Sunday, November 30, 2014

Former Member of 'French Connection' Heroin Ring Awaits Sentencing For 2012 Bust offers a piece on a drug dealer who has ties back to the 'French Connection' case covered in Robin Moore's true crime book and the film with Gene Hackman.

Alfred Catino's criminal record is a colorful history of drug dealing and prison sentences dating back to the 1960s, when federal authorities say he was part of the French Connection heroin smuggling ring that spawned an Oscar-winning movie of the same name.

Catino's illicit career took him from the streets of the Bronx in New York City to France to Connecticut's Gold Coast, where he soon will be sentenced for his role in yet another drug operation.

Law enforcement officials had no idea about Catino's history when they arrested him, said Brian Boyle, an assistant special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

"Once we ran some checks on him, it was surprising," Boyle said. "He had some connections a while back to the French Connection case, and then he surfaces here."

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

Happy Birthday To Mark Twain

As notes, today is Mark Twain's birthday.

Born on November 30, 1835, in Florida, Missouri, Samuel L. Clemens wrote under the pen name Mark Twain and went on to pen several novels, including two major classics of American literature, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He was also a riverboat pilot, journalist, lecturer, entrepreneur and inventor. Twain died on April 21, 1910, in Redding, Connecticut.

You can read the rest of the piece and watch a video clip via the below link: 

Note: You can also read my old South Philadelphia American column on visiting Mark Twain's house in Hartford via the below link:

Where James Bond Was Born: London's Most Literary House

Christopher Middletown at the British newspaper the Telegraph offers a piece on Carlyle Mansions, London's most literary house.

Carlyle Mansions is known locally as The Writers’ Block, and this handsome, red-brick building has a long and distinguished list of literary luminaries who have lived there. Everyone from Ian Fleming (No 24) to T S Eliot (No  19), from Henry James (No 21) to Somerset Maugham (No 27).
Practically every well-known late 19th-century or early 20th-century author has been here – apart from the man after whom the flats are named.
For by the time the final cornerstone was completed, in 1886, the historian and philosopher Thomas Carlyle had been dead for five years. 

... As property historian Melanie Backe-Hansen notes: “Many of the famous creators lived here when they were unknown and didn’t have a penny.”

Or at least they weren’t yet the famous names they went on to become. Fleming (below) is said to have begun writing Casino Royale, in 1952, to distract himself from his forthcoming wedding. The manuscript was typed out by two women, one of whom was his red-haired secretary, said to be the model for Miss Moneypenny.

Arguably, some of the finest works in the English language were created at Carlyle Mansions: it was here that T S Eliot (below) wrote his play The Cocktail Party, and Henry James wrote The Portrait of a Lady.

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

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Philly Cops Coined The Term 'Black Friday'

Nick Vadala at offers a piece on the term 'Black Friday,' which was coined by the Philadelphia police.

As you leave your home in a post-Thanksgiving haze to go forth and spend hard-earned dollars on what ostensibly are deep, deep discounts on popular consumer goods today — the dreaded Black Friday — please remember one thing: It all started right here. 
Well, calling it "Black Friday," anyway.
Temple University professor and psychologist Frank Farley recently spoke with NBC about the naming of what now is a sort of national holiday in its own right, saying that we have Philly cops to thank for the term. 
"Back in the 1930s, there was the Army-Navy game on Saturday," he told NBC. "The day before, people are rushing into Philly; the police are overwhelmed, and the idea of this day is just a very, very bad day for the cops. It became labeled 'Black Friday' by the police."

You can read the rest of the piece and watch a video via the below link:

Friday, November 28, 2014

PD James, Queen Of Crime Fiction, Dies Aged 94

The British newspaper the Guardian offers an obituary of crime writer PD James.

The writer PD James, who charted the transformations of British life through bestselling crime fiction starring the detective Adam Dalgliesh, has died aged 94. Her publisher Faber and Faber confirmed that she had died peacefully at home in Oxford on Thursday morning.

Her debut novel, Cover Her Face, was snapped up by the first publisher to set eyes on the manuscript, launching a career that advanced in parallel with that of her fictional police officer, Chief Inspector Dalgliesh. As he found himself promoted to superintendent and then to commander, so James accumulated a host of awards including the Crime Writer's Association's Diamond Dagger and the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster award. Many of the Dalgliesh novels were subsequently filmed for television, with Roy Marsden taking the role of the investigator.

James also won a good number of public honours, eventually finding herself elevated to the House of Lords in 1991, where she sat with the Conservatives.  

You can read the rest of the obit and watch a video interview of the British crime writer on her 90th birthday via the below link:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Recipe For U.S. Sailor

Been there, done that...

Note: You can click on the photo to enlarge.

Happy Thanksgiving To All, Especially To Our Men And Woman In Uniform

In the above U.S. Army released photo Army Lt. Col. Tandy Brown, center, commander of the 7th Special Forces Group, serves a soldier and his daughters during a Thanksgiving Day meal on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

The photo was taken by Sgt. Stephen Young.  

Russia, China, Iran, Islamists Waging Unconventional Warfare, Says U.S. Army Special Operations Command Report

Veteran national security reporter Bill Gertz at the Washington Free Beacon offers a piece on a U.S. Army Special Operations Command report on our adversaries waging political warfare.

Russia, China, Iran, and Islamists are waging unconventional warfare around the world, and the United States currently lacks a clear strategy to counter the threat, according to a recent report by the Army Special Operations Command.

“This challenge is hybrid warfare combining conventional, irregular, and asymmetric means, to include the persistent manipulation of political and ideological conflict,” states the Army white paper, “Countering Unconventional Warfare.”

“Foreshadowed by Iranian actions throughout the Middle East, and by Chinese ‘unrestricted warfare’ strategists in the 1990s, hybrid warfare has now reached its most brazen form in Russia’s support for separatist insurgents in Ukraine.”

The 48-page white paper, published Sept. 26 by the Fort Bragg, North Carolina command, urges building new, non-kinetic warfare tools into a comprehensive U.S. and allied strategy.

You can read the rest of the piece, and link to the white paper, via the below link:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Ferguson Shooting: The Inconvenient (And Tragic) Truths

Rich Lowry offers a column in the New York Post on the facts concerning the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

The bitter irony of the Michael Brown case is that if he had actually put his hands up and said don’t shoot, he would almost certainly be alive today.

His family would have been spared an unspeakable loss, and Ferguson, Mo., wouldn’t have experienced multiple bouts of rioting, including the torching of at least a dozen businesses the night it was announced that Officer Darren Wilson wouldn’t be charged with a crime.

Instead, the credible evidence suggests that Michael Brown — after a petty act of robbery at a local business — attacked Wilson when the officer stopped him on the street. Brown punched Wilson when the officer was still in his patrol car and attempted to take his gun from him.

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In The Line Of Duty: FBI's Law Enforcement Officers Killed And Assaulted, 2013 Report Released

The FBI released the below announcement on Monday:

According to statistics collected by the FBI, 76 law enforcement officers were killed in line-of-duty incidents in 2013. Of these, 27 law enforcement officers died as a result of felonious acts, and 49 officers died in accidents. In addition, 49,851 officers were victims of line-of-duty assaults.

Comprehensive data tables about these incidents and brief narratives describing the fatal attacks and selected assaults resulting in injury are included in the 2013 edition of Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, released today.

Felonious Deaths

The 27 felonious deaths occurred in 16 states. The number of officers killed as a result of criminal acts in 2013 decreased by 22 when compared with the 49 officers who were feloniously killed in 2012. The five- and 10-year comparisons show a decrease of 21 felonious deaths compared with the 2009 figure (48 officers) and a decrease of 30 deaths compared with 2004 data (57 officers).

Officer Profiles: The average age of the officers who were feloniously killed was 39 years. The victim officers had served in law enforcement for an average of 13 years at the time of the fatal incidents. Twenty-five of the officers were male, and two were female. Twenty-five of the officers were white, and two were black.

Circumstances: Of the 27 officers feloniously killed, six were killed in arrest situations, five were investigating suspicious persons or circumstances, five were ambushed, four were involved in tactical situations, four were answering disturbance calls, and two were conducting traffic pursuits/stops. One was conducting an investigative activity, such as surveillance, a search, or an interview.

Weapons: Offenders used firearms to kill 26 of the 27 victim officers. Of these 26 officers, 18 were slain with handguns, five with rifles, and three with shotguns. One officer was killed with a vehicle used as a weapon.

Regions: Fifteen of the felonious deaths occurred in the South, six in the West, four in the Midwest, and two in the Northeast.

Suspects: Law enforcement agencies identified 28 alleged assailants in connection with the felonious line-of-duty deaths. Twenty of the assailants had prior criminal arrests, and six of the offenders were under judicial supervision at the time of the felonious incidents.

Accidental Deaths

Forty-nine law enforcement officers were killed accidentally while performing their duties in 2013. The majority (23 officers) were killed in automobile accidents. The number of accidental line-of-duty deaths increased by one from the 2012 total (48 officers).

Officer Profiles: The average age of the officers who were accidentally killed was 41 years; the average number of years the victim officers had served in law enforcement was 13. All 49 of the officers were male. Forty-one of the officers were white, six were black, and race was not reported for two officers.

Circumstances: Of the 49 officers accidentally killed, 23 died as a result of automobile accidents, nine were struck by vehicles, four officers died in motorcycle accidents, four officers were killed in falls, two were accidentally shot, two drowned, one died in an aircraft accident, and four officers died in other types of duty-related accidents. Seatbelt usage was reported for 22 of the 23 officers killed in automobile accidents. Of these, 14 officers were not wearing seatbelts, three of whom were seated in parked patrol vehicles. Eight officers were wearing their seatbelts at the times of the accidents.

Regions: Thirty-one of the accidental deaths occurred in the South, nine in the West, five in the Northeast, and 4 in the Midwest.


In 2013, of the 49,851 officers assaulted while performing their duties, 29.2 percent were injured. The largest percentage of victim officers (31.2 percent) were assaulted while responding to disturbance calls. Assailants used personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.) in 79.8 percent of the incidents, firearms in 4.5 percent of incidents, and knives or other cutting instruments in 1.8 percent of the incidents. Other types of dangerous weapons were used in 13.9 percent of assaults. Expanded assault details have been included in the 2013 publication. Data for assaults during which officers were injured with firearms or knives/other cutting instruments are located in new tables, figures, and selected narratives.

'You're Too Much Of A Pussy To Shoot Me': Grand Jury Evidence Reveals How An 'Aggresive' Michael Brown Taunted Cop Darren Wilson Before He Was Shot Dead

The British newspaper the Daily Mail offers a piece on the Grand Jury decision not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown. The Daily Mail's  web site also offers some good photos and videos.

Explosive evidence heard by the grand jury in the Michael Brown case has been released following the panel's decision not to indict Fergusion police officer Darren Wilson. 

The evidence, unveiled by St Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, includes the testimony of 28-year-old Wilson after he fatally shot the unarmed black 18-year-old on August 9.

It also features never-before seen photos of the white officer's injuries, clothing and car - from which he fired two rounds at Brown - witness statements and more then 1,000 other legal documents.  

It comes just hours after after McCulloch announced the jury of seven men and five women found 'no probable cause exisits' to indict Wilson in the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.

In his testimony, the officer described the moment he shot Brown - minutes after the 'aggressive' teenager taunted him by saying 'You're too much of a f****** p***y to shoot me'.
You can read the rest of the piece and view the photos and videos via the below link:

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Guardian's 100 Best Novels: No. 62 - 'The Big Sleep' By Raymond Chandler (1939)

Robert McCrum at the British newspaper the Guardian offers a piece on Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, selected by the newspaper as number 62 in their 100 Best Novels series.

Enter Philip Marlowe, one of the great characters in the Anglo-American novel, a protagonist to rival and possibly surpass Sherlock Holmes. Marlowe holds the key to the enduring appeal of this novel and the six that followed. In 1951, Chandler told his publisher, “It begins to look as though I were tied to this fellow for life.”

Maybe he should not have been surprised. Chandler fully understood the archetypal fictional detective, and had been polishing the character for years. In The Simple Art of Murder (1950) he describes such a man in a famous passage:

“He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man… He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age talks, that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness.”

Chandler might have been describing Philip Marlowe, who made his debut in this first novel, after several appearances in Chandler’s pulp fiction stories. He once observed of his celebrated style: “I’m an intellectual snob who happens to have a fondness for the American vernacular, largely because I grew up on Latin and Greek.”

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

You can also read my Crime Beat column on Raymond Chandler's influence on crime novels and crime films via the below link:
And you can read my interview with Tom Williams, who wrote a Raymond Chandler biography via the below link:

U.S. Southern Command Reaffirms Partnerships in Transnational Crime Fight

Michael Wimpish at the U.S. Southern Command offers the below piece:

MIAMI, Nov. 24, 2014 - The commander of U.S. Southern Command visited Belize, Guatemala and Honduras last week to reaffirm the U.S. military's commitment to helping Central American nations combat transnational criminal organizations.

At each stop in Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly held high-level meetings with top leaders and security officials to review their security situations, address current collaborative efforts to counter transnational criminal organizations and discuss future U.S. military support to bolster security capabilities.

The governments of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras have committed to taking on transnational crime syndicates and disrupting illicit networks that move drugs, weapons, money and people through the region and into the United States. Southcom officials said the nations are critical allies in the international fight against transnational organized crime, which threatens regional and U.S. security.

Illicit Trafficking Destabilizes Central America

The destabilizing effects of transnational criminal organizations' illicit trafficking activities have produced security challenges in Central America, officials said. The organized crime groups use their immense resources and power to intimidate communities and corrupt local governments to enable the flow of their lucrative illicit networks, they explained. U.S. military support falls under the U.S. government's comprehensive assistance to the region known as the Central American Regional Security Initiative.

The support includes training and assistance to improve maritime, aerial and land security efforts, information sharing, and the provision of equipment and technology. The United States also provides operational and detection and monitoring support in the form of Operation Martillo, a joint U.S., European, and Western Hemisphere partner-nation effort to disrupt transnational criminal activity in the coastal waters of Central America.

The U.S. military also works with other nations, most notably Colombia, which has vast experience in successfully combating narcoterrorists and reinstituting governance and the rule of law. As Southcom's commander, Kelly oversees all U.S. military operations and engagements in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Visit to Belize

During his Nov. 18 visit to Belize, Kelly met with Brig. Gen. David N. Jones, commander of the Belize Defense Force, and Rear Adm. John A. Borland, commander of the nation's coast guard, and discussed security challenges and future U.S. engagement. Kelly also met with U.S. Ambassador Carlos R. Moreno. Current Southcom engagements with Belize focus on improving its capabilities to counter transnational organized crime, participating in joint and multinational training exercises, and increasing capacity to conduct humanitarian and disaster relief missions. Kelly most recently visited Belize in September 2013.

Visit to Guatemala

Kelly arrived in Guatemala Nov. 19 and met with Defense Minister Maj. Gen. Manuel Augusto Lopez Ambrocio and Chief of Defense Carlos Eduardo Estrada Perez. The general also met with U.S. Ambassador Todd D. Robinson. Discussions focused on continued support and training for Guatemala's interagency task force, human rights efforts and future U.S. military engagement activities. Recent focus areas for Southcom's engagement with Guatemala include joint operations and planning, maritime security, information sharing, human rights, communications, logistics and peacekeeping. Kelly previously visited Guatemala in July.

Visit to Honduras Honduras was Kelly's last stop in Central America. He met with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, Chief of Defense Maj. Gen. Fredy Diaz, and U.S. Ambassador James Nealon. The leaders discussed continued U.S. support to Honduran counterdrug efforts, long-term security assistance and human rights issues. Ongoing U.S. military support to Honduras includes logistical support to Honduran counter trafficking operations, information sharing, training and multinational exercises and increasing capacity to conduct humanitarian and disaster relief missions.

This was Kelly's third visit to Honduras in 2014. He previously visited Honduras in February and June. The Honduran president also visited Southcom headquarters in August.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pass It On: FBI Warns Of Cyber Scammers Targeting Holiday Shoppers

The FBI released the below information:

In advance of the holiday season, the Birmingham FBI Field Office reminds shoppers to beware of cyber criminals and their aggressive and creative ways to steal money and personal information.

Scammers use many techniques to fool potential victims, including fraudulent auction sales, reshipping merchandise purchased with a stolen credit card, sale of fraudulent or stolen gift cards through auction sites at discounted prices, and phishing e-mails advertising brand name merchandise for bargain prices or e-mails promoting the sale of merchandise that ends up being a counterfeit product.

Fraudulent Classified Ads or Auction Sales

Internet criminals post classified ads or auctions for products they do not have. If you receive an auction product from a merchant or retail store rather than directly from the auction seller, the item may have been purchased with someone else’s stolen credit card number. Contact the merchant to verify the account used to pay for the item actually belongs to you.

Shoppers should be cautious and not provide credit card numbers, bank account numbers, or other financial information directly to the seller. Fraudulent sellers will use this information to purchase items for their scheme from the provided financial account. Always use a legitimate payment service to protect purchases.

Diligently check each seller’s rating and feedback along with their number of sales and the dates on which feedback was posted. Be wary of a seller with 100 percent positive feedback if they have a low total number of feedback postings and all feedback was posted around the same date and time.

Gift Card Scam

The safest way to purchase gift cards is directly from the merchant or authorized retail merchant. If the merchant discovers the card you received from another source or auction was initially obtained fraudulently, the merchant will deactivate the gift card number and it will not be honored to make purchases.

Phishing and Social Networking

Be leery of e-mails or text messages you receive indicating a problem or question regarding your financial accounts. In this scam, you are directed to follow a link or call the number provided in the message to update your account or correct the problem. The link actually directs the individual to a fraudulent website or message that appears legitimate; however, any personal information you provide, such as account number and personal identification number (PIN), will be stolen.

Another scam involves victims receiving an e-mail message directing the recipient to a spoofed website. A spoofed website is a fake site or copy of a real website that is designed to mislead the recipient into providing personal information.

Consumers are encouraged to beware of bargain e-mails advertising one day only promotions for recognized brands or websites. Fraudsters often use the hot items of the season to lure bargain hunters into providing credit card information. The old adage “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is” is a good barometer to use to legitimize e-mails.

Black Friday has traditionally been the “biggest shopping day of the year.” The Monday following Thanksgiving has more recently (2005) been labeled Cyber Monday, meaning the e-commerce industry endorses this special day to offer sales and promotions without interfering with the traditional way to shop. Scammers try to prey on Black Friday or Cyber Monday bargain hunters by advertising “one-day only” promotions from recognized brands. Consumers should be on the watch for too good to be true e-mails from unrecognized websites.

Along with online shopping comes the growth of consumers using social networking sites and mobile phones to satisfy their shopping needs more easily. Again, consumers are encouraged to beware of e-mails, text messages, or postings that may lead to fraudulent sites offering bargains on brand name products.


Here are some tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud:
  • Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious of e-mails claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Always run a virus scan on attachment before opening.
  • Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
  • Always compare the link in the e-mail to the web address link you are directed to and determine if they match.
  • Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.
  • Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify that the e-mail is genuine.
  • If you are requested to act quickly or there is an emergency, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act impulsively.
  • If you receive a request for personal information from a business or financial institution, always look up the main contact information for the requesting company on an independent source (phone book, trusted Internet directory, legitimate billing statement, etc.) and use that contact information to verify the legitimacy of the request.
  • Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
To receive the latest information about cyber scams, please go to the FBI website and sign up for e-mail alerts by clicking the envelope in the upper right corner of the page. If you have received a scam e-mail, please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint at

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fired Philadelphia Narcotics Cop Covered In Pulitzer Price-Winning Newspaper Series 'Tainted Justice' And True Crime Book 'Busted' Gets His Job Back

David Gambacorta at the Philadelphia Daily News offers a piece on the reinstatement of a Philly cop who was fired.

In a decision that Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey called "disappointing," an arbitrator on Wednesday moved to reinstate fired Philadelphia narcotics cop Jeffrey Cujdik.

Ramsey booted Cujdik from the force in May, following a long-running Internal Affairs investigation into allegations that the veteran cop lied on search warrants and had an inappropriate relationship with an informant - and then lied about both to investigators. The allegations were first unearthed in the 2009 Daily News series "Tainted Justice."

The series, based on interviews with dozens of victims, detailed incidents of misconduct among a group of undercover narcotics officers, including phony search-warrant applications, the looting of bodegas and even sexual assault.

The city has paid out at least $1.7 million to settle 33 lawsuits filed by bodega owners and two women who said they'd been assaulted by a member of Cujdik's squad.

Federal and local probes of the officers were triggered by the Pulitzer Prize-winning series.

Ramsey said Thursday that the arbitration hearing centered on whether he had just cause to fire Cudjik.

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

You can also read my interview with the Daily News reporters who wrote the newspaper series and the book Busted via the below link:

Cybercom Chief Details U.S. Cyber Threats, Trends

Cheryl Pellerin at DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2014 - Cyber threats are real, hurting the nation and its allies and partners, costing hundreds of billions, and potentially leading to a catastrophic failure if not addressed, Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers told a House panel yesterday.

Rogers, the commander of U.S. Cyber Command, director of the National Security Agency and chief of the Central Security Service, testified before members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on advanced cybersecurity threats facing the United States.

Cyber Challenges 'Not Theoretical'

"There should be [no] doubt in anybody's mind that the cyber challenges we're talking about are not theoretical. This is something real that is impacting our nation and those of our allies and friends every day," Rogers said. Such incidents are costing hundreds of billions of dollars, leading to a reduced sense of security and potentially to "some truly significant, almost catastrophic failures if we don't take action," the admiral added.

In recent weeks, cyber-related incidents have struck the White House, the State Department, the U.S. Postal Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Defense Department, the U.S. Sentencing Commission and the U.S. Treasury also have had cyber intrusions. Sophisticated malware has been found on industrial control systems used to operate U.S. critical infrastructure, and other major intrusions have been reported by J.P. Morgan Chase, Target, Neiman Marcus, Michaels, Yahoo! Mail, AT&T, Google, Apple and many more companies.

Intrusions Seek to Acquire Capability

"We have ... observed intrusions into industrial control systems," Rogers said. "What concerns us is that ... capability can be used by nation-states, groups or individuals to take down" the capability of the control systems. And "we clearly are seeing instances where nation-states, groups and individuals are aggressively looking to acquire that capability," he added.

Rogers said his team thinks they're seeing reconnaissance by many actors to ensure they understand U.S. systems in advance of exploiting vulnerabilities in the control systems. "We see them attempting to steal information on how our systems are configured, the specific schematics of most of our control systems down to the engineering level of detail so they [see] ... the vulnerabilities, how they are constructed [and] how [to] get in and defeat them," the admiral said. "Those control systems are fundamental to how we work most of our infrastructure across this nation," Rogers added, "and it's not just the United States -- it's on a global basis."

Growth Areas of Vulnerability

When he's asked about coming trends, Rogers said, industry control systems and supervisory control and data acquisition systems, called SCADA systems, come to mind as "big growth areas of vulnerability and action that we're going to see in the coming 12 months." "It's among the things that concern me the most," he added, "because this will be truly destructive if someone decides that's what they want to do."

What it means, he said, is that malware is on some of those systems and attackers may already have the capability to flip a switch and disrupt the activity the switch controls. "Once you're into the system ... it enables you to do things like, if I want to tell power turbines to go offline and stop generating power, you can do that," he explained. "If I want to segment the transmission system so you couldn't distribute the power coming out of power stations, this would enable you to do that."

Criminals as Surrogates for Nation-states

The next trend Rogers sees near-term is for some criminal actors now stealing information designed to generate revenue to begin acting as surrogates for other groups or nations. "I'm watching nation-states attempt to obscure, if you will, their fingerprints," he said. "And one way to do that is to use surrogate groups to attempt to execute these things for you." That's one reason criminal actors are starting to use tools that only nation-states historically have used, the admiral said. "Now you're starting to see criminal gangs in some instances using those tools," he added, "which suggests to us that increasingly in some scenarios we're going to see more linkages between the nation-state and some of these groups. That's a troubling development for us."

Such activities across the cyberscape, he said, make it difficult for private-sector companies to try to defend themselves against rapidly changing threats.

A Legal Framework for Cyber Sharing

But before Cybercom can help commercial companies deal with cyber criminals and adversarial nation-states, Rogers said the command needs a legal framework "that enables us to rapidly share information, machine-to-machine and at machine speed, between the private sector and the government."

The framework, he added, must be fashioned in a way that provides liability protection for the corporate sector and addresses valid concerns about privacy and civil liberties. Such legislation has passed in the House but not in the Senate, and the Senate has created its own similar legislation that has not yet passed the full Senate.

Rogers says there are several ways Cybercom can share what it knows about malicious source code with the private sector so companies can protect their own networks, and assure Americans that NSA isn't collecting or using their personal information while sharing information with private companies.

What the Private Sector Needs

With private-sector companies, Cybercom and NSA must publicly "sit down and define just what elements of information we want to pass to each other," he said, specifying what the private sector needs and what the government needs, and also areas that neither wants to talk about. "I'm not in that private-sector network, therefore I am counting on the private sector to share with us," the admiral said. What he thinks the government owes the private sector is this -- Here are the specifics of the threats we think are coming at you. Here's what it's going to look like. Here's the precursor kinds of activities we think you're going to see before the actual attack. Here's the composition of the malware we think you're going to see. Here's how we think you can defeat it.

What Rogers says he's interested in learning from the private sector is this -- Tell me what you actually saw. Was the malware you detected written along the lines that we anticipated? Was it different and how was it different? When you responded to this, what worked for you and what didn't? How did you configure your networks? What was effective? What can we share with others so the insights of one come to the aid of many? "That's the kind of back-and-forth we need with each other," Rogers said, and legislation is the only thing that will make it happen.

Helping Defend Critical Infrastructure

Rogers says he tells his organization that he fully expects during his time as Cybercom commander to be tasked to help defend critical infrastructure in the United States because it is under attack by some foreign nation or some individual or group. "I say that because we see multiple nation-states and in some cases individuals in groups that have the capability to engage in this behavior," the admiral said, adding that the United States has seen this destructive behavior acted on and observed physical destruction within the corporate sector, although largely outside the nation's borders. "We have seen individuals, groups inside critical U.S. infrastructure. That suggests to us that this vulnerability is an area others want to exploit," the admiral said. "All of that leads me to believe it is only a matter of time when, not if, we are going to see something traumatic." Rogers says he's "pretty comfortable" that there is broad agreement and good delineation within the federal government as to who has what responsibilities if Cybercom is called on during a major cyberattack in the United States.

"The challenge to me is we've got to ... get down to the execution level of detail," he said. "I come from a military culture [which] teaches us to take those broad concepts and agreements and then you train and you exercise. And you do it over and over. That's what we've got to do next."

Note: The above U.S. Navy photo shows sailors assigned to the Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command. The photo was taken by Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua J. Wahl.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Spies, Sleepers And Hitmen: How The Soviet Union's KGB Never Went Away

Luke Harding at the Guardian offers an interesting piece on Russia's secret police.
Vladimir Putin was never an especially distinguished spy. In the 1980s, the KGB dispatched him not to a glamorous western capital but to provincial East Germany. It was here, in Dresden, that he sat out the collapse of the Soviet Union, an event that filled him with horror and rage.
For a brief moment in the 90s, the KGB – now re-branded as the FSB, the Federal Security Service – was on the back foot. Since becoming president in 2000, however, Putin has transformed Russia into a giant spy state. He has brought back many of the cold war espionage techniques he first learned as a young recruit in Leningrad’s KGB spy school. Not that they ever quite went away.

FSB spies are a paranoid, conspiratorial and deeply xenophobic bunch. They see themselves as the direct descendants of the Cheka, Lenin’s feared, terrifying secret police. They are obsessed, as in cold war times, with finding and defeating Russia’s “enemies”. Some of these so-called “enemies” are foreign, some are homegrown.

In the 70s, the KGB employed a wide repertoire of operational tricks. Typically, they would eavesdrop on western diplomats, harass British and American journalists (slashing the tyres of their cars was a favourite) and carry out break-ins and buggings. Writing about Soviet dissidents or Jewish emigration got you into trouble

When I got to Moscow in 2007 as the Guardian’s correspondent I was surprised to discover that such ancient KGB practices were back. For reasons that are still mysterious, the FSB decided that I was one of its enemies. Unpromising young men in black leather jackets trailed me round Moscow’s icy streets. This time, the reporting taboos were Putin’s money, top-level Kremlin corruption and the vicious war in the north Caucasus.

As well as demonstrative surveillance – always more Inspector Clouseau than John le Carré – Putin’s spies made it clear that they were listening to my calls. They pulled the plug, for example, whenever I made a joke about Russia’s president. Like other despots, Putin doesn’t have a sense of humour (though he can do sardonic repartee). 

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

Late Night Comic On Charles Manson's Future Prison Wedding

The late night comics offered their response to the news that Charles Manson will get married in prison.

Conan O'Brien:

I don't know if you know this but Hitler was a painter and one of his watercolor paintings is being auctioned off. It's expected to sell for over $60,000. So if you're looking for a wedding gift for Charles Manson .

Yes, Charles Manson is engaged. And his future mother-in-law says she approves of her daughter marrying Manson. She said Manson has very nice personalities.

David Letterman:
Charles Manson is marrying a woman in prison. Manson is 80 and his bride-to-be is 26 years old. He swept her right off her feet. It's probably because he carved a swastika in his forehead. Chicks dig that.
The Manson couple met on a website called "OK Stupid."
If you're looking to get the Mansons a gift, they're registered at Bloodbath & Beyond. 
Note: You can read an earlier post on the Manson prison wedding via the below link:

Justice Department Files Enforcement Actions To Shut Down "Psychic" Mail Fraud Schemes

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

The United States filed civil complaints in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York today against individuals and entities alleged to be running two related multimillion-dollar mail fraud schemes.  The United States also filed a motion seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to immediately put a stop to the ongoing schemes.

According to the complaints, the defendants operate two mail fraud schemes in which they send solicitation letters purportedly written by world-renowned psychics to consumers through the U.S. mail.  The first scheme, operated by Destiny Research Center and the Canadian company Infogest Direct Marketing, sends direct mail solicitations allegedly written by psychics Maria Duval and Patrick Guerin.  The second scheme, operated by Christine Moussu through New York companies CLGE Inc. and I.D. Marketing Solutions Inc., sends direct mail solicitations allegedly written by psychics David Phild, Sandra Rochefort, Antonia Donera and Nicholas Chakan.

“The complaints filed today charge that the companies and individuals made blatant misrepresentations in order to reap financial gain by scamming thousands of Americans, many of whom were elderly and in a vulnerable financial condition,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “Our job at the Justice Department is to put a stop to fraud schemes that seek to take advantage of vulnerable Americans.”

The complaints allege that in the letters, the purported psychics state that they are contacting the recipient based on a specific vision or psychic reading revealing that the recipient has the opportunity to dramatically improve his or her financial circumstance, including claims of winning millions in the lottery. 

The solicitation letters appear personalized, repeatedly referring to the recipient by first name and often containing portions that appear handwritten.  The solicitations urge victims to purchase various products and services in order to ensure that the foreseen good fortune comes to pass. 

The complaints allege that in reality, the solicitations are identical, mass- produced form letters.  Victims responded to the solicitations by completing a form and submitting a payment, usually around $20 to $50, via U.S. mail.  Victims often also wrote personal, handwritten letters back to the purported psychics, which were never opened, and received worthless, mass-produced trinkets and further solicitations after sending these payments.

“Relying on superstition and fear, the defendants defrauded tens of millions of dollars from thousands of vulnerable citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch for the Eastern District of New York.  “We have, and will continue to, use all means at our disposal to protect our citizens from such schemes to defraud.”

“These mass solicitations containing purportedly personalized messages to unsuspecting victims were blatant fraud,” said Acting Inspector in Charge Troy Raper of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service's Criminal Investigation Group.  “Postal Inspectors aggressively investigate any operations that use the U.S. mail to fleece unsuspecting victims.”

Metro Data Management Inc., doing business as Data Marketing Group Ltd., a company on Long Island, New York, along with its president, Keitha Rocco, performed “caging” services on behalf of both mail fraud schemes.  According to the complaint, these services consisted of processing victim payments and maintaining databases of consumers who responded to the fraudulent solicitations.  The government alleges that Data Marketing Group processed as much as $500,000 in victim payments in a given two-week period for the Destiny Research Center scheme, resulting in annual gross receipts of at least $13 million.  The CLGE scheme brought in annual revenue of $1.5 to $2 million.  Evidence presented by the United States in support of its motion indicates that victims of the mail fraud schemes were elderly, ill and in perilous financial condition.

The government is seeking an injunction under the Anti-Fraud Injunction Statute immediately shutting down the fraudulent schemes in order to protect victims from further harm.  The injunctions sought by the United States would enjoin the defendants from using the mail to distribute the fraudulent solicitations or to collect victim payments, and from selling lists of consumers who have responded to the solicitations.  The injunctions would also authorize the U.S. Postal Service to detain any outgoing solicitations mailed by the defendants and any incoming responses to solicitations.  

The Justice Department’s case is being handled by the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, in coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York.

The claims made in the complaints are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

BBC To Produce Mini-Series Based On Len Deighton's Alternative Historical Thriller 'SS-GB'

Imagine that America never entered World War II and Great Britain lost the war. And now the once proud British are occupied by the victorious German Army and the dreaded Nazi SS.

Len Deighton did this in his clever alternative historical thriller GS-GB.

I liked the book when I read it many years ago and I reread the thriller a few years ago.

Now The Hollywood Reporter reports the BBC is producing a mini-series based on SS-GB.

The BBC has ordered a drama that imagines a Britain occupied by the Nazis, penned by the writers of the most recent James Bond films based on an alternate history novel.

U.K. public broadcaster has commissioned ‎SS-GB from Bond writers Robert Wade and Neal Purvis and based on the novel of the same name by Len Deighton. The BBC order is for five hourlong episodes produced by Sid Gentle Films for flagship network BBC One.

... SS-GB is a thriller set in 1940s London under the premise that the Germans won the Battle of Britain and London is under Nazi occupation.

"Archer is a Scotland Yard detective working under the SS facing the dilemma of whether to effectively collaborate or join the resistance," according to a show description. It also says that the drama is "an explosive thriller that will ask: what would you do, faced with stakes as high as this?"

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

Charles Manson's Future Mother-In-Law, Shockingly, Disapproves

Natalie O'Neill at the New York Post reports on Charles Manson's future mother-in-law, who, "shockingly,' as the Post headline claims, does not approve of the marriage.

The mother of Charles Manson’s fiancée won’t attend the couple’s prison wedding — or buy the lovebirds a gift on their big day, she told The Post.

Melissa Burton, 47 — whose daughter, Afton Elaine Burton, 26, plans to marry the 80-year-old mass murderer — said the occasion doesn’t exactly call for flowers and fancy registries.

“It’s not that kind of a wedding . . . She knows how we feel about it. If I could choose a life for my daughter, I’d choose a normal one,” said Melissa Burton of Bunker Hill, Ill.

Manson and Afton, who goes by the name Star, are allowed up to 10 guests at the Corcoran State Prison wedding in California — but none of her relatives plans to attend, Melissa Burton said.

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

You can also read my Washington Times review of Jeff Guinn's Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson via the below link:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Getting Made: The Making Of Martin Scorsese's 'GoodFellas'

I'm a big fan of Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas. I think Goodfellas is one of the finest crime films ever made. In my view Goodfellas is also one of the most realistic organized crime films ever made.  

Kevin Jagernauth at offers a piece on the making of the film and offers a link to a 30-minute documentary on the making of the classic crime film. He also notes that yesterday was the great film director's birthday.

Today, Martin Scorsese turns 72-years-young, and his vast filmography gives you plenty of ways to celebrate (check out our retrospective of his films). But for many, particularly those of a certain age, "Goodfellas" remains, if not his best film, then certainly his most rewatchable and plainly enjoyable. While you've likely seen the movie more than a few times already, you might want to go behind-the-scenes to learn how it was made.

The 30-minute "Getting Made: The Making Of Goodfellas," which was included on the film's home video release, has made its way online, and it's great stuff.

You can watch the video via the below link:

Note: In one of my Crime Beat columns I wrote about Goodfellas:

Over the years I've heard from a number of law enforcement officials who complain that The Godfather and the other mob books and movies glamorize crime. When I was a producer and on-air host on Inside Government, a public affairs radio program that aired on WPEN AM and WMGK FM on Sunday mornings a few years ago, I interviewed the assistant U.S. attorney in charge of organized crime in the Philadelphia area

He did not agree with my assessment of Goodfellas, which I said was the most realistic film portrayal of organized crime. He felt that audiences liked the actor Joe Pesci in the film because he was funny and charming, but they failed to realize that he and the other criminals in the film were vicious and murderous.

I countered by saying that I’ve found some of the real mob guys to be funny, charming and even generous. And I’ve also seen them quickly turn vicious, cold and heartless – just as Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro portrayed them on the screen. They can be good friends and good company - unless you owe them money or you have something they want. Serial killers and con artists have also been known to be quite charming. 

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

I also covered Goodfellas in my Crime Beat on Martin Scorsese's film world of crime. You can read the column via the below link:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Alleged Leader Of A Mexican Drug Cartel Extradited To The United States

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

One of the alleged leaders of the Beltran Leyva Organization, a Mexican drug-trafficking cartel responsible for importing multi-ton quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine into the United States, was extradited to the United States from Mexico on Nov. 15, 2014, and will be making an initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay of the District of Columbia.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Assistant Director Joseph S. Campbell of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, New York Division Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Executive Associate Director Peter T. Edge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI) made the announcement.

“Over the past two decades, the Beltran Leyva Cartel has distributed tens of thousands of kilograms of dangerous narcotics and engaged in a campaign of violence that sparked drug wars and jeopardized public safety across North America,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.
“Today’s extradition of alleged kingpin Alfredo Beltran Leyva is an important step toward stamping out an organization that has ruined the lives of so many.  The Justice Department is committed to working with our international partners to bring the rest of the organization to justice.”  

“The arrest and extradition of Alfredo Beltran Leyva represents a significant milestone in combating transnational criminal organizations,” said FBI Assistant Director Campbell.  “It is through collaborative efforts with our law enforcement partners that the United States will stem the tide of this continuing threat.”

“For years Alfredo Beltran Leyva, along with his brothers, was responsible for not only smuggling tons of cocaine to the United States, but also for the violence that has plagued the lives of Mexican citizens,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Hunt.  “His extradition to the United States is an example of a commitment to international cooperation and the rule of law.”

“The illegal drugs distributed throughout the United States by the Beltran Levya Cartel ruined countless lives in this country and sowed violence and chaos throughout Mexico,” said HSI Executive Associate Director Edge.  “The arrest and extradition of Alfredo Beltran Levya to face justice here for his crimes is a great victory for ICE HSI and our partner agencies.”

Alfredo Beltran Levya, 43, was indicted on Aug. 24, 2012, for international narcotics trafficking conspiracy in connection with his leadership role in theinternational drug-trafficking cartel bearing his family name.

According to a motion for pretrial detention filed by prosecutors, between the early 1990s until his January 2008 arrest by Mexican law enforcement, Beltran Levya allegedly led the Beltran Levya Organization with his brothers Hector Beltran Levya and Arturo Beltran Levya, the latter of whom was killed in a December 2009 shootout with the Mexican army. 

Since the 1990s, the Beltran Levya Organization, together with the Sinaloa Cartel, allegedly directed a large-scale drug transportation network, shipping multi-ton quantities of cocaine from South America, through Central America and Mexico, and finally into the United States via land, air and sea.  The organization also employed “sicarios,” or hitmen, who allegedly carried out hundreds of acts of violence, including murders, kidnappings, tortures and violent collections of drug debts, at the direction of the organization.

Following the January 2008 arrest of  Alfredo Beltran Leyva by Mexican law enforcement authorities, the Beltran Leyva Organization severed its relationship with the Sinaloa Cartel, which was blamed for the arrest.  This resultedin a violent war between the two drug cartels, and the murder of thousands of citizens in Mexico, including numerous law enforcement officers and officials.
On May 30, 2008, the President added the Beltran Leyva Organization to the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.  On Aug. 20, 2009, the President specifically designated Beltran Leyva as a specially designated drug trafficker under the same Kingpin Act.

The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The investigation is led by the FBI’s El Paso Office, in partnership with the DEA’s New York Field Division and HSI’s New York Office, as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.  This case is being prosecuted by the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drugs Section, with the assistance of the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.  The Justice Department thanks the government of Mexico for their assistance in this extradition.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Kermit The Baby Killer: 'Gosnell' Movie Options Philly Journalist Steve Volk's 'Gosnell's Babies' For Source Material

Nick Vadala at reports on the movie company that optioned a Philadelphia journalist's book on convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell.

Back in May, the production team behind Gosnell, an upcoming TV movie centered on the story of late-term abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, set a record as the largest crowd-funding campaign ever after attaining a $2.1 million fund-raising goal. Now, they've optioned a book for their source material: Philadelphia magazine scribe Steve Volk's e-book, Gosnell's Babies.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
You can read an earlier post on Gosnell via the below link:

Jamaica: The Island That Defined Ian Fleming's Iconic Character James Bond

Fifty years after Ian Fleming's death, Jonathan Thompson at the Telegraph explores Jamaica, an island the writer loved so much it is stamped throughout James Bond's DNA for.

It all began with a naked girl on a beach. Peering down from the clifftop as she emerged from the waves on to a pristine white beach, Ian Fleming’s friend Ivar Bryce knew he’d found the spot. “Tie it up tomorrow,” he said to the Jamaican fixer with him. “Ian will adore this place.”
Bryce had first introduced Fleming to Jamaica three years earlier, during a wartime naval conference in Kingston. As their return flight took off, Fleming slammed his briefcase shut and turned to his friend: “Ivar, I’ve made a great decision,” he said. “When we’ve won this blasted war, I’m going to live in Jamaica. Just live in Jamaica and lap it up, and swim in the sea and write books.” Those books, of course, would become his bestselling James Bond novels. But first that home would become Goldeneye – built on the clifftop overlooking that pristine white beach.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Fleming’s death, but the house he built – rather like the super-spy he created there – is still going strong. Pre-production is well under way on Bond’s latest movie outing, his 24th no less, but the little estate where he was conceived continues to grow too. And now a new book, Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born, Ian Fleming’s Jamaica, by
historian Matthew Parker, looks to analyse the close links between the two.

 “Would the books have been born if I had not been living in the gorgeous vacuum of a Jamaican holiday?” wrote Fleming, “I doubt it.” But Parker goes further, arguing that Fleming’s love for Jamaica was so great that it is stamped throughout Bond’s DNA.
At the heart of this love affair, of course, was Goldeneye, located midway along Jamaica’s north coast, next to the pretty little banana port of Oracabessa. Fleming designed the house himself, and lived there for two months every winter between 1946 and his death in 1964. A sleek, U-shaped bungalow with glassless windows looking out across the Caribbean, the property was named Goldeneye after a wartime plan Fleming had helped devise for the protection of Gibraltar. It was also as a nod (or wink) to Oracabessa itself, which translates as “Golden Head”.

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

Note: My beautiful wife and I first visited Jamiaca in 1981 and we have visited the beautiful island again and again over the years. As a life-long Ian Fleming aficionado, I was of course interested in Jamaica, the scene of three of Fleming's James Bond novels.

In 1987 my wife arranged for us to visit Fleming's Goldeneye villa. This was when the villa and grounds were as rustic as when the late great thriller writer lived here. Fleming's beloved housekeeper Violet (seen in the below photo with me) was still alive and when I asked her about Fleming, she got tears in her eyes and said "The Commander was a nice man."

I wrote at Ian Fleming's desk and went free diving in his cove. We ate, drank, swam and lived like true Jamaicans. We truly loved our week at Goldeneye. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

FBI: Child Pornography Case Results In Lengthy Prison Sentences

The FBI web site offers the below piece:

It was a horrific instance of child sexual exploitation that went on for approximately three years. But in the end, Patricia and Matthew Ayers—who pled guilty to crimes against a child in their custody—were recently sentenced to an astonishing 2,340 years collectively behind bars (1,590 for her, 750 for him).

The federal judge who handed down those sentences told the defendants, “I have been on the bench since 1998 and this is the worst case I have personally dealt with. ... You robbed this child of her childhood and her soul, and a maximum sentence is the only sentence appropriate.”

The case began in Alabama in December 2012, when a friend of the Ayers contacted local authorities after seeing digital pornographic pictures of a child that were provided to him by Patricia Ayers. The Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant at the Ayers’ residence in Florence and seized computers, cell phone, cameras, and electronic storage media devices. Patricia Ayers—who admitted taking the images of the child, initially claiming they were taken for the purposes of documenting a rash—was arrested.

Found among the thousands of pornographic images on the seized devices were pictures of Matthew Ayers and the young victim engaged in sexual acts—he was then arrested by local authorities as well.

In early January 2013, Lauderdale authorities requested the Bureau’s assistance, and our Florence Resident Agency (out of the FBI Birmingham Field Office) opened a federal child pornography investigation.

Another search warrant was served at the Ayers’ residence to locate and document items seen in the child pornography images suspected of being produced in the home. A previous address that the Ayers occupied was also searched—with the consent of the current homeowners—and law enforcement identified wallpaper in that house as the same wallpaper visible in some of the images.
During the course of the investigation, an agent from our Dallas Field Office who was working another child pornography matter was able to connect his case—and his subject—to Patricia Ayers through an automated search of FBI records. Among other links, Patricia Ayers had e-mailed the subject of the Dallas case images of child pornography, including pictures of the child in the Ayers’ custody. The Ayers were indicted on federal charges in May 2014.

Assisting Bureau agents on the Ayers case was an FBI Computer Analysis and Response Team expert who reviewed all of the digital evidence seized during the search warrants, as well as FBI analysts who carefully scrutinized every image for clues as to when and where it was taken, what was being shown, and who was pictured.

Also involved were forensic child interviewers from our Office for Victim Assistance at FBI Headquarters, who are specially trained to get young crime victims and witnesses to talk about what they experienced while not traumatizing them any further. And FBI Birmingham’s local victim assistance specialist worked with the victim from the beginning of the case through sentencing and beyond, offering much-needed support, some counseling, and additional community resource referrals. The victim—who is believed to have been around 6 years old when the abuse started—is now in the care of family members.

This case and others like it demonstrate the value of—and the need for—law enforcement’s lawful access to digital media.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Alleged Leader Of The Lorenzana Drug Trafficking Organization Extradited To The United States

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

An alleged leader of an international drug trafficking organization based in Guatemala was extradited to the United States today to face international narcotics trafficking charges in the District of Columbia, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Waldemar Lorenzana-Cordon, 49, was arrested in Guatemala on Sept. 13, 2013, after being indicted for conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States, and has been detained since that time pending extradition.  He arrived in the United States yesterday and was arraigned today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay of the District of Columbia.   

According to allegations contained in the indictment, Lorenzana-Cordon is a leader of an international drug trafficking organization that includes his father and several additional family members.  Between 1996 and 2012, the organization allegedly received and stored multi-ton quantities of cocaine from Colombia for later importation into Mexico and the United States.

These cocaine shipments, worth millions of dollars, were allegedly transported to El Salvador on “go-fast” boats, and then smuggled into Guatemala by land and air.  The cocaine was then inventoried and stored for later export to Mexico and eventually the United States.

On April 27, 2010, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control designated Lorenzana-Cordon as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act due to his significant role in international narcotics trafficking and his ties to the Sinaloa Cartel.

The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Lorenzana-Cordon’s father, Waldemar Lorenzana-Lima, was charged in the same indictment and pleaded guilty on Aug. 18, 2014, to conspiracy to import over 450 kilograms of cocaine into the United States.

The investigation was led by the DEA’s 959/Bilateral Investigations Unit and Guatemala City Country Office, and was part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.  The case is being prosecuted by the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in the extradition.  The department appreciates the assistance provided by the government of Guatemala.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Armenian Power Leader Sentenced To 32 Years In Prison For Racketeering, Extortion and Fraud

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

A leader of the Armenian Power gang, who was convicted at trial of 57 counts for his role in a racketeering conspiracy that included extortion, bank fraud, and a sophisticated credit and debit card skimming scheme, was sentenced today to 32 years in prison.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura of the Central District of California made the announcement.

Mher Darbinyan, aka “Hollywood Mike” and “Capone,” 39, of Valencia, California, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner of the Central District of California.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Darbinyan was a leader of Armenian Power, a gang responsible for extortion, firearms offenses, fraud, and identity theft throughout the Los Angeles-area.  Among other activities, Darbinyan operated a sophisticated bank fraud scheme that used middlemen and runners to deposit and cash hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent checks drawn on the accounts of elderly bank customers and businesses.  Separately, Darbinyan also organized and operated a sophisticated debit card skimming operation targeting customers of 99 Cents Only Stores across Southern California.  This expansive scheme involved the installation and use of skimmers to steal thousands of customers’ debit card numbers and PIN codes.

Evidence at trial also showed that Darbinyan conspired to extort money from a member of the Armenian community by threatening violence against the victim and his family members.  On two separate occasions, Darbinyan also possessed firearms and ammunition after having previously been convicted of felony grand theft for his role in a 2004 debit card fraud scheme.

Darbinyan was among 90 individuals charged in 2011 in two indictments targeting Armenian Power.  To date, 87 individuals have been convicted.  Two defendants are fugitives, and prosecutors dismissed charges against one defendant.

According to evidence presented during the Armenian Power trials, the Armenian Power street gang formed in the East Hollywood district of Los Angeles in the 1980s.  The gang’s membership consisted primarily of individuals of Armenian descent, as well as of other countries within the former Soviet bloc.  Armenian Power has been designated under California state law as a criminal street gang and is believed to have more than 250 documented members, as well as hundreds of associates.  According to evidence presented during the Armenian Power trials, Armenian Power members and associates regularly carry out violent criminal acts, including murders, attempted murders, kidnappings, robberies, extortions, and witness intimidation to enrich its members and associates and preserve and enhance the power of the criminal enterprise.

The trial evidence also showed that Armenian Power leaders worked closely with powerful organized crime figures in Russia and Armenia, known as “thieves-in-law,” and members of the Mexican Mafia prison gang to commit criminal activities in the Los Angeles area and elsewhere.

These cases were investigated by the Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force, which is comprised of the FBI, Glendale Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Burbank Police Department, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and U.S. Secret Service.  The Huntington Beach Police Department and Beverly Hills Police Department provided assistance.

The cases are being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Andrew Creighton of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Yang of the Central District of California.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My Washington Times Review of "U.S. Marshals: Inside America's Most Storied Law Enforcement Agency"

My review of Mike Earp's U.S. Marshals: Inside America's Most Storied Law Enforcement Agency appeared today in the Washington Times.

Deputy U.S. Marshal: How often did you draw your gun?

Retiring FBI agent: Never. You?

Deputy U.S. Marshal: Seven times before lunch.

On Sept. 24, the U.S. Marshals Service celebrated its 225th anniversary, making them the country’s oldest law enforcement agency — and, according to Mike Earp, being a deputy U.S. marshal is one of the most dangerous jobs in law enforcement. The deputy U.S. marshals are involved in more gunfights and physical altercations with criminals than the FBI or any other federal law enforcement agency.

In his book, “U.S. Marshals,” Mr. Earp, a former associate director of the Marshals Service and a relative of legendary Deputy U.S. Marshal Wyatt Earp, offers tales from the deputy marshals who track and arrest the criminals that law enforcement considers the “worst of the worst.”

Mr. Earp retired as the third highest-ranking official in the U.S. Marshals Service in 2012 after 29 years of service. As the associate director for operations, he supervised all operational divisions and programs for the agency.

His book is based on interviews with more than 50 current and former deputies and recounts some of the agency’s greatest and most dangerous cases. There are stories about the chase and capture of violent outlaw bikers, drug traffickers and murderers. There are also stories of well-known fugitives the marshals captured, such as the escaped prisoner and convicted spy Christopher Boyce, New York mobster and stone-cold killer Charlie Carneglia and D.C. sniper John Muhammad.

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

Note: Above is a photo of Mike Earp, courtesy of Kaitlyn Kennedy at HarperCollins.