On The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Leahy was in Washington, D.C. last week talking to Derek Maltz who is the former Director of the Special Ops Division with 28 yrs in federal law enforcement. Maltz went into detail of what really threatens our national security by dissecting the terrorism and criminal activity that lie within the transnational crime rings. He believes that it’s the transnational crime that is the true threat to America.
During the second segment, Maltz who thinks the new FBI director is a smart and very nice guy expressed his discontent for the choice stating that he believes the role needs real leadership which could only come from someone that has been in the trenches like an ex-law enforcement person. “In my personal opinion, you have to put people in charge of law enforcement agencies that have the requisite skills, experience, and leadership,” said Maltz.
Leahy: And our special guest is Derek Maltz, a former special agent with the DEA. He’s going to tell us a little bit about the difficulties of putting these task forces together. Welcome, Derek.
Maltz: Welcome. And Michael thank you very much for having me. Hello Nashville!
Leahy: Well, we’re delighted that you’re here. Let me guess you’re originally from the Northeast?
Maltz: Nah, I was born in Alabama. (Leahy laughs) No New York City.
Leahy: Bronx or Brooklyn
Maltz: Long Island actually.
Leahy: Long Island!
Maltz: I worked in New York City.
Leahy: You were a drug enforcement agent?
Maltz: Yes. 28 years. My father was in there 30 years so it’s in my DNA.
Leahy: So you know it very well.
Maltz: Yeah, I do. I was out on the street doing surveillance with my old man when I was 12 and 13 years old.
Leahy: Oh, with your old man.
Maltz: Yeah yeah, he took me out there. He was a crazy DEA guy.
Leahy: Wow, what was that like when you’re 12 years old going out with your dad?
Maltz: I mean going out to a building in Far Rockaway, following a fugitive’s spouse into a building was pretty interesting if you think about it from the standpoint of what goes on today.
Leahy: By the way, would anyone be allowed today to bring your 12-year-old son to work?
Maltz: No. You’re not allowed to put people in a government vehicle for example. That’s 30 days without pay automatically. (Leahy laughs) He didn’t care about those rules. He was training me I guess.
Leahy: Your dad must have been quite a guy.
Maltz: A legend yeah.
Leahy: A legend. So tell us about your career and how you got involved.
Maltz: Well again, I was a young kid in college. Most kids don’t know what they want to do. 22 years old at Syracuse University.
Leahy: Syracuse? My grandmother went to Syracuse.
Maltz: Oh, yeah, it’s a good place. And my father filled out my application for the DEA and said we got an interview set up. And I’m like OK. Take the interview, get the job, and then worked my way up to a very good job. I was the Chief of the task force in New York City which is the largest and oldest drug task force.
My father was in charge of that for 11 years. I took his job and his seat. And then I got promoted in 2005 to be the head of the special operations division in Washington. When I got there there were nine agencies, when I left there were 30.
Leahy: So tell us about that experience. What’s it like running 30 agencies in a task force?
Maltz: Well I mean again, I wasn’t running the 30 agencies but we had to organize the participation of people from each of those agencies,
Leahy: You were coordinating.
Maltz: Coordinating and synchronizing right? And the whole idea is that the country is now experiencing something that is very very different now. First of all, it’s not the terrorists we need to be worried about, it’s not the criminals.
It’s the transnational crime threats that are all over the place. Human smuggling. Drug runners. Drug smugglers. Arms traffickers. Counterfieters. All of these criminal activities are generating billions of dollars and it’s going back to the Middle East. To Yemen. To Lebanon. To Al Queda cells.
And what’s happening is it’s creating a national security problem to this country. And the illegals that are all over the place are helping to facilitate these business operations. And so we in law enforcement have to synchronize our efforts and work together and use the expertise and tools of national power like we’ve never done before.
Leahy: So how do you know specifically that the money is going back to the Middle East?
Maltz: Because we have cases. For example, we were involved with Project Cassandra and it’s a big well-known story with Los Zetes cocaine and millions and millions of dollars going back to support Hezbollah. So as an example, the main guy that wee indicted was indicted for moving the proceeds of 85,000 kilograms of Los Zetes cocaine money.
And he also was doing 200 million dollars a month. But honestly, Mike what’s scary is we have used car business’s all over the country and they’re selling cars in Africa and the proceeds of the cars and all the crime are going back to support Hezbollah.
We have couriers carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash into Hezbollah controlled exchange houses at the airport in Beirut that goes into the banking system and then gets routed back to America. So we have case after case where the connections are there.
Leahy: What would be the number one thing you would do to change so that we lessen that threat?
Maltz: Well, you have to have a unity of effort. We have great patriots in the country that have tremendous expertise experience and skills. Each agency has their own authorities whether it’s the intel community, department of defense or law enforcement. And we have to utilize ALL of those authorities and expertise together.
Right now it’s very very splintered. You can’t work terrorism in a cocoon. Terrorists are turning to crime and criminal networks for their funding. That’s a big problem. So we have a disconnect. 18 years after 9-11. We have a problem with our terrorism investigators do not properly coordinate with the criminal investigators.
The Boston bombing is a good example of a catastrophic failure of information sharing. The President and all the leaders like Mr. Ray, if he’s listening I’d like to see what his explanation is of this wall that was created with Bob Mueller between the terrorism investigators of the JTTF and the criminal investigators.
Leahy: So this is when Mueller was the head of FBI?
Maltz: Yes, for the years after 9-11, and God bless him it was a tough job and he tried to do the right thing and he did prevent another big 9-11. But unfortunately, you can’t have an environment where terrorists are tapping into the criminal monies and not having that coordination.
Leahy: What was the rationale for setting up this wall between terror investigators and criminal investigations?
Maltz: Well again, I’m not an expert on their rationale and their thinking. I’m a common-sense guy.
Leahy: You don’t think there’s much rationale. (Laughs)
Maltz: And honestly, they’re not thinking it through. They want to protect classified methods, sources and that’s great. And I understand that. But at the end of the day, we want to save lives right? So Al Capone was a mass murderer and we took him down on a tax charge. And he was never able to commit murder again right?
Maltz: So if the Tamlin was potentially in the country to do a bombing and you don’t have information on terrorism don’t you think getting him on drug trafficking or getting him on gun trafficking would be important?
Leahy: So let’s talk about FBI director Ray? When did you leave the DEA?
Leahy: 2014, so you’ve been out for about five years and you work in the private sector now. So Christopher Ray was named FBI director and frankly, I’m not an expert on the FBI and I look at his leadership and it’s hard for me to see that much difference between his leadership and Comey or Mueller.
Maltz: To be honest with you and I’ll just say this very bluntly. My brother died in Afghanistan so this is in support of him and everyone that has died in the war and all these poor people that are dying from fentanyl and other drugs. So here’s the bottom line. In my personal opinion, you have to put people in charge of law enforcement agencies that have the requisite skills, experience, and leadership.
Leahy: So he’s an attorney?
Maltz: He’s an attorney. And attorneys are great. I have no issues with the attorneys. They’re super smart. The guy seems like a very nice guy. Honestly, I’ve seen him in press conferences and I was very impressed. For example, in the Austin bombing case, he gave everybody credit and he was very all-inclusive which I haven’t seen in a while. The guy seems very impressive and I’m not being critical of him.
But it’s basically the leadership stuff. I know because I talk to people every day. The law enforcement patriots they need people that are good leaders and that understand and have been there done that and worked in the trenches. Honestly, I just don’t like it. I’ve seen too many problems.
Leahy: So you’d like to a see a real law enforcement guy running the FBI?
Maltz: I’d like to see some decorated like a chief, or sheriff or federal agent that has proven themselves in the ranks. Executive leadership experience that people are going to follow. Because at the end of the day Mike, we’re talking about the future of our country and if we don’t get this right more people are going to die.
We have to stop misleading the taxpayers in thinking like everything is great. Even after the Boston bombing, they had a hearing in Congress, I wanted to throw up. It was the Austin to Boston bombing. You’re comparing apples to oranges. In the Austin case, of course, law enforcement is going to get together after people are dead and they’re going to work together.
But in the Boston case two years went by and no sharing, no information sharing. So it’s two different scenarios. When we have a problem our law enforcement is the best in the world. And the FBI and the forensic people that they use to put together the crimes scenes like no one else. But before the case happens, we need people communicating. We need information sharing. We need people to use their expertise way before people die.
Listen to the full third hour:
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