Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Colombian Paramilitary Leader Sentenced To More Than 15 Years In Prison For International Drug Trafficking

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

A senior paramilitary leader and one of Colombia’s most notorious drug traffickers was sentenced today to serve 190 months in prison for leading an international drug trafficking conspiracy that imported into the United States ton-quantities of cocaine.  Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting Deputy Administrator Jack Riley of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made the announcement.

“Through his leadership position in the AUC, Salvatore Mancuso-Gomez directed the manufacture and shipment of over 100,000 kilograms of cocaine into the United States and elsewhere,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “In addition to enriching himself, Mancuso-Gomez and the AUC used this drug money to raise and arm a paramilitary force of more than 30,000 fighters and cement his control over regions of Colombia.  This case is yet another example of our continued commitment to collaborating with our international partners to prosecute criminals and warlords who traffic in illegal narcotics, violence and intimidation.”

“DEA is committed to relentlessly attacking global criminal networks who use drug trafficking as a means to finance their terrorist activities,” said Acting Deputy Administrator Riley.  “The arrest and prosecution of Salvatore Mancuso-Gomez clearly illustrates this dedication.  As a senior leader in the AUC, Mancuso-Gomez controlled huge amounts of cocaine production in Colombia, and oversaw its movement to the United States and other parts of the world.  Proceeds from his drug trafficking enterprise were used to acquire weapons and further the AUC’s violent criminal agenda.  DEA is pleased that this significant narco-terror leader has faced justice in a U.S. court of law.”

Salvatore Mancuso-Gomez, aka El Mono and Santander Lozada, formerly of Monteria, Colombia, pleaded guilty in October 2008 to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine knowing and intending that it would be imported into the United States.  U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of the District of Columbia imposed the sentence.

According to the statement of facts agreed to as part of his guilty plea, Mancuso-Gomez held one of the highest level leadership positions within the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (United Self Defense Forces of Colombia or AUC), a terrorist and paramilitary organization in Colombia.  In September 2001, the AUC was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Department of State.  In May 2003, the AUC was placed on the Significant Foreign Narcotics Traffickers list by order of the President, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.  In February 2004, Mancuso-Gomez individually was designated as a Tier II Kingpin by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, subjecting him to severe economic sanctions under the Kingpin Act.

The statement of facts also established that the AUC consisted of approximately 30,000 armed soldiers organized into blocs (or regions) with commanders for each bloc.  In connection with his guilty plea, Mancuso-Gomez admitted that, from the mid-1990s through 2004, he directed thousands of soldiers in two blocs of the AUC, controlling large areas where cocaine was produced.
Mancuso-Gomez admitted that the AUC produced approximately 2,000 kilograms of cocaine per month during the conspiracy, and that he and members of the organization transported the cocaine to the coastal areas of Colombia where it was loaded onto go-fast boats and other vessels for ultimate transportation to the United States and Europe.  Mancuso-Gomez also admitted that he levied taxes on other narcotics traffickers who needed passage through AUC-controlled territories, and that he used proceeds from his drug trafficking activities to purchase weapons and other supplies for AUC activities.  Mancuso-Gomez further admitted that he and the AUC maintained tight control of their territories in Colombia through intimidation of corrupt members of the Colombian government, including law enforcement and military personnel and politicians.

Today’s sentence does not account for violations of Colombian human rights-related laws allegedly committed by Mancuso-Gomez, which are being addressed in Colombia through the Justice and Peace process – a legal framework enacted in 2005 to facilitate the demobilization of its paramilitary organizations – and Colombian criminal justice system.

The case was investigated by DEA’s Bogotá and Cartagena, Colombia, Country Offices, and the DEA Special Operations Division.  The government of Colombia provided unprecedented assistance through the investigation, prosecution and sentencing phase of this case.

The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Paul W. Laymon and Carmen Colon of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS).  NDDS Judicial Attachés in Bogotá, Colombia; the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs; and the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Colombia (Fiscalia), including the Fiscalia’s Transitional Justice program, provided significant assistance.

Hemingway's 'The Killers' On Film: Blu-Ray's Double Feature

Raymond Benson, who wrote several James Bond continuation novels, looks back at the two film versions of Ernest Hemingway's great crime story The Killers at cinemaretro.com.

The Criterion Collection gave us the DVD versions of these two excellent crime thrillers twelve years ago. The company has now seen fit to upgrade the release to Blu-ray.

Based loosely on a short story by Ernest Hemingway, both versions of The Killers begin with the author’s premise and then take off from there in very different directions. It’s interesting to see how the respective screenwriters adapted the story and then created two disparate feature-length tales out of it. In Hemingway’s piece, two hit men arrive in a small town looking for “the Swede.” They terrorize the owner, cook, and a customer in a diner in an attempt to find the guy. After the killers leave in frustration, the customer runs to the Swede’s boarding house and finds him in bed with his clothes on. He warns the Swede about the men, but the Swede says he’s not going to do anything about it. The customer goes back to the diner and, after realizing no one cares, leaves town. And that’s it.

The 1946 version faithfully captures the short story—even down to the dialogue—for the first ten minutes. Where the short story ends, the movie goes on and we see the hit men actually kill the Swede (played by Burt Lancaster in his first starring role). Enter Jim Reardon (Edmond O’Brien, with third billing, but he’s really the protagonist of the film!) as an insurance inspector—it turns out the Swede had a life insurance policy that benefits an old lady who helped him once. Reardon is determined to uncover the story behind it all, and the rest of the movie follows his investigation into the Swede’s life in crime (told entirely in flashbacks). The Swede was a boxer who got mixed up with Big Jim, a racketeer (played by Albert Dekker), and falls in love with Big Jim’s gal, Kitty (played by smokin’ hot Ava Gardner, in one of her first starring roles; Gardner had been kicking around Hollywood since the early 40s—this was her big break). As we all know, it’s not good to mess around with the crime boss’s dame.
... The 1964 version is a different animal. It was produced to be the very first TV movie, but NBC viewed the finished product and deemed it too violent for television. Instead, the producers released it theatrically worldwide. Directed by Don Siegel (billed as “Donald Siegel”), The Killers Mach II stars Lee Marvin and Clu Gulager as the hitmen, who here become the focal point of the new story. John Cassavetes plays the Swede character, only here he is a racecar driver named Johnny. The femme fatale, Sheila, is played by Angie Dickinson, and get this... the crime boss is none other than Ronald Reagan in his last film role before he became a politician.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
You can also read more about Hemingway's short story The Killers via the below link to my Crime Beat column:

July 4 Terrorist Attack On U.S. Soil A Legitimate Threat, Officials Warn

Maggie Ybarra at the Washington Times offers a piece on a possible terrorist attack on July 4th.

U.S. intelligence officials and lawmakers are worried that chatter about a terrorist attack on U.S. soil this Fourth of July may be more than just talk.

The FBI has arrested at least 10 U.S. citizens in three weeks who were plotting various attacks on the homeland on behalf of the Islamic State group, and the Department of Homeland Security issued a joint bulletin with the FBI last week putting local law enforcement agencies across the country on heightened alert.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re sitting here a week from today talking about an attack over the weekend in the United States,” former CIA Deputy Director Michael J. Morell said Monday on “CBS This Morning.” “That’s how serious this is.”

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


Monday, June 29, 2015

Rodney Dangerfield On Johnny Carson, Cracking Jokes And Promoting His Film 'Easy Money'

Below is a link to a video clip of one of my favorite comedians, Rodney Dangerfield, cracking some great jokes and promoting his film Easy Money on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show:


Note: Although he is not in the above clip, Joe Pesci appears in Easy Money and he is nearly as funny as Rodney Dangefield.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

He Had A Way With Words: George Carlin Greatest Comic Rant

The entertainment website cinemaretro.com looks back at one of George Carlin's greatest comic rants.

You can watch the video of George Carlin via the below link:


Second Fugitive Shot Twice And Captured Alive By NY Trooper

The Daily Mail offers a piece on the capture of second fugitive in New York.

David Sweat, the surviving prisoner on the run in New York, has been shot and captured alive two miles from the Canadian border.

He was shot twice in the torso after a veteran officer patrolling the area spotted him brazenly jogging down the road wearing head-to-toe camouflage. 

Sergeant Jay Cook got out his vehicle to question the man before recognizing Sweat. Told to stop, Sweat broke into a run. When he got near a line of trees, almost vanishing from sight, Cook opened fire.

Sweat was treated by first responders at the scene then transported to Alice Hyde Medical Center, a small hospital in Malone, New York, just 40 miles from Clinton Correctional Facility, where he broke free on June 6.

At 6.25pm, Sweat, with an IV in his arm, was wheeled out of the emergency unit in a stable condition and placed in an ambulance bound for the larger Albany Medical Center.

The ambulance, with a heavy escort of state police vehicles, left eight minutes later. Local residents cheered as he left. 'We got you b*****d,' shouted one woman.

Sweat's capture comes two days after his fellow fugitive, double killer Richard Matt, was shot dead by police after leaving a clumsy trail of candy wrappers and liquor bottles in his wake as they fled authorities.

It is believed they were using black pepper stolen from hunting cabins to throw police dogs off their scent. 
You can read the rest of the piece and view numerous photos, maps and a video via the below link:

The Legendary NYPD Cop Who Broke Through "Italian Barrier"

Michael Kane at the New York Post looks back at the legendary Italian-American NYPD officer Giuseppe "Joe" Petrosino.

“Why Italians Are Useless in Police Work.”

That was the headline on an 1896 editorial in the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper — the premise being that newly arrived Italian immigrants would never bring to justice the criminal elements within their own community. One captain quoted said, “They are in dread of the vengeance of the Mafia.”

But the more likely reason was that the Irish, who overwhelming comprised the NYPD, were protective of holding onto their jobs. That was also true of dock work, construction, really any manual labor or civic work they’d claimed after their own wave of immigration 50 years earlier amid the Potato Famine of the 1840s.

No job was more fraternally Irish than police work. At the time of that newspaper article, there were a mere three Italian officers in a Brooklyn police force of 1,700. 

Enter Giuseppe Petrosino, a dock laborer who moved garbage onto barges. Petrosino, who’d become better known as Joseph, disapproved of the nonstop extortion rackets of the Black Hand, the turn-of-the-century precursor to a more organized Mafia to come. (The moniker coming from threatening extortion letters to businessmen “signed” with only an ominous handprint of black ink.)

With the backing of an Irish police captain for whom he’d briefly served as an informant, Petrosino joined the force in October 1883.

“Petrosino, though destined to become one of the NYPD’s greatest heroes, started out as an outsider,” writes journalist Paul Moses in his book “An Unlikely Union.” It took a decade for his first promotion from patrolman, yet all the while the short, scrappy man of few words continued to get collars.

In his first year after finally being promoted by then-NYPD boss Theodore Roosevelt to detective, Petrosino made 98 arrests, busted two murderers and even freed an Italian immigrant who was a week away from execution at Sing Sing by getting the real killer to confess.

His growing renown in getting the cuffs on killers even led to a backwardly respectful call from his Irish bosses when stumped by a murder puzzler: “Get the Dago!”

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