Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Gang murdered drug dealer then blew up his house


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

Jurors convict two men of first-degree murder in shooting death near Delray Beach


A jury convicted two men of first-degree murder Tuesday in connection with the 2007 shooting death of John Blazevige, whose body was found outside his still idling pick-up truck near Delray Beach. It took three days for jurors to return the verdicts against Michael Marquardt and Louis Baccari at the end of the week-long trial. At times they seemed entrenched into two separate camps, but in the end they made the unanimous decision to return the convictions on murder and armed robbery for each man. "We were surprised, and disappointed," Baccari's defense attorney Andrew Strecker said. "We thought for sure it would have been a hung jury." More puzzling, Strecker said, were the jury's findings in their verdict. For example, they found that Baccari, the alleged triggerman, had not used a firearm during the robbery of Blazevige, but they convicted him of armed robbery anyhow. Prosecutors Sherri Collins and Aaron Papero built their case largely on the testimony of Antonio Bussey, who deputies originally said was responsible for the killing. His DNA was found on the murder weapon, but he told deputies that Marquardt had made him touch the gun after Baccari shot Blazevige during a bad drug deal, telling him that they were "all in it together." Bussey made a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for a 21-year sentence. Hours before they returned the verdicts Tuesday, jurors asked to hear Bussey's testimony again. Baccari's and Marquardt's attorneys Strecker and Scott Skier asked Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath to also allow jurors to hear their entire cross examinations of Bussey, but the judge ruled that jurors only needed to hear a small portion of it. Colbath also denied defense attorneys' subsequent requests for a mistrial. Baccari's relatives outside the courtroom described him as a warm-hearted person and said they were convinced there was no way he would ever harm Blazevige, who had been his longtime friend and formerly lived in West Palm Beach. Prosecutors had said that Blazevige was addicted to prescription drugs and had met Baccari, Marquardt and Bussey to buy pills when he was killed. But defense attorneys, along with Baccari's family, say Bussey made a deal with prosecutors even though he knew he was the one who killed Blazevige in order to avoid the life sentences both Baccari and Marquardt will now inevitably receive as result of their convictions. Colbath set sentencing for Marquart, a landscape company owner who lived in Boynton Beach, and Baccari for April 2.

Drug gangs report blasting UK cities as dangerous


 Comment By Professor Alan Stevens Drug gangs report blasting UK cities as dangerous is too confusing The problems are nowhere near as deep in Manchester or Liverpool as they are in Rio de Janeiro – or even San Francisco A masked municipal policeman stands outside a shopping mall in MexicoAP On one hand it is right to state that there are communities in British cities suffering from social exclusion and marginalisation and that this contributes to their drug and crime problems. But on the other, these ­problems are nowhere near as deep in Manchester or Liverpool as they are in Rio de Janeiro or Ciudad Juarez – or even San Francisco or Los Angeles. The problem with the INCB report is that the wording is unclear. It gives the impression that its comments on no-go areas could apply equally to all of these cities. But it should have been more careful in specifying which ones it was referring to. The cities in Central and South America have more extreme ­problems which come from bigger social inequalities. They are dramatically more affected by crime and health problems. For example, in the past few years in Rio there have been repeated attempts to crack down on the areas controlled by violent drug markets. For a while these places were no-go zones. But authorities have acted in a militaristic fashion in the past year as they prepare for the World Cup.

British cities are becoming no-go areas where drugs gangs are effectively in control

British cities are becoming no-go areas where drugs gangs are effectively in control, a United Nations drugs chief said yesterday. Professor Hamid Ghodse, president of the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), said there was “a vicious cycle of social exclusion and drugs problems and fractured communities” in cities such as Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester. The development of “no-go areas” was being fuelled by threats such as social inequality, migration and celebrities normalising drug abuse, he warned. Helping marginalised communities with drugs problems “must be a priority”, he said. “We are looking at social cohesion, the social disintegration and illegal drugs. “In many societies around the world, whether developed or developing, there are communities within the societies which develop which become no-go areas. “Drug traffickers, organised crime, drug users, they take over. They will get the sort of governance of those areas.” Prof Ghodse called for such communities to be offered drug abuse prevention programmes, treatment and rehabilitation services, and the same levels of educational, employment and recreational opportunities as in the wider society. The INCB’s annual report for 2011 found persistent social inequality, migration, emerging cultures of excess and a shift in traditional values were some of the key threats to social cohesion. As the gap between rich and poor widens, and “faced with a future with limited opportunities, individuals within these communities may increasingly become disengaged from the wider society and become involved in a range of personally and socially harmful behaviours, including drug abuse and drug dealing,” it said.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Britain’s biggest international criminals has walked free from court despite been accused of attempting to smuggle £80 million worth of cocaine into the U.K.

A man who was named one of the Britain’s biggest international criminals has walked free from court despite been accused of attempting to smuggle £80 million worth of cocaine into the U.K.

Jamie Dempsey, 33, was suspected of plotting to flood London and the south-east with 299kg (660lb) of high-purity cocaine in 2009.

He appeared on a ‘most wanted’ list of crooks hiding in the Costa Del Sol - nicknamed ‘Costa Del Crime’ - and even featured on BBC’s Crimewatch programme.

Freed: Jamie Dempsey, centre, leaves court with his friends and family after being acquitted of his involvement in an £80m euro cocaine empire

Freed: Jamie Dempsey, centre, leaves court with his friends and family after being acquitted of his involvement in an £80m euro cocaine empire

Speaking outside of court after being cleared of any wrongdoing, Dempsey said: 'I’m just relieved the nightmare is over.

'I couldn’t be further from being a criminal - I’m just a penniless plumber from Essex.




'I was in Marbella at my parent’s house when I was arrested - the police simply got the wrong man, it was a case of mistaken identity but I don’t want to say any more.

'My face has been all over the TV and the newspapers, my friends and family have been put through hell.h

'I just want to have a good meal and get on with my life.'

Arrested: Dempsey was cuffed in Benhavis, a mountain village near Marbella in Spain in a police operation that cost £1m

Hiding place: Dempsey was cuffed in Benhavis, a mountain village near Marbella in Spain in a police operation that cost £1m

A two-year investigation, costing over £1million pounds, was launched to track Dempsey who was believed to be evading capture in Spain.

Officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) finally arrested him with the help of the Spanish police in Benhavis, Marbella, last May following a tip-off from the public.

His capture was hailed as a 'great result' but on Monday he was dramatically cleared of conspiracy to supply cocaine after a four-week trial.

Last May police named Dempsey as a suspected drug lord living the high life in the Costa Del Sol.

But a jury of five men and four women took nine-and-a-half hours to find him not guilty.

Judge Michael Pert ordered the court to be cleared after Dempsey’s family erupted into cheers after the verdict was read out. 

Fernando Hurtado was sentenced to 28 years in jail at Leicester Crown Court
John Esqulant was sentenced to 28 years in jail at Leicester Crown

Jailed: Fernando Hurtado, left, and John Esqulant, right, were both sentenced to 28 years behind bars

Speaking outside Leicester Crown Court his sister Natalie Dempsey, 24, said: 'We are just happy he’s coming home.

'Our family has been torn apart because of this. We’re going to give him a proper Essex home coming.

'The champagne will be flowing in Chigwell when he comes home. He doesn’t normally drink or smoke but he’ll want to party hard after all this.

'The police got the wrong man but they didn’t care. They just wanted to arrest someone in the Costa Del Sol and send them down.'

Last year three people arrested in the same police ‘sting’ operation as Dempsey were jailed for a total of 55 years.

Taxi driver John Esqulant and Colombian Fernando Hurtado were each jailed for 23 years at the same court after they were convicted of conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Part-time model and promising footballer Frank Stedman was jailed for nine years after admitting the same offence.

The sting operation began in March 2009 when officers posed as criminals who could arrange delivery of the drugs.

Three Soca agents met 41-year-old Hurtado, from Woking, Surrey, at a site in Waltham Abbey, Essex, to organise the delivery.

Two weeks later, Stedman, 26, of North Weald, Essex, paid the officers £320,800 in cash as part-payment for the drugs.

Shortly after the handover in April, armed officers stopped the van containing the Class A drug near an industrial estate in Markfield, Leics.

Esqulant, 52, of Theydon Bois, Essex, and Hurtado were arrested the same day while Stedman was brought in as he stepped off a flight at Heathrow airport in June 2010.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Putin assassination plot foiled: Russian officials


Ukrainian security services have thwarted a plot to kill Russian PM Vladimir Putin, Russian officials say. Two suspects were detained in the Ukrainian port of Odessa, Russia's state-owned Channel One TV reports. The arrested men were both shown on TV admitting their involvement in the plot, after an explosion at a flat in January in which one suspect died. Ukrainian security officials have refused to confirm the arrests were part of a plot to assassinate Mr Putin. But the Russian prime minister's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told the BBC that the report was correct: "this was absolutely a plot to kill the prime minister." The attack was to happen after next Sunday's presidential vote, the report said. Mr Putin is expected to win the election and get a third term as president. The BBC's Daniel Sandford in Moscow said the two men were both shown on Russian TV, one being interrogated and the other giving an interview. Continue reading the main story Analysis Daniel Sandford BBC News, Moscow The Ukrainian security services have told the BBC that they did arrest some people in January after an apartment explosion. But when we asked them if it was part of a plot to assassinate Mr Putin, spokeswoman Maryna Ostapenko said she did not know what to say. She would not go on the record to confirm that this was part of a plot to kill Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. So it goes back only to the very detailed Russian Channel One report which even interviewed one of the suspects. But at this stage the Ukrainian authorities do not confirm that these men are being held in any way in connection with an assassination plot. In the footage, both admit plotting to attack Mr Putin. One, identified by Ria Novosti as Ilya Pyanzin, said he had been hired by Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov to carry out the killing and also by Ruslan Madayev, the suspect who died in the Odessa explosion. The other suspect was named by Channel One as Adam Osmayev, said to have been on an international wanted list since 2007. The plotters were planning to plant mines on Kutuzovsky Avenue in Moscow, used by Mr Putin on a daily basis, the report said. Russian media report that Mr Pyanzin was arrested in the Odessa flat where the explosion happened. He told police that he and Madayev had flown to Ukraine from the United Arab Emirates via Turkey, with precise instructions from representatives of Doku Umarov. According to the reports, details of the plot were found on laptops in the flat, along with a video showing Mr Putin's motorcade. Mr Osmayev was reported to be the local fixer in Odessa and the instructor for the plotters, and had lived for a long time in London.

You can buy a Kalashnikov for a hundred euros on the back streets of Athens

"You can buy a Kalashnikov for a hundred euros on the back streets of Athens and people are doing so to guard their property," Mr Chrysanthopoulos told me from his home outside the capital yesterday. Thanks to the disastrous euro, his country is sliding remorselessly towards bankruptcy and disintegration. Modern Greece is an economic corpse, kept on life support by Germany and France, who fear the euro will be destroyed if they admit the truth. Last week's £110BILLION bailout was not aimed at rescuing the Greek people. It was to save the euro from total collapse. Yet the country seems doomed to another historic crisis as disastrous as the German occupation, a bloody civil war and years of military rule. "What we risk today is anarchy, the collapse of society and a breakdown in law and order," says Mr Chrysanthopoulos, 66. "We have more than 20,000 homeless families in Athens alone. "There are food lines for the hungry, which have not been seen since the Second World War. "Penniless pensioners are begging in the streets. People are bartering for essentials, living hand to mouth." Sooner or later they will be thrown out of the euro — the greatest peacetime catastrophe in the history of Europe. Hatred seethes against Germany, which in 1942 reduced Greece to starvation and slavery during its brutal Nazi occupation. A Greek radio station has just been fined for describing German Chancellor Angela Merkel as a "dirty Berlin slut". Nazi resistance fighter Manolis Glezos, now 89, says Germany plundered Greece for the equivalent of £138billion in the 1940s. "They grab us by the throat for the debt — let's do the same to them for the reparations," he says. Germans hit back, branding the Greeks "idle swindlers". They claim nobody pays tax because bandit politicians steal their money. The insults are fuelling precisely the nationalistic antagonism that sowed the seeds for two world wars — and which the EU was created to eliminate forever. Germany and France, who must accept the blame for allowing Greece into the euro at all, are terrified of contagion. So they are forcing this humiliated nation to slash pay and pensions to starvation levels. Last week's costly bailout has bought time — and the fantasy of an orderly default. Mr Chrysanthopoulos feels betrayed by the euro currency con. But he is not alone. Charles Kennedy, the Lib Dems' fervently pro-euro ex-leader, last week admitted: "I was wrong." His successor, the made-in-Brussels Nick Clegg, admits he would no longer join the euro. Two former editors of the fanatically pro-Brussels Financial Times confess they backed the wrong horse. Ex-EU Commissioner Frits Bolkestein admits: "The euro has failed." We will never hear honesty like that from Ken Clarke and Michael Heseltine, who lost the Tories three elections by stoking the row over Europe. But unlike Mr Chrysanthopoulos, they will probably die comfortably in their beds without witnessing the hideous consequences. Greek instability risks spilling over to fragile ex-fascist regimes Spain and Portugal. If it does, we can only hope it doesn't bring chaos to Italy — then to France. People will take only so much belt-tightening austerity. More revolutions have been triggered by oppressive taxes than anything else. The drive for ever closer political and economic union and the end of national rivalry was aimed at ending war in Europe. We must pray the arrogant fools who launched this undemocratic juggernaut do not achieve precisely the opposite.

TONY Adams has been compared to TV gangster Tony Soprano, and his gang are rumoured to be responsible for 25 murders.


 When he appeared in court last November, he gave his address as the cottage in Barnet. Land Registry documents confirm the property is owned by Cole, 31. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the player, who has a multi-million-pound property investment portfolio. Adams, once said to be worth £150 million, headed a notorious North London crime gang nicknamed the A-team or Adams Family. He bought a yacht and sent his daughter to a private school. But in 2007 he was jailed for seven years — for money laundering his own wages — after an undercover operation by MI5 and the Serious Organised Crime Agency. Just like Chicago mobster Al Capone, he had escaped justice for years before finally being nailed for tax evasion. Officers spent 21 months and £10 million eavesdropping on Adams. During the probe his accountant was killed in a drive-by shooting, and a hitman was reputedly buried in the foundations of London's O2 Arena. A search of Adams' £1million former home uncovered £700,000 worth of stolen goods. Adams was released in 2010 after serving half his sentence. But last year he was sent back to do the rest of his time after he defied a financial reporting order and failed to declare luxury purchases including a £7,500 facelift. His earliest release date is now December 2013.

Britain’s crime hot spots revealed


The findings, posted on an interactive website, will allow the public to discover how many cases of robbery, vehicle crime and other offences take place in their area – and to rank areas from best to worst. Oxford Street in London's West End was revealed to be the shopping destination surrounded by the most crime. During 2011, there were 656 vehicle crimes, 915 robberies and 2,597 violent crimes within three quarters of a mile of the Oxford Street branch of John Lewis. There were also 5,039 reported instances of anti-social behaviour – equivalent to 14 a day. High streets and shopping centres in Bristol, Brighton and Derby also featured in a top 10 of crime hot spots, according to the website  A spokesman for the New West End Company, which represents Oxford Street traders, said: "We need to remember that this is an area with extremely high footfall, with over 200 million visits a year. This data needs to be seen in context. "Oxford Street has seen an overall reduction in crime over the past 10 years, with our lobby for harder sentencing on crime having a positive impact." The Croydon postcode CR0 was found to have the highest number of crimes reported last year, with 5,000 more than any other postal area. The south London suburb was the scene of some of the most severe rioting last summer. During 2011, 2,081 burglaries, 3,258 violent crimes and 8,316 instances of anti-social behaviour were reported in the CR0 postcode district. Dan Lewis, the chief executive of the Economic Policy Centre, the Right-of-centre think-tank which carried out the analysis and created the website, said: "On the one hand it is good that the Government is now publishing such detailed crime statistics, but the official police website does not allow the public to put these figures in context. "It has taken us, as a private sector provider, to harness this data in a way which is much more helpful to consumers. "It's not just important that the Government becomes more transparent, it's vital that what information is published is actually useful to the public." Seven of the 10 schools with the highest number of crimes within three quarters of a mile of their gates were in London. Two were in Portsmouth and one in Bristol. Almost 8,250 acts of anti-social behaviour, robbery, vehicle crime or violent crime were reported within three quarters of a mile of Charing Cross railway station in London last year, 1,700 more than Newcastle's central railway station, which had the second-highest crime rate. There were also high numbers of crimes around stations in Birmingham, Blackpool and east London. Anyone craving a life free from crime should consider a move to Wales. Nearly a third of the 50 postcode districts with the lowest number of reported crimes last year were in Wales, with several on the island of Anglesey. Official figures suggest that the Welsh village of Garndolbenmaen, on the edge of the Snowdonia national park, had one reported crime last year – a single case of anti-social behaviour. Steve Churchman, who runs the village shop serving the 300 residents, said the area was "like Beirut" when he moved there from London eight years ago. "We had a real problem with anti-social behaviour back then," said Mr Churchman. "There was this gang of kids. We had a phonebox vandalised, a bus stop graffitied and a few break-ins." Mr Churchman said the falling crime figures in the village were a result of pushing for convictions on those residents who stepped out of line and having police office and community support officers out on the beat. The children who caused the trouble had grown up and were now "nice lads", he added.

Gangster’s moll rents a house from Ashley Cole


Gangster's moll Ruth Adams, 51, pays about £1,500 a month to rent the Chelsea defender's three-bedroom cottage. Her husband Terry, 57 — a fan of Chelsea's London rivals Arsenal — also lived at the property for 17 months between prison sentences. He moved in to the £600,000 home in Barnet, North London, after his release from a seven-year stretch for money laundering, before being banged up again last year. Neighbours often see loyal Ruth — who married Adams 29 years ago — driving a top-of-the-range Lexus. One local said: "It's funny that it's Cole's house because Terry is an avid Arsenal fan and was once linked to buying the Gunners. "Ruth is very polite but won't engage you in conversation for long. She's still close to her husband."

One of Italy’s most notorious gangsters, Enrico De Pedis, is buried in a Roman Catholic basilica near Piazza Navona.


 Why the Vatican allowed a top mobster to be buried in Sant’Apollinare has been a source of furious speculation since 1997, when the resting place of De Pedis — gunned down seven years earlier — was first revealed. The answer taking shape looks like something bestselling author Dan (The Da Vinci Code) Brown would have had trouble dreaming up. The story goes back to the 1980s and includes money-laundering allegations against the Vatican’s bank, the attempted assassination of the late Pope John Paul II, the murder-suicide of two Vatican Swiss guards, and the widely publicized kidnapping of a teenage girl. The shocking tale’s many threads began meshing in the mid 2000s. They were revived this week by the latest in a series of leaks that have rocked the Vatican — leaks observers believe are the result of an internal power struggle, one that has fuelled speculation about jostling to succeed Pope Benedict XVI. This time, a January letter from Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s spokesperson, has made its way to the media. The three-page letter, revealed by a program on the state-owned Rai Tre channel, focuses on the kidnapping of Emanuela Orlandi, a 15-year-old Vatican City resident who disappeared in 1983. She was last seen leaving her regular piano lesson outside the Vatican City walls. Her father was a clerk in the office organizing papal events. Last summer, a former member of De Pedis’ infamous Magliana gang, Antonio Mancini, was interviewed by La Stampa newspaper after spending years in jail. He said De Pedis had loaned the Vatican a huge sum of money. There is speculation it was to help fund Solidarity, the 1980 democracy movement in Poland, John Paul’s homeland. Mancini said Orlandi was kidnapped to pressure the Vatican when some of the money wasn’t returned. De Pedis’ girlfriend had said similar things a few years earlier. At the time, the Vatican was the main shareholder of Banco Ambrosiano, which had gone bankrupt. Roberto Calvi, Ambrosiano’s head, was found hanging from a London bridge in 1982. Mancini said part of De Pedis’ peace deal with the Vatican included burial in Sant’Apollinare, a church built in the 18th century and now run by the ultra-conservative Opus Dei movement. Church officials say De Pedis was buried there because he helped the poor. They’ve had less to say about the ruthless, Rome-based gang he headed. In January, Orlandi’s brother led a demonstration in front of the church, demanding the tomb be opened. Since an anonymous call to Rai Tre in 2005, there has been talk of it perhaps containing evidence of Orlandi’s disappearance. The Orlandi family wants to know if the body in the tomb is indeed De Pedis’. In his letter, Lombardi alludes to the rumours, according to excerpts released by Rai Tre. He also notes the cardinal in charge of the basilica has said he’s willing to have the tomb opened. “I don’t understand why this hasn’t happened yet,” Lombardi writes. Lombardi then discusses the Vatican’s refusal to help Italian police on some aspects of the Orlandi kidnap investigation. He wonders “if the non-collaboration with the Italian authorities . . . was a normal and justifiable affirmation of Vatican sovereignty, or if in fact circumstances were withheld that might have helped clear something up.” Reached by the Star, Lombardi laughed when asked about the letter. “You don’t have anything more important to write about?” he said. “I’ve had enough of this story. It seems like such a secondary thing to me that I have no comment to make.” Earlier leaks of Vatican documents included recent private letters to the Pope complaining of corruption and cronyism in the awarding of contracts. Other documents emerged reigniting allegations of money-laundering at the Vatican’s bank. Finally, a bizarre confidential letter from a Vatican official described a presumed plot to kill Benedict and discussed his potential successor. The day before Lombardi’s letter became public, another TV channel broadcast an interview with a man claiming to be a Vatican employee who leaked one of the documents. He looked like the Mafia turncoats Italians are used to seeing on TV — much of his face was covered by sunglasses, hat and scarf, and his voice was disguised. He complained about the failure to investigate the Orlandi kidnapping and alluded to the death of two Vatican Swiss guards in 1998. In that incident, Alois Estermann, commander of the Pontifical Swiss Guard at the Vatican, was killed, along with his wife, by Cedric Tornay, a young Swiss guard who then shot himself. That murder-suicide has spawned books filled with theories as to what really happened. One widely quoted scenario comes from Ferdinando Imposimato, a former magistrate who officially investigated some of the biggest criminal cases in Italy, including the shooting of Pope John Paul in 1981, and cases involving De Pedis’ gang. Imposimato is convinced secret police services in the former Soviet Union were involved in the plot to kill John Paul. He says Estermann was a spy for East Germany’s Stasi secret police, and was involved in Orlandi’s kidnapping. She was targeted because her father was the first to suspect Estermann as a spy, and told Imposimato so in 1981. Estermann was eventually killed, Imposimato says, because he knew too much. Imposimato is now working with the Orlandi family. Both are pushing for a full investigation — and the opening of De Pedis’ tomb.

New Lockerbie bomber evidence' may clear Abdelbaset al Megrahi

'Lockerbie: Case Closed accessed the ‘secret contents’ of the legal review into the case of Abdelbaset al Megrahi. Programme makers pored over the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission’s investigation to find fresh evidence – including the ‘dramatic results’ of new scientific tests that go against the original evidence. The documentary says the previously unseen information was not known to the commission and ‘comprehensively undermines’ the case against Megrahi. A total of 270 people were killed when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, south-west Scotland, on December 21, 1988. Megrahi is the only man to have been convicted of the atrocity – Europe’s worst terrorist attack. The Libyan was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001 but returned home in August 2009  after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. At the time, doctors estimated Megrahi had three months to live but he is still alive. Earlier this month, members of the Justice For Megrahi group accused the government of an ‘orchestrated desire’ to keep details of the case under wraps. They also said politicians ‘either have to be dishonest or ignorant’ to allow the secrecy to continue. The programme will be shown at 8pm on Al Jazeera English. It includes an interview with Megrahi filmed in December. John Ashton, who was part of Megrahi’s defence team, said: ‘The wrong man was convicted.’

Man claims he was under duress from gangland figure to steal


A jury has been told that a man accused of attempting to steal €1m from a cash-in-transit van over four years ago was acting under duress from gangland figure Eamonn Dunne. Joseph Warren (aged 30) of Belclare Crescent, Ballymun, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to conspiring to steal cash from Chubb Ireland at Tesco supermarket on the Shackleton Road in Celbridge on November 2, 2007. Detective Inspector Eugene Lynch headed a surveillance operation that observed five other men, Eamonn Dunne, brothers Alan and Wayne Bradley, Jeffrey Morrow and Michael Ryan travelling in four different vehicles behind the cash-in-transit van as it drove from the Chubb Security base in Birch Avenue, Stillorgan to the Tesco Shopping Centre. All six men were arrested that morning after Mr Warren and Mr Ryan were seen approaching the Chubb van as it was parked in Tesco Shopping Centre. Mr Warren was carrying a consaw while Mr Ryan tried unsuccessfully to open the doors of the van with a set of keys he brought with him. Det. Insp. Lynch told Alan Toal BL, defending, that he “could not say” when it was suggested to him that Mr Dunne was “public enemy number one” who was “supposed to have killed 17 people”. He accepted a further suggestion from counsel that according to media sources, Mr Dunne was “a gangland figure of calibre” but said he had no evidence of that. “He was an integral part of an organised criminal gang responsible for firearms, cash-in-transit robberies and drugs,” Det Insp Lynch said but again replied there was no evidence that he “would kill for the hell of it” as suggested by counsel. “He was massively involved in the assassination of Baiba Saulite and no one could touch him for the amount of murders he carried out as leader of this gang,” Mr Toal said referring to what he termed “general held views in the media”. Det. Insp. Lynch again repeated that he could not answer that. He told Mr Toal that he had never been made aware that Mr Warren claimed he was acting under duress from Mr Dunne that day. The detective said his only role in the investigation was to lead the surveillance operation. He said he was also unaware that Mr Warren had been the subject of a threat to his life in January or February 2008 and he had been formally warned by the gardai of this threat. Darryl Caffrey (aged 37), the Chubb Security worker who was a passenger in the cash-in-transit van that day, told Deirdre Murphy SC, prosecuting, that he provided inside information to two men, knowing that it would be used to organise a robbery. He said he gave the two men, previously unknown to him but whom he referred to as “Dog” and “Liverpool man”, information about the company, including the registration details of the unmarked delivery vehicles and how the safes were accessed. He said he handed this information over during a number of meetings in 2006 and 2007. Mr Caffrey told the jury he had provided “Dog” with the registration details of four jeeps used by Chubb at the time after the man told him if he had that information he could get keys cut for the vehicles. He informed “Dog” that Chubb headquarters had to be contacted by phone to open the safe and access cash before it was dropped off at an ATM. He also told him that Chubb workers wore casual clothes, drove unmarked jeeps and carried the money to the ATMs in sports bags. Mr Caffrey said he had also been instructed to propose a suitable route which he felt would be an easy target for a gang to rob. He said he provided “Dog” with a map on October 30, 2007, with a route marked in black pen, of a specific run he regularly did in Ballymore Eustace, Wicklow. Mr Caffrey said he was “given the impression” that it would be the Ballymore Eustace run that the gang would target. He said “Dog” told him the gang would put up “road closed” and “diversion” signs along the route that would eventually lead to a building site. His jeep would then be surrounded by armed men, he and his colleague would be tied up, dumped off and their phones taken off them before the robbers would drive away in the van. He said “Dog” told him he would get a phone call the day before “the job was going down” to give him time to get rid of his mobile phone and any links between them. He never got the call. Mr Caffrey agreed with Mr Toal that he did not know any of the men that were arrested at the Tesco Supermarket that day. He confirmed that he did not know Mr Warren. The trial continues before Judge Tony Hunt and a jury of seven women and four men.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Armored SUV could not protect U.S. agents in Mexico


When U.S. special agent Jaime Zapata was shot dead one year ago on a notorious stretch of highway in central Mexico, he was driving a $160,000 armored Chevy Suburban, built to exacting government standards, designed to defeat high-velocity gunfire, fragmentation grenades and land mines. But the vehicle had a basic, fatal flaw. 127 Comments Weigh InCorrections? Personal Post Graphic The killing of Special Agent Jaime Zapata Gallery  Mexico's ongoing drug war continues to claim lives and disrupt order in the country. Forced off the road in a well-coordinated ambush, surrounded by drug cartel gunmen brandishing AK-47s, Zapata and his partner, Victor Avila, rolled to a stop. Zapata put the vehicle in park. The door locks popped open. That terrifying sound — a quiet click — set into motion events that remain under investigation. When Zapata needed it most, the Suburban’s elaborate armoring was rendered worthless by a consumer-friendly automatic setting useful for family vacations and hurried commuters but not for U.S. agents driving through a red zone in Mexico. The Feb. 15, 2011, killing of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Zapata — the first U.S. officer to die in the line of duty here since 1985 — is described by American officials today as a watershed in the U.S.-backed drug war and proof that the United States is paying in blood as well as treasure.  His death has put new focus on the expanding role that a growing number of U.S. law enforcement officials now play in Mexico, where they operate in an increasingly complex, dangerous environment — yet are prohibited by Mexican law from carrying firearms to protect themselves. Piecemeal accounts of the attack have trickled out over the past year, but the U.S. government has not made public key details about the circumstances that led to Zapata’s death. It is still unclear why the agents were sent down a stretch of highway where gangs were known to roam, because they could have flown or traveled with an armed escort of Mexican military or police, a routine matter. But in interviews with U.S. lawmakers, senior law enforcement officials and security experts, it appears the officers were sent on a dangerous mission in a vehicle whose basic protections were disastrously flawed. Had the door locks not opened at that moment, “Zapata would probably still be alive today,” said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), a former U.S. prosecutor who is pressing U.S. agencies to clarify what happened in the attack, in which Avila was wounded. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other armored U.S. government vehicles all over the world that may also have this vulnerability, potentially leaving American diplomats and officers at grave risk. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which is responsible for outfitting the secure vehicles used by American embassies abroad, declined to comment on the status of their locking mechanisms. But when McCaul visited Afghanistan last month and rode in an armored State Department Suburban, he said he paid close attention to what happened when the vehicle went into park. The doors unlocked. The ambush Zapata, 32, was only nine days into a temporary assignment in Mexico when he was killed, according to his family. He told his worried parents back home in Brownsville, Tex., that he would be stationed at the U.S. Embassy, pushing paper in the relative safety of Mexico City.

Jamaica Act against money laundering snaring drug lords


Empowered by the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), the Financial Investigations Division (FID) has dealt a significant blow to the coffers of a number of alleged drug smugglers, freezing more than J$700 million in real estate, motor vehicles, bank accounts, furniture and expensive jewellery. “This is as a result of 14 restraining orders we got last year,” head of the FID, Albert Stephens, disclosed in a Gleaner interview. He explains that in three of the cases the restraining orders covered a network of J$500 million. One of the cases includes a suspected Jamaican drug dealer, who lives overseas and has been sending millions of dollars back to Jamaica. The other 13 restraining orders are wrapped around more than J$200 million in assets, which involve persons in the lotto scam, white-collar crime and so-called businessmen. “Apart from the J$700 million currently being restrained, we were able to seize J$137 million in cash last year,” said Stephens. Last Friday, the FID obtained a landmark Civil Recovery Order under the POCA to seize US$1.35 million in cash. In the same case, a recovery order also enabled the FID to confiscate two large residential properties in St Catherine, 13 bank accounts with accumulated balances of J$6.5 million and US$58,000, one Suzuki motorcycle, a Honda CRR 600 motorcycle, a Toyota Hiace and deposits on real estates amounting to more than J$4.1 million. “Our investigation involves investigators assigned to FID, who travelled back and forth to the United States under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), to collect critical evidence to bolster the cases, which were marshalled by legal officers and forensic experts, who played an important role during the trial of this matter,” the director of the FID said. The bespectacled Stephens warned criminals that the FID would remain resolute in its attempt to deprive individuals of wealth gained from unlawful activities and further deter the use of the country’s financial sector as a conduit for money laundering.

US seeking 23-yr prison term for ‘Dudus’ Coke


The New York Times is reporting that federal prosecutors in Manhattan have asked a judge to impose a 23-year prison sentence on confessed Jamaican crime lord Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke. In August Coke, 42, pleaded guilty to charges including racketeering conspiracy. He is scheduled to be sentenced next Tuesday in the Federal District Court. The New York Times says in a sentencing memorandum filed late Wednesday, the office of the United States attorney, Preet Bharara, said that the federal advisory sentencing guidelines that apply in the case involving Coke called for a sentence of slightly less than 22 years to 23 years in prison. Bharara’s office reportedly wrote in its memorandum to Judge Robert P Patterson Jr that Coke was so powerful in Jamaica, he enjoyed “virtual immunity from the reach of law enforcement” there. The New York Times further reports that Bharara’s office said Coke led a drug trafficking ring from an armed stronghold called Tivoli Gardens in Kingston, moving guns and drugs between Jamaica and the United States, and ordering murders, shootings and beatings. “Coke’s soldiers often began their service to him as teenagers, drawn from the community and trained by Coke and his lieutenants to guard the streets of Tivoli Gardens with guns, and to engage in acts of violence at Coke’s direction,” two prosecutors, Jocelyn E Strauber and John T Zach, wrote. Last September Coke wrote a seven-page letter to Judge Patterson accepting responsibility for his actions and asking the judge to sentence him below the guideline. Coke has been described as one of the most powerful drug lords in Jamaica. After a nine-month wrangling, he was arrested in June 2010 following a major operation in May to execute a warrant on him. More than 70 people were killed in the operation.

Kenichi Shinoda, the number one boss at the helm of the Yamaguchi-gumi godfather" leader of Japan's biggest organised crime group has been blacklisted in the United States

The "godfather" leader of Japan's biggest organised crime group has been blacklisted in the United States as part of a major crackdown on the world's most powerful gangs.

Kenichi Shinoda: US seizes assets of Japan's number one criminal
Kenichi Shinoda, the number one boss at the helm of the Yamaguchi-gumi Photo: GETTY

Police gets tough on Wandsworth gang crime

More than a dozen people have been arrested on drugs charges after police conducted a number of dawn raids across the borough. The raids were part of London-wide operation, part of the newly-formed Trident Gang Crime Command, aimed at reducing gang-related crime across the capital. Fifteen properties were targeted in Tooting, Battersea and Wandsworth last Friday and 13 people were arrested as result. While the raids were going on, Safer Neighbourhood Teams in Wandsworth carried out weapon sweeps across the borough. The arrests ranged from drug possession and intent to supply to possession of imitation firearms and ammunition. Borough commander, Chief Superintendent David Chinchen, said: "The violent crime committed by a small minority of people in Wandsworth associated with gangs will not be tolerated.

Street gang leader accused of organising Hackensack jewellery heist is in federal custody


 fugitive leader of a street gang that allegedly masterminded the robbery of a Hackensack jewelry shop is in federal custody for his role in dozens of violent crimes, authorities said Wednesday. Devon Rodney’s New York City-based Folk Nation gang orchestrated the 2009 smash-and-grab robbery of the Lee Perla jewelry store at The Shops at Riverside mall, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn said in a press release. The gang is also allegedly responsible for at least four homicides, three attempted homicides and six robberies. The victims included a 10-year-old who was shot and injured during a turf war, authorities said. Authorities say the gang also robbed people after using Internet ads to lure them to secluded spots, and its members have clashed with New York City’s versions of the Crips and Bloods street gangs. No one was hurt during the Hackensack robbery. In that case, three young men smashed display counters with hammers and stole more than $400,000 in luxury watches as the employees cowered in a back room, Hackensack Police Capt. Thomas Salcedo said. One of the alleged robbers tripped as he was fleeing to a minivan parked in front of the mall and was arrested by an off-duty police officer who was working as a security guard for another store, Salcedo said. The arrests of his two accomplices soon followed. They implicated a fourth man, telling police he was a gang member who had put them up to the crime, Salcedo said. “This guy was going to use these guys as his mules, to do the work for him,” Salcedo said. “They would take a small cut apiece and he would keep the majority himself.” Rodney’s name was not brought up during the investigation, Salcedo said. Two of the men charged for the robbery were 17 at the time and were sentenced to juvenile detention, Salcedo said. Kevin Belle, who was 19, was sent to jail with $100,000 bail. All three men were from Brookyln, Salcedo said. He could not immediately say whether sentences have been completed. Charges filed against the alleged gang member, Sean Robinson were not immediately available.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Inside crystal meth gang behind vicious Melanie killing

THE gangsters linked to the hitmen who murdered Melanie McCarthy McNamara are thugs aged in their early 20s who "seemed to spring out of nowhere" last year. The Herald has been reporting on their criminal activities for over six months and gardai have consistently warned about their dangerous capabilities. The reckless hitmen are strongly associated with a ruthless west Dublin gang who have been dealing crystal meth and carrying out armed robberies. Crystal meth is a hugely addictive drug, which reaps big profits for the gangs. There has been a steady increase in the use and availability of the drug in certain small pockets of the capital recently. As well as selling the deadly drug, the crazed gangsters have been using it themselves, making them particularly “unpredictable and dangerous.” Notorious Many of the gang members are facing trial on other matters but some are still on the streets and all have close links to murdered Tallaght drug dealer Stephen O'Halloran (20), who was shot dead in January 2009. One of the jailed hoods is so out-of-control that senior officers have expressed deep concern that he is the “new Warren Dumbrell” – a reference to the notorious jailed killer who has built a reputation as one of Ireland’s most feared criminals. A key member of the gang is the chief suspect in the fatal stabbing of electrician Kevin Kenny (32) outside a Ballyfermot pub in early August. The home of this suspect's younger brother was raided by armed gardai in Ballyfermot on Wednesday evening – but officers say he was not directly involved in the murder. Melanie’s two killers are also linked to a dangerous mob of young hoods based in Tallaght, Ballyfermot and Crumlin. They’ve been behind dozens of violent crimes since last summer – including two murders. Some of the thugs are linked to an armed robbery at a rural post office in which two people were shot. They are also suspects in an aggravated burglary at a Dublin B&B and a number of armed robberies at city supermarkets. The gangsters are also suspected of a failed attempt to rob a cash-in-transit van. Known for being extremely violent, the gang were involved in a horrendous knife attack on a young man who owed them money for drugs last summer. One of the main players in the gang was not part of the hit team who shot Melanie. But he has been a key figure in the escalation of the feud with settled Travellers which has developed over the past five months or so. He is the chief suspect for the gun attack last September on the Tallaght home of Michael ‘Gunner Eye' Moran (47), the father of Melanie's partner Christy Moran (21). Christy Moran was the intended target of Tuesday night's outrage. Since September’s non-fatal gun attack, there has been a number of violent incidents linked to the feud including pipe bomb attacks and a number of firearms incidents. But nobody – even the thugs themselves – could have predicted that the feud would have led to the murder of a completely innocent 16-year-old girl. Tragic Melanie and heartbroken Christy both have family links to the McCarthy/Dundon gang who have vowed to avenge the shocking murder of the teenager. Last night underworld sources said that a six-figure sum has been offered by the Limerick gangsters to murder her killers, but gardai were unable to confirm this today. “There will be revenge attacks – we are certain of that. “But we don't expect anything major to happen until after Melanie's funeral, which is expected to take place in Co Limerick next week,” said a source. The chief suspects, who are aged in their early 20s, are from the Crumlin and Tallaght areas of the capital and are well- known to gardai. One of the thugs has almost 100 previous convictions, including dozens for dangerous driving offences.

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