Archive for the ‘crime’ Category

Brazil: Cunha charged with corruption and money laundering

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

Eduardo Cunha, whom the WaPo once referred to as Brazil’s evangelical Frank Underwood has been charged:

On Thursday, Brazilian Attorney General Rodrigo Janot formally charged Eduardo Cunha, Brazil’s highest-ranking lawmaker with commanding a farrago of felonies, including shaking down suppliers of Petrobras, the scandal-ridden national oil company, for some $5 million, and then laundering the bribes through more than 100 financial operations from Montevideo to Monaco.

Mac Margolis explains:

Ever since Cunha won the right to the top microphone in Congress, trouncing Rousseff’s own candidate for the job, the Rio de Janeiro lawmaker has dedicated his mandate to making her life miserable, delaying revenue raising initiatives and planting some “fiscal bombs” in Congress that would plump constituents’ earnings at the expense of the swelling public deficit.

So how do you say schadenfreude in Portuguese? After weeks of escalating rhetoric and street protests clamoring for impeachment, suddenly it’s Rousseff’s archenemy who looks to be on the brink.

But hold those vuvuzelas. While Cunha may be hobbled by the scandal, he’s hardly out of play. Even if the Supreme Court accepts Janot’s indictment and sends Cunha to trial, he has no obligation to step aside. Removing him would take half plus one of the 513 members of Brazil’s lower house, an ecosystem where Cunha is at home.

Cunha is second in line to succeed the president. As Speaker of the lower chamber he controls the legislative agenda and the budget.

As you may recall, Cunha made The Economist last month when he announced that he would defect to the opposition without leaving the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB),

If numbers were all that mattered, the PMDB would be the most powerful party by far. Besides having more seats in Congress than any other, it outguns its main rivals, the PT and the centre-right opposition Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB), in state and local governments (see table). The PMDB has 2.4m card-carrying members, more than the PT’s 1.6m.

In Brazil’s Byzantine political environment, the move to charge Cunha may be seen as payback for Cunha’s defection, who in turn may deny approval of Dilma’s (rather weak, if you ask me) proposals to slash government spending, raise taxes and reduce bureaucracy.

More interestingly, the question remains whether Cunha would push to impeach Dilma (as the demonstrators demand), and if he does, will Dilma gather enough congressional support to avoid impeachment – with the help of PMBD members.

Ecuador: Assange to leave London embassy

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Allegations of violent sexual assault against Julian Assange are about to expire under Sweden’s statute of limitations, so he’s already packed his bags,
Julian Assange confirms he is to leave Ecuadorian embassy ‘soon’Speaking after two years’ confinement, the WikiLeaks founder was typically enigmatic, but ‘his bags are packed’

And would he address the reports that he was planning to surrender imminently to police? Assange pointed to Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks’ spokesperson, who was standing at the rear. “I understand [Hrafnsson] has said that he can confirm that I am leaving the embassy soon” – a broad smile – “but perhaps not for the reasons that the Murdoch press and Sky news are saying at the moment.”

Security cost $12million for his 3 year stay.

Apparently

Mr Assange, who denies the sex claims, fears that he will be extradited on to the US to face charges relating to the huge leaks of sensitive data.

However, according to The Telegraph,

Sweden’s extradition agreement with the United States was signed in October 1961 and updated in March 1983. It prohibits extradition on the basis of “a political offence” or “an offence connected with a political offence”.

But his supporters fear that he could be “snatched” by the CIA and spirited away to the US, regardless of the extradition treaty.

There are no charges against him in the US, although he fears he could be put on trial for espionage.

Yet The Washington Post reported in 2013 that the Justice Department hadconcluded there was no way it could prosecute him.

So, play me the world’s smallest violin.

$5 says he won’t be heading to Ecuador.

Venezuela: Hugo Chavez’s daughter, richest person in the country

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Socialists in the U.S. proudly proclaim that the dead dictator “improved the economy, reduced inequality,” most likely in the Orwellian sense,

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Hugo Chávez daughter is the richest individual in Venezuela, report claims

According to the Miami-based Diario Las América, Venezuelan media sources will soon publish materials showing that María Gabriela Chávez has bank accounts in the U.S. and Andorra with assets totaling nearly $4.2 billion.

If the claim is true, Chávez’s daughter would be the richest person in Venezuela, a country with industrialists like telecommunications magnate Gustavo Cisneros (worth $3.6 billion, according to Forbes) and food and beverage mogul Lorenzo Mendoza ($2.7 billion).

. . .

Last July, Venezuelan outlets reported that she was involved in a scheme that favored an Argentinean rice company, Bioart, by importing 37,000 tons of greatly overpriced rice to Venezuela – a deal that reportedly contributed $15 million to her personal accounts.

. . .

In September of 2014, according to La Tribuna, the Cuban-American television journalist María Elvira Salazar showed on the air a receipt purported to be from a U.S. bank account in María Gabriela’s name that held nearly $737 million. The address on the account was that of the Venezuelan consulate in New York City.

MGC currently is permanent deputy representative to the United Nations, where she fits right in.

In other Venezuelan news, would-be kidnappers broke into an American’s apartment and murdered him:
Well-Known American Lawyer John Pate Murdered in His Apartment in Venezuela

The well-known American lawyer John Pate, a US citizen, was stabbed to death by assailants in his apartment at the Vista Real on Avenue Panorama in Lomas de San Román section of Caracas on Sunday evening.

Pate, 71, was a member of the Editorial Board of the Caracas Daily Journal, the predecessor of the Latin American Herald Tribune, and had helped build the fabric of Caracas society. His first wife, Gertie Paez Pate, was a well-known Peruvian painter who died of cancer in 2007.

According to police, the criminals reportedly entered his apartment with the intent to rob him, but instead killed him with multiple stab wounds. His girlfriend, Sally Evan Oquendo, 67, was wounded and is hospitalized.

According to early police reports, the perpetrators entered through a bathroom window and police suggest that they knew the building well. There are apartments being remodeled in the building and police are interrogating workers.

The Caracas expat community has shrunk as homicide rates rise and foreign companies pull out of Venezuela, citing economic difficulties.

Pate’s primary business was in representing multinational companies doing business in Venezuela, and he was sometimes critical of the country’s 16-year-old socialist revolution.
In 2005, he told the Christian Science Monitor he had lost half his international clients in the six years since the now-deceased President Hugo Chavez came to power.

24,980 people were murdered in Venezuela last year.

Money-wise, a billion here, a billion there, Ravaged by Oil’s Collapse, Venezuela Now Has a Big Gold Problem

The South American country, which is trying to stave off a bond default in the wake of oil’s swoon, had 68 percent of its international reserves in bullion as of August, according to the World Gold Council. That’s a big worry because the price of the precious metal has tumbled 15 percent from this year’s high in January as the global slump in commodities deepened.

At the blogs:
Daniel has A guide to Venezuela eateries around the world

Devil’s Excrement looks at The Uncertain Outcome Of The Venezuelan Parliamentary Election

Chavismo will do anything to manipulate and obtain an edge in the upcoming election.

The outcome does not look uncertain to me: Venezuela’s first lady Cilia Flores to run for congress while opposition figure barred

Hours after election officials reject María Corina Machado’s attempt to register as a candidate, President Nicolás Maduro announces his wife will run



Mexico: People’s disbelief at official story of El Chapo’s escape

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

William Neuman reports that Mexicans Aren’t Buying Official Account of ‘El Chapo’ Escape (h/t Silvio Canto)

It could be said that Mexicans come by their disbelief honestly.

Considering that 18 minutes elapsed before El Chapo’s departure was noticed, shall we add this to the Capt. Louis Renault file?

El Chapo was one of the topics we touched on last night. You can listen to the podcast here,

Argentina: A story in 5 tweets

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

(See Argentina’s Cabinet Chief Refutes Drug Trafficking Allegations as Extortion

With a week to go for the primaries in Argentina, Cabinet chief Anibal Fernandez was accused of involvement in drug trafficking by those implicated in ephedrine trafficking in a television program, Periodismo para Todos (Journalism for Everyone), or PPT.)

Here’s Lanata’s Sunday show of Aug. 2 (in Spanish but NSFW),

Full show here,

Following which, Police: Lanata building damaged during street fight

Argentina: #Nisman’s killer washed his hands in the sink

Friday, July 24th, 2015

While the official investigation drags on, the latest:

EXPERT WITNESS USES ANIMATION TO PROVE ARGENTINE PROSECUTOR NISMAN WAS MURDERED

An expert witness brought to trial by the family, Daniel Salcedo, presented evidence this week proving that Nisman could not have killed himself and made the blood stains found in his bathroom.

. . .

Salcedo told the chief prosecutor in the Nisman case, Viviana Fein, that bloodstains in the bathroom could not have been made by Nisman because of the angle at which he fell. The stains, he argued, were “almost half a meter above where the victim’s head was found.” In addition, he noted that no bloodstains were found under the sink, only above it. Had Nisman shot himself and fell to the floor under the sink, it is to be expected that some blood would splatter there.

Salcedo used a digital animation to make his point. His evidence will be taken into consideration, though the federal police have ruled out homicide.

More:

Salcedo also presented Fein with a digital animation sequence to back his murder hypothesis, noting that the blood stains slanted downward and began at a height of 60 centimeters (23.5 inches), or almost 50 centimeters (20 inches) above the spot where the victim’s head was found, the daily said Tuesday.

The expert said the alleged killer was standing behind Nisman and to the right, while the prosecutor was down on one knee by his bathtub.

The blood stains could have occurred when the purported killer shook his hands before washing them, Salcedo said.

Federal Police experts and an expert hired by the defense team of Diego Lagomarsino are ruling out the existence of another person inside Nisman’s apartment.

Brazil: Meet The Indoctrinator

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

I can hear Vin Diesel speaking in Portuguese.

Brazilian comic-book antihero out for revenge against corruptionThe Indoctrinator’s battle against unscrupulous officials has made the character a cult hit

Get this man an agent!


O Doutrinador is the creation of Rio native Luciano Cunha, who started the strip on line
The Indoctrinator appears to personify, in an extreme way, the indignation many Brazilians hold against the political class in their country, their bad feelings about government, and the protests “against everything” that has sprouted up over the past few years.

But Cunha’s fans are just not typical comic-book readers. He believes people read his creation not because of the artwork but because of the message the main character tries to get across: that “some sort of justice” will be handed down against corrupt public officials.

Cunha isn’t able to make a living from O Doutrinador. Any agents out there? I want to see him at Comicon, and getting bids on movie rights!

You can read O Doutrinador online. Here’s the Facebook page.

Mexico: El Chapo’s buddies tunneled out, too UPDATED

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Not only did he tunnel out, ‘El Chapo’ Ally Tunneled Out Months Before

Nearly 14 months before crime boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán escaped from his maximum-security cell through a tunnel, one of his Sinaloa Cartel lieutenants broke out of another prison in the same way. (emphasis added)

The passage through which Adelmo Niebla González and two underlings busted out of a prison in Culiacán, capital of Sinaloa state, in May 2014 shared many of the same technological and building styles.

Side-by-side

We’re talking about a cartel known for its elaborate tunnels under the U.S.-Mexico border, but Mexican authorities put them all on ground-floor because,

“No one can say it was obvious this would have happened,” Mr. Rubido, whose more than three decades included several stints as Mexico’s top spy chief, said of Mr. Guzmán’s escape.

How do you spell c-o-r-r-u-p-t-i-o-n . . .

Hey, how about an open border!

UPDATE
At Breakfast to Talk El Chapo, Drug War Veterans Serve Up Cynicism

Over eggs at a San Antonio café, a reporter listens as former law enforcement officials and one ex-drug cartel operative swap theories about El Chapo’s latest escape and what it says about the U.S. and Mexico

Sinaloa became the McDonald’s of the drug trade. Customers could find its products — cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines — everywhere. Operations ran so smoothly that after Chapo’s arrest in February 2014, many experts predicted that they’d continue to hum along without him. However, hopes ran high in the United States and Mexico that Chapo’s arrest would herald a new era of trust between the two governments. The arrest was seen as a sign that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto was serious about ending a long history of government corruption, and that Washington, after some skepticism, could trust him.

Chapo’s latest spectacular escape seems to have put an end to any such illusions.

El Chapo’s new song: Gimme shelter

Saturday, July 18th, 2015

BREAKING: Joaquin “#ElChapo” Guzman Offers $10 Million To Any U.S. Citizen Who Provides Shelter For Him

“It’s time for us to ban together to protect El Chapo. It’s important for our people to remain strong through the American media disrespecting our people and culture. El Chapo’s escape from prison was on the first step to our rise as Mexican people.

The Sinaloa Cartel, with permission from El Chapo, is offering $15 Million Dollars to any Mexican-American willing to provide a safe haven for El Chapo. We will give $10 Million Dollars to any other American person willing to assist El Chapo, and $7 Million Dollars to anyone who can successfully get El Chapo across the Mexican-American border without detection. Send this message to everyone affiliated.”

Interesting nationalistic wording (“El Chapo’s escape from prison was on the first step to our rise as Mexican people“) aside, the announcement leads to conjecture on what factors may be behind it:

  • El Chapo’s already in the U.S. and the announcement is a red herring
  • El Chapo’s US$10 million offer counters the Mexican government’s 60 million pesos  reward (almost US$4 million) to show who’s boss
  • The person(s) running top day-to-day operations are not too willing to relinquish their positions of power
  • Competing cartels (Zetas, Nueva Generación, etc.) may not want him back in action and be heating things up enough to make him/his organization want to get him out of the country
  • El Chapo may have decided to move closer to where the consumer is
  • Mexican authorities may have abetted his escape on the condition that he leave the country

None of these are mutually exclusive.

Plus, of course,

there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

Sing it, Mick!

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away

Mexico’s El Chapo: “Guilty as sin, free as a bird.”

Friday, July 17th, 2015

Mexico’s El Chapo: “Guilty as sin, free as a bird.” Odds are he will remain out.

Related:
I was in Willie Lawson’s podcast, and in Silvio Canto‘s podcast, and El Chapo was one of the subjects we talked about.