@StateDept Releases Tijuana Accountability Review Board (ARB) Fact Sheet

 

On July 26, the State Department released a Tijuana Accountability Review Board Fact Sheet. A notice dated March 9, 2021 posted on regulations.gov announced the convening of ARB-Tijuana (see Convening of an Accountability Review Board to Investigate the Murder of an Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Locally Employed Staff member in Tijuana, Mexico).

Related posts:

As best we could tell, the Tijuana ARB report has not been released publicly.  Below via the State Department Fact Sheet:

On January 4, 2021, former Secretary of State Pompeo convened an independent Accountability Review Board (ARB) to review the facts and circumstance surrounding the murder of Mr. Edgar Flores Santos, a U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS) Locally Employed (LE) Staff member in Tijuana, Mexico that occurred on September 30, 2020.  The body was discovered on October 1, 2020. The Tijuana ARB, as well as local and American law enforcement officials, concluded this unfortunate incident was a case of Mr. Flores being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

The ARB’s mandate was to determine the extent to which the incident was security related; whether security systems and procedures were adequate; whether those systems and procedures were properly implemented; the impact of intelligence and information availability; and other factors and circumstances which may be relevant to appropriate security management of U.S. missions abroad.

The ARB first met on February 23, 2021.  Former Ambassador George M. Staples served as Chair of the Board.  Board members included Ambassador Janice Jacobs, former USAID Mission Director Dirk Dijkerman, former Diplomatic Security Service Special Agents John Eustace, and Kimber Davidson.  On April 23, 2021, the Board submitted a report of its findings and recommendations to Secretary of State Blinken.  The Department of State appreciates the judgment and insight contained in the report and is grateful for the service of the Board.  Pursuant to law, the Secretary submitted a report to Congress on July 22, 2020, outlining the ARB’s recommendations and actions taken in response.

The United States Department of State, the USDA APHIS operations, and many other U.S. government agencies have a broad presence and role in Mexico.  The United States is Mexico’s largest agricultural trading partner and the growing agricultural ties between the United States and Mexico have created a vital role for the USDA’s APHIS in ensuring that existing trade between the two economies flows smoothly.  In particular, APHIS provides critical safeguarding of U.S. agriculture, helping to prevent the spread of animal and plant pests and diseases. 

Advancing U.S. foreign policy objectives inherently involves diverse types of risk, and the Department recognizes that taking considered risks is often essential to achieving U.S. government objectives abroad.  Working in dangerous locations such as Mexico’s northern border area is critical to maintaining the safety, security, prosperity, and welfare of Americans.  The work accomplished by Mr. Flores and his USDA APHIS colleagues is vital to the agricultural security of the United States; the Department of State is grateful for their service.   

In the Tijuana operating environment, the Board found that the Department’s security systems and procedures were overall adequate and properly implemented, though the Board identified a few challenges in communication and information sharing that were immediately rectified following this incident.  Moreover, the Board did not find any U.S. government employee engaged in misconduct or perform unsatisfactorily in a way that contributed to this incident. 

The ARB issued 11 recommendations that focus on security systems and procedures and security management.

Security Systems and Procedures:  The ARB found that by all accounts, Mexican law enforcement and U.S. law enforcement agencies at the embassy responded quickly to the incident and shared available information and assisted the Regional Security Officer (RSO) in response to this incident.  However, the Board recommended that APHIS and the RSO take steps to ensure closer monitoring of security-related incidents, information sharing and integration of that intelligence into APHIS’s operational decisions.  The Department of State in coordination with USDA/APHIS will review policies and procedures to strengthen the security of APHIS personnel overseas.  U.S. Embassy Mexico City and all posts with an APHIS presence in their district will engage in robust publicity efforts to raise public awareness about what APHIS does, how it works, and how the work benefits Mexico.

Security Management:  The Board also made several recommendations that USDA and State will take to improve the safety of field inspectors related to their roles and responsibilities; program requirements considering threats and vulnerabilities; and enrolling USDA/APHIS locally employed staff in the Department of State’s worldwide standardized emergency notification system.

 

 

 

 

Ex-USG Employee Pleads Guilty: 24 Women, Six Countries, 487 Videos/Images in a 14 Year Crime Spree

 

In October 2020, we blogged about the notorious case involving ex-USG employee Brian Jeffrey Raymond (see Ex-USG Employee Brian Jeffrey Raymond, Called an “Experienced Sexual Predator,” Ordered Removed to D.C. Oct 28. 2020).  We did a follow-up post in March 2021 (USA v. Raymond: Court Issues Protective Order Pertaining to Classified Information). Court records do not identify Raymond’s agency employer, and no agency has claimed him! Public records only say that he was an employee of the U.S. government.
On July 23, USDOJ announced that “a California man pleaded guilty today to sexual abuse and admitted to the abusive sexual contact of numerous women, as well as photographing and recording dozens of nude and partially nude women without their consent during his career as a U.S. government employee.”
According to court records, Raymond accepted a plea deal on May 27, 2021, one day before the plea offer was set to expire.  The plea agreement was entered into court on July 23, 2021. Also on July 23, Raymond waived his right to trial by jury. The USG and Raymond also agreed to a Statement of Offense:

“These facts do not constitute all of the facts known to the parties concerning the charged offense; they are being submitted to demonstrate that sufficient facts exist that the defendant committed the offenses to which he is pleading guilty: Sexual Abuse of AV-7 and AV-9, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2242(2), and transportation of obscene material, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1462.

Some notable items in the Statement of Offense:

#1. Between on or about August 21, 2018 and June 1, 2020, Raymond, now 45 years old, was a U.S. government employee working at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, Mexico. During that time, Raymond lived in an apartment assigned to him by the U.S. government. Raymond’s residence in Mexico City has been leased by the U.S. government since April 2013 for use by U.S. personnel assigned to diplomatic, consular, military, and other U.S. government missions in Mexico City. The U.S. government currently maintains a nine-year lease of the property. This residence falls within the Special Maritime and Territorial Jurisdiction (““SMTJ”) of the United States, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 7(9).

2. On May 31, 2020, there was an incident at Raymond’s embassy-leased residence in Mexico City.During an interview with law enforcement on June 2, 2020, Raymond stated that he had sexual intercourse with an adult woman, hereinafter referred to as AV-1, on May 31 and that it was consensual. AV-1 was interviewed and reported that she has no memory of the incident and did not consent to sexual intercourse with Raymond. After the May 31, 2020 incident, law enforcement executed several premises and device search warrants, including but not limited to search warrants for Raymond’s phones, laptops, tablets, thumb drives, and memory cards, Raymond’s Mexico City residence, his parents’ residence in La Mesa, California, Tinder and other social media accounts, email accounts, and his iCloud account.

4, Agents found approximately 487 videos and images of unconscious women in various states of undress on multiple devices belonging to Raymond and in his iCloud account.

6. Through its investigation, law enforcement learned that from 2006 to 2020, while working as a U.S. government employee, Raymond recorded and/or photographed at least 24 unconscious nude or partially nude women (AV-2 through AV-25).

7.  Raymond discussed having sex with AV-7 with a friend via text message the following day.

9. In March 2020, approximately two months before his interaction with AV-7, Raymond also texted the same friend mentioned above about having sexual intercourse with AV-9. AV-9 is a resident of Mexico and primarily a Spanish speaker. He texted the same friend that he had to pay for an Uber for AV-9 and expressed that it was annoying but ultimately worthwhile because he was able to have sex with her. 

Item #11 in the Statement of Offense includes a chart that depicts the victims, the number of photos/videos, locations, dates, and example of the obscene depiction of victims.  In addition to victims AV-7 and AV-9, the list of victims include 18 other individuals. Locations include California, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., as well as Mexico and “Countries 3, 4, 5, and 6 [are] known to the government and to the defendant.”
Item #14 in the Statement of Offense notes:

“Raymond stipulates and agrees that from 2006 until 2020, including on the dates listed on the chart above, he recorded and/or photographed at least 24 unconscious and nude or partially nude women, some of whom are not mentioned in this plea agreement or statement of facts, and that during the same time frame, he touched the breasts, buttocks, groin area, and/or genitalia of numerous women, some of whom he recorded and/or photographed and some of whom are mentioned in this agreement. Raymond engaged in this conduct while the women were incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct. The women who have been interviewed reported commonalities in their contact with Raymond, including Raymond’s provision and/or preparation of alcoholic beverages and their subsequent memory loss. None of the women consented to being touched while unconscious and/or asleep, and none of them consented to Raymond’s photographing and recording of them in that state.”

The Plea Agreement says:

” …a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2242(2) carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment; a fine of $250,000; a term of supervised release of at least 5 years but not more than life, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3583(k); mandatory restitution under 18 U.S.C. § 3663A; and an obligation to pay any applicable interest or penalties on fines and restitution not timely made.

Your client understands that a violation of of 18 U.S.C. § 1462 carries a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment; a fine of $250,000; a term of supervised release of at least one year but not more than three years, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3559; restitution under 18 U.S.C.§ 3663; and an obligation to pay any applicable interest or penalties on fines and restitution not timely made.

Your client also understands that the court shall impose mandatory restitution pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2248, which restitution amount shall reflect the defendant’s relative role in the causal process that underlies the victims’ losses.”

Under Additional Charges:

“In consideration of your client’s guilty plea to the above offense(s), your client will not be further prosecuted criminally by this Office or the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section for the conduct relating to victims AV-1 through AV-26 that is described in the Statement of Offense. This office has consulted with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and understands that it will also not bring charges for that conduct. Additionally, if your client’s guilty plea to Counts One, Two, and Three of the Information is accepted by the Court, and provided the plea is not later withdrawn, no charges related to the inducement and/or transportation of AV-15 or the transportation of obscene material will be brought against the defendant by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.

Moreover, provided the plea is accepted and not later withdrawn to Counts One, Two, and Three, no charges relating to the inducement of AV-2 or the transportation of obscene material will be brought by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, and no charges relating to the inducement of AV-17 or the transportation of obscene material will be brought by the Northern District of Illinois. This agreement does not preclude any U.S. Attorney’s Office for bringing charges against your client for criminal conduct that is distinct from that set forth in the Statement of Facts. For example, if the investigation later revealed that your client had been engaged in sexual activity with a minor and/or involved in commercial sex acts or money laundering, this agreement would not preclude a prosecution for those crimes.”

Under Restitution:

“Your client understands that the Court has an obligation to determine whether, and in what amount, mandatory restitution applies in this case under 18 U.S.C. § 3663A and 18 U.S.C. § 2248 at the time of sentencing.

The Court shall order restitution to every identifiable victim of your client’s offenses. Your client agrees to pay restitution in the amount of $10,000 per victim to AV-1 through AV- 26, provided they are identified at or before the time of sentencing. Furthermore, your client
agrees that, for purposes of this plea, AV-1 through AV-26 are all victims of the offense and are entitled to the same rights as victims so designated under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (“CVRA”), to include the right to be reasonably heard at the sentencing hearing and the right to full and timely restitution. See 18 U.S.C. § 3771. By agreeing to this, your client is not acknowledging that each of these victims would be a victim of a federal offense, nor is your client agreeing that these victims would be so designated should this case go to trial. Similarly,
by agreeing to the terms of this plea, the Government does not concede that federal offenses do not exist for these victims, nor does it concede that the victims would not be victims under the CVRA should this case go to trial. In addition, your client agrees to pay restitution to any other victim that he recorded/photographed nude while that victim was unconscious, provided that victim is identified at or before the time of sentencing, and further agrees that they are crime victims in this case and entitled to the rights as victims so designated under the CVRA. Your client understands that these victims still maintain a right to request a larger amount of restitution from the Court, and that the agreed upon payment to each victim is the minimum amount due.”

The Plea Agreement includes a sex offender registration requirement for the remainder of Raymond’s life “…. client is required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life, and to keep the registration current in jurisdictions where your client resides, where your client is employed and where your client is a student.”
The Plea Agreement notes that the Government’s proposed estimated Sentencing Guidelines range is 262-327 months (the “Estimated Guidelines Range’). The Defendant’s proposed estimated Sentencing Guidelines range is 135-168 months.  So potentially anywhere between 11 years and 27 years.
A similar case to this in 2011 involved Andrew Warren, 43, a former official with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  That case involved charges of abusive sexual contact and unlawful use of cocaine while possessing a firearm. The sexual assault occurred at a US Embassy property in Algeria, and involved one victim. Warren was sentenced to 65 months in prison and 10 years of supervised release following his prison term (see Former CIA Station Chief to Algeria Gets 65 Months for Sexual Assault on Embassy Property).
Via USDOJ: If you believe you have been a victim, have information about Raymond or know of someone who may have information about Raymond, the FBI requests that you fill out this secure, online questionnaire, email FBI at ReportingBJR@fbi.gov or call 1-800-CALL-FBI.

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@StateDept Appoints Ambassador Daniel Foote as Special Envoy For Haiti

 

 

This is a follow-up to our July 8 post @USEmbassyHaiti Remains Closed Following President Moïse’s Assassination (Updated). On July 22, the State Department announced the appointment of Ambassador Daniel Foote as Special Envoy for Haiti:

The Department of State is pleased to announce that Ambassador Daniel Foote, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, will serve as its Special Envoy for Haiti. The Special Envoy will engage with Haitian and international partners to facilitate long-term peace and stability and support efforts to hold free and fair presidential and legislative elections. He will also work with partners to coordinate assistance efforts in several areas, including humanitarian, security, and investigative assistance. Additionally, the Special Envoy will engage stakeholders in civil society and the private sector as we pursue Haitian-led solutions to the many pressing challenges facing Haiti.

The Special Envoy will, along with the U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, lead U.S. diplomatic efforts and coordinate the effort of U.S. federal agencies in Haiti from Washington, advise the Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and coordinate closely with the National Security Council staff on the administration’s efforts to support the Haitian people and Haiti’s democratic institutions in the aftermath of the tragic assassination of Jovenel Moïse.

Special Envoy Foote brings extensive diplomatic experience to this role – including as Deputy Chief of Mission in Haiti and as the U.S. Ambassador to Zambia. The Department congratulates Special Envoy Foote as he takes on his new role and thanks him for his continued service to his country.

Related posts:

 

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US Mission Brazil: Ambassador Todd Chapman Tenders Resignation, to Retire From @StateDept

Thank you to over 500 readers and supporters who made our continued operation possible this year. Raising funds for a small outlet that is already open and free for all to read has often been the most challenging part of running  this blog. We are grateful for your continued support and well wishes. Thanks — DS

 

On June 10, the U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Todd C. Chapman announced that he informed President Biden of his decision “to retire from government service after a 30-year career with the Department of State.” Excerpt:

“Following careful consideration, my wife Janetta and I are convinced that this is the right time, for several positive personal reasons, to move to Denver, Colorado – to live closer to our two sons and daughter-in-law and pursue new professional opportunities and longstanding personal interests about which we are genuinely excited.
[…]
In my letter to President Biden, I wished him God’s blessings of wisdom and strength as he leads the American people. May the strong friendship between the American and Brazilian people continue to flourish in the years ahead, a task to which I will remain devoted for the rest of my life.”

Ambassador Chapman was nominated by President Trump on October 30, 2019. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on February 20, 2020 and arrived in Brazil on March 29, 2020. Ambassador Chapman previously served as President Obama’s Ambassador to Ecuador from 2016 – 2019.

Related news:

@USEmbassyHaiti Remains Closed Following President Moïse’s Assassination (Updated)

Thank you to over 500 readers and supporters who made our continued operation possible this year. Raising funds for a small outlet that is already open and free for all to read has often been the most challenging part of running  this blog. We are grateful for your continued support and well wishes. Merci — DS

 

Updated: 7/9/2021 2:36am ET: Embassy Port-au-Prince announced that it will remain closed on July 9th:

The Embassy will be closed for consular services tomorrow, July 9th, 2021. As per our earlier message to U.S. citizens, the Consular Section will continue to monitor the situation to ensure the safety of U.S. citizens in Haiti and will inform you as appropriate. We are confirming information that the airports may reopen for commercial flights as early as tomorrow, July 9th, 2021.

___ * ___

Following the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse at his home on July 7th, the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince announced closure of its offices for July 7-8. Embassy Haiti has previously restricted its direct-hire US citizen staff to the Embassy compounds in Tabarre until further notice.

Event:  The Embassy will be closed tomorrow, July 8th, 2021.  As per our earlier message to U.S. citizens, the Consular Section will continue to monitor the situation to ensure the safety of U.S. citizens in Haiti and will inform you as appropriate.

Actions to Take:

    • Avoid demonstrations and crowds.
    • Do not attempt to drive through roadblocks; and
    • If you encounter a roadblock, turn around and get to a safe area.
    • Monitor local media for breaking events and be prepared to adjust your plans.
    • Keep travel documents up to date and easily accessible.
    • Have evacuation plans that do not rely on U.S. government assistance.
    • Make contingency plans to leave the country.
The current Ambassador to Haiti Michele J. Sison was cleared by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 24 to be an Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs. US Embassy Haiti’s Deputy Chief of Mission is Nicole D. Theriot.  No nominee has been announced to succeed Ambassador Sison at the US Embassy Port-au-Prince as of this writing. There’s going to be a loud call from the Hill to appoint a special envoy to Haiti.

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WHA’s Julie Chung to be U.S. Ambassador to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

 

On June 15, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate WHA’s Julie Chung to be U.S. Ambassador to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The WH released the following brief bio:

Julie Jiyoon Chung, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka    

Julie Chung, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, is the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.  She was previously Director of the Office of Japanese Affairs at the Department.  She has served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.  Earlier, Chung was Chief of Staff to the Transition Coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.  She has also served at the U.S. embassies in Colombia, Vietnam and Japan, and the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou, China.  She is a Pickering Fellow.  Chung earned a B.A. at the University of California-San Diego and an M.A. at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.  She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Secretary’s Distinguished Honor Award. Chung speaks Korean, Japanese, Spanish, and Khmer. 

If confirmed, Ms. Chung would succeed Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz who was sworn in as Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives on October 22, 2018.

Related posts:

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US Embassy Ottawa Announces Arrival of Chargé d’Affaires Arnold Chacon, in Self-Isolation Until 6/29

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

 

On May 28, the State Department announced the designation of Ambassador Arnold Chacon as Chargé d’Affaires at US Mission Canada (see Amb Arnie Chacon Heads to U.S. Mission Canada as Chargé d’Affaires (a.i); What’s going on at U.S. Mission Canada?).
On June 15, the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa announce the arrival of Chargé d’Affaires Arnold Chacon.

“I’m delighted that Secretary of State Blinken selected me to serve as Chargé d’Affaires in Canada and am honored to take on this important role working with the United States’ closest friend, partner, and ally.  We are active across Canada, not only at the Embassy in Ottawa, but also through our seven consulates that stretch from Vancouver to Halifax.  The U.S.-Canada relationship is a priority for the Biden-Harris Administration as we revitalize and strengthen our historic alliance and steadfast friendship. I am committed to continuing the exceptional work already being done by my colleagues and Canadian government officials under the Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership.  We will continue to make progress together in the key areas of trade, climate change, COVID-19 response and recovery, diversity, inclusion, and equity, and global and regional security issues,” said Chargé d’Affaires Chacon.

Chargé d’Affaires Chacon succeeds Katherine Brucker who has been acting in the role since September of 2020.  Ms. Brucker will continue to serve at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa as Deputy Chief of Mission.

In keeping with public health requirements, Chargé d’Affaires Chacon will self-isolate for the next 14 days.

We’re wondering if folks are ready to do the Bhangra dance.

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VPOTUS Kamala Harris Makes First Overseas Trip to Guatemala and Mexico

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

 

GUATEMALA

See Fact Sheet: U.S. – Guatemala Cooperation, June 7, 2021

MEXICO

US Embassy El Salvador: New Charge d’Affaires Jean Manes Arrives in San Salvador

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

 

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Amb Arnie Chacon Heads to U.S. Mission Canada as Chargé d’Affaires (a.i)

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

 

So late Friday, the State Department announced the designation of Ambassador Arnie Chacon to be Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at U.S. Embassy Ottawa:

Today, Secretary Blinken designated Ambassador Arnold Chacon to serve as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at U.S. Embassy Ottawa. A career diplomat with the rank of Career Minister, Ambassador Chacon is currently detailed from the Department of State to the National Defense University as Senior Vice President. Ambassador Chacon previously served as the Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources and U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala.

Ambassador Chacon’s appointment underscores the United States’ strong commitment to Canada and the Canadian people. He will lead the U.S. government’s diplomatic engagement in Canada by advancing the Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership, including trade, climate change, COVID-19 response and recovery, and global and regional security issues.

The United States highly values its close partnership with Canada, and Ambassador Chacon is dedicated to advancing the bilateral relationship.

We’ve previously asked What’s going on at U.S. Mission Canada?
The State Department is just now sending out to Ottawa a former Ambassador (Guatemala) but also the former Director General of the Foreign Service to be CDA. He will be responsible for the embassy and its seven constituent posts as well.
👀
A top executive at the cable company Comcast has been rumored to be in the running to be Biden’s top diplomat for Canada. The announcement for the first slew of political ambassadorships is reportedly expected shortly.

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