Follow by Email

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

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.”

Monday, 27 August 2012

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.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

High Court Judges to lose Their bodyguards

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

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Bloods gang member from Paterson gets 89 months in prison

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

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

Leaders of El Salvador’s Mara street gangs said they are ready to start negotiations with the government toward a permanent peace pact following the success of a three-month-old temporary truce that has lowered the Central American country’s murder rate dramatically. The gang leaders said during a ceremony at the Izalco prison to celebrate the first 100 days of the truce that they want the government to offer job programs or some other sort of aid to gang members in exchange. “We want to reach a definitive ceasefire, to end all the criminal acts of the gangs,” said Mara 18 leader Oscar Armando Reyes. “But we have to reach agreements, because we have to survive. There was talk of job plans, but we haven’t gotten any answers, and it is time for the government to listen to us.” Mr. Reyes said the gangs weren’t thinking of ending the temporary truce. “We are issuing a call for us all to sit down and have a dialogue, to reach a definitive accord,” he said. There was no immediate response from the government. Former leftist guerrilla commander Raul Mijango and Roman Catholic Bishop Fabio Colindres mediated a truce between the Mara Salvatrucha and the Mara 18 gangs in March that has helped lower homicide rates. Mr. Mijango said the country’s homicide rate has dropped from about 14 murders a day in March to about five a day in early June. “This effort has saved the lives of more than 850 innocent Salvadorans,” Mr. Mijango said. An estimated 50,000 Salvadorans belong to street gangs that deal drugs, extort businesses and kill rivals. Gang leaders say they want to stop the violence that has given El Salvador one of the highest murder rates in the world, behind neighbouring Honduras. In April, authorities rejected a proposal that El Salvador’s gangs receive the subsidies the government currently spends on public transportation in exchange for gang members stopping extortion of bus drivers.

Indicted gang member arrested

last of 27 alleged gang members indicted in April was arrested Tuesday afternoon by the U.S. Marshals Service. Darius Smith was taken into custody around 3 p.m. after authorities found him on James Street, officials of the service said. The indictment, handed up April 3, alleges that Smith, 29, conspired to sell more than 280 grams of cocaine and heroin. He was to appear Wednesday in U.S. District Court. Smith was allegedly a member of the Uptown, or Gunners, gang. In an April news conference, U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian said the gang used guns to terrorize the neighborhood and its members marked buildings in the Central State Street neighborhood with graffiti to mark their territory. The investigation led to the arrests of 27 alleged gang members listed on the indictment; 23 were arrested

Malvern Crew gang member ordered deported

An accused member of the notorious Malvern Crew street gang has lost a last-ditch bid to stay in Canada and is being deported to his native Jamaica for criminality. Raoul Andre Burton, 28, of Toronto, was one of 65 suspected members of the east-end gang rounded up in May 2004 by Toronto Police in Project Impact. Members of the gang were involved in a rivalry with the Galloway Boyz over turf in 2003 and 2004 that left four people dead. Burton was charged with nine offences and sentenced to eight-months in jail along with a 165-day stint of pre-sentence custody. He pled guilty to participating in a criminal organization, known as the Malvern Crew, and two counts of drug possession and trafficking that made him inadmissable to Canada Officers of the Canada Border Services Agency have been trying for years to deport Burton, who arrived here from Jamaica at age 10 and never obtained citizenship. Lawyers for Burton sought to appeal the deportation order to the Federal Court of Canada, but Judge David Near dismissed the application which means Burton will be sent packing. “Mr. Burton was right in the thick of things, an active member of the Malvern Crew, actively participating in the activities of the organization,” Near said in his June 11 decision. “He may have occupied a rather influential or responsible place in the organization.” Near said Burton’s involvement with the Malvern Crew was “significant.” “He was obviously fully integrated and well-invested into the organization,” Near wrote. “He was also prepared to engage in criminal activities on a significant scale for the benefit of the organization.” Police gang experts said Burton was a loyal Malvern foot-soldier who was a “good money-earner” for the gang. Officers said the gang was involved in the trafficking, importation and distribution of drugs as well as other crimes, including murder.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Reputed gangster’s plea delayed again

A Somerville man authorities say was a leading member of New York’s Colombo crime family tried for the third time to plead guilty Thursday, but a transformer fire forced postponement of the proceeding. Ralph DeLeo, 69, had just admitted conspiring with others to run a drug ring that sold cocaine and marijuana when the hearing came to an abrupt end. The lights went out briefly and fire alarms sounded, forcing the evacuation of the Moakley Federal Courthouse.

LA gangster-turned boxing champ dies at 70

Raul Rojas, a Los Angeles gang member who became a world boxing champion in 1968, has died. He was 70. His daughter, Rebecca, tells the Los Angeles Times ( that Rojas died Sunday of natural causes. Rojas grew up in Watts and East Los Angeles. Two of his brothers went to prison. According to a 1968 Sports Illustrated article, Rojas led a street gang and wound up in juvenile hall after a battle during which a fellow gangster was shot to death next to him. Rojas turned to boxing and in 1968 he defeated Enrique Higgins to win the World Boxing Association featherweight belt. He surrendered it six months later. He ended his career in 1970 with a record of 38-7-2 with 24 knockouts. He later worked as a longshoreman.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Dog 'The Bounty Hunter' Chapman's Show Canceled

Dog "The Bounty Hunter" Chapman will have more time on his hands to catch criminals, because his show on A&E is being canceled ... TMZ has learned. Multiple sources connected with the show tell us ... Dog's people and A&E have been negotiating, but the network has now decided to pull the plug and not do season 9. One source connected with Dog tells us the cancellation is based on "creative differences."  But here's the reality ... saying "creative differences" is like breaking up with a girl and saying, "It's not you, it's me."

Thursday, 10 May 2012

US blacklists sons of Mexico drug lord Joaquin Guzman

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

Monday, 7 May 2012

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

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

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Shooting a 'warning' from rival bikie gang

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

Jury hears grisly details about murder scene

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

Friday, 20 April 2012

Secret Service scandal: Inside Colombian strip club where Obama's agents 'picked up prostitutes'

The Secret Service officials embroiled in a prostitution scandal brought a whopping 20 or 21 women back to their Colombian hotel last week, a Maine senator briefed on the scandal said today. Republican Sen Collins, a ranking member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said in an email to Reuters that she was told by Secret Service boss Mark Sullivan that '11 agents involved. Twenty or 21 women foreign nationals were brought to the hotel, but allegedly Marines were involved with the rest'. She added: 'Director Sullivan is rightly appalled by the agents actions and is pursuing a vigorous internal investigation. He ordered all the agents to return to Washington immediately, and all have been interviewed'. Sen Collins' comments came amid revelations that the now-suspended agents reportedly bragged about working for President Obama while they were out at a Colombian night club last week. While sizing up the crowd of dancers and prostitutes at the Cartagena brothel called the Pley Club in the days leading up to an international summit, they boasted that they 'work for Obama' and were 'here to protect him'. Shortly after downing pricey whiskey, nearly a dozen Secret Service officials left the club with some of the most attractive prostitutes. Anger: President Obama has spoken of his fury at the alleged antics of his Secret Service agents Seedy: The PleyClub, in Cartagena, Colombia, where Obama's Secret Service agents allegedly picked up prostitutes ABC News reports that the men, some of whom are married, bought some of the most expensive services from the 'highest category' prostitutes who charge $200 or more. Two of the 11 men who were sent home following the incident held supervisory positions in the service, while three were members of the elite Counter-Assault Team which provides the first line of defence in the case of an attack on the President. It has also been revealed that the men had copies of Barack Obama's schedule for his trip to the Summit of the Americas in their hotel rooms, raising the possibility of a security breach. 'Embarassed': Leon Panetta, left, and General Martin Dempsey, right, have promised to investigate the military's role in the scandal All 11 men have had their security clearance revoked and been banned from Secret Service buildings while an investigation into their conduct is carried out. The scandal has also involved more than 10 members of the military, it emerged today as the U.S.'s top soldier said he was 'embarrassed' on behalf of the Armed Forces for 'letting the boss down'. The incident, which saw police called to the agents' luxury hotel after one of the men apparently refused to pay a prostitute with whom he had spent the night, overshadowed the major summit which took place in the Colombian town of Cartagena over the weekend. Performance space: Cheap tables and seats are packed around a stage, which is completed with two dancing poles Provocative: The PleyClub website promises to turn your fantasies into reality While none of those implicated in the scandal have been identified, NBC News reported on Monday that three of the men were from the Counter-Assault Team. This unit is usually assigned to the President's motorcade, and its members are expected to fend off attacks to allow the Commander in Chief to make a swift escape.

Montgomery Bloods convicted in violent crime conspiracy

United States Attorney George L. Beck, Jr. announced today that five individuals that were either members of or associated themselves with the Bloods street gang in Montgomery, Alabama have been convicted for their involvement in a series of violent crimes that occurred in 2009.  Reco Mareese Daniels, age 30, Courtney Djaris Wilson, age 28, Willie George Tallie, age 26, Anthony Darrell Tallie, age 32, and Damien Michael Pierce, age 27, were indicted in August of 2011 by a federal grand jury on conspiracy, carjacking, robbery, and firearms charges related to a series of violent crimes committed in Prattville, Pike Road, and Montgomery over a four-month period in 2009. After the return of the Indictment, Anthony Darrell Tallie and Willie George Tallie entered pleas of guilty to the crimes with which they were charged.  Anthony Tallie pled guilty to attempted carjacking and brandishing a firearm during the course of that crime.  Willie Tallie pled guilty to robbing a convenience store at gunpoint and brandishing a firearm during the robbery.  Last Friday, a jury returned guilty verdicts against Daniels, Wilson and Pierce after a week-long trial in federal court in Montgomery. The jury found Daniels, Wilson, and Pierce guilty of conspiring to use and carry firearms during multiple violent crimes.  The jury found Daniels and Wilson guilty of an attempted carjacking that occurred in Prattville, a home invasion and carjacking in Pike Road, and the robbery of a convenience store in Montgomery.  Pierce was convicted of participating in the Pike Road home invasion and carjacking with Daniels and Wilson.  Daniels, Wilson, and Pierce were also each found guilty of discharging a firearm during that offense.

Reputed gang leader found not guilty of murder in second trial; lesser convictions mean prison time

Before yesterday’s verdict was read in the murder trial of Darnell Reeves, a reputed Bloods street gang member on trial for the second time in the killing of a Jersey City father of four, Hudson Superior Court Judge Lisa Rose warned that anyone who could not control their emotions when the verdict was read would be escorted out the courtroom. Security was tight. About 50 people packed the Jersey City courtroom, including friends and family members of Reeves and friends and family members of Henry Molesky, who was shot once in the head on Clinton Street near West Side Avenue on Dec. 12, 2008 and died two days later at Jersey City Medical Center. Seven months after his first trial ended in a hung jury, Reeves dipped his head when the forewoman announced the jury had found him not guilty of murder. As Reeves, 26, was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs, he smiled and said a few words to some family members seated in courtroom. Although Reeves beat the murder rap for a second time, the jury found him guilty of lesser offenses, convictions the prosecutor said yesterday could bring him at least 10 years behind bars. Several family members and friends quickly walked out after the verdict was read. A member of the Molesky family, who refused to provide her name, blamed the jurors for not being more attentive. “They didn’t understand that circumstantial evidence is just as important as regular evidence,” she said. “They were bored and couldn’t bother to listen.” Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio, who was in the courtroom, called the case “difficult. The family is disappointed and rightfully so, but at least he won’t be going home for a substantial period of time. It’s been an ordeal for the family.” Reeves’ uncle Alvin Reeves, 50, said he never doubted his nephew’s innocence. “I believe he should be coming home soon. He has been locked up for a long time for something he didn’t commit,” Alvin Reeves said. “I thought from the beginning they had the wrong guy . . . I feel it (the verdict) was fair, but I still feel for the family because he (the real killer) is still out there.” The jury found Reeves guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a handgun for unlawful purposes, possession of a community gun, and of possession of a weapon by a person not to have a gun because of a prior criminal conviction. Reeves faces up to 10 years on each charge with five years before he is eligible for parole. But based on prior convictions, DeFazio said, he will file a motion with a judge requesting an extended sentence.

One of the 17 boys, all of whom were affiliated with a street gang called “The Bloods,” pulled out a pistol, and returned fire.

It was 4:30 p.m. Quincy Guinyard and 17 of his friends were shooting dice at the Frazier Court Housing Projects in South Dallas. Shouts of excitement rang out from the pack of young males. Then, out of nowhere, in broad daylight, five men with AK47s came from around a corner and began opening fire on them.

“The ground was popping up,” Guinyard said. “The bullets were splatting off the bricks. Like thwap, thwap.”

One of the 17 boys, all of whom were affiliated with a street gang called “The Bloods,” pulled out a pistol, and returned fire. The unknown shooters dropped their weapons and ran.

Guinyard and his friends weren’t hit. But someone else had been.  “That baby…that baby was shot,” he said.

The baby, who’d been in front of a window in a near by building, was hit in the finger during the hail of bullets. This incident, in 1996, made Guinyard question his life in a gang. And yet, more trouble lay ahead for him: He shot and killed a man over a non-gang related dispute. Since he was a juvenile at the time, he did not serve a prison sentence.

Since then, Guinyard’s life has taken a positive turn. He said he found Christ, and today he works in the community alongside the Dallas police and school officials to raise awareness in the community on the dangers of gangs.

In the past, Dallas Police officers could enforce the law on gang members. But nothing was being done to prevent kids like Guinyard from getting pulled into the mayhem in the first place.

Then in 2004, the Dallas Independent School District saw the powerful influence of street gangs on its campuses. During that school year, the Gang Prevention/Intervention Program was created to increase gang awareness and provide educators and parents of DISD with knowledge on the affects of gangs. The program now has three gang specialists that concentrate on gang prevention, intervention and intelligence.

Today, by utilizing current technology, the program has reached a new level of sophistication.

“We’ve become more intelligence driven. We’ve become more strategic where we go. We have to go to where we feel the issues really are at,” Rene Ronquillo, the Program’s director of operations, said. “We keep all of our stats, how many kids we come into contact with, how many parents we come into contact with. We have all this data we now can look at.”

That data allows the gang specialists to begin filling the gap the past left open: By zeroing in on the levels of prevention and intervention, particularly at the 5th and 6th grade levels, they can detect and act upon at-risk behavior in kids before it’s too late.

“We feel what we have here is a pretty unique program that a lot of people don’t know about,” Ronquillo said. “It’s kind of like we’re a one-man army, and we’re on a mission.”

One way of utilizing the data is through Geographic Information System technology, called GIS Mapping, which allows the gang specialists to “look at all the different trends,” Ronquillo said.

GIS Mapping also enables gang specialists like Michael Dovick to keep tabs on where gangs convene, where the gang hotspots are, and where gang members live.
“It’s a visual representation of the incidents,” he said.

Link Analysis is another piece of technology the gang specialists use to identify the relationship between gangs and their members as they transfer between schools and grade levels.

In 2009 Dovick implemented a Graffiti database into the program. Before that point, there wasn’t a system of identifying what the graffiti strewn across Dallas meant, much less the group it came from. Dovick carried out the task of photographing, identifying, sorting and labeling the graffiti. Today, the gang specialists can access over 1,600 pictures of gang graffiti through a searchable computer database, which can also assist other agencies dealing with graffiti problems.

Social media is also playing a role in spotting gang activity.  “For me it’s been monitoring Facebook chatter for an indication of gang membership,” Melissa Manning, another gang specialist, said.

While the use of current technologies helps paint a more visible picture of gang problems for the specialists, they aren’t a means of preventing those problems in the first place.

To do so is to get down to the levels of prevention and intervention, which is a key element of the program’s model. One important aspect about intervention, according to Manning, is that “everything’s dependent upon the particular child.”

“We use our discretion on each student. We make a determination after speaking to them,” she said.

“And that’s why we need partners,” Ronquillo added.

Two of those partners are the Dallas Tattoo Removal Clinic and Fade Fast, both free services which remove gang tattoos from a student’s face or hands if they are 17 years or younger.

Another important partner is the Dallas Police Athletic League. If a child’s problem is fighting, for example, the specialists make referrals to PAL, which offers after school sports programs.

Charlotte McWilliams, another gang specialist, recently dealt with a female middle school student that loved fighting. She referred her to the PAL boxing program, which turned her life around. She said the student now aspires to be a dancer.

“I think it’s a very positive relationship because its another alternative for kids as opposed to incarceration or anything that deals with the judicial system,” said Sgt. Sheldon Smith, executive director of the League. “I get phone calls all the time from parents wanting to get the kids involved in our program.”

Gang symbols that can indicate gang affiliation, courtesy of DISD Gang Specialists brochure

Today Guinyard, now 34, assists in weekly gang intervention and intelligence meetings in a joint effort between DISDs gang specialists, the DPD gang unit and other supporting agencies like the one Guinyard represents, Frazier Court Initiatives.

Guinyard travels to elementary and middle schools where he speaks to students about his story, the dangers of gang life, and how to ultimately avoid it. He also has a U.S. patent for what is called a DOOGUARD, which is a stylish form of a do-rag, and has made a business out of selling them.

McWilliams, who was Guniyard’s first probation officer back in 1996, said he’s gone “door to door, knocking on doors, encouraging parents to get involved” in order to bring his vision of an afterschool program and summer camp for Dallas kids to life.

He “made a heck of a difference,” she said.

But there’s always more work to be done: McWilliams said she recently helped a student who wanted to get out of a gang, but to do so would require him to be “jumped out,” which means that a number of his fellow gang members had to beat him up for a specified amount of time. She said the student was successfully “jumped out.”

Shortly after, though, he rejoined the gang, because those were the only true friends he thought he had.

“Sometimes it happens that way,” McWilliams said. “These kids look around and see themselves all alone.”

Arlington gangster gets 50 years for murder over $40 Facebook bet

On Feb. 6, 2011, the Steelers lost Super Bowl XLV to the Packers 31-25. Five weeks later, Jarami Thomas paid for it with his life. The 20-year-old placed a $40 bet on the game over Facebook, according to the Tarrant County District Attorney's, and lost it to a member of an Arlington street gang called Lynch Mob. Another member of that gang, 19-year-old Clevin Earl Brown Jr., was sentenced today to 50 years in prison for shooting Thomas to death in front of an Arlington convenience store, the DA's office said in a release. Brown was one of several Lynch Mob members who ambushed Thomas and his friends in the 3200 block of Green Oaks Boulevard in the early hours of March 14, 2011, the release states. He had been lured there with the promise that he could settle his debt by fighting the man he lost the bet to. Instead, the gangsters blocked Thomas' car in, dragged him from it, and stood by as Brown shot him in the arm and chest. He died shortly after his friends drove him to a hospital. The man who actually made the bet with Thomas, 18-year-old Edward Washington, is still in jail -- awaiting trial on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity and murder. A jury found Brown guilty of those same charges last week, and deliberated less than five hours on Monday before sentencing him. Allowed to address Brown afterwards, Thomas' mother reportedly waved two $20 bills at him and screamed: "Is this all my son was worth to you?"

I beat up seven prostitutes when I was high on cocaine, morphine and cognac': Mike Tyson reveals his lowest moment

Once known as the ‘baddest man on the planet’, his life has taken more than a few dark twists and turns.

But now Mike Tyson has for the first time revealed his lowest point ever in a searingly candid interview.

The former heavyweight champion said that back in 2009 he was in a hotel room with seven prostitutes, a morphine drip in his arm, a pile of cocaine and a bottle of cognac when he began to feel paranoid.


Candid: The former world champion gave his most honest interview yet - revealing the drug-fuelled night that made him turn his life around and get clean and sober

Convinced the women were trying to steal from him he started beating them up and threw them out - to stop them from 'taking his soul'.




Tyson said: ‘That’s when I realised it wasn’t just demons - it was the devil himself.

‘It was the lowest point of a very low life, but it was my own knockout punch to clean up life, get whole, get well - and I haven’t done anything in three years now. 

‘I’m clean. I’m sober.’

Tyson’s recently swapped the boxing ring for the cabaret stage in a six night comedy show at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas, where some of his biggest fights took place.


World Champion: Mike Tyson lands the knockout punch to the jaw of challenger Larry Holmes during fourth round of the World Heavyweight Championship in Atlantic City 1988


In an interview with Las Vegas Weekly to promote the show, he was asked to talk about the moment he realised he had to turn his life around.

Tyson, 45 said: ‘Laying in bed in a hotel room - I try never to be alone, even if it’s a prostitute, a dog. 

‘This is really dark. I am in my hotel suite, I’ve got seven women there, and I have a morphine drip, and I had my cocaine, and I had my (Viagra like pill) Cialis, I had my marijuana, I had the Hennessy, and I am at my lowest point because I got paranoid and I thought these women were trying to rob me and set me up. 

‘I started beating them. I was in a dark place. There was a purpose, though, because I didn’t want to give them any more of my soul.

‘So this is my devil, this is where I am, I am locked up alone. There is nobody there telling me that I’m doing too much. 


Troubled: Tyson's first marriage to actress Robin Givens fell apart amid allegations of him being violent - he is now married for the third time



Mug shot: In 1992 Tyson was jailed for raping Desiree Washington - a beauty pageant contestant - he was released from prison after three years

‘That is the devil, he won. I kicked them all out. So that was my lowest point. Oh, man. I am just very grateful to be here - my heart should have blown apart. I was sweating wide awake. No more cocaine. No more. Three years clean.’

In his turbulent life Tyson has been married three times, fathered eight children and became the youngest heavyweight champion the world has ever seen at just 20.

But fame ruined him and his troubled upbringing - his mother was a prostitute and he never knew his pimp father - came back to haunt him.

In the interview he claimed to have earned $300million in winnings but admitted that he was so bad with money he was ‘forced to live paycheck to paycheck’.

In 1992, three years after his first marriage to actress Robin Givens fell apart, he was jailed for six years for raping Desiree Washington, a contestant in the Miss Black America pageant.

Released having served three years, he fought Evander Holyfield in the fight that became one of the most notorious bouts in boxing history when he bit part of his opponent’s ear off.

Reflecting on his life Tyson told Las Vegas Weekly that he was now the happiest he has ever been, and is just trying to be a good husband to his third wife, and a good father to his children.

Tyson said: ‘In order to wear the crown, you have to have a miserable life, and that is the one that inherits the crown. 

‘I don’t know, you have to go from the worst to reach the best. I’m just that extreme type of person. That is who I am, the guy that has no limits.’



Saturday, 14 April 2012

27-year-old former leader of the Stamford chapter of the Latin Kings gang was sentenced Friday to more than four years in federal prison


27-year-old former leader of the Stamford chapter of the Latin Kings gang was sentenced Friday to more than four years in federal prison for conspiring to sell firearms, U.S. Attorney David B. Fein announced in a news release. Santos Zambrana, of Montauk Drive, will serve 57 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release, according to the sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge Ellen Bree Burns in New Haven federal court. As a condition of his release, Burns ordered Zambrana to not have any contact with gangs. Zambrana, also known as "Inca" and "Pres," was arrested last May and has since been detained at the Wyatt Correctional Center in Rhode Island. On Jan. 6, Zambrana pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to willfully engage in dealing firearms without a license. He faced a maximum of five years in prison. Identified as the former president of the Stamford-based gang, Zambrana's residence was searched as part of a major crackdown on the area Latin Kings. Local and federal police carried out several raids in Stamford and Norwalk at the conclusion of a long-term investigation into drug and firearms trafficking by the gang in southwestern Connecticut. Police said they recovered a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, marijuana, bags used to package drugs for sale, a digital scale, money and Latin Kings paraphernalia, including the book "My Bloody Life -- The Making of a Latin King," inside his house. According to court documents, Zambrana sold, through co-defendent Patrick Uzar, a rifle with five 50-round magazines and one 100-round magazine to a person working with law enforcement. He was also caught on a court-authorized wiretap planning another firearm sale with Uzar. Uzar, of Lafayette Street, Stamford, pleaded guilty on Jan. 26 to one count of possession with intent to distribute and the distribution of cocaine, and one count of possession and transfer of a machine gun. Uzar, 25, will be sentenced April 16 and is facing a maximum prison term of 30 years. Seventeen others were arrested in the raid, and all have pleaded guilty to federal offenses. More than 100 firearms, including machine guns, were purchased during the investigation into the Latin Kings.

Zetas and MS-13 Join Forces


Shipped back to the Central American countries of their birth from the streets and prisons of southern California in the 1990s, the tattooed and scarred members of the Mara Salvatrucha street gang quickly grew into a powerful and deadly force throughout the region.  Now, Guatemalan authorities say, they have begun to see new and disturbing evidence of an alliance between the Maras and another of the most feared criminal organizations in Latin America — a deal with the potential to further undermine that U.S.-backed effort to fight violent crime and narcotics trafficking in the region. Secret jailhouse recordings and a turncoat kidnapper have described a pact between leaders of the Maras and the Zetas, the brutal Mexican paramilitary drug cartel that has seized control of large parts of rural northern Guatemala in its campaign for mastery of drug-trafficking routes from South America to the United States. In recent months, authorities say, they have begun to see the first signs that the Zetas are providing paramilitary training and equipment to the Maras in exchange for intelligence and crimes meant to divert law-enforcement resources and attention. 'Narco Tank' and Armored Vehicles Added to Cartel Arsenal The Zetas, formed more than a decade ago by defectors from Mexico's army special forces, have already joined forces with local drug kingpins in the Guatemalan countryside, and recruited turncoat members of Guatemala's military special forces for operations in Mexico and Guatemala, officials in the two neighboring countries have said. There is some evidence that other Mexican cartels have paid Central American street gangs to sell drugs for them. And Salvadoran authorities said they are aware of informal links between the Zetas and local cliques of the Mara Salvatrucha paid to sell individual shipments of drugs, but officials have seen no proof of any formal deal between the gangs. But a formal, durable alliance with the Maras could bring the Zetas thousands of new foot soldiers, extending the cartel's reach into the cities of Guatemala, and, potentially, other countries in Central America where the Maras maintain a grip on urban slums. Guatemalan authorities told The Associated Press that they believe the Zetas have trained a small group of Maras in at least one camp inside Mexico. Zeta members have spoken of recruiting 5,000 more, although the extent to which they have succeeded remains unclear, officials said. Surreptitious recordings of jailhouse conversations between Zeta and Mara leaders contain mentions of a deal between the two groups, according to a high-ranking investigator who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive and dangerous nature of the information. Eduardo Velasco, head of an Interior Ministry task force on organized crime, told the AP that authorities believed the Maras' training by the Zetas had manifested itself in the increasing brutality, planning, organization and firepower of Maras' operations in Guatemala. Previously armed mainly with handguns, Maras, recognizable by intimidating, dark tattoos that cover swaths of their bodies and often their faces, have begun carrying AR-15, M-16 and AK-47 assault rifles and military fragmentation grenades. In the city of Villanueva in January, a group of Maras armed with assault rifles burst into a suburban disco and opened fire on a meeting of rivals, killing five people. Maras have also begun chopping off the fingers of kidnapping victims to pressure their families into sending ransoms, a technique previously seen in Mexico, Velasco said. "As a result of this union with the Zetas, the Mara Salvatrucha have more ability to organize, strategize and maneuver," Velasco said. "The Mara Salvatrucha want to build up their inventory of long-range weapons, grenades and drugs for their own use and for sale ... they know the economic benefit is great for them and that the Zetas, as an outside group, need the Maras' network in order to grow inside Guatemala." The Zetas have not tried to recruit the Salvatruchas' rival MS-18 gang, also a group whose name and organization originate in the slums of Los Angeles, because it is not as powerful or sophisticated, Velasco said. The Zetas' ultimate goal, according to analysts, Guatemalan authorities and international officials, is to integrate the Maras into their network and become the most powerful group in Guatemala — criminal or legitimate. "The Zetas are a paramilitary organization that wants to control all the legitimate, illegitimate and criminal activities in Guatemala," said Antonio Mazzitelli, regional head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Organized Crime. Miguel Angel Galvez, a judge who hears narcotics and organized crime cases, said the Mara-Zeta alliance was increasingly evident in the cases he hears, and had been documented in notebooks found on arrested Zetas that detailed payments to Mara members. "The Zetas come to a group like the Maras and grab total control," he said. Authorities first learned of the alliance after arresting 50 suspected Zeta members linked to a May 14 massacre on a cattle farm in Petén province that left 27 people dead, 25 of them decapitated, another law-enforcement official said on condition of anonymity for reasons of personal safety. The suspects were incarcerated alongside Maras, and their secretly recorded conversations contained the first mention of an alliance, the official said.

Foreign Gangs Use Nicaragua as Hideout


Authorities in Nicaragua have reported "isolated cases" of foreign gang members in the country, illustrating the growing prominence of street gangs throughout Central America. Nicaragua's national police spokesperson, Fernando Borge (pictured), told news service ACAN-EFE that police had detected foreign gang members along its northern border with Honduras, and that authorities had either deported them or begun to deport them. The spokesperson said Nicaragua is prepared to detect any further incursion of foreign gang members. Borge said the spread of foreign gang members across the region was "a threat," but added that "the important thing is to always maintain collaboration between all the police institutions." Security analyst Roberto Orozco told ACAN-EFE that the foreign gang members cross into Nicaragua through its northern border with Honduras, and that they use the country as a temporary hideout rather than a base of operations. InSight Crime Analysis So far, Nicaragua has been spared much of the violence that has shaken the region. In 2010, the country had a murder rate of 14 per 100,000 people, compared with at least 40 for each of the Northern Triangle countries. Neighboring Honduras had a rate of 86 per 100,000, making it the most violent country in the world. A variety of factors may explain this disparity. Nicaragua's socialist legacy means police have closer ties to their communities. In the past, Nicaraguan emigrants moved to Costa Rica and Miami over Los Angeles, with its pervasive gang culture. This meant fewer criminals were deported back home to start their own local cells, as happened with the MS-13 and Barrio 18 gangs in El Salvador. However, the region's relative insecurity may also be due to the influence of the Mexican Zetas, who have steadily moved south through the region, consolidating their presence through partnerships with local youth gangs. Nicaragua may be the next step. Aminta Granera, Nicaragua's head of police, has already warned that gangs from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador may move south into Nicaragua. The incursion of foreign gangs to use Nicaragua as a hideout could be a sign that this process has begun.

Gloucester gang member jailed

WANNABE gangster rapper has been jailed after breaching a ban on gang activities three times in six months. Ashley Nicholls-Perry, 20, of Parliament Street in Stroud, was sentenced to six months jail at Bristol Crown Court after the third breach – being found with cannabis. ​ THIRD BREACH: Ashley Nicholls-Perry. In October, Nicholls-Perry, originally from Gloucester, was one of two men to have a 12-month injunction placed on him – meaning he was barred from gang activity. That included being banned from entering Barton, Tredworth and Barnwood, associating with other gang members, being in a group of three or more people, wearing clothes that obscured his face and the possession and supply of drugs. But the court heard he had already breached the injunction twice – and been given a suspended prison sentence – for possession of drugs and promoting gang activity on a social media website. Gloucester Chief Inspector Richard Burge: "This shows people that anyone causing problems like this is going to be dealt with and won't get away with it. "While the gang problem wasn't on the scale of the bigger cities it was something some members of our community were badly affected by and we had to act on. "What we have done to date has led to a vast improvement in the level of violence and intimidation in Gloucester and the gangs we were dealing with twelve months ago no longer wield the power they did. "We're not complacent about the situation and the team continues to monitor the possibility of new gangs emerging." Nicholls-Perry, a former music student at Stroud College, had the injunction imposed on him by Gloucester City Council, in partnership with Gloucestershire Police and Gloucester City Homes. Martin Shields, director of services and neighbourhoods for the council, which helped bring about the injunction, said: "This sentence demonstrates the commitment that all of the partners involved have given to dealing with the problems of anti-social behaviour in the city, making it a great place to live, work and visit. The message is very clear. Behaviour of this nature won't be tolerated."

Emotions run high as man sentenced to 26 1/2 years for gang-related killing

Hard feelings spilled out of the courtroom Friday in the case of a fatal 2010 shooting that exposed limits on the "don’t snitch" mentality that permeates Yakima’s street gangs. Tomas Villegas, 27, was sentenced to 261⁄2 years in prison by Yakima County Superior Court Judge Michael McCarthy, who bluntly told the defendant "You’ve thrown your life away." "It’s insane. It’s absolutely insane," he went on to say to Villegas, referring to the gang culture. "Not sure what the solution is, but part of it is your incarceration." The sentence was part of a plea bargain that Villegas reached mid-trial last month for his role in the slaying of David Duarte. Duarte, 39, died from a gunshot wound to the head as he was riding in a car with his 15-year-old nephew, a gang member whom police say was the real target of the attack. The plea bargain and guilty plea abruptly ended Villegas’ jury trial in early March when another defendant reached a deal with prosecutors in exchange for testifying against Villegas. That testimony was critical, as it undercut Villegas’ claims that he was not involved in the shooting and that he had alibi witnesses to prove it. Prosecutors said the shooting was the culmination of bad blood between two Norteño gangs — North Side Villains (NSV) and La Raza — stemming from the murder of La Raza member Leonardo A. Perez in 2009. Villegas, despite belonging to a Sureño gang called the Pot Head Society, was friends with Perez and intent on retaliating against NSV enemies, prosecutors alleged. That chance occurred just before midnight on March 5, 2010, when Duarte and his nephew, NSV member Cristino Tejada, stopped to buy snacks at the am/pm gas station on the corner of South 16th and Washington avenues. Tejada told police he encountered rival gang members at the gas station and that someone in a white Cadillac opened fire on his car as they drove down 16th Avenue. The prosecution’s largely circumstantial case against Villegas got a huge boost when the alleged driver of the Cadillac and a third occupant agreed to turn state’s evidence during the trial. Both sides agreed Duarte was not a gang member, a fact the judge referenced Friday. "The victim in this case ... was only getting beer," McCarthy said, adding, "He was just in the wrong car at the wrong time at the wrong place." The hearing got off to an unsteady start after McCarthy ejected several young men in the back row of the packed courtroom for allegedly throwing gang signs. Then, friends and relatives on both sides clashed repeatedly on their way out of the courtroom in the basement of the Yakima County jail. Amid a heavy show of force, it took more than 20 minutes for jail personnel, with assistance from Yakima police, to clear the building and parking lot of the two groups. No arrests were made. Several court officials said it was the worst display of hard feelings and brazen gang behavior in a courtroom setting they had seen in years.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

BRIT Government 'planning new Internet snooping laws'

The British government wants to expand its powers to monitor email exchanges and website visits, The Sunday Times reported. Internet companies would be instructed to install hardware to allow the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to go through "on demand" every text message and email sent, websites accessed and phone calls made "in real time, the paper said. The plans are expected to be unveiled next month. The Home Office said ministers were preparing to legislate "as soon as parliamentary time allows" but said the data to be monitored would not include content. "It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public," a spokesman said. "We need to take action to maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes. "Communications data includes time, duration and dialling numbers of a phone call, or an email address. "It does not include the content of any phone call or email and it is not the intention of government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications." An attempt to bring in similar measures was abandoned by the Labour government in 2006 amid strong opposition. However, ministers in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government believe it is essential that the police and security services have access to such communications data in order to tackle terrorism and protect the public. The plans would not allow GCHQ to access the content of communications without a warrant. However, they would enable the agency to trace whom a group or individual had contacted, how often and for how long, the report said.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Eight people from 'Holy Death' cult arrested in Mexico over ritual sacrifices of woman and two 10-year-old boys

Eight people have been arrested in northern Mexico have over the killing of two 10-year-old boys and a woman in what appears to be ritual sacrifices. Prosecutors in Sonora, in the north-west of the country have accused the suspects of belonging to the La Santa Muerte (Holy Death) cult. The victims' blood has been poured round an altar to the idol, which is portrayed as a skeleton holding a scythe and clothed in flowing robes. The cult, which celebrates death, has been growing rapidly in Mexico in the last 20 years, and now has up to two million followers. Jose Larrinaga, spokesman for Sonora state prosecutors, said the most recent killing was earlier this month, while the other two were committed in 2009 and 2010. Their bodies were found at the altar site in the small mining community of Nacozari, 70 miles south of Douglas, Arizona. Investigations were launched after the family of 10-year-old Jesus Octavio Martinez Yanez reported him missing early this month.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Shawn Tyson guilty of murdering two Britons in Florida


An American teenager has been found guilty of the first degree murder of two British tourists in Florida. James Cooper, 25, from Warwickshire, and James Kouzaris, 24, from Northampton, were shot dead on a public housing estate in Newtown, Sarasota. The pair, who met at Sheffield University, were killed after drunkenly wandering into the estate in the early hours of 16 April 2011. The court heard Shawn Tyson, 17, killed them after trying to rob them. Tyson, who was tried as an adult despite being 16 at the time of the shooting, faces life in prison with no chance of parole. 'Shattered soul' The families of Mr Cooper and Mr Kouzaris were not in court but said in a statement they were satisfied with the verdict. They added: "It is a fact that we were given a life sentence when our sons were so brutally and needlessly taken from us. "Ours is a life sentence, with no chance of parole from a broken heart, and a shattered soul." Mr Kouzaris and Mr Cooper had been out drinking in downtown Sarasota before they were shot The families also criticised the Sarasota court system that freed Tyson after a judge warned he was a danger to the public. Hours before he shot the two Britons, Tyson was arrested for a separate shooting incident in which no-one was hurt. In the statement the families said: "The evil of the killer is one thing, but the fact is, he would not have been on the streets had instructions to keep him incarcerated been passed from one judge to another." Killer's boast When the mistake came to light the Mayor of Sarasota, Kelly Kirschener, vowed the city's prosecutors would never let anything similar happen again. During the trial jurors heard how Mr Kouzaris and Mr Cooper had been out drinking in downtown Sarasota before getting lost and wandering into the Newtown area in the early hours. The prosecution said they were confronted by Tyson who tried to rob them and then shot them when he realised they had very little money. The court heard Tyson had boasted to his friend Latrece Washington, who testified against him, that one of the men had begged for his life but he shot him anyway.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

New Black Panther leader arrested as group sets bounty in Florida shooting


high-ranking member of the New Black Panther Party was arrested for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office said Monday. DeKalb County Sheriff's Office Hashim Nzinga, 49, was arrested for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. More Atlanta area news » Immigration-related complaint may become ‘moot' 'Chicken Man' house explodes Trayvon Martin rally at Capitol draws many Gang member guilty of 2011 killing Hashim Nzinga, 49, recently announced on CNN that his group was offering a $10,000 reward for the capture of George Zimmerman, the man who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. CNN identified Nzinga as the chief of staff of the New Black Panther Party. According to a DeKalb arrest warrant, Nzinga was in possession of an FN Herstal 5.7 x 28 handgun, which investigators said he pawned at a shop on Rockbridge Road. That alleged transaction would be illegal due to Nzinga’s convictions last month for felony deposit account fraud in Gwinnett County, the DeKalb Sheriff's Office said. Nzinga was arrested by members of the fugitive squad at a probation office in Lawrenceville and transported to DeKalb County Jail. The New Black Panther Party is offering a $10,000 bounty for the capture of Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watch captain who shot and killed Martin, an unarmed teenager, last month. "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," Black Panther leader Mikhail Muhammad said Saturday at a rally in Sanford, where Martin was killed Feb. 26, according to Fox News. Zimmerman has claimed he shot Martin in self-defense, but the New Black Panthers are calling for mobilization of 10,000 black men to capture Zimmerman, who has gone into hiding, the Orlando Sentinel reported. "He should be fearful for his life," Muhammad said. "You can't keep killing black children." According to the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the New Black Panthers "is a virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law enforcement officers." The group was founded in Dallas in 1989 and believes black Americans should have their own nation, according to the SPLC. Zimmerman shot Martin as he returned to his father's house from a store where he had bought candy. Zimmerman told a 911 dispatcher that Martin was acting suspicious and told police that he was attacked by Martin. Sanford police say they were advised by prosecutors that they did not have enough evidence to charge Zimmerman.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Gangster's Paradise Rapper Coolio Arrested In Las Vegas, Nevada

Another rapper gets added to the long list of emcees being arrested in Las Vegas, as Coolio was arrested this past weekend in Sin City. The ‘Gangster’s Paradise‘ emcee was stopped on the Las Vegas strip by local police for a routine check, when officers discovered that Coolio had two bench warrants out for his arrest that were the results of multiple traffic violations. The 48 year old, real name Artis Leon Ivey Jr., was only a passenger in the vehicle offers pulled over just a few blocks east of the Las Vegas Strip at around 2:20 AM according to Officer Laura Meltzer. The two warrants out for Coolio were tied to failure to appear on an illegal stop and driving without a license summons issued back in June of 2010. Even more bizarre to the whole story was the fact that Coolio’s 22 year old son was locked up in the same jail for “allegedly busting into a Vegas apartment with a gun and forcing the tenant into the bathroom, while he and a female prostitute named Shantrice Wilkerson ransacked the place.” according to TMZ. Coolio was later released on a $5,850 court bail, and no official court date has been set. 

Girlfriend of notorious Boston gangster James (Whitey) Bulger agrees to plead guilty

Catherine Greig, the girlfriend of notorious Boston gangster James (Whitey) Bulger, has agreed to plead guilty to charges she helped him escape — but she won’t have to rat out her man. The feds nabbed Greig, 60, along with her mobster lover after they had evaded the law together for almost 17 years. A plea agreement filed Monday, first reported by the Boston Globe, stipulates that she won’t have to testify against him. “In early 1995, I agreed to join Bulger and travel with [him] during his flight from law enforcement,” she wrote in the agreement. She could face five years in federal prison on charges of harboring a fugitive, identity theft and conspiracy. Bulger, who went on the lam in 1995 after his FBI handler tipped him off to a pending racketeering indictment, accused of 19 counts of murder and a host of other crimes.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Drug trafficking brothers jailed for more than five years each

Two brothers who tried to flood the north-east of Scotland with heroin and cocaine have been jailed. Paul and Anthony Smith were jailed for more than five years each after they admitted transporting a "significant" amount of class-A drugs into Aberdeen and Shetland. The pair, originally from Liverpool, were sentenced at the High Court in Aberdeen on Monday after previously admitting being involved in the supply of heroin and cocaine between October 2010 and February last year. Detective Inspector Alex Dowall said: "These men were intent on flooding the streets of Aberdeen and Shetland with class-A drugs and were willing to take great risks in the process in order to turn a profit. "Ultimately though, as their sentences today prove, the risk is much greater than the potential reward." Anthony Smith, 30, was jailed for five years and seven months while his 27-year-old sibling received a sentence of five years and two months. Det Insp Dowall added: "This was a complex inquiry across two countries and three force areas and it should serve as a warning to others intent on bringing drugs into the north-east that it will not be tolerated. "Operation Limehouse is an example of Grampian Police working closely with other police forces across the UK in order to target those suspected of committing drugs offences. "It must also be said that the assistance provided by local communities in Aberdeen and Shetland in bring these individuals to justice was invaluable."

Michel Smith, a Quebec member of the Hells Angels wanted se 2009 in connection to 22 murder cases, has been arrested by authorities in Panama


Michel Smith, a Quebec member of the Hells Angels wanted se 2009 in connection to 22 murder cases, has been arrested by authorities in Panama, according to media reports. However, officials from the Surete du Quebec and RCMP were not immediately able to confirm or deny the reports. According to the RCMP, Smith is a member of the South Chapter of the Hells Angels and goes by the nickname "L'animal." He has been on the run since 2009 in connection with a police crackdown on the Hells Angels biker gang. He faces 29 criminal charges - including 22 murder charges. Citing Panamanian local media and Agence France-Presse, the QMI news agency reported that Smith, 49, had been detained by police Friday evening in the Playa Coronado region, on the Pacific Ocean coast of the Central American nation. A Canada-wide warrant issued by the RCMP said he was being sought for murder, gangsterism, drug trafficking and related conspiracy charges. His Central American connections were known to authorities. "Smith is likely to visit Panama and speaks French," the warrant stated. Const. Erique Gasse of the RCMP's C Division in Montreal said he had relayed a request for official word on Smith's status to RCMP officials in Ottawa, who did not immediately return a phone call. Asked for confirmation of the arrest report, Surete du Quebec spokesperson Sgt. Christine Coulombe said: "I have no information on this." Smith is "considered to be violent," according to the warrant. Aside from "L'animal," his aliases have included Mike Smith-Lajoie, Michel Lajoie-Smit and Michel Lajoie. The warrant describes Smith as 172 centimetres tall and weighing 95 kilograms, with brown hair and blue eyes.

Alleged Quebec Hells Angels member arrested in Panama


Quebec fugitive -- and alleged member of the Hells Angels -- who is wanted on murder charges has been arrested in Panama, local media reports say. Michel Smith, 49, who was linked to Quebec's deadly biker war in the 1990s, was reportedly arrested Friday. Smith -- whose nickname is "animal" -- has been on the run since 2009. He was taken into custody by local police in the tourist area of Playa Coronado on the Pacific Ocean coast, according to local reports. The reports said he had been under surveillance for about two months before his arrest. Smith faces 29 charges, including 22 counts of murder. Police in Canada had not confirmed the news as late Sunday night. Smith is to be extradited back to Canada, police officials in Panama said in a news release. Smith has long been alleged to be among the top men affiliated with the Hells Angels when it was at war with the Rock Machine biker gang in the 1990s and early 2000s. The gang war killed more than 150 people. While most of the victims were members of the rival gangs and their affiliates, two prison guards and an 11-year old boy -- a bystander -- also died. An RCMP warrant describes Smith as 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing 210 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Man Held After Headless Torso, Feared To Be EastEnders Actress Gemma McCluskie Is Found In Canal

The brother of former EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie has been arrested after a headless torso believed to be missing 29-year-old was dragged from a canal in east London, Sky News understands. Tony McCluskie remains in custody at an east London police station, sources say. Police have not yet confirmed the identity of the suspect The limbless body was discovered near to the Broadway Market stretch of Regent's Canal in Hackney at 2.40pm yesterday. "Police were initially contacted by a member of the public who had noticed something suspicious floating in the water," the Met Police said in a statement. "The torso was recovered by divers from the Met's Marine Support Unit and additional searches are due to be carried out in the water." Relatives and co-stars of 29-year-old Miss McCluskie were said by sources to be "fearing the worst", as Scotland Yard carried out forensic tests on the remains. Miss McCluskie starred in the soap as Kerry Skinner on more than 30 occasions in 2001. Her character arrived in Walford as a friend of Zoe Slater and the great niece of the late Ethel Skinner. She briefly dated Robbie Jackson and got him to propose to her. Brooke Kinsella turned to Twitter to appeal for help in finding Miss McCluskie Miss McCluskie disappeared from Bethnal Green, east London, last week. Friends had been carrying out searches in the area and handing out leaflets. Co-stars Brooke Kinsella and Natalie Cassidy both appealed for help finding her on Twitter. Kinsella, who has become a prominent anti-knife crime campaigner since her brother Ben was murdered in 2008, had tweeted: "Gemma McCluskie has been MISSING from Bethnal Green since Thursday please get in touch if you have seen her." Cassidy, who played Sonia in the soap, also posted on the website: "Gemma McCluskie, missing since Thurs, if u have sn her/have any info PLS contact @CarlyKarma ... #FindGemma." Officers believe they know the identity of the victim but are awaiting further forensic tests before formal identification can take place. The man being questioned by police is understood to be known to Miss McCluskie. He remains in custody at an east London police station. Detective Inspector John Nicholson, who is leading the murder inquiry, has appealed for witnesses.

Allen Stanford faces decades behind bars after being convicted of a $7 billion fraud that snared investors in 113 countries


A MONTH after Sir Fred Goodwin was stripped of his title for leaving Royal Bank of Scotland shredded, another erstwhile knight of the financial-services realm has been put in his place—this time a jail cell. Allen Stanford faces decades behind bars after being convicted of a $7 billion fraud that snared investors in 113 countries, from Latin America to Libya. When in 2008 the sky fell in on Bernard Madoff, the only fraudster to have taken investors for more, the Texas-born Mr Stanford was still swaggering. He had done so much for Antigua, the Caribbean island where he based his empire, that it made him a Sir. He took to the airwaves to tut-tut rivals who had been felled by subprime mortgages. His star rose further when he sponsored an international cricket tournament. He was said to be worth over $2 billion. He certainly lived like he was. Within a few months, however, the authorities had swooped in, closing his Antigua-based bank and his brokerage operations. Prosecutors accused him of flogging bogus certificates of deposit and raiding the bank, siphoning deposits to a Swiss account used to finance his passion for yachts, jets and islands. His lawyers tried to have him declared incompetent to stand trial, saying a prison beating had led to loss of memory and an addiction to anti-anxiety drugs. When that ruse failed, they argued in court that he had been his group’s visionary, uninvolved in its day-to-day running, even as they claimed the businesses had been viable until they were “disembowelled” upon being seized. Countering this narrative was damning evidence from the prosecution’s star witness, Mr Stanford’s former chief financial officer, who testified that he and his boss had falsified documents and that the firm had presented hypothetical returns as the real thing in client pitches. Others said that, for all his public bravado, he had been aware of a hole in the accounts. When another colleague suggested he raise more money to plug this, he reportedly said: “I’ll go to the Libyans. They love me.” Victims cheered the verdict, but their victory is hollow. Three years on, they are yet to receive a penny from the court-appointed receiver, Ralph Janvey. Of the $216m he had recovered by late last year, more than half had been eaten up by legal and other fees. His team reckons that total recoverable assets may be a mere $500m, or 7% of the account balances shown at the time of Mr Stanford’s arrest (though that could increase if lawsuits seeking $600m from Stanford brokers, customers who extracted more than they paid in and political organisations that received donations from Mr Stanford succeed). Investors also bemoan the hefty cost of litigating jurisdictional issues. Mr Janvey is locked in a fight over how to divide up the estate with a separate receiver in Antigua, who has control over the fraudster’s bank accounts in Switzerland and Britain. America’s Securities and Exchange Commission has backed the victims’ cause, taking the unprecedented step of suing the Securities Investor Protection Corporation after the congressionally-chartered group balked at paying them up to $500,000 each in compensation (on the ground that Stanford’s operations were based offshore). Too little, too late, scream the SEC’s critics. Its district office in Fort Worth, Texas, first concluded that the Caribbean kingpin’s businesses were a Ponzi scheme in 1997, only to be ignored then and several times subsequently by enforcement staff. This story has only one true villain, but many others come out looking bad.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Wheels of Soul outlaw motorcycle gang member pleads guilty


Allan "Dog" Hunter, 33, of Chicago, was present during the March 6, 2011, shooting death of Javell T. Thornton, 32, also of Chicago, at 126 South Main St. according to a federal indictment. As part of his plea, Hunter, a member of the Wheels of Soul outlaw motorcycle gang, admitted Thursday in federal court that he conspired with other members of the gang to dispose of several firearms after the shooting. WOS was in Marion for a meeting at a private motorcycle club. In the early morning hours of March 6, a fight at the gang's after-hours party spilled onto the sidewalk on South Main Street. When the dust settled, three men were injured with stab and gunshot wounds, and Thornton was dead. The federal indictment states that Anthony R. Robinson shot three victims in the back as they fled the party, killing Thornton and seriously injuring another. Hunter reportedly fired a handgun indiscriminately into the crowd while wearing a bulletproof vest. Robinson has been indicted on one count of murder in aid of racketeering activity and one count of attempt to commit murder in aid of racketeering, along with other federal charges for murder and racketeering activities in other states, according to the federal indictment. Eighteen members of the WOS were indicted on federal charges June 9, 2011. One member allegedly stabbed another person in the head during a fight at a Chicago motorcycle club, then shot another in the stomach. The indictment says gang members are required to carry weapons - mostly guns, but also hammers, knives and other weapons.

How Wall Street Bankers Use Seamless To Feast On Free Lobster, Steak, And Beer

A former Morgan Stanley banker recently described his weekend food-ordering ritual at the height of the recession. While pulling Saturday hours, for example, he'd log onto the bank's account on Seamless, the online food-ordering service, and redeem his meal allowance--plus a few allowances from phantom coworkers who weren't actually in the office, allowing him to eat well above his pay grade. Sure, someone could have cross-checked actual office attendence with the online orders, but is such effort worth the investment bank's time? "If people weren't around, it was totally acceptable to take their allowance, and pool it together when you ordered," the banker recalls. "Almost every weekend I was at the office, I'd have a $90 dinner of steak, lobster, mac & cheese, and calamari." Until several years ago, corporate giants like Morgan Stanley made up roughly 85% of Seamless's customer base. That figure has now tipped in favor of individual consumers, but enterprise clients still represent a significant (and growing) part of the New York-based company's revenue--companies offer Seamless as a benefit to those who typically work long or late hours. But for employees of these roughly 3,500 corporate Seamless customers, the benefit represents a huge opportunity to game the system. And no one has worked the system for financial gain better than Wall Street hustlers. "Abuse of the system was rampant," recalls another former Morgan Stanley staffer. "I added up how much I ordered in my first year: It was more than $3,000 of food." Here's how it works. Typically, junior professionals are allotted about $25 per meal at the office. But there are tricks to leverage this cash on Seamless. If employees want to order dinner, for example, they have to stay until 8 p.m. "But you could still order for a 7 p.m. delivery at 6 p.m., then call the restaurant directly and tell them to bring it right away," one employee says. "So I'd finish work around 6:30 p.m., hit the company gym, and then grab my sushi--spicy tuna rolls--on the way out." A Seamless Scam How Gordon Gekko Orders On Seamless 1// Top Seamless Fiend According to Seamless' statistics, the highest ordering corporate user placed more than 2,600 orders in 2011, or more than 7 meals per day. 2// Top Cuisine By Industry Employees Investment Bankers: Sushi; Educators: Pizza 3// Top Ordering Patterns Corporate dinner-orders in New York's Financial District peak at 8 p.m. In Midtown, corporate orders peak at 7 p.m. Corporate dinner-orders are higher, on average, from 4-5 p.m. and lower between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Ordering groceries on Seamless was--and likely still is--another practice. (Representatives at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have not responded to requests for comment.) One employee, who lived by Morgan Stanley's Midtown offices, would even remote into her office computer from her apartment, place an order on Seamless, and then call the restaurant and change the delivery address to her apartment. The lobster-loving Morgan Stanley banker's take on that old switcheroo? "Classic." Another trick: Since employees aren't allowed to order beer or alcohol on the system, it's not uncommon to pool money together, place a large order for random items, then call the store and request that they bring beer instead. "We definitely get a lot of random orders," says Seamless CEO Jonathan Zabusky. "Once in a while, I'll sit on the customer-care desk, just to get a feel on the pulse of what's going on. You see these orders come through, and you're like, 'Why are 20 rolls of toilet paper going to 200 Vesey Street [the World Financial Center]? What the hell?'" One former employee at Morgan Stanley said he wasn't sure how pervasive the "switch-for-beer order" was at the investment bank, but said he personally pulled the move several times. "Wow, I feel so lame now because when I'd order from Seamless, I'd just get dinner," says one former Goldman Sachs employee. "I never heard of anyone else pulling a fast one [like that], but that doesn't mean it never happened." The daily Seamless stipend is considered sacred for employees, and any abuse of the system appears generally overlooked by higher-ups. When Lehman Brothers went under, for instance, Morgan Stanley lowered the Seamless limit from $30 to $25, much to the anger of workers. "People went nuts," recalls a former employee. "Every so often there were these fireside chats with [Morgan Stanley CEO] John Mack 'Da Knife' and a collection of analysts. One of the women on the call asked Mack to raise the limit to $30 again. Mack, not really having paid much attention to expenses, was surprised to hear it had been reduced. Concerned, he asked her why she needed $30 instead of just $25. She said that with the new reduction, 'I can't order my Perrier anymore.'" The next day, as legend has it, there was an entire case of Perrier on her desk--courtesy of John Mack. "What a baller," an employee says. Zabusky is sure abuse exists on Seamless, but says it's not likely that widespread. "I think it's pretty funny," the Seamless chief chuckles. "I mean, I know it probably frustrates a CFO at Goldman, who is giving these guys $25 to order while they work on deals, and they're ordering toilet paper and jars of mayonnaise and all this other stuff. But in the overall scope, it's probably pretty small." Small as the abuses might be in terms of Seamless's bottom line, there's no doubt it has a big impact on the morale of employees, who seem to take pride in manipulating money one way or another. According to Seamless's statistics, for example, the highest ordering corporate user placed more than 2,600 orders in 2011. "There's nothing grosser or more magnificent than eating $25 of delivered Taco Bell under the fluorescent, sober lights of an office building," says one employee. "Do you have any idea how much baja sauce you can get for that money?"

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Storms wreck homes across US, kill 28 people


Powerful storms stretching from the U.S. Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes in the north wrecked two small towns and killed at least 28 people as the system tore roofs off schools and homes and damaged a maximum security prison. It was the second deadly tornado outbreak this week. At least 28 people were killed, including 14 in Indiana and 12 in Kentucky, authorities said. In Indiana, Marysville was leveled and nearby Henryville also suffered extreme damage. Each is home to about 2,000 people. "Marysville is completely gone," said Clark County Sheriff's Department Maj. Chuck Adams. Aerial footage from a TV news helicopter flying over Henryville showed numerous wrecked houses, some with their roofs torn off and many surrounded by debris. The video shot by WLKY in Louisville, Kentucky, also shows a mangled school bus protruding from the side of a one-story building and dozens of overturned semitrailers strewn around the smashed remains of a truck stop. An Associated Press reporter in Henryville said the high school was destroyed and the second floor had been ripped off the middle school next door. Classroom chairs were scattered on the ground outside, trees were uprooted and cars had huge dents from baseball-sized hail. Authorities said school was in session when the tornado hit, but there were only minor injuries there. Afterward, volunteers pushed shopping carts full of water and food up the street and handed it out to people. The rural town about is the home of Indiana's oldest state forest and the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Col. Harland Sanders. Ernie Hall, 68, weathered the tornado inside his tiny home near the high school. Hall says he saw the twister coming down the road toward his house, whipping up debris in its path. He and his wife ran into an interior room and used a mattress to block the door as the tornado struck. It destroyed his car and blew out the picture window overlooking his porch. "There was no mistaking what it was," he said. The powerful storm system was also causing problems in states far to the south, including Alabama and Tennessee where dozens of houses were also damaged. The threat of tornadoes was expected to last until late Friday. The outbreak comes two days after an earlier round of storms killed 13 people in the Midwest and South. At least 20 homes were badly damaged and six people were hospitalized in the Chattanooga, Tennessee, area after strong winds and hail lashed the area. In Cleveland, another Tennessee town, Blaine Lawson and his wife Billie were watching the weather when the power went out. Just as they began to seek shelter, strong winds ripped the roof off their home. Neither were hurt. "It just hit all at once," said Blaine Lawson, 76. "Didn't have no warning really. The roof, insulation and everything started coming down on us. It just happened so fast that I didn't know what to do. I was going to head to the closet but there was just no way. It just got us." Thousands of schoolchildren in several states were sent home as a precaution, and several Kentucky universities were closed. The Huntsville, Alabama, mayor said students in area schools sheltered in hallways as severe weather passed in the morning. An apparent tornado also damaged a state maximum security prison about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Huntsville, but none of the facility's approximately 2,100 inmates escaped. Alabama Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett said there were no reports of injuries, but the roof was damaged on two large prison dormitories that each hold about 250 men. In California, a late winter storm that dumped at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) of snow in parts of the Sierra Nevada mountains created ripe conditions Friday for snow sports enthusiasts but also posed avalanche dangers, as one man died while skiing in back country. Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Jim Suhr in Harrisburg, Illinois, and Jeff Martin in Atlanta, Associated Press videojournalist Robert Ray in Cleveland, Tennessee, and AP Radio's Shelly Adler in Washington.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes Powered by Blogger | DSW printable coupons