Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Washington Times: 10 Notable Achievements Of The Trump Presidency

The Wall street Journal once noted that the only thing admirable about President Trump was his policies.

That’s how I feel. 

I voted against Trump in the Republican primaries, but I voted for him as president twice. I thought Trump was a huckster and populist and not truly a conservative, but I saw him as the lessor of two evils. 

I thought he was a spoiled rich man’s son who had never been in a fight in his life and dodged the draft during the Vietnam War, but talked like a tough guy.  

I thought he was a deeply flawed man; unintellectual, shallow, thin-skinned, petty, and crude. 

And I suspect those character flaws and his overbearing personality overshadowed his policies and his achievements and cost him the election.   

But love him or hate him, he and his administration achieved great success during his four-year term in office. His policies on the economy, law enforcement, border security and the military did in fact make America great again.                

The Washington Times, where I offer my On Crime column, presented a fine editorial this past Thursday that listed Trump’s 10 notable achievements.   

Thursday marks the first (full) day of the rest of former President Donald Trump‘s life, but don’t expect him to go gentle into that political good night. That’s just not his style — or temperament. 

And with a new NBC News poll finding that fully 87% of Republicans approve of Mr. Trump‘s job performance, we wouldn’t bet against Mr. Trump seeking to become the first ex-president since Grover Cleveland in 1892 to seek a nonconsecutive second term. 

In a hypothetical 2024 “Make America Great Again, Again” campaign, Mr. Trump could cite his administration’s numerous substantive achievements. (Heaven knows he’ll never get credit from Democrats or the mainstream media.) 

So, as Mr. Trump settles back into life as a private citizen, here’s a list — by no means complete and in no particular order — of 10 of the foremost accomplishments of his improbable presidency: 

• The U.S. achieved energy independence, surpassing Saudi Arabia in 2018, becoming the world’s largest producer of crude oil and giving us the lowest gas prices in decades. (This was after President Obama told us we couldn’t “drill our way out” of energy imports from unstable foreign sources.) 

• Three new constitutionalist conservative justices were appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, as were 174 judges to the U.S. district courts and 54 to federal appeals courts. 

… • And finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include Mr. Trump‘s very first achievement: He spared us from a President Hillary Clinton. 

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

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2021/jan/21/editorial-10-notable-achievements-of-the-trump-pre/ 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Babylon Bee: Biden Outlines Plan For Final 100 Days In Office

 The Babylon Bee offers a satirical piece about President Biden.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In prepared remarks given to a room full of giddy reporters, President Biden laid out his plans for his final 100 days in office. 

"Listen, folks, we're one day in and it's been a wild ride. As my term as President comes to a close, it's time for me to lay out my ambitious agenda for my final 100 days."

Sources say Biden will have to move quickly since it's entirely possible his presidency could end well before the anticipated 100 days. The aspirational agenda includes ending all racism, outlawing inequality, saving Earth, bringing world peace, socializing the healthcare system, and requiring home care nurses to serve better tapioca pudding to their patients. 

"I always pledged to be a president for all Americans," said Biden as he outlined his plan. "Foghorn laid an egg on my cabeza and the henhouse needs to close down before the noodle-boat falls in the gravy."

The White House press corps erupted in rapturous cheers, seemingly moved by Biden's inspiring words. It's possible, however, that they're just very excited about Kamala Harris taking over as President.

You can read the rest of the piece and other humor pieces via the below link:  

Biden Outlines Plan For Final 100 Days In Office | The Babylon Bee 

Philadelphia Electrical Contractor Pleads Guilty To Tax Fraud, Theft Of Union Benefit Funds

 The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Pennsylvania released the below information:

PHILADELPHIA – First Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Donald Dougherty, 54, of Philadelphia, PA, entered a plea of guilty today before United States District Court Judge Michael M. Baylson. Dougherty, the owner of Dougherty Electric, Inc., (“DEI”), a well-established Philadelphia-based electrical contractor, pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false federal income tax return and one count of theft of employee benefit funds.

On November 25, 2020, Dougherty was charged by Indictment with multiple charges of bank fraud, tax fraud and theft from employee benefit plans. Also charged with tax fraud was Michael McKale, an accountant who worked for Dougherty. Under the plea agreement between Dougherty and the government announced today, in addition to pleading guilty to tax fraud and theft of union benefit funds, the defendant has agreed to pay $92,913 in taxes due to the Internal Revenue Service, arising from false business deductions for what were actually expenditures for Dougherty’s personal benefit. The defendant also agreed to pay $266,000 in restitution to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (“IBEW”) Local Union 5 in Pittsburgh, arising from his failure to make $266,000 in contributions to Local 5’s employee benefit funds in violation of the collective bargaining agreement between DEI and Local 5 in Pittsburgh.

In 2007, Dougherty was charged, pleaded guilty, and imprisoned for filing false income tax returns, tax evasion, making an unlawful payment to a union official, theft of employee benefit funds, and related offenses. During today’s plea hearing, Dougherty agreed to pay all restitution still owed in this previous case. 

“Donald Dougherty has a track record of trying to skirt the law and defraud hard-working individuals,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Williams. “But the government also has a track record of convicting Dougherty for his crimes.  And we will continue to do just that with every criminal who attempts this kind of scheme.”

“Engaging in an elaborate scheme to willfully underreport taxable income is a felony,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Thomas Fattorusso. “Today, Donald Dougherty admitted he broke the law by cheating on his taxes. As we approach tax filing season, those who might consider filing false tax returns should be aware of the negative consequences; which could include being branded a felon for life and a lengthy prison sentence.”

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Employee Benefits Security Administration branch of the Department of Labor, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul L. Gray and Frank R. Costello, Jr.

 


Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Coolest Guy I Ever Met: My Philadelphia Weekly 'Crime Beat' Column On The Late, Great Crime Novelist Elmore Leonard


Philadelphia Weekly published my Crime Beat on the late, great crime novelist Elmore Leonard.

You can read the column via the below link or the below page:

  How I met the late, great crime novelist Elmore Leonard - Philadelphia Weekly


Note:
You can also read my previous post on Frank Wilson and Elmore Leonard via the below link:


You can click on the above column to enlarge.





Frank Wilson And The Night Elmore Leonard Came To Philadelphia

In my latest Crime Beat column, which was published today in Philadelphia Weekly, I wrote of the time when the late, great crime novelist Elmore Leonard came to Philadelphia in 2009. 

As I noted in the column, my friend and former editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Frank Wilson (seen in the above photo), introduced Elmore Leonard at the Philadelphia Free Library. 

Leonard was in town to promote his novel Road Dogs (William Morrow).

Frank Wilson noted that Elmore Leonard (seen in the below photo) was perhaps one of the coolest guys he ever met. I agree that Leonard was a cool old guy. 

I also think Frank Wilson is a cool guy.  

Frank Wilson, who was the Inquirer’s book editor for many years, began a popular literary blog called BooksInq (https://booksinq.blogspot.com) after he retired from the newspaper. The blog was selected by the London Sunday Times as one of the Top 100 Best Blogs in 2009.   

Like me, Frank Wilson is a huge admirer of Elmore Leonard. As he stated in my column, he believed the crime novelist deserved the Nobel Prize. 

"The writing is as good as it gets. No wasted words. As sharp an eye for detail as anyone. Characters as vivid as they get. Characters as vivid as they get.  I've had friends in low places. Dutch got them right," Frank Wilson said in the column. 

I asked Frank Wilson what he thought of crime fiction. 

“It’s a form, like the sonnet,” Wilson replied.” We revere the sonnet, but for some reason some people tend to denigrate prose genres — crime fiction, science fiction. I don’t get it. Middlemarch is by definition better than The Moonstone because the latter is a detective novel. Simenon’s Inspector Maigret novels are by definition inferior to what he called his “hard novels”? I’ve read a number of both. Both are great.” 

Although I’ve known Frank Wilson for a good number of years, I asked him for a overview of his life and career. 

“Well, I wrote a book column for my college newspaper and later on became the editor of the newspaper. In the fall after I finished college, I went to work for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. They were about to start a journal, which became the Intercollegiate Review,” Wilson said. “I was the managing editor. I wrote my first professional review for the first issue. It was a review of Dag Hammarskjöld’s Markings (a great book). I wasn’t there very long. I had a disagreement with the editor and quit. 

Wilson said he then attended Penn graduate school for a semester and later obtained a teaching assistantship at the University of Dayton. His idea at the time was to receive a Ph.D, and afterwards obtain a job at some small upstate college where he would teach English and write poetry. 

“But by then I had already done some freelancing and had got to know the writing world, and I realized one day that I didn’t want to spend my life in the faculty lounge. So I left Dayton and went back to freelancing. I had a column for a while in the old Philadelphia Drummer. I edited for Lippincott, Fortress Press, Running Press and others. I started reviewing books for The Inquirer around 1976, I think. My first assignment was Hearing Secret Harmonies. volume 12 of Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time. I hadn’t the first 11, but dutiful sort that I am I did read them over the next couple of weeks. 

The freelance book editing dried up in the late ‘70s, Wilson noted, and Lippincott was sold to Harper and the major publishes decided not to hire freelancers. So he made ends meet working on a construction crew building stores. He was then hired at the Inquirer as a clerk (He had a wife and four kids to support; so he said it was no time to be proud). Wilson said the pay was quite good and it enabled him to learn the newspaper business from the ground up. 

“And I continued to review books for the paper. I got promoted to the features copy desk and wrote for the Faith Life section and eventually the book job was open I got the nod. Not long after I got it, they cut the book budget. I kept them cutting space by writing a weekly Editor’s Choice column. Things went very well when Amanda Bennett was the editor, but when Brian Tierney bought the paper, I eventually ran into what Bill Speers in the Newsmakers column used to call “those dreaded artistic differences” with the new management. 

"I was already 67, so I decided to bow out. I continued to review for them after I retired — until they stopped having a book section of their own.” 

Frank Wilson continues to review books and posts everyday at https://booksinq.blogspot.com

Note: You can read my Crime Beat on Elmore Leonard via the below link:

 Paul Davis On Crime: The Coolest Guy I Ever Met: My Philadelphia Weekly 'Crime Beat' Column On The Late, Great Crime Novelist Elmore Leonard


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

U.S. Army Soldier Arrested For Attempting To Assist ISIS To Conduct Deadly Ambush On U.S. Troops

 The US Justice Department released the below information: 

The Justice Department, along with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and U.S. Army Counterintelligence, announced today the arrest of a private first class in the U.S. Army, on federal terrorism charges based on Bridges’ alleged efforts to assist ISIS to attack and kill U.S. soldiers in the Middle East. 

Cole James Bridges, aka Cole Gonzales, 20, of Stowe, Ohio, was charged by complaint with attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and attempting to murder U.S. military service members.  The FBI and U.S. Army Counterintelligence arrested Bridges today, and he will be presented later today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. 

“Bridges is charged with giving military advice and guidance on how to kill fellow soldiers to individuals he thought were part of ISIS,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.  “This alleged personal and professional betrayal of comrades and country is terrible to contemplate, but fortunately, the FBI was able to identify the threat posed by Bridges, and today's charges are the first step in holding him accountable for his crimes.  ISIS ideology continues to infect those who would threaten the nation's security from within and without, and we will continue to fight this threat.” 

“As alleged, Cole Bridges betrayed the oath he swore to defend the United States by attempting to provide ISIS with tactical military advice to ambush and kill his fellow service members,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss.  “Our troops risk their lives for our country, but they should never face such peril at the hands of one of their own.  Today, thanks to the efforts of the agents and detectives of the JTTF, and our partners in the Department of Defense, Bridges is in custody and facing federal terrorism charges for his alleged crimes.” 

“As we allege today, Bridges, a private in the U.S. Army, betrayed our country and his unit when he plotted with someone he believed was an ISIS sympathizer to help ISIS attack and kill U.S. soldiers in the Middle East,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office William F. Sweeney Jr.  “Fortunately, the person with whom he communicated was an FBI employee, and we were able to prevent his evil desires from coming to fruition.  Bridges could have chosen a life of honorable service, but instead he traded it for the possibility of life in prison.  This case should serve as a reminder that the FBI’s New York JTTF will never quit in its commitment to protect our Nation from all those who seek to do it harm.” 

“Army Counterintelligence’s top priority is protecting the force so it can remain committed to fighting and winning our nation’s wars,” said Army Counterintelligence Coordinating Authority Director Roy T. Cochran.  “The results of this investigation show the efforts of Army Counterintelligence agents working alongside our partners in the FBI.  We are dedicated to protecting our soldiers, civilians, and families from terrorist acts and insider threats.” 

According to the criminal complaint charging Bridges, which was unsealed today in Manhattan federal court: 

Bridges joined the U.S. Army in approximately September 2019 and was assigned as a cavalry scout in the 3rd Infantry Division based in Fort Stewart, Georgia.  Beginning in at least 2019, Bridges began researching and consuming online propaganda promoting jihadists and their violent ideology.  Bridges also expressed his support for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and jihad on social media.  In or about October 2020, Bridges began communicating with an FBI online covert employee (the “OCE”), who was posing as an ISIS supporter in contact with ISIS fighters in the Middle East.  During these communications, Bridges expressed his frustration with the U.S. military and his desire to aid ISIS.  Bridges then provided training and guidance to purported ISIS fighters who were planning attacks, including advice about potential targets in New York City, such as the 9/11 Memorial.  Bridges also provided the OCE with portions of a U.S. Army training manual and guidance about military combat tactics, for use by ISIS. 

In or about December 2020, Bridges began to supply the OCE with instructions for the purported ISIS fighters on how to attack U.S. forces in the Middle East.  Among other things, Bridges diagrammed specific military maneuvers intended to help ISIS fighters maximize the lethality of attacks on U.S. troops.  Bridges further provided advice about the best way to fortify an ISIS encampment to repel an attack by U.S. Special Forces, including by wiring certain buildings with explosives to kill the U.S. troops.  Then, in January 2021, Bridges provided the OCE with a video of himself in body armor standing before a flag often used by ISIS fighters and making a gesture symbolic of support for ISIS.  Approximately a week later, Bridges sent a second video in which Bridges, using a voice manipulator, narrated a propaganda speech in support of the anticipated ambush by ISIS on U.S. troops. 

Bridges is charged in the complaint with (1) attempting to provide material support to ISIS, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339B, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and (2) attempting to murder U.S. military service members, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1114, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The statutory penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge. 

The Justice Department praised the outstanding efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), which consists of agents and analysts from the FBI, the NYPD, and over 50 other federal, state, and local agencies, U.S. Army Counterintelligence, the FBI Washington Field Office, the FBI Atlanta Field Office and its Savannah Resident Agency, the FBI Cleveland Field Office, the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, and the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Division. 

This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sam Adelsberg, Matthew Hellman, and Sidhardha Kamaraju are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorneys Michael Dittoe and Lauren Goddard of the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Babylon Bee: Trump Criticized For Loudly Denouncing Incoming Administration And Not Just Spying On Them Like A Normal President

 The Babylon Bee offers another fine satirical piece.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—President Trump is taking heavy criticism for loudly denouncing the incoming Biden administration and not just spying on them as other presidents have done in the past. The nation is demanding that Trump remain "presidential" by appearing to say nice things about the incoming president and secretly try to undermine his next four years in office.

"Trump is being really unpresidential in the way he handled this transition of power. He should have just spied on the incoming administration like a normal president," said one CNN commentator. "This is just a blatant attack on our norms. When Obama left office, he called for peace and unity in public and did his dirty work in secret. That's the way we like our politicians here in this country: publicly honorable, secretly conniving. It's just a really bad look for Trump to actually say what he's thinking, and we don't stand for that in Washington."

You can read the rest of the humor piece and other humor pieces via the below link:

Trump Criticized For Loudly Denouncing Incoming Administration And Not Just Spying On Them Like A Normal President | The Babylon Bee 

Gotta love the Bee 

My Counterterrorism Magazine Online 'Threatcon' Columns

You can read my Counterterrorism magazine online Threatcon columns via the below links:

 Paul Davis On Crime: My Threatcon Column: Breaking Up The Band: Two Of Four ISIS 'Beatles' Charged With Deaths Of Americans

Paul Davis On Crime: My Threatcon Column: The Threats Facing The Upcoming Presidential Election

Paul Davis On Crime: My Threatcon Column: The Cop Is A Spy: NYPD Officer Charged With Being A Communist Chinese Illegal Agent

Paul Davis On Crime: Spies, Traitors & Saboteurs: International Spy Museum's Traveling Exhibit Explores Terrorist Motivations, Public Response



When Edgar Allan Poe Invented The Detective Story, He Changed The Literary World Forever

Today, on Edgar Allan Poe's birthday, Olivia Rutigliano offers a piece on Poe and the first detective story at CrimeReads.com. 

Even though literature had, for centuries, brimmed with clever problem-solvers, from tricksters to reformed thieves to wise men to police prefects, Edgar Allan Poe’s detective story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” still awed the literary world when it appeared in 1841. 

A gruesome double-murder has taken place in a home along the Rue Morgue (a fictional street in Paris). Several witnesses heard several voices, but no one can agree on what language one of the speakers may have been using. Several clues linger about, each more baffling than the next. The police are stumped. But C. Auguste Dupin, a chevalier and rare book aficionado, solves the mystery at home after reading the details in the paper, becoming literature’s first bona fide detective character and starting a genre revolution. He would appear again in two more stories, “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt,” published from 1842-1943, and “The Purloined Letter” in 1844. 

As literary critic A. E. Murch writes, the detective story is one where its “primary interest lies in the methodical discovery, by rational means, of the exact circumstances of a mysterious event or series of events.” Critic Peter Thoms elaborates on this, defining the detective story as “chronicling a search for explanation and solution, such fiction typically unfolds as a kind of puzzle or game, a place of play and pleasure for both detective and reader.” 

The well-heeled Dupin in an armchair detective, who solves puzzles because he can, using a process called “ratiocination,” in which Dupin basically thinks outside of the box. (And it’s a good thing he does, or no one will solve these crimes; the murderer in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” turns out to be an orangutan. It might be safe to say no one else would conclude that.) He narrates his discoveries to his good, book-collector friend (who is an anonymous and often awed first-person narrator). 

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

 When Poe Invented the Detective Story, he Changed the Literary World Forever ‹ CrimeReads 


Monday, January 18, 2021

Former Government Contractor Sentenced For Role In Bribery And Kickback Scheme


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

A former government contractor was sentenced today for his role in a bribery and kickback scheme where he paid bribes to secure U.S. Army contracts. 

David P. Burns, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Kenji M. Price, U.S. Attorney of the District of Hawaii; Ray Park, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s (Army-CID) Pacific Fraud Field Office; Bryan Denny, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS); and Eli “Sam” Miranda, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Honolulu Field Office made the announcement. 

John Winslett, 66, of Bristol, Rhode Island, was sentenced to 70 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release before Chief Judge J. Michael Seabright in the District of Hawaii. 

According to court documents and information presented in court, Winslett admitted that from 2011 to 2018, he paid over $100,000 worth of bribes to two U.S. Army contracting officials who worked at the Range at Schofield Barracks, in order to steer federal contracts worth at least $19 million to his employer, a government contractor. The bribes included cash, automobiles, and firearms. In return, the contracting officials used their positions to benefit Winslett’s employer in securing U.S. Army contracts. 

Winslett further admitted that he accepted $723,333.33 in kickbacks from a local subcontractor in exchange for Winslett assigning those contracts to that local subcontractor.

Army-CID, DCIS and the FBI investigated this case. 

Trial Attorney Laura Connelly and Principal Assistant Chief Justin Weitz of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Wallenstein of the District of Hawaii are prosecuting the case.  

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Ralph Cipriano: Krasner Strikes Again! Accused Murderer Of Dog Walker Was Twice-Convicted Felon Previously Arrested For Carjacking

 Ralph Cipriano at Bigtrial.net offers a piece on the accused murderer of a dog walker, who should have been in prison. 

Three weeks before he allegedly murdered a dog walker in Brewerytown, Davis L. Josephus, 20, a twice convicted felon, was in jail after he'd been arrested for an alleged carjacking. 

But on Dec. 23, 2020, Josephus's bail for the carjacking case was reduced from $100,000 to $20,000. On Dec. 29, 2020, Josephus only had to post 10%, or $2,000, to get out of jail. 

Just 15 days later, on Jan. 13th, 25-year-old Milan Loncar was walking his dog Roo around 7 p.m. at 31st and Jefferson Streets, a block from his home in Brewerytown, when Josephus and another suspect held him up.  

Josephus, according to police sources, allegedly stood in front of Loncar; the other suspect stood behind Loncar as they went through the victim's pockets. 

Then, Josephus allegedly put a gun to Loncar's chest and pulled the trigger. Loncar, a recent Temple University graduate, was mortally wounded. He sat down on the ground, took out his cell phone and appeared to have tried to summon help. Then he stood up, staggered backward, and collapsed supine on the ground while Roo, his pet dog, a mix breed of dachshund and chihuahua, ran to Loncar's side, and wouldn't leave. 

Loncar was pronounced dead 30 minutes later at Temple University Hospital.  

Josephus should have never been out on the street.  

… Carlos Vega, a career homicide prosecutor running for the May 18th Democratic nomination for district attorney, said the blame for Loncar's murder rested squarely on District Attorney Larry Krasner. 

"Basically, had Larry followed the law to keep the public safe, this young man would still be alive," Vega said about the victim. 

About Josephus, Vega said, "There was no reason legally for him to be on the street with his record and what he had done." 

"Judging by his alleged carjacking with a gun, his alleged assault in prison with a weapon, and his two robbery convictions, it was only a matter of time before he [Josephus] killed someone," Vega said.  

According to Vega, Josephus should have been in custody because he was in violation of parole for his two robberies, because the carjacking arrested violated his probation. 

In response, Krasner and his official spokesperson, Jane Roh, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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

Krasner Strikes Again! Accused Murderer Of Dog Walker Was Twice-Convicted Felon Previously Arrested For Carjacking | Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Captain And 10 Members And Associates Of Gambino Crime Family Plead Guilty To Crimes Including Racketeering Conspiracy, Wire Fraud, Money Laundering And Obstruction Of Justice

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York released the below information: 

Earlier today, and throughout the past week in federal court in Brooklyn, 11 members and associates of the Gambino organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra pleaded guilty to multiple crimes, including racketeering conspiracy, fraud, obstruction of justice and related offenses for criminal activities throughout the New York metropolitan area committed as part of the illicit activities of the Gambino family.  One additional defendant pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return.  The proceedings were held before United States Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann.

Today, Andrew Campos, a captain in the Gambino organized crime family, and Vincent Fiore, a Gambino family soldier, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, variously admitting their participation in predicate acts of wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice offenses. 

Previously, Richard Martino, a Gambino family soldier, and Frank Tarul, a Gambino crime family associate, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruction justice;  Mark Kocaj, Benito DiZenzo and Carlos Cobos, Sr., Gambino family associates, pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy;  James Ciaccia and George Campos, Gambino family soldiers, and Renato Barca, Jr. and Michael Tarul, Gambino family associates, pleaded guilty to making false statements in connection with their fraudulently obtaining safety cards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”).  John Simonlacaj, a former managing director of a construction company, pleaded guilty to submitting a false tax return. 

Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the guilty pleas.

“With these guilty pleas, a dozen members and associates of the Gambino crime family are held accountable for committing a litany of crimes in the construction industry that enriched the Mafia at the expense of the American taxpayer, construction companies harmed by their pernicious presence and the U.S. government,” stated Acting United States Attorney DuCharme.  “The defendants will now have to pay the consequences for their corrupt activities.”  Mr. DuCharme expressed his grateful appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, the Internal Revenue Service- Criminal Investigation, the New York City Police Department and the Department of Labor for their exemplary work on the case.  Mr. DuCharme also thanked the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, the United States Probation Departments for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor for their assistance during the investigation.

According to court filings and facts presented during the guilty plea proceedings, Andrew Campos and members of his crew carried out fraudulent schemes to infiltrate the construction industry and earn millions of dollars in criminal proceeds, in part through their operation of a carpentry company, CWC Contracting Corp. (“CWC”).  Campos, Fiore and Cobos, among others, defrauded the U.S. government by paying CWC employees millions of dollars in cash without making the required payroll tax withholdings and payments.  Further, Campos, Fiore and others laundered money, causing checks to be made from CWC, purportedly for work performed in connection with CWC construction projects where, in fact, no services were performed.  The proceeds of these scheme were used to, among other things, construct Andrew Campos’s residence.  Further, when Fiore became aware of the government’s investigation, he tried to obstruct it by asking another person to lie about his and Campos’s misconduct.

Between June 2018 and June 2019, CWC paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to employees of a real estate development company (described in the indictment as “Construction Company #1”), including John Simonlacaj, the company’s former Managing Director of Development.  CWC paid the bribes in the form of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of free labor and materials used for renovations on Simonlacaj’s residence, which Simonlacaj failed to report as taxable income and which Kocaj had fraudulently paid for by billing them to a CWC project for Construction Company #1.  Kocaj was recorded stating the work “should have been pro bono” because Construction Company #1 “do[es] 50 million a year in business.”  DiZenzo and Fiore performed tens of thousands of dollars of work at a gym for the benefit of an employee of another real estate development company (described in the indictment as “Construction Company #2”), which they agreed would be fraudulently paid for by billing the work to an unrelated project for Construction Company #2. 

In addition to these schemes, Martino was convicted in the Eastern District of New York in 2005 for his role in a scheme to defraud users of adult entertainment services.  Martino was ordered by the Court to pay $9.1 million in forfeiture.  After his release from prison, Martino, together with Frank Tarul and others, concealed Martino’s substantial income in order to avoid him paying the more than $300,000 forfeiture balance owed by falsely reporting that Martino had limited assets and worked for Tarul’s flooring company.  In reality, Martino operated companies that earned millions of dollars.

Finally, Barca, George Campos, Ciaccia and Michael Tarul, along with others, fraudulently procured safety cards from the United States Department of Labor indicating the completion of certain OSHA training courses when, in fact, the courses were not completed.

When sentenced, Andrew Campos, Cobos, DiZenzo, Fiore, Kocaj, Martino and Frank Tarul each face up to 20 years in prison.  Barca, George Campos, Ciaccia and Michael Tarul each face up to 5 years in prison.  Simonlacaj faces up to 3 years in prison

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime & Gangs Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Keith D. Edelman and Kayla C. Bensing are in charge of the prosecution, assisted by EDNY Special Agent Erik Nesbitt.  Assistant United States Attorney Claire S. Kedeshian of the Office’s Civil Division is handling forfeiture matters. 

The Defendants:

RENATO BARCA, JR. (also known as “Ronny”)
Age: 33
Bronx, New York

ANDREW CAMPOS
Age: 51
Scarsdale, New York

GEORGE CAMPOS
Age: 73
Peekskill, New York

JAMES CIACCIA
Age: 52
Bronx, New York

CARLOS COBOS, SR.
Age: 57
Brentwood, New York

BENITO DIZENZO (also known as “Benny”)
Age: 54
New Rochelle, New York

VINCENT FIORE
Age: 58
Briarcliff, New York

MARK KOCAJ (also known as “Chippy”)
Age: 50
Tuckahoe, New York

RICHARD MARTINO
Age: 61
Rye, New York

JOHN SIMONLACAJ (also known as “John Si” and “Smiley”)
Age: 51
Scarsdale, New York

FRANK TARUL (also known as “Bones”)
Age: 46
Bronx, New York

MICHAEL TARUL (also known as “Perkins”)
Age: 44
Bronx, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 19-CR-575 (FB)

My Threatcon Column: Breaking Up The Band: Two Of Four ISIS 'Beatles' Charged With Deaths Of Americans

  

My online Threatcon column was posted on Counterterrorism magazine’s website:

Like the world-famous musical band, the ISIS terrorist foursome known as “The Beatles” has broken up.

With their English accents and British background, the four terrorists have been called “The Beatles” facetiously. The men were British citizens but were stripped of their citizenship when they traveled to Syria to join ISIS.

The British agreed to hand over the accused terrorists and provide evidence against them, but the British government insisted that the U.S. agree not to pursue the death penalty in order for the men to be brought to the US to face justice. 

Two of the four terrorists are in American custody and are charged with hostage-taking of American citizens in Syria and other terrorism offenses that resulted in the deaths of James Wright Foley, Steven Joel Sotloff, Peter Edward Kassig, and Kayla Jean Mueller. The two have pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

On October 7th the U.S. Justice Department announced that Alexanda Amon Kotey, 36, and El Shafee Elsheikh, 32, two militant fighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a foreign terrorist organization were expected to be in the U.S. and in FBI custody on charges related to their participation in a brutal hostage-taking scheme that resulted in the deaths of four American citizens, as well as the deaths of British and Japanese nationals, in Syria.

“These charges are the product of many years of hard work in pursuit of justice for our citizens slain by ISIS. Although we cannot bring them back, we can and will seek justice for them, their families, and for all Americans,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “Our message to other terrorists around the world is this — if you harm Americans, you will face American arms on the battlefield or American law in our courtrooms. Either way, you will be pursued to the ends of the earth until justice is done.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray added, “Today, we remember the victims, Jim Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller, and their families who are forever affected by these senseless acts of violence. These families have suffered withthe painful loss of their loved ones at the hands of brutal killers;today's charges demonstrate the FBI's dedication and commitment to giving them the justice they deserve.”

According to the indictment, from 2012 to 2015, Kotey, Elsheikh, Mohamed Emwazi (who is dead), and a fourth British citizen currently incarcerated in Turkey, were ISIS fighters and participated in the abduction of American and European hostages in Syria. The men also allegedly engaged in a prolonged pattern of physical and psychological violence against the hostages, including against American citizens James Wright Foley, Kayla Jean Mueller, Steven Joel Sotloff, and Peter Edward Kassig.

From August 2014 through October 2014, ISIS released videos depicting Emwazi’s brutal beheadings of Foley, Sotloff, and British citizens David Haines and Alan Henning. In November 2014, ISIS released a video depicting the decapitated head of Kassig. In January 2015, ISIS released videos with images of two dead Japanese citizens.

According to the indictment, Kotey, Elsheikh, and Emwazi, worked closely with Abu Muhammed al-Adnani, a former leading ISIS commander and chief media spokesperson. Until he was killed in a United States military airstrike in August 2016, Adnani reported directly to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the former self-proclaimed leader of ISIS. Baghdadi was killed during a United States military operation in Syria in October 2019.

The indictment alleges that Kotey, Elsheikh, and Emwazi ran detention facilities that held hostages and engaged in a prolonged pattern of physical and psychological violence against hostages. Kotey and Elsheikh also coordinated the Western-hostage ransom negotiations conducted by email. The release of American and other hostages was conditioned on the transfer of large sums of money or concessions from the United States government, such as the release of Muslim prisoners.

Kotey and Elsheikh are each charged with conspiracy to commit hostage taking resulting in death; four counts of hostage taking resulting in death; conspiracy to murder United States citizens outside of the United States; conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists — hostage taking and murder — resulting in death; and conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization resulting in death. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

“We welcome the transfer of the ISIS ‘Beatles’ to the United States to stand trial in a court of law,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on October 7th. “The United States will not rest until these alleged terrorists are held accountable for their crimes and justice is delivered to their victims’ families.”

Unlike John, Paul, George and Ringo, few are saddened by the breakup of the ISIS “Beatles.”

Paul Davis’ Threatcon column covers crime, espionage, terrorism and other national security issues.

 

Ralph Cipriano: Philly D.A. Krasner Loses A Big One; Inspector Bologna Beats The Rap

 Veteran reporter Ralph Cipriano at Bigtrial.net offer a piece on DA Larry Krasner losing the case against former Philadelphia Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna. 

District Attorney Larry Krasner loves to indict cops, even when there's no evidence to back it up. 

Today, Krasner's reckless and irresponsible behavior blew up in his face. Former Staff Inspector Joseph Bologna walked out of court a free man after a judge threw out all the charges Krasner filed against him for lack of evidence. 

At a preliminary hearing in Municipal Court, the dismissed charges against Bologna included reckless endangerment, possession of an instrument of crime, and felony aggravated assault. 

Bologna was accused of striking a protester, Evan Gorski, in the head with his metal baton, his department-issued instrument of crime, which, according to the D.A., inflicted wounds on Gorski that required 10 staples and 10 sutures.

But when it comes to indicting cops, D.A. Krasner sees only want he wants to see. In video of the June 1st incident, which was broken down frame by frame in the courtroom, no such blow from Bologna's baton was seen striking Gorski's head. Neither was any blood visible, nor any gaping head wound.

Instead, a frame-by-frame breakdown of the video showed that the trajectory of Bologna's baton was nowhere near Gorski's head. The video showed that when Bologna's baton struck Gorski, the point of impact was on Gorski's backpack, which covered his left shoulder blade, which, under department regulations, was an acceptable use of force. 

On the witness stand, Gorski, a Temple University engineering student, claimed he was exercising his First Amendment rights at a George Floyd protest. But Gorski admitted that he was also interfering with Bologna as the officer was trying to arrest a young man wearing a pink bandana in the video.

The unidentified man in the pink bandana is seen spraying Bologna with an unidentified liquid shot from a spray bottle. On the witness stand, Gorski said the man in the pink bandana was a friend and co-worker at the Apple store where Gorski worked.

Gorski also testified that he grabbed Bologna's baton. In the video, Gorski was seen throwing the baton into a crowd while Gorski was on the ground, being subdued by the cops.

No baton blow to the head, no visible injuries; case dismissed. 

Gorski had orignally been charged with assaulting a police officer. But in the theater of the absurd that is Larry Krasner's D.A.'s office, the charge against Gorski was dismissed by the D.A.

But in court today, when none of the 0charges the D.A. filed against Bologna stuck, it was a humiliating defeat for Krasner. The D.A. now has 30 days to decide whether he will re-file charges against Bologna.

Logic would say to quit while you're behind, but when it comes to indicting cops, Krasner doesn't follow logic. 

Predictably, Krasner, who has stonewalled Big Trial for the past 18 months, told a couple of reporters at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Krasner's favorite local news outlet, that he intended to refile the charges against Bologna. 

Brilliant move, Larry. Retry the same sad case with the same lack of evidence, but expect a different result. Literally, the definition of insanity. We anxiously look forward to your next humiliating defeat.  

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

D.A. Krasner Loses A Big One; Inspector Bologna Beats The Rap | Big Trial | Philadelphia Trial Blog 

Friday, January 15, 2021

FBI Director Christopher Wray’s Remarks At Briefing On Inauguration Security

 The FBI released the below information:

During a briefing to Vice President Mike Pence with other agency officials at FEMA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., on January 14, 2021, FBI Director Christopher Wray discussed the FBI's efforts regarding inauguration security. Remarks as delivered.

Mr. Vice President, just as we’re doing with our investigation into last week’s violent activities at the Capitol, we’re bringing our aggressive operational capabilities and deep investigative and intelligence expertise to next week’s inauguration.

As Director Murray said, while the Secret Service takes the lead in inaugural security, the FBI is the lead federal agency for crisis response, for counterterrorism investigations, and intelligence analysis. In that vein, as Director Murray said, we’ve been planning for months and months on this, which is part of what I think gives us the confidence that we have. At the FBI, we’ve set up a national command post at FBI Headquarters as well as a command post in our Washington Field Office, which I know you visited before and you would recognize.

As well, we have command posts in all 56 of our field offices. Those command posts bring together personnel—not just from the FBI but from across the government—to gather intelligence, to assess potential threats, to coordinate investigations, and to surge resources where needed. They make it possible to share information in real time and allow our personnel to continually update those threat assessments.

Those command posts are going to be running 24/7 through the inauguration and, in some cases, in the days to follow.

We’re monitoring all incoming leads, whether they’re calls for armed protest, potential threats that grow out of the January 6 breach of the Capitol, or other kinds of potential threats leading up to inaugural events and in various other targets. We’re latched up with all of our partners in that regard.

When we talk about potential threats—maybe I’ll just say a word or two about that—we are seeing an extensive amount of concerning online chatter—that’s the best way I would describe it—about a number of events surrounding the inauguration. Together with our partners, we evaluate those threats and what kind of resources to deploy against them. Right now, we‘re tracking calls for potential armed protests and activity leading up to the inauguration.

The reason I use the word “potential” is because one of the real challenges in this space is trying to distinguish what’s aspirational versus what’s intentional. We’re concerned about the potential for violence at multiple protests and rallies planned here in D.C. and at state Capitol buildings around the country in the days to come that could bring armed individuals within close proximity to government buildings and officials.

As you can imagine, the volume of information out there is significant, but we’ve been pushing that information as rapidly as possible to all of our relevant law enforcement and intelligence partners. If we find that an individual poses a violent threat, then we and our partners will take advantage of every lawful authority and method we’ve got to disrupt any attempt or attack. Our posture is aggressive; it’s going to stay that way through the inauguration.

In that vein, we and our partners have already arrested more than 100 individuals for their criminal activities in last week’s siege of the Capitol and continue to pursue countless other related investigations. Those help not only prevent those individuals from any effort to repeat that kind of activity, but also should serve as a very stern warning to anybody else who might be inclined to try to engage in that activity.

But we’re also taking other steps. The American people may not hear about every disruption in the media and may not see the FBI’s hand in everything we do, but they should be confident that there’s an awful lot of work all across the country going on behind the scenes, out of the spotlight, where we’re feeding relevant information to all of our partners so that they can harden targets as appropriate.

And as I said, we’re looking at individuals who may have an eye toward repeating that same kind of violence that we saw last week. I mean, from January 6 alone, we’ve already identified over 200 suspects. We know who you are, if you’re out there, and FBI agents are coming to find you.

My advice to people who might be inclined to follow in the footsteps of those who engaged in the kind of activity that we saw last week is: Stay home. Look at what’s happening now to the people who were involved in the Capitol siege. Wherever they scattered to—whether it was Memphis, Phoenix, Dallas, Honolulu—what they’re finding is that we’ve got FBI agents tracking them down and arresting them.

If I were those people, you don’t want to be the ones to have FBI agents knocking on your door at 6:00 a.m. So anybody who plots or attempts violence in the coming week should count on a visit.

So together with our partners here in the District and across the country, we’re going to be doing everything we can to ensure a smooth transition of power in the days to come. This is a team effort, and I’m really proud of the team that you have assembled here.


MS-13’s Highest-Ranking Leaders Charged With Terrorism Offenses In The United States

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

An indictment was unsealed in Central Islip, New York charging 14 of the world’s highest-ranking MS-13 leaders who are known today as the Ranfla Nacional, which operated as the Organization’s Board of Directors, and directed MS-13’s violence and criminal activity around the world for almost two decades. 

Specifically, the indictment charges the defendants with conspiracy to provide and conceal material support to terrorists, conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, conspiracy to finance terrorism and narco-terrorism conspiracy in connection with the defendants’ leadership of the transnational criminal organization over the past two decades from El Salvador, the United States, Mexico and elsewhere. 

Defendant Borromeo Enrique Henriquez, aka “Diablito de Hollywood,” is widely recognized as the most powerful member of the Ranfla Nacional.  Three of the indicted defendants, Fredy Ivan Jandres-Parada, aka “Lucky de Park View” and “Lacky de Park View,” Cesar Humberto Lopez-Larios, aka “El Grenas de Stoners” and “Oso de Stoners,” and Hugo Armando Quinteros-Mineros, aka “Flaco de Francis,” remain at large and should be considered armed and dangerous.  

Members of the public with information concerning their whereabouts are strongly encouraged to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) toll-free MS-13 tip line, 1-866-STP-MS13 (1-866-787-6713), or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) at (866) 347-2423 or https://www.ice.gov/webform/ice-tip-form.  Together, FBI and HSI have offered $20,000 in rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of each of the three fugitives.  Henriquez and 10 other defendants are in custody in El Salvador.  The United States will explore options for their extradition to the United States with the Government of El Salvador. 

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen, Acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY), Director of Joint Task Force Vulcan (JTFV) John J. Durham, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, and Executive Associate Director Derek Benner of HSI, announced the unsealing of the indictment. 

Acting Attorney General Rosen said, “The indictment announced today is the highest-reaching and most sweeping indictment targeting MS-13 and its command and control structure in U.S. history.  When Attorney General Barr announced the creation of JTFV in August 2019, he envisioned a whole-of-government approach that would combine proven prosecution tools from the past with innovative strategies designed specifically to eliminate MS-13 leadership’s ability to operate the gang and direct its terrorist activity.  This indictment reflects an important step toward achieving that goal.  By working side-by-side with our U.S. law enforcement partners and with our partners in El Salvador, we have charged MS-13’s highest-ranking leaders with operating a transnational criminal organization that utilizes terror to impose their will on neighborhoods, businesses and innocent civilians across the United States and Central America.” 

“MS-13 is responsible for a wave of death and violence that has terrorized communities, leaving neighborhoods on Long Island and throughout the Eastern District of New York awash in bloodshed,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme.  “Even when incarcerated, the Ranfla Nacional continued to direct MS-13’s global operations, recruit new members, including children, into MS-13, and orchestrate murder and mayhem around the world.  Today’s ground-breaking indictment seeks to demolish MS-13 by targeting its command and control structure and holding MS-13’s Board of Directors accountable for their terroristic actions.” 

“The FBI is committed to combatting all forms of terrorism that threaten the American people as well as our international partners,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “In collaboration with our federal, state, local and international partners, we took aggressive steps to target and pursue some of the highest levels of leadership of MS-13. This operation is a clear signal to others who engage in this type of transnational criminal activity: the FBI will work tirelessly to bring them to justice wherever they are based.”  

“For over a decade, HSI has remained steadfast in our resolve to dismantle transnational gangs like MS-13,” said HSI Executive Associate Director Benner.  “As one of the most violent and dangerous criminal enterprises, MS-13 and Ranfla Nacional were directly responsible for unthinkable violence and criminal activity in communities across the United States and throughout Central America.  As a result of the hard work and substantial resources dedicated to Joint Task Force Vulcan by our domestic and international law enforcement partners, this indictment will have a lasting disruptive effect on the future global illicit activities of this transnational criminal organization.” 

As alleged in the indictment, the Ranfla Nacional comprises the highest level of leadership of MS-13.  In approximately 2002, the defendants and other MS-13 leaders began establishing a highly organized, hierarchical command and control structure as a means to effectuate their decisions and enforce their orders, even while in prison.  

They directed acts of violence and murder in El Salvador, the United States, and elsewhere, established military-style training camps for its members and obtained military weapons such as rifles, handguns, grenades, improvised explosive devices (IED) and rocket launchers.  As leaders of MS-13, the defendants controlled swaths of territory and engaged in public relations efforts on behalf of the transnational criminal organization.  Further, the defendants used MS-13’s large membership in the United States to engage in criminal activities, such as drug trafficking and extortion to raise money to support MS-13’s terrorist activities in El Salvador and elsewhere, and directed members in the United States to commit acts of violence, including murders, to further its goals.  

As further alleged in the indictment, a central theme of the rules implemented by the Ranfla Nacional was the requirement of loyalty to MS-13, or to the “barrio.”  The requirement for loyalty was central to all aspects of life for MS-13 members.  Members who disobeyed the rules, showed disloyalty to the gang or to its leaders, cooperated with law enforcement, or disrespected other members were subject to severe punishment, including death.  The rules put in place by the Ranfla Nacional allowed the gang to flourish in parts of the United States, including within the EDNY where, under the defendants’ command, MS-13 has committed numerous acts of violence—including murders, attempted murders, assaults, kidnappings, drug trafficking, extortion of individuals and businesses, obstructed justice and sent dues and the proceeds of criminal activity by wire transfer to MS-13 leaders in El Salvador.  

As further outlined in the indictment, the Ranfla Nacional has exercised its power over the Government of El Salvador by committing acts of violence and intimidation over government officials, law enforcement and the population of El Salvador at large.  In doing so the Ranfla Nacional has ordered the killing of law enforcement and government officials in El Salvador as well as ordering a “green light,” or killing, of a FBI Special Agent detailed to El Salvador investigating MS-13 and its members.  Moreover, by controlling the level of MS-13’s violence, the Ranfla Nacional exercised leverage with the Government of El Salvador.  For example, as alleged in the indictment, from approximately 2012 until approximately 2015, the Ranfla Nacional entered into a “truce” with the then-Government of El Salvador.  

As part of this agreement, the Ranfla Nacional directed MS-13 to reduce homicides in El Salvador in exchange for improved prison conditions, benefits and cash payments.  In 2015, when this agreement collapsed, the Ranfla Nacional blamed the United States, believing that the U.S. government pressured the government of El Salvador to end the “truce” as a condition of receiving funds from the United States.  Thereafter, in early 2016, the Ranfla Nacional began planning for a major campaign of coordinated violence in El Salvador in retaliation for the harsher measures imposed on its members after the end of the “truce.”  As alleged in the indictment, the defendants ordered all cliques in El Salvador to create a specialized unit of MS-13 members to target police officers, military members, and government officials in El Salvador.  These members underwent military training at MS-13 military training camps in El Salvador.  The defendants also ordered all cliques, including those in the United States and in the EDNY, to provide profits from their MS-13-related criminal activity to be used to purchase weapons for the planned attacks on police in El Salvador.  In total, the defendants collected over $600,000 U.S. dollars for this fund which was used to purchase weapons, including M-16s and M-60 machine guns, grenades, IEDs, and rocket launchers.  Furthermore, the defendants ordered increased violence, including murders, in the EDNY and other parts of the United States, which saw a dramatic increase in MS-13 violence in 2016 and 2017.  

Finally, as alleged in the indictment, the Ranfla Nacional directed the expansion of MS-13 activities around the world, most significantly into Mexico, where several high-ranking leaders were sent to organize operations there.  In Mexico, MS-13 leaders made connections to obtain narcotics and firearms, conducted business with Mexican drug cartels such as the Zetas, Gulf Cartel, Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) and Sinaloa Cartel, and engaged in human trafficking and smuggling. 

In August 2019, Attorney General William P. Barr created JTFV to carry out the recommendations of the MS-13 Subcommittee formed under the Attorney General’s Transnational Organized Crime Task Force (TOC Task Force).  The Attorney General’s TOC Task Force resulted from President Donald J. Trump’s February 2017 Executive Order directing the Departments of Justice, State, and Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to coordinate a whole-of-government approach to dismantle transnational criminal organizations, such as MS-13, and increase the safety of the American people. 

Since its creation, JTFV has successfully implemented a whole-of-government approach to combatting MS-13, including increasing coordination and collaboration with foreign law enforcement partners, including El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala; designating priority MS-13 programs, cliques and leaders, who have the most impact on the United States, for targeted prosecutions; and coordinating significant MS-13 indictments in U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country, including the first use of national security charges against MS-13 leaders. 

JTFV has been comprised of members from the Department of Justice’s National Security Division and the Criminal Division, as well as U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country, including the EDNY; the District of New Jersey; the Northern District of Ohio; the District of Utah; the Eastern District of Virginia; the District of Massachusetts; the Eastern District of Texas; the Southern District of New York; the District of Alaska; the Southern District of Florida; the Southern District of California; the District of Nevada; and the District of Columbia.  In addition, all Department of Justice law enforcement agencies are involved in the effort, including the FBI; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service; and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.  In addition, HSI also plays a critical role in JTFV. 

Acting Attorney General Rosen expressed his sincere thanks to Attorney General Raul Melara of El Salvador for the assistance of his office, as well as investigators from El Salvador’s Policía Nacional Civil, Centro Antipandilla Transnacional unit for their invaluable cooperation.  Additionally, numerous Department of Justice components contributed to this indictment, including: the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section; the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs; the Criminal Division’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training; and Organized Crime and Gang Section; and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces Executive Office.  Finally, consistent with President Trump’s Executive Order and the Attorney General’s whole of government approach, the Department of State has provided critical support for JTFV’s mission. 

The charges announced today are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.  If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of life in prison. 

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James Donnelly, Matthew Shepherd, and Stewart Young from JTFV, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul G. Scotti, Justina L. Geraci, and Megan E. Farrell from the EDNY’s Long Island Criminal Division.