Thursday, 24 July 2014
Tuesday, 4 September 2012
Griselda Blanco, gunned down in Medellin, Colombia Two armed riders pulled up to Blanco as she was leaving a butcher shop in her hometown
Florida Department of Corrections
Griselda Blanco in 2004.
Blanco spent nearly 20 years in prison in the United States for drug trafficking and three murders before being deported to Colombia in 2004, the Herald reported.
Two armed riders pulled up to Blanco as she was leaving a butcher shop in her hometown, and one shot her twice in the head, the Herald reported, citing a report in El Colombiano newspaper.
Blanco was one of the first to engage in large-scale smuggling of cocaine into the United States from Colombia and set up many of the routes used by the Medellin cartel after she was sentenced in the United States in 1985, the BBC reported.
Investigators told the Herald that they estimate conservatively that Blanco was behind about 40 slayings. She was convicted in connection with three murders: Arranging the killing of two South Miami drug dealers who had not paid for a delivery, and ordering the assassination of a former enforcer for her organization, an operation that resulted in the death of the target’s 2-year-old son, the Herald reported.
Three of Blanco’s husbands were killed in violence related to drugs, the Herald reported, and one of her sons was named Michael Corleone, a reference to “The Godfather” movies.
Blanco is credited with originating motorcycle assassinations, the Herald reported.
“This is classic live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword,” filmmaker Billy Corben, who with Alfred Spellman made two “Cocaine Cowboys” documentaries, told the Herald. “Or in this case, live-by-the-motorcycle-assassin, die-by-the-motorcycle assassin.”
Tuesday, 28 August 2012
Amber Gold affair is one of the biggest financial scandals to hit Poland since the fall of communism in 1989.
It was pretty much all the money Bozena Oracz had after a working life as an accountant: the equivalent of $15,000. She placed it in a fund investing in gold, with the hope of paying for her daughter's studies and getting treatment for a bad knee.
Those dreams were dashed when she discovered she had fallen victim to an elaborate fraud scheme that has left thousands of Poles, many of them elderly, facing financial ruin.
The so-called Amber Gold affair is one of the biggest financial scandals to hit Poland since the fall of communism in 1989. The extent of wrongdoing is still murky, but it seems to have some elements of a pyramid scheme, meaning the financial institutionused funds from new clients to pay off older clients rather than investing them.
Consumed with anger and desperation, 58-year-old Oracz traveled last week from a small town near Warsaw to a law firm in the capital to consider whether, after losing 50,000 zlotys, she should risk another 3,000 zlotys ($920; €730) on the fee to join a class-action lawsuit seeking to recover some of the losses.
"This was a lot of money to me — it was my savings," Oracz said, fighting back tears. Now retired and living on a small pension, she sees no way of building another nest egg. "My pension barely covers my needs," she said.
The affair has raised questions about the effectiveness of Poland's justice system and government because authorities failed to act against the scheme despite red flags from regulators and the criminal record of its young owner. Scrutiny has also focused on the prime minister due to business dealings his son had with those running the scheme. The scandal has even touched democracy icon Lech Walesa, who fears it could tarnish his good name.
Prosecutors say investors lost about 163 million zlotys ($50 million; €40 million), a number that has been mounting as more and more victims come forward. Any law suits could take care years to go through the courts, with no guarantee of their outcome.
"People are desperate," said Pawel Borowski, a lawyer preparing the class-action suit that Oracz is considering joining. "In most cases the clients lost life savings or sold family properties to make investments."
The financial institution, Amber Gold, promised guaranteed returns of 10 to 14 percent a year for what it claimed were investments in gold. Many of its clients were older Poles who grew up under communism and lacked the savvy to question how a financial firm could guarantee such a high return on a commodity whose value fluctuates on the international market. The promised returns compared well to the 3 to 5 percent interest offered by banks on savings accounts — earnings essentially wiped out by the country's 4 percent inflation rate.
"These were people with a low level of financial education," said Piotr Bujak, the chief economist for Poland at Nordea Markets. "They think it's still like in the old times, where everything was guaranteed by the state. They underestimated the risk."
Amber Gold launched in 2009, opening branches in city centers alongside respected banks, with white leather sofas and other sleek touches that conveyed sophistication and respectability. It bombarded Poles with convincing advertisements. Some early investors got out with their expected gains, adding to the fund's credibility.
The company, based in Gdansk, capitalized on gold's allure while playing on people's anxieties in unpredictable financial times. "We are dealing with a loss of confidence in the entire financial system and an urgent need for safe investments," one ad said. "The environment for gold is perfect."
Amber Gold drew in 50,000 investors over its three years of operation, though the company's founder, Marcin Plichta, said there were only about 7,000 at the time of liquidation.
Soon after Amber Gold began operations, the Polish Financial Supervision Authority put it on a "black list" of institutions that operate like banks without authorization. There are 17 other such black-listed institutions in operation, but the regulators lack the authority to shut them down. This has sparked a debate in the government and news media about whether courts should be more aggressive in intervening.
According to prosecutors, the company did use some of its money to invest in at least one legitimate business: It was the main investor in budget airline OLT Express. It was this investment that brought Amber Gold down — when the airline filed for bankruptcy, Amber Gold entered liquidation and its scheme of investments unraveled. Its bank accounts were blocked and it was unable to return the money of thousands of its customers.
Plichta was charged this month with six counts of criminal misconduct.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk's center-right government went into damage-control mode when it emerged that the leader's son, Michal Tusk, had done PR work for the airline. Tusk said he had warned his son against doing business with Plichta but that ultimately he son makes his own decisions.
Leszek Miller, the head of the opposition Democratic Left Alliance, asked how Tusk could warn his son against involvement in the airline but not warn the thousands of Poles who invested in the fund. Miller has called for a parliamentary inquiry into the scandal.
Public discontent is also centering on the justice system because Plichta, 28, has past convictions for fraud, and many Poles are asking why authorities — aware of his criminal record — didn't stop him sooner. Born Marcin Stefanski, he took his wife's last name to distance himself from his past crimes.
The country's top prosecutor, Andrzej Seremet, admitted Monday that prosecutors were negligent in failing to heed multiple warnings since 2009 about Amber Gold from the financial supervisory body. He announced personnel changes in the office he blamed for mistakes.
The affair also has an unlikely connection to the Solidarity leader and former president, Lech Walesa, because an Oscar-winning director, Andrzej Wajda, was relying on money from Amber Gold to produce a film about Walesa's struggle in the 1980s.
Walesa came out publicly to make clear he is not involved in any way, saying he doesn't want his name "dirtied."
Many of the unlucky investors are not only furious but wracked by shame and guilt.
Engineer Andrzej Malinowski, 61, put three months of salary — 25,000 zlotys ($7,660; €6,100) — into Amber Gold. He made the investment without consulting with his wife, sensing that there was some risk and that she would not have agreed.
Now he is so shaken and embarrassed that he doesn't want to talk about it, leaving his wife, Danuta Malinowska, to help unravel the mess.
"He saw that gold was going higher and higher so he believed that maybe it would be a good deal," Malinowska said. "Now he has so much guilt that I am trying to help — contacting the lawyer, filling in the forms, writing to the prosecutors. But the justice system is very ineffective. I don't believe we will be getting any of this money back."
Monday, 27 August 2012
Miguel Angel Trevino Morales new leader is emerging at the head of one of Mexico's most feared drug cartels.
This undated image taken from the Mexican Attorney General's Office rewards program website on Aug. 23, 2012, shows the alleged leader of Zetas drug cartel, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, alias âZ-40.â (AP Photo/Mexican Attorney General's Office website)
Mexico's Violent Zetas Cartel Sees New Leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales A split in the leadership of Mexico's violent Zetas cartel has led to the rise of Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, a man so feared that one rival has called for a grand alliance to confront a gang chief blamed for a new round of bloodshed in the country's once relatively tranquil central states.
Trevino, a former cartel enforcer who apparently has seized leadership of the gang from Zetas founder Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, is described by lawmen and competing drug capos as a brutal assassin who favors getting rid of foes by stuffing them into oil drums, dousing them with gasoline and setting them on fire, a practice known as a "guiso," or "cook-out".
Law enforcement officials confirm that Trevino appears to have taken effective control of the Zetas, the hemisphere's most violent criminal organization, which has been blamed for a large share of the tens of thousands of deaths in Mexico's war on drugs, though other gangs too have repeatedly committed mass slayings.
"There was a lot of talk that he was pushing really hard on Lazcano Lazcano and was basically taking over the Zetas, because he had the personality, he was the guy who was out there basically fighting in the streets with the troops," said Jere Miles, a Zetas expert and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent who was posted in Mexico until last year.
"Lazcano Lazcano, at the beginning he was kind of happy just to sit back and let Trevino do this, but I don't think he understood how that works in the criminal underworld," Miles said. "When you allow someone to take that much power, and get out in front like that, pretty soon the people start paying loyalty to him and they quit paying to Lazcano."
The rise has so alarmed at least one gang chieftain that he has called for gangs, drug cartels, civic groups and even the government to form a united front to fight Trevino Morales, known as "Z-40," whom he blamed for most of Mexico's violence.
"Let's unite and form a common front against the Zetas, and particularly against Z-40, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, because this person with his unbridled ambition has caused so much terror and confusion in our country," said a man identified as Servando Gomez, leader of the Knights Templar cartel, in a viedo posted Tuesday on the internet.
A Mexican law enforcement official who wasn't authorized to speak on the record said the video appeared to be genuine,
"He is the main cause of everything that is happening in Mexico, the robberies, kidnappings, extortion," Gomez is heard saying on the tape. "We are inviting all the groups ... everyone to form a common front to attack Z-40 and put an end to him."
Trevino Morales has a fearsome reputation. "If you get called to a meeting with him, you're not going to come out of that meeting," said a U.S. law-enforcement official in Mexico City, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic.
In two years since Zetas split with their former allies in the Gulf cartel — a split in which Trevino reported played a central role — the gang has become one of Mexico's two main cartels, and is battling the rival Sinaloa cartel.
Now the Zetas' internal disputes have added to the violence of the conflict between gangs. Internal feuds spilled out into pitched battles in the normally quiet north-central state of San Luis Potosi in mid-August, when police found a van stuffed with 14 executed bodies.
San Luis Potosi state Attorney General Miguel Angel Garcia Covarrubias told local media that a 15th man who apparently survived the massacre told investigators that both the killers and the victims were Zetas. "It was a rivalry with the same organized crime group," Garcia Covarrubias said.
The leadership dispute also may have opened the door to lesser regional figures in the Zetas gang to step forward and rebel, analysts and officials said.
Analysts say that a local Zetas leader in the neighboring state of Zacatecas, Ivan Velazquez Caballero, "The Taliban," was apparently trying to challenge Trevino Morales' leadership grab, and that the 14 bullet-ridden bodies left in the van were The Taliban's men, left there as a visible warning by Trevino Morales' underlings.
The Taliban's territory, Zacatecas, appears to have been a hot spot in Trevino's dispute with Lazcano. It was in Zacatecas that a professionally printed banner was hung in a city park, accusing Lazcano of betraying fellow Zetas and turning them in to the police.
Trevino began his career as a teenage gofer for the Los Tejas gang, which controlled most crime in his hometown of Nuevo Laredo, across the border from the city of Laredo, Texas, officials say.
Around 2005, Trevino Morales was promoted to boss of the Nuevo Laredo territory, or "plaza" and given responsibility for fighting off the Sinaloa cartel's attempt to seize control of its drug-smuggling routes. He orchestrated a series of killings on the U.S. side of the border, several by a group of young U.S. citizens who gunned down their victims on the streets of the American city. American officials believe the hit men also carried out an unknown number of killings on the Mexican side of the border, the U.S. official said.
Trevino Morales is on Mexico's most-wanted list, with a reward of 30 million pesos ($2.28 million) offered for information leading to his capture.
Raul Benitez, a security expert at Mexico's National Autonomous University, said that the Zetas are inherently an unstable cartel with an already huge capacity for violence, and the possibility of more if they begin fighting internal disputes. "I think the Zetas are having problems, and there is no central command," he said.
The Zetas have been steadily expanding their influence and reaching into Central America in recent years, constructing a route for trafficking drugs that offloads Colombian cocaine in Honduras, ships it overland along Mexico's Gulf Coast and runs into over the border through Trevino Morales' old stomping grounds.
Samuel Logan, managing director of the security analysis firm Southern Pulse, notes that "personality-wise they (Trevino Morales and Lazcano) couldn't be more different," and believes the two may want to take the cartel in different directions. The stakes in who wins the dispute could be large for Mexico; Lazcano is believed to be more steady, more of a survivor who might have an interest in preserving the cartel as a stable organization.
"Lazcano may be someone who would take the Zetas in a direction where they'd become less of a thorn in the side for the new political administration," Logan said in reference to Enrique Pena Nieto, who is expected to take office as president on Dec. 1. "In contrast, Trevino is someone who wants to fight the fight."
Referring to Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel, a member of the rival Sinaloa Cartel who died in a shootout with soldiers in July 2010, Logan noted, "Trevino is someone who is going to want to go out, like Nacho Coronel went out, with his guns blazing."
Laurence Kilby, 40, of Cheltenham, who built and raced cars, was arrested after police seized cocaine with a street value of £1m.
Laurence Kilby, 40, of Cheltenham, who built and raced cars, was arrested after police seized cocaine with a street value of £1m.
A "privileged" racing driver has been jailed with 11 other drug smugglers. Crown Court heard he was head of a gang moving drugs from Eastern Europe along the M4 corridor to London, western England and south Wales.
Kilby was heavily in debt and turned to crime to maintain his lifestyle of fast cars and high living.
Raids on properties
Kilby was jailed in June but his conviction, and those of the rest of the gang, can now be reported following the conclusion of another trial.
In an undercover operation between Gloucestershire and Avon and Somerset Police, officers seized 3kg of cocaine as it was being ferried between London and Cheltenham in October 2010.
Another 1kg of the drug was intercepted in Cheltenham in February 2011 and 2.5kg was discovered in raids on properties in Cheltenham, Staverton, Bristol and London in July 2011.
The gang of 12 drug dealers from Gloucestershire, Bristol and London received sentences of between 18 years and four years seven months.
It can now be reported Kilby, who was jailed in June, and Vladan Vujovic, 43, of Grange Road, London were found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. Both were jailed for 18 years.
Richard Jones, 42, of Bradley Stoke, Bristol, was sentenced to 15 years for the same offence, and Mark Poole, 47, from Portishead, was sentenced to nine years seven months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Police said Kilby sourced the drug in London from an East European criminal gang, which included Vujovic.
Vujovic ran a baggage handling company at Heathrow Airport and was said to receive the cocaine before it was distributed around the South West and Wales.
Kilby is the former husband of Flora Vestey, daughter of Lord Vestey, and was owner of motor racing firm Ajec Racing which was based in Staverton.
He was heavily in debt and turned to crime to maintain his lifestyle of fast cars and high living.
In a separate charge, Kilby also pleaded guilty to stealing money from the charity Help for Heroes and was sentenced to 10 months, to run concurrently with his 18-year sentence.
He organised a charity race day at Gloucestershire Airport in July 2010, but failed to pass on between £3,500 and £4,000 in proceeds to the charity Help for Heroes.
Det Insp Steve Bean, from Gloucestershire Police, said Kilby was the main man.
"He portrayed himself as a well-connected socialite and businessman, whilst indulging his ambition as a minor league racing driver.
"Despite a privileged background, the reality was that his lifestyle was funded by the ill-gotten gains of drug dealing.
"He continually lied and blamed others in an attempt to distance himself from the conspiracy.
"He displayed an air of arrogance and thought he could get away with it because he didn't get his hands dirty."
The majority of the gang were jailed in June, but reporting restrictions meant it could not be reported until now, after the sentencing of the remaining gang members.
Others members of the gang to be sentenced were:
- David Chapman, 29, from Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply and was sentenced to nine years.
- William Garnier, 31, from Cheltenham, pleaded guilty to supplying Class A drugs and was sentenced six years and eight months.
- Garry Burrell, 46, from Easton, Bristol, and John Tomlin, 28, from Newtown, Gloucestershire both pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine and were sentenced to six years and six months and four years and six months respectively.
- Timothy Taylor, 40, from Bristol was found guilty of supplying Class A drugs and was sentenced to four years and seven months.
- Brian Barrett, 48, from Keynsham was found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and was sentenced to 10 years.
- Scott Everest, 39, from Clevedon was found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and was jailed for seven years.
Jonathan Tanner, 45, from Warminster was sentenced to 18 months for possession with intent to supply of cannabis, but was cleared of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Darren Weetch, 38, from Bristol, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply. He was sentenced to 16 months.
Officers also worked with Thames Valley Police and the Metropolitan Police during the operation.
FOUR men with alleged links to outlaw motorcycle gangs were arrested last week after a brawl at a Penrith shopping centre. Police officers from the gangs squad and Penrith local area command had been investigating the brawl, which forced shoppers to flee for their safety about 2.45pm last Monday. Police will allege a man was leaving the shopping centre when he was confronted by a group of nine men and fighting began. A number of people tried to intervene, including an unknown male who was assaulted. All involved in the brawl then left the scene. At 7am last Thursday, police simultaneously raided four homes at St Marys, Emu Plains, South Windsor and Freemans Reach. Three men with alleged links to the Rebels were arrested at St Marys and Emu Plains, while an alleged senior Nomads member was arrested at Freemans Reach. During the search warrants, police seized distinctive gang clothing, quantities of anabolic steroids and prescription drugs and a set of knuckledusters. A man, 29, of Emu Plains, was charged with affray, participate in a criminal group and two counts of possess prescribed restricted substance. A man, 44, of Freemans Reach, was charged with affray, possess prohibited weapon, and two counts of possess prescribed restricted substance. A man, 25, of St Marys, and a 23-year-old New Zealand man were each charged with affray and participate in a criminal group. Penrith crime manager Detective Inspector Grant Healey said further arrests were anticipated.
Local and federal authorities moved Thursday to break up an alleged drug trafficking ring connecting a major Mexican cartel and San Gabriel Valley street gangs, arresting 17 people in a pre-dawn sweep. A federal indictment unsealed Thursday charges 27 defendants with making, possessing and dealing methamphetamine imported by La Familia Michoacana, one of Mexico’s most violent cartels, to two Pomona gangs: Los Amables and Westside Pomona Malditos. Seven law enforcement agencies, including the Pasadena and Pomona police, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, were involved in the sweep. Thursday’s crackdown is the culmination of a probe called Operation Crystal Light, a 16-month investigation by the San Gabriel Valley Safe Streets Gang Task Force. The investigation was launched after a 2011 kidnapping among suspected gang members in Southern California. Officers said they seized nine weapons, an undisclosed amount of methamphetamine, other drugs, and paraphernalia in Thursday morning raids in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The probe involved about 200 law enforcement officers and several undercover purchases. “The goal of the federal task force is to disrupt the network so it’s disrupted permanently,” Timothy Delaney, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Criminal Division in Los Angeles, said. “Today’s arrests took some very serious players in the methamphetamine world off the streets.” The methamphetamine came into the country in liquid form via airplane, boats and cars, officials said. The drug was recrystallized at an Ontario home before local gangs would sell it and funnel money to the Mexican cartel. Most of the drugs were being sold in Pomona and Ontario, according to Assistant U.S. Atty. Shawn Nelson. Dealers were selling multiple pounds a day and making up to $9,000 per pound, Nelson said. He described the arrests as “a good dent” in the Mexican cartel’s local drug network. Three suspects were in custody before the raid and seven remain at large, federal authorities said. The indictment alleges that a La Familia Michoacana associate named Jose Juan Garcia Barron oversaw the transport of the meth between Mexico and Los Angeles County. Delaney said Garcia Barron is among the suspects who have not been apprehended. The 17 arrested Thursday were expected to make their first court appearance Thursday afternoon at U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
Police believe drive-by shootings at an Ogden home Tuesday night and Wednesday morning may be related to a violent power struggle within a street gang over control of leadership, drugs and money. Ogden Police Lt. Scott Conley declined to identify the gang, but said members are not affiliated with the Ogden Trece. On Monday, 2nd District Judge Ernie Jones issued a permanent injunction against Trece members, banning them from associating with each other in public and being in the presence of guns, drugs and alcohol. The injunction also places Treces under an 11 p.m. curfew. The drive-by shootings at a home in the 500 block of 28th Street are signs of in-fighting among members of a local gang who are attempting to resolve their differences through escalating violence, Conley said. “They are in the same gang and are arguing back and forth,” he said, noting police have gathered intelligence on the dispute. “We are taking enforcement action to eradicate the problem or get the individuals involved incarcerated.” Six to eight gang members are believed to be involved in the dispute.
Saturday, 25 August 2012
The nine people believed injured by stray police gunfire outside the Empire State Building were not the first to learn how dangerous a crowded street can be in a gunfight.
Civilians occasionally find themselves in harm's way when officers use deadly force, though usually only a handful of times annually. When that happens, a rigid process of investigation is set in motion — and the police department can reasonably expect a lawsuit. The latest episode came when police say a man disgruntled over losing his job a year ago shot a former colleague to death and pointed his weapon at two police officers in the shadow of a major tourist attraction. He apparently wasn't able to fire before police killed him, one firing off seven rounds and the other nine. Bystanders suffered graze wounds, and some were struck by concrete gouged from buildings by the bullets, authorities said. At least one person said he was actually hit by a bullet. Robert Asika, a 23-year-old tour guide who was hit in the right arm, said he was "100 percent positive" he was shot by a police officer. A witness told police that laid-off clothing designer Jeffrey Johnson fired at officers, but ballistics evidence so far contradicts that, authorities said.
Thursday, 23 August 2012
A Trail of Ink: Tracking a Rare Tattoo-Related Infection
This trail began when the man received a tattoo in Rochester, N.Y. in October 2011. A short while later, he noticed the raised, bumpy rash. He called his primary care physician.
Doctors initially treated the man's arm with topical steroids, thinking that the rash was allergic-contact dermatitis. But that only made the problem worse.
By the time dermatologist Dr. Mark Goldgeier saw the patient, it was clear that this was no simple allergy.
He performed a skin biopsy so he could take a closer look at the rash under a microscope. What he saw was startling: the sample was riddled with a wormlike bacterium related to tuberculosis.
"I explained [to the patient] that he had TB, and he had a look of horror on his face," Goldgeier said.
For the patient, the finding meant a trip to an infectious disease specialist to start up to a full year of treatment.
Goldgeier, meanwhile, called the Monroe County Health Department.
"As soon as biopsy came back," he said, "I knew something in the process of tattooing was involved -- the ink, the water used for dilution, the syringes, the dressings."
And so began a nationwide medical mystery.
Dr. Byron Kennedy, public health specialist at Monroe County Department of Public Health, took over the case from Goldgeier. Kennedy first confirmed the results by repeating a skin biopsy on the patient. Once again, tendrils of mycobacterium chelonae, a type of tuberculosis-related skin bacteria, showed up in the sample.
Mycobacterium chelonae is a rapidly growing bug found in soil, dust, water, animals, hospitals, and contaminated pharmaceuticals. This family of bacteria does not commonly affect healthy individuals, but in patients with suppressed immune systems -- like those with HIV or on chemotherapy -- these bacteria can cause serious disease, often resulting in death.
The finding sent Kennedy and his associates to the tattoo parlor where the patient had been inked. Everything in the clinic was sterile, which made it unlikely that the infection had arisen there. But the tattoo artist, they learned, had been using a new gray premixed ink purchased in Arizona in April 2011; he used the ink between May and December 2011.
The ingredients of the ink -- pigment, witch hazel, glycerin, and distilled water -- seemed innocuous enough. But further examination revealed that the distilled water in the pigment was the likely culprit of the contamination.
The finding raised a number of questions -- not the least of which was how the bottles of premixed ink passed U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged this gap in regulations Wednesday in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report.
"Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, tattoo inks are considered to be cosmetics, and the pigments used in the inks are color additives requiring premarket approval," the report says.
Twenty-five people were killed and 43 others hurt in a prison battle in Venezuela as two armed gangs vied for control of a penitentiary near Caracas, authorities said on Monday.
Sunday, 29 July 2012
17-year veteran of the New York Police Department has been suspended without pay after a kidnapping victim was found tied up in his garage. The New York Post reports Ondre Johnson, a detective with the Brooklyn north gang unit, was being questioned in connection with the incident and was forced to surrender his gun and badge. A source tells the Post the 25-year-old victim was snatched off the street on July 26. The victim's friends then got calls demanding $75,000 for the victim's release. The call was traced to Johnson's home, MyFoxNY.com reports. When authorities arrived Friday afternoon, Johnson answered the door and identified himself as a detective with the NYPD. Investigators then found the victim tied up in the garage. Four men have been charged in the apparent kidnapping scheme, MyFoxNY.com reports. 30-year-old Hakeem Clark, who lives in the same building as Johnson, was charged with kidnapping and weapons possession along with 27-year-old Jason Hutson and 27-year-old James Gayle. 24-year-old Alfredo Haughton was charged with kidnapping.
Jamie “Iceman” Stevenson is back on the streets – less than halfway through his prison sentence for laundering £1million of drugs cash. Scotland’s most powerful mobster has been enjoying meals at expensive restaurants and socialising with pals after being allowed home for a week each month. Stevenson – who was also accused of shooting dead his best friend in an underworld hit – was put behind bars in September 2006 when he was arrested after a four-year surveillance operation by the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency. He was later sentenced to 12 years and nine months for money laundering. But, we can reveal, he is now allowed out of Castle Huntly open prison near Dundee – just five years and 10 months later. A source said: “He seems determined to show his face all around town to deliver the message that he’s back and, as far as he’s concerned, nothing has changed. “A lot of people are surprised that he’s being allowed out so early. Some are not too pleased about it for a number of reasons.” Stevenson, 47, has been spotted at Bothwell Bar & Brasserie, which is run by his friend Stewart Gilmore. He and his cronies have also dined at upmarket Italian restaurant Il Pavone in Glasgow’s Princes Square shopping centre. And Stevenson has joined friends at various other restaurants and hotels, including Glasgow’s Hilton Garden Inn. A Sunday Mail investigation can today reveal that the Parole Board for Scotland could recommend Stevenson’s total freedom as early as February next year. However, the final decision on his release will rest with Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. Yesterday, Labour justice spokesman Lewis Macdonald said: “I’m surprised to hear this and that anyone in these circumstances should get out of jail before the halfway point of their sentence – far less so when the conviction is of someone involved in organised crime. “The only circumstances where that would be conceivable would be if someone completely changed their lifestyle. But even then that should not be before they’ve served half their sentence. “I’m sure the victims of these crimes – and with drugs there are direct and indirect victims – will also be surprised at this.” To prepare Stevenson for his release, prison bosses have allowed him to stay a full week each month at his modest flat in Burnside, near Glasgow. On Friday, we watched him leaving the property with his wife Caroline and driving off in a silver Audi. A prison service insider said: “The Parole Board expect the prison authorities to have allowed home visits to test suitability for release ahead of the first eligible parole date. In Stevenson’s case, that’s next February. “There are conditions attached which vary but usually include the obvious ones like not mixing with other criminals and staying only at the designated address. “For prisoners sentenced to more than 10 years, the Parole Board make their recommendations to the Justice Secretary, who then decides whether to release on licence. “Stevenson is trying to keep his nose clean to convince the Parole Board that he poses no threat to society. “But, given his high profile and significance, it’s inevitable that the authorities will be careful before making any final decision.” Stevenson headed a global smuggling gang with a multi-million-pound turnover when he was brought down by the SCDEA’s Operation Folklore, which seized £61million of drugs. He faced drug and money laundering charges along with eight other suspects, including his 53-year-old wife. But his lawyers struck a deal with the Crown Office to admit money laundering in exchange for his wife’s freedom and the drugs charges being dropped. Stevenson’s stepson Gerry Carbin Jr, 32, was also jailed – for five years and six months – but was freed in 2010. Stevenson was previously arrested for the murder of Tony McGovern, 35, who was gunned down in Glasgow’s Springburn in 2000. But prosecutors dropped the case through lack of evidence. A gangland source said: “He does not fear any kind of reprisal from Tony’s brothers, nor does he regard any other criminals in Scotland as a threat or even as rivals. He did not fear any other operation in Scotland before he was jailed. Why would he now?” Two years ago, the Sunday Mail exposed a backdoor deal when the Crown handed back Stevenson’s £300,000 watch collection, which had been seized under proceeds of crime of legislation. Last June, he was sent back to high-security Shotts jail in Lanarkshire from an open prison after a major SCDEA drugs probe, Operation Chilon. Detectives believed that the gang they investigated was controlled by Stevenson. Haulage firm boss Charles McAughey’s home was one of 11 targeted in raids. In 2009, we revealed that French police had found 684kg of pure cocaine worth £31million in a lorry owned by McAughey. Chilon resulted in the SCDEA seizing 242kg of cannabis worth £1.21million and the jailing of three men for a combined 15 years.
Police in Alice are investigating a shooting that occurred near Reynolds Street. According to investigators, it all started on South Nayer Street where police say Isaac Vela was standing on the side of the road waiting for a ride. A vehicle -- with four people inside passed by. One of the passengers, police say, shot Vela in the face. The vehicle fled the scene, but the driver only made it a few blocks before he lost control of the vehicle. It smashed into a nearby school. Three of the four people inside the car died. The other is in the hospital...where investigators will interview him tomorrow. Police say all of the men involved are known gang members.
Saturday, 28 July 2012
Reece James, 21, a close friend of Tulisa Contostavlos has been shot dead in a reported gangland attack. The 21-year-old, who appeared with Tulisa in a video for rapper Nines, was shot in the head in a "pre-planned and targeted" hit, 100 miles from his home in London, reports the UK's Sun newspaper. Police found James' body in Boscombe, Bournemouth, at around 2.30am near where Somali drug gangs are said operate. A 22-year-old man was arrested. Reece was said to have been in the area with some friends for "a couple of months", though had filmed the video earlier this month with Tulisa and rapper Nines on the Church End Estate in Harlesden, North West London. The former N Dubz star caused controversy at the time, making a "C" symbol to the camera - the same sign that is used by Harlesden's notorious Church Road Soldiers gang. Tulisa claimed it was a reference to Camden, where she was born. Twitter tributes began flooding in last night, with one user writing, "RIP Reece James. Thoughts are with him and his family and friends". Local MP Tobias Ellwood described the killing as "a spill over from the drugs turf war in the capital", adding, "This was one London gang chasing down another, carrying out a professional hit and then going back".
Friday, 20 July 2012
Britain is in the grip of a pickpocketing epidemic as Eastern European gangs descend on London ahead of the Olympic Games.
A surge in sneak street thefts means more than 1,700 people fall victim every day – an increase of nearly a fifth in only two years, according to official crime figures released yesterday.
At the same time, police warned that professional gangs from Romania, Lithuania and even South America who operate in capitals across Europe are heading to Britain, intent on cashing in on unwitting tourists at London 2012.
How they do it: A member of the pickpocket gang approaches a BBC reporter investigating the rise in thefts ahead of the Olympics
Keeping him occupied: The man speaks to the victim on the pretense of needing directions while another gang member approaches from behind
A BBC investigation exposed the tactics used by Romanian thieves, who were previously operating in Barcelona, to dupe their victims.
The criminals boasted of their ‘one-second’ theft techniques which leave targets unaware that anything has happened until it is too late. They can make £4,000 a week taking wallets, smartphones and laptop bags. The goods are then shipped back to Romania and sold on the black market.
The Met has even drafted in a team of Romanian police officers to deal with the problem and patrol in the West End of London and Westminster during the Games. They will not have arrest powers.
Distracted: An accomplice (left) then plays drunk so he can get close enough to the target to strike
Sleight of hand: The 'drunk' man jostles around with the BBC reporter, making it harder for him to notice what is going on
Rich pickings: The sneering thief walks away with the wallet from the unsuspecting victim
Teamwork: The thief quickly hands the wallet to another member of the gang, who spirits it away
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: ‘These Romanian officers will prove to be a huge asset in cracking down on certain criminal networks who are targeting tourists in central London.’
Official statistics released yesterday showed pickpocketing thefts rose 17 per cent in the past two years.
In 2011/12, a total of 625,000 people fell victim, the Crime Survey of England and Wales showed.
That is an increase of more than 102,000 since 2009/10.
The vast majority of the total are classified as ‘stealth thefts’, but in 83,000 cases the victims’ possessions were ‘snatched’.
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
A handful of MOB (Most Organized Brothers) members have split off and recently formed a new gang faction dubbed the “334”
A mysterious rift among members of a notorious Winnipeg street gang has led to the birth of a new splinter group inside provincial jails and on city streets, the Winnipeg Sun has learned. A handful of MOB (Most Organized Brothers) members have split off and recently formed a new gang faction dubbed the “334” — a numerical nod to the tattoos worn by some MOB members, a Manitoba Justice gang prosecutor told court Tuesday. Within the gang, the digits carry the meaning, “MOB for life.” The split took place sometime after mid-December 2011, when longtime MOB member Michael Balingit, 23, was arrested and held at the Milner Ridge provincial jail, Judge Robert Heinrichs was told. Balinjit, known in the gang as ‘Legs,’ was moved by Corrections officials out of the MOB range and into a different area of the jail. From there, he was “running a crew” of about five 334 members despite being locked up in custody, the Crown said. Balinjit admitted Tuesday to selling a small amount of crack cocaine to an undercover cop last winter and breaching several conditions of a probation order. He was sentenced to two years, minus seven months of time already served. Balinjit will be supervised by GRASP — a monitoring program aimed at getting high-risk gang members out of gang life — for a full two years after he gets out. Justice sources couldn’t say specifically what led to the MOB/334 split, only that “something happened” to trigger it. The street gang situation is “fluid” in terms of who represents who, said the source. Winnipeg cops were recently issued an internal warning to watch for a flare up of conflict between the MOB and rivals the Indian Posse (IP). “The gangs are expecting to run into each other and they will clash,” a source told the Sun in mid-June, around the time of the Red River Exhibition. It wouldn’t be the first time tensions between the MOB and IP resulted in violence. Late last summer and into the fall, the rivals were embroiled in a feud that turned deadly. First, IP associate Clarky Stevenson, 15, was stabbed in September in a long-standing beef with rivals MOB. Not long after MOB members allegedly killed Stevenson, David Vincett, 20, was shot and killed on Boyd Avenue. From all appearances, Vincett wasn’t a gang member, but might have told the accused he was connected to MOB during a brief argument.
Friday, 6 July 2012
When Carlos Ford was booked into the El Paso County jail Tuesday night on charges of first-degree murder, it was not for the first time. Known on the streets and to police as “Vicious,” the 30-year-old’s extensive rap sheet dates to his teen years and includes 11 convictions, prison time and allegations of gang affiliation. In 2005, prosecutors charged Ford with first-degree murder, but dismissed the charge before trial due to lack of evidence. After serving time for another violent crime — second-degree assault — he was paroled in December, and has since popped up on the radar of federal investigators. Six months after his release from prison, Ford became the sixth man arrested in connection with the March 3 fatal shooting at the Sin City Disciples motorcycle clubhouse. He joins two Fort Carson sergeants, Christopher Mountjoy and John Burrell, and one soldier, Eric Bartholomew, who face charges of first-degree murder. Two other men, 24-year-old Deangelo Wells, and 30-year-old John Severe, were arrested last month on suspicion of accessory to first-degree murder. In December, Ford was paroled from prison after serving most of a six year sentence for second-degree assault – a charge reduced from attempted murder, court records show. In the early morning hours of March 3, a single bullet whizzed through the trunk of a car in front of the Sin City clubhouse, killing Virgil Means. In April, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives caught Ford allegedly stashing a pistol and cocaine powder in a car, according to arrest warrant. Ford’s alleged role in the shooting of Virgil Means has not been divulged. All arrest affidavits in the case have been sealed, and a broad gag order has been placed on law enforcement and attorneys. Details of that night have been slowly unveiled in the courtroom, implicating the soldiers in what might have been a planned, military-style attack on Means, according to court testimony. Ford’s history in Colorado Springs is less nebulous — his lengthy court record has made him a familiar face to local ATF agents, according to court documents. Police claim he is a known member of a local Crips gang, the 81st Street East Side Hustlers. In 2005 Ford was caught up in two violent crimes, one for first-degree murder charges, the other attempted murder, that wound their way through court at the same time. Just after midnight on June 15, witnesses told police that Ford and Joshua Delaney got into a fight in the Platinum 25 nightclub, at 1677 Jet Wing Drive. Delaney was later found riddled with bullets while sitting his car on London Lane near Jet Wing Drive, police a months-long police investigation into his death. Investigators believed that Ford followed Delaney from the bar, flashing his car’s lights to get Delaney to stop on London Lane. Ford walked up, asked Delaney for a cigarette, and allegedly shot him four times, according to an arrest warrant.. Nine days after the killing, Ford went to an apartment to collect a $40 crack cocaine debt from a woman. She him she didn’t have the cash. Ford punched her in the face, fracturing her jaw. He then pulled a handgun and fired several rounds in the direction of her son, who came at Ford with a baseball bat, court papers said. Ford was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder three days later, on June 27. In early August, Ford also was charged with first-degree murder in the Delaney case. The pending murder case was plagued by lack of evidence, and eventually by the loss of some of it. Undisclosed pieces of evidence in the case were disposed of in 2005, among the 134,911 items erroneously thrown out of the evidence locker by Colorado Springs police that year. Evidence against Ford in Delaney’s death seemed to hinge upon a statement from Rickey Lacour, who told police detectives that Ford admitted to shooting Delaney at point-blank range. “I shot that fool Strap,” Ford told Lacour about two weeks after the killing, according to court testimony. Delaney, also a gang member, went by “Strap” on the streets. The Delaney case fell apart when Lacour fled the state; during his absence of several months, the first-degree murder charges against Ford were dismissed. Ford was convicted of the lesser charge of second-degree assault charge in the cocaine-debt case and he went to prison. Earlier this year in a Wendy’s parking lot on a late April night — a month after the Sin City shooting — ATF agents zeroed in on Tyron Hicks, an alleged drug-trafficker they had been tailing. Hicks and two other men, later identified as Ford and Jatawron Pepper, were seen getting in and out of cars in the parking lot. The officers recognized Ford and Pepper — the men had been together the night Delaney was shot, and both are members of the same Crips gang, court documents said. Pepper faced murder charges in a 2006 slaying, but was acquitted in 2007. In Ford’s car, agents say they found cocaine , a loaded Ruger 9 mm pistol and magazines of ammunition under the driver’s seat. Ford was released after initial questioning, but was arrested and booked into the El Paso County jail Tuesday, according to jail records. He was held without bail on suspicion of seven felony charges.
The rap world and family show The X Factor don't easily go hand in hand, and Tulisa is clearly finding it a little tricky to walk the line.
The singer has found herself in trouble after she was pictured using a well-known street gang sign while shooting a music video on Sunday night,
Tulisa was photographed making the 'C' symbol, which is used by north London gang Crime Scene Boys, who also go by the Church Road Soldiers.
'It was a tribute to Camden': Tulisa has been left red-faced after being ridiculed for using a well-known gang sign while shooting a music video
Denial: The singer alleges that she had no idea the 'C' sign was associated with a street gang
The 23-year-old denies all knowledge of what the sign means, despite the music video shoot taking place on the Church End Estate in Harlesden, where the gang are based.
Tulisa is pictured wearing tiny denim shorts, heeled trainers, a white hoodie and a thick gold chain, dancing in front of a car surrounded by a crowd.
Collaboration: Tulisa's new track features the rapper Nines
Night shoot: The video was filmed on the Church End Estate in Harlesden, where the Crime Scene Boys are based
Tulisa claims that she used the symbol to pay tribute to Camden, where she grew up.
But onlookers at the late-night shoot have a different story, telling The Sun: 'She was strutting around throwing gang signs and hanging around outside the blocks of flats.
'She was swearing and trying to fit in with the other people who were around her from the estate.
In trouble with the bosses? The X Factor have yet to comment on the controversy
Tulisa is adamant that she was not trying to fit in, and is maintaining her new cleaner-cut X Factor image.
'When I was holding my hands in the C sign, this was as a tribute to Camden, my home town and where N-Dubz began,' she said in a statement.
'I am not aware that this sign has anything to with any street gang and I 100 per cent do not endorse any gang violence in any form.'
Wednesday, 4 July 2012
A gang who terrorised neighbours on an estate have been jailed for a total of 67 years. At the sentencing of 13 people linked to the crime group, Judge Michael Byrne read evidence describing how a Lancaster estate became riddled with graffiti of the gang’s tag ‘902 RWA - Ryelands with Attitude.’ Other youngsters chanted: “**** The Law” at officers and said they had been told to chant at police because “902 rules the estate.” Sentencing Anthony Diprose at Preston Crown Court, Judge Byrne said: “Life on the estate had become somewhat anti-authoritarian.” He added: “There are lessons to be learned from this case. “People who live in close proximity to each other should understand the forces of drug-related property and provision cannot be allowed to prevail, and that police and community assistance is available.” Gang ringleader Anthony Diprose, 28, lived a lavish lifestyle with properties on Wove Court, Fulwood, Preston, and in Lancaster. He enjoyed fancy cars and expensive holidays as he used friends and family in the drugs empire to mix and supply cocaine or launder the proceeds - blighting the lives of residents on the Ryelands estate in the process. In a text message the arrogant criminal, of Roeburn Drive, Morecambe, boasted: “I don’t trust no-one except my brothers. All the rest just do as I say and want to be me.” But today he was beginning a 16-year jail term after being found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine and money laundering in addition to admitting fraud by false representation. Brother Jason, 26, of Austwick Road, Lancaster, was jailed for 16 years after admitting conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis and fraud by false representation. Aidan Higgins, 21, of Dee Road, Lancaster, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and possessing heroin. He was jailed for four years. Liam Wiper, 24, of Euston Grove, Morecambe, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine. He was jailed for six years and nine months. Andrew Gunningham, 30, of Ryelands Road, Lancaster, found guilty to conspiracy to supply class B drugs and was pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine. He was jailed for seven years. Brian Coulton, 31, of Tarnsyke Road, Lancaster, was found guilty at trial of conspiracy to supply cocaine. He was jailed for five years. David Threlfall, 28, of Artle Place, Lancaster, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply class B drugs. He was jailed for 18 months. Kenneth Smith, 23, of Acre Court, Mainway, Lancaster, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and was found guilty at trial of possession with intent to supply cocaine. He was jailed for four years. Liam Parkinson, 25, of Norfolk Street, Lancaster, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine; possession with intent to supply heroin and possessing a taser. He was jailed for seven years. Katie Noon, 25, and Paul Noon, 30, both of Austwick Road, Lancaster were both found guilty of a money laundering at trial and were given a six months sentence which was suspended for two years and 50 hours of unpaid work. Rachel Lynch, 42, and Paul Lynch, 45, both of Tarnbrook Road, Lancaster were found guilty of a money laundering at trial and were given a two year community order, a two year supervision order and 40 hours of unpaid work. Supt Andrew Webster, of Lancaster Police, said: “While out on their daily patrols our neighbourhood officers would hear from residents about how they felt that their lives were being been blighted by the two Diprose brothers and their associates. Many felt threatened and intimidated by the actions and activities of these individuals
agreed to transport more than a quarter of a million euro between criminal gangs in Dublin and the Netherlands has been sentenced to three years in jail. Paul Grassick (39), Keenagh, Ballyjamesduff, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to knowingly possessing cash from the proceeds of crime at Lucan Road, Palmerstown, on June 6th, 2011. The court heard Grassick, who worked as a haulier, is one of the first people to be jailed under new legislation dealing with proceeds of crime. Det Garda William Armstrong told Paul Carroll, prosecuting, that a van driven by Grassick had been under surveillance by the Garda National Drugs Unit. He said he saw Grassick moving a bag from a van into his own before driving off towards Blanchardstown. Gardaí stopped the vehicle and two bags containing a total of €262,520 were found. Grassick also had €2,000 on his person. During the first Garda interview, Grassick denied any knowledge of what was in the bags or how they got into the van. He later changed his story and said he was transporting the cash between criminal gangs in Dublin and the Netherlands. He said he was given the cash along with a phone and a contact number and was going to transport the cash by ferry. He said he agreed to transfer the money because of mounting credit card bills and mortgage payments. Judge Patrick McCartan said this was one of the first cases falling under “long overdue legislation” which deals with the proceeds of crime. He said the case involved “a vast sum of money to be moved from one criminal gang here to another in Holland and it was done for gain”. However, he accepted it was “ill thought out” and treated the crime as a first offence. He suspended the final 18 months of the three-year term.
Monday, 2 July 2012
young man was killed and two others injured in a fight between two rival gangs armed with swords and knives. 18, who holds a passport from the Comoros Islands, died after a car ran over him during the clash in Oud Al Muteena in the early hours of Friday morning. The fight involved four young men from Oud Al Muteena aged from 18 to their twenties, two of them brothers, and three brothers from Al Warqa of about the same age. “The Al Warqa group had come to Oud Al Muteena in a retaliation attack after an earlier fight,” said Brig Khalil Al Mansouri, head of criminal investigations at Dubai Police. Gang violence is becoming more common and more vicious in the city’s low-income areas. In response to Friday’s fight, police have intensified their campaign against carrying knives and swords, and have increased patrols to catch young men with weapons. Police say they do not believe the driver of the car intended to kill the victim of Friday’s fight, but investigations continue. “During interrogation, the driver said he did not intend to kill him but wanted to get him out of his way,” Brig Al Mansouri said. They say that after the Al Warqa group had been beaten severely, they began to withdraw from the area. The victim tried to stop them by standing in front of their car. The car continued moving and hit him, dragging him for several metres. He was rushed to Rashid Hospital but died on the way. The driver escaped with the car, and his brothers also fled. Police later tracked down the car and arrested the driver. The five other people involved in the fight were also arrested in different areas of the city. The case has been referred to the Dubai Public Prosecution. Police say they do not know what caused the initial fight. Residents of Dubai’s low-income areas say gangs of unemployed young men use swords, axes and knives in their fights. The weapons are of particular concern in Satwa and Al Quoz. The gangs consist of young men from low-income and troubled families, and are divided along neighbourhood lines. Police say the problem is not widespread, but two other cases in recent months have heightened residents’ fears. In one incident, an Emirati man was attacked in Al Warqa by two masked men. In the other, Mohammed Ebrahim, a 21-year-old Emirati bank employee, was attacked by six people armed with axes and butcher’s knives as he met a friend outside his home in Al Quoz. Mr Ebrahim was treated in hospital for a head injury, a dislocated knee and several deep cuts.
Detectives investigating the murder of a man stabbed to death at a busy shopping centre just yards from the Olympic Park have charged nine people over the incident. Liam Woodards, 24, was knifed after a fight broke out between a large group of males at Westfield in Stratford, east London, last Friday. Scotland Yard said three men originally arrested in connection with the investigation, along with a further six men who were detained over the course of weekend, have been charged with violent disorder. Michael Alvaranga, 23, of Leytonstone and Javin Righbie, 22, of Stratford, are due to appear at Barkingside Magistrates' Court. Meanwhile, Jerome McLeish, 20, of Victoria Docks is to appear at Thames Magistrates' Court along with Jason Vaughan, 24, Tony Caton, 21, and Danny Caton, 23, who are all from Stratford. Plaistow residents Rhys Regisford, 20, Emmanuel Oloyede, 19, and Michael Ndefo, 21, will also appear at the court. A 23-year-old man arrested in connection with the investigation was cautioned for affray and released with no further action. A 20-year-old man also arrested has been bailed to return to an east London police station in July pending further inquiries. Mr Woodards, of Stratford, east London, was pronounced dead at the scene of the attack, which happened in a busy area of the shopping centre called The Street. A post- mortem examination later revealed he died from a stab wound.
Tuesday, 26 June 2012
There are nearly 60 street crews--subsets of gangs--in the Bronx, and they include members as young as eight years old.
SIMMONS, HOWARD/SIMMONS, HOWARD
Jose Webster, killed in September, in gang-related shooting.
Moises "Noah" Lora, 16. Killed on April 17 at Melrose Houses allegedly by gang members.
NYPD Assistant Commissioner Kevin O'Connor, who heads up the department's new Juvenile Justice Division, urged parents in the borough to seek clues about their children's crew involvement--and made a somewhat shocking suggestion: Don't tell your kids to stay out of them.
"Just because a kid is in a crew doesn't make him a perp," O'Connor told a Youth Summit held at Fordham University last week. "It's called survival."
If you tell a kid to stay out of gangs, he'll likely ask you how he's supposed to safely enter his building, O'Connor said.
"Until we come up with an answer, I'm not telling them to get out," he said.
O’Connor painted the grim picture to 100 people gathered at the summit. He said gangsters aren't just Bloods, Crips, Trinitarios and Latin Kings; each Bronx housing project has a street crew. They go by names like Dymes R Us, Billion Dolla Bosses, Mott Haven Gunnaz, and Violating All Bitches.
A week before the summit, 21 members of the "Murda Moore Gangstas," a subset of the Bloods run out of the Moore Houses in Mott Haven, were busted by the NYPD Bronx Gang Squad and federal agents.
"The Moore Houses takedown was a federal takedown and they're looking at serious time," O'Connor said. "I'd like to see a more preventative approach."
While the feds will put away mostly older gangbangers, it's often teens who are getting killed in gang violence nearly every day across the city, O'Connor said.
He mentioned recent cases of kids killed over gang beefs, including the April slaying of Moises Lora, 16 in the Melrose Houses.
"He was associated with the OGz, formerly GFC (God's Favorite Children)," O'Connor said. "They catch him and they stomped him to death, all because he ran with a rival crew."
Sixteen-year-old Jose Webster was killed last September while walking home his girlfriend.
"Someone said, 'You gunnin'?' and shot him 15 times, for no other reason than he said he was gunnin'," O'Connor said. "If the kid doesn't know the right answer, it can get them killed. Jose had no prior criminal record."
Hakiem Yahmadi, 60, whose son was killed in Mott Haven in 2011, helped publicize the summit.
"I think it's going to help, but there should have been more people here," Yahmadi said. “You've got (rallies for) stop and frisk, Trayvon Martin, and Ramarley Graham, but we don't talk about us killing each other."
O’Connor said about 315 crews have been identified citywide. Some are formed among members of rival gangs (Bloods and Crips) to keep the peace.
The young gangsters usually deal marijuana, and rob iPhones and iPads, pricey sneakers, "biggie" down jackets, and fancy headphones.
“The shootings are on facebook," O'Connor said. "The beefs are on facebook. They're on YouTube. We'd be fools not to take advantage of this information."
Elizabeth Thompson, 65, of Kingsbridge said her 17-year-old son Sean Williams was shot in 1997 after intervening in a fight. Now, Thompson says, her son's own son is 17.
"I'm scared whenever he walks out that door," Thompson said. "It might happen to him."
She said she plans to get her grandson to teach her how to use facebook, after what she heard at the summit
The brazen daytime shooting of Independent Soldiers founder Randy Naicker won’t be the last of the violent power struggle in Vancouver’s gang scene. Vancouver police said it’s too early to tell if Naicker’s shooting is related to last month’s Port Moody murder of Gurbinder Toor of the Dhak-Duhre gang, but said this new brand of gangster is purely opportunistic. Naicker was gunned down around 4:45 p.m. Monday in a laneway outside a Starbucks in Port Moody. Despite a number of witnesses, Const. Lindsey Houghton said Vancouver Police have no information on the shooter. “They’ll take the opportunity if it’s presented to them. We’ve seen that with the Toor shooting, we saw yesterday with the Naicker shooting — they don’t care who’s around,” Houghton said. Naicker, a convicted nidnapper who in 2009 admitted to the National Parole Board he founded the gang’s current brand and logo, was the intended target in a previous shooting outside his halfway house later that year. Gangster Raj Soomel was gunned down instead. Monday’s shooting leaves James Clayton Riach as the best known Independent Soldier left in a leadership role, said RCMP Sgt. Bill Whalen. Riach narrowly escaped last August’s Kelowna shooting in which Red Scorpion Jonathan Bacon was killed and Larry Amero of the Hells Angels was wounded. Whalen confirmed that key players in the Red Scorpions and the United Nations gangs are largely in prison, and the Dhak-Duhre group is down to a pair of senior leaders in Sukh Dhak and Balraj Duhre. What’s left is a dangerous vacuum in leadership being fought over across the province. Whalen declined to comment on the current investigation into Naicker’s slaying. Ranj Dhaliwal, the B.C.-based author of Indo-Canadian crime novels, said the bloodshed will only continue. “I think that there is going to be more violence,” Dhaliwal said. “It’s a whole different scene than we’ve had in the last couple decades because now they’re sending out a message that they will get you anytime, anywhere.” “There’s a show of force going on right now,” continued Dhaliwal, adding he believes the attacks at this point are between gangs posturing for turf. Dhaliwal warns as the external struggle for power settles, the internal fight for leadership will start. Doug Spencer, a former member of the Vancouver anti-gang squad, said the leadership is more fluid, and it’s hard to tell who’s on what side at this point. “It’s fly-by-night leaders,” Spencer said, adding the vacuum has left some turfs up for grabs. “While (gang leaders) are inside, other gangs are running around trying to take over what they started,” Spencer said. “The drug business at the SkyTrain in Surrey here — it’s up for grabs.”
"This can not be right. They can not just do this from one day to the next," said one judge High Court on Monday after learning the bodyguards That Were Being Assigned To him taken away. The Interior Ministry HAS BEGUN ITS plan to massively reduce the number of bodyguards Assigned to Judges, Prosecutors and other Officials, High Court sources said. The Reductions, Including the elimination of Government vehicles for Some Officials, are to start in September Taking effect from today. Among Those Who will be left without protection are three anti-corruption Prosecutors who are Investigating the Russian Mafia Currently the Gürtel and Contracts-for-kickbacks case. It was the High Court's chief criminal judge, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, who Informed His colleagues of the Government's decision. The Reasons? The Government no longer feels pressured by ETA, Which Announced an end to attacks last fall, and the move is part of overall cost-cutting Measures ordered by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. INITIALLY, Grande Marlaska, High Court Chief Judge Angel Juanes, chief prosecutor Javier Zaragoza and Judge Jose Luis de Castro, who covers penitentiary issues, will keep Their bodyguards and official vehicles. The rest of the Judges and Prosecutors will now Have to go to work unprotected and by Their Own means. Interior's decision will Radically change the Manner in Which protection is afforded to Courtrooms Interior's decision, if it is finally Implemented across the High Court, will Radically change the Manner in Which protection is afforded to Courtrooms. Until now, judge and prosecutor Each four police officers HAD Assigned to Them, as well as a vehicle. Some Judges Say That They Will the only protection is now Have Regular surveillance of Their homes. The High Court Judges and Its Prosecutors intendant to file a note of protest With The Interior Ministry, the sources said. Their colds are among a complaint That Neither Justice nor the Interior Ministry Officials to Assess Whether made evaluations at Risk Before They Were Deciding to Eliminate bodyguards. The decision to Affect también said the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) legal watchdog and the Supreme Court. In a statement released on Monday, Prosecutors Say That state has not yet ETA disbanded and the Danger Posed by That terrorists still exists. According To Interior Ministry estimates, police officers who 1.010 Some Were serving as bodyguards will be reassigned to other Duties.
Sunday, 24 June 2012
federal judge Wednesday sentenced Michael McCloud, of Paterson, to 89 months in prison for his role with the Fruit Town Brims, a set of the Bloods that authorities said terrorized a section of Paterson for years through violent activities connected to dealing drugs. McCloud, 26, also known as “Ike Brim,” was the second Bloods member to be sentenced this week by U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler for their part in a broad racketeering conspiracy to sell narcotics in Paterson and Newark. Chesler Tuesday sentenced Ricky Coleman, also known as “Pool Stick” and “Sticks,” 39, of Newark, to 151 months for a range of violent crimes and racketeering. McCloud was among 15 alleged members and associates of the Fruit Town and Brick City Brims charged in a 20-count federal indictment with racketeering, murder and other crimes. He was arrested by federal agents in Passaic in January 2011 and pleaded guilty to the RICO conspiracy charge in August. In his guilty plea, McCloud admitted to selling crack cocaine to an undercover officer on August 30, 2006, together with two other members of the gang. McCloud also admitted to participating in two robberies in Paterson in 2006. In the first robbery, McCloud and another gang member who was armed with an AK-47 broke up a dice game and took drugs, cell phones and money. In the second, McCloud worked with other gang members to commit a robbery in retaliation for the shooting of an associate by a member of a rival gang. In the sentencing hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa L. Jampol said the Fruit Town Brims had asserted a powerful control of a section of Paterson, centered at the intersection of 12th and 22nd streets. The gang members transformed this section into an area “that was completely uninhabitable,” to the point that residents were too afraid to leave their homes and attend church services, Jampol said. McCloud’s attorney, James Patton, said his client had worked hard to turn his life around, and was working full-time at Domino’s Pizza when he was arrested last January in the RICO sweep. McCloud told Chesler that he couldn’t change the past, but was trying to become a better person for the future. “I’m tired of going in and out of jail,” McCloud said. “I’m tired of letting my family down. And I’m tired of being a failure.” But Chesler was unmoved by this testimony. McCloud’s criminal history is a long one that begins at age 15, and there is nothing to indicate that his repeated contact with law enforcement had done anything to deter the young man from a life of drugs and violence, Chesler said. The sentence – the maximum under federal guidelines, with 36 months subtracted due to time already spent in a state prison – was meant to serve as a deterrent to other gang members engaged in the same activities, Chesler said. “His offenses are horrendous,” the judge said. “He was part of a gang that terrorized citizens of this state.”
When Antuan Joiner fired several times toward Shakaki Asphy in the 2000 block of West 70th Place Saturday night, he also shot a wheelchair-bound 18-year-old in the leg, assistant Cook County State’s attorney Jamie Santini said. Shakaki and a 17-year-old boy were sitting on the porch of an abandoned home when Joiner, 16, emerged from a gangway armed with a black semi-automatic handgun, Santini said. Shakaki was shot at least two times in her abdomen, according to a police report. Her 17-year-old friend was able to shield himself behind a concrete wall before he ran across the street as Joiner kept shooting at him, Santini said. The victim in the wheelchair was at the bottom of the porch’s steps when he was wounded.
19-year-old Oakland man has been convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for fatally shooting two teenagers in West Oakland nearly two years ago. Prosecutor Charles Wilson told jurors in his closing argument on Monday that Nicholas Harris killed 18-year-old Nario Jackson and 17-year-old Edward Hampton in front of the Acorn public housing project in the 1000 block of Eighth Street at about 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 6, 2010, because he wanted to prove himself to his gang. Jurors deliberated for less than a full day before announcing their verdict in the packed courtroom of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson, which was guarded by six sheriff's deputies and four district attorney investigators who Jacobson asked to sit in the front row to provide extra security. Family members of Harris, Jackson and Hampton brawled outside the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse during the lunch break in the trial on Monday so deputies escorted the families from the courtroom separately today to try to avoid more fights. As the families left the courtroom Tuesday, Jacobson told them, "Go in peace. Let this trouble end here." Harris, who faces a state prison term of 100 years to life when he's sentenced by Jacobson on Sept. 21, looked straight ahead and showed no emotion when the verdict was announced. But his family members as well as the family members of Jackson and Hampton started sobbing and breathing heavily. Wilson said Harris belonged to the Gas Town Gang and wanted to prove himself to his gang colleagues because they thought he had let them down by allowing another member to be killed in a previous incident. He said Harris killed Jackson and Hampton because he thought it would put him back in the good graces of his gang. Wilson said Jackson was affiliated with the Gas Town Gang but Harris targeted him because Jackson also was affiliated with other groups, including the rival Ghost Town Gang. Jackson was "a turf hopper" and that wasn't acceptable to other gang members, Wilson said. The prosecutor alleged that Harris targeted Hampton because Hampton belonged to the DNI Squeeze Team gang in East Oakland. Wilson said Harris fired multiple shots at Jackson and Hampton as they sat in a blue Jaguar in front of the Acorn housing project, which he said is in the Gas Town Gang's territory. Jackson had borrowed the Jaguar from someone else, he said. Harris admitted committing the killings in text messages and phone conversations with his ex-girlfriend that were presented to the jury and two eyewitnesses testified that they saw him shoot Jackson and Hampton. Jurors also heard recordings of phone calls in which Harris' mother, Ranine Howell, said she would identify and intimidate witnesses in the case. In the phone conversations, Howell asked Harris about what evidence police had against him and whether he wore gloves during the shooting so that his fingerprints wouldn't be found on the murder weapon. Wilson said one of the witnesses who was threatened was Harris' ex-girlfriend, who he said was shot at after her testimony in Harris' preliminary hearing last year and is now in protective custody. Harris' lawyer, Darryl Stallworth, said in his closing argument that the witnesses who identified Harris as the shooter weren't credible. Stallworth said Harris' ex-girlfriend testified against him because she was angry at Harris for cheating on her and another witness was a fellow gang member who implicated Harris because he was a suspect in the double homicide as well as other crimes. The testimony by the fellow gang member can't be trusted because "he would have done or said anything so he wouldn't be arrested," Stallworth said. He told jurors, "There are so many instances of reasonable doubt in this case that you will be overwhelmed and come back with a verdict of not guilty." Jackson's death was the first of two homicides that his family suffered in the span of eight months. Last July 30, Jackson's younger brother, 16-year-old Najon Jackson, was fatally shot in the 9300 block of Sunnyside Street in Oakland shortly before midnight. Oakland police said no one has been arrested in that case so far.
Two Fullerton gang members were on a revenge trip in March 1996 when they came across a rival – a 16-year-old boy – waiting outside his girlfriend's house, a prosecutor told a jury on Tuesday. The pair left their car and clobbered Troy Gorena with fists and stabbed him to death with a knife before fleeing the scene, Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin said in the opening statements of a murder trial for one of the two men. Yellin said defendant Joe Luis Garay, Jr., now 36, wielded the knife in the unprovoked attack, while co-defendant Kevin Jerome Carlson, 38, did the punching. Carlson pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in 2010 and now faces a maximum four-year prison sentence. He is expected to testify against Garay. Members of Gorena's gang had beaten Carlson a few weeks before the killing, a defense attorney said Tuesday. The slaying went cold early on due to insufficient evidence. It remained unsolved for more than a dozen years until the Fullerton Police Department and Orange County District Attorney's office reopened the investigation in 2008 with several re-interviewed witnesses, Yellin told the jury. The prosecutor contended the passage of time motivated some of the witnesses who refused to cooperate in 1996 to come forward now. But defense attorney Jerry Schaffer, in his opening statement, insisted that none of those witnesses actually saw the incident take place, and that Garay was on the street at the instant Gorena was stabbed by someone several feet away. The trial before Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals is expected to last about a week. If convicted, Garay could be sentenced to 25 years to a life term in prison.