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Top Ten Cities for arresting Americans


The top 10 cities where Americans were arrested and the number taken into custody:
1. Tijuana: 520
2. Guadalajara: 416
3. Nuevo Laredo: 359
4. London: 274
5. Mexico City: 208
6. Toronto: 183
7. Nassau, Bahamas: 108
8. Mérida, Mexico: 99
9. Nogales, Mexico: 96
10. Hong Kong: 90

Arrests WorldWide (Drug Enforcement)

Arrests WorldWide (Drug Enforcement)

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2,500 citizens are arrested abroad. One third of the arrests are on drug-related charges. Many of those arrested assumed as U.S. citizens that they could not be arrested. From Asia to Africa, Europe to South America, citizens are finding out the hard way that drug possession or trafficking equals jail in foreign countries.
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Monday, November 28

Marvel character, Erik Lensherr a.k.a. Magneto, has apparently infringed the copyright of the King of Spain

Marvel character, Erik Lensherr a.k.a. Magneto, has apparently infringed the copyright of the King of Spain in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, with the Zarzuela Palace claiming the X-Men villain's alternate costume is identical to the military uniform worn by King Juan Carlos.



Representitives for the Zazuela Palace have contacted the Spanish distributor of the game in the region, Koch Media, to warn them of possible copyright infringement.

This isn't the first time the Spanish Royal's has stamped their feet over the strong resemblences, as Marvel faced a similar dispute when Magneto first donned the uniform in The Pulse: House of M Special X-Men special.

Read more...

New ecstasy fears after two dead and one seriously ill following club weekend

 

The clubbers, aged 20 and 21, died within hours of each other at the same hospital after attending separate dance music events at Alexandra Palace in north London over the weekend. Another 20-year-old man, also thought to have attended an event at the venue, is also being treated at the same hospital where he is said to be in a serious but stable condition. Last night Scotland Yard issued a special appeal to any young people who may have taken drugs at or before either of the events to seek immediate medical attention amid fears dealers may have been peddling an ultra-strong batch. It comes just a week after the charity Drugscope, which monitors trends in underground the drug trade, warned of an alarming rise in the popularity of ecstasy which dominated the 1990s rave scene but fell out of fashion. A surge in use follows an influx of a more-potent Chinese variants of the drug which is based on the chemical MDMA, or methylenedioxymethamphetamine.

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Ecstasy alert after club deaths

 

wo young clubbers suspected of taking ecstasy died after separate dance music events at London's Alexandra Palace, police said. The men, aged 20 and 21, were admitted to a north London hospital on Sunday and were pronounced dead within seven hours of each other. The 21-year-old is thought to have attended an all-night party called Bass Culture, which started on Friday and continued into Saturday. The 20-year-old is believed to have attended a night called Epic, starting on Saturday night and running into Sunday. A second 20-year-old man who was also believed to have attended the event on Saturday night was admitted to hospital as well and remains in a serious but stable condition. The Metropolitan Police said the cause of the deaths and injury was yet to be established but confirmed that one line of inquiry was that the men may have taken illegal substances, possibly MDMA - the chemical name for ecstasy. They issued an urgent appeal for other clubbers to seek medical attention following the unexplained deaths. Detective Inspector Rita Tierney said: "Although it is too early to say what caused these men's health to deteriorate, we are investigating the possibility that illegal drugs may have been involved. "If you have taken what you believed to be MDMA, or any other substance, during this weekend's events at Alexandra Palace, and are now feeling unwell, I would strongly urge you to attend your nearest hospital as soon as possible."

Read more...

Man shot in Brunswick

 

A gunman is on the loose after a man was gunned down in a busy Brunswick street late this afternoon. The man was shot several times outside a gym and then stumbled across the Brunswick shopping centre car park where he collapsed beside a vehicle, police say. At least six shots rang out at the Barkly Square Shopping Centre late this afternoon and the 37-year-old man was hit in the upper body.

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Friday, November 25

Bali jails Australian boy over cannabis possession

 

An Australian boy has been jailed for two months for possessing cannabis on the Indonesian island of Bali. The case sparked an outcry in Australia, where the media argued the 14-year-old was too young to be jailed. But Indonesian analysts hit back, criticising Australia for holding Indonesian youngsters in detention in people-smuggling cases. The teenager, who has not been named, will serve the rest of his sentence at an immigration detention centre. The jail term includes the time already served, so the boy, from New South Wales, is expected to be freed in two weeks' time. He will be deported to Australia at the end of his sentence. The boy bought a small amount of cannabis from a dealer on the island - a crime punishable by up to two years in jail. But the court treated him leniently after hearing that he had pre-existing drugs problems and had sought help from doctors. Drugs cases involving Australians in Indonesia regularly cause a huge outcry because of the country's extreme sentencing rules. The most notorious was that of the so-called Bali Nine, who were convicted of trying to import heroin. Most of them are serving lengthy prison sentences after having death penalties commuted on appeal.

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Thursday, November 24

former bicyclist who pleaded guilty to delivering more than 350 pounds of marijuana

former bicyclist who pleaded guilty to delivering more than 350 pounds of marijuana to Wilton in 2009 was sentenced to time served Tuesday.

Melissa Giove, of Chesapeake, Va., will spend five years on probation, six months under house arrest and must perform 500 hours of community service under the sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe. She could have faced as much as 40 years in federal prison.

Giove, a 39-year-old former world-champion downhill mountain biker, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in December of 2009 for her role in transporting marijuana from California to Wilton. She was arrested by Drug Enforcement Agency agents in Saratoga County on June 16, 2009.

Authorities said Giove got the marijuana in California and arranged to have it driven to the Capital District by a co-conspirator. That man, who was not named in court filings, was apprehended during his cross-country trip and agreed to cooperate with police and continue the delivery.

With federal authorities watching, Giove met with the man at Albany International Airport, where she had arrived on a plane from Virginia. She then drove a trailer containing the marijuana to the Wilton home of Eric Canori, according to authorities.

Canori, 32, pleaded guilty in June of this year to the same conspiracy charge and is awaiting sentencing. He was also charged earlier this year with attempting to illegally transfer $10,000 in drug proceeds to another person identified in court papers only as "D.B."

The U.S. Attorney's office had sought a prison sentence of 24 to 30 months for Giove, as well as four years of probation and a $25,000 fine, according to court filings.

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Greek police stopped a lorry near Athens on Tuesday evening and seized 100kg of herbal cannabis from a container.

Two men from Northern Ireland have been arrested in an international police sting operation that prevented a major £2m haul of herbal cannabis reaching Ireland.

A combined operation involving the PSNI, gardai and Greek police has led to the seizure of 200kg of the drug in Greece.

Greek police confiscated the haul after stopping a lorry and searching a warehouse following an operation that began more than a month ago.

Searches were carried out in the Republic by members of the Garda national drugs unit in Allenwood near Naas, and other parts of north Kildare, as well as in Finglas, north Dublin, but nobody was detained.

Last night four men were in custody, three detained in Greece and a fourth in Northern Ireland. Police are satisfied that the haul was destined for the streets on both sides of the border and was to have been smuggled inside a container through Dublin port.

The lorry driver, a 36-year-old man from Northern Ireland, was arrested and was being questioned yesterday.

In a follow-up search at a warehouse in the Greek capital Athens, officers recovered another 100kg of the drug. Two other men, both Greek nationals, were arrested there while a fourth suspect, a 34-year-old man, was detained following four searches by the PSNI in Northern Ireland.

During a cross-border conference on organised crime yesterday, PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott said the timing of the seizures and arrests in Greece was purely coincidental but welcome.

“They are the result of much hard work by colleagues in a range of partner agencies and provide tangible demonstration of how partnership delivers results, making communities safer and creating a hostile environment for organised criminals, whatever the jurisdiction,” he said.

Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan both hailed the seizure as an example of effective police co-operation on the island of Ireland and also in Europe.

Mr Shatter said organised crime gangs continued to exploit borders for criminal gain.

”The strong co-operation that exists between our law enforcement agencies ensures that we tackle these gangs through a co-ordinated and effective response, disrupting their criminal activities, targeting those involved and seizing property.

“Tackling cross border criminality sends a clear message to the gangs they will find no safe haven on either side of the border”, Mr Shatter added.

He said one of his priorities was to continue to work at European level for the setting up in each member country of agencies modelled on the criminal assets bureau and boost co-operation in the seizure of the proceeds of crime.

Background

The police operation was sparked off by a Garda investigation into another seizure at Dublin Port in October and officers believe the two hauls are linked. As a result of intelligence gathered by the three forces, Greek police stopped a lorry near Athens on Tuesday evening and seized 100kg of herbal cannabis from a container.

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Wednesday, November 23

Justin MacLean, 27, and Jason Nolan, 32, have been charged with aggravated trafficking of cocaine.

Justin MacLean, 27, and Jason Nolan, 32, have been charged with aggravated trafficking of cocaine. Both men were arrested Monday and taken to the York County Jail in Alfred, where they remained Wednesday evening.

The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (MDEA) and the Sanford Police Department worked together on the case, according to Steve McCausland, a spokesman for the state's public safety department.

MDEA Supervisor Stephen Borst said undercover agents reportedly had purchased cocaine from Nolan in recent days at his house on Brook Street in Sanford, McCausland said in a prepared statement.

On Monday, agents and local police officers stopped a vehicle operated by MacLean as it left Nolan's residence and allegedly found nearly five ounces of cocaine and crack in the vehicle. Agents then took Nolan into custody at his home.

McCausland said the agents and officers seized a small amount of cocaine, a scale and some packing materials.

MacLean lives in Haverhill, Mass., and is believed to be transporting the drug to Sanford, McCausland added.

Both men are likely to appear in York County Superior Court on Dec. 14.

Borst said Nolan is suspected of selling cocaine in Sanford over the past year.

Both men are being held on $50,000 cash bail.

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Nicholas House, 27, was arrested by police acting on a tip that he was delivering a large load of drugs from Chicago.

Chicago man with ties to La Crosse was charged Tuesday with intent to deliver nearly 50 grams of cocaine.

The charge filed in La Crosse County Circuit Court stems from a bust early Thursday at an Onalaska motel where Nicholas House, 27, was arrested by police acting on a tip that he was delivering a large load of drugs from Chicago.

According to the criminal complaint, officers found 109 individually wrapped bags of cocaine wedged in a secret compartment behind the dashboard of the van in which House was riding. House said the drugs were his and that he’d been arrested before for drug dealing.

House is in the La Crosse County jail with a $50,000 cash bond.

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Lawrence Blue made his living off the death and destruction of others.

44-year-old Bryan crack cocaine dealer was sentenced to 45 years in prison Tuesday by District Judge Travis Bryan.

Lawrence Edward Blue was convicted last Thursday of felony drug possession with intent to deliver in a drug free zone by a Brazos County jury in the 272nd District Court.

Jurors took less than an hour to return the guilty verdict after hearing from law enforcement officers who had investigated the drug operation and other witnesses.

Because the defendant was selling within 1,000 feet of a school zone, he originally faced a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison.

But a previous aggravated assault conviction caused the charge to be upgraded to a first-degree felony, meaning Blue could have received life in prison.

Prosecutors Jarvis Parsons and Jason Goss asked Bryan for a 50 to 60-year prison term, while Blue's attorney, Rick Davis, argued for 10 to 12 years.

Police said Blue was arrested in February after authorities found 45 rocks of cocaine, two firearms and almost $15,000 in cash hidden in different places on his property.

The drugs -- worth $20 a rock-- were found inside a bag placed in the knot of a tree, according to testimony.

A search warrant on his home was secured after Blue sold his products to three undercover Bryan officers.

Six others were arrested for felony drug possession on the same day as the defendant, the result of investigations narcotics officers said they'd been working on for months.

"We would like to thank the Bryan Police Department for their hard work in taking down one of the biggest crack cocaine dealers [locally,]" Parsons said. "Lawrence Blue made his living off the death and destruction of others.

Read more...

Monday, November 21

largest drug busts of the year this week, netting more than 7 pounds of cocaine.

Rowan County Sheriff’s Office investigators landed one of the largest drug busts of the year this week, netting more than 7 pounds of cocaine.

According to a report, deputies worked with Salisbury Police officers after getting information about a large cocaine shipment coming into Salisbury.

Through the investigation, deputies identified 52-year-old Luis Alberto Valencia as the suspect involved in the delivery.

About 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, authorities stopped Valencia’s red Toyota Camry in a parking lot in the 1700 block of N.C. 52. Inside the vehicle, deputies found 3.5 kilograms — about 7.7 pounds — of cocaine in packaged “bricks,” the report said.

Valencia was charged with two counts of felony trafficking cocaine and felony possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine.

He was placed under a $400,000 bond and remained in jail Thursday.

After the arrest, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents determined Valencia was in the country illegally.

Valencia gave authorities an address of 202 Dianne St., Wingate. Union County deputies searched the home Wednesday and found two firearms, one of which had been reported stolen.

Read more...

seized more than $67,000 in cocaine and cocaine base, and arrested three men

Berkeley County Drug Enforcement Unit on Nov. 10 seized more than $67,000 in cocaine and cocaine base, and arrested three men, sheriff's office spokesman Dan Moon said Thursday.

Following up on complaints of drug activity at a home at 497 Nelson Ferry Road, agents arrived and found three men attempting to flee the area. 

Walter M. Bash, 23, of 227 Mattie Road, fled from the driver's side door of a pickup truck at the residence, and Curtis Shine, 26, who resides at 497 Nelson Ferry Road, was observed fleeing from the passenger side door, Moon said.

Agents also saw Esau Branch Jr., 26, of 239 Mitton Road, reportedly throw a bag of cocaine to the ground. Deputies observed a quantity of cocaine and a weight scale in the console area of the truck, the department said.

Bash was charged with two counts of trafficking cocaine and trafficking cocaine base, also known as crack, within one-half mile of a school.

Both Branch and Shine were charged with possession with intent to distribute within one-half mile of a school, Moon said.

Read more...

SWAT team from the state Attorney General's office raided a suspected heroin and cocaine distribution operation in Stroudsburg

SWAT team from the state Attorney General's office raided a suspected heroin and cocaine distribution operation in Stroudsburg this morning. A white female and a black male were taken from Room 220 from the Budget Host Inn on Park Avenue at about 7:30 a.m., and law enforcement officials searched the room.

About a dozen officers dressed in armor, helmets, goggles and automatic weapons exited an unmarked black van early in the morning and surrounded the room, located on the second floor facing the parking lot of Pocono Record.

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Stephen M. Thompson, 26, became the first person charged by the St. Clair County state's attorney's office with drug-induced infliction of great bodily harm

Stephen M. Thompson, 26, became the first person charged by the St. Clair County state's attorney's office with drug-induced infliction of great bodily harm, according to State's Attorney Brendan Kelly and court documents.

Thompson is accused of delivering the heroin that led to the nonfatal overdose of Robin Kitterman on Saturday night at the Executive Inn, 1234 Centreville Ave. in Belleville, court documents state.

Read more...

Two men were arrested after a heroin deal turned into a car chase and armed robbery

Two men were arrested after a heroin deal turned into a car chase and armed robbery early Thursday morning in Brooklyn, authorities reported.

Travis Quillen, 18, no permanent address, and Jon Fedkenheuer, 43, of Sun Prairie, were arrested by Dane County Sheriff's Office deputies and turned over to Rock County deputies upon their arrest at about 2:05 a.m. Thursday at the residence of their alleged victim, Bradley Larson, 22, on Hotel Street in Brooklyn.

Quillen was tentatively charged with recklessly endangering safety, robbery and battery, while Fedkenheuer was tentatively charged with armed robbery and battery, with a probation hold added since he already was on probation for armed robbery.

According to a news release from the Rock County Sheriff's Office, the incident started as a heroin deal involving the two arrested men and Larson that evolved into a car chase.

"Fedkenheuer and Quillen ran Larson's vehicle off of Holt Road near Crocker Road (in Rock County), then allegedly began to assault Larson, threatening to use a knife and gun in order to take his wallet," the press release said.

The two suspects allegedly ended up with Larson's wallet and $20, which were recovered when the two were arrested.

Larson was brought to the sheriff's office for an interview, but no tentative charges were noted against Larson in the news release.

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$1,000,000 secured bond, on charges of conspiracy to traffic heroin in Ashe County.

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, a search warrant was executed in Millers Creek. Ashe County Sheriff James Williams reports the arrests were made in collaboration with the ACSO, the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation, Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office, Boone Police Department and investigators with United States Homeland Security.

Floriberto Torres Contreras, 38, and Dawn Renee Dula Contreras, 42, are being housed at the Ashe County Detention Center. Each is under a $1,000,000 secured bond, on charges of conspiracy to traffic heroin in Ashe County.

“These two were providing a major portion of the heroin coming into this county, and also Wilkes and Watauga,” said Williams.

Williams described the heroin as “black tar,” a less refined form of heroin produced in Latin America and Mexico. The less complex processes used in the manufacture of the opiate make it popular among clandestine drug operations.

Both individuals are also charged with trafficking cocaine and trafficking heroin in Wilkes County.

Williams said the investigation that led to the arrests began in Ashe County, and quickly expanded into neighboring Wilkes and Watauga counties.

Williams said the possibility of further arrests is likely and that the arrests have closed off a major supply of heroin in Ashe and surrounding counties.

“We’re watching the hospitals now,” said Williams. “Withdrawal symptoms in heroin addicts start quick, and some are probably already making their way to the hospitals.”

Williams said anytime a major supply of drugs is closed off, the hospitals report increased visits among addicts struggling with the effects of withdrawal.

Read more...

Sunday, November 20

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is pictured sitting in a plane in Zintan after his capture in Libya's rugged desert.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi
Photograph: Ismail Zitouni/Reuters

The man who led the fighters that captured Saif al-Islam has said that the late dictator's son tried to escape arrest by pretending to be a camel herder.

"When we caught him, he said, 'My name is Abdul Salem, a camel keeper,'" said commander Ahmed Amur on Sunday. "It was crazy."

His unit, from Zintan's Abu Bakar al-Sadiq brigade, had been patrolling the vast southern desert of Libya for more than a month when it was given a tip-off late last week that Saif al-Islam was close to the town of Obari.

"We knew it was a VIP target, we did not know who," said Amur, who worked as a professor of marine biology in Tripoli before the war.

He said rebel units with pickup trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns deployed in ambush positions in the desert near Obari, a small town that lies astride roads leading to both Algeria and Niger.

As the informant had predicted, two Jeeps came into view at lunchtime on Friday, surging through the desert near the main highway that leads to Niger.

"When we saw the first car we fired shots ahead of it, not to hit, as a warning. It stopped. Then the second car belonging to Saif came," he said, speaking in English. "We shot warning shots, he (Saif's car) stopped in the sand. Saif and his aide came out of the car."

He said rebel fighters approached on foot, Saif threw himself face down and began rubbing dirt on his face. "He wanted to disguise himself," he said.

Amur raced up to him and ordered him to stand up, finding himself face to face with Saif al -Islam.

But the most notorious son of the late dictator claimed he was not one of the world's most wanted war crimes suspects, but a simple camel herder – Abdul Salem being the equivalent of a British "John Smith".

"His face was covered (with dirt), I knew who he was," said Amur. "Then he said to us, 'Shoot.' When the rebels refused to shoot, and identified themselves, Saif told them: 'OK, shoot me, or take me to Zintan.'

"We don't kill or harm a captured man, we are Islam," said Amur, still clad in the green combat jacket he wore when making the arrest. "We have taken him here to Zintan. After that, our government is responsible."

Zintan was on Sunday hemmed-in by checkpoints set up by its fighters, whose units fought some of the toughest battles of the war, ending in their attack on Tripoli in August.

Omran Eturki, leader of Zintan council, says Saif must face trial in Zintan's own courthouse. "We can try him, it will not take too long, we don't need any new laws," he said, referring to questions over Libya's current legal limbo. "They are Zintanis who captured him so they will have to have him here."

Eturki said it was better to try him in Libya than send him to the international criminal court, which has indicted Saif for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"The judicial authorities can appoint the judges and the lawyers, but the trial must be here. As long as there is justice, that is it."

He said Saif would get a fair trial. "There is no point to make a revolution for justice, and then you become the same killers. All the people of Zintan want to see him have a proper trial. We don't like to harm him. If we wanted to kill him we could kill him. We captured him so I think we have the right to try him."

Read more...

Friday, November 18

prison officer from Woodston, Peterborough has been jailed after trying to smuggle nearly £5,000 worth of drugs into HMP Peterborough.

A prison officer from Woodston, Peterborough has been jailed after trying to smuggle nearly £5,000 worth of drugs into HMP Peterborough.


Gavin Isaac (26), of Clement Drive, Woodston, was found with heroin, cannabis and mobile phones hidden in his clothes.

The contraband was found by fellow officers in a search when Isaac went into the prison on Monday, October 3 and he was arrested by police.

He was jailed for five years at Peterborough Crown Court on Friday, 11 November.

Judge Nic Madge said the case had to be used as a deterrent to stop others trying to bring drugs into the prison system.

Isaac had pleaded guilty to two counts of conveying articles into prison at a previous hearing.

Cheryl Williams, prosecuting, said: “The heroin was split into 100 individual wraps and was kept in a package with two mobile phones, six sim cards and a set of headphones.

“The package was hidden in the groin area of his trousers.

“The guards asked him if he had anything else on him and he produced a tennis ball package of cannabis from his sock.

“The heroin had a value in prison of £4,000, while the cannabis was worth £870 in the jail.

“When he was questioned by police, he said he had fallen into debt and needed money to pay off loan sharks.

“Both his colleagues and the prison population in general knew about his debt problems.

“He said he had been paid £300 to bring the drugs and met with a man in a car park to pick up the items.

“He said he did not know what was in the packages, but suspected at least one phone was involved.”

Miss Williams read a statement in court from a Peterborough Prison spokesman, which said the introduction of drugs into the prison system put added pressure of services, as it could lead to bullying, violent incidents between prisoners and cause problems for health services trying to help prisoners kick their drug habits.

The statement added that if prisoners get hold of mobile phones it increased the chance of drugs getting inside, prisoners contacting vulnerable victims and accessing information they should not.

The court was told Isaac served in the second Gulf War.

Lawrence Bruce, defending, said: “Isaac served his country for four years in Iraq, attaining the rank of lance corporal.

“This was a one-off incident. He was vulnerable because his spiral of debt was well-known inside the prison and he was vulnerable to corruption.”

Mr Bruce added that Isaac had no previous convictions.

Judge Madge said he had to pass a significant prison sentence.

He said: “Deterrent sentences have to be passed in these cases.

“Dissemination of drugs in prison disturbs ordinary working of prison and has potential to greatly increase difficulties of maintaining a safe environment for staff and inmates.”

Isaac was given a five-year jail term for trying to smuggle drugs into prison and a one-year term for smuggling the phones, to be served concurrently.

Read more...

Federal authorities have moved to seize a 200-acre ranch that they allege is owned by the No. 3 leader of the Zetas drug cartel.

Federal authorities have moved to seize a 200-acre ranch that they allege is owned by the No. 3 leader of the Zetas drug cartel.

The Mexican Army arrested Carlos Oliva-Castillo (aka "La Rana") in Saltillo back in October.

He remains in a Mexican jail where he's facing organized crime charges and extradition to the United States.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas filed a lawsuit to seize a Starr County ranch that they allege is owned by Oliva-Castillo.

According to the lawsuit, the 200-acre ranch is north of Rio Grande City on FM 2686.

Public records show that the Dr. Carlos Ricardo Tamez-Tirado of Diaz Ordaz, Tamaulipas bought the ranch for $125,000 dollars back in May 2007.

But the seizure lawsuit alleges that the doctor was a 'straw purchaser' and that Oliva-Castillo is the actual owner and that he paid $400,000 dollars.

The lawsuit shows that Oliva-Castillo's criminal history with the Zetas goes back to 2005 and that drug profits were used to buy the ranch.

Prosecutors allege that Oliva-Castillo's uncle Domingo Castillo has been in charge of taking of the ranch since 2008.

Federal prosecutors allege that the land has been used for drug trafficking activities as well as receiving laundered money.

Oliva-Castillo did not appear to have an attorney to represent him as of Thursday.

No court date has been set for the seizure lawsuit.

Read more...

Sunday, November 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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small-time drug dealer was tortured, killed and his body dismembered into six pieces 'behind closed doors' by a brutal drug gang

small-time drug dealer was tortured, killed and his body dismembered into six pieces 'behind closed doors' by a brutal drug gang, a court heard yesterday. 

Adam Vincent, 33, was shot with air rifle pellets and savagely punched and kicked in the weeks before his gruesome death.  

The gang then scattered his body parts in waterways across Lincolnshire, Sheffield Crown Court was told. 

Adam Vincent's head, right arm and right leg were found in the River Ancholme, near Brigg in June

Discovery: Adam Vincent's head, right arm and right leg were found in the River Ancholme, near Brigg in June, pictured

His severed leg was found sticking out of the water by birdwatchers at Tetney Lock near Cleethorpes on March 3 this year. 

After a police investigation two other parts were recovered and his head, right arm and right leg were found in the River Ancholme, near Brigg in June. 

Prosecutor Tom Bayliss QC said the five-strong gang believed Mr Vincent had stolen £5,000 from them and 'grassed' them up to the police.

The court heard Mr Vincent was a heroin addict and sold 'wraps' for the gang in return for using some of the drug himself.

 

 

At the time of his death he was living with the gang whose headquarters was based in a small bungalow in Scartho, Grimsby. 

Grimsby men Lee Griffiths, 43, his sons Thomas, 22, and Luke, 19, Lee's stepson Mark Jackson, 27, and Matthew Frow, 32, all deny murder between February 26 and March 4. 

They also deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by concealing Mr Vincent's dismembered body between the same dates along with Andrew Lusher, 43, also from Grimsby, who is alleged to have hired the van used to dispose of the body. 

Mr Vincent's severed leg was found sticking out of the water by birdwatchers at Tetney Lock near Cleethorpes, pictured, on March 3 this year

Mr Vincent's severed leg was found sticking out of the water by birdwatchers at Tetney Lock near Cleethorpes, pictured, on March 3 this year

The three Griffiths and Mark Jackson further deny conspiracy to supply heroin between December 1, 2010 to March 7, 2011. 

Frow admits conspiracy to supply the Class A drug. 

Mr Bayliss said Mr Vincent was a close associate of the five men charged with murder. 

He did small-time drug dealing on their behalf and 'it was the gang he was associated with that killed him.' 

Three weeks before Mr Vincent's body was found three of the gang were arrested for drugs offences by police then released.

'Birdwatchers chanced on the leg just hours after it had been dumped'

Officers searched the bungalow, which is owned by Lee Griffiths, and where Mr Vincent had been living. 

Mr Bayliss said Lee Griffiths believed Mr Vincent had given information to the police and had stolen £5,000 and drugs from them. 

The gang began a 'sustained physical assault' on Mr Vincent and the violence continued for a fortnight ultimately leading to his death.

A post mortem showed Mr Vincent died from a blunt force trauma to the head. He had been struck at least three times with a weapon. 

Mr Vincent was last seen alive on February 27 and the following day it is claimed that one of the gang sent a text to his girlfriend which implied Adam Vincent had been killed. 

His body was dismembered after his death and a van, organised by Lusher, was allegedly used to dispose of it. 

The birdwatchers chanced on the leg just hours after it had been dumped.

Prosecutor Tom Bayliss QC told Sheffield Crown Court, pictured, the five-strong gang believed Mr Vincent had stolen £5,000 from them and 'grassed' them up to the police

Prosecutor Tom Bayliss QC told Sheffield Crown Court, pictured, the five-strong gang believed Mr Vincent had stolen £5,000 from them and 'grassed' them up to the police

 

Mr Bayliss said: 'Adam Vincent was killed behind closed doors by this gang. 

'All five of the defendants were participating in a joint enterprise which led to Adam Vincent's death.'

He said it was difficult to identify individual acts of violence but the prosecution claim anyone involved in it is guilty of murder even if they were not present when the fatal blow was delivered.

The court heard three of the gang were arrested for suspected drugs offences and the bungalow was searched. Drug paraphernalia was seized along with an air rifle on February 11.

Pellets matched to the rifle were found in Mr Vincent's body. 

Mr Bayliss said: 'Even before this one of the things that was happening was that Mr Vincent had been shot in the body by this a air rifle.

'It would have caused pain and injury. It was an indication of how he was being treated. 

'Mr Vincent's father Keith visited his son who was in hospital with pneumonia in late January. Mr Vincent told his dad he had had enough of his drug-taking lifestyle.'

'He said: ''I want to get away but they won't let me. I need to sort some issues out first.'

'He later added: 'You don't know these people. I'm trying to get it all sorted.''

Mr Vincent discharged himself against medical advice and was probably killed three weeks later. 

Mr Bayliss said witnesses spoke of how Mr Vincent would tell of being beaten up and how 'they couldn't let him go because he knew too much.' 

When Mr Vincent stole the money from the gang he was given 'a bit of a kicking' and was tied up in the house, it was alleged. 

Another witness said Lee Griffiths was becoming 'paranoid' about heroin going missing from the house and suspected Mr Vincent had been stealing it. 

The court heard that as early as January Mr Vincent was seen with a black eye and Thomas Griffiths was bragging he had shot him. 

A few days before Mr Vincent was killed Thomas Griffiths was seen to punch him in the face in the house and Luke Griffiths kicked him in the side while his father held a knife to Mr Vincent's throat. 

The victim was later seen in pain and by February 26 was described as having a 'shocking' appearance by a witness at a supermarket.

He was walking with a limp and had cuts all over his face.

'His facial expression according to a security guard was one of terror,' said Mr Bayliss. 

The hearing, which is expected to last at least six weeks, continues.




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IT’S prison or death out there. I’ve seen people get stabbed and my friend was shot dead last year... I was lucky it didn’t happen to me

Adulthood

“IT’S prison or death out there. I’ve seen people get stabbed and my friend was shot dead last year... I was lucky it didn’t happen to me.”

These are the chilling words of a 19-year-old Birmingham gang member who once roamed the streets of Lozells, selling drugs and fighting with rivals over territory.

He has since left that dark and dangerous life behind him and is on course to become a PE teacher.

Now he has helped make an award-winning film aimed at warning the next generation of the dangers of gangs.

It is being shown in schools across Birmingham to children the same age he was when he became involved.

Today, the teenager lifts the lid on the closed world of gang culture in our second city.

But even now he cannot be named for fear of retribution from the people he once saw as ‘family’.

“It started when we were at high school,” he told the Sunday Mercury.

“I was part of a group of friends who came together and decided no-one would trouble us if we had any problems. There were probably about 20 of us in Lozells and Aston.

“Back then, it felt more like a family than a gang.

‘‘You do everything with your gang.

“If you go to the city centre or something like the bonfire at Pype Hayes, you wouldn’t go on your own, you’d go with 20 or 30 people so you were safe.

“If we saw other gangs there would be a fight. And that could escalate really easily.

“Luckily, I was never a person to get stabbed but I’ve seen things like that and it’s not nice.

‘‘My friend was also shot and killed last year. He was just in a car; it was a long-term rivalry; they pulled up next to him and shot him.

“In the back of your mind you know you don’t want to be in that environment, but you’re probably safer with your friends than without them.

“If you get caught slipping by going somewhere and another gang sees you, you’re liable, They don’t care whether you’re still in the gang or not.”

Criminal

Yet what started out as friends sticking up for each other quickly changed into criminal behaviour as the teen’s gang began selling drugs to make money.

The wannabe teacher, who was once cautioned for possession of cannabis, added: “The aim was just to survive and to make money to live life.

“Everyone was selling it for someone else and just trying to make a bit for themselves.

“We would sell whatever drugs the buyer wanted really, if people want something you’ll end up trying to sell it.”

And he claimed his young gang members were led further astray by older kids who thrive on street violence.

“Peer pressure plays a big part,” he added.

“There were older figures but we never saw them as leaders. We saw them as older brothers. That’s the influence they had on us.

“There was loads of people our age with nothing to do. We were all young and easily influenced by the older generation.

“They used to say it was ‘robbery season’ where everything you want, you get. If you want a phone, you go and rob a phone.

‘‘It was callous and evil.”

And as the gang got older, the trouble they got into became more serious.

“I think half of our gang ended up in jail,” added the 19-year-old.

“That’s for everything from drugs to violence to robbery.

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Police wrest control of Rio's largest slum

 

Crack police forces were Sunday in full control of Rio's largest favela after launching a dawn assault to eject narco-traffickers who had been ruling the area for 30 years. "I have the pleasure to inform you that Rocinha and Vidigal (a neighbouring favela) are under our control. There were no incidents and no shots were fired. We don't have any information on arrests or weapons seized," Alberto Pinheiro Neto, chief of the military police, told a news conference. "The communities have been our control since (1900 AEDT) and we are withdrawing our armour and, in 45 minutes, we will reopen the streets," which had been closed since 0400 GMT ahead of the operation. Advertisement: Story continues below Built on a steep hillside overlooking the city and located between two wealthy neighbourhoods, Rocinha is home to 120,000 people. The long-anticipated operation in a city that has one of the highest murder rates in the country is part of an official campaign since 2008 to restore security in Rio before the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, which Brazil will host. Backed by navy armour and commandos and with two helicopters flying low overhead, hundreds of special forces police and 200 navy commandos punched their way into Rocinha and Vidigal at dawn. "The arrival of the UPP (a police unit set up to pacify the favelas) will be positive for the new generations to put an end to narco-trafficking. I want my sons to stay away from trafficking," said 51-year-old Carlos Alberto, who was one of the few Rocinha residents willing to speak to the press. But not everyone supported the police operation. A few women were seen crying. All access to the two favelas has been blocked since 2.30am (1102 AEDT). Earlier three vehicles blocked one of the avenues in the upper part of Rocinha. Dozens of policemen in the perimeter asked journalists present in the area to remain behind as they fanned out in the narrow alleys. Streets were deserted, with only a few residents watching from their windows as the troops made their advance. "We hope the pacification will not be just about ejecting the drug traffickers but also to bring sanitation, education, health," said community leader Raimundo Benicio de Souda, 4known as Lima. "There are people living (here) among cockroaches, urinating and defecating in a can," Lima told AFP, adding that for this reason "the pacification must have these people as a priority". William de Oliveira, president of the Favelas People's Movement, wearing a shirt with the inscription "I love Rocinha, said: "We want the people to be treated with dignity, respect, that those who have been involved in crimes be jailed but not assassinated" by police." Authorities estimate that about 200 criminals remained inside Rocinha following last week's capture of local drug kingpin Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, also known as Nem. Nem was caught hidden in the trunk of a car, along with several accomplices and a few corrupt policemen who were protecting them. Nem was a model employee of a telecom company who "stumbled" into organised crime after getting a loan from a former Rocinha drug baron to pay for medical care for one of his daughters. To pay back his debts, he reportedly began dealing drugs and later took over as chief of the gang which controls Rocinha. The capture of Rocinha, the 19th favela to be pacified by police, recalled the huge operation launched by joint police and military forces to seize control of Rio's Alemao favela, home to 400,000 people in November 2010. Alemao was retaken after three days of clashes that left 37 people dead. Since Friday, heavily armed police had been besieging Rocinha, checking all cars going or leaving the area. Endemic and chronic urban violence has long tarnished the image of Rio, where more than 1.5 million people live in 1,000 slums spread throughout the city.

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Raids blunt medical marijuana season

 

Members of the local medical marijuana community gathered Saturday at a Medford venue to celebrate a harvest season like no other. The party was held at The Venue on Narregan Avenue and included live music, information booths and speeches dealing with the raids conducted in October by federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents that have left many medical marijuana providers reeling. "The raids are definitely a topic of conversation," said Lori Duckworth, the executive director of the Southern Oregon chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, or SONORML. Duckworth said eight raids were conducted this season. DEA agents descended on gardens on Table Rock Road, East Gregory Road, Tolo Road and Old Stage Road — pulling hundreds of plants and loading them into dump trucks for disposal.

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Angry Birds” – which is basically a drone that has been specially developed to take down drug-running ultralight airplanes that are utilized by gangs in order to smuggle illegal substances

Everyone with a modern smartphone would definitely have heard of Angry Birds before, and hey, even if mobile gaming is not your cup of tea, surely the name Angry Birds has passed by your mind from time to time during a conversation? Well, the US Border Patrol might get the help of “Angry Birds” – which is basically a drone that has been specially developed to take down drug-running ultralight airplanes that are utilized by gangs in order to smuggle illegal substances at the south of US from Mexico.

The drone will fire a net which entangles the propeller of the ultralight airplane, which in return stops the engine. As for another drone, that is slightly more violent in nature – it will perform a kamikaze crash straight into the ultralight in order to break its propeller. I think the kamikaze version has far more anger issues, and it would require less accuracy than firing a net at a propeller – what do you think? One thing’s for sure – there will not be any green pigs aboard the airborne drug mules…

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Thursday, November 10

John Philip Stirling, 60, is in a Florida jail after U.S. authorities allegedly seized 400 kilograms of cocaine from his vessel

Phil Stirling, shown here in 2000, told U.S. authorities there’s nothing wrong with cocaine trafficking, and said the States should mind its own business.
 

Phil Stirling, shown here in 2000, told U.S. authorities there’s nothing wrong with cocaine trafficking, and said the States should mind its own business.

Photograph by: RIC ERNST, PNG

A self-described drug smuggler who walked away unscathed from two high-profile drug busts in B.C. has landed himself in hot water south of the border.

John Philip Stirling, 60, is in a Florida jail after U.S. authorities allegedly seized 400 kilograms of cocaine from his vessel on Oct. 18.

According to U.S. court documents, Stirling, in an unprompted outburst while being transported to a detention centre, said there was nothing wrong with cocaine trafficking and that the U.S. should mind its own business.

“He further remarked that if Canada didn’t have such high taxes, they could get legitimate jobs,” said the affidavit.

Stirling’s defiant comments did not come as a surprise to retired RCMP Sgt. Pat Convey, who spent years chasing the man.

“That sounds like our man, Mr. Stirling,” said Convey, reached at his Vancouver Island home.

Stirling was a “big, flamboyant, boisterous guy who enjoyed taking chances,” said Convey. “That’s what he was about. He was a drug trafficker. I think he’s been that all his life.”

Stirling — who had admitted to The Province in 2002 that he started smuggling dope when he was 16 — was skippering the Atlantis V when it was spotted on a routine patrol by the U.S. Coast Guard about 400 kilometres north of Colombia on Oct. 17.

When inspectors boarded the ship, they allegedly found 358 packages of drugs — mostly cocaine, but also some heroin and methamphetamines.

Stirling and his crew — fellow Canadians Thomas Arthur Henderson and Randy Wilfred Theriault, Colombian Jose Manuel Calvo Herrera and Italian Luigi Barbaro — were arrested and charged.

According to Barbaro’s statement, the ship departed from Santa Marta, Colombia, and was headed to Australia.

Stirling, who was sentenced to five years in jail in the 1980s on cocaine-related charges, had been arrested twice before in similar circumstances.

In a highly publicized case, Stirling was caught by U.S. authorities off Washington’s Cape Alava in 2001 with 2½ tonnes of cocaine, worth more than $250 million, aboard the Western Wind.

He was turned over to the Canadians. Later, he claimed he was an RCMP informant and that he was transporting the cocaine for the Hells Angels. No charges were laid.

Stirling was again arrested in 2006 after authorities found 155 bales of marijuana aboard a vessel near Vancouver Island. The charges were stayed.

Convey believes Stirling might finally get the reckoning he has eluded in Canada.

“The Americans play a different game from us, and quite frankly, our system leaves a hell of a lot to be desired,” he said.

“If they proceed with the case and they got him with the many hundred kilos [of cocaine], he’s going in for a long time.”




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Friday, November 4

Italy government hangs by thread as coalition crumbles

 

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's fate hung by a thread Friday and desertions from his crumbling centre-right coalition may have already robbed him of the parliamentary numbers he needs to survive. Berlusconi, caught in the crossfire from European powers and a party revolt at home, agreed at a G20 summit in France to IMF monitoring of economic reforms which he has long promised but failed to implement. But this may soon be irrelevant for the Italian leader, who will return to Rome later Friday to face what looks increasingly like a deadly rebellion by his own supporters. With financial markets in turmoil over the situation in Greece and Italy viewed as the next domino to fall in the euro zone crisis, calls are mounting for a new government to carry through reforms convincing enough to regain international confidence. Berlusconi has consistently rejected calls to resign and says the only alternative to him is an early election next spring, rather than the technocrat or national unity government urged by many politicians and commentators. Yields on 10-year Italian bonds reached 6.36 percent by early afternoon, creeping closer to 7 percent, a level which could trigger a so-called "buyers' strike" where investors take fright and refuse to buy the paper. Two deputies from Berlusconi's PDL party this week defected to the centrist UDC, taking his support in the 630-seat lower house of parliament to 314 compared with the 316 he needed to win a confidence vote last month. But at least seven other former loyalists have called for a new government and could vote against the 75-year-old media magnate. "The (ruling) majority seems to be dissolving like a snowman in spring," said respected commentator Stefano Folli in the financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore. Other commentators spoke of an "inexorable" revolt against Berlusconi. Even Defence Ministry undersecretary Guido Crosetto, a Berlusconi loyalist, said on television: "I don't know how many days or weeks the government has left. Certainly a majority relying on a few votes cannot continue for long." PATRONAGE Berlusconi, one of Italy's richest men, still has significant powers of patronage and he and his closest aides are expected to spend the weekend trying to win back support for a parliamentary showdown Tuesday. Some rebels have already threatened to vote against Berlusconi in the vote to sign off on the 2010 budget. Berlusconi faced concerted calls to resign when he lost a previous vote on this routine measure, which was almost unprecedented. Although it is not a confidence motion, he would come under huge pressure if he suffered a second defeat. "Unpopular prescriptions are necessary and this challenge cannot be faced with a 51 percent government," said UDC leader Pier Ferdinando Casini, in a reference to Berlusconi's weakness and a widespread feeling that the reforms can only be passed with a broad consensus. The premier has promised European leaders that he will call a formal confidence motion within 15 days to pass amendments to a budget bill incorporating new measures to stimulate growth and cut Italy's huge debt. That will be in the Senate where he has a more solid majority but it could still bring him down. Berlusconi, beset by a string of sex scandals and court cases, has consistently resisted pressure from groups ranging from a powerful business lobby to the Catholic Church to stand down.

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