Spanish police have arrested a Colombian drug boss dubbed ‘The Mouse’, the alleged leader of a major cocaine smuggling gang accused of 400 killings, officials said on Saturday. Officers arrested the 40-year-old, whose real name is reportedly Hernan Alonso Villa, in the eastern seaside city of Alicante on Friday, according to a police statement. He is considered ‘the top leader of the military wing of the Oficina de Envigado, a Colombian criminal organisation accused of 400 killings as well as drug-trafficking, extorsion and forced displacements of Colombian citizens’, it said. ‘He is one of the criminals most wanted by the Colombian authorities. He had more than 200 people under his command and was responsible for exporting cocaine to Spain, the United States and Holland,’ the statement said. Spanish officers arrested him under a Colombian extradition warrant for charges including alleged homicide and arms offences. He was carrying 40,000 euros ($54,000) in cash when he was caught, the statement said. Authorities say the ‘Oficina’ gang dates back to the 1980s when it carried out killings for the now-dismantled Medellin Cartel. Spain is one of the main entry points for illegal narcotics into Europe and Colombia is one of the world’s biggest sources of cocaine. Colombia produced 290 tonnes of cocaine in 2013, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Florida Department of Corrections
Griselda Blanco in 2004.
Blanco spent nearly 20 years in prison in the United States for drug trafficking and three murders before being deported to Colombia in 2004, the Herald reported.
Two armed riders pulled up to Blanco as she was leaving a butcher shop in her hometown, and one shot her twice in the head, the Herald reported, citing a report in El Colombiano newspaper.
Blanco was one of the first to engage in large-scale smuggling of cocaine into the United States from Colombia and set up many of the routes used by the Medellin cartel after she was sentenced in the United States in 1985, the BBC reported.
Investigators told the Herald that they estimate conservatively that Blanco was behind about 40 slayings. She was convicted in connection with three murders: Arranging the killing of two South Miami drug dealers who had not paid for a delivery, and ordering the assassination of a former enforcer for her organization, an operation that resulted in the death of the target’s 2-year-old son, the Herald reported.
Three of Blanco’s husbands were killed in violence related to drugs, the Herald reported, and one of her sons was named Michael Corleone, a reference to “The Godfather” movies.
Blanco is credited with originating motorcycle assassinations, the Herald reported.
“This is classic live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword,” filmmaker Billy Corben, who with Alfred Spellman made two “Cocaine Cowboys” documentaries, told the Herald. “Or in this case, live-by-the-motorcycle-assassin, die-by-the-motorcycle assassin.”
FOUR men with alleged links to outlaw motorcycle gangs were arrested last week after a brawl at a Penrith shopping centre. Police officers from the gangs squad and Penrith local area command had been investigating the brawl, which forced shoppers to flee for their safety about 2.45pm last Monday. Police will allege a man was leaving the shopping centre when he was confronted by a group of nine men and fighting began. A number of people tried to intervene, including an unknown male who was assaulted. All involved in the brawl then left the scene. At 7am last Thursday, police simultaneously raided four homes at St Marys, Emu Plains, South Windsor and Freemans Reach. Three men with alleged links to the Rebels were arrested at St Marys and Emu Plains, while an alleged senior Nomads member was arrested at Freemans Reach. During the search warrants, police seized distinctive gang clothing, quantities of anabolic steroids and prescription drugs and a set of knuckledusters. A man, 29, of Emu Plains, was charged with affray, participate in a criminal group and two counts of possess prescribed restricted substance. A man, 44, of Freemans Reach, was charged with affray, possess prohibited weapon, and two counts of possess prescribed restricted substance. A man, 25, of St Marys, and a 23-year-old New Zealand man were each charged with affray and participate in a criminal group. Penrith crime manager Detective Inspector Grant Healey said further arrests were anticipated.
Local and federal authorities moved Thursday to break up an alleged drug trafficking ring connecting a major Mexican cartel and San Gabriel Valley street gangs, arresting 17 people in a pre-dawn sweep. A federal indictment unsealed Thursday charges 27 defendants with making, possessing and dealing methamphetamine imported by La Familia Michoacana, one of Mexico’s most violent cartels, to two Pomona gangs: Los Amables and Westside Pomona Malditos. Seven law enforcement agencies, including the Pasadena and Pomona police, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, were involved in the sweep. Thursday’s crackdown is the culmination of a probe called Operation Crystal Light, a 16-month investigation by the San Gabriel Valley Safe Streets Gang Task Force. The investigation was launched after a 2011 kidnapping among suspected gang members in Southern California. Officers said they seized nine weapons, an undisclosed amount of methamphetamine, other drugs, and paraphernalia in Thursday morning raids in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The probe involved about 200 law enforcement officers and several undercover purchases. “The goal of the federal task force is to disrupt the network so it’s disrupted permanently,” Timothy Delaney, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Criminal Division in Los Angeles, said. “Today’s arrests took some very serious players in the methamphetamine world off the streets.” The methamphetamine came into the country in liquid form via airplane, boats and cars, officials said. The drug was recrystallized at an Ontario home before local gangs would sell it and funnel money to the Mexican cartel. Most of the drugs were being sold in Pomona and Ontario, according to Assistant U.S. Atty. Shawn Nelson. Dealers were selling multiple pounds a day and making up to $9,000 per pound, Nelson said. He described the arrests as “a good dent” in the Mexican cartel’s local drug network. Three suspects were in custody before the raid and seven remain at large, federal authorities said. The indictment alleges that a La Familia Michoacana associate named Jose Juan Garcia Barron oversaw the transport of the meth between Mexico and Los Angeles County. Delaney said Garcia Barron is among the suspects who have not been apprehended. The 17 arrested Thursday were expected to make their first court appearance Thursday afternoon at U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
Police believe drive-by shootings at an Ogden home Tuesday night and Wednesday morning may be related to a violent power struggle within a street gang over control of leadership, drugs and money. Ogden Police Lt. Scott Conley declined to identify the gang, but said members are not affiliated with the Ogden Trece. On Monday, 2nd District Judge Ernie Jones issued a permanent injunction against Trece members, banning them from associating with each other in public and being in the presence of guns, drugs and alcohol. The injunction also places Treces under an 11 p.m. curfew. The drive-by shootings at a home in the 500 block of 28th Street are signs of in-fighting among members of a local gang who are attempting to resolve their differences through escalating violence, Conley said. “They are in the same gang and are arguing back and forth,” he said, noting police have gathered intelligence on the dispute. “We are taking enforcement action to eradicate the problem or get the individuals involved incarcerated.” Six to eight gang members are believed to be involved in the dispute.
Civilians occasionally find themselves in harm's way when officers use deadly force, though usually only a handful of times annually. When that happens, a rigid process of investigation is set in motion — and the police department can reasonably expect a lawsuit. The latest episode came when police say a man disgruntled over losing his job a year ago shot a former colleague to death and pointed his weapon at two police officers in the shadow of a major tourist attraction. He apparently wasn't able to fire before police killed him, one firing off seven rounds and the other nine. Bystanders suffered graze wounds, and some were struck by concrete gouged from buildings by the bullets, authorities said. At least one person said he was actually hit by a bullet. Robert Asika, a 23-year-old tour guide who was hit in the right arm, said he was "100 percent positive" he was shot by a police officer. A witness told police that laid-off clothing designer Jeffrey Johnson fired at officers, but ballistics evidence so far contradicts that, authorities said.
A Trail of Ink: Tracking a Rare Tattoo-Related Infection
This trail began when the man received a tattoo in Rochester, N.Y. in October 2011. A short while later, he noticed the raised, bumpy rash. He called his primary care physician.
Doctors initially treated the man's arm with topical steroids, thinking that the rash was allergic-contact dermatitis. But that only made the problem worse.
By the time dermatologist Dr. Mark Goldgeier saw the patient, it was clear that this was no simple allergy.
He performed a skin biopsy so he could take a closer look at the rash under a microscope. What he saw was startling: the sample was riddled with a wormlike bacterium related to tuberculosis.
"I explained [to the patient] that he had TB, and he had a look of horror on his face," Goldgeier said.
For the patient, the finding meant a trip to an infectious disease specialist to start up to a full year of treatment.
Goldgeier, meanwhile, called the Monroe County Health Department.
"As soon as biopsy came back," he said, "I knew something in the process of tattooing was involved -- the ink, the water used for dilution, the syringes, the dressings."
And so began a nationwide medical mystery.
Dr. Byron Kennedy, public health specialist at Monroe County Department of Public Health, took over the case from Goldgeier. Kennedy first confirmed the results by repeating a skin biopsy on the patient. Once again, tendrils of mycobacterium chelonae, a type of tuberculosis-related skin bacteria, showed up in the sample.
Mycobacterium chelonae is a rapidly growing bug found in soil, dust, water, animals, hospitals, and contaminated pharmaceuticals. This family of bacteria does not commonly affect healthy individuals, but in patients with suppressed immune systems -- like those with HIV or on chemotherapy -- these bacteria can cause serious disease, often resulting in death.
The finding sent Kennedy and his associates to the tattoo parlor where the patient had been inked. Everything in the clinic was sterile, which made it unlikely that the infection had arisen there. But the tattoo artist, they learned, had been using a new gray premixed ink purchased in Arizona in April 2011; he used the ink between May and December 2011.
The ingredients of the ink -- pigment, witch hazel, glycerin, and distilled water -- seemed innocuous enough. But further examination revealed that the distilled water in the pigment was the likely culprit of the contamination.
The finding raised a number of questions -- not the least of which was how the bottles of premixed ink passed U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged this gap in regulations Wednesday in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report.
"Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, tattoo inks are considered to be cosmetics, and the pigments used in the inks are color additives requiring premarket approval," the report says.
Twenty-five people were killed and 43 others hurt in a prison battle in Venezuela as two armed gangs vied for control of a penitentiary near Caracas, authorities said on Monday.
17-year veteran of the New York Police Department has been suspended without pay after a kidnapping victim was found tied up in his garage. The New York Post reports Ondre Johnson, a detective with the Brooklyn north gang unit, was being questioned in connection with the incident and was forced to surrender his gun and badge. A source tells the Post the 25-year-old victim was snatched off the street on July 26. The victim's friends then got calls demanding $75,000 for the victim's release. The call was traced to Johnson's home, MyFoxNY.com reports. When authorities arrived Friday afternoon, Johnson answered the door and identified himself as a detective with the NYPD. Investigators then found the victim tied up in the garage. Four men have been charged in the apparent kidnapping scheme, MyFoxNY.com reports. 30-year-old Hakeem Clark, who lives in the same building as Johnson, was charged with kidnapping and weapons possession along with 27-year-old Jason Hutson and 27-year-old James Gayle. 24-year-old Alfredo Haughton was charged with kidnapping.
Jamie “Iceman” Stevenson is back on the streets – less than halfway through his prison sentence for laundering £1million of drugs cash. Scotland’s most powerful mobster has been enjoying meals at expensive restaurants and socialising with pals after being allowed home for a week each month. Stevenson – who was also accused of shooting dead his best friend in an underworld hit – was put behind bars in September 2006 when he was arrested after a four-year surveillance operation by the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency. He was later sentenced to 12 years and nine months for money laundering. But, we can reveal, he is now allowed out of Castle Huntly open prison near Dundee – just five years and 10 months later. A source said: “He seems determined to show his face all around town to deliver the message that he’s back and, as far as he’s concerned, nothing has changed. “A lot of people are surprised that he’s being allowed out so early. Some are not too pleased about it for a number of reasons.” Stevenson, 47, has been spotted at Bothwell Bar & Brasserie, which is run by his friend Stewart Gilmore. He and his cronies have also dined at upmarket Italian restaurant Il Pavone in Glasgow’s Princes Square shopping centre. And Stevenson has joined friends at various other restaurants and hotels, including Glasgow’s Hilton Garden Inn. A Sunday Mail investigation can today reveal that the Parole Board for Scotland could recommend Stevenson’s total freedom as early as February next year. However, the final decision on his release will rest with Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. Yesterday, Labour justice spokesman Lewis Macdonald said: “I’m surprised to hear this and that anyone in these circumstances should get out of jail before the halfway point of their sentence – far less so when the conviction is of someone involved in organised crime. “The only circumstances where that would be conceivable would be if someone completely changed their lifestyle. But even then that should not be before they’ve served half their sentence. “I’m sure the victims of these crimes – and with drugs there are direct and indirect victims – will also be surprised at this.” To prepare Stevenson for his release, prison bosses have allowed him to stay a full week each month at his modest flat in Burnside, near Glasgow. On Friday, we watched him leaving the property with his wife Caroline and driving off in a silver Audi. A prison service insider said: “The Parole Board expect the prison authorities to have allowed home visits to test suitability for release ahead of the first eligible parole date. In Stevenson’s case, that’s next February. “There are conditions attached which vary but usually include the obvious ones like not mixing with other criminals and staying only at the designated address. “For prisoners sentenced to more than 10 years, the Parole Board make their recommendations to the Justice Secretary, who then decides whether to release on licence. “Stevenson is trying to keep his nose clean to convince the Parole Board that he poses no threat to society. “But, given his high profile and significance, it’s inevitable that the authorities will be careful before making any final decision.” Stevenson headed a global smuggling gang with a multi-million-pound turnover when he was brought down by the SCDEA’s Operation Folklore, which seized £61million of drugs. He faced drug and money laundering charges along with eight other suspects, including his 53-year-old wife. But his lawyers struck a deal with the Crown Office to admit money laundering in exchange for his wife’s freedom and the drugs charges being dropped. Stevenson’s stepson Gerry Carbin Jr, 32, was also jailed – for five years and six months – but was freed in 2010. Stevenson was previously arrested for the murder of Tony McGovern, 35, who was gunned down in Glasgow’s Springburn in 2000. But prosecutors dropped the case through lack of evidence. A gangland source said: “He does not fear any kind of reprisal from Tony’s brothers, nor does he regard any other criminals in Scotland as a threat or even as rivals. He did not fear any other operation in Scotland before he was jailed. Why would he now?” Two years ago, the Sunday Mail exposed a backdoor deal when the Crown handed back Stevenson’s £300,000 watch collection, which had been seized under proceeds of crime of legislation. Last June, he was sent back to high-security Shotts jail in Lanarkshire from an open prison after a major SCDEA drugs probe, Operation Chilon. Detectives believed that the gang they investigated was controlled by Stevenson. Haulage firm boss Charles McAughey’s home was one of 11 targeted in raids. In 2009, we revealed that French police had found 684kg of pure cocaine worth £31million in a lorry owned by McAughey. Chilon resulted in the SCDEA seizing 242kg of cannabis worth £1.21million and the jailing of three men for a combined 15 years.
Police in Alice are investigating a shooting that occurred near Reynolds Street. According to investigators, it all started on South Nayer Street where police say Isaac Vela was standing on the side of the road waiting for a ride. A vehicle -- with four people inside passed by. One of the passengers, police say, shot Vela in the face. The vehicle fled the scene, but the driver only made it a few blocks before he lost control of the vehicle. It smashed into a nearby school. Three of the four people inside the car died. The other is in the hospital...where investigators will interview him tomorrow. Police say all of the men involved are known gang members.
Reece James, 21, a close friend of Tulisa Contostavlos has been shot dead in a reported gangland attack. The 21-year-old, who appeared with Tulisa in a video for rapper Nines, was shot in the head in a "pre-planned and targeted" hit, 100 miles from his home in London, reports the UK's Sun newspaper. Police found James' body in Boscombe, Bournemouth, at around 2.30am near where Somali drug gangs are said operate. A 22-year-old man was arrested. Reece was said to have been in the area with some friends for "a couple of months", though had filmed the video earlier this month with Tulisa and rapper Nines on the Church End Estate in Harlesden, North West London. The former N Dubz star caused controversy at the time, making a "C" symbol to the camera - the same sign that is used by Harlesden's notorious Church Road Soldiers gang. Tulisa claimed it was a reference to Camden, where she was born. Twitter tributes began flooding in last night, with one user writing, "RIP Reece James. Thoughts are with him and his family and friends". Local MP Tobias Ellwood described the killing as "a spill over from the drugs turf war in the capital", adding, "This was one London gang chasing down another, carrying out a professional hit and then going back".
Det Chief Supt Darren Shenton, head of GMP’s serious crime division, believes the local community holds the key to bringing killers to justice. There are 22 unsolved murders in Greater Manchester that are thought to be gang-related – and Mr Shenton said that all of them could be solved. These include high-profile cases, such as that of innocent schoolboy Jessie James, 15, who was shot as he cycled through a Moss Side park in September 2006 and hard-working Halton McCollin, 20, killed in a Stretford takeaway in January 2008. Guns and gangs in Manchester: Victims of a sad cycle of revenge... Mr Shenton said: "The key to all of the unsolved murders lies within the community. Every single one of those murders is capable of being solved if people stood up and did the right thing. "In a number of cases we believe we know the circumstances of how somebody has been murdered but have not been able to transfer that into evidence. "There are people within the community who hold the key to unlocking justice and providing families who have lost loved ones in the most tragic of ways with answers. "My appeal would be that if there are people out there who have information about any of the cases to contact us – they can bring the killers to justice. We will receive that information and treat it in confidence. We can protect witnesses at court using special measures and we have a host of ways of giving absolute protection." Despite some murders remaining unsolved, police have made big strides towards ridding the streets of gun crime. Almost six years have passed since anyone was shot dead in Moss Side, the neighbourhood historically most troubled by gangs, and there have been no gang-related murders in the city of Manchester for more than three years. Detectives credit their success to improved police responses and community efforts to steer young people away from trouble. Gun crime in Greater Manchester is down year-on-year since 2007 when there were 146 recorded shootings. It fell to just 39 last year – the biggest reduction made by any police force in Britain. Mr Shenton added: "Back in 2006-2007 we made a commitment to the communities of Manchester that we would commit resources to tackling gun and gang crime in the area, reflecting the concerns of the community, and we aimed for gun free streets. We have continued that activity, coupled with working with multi-agency partners and giving people the chance to get away from that lifestyle. We’ve made efforts to talk to parents to given them support to lead their children away from that gun crime and culture. "A number of families have been robbed of their young people and lives have been lost. As police, we’ve been to too many funerals not to be affected by it. Mr Shenton said that there had been a ‘sea change’ in community relations with police that had helped officers to solve murders like that of Giuseppe Gregory, who was gunned down outside the Robin Hood pub in Stretford in May 2009. Three men – Moses Mathias, Njabulo Ndlovu and Hiruy Zerihun – have since been jailed for life after being convicted of his murder. He said: "We have seen a sea change in the community understanding what we are doing. The example is Giuseppe Gregory and Jessie James. Within a very short time members of the community who recognised we were in a different era had provided information. "We absolutely know we will not solve everything in a couple of years but we are committed to working with the community to try to deliver our aim of gun free streets in Greater Manchester."
South Carolina-native David Andrea Jenkins (AKA "Dread") and his gang members used sophisticated codes--but ones not good enough to stump federal agents--to communicate while they committed murders, aggravated assaults, kidnappings, drug trafficking, illegal weapons sales, wire fraud and prostitution, according to a 100-page indictment reviewed by the Weekly.
By 1999, Jenkins had taken over the gang's South Carolina operations from James Powell (AKA "Munchie"), who'd come from New York and the Gangsta Killa Bloods (GKB), according to law enforcement.
Jenkins and his fellow hoodlums did not know the extent the FBI monitored their activities, including their telephone calls, and spoke freely about distributing crack cocaine, committing violence against rivals and discovering snitches.
|Alleged Jenkins associate Degregory Reaves|
In South Carolina, federal agents arrested more than 20 other alleged gangsters with nicknames like Arsonist, Tater Head, Shotgun, Gucci, Red Boy, Big Mama Blood, Buck, Bnezzy, Fish, Kapone, Southside, Junior, Teazy, Metro, Rockaroni and Killer.
|Alleged Jenkins associate Christian Michelle Spencer|
According to police records, Jenkins has been transferred out of the Santa Ana Jail, where he was originally housed by U.S. marshals.
United States Attorney David Nettles in South Carolina and FBI Agent David A. Thomas hailed the arrests as a major blow to the gang's activities.
The sign is used by members of notorious north-west London gang Crime Scene Boys, also known as the Church Road Soldiers, who have been linked to gun violence and drug dealing.
Tulisa visited the Church End estate in Harlesden, where the gang is based, to shoot a music video.
The promo was being filmed for a new song featuring rapper Nines.
He has pulled the “C” sign in videos of his own and he raps about drug money, guns and violence on his songs.
Tulisa even posed with Nines’ £35,000 gold chain for the cameras.
An eyewitness said: “She was strutting around throwing gang signs and hanging around outside the blocks of flats.
“She was swearing and trying to fit in with the other people who were around her from the estate.
“Making that C sign is what people do when they are a member of the Crime Scene Boys. It’s a real mistake.”
It is also the kind of thing her bosses at ITV, X Factor producers Syco and record label Universal will take seriously.
Tulisa claims she was using the C sign to represent her home borough of Camden and that people turned up to her shoot uninvited.
In a statement last night, she said: “I filmed a street video on Sunday night for a track on my album.
“The video was a collaboration with the rapper Nines. When we were filming on the street loads of other people turned up and joined in the shoot.
“When I was holding my hands in the C sign, this was as a tribute to Camden, my home town and where N-Dubz began.
“I am not aware that this sign has anything to with any street gang and I 100 per cent do not endorse any gang violence in any form.”
Two gang members were arrested on June 16th at the Savemart warehouse near the Mission Avenue Interchange by Merced police officers after fleeing from a shooting. 24-year-old Fernando Figueroa and a 17-year-old accomplice were arrested for the attempted murder of 27-year-old Caesar Villafan and participation in a criminal street gang. Two officers were patrolling the south Merced area when they heard several shots fired and saw a car subsequently speed out of an alleyway at the 300 block of 11th Street and Martin Luther King. The two officers were joined by Merced PD reinforcements as they pursued the suspects southbound on Highway 99. The suspects drove at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour and narrowly missed striking another motorist before crashing head on into a guard rail at the Mission Avenue Interchange. Afterwards, the two suspects fled the vehicle on foot before being arrested at the Savemart warehouse a quarter of a mile away. Shooting occurred in this neighborhood Upon searching the vehicle, officers found a loaded handgun that matched the same caliber of shell casings left at the scene of the shooting. Figueroa and the accomplice were both booked at Merced County Jail. In addition to attempted murder and participation in a criminal street gang, Figueroa was charged with felony evading. Villafan was transported to a Modesto hospital where he was treated for non-life threatening gunshot wounds. The Merced PD has not yet confirmed the motive for the attempted murder of Villafan and the investigation is still ongoing, according to Tom Trindad of the Merced PD.
Police say a 17-year-old was beaten unconscious and had to be taken to the hospital after he told a gang recruiter he didn't want to join a Louisville gang. Police say it happened on May 19. According to a criminal summons, 22-year-old Loney Duerson Holman, along with two juvenile accomplices, walked up to a 17-year-old and took his bike. The 17-year-old and a 15-year-old friend followed Holman and his accomplices to a location on Tazwell Drive, near Murphy Lane. When they arrived, police say Holman and his accomplices tried to get the two teenagers to join a gang. (WDRB News is withholding the name of that gang.) When the teenagers refused to join, police say they were attacked. According to the citation, the 17-year-old was hit in the head with a board. The attack left him unconscious. The 15-year-old ran away. The attackers chased him, but he managed to escape. Police say Holman and his accomplices went through the 17-year-old's pockets, taking a cell phone. They later fled the scene. When the 17-year-old regained consciousness, he was able to flag down a stranger for help. A neighbor took him to the hospital for treatment. Police say he suffered swelling and knots to the back of his head, a cut to his chin that required stitches, bruising to his chest and hands and a possible concussion. Police were called. Some time later, both of the teenagers were able to identify Holman as their attacker. Police say the two juvenile accomplices are known members of a gang that, "is comprised of over five members. The members of this gang have been convicted of more than two felony offenses for the purposes of furthering gang activity within a two-year period." Holman is charged with robbery and criminal gang recruitment. The status of Holman's accomplices is not known, due to the fact that they're juveniles.
In an effort to decrease Portland's gang violence this summer, even the deceased will be monitored for gang symbols and colors. In a bold move, Portland pastors banded together Tuesday with a sweeping policy. And they announced to the public that those who wear gang colors to a funeral will not be allowed inside the church. No more gang colors, No more hats, No more disrespect. That's the announcement by pastors who signed the new covenant for gang-related funerals. "We need places of safety and places of welcome," said Pastor Mark Knutson with the Augustana Lutheran Church, "because we believe that every person is made in the image of God." This is a joint effort between religious leaders at various churches and the Portland Police Bureau. Reverend Dr. Allen Bethel says the effort began several months ago, after gang members showed up at a funeral at Maranatha Church dressed in gang colors. Even the person in the casket was dressed in a hat with gang colors. And there have been instances in Portland where gang fights have escalated as a result of funeral gatherings. Sometime those fights have happened during funerals, or right outside the church. As such, Portland Police are hoping this move will help decrease the odds of that happening again. This decision comes just one day before the official first day of summer. Summer is a time when gang violence tends to spike in the Rose City, and beyond. Pre-funeral meetings now mandated Now, with the new covenant, the rules not only include the ban on gang colors in church but also include mandatory pre-funeral meetings between family members and church leaders. Lyrics to songs and any videos played during the funeral also must be approved two days before the service. The deceased person's clothing also may not reflect any gang colors or symbols. "We believe there is decorum in our houses of faith inside our sanctuaries," said Rev. Dr. T. Allen Bethel. "And we will establish, we will have decorum when it comes to serving in our communities."
Leaders of El Salvador’s Mara street gangs said they are ready to start negotiations with the government toward a permanent peace pact following the success of a three-month-old temporary truce that has lowered the Central American country’s murder rate dramatically. The gang leaders said during a ceremony at the Izalco prison to celebrate the first 100 days of the truce that they want the government to offer job programs or some other sort of aid to gang members in exchange. “We want to reach a definitive ceasefire, to end all the criminal acts of the gangs,” said Mara 18 leader Oscar Armando Reyes. “But we have to reach agreements, because we have to survive. There was talk of job plans, but we haven’t gotten any answers, and it is time for the government to listen to us.” Mr. Reyes said the gangs weren’t thinking of ending the temporary truce. “We are issuing a call for us all to sit down and have a dialogue, to reach a definitive accord,” he said. There was no immediate response from the government. Former leftist guerrilla commander Raul Mijango and Roman Catholic Bishop Fabio Colindres mediated a truce between the Mara Salvatrucha and the Mara 18 gangs in March that has helped lower homicide rates. Mr. Mijango said the country’s homicide rate has dropped from about 14 murders a day in March to about five a day in early June. “This effort has saved the lives of more than 850 innocent Salvadorans,” Mr. Mijango said. An estimated 50,000 Salvadorans belong to street gangs that deal drugs, extort businesses and kill rivals. Gang leaders say they want to stop the violence that has given El Salvador one of the highest murder rates in the world, behind neighbouring Honduras. In April, authorities rejected a proposal that El Salvador’s gangs receive the subsidies the government currently spends on public transportation in exchange for gang members stopping extortion of bus drivers.
last of 27 alleged gang members indicted in April was arrested Tuesday afternoon by the U.S. Marshals Service. Darius Smith was taken into custody around 3 p.m. after authorities found him on James Street, officials of the service said. The indictment, handed up April 3, alleges that Smith, 29, conspired to sell more than 280 grams of cocaine and heroin. He was to appear Wednesday in U.S. District Court. Smith was allegedly a member of the Uptown, or Gunners, gang. In an April news conference, U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian said the gang used guns to terrorize the neighborhood and its members marked buildings in the Central State Street neighborhood with graffiti to mark their territory. The investigation led to the arrests of 27 alleged gang members listed on the indictment; 23 were arrested
An accused member of the notorious Malvern Crew street gang has lost a last-ditch bid to stay in Canada and is being deported to his native Jamaica for criminality. Raoul Andre Burton, 28, of Toronto, was one of 65 suspected members of the east-end gang rounded up in May 2004 by Toronto Police in Project Impact. Members of the gang were involved in a rivalry with the Galloway Boyz over turf in 2003 and 2004 that left four people dead. Burton was charged with nine offences and sentenced to eight-months in jail along with a 165-day stint of pre-sentence custody. He pled guilty to participating in a criminal organization, known as the Malvern Crew, and two counts of drug possession and trafficking that made him inadmissable to Canada Officers of the Canada Border Services Agency have been trying for years to deport Burton, who arrived here from Jamaica at age 10 and never obtained citizenship. Lawyers for Burton sought to appeal the deportation order to the Federal Court of Canada, but Judge David Near dismissed the application which means Burton will be sent packing. “Mr. Burton was right in the thick of things, an active member of the Malvern Crew, actively participating in the activities of the organization,” Near said in his June 11 decision. “He may have occupied a rather influential or responsible place in the organization.” Near said Burton’s involvement with the Malvern Crew was “significant.” “He was obviously fully integrated and well-invested into the organization,” Near wrote. “He was also prepared to engage in criminal activities on a significant scale for the benefit of the organization.” Police gang experts said Burton was a loyal Malvern foot-soldier who was a “good money-earner” for the gang. Officers said the gang was involved in the trafficking, importation and distribution of drugs as well as other crimes, including murder.
The last defendant in the hate-crime killing of 14-year-old Cheryl Green was sentenced Wednesday to 238 years to life in prison. Ernesto Alcarez was found guilty of murder, attempted murder and a hate crime last month in the killing of Green, a black girl who was gunned down while standing with friends on a street in her Harbor Gateway neighborhood. Alcarez's sentence was imposed by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Stephen Marcus. Prosecutors said Alcarez acted as a lookout for the shooter, 204th Street gang member Jonathan Fajardo. On Dec. 15, 2006, Fajardo faced off with a black motorist in the neighborhood earlier in the day. He went to a stash house for a gun and then walked back to the neighborhood with Alcarez in tow looking for the motorist, according to testimony in previous court hearings. The pair came upon Green and several other African Americans. In broad daylight, Fajardo opened fire without a word, hitting the girl in the stomach, and wounding several of her friends. Green's friends rushed her to a hospital, where she died. The crime cast light on long-standing violence by Latino street gangs against blacks in many neighborhoods of the city. The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations said Latino street gangs were the most violent perpetrators of hate crimes in the region, mostly against blacks. The tiny Harbor Gateway neighborhood where Green lived became a symbol of those tensions. Black residents told The Times that they were often harassed and beaten by the Latino 204th Street gang, and could not patronize the area's only market, which the gang used as its hangout. The neighborhood had averaged about one Latino-on-black homicide a year since 1997, according to LAPD figures. Most of the victims were not affiliated with any gang, police said. Within weeks, FBI Director Robert Mueller, along with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, then-Police Chief William Bratton, Sheriff Lee Baca and then-City Councilwoman Janice Hahn held a news conference in front of the market, vowing to eradicate the gang and invest in services long lacking in the dense, isolated neighborhood. A 2008 gang injunction put many 204th Streeters in jail. The Cheryl Green Youth Center opened in 2009, offering after-school activities for the neighborhood's kids. Green's murder gave rise to another killing -- of 204th Street associate Christopher Ash, 25, whom gang members believed had told police that Fajardo was responsible for Green's slaying. Two weeks after Green was killed, Ash was lured to the garage of a house in Carson and stabbed repeatedly by Fajardo and other 204th Street gang members. His body was then dumped on a Carson street. Police officials said Ash had not cooperated with them. In 2010, Fajardo was found guilty of two counts of murder and committing a hate crime for shooting Green and stabbing Ash, and given the death penalty. Defendants in that case – Robert Gonzales, Daniel Aguilar and Raul Silva – have all been convicted of Ash's murder, along with Fajardo. Another defendant in that case, Jose Covarrubias, testified against his former 204th Street associates.
The 40-year-old’s behaviour “has come into question on more than one occasion” since his release from custody last December on statutory parole after serving two-thirds of a six-year federal sentence for cocaine trafficking, according to a June 14 National Parole Board decision. Harper’s release included special conditions such as a daily curfew, abstaining from alcohol and non-prescribed drugs, and avoiding deliberate contact with anyone involved in crime. About a month after his release, he was observed in a local bar with two unidentified men. No alcohol was consumed and Harper “left immediately when recognized,” the document notes. His curfew was tightened following the incident and parole officials added a more restrictive condition specifying that he not enter bars or liquor stores. “In February 2012 you requested a curfew extension for a specific location but you went elsewhere instead, lending itself to question your intentions and behaviours,” the decision stated. Then on April 13, a warrant was issued for Harper’s arrest after his urine tested positive for cocaine. “You turned yourself in and took full ownership of your drug use. You stated your cousin came over and brought the cocaine and alcohol. You denied using alcohol. You stated it was your first and only use since release. Reports note there is reason to speculate you may maintain some connections with the illicit drug trade,” the board wrote. A parole officer in the community expressed concerns about Harper not being forthright regarding his drug use, as well as his part-time work schedule, the decision notes. The parole officer “had questions relating to your finances as he wondered how you were able to maintain your lifestyle on your minimal income,” it adds. “You stated you achieved this by using your line of credit. You acknowledged you were aware of the special conditions on your statutory release. The board notes you have returned to your previous behaviour as evidenced by your use of cocaine.” Harper maintains he no longer has any affiliation with the Terror Squad, the decision noted. He will become eligible for statutory release again in late May 2013, after serving two-thirds of the remainder of his sentence.
Mexican marines believed the car salesman they arrested was a growing force within the Sinaloa cartel
On Thursday officials paraded before the media a man they said was Jesus Alfredo Guzman, whose father leads the powerful Sinaloa cartel.
But the arrested man was in fact Felix Beltran Leon, a car salesman, the attorney general's office said.
The authorities had hailed the arrest as the most important in years.
Known as El Chapo" or "Shorty", Joaquin Guzman has been in hiding ever since he escaped from prison in 2001.
The Sinaloa cartel controls much of the flow of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine to the United States.'Embarrassing U-turn'
The BBC's Will Grant in the capital, Mexico City, says within hours of the high-profile arrest, doubts had started to be cast on the official version of events.
A lawyer proclaiming to speak for the Guzman family released a statement denying that the suspect in custody was the drug boss's son.
Mr Beltran Leon's mother then spoke to journalists and denied any link to Joaquin Guzman or the Sinaloa cartel.
It took another few hours, while identity tests were carried out, before the government admitted it had made a huge mistake.
In less than a day, the episode has transformed from an apparent coup against one of Mexico's biggest drug cartels to a major embarrassment for President Felipe Calderon's administration, our reporter says.
US agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration, were among those that had applauded the arrest.
On Thursday, the Mexican Navy had said that Jesus Guzman - known as "El Gordo", or "The Fat One" - was a growing force within his father's cartel and controlled most of its trade between Mexico and the US, where he was indicted in 2009.
El Chapo was jailed in 1993, but escaped from his maximum-security prison in a laundry basket eight years later.
The US state department has offered a reward of up to $5m (£3.2m) for information leading to his arrest.
Our correspondent says if nothing else, the debacle goes to underscore how murky and confused the world of drug cartel arrests and government intelligence has become in Mexico.
With few recent photos of the main players in the drug world available, there may be more such cases of mistaken identity to come for the Mexican armed forces, he says.
More than 55,000 people have died in Mexico in drug-related violence since President Calderon declared war on the cartels nearly six years ago.
Anthony Phillips, 26, of San Bernardino, is accused of fatally shooting Maurice Major, 29, of Riverside, at an apartment complex in the 1200 block of North Sierra Way. Phillips was arrested the next day. He is charged with one count of murder, and prosecutors have added a gang enhancement for Phillips' alleged involvement in a San Bernardino gang. Phillips, who was in San Bernardino Superior Court on Thursday, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. During the hearing in front of Judge James Dorr, a detective and an officer from the San Bernardino Police Department were called as witnesses. They testified about the shooting and gangs in the area. Phillips, also known as Ant, is affiliated with the Delmann Heights Bloods, said Officer Jonathan Plummer, a gang investigator with the San Bernardino Police Department. "(The shooting) enhances the gang by sending a message to rival gang members and to the community - that Delmann Heights is very violent," Plummer said. The officer testified about Phillips' reported noteworthy tattoos, including "DH" under his eyes, "Bloods" on his body, "San Murderdino" on his abs and "Delmann Heights" on both arms. Witnesses told police that Major was also a gang member, Detective Albert Tello testified. Advertisement His street name was West and he was affiliated with the West Covina Neighbor Hood Crips out of Los Angeles County. Recently, Los Angeles County gangs have come into the Inland Empire to sell drugs, Plummer said. Delmann Heights, which has more than 150 documented members, claims the boundaries of California Street to the west, Medical Center Drive to the east, Cajon Boulevard to the north and Highland Avenue to the south, according to police. Following a recent gang injunction in Delmann Heights, several DH members have migrated over to the 1200 block of Sierra to sell narcotics, Plummer said. Major's girlfriend told police that on the night of the shooting they were at a party outside a San Bernardino apartment complex, Tello testified. She told police that 20 to 30 people were there, including Phillips. The two men were familiar with each other, she told police, and at one point Phillips approached Major and asked to speak with him, Tello testified. The two walked away, Tello said, and while they were talking they got into an argument. Phillips then allegedly shot the victim several times in the chest, the girlfriend told police. "After he shot the victim, the suspect ran from the complex, put the gun away and ran toward Fame Liquor," on Base Line, Tello relayed on the witness stand. Major was taken to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. Deputy District Attorney David Tulcan said prosecutors are still investigating whether Major had a gun on him that night. Authorities did find a clear, plastic bag with several pieces of suspected rock cocaine on the victim, police said. Testimony in the preliminary hearing will continue on Monday, where a judge is expected to set trial dates. May was a deadly month for the city. There were 12 reported homicides - five in one week. The spate of May violence prompted memories of the 1990s, when gang violence peaked in the area. The number of people killed in the city this year is up to 23
A Jersey City man who is a ranking member of the Fruit Town Brims set of the Bloods street gang was sentenced to 63 months in prison Wednesday for his role in the gang’s criminal enterprises, officials said. Tequan Ryals, 34, had pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy before U.S. District Court Judge Stanley R. Chesler, who imposed the sentence in Newark federal court Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said. Ryals, with fellow gang members, conspired to distribute quantities of heroin in Jersey City between December 2008 and February 2009, according to court documents and statements. Ryals also made two drug sales monitored by law enforcement in December 2008, officials said. Ryals, who was involved in the daily activities of the Fruit Town Brims from 2004 until his arrest, acted as a middleman drug distributor, officials said. Ryals was supplied “bricks” of heroin by an associate of the set and he resold them to gang members, officials said. The indictment unsealed in January 2011 charged Ryals and 14 other defendants with racketeering conspiracy and other offenses including acts pertaining to murder, murder conspiracy, aggravated assaults, a kidnapping, firearms offenses and various drug distribution conspiracies, officials said. The gang members charged in the indictment ran the gang’s activities in Jersey City, Newark, Paterson and other locations, officials said. In November, Ryals completed a state prison term for drug crimes, corrections records say. Last week, 30-year federal prison terms were meted out to Emmanuel Jones, 28, of Jersey City, and Torien Brooks, 31, of Paterson, both members of the Fruit Town and Brick City Brims set of the Bloods, officials said. Jones and Brooks were charged in the July 2004 murder of 17-year-old Michael Taylor of Jersey City, who was gunned down in a case of mistaken identity during gang retaliation, officials said. Fishman credited a number of law enforcement agencies for the investigation leading to Ryals’ conviction, including the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, and Jersey City Police Department.
A mob snitch who couldn’t shoot straight easily pointed the finger at a reputed Colombo gangster on trial for murder. Dino Basciano took the witness stand in Brooklyn Federal Court to testify that he heard Frank (BF) Guerra was part of a hit team that successfully whacked Joseph Scopo in 1993. Basciano, 56, wasn’t much of a hit man himself, botching at least three rubout attempts. In one case, he shot Patricia Capozzalo, the sister of Peter (Fat Pete) Chiodo, telling defense lawyer Gerald McMahon, “I knew I didn’t kill her. She was still screaming when we left.”
The twin half brothers of Ramarley Graham, the Bronx teen fatally shot by a police officer in February, were convicted Tuesday for gun possenion and being part of a Harlem street gang. Hodean and Kadean Graham were sentenced to eight years in jail for heading a crew known as "One-Twenty-Nine" and "Goodfellas/The New Dons" between 2007 and 2011 in the area around W. 129th Street, between Lenox and Fifth Avenues. The 20-year-old brothers were cleared of attempted murder. "This violent street gang was as young as it was dangerous, its members having been involved in multiple shootings over a four-year period," Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement. Fifteen members of the gang were convicted on charges of drug dealing and weapons possession. Last week, police officer Richard Haste, 31, pleaded not guilty to manslaughter for shooting Ramarley Graham in the Bronx while officers were investigating a drug deal. As officers made the bust, they were radioed that Graham was armed, when he in fact was not. Graham was shot was trying to flush a bag of marijuana down a toilet. Haste's attorney said in court that the officer was conviced the teen was carrying a weapon.
Governor Mitch Daniels, a Republican, has authorized changes to a 2006 legislation that legalizes the use of deadly force on a public servant — including an officer of the law — in cases of “unlawful intrusion.” Proponents of both the Second and Fourth Amendments — those that allow for the ownership of firearms and the security against unlawful searches, respectively — are celebrating the update by saying it ensures that residents are protected from authorities that abuse the powers of the badge. Others, however, fear that the alleged threat of a police state emergence will be replaced by an all-out warzone in Indiana. Under the latest changes of the so-called Castle Doctrine, state lawmakers agree “people have a right to defend themselves and third parties from physical harm and crime.” Rather than excluding officers of the law, however, any public servant is now subject to be met with deadly force if they unlawfully enter private property without clear justification. “In enacting this section, the general assembly finds and declares that it is the policy of this state to recognize the unique character of a citizen's home and to ensure that a citizen feels secure in his or her own home against unlawful intrusion by another individual or a public servant,” reads the legislation. Although critics have been quick to condemn the law for opening the door for assaults on police officers, supporters say that it is necessary to implement the ideals brought by America’s forefathers. Especially, argue some, since the Indiana Supreme Court almost eliminated the Fourth Amendment entirely last year. During the 2011 case of Barnes v. State of Indiana, the court ruled that a man who assaulted an officer dispatched to his house had broken the law before there was “no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.” In turn, the National Rifle Association lobbied for an amendment to the Castle Doctrine to ensure that residents were protected from officers that abuse the law to grant themselves entry into private space. “There are bad legislators,” the law’s author, State Senator R. Michael Young (R) tells Bloomberg News. “There are bad clergy, bad doctors, bad teachers, and it’s these officers that we’re concerned about that when they act outside their scope and duty that the individual ought to have a right to protect themselves.” Governor Daniels agrees with the senator in a statement offered through his office, and notes that the law is only being established to cover rare incidents of police abuse that can escape the system without reprimand for officers or other persons that break the law to gain entry. “In the real world, there will almost never be a situation in which these extremely narrow conditions are met,” Daniels says. “This law is not an invitation to use violence or force against law enforcement officers.” Officers in Indiana aren’t necessarily on the same page, though. “If I pull over a car and I walk up to it and the guy shoots me, he’s going to say, ‘Well, he was trying to illegally enter my property,’” Sergeant Joseph Hubbard tells Bloomberg. “Somebody is going get away with killing a cop because of this law.” “It’s just a recipe for disaster,” Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police President Tim Downs adds. “It just puts a bounty on our heads.”