California Woman Indicted on Charges of Allegedly Giving Money to Terrorists

December 22, 2011

CNN on December 22, 2011 released the following:

“By Chelsea J. Carter, CNN

(CNN) — A California woman was indicted late Wednesday on charges of sending money to Pakistan to help fund terrorist attacks against U.S. military personnel, federal officials said.

Oytun Ayse Mihalik, 39, of La Palma was charged with three counts of giving money to someone in Pakistan who knew the funds would be used to prepare and carry out attacks against American troops, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said in a statement.

Mihalik, a native of Turkey, was accused of sending $2,050 in three wire transfers to a person in Pakistan over a period of three weeks in late 2010 and early 2011, the statement said.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the attorney’s office, would not comment on the identity of the person in Pakistan.

A telephone message left late Wednesday by CNN for Mihalik’s attorney, Alan Eisner, was not immediately returned.

Mihalik has been in U.S. custody since August 27, 2011, after she was detained at Los Angeles International Airport where she was preparing to board a flight to Turkey, the statement said. She had a one-way ticket, it said.

Federal authorities say they first questioned Mihalik on August 8 at the airport where she had just arrived from a six-month trip to Turkey. At that time, they allege she lied to agents, saying she had never used an alias to send money via Western Union to a person overseas, authorities said.

It was unclear how authorities linked Mihalik to the alleged payments, and they did not say how they identified her alleged use of an alias.

Mihalik was initially indicted on August 30 on one count of making a false statement.

A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment Wednesday, charging Mihalik with three counts of providing material support to terrorists and one count of making a false statement.

The charge of providing material support to terrorists carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison; the charge of making a false statement in a matter involving international terrorism carries a maximum penalty of eight years.

An arraignment date has not yet been set. A trial on the initial count of making a false statement was previously scheduled for February 14.”

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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.


Text messages help expose LAX marijuana smuggling ring

October 18, 2011

Los Angeles Times on October 18, 2011 released the following:

By: Rick Rojas and Richard Winton

“Authorities have revealed text messages used by two people involved in an alleged marijuana smuggling ring at Los Angeles International Airport.

The son of a former Los Angeles fire chief was charged Monday with bribing a federal Transportation Security Administration officer at LAX to help him smuggle about 14 pounds of marijuana past security on nine separate trips.

Millage Peaks IV, 23, admitted to FBI agents that he and his associates made the trips with the aid of a TSA officer, whom they paid nearly $6,000 in bribes to avoid detection, according to an FBI affidavit.

Peaks and TSA Officer Dianne Perez were arrested on bribery charges Sunday after what the FBI said was his most recent attempt. A baggage handler smelled marijuana in the luggage and alerted authorities, who found 14 pounds of marijuana.

Text messages from cellphones Peaks turned over to the FBI show Peaks had sent a number of text messages to Perez. In a message dated Oct. 7, he wrote: “He made it coo. Thanx soo much. U have no clue how clutch u r. Without u none of this would b possible….Ill have ur 700 Monday maybe earlier.”
In another, dated Sept. 30, he wrote: “500$ tom night. Good looks.”

In interviews with authorities, Peaks offered a detailed explanation of the system devised by him and Perez to get drugs aboard planes.

On Sunday, he met Perez outside the terminal and checked in for his American Airlines flight to Boston. He then gave her the two pieces of checked luggage, which Perez took to a TSA screening room, according to an affidavit from federal investigators.

She returned three minutes later and waved, an indication that “everything is good,” he said. He also said that Perez taught him how to pack his bags in order to avoid detection.”

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.