Friday, February 22, 2019

Sons Of Convicted Drug Lord Joaquin Guzman Loera Aka “El Chapo” Charged With Drug Trafficking

The Justice Department released the below information:
An indictment against Joaquin Guzman Lopez and Ovidio Guzman Lopez, charging them with a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana for importation into the United States was unsealed last week. The Guzman Lopez brothers, believed to currently reside in Mexico, are the sons of Joaquin Guzman Loera, aka “El Chapo,” who was convicted by a jury in the Eastern District of New York for his role as the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Scott Brown of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Arizona Field Office made the announcement.
Joaquin Guzman Lopez, 34, and Ovidio Guzman Lopez, 28, are charged in a one-count indictment alleging that from in or around April 2008, through April 2018, they conspired to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana from Mexico and elsewhere for importation into the United States.  This case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras.
The case was investigated by HSI.  This case is also the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state, and local enforcement agencies.  The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle, and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations and enterprises.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Trial Attorneys Anthony Aminoff and Anthony Nardozzi of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS) are prosecuting the case. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

My Washington Times Piece On Targeting Crime Guns

The Washington Times published my piece on targeting crime guns.

While reading a Department of Justice report that states that fewer than 1 in 50 criminals obtained a firearm legally to use in the course of committing a crime, I thought of George V. Higgins’ classic 1972 crime novel, “The Friends of Eddie Coyle.’

The fictional character Eddie Coyle, a 45-year-old stocky career criminal, is a low-level gunrunner who purchases guns illegally and then sells those illegal guns to Jimmy Scalisi, the leader of a gang of violent bank robbers in Boston. The fine 1973 film adaptation of “The Friends of Eddie Coyle,” starring the late, great actor Robert Mitchum as Eddie Coyle, was faithful to the novel.

The late Mr. Higgins (seen in the below photo), a former newspaper crime reporter, was an assistant U.S. attorney in Massachusetts when he wrote his great crime novel. Mr. Higgins knew how hoodlums spoke, which is why the novel’s dialogue is so gritty and authentic. And he knew how they operated, which why his fictional armed robbers obtained their guns from an illicit source, namely Eddie Coyle, rather than a legal gun store.

Mr. Higgins knew that criminals didn’t go to retail stores and purchase firearms legally. One can’t imagine Eddie Coyle or Jimmy Scalisi taking the time to fill out the proper forms and then wait patiently for a background check prior to purchasing a gun. Both characters had extensive criminal records, which would in any case prohibited them from purchasing firearms legally.

This report points out what any cop will tell you. Criminals mostly buy illegal guns from other criminals and they use these crime guns to rob, steal, rape and murder. I’m thankful that the Justice Department and local police departments are targeting professional criminals who sell firearms to other criminals. This, in my view, is true gun control. 

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

Department Of Veterans Affairs Official Sentenced To 11 Years In Prison For $2 Million Bribery Scheme Involving Program For Disabled Military Veterans

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:
A former U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) official was sentenced today for demanding and receiving bribes from three for-profit schools in exchange for enrolling disabled military veterans in those schools and facilitating over $2 million in payments from the VA using the veterans’ federal benefits. 
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu for the District of Columbia, Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno of the FBI’s Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Kim Lampkins of the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG), Mid-Atlantic Field Office made the announcement.
James King, 63, of Baltimore, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to an Information alleging one count of honest services and money/property wire fraud, one count of bribery of a public official, and one count of falsifying records to obstruct an investigation.  King was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates of the District of Columbia to serve 132 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and to pay $155,000 in restitution to the VA.  Earlier this week, Judge Bates sentenced three school owners and employees who admitted to bribing King.  Albert Poawui, the owner of Atius Technology Institute, was sentenced to serve 70 months in prison and ordered to pay $1.5 million in restitution.  Sombo Kanneh, Poawui’s employee, was sentenced to serve 20 months in prison and ordered to pay $113,000 in restitution.  Michelle Stevens, the owner of Eelon Training Academy, was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $83,000 in restitution.
“James King and his associates exploited an important VA program that provides valuable services to our disabled military veterans,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.  “This prosecution once again demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to hold accountable those who seek to defraud government programs for their own personal enrichment.”
“James King blatantly betrayed his responsibility with the VA to provide job and educational counseling to disabled military veterans who turned to him for help,” said U.S. Attorney Liu.  “Instead of helping our veterans, he lined his own pockets by taking bribes to send them to three sham schools that brought them only pain and frustration. Today’s sentencing holds him accountable for this breach of trust and this waste of taxpayer money.”
“King tried to use his position to enrich himself at the expense of veterans who have honorably served our country,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge DeSarno.  “Today's sentencing makes it clear that such activity by anyone affiliated with the U.S. government will not be tolerated.  The FBI will work closely with our partners to continue to aggressively investigate allegations of corruption.”
“We are pleased to see Mr. King, a person who abused his position of trust and the veterans he was supposed to serve, sentenced today,” said VA OIG Special Agent in Charge Lampkins.  “This sentence sends a clear message that VA OIG is dedicated to prosecuting those that take advantage of VA programs that are intended to help our veterans and their families.”
According to King’s admissions made in connection with his plea, the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) provides disabled U.S. military veterans with education and employment-related services.  VR&E program counselors advise veterans under their supervision which schools to attend and facilitate payments to those schools for veterans’ tuition and necessary supplies.
From 2015 through 2017, King, using his position as a VR&E program counselor, demanded and received cash bribes from the owners of Atius Technology Institute (Atius), Eelon Training Academy (Eelon), and School A, a school purporting to specialize in physical security classes.  King facilitated over $2 million in payments to Atius, over $83,000 to Eelon, and over $340,000 to School A, all in furtherance of King’s separate agreements with the respective school owners to commit bribery and defraud the VA.  King agreed with Poawui and Stevens that they would each pay him, in cash, seven percent of the money they received from the VA in exchange for King steering veterans to their schools and facilitating VA payments.  King similarly accepted cash payments from the owner of School A, who is identified as Person A in the Information, in exchange for the same official acts.
In order to maximize the profits from their fraud, all three school owners sent King and other VA officials false information about the education being provided to veterans, and King facilitated payments to all three schools knowing this information was false.  King also admitted to repeatedly lying to veterans under his supervision in order to convince them to attend Atius, Eelon, or School A.  For example, King falsely instructed one veteran that, unless he attended School A, his VR&E program benefits would “lapse.”  King insisted that this veteran enroll in School A despite the veteran’s protests that he could not engage in physical security work due to a physical disability, and despite the fact that the veteran had enrolled in the VR&E program to pursue his dream of becoming a baker.
In early 2017, the VA initiated a fact-finding inquiry into Atius based on complaints by students as to the quality of education at the school.  In August 2017, after King became aware of the inquiry, he created a falsified site visit report and instructed Poawui to send it to another VA official, all in an effort to obstruct the VA’s inquiry into Atius.  In January 2018, King attempted to convince Poawui to lie to the grand jury about the purpose of the bribe payments.
King’s plea is the result of an ongoing investigation by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the VA Office of Inspector General.  Trial Attorney Simon J. Cataldo of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, former Assistant U.S. Attorney and current Fraud Section Trial Attorney Sonali D. Patel and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Misler of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia are prosecuting the case.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Tale of Two Drugs Lords: From Cosa Nostra To Guzmán – It’s Strictly Business

Ed Vulliamy at the Guardian offers a look back at the Sicilian Cosa Nostra boss, Salvatore "Toto" Riina (seen in the above photo on the left), and the Mexican cartel boss Joaguin "El Shorty" Guzman (seen in the above photo on the right).
They both bore the same nickname: “Shorty”. Salvatore Riina, boss of Sicily’s Cosa Nostra from the late 1970s, reportedly until his death in jail in 2017, was known as Totò ‘u Curtu in dialect. And Joaquín Guzmán Loera, convicted last week of being the world’s biggest drug lord and leader of crime’s mightiest syndicate, Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, became famous as “El Chapo”.
Riina was also called La Belva – the beast – for self-explanatory reasons, and Guzmán, El Rapido, for the speed at which he delivered Colombian cocaine, via Mexico, to the US and Europe.
I saw them both stand trial, a quarter of a century apart: the closing phases of the mafia “Maxi trial” in 1992 with Riina convicted in absentia; then Riina’s own case in 1993; and the opening salvos of Guzmán’s trial last November. Two eras separating two hemispheres; same business, same nickname. And how that business model appeared to change, yet remained in many crucial respects the same. 
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Saturday, February 16, 2019

One American And One Chinese National Indicted In Tennessee For Conspiracy To Commit Theft Of Trade Secrets And Wire Fraud

The Justice Department released the below information:
A grand jury sitting in Greeneville, Tennessee has returned an indictment against Xiaorong You, a/k/a Shannon You, 56, of Lansing, Michigan, and Liu Xiangchen, 61, of Shandong Province, China for conspiracy to steal trade secrets related to formulations for bisphenol-A-free (BPA-free) coatings.  You was also indicted on seven counts of theft of trade secrets and one count of wire fraud.
Assistant Attorney General National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey of the Eastern District of Tennessee, FBI Executive Assistant Director for the National Security Branch Jay Tabb, and Special Agent in Charge Troy Sowers of the FBI’s Knoxville Field Office made the announcement.
“The conduct alleged in today’s indictment exemplifies the rob, replicate and replace approach to technological development,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “Xiaorong You is accused of an egregious, premediated theft and transfer of trade secrets worth more than $100 million for the purpose of setting up a Chinese company that would compete with the American companies from which the trade secrets were stolen.  Unfortunately, China continues to use its national programs, like the ‘Thousand Talents,’ to solicit and reward the theft of our nation’s trade secrets and intellectual property, but the Justice Department will continue to prioritize investigations like these, to ensure that China understands that this criminal conduct is not an acceptable business or economic development practice.” 
“Our office is committed to working closely with our federal, state and local partners to identify and prosecute those who engage in illegal and deceptive practices to steal trade secret and protected information from companies who spend millions of dollars to develop it,” said U.S. Attorney Overbey.  “Not only can theft of this information be potentially devastating to our American companies, it could also pose a threat to our overall national and economic security.”
“The facts laid out in this indictment show the conspirators engaged in blatant criminal activity,” said Executive Assistant Director Tabb.  “They didn't stop at going after technical secrets belonging to just one company.  They allegedly targeted multiple companies and made off with trade secrets at an estimated value of almost 120 million dollars.  As this case demonstrates, the FBI is determined to do everything possible to bring to justice those who try to steal secrets belonging to American companies.”
"As this indictment highlights, theft of trade secrets from American companies is an emerging economic threat, even here in East Tennessee," said Special Agent in Charge Sowers.  "The tireless work of our agents and prosecutors in this case underscores the FBI's commitment to protecting American ingenuity."
The BPA-free trade secrets allegedly stolen by these individuals belonged to multiple owners and cost an estimated total of at least $119,600,000 to develop.  Until recently, bisphenol-A (BPA) was used to coat the inside of cans and other food and beverage containers to help minimize flavor loss, and prevent the container from corroding or reacting with the food or beverage contained therein.  However, due to the discovered potential harmful effects of BPA, companies began searching for BPA-free alternatives. These alternatives are difficult and expensive to develop.
From December 2012 through Aug. 31, 2017, You was employed as Principal Engineer for Global Research by a company in Atlanta, which had agreements with numerous companies to conduct research and development, testing, analysis and review of various BPA-free technologies.  Due to her extensive education and experience with BPA and BPA-free coating technologies, she was one of a limited number of employees with access to trade secrets belonging to the various owners.  From approximately September 2017 through June 2018, You was employed as a packaging application development manager for a company in Kingsport, Tennessee, where she was one of a limited number of employees with access to trade secrets belonging to that company.
Details of the conspiracy are included in the indictment on file with the U.S. District Court.  The indictment alleges that You, Liu, and a third co-conspirator formulated a plan in which You would exploit her employment with the two American employers to steal trade secrets and provide the information for the economic benefit of trade secrets the Chinese company that Liu managed, which would manufacture and profit from products developed using the stolen trade secrets.  In exchange, Liu would cause the Chinese company to reward You for her theft, by helping her receive the Thousand Talent and another financial award, based on the trade secrets she stole, and by giving You an ownership share of a new company that would “own” the stolen trade secrets in China.  The conspirators also agreed to compete with U.S. and foreign companies, including some of the owners of the stolen stolen trade secrets, in China and elsewhere, by selling products designed, developed and manufactured using the stolen trade secrets.
The charges contained in this indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Knoxville Field Office.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Eastern District of Tennessee and the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Former U.S. Counterintelligence Agent Charged With Espionage On Behalf of Iran; Four Iranians Charged With A Cyber Campaign Targeting Her Former Colleagues

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:
Monica Elfriede Witt, 39, a former U.S. service member and counterintelligence agent, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia for conspiracy to deliver and delivering national defense information to representatives of the Iranian government.  Witt, who defected to Iran in 2013, is alleged to have assisted Iranian intelligence services in targeting her former fellow agents in the U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC).  Witt is also alleged to have disclosed the code name and classified mission of a U.S. Department of Defense Special Access Program. An arrest warrant has been issued for Witt, who remains at large.
The same indictment charges four Iranian nationals, Mojtaba Masoumpour, Behzad Mesri, Hossein Parvar and Mohamad Paryar (the “Cyber Conspirators”), with conspiracy, attempts to commit computer intrusion and aggravated identity theft, for conduct in 2014 and 2015 targeting former co-workers and colleagues of Witt in the U.S. Intelligence Community.  The Cyber Conspirators, using fictional and imposter social media accounts and working on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), sought to deploy malware that would provide them covert access to the targets’ computers and networks.  Arrest warrants have been issued for the Cyber Conspirators, who also remain at large.
The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu for the District of Columbia, Executive Assistant Director for National Security Jay Tabb of the FBI, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Special Agent Terry Phillips of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and Assistant Director in Charge Nancy McNamara of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
“Monica Witt is charged with revealing to the Iranian regime a highly classified intelligence program and the identity of a U.S. Intelligence Officer, all in violation of the law, her solemn oath to protect and defend our country, and the bounds of human decency,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “Four Iranian cyber hackers are also charged with various computer crimes targeting members of the U.S. intelligence community who were Ms. Witt’s former colleagues. This case underscores the dangers to our intelligence professionals and the lengths our adversaries will go to identify them, expose them, target them, and, in a few rare cases, ultimately turn them against the nation they swore to protect.  When our intelligence professionals are targeted or betrayed, the National Security Division will relentlessly pursue justice against the wrong-doers.” 
“This case reflects our firm resolve to hold accountable any individual who betrays the public trust by compromising our national security,” said U.S. Attorney Liu.  “Today’s announcement also highlights our commitment to vigorously pursue those who threaten U.S. security through state-sponsored hacking campaigns.”
“The charges unsealed today are the result of years of investigative work by the FBI to uncover Monica Witt’s betrayal of the oath she swore to safeguard America’s intelligence and defense secrets” said Executive Assistant Director for National Security Tabb.  “This case also highlights the FBI’s commitment to disrupting those who engage in malicious cyber activity to undermine our country’s national security. The FBI is grateful to the Department of Treasury and the United States Air Force for their continued partnership and assistance in this case.”
Treasury is taking action against malicious Iranian cyber actors and covert operations that have targeted Americans at home and overseas as part of our ongoing efforts to counter the Iranian regime’s cyber-attacks,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.  “Treasury is sanctioning New Horizon Organization for its support to the IRGC-QF.  New Horizon hosts international conferences that have provided Iranian intelligence officers a platform to recruit and collect damaging information from attendees, while propagating anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.  We are also sanctioning an Iran-based company that has attempted to install malware to compromise the computers of U.S. personnel.”
“The alleged actions of Monica Witt in assisting a hostile nation are a betrayal of our nation’s security, our military, and the American people,” said Special Agent Phillips. “While violations like this are extremely rare, her actions as alleged are an affront to all who have served our great nation.”  
“This investigation exemplifies the tireless work the agents and analysts of the FBI do each and every day to bring a complex case like this to fruition,’ said Assistant Director in Charge McNamara.  “Witt's betrayal of her country and the actions of the cyber criminals - at the behest of the IRGC - could have brought serious damage to the United States, and we will not stand by and allow that to happen.  The efforts by the Iranian government to target and harm the U.S. will not be taken lightly, and the FBI will continue our work to hold those individuals or groups accountable for their actions.”
According to the allegations contained in the indictment unsealed today:
Monica Witt’s Espionage
Monica Witt, a U.S. citizen, was an active duty U.S. Air Force Intelligence Specialist and Special Agent of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, who entered on duty in 1997 and left the U.S. government in 2008.  Monica Witt separated from the Air Force in 2008 and ended work with DOD as a contractor in 2010.  During her tenure with the U.S. government, Witt was granted high-level security clearances and was deployed overseas to conduct classified counterintelligence missions.
In Feb. 2012, Witt traveled to Iran to attend the Iranian New Horizon Organization’s “Hollywoodism” conference, an IRGC-sponsored event aimed at, among other things, condemning American moral standards and promoting anti-U.S. propaganda.  Through subsequent interactions and communications with a dual United States-Iranian citizen referred to in the indictment as Individual A, Witt successfully arranged to re-enter Iran in Aug. 2013.  Thereafter, Iranian government officials provided Witt with a housing and computer equipment.  She went on to disclose U.S. classified information to the Iranian government official.  As part of her work on behalf of the Iranian government, she conducted research about USIC personnel that she had known and worked with, and used that information to draft “target packages” against these U.S. agents.   
Iranian Hacking Efforts Targeting Witt’s Former Colleagues
Beginning in late 2014, the Cyber Conspirators began a malicious campaign targeting Witt’s former co-workers and colleagues.  Specifically, Mesri registered and helped manage an Iranian company, the identity of which is known to the United States, which conducted computer intrusions against targets inside and outside the United States on behalf of the IRGC.  Using computer and online infrastructure, in some cases procured by Mesri, the conspiracy tested its malware and gathered information from target computers or networks, and sent spearphishing messages to its targets.  Specifically, between Jan. and May 2015, the Cyber Conspirators, using fictitious and imposter accounts, attempted to trick their targets into clicking links or opening files that would allow the conspirators to deploy malware on the target’s computer.  In one such instance, the Cyber Conspirators created a Facebook account that purported to belong to a USIC employee and former colleague of Witt, and which utilized legitimate information and photos from the USIC employee’s actual Facebook account. This particular fake account caused several of Witt’s former colleagues to accept “friend” requests.
*          *          *
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office with assistance from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.  The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Deborah Curtis, Jocelyn Ballantine and Luke Jones of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia with assistance from Trial Attorney Evan N. Turgeon of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

My Washington Times Review Of 'Blue-Collar Conservatism: Frank Rizzo's Philadelphia And Populist Politics'

The Washington Times published my review of Blue-Collar Conservatism: Frank Rizzo’s Philadelphia and Populist Politics.

In 2017, while there was a national campaign to tear down the statutes of Confederate soldiers and historical figures deemed racists by the left, some Philadelphia politicians and left-wing activists demanded that the City of Philadelphia remove the 10-foot-tall statute of former Police Commissioner and Mayor Frank Rizzo from in front of the city’s Municipal Services Building.

Frank Rizzo’s supporters rallied to keep the statue in place, and the current mayor, Jim Kenney, stated that he was looking into moving the statue to another location, possibly to South Philadelphia, where Frank Rizzo was born and raised, and where many of his supporters live, work and vote. Today the statute remains in front of the Municipal Services Building.

Frank Rizzo, who rose from beat cop to mayor, was a controversial figure with fervent supporters and detractors, and he remains so years after his death. The larger-than-life Frank Rizzo was a big man physically, at 6‘2 and 250 pounds, and he loomed large as a personality as a tough and aggressive cop in the 1950s and early 1960s, known then as the “Cisco Kid,” and as the police commissioner in the late 1960s. A famous 1969 photo of Frank Rizzo shows the commissioner, who left a formal event to respond to a violent incident, in a tuxedo with a nightstick jammed into his cummerbund.

Timothy J. Lombardo, who teaches history at the University of South Alabama, offers a look back at Frank Rizzo’s life and times in “Blue-Collar Conservatism: Frank Rizzo’s Philadelphia and Populist Politics.” Mr. Lombardo opens the book with a passage about the time Frank Rizzo visited South Philadelphia during his first campaign to become mayor. The South Philly native attended a Columbus Day free concert that became a spontaneous pro-Rizzo rally.

“Despite his warm welcome in South Philadelphia, Francis Lazaro Rizzo was one of the most controversial figures in the city’s history,” Mr. Lombardo writes in his introduction to the book. “As a young man, long before his entrance into politics, the son of Italian immigrants dropped out of high school and followed his father’s footsteps into the Philadelphia Police Department. He quickly earned a reputation as one of the toughest cops on the force. Rising through the ranks in rapid succession, he earned the department’s highest post in 1967.

As the city’s top cop, Rizzo was fond of saying that the way to treat criminals was “scappo il capo,” an Italian phrase he translated to “crack their heads.” He earned a national reputation for his tough stance on crime, the heavy-handed tactics of his police force and his openly hostile treatment of civil rights activists. Yet Rizzo claimed those methods were the reason that Philadelphia avoided the urban rioting that struck cities like Los Angeles, Detroit or nearby Newark, New Jersey, in the late 1960s. While that won little favor in African-American communities or among liberals that decried his “Gestapo tactics,” he became a hero to the white-ethnic, blue-collar Philadelphians who demanded “law and order.” Capitalizing on this, he used his police experience as a springboard for his first campaign for public office in 1971.” 

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Joaquin “El Chapo’ Guzman, Sinaloa Cartel Leader, Convicted Of Running A Continuing Criminal Enterprise And Other Drug Related Charges

The DEA released the below information:
WASHINGTON – Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera, known by various aliases, including “El Chapo” and “El Rapido,” was convicted today by a federal jury in Brooklyn, New York of being a principal operator of a continuing criminal enterprise – the Mexican organized crime syndicate known as the Sinaloa Cartel – a charge that includes 26 drug-related violations and one murder conspiracy.  Guzman Loera was convicted of all 10 counts of a superseding indictment, including narcotics trafficking, using a firearm in furtherance of his drug crimes and participating in a money laundering conspiracy.  The verdict followed a 12-week trial before U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan.  Guzman Loera faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.
Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue for the Eastern District of New York, U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan for the Southern District of Florida, Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), FBI Director Christopher Wray, Executive Associate Director Derek Benner of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Acting U.S. Marshal Bryan T. Mullee of the Eastern District of New York, announced the verdict.
The Evidence at Trial: 
As proven at trial, Guzman Loera was a principal leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, a Mexico-based international drug trafficking organization responsible for importing and distributing vast quantities of cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin into the United States.  The evidence at trial, including testimony from 14 cooperating witnesses; narcotics seizures totaling over 130,000 kilograms of cocaine and heroin; weapons, including AK-47s and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher; ledgers; text messages; videos; photographs and intercepted recordings, detailed the drug trafficking activity of Guzman Loera and his co-conspirators over a 25-year period from January 1989 until December 2014.  Guzman Loera was repeatedly referred to by witnesses as one of the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel. 
Guzman Loera oversaw the smuggling of narcotics to wholesale distributors in Arizona, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and elsewhere.  The billions of illicit dollars generated from drug sales in the United States were then clandestinely transported back to Mexico.  Guzman Loera also used “sicarios,” or hit men, who carried out hundreds of acts of violence in Mexico to enforce Sinaloa’s control of territories and to eliminate those who posed a threat to the Sinaloa Cartel. 
Drug Trafficking                       
In the course of the decades-long drug trafficking conspiracy, the Sinaloa Cartel transported tens of thousands of kilograms of narcotics from Central and South America for distribution in the United States. Guzman Loera used various methods to transport the cartel’s narcotics into the United States, includingsubmarines, carbon fiber airplanes, trains with secret compartments and transnational underground tunnels. Multiple witnesses testified about seizures by law enforcement officers of massive amounts of cocaine, heroin and marijuana linked to the Sinaloa Cartel.  One of the largest seizures of drugs bound for the United States involved over seven tons of cocaine concealed in jalapeño cans.  
The jury also heard recordings of Guzman Loera’s own damning words discussing his drug trafficking, corruption and violence.  The calls included Guzman Loera discussing sending “ice,” meaning methamphetamine, to Los Angeles, California; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Ohio and Tucson, Arizona.  
Communications Network 
Guzman Loera also utilized a sophisticated encrypted communications network to operate the global narcotics trafficking operation.  As an information technology engineer testified at trial, Guzman Loera paid him one million dollars to purchase and set up a network to enable the defendant to communicate via the internet with his drug trafficking associates in Colombia, Ecuador, Canada and the United States without fear of being intercepted by law enforcement or his rivals.  The witness devised a secret and secure system, consisting of encrypted cell phones and encrypted apps. 
Cartel Violence 
The success of the Sinaloa Cartel relied upon the use of violence to maintain their power throughout the region and beyond.  Numerous co-conspirators testified that Guzman Loera directed his hitmen to kidnap, interrogate, torture and shoot members of rival drug organizations, at times carrying out acts of violence himself.  A former hitman testified that Guzman Loera beat two men with a tree branch until their bodies “were completely like rag dolls,” before shooting the men and ordering their bodies be tossed into a bonfire.  The former hitman also testified that Guzman Loera interrogated a rival drug cartel member, shot him and ordered that he be buried alive.  In an intercepted call, the jury heard Guzman Loera order one of his sicariosto kidnap rival cartel members, but not to kill them without first checking with him. 
The Sinaloa Cartel had unfettered access to weapons.  A law enforcement witness showed the jury over 40 AK-47s that were seized in El Paso, Texas before they could be delivered to Guzman Loera in Mexico.  Additionally, witnesses identifed photographs of various weapons, including grenades and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher utilized by the Sinaloa Cartel.  Guzman Loera’s personal arsenal included a gold plated AK-47 and three diamond-encrusted .38 caliber handguns, one emblazoned with his initials, “JGL.”  
The evidence presented at trial demonstrated that to further the interests of the Sinaloa Cartel, Guzman Loera and his organization took advantage of a vast network of corrupt government officials.  These officials ranged from local law enforcement officers, prison guards, state officials, high ranking members of the armed forces, as well as politicians.  These corrupt officials assisted Guzman Loera and his organization in exchange for millions of dollars’ worth of bribery payments.  For example, according to the testimony of several witnesses, in many instances, Guzman Loera and his workers were warned of pending law enforcement operations which allowed Guzman Loera to avoid capture on multiple occasions.  In other instances, Guzman Loera, through his employees, paid officials to turn a blind eye to trafficking activities in an effort to facilitate the shipment of drugs, weapons, and bulk cash.  
Money Laundering 
Guzman Loera’s lucrative drug trafficking business generated billions of dollars in illicit proceeds.  Guzman Loera used various methods to launder money including bulk cash smuggling from the United States to Mexico.  One of the largest seizures was of $1.26 million seized from hidden compartments in a truck driven by Guzman Loera’s brother in Douglas, Arizona in 1989.  In addition to the bulk cash smuggling, Guzman Loera oversaw numerous shell companies, including a juice company and a fish flour company to launder the cartel’s narcotics trafficking proceeds. 
I am pleased that the Department has brought Joaquin Guzman Loera (El Chapo) to justice by securing a conviction against this drug kingpin, who was a principal leader of the Sinaloa Cartel,” said Acting Attorney General Whitaker.  “As was clear to the jury, Guzman Loera’s massive, multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise was responsible for flooding the streets of the United States with hundreds of tons of cocaine, as well as enormous quantities of other dangerous drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine.  The trial evidence also overwhelmingly showed that Guzman’s unceasing efforts to expand his cartel’s control and consolidate its power left a wake of corruption and violence in communities in both Mexico and the United States.  This case demonstrated the extraordinary reach of the U.S. government, our tenacity and commitment to pursuing kingpins like Guzman whom — if their power is unchecked — will, like Guzman, develop what for 25 years was an almost unstoppable capacity to move massive quantities of drugs into our country.  Guzman had the capital to absorb huge losses and run his enterprise with impunity; the enormous power to corrupt; and the capability to employ violence on a massive scale.  This case, and more importantly, this conviction serves as an irrefutable message to the kingpins that remain in Mexico, and those that aspire to be the next Chapo Guzman, that eventually you will be apprehended and prosecuted.  Finally, this verdict demonstrates that the United States, working in close partnership with the Mexican government, will continue to bring all possible resources to bear in its fight against international drug traffickers and their violent organizations.” 
Today’s conviction of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman demonstrates the dedication and determination of the men and women of DEA to bring the world’s most dangerous and prolific drug trafficker to justice,” said DEA Acting Administrator Dhillon.  “Those who bring drugs and violence into the United States that destroy lives and communities will not be tolerated, nor evade our reach. The success of this case is a testament to the strength of our relationship with our Mexican counterparts. DEA will continue to pursue justice worldwide and protect Americans.” 
“The guilty verdict against Joaquin Guzman Loera, one of the most violent and feared drug kingpins of our time, is a testament to the hard work and courage of America’s frontline law enforcement personnel, including ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations,” said DHS Secretary Nielsen.  “They gathered substantial evidence over multiple investigations, which made his extradition to the United States and a successful prosecution possible.  Today’s verdict sends an unmistakable message to transnational criminals: you cannot hide, you are not beyond our reach, and we will find you and bring you to face justice.  Like Guzman, you will suffer the consequences of your criminal behavior.  I applaud the brave men and women at DHS who helped make this conviction possible and thank our interagency and international partners for their exceptional work.” 
Guzman Loera’s bloody reign atop the Sinaloa Cartel has come to an end, and the myth that he could not be brought to justice has been laid to rest,” said U.S. Attorney Donoghue.  “Today, Guzman Loera has been held accountable for the tons of illegal narcotics he trafficked for more than two decades, the murders he ordered and committed, and the billions of dollars he reaped while causing incalculable pain and suffering to those devastated by his drugs.  Today’s verdict is the culmination of the tireless work of countless brave members of law enforcement, here and abroad, and we congratulate them.  The Department of Justice is committed to eradicating criminal organizations that fuel America’s drug epidemic, and our mission will continue until it is completed.” 
The conviction of former Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin Guzman Loera strips the power from a man who employed horrific acts of violence to infect communities, throughout the United States and abroad, with the venom of illicit drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan.  “Today’s verdict is a reminder to all, that our international borders do not protect narco-traffickers and the cartels’ criminal enterprises from federal prosecution.  U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the nation stand united with our domestic and foreign law enforcement partners, as we continue our fight against transnational criminal organizations.” 
“The reign of Joaquin Guzman Loera’s crime and violence has come to an end,” said FBI Director Wray.  “As leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, Guzman Loera carried out and directed acts of brazen violence as he oversaw the import and distribution of vast amounts of illegal drugs throughout the United States.  But today, through the steadfast determination and collective efforts of the FBI and our law enforcement partners both domestic and abroad, and due to our continuing partnership with the Government of Mexico, justice has been served.” 
“HSI is committed to using our unique border authority to target and dismantle transnational criminal organizations responsible for trafficking narcotics and bringing violence into the United States,” said HSI Executive Associate Director Benner.  “Through collaboration with local, federal and international law enforcement partners, HSI special agents were able to bring an end to Joaquin Guzman Loera’s criminal activities, and help ensure he was brought to justice.” 
The conviction of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman demonstrates what is possible when law enforcement works collectively and coordinates their efforts,” said Acting U.S. Marshal Mullee.  “The U.S. Marshals Service ensured the integrity of the judicial process in this case.  From providing safe and secure detention and transportation of the world’s most notorious drug kingpin to ensuring the anonymity of the jury, protecting the judge, attorneys, witnesses and the public, the Marshals Service proudly played its important role in the process.  I would like to express my gratitude to all of our law enforcement partners who worked tirelessly in support of our mission.  They are the talented men and women of the New York City Police Department, Federal Protective Service, 24th Civil Support Team of the New York National Guard, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  The U.S. Marshals take our responsibility of protecting the federal judicial process very seriously.  We must anticipate and deter threats, while continuously developing and employing innovative protective tactics.  We carry out these responsibilities with precision every day across the country.  The successful prosecution of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman stands as a shining example of our mission.” 
When sentenced by Judge Cogan, Guzman Loera faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole for leading a continuing criminal enterprise, and a sentence of up to life imprisonment on the seven remaining drug counts.  After the verdict, the government will seek a forfeiture money judgment for billions of dollars constituting the cartel’s illegal drug-trafficking proceeds. 
The government’s case is being prosecuted by U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorneys Amanda Liskamm, Anthony Nardozzi, Michael Lang and Brett Reynolds of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gina Parlovecchio, Andrea Goldbarg, Michael Robotti, Patricia Notopoulos and Hiral Mehta of the Eastern District of New York and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam Fels and Lynn Kirkpatrick of the Southern District of Florida. 
The case was investigated by the DEA, HSI and the FBI, in cooperation with Mexican, Ecuadorian, Netherlands, Dominican, and Colombian law enforcement authorities. Substantial assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in the Northern District of Illinois, the Western District of Texas, the Southern District of New York, the Southern District of California and the District of New Hampshire.  The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs also played an integral role in securing the extradition of Guzman Loera to the United States, in cooperation with authorities of the Mexican government, without which his extradition and prosecution would not have been possible.  The investigative efforts in this case were coordinated with the Department of Justice’s Special Operations Division, comprising of agents, analysts and attorneys from the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section; DEA New York, DEA Miami, FBI Washington Field Office, FBI New York Field Office, FBI Miami Field Office; HSI New York, HSI Nogales; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Marshals Service; IRS Criminal Investigation; U.S. Bureau of Prisons, NYPD and New York State Police. 
This case is the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises. 
You can also read my Washington Times review of Hunting El Chapo via the below link: 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Before There Was A Tony Soprano, There Was Richie The Boot, Sam The Plumber And Vinny Ocean. Jersey's Real-Life Sopranos

Ted Sherman at offers a piece on New Jersey mobsters.

David Chase, who brought to life the fictional tale of a New Jersey crime family in “The Sopranos,” has a new story to tell. 

Said to be a prequel to his HBO series of mob boss Tony Soprano, “The Many Saints of Newark," is set in the 1960s, during the Newark riots. It is right around the time there was a real godfather by the name of Ruggerio “Richie the Boot” Boiardo, who many believe inspired “The Sopranos.”

He was no saint. 

Back in the 1960s and 70s, Boiardo was a ruthless and feared mob boss operating out of Newark. He had his hands in everything from gambling and loansharking to politics and labor unions, and had his hooks into the administration of Democratic Mayor Hugh J. Addonizio, who would be ultimately taken down in a major federal corruption investigation.

An associate of the Genovese crime family, the Boot was believed he was the model for the character Don Vito Corleone in Mario Puzo's book The Godfather. 

But there are obvious nods to the Boiardo’s life that show up in the world of Tony Soprano.

Boiardo lived on an estate in suburban Livingston in a custom-build mansion that Life magazine once described as “'Transylvania traditional.” Tony lived in suburban North Caldwell, where he ambled down the long driveway in the morning to get The Star-Ledger. 

The Boot’s top enforcer was a lieutenant known Big Pussy. His son, Anthony, was referred to as Tony Boy. Tony’s guy was Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero.

But Boiardo may not have been the only Jersey guy to spark the characters created by Chase. There are those who believe Vincent “Vinny Ocean” Palermo was the prototype for Tony Soprano.

In fact, New Jersey has a long history of being married to the mob. 

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

You can also read my Washington Times review of Garden State Gangland via the below link:

A Little Night Music: Brian Culbertson's 'On My Mind'

For a little night music, you can listen to the smooth jazz sound of Brian Culbertson's piano as he plays On My Mind live via the below link:

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Anchors Aweigh!: On This Day In 1970 I Enlisted In The U.S. Navy

I enlisted in the U.S. Navy on this day in 1970.

I was a 17-year-old South Philly high school dropout when I raised my hand and swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States and defend America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

It was the beginning of a grand adventure that took me to the Navy Training Center (Boot Camp) in Great Lakes, Illinois, and on to the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, where we sailed to Southeast Asia and "Yankee Station" off the coast of Vietnam. I later served on a Navy tugboat, the USS Saugus, at the American nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland.

I traveled all across America and I visited the Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong, Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, Italy, France, Germany, Canada, Mexico and other countries.

February 9, 1970 was also the beginning of a 37-year-stint in the Defense Department, as my Navy service counted towards my civilian government career.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Jack Riley, Former DEA Official, Says Sean Penn Belongs In Jail For Meeting With Drug Lord El Chapo

Reed Tuck at the New York Post offers a piece on Jack Riley seen in the below photo), a former DEA official, who states that actor Sean Penn should be in jail for meeting with Joaguin "El Chapo" Guzman (seen together in the above photo), the notorious drug lord now on trial in New York.

As you read this, the world’s most notorious drug dealer, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, is sitting uncomfortably in a 136-square-foot jail cell in lower Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.

But he nearly escaped justice. And it’s all Sean Penn’s fault.

Chapo had run the infamous Sinaloa cartel since the 1980s and was responsible for much of the cocaine, marijuana, meth and heroin flowing into the United States. Both American and Mexican law enforcement had attempted to arrest him, but he proved almost supernaturally slippery. He escaped from Mexican lockups twice and was a fugitive for decades, rarely sleeping in the same place twice.

On Oct. 2, 2015, Mexican marines were finally closing in on the drug lord. They had tracked him to a rugged hilltop compound in La Tuna. Just as the order was about to be given to move in, two people inexplicably arrived: Sean Penn and Kate del Castillo, a Mexican soap opera actress who had praised Chapo online. The two were there ostensibly to speak to Guzman about making a film of his life, but Penn later published an infamously softball interview with the kingpin in Rolling Stone

Fearing the actors would be caught in the crossfire, commanders ordered the marines to stand down. The military waited for the celebrities to leave and, instead of going in on foot, chose to attack by helicopter. They lost the element of surprise, and El Chapo escaped again.

“Oh, my God! If I could get my hands on Sean Penn!” Jack Riley, the former No. 2 at the US Drug Enforcement Agency, tells The Post. “The people he put at risk because of that stunt. He should be in jail.”

Riley pushed to have Penn and del Castillo prosecuted for obstruction, but his boss at the DEA and officials at the Department of Justice declined to pursue the case, citing Penn’s protection because he was acting as a journalist. 

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

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Spanish Police Nab Camorra Members After Notorious Crime Family Stole Drugs From Rival Traffickers

Barnini Chakraborty at offers a piece on the takedown of Camorra members, Naples’ organized crime group, in Spain. 

Several members of a violent branch of Italy's notorious Camorra crime family have been arrested after stealing drugs from rival traffickers in Spain and selling the contraband on the streets, authorities said.

Fourteen members of the "Marranella" clan were arrested and another seven are being investigated for the brazen theft and brutal attacks on rival gangs on Spain's southern Costa del Sol.

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