“End Of The Silk Road: FBI Says It’s Busted The Web’s Biggest Anonymous Drug Black Market”

October 3, 2013
Ross William Ulbricht
“Ross William Ulbricht, alleged to be the “Dread Pirate Roberts” behind Silk Road’s drug black market.”

Forbes on October 2, 2013 released the following:

By: Andy Greenberg, Forbes Staff

“After two and a half years running the booming anonymous narcotics bazaar known as the Silk Road, the drug kingpin who called himself the Dread Pirate Roberts has allegedly been unmasked.

On Wednesday, the FBI announced that they arrested 29-year-old Ross William Ulbricht, the Silk Road’s accused administrator, in the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library at 3:15 Pacific time on Tuesday. Ulbricht has been charged with engaging in a money laundering and narcotics trafficking conspiracy as well as computer hacking. The Department of Justice has seized the website of the Silk Road’s as well as somewhere between $3.5 to 4 million in bitcoins, the cryptographic currency used to buy drugs on the Silk Road.

Earlier this summer, the Silk Road’s administrator calling himself by the Dread Pirate Roberts pseudonym gave his first extended interview to Forbes over the same Tor anonymity network that has hosted the Silk Road and its users since the site’s creation in early 2011.

Forbes estimated at the time that the Silk Road was earning between $30 and $45 million in annual revenue. In fact, the number may have been far larger: The criminal complaint against Ulbricht states that the Silk Road turned over $1.2 billion in revenue since its creation, and generated $80 million commissions for its operator or operators.

“This is supposed to be some invisible black market bazaar. We made it visible,” says an FBI spokesperson, who asked not to be named. “When you interviewed [Ulbricht], he said he would never be arrested. But no one is beyond the reach of the FBI. We will find you.”

The FBI hasn’t yet revealed how it managed to track down Ulbricht in spite of his seemingly careful use of encryption and anonymity tools to protect his identity and those of his customers and vendors who visited Silk Road as often as 60,000 times per day. The FBI spokesperson declined to offer details about the investigation, but told me that “basically he made a simple mistake and we were able to identify him.”

One clue mentioned in the criminal complaint against Ulbricht was a package seized from the mail by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol as it crossed the Canadian border, containing nine seemingly counterfeit identification documents, each of which used a different name but featured Ulbricht’s photograph. The address on the package was on 15th street in San Francisco, where police found Ulbricht and matched his face to the one on the fake IDs.

The complaint also mentions security mistakes, including an IP address for a VPN server used by Ulbricht listed in the code on the Silk Road, mentions of time in the Dread Pirate Roberts’ posts on the site that identified his time zone, and postings on the Bitcoin Talk forum under the handle “altoid,” which was tied to Ulbricht’s Gmail address.

In his conversation with me, which took place on July 4th, the Silk Road administrator calling himself the Dread Pirate Roberts espoused Libertarian ideals and claimed that the use of Bitcoin in combination with Tor had stymied law enforcement and “won the State’s War on Drugs.”

He also said he intended to bring his marketplace into mainstream awareness, and had recently launched the first non-Tor website for the Silk Road known as SilkRoadlink, which remains online. “Up until now I’ve done my best to keep Silk Road as low profile as possible … letting people discover [it] through word of mouth,” Roberts says. “At the same time, Silk Road has been around two and a half years. We’ve withstood a lot, and it’s not like our enemies are unaware any longer.”

One remaining mystery in Ulbricht’s criminal complaint is whether he was in fact the only–or the original–Dread Pirate Roberts. In his July interview with me, Roberts said that he had in fact inherited the Dread Pirate title from the site’s creator, who may have also used the same pseudonym.

As of around noon Wednesday, the Silk Road’s forum for users also remained online, and the site’s loyal users were grieving over the Silk Road takedown and mourning the arrest of Ulbricht, whose apparent persona as the Dread Pirate Roberts was a widely respected figure in the online drug community.

“jesus christ this is TERRIBLE!!” wrote one user named danceandsing. Others suggested that users migrate to other, smaller but similar anonymous black markets such as Black Market Reloaded–another popular alternative to the Silk Road known as Atlantis went offline last week, with its administrators saying only that they shut down the business for “security reasons.”

Another user blamed the Dread Pirate Roberts’ carelessness, including his decision to raise his profile by giving an interview to Forbes. “Sorry, but when he gave the fucking Forbes interview I imagined this would be coming,” wrote a user calling himself Dontek. “Should have kept all this shit on the down low rather than publicly bragging about it.”

Ulbricht’s LinkedIn profile describes his background as a graduate researcher in materials science at Pennsylvania State University, as well as an undergrad degree in physics from the University of Texas at Dallas.

According to Ulbricht’s grandmother, Martha Ulbricht, who was reached by phone, the younger Ulbricht received a full scholarship to UT Dallas. “Ross has always been an upstanding person as far as we know and a rather outstanding person,” she said.

Ulbricht’s half-brother Travis Ulbricht, also reached by phone in Sacramento, described him as an “exceptionally bright, smart kid” who had no criminal history to his knowledge.

Asked what he did for a living before moving to San Francisco, Ulbricht’s grandmother said, “Something on the computer…a little technical for me. He was good with computers.””

Federal Criminal Case 1: New York Federal Criminal Complaint
Northern District of California, Case No.: 3:13-mj-71218-JCS-1 (Proceedings on Out-of-District Criminal Charges Pursuant to Rules 5(c)(2) and (3)) and lists the following case on the docket sheet: Southern District of New York, Case No.: 13-mj-2328

21 U.S.C. 846 – Drug Conspiracy
18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(2) – Computer Hacking Conspiracy
18 U.S.C. 1956(a)(1)(A)(i) and (B)(i) – Money Laundering Conspiracy

Ross William Ulbricht New York Criminal Complaint

Federal Criminal Case 2: Maryland Federal Indictment
District of Maryland, Case No.: 1:13-cr-00222-CCB-1

21 U.S.C. 846 – Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance
18 U.S.C. 1512(a)(1)(C) – Attempted Witness Murder; 18 U.S.C. 2 – Aiding and Abetting
18 U.S.C. 1958(a) – Use of Interstate Commerce Facilities in Commission of a Murder-for-hire; 18 U.S.C. 2 – Aiding and Abetting

Ross William Ulbricht Maryland Superseding Indictment

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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

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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.


“Mexico frees drug lord Caro Quintero after 28 years in prison for killing of U.S. agent”

August 12, 2013

The Washington Post on August 9, 2013 released the following:

“By Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — Infamous drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero walked free Friday after 28 years in prison when a court overturned his 40-year sentence for the 1985 kidnapping and killing of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent, a brutal murder that marked a low point in U.S.-Mexico relations.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Friday it was extremely disappointed by the release of the man convicted in the killing of DEA agent Enrique Camarena, calling it “deeply troubling.”

Mexico’s Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said in a statement that he was “worried” about the court’s decision, adding that his office is analyzing whether there are any charges pending against Caro Quintero.

Caro Quintero, 60, was a founding member of one of Mexico’s earliest and biggest drug cartels. The court ruled Wednesday that he had been improperly tried in a federal court for a crime that should have been treated as a state offense. Prison officials were notified of the ruling on Thursday, and an official at the Jalisco state prosecutors’ office said the drug lord left prison before dawn on Friday. The official was not authorized to speak on the record.

News media were not alerted until hours after the release, and U.S. authorities apparently received no prior notification.

“The Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration learned today that early this morning Rafael Caro Quintero was released from prison,” said Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr.

The DEA, meanwhile, said it “will vigorously continue its efforts to ensure Caro-Quintero faces charges in the United States for the crimes he committed. “

Caro Quintero still faces charges in the United States, but Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office said it was unclear whether there was a current extradition request.

Apparently, the U.S. had requested his extradition for the Camarena killing — something Caro Quintero can’t be tried twice for — but may not have filed extradition requests for pending U.S. drug charges.

The U.S. Department of Justice said it “has continued to make clear to Mexican authorities the continued interest of the United States in securing Caro Quintero’s extradition so that he might face justice in the United States. “

Caro Quintero helped establish a powerful cartel based in the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa that later split into some of Mexico’s largest cartels, including the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels.

He is still listed as one of the DEA’s five top international fugitives, and U.S. authorities believe he continued to control the laundering of drug money from behind bars.

“Caro Quintero continues to launder the proceeds from narcotics trafficking and he maintains an alliance with drug trafficking organizations such as the Sinaloa Cartel, most notably with Esparragoza Moreno’s network,” said Treasury Department spokesman John Sullivan, referring to Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno, also known as “El Azul,” or “Blue” because of the dark color of his skin, who is allegedly a top leader of the Sinaloa cartel.

In June, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions against 18 people and 15 companies that allegedly moved money for Caro Quintero.

“Caro Quintero has used a network of family members and front persons to invest his fortune into ostensibly legitimate companies and real estate projects in the city of Guadalajara” said Adam Szubin, Director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. Caro Quintero has spent almost his entire sentence at a prison on the outskirts of that city, Mexico’s second-largest city.

Mexico’s relations with Washington were badly damaged when Caro Quintero ordered Camarena kidnapped, tortured and killed, purportedly because he was angry about a raid on a 220-acre (89-hectare) marijuana plantation in central Mexico named “Rancho Bufalo” — Buffalo Ranch — that was seized by Mexican authorities at Camarena’s insistence.

Camarena was kidnapped on Feb. 7, 1985, in Guadalajara, a major drug trafficking center. His body and that of his Mexican pilot, both showing signs of torture, were found a month later, buried in shallow graves.

American officials accused their Mexican counterparts of letting Camarena’s killers get away. Caro Quintero was eventually hunted down in Costa Rica.

At one point, U.S. Customs agents almost blocked the U.S. border with Mexico, slowing incoming traffic to a standstill while conducting searches of all Mexicans trying to enter the United States.

Camarena’s fellow DEA agents considered him a hero in the war against drug trafficking and the El Paso Intelligence Center, where U.S. federal agencies collect information about Mexican drug barons, is dedicated to him.

Times have changed since the low point, and cooperation has strengthened, but Caro Quintero’s release Friday reopened old wounds.

Edward Heath, the former DEA regional director for Mexico at the time of the Camarena killing who was present during the identification of the agent’s body from dental records, said the release reflected a broader lack of cooperation with the U.S. from the new Mexican government, a contrast to the policy of former President Felipe Calderon.

“You had a president that was working very close with our government in a quiet way. These people come in and so, boom, the curtain comes down,” said Heath, now a private security consultant. “It means a disrespect for our government.”

He said he was skeptical of the explanation that there was a justifiable legal rationale for Caro Quintero’s release.

“There’s some collusion going on,” he said. “This guy is a major trafficker. This guy is bad, a mean son of a gun.”

Caro Quintero is said to have pioneered links between Colombian cocaine cartels and the Mexican smugglers who transport their drugs into the United States.

The ruling left many wondering why it took so many years for judges to determine Caro Quintero was tried in the wrong court.

“They were always ‘political’ prisoners serving sentences for as long as the U.S. kept up the pressure,” said a former DEA official who once worked in Mexico. He is not authorized to talk about the case because he still does work in Mexico.

“The bribe money to get them out was always there. Mexican ‘justice’ is always built on very weak foundations. And they seem to like it that way. Sad,” he added.

Raul Benitez, a security expert at Mexico’s National Autonomous University, said the ruling may portend more such procedural rulings following the January freeing of French citizen Florence Cassez, who was convicted in Mexico for being part of a kidnapping ring.

The Frenchwoman served seven years of a 60-year sentence before Mexico’s Supreme Court voted 3-2 to release her in January because of procedural and rights violations during her arrest, including police staging a recreation of her capture for the media.

“What appears to be coming is an avalanche of judicial appeals, with the drug traffickers hiring very good, very expensive lawyers, arguing there were violations of due process,” said Benitez. “The government is going to have problems.”

Mexican courts and prosecutors have long tolerated illicit evidence such as forced confessions and have frequently based cases on questionable testimony or hearsay. Such practices have been banned by recent judicial reforms, but past cases — including those against high-level drug traffickers — are often rife with such legal violations.

“The government has to be prepared to keep an eye on judges so that they don’t fall into the easy argument of due process,” Benitez said, “because there may also be judges who are receiving money” to accept such arguments.”

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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.


Four Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Parole Officers Charged with Allegedly Accepting Payoffs

July 1, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on July 1, 2013 released the following:

“HOUSTON—Four parole officers from two Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) offices in Houston have been indicted for accepting payoffs from parolees, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today, along with FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris; Brad Livingston, TDCJ Executive Director; and Bruce Toney, Inspector General of TDCJ-Office of Inspector General (OIG).

“Public officials suspected of corruption can undermine our trust and confidence in government and can tarnish virtually every aspect of American society,” said Morris. “Despite the fact that the vast majority of our country’s public officials are honest hard-working Americans who have dedicated their lives to serve the American people, there are unfortunately a small number who allegedly make decisions for the wrong reasons. The FBI will continue to pursue public corruption as a top priority and encourages anyone with information about potential wrongdoing by a public official to please contact the FBI.”

April L. Carson, 35, of Missouri City, and Crystal M. Washington, aka Crystal Bureau, 52, of Houston, were employed at the TDCJ office located at 2410 Hamilton Street in Houston; while Darlene J. Muhammad, 42, and Ernie Rogers, 56, both of Houston, worked at the Houston TDCJ Parole Office at 8345 Telephone Road.

The four were taken into custody today and are expected to make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge George Hanks at 2:00 p.m. this afternoon.

“These arrests are the result of an effective partnership with TDCJ-OIG and other law enforcement entities,” said Livingston. “We fully support their efforts to investigate, arrest, and ultimately prosecute employees that are suspected of breaking the law.”

The indictment, unsealed today, indicates all the defendants are responsible for the supervision of inmates within the state of Texas. Included in this responsibility is the supervision of parolees who travel between states and the supervision of their activities to ensure they do not engage in criminal conduct.

Each parole officer named in the indictment allegedly chose to accept money from a parolee in order to allow the parolee to continue his/her illegal narcotics trafficking and distribution activity. Specifically, the indictment alleges each officer accepted payoffs from parolees in the amount of $1,000 to $3,000 on at least one occasion in order to allow them to continue their criminal behavior.

“The alleged actions of these employees can erode the public’s confidence and damage the integrity of parole officers across the state that perform their duties faithfully every day,” said Toney. “We are committed to rooting out suspected corruption within the criminal justice system.”

If convicted, each faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment and a possible $250,000 fine.

Anyone suspecting criminal activity or abuse within the TDCJ can make a report by calling the toll-free TDCJ waste/fraud abuse hotline at 1-866-372-8329.

The operation was a combined public corruption task force effort conducted by the FBI, Texas Rangers, Houston Police Department and Office of Inspector General for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The case is being prosecuted by Southern District of Texas with the assistance of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.”

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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.


In the Eastern District of Arkansas Sixteen Defendants Have Been Charged in an Alleged Cocaine Conspiracy

May 15, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 14, 2013 released the following:

“Sixteen Defendants, Including Mexican Drug Cartel Members, Charged in Cocaine Conspiracy

Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas and Randall C. Coleman, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Little Rock Field Office, announce that a 25-count indictment handed down by a federal grand jury on May 2, 2013, was unsealed today charging sixteen defendants in Arkansas, Texas, and Mexico with multiple drug offenses. The indictment alleges the lead defendant, Idalia Ramos Rangel, a/k/a La Tia or Big Momma, is a high-ranking member of the Gulf Cartel who directs a drug trafficking organization based in Matamoros, Mexico. That organization is responsible for the distribution of multiple hundreds of kilograms of cocaine in the United States.

The indictment is the result of a large-scale investigation into cocaine and narcotics trafficking from Mexico to Arkansas. Agents determined that Rangel’s drug trafficking organization is responsible for delivery of more than one hundred kilograms of cocaine in Arkansas. The charges in the indictment include conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, distribution of cocaine, and use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime. All 16 defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine. If convicted of conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine, each defendant will face a sentence of not less than 10 years to life imprisonment.

“The arrests made in this case have dismantled a primary supply of cocaine into the State of Arkansas,” stated Thyer. “From the Gulf Cartel to prison to the streets of Central Arkansas, this was not a typical case to investigate. I want to thank the FBI for their leadership in this investigation. I also want to acknowledge the significant investigative work the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Little Rock Police Department provided. Those who do business with drug cartels should be on notice that law enforcement is investigating and will commit the resources necessary to punish them for their illegal trafficking.”

“Today, a strong group of dedicated federal, state, and local law enforcement officials—from Arkansas to Texas—came together to disrupt a criminal drug enterprise directly linked to the Gulf Cartel,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Randall Coleman. “It was simply a case of outstanding teamwork. In Arkansas, we will continue to work together to disrupt and dismantle those groups who choose to conduct their criminal enterprise activities here.”

According to the indictment, Rangel’s family members are alleged to be involved in the drug distribution conspiracy. Her son, Mohammed Kazam Martinez, a/k/a Mo, a federal inmate in the Bureau of Prisons, recruited inmates in the Federal Correctional Complex at Forrest City, Arkansas, to distribute Rangel’s Gulf Cartel cocaine upon their release from prison. Those inmates included Emmanuel Ilo, a/k/a Chi Chi or Chi, and Mervin Johnson, a/k/a Slim, who the indictment alleges began distributing kilogram and multi-ounce quantities of the cocaine in Central Arkansas upon their release from federal prison. Mohammed Martinez communicated with members of this drug trafficking organization using the prison telephone and e-mail systems to coordinate the distribution of cocaine to, and the collection of drug proceeds from, former federal inmates and others. Another of Rangel’s sons, Homar Martinez, and one of her daughters, Nishme Martinez, are also charged as part of the conspiracy.

The indictment alleges that Ilo distributed Rangel’s Gulf Cartel cocaine to Dwatney Noid; Dwight McLittle, a/k/a D.A.; Lamont Williams, a/k/a Peter Rabbit; Gerard Trice, a/k/a Fly; Tarvars Honorable, a/k/a Pudgy; and others for redistribution to customers in the Eastern District of Arkansas. The FBI made multiple controlled purchases of cocaine in Central Arkansas totaling more than one kilogram during the investigation of this case.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI, with substantial assistance from the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Little Rock Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Gordon and Chris Givens.

An indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

U.S. Attorney’s Office News Release

Defendants/Charges
Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine:

  • Idalia Ramos Rangel, 57, Matamoros, Mexico
  • *Mohammed Kazam Martinez, 31, Beaumount, Texas
  • *Emanuel Ilo, 34, Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Mervin Johnson, 37, Little Rock, Arkansas
  • *Homar Martinez, 31, Brownsville, Texas
  • Manuel Garza, 31, Brownsville, Texas
  • *Jaime Benevides, 27, Austin, Texas
  • *Nishme Martinez, 26, Austin, Texas
  • *Denice Duran Martinez, 34, Brownsville, Texas
  • *Yadira Anahy Martinez, 36, Brownsville, Texas
  • Dwatney Noid, 30, Little Rock, Arkansas
  • *Dwight McLittle, 27, Little Rock, Arkansas
  • *Shanieka Tatum, 35, Little Rock, Arkansas
  • *Lamont Williams, 34, Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Gerard Trice, 29, Little Rock, Arkansas
  • *Tarvars Honorable, 33, Little Rock, Arkansas

* Denotes individual is in custody.

In addition to the conspiracy charges, the following defendants are also charged with the following crimes:

  • Emanuel Ilo: distribution of cocaine (six counts) and use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (two counts)
  • Mervin Johnson: distribution of cocaine (one count)
  • Dwatney Noid: distribution of cocaine (two counts) and use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (two counts)
  • Dwight McLittle: distribution of cocaine (six counts)
  • Shanieka Tatum: use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (three counts)
  • Lamont Williams: use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (two counts)
  • Gerard Trice: use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (two counts)
  • Tarvars Honorable: distribution of cocaine base (one count) and use of a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking crime (one count).

Statutory Sentences

Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine is punishable by not less than 10 years, not more than life, incarceration in the Bureau of Prisons with a possible fine of up to $10,000,000, and not less than five years’ supervised release.

Possession with intent to distribute less than 500 grams of cocaine or less than 28 grams of cocaine base is punishable by not more than 20 years’ incarceration in the Bureau of Prisons with a possible fine of up to $1,000,000 and not less than three years’ supervised release.

Use of a communication facility to facilitate a drug trafficking crime are not more than four years’ incarceration in the Bureau of Prisons with a possible fine of up to $250,000 and not more than one year supervised release.”

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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.


ICE Leads A Federal Investigation and Arrests 9 in an Alleged Drug Trafficking Ring

May 2, 2013

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on May 1, 2013 released the following:

“9 defendants indicted in far-reaching cocaine and meth distribution scheme

LOS ANGELES — A federal investigation into a drug-trafficking organization led by two brothers who oversaw the distribution of cocaine to Italy and across the United States as well as methamphetamine being trafficked across the U.S. – has led to the indictment of nine defendants, three of whom were arrested Wednesday.

Operation “Family Guy” targeted the Urena family drug-trafficking organization through the use of undercover operatives and wiretaps that led to the interception of telephone calls, text messages, and communications sent through BlackBerry Messenger. The probe was conducted by the Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, including the Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; and IRS – Criminal Investigation. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and Whittier Police Department also assisted with the case.

The investigation, which culminated with the issuance of a seven-count grand jury indictment April 24, resulted in the seizure of approximately 40 kilograms of cocaine being smuggled into Italy from the Dominican Republic and Mexico. That cocaine was being transported by female drug couriers allegedly recruited by the two Urena brothers, with assistance from their uncle Francisco Javier Vargas-Oseguera and others. The investigation also uncovered a conspiracy to distribute significant quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine throughout the United States using vehicles with hidden compartments.

The indictment also alleges members of the narcotics-trafficking operation laundered drug proceeds from the Dominican Republic through the use of Western Union wire transfers sent to Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga.

Those named in the indictment unsealed Wednesday are:

  • Milton Urena, 29, of the Dominican Republic, who is currently being sought by authorities;
  • Rafael Urena, 27, of Rancho Cucamonga, Milton Urena’s brother, who was arrested Wednesday;
  • Daniel Alejandro Agredano Vazquez, 22, of the Dominican Republic, who allegedly oversaw the distribution of cocaine from the Dominican Republic to Italy and conspired to launder drug proceeds. He is currently being sought by authorities;
  • Francisco Javier Vargas-Oseguera, 51, an uncle of the Urena brothers, previously of Seattle and recently of Fontana. He is currently in federal custody in Seattle after being charged in federal court there for allegedly possessing eight pounds of methamphetamine in a case unrelated to Operation Family Guy;
  • Leonel Urena-Partida, 49, of Guadalajara, Mexico, another uncle of the Urena brothers, who allegedly conspired to transport cocaine to Italy. He is being sought by authorities;
  • Carmen Garcia, 35, of San Bernardino, allegedly supplied methamphetamine and assisted with the recruitment of drug couriers, who was arrested Wednesday;
  • Eliseo Carrillo Duarte, 45, of Montebello, who is currently in federal custody in Indianapolis after being arrested there in March on unrelated drug-trafficking charges stemming from the seizure of approximately 10 pounds of methamphetamine;
  • Jenna Michelle Martin (also known as Jenna Michelle Smith), 25, of Upland, an alleged drug courier who was arrested Wednesday; and
  • Beth Rene Ford (also known as Beth Rene Florance), 26, formerly of Ontario and now living in the Denver area, a second alleged drug courier, who is expected to self-surrender soon to authorities.

The defendants arrested Wednesday morning are expected to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

The indictment specifically charges eight defendants (not Duarte) with conspiracy to distribute cocaine to Italy, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Six of the defendants (not Agredano Vasquez, Martin or Ford) are charged in another conspiracy involving the domestic distribution of cocaine and methamphetamine, a charge that also carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

Various defendants are also named in a charge that alleges the distribution of approximately one pound of methamphetamine, three counts of use of a communication facility in committing a felony drug offense, and conspiracy to launder money.”

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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

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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 Indictments Charge 36 Hartford-Area Defendants Alleging Narcotics Trafficking and Firearm Offenses

May 14, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 11, 2012 released the following:

“David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Kimberly K. Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, today announced that a federal grand jury sitting in Hartford has returned three indictments charging 36 individuals with various offenses related to the distribution of crack cocaine and the unlawful possession and dealing of firearms in and around Hartford. The third indictment was unsealed on May 9, 2012 after 10 of the defendants were arrested.

These indictments stem from Operation Vinefield, a joint law enforcement investigation headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force, targeting narcotics trafficking and gang violence in Hartford’s North End. The nine-month investigation included the use of court-authorized wiretaps, controlled purchases of crack cocaine, and physical surveillance. “I want to acknowledge the hard work and full commitment of the FBI, the Hartford Police Department, the Connecticut State Police, and the Connecticut Department of Correction in the lengthy investigation of this matter and the arrests of these defendants,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal partners will continue to work with local and state law enforcement to bring narcotics and firearms traffickers to justice and to help free communities of gang violence.”

“The FBI is committed to working with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to address violent crime in Connecticut’s cities, and I want to recognize and express appreciation for the invaluable work of the Connecticut State Police, the Hartford Police Department, and the Connecticut Department of Correction,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Mertz.

On March 7, 2012, the grand jury returned an indictment charging the following 12 individuals with various narcotics offenses related to crack cocaine trafficking in the lower Vine Street area of Hartford:

JOSHUA EASTERLING, a.k.a. “Skeet,” “Squash,” and “SQ,” 25, of Hartford;

JAMES PERKINS, a.k.a. “Slugger,” 25, of East Hartford;

JUAN CARTAGENA, 27, of Hartford;

MORRIS CARTER, III, a.k.a. “Chilly Mo, Jr.” and “Mo,” 23, of Hartford;

ANTHONY HENRY, a.k.a. “Tone” and “Mack,” 21, of Hartford;

EVERTON GUNTER, a.k.a. “Little Ev” and “Ev,” 21, of Hartford;

EBONY MOORE, a.k.a. “Eb,” 35, of Hartford;

ERIC GOMES, a.k.a. “Goober Dust,” 45, of Hartford;

KYSHIIFA BOYD, a.k.a. “Ky,” 22, of Hartford;

MORRIS CARTER, JR., a.k.a. “Chilly Mo” and “Mo,” 43, of Hartford;

HASSAN MUHAMMAD, JR., a.k.a. “Hadie,” 22, of Hartford; and

SHAKIM WHITE, a.k.a. “Country” and “Lil Weezie,” 27, of Meriden.

On April 4, 2012, the grand jury returned an indictment charging the following five individuals with various narcotics offenses related to crack cocaine trafficking:

DEMENTRIUS NAVE, a.k.a. “Cunny,” 33, of Hartford and West Hartford;

TYRONE CRUMP, a.k.a. “KT,” 27, of Hartford;

JUSTIN POWELL, a.k.a. “Jus,” 30, of Hartford;

RAKENT BUNKLEY, a.k.a. “Kent” and “Kent Street,” 23, of Hartford; and

KEVIN ALLEN, 40, of Hartford.

On May 3, 2012, the grand jury returned an indictment charging the following 19 individuals with various offenses related to crack cocaine trafficking and the unlawful possession and distribution of firearms, principally in the area of Enfield Street in Hartford:

CLINTON HILL WESTON, a.k.a. “Ack,” 35, of Hartford;

DANA ADAMS, a.k.a. “Soul,” 42, of Hartford;

NIDA WILLIAMS, a.k.a. “Nija Williams” and “N-Dog,” 34, of Bloomfield;

DERRICK BAILY, a.k.a. “Fry,” 43, of Hartford;

JUSTIN STEPHENSON, a.k.a. “Face,” 25, of Hartford;

MONGO COLEMAN, 38, of Hartford;

MICHAEL BETHEA, a.k.a. “Lil Tren” and “Lil Train,” 44, of New Britain;

MICHAEL BROCKMAN, 41, of Hartford;

EARL DAVIS, 53, of Hartford;

JAEQWAN SHEPPARD, a.k.a. “Quanny” and “Q,” 29, of Hartford;

VASHAWN RAY, 24, of Hartford;

JEFFREY FANIEL, 30, of Hartford;

KEWAN WOODSON, a.k.a. “Piggy” and “Pig,” 19, of Hartford;

REUBEN HARRIS, a.k.a. “Rube,” 41, of Hartford;

MORRIS HARMON, JR., a.k.a. “Smooth,” 53, of Hartford;

PATRICK ROGERS, 22, of Hartford;

JOHNNY ROSA, a.k.a. “Johnny J” and “Johnny G,” 19, of East Hartford;

EARL PATRICK, 47, of Hartford;

JAYQUAN FANIEL, 27, of Hartford; and

STEPHEN TERRILL, 39, of Glastonbury.

If convicted, a number of the defendants face a minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a maximum term of life, and fines of up to $10 million. Due to prior narcotics trafficking convictions, a number of defendants face increased penalties.

U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force, the Connecticut State Police, the Hartford Police Department, and the Connecticut Department of Correction. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brian P. Leaming.”

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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.


Tax Crimes Least Likely To Be Prosecuted At U.S. Attorney’s Office In Los Angeles

April 16, 2012

Huffington Post on April 16, 2012 released the following:

“By Kendall Taggart

The U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles is less likely to prosecute criminal cases referred by the Internal Revenue Service than its counterparts in the rest of the state, according to a California Watch analysis of five years of data.

The eastern district, which includes Sacramento and Fresno, was the most likely to prosecute IRS referrals, the data shows. But the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles was the only office in the state that fell slightly below the national average of prosecuting criminal IRS cases.

Each U.S. attorney has broad discretion over the priorities for his or her district. They determine which criminal cases referred to them by other law enforcement agencies they want to pursue and which cases to close without prosecuting.

It is difficult to determine why the Los Angeles office lagged behind its peers.

“It’s definitely puzzling,” said Terree Bowers, a former U.S. attorney. Since leaving the Los Angeles office, Bowers said he brought a fraud case to the office’s attention and was surprised that it didn’t act on the case.

The agency did not comment specifically on the findings, but Bruce Riordan, a U.S. attorney’s office spokesman, said: “I have been associated with the Department of Justice and the Central District of California for more 20 years, and based on my experience, the Central District has a longstanding and well-deserved reputation, both locally and nationally, for vigorously and successfully prosecuting criminal tax violations.”

The IRS investigates and refers cases about tax fraud, money laundering, narcotics trafficking, organized crime and public corruption.

Compared with the volume of cases it handles, the IRS refers only a small percentage for federal prosecution. Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which compiled the data analyzed by California Watch, estimated that the odds of having the IRS refer a case to a federal prosecutor were about 12 per million nationwide last year.

In California, the IRS referred about 540 cases to federal prosecutors in the last fiscal year. When adjusted for population, the odds of having a case referred to a federal prosecutor in the state are 15 per million, slightly higher than the national average.

When they do receive cases from the IRS, three of the state’s four U.S. attorneys prosecute alleged offenders at a rate above the national average, the data shows.

Across the country, close to 54 percent of all IRS referrals are prosecuted. In the eastern district covering Sacramento, that prosecution rate is about 62 percent. For the northern San Francisco and the southern San Diego districts, the prosecution rate is the same: 57.8 percent. For Los Angeles, the rate falls to 51.4 percent.

The IRS has several ways of enforcing tax law, including audits and civil charges.

“The heavy gun of the IRS is criminal enforcement, but it’s a much less frequent event,” said David Burnham, a co-director of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

The federal tax filing deadline is tomorrow. But in the months leading up to that day, U.S. attorneys sometimes file several tax fraud indictments as a deterrent, Bowers said.

Since January, the U.S. attorney’s eastern district office has announced more than six fraud cases, including charges against three Sacramento women who are accused of trying to claim more than $1.3 million in fraudulent tax refunds. The scheme involved more than 280 false tax returns and numerous identify-theft victims.

According the the U.S. attorney’s office, the women filed fraudulent returns through TurboTax and obtained the tax service’s Green Dot debit cards “loaded with the tax return money.” The actual loss to the IRS was $962,079, out of the $1.3 million claimed by the women using various identities.

And late last month, the Los Angeles office announced that a former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, William S. Bene, had signed a plea agreement admitting that he did not pay taxes for an illegal business selling karaoke machines. The U.S. attorney’s office said Bene sold counterfeit karaoke jukeboxes and failed to report $600,000 in sales to the IRS.

As part of his plea agreement, the U.S. attorney said, Bene admitted he had illegally copied and sold karaoke songs on hard drives that each carried about 122,000 songs.

“Intellectual Property crimes are not victimless,” U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. said in a statement last month. “As this federal case shows, these crimes of stealth hurt the small businesses that do play by the rules, and they also deprive the federal government of tax revenue that could be put to beneficial use.””

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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

————————————————————–

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.