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Friday, 29 April 2011

Three men arrested as part of a police probe into the associates of slain gangland figure Carl Williams have been released, pending further inquiries.

Posted On 00:18 0 comments

Three men arrested as part of a police probe into the associates of slain gangland figure Carl Williams have been released, pending further inquiries.

This morning police investigating the bashing murder of Williams in jail last year raided the family home of his former prison mate Tommy Ivanovic.

Detectives swooped on the house in Cornwall Street in Brunswick West just after 7am, and a short time later arrested three men at a separate, unnamed location.

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The trio were known to be associates of Ivanovic.

The weatherboard home is owned by the family of Tommy Ivanovic, who shared a high-security unit at Barwon Prison with Williams and his alleged killer Matthew Charles Johnson.

Ivanovic, also known as "Little Tommy", was a some-time drug dealer and trusted member of the "Williams Crew" during the gangland wars.

He was jailed for 18 years in 2003 for the shooting murder of a motorcyclist.

Williams and Ivanovic were sufficiently close at one stage for Williams to ask him to be godfather to his daughter Dhakota. But Ivanovic was jailed before the christening.

Johnson is accused of bashing Williams to death with part of an exercise bike inside the Acacia unit in April last year.

Police established Taskforce Driver to investigate Williams’ death, and those detectives today arrested three men who are being questioned over a decade-old attempted murder in Westmeadows.

The intended murder target survived two separate attempts on his life at his home in Bent Street, Westmeadows in 1999 and 2001.

In the first attempt on November 22, 1999, the murder target was reversing out of his driveway when a gunman fired shots into his car, hitting him in the shoulder.

The then-32-year-old was taken to hospital and recovered from his injuries - only to be targeted a second time on May 15, 2001.

In that attack, police believe two men lay in wait in a neighbour’s yard before ambushing him and opening fire on his property while his family was inside.

He suffered minor injuries and did not require medical treatment.

Detectives said today that they had taken statements from two men who saw the gunmen fleeing the scene.

The three men arrested today - a 52-year-old Preston man and two Brunswick men, aged 37 and 40 - are being questioned over the second attempted murder.

The police taskforce investigating Williams' death seized documents from inside the weatherboard house in Cornwall Street, where neighbours said an elderly couple lived. It is the long-time home of Ivanovic's parents.

Detectives searched through a white Ford Falcon parked in the yard of the property.

Neighbours said the elderly couple kept to themselves, and could regularly be seen tending to fruit trees in their yard.

Neighbours were reluctant to comment any further.


Randolph Mob street gang jury found Vernon Anderson, 25, guilty of murder for the death of 19-year-old Zachary Roche-Balsam outside a party

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A man was convicted of murder Wednesday in connection with the fatal shooting of another man in the city's Ingleside Heights neighborhood in 2006, according to the district attorney's office.
A San Francisco Superior Court jury found Vernon Anderson, 25, guilty of murder for the death of 19-year-old Zachary Roche-Balsam outside a party in the 300 block of Victoria Street on Sept. 16, 2006, prosecutors said.
Anderson, a member of the Randolph Mob street gang, and several accomplices approached a crowd of high school and college students who were leaving a party in the neighborhood with the intention of robbing them, according to the district attorney's office.
As the suspects robbed and attempted to rob various people, two guns were fired, and several bullets struck and killed Roche-Balsam, prosecutors said.
Anderson was arrested in April 2007 in connection with the shooting, according to the district attorney's office.
Witnesses reported that Anderson had one of the guns but did not identify him as the shooter who killed Roche-Balsam, district attorney's officials said. However, because the death occurred during the commission of a robbery and in connection with a street gang, prosecutors were able to charge Anderson with murder.
"As part of a calculated crime spree, this defendant showed a reckless disregard for human life that resulted in a teenager's senseless killing," District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement.
After five days of deliberation, the jury found Anderson guilty Wednesday of murder, robbery, attempted robbery, active participation in a criminal street gang, conspiracy to commit robbery, and shooting into a house, according to the district attorney's office.
He faces a sentence of 50 years to life in state prison and will return to court on June 17 to set a date for the sentencing hearing, prosecutors said.


massive sweep against a Los Angeles street gang accused of drug and weapons trafficking has ended with 80 arrests.

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massive sweep against a Los Angeles street gang accused of drug and weapons trafficking has ended with 80 arrests.
More than 1,300 police and federal agents from several agencies, including the Secret Service, conducted raids Thursday to serve arrest warrants on reputed members and associates of a San Pedro gang.
Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck told reporters that the gang had a "stranglehold" on the port community.
Those arrested are charged with state or federal crimes ranging from methamphetamine dealing to conspiracy to commit murder. About a dozen could face life in prison if convicted.
Authorities seized 14 guns and some drugs during the raids.
The sweep followed a 2 1/2-year investigation. Authorities say during the probe, undercover agents bought some 90 weapons illegally.


Three suspected gang members climbed aboard a bus and shot a television cameraman to death as he rode to work, police said Tuesday.

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A police report said the gunmen approached Alfredo Hurtado, 41, directly and shot him several times Monday.

The cameraman worked for El Salvador's Channel 33 covering general news.

Police reported no possible motive for the shooting in Jardines de San Bartolo, a town just outside the capital of San Salvador. But investigators suspected gang members because the area has been plagued by turf wars between the Mara Salvatrucha and the Mara 18 gangs.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said Hurtado was shot 11 times, three of them in the head. It said the cameraman's family reported he had not been threatened.

The press freedom group urged authorities to solve the slaying. "El Salvador's extremely high level of criminal violence may account for it but, although gangs are active in the area, the police should not rule out other possibilities," it said.


Tuesday, 26 April 2011

MASKED gunman opened fire on a family home in what detectives fear is the latest attack in an increasingly violent gangland feud.

Posted On 09:56 0 comments


He fired a shot at the house in the daylight attack in Drumchapel, Glasgow, on Easter Sunday.
The family, including 15-year-old twin boys, a nine-year-old girl and an 85-year-old woman, cowered inside the house in Summerhill Place as the attack happened.
Sources said last night that the shooting was carried out in revenge for an earlier incident between rival gangs.
The bloody feud has been raging since Angus Malavin, 26, and his 17-year-old brother Zak were jailed for life in January for the savage sword murder of Andrew Curran.
Since then, Mr Curran's son has been slashed with a machete and the Malavins' father, Angus Snr, was knocked down in the street.
A trial witness also had her windows shot at and police have investigated everything from running street battles to sinister postings on social networking sites.
Neighbours in the street yesterday declined to talk about the shooting. But an underworld source said: "The gunman knew cops would be busy policing the Old Firm game and its aftermath.
"That's why he struck at 2pm while the game was on.
"He got out of a car, walked up next to a tree and fired a single shot at the house."
No one was injured in the attack.
But the source added: "It was very fortunate no kids were playing in the street at the time."
In a bizarre coincidence, the house is the former home of executed gangland enforcer Kevin "Gerbil" Carroll, who is believed to have moved out in 2008.
Strathclyde Police last night urged anyone with informat ion about the shooting to come forward.
The gunman escaped in a dark car which was driven at speed along the Peel Glen Road area.


Monday, 25 April 2011

There were clues but nothing was done, and now at least 177 bodies have been unearthed.

Posted On 23:32 0 comments

Suitcases started piling up, unclaimed, at the depot where buses crossing northern Tamaulipas state ended their route. That should have been an early clue.

Then the bodies started piling up, pulled by forensic workers from two dozen hidden graves in the scruffy brush-covered ravines around the town of San Fernando, 80 miles south of this city that borders Brownsville, Texas.

At least 177 corpses have been recovered in the last few weeks, most of them, officials now say, passengers snatched from interstate buses, tortured and slaughtered. Women were raped before being killed, and some victims were burned alive, according to accounts from survivors who eventually overcame their fears and came forward.

The slayings have horrified a Mexican public already awash in violence and led commentators to call them "our Auschwitz" and a "Mexican genocide."

Worse yet is the realization that the killing in Tamaulipas state has been going on for months — including the brutal slayings of bus passengers — and no one, not the bus companies, nor the police, nor the officials in charge, acted to stop it.

Elida Martinez, a gray-haired woman in her 60s, was one of dozens of mothers, fathers and siblings of the missing who were waiting in the morgue here the other day to offer blood samples for DNA testing.

Two of her daughters disappeared in February, one kidnapped from the hotel in San Fernando where she worked and the other seized from her home in the middle of the night a short time later. Between them they left behind four children.

"You pray to God you won't find them here," she said. Yet the gut-wrenching uncertainty tears her apart. "You don't sleep. You can't work. You live in anguish."

After the massacre last year of 72 mostly Central American immigrants near San Fernando, the government of President Felipe Calderon promised the world, including angry Central American authorities, that justice would be done and the popular routes through northern Mexico toward the United States would be guarded.

It now appears, however, that the killings continued, and not just of immigrants but Mexican citizens and, perhaps, a handful of Americans. On Wednesday, authorities said they had rescued a group of 68 Mexicans and Central Americans who had been seized by gangsters from buses or from bus stations in the same area.

The motives behind the bus kidnappings remain unclear. Gangs may seize the passengers hoping to extort money from them, to forcibly recruit them or because they are searching for rivals.

The killings have galvanized an unusual if belated consensus, even among conservative commentators and politicians, that parts of Mexico have indeed been lost to criminal gangs such as the Zetas and the Gulf cartel that control (and are battling each other to dominate) the northeast. What does it mean, they ask, when the federal government cannot keep the nation's highways safe from brazen predators?

Even worse is the near-certainty that the police who are meant to be protectors have been involved. Among the more than 50 people arrested in connection with the latest killings are 17 local police officers accused of providing protection to the cartel gunmen believed responsible.

There is growing demand for a new government strategy and that the national Senate take the highly unusual step of dismissing the state's elected but apparently ineffective officials, a move that would also involve Calderon suspending civil rights in the region.

"If Tamaulipas is not a failed state, or a narco-state, it sure looks like one," political analyst Alfonso Zarate said. "The institutional powers are incapable of upholding the law."

Calderon has steadfastly resisted that characterization.

The top official in Tamaulipas is something of an accidental governor. Egidio Torre Cantu was elected last year, standing in at the last minute after his brother, a shoo-in for the job, was assassinated by a drug gang.

"We are prisoners in towns that we cannot leave," said Mario Alberto Alejandro, 43, who came to the morgue looking for his brother, Rigoberto, a U.S. citizen who vanished Feb. 23 on the road to Matamoros. "In whose hands are we?"

Alejandro echoed other families in saying authorities were giving them the runaround, sending relatives from the morgue to one government office after another and even in some cases to Mexico City, where most of the bodies have been taken, in part because the Matamoros morgue was full.

 


Thursday, 21 April 2011

There is a gang war and it’s brutal,” Chu said in 2009. “One of the battlegrounds in this war is the southeast sector of Vancouver where two gangs, the Sanghera Group and the Buttar Group, are killing each other for profit and territory.”

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Crown prosecutors have stayed all firearms charges against two Vancouver men whom police described as leaders of a violent gang when they were rounded up in a massive organized crime sweep in 2009.

Udham Singh Sanghera, 60, and Gordon Taylor, 49, were released Tuesday night after a surprise announcement in B.C. Supreme Court five weeks into their trial and more than two years after they were locked up.

Taylor’s lawyer Pat Angly said he doesn’t know the reason for the “abrupt” stay, but that it came after he requested more disclosure on police dealings with an agent who had been testifying anonymously under the protection of heavily armed Emergency Response Team officers at the Vancouver Law Courts.

Both men were among dozens picked up in March and April 2009 as part of a Vancouver police gang crackdown dubbed Project Rebellion. They faced 20 firearms counts between them after allegedly buying four guns in an undercover police sting set up by the agent. The roundup led to 209 charges against 28 people on 40 separate indictments.

Several others arrested in Project Rebellion remain in jail awaiting trial, including Sanghera’s son Bobby. At least nine have pleaded guilty so far.

Angly said the disclosure from the Crown had indicated the agent went to police in November 2008 for the first time alleging “Sanghera was planning to blow up a whole city block.”

But after Angly found documentation of a meeting the agent had with police months earlier in April, he faxed a letter to the Crown over the weekend asking for more details.

A witness was supposed to testify Monday, Angly said.

But instead Crown counsel asked Justice Victor Curtis for an adjournment so they could talk to their supervisor in the criminal justice branch about “the course of the prosecution.”

The Crown returned at 2 p.m. Tuesday and said all counts against each man were stayed.

Angly said no reasons were given in court. “It is five weeks into it now and the agent was on for about a week. They had a whole ER team with him the whole time,” Angly said. “There was a considerable expense and no explanation.”

At the time Sanghera and Taylor were arrested, Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu praised his officers for their efforts in stemming gang violence.

“There is a gang war and it’s brutal,” Chu said in 2009. “One of the battlegrounds in this war is the southeast sector of Vancouver where two gangs, the Sanghera Group and the Buttar Group, are killing each other for profit and territory.”

Neither VPD nor Crown would comment Wednesday on why the charges were stayed.

Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie said only: “The branch is not able to provide any more details at this time about the decision.”

“During the course of the trial, the Crown concluded that the case should not proceed further and that a stay of proceedings was the appropriate step to take,” MacKenzie said.

Const. Lindsey Houghton said police were “advised by Crown of their decision and we are working collaboratively with Crown to see what we can do.”

“The door remains open,” he said. Houghton wouldn’t comment about whether police fear a return of the south slope violence that was successfully curbed after Project Rebellion. He said both the number of murders and shots-fired calls were down last year and continue to be lower in the first quarter of this year.

Houghton said he couldn’t estimate the cost to the VPD of Project Rebellion. Nor would he say if police are disappointed with the stays. “The courts work the way the courts work. It is not for us to express emotion over court decisions.”

“The treatment of witnesses and police agents is the first and foremost priority in terms of protecting people’s privacy and the courts treat them that way,” Houghton said.

Sanghera, who was self-represented, was not at home Wednesday, according to a relative.

The trial has heard so far that both Sanghera and Taylor agreed to pay the police agent for several firearms, which were provided by undercover police officers. The agent testified that he cooperated with police because he was concerned about what Sanghera was planning. Police wiretapped phone calls where the gun purchases were discussed.

Deputy Chief Doug LePard testified that he approved the investigative methods because “there was a shooting war that we were very concerned about.”

Angly said Taylor is planning on suing the Vancouver police for injuries he sustained during his arrest, but doesn’t know yet if the suit will expand to include the charges that have now been stayed.

“We are looking at a civil suit on the injury part of it anyway,” Angly said.

Some details of the case against Taylor came out at his bail hearing two years ago, after his former lawyer waived the routine publicaton ban.

At the time, Vancouver Provincial Court Judge Jeanne Watchuk said Taylor should be detained for public safety in part because of “the number and frequency of shootings in the Lower Mainland in the past months.”

“Crown submits that there is grave public concern regarding the shootings. I agree,” Watchuk said. “The courts have previously noted the danger presented by unregistered handguns and the public concern for their protection and safety.”

Taylor met the police agent in a hotel on Marine Drive to complete the deal for four handguns in February 2009..

Watchuk said the Crown’s case against Taylor was strong and noted he attended a meeting at which another party spoke of taking a hit out on a rival.

“Discussions at that meeting included the background of the ongoing disputes and the intention to murder two individuals and acquire a bomb and guns because they were ‘at war,’” the judge summarized. “Mr. Taylor was present for the purchase of the guns on Feb. 23, paid for two of the guns and left with all four of the guns and the ammunition.”


Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Martin Omar Estrada Luna, otherwise known as “El Kilo” or “El Comandante Kilo,” is the suspected leader of the Los Zetas drug cartel in the northern state of Tamaulipas

Posted On 23:24 0 comments

Mexican authorities said that they have arrested a notorious drug kingpin over the weekend, who allegedly was the person responsible for the mass graves in the north, media reports say.

Martin Omar Estrada Luna, otherwise known as “El Kilo” or “El Comandante Kilo,” is the suspected leader of the Los Zetas drug cartel in the northern state of Tamaulipas, based out of the city of San Fernando, where the bodies were discovered, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Estrada is also accused of masterminding the killing of 72 South and Central American immigrants last year. Their bodies were found in a similar area, according to the paper.


Following his capture, the Mexican government replaced the head of security in Tamaulipas, reported BBC. Gen. Ubaldo Ayala Tinoco was replaced with Capt. Rafael Lomeli Martinez.

Ayala Tinoco said that he was stepping down due to a lack of pay increase and said the equipment wasn’t good enough.


Mexico’s drug war has spilled over into the cultural life of the nation,

Posted On 23:19 0 comments

“narcocorridos” to narco-wives, Mexico’s drug war has spilled over into the cultural life of the nation, influencing language and even religion.

A recent report by the Associated Press surveys narco-language, some of the most grisly terms that have sprung up around Mexico's organized crime. Its list includes “narcofosa,” for mass graves filled with the bodies of the drug war’s dead, and “encobijados" for the bodies of victims found tightly wrapped in a blanket.

To these can be added any number of phrases, mostly coined by the press, which feature the prefix “narco” added to anything that could conceivably by purchased with the vast fortunes of the drug kingpins. We can now talk about narco-states, narco-submarines, narco-economies, narco-trucks, narco-elections, narco-terrorism, narco-presidents, and even narco-beauty queens.

Mexico’s drug gangs are themselves creative in their use of language, taking control of their images and of their names. Aliases range from the sinister, “The Most Crazy One” (“El Mas Loco”); to the ridiculous: “La Barbie"; to the weird: “The Child-Eater” (“El Come Niños”); to the very literal: “El Narco.”

These nick-names are central to building a public profile, something that is increasingly important as the traffickers battle the government, and each other, to win the hearts and minds of the population. Many are named after an area or a state, appealing to regional pride. Others have evocative names, like The Historic Ones (“Los Historicos”), or the Knights Templar (“Caballeros Templarios”).

As well as shaping the language, forcing commentators and a terrorized public to invent new vocabularies to talk about the ever-evolving conflict, the country is now seeing the traffickers’ influence in the cultural arena, with what could be dubbed narco-music and narco-religion.

Some commentators identify two distinct and clashing branches of this narco-culture. The first, entered around the groups of the Pacific coast, plays off the traditional idea of the rebel outlaw, while the other promotes a more glamorous bling-heavy gangster image. Both are corrosive, presenting the drug trade as an attractive lifestyle choice and traffickers as heroes.

Emblematic of the first is Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin Guzman Loera, alias “El Chapo,” who has reportedly commissioned “narcocorridos,” songs in a traditional folk music style, to tell a heavily-edited version his life story. The Familia Michoacana, which has its roots in local vigilante groups in its home state of Michoacan, also draws on this tradition, appealing to traditional and religious sentiments and claiming to be protecting the local population from drugs and drug traffickers.

The Zetas, a breakaway paramilitary group, represent the other side of the ideal. The ultra-violent group embrace a gangster-style image which draws on hip hop culture.

Both branches of the Mexican drug industry have coopted religious symbols and rituals. The cult of Santa Muerte, or Holy Death, is famously associated with the drug trade. The saint has a macabre image, usually represented as a female with a skull for a face, and is called on by criminals for protection. Another narco-saint is Jesus Malverde, popular in Guzman’s home state of Sinaloa. Based on an early 20th-century outlaw, he is revered by drug traffickers, amongst others.

The Familia have even taken steps to create their own religion, with their leader publishing a book of moral maxims. The group announced their entrance onto the narco-scene in 2006 by entering a crowded nightclub to throw five severed heads onto the dancefloor, and left a message explaining their actions as the work of “divine justice.”

These steps into the world of religion, in this intensely Catholic country, demonstrate the deepening hold of the drug gangs and their intention to penetrate all aspects of life in Mexico.

The very real threat posed by this expanding narco subculture was demonstrated by the agreement signed by many of Mexico’s biggest media outlets, which agreed amongst other things not to adopt the “language and terminology used by criminals.” This pact represented a recognition from the establishment that the battle over culture and over language itself is a crucial part of Mexico’s drug war.


San Fernando Massacre Overwhelms Mexican Morgues

Posted On 20:53 0 comments

grim litany of gang murders, tortures, and outright butchery by drug cartel members in Mexico has rendered the region near the international border almost untenable, and the latest discovery of 145 bodies in mass graves near San Fernando has precipitated a crisis in the logistics of dealing with death. The Houston Chronicle reported on Friday that the Mexican morgues were overwhelmed, and 70 of the bodies had been moved to Mexico City on Thursday.

A large-scale slaughter resulting in the macabre pile-up of bodies in mass graves yielded 23 of the victims on Thursday alone. Investigators are also searching another site in northwestern Sonora where bodies turned up last week. The first report by Borderland Beat (BB) of the San Fernando massacre came on April 6. Residents of the city — in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas about 90 miles south of Brownsville, Texas — told officials of the "narcograve," with initial reports of the number of bodies ranging from 48 to 60. 
 
Mexican security forces had at the same time been searching for abducted bus passengers in the state of Tamaulipas, investigating reports that gunmen had been stopping buses and pulling off passengers, nearly always young men. The abductions were believed to be attempts at forced recruitment by the drug cartels. After the residents’ reports, officials found a mass grave — eight pits containing bodies — and later determined the victims to be the bus abductees. The discovery of the burial pits coincided with the date the first bus was reported missing, and by the weekend officials had detained suspects.
 
Initially it was thought the victims were all Mexicans, but one has been identified as a young Guatemalan. 
 
By Friday, April 8, authorities had uncovered more bodies, bringing the count to 72. Fourteen suspected kidnappers were detained, nine of whom have been confirmed as members of the Zetas drug cartel. Some were caught driving a counterfeit Mexican Navy truck, and that initial capture led to an investigation. BB noted, “Witnesses to the kidnappings told the El Universal and El Norte newspapers that armed and uniformed men stormed the buses demanding to see identification papers [of passengers].” One witness said that although young men were usually the only ones abducted, women of all ages were taken off the buses, stripped, and raped.
 
BB reported on Tuesday, April 12 that as some victim identifications were being made, 40 more bodies were found, and the suspect list has now climbed to 16. It added:  
 
One of the suspects, Armando Morales Uscanga, told investigators that he participated in the kidnapping and killing of bus passengers on March 24 and March 29, officials said. 
He also confessed to killing and burying 43 people, whose remains were found last Wednesday at a site outside San Fernando. Morales Uscanga was carrying nearly $5,000 in Mexican and U.S. currency, as well as an assault rifle, at the time of his arrest.
 
By Thursday, BB’s count was up to 126 with the discovery of 10 more bodies, and authorities speculate that as many as 300 may have been murdered and buried in the latest abduction. They fear hundreds more may be buried in yet-undiscovered narcograves. Also on Thursday, it was reported that 16 municipal police in San Fernando were detained, as evidence surfaced that they had allegedly provided protection to a local Zetas cell and covered up the mass murders and burials.
 
At week’s end the body count was up to 145 recovered from 26 pits. 
 
The latest mass-grave recovery lies not far from where 72 people were slain just nine months ago. Most of the victims were migrants who had paid to be smuggled into Texas, but were intercepted and executed by the Zetas. One of those captured managed to escape and find help from officials, who later discovered the bodies at a nearby ranch. A five million peso reward is  being offered for help in capturing those responsible for that massacre.
 
Borderland Beat has dubbed the region near San Fernando the Death Zone. The territory — which lies on a major highway leading to the United States — is coveted by drug cartels battling for control, specifically the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas. There have been numerous carjackings of Americans in the area, and in late January, American missionary Nancy Davis was killed there. The latest escalation in violence has forced some bus companies to suspend operations in the region.
 
Officials believe that the identification of the bodies in the latest discovery, not all buried at the same time, may go a long way toward solving missing persons cases. The Mexican government is offering substantial rewards for information leading to the arrests of Zetas cell leaders.
 
Critics blame the staggering number of 35,000 deaths in Mexico in four years on President Felipe Calderón’s declared war against organized crime, according to the Houston Chronicle article. Calderón has pitted the country’s military and federal police against the cartels, but citizens are demanding that he rethink that strategy. Protests have sprung up around the country, with marchers denouncing the gangs and the inability of police to stop the violence. 
 
Even the U.S. State Department, in its annual human rights report on Mexico, criticized the country's police and military for “unlawful killings by security forces; kidnappings; physical abuse; poor and overcrowded prison conditions; arbitrary arrests and detention; corruption, inefficiency, and lack of transparency that engendered impunity within the judicial system; [and] confessions coerced through torture.”
 
As the latest round of horrific massacres in Mexico underscores once again the desperate lawlessness just south of the United States, Americans in border states such as Texas, only miles from the Death Zone, are renewing their calls for the federal government to act immediately to secure the international border.

 


16-year-old male has been arrested as a suspect for the murders of two British tourists in Sarasota

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A 16-year-old male has been arrested as a suspect for the murders of two British tourists in Sarasota, Florida, police said on Monday.

The bodies of James M. Cooper, 25, and James Thomas Kouzalis, 24, were found early Saturday morning in The Courts, a public housing project in Sarasota known for gang activity and a high crime rate, the Sarasota Police Department said.

Investigators would not comment on why they thought the two men were there. Both men were shot to death.

Cooper and Kouzalis both attended the University of Sheffield.

The name of the suspect has not been released.

Sarasota, a city of about 100,000, is a popular beach resort on the Gulf of Mexico south of Tampa.


Buck Wild gang, which has been tied to at least 24 shootings and seven murders in Palm Beach County.

Posted On 20:49 0 comments

Jury selection is expected to begin next week for a group of men accused of racketeering and conspiracy charges as alleged members of the Buck Wild gang, which has been tied to at least 24 shootings and seven murders in Palm Beach County.

Circuit Judge John Kastrenakes on Monday heard several pre-trial motions in the case and set more hearings for Thursday.

Authorities last year arrested eight men alleged to be part of the group, capping a two-year investigation into what investigators allege were a string of drug sales, robberies and other violent crimes the gang members committed to finance an ongoing criminal enterprise.

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Kastrenakes told attorneys in the case to plan to begin picking jurors on April 25 for the trials of six of the eight men. The other two will face trial separately.

The joint trial for the six is expected to last two months


the Fourth Reich, a Nazi skinhead gang, became a breeding ground for some of New Zealand's most vicious killers.

Posted On 20:48 0 comments

In the late 1990s, the Fourth Reich, a Nazi skinhead gang, became a breeding ground for some of New Zealand's most vicious killers.

Malcolm George Chaston, 41, was right at its heart.

Yesterday in the High Court in Rangiora, Chaston received one of the harshest sentences in New Zealand history, a life sentence with a minimum non-parole period of 20 years for murder, and a sentence of preventive detention for two sexual crimes. For his surviving victims, the sentence will provide some relief. But for Vanessa Pickering's family it's far too late.

Chaston's criminal history is long and bloody.

At yesterday's sentencing, Justice French noted Chaston had a "sad and troubled" history. She said he was in and out of boys' homes and eventually ended up on the street.

His offending began 25 years ago and before he murdered Pickering he had 71 convictions, seven of a violent nature. He had used firearms and explosives, attacked prison guards and tried to escape prison.

In January 1989, a teenage Chaston was picked up by a woman while he was hitch-hiking. Over the next three hours, he raped her at knifepoint. He was jailed for eight years.

A decade later, he would tell another female victim about the crime. She told The Press he justified the rape by saying: "She was 24. I knew she'd get over it."

While in prison, Chaston chose the course that would shape his life. In 1994, he was among the co-founders of the Fourth Reich, an extremely violent white power gang.

Over the following years the gang grew in size, both within the prison and eventually on the outside.

Its members would include Leighton Brian Wilding, the master of arms, Neihana Foster, Shannon Flewellen, all of whom would go on to commit murders, motivated by hate.

Other associates of the gang included double murderer Hayden Brent McKenzie and Aaron Howie, also a killer.

Detective Senior Sergeant Wayne McCoy was a member of a team of police who targeted the Fourth Reich in Nelson in the late 1990s.

By that time, the gang had a presence in Invercargill, Dunedin, Christchurch, Westport and Nelson.


One person is dead and another is at the hospital after an overnight shooting in a desert area south of the Valley.

Posted On 20:23 0 comments


Officials say the victims may have been part of a drug smuggling operation.

"Yeah, it's daily life. I see guys with bags coming through here with marijuana and things," said Peter Allen, who lives near the shooting site, in the area of I-8 at Milepost 150, near Stanfield.

Residents and authorities say the area is known for problems with drug smuggling.

"This is a known point where people lay up before they come to I-8 and get picked up by they're next mode of transportation," said Chief Deputy of the Pinal County Sheriff's Department, Steve Henry.

He tells ABC15 a group of 15 people were resting in the desert overnight when they were approached by a "rip crew", who began firing shots and stole drugs the group was carrying.

One male victim made it to I-8 and called for help.

Another was later found dead less than a half mile away.

"Our indication is that the person who was found dead is part of the group. I can tell you the deceased person was armed," said Henry.

Authorities searched the area, using resources from Pinal County Sheriff's Office, Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"Right now there's an active search for victims, witnesses and suspects," said Henry.

That search led them to the nearby town of Stanfield, where they detained six individuals who they think were involved in the incident.

"We're armed around here at the park, I have my 9 millimeter if I need to protect myself," said Allen.

Residents tell ABC15 the events late Wednesday into early Thursday are a common thing.

There's been three shootings in the same area in the last couple of years.


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

second gunman has been convicted in a triple murder dubbed the "49th Street Massacre."

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A second gunman has been convicted in a triple murder dubbed the "49th Street Massacre."

Ryan T. Moore, 37, was convicted of murder, attempted murder and conspiracy in the 2006 attack.

Moore and co-defendant Charles Smith opened fire on a crowd of people with AK-47 assault rifles, killing 10-year-old David Marcial, his 22-year-old uncle Larry Marcial and 17-year-old neighbor Luis Cervantes.

Prosecutors say the gunmen mistook the victims for rivals in a bloody feud between two local gangs.

Alicia Merceron, who admitted driving the car during the killings, has been sentenced to seven years in prison.

This was the third trial for Moore.


Eastern Pennsylvania Drug Gang Threat Assessment prepared by the National Drug Intelligence Center outlines the growing problem of gang violence and drug trafficking.

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The report, done on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, was generated upon the request of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, who has asked federal authorities to provide assistance to local law enforcement agencies.

“In many eastern Pennsylvania communities, the nature of drug distribution by gangs that originated in the New York area has shifted from occasional and transient operations to those that are more permanent and established,” the report says, noting gang members feel less law enforcement pressure in eastern Pennsylvania compared to a heavier authority presence in New York.

The report also mirrors what the local drug agent explained. The agent said that “gang members often facilitate their transition from the New York City areas to smaller drug markets … by forming relationships with local females.”

The local drug agent said there are too many small municipal police departments that do not have the manpower or money to conduct a long drug investigation.

Coincidently, the Pennsylvania Economy League in a June 2010 report indicated Luzerne County municipalities are employing fewer full-time police officers at the same time the sale of illegal drugs is rampant.

“In most of these towns, there is one cop on duty, and they’re usually busy with a domestic or a traffic stop,” the drug agent said. “When was the last time a single cop made a big bust? It doesn’t happen around here. And these gangs know it.”

A few dedicated municipal officers are members of the Luzerne County Drug Task Force with the state Office of Attorney General, which has coordinated large-scale drug sweeps arresting alleged gang members on drug trafficking charges in recent years.


Dover police said a “turf war” between rival gangs sparked a non-fatal shooting April 6 in the Barrister Place housing development off South Little Creek Road

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According to police, officers responded to the 400 block of Barrister Place shortly after 11 p.m. for a report of shots fired.

Upon arrival, officers discovered there had been an exchange of gunfire in the street. Numerous bullets struck two unoccupied vehicles and a house occupied by two adults and five children, police said. No one was injured in the shoot out, but bullets did penetrate the residence.

Investigators identified Barrister Place resident Monte C. Jackson, 26, as one of the suspected shooters and took him into custody without incident April 8. Jackson was charged with seven counts of reckless endangering and several gun offenses. He was released from custody after posting a $20,000 bond. Police said they expect to make additional arrests in the case.



Members of Deep-C, traditionally a Central Richmond gang, have been migrating into South Richmond.

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Police are saying that some of the violence that has been brewing in the city recently, which has left three dead and four wounded over the last two weeks, seems to be part of an escalating feud between gangs in North and Central Richmond.

Pastor Henry Washington of the Garden of Peace Church agrees. “Central and north are at odds, and as a matter as fact, the whole city is a powder keg right now,” he said.

The origins of the longstanding feud—believed to have begun approximately eight years ago—have almost become lore in Richmond. “There’s a famous story about young man who had a car accident with another young man,” said Washington. “The car that was wrecked the worst had the nice rims and the candy paint.”

The driver of the wrecked car, “kind of squashed it and said ‘You gonna owe me for a paint job.’ I don’t think it was 1,000 bucks. From there one fella reneged on the paint job, and we lost half a dozen lives, just in response to a car accident,” said Washington.

Lt. Arnold Threets, head of Richmond Police’s Special Investigations Division, agreed that the 2003 car accident marked the start of the feud. “Prior to that there wasn’t this real conflict between both sides,” said Threets. Before 2003, gang-activity and affiliation in Richmond was more localized; small groups operating block by block, representing their street corners, said Threets.

“You had 4th and Nevin, 5th and Barrett, 7th and Penn, you had guys at 16th and Chanslor. You had people all over who really weren’t all one group,” said Threets.

But the car accident and the dispute over payment galvanized the loosely-affiliated groups into two distinctive gangs: Deep-C in Central Richmond’s Iron Triangle and Project Trojans in North Richmond. Police currently believe that retaliatory attacks between these two groups are responsible for the late March shootings that killed 23-year-old Joshua McClain in San Francisco; and 21-year-old Ervin Coley III and 22-year-old Jerry Owens in unincorporated North Richmond.

Threets says the 2003 car accident that sparked the feud isn’t what’s fueling today’s violence. Most people today just remember the story as a legend. “Now if you ask a subject on the street today about that accident he may or may not remember why they are fighting or what’s that about,” said Threets.

Shootings are instead often the result of tit-for-tat attacks or, “based on some perceived disrespect or some incident that occurred that affected him,” said Threets.

Sometimes shootings will occur based on stolen girlfriends, unpaid debts, or false rumors about who was responsible for previous shootings. “The information on the street won’t be accurate to what occurred, but it’s relevant … because on the street, perception is reality,” said Threets. “If I believe that this gang is the reason that my loved one or partner was murdered, then whether the evidence supports that or not, I’m going to retaliate against the people that I believe did it.”

The targets of retaliatory attacks do not necessarily have to be gang members or in any way connected to the previous incident; the gang may be more interested in avenging themselves on any young male they can find on the opposing gang’s turf than on attacking a particular person. (Read more about retaliatory attacks by clicking here.)

Understanding all the dynamics of the ongoing feud can be difficult admits Threets, who leads a team of detectives and gang specialists who work behind the scenes conducting surveillance and intelligence operations.  ”A lot of it’s talk and it’s guesswork,” he said.

Threets says a big challenge in preventing gang violence and retaliatory attacks is that there are many possible shooters, so you can’t solve the problem by making a single arrest. “Sometimes you can take off a key person and it will calm everything down, but not the case here. It’s focused deterrence; you’re trying to prevent something from occurring. You know retaliation is coming; you’re just trying to prevent it,” said Threets.

Making matters more complicated, police now have to monitor a larger area for gang-related activity. Members of Deep-C, traditionally a Central Richmond gang, have been migrating into South Richmond.

Police believe that the transformation of the city’s Iron Triangle through redevelopment, improved policing, increased community involvement, and the work of the Office of Neighborhood Safety, has restricted gang activity in Central Richmond and pushed it into other areas.

While addressing the city’s police commissioners at their monthly meeting last Wednesday, Police Chief Chris Magnus said, “When we clean up a particular housing complex or are particularly effective in dealing with violence in a neighborhood … some of the individuals who are involved in this retaliatory violence choose to move or hang out in areas where we struggle more in terms of community involvement or where the physical environment makes it easier for them to operate with impunity.”

At the meeting Richmond Police Captain Mark Gagan said people verified as Deep-C gang members are congregating more and more in locations on the south side like the Hartnett Apartments and the Pullman Point apartment complex. Gagan also said that many individuals who are on parole for prior gun offenses and narcotics offenses are paroled to addresses in those housing complexes.

Magnus highlighted the Pullman apartments in particular, saying that management has “fallen into disarray” and that individuals from other neighborhoods have found “safe haven” there.

Nevertheless police have noted a few successes in past weeks. Threets said his team—working with the county police—conducted searches of individuals on probation and parole who are believed to be affiliated to the gangs involved in the ongoing feud. Threets said police arrested a few individuals found violating the terms of their parole or probation.

Threets also commended the work of the Office of Neighborhood Safety. The ONS is a city organization that targets known criminals and gang members for services in an effort to draw them away from illicit lifestyles. The team of workers also fan out in the community immediately after shootings—like those in North Richmond—to ease tensions and prevent retaliatory attacks from occurring.

“We are not going to the hospitals, they are, and they cool people down, and they get to the hospitals and go out here into the streets and do their peacekeeper thing, and it works, it has an impact,” Threets said.

Of the ongoing feud, Pastor Washington expresses deep disappointment with Richmond’s younger generation. He says young people haven’t sought the tutelage of their elders about an ethical code. “What we have now are these kids that are retaliating over things that make no sense,” he said.


Monday, 11 April 2011

Batang City Jail gang GANGSTER was shot and killed in front of his horrified live-in partner

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GANGSTER was shot and killed in front of his horrified live-in partner and sibling in Tondo, Manila Friday night.

Homicide detectives identified him as Roberto Melgarejo, 27, a member of the Batang City Jail gang, of 401-B Interior 32, Perla St., Tondo.

He did not make it alive to the Gat. Andres Bonifacio Hospital.

Reports said Melgarejo was walking  home along with his lover and brother at the corner of Perla and Quirino Street when the two suspects came out of nowhere and shot the victim.

The suspects fled on board their scooters after the attack.

Police are still establishing the motive behind the killing


Sunday, 10 April 2011

turf war between rival gangs.

Posted On 00:43 0 comments

One suspect was arrested and more are being sought in a street shootout that Dover police described Saturday as “a turf war between rival gangs.”

Monte C. Jackson, 26, was charged with seven counts of first-degree reckless endangering and four other offenses.

“The investigation continues and more arrests are expected to be made,” police Lt. Daniel McKeown said.

The shootout erupted a few minutes after 11 p.m. Wednesday in the 400 block of Barrister Place that is claimed by both gangs, McKeown said in a statement.

No one was injured in the shootout, which prompted many emergency calls, police said.

Bullets hit at least two parked and empty cars and at least one home that was occupied by two adults and five children, McKeown said. The house was hit repeatedly, with bullets penetrating the building, he said.

Members of the Dover Police Criminal Investigation Unit determined the incident was an outburst of violence in an ongoing turf war between the unidentified gangs, he said.

Their investigation also led to identification of Jackson as one of the shooters, he added.

City police said they arrested Jackson Friday on the same street, where he is believed to live. He was taken into custody without incident, McKeown said.
After arraignment, he was released after posting $20,000 secured bail, he said.

Authorities have not given an estimate of the amount of damage caused by the bullets, nor have they said how many people and guns were involved, or how many shots were fired.


Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Four people were murdered in 20 hours in Belize City this weekend. It is a record, and the worst kind.

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Four people were murdered in 20 hours in Belize City this weekend. It is a record, and the worst kind. Even more worrying is that three of those people were genuinely killed for no reason, collateral damage in a gang war that now seems to be between gangs and the police.
It's literally crazy! We start with a listing of the casualties:

On Saturday morning at 5:00, 44 year old Joe Hamilton, a well-known bar-b-que vendor was shot down at the corner of South and Plues Streets. He was not far from his home on Wagner's Lane when a gunman shot him seven times, three times to the head, one of those shots coming after he was already on the ground.

And then on Saturday afternoon at 1:20, a two blocks over on King street near its corner with Euphrates Avenue, a female Chinese grocer, 32 year old Yan Ying Chen, was in her grilled store when she was shot to her shoulder and back. She died shortly later at the hospital.

An hour and a half after that on Faber's Road, another female Chinese grocer was shot - again, behind an iron grill. 37 year old Fei Lan Wu, was shot in the lower back and died three hours later while undergoing surgery.

And then ten hours later, at 12:30 am, 39 year old contractor Abner Rodriguez was found dead on 7th. Street in the King's Park Area. He had been severely chopped.

Four murders in 24 hours, a staggering toll of crime - and it has left this community reeling. None more so than the Chinese, as two innocent female storekeepers were killed for no apparent reason; it is not even known if it was a robbery attempt.

Today, the Chinese community reacted by staging a national shutdown of all businesses. Now, that was done just 7 months ago when teenager Helen Yue was killed - but this time the usually quiet community backed it up with aggressive direct action.


Sunday, 3 April 2011

former professional rugby player has appeared in court in South Africa over the murders of three men in a random axe attack.

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Joseph Ntshongwana, 33, who played for the Blue Bulls Super 15 side, is accused of a rampage in townships of Lamontville and Umbilo near his home in Durban.

He is charged with with three counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and one of assault with intention to commit grievous bodily harm.

He was not required to make a plea.


Fallen star: Former pro rugby player Joseph Ntshongwana has appeared in court charged with three counts or mufder with an axe in townships near his home in Durban

The prosecution claims to have discovered a 16-inch axe and items of bloodied clothing in a car near Mr Ntshongwana's home.

The former Springbok Under-21s initially claimed the killings were carried out in revenge after his daughter was gang-raped and infected with HIV, South African newspapers reported.


Narrow escape: Siyanda Khumalo revealed how he managed to run from the axe murderer

However, police say he does not have a daughter.

The six-foot flanker, a committed Christian, was arrested on Tuesday.

Ntshongwana's counsel, JP Broster, told the court he would make an application under Section 77 of the Criminal Procedure Act because his client was not mentally fit to stand trial.

He is believed to suffer from bipolar disorder.

The well-built star, who was born in Umtata, in Eastern Cape province, has also listed himself as single on the official South African rugby website and in his in a profile on Facebook which appears to be his.

On the social networking site he can be seen cheerily posting message throughout last week and up until just 12 hours before his arrest.

In one message posted on Saturday - almost a week after the grisly murder spree began - the star congratulates his former rugby team-mates for a good performance, and writes 'Well done Blue Bulls'.

The same day he applauds South Africa's national football side for their victory over Egypt by posting 'Bafana Bafana U made my day'.

His last posting was added at 2.16pm on Tuesday - around 11 hours before his arrest.

In one comment posted last May he wrote: 'The word of God is alive in me. My life is an unending flow of success, favour and grace.

'I walk in boldness and refuse to give up the success, favour, prosperity and divine health which is available to me in Christ.


Ntshongwana's home is in a luxurious area of Durban

'I declare that fear is disabled from my life and the works of the devil are paralysed in and around my sphere of contact in Jesus Name, Amen.'  In another posting added a few days previously he wrote: 'Whoever lives in love lives in God , and God in them.'  Today figures from the world of rugby expressed shock at the star's arrest.

Eric Sauls, head coach at Ntshongwana's former team the Eagles, said the player was an unlikely axe murderer.

In an interview with South Africa's Beeld newspaper he said: 'If the allegations are true, it would be shocking. He is someone of good character.

'He is not the kind of person who would want to have a run-in with the law.'

The attacks have been classified as serial killings and police will continue to look for more bodies.

The decaptitated victim has been named as Paulos Hlongwa, 46, who was completely decapitated.

Police said the KFC security guard's head was found dumped in a dustbin in a separate suburb more than a mile away from his body.

Student Siyanda Khumalo, 19, described how he manage to run away when a man swung at him with an axe last Monday in the Umlazi area of Durban.

Ntshongwana was remanded in custody until April 7.


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