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Friday, 28 November 2008

Jorge Rojas and Juan Gonzalez, two gunmen from the Tijuana drug cartel, have been convicted in a San Diego court


Jorge Rojas and Juan Gonzalez, two gunmen from the Tijuana drug cartel, have been convicted in a San Diego court in connection with last year's kidnapping of businessman Eduardo Gonzalez:The pair led a group known as Los Palillos (the Toothpicks) that focused its attacks on alleged associates of the Arellano-Felix drug-smuggling organization, which has controlled the flow of narcotics from Tijuana into Southern California for more than 15 years. * * * Law enforcement officials say Rojas organized the gang of disgruntled ex-gunmen believed responsible for as many as 20 kidnappings and a dozen murders in San Diego County beginning in about 2004.
Rojas and Gonzalez face life in prison, and four other defendants allegedly involved with the kidnapping of Gonzalez are scheduled for trial in January.

Two teenage boys face attempted murder charges following a shooting in which two La Salle teenagers were shot and wounded Wednesday night in La Salle.

Two teenage boys face attempted murder charges following a shooting in which two La Salle teenagers were shot and wounded Wednesday night in La Salle.At 8:48 p.m. Wednesday, La Salle police received several 911 calls reporting shots fired in the 400 block of Central Street.At the scene officers found two male victims who were shot outside of 430 Central St. One victim, age 17, was shot in the abdomen, and the other victim, age 19, was shot in the chest.The victims were taken to Illinois Valley Community Hospital in Peru and later airlifted to OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria. La Salle police report the victims were in stable condition. Police did not release the victims' names in a press release and The Times was told no one was available at the police department for further comment by press time this morning.Witnesses at the scene provided descriptions of suspects and a vehicle, which fled the scene. Officers were later notified several of the suspects were at a Tonica residence on East Fourth Road. With the assistance of State Police, at 9:44 p.m., four suspects were taken into custody. A fifth suspect was taken into custody at the La Salle Police Department at 11:57 p.m.During the course of the investigation, two .22-caliber rifles were recovered.Attempted murder charges were referred to the La Salle County State's Attorney's Office on two La Salle boys, ages 13 and 14. Both boys were taken to the La Salle County Detention Home.The state's attorney's office authorized a felony obstructing justice charge on Dawn C. Pratt, 31, 1246 Crosat St., La Salle. Further charges may be pending, and Pratt was taken to the La Salle County Jail.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

John Gizzi's parents were yesterday ordered to hand over a four-house development and a large sum of money to receivers.

John Gizzi's parents were yesterday ordered to hand over a four-house development and a large sum of money to receivers.At a hearing at Mold yesterday, Judge John Rogers QC ruled Gizzi had made two “tainted gifts” to his parents in a bid to reduce the amount of money he would have to hand over from his criminal lifestyle.
The building firm J and T Gizzi Builders Ltd, run by his parents John and Ruth Gizzi, must immediately hand over a building site at Gors Road in Towyn near Rhyl. On it are four new houses, valued at £333,000.The company was also ordered to pay the receiver £154,260, the defendant’s half share in a building on the West Parade at Rhyl where he planned to run a nightclub, but which was later sold on.
Gizzi, who is due to be released from prison on December 19, owned half that building, formerly known as The Corner Cafe, but his share from the sale was given to his parents, the judge ruled.
Prosecutor Andrew Thomas QC said it was not suggested for one moment that the parents were involved in their son’s criminality and it was accepted they had run their businesses in a legitimate and successful way for many years.But between 2001 and 2005 they had become involved in financial dealings with their son at a time, it was now known, that he was involved in crime.Simon Killeen, for the parents, argued the defendant simply held legal title of the property in West Parade, holding his share in trust for his father.But the judge said he was satisfied the defendant had paid his share in cash from his various enterprises at the time and it was a “tainted gift”.The Gors Road development was transferred to Gizzi’s parents’ company for £45,000 following his arrest in 2005. It represented a much under-valued, tainted gift, the prosecution alleged.Mr Killeen argued it was his clients’ building company which had done all the construction work to the tune of £270,000 to the date of transfer from the son’s name, and a further £200,000 was spent to get the properties ready afterwards.
But the judge said that he was satisfied that it had been the defendant’s project which he had financed himself until his arrest and it had then been transferred to his parents’ firm as another “tainted gift.”THE receiver appointed to handle Gizzi’s financial affairs is selling his remaining un-sold property, including his former luxury home at Bronwylfa Hall, St Asaph, three of his four cherished number plates, his Rolex watch and other items.His barrister Duncan Bould told the court yesterday the hall was due to be sold this week.In March last year, Judge Rogers formally found Gizzi had a criminal lifestyle and that the benefit from his criminal conduct was £6.89m.
The judge ruled that if he did not pay then he would have to serve an additional eight years.
The court heard Gizzi had agreed at an early stage that he would have to surrender all his assets, and included in the original figures were £1.75m for his home at Bronwylfa Hall at St Asaph, the proceeds from his other mortgaged properties, his £16,500 Rolex watch, and £45,000 for his four cherished number plates JDG one to four.His Bentley Continental was valued at £116,000, his Range Rover at £50,000 and his Mercedes at £5,000.Now Gizzi will return to Mold Crown Court before his release date so Mr Bould can argue that the original order against him made under The Proceeds of Crime should be substantially reduced in view of the down turn in the economy.

Michael Vargas was a captain in the Mexican Mafia gang. His plea resolves allegations involving murder, drug trafficking, extortion, robbery

alleged member of the state's largest prison gang pleaded guilty in San Antonio to conspiracy in a sprawling case that accused the gang of up to 20 unsolved killings.Federal prosecutors say more pleas are expected.They say Michael Vargas was a captain in the Mexican Mafia gang. His plea resolves allegations involving murder, drug trafficking, extortion, robbery, racketeering and related crimes. He'll be sentenced to 20 years in prison under the plea agreement.A second defendant, Ray Carrasco, has already signed a plea deal. Prosecutors say some of the remaining 20 defendants in the case are expected to follow suit.Authorities accuse members of the Mexican Mafia of peddling heroin and cocaine and taxing other drug dealers in some San Antonio neighborhoods. Up to 20 unsolved murders are attributed by federal prosecutors to the prison gang.

Gambino crime family boss John Gotti is known to have asked Aryan Brotherhood members to murder his attacker

Aryan Brotherhood (AB) originated in San Quentin prison in 1967. Originally, this gang was established to provide protection for white individuals from black and Hispanic groups, most specifically the Mexican Mafia. Some of the original members of the AB migrated from a 1950s gang known as the "Bluebirds." Other names used in the past were the "Diamond Tooth Gang" and the "Nazi Gang." Today, they number about 15,000 members in and out of prison. In March 2006, four AB leaders were indicted for numerous crimes, including murder, conspiracy, drug trafficking, and racketeering. According to the FBI, although the gang makes up less than one percent of the prison population, it is responsible for up to 26% of murders in the federal prison system. Although members of the AB ordinarily wear numerous tattoos, the true AB tattoo is a shamrock, the letters AB, and three sixes. Three sixes displayed alone are not AB-specific because they are used by several other gangs. Only members of the AB are permitted to wear the "brand" of the gang; individuals found to be wearing the tattoo without consent of the AB are subject to murder. The AB has discouraged newer members from displaying AB specific tattoos to avoid identification from law enforcement officials. As a result, some AB members have removed or disguised their tattoos. Although the Brotherhood is a white supremacist organization, for most AB members crime is their number one priority, with racial hatred being a secondary goal. The true white supremacist’s number one goal is generally racial hatred, which they may or may not achieve through criminal behavior. Since 1972, the Aryan Brotherhood has had an alliance with the Mexican Mafia. It has also used the Odinist religion to conduct gang meetings and disguise illicit business practices. Older AB members learned the American Sign Language to communicate covertly. The AB has spread throughout the nation and in the federal prison system.
Its leadership was recently hit with a federal R.I.C.O. indictment. Although the leadership has been disrupted, law enforcement officials expect the gang to maintain a low profile and continue to contract out their criminal activity to such groups as the Nazi Low riders and Peni (Public Enemy Number One). The AB is separated into two main groups, one in the federal prison system, the other consisting of numerous factions of the Brotherhood in various state prison systems, notably California, which is loosely affiliated to a greater or lesser degree. Each faction is controlled by a three-man commission, which controls and supervises gang activities. These gangs in the state system, splinter groups or copycats, are usually tolerated by members of the federal prison or California factions, but intra-gang violence is not uncommon. Organization at lower levels varies from prison to prison. For example, in the Arizona prison system, members are known as "kindred" and organize into "families". A "council" controls the families. Kindred may recruit other members, known as "progeny", and serve as a mentor for the new recruit.
Membership generally (though not exclusively) consists of white male prisoners and operates on a "blood in, blood out" system. That is, a candidate for membership must assault and kill another prisoner to enter the gang. Membership is for life, and those attempting to leave may likewise be assaulted or killed by other members. Both federal and state members swear the same oath:
An Aryan brother is without a care/He walks where the weak and heartless won't dare/For an Aryan brother, death holds no fear/Vengeance will be his, through his brothers still here.”
The AB has since focused on the economic activities typical of organized crime entities, particularly drug trafficking, extortion, prostitution, and murder-for-hire. According to a recent federal indictment, the Brotherhood has partnered with Asian gangs to import heroin from Thailand.While incarcerated in Marion Federal Penitentiary in 1996, after being assaulted, Gambino crime family boss John Gotti is known to have asked Aryan Brotherhood members to murder his attacker, although the hit was unsuccessful. The overwhelming majority of Aryan Brotherhood members were originally sent to prison for crimes not motivated by racial bigotry, such as robbery, drug dealing, and assault, and join the Aryan Brotherhood out of a need for protection or camaraderie. However, members are expected to continue AB activities after being released, and are known to commit hate crimes after joining the gang.
Until the 1960s, most prisons in the United States were racially segregated. As prisons began to desegregate, inmates organized along racial lines. Prosecutors of cases against the gang say it was formed in reaction to getting raped by other races in prison. The AB may have been derived from or inspired by a previous entity, the Bluebird Gang. In the early 1970s, the Aryan Brotherhood began working closely with the Mexican Mafia and began focusing on drug trafficking and other economic activities.In 1973, the California branch of the Aryan Brotherhood rejected Charles Manson when he asked them for protection against black inmates, because he had murdered a pregnant woman. The AB considered this dishonorable and turned him down initially. However, it eventually realized that Manson's followers could be exploited, so it began protecting Manson while his followers smuggled drugs and weapons into prisons. By 1980, the gang had split into two distinct factions, one within the federal prison system and one outside of state prison systems. In 1982, an anonymous source gave information to the FBI implicating the AB in two high profile murders in the California state prison system. Released or paroled members have smuggled money or drugs into prison, including marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines. The creed by which the Brotherhood members operate under is:
"I will stand by my brother My brother will come before all others My life is forfeited should I fail my brother I will honor my brother in peace and war"
They also live by the motto, "In for life and out by death."

Gang war may be escalating in and around Seattle.

Gang war may be escalating in and around Seattle. With as many as 200 gangs now operating in Seattle and King County, and shootings happening with alarming frequency, it's hard for police to keep track of all the rivalries. Seattle Police are aware there's a fierce ongoing feud between South End gangs and Central District gangs in Seattle. "It's been a war, not a new war, an ongoing war," he said. "Police are very aware of who the players are." Police suspect the shooting at Southcenter may have happened because members or associates of Central District gangs ran into their bitter rivals, the South End 74 Hoovers. one gang member threw out an insult about a rival gang member who'd been shot previously. "People don't even have to say anything. If they don't like each other, if they've been beefing, fighting before, at war... just a look can set it off," he said. Morales says the Southcenter victims reportedly had ties to the 74 Hoovers, and so did the two people shot the next day at Rainier & Cloverdale in Seattle, which is likely to provoke retaliation.
"There may be a payback soon, may be two or three months from now, maybe a year from now," said Morales. Seattle doubled its gang unit earlier this year in response to increased violence. By summer, six Seattle teens and one young man had died in gang-related shootings, with only one arrest. Then on Halloween, a 15-year-old was gunned down behind Garfield High School and now, this weekend, two more deaths occurred, with possible Seattle gang ties. "Gangs aren't organized the way they once were. It's no longer Bloods versus Crips, red against blue. There are deadly internal feuds and gangs who claim orange, green. But they share a code: They settle their fights with guns and they don't snitch to police

William D'Elia, 62, became the latest alleged American Mafia leader to turn government informant

William D'Elia, 62, became the latest alleged American Mafia leader to turn government informant as he was sentenced Monday to nine years in prison for witness tampering and conspiracy to launder drug money. With time already served, he could be freed in seven years — or less.Federal prosecutors agreed to recommend a reduction in D'Elia's sentence if he continues to provide substantial assistance to the Dauphin County district attorney's office, which has charged Mount Airy Resort Casino owner Louis DeNaples with perjury.DeNaples allegedly lied to state gambling regulators about his friendship with D'Elia, whom authorities once called a "major player" in organized crime. DeNaples says he is innocent and accuses D'Elia of lying to authorities in a bid to shave time off his prison sentence.
In court Monday, the silver-haired, 6-foot-3 D'Elia stood before U.S. District Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie and apologized for his crimes."At this time, I would like to accept responsibility for my actions and apologize to your honor," said D'Elia, who had requested a sentence of seven years. "I hope that I will soon be able to resume my life with my family in a positive, honorable and productive way and care for them once more."Though he spent more than 20 years under law enforcement surveillance, D'Elia was never charged with a crime until May 2006, when prosecutors accused him of laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug proceeds through the creation of bogus companies, loans and consulting agreements.Five months later, prosecutors charged him with trying to arrange the murder of a co-conspirator, Frank Pavlico III, after D'Elia found out that Pavlico was cooperating with the government.Pavlico had worn a wire and recorded conversations with D'Elia. He pleaded guilty to money laundering and was sentenced in January to 10 months in federal prison.D'Elia, of Hughestown, was originally charged with 18 counts, including solicitation of murder. Prosecutors dropped most of the charges when D'Elia pleaded guilty last March.

Ciudad Juarez seven bodies were dumped before dawn Tuesday at a school soccer field in a leafy, upscale neighborhood in this Mexican border city.

Neighbors found the bodies — beaten, choked, in some cases mutilated and then shot — lined up along the field's fence. Alongside were three banners allegedly signed by a Mexican drug gang with messages directed at a rival gang, police spokesman Jaime Torres said.Hours after the bodies were removed, blood stained the curb, yellow police tape hung from the fence and classes continued at Colegio Sierra Madre, a private kindergarten-through-high school in a neighborhood of stucco homes, manicured lawns and palm trees.Only police in ski masks periodically drove past the campus, which posted an armed guard at the metal gate.Alejandro Pariente, a local prosecutor's spokesman, said the victims have not been identified, and they have no suspects.The homicides were the latest of hundreds of gruesome killings in Ciudad Juarez, where drug violence has taken a particularly heavy toll during Mexico's nationwide crackdown on the drug cartels that supply U.S. consumers.Also Tuesday in the border city of Tijuana, gunmen opened fire on a car in the parking lot of a Sam's Club, killing a woman and gravely injuring a man at midday, just as a nearby school prepared to let children out for the day, the state prosecutor's office said.These murders were among more than 4,000 drug-related killings this year in Mexico. Challenged by arrests, deaths, extraditions and new rivals, the cartels are brazenly attacking each other as well as police and the 20,000 soldiers President Felipe Calderon deployed against the drug gangs.Separately Tuesday, a Mexican businessman whose son was recently killed by kidnappers announced the creation of a group to encourage citizens to report crimes, fund security initiatives and compile criminal statistics.Alejandro Marti said his System of Observation for the Safety of Citizens aims to track how many reported crimes go unsolved."Crime has become one of the easiest businesses, with little possibility of getting caught," he said.The death of Marti's 14-year-old son Fernando inspired anti-crime protests across Mexico, particularly because prosecutors alleged that a police detective had been involved. The boy was found dead in a car trunk even though his family paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in ransom.Authorities acknowledge that the vast majority of kidnappings and other crimes go unreported in Mexico because people mistrust police. The government is also reluctant to release homicide figures regularly, making it difficult to grasp the true breadth of kidnappings, homicides and robberies in Mexico.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Ihab Shoukri collapsed while watching the Ricky Hatton boxing match at a house in the Grainon Way area of Newtownabbey on Saturday night


post mortem examination is due to be carried out today on the body of loyalist boss Ihab Shoukri. Police are understood to be investigating a drugs link after the ousted UDA brigadier collapsed while watching the Ricky Hatton boxing match at a house in the Grainon Way area of Newtownabbey on Saturday night. Last night a spokeswoman for the PSNI confirmed they were investigating the sudden death of a 34-year-old man but stressed there were no suspicious circumstances. Rumours circulating in the Rathcoole estate, where Shoukri had been living since his release from jail, suggest he may have suffered some sort of seizure – possibly an epileptic fit. In 2004, Ihab Shoukri collapsed in a bookmaker’s shop while out on bail for charges of membership of the UFF and UDA. He suffered a fractured cheek and required treatment at hospital. In an appeal for a change to his bail conditions that would allow him to live with his girlfriend’s mother, Shoukri’s lawyer told Belfast High court there were fears he could suffer from “epilepsy of something of that nature”. The appeal was refused but the judge said Shoukri could make arrangements for someone to move into his Bangor home. Originally from the Westland estate in north Belfast, Ihab Shoukri was one of three boys born to an Egyptian father who married a local woman. In June he was jailed for 15 months after pleading guilty to membership of the UDA. He was among five men arrested when police stormed a paramilitary show of strength dress rehearsal at the Alexandra Bar in March 2006. However there was public outrage when the infamous loyalist who played a prominent role in a vicious terrorist campaign and racketeering operation was released just weeks into the sentence because of the length of time spent on remand. Nationalist politicians were critical of the sentencing after the judge in the case said Shoukri only escaped a longer jail term because of progress in the peace process. Ihab and his brother Andre were expelled from the UDA two years ago after establishing a breakaway faction which was involved in widespread criminality including drug dealing in south east Antrim. Andre Shoukri (30) first became known after being charged with the manslaughter of a young tennis star in Belfast in 1996. He punched Gareth Parker – a Catholic – who fell on the road and was hit by a car. Shoukri pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of assault and received an eight-month jail sentence.
He became known as the ‘bookies brigadier’ after he squandered more than £1m of the UDA’s funds gambling on horses. Last November Ihab Shoukri took over leadership of the group when his brother was jailed for nine years for blackmail and intimidation and money laundering. In August he was back in court in Belfast after pleading guilty to a string of motoring offenses including driving while disqualified and having no insurance. A police source once said of the gang led by the Shoukris: “They thought they were above the law... You could say they thought they were untouchable.” Journalist Jim McDowell, whose book ‘Mummy’s Boys’ documents the life and crimes of both brothers, described the Shoukris as “para-mafia gangsters”.
“The relationship between myself and the Shoukris is well documented. It was fairly antagonistic relationship and I have received a number of threats which the police have brought to my home that I believe them to have come from the Shoukris or their mob. But I am not gloating over anybody death. “Both Andre and Ihab were already ostracised from the UDA. Andre is behind bars and is therefore ineffective even in aligning himself with the breakaway east Antrim faction that they established.
“Drugs were endemic and if it was a drugs overdose that took the life of Ihab Shourki then he died from his own excess.” Baroness May Blood, who has spent decades working in loyalist communities, said: “There possibly could be a turf war out of it (Ihab’s death). I hope it does not lead to violence in our streets.”

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Kennewick gang fight

15-year-old was injured Friday evening in what appeared to be a gang fight between the boy and several other males, the Kennewick Police Department said. The teen was not severely injured and didn’t require medical attention, police said. However, he did have a foot-long “slice” from the crown of his head down his back, police said.
Police are not naming the 15-year-old because he is a juvenile. No suspects have been identified in the attack that took place at 10th Avenue and Hartford Street in Kennewick, authorities said.

Banning gun battle that left one person injured

Banning police are investigating a gun battle that left one person injured and several others detained Friday evening.Police responded at 9:26 p.m .Friday to reports of a fight involving several people at 456 E. Nicolete Street peppertree apartment complex, said police Staff Sgt. Steve Hobb. As they were responding to that call, they received several others about shots fired at the same address. When officers arrived, they found one victim suffering from a gunshot wound. He was taken to a hospital where he was treated and released. The fight involved several people and started over a female, Hobbs said.Police so far have interviewed at least 20 people regarding the incident. No arrests have yet been made.

Mexican Mafia practiced their rituals. "Brujeria" (witchcraft) altars with figurines of the bandit saint "Jesus Malverde" or "Santisima Muerte"

The Mexican Mafia actually forbade its members from "picking up the Bible" or espousing any form of Christianity. Some members of the Aryan Brotherhood were followers of pagan witchcraft, or worshipers of the devil. In taking on these new belief systems many gang members eschewed the moral codes they had previously ascribed to as part of their religious/superstitious upbringing.
In the 1980s, Cuban "Marielitos" brought Afro-Cuban cult beliefs into the Los Angeles drug and gang culture. Santeria, Voodoo, and Palo Mayombe followers became some of the most violent criminal gang members Los Angeles had ever seen. Across the city, small altars with caldrons or "gangas" of fruit, rum, and cocaine, as well as animal blood sacrifices, dotted the map. "Botanicas" (occult pharmacies) that sold the paraphernalia required for these rituals sprang up in every community.
Drug cartels from Mexico practiced their own rituals. "Brujeria" (witchcraft) altars with figurines of the bandit saint "Jesus Malverde" or "Santisima Muerte" (holy death) were common in cartel drug houses. Cartel members wore amulets and placed figurines of occult symbols in their cars. Some openly worshipped Satan.
During the heavy metal music era of the early- to mid-1980s, a new type of gang began to get the attention of gang cops in Los Angeles. Unlike the common "Cholo" gangs, these new gangs were made up of "Stoners," kids who wore black concert T-shirts, leather jackets adorned with spikes and studs, and long hair. They rejected the classic "oldies but goodies" in favor of AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osborne, and Motley Crew.They also rejected the Cholo gang morals and code of conduct. The Hole Stoners, ELA Stoners, MS Stoners (later to evolve into MS-13), and others played by their own rules. Soon these new Stoner gangs outnumbered traditional gang members in East Los Angeles booking cages. In turn, they were ostracized by most Cholo gang members.

New London man was stabbed early this morning in Ledyard, just minutes before a New York man was shot at the same party

New London man was stabbed early this morning in Ledyard, just minutes before a New York man was shot at the same party, police said.Police said an unidentified 17-year-old New London resident with a non-threatening stab wound to his torso drove himself to Lawrence and Memorial Hospital shortly after midnight. Minutes later, police received reports of a gunshot fired at 5 Wolf Gap Road in Ledyard—the same party police later determined the stabbing occurred. On arrival, police found an unidentified 21-year-old New York man suffering from a gunshot wound to his lower body. He was transported to The William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich where he is in stable condition.Ledyard, Groton and state police from Troop E arrested three people attempting to flee the party. James Robertson, 29, of 27 Hawthorne Drive in New London, was charged with possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle and carrying a pistol without a permit after police said he was found with a loaded gun. He was held on a $10,000 cash bond.Shawn D. Rucker, 20, of 12 Harvard Terrace in Gales Ferry and Gilene Sablon, 20, of 204 Connecticut Ave. in New London, were both charged with two counts of possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle after police said three knives and a BB gun were found in their vehicle. They were each held on a $5,000 cash bond.Both incidents are under investigation by the State Police Eastern District Major Crime Squad, Ledyard Police and the Ledyard Resident State Trooper.

Police said they are keeping an open mind about the motives behind the murder of a man gunned down in an alleyway.

Police said they are keeping an open mind about the motives behind the murder of a man gunned down in an alleyway.The 24-year-old victim died at the scene of the shooting in west Ealing, west London.The Metropolitan Police have launched a murder investigation but no arrests have yet been made.A member of the public alerted the emergency services, who found the body in an alley off Cavendish Avenue, west Ealing.
A spokeswoman for the London Ambulance Service said: "We were called at 8.48pm to reports of an assault in Cavendish Avenue. We sent along a fast response car, an ambulance crew and duty manager. An adult male was dead at the scene."The path was used as a shortcut to a nearby housing estate.Police said they were keeping an open mind regarding a possible motive for the killing.They said they believe they know who the dead man is but will not release his name until he is formally identified and his next of kin have been informed.Detective Chief Inspector Fiona Mallon from Operation Trident, which investigates black-on-black killings, said: "I urge anyone who witnessed the shooting or anyone who was in the area shortly before or after the shooting to please come forward to police with information.

last of three high-tech executives gunned down in their Silicon Valley office was laid to rest Friday

last of three high-tech executives gunned down in their Silicon Valley office was laid to rest Friday as friends, families and co-workers struggled to make sense of what they called an incomprehensible crime.Funeral services were held in Los Altos for Brian Pugh, 47, vice president of operations at SiPort in Santa Clara before he and two co-workers were slain Nov. 14 by an engineer who had been fired from the firm earlier in the day, police said.The company's chief executive, Sid Agrawal, and human resources director Marilyn Lewis also were killed. Suspect Jing Hua Wu, 47, of Mountain View, who was arrested last Saturday, could face the death penalty if convicted. On Friday, hundreds of mourners packed the Los Altos United Methodist Church to honor Pugh, a soft-spoken father of two who loved music, the outdoors and playing with his kids."Obviously, the last few days have been very difficult. This isn't something you can ever expect to happen," said Pugh's widow, Carol Coe Pugh of Los Altos. "But we've received enormous support from the community and the SiPort family."SiPort, a 4-year-old startup that makes wireless chips, is a close-knit firm of 38 Silicon Valley veterans who've been devastated by the killings, said vice president of marketing Sunder Velamuri."I cannot describe to you the shock," he said Friday, just as Pugh's service was getting under way. "It's surreal. People are walking around like they're in a dream. I still expect to hear Marilyn's laugh in the hallway."The staff has been undergoing grief counseling when not attending funerals, and is gradually getting back to work. The firm has had a successful year, and its clients have been highly supportive through the tragedy, said company spokeswoman Ching Wu.Still, the grief and shock will never completely fade, Velamuri said.

Venezuelans pray at the tomb of the notorious thief Ismael Sanchez, believing he and other dead gangsters can protect them against violent attacks

Venezuelans pray at the tomb of the notorious thief Ismael Sanchez, believing he and other dead gangsters can protect them against violent attacks and robberies. Devotees of the Corte Malandra or Gangsters' Pantheon say the spirits of gangsters who once maintained a reign of terror in Caracas now watch over them in a city where murders and robberies are rife. The Gangsters' Pantheon takes as its symbol a hawk on a motorcycle -- one of Ismael's tattoos -- to honor him, The Rat, Isabelita, Luis, Little Miguel, Antonio and other criminals who once preyed on poor hillside neighborhoods. "The cult started with Ismael, a criminal who robbed the rich to help those who lived in his barrio," said Yamileth, a worshiper who works in a store selling spiritual and religious objects. The roots of the Corte Malandra are unclear. Some say Ismael was Juan Francisco Carrillo, a thief murdered in the 1960s. Some say he died in the 1970s. Believers say the spirits of the dead criminals are trying to make amends for their villainous past by protecting people and helping those who might be tempted into crime. Police register as many as 100 murders each weekend in Venezuela, an oil-rich country where startling poverty sits beside huge wealth. Most crimes occur in ramshackle shantytown neighborhoods in the capital and most murders are settling of scores between criminal gangs. The government last week began a new program to send National Guard troops into Caracas' most crime-plagued areas in an attempt to combat murder and robbery. Polls show many Venezuelans put security as one of their main worries. Venezuela, though mainly a Roman Catholic country, has many cults based on rituals taken from African slaves and indigenous beliefs which count politicians and ex-presidents among their followers. Santeria -- a form of voodoo mixing Christian practices and African mythology -- is common.
Ismael "lived the bad boy life, so I think he can help many people escape from that life too," said Mayra Marin, a 43-year-old who become a devotee a few months ago.
The Gangsters' Pantheon is part of the Maria Lionza cult, which brings together a mysterious trinity of deities -- the mythical Amazonian goddess Maria Lionza, the historic Indian chief Guaicaipuro and the black slave rebel Negro Felipe.
Though based in Venezuela, the Lionza cult is starting to gain recognition in Cuba and Spain. Nina -- who said she become a believer after spending four months in intensive care with a gunshot wound -- said she has seen retirees, army generals and high-ranking police officers paying their respects to Ismael's tomb. Even some modern-day criminals pay homage to the dead thief. "People come to pray for boys who are in prison, kids with bad behavior, drug addicts and those who have strayed. Lots of young girls come to ask why their husbands are beating them," she said. Devotees say anyone can pray at the tomb and pay for the favor with an offering of candles, a cigar, a glass of strong local anis liquor and a hot salsa song. Figurines of the criminal "saints" are found more frequently in the spiritualist and amulet shops common in poor neighborhoods in Caracas. For less than $1 one can buy a statue of a muscular figure armed with a revolver and wearing dark glasses, basketball shirt and cap. "One of the ways to make up for what they did in life is to help people through the cult," said spiritualist shopkeeper Yamileth, hugging a statue of Ismael. But not all the followers of the goddess Maria Lionza believe the Gangsters' Pantheon belongs in the cult. "What type of dark energy can come from this," said Raiza Lopez, a Tarot card reader at another spiritualist store. "We don't sell any of that stuff and we don't use it either. That would put us in touch with really bad vibes."

Caracas has become one of the most violent cities on the planet. Armed gangs competing over turf and drug deals wage ruthless, low-level warfare

Caracas has become one of the most violent cities on the planet. Armed gangs competing over turf and drug deals wage ruthless, low-level warfare in the slums. Nationally, homicides have soared to more than 13,000 a year, with 2,710 in Caracas alone, according to leaked government figures. That gives a national rate of 48 per 100,000 people. In some Caracas slums the rate rises to 130. The rate in England and Wales is 1.4.In opinion polls Venezuelans consistently rank safety as their main concern, with 64 per cent expressing fear of being attacked in the street. Kidnappings have also surged, especially 'express kidnappings' in which victims or relatives pay an immediate relatively modest ransom.President Hugo Chávez may pay a political price today in local and regional elections. Voters are expected to vent frustration at crime - and shoddy public services - by rejecting some of his mayoral and state governor candidates.'It's mayhem here. And the government does nothing,' said María Elena Delgado, 54, a housewife in Petare, a vast slum in eastern Caracas. 'I have to think about my children.' The four surviving ones, that is. Three of her sons have been gunned down, including one before Chávez came to power a decade ago.Opinion polls suggest el comandante remains popular, with approval ratings well over 50 per cent, but that anger over crime could lose him control of once loyal bastions such as Petare.Chávez speaks in public daily, often for hours, but seldom mentions insecurity. He has blamed crime on capitalism and poverty, and said if his family was starving he would steal. 'The perception that crime has soared is a weak point for him,' said Steve Ellner, a political scientist at Venezuela's University of the East. 'He can't talk about crackdowns because that would contradict his whole discourse.' Some critics claim the President's denunciations of inequality and 'squealing oligarchs' have encouraged youths to ease their poverty the fast way, with a gun. Partly thanks to Chávez's social programmes, poverty levels have dropped from 53 to 37 per cent. Yet crime has spiked. Corrupt and inept policing has been compounded by a flood of cocaine from neighbouring Colombia. Changing the justice minister every year - there have been 10 under Chávez- has wrought institutional havoc.The authorities have expressed interest in fresh strategies. Ken Livingstone, London's former Mayor and Chávez ally, is advising Caracas on community policing. The Justice Ministry, which no longer publishes murder statistics, did not return calls seeking comment for this article.In the hillside slums ringing the capital the bloodiest days are Friday and Saturday. The salsa and reggae beats blaring from bars can swiftly be drowned by gunfire, said Miguel Torres, 52, a taxi driver. 'One second you're sipping a Polar [beer], the next you're under the table.'Some weekends more than 50 corpses make their way to Plaza Auyantepuy. Monday is funeral day, with hearses sometimes getting stuck behind other cortèges. A gang recently ambushed and killed rivals at a funeral home. 'Often they are just 16- and 17-year-olds but already they are psychopaths,' said Jimin Pérez, director of Project Alcatraz, a scheme which tries to rehabilitate gangsters. 'These guys kill for nothing.'Project Alcatraz, which is funded by the Santa Teresa rum company, has had mixed results. Some gang members have renounced violence. Others have been assassinated within days of completing the programme. Some have lapsed back into killing. 'We have to offer them a chance of another life,' said Pérez. 'When they feel abandoned and alone, that is when they have no limits, no controls.'

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Dave Courtney claims to have been shot, stabbed, had his nose bitten off, and even had to kill to save his own life.


Dave Courtney will always go one better. Born in Bermondsey, London, Dave claims to have been shot, stabbed, had his nose bitten off, and even had to kill to save his own life. Not to mention pointing the finger at unarmed police officers for engineering a car crash on a Kent Motorway in an attempt to kill him. All of this is of little surprise when you consider the company that he has kept in the past, with hard men such as Lenny McLean, Joey Pyle, Roy Shaw, Bruce Reynolds, Charlie Richardson and Charlie Breaker amongst his list of friends. Dave was keen to stress that every word which he uttered there could be taken as gospel, as a syllable out of place could lead to his very sticky end. Perhaps this was why he talked very little of his dealings with the infamous Kray twins, of whose history every member of the audience was intrigued to learn more about, except that the brothers were both homosexual, and not only Ronnie as was commonly perceived. It was through his intervention at Ronnie’s funeral in 1995, when Dave was asked to take care of security that he first appeared in the public eye. Having spent many years flexing his muscles as a specialist debt collector, when he developed a reputation for using a knuckle duster to do the business and became known as ‘The Yellow Pages of the Underworld’; and later owner of a high profile security firm, Dave was the perfect candidate for the job. Plus, with an entourage of over 80 heavies at his heels, the funeral was guaranteed to go off without a hitch. Dave talked briefly of his career as an Author, which has resulted in the publication of six booksHe said that he would like to continue his writing, whilst also launching his acting career if given the option. Dave played a cameo role in the gangster movie ‘The Krays’, and has starred in numerous documentaries, including a three-part documentary series called ‘Dave Courtney’s Underworld’. Dave has also directed, produced and starred opposite Bill Murray in his own film, ‘Hell To Pay’, which premiered at the Cannes film festival. He went on to reveal that he was in fact, the inspiration behind Vinnie Jones’s character, Big Chris, in blockbuster movie, ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ which has created great animosity between the two. Through gritted teeth Dave said that he is by no means jealous of Vinnie despite his having made millions out of pretending to be him (gulp). Finally, Dave gave the audience an insight into the life of his long-standing enemy, “Mad” Frankie Fraser. Tearing down the aura surrounding the criminal icon in seconds, Dave said that Fraser made himself famous through association with the notorious Richardson gang, and later for having served 42 years in over 20 different prisons in the UK. These he said were for a variety of different crimes, for which Fraser kept getting caught because he was a worthless criminal.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Baikal automatic pistol - the gun of choice in gang circles - was unearthed

Baikal automatic pistol - the gun of choice in gang circles - was unearthed when police searched the teenager's home in New Cross, south-east London, in August, along with a magazine and two silencers hidden in a rucksack. Ammunition was found nearby and a machete and barrel brush for another gun were also found in the convicted robber's bedroom. The boy, who is too young to be named, admitted he was in a gang and told police he was holding it for someone else but would not say who.
Now 14, he pleaded guilty at Inner London Crown Court to possession of a prohibited weapon and illegal ammunition. Prosecutor David Atkins said the case was a "prime example" of the gang and gun crime facing police in London. He said: "The gangs are up to 40 to 60 in number. They will be controlled by young men in their early 20s. "There will be an escalating hierarchy of gang members and the junior members of the gang will start out, like the teenager, by hiding weapons but they will earn their (promotions) in the organisations by taking on shootings and violence." He added: "There is a significant risk to members of the public because there are gangland wars going on and members of the public are being misidentified and shot.
"Gangs are ruthless and have no moral scruples. They will shoot for the sheer fun of it, it seems." Detectives from the Central Criminal Directorate went to the teenager's home and the door was answered by the boy's mother, the court heard.
"She was asked if there was any drugs or firearms on the premises and replied no. The boy was asked the same question and he replied no," he told the court. A search team uncovered a machete in a wardrobe in the boy's bedroom and a white rucksack in the cellar containing the Baikal, magazine and silencer and ammunition nearby. He said the boy told police the gun was not his and added: "He was asked whose it was. He made no reply. He was asked 'are you holding it for someone else?' He nodded."
When he was later interviewed at Lewisham Police Station, he said he had been "storing" the gun since mid-July. He initially said he had been threatened into holding it, the court heard, but later said he had done it as a favour.
Mr Atkins said: "He admits to being a gang member and said the machete was in his room for his protection." Sentencing was adjourned until Jan 30 for psychiatric and pre-sentence reports.

Steven Graham, whose nickname was "Jamaica," appeared to have been shot once in the torso while riding past the station


Steven Graham, whose nickname was "Jamaica," was an eighth-grader at Masonville Cove Community Academy in Brooklyn. He lived in the 500 block of Annabel Ave. with his uncle and other relatives.His mother lives in Jamaica. His father, also named Steven Graham, has been locked up since his arrest in June 2006. In March 2007 in Baltimore Circuit Court, Graham pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder and using a handgun to kill Donta Roberts, 28, in Northwest Baltimore. Graham is serving his five-year sentence at the Maryland Correctional Institute in Hagerstown.Wilson, 30, knew his nephew was in trouble, but he says he didn't know the extent of it. Steven was evasive when asked about his friends and activities, the uncle said.
For the past few months, Steven had been having problems. Three weeks ago, while Steven was walking home from school and wearing a red jacket -- a color associated with the Bloods gang -- he was jumped by boys who tried to beat him up, Wilson said. But he was able to run away.About a month and a half ago, Wilson said, Steven claimed that his friend had been kidnapped and shot in the neighborhood. The friend survived, Wilson said, adding that he knew little about the crime, including the friend's real name.Tuesday morning, city police officers came to his Annabel Avenue house looking for Steven's friend, Wilson said. Officer Troy Harris, a police spokesman, said the warrant apprehension task force went to the house to look for a suspect in a recent crime. The Annabel Avenue address came up because the suspect, whose name was not released, was a friend of Steven's.That evening, Steven left the house. Wilson said he didn't know where his nephew was heading.About 7:30 p.m., Kenya Johnson, a firefighter-paramedic at Engine Co. 35, was in a firehouse office when he heard a loud bang. He suspected that it was a gunshot and started walking toward the front of the station when he heard someone pounding on the large roll-up garage door and yelling: "Somebody's been shot!""I heard the shot. It was a loud shot, not a popgun," Johnson said. "That wasn't a firecracker." He and other emergency workers rushed outside. Steven was lying on the ground, about 20 feet in front of one of the garage doors. "He wasn't conscious," said Johnson, 34, a former city school teacher. "He was out that fast."
Steven appeared to have been shot once in the torso while riding past the station,Johnson said. His bike lay about two feet away. Paramedics transported Steven to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he died a short time later, police said. This year, 19 children have been ruled Baltimore homicide victims, compared with 27 last year, according to police data. The Department of Juvenile Services reports that four of those teens, including Steven, who was on probation, were under their watch.Steven was the third Baltimore 14-year-old to be shot to death this year. The others were Edward Smith on Jan. 14 in the 800 block of Bethune Road and

Ricardo Gutierrez Vargas, Mexico's representative to the international police force, Interpol arrested

Mexican authorities have arrested a senior police official for allegedly working with drug cartels.The arrest Tuesday of Ricardo Gutierrez Vargas, Mexico's representative to the international police force, Interpol was part of a probe into leaks of information to drug gangs.Mexico has seen increasingly brutal drug-related violence, which has claimed thousands of lives.In Tijuana, federal agents and military forces are temporarily replacing hundreds of police officers responsible for patrolling the crime-ridden border town. Five-hundred police officers were sent to training and will undergo background checks.Earlier this month, the top officer of Mexico's federal police force, Gerardo Garay, stepped down following allegations senior officers had helped drug traffickers.President Felipe Calderon has deployed about 36,000 troops around the country to battle violent drug gangs.More than 4,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico this year. Much of the violence takes place in northern Mexico, where traffickers smuggle drugs over the border into the United States.

UN gang leader Clay Roueche has been held in segregation near Seattle since his arrest last May on international drug-trafficking charges

UN gang leader Clay Roueche has been held in segregation near Seattle since his arrest last May on international drug-trafficking charges. His lawyer wants a judge to allow the Fraser Valley native into the general prison population pending his trial in January.
Roueche starting buying his cocaine directly from South America after more than 200 kilos and $750,000 cash were seized in the U.S., according to court documents filed Wednesday.In one bugged telephone call, Roueche agreed to "test the water" of a new cocaine route by smuggling more than 50 kilos and said he had a "bunch in Venezuela I've already paid for," the documents say.But the U.S. Attorney says Roueche is far too dangerous and could retaliate against other inmates who are cooperating with the government in the criminal case."Because of Roueche's leadership position in the UN gang, his previous use of another inmate's phone, his gang's violent tendencies toward those who might testify against other gang members and the necessity to separate him from a number of cooperators and co-defendants in the general population, administrators at the Federal Detention Centre made the decision to house the defendant at the Special Housing Unit," says the U.S. Attorney's response to Roueche's motion for free-range status.A major issue is how Roueche behaved in jail when he was briefly held in Oklahoma last May before being sent to the SeaTac Federal Detention Centre, making several illegal calls or getting other inmates to do it for him, the U.S. Attorney said."Oklahoma prison officials realized that he was speaking in code on the phone so denied him phone privileges," the documents say. "At the SeaTac FDC, the defendant convinced another inmate to let him use that inmate's telephone call number."Canadian and U.S. law enforcement agencies have been following Roueche and his UN underlings since 2005 as part of a massive cross-border investigation, the documents say."Working together, the agencies have found evidence of nearly two dozen cocaine exporting trips from the U.S. into Canada and the seizure of three separate cocaine loads," the U.S. Attorney said, adding that 2,000 pounds of B.C. bud was also seized."Clay Roueche is the operational leader as well as the public face of the UN gang. ... Its operations, mostly importing and distributing marijuana, have spread east across Canada to Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal. Working in cells, the organization has become powerful and violent in Canada."The U.S. Attorney also cited information from the B.C. agency investigating the UN, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit."In 2007, after a series of shootings in Chilliwack, Roueche's vehicle was stopped and found to contain a sophisticated hidden compartment in the centre console of the passenger area. That centre console was full of handguns, including an illegal and loaded pistol, several clips from a Sig firearm and a photograph of rival gang members," the documents say.
"CFSEU has surveilled Roueche consistently for the past few years and found that he routinely has armed body guards. One associate ... was found to have a hidden compartment in his car with a loaded handgun and oversized magazines. This gun was registered to a law enforcement agency in the United States."
Roueche's application to get out of segregation has not yet been heard by a judge.The Canadian's lawyer argues that Roueche's ongoing segregation amounts to "cruel and unusual punishment.""He is housed in his cell 23 hours a day. The only time he is allowed out is for one hour each morning at 6 a.m. Other than that, my client is completely isolated, except for visitation by legal counsel or family, who reside in British Columbia, Ca

Clay Roueche is the operational leader as well as the public face of the UN gang.


UN gang leader Clay Roueche starting buying his cocaine directly from South America after more than 200 kilos and $750,000 cash were seized in the U.S., according to court documents filed Wednesday.In one bugged telephone call, Roueche agreed to "test the water" of a new cocaine route by smuggling more than 50 kilos and said he had a "bunch in Venezuela I've already paid for," the documents say.
Roueche has been held in segregation near Seattle since his arrest last May on international drug-trafficking charges. His lawyer wants a judge to allow the Fraser Valley native into the general prison population pending his trial in January.
But the U.S. Attorney says Roueche is far too dangerous and could retaliate against other inmates who are cooperating with the government in the criminal case.
"Because of Roueche's leadership position in the UN gang, his previous use of another inmate's phone, his gang's violent tendencies toward those who might testify against other gang members and the necessity to separate him from a number of cooperators and co-defendants in the general population, administrators at the Federal Detention Centre made the decision to house the defendant at the Special Housing Unit," says the U.S. Attorney's response to Roueche's motion for free-range status.A major issue is how Roueche behaved in jail when he was briefly held in Oklahoma last May before being sent to the SeaTac Federal Detention Centre, making several illegal calls or getting other inmates to do it for him, the U.S. Attorney said."Oklahoma prison officials realized that he was speaking in code on the phone so denied him phone privileges," the documents say. "At the SeaTac FDC, the defendant convinced another inmate to let him use that inmate's telephone call number."Canadian and U.S. law enforcement agencies have been following Roueche and his UN underlings since 2005 as part of a massive cross-border investigation, the documents say."Working together, the agencies have found evidence of nearly two dozen cocaine exporting trips from the U.S. into Canada and the seizure of three separate cocaine loads," the U.S. Attorney said, adding that 2,000 pounds of B.C. bud was also seized."Clay Roueche is the operational leader as well as the public face of the UN gang. ... Its operations, mostly importing and distributing marijuana, have spread east across Canada to Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal. Working in cells, the organization has become powerful and violent in Canada."The U.S. Attorney also cited information from the B.C. agency investigating the UN, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit."In 2007, after a series of shootings in Chilliwack, Roueche's vehicle was stopped and found to contain a sophisticated hidden compartment in the centre console of the passenger area. That centre console was full of handguns, including an illegal and loaded pistol, several clips from a Sig firearm and a photograph of rival gang members," the documents say."CFSEU has surveilled Roueche consistently for the past few years and found that he routinely has armed body guards. One associate ... was found to have a hidden compartment in his car with a loaded handgun and oversized magazines. This gun was registered to a law enforcement agency in the United States."Roueche's application to get out of segregation has not yet been heard by a judge.The Canadian's lawyer argues that Roueche's ongoing segregation amounts to "cruel and unusual punishment.""He is housed in his cell 23 hours a day. The only time he is allowed out is for one hour each morning at 6 a.m. Other than that, my client is completely isolated, except for visitation by legal counsel or family, who reside in British Columbia, Canada," lawyer Lee Covell said. "I have never known such housing to extend beyond 30 days."

Marcelo Lucero, 37, was stabbed to death Nov. 8 in Patchogue, allegedly by seven teenagers in what Suffolk police labeled a hate crime.

Marcelo Lucero, 37, was stabbed to death Nov. 8 in Patchogue, allegedly by seven teenagers in what Suffolk police labeled a hate crime. One of the teenagers was charged with manslaughter as a hate crime. The others face gang assault charges.
Schoolchildren in uniforms, girls in blue or red sweaters and plaid skirts, and boys in yellow shirts and black pants, crowded the mile-long processional route as Lucero's childhood friends carried his body. First they stopped at City Hall for a brief ceremony under a blazing sun. Then they made their way to the spacious house Lucero built for his mother, Rosario. Hate and tragedy on Long Island Lucero had planned to finally return to Ecuador soon to live with her and his sister Isabel after 15 years in the United States without ever visiting home."An innocent man had to die so people would realize the racism occurring against Latinos on Long Island," Juan Pablo Jadan, 38, leader of a group of Lucero's childhood friends known as the TUNAS, said in Spanish."A natural death is one thing," the former Patchogue resident added. "Dying because of violence, racism and hate is another."Dressed in black suits, the friends took turns carrying their friend's coffin up the hilly streets of this city of 20,000 people. In front of them, two carried a sign made of flowers that spelled TUNAS, an acronym in Spanish for "Everyone United, No One Walks Alone."
Some schoolgirls held hands and raised them in salute as the coffin passed. Others waved small white flags that said "Paz" - "Peace." Other people threw flower petals on the coffin as it went by, while some mourners watched from balconies.Lucero's mother and sister walked arm-in-arm behind the coffin as hundreds of mourners followed.Later, outside their home and with Lucero's body at rest inside, Isabel came out to a throng of television cameras and microphones to demand severe punishment in the case and an end to racism in the United States."We don't want the criminals who did this to end up laughing because they think it is a joke," she said. "We want justice to be done so my brother can rest in peace."
Lucero's body arrived from New York to the capital Quito late Tuesday, then traveled in a hearse overnight 200 miles south to his hometown of Gualaceo. Hundreds of people waited in the morning at the city's entrance for his arrival at about 9:30 a.m.The city's mayor declared three days of mourning, with flags flown at half-staff and public employees given time off to attend services.Some mourners said Lucero's killing has provoked worries that their loved ones in Patchogue and throughout the United States could be in danger. "This has caused panic because so many people have relatives there," Teresa, 58, said in Spanish. She did not give her last name, saying she feared it could lead to harm against her relatives.
Inside the family's house, Lucero's body lay at rest on the first floor as mourners paid their respects throughout the afternoon. His friends from TUNAS watched over him from chairs next to his coffin. A portrait of Lucero in a baseball hat was propped on a chair.He was finally inside the dream home he wanted to give his mother with his hard work on Long Island, a mission that ended up costing him his life.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Mafia leader Mahmut Yıldırım was killed years ago, though there are many people who think he is still alive

Sacit Kayasu, a former prosecutor who was permanently disbarred, has claimed that a mafia leader known as Yeşil (Green) was killed years ago, contrary to popular belief that he is still alive.Kayasu, who was fired and disbarred after seeking the indictment of former Gen. Kenan Evren -- the leader of the Sept. 12, 1980, military coup -- asserted that Yeşil, which is the nom de guerre of famous mafia leader Mahmut Yıldırım, was killed years ago, though there are many people who think he is still alive. "I received a notice in September of 1998 that a corpse was found in western İzmir's Ödemiş district," Kayasu said. "There were nine bullet holes in the body. The eyes were gouged out. When we carried out an analysis on the dental prosthesis of the victim, we saw that it was Mahmut Yıldırım."Kayasu said Yıldırım was killed five or six days before his body was found. "His fingers and toes were skinned so as to preclude identification. On his corpse was mud from Ödemiş. I believe he was killed somewhere else but left on a roadside in Ödemiş. His murder was a professional one," he said. "There were no bullets in the corpse. They were professionally removed." He also claimed that some people don't want Yeşil's murder to be known so that they can blame him for crimes. "There are people in İzmir and Adana who are engaged in illegal acts under Yeşil's name. But Yeşil was Yıldırım, and he was killed several years ago," Kayasu said.
The former prosecutor also said Yıldırım's murder was verified by the mafia leader's close friend, whom Kayasu identified as a man from the southeastern city of Mardin. "I received several phone calls from this man. He said Yıldırım was killed after being interrogated somewhere outside of Ödemiş. He had the video cassette of his interrogation. He was to send the cassette to me, but I haven't heard from him for a long time. He may have been killed, too," Kayasu said.
He said he was not allowed to conclude the investigation into Yıldırım's death and was appointed to the public prosecutor's office in Adana. "I asked the forensics department in İzmir to carry out a DNA analysis on Yıldırım's body, but the corpse mysteriously went missing," he said. "We don't know where it is now." Kayasu stated that a recent verdict by the European Court of Human Rights has paved the path for prosecutors to file cases against generals. The court unanimously held last week that that there had been a violation of freedom of expression and of the right to appropriate punishment for Kayasu, who was removed from his job because he filed a court case against Evren, the coup leader. According to verdict, the Turkish government has to pay Kayasu 40,000 euros. "The Supreme Board of Prosecutors and Judges [HSYK] or the Ministry of Justice will not prevent prosecutors from seeking the indictment of generals. The European Court of Human Rights has prevented it," he said. "This is a plus for Turkey. Prosecutors will not be disbarred for filing cases against generals." Kayasu also said individuals, be they civilians or members of the military, should be tried if they stage coups. "Coup planners and stagers are tried around the world," he said. "Coups are crimes committed against democracy and human rights."

Yaakov Alperon, known as “Don Alperon”, said to run Tel Aviv’s third largest crime family.One of the leading figures in Israel’s mafia


Israeli ‘Mafia’ Boss Assassinated.Don Alperon was said to run Tel Aviv’s third largest crime family.One of the leading figures in Israel’s mafia-style organised crime gangs has been assassinated in a car bomb attack.
Yaakov Alperon, known as “Don Alperon”, was driving his saloon car through a northern suburb of Tel Aviv when the vehicle was torn apart by a huge blast.Two bystanders were also slightly injured in the explosion, one a 13-year-old boy waiting at a bus stop.The attack has raised concerns that an Israeli mob war could be about to spin out of control.Little was left of the car after the explosion, which was apparently set off by remote control just before midday.Don Alperon’s body was seen slumped over the steering wheel.A police spokesman said, with understatement, that the security forces were now assessing the situation to see what would develop in Tel Aviv.This is the latest and most serious attack in an Israeli mob war which some fear may once again be coming to the boil.That is worrying because of the lack of concern shown by the mobsters for civilian casualties.Anti-tank missiles, grenades and bombs have all been used in Israeli mob hits.In one failed attempt to kill a rival gang leader in 2003, three people died when a bomb explosion hit a passing bus.In another attack, a whole building was destroyed while the intended target, another mafia leader, walked away.
Don Alperon was a flamboyant figure known for dating famous and beautiful women from Israeli show-business.He was said to run Tel Aviv’s third-largest crime family.If Tel Aviv is in for another period of bloody rivalry between the city’s mafia gangs, residents will want to know if the police are capable of stopping it.The Israeli underworld is built around gangs run by the once poor sons of Middle Eastern Jewish, or Mizrahi, immigrant families: the Alperons, Abutbuls, Abergils, and others who have become household names in this country because of unflagging media attention. When Alperon was blown up, a TV crew a few blocks away was filming an episode of "The Arbitrator," a fictional series based on the nation's mafia.The largely Mizrahi crime families do most of their business in drugs, gambling, and extortion, with prostitution having been taken over by wayward immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Israeli Arabs have their own violent gangs known mainly for selling drugs and stolen weapons. Although ethnic separatism is the rule in Israeli organized crime, the lure of large, illicit profits can at times bring people of different backgrounds together.The mafia capital is Tel Aviv, but the gangs also operate in Jerusalem, Netanya, Bat Yam, Lod, and other cities, as well as in the prisons. They've gotten too big for police to control.The greatest obstacle for law enforcement is getting witnesses to testify; no wonder, since witnesses against Israeli mafia figures put their lives at risk. A couple of years ago, a prisoner due to testify against a crime boss was poisoned in his cell. A U.S.-style witness protection program is supposedly in the works to relocate such brave souls and give them new identities, but nothing has come of it.
Yaakov Alperon now joins Felix Abutbul, Yaakov Abergil, Yehezkel Aslan, Gad Plum, and other reputed Israeli mob legends who were murdered, presumably by rivals. Yet, their killers are rarely brought to justice for want of witnesses and evidence.
While the public doesn't grieve over the slain gangsters, the "collateral damage" is causing a growing outcry. The bombing of Alperon's car put a driver and schoolboy nearby in the hospital with minor injuries; in past mafia hits, innocent bystanders have been killed.After Alperon's murder, his wife, Ahuva, was on the TV news sobbing while his ex-convict brother Zalman, wearing a black yarmulke, swore that the family "was leaving revenge in God's hands." In times of crisis, Israeli mafia families typically turn to public displays of piety; a familiar scene on the evening news is of an accused gangster appearing in court in handcuffs and a yarmulke.
Yaakov Alperon came from modest beginnings. He was one of 12 children who lived with their Egyptian immigrant parents in a two-room apartment in a dusty little town near Tel Aviv. He took up boxing, then put his fists to use on the streets and, soon, in prison. He was suspected of murdering rivals in and out of jail, but police could never prove it.Alperon, his brothers, and his henchmen brawled repeatedly with rival families; he made legions of enemies. One of them most likely activated the bomb that left him sprawled dead in a blasted, burning sedan in the middle of northern Tel Aviv. Now another score waits to be settled.



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Six heavily-armed men, including a suspended Pretoria police officer, were arrested

Six heavily-armed men, including a suspended Pretoria police officer, were arrested during a sting operation moments before they could carry out a cash-in-transit heist.
The men, who are all from Soshanguve, were arrested on Tuesday by the hi-tech unit and Pretoria crime combating unit without a shot being fired, as they were allegedly preparing to attack guards from Protea Coin, who were about to fill up an ATM at a butchery outside Ga-Rankuwa.The six, including the officer, who is a constable stationed at the protection and security services (PSS) unit, are all out on bail for various crimes, including armed robbery and murder.The PSS includes units such as the VIP protection unit, ports of entry unit and railway police unit.
The six are believed to be part of a heavily armed gang wanted for a spate of cash-in-transit heists across Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West province. A number of policemen are involved. Among the crimes the men have allegedly carried out include Monday's foiled attack on a cash depot in Witbank.During the attack, 11 men, posing as police officers and driving a car fitted with police registration plates, conned their way into the building where they held up staff. A manager raised the alarm and the robbers shot their way out of the depot taking two of the guards' guns.
It is also believed that the six may be involved in a spate of farm attacks in the Kameeldrift area which has left at least four people dead and several seriously injured.Describing Tuesday's sting operation, police said they were staking out Nyanes Butchery after receiving information that the gang was going to rob guards as they were filling up the ATM machine. While some police posed as customers, others hid in several unmarked vehicles waiting for the gang to strike.Police launched their assault as five of the alleged robbers stormed the guards. Two of the gunmen were held trying to hide inside a room.Three others were caught as they tried to escape while the sixth was arrested in the getaway car about 200m away.Describing the arrests, Nyanes Butchery owner, Rudolph Loots, said it was chaos. "There were people with guns running everywhere screaming. Two men ran into the room where I was and threw a gun behind a box before putting their hands in the air."I didn't know what was happening," said Loots, adding that he had not even known the police were staking out his store. He said it was like a movie. "It was crazy. I have never seen anything like that in my life except on TV. It is a miracle that no one was shot or killed," he said, adding that the attack had taken place at the busiest part of the day.A police officer said during the arrests, in which police seized three guns and two cars, officers discovered that one of the suspects was a policeman who is out on bail for armed robbery.Confirming the officer's arrest, spokesperson Director Sally de Beer, said the constable was attached to the PSS.She said the officer was currently on suspension after he was arrested in connection with a similar incident. He is facing departmental and criminal charges. "It is sickening when one of our own are arrested. If he is found guilty we can get rid of him," she said.De Beer confirmed the men were being linked to other crimes.

Stanislao Cantelli was playing cards in a social club on the high street of Casal di Principe when someone walked in and fired 18 bullets.

Italy's crack Folgore paratroopers could not save 60-year-old Stanislao Cantelli from the Mafia. Two days after Silvio Berlusconi, centre-right prime minister, in October sent 500 troops to reinforce police in the Naples area after a spate of killings, the Mafia delivered their blunt response. Mr Cantelli was playing cards in a social club on the high street of Casal di Principe - a satellite town and stronghold of the Camorra gangs - when someone walked in and fired 18 bullets. Paratroopers were 200 metres away. By the time the police arrived, the killer and all witnesses had fled. Shops were closing their shutters. Police say Mr Cantelli, a retired cheese factory worker, paid the price for being the uncle of Luigi Diana, a Mafia "pentito" or turncoat whose information had led to the arrest of members of the Casalesi clan.There are constant struggles between the Mafia and the policeTwo weeks earlier, suspected Casalesi hitmen shot six African immigrants in Castelvolturno, a derelict zone north of Naples trying to reinvent itself with a coastal golf course. A turf war over narcotics or golf, or simply a cocaine-driven demonstration of power by the mob? Police are not sure. Frightened immigrants protested, accusing the state of abandoning them and Italians of racism. The government's decision to deploy the army has been cautiously welcomed by Italians as a sign that the state is trying to impose an authority that has been absent for years. Critics say it is just for show. Meanwhile, the ministers of interior and defence disagree on the nature of the battle. After Mr Cantelli's murder, Roberto Maroni, the interior minister who believes he is waging a "civil war", said he had never expected "a bed of roses" and victory within hours. "But I am sure we can do it and the people of Campania (the region around Naples) will learn to trust the state," he said on television. Ignazio La Russa, the defence minister, prefers the terminology of a war between gangs, but he agrees on the target. "The only war we are waging is against the Camorra," he said. An editor of a local newspaper who asked not to be named said the government had been obliged to be seen responding to the violence, but he doubted the move would tackle its roots which is the nexus of power between local politicians and the mob. "This war is win-win for Berlusconi," he said. Some local politicians "up to their necks" in the Mafia might be sacrificed but they would be replaced. Further south in Calabria, Nicola Gratteri, an anti-mafia prosecutor, was involved in co-ordinated raids in September against drug traffickers in Italy, the US, Mexico and Guatemala. More than 16 tonnes of cocaine were seized and 200 people held, including 16 suspected members of the 'Ndrangheta Mafia clans based in Calabria who control the flow of Colombian cocaine into Europe.
Mr Gratteri said Colombian drug lords were outsourcing their distribution to Mexican gangs to feed the US and European markets, where in turn the 'Ndrangheta supply the Camorra around Naples. Organised as an impenetrable, cell-like structure of families, the 'Ndrangheta have grown into Europe's most powerful criminal network, controlling businesses and politicians and influencing local elections. Apart from the occasional vendetta exploding into public, the 'Ndrangheta tend to keep a lower profile than the Camorra and avoid direct confrontation with the state.
Sending in the army is not an effective tool, says Mr Gratteri. "Checkpoints are not the answer. It doesn't matter whether it is the Carabinieri police or the army." To make his point, he shows where a bug was found in a store-room next to the guarded office where he and colleagues used to have what they thought were confidential conversations. "The Mafia are different. They organise themselves, create their rules and also have a consensus among part of the population. Checkpoints have a good psychological effect but they do not give results." His biggest weapon is telephone intercepts. They are cheap and simple. He says the city has one of the most effective monitoring systems in the world, tapping more than 1,000 people.
"Investigations are the answer but to carry them out you need time, months, years," he says. "So it is important to raise the number of people employed. "Contrary to checkpoints, to fight against the Mafia one must camouflage oneself, forget to exist, disappear . . not with cameras and journalists who follow you around."

Yaakov Alperon, known as "Don Alperon", was driving his saloon car through a northern suburb of Tel Aviv when the vehicle was torn apart

Yaakov Alperon, known as "Don Alperon", was driving his saloon car through a northern suburb of Tel Aviv when the vehicle was torn apart by an explosion. Two bystanders were also slightly injured in the explosion, one a 13-year-old boy waiting at a bus stop. The attack has raised concerns that an Israeli mob war could be about to spin out of control. Little was left of the car after the explosion, which was apparently set off by remote control just before midday. Don Alperon's body was seen slumped over the steering wheel. A police spokesman said, with understatement, that the security forces were now assessing the situation to see what would develop in Tel Aviv. This is the latest and most serious attack in an Israeli mob war which some fear may once again be coming to the boil. That is worrying because of the lack of concern shown by the mobsters for civilian casualties. Anti-tank missiles, grenades and bombs have all been used in Israeli mob hits. In one failed attempt to kill a rival gang leader in 2003, three people died when a bomb explosion hit a passing bus. In another attack, a whole building was destroyed while the intended target, another mafia leader, walked away. Don Alperon was a flamboyant figure known for dating famous and beautiful women from Israeli show-business. He was said to run Tel Aviv's third-largest crime family. If Tel Aviv is in for another period of bloody rivalry between the city's mafia gangs, residents will want to know if the police are capable of stopping it. That has not always seemed to be the case in the past.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Ammunition plant in Petare, a suburb of the capital often counted as Latin America’s largest barrio, was found crammed with lead ingots, lathes

Ammunition plant in Petare, a suburb of the capital often counted as Latin America’s largest barrio, was found crammed with lead ingots, lathes and moulds used to make 2,000 bullets a day of various calibres.People would drop by and pick up a box of bullets as if they were buying something from the local pharmacy,” says Chief Inspector Wilmer Flores Trosel, who oversaw the raid.Mr Flores, who recently took charge of the Metropolitan police in Caracas, faces a tough task.Although the nationwide homicide rate reached 48 murders per 100,000 people in 2007 – representing a 67 per cent jump since Hugo Chávez was elected president a decade ago – in Caracas the rate is at 130 per 100,000, according to official figures. The US rate hovers around six and the UK’s is around two.“There is a civil war going on here,” says Jesus Torrealba, an activist in the Caracas slums who is critical of the government.“But because it is a low intensity war, when 50 people die a weekend in Caracas, the world doesn’t want to hear about it – unlike, say, when a car bomb kills as many in Fallujah.”Venezuela is not alone: the average homicide rate in the region is four times higher than the global average, according to a recent report by the Organization of American States.But Venezuela is one of the worst. Since 2004 its murder rate has even exceeded that of neighbouring Colombia, which has been mired in a decades-long conflict involving a guerilla insurgency, paramilitary death squads and ruthless drug cartels.A recent poll by Caracas-based company Datanalisis found that 54 per cent rank personal insecurity and the rise of delinquency as Venezuela’s principal problem. Inflation came a distant second, with just 13 per cent considering it the country’s most pressing concern.However, the violence has so far had a limited impact on Mr Chávez’s popularity, which will be tested at regional elections in a fortnight.

While insecurity has consistently topped polls of citizens’ worries for the past three years, during the same time Mr Chávez’s popularity has fluctuated wildly. It fell from 70 per cent in 2006 to 46 per cent early this year, but has since rebounded to 57 per cent, according to Datanalisis, indicating little correlation between the problem of rising crime and the president’s popularity.

“The people don’t blame the president for this,” says Luis Vicente Leon, a director at Datanalisis.

Other problems such as the high and rising cost of living, unemployment and scarcity of basic goods – coffee is the latest item to have disappeared from supermarket shelves – are likely to have a bigger impact on the election result on November 23, Mr Leon argues.

Experts point to a number of reasons for Venezuela’s plight. High on the list is the fact that of over 6m arms circulating among a population of about 27m, some 4.5m are illegal, according to official estimates. Increased drug trafficking and usage combined with brutal gang warfare have exacerbated the bloodbath. Meanwhile, a corrupt and ineffective police force has so far done little to solve the problem, contributing to a general climate of impunity.

Mr Flores argues that gun crime is an inherited problem that started to become serious as long ago as the 1980s.

“You can’t change a country in just 10 years after 40 years of misrule,” he says.

Lillo Brancato Jr. 32, Brancato faces charges of second-degree murder and other crimes in the 2005 killing of police Officer Daniel Enchautegui.


Lillo Brancato Jr. 32, Brancato faces charges of second-degree murder and other crimes in the 2005 killing of police Officer Daniel Enchautegui. Jury selection for his trial begins Monday.Brancato's real-life troubles began not long after he befriended Steven Armento, a reputed low-level Genovese crime family associate banished for drug addiction, prosecutors say. Then his life went into a tailspin with a pair of drug-related arrests and the death of Enchautegui.
Brancato drove himself and Armento to the home of Enchautegui's next-door neighbor and the pair broke in to steal prescription drugs, prosecutors said. When they were confronted by Enchautegui, who was off duty, Armento shot the officer. Brancato and Armento were both wounded.Armento, 48, was convicted of first-degree murder Oct. 30 and was sentenced last week to life in prison without parole.Brancato's attorney, Joseph Tacopina, said his client's case is very different."Lillo didn't have a gun. Nor did he know anyone had a gun. Lillo was shot. Lillo wasn't burglarizing anyone's home," he said.Family and friends of Brancato have said he was a good guy with a drug problem who was in the wrong place at the wrong time."He obviously had problems he kept well hidden, but that doesn't mean he should be held accountable for the actions of the man he was with, especially if that man was under the influence," former "Sopranos" castmate Chris Tardio wrote in an e-mail.Brancato was discovered at age 15 at Jones Beach on a summer day by the casting director of "A Bronx Tale," directed by co-star De Niro.He worked consistently through his teenage years with small roles in "Crimson Tide," and "Enemy of the State," but he never became a huge star. He appeared in half a dozen episodes of "The Sopranos" as soldier Matt Bevilaqua in 2000; his character was killed off in the mob hit's second season.
Along the way, Brancato had befriended Armento while dating one of his twin daughters.In December 2005, prosecutors said, the actor and the older man decided while drinking at a strip club to break into the basement apartment in a hunt for Valium.Armento, who had a lengthy rap sheet dating to 1979 that included convictions for possession of stolen property and attempted burglary, was armed with a .357-caliber handgun.Enchautegui, who had just finished a late-night shift, heard glass breaking next door. He alerted his landlord, dialed 911 to report a possible burglary in progress, then grabbed his badge and a gun and went outside to investigate.Enchautegui shouted "Police! Don't move!" Shots were fired. Enchautegui was struck once in the chest. Armento was hit six times. Brancato, who was unarmed, was shot twice.Jurors in Armento's trial rejected prosecution arguments that he knew Enchautegui was a police officer, declining to convict him of first-degree murder of an officer. He was instead found guilty of first-degree murder while committing a felony.Brancato's attorney says he's not criminally responsible for the shooting.
"We're looking forward, after three long years, for Lillo to get his day in court," Tacopina said. "It's a tragic case, it's tragic in a lot of ways. But that doesn't mean he's behind the crime."Tardio wrote of the slain officer: "One life was already ruined. The jury will have the power to prevent that of another."

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Frank T. Gonzales was pronounced dead at a hospital after he showed up at a home in the 700 block of East 35th Street bleeding profusely

Frank T. Gonzales was pronounced dead at a hospital after he showed up at a home in the 700 block of East 35th Street bleeding profusely and asking for help, police said. Gonzales did not live in the neighborhood and did not know the person who lived at the home, police said. It is believed the crime occurred elsewhere.
The resident of the home called 911 around 12:30 p.m. and Gonzales was taken to a hospital. Gang detectives were working Friday to develop suspect information, according to a news release. The gang unit is handling the case because the victim had gang ties, although police would not say that the killing was gang-motivated, according to Officer Linda Galindo, a police spokeswoman.
Anyone with information

Four Albanian men aged between 23 and 35 have been arrested in Athens in connection with a turf war between rival drug gangs

Four Albanian men aged between 23 and 35 have been arrested in Athens in connection with a turf war between rival drug gangs that has led to 11 people being killed and 13 injured since September 2007, police said yesterday.The victims were murdered in various parts of Athens in what was a bloody war between 20 Albanians who had started off as a gang dealing in heroin, cocaine and cannabis.The gang broke up in 2007, leading to months of bloodletting between the rival factions. One of the factions was almost wiped out with only one member surviving, as he had been jailed on drugs charges.Police said that the suspects had a sizeable arsenal of guns in their possession as well as a total of some four kilos of various drugs.

Tijuana police said Saturday they had found a man's severed head bound in duct tape

Tijuana police said Saturday they had found a man's severed head bound in duct tape beside a sign threatening members of a gang he allegedly belonged to. Three other bodies, all with bullet wounds, were also found on Friday in Tijuana.
In the nearby city of Tecate, an investigative police officer was found shot to death, and the body on another man — apparently an assailant killed while attacking the officer — was found nearby.Also Saturday, Mexico's Defense Department reported that a regional military commander, Gen. Jorge Cardenas Canton, had committed suicide after suffering a sudden depression.Cardenas Canton commanded army troops in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Like all Mexican military officers, part of his duties included combating drug trafficking

Carmine Carini is back in jail, awaiting trial in a string of robberies

Carmine Carini is back in jail, awaiting trial in a string of robberies.
Federal prosecutors say the 49-year-old Brooklyn man was free for less than a year before running into trouble.A judge ordered him held without bail Friday. He faces charges that he posed as a police officer and then barged into two homes on Staten Island demanding money and drugs, pistol whipping one startled homeowner. He is also charged with robbing an illegal gambling parlor in Brooklyn.
Carini was initially arrested in connection with one of the robberies last month. An accomplice is still at large.Carini served 23 years in prison for a mob-related killing in the 1980s. His conviction was overturned after two Mafia turncoats told investigators they had the wrong man.He was freed in May of 2007 after taking a plea bargain in which he agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter in exchange for a sentence of time served."Approximately one year after this defendant gets out of prison, where he had been for over 20 years, he turns right back to a life of crime and begins committing these robberies," Assistant U.S. Attorney Berit Berger said Friday in court.Carini's attorney, Sanford Talkin, said his client maintains that he is innocent.

Jamaica experienced one of its most hellish days ever with the brutal gang rape of a mute woman

Jamaica experienced one of its most hellish days ever with the brutal gang rape of a mute woman, the slaying of three other women and the shooting of a fifth who was yesterday in hospital battling for life.The incidents shocked a country already jolted by a string of ruthless murders of children in recent weeks, the latest being that of 11-year-old Christopher Levi Suckra, a grade seven Petersfield High student whose naked, mutilated body was found Thursday morning in a canefield in Banbury,
Westmoreland. Police believe Suckra was also sodomised.
Yesterday's torment started when residents of the middle-class community of Mona in St Andrew found the mute woman naked and traumatised in their community.A resident gave the woman a sheet to cover herself while the police were called. The woman was taken to hospital where she was undergoing a series of tests yesterday.But while officers from the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) strongly suspect that the woman was raped, their investigations are being hampered as she cannot speak and was so shaken by her torture that she refused to use sign language when an expert was called in to communicate with her."She seems to be in shock. The poor thing would not even use sign language, so at this point we are moving slowly along with the investigation," an officer from CISOCA told the Observer yesterday.Police named the murdered women as Rosemarie Smith, also called 'Rasta', of Water Lane in Kingston; Shadel Holding-Witter, 40, of Kintyre in St Andrew; and 45-year-old Judith Lee.Smith was attacked at her home on Water Lane in Kingston about 4:00 am yesterday and shot several times. Her bullet-riddled body was found sprawled out in her yard, police said.Holding-Witter was also at home in the troubled Kintyre community when gunmen struck just before 7:00 am yesterday. Residents reported hearing a barrage of gunshots and when they went to investigate, the woman was found dead on her verandah. She was shot several times.Police say Lee was a prostitute who worked in the vicinity of Seymour Avenue in Kingston. Her badly bruised, nude body was found yesterday morning by residents who called the police. It also appeared that she was strangled, police said.The injured woman was shot by a gang of thugs who kicked in the door to the home she shared with her spouse, 76-year-old Rupert 'Papa' Jones, at John's Road in St Catherine early yesterday morning. Jones was shot and died on the spot.

East Tyrone Brigade of the IRA, the most lethal but least criminally corrupt element of the Provisional IRA during the three decades of Troubles

East Tyrone Brigade of the IRA, the most lethal but least criminally corrupt element of the Provisional IRA during the three decades of Troubles in the North, ignored its leadership orders and moved against drug dealers in Dungannon in September this year.The move followed the killing of Eamonn Hughes, 48, a local man who was stabbed to death after an evening of celebrations for his daughter Siobhan's 18th birthday. The working class housing estates in Dungannon, such as Lisnahull, where the Hughes family live, had become beset by the anti-social problems associated with heroin addiction in the recent years of the "peace process".This had never happened before in working class areas of the North, where paramilitary groups simply expelled or shot anyone using hard drugs. In the three years since the IRA stopped "punishment" shootings and beatings, heroin and other drugs have flooded into republican and loyalist areas.In places like Belfast, south Armagh and Derry, ex-IRA figures are lining their pockets from providing protection for the drug dealers. Tyrone is a different matter. The Tyrone IRA are old-fashioned, none from criminal backgrounds, and they had become increasingly angry at the influx of heroin into what had previously been largely safe places like Dungannnon.Two nights after the killing, the East Tyrone Brigade acted. In a classic decoy move, the local PSNI station was taken out of operation by a bomb scare -- using an entirely innocent party who found a suspected pipe bomb in his garden and brought it to the station. With police communications down, IRA units then simultaneously visited the homes of nine alleged drug dealers in the town. They were ordered at gunpoint to load up their families and possessions into their cars and leave the town. All did so.Heroin dealing has stopped in Dungannon, and so has much of the torment experienced by its inhabitants.
What the IRA did in Dungannon is illegal and cannot be condoned. But it is very hard to find a law-abiding citizen in the town or county who will condemn it. Heroin dealing, for years restricted to the inner city and troubled suburban estates of Dublin, has reached into every provincial town in Ireland. The killing of Eamonn Hughes was the last straw for the people of Dungannon. Every provincial paper in Ireland is now writing regularly about the social and criminal side-effects of heroin. Last week it was the turn of Kerry's Eye, which led with a story about two local men who had broken into the home of a bachelor farmer at Annascaul and stolen €2,000 to feed their heroin habit. The two drug addicts, Michael O'Driscoll, 29, and Keith Purcell, 34, burgled the farmer's home while he was out, stealing the money from the biscuit tin where he kept his cash. The two accused were given four weeks to pay the farmer €4,000 but when Purcell refused to do so, he was sentenced to 10 months' imprisonment. The grim reality is that heroin has now infected every part of Ireland and this has happened during the tenure of a Fianna Fail-led government which placed law and order as its number one priority. The Government did "deliver" on its promises of increasing the size of the garda force by 2,000 members to a record 14,000, providing whatever resources were sought and passing a raft of new criminal legislation, particularly during the tenure of Michael McDowell. It was McDowell who put forward the proposed legislation on allowing covert surveillance intercepts to be used in criminal cases -- legislation for which will come before the Cabinet on Tuesday.All this, however, has apparently done nothing to stop the mushrooming of heroin and other drug dealing in the State. It has singularly failed to stop the increasing violence of the gangs that supply the drugs. It did not prevent two young gangsters from pursuing Shane Geoghegan as he walked home in Limerick in the early hours of last Sunday morning and shooting him up to 15 times.
In the early part of last week, RTE commentators and guests were using the term "tipping point" about the murder of Shane Geoghegan -- comparing it to the murder of Veronica Guerin in 1996. The gang which murdered Shane Geoghegan was last week in the same situation in which John Gilligan's gang found itself in the aftermath of the murder of Veronica Guerin. There is massive public outrage. The identities of the gang leaders have been widely broadcast. Even the identities of the two young gunmen, one from Limerick one from Dublin, are well known to gardai and the people of Limerick. However, there the similarities might end.
In the immediate aftermath of Veronica's murder, the Government dithered, unsure what to do. At first there were vague promises of "crackdowns" on the gangsters but there was no action. The sense of public outrage grew and grew. Wreaths of flowers appeared on the railings outside the Dail. The palpable sense of anger forced the Government into action. They gave the green light to then Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne, who turned to his top investigator, Chief Superintendent Tony Hickey. He set his detectives to work and they methodically and remorselessly began to destroy John Gilligan and his gang. That point -- the direction to Hickey and his squad to go after Gilligan by whatever means necessary -- could be described as a 'tipping point'. The State followed up with criminal assets legislation, which has since become an international model for anti-organised crime operations.
The gang which murdered Shane Geoghegan are similar to John Gilligan's gang. They are uneducated petty criminals who have risen to power through the use of deadly violence against their opponents, including any innocent member of society prepared to give evidence or speak out against them. The Dundon-McCarthys countenance no opposition and have achieved the same status as the Gilligan gang in that they have been allowed to become a dominant force in the drugs trade. As Gilligan controlled the cannabis and cocaine trade in Dublin, so the Dundon-McCarthys control the trade of cocaine and heroin in Munster, reaching into the Dublin and even UK markets now.
With more resources at their disposal than ever before and the identical sense of public outrage throughout the country, there should have been evidence of some kind of 'tipping point' last week. If there was, it swung back the wrong way, in favour of the gangsters. The point may have come some time on Wednesday afternoon when the funeral of the captain of the Garryowen thirds rugby team finished. By teatime on Wednesday, RTE dropped Shane Geoghegan's murder as the lead item on its news bulletin. Strangely, it opted to lead its 5.30pm bulletin with raids by the PSNI on a network of apartments and houses in the North where herbal cannabis was being grown, an interesting story but not one of national importance.
This may be seen as the point at which Shane Geoghegan became an official statistic -- the 127th victim of gangland violence in the past decade for which the clearance rate stands at considerably less than 10 per cent. Last Monday and Tuesday, there were media appearances by Garda Commissioner Murphy, an assurance by Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern that "no stone would be left unturned", and a subdued debate in Dail Eireann on Thursday. A reported 20 houses in Limerick and Dublin were raided and a small amount of drugs recovered. There were no arrests. Embarrassingly, Limerick gang figure Ger Dundon, sought on a warrant since October for failing to appear in court on road traffic offences, handed himself in for committal on a 10-month prison sentence.

Jaime “El Hummer” Gonzalez Duran largest weapons seizure in Mexican history.

Mexican government carried out a number of operations in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, aimed at Jaime “El Hummer” Gonzalez Duran, one of the original members of the brutal cartel group known as Los Zetas. According to Mexican government officials, Gonzalez Duran controlled the Zetas’ operations in nine Mexican states. The Nov. 7 arrest of Gonzalez Duran was a major victory for the Mexican government and will undoubtedly be a major blow to the Zetas. Taking Gonzalez Duran off the streets, however, is not the only aspect of these operations with greater implications. The day before Gonzalez Duran’s arrest, Mexican officials searching for him raided a safe house, where they discovered an arms cache that would turn out to be the largest weapons seizure in Mexican history. This is no small feat, as there have been several large hauls of weapons seized from the Zetas and other Mexican cartel groups in recent years.The weapons seized at the Gonzalez Duran safe house included more than 500firearms, a half-million rounds of ammunition and 150 grenades. The cache also included a LAW rocket, two grenade launchers and a small amount of explosives. Along with the scores of assorted assault rifles, grenades and a handful of gaudy gold-plated pistols were some weapons that require a bit more examination: namely, the 14 Fabrique Nationale (FN) P90 personal defense weapons and the seven Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifles contained in the seizure.
As previously noted, the FN Five-Seven pistol and FN P90 personal defense weapon are very popular with the various cartel enforcer groups operating in Mexico. The Five-Seven and the P90 shoot a 5.7x28 (5.7 mm-by-28 mm) round that has been shown to be effective in penetrating body armor as well as vehicle doors and windows. Because of this ability to punch through body armor, cartel enforcers call the weapons “matapolicias,” Spanish for “cop killers.” Of course, AK-47 and M-16-style assault rifles are also effective at penetrating body armor and vehicles, as are large-caliber hunting rifles such as the 30.06 and the .308. But the advantage of the Five-Seven and the P90 is that they provide this penetration capability in a much smaller — and thus far more concealable — package.
The P90 is a personal defense weapon designed to be carried by tank crew members or combat support personnel who require a compact weapon capable of penetrating body armor. It is considered impractical for such soldiers to be issued full-size infantry rifles or even assault rifles, so traditionally these troops were issued pistols and submachine guns. The proliferation of body armor on the modern battlefield, however, has rendered many pistols and submachine guns that fire pistol ammunition ineffective. Because of this, support troops needed a small weapon that could protect them from armored troops; the P90 fits this bill. In fact, the P90 lends itself to anyone who needs powerful, concealable weapons. Protective security details, some police officers and some special operations forces operators thus have begun using the P90 and other personal defense weapons. The P90’s power and ability to be concealed also make it an ideal weapon for cartel enforcers intent on conducting assassinations in an urban environment — especially those stalking targets wearing body armor. The Five-Seven, which is even smaller than the P90, fires the same fast, penetrating cartridge. Indeed, cartel hit men have killed several Mexican police officers with these weapons in recent months. However, guns that fire the 5.7x28 mm cartridge are certainly not the only type of weapons used in attacks against police — Mexican cops have been killed by many other types of weapons.
While the P90 and Five-Seven are small and light, and use a small, fast round to penetrate armor, the .50-caliber cartridge fired by a Barrett sniper rifle is the polar opposite: It fires a huge chunk of lead. By way of comparison, the 5.7 cartridge is just a little more than 1.5” long and has a 32-grain bullet. The .50-caliber Browning Machine Gun (BMG) cartridge is actually 12.7mm by 99 mm, measures nearly 5.5” long and fires a 661-grain bullet. The P90 has a maximum effective range of 150 meters, whereas a Barrett’s listed maximum effective range is 1,850 meters — and there are reports of coalition forces snipers in Afghanistan scoring kills at more than 2,000 meters. The .50-BMG round not only will punch through body armor and normal passenger vehicles, it can defeat the steel plate armor and the laminated ballistic glass and polycarbonate windows used in lightly armored vehicles. This is yet another reminder that there is no such thing as a bulletproof car. The round is also capable of penetrating many brick and concrete block walls. We have heard reports for years of cartels seeking .50-caliber sniper rifles made by Barrett and other U.S. manufacturers. Additionally, we have noted many reports of seizures from arms smugglers in the United States of these weapons bound for Mexico, or of the weapons being found in Mexican cartel safe houses — such as the seven rifles seized in Reynosa. Unlike the P90s, however, we cannot recall even one instance of these powerful weapons being used in an attack against another cartel or against a Mexican government target. This is in marked contrast to Ireland, where the Irish Republican Army used .50-caliber Barrett rifles obtained from the United States in many sniper attacks against British troops and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
That Mexican cartels have not used these devastating weapons is surprising. There are in fact very few weapons in the arsenals of cartel enforcers that we have not seen used, including hand grenades, 40mm grenades, LAW rockets and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). Even though most inter-cartel warfare has occurred inside densely populated Mexican cities such as Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Nuevo Laredo — places where it would be very difficult to find a place to take a shot longer than a few hundred meters, much less a couple thousand — the power of the Barrett could be very effective for taking out targets wearing body armor, riding in armored vehicles, located inside the safe house of a rival cartel or even inside a government building. Also, unlike improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which the cartels have avoided using for the most part, the use of .50-caliber rifles would not involve a high probability of collateral damage. This indicates that the reason the cartels have not used these weapons is to be found in the nature of snipers and sniping.
Most military and police snipers are highly trained and very self-disciplined. Being a sniper requires an incredible amount of practice, patience and preparation. Aside from rigorous training in marksmanship, the sniper must also be trained in camouflage, concealment and movement. Snipers are often forced to lie immobile for hours on end. Additional training is required for snipers operating in urban environments, which offer their own set of challenges to the sniper; though historically, as seen in battles like Stalingrad, urban snipers can be incredibly effective. Snipers commonly deploy as part of a team of two, comprising a shooter and a spotter. This means two very self-disciplined individuals must be located and trained. The team must practice together and learn how to accurately estimate distances, wind speed, terrain elevation and other variables that can affect a bullet’s trajectory. An incredible amount of attention to detail is required for a sniper team to get into position and for their shots to travel several hundred meters and accurately, consistently strike a small target.
In spite of media hype and popular fiction, criminals or terrorists commit very few true sniper attacks. For example, many of our sniper friends were very upset that the media chose to label the string of murders committed by John Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo as the “D.C. Sniper Case.” While Mohammed and Malvo did use concealment, they commonly shot at targets between 50 and 100 meters away. Therefore, calling Mohammed and Malvo snipers was a serious insult to the genuine article. The assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the killing of Dr. Bernard Slepian, also have been dubbed sniper attacks, but they actually were all shootings committed at distances of less than 100 meters. Of course, using a Barrett at short ranges (100 meters or less) is still incredibly effective and does not require a highly trained sniper — as a group of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agents found out in 1993 when they attempted to serve search and arrest warrants at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. The agents were met with .50-caliber sniper fire that ripped gaping holes through the Chevrolet Suburbans they sought cover behind. Many of the agents wounded in that incident were hit by the shrapnel created as the .50-caliber rounds punched through their vehicles.
While it is extremely powerful, the Barrett is however a long, heavy weapon. If the sniper lacks training in urban warfare, it might prove very difficult to move around with the gun and also to find a concealed place to employ it. This may partially explain why the Mexican cartels have not used the weapons more. Moreover, while the Zetas originally comprised deserters from the Mexican military and over the years have shown an ability to conduct assaults and ambushes, we have not traditionally seen them deploy as snipers. Today, most of the original Zetas are now in upper management, and no longer serve as foot soldiers. The newer men brought into the Zetas include some former military and police officers along with some young gangster types; most of them lack the level of training possessed by the original Zetas. While the Zetas have also brought on a number of former Kaibiles, Guatemalan special operations forces personnel, most of them appear to be assigned as bodyguards for senior Zetas. This may mean we are not seeing the cartels employ snipers because their rank-and-file enforcers do not possess the discipline or training to function as snipers. Of course, criminal syndicates in possession of these weapons still pose a large potential threat to U.S. law enforcement officers, especially when the weapons are in the hands of people like Gonzalez Duran and his henchmen. According to an FBI intelligence memo dated Oct. 17 and leaked to the media, Gonzalez Duran appeared to have gotten wind of the planned operation against him. He reportedly had authorized those under his command to defend their turf at any cost, to include engagements with U.S. law enforcement agents. It is important to remember that a chunk of that turf was adjacent to the U.S. border and American towns, and that Reynosa — where Gonzalez Duran was arrested and the weapons were seized — is just across the border from McAllen, Texas. Armed with small, powerful weapons like the P90, cartel gunmen can pose a tremendous threat to any law enforcement officer who encounters them in a traffic stop or drug raid. Over the past several years, we have noted several instances of U.S. Border Patrol agents and other U.S. law enforcement officers being shot at from Mexico. The thought of being targeted by a weapon with the range and power of a .50-caliber sniper rifle would almost certainly send chills up the spine of any Border Patrol agent or sheriff’s deputy working along the border. Armed with assault rifles, hand grenades and .50-caliber sniper rifles, cartel enforcers have the potential to wreak havoc and outgun U.S. law enforcement officers. The only saving grace for U.S. law enforcement is that many cartel enforcers are often impaired by drugs or alcohol and tend to be impetuous and reckless. While the cartel gunmen are better trained than most Mexican authorities, their training does not stack up to that of most U.S. law enforcement officers. This was illustrated by an incident on Nov. 6 in Austin, Texas, when a police officer used his service pistol to kill a cartel gunman who fired on the officer with an AK-47.
While the arrest of Gonzalez Duran and the seizure of the huge arms cache in Reynosa have taken some killers and weapons off the street, they are only one small drop in the bucket. There are many heavily armed cartel enforcers still at large in Mexico, and the violence is spreading over the border into the United States. Law enforcement officers in the United States therefore need to maintain a keen awareness of the threat.

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