Friday, April 24, 2015

Modern-Day Slavery: Discussing The Heinous Crime Of Human Trafficking With Homeland Security Investigators

I spent the morning discussing human trafficking with the Homeland Security investigators responsible for combating this heinous crime for a piece that will appear in Counterterrorism magazine.

Meeting at the Philadelphia offices of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), an organizational element of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), I learned a good deal about the victims and the criminals involved in human trafficking.

I spoke with William S. Walker, the Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, David M. Hepler, an HSI Supervisory Special Agent, and Public Affairs Officer Sarah Maxwell.

Human trafficking is described by HSI as one of the most heinous crimes they investigate.

According to HSI, human trafficking is akin to modern-day slavery. Victims pay to be illegally transported into the United States only to find themselves in the thrall of traffickers. They are forced into prostitution, involuntary labor and other forms of servitude to repay debts. In certain cases, the victims are mere children. They find themselves surrounded by an unfamiliar culture and language without identification documents, fearing for their lives and the lives of their families.

HSI says that "Trafficking in Persons" is defined as sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.

ICE has a Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or you can offer a tip via the below link:

My magazine piece on HSI and human trafficking will be out in the coming months and I'll post a link here.

Letter To FBI Director: Open The FBI's Files On The 'Harlem Mosque Incident' Cop Slaying

Legendary former NYPD detective Randy Jurgensen and two others wrote an open letter in the New York Post to the FBI director, asking him to open the FBI's files on the murder of an NYPD officer at a mosque in Harlem in 1972.

Dear FBI Director James Comey:

We are retired law-enforcement professionals with great respect for the work of the FBI. But we’re calling on you to right a grievous wrong and make one last effort to find justice for a slain police officer.

Open the FBI “special file room” and conduct a comprehensive search of all FBI files for information related to the so-called “Harlem Mosque Incident.”

As The Boston Globe reported, the FBI special file room is “where the bureau stowed documents more embarrassing than classified, including its history of illegal spying on domestic political organizations.”

This includes files on so-called black-nationalist extremists and an “extremely sensitive counterintelligence technique” to sow conflict within targeted groups.

Forty-three years ago, NYPD Patrolman Phillip Cardillo was mortally wounded in a shooting inside the Nation of Islam’s Mosque #7 in Harlem.

No one has ever been convicted of the crime. A suspect, Lewis 17X Dupree, was arrested. His first trial resulted in a hung jury, and he was acquitted at a second trial.

This week, reports in The Post and on the Judicial Watch Web site raised important questions about the FBI’s role in the case.

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

Note: Randy Jurgensen appears above on the cover of his book, Circle of Six. The book covers the murder of officer Philip Cardillo and Jurgensen's investigation of the murder.

The Philly Rogue Cops Case: Narcotics Cops Work In A Cesspool

Veteran crime reporter and author George Anastasia is covering the federal trial of the Philadelphia narcotics cops accused of corruption for

Spend all your time in a cesspool and you're going to smell.

That's the assessment of retired Philadelphia Police Captain Al DiGiacomo as he follows the ongoing corruption trial of six narcotics cops in U.S. District Court.

Now a professor of criminal justice at West Chester University, DiGiacomo, 65, has been watching the case unfold from his perch in academia. For the veteran cop the allegations are similar to those that surfaced in two earlier and infamous narcotics squad corruption investigations.

But whether the six defendants in the ongoing case end up disgraced and convicted like members of the Five Squad or the tainted cops of the 39th District is still a very much open question.

The prosecution is expected to rest its case in the four-week trial tomorrow at which point the defense will begin calling witnesses. While it's unlikely any of the defendants will take the stand, the defense has promised to call several top Police Department officials who knew of or who were on the scene for some of the "episodes" detailed in the racketeering indictment that was handed up two years ago.

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

A Look Back At Rod Serling's 'The Jeopardy Room,' A 'Twilight Zone' Spy Story

Although I disagree with the late Rod Serling's general worldview, I was and remain a huge fan of his 1960s TV program, The Twilight Zone. 

Serling (seen in the above photo) was the creator, writer, narrator and host of the clever and well-written suspense and supernatural TV show. The old show remains popular today and is often aired on cable TV. The DVDs of the show are also popular.

The Spy Command, a web site that covers James Bond and other spy fiction, offers a piece on one Rod Serling-written Twilight Zone episode, called The Jeopardy Room. 

The Twilight Zone, more than a half century after it ended its original run on CBS, remains fondly remembered — an example of how television can be imaginative and thought provoking.

It also, in its final season, deviated from its usual fare of science fiction and fantasy to present a spy story.

The Jeopardy Room, which originally aired April 17, 1964, is essentially a two-man play for television.

On the one side, we have Major Ivan Kuchenko (Martin Landau), a Soviet military officer who served 12 years of hard time in Siberia. He wants to defect to the West. Despite his long imprisonment, he still has information that would be of value to the West.

On the other side, there is Commissar Vassiloff (John Van Dreelan). He has tortured Kuchenko in the past. Moreover, Vassiloff fancies himself as the last of the “imaginative” executioners. Vassiloff has been assigned to kill Kuchenko to make sure he doesn’t reach the West. But Vassiloff wants to do it with style.   

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

You can also watch the full episode of The Jeopardy Room via the below link:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

We Took Care Of That Thing For Ya: As 'Goodfellas' Turns 25, Here Are 25 Things You Never Knew About Martin Scorsese's Mobster Flick

In celebration of the finest and most realistic crime film ever made, Rachel Maresca and Philip Caulfield at the New York Daily News made a list of 25 things you may not know about Godfellas.

We took care of that thing for ya.

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of "Goodfellas" this year, the Daily News has compiled a list of 25 things every movie nut should know about the classic gangster flick, which is being honored on the closing night of The Tribeca Film Festival Saturday.

To celebrate, the cast of the Martin Scorsese movie will reunite and participate in a sit-down conversation hosted by Jon Stewart.

The violent, profane and often funny film, based on Nicholas Pileggi's book "Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family," featured several cameos by the story's real-life characters, and is revered by movie fans for its colorful dialogue and memorable lines.

Now go home and get your shinebox . . .

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

You can also read an earlier post on the making of Goodfellas via the below link:

"Ramshacked" At The Philly Rogue Cops Trial

Veteran crime reporter Ralph Cipriano is covering the federal trial of the Philadelphia narcotics cops for

As the prosecution in the rogue cops trial winds down its case, they're scraping the bottom of the barrel for witnesses.

One drug dealer on the witness stand today confessed that he had two different names.

Another drug dealer testifying on behalf of the government who was unsteady on his feet looked and smelled like he may have been drinking his favorite beverage again, Grey Goose Vodka.

Meanwhile, Judge Eduardo C. Robreno announced that the trial was moving much faster than expected, and that the prosecution would be winding down its case this week. As rumors swept the courtroom that one of the reasons why was that another unreliable prosecution witness was about to be ejected from the case.

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Police Kill More Whites Than Blacks, But Minority Deaths Generate More Outrage - Analysis Contradicts Widespread Views About Racial Targets

Valerie Richardson at the Washington Times offers a piece on the deaths of whites and minorities by police.

Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison says she wants to see an officer shoot an unarmed white teenager in the back before agreeing that the “conversation about race” is over, but she almost certainly already has received her wish.

An analysis released last week shows that more white people died at the hands of law enforcement than those of any other race in the last two years, even as the Justice Department, social-justice groups and media coverage focus on black victims of police force.

“People keep saying, ‘We need to have a conversation about race,’” Ms. Morrison told the (U.K.) Telegraph in an April 19 interview.

“This is the conversation. I want to see a cop shoot a white unarmed teenager in the back,” said Ms. Morrison, who also has won the Pulitzer Prize for her work, which includes the bestsellers “Beloved” and “Song of Solomon.” “And I want to see a white man convicted for raping a black woman. Then when you ask me, ‘Is it over?’, I will say yes.”

Her comments reflect a widespread view that blacks are routinely targeted by law enforcement while whites shot by police are a rarity. Outrage has surged in recent weeks over the high-profile deaths of black men at the hands of police, notably 50-year-old Walter Scott of South Carolina, who was shot in the back and killed April 4 as he tried to run away from an officer after a traffic stop.

The officer who shot him, Michael Slager, has been charged with murder, and the Justice Department is investigating the case for civil rights violations. Department officials announced Tuesday that they have opened a federal probe into the death of Freddie Gray, 25, who died Sunday from injuries sustained while in Baltimore police custody.

Meanwhile, the deaths of whites at the hands of law enforcement typically receive less attention, even when the case is shrouded in controversy. For example, Gilbert Collar, an 18-year-old white student at the University of South Alabama, was shot and killed while naked, unarmed and under the influence of drugs by a black police officer.

The officer, Trevis Austin, was cleared of wrongdoing in 2013 by a Mobile County grand jury in a case that received little media coverage outside Alabama. Mr. Collar’s parents filed a federal lawsuit last year against the officer.

As researchers are quick to point out, FBI data on police shootings by race is notoriously incomplete, which may explain why Peter Moskos, assistant professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, decided to use figures from the website Killed by Police.

Based on that data, Mr. Moskos reported that roughly 49 percent of those killed by officers from May 2013 to April 2015 were white, while 30 percent were black. He also found that 19 percent were Hispanic and 2 percent were Asian and other races.

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

Note: Peter Moskos is the author of Cop in the Hood: My Year Policing Baltimore's Eastern District.