Thursday, February 25, 2021

Canadian National Pleads Guilty To Human Smuggling Conspiracy

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

A Canadian national pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to bring aliens to the United States for private financial gain in connection with his role in a scheme to smuggle aliens from Sri Lanka through the Caribbean and into the United States. 

As part of the plea, Sri Kajamukam Chelliah, aka Mohan, aka Richie, 55, of Sri Lanka, admitted to conspiring with others to facilitate the travel of aliens from Sri Lanka through Haiti, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Bahamas to the United States from on or about July 1, 2019 through on or about Oct. 10, 2019. During the course of the conspiracy, Chelliah worked with other human smugglers, arranging housing and transport for illegal aliens en route to Canada through the United States. Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date. 

“By participating in a smuggling operation which planned to illegally transport individuals through various countries, including the United States, the defendant jeopardized the national security of the United States for his own financial benefit” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “As this case demonstrates, the Criminal Division is committed to working with our law enforcement partners both here and abroad to bring human smugglers to justice and to disrupt and dismantle the international networks they operate.” 

Chelliah arranged for the individuals to be transported from the airport in Port Au Prince, Haiti, to a hotel where Chelliah housed and provided them with food. Chelliah then arranged for transportation by boat from Haiti to Turks and Caicos Islands, then to the Bahamas, and then by boat to Miami, Florida. Chelliah accompanied the individuals, including traveling with them by boat during their journey. The actions undertaken by Chelliah and co-conspirators in furtherance of their smuggling activities were done in exchange for payment. 

Specifically, Chelliah further admitted as part of the plea that from approximately October 2017 to approximately September 2019, six Sri Lankan nationals with no legal right to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, travelled from Sri Lanka to Haiti with the assistance of human smugglers. Upon arrival in Haiti, Chelliah arranged for the six individuals to be picked up at the airport and taken to a hotel. Chelliah arranged for the individuals to be housed and fed at the hotel, then travel by boat from Haiti to Turks and Caicos Islands and from Turks and Caicos Islands to the Bahamas. The six aliens would then travel from the Bahamas to Miami, Florida, by boat. 

According to the plea agreement, on Oct. 10, 2019, the six aliens, accompanied by Chelliah, boarded a Haitian sloop sailboat heading for Turks and Caicos Islands. The Haitian sloop sailboat carrying approximately 154 aliens, including Chelliah, was subsequently interdicted by Turks and Caicos authorities. Chelliah was arrested and ultimately convicted in Turks and Caicos on local immigration charges and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment. Following the completion of his prison sentence, he was placed in immigration detention in Turks and Caicos. 

Chelliah was later arrested on July 28, 2020, by Turks and Caicos authorities, based on a provisional arrest request submitted by the United States premised on a sealed U.S. criminal complaint. He consented to extradition and, on Aug. 15, 2020, the Governor of Turks and Caicos issued an order allowing the extradition to the United States. Chelliah was extradited to the United States on Aug. 17, 2020, and the criminal complaint was unsealed at his initial appearance on the same date.  

This case is being investigated by HSI Miami, with assistance from the HSI Human Smuggling Unit and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The investigation is being conducted under the Extraterritorial Criminal Travel Strike Force (ECT) program, a joint partnership between the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and HSI. The ECT program focuses on human smuggling networks that may present particular national security or public safety risks, or present grave humanitarian concerns. ECT has dedicated investigative, intelligence and prosecutorial resources. ECT coordinates and receives assistance from other U.S. government agencies and foreign law enforcement authorities. 

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Rami S. Badawy and John Alex-Romano of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP), and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Dobbins of the Southern District of Florida, with support from HRSP Trial Attorney Jim Hepburn. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in the investigation and in securing the defendant’s extradition to the United States. The Department of Justice gratefully acknowledges the government of Turks and Caicos Islands for their valuable assistance.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

A Look Back At The Aircraft Carrier USS Kitty Hawk's 1987 SLEP Overhaul In Philadelphia


I've been thinking about the fate of my old ship, the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, which is now decommissioned and awaiting her demise in Bremerton, Washington. 

I'd love to see the old carrier become a floating museum at the Philadelphia Navy Base, as other carriers live on in other cities. But converting a decommissioned carrier to a museum is an expensive affair that few cities can afford. 

So I'm preparing for a sad ending for a great ship that saw and made history. 

In 1961 my late father, a former WWII Navy UDT frogman, took me to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard to see the commissioning of a new aircraft carrier, the USS Kitty Hawk, CVA-63. 

I reported aboard the Kitty Hawk in 1970 as a 17-year-old seaman apprentice. I served aboard for two years and did a WESTPAC cruise. 

The aircraft carrier operated on "Yankee Station" off the coast of North Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin in the South China Sea. The carrier's aircraft performed sorties against North Vietnamese and Viet Cong positions in support of U.S. and South Vietnamese ground troops.

The aircraft carrier also made port of calls to Hawaii, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Sasebo, Japan.   

This was quite an adventure for a young man.  


The USS Kitty Hawk returned to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in 1987 for a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) overhaul. (See top photo). 

I took my wife and infant daughter to the welcoming ceremony.  

At the time, I was serving as the civilian administrative officer of a Defense Department command in Philadelphia. Our DoD command oversaw many of the contractors who worked on the Kitty Hawk's overhaul. As the administrative officer, I oversaw security, safety, public affairs and other support programs for the command. 

In my public affairs role, I organized several visits to the Kitty Hawk for our military and civilian employees. They were the contract administrators, quality assurance inspectors, engineers and others who dealt with the Kitty Hawk's SLEP program. 

It was a most interesting experience to return to my old ship after all those years.

The Kitty Hawk may end up being sunk or broken up for scrap metal, but the role the aircraft carrier played will live on in history, and live on in the memories of her former sailors.  

Note: The three photos of me on the Kitty Hawk were taken by Joe Piazza.

You can click on the above photos to enlarge. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Italian Stereotypes Aren’t Funny: So Why Does ‘Saturday Night Live’ Lean On Them So often?

 I loved Saturday Night Live (SNL) for years, but I’ve not watched the program for some time, because it is not funny, in my view, and because of their overwhelming and unfair political leftist lean. 

(For a bit of counterbalance visit The Babylon Bee | Your Trusted Source for Christian News Satire.)

I was glad to hear that SNL addressed New York Democratic Gov Cuomo’s mishandling and cover-up of the nursing home deaths, but, as I’m half-Italian and live in “Little Italy” in South Philadelphia, I was certainly not pleased to read about their cheap shots on his Italian heritage. 

Make fun of his political chicanery, sure, but his being Italian has nothing to do with the scandal. 

I guess these snowflake liberals can insult Italians with impunity, unlike other ethnic groups. (And like Nixon said famously, they don’t have Trump to kick around anymore). 

Rosario Iaconis offers a piece on this at the New York Daily News.      

George Kaufman famously averred that “Satire is what closes on Saturday night.” But what about SNL? 

In skewering Andrew Cuomo over his mishandling of the COVID-19 nursing-home controversy, Michael Che quipped: “New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, who looks like all three Goodfellas at once, said he hopes to legalize marijuana next month. Cuomo is hoping marijuana will provide New Yorkers a safe, effective way to forget about the nursing-home stuff.” 

This is risible? Lambasting the governor for his policy failures is fair game, but perpetuating loathsome stereotypes is not. 

Yet anti-Italian tropes have long been a staple on a show that aspires to cutting-edge satire. 

In a Weekend Update segment that aired in March 2020, Colin Jost was startled that someone who sounds like Dr. Anthony Fauci would be so knowledgeable. According to the author of “A Very Punchable Face,” people with such an accent usually holler: “Yo, I’m gonna break your knee caps.” 

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

Italian stereotypes aren’t funny: So why does ‘Saturday Night Live’ lean on them so often? - New York Daily News (nydailynews.com) 

Wife Of “El Chapo” Arrested On International Drug Trafficking Charges

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

The wife of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, leader of a Mexican drug trafficking organization known as the Sinaloa Cartel, was arrested today in Virginia on charges related to her alleged involvement in international drug trafficking. 

Emma Coronel Aispuro, 31, a dual U.S.-Mexican citizen, of Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, was arrested today at Dulles International Airport. She is scheduled to make her initial appearance in federal court tomorrow in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia via video conference. 

According to court documents, Aispuro is charged with participating in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana for importation into the U.S. Additionally, Coronel Aispuro is alleged to have conspired with others to assist Guzman in his July 11, 2015 escape from Altiplano prison, located in Almoloya de Juarez, Mexico. After Guzman was re-arrested in Mexico in January 2016, Coronel Aispuro is alleged to have engaged in planning yet another prison escape with others prior to Guzman’s extradition to the U.S. in January 2017.

Guzman Loera was convicted by a jury in the Eastern District of New York in 2019 for his role as a leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. 

Cornel Aispuro is charged in a one count criminal complaint with a conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, five kilograms or more of cocaine, 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, and 500 grams or more of methamphetamines for unlawful importation into the U.S.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Director in Charge Steven D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement. 

The FBI’s Washington Field Office is investigating the case. 

Acting Deputy Chief Anthony Nardozzi and Trial Attorney Kate Wagner of the Justice Department’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section are prosecuting the case. 

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Monday, February 22, 2021

Ralph Cipriano: Real Justice PAC Poured More Than $100,000 Into Philly D.A.'s Campaign

Ralph Cipriano at BigTrail.net looks at the outside progressive money Philly DA Larry Krasner is shoveling in. 

District Attorney Larry Krasner has a cozy relationship with a West Coast political action committee that's become his biggest campaign donor. 

The Real Justice PAC of San Francisco has been pouring cash, in-kind services and even rent money into Krasner's reelection campaign, to the tune of more than $100,000. 

The only problem: the city of Philadelphia's legal limit on yearly contributions from PACs is just $12,600. That's why the city's Board of Ethics is monitoring the "Lawrence Krasner For District Attorney" campaign committee, and the contributions they've been raking in from the Real Justice PAC. 

Because both the D.A.'s campaign committee and his favorite PAC are known offenders. Two years ago, the Board of Ethics finalized an agreement that called for both the Real Justice PAC and Krasner's campaign committee to fork over a total of $23,000 in fines and "disgorgements" [or forfeits] for breaking city election laws back in 2017 with donations over and above the city's legal limits.  

And now with Krasner running for reelection in the May 18th Democratic primary, both the Real Justice PAC and the D.A.'s campaign committee are at it again. According to Real Justice's filings last year with the Federal Election Commission, the PAC listed as campaign contributions to Krasner a $25,000 donation made on April 15, 2020, and a $50,000 donation made on July 30, 2020.  

But in financial reports that Real Justice PAC filed with the city, and in a financial report filed by the Krasner committee with the state, to date, both entities have only disclosed the $25,000 contribution. So the question becomes on which forms was Real Justice telling the truth? Was it with the city or was it with the feds? 

Real Justice isn't talking; neither is Krasner nor his campaign committee. But J. Shane Creamer Jr., executive director of the city's Board of Ethics, is watching. 

"I'm aware of all their public filings and I have no comment," Creamer said.  

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

Real Justice PAC Poured More Than $100,000 Into D.A.'s Campaign | Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Babylon Bee: To Fight White Supremacy, Coca-Cola Discontinues Vanilla Coke

 Gotta love the Babylon Bee satire.

ATLANTA, GA—To fight white supremacy, Coca-Cola has discontinued its controversial product Vanilla Coke, saying it is "too white" and must be dismantled as part of the company's continued emphasis on eliminating whiteness from society. All varieties of Vanilla Coke, from Cherry Vanilla and Orange Vanilla to Vanilla Vanilla, will be pulled from shelves as part of Coca-Cola's push to lessen whiteness.

"We now recognize that our Vanilla Coke product perpetuates whiteness in a racist, problematic society and harms our efforts to make people less white," said a Coca-Cola executive Friday. "Anything with even a hint of whiteness must be eliminated. We now realize that we were, in fact, part of the problem all along as we promoted the alt right-adjacent flavor of 'vanilla.'"

"We will do better," he said before resigning, canceling and doxing himself, and banishing himself to a remote island in the Caribbean to think about his whiteness.

You can read the rest of the piece and other humor pieces via the below link: 

To Fight White Supremacy, Coca-Cola Discontinues Vanilla Coke | The Babylon Bee 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

'Out Of The Night, When The Full Moon Is Bright, Comes The Horseman Known As Zorro': A Look Back At Walt Disney's Classic TV Series 'Zorro'

 Out of the night,

When the full moon is bright,
Comes the horseman known as Zorro.
This bold renegade
Carves a "Z" with his blade,
A "Z" that stands for Zorro.

Zorro, Zorro, the fox so cunning and free,
Zorro, Zorro, who makes the sign of the Z.

He is polite,
But the wicked take flight
When they catch the sight of Zorro.
He's friend of the weak,
And the poor and the meek,
This very unique, SeƱor Zorro.

Zorro, Zorro, the fox so cunning and free,
Zorro, Zorro, who makes the sign of the Z.

Zorro, Zorro, Zorro, Zorro, Zorro, Zorro....

I love listening to that theme song, as it reminds me of a happy time in my childhood in the 1950s when I watched Walt Disney’s Zorro on TV. 

I loved watching Guy Williams (seen in the above and below photos) as Zorro, clad in his black hat, eye mask and cape, whip that sword out and cut the sign of the Z onto the bad guy’s clothes, and then ride off on Tornado, his black stallion. 

(Guy Williams’ real name was Armando Joseph Catalano and he was born on January 14, 1924 and died on April 30, 1989).

Zorro offered adventure, romance, and comedy. I also loved the villains, the beautiful women, and the comic characters of fat Sergeant Garcia (portrayed by Henry Calvin) and Zorro’s deaf-mute assistant, Bernardo (portrayed by Gene Sheldon).

“Uncle Walt” Disney appeared on the TV screen and introduced the viewers to the adventures of Zorro

The TV series began on October 10, 1957 on ABC and after 78 episodes, ended on July 2, 1959. Later, in 1960 and 1961, Walt Disney’s offered four hour-long Zorro specials.

I read and enjoyed the Dell Zorro comic books and I later read and enjoyed the Zorro stories by the character’s creator, Johnston McCulley (seen in the below photo with Guy Williams). 

McCulley introduced Zorro in a serialized story, The Curse of Capistrano, in 1919 in the All-Story Weekly magazine. 

McCulley, who was born on February 2, 1883 and died at age 75 on November 23, 1958, wrote many short stories, fifty novels, screenplays for film and television. His most famous character was Zorro.   

I also later watched the earlier Zorro films, which starred silent screen star Douglas Fairbanks in 1920’s The Mark of Zorro, and the 1940 remake with Tyrone Power. And I watched Frank Langella’s TV remake of The Mark of Zorro in 1974 and the 1998 remake with Antonio Banderas as Zorro.

I recall one Christmas as a young child when money was an issue with my family, and my brother and I were allowed to pick only one “big” gift. The supermarket at the time used to offer toy sets on the tops of their shelves, and that year the Zorro toy set was a popular one. The set consisted of the fort featured on the TV show and toy figures of all of the TV show’s characters. I loved that set, as I loved the TV series.

You can watch the opening and closing Zorro theme (with snippets) via the below link:

Zorro 1957 - 1959 Opening and Closing Theme (With Snippets) - YouTube

And you can watch a history of Zorro via the below link:

Zorro The Life and Legend of Zorro Disney - YouTube

You can also watch the two hour-long episodes of Zorro, with Gilbert Roland and Rita Moreno, via the below links: