Ms Sandiford to be executed for drug trafficking.

A British grandmother has been sentenced to death by firing squad for smuggling almost 5kg of cocaine into Bali.

Lindsay Sandiford was arrested in May last year after she tried to enter the Indonesian holiday island with illegal drugs worth £1.6 million hidden in her suitcase.

Local prosecutors had called for the 56-year-old housewife to be jailed for 15 years. But today there were gasps in the Bali courtroom when a panel of judges announced Ms Sandiford would be executed for drug trafficking.

As the shock verdict was announced, Ms Sandiford, from Gloucestershire, slumped back in her chair in tears before hiding her face with a brown sarong as she was led out of the courtroom.

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

Florida Department of Corrections

Griselda Blanco in 2004.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amber Gold affair is one of the biggest financial scandals to hit Poland since the fall of communism in 1989.

It was pretty much all the money Bozena Oracz had after a working life as an accountant: the equivalent of $15,000. She placed it in a fund investing in gold, with the hope of paying for her daughter's studies and getting treatment for a bad knee.

Those dreams were dashed when she discovered she had fallen victim to an elaborate fraud scheme that has left thousands of Poles, many of them elderly, facing financial ruin.

The so-called Amber Gold affair is one of the biggest financial scandals to hit Poland since the fall of communism in 1989. The extent of wrongdoing is still murky, but it seems to have some elements of a pyramid scheme, meaning the financial institutionused funds from new clients to pay off older clients rather than investing them.

Consumed with anger and desperation, 58-year-old Oracz traveled last week from a small town near Warsaw to a law firm in the capital to consider whether, after losing 50,000 zlotys, she should risk another 3,000 zlotys ($920; €730) on the fee to join a class-action lawsuit seeking to recover some of the losses.

"This was a lot of money to me — it was my savings," Oracz said, fighting back tears. Now retired and living on a small pension, she sees no way of building another nest egg. "My pension barely covers my needs," she said.

The affair has raised questions about the effectiveness of Poland's justice system and government because authorities failed to act against the scheme despite red flags from regulators and the criminal record of its young owner. Scrutiny has also focused on the prime minister due to business dealings his son had with those running the scheme. The scandal has even touched democracy icon Lech Walesa, who fears it could tarnish his good name.

Prosecutors say investors lost about 163 million zlotys ($50 million; €40 million), a number that has been mounting as more and more victims come forward. Any law suits could take care years to go through the courts, with no guarantee of their outcome.

"People are desperate," said Pawel Borowski, a lawyer preparing the class-action suit that Oracz is considering joining. "In most cases the clients lost life savings or sold family properties to make investments."

The financial institution, Amber Gold, promised guaranteed returns of 10 to 14 percent a year for what it claimed were investments in gold. Many of its clients were older Poles who grew up under communism and lacked the savvy to question how a financial firm could guarantee such a high return on a commodity whose value fluctuates on the international market. The promised returns compared well to the 3 to 5 percent interest offered by banks on savings accounts — earnings essentially wiped out by the country's 4 percent inflation rate.

"These were people with a low level of financial education," said Piotr Bujak, the chief economist for Poland at Nordea Markets. "They think it's still like in the old times, where everything was guaranteed by the state. They underestimated the risk."

Amber Gold launched in 2009, opening branches in city centers alongside respected banks, with white leather sofas and other sleek touches that conveyed sophistication and respectability. It bombarded Poles with convincing advertisements. Some early investors got out with their expected gains, adding to the fund's credibility.

The company, based in Gdansk, capitalized on gold's allure while playing on people's anxieties in unpredictable financial times. "We are dealing with a loss of confidence in the entire financial system and an urgent need for safe investments," one ad said. "The environment for gold is perfect."

Amber Gold drew in 50,000 investors over its three years of operation, though the company's founder, Marcin Plichta, said there were only about 7,000 at the time of liquidation.

Soon after Amber Gold began operations, the Polish Financial Supervision Authority put it on a "black list" of institutions that operate like banks without authorization. There are 17 other such black-listed institutions in operation, but the regulators lack the authority to shut them down. This has sparked a debate in the government and news media about whether courts should be more aggressive in intervening.

According to prosecutors, the company did use some of its money to invest in at least one legitimate business: It was the main investor in budget airline OLT Express. It was this investment that brought Amber Gold down — when the airline filed for bankruptcy, Amber Gold entered liquidation and its scheme of investments unraveled. Its bank accounts were blocked and it was unable to return the money of thousands of its customers.

Plichta was charged this month with six counts of criminal misconduct.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk's center-right government went into damage-control mode when it emerged that the leader's son, Michal Tusk, had done PR work for the airline. Tusk said he had warned his son against doing business with Plichta but that ultimately he son makes his own decisions.

Leszek Miller, the head of the opposition Democratic Left Alliance, asked how Tusk could warn his son against involvement in the airline but not warn the thousands of Poles who invested in the fund. Miller has called for a parliamentary inquiry into the scandal.

Public discontent is also centering on the justice system because Plichta, 28, has past convictions for fraud, and many Poles are asking why authorities — aware of his criminal record — didn't stop him sooner. Born Marcin Stefanski, he took his wife's last name to distance himself from his past crimes.

The country's top prosecutor, Andrzej Seremet, admitted Monday that prosecutors were negligent in failing to heed multiple warnings since 2009 about Amber Gold from the financial supervisory body. He announced personnel changes in the office he blamed for mistakes.

The affair also has an unlikely connection to the Solidarity leader and former president, Lech Walesa, because an Oscar-winning director, Andrzej Wajda, was relying on money from Amber Gold to produce a film about Walesa's struggle in the 1980s.

Walesa came out publicly to make clear he is not involved in any way, saying he doesn't want his name "dirtied."

Many of the unlucky investors are not only furious but wracked by shame and guilt.

Engineer Andrzej Malinowski, 61, put three months of salary — 25,000 zlotys ($7,660; €6,100) — into Amber Gold. He made the investment without consulting with his wife, sensing that there was some risk and that she would not have agreed.

Now he is so shaken and embarrassed that he doesn't want to talk about it, leaving his wife, Danuta Malinowska, to help unravel the mess.

"He saw that gold was going higher and higher so he believed that maybe it would be a good deal," Malinowska said. "Now he has so much guilt that I am trying to help — contacting the lawyer, filling in the forms, writing to the prosecutors. But the justice system is very ineffective. I don't believe we will be getting any of this money back."

Miguel Angel Trevino Morales new leader is emerging at the head of one of Mexico's most feared drug cartels.

  • Mexico Drug War Zetas_Plan.jpg

    This undated image taken from the Mexican Attorney General's Office rewards program website on Aug. 23, 2012, shows the alleged leader of Zetas drug cartel, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, alias âZ-40.â (AP Photo/Mexican Attorney General's Office website)

Mexico's Violent Zetas Cartel Sees New Leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales A split in the leadership of Mexico's violent Zetas cartel has led to the rise of Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, a man so feared that one rival has called for a grand alliance to confront a gang chief blamed for a new round of bloodshed in the country's once relatively tranquil central states.

Trevino, a former cartel enforcer who apparently has seized leadership of the gang from Zetas founder Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, is described by lawmen and competing drug capos as a brutal assassin who favors getting rid of foes by stuffing them into oil drums, dousing them with gasoline and setting them on fire, a practice known as a "guiso," or "cook-out".

Law enforcement officials confirm that Trevino appears to have taken effective control of the Zetas, the hemisphere's most violent criminal organization, which has been blamed for a large share of the tens of thousands of deaths in Mexico's war on drugs, though other gangs too have repeatedly committed mass slayings.

"There was a lot of talk that he was pushing really hard on Lazcano Lazcano and was basically taking over the Zetas, because he had the personality, he was the guy who was out there basically fighting in the streets with the troops," said Jere Miles, a Zetas expert and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent who was posted in Mexico until last year.

"Lazcano Lazcano, at the beginning he was kind of happy just to sit back and let Trevino do this, but I don't think he understood how that works in the criminal underworld," Miles said. "When you allow someone to take that much power, and get out in front like that, pretty soon the people start paying loyalty to him and they quit paying to Lazcano."

The rise has so alarmed at least one gang chieftain that he has called for gangs, drug cartels, civic groups and even the government to form a united front to fight Trevino Morales, known as "Z-40," whom he blamed for most of Mexico's violence.

"Let's unite and form a common front against the Zetas, and particularly against Z-40, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, because this person with his unbridled ambition has caused so much terror and confusion in our country," said a man identified as Servando Gomez, leader of the Knights Templar cartel, in a viedo posted Tuesday on the internet.

A Mexican law enforcement official who wasn't authorized to speak on the record said the video appeared to be genuine,

"He is the main cause of everything that is happening in Mexico, the robberies, kidnappings, extortion," Gomez is heard saying on the tape. "We are inviting all the groups ... everyone to form a common front to attack Z-40 and put an end to him."

Trevino Morales has a fearsome reputation. "If you get called to a meeting with him, you're not going to come out of that meeting," said a U.S. law-enforcement official in Mexico City, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic.

In two years since Zetas split with their former allies in the Gulf cartel — a split in which Trevino reported played a central role — the gang has become one of Mexico's two main cartels, and is battling the rival Sinaloa cartel.

Now the Zetas' internal disputes have added to the violence of the conflict between gangs. Internal feuds spilled out into pitched battles in the normally quiet north-central state of San Luis Potosi in mid-August, when police found a van stuffed with 14 executed bodies.

San Luis Potosi state Attorney General Miguel Angel Garcia Covarrubias told local media that a 15th man who apparently survived the massacre told investigators that both the killers and the victims were Zetas. "It was a rivalry with the same organized crime group," Garcia Covarrubias said.

The leadership dispute also may have opened the door to lesser regional figures in the Zetas gang to step forward and rebel, analysts and officials said.

Analysts say that a local Zetas leader in the neighboring state of Zacatecas, Ivan Velazquez Caballero, "The Taliban," was apparently trying to challenge Trevino Morales' leadership grab, and that the 14 bullet-ridden bodies left in the van were The Taliban's men, left there as a visible warning by Trevino Morales' underlings.

The Taliban's territory, Zacatecas, appears to have been a hot spot in Trevino's dispute with Lazcano. It was in Zacatecas that a professionally printed banner was hung in a city park, accusing Lazcano of betraying fellow Zetas and turning them in to the police.

Trevino began his career as a teenage gofer for the Los Tejas gang, which controlled most crime in his hometown of Nuevo Laredo, across the border from the city of Laredo, Texas, officials say.

Around 2005, Trevino Morales was promoted to boss of the Nuevo Laredo territory, or "plaza" and given responsibility for fighting off the Sinaloa cartel's attempt to seize control of its drug-smuggling routes. He orchestrated a series of killings on the U.S. side of the border, several by a group of young U.S. citizens who gunned down their victims on the streets of the American city. American officials believe the hit men also carried out an unknown number of killings on the Mexican side of the border, the U.S. official said.

Trevino Morales is on Mexico's most-wanted list, with a reward of 30 million pesos ($2.28 million) offered for information leading to his capture.

Raul Benitez, a security expert at Mexico's National Autonomous University, said that the Zetas are inherently an unstable cartel with an already huge capacity for violence, and the possibility of more if they begin fighting internal disputes. "I think the Zetas are having problems, and there is no central command," he said.

The Zetas have been steadily expanding their influence and reaching into Central America in recent years, constructing a route for trafficking drugs that offloads Colombian cocaine in Honduras, ships it overland along Mexico's Gulf Coast and runs into over the border through Trevino Morales' old stomping grounds.

Samuel Logan, managing director of the security analysis firm Southern Pulse, notes that "personality-wise they (Trevino Morales and Lazcano) couldn't be more different," and believes the two may want to take the cartel in different directions. The stakes in who wins the dispute could be large for Mexico; Lazcano is believed to be more steady, more of a survivor who might have an interest in preserving the cartel as a stable organization.

"Lazcano may be someone who would take the Zetas in a direction where they'd become less of a thorn in the side for the new political administration," Logan said in reference to Enrique Pena Nieto, who is expected to take office as president on Dec. 1. "In contrast, Trevino is someone who wants to fight the fight."

Referring to Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel, a member of the rival Sinaloa Cartel who died in a shootout with soldiers in July 2010, Logan noted, "Trevino is someone who is going to want to go out, like Nacho Coronel went out, with his guns blazing."




Laurence Kilby, 40, of Cheltenham, who built and raced cars, was arrested after police seized cocaine with a street value of £1m.

 

Laurence Kilby, 40, of Cheltenham, who built and raced cars, was arrested after police seized cocaine with a street value of £1m.

A "privileged" racing driver has been jailed with 11 other drug smugglers. Crown Court heard he was head of a gang moving drugs from Eastern Europe along the M4 corridor to London, western England and south Wales.

Kilby was heavily in debt and turned to crime to maintain his lifestyle of fast cars and high living.

Raids on properties

Kilby was jailed in June but his conviction, and those of the rest of the gang, can now be reported following the conclusion of another trial.

In an undercover operation between Gloucestershire and Avon and Somerset Police, officers seized 3kg of cocaine as it was being ferried between London and Cheltenham in October 2010.

Another 1kg of the drug was intercepted in Cheltenham in February 2011 and 2.5kg was discovered in raids on properties in Cheltenham, Staverton, Bristol and London in July 2011.

The gang of 12 drug dealers from Gloucestershire, Bristol and London received sentences of between 18 years and four years seven months.

It can now be reported Kilby, who was jailed in June, and Vladan Vujovic, 43, of Grange Road, London were found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. Both were jailed for 18 years.

Laurence Kilby racing in the 2009 Castle Combe Saloon Car ChampionshipKilby built and raced cars with the company he owned, Ajec Racing

Richard Jones, 42, of Bradley Stoke, Bristol, was sentenced to 15 years for the same offence, and Mark Poole, 47, from Portishead, was sentenced to nine years seven months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

Police said Kilby sourced the drug in London from an East European criminal gang, which included Vujovic.

Vujovic ran a baggage handling company at Heathrow Airport and was said to receive the cocaine before it was distributed around the South West and Wales.

Kilby is the former husband of Flora Vestey, daughter of Lord Vestey, and was owner of motor racing firm Ajec Racing which was based in Staverton.

He was heavily in debt and turned to crime to maintain his lifestyle of fast cars and high living.

'Well-connected socialite'

In a separate charge, Kilby also pleaded guilty to stealing money from the charity Help for Heroes and was sentenced to 10 months, to run concurrently with his 18-year sentence.

He organised a charity race day at Gloucestershire Airport in July 2010, but failed to pass on between £3,500 and £4,000 in proceeds to the charity Help for Heroes.

Det Insp Steve Bean, from Gloucestershire Police, said Kilby was the main man.

"He portrayed himself as a well-connected socialite and businessman, whilst indulging his ambition as a minor league racing driver.

Drugs wrapped in plastic packagesPolice seized 6.5kg of drugs during the operation

"Despite a privileged background, the reality was that his lifestyle was funded by the ill-gotten gains of drug dealing.

"He continually lied and blamed others in an attempt to distance himself from the conspiracy.

"He displayed an air of arrogance and thought he could get away with it because he didn't get his hands dirty."

The majority of the gang were jailed in June, but reporting restrictions meant it could not be reported until now, after the sentencing of the remaining gang members.

Others members of the gang to be sentenced were:

  • David Chapman, 29, from Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply and was sentenced to nine years.
  • William Garnier, 31, from Cheltenham, pleaded guilty to supplying Class A drugs and was sentenced six years and eight months.
  • Garry Burrell, 46, from Easton, Bristol, and John Tomlin, 28, from Newtown, Gloucestershire both pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine and were sentenced to six years and six months and four years and six months respectively.
  • Timothy Taylor, 40, from Bristol was found guilty of supplying Class A drugs and was sentenced to four years and seven months.
  • Brian Barrett, 48, from Keynsham was found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and was sentenced to 10 years.
  • Scott Everest, 39, from Clevedon was found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and was jailed for seven years.

Jonathan Tanner, 45, from Warminster was sentenced to 18 months for possession with intent to supply of cannabis, but was cleared of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

Darren Weetch, 38, from Bristol, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply. He was sentenced to 16 months.

Officers also worked with Thames Valley Police and the Metropolitan Police during the operation.

Bikie gang suspects in brawl arrests at Penrith shopping centre

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

27 charged in California-Mexico methamphetamine ring

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

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

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.

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

 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.

Tracking a Rare Tattoo-Related Infection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goldgeier, meanwhile, called the Monroe County Health Department.

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

And so began a nationwide medical mystery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Armed gang fight breaks out in Venezuelan prison

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.

NYPD detective suspended after kidnapping victim found in his garage

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.

Four Dead in Gang Related Shooting

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.

Tulisa's Friend, 21, Shot Dead In Gangland Hit

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".

HSBC 'allowed drug money laundering'

A US Senate probe has disclosed how lax controls at Europe's largest bank left it vulnerable to being used to launder dirty money from around the world. The report into HSBC, released ahead of a Senate hearing on Tuesday, says huge sums of Mexican drug money almost certainly passed through the bank. Suspicious funds from Syria, the Cayman Islands, Iran and Saudi Arabia also passed through the bank. HSBC said it expected to be held accountable for what went wrong. The damning report comes at a difficult time for the British banking sector, with standards and practices are under the spotlight. Critics say the current furore over the manipulation of the Libor inter-bank interest rate is the latest example of a banking system in need of fundamental reform. The report also concludes that the US bank regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, failed to properly monitor HSBC. 'Held accountable' The report into HSBC was issued by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, a Congressional watchdog that looks at financial improprieties. Continue reading the main story “ Start Quote We take responsibility for fixing what went wrong ” Stuart Gulliver Chief executive, HSBC The year-long inquiry, which included a review of 1.4 million documents and interviews with 75 HSBC officials and bank regulators, will be the focus of a hearing on Tuesday at which HSBC executives are scheduled to testify. These will include HSBC's chief legal officer Stuart Levey, who joined the bank in January and was previously one of the top officials on terrorism and finance at the US Treasury Department. In a memo released ahead of the hearing, HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver said: "It is right that we will be held accountable and that we take responsibility for fixing what went wrong. "As well as answering the subcommittee's questions, we will explain the significant changes we have already made to strengthen our compliance and risk management infrastructure and culture," he said. A separate HSBC statement said its executives will offer a formal apology at the hearing. "We will apologise, acknowledge these mistakes, answer for our actions and give our absolute commitment to fixing what went wrong," the bank said. Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the sub-committee, spoke of a "polluted" system that allowed black-market funds to move through the US banking system. In 2010, Wachovia agreed to pay $160m as part of a Justice Department probe that examined Mexican transactions. Last month, ING agreed to pay $619m to settle US government allegations that it violated US sanctions against Cuba and Iran.

FBI Says Cartel Used Bank of America to Launder Money

The brother of the alleged leader of a Mexican cocaine-trafficking cartel used Bank of America Corp. (BAC) accounts to invest the organization’s drug proceeds in U.S. racehorses, a FBI agent said. Jose Trevino-Morales, one of 14 people indicted by a federal grand jury in Texas on June 12, used a personal account and a business account under the name of Tremor Enterprises LLC to buy and sell horses using money generated from cocaine trafficking, extortion and bribery, Jason Preece, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said in a June 11 sworn statement filed in federal court in Dallas. “The ultimate goal of this money laundering operation was to provide Jose Trevino with apparent legitimate assets purchased and maintained by illegally obtained money,” Preece said. Bank of America isn’t accused of any wrongdoing in the agent’s statement. Details of the transactions were revealed in a probe of the Los Zetas drug cartel, which according to the filing, funnels thousands of kilograms of cocaine into the U.S. each year. Los Zetas is the biggest drug cartel in Mexico, in geographical presence, and controls 11 states in the country, generating millions of dollars of revenue, Preece said in the statement filed in a bid to gain a search warrant for Trevino’s property. Strong Procedures “We have strong anti-money-laundering procedures and work closely with the authorities when suspicious activity is discovered,” Larry Di Rita, a spokesman at Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America, said in a phone interview today. The bank doesn’t comment on any specific legal and customer cases, he said. Preece filed the statement to support his request for court permission to search Trevino’s property in Balch Springs, Texas, a Dallas suburb, where he said investigators were likely to find horse ownership records, bank statements and cellular phones used to communicate with Los Zetas. Trevino, who earned $29,000 in 2009 from Texas Stone and Tile LLC, had expenses of $200,000 a month the following year to support his horses, according to an FBI informant who isn’t named in the filing. The drug cartel had bought at least $4.2 million worth of quarter horses, which are used in short- distance races, over a four-year period, according to the indictment. The two most well-known horses Trevino had were Tempting Dash and Mr. Piloto, according to the filing. Mr. Piloto won the All American Futurity race in 2010 at Ruidoso Downs Race Track, with Tremor Enterprises’ bank account being credited with $968,440 as a result, Preece said. Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, 38, leader of the Los Zetas drug cartel, and his brother Oscar Omar Trevino Morales were also indicted by the grand jury. The defendants are charged in the May 30 indictment with conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. The crime carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The criminal case is U.S. v. Morales, A-12-cr-210-SS, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (San Antonio). The application and affidavit for search warrant is 3:12-mj-255, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas.)

Crime kingpin Mitchell is Moroccan link man in massive drug deals with Bolivian cocaine cartels

AFRICAN KING: George ‘The Penguin’ Mitchell brings drugs in through Africa

 

AFRICAN KING: George ‘The Penguin’ Mitchell brings drugs in through Africa

GODFATHER George 'The Penguin' Mitchell has become the African link man in a cocaine chain from Bolivia to the streets of Ireland and Europe. The crime lord is sourcing massive shipments of cocaine, similar in quantity to the massive one seized by gardai this week, directly from a Bolivian cartel, gardai believe.

 

Mitchell (61) is believed to be organising the deals from a new base in Morocco, where he has spent the majority of his time in recent years after leaving a property in Amsterdam. Gardai believe the cocaine ending up in Ireland is now sourced from Bolivia by Irish criminals.

Mitchell - who is suffering from health problems as a result of heavy drinking - has been living in a plush villa in ex-pat community in the north African country for the last two years. Last year, the heavily-fortified house where Mitchell had been living in Amsterdam, in de Watermolen 7, was placed on the rental market.

It is believed that The Penguin - who earned his nickname as a result of his waddling, awkward gait - shared the home with his Indonesian mistress and business partner.

Mistress

However, records show that a new mortgage for €450,000 was taken out on the house in 2010 in the name of a 33 year old Irish man. The Penguin is also involved in a legitimate business with his mistress, importing furniture from South East Asia.

A source has claimed that Mitchell even recently made an appearance on a trade stand promoting Indonesian furniture imports and crafts at a prestigious art, furniture and food fair in The Hague. It is believed that The Penguin regularly returns to Amsterdam to visit his family which is based in the country.

 

DEAD: Derek Dunne with his wife

 

DEAD: Derek Dunne with his wife

Mitchell's daughter, Rachel, has also spent time with her father in Morocco, after moves between Marbella and Amsterdam. In June 2000, Rachel's partner - heroin dealer Derek 'Maradona' Dunne' - was gunned down outside the home she shared with her father in Amsterdam. Dunne (33) was a former League of Ireland player who became a major player in Dublin's heroin trade.

 

A source said that the blow Gardai delivered to cocaine import routes last week will be a major headache for Mitchell's crime organisation. Detectives from the Garda National Drugs Unit recovered a staggering 440 kilos of cocaine following a ten-day operation on Tuesday. The drugs were imported to Ireland in a container disguised as wooden flooring.

Two men were charged in connection with the seizure - the largest ever on land in the history of the state.

"Cocaine has been directly traced to Bolivia and came through west Africa and then into Europe. The drugs were then shipped into Ireland from a port in Europe," a source revealed.

Mitchell is described as a link man and a facilitator in the international drug trafficking trade who works with other investors from Ireland and the UK who stump up cash for major deals.

Shipments

 

DEALING: Mitchell used public telephone boxes

 

DEALING: Mitchell used public telephone boxes

Mitchell has extensive contacts and regularly organises shipments of drugs into England, from where one of his main business partners in Liverpool sends them forward into Ireland. He is extremely careful and prefers to use public telephones when doing business.

 

A Dutch security source said Mitchell is placed under surveillance whenever he returns to Holland and that he is aware of this and doesn't even litter the street to avoid drawing unwanted police attention.

"Some top Dutch gangsters are close to British and Irish criminals and they like doing business with them, having a drink and the odd bit of socialising together.

"They know each other and help one another out."

After Derek Dunne was killed, Rachel moved into a house on Groote Peel in Amsterdam with her two kids. The house is also listed as a business address for a wholesale jewellery company, registered with the KvK (chamber of commerce) by her brother, George jnr. Mitchell's other son, Paul, also lives in Holland.

Mitchell, originally from Ballyfermot, has spent the last 25 years flooding Ireland with cocaine, heroin, cannabis and weapons. He started his involvement in serious crime with murdered gangland boss, Martin 'The General' Cahill, and took part in a number of robberies before he was jailed for five years in 1988 for stealing a big consignment of cattle drench.

After his release from prison, Mitchell was one of a number of big-time Dublin criminals who realised the vast fortunes which were to be made from drug trafficking. He set up a well-organised racket from his west Dublin base and quietly began to establish himself as the biggest cannabis and ecstasy trafficker in the State.

But the multi-millionaire criminal fled Ireland following the murder of crime reporter Veronica Guerin 1996 after gardai turned up the heat on drug traffickers. He moved his base to Holland after the arrest of his right-hand man Johnny Doran who was caught with £500,000 worth of cannabis on the M50 at Castleknock, Dublin.

Broker

 

PAL: Johnny Doran

 

PAL: Johnny Doran

Mitchell quickly struck up close ties with Middle Eastern and South American drug-trafficking gangs. He became one of the key suppliers for cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy into the British and Irish markets. The Penguin is also a key broker for other gangs operating in Ireland, Britain and Europe.

 

Apart from drug trafficking, Mitchell and his associates are involved in illegal firearms trading, prostitution and money laundering. In March 1998, he was arrested by Dutch police and charged with a £5m computer supplies robbery. During his court appearances in Holland, Mitchell described himself as a respectable businessman involved in import-export. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment by Dutch judges for the computer parts robbery.

However, he walked free a year later in 1999 due to lenient sentencing regulations, with a third of his term automatically remitted for good behaviour and the time in pre-trial custody also deducted.

One of his associates - who was sentenced to 16 months in prison for the same offence - was Mitchell's pal, notorious Dutch drugs baron Johan Bolung. The flamboyant Dutchman who drives fast top of the range cars and wears exclusive watches has been a close associate of Mitchell and other leading Irish drugs traffickers for many years. He is known to have extensive drugs dealings with Moroccan and also Turkish criminals.

When Mitchell arrived in Holland in 1996 he stayed for a while in Bolung's luxury apartment in one of the wealthiest suburbs south of The Hague. Despite The Penguin's lifelong involvement in criminality, some of his relatives are highly respected members of Irish
society.

Furious

Last year, Fine Gael Presidential candidate Gay Mitchell was furious after he was quizzed about the Penguin, his first cousin, on RTE Radio.

"I am the first cousin of an ambassador," he claimed.

"I am the first cousin of people who have been involved in security forces of the State. I have cousins who play international rugby for Ireland, none of them have anything to do with me."

Colombian police arrest 'drug dealer' at his wedding

Colombian police have released further details of the arrest of Camilo Torres on suspicion of drug trafficking. Mr Torres, better known as Fritanga (Fry-up), was detained minutes after getting married in a lavish ceremony on a Caribbean island on Sunday. Police say he is an influential member of the Urabenos gang, which controls much of the drug trafficking in northern Colombia. A US court has asked for Mr Torres to be extradited on drugs charges. Police said they surprised Fritanga on the Caribbean island of Mucura moments after he had married his girlfriend and as he was preparing to host a party for 150 guests. Police said Fritanga had spared no expense, inviting soap-opera stars and entertainers to the festivities, scheduled to last for a week. They estimated the cost of the party at $1.41m (£900,000). Alive and kicking A video released by the police shows Fritanga's wife, a model, hugging him and sobbing as officers lead him away. Police are heard telling guests to lie on the floor and keep their heads down as the arrest is made. The video also shows Fritanga being shown a photocopy of his ID card by police and jokingly saying that he has trouble recognising it as he has not used it for a few years. Official documents later showed Mr Torres was listed as deceased. His death certificate said he had died of natural causes in the capital, Bogota, on 2 December 2010. Police are investigating the notary who asked for the death certificate to be issued. Prosecutors accuse Fritanga of being a leading member of the Urabenos, a criminal gang made up of former paramilitaries which controls much of the drug- and arms-trafficking in northern Colombia. Earlier this year, the gang offered a reward for the killing of police officers in revenge for the death of their leader, Juan de Dios Usuga. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has made the fight against gangs such as the Urabenos one of his government's priorities.

Five men are seconds away from being beheaded.

They have a large letter “Z,” for the Zetas drug cartel, painted on their bare chests.

Their black-masked executioners,  presumably rivals in Mexico’s ongoing gangster war, stand behind them ready to slowly slice their heads off with knives, according to an especially gruesome video posted this week onmundonarco.com

The end was inevitable and horrible. And in the gangster world, the latest example of purposeful, public disrespect in death.

When 14  butchered corpses were dumped in the border city of Nuevo Laredo earlier this year, each head was wrapped in duct tape.

Each body was either nude or in underwear. A sign warning of more to come was left hanging above them.

When 35 bodies were spilled on the streets in the coastal state of Veracruz during rush hour last year, none appeared to be carved up, but each was again nude or in undergarments, with their hands tied. Several corpses were scrawled with messages.

As Mexico’s gangsters look to more savagely kill each other in an ongoing war there, one of their calling cards has become death with such public humiliation.

Whether it is the Sinaloa Cartel, the Gulf Cartel, the Zetas or other crime groups at war in Mexico it seems that such a demise often involves being partially or completely undressed.

Mike Vigil, a retired former chief of international operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration, who was based in Mexico, said clothes are taken away for several reasons.

“When they capture these guys, it is an insult to have them naked, and they torture them,” Vigil said. ” And it makes it easier to dismember them if they have no clothes.”

Holes dug in 2011 at a cemetery in the Mexican city of Durango for the bodies found in several mass graves across the city to be properly buried. (Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)

It is easier to break down a captive’s  defenses while being interrogated if they’ve been stripped and a  quick way to find out if someone is carrying a weapon or wearing a hidden wire.

There is no doubt that the condition of some of the narco wars bodies  is a mockery of the dead, and a warning to the living.

At the same time, Mexico’s military also has a history of removing a captives’ clothing as part of interrogating them.

The likely thinking is that it makes the person more vulnerable as it breaks down their defenses.

It also makes it a lot harder to escape, both in how fast they can move and how easily then can hide.

The military appears to have also had the trend of post-death  humiliation.

When drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva, the  “Boss of Bosses,” was shot to deathin a gunbattle with the Mexican military last year, his corpse was sprawled on the floor face up, according to photos from the scene.

His pants were around the knees, peso bills stuck to his legs, arms, chest and stomach.

Perhaps that was going too far.

The mother, brother, sister and aunt of one of the marines who was killed in the operation were soon slain.

The University of Miami’s Bruce Bagley, who studies drug trafficking, said he doesn’t have much on the nudity aspect of organized-crime killings in Mexico, but agreed  that humiliation is likely to be part of it.

Vigil, the retired DEA agent, said making it tougher to identify them is also certainly part of the formula as well. But regardless of the reason, the end result is absolute shock for the living, Vigil said.

“It is obvious the dismemberment, mass killings and dumping of bodies at the wholesale level is to intimidate not only the government, but other drug trafficking organizations,” he said. And civilians caught between warring groups will be more hesitant than ever to talk to authorities, he said.

In a machismo twist, gangsters who are captured and know the end is near seem to “take it like a man,” rather than crying, screaming or squirming to get away.

As revealed by many videos, which are posted anonymously on so-called narco bulletin board websites, the captured and condemned gangsters often answer their captors’ questions in “matter of fact” manners.

“They know it is over,” Vigil said. “What enters into their mind is the good old-fashioned Mexican machismo.”

A woman prays in front of crosses during the passage of the "caravan of comfort" along Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, on June 10, 2011. A Mexican convoy protesting violence triggered by a military crackdown on drug cartels arrived in Ciudad Juarez, on the final leg of its 1,860-mile journey. The peace caravan of about 20 buses was led by famed poet and journalist turned protest-organizer Javier Sicilia. (Jesus Alcazar/AFP/Getty Images)

High Court Judges to lose Their bodyguards

"This can not be right. They can not just do this from one day to the next," said one judge High Court on Monday after learning the bodyguards That Were Being Assigned To him taken away. The Interior Ministry HAS BEGUN ITS plan to massively reduce the number of bodyguards Assigned to Judges, Prosecutors and other Officials, High Court sources said. The Reductions, Including the elimination of Government vehicles for Some Officials, are to start in September Taking effect from today. Among Those Who will be left without protection are three anti-corruption Prosecutors who are Investigating the Russian Mafia Currently the Gürtel and Contracts-for-kickbacks case. It was the High Court's chief criminal judge, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, who Informed His colleagues of the Government's decision. The Reasons? The Government no longer feels pressured by ETA, Which Announced an end to attacks last fall, and the move is part of overall cost-cutting Measures ordered by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. INITIALLY, Grande Marlaska, High Court Chief Judge Angel Juanes, chief prosecutor Javier Zaragoza and Judge Jose Luis de Castro, who covers penitentiary issues, will keep Their bodyguards and official vehicles. The rest of the Judges and Prosecutors will now Have to go to work unprotected and by Their Own means. Interior's decision will Radically change the Manner in Which protection is afforded to Courtrooms Interior's decision, if it is finally Implemented across the High Court, will Radically change the Manner in Which protection is afforded to Courtrooms. Until now, judge and prosecutor Each four police officers HAD Assigned to Them, as well as a vehicle. Some Judges Say That They Will the only protection is now Have Regular surveillance of Their homes. The High Court Judges and Its Prosecutors intendant to file a note of protest With The Interior Ministry, the sources said. Their colds are among a complaint That Neither Justice nor the Interior Ministry Officials to Assess Whether made evaluations at Risk Before They Were Deciding to Eliminate bodyguards. The decision to Affect también said the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) legal watchdog and the Supreme Court. In a statement released on Monday, Prosecutors Say That state has not yet ETA disbanded and the Danger Posed by That terrorists still exists. According To Interior Ministry estimates, police officers who 1.010 Some Were serving as bodyguards will be reassigned to other Duties.

Bloods gang member from Paterson gets 89 months in prison

federal judge Wednesday sentenced Michael McCloud, of Paterson, to 89 months in prison for his role with the Fruit Town Brims, a set of the Bloods that authorities said terrorized a section of Paterson for years through violent activities connected to dealing drugs. McCloud, 26, also known as “Ike Brim,” was the second Bloods member to be sentenced this week by U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler for their part in a broad racketeering conspiracy to sell narcotics in Paterson and Newark. Chesler Tuesday sentenced Ricky Coleman, also known as “Pool Stick” and “Sticks,” 39, of Newark, to 151 months for a range of violent crimes and racketeering. McCloud was among 15 alleged members and associates of the Fruit Town and Brick City Brims charged in a 20-count federal indictment with racketeering, murder and other crimes. He was arrested by federal agents in Passaic in January 2011 and pleaded guilty to the RICO conspiracy charge in August. In his guilty plea, McCloud admitted to selling crack cocaine to an undercover officer on August 30, 2006, together with two other members of the gang. McCloud also admitted to participating in two robberies in Paterson in 2006. In the first robbery, McCloud and another gang member who was armed with an AK-47 broke up a dice game and took drugs, cell phones and money. In the second, McCloud worked with other gang members to commit a robbery in retaliation for the shooting of an associate by a member of a rival gang. In the sentencing hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa L. Jampol said the Fruit Town Brims had asserted a powerful control of a section of Paterson, centered at the intersection of 12th and 22nd streets. The gang members transformed this section into an area “that was completely uninhabitable,” to the point that residents were too afraid to leave their homes and attend church services, Jampol said. McCloud’s attorney, James Patton, said his client had worked hard to turn his life around, and was working full-time at Domino’s Pizza when he was arrested last January in the RICO sweep. McCloud told Chesler that he couldn’t change the past, but was trying to become a better person for the future. “I’m tired of going in and out of jail,” McCloud said. “I’m tired of letting my family down. And I’m tired of being a failure.” But Chesler was unmoved by this testimony. McCloud’s criminal history is a long one that begins at age 15, and there is nothing to indicate that his repeated contact with law enforcement had done anything to deter the young man from a life of drugs and violence, Chesler said. The sentence – the maximum under federal guidelines, with 36 months subtracted due to time already spent in a state prison – was meant to serve as a deterrent to other gang members engaged in the same activities, Chesler said. “His offenses are horrendous,” the judge said. “He was part of a gang that terrorized citizens of this state.”

Leaders of El Salvador’s Mara street gangs said they are ready to start negotiations with the government toward a permanent peace pact

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.

Indicted gang member arrested

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

Malvern Crew gang member ordered deported

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.

Fatal shooting possibly to bolster San Bernardino gang

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

ranking member of the Fruit Town Brims set of the Bloods street gang was sentenced to 63 months in prison Wednesday

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.

Mob snitch who botched three hits ratted out Colombo gangster in murder trial

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.”

Slain teen Ramarly Graham's twin brothers convicted of heading gang

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.

Cape Town the gang and drug capital of SA

The Western Cape is the gang and drug hub of the country, says Community Safety MEC Dan Plato. He said it is estimated that about 60 percent of gang and drug related crimes are committed in the Western Cape, but the province only houses about 10 percent of South Africa’s population. Speaking at the Centre for Conflict Resolution’s public dialogue on Gangsterism in South African Schools on Tuesday evening, Plato said due to the endemic nature of gangsterism in the Cape, children were growing up with family members and friends of the family belonging to gangs. They were exposed to gangs on their way to and from school and grew up in an environment where they were used to running for cover “when the bullets start firing”. It was a situation where the local rugby club is run by “a notorious gangster” but parents wanted their children to participate in sport. As a result, his department, in conjunction with other provincial government departments, was involved in a number of initiatives tackling safety at schools and was continually engaging with communities in an effort to combat gangsterism and crime. Initiatives included random search and seizure operations at schools, establishing over 100 sport development MOT centres in previously disadvantaged areas, identifying talented hard-working youngsters who were then provided study bursaries, and facilitating meetings between business and recently matriculated youth in order to assist with job opportunities and recruitment. However, it was only when communities “stand united” that criminals would be caught. “I believe we are in control of the situation at school level,” he said, “but the bigger problem is one not so easily contained.” Fellow speaker Irvin Kinnes, who is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Criminality at the University of Cape Town, provided statistics from recent studies. Kinnes said in 2011 there was a known gang presence at 31 schools in the Western Cape and 63 gang shootings took place on school premises last year. “We must know we have a crisis at our schools,” he said. He said there were situations where gangsters informed parents that a shoot-out was going to take place at or near a particular school and there was “pandemonium” when parents rushed to the school to fetch their children. In communities where gangsterism was so prevalent, even children who wanted nothing to do with gangs were often marked by rival gangs simply because they lived in a particular area. A culture of gangsterism led to young men being forced to show they are “unafraid to challenge or be challenged” and develop machismo and bravado. Educators themselves often contributed to this, he said, through a lack of love and respect toward pupils. At Cape Flats schools the education system itself was “in the business of reproducing gangsters at school level”. In order to address the situation we needed to stop focusing in the gangs, he said, and focus on developing and providing opportunities for the youth.

shooting a cop dead is now legal in the state of Indiana.

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.”

LA gangland’s senseless killing

The script was about a resettled Cambodian dance teacher, Penn Savath, whose past and present merge when the former Khmer Rouge officer responsible for butchering Penn’s family and dance class in April 1975 walks into his grocery store in the United States. Even though the story is fiction, it is based on real facts. The main theme was revenge, but it was also about a man who lost his art and then, through a weird twist of time and geography, finds it again. When Dr Haing S Ngor gave an interview about our film project, The Man From Year Zero, to The Nation newspaper in Bangkok on September 16, 1994, I was ecstatic. I was in Bangkok, working on the script rewrite, when he was murdered in Los Angeles on February 25, 1996. In a Los Angeles Times article on January 21, 2010, Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, recently sentenced for his participating role in Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge atrocities, claimed: “Haing Ngor was killed because he appeared in the film The Killing Fields.” Even as a conspiracy theory, there was no logic for the Khmer Rouge to kill the Academy Award winner, especially in California. But I also doubted the official version of Haing’s murder. It was hard to fathom that such a familiar Cambodian icon could be killed resisting a crack-fuelled robbery attempt by fellow Cambodians. One month before his murder, Haing had told me that he was planning to run for office in Cambodia, and I knew he had business and property interests there. There seemed to be more questions than answers. But all the years of pain and uncertainty would be put to rest in a small Phnom Penh bar on Street 51, called Victory. Victory (Home of Champions) has an unusual clientele – hip-hop raised, tattooed, former Cambodian/American gang members, male and female, forcibly exiled from their American homes to Cambodia. At the Victory, old gang rivalries are set aside and new arrivals can find help, advice and even hope. In the culture of honesty at the Victory, more of a sanctuary than a bar, the deportees do not gloss over their past, or anyone else’s. And it is here that I would learn more about the murder of a friend, that has haunted me for almost two decades. “OG Dicer” (not his real name) is an articulate, former Cambodian gang shot-caller, with an encyclopedic knowledge of 1980s and ’90s, gangland America. Dicer was “kidnapped” by US Immigration from his home in Long Beach, California, and exiled to Cambodia “against his will” in March 2004. Dicer tells me that he lived in the 3200 block of the Los Angeles County Jail’s gang module, in a jail cell beside Haing Ngor’s killers, Oriental Lazy Boyz Jason Chan, Tak Sun Tan and Indra Lim, where he spent two and a half years. “I knew ‘Silent’ and ‘Solo’ since they first hit the streets. Somebody told them that Haing Ngor had a suitcase with a hundred thousand dollars in the trunk of his Mercedes, and they knew he wore a gold chain, locket and a Rolex watch. They went there to jack [rob] him. “There wasn’t nobody big behind it. I know, because I asked them when I was the shot-caller in the gang module – they wouldn’t lie to me or the other homies.” At the Victory, with veteran photographer Al Rockoff, the conversations range from gang violence in the school system, injustice, the struggles of re-adjusting to a foreign country and the broken hearts of Cambodian families left behind in America. Most of the exiles feel betrayed by their punishment and speculate on why these deportations have increased under the presidency of US President Barack Obama. “He just uses minorities to get votes,” exclaims a deportee. But what also emerges is a startling history and insight into the daily robberies, extortion, shootings and home invasions that shaped the Cambodian communities in California and created the gangs. In hindsight, resettling war-traumatised Southeast Asian refugees into poor, violent, black and Mexican, urban neighbourhoods was probably not a good path to the American Dream, although it did work for some luckier Cambodians, like Haing Ngor. According to Dicer, Haing Ngor’s killing did not go down well on the streets or with the other Cambodian gang members in the over-crowded, LA County Gang Module. “We were all pissed off they’d killed a Cambodian icon. They told me they was all cracked out when they did it. Those fools didn’t even know who they killed until after they was arrested.” Sometimes, the authorities do tell the truth. Crime, and a violent death, can often be random, and mindless. And thanks to Dicer, the death of my friend, Dr Haing S Ngor, finally makes sense.

US blacklists sons of Mexico drug lord Joaquin Guzman

The US treasury department has put two sons of Mexico's most wanted man Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman on its drugs kingpin blacklist. The move bars all people in the US from doing business with Ivan Archivaldo Guzman Salazar and Ovidio Guzman Lopez, and freezes any US assets they have. Joaquin Guzman, on the list since 2001, runs the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel. Mexico has seen an explosion of violence in recent years as gangs fight for control of trafficking routes. The US administration "will aggressively target those individuals who facilitate Chapo Guzman's drug trafficking operations, including family members," said Adam Szubin, director of the department's Office of Foreign Assets Control . "With the Mexican government, we are firm in our resolve to dismantle Chapo Guzman's drug trafficking organisation." Ovidio Guzman plays a significant role in his father's drug-trafficking activities, the treasury department said. Ivan Archivaldo Guzman was arrested in 2005 in Mexico on money-laundering charges but subsequently released. As well as the Guzman brothers, two other alleged key cartel members, Noel Salgueiro Nevarez and Ovidio Limon Sanchez, were listed under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. They were both arrested in Mexico in 2011 and are still in custody. Under the Kingpin Act, US firms, banks and individuals are prevented from doing business with them and any assets the men may have under US jurisdiction are frozen. More than 1,000 companies and individuals linked to 94 drug kingpins have been placed on the blacklist since 2000. Penalties for violating the act range include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $10m (£6m). The US has offered a reward of up to $5m a for information leading to the arrest of Joaquin Guzman, who escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001.

FBI offers up to $100,000 for info leading to capture of Eduardo Ravelo

Eduardo Ravelo, born on October 13, 1968 was added as the 493rd fugitive to the FBI 10 most wanted list on October 20, 2009. He is originally from Mexico, however he holds permanent residency status in the United States which gives him free movement across the border. An FBI informant and former lieutenant in the Barrio Azteca, a prison gang active in the U.S. and Mexico, testified that Ravelo told him to help find fellow gang members who had stolen from the cartel. In March 2008, he became the leader of the gang shortly after betraying his predecessor, stabbing him several times and shooting him in the neck. (Eduardo Ravelo: Wikipedia) Eduardo Ravelo was indicted in Texas in 2008 for his involvement in racketeering activities, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, and conspiracy to possess heroin, cocaine and marijuana with the intent to distribute. His alleged criminal activities began in 2003. He is believed to be living in an area of Cuidad Juarez controlled by the Barrio Ravelo, with his wife and children just across the border from El Paso, Texas. He is also said to have bodyguards and armored vehicles to protect him from rival gangs as well as rival cartels.

Brink's Mat the reason that Great Train Robber was shot dead in Marbella

The Brink’s-Mat curse even touched on the Great Train Robbery gang of 1963. One of them, Charlie Wilson, found himself in trouble when £3 million of Brink’s-Mat investors’ money went missing in a drug deal. In April 1990, he paid the price when a young British hood knocked on the front door of his hacienda north of Marbella and shot Wilson and his pet husky dog before coolly riding off down the hill on a yellow bicycle.

14 headless bodies found in Mexican city

The heads from the decapitated bodies were found in ice boxes outside the city hall, according to local security forces, only a mile from the American border. Horrified motorists earlier encountered the blood-stained bodies of four women and five men hanging off a bridge, alongside an apparent message from a drug gang. The grim spectacles were extreme even for Nuevo Laredo and the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, which have seen some of the most gruesome episodes in Mexico's brutal five-and-a-half year drug war so far

Police raid more than 20 cannabis farms each day as gangs move into suburbs

20 cannabis farms and factories were discovered by police every day last year as the downturn saw more drug users switch to growing their own products. Senior police chiefs revealed that last year they seized drugs which could sell for £100 million on the streets. Officials said the size and scale of the farms were reducing as criminals producing cannabis were spreading the risk and minimising losses by employing a large number of so-called 'gardeners' to manage small sites across multiple residential areas.

Shooting a 'warning' from rival bikie gang

SIMMERING tension between rival bikie gangs exploded on the Gold Coast yesterday with the drive-by shooting of a tattoo parlour in the heart of Bandidos territory. Police fear the attack could be a push for territory by the Hells Angels as the outlaw gang seeks a toehold on the lucrative Glitter Strip. Less than 24 hours after police commissioner Bob Atkinson told the Bulletin that bikie gangs were "one of the greatest challenges to face law enforcement", the Bandido-protected Mermaid Beach tattoo shop was hit by at least four shots in the early hours of yesterday morning.  High-ranking police yesterday said it was "inevitable" that the violence that has plagued Sydney would eventually spill across the border. "We do not believe it is directly connected to the war between the Hells Angels and the Nomads that has been unfolding in New South Wales," said police. "But it is a similar style of attack. "We know the Hells Angels have been pushing to establish a chapter on the Gold Coast -- that push is coming from Sydney. "Tradelink Drive is not their most profitable chapter." While detectives have attempted to play down the shooting, police say there is "no doubt" it was intended as a warning. The Bandidos are the largest and one of the most secretive bikie gangs on the Gold Coast. The club has gained strength as its main rival -- the Finks -- have been severely weakened with so many senior members behind bars and Bandido territory stretches south from Broadbeach. Police said last month's Hells Angels National Run was intended as a direct message to all gangs on the Gold Coast. More than 200 patched gang members descended on Surfers Paradise for the run. "These clubs are so well organised, they do nothing without a reason," police said. "You can bet they had some purpose in coming to the Gold Coast. "They taunted the Finks and nothing happened, now the Bandidos tattoo shop is shot up in the same way the gym controlled by the Hells Angels was hit a few months ago. "You join the dots." The shop is owned by a senior member of the outlaw gang who has been a patched member of the Bandidos "for years", police say. In an exclusive interview with the Bulletin, Mr Atkinson said the danger of bikie gangs was "under-rated" by the community. "The outlaw motorcycle gangs nationally present one of the greatest challenges to police. "I think the degree of that challenge and the risk they present to our society is underrated." The Gold Coast has one of the highest populations of bikie gangs in the country. Mr Atkinson said he would not be surprised if the Hells Angels were not considering a move closer to the Glitter Strip. "They are businesses, they look for opportunity so that wouldn't be a surprise," he said. "They market themselves as a group of mature men who have a love and interest in motorbikes and they do that very cleverly. The reality is they are highly sophisticated, well organised criminal enterprises that pose a genuine risk to the community and many are well represented by the finest and best lawyers who they retain to represent them." South East Region Assistant Commissioner Graham Rynders said the gangs were constantly looking to expand. "One of things about OMCGs is they look for opportunity for criminal enterprise," Mr Rynders said. "Throughout Queensland, throughout the country, probably throughout the world they are looking to expand. It is obviously dictated to by territory, depending on who or what other groups exist in what areas."

Jury hears grisly details about murder scene

Police discovered a grisly scene on Sept. 10, 2000, when they entered a Cogmagun Road home in Hants County. “It was a very brutal scene,” Cpl. Shawn Sweeney, who was a constable with the Windsor rural RCMP detachment that day, testified Tuesday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Kentville. It was the second day of trial for Leslie Douglas Greenwood, 42, who is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Barry Kirk Mersereau, 48, and his wife, Nancy Paula Christensen, 47. Sweeney, a Crown witness, testified that he and four other police officers who responded to a 911 call found Christensen sitting upright in a chair in the living room of her Centre Burlington home with a bullet wound in her left cheek, under her glasses. She had a cup of tea in her hand and a small dog was sitting in her lap. There were several bullet casings and lead fragments scattered on the floor. Mersereau was lying face down, with pools of blood around his head and body. Another dog, believed to be a German shepherd-Rottweiler mix, was hiding under covers on the bed in the master bedroom. A third dog was tied to the front porch and another had run off into the woods. Sweeney told Chief Justice Joseph Kennedy and the seven-woman, five-man jury hearing the case that the house appeared to be neat and orderly, with no signs of struggle. “It didn’t appear to be a house that was rifled through or things thrown around,” Sweeney testified. Const. Glenn Bonvie told the court it was immediately obvious that Mersereau and Christensen were dead. “There was no movement. There was no doubt that they were deceased.” Crown witness Ronald Connors owned a hunting cabin in the woods about half a kilometre away from the couple’s house. He testifed that he heard several shots at about 8:15 p.m. on Sept. 9. Connors said he heard six shots fired in quick succession, followed by a pause and a couple more shots. Moments later, there were more shots. He said he thought at first someone might be jacking deer, but Connors concluded that the shots didn’t sound like those from a high-powered hunting rifle. The jury was shown a video of the two bodies as they were found. Former RCMP officer David Clace, then in charge of the RCMP’s forensics identification unit in New Minas, said a large amount of money was found in plastic bags in a gym bag in one of the bedroom closets. The bag was later determined to contain about $65,000 in cash. Crown attorney Peter Craig has told the court that the victims were shot to death in their home in an execution-style killing as part of a Hells Angels-ordered killing. “They were killed in their home in a quiet community, with a teapot on the stove, with no signs of struggle and their baby in the next room,” Craig told the jury. He said evidence presented by as many as 40 Crown witnesses will show that Michael Lawrence and Greenwood murdered the couple on the orders of Jeffrey Lynds, a former Hells Angels operative who died recently in a Montreal jail of an apparent suicide. Lawrence, who owed Lynds money, pleaded guilty last January to three charges of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years. Also killed that day, by Lawrence, was Charles Maddison, an innocent man who picked Lawrence up hitchhiking. Lawrence shot him to take his truck to commit a planned robbery. Craig said Lawrence, expected to be a crucial Crown witness, will testify that he and Greenwood shot the couple, one with a .357 Magnum, the other with a 32-calibre handgun, in what he called “planned and deliberate” killings. The couple’s 18-month-old baby boy was safely recovered from the house by neighbour Ruby McKenzie, who went to the victim’s home the day after the shootings. McKenzie said she brought the baby back to her mobile home and called police. Greenwood sat quietly during the proceedings, occasionally exchanging comments with his lawyer, Alain Begin. Begin is expected to argue that Greenwood went to the Mersereau house the day of the shootings to buy drugs, and that Lawrence shot the couple while Greenwood was waiting outside. Also charged with first-degree murder in the killings is Curtis Blair Lynds, 36, who is serving time in a federal prison for drug trafficking. A preliminary inquiry in his case is scheduled to begin July 16.

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