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Monday, 31 October 2011

Welcome to Oculto Café – Cordoba’s infamous Satanic saloon.

 

GLASSES shoot across tabletops, busty vamps serve blood-red cocktails, and twisted locals raise a toast to an image of Aleister Crowley. Welcome to Oculto Café – Cordoba’s infamous Satanic saloon. The bar is situated in a maze of narrow, winding streets in the ancient ‘Old Town’ district. Stepping outside for a Marlboro, I scan my surroundings. It’s a chilly, moonlit night and the streets are deserted. Strain your ears, however, and you’ll hear muffled voices coming from dark balconies. It’s like a scene from Interview with the Vampire. As I re-enter, the room falls silent. A cross-eyed chap stares at me… well, I think it’s me… it’s hard to tell. Had my gothic guy-liner run, or had he caught a whiff of fresh meat? In this insular atmosphere, I feel as welcome as Gary Glitter at Tivoli World! Forget fruit machines and pool tables, it’s ouija boards and tarot cards that keep these punters amused. A little weakened, I seize a newspaper and hide in the corner. Alongside ads for ‘Black Angels’ and ‘Colombian Swallowers’, the classifieds are swarming with clairvoyants. I’m shocked! Isn’t Spain supposed to be a God-fearing country? But the truth is, up until the Inquisition (1478), Iberia was a hotbed of magic and sorcery. With the coming of Catholicism, however, mystics – including ‘witches’ and ‘healers’ were round-up and executed. For survival’s sake, Spaniards severed their ties with the ‘other side.’ Today, however, there is growing evidence that Spain is returning to its supernatural roots. Church-going is down (just 14.4%), and stories of Satanism are everywhere. In March 2011, an Almerian church was littered with satanic scrawls. Investigators claimed that the site had been used for a “black mass.” Tenerife’s Arona Cemetery has also been targeted by sinister cults. In 2008, graves were desecrated and animals sacrificed during “bizarre nocturnal rituals”. For sceptics, it’s easy to blame rebellious youth or drug-addicts for these atrocities. However, as someone who’s experienced dark forces – first hand – I try to keep an open mind. It all started in 2001 when I was filming a documentary at Devon’s Berry Pomeroy. In the castle grounds, I indivertibly captured an inhuman figure on camera.  Whilst replaying the footage to BBC colleagues, the office computers went wild. In 2009, I moved my family to a 15th century cottage on the West Pennine Moors. Unbeknown to us, our ‘dream house’ was built on a Quaker burial site. During our six-month stay – we endured stamping noises, icy chills and orbs zipping round the lounge. At night, the constant thumping would deprive us of sleep, and we’d trudge into work like a couple of zombies. However, my most recent spooking occurred right here in Andalucia. One evening, I watched a can of Asturiana cider move sideways, hover and then drop off the table! Earlier that day, an old drinking buddy had been buried in Devon – was this his final ‘chin-chin’? Whatever it was, it scared the bejesus out of my missus and she hasn’t slept properly since. Two weeks on, and we’re sitting in Oculto, trying not to blush at orgy paintings. After some Dutch courage, I enquire about a séance at the bar. A black-toothed midget points towards a battered wooden door. Timidly, I wander down the corridor and knock on wood. It’s opened by a raven-haired gypsy. She’s both beautiful and grotesque: Penelope Cruz’s mum meets the Bride of Chucky. Without speaking – she beckons me in with a long, black talon. With low ceilings, purple walls and an absence of windows – the room is claustrophobic and unsettling. Under flickering candlelight, the Victorian death portraits seem to eyeball you from the walls. But it’s the cold air and fetid stench that’s really sending shivers down my spine. The woman glides over to a monolithic Ouija board and orders me to sit. She lays out a clutch of cards, including The Hanged Man, The Fool, The Stig, Jeremy Clarkson, Dog the Bounty Hunter, The Archbishop of Canterbury and Boy George. Okay… I lied about Boy George – but it’s all the scary ones! Suddenly, my stomach churns and I shout ‘Stop!’ I apologise for wasting her time – but I’ve got the heebie-jeebies. A floating cider is hardly The Ring – so why risk opening a fresh can of worms? I chat to Jose, a Pepe Reina lookalike in his late 20s. Around us, weirdoes chuck darts at an image of the Pope (only joking….it’s Desmond Tutu!) Jose is erudite and speaks fine English. Over Osbourne brandies, I pose the question: “So….Are you a Satanist?” “Of course”! Jose replies: Usually, I’d grab my coat, but by now, I’m immune to the madness. After dispelling myths of “priest-beating” and “baby-eating”, Jose insists that Satanists are “Perfectly normal.” Apparently, the only difference is they choose “indulgence over abstinence’, and prefer “vengeance” to forgiveness. Oh…..and they enjoy kinky sex and coke-snorting – but hey… so does the cast of Skins. By 1am I’m craving a Horlicks and a late night snack. I thank Jose and wish him a “hell-of-a-life.” We leave Occulto and hot-foot it to the Corredera for a greasy kebab. After filling our faces, we clamber into a taxi. We’re only 10-minutes from the hotel – but I’m bloated on beer and lamb offal. Back at the room, Jose’s words haunt me. Having spent the last five hours binge-drinking, ogling rude pictures and eating crap – could I be accused of “indulgence”? If Christianity equals modesty, chastity and turning the other cheek, what about all those times I’ve bought designer togs, belted a thug or lusted over lesbians? Perhaps I’m more Satanic than I thought? By bedtime, I’d seen no demons, virgin sacrifices or people snacking on goats’ head soup. This said, not everyone was as friendly as Jose, and the yokels at the bar seemed quite menacing. I’ve yet to decide whether Satanists are ordinary folk – daring to be different, or psychopaths to be avoided at all costs. I DO know, however, that pentangles are not for me. For one – I like animals too much to put their heads on sticks – and secondly, I root for the “goodies” when it kicks off on Buffy. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my time at Occulto and found the experience enlightening. Whatever they are (or aren’t), there’s a pub full of them in Cordoba, and if you ever feel like taking a walk on the wild side, you know where to head.

Body found in boot of crashed car on Alicante motorway

 

Firemen called out to an accident on the A-31 Alicante-Madrid motorway early on Monday found an unidentified body in the boot of a car which had crashed into the central reservation at Sax and then burst into flames. The body was partially burnt but appears to be that of a man. Reports indicate that the deceased had been tied up and gagged. No other occupants were found at the site and the Civil Guard are now trying to identify the victim and the cause of death.

Hells Angels have had a rough year in California.

 

The Hells Angels have had a rough year in California. Three Northern California members have died violently in the last month amid a turf battle with a rival biker gang. And law enforcement officials on both ends of the motorcycle club's home state are pursuing and jailing members, with 26 Angels and their associates arrested recently in San Diego. The violence spilled into public view in the unlikeliest of places two weeks ago when thousands of Harley-Davidsons rolled up to a San Jose cemetery on a sunny Saturday afternoon to bury a Hells Angels leader who was gunned down weeks earlier in a Nevada casino. A Hells Angel allegedly shot and killed a fellow member at the cemetery and fled — the latest sign of the in-fighting and violence that has plagued the gang in recent months. And if the deadly gunfire were not enough, a member was plowed down by a van a week later near Oakland, the alleged the victim of road rage. While no one is predicting the demise of the notorious outlaw motorcycle club, law enforcement officials and gang experts said the Hells Angels' recent woes still stand out for an organization they describe as violent, sophisticated and disciplined with loyal-to-the-death members. "They are the heavyweight champions of the biker gang culture," said Jay Dobyns, an agent with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who infiltrated the Hells Angels in Arizona for two years beginning in 2001. "And every other biker gang wants the belt." The organization has a long history in California, dating to its founding in 1948 by returning World War II veterans in the dusty town of Fontana and including a notorious incident during a Rolling Stones show in Altamont in 1969 in which a spectator was stabbed by a Hells Angel working security. A jury later acquitted the killer, finding he acted in self defense. The U.S. Department of Justice says the Hells Angels now have as many as 2,500 members in 230 chapters in 26 countries, and are a major source of drug-trafficking. Federal, state and local police have pursued the club for decades, infiltrating it with undercover agents, prosecuting suspects with harsh charges once reserved for the Mafia and indicting members on charges ranging from drug trafficking to mortgage fraud. Yet the club flourished. They opened chapters worldwide, aggressively enforced their trademarks in court like a responsible Wall Street corporation and won high-profile acquittals and other legal battles with law enforcement. The ATF, which handles many federal biker cases, said it arrested more outlaw motorcycle gang members last year than any other since 2003. Police in Germany, Canada and elsewhere also report a surge in motorcycle gang violence, with much of it connected to the Hells Angels. The California Hells Angels' current problems are partly rooted in a battle with the Vagos, a California-based motorcycle club founded in the 1960s. The clubs have been bitter enemies dating at least back a decade to a violent 2001 confrontation at a Costa Mesa swap meet. "These groups are trying to expand their membership and dominance," said Kent Shaw, the California Attorney General's acting head of law enforcement. "There's going to be a number of clashes and it seems to have gotten worse over the last couple years. It seems to be coming to a flash point." After dozens of Vagos took over a bar in Lakeport, Calif., and rode their motorcycles up and down the main drag, officials went so far as to close the downtown to traffic on May 14. Lake County Sheriff Frank Rivero said the Vagos were making a statement about controlling the region after one of its members was allegedly beaten by Hells Angels earlier in the year. So Rivero put up a road block that day after the California Highway Patrol and FBI warned that Hells Angels were traveling toward town. The Angels turned back before reaching the road block. But now the district attorney is investigating whether the sheriff violated the club members' civil rights with his plans to stop them. The sheriff is unapologetic. "It's a basic response," Rivero said. "I'm not going to tolerate gang violence in Lake County." A month later, a Vagos member and a friend were severely beaten in a casino. Four Hells Angels have been charged with assault. Three were arrested and the sheriff said they were bailed out by fellow Angel Steve Tausan, who owned a bail bonds company. A fourth is being sought. In September, the two gangs fought again. San Jose Angels leader Jeffrey "Jethro" Pettigrew was slain during a wild shootout with rival Vagos in a Reno-area casino on Sept. 23. It was at Pettigrew's burial where more violence occurred. Two shots were fired, and Tausan, Pettigrew's good friend and high-ranking Angel, lay bleeding with a mortal wound. Police suspect fellow Angel Steve Ruiz of firing on Tausan after they argued over the casino shooting and whether enough was done to protect Pettigrew, the president of the San Jose chapter. Police are now searching for Ruiz, who reportedly was hustled into a waiting car, leaving behind his motorcycle. Investigators initially feared Ruiz was killed and went so far as to dig up Pettigrew's grave in search of a body. But now police believe he is on the run with his girlfriend. San Jose police were out in force Saturday as Tausan was laid to rest at the same cemetery where he was killed during the Oct. 15 funeral. A police spokesman said there were no reports of any disturbances or violence. The Hells Angels didn't respond to numerous phone calls and email messages sent to their clubhouses in San Jose and Santa Cruz, where Tausan served as the chapter's sergeant at arms. The Angels have always maintained they are a club of motorcycle enthusiasts who are unfairly regarded as an organized crime syndicate because of the crimes of a few members acting independently. The club participates in charity events, such as "Toys for Tots" motorcycle runs and blood drives. "When we do right, nobody remembers," the club's Web site states. "When we do wrong, nobody forgets." Karen Snell, a lawyer who won a $1.8 million settlement in 2005 after the San Jose chapter filed a lawsuit claiming illegal police searches during a murder investigation, said Pettigrew, Tausan and the others involved with the case were serious businessmen with families. "They were really responsible clients," Snell said. "In my all my interactions with them, they were always gentlemen." Now Pettigrew and Tausan are dead. "We lost our brother, our father, our son and our friend," said Karen Tausan, Steve's sister. "He left a big hole in our family and we can only hope this will come to an end now."

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Boy, 17, shot in back in Poplar, east London

 

teenager has been shot in the back in east London. The 17-year-old boy was wounded in East India Dock Road, Poplar, in the early hours of the morning. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "A 17-year-old male had a gunshot wound to the back and is in hospital in a serious condition." The attack happened just before 01:00 GMT, police said. Any witnesses to the shooting should call the Metropolitan Police.

Armed guards are to be deployed on British civilian ships for the first time to protect them from pirates,

Armed guards are to be deployed on British civilian ships for the first time to protect them from pirates, David Cameron announced today.

A legal ban on weapon-toting protection staff will be relaxed so that firms can apply for a licence to have them on board in danger zones.

The Prime Minister said radical action was required because the increasing ability of sea-borne Somali criminals to hijack and ransom ships had become 'a complete stain on our world'.

He unveiled the measure after talks at a Commonwealth summit in Australia with leaders of countries in the Horn of Africa over the escalating problem faced in waters off their shores.

Under the plans, the Home Secretary will be given the power to license vessels to carry armed security, including automatic weapons, currently prohibited under firearms laws.

Officials said around 200 ships were expected to be in line to take up the offer, which would only apply for voyages through particular waters in the affected region.

It is expected to be used by commercial firms, rather than private sailors such as hostage victims Paul and Rachel Chandler.

Pirates: There are around 50 ships currently being held hostage

Pirates: There are around 50 ships currently being held hostage

 

Asked if he was comfortable with giving private security operatives the right to 'shoot to kill' if necessary, Mr Cameron told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: 'We have to make choices.

'Frankly the extent of the hijack and ransom of ships round the Horn of Africa is a complete stain on our world.

'The fact that a bunch of pirates in Somalia are managing to hold to ransom the rest of the world and our trading system is a complete insult and the rest of the world needs to come together with much more vigour.

 

Two British tour operators who come to Spain go bust

 

Two British tour operators who bring tourists to Spain have gone bust. Romano Travel ceased operations on October 26, a day after Airborn Limited. Romano Travel specialized in package holidays to Spain and Turkey and had been operating for 30 years. There were no more than half of dozen or so pending bookings from the Buckinghamshire firm which was fully protected with an ATOL licence and was a member of ABTA. Airborn Limited operated as Airborn Direct and Holiday Hero, and was based in Romford, Essex. It sold packages to Spain, Cyprus and Turkey, and sold its products to other operators. The CAA says there are many clients who have purchased flights with the firm using a credit card, and these flights should be operating normally. If in doubt passengers can confirm with the airline.

Spain no longer the main destination for Brit's second homes

 

A new survey carried out by the HomeAway holiday rentals company and real estate group Savills International has concluded that Spain is no longer the first choice among the Brits for their second residence. 1,700 British property buyers were questioned. More Britons now prefer France because of its better economic stability and the moderation in its house prices. 40% of Brits who buy in Spain later rent out the property, sometimes obtaining an income of as much as 34,500 € a year, but 24% still say that Spain is the place they have chosen for retirement. Despite the change away from purchasing a second home, Spain continues to be the most popular holiday destination for the Brits. In France, Italy and Switzerland the British purchasers usually opt for restored old properties, while in the United States, Cyprus and also in Spain and Portugal, they tend to go for more modern or new constructions.

Malaga on the Mediterranean coast, in the Southern Spanish region of Andalucia, was the city you avoided

The city of Malaga on the Mediterranean coast, in the Southern Spanish region of Andalucia, was the city you avoided. An industrial port encircled by a tired ring of Franco-era low-rise apartment buildings, it was always the city tourists dashed by on their way to Torremolinos or Marbella further down the Costa Del Sol.

Being out of favor from the 1970s onwards – when torrid overbuilding ruined the Spanish coast – has served Malaga well, and the tired city around the old port has gone through a revival in recent years: The pedestrian-only squares and streets are washed clean, filled with a mix of fashionable shops selling Ermenegildo Zegna suits and Omega watches, and old men hawking lotto tickets and blanched Andalucian almonds wrapped in paper cones—all in the shadow of the city’s baroque cathedral where the 17th century choir stalls are carved from mahogany and cedar.

The city is still no great beauty, but its unpretentious charm stems from the fact it remains a middle-class working port. The first night I arrived I dined on a plate ofpata negra (thinly-cut slices of cured ham, with a rich marble of fat, made from black pigs that feed on acorns) and some grilled sea bream served with French-cut beans. As I drank my copa de vino tinto, contentedly observing the town’s life from the sidewalk café, a guitar-banging gypsy dashed by, twitchy as a heroin addict, followed by an old man selling to local tapas bars the snails slowly crawling the walls of his white bucket.

Two newly-opened institutions have greatly contributed to Malaga’s cultural revival. The crowd-puller is the Picasso Museum, and I am sure it is a lovely collection, but, in all honesty, I couldn’t bear to see yet another second-tier Picasso Museum. (The Spanish painter, for all his greatness, would have benefitted considerably from being a little less prolific.)

My interest was, however, very much piqued by the new museum housing the collection of Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kaszon.

The Thyssen family, dating back to the 17th century, famously made their fortune supplying the industrializing German state with steel. But they were also great collectors of art, and the late Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza aggressively added works to his father’s stacks of Old Masters until the family’s 1,600-strong collection became the second largest private art collection in the world, second only to the British Royal Family Collection.

Ranging from Hans Holbein to Edward Hopper, the collection was originally housed in the family’s Villa Favorita in Lugano, Switzerland. (The Thyssen family left Germany for Switzerland in the 1930s.) In the mid 1980s, however, the Swiss unwisely barred the baron from expanding his museum at Villa Favorita—they were unimpressed he wanted to show more of his collection to the public.

Enter Spain. In 1985 the baron married his 5th wife, Carmen Cervera, a former Miss Cataluna, just as his battle with Swiss small-mindedness was heating up. The Catalan beauty was instrumental in getting her husband to move his art collection to more flexible Spain, where it now sits in its own museum next to the Prado in Madrid.

But Baroness Carmen Thyssen herself began collecting in the late 1980s, all under her husband’s tutelage, and she focused on Andalucian art of the mid-19th to early 20th century. It was this collection, critically praised throughout Spain when it was first exhibited in the late 1990s, which was squirreled away in the newly-converted palace called the Museo CarmenThyssen Málaga.

The mid-19th century Andalucian works in the collection were largely painted for middle-class European tourists of the day who wanted to return to London and Paris with reminders of their Andalucian holidays. So the first floor of the museum is devoted to these so-calledColumbrista painters, and provides a panoply of chocolate box scenes of idealized Andalucian landscape romanticism: sultry gypsy dancers and battling bandoleros in mountain caves and young fishermen wooing flower girls.

But as the 19th century progresses, so does the sophistication of the paintings. Two paintings in particular stayed with me long afterwards: the dark Columbrista painting of 1851 by the Frenchman, Alfred Dehodencq, painted for the duke occupying the Palace of San Telmo. It’s of a procession through the town during Holy Week. Hooded monks, like an all-black vision of the Ku Klux Klan, are the candle-carrying advance guard of the Mater Dolorosa, and they walk a gauntlet of rapturous women in black mantillas. Powerful stuff.

Later, in 1867, the Spaniard Mariàno Fortuny Marsal painted a bullfight with quick, almost impressionistic brushstrokes that seems to foreshadow what is yet to come in the art world. Called Exquisite Realism, or the Précieux Style, the intense brushstrokes of the “Bullfight” give a blurry sense of speed and movement at the breath-holding moment when a gored picador is carried dying from the ring and another picador is trying to weaken the bull with the hard thrust of his lance. It’s hard to tell who is going to live or die, and it’s a very modern work, in a 19th century way.

Five arrested for road rage attack in Madrid

 

National Police have arrested five people, two of them underage, for a brutal road rage attack in a tunnel on the M-30 motorway in September. They were taken into custody after they were identified on video footage from security cameras in the tunnel. The aggressors were travelling in two vehicles on the evening of September 17, and were seen on film chasing another car into the tunnel, speeding ahead and cutting across it to bring it to a halt. The eight occupants of the two cars are then seen getting out of their vehicles and dragging the three people travelling in the third car out onto the roadway. They are beaten and kicked, and their car is vandalised. Some personal items were also stolen and one of the victims was stabbed in the back. The reason for the attack was because the victims had criticised their assailants for a dangerous manoeuvre a few kilometres previously. The Interior Ministry released news of the five arrests this week, and said the search continues to locate the three other suspects involved.

32 arrests in luxury car scam in Spain

 

National Police in Spain have arrested 32 people accused of stealing 25 vehicles worth over a million € from counties such as Germany, Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland, to be sold on in Spain. The sale of the vehicles were helped by official dealers and the gang even had the collaboration of workers at several ITV/MOT centres which issued certificates to say the vehicles had no signs of being manipulated. The Ministry of the Interior says that the gang was made up mainly of Hungarians, Romanians and Spaniards, and the vehicles were sold on with false documents in dealers in Madrid, Santander, Tarragona, Castellón, Valencia, Alicante, Cuenca, Almería, Córdoba, Jaén and Granada.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Hells Angels feud leaves trail of death and destruction

 

The bloody turf war between the Hells Angels and a rival motorcycle club called the Vagos, has also led to shoot outs in the neighbouring states of Nevada and Arizona. According to the US Justice Department both the Hells Angels and the Vagos are "outlaw" gangs involved in drug and weapons trafficking, extortion and money laundering. The current spate of bloodshed between them can be traced to a disagreement at a Stabucks in the beach town of Santa Cruz last year. A brawl in which some participants wielded ball-peen hammers erupted outside the coffee shop before police arrived and bikers scattered. That led to a gunfight in the northern Arizona town of Chino Valley which left five people wounded and 27 under arrest.

Two killed in biker gang war started over Starbucks

 

TWO men have been killed and a number wounded in a turf war between two California biker gangs that began over who got to hang out at Starbucks. The San Jose Hells Angels has clashed with the rival Vagos gang in a series of violent incidents in the state. In the latest, senior Hells Angel Steven Tausan, 52, was shot and killed by a fellow member in an apparent quarrel, the Telegraph reports. That shooting occurred at the funeral of the chapter’s captain Jeffrey Pettigrew, 51, who was killed at a casino last month.  Security is tight for Tausan’s funeral tomorrow, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The row began in January 2010 when Hells Angels and Vagos members fought with hammers outside a Starbucks in Santa Cruz. Local deputy police chief Steve Clark told Reuters: “It was all about who would be allowed to hang out at the Starbucks downtown,” adding that the Vagos had made an attempt to gain control of the area. “Only in Santa Cruz would you have biker wars over who’s going to control pumpkin spice lattes,” Clark added. The conflict escalated in August last year, when the two gangs exchanged gunfire near a house in Prescott, Arizona, where CBS reports the Hells Angels were having a party. At least five people were wounded and 27 arrested after the incident.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

A LARGE crowd of Rebels Motorcycle Club members turned out at St Peter's Cathedral yesterday for the funeral of a member.

Rebels

Rebels comfort each other outside St Peter's Cathedral. Picture: Dean Martin


Dozens of motorbikes lined Pennington Tce, North Adelaide, as more than 100 people gathered for the 1.30pm service for James Sean "Pappa" Petterson.

Members of rival motorcycle clubs, including the Finks, also attended the service.

A convoy of Rebels members on motorcycles were given a police escort to the service and flanked the hearse as it left the cathedral.

Uniformed and plainclothes police kept a watchful eye over proceedings from outside

Fresh appeal launched to find man living abroad accused of murdering Nantwich man

 

NEW appeal has been launched to capture a man wanted in connection with the murder of a Stapeley market trader. Christopher Guest More, 33, of Lymm, near Warrington, is one of 10 individuals wanted in the latest campaign being run by Crimestoppers and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). He is suspected to have been part of a gang involved in the torture and murder of market trader and cannabis farmer Brian Waters, who was killed in a barn in Tabley, near Knutsford, in June 2003. Three of his alleged accomplices, Otis Lee Matthews, James Stuart Raven and John Godfrey Wilson, received life sentences for their part in the brutal attack. More is also sought in connection with the attempted murder of Suleman Razak and for the alleged false imprisonment and assault of other victims present during the incident. It is believed he fled to Spain just 24 hours after the incident. The appeal is part of crime charity Crimestoppers’ ‘Operation Captura’ campaign, which is trying to locate wanted criminals abroad. Crimestoppers’ regional manager Gary Murray, said: “This extremely heinous crime saw an individual lose their life and the person responsible needs to be tried for their actions. “I’d urge anyone with information to contact Crimestoppers on our 0800 555 111 number or use our online form on our website – we guarantee your anonymity.” Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Smith said: “Eight years on, we still remain determined and committed to finding and arresting Christopher More for his alleged involvement in the brutal murder of Brian Waters. “Cheshire Police will not close this case until the family of Brian Waters sees justice done.”

A deadly spat with origins in Halifax has an eastern Canada police dragnet hunting the gangster wanted for a slaying in Toronto.

darnell wrightDarnell St. Clair Wright, 32, is wanted for first-degree murder in the Oct. 2 shooting of Jefflin Beals, 25, on Crawford St. near Trinity Bellwoods Park.

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TORONTO - A deadly spat with origins in Halifax has an eastern Canada police dragnet hunting the gangster wanted for a slaying in Toronto.

Toronto Police said Wednesday Darnell St. Clair Wright, 32, is wanted for first-degree murder in the Oct. 2 shooting of Jefflin Beals, 25, on Crawford St. at Lobb Ave., near Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Homicide Det.-Sgt. Wayne Banks said the two men had an ongoing dispute stretching back at least to 2009, when Beals was a target of a drive-by shooting in Halifax.

The father of two wasn’t injured in that attack and he refused to co-operate with police.

Banks said he’s still not yet clear about the motive of the murder, whether it was personal or gang-related.

Police said Beals, was in a friend’s car when a gunman approached on Crawford St. and opened fire.

Beals got out of the car and stumbled to a lane between two homes, but he died by the time emergency crews found him.

The victim had been staying with friends in Peel after arriving in the city just a few days before he was gunned down in the usually quiet area of west Toronto.

Banks said the gang Wright belongs to — the North Preston Finest — is suspected to be involved in the 2009 drive-by, but it’s unclear if the suspect was involved in that shooting.

“We believe he (Beals) was set up — that Wright found out he was in Toronto and that he was set up to be at that location,” Banks alleged.

The location of the murder, a residential street, “there’s no way it was a chance meeting, say like a night club or somewhere like that,” Banks said.

“He was there for a reason and they were waiting for him.”

But Banks doesn’t know yet what lured Beals to the spot.

He warns anyone who helped set up the ambush or is now hiding Wright will face charges.

“This isn’t just about arresting Darnell, this will be finding out anybody involved in the planning of it and anybody involved in the aiding and abetting after it,” he said.

Banks said there’s conflicting street information that Wright is in Halifax, and “we’re hearing information that he’s still in the city.”

Wright is considered dangerous, he said.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

“El Gallito” or “The Little Rooster”. Heavily tattooed, El Gallito appears more mature than his age, prosecutors said. State Attorney General Gaspar Garcia Torres said the boy claimed to have been in charge of the lucrative Isla Mujeres drug market

 

Mexican police arrest 15-year-old alleged drug-gang operator in murders of 2 women  Prosecutors said Saturday that a 15-year-old boy has confessed to running a drug trafficking gang on the Mexican resort island of Isla Mujeres and murdering two women who reportedly worked as drug dealers. It was the second time in less than a year that an extremely young male has been detained as a purported drug gang killer in Mexico. Last November, soldiers arrested a 14-year-old U.S. citizen who confessed to killing four people whose beheaded bodies were found hanging from a bridge. Comments Weigh InCorrections? Mexican officials say the involvement of youths in such crimes reflects the difficulty drug cartels are having in recruiting adults, but it also raise fears that Mexico’s drug violence may have accustomed young people to extreme levels of violence. The Isla Mujeres cases involve a youth who prosecutors in the Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo identified only by his nickname, “El Gallito” or “The Little Rooster”. Heavily tattooed, El Gallito appears more mature than his age, prosecutors said. State Attorney General Gaspar Garcia Torres said the boy claimed to have been in charge of the lucrative Isla Mujeres drug market for a local gang known as “Los Pelones,” equivalent to the Bald or Shaved Heads. The gang is reputedly fighting the Zetas cartel for control of the area around the coastal resort of Cancun. A spokesman for the prosecutors office said the boy told investigators that he and two older associates slashed the throats of the two women at a hotel on Isla Mujeres. Their women’s bodies were found before dawn Thursday, and El Gallito was detained Friday. “He confessed to having full participation in carrying out these deeds, and from the start he claimed to have been in charge of drug sales in the area, in this case for the Pelones, and that his duties were to receive the drugs,” said the spokesman, who was not allowed to be quoted by name. The women were purportedly killed after they betrayed the Pelones gang by selling drugs they obtained from other sources. The boy was turned over to a youthful offender facility to face homicide charges. Because of his age, he cannot be identified or tried as an adult. In most parts of Mexico, youths are tried and sentenced in juvenile courts, but cannot be held after they turn 18. Last year’s case involved a 14-year-old U.S. citizen, who was identified by his family as Edgar Jimenez Lugo, known as “El Ponchis.” He was sentenced in July to three years in prison for homicide, kidnapping and drug and weapons possession. It was the maximum sentenced allowed for a minor. Authorities say the teenager confessed to working for the South Pacific cartel, which is allegedly led by Hector Beltran Leyva.

Man dead after N. Portland gang shooting

 

A man who suffered life-threatening injuries in a gang-related shooting in North Portland Friday night died early Monday morning. An autopsy was planned for Monday for Deandre Clark, 25, according to Lt. Robert King. Police responded just after 10 p.m. to a shots fired call near N Haight Avenue and N Emerson Street, according to King. Officers arrived to find a group gathered in the street around a man who had been shot. Medical crews arrived and took Clark to a nearby hospital with life-threatening injuries. Police set up a perimeter around the scene and called in a K-9 unit to assist with the search, but did not find any suspects.

Brooklyn Woman's Death Result Of Feud Between Gangs

 

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Police officers on rooftops (NBC New York)
As police try to find the suspect whoseFriday afternoon shooting from a Brooklyn rooftop left a woman dead and another woman and an 11-year-old girl injured, the slain woman's family remains bereft. Zurana Horton, 34, was killed when picking up a child from P.S. 298 in Brownsville, at Pitkin Avenue and Watkins Street, and apparently died trying to shield other youngsters. One of Horton's children told the Post that she actually walked by the crime scene, not realizing her mother was the victim, "I was wondering where my mother was. I found out later [the body] was my mother. My little sister [Alexis] said, ‘Mommy died. She got shot.’"

 

According to the Post, the violence is due to a feud "stemmed from an ongoing beef between two warring factions, the Hoodstars and the Waves. Members of both gangs told The Post that they consider themselves the modern-day Bloods and Crips -- and sources say their violent feud has been raging for several years." Apparently residents are too afraid to call 911 and say the violence is worse at night, when the gangster "do not hesitate" to shoot.

While neighbors said that Horton, who had 13 living children (a 14th died of pneumonia a few years ago), was pregnant, but the ME's office said that she was not. Still, the tragedy is huge, as her children  will be split up between Horton's mother and her ex-boyfriend, Oniel Vaughn, the father of eight of the children,who told the Daily News, "She gave her life for those kids, and she would have done it all again because that's just the kind of person she was. She was worried about the violence. She said she wanted to move and buy a house for her kids. Those kids were her life." He added, "I didn't tell the younger kids yet. The older ones know. They're devastated."

Police smash gun supply ring operating out of tiny suburban tobacco shop

 

POLICE have smashed an alleged black market gun supply ring operating out of a tiny suburban tobacco shop. Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad detectives arrested the alleged leaders of the syndicate last week after a covert buy-up of the weapons and ammunition. The men allegedly used a Lakemba tobacconist shop, King of the Pack, as a front. Detectives are testing three firearms that the police bought to see if they had been used in any crimes, documents tendered in court reveal. George Boulos, 27, and Said Rawdah, 36, charged with numerous offences relating to possessing and supplying illegal firearms, were refused bail in court on Friday. Tobacconist Ayman Said, 50, charged with similar offences, was also refused bail. Instead of an undercover detective, police from Strike Force Snaidero enlisted a "registered source" who was given pre-counted "buy money" to purchase weapons. The court heard that on July 18 the registered police source, known only by a code name, went to the tobacconist and asked the owner, Ayman Said, if he could buy a gun. They negotiated a price of $5000, with Said allegedly telling the buyer the next step would be introducing him to a dealer. The following Monday, police say their source was introduced to Rawdah - the alleged dealer - who handed over a Smith and Wesson .38 revolver for $5000. Police later found it had been in circulation for more than 13 years. It was reported stolen from a break and enter on January 31, 1998.   On August 20, the informant went back to the tobacco shop and, after asking for more guns, was introduced to Boulos, of Padstow, who told the informant he had access to plenty more weapons, including military-grade firearms, the court heard. "Those firearms were a 9mm pistol, a .22 calibre pistol, an AK-47 machinegun and numerous SKS assault rifles," police facts state. "Twelve days later, the pair met at Lakemba railway carpark, where for $13,000 the police source allegedly received a .22mm Jennings pistol, a 7.62mm pistol and ammunition. The buyer viewed the guns in a white van which was driven by an unknown man who was summoned with a phone call from Boulos, Burwood Local Court heard. Last Thursday, police arrested the trio at various locations.   All three will reappear in court in December.

Florida a top source of guns linked to crimes in other states

 

2,000 Florida guns last year were linked to crimes committed around the country, and experts say they likely came from the cars and homes of law-abiding Floridians. In 2010, law-enforcement officers around the country traced 2,251 crime guns to Florida, one of the states with the most guns traced in out-of-state crimes. It follows Georgia's 2,568 guns and Texas' 2,301, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Related Top states for crime guns Broward crime rises in first half of 2011 Video: Crimes caught on camera Photos Close calls: Crime artist's sketches Topics Personal Weapon Control Gun Control Interior Policy See more topics » That's because Florida has a huge number of gun owners, and burglars find the weapons when breaking into their homes and cars, authorities said. Video: Mother of pit bull attack victim discusses son's condition "In almost any burglary to a residence, a gun will turn up," Boynton Beach Police Sgt. Sedrick Aiken said. "There's a lot of stolen guns out there." In fact, South Florida last year had the most reported stolen guns in the state. That's 2,310 guns reported stolen in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, according to state records. The number does not include guns reported stolen and then recovered. Typical was the recent arrest of two suspects in Boca Raton, accused of taking $3,750 worth of hunting guns in the burglary of a home in Jupiter. The owner of the guns told police he kept them in a gun safe that was broken into. Richard Sasso, 23, and a 17-year-old boy were arrested in connection with the September burglary. The Sun Sentinel is not naming the juvenile because of his age. He told police they traded the guns for marijuana. It's unclear where the guns ended up. Stolen guns often are sold to criminals, who may end up crossing state lines, experts said. Florida guns also end up in the wrong hands in other states when people come to Florida because gun laws here are more relaxed, Aiken said. Unlike New York, for example, Florida does not require gun buyers to get a permit and allows people convicted of violent misdemeanors to own a gun. Florida also prohibits municipalities from enacting their own gun-control measures. New York is where most of Florida's crime guns — 358 — ended up last year. Not all guns used in crimes are traced through ATF, and not all guns traced are directly used in crimes. They could be guns found at a crime scene or in the possession of a suspected criminal. Marion Hammer, spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association in Florida, said Florida's laws have nothing to do with guns turning up in out-of-state crimes. Many state laws regulate who can sell a gun and to whom a gun can be sold, she said. "If anything, it's lax law enforcement," Hammer said. "I don't know if it's ATF or [the Florida Department of Law Enforcement] or who isn't enforcing it." In December 2009, Washington, D.C., police and FBI agents arrested dozens of alleged gun traffickers and seized 123 guns in an undercover sting, according to The Washington Post. Authorities posed as gun traffickers interested in buying illegal guns to sell to Mexican cartels. In the end, 44 people were arrested in the sting, and the trafficked weapons were traced to Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky. Federal authorities blamed the out-of-state guns for much of the violent crime in the capital. Gary Kleck, professor of criminology and criminal justice at Florida State University, said large-scale, interstate gun trafficking is rare, and often overblown by politicians who want to blame crime on outside factors. Rarely do criminals travel to Florida because they think it's easier to buy guns down South, he said. "This is not about gun trafficking. It's interstate migration," said Kleck, who has interviewed convicted felons and studied the movement of crime guns across state lines. The most common scenario is when someone buys a gun legally in Florida, moves out of state and has his or her weapon stolen in a home burglary. Or a burglar in Florida steals a homeowner's guns and sells it to a someone in another state. "The chances of a burglar coming across a gun here is that much greater than in other states," he said.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Rival gangsters pack Vancouver courts

 

Members of the Gang Task Force were used to boost security at the Vancouver Law Courts Thursday as four separate gang cases went ahead with rivals appearing on different floors. Eight members of the uniformed GTF arrived for a bail revocation hearing for accused drug trafficker Sukhveer Dhak. One floor below, a cocaine conspiracy trial continued for Dhak rival Jarrod Bacon. Supt. Doug Kiloh, of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, said the GTF officers were on hand because "there is clearly unresolved conflict between gangs." "Do we have concern when we bring them together? Yes, and clearly that poses a public safety risk," Kiloh said. "Even at the Bacon trial, there is going to be conflict internally there." Kiloh said that when any case like that of Bacon and coaccused Wayne Scott has wiretaps being played, things can be tense because of what one party says about the other. Earlier this week, a tape was played in court of Scott saying Bacon's parents were aware of his criminal enterprise, and profited from it. "There are a number of security precautions we are taking," Kiloh said of the Bacon-Scott case. Not only were Dhak and Bacon in separate courtrooms Thursday, but the Greeks gang murder case continued in high-security Courtroom 20 a few floors below. And another case, involving men linked to the United Nations gang, was in pre-trial hearings next door to Dhak. Kiloh said CFSEU has several other big cases and that more charges are expected to be laid in coming weeks. "We know we have been pushing Crown hard. We know they have their hands full," he said. "We hope to have more charges in the coming weeks and months in high-profile cases involving gangs and organized crime." And Kiloh said law enforcement will continue to move forward with major gang prosecutions because "it reduces the threat of public safety issues." Just last month, GTF head officer Supt. Tom McCluskie issued an extraordinary public warning that anyone associating with Dhak or those in the affiliated Duhre group could be at risk because of escalating gang tensions. The Dhaks, Duhres and some members of the UN gang are aligned against an opposing group consisting of some Hells Angels, Red Scorpions and the Independent Soldiers. On Sept. 16, Dhak associate Jujhar Singh Khun-Khun was shot several times in a targeted Surrey shooting that police say may have been in retaliation for the Aug. 14 attack in Kelowna that left Red Scorpion Jonathan Bacon dead and Hells Angel Larry Amero and Independent Soldier James Riach wounded. Dhak was originally charged in October 2008 with production of a controlled substance, possession for the purpose of trafficking and conspiracy to commit indictable offence. He is due to go to trial in that case next April. But he was arrested Sept. 18 for allegedly driving while prohibited related to an incident on July 30, 2011. He is also before the courts on another breach allegation related to a Kelowna incident in March 2011 and was charged in December 2010 with one count of counselling to commit the indictable offence of aggravated assault. Justice Brenda Brown reserved her decision on Dhak's bail until next Wednesday. Dhak, dressed in red prison garb, whispered through Plexiglas to his girlfriend at the morning break Thursday. Police sat in the front row, several seats away from Dhak's mother, sister and girlfriend. Details of submissions and arguments at the two-hour hearing are covered by a publication ban. Kiloh said top police officers from around the Lower Mainland met Thursday to discuss the level of gang tensions. He said the situation is very fluid, with unresolved conflicts between some, and others making new associations that police are trying to assess.

Canada’s top organized crime groups are recruiting workers at Pearson and other major airports to help them smuggle drugs and contraband into the country,

aiportPolice and other agencies at Pearson are working to identify workers who are breaking the law.

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Canada’s top organized crime groups are recruiting workers at Pearson and other major airports to help them smuggle drugs and contraband into the country, says the former head of a national security committee.

Agents of notorious crime groups, including the Hells Angels and Vietnamese gangs, are flexing their muscles to get a bigger share of the lucrative drug-smuggling operation run by corrupt workers at Pearson, police and security officials said.

“Organized crime activity has gotten worst at Pearson,” said Sen. Colin Kenny, former head of a Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. “They are actively recruiting people to work for them.”

The RCMP in a 2008 study identified 60 gangs that have infiltrated airports in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Police said agents of the gangs work at “corrupting existing employees or by placing criminal associates or even spouses or relatives into the airport work force.”

A RCMP witness “said categorically that gangs such as Hells Angels have infiltrated Pearson,” the committee said in a report on Canadian airports.

“If the Hells Angels can get their people in place at airports, what’s to stop Al Fatah?,” Kenny asked. “Any holes that criminals open in security perimeters make them more vulnerable to all who wish to circumvent them.”

The committee toured Pearson following the 9/11 terrorist attacks to study safety procedures and found gaping holes in security.

“The security gaps may be wide open at Pearson,” Kenny said. “There is a lot of money to be made and crime groups are getting their own people hired to work there.”

RCMP Const. Michelle Paradis said police and other agencies at Pearson are working to identify workers who are breaking the law.

“We have been working diligently to identify smuggling groups and target them,” Paradis said on Thursday. “These investigations take a lot of manpower and resources.”

The Mounties have smashed several drug rings involving ramp handlers, airline groomers and catering staff who were removing drugs from aircraft and smuggling the bags out of the facility in their vehicles unchecked.

Five ramp handlers and a Jamaican police officer were among nine people arrested in Dec. 2010 by the RCMP after they squashed a ring allegedly smuggling kilos of cocaine and marijuana into Canada.

Police accuse the Jamaica Constabulary Force officer of planting drugs on aircraft that were allegedly removed here by handlers and smuggled from the airport.

Kenny said one way to curb the flow of illegal drugs is to examine all staff and their vehicles arriving and leaving the airport.

“They can check all travellers why can’t they check employees entering and leaving,” he said. “Their vehicles also have to be checked as well.”

Kenny said drugs are still flowing freely through the use of inter-Canada air courier service that promise 24-hour delivery to customers as reported in the Toronto Sun on Monday.

“Very little if anything is being done to examine domestic courier packages,” he said. “They are all virtually unchecked.”

Kenny said a third party, such as the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, which is responsible for passenger and baggage security, should screen packages.

There are about 90,000 people working at Canadian airports and police estimate about 1,000 of them are intent on “infiltrating the airports to facilitate criminal activity.”

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