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Sunday, 31 August 2014

SCARFACE MURDER:A man identified as Amsterdam crime boss Samir B. was murdered in Benahavis, Marbella

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A man identified as Amsterdam crime boss Samir B. was murdered in Benahavis, Marbella in Spain on Wednesday. image: inmo-andalucia.com The 36-year-old, also known as “Scarface,” was killed in the Spanish town near Marbella on Wednesday afternoon, Het Parool reports.

 

News reports speak of a gangland execution. Samir B. was in the Monte Halcones mall in the picturesque mountain village around 2.00pm when he was shot multiple times in his back and head by two assailants. He was apparently shot on his way out of a storefront in the shopping center. Witnesses called the authorities, but the emergency services could do nothing to resuscitate him.

The Dutch-Moroccan victim from near Sloterdijk in Amsterdam West has been named in connection with sizeable drug deals. Crimesite.nl writes that he was the largest drug dealer in the city, and he actually marked his cocaine blocks with his own stamp. B. had relocated to Spain a few years back, but apparently his hold on the Amsterdam underground remained. Het Parool writes that B. had a long career in the underworld of Amsterdam West. He grew to be one of the biggest crime bosses in the city.   In June 2010 he was arrested there and extradited to the Netherlands, in connection with the death of 12-year-old Danny Gubbels in Breda; the boy died when someone opened fire on his parent’s trailer and B. was named. He was released after only a few days in prison here, for lack of evidence.   His execution in Benahavis is being investigated by the local police, as well as the Spanish military police force, Guardia Civil, and national police agents. Earlier this month, another of Amsterdam’s criminal leaders, Derkiaoui van der Meijden, was also killed in Amsterdam Oost.


Monday, 25 August 2014

240 kilos of cocaine have been found in the hull of a yacht in Huelva

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240 kilos of cocaine have been found in the hull of a yacht in Huelva Agents from the National Police, in collaboration with the United States DEA, have arrested six people; four in the province of Huelva and two in Madrid in the three searches carried out as part of the same operation. The investigation started at the beginning of April, when large amounts of cocaine has been arriving in Europe by sea, carried out by an international organisation. Further investigations revealed the head of the organisation is a Spaniard, who lives in Colombia, and who had returned to Spain recently, presumably, to coordinate a consignment of the drug. The rest of the organisation are all Colombian, and had the job of providing logistic support on land for the reception and extraction of the drug.


Marbella boxer ring return after trainer shot

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MATTHEW MACKLIN, the Marbella based boxer, whose proposed fight against Argentine fighter, Jorge Sebastien Heiland in a WBC eliminator on August 30 was postponed after his trainer, Jamie Moore, was shot in Marbella, is set for a swift ring return. His opponent is as yet unnamed, however, Macklin is expected to undertake his 36th professional bout next month on September 27, on the Felix Sturm - Paul Smith WBA middleweight ‘Super’ title fight undercard in Kiel, Germany. If as expected Macklin wins, the three-time world title challenger expects to be returning to Dublin for the Heiland fight on November 15. Macklin, hopes the Heiland fight will bring him a fourth shot at a world title, as promoter Eddie Hearn looks to guide him to the big title that has eluded him so far.


Irish teenager being held on attempted murder charge in Costa del Sol

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An Irish teenager is in custody on an attempted murder charge after a violent street fight on the Costa del Sol. The 17-year-old was part of a group of four Irish holidaymakers who got into a row over a girl during a night out in the upmarket resort of Puerto Banus near Marbella. His brother allegedly punched a friend unconscious before the teenager kicked him in the head as he lay on the ground. The victim was rushed to the nearby Costa del Sol Hospital before being transferred to a specialist centre in Malaga so he could be treated for “life-threatening” head injuries.

Doctors have told police he cheated death because of the rapid medical attention he received. The altercation happened around 3am on August 14 in a street a short walk from Puerto Banus port named after singer Julio Iglesias, who owns a house in mountains a short drive away. Investigators say they believe the four men, who had been out drinking together, rowed over a girl. Local police made the arrests at the scene after witnessing the assault from a distance. The injured man, who like the other three Irish holidaymakers involved has not been named, is now being treated in a normal ward after spending several days in an induced coma in intensive care. Police from a specialist anti-violence unit based in Malaga have led the investigation.

A youth court judge remanded the teenager to a young offenders’ institution after quizzing him in a closed court session. His brother, whose age is not known, has been released on bail but is thought to have had his passport taken away from him so he cannot leave Spain. A trial date has yet to be set. The Irish teenager is expected to be held for custody for several months before he is released ahead of trial. A source close to the case said: “The judge quizzed him on an attempted murder charge because medical experts who examined his alleged victim concluded the consequences of the assault could have been much more serious if he hadn’t received rapid medical attention.”


Friday, 22 August 2014

Climate change is gradually turning Spain into a fire zone

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Spain’s changing climate and economy fuels wildfire risks.Climate change is gradually turning Spain into a fire zone – and a change in the economic climate is inflaming the situation.

The combined forces of climate, economic and social change are leaving Spain increasingly exposed to the damaging and costly effects of wildfires.

A research group reports that a mix of factors is behind the rise in both the numbers of forest fires and the areas of land scorched over the last 40 years.

Vanesa Moreno, a researcher in the geography department at the University of Alcalá in Madrid, and colleagues studied the pattern of fires in Spain from 1968 to 2010.

Although Spain, like much of southern Europe, is expected to become more arid with global warming, and although some Mediterranean vegetation is adapted to − and even benefits from − natural fire outbreaks, the picture is not a simple one.

In the moister Atlantic north-west of the country, there are two fire seasons − at the end of winter, and in the summer. In the Mediterranean region, fires are more frequent in the long, hot summer.

 


Monday, 18 August 2014

Fire in Benahavis

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A fire has broken out in Benahavis, near Marbella. This photo was taken on the road between Estepona and San Pedro. The cause of the fire is still not yet known, but follows in the wake of a serious fire in Los Montes de Malaga exactly a week ago. The fire in Los Montes devestated 260 hectares of natural park. So far this year there have been 20 such fires in Malaga Province, which experts say is within the average range of annual fires.


Saudi prince's convoy in Paris attacked by gunmen

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Heavily armed men have attacked a convoy of cars belonging to a Saudi prince, stealing 250,000 euros (£200,000; $330,000), police say. The convoy was heading through northern Paris on its way to Le Bourget airport late on Sunday evening when it was raided, reports say. The gunmen seized a vehicle carrying the money and documents, later releasing the driver and two others. The convoy was said to have come from the Saudi embassy. No-one was hurt. The gunmen, reportedly armed with Kalashnikov rifles, targeted a Mercedes mini-van at 21:15 (19:15 GMT) on the northern ring road, or peripherique, at Porte de la Chapelle, on the edge of Paris.

The motorcade, belonging to a Saudi prince, was targeted by eight people in two separate vehicles who pointed their guns at the driver of the Mercedes, forcing him to stop, French media reported.

The men then drove the vehicle away with the driver and the two other Saudis inside. No shots were fired but the Saudis were later freed and the vehicle eventually found burned out.

"In the vehicle there was roughly 250,000 euros in cash and official documents from the embassy," police union spokesman Rocco Contento told BFM TV news.


There has been a weekend of terror for immigrants in Tangiers

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Immigrants who are waiting in Tangiers to cross into Spain have been attacked and their homes ambushed. The NGO’s at the scene fear the aggression against the Sub-Saharans will force them to try to cross the Strait to escape whatever the weather conditions.

The problem started on Friday near the Tangiers airport. The Sub-Saharan’s were told a bus was going to Spain and some 20 women and their children took up the offer. But the bus took them to a local dance festival of African culture called Twiza which was being held in Tangiers for some days. When they realised they had been fooled they returned home, and met a group of Moroccan men armed with machetes and sticks who started to hit them.

Five of the women suffered stab wounds and others suffered abuse. Spanish volunteer, Helena Maleno, was among them and believes the violence is being organised by criminal groups. She was sexually molested by one of the men. She said the Moroccans speech was always the same, ‘We want to clear up here, go to Spain’. Last year an immigrant died when he fell off a wall during a police raid, bringing charges of murderers against the police amid violent scenes as you can seen in the video below.


Monday, 28 July 2014

two sisters running a bakery in a desert

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The land in Los Monegros in Aragon in northeastern Spain, is almost as arid as a desert. In the 1960s, it was one of the backdrops chosen for spaghetti western films.

Yet for two twenty-something Spanish sisters, it has become the perfect place for their farming and bread-baking business.

Ana Marcen, the elder of the two, says she had no previous experience in agriculture.

"I studied Greek and Latin and used to work in an orchestra as a singer."

Her younger sister Laura used to work as a waitress and studied engineering.

Their business idea grew out of something their uncle told them - that in times gone by, the bread in this part of Spain tasted different.

It was a flavour he missed.

From seed to loaf

'For the seed we grow, the climate is perfect', two sisters explain why they started a bakery and are growing wheat in a Spanish desert.

The sisters say their uncle was "a very curious person, he used to ask himself why bread didn´t taste any longer as it used to."

They discovered that a type of wheat seed, known as Aragon 03, had been the secret behind the region's distinctly-flavoured bread.

They found an elderly couple who still had a small quantity of the Aragon 03 seed. The Marcens bought two bags of the seeds - and from that their business has grown.

The concept of their business is to control the entire bread-making process.

They grow the wheat, mill the flour and bake the bread, muffins and other bakery snacks.

"Unlike other traditional bakeries that just sell organic products, we control the whole process", says Laura.

A combine harvester in a wheat field Los Monegros may be very dry - but the Marcen sisters' wheat is well-suited to these conditions

'You must be mad'

They set up their business in 2007, just before Spain's economic and financial crisis hit.

They were able to get a bank loan of €250,000, ($335,000; £200,000) which they think would be harder to come by in today's post-recession climate.

In the first year, their business lost lots of money, but by the third year they broke even.

Now, seven years after they first started farming and baking, they own two bakeries and sell their products in eight others.

Whatever profit they make, they reinvest in their business as they want to expand and sell online.

"Many people told us we were crazy for trying to run a business like ours in a (dry) place like this. But we found out that the seed we grow is perfect for this climate", says Laura.

"People think that there is no life in Los Monegros, but in reality the region is rich in plants and wildlife.

"As my uncle used to say, you have to bend your knees and look closely. For example, I see opportunities where others don't."

A man buying baked goods in the company shopThe niche product has a loyal clientele which has been the key to the business turning a profit

Family idea, family business

From the very start, this was a family-run business.

Their father Daniel harvests the crop, their mother Mercedes, works in one of their shops, and their younger brother, Jesus, mills the flour and bakes the bread.


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Spain: Royals' plane food budget to double

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The Spanish Ministry of Defence has doubled its catering budget for a fleet of seven planes carrying Spanish royals, ministers and other senior officials, it seems. The government's congressional record has said the annual budget is going up to 133,000 euros (£105,000) from 65,000 euros the year before, news website 20minutos reports, adding that it's not unusual for officials to end up exceeding the budget. The website suggests the final bill for 2014 could come in at around 414,000 euros. Trays of peeled seasonal fruit, sirloin steak, Segovia suckling pig and Bilbao sea bass are among the 29 dishes on the menu - although it's reported that alcohol hasn't been served on board since 2012. Prices will be capped for some individual items - for example, the government won't pay more than 35 euros for a kilo of pecorino cheese - and some of the most expensive items have been taken off the menu altogether. The new budget comes amid a defence department review of the fleet's maintenance procedures following two recent breakdowns, and may consider renewing some of the aircraft in the fleet.


Saturday, 26 July 2014

Colombian cocaine smuggler gets 15 years

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A federal judge in Tampa sentenced a cocaine smuggler on Friday to more than 15 years in prison. U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. sentenced Luis Alberto Urrego-Contreras to 15 years and six months in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. In January 2005, Urrego-Contreras, who was known by the nickname “Bacon,” bought a Beechcraft King Air airplane from a St. Petersburg business. He bought the plane on behalf of Colombian cocaine trafficker Fabio Enrique Ochoa-Vasco, according to the federal court. In June 2005, the plan was for the plane to fly from Venezuela to Colombia to retrieve 2,000 kilograms of cocaine. But when the pilot saw the Colombian Air Force was monitoring the Colombian airstrip, the pilot flew back to Venezuela where the pilot and co-pilot were arrested, according to the federal court. In October 2010, Urrego-Contreras was arrested at the American Embassy in Bogota, Colombia, according to the federal court. He agreed to speak to agents where he identified Ochoa-Vasco in several photographs and others involved in the smuggling conspiracy, according to the federal court. Urrego-Contreras told investigators that he was paid $50,000 to $100,000 for each cocaine load. He admitted to investigators that he was responsible for 1,000 kilograms of cocaine that was flown from Colombia to Mexico and later distributed in the United States by Ochoa-Vasco, according to the federal court.


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Dream Warrior Recovery: Individual selfhood is expressed in the self's capacity for self-transcendence

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Dream Warrior Recovery: Individual selfhood is expressed in the self's capacity for self-transcendence

Individual selfhood is expressed in the self's capacity for self-transcendence and not in its rational capacity for conceptual and analytic procedures." Reinhold Neibuhr - Theologian/Author of the "Serenity Prayer"


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Tramps bikie club loses appeal to get back its guns because of link to Hells Angels Motorcycle Club

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MEMBERS of a small-town motorcycle club linked to the Hells Angels have failed in their appeal to retrieve their confiscated guns. A decision was handed down today by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal upholding a decision to cancel four Tramps bikies’ gun licences because of their membership and social associations with other gangs. The verdict comes almost a year after nine current and former members of the Tramps MC fronted the Firearms Appeal Committee, one of which is a mobile butcher, arguing that Victoria Police had no right cancel their licences. Club head Ronald Harding, who took leave to withdraw, butcher Michael Oxenham, Malcolm Dinsdale and David Windsor are now considering appealing the decision to the appeal court of the Victorian Supreme Court. In August 2012, Chief Commissioner Ken Lay made a controversial decision to seize more than 100 registered guns from members of “outlaw’’ bikie gangs across the state. The VCAT appeal, taken on by four Tramps members, was seen as a test case for other “outlaw’ bikie members who also had their gun licences cancelled. The guns were seized under the test to whether the licence holder was a “fit and proper’’ person.


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Spanish police have arrested a Colombian drug boss dubbed ‘The Mouse’, the alleged leader of a major cocaine smuggling gang accused of 400 killings

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Spanish police have arrested a Colombian drug boss dubbed ‘The Mouse’, the alleged leader of a major cocaine smuggling gang accused of 400 killings, officials said on Saturday. Officers arrested the 40-year-old, whose real name is reportedly Hernan Alonso Villa, in the eastern seaside city of Alicante on Friday, according to a police statement. He is considered ‘the top leader of the military wing of the Oficina de Envigado, a Colombian criminal organisation accused of 400 killings as well as drug-trafficking, extorsion and forced displacements of Colombian citizens’, it said. ‘He is one of the criminals most wanted by the Colombian authorities. He had more than 200 people under his command and was responsible for exporting cocaine to Spain, the United States and Holland,’ the statement said. Spanish officers arrested him under a Colombian extradition warrant for charges including alleged homicide and arms offences. He was carrying 40,000 euros ($54,000) in cash when he was caught, the statement said. Authorities say the ‘Oficina’ gang dates back to the 1980s when it carried out killings for the now-dismantled Medellin Cartel. Spain is one of the main entry points for illegal narcotics into Europe and Colombia is one of the world’s biggest sources of cocaine. Colombia produced 290 tonnes of cocaine in 2013, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.


Saturday, 12 July 2014

Alleged gang members in Santa Monica shooting charged with murder, accessory

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Two alleged gang members were charged with murder and attempted murder and a third was charged with being an accessory in a shooting near Santa Monica College on Tuesday that left one man dead and another hospitalized, according to the District Attorney's Office. Christopher Chonan Osumi, 19, and Meliton Lorenzo Lopez, 23, were charged with one count each of murder and attempted murder with gang allegations and could face up to life in prison if convicted. Noah Jason Farris, 32, was charged with being an accessory and faces up to seven years in prison, according to a statement released by the D.A.'s office. Osumi pleaded not guilty at an arraignment on Thursday afternoon. The arraignments for Lopez and Farris were continued to a later date, said Jean Guccione, a spokesperson for the D.A. Osumi is alleged to have shot two men multiple times with a handgun around 8:15 a.m. Tuesday in the 1500 block of Michigan Avenue. One of the victims, 29-year-old Santa Monica resident Gil Verastegui, died from his wounds. The other victim remains in the hospital. Bail was set at $3 million each for Osumi and Lopez and $500,000 for Farris. The next court date for all three is June 20 in Department 144 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court's Airport Branch. Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Barnes with the Hardcore Gang Division is prosecuting, according to a statement from the D.A.'s office.


Thursday, 26 June 2014

Mongol hordes descend on the Gold Coast as more patched bikies hit Glitter Strip

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ONE of America's most feared bikie gangs is eyeing off territory on the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast Bulletin captured exclusive images of patched members of the Mongols in Southport and the club is rumoured to be planning an audacious move to push into the lucrative Glitter Strip. Police fear another club muscling into the city limits could finally tip an already tense environment, with 10 clubs now vying for a slice of the party strip. Zero-tolerance or bikies will own the Coast Of the 10, seven have fortified clubhouses protected by elaborate security. The number of outlaw motorcycle gang members on the Gold Coast has skyrocketed, with up to a third of Queensland bikies now having a Gold Coast address. Queensland police union president Ian Leavers condemned the Mongol push, saying they "simply cause an increase in crime and scare away tourists". "As a community we need to tell these bikie thugs they are not welcome on the Gold Coast," Mr Leavers said. Tensions between clubs are high, with the brawl between the Finks and Nomads at last week's Cooly Rocks On festival the latest in a long run of violence. The two clubs insist there is no issue between the gangs, only "personal rivalries". A series of recent tattoo parlour fire bombings and an alleged drug-fuelled rampage have added to the outlaw friction. Senior police sources say the Mongols, sworn international enemies of the Hells Angels, have established a temporary base at Carrara, the heart of Rebels territory. The Rebels claim to be Australia's largest and strongest outlaw motorcycle gang and will not welcome any attempt to push into their turf, police said. Their clubhouse is based in Lawrence Drive, Nerang, close to Mongol-owned business interests. "The Mongols are a serious bike club," police said. "Look at their history. This club means business." Outlaw sources estimate the Mongols have about 70 patched members in Australia, with the NSW Central Coast being the club's stronghold. The Mongols MC website claims the club has several chapters in NSW, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Their push into the Coast coincides with moves to have the Finks declared a criminal organisation. It will be heard in the Supreme Court in October. The Gold Coast Bulletin forwarded the images to police bikie squad Taskforce Hydra, which refused to go into the Mongols' public presence for "operational reasons". The Mongol push into the Gold Coast follows the Hells Angels' move into Burleigh after years of aborted attempts. The Angels' low-key base in Lemana Lane, Burleigh, and other business interests were firebombed, but they have otherwise gone unchallenged. Neighbours said gang members were quiet and kept to themselves. It is believed previous efforts by the club to break into Australia had failed. "They have tried to push into a number of cities without much luck," outlaw sources said. "They seem to get a few members and then they go nowhere. They aren't much of a force in Australia, especially when you consider the size of the clubs in Australia." However, police fear the bitter enmity between the Mongols and Hells Angels could increase friction. "The Mongols are sworn enemies of the Hells Angels. In the US the club has a shoot-on-sight policy for any Hells Angels," police said. Violence between the two international clubs erupted at a casino in Nevada in 2002 in circumstances eerily similar to the Ballroom Blitz fracas on the Gold Coast in 2006 between the Hells Angels and Finks. The confrontation in Laughlin, Nevada, left three bikers dead and prompted a massive crackdown in the US. Mongols claim on their website they have received "massive support" in Australia. "We as a club have gone back to the true basic values of what a motorcycle club is and should be and that reflects on our brotherhood that we have with our support, love and respect for one another and for our passion of motorcycles is unheard of," the website states. "Mongols MC Australia would like to thank you for visiting our website and for your support and welcome you to the Mongol nation."


Friday, 1 March 2013

Gilbert Spiller operated from a South Side Chicago neighborhood that he and fellow gang members of the Black P Stone Nation called "Terror Town." Within the gang, he held the rank of "general."

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The 37-year-old pleaded guilty last year to two counts of selling crack cocaine and one of illegally selling a firearm. U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras sentenced Spiller in Chicago on Wednesday.

Prosecutors say Spiller has a criminal history that spans two decades. They say he joined the Black P Stone Nation in grade school and went on to become involved in at least a half-dozen shootings.





Friday, 21 September 2012

The four are young Indian Posse gang associates who conspired together to carry out the robbery, while making careful efforts to avoid detection by disguising themselves and wearing socks over their hands to not leave behind fingerprints.

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The general public would be shocked and its confidence in the justice system undermined if a 13-year-old street gang member accused of being the “planner” in an alarming robbery-conspiracy case were granted bail, a Manitoba judge said Tuesday.

“I’m satisfied the Crown has a pretty strong case against you,” Judge Carena Roller told the boy, who appeared close to tears after learning he wasn’t getting out.

“You explained to police that this was your idea,” Roller said in assessing the circumstances of the case against him.

“There is potential for a lengthy jail sentence,” Roller added.

Roller’s decision to keep the boy locked up represents a major legal win for Manitoba Justice.

Prosecutor Sheila Seesahai advanced a rarely used argument that bailing the boy out would undermine public confidence in the justice system.

The youth has no prior criminal record. He is presumed innocent.

The teen is jointly accused with three other youths aged 14, 15 and 17, with hatching what was described to Roller as a “chilling” criminal plot to knock over a Mountain Avenue convenience store on Aug. 1 for drug money using a stolen sawed-off shotgun.

Police and the Crown allege the four are young Indian Posse gang associates who conspired together to carry out the robbery, while making careful efforts to avoid detection by disguising themselves and wearing socks over their hands to not leave behind fingerprints.

The heist was foiled just moments before it was set to unfold after a passerby — dubbed a “Good Samaritan” by the Crown — called 911 after growing suspicious about seeing the group of youths huddled outside the store wearing extra garments on a very hot night.

The 13-year-old admitted to police the gun was his, telling them it was stolen from a break and enter on Selkirk Avenue earlier in the summer, the Crown said at a previous hearing.

Despite his age, he managed to keep the weapon in his mother’s home while modifying it into an easily concealed sawed-off firearm, Roller was told.

His defence lawyer, Scott Newman, fought the Crown’s opposition to bail and an appeal of Roller’s decision to a higher court is possible.

Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the maximum sentence he faces is three years of custody and community supervision. He cannot be sentenced as an adult given his age.

The 14-year-old co-accused withdrew his bail application prior to Roller giving her decision Tuesday. He may re-apply at a later date.


Arrested three members of the Diamond Cut street gang

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Arrested three members of the Diamond Cut street gang and are searching for two more, following Wednesday’s raids at five area houses, according to Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer.

The gang members have a “deep history of narcotics trafficking, gun violence and conflict related to rival gangs in the area,” Plummer said Thursday afternoon.

Arrested were Brandon “Ace” Smith, Quentin “Big Mike” Clemons and Leo “Butter” Boykins, Plummer said. Investigators were still searching for Marcus “Rosco” Ross and Quentin “Q” Robinson. All five face federal charges related to narcotics trafficking, Plummer said.

As of late Thursday, no federal indictments had been unsealed concerning the five defendants, according to U.S. District Court records.

The raids were done by the Montgomery County Regional Agencies Narcotics and Gun Enforcement Task Force (RANGE) and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and were the result of a seven-month undercover investigation.

The raids were at houses on Heatherstone Drive, Ethel Avenue, Anna Drive, Alder Avenue and Greenwich Village Avenue, all in Dayton.

The gang members had been active across Montgomery County, Plummer said, selling drugs in Trotwood, Miamisburg, Miami Twp., Englewood and Huber Heights, Plummer said.

“They play by their own rules,” Plummer said. “They all have histories of gun violence.”


Cellphones, prostitutes, drugs, plasma TVs, you name it. If you have enough money, you can live inside the prison as you would outside the prison

Posted On 10:21 0 comments

Needing to replenish its ranks, Mexico’s brutal Los Zetas crime gang has refined the tactic of springing hundreds of its members in mass jailbreaks. But unlike the Hollywood version, the jailbreaks don’t involve overcoming guards, crawling through dingy tunnels and scattering once outside the fence. Instead, scores of dangerous inmates simply walk or drive out the gates in cahoots with wardens and prison guards.

The jailbreaks, including one this week in which 129 inmates fled a state prison near Piedras Negras, across from Eagle Pass, Texas, lay bare Mexico’s broken penitentiary system, where wardens either bend to organized crime or face death.

Prosecutors Wednesday arrested the warden, the security chief and 14 watchtower and cellblock guards for allegedly letting the prisoners escape on Monday.

A crude 23-foot-long tunnel was found in the prison’s woodworking shop leading outside the wall. But prosecutors say the tunnel was just a cover and that inmates walked out or were driven out of the prison in connivance with guards.

“It is impossible that they all left through the tunnel at once, as the (prison) authorities argue,” said Homero Ramos, the attorney general for the surrounding state of Coahuila. “They’d probably been leaving for days until this blew up and they couldn’t hide it anymore.”

“They definitely didn’t leave through the tunnel,” echoed Jorge Luis Moran, the state’s public security chief, adding that the escapees are believed to have gone to neighboring Tamaulipas state, a stronghold of Los Zetas.

Los Zetas have regained hundreds of gang members in jailbreaks in recent years. El Economista, a Mexico City newspaper, said it had reviewed prison records and found that 546 accused Zetas gangsters or sympathizers have gone free since May 2008.

“The risk is very low and the benefits are very high for Los Zetas,” said Alberto Islas, a security analyst at Risk Evaluation Inc., a Mexico City consulting firm. “You’re getting people out of jail who . . . are already trained.

“This is a way for them to regain and reinforce their movement.”

Law enforcement authorities rarely recapture fugitive inmates. Four days after the Piedras Negras incident, agents have recaptured three of the fugitives, despite a reward equivalent to $15,500 each offered by the Coahuila state government.

One of those captured, Pablo Sanchez Campos, who was awaiting trial on robbery charges, told authorities that he saw other inmates leave through the prison’s main gate and decided to join them.

 

Analysts describe the situation in some of Mexico’s state and federal prisons as “self-government,” with inmates in charge and guards entering at their own risk.

In the Piedras Negras prison, said Raul Benitez Manaut, a political scientist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, inmates “had total control” and had gained “the support of the guards and the warden.”

“It was really a center of operations for Los Zetas,” Benitez said.

The prison had no functioning closed-circuit television system, and unauthorized vehicles were seen entering the prison earlier Monday.

 

At least 23 significant prison breaks have occurred since President Felipe Calderon came to office in late 2006. All have been at state prisons.

Monday’s was the largest jailbreak since 141 inmates broke out of the prison in Nuevo Laredo on Dec. 17, 2010.

Serving as prison warden is one of the most dangerous jobs in Mexico, and numerous wardens have either been assassinated or bent to the will of gangsters.

In the past two years, hit squads have killed prison wardens in Hermosillo (Jan. 3, 2011), Nuevo Laredo (March 15, 2011), Lazaro Cardenas (March 18, 2011) and Saltillo (Dec. 13, 2011), as well as slaying family members of wardens in several other cities.

A month ago, the warden of a prison in Zacatecas, Fabiola Quiroz Zarate, ordered the transfer of dozens of dangerous inmates to other jails. A day later, gunmen broke into her house and kidnapped her and two family members. Neither the 43-year-old Quiroz nor her family members have been seen since.

Unable to bear the threats, or enticed by bribes, or both, some wardens go to the dark side. Perhaps the most extreme case occurred in July 2010, when prosecutors said a prison warden in Durango state allowed inmates to go free at night, handed over weapons and official vehicles and allowed them to carry out three contract killings that left 35 people dead.

 

Claudia Rodriguez, a columnist for the Quadratin digital news website, wrote Thursday that events this week “reveal to us and confirm that prisons rehabilitate criminals by day while at night they are allowed to leave and, without doubt, are even given guns so they can be paid killers.”

Benitez said the faltering penitentiary system would be one of President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto’s challenges when he takes office Dec. 1.

Since federal prisons cannot hold all those charged with federal crimes related to drug trafficking, thousands of dangerous inmates are handed down for incarceration in less-secure state prisons, he said.

The lax security is evident in periodic news reports about jails with cellblocks equipped with cantinas and apartments with creature comforts.

“Cellphones, prostitutes, drugs, plasma TVs, you name it. If you have enough money, you can live inside the prison as you would outside the prison,” Islas said.


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Griselda Blanco, gunned down in Medellin, Colombia Two armed riders pulled up to Blanco as she was leaving a butcher shop in her hometown

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Florida Department of Corrections

Griselda Blanco in 2004.

The convicted Colombian drug smuggler known as the “Godmother of Cocaine,” Griselda Blanco, 69, was gunned down by a motorcycle-riding assassin in Medellin, Colombian national police confirmed late Monday, according to the Miami Herald.

Blanco spent nearly 20 years in prison in the United States for drug trafficking and three murders before being deported to Colombia in 2004, the Herald reported.

Two armed riders pulled up to Blanco as she was leaving a butcher shop in her hometown, and one shot her twice in the head, the Herald reported, citing a report in El Colombiano newspaper.

Family members said Blanco had cut her ties to organized crime after returning to her country, the BBC reported. Police said they were investigating the motive.

Blanco was one of the first to engage in large-scale smuggling of cocaine into the United States from Colombia and set up many of the routes used by the Medellin cartel after she was sentenced in the United States in 1985, the BBC reported.

Investigators told the Herald that they estimate conservatively that Blanco was behind about 40 slayings. She was convicted in connection with three murders: Arranging the killing of two South Miami drug dealers who had not paid for a delivery, and ordering the assassination of a former enforcer for her organization, an operation that resulted in the death of the target’s 2-year-old son, the Herald reported.

Three of Blanco’s husbands were killed in violence related to drugs, the Herald reported, and one of her sons was named Michael Corleone, a reference to “The Godfather” movies.

Blanco is credited with originating motorcycle assassinations, the Herald reported.

“This is classic live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword,” filmmaker Billy Corben, who with Alfred Spellman made two “Cocaine Cowboys” documentaries, told the Herald. “Or in this case, live-by-the-motorcycle-assassin, die-by-the-motorcycle assassin.”


Monday, 27 August 2012

Bikie gang suspects in brawl arrests at Penrith shopping centre

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FOUR men with alleged links to outlaw motorcycle gangs were arrested last week after a brawl at a Penrith shopping centre. Police officers from the gangs squad and Penrith local area command had been investigating the brawl, which forced shoppers to flee for their safety about 2.45pm last Monday. Police will allege a man was leaving the shopping centre when he was confronted by a group of nine men and fighting began. A number of people tried to intervene, including an unknown male who was assaulted. All involved in the brawl then left the scene. At 7am last Thursday, police simultaneously raided four homes at St Marys, Emu Plains, South Windsor and Freemans Reach. Three men with alleged links to the Rebels were arrested at St Marys and Emu Plains, while an alleged senior Nomads member was arrested at Freemans Reach. During the search warrants, police seized distinctive gang clothing, quantities of anabolic steroids and prescription drugs and a set of knuckledusters. A man, 29, of Emu Plains, was charged with affray, participate in a criminal group and two counts of possess prescribed restricted substance. A man, 44, of Freemans Reach, was charged with affray, possess prohibited weapon, and two counts of possess prescribed restricted substance. A man, 25, of St Marys, and a 23-year-old New Zealand man were each charged with affray and participate in a criminal group. Penrith crime manager Detective Inspector Grant Healey said further arrests were anticipated.


27 charged in California-Mexico methamphetamine ring

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 Local and federal authorities moved Thursday to break up an alleged drug trafficking ring connecting a major Mexican cartel and San Gabriel Valley street gangs, arresting 17 people in a pre-dawn sweep. A federal indictment unsealed Thursday charges 27 defendants with making, possessing and dealing methamphetamine imported by La Familia Michoacana, one of Mexico’s most violent cartels, to two Pomona gangs: Los Amables and Westside Pomona Malditos. Seven law enforcement agencies, including the Pasadena and Pomona police, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, were involved in the sweep. Thursday’s crackdown is the culmination of a probe called Operation Crystal Light, a 16-month investigation by the San Gabriel Valley Safe Streets Gang Task Force. The investigation was launched after a 2011 kidnapping among suspected gang members in Southern California. Officers said they seized nine weapons, an undisclosed amount of methamphetamine, other drugs, and paraphernalia in Thursday morning raids in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The probe involved about 200 law enforcement officers and several undercover purchases. “The goal of the federal task force is to disrupt the network so it’s disrupted permanently,” Timothy Delaney, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Criminal Division in Los Angeles, said. “Today’s arrests took some very serious players in the methamphetamine world off the streets.” The methamphetamine came into the country in liquid form via airplane, boats and cars, officials said. The drug was recrystallized at an Ontario home before local gangs would sell it and funnel money to the Mexican cartel. Most of the drugs were being sold in Pomona and Ontario, according to Assistant U.S. Atty. Shawn Nelson. Dealers were selling multiple pounds a day and making up to $9,000 per pound, Nelson said. He described the arrests as “a good dent” in the Mexican cartel’s local drug network. Three suspects were in custody before the raid and seven remain at large, federal authorities said. The indictment alleges that a La Familia Michoacana associate named Jose Juan Garcia Barron oversaw the transport of the meth between Mexico and Los Angeles County. Delaney said Garcia Barron is among the suspects who have not been apprehended. The 17 arrested Thursday were expected to make their first court appearance Thursday afternoon at U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.


Police think Ogden drive-bys are tied to gang's power struggle

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Police believe drive-by shootings at an Ogden home Tuesday night and Wednesday morning may be related to a violent power struggle within a street gang over control of leadership, drugs and money. Ogden Police Lt. Scott Conley declined to identify the gang, but said members are not affiliated with the Ogden Trece. On Monday, 2nd District Judge Ernie Jones issued a permanent injunction against Trece members, banning them from associating with each other in public and being in the presence of guns, drugs and alcohol. The injunction also places Treces under an 11 p.m. curfew. The drive-by shootings at a home in the 500 block of 28th Street are signs of in-fighting among members of a local gang who are attempting to resolve their differences through escalating violence, Conley said. “They are in the same gang and are arguing back and forth,” he said, noting police have gathered intelligence on the dispute. “We are taking enforcement action to eradicate the problem or get the individuals involved incarcerated.” Six to eight gang members are believed to be involved in the dispute.


Saturday, 25 August 2012

The nine people believed injured by stray police gunfire outside the Empire State Building were not the first to learn how dangerous a crowded street can be in a gunfight.

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 Civilians occasionally find themselves in harm's way when officers use deadly force, though usually only a handful of times annually. When that happens, a rigid process of investigation is set in motion — and the police department can reasonably expect a lawsuit. The latest episode came when police say a man disgruntled over losing his job a year ago shot a former colleague to death and pointed his weapon at two police officers in the shadow of a major tourist attraction. He apparently wasn't able to fire before police killed him, one firing off seven rounds and the other nine. Bystanders suffered graze wounds, and some were struck by concrete gouged from buildings by the bullets, authorities said. At least one person said he was actually hit by a bullet. Robert Asika, a 23-year-old tour guide who was hit in the right arm, said he was "100 percent positive" he was shot by a police officer. A witness told police that laid-off clothing designer Jeffrey Johnson fired at officers, but ballistics evidence so far contradicts that, authorities said.


Thursday, 23 August 2012

Tracking a Rare Tattoo-Related Infection

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A Trail of Ink: Tracking a Rare Tattoo-Related Infection

PHOTO: Tattoo ink skin infection
An uncommon skin infection led to a doctor's investigation into tainted tattoo ink. (Monroe County Health Department)
The reddish-purple rash, seemingly woven into the tattoo on a 20-year-old New Yorker's forearm, was strange enough to have doctors scratching their heads.

This trail began when the man received a tattoo in Rochester, N.Y. in October 2011. A short while later, he noticed the raised, bumpy rash. He called his primary care physician.

Doctors initially treated the man's arm with topical steroids, thinking that the rash was allergic-contact dermatitis. But that only made the problem worse.

By the time dermatologist Dr. Mark Goldgeier saw the patient, it was clear that this was no simple allergy.

He performed a skin biopsy so he could take a closer look at the rash under a microscope. What he saw was startling: the sample was riddled with a wormlike bacterium related to tuberculosis.

"I explained [to the patient] that he had TB, and he had a look of horror on his face," Goldgeier said.

For the patient, the finding meant a trip to an infectious disease specialist to start up to a full year of treatment.

Goldgeier, meanwhile, called the Monroe County Health Department.

"As soon as biopsy came back," he said, "I knew something in the process of tattooing was involved -- the ink, the water used for dilution, the syringes, the dressings."

And so began a nationwide medical mystery.

An article published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine describes how this one dermatologist helped connect the dots in an outbreak of tattoo-related atypical skin infections.

Dr. Byron Kennedy, public health specialist at Monroe County Department of Public Health, took over the case from Goldgeier. Kennedy first confirmed the results by repeating a skin biopsy on the patient. Once again, tendrils of mycobacterium chelonae, a type of tuberculosis-related skin bacteria, showed up in the sample.

Mycobacterium chelonae is a rapidly growing bug found in soil, dust, water, animals, hospitals, and contaminated pharmaceuticals. This family of bacteria does not commonly affect healthy individuals, but in patients with suppressed immune systems -- like those with HIV or on chemotherapy -- these bacteria can cause serious disease, often resulting in death.

The finding sent Kennedy and his associates to the tattoo parlor where the patient had been inked. Everything in the clinic was sterile, which made it unlikely that the infection had arisen there. But the tattoo artist, they learned, had been using a new gray premixed ink purchased in Arizona in April 2011; he used the ink between May and December 2011.

The ingredients of the ink -- pigment, witch hazel, glycerin, and distilled water -- seemed innocuous enough. But further examination revealed that the distilled water in the pigment was the likely culprit of the contamination.

The finding raised a number of questions -- not the least of which was how the bottles of premixed ink passed U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged this gap in regulations Wednesday in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report.

"Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, tattoo inks are considered to be cosmetics, and the pigments used in the inks are color additives requiring premarket approval," the report says.


Armed gang fight breaks out in Venezuelan prison

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Twenty-five people were killed and 43 others hurt in a prison battle in Venezuela as two armed gangs vied for control of a penitentiary near Caracas, authorities said on Monday.


Sunday, 29 July 2012

NYPD detective suspended after kidnapping victim found in his garage

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17-year veteran of the New York Police Department has been suspended without pay after a kidnapping victim was found tied up in his garage. The New York Post reports Ondre Johnson, a detective with the Brooklyn north gang unit, was being questioned in connection with the incident and was forced to surrender his gun and badge. A source tells the Post the 25-year-old victim was snatched off the street on July 26. The victim's friends then got calls demanding $75,000 for the victim's release. The call was traced to Johnson's home, MyFoxNY.com reports. When authorities arrived Friday afternoon, Johnson answered the door and identified himself as a detective with the NYPD. Investigators then found the victim tied up in the garage. Four men have been charged in the apparent kidnapping scheme, MyFoxNY.com reports. 30-year-old Hakeem Clark, who lives in the same building as Johnson, was charged with kidnapping and weapons possession along with 27-year-old Jason Hutson and 27-year-old James Gayle. 24-year-old Alfredo Haughton was charged with kidnapping.


Jamie Stevenson was the first Scots gang boss brought down by secret bugs.

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Jamie Stevenson

The 3500 hours of taped calls and chats – including recordings made while he was lying low in his flat in Amsterdam – were crucial in forcing him to strike a deal to plead guilty.

Transcripts revealed Stevenson and his mob speaking in code about drug consignments and laundering 
millions of pounds.

While Stevenson’s prosecution was the first in which bugged conversations were used as evidence, “intrusive surveillance” techniques have now become a common tool in the fight against organised crime.

They were used in 151 cases in Scotland last year – 95 of which involved drugs and 30 murder, UK chief 
surveillance officer Sir Christopher Rose said.

Bugs were also used to convict Daniel mob hitmen Raymond Anderson and James McDonald for the murder of Michael Lyons, 21.


Jamie “Iceman” Stevenson is back on the streets

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Jamie “Iceman” Stevenson is back on the streets – less than halfway through his prison sentence for laundering £1million of drugs cash. Scotland’s most powerful mobster has been enjoying meals at expensive restaurants and socialising with pals after being allowed home for a week each month. Stevenson – who was also accused of shooting dead his best friend in an underworld hit – was put behind bars in September 2006 when he was arrested after a four-year surveillance operation by the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency. He was later sentenced to 12 years and nine months for money laundering. But, we can reveal, he is now allowed out of Castle Huntly open prison near Dundee – just five years and 10 months later. A source said: “He seems determined to show his face all around town to deliver the message that he’s back and, as far as he’s concerned, nothing has changed. “A lot of people are surprised that he’s being allowed out so early. Some are not too pleased about it for a number of reasons.” Stevenson, 47, has been spotted at Bothwell Bar & Brasserie, which is run by his friend Stewart Gilmore. He and his cronies have also dined at upmarket Italian restaurant Il Pavone in Glasgow’s Princes Square shopping centre. And Stevenson has joined friends at various other restaurants and hotels, including Glasgow’s Hilton Garden Inn. A Sunday Mail investigation can today reveal that the Parole Board for Scotland could recommend Stevenson’s total freedom as early as February next year. However, the final decision on his release will rest with Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. Yesterday, Labour justice spokesman Lewis Macdonald said: “I’m surprised to hear this and that anyone in these circumstances should get out of jail before the halfway point of their sentence – far less so when the conviction is of someone involved in organised crime. “The only circumstances where that would be conceivable would be if someone completely changed their lifestyle. But even then that should not be before they’ve served half their sentence. “I’m sure the victims of these crimes – and with drugs there are direct and indirect victims – will also be surprised at this.” To prepare Stevenson for his release, prison bosses have allowed him to stay a full week each month at his modest flat in Burnside, near Glasgow. On Friday, we watched him leaving the property with his wife Caroline and driving off in a silver Audi. A prison service insider said: “The Parole Board expect the prison authorities to have allowed home visits to test suitability for release ahead of the first eligible parole date. In Stevenson’s case, that’s next February. “There are conditions attached which vary but usually include the obvious ones like not mixing with other criminals and staying only at the designated address. “For prisoners sentenced to more than 10 years, the Parole Board make their recommendations to the Justice Secretary, who then decides whether to release on licence. “Stevenson is trying to keep his nose clean to convince the Parole Board that he poses no threat to society. “But, given his high profile and significance, it’s inevitable that the authorities will be careful before making any final decision.” Stevenson headed a global smuggling gang with a multi-million-pound turnover when he was brought down by the SCDEA’s Operation Folklore, which seized £61million of drugs. He faced drug and money laundering charges along with eight other suspects, including his 53-year-old wife. But his lawyers struck a deal with the Crown Office to admit money laundering in exchange for his wife’s freedom and the drugs charges being dropped. Stevenson’s stepson Gerry Carbin Jr, 32, was also jailed – for five years and six months – but was freed in 2010. Stevenson was previously arrested for the murder of Tony McGovern, 35, who was gunned down in Glasgow’s Springburn in 2000. But prosecutors dropped the case through lack of evidence. A gangland source said: “He does not fear any kind of reprisal from Tony’s brothers, nor does he regard any other criminals in Scotland as a threat or even as rivals. He did not fear any other operation in Scotland before he was jailed. Why would he now?” Two years ago, the Sunday Mail exposed a backdoor deal when the Crown handed back Stevenson’s £300,000 watch collection, which had been seized under proceeds of crime of legislation. Last June, he was sent back to high-security Shotts jail in Lanarkshire from an open prison after a major SCDEA drugs probe, Operation Chilon. Detectives believed that the gang they investigated was controlled by Stevenson. Haulage firm boss Charles McAughey’s home was one of 11 targeted in raids. In 2009, we revealed that French police had found 684kg of pure cocaine worth £31million in a lorry owned by McAughey. Chilon resulted in the SCDEA seizing 242kg of cannabis worth £1.21million and the jailing of three men for a combined 15 years.


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