Saturday, January 31, 2015

Netflix's 'Peaky Blinders' And The Real Peaky Blinders: The Victorian Gang Who Terrorised Birmingham And Sewed Razor Blades Into Their Caps To Headbutt Rivals

I recently began watching the British TV crime series Peaky Blinders on Netflix.

The period crime drama originally appeared on the BBC and Netflix is now streaming the first two seasons.

The TV show is well-written and clever, with very good performances by Cillian Murphy - who was good and creepy in the Batman film series - as the street gang leader, and Sam Neill - who was terrific in Reilly: Ace of Spies - as a tough old copper.

There are other fine performances as well. I especially like the historical setting of post-WWI Birmingham, England. 

You can read about the return of the series via the below link to

You can also read about the real gang the TV show was based on via the below link to the British newspaper the Daily Mail:

Friday, January 30, 2015

The FBI's New Most Wanted Terrorist

The FBI announced that a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Somalia was added to FBI Most Wanted Terrorists List.

Liban Haji Mohamed, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Somalia, has been named to the FBI’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists, and a reward of up to $50,000 is being offered for information leading to his arrest and conviction. Mohamed is charged with providing material support and resources to al Qaeda and al Shabaab, a Somali-based terrorist organization.

“Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for many bombings in Somalia and Uganda and the 2013 attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya,” said Carl Ghattas, special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division at the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “Liban Mohamed is believed to have left the U.S. with the intent to join al Shabaab in East Africa. We believe he is currently there operating on behalf of that terrorist organization.”

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

The King Kong Of The Thriller: The Phenomenal Output Of Edgar Wallace, Once The World’s Most Popular Author

Michael Moorcock at The Spectator offers a piece on a new book about the late thriller writer Edgar Wallace.

At the time of his death in 1932 Edgar Wallace had published some 200 books, 25 plays, 45 collections of short stories, several volumes of verse, countless newspaper and magazine articles, movie scripts, radio plays and more. His work was dictated, transcribed and sent directly to the publisher. In one year alone (1929) he wrote a dozen books. People joked about getting ‘the weekly Wallace’.

Despite their speed of creation, Wallace’s stories were, said The Spectator, written in plain, clear English and ‘read by everyone, from bishops to barmen’. His influence on the thriller genre was extensive, profound and continuous. He inspired a thousand imitators with The Four Just Men, Mr J.G. Reeder, Sanders of the River and Educated Evans. He wrote humour and thrillers, SF and reportage. With instincts for a good publicity stunt, he created a brand image: long cigarette holder, stetson, jodhpurs, riding boots.

A quarter of the English public read his books. One of his many publishers alone sold 30 million copies. He led an extravagant life, gambled heavily, bought race-horses and stood for Parliament. His generosity was famous. At his death he owed millions. His enormous debts were settled in a couple of years.

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

Defense Department's Combined Federal Campaign Involvement Shows 'Spirit of Giving'

Terri Moon Cronk at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2015 - The Defense Department's involvement in the annual Combined Federal Campaign highlights the department's spirit of giving, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said today.

Work addressed military, civilian and contractor CFC campaign workers and contributors in the Pentagon auditorium and thanked them for "another successful CFC season" throughout DoD.

From stateside to overseas, DoD raised $18.8 million in CFC contributions this year, the deputy secretary said.

DoD-based contributors in the National Capital Area raised $10.5 million, with 15 of 24 individual campaigns exceeding their goals, he said, noting that overseas contributions totaled $8.3 million. CFC-eligible charities total 22,000 organizations.

"As Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel reminded us yesterday at his farewell ceremony ... DoD has one key solemn and sacred responsibility: ensuring the security of our great nation," Work said.

"To meet this responsibility, the men and women of this department ... share a simple, single mission, and that is to organize, train and equip a joint force that is ready for war but has operated forward to preserve global peace," he said.

'A Willingness to Give'

Service members, civilians and contractors represent the best of DoD, Work said, adding that it takes special people to dedicate themselves to lives of service and to make sacrifices like few other Americans.

"This giving nature extends from deployments in distant lands to right here within our own borders," Work said. "Sometimes it's reflected in our responses to natural disasters ... a willingness to contribute to communities ... and sometimes, like today, it's a willingness to give to those who are less fortunate."

CFC is the largest and most successful workplace-fundraising campaign "on the planet and DoD is a big reason why," he added.

And because DoD has historically been the campaign's biggest federal contributor in the nation, the deputy secretary said after the final accounting is done for 2014, he believes DoD "will again lead the pack."

DoD employees "demonstrate the generosity of spirit and dedication to service that infuses our entire shared enterprise we work in every day," Work said. "A spirit that continues [to be] strong, despite the budget uncertainty and upheavals that have occurred over the last three years."

The department's service members, civilians and contractors "represent the greatest organization in the world in my view: The Department of Defense," he said.

Note: As the civilian administrative officer of a Defense Department command in Philadelphia for more than 21 years, I oversaw security, safety, public affairs and other support programs for the organization.

I'm also proud to have served as the coordinator for the command's annual CFC campaign during those 21 years. We raised a good bit of money for a good number of charitable organizations. The late Mary Mitchell, a long-time Defense Department civilian employee who served on my team, was a valued CFC campaign worker.   

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Happy Belated 78th Birthday To Joseph Wambaugh

Happy belated birthday to former LAPD detective sergeant and bestselling author Joseph Wambaugh, who turned 78 on January 22nd.

Joseph Wambaugh is the author of several classic novels about the police and crime, such as The Onion Field and The Choirboys.

You can visit Joseph Wambaugh's web site at and you can read my interview with him via the below link:

You can also read my Philadelphia Inquirer review of his novel Hollywood Station via the below link: 

Thank You South Philly Police: South Philadelphia Residents Hold Support Our Police Rally

Bill Chenevert at the South Philly Review reports on the pro-police rally held this past Sunday in South Philadelphia.

On Sunday afternoon, disk jockey Russ Ferrante’s black pickup truck crept up South Broad Street with nearly 75 South Philadelphians marching from Oregon Avenue to City Hall. They carried American and police flags and handmade signs that read “Thank You South Philly Police” and some that said “Police Lives Matter.” It was a rally organized by Carol Lanni’s Taking Our South Philly Streets Back titled “Support Our Police.”

It was a mostly low-pitched event, save for Ferrante’s mood-elevating pop tunes. And while the country still feels the ripples of the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, Lanni stressed that it’s not about race — it’s about building safe communities and acknowleding that police officers will do a better job and go the extra mile if they feel encouraged and respected by the communities they serve.

“They’re human beings. They’re running short-staffed because the city only gives them so many cars or officers for each district,” Lanni, a resident of the 2600 block of South Bouvier Street, said. “I believe the police are not getting the fair shake that they need. We all have to follow laws, and these guys are out there risking their life and limb daily, in hot and cold weather, with no guarantee that they’re going to come back [home].” 

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

United States and Colombian Law Enforcement Authorities Execute Simultaneous Arrests In Puerto Rico, Florida And Colombia Dismantling International Drug Trafficking And Money Laundering Organization

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

This morning, U.S. federal agents in coordination with Colombian law enforcement authorities simultaneously executed arrest warrants in Puerto Rico, Florida and Colombia, dismantling an international drug trafficking and money laundering organization responsible for the importation of multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine into the United States and the laundering of millions of dollars in drug proceeds, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez of the District of Puerto Rico announced today.

Last month, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned a 23-count indictment charging 29 individuals with numerous violations to federal narcotics and money laundering laws.  The charges include conspiracy to import controlled substances, conspiracy to possess controlled substances, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and substantive counts of money laundering and international money laundering.  The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation for the proceeds obtained as a result of the organization’s illegal activities.

The individuals named in the indictment are Carlos A. Segura-Galvis, Adolfo León García-Sierra, Jair Eudoro Ramírez-Díaz, Roque Caballero-Caballero, Hugo Ocampo-Gutierrez, Mireya Cabra-Traslaviña, Elkin Meléndez-Santiago, Gamalier González-Maldonado, Giovanni Cosme-Fernández, Eduardo Esteras-Rosado, José O. Medina-Nery, Hugo Enrique Romero-Vargas, Edison Miranda-Angulo, Noe Carbajal, Felipe Francisco De La Plaza, Edwin Lozada-Flores, Miguel Vargas-Roa, Ricardo Rodríguez-Rodríguez, Jorge Villarran-Romero, Francisco Otero-Retamar, Miguel A. Lebrón-Hernández, Eldin Meléndez-Santiago, Ángel M. Sierra-Rivera, Bergman Santiago-Contes, José Martínez-Meléndez, Flor Marina González-Rojas, Geovanny Mosquera-Vanegas, Yurgen Gabriel Álvarez-Gutierrez and Brian Montalvo-Tolentino.

Nine of the 29 defendants, Adolfo León García-Sierra, Jair Eudoro Ramírez-Díaz, Roque Caballero-Caballero, Hugo Ocampo-Gutierrez, Mireya Cabra-Traslaviña, Hugo Enrique Romero-Vargas, Flor Marina González-Rojas, Geovanny Mosquera-Vanegas and Yurgen Gabriel Álvarez-Gutierrez, will be extradited from Colombia to stand trial in the District of Puerto Rico.

The investigation leading to today’s arrests uncovered that from November 2010 through September 2012, members of this drug smuggling and money laundering organization operating in Colombia were sending kilogram quantities of cocaine to Puerto Rico using go-fast vessels.  Members of the organization in Colombia and Puerto Rico would coordinate the maritime transportation in the following way: the vessels would depart from the northern part of Venezuela and would meet other vessels departing from Puerto Rico to receive the drugs at a pre-arranged point, approximately 100 nautical miles south of Puerto Rico.  On some occasions, the vessels coming from Venezuela would travel directly to the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, to deliver the drugs to individuals that were waiting for the drugs at shore.  The drugs would be briefly stored in Vieques until the same was transported into the main island of Puerto Rico through the Fajardo-Vieques ferry. On some occasions the organization also used cargo containers and other type of vessels to smuggle cocaine and heroin into Puerto Rico.

It was also part of the modus operandi of this organization to require that members of the organization in Puerto Rico would travel to Venezuela and other places and remain there during the drug smuggling ventures to act as a personal guarantee, also known as “fiscales,” for the payment of the controlled substances smuggled into Puerto Rico.    

Once the drugs were smuggled into Puerto Rico, members of the organization operating in the Barrio Obrero ward of Santurce and other parts of the San Juan, Puerto Rico, metropolitan area would receive the drugs and distribute it in Puerto Rico for financial gain.  A portion of the drugs would be further transported to New York for further distribution and additional financial gain.  Once the drugs were distributed, members of the organization would reap the profits from the sale of the controlled substances and would wait for instructions from Colombia on how to send the proceeds of their illegal drug trafficking business back to Colombia.

The organization would repatriate their illegal proceeds through wire transfers to banking institutions in Panama and China, Western Union transfers to individuals in Colombia and Peru and by the use of couriers traveling to Puerto Rico from Colombia, Venezuela and/or Florida to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in bulk cash.

The investigation also revealed that the organization used threats, intimidation and acts of violence, including kidnappings, to collect debts for the controlled substances smuggled into Puerto Rico.
Today’s arrests are the result of a long-term investigation led by special agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in San Juan as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program.  The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

“These arrests are a clear indication of the success of the OCDETF program in the fight against drug trafficking,” said U.S. Attorney Rodríguez-Vélez.  “Today’s arrests dismantle an organization that coordinated not only the traffic of drugs within Colombia and the United States, but also the movement of drug money, which is essential to the success of these illegal activities.  Among the individuals to be extradited from Colombia are drug owners, a maritime transportation coordinator, a money broker and enforcers for the drug trafficking organization.  Two of the individuals named in this indictment have been listed as regional priority targets of the OCDETF program and are now behind bars facing long terms of imprisonment.  We will continue maximizing our multi-agency efforts and will combine resources to investigate and prosecute those who disregard our laws and try to smuggle drugs into our jurisdiction.”

“This case exemplifies that those involved in the distribution of narcotics and other contraband will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted,” said Special Agent in Charge Ángel M. Meléndez of HSI San Juan.  “Drug trafficking organizations must be aggressively attacked and dismantled at every level - from the street dealer to the international supplier and drug lord.  Through the coordinated efforts of our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, we have effectively eradicated an organization responsible for bringing significant quantities of drugs into our communities.”

The defendants are facing terms of imprisonment from 10 years to life for the narcotics violations and up to 20 years for the money laundering violations.  Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos R. Cardona for the District of Puerto Rico.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the office of the Judicial Attaché of the U.S. Embassy in Colombia, HSI special agents in Bogota, Colombia, and Colombian law enforcement authorities for their assistance and support provided in this case.

Accused Shooter Of Pennsylvania State Troopers To Be Arraigned On Murder, Terrorism Charges

Laura McCrystal at the Philadelphia Inquirer offers a piece on the accused shooter of two Pennsylvania state troopers.

MILFORD, Pa. - Eric Frein is scheduled for his first court appearance Thursday since prosecutors officially declared they would seek the death penalty in his murder and terrorism trial.

The self-styled survivalist who eluded capture for weeks in the Pocono woods after allegedly shooting two state troopers is to be arraigned in a Pike County court Thursday afternoon.

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

Takedown: Store Video Shows Philly Cops Stopping Armed Robbery Of Coffee Shop

The Philadelphia Police released a store video that shows two Philadelphia plainclothes officers stopping a man from robbing a Dunkin Donuts shop.

You can watch the video via the below link:

The Politics Of Deception: JFK’s Secret Decisions On Vietnam, Civil Rights And Cuba

James Srodes offers a review of Patrick J. Sloyan's The Politics of Decption: JFK's Secret Decisions on Vietnam, Civil Rights and Cuba in the Washington Times.

This riveting book is a compelling read not only for correcting a much-mythologized era, but also for reminding us of the harsh and often crass realities that influence all our presidents when they get blindsided by the unintended consequences of their acts.

Author Patrick J. Sloyan is a reporter’s reporter. In a 40-year career that spanned covering the White House for United Press International and the First Gulf War for Newsday, Mr. Sloyan collected a shelf of journalism press awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 1992.

With dogged persistence, scrupulous archival work and firsthand interviews, he has turned on its ear the sanitized history of the last year of John F. Kennedy’s presidency. He started with the long-awaited release by the Kennedy Presidential Library of hours of audio discs of the secret tape recordings JFK ordered during crucial Oval Office policy decisions taken during those fraught 11 months. He then searched through other presidential archives for the oral histories stored there by other Kennedy aides and tracked down a number of the key participants who were still extant long decades later.

It is not a pretty story, but it resonates. Mr. Sloyan’s conclusions offer no comfort to haters of the fictional Kennedy Camelot nor to the still-thriving industry of the JFK hagiographers, but they explain why seemingly intelligent men do such stupid things when they become president.

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

Former Los Alamos National Laboratory Scientist Sentenced to Prison for Atomic Energy Act Violations Relating To His Communications Of Classified Nuclear Weapons Data

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

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez for the District of New Mexico, Assistant Director Randall C. Coleman of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division and Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division announced that Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni, a scientist formerly employed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), was sentenced this morning for Atomic Energy Act and other violations relating to his communication of classified nuclear weapons data to a person he believed to be a Venezuelan government official.

Mascheroni, 79, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Argentina, was sentenced in Albuquerque, New Mexico, by U.S. District Judge William P. Johnson to 60 months in federal prison followed by the three years of supervised release.  His wife, Marjorie Roxby Mascheroni, 71, previously was sentenced in August 2014 to a year and a day of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release for her conviction on conspiracy and false statement charges.

“The public trusts that the government will do all it can to safeguard Restricted Data from being unlawfully transmitted to foreign nations not entitled to receive it,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “We simply cannot allow people to violate their pledge to protect the classified nuclear weapons data with which they are entrusted.  Today’s sentencing should leave no doubt that counterespionage investigations remain one of our most powerful tools to protect our national security.  I thank the many people who worked to bring these convictions to fruition.”

“Our laws are designed to prevent ‘Restricted Data’ from falling into the wrong hands because of the potential harm to our national security,” said U.S. Attorney Martinez.  “Those who work at our country’s national laboratories are charged with safeguarding that sensitive information, and we must and will vigorously prosecute anyone who compromises our nation’s nuclear secrets for profit.  I commend the many agents, analysts and prosecutors who worked tirelessly to bring about the convictions in this case.  I also thank the Los Alamos National Laboratory for cooperating fully in the investigation and prosecution of this case.”

“This case demonstrates the consequences that result when those charged with protecting our nation’s secrets violate the trust placed in them by the American people,” said Assistant Director Coleman.  “Safeguarding classified material is vital to the public interest, and the FBI will continue to hold accountable those who knowingly and willfully threaten the national security of the United States through the unauthorized disclosure of protected information.”

“America trusts those who work with our country's classified information to keep it away from those who would harm us.  Anyone who betrays that trust for his own gain puts our nation's security up for auction, and the price for us all could be very high indeed,” said Special Agent in Charge Lee.  “Since World War II, the FBI has worked tirelessly to protect U.S. nuclear weapons data, and we are proud of our investigation in this case.”

Mascheroni, a Ph.D. physicist, worked as a scientist at LANL from 1979 to 1988 and held a security clearance that allowed him access to certain classified information, including “Restricted Data.”  Roxby Mascheroni worked at LANL between 1981 and 2010, where her duties included technical writing and editing.  She also held a security clearance at LANL that allowed her access to certain classified information, including “Restricted Data.”  As defined under the Atomic Energy Act, “Restricted Data” is classified information concerning the design, manufacture or use of atomic weapons; the production of special nuclear material; or the use of special nuclear material in the production of energy.

Mascheroni and Roxby Mascheroni were indicted in September 2010 and charged with conspiracy to communicate and communicating Restricted Data to an individual with the intent to secure an advantage to a foreign nation, as well as conspiracy to convey and conveying classified information.  The indictment also charged Mascheroni with concealing and retaining U.S. records with the intent to convert them to his own use and gain, and both defendants with making false statements.

Mascheroni pleaded guilty in June 2013, to counts seven and eight of the indictment, charging him with conversion of government property and retention of U.S. records, and counts 10 through 15, charging him with making false statements.  Mascheroni also pleaded guilty to a felony information charging him with two counts of communication of Restricted Data and one count of retention of national defense information.

In entering his guilty plea, Mascheroni admitted that in November 2008 and July 2009, he unlawfully communicated Restricted Data to another individual with reason to believe that the data would be utilized to secure an advantage to Venezuela.  He also admitted unlawfully converting Department of Energy information to his own use and selling the information in November 2008 and July 2009, and failing to deliver classified information relating to the United States’ national defense to appropriate authorities and instead unlawfully retaining the information in his home. Finally, Mascheroni admitted making materially false statements to the FBI when he was interviewed in October 2009.

Roxby Mascheroni pleaded guilty in June 2014, to count six of the indictment, charging her with conspiracy, and counts 16 through 22, charging her with making false statements.  She also pleaded guilty to a felony information charging her with conspiracy to communicate Restricted Data.  Roxby Mascheroni admitted that between October 2007 and October 2009, she conspired with Mascheroni to convey Restricted Data belonging to the United States to another person with reason to believe that the information would be used to secure an advantage to Venezuela.  She also admitted making materially false statements to the FBI when she was interviewed in October 2009.

The indictment in this case did not allege that the government of Venezuela or anyone acting on its behalf sought or was passed any classified information, nor did it charge any Venezuelan government officials or anyone acting on their behalf with wrongdoing.  The indictment also did not allege any wrongdoing by other individuals working at LANL.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Albuquerque Division with assistance from the Department of Energy and LANL.  The prosecution was handled by Senior Counsel Kathleen Kedian and Trial Attorney David Recker of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Fred J. Federici, Dean Tuckman and Holland S. Kastrin of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters - Agents Of Stalin, Allies Of Hitler

Wes Vernon at the Washington Times offers a review of Allan H. Ryskind's book on the Communists in Hollywood.

At last. After more than a half-century there is now available a book that thoroughly discredits all the movie industry protestations that there were no Communists in filmmaking during and after World War II, when in fact there were hundreds.

Here is irrefutable evidence that they were very adept at using the screen to pound pro-Soviet propaganda into the heads of unsuspecting Americans in theaters coast-to-coast.

The more than 500 pages of “Hollywood Traitors; Blacklisted Screenwriters — Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler” expose in detail and with infinite documentation the pro-Soviet propaganda machine, including during the 22 months when Stalin and Hitler were allies. 

This long-overdue book is authored by Allan H. Ryskind, who grew up in Hollywood, and whose father was Morrie Ryskind, lyricist, writer of stage and screen productions, including scripts for the comedic Marx Brothers.

The elder Ryskind, a staunch anti-communist, was a cooperative “friendly” witness before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), which held years of hearings probing communism in Hollywood. For decades, Hollywood has struck back by using its control of large segments of the motion picture and TV industries to smear the reputations of those who had exposed them.

Today, the younger Mr. Ryskind, author of the new volume (and now editor-at-large for the 70-year-old Washington weekly Human Events), has given us specifics as to how the talents of screenwriters and others in Hollywood were deployed in the service of America’s enemies.

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

FBI: Human Trafficking Ring Dismantled

The FBI web site offers a piece on how the bureau dismantled a human trafficking ring.

The young Ukrainian men and women—many of them out of work and with few prospects—were promised good-paying jobs in the United States. But instead of living the American dream, they were thrust into a nightmare of violence, threats, and forced servitude.

For years, five brothers who ran a human trafficking organization victimized dozens of unwitting Ukrainians, underscoring the reality that modern-day slavery exists in the United States and around the world—and requires a strong response by governments and law enforcement.

In recognition of that fact, and to speak out for the victims, January has been declared National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month by the U.S. government. Human trafficking can take many forms, from forced servitude to sexual exploitation of children, and the FBI is fighting these crimes on every front.

The Botsvynyuk brothers created many victims. Based on trial transcripts and other public records, from approximately 2000 to 2007, the Ukrainians recruited their young countrymen to work in the U.S. in their businesses cleaning large retail stores at night. They promised good jobs, usually with salaries of $500 per month. The victims were told that room and board would be provided as well as all travel expenses. They were also told that they could earn $10,000 after two or three years of working.

Many of those who signed up for these jobs were uneducated and desperate for work. “They believed it would be a much better deal than what they had in the Ukraine,” said Special Agent Ned Conway, who has been investigating this case out of our Philadelphia Division for nearly a decade. 

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

U.S. Special Operations Develops 'Iron Man' Suit

Jim Garamone at the DoD News offers the below piece:

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., Jan. 28, 2015 - Tony Stark's Iron Man suit is cool. But it's not real.

The Tactical Assault Light Operators Suit is cool, too. But it is real and may soon be protecting America's special operations forces going into harm's way.

The TALOS suit "was chartered to explore and catalyze a revolutionary integration of advanced technology to provide comprehensive ballistic protection, peerless tactical capabilities and ultimately to enhance the strategic effectiveness of the SOF operator of the future," Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel III, Socom's commander, said at the National Defense Industries Association's Special Operations/Low-intensity Conflict Symposium here yesterday.

The joint acquisition task force for the suit was established in November 2013 and is banking on breakthrough technology -- or technologies -- to protect special operators, Votel said. Socom, he said, has put together an unprecedented group from industry, academia and government to develop the prototype.

And Votel says they are on the mark.

"Although many significant challenges remain, our goal for a Mark 5 prototype suit by 2018 is on track right now," he said.

A Holistic System

Future prototype suits have exoskeletons that augment the power of the operators, Votel explained. They will also feature helmets with heads-up display technology. Other future prototypes will feature cooling/heating systems and medical sensors to monitor an operator's vital signs.

"It's a holistic system with open systems architecture, so if a new technology rises we can swap it in," said a joint task force member speaking on background during a recent interview at Socom at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. "Survivability is our number-one tenet. We have to look not only at the integration of current systems for personal protective equipment, but also to augment the guy's motion."

This is serious science with risks and serious trade-offs, and the task force's main effort this year was to "get as many smart people working on it as possible," the task force member said.

A rapid prototyping event was held in Tampa from April to June 2014. "The idea of the event was to bring industry , Interagency [and] academia together with special operators to accelerate the development of the technology and accelerate the brainstorming of the ideas for the suit and the project," said a task force member.

It worked.

More than 200 people from a wide range of disciplines answered the open call. "Putting those people in one room enabled cross polinization and an incredible collaborative teamwork atmosphere," the task force member said.

But the rapid prototyping event was more than simply charting the way ahead of theorizing on how the various parts would fit together, the task force member said. There were 3D computer modeling designers participating, he added.

"People could explore concepts by seeing what it would look like, how it would fit, how it would affect other aspects of the design," an engineer said. "Usually in [Defense Department] contracting you don't get that kind of immediate feedback. We could actually have a physical model of what we were thinking about."

The team went from cutting designs from foam to sculpting it from clay to 3D printing the prototypes. "We were able to try a group of different ideas with the experts in the room," a task force member said.

'Big Leap' Challenges Remain

Going into the rapid prototyping event, the task force members had ideas of what the problems were going to be and the event confirmed them. "It also pointed to ways we can surmount those challenges and pointed out challenges we really didn't think would be that tough," the engineer of the group said.

An untethered power source is going to be a problem, officials said. The power will be needed to operate the exoskeleton, cool or heat the operator and fuel all the sensors in the suit. "Identifying an untethered power source for extended duration is one leap of technology," one official said. "It's something that doesn't exist in that man-portable size technology. If someone has an arc reactor in their basement, I know how they can make a lot of money."

The task force is looking at novel materials and materials used in different configurations. "If you could make armor that was super, super light and is a leap in technology, that buys down some of our other problems," an official said. "We wouldn't need as much power, for example.

"We're looking to get those leaps of technologies," he continued. "Those leaps of capabilities to the guys so they can do their jobs better than they do now."

Suit Sensor Challenges

Another challenge is with the suit's sensors, officials said. One problem deals with latency -- the time between when a sensor detects something and when it is transmitted to the brain. Night-vision goggles are immediate -- there is zero-difference from when the sensor picks it up and it hits the eye.

"When I move my head, the picture is with me all the time," the engineer said. "The problem with current visual solutions right now is when I move my head, it lags and takes a second to catch up."

Today, even the best prototype sensor solution still creates nausea after being under it for 30 minutes.

The task force never forgets they are developing this suit for real people, for comrades in arms, and they have constant interaction with operators, officials said. "The last thing you want to do is build a suit that nobody wants to get inside," said one task force member.

The task force has given various pieces of technology to operators to test. Recently, operators tested various heads-up displays. They also had user assessment of the first-year exoskeletons. "We had operators from all components strap them on and run through an obstacle course," one task force member said. "We also did functional movement tests. It gives the operators the chance to come and tell us what they liked and disliked about the prototypes."

TALOS has a number of civilian uses as well, officials said. Firefighters may find the initial prototype passive load bearing exoskeleton suits handy, as would other people working in extreme environments. The results of tests will be seen not only in the special operations community, but in improved ballistic protection for all service members.

On the wall of the task force building is a countdown calendar. The day of the interview, the number read 877 -- the days left before the Mark 5 first prototype suit must be ready for testing.

"We know why we're doing this," one member of the task force said. "This is life-saving technology. There are challenges, but the juice is definitely worth the squeeze."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

There is No Substitue For American Power: Spy General Unloads On Obama

Kimberly Dozier at the offers a piece on the brilliant military intelligence officer who was reportedly forced into early retired by the Obama administration because he didn't toe the official administration line.

The former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency slammed the Obama administration on Monday as “well intentioned” but paralyzed and playing defense in its the fight against Islamic militancy. 

Recently retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn called for the U.S. to lead the charge in a sweeping, decades-long campaign against the Islamic State group, al Qaeda, and its ilk—a fight like the one against the former Soviet Union—against a new enemy he said is  “committed to the destruction of freedom and the American way of life.”

“There is no substitute, none, for American power,” the general said, to occasional cheers and ultimately a standing ovation from a crowd of special operators and intelligence officers at a Washington industry conference.

He also slammed the administration for refusing to use the term “Islamic militants” in its description of ISIS and al Qaeda.

“You cannot defeat an enemy you do not admit exists,” Flynn said.

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

Chicago Twins’ Cooperation Against Sinaloa Cartel Yields 14-Year Prison Terms; New Charges Target Cartel’s Top Echelon

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

Twin brothers Pedro and Margarito Flores, regarded as Chicago’s most significant drug traffickers who rose from street level dealers to the highest echelons of the Mexico-based Sinaloa Cartel and a rival cartel before they began providing unparalleled cooperation to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), were each sentenced today to 14 years in federal prison. 

The sentencing marked the Flores brothers’ first public court appearance since they entered protective federal custody in 2008.  Their August 2012 guilty pleas to a narcotics distribution conspiracy were unsealed in November 2014.

Also today, federal law enforcement officials announced the unsealing of an expanded eighth superseding indictment in the case in which the Flores brothers and leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel were initially indicted here in 2009.  The eighth superseding indictment and three separate new indictments announced today, add significant new defendants, including two alleged cartel money laundering associates who were arrested in the United States and extend the government’s efforts in Chicago and elsewhere to dismantle the Sinaloa Cartel under Joaquin Guzman Loera, 60, also known as “Chapo,” and Ismael Zambada Garcia, 67, aka “Mayo.”

“The persistent determination of DEA special agents and leadership in Chicago, coupled with the efforts of those in DEA offices worldwide, is having a significant impact on the global operations of the Sinaloa Cartel,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon of the Northern District of Illinois.  “This case put an end to the Flores brothers’ Chicago hub for transshipment of cartel narcotics nationwide.  Our investigation and prosecution of cartel members is continuing,”

“The extraordinary work in this investigation continues,” said Special Agent in Charge Dennis A. Wichern of the Chicago Field Division of the DEA.  “Agents, investigators, prosecutors and our worldwide law enforcement partners continue to expand this investigation against members of the Sinaloa Cartel ― working to bring them to justice and in doing so ― helping to make the great city of Chicago a safer place.”

“IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to working together with the DEA and the United States Attorney’s Office to fight the war on drugs,” said Special Agent in Charge James C. Lee of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS CI) in Chicago.  “IRS CI brings, and will continue to bring, its financial expertise to disrupt and dismantle the Sinaloa Cartel’s drug trafficking organization.”

Flores Brothers Sentencing

In sentencing of the 33-year-old Flores brothers, U.S. District Chief Judge Ruben Castillo said that but for the Flores brothers’ cooperation, he would have imposed a life sentence and noted that because of the peril their ongoing cooperation poses to them and their families, they effectively “are going to leave here with a life sentence.”  If the city of Chicago had walls, Judge Castillo said the brothers’ operation “devastated the walls of this city,” adding that their operation “became just a highway of drugs into this city.”

But, Judge Castillo added, “it is never too late to cooperate,” which is what earned the Flores brothers a significant discount in their sentences.

Judge Castillo ordered the Flores brothers to forfeit more than $3.66 million that was seized from them and a sport utility vehicle.  In addition, more than $400,000 worth of assorted jewelry, several luxury automobiles and smaller amounts of cash and electronics equipment were seized and forfeited in administrative proceedings by the DEA.  The brothers left behind millions of dollars in additional assets in Mexico after they began cooperating.

The judge also placed each of the brothers on court supervision for five years when they are released from prison after serving at least 85 percent of their sentences.

Between 2005 and 2008, the Flores brothers and their crew operated a Chicago-based wholesale distribution cell for the Sinaloa Cartel and a rival drug trafficking organization controlled by Arturo Beltran Leyva, receiving on average 1,500 to 2,000 kilograms of cocaine per month.  Approximately half of this cocaine was distributed to the Flores’ customers in the Chicago area, while the other half was distributed to customers in Columbus, Cincinnati, Detroit, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Vancouver, among other cities.  In total, the brothers admitted to facilitating the transfer of approximately $1.8 billion of drug proceeds from the United States to Mexico, primarily through bulk cash smuggling.

At great personal risk to themselves and their families, the Flores brothers began cooperating with the government in October 2008 and recorded conversations, including two directly with Chapo Guzman.  Their cooperation resulted in indictments against leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel and the Beltran Leyva organization, as well as the complete dismantling of the brothers’ own Chicago-based criminal enterprise.  In late 2008 alone, their cooperation facilitated approximately a dozen seizures in the Chicago area totaling hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and heroin and more than $15 million in cash, as well as the seizure of more than 1,600 kilograms of cocaine in the Los Angeles area that was bound for Chicago.

Further cooperation by the Flores brothers and members of their dismantled crew resulted in the convictions of more than a dozen of their high-level customers who received on average 50 to 100 kilos of cocaine per month.

“While not as high-profile as the cartel figures, the successful prosecution of these defendants made a very real difference in combating the scourge of drug trafficking that fuels so much violence and the destruction of communities in Chicago,” said the prosecutors in recommending a sentence at or near the low end of the agreed 10- to 16-year sentencing range.

“The Flores brothers (and their families) will live the rest of their lives in danger of being killed in retribution,” prosecutors stated in a sentencing memo.  “The barbarism of the cartels is legend, with a special place reserved for those who cooperate.”

In 2009, the brothers’ father was kidnapped and presumed killed when he reentered Mexico despite the U.S. government warning him not to do so.

The Primary ― Eighth Superseding ― Indictment

The eighth superseding indictment unsealed today charges a total of nine defendants, including Chapo Guzman, Mayo Zambada and Guzman’s son, Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, 31, aka “Alfredillo” and “Jags,” each of whom was among the initial group of co-defendants in the original indictment in 2009.  Zambada and Salazar are fugitives, while Guzman remains in Mexican custody following his arrest last February.

Co-defendant, Jesus Raul Beltran Leon, 31, aka “Trevol” and “Chuy Raul,” was arrested in Mexico this past November and remains in Mexican custody.  The remaining co-defendants, all fugitives, Heriberto Zazueta Godoy, 54, aka “Capi Beto,” Victor Manuel Felix Beltran, 27, aka “Lic Vicc,” Hector Miguel Valencia Ortega, 33, aka “Mv,” Jorge Mario Valenzuela Verdugo, 32, aka “Choclos” and Guadalupe Fernandez Valencia, 54, aka “Don Julio” and “Julia.”

This indictment alleges that all nine defendants conspired between May 2005 and December 2014, when the indictment was returned under seal, to import and distribute narcotics and to commit money laundering.  They allegedly conspired to smuggle large quantities of cocaine from Central and South America, as well as heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana from Mexico to the United States and through Chicago for distribution nationwide.  The indictment seeks forfeiture of $2 billion.   
The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control today announced the designation of Felix Beltran, who is Salazar’s brother-in-law, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, freezing all of his assets in the U.S. or in the control of U.S. persons and generally prohibiting any U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with him. 

A second designation was announced today against Alfonso Limon Sanchez, an alleged Sinaloa Cartel associate under federal indictment with Zambada and others in San Diego.  Other alleged cartel leaders, including Chicago defendants Guzman, Zambada, Salazar and Godoy, were previously designated drug kingpins.

Charges brought in earlier versions of this primary indictment remain pending against three additional co-defendants: Felipe Cabrera Sarabia, 44, who is in custody in Mexico; German Olivares, age unknown and a fugitive; and Edgar Manuel Valencia Ortega, 27, aka “Fox,” and Hector Miguel Valencia Ortega’s brother, who was arrested last year in the United States and is in federal custody in Chicago.  His next court date is Feb. 19, 2015 for a status hearing.

In addition to the Flores brothers, Alfredo Vasquez Hernandez, 59, pleaded guilty and was sentenced last November to 22 years in prison.  Two other co-defendants, Mayo Zambada’s son, Vicente Zambada Niebla, 39, and Tomas Arevalo Renteria, 45, have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing in Chicago.  Altogether, 18 defendants have been charged in the primary case in Chicago.

Three New Indictments

Those 18 are among a total of 62 defendants, most of whom have been convicted and sentenced, who were indicted in nearly two dozen related cases in Chicago since 2009.  Two new defendants, Alvaro Anguiano Hernandez, 38, aka “Panda,” and Jorge Martin Torres, 38, were arrested separately in the U.S. in November and are facing separate indictments here alleging they were high-level money laundering associates of the Sinaloa Cartel and participated in money laundering conspiracies.  Anguiano Hernandez’s indictment seeks forfeiture of $950,000.

Torres allegedly conspired to launder in excess of $300,000 of drug proceeds from Mexico to the United States to purchase, refurbish, and transfer from Ohio to Mexico, a 1982 Cessna Turbo 210 to promote the cartel’s alleged narcotics conspiracy.  His indictment seeks forfeiture of $1 million.
A third separate indictment announced today charges Venancio Covarrubias, 26, aka “Benny,” of Elgin, who was arrested last October, with being a high-level cartel customer in the Chicago area.  In September 2013, law enforcement, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Laredo, Texas, seized 159 kilograms of cocaine that was allegedly destined for a warehouse in Elgin leased by Covarrubias.  The cocaine, wrapped in 118 brick-shaped packages, was hidden in a tractor-trailer containing a shipment of fresh tomatoes from a fictitious Mexican business called Tadeo Produce.  The charges allege that during the prior year, Covarrubias wire transferred drug proceeds to Tadeo Produce while receiving narcotics disguised as tomato shipments.  His indictment seeks forfeiture of $2.89 million.

The money laundering conspiracy charges against Anguiano Hernandez, Torres and Covarrubias carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $500,000 fine, or an alternate fine totaling twice the amount of the funds involved in illegal activity.  The narcotics importation and distribution conspiracy charges against Covarrubias and each defendant in the primary indictment carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to a maximum of life in prison and a $10 million fine.  If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States sentencing guidelines.  The defendants against whom charges are pending are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Total Seizures Since 2008

Overall, the Chicago-based investigation of the Sinaloa Cartel has resulted in seizures of approximately $30.8 million, approximately 11 tons of cocaine, 265 kilograms of methamphetamine and 78 kilograms of heroin.  Law Enforcement in Chicago has worked closely with federal agents and prosecutors in San Diego to target the senior leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel.  This partnership yielded the prosecutions here as well as 14 indictments announced this month in San Diego against 60 alleged Sinaloa leaders, lieutenants and associates, including Zambada, two of his four sons and another of Guzman’s sons.  

The investigation in Chicago has been led by the DEA, joined by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division and the Chicago Police Department.  Also assisting were DEA offices worldwide, including in Los Angeles, San Diego, Mexico City and its El Paso Intelligence Center, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force the Chicago High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force, the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in San Diego, Springfield, Illinois and Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Police Department, the Chicago and Peoria offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Chicago office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, suburban police departments in Calumet City, Evergreen Park, Oak Park, Palos Heights and the Beverly Hills Police Department.  The investigation was assisted by agents and analysts of the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Special Operations Division, the attorneys from the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section and Office of International Affairs.

The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael J. Ferrara, Erika Csicsila, Naana Frimpong, Georgia Alexakis, Kathryn Malizia and Thomas D. Shakeshaft. 

U.S. Special Ops Commander Discusses Challenges, Priorities

Jim Garamone at DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2015 - Skill, precision, cultural acuity, cutting-edge capability, flexibility, professionalism and teamwork still are the hallmarks of America's special operations community, Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel said here today.

The commander of U.S. Special Operations Command left his Tampa, Florida, headquarters to journey to a snowy nation's capital to speak at the National Defense Industrial Association's Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict Symposium.

"Our nation demands we have the people and capabilities to achieve success in the most pressing national challenges we face," Votel said. The command is prepared to offer options to U.S. leaders across the range of special operations missions, he added.

The command naturally has a global focus, the general said, but works with regional combatant commands to fill in the seams. He used the foreign fighter problem as an example, saying the number of foreign fighters going to Syria and Iraq to fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is "staggering."

"More than 19,000 foreign fighters from 90 different countries have travelled to Syria and Iraq," he said. "Their ideology is overpowering."

ISIL Attracts Followers From Around the Globe

The terror group is attracting followers from around the globe, and the ISIL leaders are seeking legitimacy as a new caliphate, a form of Islamic rule. "Socom is playing a critical, leading role in pulling together our military efforts, both within the U.S. and with international partners -- for this global fight," Votel said.

The nexus of terrorism and transnational criminal networks concern the general, as does the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria. The world's nations still are attempting to deal with the changes that arose from the Arab Spring, Votel said. "[And] a resurgent Russia is now employing coercive techniques against its neighbor using [special operations] forces, other clandestine capabilities, information operations, other cyber operations and groupings of ethnic proxies and surrogates to drive wedges into our key allies in East Europe," he added.

These threats and others have to be dealt with at a time when Defense Department funding is constrained, Votel noted, adding that any cuts to service budgets will adversely affect Special Operations Command and the capabilities needed to combat these threats.

Ensuring Readiness

One command priority is ensuring readiness, the general said. "This is about getting the right people with the right skills and capabilities now and in the future," he explained.

Communications remain a readiness priority, and Votel said he foresees a totally interconnected and networked force by 2020. "Like the threat networks we face, our unity of effort is directly correlated to our connectedness -- to information, to our partners and to the chain of command," he said.

Aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems remain a priority to the command as well.

Another command priority is focused months before the "tip of the spear" begins an operation, Votel said, as special operations forces are key to preventing conflicts. "It is about understanding the environment. It is about developing relationships. It's about informing our broader military activities. It's about building partner capacity and advising and assisting others so they can meet their own national objectives," the general said.

This is happening in Afghanistan, in Iraq, the Middle East and Africa, he said, and he cited the Philippines as a case in point. Special operators have been in the country since 2002, working with Philippine military and law enforcement personnel to counter the terrorist threat. This patient, small-footprint approach has paid dividends to the Philippines and to the United States, Votel said.

Continuing to Build Relationships

Continuing to build relationships is yet another priority for the command, the general said. "We must eliminate the institutional friction that exists between us and our conventional force, international, interagency and intelligence community partners," he said.

Socom has relationships with 60 countries around the globe, Votel said, adding that he would like to see that expanded and strengthened.

Special Operations Command must plan for the future, looking at all data to determine what is happening and what will be needed, the general said, noting that demographic changes, technological advances and even climate change must be thought through. This calls for critical and innovative thinking and communicating that thinking to the force as a whole, he said.

But most important, he said, is taking care of the command's people so they can take care of their mission.

"In the end, people are our credentials," the general said. "We must put their short- and long-term well-being, and that of their families, first."

The command will leverage every service program to ensure that special operators and their families are mentally, physically, socially and spiritually prepared for the challenges ahead of them, Votel said.

"They have kept faith with us, and we will keep faith with them," he added.

FBI Releases Preliminary Semiannual Crime Statistics For 2014

The FBI released their preliminary semiannual crime statistics for 2014:

Statistics released today in the FBI’s Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report reveal overall declines in both the number of violent crimes and the number of property crimes reported for the first six months of 2014 when compared with figures for the first six months of 2013.

The report is based on information from 11,009 law enforcement agencies that submitted three to six months of comparable data to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program for the first six months of 2013 and 2014.

Violent Crime
  • All the offenses in the violent crime category—murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape (revised definition), aggravated assault, and robbery—showed decreases when data from the first six months of 2014 were compared with data from the first six months of 2013. The number of murders declined 6.0 percent, the number of rapes (revised definition) declined 10.1 percent, aggravated assaults decreased 1.6 percent, and robbery offenses decreased 10.3 percent.
  • Violent crime decreased in all city groupings. The largest decrease, 6.7 percent, was noted in cities with fewer than 10,000 in population.
  • Violent crime decreased 7.6 percent in non-metropolitan counties and 4.4 percent in metropolitan counties.
  • Violent crime declined in each of the nation’s four regions. The largest decrease, 7.6 percent, was noted in the Midwest, followed by 6.6 percent in the Northeast, 3.0 percent in the South, and 2.7 percent in the West.
Property Crime
  • All three offenses in the property crime category—burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft—showed decreases in the number of offenses for January to June 2014 when compared with data for the same months of 2013. Burglary offenses dropped 14.0 percent. There was a 5.7 percent decrease in the number of motor vehicle thefts, and a 5.6 percent decrease in larceny-theft offenses.
  • Each of the city population groups had decreases in the overall number of property crimes. Law enforcement agencies in cities with populations under 10,000 inhabitants reported the largest decrease, 8.9 percent.
  • Property crime decreased 11.8 percent in non-metropolitan counties and 9.0 percent in metropolitan counties.
  • All four of the nation’s regions showed declines in the number of property crime: 12.5 percent in the Midwest, 7.6 percent in the Northeast, 5.9 percent in the South, and 5.8 percent in the West.

In the UCR Program, arson offenses are collected separately from other property crimes. The number of arson offenses decreased 6.5 percent in the first six months of 2014 when compared with figures for the first six months of 2013. All four regions reported decreases in the number of arsons—11.3 percent in the Midwest, 9.4 percent in the Northeast, 8.4 percent in the South, and 0.4 percent in the West.

Arson offenses decreased 13.0 percent in cities with populations of 500,000 to 999,999, the largest decrease within the city groupings. Arson offenses declined 9.9 percent in metropolitan counties but increased 0.4 percent in non-metropolitan counties.

Revised Definition of Rape

In 2013, the FBI’s UCR Program initiated the collection of rape data under a revised definition within the Summary Based Reporting System. The term “forcible” was removed from the offense name, and the definition was changed to “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

The number of rape incidents reported using the the revised definition, as well as the number of rapes submitted using the legacy definition, are both included in this report in separate columns in each table. The rape figures for those agencies that changed from reporting rape under the legacy definition in 2013 to the revised definition in 2014 are not included to calculate the trends reported in Tables 1-3, but they are reported in Table 4. Please note: Because rape data reported by all agencies for 2013 and 2014 cannot be aggregated, the percent changes from one year to the next are calculated with smaller numbers than in recent years. Offenses with fewer counts are often sensitive to minor differences when calculating trends. More information about this subject is presented in footnotes and data declarations for each table.

Caution against ranking: When the FBI publishes crime data via its UCR Program, some entities use the information to compile rankings of cities and counties. Such rankings, however, do not provide insight into the numerous variables that shape crime in a given town, city, county, state, tribal area, or region. These rankings lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that can create misleading perceptions that adversely affect communities and their residents. Only through careful study and analyses into the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction can data users create valid assessments of crime. The data user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual reporting units from cities, metropolitan areas, states, or colleges or universities solely on the basis of their population or student enrollment.

Former CIA Officer Convicted For Unauthorized Disclosure Of National Defense Information And Obstruction of Justice

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

A former CIA officer was convicted today by a federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia, of illegally disclosing national defense information and obstructing justice.

Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director James B. Comey, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia made the announcement.

“This is a just and appropriate outcome,” said Attorney General Holder. “The defendant’s unauthorized disclosures of classified information compromised operations undertaken in defense of America’s national security.  The disclosures placed lives at risk. And they constituted an egregious breach of the public trust by someone who had sworn to uphold it. As this verdict proves, it is possible to fully prosecute unauthorized disclosures that inflict harm upon our national security without interfering with journalists' ability to do their jobs.  And I want to thank the investigators, prosecutors and support staff who made this outcome possible for their relentless efforts in advancing a complex case that spanned multiple years.”

“He violated his sworn duty to protect our nation's secrets and he betrayed our country,” said Director Comey.  “The FBI will continue to pursue these cases vigorously.”

“Jeffrey Sterling was trusted with the nation's most sensitive secrets and chose to expose them - putting our national security at risk, and endangering lives in the process,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “These cases are challenging, but vitally important to our efforts to secure critical intelligence on behalf of the American people.”

“Over 10 years ago a disgruntled former CIA employee disclosed extremely sensitive classified information to a journalist,” said U.S. Attorney Boente.  “That classified information was critical to our national defense, and releasing it was illegal and went against Mr. Sterling's professional commitments to the CIA.  Mr. Sterling's vindictive and careless choices ultimately led us here today and to this unanimous verdict. I would like to thank the trial team and our partners at the FBI's Washington Field Office and the Central Intelligence Agency for their hard work and commitment to this case.”

Jeffrey Alexander Sterling, 47, of O’Fallon, Missouri, was convicted today in the Eastern District of Virginia of six counts of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information, and one count each of unlawful retention of national defense information, unauthorized conveyance of government property and obstruction of justice.  Sterling was indicted on Dec. 22, 2010, and arrested on Jan. 6, 2011.  Sentencing is scheduled for April 24, 2015.

According to evidence presented at trial, Sterling was employed by the CIA from May 1993 to January 2002.  From November 1998 through May 2000, he was assigned to a classified clandestine operational program designed to undermine the Iranian nuclear weapons program.  He was also the operations officer assigned to handle a human asset associated with that program, a person identified at trial as Merlin.  Sterling was reassigned in May 2000, at which time he was no longer authorized to receive or possess classified documents concerning the program or the individual.

In connection with his employment, Sterling, who is a lawyer, signed various security, secrecy and non-disclosure agreements in which he agreed never to disclose classified information to unauthorized persons, acknowledged that classified information was the property of the CIA and also acknowledged that the unauthorized disclosure of classified information could constitute a criminal offense. 

These agreements also set forth the proper procedures to follow if Sterling had concerns that the CIA had engaged in any “unlawful or improper” conduct that implicated classified information.  These procedures permit such concerns to be addressed while still protecting the classified nature of the information.  The media was not an authorized party to receive such classified information.

In August 2000, Sterling pursued administrative and civil actions against the CIA.  Evidence at trial showed that Sterling, in retaliation for the CIA’s refusal to settle those actions on terms favorable to him, disclosed information concerning the classified operational program and the human asset to a New York Times reporter working on an unpublished article in early 2003 and a book the reporter published in January 2006.  Sterling’s civil and administrative claims were ultimately dismissed by the court.

Evidence demonstrated that in February and March 2003, Sterling made various telephone calls to the reporter’s residence and e-mailed a newspaper article about the weapons capabilities of a certain country that was within Sterling’s previous clandestine operational assignment.  While the possible newspaper article containing the classified information Sterling provided was ultimately not published in 2003, evidence showed that Sterling and the reporter remained in touch from December 2003 through November 2005 via telephone and e-mail.  In January 2006, the reporter published a book that contained classified information about the program and the human asset.

Evidence at trial showed that Sterling was aware of a grand jury investigation into the matter by June 2006, when he was served a grand jury subpoena for documents relating to the  reporter’s book.  Nevertheless, between April and July 2006, Sterling deleted the e-mail containing the classified information he had sent from his account in an effort to obstruct the investigation.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington, D.C., Field Office, with assistance in the arrest from the FBI’s St. Louis Field Office.  This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Eric G. Olshan of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Senior Litigation Counsel James L. Trump and Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis Fitzpatrick of the Eastern District of Virginia. 

Mexican National Sentenced To 15 Years For Participating In A Brutal Family Run Sex Trafficking Organization

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

The Department of Justice today announced a sentencing and guilty plea for two members of a family run sex trafficking organization based in southern Florida.  Rafael Alberto Cadena-Sosa was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Joes E. Martinez to serve 15 years in prison and Carmen Cadena pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Jose Martinez for participating in a brutal family run sex trafficking organization.

Rafael Alberto Cadena-Sosa

Cadena-Sosa, 46, a Mexican national, was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison for conspiring and holding a person in a condition of involuntary servitude.  Judge Martinez also ordered Cadena-Sosa to pay $1,261,563 in restitution to sixteen different victims.

On Oct. 9, 2014, Cadena-Sosa pleaded guilty to conspiracy and to holding a person in a condition of involuntary servitude.  As part of his plea, Cadena-Sosa admitted that he, along with other family members and associates, approached women and girls, some as young as fourteen years old, in Veracruz, Mexico, and lured them into coming to the United States using false promises of legitimate jobs.  After illegally smuggling women and girls into the United States, Cadena-Sosa and other family members imposed a smuggling debt and used brutal physical force and violence, sexual assaults, and threats of death and bodily harm to the victims and their families to compel the victims to engage in prostitution 12 hours a day, six days a week and turn over the proceeds to the defendants to pay down the smuggling debts the defendants imposed.  Cadena-Sosa and other family members would also search for victims who had run away from a brothel and subject them to beatings and rapes upon capture.

Carmen Cadena

Cadena, 48, a Mexican national, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy for conspiring with other members of the Cadena organization to unlawfully encourage and bring undocumented victims into the U.S.; unlawfully transport victims within the U.S.; unlawfully harbor victims within the U.S.; unlawfully coerce and transport victims, including victims as young as 14-years-old, into the U.S. for purposes of illegal sexual activity; and unlawfully use extortionate means to collect extensions of credit made to the victims. 

Cadena faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $500,000.  Sentencing is scheduled to occur on May 18, 2015.  According to the terms of the plea agreement, the parties will jointly recommend the maximum sentence of five years in prison and $1,261,563 in restitution to 16 victims.

Sixteen defendants were charged in a superseding indictment filed in 1998.  Mexican authorities arrested Rafael Alberto Cadena-Sosa and Carmen Cadena and extradited them to the United States in November 2013 and December 2014, respectively.  Four other members of the Cadena sex trafficking organization have been convicted, including Cadena-Sosa’s uncle, Rogerio Cadena, who pleaded guilty in 1999 and was sentenced to 15 years; Cadena-Sosa’s brother, Abel Cadena-Sosa, who was convicted in Mexico and sentenced to 24 years, and two other brothers, Hugo and Juan Luis Cadena-Sosa—Carmen Cadena’s husband—, who pleaded guilty in 2002 and 2008, and were sentenced to five years and 15 years respectively.  Six other defendants previously pleaded guilty in federal court in connection with the scheme, and one was convicted in state court for a murder outside a Cadena-run brothel.

Since 2009, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security as well as law enforcement agencies in Mexico, have worked to develop high-impact prosecutions to dismantle human trafficking networks operating across the U.S.-Mexico border, bring human traffickers to justice, restore the rights and dignity of human trafficking victims, and reunite victims with their children held under the trafficking networks’ control.  These efforts have resulted in numerous successful prosecutions, including U.S. federal prosecutions of over 50 defendants in multiple cases in Georgia, New York, Florida, and Texas since 2009.

“No human being should have to endure the violence and brutality these young women and girls suffered at the hands of the Cadena organization,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division.  “These violations of the victims’ individual rights and freedom are intolerable and the Department of Justice will continue in its commitment to bringing human traffickers to justice and restore the rights and dignity of the courageous survivors of this crime.”
“Rafael Cadena-Sosa and Carmen Cadena preyed on vulnerable girls and young women and lured them to the United States with the promise of a better life,” said U.S. Attorney Wilfredo A. Ferrer for the Southern District of Florida.  “Instead, Cadena-Sosa and his family and associates robbed these victims of their freedom and dignity, brutally beat them and subjected them to modern-day slavery. The dismantling of the Cadena organization reaffirms our unwavering commitment to prosecute those who seek to profit at the expense of the suffering of to others.  We will continue to work with our domestic and international law enforcement partners to bring justice to those who engage in this inhumane practice.  This case is one example of bilateral progress to effectively dismantle human trafficking networks operating across the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“The long prison sentence imposed upon Rafael Alberto Cadena-Sosa is a testament to the cooperation and commitment of numerous law enforcement agencies both here and in Mexico to stop this appalling criminal activity,” said Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI Miami Office.  “We will continue working with our partners to dismantle human trafficking networks such as this one that operate in the shadows and brutalize their victims.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General Gupta and U.S. Attorney Ferrer praised the collaborative efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies throughout the investigation and prosecution, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Office of International Affairs, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, West Palm Beach Police Department, Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Pierce Police Department, Avon Park Police Department, Boynton Beach Police Department, and Lee County Sheriff’s Office.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Adam McMichael and Trial Attorney Matthew Grady of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.  

Monday, January 26, 2015

Attorney General, Manhattan U.S. Attorney, And FBI Announce Charges Against Russian Spy Ring In New York City

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

Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States, Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John S. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and Randall C. Coleman, the Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) for the Counterintelligence Division, announced charges today against EVGENY BURYAKOV, a/k/a “Zhenya,” IGOR SPORYSHEV, and VICTOR PODOBNYY in connection with BURYAKOV’s service as a covert intelligence agent on behalf of the Russian Federation (“Russia”) in New York City, without notifying the United States Attorney General of BURYAKOV’s status as an agent of Russia, as required by federal law.

BURYAKOV was placed under arrest earlier today in Bronx, New York, and is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn in Manhattan federal court later today. SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY no longer reside in the United States and have not been arrested. By virtue of their prior positions in the United States on behalf of Russia, both of them were protected by diplomatic immunity from arrest and prosecution while in the United States.

Attorney General Eric Holder said: “These charges demonstrate our firm commitment to combating attempts by covert agents to illegally gather intelligence and recruit spies within the United States. We will use every tool at our disposal to identify and hold accountable foreign agents operating inside this country—no matter how deep their cover. I want to thank the dedicated men and women of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division and New York Field Office, the National Security Division’s Counterespionage Section, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York for their skilled handling of this complex and highly sensitive matter.”

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Following our previous prosecution with the FBI of Russian spies, who were expelled from the United States in 2010 when their plan to infiltrate upper levels of U.S. business and government was revealed, the arrest of Evgeny Buryakov and the charges against him and his co-defendants make clear that—more than two decades after the presumptive end of the Cold War—Russian spies continue to seek to operate in our midst under cover of secrecy. Indeed, the presence of a Russian banker in New York would in itself hardly draw attention today, which is why these alleged spies may have thought Buryakov would blend in. What they could not do without drawing the attention of the FBI was engage in espionage. New York City may be more hospitable to Russian businessmen than during the Cold War, but my Office and the FBI remain vigilant to the illegal intelligence-gathering activities of other nations.”

Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin said: “The attempt by foreign nations to illegally gather economic and other intelligence information in the United States through covert agents is a direct threat to the national security of the United States, and it exemplifies why counterespionage is a top priority of the National Security Division. I want to thank the FBI’s New York Field Office and Counterintelligence Division as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York for their continued effort to conduct these highly complex and sensitive counterespionage investigations and prosecutions, and for their continued close partnership with the National Security Division and the Counterespionage Section.”

FBI Assistant Director Randall Coleman said: “This investigation is one of many that highlight the determined and prolific efforts by foreign governments to target Americans for the purposes of collecting intelligence and stealing secrets. This case is especially egregious as it demonstrates the actions of a foreign intelligence service to integrate a covert intelligence agent into American society under the cover of an employee in the financial sector. Espionage is as pervasive today as it has even been, and FBI counterintelligence teams will continue to aggressively investigate and expose hostile foreign intelligence activities conducted on U.S. soil.”

According to the Complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court today:

BURYAKOV worked in the United States as an agent of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, known as the “SVR.” BURYAKOV operated under “non-official cover,” meaning he entered and remained in the United States as a private citizen, posing as an employee in the Manhattan office of a Russian bank. SVR agents operating under such non-official cover—sometimes referred to as “NOCs”—typically are subject to less scrutiny by the host government, and, in many cases, are never identified as intelligence agents by the host government. As a result, a NOC is an extremely valuable intelligence asset for the SVR.

Federal law prohibits individuals from acting as agents of foreign governments within the United States without prior notification to the United States Attorney General. Department of Justice records indicate that BURYAKOV has never notified the United States Attorney General that he is, in fact, an agent of Russia.

SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY are also SVR agents who worked in the United States to gather intelligence on behalf of Russia by posing as official representatives of Russia. From November 22, 2010, to November 21, 2014, SPORYSHEV served as a Trade Representative of the Russian Federation in New York. From December 13, 2012, to September 12, 2013, PODOBNYY served as an Attaché to the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations. Based on their official government postings on behalf of Russia, SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY are exempt from notifying the United States Attorney General of the true nature of their work. However, that exemption does not permit them to conspire with, or aid and abet, BURYAKOV in his work as an unregistered agent of Russia operating within the United States.

The intelligence-gathering efforts of SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY included, among other things, (i) attempting to recruit New York City residents as intelligence sources for Russia; (ii) tasking BURYAKOV to gather intelligence; and (iii) transmitting intelligence reports prepared by BURYAKOV back to SVR headquarters in Moscow. Specifically, during the course of the charged offenses, SPORYSHEV was responsible for relaying assignments from the SVR to BURYAKOV, and SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY were responsible for analyzing and reporting back to the SVR about the fruits of BURYAKOV’s intelligence-gathering efforts.

The directives from the SVR to BURYAKOV, SPORYSHEV, and PODOBNYY, as well as to other covert SVR agents acting within the United States, included requests to gather intelligence on, among other subjects, potential United States sanctions against Russian banks and the United States’ efforts to develop alternative energy resources.

Clandestine Meetings and Communications

During the course of their work as covert SVR agents in the United States, BURYAKOV, SPORYSHEV, and PODOBNYY regularly met and communicated using clandestine methods and coded messages, in order to exchange intelligence-related information while shielding their associations with one another as SVR agents. These efforts were designed, among other things, to preserve their respective covers as an employee of a bank in Manhattan (BURYAKOV), a Trade Representative of the Russian Federation in New York (SPORYSHEV), and an Attaché to the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations (PODOBNYY). In particular, the defendants worked to safeguard BURYAKOV’s work as a “NOC.”

SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY acted as covert intermediaries for BURYAKOV to communicate with the SVR on intelligence-related matters. As an agent posing as someone without any official ties to the Russian government or the SVR, BURYAKOV was unable to access the SVR New York Office—which is located within an office maintained by Russia in New York, New York—without potentially alerting others to his association with the SVR. As such, BURYAKOV required the assistance of other SVR agents, like SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY, to exchange communications and information with the SVR through the communications systems located in the SVR New York Office.

From as early as March 2012 through as recently as mid-September 2014, the FBI has conducted physical or electronic surveillance of BURYAKOV and SPORYSHEV engaging in over four dozen brief meetings, several of which involved BURYAKOV passing a bag, magazine, or slip of paper to SPORYSHEV. These meetings typically took place outdoors, where the risk of effective surveillance was reduced relative to an indoor location.

These meetings were nearly always preceded by a short telephone call between BURYAKOV and SPORYSHEV during which one of the men typically told the other that he had an item to give to him. Typically, during these telephone calls, which were intercepted by the FBI, the item in question was referred to as some non-specific “ticket,” “book,” “list,” or other ordinary item (e.g., “umbrella” or “hat”).

Subsequently, at each meeting surveilled by the FBI, BURYAKOV and SPORYSHEV met and sometimes exchanged documents or other small items. Notably, despite discussing on approximately one dozen occasions the need to meet to transfer “tickets,” BURYAKOV and SPORYSHEV, were—other than one occasion where they discussed going to a movie—never observed attending, or discussing in any detail, events that would typically require tickets, such as a sporting event or concert. In fact, BURYAKOV and SPORYSHEV used this coded language to signal that they needed to meet, and then met to exchange intelligence information.

Attempts by Sporyshev and Podobnyy to Recruit Intelligence Sources in New York City

In numerous recorded communications, SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY discussed their attempts to recruit United States residents, including several individuals employed by major companies, and several young women with ties to a major university located in New York, New York (“University-1”), as intelligence sources for the SVR. On these recordings, the defendants discussed the potential value of these sources, and identified particular sources by use of a “source name,” which appears to be a coded name. In addition, during these recordings, SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY discussed the efforts of other SVR agents to recruit a number of other Russian-origin individuals associated with University-1 as intelligence sources.

For example, SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY discussed PODOBNYY’s efforts to recruit a male working as a consultant in New York City as an intelligence source. During this conversation, PODOBNYY explained his source recruitment method, which included cheating, promising favors, and then discarding the intelligence source once the relevant information was obtained by the SVR: “This is intelligence method to cheat. . . . You promise a favor for a favor. You get the documents from him and tell him to go [expletive] himself.”

In other recorded conversations, SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY made clear that they worked for the SVR. For example, on January 31, 2013, SPORYSHEV and another SVR agent not charged in the Complaint (“CC-1”) had a discussion inside the SVR New York Office about their contracts with the SVR. SPORYSHEV stated that, “Everyone has a five-year contract,” and explained, in response to CC-1’s question about reimbursement for the travel of SVR agents’ family members, that “travel for military personnel and their families on authorized home leave is paid, and in our, in our SVR, this, the payment for getting to and from the duty station.” In addition, on April 25, 2013, SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY discussed the use of nontraditional cover for Russian intelligence officers and, in particular, the Illegals program that ended with the arrest of 10 “deep cover” SVR agents in July 2010.

Buryakov’s Intelligence Taskings

SPORYSHEV was responsible for relaying intelligence assignments from the SVR to BURYAKOV. The FBI obtained electronic recordings of several conversations relating to such intelligence directives being communicated to and carried out by BURYAKOV in his position as an SVR agent acting under non-official cover. For example, on May 21, 2013, SPORYSHEV called BURYAKOV to ask for BURYAKOV’s help in formulating questions to be used for intelligence gathering purposes by others associated with a leading Russian state-owned news organization (the “News Organization”). BURYAKOV responded by supplying SPORYSHEV with a particular line of questioning about the New York Stock Exchange for use by the News Organization.

Buryakov’s Receipt of Purported Official United States Government Documents

In the summer of 2014, BURYAKOV met numerous times with a confidential source working for the FBI (“CS-1”). CS-1 posed as the representative of a wealthy investor looking to develop casinos in Russia. During the course of these meetings, and consistent with his interests as a Russian intelligence agent, BURYAKOV demonstrated his strong desire to obtain information about subjects far outside the scope of his work as a bank employee. During these meetings, BURYAKOV also accepted documents that CS-1 claimed he had obtained from a U.S. government agency and which purportedly contained information potentially useful to Russia, including information about United States sanctions against Russia.
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BURYAKOV, 39, SPORYSHEV, 40, and PODOBNYY, 27, are charged in two counts. The first count charges the defendants with participating in a conspiracy for BURYAKOV to act in the United States as an agent of a foreign government without first notifying the Attorney General, and carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The second count charges BURYAKOV with acting in the United States as an agent of a foreign government without first notifying the Attorney General, and charges SPORYSHEV and PODOBYNYY with aiding and abetting that offense. The second count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam Fee, Ian McGinley, and Anna M. Skotko of the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and Senior Trial Attorney Heather Schmidt of the Counterespionage Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.

The charges in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.