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Monday, 31 October 2011

Welcome to Oculto Café – Cordoba’s infamous Satanic saloon.

Posted On 23:51 0 comments

 

GLASSES shoot across tabletops, busty vamps serve blood-red cocktails, and twisted locals raise a toast to an image of Aleister Crowley. Welcome to Oculto Café – Cordoba’s infamous Satanic saloon. The bar is situated in a maze of narrow, winding streets in the ancient ‘Old Town’ district. Stepping outside for a Marlboro, I scan my surroundings. It’s a chilly, moonlit night and the streets are deserted. Strain your ears, however, and you’ll hear muffled voices coming from dark balconies. It’s like a scene from Interview with the Vampire. As I re-enter, the room falls silent. A cross-eyed chap stares at me… well, I think it’s me… it’s hard to tell. Had my gothic guy-liner run, or had he caught a whiff of fresh meat? In this insular atmosphere, I feel as welcome as Gary Glitter at Tivoli World! Forget fruit machines and pool tables, it’s ouija boards and tarot cards that keep these punters amused. A little weakened, I seize a newspaper and hide in the corner. Alongside ads for ‘Black Angels’ and ‘Colombian Swallowers’, the classifieds are swarming with clairvoyants. I’m shocked! Isn’t Spain supposed to be a God-fearing country? But the truth is, up until the Inquisition (1478), Iberia was a hotbed of magic and sorcery. With the coming of Catholicism, however, mystics – including ‘witches’ and ‘healers’ were round-up and executed. For survival’s sake, Spaniards severed their ties with the ‘other side.’ Today, however, there is growing evidence that Spain is returning to its supernatural roots. Church-going is down (just 14.4%), and stories of Satanism are everywhere. In March 2011, an Almerian church was littered with satanic scrawls. Investigators claimed that the site had been used for a “black mass.” Tenerife’s Arona Cemetery has also been targeted by sinister cults. In 2008, graves were desecrated and animals sacrificed during “bizarre nocturnal rituals”. For sceptics, it’s easy to blame rebellious youth or drug-addicts for these atrocities. However, as someone who’s experienced dark forces – first hand – I try to keep an open mind. It all started in 2001 when I was filming a documentary at Devon’s Berry Pomeroy. In the castle grounds, I indivertibly captured an inhuman figure on camera.  Whilst replaying the footage to BBC colleagues, the office computers went wild. In 2009, I moved my family to a 15th century cottage on the West Pennine Moors. Unbeknown to us, our ‘dream house’ was built on a Quaker burial site. During our six-month stay – we endured stamping noises, icy chills and orbs zipping round the lounge. At night, the constant thumping would deprive us of sleep, and we’d trudge into work like a couple of zombies. However, my most recent spooking occurred right here in Andalucia. One evening, I watched a can of Asturiana cider move sideways, hover and then drop off the table! Earlier that day, an old drinking buddy had been buried in Devon – was this his final ‘chin-chin’? Whatever it was, it scared the bejesus out of my missus and she hasn’t slept properly since. Two weeks on, and we’re sitting in Oculto, trying not to blush at orgy paintings. After some Dutch courage, I enquire about a séance at the bar. A black-toothed midget points towards a battered wooden door. Timidly, I wander down the corridor and knock on wood. It’s opened by a raven-haired gypsy. She’s both beautiful and grotesque: Penelope Cruz’s mum meets the Bride of Chucky. Without speaking – she beckons me in with a long, black talon. With low ceilings, purple walls and an absence of windows – the room is claustrophobic and unsettling. Under flickering candlelight, the Victorian death portraits seem to eyeball you from the walls. But it’s the cold air and fetid stench that’s really sending shivers down my spine. The woman glides over to a monolithic Ouija board and orders me to sit. She lays out a clutch of cards, including The Hanged Man, The Fool, The Stig, Jeremy Clarkson, Dog the Bounty Hunter, The Archbishop of Canterbury and Boy George. Okay… I lied about Boy George – but it’s all the scary ones! Suddenly, my stomach churns and I shout ‘Stop!’ I apologise for wasting her time – but I’ve got the heebie-jeebies. A floating cider is hardly The Ring – so why risk opening a fresh can of worms? I chat to Jose, a Pepe Reina lookalike in his late 20s. Around us, weirdoes chuck darts at an image of the Pope (only joking….it’s Desmond Tutu!) Jose is erudite and speaks fine English. Over Osbourne brandies, I pose the question: “So….Are you a Satanist?” “Of course”! Jose replies: Usually, I’d grab my coat, but by now, I’m immune to the madness. After dispelling myths of “priest-beating” and “baby-eating”, Jose insists that Satanists are “Perfectly normal.” Apparently, the only difference is they choose “indulgence over abstinence’, and prefer “vengeance” to forgiveness. Oh…..and they enjoy kinky sex and coke-snorting – but hey… so does the cast of Skins. By 1am I’m craving a Horlicks and a late night snack. I thank Jose and wish him a “hell-of-a-life.” We leave Occulto and hot-foot it to the Corredera for a greasy kebab. After filling our faces, we clamber into a taxi. We’re only 10-minutes from the hotel – but I’m bloated on beer and lamb offal. Back at the room, Jose’s words haunt me. Having spent the last five hours binge-drinking, ogling rude pictures and eating crap – could I be accused of “indulgence”? If Christianity equals modesty, chastity and turning the other cheek, what about all those times I’ve bought designer togs, belted a thug or lusted over lesbians? Perhaps I’m more Satanic than I thought? By bedtime, I’d seen no demons, virgin sacrifices or people snacking on goats’ head soup. This said, not everyone was as friendly as Jose, and the yokels at the bar seemed quite menacing. I’ve yet to decide whether Satanists are ordinary folk – daring to be different, or psychopaths to be avoided at all costs. I DO know, however, that pentangles are not for me. For one – I like animals too much to put their heads on sticks – and secondly, I root for the “goodies” when it kicks off on Buffy. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my time at Occulto and found the experience enlightening. Whatever they are (or aren’t), there’s a pub full of them in Cordoba, and if you ever feel like taking a walk on the wild side, you know where to head.


Body found in boot of crashed car on Alicante motorway

Posted On 16:51 0 comments

 

Firemen called out to an accident on the A-31 Alicante-Madrid motorway early on Monday found an unidentified body in the boot of a car which had crashed into the central reservation at Sax and then burst into flames. The body was partially burnt but appears to be that of a man. Reports indicate that the deceased had been tied up and gagged. No other occupants were found at the site and the Civil Guard are now trying to identify the victim and the cause of death.


Hells Angels have had a rough year in California.

Posted On 16:38 0 comments

 

The Hells Angels have had a rough year in California. Three Northern California members have died violently in the last month amid a turf battle with a rival biker gang. And law enforcement officials on both ends of the motorcycle club's home state are pursuing and jailing members, with 26 Angels and their associates arrested recently in San Diego. The violence spilled into public view in the unlikeliest of places two weeks ago when thousands of Harley-Davidsons rolled up to a San Jose cemetery on a sunny Saturday afternoon to bury a Hells Angels leader who was gunned down weeks earlier in a Nevada casino. A Hells Angel allegedly shot and killed a fellow member at the cemetery and fled — the latest sign of the in-fighting and violence that has plagued the gang in recent months. And if the deadly gunfire were not enough, a member was plowed down by a van a week later near Oakland, the alleged the victim of road rage. While no one is predicting the demise of the notorious outlaw motorcycle club, law enforcement officials and gang experts said the Hells Angels' recent woes still stand out for an organization they describe as violent, sophisticated and disciplined with loyal-to-the-death members. "They are the heavyweight champions of the biker gang culture," said Jay Dobyns, an agent with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who infiltrated the Hells Angels in Arizona for two years beginning in 2001. "And every other biker gang wants the belt." The organization has a long history in California, dating to its founding in 1948 by returning World War II veterans in the dusty town of Fontana and including a notorious incident during a Rolling Stones show in Altamont in 1969 in which a spectator was stabbed by a Hells Angel working security. A jury later acquitted the killer, finding he acted in self defense. The U.S. Department of Justice says the Hells Angels now have as many as 2,500 members in 230 chapters in 26 countries, and are a major source of drug-trafficking. Federal, state and local police have pursued the club for decades, infiltrating it with undercover agents, prosecuting suspects with harsh charges once reserved for the Mafia and indicting members on charges ranging from drug trafficking to mortgage fraud. Yet the club flourished. They opened chapters worldwide, aggressively enforced their trademarks in court like a responsible Wall Street corporation and won high-profile acquittals and other legal battles with law enforcement. The ATF, which handles many federal biker cases, said it arrested more outlaw motorcycle gang members last year than any other since 2003. Police in Germany, Canada and elsewhere also report a surge in motorcycle gang violence, with much of it connected to the Hells Angels. The California Hells Angels' current problems are partly rooted in a battle with the Vagos, a California-based motorcycle club founded in the 1960s. The clubs have been bitter enemies dating at least back a decade to a violent 2001 confrontation at a Costa Mesa swap meet. "These groups are trying to expand their membership and dominance," said Kent Shaw, the California Attorney General's acting head of law enforcement. "There's going to be a number of clashes and it seems to have gotten worse over the last couple years. It seems to be coming to a flash point." After dozens of Vagos took over a bar in Lakeport, Calif., and rode their motorcycles up and down the main drag, officials went so far as to close the downtown to traffic on May 14. Lake County Sheriff Frank Rivero said the Vagos were making a statement about controlling the region after one of its members was allegedly beaten by Hells Angels earlier in the year. So Rivero put up a road block that day after the California Highway Patrol and FBI warned that Hells Angels were traveling toward town. The Angels turned back before reaching the road block. But now the district attorney is investigating whether the sheriff violated the club members' civil rights with his plans to stop them. The sheriff is unapologetic. "It's a basic response," Rivero said. "I'm not going to tolerate gang violence in Lake County." A month later, a Vagos member and a friend were severely beaten in a casino. Four Hells Angels have been charged with assault. Three were arrested and the sheriff said they were bailed out by fellow Angel Steve Tausan, who owned a bail bonds company. A fourth is being sought. In September, the two gangs fought again. San Jose Angels leader Jeffrey "Jethro" Pettigrew was slain during a wild shootout with rival Vagos in a Reno-area casino on Sept. 23. It was at Pettigrew's burial where more violence occurred. Two shots were fired, and Tausan, Pettigrew's good friend and high-ranking Angel, lay bleeding with a mortal wound. Police suspect fellow Angel Steve Ruiz of firing on Tausan after they argued over the casino shooting and whether enough was done to protect Pettigrew, the president of the San Jose chapter. Police are now searching for Ruiz, who reportedly was hustled into a waiting car, leaving behind his motorcycle. Investigators initially feared Ruiz was killed and went so far as to dig up Pettigrew's grave in search of a body. But now police believe he is on the run with his girlfriend. San Jose police were out in force Saturday as Tausan was laid to rest at the same cemetery where he was killed during the Oct. 15 funeral. A police spokesman said there were no reports of any disturbances or violence. The Hells Angels didn't respond to numerous phone calls and email messages sent to their clubhouses in San Jose and Santa Cruz, where Tausan served as the chapter's sergeant at arms. The Angels have always maintained they are a club of motorcycle enthusiasts who are unfairly regarded as an organized crime syndicate because of the crimes of a few members acting independently. The club participates in charity events, such as "Toys for Tots" motorcycle runs and blood drives. "When we do right, nobody remembers," the club's Web site states. "When we do wrong, nobody forgets." Karen Snell, a lawyer who won a $1.8 million settlement in 2005 after the San Jose chapter filed a lawsuit claiming illegal police searches during a murder investigation, said Pettigrew, Tausan and the others involved with the case were serious businessmen with families. "They were really responsible clients," Snell said. "In my all my interactions with them, they were always gentlemen." Now Pettigrew and Tausan are dead. "We lost our brother, our father, our son and our friend," said Karen Tausan, Steve's sister. "He left a big hole in our family and we can only hope this will come to an end now."


Video threatens to disclose Zetas allies

Posted On 09:14 0 comments

 

An Internet video is threatening Mexico's Zetas drug cartel with exposure of its allies in the local police and news media this week unless the gang frees a kidnapped member of the international hacker movement known as "Anonymous." The YouTube message, which claims to be from Anonymous "Veracruz, Mexico and the world," says it is "tired of the criminal group the Zetas, which is dedicated to kidnapping, stealing and extortion," and threatens to fight back with information instead of weapons. It said it knows of police officers, journalists, taxi drivers and others working with the Zetas. The video refers to an unidentified person kidnapped in the coastal city of Veracruz, and says: "You have made a great mistake by taking one of us. Free him." The hacker group, which has claimed responsibility for attacks on corporate and government websites worldwide, supposedly will act Friday if the kidnapped activist is not freed or is harmed, according to the message. "We cannot defend ourselves with weapons, but we can with their cars, houses, bars," the message adds, apparently alluding to properties owned by cartel supporters. "It's not difficult. We know who they are and where they are are." "Information is free," it says. "We do not forgive. We do not forget." An official with the Veracruz state attorney general's office, who could not be named because he was not authorized to speak on the record, said the office could not confirm video's authenticity or the case of the kidnapping. Veracruz, an oil state on the Gulf of Mexico with a major port of the same name, has seen a spike in drug violence in recent months in what authorities say is a battle between the Zetas drug cartel, which has controlled the territory for at least a year, and its rivals. Dozens of bodies have been showing up in recent weeks, including the dumping of 35 last month on a main highway in rush-hour traffic in the city of Boca del Rio. Two other Internet postings since July have announced the arrival of group that calls itself the "Mata Zetas," or Zeta Killers, who authorities say are likely aligned with the powerful Sinaloa Cartel. Others have raised questions about whether the group's members are vigilantes or other rogue bands taking justice into their own hands against the Zetas. The new message, presented by someone wearing a theater mask that is a trademark of Anonymous, was reportedly uploaded to websites early this month, but was first reported Friday on the website of the global intelligence think tank Stratfor. Stratfor, in its analysis of the video, said anyone exposed by Anonymous as a Zetas collaborator — accurately or not — would be targeted by rival gangs, and the Zetas could respond by attacking Internet activists even if they are not affiliated with Anonymous. Three people have been killed recently in the northern states of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas by suspected Zetas who apparently believed the victims used the Internet to spread information about the gang.


Sunday, 30 October 2011

Funeral held for Hells Angel killed at fellow biker's burial begins

Posted On 22:18 0 comments

 

The only gunfire at the funeral of Hells Angel Steve Tausan on Saturday came as a salute from the U.S. Marine honor guard. The former Marine, professional boxer and legendary biker was memorialized Saturday morning at Jubilee Christian Church before being buried at Oak Hill Memorial cemetery in San Jose -- exactly two weeks after he was shot and killed at the funeral of another member of the motorcycle club. Although about 1,000 bikers rumbled in from all quarters, there was no trouble, dissension or arrests. There were only bear hugs, tears and memories of the Santa Cruz "enforcer" who called himself Mr. 187, after the penal code for murder. On top of Sunrise Hill they buried his red-and-white casket in the Hells Angels tradition -- by shovel. Sonny Barger, a founding member of the Oakland chapter of the Hells Angel and an iconic figure in the club, tossed one of the last shovels of earth on the grave, as a police helicopter circled overhead. "They said they would have a quiet, respectful funeral and then they were going to leave town," said acting Capt. Jeff Marozick, the commander of the San Jose Police Department's special operations who had negotiated details of the funeral with the notorious biker club. "Everything they said is what they did." Amid the heavy police presence, Saturday's somber service was relatively smaller and peaceful, in sharp contrast to the huge and chaotic funeral of Jeff "Jethro" Pettigrew. That Advertisement service drew more than 3,000 bikers. Before Pettigrew could be buried, Tausan, a Santa Cruz resident, was fatally wounded during a bloody biker battle with another Hells Angel. Aside from the odd arrest of an individual member, the notorious outlaw motorcycle club has been out of the headlines in the South Bay for years. But in recent weeks, the shooting deaths of Pettigrew and Tausan, the continued search for suspect Steven Ruiz and the bizarre traffic homicide of an East Bay member have put a hot spotlight on the Hells Angel, which law enforcement views as a criminal gang. The Hells Angels have long denied this, and many members have reacted to the recent events with dismay. But the violent way Tausan died was not mentioned at his sentimental service. It was his colorful life they talked about, as an eclectic soundtrack from Tausan's favorite performers -- James Brown, Stevie Ray Vaughn and gospel singers -- reverberated through the big hall. "He was an imposing man," said the Rev. Dick Bernal during the service at Jubilee. "But underneath the muscles and the tattoos beat the heart of a man, the heart of a brother." Bikers from Tausan's home club, along with Henchmen, Devils Dolls and many others from as far away as New England and abroad, made up a long line of mourners. They paid their last respects as he lay in the casket, draped with an American flag and custom painted with the Angels' death's head with wings and the Marine Corps insignia. Tausan was clad in his leather Hells Angels vest, with a pack of Marlboros and an extended combat knife in his folded hands. Next to the casket, there was a blown-up photo of him as a young Marine, his military haircut in stark contrast to the long, silvery mane he sported when he died. Also arrayed around the casket were pictures of Tausan on his Victory motorcycle and with his friends and family. Tausan was better known than most Angels because of the charges he faced in the 1997 beating death of a man at the Pink Poodle strip club in San Jose. He was acquitted. But to the Hells Angels and others, the gregarious and intense man was bigger than life. "His love for his family and his friends in the club was undeniable," Bernal said. "If Steve loved you, you never had to guess. If he didn't love you, you never had to guess." Bernal recalled that Tausan once summoned him to his bail bondsman's office so the two of them could view a 90-minute DVD of James Brown and opera great Luciano Pavarotti performing together. Tausan turned to Bernal and said, "Wasn't that the greatest thing you've ever seen?" Bernal said he agreed, then paused for effect. "You don't disagree with Steve." That drew an appreciative laugh from the crowd.


Notorious gangster arrested again

Posted On 00:29 0 comments

 

One of Finland’s most notorious criminals, Raimo Tienhaara, has been arrested for aggravated drug crimes. The 54 year-old, who was jailed for 11 years in the 1990s for offences he carried out during a previous prison sentence, was apprehended in Helsinki last week and remanded by the District Court. The police drugs unit is refusing to release any details of the alleged crime while the investigation is still ongoing. “At this stage, I am not able to say anything about the nature of the case,” said Detective Inspector Heikki Miettinen in a Helsingin Sanomat report.


Surrey Shooting Leaves Another Indo-Canadian Gangster Wounded

Posted On 00:27 0 comments

 

Indo-Canadian gangster was wounded in a Surrey shooting that left another non-Indo-Canadian dead in what police are calling a targeted gang-related hit on the weekend. At 8:20 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22, a man wearing a balaclava ran up to a black Acura TL at 100 Avenue and King George Boulevard and shot the three people inside. Stephen Leone, 27 – who police say has links to the Indo-Canadian fronted Dhak gang – was fatally shot and two others were injured, including a 15-year-old male. Manjinder Hairan, who police allege is also associated with the Dhak group – suffered minor injuries, as did the unidentified teen. They were treated in hospital and subsequently released. Police claim that Dhak group has been in a violent exchange with the Hells Angels and Red Scorpions for months. On Aug. 14, Jonathan Bacon, a Red Scorpion, was shot dead at a Kelowna hotel and several others were injured, including White Rock Hells Angel Larry Amero. Since then, there have been several attacks on the Dhak group. On Sept. 16, alleged Dhak member Jujhar Singh Khun-Khun, 24, was gunned down in the 10100 block of 144 Street. But police and media and police reports sensationalizing this Indo-Canadian-Hells Angels rivalry isn’t helping matters either.


Saturday, 29 October 2011

Hells Angels feud leaves trail of death and destruction

Posted On 05:33 0 comments

 

The bloody turf war between the Hells Angels and a rival motorcycle club called the Vagos, has also led to shoot outs in the neighbouring states of Nevada and Arizona. According to the US Justice Department both the Hells Angels and the Vagos are "outlaw" gangs involved in drug and weapons trafficking, extortion and money laundering. The current spate of bloodshed between them can be traced to a disagreement at a Stabucks in the beach town of Santa Cruz last year. A brawl in which some participants wielded ball-peen hammers erupted outside the coffee shop before police arrived and bikers scattered. That led to a gunfight in the northern Arizona town of Chino Valley which left five people wounded and 27 under arrest.


Thursday, 27 October 2011

Gang ringleaders: Mehmet Sirin Baybasin (left) and Paul Taylor (Pic: PA)

Posted On 23:46 0 comments

Mehmet Sirin Baybasin (left) and Paul Taylor (Pic: PA)

 

A GANG of drug dealers planned to flood Britain with £4 billion of cocaine - arranging the plot from a phone box.

The Liverpool and London-based gangsters were planning to smuggle 40 tonnes of cocaine from South America by sea, hidden inside tins of fish and wooden pallets.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that the drug would be bought at a "wholesale price" and then sold to other dealers who would dilute it and sell it on.

If all the cocaine had made it to the streets of the UK and it was cut before being sold, the court heard it could have been worth around £4 billion.

The head of the Liverpool operation used a phone box in Old Hall Street, in Liverpool city centre, to arrange the deal with his London counterpart.

But the gang were being watched by undercover officers from the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca).

Phone box on Old Hall Street Liverpool used by a drug dealer in one of the biggest ever cocaine rings

The phone box on Old Hall Street used by one of the drug dealers

The group was led by Mehmet Sirin Baybasin, 48, of Fairfield Crescent, Edgware, north-west London, who was jailed for 30 years at a hearing last week after he was found guilty of conspiracy to import cocaine.

The court heard that Baybasin was one of a total of 24 defendants brought to justice as part of the Soca investigation and that he was "at the top of the pyramid".

Judge David Aubrey QC said the offences had "at their core the evil and pernicious trade of drug dealing" and were indicative of the gang's "desire for the good life".

He said he was satisfied that the amounts they were talking about were not "pie in the sky" and that the wholesale value of 1,102lb (500kg) of uncut cocaine alone was worth a potential £17 million





A deadly spat with origins in Halifax has an eastern Canada police dragnet hunting the gangster wanted for a slaying in Toronto.

Posted On 00:39 0 comments

darnell wrightDarnell St. Clair Wright, 32, is wanted for first-degree murder in the Oct. 2 shooting of Jefflin Beals, 25, on Crawford St. near Trinity Bellwoods Park.

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TORONTO - A deadly spat with origins in Halifax has an eastern Canada police dragnet hunting the gangster wanted for a slaying in Toronto.

Toronto Police said Wednesday Darnell St. Clair Wright, 32, is wanted for first-degree murder in the Oct. 2 shooting of Jefflin Beals, 25, on Crawford St. at Lobb Ave., near Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Homicide Det.-Sgt. Wayne Banks said the two men had an ongoing dispute stretching back at least to 2009, when Beals was a target of a drive-by shooting in Halifax.

The father of two wasn’t injured in that attack and he refused to co-operate with police.

Banks said he’s still not yet clear about the motive of the murder, whether it was personal or gang-related.

Police said Beals, was in a friend’s car when a gunman approached on Crawford St. and opened fire.

Beals got out of the car and stumbled to a lane between two homes, but he died by the time emergency crews found him.

The victim had been staying with friends in Peel after arriving in the city just a few days before he was gunned down in the usually quiet area of west Toronto.

Banks said the gang Wright belongs to — the North Preston Finest — is suspected to be involved in the 2009 drive-by, but it’s unclear if the suspect was involved in that shooting.

“We believe he (Beals) was set up — that Wright found out he was in Toronto and that he was set up to be at that location,” Banks alleged.

The location of the murder, a residential street, “there’s no way it was a chance meeting, say like a night club or somewhere like that,” Banks said.

“He was there for a reason and they were waiting for him.”

But Banks doesn’t know yet what lured Beals to the spot.

He warns anyone who helped set up the ambush or is now hiding Wright will face charges.

“This isn’t just about arresting Darnell, this will be finding out anybody involved in the planning of it and anybody involved in the aiding and abetting after it,” he said.

Banks said there’s conflicting street information that Wright is in Halifax, and “we’re hearing information that he’s still in the city.”

Wright is considered dangerous, he said.


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

“El Gallito” or “The Little Rooster”. Heavily tattooed, El Gallito appears more mature than his age, prosecutors said. State Attorney General Gaspar Garcia Torres said the boy claimed to have been in charge of the lucrative Isla Mujeres drug market

Posted On 09:22 0 comments

 

Mexican police arrest 15-year-old alleged drug-gang operator in murders of 2 women  Prosecutors said Saturday that a 15-year-old boy has confessed to running a drug trafficking gang on the Mexican resort island of Isla Mujeres and murdering two women who reportedly worked as drug dealers. It was the second time in less than a year that an extremely young male has been detained as a purported drug gang killer in Mexico. Last November, soldiers arrested a 14-year-old U.S. citizen who confessed to killing four people whose beheaded bodies were found hanging from a bridge. Comments Weigh InCorrections? Mexican officials say the involvement of youths in such crimes reflects the difficulty drug cartels are having in recruiting adults, but it also raise fears that Mexico’s drug violence may have accustomed young people to extreme levels of violence. The Isla Mujeres cases involve a youth who prosecutors in the Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo identified only by his nickname, “El Gallito” or “The Little Rooster”. Heavily tattooed, El Gallito appears more mature than his age, prosecutors said. State Attorney General Gaspar Garcia Torres said the boy claimed to have been in charge of the lucrative Isla Mujeres drug market for a local gang known as “Los Pelones,” equivalent to the Bald or Shaved Heads. The gang is reputedly fighting the Zetas cartel for control of the area around the coastal resort of Cancun. A spokesman for the prosecutors office said the boy told investigators that he and two older associates slashed the throats of the two women at a hotel on Isla Mujeres. Their women’s bodies were found before dawn Thursday, and El Gallito was detained Friday. “He confessed to having full participation in carrying out these deeds, and from the start he claimed to have been in charge of drug sales in the area, in this case for the Pelones, and that his duties were to receive the drugs,” said the spokesman, who was not allowed to be quoted by name. The women were purportedly killed after they betrayed the Pelones gang by selling drugs they obtained from other sources. The boy was turned over to a youthful offender facility to face homicide charges. Because of his age, he cannot be identified or tried as an adult. In most parts of Mexico, youths are tried and sentenced in juvenile courts, but cannot be held after they turn 18. Last year’s case involved a 14-year-old U.S. citizen, who was identified by his family as Edgar Jimenez Lugo, known as “El Ponchis.” He was sentenced in July to three years in prison for homicide, kidnapping and drug and weapons possession. It was the maximum sentenced allowed for a minor. Authorities say the teenager confessed to working for the South Pacific cartel, which is allegedly led by Hector Beltran Leyva.


Man dead after N. Portland gang shooting

Posted On 09:14 0 comments

 

A man who suffered life-threatening injuries in a gang-related shooting in North Portland Friday night died early Monday morning. An autopsy was planned for Monday for Deandre Clark, 25, according to Lt. Robert King. Police responded just after 10 p.m. to a shots fired call near N Haight Avenue and N Emerson Street, according to King. Officers arrived to find a group gathered in the street around a man who had been shot. Medical crews arrived and took Clark to a nearby hospital with life-threatening injuries. Police set up a perimeter around the scene and called in a K-9 unit to assist with the search, but did not find any suspects.


Brooklyn Woman's Death Result Of Feud Between Gangs

Posted On 09:07 0 comments

 

2011_10_rooftopnb.jpg
Police officers on rooftops (NBC New York)
As police try to find the suspect whoseFriday afternoon shooting from a Brooklyn rooftop left a woman dead and another woman and an 11-year-old girl injured, the slain woman's family remains bereft. Zurana Horton, 34, was killed when picking up a child from P.S. 298 in Brownsville, at Pitkin Avenue and Watkins Street, and apparently died trying to shield other youngsters. One of Horton's children told the Post that she actually walked by the crime scene, not realizing her mother was the victim, "I was wondering where my mother was. I found out later [the body] was my mother. My little sister [Alexis] said, ‘Mommy died. She got shot.’"

 

According to the Post, the violence is due to a feud "stemmed from an ongoing beef between two warring factions, the Hoodstars and the Waves. Members of both gangs told The Post that they consider themselves the modern-day Bloods and Crips -- and sources say their violent feud has been raging for several years." Apparently residents are too afraid to call 911 and say the violence is worse at night, when the gangster "do not hesitate" to shoot.

While neighbors said that Horton, who had 13 living children (a 14th died of pneumonia a few years ago), was pregnant, but the ME's office said that she was not. Still, the tragedy is huge, as her children  will be split up between Horton's mother and her ex-boyfriend, Oniel Vaughn, the father of eight of the children,who told the Daily News, "She gave her life for those kids, and she would have done it all again because that's just the kind of person she was. She was worried about the violence. She said she wanted to move and buy a house for her kids. Those kids were her life." He added, "I didn't tell the younger kids yet. The older ones know. They're devastated."


Police smash gun supply ring operating out of tiny suburban tobacco shop

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POLICE have smashed an alleged black market gun supply ring operating out of a tiny suburban tobacco shop. Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad detectives arrested the alleged leaders of the syndicate last week after a covert buy-up of the weapons and ammunition. The men allegedly used a Lakemba tobacconist shop, King of the Pack, as a front. Detectives are testing three firearms that the police bought to see if they had been used in any crimes, documents tendered in court reveal. George Boulos, 27, and Said Rawdah, 36, charged with numerous offences relating to possessing and supplying illegal firearms, were refused bail in court on Friday. Tobacconist Ayman Said, 50, charged with similar offences, was also refused bail. Instead of an undercover detective, police from Strike Force Snaidero enlisted a "registered source" who was given pre-counted "buy money" to purchase weapons. The court heard that on July 18 the registered police source, known only by a code name, went to the tobacconist and asked the owner, Ayman Said, if he could buy a gun. They negotiated a price of $5000, with Said allegedly telling the buyer the next step would be introducing him to a dealer. The following Monday, police say their source was introduced to Rawdah - the alleged dealer - who handed over a Smith and Wesson .38 revolver for $5000. Police later found it had been in circulation for more than 13 years. It was reported stolen from a break and enter on January 31, 1998.   On August 20, the informant went back to the tobacco shop and, after asking for more guns, was introduced to Boulos, of Padstow, who told the informant he had access to plenty more weapons, including military-grade firearms, the court heard. "Those firearms were a 9mm pistol, a .22 calibre pistol, an AK-47 machinegun and numerous SKS assault rifles," police facts state. "Twelve days later, the pair met at Lakemba railway carpark, where for $13,000 the police source allegedly received a .22mm Jennings pistol, a 7.62mm pistol and ammunition. The buyer viewed the guns in a white van which was driven by an unknown man who was summoned with a phone call from Boulos, Burwood Local Court heard. Last Thursday, police arrested the trio at various locations.   All three will reappear in court in December.


Florida a top source of guns linked to crimes in other states

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2,000 Florida guns last year were linked to crimes committed around the country, and experts say they likely came from the cars and homes of law-abiding Floridians. In 2010, law-enforcement officers around the country traced 2,251 crime guns to Florida, one of the states with the most guns traced in out-of-state crimes. It follows Georgia's 2,568 guns and Texas' 2,301, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Related Top states for crime guns Broward crime rises in first half of 2011 Video: Crimes caught on camera Photos Close calls: Crime artist's sketches Topics Personal Weapon Control Gun Control Interior Policy See more topics » That's because Florida has a huge number of gun owners, and burglars find the weapons when breaking into their homes and cars, authorities said. Video: Mother of pit bull attack victim discusses son's condition "In almost any burglary to a residence, a gun will turn up," Boynton Beach Police Sgt. Sedrick Aiken said. "There's a lot of stolen guns out there." In fact, South Florida last year had the most reported stolen guns in the state. That's 2,310 guns reported stolen in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, according to state records. The number does not include guns reported stolen and then recovered. Typical was the recent arrest of two suspects in Boca Raton, accused of taking $3,750 worth of hunting guns in the burglary of a home in Jupiter. The owner of the guns told police he kept them in a gun safe that was broken into. Richard Sasso, 23, and a 17-year-old boy were arrested in connection with the September burglary. The Sun Sentinel is not naming the juvenile because of his age. He told police they traded the guns for marijuana. It's unclear where the guns ended up. Stolen guns often are sold to criminals, who may end up crossing state lines, experts said. Florida guns also end up in the wrong hands in other states when people come to Florida because gun laws here are more relaxed, Aiken said. Unlike New York, for example, Florida does not require gun buyers to get a permit and allows people convicted of violent misdemeanors to own a gun. Florida also prohibits municipalities from enacting their own gun-control measures. New York is where most of Florida's crime guns — 358 — ended up last year. Not all guns used in crimes are traced through ATF, and not all guns traced are directly used in crimes. They could be guns found at a crime scene or in the possession of a suspected criminal. Marion Hammer, spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association in Florida, said Florida's laws have nothing to do with guns turning up in out-of-state crimes. Many state laws regulate who can sell a gun and to whom a gun can be sold, she said. "If anything, it's lax law enforcement," Hammer said. "I don't know if it's ATF or [the Florida Department of Law Enforcement] or who isn't enforcing it." In December 2009, Washington, D.C., police and FBI agents arrested dozens of alleged gun traffickers and seized 123 guns in an undercover sting, according to The Washington Post. Authorities posed as gun traffickers interested in buying illegal guns to sell to Mexican cartels. In the end, 44 people were arrested in the sting, and the trafficked weapons were traced to Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky. Federal authorities blamed the out-of-state guns for much of the violent crime in the capital. Gary Kleck, professor of criminology and criminal justice at Florida State University, said large-scale, interstate gun trafficking is rare, and often overblown by politicians who want to blame crime on outside factors. Rarely do criminals travel to Florida because they think it's easier to buy guns down South, he said. "This is not about gun trafficking. It's interstate migration," said Kleck, who has interviewed convicted felons and studied the movement of crime guns across state lines. The most common scenario is when someone buys a gun legally in Florida, moves out of state and has his or her weapon stolen in a home burglary. Or a burglar in Florida steals a homeowner's guns and sells it to a someone in another state. "The chances of a burglar coming across a gun here is that much greater than in other states," he said.


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Libya: Col Gaddafi buried at dawn

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Officials said earlier that the ousted Libyan leader would be buried in a secret desert grave, ending a wrangle over his rotting corpse that led many to fear for the country's governability. Transitional government forces had put the body on show in a cold store in Misurata while they argued over what to do with it, until its decay forced them on Monday to end the display. His son Mutassim is thought to have been buried in the same ceremony. A few relatives and officials were in attendance, according to a Misurata military council official. Yesterday, the government bowed to international pressure and announced a commission to determine how Gaddafi died after he was cornered in a drain while trying to flee Sirte, his besieged home town. Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the chairman of the NTC, and other officials have said Gaddafi was killed in crossfire. Mr Jalil said: "In response to international calls, we have started to put in place a commission tasked with investigating the circumstances of Muammar Gaddafi's death in the clash with his circle as he was being captured."


10th Street Gang Member Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Charges

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Efrain Barreto, 32, of Buffalo, N.Y., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara, to Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) conspiracy. The charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Tripi, who is handling the case, stated that between 2000 and 2010, Barreto was a member of the 10th Street Gang, a criminal enterprise engaged in racketeering activity. As a part of his involvement in the 10th Street Gang, the defendant, along with other members and associates of the gang, sold cocaine and other controlled substances on the West Side of Buffalo. As a part of his plea, Barreto admitted that he supplied cocaine to younger members of the gang, and provided firearms to fellow 10th Street Gang members who used the firearms to commit shootings and to defend drug turf within the 10th Street Gang’s territory. The defendant also admitted that he conspired with other 10th Street Gang members to distribute over 15 kilograms of cocaine as a part of the affairs of the 10th Street Gang. Barreto was indicted along with 34 others in this case. He is the ninth to be convicted. The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless convicted at trial. “The 10th Street Gang was responsible for many acts of violence on the West Side of Buffalo for a long period of time, said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “This Office will continue to make the prosecution of such violent street gangs a priority.” The plea is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Investigators of the New York State Police under the direction of Major Christopher Cummings, the Buffalo Police Department under the direction of Commission Daniel Derenda, and special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christopher M. Piehota. Sentencing is scheduled for February 15, 2012, at 12:30 p.m. EST, in Buffalo, N.Y., before Judge Arcara.


FBI Says Gangs Infiltrating the US Military

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The U.S. military is facing a "significant criminal threat" from gangs, including prison and biker gangs, whose members have found their way into the ranks, according to an FBI-led investigation. Some gang members get into the military to escape the streets, but then end up reconnecting once in, while others target the services specifically for the combat and weapons training, the National Gang Intelligence Center says in a just-released 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment/Emerging Trends. Whatever the reasons, it's a bad mix. ""Gang members with military training pose a unique threat to law enforcement personnel because of  their distinctive weapons and combat training skills and their ability to transfer these skills to fellow gang members," the report states. Gang members have been reported in every branch of the armed forces, though a large proportion of them have been affiliated with the Army, the Army Reserves or Army National Guard, it says. The gang report is the third by the NGIC since 2005 and includes the most information yet on gangs in the military. The 2005 report made no mention of gang members in the armed forces, while the 2009 report devoted two paragraphs to the problem and listed 19 gangs said to include military-trained members. The NGIC is a multi-agency operation -- federal, state and local – headed up by the FBI to bring together intelligence on gangs and gang activity. The latest report devotes four pages to the problem and lists about 50 gangs with members with military backgrounds. In the past three years, it states, law enforcement officials in more than 100 jurisdictions have encountered, detained or arrested a gang member who was on active-duty or a former servicemember. Younger gang members, who do not have arrest records, are reportedly making attempts to join the military, and also attempting to conceal any gang affiliation, including tattoos, during the recruitment process. And given the large U.S. military footprint overseas, gangs and gang dependents have found their way onto bases from Japan to Germany and Afghanistan and Iraq, where the center recorded instances of gang graffiti on military vehicles. The report also specifically relates the 2010 cases of three former Marines arrested in Los Angeles for selling illegal assault weapons the Florencia 13 gang, and a U.S. Navy SEAL charged in Colorado with smuggling military-issued machine guns and other weapons from Iraq and Afghanistan into the U.S. "Gang members armed with high-powered weapons and knowledge and expertise acquired from employment in law enforcement, corrections or the military may pose an increasing nationwide threat, as they employ these tactics and weapons against law enforcem4nt officials, rival gang members and civilians," the NGIC report says. The NGIC assessment is not the first to look at the rising problems of gang members in the military. The Army's Criminal Investigation Division has done a number of them over the years. It found the number of investigations of gang-related violent crimes rising to 9 in 2005, after several years of decline, with just 3 the year before. Most Soldiers found linked to gangs are junior enlisted members, CID found. "Overall, military communities continue to be a more stable, secure and lawful environment than their civilian counterparts, especially given recent access control and other security enhancements," Army CID concluded.


Monday, 24 October 2011

Hells Angel biker rammed intentionally, dragged a mile by East Bay Paratransit bus in San Leandro

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A paratransit bus driver intentionally rammed a Hells Angels biker on Interstate 580, and then dragged him about a mile, killing him, a CHP spokesman said. The biker, who has not been identified, was traveling eastbound on I-580 in San Leandro near Grand Avenue with a small group of Hells Angels members before 4 p.m. when an altercation began, said CHP Sgt. Trent Cross. After being hit, the motorcyclist and his bike were dragged for about a mile, said San Leandro police Lt. Greg Lemmon. Eventually, the biker was released from under the East Bay Paratransit bus, but the driver kept dragging the motorcycle, which was wedged underneath the front grill, until the vehicle stopped on the shoulder just east of the 150th Avenue onramp. The Hells Angels biker was flown to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, where he was pronounced dead, Lemmon said. The bus driver has been arrested, Lemmon said. Police are interviewing four witnesses who saw the incident. "The preliminary information they are providing was that it wasn't an accident, it was an intentional ramming," Lemmon said. All eastbound lanes were closed from Grand Avenue to 150th Avenue so police could conduct a homicide investigation over a large swath of freeway, Cross said. The lanes were expected to remain closed until 10 or 11 p.m., he said, and there were significant traffic delays in the area. An East Bay Paratransit manager referred calls to First Transit, a Advertisement contract agency that operates the bus. The First Transit representative did not return calls. No passengers were on board the bus during the collision, said San Leandro police Sgt. Doug Calcagno. The paratransit bus provides door-to-door service for people unable to ride regular public transit because of disabilities. It has been a tragic autumn for the Hells Angels motorcycle club. San Jose chapter President Jeffrey "Jethro" Pettigrew was killed outside a Nevada casino last month. At his packed funeral Oct. 15, Steve Tausan, a 52-year-old Hells Angels enforcer and friend of Pettigrew's, was shot dead.


Stockton search for Hells Angels slaying suspect comes up empty

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A man suspected of fatally shooting a member of the Hells Angels at a recent funeral in San Jose was not holed up in a Stockton home Saturday as police had believed. Steve Ruiz, 38, of San Jose is being sought for allegedly shooting and killing fellow Hells Angels member Steve Tausan, 52, after the two fought Oct. 15 at a funeral for a slain motorcycle club member, according to police. Police had received information that Ruiz had been hiding out at the three-bedroom home on the 3700 block of McDougald Boulevard in Stockton, said San Jose police Sgt Jason Dwyer. Investigators asked Stockton police and the San Joaquin County sheriff's office to serve a search warrant for the home, but both agencies were unavailable, Dwyer said. As a result, San Jose police drove tactical vehicles to the scene. Neighbors said they had seen San Jose police at the scene, calling out to someone in the home to surrender. But after storming the home and firing tear gas at about 8 p.m. Saturday, police came up empty-handed and left. The occupants of the home "are new to the area or they're new to the house" after moving in several months ago, said Noelia Trelles, whose sister-in-law lives next door. "I think we live in a pretty crazy world, but it's still crazy that it's happening in the neighborhood," Trelles said. Ruiz and Tausan were among thousands of Hells Angels members who attended a funeral for Jeffrey Pettigrew, president of the San Jose chapter of the motorcycle club, at the Oak Hill Funeral Home and Memorial Park on Curtner Avenue. After the shooting, Ruiz, 38, of San Jose disappeared and one or more people tampered with the crime scene, washing away bloodstains and removing evidence of the shooting, police said. Police found Ruiz's motorcycle at the funeral, Lt. Alan Cavallo said. Ruiz has not come to claim it. Authorities initially speculated that it was possible Ruiz had been killed and possibly buried along with Pettigrew. Investigators obtained a search warrant to dig up Pettigrew's grave, but Ruiz's remains were not found, Cavallo said. But now investigators say they have proof that Ruiz is alive and "actively evading law enforcement," Dwyer said. Ruiz is believed to have two black eyes "and other facial injuries consistent with being in a fight," Dwyer said. Police said Ruiz is in the company of Christel Renee Trujillo, 42, also known as Christel Renee Ferguson, and that her life "is now in danger." The two are possibly traveling in a gold or pewter Chevrolet Suburban. No year of the vehicle or license plate number was available. Ruiz has family and associates in Arizona and New York and may try to contact them, Dwyer said. Police said Pettigrew was shot and killed Sept. 23 by Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez, an alleged member of the rival Vagos motorcycle gang, at John Ascuaga's Nugget casino in Sparks, Nev. Gonzalez, 53, of San Jose was arrested by a UCSF police officer in San Francisco six days later. Tausan and the manager of the Pink Poodle, a strip club west of San Jose, were tried for murder in 1999 in the beating death of a club customer two years earlier. They were acquitted on grounds of self-defense.


Saturday, 22 October 2011

West Side street gang gunman gets life plus 71 years

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Christian Kenyon, a Scranton street gang member convicted of participating in an execution slaying on Snake Road in 2009, another shooting and a doughnut shop holdup, was defiant Monday when a judge sentenced him to life in prison without parole, plus another 35½ years to 71 years. Mr. Kenyon, wearing leg chains and an orange prison jumpsuit, shuffled up to the bench surrounded by sheriff's deputies and professed his innocence to Judge Carmen Minora. "I shot a corpse," Mr. Kenyon said. "I didn't kill nobody." At one point, Mr. Kenyon turned and told family members of Allen Fernandez, "I didn't kill your papa." As Mr. Fernandez's mother was led out of the courtroom in tears, Mr. Kenyon told the judge, "They couldn't prove my shot killed him." "I'm going to be back on appeal," Mr. Kenyon said. In August, a Lackawanna County jury convicted Mr. Kenyon of first-degree murder in the slaying of Mr. Fernandez, which automatically carried a life sentence. "You don't think you had a fair trial," Judge Minora said. "You and I disagree on that point. I think you just don't like the outcome." Mr. Kenyon's lead defense attorney, George Gretz, said there are unresolved legal challenges to the constitutionality of sentencing a juvenile - Mr. Kenyon was 17 years old at the time of the murder - to life in prison. Asked about the life plus up to 71 years in prison, Mr. Gretz said, "Does it really make a difference?" as he left the courthouse. The execution of Mr. Fernandez, whose body was riddled with 12 shots, was the centerpiece of Mr. Kenyon's eight-day trial, but it was not the entire case. The trial also included testimony on an armed robbery at Dunkin' Donuts on Moosic Street in Scranton and a shooting on 10th Avenue in Scranton that left a man with life-threatening injuries. He was convicted of both of those crimes in addition to the slaying of Mr. Fernandez, a member of a rival street gang who had been driven from Hazleton, where he lived in a halfway house, to Scranton for his murder. During eight days of testimony, jurors learned the mores and language of street gangs and glimpsed into the secretive world of Mr. Kenyon's Scranton's Lincoln Park Piru, whose members included the brothers Jeffrey and Tonie Future. The gang is a subset of the notorious Bloods. Jeffrey Future is serving life in prison for his role in the slaying of Mr. Fernandez. The case against his brother, Tonie, is pending, said Gene Talerico, the lead prosecutor on the case.


nine alleged members and associates of the Pimps, Players, Hustlers and Gangsters street gang appeared before Judge Michael A. Smith on Friday

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 nine alleged members and associates of the Pimps, Players, Hustlers and Gangsters street gang appeared before Judge Michael A. Smith on Friday to determine if their case was ready to go to trial in San Bernardino Superior Court. Prosecutors announced new charges were filed earlier this week against Dearnaz Lorenzo Wilson, after he allegedly attacked the informant - the prosecution's sole witness in the conspiracy case - on Oct. 5. "The confidential informant in this case was assaulted in jail," explained Deputy District Attorney Michael Selyem, outside of the court proceedings. The injuries suffered by the informant were not immediately available. Authorities reportedly have a letter, intercepted by deputies in the jail, which identifies the informant and the individual who was supposed to "take care of" that person, said Selyem. Wilson's attorney, Marjorie Barrios, did not appear at the hearing, and Wilson was temporarily represented by another attorney. In the new, separate case, Wilson was charged with one felony count of intimidating or dissuading a witness. If convicted, he could face up to life in state prison, Selyem said. He will be arraigned Tuesday. Meanwhile, three other defendants Advertisement in the case - Edward Jermaine Lair, Henry Alfred Duffey and Jermaine Lee Brodie - took plea bargains and will be sentenced Dec. 2. Lair pleaded guilty to participating in a criminal street gang, and he admitted having a prior strike. He faces a four-year prison term and has become a "two-striker." Duffey pleaded guilty to being an accessory to a crime, and he admitted to a sentence enhancement of being a participant in a criminal street gang. He will be sentenced to five years in state prison. Brodie will be sentenced to two years in state prison, after he pleaded guilty to participating in a criminal street gang. 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. In this newer case, San Bernardino police say the nine defendants were arrested on March 28 and 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. Lawyers for two other defendants in the conspiracy case, Damron Dupree Coleman and Albert Marvin Brodie, declared a conflict after learning they had represented the informant in other matters. "I didn't realize that until two to three days ago. I was advised of that by my office," lawyer Andrew Haynal, who represents Albert Brodie, said in court. The other lawyer was Janice Kuhr. Coleman and Albert Brodie return to court Thursday to get new lawyers. The remaining defendants in the case are Khaalis Batch Atkins, Salathiel Rodriguez Mathis and Willie Shante Brown. The defendants come back to court Nov. 9 to assign the case for a jury trial on Nov. 15. The judge said he may consider splitting up the defendants, if the new lawyers need to more time to prepare for trial.


FBI report: Gang membership spikes

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Criminal gang membership increased as much as 40 percent in the United States during the past three years, according to an FBI report released Friday. An estimated 1.4 million people are active in more than 33,000 street, prison and outlaw motorcycle gangs across the country, the report states. That compares to about 1 million gang members when the investigative agency last compiled such figures in January 2009. FBI officials, however, were quick to emphasize that the apparent 40 percent increase in membership may reflect more accurate reporting of numbers, in addition to any sudden swell in gangs' ranks. They said some of the spike could be due to much better reporting by law enforcement officers, an increase in the number of agencies reporting and other administrative factors. "We know gang membership has increased. How much, we really don't know," a senior FBI official told reporters at the agency's Washington headquarters. The 100-page 2011 "National Gang Threat Assessment" claimed criminal gangs pose a growing threat in communities throughout the United States. "The most notable trends for 2011 have been the overall increase in gang membership and the expansion of criminal street gangs' control of street-level drug sales and collaboration with rival gangs and other criminal organizations," according to the report. While there was no data related to how the economy might factor into growth in gangs, more aggressive recruiting and cultural and ethnic factors may have contributed to the increase in gang membership. Although overall crime in the United States has continued to decline over the past three years, the relative amount of crime inflicted by gang members appears to have increased. The new FBI report claims that gangs are responsible for 48% of violent crime, on average, in most jurisdictions. Neighborhood-based gangs have proven that they can be as violent as the notorious Central American gang MS-13, which continues to grow. U.S.-based gangs are establishing stronger working relationships with Central American and Mexican gangs to facilitate not only drug smuggling, but also weapons trafficking and immigrant smuggling, the report claims. Although anti-gang officials said at Friday's press conference that they are concerned about gang members who enter the military, they don't note any evident gang activity among active U.S. military personnel. However, they fear those individuals who receive weapons and tactical training might use both to commit violence crimes when they re-enter society. Officials said that some gang members have radicalized while in prison, expressing worries that those individuals could be even more dangerous when they're released. Although some view criminal gangs as susceptible to payments from would-be terrorists, the anti-gang officials said today's gang leaders are often sophisticated and understand the risk of getting caught up in any terrorist organizations or plots. To date, officials have not noticed any clear connections between criminal gangs and terrorist groups. Gangs can be found in every U.S. state and the District of Columbia. The largest number of gang members is in southern California, southern Arizona and the Chicago area. The vast majority of these people belong to street gangs, predominantly in the West.


Rival gangsters pack Vancouver courts

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Members of the Gang Task Force were used to boost security at the Vancouver Law Courts Thursday as four separate gang cases went ahead with rivals appearing on different floors. Eight members of the uniformed GTF arrived for a bail revocation hearing for accused drug trafficker Sukhveer Dhak. One floor below, a cocaine conspiracy trial continued for Dhak rival Jarrod Bacon. Supt. Doug Kiloh, of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, said the GTF officers were on hand because "there is clearly unresolved conflict between gangs." "Do we have concern when we bring them together? Yes, and clearly that poses a public safety risk," Kiloh said. "Even at the Bacon trial, there is going to be conflict internally there." Kiloh said that when any case like that of Bacon and coaccused Wayne Scott has wiretaps being played, things can be tense because of what one party says about the other. Earlier this week, a tape was played in court of Scott saying Bacon's parents were aware of his criminal enterprise, and profited from it. "There are a number of security precautions we are taking," Kiloh said of the Bacon-Scott case. Not only were Dhak and Bacon in separate courtrooms Thursday, but the Greeks gang murder case continued in high-security Courtroom 20 a few floors below. And another case, involving men linked to the United Nations gang, was in pre-trial hearings next door to Dhak. Kiloh said CFSEU has several other big cases and that more charges are expected to be laid in coming weeks. "We know we have been pushing Crown hard. We know they have their hands full," he said. "We hope to have more charges in the coming weeks and months in high-profile cases involving gangs and organized crime." And Kiloh said law enforcement will continue to move forward with major gang prosecutions because "it reduces the threat of public safety issues." Just last month, GTF head officer Supt. Tom McCluskie issued an extraordinary public warning that anyone associating with Dhak or those in the affiliated Duhre group could be at risk because of escalating gang tensions. The Dhaks, Duhres and some members of the UN gang are aligned against an opposing group consisting of some Hells Angels, Red Scorpions and the Independent Soldiers. On Sept. 16, Dhak associate Jujhar Singh Khun-Khun was shot several times in a targeted Surrey shooting that police say may have been in retaliation for the Aug. 14 attack in Kelowna that left Red Scorpion Jonathan Bacon dead and Hells Angel Larry Amero and Independent Soldier James Riach wounded. Dhak was originally charged in October 2008 with production of a controlled substance, possession for the purpose of trafficking and conspiracy to commit indictable offence. He is due to go to trial in that case next April. But he was arrested Sept. 18 for allegedly driving while prohibited related to an incident on July 30, 2011. He is also before the courts on another breach allegation related to a Kelowna incident in March 2011 and was charged in December 2010 with one count of counselling to commit the indictable offence of aggravated assault. Justice Brenda Brown reserved her decision on Dhak's bail until next Wednesday. Dhak, dressed in red prison garb, whispered through Plexiglas to his girlfriend at the morning break Thursday. Police sat in the front row, several seats away from Dhak's mother, sister and girlfriend. Details of submissions and arguments at the two-hour hearing are covered by a publication ban. Kiloh said top police officers from around the Lower Mainland met Thursday to discuss the level of gang tensions. He said the situation is very fluid, with unresolved conflicts between some, and others making new associations that police are trying to assess.


Canada’s top organized crime groups are recruiting workers at Pearson and other major airports to help them smuggle drugs and contraband into the country,

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aiportPolice and other agencies at Pearson are working to identify workers who are breaking the law.

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Canada’s top organized crime groups are recruiting workers at Pearson and other major airports to help them smuggle drugs and contraband into the country, says the former head of a national security committee.

Agents of notorious crime groups, including the Hells Angels and Vietnamese gangs, are flexing their muscles to get a bigger share of the lucrative drug-smuggling operation run by corrupt workers at Pearson, police and security officials said.

“Organized crime activity has gotten worst at Pearson,” said Sen. Colin Kenny, former head of a Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. “They are actively recruiting people to work for them.”

The RCMP in a 2008 study identified 60 gangs that have infiltrated airports in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Police said agents of the gangs work at “corrupting existing employees or by placing criminal associates or even spouses or relatives into the airport work force.”

A RCMP witness “said categorically that gangs such as Hells Angels have infiltrated Pearson,” the committee said in a report on Canadian airports.

“If the Hells Angels can get their people in place at airports, what’s to stop Al Fatah?,” Kenny asked. “Any holes that criminals open in security perimeters make them more vulnerable to all who wish to circumvent them.”

The committee toured Pearson following the 9/11 terrorist attacks to study safety procedures and found gaping holes in security.

“The security gaps may be wide open at Pearson,” Kenny said. “There is a lot of money to be made and crime groups are getting their own people hired to work there.”

RCMP Const. Michelle Paradis said police and other agencies at Pearson are working to identify workers who are breaking the law.

“We have been working diligently to identify smuggling groups and target them,” Paradis said on Thursday. “These investigations take a lot of manpower and resources.”

The Mounties have smashed several drug rings involving ramp handlers, airline groomers and catering staff who were removing drugs from aircraft and smuggling the bags out of the facility in their vehicles unchecked.

Five ramp handlers and a Jamaican police officer were among nine people arrested in Dec. 2010 by the RCMP after they squashed a ring allegedly smuggling kilos of cocaine and marijuana into Canada.

Police accuse the Jamaica Constabulary Force officer of planting drugs on aircraft that were allegedly removed here by handlers and smuggled from the airport.

Kenny said one way to curb the flow of illegal drugs is to examine all staff and their vehicles arriving and leaving the airport.

“They can check all travellers why can’t they check employees entering and leaving,” he said. “Their vehicles also have to be checked as well.”

Kenny said drugs are still flowing freely through the use of inter-Canada air courier service that promise 24-hour delivery to customers as reported in the Toronto Sun on Monday.

“Very little if anything is being done to examine domestic courier packages,” he said. “They are all virtually unchecked.”

Kenny said a third party, such as the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, which is responsible for passenger and baggage security, should screen packages.

There are about 90,000 people working at Canadian airports and police estimate about 1,000 of them are intent on “infiltrating the airports to facilitate criminal activity.”


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