After eight years of “you didn’t build that,” the country was ready for it.
Read my post, Making the #SOTU great again.
It’s jailbird Tuesday!
Notorious drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán promises he won’t kill any jurors seated in his upcoming federal court trial, arguing it’s therefore unnecessary to keep them anonymous and under armed guard as prosecutors have asked.
Authorities have never revealed that the case against the man who some believe was the biggest drug kingpin in the world began with Baines, a mid-level dealer whose father owned a grocery store in Austin and also drove a bus for the CTA.
But a Sun-Times review of court records and interviews with Baines and others involved in the case, including a key former federal prosecutor, has found that a Drug Enforcement Administration task force used a web of informants and hundreds of wiretapped calls to trace a path that ultimately led from Baines to El Chapo.
“We went from the streets of Chicago to the mountaintops of Mexico,” says Thomas Shakeshaft, a former assistant U.S. attorney who supervised each phase of the investigation. “We started a case against the Traveling Vice Lords on the West Side of Chicago and went all the way up.
“Before Sean Penn flew down to Mexico with [actress] Kate del Castillo and recorded this thing where Chapo admitted he was the largest drug-trafficker in the world, we had the only legally admissible voice recording of Chapo in the world.”
There are even Breaking Bad-like identical twins*, Pedro “Peter” Flores and Margarito “Junior” Flores.
The twins agreed to cooperate with U.S. investigators in late 2008, court records show, and Pedro Flores recorded a damning phone conversation with his supplier — El Chapo. The recording became the key evidence in the 2009 federal indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
Read the whole thing.
*Breaking Bad twins,
Claiming he was granted asylum in Ecuador, Florida man was caught at the airport with a money laundering to-do list while awaiting sentencing,
[Nikesh] Patel, of Windermere, Fla., pleaded guilty in federal court in Chicago in 2016 to five counts of wire fraud, admitting in a plea agreement with prosecutors that he sold tens of millions of dollars in fraudulent loans to an investment firm in Wisconsin and blew the cash on a lavish lifestyle and to buy hotels, court records show.
He had a money laundering to-do list when he was stopped at the Kissimmee airport while trying to flee to Ecuador,
he was carrying a document that laid out an elaborate escape plan, from applying for political asylum in Ecuador to marshaling ill-gotten assets to buy $30 million in diamonds from a merchant in Dubai.
The document, which was titled “What we are doing,” appeared to be written to an unidentified person aiding him in the escape attempt, according to the prosecution filing made last week.
“I have got my final asylum approval and need to move things along and cannot just sit around here and wait any longer,” Patel wrote. “I managed to get a few more dollars (don’t ask how) so as of today, I have a total of $35MM in ‘dirty’ money.”
The document went on to detail how Patel was finalizing the purchase of a 104-carat “fancy dark” diamond — “one of the rarest diamonds in the world and very sought after” — through a merchant he trusted in Dubai, according to the court records.
Patel’s wife and children had already fled to Ecuador after his arrest. He had obtained a new passport from a friend in India late last year and applied for political asylum in Ecuador. He used to own a hotel in Peoria.
If you’re going to be crook, Fleeing to South America? Leave the incriminating to-do list at home
What does a former president do after losing an appeal, having a prison sentence extended, and his passport seized? Run again!
I didn’t have time to update on Lula’s legal troubles last week:
A federal judge in Brazil has seized the passport of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and banned him from leaving the country.
Judge Ricardo Leite is investigating allegations that Lula illegally lobbied on behalf of a Swedish firm that sold military jets to Brazil.
On Wednesday, an appeals court unanimously upheld his conviction for corruption in a separate case.
Lula keeps saying, “I haven’t committed any crime.” Apparently his Workers’ Party believes him since they announced he’s their candidate for president. However (emphasis added)
While Mr. da Silva’s lawyers are expected to challenge Wednesday’s appeals-court ruling, many legal experts believe the verdict will ultimately prevent the former president, who currently stands at the top of pre-election polls, from running. Under Brazil’s Clean Record election law, politicians convicted of corruption stand to be barred from public office for eight years once the verdict is upheld by an appeals court.
The party has also failed to groom young leaders to take up its banner should Mr. da Silva be barred, which has been a possibility at least since he was sentenced in July to 9½ years in prison for corruption and money laundering. The appeals court this week lengthened that sentence to just over 12 years.
How’s Lula doing?
In polls taken last month, the former leader led the pack of presidential hopefuls by a healthy margin, with 36% of voter intentions, according to Datafolha. In second place was right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro, with 18%.
For now, Lula was scheduled to travel to Ethiopia to speak on world hunger, but had to cancel.
Brazil is Latin America’s largest economy.
Crossposted at WoW! Magazine.
Nearly ten years ago, one of this blog’s readers was aware of this,
THE REFINERY RACKET: Mexico’s drug cartels, now hooked on fuel, cripple the country’s refineries
Drug gangs pressure refinery workers to tap the lifeblood of Mexico’s oil industry. One former worker fled the country. One former gang member helps authorities understand the racket.
. . .
Between 2011 and 2016, the number of unauthorized taps discovered on Mexico’s fuel lines nearly quintupled, according to a recent report by the federal auditor. Repair costs surged almost tenfold, to 1.77 billion pesos ($95 million).
A May 2017 study, commissioned by the national energy regulator and obtained by Reuters via a freedom of information request, found that thieves, between 2009 and 2016, had tapped pipelines roughly every 1.4 kms (0.86 mi) along Pemex’s approximately 14,000 km pipeline network.
After decades of poor upkeep, the refineries are bleeding money as well as fuel. In addition to unscheduled outages, which cause big operational losses, maintenance problems have led to fatal accidents, including fires and explosions.
With a vested interest for the status quo,
According to Otero, there are eight armed groups that make up the Maduro administration’s muscle:
- Armed civilian militias that are uniformed and trained by the army
- The Bolivarian National Guard (Guardia Nacional Boliviariana — GNB)
- The Bolivarian National Police (Policía Nacional Bolivariana — PNB)
- The Bolivarian National Armed Forces (Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana — FANB)
- Cuban military advisors surrounding Maduro
- “Colectivos,” the pro-government paramilitary organizations that operate throughout the country
- The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia — FARC)
- Colombia’s National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional — ELN)
Read it at InSight Crime,
— InSight Crime (@InSightCrime) January 22, 2018
In other Venezuela news,
Venezuela has just announced an election — and it’s terrible news for democracy
I’m getting over a flu. Juliette filled in for me yesterday at DTGB, Who Can Investigate the Investigators?