tagged w/ Smuggling
Police in Italy have found 1,700 little animals - ALIVE - in the back of a hatchback. Amongst the critters, there were budgies, mice, hamsters, squirrels and one thousand terrapins!
The animals are now all in nearby zoos. The driver, Francesco Lombardo, is being investigated for animal smuggling.Police in Italy have found 1,700 little animals - ALIVE - in the back of a hatchback.... more
U.S. refineries bought millions of dollars worth of oil stolen from Mexican government pipelines and smuggled across the border, the U.S. Justice Department told The Associated Press - illegal operations now led by Mexican drug cartels expanding their reach.
Criminals - mostly drug gangs - tap remote pipelines, sometimes building pipelines of their own, to siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars worth of oil each year, the Mexican oil monopoly said. At least one U.S. oil executive has pleaded guilty to conspiracy in such a deal.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Homeland Security department is scheduled to return $2.4 million to Mexico's tax administration, the first batch of money seized during a binational investigation into smuggled oil that authorities expect to lead to more arrests and seizures.
"The United States is working with the Mexican government on the theft of oil," said Nancy Herrera, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Houston. "It's an ongoing investigation, with one indictment so far."
In that case, Donald Schroeder, president of Houston-based Trammo Petroleum, is scheduled to be sentenced in December after pleading guilty in May.
In a $2 million scheme, Herrera said, Schroeder purchased stolen Mexican oil that had been brought across the border in trucks and barges and sold it to various U.S. refineries, which she did not identify. Trammo's tiny firm profited about $150,000 in the scheme, she said.U.S. refineries bought millions of dollars worth of oil stolen from Mexican government... more
Wikipedia's hard power definition focuses on the international politics of hard power - one country using military and economic power to pressure another country. Hard power starts smaller though.
All politics is local, and all violence starts with one person in conflict with another. Countries start with armies, armies start with militias, militias start with gangs, and gangs start with street toughs with a cashflow. Hard power starts on the streets, and works its way up to the national level from there.
Hence today's history lesson: the Sons of Liberty. You may have heard of them if you had to read "Johnny Tremain" in school (a patriotic revisionist book written during World War 2 when patriotic revisionism was the norm), or if you drink a lot of Samuel Adams Boston Lager. These guys were a loose network of terrorist cells in the East Coast of the United States, which continually harassed the British and escalated petty legal issues between the colonies and the British government.
Why? Rule number 1: Follow the money. They were almost certainly funded by people like John Hancock, who was an improbably rich merchant trader (*cough cough smuggler*) and a founder of the independent United States. Smuggling is only profitable when there are tariffs or other trade restrictions, and back in the mercantilist days of the British Empire, it was mighty profitable. Hancock's shipping company stood to make an even bigger fortune if he was allowed to trade with whomever he pleased. Thus, he needed to get Boston out of the yoke of port tax collectors and British army. John Hancock wasn't the only one - every American port had merchants with the same idea.
The Boston Tea Party (and many other Tea Parties in ports across the US) was the destruction of lots of valuable property to protest the Tea Act, which taxed tea imported to the American colonies. Tea came from that most valuable of British colonies, India, and it was expensive. The prime source of caffeine in that day, some economists think it helped people work longer and harder, and thus make more money. Of course, if the Americans were independent of the British Empire, they could import all the tea (or anything else they want) at a much cheaper price than from London. All the taxes that lead to the Revolutionary War ended up being something like 2% of income for Americans back then, and that was apparently enough to stoke the separatism into all out war of independence. Rule number 2: If there is enough money to be made by violence, someone will pay to start that violence.
The Sons of Liberty carried out things like "tar and feathering," which sounds almost cute and quaint, until you remember it involves taking a political official, and pouring boiling tar on them. I'm not a fan of having boiling anything poured over me, and the symbolic nature of the violence against these targets was one of America's first encounters with terrorism. Rule number 3: One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.
This terrorist group eventually grew into a "well regulated militia," and with political leadership, time and money from France (yes, the Continental Army was a foreign backed insurgency), we were able to make it too expensive for Britain to keep fighting us. That is why we celebrate terrorism, insurgents and most importantly explosives on the Fourth of July.
Class dismissed.Wikipedia's hard power definition focuses on the international politics of hard... more
The month of June was a hot month for drug busts along the southern border.
On June 18, border agents at the Interstate 35 inspection station stopped nearly a thousand pounds of marijuana and seven illegal aliens from entering the U.S.
Customs and Border Patrol agents at the Laredo, TX, station inspected the driver of a tractor-trailer entering the U.S. from Mexico. A Border Patrol canine team detected either hidden people or contraband in the trailer.
Agents searched the trailer and found several cellophane-wrapped bundles stacked with a load of beer. The marijuana totaled 995.6 pounds and had an estimated street value of $796,480.
On June 20, agents at the same checkpoint performed an immigration inspection on the driver of a tractor-trailer from Mexico. A Border Patrol canine alerted agents to the truck’s cab where they discovered seven undocumented aliens hiding in the sleeper.
According to a news release from Customs and Border Patrol, all of the subjects were processed for prosecution or removal from the country.
During the same week, federal agents at the U.S.-Mexico border stopped two trucks that had gone to extensive lengths to hide marijuana and bring it into El Paso, TX.
On June 17, officers at the Ysleta commercial crossing in El Paso stopped a 1992 International truck that was deadheading from Mexico. During inspection, U.S. Customs officers discovered 340 pounds of marijuana hidden in the truck’s saddle tanks.
On June 18, border officers inspected a 1993 Freightliner pulling an empty reefer as it arrived at the Bridge of the Americas commercial crossing. An x-ray scan revealed “an anomaly” in the reefer’s floor. At the cargo dock, officers examined the trailer further and found 197 bundles of marijuana totaling 750 pounds hidden in the floor compartmeThe month of June was a hot month for drug busts along the southern border. On June... more
A whopping 250 turtles have been found hidden on a train by Ukrainian border guards.
The reptilian passengers had been taped up to prevent them moving and had been hidden in toilets and the walls of the carriages.
The smuggler, who happened to be the train's Uzbek conductor, had planned to sell the turtles in UkraineA whopping 250 turtles have been found hidden on a train by Ukrainian border guards.... more
Ships from Miami steam into Jamaica's main harbor loaded with TV sets and blue jeans. But some of the most popular U.S. imports never appear on the manifests: handguns, rifles and bullets that stoke one of the world's highest murder rates.
The volume is much less than the flow of U.S. guns into Mexico that end up in the hands of drug cartels -- Jamaican authorities recover fewer than 1,000 firearms a year. But of those whose origin can be traced, 80 percent come from the U.S., Jamaican law enforcement officials have said in interviews with The Associated Press.
And as the Obama administration cracks down on smuggling into Mexico, Jamaicans fear even more firearms will reach the gangs whose turf wars plague the island of 2.8 million people.
"It's going to push a lot of that trade back toward the Caribbean like it was back in the '80s," said Vance Callender, an attache at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
U.S. authorities are beginning to target the Jamaican gun-smuggling network as part of a broad effort to boost security in the Caribbean.
But they have a long way to go. Jamaican authorities have confiscated only 100 guns coming into ports in the last five years, along with 6,000 rounds of ammunition. That in turn is just a fraction of the 700 or so weapons confiscated on the streets each year.
Authorities know they're only seeing "the tip of the iceberg," said Mark Shields, Jamaica's deputy police commissioner.
With arsenals to rival police firepower, the gangs are blamed for 90 percent of the homicides in Jamaica -- 1,611 last year, about 10 times more than the U.S. rate, relative to population.
Unlike in Mexico, the vast majority of Jamaican guns seized are submitted for tracing. Jamaica and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives find most of the seized weapons come from three Florida counties -- Orange, Dade and Broward -- all with large Jamaican populations, according to Shields.
X-ray scanners were installed two years ago at Jamaican ports, but the gangs use bribery and intimidation to get their shipments past inspectors.
In April, a newly hired customs supervisor had his tires slashed and days later was shot at on his way home from work, authorities say. The man was known for his strict scrutiny of cargo coming into a gang-infiltrated warehouse on the Kingston wharf.
When the gangs apply pressure, "no one says no," said Danville Walker, Jamaica's commissioner of customs.
"It's a massive problem," said Leslie Green, a Jamaican assistant police commissioner. "There aren't any checks or any controls on goods leaving the United States. Yet anything leaving here, we have to make sure it's double-checked and tripled-checked for drugs."
This complaint -- that Americans care only what comes in, not what goes out -- echoes that of Mexican authorities, who say cars going from the U.S. into Mexico aren't searched for weapons or cash.Ships from Miami steam into Jamaica's main harbor loaded with TV sets and blue... more
It is either the biggest smuggling operation in history -- or a fraud of equally impressive proportions. Italian customs officials stopped two men at the Swiss border carrying bonds worth $134 billion (95.8 billion euros).
Read more...It is either the biggest smuggling operation in history -- or a fraud of equally... more
As recently as February 16 (2007), while the United States was trying to improve relations with North Korea, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) - which provides background briefing papers for members of the US Congress - published a 14-page report on "North Korean Crime-for-Profit Activities".
The report alleges that North Korea is smuggling heroin and methamphetamines, that it produces counterfeit currency and cigarettes, and that it also may be engaged in insurance fraud as a matter of policy.
North Korea's involvement in large-scale, international heroin trafficking first came to light when, in February 1995, Russian law enforcement officials in the far eastern port city of Vladivostok arrested two North Korean employees of a North Korean state logging company and seized 8 kilograms of heroin.As recently as February 16 (2007), while the United States was trying to improve... more
Inmates at Buckley Hall Prison in Rochdale have been using Elizabethan dialect to help them smuggle drugs and other contraband into prisons.
Staff at the prison noticed that the same phrases were being used in monitored phone calls and letters between inmates and loved ones.
The dialect, thought to originate from medieval gipsies, was used by all manner of villains in Shakespeare's England, becoming known as thieves' cant or rogues' cant. But it was thought to have become obsolete until its unexpected revival, believed to have been led by criminal members of the travelling community.
The Ministry of Justice is so worried about the use of the code that it has issued a security alert to governors at jails in England and Wales.
Examples of the new thieves' cant include 'chat' or 'onick' meaning heroin; 'cawbe', meaning crack cocaine; and 'inick', for phone or mobile phone SIM card.
Inmates also use normal English in code - 'Bring the children' means to bring drugs, while the phrase 'Lots of hair on the children' means 'bring lots of drugs'.
An insider at the 381-prisoner, category C establishment revealed: 'This is the most ingenious use of a secret code we have ever come across. Elizabethan cant was only used by a tiny number of people and it is quite amazing that is has been resurrected in order to buy drugs. Some inmates will try anything to get contraband into jail.'Inmates at Buckley Hall Prison in Rochdale have been using Elizabethan dialect to help... more
A Canadian scientist was stopped at the U.S. border last week after authorities found 22 vials used in Ebola research from Canada's National Microbiology Lab in his possession, officials said Wednesday.
The incident has sparked controversy and serious questions about security protocols at the Winnipeg lab that contains some of the world's most deadliest pathogens.
Konan Michel Yao, 42, was apprehended by U.S. officials as he attempted to enter the United States at the Pembina, N.D., border crossing from Manitoba on May 5.
Yao faces U.S. criminal charges for smuggling and is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals service.
Dr. Frank Plummer, scientific director general of the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, said the vials did not contain any infectious pathogens.
Canada's public health agency did not know the vials were missing until it was contacted by the RCMP, which had been alerted by U.S. border service, Plummer said.
Click link for videoA Canadian scientist was stopped at the U.S. border last week after authorities found... more
Two California men were indicted today on federal charges that they illegally smuggled Asian songbirds into the country, most recently last month when one of the defendants, returning from a trip to Vietnam, was found with 14 live birds strapped to his legs. As seen in the below evidence photo, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents at Los Angeles International Airport discovered the birds under the pants of Sony Dong. According to a Department of Justice press release, CBP agents inspected Dong and "found bird feathers and droppings on his socks, as well as birds' tail feathers visible under his pants." A subsequent search "discovered 14 live birds attached to two flat pieces of cloth that were wrapped around his calves. The birds included three red-whiskered bul-buls (which is listed as an injurious species under federal law), four magpie robins and six shama thrush." The birds each appear to have been placed in sleeves that were hooked on to the cloth around Dong's legs. A second man, Duc Le, 34, was later arrested in connection with the bird smuggling. According to a criminal complaint, Dong told investigators that he purchased birds for $50 each and re-sold them for $300-$400 apiece...Two California men were indicted today on federal charges that they illegally smuggled... more
“On the day of its first foreign policy discussions with Mexico, the Obama administration remains mum on whether it will honor a campaign promise to alter a Bush administration policy establishing a massive fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, including in federally protected areas.”
So far, the Department of Homeland Security has erected about 613 miles of new pedestrian fencing and vehicle barriers to thwart illegal border crossers and drug smugglers trying to enter the United States.
While President Obama voted for the 2005 Secure Fence Act as an Illinois senator, he pledged on the campaign trail last year to review the Bush administration's fortification efforts, in part due to concerns about environmental impacts.
"I think that the key is to consult with local communities, whether it's on the commercial interests or the environmental stakes of creating any kind of barrier," Obama said last year at a debate in Austin, Texas.
While acknowledging that some areas may need fencing, Obama said deploying new surveillance technology and stepping up patrols would "be the better approach."
Yet almost three months into the new administration, neither Obama nor Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano are addressing the issue. Meanwhile, construction is beginning on two new sections of the fence, one through the Rio Grande Valley near Brownsville, Texas, and another in the Otay Mountain Wilderness in California's San Diego County.“On the day of its first foreign policy discussions with Mexico, the Obama... more
EL PASO -- Lisa Ling recalls covering the civil war in Afghanistan as the most monumental experience in her life.
"This is the reason why I continue being a journalist," Ling said.
Ling, a correspondent for "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and contributor for the National Geographic series "Explorer," has covered stories such as the Colombian drug war; the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13 gang, in El Salvador; suicide bombers in Israel; and child trafficking in India.
Winfrey "likes to think about me as the eyes and ears of what's happening globally," Ling said during a telephone interview.
Now Ling will bring her war stories to El Paso on April 16 as the keynote speaker for the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region's 2009 Women's Benefit Luncheon.
Look closely at Ling's portfolio and you'll notice the common denominator: She likes to cover stories that pertain to women and children in different parts of the world.
"I feel that it is my obligation and responsibility to raise awareness among women," Ling said. "My favorite group to speak to is a large group of women."
Ling said she has been in El Paso twice. She is particularly interested in the drug violence across the border.
"It's on the verge of becoming an American problem," Ling says. "It's only a matter of time before it crosses over to America."
Lisa Ling is one of my heroes.
Check out her website when you get the chance.
www.lisaling.comEL PASO -- Lisa Ling recalls covering the civil war in Afghanistan as the most... more
A carrier pigeon in Colombia gave new meaning to the term "jailbird" when officials discovered that it was trying to smuggle cell phone parts into a high-security prison, a news report said.
The carrier pigeon has Colombian authorities concerned there may be a new way to smuggle goods into prisons.
The carrier pigeon has Colombian authorities concerned there may be a new way to smuggle goods into prisons.
The bird was carrying the contraband on its back in a little suitcase, the Caracol news outlet said Monday.
Heavy rains prevented the plumed smuggler from entering the prison in north central Colombia, said the police chief in Boyaca state, Juan Carlos Polania.
Authorities are worried, Polania said, because this is a newly discovered way of smuggling goods into the prison, and officials have no way of combating it. They also are wondering whether any of the many pigeons that live in or near the prison are pulling double duty.
As for the miscreant bird, he was taken to an animal shelter in the city of Soraca.
So pigeons with mini suitcases full of cell phone parts are the new pies with nail files in them?A carrier pigeon in Colombia gave new meaning to the term "jailbird" when... more
Thousands of Mexican federal troops and police are trying to stem the drug violence in Juárez. The border city has become the battlefield for warring cartels armed with smuggled American guns.Thousands of Mexican federal troops and police are trying to stem the drug violence in... more
The quest for squeaky-clean dishes has turned some law-abiding people in Spokane into dishwater-detergent smugglers. They are bringing Cascade or Electrasol in from out of state because the eco-friendly varieties required under Washington state law don't work as well.
Spokane County became the launch pad last July for the nation's strictest ban on dishwasher detergent made with phosphates, a measure aimed at reducing water pollution. The ban will be expanded statewide in July 2010, the same time similar laws take effect in several other states.The quest for squeaky-clean dishes has turned some law-abiding people in Spokane into... more
Is the situation in Northern Ireland about to get a whole lot worse? This sounds like something out of "24", but unfortunately not.
According to a Guardian report, security forces from across Ireland are on a mission to track down a dissident republican bomb after intelligence reports suggested one had been smuggled into Northern Ireland from the south.
Amid heightened tensions in the country following the murder of 2 squaddies and 1 policeman during the last week, border security has been tightened, but intelligent agencies reckon a bomb has nonetheless been transported into the North but aren't sure what the intended target is.
Following the murders by dissident republican groups, rallies took place on Wednesday in a number of towns and cities across Northern Ireland, with some five thousand people in Belfast demonstrating their desire to stay on course for a lasting peace. Those marching brandished placards reading; "No going back."Is the situation in Northern Ireland about to get a whole lot worse? This sounds like... more
A man was arrested in Barcelona after the police realized he was wearing a leg cast made out of cocaine. The 66-year-old Chilean man is suspected to have broken his leg intentionally and was found with 10.5 pounds of cocaine.A man was arrested in Barcelona after the police realized he was wearing a leg cast... more