Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Fat Rat: George Anastasia Looks Back At The Life Of Criminal Ron Previte


Veteran organized crime reporter and author George Anastasia looks back at the life of criminal Ron Previte for jerseymanmagazine.com.

They called him the Fat Rat, but he didn’t really care.

Ron Previte always knew who he was and what he had done. And he was okay with that, which made him unique in the underworld and immune to the slurs and epithets other wiseguys threw at him.

For him, it was a game and he always thought he knew how to play it better than they did.

It wasn’t about right or wrong, about morals or ethics. When it came to crime, he was totally amoral. He would smile and say he was a “general practitioner.” He did it all.

And becoming an informant, first for the New Jersey State Police, and then for the FBI, was part of his practice.

Previte died two months ago. He had been sick for over a year, battling various ailments that eventually led to a fatal heart attack. He was 73.

“What would you have bet that it would have been a heart attack that took him out?” an FBI agent asked at Previte’s memorial service. A dozen other law enforcement officials standing in the back of the funeral parlor down in Hammonton, NJ, that night nodded and smiled.

Nobody figured he would die of natural causes.

Ronnie Previte lived life on the edge and most people figured that he would die out there taking another chance, trying to make one more score.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:



You can also read my Philadelphia Inquirer review of George Anastasia’s book on Ron Previte, The Last Gangster, below:


   

Friday, October 20, 2017

Justice Department Announces First Ever Indictments Against Designated Chinese Manufacturers Of Deadly Fentanyl And Other Opiate Substances



The Drug Enforcement Administration released the below information:

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that federal grand juries in the Southern District of Mississippi and the District of North Dakota returned indictments, unsealed yesterday, against two Chinese nationals and their North American based traffickers and distributors for separate conspiracies to distribute large quantities of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues and other opiate substances in the United States.  

The Chinese nationals are the first manufacturers and distributors of fentanyl and other opiate substances to be designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs). CPOT designations are those who have “command and control” elements of the most prolific international drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.

On Sept. 7, Xiaobing Yan, 40, of China, was indicted in the Southern District of Mississippi on two counts of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute multiple controlled substances, including fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, and seven counts of manufacturing and distributing the drugs in specific instances.  

Yan, a distributor of a multitude of illegal drugs, used different names and company identities over a period of at least six years and operated websites selling acetyl fentanyl and other deadly fentanyl analogues directly to U.S. customers in multiple cities across the country.  Yan also operated at least two chemical plants in China that were capable of producing ton quantities of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues.  Yan monitored legislation and law enforcement activities in the United States and China, modifying the chemical structure of the fentanyl analogues he produced to evade prosecution in the United States. 

Over the course of the investigation, federal agents identified more than 100 distributors of synthetic opioids involved with Yan’s manufacturing and distribution networks.  Federal investigations of the distributors are ongoing in 10 judicial districts, and investigators have traced illegal proceeds of the distribution network.  In addition, law enforcement agents intercepted packages mailed from Yan’s Internet pharmaceutical companies, seizing multiple kilograms of suspected acetyl fentanyl, potentially enough for thousands of lethal doses.

On Sept. 20, Jian Zhang, 38, of China, five Canadian citizens, two residents of Florida, and a resident of New Jersey were indicted in the District of North Dakota for conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and fentanyl analogues in the United States, conspiracy to import the drugs from Canada and China, a money laundering conspiracy, an international money laundering conspiracy, and operation of a continuing criminal enterprise.  Zhang ran an organization that manufactured fentanyl in at least four known labs in China and advertised and sold fentanyl to U.S. customers over the Internet.  Zhang’s organization would send orders of fentanyl or other illicit drugs, or pill presses, stamps, or dies used to shape fentanyl into pills, to customers in the United States through the mail or international parcel delivery services.  Federal law enforcement agents determined that Zhang sent many thousands of these packages since January of 2013.

On Oct. 11, Elizabeth Ton, 26, and Anthony Gomes, 33, both of Davie, Florida were arrested. On Oct. 12, Darius Ghahary, 48, of Ramsey, New Jersey was arrested. Ton, Gomes, and Ghahary are charged with drug trafficking conspiracy in the Zhang indictment.

The investigations of Yan and Zhang revealed a new and disturbing facet of the opioid crisis in America:  fentanyl and fentanyl analogues are coming into the United States in numerous ways, including highly pure shipments of fentanyl from factories in China directly to U.S. customers who purchase it on the Internet.  Unwary or inexperienced users often have no idea that they are ingesting fentanyl until it is too late.  The Centers for Disease Control estimates that over 20,000 Americans were killed by fentanyl and fentanyl analogues in 2016, and the number is rising at an exponential rate.

Zhang was charged with conduct resulting in the deaths of four individuals in North Carolina, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Oregon in 2014 and 2015 and the serious bodily injuries related to five additional individuals.

These recent law enforcement efforts to keep fentanyl and fentanyl analogues from entering the United States were announced by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein; Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Acting Deputy Director Peter T. Edge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Assistant Commissioner Joanne Crampton of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

“Zhang and Yan are the first Chinese nationals designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs),” said Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.  “CPOTs are among the most significant drug trafficking threats in the world. The defendants allegedly shipped massive quantities of deadly fentanyl and other synthetic opioids to communities throughout the United States, mostly purchased on the Internet and sent through the mail.  The chemicals allegedly killed and injured people in several states, and surely caused misery to many thousands of people.  Under the leadership of President Trump and Attorney General Sessions, we are taking back our communities by pursuing suppliers of deadly drugs wherever they are located.”

“Xiaobing Yan, Jian Zhang and their respective associates represent one of the most significant drug threats facing the country – overseas organized crime groups capable of producing nearly any synthetic drug imaginable, including fentanyl, and who attempt to hide their tracks with web-based sales, international shipments and cryptocurrency transactions,” said DEA Acting Administrator Patterson.  “At a time when overdose deaths are at catastrophic levels, one of DEA’s top priorities is the pursuit of criminal organizations distributing their poison to American neighborhoods. These indictments are a first step; our investigators remain relentless in their pursuit to dismantle these organizations and bring those responsible to justice. DEA, along with our global network of law enforcement partners, will go after these types of criminals wherever they operate.”

“This case began when local police officers responded to what has become an all-too familiar tragedy in the United States: the heroin and fentanyl overdose of two young adults, one who survived and another who did not,” said ICE Acting Deputy Director Edge. “Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Drug trafficking organizations that deal in such a deadly game will have to face the combined resources of federal law enforcement agencies and our international partners. ICE Homeland Security Investigations is committed to helping combat this new and growing epidemic.”

“We live in an increasingly global and interconnected world – crime has no borders,” said Assistant Commissioner Crampton. “Law enforcement must respond accordingly by working beyond our borders together to detect and disrupt criminal activity. By fostering a solid integrated and coordinated law enforcement approach, we will continue to disrupt international drug trafficking networks.”

The cases against Yan and Zhang are being investigated by the DEA, ICE Homeland Security Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the RCMP.  Valuable investigative assistance has also been provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Ministry of Public Security of China.  The case against Yan is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Meynardie in the Southern District of Mississippi.  The case against Zhang is being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Chris Myers and Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Kerin in the District of North Dakota, along with Trial Attorney Adrienne Rose of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section.  Substantial prosecutorial assistance has been provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Oregon and the Quebec office of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.

Both of the indictments announced today are the result of coordinated, multi-agency, multi-national investigations conducted by agents and investigators of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), and were further supported with national and international coordination led by the multi-agency Special Operations Division (SOD).  The OCDETF Program is a partnership between federal, state, local, and international law enforcement agencies. The OCDETF mission is to target the most serious transnational organized crime threats facing the United States, including drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering.  Prior to the announcement of these indictments, Jian Zhang and Xiaobing Yan were designated as OCDETF Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs), and are considered by the United States as some of the most significant drug trafficking threats in the world.

If convicted, Yan faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine, and three years of supervised release. Zhang faces up to life in prison and $12.5 million in fines. Any sentences will be determined at the discretion of the district courts after considering any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Twenty-one individuals in total have been indicted on federal drug charges in both North Dakota and Oregon as part of the investigation. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Truth About The Vietnam War


Bruce Herschensohn offers a concise history of the Vietnam War and the aftermath in a six-minute video.

You can watch the video via the below link:


And /or you can read transcript below:

Decades back, in late 1972, South Vietnam and the United States were winning the Vietnam War decisively by every conceivable measure. That's not just my view. That was the view of our enemy, the North Vietnamese government officials.  Victory was apparent when President Nixon ordered the U.S. Air Force to bomb industrial and military targets in Hanoi, North Viet Nam's capital city, and in Haiphong, its major port city, and we would stop the bombing if the North Vietnamese would attend the Paris Peace Talks that they had left earlier. The North Vietnamese did go back to the Paris Peace talks, and we did stop the bombing as promised.

On January the 23rd, 1973, President Nixon gave a speech to the nation on primetime television announcing that the Paris Peace Accords had been initialed by the United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, the Viet Cong, and the Accords would be signed on the 27th. What the United States and South Vietnam received in those accords was victory.  At the White House, it was called "VV Day," "Victory in Vietnam Day."

The U.S. backed up that victory with a simple pledge within the Paris Peace Accords saying: should the South require any military hardware to defend itself against any North Vietnam aggression we would provide replacement aid to the South on a piece-by-piece, one-to-one replacement, meaning a bullet for a bullet; a helicopter for a helicopter, for all things lost -- replacement.  The advance of communist tyranny had been halted by those accords.
 
Then it all came apart.  And It happened this way: In August of the following year, 1974, President Nixon resigned his office as a result of what became known as "Watergate." Three months after his resignation came the November congressional elections and within them the Democrats won a landslide victory for the new Congress and many of the members used their new majority to de-fund the military aid the U.S. had promised, piece for piece, breaking the commitment that we made to the South Vietnamese in Paris to provide whatever military hardware the South Vietnamese needed in case of aggression from the North. Put simply and accurately, a majority of Democrats of the 94th Congress did not keep the word of the United States.

On April the 10th of 1975, President Gerald Ford appealed directly to those members of the congress in an evening Joint Session, televised to the nation.  In that speech he literally begged the Congress to keep the word of the United States.  But as President Ford delivered his speech, many of the members of the Congress walked out of the chamber. Many of them had an investment in America's failure in Vietnam. They had participated in demonstrations against the war for many years.  They wouldn't give the aid.

On April the 30th South Vietnam surrendered and Re-education Camps were constructed, and the phenomenon of the Boat People began.  If the South Vietnamese had received the arms that the United States promised them would the result have been different? It already had been different. The North Vietnamese leaders admitted that they were testing the new President, Gerald Ford, and they took one village after another, then cities, then provinces and our only response was to go back on our word. The U.S. did not re-supply the South Vietnamese as we had promised. It was then that the North Vietnamese knew they were on the road to South Vietnam's capital city, Saigon, that would soon be renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

Former Arkansas Senator William Fulbright, who had been the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee made a public statement about the surrender of South Vietnam.  He said this, "I am no more distressed than I would be about Arkansas losing a football game to Texas."  The U.S. knew that North Vietnam would violate the accords and so we planned for it. What we did not know was that our own Congress would violate the accords. And violate them, of all things, on behalf of the North Vietnamese. That's what happened.

I'm Bruce Herschensohn.


You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on the Vietnam War and the lessons learned for Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terrorism via the below link:




   

Attorney General Applauds FBI's Massive Sex Trafficking Crackdown


The U.S Justice Department released the below information:

On Oct. 18, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), announced that 84 minors were recovered and 120 traffickers were arrested as part of Operation Cross Country XI, a nationwide effort focusing on underage human trafficking that ran from Oct. 12 to 15. 

The Attorney General made the following statement on this crackdown:

“Every American has the right to be safe from violence and exploitation, and it is the mission of this Department to help secure that right.  Today we take the next step toward that mission with the arrest of more than 120 alleged sex traffickers and the recovery of more than 80 trafficking survivors.

“I want to thank and commend the dedicated men and women of the FBI, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and our local, state and international law enforcement partners who made these arrests and rescues possible.  They have delivered results that make this country safer and show clearly that collaboration makes us more effective in combating child exploitation.

“The Justice Department will continue to pursue our mission and, to that end, we will remain tireless in our efforts to rescue victims and put those who victimize children behind bars.”
  
From the FBI Release:

This is the 11th iteration of the FBI-led Operation Cross Country (OCC), which took place this year in 55 FBI field offices and involved 78 state and local task forces, consisting of hundreds of law enforcement partners. This year’s coordinated operations took place with several international partners, including Canada (Operation Northern Spotlight), the United Kingdom (Aident 8), Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines.

“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm.  Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested—and the number of children recovered—reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “This operation isn't just about taking traffickers off the street. It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse."

As part of Operation Cross Country XI, FBI agents and task force officers staged operations in hotels, casinos, and truck stops, as well as on street corners and Internet websites. The youngest victim recovered during this year’s operation was 3 months old, and the average age of victims recovered during the operation was 15 years old. Minors recovered during Cross Country Operations are offered assistance from state protective services and the FBI’s Victim Services Division. Depending on the level of need, victims are offered medical and mental health counseling, as well as a number of other services.

“Child sex trafficking is happening in every community across America, and at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we’re working to combat this problem every day,” said NCMEC President and CEO John Clark. “We’re proud to work with the FBI on Operation Cross Country to help find and recover child victims. We hope OCC generates more awareness about this crisis impacting our nation’s children.”

Operation Cross Country XI is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which began in 2003 and has yielded more than 6,500 child identifications and locations. For additional information on Operation Cross Country XI and the Innocence Lost initiative, please visit www.fbi.gov.

Examples of stories from various cities that took part in Operation Cross Country XI:

On October 13th, FBI Denver recovered two minor girls—one 3-month-old and one 5-year-old. The subject, a friend of the children's family, offered an undercover officer access to the two children for sexual purposes in exchange for $600. The FBI is working with Child Protective Services to conduct a forensic interview and secure safe placement of the children. The subject was placed under arrest.

Also on October 13th, a 16-year old female victim was recovered by FBI El Paso, after an undercover agent called an online advertisement for entertainment. Shortly thereafter, the agent met with a 21-year-old female, who offered a fee of $200 to engage in sexual intercourse with her and another female, the 16-year-old victim. Further investigations revealed that a second adult female drove the minor and the 21-year-old to the undercover’s location. Both female subjects have been arrested on federal charges.  

Note: You can watch an FBI video clip via the below link: 

On This Day In History Spy Novelist John le Carre Was Born


As History.com notes, John le Carre, author of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, was born on this day in 1931.

You can read about John le Carre via the below link:



You can also read my Washington Times review of John le Carre’s latest novel, A Legacy of Spies via the below link:

And you can also read my Washington Times review of John le Carre: The Biography via the below link:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Why The United States Needs A 355-Ship Navy Now


Robert O’Brien and Jerry Hendrix state their case for a 350-ship Navy in National Review.

One of President Trump’s signature campaign promises to the American people was a 350-ship Navy. The Navy itself has stated unequivocally that it needs a bare minimum of 355 ships to meet the missions with which it has been tasked by our regional combatant commanders. Yet, sadly, it is becoming clear that no real budgetary steps have been or will be taken to fund this promise. Further, there is nothing on the horizon to suggest that anything will change on this front.

The failure to rebuild America’s fleet could not have come at a worse time. The world has grown increasingly dangerous, with a nuclear madman in North Korea testing an ICBM a month, mullahs in Tehran plotting the takeover of the Middle East, Russia engaging in “frozen conflicts” in Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, a very hot civil war in Syria, and China appropriating a vast swath of the Pacific to itself. The forgoing list does not even take into account the United States’ continuing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and dozens of other remote locales where we are in daily combat with al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban, and their assorted jihadi fellow travelers.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


Note: The above U.S. Navy photo is of the USS Chung-Hoon and the USS Nimitz.  

You can click on the photo to enlarge. 

The U.S. Navy Ready Off Korea


The U.S. Navy released the above photo and the below caption:

WATERS EAST OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA (Oct. 18, 2017) The Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and the forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) steam alongside ships from the Republic of Korea navy. Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, is conducting a bilateral training exercise with the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy designed to increase the readiness of U.S. and ROK forces and maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula.

The above U.S. Navy photo was taken by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate 

Note: You can click on the above photo to enlarge.