“International fugitive Richard Chichakli requests extradition to US to face charges linking him to Russian arms dealer”

April 4, 2013

Herald Sun on April 4, 2013 released the following:

Emily Portelli From: Herald Sun

“INTERNATIONAL fugitive Richard Chichakli, arrested in Melbourne after applying to become a protective services officer, has asked to be sent back to the US to face charges linking him to a Russian arms dealer.

“I consent to the extradition and ask the court to kindly send me home to the United States as soon as possible,” the Syrian-born US citizen said today via video link at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.

“I thank Australia for its hospitality, I just need to go home.”

The alleged associate of war criminal Viktor Bout arrived in Australia in June 2010 on a false Syrian passport and left and returned to Australia six times before his arrest in January.

The 53-year-old was living in Melbourne’s north and was arrested after his fingerprints were matched to an Interpol alert when he applied for a job as a PSO.

He had already passed Victoria Police psychological and fitness screening.

The US sought to extradite Mr Chichakli to New York to face charges relating to his alleged conspiracy with Bout to purchase planes to transport arms to international conflict zones.

Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg told Mr Chichakli he was facing charges of conspiracy to violate the International Economic Emergency Powers Act, conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and six wire fraud offences.

“Of course I deny all of them but that is for a United States court to try,” Mr Chichakli said.

“I am ready for extradition, sir.”

Mr Rozencwajg told him he would send a letter this afternoon to the Attorney-General, who would then likely order his surrender to the US.

Bout, who is currently serving 25 years on US terror charges, inspired the character played by Nicholas Cage in 2005 war film Lord of War.

It is alleged the pair provided arms to former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, who was last year sentenced to 50 years’ jail for war crimes.

Mr Chichakli had been on the run from American authorities since 2005.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Federal Indictment Charges 15 Men from Albuquerque and Edgewood with Alleged Drug Trafficking and Financial Crimes

January 29, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 27, 2012 released the following:

“ALBUQUERQUE—A 29—count federal indictment charging 15 men from Albuquerque and Edgewood, N.M., with drug trafficking, money laundering, and currency structuring charges was unsealed late yesterday afternoon, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales; Joseph M. Arabit, Special Agent in Charge of the El Paso Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Carol K.O. Lee, Special Agent in Charge of the Albuquerque Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and Dawn Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Division of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS).

The indictment is the result of a multi-agency investigation into a major drug trafficking and money laundering organization operating out of the Albuquerque metropolitan area that was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) program. OCDETF is a nationwide Department of Justice program that combines the resources and unique expertise of federal agencies, along with their local counterparts, in a coordinated effort to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations.

Yesterday, a team of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers arrested nine of the 15 defendants named in the indictment, and executed 10 search warrants at residences in Albuquerque and a ranch in Edgewood. Those arrested include Steve Chavez, 32, a fireman with the Albuquerque Fire Department. Two other defendants, Jesus Ramos Castillo, 29, and Gabriel Guerra-Gonzalez, 27, both Mexican nationals, are in state custody on pending local charges; they will be transferred to federal custody to face the charges in the indictment. The defendants arrested yesterday are scheduled to make their initial appearances in federal court in Albuquerque this morning.

Four defendants, Homero Varela, 29, Manuel Villa-Mayorquin, 23, and Procoro Noberto-Alvarez, 28, Mexican nationals, and Ramon Gonzalez, Jr., 25, of Edgewood, have yet to be arrested and are considered fugitives.

The indictment alleges that, between May 2011 and January 2012, all 15 defendants participated in a conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, including cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. Each defendant also is charged with using communication devices to facilitate drug trafficking crimes (sometimes referred to as “phone counts”), and Homero Varela is charged with distributing methamphetamine on three separate occasions over a three month period. The maximum penalties for a conviction on the conspiracy charge and each of the three methamphetamine distribution charges is a minimum 10 years’ to a maximum of life imprisonment and a $10 million fine, and the maximum penalty for a conviction on each of the phone counts is four years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

The indictment also charges Homero Varela, Roy Madrid, 21, of Albuquerque, and Manuel Villa-Mayorquin with conspiracy to launder money. Homero Varela is further charged with an additional count of money laundering involving drug proceeds. A conviction on the money laundering conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of 20 years of imprisonment, and a conviction on the substantive money laundering charge carries a maximum penalty of ten years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Ramon Gonzalez, Jr., is charged with seven counts of structuring financial transactions to avoid certain reporting requirements for an aggregate of $166,300 through 24 transactions between April 2009 and August 2011. Steve Chavez is charged with structuring an aggregate of $348,500 in 37 transactions between July 1, 2011 and August 25, 2011. The maximum penalty for a conviction on each of these counts is five years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

The indictment also seeks forfeiture of property constituting, or derived from proceeds obtained directly, or indirectly, from the defendants’ illegal drug trafficking and financial crimes, including three Albuquerque residences owned, occupied or in the possession of Homero Varela, Ramon Gonzalez, Sr., and Steve Chavez, respectively, and a ranch in Edgewood owned by Ramon Gonzalez, Sr. It also seeks forfeiture of funds in numerous bank accounts in the names of Homero Varela, Ramon Gonzales, Sr., Ramon Gonzalez, Jr., Andres Gonzalez and Steve Chavez, as well as a money judgment of at least $15,000,000, the amount of money allegedly derived or involved in the offenses alleged in the indictment.

During yesterday’s law enforcement operation, officers seized a half kilogram of cocaine, more than 10 pounds of high grade marijuana, approximately $25,000 in cash, 20 vehicles, seven handguns, nine rifles, and two shotguns.

In announcing yesterday’s arrests, U.S. Attorney Gonzales said, “The charges in this indictment are some of the most significant drug and money laundering charges ever filed in the District of New Mexico. The investigation that led to this indictment exemplifies the law enforcement cooperation that we are fortunate to experience here in New Mexico. Federal, state and local officers worked long and hard and side-by-side in a coordinated effort to arrest numerous individuals charged in the indictment. We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone involved in the investigation. Their efforts have made our streets and communities much safer.”

“The Varela organization has been responsible for distributing multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine in central and north central New Mexico,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Arabit. “DEA and our federal, state, county, and municipal law enforcement partners have worked hand-in-hand to disrupt this organization from its roots, culminating in the indictment of 15 of its members of which 11 are in custody and the seizure of their drugs and assets, including 20 vehicles, 18 weapons, cash, and real property. Through these enforcement actions, we are making our communities safer.”

“These significant investigations and arrests would not have been possible without the joint efforts of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, led by the DEA, the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Forces in Albuquerque and Las Cruces, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and numerous other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies throughout the region, said FBI Special Agent in Charge Lee. “We all share the same goal: stop criminal enterprises that profit from the illegal trade of dangerous drugs and take away any financial benefit they receive from their crimes. The Albuquerque FBI will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement and community partners to rid our rural and urban areas of drug traffickers and other criminals and help make New Mexico and our nation a safer place to live.”

IRS Special Agent in Charge Mertz stated, “This indictment once again reflects the successful merging of law enforcement personnel, who work together through the task force, providing their specific skills, with the common purpose of ferreting out potential nefarious narcotics and related financial crimes. IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to work alongside our law enforcement partners to investigate those individuals who ignore the laws of our country for financial gain.”

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Reeve Swainston and Samuel L. Hurtado, and was investigated by DEA, FBI, and IRS with support from the New Mexico State Police, the Albuquerque Police Department, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, and the Corrales Police Department. Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the U.S. Border Patrol, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, the Air Branch of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the New Mexico Department of Public Safety Motor Transportation Police Division, and the Region II HIDTA Task Force participated in yesterday’s law enforcement operation.

Charges in indictments are only accusations. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Kirby Lofts Trio Pleads Guilty

December 27, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on December 22, 2011 released the following:

“HOUSTON— Derwin Frazier, Veronica Frazier, and Felton Greer have pleaded guilty for their respective roles in connection with fraudulently obtaining home loans in the Kirby Lofts condominium complex and others, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

Derwin Frazier, 45, of Pearland, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder money, while Veronica Frazier, 43, also of Pearland, pleaded to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud arising from a scheme to defraud residential lenders in connection with single family residences and individual condominium purchases in a building located at 917 Main Street in Houston, also known as the “The Kirby Lofts.” Greer pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false income tax return for failing to report funds he was paid to act as a borrower on the loans.

The fourth superseding criminal information alleged the Kirby Lofts and other single family homes were sham sales. From about December 2004 to October 2006, Derwin Frazier recruited individuals with good credit to act as borrowers in applications for mortgage loans to purchase units in Kirby Lofts and elsewhere. Co-conspirators assisted these “straw borrowers” with providing false information and documents, including bogus letters and false verifications of bank balances, to induce lenders to fund residential home purchases. Derwin and Veronica Frazier submitted invoices for payment from loan proceeds and used the money to pay themselves and straw borrowers from loan proceeds.

U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal, who accepted the pleas today, has set sentencing for May 15, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. At that time, Derwin Frazier faces up to 10 years’ imprisonment, while Veronica Frazier and Greer face a maximum five and three years, respectively. All three also face a fine of up to $250,000. All defendants have also agreed to pay restitution, as ordered by the court.

Today’s pleas bring the total to five people who have pleaded guilty for their roles in the Kirby Lofts mortgage fraud scam. Brenda East, 50, currently incarcerated on an unrelated matter, and Duane Wardell, 49, of Palestine, Texas, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and are pending sentencing on April 25 and May 18, 2012, respectively. With the exception of East, all defendants have been released on bond.

The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations. Assistant United States Attorneys Belinda Beek and Martha Minnis are prosecuting the case.

The case is part of President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force and was part of “Operation Stolen Dreams,” a nationwide dragnet which targeted mortgage fraudsters throughout the country, the largest collective enforcement effort ever brought to bear in contronting mortgage fraud.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Keith Alan Hasson (a.k.a. Psyche) Added to the U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted as a Suspected Federal Criminal Drug Kingpin

June 7, 2011

The U.S. Marshals Service on June 6, 2011 released the following press release:

“U.S. Marshals Add Drug Kingpin To 15 Most Wanted

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Marshals have added a suspected drug kingpin to their 15 Most Wanted fugitive list. Keith Hasson is wanted on a 2005 open indictment from the New Mexico U.S. District Court for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, continuing criminal enterprise and conspiracy to launder money.

Hasson, 45, is considered to be the leader of a criminal enterprise responsible for large- scale distribution of cocaine and marijuana throughout the United States. His organization operated from 1999 to 2005, generating more than $20 million in cash and assets.

Hasson’s brother, Anthony Hasson, received more than 24 years in prison for his conviction in the same criminal case.

Hasson has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1981, including arrests for attempted murder, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, vehicle theft, burglary and possession with intent to distribute. Hasson is also wanted for questioning in two gang murders. He has a previous federal conviction for conspiracy to deliver cocaine.

“Only a handful of fugitives have as far-reaching a criminal enterprise, or such an extensive, continued history of violent behavior as Keith Hasson,” said Geoff Shank, Assistant Director of Operations for the U.S. Marshals Service. “We are committed to bringing him in and ending his three-decades-long history of criminal behavior.”

Hasson has family ties and associates across the United States including Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas, Missouri, New York, North Carolina and Georgia.

Investigators believe Hasson has access to significant financial resources and likely continues to organize criminal enterprise.

“Today, the Marshals Service in the District of New Mexico has become a force multiplier, with the law enforcement resources of the Marshals Service from throughout the entire 94 federal districts, coalesced with a unified goal of identifying the whereabouts of this extremely dangerous 15 Most Wanted fugitive,” said Conrad E. Candelaria, U.S. Marshal for the District of New Mexico. “A unified goal so that fugitive Hasson can be taken into custody and held accountable and answer to the many horrendous crimes that he has committed. I would also encourage each and every citizen to be watchful of fugitive Hasson as he is a danger to our community and in all likelihood is committing and endangering our communities and citizens with criminal and violent behavior.”

Hasson is 6 feet tall and weighs 175 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes. He has tattoos on both arms and is known to use the aliases Keith Osborne, Dennis Osborne Phillips, Kevin Russell, Larry John Morrison, Taylor Jackson, Anthony Hasson, Tony Hasson and Dewayne Hasson.”

Attached is Keith Hasson’s Indictment

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Seven in Texas Charged with Alleged Federal Drug Conspiracy Crimes

March 3, 2011

A sealed indictment charging seven Brownsville-area residents with alleged federal crimes, conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and/or laundering the drug proceeds, was unsealed on Wednesday following the arrest of the individuals. The arrests were announced by U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno, Southern District of Texas.

The seven individuals were arrested March 2 in Corpus Christi.The investigation led to the criminal charges of the following individuals: Arturo Gomez, 31; Magda Zendejas, 28; Reyna Ceballos, 21; Julio Gonzalez, 45; David Alcala, 30; Vanessa Weaver, 28; and Sonia Garcia-Medina, 26. All seven are expected to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Felix Recio in Brownsville, March 3.

The four-count indictment returned on Febuary 23, by a Corpus Christi grand jury and now unsealed, charges five of the six individuals – Gomez, Zendejas, Ceballos, Gonzalez and Alcala – with allegedly conspiring for a two-year period beginning in January 2009 to possess with intent to distribute kilogram quantities of cocaine. Based upon the amount of the alleged cocaine involved, the individuals face no less than 10 years, and a maximum of life imprisonment if convicted.

Gomez is also charged individually with alleged conspiracy to launder monetary instruments which carries a maximum 20-year prison term upon conviction. Gomez is charged in a separate count with allegedly smuggling $47,205 in bulk cash. Weaver is also charged in a separate count with allegedly smuggling $16,530 in bulk cash. A conviction for bulk-cash smuggling carries a maximum five-year-term of imprisonment upon conviction. Included in the indictment is a notice of the government’s intent to seek a money judgment in the amount of $1 million against Gomez, alleging the sum constitutes the total from laundered drug proceeds and therefore forfeitable to the United States.

The seventh individual, Garcia-Medina, is charged separately by criminal complaint with being an alien illegally present in the U.S. after having been previously deported. Garcia-Medina faces up to 20 years imprisonment if convicted.

The individuals arrested yesterday do not appear to be leaders of a drug organization. However, the government frequently seeks those involved in lower-level narcotics operations as a means of gathering information regarding others, specifically higher-ups in the chain of command. To induce cooperation, the government typically uses plea agreements and reduced sentences to obtain substantial assistance from individuals facing serious drug charges.

To view the press release issued by ICE, please click here.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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