Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Definitive London Tough Guy: Watch Bob Hoskin's Best Scene

Stephen Marche at offers a piece on the late Bob Hoskin's finest film scene from The Long Good Friday.

Bob Hoskins was the definitive London tough guy. He starred in the definitive London tough-guy film, The Long Good Friday, which you should feel obligated today to rewatch instead of working. The whole of his performance in that movie is pure bravura acting — I mean, the man outshines Helen Mirren — but the final scene stands out as one of the greatest scenes in any film noir ever. Captured by the IRA in London, whose leader he has just killed, Hoskins's Harold Shand stares down a very silent and very menacing and very grinning Pierce Brosnan. He knows that he has lost. He knows that he is about to be tortured and killed and that his body is going to be displayed in some horrific way. In total silence, an amazing series of emotions plays over his face — hatred, animal horror at what is about to happen to the wife he loves, amazement, crippling fear, a last gasp at calculation, the realization that all his cunning isn't going to help him now, wistfulness for what he might have accomplished, amusement at the irony of his own downfall, existential sickness, atavistic loathing, and then cosmic resignation. That all happens, in silence, in a minute and a half. Have a look:

You can also read an earlier post on the late actor via the below link:

Philadelphia Bodega Owners Question The Injustice

Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker, two Pulitzer Prize-winning Philadelphia Daily News reporters and authors of Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love, offer a follow-up on their series about allegations of abuse and theft against Philadelphia police narcotics officers who raided several bodegas.

You can read the piece and watch a video of one of the police raids via the below link:

RIP: British Actor Bob Hoskins Dead At 71

The New York Post reports on the death of the great British actor Bob Hoskins, who starred in the great crime film The Long Good Friday.

LONDON — British actor Bob Hoskins, whose varied career ranged from “Mona Lisa” to "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" has died at 71.

A family statement released Wednesday by agent Clair Dobbs said Hoskins died in a hospital after a bout with pneumonia.

A versatile character actor capable of menace, quiet poignancy and Cockney charm, London-raised Hoskins appeared in some of the most acclaimed British films of the past few decades, including gangster classic “The Long Good Friday.”

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

How Many Of Amazon's "100 Mysteries & Thrillers To Read In A Lifetime" Have You Read?

Vi-An Nguyen at Parade magazine offers a piece on Amazon's list of mysteries and thrillers to be read in a lifetime.

Mystery fans, it’s time to tally up! The book editors at have compiled a list of the “100 Mysteries and Thrillers to Read in a Lifetime”—a bucket list of noir reads.

The list includes blockbuster hits like Gillian Flynn‘s Gone Girl and Dan Brown‘s The Da Vinci Code, as well as classics like the fifth James Bond novel, From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming, and The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain.

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

Crime Fiction Needs More Clean-Living Cops, Says British Police Chief

Steve Morris at the British newspaper the Guardian offers a piece on the views of a British chief constable who object to crime fiction's portrayal of police officers.

Crime writers should depict more detectives as clean-living and balanced rather than damaged and hard-drinking like the Inspector Rebus of Ian Rankin's novels, a chief constable has said.

Nick Gargan, chief constable of Avon and Somerset (seen in the below photo), said some police officers modelled themselves on fictional cops when they were interviewed on television in high-profile cases.

Speaking to the Guardian before a talk on crime fiction at the Chipping Norton literary festival at the weekend, Gargan said: "I've seen cops on the steps of court putting in rather theatrical performances for the TV cameras and I've thought: you weren't trained to do that. It doesn't represent any part of the rest of your working life. You've thought, tomorrow morning I'm likely to appear on the steps of the court, I'll be expected to say something. What are my reference points, how am I going to come across?"

Gargan said he accepted Rankin's that a novel giving a realistic portrayal of police procedure would be "the most boring book in the world", but objected to crime authors depicting one detective doing the work of what in reality would be that of up to 40 officers.

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

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Hunt For El Chapo, The World's Most Powerful Drug Trafficker

Patrick Radden Keefe at The New Yorker offers a long piece on the capture of Joaquin Guzman Loera, known as El Chapo.

One afternoon last December, an assassin on board a K.L.M. flight from Mexico City arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. This was not a business trip: the killer, who was thirty-three, liked to travel, and often documented his journeys around Europe on Instagram. He wore designer clothes and a heavy silver ring in the shape of a grimacing skull. His passport was an expensive fake, and he had used it successfully many times. But, moments after he presented his documents to Dutch customs, he was arrested. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration had filed a Red Notice with Interpol—an international arrest warrant—and knew that he was coming. Only after the Dutch authorities had the man in custody did they learn his real identity: José Rodrigo Arechiga, the chief enforcer for the biggest drug-trafficking organization in history, Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel.

To work in the Mexican drug trade is to have a nickname, and Arechiga went by the whimsically malevolent handle El Chino Ántrax. He supervised the armed wing of the Sinaloa—a cadre of executioners known as Los Ántrax—and coördinated drug shipments for the cartel’s leader, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, who was known as El Chapo, or Shorty. Arechiga was a narcotraficante of the digital age, bantering with other criminals on Twitter and posting snapshots of himself guzzling Cristal, posing with exotic pets, and fondling a gold-plated AK-47.

Guzmán, who is fifty-seven, typified an older generation. Obsessively secretive, he ran his multibillion-dollar drug enterprise from hiding in Sinaloa, the remote western state where he was born, and from which the cartel takes its name. The Sinaloa cartel exports industrial volumes of cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine to America; it is thought to be responsible for as much as half the illegal narcotics that cross the border every year.

Guzmán has been characterized by the U.S. Treasury Department as “the world’s most powerful drug trafficker,” and after the killing of Osama bin Laden, three years ago, he became perhaps the most wanted fugitive on the planet. Mexican politicians promised to bring him to justice, and the U.S. offered a five-million-dollar reward for information leading to his capture. But part of Guzmán’s fame stemmed from the perception that he was uncatchable, and he continued to thrive, consolidating control of key smuggling routes and extending his operation into new markets in Europe, Asia, and Australia. According to one study, the Sinaloa cartel is now active in more than fifty countries.  

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

Pennsylvania Governor Signs Death Penalty For Cop Killer

Vinny Vella at the Philadelphia Daily News reports on Pennsylvania Governor Corbett approving the death penalty for Lewis Jordon, who was convicted in 2009 for the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Chuck Cassidy (seen in the above photo) during a robbery.

You can read the piece via the below link:

Monday, April 28, 2014

Dr. Benjamin Church, Spy: A Case Of Espionage On The Eve Of The Americans Revolution

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review of John A. Nagy's Dr. Benjamin Church, Spy: A Case of Espionage on the Eve of the American Revolution.

No less an authority than the American Revolution historian Thomas Fleming calls Dr. Benjamin Samuel Church Jr. “the least known and most dangerous spy in American history.”

Surely he was in a position to do grave harm to the fight for independence from the British. As John Nagy writes, Church was “one of the most admired and respected patriots in Massachusetts,” on a par with John and Samuel Adams and John Hitchcock. He served “on almost every committee of importance” and was the on-site political leader in the state.

In terms of position, Church inarguably was the most important American spy ever, for his treachery could have led to the loss of the war that created the United States. By comparison, such spies as Alger Hiss of the State Department, Aldrich Ames of the CIA and Robert Hanssen of the FBI were mere spear-carriers.

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

Condemned Spy Mata Hari Glib During Final Interrogation, According To Released MI5 Files

Peter Edwards at the Toronto Star offers a piece on famed female spy Mata Hari.

The spy known as “Mata Hari” was glib in her final prison interrogation before her life ended in front of a French firing squad in the First World War, according to formerly top secret files from the British intelligence agency MI5.
Mata Hari, once a wildly popular Dutch exotic dancer, didn’t appear fazed when an interrogator confronted her with a long list of her lovers, an MI5 report released earlier this month states.
“When faced with her acquaintances with officers of all ranks and all nations, she replied that she loved all officers, and would rather have as her lover a poor officer than a rich banker,” the MI5 files note.  

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

Sunday, April 27, 2014

George Washington: More Than A General And A President, He Was America's First Intelligence Chief

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) offers a piece on George Washington's contributions to America's intelligence history.

Not only was George Washington the first president of the United States, he was also America’s first intelligence chief. During the revolutionary war, Washington spent more than 10 percent of military funding on intelligence-related activities. These activities included managing individual spies, running spy rings, and establishing special units for the collection of military intelligence.

Washington himself established agent networks in Boston, New York and Philadelphia.

In the early years of the war, Washington personally supervised the recruitment, training, and running of intelligence agents. The Culper Ring, established in the summer of 1778 in New York and made up of about 20 people, was the most sophisticated of Washington's agent networks, using aliases, coded writing, dead drops and other tradecraft.  

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

You can also read an earlier post on the AMC series Turn, which dramatizes Washington's Culper spy ring via the below link:

Jack Is Back: Jack Bauer And "24" Returns To TV

Benji Wilson at the British newspaper the Telegraph offers a piece on the new season of 24.

After a four-year hiatus, Jack is Back. Which means 24, the real-time thriller in which Armageddon was averted eight times between 2001 and 2010, is back too. When Jack Bauer first appeared as a superhuman counter-terrorist agent in November 2001 a hashtag was a noise you made when you sneezed, terror was something you could declare war on and it was an article of note that the show featured a black president of the United States. Now Jack has his own hashtag, the War on Terror has “officially” ended and Barack Obama has been in power for five years.
The title of the new “event” series of 24 is Live Another Day, which in itself quietly concedes that this repeat performance is slightly unexpected (it was cancelled because of falling ratings). Kiefer Sutherland, the show’s star and executive producer, admits he had reservations about a resurrection: 
“I said, ‘Yeah, I’d absolutely like to do it,’ and then I spent the next six months petrified, going, ‘Oh my God, why would I open that up again?’ because I was nervous. I was very proud of everything that we had accomplished in eight years and there was something very satisfying about saying, ‘OK, it’s done.’ ”
But it isn’t done. And the new series has a twist. It’s set in London – complete with Stephen Fry as our own PM (rather improbably named Trevor). Once again Jack, now a fugitive from the US government, has to foil a plot to kill the American president, who happens to be in town. Some topical window dressing has been employed – where once the threat was thermonuclear now it involves drones; where once Jack’s long-term IT gopher Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) was a government employee with a sensible haircut, now she has become disenchanted with politics, acquired a bob and gone to work for an Assange-style high-profile hacker.

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

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Ghost Of British Master Spy And Traitor Kim Philby Returns To Cambridge

Neil Tweedie at the British newspaper the Telegraph offers a piece on the Cambridge Spies conference.

Give me the child and I’ll give you the man, said the Jesuits. The KGB, on the other hand, believed that indoctrination could wait until a little later in life. But there was no disagreement between the two regarding the best place to recruit spies. From the time of Elizabeth I, when Roman Catholic zealots plotted the Protestant queen’s downfall, to the 1930s, when it incubated the so-called Magnificent Five of Philby, Burgess, Maclean, Blunt and Cairncross, the University of Cambridge has been a breeding ground for treason and espionage.
This weekend, that tradition will be celebrated – if that is the right word – at the first-ever conference on the Cambridge Spies to be held in Cambridge. An audience of academics, laymen and intelligence officers will gather at Trinity College, which produced four of the five, to listen to Kim Philby lecture on the art of betrayal.
The most notorious traitor produced by Britain in the 20th century will speak from beyond the grave on a tape smuggled out of Russia to the West. In a recorded address to an audience of KGB officers, Philby, a long-term Soviet mole at the heart of the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, instructs them in how to handle agents in the field. Speaking through an interpreter, the man who sent hundreds of agents to their deaths behind the Iron Curtain, even manages a joke or two.
“The most important thing the tape does is to provide a possible answer to the biggest unanswered question about Philby’s exile in Russia,” says Professor Christopher Andrew, Britain’s leading historian on intelligence and a keynote speaker at the conference. “Here is this man, a super hero, who even has his face on Soviet postage stamps, and yet he is denied the supreme honour of Hero of the Soviet Union, an award bestowed on KGB agents of much lesser significance. Why?”

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

Note: Ben Macintyre has a good book on the notorious spy coming out soon in the U.S. called A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal.

Patrick McGoohan: The Spy Who Started It All

Susan King at the Los Angeles Times offers a piece on one of my favorite actors and one of my favorite TV programs, Patrick McGoohan and The Prisoner.

There's never been a TV series quite like "The Prisoner," which premiered in England in 1967 and debuted in the U.S. the summer of 1968 on CBS.

Best described as James Bond meets George Orwell filtered through Franz Kafka, the cult series revolved around a British secret agent (Patrick McGoohan) who wants to resign from the service. Deemed too dangerous to retire, they kidnap him and send him to an idyllic, though completely isolated, seaside resort called the Village.

There residents are assigned numbers instead of names and their every movement is followed by monitoring systems and security forces. And if someone tries to escape, they encounter a mysterious white balloon called Rover.

For 17 brilliant, surreal episodes, McGoohan's No. 6 was in constant battle with No. 2, a revolving door of henchmen who did the bidding for the unseen leader, who is naturally No. 1.

 "At the time, it was so original and unique," said McGoohan's daughter, actress Catherine McGoohan. "It completely took the secret agent spy story to a different level."

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:,0,3274542.story?track=rss#axzz301hdF2xr

You can also read an earlier post on Patrick McGoohan via the below link:

Note: I'm also a huge fan of Patrick McGoohan's earlier TV series, Secret Agent (Danger Man in the U.K.). I purchased the DVD complete collection and over the course of this past year, I watched all of the Secret Agent episodes. Secret Agent is an intelligent, cool and clever show that holds up after all these years.

Philly DA To Review Alleged Sex Assault By Philly Cop

Barbara Laker at the Philadelphia Daily News offers a piece on the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office announcement that they will review the complaints against a Philadelphia police officer that were detailed in Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman's Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper series and subsequent book, Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love.

The District Attorney's Office has decided to review the cases of two women who say that narcotics officer Thomas Tolstoy fondled and groped them during drug raids.

... After investigating for five years, the U.S. Attorney's Office declined several months ago to file charges against a squad in the Narcotics Field Unit tied to multiple allegations of theft and misconduct.

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

You can also read an earlier post on the case via the below link:

FBI: Investment Fraud Scheme Uncovered, Members of Military and Dependents Victimized

The FBI web site offers a piece on an investment fraud scheme that victimized military members and their families:

They are our nation’s heroes—often risking their lives abroad to protect us at home. Which makes what one Virginia con man did all the more despicable…defrauding military personnel and their dependents in an investment fraud scheme.

But one of his victims came forward and filed a complaint. And after a joint investigation conducted by the Richmond offices of the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)—under the auspices of the Virginia Financial and Securities Fraud Task Force—Vernon Matthews was charged in the scheme, pled guilty, and was recently sentenced to a federal prison term.

Matthews operated a company called First Capital Group (FCG), located in Virginia Beach. He had a license to sell insurance, not to give investment advice or handle securities—but that didn’t stop him from doing so.

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

Friday, April 25, 2014

Victims in Pulitzer Prize-Winning Newspaper Series "Tainted Justice" Outraged At Lack Of Charges

Barbara Laker and David Gambacorta at the Philadelphia Daily News offer a piece on the reaction to the news that the Philadelphia Police Officers accused of misconduct by many alleged victims in the newspaper's Pulitzer Prize-winning series and the reporters' book, Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love, will be not be charged.

The owners of 22 bodegas and corner stores across Philadelphia believed that the narcotics officers who had sliced the wires to their surveillance cameras before allegedly looting their stores would be charged with theft and vandalism.

Three women thought they, too, would find justice after one of the officers, Thomas Tolstoy, allegedly assaulted them during raids.

So yesterday, when these victims learned that federal and local prosecutors had decided not to file criminal charges against the cops, they were shocked and outraged.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below

Note: My review of Busted will appear shortly in the Washington Times and my interview with the two reporters/authors, Wendy Ruderman and Barbra Laker, will appear here in the near future. 
THE OWNERS of 22 bodegas and corner stores across Philadelphia believed that the narcotics officers who had sliced the wires to their surveillance cameras before allegedly looting their stores would be charged with theft and vandalism.
Three women thought they, too, would find justice after one of the officers, Thomas Tolstoy, allegedly sexually assaulted them during raids.
So yesterday, when these victims learned that federal and local prosecutors had decided not to file criminal charges against the cops, they were shocked and outraged.


Philadelphia Business Owner And Associate Charged In Murder-For-Hire Plot That Involved Atlantic City Shooting

The U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey, released the below information yesterday:

CAMDEN, N.J. – Two Philadelphia men are scheduled to appear in court today on charges of conspiracy, murder for hire and aiding and abetting the use of a firearm related to a shooting in Atlantic City, N.J., last year, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Ronald Galati, 63, and Jerome Johnson, 45, will have their initial court appearances before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez in Camden federal court. They were each charged in an indictment – returned by a federal grand jury on April 2, 2014, and unsealed today – with conspiring with Ronald Walker, 48, of Philadelphia, and Alvin Matthews, 46, of Brookhaven, Pa., to shoot and kill an individual in Atlantic City, N.J., on Nov. 30, 2013. Johnson was also charged with transporting a firearm for use during the commission of a felony, transferring a firearm for use in a crime of violence and being a previously convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Galati owned and operated American Collision & Automotive Center (American Collision) in Philadelphia. At various times, Johnson has worked there for Galati. Prior to June 2013, Galati allegedly began saying he was going to kill a person identified as “Victim One.” 

In June 2013, Galati, members of Galati’s family and associates of Galati had dinner with Victim One at a restaurant in Northfield, N.J. During dinner, Galati took Victim One into the kitchen and threatened to kill him.

Galati and Johnson allegedly approached Walker and Matthews and asked them to kill Victim One in a way that would not implicate Galati. Galati promised to pay Walker and Matthews to shoot and kill Victim One.

Galati provided Walker and Matthews with several addresses associated with Victim One, including an address in the vicinity of Broad and Snyder streets in Philadelphia. In November 2013, in an attempt to find and kill Victim One, Johnson took Walker and another individual to Victim One’s home in Philadelphia.  Finding the home empty, the other individual broke into Victim One’s home and vandalized it while Walker waited outside.

On Nov. 29, 2013, Johnson gave Matthews a Colt .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun.  The next day, Johnson telephoned Walker and Matthews and arranged to meet them. At some point Galati called Johnson and told him that Victim One was in New Jersey. Johnson drove Walker and Matthews to Atlantic City and told them if there was a woman with Victim One, she was not to be harmed. While in Johnson’s vehicle, Matthews gave Walker the handgun he received from Johnson the day before. Johnson then dropped Walker and Matthews off around the corner from Victim One’s home.

When Victim One and a woman came out of a house, Walker and Matthews approached them and Walker shot Victim One with the Colt .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun, striking Victim One multiple times. The victim survived the shooting.

The count of conspiracy to commit murder for hire (Count 1) and the murder-for-hire count (Count 3) each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  The count of conspiracy to possess and use a firearm during a crime of violence (Count 2) carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The count of aiding and abetting the possession and use of firearm during a crime of violence (Count 4) carries a mandatory minimum consecutive prison sentence of 10 years and maximum of life and a $250,000 fine.

The additional counts with which Johnson is charged, knowingly transporting a firearm for use during the commission of a felony (Count 5), knowingly transferring a firearm for use in a crime of violence (Count 6) and being a previously convicted felon in possession of a firearm (Count 7), each carry a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

On March 17, 2014, Matthews and Walker pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez to a three-count information charging them with conspiracy to use interstate commerce facilities in the commission of a murder for hire; use of a firearm, and aiding and abetting the use of a firearm, in furtherance of a crime of violence, and with being a previously convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Matthews’ and Walker’s sentencings are schedule for June 30, 2014.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford; special agents of the ATF, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robin Shoemaker; and detectives of the Atlantic City Police Department, under the direction of Chief Henry White, for the investigation the case. He also thanked the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney R. Seth Williams, detectives of the Philadelphia Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Charles Ramsey; and troopers of the Pennsylvania State Police, under the direction of Commissioner Frank Noonan, for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason M. Richardson and Matthew T. Smith of the U.S. Attorney's Office Criminal Division in Camden.

Review Of PBS' "Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, The Last Outlaws"

Gerald D. Swick, my friend and former editor at, offers a review of the PBS documentary Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the Last Outlaws for

If you are one of the millions who loves the 1969 movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, you owe it to yourself to watch the one-hour American Experience documentary, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Last Outlaws. It fills in a good bit of information and provides a deeper appreciation for what the movie got right historically within an entertainment medium. The gregarious Cassidy and taciturn Sundance of the 1969 film reflect the true personalities of the two, for example.

The American Experience documentary sets the scene effectively within the opening minutes. The story begins with the Wilcox Robbery, when Butch's gang used too much dynamite and blew a safe in a railroad mail car into the middle of next week. That robbery is what made Butch famous, but as the narration points out, he and the outlaw gang he led, the Wild Bunch, was operating at the end of an era. The railroads had become determined to put an end to holdups, and the dogged pursuit that followed the Wilcox Robbery sent Butch and Sundance to South America and, ultimately, to their doom.

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

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Barrio Azteca Lieutenant Who Ordered the Consulate Murders in Ciudad Juarez Sentenced to Life in Prison

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

Arturo Gallegos Castrellon, aka “Benny,” “Farmero,” “51,” “Guero,” “Pecas,” “Tury,” and “86,” 35, of Chihuahua, Mexico, the Barrio Azteca Lieutenant who ordered the March 2010 murders of a U.S. Consulate employee, her husband and the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee, was sentenced today to serve life in prison.

Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman for the Western District of Texas, Special Agent in Charge Douglas E. Lindquist of the FBI’s El Paso Division and Administrator Michele M. Leonhart of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made the announcement.

Arturo Gallegos Castrellon led the teams of assassins who carried out the U.S. Consulate shootings in March 2010 and ruthlessly murdered nearly 1,600 others as part of a cartel conflict over a drug trafficking route from Mexico into the United States,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General O’Neil.   “His gang of killers terrorized and victimized men and women on both sides of the border, but thanks to the hard work of our law enforcement partners he will now spend the rest of his life in prison for his crimes.”

“I cannot overstate the significance of this victory in our ongoing efforts to end the depredations of the cartels operating along our Southern border,” said U.S. Attorney Pitman.  “This prosecution has called to account Arturo Gallegos Castrellon for the senseless murders he orchestrated in Ciudad Juarez and elsewhere and demonstrates our commitment to ending the murder and mayhem he and the cartels have fomented.”

“The DEA is committed to ensuring cold-blooded criminals, like Arturo Gallegos Castrellon, who murder innocent victims, traffic huge amounts of drugs worldwide, and incite violence are taken off the street and remain behind bars,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart.  “Castrellon’s conviction and life sentence is a clear sign that the DEA, along with our law enforcement partners, will not tolerate those who attack Americans abroad and is committed to upholding the rule of law, protecting our citizens, and bringing to justice the world’s worst criminals.”

Today’s sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone in the Western District of Texas.   In addition, Judge Cardone ordered Gallegos Castrellon to pay $998,840 in restitution and $785,500 in forfeiture.

After his extradition from Mexico on June 28, 2012, a federal jury found Gallegos Castrellon guilty of six counts of murder and conspiracies to commit racketeering, narcotics trafficking, narcotics importation, murder in a foreign country and money laundering.

Evidence at trial proved that Gallegos Castrellon was a leader in the Barrio Azteca (BA), a violent street and prison gang that began in the late 1980s and expanded into a transnational criminal organization.   The BA formed an alliance with “La Linea,” part of the Juarez Drug Cartel, which is also known as the Vincente Carrillo Fuentes Drug Cartel (VCF).   The purpose of the BA-La Linea alliance was to battle the Sinaloa Cartel and its allies for control of the drug trafficking route through Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.   The drug route through Juarez, known as the Juarez Plaza, is important to drug trafficking organizations because it is a principal illicit drug trafficking route into the United States.

Evidence at trial also proved that Gallegos Castrellon was in charge of BA teams of assassins, which he helped create and supervised in 2008 through 2010.   His teams killed up to 800 persons between January and August 2010, reaching a total of nearly 1,600 in a multi-year period.

Trial evidence also proved that Gallegos Castrellon ordered the March 13, 2010, triple homicide in Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, of U.S. Consulate employee Leslie Enriquez, her husband Arthur Redelfs, and Jorge Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee.

A total of 35 defendants were charged in the third superseding indictment and are alleged to have committed various criminal acts, including the 2010 Juarez Consulate murders, as well as racketeering, narcotics distribution and importation, retaliation against persons providing information to U.S. law enforcement, extortion, money laundering, murder and obstruction of justice.  Of the 35 defendants charged, 26 have been convicted, one committed suicide before the conclusion of his trial, and two remain fugitives, including Eduardo Ravelo, an FBI Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitive.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s El Paso Field Office, Albuquerque Field Office (Las Cruces Resident Agency), DEA Juarez, and DEA El Paso. Special assistance was provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the Federal Bureau of Prisons; the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service; the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; the El Paso Police Department; the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office; the El Paso Independent School District Police Department; the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission; the New Mexico State Police; the Dona Ana County, N.M., Sheriff’s Office; the Las Cruces, N.M., Police Department; the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility and the Otero County Prison Facility New Mexico.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Joseph A. Cooley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, Trial Attorney Brian Skaret of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Gibson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Texas - El Paso Division.   Valuable assistance was provided by the Criminal Division’s Offices of International Affairs and Enforcement Operations. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

FBI Seeking Information In International Child Exploitation Case

The FBI released the below information:

The FBI is asking for the public’s help to identify victims of a suspected serial child predator who taught in private American schools overseas in nine different countries beginning in 1972 and whose young victims—believed to be boys between the ages of 12 and 14—may be unaware of what happened to them.

William James Vahey, a 64-year-old U.S. citizen who was jailed in California in 1969 for child molestation, committed suicide last month days after his employer saw a thumb drive belonging to him that contained pornographic images of boys who were likely drugged. At the time, Vahey was teaching ninth-grade world history and geography at the American Nicaraguan School in Managua.

When confronted about the images by a school administrator, Vahey confessed that he was molested as a child and had preyed on boys his entire life, giving them sleeping pills prior to the molestation.
The thumb drive contained sexually graphic images of at least 90 victims, according to Special Agent Patrick Fransen.

The photographs were cataloged with dates and locations that corresponded to Vahey’s overnight field trips with students beginning in 2008. However, the investigation has revealed that Vahey accompanied students on similar trips throughout his career.

Fransen, a 16-year FBI veteran who specializes in crimes against children, noted that Vahey had been teaching at American schools overseas since the 1970s. “I’m concerned that he may have preyed on many other students prior to 2008,” he said. “I’ve never seen another case where an individual may have molested this many children over such a long period of time.”

At this point in the investigation, photographed victims are being identified and notified. Those who believe they may have been victims are being encouraged to come forward—not only to aid investigators but potentially to seek services through our Office for Victim Assistance.

A confidential questionnaire is available for anyone who thinks they may have been victimized by Vahey or who may have information about his predatory behavior.

In addition to teaching, Vahey coached boys’ basketball teams at several of the schools where he taught. The popular and highly respected teacher regularly organized overnight field trips and coordinated itineraries that included boys’ room assignments.

“He had access to children because of his position of trust,” Fransen said. “He created a system that gave him the opportunity and the means to molest children. The manner in which he committed these acts—while the boys were unconscious—may have inhibited them from knowing what happened, making it impossible for them to come forward at the time of the molestation.”

By his own admission, Vahey used sleeping pills to drug his victims, but investigators want to learn more about his methods and what drugs he may have used. They are hopeful the public can assist them.

Vahey traveled extensively over the past four decades, teaching at American schools in Nicaragua, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Iran, Spain, and Lebanon. His victims are multinational. In addition to foreign nationals, the schools were attended by the children of American diplomats, military personnel stationed overseas, and other American citizens working abroad.

As the investigation unfolds, the FBI continues to work with our international partners in the affected countries through our legal attaché offices and the U.S. Department of State. “At this time, investigators have no knowledge that Vahey shared or traded any of the pornographic material he made,” Fransen said. “But his suicide left a lot more questions unanswered than answered.”

Philadelphia Man, Known As "King Kobra," Convicted of Sex Trafficking

The U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of PA, released the below information:

PHILADELPHIA—A federal jury today returned guilty verdicts against Rahim McIntyre, 36, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who was charged with three counts of sex trafficking.

McIntyre, a/k/a “King Kobra,” caused Internet advertisements to be created in which he advertised various females as available for purchase for purposes of prostitution. The advertisements featured pictures of the females, scantily clad; a description of each female; and a phone number to call to arrange a meeting with a female employed by McIntyre as a prostitute.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 21, 2014. The defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of life imprisonment, with a minimum mandatory of 15 years, a $750,000 fine, five years up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a $300 special assessment.

McIntyre’s brother, Rashaad McIntyre, was charged in December 2012 with sex trafficking of minors and production of child pornography. He pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Intelligence Center and the Philadelphia First Judicial Court Warrant Unit. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Morgan.

Pennsylvania Firm and Chief Officer Charged with Shipping Machinery to Iran in Violation of U.S. Export License Requirements

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

A criminal information has been filed against a Pennsylvania firm and its chief officer, charging them with conspiracy to evade export reporting requirements and with attempting to smuggle to Iran a lathe machine in violation of U.S. export regulations.   The announcement was made today by the U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Charged in the Criminal Information were Hetran Inc., an engineering and manufacturing plant in Orwigsburg, Pa., and its chief executive officer, Helmut Oertmann.   At the same time, an indictment was unsealed that had previously been voted by a federal grand jury in Harrisburg in December 2012 against three Iranians and two Iranian firms connected with the criminal scheme: Mujahid Ali, Khosrow Kasraei, Reza Ghoreishi, FIMCO FZE, and Crescent International Trade and Services FZE.

Also charged was Suniel Malhotra, an Indian national, an overseas sales representative for Hetran Inc.

According to U.S. Attorney Peter Smith, Hetran allegedly manufactured a horizontal lathe, also described as a bar peeling machine (peeler), valued at more than $800,000 and weighing in excess of 50,000 pounds.   A horizontal lathe, or peeling machine, is used in the production of high grade steel or bright steel,” a product used, among other things, in the manufacture of automobile and aircraft parts.

On or about June 2009, Hetran was allegedly contacted by representatives of FIMCO, an Iranian company with offices in Iran and the United Arab Emirates, and Crescent International, an affiliated company based in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.  FIMCO allegedly wanted to purchase the peeler.  During negotiations, it became apparent that the peeler was intended for shipment to Iran.  American companies are forbidden to ship “dual use” items (such as the peeler) to Iran without first obtaining a license from the U.S. Department of Commerce.  Aware that it was unlikely that such a license would be granted, Hetran, Helmut Oertmann and other co-conspirators agreed to falsely state on the shipping documents that the end-user of the peeler was Crescent International in Dubai.On June 17, 2012, Hetran allegedly caused the peeling machine to be shipped to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, fraudulently listing Crescent International in Dubai as the end-user, knowing that the shipment was ultimately being sent to Iran in violation of federal law.

Hetran is charged with conspiring to violate the export laws of the United States, and is subject to a sentence of up to $1,000,000.  Helmut Oertmann, charged with attempting to smuggle goods from the United States to Iran, faces a potential penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 5 years supervised release.  The Iranian and Indian defendants are charged with conspiring to violate and with attempting to violate the export laws of the United States, each carrying potential penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 5 years supervised release for the individual defendants and a $1,000,000 fine for each corporate defendant.

The case was investigated by the Office of Export Enforcement of the U.S. Department of Commerce.  The prosecution is being coordinated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christy Fawcett and Senior Litigation Counsel Gordon Zubrod and is being overseen by the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Indictments and criminal informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

In this case, the maximum penalty under the federal statute is 10 years imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs.  For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

Genovese, Costello and Anastasia: The Decline And Fall Of the American Mafia

Jim Zirin at offers a piece on the organized crime meeting at Apalachin, New York.

This year marks the 55th anniversary of the trial in the infamous mobster conspiracy case, United States v. Bufalino, known as the “Apalachin affair,” a case that prosecutors won before a jury, and lost on appeal.  The case involved 20 of the more than 60 mobsters who attended a summit meeting of the American Mafia on November 14, 1957 at the 130-acre estate of boss “Joe the Barber” Barbera in Apalachin, New York. The meeting, which became a scene in Mario Puzo’s Godfather, occurred in Apalachin, a sleepy hamlet along the south shore of the Susquehanna River about 145 miles northwest of New York City. The jury must have wondered why anyone would go there.

Before the meeting could get off the ground, state police and federal agents raided Barbera’s home. At the time, no one knew what was on the bill of fare. There was no evidence at trial of the purpose of the meeting or that there was anything improper or illegal about it.

The government charged the Apalachin 20 with conspiracy to obstruct justice by giving similarly false and evasive answers before the grand jury as to the nature of the meeting.  The defendants, many of whom were festooned in Italian tailor-made suits, drove expensive cars and had come long distances to attend the meeting, were apprehended as they tried to escape the house into the nearby woods, which police found strewn with newly printed hundred dollar bills.

No one at the trial was permitted to say the word “Mafia,” as it was deemed too prejudicial. Still, the jury must have known that sitting in the well of the courtroom before them was an underworld stew of evil. The guest list at the Barberas that evening read like a mobster “social register.” Among those in attendance were notorious gangsters Don Vito Genovese, the kingpin of the mob, Carlo Gambino, Joe Profaci and Joseph “Joe Bananas” Bonnano.  Questioned by police, virtually all of them claimed that they had visited the house from such far-flung locations as Buffalo, Rochester, Dallas, Denver and Los Angeles because they heard Barbera was not feeling well.  Anther claimed he had visited the house to deliver fish.

Although at least 50 men managed to escape into the woods outside Barbera’s house, state troopers and federal agents successfully arrested another 58.  State Trooper Edgar Croswell, a real life Inspector Javert who had been channeling Barbera for about a year, headed the raiding party.

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

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Semper Paratus, "Always Ready": A Look At The Role Of The U.S. Coast Guard

Back in 2004 I wrote a piece on the role of the U.S. Coast Guard for Counterterrorism magazine.

You can read the piece above and below:

Charlton Heston Honored With U.S. Postage Stamp

Last week Paul Bond at the Hollywood Reporter offered a piece on the ceremony honoring actor and activist Charlton Heston with a U.S. stamp.

Charlton Heston, the movie star, political activist and former head of the National Rifle Association, got his own postage stamp on Friday, unveiled at a ceremony at the historic Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Burglary: The Discovery Of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a fine review of Betty Medsger's The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI in the Washington Times.

During his troubled last years, even friends of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover would confide — sotto voce, to be sure — that “the Old Man” was past his prime and should leave office. The complaints were that decades of wielding autocratic power had stripped Hoover of sound judgment to the point where he felt he could do no wrong. Such was what I heard from two men who had held the rank of assistant director, and who admired Hoover's service to law enforcement.

Long despised by the left — the hostility went both ways, to be sure — Hoover gave his enemies the “smoking gun” they long sought when bold anti-war activists broke into an FBI office in the Philadelphia suburb of Media the night of March 8, 1971. They chose an evening when the nation’s attention was sure to be focused elsewhere — on a long-anticipated boxing match between Joe Frazier, a supporter of the Vietnam War, and Muhammad Ali, a convicted draft dodger.

Working with the skills of professional burglars, the activists stripped the office of every file in sight and hauled them off to a farm in upstate Pennsylvania for examination. Of the thousands of stolen documents, perhaps the most explosive was a 1970 memorandum directing agents to increase their interviews of antiwar activists and other dissident groups.

The key sentence read, “It will enhance the paranoia endemic in these circles and will further serve to get the point across there is an FBI agent behind every mailbox.”

... Yet Ms. Medsger skirts around an ugly underside to the “New Left” that caused Hoover's reaction, excessive though it might have been. Consider bombings, both of government buildings (including universities) and private businesses. In his 2011 book, “MH/CHAOS: The CIA’S Campaign Against the Radical New Left and the Black Panthers,” the veteran counterintelligence officer Frank Rafalko devoted 46 pages to listing 943 instances of bombing from January 1969 to July 1970, several of which killed innocent persons.

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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cruising the Caribbean Aboard The Explorer Of The Seas

I've not posted anything in a while as I was offline while cruising the Caribbean aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Explorer of the Seas (seen in the above photo).

Along with my beautiful wife and our good friends, we left Cape Liberty, New Jersey on April 10th and sailed down the East Coast and off to our first port-of-call in Bermuda.

We visited Bermuda aboard the Explorer of the Seas in 2012 and it was good to see the beautiful  island again and we once again visited the beach at Horseshoe Bay (seen in the below photo).

We went on to visit Philipsburg, St Maarten, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the best port-of-call was last, Labadee, Haiti.

We enjoyed touring Old and New San Juan, as well as Castillo de San Cristobal, the fort the Spanish began to build in 1634 in San Juan and took nearly 150 years to complete. The fort was still active in World War II and the U.S. Army turned it over to the National Park Service in 1961.

Below are three photos of the fort:

And below is a photo of our stateroom and a photo of the sea from the ship's rail:

And below is a photo of the ship at Labadee, Haiti:

We had a wonderful time with our good friends and it was a fine cruise.

I'll post more on the trip at a later time.

Note: You can click on photos to enlarge.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

John Wayne: 10 Things You Might Know About The Great Man

Martin Chilton at the British newspaper the Telegraph offers 10 things he learned from Scott Eyman's new biography of the late, great John Wayne.

John Wayne, who made 162 feature films, was one of the 20th century's biggest Hollywood stars. Here are 10 things we learned about the Oscar-winning actor from an impressive new biography by Scott Eyman.

• John Wayne cheated at chess

John Wayne was actually very good at chess (film director and experienced player Josef von Sternberg "was livid" when beaten by Wayne) and the actor had a chessboard permanently set up on his 136ft boat, The Wild Goose. Wayne once said of fellow actor Rock Hudson: "Who the hell cares if he's queer? The man plays great chess." Wayne repeatedly cheated when playing chess against Robert Mitchum (Wayne had huge hands and would carefully slide a piece into a different position as he made a separate move) and Mitchum eventually plucked up the courage to tell him he was cheating. Wayne replied "I was wondering when you were going to say something. Set 'em up, we'll play again."   

• He loved literature

Wayne liked the novels of Agatha Christie but his two favourite books were written by Arthur Conan Doyle and both are historical novels – The White Company (1891) and Sir Nigel (1906) – both set during the Hundred Years' War. Wayne was also a fan of Charles Dickens and if the actor agreed to a business deal, he would always say "Barkis is willing!", a phrase used by Mr Barkis when he tells David Copperfield that he is ready to marry Peggotty.

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

You can also read a review of the John Wayne biography via the below link:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Review Of "John Wayne: The Life And Legend"

John R. Coyne Jr. offers a good review of Scott Eyman's John Wayne: The Life and Legend for the Washington Times.

Before graduation, these were the three high points of Marine boot camp at Parris Island, as I remember them: qualifying at the rifle range, being told by our drill instructor that we had earned the right to be called Marines, and being marched to the outdoor theater to watch John Wayne as Sergeant Stryker in “Sands of Iwo Jima.”

...The great strength of Mr. Eyman's book derives from the strength of its subject, for a quarter of a century one of Hollywood’s top-10 box-office stars. While many of the most celebrated of his contemporaries have faded into late-late-show nirvana, the man we know as John Wayne, from cinematic birth in “Stagecoach” to an appropriate death in “The Shootist,” remains with us as a symbol of something more, something buried deep in our national DNA.

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

Philadelphia Man Pleads Guilty in Multi-Million-Dollar Mortgage Fraud Scheme

The U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsyvania, released the below information:

PHILADELPHIA—Eric Sijohn Brown, 46, of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty today to 20 counts in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme involving KREW Settlement Services. Brown pleaded guilty to conspiracy, two counts of FHA loan fraud, 12 counts of loan fraud, and three counts of tax evasion. Between May 2004 and February 2009, Brown and his co-conspirators inflated purchase prices on loan documents for more than 100 Philadelphia properties, resulting in more than $20 million in fraudulent loan proceeds.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 8, 2014. Brown faces a maximum possible sentence of 486 years in prison, including a mandatory two year term, five years of supervised release, a fine of up to $15 million, and $2,000 special assessment. A forfeiture notice was also filed seeking more than $13.7 million from all defendants.

KREW As alleged in the indictment, KREW is an acronym of the first names of Kevin Joseph Franklin, Roderick L. Foxworth, Sr., Eric Sijohn Brown, and Walter Alston Brown, Jr. Settlement Services was a Philadelphia real estate settlement company, and Brown was a general contractor who worked with his co-defendants to identify distressed properties to purchase, typically in the West Philadelphia area.

The scheme involved recruiting straw buyers whose credit history and personal information was used to purchase the properties, obtain mortgage loans, and take title to the properties, when, in reality, the properties were owned and controlled by the defendants. Mortgage loan applications were then prepared in the names of the straw buyers containing a host of false information, including false purchase prices, false employment and income information, and false statements about the straw buyers living in the properties. Mortgage brokers—including Roderick Foxworth, Walter Brown, and John William Polosky (charged separately in the Western District of Pennsylvania)—allegedly submitted the fraudulent loan applications to lenders to secure the loans for the buyers, knowing that the information was false.

Charged with Brown were Roderick L. Foxworth, Sr., Cynthia Evette Brown, Walter Alston Brown, Jr., and Kevin Joseph Franklin. Cynthia Brown is alleged to have falsely verified that many of the straw buyers worked for her employer, Unicco Service Company, when they did not. Kevin Joseph Franklin, a title agent, is alleged to have falsely prepared two deeds and settlement statements (referred to as Form HUD-1)—one for the seller that showed the actual agreed-upon purchase price and a false one for the lender that showed the grossly inflated purchase price. Franklin is also alleged to have created false title insurance policies for the lenders.

After the loans funded, the seller was paid the agreed-upon purchase price, and the difference between the actual purchase price and the false purchase price quoted to the lender was shared with and distributed by Franklin to Eric Brown, Foxworth, Walter Brown, and Cynthia Brown, and many of these payments were not reflected on the HUD-1 forms.

In addition to the five defendants charged with Brown and the three defendants charged by the Western District of Pennsylvania, seven defendants were charged by information.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael S. Lowe.