Florida is First in Bitcoin Money Laundering Arrests


The Miami-Dade State Attorney is the first local prosecutor’s office in the United States to charge suspects with money laundering related to the transfer of Bitcoins for illicit purposes.  Mitchell Abner Espinoz and Pascal Reid were arrested for providing unlicensed money services (FSS 560.125) and for violating Florida’s Money Laundering Act (FSS 896.101).

For the uninitiated, Bitcoins are virtual currency used for online trading of goods and services.  The trading is done peer-to-peer and can be anonymous.  It is the anonymity and lack of government oversight that have made Bitcoin popular for drug dealers and money launderers.  A Bitcoin tutorial video is posted below.

Espinoza was a trader of Bitcoins using localbitcoins.com.  He was approached by an undercover agent of the U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force, working in conjunction with the Miami Beach Police Department and Miami-Dade SAO, who told Espinoza that the agent was going to use $30,000 in Bitcoins to buy stolen credit cards.  Espinoza agreed to the transfer and was arrested. Continue reading

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The Future Police Narcotics Dogs and Marijuana

Drug Search 1Supporters of legalized medical marijuana will have their opportunity in November to let the voters decide on whether medical marijuana will be available to patients.  The controversial ballot initiative was approved by the Florida Supreme Court.  Four legislative bills have been introduced which deal with defining, authorizing, and regulating medicinal cannabis and its infrastructure.  How will all of this affect law enforcement?  Not much…for now.

Most recently, though, in Colorado and Washington State, decriminalization of recreational marijuana has changed the way police narcotics detector dogs go about their business.  The obvious issue is whether a narcotics dog’s alert still constitutes probable cause to perform a warrantless search of a vehicle or to obtain a search warrant.  Since the dog cannot tell his handler if he is alerting to a small amount of legal marijuana or some other illicit drug, in these states, the legality of sniffs and searches with dogs cross-trained in marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin have come into question.

The answer for the Washington State Patrol is to replace existing narcotics Continue reading

Posted in K9, Legal | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

New Diamondback Firearms DB FS Nine Pistol

imageBack at the 2012 SHOT Show, I got to interview Diamondback Firearms founder and CEO Brad Thomas.  I had been examining a prototype for the DB RTS tactical shotgun (that was eventually displaced in their line-up by the DB15 AR-15-style rifle).  During our conversation, Mr. Thomas told me about their plans to develop a full-sized pistol.  We are finally getting a look at it.

The new DB pistol is a striker-fired 15+1 handgun chambered in 9mm.  In dimensions, it is roughly equivalent to a Glock 17 pistol.  DB FS Nine’s take down levers and its trigger safety are visually similar to the Austrian maker’s gun.  From Diamondback’s website:

“This new 9mm pistol is a double-action, striker-fire designed platform that incorporates an ergonomically driven polymer double stack frame with a stainless steel slide. With extensive research on the form and function of the tactile-enhanced grip, the operator will find the design enhances control, while providing consistent hand placement. The flared magwell aids in fast and reliable reloads while the extended Continue reading

Posted in Firearms, Off Duty | Tagged | 3 Comments

Windermere Police Officer Killed in the Line of Duty

Windemere Ofc. Robert GermanWindermere Police Officer Robert German was murdered at 4 a.m. today while on a suspicious persons stop.  He was apparently shot to death by two subjects he had stopped walking on Conroy-Windermere Road and Horizon Circle in Orange County.

After Ofc. German radioed for assistance, several Orange County deputies, an Orlando officer, and an Ocoee officer found Ofc. German wounded at the scene.  Deputies and officers heard more shots fired in the area and they used a police car as cover while they moved Ofc. German to waiting OCFRD paramedics.  Ofc. German was pronounced dead at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

A male suspect and female suspect ran about a block from the original stop and were found by search teams.  They had both committed suicide by gunshot, according to Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.  Ofc. German’s murder occurred a mile from where OCSO Deputy Jonathan Scott Pine was killed in February of this year.

Born in Burlinton, Ontario, Canada, Ofc. German, 31, was raised in Central Florida.  He joined the fourteen officer Windermere Police Department five years ago and is the first officer killed in the line of duty at that department.  Funeral arrangements will be announced by WPD.

Prayers to Ofc. German’s family.  Please stay safe and have each others’ backs, Brothers and Sisters.


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New KA-BAR TDI Hinderance and Hell Fire Knives

KA-BAR Hinerance TDII feel kind of vindicated.  I wrote an article about the original KA-BAR TDI Law Enforcement Knife a while back that essentially said, “Like the knife, hate the sheath.”  And I got hammered for it on a few forums.  To be fair, my article was titled, “KA-BAR TDI Knife Review: Unsafe for Duty,” so I guess I started it.

But that is in the past since the updated knives have a hard plastic sheath with a sliding thumb lock to keep the blade under your control.  Well, KA-BAR has finally addressed what I thought was the shortcoming and officer safety issue.

In the avalanche of booths at SHOT Show 2014, I apparently missed KA-BAR’s knives and my opportunity to check out the two new TDI rigs, which are collaborations with custom knifemaker Rick Hinderer and Tactical Defense Institute (TDI) President John Benner.

Mr. Hinderer designed two different blade shapes for the TDI.  The Hinderance model is a Wharncliffe, while the Hell Fire is a modified Continue reading

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TASER-proof Clothing Project

imageHackaday.com has webbed up a “TASER-proof” clothing project.  The suggested mod is to use carbon-fiber strips in garments to make them “100% taserproof.”  By inserting iron-on CF tape strips between layers of cloth, the space-aged material will allegedly conduct electrical energy from a TASER or stun gun away from the clothing’s wearer and into the  CF strips to be dispersed without result.  Skin penetration by the probes is supposedly rendered ineffective as well.

image Gee, it is too bad that modern law enforcement officers do not train to transition to other less lethal options when their CEW’s are ineffective.  Oh, wait a minute…  We do!  This geek-inspired Hackaday Internet invention is a great reminder for all sworn officers that when something is not working on a suspect, then we immediately transition to Continue reading

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Smart Gun Technology Skirts Common Sense and Second Amendment Rights

ArmatixArmatix GmbH of Germany is selling a new .22 cal. handgun that is slaved to a radio frequency identification (RFID) wristwatch.  The pairing makes the gun active when the watch is within ten inches of the firearm and deactivates the gun when the watch does not have the proper PIN entered or is more than ten inches away from the pistol.  I am skeptical on several fronts.

Other than having to shell out nearly $2,000.00 for the Armatix Smart System ($1,399-gun,$399-watch, add taxes), I can think of a number of defensive scenarios in which this “smart” alternative would be ill-advised stupid.  I am addressing the shortcomings of this product from the defensive firearm scenario, since the iP1 is clearly not a competition or range gun.  Strike one:  .22 cal. long rifle rimfire.  Moving on.

Trusting your safety and that of your loved ones to the functional integrity of a plastic wristwatch may be my biggest reservation.  Continue reading

Posted in Firearms, Politics | 2 Comments

ELSA Mobile Language Translation

ELSA RTT DeviceELSA is a mobile language translation system designed for first responders, government agencies, health care, and financial services among the end users.  Live translators interact with the user and client.  This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  My department recently received two test and evaluation devices from RTT Mobile Interpretation, the developer.

An ELSA device is a simple black box that is made to be clipped to the belt of the user.  With the push of a button, live translators are available over a wireless network to assist with translating a mind boggling 180 different languages and dialects.  Four small microphones on the top of the unit capture the voices.  A large speaker lets the users hear the translator.

The interface is made to be as elementary as possible.  It has one big cop-proof button that powers the unit on and off and serves as Continue reading

Posted in Street, Technology | 3 Comments

Sticky Holsters for Concealed Carry

Sticky Holsters Bodyguard 380Mike Christoff started Naples, FL-based Sticky Holsters based upon his 25 years of experience as a police officer in Michigan and in Florida.  Sticky Holsters use a proprietary material as the outer shell of the holster.  I would not characterize it as “sticky” so much as it is “real grabby,” but that would not make for a good company moniker.

Sticky Holsters makes 17 different sizes of its signature holster, so finding a fit for your handgun should not be a problem.  The range of sizes travels from the tiny Beretta Bobcat to the FN 5.7.  These are not only meant as pocket holsters (and you would have to be a super large human to pocket carry a 5.7,), but because of the tactile properties of the material, they can serve as IWB holsters.

Sticky Holsters mouth Continue reading

Posted in Concealed Carry, Firearms, Florida Companies | Tagged , | 1 Comment

FHP Trooper Files Lawsuit for Misuse of DAVID


Trooper Donna Jean Watts
AP Photo

How many times does this have to be repeated to us?  DAVID is for official use only.  Period.  Period, period.  The latest shenanigans that involve the inappropriate access of Florida’s Driver and Vehicle Information Database is articulated in a lawsuit filed by Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Donna Jane Watts.  Watts is suing 88 law enforcement officers, and the 25 police agencies where they are employed, for a breach of the Federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994.

Following Trooper Watts’ 2011 high speed pursuit of Miami Officer Fausto Lopez, in which Watts ordered Lopez out of his marked police car at gunpoint and arrested him for reckless driving, Watts said she was subsequently harassed at her protected address.  She claims she suffered an invasion of privacy when her DAVID records were illegally accessed by scores of LEO’s.

This is far from being the first time DAVID has been misused.  Former Clearwater Police Lt. Richard Crean was caught using DAVID to run license tag information for a friend’s child custody battle.  An audit of his DAVID usage showed hundreds of questionable queries from 2011 to 2012, as he apparently looked up celebrities, local female restaurant servers, other officers’ wives, a television news anchor, and Continue reading

Posted in Misc., Technology | Tagged | 1 Comment

FBI Publishes Report on Active Shooter Events–2000-2012

FBI sealLast month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation published the findings of a study of Active Shooter Events (ASE’s) that occurred from 2000 to 2012.  One thing is clear from the data, and you can probably guess what it is.  Active shootings, injuries, and deaths have all increased during in years examined.

The FBI studied a total of 110 active shooter events during this period.  Complete data was not available for every instance, but there was enough information for an examination of the trends in several areas of concern.

While you might think most of the incidents occurred on school campuses, 40% of ASE’s occurred in businesses, while 29% were in schools and 19% outdoors.  This would indicate that the majority of the ASE’s take place indoors.  Sound building clearing tactics, especially of the hostage-rescue type, are important for first responding officers.

Forty-seven of the 51 ASE’s with response time data showed that police officers arrived in under seven minutes.  The median police response time for 51 of the incidents was just three minutes.  That is quick to get boots on the ground.  It also makes the next set of stats sobering. Continue reading

Posted in Officer Safety, Street, SWAT | 2 Comments

Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy Slain

OCSO Dep. J.S. PineOrange County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jonathan Scott Pine was apparently ambushed and murdered during a foot chase last night.  Dep. Pine was pursuing an auto burglary suspect that had fled from him, when the suspect shot Pine in a backyard.  Dep. Pine, a three year veteran of the OCSO, leaves behind a wife and three children.

The murderer was violent felon who had been released from prison in 2012 after serving just three years of a seven year sentence for two bank robberies in Maryland.  He committed suicide several houses away from Dep. Pine’s shooting.

Our condolences to Dep. Pine’s family and co-workers.


Posted in Officer Down, Officer Safety | 1 Comment

Gradually Detectives

Crime Scene TapeIt has been nearly five years since my cell phone rang in the middle of the night and I had to respond out to a homicide as an investigator.  Since leaving the both the Detective Bureau and SWAT, I had absolutely reveled in hanging up my on-call status, which had lasted for over 21 years.  Having now returned to DB:  Ringggg!  Back to the salt mines…

I woke two of my burglary dicks and told them that we needed to go in to assist.  This would be their first full-blown murder as new detectives.  No, they were not the primary investigators, just the minors helping out the pros.  Still, their work would be important to the case. Continue reading

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New Double Tap P-Flex Grip

That ↑ minimizes this ouch ↓

Double Tap

Double Tap P-Flex GripThe P-Flex is $25.00 from Double Tap.


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Rob Pincus Introduces New Winchester W Series Ammunition

Rob Pincus was once again at SHOT Show Media Day at the Range in the Winchester lane.  He was giving demonstrations of the new Winchester W Train and Defend line of ammunition.  According to their literature:

“The W Train & Defend ammunition system is designed to provide threat-stopping power with less recoil to the shooter. The system pairs its range-ready Train rounds with technology-driven Defend rounds, both designed to limit the recoil felt by the shooter. This system provides a perfect solution for new shooters, especially women, who are interested in training to become proficient with their personal defense ammunition.”

Both the Winchester Train and Winchester Defend are ballistically matched for consistent performance, whether in practice at the range or in real life self-defense.  The Train ammo has brass cases and FMJ projectiles.  They also have lead-free primers for indoor range practice where required.  Defend ammunition comes in nickel-plated cases and jacketed hollow point bullets. Continue reading

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