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Monday, 27 August 2012

Bikie gang suspects in brawl arrests at Penrith shopping centre

FOUR men with alleged links to outlaw motorcycle gangs were arrested last week after a brawl at a Penrith shopping centre. Police officers from the gangs squad and Penrith local area command had been investigating the brawl, which forced shoppers to flee for their safety about 2.45pm last Monday. Police will allege a man was leaving the shopping centre when he was confronted by a group of nine men and fighting began. A number of people tried to intervene, including an unknown male who was assaulted. All involved in the brawl then left the scene. At 7am last Thursday, police simultaneously raided four homes at St Marys, Emu Plains, South Windsor and Freemans Reach. Three men with alleged links to the Rebels were arrested at St Marys and Emu Plains, while an alleged senior Nomads member was arrested at Freemans Reach. During the search warrants, police seized distinctive gang clothing, quantities of anabolic steroids and prescription drugs and a set of knuckledusters. A man, 29, of Emu Plains, was charged with affray, participate in a criminal group and two counts of possess prescribed restricted substance. A man, 44, of Freemans Reach, was charged with affray, possess prohibited weapon, and two counts of possess prescribed restricted substance. A man, 25, of St Marys, and a 23-year-old New Zealand man were each charged with affray and participate in a criminal group. Penrith crime manager Detective Inspector Grant Healey said further arrests were anticipated.

27 charged in California-Mexico methamphetamine ring

 Local and federal authorities moved Thursday to break up an alleged drug trafficking ring connecting a major Mexican cartel and San Gabriel Valley street gangs, arresting 17 people in a pre-dawn sweep. A federal indictment unsealed Thursday charges 27 defendants with making, possessing and dealing methamphetamine imported by La Familia Michoacana, one of Mexico’s most violent cartels, to two Pomona gangs: Los Amables and Westside Pomona Malditos. Seven law enforcement agencies, including the Pasadena and Pomona police, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, were involved in the sweep. Thursday’s crackdown is the culmination of a probe called Operation Crystal Light, a 16-month investigation by the San Gabriel Valley Safe Streets Gang Task Force. The investigation was launched after a 2011 kidnapping among suspected gang members in Southern California. Officers said they seized nine weapons, an undisclosed amount of methamphetamine, other drugs, and paraphernalia in Thursday morning raids in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The probe involved about 200 law enforcement officers and several undercover purchases. “The goal of the federal task force is to disrupt the network so it’s disrupted permanently,” Timothy Delaney, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Criminal Division in Los Angeles, said. “Today’s arrests took some very serious players in the methamphetamine world off the streets.” The methamphetamine came into the country in liquid form via airplane, boats and cars, officials said. The drug was recrystallized at an Ontario home before local gangs would sell it and funnel money to the Mexican cartel. Most of the drugs were being sold in Pomona and Ontario, according to Assistant U.S. Atty. Shawn Nelson. Dealers were selling multiple pounds a day and making up to $9,000 per pound, Nelson said. He described the arrests as “a good dent” in the Mexican cartel’s local drug network. Three suspects were in custody before the raid and seven remain at large, federal authorities said. The indictment alleges that a La Familia Michoacana associate named Jose Juan Garcia Barron oversaw the transport of the meth between Mexico and Los Angeles County. Delaney said Garcia Barron is among the suspects who have not been apprehended. The 17 arrested Thursday were expected to make their first court appearance Thursday afternoon at U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

Police think Ogden drive-bys are tied to gang's power struggle

Police believe drive-by shootings at an Ogden home Tuesday night and Wednesday morning may be related to a violent power struggle within a street gang over control of leadership, drugs and money. Ogden Police Lt. Scott Conley declined to identify the gang, but said members are not affiliated with the Ogden Trece. On Monday, 2nd District Judge Ernie Jones issued a permanent injunction against Trece members, banning them from associating with each other in public and being in the presence of guns, drugs and alcohol. The injunction also places Treces under an 11 p.m. curfew. The drive-by shootings at a home in the 500 block of 28th Street are signs of in-fighting among members of a local gang who are attempting to resolve their differences through escalating violence, Conley said. “They are in the same gang and are arguing back and forth,” he said, noting police have gathered intelligence on the dispute. “We are taking enforcement action to eradicate the problem or get the individuals involved incarcerated.” Six to eight gang members are believed to be involved in the dispute.

Saturday, 25 August 2012


During experiments on the axons of the Woods Hole squid (loligo pealei), we tested our cockroach leg stimulus protocol on the squid's chromatophores.


 The results were both interesting and beautiful. The video is a view through an 8x microscope zoomed in on the dorsal side of the caudal fin of the squid. We used a suction electrode to stimulate the fin nerve. Chromatophores are pigmeted cells that come in 3 colors: Brown, Red, and Yellow. Each chromatophore is lined with up to 16 muscles that contract to reveal their color.

Paloma T. Gonzalez-Bellido of Roger Hanlon's Lab in the Marine Resource Center of the Marine Biological Labs helped us with the preparation. You can read their latest paper at:

The nine people believed injured by stray police gunfire outside the Empire State Building were not the first to learn how dangerous a crowded street can be in a gunfight.

 Civilians occasionally find themselves in harm's way when officers use deadly force, though usually only a handful of times annually. When that happens, a rigid process of investigation is set in motion — and the police department can reasonably expect a lawsuit. The latest episode came when police say a man disgruntled over losing his job a year ago shot a former colleague to death and pointed his weapon at two police officers in the shadow of a major tourist attraction. He apparently wasn't able to fire before police killed him, one firing off seven rounds and the other nine. Bystanders suffered graze wounds, and some were struck by concrete gouged from buildings by the bullets, authorities said. At least one person said he was actually hit by a bullet. Robert Asika, a 23-year-old tour guide who was hit in the right arm, said he was "100 percent positive" he was shot by a police officer. A witness told police that laid-off clothing designer Jeffrey Johnson fired at officers, but ballistics evidence so far contradicts that, authorities said.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Tracking a Rare Tattoo-Related Infection

A Trail of Ink: Tracking a Rare Tattoo-Related Infection

PHOTO: Tattoo ink skin infection
An uncommon skin infection led to a doctor's investigation into tainted tattoo ink. (Monroe County Health Department)
The reddish-purple rash, seemingly woven into the tattoo on a 20-year-old New Yorker's forearm, was strange enough to have doctors scratching their heads.

This trail began when the man received a tattoo in Rochester, N.Y. in October 2011. A short while later, he noticed the raised, bumpy rash. He called his primary care physician.

Doctors initially treated the man's arm with topical steroids, thinking that the rash was allergic-contact dermatitis. But that only made the problem worse.

By the time dermatologist Dr. Mark Goldgeier saw the patient, it was clear that this was no simple allergy.

He performed a skin biopsy so he could take a closer look at the rash under a microscope. What he saw was startling: the sample was riddled with a wormlike bacterium related to tuberculosis.

"I explained [to the patient] that he had TB, and he had a look of horror on his face," Goldgeier said.

For the patient, the finding meant a trip to an infectious disease specialist to start up to a full year of treatment.

Goldgeier, meanwhile, called the Monroe County Health Department.

"As soon as biopsy came back," he said, "I knew something in the process of tattooing was involved -- the ink, the water used for dilution, the syringes, the dressings."

And so began a nationwide medical mystery.

An article published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine describes how this one dermatologist helped connect the dots in an outbreak of tattoo-related atypical skin infections.

Dr. Byron Kennedy, public health specialist at Monroe County Department of Public Health, took over the case from Goldgeier. Kennedy first confirmed the results by repeating a skin biopsy on the patient. Once again, tendrils of mycobacterium chelonae, a type of tuberculosis-related skin bacteria, showed up in the sample.

Mycobacterium chelonae is a rapidly growing bug found in soil, dust, water, animals, hospitals, and contaminated pharmaceuticals. This family of bacteria does not commonly affect healthy individuals, but in patients with suppressed immune systems -- like those with HIV or on chemotherapy -- these bacteria can cause serious disease, often resulting in death.

The finding sent Kennedy and his associates to the tattoo parlor where the patient had been inked. Everything in the clinic was sterile, which made it unlikely that the infection had arisen there. But the tattoo artist, they learned, had been using a new gray premixed ink purchased in Arizona in April 2011; he used the ink between May and December 2011.

The ingredients of the ink -- pigment, witch hazel, glycerin, and distilled water -- seemed innocuous enough. But further examination revealed that the distilled water in the pigment was the likely culprit of the contamination.

The finding raised a number of questions -- not the least of which was how the bottles of premixed ink passed U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged this gap in regulations Wednesday in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report.

"Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, tattoo inks are considered to be cosmetics, and the pigments used in the inks are color additives requiring premarket approval," the report says.

Armed gang fight breaks out in Venezuelan prison

Twenty-five people were killed and 43 others hurt in a prison battle in Venezuela as two armed gangs vied for control of a penitentiary near Caracas, authorities said on Monday.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Singapore to end death penalty for drug couriers who help authorities or are mentally disabled

Singapore says it plans to change the law so that convicted drug couriers no longer receive a mandatory death sentence. Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said in parliament Monday that the government will seek to give judges the discretion to give life sentences to drug couriers if they cooperate with authorities in a substantive way or are mentally disabled. 0 Comments Weigh InCorrections? Personal Post Teo said Singapore would keep the mandatory death penalty by hanging for drug kingpins or distributors. International rights groups have criticized Singapore’s mandatory death penalty for drug couriers as too harsh. Singapore has argued tough penalties are a necessary deterrent to keep crime rates low. The changes to the law must be approved by parliament, where the ruling People’s Action Party controls 81 of 87 seats.


Three people were arrested and more than 4 ounces of cocaine was seized after a suspected drug deal in the South Shore Plaza parking lot Friday, police said

Arrested were Omi Montanez, 35, and his sister Leslie N. Montanez, 31, both of New Bedford, and Naomi L. Quansah, 38, of Abington.

All three were charged with trafficking in cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to violate the Controlled Substances Act.

Omi Montanez was also charged with resisting arrest and with a drug-free school zone violation.

The two women were released on bail and Omi Montanez was held without bail pending their arraignments today in Quincy District Court.

Braintree Deputy Police Chief Russell Jenkins said police officers Matthew Heslam and James Peters were patrolling the mall’s parking lots when they saw someone, later identified as Omi Montanez, acting suspiciously.

Jenkins said the officers kept Montanez under surveillance, and police officer Mark Sherrick and Detective Joseph Molloy were called in to assist.

“Officer Sherrick monitored Montanez’s Nissan Maxima from surveillance cameras inside Lord and Taylor and observed him remove a black, zippered bag from the trunk,” Jenkins said.

Montanez drove from parking lot to parking lot, Jenkins said. An Infiniti pulled into the parking lot where Montanez eventually parked, Jenkins said.

“Upon the arrival of the Infiniti, Montanez exited his vehicle, entered the back seat of the Infiniti and then exited the Infiniti less than a minute later,” Jenkins said.

Suspecting some type of drug transaction had taken place, Jenkins said officers detained all three people as they walked away from the two vehicles.

“Montanez’s vehicle was searched, but nothing was found,” Jenkins said. “The Infiniti was searched and officers discovered a black zippered bag in the back seat containing 125 grams of cocaine.”

When told of the discovery, Montanez fled from the officers, but was apprehended after a brief foot chase, he said.

An additional 3.5 grams of cocaine was found on Leslie Montanez when she was searched at the police station, he said.

Jenkins said that trafficking in 125 grams of cocaine carries a mandatory sentence of 10 years in state prison.


Shooting of drug suspect by DEA agents in Honduras sparks fears of escalating violence

(Fernando Antonio/ Associated Press ) - Honduras national policemen unload packages of cocaine that were brought to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Tuesday July 3, 2012. The cocaine was seized from a small airplane that crashed after it was being chased by military planes and helicopters of the Honduras army near the town of Los Lirios, about 217 miles (350 km) east of Tegucigalpa. One of the pilots died and the other was injured. About 1322 lbs. (600 kg.) of cocaine were seized.

  • (Fernando Antonio/ Associated Press ) - Honduras national policemen unload packages of cocaine that were brought to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Tuesday July 3, 2012. The cocaine was seized from a small airplane that crashed after it was being chased by military planes and helicopters of the Honduras army near the town of Los Lirios, about 217 miles (350 km) east of Tegucigalpa. One of the pilots died and the other was injured. About 1322 lbs. (600 kg.) of cocaine were seized.
  • (Fernando Antonio/ Associated Press ) - A Honduras national policeman sits on packages of cocaine that were brought to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Tuesday July 3, 2012. The cocaine was seized from a small airplane that crashed after it was being chased by military planes and helicopters of the Honduras army near the town of Los Lirios, about 217 miles (350 km) east of Tegucigalpa. One of the pilots died and the other was injured. About 1322 lbs. (600 kg.) of cocaine were seized.Honduras’ top human rights official said Monday he worries that the second fatal shooting by U.S. agents in Honduras is part of a widening confrontation between drug traffickers and U.S.-backed police and troops.

The Honduran government defended its work with the U.S., saying that the Americans have helped to dramatically increase drug seizures in the country.But human rights ombudsman Ramon Custodio said Monday that “sooner or later air and sea operations won’t be enough and we’ll see military and police operations on land.”

A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokeswoman said Sunday that the pilot of a suspected drug flight was shot dead by two DEA agents this month after he refused to surrender and made a threatening gesture.

At the time, Honduran police said the twin-engine plane arriving from Colombia with a load of cocaine crashed on July 3 while being chased by government aircraft. Honduran officials said that one pilot died and a second was badly injured, but didn’t say how the death occurred.

On Sunday DEA spokeswoman Dawn Dearden said that police arriving at the crash scene in eastern Honduras found the plane’s two pilots and arrested the injured one. She said the second pilot was shot by the DEA agents after he ignored orders to surrender and made a threatening gesture.

She called the operation, which involved Honduran police and embedded DEA advisers, a success that resulted in the seizure of 900 kilograms (almost a ton) of cocaine.

Honduran Minister of Public Safety Ivan Mejia said the operation was part of a “permanent, frontal, professional, radical and transparent offensive against organized crime.”

“In these types of operations, those committing crimes must understand that if they resist it could lead to confrontations that could lead to loss of life. They shouldn’t break the law, or, they should surrender,” Mejia said.

U.S. officials say that in late June an agent shot a suspected drug trafficker as he reached for his gun in a holster during a raid in a remote northern part of Honduras. That operation resulted in the seizure of 792 pounds (360 kilograms) of cocaine, the officials said.

A similar raid on May 11 killed four people, whom locals claimed were innocent civilians traveling a river in Honduras at night. Honduran police said the victims were in a boat that fired on authorities. The DEA said none of its agents fired their guns in that incident.

The deaths come amid an aggressive new enforcement strategy that has sharply increased the interception of illegal drug flights in Honduras, which has become a major transshipment point for U.S.-bound drugs. The country’s remote Mosquitia region is dotted with clandestine airstrips and a vast network of rivers for carrying drugs to the coast.

The strategy involves a special team of DEA agents who work with Honduran police to move quickly and pursue suspicious flights, a U.S. official has said. Honduran and U.S. drug agents follow flights they detect of unknown origin and work with non-U.S. contract pilots.

International crackdowns in Mexico and the Caribbean have pushed drug trafficking to Central America, which is now the crossing point for 84 percent of all U.S.-bound cocaine, according to Joint Task Force-Bravo, a U.S. military installation in Comayagua, Honduras.

The Honduran navy said it had seized two tons of cocaine on Saturday in an operation using information provided by U.S. forces in Honduras.

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From behind bars, Juan Guzman ran a multimillion-dollar drug ring with the help of his sister, a state employee, providing cocaine from Mexico to the streets of Boston

Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley announced arrests Monday connected to an alleged multimillion dollar drug-trafficking ring operating in Boston.(Tamir Kalifa for The Boston Globe)Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley announced arrests Monday connected to an alleged multimillion dollar drug-trafficking ring operating in Boston.
From behind bars, Juan Guzman ran a multimillion-dollar drug ring with the help of his sister, a state employee, providing cocaine from Mexico to the streets of Boston, according to authorities. On Monday, their enterprise was brought to an end by the largest drug ­investigation in the city in at least a decade.Fourteen people were arrested just after dawn by about 100 Boston police officers and FBI agents in 12 locations across Boston, Milton, and Canton, dismantling an illegal operation that authorities likened to the television show “The Wire.”

Through the morning and early afternoon, authorities seized about $500,000 from 12 residences, four vehicles, nine bank accounts, and a safety ­deposit box allegedly used by the drug ring. The amount of cocaine seized was still being tallied Monday night.

“Today’s arrest and seizures amounted to a corporate takedown,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, who announced the arrests at a press conference. “The managing partners are behind bars, and their product is out of circulation.”

Authorities described the so-called Guzman Trafficking ­Organization as highly organized and violent, with close ties to the Boylston Street gang, which they said has been respon­sible for violence in ­Jamaica Plain, including a triple homicide in 2010.

“If you imagine a pyramid with narcotics manufacturers at the very top and street-level users at the very bottom,” ­Conley said, “the Guzman Drug Trafficking Organization — with its wholesalers, distributors, and financial managers — would be within the top third.”

Guzman, 33, directed operations while serving a 2½-year sentence at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at ­Concord after a 2011 conviction on gun and drug charges, Conley said. Authorities said they monitored “dozens and dozens” of Guzman’s conversations while he was behind bars.

“Those of you who watched the TV show ‘The Wire’ will ­recall the Barksdale Crew, whose leader was incarcerated throughout the second season, and you wouldn’t be far from the mark,” Conley said. ­Guzman, he said, was “aided and enabled by an inner circle of top-level distributors and confidantes.”

Guzman’s sister — Maria ­Guzman, 28 — worked as a secretary at the Dorchester Juvenile Court, and is accused of maintaining bank accounts and a safety deposit box containing drug proceeds, authorities said. The deposit box and her accounts were seized, as were the accounts of Martha Tejeda, 54, the mother of Guzman’s fiancee, and Tomas Soto, 34. Guzman, ­Tejeda, and Soto were arrested Tuesday.

Three additional accounts and a Mercedes sport utility ­vehicle were seized from ­Melissa Mejia, 28, described as Guzman’s fiancee. Mejia, who was also arrested, managed Guzman’s personal finances during his incarceration, accord­ing to authorities.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Fatal shooting possibly to bolster San Bernardino gang

Anthony Phillips, 26, of San Bernardino, is accused of fatally shooting Maurice Major, 29, of Riverside, at an apartment complex in the 1200 block of North Sierra Way. Phillips was arrested the next day. He is charged with one count of murder, and prosecutors have added a gang enhancement for Phillips' alleged involvement in a San Bernardino gang. Phillips, who was in San Bernardino Superior Court on Thursday, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. During the hearing in front of Judge James Dorr, a detective and an officer from the San Bernardino Police Department were called as witnesses. They testified about the shooting and gangs in the area. Phillips, also known as Ant, is affiliated with the Delmann Heights Bloods, said Officer Jonathan Plummer, a gang investigator with the San Bernardino Police Department. "(The shooting) enhances the gang by sending a message to rival gang members and to the community - that Delmann Heights is very violent," Plummer said. The officer testified about Phillips' reported noteworthy tattoos, including "DH" under his eyes, "Bloods" on his body, "San Murderdino" on his abs and "Delmann Heights" on both arms. Witnesses told police that Major was also a gang member, Detective Albert Tello testified. Advertisement His street name was West and he was affiliated with the West Covina Neighbor Hood Crips out of Los Angeles County. Recently, Los Angeles County gangs have come into the Inland Empire to sell drugs, Plummer said. Delmann Heights, which has more than 150 documented members, claims the boundaries of California Street to the west, Medical Center Drive to the east, Cajon Boulevard to the north and Highland Avenue to the south, according to police. Following a recent gang injunction in Delmann Heights, several DH members have migrated over to the 1200 block of Sierra to sell narcotics, Plummer said. Major's girlfriend told police that on the night of the shooting they were at a party outside a San Bernardino apartment complex, Tello testified. She told police that 20 to 30 people were there, including Phillips. The two men were familiar with each other, she told police, and at one point Phillips approached Major and asked to speak with him, Tello testified. The two walked away, Tello said, and while they were talking they got into an argument. Phillips then allegedly shot the victim several times in the chest, the girlfriend told police. "After he shot the victim, the suspect ran from the complex, put the gun away and ran toward Fame Liquor," on Base Line, Tello relayed on the witness stand. Major was taken to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. Deputy District Attorney David Tulcan said prosecutors are still investigating whether Major had a gun on him that night. Authorities did find a clear, plastic bag with several pieces of suspected rock cocaine on the victim, police said. Testimony in the preliminary hearing will continue on Monday, where a judge is expected to set trial dates. May was a deadly month for the city. There were 12 reported homicides - five in one week. The spate of May violence prompted memories of the 1990s, when gang violence peaked in the area. The number of people killed in the city this year is up to 23

ranking member of the Fruit Town Brims set of the Bloods street gang was sentenced to 63 months in prison Wednesday

A Jersey City man who is a ranking member of the Fruit Town Brims set of the Bloods street gang was sentenced to 63 months in prison Wednesday for his role in the gang’s criminal enterprises, officials said. Tequan Ryals, 34, had pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy before U.S. District Court Judge Stanley R. Chesler, who imposed the sentence in Newark federal court Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said. Ryals, with fellow gang members, conspired to distribute quantities of heroin in Jersey City between December 2008 and February 2009, according to court documents and statements. Ryals also made two drug sales monitored by law enforcement in December 2008, officials said. Ryals, who was involved in the daily activities of the Fruit Town Brims from 2004 until his arrest, acted as a middleman drug distributor, officials said. Ryals was supplied “bricks” of heroin by an associate of the set and he resold them to gang members, officials said. The indictment unsealed in January 2011 charged Ryals and 14 other defendants with racketeering conspiracy and other offenses including acts pertaining to murder, murder conspiracy, aggravated assaults, a kidnapping, firearms offenses and various drug distribution conspiracies, officials said. The gang members charged in the indictment ran the gang’s activities in Jersey City, Newark, Paterson and other locations, officials said. In November, Ryals completed a state prison term for drug crimes, corrections records say. Last week, 30-year federal prison terms were meted out to Emmanuel Jones, 28, of Jersey City, and Torien Brooks, 31, of Paterson, both members of the Fruit Town and Brick City Brims set of the Bloods, officials said. Jones and Brooks were charged in the July 2004 murder of 17-year-old Michael Taylor of Jersey City, who was gunned down in a case of mistaken identity during gang retaliation, officials said. Fishman credited a number of law enforcement agencies for the investigation leading to Ryals’ conviction, including the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, and Jersey City Police Department.

Mob snitch who botched three hits ratted out Colombo gangster in murder trial

A mob snitch who couldn’t shoot straight easily pointed the finger at a reputed Colombo gangster on trial for murder. Dino Basciano took the witness stand in Brooklyn Federal Court to testify that he heard Frank (BF) Guerra was part of a hit team that successfully whacked Joseph Scopo in 1993. Basciano, 56, wasn’t much of a hit man himself, botching at least three rubout attempts. In one case, he shot Patricia Capozzalo, the sister of Peter (Fat Pete) Chiodo, telling defense lawyer Gerald McMahon, “I knew I didn’t kill her. She was still screaming when we left.”

Slain teen Ramarly Graham's twin brothers convicted of heading gang

The twin half brothers of Ramarley Graham, the Bronx teen fatally shot by a police officer in February, were convicted Tuesday for gun possenion and being part of a Harlem street gang. Hodean and Kadean Graham were sentenced to eight years in jail for heading a crew known as "One-Twenty-Nine" and "Goodfellas/The New Dons" between 2007 and 2011 in the area around W. 129th Street, between Lenox and Fifth Avenues. The 20-year-old brothers were cleared of attempted murder. "This violent street gang was as young as it was dangerous, its members having been involved in multiple shootings over a four-year period," Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement. Fifteen members of the gang were convicted on charges of drug dealing and weapons possession. Last week, police officer Richard Haste, 31, pleaded not guilty to manslaughter for shooting Ramarley Graham in the Bronx while officers were investigating a drug deal. As officers made the bust, they were radioed that Graham was armed, when he in fact was not. Graham was shot was trying to flush a bag of marijuana down a toilet. Haste's attorney said in court that the officer was conviced the teen was carrying a weapon.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

BRIT Government 'planning new Internet snooping laws'

The British government wants to expand its powers to monitor email exchanges and website visits, The Sunday Times reported. Internet companies would be instructed to install hardware to allow the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to go through "on demand" every text message and email sent, websites accessed and phone calls made "in real time, the paper said. The plans are expected to be unveiled next month. The Home Office said ministers were preparing to legislate "as soon as parliamentary time allows" but said the data to be monitored would not include content. "It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public," a spokesman said. "We need to take action to maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes. "Communications data includes time, duration and dialling numbers of a phone call, or an email address. "It does not include the content of any phone call or email and it is not the intention of government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications." An attempt to bring in similar measures was abandoned by the Labour government in 2006 amid strong opposition. However, ministers in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government believe it is essential that the police and security services have access to such communications data in order to tackle terrorism and protect the public. The plans would not allow GCHQ to access the content of communications without a warrant. However, they would enable the agency to trace whom a group or individual had contacted, how often and for how long, the report said.

Eight people from 'Holy Death' cult arrested in Mexico over ritual sacrifices of woman and two 10-year-old boys

Eight people have been arrested in northern Mexico have over the killing of two 10-year-old boys and a woman in what appears to be ritual sacrifices. Prosecutors in Sonora, in the north-west of the country have accused the suspects of belonging to the La Santa Muerte (Holy Death) cult. The victims' blood has been poured round an altar to the idol, which is portrayed as a skeleton holding a scythe and clothed in flowing robes. The cult, which celebrates death, has been growing rapidly in Mexico in the last 20 years, and now has up to two million followers. Jose Larrinaga, spokesman for Sonora state prosecutors, said the most recent killing was earlier this month, while the other two were committed in 2009 and 2010. Their bodies were found at the altar site in the small mining community of Nacozari, 70 miles south of Douglas, Arizona. Investigations were launched after the family of 10-year-old Jesus Octavio Martinez Yanez reported him missing early this month.

Saturday, 31 March 2012


Gang dispute sparked funeral home shooting that left 2 dead, 12 injured


Dispute among gang members at a North Miami-area funeral home sparked a mass shooting that injured 12 people and killed two men, according to Miami-Dade police and law enforcement. The gunmen, who fired a barrage of bullets at a crowd of mourners Friday night, remained on the loose. Investigators have not released information about the shooters, only that a white car may have been involved. One of the victims, a 43-year-old man, died outside the Funeraria Latina Emanuel funeral home, authorities said. The other, a 27-year-old man, died at the hospital. Witnesses at the funeral home had said one of the two people killed was shot in the chest. Among the wounded was a 5-year-old girl who was shot in the leg. She is hospitalized at Jackson Memorial Hospital and is listed in stable condition. The funeral was for Morvin Andre, 21, of North Miami, who was buried Saturday morning at Southern Memorial Park next to the funeral home. Andre was killed March 16 after he tried to jump 22-and-a-half feet from the fourth floor of the Aventura Mall parking garage to escape pursuit from Bloomingdale’s loss prevention employees. Andre landed on his feet, but then fell back and hit his head, according Aventura Police Major Skip Washa, a spokesman. Washa said Saturday the county medical examiner’s office has ruled Andre’s death a suicide because the Bloomingdale’s employees were one floor below Andre when they told him to stop. Instead, he jumped. Originally, it was reported that Andre, a nursing student at Broward Community College, had been killed in a shooting, according to mourners at the funeral home. A law enforcement official told the Miami Herald that the shooting involved members of several South Florida gangs who were in attendance at his wake Friday night to pay their respects. Andre was not part of a gang himself, the official said. Certain gang members took offense when someone touched Andre’s body in the casket, setting off an argument that spilled out into the street. Members of one gang retrieved an assault rifle and a handgun from a car and opened fire at other gang members in front of the funeral home, a police commander told Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4. Shooting erupted as more than 100 people were gathered outside the funeral home, in the 14900 block of West Dixie Highway, outside the city limits of North Miami. “I was on my way out of the chapel when I heard the shots,“ said A.D. Lenoir, the pastor who officiated at the service. “I told people to look for cover. It was chaos.” Lenoir, 29, said people were screaming, crying and yelling. Several victims were taken to Jackson, and others to local hospitals. The West Dixie Highway corridor has been the scene of several shootings in recent years. In 2007, the owner of a martial arts studio was fatally gunned down in a drive-by.

Kansas man struck by lightning hours after buying lottery tickets

A Kansas man was struck by lightning hours after buying three Mega Millions lottery tickets on Thursday, proving in real life the old saying that a gambler is more likely to be struck down from the sky than win the jackpot. Bill Isles, 48, bought three tickets in the record $656 million lottery Thursday at a Wichita, Kansas grocery store. On the way to his car, Isles said he commented to a friend: "I've got a better chance of getting struck by lightning" than winning the lottery. Later at about 9:30 p.m., Isles was standing in the back yard of his Wichita duplex, when he saw a flash and heard a boom -- lightning. "It threw me to the ground quivering," Isles said in a telephone interview on Saturday. "It kind of scrambled my brain and gave me an irregular heartbeat." Isles, a volunteer weather spotter for the National Weather Service, had his portable ham radio with him because he was checking the skies for storm activity. He crawled on the ground to get the radio, which had been thrown from his hand. Isles had been talking to other spotters on the radio and called in about the lightning strike. One of the spotters, a local television station intern, called 911. Isles was taken by ambulance to a hospital and kept overnight for observation. Isles said doctors wanted to make sure his heartbeat was back to normal. He suffered no burns or other physical effects from the strike, which he said could have been worse because his yard has a power line pole and wires overhead. "But for the grace of God, I would have been dead," Isles said. "It was not a direct strike." Isles said he had someone buy him ten more tickets to the Mega Millions lottery on Friday night. While one of the three winning tickets was sold in Kansas, Isles was not a winner. Officials of the Mega Millions lottery, which had the largest prize in U.S. history, said that the odds of winning lottery were about 176 million to one. Americans have a much higher chance of being struck by lightning, at 775,000 to one over the course of a year, depending on the part of the country and the season, according to the National Weather Service. Isles, who is out of work after being laid off last June by a furniture store, said he did once win $2,000 in the lottery and will keep playing. "The next time I will use the radio while sitting in the car," he said

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