Student forgotten in cell for 5 days will sue DEA

May 3, 2012

CNN on May 2, 2012 released the following:

“By Alan Duke, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN) — A San Diego college student filed a legal claim Wednesday for damages suffered when he was left handcuffed and without food or water in a Drug Enforcement Administration holding cell for five days last month.

A DEA statement said Daniel Chong, 23, was “accidentally left” in a holding cell.

“Accidentally? He almost died,” said Chong’s lawyer, Gene Iredale. “It’s inexplicable.”

Chong drank his own urine to survive as his cries for help were ignored by federal agents and inmates in nearby cells, Iredale said.

The fifth-year engineering student at the University of California, San Diego, was detained on the morning of April 21, a Saturday, when DEA agents raided a house they suspected was being used to distribute MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy.

A multi-agency narcotics task force including state agents detained nine people and seized about 18,000 MDMA pills, marijuana, prescription medications, hallucinogenic mushrooms, several guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition from the house, the DEA said.

Chong admitted going to the house “to get high with his friends,” the DEA said. He later told a San Diego TV station that he knew nothing about the other drugs and guns. He was never formally arrested or charged, the DEA said.

The agents sent seven suspects to county jail and released another person, but Chong “was accidentally left in one of the cells,” the DEA said. The agency did not explain how he was forgotten for five days in the small, windowless cell.

It wasn’t until the afternoon of Wednesday, April 25, that an agent opened the steel door to Chong’s cell and found the handcuffed student, Iredale said.

“Even if they forgot him for the weekend, there is no account for how they could have left him there for three full business days,” Iredale said.

The acting special agent in charge of the DEA’s San Diego office said he was “deeply troubled” by the incident and he offered his “deepest apologies” to Chong.

“This event is not indicative of the high standards that I hold my employees to,” William Sherman said. “I have personally ordered an extensive review of our policies and procedures.”

On Wednesday, Iredale filed a damage claim with the DEA, which he said is the beginning of the process for a civil suit in federal court.

“He began hallucinating sometime around the end of the second or start of the third day,” Iredale said. “At some point, he wanted to kill himself because of pain.”

Not knowing why he was being kept in the cell without food, water or a toilet for so long confused him, Iredale said.

He lost track of time in the dark cell, his lawyer said. “At the end, he just wanted to die because he was crazy.”

Chong contorted himself to shift his handcuffed arms from behind his back to the front, Iredale said. This allowed him to use his eyeglasses to scratch a message to his family on his arm: “Sorry mom.”

He was rushed to a hospital, where he was kept in intensive care for two days, having been close to death from kidney failure, Iredale said.

The Cerritos, California, native is now recovering at home, he said.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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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.


U.S. busts an alleged global online drug market, arrests eight

April 17, 2012

Chicago Tribune on April 16, 2012 released the following:

“Dan Whitcomb | Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Eight men charged with running an elaborate online narcotics market that sold drugs to 3,000 people in the United States and 34 other countries have been arrested following a two-year investigation dubbed “Operation Adam Bomb,” prosecutors said on Monday.

The secret ring known as “The Farmer’s Market” operated through the TOR computer network, which allows users to communicate anonymously, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed on Monday in Los Angeles.

The online drug market provided order forms and customer service, guaranteeing delivery in exchange for a commission and accepting payment through PayPal, Western Union and other means, the indictment charges.

Authorities said the defendants were accused of running one of the most sophisticated drug marketplaces on the Internet and said the prosecution represented a first of its kind.

“The drug trafficking organization targeted in Operation Adam Bomb was distributing dangerous and addictive drugs to every corner of the world, and trying to hide their activities through the use of advanced anonymizing on-line technology,” Briane Grey, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration acting special agent in charge, said in a written release.

“Today’s action should send a clear message to organizations that are using technology to conduct criminal activity that the DEA and our law enforcement partners will track them down and bring them to justice,” Grey said.

Marc Willems, 42, who is accused of creating and running “The Farmer’s Market,” was taken into custody at his home in Lelystad, Netherlands, by Dutch authorities, U.S. Attorneys spokeswoman Gymeka Williams said.

Law enforcement officials in Bogota arrested 42-year-old Michael Evron, a U.S. citizen living in Argentina who allegedly oversaw technical and customer support for the online marketplace, as he was attempting to leave Colombia, Williams said.

Jonathan Colbeck, 51; Brian Colbeck, 47; Ryan Rawls, 31; Jonathan Dugan, 27; George Matzek, 20; and Charles Bigras, 37, were arrested at their respective homes in Iowa, Michigan, Georgia, New York, New Jersey and Florida.

All eight defendants were charged with federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges and prosecutors had filed extradition papers to return Willems and Evron back to the United States for trial, Williams said.

Each faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

According to the 66-page indictment, “The Farmer’s Market” allowed independent sources to advertise illegal drugs – including LSD, ecstasy, fentanyl, mescaline ketamine, DMT and high-end marijuana – for sale to the public.

The deals were allegedly handled through the online marketplace, which processed more than 5,200 orders for controlled substances valued at more than $1 million between January 2007 and October 2009, the indictment charges.

The law enforcement operation was called “Adam Bomb” because the original name of the marketplace was Adamflowers, according to the indictment.

According to its website, TOR offers free software and an open network that allows users to defend against “network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy.””

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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 and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

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.


15 Arrests in an Alleged International Online Drug Probe

April 16, 2012

Associated Press on April 16, 2012 released the following:

“By ROBERT JABLON

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A sophisticated online drug marketplace that sold everything from marijuana to mescaline to some 3,000 people around the world has been cracked with the arrests of 15 people in several countries, U.S. authorities announced Monday.

An indictment unsealed in federal court in Los Angeles claims eight men ran “The Farmer’s Market,” which allowed suppliers of drugs – including LSD, Ecstasy and ketamine – to anonymously sell their wares online. They hooked up with buyers in 34 countries and accepted various forms of payment, including cash, Western Union and PayPal transactions, the indictment claims.

From 2007 to 2009 alone, the marketplace processed more than 5,000 orders for drugs valued at more than $1 million, federal officials contended. It began operations as far back as March 2006, authorities said.

The market “provided a controlled substances storefront, order forms, online forums, customer service, and payment methods for the different sources of supply” and charged the suppliers a commission based upon the value of the order, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.

“For customers, the operators screened all sources of supply and guaranteed delivery of the illegal drugs,” the statement said.

The alleged ringleader, Dutch citizen Marc Willems, 42, was arrested Monday at his home in Lelystad in the Netherlands, officials said.

Michael Evron, 42, a United States citizen living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was taken into custody on Sunday in Bogota, Colombia, authorities said.

The other six men were arrested at their homes. They are identified as Jonathan Colbeck, 51, of Urbana, Iowa; Brian Colbeck, 47, of Coldwater, Mich.; Ryan Rawls, 31, of Alpharetta, Ga.; Jonathan Dugan, 27, of North Babylon, N.Y.; George Matzek, 20, of Secaucus, N.J.; and Charles Bigras, 37, of Melbourne, Fla.

It was not immediately clear whether the men had obtained lawyers.

The 12-count indictment charges all eight men with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and money laundering conspiracy. Some of the men also are charged with distributing LSD and taking part in a continuing criminal enterprise.

All could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of conspiracy.

In addition, seven other people were arrested on suspicion of drug crimes Monday in the Netherlands, Georgia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and authorities seized hallucinogenic mushrooms, hashish, LSD, marijuana and Ecstasy, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The investigation led to those arrests, but authorities still were trying to determine their connections to the online marketplace, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin S. Rosenberg.

The two-year investigation, dubbed “Operation Adam Bomb, “involved law enforcement agents from several U.S. states and several countries, including Colombia, the Netherlands and Scotland, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The case was filed in Los Angeles because some of the customers and an undercover agent who bought drugs through the marketplace are from the area, Rosenberg said.

“Illegal narcotics trafficking now reaches every corner of our world, including our home computers,” U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said in the statement. “But the reach of the law is just as long. … We want to make the Internet a safe and secure marketplace by rooting out and prosecuting those persons who seek to illegally pervert and exploit that market.”

The marketplace “was distributing dangerous and addictive drugs to every corner of the world, and trying to hide their activities through the use of advanced anonymizing online technology,” said Briane M. Grey, acting special agent in charge of the Los Angeles Field Division for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The marketplace allegedly used the Tor network, which spreads website and email communications through a volunteer network of servers around the world in order to mask Internet address information.

Tor originally was developed at a project of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory to protect government communications. The free software and open network is used to prevent websites from tracking users, getting access to websites blocked by Internet providers, and providing anonymity for online users and online publishers. It is used by “normal people, the military, journalists, law enforcement officers, activists, and many others,” according to the Tor Project website.”

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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 and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

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.


60 Indicted in Drug and Gun Sting Operation

August 30, 2011

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on August 30, 2011 released the following:

“CLEVELAND – Twenty-six people were indicted in federal court on firearms and drug trafficking charges following a year-long undercover sting operation centered in Mansfield, Ohio.

The joint operation, led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) – with the participation of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) – targeted convicted felons who traffic firearms and drugs.

The investigation focused on the unlawful sale and possession of firearms, the use of firearms in narcotics trafficking and the distribution of drugs in and around the Mansfield-area.

In a related effort, 34 people were indicted on state drug trafficking charges.

The investigation resulted in the seizure of:

  • Hundreds of rounds of ammunition;
  • 70 firearms;
  • 1,316 grams of cocaine;
  • 768 grams of crack cocaine;
  • 1,099 Oxycodone pills;
  • 215 ecstasy pills;
  • 199 Vicodin pills;
  • Five grams of heroin; and
  • 36 pills of Alprazolam.

“This undercover operation was strategically targeted at felons and violent criminals who flooded Mansfield with prescription drugs, illegal narcotics and illegal firearms,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Ohio. “This investigation will shut off a significant pipeline of illegal firearms and drugs.”

“Thwarting today’s criminal organizations requires the collective expertise, diverse statutory authorities, and jurisdiction of many agencies and departments,” said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI for Ohio and Michigan. “This case is a perfect example of the power of collaboration and its impact on public safety here in Ohio.”

The indictments included 121 separate criminal charges. They were returned Aug. 24, but only unsealed this morning when federal and local agents arrested the suspects.

The cases are grouped as 12 separate indictments. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kelly L. Galvin and Carol M. Skutnik.

The investigation is being conducted by: the ATF, HSI, U.S. Marshals Service, Richland County Sheriff’s Office, Ashland County Sheriff’s Office, Ravenna Police Department and the Ohio Adult Parole Authority.”

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 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.

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George Wesley Ellington, Former Harris County Deputy, Sentenced to Prison for Extortion

August 19, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas on August 18, 2011 released the following:

“HOUSTON – A former Harris County Deputy Sheriff and his wife, charged and convicted for their respective roles in the deputy’s criminal activities, have been sentenced to prison by U.S. District Judge Keith P. Elliso, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

George Wesley Ellington, 39, of Houston, a former Harris County deputy sheriff convicted of extortion under color of official right after pleading guilty to the offense on April 14, 2011, was sentenced this morning to 60 months in federal prison without parole to be followed by a two-year-term of supervised release. Today’s hearing was the culmination of an investigation conducted by the Harris County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI. That investigation established that in April 2010 Ellington accepted a $500 bribe for using his position as a then Harris County deputy sheriff to access confidential information from secured law enforcement databases and for providing security/protection in his official capacity to a person he believed was illegally possessing and transporting 3, 4 Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), commonly called Ecstasy.

Judge Ellison also sentenced Ellington’s wife, Tania Katrisse Ellington, 31, to 12 months and a day in federal prison without parole to be followed by a one-year-term of supervised release for knowingly concealing her husband’s criminal activities. Tania Ellington pleaded guilty on April 26, 2011, to misprision of a felony.

Both Ellingtons were permitted to remain on bond pending the issuance of a court order to surrender to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel C. Rodriguez and F. Andino Reynal prosecuted the case.”

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 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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Members of Alleged Asian Organized Crime Organization Appear in Federal Court Today

July 12, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Massachusetts on July 12, 2011 released the following:

“Detention Hearing Scheduled for Five Defendants Today at Noon

BOSTON, Mass. – Five federal defendants are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Boston today, following a multi-year federal investigation into their roles in illegal activity in Chinatown and elsewhere. A total of 26 individuals from Massachusetts, Florida and Rhode Island have been indicted in connection with the alleged organized crime conspiracy.

According to court filings, the FBI’s Organized Crime Task Force led a long-term investigation into drug-trafficking, illegal gambling, extortion, prostitution, and other criminal activity in the Chinatown area of Boston and elsewhere. The investigation included court-authorized wire surveillance of cellular telephones for seven months, including the cell phones of five of the defendants. The investigation to date has resulted in the seizure of more than $340,000, thirteen firearms and approximately 12,000 pills of suspected oxycodone. Investigators also uncovered extensive evidence of illegal gambling and prostitution, and the use of extortionate threats to collect loans to gamblers and others.

“Organized crime can paralyze or seriously disrupt small communities, particularly close-knit neighborhoods like Chinatown,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “This criminal organization is alleged to have trafficked large amounts of drugs, threatened and beat up individuals who failed to pay off large illegal debts, and moved women around the country to work in their brothels.”

“We encourage the victims of these alleged crimes to contact us to assist in protecting the community and prosecuting those responsible,” added U.S. Attorney Ortiz. “We are very fortunate in Massachusetts to have dedicated prosecutors, agents and local law enforcement who challenge themselves and creatively leverage resources to work these multi-faceted complex investigations.”

Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, said, “The indictments and arrests stemming from this operation send a clear message to those involved in organized crime organizations everywhere: The FBI and its law enforcement partners will pursue those who engage in drug dealing, illegal gambling, extortion and exploitation of women regardless of the geographic boundaries.”

SAC DesLauriers added, “In this case, law enforcement’s jurisdictional reach and investigative tenacity culminated in the arrest of multiple individuals. The methodical nature and duration of this investigation reflects our collective dedicated effort to secure justice for the victims. Organized crime groups are emerging from every corner of the globe. Through our task-force and intelligence based model, we will use every tool at our disposal to disrupt and dismantle organized criminal enterprises.”

In late May, 13 men and women were charged in the first of three indictments with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute oxycodone, marijuana and human growth hormone in the Massachusetts, Florida, South Carolina, and elsewhere. According to an affidavit filed in connection with detention proceedings, John Willis, 40, of Dorchester, also known as “Bac Guai John” (“White Devil John”), the leader of this drug-trafficking conspiracy, has a long history of involvement in Asian organized crime.

The following were also charged in the drug-trafficking conspiracy with Willis: Brant Welty, 39, Kevin Baranowski, 41, and Bridget Welty, 38, all of Boston; Vincent Alberico, 29, of Centerville, Mass.; Peter Melendez, 50, of Sunrise, Florida; Aibun Eng, 38,and Steven Le, 21, both of Quincy; Brian Bowes, 42, and Michael Clemente, 29, both of Sunrise, Florida; Michael Shaw, 39, of Wilton Manors, Florida; Mark Thompson, 28, of Davie, Florida; and Anevay Duffy, 25, of Cumberland, Rhode Island. Alberico is also charged with assaulting a federal official who was performing his official duties.

With the exception of Melendez, the defendants in this matter have been arrested. Willis, Le, and Alberico have been detained pending trial. Brant Welty remains in custody pending the court’s decision on the government’s motion for detention and Baranowski remains in custody pending a detention hearing on July 14. Alberico is in state custody.

If convicted on these charges, Willis and Baranowski face up to 30 years in federal prison. Each of the remaining defendants faces up to 20 years in federal prison to be followed by up to a life term of supervised release, and $1 million fine. In addition, Alberico also faces up to eight years in federal prison to be followed by up to three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine for the assault charge.

On June 30, 13 additional defendants were charged in two separate indictments. One of the indictments charged Minh Cam Luong, 46, Vapeng Joe, 44, Hin Pau, 45, Judy Huyen Truong, 41, and Hui Zhou, 24, all of Quincy; Jian Ming Chen, 38, of Brighton; Elburke Lamson, 47, of Chelsea; Tan Ngo, 54, of Waltham; Songzeng Cao, 28, of Malden; and Yao Zheng Cao, 23, of Somerville, for operating an illegal gambling business since January 2010. That business has been based, since November 2010, at a illegal gambling den at 17-23 Beach Street in Chinatown. Luong, Pau, Songzeng Cao, Yao Zheng Cao and Zhou were also charged with using extortionate means, including threats or actual use of violence, to collect debts, including debts owed to the illegal gambling business. With the exception of Lamson and Truong, all defendants are currently in custody pending detention hearings. Five defendants are expected to have detention hearings today at noon.

According to a court filing, Luong and Ngo were both members of Chinatown’s Ping On Gang in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the Gang was vying for control of crime in Chinatown. Both were convicted on federal charges including heroin trafficking, and both have served sentences in federal prison.

If convicted on these charges, each of the defendants faces up to five years in federal prison to be followed by up to three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine on the illegal gambling business charge. Luong, Pau, Cao, Cao, and Zhou also face up to 20 years in federal prison to be followed by up to three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine for each count of using extortionate means to collect extensions of credit.

Lastly, Wei Xing Chen, 50, of Cambridge, and Yue Q. He, age unknown, of Boston, were charged in an indictment with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine and 1-benzylpiperazine, both also known as ecstasy, and possession with intent to distribute 1-benzylpiperazine. In addition, Chen, He and Xiaohong Xue, 41, also of Cambridge, were charged in the same indictment with conspiring to induce travel to engage in prostitution. Chen, who operated brothels in Cambridge and Boston, is currently in custody. Arrest warrants have been issued for He and Xue.

If convicted on the drug charges, Chen and He face up to 20 years in federal prison to be followed by at least three years of supervised release, and a $1 million fine on each count. In addition, if convicted of prostitution conspiracy, each of the defendants faces up to five years in federal prison to be followed by up to three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

According to the affidavit, Willis and several of his co-defendants frequented Chen’s brothels and Luong’s gambling den. Employees of Luong’s gambling business frequented Chen’s brothels. Some of Luong’s employees, including Joe, associated with Willis.

U.S. Attorney Ortiz; FBI SAC DesLauriers; William P. Offord; Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Boston Field Division; Bruce Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; and Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis made the announcement today.

The cases were investigated by the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation, DEA, ICE Homeland Security Investigations, Massachusetts State Police, Massachusetts Department of Correction, and Quincy, Cambridge, Medford, Boston and New York City Police Departments. Assistance was also received from the Broward County (Fla..) Sheriff’s Office and the Ridgeland and Dillon Police Departments in South Carolina. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy E. Moran and Richard L. Hoffman of Ortiz’s Strike Force Unit.

The details contained in the indictments are allegations. The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”

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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