Colombian cocaine smuggler gets 15 years

A federal judge in Tampa sentenced a cocaine smuggler on Friday to more than 15 years in prison. U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. sentenced Luis Alberto Urrego-Contreras to 15 years and six months in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. In January 2005, Urrego-Contreras, who was known by the nickname “Bacon,” bought a Beechcraft King Air airplane from a St. Petersburg business. He bought the plane on behalf of Colombian cocaine trafficker Fabio Enrique Ochoa-Vasco, according to the federal court. In June 2005, the plan was for the plane to fly from Venezuela to Colombia to retrieve 2,000 kilograms of cocaine. But when the pilot saw the Colombian Air Force was monitoring the Colombian airstrip, the pilot flew back to Venezuela where the pilot and co-pilot were arrested, according to the federal court. In October 2010, Urrego-Contreras was arrested at the American Embassy in Bogota, Colombia, according to the federal court. He agreed to speak to agents where he identified Ochoa-Vasco in several photographs and others involved in the smuggling conspiracy, according to the federal court. Urrego-Contreras told investigators that he was paid $50,000 to $100,000 for each cocaine load. He admitted to investigators that he was responsible for 1,000 kilograms of cocaine that was flown from Colombia to Mexico and later distributed in the United States by Ochoa-Vasco, according to the federal court.

Police are keeping watch on five drug traffickers trapped on a ship in Málaga

The initially eight drug traffickers were released by the National Court following the reform, carried out by Justice Minister, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón which considered the Spanish Court is not competent to judge a ship seized in international waters.
Fri Jul 25, 2014 - 13:50

Following the Supreme Court’s overturning of the reform of Universal Justice Law it could be the drug traffickers involved could now be prosecuted in the Spanish Court, and for that reason the police are keeping watch.

mayak2.jpg
The Mayak in Málaga Port


The vessel was intercepted last March when 30 nautical miles SE of Málaga. The 63.5 metre long ‘Mayak’ was constructed in 1968 and was flying the Sierra Leona flag. The investigators call this type of ship the mother ship, because they receive and supply drugs to other smaller ships which bring the drugs to the European coast.



When customs boarded the ship, she had been loaded up just an hour before and eight crew were caught red-handed introducing the bales of drug into the bodega.

La Opinion de Málaga reports the arsenal of war weapons found in Málaga was used for their sale and international trafficking.

La Opinion de Málaga reports the arsenal of war weapons found in Málaga was used for their sale and international trafficking. 148 firearms have been impounded, with 55 grenades of different types, more than 160 ammunition cartridges of different calibre, three anti-tank mines, an artillery rocket and a heavy mortar. One of the detained spoke of the arms sale in a book.

Renfe in Costa del Sol hit by lack of drivers

Six lines to Fuengirola and Alora have been cancelled due to a lack of train drivers. The termination will affect almost 1,500 people. The drivers union says that many more drivers are needed to keep the services going. On the other hand, Renfe said that part of the problem is that driver absenteeism has gone up by 10%. The company also added that they were doing their best to ‘urgently resolve the problem to get things back to normal as soon as possible’. However, they gave no guarantee or target date on this. The drivers union believe that Malaga requires at least eight more drivers and that Renfe simply need to employ more. They point out that there are 500 unemployed drivers they could hire tomorrow and that they paid €22,000 to take the training course. They also warned that under these current conditions, problems are set to continue all summer long.

Tramps bikie club loses appeal to get back its guns because of link to Hells Angels Motorcycle Club

MEMBERS of a small-town motorcycle club linked to the Hells Angels have failed in their appeal to retrieve their confiscated guns. A decision was handed down today by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal upholding a decision to cancel four Tramps bikies’ gun licences because of their membership and social associations with other gangs. The verdict comes almost a year after nine current and former members of the Tramps MC fronted the Firearms Appeal Committee, one of which is a mobile butcher, arguing that Victoria Police had no right cancel their licences. Club head Ronald Harding, who took leave to withdraw, butcher Michael Oxenham, Malcolm Dinsdale and David Windsor are now considering appealing the decision to the appeal court of the Victorian Supreme Court. In August 2012, Chief Commissioner Ken Lay made a controversial decision to seize more than 100 registered guns from members of “outlaw’’ bikie gangs across the state. The VCAT appeal, taken on by four Tramps members, was seen as a test case for other “outlaw’ bikie members who also had their gun licences cancelled. The guns were seized under the test to whether the licence holder was a “fit and proper’’ person.

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.”

Tropical storm Isaac was on the verge of becoming a hurricane as it approached the Gulf Coast early Tuesday morning, forecasters warned.

 Its swirling winds and rain will be a major test of the region's new flood control systems seven years after Hurricane Katrina sent walls of water crashing inland.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said at 5 a.m. ET on Tuesday that Isaac was still a tropical storm but was likely to become a hurricane during the day as it gains strength over the Gulf of Mexico.

The center of the storm was located about 125 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and had top sustained winds of 70 mph, the Hurricane Center said. 

Isaac was expected to make landfall over southeastern Louisiana either late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Follow Isaac's path with our storm tracker

It was moving to the northwest at 12 mph and appeared to be taking direct aim at New Orleans, which would be a cruel blow for a city still struggling to recover from Katrina which swept across the city on Aug. 29, 2005, killing more than 1,800 people and causing billions of dollars of damage. 

NOAA via EPA

A satellite image shows Tropical Storm Isaac in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday.

Unprotected, low-lying areas outside New Orleans were evacuated Monday.

From weather.com: Live updates and analysis

"All preparations to protect life and property should be completed tonight," said Ed Rappaport of the National Hurricane Center in his 8 p.m. ET Monday update. He emphasized that water from rain and storm surge would be the biggest threat -- 6 to 18 inches of rain were expected.

Isaac is expected to be the first major test of a $14 billion makeover of the system that failed the city so disastrously in 2005. NBC's Lester Holt reports.

Isaac has killed at least 22 people and caused significant flooding and damage in Haiti and the Dominican Republic before skirting the southern tip of Florida on Sunday.

Storm surge fears
The storm was forecast to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane, the lowest on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity, with top winds of 90 miles per hour.

While that would be well below the intensity of Katrina, a powerful Category 3 storm, the vast size of Isaac's slow-moving system has forecasters predicting widespread flooding. 

"Even if it is a tropical storm at landfall, the large size of it will still generate significant storm surge," Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb told reporters on Monday. "That is life-threatening potentially." 

Residents in coastal communities from Louisiana to Mississippi stocked up on food and water and tried to secure their homes, cars and boats. 

Chris Graythen / Getty Images

New Orleans' Bourbon street remains virtually empty on Monday ahead of Isaac's landfall.

In New Orleans, a bumper-to-bumper stream of vehicles left the city on a highway toward Baton Rouge in search of higher ground. Others prepared, or were forced, to ride the storm out.

South hopes for drought relief from Isaac

"Our flights were canceled so we're going to be here," said Karen Foley, a 23-year-old tourist who had planned to travel home to New Jersey with a friend. "We are just hoping the city doesn't get hit again. It doesn't deserve it," she said.

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.

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".

Invasion of the pickpockets

Britain is in the grip of a pickpocketing epidemic as Eastern European gangs descend on London ahead of the Olympic Games.

A surge in sneak street thefts means more than 1,700 people fall victim every day – an increase of nearly a fifth in only two years, according to official crime  figures released yesterday.

At the same time, police warned that professional gangs from Romania, Lithuania and even South America who operate in capitals across Europe are heading to Britain, intent on cashing in on unwitting tourists at London 2012.

How they do it: A member of the pickpocket gang approaches a BBC reporter investigating the rise in thefts ahead of the Olympics

How they do it: A member of the pickpocket gang approaches a BBC reporter investigating the rise in thefts ahead of the Olympics

Keeping him occupied: The man speaks to the victim on the pretense of needing directions while another gang member approaches from behind

Keeping him occupied: The man speaks to the victim on the pretense of needing directions while another gang member approaches from behind

A BBC investigation exposed the tactics used by Romanian thieves, who were previously operating in Barcelona, to dupe their victims.

The criminals boasted of their ‘one-second’ theft techniques which leave targets unaware that anything has happened until  it is too late. They can make £4,000 a week taking wallets, smartphones and laptop bags. The goods are then shipped back to Romania and sold on the black market.

 Scotland Yard has made more than 80 arrests already and warned thieves the capital will be a ‘hostile environment’ in the coming weeks.

The Met has even drafted in a team of Romanian police officers to deal with the problem and patrol in the West End of London and Westminster during the Games. They will not have arrest powers.

Distracted: An accomplice (left) then plays drunk so he can get close enough to the target to strike

Distracted: An accomplice (left) then plays drunk so he can get close enough to the target to strike

 

Sleight of hand: The 'drunk' man jostles around with the BBC reporter, making it harder for him to notice what is going on

Sleight of hand: The 'drunk' man jostles around with the BBC reporter, making it harder for him to notice what is going on

 

 

Rich pickings: The sneering thief walks away with the wallet from the unsuspecting victim

Rich pickings: The sneering thief walks away with the wallet from the unsuspecting victim

Teamwork: The thief quickly hands the wallet to another member of the gang, who spirits it away

Teamwork: The thief quickly hands the wallet to another member of the gang, who spirits it away

 

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: ‘These Romanian officers will prove to be a huge asset in cracking down on certain criminal networks who are targeting tourists in central London.’

Official statistics released yesterday showed pickpocketing thefts rose 17 per cent in the past two years.

In 2011/12, a total of 625,000 people fell victim, the Crime Survey of England and Wales showed.

That is an increase of more than 102,000 since 2009/10.

The vast majority of the total are classified as ‘stealth thefts’, but in 83,000 cases the victims’ possessions were ‘snatched’.



Jordan Malutshi 'stabbed by gang' in Face Bar

The manager of a nightclub where a teenager was murdered at the weekend believes the killer was part of a gang from out of town. The victim, named as 17-year-old Jordan Malutshi, from Clapham in London, died from a haemorrhage after being stabbed in the heart at The Face Bar in Chatham Street in the early hours of Sunday. Police were called after reports that a man had been injured at around 3.50am and carried out CPR before he was rushed to the Royal Berkshire Hospital where he later died. Jordan’s father Michael, a maths lecturer who had taught in Wandsworth before taking a job in Kazakhstan, was making his way home today to support his wife and is due to arrive in London on Wednesday. A family friend described Jordan as a “Polite and gentle guy” who had become "the big man in his house” helping his mother care for his younger sister and brother. His parents moved to London from the Democratic Republic of Congo before Jordan was born. Sharon Northmore, who runs The Face Bar and was there on the night, told the Reading Post: "There wasn't any fight or trouble during the night and it seemed like it was a planned thing. "I think the guys were from out of town because they just came and did it and went. "It seemed like someone may have had a beef with somebody at some point." The club insisted it operated a strict policy that anyone who looks under the age of 25 is asked for ID and believed the victim may have had a false document or was let in illegally via a fire exit. Mrs Northmore added: "We haven't had any problems for a long time, not compared to other places," "It was not as if anyone could have done anything." But Susan Jones, 60, who lives in a flat nearby in Cherwell Crescent in Trinity Place, said: "It was bedlam out there. I have lived here a long time and there has been a lot of disturbance. "I have been in touch with the manageress about incidents and often called the police, "I feel quite upset that I didn't do anything last night because it might have saved a life." Doug Ferguson, 24, from Chatham Street, said: "I have only lived here a few months and never seen any trouble outside the club, and I feel quite worried now to be honest with you. "Since Gospoda shut down things have been a lot quieter in the evening but I don't think I will be going up to this bar any time soon." The club was packed on the night with BBC 1Extra DJ Young Lion was performing at the venue along with DJ Genty, Pic Crew and Claasic Wonder Ents from 10pm with club due to close 4am. Clubber Sinead Gibson was at Face Bar that night celebrating her 41st birthday with friends. She said: "There were people crying. I don't know whether they knew who it was or whether it was just shock and horror. It could've been anyone, it's just devastating. "I know because of the type of music that people will think it was fully of troublemakers but nothing could have been further from the truth, everyone was having a good time. "There was no sense of any trouble during the night and I am shocked this has happened. It does leave a bad taste in your mouth." Police cordoned off Chatham Street for traffic heading off the IDR between The Butler pub and the roundabout where it joins Bedford Road with vehicles being diverted along Eaton Place. At least three police cars were parked up along with a forensic investigation unit and two other plain forensics vans with officers remaining at the scene throughout the day.

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