Wednesday, 30 November 2011

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." 

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.

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.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Biker Killing Was a Mistake


Chatting peacefully on the floor of a Nevada casino, a senior Hells Angels leader and a 27-year veteran of the rival Vagos motorcycle gang thought they had negotiated a truce between competing members who'd been itching for a fight at a weekend long biker festival. "Everything is going to be all right," the Vagos member recalls his rival telling him. "He said, 'I'm getting too old for this.' And I said, 'I'm getting too old for this too.'" An hour later, a brawl erupted and a shootout ensued, killing one of the highest-ranking Hells Angels in the country and wounding two Vagos members. More violence has followed the melee at the hotel-casino in Sparks on Sept. 23, but the longtime Vagos member told a grand jury in Reno earlier this month that the deadly gun battle was not part of some assassination plot or formal declaration of war. Rather, he testified under the condition of confidentiality that it was the result of the unauthorized behavior of a drunken, fellow Vagos — a loud-mouthed, loose cannon nicknamed "Jabbers" who provoked the fight that led to the fatal shooting. "Jabbers has a big mouth. He's always had a big mouth," said the witness, who described himself as being in the "higher echelon'" of Vagos leadership "before this event." Jabbers, whose real name is Gary Stuart Rudnick, was the vice president of the Vagos Los Angeles chapter but since has been kicked out of the club, according to the confidential witness. He's one of three men indicted on murder charges in the killing of Jeffrey "Jethro'" Pettigrew, the late president of the Hells Angels San Jose chapter. Rudnick had refused to back down even after national Vagos officers were summoned and talks with Hells Angels' leaders had calmed the volatile situation shortly after 10 p.m., the grand jury witness said. "This was diffused by national," he said. "The national (leaders) went down there and talked to them. Everything was worked out, there was no problems." But about an hour later, Rudnick again was taunting Pettigrew, who the witness said "in the Hells Angels world is one of the most important guys in the United States." Finally, he said Pettigrew had enough and punched Rudnick in the face, touching off a series of fights that led to the gunfire. "All hell broke loose," the witness testified. "Just bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam." Another Vagos, Ernesto Gonzalez, is accused of shooting Pettigrew four times in the back and is being held without bail on an open murder charge. Rudnick and Cesar Villagrana, a Hells Angel member accused of shooting two Vagos that night, face second-degree murder charges for their role in the fracas. "There were so many shots, shots going off through this whole melee," the witness said. "I'm surprised a citizen didn't get shot because anyone could have walked around the corner or walked out of the bathroom and got shot." The 278-page transcript entered into the court record earlier this week offers a look at the mayhem in the jam-packed Nugget hotel-casino shortly before midnight on Sept. 23 — much of it captured on the casino's 448 security cameras. Investigators later retrieved dozens of shell casings and bullets — one lodged in a slot machine, others in bar stools, a card table and a metal poker chip holder.

550 kilos of cocaine hidden in bananas intercepted in Algeciras


National Police have found more than 550 kilos of cocaine hidden in boxes of ‘top quality bananas’ which were being introduced into Spain via the port in Algeciras. The drugs were hidden in the plastic linings inside the cardboard boxes containing the bananas, found in containers which had come from Ecuador. The drug runners benefitted by the quicker customs procedures for fruit. 11 people have been arrested in Madrid, including the alleged head of the gang. The police investigation started in the middle of last year as a group of Ecuadorian and Colombian men who were planning to send a large amount of cocaine from South America to Spain were uncovered. The members of this gang had top security measures to avoid detection by the Police. Thanks to the methods discovered in that organisation, with the drug hidden in the plastic, it has been possible to make these latest arrests.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

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 '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.

Hells Angels members Robert Thomas and Norm Cocks, appeared in courtroom 67 at the Vancouver Law Courts Monday for a first appearance on a second-degree murder charge.

All seven, including Hells Angels members Robert Thomas and Norm Cocks, appeared in courtroom 67 at the Vancouver Law Courts Monday for a first appearance  on a second-degree murder charge.

Thomas and Cocks remain in custody, while the others – Cocks dad Robert, brothers Daniel and Matthew McRae, Thomas Vaughan and Anson Schell – are out on bail.

Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie said the decision to move the case to the Lower Mainland was made “given the number of the accused, the number of counsel involved and the demands the case would place on court resources in Kelowna.”

“The Crown perspective is that the matter should proceed in Vancouver.  As a result, the Crown filed the Direct Indictment with the Supreme Court in Vancouver,” he said.

There is a ban on publication on evidence and submissions in the case.

The trial won’t get underway until at least January 2013.

Murder trial begins for two Hells Angels, five others


two full-patch Hells Angels, made their first appearance in a Vancouver courtroom Monday for the June beating death of Kelowna resident Dain Phillips. The men - Hells Angels members Robert Thomas and Norm Cocks - as well as Cocks' father Robert, Anson Schell, Thomas Vaughan and brothers Daniel and Matthew McRae were charged with second-degree murder two weeks after the fatal assault on Phillips on June 12. They made their initial appearances in Kelowna Provincial Court, where five of the accused were released on bail. But Crown prosecutors have decided to proceed by way of direct indictment, meaning the case goes straight to B.C. Supreme Court without a preliminary hearing at the Provincial Court level. And prosecutors have moved the case to Vancouver, where the accused appeared Monday in a new high-security courtroom built for an unrelated gang murder case. Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie said the decision to move the case to the Lower Mainland was made "given the number of the accused, the number of counsel involved and the demands the case would place on court resources in Kelowna." There is a ban on publication of evidence and submissions in the case. Justice Arne Silverman put the matter over until Dec. 19, with a tentative start date for the eight-month trial sometime in January 2013. Thomas, 46, and Norm Cocks, 31, appeared wearing red prison garb from the North Fraser Pretrial Centre, where they remain in custody. The others - Dan McRae, 21, Matt McRae, 19, Schell, 19, Vaughan, 22 and Robert Cocks, 53 - arrived with relatives and supporters, each being directed to seats behind bulletproof Plexiglas. No one from Phillips's family attended Monday. The Vancouver Sun earlier reported that Phillips, a married father of three, tried to intervene peacefully in a dispute two of his sons were having with a pair of brothers with whom they had attended Rutland secondary. When Phillips drove to a meeting place on McCurdy Road in the early evening of June 12, he was attacked by a group of men who had arrived in two separate vehicles. He died later in hospital. Insp. Pat Fogarty, of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, said after the arrests that Phillips was trying to resolve the problem when he was savagely attacked. The elder Cocks is president of a Hells Angels puppet club called the Throttle Lockers, while the four youngest accused were described by police as gang associates. The case is believed to be the first in the 28-year-history of the Hells Angels in B.C. where a club member has been charged with murder.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

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.

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.


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?


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.'


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.

Chicago cops accused of working for Latin Kings held without bond


Two Chicago police officers accused of committing armed robberies at the will of alleged Latin King members were ordered held without bond Monday. Alex Guerrero, 41, and Antonio C. Martinez Jr., 40, were the ones in handcuffs Monday afternoon, appearing before a federal judge in orange Porter County jumpsuits. The duo were named in a 46-page indictment unsealed Friday that alleges a racketeering conspiracy among fifteen Latin King gang members or associates. Guerrero's attorney, Kevin Milner, fought for his client to be on home detention. He said his clients' parents offered to put up their $175,000 Chicago home for their son's pretrial release. "For Mr. Guerrero to violate his bond, his parents would be on the street homeless," Milner said. "I've known Mr. Guerrero for 15 years. He would rather slit his wrists than do that to his parents." Milner claimed there was no evidence against Guerrero, and that the father of six had no criminal record. According to the indictment, Guerrero and Martinez Jr., committed armed robberies of drug dealers in Illinois and Indiana while in uniform and under the guise of performing legitimate police operations. They allegedly turned over the drugs and money to the Latin Kings in exchange for about $10,000 in kickbacks. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Nozick argued that Guerrero and Martinez were dangers to the community after using Chicago police vehicles, service weapons and uniforms to rob people at gunpoint. Nozick also said Guerrero was a flight risk, as his wife has family in Mexico and he faces up to life in prison.  Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich ordered Guerrero held without bond. Milner said they were disappointed with the decision, and that his client would be sitting in jail for at least a year pending trial for a crime he did not commit.  "I don't know who will give him that year back," Milner said. Martinez Jr., did not contest being held pending trial.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Watchdog warns over shooting probe


An investigation into the death of Mark Duggan, whose fatal shooting by police triggered riots across the country, has still to establish the sequence of events concerning a handgun found at the scene, the police watchdog said. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said that was a key element in its probe. But it said that the sequence of events was not yet known, despite a report in Saturday's Guardian that the investigation had found no forensic evidence that he was carrying a non-police-issue gun. The newspaper, in a story headlined "Revealed: man whose shooting triggered riots was not armed", said a gun collected by Mr Duggan earlier in the day was recovered 10ft-14ft (3m-4.25m) away, on the other side of a low fence from his body, and that he was killed outside the vehicle he was travelling in, after a police marksman fired twice. On the day Mr Duggan was shot, there is overwhelming evidence that he had obtained a firearm, but the investigation is considering whether he had the weapon in his possession when he was shot, the Guardian said. The IPCC said in a statement on Saturday night that the investigation was examining a range of issues. "This is a complex investigation that involves gathering information including witness statements, pathology, forensics and ballistics analysis and we have stated to the coroner that it will be completed within four to six months," the statement said. "One of the key elements we will seek to establish is the sequence of events concerning the non-police issue firearm found at the scene. That has not been established yet, contrary to what has been written in the Guardian article today. "We would urge people not to rush to judgment until our investigation is complete and they have the opportunity to see and hear the full evidence themselves." The statement said the IPCC believes the headline on the Guardian's article was "misleading, speculative and wholly irresponsible".

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Four police officers stabbed in north London


Four police officers were stabbed as they tried to detain a man after a disturbance in north London, Scotland Yard said on Saturday. Police said officers were called to an incident shortly before 9 a.m. on the main road in Kingsbury where they had tried to speak to a man before he ran into a butcher's shop and grabbed a knife. "Officers followed the man in an attempt to detain him and were subsequently assaulted," Chief Superintendent Dal Babu told reporters. "Four male police constables suffered stab injuries during the incident and have been taken by the London Ambulance Service to hospital." One was stabbed in the stomach, a second suffered head injuries and stab wound to his arm, the third was stabbed in the leg, and the last sustained stab wounds to a hand and also suffered a broken hand. Witnesses told media the suspect had been shouting at police beforehand and up to 10 officers had tried to calm him down. A 32-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and is being quizzed at a police station in the area.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Gas gang, which stands for Guns and Shanks,Five convicted of killing gang rival aged 15


Five teenagers were convicted today of chasing a 15-year-old boy from his school gates and stabbing him to death in a gang-related attack. Zac Olumegbon was knifed in the heart and also had wounds to his chest, neck and buttocks. His hands and arms were scarred showing that he had tried to ward off the blows. He was cornered by the youths wearing hoodies in a back garden 100 yards from the Park Campus school in West Norwood. Another schoolboy was also stabbed but Zac was the prime target in the attack in July last year. At the Old Bailey four of the youths were found guilty of murder and a fifth convicted of manslaughter. They can be named for the first time today after Judge Giles Forrester QC lifted an anonymity order. The murderers are Helder Demorais, now 17, Kyle Kinghorn, who is 18 today, Ricardo Giddings, 17, and Jermael Moore, 17. Moore was a promising grime artist, known as J-kid or Younger Sneaky, who had posted videos on YouTube under a gang name. Some of the footage, which includes the sound of shots being fired, shows hooded and masked youths making gun symbols with their hands as he raps lyrics. Shaquille Haughton, 16, was the youth convicted of manslaughter. They will be sentenced next month. The court heard that Zac was a victim of a feud involving the Gas gang, which stands for Guns and Shanks (knives), based around Loughborough Road and the Angel Town estate in Brixton. Their rivals were the The five youths arrived at the school by car knowing their victim would be turning up for class. The teenager had spoken at a conference on youth violence the day before and vowed to help other teenagers, his mother said in a statement. He wanted to share his experiences with those who had endured "similar struggles to him", said Shakira Olumegbon. She said he had left for school "happy" on the day of his death after discussing the future with her. But Ms Olumegbon received a phone call from school to tell her he had been attacked. She said: "I remember praying he would be okay. The scene that confronted me was indescribable."

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Hundreds of kilos of cocaine were stolen from Málaga port

The impounded drugs were taken over the weekend from a warehouse in Málaga port.

Cocaine - Archive Photo EFECocaine - Archive Photo EFE
enlarge photo

Hundreds of kilos of cocaine were stolen from Málaga port last weekend, and some reports speak of as much as 600 kilos.

The drug had been impounded by the courts and the thieves took down the security camera system and forced the locks on the door with a thermal lance to obtain access to the warehouse where it was stored. The store contained drugs from several police operations on the Costa del Sol and from elsewhere in Andalucía.

La Opinion de Málaga reports that the warehouse in the port was top secret, and located just 300m from the Guardia Civil barracks. It could well be the largest ever theft of its type in Spain with the drugs having a street value of 30 million Euro. There was also a large amount of hashish and other substances in the warehouse.

The warehouse is reported to often have been full because of the small capacity of the ovens used to destroy the drugs. It’s security is the responsibility of the National Police, although its understood they had

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez, 53, arrived at Washoe County jail for proceedings related to the Sept. 23 shooting of Jeffrey "Jethro" Pettigrew of the Hells Angels inside a hotel-casino


Vagos motorcycle gang member arrested in the slaying of a rival at a Sparks casino was transferred Monday to Reno from California to await a court appearance on a murder charge, authorities said. Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez, 53, arrived at Washoe County jail for proceedings related to the Sept. 23 shooting of Jeffrey "Jethro" Pettigrew of the Hells Angels inside a hotel-casino, Sparks police said. Pettigrew was president of the Hells Angels chapter in San Jose, Calif. The extradition of Gonzalez came after Hells Angels member Cesar Villagrana, 36, was rearrested Thursday in San Jose on an indictment charging him with murder in the case, Sparks police Detective Rocky Triplett said. Gonzalez's lawyer, David Chesnoff, wasn't immediately available for comment. Gonzalez was arrested Sept. 30 in San Francisco. Villagrana, of Gilroy, Calif., was with Pettigrew when he was shot. Two Vagos members were wounded in the casino shootout, and another was shot in the stomach the next morning by a gunman in a passing car. Triplett said Villagrana was charged with murder because he can be seen on casino security video drawing a gun and shooting at others. Villagrana was arrested the night of the shooting with a 9mm Smith and Wesson semi-automatic handgun that had been reported stolen in Arizona in 1998, police said. He was previously freed on $150,000 bail after being charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon, carrying a concealed weapon illegally and discharging a firearm in a structure. Villagrana has not entered a plea on any of the charges. Richard Schonfeld, defense co-counsel, told Sparks Justice Court Judge Susan Deriso during a court appearance that Villagrana came from a stable family and had no prior felony convictions.

Four-year sentence for fatal Maple Ridge stabbing


A drunken argument between two men on their way to an after-hours bash at a Hells Angels clubhouse led to the fatal stabbing of one and a four-year sentence for the other. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ronald McKinnon handed Coquitlam's Andrew Leach the jail term Monday after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter for killing James William Ball on Sept. 25, 2009. Leach has already been in jail for more than two years, so McKinnon credited him with double-time and said the sentence equalled an eight-year term. McKinnon addressed Ball's family in the New Westminster courtroom before pronouncing the sentence. "I can only express the court's sympathy for their very grave loss. Nothing done today is going to lessen their burden or make things easier. I read the very poignant victim impact statements which underscore the loss and pain this offence has occasioned to these innocent victims," McKinnon said. "I doubt that I am the first person to observe that this death was completely avoidable which makes it all the more tragic." Crown prosecutor Andrew Blunt read an agreed statement of facts and played a grainy, dark video of the fatal stabbing behind a Safeway on Lougheed Highway in Maple Ridge. Leach, Ball and a third man had been drinking at Club Climax in Maple Ridge until it closed at 2 a.m. They all decided to head to a nearby HA clubhouse for an after-hours party in a truck driven by the third man, Blunt explained. During the ride, Ball, 43, and Leach, now 28, began to argue. The driver pulled over behind the Safeway to relieve himself, as the conflict between the two men escalated and they got out of the truck. The Safeway video shows Leach repeatedly stabbing Ball, who is left slumped over a railing on the loading dock. The driver panicked and took off, though later returned for Leach, Blunt said. Ball was not discovered for more than three hours and later died from massive blood loss. McKinnon noted that the injuries to his neck, chest and abdomen wouldn't have been fatal if Ball had received help right away. "It seems apparent that immediate aid for Mr. Ball following his stab wounds would have saved his life," McKinnon said. Instead, Leach was dropped at his Coquitlam condo and learned the next day that Ball had died. The friend present at the crime scene ended up cooperating with police and wore a wire when he later met with Leach to get details of the stabbing. During the recorded meeting, Leach said "because he used a small knife, the wounds should not have been fatal." He explained that he had got rid of the murder weapon and burned his clothes. Leach was originally charged with second-degree murder. He pleaded guilty two months ago to manslaughter. The young father had no criminal history until the stabbing, McKinnon noted. "While one can evoke alcohol as a contributing factor, it does not excuse the crime nor does anyone suggest that it should," the judge said. "Perhaps it stands as a wake-up call to those whose consumption of alcohol tends to deprive them of reason and sense." He said he didn't know what the argument was about, "but it had to be something quite frivolous but made into a big deal because of alcohol consumption."

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Rio de Janeiro’s most wanted drugs baron who controlled the drug trade in South America’s biggest favela with fear and intimidation for 30 years has been arrested

Pictures showed Lopes, 35, looking anguished in handcuffs as he was led to an armoured vehicle by heavily-armed police
Rio de Janeiro’s most wanted drugs baron who controlled the drug trade in South America’s biggest favela with fear and intimidation for 30 years has been arrested after a high risk undercover police operation.  Photo: AP
Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, known as Nem, was captured after being discovered hiding in the boot of a car stopped at a roadblock, as police surrounded the sprawling Rocinha shanty-town in an attempt finally to wrest back control of the area.

Pictures showed Lopes, 35, looking anguished in handcuffs as he was led to an armoured vehicle by heavily-armed police following his arrest at around midnight on Wednesday.

Brazilian police said the man driving the car had claimed to be a Congolese diplomat in an attempt to avoid the vehicle being searched before the occupants offered a bribe of one million Brazilian reais (£357,000) for police to let them go.

Residents of Rocinha and wealthy neighbouring districts alike were gripped by fear amid concerns that the operation could lead to open street battles between police and criminal gangs armed with machine guns, assault rifles and grenades.

Twelve families were reportedly forced from their houses in the night by gang members who wanted to use them as hideouts, while children who attend schools in the area were being excused from lessons.

Wife of murdered Liverpool gangster Colin Smith appeals for information four years on


THE wife of a Liverpool gangster who was shot dead outside a gym four years ago today called for his killers to be brought to justice. Caroline Smith made a public appeal for information on the anniversary of the death of husband and dad-of-six Colin Smith. He was gunned down as he left Nel’s Gym, in Alderwood Road, Speke, on Tuesday November 13, 2007. Caroline, who was with her husband for 13 years and had four sons aged between seven and 12 with him, said: “It has been four years since Colin was murdered and I cannot rest until the people who carried out this cowardly attack on my husband are caught and put before the courts. “I am convinced there are people out there who know who killed Colin and I cannot understand how they can stand by and say nothing. They are as cowardly as the person who pulled the trigger. “Our worlds were turned upside down the night Colin was killed and I ask anyone who has any information which could lead to the arrest of those responsible to contact the police, so we as a family can find some closure.” On the night of his death, 40-year-old Mr Smith, a passionate Evertonian, took his eldest son to football training. Police believe he was “lured” to the gym, in Alderwood Avenue, for the attack. As he left the gym at about 8pm to return to his black Ford Galaxy car, he was shot twice at close-range in the stomach. It was believed to be a gangland hit. Officers today appealed to anyone who was in the area at the time who may have seen anything which could help inquiries to come forward.

Drug Smuggling Accused Border Guard Baljinder Kandola At Loss For Words At Trial


While one former Indo-Canadian border guard got five years for his part in a drug smuggling ring – another is currently on trial for his part in a different operation that brought millions of illicit drugs into Canada. Baljinder Kandola, a former Canadian border guard who was charged with being part of a cocaine-smuggling ring, was at a loss for words during much of his testimony on Tuesday to explain why he risked so much to help a millionaire auto-parts importer for nothing in return. Under cross-examination by Crown counsel James Torrance, Kandola said he agreed to wave his co-accused Shminder Singh Johal and associates in his three automotive companies through the border, helping them avoid inspection, reported the Province newspaper. Kandola — who worked at the Pacific Highway crossing from July 2001 until his arrest on Oct. 25, 2007 — admitted he made unauthorized use of Canadian Border Services Agency databases to come to the conclusion Johal had been subjected to inspections over the years unfairly. “He asked if I was able to wave him through,” Kandola told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Selwyn Romilly, who is hearing the case without a jury. “It would save him time and money, and he wouldn’t be harassed.” Torrance reminded Kandola of his testimony a day earlier, when he said he was risking his job, his pension and his standing in the Sikh community by breaking his oath to protect Canada’s borders. “What was [Johal] offering you in return?” asked the prosecutor. “He didn’t offer me anything,” replied Kandola. “In my mind he was bringing auto parts into Canada.” Torrance asked, “This [waving Johal through] was definitely something you shouldn’t do?” “Yes,” agreed the witness. “Then why would you want to help a successful millionaire businessman?” Kandola replied: “I don’t know, I’ve asked myself the same question.” Torrance turned to Kandola’s illegal use of the databases to come to the conclusion Johal was unfairly harassed. A “lookout” had been placed on Johal’s border crossings after a tip from the RCMP. “Did you not consider [Johal] was previously suspected of smuggling cocaine?” asked Torrance. “No,” said Kandola. “That was all cleared up by your queries [into the databases]?” “I guess so,” replied the defendant. Torrance then meticulously went through Kandola’s phone, text and CBSA database records to show that he called Johal to let him know when he was in position to wave him through the border and when the “lookout” was on or off during the wee hours of Feb. 10, 2007. Asked if he was paid by Johal when they met at a 7-Eleven store the next day, Kandola denied it. Kandola was arrested on Oct. 25, 2007, shortly after he waved through a car driven by Herman Riar that contained 208 kilograms of cocaine. Riar pleaded guilty to drug smuggling and was sentenced last year to 12 years in prison. Kandola and Johal have pleaded not guilty to charges of drug smuggling, illegal firearms, conspiracy and bribing an official. The trial in New Westminster is scheduled to last three more weeks.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Britain's FBI 'abandoned chasing crime Mr Bigs because it's too difficult'


The elite unit set up by Labour to fight major criminals has failed to catch crime bosses because it is ‘too difficult’ and may even have been infiltrated by the underworld, says a whistleblower. The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is supposed to be Britain’s answer to the FBI. When it was launched, Tony Blair pledged the organisation would ‘make life hell’ for the country’s ‘Mr Bigs’. It recruited from the cream of the police, immigration, customs and MI5 and had more than 4,000 staff in offices all over the world.  But Tim Lee, a former intelligence officer with SOCA, claims the agency has been blighted by corruption and bureaucracy. Mr Lee, 58, who joined SOCA in Nottingham when it was formed in 2006, paints a damning picture of his five years in the organisation. He claims: An investigation into a crime boss was mysteriously dropped when a SOCA officer with alleged links to the suspect took over the running of the case. Allegations of serious sexual misconduct made by a female SOCA worker against a male colleague were covered up. Hostility arose between police, customs and immigration officers when operational units were first formed in 2006.

B.C. skipper linked to cocaine shipment posed beside pile of cash


Just weeks before notorious B.C. skipper John Philip Stirling was caught near Colombia on a boat full of cocaine, he sent his neighbour in Chase — a community in B.C.'s Shuswap region — photos of himself lying on the floor beside a giant pile of money.


In the accompanying email, Stirling told Shawn Martin that he wouldn't repay cash he owed him despite being flush after a recent trip to the South American cocaine centre.


Bizarre details of Stirling's feud with his neighbours, Martin and his mother Myrna Beckman, over loans totalling $30,000 are laid out in a suit and counter-suit filed in August and September in Kamloops Supreme Court and obtained the Vancouver Sun.


Stirling was arrested by the U.S. Coast Guard on Oct. 18 just north of Colombia with 400 kilograms of cocaine secreted aboard his sailboat. He is currently detained in a Miami Detention Centre where he told officials "there was nothing wrong with cocaine trafficking and that the United States should mind its own business."


"He further remarked that if Canada didn't have such high taxes, (he and his co-accused) could get legitimate jobs."


If allegations in the B.C. court documents are accurate, some in the town of 2,500 were aware of Stirling's plan to import cocaine.


Martin and Beckman, who live down the road from Stirling and his wife Marlene, say in their court claim they heard at a barbecue last March "that the plaintiff John Stirling was in Colombia setting up a massive cocaine deal."


Martin and Beckman said their efforts to get repayment on several loans to the Stirlings were met with threats and harassment.


They also said accusations by the Stirlings that the neighbours were the aggressors in the dispute are ridiculous — Martin has dwarfism and gets around with crutches and a wheelchair; his mother, 63, is his caregiver.


Both Martin and Beckman declined to comment to the Sun because their case is before the courts. Marlene Stirling did not return calls.


The documents show that Stirling, a 60-year-old convicted cocaine trafficker, struck first against his neighbours, filing a suit on Aug. 29 asking for $10 million in damages.


Stirling said in a brief synopsis that over the last two years, his disabled neighbour and mom have threatened the Stirlings "with bodily harm and death."


"The defendants have written the plaintiffs blackmail letters for money," Stirling wrote. "The defendants have caused anxiety, depression, stress, loss of sleep requiring medical care to the petitioners.


"The defendants have caused travel to become necessary from Colombia for John Stirling at great expense and loss from work to protect his family . . . The defendants have or have attempted to hire Hells Angels to cause murder or physical harm to the plaintiffs and have made statements by phone and email of that intent," the Stirling claim said.


The neighbours fired back in a detailed defence filed Sept. 14, denying all the allegations and making a counter-claim.


They said that, unlike Stirling, they have no criminal record and no connection to the notorious biker gang.


"The defendants do not know any Hells Angels or Hells Angels associates and have never had dealings with them or hired them to do anything," Martin and Beckman said, adding the only information they have about the Angels came from the Stirlings themselves.


"The plaintiff Marlene Stirling also told the defendants that two Hells Angels members sat at her kitchen table and had coffee on multiple different times," the documents said.


They said they learned in an Internet search of Stirling's 2001 bust on his fishing boat, the Western Wind, with 2.5 tonnes of cocaine owned by the Hells Angels. He was never charged.


Tensions escalated between the former friends in August, when Stirling "was back from Colombia and was bragging that he had two suitcases full of money containing in excess of $200,000," the mother-son team said.


Martin fired off an email, "asking John to pay the rest of the money the plaintiffs owed the defendants for loans from June 1, 2007, to Feb. 23, 2011."


On Aug. 23, Stirling sent his neighbours "an email with a picture of him laying on the floor of his Adams' Lake residence with a pile of money in front of him, holding a piece of paper with Aug. 19, 2011, written on it," the claim said.


The email said: "I told you if you waited you would have got paid, but since you didn't, you will never receive a dime and everyone else has been paid back for their investment but you."


They said Stirling warned them that he would go to court and ruin them if they didn't back off.


"The defendants have videotape evidence of the plaintiff John Stirling threatening to kill more than one person at gunpoint," the documents said.


"On Sept. 10, 2011, the defendants were informed that the plaintiff John Stirling has been seeking to hire people to burn down the defendants' house and cause physical harm to them."


Martin and Beckman said "a man calling himself Ryan showed up at the defendants' residence wearing a black leather jacket with a Hells Angel patch and was looking for the plaintiff John Stirling because John apparently owed this guy Ryan money."


Martin said in the court statement that he called Stirlings' house and warned Marlene that someone was looking for John "and that he sounded really p—ed off."



ARRESTED 60-year-old, who is originally from Blackpool, but has been living in the Marbella area of Spain

Armed Naval and Gardai personnel with cocaine which was seized from a yacht off the west coast of Ireland

Armed Naval and Gardai personnel with cocaine which was seized from a yacht off the west coast of Ireland


A BLACKPOOL man has been arrested for allegedly being part of a £250m international cocaine smuggling racket.


Police, acting under orders from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) – dubbed Britain’s FBI –swooped in the town to capture John Alan Brooks.

The 60-year-old, who is originally from Blackpool, but has been living in the Marbella area of Spain, was found at an address in Marton.

His arrest comes as part of a major investigation which was launched in 2008 when a 1.5 tonnes shipment of cocaine was seized off the coast of Ireland.

The luxury yacht Dances With Waves was carrying drugs with an estimated value of 300m euros or £250m.

Naval officers boarded her after she got into trouble 170 miles off the south west coast of Ireland.

Brooks is known to have had addresses previously in both the Commonedge Road area of Blackpool and in Lytham and St Annes.

It is believed he was visiting family members in Blackpool when police moved in.

A spokesman for SOCA confirmed: “A man allegedly linked to a plot to smuggle 1.5 tonnes of cocaine into the UK on board the boat Dances with Waves was arrested as part of a Serious Organised Crime Agency investigation.

“John Alan Brooks has been charged with conspiracy to import cocaine.

“He is originally from Blackpool, but has been living in the Benahavis area of Spain,

“He appeared at Birmingham Magistrates Court on Monday. He has been remanded in custody and is due to appear at Birmingham Crown Court this coming Monday.”

The drugs seizure was reportedly the largest in Irish history when it was made in November 2008.

Dances With Waves – a 60ft ocean-going yacht – had set sail from Trinidad and was heading for the UK when it got into difficulties in stormy weather.

It was reported 70 bales of cocaine were on the verge of capsizing when Naval officers moved in.

Authorities were forced to board the ship in “horrendous weather conditions” to prevent evidence being lost in the seven-metre swells.

Experts said although the yacht could travel at high speeds, it was not designed for rough weather.

Under armed guard, the crippled yacht was sailed to Castletownbere, west Cork, where plastic-wrapped bales which filled the hull were unloaded and stacked on the quayside.

n Philip Doo, 52, from Brixham, David Mufford, 44, of Torquay, and Christopher Wiggins, 42, with an address in Spain’s Costa del Sol were arrested on the yacht.

They later pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply.

All received 10-year sentences at Cork Circuit Criminal Court in May 2009

Attacks on Montreal lawyers lead to mistrial in cabbie murder


Violent intimidation tactics targeting Montreal lawyers appear to be working. A judge declared a mistrial Wednesday in the case of a murdered cab driver after the defence counsel suddenly quit. Joseph La Leggia, said to be despondent over the savage beating last Friday of fellow lawyer Gilles Dore, withdrew "for medical and personal reasons," Judge Michael Stober announced in court. La Leggia had himself been badly beaten outside his home last December, the third lawyer so targeted in the past 12 months. The lawyer represented Nigel John, accused of second-degree murder in the Nov. 2009 death of taxi driver Mohammed Nehar-Belaid. The judge discharged the jury when La Leggia's co-counsel said they couldn't continue in La Leggia's absence. "This is an exceptional situation," said Crown prosecutor Helene Di Salvo. "We never expected that to happen in the middle of the trial, but there were no other options." The legal community has been on edge because of the three unsolved attacks. Last Friday lawyer Gilles Dore was beaten into a coma with a baseball bat outside his Montreal home. He represents three bikers facing trial for murder and gangsterism. Last month, the home of business litigation lawyer Thomas Kiriazi was targeted by Molotov cocktails. On Tuesday, someone left a suspicious package at the home of Montreal civil lawyer Bogdan Catanu. But fears were eased when police said the package was not meant as a threat and was simply an empty suitcase that had been dropped off by a bystander.

Son of Mom Boucher back in jail after Joliette charges


Francis Boucher, the son of notorious Hells Angels leader Maurice (Mom) Boucher, is back behind bars after he is alleged to have violated his statutory release on a 10-year prison sentence. The younger Boucher, known by the nickname Le Fils when he was part of a Hells Angels underling gang, was sentenced in 2002 after pleading guilty to charges filed from Operation Springtime 2001, a major police investigation into the biker gang's Nomad chapter in Montreal. Boucher, 36, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, drug trafficking and participation in a criminal organization. The charges involved crimes committed during a bloody conflict between the Hells Angels and other organized crime groups in Quebec from 1994 to 2002. Boucher was able to leave a federal penitentiary in 2009, after he reached the twothirds mark of his sentence. The Gazette has learned that he was returned to a penitentiary in Laval this year and is scheduled to have a hearing before the Parole Board of Canada in December. The board is to decide whether to revoke his statutory release officially. His release is believed to have been suspended when Boucher was arrested and charged on Aug. 31 in Joliette with harassment of, and threatening to kill or cause bodily harm to, a woman. According to court records, he has been detained since his arrest by Repentigny police. His next court date in that case is scheduled for Nov. 16. Maurice (Mom) Boucher is serving three life sentences for orchestrating the murders of two prison guards and the attempted murder of another.

New Orleans homicide rate is 10 times the national average. But gangs and drugs don't explain it.

New Orleans

At half-past midnight, as Halloween stretched into All Saints Day, a thick crowd of revelers was milling around the corner of Bourbon and St. Louis streets in New Orleans' famed French Quarter when a series of gun shots erupted. On security footage later released by police, the crowd scattered as suddenly as a school of bait fish at the approach of a barracuda.

But for eight in the crowd it wasn't quick enough. Seven were wounded and one, 25-year-old Albert Glover, the target of the attacker, died on the scene.

Just over an hour later and six blocks away, gunfire rang out again. This time Joshua Lewis, 19, and three other teenagers were cut down in a fusillade of 32 bullets fired by a single assailant following a brief altercation. Lewis later died at a local hospital. In all 16 people were shot in New Orleans on Halloween night, a butcher's bill that shook even the jaded citizens of America's deadliest city.

The violence left New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas strapped to the hot seat. Appointed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu in May of 2010, Mr. Serpas—the former police chief of Nashville, Tenn.—came into office vowing to stem a tide of violent crime and reform what he called "one of the most dysfunctional police departments in American history." In Mr. Serpas's first 18 months more than 60 officers have been fired or have resigned under investigation, including members of the department's top brass. Overall, nearly 200 officers have left for a variety of reasons.

Over the same period, the city's murder rate has risen. As of this week, 164 homicides have been committed in New Orleans in 2011, on pace to eclipse last year's total of 172. To put that number in perspective, New York City, with more than 20 times the population of New Orleans, had 536 murders last year. If New York had New Orleans's homicide rate, more than 4,000 people would have been murdered there last year, about 11 every day.

In response to public outcry over the bloodshed, Mr. Serpas has offered a plethora of reform ideas. His public statements are peppered with references to his 65-point plan to remake the department, the adoption of crime-interdiction strategies such as Project Safe Neighborhoods, and enhanced community policing efforts to help repair the police department's tattered image.

Associated Press

The French Quarter in New Orleans

With his outlines, flow charts and ready recitation of reams of statistics, Mr. Serpas sounds every inch the embodiment of a modern police commander. Early in his tenure such proficiency was a welcome change from the questionable competence of his predecessors. But as the murders have persisted and department morale has sagged, his penchant for data-speak has worn thin on the citizenry.

To be fair, from the outset Mr. Serpas has been somewhat circumspect about his department's ability to reduce homicides. When pressed he is apt to say things like there is no "silver bullet" and he comes close at times to suggesting that the murder epidemic is beyond his power to stem—a point which, whatever its accuracy, does not instill confidence in a traumatized populace.

At a city council hearing following the Halloween shootings, Mr. Serpas was pressed to identify the source of the murder problem. Were more police the solution? Not really, he responded. He's brought in nationally recognized researchers to advise the department on the root of the murder problem, but they didn't have any easy answers: "People who've studied homicide their whole life say 'Why is that number that way?'" he told the council.

In March, the Justice Department (which is negotiating a consent decree regarding court supervision of the New Orleans Police Department) released an analysis of the city's crime problem that did contain some insights. Contrary to popular perception, it found that New Orleans' overall crime rate—including its rate of violent crime—is lower than that of other cities of comparable size. It's even lower than the crime rate in such family-friendly destinations as Orlando, Fla.

But that news comes with a giant caveat: The Big Easy's homicide rate (52 homicides per 100,000 residents) is 10 times higher than the national average and almost five times that of other cities of its size.

Why is the city such a murder outlier? In many jurisdictions, the Justice Department notes, gangs and drugs are principal drivers of the murder rate. Not so in New Orleans, which has comparatively little gang activity or organized violence related to the drug trade. Nor do the killings tend to happen in back alleys or vacant buildings as they often do in other places. More often they occur in residential neighborhoods in close proximity to witnesses. And more often the motivation is not random robbery, but revenge or argument.

In short, the killing in New Orleans is personal. "What appear to be different about homicides in New Orleans are the circumstances of the events," Justice Department investigators noted. "In reading the narratives of the offenses, one is struck by their ordinariness—arguments and disputes that escalate into homicide."

This presents Mr. Serpas and his troops with a different sort of policing challenge. Law enforcement can disrupt gangs and target drug kingpins. But what does it do about a culture in which Glocks have become the preferred tool for settling petty disputes?

The word Mr. Serpas and other officials frequently invoke to describe their approach is "holistic," a term more commonly associated with ashrams and yoga gurus than big city cops. But at bottom, the superintendent insists, the bloodshed in New Orleans isn't going to be solved just by putting more cops on the beat or cracking down on minor violators. After all, Mr. Serpas noted, the Halloween night shooting of eight people on Bourbon Street happened with policemen standing a few feet away from the gunman. "It did not make a difference in this young man's mind."

Changing the mindset of young men who settle beefs with bullets is a tall order for any community. To make an enduring dent in the murder rate, the cops will need to get into the neighborhoods, at a granular level, using street intelligence, diversion programs and targeted sweeps on a sustained level. And even then, breaking the city's crippling culture of violence will take more than a reformed police force can provide.

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