Archive for the ‘crime’ Category

Ecuador’s “dirty hand,” and Mia Farrow’s greased palm

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

My latest article, Ecuador’s “dirty hand,” and Mia Farrow’s greased palm is up at Da Tech Guy Blog.

Don’t expect the case to be over, either.

Mexico: 43 students missing since September 26

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

#HastaEncontrarlos

Vigilantes in Mexico students search
Hundreds of members of self-defence groups join the search in the Mexican town of Iguala for 43 missing students who disappeared almost two weeks ago.
None of the missing are known to have crime connections:

The students, from a teacher training college in Ayotzinapa, travelled to the nearby town of Iguala to protest against what they perceived as discriminatory hiring practices for teachers.

After a day of protests and fundraising, they wanted to make their way back to their college.

Accounts of what happened next differ.

Members of the student union say they hitched a lift aboard three local buses, but the police says the students seized the buses.

In the hours which followed, six people were killed when armed men opened fire on the three buses and that of a third division football team which they presumably mistook for one carrying students.

Three students, a footballer, the driver of one of the buses and a woman in a taxi were shot dead. Many more were injured.

Municipal police gave chase to the students, and are believed to have fired at them.

Twenty-two officers have been detained in connection with the shooting.

But there are also reports of other armed men opening fire on the students. Eight people not belonging to the municipal police have also been arrested.

Disappearance
Following the incident on the night of 26 September, 57 students were reported missing.

On 30 September it was announced that 13 of them had returned to their homes.

One name was found to have appeared in the list of the missing twice, leaving 43 students unaccounted for.

On 4 October, prosecutors announced they had found six shallow graves containing the remains of at least 28 people.

Authorities are investigating the possible involvement of a local drug gang called Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors, a pun, since the state’s name is Guerrero), led by a thug nicknamed El Chucky, and are affiliated with the Beltran Leyva cartel. Additionally, Iguala’s mayor, Jose Luis Abarca Velazquez, his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa, and the police chief have not been seen since the events on 26 September. However, so far the biggest suspect is Mexico’s Police

The state prosecutor investigating why the police opened fire on students from their vehicles has found mass graves in Iguala — the small industrial city where the confrontations occurred — containing 28 badly burned and dismembered bodies.

The prosecutors had already arrested 22 police officers after the clashes, saying the officers secretly worked for, or were members of, a local gang. Now they are investigating whether the police apprehended the students after the confrontation and deliberately turned them over to the local gang. Two witnesses in custody told prosecutors that the gang then killed the protesters on the orders of a leader known as El Chucky.

According to witnesses

More police officers arrived, accompanied by gunmen in plainclothes. Prosecutors have now identified these shooters as members of a cell of assassins called “Guerreros Unidos” or “Warriors United,” who work for the Beltran Leyva cartel. The cartel’s head Hector Beltran Leyva was arrested last week following the incident.

Federal agents are now in charge instead of local police.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has vowed to identify and punish those responsible for the recent disappearance of 43 students after clashes with police.

On one front, the September 26 murders of six people in Iguala, Guerrero, has plunged the conflict-ridden state south of Mexico City into renewed political turmoil.

Paco Almaraz features the governor of the state of Guerrero in the burn-out unit (in Spanish),



Mexico: La Tuta’s newest YouTube

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Knights templar chief Servando Gómez “La Tuta” (the teacher) has a new one,

Video shows Mexican drug lord paying journalists for ‘good press’

The video, which was published yesterday by Mexican news site MVS, shows two reporters from Mexico’s troubled Michoacan state appearing to accept money from one of the country’s most wanted drug lords, Servando Gomez, leader of the Knights Templar Cartel. The men then discuss a “communication strategy” to improve the cartel’s image and are heard asking for trucks and cameras.

The handoff occurs at the: 22:56 mark

An offer they really could not refuse.

Chile: $30m of cocaine and marijuana seized

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

The drug trade doesn’t move just from South America to Europe and the USA:

Drugs raid recovers tonnes of cocaine and marijuana in Chile
Dramatic footage shows Chilean authorities seizing almost $30m worth of cocaine and marijuana during a raid

According to a regional prosecutor, the drugs were intended to be sold domestically during Chile’s independence celebrations which are taking place later this month.

Video below the fold,
(more…)

Colombia: Former Pablo Escobar lead henchman goes free

Friday, August 29th, 2014

What could possibly go wrong?

Pablo Escobar’s chief hit man was released from jail on Tuesday:

Colombians wary as former Escobar hitman gets ready to walk free from prison
“Popeye” has served 23 years after killing hundreds under reign of Medellín cartel chief
. The headline says hundreds, but

Popeye has coldly admitted that he ordered 3,000 people killed when his boss, the head of the Medellín cartel, was fighting the government to avoid extradition.
. . .
Velásquez Vásquez confessed that he ordered hundreds of car bomb attacks in all the country’s main cities, causing a wave of terror that Colombians are not likely to forget soon. Despite the pain he has caused, Popeye has shown a complete lack of contrition. In early 2013, he told the newspaper El Tiempo that ““if Pablo Escobar were born again, I would join him without a second thought.”

Bad through and through,

Velásquez joined the Medellín cartel at age 18, when “the boss” began asking him to commit murders. He soon climbed the rungs of the underworld ladder and featured prominently in the kidnapping of former president Andrés Pastrana when he was running for mayor of Bogotá. He also helped abduct former vice-president Francisco Santos when he was the editor of El Tiempoand was instrumental in the attack that blew up an Avianca airplane in mid-flight, killing 107 passengers.

He also killed his own girlfriend Wendy.

In addition to killing,

Popeye helped Escobar industrialize cocaine production, seize control 80 percent of the global cocaine trade, and become one of the richest people on the planet by kidnapping, torturing, and murdering hundreds of people who obstructed the Medellín cartel’s business.

And after 23 years he’s getting out?

The gang member benefited from term reductions through work and study schemes, and is reported to have paid $4,500 for access to parole.

He “paid $4,500 for access to parole”? Are you friggin’ kidding me?

Reportedly he’ll be under surveillance for good conduct for four years. He calculates the odds of his been killed after his release at 80%.

Popeye figures prominently in Mark Bowden’s book, Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw, which I recommend.

Brazil: 3 beheaded in prison riot

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

After a 2 day long riot that left 4 dead this week, Brazil officials say deadly Cascavel jail riot is over

Two prison guards who were held hostage have been released, police said.

Five inmates were killed in the riot. Two were beheaded while two more died after being pushed off the prison roof. Police are probing how the fifth died.
. . .
The prisoners had complained about the way Cascavel was run, its food and lack of hygiene.

Other accounts say that there were three beheadings.

The PCC were behind it. The Primeiro Comando da Capital, or PCC is Brazil’s biggest drug cartel. InSightCrime has their history,

The First Capital Command (Primeiro Comando da Capital – PCC) was inspired by the Red Command (Comando Vermelho). Both criminal organizations were formed by prisoners as self-protection groups in Brazil’s brutal prison system. The PCC arose in São Paulo in the 1990s, and has fought a bloody ongoing feud with police in the city. The group, now the largest and best-organized criminal organization in Brazil, is believed to have members in two-thirds of the country’s states, and controls drug trafficking routes between Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay.

As of Monday night, the prisoner’s negotiator was worried that the “agreement to end the revolt was still in doubt as concern emerged among the inmates over the possibility of a crackdown.”

Prisoners had armed themselves with the following (video in English),

Security forces are still searching the Cascavel jail; O Globo reports that as of yesterday, seven inmates were missing.


Colombia: Was military intelligence hacked?

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Latest headlines in Colombia,
Detained Colombia hacker outlines alleged political plot against peace process
Andrés Sepúlveda, an alleged computer hacker who was detained in May, says political rivals of President Santos were using classified information to derail Colombia’s peace process.

The FARC certainly has been doing enough derailing on its part, but here’s the story at hand: President Santos ordered authorities to conduct a thorough investigation

The reaction comes after Andrés Sepúlveda, an alleged hacker who has been in custody since May, told Semana in a jailhouse interview that he had been hired by Uribe’s Centro Democrático party to help undermine the talks and support the presidential bid of the party’s candidate Oscar Iván Zuluaga.

In the interview, Sepúlveda said he was ordered to use his skills to turn the armed forces and public opinion against the peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas in Havana. To do that, he said he purchased classified information from military intelligence and other groups that he fed to party officials.

So what was it? Did Sepúlveda actually hacked, or was he buying information? If he was buying information “from military intelligence,” why the need to turn the armed forces against the FARC negotiations?

Here comes the more interesting part,

Sepúlveda said that he provided members of Zuluaga’s campaign information about the FARC’s negotiating team, including private emails. But he said the Centro Democrático party was also receiving classified information gleaned from the hacked communications of government negotiators in Cuba.

Considering how Santos has thrown the towel and wants the FARC in congress without being elected, that information should be released to the public.

Indeed,

The discovery of Sepulveda’s spy operation came three months after Semana exposed a covert military intelligence scheme to monitor both government and FARC representatives to the peace talks in Havana as well as journalists covering the negotiations.

However, Sepúlveda alleges that he hacked the military, a whole different thing altogether.

Other reports say that

Sepulveda claims to have bought information from the military’s “Andromeda” intelligence program, a CIA-funded covert wiretapping operation exposed earlier this year and also accused of spying on the peace talks.

Buying information is the old-fashioned George Smiley way; not hacking.

Now

Sepulveda’s brother has testified that the alleged hacker is “receiving pressure” from “high officials” of the Prosecutor General’s Office to speak out against “certain individuals,” a claim that has also been issued publicly by Sepulveda’s wife.

To answer the question, was Colombian military intelligence hacked?, Sean Mullholand, Brigadier General of the US Southern Command, has asserted a definite no, insisting that there is no chance it was hacked.

On his part, Santos claims, “what existed and exists is a criminal enterprise,” which really leaves no room for the benefit of the doubt.

Álvaro Uribe is striking back, and hard,

Santo’s hacker advisor always: in campaigns, in infamies, and in smokescreen to hide the drug traffic campaign money

Santos also has released his agenda for the day he allegedly met the hacker,

 

Let’s not forget that Uribe accused Santos Santos of electoral fraud, buying votes, and allowing the FARC to intimidate voters to obtain re-election.

As Drudge says, developing.

Colombia: Luis Carlos Cervantes murdered

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

A classic mob hit: The Colombian journalist’s car was stopped on the road, and Cervantes was shot dead . . . three weeks after he was denied protection by the authorities, who now claim that “according to the information obtained from a risk assessment, there weren’t any links between the threats Cervantes received, and his work as a journalist.”

Marcela Estrada has the story:

 Four years ago, Cervantes served as a correspondent for news channelTeleantioquia. His problems started in 2010, when he covered the collusion between government employees from the Bajo Cauca region and the paramilitary and drug trafficking group, Los Urabeños. This occurred most heavily in Tarazá and Caucasia, both cities in the department of Antioquia,

In April 2010, Cervantes was attacked by a policeman while he was reporting on the capture of another police officer in Tarazá, who was accused of handling war munitions for paramilitary groups. Three years later, a grenade exploded just a few meters away the radio station where he worked.

In October 2013, Cervantes asserted to the authorities that the local leader ofLos Urabeños, Germer Andrés Rebolledo, also known as “El Escamoso,” was the instigator behind the threats. That same year, Rebolledo was detained by the police, for allegedly killing another journalist, Luis Eduardo Gómez.

After filing several complaints, Colombia’s National Agency for Protection assigned Cervantes around-the-clock state protection. From then on, the journalist was always escorted by two bodyguards and a police car.

Nonetheless, on July 20, the agency determined that the journalist was no longer at risk, and took away his protection program.

Four days after he was off the protection program, a stranger shows up, a text tells him to get out of town, ten days later he was executed, but the National Agency for Protection claims Cervantes’s murder had nothing to do with his profession? The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is not buying it.

In response to the clamor generated by the assassination, the Colombian government’s Procuraduría General (prosecutor’s office, the equivalent of the U.S. Attorney General) is creating a “special agency” to work with the Medellín prosecutor’s office’s current investigation (link in Spanish).

As Drudge says, “developing.”


Venezuela: El Pollo as big fish

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Mary O’Grady on today’s WSJ:
A Terrorist Big Fish Gets Away
The Netherlands refuses to extradite FARC ally Hugo Carvajal Barrios to the U.S.

While O’Grady contradicts herself on the criminals’ intent, saying, on the one hand, “America’s voracious appetite for illegal drugs has allowed violent political actors to create powerful transnational criminal organizations”, while on the other hand stating, “All of this terror is done in the name of social justice for Colombians,” the effect of current U.S. foreign policy is clear: The bottom line? (emphasis added)

Yet it’s not surprising that the Netherlands decided it would be less costly to be on the good side of the bad guys than to be on the bad side of the good guys. After six years of the Obama global retreat, any leader would be crazy to expect the U.S. to go to the mat for an ally, even one that stuck its neck out for Uncle Sam. So when Venezuela threatened military and economic retribution at the Netherlands Antilles if Carvajal was extradited, the Dutch foreign affairs minister relented.

Read the whole thing here.

Venezuela: Derwick in the news

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

In the WSJ:
American Agencies Probe Venezuelan Energy Company
Federal and New York City law-enforcement authorities are investigating Derwick Associates, which became one of Venezuela’s leading builders of electricity plants during the Chávez administration.

Manhattan prosecutors are investigating Derwick and ProEnergy for possible violations of New York banking law, people familiar with the matter said.

Meanwhile, people familiar with the matter said prosecutors in the Justice Department’s criminal fraud section are reviewing the actions of Derwick and ProEnergy for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits offering foreign government officials improper payments in exchange for a business advantage.

Federal prosecutors are scrutinizing the difference between the prices ProEnergy charged Derwick for its equipment and the prices Derwick ultimately charged the Venezuelan government, one person familiar with the matter said. The person said that in some past FCPA cases, excessive margins have been used to conceal bribes to foreign officials.

Casto Ocando, in his book Chavistas en el Imperio: Secretos, Tácticas y Escándalos de la Revolución Bolivariana en Estados Unidos (page 224), estimates that the Chavez government awarded Derwick contracts of nearly a billion dollars (plus $400 million overruns) between 2009-2010.

Alek Boyd has been writing about Derwick since 2012; in today’s post he explains that

Derwick Associates never won “competitive bids”. In the multiple occasions that Batiz and Ultimas Noticias asked Derwick Associates to reveal details of the contracts it had gotten from the Venezuelan State -bold added with the purpose of highlighting the fact that this is public money we are talking about- the company refused, repeatedly, to come clean. Derwick Associates has never been a “transparent company”. Quite the opposite in fact.

Read Alek’s post here.