Federal prosecutors: Jamaican woman had a ‘sham marriage’ with a Kansas soldier

August 20, 2012

The Washington Post on August 20, 2012 released the following:

“By Associated Press,

WICHITA, Kan. — A Jamaican woman accused of entering into a “sham marriage” with a Kansas soldier faces a federal trial Tuesday during which jurors must decide whether she wed for love or for immigration purposes in a criminal prosecution.

Prosecutors say Shannakay Hunter was an a illegal immigrant who conspired with Joshua Priest, then a private in the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Riley, to enter into marriage so she could get a “green card” and regain her legal status, as well as receive military benefits such as health care for herself and her two children. Priest, 23, in turn received Army housing and subsistence benefits provided to married soldiers. The government contends their May 2010 marriage in Junction City was never consummated and the couple never lived together.

But the defense in its court filings has portrayed the 28-year-old Jamaican immigrant, who lives in Bronx, New York, as a hardworking mother who admittedly overstayed her visa but married for love — and that her husband only made the allegations of fraud out of anger. The defense plans to call as a witness the victim advocate who took care of Hunter after an alleged domestic abuse incident in Junction City involving Priest.

Which portrayal of Hunter prevails — fraud or loving wife — will be determined during a three-day trial that begins Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Wichita. Hunter faces charges of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, marriage fraud and making a false statement to the government. If convicted she faces up to five years in prison on each count, although she would likely get far less, if any, prison time under federal sentencing guidelines. But she would likely be deported.

“I am absolutely mystified by this prosecution,” defense attorney Molly McMurray said in a phone interview. “You know, there are hordes of people coming into this country every day, and for some reason the government is picking on a woman who came here legally who has no criminal record. Now, she did overstay her visa, but she works and she takes care of her two children, who are United States citizens.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson, who is prosecuting the case, in an email said, “We disagree with the lawyer’s statement but we cannot respond to it as to this specific case until after the case has been concluded.”

Priest is expected to be the government’s star witness. He pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and wire fraud in a deal with prosecutors for leniency in exchange for his testimony against his wife. He will be sentenced in October after admitting he got $26,000 in military benefits for married soldiers that he was not entitled to receive.

The marriage came to the government’s attention in February 2011 when Hunter returned to Fort Riley from New York to make sure Priest would attend an upcoming immigration hearing in which her change of status was going to be heard. She told Priest’s superiors that he failed to provide support to her since their marriage, as required by Army regulations, and that he needed to be ordered to attend her impending immigration hearing, given his “moral obligation” to do so, according to a court filing.

After his superiors confronted him, Priest told them the marriage was arranged so Hunter could get legal immigration status. His superiors ordered him to attend the immigration hearing but also reported the suspected marriage fraud to an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement fraud hotline and the Army’s Central Investigations Divisions, court documents show.

Hunter’s defense attorney acknowledged that while the couple has always lived apart, she would often come to visit her husband in Kansas.

“She is adamant — and has been the entire time — that she is innocent,” McMurray said. “It is weighing heavily on her.””

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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.


HSI, Caribbean Corridor Strike Force seize 330 kilograms of cocaine, arrest 6

June 8, 2012

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on June 8, 2012 released the following:

“SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), officers and special agents assigned to the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force arrested six Dominican Republic nationals on drug trafficking charges earlier this week. The individuals tried to introduce 330 kilograms and one kilogram of heroin with an estimated street value of $8 million into the United States.

“Through these arrests and seizures we are sending a clear message Puerto Rico will not be a safe haven for criminals looking to ship drugs into Puerto Rico and the United States,” said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. “ICE and its federal and local partners are committed to working together to stop the flow of illegal narcotics into Puerto Rico.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers onboard a marine surveillance vessel detected the six men aboard a suspicious 25-foot unmarked fiberglass boat transiting illegally towards Puerto Rico. Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received notification from a CBP officer of the ongoing situation and proceeded to divert the Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus to interdict the suspect vessel.

The Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus arrived on scene, interdicted the suspect vessel and detained Jairo Torres-Balbuena, 29; José Manuel Rodríguez, 30; Anheli Regalado, 25; Berner Balbuena-Perreaux, 38; Jorge King, 52; and Juan Polanco-Rodríguez, 35; following the discovery of 15 bales of suspected contraband which later tested positive for cocaine and heroin during a field test.

Coast Guard personnel transferred custody of the six Dominicans, the suspect vessel, and the seized contraband to awaiting HSI special agents in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.

Those arrested were transferred to the Guaynabo, Puerto Rico Metropolitan Detention Center awaiting the outcome of their case. They had their initial hearing before US Magistrate Judge Bruce McGiverin June 6 and remain detained.

The strike force is an initiative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Caribbean. It is part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force that investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics using the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is composed of HSI, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, Coast Guard, CBP and Puerto Rico Police Department’s Joint Forces for Rapid Action.”

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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.


Feds: SC businessman illegally exported to Iran

May 23, 2012

Bloomberg Business Week on May 22, 2012 released the following:

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

“By MEG KINNARD

The president of a North Charleston company has been arrested and charged with illegally exporting goods to Iran and lying to agents about his trade practices, according to federal prosecutors.

Markos Baghdasarian was arrested Saturday at Atlanta’s main airport before he could board a flight to the United Arab Emirates. That’s where, according to federal authorities, Baghdasarian had a business associate who helped get his South Carolina-made products into Iran.

Baghdasarian was president of Delfin Group USA, a Russian-owned producer and supplier of synthetic motor oils that solidified its U.S. presence in the North Charleston area in 2008 with a $55 million renovation to an old Shell Oil plant it had bought for $20 million. Company officials said he was placed on leave May 14 and referred comment on the case to its outside counsel, who did not immediately return a message Tuesday.

Prosecutors said Baghdasarian broke federal law that prohibits trade with Iran without special permission from the federal government. Federal law also requires exporters and shippers to file forms showing where the goods are going.

Some of the evidence that agents say they have amassed against Baghdasarian comes from emails to him from two unidentified business associates, who discussed how to safely get Baghdasarian’s products to Iran without detection. According to prosecutors, one of those unidentified businessmen was Baghdasarian’s agent in Iran and also represented a company in the United Arab Emirates used to ship Delfin products to Iran.

A second unidentified businessman operated another business in the UAE for similar purposes, said John Hardin, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, in an affidavit.

In July 2010, one of the unidentified businessmen had conversations with another person on how to help Baghdasarian get around U.S. sanctions on Iran by using his UAE-based company. In those communications, according to Hardin, the unidentified businessman said the materials would come into Iran via Dubai but would be relabeled as “UAE product.”

“So u are safe Markos is safe,” the other associated replied, according to Hardin. Other communications discussed what product labels should look like, with one message including a fake address for a California company and a toll-free number that agents determined actually went to offices for Victoria’s Secret.

In August 2011, Delfin USA tried to send aviation engine lubricating oils worth $850,000 to an associate in the UAE, according to Hardin. Federal officials failed in their efforts to contact Baghdasarian’s company to get information about that shipment. Agents attached electronic trackers to another load of 11 containers bound for the UAE; one was traced all the way to Iran.

Earlier this month, Baghdasarian acknowledged to federal agents that one of the unidentified businessmen was a middle man for his company’s products but, according to agents, lied in saying that he didn’t know that the other associate was in Iran until just a few months earlier — after the U.S. Department of Commerce suspended his company’s trading privileges.

Baghdasarian faces up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted. He had an initial hearing in Georgia on Monday, and it wasn’t immediately clear when he would be extradited to South Carolina. A person who answered a number listed for Baghdasarian’s home said she did not know if he had an attorney.”

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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.


Man Wanted for Murder in Mexico Arrested in DeQueen

May 18, 2012

Arkansas Matters on May 17, 2012 released the following:

“By: KARK 4 News

A Mexican citizen wanted for murder in his homeland is in federal custody in Southwest Arkansas, following his arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Pedro Gonzalez-Zarate, 73, was arrested today in DeQueen by the ERO New Orleans Fugitive Operations Team based in Little Rock. Gonzalez-Zarate was the subject of an Interpol Red Notice for a homicide committed more than five years ago.

According to the Red Notice, Isidro Gonzalez-Diaz died of blood loss due to gunshot wounds on December 27, 2006 in the Village of San Miguel de Allende in the Mexican State of Guanajuato. Shortly before the shooting, Gonzalez-Diaz’s parents had seen their son and Gonzalez-Zarate engaged in an argument over a plot of land. The parents were initially unconcerned, as family members frequently argued over the issue but had never resorted to violence. However, as they were having lunch they heard screams and ran outside to find their son bleeding to death on the disputed plot. It is unclear how the victim is related to Gonzalez-Zarate.

On May 8, the ERO team in Little Rock received the Interpol Red Notice about Gonzalez-Zarate. Two days later officers from the ICE team, assisted by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and DeQueen Police Department, located Gonzalez-Zarate on a farm near DeQueen and arrested him without incident. Gonzalez is currently detained without bond on immigration charges. If he is ordered removed by an immigration judge, his deportation will be coordinated with the Government of Mexico. ICE’s Office of Chief Counsel will prosecute Gonzalez’s immigration case.

“ICE works closely with our international law enforcement partners to identify, locate and deport aliens who are wanted in their home countries for allegedly committing heinous crimes,” said Philip Miller, field office director of ICE ERO New Orleans. “We will not allow criminal aliens to use the United States as a safe haven from their crimes.” Miller oversees ERO activities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee.”

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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.


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

————————————————————–

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.


19 indicted in alleged racketeering case targeting South San Francisco street gang Long-term probe links suspects to multiple murders, robberies, drug trafficking

May 6, 2012

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on May 3, 2012 released the following:

“SAN FRANCISCO — Federal and local authorities announced the indictment Thursday of 19 members of a South San Francisco street gang on racketeering and other federal charges, alleging they engaged in a host of crimes, including murder, robbery and narcotics trafficking as part of a broader conspiracy to preserve the organization’s power and protect its territory from rival gangs.

Thirteen of the defendants, members and associates of the “500 Block/C Street” gang, were arrested Thursday during a multi-agency law enforcement operation. Three special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) were injured during the enforcement action. They were transported to a Bay area hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

The 13 individuals arrested Thursday, and two other defendants who were already in federal custody, are expected to make their initial appearance in federal court Friday morning. The remaining four defendants, who are currently in state custody, will be turned over to federal authorities next week to face the charges.

During a news conference Thursday afternoon, federal and local officials provided an overview of the 17-month probe and the resulting 29-count superseding indictment. The prosecution is being overseen by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.

“The charges that were unsealed today are the result of the tireless efforts of several law enforcement agencies who are working together to keep the community safe,” said U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. “For the victims and their families, there is nothing we can do to erase their pain and sorrow. I hope, however, that these charges begin to provide some closure for them. Our thoughts and prayers are with the three Homeland Security Investigation (special) agents who were injured during this morning’s operation. My office is proud to be associated with professionals who put their lives on the line to protect others and are serious about keeping the community safe. We will continue to work with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to help bring to justice those who terrorize their communities with violence and fear.”

The indictment, handed down April 24 and unsealed Friday, accuses the members and associates of the “500 Block/C Street” gang with conspiring to commit murder and assault in the aid of racketeering; using firearms in connection with violent crime; and obstruction of justice. Four of the defendants who are specifically charged with using a firearm in the commission of a murder could face the death penalty. Additionally, 12 of the other defendants in the case could receive up to life in prison if convicted of all of the charges lodged against them.

“Today is a welcome day for residents of South San Francisco and a very bad day for an entrenched gang based here in the Bay Area,” said Clark Settles, special agent in charge for HSI San Francisco. “This indictment and the related arrests serve as a warning to local gangs about the consequences of using violence and fear to maintain control of their turf.”

The indictment is the culmination of investigations originally initiated by the Daly City Police Department and the South San Francisco Police Department following separate shootings in those communities. The Daly City shooting occurred Dec. 18, 2010, and left three people injured. Four days later, a shooting in South San Francisco killed three individuals and wounded three others. As the probe widened, the local police departments sought the assistance and expertise of ICE HSI. The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office also aided with the investigation. The U.S. Marshals Service provided significant assistance during Thursday’s enforcement action.

“The South San Francisco City Council extends its sincere congratulations to our Police Department, members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, the Daly City Police Department and to the members of the San Mateo County Gang Intelligence Unit for their diligent investigative efforts over the past 16 months,” said South San Francisco Mayor Richard Garbarino. “Knowing arrests have been made will hopefully start to bring a sense of closure for the families and the entire community. The City of South San Francisco will continue its commitment to strengthen our community and encourages everyone to stand together against community violence.”

The indictment alleges the “500 Block/C Street” gang constituted a racketeering enterprise and that the defendants conspired to engage in narcotics trafficking, extortion, robbery and murder to further the aims of the organization. The indictment further states that while the “500 Block/C Street” was a Norteño gang, the organization warred not only with Sureño gangs, but also with rival Norteño cliques. Below are the 16 defendants charged as part of the racketeering conspiracy and the maximum penalties they face:

  • Joseph “Little Vicious” Ortiz, 22, of South San Francisco, possible death penalty;
  • Victor “Little Creeper” Flores, 20, of Petaluma; possible death penalty;
  • Justin “Teddy” Whipple, 19, of San Bruno, possible death penalty;
  • Benjamin “BG” Campos-Gonzalez, 21, of San Mateo, possible death penalty;
  • Michael “Vicious” Ortiz, Jr., 25, of San Bruno, life in prison;
  • Michael “Blackie” Ortiz, Sr., 48, of San Bruno, life in prison;
  • Armando “Savage” Acosta, 27, of Pacifica, life in prison;
  • Giovanni “Gio” Rimando Ascencio, 22, of South San Francisco, life in prison;
  • Raymond “Tear Drop” Hembry, 33, of South San Francisco, life in prison;
  • James “Pimpy” Hembry, 31, of Daly City, life in prison;
  • Richard “Maniac” Martinez, 25, of Hayward, life in prison;
  • Rodrigo “Ayo” Aguayo, 23, of San Mateo, life in prison;
  • Gregorio “Rhino” Guzman, 38, of San Mateo, life in prison;
  • Mario “Fat Boy” Bergren, 23, of South San Francisco, life in prison;
  • Andrew “Andy” Bryant, 29, of Daly City, life in prison; and
  • Peter “P-Nasty” Davis, 26, of San Francisco, life in prison.

The indictment also charges four of the above defendants – Joseph Ortiz, Victor Flores, Justin Whipple and Benjamin Campos-Gonzalez – with three counts of murder in aid of racketeering; four counts of attempted murder in aid of racketeering; and related firearms offenses stemming from their alleged role in the fatal South San Francisco shooting. Additionally, Joseph Ortiz is charged with four other attempted murders in aid of racketeering and a related firearms offense arising from the Daly City shooting.

The indictment details the defendants’ involvement in the gang and the organization’s current leadership structure. It alleges that Joseph Ortiz, one of the ranking members of the 500 Block clique, initially joined the gang when he was approximately 11 years old. According to the indictment, in 2011 Raymond Hembry took over as the leader of the C Street clique of the merged gang and Giovanni Ascencio assumed control over the 500 Block side of the organization.

The three defendants in the case who are not facing racketeering charges are accused of being accessories after the fact to the South San Francisco murders and attempted murders. They are:

  • Louis Rodriguez, 30, of Milbrae, 60 years in prison;
  • Tanya “La China” Rodriguez, 45, of San Bruno, 40 years in prison; and
  • Betty Ortiz, 49, of San Bruno, 40 years in prison.

Specifically, these defendants are charged with various obstruction-related offenses for their alleged efforts to hinder the investigation into “Eighth Lane” shootings. According to the court document, their actions included washing and concealing weapons used in the murders; questioning a perspective witnesses and transporting that person from northern California to Mexico; and wiring money to Mexico.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Acadia L. Senese and W.S. Wilson Leung, with support from paralegal Kevin Costello and legal technician Daniel Charlier-Smith.”

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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

————————————————————–

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.


Caribbean Corridor Strike Force Seizes 245 Kilograms of Cocaine, Arrests Two

February 11, 2012

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

“SAN JUAN, PR—The U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez, along with the heads of the agencies that compose the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) announced today the seizure of approximately 119 bricks of cocaine with an estimate weight of 245 kilograms and an approximate street value of $4.9 million; and the arrest of two U.S. citizens for illegal importation of narcotics.

At approximately 10:40 a.m. on Thursday, a Marine Patrol Aircraft (MPA) assigned to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB), crewed by CBP officers and a Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) agent, detected a suspicious white fiberglass twin outboard center console vessel traveling eastbound towards Puerto Rico with two persons on board.

A second suspicious vessel; described as a single engine, white fiberglass with light blue trim, with two persons wearing yellow raincoats; was observed in the vicinity traveling westbound towards the Dominican Republic. The proximity within the two vessels suggested a possible transfer of contraband at sea.

A CBP marine interceptor was launched to intercept the vessel reaching it at approximately 10 miles off the coast of La Parguera in the southwestern coast of the island. Once intercepted, the crew of the suspicious vessel was instructed to set course to the Mayaguez Marine Unit for further inspection. The inspections conducted by CBP’s field operations officers and Border Patrol agents revealed approximately 199 bricks with a white powdery substance that tested positive to cocaine during a field drug test.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents took custody of the narcotics and the two individuals for further investigation.

Those arrested, the brothers Elvis Aviles Vega, 46, and Alberto Aviles, 47, were transferred to the Guaynabo, Puerto Rico Metropolitan Detention Center awaiting the outcome of their case. They will have the initial hearing before a magistrate judge on Friday.

“We will continue maximizing all of our combined resources to investigate and prosecute those who in flagrant disregard of our laws and try to smuggle and transport illegal contraband in our jurisdiction,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.

CCSF is an initiative of the United States Attorney’s Office created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Caribbean. CCSF is part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) that investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics utilizing the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is composed by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, ICE HSI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Coast Guard and PRPD’s FURA.

The case will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S Attorney Jose Capo Iriarte.”

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