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Tuesday

Opiates Killed 8 Americans In Afghanistan, Army Records Show

Eight American soldiers died of overdoses involving heroin, morphine or other opiates during deployments in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011, according to U.S. Army investigative reports. The overdoses were revealed in documents detailing how the Army investigated a total of 56 soldiers, including the eight who fell victim to overdoses, on suspicion of possessing, using or distributing heroin and other opiates. At the same time, heroin use apparently is on the rise in the Army overall, as military statistics show that the number of soldiers testing positive for heroin has grown from 10 instances in fiscal year 2002 to 116 in fiscal year 2010. Army officials didn't respond to repeated requests for comment on Saturday. But records from the service's Criminal Investigation Command, obtained by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch, provided glimpses into how soldiers bought drugs from Afghan juveniles, an Afghan interpreter and in one case, an employee of a Defense Department contractor, who was eventually fired. The drug use is occurring in a country that is estimated to supply more than 90% of the world's opium, and the Taliban insurgency is believed to be stockpiling the drug to finance their activities, according to a 2009 U.N. study. While the records show some soldiers using heroin, much of the opiate abuse by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan involves prescription drugs such Percocet, the Army documents show. Judicial Watch obtained the documents under the Freedom of Information of Act and provided them to CNN. Spokesman Col. Gary Kolb of the International Security Assistance Force, the NATO-led command in Afghanistan, verified the documents to CNN on Saturday. One fatal overdose occurred in June 2010 at Forward Operating Base Blessing, after a soldier asked another soldier to buy black tar opium from a local Afghan outside the base's entry control point. The first soldier died after consuming the opium like chewing tobacco and smoking pieces of it in a cigarette, the documents show. The reports even show soldier lingo for the drug -- calling it "Afghani dip" in one case where three soldiers were accused of using the opiate, the Army investigative reports show. The United States has 89,000 troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. death toll since the September 11, 2001, attacks that triggered the war has risen to more than 1,850, including 82 this year, according to the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Central Command. Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said his group was interested in soldiers' drug use partly because the risk was present during the Vietnam War. "You never want to see news of soldiers dying of drug use in Afghanistan," Fitton said. "Our concern is, will the military treat this as the problem that it is, and are the families of the soldiers aware of the added risk in this drug-infested country? "There is a dotted line between the uses. Prescription abuse can easily veer into heroin drug use," Fitton added. "Afghanistan is the capital of this opiate production and the temptation is great there and the opportunity for drug use all the more." The group is concerned that "there hasn't been enough public discussion, and we would encourage the leadership to discuss or talk about this issue more openly," Fitton said. In one case, a soldier bought heroin and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax from five "local national juveniles at multiple locations on Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan, and consumed them," one report states. Soldiers also distributed heroin, Percocet and other drugs among themselves, according to the reports. Another soldier fatally overdosed in December 2010 after taking several drugs, including morphine and codeine, though the drugs were not prescribed for him, the Army documents show. One female soldier broke into the Brigade Medical Supply Office at Forward Operating Base Shank and stole expired prescription narcotics including morphine, Percocet, Valium, fentanyl and lorazepam, the documents show. The investigative reports show soldiers using other drugs, including steroids and marijuana, and even hashish that was sold to U.S. servicemen by the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police personnel, the reports state.

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Friday

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

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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

 

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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.’



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EU condemns Repsol state seizure

 The European Parliament has passed a resolution condemning a nationalisation that has strained relations between Spain and Argentina. Argentina has nationalised YPF, wiping out the Spanish firm Repsol's controlling-stake in the oil firm. The resolution asks the European Commission to consider a "partial suspension" of tariffs that benefit Argentine exports into the EU. Shares in Repsol has another decline, falling 2.3% on Friday. Over the week, Repsol stock has lost almost a fifth of its value. MEPs in the European Parliament said the institution "deplores" the decision taken by Argentina and describes it as an "attack on the exercise of free enterprise". Decisions such as that taken by the Argentine authorities "can put a strain on the climate of understanding and friendship needed to reach" a trade agreement between a South American bloc and the EU, it said. The resolution, which is non-binding, received 458 votes in favour, 71 against and 16 abstentions. 'Not valid' It also emerged that Repsol may be obliged to buy a minority shareholder's YPF stake if it ever lost majority control, which Repsol denied. Twenty-five percent of YPF is owned by Argentina's Eskenazi family through its firm, Peterson. Continue reading the main story Nationalising YPF Spain's Repsol has hitherto owned 57.4% of shares with 25.5% belonging to Argentina's Petersen, 0.02% to the Argentine government and 17% traded on stock exchanges The Argentine government proposes to seize 51% of the shares, all of which will be taken from Repsol's stake, leaving the Spanish firm with 6.4% The expropriated shares will in turn be divided between the Argentine government and provincial governors Following the expropriation, Petersen will retain its 25.5% stake and 17% of the shares will continue to be traded Argentina's risky energy seizure According to regulator filings of a 2008 agreement, Repsol must "maintain directly or indirectly through controlled companies an ownership interest greater than or equal to 50.1%". If it does not, Repsol is obliged to buy back the loans used to secure the Eskenazis' shares. But Repsol told the BBC that the expropriation of its stake in YPF had invalidated the agreement. "The agreement is not valid under Spanish law in these conditions," said Kristian Rix, a Repsol spokesman. "The law is unequivocal, there is no debate." Trade war brewing? Spain has threatened retaliation against Argentina over the forced nationalisation of oil firm YPF, raising the prospects of a trade war between the nations. Spanish Trade Secretary Jaime Garcia Legaz said the European Union would intervene over Argentina's seizure of YPF. Argentina is taking over 51% of YPF, wiping out Repsol's 57.4% majority stake. The move has wide support in Argentina but has provoked outrage in Spain. Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had also offered support. Repsol has said it wants around $10bn (£6.2bn) for its stake in YPF, but Argentina has said it does not accept that valuation. YPF, Argentina's biggest oil company, was privatised in 1993. Last year it announced huge new finds of shale oil and gas.

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Hacking scandal: the net tightens on the Murdochs

 Rupert Murdoch's grip on his media empire was dramatically challenged yesterday after his company was labelled a "toxic shadow state" which launched a dirty tricks campaign against MPs and now faces a salvo of phone-hacking claims in the United States. On a tumultuous day for the media mogul, the lawyer who brought the first damages claims against the News of the World in Britain said he had uncovered new allegations of the use of "dark arts" by News Corp in America and was ready to file at least three phone-hacking lawsuits in the company's backyard. The sense of a legal net tightening around Mr Murdoch and News Corp was heightened by the announcement that he and his son James will testify separately next week before the Leveson Inquiry into press standards during three days of what is likely to be uncomfortable scrutiny of alleged widespread criminality in their British tabloid newspapers. In a separate development, the royal editor of The Sun became the latest journalist on the paper to be arrested on suspicion of making corrupt payments to public officials. The arrest coincided with the publication of an incendiary book on the scandal which levelled new accusations that the NOTW set out on an extraordinary campaign of intimidation of MPs to try to blunt their investigations into its alleged law breaking. Last night senior MPs called for News International (NI) to be investigated by the Commons for potential contempt of Parliament over the claims that members of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee were targeted by attempts to dig dirt on their private lives. Dial M for Murdoch, written by the Labour MP Tom Watson and The Independent's Martin Hickman, also alleges that: l Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of NI, was bugged in her own office shortly before she resigned last summer over the phone hacking of Milly Dowler, the murdered schoolgirl. l On his release from prison, Glenn Mulcaire, the convicted NOTW hacker, allegedly was contracted to give security advice to a private security company, Quest, whose chairman is Lord Stevens, a former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. l NI intermediaries approached Mr Watson with a "deal" to "give him" former NOTW editor and Downing Street press chief Andy Coulson but that Ms Brooks was "sacred". NI, which runs Mr Murdoch's British newspapers, said it had no comment to make on the book. At a packed Westminster press conference, Mr Watson, who is a member of the Culture, Media and Sport committee, said the claim that the NOTW set out in 2009 to undermine the MPs investigating it came from Neville Thurlbeck, the NOTW's former chief reporter. In the book, Mr Thurlbeck, who has been arrested in connection with phone hacking, says: "An edict came down... and it was find out every single thing you can about every single member: who was gay, who had affairs, anything we can use." Mr Thurlbeck told The Independent last night that the order to target the MPs, which involved assigning two politicians each to a group of six reporters, had not originated from inside the paper but instead came from "elsewhere inside News International". He insisted that NOTW staff had been reluctant and there was a "degree of procrastination" before the plan was "suddenly and unexpectedly halted about 10 days later". Mr Watson, who has received an apology from NI after he was placed under surveillance, said he believed the campaign was nonetheless successful and had contributed to a decision by the media committee not to demand that Ms Brooks give evidence to it in 2010. He added: "Parliament was, in effect, intimidated. News International thought they could do this, that they could get away with it, that no one could touch them; and they actually did it, and it worked." Labelling News Corp a "toxic institution", he added: "We conclude that the web of influence which News Corporation spun in Britain, which effectively bent politicians, police and many others in public life to its will, amounted to a shadow state." Former Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price, who is gay and was a member of the DCMS committee, is described in the book as having been warned by a Conservative colleague that their private lives would be raked over if they called Ms Brooks to give evidence – "effectively they would delve into our personal lives in order to punish us". Hours after publication of the book, Mark Lewis, the lawyer who has doggedly pursued hacking claims, told a press conference in New York that he was investigating allegations of impropriety at Mr Murdoch's US media companies, including Fox News. He said a high-profile trip to America to prepare claims on behalf of victims whose phones were allegedly hacked on US soil had generated a slew of new allegations about wider use of "dark arts" to obtain private information. He said: "The investigation in the UK began with one claim by one client and look where it is now. While it starts in America with three cases, it seems likely it might end up with more." The allegations will provide an awkward backdrop for the Murdochs to their appearances before the Leveson Inquiry. Rupert Murdoch, who is the first witness before the inquiry to be scheduled for two days of testimony, will be questioned about practices in his British newspapers and whether he had knowledge of those activities. Chris Bryant last night confirmed that he would be asking Parliament to investigate the claims that NI carried out targeted intimidation. Royal editor of The Sun arrested The royal editor of The Sun was arrested yesterday after News Corp handed over information to detectives investigating alleged illegal payments to public officials. Duncan Larcombe, 36, who had previously worked as the newspaper's defence editor, was arrested during an early morning raid at his home in Kent on suspicion of conspiracy to corrupt and conspiracy to cause misconduct in a public office. Officers from Scotland Yard's Operation Elveden also arrested a 42-year-old former member of the armed forces and a woman, 38, at their home in Lancashire. All three were later released on bail. Mr Larcombe was the paper's royal correspondent from 2005 to 2009 before being appointed defence editor for 14 months. He returned to the royal beat last year and led the newspaper's coverage of the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William. He was the second Sun defence editor to be arrested during the police inquiry.

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France and Germany want to suspend the Shengen Agreement

They say they want a temporary suspension while the crisis continues. Spain will being introducing border restrictions during the European Central Bank meeting in Barcelona at the start of May.Angela Merkel and Nicolás Sarkozy - The Interior Ministers of France and Germany have written a joint letter in which they call for the reform of, and ‘temporary suspension’ of the Schengen agreement which allows for the free movement between most member states of the EU. They say the change is necessary ‘to control the massive flow of immigrants’. The call comes just ahead of the 25th anniversary of the treaty this coming Monday, although many countries signed up in March 1995. France and Germany consider that a ‘temporary suspension’ is needed during the crisis, and Paris and Berlin speak of ‘provisional’ closure of frontiers, and only when a country in the Schengen space cannot control the flow of immigrants. They say they will give the details to their European partners at the next conference. Meanwhile Spain has announced the suspension of the Schengen Treaty and the re-establishing of frontier controls with France ahead of the European Central Bank meeting which is to be held in Barcelona on May 3. It has not yet been decided how long the border restriction will remain in place, but say it will allow the authorities to act if there is ‘a serious threat to public order or interior security’. The measure will only affect the frontiers between Spain and France from the Basque Country to Cataluña. Reports indicate that it was the Catalan Government to step up the controls in the face of possible disturbances and the arrival of anti-system protestors from other countries in Europe.

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Monday

British terror supergrass sentence cut by two years


jailed British terrorist has had his sentence cut by two years in a supergrass deal after giving evidence about an al Qaeda-linked “martyrdom” plot in New York, it was revealed today. Former teacher Saajid Badat was jailed for 13 years in 2005 for plotting with shoe bomber Richard Reid to blow up a transatlantic airliner in 2001 in what an Old Bailey judge said was a “wicked and inhuman” plot. He has now had his term reduced by two years under the first “supergrass” deal involving a terror convict, after providing intelligence to US prosecutors investigating an alleged plot to blow up the New York subway on the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attack. Details of the deal — kept secret for more than two years — were revealed today by the Crown Prosecution Service as a trial of the alleged al Qaeda plotters began in New York. Defendant Adis Medanjanin, a 27-year-old Bosnian-born US citizen, is charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, conspiring to commit murder in a foreign country, and providing “material support” to al Qaeda. He is said to have had terrorist training in Pakistan in 2008 and then returned to begin a plot to use beauty parlour chemicals to blow up the subway. Badat, from Gloucester, joined Reid’s shoe bomb conspiracy but pulled out at the last minute.

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Sunday

Western embassies targeted in Afghanistan attacks

 

Gunmen have launched multiple attacks across the Afghan capital Kabul. Western embassies in the heavily-guarded, central diplomatic area are understood to be among the targets as well as the parliament building in the west. There are reports that up to seven different locations have been hit. The Taliban has admitted responsibility, saying their main targets were the British and German embassies. There is no word at this stage on any casualties.

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Taliban free hundreds from Pakistan prison

Hundreds of prisoners are believed to have escaped from a jail in northwest Pakistan after it was attacked by anti-government fighters armed with guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Some of those who escaped from the facility in the town of Bannu, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, early on Sunday morning were "militants", an intelligence official told the Reuters news agency. "Dozens of militants attacked Bannu's Central Jail in the early hours of the morning, and more 300 prisoners have escaped," Mir Sahib Jan, the official, said. In Depth   Profile: Pakistani Taliban "There was intense gunfire, and rocket-propelled grenades were also used." Many of those who escaped following the raid were convicted Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) fighters, Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder reported from Lahore. A prison official in Bannu confirmed that "384 prisoners have escaped". A police official identified one of the inmates who escaped as a "dangerous prisoner", who took part in one of the attempts to kill the former president, Pervez Musharraf. The TTP, an umbrella organisation for anti-government groups that are loosely allied with the Taliban in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda, took responsibility for the attack. A spokesman for Hakeemullah Mehsud, TTP's leader, confirmed to Al Jazeera that the group was responsible for the attack. Another Taliban spokesman told Reuters: "We have freed hundreds of our comrades in Bannu in this attack. Several of our people have reached their destinations, others are on their way.".   Our correspondent said the attack took place in the early morning and had resulted in an exchange of fire that had left several people wounded. "After the attack the paramilitary and regular military forces came to that location and tried to surround the area," he said. "They have arrested up to a dozen men, but most of the people have indeed escaped." The injured were rushed to a local hospital in Bannu. Sources told Al Jazeera that as many as 150 fighters were involved in the attack. After blowing up the gates of the main prison at around 1:30am local time (20:30 GMT on Saturday), they entered the compound and freed the inmates, the sources said. The attackers had arranged for the transportation of the inmates from the facility. A police official told Reuters that Bannu's Central Jail held 944 prisoners in total, and that six cell blocks had been targeted in the attack.

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Monday

Salou, the northern Spanish town where thousands of British students flock every spring for four nights of drunken debauchery.

It was a case of deja vu last night for the long-suffering residents of Salou, the northern Spanish town where thousands of British students flock every spring for four nights of drunken debauchery.

For the twelfth time, the Costa Dorada resort has been overrun by Saloufest, the notorious annual sports tour returning for another round of hard drinking, half-naked partying - and the odd day of volleyball or hockey.

The first pictures released from this year's event paint a familiar picture: packs of fresh-faced revellers in proudly ridiculous fancy dress, their flesh largely bare and arms aloft as they stagger and bellow through the streets.

On the march: British students wrapped in flags as they head out for the first night of parties at SalouFest in Salou, Spain

On the march: British students wrapped in flags as they head out for the first night of parties at SalouFest in Salou, Spain

Fireman's lift: A British student makes off with a fellow reveller as the Saloufest parties spill out on to the streets

Fireman's lift: A British student makes off with a fellow reveller as the drunken Saloufest parties spill out on to the streets

Culture clash: Two young women match geisha-style makeup with pink bum bags for a night out in the Costa Dorada resort

Culture clash: Two young women match geisha-style makeup with pink bum bags for a night out in the Costa Dorada resort

The first 5,000 of a total 8,200 people are said to have made the trip from Britain's universities yesterday, marking an increase of 1,000 on last year.

Police say the first night of the tour passed without any arrests being made - but past form suggests they won't be holding out much hope for an easy ride.

 

Last year's event saw officers launch a crackdown on any students caught drinking in public, putting an end to the days when the locals would turn a blind eye to those flouting Salou's alcohol bylaws.

The town also decided to uphold rules preventing the Saloufest partiers from roaming around town half-naked.

The 2011 tour saw two toga-wearing students hauled off to a police station and fined £265 for breaking the alcohol laws.

This year the local authorities have handed out leaflets warning British visitors not to drink on streets and beaches, while those found stumbling around shirtless can expect to face the consequences.

 

Riot of colour: There's no missing these Brits abroad as they pull on garish tones and leggings for a debauched night in the Catalan village

Riot of colour: There's no missing these Brits abroad as they pull on garish tones and leggings for a debauched night in the Catalan village

Rowdy: Four students holler from the terrace of a nightclub during the first night of booze-soaked parties

Rowdy: Four students holler from the terrace of a nightclub during the first night of booze-soaked parties

Sitting comfortably? A show of bravado sees one British student doing a press-up as another sits on his back

Sitting comfortably? A show of bravado sees one British student doing a press-up as another sits on his back

Spanish media reports that ILoveTour, the firm that organises the festival, has some 30 supervisors on hand to babysit the horde of 18-to-23-year-olds.

One account, from Spanish newspaper El Pais, talks of streets streaked with vomit and urine, disoriented youths, deafening noise and riot vans on standby.

Despite local opposition, hoteliers in the area support Saloufest because it extends the holiday season and is timed so as not to interfere with the influx of Easter tourists. 

In an effort to keep the peace, some of the seven hotels set aside for the event have opted to separate their British guests from other holidaymakers.

The basic festival package sees students shell out £189 for coach travel and four nights in two-star accommodation, with optional extras including day trips to nearby Barcelona and Port Aventura.

Shameless: A passerby cheers as two partygoers get up close and personal outside an Irish-themed bar

Shameless: A passerby cheers as two partygoers get up close and personal outside an Irish-themed bar

 

In the gutter: The week-long tour has barely begun, but Saloufest seems to have taken its toll as these two huddle on the pavement outside a nightclub

In the gutter: The week-long tour has barely begun, but Saloufest seems to have taken its toll as these two huddle on the pavement outside a nightclub

Sin city: Dog collars and a novelty cross pass for fancy dress on the streets of Salou

Sin city: Dog collars and a novelty cross pass for fancy dress on the streets of Salou

 

Tribes: Clusters of UK students stagger through the village in fancy dress. A vague cavewoman theme finds this pair draped in animal print

Tribes: Clusters of UK students stagger through the village in fancy dress. A vague cavewoman theme finds this pair draped in animal print

Bookish? A mob of Saloufest drinkers in 'geek' fancy dress, one of the go-to costume themes for student union club nights up and down the UK

Bookish? A mob of Saloufest drinkers in 'geek' fancy dress, one of the go-to costume themes for student union club nights up and down the UK

 



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Amy Winehouse 'spent £1 million on drugs in three years`


Amy Winehouse had reportedly squandered £10 million during her lifetime, which included £1 million on drugs in three years, a £500,000-hotel bill and £1,000-a-month on her kittens. The tragic singer who was 27 when she died, left an estate worth £4,257,580, which was reduced to £2,944,554 after debts and taxes were paid. Since the Rehab hitmaker did not leave a will, that money will, by default, be divided between her divorced parents Mitch and Janis. According to the Sunday Times Rich List, she was worth £10 million but a friend of her manager claimed that the singer may have been worth closer to £15 million. A friend connected to her management company said that she spent it all on drugs, on men, and on “friends” who said they needed her. “Before Amy died, money was being leeched off her left, right and centre,” the Daily Mail quoted the friend as saying. “It was like taking money off a baby when it came to Amy — she couldn’t stop giving it away. Mitch knew that most of it had probably been spent already,” the friend added. If Winehouse wanted to give £2,000 to a friend who had a hernia, for example, as she once did, she’d just ask her father to turn up with an envelope of cash. When she wanted to keep kittens, she would simply ask Mitch to take out some money from her trust to pay the enormous bills she ran up: according to him, she managed to spend more than £1,000-a-month on them. She would blow £20,000 in an afternoon at Selfridges on dresses, for instance, but in Winehouse’s world this counted as fairly small change. And her lifestyle, with a permanent retinue of bodyguards, was very expensive. The bodyguards cost £250-a-day each and she had up to half a dozen of them. An extraordinary ‘working’ holiday in St Lucia three years ago — which stretched to about a year and a half — cost her £2,000 a night during the five months of it she stayed in the luxury resort of Le Sport. The bill for spa treatments alone was £6,000. A record company source said he thought that hotel stay cost her at least £500,000, and she didn’t just spend money on herself. Her former husband Blake Fielder-Civil was apparently adept at milking her for money, asking for £150 “for a cab” whenever she called and said she wanted to see him. It is widely assumed she funded both their drug habits for years, too. Within three weeks of their marriage in 2007 she had a near-fatal overdose. Her heroin and cocaine habit in the days when she was using drugs, which she stopped around 2008, was in the nature of £1,000-a-day. It is assumed she might have spent £1 million or more on drugs alone between 2006 and 2008. Fielder-Civil, meanwhile, was given a £250,000 pay-off in their 2009 divorce.

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Sunday

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.

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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.

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Saturday

Gang dispute sparked funeral home shooting that left 2 dead, 12 injured

 

Dispute among gang members at a North Miami-area funeral home sparked a mass shooting that injured 12 people and killed two men, according to Miami-Dade police and law enforcement. The gunmen, who fired a barrage of bullets at a crowd of mourners Friday night, remained on the loose. Investigators have not released information about the shooters, only that a white car may have been involved. One of the victims, a 43-year-old man, died outside the Funeraria Latina Emanuel funeral home, authorities said. The other, a 27-year-old man, died at the hospital. Witnesses at the funeral home had said one of the two people killed was shot in the chest. Among the wounded was a 5-year-old girl who was shot in the leg. She is hospitalized at Jackson Memorial Hospital and is listed in stable condition. The funeral was for Morvin Andre, 21, of North Miami, who was buried Saturday morning at Southern Memorial Park next to the funeral home. Andre was killed March 16 after he tried to jump 22-and-a-half feet from the fourth floor of the Aventura Mall parking garage to escape pursuit from Bloomingdale’s loss prevention employees. Andre landed on his feet, but then fell back and hit his head, according Aventura Police Major Skip Washa, a spokesman. Washa said Saturday the county medical examiner’s office has ruled Andre’s death a suicide because the Bloomingdale’s employees were one floor below Andre when they told him to stop. Instead, he jumped. Originally, it was reported that Andre, a nursing student at Broward Community College, had been killed in a shooting, according to mourners at the funeral home. A law enforcement official told the Miami Herald that the shooting involved members of several South Florida gangs who were in attendance at his wake Friday night to pay their respects. Andre was not part of a gang himself, the official said. Certain gang members took offense when someone touched Andre’s body in the casket, setting off an argument that spilled out into the street. Members of one gang retrieved an assault rifle and a handgun from a car and opened fire at other gang members in front of the funeral home, a police commander told Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4. Shooting erupted as more than 100 people were gathered outside the funeral home, in the 14900 block of West Dixie Highway, outside the city limits of North Miami. “I was on my way out of the chapel when I heard the shots,“ said A.D. Lenoir, the pastor who officiated at the service. “I told people to look for cover. It was chaos.” Lenoir, 29, said people were screaming, crying and yelling. Several victims were taken to Jackson, and others to local hospitals. The West Dixie Highway corridor has been the scene of several shootings in recent years. In 2007, the owner of a martial arts studio was fatally gunned down in a drive-by.

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Kansas man struck by lightning hours after buying lottery tickets


A Kansas man was struck by lightning hours after buying three Mega Millions lottery tickets on Thursday, proving in real life the old saying that a gambler is more likely to be struck down from the sky than win the jackpot. Bill Isles, 48, bought three tickets in the record $656 million lottery Thursday at a Wichita, Kansas grocery store. On the way to his car, Isles said he commented to a friend: "I've got a better chance of getting struck by lightning" than winning the lottery. Later at about 9:30 p.m., Isles was standing in the back yard of his Wichita duplex, when he saw a flash and heard a boom -- lightning. "It threw me to the ground quivering," Isles said in a telephone interview on Saturday. "It kind of scrambled my brain and gave me an irregular heartbeat." Isles, a volunteer weather spotter for the National Weather Service, had his portable ham radio with him because he was checking the skies for storm activity. He crawled on the ground to get the radio, which had been thrown from his hand. Isles had been talking to other spotters on the radio and called in about the lightning strike. One of the spotters, a local television station intern, called 911. Isles was taken by ambulance to a hospital and kept overnight for observation. Isles said doctors wanted to make sure his heartbeat was back to normal. He suffered no burns or other physical effects from the strike, which he said could have been worse because his yard has a power line pole and wires overhead. "But for the grace of God, I would have been dead," Isles said. "It was not a direct strike." Isles said he had someone buy him ten more tickets to the Mega Millions lottery on Friday night. While one of the three winning tickets was sold in Kansas, Isles was not a winner. Officials of the Mega Millions lottery, which had the largest prize in U.S. history, said that the odds of winning lottery were about 176 million to one. Americans have a much higher chance of being struck by lightning, at 775,000 to one over the course of a year, depending on the part of the country and the season, according to the National Weather Service. Isles, who is out of work after being laid off last June by a furniture store, said he did once win $2,000 in the lottery and will keep playing. "The next time I will use the radio while sitting in the car," he said

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Kevin 'Gerbil' Carroll murder trial

PHOTOGRAPHS of the spot where gangland figure Kevin “Gerbil” Carroll was shot dead were shown to a murder trial jury yesterday. The pictures – shown on day one of the trial – included an image of an Audi with smashed windows. The court was told the car was “subject to a significant degree of examination”. Carroll, 29, was shot in the car park of Asda in Robroyston, Glasgow, in January 2010. Ross Monaghan, 30, has been accused of Carroll’s murder. It is alleged that, while masked and acting with others, Monaghan repeatedly discharged loaded handguns at him, shooting him on the head and body. Monaghan is accused of – while acting with others – attempting to defeat the ends of justice by disposing of a revolver, pistol and ammunition in undergrowth in Coatbridge and Airdrie. It is also claimed a car bearing false number plates was set on fire. Monaghan also faces a number of firearms charges. He denies all the charges against him at the High Court in Glasgow and has incriminated Mr X, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and seven others. The trial, before Lord Brailsford, continues.

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Friday

popular Caribbean dancing style used by adults, known as 'daggering', is sexualising the dance floors of a much younger generation.

 

 Teenagers as young as 11 are modelling sex acts and rape, in the form of daggering, on the dance floor with their peers. Deputy Children's Commissioner Sue Berelowitz said: "there's not a lot separating that kind of behaviour from actual violent, coercive sex." Footage seen by Channel 4 News [see above] shows an under-18s club night in East London. As with all 'under-18s' club nights, everyone is between 11 and 16. Some of the children look much younger. The club is packed. The music: Caribbean dancehall. The dancing style: daggering. It is a style of dancing that any carnival regular will be used to. Aficionados will no doubt, have a more technical description of the style but it mainly involves women bending over and rubbing their backsides up against the men's crotches. During that August weekend in Notting Hill every adult gives it a go. But what's different about this night club is that every child is giving it a go. Spurred on by the DJ, the 'daggering' becomes more enthusiastic, some of it verging on violent. Boys and girls end up on top of each other on the floor simulating sex. Throughout the night someone employed by the club promoter (presumably an adult) is filming it all and uploading it on the club's website via YouTube.

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Tuesday

Dutch activist arrested in Morocco

 

A young Dutch-Moroccan activist was arrested in Morocco on Monday. The Dutch Foreign Ministry has confirmed the detention of Yuba Zalen to Radio Netherlands Worldwide. Mr Zalen is a member of the 20th of February movement, a young protest group inspired by the Arab Spring and calling for greater democracy in Morocco. He was in Morocco to report on the unrest in the northern town of Ait Bouayach, where dozens have been injured in clashes with security forces. Moroccan media are barely reporting on the unrest. Activists say that local internet cafés have also been closed down. The website Amazightimes.com reports that Yuba Zalen is likely to appear in court in the town of Al-Hoceima on Thursday. The Dutch section of the 20th of February movement has called for his immediate release.

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Revolt in the city of Bni Bouayach in the mountainous area of the Northern Rif in Morocco

The city of Bni Bouayach in the mountainous area of the Northern Rif in Morocco has been sealed off since Wednesday, March 8. All the repressive organs of the state, the army, the gendarmerie together with the secret and public police, have joined forces to blockade the small city. The inhabitants live in fear of police terror and the raiding of houses and arrests. Other repressive forces are hunting down activists who fled into the neighbouring mountains to escape arrest. The media black-out is total. This violent intervention is the dictatorship’s response to peaceful demonstrations organised by the young unemployed and the activists of the 20F movement that have been ongoing for many months. The protest is against the generalised lack of jobs and bad social and economic conditions in this marginalised city of the Rif. The regime has used a variety of tactics against the protest movement, from “containment” to targeted repression of the leaders of the action. One activist, Kamal al-Hassani, was killed on October 27th last year, another, Bachir ben Shu'ayb, was abducted and put on trial. His imprisonment and the accusations against him have provoked new protests in the city. National highway Number 2 was blocked and a sit-in was organised in front of the municipal buildings and the National Electricity Company. On March 5 the youth wanted to organise a march (25 km) to the city of Al Hoceima in support of the arrested comrade but the police stopped them. Then on Thursday, March 8, the forces of repression attacked the demonstrators during a sit-in. The police used truncheons, teargas and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators. The masses of this city, known for their fighting traditions and activism, have defended themselves by throwing stones (see this report). Demonstrations have been organised in the main streets leading to clashes in different neighbourhoods. Many people have been injured in those clashes. Fearing arrest, most of them have avoided being treated in the hospitals. Dozens of demonstrators have also been detained. The attack of the repressive forces was ferocious. No-one was spared, not even the women and the children. In seeking out demonstrators, the police entered people’s homes and destroyed the contents or plundered them. They are even hunting down the young activists in the mountains all around the area. Friday the police arrested a group of activists, including Wael Faqih a leader of the unemployed youth association (Association Nationale des Diplômés Chômeurs au Maroc), and Mohammed Jalloul, a teacher in a primary school and also an activist of the 20F movement. This attack against the city of Bni Bouayach is taking place against a background of growing revolt in some cities (such as Taza and Khénifra) that are completely marginalised by the state. These protests are organised by the 20F movement. They reflect the absolute bankruptcy of the system and the lack of alternative. It also shows the real nature of the dictatorship which is not ready to reform itself out of existence.

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Saturday

Mexico Arrests Boss of La Mano con Ojos Gang

 

Mexican authorities have arrested the La Mano con Ojos (The Hand with Eyes) drug gang’s reputed leader, who confessed to ordering the murders of 10 people. The arrest of Marco Antonio Hernandez Garcia was made near the Villa Olimpica neighborhood of southern Mexico City, the capital’s district attorney, Jesus Rodriguez, told reporters. Hernandez Garcia, alias “El Comandante,” who was detained Thursday along with bodyguard Gustavo Moreno Diaz, confessed to ordering the killings of 10 people “whose bodies were mutilated – some incinerated – and abandoned in different parts of the capital,” Rodriguez said. The victims, all decapitated and found with threatening messages alongside them, were suspected rivals involved in the local drug trade, the DA said. The suspect told authorities that he took over leadership of La Mano con Ojos after the arrest last August of Oscar Oswaldo Garcia Montoya, alias “El Compayito,” who confessed to participating directly in 300 homicides and ordering 600 others. La Mano con Ojos operates mainly in the central state of Mexico, which surrounds Mexico City, and is known for using extreme violence against its victims, most of whom have been decapitated. The Mexico City DA’s office will ask a judge to order Hernandez Garcia and Moreno Diaz held in preventive detention for their alleged responsibility in the multiple homicides. Clashes pitting drug cartels against each other and the security forces have claimed more than 50,000 lives in Mexico – according to media tallies – since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon took office and militarized the struggle against the drug gangs.

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Free at last: Longest-serving farang at 'Bangkok Hilton' is checking out

 

Like most prisons, Bang Kwang Central reeks of decay. But the fetidness of the "Bangkok Hilton", as it is known by inmates, is more indicative of the soul of the place than the damp edifices that contain the men. Built in the 1930s to hold 3500, the maximum security prison in Thailand's biggest city now houses about 8000 inmates, who have been sentenced to more than 25 years each, as well as hundreds awaiting the outcome of their pending appeals, or execution. Leg irons provide a means of status identification: new inmates wear theirs for the first three months, whereas those on death row have their shackles permanently welded on. Fates are determined by will or whim -- a royal birthday here, a public holiday there. The stroke of a monarch's pen determines who shall live, die or be released. And in the interim both the panacea for and consequence of not knowing is insanity: the inmate's survival guide. At the time of his arrest for heroin trafficking, South African Alexander (Shani) Krebs was 34 years old. Initially condemned to death, his sentence was commuted to 100 then 40 years. He has not spent a nano-second in a democratic South Africa, having been arrested a day before the elections in 1994. Over the years he earned the tragic reputation of being the longest-serving farang, or foreigner, in Bang Kwang. But on December 5 Thailand's monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, benevolently issued an amnesty of sorts, courtesy of his birthday, to all farangs convicted of drug offences. In Thailand the seventh cycle, or 84th birthday, is a significant milestone for the monarchy and special celebrations are organised for the entire year. For the foreign inmates it means that one-sixth of their sentences has been reduced. For prisoners incarcerated since 1994, like Krebs, it signals an early release. Although most of the 11 convicted South African drug mules in Thailand have been incarcerated for more than 15 years, it is unclear who else will be released with Krebs. And South Africa's department of international relations and co-operation is not providing answers. What is certain, according to his family, is that Krebs will be released on April 22 -- eerily, almost 18 years to the day of his arrest. On Facebook, where a 751-strong support group was established in 2008, Krebs's friends have been relentlessly posting messages of support and daily marking the countdown. "Shani, only 56 days to go ... every day gets brighter. x," writes Sue. "Support our friend in the last steps to victory," says Erwin. There are psychedelic artworks and photo-shopped collages of Krebs on an aeroplane, Krebs giving the thumbs-up, Krebs reunited with his family in Johannesburg. "We wanted Shani to see how much he has been missed and how his loved ones are literally counting the days till he returns," said his sister, Joan Sacks. Since 1994 she has campaigned tirelessly for his release and kept him updated through letters and the occasional five-minute phone calls permitted by the Bang Kwang authorities. Sacks has also set up a website through which prints of his paintings -- Krebs became an accomplished artist during his incarceration -- can be bought. Arrested in Thailand Meeting him in 2009, through a double layer of bars, wire and glass, was akin to staring at the portrait of Dorian Gray. His curly hair had remained youthfully long, his body ripped and his face -- from a distance, at least -- seemed protected from the ravages of age that cleave creases, folds and furrows into the rest of us. He was 49 years old. Krebs wore a crisp white T-shirt and immaculately pressed blue trousers. He had been up most of the night, he said, copiously preparing notes for our first interview. He was charming and cheerful. He refused to divulge details of his incarceration -- the agonising months in solitary confinement, the daily drudge of prison life, the creeping despair that all he might ever do in his life was time. He made no mention of the sweat-soaked bodies crammed into cells measuring six metres by four metres, forced to sleep spoon-like, or the pungency of the open sewerage system, or the cesspool of disease that is Bang Kwang.

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INDONESIAN authorities claim an Australian man arrested this week allegedly carrying 1.1kg of hashish inside his body was couriering for an international drug network.

 

INDONESIAN authorities claim an Australian man arrested this week allegedly carrying 1.1kg of hashish inside his body was couriering for an international drug network. Because the amount exceeds 1kg, Edward Norman Myatt, 54, could face the death penalty if convicted of importing the drug, said I Made Wijaya, chief of Customs at Bali's Ngurah Rai international airport. "We believe he is a courier," Mr Wijaya yesterday told a press conference at which the Ballarat-born suspect was exhibited along with the drugs. "He is covering up information on the network in Indonesia." Speaking later in Denpasar, Gories Mere, chief of the national counter-narcotics agency BNN, said international drug syndicates were supplying illegal drugs into Bali. The trade had been in methamphetamines, Mr Gories said, but now the type of drugs being trafficked was changing. Mr Myatt was taken into custody at the airport on Monday afternoon after arriving from New Delhi via Bangkok. Mr Myatt was under surveillance by 40 officers when the Thai Airways flight landed because his movements had already attracted attention, Mr Wijaya said. Customs officers searched his baggage and clothing at the airport without finding any evidence of drugs, but remained suspicious. Mr Myatt was taken from the airport for a CT scan at a Kuta medical centre, but momentarily escaped the car when stopped in traffic and dived into a swamp near the roadway, Mr Wijaya said. The suspect was quickly caught and the scan later showed "suspicious objects" in his stomach. Mr Wijaya said 71 capsules containing hashish and one with crystal methamphetamines were recovered from Myatt's body over the following four days. The total weight, including packaging, was 1.11kg. The estimated street value of the hashish was Rp661.8 million (about $67,750). Under Section 113 of the Narcotics Law, Mr Wijaya said, "the suspect faces maximum penalty of death" or a prison term between five and 20 years. Mr Myatt, who was carrying Australian and British passports, had an April 4 return ticket to New Delhi. He had visited Bali five times previously. A Customs source said later that Mr Myatt was thought to have been working in Britain recently, but he had changed details of his story several times during questioning. Eleven of the 12 Australians now imprisoned at Bali's Kerobokan jail are serving lengthy terms for drug trafficking. They include Gold Coast woman Schapelle Corby and the Bali Nine heroin smuggling convicts. Two of the Bali Nine, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, have been sentenced to death and their last resort is an appeal for presidential clemency to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Sydney man Michael Sacatides was arrested at Ngurah Rai on October 1, 2010, with 1.7kg of methamphetamines concealed in his luggage. Sacatides was last year sentenced to 18 years' jail.

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Wednesday

Gang murdered drug dealer then blew up his house

 

Drugs gang executed one of their dealer's and then blew up his house to cover-up the murder, a court heard this afternoon. Colliston Edwards, 38, of no fixed address and Andre Johnson, 25, also of no fixed address are accused of shooting Leroy Burnett, 43, after he kept back some of their money from drugs deals. Max Walter, 21, of no fixed address was then recruited by the pair to blow-up his house in Crichton Road, Battersea the Old Bailey heard. Mr Burnett was allegedly a low level drug supplier, who dealt drugs in Wandsworth Road and the Nine Elms area on behalf of Edwards. Edwards, whose street name is Lousy, was allegedly a drug dealer who commuted between Doncaster and South London and worked in a team with Johnson, known as Tallman. The court heard that Lousy had two mobile phones and gave out the numbers to his customers, travelling to their homes to sell the drugs. He allegedly expected Mr Burnett to carry out sales and look after his phones whilst he was away in Doncaster, but problems arose when Mr Burnett started miscounting money owed to him. Prosecuting, Aftab Jaffbrjee said: "There was simply no reason other than this pernicious deed of drugs supply to cost Leroy his life. Ads by Google Build Eco Friendly Visit us Today for Carbon Reduction Eco Tips for Construction Industry! www.CutCarbon.info Election Boundary Changes Constituencies are changing. Have your say on our report, Autumn 2013 independent.gov.uk/boundarychanges "He was executed in his home having been shot in the head at point blank range. There was nothing else that accounted in his life for such a brutal attack. "Walter then blew up the entire house causing destruction to the building and the street." Edwards and Johnson are both on trial for joint enterprise of murder and intending to pervert the course of justice. They deny having anything to do with the murder or the cover-up. Walter has pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice and arson, but denies being reckless as to whether life was endangered. The trial which opened this afternoon is expected to last six weeks.

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Saturday

One in seven Cambridge students 'has sold drugs to help pay their way through university'

 

One in seven Cambridge students is  dealing drugs to help pay their way through university, according to a survey. It found many claim that they have been forced to sell illegal substances to friends to make ends meet as they study. And it revealed nearly two-thirds admitted taking drugs, with cannabis the most  popular substance.

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Wednesday

Violent gangs are deeply entrenched in Spanish Town, just west of Kingston, and in some residential sections of the northwestern parish of St. James, which includes the resort city of Montego Bay.

 

 Fighting between the gangs for control of drug trafficking and extortion rackets has long been blamed for the majority of Jamaica’s homicides. Police Commissioner Owen Ellington said at a news conference with Bunting that much of the security forces’ resources are now focused on trying to contain 42 active gang conflicts. Ellington told reporters that the Shower Posse gang, which was controlled by convicted drug kingpin Christopher “Dudus” Coke from his slum stronghold of Tivoli Gardens, has been significantly hobbled since his capture in June 2010 but remains an active gang in West Kingston. Bunting said Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller’s nearly two-month-old government intends to fast-track anti-gang legislation and is crafting a new security policy meant to reduce crime to “First World levels” by 2017, when he hopes to have a maximum of just 321 killings. A U.N. study on the Caribbean released earlier this month said Jamaica has had the world’s third-highest murder rate over the past decade, with about 60 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. Jamaica loses some $529 million a year due to crime, according to the report. Last year, Jamaica had 1,125 slayings, a roughly 22 percent drop from the 1,442 killings in 2010. A record 1,683 people were killed in 2009. Bunting said a major goal is to target gang kingpins and facilitators for organized criminal networks, not the people lower down the chain. Many of those arrested in previous years have been underlings who had little connection to gang leadership. Such workers are easily replaced. “We don’t always want to be chasing out the symptoms, we want to get to the infection,” he told reporters at the prime minister’s offices. Bunting intends to create a task force to identify and arrest crime facilitators, such as accountants, real estate brokers, lawyers and corrupt public officials. He also hopes to give courts greater power to seize their assets. He also said Jamaican society must undergo “mental reconditioning” to encourage more people to report crimes. Those who live in Jamaica’s slums are deeply distrustful of the police and authorities, and an anti-informant culture is widespread.

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Bolivian minibus gang murdered up to 69 people on their way to work

 

Police in Bolivia are blaming a gang for a spate of early morning murders in Bolivia where people have been strangled on minibuses while heading into work. Up to 69 people have been killed and dozens more were left for dead in El Alto, a working class city of one million people on an arid plateau above Bolivia's capital, La Paz. "This kind of assault came about because people, by necessity, take whatever transport they can get," said Felix Rocha, chief of Bolivia's police. Gang members would ride the buses posing as passengers, police said. After their victims had boarded, they were strangled with a rope or scarf and stripped of valuables that often amounted to little more than a mobile phone and the clothes on their backs. A 64-year-old man who said he survived an attack by the gang, recounted leaving his house at 4am on 5 February on his way to the bank where he collects his monthly pension. He said he boarded what he thought was a public transit minibus and as usual, his 25-cent fare was collected by "a cholita," or indigenous woman. "They had me sit in the front and suddenly I felt a scarf tightening around my neck. I fought back but they hit me in the ribs and face and I fell unconscious," said the man, who asked to be identified only by first name, Macario, because he fears for his safety. "I woke up later in a dumpster," Macario added. Gone was his mobile phone and the equivalent of £35 in the local currency. Police last week announced the arrest of eight alleged members of the gang, ranging in age from 30 to 45 and including a woman, Yuli Gutierrez Jimenez. Rocha said police seized four 14-seat minibuses used by the gang. Most of the killings occurred between 4am and 6am, when public transport is relatively scarce and only 400 police are on duty in the entire city, which is mostly unpaved and where many neighbourhoods lack running water and electricity. The gang is believed to have killed 69 people whose bodies have been found over the past 13 months, said Rocha, though prosecutor Santos Valencia said investigators are still trying to determine if the group was responsible for all those deaths. More than 70 people told police they had survived attacks after recognising gang members in local media reports, Rocha said. Other such gangs are known to exist, but the minibus gang seems to have been the best organised and most methodical, he added. Its alleged leader, Julio Edwin Valdez, 33, was arrested last week. Also captured was Galo Mamani, the bus's driver. Prosecutors said the two face murder charges but offered few other details. Valencia told reporters that police found wallets and the clothes of victims in the homes of those detained. Authorities did not say how they tracked down the alleged criminals. Rocha said police were investigating whether the group was also involved in the recent murders of several taxi drivers whose vehicles were stolen after the drivers were strangled.

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Friday

Canadian Admits to Drug Smuggling Charge in NJ

Canadian man captured at Newark Liberty International Airport last year has admitted smuggling more than 800 grams of cocaine into the United States from Costa Rica. Twenty-four-year-old Azariah Wilson faces up to 40 years in federal prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to a complaint charging him with knowingly and intentionally importing 500 grams or more of cocaine. He’ll be sentenced May 2. Prosecutors say Wilson ingested 56 pellets of cocaine — nearly 883 grams overall — before boarding a flight from Costa Rica to Newark in June. He had planned to fly from Newark to Ottawa, but never made that flight.

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Tuesday

An unflinching look at drugs

 

From the farm fields and jungle labs where drugs such as crack cocaine, ecstasy and hashish get their start to the front-door steps where recreational users and addicts alike have their drugs delivered, National Geographic Channel (channel 260) explores the world of Drugs Inc. The series premieres on the channel at 9pm today and includes eight unflinching new episodes that examine the business of illegal narcotics production. Drugs Inc goes inside the world of producers, traffickers, dealers, users, doctors and cops with first-person perspectives on what keeps this business in motion. It also investigates relative newcomers such as ketamine and oxycontin – designer drugs for the 21st century – and the covert industry of grand theft auto, which provides cartels with stolen vehicles customised for smuggling. Worth an estimated R1.28 trillion, the business of Drugs Inc fuels crime and violence like no other substance on the planet, turning cartel leaders into billionaires. The illegal drug industry also provides vital income to hundreds of thousands of poor workers across the globe. While some users sacrifice their lives to an addiction they can’t escape, others find drugs to be their only saving grace from physical or emotional pain almost impossible to overcome. Where should the lines be drawn in this hugely lucrative industry? The series looks at hallucinogens, once hailed as a panacea. Psychedelic drugs are at the centre of an underground movement experimenting with mind-altering substances as they explore a possible new medical frontier. Deep in the Amazon, Rob, a Wall Street broker-turned-healer, has created a free clinic of sorts, administering a highly potent narcotic known as ayahuasca to patients desperate to escape powerful trauma. Taking on others’ stress releases Rob’s own demons and a shaman must step in as Rob’s trip spirals dangerously out of control. Dimitri, a former heroin addict, helps drug users to overcome addiction by using a controversial hallucinogen called ibogaine, and encounters dangerous side effects in the process. Turning to the power of mushrooms, one family man suffering from cluster headaches contemplated suicide before finding relief in this psychedelic trip, and a Swiss physician uses LSD to help ease terminal patients’ fear of death. The deadly and addictive drug crack cocaine is the subject of another episode in which users will do anything to get their hands on it. Addicts Jeff and Alexis are desperate for its intense high – turning to burglary, drug dealing and even prostitution. Smuggling hashish from the remote Moroccan Riff Mountains to the streets of Europe is a dirty, dangerous and deadly business. A former British gangster serves as guide into this illicit underworld, visiting a secret hash-making location nestled in the mountains. The smugglers use everything from hidden car compartments to donkeys, skis and drug mules. Their aim is to be as inconspicuous as possible – and to make it out alive. Facing off at the front line of Europe’s war on drugs, customs agents near Gibraltar seize 100kg of hashish, but the huge haul barely scratches the surface. From Spain, smugglers like “Billy” strap blocks of hash to their bodies and board flights to London and European cities. While smugglers take great risks, for some users, getting the drugs is as easy as walking into a coffee shop. But despite this easy access, users still pay a heavy price – as seen at a local youth psychiatric clinic in Holland. Ecstasy marks another trail. Dubbed as Christmas morning in a pill and penicillin for the soul, ecstasy’s euphoric high is said to come with major lows. Ravers have died from it and organised crime gangs will kill for it. One of the biggest ecstasy traffickers shares how he dominated the ecstasy smuggling world, and a high-level ecstasy distributor in California outlines smuggling strategies for the 21st century. Drugs Inc joins all the dots in this fascinating and disturbing network.

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Saturday

Judge Jesus Chavez ruled that Sandra Avila Beltran would face the same charges in Florida on which she was acquitted in Mexico

 

 Chavez said the core of a 2004 indictment against Avila in the Southern District of Florida is the seizure of more than nine tons of U.S.-bound cocaine on Mexico’s west coast. A Mexican judge acquitted Avila in December 2010 of charges stemming from the same confiscation of drugs off a vessel nine years earlier in the port of Manzanillo. An appeals court upheld that verdict last August. “It is impossible to say the actions related to the more than nine tons of cocaine discovered in the vessel would not be subject of the foreign trial for which U.S. officials seek the defendant,” Chavez said, according to a news statement. In the U.S., Avila was indicted on two conspiracy charges to import and distribute cocaine and has been wanted since November 2007, two months after her arrest in Mexico. The judge said Mexico’s constitution prohibits double jeopardy and thus prevents extraditing a citizen for trial in another country on charges they already faced at home. Officials from the Foreign Relations Department and Mexican Attorney General’s office declined to comment, saying they were studying the decision. Both can contest it, but the next outcome by an appeals court would be final. A Mexican appeals panel rejected a first U.S. extradition request on the same grounds. Avila remains in a western Mexico prison in the state of Nayarit, pending trial for a separate money-laundering charge. Mexican officials did not reveal her lawyer’s identity. Avila has claimed she is innocent and says she made her money selling clothes and renting houses. When she was arrested in 2007 sipping coffee in a Mexico City diner, prosecutors alleged that Avila spent more than a decade working her way to the top of Mexico’s drug trade, seducing several notorious kingpins and uniting Colombian and Mexican gangs. Avila’s romance with Colombian Juan Diego Espinoza Ramirez brought together Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa cartel with Colombia’s Norte del Valle, prosecutors said. Espinoza was extradited to Florida in December 2008, two years before he was found not guilty on charges in Mexico related to the cocaine shipment. Avila is the niece of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, “the godfather” of Mexican drug smuggling who is serving a 40-year sentence in Mexico for trafficking and the murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena in Mexico’s western Jalisco state. ___

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Thursday

Thornton Heath man in South American jail after being caught with £20k of coke

 

A young man has been jailed in South America for attempting to traffic drugs just three weeks after sneaking out of his Thornton Heath home without telling his mother. Former Stanley Technical School pupil, Nishit Patel, 21, left his home in Attlee Close, in secret on Christmas Day before flying 4,500 miles to Guyana. The next time his mum, part-time Tesco worker Amita, heard from him was on January 3 phoning from a Guyanese jail after being caught boarding a plane with 29 pellets of cocaine worth more than £20,000 inside him. On Monday, January 9, he was sentenced to four years in jail after he admitted drug trafficking. He was also fined $30,000 Guyanese dollars, about £95. Mrs Patel, 46, said she last saw her son, who changed his name to Nikesh after being teased at school, after lunch on Christmas Day. She said: “I came home and he had bags packed. I asked if he was leaving and he said no. I never know where he is going, he tells me nothing. “I didn’t even know where Guyana was. I asked why did you do it, and he said for the money.” On December 31 Guyana’s Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) at Cheddi Jagan International Airport saw Patel acting suspiciously and arrested him. Dennis Mahase a senior supervisor with CANU said Patel, who has spent his whole life in Croydon, missed his earlier flight home and was picked up by officials while he waited. He said: “When the officials began questioning him he complained about feeling unwell. After further question he admitted swallowing the pellets.” Taken to Woodlands Hospital in Georgetown, the country’s capital, Patel, was x-rayed and the pellets, containing 352 grams of the drug with a street value of around £20,000, were found. Mr Mahase added: “He admitted to us he had done this before in November and got away with it.” Mrs Patel said Nishit went off the rails after his grandparents and father died in quick succession four years ago. She said: “He was such a good boy. Very caring. It changed him. A son listens to his father but to his mother, not so much. It was very hard.” The family will now fight to have him extradited to the UK. She said: “I want to be able to see him. I know he has done wrong but he is my son. I have no idea what a jail out there is like.” A foreign office spokesman said: “We can confirm the arrest of a British national on December 31 in Guyana. “We are providing consular assistance.”

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Wednesday

Once powerful Mexican drug lord Benjamin Arellano Felix pleaded guilty in a U.S. federal court on Wednesday to drug trafficking, racketeering and money laundering charges

 

. Arellano Felix, 58, was the head of the feared Tijuana cartel run by his brothers and operated on the Mexico-U.S. border near San Diego until his capture in Mexico in early 2002. He was extradited to the United States last April, and prosecutors said his guilty plea marked the demise of the violent cartel that dominated smuggling on the California-Mexico border in the 1980s and 1990s. "Arellano Felix led the most violent criminal organization in this part of the world for two decades. Today's guilty plea marks the end of his reign of murder, mayhem and corruption," U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said. "His historic admission of guilt sends a clear message to the Mexican cartel leaders operating today: The United States will spare no effort to investigate, extradite and prosecute you for your criminal activities," she added. As part of a 17-page plea agreement, Arellano Felix admitted smuggling tons of cocaine and marijuana into California and conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars. He also agreed to forfeit $100 million in profits under the plea deal, which is expected to land him 25 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on April 2. "It was a favorable deal to my client who faced a minimum of 40 years and a maximum of 140 years under the extradition agreement," defense attorney Anthony Colombo Jr. said. CARTEL A SHADOW OF FORMER SELF President Barack Obama's administration has worked closely with Mexican President Felipe Calderon in his army-led battle to crush warring drug gangs in a conflict that has claimed more than 46,000 lives since late 2006. At the height of his power in the 1990s, Arellano Felix smuggled hundreds of millions of dollars in narcotics through a 100-mile wide corridor stretching from Tijuana, south of San Diego, to Mexicali, south of Calexico. But after the death and capture of many of its leaders over the past decade, including three of Benjamin Arellano Felix's brothers, the Tijuana cartel, also known as the Arellano Felix Organization, is a shadow of its former self. Arellano Felix's brother Ramon, the cartel's flamboyant enforcer, died in a shoot-out in 2002. Francisco Javier is serving a life sentence in U.S. federal prison after being captured on a fishing boat in 2006, and Eduardo is in jail in Mexico awaiting extradition. With the downfall of the Arellano Felix brothers, the rival Sinaloa cartel run by Mexico's most-wanted man, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, has largely taken over the cartel's valuable turf in Tijuana. Appearing before U.S. District Judge Larry Burns at the hearing, Arellano Felix was neatly groomed and dressed in an orange jumpsuit. He said he took medication for migraine headaches, but when asked by the judge if it affected his decision to plead, he replied, "no." Among the former kingpins serving time in U.S. jails is former Gulf cartel leader Osiel Cardenas, who was extradited to the United States by Mexico in 2007 and is serving a 25-year sentence in Texas without chance of parole.

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Drug smuggling bid foiled

 

Customs at the airport foiled an attempt by one Egyptian expatriate arriving from Cairo to smuggle 1,000 narcotic pills into the country. The concerned officers said the suspect had kept the contraband hidden in his shoes when they discovered it. He has since been handed over to Drug Prosecution. In a statement following discovery of the illicit drug, the Director General of Customs Ibrahim Al-Ghanim commended efforts exerted by customs men to uncover complicated smuggling cases.

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Drug smuggling compartment specialist sentenced to 24 years

A California man who specialized in building secret compartments in vehicles used to smuggle drugs received a 24-year sentence in what prosecutors said was one of the first cases against a specialist who worked for drug dealers but didn’t directly handle the drugs. Alfred Anaya, 40, a native of San Fernando, CA, was sentenced to 292 months in federal prison and forfeiture of $3.2 million. Anaya, said a Jan. 6 statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas, operated in the state. “Evidence showed the defendant installed sophisticated hidden compartments in dozens of vehicles,” said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom. “He knew he was working for drug traffickers.” Anaya was convicted on one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, as well as methamphetamine and marijuana, and two counts of attempting to intimidate a witness, said the statement. Convicted in the case along with Anaya were James Clark, 29, of Overland Park, KS, who was given a sentence identical to Anaya’s on the same charges. Curtis Crow, 30, of Leawood, KS, was sentenced to 147 months on conspiracy and drug distribution charges. Anaya and Clark were convicted in Feb. 2011 and Crow pleaded guilty, said the statement. Prosecutors showed the men were members of a California-based drug trafficking organization that operated a drug distribution center in Kansas between 2008 and 2009 that distributed cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana in Kansas and Missouri. Prosecutors also presented evidence that Anaya installed secret compartments including a 20-kilogram compartment in a Ford F-150, a 10-kilogram compartment in a Honda Ridgeline, a 3-kilogram compartment in a Toyota Camry and a 10-kilogram compartment in a Toyota Sequoia.

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Tuesday

Mexico: Reporter Gunned Down In Los Zetas Stronghold

 

Raúl Régulo Garza Quirino, a reporter for the weekly La Última Palabra in Cadereyta, in the northeastern state of Nuevo León, became the first Mexican journalist to be killed in 2012 when he was gunned down after a car chase on 6 January. Garza was also a Cadereyta municipal employee. “We hope the number of Mexican journalists killed in the space of a decade does not reach the grim total of 100 in 2012, an election year,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Mexico could prevent this from happening by taking measures to combat impunity for those responsible for violent crime against journalists. “That was the message that we and the Centre for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET) tried to transmit when we gave the families of slain and disappeared journalists a platform in the capital on 10 December. “The current show of good intentions by the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE) and its head, Gustavo Salas Chávez, must be rapidly translated into reinforcement of its personnel and clarification of its jurisdiction. If the senate approves the bill that the lower house adopted on 11 November making attacks on freedom of information a federal crime, the FEADLE must have enough resources to handle all these cases.” Garza was driving his car near his home when he found himself being pursued by gunmen in another car. He was gunned down when he tried to seek refuge in a garage owned by relatives. Sixteen impacts from 16 mm bullets were found at the scene. Investigators have so far not suggested any motive for the murder. Located 37 km from Monterrey, the state capital, Cadereyta is home to one of northern Mexico’s biggest oil refineries and is rife with contraband in stolen petroleum products as well as drug trafficking. It is a stronghold of Los Zetas, a paramilitary group that worked for the Gulf Cartel before becoming an independent criminal organization. A total of 38 employees of the state oil company PEMEX have been reported missing in the region in recent months. It was in this area that radio journalist Marco Aurelio Martínez Tirejina was kidnapped and killed in July 2010 in a still unsolved murder. According to the Reporters Without Borders tally, 80 journalists have been killed in the past decade and 14 others have disappeared. Most of these killings have gone unpunished.

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Wednesday

Alex "Reds" Rivera, a suspected drug kingpin who once kept a petting zoo of farm animals in his Kensington neighborhood, has been convicted of heading a narcotics network

 

Alex "Reds" Rivera, a suspected drug kingpin who once kept a petting zoo of farm animals in his Kensington neighborhood, has been convicted of heading a narcotics network that for years distributed heroin and cocaine along North Lawrence Street and West Indiana Avenue. A federal jury handed up its verdict Monday night, capping a two-week trial that included testimony from several of Rivera's top associates, dozens of secretly recorded conversations, and surveillance and law enforcement reports of controlled drug buys from Rivera and others. In his closing argument to the jury, Assistant U.S. Attorney David L. Axelrod, one of the prosecutors in the case, described the businesslike nature of the Rivera operation, which he said was selling about $18,000 worth of crack cocaine a week for a four-year period beginning in 2006. Rivera, 29, whom Axelrod described as the "boss" of the operation, faces a mandatory life sentence. He was convicted on charges of drug dealing and conspiracy tied to a narcotics network that prosecutors alleged "owned" several blocks of an open-air drug market in North Philadelphia. His wife, Ileana Vidal, 25, was convicted of related drug offenses and faces 10 years in prison. U.S. District Court Judge Juan R. Sanchez has scheduled Rivera's sentencing for Feb. 29. Vidal is scheduled to be sentenced March 2. The jury deliberated for about five hours before announcing its verdict, which came less than two weeks after the trial began Nov. 18. Testimony included accounts of how Rivera would order associates to beat and assault anyone who tried to sell drugs within his Kensington territory. Daniel Cortez, a top Rivera lieutenant who pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with authorities, testified about how, on Rivera's orders, he had kidnapped and tortured a man who owed money to the drug organization. Cortez was one of 15 codefendants in the case who pleaded guilty before trial. The case was developed through a joint investigation by the FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department through the Violent Gangs Safe Street Task Force. Rivera, short and stocky with tattooed arms and bushy red hair and a beard, was well-known in the neighborhood and in law enforcement circles as a major player in the drug underworld. He was featured in a 2008 BBC documentary called Law and Disorder in Philadelphia. In the documentary, he denied he was involved in drugs, but told a BBC reporter, "Sometimes you do what you got to do to survive." 

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Danilo "Triste" Velasquez and two fellow MS-13 gang members blocked the way of a car carrying four people near the Daly City BART station before opening fire with semi-automatic handguns

 

The leader of a street gang was convicted by a federal jury Tuesday in connection with the shooting death of a college student, who the killers mistakenly believed was a rival, officials said. Danilo "Triste" Velasquez and two fellow MS-13 gang members blocked the way of a car carrying four people near the Daly City BART station before opening fire with semi-automatic handguns, officials said. When the shooting ended on Feb. 19, 2009, Moises Frias, 21, was dead and two others were wounded. Velasquez was convicted of three counts of conspiracy and a gun charge in San Francisco federal court, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. When he is sentenced Feb. 14, Velasquez faces a mandatory term of 10 years behind bars. Velasquez and his associates targeted the car because one of Frias' companions wore a red sweater and another a red-and-white San Francisco 49ers hat. Red is the color claimed by the shooters' rivals, officials said. None of the victims had any ties to street gangs. "In a hail of gunfire, Mr. Velasquez and his co-conspirators killed and wounded four unarmed individuals -- all in the name of MS-13," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. Co-defendant and fellow MS-13 member, Luis "Killer" Herrera already has pleaded guilty to related charges. He faces a 35-year mandatory term Advertisement when sentenced Jan. 24. Jaime Balam, the other shooting suspect, remains at-large. Federal prosecutors say the killing was part of a string of shootings carried out by or at the order of Velasquez. He assumed leadership after a number of gang leaders were indicted in 2008. The victims in the other shootings survived their wounds. Prosecutors say the only reason more people didn't die in the attack that left Frias dead was because Velasquez's gun repeatedly jammed. Witnesses testified at the four-week trial that Frias begged for his life before he was shot nine times by Balam, including a wound to the head.

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The top five members of a violent criminal street gang centered around West 137th Street in Central Harlem, are heading to prison.

 

 Leader Jaquan Layne, 21, was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison; his brother, Jahlyl Layne, 18, who oversaw sales of crack cocaine, was sentenced to 7½ to 23½ years in prison; Jonathan Hernandez, 19, convicted of a gang-related shooting, was sentenced to 15 years and 2 months to 17 years and 4 months in prison; Habiyb Mohammed, 31, who packaged the crack cocaine, was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison; and Jeffrey Brown, 20, who sold the crack cocaine, was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. “The defendants derailed their lives and the lives of the teens they recruited to join their criminal operation, but the damage they inflicted upon these young people and their surrounding community does not have to be permanent,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.. “The sentences imposed were fair and thoughtful. For some of the 14 defendants in this case, the sentences are not merely punitive – they also make use of alternatives to incarceration and set achievable benchmarks for particular defendants, such as graduating from high school and staying off drugs and out of trouble. On October 20, 2011, a jury in State Supreme Court convicted the defendants – members of crews known as “2 Mafia Family” (2MF or 2DEEP) and “Goons on Deck” (G.O.D) – on charges related to the running of a profitable crack cocaine operation between June 2008 and February 2011. In addition to the possession and sale of crack cocaine, the defendants conspired to possess semiautomatic handguns, revolvers and ammunition in order to maintain their dominance of the geographic area centered on West 137th Street between Lenox and Seventh Avenues, and to discourage incursions by rival street gangs. With this verdict, all 14 defendants who were indicted on related charges have been convicted.

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Mexico army seizes Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman drug lord's $15 million

 

Mexico's army seized nearly $15.4 million from the organization of the country's most powerful drug lord, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, officials said Tuesday, marking a rare financial blow to cartels. The seizure was revealed the same day U.S. border police revealed the third discovery in a week of drug-smuggling tunnel under the border with Mexico. In Mexico, the military said it found the cash was found in a vehicle on Nov. 18 in the northern border city of Tijuana and that it was linked to Guzman's operations. The haul marked the second-largest cash seizure by the military since President Felipe Calderon sent the country's armed forces out to battle drug cartels in 2006, the statement said. Some $26 million was captured in September 2008 in Culiacan, the capital of Guzman's home state of Sinaloa. Only on msnbc.com 'Grateful to be alive': Teen rescues woman from fire Mexicans cross US border to sell their plasma Chinese consumers say: Fix this fridge or sledgehammers coming Black Friday 'flash mobs,' sit-ins urged Look out kids, here comes the 'Wolf Daddy' Move to ban alleged insider trading faces pitfalls Will Gingrich's comments haunt him? About 45,000 people have died in the conflict in the last five years and the government has captured or killed dozens of top level drug smugglers.

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Tuesday

Latin Kings charged in Texas slaying

 

Fifteen members of the Almighty Latin Kings have been indicted for alleged roles in 19 murders, including slayings of juveniles and a pregnant woman. One of the murders was in Big Spring, Texas, according to the indictment, made public Friday. The murders were done to control gang territory and further their illegal activities, according to the U.S. Justice Department. The indictment also alleges that two Chicago police officers robbed people for the gang, sometimes while in uniform, the Sun-Times reported. Several Latin King members already had been convicted in connection with a 2008 drive-by shooting in Big Spring where six people were shot with an AK-47.  The victims included a woman who was 26 weeks pregnant at the time. She and another victim died of their wounds, the department reported.

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Devastating report into the failures of police and care agencies to protect teenage girls who have been groomed, raped and sold by male gangs, most of whom are Asian.


The mother of one teenager from Leeds, who attempted suicide after a gang rape, said her daughter was the victim of a 'broken system.'

'Everyone failed her,' she told The Times. 'There was no sharing of information. 

'They (police) had the names and knew where they (abusers) worked yet the men who did this have never once been arrested or spoken to by the police.'

West Yorkshire Police vowed to look again at the case to see if 'there is evidence that can help bring evil men to book'.

Growing worry: CCTV footage shows now jailed gang members Mohammed Romaan Liaqat and Abid Mohammed Saddique meeting girls as they cruise the streets of Derby in a BMW

Growing worry: CCTV footage shows now jailed gang members Mohammed Romaan Liaqat and Abid Mohammed Saddique meeting girls as they cruise the streets of Derby in a BMW

Jailed: Saddique, left, and Liaqat, right, were leaders of the paedophile ring in Derby and committed a catalogue of offences against vulnerable young girls
Jailed: Saddique, left, and Liaqat, right, were leaders of the paedophile ring in Derby and committed a catalogue of offences against vulnerable young girls

Jailed: Saddique, left, and Liaqat, right, were leaders of the paedophile ring in Derby and committed a catalogue of offences against vulnerable young girls

Children's charity Barnardos has been calling on the Government to take action on child exploitation since January with its Cut Them Free campaign.

 

 

 

Other caregivers have also suggested that political sensitivities are to blame for a near paralysis of the systems designed to keep children safe.

JOSIE'S STORY

A silhouette of a teenage girl on white background with a mobile phone


Like most little girls, Josie lived for horses. She had an exemplary school record with 100 per cent attendance rate.

But at 13, the teen from Keighley, West Yorkshire, was given a laptop and quickly became addicted to Facebook.

Her father was then warned his daughter was spending a lot of time with older Asian men.

One even told the father he would 'slit his throat' when he answered the phone to him.

From there it got worse. Josie started disappearing overnight and began drinking. 

Yet, when her father locked his daughter in her room to protect her, it was he who got into trouble with the police for false imprisonment.

He told The Times he has since collected every scrap of evidence to prove his daughter is being sexually exploited by gangs.

'The police kept saying that they're waiting until Josie realises it's wrong,' he said.

'Is that really the best they can do?

CHARLOTTE'S STORY

Rear view of a woman silhouetted against window light.


When the father of 14-year-old Charlotte looked at his daughter's Facebook profile, he discovered 'loads of male, Asian friends.'

Concerned, he started to restrict his daughter's activities. The teen from Keighley, West Yorkshire, then went to live with her mother.

He tracked down all the names and addresses of her friends he believed were involved and passed them on to police.

Meanwhile her school was reporting Charlotte had begun arriving looking 'dirty and extremely thin'. 

She was going missing for days at a time, according to agency notes.

By October last year she 'admitted she has slept with different Asian males.'

The police told Charlotte's father they hoped to take action against the men.

That was 17 months ago and he is still waiting.

'There's no will to deal with this issue in Keighley' he said.

'What chance have these kids got if that's the attitude of the police?'

There is a culture 'which assumes that once a girl gets to 14 she's beyond hope of intervention - it's too late,' a source told The Times.

Police and care agencies often say that they cannot take action against suspects without the victim's co-operation. 

However, a 2008 protocol established by the force and West Yorkshire's five local authorities states: 'Adults involved in child sexual exploitation... should be treated as child sex abusers and subjected to the full rigour of the criminal law.'

NICOLA'S STORY

A pregnant woman silhouetted against a set of blinds.


Nicola is the only case in six who was groomed by a gang of white men. 

The abuse began when she was 12 after a visit to Leeds from her family home in Bradford.

Nicola had thought they were 'really nice people' but by 13 she was doing drugs - 'everything but heroin'.

She was raped twice. The first time she was 'drugged up to the eyeballs' and remembers being dragged into a bedroom and gang raped.

Afterwards her mother took Nicola to the police station, only to be told that 'we don't deal with that here'.

In desperation Nicola's mother took her daughter to New Zealand and away from the gang.

She let her return four months later. 

Nicola did return to her old haunts but discovered it wasn't really what she wanted.

'I used to think it was so exciting,' she told The Times. 'But after New Zealand, it was like seeing them with another pair of eyes.'

She hasn't been back since.

Children's minister, Tim Loughton, suggested two weeks ago that the plan will call on councils to act with a 'much greater urgency' to identify victims of sexual exploitation while taking 'robust action against those who commit these appalling crimes.'

As well as the gang rape case of the girl in Leeds, five new cases have been highlighted by The Times' investigation.

No one has been prosecuted for sex exploitation in any of them. Only one of the girls in the six cases had been in care. 

One was groomed by white students, but in all the other cases, the perpetrators were Asian, mostly of Pakistani origin.

This pattern of abuse at the hands of male Asian gangs in the West Yorkshire area has been highlighted before, but never formally acknowledged.  

In January the Asian ringleaders of a gang in Derby, who brought a ‘reign of terror’ to a city’s streets, targeting and grooming young girls for horrific sexual abuse, were jailed.

Abid Saddique and Mohammed Liaqat were told they would serve a minimum of 11 years and eight years respectively before they could be considered for release.

A DfE spokesman refused to reveal the contents of the National Action Plan but said: 'We are publishing an action plan this week and that will draw on work around the country to prevent sexual exploitation, identify those at risk and support victims.

'It will address the challenge of securing prosecutions and the need for robust action against perpetrators.



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