fentanyl can be dangerous.

The user will think they’re taking a Percocet or Adderall that they purchased from a social media contact or a local dealer—or maybe it was something handed to them by a friend.

But the pill they’re taking is far more likely manufactured in a location like the one agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and FBI recently uncovered in an Inglewood, California, basement. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, along with the federal and local law enforcement agencies, announced charges against the primary suspect in this case at a press conference today. Prosecutors expect to announce charges against additional subjects in the coming weeks and months.

Nathan Cocklin, the head of the FBI Hi-Tech Organized Crime Unit and the Bureau's JCODE team lead, believes this to be the largest seizure of drugs from an online drug marketplace in the five-year history of the JCODE program by far.

October 2022 

DOJ Announces Charges Related to Malign Activity from Chinese Government Agents 

October 24, 2022

The Department of Justice today announced a number of actions against people associated with the Chinese government who are accused of violating U.S. law. 

Those charged include:

    • Four Chinese nationals who allegedly tried to recruit American professors and other officials to act as agents of the Chinese government.
    • Seven Chinese nationals who are accused of targeting and harassing people living in the United States to attempt to force them to return to China.
    • Two Chinese intelligence officers who allegedly tried to use bribes and espionage to obstruct a criminal prosecution in New York.

The FBI supported the investigations into all three cases as part of its counterintelligence work.

At the press conference, FBI Director Christopher Wray noted that although the three cases may appear unrelated, each shows that the Chinese government is willing to run over international laws as they seek to assert their authoritarian views. “In all three of these cases, and in thousands of others, we’ve found the Chinese government threatening established democratic norms and the rule of law as they work to undermine U.S. economic security and fundamental human rights–including those of Americans,” Wray said.

See more about how the FBI is working to protect fundamental freedoms from Chinese government attacks.

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FBI Working to Safeguard 2022 Election 

October 20, 2022

Graphic with American flag background; graphic reads: A threat to an election worker or volunteer is a threat to democracy. Visit tips.fbi.gov to report threats to election workers.

The FBI is committed to ensuring a safe election in 2022 by investigating threats against election workers and cyber threats against campaigns or elections, FBI officials told law enforcement partners Wednesday in a conference call.

Protecting election workers from threats or intimidation is a necessary part of safeguarding the election, an FBI official said. The FBI never investigates First Amendment-protected speech, but it does investigate threats of violence.

The FBI has taken a number of steps to prepare for a safe election in 2022:

  • The FBI and Department of Justice created a Threats to Election Workers Task Force, which identifies and investigates threats against election workers.
  • Election crimes coordinators (at least two agents or analysts in each FBI field office) are working with partners in the private sector, law enforcement, and state and local government to ensure a collaborative response to any election threats.
  • The FBI has prepared for election threats in scenario-based exercises.
  • The FBI will have command posts at FBI Headquarters and in its field offices to respond effectively to any election-related incident within its purview.

Additionally, an FBI Cyber official told the law enforcement leaders the FBI is closely monitoring any cyber threats against election or campaign infrastructure.

The FBI encouraged local governments to maintain strong cyber hygiene on their networks going into the election, including strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, and patching for vulnerabilities. 

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