Andrew Pritchard the ‘fixer’ behind Britain’s largest ever drugs smuggling operation

Customs and Excise in London had labelled Andrew Pritchard the ‘fixer’ behind Britain’s largest ever drugs smuggling operation - half a ton of cocaine, “enough to keep London’s clubland snorting for months”.Held behind bars for 18 months, doing time for a crime he insisted he did not commit, Pritchard was subsequently exonerated. He was allowed to walk away from Her Majesty’s prison with all charges formally dropped against him. And that, he says, was the start of his transformation.

Andrew Pritchard signing a copy of his book. (Photos: Joseph Wellington)
Pritchard chronicles his experience in the no-holds-barred novel, Urban Smuggler, a book which will be made into a film, with some of the scenes shot on location here in Jamaica.“Oh yes, I was a smuggler,” Pritchard admits without reservation, in an interview the day after the local launch held recently in the gardens of the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.His smuggling escapades, however, were limited to Cuban cigars and those of the counterfeit variety - never cocaine or any such drug, he emphasises, his British accent sounding thick.Born in Britain to a Jamaican mother who migrated to that country in the 50s, in the book, Pritchard says that his introduction to smuggling came as a child on his return trip from Jamaica to England. He recalls wondering why the suitcases he and his sister were taking home were so heavy.
“When our suitcases were opened, they revealed dozens of bottles of white rum. I remember being amused, if not shocked. This, then was to be my first experience in smuggling.”And, if smuggling is to be defined as taking steps to import a legal substance without paying the customs and excise duties, then Pritchard here has quite casually opened a can of worms. Which traveller can honestly say they have never tried to ‘hide’ an item from the prying eyes of Customs officials in order to avoid paying duties? So, does that make us all smugglers? (Those of you without sin cast the first stone.)The author guilelessly recounts his chequered past - starting out in 1988 as a promoter for ‘warehouse parties’ - illegal, all-night events - through to 2004 when he became intimately involved with the Cuban cigar smuggling ring. The Foreword says it all. “Andrew was known to the police and the underworld from early 1980s when he was at the centre of the rave scene which transformed youth culture and drug use in the UK.”So, making strides in his career, Pritchard finds more lucrative ways to earn a living. “We brought top-end Cuban cigars and found a way to circumvent the excise and duties, which were ridiculously high at the time,” he told the Observer. “We later started smuggling counterfeit cigars through Cayman into England as well,” he added
And, crucial to the success of this smuggling enterprise was the Fast Team of Customs officials on Pritchard’s payroll, whose job it was to send through his containers of cigars without them being searched.It was while on his way to pick up one such sealed container that Pritchard’s neatly stacked deck of smuggling cards came tumbling down. He was arrested and charged with smuggling half a ton of premium grade cocaine with a street value of $100m, as that was what was allegedly found in the container, not cigars.The nightmare which followed saw a court case which cost nine million pounds, two hung juries and a final acquittal.
Surely the stuff of which books and films are made. And also the stuff from which the smuggler-turned-author made tons of cash. (”Oh, yes, smuggling was quite a lucrative enterprise,” he told us.)Casting is now being done for the international feature film

Tuan Ky Quach, 38, was allegedly bound with duct tape in a Windsor motel room in February by three armed men who stole about $200,000 in marijuana.

Tuan Ky Quach, 38, was allegedly bound with duct tape in a Windsor motel room in February by three armed men who stole about $200,000 in marijuana. Another man was pistol-whipped with a 357 Magnum in a case that resulted in seven arrests after police were alerted to people in ski masks lurking outside.Quach was charged with possession of 24 kilograms of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.
Details of that incident came out yesterday when Quach — a small, clean-cut man with glasses — was denied bail on charges related to a Kitchener home-grow operation.
Quach was among five suspects arrested at gunpoint Sept. 11 during an alleged drug deal in the parking lot of a Chinese restaurant in suburban Toronto. Police fired five shots in the afternoon takedown when the driver of a car allegedly tried to speed away and hit one of the officers in the knee.
Waterloo Regional Police doing surveillance based on a public tip had followed a blue van from a home in the Doon South area of Kitchener. The blue van allegedly met up in the restaurant parking lot with a car and a white van.According to allegations outlined in court, $24,000 was transferred from the car to the white van, and 11 kilograms of marijuana worth $100,000 were moved from the blue van to the car.
Quach, the alleged car driver, is charged with possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking, assault with a weapon and dangerous driving.The day after the arrests, police searched 366 Pine Valley Dr. and found more than 1,000 marijuana plants worth an estimated $1 million.It was one of four major marijuana seizures in the same suburban neighbourhood in a month.Court heard Quach was released on $30,000 bail in the Windsor case and went to live with his parents in Markham. Two months later, he was charged in Toronto with possession of marijuana and breaching the terms of his bail. He was then freed again.Defence lawyer Nana Kato applied to have him released for the third time yesterday, proposing his father and his sister as sureties. They said they were willing to put up $150,000 each and would watch Quach around-the-clock."We admit he was deceiving us," his sister, Ngoc Quach, said of his two prior releases. "We did not supervise him close enough."Trung Quach said through a Cantonese interpreter that his son likes gambling and began getting in trouble after he lost his girlfriend and his job in a machine shop a few years ago.
Kato suggested Quach might have thought it was another drug rip-off and panicked when confronted by armed undercover officers in the parking lot.Federal prosecutor Kathleen Nolan opposed his release, stressing Quach's track record of alleged breaches since his first arrest."Why should we have any confidence he is going to follow the terms if he is released?" she asked.Justice of the peace Andrew Marquette agreed, denying bail on even strict terms of house arrest.Two of five suspects in the Pine Valley Drive case were granted bail of $140,000 and $100,000. Two other suspects have not had bail hearings yet.

Bosses of the Sumiyoshi-kai crime syndicate formally acknowledged their "employers' liability" for the death of one of three bystanders killed

Bosses of the Sumiyoshi-kai crime syndicate formally acknowledged their "employers' liability" for the death of one of three bystanders killed when members of an affiliate gang shot up a bar in Maebashi in 2003. The admission was part of a settlement reached Friday in a lawsuit filed by the family of one of the victims.
According to an attorney for the plaintiffs, Shigeo Nishiguchi and Hareaki Fukuda--Sumiyoshi-kai's top two leaders--agreed to pay 97.5 million yen in compensation to the plaintiffs, promised to prevent similar incidents and expressed regret to the victims' relatives. It is believed to be the first time that gang bosses have formally acknowledged their liability as employers for a crime committed by subordinates. On Jan. 25, 2003, two members of a gang affiliated with Sumiyoshi-kai fired a number of shots inside and outside a bar in Maebashi, killing four people and severely wounding two. A man formerly linked to a gang affiliated with the rival Inagawa-kai crime syndicate was killed along with three customers of the bar. One of the two people wounded was a former leader of the gang affiliated with Inagawa-kai.
The two attackers and their boss, who ordered the shooting, were arrested, convicted and sentenced to death. They have lodged an appeal with higher courts. In November 2006, three family members of one of the murdered bystanders filed a 197.6 million yen lawsuit against the two attackers, the senior member of the affiliate gang who ordered the attack, Nishiguchi and Fukuda. One of the two attackers agreed to pay his portion. The other attacker and the senior gang member were ordered by the high court to pay 88 million yen. The decision was finalized. The suit against Nishiguchi and Fukuda was separated as it involved employer liability. Earlier in the trial, Nishiguchi and Fukuda denied their employers' liability and sought to have the case dismissed. The court proposed a settlement in respect of the case in April.
The plaintiffs said they would accept the court-mediated settlement if the defendants would acknowledge their liability as employers. The defendants presented a settlement proposal earlier this month. Speaking at a press conference after the settlement was finalized, the eldest daughter of the victim said: "Since we sued gangsters, we've been fearful that we may lose more family members. We'll continue to be terrified, but now I'll tell my [late] father at the home altar that the Sumiyoshi-kai bosses acknowledged their responsibility." She was accompanied by her husband, who held a portrait of the victim. The plaintiffs' lawyers said in a statement, "The ruling will bring significant results in terms of relief from gang crimes and prevention of such crimes."

former Georgetown police officer Jimmy Fennell was sentenced of two years behind bars on charges of improper sexual activity with a person in custody

former Georgetown police officer Jimmy Fennell was sentenced of two years behind bars on charges of improper sexual activity with a person in custody and 10 years in prison for kidnapping.Fennell waived a jury trial and pleaded guilty last week.
The Williamson County district attorney said "a rogue officer was punished for serious crimes. He will never again hold a peace officer's license."The judge only took a few minutes to decide Fennell's fate. The judge told Fennell that he had shamed his department, his family and that he had shaken the public trust in the police department and therefore he would be receiving the maximum punishment.
District Attorney John Bradley said this case would have been difficult to take to trial due to bad investigative work on behalf of the Georgetown Polce Dept.
He indicated that there was corruption at work and that Fennell had been in charge of his own investigation and had altered evidence to protect himself. Former Georgetown police officer Jimmy Fennell was sentenced to 10 years behind bars.The city is also going to have their hands full due to a federal civil lawsuit that the victim has filed because of Fennell's behavior. Fennell pleaded guilty in May to felony charges of kidnapping and improper sexual activity with a person in custody. The charges come from an Oct. 26 incident in which Fennell responded to a domestic disturbance call at a woman’s home, and according to court documents, he forced the woman to go with him in his patrol car, dance for him and have sex with him.

Danny Davidson,58, a businessman of Brown's Town, St Ann is accused of smuggling millions of dollars worth of cocaine and ganja into the United States

Danny Davidson,58, a businessman of Brown's Town, St Ann is accused of smuggling millions of dollars worth of cocaine and ganja into the United States.He was nabbed last week by members of the Fugitive Apprehension Team.US prosecutors claimed the Jamaican was a member of the Ayala Serna drug smuggling organisation which has been smuggling tons of cocaine and ganja from Colombia through Jamaica and the Bahamas into the United States.Mr. Davidson who was indicted in December 2005 is facing more than 30 counts of conspiracy to import cocaine and ganja into Florida.He's also facing multiple counts of money laundering.The US DEA claimed that on June 15, 2005, Mr. Davidson arranged a shipment of 700 pounds of ganja into Florida.On September 23, 2005 he arranged a shipment of 180 kilograms of cocaine into Plantation, Florida.
A few days later he arranged another shipment of 120 kilograms of cocaine into Florida.US prosecutors say they have the Jamaican on tape making arrangements to import multi-million dollar shipments of narcotics to the US.He's also accused of selling dope to undercover DEA agents.


• Scope: National
• Criminal Activity: Narcotics, weapons, extortion, assaults, intimidation, beatings, stabbing, shootings, murder and graffiti.
• Propensity for Violence: The Latin Kings’ reputation continues today as evidenced by the violence in correctional facilities in various communities.
The Latin Kings are known to beat, stab or shoot members who have not conformed to the gang’s rules of obedience, resulting in serious physical injury up to and including death.
Individuals and rival gangs who possess a threat to the Latin Kings have also been targeted for violence.
• Finances: The main source of income for the Latin Kings is funds derived from drug trade. Though members are not to use drugs, they may sell and distribute drugs to make money for themselves and the organization.
Recently, this group has been seen developing legitimate business enterprises as fronts to their criminal activities; this will include medical offices, law offices and more.

Stephen Flemmi was a feared gangster and former paratrooper they called ''The Rifleman''

Stephen Flemmi was a feared gangster and former paratrooper they called ''The Rifleman'' around South Boston. The same Stevie who murdered Hussey's daughter.
Hussey once knew him well he spit in Flemmi's face when he found out the gangster was sleeping with his wife.
Flemmi cold-cocked him but let him live. Decades later, Thomas Hussey's daughter, Deborah Hussey, met a different -- and final -- fate.On Monday, Flemmi was not on trial. His 2004 conviction for strangling Deborah is just one of 10 murder charges that put him in prison for life.Instead, Flemmi was there to testify against former Boston FBI agent John Connolly, 68, who stands accused of being corrupted by Flemmi's gang and leaking vital information that led to the 1982 murder of a gambling executive in South Florida.''He's really aged,'' Hussey, 74, whispered as the diminutive Flemmi, also 74, walked in, sporting glasses, thinning gray hair parted to the side and an olive prison suit.And with that, Flemmi began his day recounting his decades-long criminal career in Boston. Hussey watched calmly, nodding at points, remembering names and places as though he were watching a familiar movie.Hussey has been a court regular since the Connolly trial began last week. A plumber, he moved to South Florida in 1973 to escape the danger around South Boston.His then-wife, Marion Hussey, had taken up with Flemmi, who along with Winter Hill gang leader James ''Whitey'' Bulger ran an unchecked criminal enterprise in Boston.The last time Hussey saw Flemmi was during a party for Deborah's high school graduation in 1976. Deborah's life spiraled into drugs and booze. Eight years later, Deborah accused Flemmi of sexual molestation. She went missing soon after.Flemmi took Deborah shopping for clothes, then strangled her and yanked out her teeth to make identifying her body difficult. Her corpse was not unearthed from a Boston marsh until January 2000.''I'm glad he didn't get the death penalty,'' Hussey said of Flemmi. ``I want him to suffer. Death penalty is too quick.''Minutes before Flemmi arrived Monday and outside the jury's presence, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Stanford Blake expressed his condolences to Hussey. Then he politely asked Hussey to step outside if emotions took over. ''I can handle it,'' Hussey assured the judge. Flemmi never looked his way.He did face the jury, however, telling them how he and Bulger gave Connolly more than $200,000 in gifts over the years.''Hey, I'm one of the gang,'' Flemmi recalled Connolly saying after receiving $25,000 in drug money.
He recalled Connolly telling them of a bookmaker named Richard Castucci, who had informed the feds about the hiding place of a fugitive pal. The gang murdered him.
They also killed fellow gangster Brian Halloran, who ratted to the FBI that Bulger's gang killed Oklahoma millionaire Roger Wheeler in 1981 over a business dispute involving Miami's World Jai-Alai.Hussey watched, getting up only to get a closer look at blow-up photos of South Boston and its players. ''Most of those guys are from South Boston, where I lived. Tough neighborhood,'' he whispered.In the years since his daughter disappeared, Hussey has battled alcohol addiction but little anger. He hopes Connolly gets convicted but wants to see him receive a light sentence.Flemmi is scheduled to testify about the disgraced FBI agent on Tuesday.
As for Flemmi, Hussey watched with the detached eye of a Red Sox analyst.
''I hope they put him in the jail's general population,'' Hussey said, affably. ``He'll have a heinous death. He's a pedophile and a snitch -- they'll kill him, very brutally.''

Gangster Killer Bloods leader Victor "Little Vic" Lopez, 26, pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in the shooting death of Edwin "Dino"Andino

Gangster Killer Bloods leader Victor "Little Vic" Lopez, 26, pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in the March 25, 2005, shooting death of Edwin "Dino" Andino. Andino, 19, was gunned down at Walnut and Houghton avenues in Trenton. Lopez, a captain in the Gangster Killer Bloods, said he told two co-defendants who were soldiers in the gang to open fire on the corner while he waited in a van. But Lopez, answering questions posed by his lawyer, Bruce Throckmorton, the judge and assistant prosecutor, said he had a personal dispute with people hanging around on that corner, rather than a gang-related vendetta. Asked by Assistant Prosecutor Skylar Weissman what his rank was in the gang, Lopez said that he was a "five star."
Lopez will be sentenced in February to 15 years in prison and must serve at least 12 3/4 years before he can be released, Superior Court Judge Thomas Kelly said. The sentence will run concurrently with a 71-month federal sentence Lopez incurred in 2005 for carrying an Uzi semi-automatic weapon and wearing a bulletproof vest.
"He could have gotten 30 to life (in prison) or he could have been found guilty of aggravated manslaughter as well," said Weissman. "In a situation like this there are no winning sides. A 19-year-old young man was killed. You see the fact all the young players who played a part in this have their lives ruined and there's no winners on either side. And he'll be spending 15 long, hard years in jail. Hopefully, he'll think every day of the pain and suffering he brought to the victim's family."
After a hearing Friday, Kelly had ruled that damaging audiotapes of phone calls made by another inmate on Lopez' behest to tamper with witnesses could be played to the jury at the trial. Weissman argued the tapes showed evidence Lopez realized his guilt. Meanwhile, murder charges remain pending against alleged shooters Bruce "Black Magic" Duette, 27, and Anthony "Ace" Coleman, 21, both of Trenton. Their trial date is set for Dec. 1. While Lopez will not be required to testify against Duette or Coleman, he told Kelly he ordered them to open fire on the street corner knowing that someone might be killed. Under the terms of his plea agreement, he will also not testify for the defense.

Rayful Edmond III is now part of the United States Federal Witness Protection Program and his place of incarceration is confidential.

Rayful Edmond III is largely credited with introducing crack cocaine into the Washington, D.C. area. Columbians was alleged to have moved In an indictment involving two of Edmond's associates, it said that they bought between 1000 and 2,000 kilos over a 1 week period at a time. In 1992 from the Trujillo-Blanco brothers, who were associated with the Medellin cartel, and sold the drugs to Washington area wholesalers. He was known to have spent some $457,619 in an exclusive Georgetown store (Linea Pitti, specializing in Italian men's clothing) owned by Charles Wynn who was later convicted on 34 counts of money laundering.Edmond was arrested in 1989 at the age of 24. His arrest and subsequent trial were widely covered by local and national media. Judicial officials, fearful of reprisals from members of Edmond's gang, imposed unprecedented security during the trial. Jurors' identities were kept secret before, during, and after trial, and their seating area was enclosed in bulletproof glass. Edmond was jailed at the maximum security facility at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia and flown to the Federal Court House in Washington, D.C. by helicopter each day for his trial. Authorities took this unusual step due to heightened fears of an armed escape attempt. This gang was believed to have committed over 40 murders including the attempted murder of a local pastor, the Reverend Mr. Bynum, who was shot 12 times during an anti-drug march in his Orleans Place neighborhood.[citation needed]Rayful continued to deal after being incarcerated in Lewisburg, PA federal prison. In 1996, Edmond and another drug dealer from Atlanta, named Lowe, were convicted after conducting drug business from a federal prison phone. Edmond received an additional 30-year sentence. Edmond's case is one of the most notorious abuses of such phone privileges and an embarrassment for the Bureau of Prisons. In an interview with the Bureau of Prisons, Edmond said he had spent several hours every day on the telephone, occasionally using two lines simultaneously to conduct his drug business.Following this conviction, Edmond became a government informant in order to secure his mother's release from prison and a reduced sentence. Edmond is still incarcerated but is now part of the United States Federal Witness Protection Program and his place of incarceration is confidential.

Gaetano J. Milano was sentenced in 1991 for executing William "Wild Guy" Grasso

Gaetano J. Milano was sentenced in 1991 for executing William "Wild Guy" Grasso as they sped down Interstate 91 in a van two years earlier. A volatile mobster even by mob standards, Grasso was a fellow soldier in the Providence-based Patriarca crime family and Milano told the judge he believed it was Grasso or him.
"It was kill or be killed," Milano said at his sentencing before U.S. District Judge Alan H. Nevas, the same jurist who will reconsider Milano's sentence next month.
Fueling that argument, defense lawyers have argued, was the late Boston mobster Angelo "Sonny" Mercurio, revealed in the 1990s to be a "top echelon" FBI informant who the agency shielded from prosecution in the murders of Grasso and others. The FBI's mishandling of mob moles like Mercurio, James "Whitey" Bulger and others has prompted widespread litigation of old sentences and early release of several gangsters who have successfully argued they were framed by or took the fall for informants. Mercurio died in 2006 in the federal Witness Protection Program, 17 years after recording a prized Mafia induction ceremony in Medford for the FBI. A former federal prosecutor with a Boston organized crime strike force, Diane Kottmyer, now a Superior Court judge, ultimately testified in a separate trial that Mercurio had been complicit in the Grasso murder and others, but was never charged.
Defense lawyers believe Mercurio also pitted Boston and Connecticut mob factions against each other with bogus reports that members on each side were plotting to "clip" or "take out" the other, according to court filings.
In a surprise move in 2006, Nevas released Milano's codefendant, 82-year-old Louis Pugliano, of West Springfield, after Pugliano served just 15 years of a life sentence. Lawyers for Pugliano ultimately won his early release through an agreement with prosecutors who agreed to a resentencing based on flawed jury selection and ineffective counsel arguments.

Christopher Hudson was proud to be a Hells Angel."Don't you know who I am? I'm a Hells Angel."

Christopher Hudson was proud to be a Hells Angel. When he left for Melbourne, he made his bikie connection known at the King Street strip club Spearmint Rhino he used to frequent.They knew him as "Huddo" at the club at which he was a VIP member where a minimum spend of $250 was the deal.The night before the CBD shooting, Hudson had been drinking there before moving on to nearby club Barcode.
It was there Hudson took objection to stripper Autumn-Daly Holt giving a man a lap dance.He saw it his duty to intervene, lifting Holt from her chair by her hair and assaulting her.When a bystander objected, Hudson lifted his shirt to reveal his Hells Angels tattoo, saying: "Don't you know who I am? I'm a Hells Angel."Hudson battered Holt and she was left unconscious on the steps of the club.
His history of aggression toward women was no different with his on-again off-again lover, model Kaera Douglas.In their two-and-a-half-month relationship, he managed to beat her around the head, give her black eyes and twice break her nose.
On the morning of the CBD shootings, a petrified Douglas had been trying to break free from Hudson by getting into a taxi.Two onlookers, lawyer Brendan Keilar and Dutch backpacker Paul de Waard, saw Hudson assaulting her and went to her aid.
Fuelled by a toxic blend of grog, ice and steroids, Hudson fired his gun at all three at point blank range, killing Keilar.The three slumped to the ground but that didn't stop him continuing to fire as onlookers on their way to work watched horrified.Witnesses reported Hudson was calm as he executed the shots - "cool as a cucumber", said one.Another described him fleeing the scene like he was late for an appointment.As Hudson fled, tram commuters saw what they believed was his attempt to take his own life.The witnesses told police he had held a gun to his head then said, "no".Even if Hudson had tried, his bullets had been spent on his victims.
In the end he chose life and made a run for it.Although proud of his Angels membership, Hudson had done his bikie mates no favours by thrusting them into the public spotlight. The talk was that the Angels would disown him.Wracked by either remorse, fear of his Angels mates or the inevitability the law would catch up with him, Hudson handed himself in to police after a two-day nationwide manhunt.He gave a "no comment" interview, except to say he was sorry for what happened.
During his pre-sentence hearing this month, the crown spoke of how the shooting rocked Melbourne.This was a crime which deserved no parole, they argued.
His defence said while there was little to explain the motive behind the shooting, his behaviour was linked to the drug ice, the nightclub scene and the associates he kept.Hudson showed little emotion today, except that his eyes continually darted around the court room, perhaps a sign of anxiety over his fate.Hudson was sentenced to life behind bars, with a non-parole period of 35 years.

Vito Rizzuto arrest warrant

The Rizzuto organization has formed a "Sixth Family," a Mafia clan based in Montreal that has overshadowed the Mafia's notorious Five Families of New York. Recent allegations of their presence abroad place them as one of the world's most robust criminal cartels. controlling mind behind it all was Vito Rizzuto of Mont-real, Italian authorities allege.Police in Italy issued an arrest warrant for Rizzuto, who is currently in prison in the United States for three gangland slayings. Also wanted are four men in Canada -- including Rizzuto's father, Nicolo, who is similarly in jail in Montreal awaiting trial."We believe that even from jail they are able to control the organization," said Silvia Franze, an investigator with the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia in Rome."We blocked a lot of bank accounts and money," Ms. Franze told the National Post. "We have seized many companies and hundreds of millions of Euros all around the world because we believe that behind these companies is Vito Rizzuto."
Also arrested was Mariano Turrisi, 53, the president and founder of Made in Italy Inc., an export marketing group. He is heard on wiretaps speaking with Rizzuto, police allege.Mr. Turrisi's arrest and connection to Rizzuto is particularly noteworthy --he was the senior deputy of a political movement founded by Prince Emanuele Filiberto, a last heir to the Italian throne when the monarchy ended in 1946, according to Claudio Gatti, an investigative journalist with Il Sole 24 Ore, a leading Italian business newspaper."This becomes a political story. The prince was planning to make it into a political party and he picked as his only vice-chairman Mr. Turrisi," said Mr. Gatti, who has been investigating the links.The political movement, called "Values and Future" in English, was started after Mr. Filiberto returned from exile in 2002 after the royal family, commonly called the Royal House of Savoy, was allowed to re-enter Italy.
Links to such people show the level of influence and power the Rizzuto name carries around the world, police said.Italian legal documents in the case dramatically portray Vito Rizzuto as being a global superboss.From their origins in Italy, the Rizzutos moved to Canada, where they "gave birth to a transnational society" that worked to unite the Italian mafias and create "overseas cells," a document from the Rome anti-Mafia prosecutor's office alleges.The organization sought to "manage and control the economic activities connected to the acquisition of contracts in public works" and to "commit a series of crimes -- killings, internatonal drug trafficking, extortion, frauds, smuggling, stock-market manipulation, insider trading and criminal transfer of securities," it alleges.The group used several companies listed on European and North American stock markets, including one registered in Vancouver, to develop business projects linked to gold mines in Canada and Chile, authorities allege.The Italian investigation was aided by Swiss police, who probed bank accounts and other investments. Two of those arrested were bank employees.The masses of money come from rampant international drug trafficking, authorities say, including a company that used leather clothing to mask the smell of narcotics from drug-sniffing dogs.Among those charged yesterday in Italy were Roberto Papalia, 62, a controversial Vancouver businessman who has run afoul of security regulators in Canada and the United States, who was arrested in Milan; and Felice Italiano, 61, a LaSalle, Que., businessman who had charges dropped against him more than a decade ago after one of Canada's largest drug seizures.Mr. Italiano was arrested in his Rome hotel room two hours before his return flight to Canada was scheduled to leave."I think he will remember this holiday in Italy," Ms. Franze said. His wife continued on to Canada.All are charged in Italy for Mafia association.Also facing charges are Paolo Renda, 68, Francesco Arcadi, 54, and Rocco Sollecito, 59. All three Montral men are awaiting trial, along with Nicolo Rizzuto, on charges in Canada. Other arrest warrants are pending against Canadians, the National Post has learned.Despite the allegations of high-finance and political connections, the charges stem from a small-time mob-linked swindle north of Toronto in 2001. That allowed police in Ontario to install wiretaps in Montreal.While no charges in Quebec came from that probe, evidence from it was used by the RCMP in Montreal to install more wiretaps in 2002, in what became known as Project Colisee.It was shortly after those wiretaps were turned on that police tracked regular contact between gangsters in Montreal and men in Italy. That information was forwarded to Italian authorities, who, in turn, placed several suspects under surveillance.The Italian probe brought two startling sets of allegations.The first were announced in 2005 and accused Rizzuto and former Montreal construction engineer Giuseppe Zappia (known for building the Olympic Village for the 1976 games) of conspiring to use illicit money to build a bridge connecting the island of Sicily to mainland Italy.The bridge was one of the largest public works projects in Italy and the consortium was allegedly prepared to invest $6-billion to complete it.
The second series of charges are those announced yesterday in Rome."We found there were cells here in Italy controlled by Vito Rizzuto. We found out the links between the chiefs of those cells and the companies allegedly involved in financial crimes and in acquiring land for development," Ms. Franze said.

Max Mermelstein took orders directly from cartel bosses Pablo Escobar and Jorge Ochoa.

Mermelstein did more than any other American citizen to help bring the Colombian cocaine trade into this country. Then he turned into a federal witness and did more than any other American to try to bring it down.1978 to 1985, Max Mermelstein helped move 56 tons of cocaine into Florida and sent $300 million in cash back to Medellin, Colombia. He was instrumental in creating the "Cocaine Cowboy" era of South Florida depicted in the Al Pacino film Scarface and in innumerable episodes of Miami Vice.
Mermelstein died Friday at age 65 in Lexington, Ky., felled by cancer of the bone, liver and lung. The Post's Jeff Leen, who crossed paths with Mermelstein when he was investigating the cocaine cartel for the Miami Herald in the 1980s, reports on the startling life and death of this drug-importer-turned-informant:
Mermelstein had been living under an assumed name after years spent in the Federal Witness Protection Program, known to all its denizens as "WITSEC." Max hated WITSEC and complained about it constantly, eventually leaving the program. He hated the rules, the government bureaucracy, the slow response to his needs and concerns.
That was not a bit surprising considering that he had lived a good portion of his life beyond society's rules as one of the most brazen and effective outlaws of his time. Mermelstein was the only gringo allowed into the inner circle of the Medellin Cartel, the Colombian criminal organization that spawned America's cocaine epidemic in the 1970s and 1980s. He sat in on the cartel's high councils, taking orders directly from cartel bosses Pablo Escobar and Jorge Ochoa.
The man who sat at the right hand of Pablo Escobar in the most murderous criminal enterprise of the 20th Century started out as a mechanical engineer in Brooklyn. He was born Nov. 1, 1942. At 13, he began working in his father's small business, saving money to pay his way through community college and then to study engineering at the New York Institute of Technology.He married a Puerto Rican woman, learned 'barrio Spanish," moved to San Juan, separated from his wife and met a gorgeous Colombian woman who introduced him to the cocaine trade. He started by helping to smuggle his wife's Colombian relatives and friends into the United States through the Bahamas, where he had worked as chief engineer at the Princess Hotel in Freeport. One of his wife's friends was a slick, 20-something Colombian man named Rafael "Rafa" Cardona Salazar. Rafa was a cocaine dealer who wore ostrich-skin shoes on his tiny feet and paid Max $1,500 for each $45,000 kilogram (2.2. pounds) of cocaine Mermelstein delivered to his clients. By now Max was working as the chief engineer at the Aventura Country Club in Miami. He delivered a few kilos, rationalizing what he was doing. "I didn't really consider this an excursion into the murky realm of the drug dealers," Max later wrote in a book about his life. "I hadn't personally touched a single gram of coke."Things changed for Max on Christmas Day, 1978, when he witnessed Rafa kill another drug dealer the three men were driving around the suburbs of Miami at 2 a.m. The dead man worked for Rafa and made the mistake of criticizing his boss for shooting at a party. Rafa was coked up and offended; he emptied his .38-caliber revolver into the man's face and they dumped the body on a side street. Rafa told Max he suspected the man was stealing from him.
The killing bound Max's fate to Rafa's."He owned me, if you want to put it that way," Max told me nine years later in the first interview he gave to a journalist. "I saw him commit murder and he let me live. I think it was a well thought-out plan."Max went to work for Rafa full time in 1981, overseeing 38 smuggling flights by small aircraft that each brought in 1,000 pounds of cocaine directly into Florida. As Rafa's employee, Max earned $500,000 a year, living in a $350,000 house in Miami Lakes with a yacht, $30,000 in jewelry and $275,000 in cash stashed under his bed.In 1985, Mermelstein was arrested in California on federal cocaine charges. He became a government witness against the Medellin Cartel, filling in the blanks and gaps and finally allowing the feds to see the monster whole. "Max Mermelstein's position with the Medellin cartel was akin to Joe Valachi's with the Maifa," Guy Gugliotta and I wrote in our book on the cartel, Kings of Cocaine. "Like Valachi, whose dramatic testimony before the United States Senate in 1963 served as the first public unveiling of the Cosa Nostra, Mermelstein took the feds deeper than ever before into an uncharted areas of organized crime."
Max later told the feds about one trip he made to the Ochoas' 350,000-acre ranch in Colombia, which featured a landing strip long enough to accommodate commercial jets, a full-sized bull ring and a thirty-acre lake with a five-acre island for "lions and tigers." His importance to the war on drugs was still largely secret, and the government was slowly and carefully unveiling him as the chief witness against the cartel. He was still in the witness protection program when I interviewed him, so we never met face to face. He requested two things for the interview: a speaker phone, so he wouldn't have to hold a telephone to his ear for hours, and a Mont Blanc pen, a luxury item favored by drug kingpins. We got him the phone but not the pen.On the back of The Man Who Made It Snow, the book Max eventually wrote with help from Robin Moore and Richard Smitten, are the usual blurbs extolling the book's virtues. Most authors get blurbs from other authors. Max got blurbs from five prosecutors."In the United States, there is not a brighter or a better witness against the major drug traffickers than Max Mermelstein" wrote Richard Gregorie, the federal prosecutor in South Florida who indicted both Gen. Manuel Noriega and the Medellin Cartel. "There is also no witness so intricately and overwhelmingly involved in their story."

Paris DiMarco Moffett,San Francisco gangster and Eddy Rock member arrested in Novato last year has pleaded guilty to federal drug and weapons charges

San Francisco gangster and drug trafficker arrested in Novato last year has pleaded guilty to federal drug and weapons charges, authorities said Tuesday.
Paris DiMarco Moffett, 30, admitted possessing 183 grams of crack cocaine, or about 6.5 ounces, at the Hamilton-area apartment he shared with his girlfriend, Delicia Virginia Mitchell, prosecutors said. Moffett also pleaded guilty to possessing a loaded Colt .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol used in his drug trafficking.
Mitchell, 36, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute Ecstasy.
Authorities said Moffett is a member of the Eddy Rock gang, one of several street gangs accused of terrorizing the Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco. Last year, the city attorney issued an injunction barring the gangs from "safety zones" in the neighborhood.In November, police raided an apartment on Hathaway Drive in Novato where Moffett and Mitchell lived. Police found a large stash of narcotics and a .45-caliber Colt handgun at the apartment. Four children in the home - two boys, 15 and 11, and a pair of twin 5-month-old boys - were turned over to Child Protective Services.Marin County prosecutors initially charged Moffett with criminal street gang activity, possession of cocaine base for sale, possession of Ecstasy for sale, child endangerment, unlawful drug possession while armed with a firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon, and similar charges were filed against Mitchell. But the case was eventually turned over to the federal courts.
Moffett faces a minimum of 10 years in prison, and a maximum life term, when he is sentenced Dec. 10 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. He also could be fined up to $4 million.Mitchell is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 14. Under her plea agreement, she will receive probation, according to court documents

Giuseppe Baldinucci, 64, was arrested in New York City after Italian authorities informed Homeland Security that he was wanted in Italy

Citizen of Italy was returned to his homeland and turned over to Italian authorities on Wednesday by officers from the Philadelphia office of detention and removal after completing a 46-month federal prison sentence.
The case developed in April of 2005 when Giuseppe Baldinucci, 64, was arrested in New York City after Italian authorities informed Homeland Security that he was wanted in Italy and may have fled to the United States. Fingerprint comparisons confirmed that Baldinucci was the person identified in the Italian warrant and also confirmed he had previously been deported from the U.S.In October of 2005, Baldinucci was convicted in the United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, for the offense of Re-Entry of a Previously Deported Alien in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Sections 1326(a) and 1326(b)(2). He was sentenced to 46 months in prison. Baldinucci was previously removed in September 1989 after having served a prison sentence for Conspiracy to Distribute Narcotics.Baldinucci has an outstanding arrest warrant issued in July of 1996 by the Italian Judicial Authorities in Palermo, Italy for the offense of criminal conspiracy. His outstanding Italian arrest warrant stems from the assistance he rendered to the then fugitive Giovanni Brusca, a well-known member of the Corleone Mafia Family. Some of the crimes the Italians attributed to BRUSCA include the 1993 bombing of the Uffizi gallery in Florence, the strangling of an 11-year old boy, and the murder of the Italian Anti-Mafia magistrate Giovanni Falcone."Apprehending dangerous foreign fugitives hiding in the United States is a top priority of ICE and our international law enforcement partners, including the Italian authorities," said Thomas Decker, field office director for the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations in Florida. "ICE is committed to ensuring the integrity of the nation's immigration system and it is in the interest of national security and justice around the world to capture and return wanted fugitives to their native countries to face justice."
Last year the Philadelphia field office, which includes the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia, deported 5,599 illegal aliens, including 2,437 criminal aliens and so far this year, the Philadelphia field office has deported 4,030 illegal aliens including 1,973 criminal aliens.

Obviously, any witness you can eliminate is a good thing. says a veteran defense attorney who once represented mobsters

Robert Simels, 61, was arrested Tuesday on charges of witness tampering and obstruction of justice. He was released on $3.5 million bond.Robert Simels has represented the mobster immortalized in “Goodfellas,” a drug kingpin with ties to hip hop and other notorious clients in his long career.Investigators say a veteran defense attorney who once represented the mobster immortalized in "Goodfellas" has plotted to murder witnesses in another case.Now a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Brooklyn puts Simels in their company: It accuses him of plotting to silence prosecution witnesses against an alleged drug trafficker by, in his words, “eliminating” them.Simels, 61, was arrested Tuesday on charges of witness tampering and obstruction of justice and was released on $3.5 million bond. There was no immediate response to phone messages left for him on Thursday.
His attorney, Gerald Shargel, has called the allegations false.“Bob Simels is well-known as a tenacious, effective and highly capable defense lawyer and he was doing his work,” Shargel said.Simels represented Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, once the head of a murderous Queens drug gang, against allegations in 2005 that he funneled $1 million in drug proceeds into Murder Inc., then a chart-topping rap music label. McGriff eventually switched lawyers and was jailed for life last year after being convicted of paying $50,000 for the 2001 killings of an aspiring rapper and another man.According to his Web site, Simels has also represented former football star Marc Gastineau and Henry Hill, whose exploits were the basis of the 1990 Martin Scorsese mob film “Goodfellas.” The site also names Shaheed “Roger” Khan, the Guyanese businessman whose case has landed the lawyer in trouble.Khan was arrested and brought to the United States in 2006 on charges he ran a cocaine smuggling operation that was protected by a paramilitary organization in Guyana known as the Phantom Squad.Drug Enforcement Administration investigators allege that this May, with Khan awaiting trial in Brooklyn, a Phantom Squad member who was cooperating with them learned that Simels wanted to talk to him.The DEA says that during conversations over the summer, some secretly recorded, Simels asked the cooperator to help him locate potential government witnesses and pondered what to do when they were found. The attorney “discussed a range of options, from offering them money to murdering their family members,” the criminal complaint says.In one conversation recorded in May about bribing an unnamed witness, the cooperator suggested the witness “might suddenly get amnesia” if paid enough money.“That’s a terrible thing, but if it happens, it happens,” Simels responded, according to the complaint. Later in the same meeting, the lawyer remarked, “Obviously, any witness you can eliminate is a good thing.”In June, the complaint says, Simels gave the cooperator $1,000 for expenses in pursuing the same witness, but cautioned that Khan didn’t want the witness’s mother harmed.“He’d like as much pressure being put on as possible,” Simels allegedly said. “But he thinks if (the witness’s) mother gets killed … the government will go crazy.”

A criminal complaint accuses Simels of plotting to "eliminate" prosecution witnesses against an alleged drug trafficker.

His attorney, Gerald Shargel, called the allegations false.

"Bob Simels is well-known as a tenacious, effective and highly capable defense lawyer and he was doing his work," Shargel said Wednesday.

Drug Enforcement Administration investigators allege that in May, a cooperating member of a paramilitary organization in Guyana known as the Phantom Squad learned that Simels wanted to talk to him. Simels was representing a Guyanese businessman, Shaheed "Roger" Khan, who was charged with running a cocaine smuggling operation that was protected by the Phantom Squad.

The DEA says that during conversations over the summer, some secretly recorded, Simels asked the cooperator to help him locate potential government witnesses and pondered what to do when they were found. The attorney "discussed a range of options, from offering them money to murdering their family members," the criminal complaint says.

In one conversation recorded in May about bribing an unnamed witness, the cooperator suggested the witness "might suddenly get amnesia" if paid enough money.

"That's a terrible thing, but if it happens, it happens," Simels responded, according to the complaint. Later in the same meeting, the lawyer remarked, "Obviously, any witness you can eliminate is a good thing."

Simels is known for representing Henry Hill, whose exploits were the basis of the 1990 Martin Scorsese mob film "Goodfellas," and Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff, a gang leader accused of funneling drug money into Murder Inc., then a chart-topping rap music label.

Gotti Jr. misappropriated millions of dollars of the late John Gotti’s illicit stash

Mafia boss John Gotti went to his grave hating his oldest son, Junior, a mob snitch claims in secretly recorded conversations with close confidants of the Dapper Don.Lewis Kasman- known as Gotti’s “adopted son” - trashes John A. (Junior) Gotti on the tapes and says the mob prince was despised by his infamous dad.
“He died hating that kid, you know that,” Kasman told reputed Gambino consigliere Joseph (JoJo) Corozzo in an October 2005 conversation.Kasman, 51, is expected to be a key turncoat witness against Junior at his upcoming racketeering and murder trial in Tampa.He taped several conversations with high-ranking Gambino gangsters, transcripts of which were reviewed by the Daily News.The intimate glimpse into Gambino gossip and schemes is made all the more shocking by Kasman’s unique access to the crime family’s inner circle.Although not a made man, Kasman was so protected that “captains were barred from interfering with his activities without the permisson of the…boss, underboss or consigliere,” Assistant Florida U.S. Attorney Brian McCormick stated in court papers.Sources said Kasman was never close to Junior - and his venom flows throughout the transcripts.“Ya know he’s nothing like his father,” Kasman rants to reputed Gambino capo Daniel Marino in April 2006.“And ya know what I say it all the time, he hadda hate his father.“Because for him to act and behave the way he act … You robbed all the money … You disrespected your father. Spinning, he’s doing spins [in his grave].”Even Corozzo’s son, Joseph Jr., was more of a son to Gotti than his own, Kasman complains.He praises the younger Corozzo for feeding and massaging the cancer-stricken Mafia boss on his prison deathbed, while berating Gotti Jr. for stealing “every nickel that the father had” after his death in 2002.He says that John sr. “created a lot of this jealousy between me and John [Jr.].”The real reason for the anger, sources said, is that Kasman thought he was cheated out of money from his close “adopted” dad.Kasman believes Gotti Jr. misappropriated millions of dollars of the late John Gotti’s illicit stash that should have gone to the entire Gotti family and Kasman himself, sources said.The vitriol may shed more light on the complicated Gotti father-son relationship, but it’s not the most damaging part of the tapes for Junior.
A talk that occurred a month after the second of Gotti’s three mistrials in Manhattan Federal Court suggests Junior is lying when he claims he left the mob behind, the government believes.In one part, Marino says that Junior’s lawyer, Charles Carnesi, sent word “to us … that the kid was annoyed that nobody helped him.”
Three juries have believed Junior’s claim that he broke from the Gambinos many years ago to become a regular family man. But federal prosecutors are trying again, indicting him Aug. 5 on murder and drug charges traced to mob-related crimes in the 1980s and 1990s.The government is likely to use Marino and Kasman’s words to counter Junior’s story. “The conversation could be interpreted as showing his continued association with the Gambino Crime Family,” said a knowledgeable source.

Rogue FBI agent was responsible for the 1982 slaying of a Boston businessman, the victim's wife testified at the ex-agent's trial

rogue FBI agent was responsible for the 1982 slaying of a Boston businessman, the victim's wife testified at the ex-agent's trial Monday in Miami.Former agent John Connolly, already jailed in Florida on racketeering charges, faced the first day of a murder trial in which he is accused of tipping off gangsters that businessman John Callahan was going to expose a slaying they had committed, The Boston Globe reported. Callahan's widow, Mary Callahan, called Connolly a "Judas" because he allegedly warned the mobsters Callahan was about to go to the FBI to finger them in the slaying of a Tulsa man. John Callahan's bullet-riddled body was found in a parking lot at Miami International Airport, stuffed in the trunk of a Cadillac, the newspaper said. Also to testify against Connolly, 68, is Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, 74, a former Boston Mafia member and FBI informant serving a life sentence for 10 murders. Flemmi says he and James "Whitey" Bulger killed Callahan after receiving a tip from Connolly. Bulger, 79, is at large and the FBI is offering a $2 million reward for his capture, the Globe

Dr Attilio Manca was found dead in his flat in the central Italian town of Viterbo, it seemed an open and shut case.

Dr Attilio Manca was found dead in his flat in the central Italian town of Viterbo, it seemed an open and shut case. He appeared to have injected himself with a lethal cocktail of heroin and tranquillisers.But some claimed he was killed to cover the tracks of the then-fugitive mafia boss, and four years on, 10 people have been officially registered as suspects in a murder inquiry, and a police scientific expert has been asked to put names to the fingerprints discovered in Manca's home.
The reopening of the inquiry, reported yesterday by the newspaper La Stampa, represents a victory for Manca's parents and their campaign for further investigation of their son's death. "They were - and are - absolutely sure that their son was not a drug addict, and had no reason to commit suicide," their lawyer, Fabio Repici, said yesterday.Some of the circumstances surrounding Manca's death were puzzling at the outset. The caps on the syringes with which he had apparently injected himself had been replaced. "The doctor, moreover, was entirely left-handed," said Repici. "Yet, of the two injections marks found, one was on his left wrist and the other on his left forearm."It was not until long after his body was found, on the morning of February 13 2004, that his parents recalled another detail, innocuous in itself. The previous autumn, their son had rung them from the south of France to say he had flown there to take part in an operation.
Repici said a friend had pointed out that the timing of Manca's visit coincided exactly with that of Bernardo Provenzano who, in October 2003, was checked into a clinic near Marseille where he underwent an operation for the removal of a prostate tumour. Manca was a urologist. "Provenzano's tumour was removed by means of a keyhole surgery technique. Of that, there is documentary evidence," said Repici. "It was a technique which, at that time, in Italy, was used by very few urologists. One of them was Attilio Manca." He had assisted at the first such operation in Italy, in 2001.His parents and their lawyer believe the dead man's specialist abilities may well have been known to Cosa Nostra. Though he was practising in Viterbo, Manca came from Sicily, where his parents still live in a town whose local mafia has strong links to Provenzano's dominant faction.Provenzano, known as "the Tractor", was seized in a semi-derelict farm building in April 2006. He had been on the run from the authorities for 43 years.Police finally closed in on him after finding out about his operation on the Côte d'Azur. One of the people who supplied Provenzano with forged travel documents gave evidence against him.Repici said 19 sets of fingerprints were found in Manca's flat. Several belonged to the dead man or the guests at a dinner party he gave shortly before his death. His five guests were put on the list of suspects purely so their fingerprints could be taken and eliminated from the inquiry.But that left five more sets of prints that had not been identified, and five more suspects from the doctor's home town on Sicily where, Repici said, his parents had been threatened in an effort to get them to abandon their campaign

Massimo Pisnoli, 48, was found with a gunshot wound to his face and back last month in undergrowth near a railway station after going missing for ten

Massimo Pisnoli, 48, was found with a gunshot wound to his face and back last month in undergrowth near a railway station after going missing for ten days. The two men, aged 40 and 48, were held in dawn raids at addresses in Rome. Police also seized an arsenal of weapons as well as 230grammes of cocaine.They were held after an investigation led by anti-Mafia prosecutor Giancarlo Capaldo, who had also used undercover officers at Pisnoli's funeral to obtain information.A Rome police spokesman said: "Two men aged 40 and 48 have been arrested and are those responsible for the murder. It was a through investigation and concluded quickly."Both men are Italian and during the arrests weapons as well as 230 grammes of cocaine were also seized. Further details will be given at a news conference later."
Pisnoli was well known to police. Earlier this week they released footage of him carrying out an armed robbery on a bank in Rome just two weeks before he was found dead at Campoleone station on the outskirts of the city.The CCTV footage shows himgrabbing a customer and putting a knife to her throat as he demands money from cashiers before using her as a shield to get past armed guards at the door.Police believe two other men were involved in the raid as well as others across the city and the suburbs. Pisnoli was killed after failing to equally share the money, they believe.Besides being a World Cup winner, De Rossi is well known to Manchester United fans for scoring Roma's only goal when they lost 7-1 at Old Trafford in a Champions League quarter final in April 2007. He was praised by Sir Alex Ferguson, who was interested in buying him. At the time of Pisnoli's murder last month a police source said: "It was a classic execution: a bullet in the back and one to the mouth."He was virtually unrecognisable and his body was found with its arms up in the air. "From what we can gather it had been there at least a week and what with the hot weather it was in a pretty bad state. "He had convictions for robbery and theft and we know he moved in underworld circles.
"The area where he was found, south Lazio, is home to clans from the Neapolitan Camorra and the Calabrian N'drangheta."

Charlie Abutbul was badly wounded in a hail of bullets inside a Netanya eatery on Monday.

Charlie Abutbul was badly wounded in a hail of bullets inside a Netanya eatery on Monday. The slugs intended for Abutbul also struck three innocent bystanders - proving yet again that local tough guys show no compunction about harming innocent "civilians," dozens of whom have been killed or wounded. The most recent was Marguerita Lautin, shot down on the Bat Yam beach in a botched hit allegedly commissioned by crime family boss Itzik Abergil against his former soldier Rami Amira. Abergil was detained after Lautin's murder, but no firm connection between him and the attempt on Amira's life could be established. The police will simply have to pull out all the stops to take on the mob. Only relatively recently did authorities even acknowledge the existence of six Jewish, and three Arab, organized crime families. But soon after the police admitted the mob was real, it said the force was too strapped for cash to overcome the bad guys. That was the police's line after the Netanya hit as well. The cops argue that "enormous" financial outlays are needed to yield the kind of intelligence that would stand up in court without jeopardizing their informants. But we are not totally convinced that the problem is money. The good news is that police now have a special unit, Lahav 433, devoted to fighting organized crime. Law enforcement is also trying to create a witness protection program. But the fledgling Lahav 433 unit is not yet fully up to speed or able, apparently, to counter the intimidation of witnesses. Some of Israel's crime bosses are actually more scared of the FBI's long arm than of our local authorities. It was American law enforcement that finally got the goods on Ze'ev Rosenstein - although he was allowed to do his time here, a convenient location from which to oversee his empire. Just as Abergil was dodging responsibility for the Lautin slaying, Washington requested his extradition, and that of his brother Meir, for a host of serious charges including commissioning murder. Meir wept unabashedly in court on Monday, saying he was "afraid" of America, where he's already done time.
Israelis are grateful when the American cavalry comes to our rescue; but isn't it too bad that our own law enforcement people can't seem to get the job done? And, anyway, American justice can only help with those criminals who operate in the States. The families of some confirmed terrorists need to worry about whether authorities are going to demolish their homes. Families of major domestic criminals who have spread terror in our streets should have, at least, to live with the fear that their homes could also be confiscated. For that, Israel needs a RICO of its own - the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which allows for the confiscation of a criminal organization's legitimate business assets. Let's take that one step further and put the personal assets of organized crime figures at risk. The tax laws need to be applied vigorously. Al Capone was sent up the river 80 years ago not for all the murders he commissioned, but for tax evasion. A task force has been set up - on paper - to investigate Israeli gangsters whose lavish lifestyles show no visible means of support. This effort needs to be accelerated, urgently, even if it means hiring certified accountants who can also shoot straight a la America's IRS.

Emmanuel Ramirez, 25, managed a network of so-called "straw purchasers" who bought several Beretta 9mm handguns from sporting good stores

Fifteen city residents face federal weapons charges in what authorities are describing as one of the largest Valley gun trafficking investigations in years.
All stand accused of conspiring to illegally purchase more than 60 firearms that were smuggled into Mexico between July 2007 and January 2008, federal prosecutors said.According to a 16-count indictment unsealed Monday, Emmanuel Ramirez, 25, managed a network of so-called "straw purchasers" who bought several Beretta 9mm handguns from sporting good stores across the Rio Grande Valley.Ramirez allegedly paid for the weapons and later snuck them south of the border, where it is illegal to own or purchase guns. U.S. law prohibits gun buyers for purchasing a weapon for anyone other than themselves.Federal agents arrested Ramirez, his purported primary recruiter - Carlos Garcia, 21, and several other members of the alleged network over the last four days.Prosecutors allege Ramirez gave Garcia money and instructed him on which weapons to buy.Garcia, then, reportedly paid 13 Brownsville "straw purchasers" ranging in age from 19 to 26 to lie to weapons dealers and say they were buying the guns for their own personal use.The fraudulent purchases were made at three Academy Sports and Outdoors locations in McAllen and Brownsville but were later uncovered by agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement..Federal authorities have stepped up their efforts against such illegal purchasing in recent months, hoping to stem the tide of weapons moving into Mexico.Guns from the United States have been blamed for fueling ongoing violent attacks by the powerful Mexican drug cartels.
The number of criminal cases involving federal gun violations in South Texas are currently a 20-year high, according to records from the Syracuse University-based Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.Investigators classified Ramirez's case as unusual, however, because of the sheer number of co-defendants involved.
So far, six of the 13 "straw purchasers" have faced a federal magistrate judge on charges of conspiracy and making false statements on firearms records. Arrest warrants have been issued for remaining seven.If convicted, they could each face up to five years in prison for each count and $250,000 in fines.Ramirez and Garcia face additional counts of gun smuggling, punishable by up to 10 years in prison upon conviction.Ramirez's Houston-based attorney - Ira H. Chenkin - did not return calls for comment Monday. It remained unclear whether Garcia had retained an attorney as of Monday afternoon.

Leon Taylor killed himself after shooting his 82-year-old wife, Beatrice Taylor

Police say 82-year-old Leon Taylor killed himself after shooting his 82-year-old wife, Beatrice Taylor, on Saturday. Two newlywed octogenarians are dead in what Eureka police say appears to be a domestic violence dispute. Witnesses say they saw the recently married couple had been arguing in the hours leading up to the shooting. Andy Snow, one of the couple's neighbors, says he called police after he approached the Cadillac parked in the couple's carport and spoke briefly with a flush-faced Leon Taylor. Snow says the car was parked close to the wall so that Beatrice could not get out. Snow says shortly afterward he saw Taylor shoot his wife in the head and then turn the gun on himself. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

Jacoby Fields and Travis Harris charged with murder and first degree burglary.

Eighteen-year-old Jacoby Fields from Walterboro and 19-year old Travis Harris of Smoaks are now charged with murder and first degree burglary.After more than 5,000 hours and 300 leads, finally authorities believe they've got the ones behind the murder. It's an announcement that brings a little comfort to those struck with so much pain.Tabatha Compton describes the past month as a “living hell,” but seeing how serious everyone was about solving this case has helped ease some pain.
"They have spent endless hours away from their family and their loved ones to help bring justice to my family and myself and I am very grateful for all of it,” Compton said.Authorities are releasing little information about what led them to these two men, but the most important thing, they say, "Ladies and gentlemen, they got it right.” South Carolina Law Enforcement Division's Reggie Loyd says it's “good ole’ fashion policing” that got us to this point, and through those efforts in this case, more criminals are off the streets."There were literally numerous burglaries that were solved during the course of this investigation that are unrelated to this but because of the effort devoted, by all of these agencies, these arrests or charges have been brought,” Loyd said.But the group of investigators present Monday made up a only a fraction of a whole community that contributed.“I wanted to thank everyone including businesses that helped with anything, food, anything to myself, my family and this department....I'm very grateful,” Compton said.Compton's wife wouldn't say whether she would want the death penalty in this case but hearings start Tuesday morning for the two men and she says she won't miss a minute.

Ernie Del Pinto finally has a measure of confidence that the man accused of fatally shooting his son in the face will pay for his alleged crime.

For the first time since his son was gunned down in Thailand last January, Ernie Del Pinto finally has a measure of confidence that the man accused of fatally shooting his son in the face will pay for his alleged crime.An off-duty Thai police sergeant was arrested and charged with premeditated murder in the death of Leo Del Pinto, 25, and for injuring his friend, fellow Canadian Carly Reisig of Chilliwack, B.C. in the town of Pai.Del Pinto, his family and lawyer met for an hour with David Sproule, Canada's ambassador to Thailand in Calgary Monday."I think something came out of this. I'm happy," said Ernie Del Pinto who now expects justice will be done.
"I was (worried) because you'd have everybody say you're never going to get justice," he said. "I was worried about it and I think something will come out of this."The family was hesitant to discuss specifics but was assured that the Canadian government is fully involved in the case and would follow it through to the end.
"He said the police officer, who was originally reassigned, is now off duty and once the full investigation is concluded will go to trial.Del Pinto said for the first time in eight months he is confident that justice will be done.
"What I can tell you is the family is very pleased from the meeting. We have the personal assurance and the personal attendance of the Canadian government in relation to this matter and that's what we wanted," said family lawyer Adriano Iovinelli.
"We're very satisfied with what the family has done up to this point."
The mood is considerably lighter than earlier concerns expressed by the family that Ottawa was stalling in giving them information and that the case would not go to trial.Iovinelli said the investigation is being conducted by DSI, which he said is Thailand's "equivalent of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police" - the highest level of investigation in Thailand.He said once that is concluded there will be a recommendation on prosecution and then proceeding to trial.Iovinelli said the family received double good news about the officer charged in the shooting. He had originally be reassigned to a different district but that has apparently changed."We understand that he is now off duty and we have been assured that three different levels in Thailand have investigated this matter."The officer has said it was self-defence, but Del Pinto's father has said his son was shot at close range in the face and chest for defending Reisig and did nothing to deserve the attack.The Del Pinto family is now content to sit back and wait for the Thai justice system to run its course and Ernie Del Pinto said he intends to be there when the case goes to trial.
Iovinelli said the family is also hoping to meet with Thailand's ambassador to Canada to discuss the case.

Omid Tahvili, the convicted drug dealer who escaped from the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in November with the aid of a guard, was killed last week ?

Omid Tahvili, the convicted drug dealer who escaped from the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in November with the aid of a guard, was killed last week after he was shot five times in the head, chest, arm and legs. The tipster said he is storing the body in a fridge and that he would hold onto it until the RCMP offer him a suitable reward. "I can't keep the body around no more longer, because the body stinks right now," the caller told the North Shore News."If they don't make that deal with me, I'm just going to burn the body and get rid of it."He would not reveal how he came to be in possession of the corpse, or any information about who shot Tahvili.
Coquitlam RCMP Cpl. Scott Baker confirmed that the tipster had called him twice and offered to return the body in return for a large payment. Police are taking the call seriously, but Baker said there isn't any proof that Tahvili is either dead or alive. He said the caller refused to send RCMP pictures of the body, nor would he give his name or contact information.Although caller ID showed a Toronto number, Baker said that police have not been able to trace it, and they can't be sure that the tipster is actually in Ontario. The caller told the North Shore News that he was "somewhere back east."The caller accurately described Tahvili's tattoos, but police said those descriptions have been widely circulated in the public.
"He could very well know Tahvili, and Tahvili could be in on the whole thing," Baker said. "It sounds pretty hokey.... It sure is possible, but is it likely? I don't know."In August, Crown prosecutor Wendy Dawson revealed in court during the sentencing hearing of former jail guard Edwin Ticne, who helped Tahvili escape in return for $50,000, that the gangster had called Coquitlam RCMP to say he was in Toronto and wanted to make a deal for his return to B.C. Before being sentenced in absentia in January, Tahvili phoned his lawyer and promised to turn himself in if the judge let him off with time served. But that deal was refused, and Tahvili was ordered to serve six more years in jail for the kidnapping and torture of a Surrey man in 2005.The judge ruled that Tahvili was the mastermind behind the abduction plot, in which the victim was kidnapped at gunpoint, blindfolded, assaulted and taken to a secret location, which police believed was Tahvili's business, Platinum Touch in Vancouver. During that sentencing, the court heard that Tahvili and his business shipped at least $654,000 in drug money during a one-month period when they were under police surveillance

Domenyk Noonan,has been receiving treatment at Durham’s University Hospital for acute pancreatitis.

Domenyk Noonan, 42, is part of the notorious Manchester- based Noonan clan, who openly bragged “they had more guns than police”.The Frankland jail inmate has been receiving treatment at Durham’s University Hospital for acute pancreatitis.
At least two police officers brandishing machine guns have been on guard at all times, while dog sections have patrolled the grounds.The families of patients there have been stunned to discover they have been sharing hospital facilities with Noonan, jailed after a gun and five bullets were discovered in his car in Darlington, County Durham.Helping a friend to her chemotherapy appointment, mum-of- three Elizabeth Simmons, of Tunstall, Sunderland, said: “It’s frightening. You wouldn’t know he’s here, but people should be told.“If you’re talking about ‘Mr Big’ here they’ve got no chance of getting him out of Frankland, but the hospital is so much more open.“I’d be much happier if all these prisoners could be treated in prison, or even some kind of mobile hospital unit.Noonan, who has changed his surname to Lattlay-Fottfoy, was sentenced to nine and a half years in December 2005, for unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.
His family achieved notoriety in the early 1990s following a series of gangland killings in Manchester.Maureen Boddan, 63, of Kelloe, County Durham, who is being treated for glaucoma at the hospital, said: “I’m just not very happy knowing he’s in there. It makes you feel afraid. It’s the idea of his associates coming to try and get him out.”A spokesperson from Durham Constabulary confirmed: “Police are providing armed guard on a prison inmate, who is currently receiving hospital treatment in Durham.”Noonan’s hospital stay follows that of al Qaida mastermind Dhiren Barot, admitted to the RVI in Newcastle last July after boiling water and oil were thrown on his head by a fellow inmate at Frankland.In January, convicted killer Lee Nevins, 24, of Gateshead, sparked a nationwide manhunt after he gave police the slip at Sunderland Royal Hospital. He was on the run for six days.A Prison Service spokesperson said: “A prisoner at HMP Frankland is currently being treated at an outside hospital. We do not comment on individuals.”

Rene Enriquez,aka Boxer, killed for the gang and also ordered the deaths of men and women in prison and on the streets of Los Angeles

Rene Enriquez could order murders and conjure elaborate drug deals from an 8-by-10 cell in one of the country's highest-security prisons. He was a leader in the Mexican mafia, a violent group based in California prisons that exerts powerful influence on the streets. Then Enriquez defected. Now, he's a government witness living behind bars. Enriquez is serving two 20-to-life sentences for murder. We agreed not to reveal the location where Enriquez is being held. "It's kind of like we're buried. We're subterranean," Enriquez says.
Enriquez was transferred here several years ago from state prison after dropping out of the Mexican mafia, a powerful criminal gang active in more than a dozen states. In 2002, after having been a Mexican mafia member for over 17 years, he joined the ranks of convicted criminals who agree to provide information against their former peers. Cooperating with the government has its perks — like video games and a razor to shave with. But it means living a secret life.
"The only time that we have any environmental stimulation is when we go for a ride, like under the United States Attorney's Office, doctors' appointments, and then we go under the escort of the United States Marshal," he says.'He's Killed People'
For his security, Enriquez now depends on his former enemies in law enforcement, agents like Jeff Bosket."Almost everyone I work with always says you have to be careful. This guy is a huge mafioso," Bosket says. "He's killed people."
As Enriquez's chief handler, Bosket coordinates assignments with various law enforcement agencies, and he acts informally as a sort of guardian, counselor and therapist rolled into one."When I first learned about Rene, they said he had been passed through numerous law enforcement agencies. Numerous cops had worked with him, extracted information from him and basically done what Rene calls the 'hump and dump' — take the information and leave him and don't give him anything," Bosket says. Enriquez is using his insider's knowledge of the Mexican mafia to help several large investigations into surging gang violence in the L.A. area. He decodes gang members' conversations from surveillance tapes and identifies suspects in photographs.Convicted criminals like Enriquez who cooperate often do so in the hope that it will improve their chances for freedom. But it's a vexing path. For one, law enforcement agents and prosecutors are limited in what, if anything, they can offer in exchange for information. Richard Valdemar, a retired L.A. sheriff's sergeant who spent years trying to bust Enriquez, says cooperation requires a leap of faith for both sides."We have this strange and very strained negotiation about 'I have to trust you as a bad guy and you have to trust me as a law enforcement person,' which goes against both of our whole personas. But we have to establish some kind of trust there," Valdemar says.Trusting the cops is only one of Enriquez's challenges. As a gang turncoat, he struggles with the stigma of being branded a snitch. And he has to resist daily temptations like drugs, which seem to be everywhere. Enriquez has already had one major backslide. Soon after dropping out, he was back on heroin and dealing drugs with other gang dropouts in state prison. Enriquez eventually got clean. But, he says, he faces other issues: He struggles with his new status as a "regular Joe." Specifically, as a former mob leader, he finds it frustrating to stay silent when other prisoners get on his nerves."You want to react. It's almost a daily temptation to want to roar up or have it your way, or, you know, be that guy again," he says. "It's hard for me. Whereas before, these small slights, they would be dealt with immediately. Boom. Without hesitation. Now, an individual that is on the tier that is drunk and pops off at the mouth, I look at them [and] in the back of my head I think, 'I could hurt this guy.' " Working with the cops can bring benefits beyond a more comfortable cell. On occasion, agents pull favors for their informants. One morning Enriquez put on a suit and tie for the first time since his murder trial 18 years ago. Then, heavily armed U.S. Marshals put cuffs and chains on Enriquez and drove him to a federal building.Enriquez was getting married to an old friend. He reconnected with her after his transfer to the L.A. jail.
Marrying the two was Father Gregory Boyle. Boyle is a prominent Catholic priest in Los Angeles. Years ago, Enriquez tried to con Boyle. Now the two talk about the power of redemption through good works."I believe so strongly in the sense of somebody redeeming themselves," Boyle says. Enriquez's wife asked that we not use her name out of safety concerns. But she told us she believes her husband has changed and expects to share a life with him outside prison. They see each other several times a week, but they aren't allowed conjugal visits.Enriquez credits his long talks with his wife for changing the way he sees things.
Three years after he started working for the government, Enriquez finally faced the challenge every gang witness dreads: testifying in open court. The case was a large federal trial of Mexican mafia associates in San Diego. Detective Bosket says Enriquez entered the courtroom wearing a prison jumpsuit, but he carried himself like a business executive."And when Rene took the stand and talked about what the Mexican mafia does and what their abilities are, the jury went to the prosecution and judge with fears of retaliation. They were terrified of the abilities and how powerful the Mexican mafia really is," he says.Bosket says the jurors weren't afraid of Enriquez, but they were disturbed by the brutal world he described. All seven defendants were found guilty. They were sentenced earlier this year to life terms in federal prison.
Enriquez says his work against the Mexican mafia has damaged the group, though not fatally. A host of law enforcement officers say Enriquez should be rewarded for his efforts. Valdemar, the retired sheriff's sergeant, is one of Enriquez's supporters.
"When he became disillusioned with that organization, we [were] obliged to do everything we can to help him come out of that. That can only help us in society in general. And he shouldn't be punished for that. He should be rewarded for that," Valdemar says.But should that reward be freedom? Frank Johnson, who prosecuted Enriquez for murder years ago, isn't sure. He's now a judge. Johnson still remembers how the grandfather of one of Enríquez's murder victims came to court every day."I don't know if you can ever earn your way back from a double murder. And those are the only two murders I know about," Johnson says. "I just don't know if you can ever climb out of that hole. And I don't know how you test someone's sincerity when they come back from such a bad place."Every man is more than the worst thing he's ever done, Enriquez says."There has to be something more than the worst thing you've ever done; that doesn't define every person," he says. "I think really I'm a man in his nascency. I'm learning how to become a man again, because I've never really learned that aspect of life. I've always been incarcerated." From his jail cell, Enriquez engages in an almost daily mental exercise. He weighs his past deeds — his murders, assaults and drug dealing — against his prospects for the future. He says his work for the government has boosted his hopes. But he concedes his chances for release are slim.
He points to a file full of laudatory documents. The praise comes from the highest levels of the Department of Corrections and from law enforcement agencies.
"But this is one little file. Consider the sheer volume of documents that are adverse. Consider my whole life in the Mexican mafia. This only tips the scale a little bit," he says. "The weight of my other file, my criminal file, is so huge that this is nothing here. This is nothing. These are just pages."
Enriquez is still cooperating with several law enforcement agencies from a secret location in southern California.

Rene Enriquez,aka Boxer, who once killed for the gang and also ordered the deaths of men and women in prison and on the streets of Los Angeles, ended up opening his life to the police and sharing many of the organization's secrets. When he decided to defect in 2002, Enriquez became the highest-level Mexican mafia leader to work with the cops. His most prominent tattoo is a black hand on his chest, a symbol of the Mexican mafia. "We call it the black hand of death," he says.Enriquez says he looks like a typical gang member, though he adds he does not believe he is a typical gang member. "I believe I'm a cut above the rest. As a mafioso, you have to be an elitist. You have an elitist, arrogant mentality," he says. "That's how you carry yourself in the Mexican mafia. That's how you project yourself."Enriquez has been involved in organized crime for 20 years and was a Mexican mafia member for over 17years. Enriquez is currently behind bars, serving two life sentences for murder. And California prisons are where Enriquez fought his way to the top of the Mexican mafia, a group that rallies Latino gang members from the southern part of the state.
But in 2002, he had a change of heart: Enriquez quit the Mexican mafia and agreed to cooperate with authorities. He told his story to prison investigators in videotaped interviews."For the first time, we had a Mexican mafia member defect that was really able to lay out for us how the organization works, the organizational structure," says Robert Marquez, a special agent with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Enriquez's information was a bonanza. But what really intrigued investigators was his unusual profile. Enriquez grew up in a middle-class home in places like Thousand Oaks and Sunset Hills in California. He showed early promise in school. But instead of following his father into business, Enriquez channeled his ambitions into the local street gang."And once we got into the gangs, we understood that the homeboys that got out of prison were well respected. You go there, and you learn prison," Enriquez says. "We wanted to get to prison somehow. And we were destined to get there." While serving time for armed robbery, Enriquez started carrying out assaults for Mexican mafia leaders in San Quentin and Folsom prisons. The mafia had deep roots in the California prison system, having been formed there in the 1950s. Enriquez learned the art of making homemade knives and hiding them in his rectum. He carried out assaults for the Mexican mafia on other inmates. Then, after he was paroled, Enriquez used his connection with Mexican mafia leaders in prison to extort drug dealers on the streets, where the cocaine and crack trade was booming.Chris Blatchford, a Los Angeles television reporter who has written a book about Enriquez, says the former Mexican mafia leader was more ruthless than other crooks."He was greedier than they were and he was smarter than they were and he really lived off the booty he took from crooks," Blatchford says.When a drug dealer refused to pay up, Enriquez retaliated. He was sentenced to two life terms for killing the man, and in 1993, the state sent him to Pelican Bay State Prison on California's remote north coast. Because he was a prison gang member, Enriquez was locked in a windowless isolation cell in the Security Housing Unit, or SHU. There inmates spend 24 hours a day alone without seeing the outside world, except on television.Many years later, Enriquez started capturing his life story on audiotapes he recorded off the cuff for family and friends. He says he got the idea from a movie. "What impacts me immediately as soon as I walk in, is the smell. I just stepped outside from the bus and you smell the pines, the redwoods, the forest … these earthy, loamy smells. But as soon as you step into the SHU, it hits you like a wave. It's the smell of despair, depression, desperation. This is a place where people come to die."Pelican Bay was designed to break the gangs. But locked down in isolation, Enriquez and his cohort remained defiant. They concocted simple but effective communication networks. They passed messages through visitors and legal mail — mail that guards aren't allowed to read. They taught themselves exotic dialects and American Sign Language to fool prison staff. And they thrived in a culture of impunity. A secret to Enriquez's success was his transforming punishing isolation into a sort of sanctuary. Rival gangs couldn't get to him, and most cops and prosecutors thought their job was already done. After all, Enriquez was serving two life sentences. The prison couldn't do much more to punish him. But lifers have time to think and scheme. Enriquez remembers participating in something called "the thousand concepts" at Pelican Bay. "We'd spin off a thousand ideas. And if only one of them was profitable, we were succeeding. So we'd do this every day up in Pelican Bay, a thousand miles from our base of power, spinning off ideas that paid money," he says.Marquez, who was Pelican Bay's chief gang investigator, says Enriquez "had a level of sophistication in conducting his business that it was almost impossible to pinpoint and nail down exactly, everything that he was doing," Enriquez treated the street drug dealers like owners of a fast-food franchise. They could use the Mexican mafia name in return for part of their profits, and they were intimidated into paying. "A street gang southern Hispanic, or a sureno, knows that if he's engaged in a criminal activity on the streets, at some point he's going to go to jail, or going to go to prison," Marquez says. "Because the Mexican mafia has such influence within the prisons and the jails, that street gang member knows, 'If I don't do what I'm told to do on the streets, that when I hit the jail, or when I hit the prisons, there are those who are so loyal to the Mexican mafia that they're going to assault me.' " Perhaps Enriquez's greatest achievement was in helping extend the Mexican mafia's brand to dozens of L.A. street gangs. And he did this through an elaborate subterfugeIn the mid-1990s, the group put out calls to stop drive-by shootings among L.A. Latinos. But Enriquez says the aim wasn't peace. "Our true motivation for stopping the drive-bys was to infiltrate the street gangs and place representatives in each gang, representatives which then, in turn, tax illicit activities in the areas," he says.He says the Mexican mafia wanted to channel the random shootings into a form of violence it could control, for profit."And we already had it planned out that California would be carved up … into slices, with each member receiving an organizational turf," he says.The Mexican mafia's campaign against drive-by shootings had another benefit: good PR. "They saw that as a way into being more respectable, in the eyes of sympathetic do-gooders, city leaders, church leaders," author Blatchford says. And for the most part, Enriquez says, it worked. "Tens of thousands of gang members adhered to what we said. Us. High school dropouts," he says. "But we had such authority behind who we were, they listened."It was then, he says, they realized the true potential of the Mexican mafia: Astronomical amounts of money could be made without ever having to touch drugs or do anything again themselves."We could do all this; we could become a true powerhouse, because of the finances generated by taxation: taxation, extortion, protection," Enriquez says.
Drug profits flowed to prison. Drug dealers on the street sent checks and money orders to gang leaders behind bars, under the noses of California prison staff. Enriquez and his associates socked away tens of thousands of dollars. He invested in bank CDs and government bonds. The accounts were only frozen after he defected.
But success fueled greed and paranoia. Violent feuds erupted among Mexican mafia members. Some started plotting to kill the families of rivals in the gang. "This arbitrary targeting of families — because I am your adversary — takes it to a whole different realm of violence. This was not part of the bargain. This is not the Mexican mafia that I joined," he says.Enriquez grew disillusioned. And he was being ground down — by a heroin addiction and prison isolation. "I remember the first time I had an anxiety attack. I felt like I was going to die, impending doom," he says. "That was the first sign I had that something was going wrong with me, that it was time for me to get out of this." Enriquez was a mobster facing a midlife crisis."In Rene's case, he had accomplished everything that he wanted to accomplish as far as being a Mexican mafia member. However, I think in his case, he finally saw that, 'Hey, you know what? I've reached the pinnacle of everything that I'm doing here, and yet at the same time, I'm still locked up. And is this the rest of my life? Being in this concrete cell, this concrete unit, and is this how I'm going to end my life?' " Marquez says. Enriquez says it's called "mob fatigue." "Everybody goes through it," he says.In 2002, Enriquez left the Mexican mafia. His defection put him on the gang's hit list, but it also opened a new universe.After leaving the prison isolation unit, Enriquez saw the night sky — the moon and stars — for the first time in 10 years.

Nicholas "The Knife" has been jailed over a violent brawl during which Hell's Angels defector Christopher Wayne Hudson was shot twice

South Australian bikies have been jailed over a violent brawl during which Hell's Angels defector Christopher Wayne Hudson was shot twice and others stabbed.
Senior Finks MC member Shane Scott Bowden, 36, yesterday was sentenced in the Brisbane District Court to six-and-a-half-years' jail by a judge who declared him a serious violent offender. His co-accused, Nicholas "The Knife" John Forbes, 39, received an 18-month sentence for assault occasioning bodily harm whilst armed.
Their trial heard Forbes attacked Hudson, a former Finks member, in front of 1800 people at a kickboxing tournament in March, 2006, before Bowden shot Hudson in the face and back.Graphic video footage played to the court showed the tournament at the Pines Resort, on the Gold Coast, descended into chaos as patrons threw punches, chairs and glasses at each other.Forbes had travelled with seven other Finks to Queensland as part of a national manhunt for Hudson after he defected to the Hells Angels and tried to recruit other Finks members.The Finks were dispatched from Adelaide with the instructions to remove a full-size tattoo of the club's colours from Hudson's back with acid and paint scrapers.Among them was Benjamin Young, 26, who was executed outside his Payneham house two weeks ago when he was shot twice in the back with a large-calibre, semi-automatic pistol.
The Victorian Supreme Court this week heard Hudson was on the run from the Finks when he opened fire with a pistol in Melbourne's central business district, killing a lawyer and seriously wounding a German backpacker and his model girlfriend.
Hudson's lawyer said Hudson was high on methampethamine and alcohol and later tried to take his own life when he realised the enormity of what he had done.The shoot-out came days after Hudson fired shots from the pistol as he drove over a Melbourne bridge at high speed with Collingwood player Alan Didak, who was suspended last month for his involvement in a drink-driving car accident with star player Heath Shaw.Hudson faces a possible life in jail after pleading guilty to one count of murder, two of attempted murder and one of intentionally causing serious injury.

gambling executive John Callahan's bullet-riddled body was discovered in the trunk of his Cadillac at Miami's airport.

John J. Connolly was hundreds of miles away in 1982 when gambling executive John Callahan's bullet-riddled body was discovered in the trunk of his Cadillac at Miami's airport.The admitted shooter says he never met Connolly, the disgraced ex-FBI man at the heart of the agency's sordid dealings with Boston's Winter Hill Gang.
Yet Connolly will stand trial on murder and conspiracy charges this month as if he had pulled the trigger himself, because prosecutors say he secretly gave information that was crucial in setting up the hit. Jury selection is to begin Monday in a trial that figures to rehash some of the ugliest episodes in the Boston FBI's handling of the gang, once led by James "Whitey" Bulger and convicted killer Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi.For years, both were top FBI informants on rival Italian mobsters. Connolly was their handler -- and Connolly made sure they were shielded from prosecution for murder and many other crimes, a service for which he was eventually sent to federal prison on a racketeering conviction.A congressional investigation concluded in 2003 that the FBI's relationship with Bulger and his cohorts "must be considered one of the greatest failures in the history of federal law enforcement." The scandal spawned several books and was the template for the 2006 Martin Scorcese film "The Departed," with Matt Damon playing a crooked Connolly-like law enforcement officer and Jack Nicholson as the Bulger-esque Irish-American mobster.And it led former Attorney General Janet Reno in 2001 -- one of her last acts in office -- to install reforms on FBI use of criminals as informants, including better monitoring and accountability.The Callahan slaying is part of that history, detailed in numerous court documents, interviews and investigative reports.
Callahan was president of World Jai-Alai, a Miami fronton, or facility, for the sport in which gamblers bet on players who sling a small ball against a wall using wicker baskets. World Jai-Alai was purchased in the late 1970s by Roger Wheeler, a businessman from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who liked the fact that former Boston FBI agent Paul Rico was part of the security team.Soon, however, Wheeler suspected that Callahan was skimming profits from World Jai-Alai for the Winter Hill Gang. He fired Callahan and ordered an audit.On May 27, 1981, Wheeler was shot between the eyes at a Tulsa country club by hit man John V. Martorano, who has admitted in court to 20 murders.Callahan was targeted next because Bulger and Flemmi feared he would finger them for Wheeler's killing. Martorano pleaded guilty in 2001 to shooting Callahan and, with the help of an associate, stuffing his body into the trunk of Callahan's silver Cadillac.Authorities found the car at Miami International Airport, with a dime placed on Callahan's body as a warning against potential informants not to "drop a dime" or rat out associates.
Rico, Connolly's former FBI colleague, was eventually charged in Wheeler's murder, but he died in 2004 before going to trial. A little over a year later, Connolly was indicted by a Miami-Dade County grand jury in Callahan's killing. A conviction means a life prison sentence.Connolly, 68, is already serving a 10-year federal prison stretch for racketeering and other charges from his associations with Bulger and his gang, including tipping his former informant off about an impending 1995 indictment.
Bulger -- the brother of William Bulger, the former state Senate president who resigned as president of the University of Massachusetts in 2003 -- fled before he could be arrested and remains a fugitive, a fixture on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list.The FBI has checked out hundreds of tips regarding his whereabouts, including Spain, Italy, Portugal, Mexico, Great Britain and Germany. Last week, the agency marked his 79th birthday by doubling the reward for a tip leading to his capture to $2 million.The federal jury that convicted Connolly in 2002 rejected evidence of his involvement in the Callahan killing, although the charge then was obstruction of justice. And Connolly's lawyer, Manuel Casabielle, said little new has surfaced in the years since."The reason you haven't seen much connecting John to the Callahan murder is because there isn't much. It isn't there," Casabielle said. "Most of what they have comes from two people who have admitted at least 40 murders between them."
But prosecutor Michael Von Zamft said the state is confident in its case, even with key witnesses of questionable repute."I've tried lots of cases where jurors have not liked some witnesses personally. But that does not make them not believable," he said.Martorano, the self-described hit man, is among the star witnesses, along with Flemmi and other Winter Hill Gang figures. The gist of Martorano's testimony, according to court documents, will be that it was Bulger who told him that Connolly was involved setting up the Callahan slaying.Martorano served 12 years in prison for murder and dozens of other crimes under a plea agreement requiring him to testify in numerous cases, including Connolly's.During his FBI career, Connolly won numerous commendations and awards and is credited with making key arrests of Italian Mafia chieftains in Boston. His supporters have unearthed evidence indicating that senior Justice Department and FBI officials tolerated the criminal exploits of Bulger and Flemmi because of their value as mob informants.
Connolly's former Boston attorney, Edward Lonergan, has known Connolly since 1961 and called him "the strongest man I know."
"He was and is a credit to the FBI at its best. But the FBI is not always at its best," Lonergan said. "I am now convinced that he is a most unfortunate victim of a human and flawed system."


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