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Tuesday, 31 May 2011

one tonne of cocaine and 160 kg of hashish have been seized in an international police operation led by the Spanish Civil Guard and coordinated by Europol.

one tonne of cocaine and 160 kg of hashish have been seized in an international police operation led by the Spanish Civil Guard and coordinated by Europol. The huge consignment of cocaine was diluted in 13 tonnes of palm oil that had been shipped from Colombia, via Antwerp in Belgium, before being finally seized in Albania.

In total, 22 members of an international criminal drugs network, some of them key "head" figures, have been arrested under this operation.

To enable the successful outcome of Operation Salonica, the Spanish authorities together with Europol worked with law enforcement authorities in seven countries: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia. The operation has resulted in the dismantling of a criminal organisation made up of Spanish, Moroccan and Albanian citizens who were importing and distributing large consignments of Colombian cocaine and Moroccan hashish in Europe.

The investigation started in October 2010 when the Judicial Police Task Force of the Spanish Civil Guard of Tarragona learned of a criminal group dealing drugs on an international level. As a result of investigations, it was confirmed that the organisation had a hierarchical structure with the head leading, directing and coordinating several branches dealing in various narcotics. One of the branches was in charge of cultivating cannabis, another one dealt with the supply of hashish from different sources. Furthermore, the network worked with a drugs cartel to obtain cocaine on a large scale and had an infrastructure in several European countries for distributing the drugs.

At the beginning of the investigation in October 2010, 1 kg of cocaine and 29 kg of cannabis were seized, and the branch specialised in cultivating and distributing cannabis was identified and dismantled. Several cannabis greenhouses were also dismantled and six members of the organisation were arrested.

The organisation was subsequently found to be importing large amounts of Colombian cocaine into Europe, mainly via the Belgian port of Antwerp, by concealing the drugs in shipping containers.

During one of several meetings of the network members in Spain, which were being monitored by the Civil Guard, the leaders of the Spanish and Colombian organisations were witnessed completing the transport of cocaine concealed in a container allegedly loaded with palm oil. The container would be travelling from Colombia to Antwerp in Belgium, where the final details of the transaction would be arranged.

The Civil Guard of Tarragona, coordinated by Europol, supervised a comprehensive international monitoring operation to follow the truck through Europe and finally to Albania, where the drugs were intercepted. The criminal group in Albania, in charge of oil processing to extract the diluted cocaine, has also been dismantled.

Among the criminal activities carried out by the members of this organised crime group was the sending of consignments of hashish from Spain to Italy and the Netherlands by means of commercial road transport. Consignments were concealed in the cabs of trucks, establishing a consistent flow which supplied 2-3 bales at a time.

In March 2011, police arrested two professional truck drivers, who were members of the network, as well as seizing 67 and 99.5 kg of hashish. The result of these operations was the dismantling of another branch of the organisation, who provided the required logistics to move the consignments of hashish.

As well as providing key operational analysis, Europol played a significant role in coordinating the operation and facilitating the controlled delivery.

"This successful cooperation between the Spanish authorities and Europol has delivered a great blow to a major international criminal syndicate," said Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol. "The sophisticated methods of concealment and transportation used by these criminal networks, and the global nature of their activities, underlines the importance of effective police cooperation through Europol's unique capabilities."

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Security forces in Colombia have seized a large shipment of cocaine bound for Mexico in the port city of Cartagena,

Security forces in Colombia have seized a large shipment of cocaine bound for Mexico in the port city of Cartagena, authorities said on Monday.

The Colombian Navy said the shipment of about 12 tons of cocaine was found hidden in containers loaded with a type of brown sugar known as panela and was discovered with the help of sniffer dogs.

No suspects were detained in connection with the seizure of the narcotics shipment, which incidentally is the largest of its kind in Colombia in recent years.

The Navy said the shipment, which originated in the Valle del Cauca region in south-west Colombia, was destined for the Mexican state of Veracruz on the Gulf coast.

Valle del Cauca region is considered to be stronghold of one of the country's most powerful drug gangs, the Rastrojos. The seized shipment is believed to belong to the Rastrojos gang.

The main drug gangs operating in the region are mostly made up of members of former right-wing paramilitaries. They are now said to have taken over control of the drug trade from the once powerful drug cartels and Leftist rebel groups.

Monday's seizure comes just weeks after the Colombian authorities identified criminal gangs that are increasingly taking control of drug trade as the country's biggest security threat, and pledged more resources to capture gang members.

recently retired Mexican army general who oversaw a controversial military operation against drug-trafficking was shot dead in a Mexico City suburb

recently retired Mexican army general who oversaw a controversial military operation against drug-trafficking was shot dead in a Mexico City suburb over the weekend, the military said in a statement (link in Spanish).

A tough-talking career soldier, retired Gen. Jorge Juarez Loera was in civilian clothes and in a compact civilian vehicle Saturday when he pulled over after being struck from behind in the Ciudad Satelite area of northwest Mexico City, witnesses told reporters. After exiting his vehicle and confronting the other driver, Juarez Loera was shot and killed, reports said.

Federal investigators have taken over the case from local authorities, reports said Tuesday. One possibility being investigated is "premeditated execution," said El Universal (link in Spanish). The general was considered an expert in drug-trafficking issues and had access to sensitive intelligence, raising the possibility he was targeted in the shooting, sources told the daily Reforma. 

Juarez Loera rose to third in command in the Mexican military, and left his most recent post upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 65 earlier this month.

Near the end of his 48 years of service in the Mexican armed forces, Juarez Loera oversaw Joint Operation Chihuahua (previously known as Joint Operation Juarez), the military-led campaign against drug gangs in the Mexican border state where violence-ravaged Ciudad Juarez is located. Homicide and human rights abuse claims against the Mexican military skyrocketed in Ciudad Juarez after President Felipe Calderon dispatched the army to combat the cartels in the region in late 2006.

Juarez Loera sometimes courted controversy in public remarks (link in Spanish). He once rebuffed critics of rising death tolls tied to the government's military-led campaign by saying that homicide victims should not be described as "one more citizen dead" but rather "one more delinquent dead."

Responding to complaints of heavy-handedness in the Chihuahua operation, Juarez Loera once boasted, "Mi orden de cateo es el marro," or "My warrant is the sledgehammer."

Anquan Clark, an alleged member of a crack-cocaine ring, arrested by ICE agents in Irvington

Federal agents rousted 14 gang members from their homes early Tuesday morning along with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents; New Jersey State Police; Irvington Police Department and Homeland Security Investigators after federal charges were unsealed accusing the individuals of distributing crack throughout the Irvington area, said U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.

Two suspects named in the federal complaint remain at large, Bradney "Ice" Manasse, 28, of West Orange and Timothy Piercin, 32, of East Orange. Another man, Chenete Philemon, arrested April 9, is also named in the complaint. He remains in State custody pending a transfer to face the federal charge.

Prosecutors say from February 2010 through April 2011, confidential law enforcement sources made numerous purchases of crack cocaine from the defendants and police witnessed many.

Agents intercepted phone calls made by Mark Manasse to other defendants where details of drug transactions were discussed. These calls, said Fishman, demonstrated the narcotics consortium's efforts to manufacture and distribute crack cocaine, including dialogue about patron satisfaction, the tempo of sales, and the quality of the drugs. The callers even had code words to describe the narcotics such as “buzz,” and “white candy."

In addition to the drug offenses, Mark Manasse allegedly ordered the executions of two people in an effort to maintain control of the drug trafficking organization. Police overheard discussions about the attempted murders during telephone conversations during January and April 2011. The officers were able to impede the murders after identifying the intended targets.

Fishman stated the investigation, which led to Tuesday’s mass arrests, are indicative of local law enforcement agencies resolve to eradicate drug dealers and the turbulence they bring to neighborhoods across the state.

Peter T. Edge, Special Agent in Charge of ICE HSI in New Jersey added that residents should not have to live in fear within their communities because of the violence associated with gangs and people who sell and possess illicit drugs.

“By combining our resources, intelligence and investigative expertise, we have taken yet another proactive step towards shutting down the destructive drug pipeline in New Jersey," said Edge.

Those arrested in the takedown are: Mark "M-Easy" Manasse, 26, of West Orange, N.J.; Akmad "Pop" Anderson,25, Ligunes "LB" Bonnet, 23, Anquan "GS" Clark, 19, Jovany "Rims" Clermont, 24, Donald Duterval, 22, David "Grim" Glass, 21, and Israel "Little Easy" Petiote, 22, all of

Irvington; Tafary "Birdie" Clervil, 25, of East Orange; Levelston Georges, 21, and Philemon "Butter" Pierre-Saint, 26, of Newark; and Chenete "Jumanji" Philemon, 21, of Orange.

All are charged with one count each of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine, which carries a statutory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison, in addition to a $10 million fine. The defendants are scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Dickson this afternoon in Newark federal court.


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Gary Carroll was sentenced to three years in prison after being convicted of dealing heroin in March.

When police raided his home they found thousands of pounds in cash and five bank bags full of drugs.

Dundee Sheriff Court ruled that Carroll's income and assets in the six years prior to his conviction were the proceeds of crime.

The sheriff said he had a "criminal lifestyle" and ordered him to pay £37,310.

Following the hearing, Lesley Thomson, from the Crown Office said: "The actions of drug dealers like Gary Carroll bring untold misery to families across Scotland."

"We will continue to use the powers available to us under the proceeds of crime legislation and to work closely with law enforcement."

Monday, 16 May 2011

Three men have been jailed for a total of over 62 years for their part in smuggling £9 million worth of cocaine and eight million cigarettes into the country.

Mark Howie, 46, of Poole, Dorset, and Andrew Kinnaird, 47, of High Brooms Road, Tunbridge Wells, were each sentenced to 22 years.

They denied smuggling the drugs but were convicted.

Derek Tunstead, 41, of Eltham, who admitted both charges, was sentenced to 18-and-a-half years.

Howie and Kinnaird also denied conspiracy to cheat the revenue by evading duty on the cigarettes but were convicted, along with Lee Garton, 54, of Fair Lawn, Chestfield, Whitstable.

Garton, who did not give evidence during the eight-week trial, was jailed for four-and-a-half years.

He had previously served a 14-year sentence for armed robbery.

Gary Pucknell, 29, of Grays, Essex, was acquitted of the drug smuggling charge.

The jury could not reach a verdict on David Kelly, 66, of Lostock Gralam, Cheshire, on the drug smuggling charge and there will be a retrial on October 31.

Maidstone Crown Court heard the cocaine was smuggled into the country in a consignment of bananas bound for a supermarket.

Nearly 37 kilos of the drug was discovered in two large bags on top of containers after arriving from Ecuador at Tilbury docks in Essex.

Also smuggled into the UK on another occasion were over eight million cigarettes. The duty evaded was more than £1.2 million.

Shane Collery, prosecuting, said Howie was a successful property developer whose went bankrupt and turned to crime.

Kinnaird and Tunstead were employed in haulage but were sacked because of his involvement in theft. Pucknell worked in freight.

The cocaine smuggled was a valuable consignment, ranging from 62 per cent to 78 per cent in purity before being “cut” for distribution on the street.

It was discovered with the bananas in Luton, Bedfordshire, having been smuggled from Ecuador.

The millions of cigarettes were smuggled in June 2009 and it was intended to bring in “an awful lot more”, said Mr Collery.

They arrived in the country in containers from the United Arab Emirates.

The documentation stated the load contained children’s clothing.

Judge Jeremy Gold QC told Howie, Kinnaird and Tunstead: “All three of your are professional criminals who decided to involve yourselves in sophisticated crime for potentially huge profits.

“Your only concern was making money with no thought of the consequences to others.

“The proliferation of Class A drugs leads to misery on a scale which is not often appreciated. It increases crime, ruins people’s lives and threatens the fabric of our society.”

The judge said Howie had been a successful property developer who turned to crime “with enthusiasm” when his business failed.

He had access to substantial sums of money to finance the criminal enterprise.

All three made a deliberate and calculated decision to turn to a life of crime.

“You have to clearly understand the stakes are high and the penalties are very significant,” he said. “There has to be an element of deterrence in the sentences.”

Garton, he said, had declined to engage in the court process, failing to give evidence or an explanation in interviews.

Garton’s brother John Garton was earlier jailed for 14 days for hurling vile abuse at jurors outside the courtroom.

John Greenan, defending, said the 51-year-old painter and decorator, who admitted contempt of court, had been “wound up” by the jury’s guilty verdict returned on Thursday on his brother.

Mr Greenan said Garton, of Gipsey Road, Welling, had been surprised to see jurors return the next day for the sentencing hearing.

He had accused them of “coming to gloat” and swore at a woman juror in a nearby car park.

Judge Jeremy Gold QC told Garton: “You must understand jurors have a difficult job to do.

"They come along and give up their time and sit in judgement of people.

“It is difficult and stressful and the last thing they want is to be abused by a member of a family. It is a serious contempt of court. Abusing jurors on three occasions is simply not excusable.

“I will take a lenient view and impose 14 days imprisonment.”

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