Feds: Trafficking ring busted smuggling kids over U.S.-Canadian border

June 8, 2012

SeattlePI.com on June 7, 2012 released the following:

“16 indicted; SeaTac motel owner faces prison is scheme
By LEVI PULKKINEN, SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF

Federal investigators have cracked a human trafficking ring thought to have smuggled dozens of illegal immigrants – including children traveling alone – over the Canadian border.

Having indicted 16 suspects in recent months, federal prosecutors in Seattle contend the loosely knit group brought more than 70 people into the United States from India, Pakistan and South Korea. Once inside the country, they were driven or flown to at least six states, including Illinois, Texas, New York and Massachusetts.

The operation – broken up by an informant and ultimately infiltrated by an undercover federal agent – was apparently lucrative for its leaders. A SeaTac hotel owner who moved and housed the smuggling ring’s customers was paid $1,000 a head just for a ride south from the U.S. side of the border.

Since the string of indictments, 11 of the 12 defendants have pleaded guilty to related charges. The other four are not yet in federal custody, according to court records.”

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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

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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.


Twenty-Eight Arrested in Alleged Honduran-Based Cocaine Trafficking Ring

May 10, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 10, 2012 released the following:

“ALEXANDRIA, VA— Twenty-eight individuals have been arrested for their alleged roles in a cocaine trafficking ring based in Northern Virginia that uses couriers to regularly import large amounts of cocaine from Honduras hidden in shoes and decorative wooden frames. Members of the trafficking ring have allegedly wired more than $1 million from the United States back to cocaine suppliers in Honduras.

Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the charges became public.

“Through creativity and coordination, this tight network of Honduran immigrants allegedly distributed vast amounts of cocaine throughout Northern Virginia and across the mid-Atlantic,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “Thanks to close partnerships among law enforcement, we were able to put together the case that led to today’s charges.”

“These individuals face charges for their alleged involvement in a drug trafficking ring that brought large amounts of cocaine into our communities,” said Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin. “Together with our law enforcement partners, the FBI will continue to target international drug conspiracies as we diligently work to keep our neighborhoods and citizens safe.”

According to a criminal complaint affidavit, since between 2006 and May 2012, a contingent of Honduran immigrants living in and around Fairfax County has coordinated with sources of supply in Honduras to pay couriers to fly cocaine from Honduras to the United States on a regular basis. Much of the couriers’ baggage would contain items that were not contraband, such as clothing, food, and Honduras-related trinkets, so the conspirators would hide cocaine in innocuous items, typically wooden frames and shoes, that would blend in with the couriers’ other cargo.

The affidavit alleges that once the couriers arrived in the United States, members of the conspiracy would pick up the items containing cocaine from the couriers and then distribute it to dealers in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Massachusetts, who, in turn, would send sale proceeds back to Honduras through wire transfers.

Leaders of the conspiracy allegedly supply wholesale quantities of the imported cocaine to co-conspirators, who are themselves street-level dealers or who supply other street-level dealers. It is alleged that the leaders know each other, use the same network of Honduran suppliers, and often retrieve cocaine from couriers intended for another leader to pick up at a later time.

According to the affidavit, the trafficking ring was discovered in autumn 2011 by law enforcement after the investigation and arrest of Lindor Delis Martinez-Guevara, aka Lindo or Genero, 38, of Falls Church, Virginia; and Melcy Yalexsy Guevara-Barrera, aka Pedro or Primo, 35, of Vienna, Virginia, by the Fairfax County Police Department. The affidavit states that Lindor moved from Honduras to Virginia to deal cocaine and that he was the person who came up with the idea to hide cocaine in frames.

Lindor; Melcy; Samuel Benitez-Pineda, aka Wilfredo Benitez or Roque or Chiripa, 34, of Arlington, Virginia; and Jose Fredy Delcid, aka Oscar Salgado or Oscar or Franklin or Chami or Matador, 34, of Falls Church, Virginia, are some of the members of the conspiracy who allegedly worked directly with sources of supply in Honduras to import cocaine into the United States. They, in turn, allegedly worked with a large group of people with and through whom they distributed the cocaine, including the following individuals who were arrested by law enforcement:

  • Hector Mauricio Amaya, aka Conejo or Kaubil, 36, of Falls Church, Virginia
  • Genis Jhesson Amaya-Pena, aka Jenis Yexon Amaya-Pena or Flaco or Juanchope, 25, of Vienna, Virginia
  • Marvin Eduardo Escobar Barrios, aka Catracho or Garrobo, 37, of West Falls Church, Virginia
  • Wilson Reniery Guevara, aka Wilsson R. Guevara, 34, of Manassas, Virginia
  • Joel Lopez, 41, of Springfield, Virginia
  • Annelo Argueta Reyes, aka Nelo, 35, of Falls Church, Virginia
  • Mario Noel Medina-Aguilar, aka Noel, 28, of Falls Church, Virginia
  • Julio Giovanni Nolasco, aka Puma, 18, of Falls Church Virginia
  • Concepcion Benitez-Pineda, aka Conchi or Concha, 38, of Arlington, Virginia
  • Mario Benitez-Pineda, aka Chaparro or Cuzuco, 42, of Falls Church, Virginia
  • Santos Efrain Carbajal Benites, 24, of Arlington, Virginia
  • Angel Zelaya Lizama, aka El Diablo, 29, of Falls Church, Virginia
  • Jose Delores Vanegas, aka Chivito, 40, of Arlington, Virginia
  • Isaias Abrego-Mancia, 28, of Herndon, Virginia
  • Rudy Humberto Tabaro, aka Rudy Humberto Tabara or Colocho, 30, of Lutherville, Maryland
  • Edwin Espana Morales, 38, of Riverdale, Maryland
  • Jose Lorenzo Saravia, aka Jose Saravia-Lozano, 40, of Manassas, Virginia
  • FNU LNU, aka Alex or Gordito, of Falls Church, Virginia
  • Maria Florinda Benitez-Pineda, aka Flor or Loli, 26, of Baltimore, Maryland
  • Jose Maria Benites-Pineda, 32, of Arlington, Virginia
  • Jose Enrique Funez, aka Jose Enrique Funz-Garay or Jose Enrique Funes-Garay or Rick, 40, of Norfolk, Virginia
  • Martin Juarez-Lopez, 19, of Falls Church, Virginia
  • Gloria Elena Olivia Castro, 25, of Springfield, Virginia
  • Joaquin Avila-Rodriguez, aka Pollo, 40, of Herndon, Virginia

Those named in the criminal complaint were charged with conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, which carries a minimum mandatory of five years in prison and a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.

In addition, the complaint affidavit contains allegations that members of the conspiracy engaged in the distribution of crack cocaine, money laundering, and various firearm offenses.

This ongoing investigation was led by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, in partnership with the Fairfax County, Arlington County, City of Falls Church, and Prince William County Police Departments; Virginia State Police; Northern Virginia Gang Task Force; Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean P. Tonolli and Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Scott B. Nussbum and Emily M. Loeb.

Criminal complaints are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless 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 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.


FBI Still Struggling With Supreme Court’s GPS Ruling

March 21, 2012

NPR March 21, 2012 released the following:

“by CARRIE JOHNSON

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court said police had overstepped their legal authority by planting a GPS tracker on the car of a suspected drug dealer without getting a search warrant. It seemed like another instance in a long line of cases that tests the balance between personal privacy and the needs of law enforcement.

But the decision in U.S. v. Jones set off alarm bells inside the FBI, where officials are trying to figure out whether they need to change the way they do business.

Before the Supreme Court ruling in late January, the FBI had about 3,000 GPS tracking devices in the field.

Just in case, government lawyers scrambled to get search warrants for weeks before the decision, working to convince judges they had probable cause to believe crimes were taking place.

But after the ruling, FBI officials tell NPR, agents still had to turn off 250 devices that they couldn’t turn back on.

FBI director Robert Mueller III addressed the issue this month at a House Appropriations Committee hearing. He said the ruling will change the way agents work.

“It will inhibit our ability to use this in a number of surveillances where it has been tremendously beneficial,” Mueller said. “We have a number of people in the United States whom we could not indict, there is not probable cause to indict them or to arrest them who present a threat of terrorism. … [They] may be up on the Internet, may have purchased a gun, but have taken no particular steps to take a terrorist act.”

Before the high court decision, the FBI would have deployed electronic trackers to monitor those people. Now, teams of six or eight agents have to watch them, taxing the agency’s resources.

4th Amendment In Computer Age

Andrew Weissmann is the top lawyer at the FBI. He says the Supreme Court made a distinction about the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, ruling that computers that follow suspects are much more intrusive than people doing the same thing.

“The court essentially is saying that you have an expectation of privacy even though if it was done by humans there would be no violation,” Weissmann says. “But because it’s done by machines, it is.”

In the Supreme Court case, FBI agents investigating a cocaine trafficking ring secretly put a GPS tracker on a Jeep belonging to Washington, D.C., nightclub owner Antoine Jones. They kept it there for weeks, without getting approval from a judge.

“In the Jones case, the Supreme Court held that reasonable people do not expect the government to track their location by attaching a GPS device to the bottom of the car for, in that case, 28 days,” says Catherine Crump of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The full implications of the decision are still coming into focus.

A concurring opinion by Justice Samuel Alito said that a month was too long to track a suspect by GPS without a warrant, but two days would probably be fine. That leaves a big gap for law enforcement to figure out on its own.

Weissmann says FBI agents in the field need clear rules. So, for now, he’s telling agents “when in doubt, to obtain a warrant to protect your investigation.”

But he says that’s not always possible.

“And the problem with that is that a search warrant requires probable cause to be shown and many of these techniques are things that you use in order to establish probable cause,” Weissmann says. “If you require probable cause for every technique, then you are making it very very hard for law enforcement.”

Beyond GPS Devices

Government lawyers say the Supreme Court decision reaches well beyond electronic trackers.

“That decision is reverberating very quickly into areas that I’m sure lots of you care about: national security, cyber security, privacy, more generally,” said Solicitor General Don Verrilli at a recent Georgetown University Law Center conference.

The Justice Department is predicting new fights over cars that come with GPS already installed, and cameras the FBI sticks on poles to catch drug dealers and speeders.

Then there’s the big enchilada: cell phone data.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will hear a case this year about whether the government can get access to cell phone location data without a warrant.

You might be surprised to know it but every eight seconds or so, your cell phone can transmit information to a local cell tower signaling where you are.

Crump, of the ACLU, says that’s a lot more intrusive than putting a tracker on someone’s car.

“After all, a cell phone is something you carry with you wherever you go,” Crump says. “And we don’t think the government should be accessing that type of information without a really good reason, which they can demonstrate by getting a warrant from a judge.”

As for Antoine Jones, whose case made Supreme Court history, prosecutors say they’ll try him again — maybe using some of the location data from his cell phone.”

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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 C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.