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Sunday, 13 December 2009

Metro Gang Strike Force

members of the Metro Gang Strike Force attended a six-day conference in Hawaii, using nearly $17,000 in forfeited money that had been seized by the Strike Force in the course of its work.That turned out to be the first of many exclusive stories that Furst reported this year examining questionable practices within the Gang Strike Force. His reporting ultimately contributed to the decision to shut the organization down.Furst reported, along with Lora Pabst, how officers seized $4,500 in cash from Dagoberto Rodriquez Cardona in 2008 when Cardona went to claim a car from an impound lot, without ever documenting that the money had been seized. Cardona later filed suit, illustrating that the cash was money he and three others had earned through work, not drugs.We learned, through Furst's reporting, that seizing cash, cars, TVs and other property without proper documentation had become common practice on the force, first to help fund the work during tough days, and occasionally to enhance the lifestyles of some police officers.Furst also broke the story, ahead of everyone else, that Strike Force commander Chris Omodt had closed the unit in late May after discovering that officers had been shredding documents prior to an investigation into Strike Force activities.Today, Furst and Paul McEnroe take you behind the scenes to explain the meltdown of this organization, one of the biggest failures of crime enforcement in recent Twin Cities history. Their exhaustive reporting shows how something that began as a successful, upstanding crime-fighting organization eventually went rogue.

“M62 Gang” - 4 females in their mid 30s to early 50s

criminal gang who stole over £300,000 of designer clothes, including £9,000 from Wigan stores are now behind bars, thanks to officers from the Wigan Business Crime Partnership. The “M62 Gang” - 4 females in their mid 30s to early 50s - have been operating across the North West shoplifting from high end designer womenswear stores, taking up to £5000 worth of clothes on each visit. A specialist officer, working with Wigan Council on behalf of Wigan’s Business Crime Partnership, was instrumental in securing the gang members’ arrests after undertaking surveillance in the town centre. That officer shared information about the gang’s activities in Wigan with colleagues across the region, which was crucial to the police arresting the four women in York last month. Cllr Kevin Anderson, the cabinet champion for safer communities, says: “This is an excellent result for the close teamwork of the Crime Partnership. Their work must remain confidential, but we can all be grateful that this gang has been stopped in its tracks, stealing from local shops who are working hard in the grip of a recession.” The specialist officer had been gathering evidence that the women had been coming to Wigan since August. Carol Ramsey, Lorraine Matthews and Collette and Debbie Ryan had been in town for six days a week, systematically targeting some of the top retail names in the town centre.
The four women were sentenced at Manchester Crown Court last week, with Carol Ramsey and Lorraine Matthews each receiving 14 months. Collette Ryan was jailed for 10 months and Debbie Ryan for 6 months. The Crime Partnership was set up in 2001 in Wigan. It works to co-ordinate intelligence about criminal activities between Wigan’s day time and evening economies, Robin Retail Park and Ashton town centre, linking in with the council’s CCTV network. Images of known offenders are circulated amongst members as part of the group’s intelligence gathering operations. Violent crime in Wigan town centre reduced by 31 per cent last year and the team have won a number of industry awards.Cllr Anderson adds that the partnership wasn’t created because of any increase in crime. “Wigan remains to be one of the safest places to live, work and visit in Greater Manchester,” he says. “By maintaining and improving the standards of crime reduction, we can ensure even better and safer environment for businesses, residents and visitors.”

Martin Hamilton attempt was made to gouge a man's eye out with a spoon and Hamilton also tried to cut a man's finger off with a knife.

Martin Hamilton is preparing for early release after nine years of a life sentence.

And a source told the Sunday Mail: "There will be a few people dreading the day he walks out of prison a free man."

Hamilton was flanked by two guards as he called on his mother for tea and biscuits on a home visit from Shotts Prison.

He watched l ive coverage of the UK Snooker Championship at the old lady's Glasgow flat on Thursday before emerging at 3.15pm.

He was then driven back to Kerr House, a low-supervision wing at Shotts.

Ultra-violent Hamilton was jailed for life in 2000 for a catalogue of offences , including abduction, torture and drug-dealing.

He was ordered to serve at least nine years before he could apply for parole.

But the 49-year-old heroin baron and bank robber is now confident he'll be out soon after he was granted the right to enjoy two-hour home visits.Our source told us: "Hammy can't wait to get out of prison."He's been inside for a long time now and knows each day is a day closer to freedom."All he has to do is keep his nose clean and stay out of trouble."The home visits are the start of the process for Hammy and he chooses to go and visit his mum."She's getting on, and Hammy going to visit her is easier than her having to make the journey to Shotts."Hamilton was the most notorious gangland figure in Scotland during a reign of terror which lasted almost 20 years.Before justice finally caught up with him, he walked free from TWELVE High Court indictments for crimes, including possession of firearms, a shooting, serious assault and robbery.Cases against him fell apart after witnesses were too afraid to give evidence against him, and preferred to be jailed for contempt of court instead.
But Hamilton was finally sent down at the High Court in Inverness - as armed police guarded every exit in the court building.Terrified witnesses were put in pol ice protection schemes and a news blackout on the trial was imposed.
Hamilton, of Anderston, Glasgow, was convicted of ordering the kidnap and torture of victims from the Edinburgh drug scene.Detectives say he was trying to take control of the capital's drug trade. Local dealers d ived for cover when he based himself in the capital 's Broomhouse area.Hamilton was found guilty of 14 charges, including several torture offences. Victims were set on fire, scalded with boiling water or stabbed in the face.In one horrific incident, a young couple were ordered to be stabbed in a bath so they wouldn't bleed all over the carpet of the flat where they were being held hostage.An attempt was made to gouge a man's eye out with a spoon and Hamilton also tried to cut a man's finger offwith a knife.Hamilton was also convicted of being concerned in the supply of heroin and diazepam, threatening a man with violence and holding a knife to another man's throat and threatening to kill him.He was acquitted over the abduction of two men and offering them money for sex.Passing sentence, Lord Kingarth said: "You showed yourself capable of taking sadistic pleasure in the infliction of pain and the inspiration of real terror over long periods.
"You pose a substantial danger to the public."Hamilton's co-accused, David Henderson, was jailed for six years.A third accused, Martin Byrne, 28, who gave evidence against Hamilton, admitted stabbing the teenage girl and boy in the face and was jailed for just three years.Hamilton had already served a nine -year sentence for trying to rob the Dunferml ine Bui lding Society in Anniesland, Glasgow in 1992.And in 1990, he abducted notorious gangster Paul Ferris off the street.
He bundled Ferris into a car on the orders of crime lord Arthur Thompson Snr, but released him when Thompson had a change of heart.Our source said: "Police were popping champagne when Hammy was sent down. They'd waited years to see him put away.
"Now they'll be wondering if they'll have to do it all over again when he gets out."

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Nearly 10,000 gang members fight for control of these streets. The result: A war zone with a murder every three days

“Oakland, California,” intoned the narrator as the images flickered across the screen. “Nearly 10,000 gang members fight for control of these streets. The result: A war zone with a murder every three days.”The program was the second installment of a two-part documentary that aired in September. The first part had focused on African-American gangs in Oakland; this one explored Latino gangs and their territories by following the Oakland Police Department’s gang unit and the 9400 Boys, a small group in East Oakland. The conclusion of the show was the revelation that one of the 9400 Boys had been murdered; their leader, Javier, made a decision to kill whoever was responsible.“The cycle of violence continues,” the narrator said. “In Oakland, revenge is a promise all the time.” The credits rolled.
Park turned off the TV and looked up at the 15 guests seated in a cozy circle of chairs and couches: There was the man who lived downstairs, the older woman who moved from Atlanta last year, the baby-faced ex-gang member who grew up in Oakland, and the middle-aged mom who had raised her family here. Earlier, during the introductions, this mom had told the group, “Sometimes I love and hate Oakland at the same time,” and in the silence that came over the room after the TV went off, this contradiction seem to hang in the air.“As I drive around, I don’t feel the sense that I get from this documentary,” said Damond Moodie, who owns the preschool Park’s daughter attends. “I just feel that it has to be said that Oakland is not the seedy underbelly with 10,000 gang members that they make it out to be.”
“That’s true, but it’s getting worse,” said a young man named Ambrose. “Kids are getting crazier.”“I think it’s the United States is going though a recession and there’s all kinds of intangibles,” Moodie replied.Gangs are a complicated reality in Oakland, a city haunted by violence and the negative reputation that comes with it. But this fall, the nationwide broadcast of “Gang Wars: Oakland” added a new layer of complexity to many viewers’ already complicated feelings about what that violence means and how outsiders perceive it.The shows have prompted discussion on message boards and analysis by Chip Johnson in the Chronicle. There is even an after-school group of East Oakland high school students called the Raza History Through Film Club who watched the programs together and are working on their own student documentary to set the record straight.Back in Andrew Park’s living room, no one debated the seriousness of gang violence in Oakland, but the tone of the programs—particularly narration that called Oakland a “war zone” and compared the city to Iraq—struck many as sensational. Some felt the program made it look like violence was everywhere and could strike any part of the city at any time. Others questioned the assertion that the city had “10,000 gang members,” a number the Oakland police department estimates at closer to a few thousand. The Discovery Channel has since changed its figures, re-broadcasting the program with an updated number of 2,000.The small group of people who were interviewed for this article all watched “Gang Wars: Oakland” with the kind of curiosity one would expect them to have about a show that purports to hold up a mirror to their city. But these viewers—all of whom had some personal or professional connection to the show—felt different layers of emotion: disappointment, cynicism, sadness or recognition. If “Gang Wars: Oakland” held up a mirror, then it was a mirror with cracks and missing pieces. But looking in to it, they could still see fragments of their own experiences reflecting back at them.

17 percent increase in total gun crimes this year, and a doubling of punishment or "respect" shootings where the intent is not to kill.

17 percent increase in total gun crimes this year, and a doubling of punishment or "respect" shootings where the intent is not to kill. Nationally, 87 percent of people here believe gun crime is on the rise, with an even greater margin - 93 percent - who believe knife crime is increasing, perhaps fueled by a spate of youth stabbings last year that had parents purchasing body armor for their children.
Officials have pushed back, noting that this year's bump in crime still represents the second-lowest figure in the past five years. Though "respect" shootings doubled, that was from an original total of just 33. Total homicides are down for the year, following a 20-year low last year."We have a very, very low murder rate for a reason," said London Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse, who along with his boss, Mayor Boris Johnson, has angled to seize unprecedented control over the Metropolitan Police Department. "And the reason is that we take it very, very seriously."
In Britain, obtaining guns remains a challenge for criminals, and just 20 percent of firearms seized by police are working guns. Instead, criminals reconfigure starter pistols and replica guns, or smuggle weapons from Eastern European and Asian countries. If guns are hard to come by, officers say, ammunition is even more rare. Many shootings avoid a fatal result because the bullets are of such poor quality - spent shell casings repacked and recycled.

"At the end of the day, it's not the gun that's going to kill you - it's the ammunition. But they struggle knowing where to get the ammunition from," said Police Constable Matthew Broome. "So they have to get creative, and refilling a shell of a bullet means a bullet isn't as potent when it's fired from the gun."

But those who get their hands on guns and ammunition adhere to the same shoot-first mentality that afflicts many of America's urban streets, and the crimes that hit the news are often just as shocking and senseless.
In March, a shopkeeper was locking up his grocery store when a shooter on a motorbike zipped by and killed him in a case of mistaken identity. In October, a prominent gang member was shot while sitting in his Range Rover at a traffic light with his 5-year-old stepson beside him. In a killing that police believe was retaliatory, a 21-year-old man was fatally shot three days later as he played snooker at a social hall. With residents pleading for help, police initiated an armed patrol in North London - the kind that later would be condemned.
Police said they are concerned about the gun violence, but do not see a situation that begs breaking with the country's centuries-old tradition of unarmed police. An announcement in October by Scotland Yard that armed patrol units would "take to the streets of London" set off a flurry of anxiety among police advisers, politicians and commentators. One critic expressed "deep shock and horror," while others denounced the move as "totally unacceptable."Within days, police said the announcement had been made in error and reasserted their commitment to an unarmed agency that polices through consent rather than force.
"We just don't like the idea of carrying firearms on the streets of the United Kingdom," Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson said in a rare one-on-one interview. "We don't like it, the public don't like it, I don't like it, and actually the vast majority of cops don't want it."
That attitude toward guns is what fueled national fear about Manchester, an area of 2.5 million that is about 200 miles north. Neighborhood gangs' turf wars and retaliatory violence led the national press to dub it "Gunchester," and prompted formation of a task force called X-Calibre that targets efforts on intelligence-gathering and intervention in gang activity.X-Calibre's second-floor office sits in Manchester's traditionally highest crime area, the Moss Side, in a police station that has otherwise been closed for renovations. On the walls are mugshots of gang members, labeled with their nicknames. Red and blue bandanas hang over each group's section signaling their affiliation.Two of the major gangs have begun calling themselves Bloods and Crips, a nod of admiration for American gang culture; another is made up predominantly of Somalian immigrants. All are racially diverse.The beefs here are entrenched, passed down through generations, said Detective Sgt. Rob Cousen."Many of these gangs are family members - it's almost as if you're born into that family, you're under that umbrella," Cousen said. "It's difficult for lads to get out of that."Jerome Braithwaite, 20, is among those who know that violence is still a problem on Moss Side. His younger brother, Louis, was killed in January outside a betting hall in a drive-by shooting. Police say the incident elevated Jerome in the Fallowfield gang, with many wearing T-shirts memorializing Louis and urging retribution. The officers say Jerome, however, is conflicted.
"All this gun stuff, it's just rubbish, really. I want to get out of it," Jerome told a reporter while standing outside his home. Of the violence and retribution, he said, "It's just one big circle that keeps going round."
Police are trying to change those attitudes, and there are signs that X-Calibre's intervention is working. Until earlier this year, the city had a 16-month stretch without a killing and went the entire month of August without a "discharging," one of the ways police track crime here. Officials believed that was a first, at least in recent memory.

‘apprentice’ for the Hells Angels gang.

Police have arrested a third suspect in connection with the brutal attack on Alan Vestergaard, IT Factory chief executive Stein Bagger’s former business partner.
Bagger and another unnamed man have already been charged in relation to the attack on Vestergaard, who was severely beaten with a hammer in November 2008 at his home in the northern Zealand town of Farum. The third person charged is according to public broadcaster DR, an ‘apprentice’ for the Hells Angels gang.Police say DNA evidence from cigarette butts found at the scene led to the arrest earlier today.
The case of Bagger and IT Factory’s bankruptcy is one of the most spectacular corporate scandals in Denmark in modern times. Bagger admitted to fraud and forgery of 831 million dollars and in June he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for the crime.But Bagger has denied any involvement in the assault on Vestergaard. The incident took place just two days before Bagger left the country for Dubai, where he caught a flight to the US. He finally turned himself into police in Los Angeles after an extensive manhunt.Bagger was known to have connections to the Hells Angels, as leading member Brian Sandberg was once employed as his bodyguard.

Barrio Van Nuys street gang has been claiming a version of the New York Yankees’ interlocked NY logo

Barrio Van Nuys street gang has been claiming a version of the New York Yankees’ interlocked NY logo as its own.By trimming the tail off the ‘Y,’ the famous Major League Baseball trademark is turned into an interwoven VN, standing for Van Nuys. The gang is touting its Yankee-esque symbol on social networking Web sites and YouTube.It’s just one example of what law enforcement say is an increasing trend among gangs to use cyberspace to broaden their appeal, boast of illegal exploits, pose threats and recruit new members.And more than ever, prosecutors are scouring sites like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter for potential evidence in gang-related criminal cases.“Five years ago we would find evidence in a gang case on the Internet and say, ‘Wow.’ Well, there’s no more ‘Wow’ any more. Sadly, it’s much more routine,” said Bruce Riordan, director of anti-gang operations for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office.Cyberbanging, as authorities call it, can provide prosecutors with the proof they need in criminal cases to demonstrate affiliation in a street gang – something typically denied by defendants at trial.“When the gang member has basically put his or her admission of gang membership up on the Internet, it can not only help prosecutors prove a case, it can also help us disprove a false defense,” said Riordan.George W. Knox, director of the National Gang Crime Research Center, said, however, that proving gang affiliation through cyberspace can be an arduous task. That is one reason he trains law enforcement officials how to cull intelligence on gang membership, rivalries, territory and lingo from their Internet posts.“Gangs are going to use any form of communication they can, including Twitter, including Facebook,” Knox said.“We don’t have any laws that prohibit them from doing this, and I don’t think we’re ready to bar them from the Internet.”
Attempts to contact numerous San Fernando Valley gang members for comment via e-mails through networking sites they use were unsuccessful.Los Angeles gang expert Alex Alonso said gang members are using networking sites more than before, but not necessarily to further criminal enterprises.“From my extensive experience, they use the Internet like any other person does – they’re just representing their neighborhoods and not trying to recruit,” said Alonso.

But law enforcement officials and youth counselors insist that young people who visit social networking sites to download music and pictures glorifying criminal street gangs can unwittingly set themselves up to be recruited by gangs.

Impressionable young people, say authorities, can sometimes be influenced by the secret handshakes, clothing and slang of gang cultures that are commonly found on Web sites created by or heavily used by gangs.

And it’s not just MySpace, Facebook and Twitter that parents should be concerned about, warned Douglas Semark, executive director of the Gang Alternatives Program, in San Pedro.“You can go into special areas of AOL, special areas of Yahoo or special areas of some of the other large Internet presences where (gang members) will go in and they’ll target specific topics and specific groups,” said Semark. “And kids may be in those areas with their parents’ blessing because the parents think they’re safe.
“And someone who is looking to victimize a specific individual will track them to those places and create false identities and false accounts.”
Two of the Valley’s fiercest gangs – Barrio Van Nuys and Canoga Park Alabama – have also used social networking sites to get around court injunctions secured by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office that forbid members from meeting in public, law enforcement officials say.
For many Valley gangs, MySpace – though passe in the era of Twitter and Facebook – appears to be the Internet social network of choice to glorify their lifestyle. Alonso said he believes gangs prefer MySpace because it is easier to search for and find other gang members on the site than others.
Representatives for MySpace and other popular networking Internet sites, which have come under criticism for their availability to gangs, did not return calls.
On MySpace, the 818 Gangland Musik Page offers free-streaming MP3s and song downloads that authorities say attract young Web surfers.
Among photographs posted by gang members are pictures of assault weapons and bullet-proof vests over a white T-shirt with the impression “Pacoima 818″ and of San Fernando gangbangers wearing San Francisco Giants garb with the famous interlocked SF logo of that team, which they have adopted as their own.Spokespersons for both the Giants and the Yankees said logos and trademark issues are handled by Major League Baseball, Inc., and that they have alerted officials at the league.A Yankee spokeswoman said that organization is especially concerned about seeing gang Web sites showing the lookalike NY trademark with guns sticking out of the logo.
Given the anonymous nature of the Internet, though, authorities say it is almost impossible to determine whether a posting has come from actual gang members or wannabes.Law enforcement officials say gangs’ use of the Internet has forced authorities to become skilled at reading between the lines of gang postings, looking for clues and hidden meanings of words and symbols.“To understand any subculture – Al-Qaida, cults, devil worshippers or gangs – you have to be able to know their own language and what they are saying,” said Knox of the National Gang Crime Research Center. “It takes time to study gang (Web) sites and blogs and pick up on subtle word choices, but that’s important.
“These are holy words to these gangs.”

sentenced Jamal Shakir of the Rollin' 90s Crips for his role in arranging drug deals and killings

sentenced Jamal Shakir of the Rollin' 90s Crips for his role in arranging drug deals and killings, and executing power over a gang enterprise authorities say stretched from Los Angeles to Nashville.On Monday, the 34-year-old Shakir wore a yellow prison jump suit and was shackled at the wrists and ankles. Several U.S. Marshals guarded him in the courtroom.Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunny A.M. Koshy told the judge that officials found a handwritten note in Shakir's cell Monday morning with instructions on how to get out of handcuffs. Koshy said authorities have found letters Shakir wrote in the past few months calling for people to be killed and urging fire bombings.Several family members of the victims testified Monday about losing their loved ones. Thea Gibson said her daughter, Shannon, who was killed in 1996, will never know the joy of raising her two children — now 17 and 21.
"You left my grandchildren without a mother," Gibson said. "You are the punk that you are. I want the maximum for what my family has gone through and others because of his manipulative enterprise."Shakir then interrupted the witness to tell the judge he didn't want to be there."Excuse me your honor, but I shouldn't have to hear this again," Shakir said of the testimony, which was also given at his trial earlier this year. "I've heard it hundreds of times."When Nixon told Shakir he needed to listen, Shakir threatened to keep interrupting, but made only one more comment, saying, "You don't know me."Loretta Johnson spoke somberly of losing her youngest daughter, Regina, also in 1996. According to trial testimony, Regina was shot to death in her bed and her decomposed body was discovered about 10 days later. Her 3-year-old daughter was shot in both elbows and survived by drinking toilet water, prosecutors said.Johnson said that little girl, now 16, still has occasional nightmares but has managed to get on with her life."She's the miracle in our family," Johnson said.James Pilcher, the father of a Crip gang member whose killing was ordered in 1997, said he's become an ordained minister since the death of his son, Woody. Pilcher said he's asked God to forgive Shakir's sins, but he often reflects on the life his son could have had.
"Woody got the death penalty, and I got the possibility of life without parole," Pilcher said. "I have to go through this every day of my life."
Before the sentencing, Nixon gave Shakir an opportunity to speak, and he painted himself as the victim of "political aspirations" by Koshy, the lead prosecutor.
"If everybody say they're looking for justice, I say they're looking in the wrong place," Shakir said.Koshy responded that Shakir was once again being manipulative and that "nothing the defendant says can take ... away from what he did."

"This defendant is evil," Koshy said.

Koshy said the Federal Bureau of Prisons will decide where Shakir will be housed.
In October, a federal grand jury indicted two people on charges they plotted to steal a helicopter to help Shakir escape.Prosecutors claim the two conspired between June and September to find a helicopter, direct street gang members to restrain the aircraft's owner and then take it

Bloods street gang accused of a gang-hit slaying

One of three alleged members of the Bloods street gang accused of a gang-hit slaying was brought to Lackawanna County Court on Monday under heavy security to enter a guilty plea to first-degree murder.The deal fell apart after Jeffery Future asked for more time to review hundreds of pages of documents investigators had compiled against him.Though Mr. Future had agreed to plead guilty, he told Judge Carmen Minora, through his attorney, he first wants to review the 600 to 700 pages of documents police have assembled in their investigation into the death of Allen Fernandez, another Bloods member, whose body was found July 30, shot 12 times with several different weapons on Snake Road in Ransom Twp.First Assistant District Attorney Gene Talerico said after the aborted court hearing that Mr. Future "indicated he wanted additional time to contemplate his decision to enter a plea to first-degree murder, to honor the agreement he made with the commonwealth."
Beside asking for more time, Mr. Future's attorney, James Elliott, said he wants investigators to stop reading Mr. Future's mail. Mr. Talerico said the court has already ruled on the issue."We filed a motion with the court and the motion was granted," Mr. Talerico said.Judge Carmen Minora said he would allow Mr. Future and Mr. Elliott "six or seven weeks" to review the documents.Outside the courtroom, Mr. Elliott said he only received the documents last week through a process called "discovery." He also said Judge Minora said he would rule on the request about the mail after Mr. Elliott files a motion.Mr. Future, 25, was arrested along with Christian Kenyon, 17, and Tonie Future, 18, who were students at West Scranton High School. According to court documents, the Future brothers said they were ordered to kill Mr. Fernandez because he was disloyal within subsets of the Bloods street gang. Police say all three suspects allegedly shot Mr. Fernandez. The gang member who allegedly ordered the execution-style murder has not been identified.Before sending Mr. Future back to prison, Judge Minora gave him a warning about any possible future delays in courtroom proceedings.
"I won't let you run the show here," Judge Minora said. "I will be reasonable, to a point."If Mr. Future still has not decided whether he wants to enter a guilty plea, Judge Minora said, "Then I will set a trial date."By pleading guilty to first-degree murder and not going to trial, Mr. Future would escape a possible death sentence, which a jury could impose if it found him guilty of first-degree murder, Mr. Talerico said.

Anh-Tuan Dao Pham, 19,has been sentenced to prison for 39 years to the rest of his life for shooting and killing a 17-year-old youth

Sacramento gang member has been sentenced to prison for 39 years to the rest of his life for shooting and killing a 17-year-old youth who was walking along the street near the Wildhawk Golf Club almost three years ago.Anh-Tuan Dao Pham, 19, received the term Thursday from Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy W. Frawley for the Feb. 22, 2007, shooting murder of Dominique Hickman, 17.Pham's term also includes time on an additional attempted murder conviction for shooting and wounding two people in the unincorporated south area less than an hour after he killed Hickman.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Notorious French serial killer Charles Sobhraj, serving time in a Kathmandu prison for the murder of two western holidaymakers, could be out of jail

Notorious French serial killer Charles Sobhraj, serving time in a Kathmandu prison for the murder of two western holidaymakers, could be out of jail in February, his lawyer said.Sobhraj was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of two backpackers — Canadian Laurent Ormond Carriere, 26, and Connie Bronzich, 29, of California, United States — in the Himalayan state in 1975.“Prosecutors don’t have a single (piece of) evidence against Charles to show that he entered Nepal to kill. For the past 30 years, they are trying to establish evidence. Now his only charge is about false passport.“We have a very strong case and, sure, he will be freed by February next year,” Shakuntala Thapa, one of Sobhraj’s lawyers, told Bernama in a telephone interview from Kathmandu.

Nicknamed the “bikini killer”, the flamboyant globe-trotting Frenchman, who often preyed on young western tourists touring Southeast Asian capitals, allegedly committed at least 12 murders between 1972 and 1976.
But investigators across the world believe numerous other murders have gone unreported.
After a string of arrests and escapes from high-security prisons from Bangkok to Kabul for alleged crimes — from possessing fake passports, drug dealings, gemstones smuggling to murders — Sobhraj was finally arrested in New Delhi in July 1976 for drugging French tourists and robbing jewellery from a hotel.In 1986, he escaped from India’s Tihar prison by drugging the prison guards but was rearrested by Indian police months later, and he stayed behind bars until 1997.
After his release, Sobhraj returned to France and suddenly emerged in Kathmandu in 2004, where he was arrested while holidaying.The 65-year-old Sobhraj was born Gurmukh Sobhraj to an Indian father and a Vietnamese mother and became a French citizen after his mother remarried, to a French national.Last year, while in prison, he married 20-year-old Nihita Biswas, his interpreter and the daughter of his lawyer Shakuntala, in a simple Nepali ceremony.Sobhraj has also earned another nickname, “the serpent”, for his tact in deceiving authorities and staging daring prison breakouts.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Copenhagen scene of a full-blown gang war that the government admits it is powerless to end.

Copenhagen, renowned for its fairytale palaces and Little Mermaid, has for more than a year been the scene of a full-blown gang war that the government admits it is powerless to end.Daily police patrols, raids and harsher sentences for gang-related crimes have failed to quell the wave of drive-by shootings, execution-style killings, and grenade attacks that have rocked the Danish capital and its suburbs since August 2008.Although Denmark is no stranger to gang wars after dealing with clashes between rival biker gangs Hells Angels and Bandidos in the 1990s, this upsurge of violence - pitting biker gangs against youths of immigrant origin - has spiralled out of the authorities' control."I am asking everyone for help and good advice," Justice Minister Brian Mikkelsen implored, talking directly to citizens his plea for ideas to bring a halt to the bloody conflict.Copenhagen's spiral of violence started in August 2008 when an armed man of Turkish origin was executed on the street, his body riddled with 25 bullets by a member of Hells Angels spin-off AK81.At times played out in broad daylight, the conflict has claimed seven lives and wounded 60 people since then, some of the dead and wounded being innocent bystanders.
In October alone, nine attacks shook the ordinarily calm, seaside capital, including its posh and residential areas.Authorities say the conflict originally stemmed from the desire to control territory for the sale of both hard and soft drugs but that it is increasingly fuelled by vengeance, with each clan avenging its own losses.
This war is much deadlier than the 1990s biker feuds, and Mikkelsen said it "could only be stopped by society."More than 300 Danes have sent tips on how to stop the conflict to Mikkelsen by email, the minister said, while even the United States has offered help."We have some expertise in the area of gangs ... And if we can offer some assistance or training that would be beneficial, we would be happy to do that," US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told reporters after talks with Mikkelsen in Copenhagen.The minister announced a series of meetings where his country, a normally peaceful country of 5,5 million inhabitants, hopes to learn from the United States how to deal with urban violence.So far, Mikkelsen's hardline anti-gang plan seems nowhere near putting an end to the bloodshed."We cannot control this absurd and infernal cycle of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," chief police inspector Per Larsen admitted.He says it is a "miracle" that the conflict has not claimed more victims, but insists that police have not surrendered and that Copenhagen still "isn't Chicago in the 1930s."But a Gallup poll has suggested more than eight of 10 people in Denmark do not believe police will be able to stop the conflict, with many Danes, consistently ranked among the happiest people on earth, fearing for their own safety.
"Those gangs should face-off and kill each other once and for all so we can finally live in peace," says Inger, a woman in her 70s.A founding Hells Angels member was injured by two youths of immigrant origin in an attack in broad daylight in the suburb where she lives.
"The Hells will avenge the attack, and the spiral of violence will continue," said Yavuz Ilmaz, a 28-year-old Dane of Turkish descent, of the incident.
Despite the authorities' best intentions and promises, Ilmaz judged "insane" how easy it was to obtain illegal weapons in Copenhagen, and suggested stronger measures to stop the gang war."Putting cameras up everywhere like in London and legalising hash like in the Netherlands" could halt the drug trade and the violence, giving Copenhagen a chance to return to calm, Ilmaz proposed. - AFP

Mike Tyson allegedly hit a photographer at Los Angeles International Airport

Mike Tyson allegedly hit a photographer at Los Angeles International Airport and was detained on suspicion of battery Wednesday, police said.The paparazzo told police that the former heavyweight boxing champion struck him once, airport police spokesman Sgt. Jim Holcomb said. The photographer fell to the ground and was treated for a cut to his forehead at a hospital.Tyson's spokeswoman Tammy Brook said the boxer was traveling with his wife and 10-month-old child Wednesday afternoon when he was attacked by an overly aggressive paparazzo. He acted in self-defense to protect his child, she said.Tyson and the unnamed photographer both want to press charges for misdemeanor battery, police said."There's a lot of different versions to this story and that's all going to come out later," Holcomb said. "Some witness statements support Tyson's version, others support the photographer's."Paparazzi often camp out at Los Angeles' largest airport to get shots of celebrities in transit.Tyson was cooperative as he waited in a holding cell at the airport police station, Holcomb said. He will be booked and released later. The photographer will also be booked once he is released from the hospital, police said.Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion ever in 1986 when he won his title as a 20-year-old. But his life since then has been marred by accusations of domestic violence, rape and cocaine use.Tyson was convicted of rape in Indiana in 1992, serving three years in prison. He was disqualified from a 1997 heavyweight title fight when he bit off part of Evander Holyfield's right ear, and in 1999 he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault charges in Maryland.In 2003, Tyson filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. He served 24 hours in an Arizona jail in 2007 after pleading guilty to cocaine possession and driving under the influence.

Staten Island gang war that has claimed the lives of four men

Staten Island gang war that has claimed the lives of four men so far this month has gotten so intense that members of the Bloods are apparently skipping town to stay safe. According to the Daily News, the internal squabble between Bloods members from New Brighton and those from Port Richmond and Mariners Harbor turned deadly on Nov. 7, when an argument over a girl lead to the shooting of Jermaine "Big Den" Dickerson in an Arlington housing development. The next week, Earl Mangin — who allegedly drove the getaway car in Dickerson's shooting — was gunned down in front of his home. Those murders might be linked to the Nov. 16 drive-by shooting of Kameek Sears, who was found dead in a white Lexus in Arlington. Two days later, 18-year-old Kyre Henderson — who is suspected of being a passenger in the car during the Sears drive-by — was found dead in South Beach.The Daily News reports that at least two Bloods have fled the city in fear that they would be the next targets. Police are trying to round up parolees and make more "quality-of-life" arrests to gain information about the gangs. "Right now we're dealing with bad guys, but we still don't want bad guys to get shot," said NYPD Asst. Chief Stephen Paragallo, Staten Island's borough commander. "And the last thing we want is good people, innocent people, to get shot — especially children." Let's hope the cops are checking Twitter regularly.


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