“Prosecutors: Ex-comptroller accused of stealing $53M from small Illinois city to plead guilty”

November 14, 2012

The Washington Post on November 13, 2012 released the following:

“By Associated Press

CHICAGO — A former comptroller accused of stealing $53 million from her small northern Illinois city to fund a lavish lifestyle, including one of the nation’s foremost horse-breeding operations, is expected to plead guilty on Wednesday, federal prosecutors said.

Rita Crundwell will plead guilty to a federal charge that accuses her of stealing the public money while overseeing the public finances of Dixon, U.S. attorney’s spokesman Randall Samborn said. Prosecutors allege that she stole the money over several years and siphoned it into a secret bank account.

Crundwell had previously pleaded not guilty to the wire fraud count, which carried a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Dixon Mayor James Burke welcomed her apparent change of heart, saying it should clear the way for the city to recoup more of its losses. A guilty plea in the federal case enables U.S. Marshals to start selling off millions of dollars of assets still in Crundwell’s name, including around $450,000 worth of diamonds and other jewels, ranch land and a house in Florida, he said.

“This is very good news,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from his office Tuesday. “If she wanted to continue with not guilty pleas, she could have dragged this out for two or three years.”

Burke said Crudwell’s assets probably amounted to several million dollars, though he didn’t have a specific figure.

Crunwell’s federal public defenders, Paul Gaziano and Kristin Carpenter, did not immediately return messages seeking messages Tuesday afternoon. Crundwell, who is free on a recognizance bond, is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Philip G. Reinhard in Rockford federal court on Wednesday.

Crundwell, 58, is accused of using her modestly paid town hall job to steal tax dollars, support an extravagant lifestyle and win national fame as a breeder. Prosecutors allege that since 1990, Crundwell stole more than $53 million from Dixon, where she oversaw public finances as the city comptroller since the 1980s. The small city is about 100 miles west of Chicago.

Authorities say Crundwell bought luxury homes and vehicles, and spent millions on her horse-breeding operation, RC Quarter Horses LLC, which produced 52 world champions in exhibitions run by the American Quarter Horse Association.

Prosecutors say Crundwell’s scheme unraveled only after a co-worker filling in for her while she was on an extended vacation stumbled upon the secret bank account.

Federal prosecutors alleged Crundwell created phony invoices that she characterized as being from the state of Illinois. She then allegedly put that money from a city account into another account, which she repeatedly used for personal use.

Her arrest stunned Dixon, a small city along a picturesque vein of the Mississippi River in Illinois farm country and the boyhood home of the late President Ronald Reagan. Its 16,000 residents are largely lower-middle class, working at factories, grain farms, the local prison and a hospital, among other places.

Crundwell also has pleaded not guilty to 60 separate but related felony theft counts in Lee County. The selling of the assets was held up only by the federal case, said Burke.

Since the case broke, the U.S. Marshals Service auctioned dozens of Crundwell’s horses. Officials have said that if Crundwell was found guilty, the proceeds would go toward restitution for the city.

Crundwell grew up in Dixon, playing baseball and surrounded by the outdoors and animals on her family’s farm. At 17, she started at City Hall in a work program for high school students. She stayed, serving as treasurer before becoming comptroller.

According to the mayor, the horses could be sold — unlike the jewelry and other property — before a guilty plea because Crundwell agreed to it.

But otherwise, he added, “there is no indication that she has remorse over this whole thing.””

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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 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.


“Thirty-Four Alleged Aryan Brotherhood of Texas Gang Members Indicted on Federal Racketeering Charges”

November 9, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on November 9, 2012 released the following:

“WASHINGTON— Thirty-four alleged members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) gang, including four of its most senior leaders, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Houston for allegedly conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas; Special Agent in Charge Melvin D. King of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Houston Division; and FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen L. Morris of the Houston Field Office.

The 17-count superseding indictment was returned by a federal grand jury on October 22, 2012, and unsealed today in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas. Fourteen individuals were taken into custody today, and 15 defendants charged in the superseding indictment are already in custody. Five defendants remain at large.

“Today’s takedown represents a devastating blow to the leadership of ABT,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Four ABT generals, 13 additional alleged ABT leaders, and numerous other gang members and associates are named in the indictment. As charged, ABT uses extreme violence and threats of violence to maintain internal discipline and retaliate against those believed to be cooperating with law enforcement. Through violence and intimidation, ABT allegedly exerts control over prison populations and neighborhoods and instills fear in those who come in contact with its members. As today’s operations show, the Criminal Division, working closely with its federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, is determined to continue disrupting and dismantling ABT and other violent, criminal gangs.”

“This indictment is the culmination of a joint federal, state, and local law enforcement effort targeting a large-scale prison gang involved in violent organized crime,” said U.S. Attorney Magidson. “Only when we work in partnership utilizing all our resources can we attack a criminal organization and dismantle it entirely.”

“ATF is serious about fighting violent crime. We remain steadfast in our commitment to focus on those violent criminals who illegally use firearms to prey on their victims,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge King. “Through a collective effort with our law enforcement partners, this operation was a success today.”

“This multi-year investigation and indictment clearly targets the worst-of-the-worst among the ABT,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Morris. “This effort not only exemplifies the level of effort the FBI and our law enforcement partners will expend to prevent prison gang racism and criminal activity from poisoning our communities. It sends a clear message that we will relentlessly pursue and prosecute the leaders and members of these criminal enterprises regardless of where they lay their heads.”

As charged, the defendants range from senior leaders to soldiers of the ABT, a “whites only,” prison-based gang with members operating inside and outside of state and federal prisons throughout Texas and elsewhere in the United States since at least the early 1980s.

According to court documents, the ABT has a detailed and uniform organizational structure, with territory divided into five regions, each run by a “general.” The superseding indictment charges four generals: Terry Ross Blake, 55, aka “Big Terry”; Larry Max Bryan, 51, aka “Slick”; William David Maynard, 42, aka “Baby Huey”; and Charles Lee Roberts, 68, aka “Jive,” with conspiracy to participate in the racketeering activities of the ABT, among other charges.

In total, the superseding indictment charges 34 alleged members of the ABT with conspiracy to participate in the racketeering activities of the ABT. Alleged members of the ABT are also charged with involvement in three murders, multiple attempted murders, kidnappings, assaults, and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine.

According to the superseding indictment, the ABT was established in the early 1980s within the Texas prison system. The gang modeled itself after and adopted many of the precepts and writings of the Aryan Brotherhood, a California-based prison gang that was formed in the California prison system during the 1960s. According to court documents, previously, the ABT was primarily concerned with the protection of white inmates and white supremacy/separatism. Over time, the ABT is alleged to have has expanded its criminal enterprise to include illegal activities for profit.

Court documents allege that the ABT enforced its rules and promoted discipline among its members, prospects, and associates through murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, arson, assault, robbery, and threats against those who violate the rules or pose a threat to the enterprise. Members, and oftentimes associates, were required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members, often referred to as “direct orders.”

According to the superseding indictment, in order to be considered for membership, a person must be sponsored by another ABT member. Once sponsored, a prospective member must serve an unspecified term, during which he is referred to as a prospect, while his conduct is observed by the members of the ABT.

Ten defendants have been charged with offenses that are eligible for the death penalty. The remaining 24 defendants face a maximum penalty of life in prison.

An indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case is being investigated by a multi-agency task force consisting of the ATF; Drug Enforcement Administration; FBI; U.S. Marshals Service; Federal Bureau of Prisons; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations; Texas Rangers; Texas Department of Public Safety; the Montgomery County, Texas Sheriff’s Department; Houston Police Department-Gang Division; Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Office of Inspector General; Harris County, Texas Sheriff’s Office; Tarrant County, Texas Sheriff’s Office; Atascosa County, Texas Sheriff’s Office; Orange County, Texas Sheriff’s Office; Waller County, Texas Sheriff’s Office; Fort Worth, Texas Police Department; San Antonio Police Department; Baytown, Texas Police Department; Carrollton, Texas Police Department; Alvin, Texas Police Department; Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office; Atascosa County District Attorney’s Office; Harris County District Attorney’s Office; and the Kaufman County, Texas, District Attorney’s Office.

The case is being prosecuted by David Karpel of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hileman of the Southern District of Texas.”

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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.


Federal Grand Jury Indicts Baton Rouge Man in Alleged Connection to LSU Bomb Threat

September 21, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on September 20, 2012 released the following:

“BATON ROUGE— United States Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux, Jr., announced that the federal grand jury returned an indictment against William Bouvay, Jr., age 42, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in connection with the bomb threat that on Monday caused the evacuation of LSU’s campus. Bouvay was charged with one count of willfully conveying false information concerning the attempt to destroy property by means of explosives in violation of Title 18, United States Code Section 844(e). If convicted, Bouvay faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine of up to $250,000.

U.S. Attorney Cazayoux stated, “This investigation is an example of the strong, collaborative efforts of university, local, state, and federal law enforcement. These investigative agencies moved expeditiously and decisively to identify and prosecute the individual responsible for the recent bomb threat against LSU. We appreciate the dedicated efforts of all agencies involved in quickly resolving this investigation. We will continue to work closely with District Attorney Hillar Moore to achieve the best result possible in this case which wreaked havoc and disrupted the lives of the people of LSU and the entire city of Baton Rouge.”

According to FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Anderson, “This investigation should send a clear message to the public and to those who make such terroristic threats to elicit fear, that the FBI and its law enforcement partners will quickly and fully deploy all available resources to bring such individuals to justice.”

District Attorney Hillar Moore stated, “I again commend the strong efforts of our university, local, state, and federal law enforcement partners in quickly solving this crime. We will continue to work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in our joint investigation and prosecution.”

“This investigation is an example of the success of law enforcement partnerships at the local, state, and federal level within Louisiana,” said Colonel Mike Edmonson, State Police Superintendent. “The swift culmination of this arrest is indicative of the overwhelming response and resources available to public safety agencies when we work together. I applaud the LSU Administration and the LSU Police Department for their leadership in this investigation.”

“I believe this incident was a prime example of all levels of the law enforcement community working together toward a common goal,” Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said. “That goal was the safety of the students, staff, and visitors on the LSU campus. I was impressed with the way all agencies on the local, state, and federal level worked together not only for the safety of those on campus, but also in the apprehension of the person responsible. I am pleased that the Sheriff’s Office could assist, and we will certainly be there to help anytime we are needed.”

Chief Lawrence Rabalais, LSU Police Department, stated, “The cooperation of the various agencies in this incident is a clear message that this type of action will not be tolerated in our community. The investigation and subsequent arrest, within 48 hours of the incident, are a strong indication of that message.”

The investigation is being conducted by the LSU Police, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office, FBI, ATF&E, U.S. Marshals Service, Louisiana State Police, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, and Baton Rouge City Police. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Frederick A. Menner, Jr.”

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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.


6 detention center employees guilty on gun charges

September 11, 2012

San Francisco Chronicle on September 10, 2012 released the following:

“LAREDO, Texas (AP) — Six of the seven Laredo residents who pleaded guilty to illegally buying guns Monday worked at a federal detention center.

Federal prosecutors say the six worked at the Rio Grande Detention Center in Laredo. The center is privately managed by The Geo Group and holds federal detainees awaiting trial for the U.S. Marshals Service. The seventh was a close friend of one of them.

Prosecutors alleged that in 2011, the group acquired 16 guns, mostly semi-automatic rifles of the sort preferred by organized criminal groups in Mexico. In the purchases, they indicated they were buying the guns for their own use. However, they were being paid to buy them for someone else, a tactic known as straw purchases.

Prosecutors indicated that Geo Corrections cooperated in the federal investigation.”

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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 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.


Thirteen Individuals Indicted for Alleged Drug Trafficking in Jackson and Shannon County

August 9, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 9, 2012 released the following:

Part of Operation Eagle Eye

United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that 13 individuals have been indicted by a federal grand jury for drug conspiracy and distribution offenses alleged to have occurred in Jackson County and Shannon County at various times October 2008 through July 2012.

The charges are a result of Operation Eagle Eye, a controlled substances investigation conducted by the Northern Plains Safe Trails Drug Enforcement Task Force, whose member agencies include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, the South Dakota Highway Patrol, the Pierre Police Department, and the Oglala Sioux Tribe-Department of Public Safety. In addition to task force members, other agencies assisting in the arrests were the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Martin Police Department; the U.S. Marshals Service; the Drug Enforcement Administration; and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

The individuals charged include the following:

  • Anita Lucine Brown, 58, of Wanblee—charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana. If convicted, Brown could face a maximum sentence of 40 years’ imprisonment, a $5,000,000 fine, or both.
  • Reed Thomas Brown, Jr., a/k/a “Baby Reed,” 37, of Wanblee—charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana. If convicted, Brown could face a maximum sentence of 40 years’ imprisonment, a $5,000,000 fine, or both.
  • Clifford Wayne Richards, Jr., a/k/a “Beaver,” 56, of Wanblee—charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and three counts of distribution of marijuana. If convicted of conspiracy to distribute marijuana, Richards could face a maximum sentence of 40 years’ imprisonment, a $5,000,000 fine, or both. If convicted of marijuana distribution, Richards could face a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, or both.
  • Gerald Baker, Sr., 27, of Interior—charged with one count of distributing marijuana in a school zone. In convicted, Baker could face a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both.
  • Casey Bettelyoun, 31, of Wanblee—charged with one count of distributing a substance or mixture containing methamphetamine in a school zone. If convicted, Bettelyoun could face a maximum sentence of 40 years’ imprisonment, a $2,000,000 fine, or both.
  • Roger Bettelyoun, 56, of Wanblee—charged with four counts of distributing marijuana. If convicted, Bettelyoun could face a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both.
  • Royce Gone, 32, of Wanblee—charged with one count of distributing marijuana in a school zone. If convicted, Gone could face a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, or both.
  • Jordan Long Soldier, 40, of Wanblee—charged with two counts of distributing marijuana. If convicted, Long Solider could face a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, or both.
  • Angel Provincial, 22, of Wanblee—charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine. If convicted, Provincial could face a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, or both.
  • Robert Provincial, 32, of Wanblee—charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine. If convicted, Provincial could face a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, or both.
  • Howard Red Elk, 45, of Wanblee—charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana in public housing. If convicted, Red Elk could face a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, a $500,000 fine, or both.
  • Tyson Red Elk, 22, of Wanblee—charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana in public housing. If convicted, Red Elk could face a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, a $500,000 fine, or both.
  • Virgil Red Elk, 30, of Wanblee—charged with one count of distributing marijuana. If convicted, Red Elk could face a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both.

No further details regarding the cases will be available until the individuals have appeared in federal court. The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and all the individuals named in the indictment are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ted McBride.”

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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.


FBI quietly forms secretive Net-surveillance unit

May 23, 2012

CNET on May 22, 2012 released the following:

“CNET has learned that the FBI has formed a Domestic Communications Assistance Center, which is tasked with developing new electronic surveillance technologies, including intercepting Internet, wireless, and VoIP communications.

by Declan McCullagh

The FBI has recently formed a secretive surveillance unit with an ambitious goal: to invent technology that will let police more readily eavesdrop on Internet and wireless communications.

The establishment of the Quantico, Va.-based unit, which is also staffed by agents from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Drug Enforcement Agency, is a response to technological developments that FBI officials believe outpace law enforcement’s ability to listen in on private communications.

While the FBI has been tight-lipped about the creation of its Domestic Communications Assistance Center, or DCAC — it declined to respond to requests made two days ago about who’s running it, for instance — CNET has pieced together information about its operations through interviews and a review of internal government documents.

DCAC’s mandate is broad, covering everything from trying to intercept and decode Skype conversations to building custom wiretap hardware or analyzing the gigabytes of data that a wireless provider or social network might turn over in response to a court order. It’s also designed to serve as a kind of surveillance help desk for state, local, and other federal police.

The center represents the technological component of the bureau’s “Going Dark” Internet wiretapping push, which was allocated $54 million by a Senate committee last month. The legal component is no less important: as CNET reported on May 4, the FBI wants Internet companies not to oppose a proposed law that would require social-networks and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail to build in backdoors for government surveillance.

During an appearance last year on Capitol Hill, then-FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni referred in passing, without elaboration, to “individually tailored” surveillance solutions and “very sophisticated criminals.” Caproni said that new laws targeting social networks and voice over Internet Protocol conversations were required because “individually tailored solutions have to be the exception and not the rule.”

Caproni was referring to the DCAC’s charge of creating customized surveillance technologies aimed at a specific individual or company, according to a person familiar with the FBI’s efforts in this area.

An FBI job announcement for the DCAC that had an application deadline of May 2 provides additional details. It asks applicants to list their experience with “electronic surveillance standards” including PacketCable (used in cable modems); QChat (used in push-to-talk mobile phones); and T1.678 (VoIP communications). One required skill for the position, which pays up to $136,771 a year, is evaluating “electronic surveillance solutions” for “emerging” technologies.

“We would expect that capabilities like CIPAV would be an example” of what the DCAC will create, says Steve Bock, president of Colorado-based Subsentio, referring to the FBI’s remotely-installed spyware that it has used to identify extortionists, database-deleting hackers, child molesters, and hitmen.

Bock, whose company helps companies comply with the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) and has consulted for the Justice Department, says he anticipates “that Internet and wireless will be two key focus areas” for the DCAC. VoIP will be a third, he says.

For its part, the FBI responded to queries this week with a statement about the center, which it also refers to as the National Domestic Communications Assistance Center (even Caproni has used both names interchangeably), saying:

      The NDCAC will have the functionality to leverage the research and development efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement with respect to electronic surveillance capabilities and facilitate the sharing of technology among law enforcement agencies. Technical personnel from other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies will be able to obtain advice and guidance if they have difficulty in attempting to implement lawful electronic surveillance court orders.

      It is important to point out that the NDCAC will not be responsible for the actual execution of any electronic surveillance court orders and will not have any direct operational or investigative role in investigations. It will provide the technical knowledge and referrals in response to law enforcement’s requests for technical assistance.

Here’s the full text of the FBI’s statement in a Google+ post.

One person familiar with the FBI’s procedures told CNET that the DCAC is in the process of being launched but is not yet operational. A public Justice Department document, however, refers to the DCAC as “recently established.”

“They’re doing the best they can to avoid being transparent”

The FBI has disclosed little information about the DCAC, and what has been previously made public about the center was primarily through budget requests sent to congressional committees. The DCAC doesn’t even have a Web page.

“The big question for me is why there isn’t more transparency about what’s going on?” asks Jennifer Lynch, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group in San Francisco. “We should know more about the program and what the FBI is doing. Which carriers they’re working with — which carriers they’re having problems with. They’re doing the best they can to avoid being transparent.”

The DCAC concept dates back at least four years. FBI director Robert Mueller was briefed on it in early 2008, internal FBI documents show. In January 2008, Charles Smith, a supervisory special agent and section chief in the FBI’s Operational Technology Division, sent e-mail to other division officials asking for proposals for the DCAC’s budget.

When it comes to developing new surveillance technologies, Quantico is the U.S. government’s equivalent of a Silicon Valley incubator. In addition to housing the FBI’s Operational Technological Division, which boasts of developing the “latest and greatest investigative technologies to catch terrorists and criminals” and took the lead in creating the DCAC, it’s also home to the FBI’s Engineering Research Facility, the DEA’s Office of Investigative Technology, and the U.S. Marshals’ Technical Operations Group. In 2008, Wired.com reported that the FBI has “direct, high-speed access to a major wireless carrier’s systems” through a high-speed DS-3 link to Quantico.

The Senate appropriations committee said in a report last month that, for electronic surveillance capabilities, it authorizes “$54,178,000, which is equal to both the request and the fiscal year 2012 enacted level. These funds will support the Domestic Communications Assistance Center, providing for increased coordination regarding lawful electronic surveillance amongst the law enforcement community and with the communications industry.” (It’s unclear whether all of those funds will go to the DCAC.)

In trying to convince Congress to spend taxpayers’ dollars on the DCAC, the FBI has received help from local law enforcement agencies that like the idea of electronic surveillance aid. A Justice Department funding request for the 2013 fiscal year predicts DCAC will “facilitate the sharing of solutions and know-how among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies” and will be welcomed by telecommunications companies who “prefer to standardize and centralize electronic surveillance.”

A 2010 resolution from the International Association of Chiefs of Police — a reliable FBI ally on these topics — requests that “Congress and the White House support the National Domestic Communications Assistance Center Business Plan.”

The FBI has also had help from the Drug Enforcement Administration, which last year requested $1.5 million to fund eight additional DCAC positions. DEA administrator Michele Leonhart has said (PDF) the funds will go to “develop these new electronic surveillance capabilities.” The DEA did not respond to CNET’s request for comment.

An intriguing hint of where the DCAC might collaborate with the National Security Agency appeared in author James Bamford’s article in the April issue of Wired magazine. Bamford said, citing an unidentified senior NSA official, that the agency has “made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems” — an obstacle that law enforcement has encountered in investigations.

Eventually, the FBI may be forced to lift the cloak of secrecy that has surrounded the DCAC’s creation. On May 2, a House of Representatives committee directed the bureau to disclose “participation by other agencies and the accomplishments of the center to date” three months after the legislation is enacted.”

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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.


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.


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

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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.


Thirty-Two Individuals Indicted in Puerto Rico for Allegedly Violating the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

March 28, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on March 28, 2012 released the following:

“SAN JUAN—A federal grand jury has indicted 32 individuals as a result of an investigation by the FBI and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), with the collaboration of the San Juan Puerto Rico, Municipal Police; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); and the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez announced today. The 36-count indictment, unsealed today, was brought on March 20, 2012. The defendants are charged with, among other things, violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering Activity (VICAR), use of firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, and possession of firearms by prohibited persons.

The defendants were members and associates of a criminal organization that engaged in narcotics distribution and committed acts of violence, including murder, in San Juan. Since 2004, the defendants conducted the affairs of the enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity involving narcotics trafficking, murder, and attempted murder.

The indictment alleges that in or around 2004, the leaders of nearly all the drug gangs operating in the San Juan area formed an alliance. This alliance would help them resolve conflicts between the previously rival drug gangs in a way that would not bring about the attention of local and federal authorities, thus ensuring increased profits from drug sales for all and reducing the risk of federal charges. The leaders agreed that if conflicts arose between members of the alliance, the leaders from the different housing projects would discuss the issues with each other in order to resolve the same without violence. The leaders named the alliance “La ONU,” which stands for La Organización de Narcotraficantes Unidos (United Drug Traffickers Organization).

It is further alleged that the alliance initially worked but weakened over time. Several housing project gangs became disgruntled with La ONU and sought to break away from the organization. After several conflicts, La ONU broke into two separate rival factions, La ONU and La Rompe ONU. The housing project gangs were essentially split evenly between those belonging to La ONU and La Rompe.

From the time of the split, the goal of La ONU was to maintain control through the use of force over the drug points in their members’ housing projects and to kill La Rompe members and leaders in order to expand. Members of La ONU who committed murders and other violent acts were given benefits, including weapons, money, and the ability to advance within the criminal enterprise. Though unwritten, the general rules followed by members of La ONU included, but were not limited to: no associating with La Rompe members; kill La Rompe members on sight; no killing of other members of La ONU without leadership authorization; no overtaking housing projects/drug points owned by other members of La ONU; and no cooperating with law enforcement. Any violation of these rules was punishable by death of the violator and/or his/her family members.

The indictment details eight murders, three attempted murders, and one shooting directed toward Puerto Rico police officers, all committed by members of La ONU. These acts are as follows:

  • On or about November 12, 2007, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro, aka “Jincho,” “Jeanji,” “Jan,” or “Casper”; Ramón Lanza-Vázquez, aka “Ramoncito”; and Antonio Pérez-Medina, aka “Choco,” shot and killed Orlando Medina-Serrano.
  • On or about February 19, 2009, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro; Luis D. Rivera-Carrasquillo, aka “Danny KX” or “Danny Vorki”; and José Abel Ramos-Cruz, aka “Paleta” or “Tito Paleta,” killed Ángel González-Villanueva, aka “Chaple.”
  • On or about January 5, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro; Luis D. Rivera-Carrasquillo; Wesley Figueroa-Cancel, aka “Hueso”; José Abel Ramos-Cruz; Luis Joel Rosario-Santiago, aka “Triple-H” or “Luis Jo”; Carlos H. O’neill-Santiago, aka “Ken-Y”; Christian Figueroa-Viera, aka “Coqueto”; and others killed Luis Antonio De-Jesús-Pérez.
  • On or about April 2, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro, Wesley Figueroa-Cancel, and others shot at and fled from Puerto Rico police officers.
  • On or about April 8, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro; Jorge E. Asencio-Viera, aka “Macar”; Victor Santana-González, aka “Run Run” or “Pequeño”; Pedro Juan Ramírez-Medina, aka “Peter John” or “Johnson”; Carlos Meléndez-Serrano; and others shot and killed Victor Vega-Ortega, aka “Victor El Nazi.”
  • On or about May 4, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendant Edwin Bernard Astacio-Espino, aka “Bernard,” shot into a patrolling police helicopter and killed Jesús Quiñones-Santiago and attempted to kill José Rivera-Quinoñes, Eduardo Alvelo-Meléndez and Shakira Vázquez-Nieves.
  • On or about July 7, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro; Edwin Bernard Astacio-Espino; Wesley Figueroa-Cancel; Pedro Juan Ramírez-Medina, aka “Peter John” or “Johnson”; Luis Joel Rosario-Santiago; Carlos H. O’Neill-Santiago; Ángel L. García-Velásquez, aka “Wiwo”; and Mike Graciany-Febu, aka “Mikey”; and others shot and killed Puerto Rico Police Officer Blanca De Los Santos-Barbosa and Manuel Medina-Rivera.
  • On or about August 8, 2010, in Puerto Rico, defendants Jean Carlos Ramos-Piñeiro; Edwin Bernard Astacio-Espino; Luis D. Rivera-Carrasquillo; Victor Santana-González; Ismael E. Cruz-Ramos, aka “Chapu”; Pedro L. Ramirez-Rivera, aka “Peter Pai”; José Laureano-Salgado, aka “Geo”; Emanuel Rodríguez Isaac, aka “Manuelito”; and others killed Christian Toledo-Sánchez, aka “Pekeke.” During the course of the murder, Luis Gallardo-Rivera, aka “El Tuerto,” was shot and killed by the rival drug gang.

The remainder of the defendants who are part of the organization and participated in its criminal acts include: FNU LNU, aka “Rosco” or “Diablo”; Luis Cordero-Cruz, aka “Chapi”; Roberto L. Aponte-Cordero, aka “Pichu”; Andrés Guerra-Santana, aka “El Negro” or “Pingy”; Teddy León-Ayala; Ángel D. Ramos-Cruz, aka “Api”; Luis Llanos-Skerett, aka “Jomo”; Miguel Feliciano-Boria, aka “Chupito”; Carlos Andino Matienzo, aka “Hoffman”; José Ismael Costoso-Ramos, aka “Magnolia”; FNU LNU, aka “Luigi”; and FNU LNU, aka “José Armero,” “José Niple,” or “El Mecánico.”

“Violent drug organizations whose members hold our community hostage through violence, intimidation, and fear should think twice about the consequences of their criminal activities,” said U.S. Attorney Rodríguez-Vélez. “The investigation which led to today’s arrests is the first ever RICO Act prosecution of its nature in the District of Puerto Rico. We will use all the tools at our disposal to take dangerous criminals off the streets of Puerto Rico until we break their grip on our communities and bring them to justice.”

“The FBI is committed to dismantling street gangs and criminal organizations, such as La ONU, who terrorize and put at risk the good people of our community with indiscriminate acts of violence. These combined and proactive law enforcement efforts are intended to aggressively target these threats and take back our streets,” said Joseph Campbell, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Juan Field Office.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Kidd and Sean Torriente from the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section. This unit operates under the Narcotics Unit and will exclusively handle drive-by shootings and other significant RICO and organized crime prosecutions. This unit will be initially staffed with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean Torriente, Brian Kidd, and Justin Martin and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Alberto López Rocafort, from the Puerto Rico Department of Justice, and will be supervised by the Chief of the Narcotics Unit, Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Henwood. This unit is yet another component of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico’s initiative against violent crime and illegal firearms.

Twenty of the defendants are charged with capital eligible offenses. The other 12 defendants face up to life in prison. The defendants are facing a forfeiture allegation of $10,000,000. Criminal indictments 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 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.


Federal Indictment Charges 15 Men from Albuquerque and Edgewood with Alleged Drug Trafficking and Financial Crimes

January 29, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 27, 2012 released the following:

“ALBUQUERQUE—A 29—count federal indictment charging 15 men from Albuquerque and Edgewood, N.M., with drug trafficking, money laundering, and currency structuring charges was unsealed late yesterday afternoon, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales; Joseph M. Arabit, Special Agent in Charge of the El Paso Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Carol K.O. Lee, Special Agent in Charge of the Albuquerque Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and Dawn Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Division of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS).

The indictment is the result of a multi-agency investigation into a major drug trafficking and money laundering organization operating out of the Albuquerque metropolitan area that was designated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF”) program. OCDETF is a nationwide Department of Justice program that combines the resources and unique expertise of federal agencies, along with their local counterparts, in a coordinated effort to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations.

Yesterday, a team of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers arrested nine of the 15 defendants named in the indictment, and executed 10 search warrants at residences in Albuquerque and a ranch in Edgewood. Those arrested include Steve Chavez, 32, a fireman with the Albuquerque Fire Department. Two other defendants, Jesus Ramos Castillo, 29, and Gabriel Guerra-Gonzalez, 27, both Mexican nationals, are in state custody on pending local charges; they will be transferred to federal custody to face the charges in the indictment. The defendants arrested yesterday are scheduled to make their initial appearances in federal court in Albuquerque this morning.

Four defendants, Homero Varela, 29, Manuel Villa-Mayorquin, 23, and Procoro Noberto-Alvarez, 28, Mexican nationals, and Ramon Gonzalez, Jr., 25, of Edgewood, have yet to be arrested and are considered fugitives.

The indictment alleges that, between May 2011 and January 2012, all 15 defendants participated in a conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, including cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. Each defendant also is charged with using communication devices to facilitate drug trafficking crimes (sometimes referred to as “phone counts”), and Homero Varela is charged with distributing methamphetamine on three separate occasions over a three month period. The maximum penalties for a conviction on the conspiracy charge and each of the three methamphetamine distribution charges is a minimum 10 years’ to a maximum of life imprisonment and a $10 million fine, and the maximum penalty for a conviction on each of the phone counts is four years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

The indictment also charges Homero Varela, Roy Madrid, 21, of Albuquerque, and Manuel Villa-Mayorquin with conspiracy to launder money. Homero Varela is further charged with an additional count of money laundering involving drug proceeds. A conviction on the money laundering conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of 20 years of imprisonment, and a conviction on the substantive money laundering charge carries a maximum penalty of ten years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Ramon Gonzalez, Jr., is charged with seven counts of structuring financial transactions to avoid certain reporting requirements for an aggregate of $166,300 through 24 transactions between April 2009 and August 2011. Steve Chavez is charged with structuring an aggregate of $348,500 in 37 transactions between July 1, 2011 and August 25, 2011. The maximum penalty for a conviction on each of these counts is five years of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

The indictment also seeks forfeiture of property constituting, or derived from proceeds obtained directly, or indirectly, from the defendants’ illegal drug trafficking and financial crimes, including three Albuquerque residences owned, occupied or in the possession of Homero Varela, Ramon Gonzalez, Sr., and Steve Chavez, respectively, and a ranch in Edgewood owned by Ramon Gonzalez, Sr. It also seeks forfeiture of funds in numerous bank accounts in the names of Homero Varela, Ramon Gonzales, Sr., Ramon Gonzalez, Jr., Andres Gonzalez and Steve Chavez, as well as a money judgment of at least $15,000,000, the amount of money allegedly derived or involved in the offenses alleged in the indictment.

During yesterday’s law enforcement operation, officers seized a half kilogram of cocaine, more than 10 pounds of high grade marijuana, approximately $25,000 in cash, 20 vehicles, seven handguns, nine rifles, and two shotguns.

In announcing yesterday’s arrests, U.S. Attorney Gonzales said, “The charges in this indictment are some of the most significant drug and money laundering charges ever filed in the District of New Mexico. The investigation that led to this indictment exemplifies the law enforcement cooperation that we are fortunate to experience here in New Mexico. Federal, state and local officers worked long and hard and side-by-side in a coordinated effort to arrest numerous individuals charged in the indictment. We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone involved in the investigation. Their efforts have made our streets and communities much safer.”

“The Varela organization has been responsible for distributing multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine in central and north central New Mexico,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Arabit. “DEA and our federal, state, county, and municipal law enforcement partners have worked hand-in-hand to disrupt this organization from its roots, culminating in the indictment of 15 of its members of which 11 are in custody and the seizure of their drugs and assets, including 20 vehicles, 18 weapons, cash, and real property. Through these enforcement actions, we are making our communities safer.”

“These significant investigations and arrests would not have been possible without the joint efforts of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, led by the DEA, the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Forces in Albuquerque and Las Cruces, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and numerous other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies throughout the region, said FBI Special Agent in Charge Lee. “We all share the same goal: stop criminal enterprises that profit from the illegal trade of dangerous drugs and take away any financial benefit they receive from their crimes. The Albuquerque FBI will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement and community partners to rid our rural and urban areas of drug traffickers and other criminals and help make New Mexico and our nation a safer place to live.”

IRS Special Agent in Charge Mertz stated, “This indictment once again reflects the successful merging of law enforcement personnel, who work together through the task force, providing their specific skills, with the common purpose of ferreting out potential nefarious narcotics and related financial crimes. IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to work alongside our law enforcement partners to investigate those individuals who ignore the laws of our country for financial gain.”

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Reeve Swainston and Samuel L. Hurtado, and was investigated by DEA, FBI, and IRS with support from the New Mexico State Police, the Albuquerque Police Department, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, and the Corrales Police Department. Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the U.S. Border Patrol, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, the Air Branch of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the New Mexico Department of Public Safety Motor Transportation Police Division, and the Region II HIDTA Task Force participated in yesterday’s law enforcement operation.

Charges in indictments are only accusations. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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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 Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.