U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA):
Friday, January 30, 2015
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) :
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Nogales Commercial Facility seized more than $1.1 million in marijuana — 2,215 pounds — from a male Mexican national on Jan. 29 when he attempted to enter the United States.
A positive alert by a CBP narcotics-detection canine led officers to the discovery of 99 bundles of marijuana co-mingled in a tractor-trailer load of bell peppers. Officers seized the vehicle and drugs. The driver, Jorge Luis Castro-Rivera, 43, was referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.
U.S. Justice Department: "An executive of Japan-based Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd. (K-Line) pleaded guilty today and was sentenced to 18 months in a U.S. prison for his involvement in a conspiracy to fix prices, allocate customers and rig bids of international ocean shipping services for roll-on, roll-off cargo, such as cars and trucks, to and from the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today."
Thursday, January 29, 2015
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California:
Ivan Espinoza Villafana, 25, a Mexican national, pleaded guilty today to possession of a firearm by an illegal alien, cultivation of marijuana, and depredation of public lands and resources, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, on August 19, 2014, law enforcement officers entered a marijuana cultivation site near Ice Springs in the Mendocino National Forest in Glenn County where 732 marijuana plants were growing. Villafana was arrested at the site and had a Smith & Wesson revolver in his possession. Officers also found a rifle in the camp area of the site. Significant natural resource damage was observed at the site. Vegetation and trees had been cut and removed to improve growing conditions for the marijuana plants, water was diverted from a nearby stream to water the plants, and fertilizers and pesticides were found at the site which, based on the terrain, would likely have drained into waterways in the national forest.
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey:
U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): "Liban Haji Mohamed, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Somalia, has been named to the FBI's list of Most Wanted Terrorists, and a reward of up to $50,000 is being offered for information leading to his arrest and conviction. Mohamed is charged with providing material support and resources to al Qaeda and al Shabaab, a Somali-based terrorist organization."
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL):
You can have whatever color car you want in Turkmenistan, as long as it is white.
The government has suspended imports of black, dark blue, and red automobiles, and [is] telling exporters to ship white cars instead, according to a customs official who spoke to RFE/RL's Turkmen Service on condition of anonymity.
Existing cars may also be in line for a whitening treatment. A police officer told RFE/RL that police been ordered not to grant required yearly inspection certificates to those who drive cars with the banned colors, although a second police officer denied this.
Repainting a car costs between $800 and $1,000 in Turkmenistan, while the average monthly income is about $200 a month.
The color white has long been a feature of the carefully constructed personality cult of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. The former dentist has draped his capital Ashgabat in white marble, rides white stallions, and makes appearances dressed in white amid white carpets and white flower arrangements.
He likes white.
But authorities say the president's fondness for white is not necessarily the reason for the new rules — it's that the country's subtropical desert climate wreaks havoc with dark paint, creating an eyesore unbecoming of the autocratic republic.
U.S. Justice Department:
Four additional former Puerto Rico police officers have been sentenced for using their law enforcement affiliation and equipment to commit robbery and extortion, and to sell illegal narcotics and manipulate court records.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico and Special Agent in Charge Carlos Cases of the FBI's San Juan Division made the announcement.
Jose Sanchez-Santiago, Miguel Perez-Rivera and Carlos Laureano-Cruz were each sentenced to 63 months in prison. Luis Suarez-Sanchez was sentenced to 87 months in prison. All four defendants were former officers from the Police of Puerto Rico, and all four pleaded guilty in January 2014 to conspiracy to violate RICO.
The officers admitted to being members of a criminal organization that sought to enrich its members through a pattern of illegal conduct. Over the course of the conspiracy, the officers worked together to conduct traffic stops and enter homes or buildings used by suspected criminals to steal money, property and narcotics. The officers also planted evidence to make false arrests, and then extorted money in exchange for their victims' release from custody. In exchange for bribe payments, the officers gave false testimony, manipulated court records and failed to appear in court when required so that cases would be dismissed. Additionally, the officers sold and distributed wholesale quantities of narcotics.
The officers frequently shared the proceeds they illegally obtained and used their power, authority and official positions as police officers to promote and protect their illegal activity. Among other things, the officers used their police firearms, badges, patrol cars, tools, uniforms and other equipment to commit the crimes, and concealed their illegal activity with fraudulently obtained court documents and falsified police paperwork to make it appear that they were engaged in legitimate police work.
The other 12 defendants charged in this case were sentenced in December 2014.
U.S. Justice Department: "This morning U.S. federal agents in coordination with Colombian law enforcement authorities simultaneously executed arrest warrants in Puerto Rico, Florida and Colombia, dismantling an international drug trafficking and money laundering organization responsible for the importation of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine into the United States and the laundering of millions of dollars in drug proceeds, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico announced today."
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Voice of America:
Italian police arrested more than 160 alleged members of a mafia group and seized millions of dollars in what was considered a major crackdown on organized crime.
Speaking to reporters in Bologna, Italy's anti-mafia chief prosecutor Franco Roberti hailed the operation as an "historic and unprecedented" blow for the group suspected for much of Europe's cocaine trade.
"This is a deeply implanted and very dangerous criminal organization," he said about 'Ndrangheta, an organized crime clan from Calabria in southern Italy. Authorities say the group has become deeply rooted in the business community in the rich northern region of the country.
With wealth in the billions of dollars from cocaine trading, 'Ndrangheta has become the most powerful crime syndicate in Italy, surpassing Sicily's Cosa Nostra and Naples' Camorra.
Last week, Italian police arrested about 30 people in Rome in connection with the group. Dozens of others were detained in and around Milan in November.
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia:
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Michigan:
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America
Nonfiction book by Jill Leovy
A masterly work of literary journalism about a senseless murder, a relentless detective, and the great plague of homicide in America.
On a warm spring evening in South Los Angeles, a young man is shot and killed on a sidewalk minutes away from his home, one of the thousands of black Americans murdered that year. His assailant runs down the street, jumps into an SUV, and vanishes, hoping to join the scores of killers in American cities who are never arrested for their crimes.
But as soon as the case is assigned to Detective John Skaggs, the odds shift.
Here is the kaleidoscopic story of the quintessential, but mostly ignored, American murder — a "ghettoside" killing, one young black man slaying another — and a brilliant and driven cadre of detectives whose creed is to pursue justice for forgotten victims at all costs. Ghettoside is a fast-paced narrative of a devastating crime, an intimate portrait of detectives and a community bonded in tragedy, and a surprising new lens into the great subject of why murder happens in our cities — and how the epidemic of killings might yet be stopped.
U.S. Justice Department: "Sanden Corp., an automotive parts manufacturer based in Gunma, Japan, has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $3.2 million criminal fine for its role in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition for the purchase of compressors used in air conditioning systems sold to Nissan North America Inc. for installation in vehicles manufactured and sold in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today."
Monday, January 26, 2015
U.S. Justice Department:
Sunday, January 25, 2015
Nonfiction book by Jonathan Haslam
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
A revelatory and pathbreaking account of the highly secretive world of the Soviet intelligence services.
A uniquely comprehensive and rich account of the Soviet intelligence services, Jonathan Haslam's Near and Distant Neighbors charts the labyrinthine story of Soviet intelligence from the October Revolution to the end of the Cold War.
Previous histories have focused on the KGB, leaving military intelligence and the special service — which specialized in codes and ciphers — lurking in the shadows. Drawing on previously neglected Russian sources, Haslam reveals how both were in fact crucial to the survival of the Soviet state. This was especially true after Stalin's death in 1953, as the Cold War heated up and dedicated Communist agents the regime had relied upon — Klaus Fuchs, the Rosenbergs, Donald Maclean — were betrayed. In the wake of these failures, Khrushchev and his successors discarded ideological recruitment in favor of blackmail and bribery. The tactical turn was so successful that we can draw only one conclusion: the West ultimately triumphed despite, not because of, the espionage war.
In bringing to light the obscure inhabitants of an undercover intelligence world, Haslam offers a surprising and unprecedented portrayal of Soviet success that is not only fascinating but also essential to understanding Vladimir Putin's power today.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:
Russian dog owners are on high alert.
Internet-based vigilantes have announced a nationwide "dog hunt" starting January 20 to rid Russian cities of stray dogs.
Reports of slain dogs are already flooding in, and family pets are among the victims.
"[They] are being poisoned," says Maria Zuyeva, who heads the Vita animal protection group in Chelyabinsk. "In one case, a pet died without even going outdoors; poison was thrown in through the gate of its home."
Most Russian cities have a large population of stray dogs, which sometimes roam the streets in packs.
Although "dog hunters" say they are acting to protect children from strays, they are also known to target family pets.
In messages circulated on Vkontakte, Russia's largest social networking site, the vigilantes pledged to scatter poison in parks, squares, and playgrounds across Russia.
The warning said their poison of choice this time would be an antituberculosis drug called Isoniazid, which is sold over-the-counter and is lethal to dogs.
Animals can reportedly die from just sniffing the substance, and poisoned dogs are said to suffer agonizing convulsions before passing away.
Activists say pink traces left by the drug have been spotted in a more than a dozen cities from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok.
"They've scattered rat poison and antituberculosis drugs everywhere; there are numerous pinks spots on the ground on playgrounds, around trash cans, and in parks where people walk their dogs," says Zuyeva in Chelyabinsk.
In the Nizhny Novgorod region, witnesses in one town said vigilantes have been firing indiscriminately at all dogs, including family pets wearing collars, with pneumatic weapons loaded with ampoules containing poison.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Arms and the Dudes: How Three Stoners from Miami Beach
Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History
Nonfiction book by Guy Lawson
Publication Date: July 14, 2015
Simon & Schuster:
The page-turning, inside account of how three kids from Florida became big-time weapons traders — and how the U.S. government turned on them.
In January of 2007, three young stoners from Miami Beach won a $300 million [U.S.] Department of Defense contract to supply ammunition to the Afghanistan military. Incredibly, instead of fulfilling the order with high-quality arms, Efraim Diveroli, David Packouz, and Alex Podrizki — the dudes — bought cheap Communist-style surplus ammunition from Balkan gunrunners. The dudes then secretly repackaged millions of rounds of shoddy Chinese ammunition and shipped it to Kabul — until they were caught by Pentagon investigators and the scandal turned up on the front page of the New York Times.
That's the "official" story. The truth is far more explosive. For the first time, journalist Guy Lawson tells the thrilling true tale. It's a trip that goes from a dive apartment in Miami Beach to mountain caves in Albania, the corridors of power in Washington, and the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Lawson's account includes a shady Swiss gunrunner, Russian arms dealers, corrupt Albanian gangsters, and a Pentagon investigation that impeded America's war efforts in Afghanistan. Lawson exposes the mysterious and murky world of global arms dealing, showing how the American military came to use private contractors like Diveroli, Packouz, and Podrizki as middlemen to secure weapons from illegal arms dealers — the same men who sell guns to dictators, warlords, and drug traffickers.
This is a story you were never meant to read.