Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Fat Rat: George Anastasia Looks Back At The Life Of Criminal Ron Previte

Veteran organized crime reporter and author George Anastasia looks back at the life of criminal Ron Previte for

They called him the Fat Rat, but he didn’t really care.

Ron Previte always knew who he was and what he had done. And he was okay with that, which made him unique in the underworld and immune to the slurs and epithets other wiseguys threw at him.

For him, it was a game and he always thought he knew how to play it better than they did.

It wasn’t about right or wrong, about morals or ethics. When it came to crime, he was totally amoral. He would smile and say he was a “general practitioner.” He did it all.

And becoming an informant, first for the New Jersey State Police, and then for the FBI, was part of his practice.

Previte died two months ago. He had been sick for over a year, battling various ailments that eventually led to a fatal heart attack. He was 73.

“What would you have bet that it would have been a heart attack that took him out?” an FBI agent asked at Previte’s memorial service. A dozen other law enforcement officials standing in the back of the funeral parlor down in Hammonton, NJ, that night nodded and smiled.

Nobody figured he would die of natural causes.

Ronnie Previte lived life on the edge and most people figured that he would die out there taking another chance, trying to make one more score.

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

You can also read my Philadelphia Inquirer review of George Anastasia’s book on Ron Previte, The Last Gangster, below:


Friday, October 20, 2017

Justice Department Announces First Ever Indictments Against Designated Chinese Manufacturers Of Deadly Fentanyl And Other Opiate Substances

The Drug Enforcement Administration released the below information:

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that federal grand juries in the Southern District of Mississippi and the District of North Dakota returned indictments, unsealed yesterday, against two Chinese nationals and their North American based traffickers and distributors for separate conspiracies to distribute large quantities of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues and other opiate substances in the United States.  

The Chinese nationals are the first manufacturers and distributors of fentanyl and other opiate substances to be designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs). CPOT designations are those who have “command and control” elements of the most prolific international drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.

On Sept. 7, Xiaobing Yan, 40, of China, was indicted in the Southern District of Mississippi on two counts of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute multiple controlled substances, including fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, and seven counts of manufacturing and distributing the drugs in specific instances.  

Yan, a distributor of a multitude of illegal drugs, used different names and company identities over a period of at least six years and operated websites selling acetyl fentanyl and other deadly fentanyl analogues directly to U.S. customers in multiple cities across the country.  Yan also operated at least two chemical plants in China that were capable of producing ton quantities of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues.  Yan monitored legislation and law enforcement activities in the United States and China, modifying the chemical structure of the fentanyl analogues he produced to evade prosecution in the United States. 

Over the course of the investigation, federal agents identified more than 100 distributors of synthetic opioids involved with Yan’s manufacturing and distribution networks.  Federal investigations of the distributors are ongoing in 10 judicial districts, and investigators have traced illegal proceeds of the distribution network.  In addition, law enforcement agents intercepted packages mailed from Yan’s Internet pharmaceutical companies, seizing multiple kilograms of suspected acetyl fentanyl, potentially enough for thousands of lethal doses.

On Sept. 20, Jian Zhang, 38, of China, five Canadian citizens, two residents of Florida, and a resident of New Jersey were indicted in the District of North Dakota for conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and fentanyl analogues in the United States, conspiracy to import the drugs from Canada and China, a money laundering conspiracy, an international money laundering conspiracy, and operation of a continuing criminal enterprise.  Zhang ran an organization that manufactured fentanyl in at least four known labs in China and advertised and sold fentanyl to U.S. customers over the Internet.  Zhang’s organization would send orders of fentanyl or other illicit drugs, or pill presses, stamps, or dies used to shape fentanyl into pills, to customers in the United States through the mail or international parcel delivery services.  Federal law enforcement agents determined that Zhang sent many thousands of these packages since January of 2013.

On Oct. 11, Elizabeth Ton, 26, and Anthony Gomes, 33, both of Davie, Florida were arrested. On Oct. 12, Darius Ghahary, 48, of Ramsey, New Jersey was arrested. Ton, Gomes, and Ghahary are charged with drug trafficking conspiracy in the Zhang indictment.

The investigations of Yan and Zhang revealed a new and disturbing facet of the opioid crisis in America:  fentanyl and fentanyl analogues are coming into the United States in numerous ways, including highly pure shipments of fentanyl from factories in China directly to U.S. customers who purchase it on the Internet.  Unwary or inexperienced users often have no idea that they are ingesting fentanyl until it is too late.  The Centers for Disease Control estimates that over 20,000 Americans were killed by fentanyl and fentanyl analogues in 2016, and the number is rising at an exponential rate.

Zhang was charged with conduct resulting in the deaths of four individuals in North Carolina, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Oregon in 2014 and 2015 and the serious bodily injuries related to five additional individuals.

These recent law enforcement efforts to keep fentanyl and fentanyl analogues from entering the United States were announced by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein; Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Acting Deputy Director Peter T. Edge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Assistant Commissioner Joanne Crampton of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

“Zhang and Yan are the first Chinese nationals designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs),” said Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.  “CPOTs are among the most significant drug trafficking threats in the world. The defendants allegedly shipped massive quantities of deadly fentanyl and other synthetic opioids to communities throughout the United States, mostly purchased on the Internet and sent through the mail.  The chemicals allegedly killed and injured people in several states, and surely caused misery to many thousands of people.  Under the leadership of President Trump and Attorney General Sessions, we are taking back our communities by pursuing suppliers of deadly drugs wherever they are located.”

“Xiaobing Yan, Jian Zhang and their respective associates represent one of the most significant drug threats facing the country – overseas organized crime groups capable of producing nearly any synthetic drug imaginable, including fentanyl, and who attempt to hide their tracks with web-based sales, international shipments and cryptocurrency transactions,” said DEA Acting Administrator Patterson.  “At a time when overdose deaths are at catastrophic levels, one of DEA’s top priorities is the pursuit of criminal organizations distributing their poison to American neighborhoods. These indictments are a first step; our investigators remain relentless in their pursuit to dismantle these organizations and bring those responsible to justice. DEA, along with our global network of law enforcement partners, will go after these types of criminals wherever they operate.”

“This case began when local police officers responded to what has become an all-too familiar tragedy in the United States: the heroin and fentanyl overdose of two young adults, one who survived and another who did not,” said ICE Acting Deputy Director Edge. “Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Drug trafficking organizations that deal in such a deadly game will have to face the combined resources of federal law enforcement agencies and our international partners. ICE Homeland Security Investigations is committed to helping combat this new and growing epidemic.”

“We live in an increasingly global and interconnected world – crime has no borders,” said Assistant Commissioner Crampton. “Law enforcement must respond accordingly by working beyond our borders together to detect and disrupt criminal activity. By fostering a solid integrated and coordinated law enforcement approach, we will continue to disrupt international drug trafficking networks.”

The cases against Yan and Zhang are being investigated by the DEA, ICE Homeland Security Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the RCMP.  Valuable investigative assistance has also been provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Ministry of Public Security of China.  The case against Yan is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Meynardie in the Southern District of Mississippi.  The case against Zhang is being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Chris Myers and Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Kerin in the District of North Dakota, along with Trial Attorney Adrienne Rose of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section.  Substantial prosecutorial assistance has been provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Oregon and the Quebec office of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.

Both of the indictments announced today are the result of coordinated, multi-agency, multi-national investigations conducted by agents and investigators of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), and were further supported with national and international coordination led by the multi-agency Special Operations Division (SOD).  The OCDETF Program is a partnership between federal, state, local, and international law enforcement agencies. The OCDETF mission is to target the most serious transnational organized crime threats facing the United States, including drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering.  Prior to the announcement of these indictments, Jian Zhang and Xiaobing Yan were designated as OCDETF Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs), and are considered by the United States as some of the most significant drug trafficking threats in the world.

If convicted, Yan faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine, and three years of supervised release. Zhang faces up to life in prison and $12.5 million in fines. Any sentences will be determined at the discretion of the district courts after considering any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Twenty-one individuals in total have been indicted on federal drug charges in both North Dakota and Oregon as part of the investigation. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Truth About The Vietnam War

Bruce Herschensohn offers a concise history of the Vietnam War and the aftermath in a six-minute video.

You can watch the video via the below link:

And /or you can read transcript below:

Decades back, in late 1972, South Vietnam and the United States were winning the Vietnam War decisively by every conceivable measure. That's not just my view. That was the view of our enemy, the North Vietnamese government officials.  Victory was apparent when President Nixon ordered the U.S. Air Force to bomb industrial and military targets in Hanoi, North Viet Nam's capital city, and in Haiphong, its major port city, and we would stop the bombing if the North Vietnamese would attend the Paris Peace Talks that they had left earlier. The North Vietnamese did go back to the Paris Peace talks, and we did stop the bombing as promised.

On January the 23rd, 1973, President Nixon gave a speech to the nation on primetime television announcing that the Paris Peace Accords had been initialed by the United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, the Viet Cong, and the Accords would be signed on the 27th. What the United States and South Vietnam received in those accords was victory.  At the White House, it was called "VV Day," "Victory in Vietnam Day."

The U.S. backed up that victory with a simple pledge within the Paris Peace Accords saying: should the South require any military hardware to defend itself against any North Vietnam aggression we would provide replacement aid to the South on a piece-by-piece, one-to-one replacement, meaning a bullet for a bullet; a helicopter for a helicopter, for all things lost -- replacement.  The advance of communist tyranny had been halted by those accords.
Then it all came apart.  And It happened this way: In August of the following year, 1974, President Nixon resigned his office as a result of what became known as "Watergate." Three months after his resignation came the November congressional elections and within them the Democrats won a landslide victory for the new Congress and many of the members used their new majority to de-fund the military aid the U.S. had promised, piece for piece, breaking the commitment that we made to the South Vietnamese in Paris to provide whatever military hardware the South Vietnamese needed in case of aggression from the North. Put simply and accurately, a majority of Democrats of the 94th Congress did not keep the word of the United States.

On April the 10th of 1975, President Gerald Ford appealed directly to those members of the congress in an evening Joint Session, televised to the nation.  In that speech he literally begged the Congress to keep the word of the United States.  But as President Ford delivered his speech, many of the members of the Congress walked out of the chamber. Many of them had an investment in America's failure in Vietnam. They had participated in demonstrations against the war for many years.  They wouldn't give the aid.

On April the 30th South Vietnam surrendered and Re-education Camps were constructed, and the phenomenon of the Boat People began.  If the South Vietnamese had received the arms that the United States promised them would the result have been different? It already had been different. The North Vietnamese leaders admitted that they were testing the new President, Gerald Ford, and they took one village after another, then cities, then provinces and our only response was to go back on our word. The U.S. did not re-supply the South Vietnamese as we had promised. It was then that the North Vietnamese knew they were on the road to South Vietnam's capital city, Saigon, that would soon be renamed Ho Chi Minh City.

Former Arkansas Senator William Fulbright, who had been the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee made a public statement about the surrender of South Vietnam.  He said this, "I am no more distressed than I would be about Arkansas losing a football game to Texas."  The U.S. knew that North Vietnam would violate the accords and so we planned for it. What we did not know was that our own Congress would violate the accords. And violate them, of all things, on behalf of the North Vietnamese. That's what happened.

I'm Bruce Herschensohn.

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on the Vietnam War and the lessons learned for Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terrorism via the below link:


Attorney General Applauds FBI's Massive Sex Trafficking Crackdown

The U.S Justice Department released the below information:

On Oct. 18, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), announced that 84 minors were recovered and 120 traffickers were arrested as part of Operation Cross Country XI, a nationwide effort focusing on underage human trafficking that ran from Oct. 12 to 15. 

The Attorney General made the following statement on this crackdown:

“Every American has the right to be safe from violence and exploitation, and it is the mission of this Department to help secure that right.  Today we take the next step toward that mission with the arrest of more than 120 alleged sex traffickers and the recovery of more than 80 trafficking survivors.

“I want to thank and commend the dedicated men and women of the FBI, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and our local, state and international law enforcement partners who made these arrests and rescues possible.  They have delivered results that make this country safer and show clearly that collaboration makes us more effective in combating child exploitation.

“The Justice Department will continue to pursue our mission and, to that end, we will remain tireless in our efforts to rescue victims and put those who victimize children behind bars.”
From the FBI Release:

This is the 11th iteration of the FBI-led Operation Cross Country (OCC), which took place this year in 55 FBI field offices and involved 78 state and local task forces, consisting of hundreds of law enforcement partners. This year’s coordinated operations took place with several international partners, including Canada (Operation Northern Spotlight), the United Kingdom (Aident 8), Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines.

“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm.  Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested—and the number of children recovered—reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “This operation isn't just about taking traffickers off the street. It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse."

As part of Operation Cross Country XI, FBI agents and task force officers staged operations in hotels, casinos, and truck stops, as well as on street corners and Internet websites. The youngest victim recovered during this year’s operation was 3 months old, and the average age of victims recovered during the operation was 15 years old. Minors recovered during Cross Country Operations are offered assistance from state protective services and the FBI’s Victim Services Division. Depending on the level of need, victims are offered medical and mental health counseling, as well as a number of other services.

“Child sex trafficking is happening in every community across America, and at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we’re working to combat this problem every day,” said NCMEC President and CEO John Clark. “We’re proud to work with the FBI on Operation Cross Country to help find and recover child victims. We hope OCC generates more awareness about this crisis impacting our nation’s children.”

Operation Cross Country XI is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which began in 2003 and has yielded more than 6,500 child identifications and locations. For additional information on Operation Cross Country XI and the Innocence Lost initiative, please visit

Examples of stories from various cities that took part in Operation Cross Country XI:

On October 13th, FBI Denver recovered two minor girls—one 3-month-old and one 5-year-old. The subject, a friend of the children's family, offered an undercover officer access to the two children for sexual purposes in exchange for $600. The FBI is working with Child Protective Services to conduct a forensic interview and secure safe placement of the children. The subject was placed under arrest.

Also on October 13th, a 16-year old female victim was recovered by FBI El Paso, after an undercover agent called an online advertisement for entertainment. Shortly thereafter, the agent met with a 21-year-old female, who offered a fee of $200 to engage in sexual intercourse with her and another female, the 16-year-old victim. Further investigations revealed that a second adult female drove the minor and the 21-year-old to the undercover’s location. Both female subjects have been arrested on federal charges.  

Note: You can watch an FBI video clip via the below link: 

On This Day In History Spy Novelist John le Carre Was Born

As notes, John le Carre, author of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, was born on this day in 1931.

You can read about John le Carre via the below link:

You can also read my Washington Times review of John le Carre’s latest novel, A Legacy of Spies via the below link:

And you can also read my Washington Times review of John le Carre: The Biography via the below link:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Why The United States Needs A 355-Ship Navy Now

Robert O’Brien and Jerry Hendrix state their case for a 350-ship Navy in National Review.

One of President Trump’s signature campaign promises to the American people was a 350-ship Navy. The Navy itself has stated unequivocally that it needs a bare minimum of 355 ships to meet the missions with which it has been tasked by our regional combatant commanders. Yet, sadly, it is becoming clear that no real budgetary steps have been or will be taken to fund this promise. Further, there is nothing on the horizon to suggest that anything will change on this front.

The failure to rebuild America’s fleet could not have come at a worse time. The world has grown increasingly dangerous, with a nuclear madman in North Korea testing an ICBM a month, mullahs in Tehran plotting the takeover of the Middle East, Russia engaging in “frozen conflicts” in Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, a very hot civil war in Syria, and China appropriating a vast swath of the Pacific to itself. The forgoing list does not even take into account the United States’ continuing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and dozens of other remote locales where we are in daily combat with al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban, and their assorted jihadi fellow travelers.

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

Note: The above U.S. Navy photo is of the USS Chung-Hoon and the USS Nimitz.  

You can click on the photo to enlarge. 

The U.S. Navy Ready Off Korea

The U.S. Navy released the above photo and the below caption:

WATERS EAST OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA (Oct. 18, 2017) The Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and the forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) steam alongside ships from the Republic of Korea navy. Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, is conducting a bilateral training exercise with the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy designed to increase the readiness of U.S. and ROK forces and maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula.

The above U.S. Navy photo was taken by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate 

Note: You can click on the above photo to enlarge.

Joseph C. Goulden: How Russians Meddled In The 1938 Election

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden (seen in the below photo), a noted authority on intelligence matters, offers a piece in the Washington Times on how the Russians have a history of meddling in U.S. politics.

Did Russia meddle in the 2016 presidential election?

President Donald Trump emphatically says “no.” But the hierarchy of the U. S. intelligence community is equally firm in saying “yes.” With three probes in progress — two by Congress, another by an independent counsel — an answer perhaps will eventually be found.

But such Moscow meddling would not be without precedent Documents from the archives of the Russian spy agency NKVD — later the KGB — detail a communist attempt in 1938 to unseat U.S. Rep. Howard W. Smith, who represented the 8th Congressional District in Northern Virginia.

Mr. Smith was one of many conservative congressmen who opposed President Roosevelt’s New Deal measures. As a result, the White House targeted them for replacement by reliable liberals.
But Moscow went against Mr. Smith for another reason. He wrote the so-called “Smith Act,” which made it a crime to advocate overthrow of the government by violent means, or to be a member of any group advocating such actions. The primary targets of Mr. Smith and other sponsors were worrisome to Nazi-oriented groups as war loomed in Europe.

But the Communist Party, USA, (CPUSA) was also on their minds. Hence Moscow’s alarm. (More than 100 CPUSA members would be convicted before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the act. But the party was decimated.)

As their candidate against Mr. Smith in the Democratic primary, the NKVD station in New York chose William Dodd, Jr., son of the U. S. ambassador in Berlin. NKVD files show that journalist I.F. Stone did the recruiting. Mr. Dodd was a sometime-journalist who wrote for several Communist publications, although he would always deny CPUSA membership.

At the insistence of the New York station, Moscow gave Mr. Dodd $1,500 — equivalent to $26,000 today. A receipt was obtained, which meant Mr. Dodd was now in Russia’s hands.

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

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine interview with Joseph C. Goulden via the below link:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Oliver North: A Faulty Retelling Of ‘The Vietnam War’ - Richard Nixon Kept His Promises, Ken Burns Did Not

Vietnam veteran and retired Marine Lt Colonel Oliver North offers his take on Ken Burns' PBS documentary The Vietnam War in the Washington Times. 

When Richard Nixon was in the White House, I was in Vietnam and he was my commander in chief. When I was on Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council staff, I had the opportunity to brief former President Nixon on numerous occasions and came to admire his analysis of current events, insights on world affairs and compassion for our troops. His preparation for any meeting or discussion was exhaustive. His thirst for information was unquenchable and his tolerance for fools was nonexistent.

Mr. Nixon’s prosecution of the war in Southeast Asia is poorly told by Ken Burns in his new Public Broadcasting Service documentary “The Vietnam War.” That is but one of many reasons Mr. Burns‘ latest work is such a disappointment and a tragic lost opportunity.

It’s sad, but I’ve come to accept that the real story of the heroic American GIs in Vietnam may never be told. Like too many others, Ken Burns portrays the young soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines of the Vietnam War as pot-smoking, drug-addicted, hippie marauders.

Those with whom I served were anything but. They did not commit the atrocities alleged in the unforgivable lies John Kerry described to a congressional committee so prominently featured by Mr. Burns. The troops my brother and I were blessed to lead were honorable, heroic and tenacious. They were patriotic, proud of their service, and true to their God and our country.
To depict them otherwise, as Mr. Burns does, is an egregious disservice to them, the families of the fallen and to history. But his treatment of my fellow Vietnam War veterans is just the start. Some of the most blatant travesties in the film are reserved for President Nixon.

Because of endless fairy tales told by Ken Burns and others, many Americans associate Richard Nixon with the totality and the worst events of Vietnam. It’s hardly evident in the Burns “documentary,” but important to note: When Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968, he inherited a nation — and a world — engulfed in discord and teetering on the brink of widespread chaos. His predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, was forced from office with a half-million U.S. troops mired in combat and fierce anti-American government demonstrations across the country and in our nation’s capital.

Ken Burns may not recall — but my family remembers: It was Lyndon Johnson who sent my brother and me to war. It was Richard Nixon who brought us home. It is very likely we are alive today because Mr. Nixon kept his word.

… President Nixon pressed on to all but finish the war. As promised, he brought our combat units home, returned 591 prisoners of war to their wives and families, ended the draft, leveraged the conflict to open ties with China and improved relations with the Soviet Union. He pushed both Communist giants in Beijing and Moscow to force their North Vietnamese puppet into a negotiated settlement. Yet he is portrayed in the Burns documentary as a cold-blooded, calculating politician more interested in re-election than the lives of U.S. troops in combat.
Contrary to the film’s portrayal, Mr. Nixon had a complicated strategy to achieve “peace with honor.” His goal was to train and equip the South Vietnamese military to defend their own country in a process he called “Vietnamization,” and thereby withdraw American troops.

President Nixon succeeded in isolating the North Vietnamese diplomatically and negotiated a peace agreement that preserved the right of the people of South Vietnam to determine their own political future. Imperfect as the Saigon government was, by 1973 the South Vietnamese had many well-trained troops and units that fought well and were proud to be our allies. This intricate and sophisticated approach took shape over four wartime years but receives only superficial mention in Mr. Burns‘ production.

… By the time President Nixon resigned office on Aug. 9, 1974, the Vietnam War was all but won and the South Vietnamese were confident of securing a permanent victory. But in December 1974 — three months after Mr. Nixon departed the White House — a vengeful, Democrat-dominated Congress cut off all aid to South Vietnam.

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

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine interview with Oliver North via the below link:

On This Day In History Al Capone, The Most Notorious Gangster In America, Went To Prison

As notes, on this in history Al Capone went to prison.

On this day in 1931, gangster Al Capone is sentenced to 11 years in prison for tax evasion and fined $80,000, signaling the downfall of one of the most notorious criminals of the 1920s and 1930s.

Alphonse Gabriel Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1899 to Italian immigrants. He was expelled from school at 14, joined a gang and earned his nickname “Scarface” after being sliced across the cheek during a fight. By 1920, Capone had moved to Chicago, where he was soon helping to run crime boss Johnny Torrio’s illegal enterprises, which included alcohol-smuggling, gambling and prostitution. Torrio retired in 1925 after an attempt on his life and Capone, known for his cunning and brutality, was put in charge of the organization.

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

You can also read my Crime Beat column on Al Capone via the below link:

And you can read my Washington Times review of Eliot Ness: The Rise and Fall of an American Hero via the below link:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Issues Statement On FBI Statistics Showing Staggering Rise In Law Enforcement Officers Killed And Assaulted In The Line of Duty In 2016

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

Attorney General Jeff Sessions today issued the following statement on the FBI's 2016 Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report, which show an unacceptable rise in law enforcement officers assaulted and killed in the line of duty:

"Every law enforcement officer goes to work knowing that today might be his or her last.  But last year, we saw a staggering 61 percent increase in the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty because of a felony, and on average, more than 150 officers were assaulted in the line of duty every single day. These numbers are as shocking as they are unacceptable.

“Our law enforcement deserves the support of the people they serve. Fortunately we have a President who understands this.  President Trump ran for office as a law-and-order candidate; now he is governing as a law-and-order President.

“In one of his first Executive Orders to this Department, President Trump directed us to prevent violence against law enforcement officers.  He stands with our law enforcement 100 percent—and so does this Department of Justice. That's one more reason why we're focused on the President's goal of reducing violent crime and united with local, state, and federal law enforcement in our shared mission to protect law-abiding people in every community."

According to statistics collected by the FBI, 118 law enforcement officers were killed in line-of-duty incidents in 2016 – this is a 37 percent increase from 2015, when 86 law enforcement officers were killed in line-of-duty incidents.

Additionally, in 2016 there were 66 law enforcement officers killed in line-of-duty incidents as a result of felonious acts – this is a staggering 61 percent increase from 2015, when 41 law enforcement officer were killed in line-of-duty incidents.

Moreover, 57,180 officers were victims of line-of-duty assaults – this is a 14 percent rise from the 50,212 officer that were victims of line-of-duty assaults in 2015.

For the full comprehensive data tables about these incidents and brief narratives describing the fatal attacks and selected assaults resulting in injury, please see  the 2016 edition of Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report, released today. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Chelsea Bomber Ahmad Khan Rahimi Convicted For Executing September 2016 Bombing In New York City

A jury returned a guilty verdict today against Ahmad Khan Rahimi, aka, “Ahmad Rahami,” 29, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, in Manhattan federal court on all eight counts of the Indictment, which charged him with offenses related to his execution and attempted execution of bombings in New York City on Sept. 17, 2016.  Rahimi, who faces mandatory sentence of life in prison, is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 18, 2018.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim for the Southern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Office and  Commissioner James P. O’Neill of the NYPD made the announcement.  U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman presided over the two-week trial.

“Ahmad Khan Rahimi constructed bombs with high explosives and shrapnel to inflict maximum damage to innocent victims in multiple locations,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente.  “The defendant's bombs caused injuries to numerous people.  Thanks to outstanding investigative work, the defendant was identified and arrested before he could do any more harm.  This verdict is an important step in holding him accountable for his crimes.  Pursuing those who seek to conduct attacks on our homeland will remain the highest priority of the National Security Division.  I would like to commend all of the agents, analysts and prosecutors who made this result possible.”

“On September 17, 2016, Ahmad Khan Rahimi attacked our country and our way of life,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kim.  “Inspired by ISIS and al Qaeda, Rahimi planted and detonated bombs on the streets of Chelsea, in the heart of Manhattan, and in New Jersey, hoping to kill and maim as many innocent people as possible.  Rahimi’s crimes of hate have been met with swift and resolute justice.  Just over a year after his attacks, and following a fair and open trial, Rahimi now stands convicted of his crimes of terror by a unanimous jury of New Yorkers.  As a result, he now faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.  Today’s verdict is a victory for New York City, a victory for America in its fight against terror, and a victory for all who believe in the cause of justice.”

“It’s no secret New York City remains a desirable target for those who wish to disrupt our way of life,” said Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney Jr.  “Last September, Rahimi set out to harm innocent people who were simply living their lives one Saturday evening.   He underestimated the resilience of New Yorkers as well as the resolution of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force to see justice served. Today and always, along with our partners, we remain committed to putting terrorists and would-be terrorists behind bars. While the threat posed by Rahimi has been mitigated, I can’t overstate the critical role the public continues to play in combating the threats we face. As we welcome this victory today, I ask everyone to remain engaged, stay aware, and immediately report suspicious activity to the authorities.”

“Ahmed Rahimi deliberately placed two bombs on the streets of Chelsea in the dark of night with the intention of maiming and killing innocent New Yorkers enjoying a September Saturday night,” Commissioner O’Neill.  “The fact that victims were not killed when one bomb exploded and another failed to detonate is miraculous.  Mr. Rahimi was following to the hateful propaganda of al-Qaida and ISIS that calls for the killing of Americans.  The combined efforts of the FBI, NYPD, the New York State Police and the Linden New Jersey Police Department led to the capture of Mr. Rahimi within 50 hours of the bombing.  The investigation, as well as this conviction is an example of the work of the nation’s best counterterrorism team.  I want to commend the detectives, agents and police officers, the prosecutors of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and the members of the jury for bringing Ahmed Rahimi to justice.  Today’s verdict is the most forceful deterrent for anyone considering waging terror in our City.  We will investigate; we will find those responsible; and justice will prevail.”

As set forth in the Complaint, Indictment and the evidence presented at trial:

On Sept. 17, 2016, Rahimi transported two improvised explosive devices from New Jersey to New York, New York.  Rahimi placed one of the devices in the vicinity of 135 West 23rd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York (the “23rd Street Bomb”) and the other in the vicinity of 131 West 27th Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York (the “27th Street Bomb”).

At approximately 8:30 p.m., the 23rd Street Bomb – containing a high explosive main charge – detonated, causing injuries to over 30 people and multimillion-dollar property damage across a 650-foot crime scene.  The injuries included, among other things, lacerations to the face, abdomen, legs and arms caused by flying glass; metal shrapnel and fragmentation embedded in skin and bone; and various head injuries.  The explosive components appear to have been placed inside a pressure cooker and left near a dumpster.  The explosion propelled a more-than-one-hundred-pound dumpster – which was introduced as an exhibit at trial – more than 120 feet.  The blast shattered windows as far as approximately 400 feet from the blast site and, vertically, more than three stories high.

Shortly after the 23rd Street Bomb detonated, the 27th Street Bomb was identified by a civilian who promptly called 911, which recorded call was introduced in evidence and played at trial.  The 27th Street Bomb, which was rendered safe prior to detonation, consisted of, among other things, a pressure cooker connected with wires to a cellular telephone (likely to function as a timer) and packaged with an explosive main charge, ball bearings and steel nuts.

Earlier that day, at approximately 9:35 a.m. on Sept. 17, 2016, another improvised explosive device, which had been planted by Rahimi in the early morning hours, detonated in the vicinity of Seaside Park, New Jersey, along the route for the Seaside Semper Five Marine Corps Charity 5K race.  The start of the race – which was scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. – was delayed.  Had the race started on time, the bomb would have detonated as runners were passing by where Rahimi had planted it.

On Sept. 18, 2016, at approximately 8:40 p.m., six additional improvised explosive devices that Rahimi also planted were found inside a backpack located at the entrance to the New Jersey Transit station in Elizabeth.  One of these devices detonated as law enforcement used a robot to defuse it.

On Sept. 19, 2016, at approximately 9:30 a.m., Rahimi was arrested by police in Linden, New Jersey.  Rahimi fired multiple shots at police, striking and injuring multiple police officers before he was himself shot, subdued and placed under arrest.  In the course of Rahimi’s arrest, a handwritten journal was recovered from Rahimi’s person.  Written in the journal were, among other things, mentions of explosive devices (including “The sounds of bombs will be heard in the streets” and “Bombs set off in the streets they plan to run a mile”),  and laudatory references to Usama Bin Laden, the former leader of al Qaeda, Anwar al-Awlaki, a former senior leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Mohammed al-Adnani, a former senior leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham and Nidal Hasan, who shot and killed 13 people in Foot Hood, Texas.

*                *                *

Rahimi was convicted of one count of using a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of bombing a place of public use, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of destroying property by means of fire or explosive, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of attempting to destroy property by means of fire or explosive, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of interstate transportation and receipt of explosives, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and two counts of using of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, namely, the use and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, each of which individually carries a mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of 30 years in prison, a potential maximum sentence of life in prison, and, by virtue of his convictions on both counts, a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

The statutory maximum and minimum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

In addition to the charges of which he was convicted in Manhattan federal court, Rahimi also has been charged in the District of New Jersey in a Complaint with offenses in connection with his alleged efforts to detonate explosives in Seaside Park and Elizabeth.

Mr. Boente and Mr. Kim praised the outstanding efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the NYPD.  Mr. Kim also thanked the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division for its assistance.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emil J. Bove III, Andrew J. DeFilippis and Shawn G. Crowley of the Southern District of New York are prosecuting this case with assistance from Trial Attorney Brian Morgan of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Putin And Political Murder: Orders To Kill

Veteran journalist and author Joseph Goulden offers a review in the Washington Times of Amy Knight’s Orders To Kill.

A report that has circulated in world intelligence circles for years has finally surfaced publicly in a book by an author who The New York Times has called “the West’s foremost scholar” on the KGB — that Russian strongman (and former KGB officer) Vladimir Putin is a pedophile with a preference for young boys.

The allegation is contained “Orders to Kill,” Amy Knight’s book, which is a richly detailed account of the murders of multiple Putin foes over the years, including one brazen assassination of a would-be “reformer” literally in the shadow of the Kremlin. Although evidence strongly points to President Putin as responsible for many of the killings, “Putin is never seen holding a smoking gun,” as Ms. Knight writes.

One of the murders she analyzes is the death (by polonium poisoning) of Alexander Litvinenko, one-time fellow KGB officer and friend of Mr. Putin. The two had a falling out when Litvinenko gave Mr. Putin a scathing report on corruption within the government and the FSB (successor agency to the KGB). He was also appalled by Mr. Putin’s harsh conduct against dissidents in Chechnya.

For self-preservation, Litvinenko fled to London, where he became close to another Putin enemy, Boris Berezovsky. He also became an asset of MI6, the British Secret Intelligence service.
Litvinenko died an agonizing death in 2006 after someone slipped polonium into his cup of tea in a London cafe. (One source of the rare drug is a KGB lab.)

According to Ms. Knight’s account, Litvinenko “sealed his fate” with a 2006 article in the Chechen Press in which he described a “bizarre incident” outside the Kremlin. Mr. Putin chatted with a group of tourists, “then went over to a small boy, lifted up his T-shirt, and kissed him on the stomach.”

Litvinenko wrote that “nobody can understand why the Russian president did such a strange thing.” As Ms. Knight writes, Litvinenko “went on to explain that Mr. Putin had been known by KGB insiders to have been a pedophile and that there were secret tapes he destroyed once became head of the FSB showing him having sex with underage boys.”

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

Saturday, October 14, 2017

How Cosa Nostra's 'Cattle Mafia' Is Destroying Sicily's Farmers

Lorenzo Tondo at the British publication the Guardian offers a piece on how Sicilian organized crime has retreated to the countryside in Sicily.

The Napoli sisters keep their entire harvest in a glass jar, resting on a wooden table in the living room. Inside, there are only a dozen stalks of wheat. The rest of the crop – 80,000 kilograms – was destroyed by the Sicilian mafia, determined to force out these three women working in the land of The Godfather.

For three generations, the Napoli family farmed wheat and hay in Corleone, the historic stronghold of Cosa Nostra. Their father, Salvatore, was a hard worker who, after much sacrifice in the fields, managed to send his three daughters – Marianna, Ina and Irene – to university.

But a crisis in what was the world’s most notorious mafia, broken apart by prosecutors, has pushed Cosa Nostra back to their rural origins, and they want their land back.

… The crisis in the mafia’s origins lie in the jailing of more than 4,000 mafiosi since 1990 and the replacement of the old mobsters with younger bosses who lacked their authority.

Drug trafficking, once under the monopoly control of Cosa Nostra, is now run by the most powerful Calabrian mafia, the ’Ndrangheta. The Sicilian construction industry, which once represented a giant business for the mafia, has lost more than €1bn since 2007, according to the Italian Association of Builders.

Far from Palermo, hidden in the Sicilian interior, Cosa Nostra is trying to start again from scratch.

“It is as if, pushed by the crisis, Cosa Nostra has withdrawn into the countryside,” says Sergio Lari, the head of the Caltanissetta prosecutor’s office in the centre of Sicily. “Far from the pressure of the authorities in the big cities, the bosses seem to have found a safe haven.”

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

50 Years On, Secrets Of 'The Prisoner' Are Finally Revealed

Mark Braxton at the British publication Radio Times offers a piece on one of my favorite TV series from my teenage years, Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner.

In the autumn of 1967, Patrick McGoohan unleashed his magnum opus on an unsuspecting world. Over 17 episodes, The Prisoner teased, enchanted, challenged and even angered its audience, leading to a switchboard meltdown after its controversial conclusion.

It told the story of Number Six (McGoohan), held captive in an Italianate setting known only as The Village, and the attempts by unnamed interrogators to “break” Six by making him explain why he’d resigned from his covert job.

Though The Village may look idyllic there can be no escape: anyone who attempts it is squashed by giant, white, balloon-like “Rovers”.

But who is in charge of the operation? Who, in other words, is Number One? (For those who’ve yet to see the show, it’s worth preserving that particular surprise – and it’s a good one.)

… With elements of spy fiction and action adventure, the heavily allegorical series touched on science, politics, psychology and even the Wild West, and also made a star of its colourful and eccentric location: Portmeirion in north Wales.

For 50 years the series has been celebrated, discussed and pored over, and answers have been continually sought to some of its more perplexing puzzles set by the American-born Anglo-Irish McGoohan. And now, In My Mind, a compelling documentary containing interviews with its famously guarded star and showrunner, aims to do just that.

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

You can also read an earlier post on Patrick McGoohan's other classic TV series Danger Man (Secret Agent in the US) via the below link:

And you can read Patrick McGoohan's obituary in the Los Angeles Times via the below link:

On This Day In History Actor Roger Moore Was Born

On This day in 1927 British actor Roger Moore was born in London.

The world famous actor who portrayed The Saint on TV and James Bond in films recently died at age 89. He delivered his autobiography to his publisher only two weeks before he died.

You can read about Roger Moore's life and work at via the below link:

U.S. Defense Department Announces Sentence for Detainee Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al-Darbi

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

The Department of Defense announced today that Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al-Darbi (seen in the above photo) was sentenced to 13 years in confinement for conspiracy, attacking civilian objects, hazarding a vessel, terrorism, attempts, and aiding the enemy.

The sentencing hearing took place today in a military commission courtroom at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

During his Feb. 20, 2014, guilty pleas, al-Darbi pled guilty to the charged offenses stemming from an attempt to carry out terrorist attacks against shipping vessels in the Strait of Hormuz and off the coast of Yemen, and a completed terrorist attack against the French oil tanker, MV Limburg. As part of his plea he agreed to delay his sentence proceeding in order to cooperate with the Government.

Under the terms of the pre-trial agreement, al-Darbi agreed to testify for the United States at any military commission, federal court proceeding, or federal grand jury proceeding against other individuals alleged to have been involved in terrorist activity.  al-Darbi has cooperated with U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies and, as part of the pre-trial must continue to cooperate.  In exchange for al-Darbi's guilty plea and promise to cooperate and testify, the Convening Authority agreed to limit the amount of confinement that would be approved.  If al-Darbi fails to comply with his promise to testify and cooperate, his prior plea agreement could be by the Convening Authority.

Once the record of trial is finalized, it will be sent to the Convening Authority for Military Commissions for action on the findings and sentence.  Al-Darbi can submit matters in order to convince the Convening Authority to lessen his adjudged sentence further.  After review of the clemency submissions, the Convening Authority may set aside the findings with respect to any charge, and he may reduce, but not al-Darbi's sentence.  After reviewing the record and taking final action on the findings and sentence, the Convening Authority will serve notice upon al-Darbi of his final decision. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Happy 242nd Birthday To The United States Navy

Happy 242nd Birthday to the U.S. Navy.

The U.S. Navy’s website offers a piece on the birthday and the Navy’s history and heritage.  

The theme for the Navy’s 242nd Birthday is “Sea Power to Protect and Promote.” Our commemoration of the Navy’s birthday offers us an opportunity to honor the brave men and women who conduct a wide range of combat, training, humanitarian, rescue, and other missions worldwide, protecting the nation’s interests, promoting its security, and helping to shape our history and culture.

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