TIME Vatican

Pope Francis Will Visit Cuba in September

Pope Francis changes his skullcap as he arrives in St. Peter's Square for his weekly general audience, in the Vatican City on April 22, 2015.
Angelo Carconi—EPA Pope Francis changes his skullcap as he arrives in St. Peter's Square for his weekly general audience, in the Vatican City on April 22, 2015.

Francis has been credited with helping the United States and Cuba reach their historic rapprochement

(VATICAN CITY) — The Vatican says Pope Francis will visit Cuba before arriving in the United States in the last week of September.

The Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed the Cuba leg to reporters Wednesday. He didn’t provide details or dates.

Francis has been credited with helping the United States and Cuba reach their historic rapprochement by writing to the leaders of both countries and having the Vatican host their delegations for the final negotiations. Francis’ visit to Cuba would be a way for him to push the process forward.

He is scheduled to visit three U.S. cities starting around Sept. 23. He will address Congress and meet with President Barack Obama at the White House, address the U.N. in New York and attend a church rally for families in Philadelphia.

TIME France

Terror Plot on Paris Church Thwarted After Extremist Accidentally Shoots Himself

Kenzo Tribouillard—AFP/Getty Images French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (C) and French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (L) and Villejuif's Mayor Franck Le Bohellec leave the Sainte Therese de l'Enfant Jesus church in Villejuif, outside Paris, on April 22, 2015.

The man was linked to an earlier shooting in Paris

(PARIS) — An Islamist extremist with an arsenal of loaded guns was only prevented from opening fire on Sunday morning churchgoers because he accidentally shot himself, French officials said.

The 24-year-old computer science student, who was also suspected in the death of a young woman whose body was found on Sunday just ahead of his arrest, had been flagged as a risk last year and earlier this year but there was no specific reason to open a judicial investigation, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Wednesday.

A French security official, who was not authorized to publicly release details, said the suspect — an Algerian who had lived in France for several years — was arrested in Paris Sunday after he apparently shot himself by accident and called for an ambulance. He was waiting outside for first aid when police arrived at the scene. They discovered a blood trail leading to his car, which contained loaded guns and notes about potential targets.

“Documents were also found and they prove, without any ambiguity, that the individual was preparing an imminent attack, in all probability, against one or two churches,” Cazeneuve said.

In the man’s apartment, in southeastern Paris, more weapons were found as well as Islamic extremist material, the official said. There was no immediate evidence that the suspect had direct ties to any organized groups, the official said.

Aurelie Chatelain, a 32-year-old Frenchwoman visiting Paris for a training session for her work, was found shot to death on Sunday morning in her car. The security official said Chatelain appeared to have been killed at random and ballistics evidence linked her death to the suspect.

“The terrorists target France to divide us” said Prime Minister Manuel Valls at a news conference Wednesday.

France has been on edge since the Jan. 7-9 attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket left 20 people dead, including the three gunmen. In that case, at least two of the gunmen had been flagged to French intelligence — and the third had been recently released from prison after serving a sentence involving his ties to Islamic extremists — but surveillance was called off months before the attack.

Read next: Palestinians Have Created a United Force to Keep ISIS Out of Their Camps

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TIME Maryland

Protesters Take to Streets After Man’s Death From Injuries Sustained in Police Custody

Protestors participate in a vigil for Freddie Gray down the street from the Baltimore Police Department's Western District police station in Baltimore on April 21, 2015.
Drew Angerer—Getty Images Protestors participate in a vigil for Freddie Gray down the street from the Baltimore Police Department's Western District police station in Baltimore on April 21, 2015.

The Department of Justice is investigating the death

(BALTIMORE) — Amid tears and cries for justice, demonstrators poured into the streets of Baltimore carrying signs emblazoned with the name of a man who died from a spinal injury he suffered while in police custody. Tuesday’s demonstration marked the beginning of a week of protests and rallies planned across the city.

The Justice Department said earlier in the day that it has opened a civil rights investigation into the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a fatal spinal-cord injury under mysterious circumstances after he was handcuffed and put in the back of a police van.

At the site of Gray’s arrest, more than a thousand demonstrators gathered to remember Gray, who friends and relatives say was kind, funny and generous, and call for police reform.

“I want this to be a sign to the Baltimore Police Department that this is not an act of surrender,” said Pastor Jamal Bryant of the Empowerment Temple, one of the rally’s organizers, as he called on those in the crowd to raise their hands. “It’s a sign of strength, of one unity and one commitment that we will not rest until we get justice for Freddie Gray.

“The world is watching,” Bryant said. “The world is watching, and the world needs to see that black Baltimore is unified.”

Gray was taken into custody April 12 after police “made eye contact” with him and another man in an area known for drug activity, police said, and both men started running. Gray was handcuffed and put in a transport van. At some point during his roughly 30-minute ride, the van was stopped and Gray’s legs were shackled when an officer felt he was becoming “irate,” police said.

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said Gray asked for an inhaler and then several times asked for medical care. He was eventually rushed to a hospital.

Gray died Sunday — a week after his arrest — of what police described as “a significant spinal injury.”

Exactly how he was injured and what happened in the van is still not known.

Demonstrators called for answers, accountability and a change to how they say people in inner-city Baltimore are treated by officers patrolling the neighborhood.

Pricilla Jackson carried a sign reading, “Convict Freddie’s killers,” that listed the names of the six officers suspended with pay while local and federal authorities investigate the death. Jackson, who is black, said she wants Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to know that she and others have been brutalized by police.

“They’re hurting us when they throw us to the ground and kick us and punch us,” said Jackson, 53.

As night began to fall, the crowd gathered outside of the Western District station house and held candles in front of banners that read, “Black Lives Matter, Stop Police Terror.”

“How many of you have a Freddie Gray in your family?” shouted one demonstrator at a line of police officers outside of the station. “How many of you have lost a child, a brother?”

Another demonstration is planned for Wednesday evening at the site of Gray’s arrest, and on Thursday protesters are expected to gather outside City Hall.

TIME europe

European Union Opens Antitrust Case Against Russia’s Gazprom

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestagerr spoke about the antitrust case against Gazprom in Brussels on April 22, 2015.
Yves Herman—Reuters EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestagerr spoke about the antitrust case against Gazprom in Brussels on April 22, 2015.

E.U. says that Gazprom's behavior amounts to an abuse of its dominant position

BRUSSELS — The European Union is opening an antitrust case against Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom energy giant amid worsening relations between Brussels and Moscow.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Wednesday that Gazprom’s behavior in central and eastern European member states, where it sometimes almost fully controls the gas market, amounts to an abuse of its dominant position.

Vestager said she is concerned that Gazprom imposes contractual obligations “preventing gas from flowing from certain Central Eastern European countries to others, hindering cross-border competition” and allowing the multinational to charge unfair prices.

The move comes at a time when the EU has already imposed economic and political sanctions on Russia for its involvement in the violence in eastern Ukraine.

Gazprom has 12 weeks to react to Wednesday’s EU allegations.

TIME India

India Detains 8 Pakistanis on Boat Containing Heroin Worth $95 Million

Authorities believe the 232 packets of drugs seized are heroin worth more than $95 million

(NEW DELHI) — India’s navy and coast guard seized a suspicious boat from international waters off the western coast and detained eight Pakistanis after finding a huge drug shipment aboard, the defense ministry said Tuesday.

Authorities believe the 232 packets of drugs found aboard the boat are heroin worth more than $95 million, the ministry said in a statement.

Satellite phones and a GPS system were also seized in the joint operation Monday involving two navy ships and one coast guard vessel.

The ministry said the eight people detained would likely be interrogated by intelligence officials as well as authorities from the navy and coast guard.

TIME Thailand

U.S. Lets in Thai Fish Caught by Slaves Despite Law

Ngwe Thein, 42, on Nov. 28, 2014, has been living on an island near Benjina, Indonesia for three years, after being forced to work on a fishing trawler with inadequate food and little or no pay
Esther Htusan—AP Ngwe Thein has been living on an island near Benjina, Indonesia for three years, after being forced to work on a fishing trawler with inadequate food and little or no pay

The U.S. has not enforced a law against forced-labor goods due to loopholes

(WASHINGTON) — In its first report on trafficking around the world, the U.S. criticized Thailand as a hub for labor abuse. Yet 14 years later, seafood caught by slaves on Thai boats is still slipping into the supply chains of major American stores and supermarkets.

The U.S. has not enforced a law banning the import of goods made with forced labor since 2000 because of significant loopholes, The Associated Press has found. It has also spared Thailand from sanctions slapped on other countries with weak records in human trafficking because of a complex political relationship that includes cooperation against terrorism.

The question of how to deal with Thailand and labor abuse will come up at a congressional hearing Wednesday, in light of an AP investigation that found hundreds of men beaten, starved, forced to work with little or no pay and even held in a cage on the remote island village of Benjina. While officials at federal agencies would not directly answer why the law and sanctions are not applied, they pointed out that the U.S. State Department last year blacklisted Thailand as among the worst offenders in its report on trafficking in people worldwide.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said the plight of about 4,000 forced laborers in Thailand’s seafood industry can no longer go unheeded.

“There have been problems with systematic and pervasive human trafficking in Thailand’s fishing fleets for more than a decade, but Washington has evidently considered it too hard to find out exactly what was happening and is not taking action to stop it,” he said. “No one can claim ignorance anymore. This is a test case for Washington as much as Bangkok.”

Hlaing Min, a 32-year-old migrant fisherman from Myanmar who worked around the clock for more than two years before he ran away, also begged the U.S. for help.

“Basically, we are slaves — and slavery is the only word that I can find — but our condition is worse than slavery,” he said. “On behalf of all the fishermen here, I request to the Congressmen that the U.S. stop buying all fish from Thailand. … This fish, we caught it with our blood and sweat, but we don’t get a single benefit from it.”

The AP investigation tracked fish caught by slaves to the supply chains of large food sellers such as Wal-Mart, Sysco and Kroger, as well as popular brands of canned pet food such as Fancy Feast, Meow Mix and Iams. The companies all said they strongly condemn labor abuse and are taking steps to prevent it. While some human rights advocates say boycotts are effective, many U.S. seafood companies say cutting off all imports from an entire country means they no longer have any power to bring about change.

During a recent visit to Jakarta, State Department Undersecretary Catherine A. Novelli was asked what the U.S. would now do.

“I’m sure that your public would be concerned that the fish that they ate came from a slave,” said an Indonesian reporter.

Novelli’s response was quick.

“In the United States we actually have a law that it is illegal to import any product that is made with forced labor or slave labor, and that includes fish,” she said. “To the extent that we can trace … where the fish are coming from, we won’t allow fish to come into the United States that has been produced with forced labor or slavery.”

However, the Tariff Act of 1930, which gives Customs and Border Protection the authority to seize shipments where forced labor is suspected and block further imports, has been used only 39 times in 85 years. In 11 cases, the orders detaining shipments were later revoked.

The most recent case dates back to 2000, when Customs stopped clothing from Mongolian firm Dong Fang Guo Ji based on evidence that factory managers forced employees, including children, to work 14-hour days for low wages. The order was revoked in 2001, after further review found labor abuse was no longer a problem at the company.

Detention orders that remain in place can have mixed results.

In 1999, Customs blocked hand-rolled unfiltered cigarettes from the Mangalore Ganesh Beedie Works in India, suspecting child labor. However, the AP found that Mangalore Ganesh has sent 11 large shipments of the cigarettes to Beedies LLC of Kissimee, Florida, over the past four years through the ports of New York, Miami and Savannah, Georgia. Beedies LLC said the cigarettes go straight from the U.S. ports to a bonded warehouse, and are then exported outside the country.

To start an investigation, Customs needs to receive a petition from anyone — a business, an agency, even a non-citizen — showing “reasonably but not conclusively” that imports were made at least in part with forced labor. But spokesman Michael Friel said that in the last four years, Customs has received “only a handful of petitions,” and none has pointed to seafood from Thailand. The most recent petition was filed two years ago by a non-profit against cotton in Uzbekistan.

“These cases often involve numerous allegations that require extensive agency investigation and fact-finding,” he said.

Experts also point to two gaping loopholes in the law. Goods made with forced labor must be allowed into the U.S. if consumer demand cannot be met without them. And it’s hard, if not impossible, to prove fish in a particular container is tainted, because different batches generally mix together at processing plants.

Former Justice Department attorney Jim Rubin said Customs can’t stop trafficked goods without the help of other federal agencies to investigate overseas.

“You can’t expect a Customs guy at the border to know that a can of salmon caught on the high seas was brought in by a slave,” he said.

The U.S. response to Thailand is also shaped by political considerations.

For years, the State Department has put Thailand on the watchlist in its annual trafficking report, saying the Thai government has made efforts to stop labor abuse. But last year, after several waivers, it dropped Thailand for the first time to the lowest rank, mentioning forced labor in the seafood industry. Countries with the same ranking, such as Cuba, Iran and North Korea, faced full sanctions, and foreign aid was withheld. Others, like Sudan, Syria and Zimbabwe, faced partial sanctions.

Thailand did not: U.S. taxpayers provided $18.5 million in foreign aid to the country last year.

“If Thailand was North Korea or Iran, they’d be treated differently,” said Josh Kurlantzick, a fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations. “They’re a key ally and we have a long relationship with them.”

In the 1960s and ’70s, when the U.S. needed Thailand’s help in the Vietnam War, the country “got a pass on everything,” Kurlantzick said. Then Thailand’s record on human rights gradually improved, along with its economy. That changed dramatically in 2006, when the military first ousted the prime minister. It declared martial law and then overtook the government again last year.

In response, the U.S. condemned the current regime and has suspended $4.7 million in military funding to the Southeast Asian nation.

However, the U.S. still includes Thailand in military exercises, and the country is considered a critical ally against terrorism. A U.S. Senate report in December detailed how top al-Qaida suspect Abu Zubaydah was water-boarded, slammed into a wall and isolated at a secret safe house in Thailand as part of CIA interrogations in 2002. And in 2003, a senior al-Qaida operative was arrested outside Bangkok after more than 200 people died in a Bali nightclub bombing.

The U.S. also wants strong relations with Thailand as a counterweight to China, whose influence is growing in the region.

Along with the State Department, the Labor Department has also flagged seafood from Thailand year after year as produced by forced labor in violation of international standards. Department of Homeland Security senior policy adviser Kenneth Kennedy referred to discussions for an action plan on labor abuse in Thailand that began in the fall.

“I think the U.S. government recently has realized that we need to pay attention to this area,” he said. “We need to address conditions that have been reported for years and that are in the public minds and in the public eye very much.”

Thailand itself says it is tackling labor abuse. In 2003, the country launched a national campaign against criminal organizations, including traffickers. In 2008, it adopted a new anti-human trafficking law. And last month, the new junta government cited the fight against trafficking as a national priority.

“This government is determined and committed to solving the human trafficking issues, not by words but by actions,” Deputy Government Spokesman Maj. Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd said. “We are serious in prosecuting every individual involved in the network, from the boats’ captains to government officials.”

However, a Thai police general on a fact-finding mission earlier this month to Benjina declared conditions were good and workers “happy.” A day later, Indonesian authorities rescued more than 320 abused fishermen from the island village, and the number of workers waiting to be sent home has since risen to more than 560.

Under United Nations principles adopted in 2011, governments must protect against human rights abuses by third parties. However, some local authorities in Thailand are themselves deeply implicated in such practices, said Harvard University professor John Ruggie, who wrote the principles, known as the “Ruggie Framework,” as a U.N. special representative. Also, Thailand’s seafood industry, with annual exports of about $7 billion, is big business for the country and depends on migrant labor.

Migrant fishermen rescued from Benjina were bewildered to learn that their abuse has been an open secret for years. Maung Htwe, a 26-year-old migrant worker from Myanmar, did backbreaking work for Thai captains in Indonesian waters over seven years, earning less than $5 a day, if he was lucky.

“Sometimes I’m really angry. It’s so painful. Why was I sold and taken to Indonesia?” asked Htwe, who was among the workers rescued from Benjina. “If people already knew the story, then they should have helped us and taken action.”

TIME Environment

New York Aims to Cut Waste by 90% by 2030

Bill Hornstein—Flickr/Getty Images

New York will announce an ambitious goal of reducing waste output by 90% by 2030

(NEW YORK) — The nation’s biggest city, in a far-reaching effort to limit its impact on the environment, is set to mark Earth Day by announcing the ambitious goal of reducing its waste output by 90 percent by 2030.

The Zero Waste plan, which includes an overhaul of the city’s recycling program, incentives to reduce waste and tacit support for the City Council’s plan to dramatically reduce the use of plastic shopping bags, will be announced by Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday. Its goal is sweeping: New York would be the largest city in the Western Hemisphere to adopt the plan, which aims to reduce the amount of its waste by more than 3 million tons from its 2005 level of about 3.6 million tons.

The waste reduction plan is part of an update to the sustainability project named PlaNYC, created by de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, to provide a framework for mitigating the impacts of population growth and a changing climate on the city’s infrastructure. De Blasio, who largely praised PlaNYC, is keeping its components but rebranding it OneNYC.

“The average New Yorker throws out nearly 15 pounds of waste a week, adding up to millions upon millions of tons a year,” de Blasio said in a statement to The Associated Press. “To be a truly sustainable city, we need to tackle this challenge head on.”

For decades, the city’s trash has been exported by rail or barge and sent to facilities in South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania or upstate New York. The new plan would eliminate almost all of the garbage exports, which currently cost more than $350 million a year.

The amount of waste produced by the city has fallen 14 percent since 2005 due to an increase in recycling, and a key component of the Zero Waste plan is to bolster that output by simplifying the process.

Currently, residential buildings have two types of recycling bins. The city’s new single-stream plan, already used by other cities, would consolidate all of the recycling into one type of bin by 2020.

Organics — food scraps, yard waste and other things that cannot be recycled — make up 31 percent of the city’s residential waste stream. A program to collect that material directly from residents’ homes is being expanded to nearly 200,000 residents by year’s end, and officials want to serve every home in the city by the end of 2018. The city, which has about 8.5 million residents, also will offer economic incentives to participate, including potentially a property tax rebate for homeowners.

The city also aims to reduce commercial waste by 90 percent by 2030 by adopting a program similar to what is being used with residential buildings. That could also mean tax incentives for businesses who participate and fines for those who don’t.

And while the de Blasio administration stopped short of endorsing a City Council bill that proposes a 10-cent fee for use of plastic bags, officials said that reducing their use is a priority and that they would coordinate efforts with the council.

A spokeswoman for de Blasio said some of the funding for the Zero Waste program would be revealed in next month’s budget proposal but noted there would also be cost savings due to the dramatic reduction of garbage being shipped out of state.

The OneNYC presentation, which also is going to include other capital expenditures meant to improve the city’s aging infrastructure, is meant to build on de Blasio’s environmental record, which includes a ban on Styrofoam boxes and the goal to reduce carbon emissions from city buildings by 80 percent by 2050.

Environmental groups briefed on the plan Tuesday applauded its wide-ranging scope.

“We see cities all over the world struggling with waste,” said Michael Berkowitz, president of 100 Resilient Cities. “A more efficient city is a more resilient city, and that means it’s a stronger city.”

TIME Crime

Trader Charged for Alleged Key Role in ‘Flash Crash’

Navinder Singh Sarao allegedly used lightning-fast software to manipulate the market for E-Mini S&P 500 futures contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange

(CHICAGO) — A multimillionaire futures trader accused of being a key figure in bringing on the 2010 “flash crash” — when the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 600 points in five minutes — was arrested in Great Britain Tuesday based on charges filed in Chicago.

Navinder Singh Sarao, 37, allegedly employed lightning-fast software to manipulate the market for E-Mini S&P 500 futures contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, according to a U.S. criminal complaint filed in February and unsealed Tuesday.

The May 6, 2010, “flash crash” rattled investors and left many wondering if the stock market was rigged. What caused it was unclear at the time, but regulators eventually traced one catalyst to trading algorithms gone awry.

High frequency traders such as Sarao use computer programs to buy and sell in milliseconds, scooping up tiny profits that quickly accumulate. They were the focus of the best seller “Flash Boys,” by Michael Lewis. The ultra-fast trading is not in itself illegal, but employing the technique to artificially drive prices up or down is.

The complaint portrays Sarao as occasionally brash. It says that weeks after the “flash crash,” he bragged in an email to a broker about how he had just told a Chicago exchange official who questioned some of his trades “to kiss my” behind.

Sarao, who typically worked from his home in the west London suburb of Hounslow, earned millions through illegal trading, the complaint says. Between 2010 and 2014, Sarao earned $40 million on E-Mini trading alone, though the complaint doesn’t say how much of that was through allegedly illegal trades.

The Feb. 11, 2015, complaint charges Sarao with one count of wire fraud, 10 of commodities fraud, 10 of commodities manipulation and one of “spoofing.” Spoofing involves bidding with the intent of quickly canceling the bid.

The United States is seeking Sarao’s extradition, the Justice Department statement says. The name of an attorney for Sarao who could comment on the allegations wasn’t available in the U.S. court papers.

Sarao defends himself in some emails included in the complaint.

In March 2010, as exchange officials questioned some trades, he said in an email that he executed some merely to show a friend “what occurs on the bid side of the market … by the high-frequency geeks.”

In another, he denied placing orders with the intention of instantly canceling them — emphasizing the claim in capital letters.

“I DO NOT use ANY computer program that minimizes or reduces the (chances) of my trades being filled,” he wrote.

The complaint says Sarao engaged in illegal trading from 2009 to 2014, and did so on the day of the “flash crash.” That crash slashed share values and led to panicky trading; the Dow eventually closed 348 points lower.

The complaint goes through Sarao’s trades on May 6, 2010, in the minutes before and during the five minutes the Dow plummeted. It describes his trades down to fractions of a second to illustrate his impact.

TIME Courts

Volunteer Deputy Facing Manslaughter Charge Will Still Go on Vacation

Robert Bates, left, leaves his arraignment with his daughter, Leslie McCreary, right, in Tulsa, Okla. on April 21, 2015. Bates, a 73-year-old Tulsa County reserve deputy who fatally shot a suspect who was pinned down by officers, pleaded not guilty to a second-degree manslaughter charge.
Sue Ogrocki—AP Robert Bates, left, leaves his arraignment with his daughter, Leslie McCreary, right, in Tulsa, Okla. on April 21, 2015. Bates, a 73-year-old Tulsa County reserve deputy who fatally shot a suspect who was pinned down by officers, pleaded not guilty to a second-degree manslaughter charge.

The victim's family criticized Robert Bates' planned trip to the Bahamas

(TULSA, Okla.) — A volunteer sheriff’s deputy plans to vacation in the Bahamas while facing a second-degree manslaughter charge in Oklahoma, his attorneys told a judge Tuesday, drawing immediate criticism from the family of the man he killed.

Robert Bates pleaded not guilty during the hearing in Tulsa district court. The 73-year-old former insurance executive has said he confused his handgun for a stun gun when he shot Eric Harris after the suspect ran during a sting investigation involving gun sales.

Bates’ lawyers told the judge that Bates, a reserve deputy with the Tulsa County sheriff’s office, and his family planned to take their previously planned vacation ahead of his next court date in July.

“It’s really not an issue,” Corbin Brewster, one of Bates’ attorneys, said in an interview after the hearing.

Harris’ family criticized the trip, saying it sends a message “of apathy with respect to the shooting and Eric’s life.”

“At a time when we are still mourning the death of a loved one that he shot down in the street, Mr. Bates will be relaxing and enjoying his wealth and privilege,” the family said in a statement released Tuesday.

Bates was charged after the sheriff’s office released video of the shooting, in which Bates is overheard apologizing for shooting the suspect.

Harris’ family has questioned whether Bates was qualified to conduct police work. Their attorneys allege that the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office violated several of its own policies by not keeping a permanent record of Bates’ certifications and allowing him to carry his personal handgun after training on another weapon.

But Sheriff Stanley Glanz said Bates — his longtime insurance agent and former campaign manager — had been properly trained and passed annual firearms certifications required by the state.

Bates, who sold his insurance business for $6 million in 1999, was trained to be a Tulsa Police Department patrolman in 1964, but he left the department in 1965.

He was out of law enforcement for 35 years before returning for volunteer work in Florida in 2000, and the Tulsa County force in 2008. Bates also made several donations to the Tulsa County sheriff’s office, and was Glanz’s campaign manager during the 2012 election.

TIME Government

DEA Chief to Retire Amid Pressure Over Agents’ Sex Scandal

DEA administrator Michele Leonhart testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in a hearing on sexual harassment and misconduct allegations at the DEA and FBI in Washington on April 14, 2015.
James Lawler Duggan—Reuters DEA administrator Michele Leonhart testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in a hearing on sexual harassment and misconduct allegations at the DEA and FBI in Washington on April 14, 2015.

Michele Leonhart had been widely criticized for her response to a scathing report detailing allegations that agents attended sex parties with prostitutes in a foreign country

(WASHINGTON) — The embattled head of the Drug Enforcement Administration said Tuesday that she plans to retire after three decades with the agency, an announcement that came amid mounting pressure for her resignation from members of Congress who questioned her handling of misconduct allegations against agents.

Michele Leonhart, a career drug agent who has led the agency since 2007 and was the second woman to hold the job, had been widely criticized for her response to a scathing government watchdog report detailing allegations that agents attended sex parties with prostitutes in a foreign country.

After Leonhart appeared last week before the House Oversight Committee to respond to an inspector general’s allegations that the agents had received lenient punishments, most lawmakers on the panel announced that they had lost confidence in her. She also was criticized as being “woefully unable to change” the agency’s culture.

The no-confidence statement was signed by 13 House Democrats and nine Republicans, including its chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and the committee’s top Democrat, Elijah Cummings of Maryland. Chaffetz went a step further, calling for Leonhart to resign or be fired. On Tuesday, the two lawmakers said they welcomed Leonhart’s departure, calling it appropriate and an opportunity for new leadership.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest reiterated earlier Tuesday that the Obama administration had “concerns about the material that was presented in the (inspector general) report that raised legitimate and serious questions about the conduct of some DEA officers.” He said Obama “maintains a very high standard for anybody who serves in his administration, particularly when it comes to law enforcement officials.”

Leonhart will leave the agency in mid-May, Attorney General Eric Holder said in announcing her retirement.

“Michele has led this distinguished agency with honor, and I have been proud to call her my partner in the work of safeguarding our national security and protecting our citizens from crime, exploitation and abuse,” Holder said, crediting her with helping dismantle violent drug trafficking organizations.

Leonhart canceled an appearance to receive an award Tuesday from sponsors of the Border Security Expo, a trade show in Phoenix for government contractors. Doug Coleman, the DEA’s special agent in charge in Phoenix, accepted on her behalf.

Robert Bonner, a former DEA administrator and Customs and Border Protection commissioner, told the luncheon audience that Leonhart was being unfairly blamed for agents’ misconduct. He said last week’s House hearing presented a “jumbled and distorted” picture of the agency, much of it untrue.

“Sadly, what we’re witnessing in Washington is ‘gotcha’ politics in action,” he said.

Leonhart was the target of online petitions calling for her ouster after she distanced herself from the administration’s stance on legalized marijuana, seen as a hands-off approach that lets states legalize marijuana so long as it is state-regulated. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law and is classified by the DEA as a Schedule 1 drug, along with drugs such as heroin and peyote.

Leonhart also declined to fully endorse sentencing reform efforts supported by the Justice Department, and the agency has been criticized by privacy advocates for its use of a sweeping database of phone calls made from the United States to multiple foreign countries. The agency acknowledged that database in a court filing involving a man accused of conspiring to illegally export goods and technology to Iran, but said it was no longer in use.

During Leonhart’s tenure the agency was responsible for a variety of notable criminal cases, including assisting in the 2014 capture of Mexico’s Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, long considered one of the most powerful drug traffickers in the world.

There were also scandals, including the case of a California college student who was left alone in a holding cell for five days without food or water. The April 2012 incident left Daniel Chong in grave physical health and led to a $4.1 million settlement and nationwide changes in the agency’s detention policies.


Associated Press writer Elliot Spagat in Phoenix contributed to this report

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