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
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

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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.


Vallejo-Based Rappers Arrested as Part of Major Investigation of Alleged Drug Trafficking Throughout the United States

April 25, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on April 24, 2012 released the following:

“SACRAMENTO, CA—A number of arrests have occurred in a major federal investigation into drug trafficking throughout the country, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to court documents, agents arrested a total of 25 individuals in Vallejo, Stockton, Fairfield, Oakland, Los Angeles, New York, and Oklahoma City. Some of those arrested are Vallejo-based rappers and associates of an entertainment label known as Thizz Entertainment.

Vallejo Police Chief Robert Nichelini stated, “This is another example of partnership that exists between the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Vallejo Police Department to improve the safety of our community and reduce the level of violence associated with drug dealing. We appreciate the efforts of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California in coordinating the investigation and prosecuting the persons involved in such a complex and dangerous criminal enterprise.”

During the investigation, agents seized approximately 45,000 MDMA pills, approximately four pounds of crack cocaine, a half-pound of heroin, and $200,000 in suspected drug proceeds. Agents also forfeited 230 acres of property valued at approximately $1 million as part of the investigation. As part of last Thursday’s takedown, agents executed three federal search warrants and seized approximately five pounds of marijuana, a loaded firearm, a 2010 Audi A6 with an estimated value of $60,000, and an Audi S5 with an estimated value of $50,000. Agents seized $67,238 in Vallejo and $6,831 in Sacramento for a total of $74,069 during the service of the federal search warrants.

According to the criminal complaints, the DEA-led investigation uncovered a network of drug distributors working in the Crest neighborhood of Vallejo, along with individuals transporting large quantities of drugs outside of California to realize a larger profit. A number of the subjects of the investigation performed as rappers under the entertainment label known as Thizz Entertainment. The origins of Thizz Entertainment can be traced back to the notorious Vallejo-based robbery crews known as the Romper Room Gang. The primary activities of the Romper Room Gang included armed bank robberies, drug trafficking, and murder. The Romper Room Gang was active throughout the late 1980s and 1990s. However, as a result of Vallejo police investigations with the assistance from federal law enforcement, many Romper Room Gang members were convicted of federal crimes and incarcerated for several years in the state and federal prison systems.

Some of the individuals charged in the criminal complaint are alleged to be former members of the Romper Room Gang. According to the complaint, Thizz Entertainment started in 1999 as a record label promoting and producing rap artists from the San Francisco Bay Area, primarily from the Crest neighborhood of their hometown of Vallejo. The name Thizz Entertainment originates from the term “thizz,” which is slang for the drug MDMA (also known as ecstasy). In many songs by artists on the Thizz Entertainment label, the lyrics glorify and promote the use and distribution of MDMA pills.

The complaint alleges that the targets of this investigation engaged in large-scale drug trafficking while also releasing rap albums under the Thizz Entertainment label. During the conspiracy, agents uncovered trafficking of MDMA, cocaine, cocaine base, heroin, Oxycodone, and marijuana, in violation of federal law. The complaint details drug shipments sent from the Vallejo area to Oklahoma City; Jamaica; Queens, New York; Atlanta; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The following individuals were charged with multiple counts of drug trafficking in the two federal criminal complaints:

Michael Lott, performs under the name “Miami the Most”

*Major Norton, performs under the name “Dubee”

*Lawrence Kennedy Nelson

Gaylord Franklin, performs under the name “Geezy”

Clifford Bullock

*Narco McFarland, Sr.

Latroy Cunningham

*Eric Robinson

Dante Barbarin

*Eileen Knight

Beshiba Cook

Bruce Thurmon, performs under the name “Little Bruce”

Damian Peterson

Mikel Brown

**Nicholas Ramirez

*Ung Duong

*Phat Nguyen

*Marcus Davis

**Tiffany Brown

Andre Cawthorne

*Michael Smiley

*Anthony Young

*Anthony Payton

*Arrested and detained in custody except where noted released.

**Arrested and released.

A preliminary hearing has been set for May 4, 2012.

This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the DEA Sacramento District Office, the Vallejo Police Department, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department, and the Sacramento FBI Safe Streets Task Force. Assistant United States Attorney Jason Hitt is prosecuting the case.

This case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.

When prosecuted in federal court, drug traffickers typically receive much harsher sentences. In addition to the longer sentences imposed, unlike state court prisoners who are released early on parole, there is no early release on parole in the federal system.

The charges are only allegations. Each of the defendants listed is presumed innocent, unless and until proven guilty.”

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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.


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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37 Alleged Members and Associates of an International Ethnic-Albanian Organized Crime Syndicate Arrested

July 13, 2011

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York on July 13, 2011 released the following press release:

Defendants Charged with Trafficking Cocaine, Marijuana, MDMA and Prescription Drugs, and Laundering Tens of Millions of Dollars in Narcotics Proceeds

An indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging 37 members and associates of an international drug trafficking syndicate led by ethnic Albanians located in the United States, Canada and Europe (the “syndicate”).[1] According to the indictment and a detention letter filed today by the government, the syndicate comprises several inter-related ethnic Albanian family clans (also known as “fis”) with hundreds of associated members, workers and customers spanning three continents. In operation for more than a decade, the syndicate is allegedly responsible for organizing the importation and distribution of tens of thousands of kilograms of hydroponic marijuana from Canada and Mexico, substantial quantities of MDMA from the Netherlands and Canada, hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Peru, and large quantities of diverted prescription pills, such as oxycodone. The drugs were distributed in various locations in the United States, including New York, California, Georgia, Colorado and Florida, as well as in Canada and Europe.

Most of the defendants were arrested earlier today in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island, Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Albany, New Jersey, Colorado and Florida. Federal agents also executed search warrants this morning on seven different syndicate-controlled stash houses and residences, recovering 18 firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Two defendants were arrested last month following a drug-related shooting, and several others are already in custody for previously charged crimes. One of the alleged ringleaders was arrested by law enforcement agents in Albania, and the United States has requested his extradition. Those defendants arrested today in the New York City metropolitan area will be arraigned later this afternoon before United States Magistrate Andrew L. Carter at the U.S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, in Brooklyn.

The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; John P. Gilbride, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, New York (DEA); James T. Hayes, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York; Raymond W. Kelly, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD); Charles R. Pine, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, New York (IRS); and Joseph A. D’Amico, Superintendent, New York State Police (NYSP). The investigation into Albanian organized crime groups operating throughout the world was led by the New York Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Strike Force,[2] Homeland Security Investigations and the New York State Police, in coordination with the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Committee (AGOCC), International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center (IOC2), as well as DEA’s Special Operations Division.

According to the indictment and other court filings submitted by the government, the four-year investigation revealed that most of the marijuana smuggled from Canada and Mexico was concealed in tractor trailers, typically in hundred pound quantities, with some shipments weighing as much as 1,200 pounds. The marijuana shipments were stored in warehouses and stash locations throughout Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, before distribution. Kilogram quantities of cocaine were obtained from sources in the United States and exported to Albania and other locations in Europe concealed in hidden compartments inside luxury automobiles – ostensibly under the auspices of legitimate car dealerships which were actually controlled by syndicate members. At the time of the arrests today, the syndicate was allegedly involved in negotiations to obtain hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from sources in South America for transport through the United States to Canada and Europe, including (1) a shipment of 100 kilograms of cocaine from Colombia to New York, which the defendants planned to break down into smaller shipments and smuggle into Canada in exchange for high-grade hydroponic marijuana; (2) a 100 kilogram shipment of cocaine from South America to Albania; (3) regular shipments of cocaine from Florida to New York; and (4) ongoing efforts to establish a pipeline to supply 40 kilograms of cocaine per month for distribution in Spain. According to the government’s pleadings and other court filings, the syndicate was also involved in obtaining large shipments of oxycodone, a highly addictive prescription medicine used to treat severe pain, and during the past year distributed thousands of oxycodone pills in New York which had been diverted from pain clinics in Florida.

The government’s investigation further revealed that the syndicate employed the services of a Canadian-based money laundering organization, which was allegedly responsible for laundering more than $15 million of the syndicate’s narcotics proceeds in a single year. Typically, the launderers picked up drug money in New York and transported it to Canadian and Mexican drug suppliers. The syndicate also sent millions of dollars in marijuana sale proceeds to co-conspirators on the West Coast of the United States to purchase cocaine from Mexican drug cartels. The cocaine was then allegedly transported across the border into Canada for distribution, with the proceeds to be used to fund subsequent marijuana purchases.

According to the government’s detention memorandum, several defendants are believed to have committed drug and organized-crime-related violence, including kidnaping and attempted murder. For example, on June 4, 2011, an escalating dispute between syndicate members over the payment of a drug debt led to a shooting outside a Bronx restaurant-bar, and a potential drug-related shooting was narrowly averted in October 2010, when law enforcement agents intercepted a syndicate member with a loaded firearm en route to rob a drug customer who owed him money from a prior drug deal.

As part of the government’s investigation of the syndicate, in separate incidents law enforcement seized:

943 pounds of marijuana imported from Mexico,

$209,000 in drug proceeds being transported to Mexico,

$140,000 in drug proceeds intended to be used as a down payment for a 200-kilogram cocaine deal,

20 pounds of marijuana during a car stop in Dutchess County,

290 pounds of marijuana from a Brooklyn warehouse operated by syndicate associates,

$1,271,394 in drug proceeds in Manhattan,

24 kilograms of liquid cocaine in Lima, Peru,

20 pounds of marijuana during a car stop in New Jersey,

a loaded handgun and $29,000 in drug proceeds from a residence in the Bronx,

$180,000 in drug proceeds in Manhattan,

a loaded firearm from a syndicate member in Yonkers, New York,

more than 150 marijuana plants from grow houses in Georgia and Florida operated by syndicate associates,

$1,041,990 in drug proceeds in Boston,

$155,000 in drug proceeds from a syndicate member in the Bronx, New York,

$497,955 in drug proceeds in California,

160 pounds of marijuana from a Brooklyn warehouse operated by syndicate associates,

$672,755 in drug proceeds in Los Angeles,

$210,280 in drug proceeds, 1 kilogram of cocaine and numerous firearms from a stash house in California operated by syndicate associates,

70 pounds of marijuana from a tractor trailer being driven from Toronto, Canada,

30 pounds of marijuana during a car stop in New Jersey,

$300,000 in drug proceeds on Long Island, and

70 pounds of marijuana from a tractor trailer being driven from Vancouver, Canada.

“As charged in the indictment, this syndicate spread its tentacles across continents, sending its ruinous product worldwide and reaping enormous profits. Its ten-year run has now come to an end,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “We and our partners in law enforcement are committed to investigating and prosecuting international drug traffickers and seizing the proceeds of their crimes. We remain relentless in this pursuit.” Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the DEA Special Operations Division, DEA Newark Division, DEA Denver Division, DEA Miami Division, DEA Albany District Office, DEA Rome Country Office, the HSI attache in Vienna, HSI attache in Toronto, HSI Albany Office, HSI Denver Office, HSI Newark Office, HSI Miami Office, the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Monmouth County (New Jersey) Prosecutor’s Office, the Westchester District Attorney’s Office and the New York Attorney General’s Office for their assistance.
DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Gilbride stated, “This alleged organized crime syndicate oversaw a drug distribution organization that operated across the globe. With a reach from Albania to Canada to New York and numerous cities throughout, law enforcement identified this criminal conspiracy as well as the violent acts committed in order to continue its drug distribution network. DEA’s Strike Force and our federal, state and local law enforcement partners were successful in dismantling the Thaqi organization and making an impact on the illicit drug trafficking across the nation.”

ICE/HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Hayes stated, “This alleged international drug ring was intent on filling the streets of America with poison. The arrests here and overseas serve as an example of the reach of the long arm of the law. HSI, working with its attaches and international and federal law enforcement partners, has contributed to the disruption of a crime syndicate that has allegedly lined its pockets with drug smuggling money for more than a decade.”

NYPD Commissioner Kelly stated, “The long reach of this criminal syndicate injected illegal drugs, including highly addictive oxycodone painkillers, into thousands of lives and subjected neighborhoods to violence ranging from kidnapings to attempted murder. With these arrests, we say good riddance.”

IRS Special Agent-in-Charge Pine stated, “IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to fighting the war on illegal drugs with our federal, state and local partners on the New York Organized Crime Strike Force. We are proud to lend our financial expertise to help disrupt drug trafficking organizations.”

NYSP Superintendent D’Amico stated, “I am proud of the dedicated investigative efforts of our agency personnel and law enforcement partners which have culminated in the indictment of these individuals, sizeable seizures of drugs and currency, and have effectively ended this syndicate’s operations.”

If convicted, the three alleged leaders of the syndicate, Gjavit Thaqi, Arif Kurti and Gjevelin Berisha, charged with operating a continuing criminal enterprise and using firearms in furtherance of their drug trafficking crimes, face a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment; the defendants charged in Counts Two through Seven, Ten and Eleven face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years (Counts Two through Seven), 15 years (Count Ten) and 20 years (Count Eleven); and the defendants charged in Counts Eight and Nine face a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Steven Tiscione, Richard Tucker, Gina Parlovecchio, Michael Yaeger and Claire Kedeshian.

The Defendants:

GJAVIT THAQI
Age: 40

ARIF KURTI
Age: 41

GJEVALIN BERISHA
Age: 31

CARLOS ALVAREZ
Age: 28

SHKELQIM BAKRAQI
Age: 25

ROBERT BONURA
Age: 32

JOHN CEKAJ
Age: 41

MARTINO CEKAJ
Age: 33

GIOVANNI DIFUCCIA
Age: 38

BRIAN DUBLYNN
Age: 34

ARVY EBRAHIME
Age: 29

HECTOR FLORES
Age: 39

ANGELO GERMANO
Age: 37

JETON GJIDIJA
Age: 33

LEE KARAQI
Age: 36

ROBERT KARAQI
Age: 39

HASAN KURTI
Age: 40

IBRAHIM KURTI
Age: 38

BAJRAM LAJQI
Age: 36

SELMAN LAJQI
Age: 39

ALESSANDRO LATINO
Age: 35

LAURETTA LOKAJ
Age: 40

NIKOLA LUKAJ
Age: 39

NICHOLAS MASI
Age: 49

DAVID MCLEAN
Age: 45

FATMIR MEHMETI
Age: 33

FAIK MEHMETI
Age: 36

NEFAIL MEHOVIC
Age: 27

VALTER MEMIA
Age: 28

ALBERTO MERCADO
Age: 41

MAGDALENA NIKOLLAJ
Age: 38

MAL REXHA
Age: 49

ROBERT RUDAJ
Age: 37

LANCE SCHONER
Age: 27

LESTER ZABORSKI
Age: 38

AGRON ZENELAJ
Age: 32

DARIUS RIVERA
Age: 38

_____________________________
1 The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

2 The Strike Force comprises agents and officers of the DEA, NYPD, ICE/HSI, NYSP, IRS, United States Marshals Service and the United States Attorney’s Office. The Strike Force is partially funded by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which is a federally funded crime fighting initiative.”

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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