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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Venezuela arrests Colombian drug kingpin

Posted On 11:43 0 comments

 

The arrest of Maximiliano Bonilla-Orozco at his home in Venezuela's third largest city of Valencia on Sunday was announced, perhaps not coincidentally, during a visit by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. After a five-hour meeting at the presidential palace, Santos thanked Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez for the "welcome gift" of capturing "a very high-value" drug trafficker "who has caused terrible damage to our country." Venezuelan Interior Minister Tarek El Aissami said Bonilla-Orozco, 39, would be extradited to the United States, where he was charged with drug trafficking in a 2008 indictment in a New York court. The United States accuses Bonilla-Orozco of trafficking several tons of cocaine from Colombia to the United States, and transporting more than $25 million in drug-related proceeds from the United States to Mexico. "Maximiliano Bonilla-Orozco is the leader of an extensive transnational narcotics exportation and transportation organisation that distributes thousands of kilograms of cocaine from Colombia, through Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, to the United States," a US State Department profile says.


Monday, 28 November 2011

Police probe Gold Coast shooting

Posted On 10:59 0 comments

Police say a man shot at Robina on Queensland's Gold Coast had links to an outlaw motorcycle gang. A man fired several shots outside a house at Robina about 10:00pm (AEST) on Saturday night, injuring a 25-year-old man. The man was shot in the shoulder and is in the Gold Coast Hospital. Police say his injuries are not life-threatening. Detective Superintendent Dave Hutchinson says police are still searching for the assailant. He says some of the bullets struck cars and houses. "[The offender] was targeting a particular person, and that person received some injuries from the those gun pellets," he said. "The information we have from witnesses is that there were a number of shots fired. "The victim has an association with an outlaw motorcycle group but he's not a member himself. "At this stage, we're not able to say if it's bikie-related or if it's a personal issue." Police have already interviewed a number of witnesses but no-one has been arrested over the shooting. Detective Superintendent Hutchinson says the injured man, who is an associate of the Bandidos motorcycle gang, is cooperating with police but cannot remember much about the incident.


SCOTLAND'S failure to tackle the scandal of sex trafficking is exposed in a damning report today.

Posted On 10:49 0 comments

Prostitute large pic

 

The report demands a crackdown on the organised crime gangs behind the vile trade and lifts the lid on how the victims of trafficking and exploitation have been let down.

Leading human rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy, who wrote the report for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, is critical of the Scottish government, the police and other law enforcement agencies.

The report looks into all aspects of human trafficking but focuses explicitly on "commercial sexual exploitation".

A source close to the inquiry said last night: "This is Scotland's dirty little secret."

The report criticises the shortfall in public or professional awareness in Scotland of human trafficking and says police have a "significant" intelligence gap on the problem.

It reveals those who are trafficked are being exploited by organised criminals, often held captive in private flats used as brothels and systematically abused.

Other victims are forced into criminal acts such as benefits fraud or cannabis cultivation, exploited on fruit-picking farms or in the hospitality industry or forced into conditions akin to slavery as domestic servants.

The report's 10 recommendations include the establishment of a task force to take on the gangs behind the misery.

And it also calls for laws to be beefed up to punish the criminals heavily when they are caught.

The source said: "The Scottish government and police have not taken the proper steps to combat human trafficking. The problem exists all over Scotland and is not confined to the sex industry.

"People are being shipped in from all over the world to be used as cheap labour and serious gangsters are behind it.

"We've had prostitutes coming from as far away as Brazil, Nigeria and Bolivia to work in Scottish cities and police don't do anything.

"The recommendations made in the report need to be followed up urgently."

The inquiry's findings and mmendations are based recommendations on written evidence and face-to-face interviews and include statements from victims of trafficking.

Glasgow-born Baroness Kennedy described the nature and extent of human trafficking in Scotland as "a human rights abuse of terrible consequences".

She said: "Human trafficking is one of those pressing contemporary issues which speaks to the societies nature of our societies. It tests the value we attach to the humanity of others.

"That is why it is so important to develop effective strategies to combat trafficking. It speaks to who we are as a people. Confronting it involves collaboration."

She added: "I am hoping Scotland will pioneer a zerotolerance approach, leading the way with new strategies, legislation, and the kinds of multi-agency cooperation that enables the punishment of the traffickers and the identification and recovery of the victims."

Last month, in the first case of its kind in Scotland, Stephen Craig, 34, from Clydebank, was jailed for three years and four months for controlling prostitutes.

His co-accused, Sarah Beukan, 22, from Leith in Edinburgh, was jailed for 18 months.

They were the first people to be convicted in Scotland under new laws covering trafficking within the UK.

The pair admitted moving 14 people to addresses in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and Newcastle to work as prostitutes.

Equality and Human Rights Scotland Commissioner Kaliani Lyle said: "Trafficking is one of the most severe human rights abuses in the modern world.

"It operates below the radar and is kept there through fear and deception. Our challenge is to rid Scotland of this modern slavery."

Ann Fehilly, of the Glasgow Community and Safety Services TARA Project, said: "If we are able to ensure that protections are in place, then more prosecutions will follow, ensuring that Scotland sends a message to those who traffic and exploit vulnerable women that such abuses will not be tolerated."

Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "The Scottish government welcome this inquiry and the extensive work Baroness Kennedy has undertaken to expose the unacceptable and atrocious practices which allow human trafficking to persist."

He added: "Trafficking is a particularly horrific and brutal violation of human rights. It has no place in modern Scotland and the consequences it brings for victims and communities are incredibly damaging."

Case Study: Evil deeds exposed in Record

stephen craig taggart Image 2

THE Daily Record has shone a light on Scotland's seedy underbelly, with senior reporter Annie Brown interviewing victims and those working to beat trafficking.

Last month, Annie met former vice girl Susan, 36, who worked out of flats run by Scotland's only convicted sex traffickers Stephen Craig and Sarah Beukan.

The mum-of-three told how one woman worked for Craig when she was six months pregnant and another was traumatised after having sex with 12 men in a row.

And sadistic Craig threatened to pour boiling water down one woman's throat if she moved on.

Annie also met Ann Hamilton, who established the Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA) in 2005 to help identify and support women in Glasgow who had been sex trafficked.

Ann said: "We saw there were a lot of foreign women in prostitution in Glasgow and the Met Police in London were warning us about trafficking.

"We had never heard the term but very soon we realised we had an issue and we had to establish a service for the women and I think it has worked very well."

Key Points

1 Scotland needs a comprehensive strategy against trafficking.Recommendation: Scottish government should develop strategic plan.

2 There is little public or professional awareness of human trafficking or its indicators. Recommendation: Holyrood should run an anti-trafficking campaign.

3 Human Scotland and in the UK has developed in a piecemeal fashion.Recommendation: Holyrood should consider introducing comprehensive Human Trafficking Bill.

4 Police service has a significant intelligence gap on human trafficking.Recommendation: Set up multi-agency task force.

5 There have been few prosecutions against suspected traffickers.Recommendation: Review legislation to consider tougher sentences where human trafficking is background to crimes.

6 Law enforcement bodies have disrupted organised crime through asset recovery but there have been few operations against traffickers.Recommendation: Develop strategy for using asset recovery powers against trafficking groups.

7 Recommendation: Scottish and UK governments to help various agencies, such as employers, bring awareness of human trafficking into their operations.

8 Recommendation: Holyrood involve private sector in strategic approach in dealing with awareness and monitoring of trafficking.

9 Recommendation: Home Office should lead review of system for identifying trafficking victims.

10 Scotland does not yet have comprehensive, end-to-end services for victims of human trafficking. Recommendation: Holyrood should develop a trafficking care standard.


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Devastating report into the failures of police and care agencies to protect teenage girls who have been groomed, raped and sold by male gangs, most of whom are Asian.

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The mother of one teenager from Leeds, who attempted suicide after a gang rape, said her daughter was the victim of a 'broken system.'

'Everyone failed her,' she told The Times. 'There was no sharing of information. 

'They (police) had the names and knew where they (abusers) worked yet the men who did this have never once been arrested or spoken to by the police.'

West Yorkshire Police vowed to look again at the case to see if 'there is evidence that can help bring evil men to book'.

Growing worry: CCTV footage shows now jailed gang members Mohammed Romaan Liaqat and Abid Mohammed Saddique meeting girls as they cruise the streets of Derby in a BMW

Growing worry: CCTV footage shows now jailed gang members Mohammed Romaan Liaqat and Abid Mohammed Saddique meeting girls as they cruise the streets of Derby in a BMW

Jailed: Saddique, left, and Liaqat, right, were leaders of the paedophile ring in Derby and committed a catalogue of offences against vulnerable young girls
Jailed: Saddique, left, and Liaqat, right, were leaders of the paedophile ring in Derby and committed a catalogue of offences against vulnerable young girls

Jailed: Saddique, left, and Liaqat, right, were leaders of the paedophile ring in Derby and committed a catalogue of offences against vulnerable young girls

Children's charity Barnardos has been calling on the Government to take action on child exploitation since January with its Cut Them Free campaign.

 

 

 

Other caregivers have also suggested that political sensitivities are to blame for a near paralysis of the systems designed to keep children safe.

JOSIE'S STORY

A silhouette of a teenage girl on white background with a mobile phone


Like most little girls, Josie lived for horses. She had an exemplary school record with 100 per cent attendance rate.

But at 13, the teen from Keighley, West Yorkshire, was given a laptop and quickly became addicted to Facebook.

Her father was then warned his daughter was spending a lot of time with older Asian men.

One even told the father he would 'slit his throat' when he answered the phone to him.

From there it got worse. Josie started disappearing overnight and began drinking. 

Yet, when her father locked his daughter in her room to protect her, it was he who got into trouble with the police for false imprisonment.

He told The Times he has since collected every scrap of evidence to prove his daughter is being sexually exploited by gangs.

'The police kept saying that they're waiting until Josie realises it's wrong,' he said.

'Is that really the best they can do?

CHARLOTTE'S STORY

Rear view of a woman silhouetted against window light.


When the father of 14-year-old Charlotte looked at his daughter's Facebook profile, he discovered 'loads of male, Asian friends.'

Concerned, he started to restrict his daughter's activities. The teen from Keighley, West Yorkshire, then went to live with her mother.

He tracked down all the names and addresses of her friends he believed were involved and passed them on to police.

Meanwhile her school was reporting Charlotte had begun arriving looking 'dirty and extremely thin'. 

She was going missing for days at a time, according to agency notes.

By October last year she 'admitted she has slept with different Asian males.'

The police told Charlotte's father they hoped to take action against the men.

That was 17 months ago and he is still waiting.

'There's no will to deal with this issue in Keighley' he said.

'What chance have these kids got if that's the attitude of the police?'

There is a culture 'which assumes that once a girl gets to 14 she's beyond hope of intervention - it's too late,' a source told The Times.

Police and care agencies often say that they cannot take action against suspects without the victim's co-operation. 

However, a 2008 protocol established by the force and West Yorkshire's five local authorities states: 'Adults involved in child sexual exploitation... should be treated as child sex abusers and subjected to the full rigour of the criminal law.'

NICOLA'S STORY

A pregnant woman silhouetted against a set of blinds.


Nicola is the only case in six who was groomed by a gang of white men. 

The abuse began when she was 12 after a visit to Leeds from her family home in Bradford.

Nicola had thought they were 'really nice people' but by 13 she was doing drugs - 'everything but heroin'.

She was raped twice. The first time she was 'drugged up to the eyeballs' and remembers being dragged into a bedroom and gang raped.

Afterwards her mother took Nicola to the police station, only to be told that 'we don't deal with that here'.

In desperation Nicola's mother took her daughter to New Zealand and away from the gang.

She let her return four months later. 

Nicola did return to her old haunts but discovered it wasn't really what she wanted.

'I used to think it was so exciting,' she told The Times. 'But after New Zealand, it was like seeing them with another pair of eyes.'

She hasn't been back since.

Children's minister, Tim Loughton, suggested two weeks ago that the plan will call on councils to act with a 'much greater urgency' to identify victims of sexual exploitation while taking 'robust action against those who commit these appalling crimes.'

As well as the gang rape case of the girl in Leeds, five new cases have been highlighted by The Times' investigation.

No one has been prosecuted for sex exploitation in any of them. Only one of the girls in the six cases had been in care. 

One was groomed by white students, but in all the other cases, the perpetrators were Asian, mostly of Pakistani origin.

This pattern of abuse at the hands of male Asian gangs in the West Yorkshire area has been highlighted before, but never formally acknowledged.  

In January the Asian ringleaders of a gang in Derby, who brought a ‘reign of terror’ to a city’s streets, targeting and grooming young girls for horrific sexual abuse, were jailed.

Abid Saddique and Mohammed Liaqat were told they would serve a minimum of 11 years and eight years respectively before they could be considered for release.

A DfE spokesman refused to reveal the contents of the National Action Plan but said: 'We are publishing an action plan this week and that will draw on work around the country to prevent sexual exploitation, identify those at risk and support victims.

'It will address the challenge of securing prosecutions and the need for robust action against perpetrators.




Chicago cops accused of working for Latin Kings held without bond

Posted On 04:18 0 comments

 

Two Chicago police officers accused of committing armed robberies at the will of alleged Latin King members were ordered held without bond Monday. Alex Guerrero, 41, and Antonio C. Martinez Jr., 40, were the ones in handcuffs Monday afternoon, appearing before a federal judge in orange Porter County jumpsuits. The duo were named in a 46-page indictment unsealed Friday that alleges a racketeering conspiracy among fifteen Latin King gang members or associates. Guerrero's attorney, Kevin Milner, fought for his client to be on home detention. He said his clients' parents offered to put up their $175,000 Chicago home for their son's pretrial release. "For Mr. Guerrero to violate his bond, his parents would be on the street homeless," Milner said. "I've known Mr. Guerrero for 15 years. He would rather slit his wrists than do that to his parents." Milner claimed there was no evidence against Guerrero, and that the father of six had no criminal record. According to the indictment, Guerrero and Martinez Jr., committed armed robberies of drug dealers in Illinois and Indiana while in uniform and under the guise of performing legitimate police operations. They allegedly turned over the drugs and money to the Latin Kings in exchange for about $10,000 in kickbacks. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Nozick argued that Guerrero and Martinez were dangers to the community after using Chicago police vehicles, service weapons and uniforms to rob people at gunpoint. Nozick also said Guerrero was a flight risk, as his wife has family in Mexico and he faces up to life in prison.  Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich ordered Guerrero held without bond. Milner said they were disappointed with the decision, and that his client would be sitting in jail for at least a year pending trial for a crime he did not commit.  "I don't know who will give him that year back," Milner said. Martinez Jr., did not contest being held pending trial.


Monday, 21 November 2011

Police gun down two robbers

Posted On 15:12 0 comments

 

Two suspected armed robbers described by the police as notorious, were gunned down on Friday evening, at the Airport Residential Area in Accra while on a robbery spree. They have been identified as George Klen, about 53 and Doku or Mellow, about 41. Their bodies have been deposited at the Police Hospital mortuary for autopsy. The Accra Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Rose Bio Atinga, told the press on Saturday, that the two had been on the police wanted list for committing several robberies. They were also said to have been captured on a number of close circuit television sets at Osu, East Legon, and some filling stations committing robberies. Klen, according to the commander, had been known in police circles for well over 30 years as a hardened criminal, saying, he was sentenced on a number of occasions to various prison terms. “There is no prison that Klen had not served in, as far as I know”, she stressed. DCOP Atinga said for some time now her outfit had had reports of armed robbers breaking into people's cars and shops, particularly in the Airport residential area, Osu Oxford Street, East Legon, as well as places where social activities were being held, and restaurants. Based on the information, she said, plain clothed personnel were deployed in those areas to gather intelligence and clamp down on the criminals. While some of the personnel were on patrol duties on Friday, at about 8:30 p.m. at East Legon and the Airport residential areas, they had information that some robbers were breaking into vehicles and stealing valuables, including laptops, at some social points (drinking spots). DCOP Atinga said the police further gathered that the robbers were “having a good time” at a drinking spot near Nyaho Clinic. The police closed in on them but on seeing the police, they pulled locally manufactured pistols and started firing at them. The police returned the fire, but the robbers managed to enter their ash Nissan Maxima car, GW 4635-09 and sped off. She said the robbers were still firing while escaping and in the process, the driver of their car lost control and ran into a ditch when he was hit by a bullet. “The two suspects got injured and died while being conveyed to the hospital.” The police retrieved two locally manufactured pistols, three laptops, three car number plates, AS 6273-10, WR6543-09 and DV 3408-11 and a camera from the robbers. Other items found were, three locally made T-square iron implements, popularly known as ‘Bazooka’ used in opening cars, an ipod and a travelling bag containing some documents, and consumables. The Regional Commander appealed to private security guards manning public places to be vigilant and critically observe people who patronised such places, the cars they drive as well as the cars left in their care. The Deputy Regional Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Christian Tetteh Yohuno, told the Times later that the police had been trailing Klen for years but anytime he sensed danger, he (Klen) went into hiding. He said Klen apart from his intense robbery in Accra, travelled to Elubo with his gang to carry out robberies. ACP Yohuno noted that from the spoils of his activities, Klen had put up plush executive mansions at Gbawe, Gomoa Nyanyano near Kasoa, Ho, Aflao, with some fitted with close circuit television cameras. He also owned some filling stations. He, therefore, appealed to car owners to carry their belongings anytime they stepped-out of their cars, adding that the criminals had gadgets which could silence car alarms, before they committed the crimes. One of the victims of the robbery told journalists that he parked his car and went to eat at a restaurant at East Legon. Moments later, the owner of the restaurant came to alert him of a break into his car. He said his laptop containing useful information, GH¢40, was picked and commended the police for the swift performance which led to the gunning down of the robbers.


Bikies trial to test courts

Posted On 10:06 0 comments

 

Police arrested 22 Finks and Hells Angels members over a fight in The City nightclub in Hindley St on May 29. They were charged with aggravated riot for the alleged incident that involved bar stools, bottles and table tops as weapons. Defence lawyer Craig Caldicott said if the matter proceeded to the District Court, as he expected, arrangements would need to be made. "There is not currently a courtroom that could house it," he said. "A courtroom would have to be made, and this is in a time when we can't even get disability access (to courtrooms) for judges." Mr Caldicott said the animosity between the two groups could also be an issue if all were to stand trial simultaneously. Currently, all the accused are charged on the same information from the Director of Public Prosecution and all are on bail.  The two groups have been appearing in separate hearings in the Magistrates Court. "You would need special security ... you would have to have a special set-up," Mr Caldicott said. The accused appeared in the Adelaide Magistrates Court last week and were listed to answer the charges. However, the case was adjourned for the prosecution to supply further information to the defence. CCTV footage is among the information already provided by police and lawyers believe there are more than 150 witnesses to the alleged incident. Mr Caldicott said his clients, who were affiliates of the Finks Motorcycle Club, would be going to trial at this stage. "The aggravated riot charge will be contested," he said. The Courts Administration Authority said it was "too early" to know how the matter would be managed in the District Court. "All these things will be considered by the court at directions hearings if and when it is committed to the District Court," an administration spokeswoman said. "It is still going through the court process in the Magistrates Court." In Sydney in 2007, a Supreme Court room was remodelled to accommodate the committal hearing of nine men accused of plotting a terror attack. The dock and bar table were extended for the case.


Teen Shot In Drive-by Shooting

Posted On 10:02 0 comments

 

17-year-old was shot in the head during a drive-by shooting in Southwest Houston. Police Say the 17-year-old was with another friend at a night club on Clarewood near Reims in Southwest Houston, when the two got into an altercation with rival gang members. Around 10:30 P. M. Saturday evening the two left the club and as they were walking across the parking lot, someone in an unknown vehicle fired several shots at the two. The 17-year-old was shot one time in the head and transported to Ben Taub Hospital in critical condition. His friend was not injured.


Drive-By Shooting Injures Three People

Posted On 10:00 0 comments

 

Omaha police respond to another shooting this weekend; this time at 36th and Martin Avenue where three people were shot late Sunday afternoon. Officers were called to a home in the area just before 5 p.m. First responders found three people with gunshot wounds and took them to the hospital. "Right now they're in critical condition," said Lt. Staci Witkowski. "We are still looking for suspects and a suspect vehicle. We're trying to lock down a description on that." Paramedics rushed the victims to a hospital as officers investigated the scene and a blanket of bullets left behind. "It appears to be a drive-by and obviously there are numerous shell casings," said Lt. Witkowski. "We were sitting on the couch and all of a sudden I heard automatic weapon fire," described neighbor Isaiah Burse, Junior. Burse and his wife, Debbie, then hid. "There was between 8 to 12 shots," said Debbie. "I refused to open my door. Probably a minute later, sirens everywhere, and I peeked out the door and they were just stopped right here on the corner." Police had not reported any suspects in custody as of Sunday night, providing no comfort to neighbors.


USDJ Indicts Members of "Latin Kings," Include Two Chicago Police Officers

Posted On 09:59 0 comments

 

Fifteen alleged members or associates of the Almighty Latin Kings and Queen Nation (Latin Kings) have been indicted for their alleged roles in a racketeering conspiracy in Hammond, Ind., and elsewhere, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David Capp of the Northern District of Indiana. The 15-count third superseding indictment returned by the federal grand jury on Nov. 16, 2011, and unsealed Friday in Hammond includes 15 new defendants who are charged with conspiracy to engage in racketeering activity from August 1989 until the date of the third superseding indictment. Also included in the third superseding indictment is one new count of conspiracy to murder in aid of racketeering activity against Brandon Clay, 24, aka “Cheddar,” “Swiss,” “Slick,” 24, of Chicago, who was charged previously in the indictment. “The indictment unsealed Friday alleges that members of the Latin Kings across the Midwestern United States engaged in a years-long pattern of violence, including numerous murders, to control their territory and fund their illicit activities,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “The indictment also alleges that two Chicago police officers assisted the Latin Kings in carrying out their crimes. Corruption of the kind alleged here is shocking, and cannot be tolerated. We will continue doing everything in our power to stop gang violence, and hold those responsible – including any public officials involved – to account. ” “The gang and violent crime problem in this area is a regional problem that crosses state lines as well as city and town boundaries,” said U.S. Attorney Capp. “This indictment is the result of a regional cooperative federal-local law enforcement effort. We will continue thisregional effort and we will continue to focus on criminal street gangs.” The following individuals are charged and named in the third superseding indictment: Hiluterio Chavez, 41, aka “Tails,” and “Zeus,” 41, of Chicago; Sergio Robles, 23, aka “Checko,” 23, of Hammond; Emiliano Esparza, 40, aka “Ken Milleano,” “Kent,” and “Double G,” of Chicago; Paulino Salazar, 29, aka “Chino,” of Chicago; Santiago Gudino, 27, aka “Creeper,” 27, of Hammond; Gabriel Jalomos, 24, aka “Sneaky,” of Chicago; Oscar Gonzalez, 21, aka “Puppet,” of Hammond; David Lira, 38, aka “Flaco,” of Lansing, Ill.; Victor Meza Jr., 23, aka “Shadow,” of Hammond; Antonio Gudino, 30, aka “Chronic,” of Indiana; Bianca Fernandez, 22, of Chicago; Serina Arambula, 22 of Chicago; Alex Guerrero, 41, of Chicago; and Antonio C. Martinez Jr., 40, of Chicago. Previously charged in the case are: Clay; Alexander Vargas, 34, aka “Pacman,” of Highland, Ind.; Sisto Bernal, 45, aka “Cisco” and “Shug,” of Chicago; Jason Ortiz, 28, aka “Creeper,” of Chicago; Martin Anaya, 41, aka “Left,” of Chicago; and Ivan Quiroz, 30, of Posen, Ill. One individual is not named in the indictment. Nine individuals were taken into custody Friday and made their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew P. Rodovich in federal court in Hammond. Nine individuals, including three newly charged in the third superseding indictment, already were in the custody of law enforcement and will be arraigned before Judge Rodovich on a later date. Salazar and Lira are considered fugitives. The third superseding indictment alleges that the Latin Kings gang was responsible for at least 19 murders, including juveniles and one pregnant woman, in the Chicago/Northwest Indiana area and Big Spring, Texas. In one instance, Bernal, Santiago Gudino, Robles, Jalomos and others allegedly caused Jonathan Zimmerman to be transported to Hammond and then murdered him for using counterfeit currency to purchase drugs. According to this indictment, Clay, Fernandez, Arambula and others participated in the conspiracy to murder Edward Delatorre and another individual on Nov. 26, 2006. Vargas then allegedly attempted to arrange for others to shoot at people who were attending Delatorre’s funeral on Dec. 2, 2006. On the same day, Vargas directed Quiroz, Chavez and other Latin Kings “enforcers” to increase their efforts to murder leaders of the Latin Dragon gangs in retaliation for the Oct. 2, 2006, murder of Vargas’ younger brother. Months later, the indictment alleges Robles, Salazer, Chavez and another Latin Kings member bet on who would be the first to successfully carry out Vargas’ order to kill a Latin Dragon leader. On Feb. 25, 2007, the indictment alleges that Vargas, Ortiz, Clay, Quiroz and other Latin Kings members participated in the murder of Latin Dragons leaders James Walsh and Gonzalo Diaz outside of the Soprano’s Bar in Griffith, Ind. The third superseding indictment also alleges that Guerrero and Martinez, while employed as officers with the Chicago Police Department, committed armed robberies on behalf of Bernal, in some instances while in uniform and driving Chicago Police Department-issued vehicles. The indictment alleges that on one occasion, Guerrero and Martinez were assisted by Chavez, a Latin Kings member, during which time they robbed between $30,000 and $40,000 in drug proceeds. The indictment alleges Guerrero and Martinez stole drugs and weapons in addition to cash. In certain instances, Guerrero and Martinez allegedly were given a portion of the funds they stole as payment for committing the armed robberies. In addition to the alleged acts of violence, the superseding indictment also alleges that the Latin Kings distributed more than 150 kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. The indictment also seeks forfeiture. According to the third superseding indictment, the Latin Kings is a nationwide gang that originated in Chicago and has branched out throughout the United States, including to Texas. The Latin Kings is a well organized street gang that has specific leadership and is comprised of regions that include multiple chapters. As alleged in the third superseding indictment, the Latin Kings enforces its rules and promotes discipline among its members, prospects and associates through murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, assault and threats against those who violate the rules or pose a threat to the Latin Kings. Members are required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members, including taking on assignments often referred to as “missions.” This case is being investigated by the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the National Gang Targeting, Enforcement & Coordination Center (GangTECC); the National Gang Intelligence Center; the Chicago Police Department; the Griffith Police Department; the Highland Police Department; the Hammond Police Department; and the Houston Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Joseph A. Cooley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and David Nozick of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana. The third superseding indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Watchdog warns over shooting probe

Posted On 11:16 0 comments

 

An investigation into the death of Mark Duggan, whose fatal shooting by police triggered riots across the country, has still to establish the sequence of events concerning a handgun found at the scene, the police watchdog said. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said that was a key element in its probe. But it said that the sequence of events was not yet known, despite a report in Saturday's Guardian that the investigation had found no forensic evidence that he was carrying a non-police-issue gun. The newspaper, in a story headlined "Revealed: man whose shooting triggered riots was not armed", said a gun collected by Mr Duggan earlier in the day was recovered 10ft-14ft (3m-4.25m) away, on the other side of a low fence from his body, and that he was killed outside the vehicle he was travelling in, after a police marksman fired twice. On the day Mr Duggan was shot, there is overwhelming evidence that he had obtained a firearm, but the investigation is considering whether he had the weapon in his possession when he was shot, the Guardian said. The IPCC said in a statement on Saturday night that the investigation was examining a range of issues. "This is a complex investigation that involves gathering information including witness statements, pathology, forensics and ballistics analysis and we have stated to the coroner that it will be completed within four to six months," the statement said. "One of the key elements we will seek to establish is the sequence of events concerning the non-police issue firearm found at the scene. That has not been established yet, contrary to what has been written in the Guardian article today. "We would urge people not to rush to judgment until our investigation is complete and they have the opportunity to see and hear the full evidence themselves." The statement said the IPCC believes the headline on the Guardian's article was "misleading, speculative and wholly irresponsible".


Saturday, 19 November 2011

Four police officers stabbed in north London

Posted On 14:23 0 comments

 

Four police officers were stabbed as they tried to detain a man after a disturbance in north London, Scotland Yard said on Saturday. Police said officers were called to an incident shortly before 9 a.m. on the main road in Kingsbury where they had tried to speak to a man before he ran into a butcher's shop and grabbed a knife. "Officers followed the man in an attempt to detain him and were subsequently assaulted," Chief Superintendent Dal Babu told reporters. "Four male police constables suffered stab injuries during the incident and have been taken by the London Ambulance Service to hospital." One was stabbed in the stomach, a second suffered head injuries and stab wound to his arm, the third was stabbed in the leg, and the last sustained stab wounds to a hand and also suffered a broken hand. Witnesses told media the suspect had been shouting at police beforehand and up to 10 officers had tried to calm him down. A 32-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and is being quizzed at a police station in the area.


Suspect In Hartford Shooting Arrested

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A gang member was arraigned in Superior Court in Hartford this week on charges that he shot and seriously injured two members of a rival gang and one of their friends last year. Jason Figueroa, who was serving a three-year prison sentence on an unrelated gun and drug conviction, was charged Thursday with three counts each of attempt to commit murder and first-degree assault. Topics Crimes Crime Victims Firearms See more topics » He was also charged with criminal use of a weapon, criminal possession of a firearm and carrying a pistol without a permit.


Plea bargains reached in gang case

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What started out as nine defendants in a conspiracy case involving a local street gang, now has been whittled down to four as two more men took plea bargains this week. Salathiel Rodriguez Mathis pleaded guilty Friday to one count of street terrorism before Judge Michael Smith in San Bernardino Superior Court. He was sentenced to the aggravated term of three years in state prison. He received credit for 532 days already served, of which half were credits for good behavior. The offense counts as a strike. Prosecutors allege the defendants in the case, who are members or associates of the Pimps, Players, Hustlers and Gangsters street gang, were arrested on March 28 and March 29 on suspicion of conspiring at a San Bernardino apartment to kill two members of rival street gangs. The men made an agreement to kill the pair, collected weapons and went to their vehicles to carry out the plan, prosecutors allege in a criminal complaint filed in Superior Court. Mathis faced a possible sentence of life in state prison, if he had gone to trial was convicted, his lawyer James Gass said afterward. He described the case as "problematic." Other defense lawyers who are involved have said the prosecution's case hinges on a confidential informant. "When you're alleged to be a gang member, it's hard to get a fair shake," Gass said. Wilson accepted a plea bargain in his case Thursday. He pleaded guilty to attempted voluntary Advertisement manslaughter with a sentence enhancement for the personal use of a gun, said Deputy District Attorney Michael Selyem. Wilson was sentenced to 12 years in state prison. Three other defendants - Edward Jermaine Lair, Henry Alfred Duffey and Jermaine Lee Brodie - will be sentenced Dec. 2 as part of plea bargains they accepted earlier. Selyem said much of the credit in the investigation and follow-up in the PPHG case should go to San Bernardino police officer John Plummer. "I was very, very satisfied that the five guys who plead, did," Selyem said after the proceedings. He said he is ready to go to trial on the remaining four men: Damon Dupree Coleman, Khaalis Batch Atkins, Albert Brodie and Willie Shante Brown.PPHG became well-known in San Bernardino after 13 members or associates were convicted in the 2005 shooting that killed 11-year-old Mynisha Crenshaw and wounded her older sister. The gang sought out members of a rival gang at a San Bernardino apartment complex, and the girls became unintended victims after guns were fired into their apartment.


Motorcycle gang member pleads not guilty to murder charge in Nugget shooting

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One of three suspects charged in connection with a rival motorcycle club melee on a crowded Sparks casino dance floor during Street Vibrations pleaded not guilty Thursday to an indictment charging him with murder and conspiring to fight with his rivals. Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez, 53, of San Francisco was arraigned in Washoe District Court before Judge Connie Steinheimer on an indictment filed Nov. 9 related to the Sept. 23 shooting death of Jeffrey Pettigrew at John Ascuaga's Nugget. Steinheimer entered the guilty pleas on behalf of Gonzalez, who stood silent. Gonzalez was arrested about a week after the shooting in San Francisco and returned to Reno on Monday. Three attorneys from the public defenders office represented him during Thursday's brief hearing. Asked by the judge Thursday if he understood what was going on, Gonzalez said, "Yeah, I guess." He said he was comfortable with his defense team so far and had no questions. Gonzalez is a member of the San Jose Vagos motorcycle club, and Pettigrew was president of the San Jose chapter of the Hells Angels.


Friday, 18 November 2011

The Los Vagos gang referred to initiations as “baptisms” in which prospective members were beaten

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The Los Vagos gang referred to initiations as “baptisms” in which prospective members were beaten, said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

Indicted were 12 members and associates of Los Vagos for conspiring to commit murder, possess guns and distribute narcotics, he said.

According to the indictment the gang designated its turf with graffiti: VGS, VGS-116, for 116th Street, and 10 MDS for 10 Mandamientos, or 10 Commandments.

Bharara said the gang was responsible for a shooting that took place in June near 96th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. One person was wounded.


Five members of a Bristol gang who posted a video of themselves with guns on the internet have been jailed.

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Bristol Crown Court heard the "St Pauls Blood Gang" members made the film about two years ago.

When police raided one of their houses, one of the guns they found was from the video.

O'Shane Finlayson, 20, Linus Campbell, 22, Narwayne Parchment, 22, and Noah Ntuve, 25 were jailed on Tuesday. Kamari Lee was jailed on Wednesday.

The court heard that the video had been taken off social networking websites.

While Ntuve was singing, Campbell produced a .22 handgun and pointed it over his shoulder, the court heard.

Another video by the gang made in April last year and posted on YouTube showed gang members wearing their trademark red neckerchiefs, talking of guns and killing, and boasting about their gang being better than one in nearby Easton.
'Significant impact'

Guns were found hidden behind bath panels in the raid on Parchment's house on Sussex Place in February, including the .22 handgun.

Another video shows gang members wearing their trademark red neckerchiefs

Finlayson, Campbell, Parchment and Lee pleaded guilty to firearms offences, at Bristol Crown Court.

Ntuve was sentenced for possession of a prohibited weapon.

Finlayson, of Upper Cheltenham Place; Campbell, of no fixed address; and Parchment, of Sussex Place; were sentenced to six years each in jail.

Ntuve, 25, of Argyle Road, where the video was filmed, was sentenced to five years in jail; and Lee, 18, of Barton Hill, was jailed for three years.

Insp Gary Haskins, of Avon and Somerset Police, said the inquiry had been complex and the sentencing of the gang would have "a significant impact on the community".

He added: "Gun crime in our force area is thankfully very rare but its consequences can be devastating."


Gas gang, which stands for Guns and Shanks,Five convicted of killing gang rival aged 15

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Five teenagers were convicted today of chasing a 15-year-old boy from his school gates and stabbing him to death in a gang-related attack. Zac Olumegbon was knifed in the heart and also had wounds to his chest, neck and buttocks. His hands and arms were scarred showing that he had tried to ward off the blows. He was cornered by the youths wearing hoodies in a back garden 100 yards from the Park Campus school in West Norwood. Another schoolboy was also stabbed but Zac was the prime target in the attack in July last year. At the Old Bailey four of the youths were found guilty of murder and a fifth convicted of manslaughter. They can be named for the first time today after Judge Giles Forrester QC lifted an anonymity order. The murderers are Helder Demorais, now 17, Kyle Kinghorn, who is 18 today, Ricardo Giddings, 17, and Jermael Moore, 17. Moore was a promising grime artist, known as J-kid or Younger Sneaky, who had posted videos on YouTube under a gang name. Some of the footage, which includes the sound of shots being fired, shows hooded and masked youths making gun symbols with their hands as he raps lyrics. Shaquille Haughton, 16, was the youth convicted of manslaughter. They will be sentenced next month. The court heard that Zac was a victim of a feud involving the Gas gang, which stands for Guns and Shanks (knives), based around Loughborough Road and the Angel Town estate in Brixton. Their rivals were the The five youths arrived at the school by car knowing their victim would be turning up for class. The teenager had spoken at a conference on youth violence the day before and vowed to help other teenagers, his mother said in a statement. He wanted to share his experiences with those who had endured "similar struggles to him", said Shakira Olumegbon. She said he had left for school "happy" on the day of his death after discussing the future with her. But Ms Olumegbon received a phone call from school to tell her he had been attacked. She said: "I remember praying he would be okay. The scene that confronted me was indescribable."


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

private jets waved through customs and immigration checks

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Home Secretary Theresa May (Pic:PA)

Home Secretary Theresa May (Pic:PA)

THERESA May was fighting for her job last night after damning new documents fuelled the scandal of lax security at our borders.

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Leaked emails showed that thousands of private jet passengers were allowed into the UK without going through immigration or customs.

They also revealed the Home Secretary relaxed checks at airports on at least 2,500 occasions this summer.

And the Mirror can reveal passport applications are being secretly subjected to a controversial new “postcode lottery” trial scheme.

The High Risk Applications scheme is based on fraud statistics. Staff were given a list of postcodes to check against every new passport application or renewal. Applicants in areas deemed to be higher risk face several weeks additional delay in getting their passports.

In London, the only areas which get virtually no checks are postcodes that begin with WC and EC – the most central and prosperous areas. Meanwhile applications from women aged 50 and over are often waved through.

A source said: “It’s a classic Tory policy, and it discriminates against those they deem to be living in ‘poor’ areas.

“The whole thing smacks of elitism and snobbery. A lot of people are very unhappy with the process.”

These revelations come on the day ousted Border Agency official Brodie Clark gives evidence to MPs on how he was pushed out by Mrs May.

Brodie Clark (Pic: DM)

Borders boss Brodie Clark

Labour yesterday released the leaked emails showing UK Border Agency staff were told NOT to check passengers arriving in the UK by private jets – at the instruction of the Home Office.

From March 2, 2011, anyone on a private charter did not have to show their passports and could avoid customs. Figures show there are between 80,000 to 90,000 private flights each year, carrying two to three passengers.

The emails show an unnamed official at Durham Tees Valley Airport warned the UK Border Agency that the policy was putting the UK’s security at risk.

He said that staff “continue to feel uneasy about an instruction that is at odds with national policy and is creating an unnecessary gap in border security which, if exploited by the unscrupulous, could bring the Agency into disrepute”.

He also warned there was no way of checking if the number of people arriving in the country was the same as they had been advised.

His manager at the UK Border Agency’s Border Force said the “no checks policy” was part of a “new national strategy”.

In a further blow to Mrs May, other leaked documents showed how Britain’s borders were abandoned on hundreds of occasions over summer.

The Home Secretary ordered a pilot scheme, which ran from July to October this year, under which Border Agency staff could relax checks on passengers. It meant people arriving from the European Economic Area did not have the biometric chip in their passport checked, while children under 18 could be waved through.

These “level 2 checks” were used on at least 2,600 occasions. The relaxed regime was used to speed up queues at immigration control.

According to an email from a Border Agency Border Force official, the checks were relaxed 100 times in the first week of the trial and more than 260 times in the sixth week.

We revealed last week that officials warned Mrs May the easing of border checks could lead to a rise in child trafficking.

Mrs May admits to bringing in the pilot scheme without informing MPs. But she claims that Mr Clark went further by extending it to include passengers from outside Europe.

Mr Clark, who resigned last week, denies he acted without ministerial authority. His testimony to the Commons select committee could prove very damaging to Mrs May.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said last night: “This is startling new information about the scale of the borders fiasco.

“Ten days on there are even more questions than answers about what on earth was going on at our borders.

“Last week the Home Secretary told us no one had been waived through without checks. But these documents show passengers on private flights weren’t even seen.

"Last week the Home Office wouldn’t admit to having figures about how often checks were downgraded. Now we know those figures exist and that checks were downgraded 260 times in one week alone.

“The Home Secretary needs to show she is capable of sorting this fiasco out rather than making it worse.”

Last night, the Home Office refused to comment on the trial.

The UKBA said: “It is not true that we don’t carry out ­passport and warnings checks on private flight passengers and will deploy officers to airfields where we have concerns.”





Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez, 53, arrived at Washoe County jail for proceedings related to the Sept. 23 shooting of Jeffrey "Jethro" Pettigrew of the Hells Angels inside a hotel-casino

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Vagos motorcycle gang member arrested in the slaying of a rival at a Sparks casino was transferred Monday to Reno from California to await a court appearance on a murder charge, authorities said. Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez, 53, arrived at Washoe County jail for proceedings related to the Sept. 23 shooting of Jeffrey "Jethro" Pettigrew of the Hells Angels inside a hotel-casino, Sparks police said. Pettigrew was president of the Hells Angels chapter in San Jose, Calif. The extradition of Gonzalez came after Hells Angels member Cesar Villagrana, 36, was rearrested Thursday in San Jose on an indictment charging him with murder in the case, Sparks police Detective Rocky Triplett said. Gonzalez's lawyer, David Chesnoff, wasn't immediately available for comment. Gonzalez was arrested Sept. 30 in San Francisco. Villagrana, of Gilroy, Calif., was with Pettigrew when he was shot. Two Vagos members were wounded in the casino shootout, and another was shot in the stomach the next morning by a gunman in a passing car. Triplett said Villagrana was charged with murder because he can be seen on casino security video drawing a gun and shooting at others. Villagrana was arrested the night of the shooting with a 9mm Smith and Wesson semi-automatic handgun that had been reported stolen in Arizona in 1998, police said. He was previously freed on $150,000 bail after being charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon, carrying a concealed weapon illegally and discharging a firearm in a structure. Villagrana has not entered a plea on any of the charges. Richard Schonfeld, defense co-counsel, told Sparks Justice Court Judge Susan Deriso during a court appearance that Villagrana came from a stable family and had no prior felony convictions.


Four-year sentence for fatal Maple Ridge stabbing

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A drunken argument between two men on their way to an after-hours bash at a Hells Angels clubhouse led to the fatal stabbing of one and a four-year sentence for the other. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ronald McKinnon handed Coquitlam's Andrew Leach the jail term Monday after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter for killing James William Ball on Sept. 25, 2009. Leach has already been in jail for more than two years, so McKinnon credited him with double-time and said the sentence equalled an eight-year term. McKinnon addressed Ball's family in the New Westminster courtroom before pronouncing the sentence. "I can only express the court's sympathy for their very grave loss. Nothing done today is going to lessen their burden or make things easier. I read the very poignant victim impact statements which underscore the loss and pain this offence has occasioned to these innocent victims," McKinnon said. "I doubt that I am the first person to observe that this death was completely avoidable which makes it all the more tragic." Crown prosecutor Andrew Blunt read an agreed statement of facts and played a grainy, dark video of the fatal stabbing behind a Safeway on Lougheed Highway in Maple Ridge. Leach, Ball and a third man had been drinking at Club Climax in Maple Ridge until it closed at 2 a.m. They all decided to head to a nearby HA clubhouse for an after-hours party in a truck driven by the third man, Blunt explained. During the ride, Ball, 43, and Leach, now 28, began to argue. The driver pulled over behind the Safeway to relieve himself, as the conflict between the two men escalated and they got out of the truck. The Safeway video shows Leach repeatedly stabbing Ball, who is left slumped over a railing on the loading dock. The driver panicked and took off, though later returned for Leach, Blunt said. Ball was not discovered for more than three hours and later died from massive blood loss. McKinnon noted that the injuries to his neck, chest and abdomen wouldn't have been fatal if Ball had received help right away. "It seems apparent that immediate aid for Mr. Ball following his stab wounds would have saved his life," McKinnon said. Instead, Leach was dropped at his Coquitlam condo and learned the next day that Ball had died. The friend present at the crime scene ended up cooperating with police and wore a wire when he later met with Leach to get details of the stabbing. During the recorded meeting, Leach said "because he used a small knife, the wounds should not have been fatal." He explained that he had got rid of the murder weapon and burned his clothes. Leach was originally charged with second-degree murder. He pleaded guilty two months ago to manslaughter. The young father had no criminal history until the stabbing, McKinnon noted. "While one can evoke alcohol as a contributing factor, it does not excuse the crime nor does anyone suggest that it should," the judge said. "Perhaps it stands as a wake-up call to those whose consumption of alcohol tends to deprive them of reason and sense." He said he didn't know what the argument was about, "but it had to be something quite frivolous but made into a big deal because of alcohol consumption."


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Rio de Janeiro’s most wanted drugs baron who controlled the drug trade in South America’s biggest favela with fear and intimidation for 30 years has been arrested

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Pictures showed Lopes, 35, looking anguished in handcuffs as he was led to an armoured vehicle by heavily-armed police
Rio de Janeiro’s most wanted drugs baron who controlled the drug trade in South America’s biggest favela with fear and intimidation for 30 years has been arrested after a high risk undercover police operation.  Photo: AP
Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, known as Nem, was captured after being discovered hiding in the boot of a car stopped at a roadblock, as police surrounded the sprawling Rocinha shanty-town in an attempt finally to wrest back control of the area.

Pictures showed Lopes, 35, looking anguished in handcuffs as he was led to an armoured vehicle by heavily-armed police following his arrest at around midnight on Wednesday.

Brazilian police said the man driving the car had claimed to be a Congolese diplomat in an attempt to avoid the vehicle being searched before the occupants offered a bribe of one million Brazilian reais (£357,000) for police to let them go.

Residents of Rocinha and wealthy neighbouring districts alike were gripped by fear amid concerns that the operation could lead to open street battles between police and criminal gangs armed with machine guns, assault rifles and grenades.

Twelve families were reportedly forced from their houses in the night by gang members who wanted to use them as hideouts, while children who attend schools in the area were being excused from lessons.


Wife of murdered Liverpool gangster Colin Smith appeals for information four years on

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THE wife of a Liverpool gangster who was shot dead outside a gym four years ago today called for his killers to be brought to justice. Caroline Smith made a public appeal for information on the anniversary of the death of husband and dad-of-six Colin Smith. He was gunned down as he left Nel’s Gym, in Alderwood Road, Speke, on Tuesday November 13, 2007. Caroline, who was with her husband for 13 years and had four sons aged between seven and 12 with him, said: “It has been four years since Colin was murdered and I cannot rest until the people who carried out this cowardly attack on my husband are caught and put before the courts. “I am convinced there are people out there who know who killed Colin and I cannot understand how they can stand by and say nothing. They are as cowardly as the person who pulled the trigger. “Our worlds were turned upside down the night Colin was killed and I ask anyone who has any information which could lead to the arrest of those responsible to contact the police, so we as a family can find some closure.” On the night of his death, 40-year-old Mr Smith, a passionate Evertonian, took his eldest son to football training. Police believe he was “lured” to the gym, in Alderwood Avenue, for the attack. As he left the gym at about 8pm to return to his black Ford Galaxy car, he was shot twice at close-range in the stomach. It was believed to be a gangland hit. Officers today appealed to anyone who was in the area at the time who may have seen anything which could help inquiries to come forward.


jailed for 30 years for gunning down a rival drug dealer outside Wandsworth Prison in South London

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Last week Rupert Ross, son of a Kings Road boutique owner, was jailed for 30 years for gunning down a rival drug dealer outside Wandsworth Prison in South London. In the days that followed the killing – with the police on his trail and his best friend already dead in a revenge shooting – 30-year-old Ross befriended investigative journalist Wensley Clarkson and in a series of videotaped interviews talked about the murder, his privileged background and the terrifying world of drugs, guns and gangs.

Holding court: Waring a T-shirt for his interview with Wensley Clarkson, Rupert Ross seemed since but described the gang world with cold relish

Holding court: Waring a T-shirt for his interview with Wensley Clarkson, Rupert Ross seemed since but described the gang world with cold relish

On the face of it, the young man who strode into a restaurant near my house in Fulham, West London, in early summer 2009 couldn’t have been further from the stereotypical gang member.

Casually dressed in jeans and a faded T-shirt, Rupert Ross had neatly cropped hair, an athletic build and a soft voice that veered between the well modulated tones of the privately educated middle-class boy he once was and the multi-racial street slang of the inner city. 

Ross had approached me out of the blue through a contact to discuss being filmed for a TV documentary on street gangs. He earned his living running the drug trade on Fulham’s Clem Attlee council estate.

I was wary at first. But the fact that he was a near neighbour of mine fuelled my curiosity.

A week of promised meetings followed, but Ross never materialised. Through a go-between, I was accused of being an undercover policeman – a tricky situation only remedied when I was given a ‘clean bill of health’ by local criminals I’d written about in the past.

Eventually, I met Ross and the ‘middle man’. Ross insisted on sitting with his back to the wall of the restaurant with a clear view of the front entrance ‘in case anyone I don’t like walks in’. 

Fulham had been abuzz with talk of the gangland execution of 20-year-old drug dealer Darcy Austin-Bruce and a retribution killing a few days later. 

 

 



It was only when Ross began to talk that I gradually realised he could be Austin-Bruce’s killer.

He was calm and eloquent and looked very different from the hard-nosed criminal mugshot that was released after his Old Bailey conviction last week. He seemed thoughtful, likeable and sincere, but veered alarmingly from talking about going straight to describing the gang world with cold, almost detached relish.

Chameleon: Ross looked like the ex-public schoolboy he was, when dressed in a smart shirt on his way to court

Chameleon: Ross looked like the ex-public schoolboy he was, when dressed in a smart shirt on his way to court

‘It’s kill or be killed out here in the real world,’ he told me. ‘Anything I’ve dealt with, I’ve dealt with myself. Death is part of my business. I’m the one selling drugs on that estate. No one else had the right to do so and sometimes people have to die if they get in the way.’

I shifted a bit uncomfortably as Ross spoke about murder and gang ‘law’. Not through any fear for my own safety – I’d already been assured I was nothing more than a harmless ‘civilian’ – rather by the proximity of this ruthless subculture to my own middle-class neighbourhood.

‘Without a gun, I feel naked. I feel vulnerable,’ he told me. ‘There is a bullet out there with my name on it. What will be, will be.’

His mother, I learned, is Diana Lank, the hard-working and popular 55-year-old owner of the quirky Kings Road boutique Ad Hoc, who doted on Rupert and paid for him to go to a series of expensive private schools – including the £30,000-a-year Dulwich College. His grandfather is Herbert Lank, a retired Cambridge don and internationally renowned art restorer. A step aunt is the eminently respectable barrister Susan Rodway QC.

Quirky: Ad Hoc, the Kings Road boutique run by Ross' mother Diana Lank

Quirky: Ad Hoc, the Kings Road boutique run by Ross' mother Diana Lank

Ross told me he wanted to speak out as a warning to youngsters. But it became clear that he really wanted to unburden himself about the murder of a former drug-dealing friend turned mortal enemy.

He said: ‘The word is that I’ve killed the guy. People are saying I was the shooter. I’ve got people out to kill me. Apparently it is my fault he’s dead. But he had many enemies. He was out of control. He didn’t really care whose feet he trod on.’

People may wonder why I didn’t go to the police after I met Ross, but he had made it clear to me from the start that he was not running away from them and he would face up to what he had done when they charged him.

I don’t believe my interviews with him would have made any impact on their investigation at the time, as a contact told me murder squad detectives were seeking tangible, forensic evidence of his involvement rather than the content of a filmed interview.But I would have been more than happy to help them with their enquiries if they had come to me, as any law-abiding citizen would have been.

As his trial revealed, a few days before our meeting, but unknown to me at the time, Ross had dressed in a smart suit to look like a visiting lawyer and gunned down his rival in front of a crowd of women and children outside Wandsworth Prison.

He was clearly troubled by the incident, depsite the fact that in the months before the shooting, Austin-Bruce had kidnapped, stabbed and tortured Ross and fired shots at his car.

During that first meeting, Ross made it clear that the execution – Austin-Bruce was shot five times – was intended to send out a clear message. ‘I was the main man – the guy in charge,’ Ross boasted.

‘I controlled all the drugs on the estate. Nothing went in or out without my say-so. Sure I was motivated by money and power. I had a twisted sense of right and wrong but I knew that it was an unfair world. Some were born with a silver spoon like me and others had nothing.’

Now he knew the police were on his trail. He believed he’d either be arrested or would die at the hands of a rival gangster. ‘There’s no point in running from the law. They’ll find you in the end,’ he told me.

Privileged: Teachers at Dulwich College told Ross' mother he was 'highly intelligent but often played truant', his friends described him as a a 'wannabe gangster'

Privileged: Teachers at Dulwich College told Ross' mother he was 'highly intelligent but often played truant', his friends described him as a a 'wannabe gangster'

The Clem Attlee estate is a brutalist Sixties council project, just a stone’s throw from the million-pound houses of the well-heeled Fulham middle classes – including his own childhood home, where his mother still lives.

Friends say that when Ross was ten his father committed suicide, and that this had a ‘profound effect on him’, making him unruly and difficult.

But the Rupert Ross I met steadfastly refused to blame the tragedy on a chain of events that friends and family later claimed left him acting a ‘fantasy’ life as if he was a character from gangster films.

Ross himself told me: ‘Knowing my mum thinks I am a killer is so hard. She brought me up well but I was my own man from a very young age.

‘All the advantages in the world would never have stopped me from going on this path. It’s not her fault I am what I am.’

Chilling: Ross' mug shot, he told Wensley Clarkson he felt 'naked and vulnerable' without a gun

Chilling: Ross' mug shot, he told Wensley Clarkson he felt 'naked and vulnerable' without a gun

One relative said: ‘His mother probably knows in her heart of hearts that Rupert’s guilty, but it’s hard for any mother to accept. She has tried her hardest to bring up Rupert responsibly but he was often on his own while she was out working, and inevitably he started to hang out with kids from the Clem Attlee estate.

‘She tried to make sure any man she had a relationship with would be some sort of role model to him, which makes his career in crime all the more surprising. It’s hard to equate the vicious gangster with the polite, gentle character we all know.’

Teachers at Dulwich College told Ross’s mother that her son was highly intelligent but often a truant. Contemporaries remember him as a ‘wannabe gangster’ who was expelled for taking drugs.

Ross himself told me that he hated school. ‘I just didn’t need it. I was ready to be out on the streets working for myself from a very young age.’

Before he had even hit his teens, Ross had started a gang, and was walking the streets of West London with a knife ‘for self protection’. They stole and sold car radios.

‘That was my first taste of crime and I liked it,’ he said. ‘It seemed easy to me. I had found myself a new family on the estate and they were from a much harder world than I was used to but I mixed easily with them. It was as if I had found my place in life.

‘Sure, there was rage in me. I wanted to be someone. I started using violence to get my way and it was kind of infectious. Then I started having guns, and everything just went crazy from there.’

At the age of 17, Ross took over an empty flat on the Clem Attlee estate and set himself up as the area’s main drug supplier, ruthlessly controlling the estate’s burgeoning drug trade. He had already become addicted to cocaine and cannabis and had been convicted of the first of a series of crimes which was to include burglary, theft and drugs possession.

It was a world where mobile phones were changed every week to avoid detection. And guns were also an everyday part of that lifestyle.

Respectable: Eminent barrister Susan Rodway QC is Ross' step aunt

Respectable: Eminent barrister Susan Rodway QC is Ross' step aunt

‘I always had a piece on me and in that flat I would watch any customers approaching with them in the sights of my gun – just in case they turned out to be the enemy. I even shot at one guy I didn’t know when he came up to my front door. Dunno if I hit him but he never came back. That sent a message out to my enemies.’

Following his murder of Austin-Bruce, Ross had decided not to carry a weapon because he was under constant police surveillance.

He told me: ‘Without a gun, I feel naked. I feel vulnerable. If someone walked in here now, I’d be a sitting duck. But the police are watching me as we speak.’ He pointed. ‘They are there, across the street.’

Sure enough, there were two men in a Vauxhall estate car just opposite the restaurant.

‘I can’t afford to be found with a gun now. At the moment, they have no evidence to link me to the killing.’

It would be almost another year before Ross was charged with the murder of Austin-Bruce. Yet the murder had clearly affected him. He admitted in one candid moment: ‘It’s made me rethink everything. It’s madness out there and I got caught up in it all. I wouldn’t want anyone to take my path. It can only end in death and destruction.’

He even claimed (and I believe him) that he’d presented himself at a local volunteer centre where he wanted to help teenagers to escape a culture of drug-dealing, robbery and violence.

‘I want to help these kids avoid the pitfalls,’ he said. ‘I know better than anyone how easy it is to get sucked in. It really was a case of kill or be killed. I want to get away from that world now but I fear I may have left it too late.’

A week after that first meeting, I got a panicky call from the ‘middle man’ saying that Ross wanted me to film him immediately ‘because he’s not sure how much longer he will be around’.

By now he was so afraid of meeting in public that I agreed he could come to my home. It was there, with a camera rolling, that he told me of the revenge killing of his best friend Anthony Otton on the night of Austin-Bruce’s funeral.

‘I was sitting inside a friend’s house when my best friend went outside to go home. I heard gunshots followed by a loud panicked knock on the door. I opened the door and my best friend fell to the floor. He’d been shot in the chest.

‘The shooter then came behind him, shot through the door and ran off with no mask on. My best friend died there in the hallway. He only got hit once in the chest but it hit his main artery and it killed him.’

Much to the frustration of police investigators, Ross refused to identify the man who shot dead his best friend. The case remains unsolved.

Ross’s family include pillars of society from high-flying lawyers to academics, a hypnotherapist and even a Government drugs adviser. Contrary to some reports, his grandfather and step aunt Ms Rodway have rallied round his mother and given their full support.

His family is deeply worried that Ross may be a target in prison. ‘Rupert has a price on his head. We all know that,’ a relative told me.

Ross himself told me: ‘Prison doesn’t scare me. I’ll make it work for me just like everything else in my life.

‘I don’t really fear anything any more. Not even death.

‘I suppose in some ways I am emotionally dead. But the life I’ve led has made me that way. I wouldn’t have survived even this long if I’d let it all get to me.’

The last time I saw Rupert Ross was a couple of days before he was arrested. He knew it was coming. His voice shook as we talked briefly on a street corner. He wore a hood and looked a haunted man. He told me: ‘I can’t help you any more.’

With that he walked away. I knew I’d never see him again.



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