Tuesday, August 30, 2022

DEA Warns Of Brightly-Colored Fentanyl Used To Target Young Americans

The DEA issued a warning about the deadly drug fentanyl:

WASHINGTON – The Drug Enforcement Administration is advising the public of an alarming emerging trend of colorful fentanyl available across the United States.  In August 2022, DEA and our law enforcement partners began seizing brightly-colored fentanyl and fentanyl pills in 18 states.  Dubbed “rainbow fentanyl” in the media, this trend appears to be a new method used by drug cartels to sell highly addictive and potentially deadly fentanyl made to look like candy to children and young people.

“Rainbow fentanyl—fentanyl pills and powder that come in a variety of bright colors, shapes, and sizes—is a deliberate effort by drug traffickers to drive addiction amongst kids and young adults,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram.  “The men and women of the DEA are relentlessly working to stop the trafficking of rainbow fentanyl and defeat the Mexican drug cartels that are responsible for the vast majority of the fentanyl that is being trafficked in the United States.”

Brightly-colored fentanyl is being seized in multiple forms, including pills, powder, and blocks that resembles sidewalk chalk.  Despite claims that certain colors may be more potent than others, there is no indication through DEA’s laboratory testing that this is the case.  Every color, shape, and size of fentanyl should be considered extremely dangerous.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.  Just two milligrams of fentanyl, which is equal to 10-15 grains of table salt, is considered a lethal dose.  Without laboratory testing, there is no way to know how much fentanyl is concentrated in a pill or powder. 

Fentanyl remains the deadliest drug threat facing this country.  According to the CDC, 107,622 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021, with 66 percent of those deaths related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.  Drug poisonings are the leading killer of Americans between the ages of 18 and 45.  Fentanyl available in the United States is primarily supplied by two criminal drug networks, the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG).

In September 2021, DEA launched the One Pill Can Kill Public Awareness Campaign to educate Americans about the dangers of fake pills.  

Monday, August 29, 2022

Colombian National Sentenced To 30 Years For Recruiting Crewmembers To Smuggle Over 1,500 Kilograms Of Cocaine On Ill-Fated Oil Freighter “Fat Crow”

 The U. S. Attorney’s Office Middle District of Florida released the below information:

Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday has sentenced Hector Fabio Garcia Vengohechea (59, Cartagena, Colombia) to 30 years in federal prison for conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine on a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Garcia Vengohechea had pleaded guilty on January 19, 2022.

According to court documents, on August 24, 2017, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma interdicted the oil freighter “Fat Crow” in international waters south of Kingston, Jamaica. There were nine crewmembers on the vessel and 1,504 kilograms of cocaine concealed within. The vessel, registered in the Togolese Republic, was destined for a point off the coast of Honduras.

Garcia Vengohechea, who had a prior federal conviction for drug trafficking prosecuted in the Middle District of Florida, recruited the crewmembers of the “Fat Crow” and helped plan the venture. He also negotiated payments to the crewmembers and met with the crew prior to departure. After his arrest in Cartagena on October 10, 2019, on a provisional arrest warrant in this case, Garcia Vengohechea admitted to FBI and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service agents that he was in charge of providing guidance to the “Fat Crow” crewmembers as well as supplies for the venture.

This case was investigated by the Panama Express Strike Force, an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) comprised of agents and analysts from the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and U.S. Southern Command's Joint Interagency Task Force South. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at www.justice.gov/OCDETF.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dan Baeza.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Iron Pipeline: Two North Carolina Men And One Woman From South Carolina Charged With Illegally Trafficking 50+ Firearms into Philadelphia

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia released the below information:

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that Najee Cunningham, 31, and James Cunningham, 27, both of Wilmington, North Carolina, and Rickia Adams, 24, of Marion, South Carolina, were charged by Indictment with multiple firearms offenses related to their scheme to illegally traffic guns across state lines from the southern United States into Philadelphia, a large northeastern city, a fact pattern which is commonly known as the “iron pipeline.” Specifically, all three defendants were charged with conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Beginning in 2021, ATF Special Agents identified multiple firearms recovered in the City of Philadelphia, many connected to shootings, homicides, and illegal gun possession cases, that had been purchased by the same individuals in Ohio, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The short time frame between the purchase of the firearm and recovery in Philadelphia (known as the “time to crime” period) indicated that the weapons may have been trafficked into the city – a city that experienced the highest number of homicides in recorded history last year and is on track to outpace that number this year. In this case, the shortest “time to crime” alleged in the Indictment is just one day from the date of purchase in another state to the recovery of the firearm in Philadelphia, in connection with a crime. The Indictment also alleges that the defendants purchased more than 50 firearms over the course of a year and transported them to Philadelphia for sale on the black market. To date, at least 25 of those firearms have been recovered in the greater Philadelphia area.

“Stopping the gun violence ravaging our city and supporting the work of the Philadelphia Police Department is a top priority for our Office,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “Earlier this year, the Justice Department announced strategies to fight violent crime, including cracking down on firearms trafficking and the ‘iron pipeline’ – the illegal flow of guns sold in mostly southern states, transported up the East Coast, and found at crime scenes in northeastern cities like ours. This Indictment, one of several announced just this year, shows that we are committed and determined to focus our resources on this problem.”

“Stemming the illegal flow of firearms into our city will always be at the forefront of our mission,” said Matthew Varisco, Special Agent in charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division.  “ATF and our dedicated partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office are committed to using all tools available, to include the use of crime gun intelligence data, to make sure those engaged in trafficking firearms into the Commonwealth are held accountable.” 

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.   The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ashley N. Martin.

An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. 

Thursday, August 25, 2022

British University Issues ‘Trigger Warning’ For Mark Twain’s ‘Huckleberry Finn’

Lee Brown at the New York Post reports on a Brit University placing a “Trigger Warning” On Mark Twain’s great novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

A British university has issued a “trigger warning” on Mark Twain’s literary classic “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” because of supposed “problematic” violence and language.

Exeter University warned students that the 1884 novel — widely deemed one of the great American novels — is “classic but contentious,” according to The Times of London.

Twain’s masterpiece “is problematic in a number of ways, not least because of Huck’s use of the N-word throughout the novel,” students in the American literature module were warned. 

“Please be aware that this novel also features scenes of murder, violence and child abuse,” the warning reportedly adds.

Exeter University warned that the 1884 novel “is problematic in a number of ways,” including its use of the N-word as well as “scenes of murder, violence and child abuse.”

Twain’s tale of 13-year-old Huck Finn’s travels down the Mississippi River with an escaped slave named Jim has for generations been taught as a condemnation of the racist values of the time.

“It’s the best book we’ve had,” Ernest Hemingway once said of it. “All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before.”

It is also a pioneering work for Twain’s use of colloquial dialect, making it a timeless snapshot of the Antebellum South.

However, his reliance on the era’s racially charged language — including the N-word, which appears 219 times — has long sparked controversy. 

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

University gives 'trigger warning' for 'Huckleberry Finn' (nypost.com)

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

FBI Philadelphia Urges Cybersecurity Awareness

The FBI in Philadelphia released the below information:

The FBI is engaged in a cybersecurity awareness campaign to warn government and private sector organizations in our region about continued cyber threats. This campaign includes media engagements, social media posts, and presentations to local industry groups.

As the home of many businesses, universities, and other nonprofits, the Philadelphia area is a target-rich environment for cyberattacks. The FBI Philadelphia Office is inviting organizations of all sizes to partner with us before a cyber incident occurs.

“With the staggering risks posed by cybercrime today, there’s increased urgency for the FBI, the public sector, and the private sector to work together against this threat,” said Jacqueline Maguire, FBI Philadelphia special Agent in charge. “That’s why we’re encouraging municipalities, businesses, and other organizations to proactively establish a relationship with us, and to report cyberattacks quickly, should they occur. Cybersecurity is national security—and strengthening our nation’s cyber defenses is a critical task requiring a cooperative effort.”

Current Cyber Threats

  • Critical Infrastructure Attacks: The private sector controls most of the country’s critical infrastructure, intellectual property, and personal data, making large corporations and small businesses targets of cyberattacks. In 2021, America’s critical infrastructure experienced an unprecedented increase in cyberattacks. While nation-state threats remain the most significant threat to critical infrastructure because of their persistence, sophistication, and potential for destructive intent, ransomware attacks by cybercriminals have also targeted U.S. critical infrastructure, including emergency services, hospitals, and the energy sector.
  • Ransomware: Ransomware is a type of malicious software that cybercriminals and nation-state actors often deploy after they have hacked into a victim’s computer to encrypt their data. These bad actors then demand payment of a ransom to unlock the encrypted data. The FBI has observed ransomware attacks become more targeted and has seen the ransoms increase significantly in recent years. While the perpetrators of these attacks would typically demand a few hundred dollars in the mid-2000s, some now use a sliding scale based on the annual revenue of the victim organizations. When a ransomware incident occurs, swift communication with the FBI could positively impact data recovery efforts. Through victim engagements, the FBI also develops a greater understanding of the different variants and ransomware groups to the benefit of future victims.
  • Supply Chain Attacks: A business’s cybersecurity is only as strong as that of its trusted vendors. The FBI warns companies that supply chains are increasingly a point of vulnerability for computer intrusions.

Partnering with FBI Philadelphia

The most vital step a company or organization can take to protect itself is to implement good cyber hygiene practices. As a company or entity strengthens its cybersecurity, the FBI highly recommends engaging with the local FBI field office.

Meeting with the FBI before a compromise helps companies understand the potential threats specific to that company. It also provides an understanding of how the FBI protects the confidentiality of victims as we partner with them to determine the severity of a compromise, provide information to help prevent re-infection, and to identify hackers. As the only U.S. government agency with both law enforcement and intelligence capabilities, the FBI is an indispensable partner that provides around-the-clock support to victims. Partnering with the FBI connects businesses with our network of domestic and foreign counterparts and private sector partners.

FBI cyber experts not only help respond to cyberattacks but also work to help prevent them. They can share information with companies about current cyber threats, network vulnerabilities, and recommended mitigations, and discuss crucial elements of an effective incident response plan.

When a victim reports a compromise, FBI agents help the organization’s network defenders pinpoint malicious cyber activity, share intelligence to help leaders make decisions during a crisis, and help prevent more damage. Our experts work with victims to arrest and prosecute cybercriminals as well as target the infrastructure the criminals used to conduct their attacks, to prevent them from continuing to inflict damage. The
FBI also has specialty teams whose aim is to freeze and seize the money cybercriminals steal from their victims.

Companies and organizations in the Philadelphia metro area and throughout the eastern half of Pennsylvania, as well as those in Camden, Gloucester, and Salem counties in New Jersey, can call 215-418-4000 to connect with FBI Philadelphia cyber squads or to report compromises.

Preventive Steps

  • In addition to partnering with your local FBI office, companies should also take the following preventive steps:
  • Update and patch operating systems and software.
  • Implement robust access controls, especially for privileged users.
  • Monitor security logs.
  • Audit trusted third parties or others with access to systems and sensitive data.
  • Require personnel to choose a strong, unique password for each account and use multifactor authentication for as many services as possible. Passwords should be changed regularly.
  • Educate personnel about phishing schemes to highlight the risks of clicking on suspicious links, opening suspicious attachments, and visiting suspicious websites.
  • Keep offline backups of data, and regularly test backup and restoration capabilities. Ensure all backup data is encrypted and immutable.
  • Develop a cybersecurity incident response plan that includes the FBI. If compromised, contact the FBI immediately.
  • Be aware of signs of cyber compromises, such as broken passwords, myriad pop ups, slow-running devices, altered system settings, or unexplained online activity.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Statement By Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco On The Sentencing of El Shafee Elsheikh, Known As One Of The ISIS 'Beatles'

The Justice Department released a statement from Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monoco regarding the sentencing of ISIS member El Shafer Elshheikh, known as one of the ISIS ‘Beatles’ due to his British accent. 

The men and women of the Department of Justice and our criminal justice system delivered justice. Today, we remember the four Americans for whom it was delivered: James Foley, Kayla Mueller, Steven Sotloff, and Peter Kassig. Each was in Syria serving others when they were taken hostage and murdered by ISIS—James and Steven were there to report on the brutality of ISIS and Kayla and Peter to help those suffering under its rule. They were targeted and ultimately murdered because they stood for the very principle ISIS feared the most: freedom.

The sentence imposed today brings to a close a long investigation of a barbaric enemy, but it does not erase the heartbreak of the Foley, Mueller, Sotloff, and Kassig families. For years, I have personally witnessed and been inspired by their strength and resolve to seek accountability for the horrors their loved ones were forced to suffer and to improve and shape the policy of their government so that other families might not endure the same pain. Their relentless pursuit of justice, in the face of unimaginable pain, has inspired the men and women of the Department of Justice—namely the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, and the National Security Division—to investigate and prosecute this case with the same determination.

Today is a reminder of the Justice Department’s unshakeable commitment to combatting terrorism around the world. It should also serve as a warning to those who dare to threaten Americans that, no matter where you hide or how long it takes, we will find you, and we will bring you to justice.

You can read my Threatcon column on the ISIS ‘Beatles’ via the below link:  

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

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Three Indicted In Prison Homicide Of Mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of West Virginia released the below information:  

CLARKSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – Three men have been indicted in connection with the beating death of James “Whitey” Bulger (seen in the above mugshot).

Fotios Geas, also known as “Freddy,” age 55, Paul J. DeCologero, also known as “Pauly,” 48, and Sean McKinnon, 36, were charged on Wednesday with conspiracy to commit first degree murder.

Geas and DeCologero are accused of striking Bulger in the head multiple times and causing his death in October of 2018 while all were incarcerated at United States Penitentiary Hazleton in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia. In addition to the conspiracy charge, Geas and DeCologero have been charged with aiding and abetting first degree murder, along with assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

Geas faces a separate charge for murder by a federal inmate serving a life sentence.

McKinnon faces a separate charge of making false statements to a federal agent.

Geas is still incarcerated at USP Hazelton. DeCologero is no longer being held at USP Hazelton but remains housed in the federal prison system. McKinnon was on federal supervised release at the time of the indictment and was arrested today in Florida.

Bulger was 89 years old when he died.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brandon S. Flower and Randolph J. Bernard are prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The FBI and the Bureau of Prisons Special Investigative Services investigated.

An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

You can read my Crime Beat column that features my Q&A with Dick Lehr, the co-author of Whitey: The Life of America's Most Notorious Mob Bossvia the below link:

 Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Beat Column: My Q&A With Dick Lehr, Co-Author of 'Whitey: The Life Of America's Most Notorious Mob Boss' 

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Former Senior U.S. Navy Employee Convicted For Bribery Conspiracy And Lying To Investigators

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

A federal jury in the District of Columbia convicted the former Director of Operations of the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command Office in Busan, South Korea, today for his role in a bribery conspiracy and for lying to federal investigators.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Fernando Xavier Monroy, 64, of Brentwood, New York, engaged in a conspiracy to commit bribery with the owner of DK Marine, a South Korea-based company that provided services to the U.S. Navy, and a former civilian U.S. Navy cargo ship captain. Evidence at trial proved that Monroy conspired to unlawfully provide services for the Navy ship, captained by one of Monroy’s co-conspirators, during a December 2013 port visit in Chinhae, South Korea.

Evidence at trial also proved that Monroy provided a co-conspirator with confidential and other proprietary, internal U.S. Navy information. In exchange for the steering of business and the provision of such information, the co-conspirator paid bribes to Monroy, including cash, personal travel expenses, meals and alcoholic beverages, and the services of prostitutes. Monroy also repeatedly lied to special agents of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) during a voluntary interview in July 2019.

Monroy was convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery, bribery, and making false statements. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 18 and faces a maximum penalty of 35 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division made the announcement.

The DCIS and NCIS investigated the case.

Trial Attorneys Sara Hallmark and Amanda Lingwood of the Justice Department’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.


Friday, August 19, 2022

The Stealth Swimmers Whose WWII Scouting Laid The Groundwork For the Navy SEALs: The Underwater Demolition Teams Cleared Coastal Defenses And Surveyed Enemy Beaches Ahead Of Allied Landings

Smithsonianmag.com offers an excerpt from Andrew Dubbins’ Into Enemy Waters: A World War II Story of the Demolition Divers Who Became the Navy SEALs.

In the 1940s, most of the Pacific Ocean’s enormous underwater realm remained uncharted. Instruments and equipment were too rudimentary, the ocean too vast and much of the sea bottom too difficult to reach. Nautical charts showed the location of Pacific islands and atolls but offered little detail about the depths or underwater features of their beach approaches. Advances in sonar allowed United States ships to measure the ocean floor in deep water but not in the shallows surrounding land masses.

With no charts or technology available to guide vessels onto enemy shores, the job fell to the roughly 1,000 young swim scouts of the U.S. Navy’s Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT), who were assigned to reconnoiter enemy beaches and clear coastal defenses ahead of Allied landings during World War II. These so-called frogmen swam into beaches unarmed, wearing only swim trunks, dive masks and fins. 

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

WWII's Underwater Demolition Teams Paved the Way for the Navy SEALs | History| Smithsonian Magazine

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on the UDT and Navy SEALs, which featured my later father, former UDT 5 Chief Edward M. Davis (seen in the center of the above Photo), via the below link:  

Paul Davis On Crime: A Look Back At The World War II U.S. Navy Frogmen: My Piece On The Underwater Demolition Teams, Forerunners of Today's Navy SEALs 

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Nine Members And Associates Of Genovese And Bonanno Organized Crime Families Charged With Racketeering And Illegal Gambling Offenses

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

In federal court in Brooklyn, two indictments were unsealed charging nine defendants with racketeering, illegal gambling, money laundering conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and related offenses.  As alleged, charged with racketeering are: Anthony Pipitone, a captain and soldier in the Bonanno organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra; Vito Pipitone, Bonanno soldier; Agostino Gabriele, Bonanno associate; Carmelo Polito, acting captain in the Genovese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra; Joseph Macario, Genovese soldier; and Genovese associates Salvatore Rubino and Joseph Rutigliano. 

Eight defendants were arrested this morning.  Seven are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge James R. Cho.  Vito Pipitone was arrested in Wellington, Florida and will make his initial appearance this afternoon in federal court in Miami.  Joseph Rutigliano remains at large.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Anne T. Donnelly, District Attorney, Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, announced the charges.

“Today’s arrests of members from two La Cosa Nostra crime families demonstrate that the Mafia continues to pollute our communities with illegal gambling, extortion, and violence while using our financial system in service to their criminal schemes,” stated United States Attorney Peace.   “The defendants tried to hide their criminal activity by operating from behind the cover of a coffee bar, a soccer club, and a shoe repair shop, but our Office and our law enforcement partners exposed their illegal operations.  Even more disturbing is the shameful conduct of a detective who betrayed his oath of office and the honest men and women of the Nassau County Police Department when he allegedly aligned himself with criminals.”

Mr. Peace thanked the New York City Police Department, the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, and the United States Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General for their assistance in the investigation.

“Current members of the five families demonstrate every day they are not adverse to working together to further their illicit schemes, using the same tired methods to squeeze money from their victims. Enlisting alleged assistance from a member of law enforcement also proves they are willing to do all they can to hide their illegal behavior. Our active investigations show the mafia refuses to learn from history, and accept that at some point they will face justice for their crimes,” stated Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.

“This case is further proof that organized crime is alive and well in our communities,” stated District Attorney Donnelly.  “These violent criminal organizations operated secret underground gambling parlors in local commercial establishments, generating substantial amounts of money in back rooms while families unknowingly shopped and ate mere feet away. These Mafia figures were assisted by a sworn member of law enforcement, who helped these gambling dens to thrive by offering police raids on competing clubs.  The Mafia has brought untold violence and extortion into our neighborhoods for decades, even threatening the life of an individual as part of this case. This indictment sends a strong message that we are committed to rooting out corruption and organized crime. We thank the EDNY, the FBI and the Nassau County Police Department DA Squad for their partnership in helping to keep our communities safe.”

As detailed in the indictments and court filings, members of the Genovese and Bonanno organized crime families operated several illegal gambling operations in the Eastern District of New York.  Beginning in at least May 2012, the Genovese and Bonanno families jointly operated a lucrative illegal gambling operation in Lynbrook, New York called the Gran Caffe.  The profits earned through this and other gambling locations generated substantial revenue, which was then laundered through cash transfers to the defendants and through “kicking up” to the crime families’ leaders.  Rutigliano and Rubino collected the proceeds for the Genovese crime family and distributed them up to higher- ranking members, including Polito and Macario.  At times, Gabriele collected the proceeds for the Bonanno crime family and distributed them up to higher-ranking members of that family, including Anthony Pipitone and Vito Pipitone. 

In addition to the Gran Caffe, the Genovese crime family—through Polito, Macario, Rutigliano, Rubino and others—operated illegal gambling parlors at establishments called Sal’s Shoe Repair and the Centro Calcio Italiano Club.  The Bonanno crime family—through Anthony Pipitone, Vito Pipitone, Gabriele and others—operated illegal gambling parlors at establishments called the Soccer Club, La Nazionale Soccer Club and Glendale Sports Club. 

Carmelo Polito, an alleged acting captain in the Genovese crime family, is also charged with operating an illegal online gambling scheme in which bets were placed on sporting events through a website called “PGWLines.”  In connection with his operation of PGWLines, Polito is charged with attempting to extort an individual who lost several thousand dollars in bets he placed through the website.  For example, in an October 2019 call concerning a delinquent debtor whose “face” Polito had previously threatened to “break,” Polito instructed another individual to relay a new message to the debtor: “Tell him I’m going to put him under the f------g bridge.”

As also detailed in the indictments and other court filings, Hector Rosario, a detective with the Nassau County Police Department, accepted money from the Bonanno crime family in exchange for offering to arrange police raids of competing gambling locations.  Rosario is charged with obstructing a grand jury investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and lying to the FBI. 

The illegal gambling locations include:

  • La Nazionale Soccer Club, 80-13 Myrtle Avenue, Queens
  • Glendale Sports Club, 74-03 Myrtle Avenue, Queens
  • Gran Caffe, 31 Hempstead Avenue, Lynbrook
  • Soccer Club, 129 Rockaway Avenue, Valley Stream
  • Sal’s Shoe Repair, 41 Merrick Avenue, Merrick
  • Centro Calcio Italiano Club, 1007 Little East Neck Road, West Babylon

The charges in the indictments are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Tanya Hajjar, Drew Rolle, Anna Karamigios and Special Assistant United States Attorney Abigail Margulies are in charge of the prosecution. 

The Defendants:

JOSEPH MACARIO (also known as “Joe Fish”)
Age:  68
West Islip, New York

CARMELO POLITO (also known as “Carmine Polito”)
Age:  63
Whitestone, New York

SALVATORE RUBINO (also known as “Sal the Shoemaker”)
Age:  58
Bethpage, New York

JOSEPH RUTIGLIANO (also known as “Joe Box”)
Age:  63
Commack, New York

Age:  59
Oceanside, New York

Age:  35
Glendale, New York

ANTHONY PIPITONE (also known as “Little Anthony”)
Age:  49
Deer Park, New York

Age:  40
Wellington, Florida

Age:  49
Mineola, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket Nos. 22-CR-355 (ENV); 22-CR-356 (ENV) 

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

FBI Announces Results Of Nationwide Sex Trafficking Operation: Operation Cross Country XII Leads To Identification, Location Of Adolescent Victims

 The FBI released the below information:

The FBI, working with its state and local partners during two weeks in August, identified and located 84 minor victims of child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation offenses and located 37 actively missing children during a nationwide enforcement campaign, dubbed “Operation Cross Country.” The FBI-led nationwide initiative focused on identifying and locating victims of sex trafficking and investigating and arresting individuals and criminal enterprises involved in both child sex trafficking and human trafficking.  
In addition to the identification and location of adolescent victims, the FBI and its partners located 141 adult victims of human trafficking. Agents and investigators also identified or arrested 85 suspects with child sexual exploitation and human trafficking offenses. Those suspects identified will be subject to additional investigation for potential charges. The average age of victims located during this year’s Operation Cross Country was 15.5, while the youngest victim discovered was 11 years old. 

“The Justice Department is committed to doing everything in our power to combat the insidious crimes of human trafficking that devastate survivors and their families,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “I am grateful to the dedicated professionals of the FBI and our law enforcement partners across the country for their tireless work to rescue trafficking survivors, including exploited children, to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of trafficking crimes, and to provide the services and support that survivors need and deserve.” 
"Human trafficking is among the most heinous crimes the FBI encounters,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Unfortunately, such crimes—against both adults and children—are far more common than most people realize. As we did in this operation, the FBI and our partners will continue to find and arrest traffickers, identify and help victims, and raise awareness of the exploitation of our most vulnerable populations.” 
As part of Operation Cross Country XII, FBI special agents, intelligence analysts, victim specialists, and child adolescent forensic Interviewers working in conjunction with over 200 state, local, and federal partners and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) conducted 391 operations over the two-week period.  
“The success of Operation Cross County reinforces what NCMEC sees every day. Children are being bought and sold for sex in communities across the country by traffickers, gangs, and even family members,” said Michelle DeLaune, President and CEO National Center for Missing & Exploited Children “We’re proud to support the FBI’s efforts to prioritize the safety of children. This national operation highlights the need for all child serving professionals to continue to focus on the wellbeing of children and youth to prevent them from being targeted in the first place.”

Victim specialists provide a “bridge” for victims who are wary of the system, help the victim establish positive relationships with law enforcement, and ensure the human trafficking victim population receives any appropriate resources available to them. Victim specialists also provide services based on the individual needs of human trafficking victims, to include crisis intervention, emergency food and clothing, transportation to receive emergency services, and locating shelter or housing. The task forces in the recent operation included federal, state, local and tribal partners, with efforts in every state and even a few U.S. territories. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Get Saul: AMC Crime Drama 'Better Call Saul' Comes To An End

My wife and I watched and enjoyed the final episode of Better Call Saul on AMC last night. 

I thought the finale was clever and interesting and an appropriate end for the wonderfully slimy crooked lawyer James “Slipping Jimmy” McGill, aka, Saul Goodman. 

Saul Goodman was a great character, portrayed so well by actor and comedian Bob Odenkirk. He was sleazy, smart and thoroughly bent. 

Goodman was a breakout character from the many unforgettable characters created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould in their fine crime series Breaking Bad. 

Better Call Saul looks back at how Jimmy McGill became so bent and transformed into Saul Goodman. 

Better Call Saul, their follow up series, revisited many of the great characters from Breaking Bad, such as former crooked Philly cop and enforcer Mike Ehrmantraut, portrayed by Jonathan Banks, and the brilliant and peculiar drug lord Gus Fring, portrayed by Giancarlo Esposito. 

The final episodes of Better Call Saul also brought back Breaking Bad's high school chemistry teacher turned meth dealer Walter White, portrayed by Bryan Cranston, and his partner Jesse Pinkman, portrayed by Aaron Paul. 

One particularly standout character in Better Call Saul was Goodman’s partner in crime and love, Kim Wexler, portrayed so well by Rhea Seehorn. 

Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad are two fine crime dramas infused with abundant humor. 

If you have not watched the two series, I suggest you begin at the beginning of Breaking Bad and enjoy the many hours of the best television can offer.  

Monday, August 15, 2022

Deadline: As His First Novel ‘Heat 2’ Hits Shelves, Michael Mann Shares Great Crime Stories

I’m reading Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner’s Heat 2, which is both a prequel and sequel to Mann’s crime film Heat. I plan to cover the novel in my On Crime column in the Washington Times.

Mike Fleming at Deadline.com offers an interesting piece and interview with Mann (seen in the above photo).

The publication of Heat 2 this week marks writer-director Michael Mann’s debut as a novelist, expands the mythology of perhaps his most beloved film, and becomes the first major release of the publishing imprint he set at William Morrow six years ago.

From the TV series Miami Vice and Crime Story to his feature debut Thief, to the Tom Cruise-Jamie Foxx thriller Collateral and the 1995 Al Pacino-Robert De Niro drama classic Heat, Mann’s crime procedurals are informed by an intimate knowledge of cops and robbers that breathes life and multi-dimensional characters with empathy to go with the violence in lawbreaking.

That is the same thing that Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo did with The Godfather films, David Chase for his The Sopranos series, and Martin Scorsese for Goodfellas and Casino, the other crime high-water marks of the last half century. What is interesting here is the difference in how Mann got there as opposed to those other filmmakers. Coppola and Chase have both told me that while the prospect had its attractions, they avoided getting to know or even directly interact with criminals. Scorsese relied on journalist-screenwriter Nick Pileggi, who once told me that Goodfellas was made possible by his good fortune to be included in Henry Hill confessions given with federal law enforcement officers standing over him, promising prison if he lied.

Mann’s crime canon has instead relied on direct interaction that began when he first met Charles Adamson, the Chicago cop who in 1963 hunted down and killed the real Neil McCauley, after once inviting him out for coffee. Coppola and Chase told me flat out they didn’t want to be indebted to criminals. Mann’s way brought its own challenges, and he quickly learned how to be mindful of the manipulative nature of current and former lawbreakers when he made his first film, the Emmy-winning telepic The Jericho Mile, which shot in Folsom Prison.

“There is a truth I can get by asking direct questions, but I’m not naïve,” he said. “At this point, I’m fairly street smart and world wise and I’m not naïve to the fact nobody could manipulate you faster than the guy doing a couple life sentences in Folsom. These guys could read you in, like, two minutes flat.”

They will lie when it suits them, he said, even someone in the inner circle like the late John Santucci. He is the round-faced guy who played a dirty cop in Thief, and later co-starred in Crime Story.

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

‘Heat 2’ Hits Shelves: Michael Mann Shares Great Crime Tales – Deadline

Saturday, August 13, 2022

A Little Humor: 'The FBI Raid On Melania's Closet Was Justified,' Says Merrick Garland Wearing Gorgeous New Evening Gown And Sun Hat

The Babylon Bee offers a clever and funny satirical piece on the Trump raid.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — With many Americans up in arms over the unprecedented raid of former President Trump's residence in Mar-a-Lago by the FBI, Attorney General Garland released a statement to assure everyone the raid was completely justified. Eyewitnesses noted he looked unusually fetching in an elegant Dolce & Gabbana evening gown and a Dior sun hat.

"We wouldn't raid Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate or Melania's wardrobe unless it was absolutely, 100% necessary," said Garland. "I resent any accusation that this raid was influenced by partisan politics or my insatiable desire to wear pretty designer dresses." The Attorney General then did a little spin in his purple gown as the press gasped with delight.

FBI Director Christopher Wray echoed the statement as he strode up to the Hoover Building in a dazzling pair of diamond-encrusted Alexander McQueen stilettos. "The men and women of the FBI are paragons of unassailable integrity and impartiality, and any suggestion otherwise is murderous treason," he said. Several news outlets present also noted the delicious smell of Chanel No.5 in the air.

At publishing time, Trump took to Truth Social to announce that all his golf clubs were also missing.

You can read more Babylon Bee humor pieces via the below link:

Babylon Bee | Latest News 

Friday, August 12, 2022

Speaking With Best-Selling Thriller Writer Brad Thor

I interviewed best-selling thriller writer Brad Thor yesterday.

Brad Thor, the author of a series of thrillers featuring his character former Navy SEAL Scot Harvath, has written a new thriller called Rising Tiger.

Rising Tiger is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller that takes place in modern-day India. 

Brad Thor explained to me how he infuses true events into his novels, which he calls "faction," a blend of facts and fiction.

He said that he put the "action in the faction" in Rising Tiger.

I plan to cover Rising Tiger in my On Crime column in the Washington Times, and my Q&A with Brad Thor will appear in an upcoming issue of Counterterrorism magazine.

I'll post both when they come out. 

 You can visit Brad Thor's website via the below link:

Brad Thor | #1 New York Times Bestselling Author