Archive for September, 2012

Mexico Catches Zetas Drug Capo ‘El Taliban’

September 27, 2012

By MARK STEVENSON | Associated Press, September 27, 2012

Mexico appeared to strike a major blow against one faction of the hyper-violent Zetas cartel, with the navy announcing it has captured one of the country’s most-wanted drug traffickers, Ivan Velazquez Caballero, known as “El Taliban.”

This undated image provided by U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control shows Ivan Velazquez Caballero, known as "El Taliban." "A person who is presumed to be, and acknowledges being, Ivan Velazquez Caballero, was captured in the state of San Luis Potosi" in north-central Mexico, the navy said in a statement Wednesday night Sept. 26, 2012. If confirmed, Velazquez Caballero's arrest could calm some of the brutal violence that has hit border cities like Nuevo Laredo, across from Laredo, Texas, in recent weeks. (AP Photo/US Department of Treasury)

This undated image provided by U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets

Velazquez Caballero has been fighting a bloody internal battle with top Zetas’ leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, and officials have said the split was behind a recent surge in massacres and shootouts, particularly in northern Mexico.

“A person who is presumed to be, and acknowledges being, Ivan Velazquez Caballero, was captured in the state of San Luis Potosi” in north-central Mexico, the navy said in a statement on Wednesday.

Officials were presenting Velazquez Caballero to the media Thursday morning.

Also known as “Z-50,” Velazquez Caballero has a 30 million peso ($2.3 million) reward on his head.

If confirmed, Velazquez Caballero’s arrest could calm some of the brutal violence that has hit border cities like Nuevo Laredo, across from Laredo, Texas, in recent weeks.

On Sept. 14, eight men were found shot to death and one hanging from a bridge in Nuevo Laredo, territory traditionally controlled by Trevino Morales, alias “Z-40.” Analysts say 14 bullet-ridden bodies stuffed in a van in mid-August in San Luis Potosi were men loyal to “El Taliban,” and may have been left there as a warning by Trevino Morales’ underlings.

Discussing recent fighting, a U.S. official in Mexico who could not be named for security reason said earlier this week that “I think right now the uptick that I’m seeing is between ’40’ and ’50’,” referring to Trevino Morales and Velazquez Caballero by their “Z” aliases.

The Zetas cartel takes its name from a police radio code in which “Z” means “commander,” and a number refers to rank.

The official said Velazquez Caballero appeared to have formed an alliance of convenience with the Knights Templar cartel based in southern Michoacan state for his fight with Trevino Morales.

Banners signed by various elements of the Zetas and hung from overpasses in several Mexican states appeared to confirm mutual hatred between Trevino Morales and Velazquez Caballero. In the obscenity-laden banners, the two capos accused each other of betraying their fellow traffickers and preying on civilians.

If the man arrested as “El Taliban” is confirmed, the development could strengthen Trevino Morales, who shares leadership of the Zetas with Heriberto Lazcano, alias “El Lazca.”

The U.S. official played down recent speculation that Trevino Morales and Lazcano had also fallen out.

“I’m not familiar with a fight between him (Trevino Morales) and Lazca,” the official said. “I think he and Lazca — Lazca is doing his thing and he is doing his, and they’re still together from what I understand.”

Lawmen and even competing drug capos picture Trevino as a brutal assassin who favors getting rid of foes by stuffing them into oil drums, dousing them with gasoline and setting them on fire, a practice known as a “guiso,” a Spanish word for “stew.”

The Zetas are already considered the hemisphere’s most violent criminal organization. They have been blamed for a large share of the tens of thousands of deaths in Mexico’s war on drugs, though other gangs also have repeatedly committed mass slayings.

Running gun battles between Navy personnel and gunmen broke out late Wednesday in the border city of Piedras Negras, across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas.

Officials in the border state of Coahuila confirmed the shootouts, and state security spokesman Sergio Cisbeles said the confrontation was serious, but he could not immediately confirm whether there anyone was wounded or dead.

The Zetas have been known to be active in Coahuila state, but it was unclear whether the confrontations in Piedras Negras were related in any way to the capture of Velazquez Caballero.

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MS-13 and the Threat of Transnational Gangs

September 27, 2012

By Christiane Amanpour, Mary-Rose Abraham, David Miller & Brad Marxer | Around the World, September 26, 2012

El Salvador is a small country in Central America with the unfortunate distinction of a big number. It has one of the highest murder rates in the world, an average of 18 killings every day. That’s in large part because of the country’s ruthless street gangs. So when the two biggest rivals called a truce this spring, the murder rate dropped by 30 percent. That tenuous peace lasted just six months. Earlier in September, five schoolboys were murdered after resisting a gang’s forced recruitment.

That gang is thought to be Mara Salvatrucha, more commonly known as MS-13. The gang is not even native to El Salvador. In fact, it’s an American export. Born on the streets of Los Angeles, MS-13, and its rival 18th Street, both took root in Central America after many of their members were deported for crimes committed in the United States.

MS-13 is now active in almost every region of the U.S. And Sureno gangs, including MS-13 and 18th Street, are the fastest growing of all the national-level gangs. They’re a big reason why gangs overall are responsible for almost half of violent crime in large urban areas of the U.S.

This week Christiane Amanpour discusses the threats posed by transnational gangs with Martin Licciardo. He heads the FBI’s National Gang Task Force, which maintains extensive ties with law enforcement counterparts in Central America.

To watch the video portion of this report, copy and paste the link below into your web-browser:

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/around-the-world-abc-news/ms-13-threat-transnational-gangs-025851736.html

Confronted About Child Porn, Man Shoots Two Deputies in San Diego County

September 26, 2012

By Diana Guevara, Sarah Grieco and R. Stickney, NBCSanDiego.com, September 25, 2012

A Lakeside, Calif. man confronted about alleged child porn opened fire inside his apartment, shooting and injuring two deputies before shooting himself, according to the man’s girlfriend.

The girlfriend told NBC San Diego that she was getting her two daughters ready for school when she found pornographic pictures of her boyfriend and her two daughters engaged in sex acts on his cell phone. The suspect has been identified as Daniel Robert Witczak, 30.

The woman headed to the sheriff’s office, showed them the photos and called the suspect on a deputy-tapped phone line to confront him.

Her boyfriend told her that he planned to sell the photos for $50,000 to a child porn site.

The couple had been dating a year, the woman said, who added that her boyfriend was unemployed. She said he planned to support them with the money he would have made with the photos.

Deputies, including a child abuse detective, entered the apartment complex to confront the suspect while the woman and her daughters waited outside. The woman said that after the deputies stormed the apartment, her boyfriend shot the two deputies with a high-powered rifle and then shot himself.

Both deputies were transported to Sharp Memorial Hospital, KPBS.org reported. Lt. Duncan Fraser of the sheriff’s office said at a press conference that both men were in surgery.

One patient arriving to a Sharp Memorial Hospital was shirtless on the first gurney coming out of the Lakeside Fire District paramedics van. That ambulance was followed by another carrying a victim covered by medical cloth.

The suspect was transported to Scripps Mercy Hospital, according to a hospital source. His former employer told NBC News that he had been employed as a mechanic but was fired after a week because he was unreliable.

The shooting occurred at Ashwood and Mapleview streets just south of the Lakeside Rodeo Grounds, said Lt. Mike Munsey of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Resident Jodi Davis, who lives across the street from where the shooting occurred, said she heard between 12 and 18 shots.

“Multiple shots, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,” Davis said. “I said, ‘Oh my gosh — those are gunshots!'”

She said the police ordered her and her neighbors back into their apartments.

Nearby El Capitan High School went into lockdown; students were dismissed at 1:20 p.m.

NBC San Diego reporters at the scene said officers responded from agencies throughout San Diego County.

 

Could It Be That Obama Lied?

September 26, 2012

Libyan president to NBC: Anti-Islam film had ‘nothing to do with’ US Consulate attack

From NBC News, September 25, 2012

An anti-Islam film that sparked violent protests in many countries had “nothing to do with” a deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi earlier this month, Libya’s president told NBC News.

In an exclusive interview with NBC News’ Ann Curry, President Mohamed Magarief discounted claims that the attack was in response to a movie produced in California and available on YouTube. He noted that the assault happened on Sept. 11 and that the video had been available for months before that.

“Reaction should have been, if it was genuine, should have been six months earlier. So it was postponed until the 11th of September,” he said. “They chose this date, 11th of September to carry a certain message.”

Magarief said there were no protesters at the site before the attack, which he noted came in two assaults, first with rocket-propelled grenades on the consulate, then with mortars at a safe house.

The attack took the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens, as well as information management officer Sean Smith and security personnel Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

Magarief told Curry that based on the accuracy of the assault, he believes the attackers must have had training and experience using the weapons.

“It’s a pre-planned act of terrorism,” he said, adding that the anti-Islam film had “nothing to do with this attack.”

‘A strong friend’
Magarief said that while Libyans appeared to be behind the attack that “these Libyans do not represent the Libyan people or Libyan population in any sense of the word.”

He added: “We consider the United States as a friend, not only a friend, a strong friend, who stood with us in our moment of need.”

More than 40 people have been questioned in connection with the incident, the Libyan leader told Curry.

He described Stevens as a “humble and very unique human being” and a “great friend of Libya.”

The Obama administration initially maintained that the attacks were directly linked to protests over the film. Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sept. 16, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said: “What happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, prompted by the video.”

However, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney last week said it was “self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack.”

Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, President Barack Obama said: “There are no words that excuse the killing of innocent” people.

 

ATF’s Latest Gun Grab

September 25, 2012

Obama Allowing Agency to Reduce Due Process for Seizing Firearms

From The Washington Times By Nita Ghei, Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Obama administration is making it  easier for bureaucrats to take away guns without offering the accused any  realistic due process. In a final rule published last week, the Justice  Department granted the Bureau  of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)  authority to “seize and administratively forfeit property involved in  controlled-substance abuses.” That means government can grab firearms and other  property from someone who has never been convicted or even charged with any  crime.

It’s a dangerous extension of the civil-forfeiture doctrine, a surreal legal  fiction in which the seized property — not a person — is put on trial. This  allows prosecutors to dispense with pesky constitutional rights, which  conveniently don’t apply to inanimate objects. In this looking-glass world, the  owner is effectively guilty until proved innocent and has the burden of proving  otherwise. Anyone falsely accused will never see his property again unless he  succeeds in an expensive uphill legal battle.

Such seizures are common in drug cases, which sometimes can ensnare people  who have done nothing wrong. James Lieto  found out about civil forfeiture the hard way when the FBI  seized $392,000 from his business because the money was being carried by an  armored-car firm he had hired that had fallen under a federal investigation. As  the Wall Street Journal reported, Mr. Lieto was never accused of any crime, yet  he spent thousands in legal fees to get his money back.

Law enforcement agencies love civil forfeiture because it’s extremely  lucrative. The Department of Justice’s Assets Forfeiture Fund had $2.8 billion  in booty in 2011, according to a January audit. Seizing guns from purported  criminals is nothing new; Justice destroyed or kept 11,355 guns last year,  returning just 396 to innocent owners. The new ATF rule undoubtedly is designed  to ramp up the gun-grabbing because, as the rule justification claims, “The  nexus between drug trafficking and firearm violence is well established.”

The main problem is that civil forfeiture creates a perverse profit motive,  leaving bureaucrats with strong incentives to abuse a process that doesn’t  sufficiently protect those who may be wrongly accused. Criminal forfeiture is  more appropriate because it’s tied to a conviction in a court with the option of  a jury trial and evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Innocents like Mr.  Lieto have to fight against the might of the U.S. government with a  watered-down standard that stacks the legal deck so prosecutors can get a quick  win.

The rule extending civil-forfeiture power to the ATF recognizes this dynamic,  stating with perhaps unconscious cynicism that an uncontested civil forfeiture “can be perfected  for minimal cost” compared to the “hundreds or thousands of  dollars” and “years” needed for judicial forfeiture. Nowhere is there any  recognition of the burden placed on innocent citizens stripped of their  property, or of the erosion of their civil liberties. In fact, the rule argues  that, because in the past the ATF could turn over requests for civil forfeiture  to the Drug Enforcement Administration, there has been no change in “individual  rights.”

Instead of expanding the profit motive in policing, Attorney General Eric H.  Holder Jr. should be working to eliminate it.

Nita Ghei is a contributing Opinion writer for The Washington  Times.

U.S. Dept. of Justice Inspector General: Obama White House ‘Made it Impossible’ to Pursue Lead in Fast and Furious Probe

September 25, 2012
From www.cnsnews.com By Fred Lucas, September 20, 2012

The White House’s refusal to release  communications related to the Fast and Furious gun-walking program and  the refusal of a White House official to be interviewed about the matter  “made it impossible” for the inspector general (IG) of the Justice  Department to “pursue that aspect of the case,” the IG, Michael  Horowitz, testified.

He added that the sought-after White House interview and communications constituted “a lead we wanted to follow.”

At a hearing of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee  on Thursday, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) asked Horowitz, “You noted also in your report that the White House refused to share internal communications with you during your investigation of Fast and Furious. We’ve noted a connection into the White House through Kevin O’Reilly at the National Security Council.  Do you  think the White House’s refusal to share these documents limited the  scope of your investigation? Would this committee be well served by  pursuing an investigation into that avenue?”

Horowitz answered, “Well, as we noted in the report, and as you know, congressman, we did not get  internal communications from the White House and Mr. O’Reilly’s  unwillingness to speak to us made it impossible for us to pursue that  angle of the case and the question that had been raised.”

Farenthold: “So it would probably be worthwhile for us to pursue?”

Horowitz: “Well, certainly we have sought to pursue every lead we could.  So, I can tell you, from our standpoint it was a lead we wanted to follow.”

The report, A Review of ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious and Related Matters, was released yesterday by the office of the inspector general.

Mr. O’Reilly is Kevin O’Reilly and when Fast and Furious was in  operation he was a member of President Barack Obama’s National Security  Staff.

The IG report states, “We also sought to interview Kevin O’Reilly, an  official with the White House National Security Staff, about  communications he had in 2010 with Special Agent in Charge William  Newell that included information about Operation Fast and Furious.  O’Reilly declined through his personal counsel our request for an  interview.”

Bill Newell was the ATF Special Agent in Charge for the Phoenix, Ariz., office that was running Operation Fast and Furious.

The IG report says, “We sought to interview O’Reilly in light of  e-mail communications he had with Special Agent in Charge Bill Newell in  2010.”

“Newell told us that he had known O’Reilly during previous field  office assignments and that the two shared information about firearms  trafficking issues relevant to their geographic areas of  responsibility,” the report said. “According to Newell, O’Reilly was  also friends with ATF’s White House Liaison and through that  relationship O’Reilly would be included on some information sharing  between Newell and the ATF Liaison about ATF’s efforts on the Southwest  Border, and that O’Reilly eventually communicated with Newell directly.”

Operation Fast and Furious was run by the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol,  Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), which is overseen by the Department  of Justice, headed by Attorney General Eric Holder. The program, which  ran from the fall of 2009 to mid-December 2010, allowed guns to “walk”  into the hands of Mexican drug cartels through straw purchasers.

More than 2,000 firearms, largely AK-47s and 5.7 caliber pistols,  were sold and allowed to walk. The ATF recovered only about 100 of the  2,000-plus weapons. In January 2010, a straw purchaser, Jaime Avila –  well known to the ATF — bought three AK-47s at a Phoenix-area gun  store. Two of those weapons were later found at the murder scene of U.S.  Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry on Dec. 14, 2010.

After Terry’s death, Operation Fast and Furious was halted and Avila was arrested.

At the hearing on Thursday, Committee Chairman Darrel Issa (R_Calif.)  asked Inspector General Horowitz: “Kevin O’Reilly. Could you tell us a  little bit about your effort to reach out to Kevin O’Reilly, a member of  the White House national security team?

Horowitz said: “We reached out to his lawyer, requested an interview.  We have no basis to compel interviews from individuals who work outside  the Department of Justice. He was not working in the Department of  Justice so we had to ask for a voluntary interview and he denied ….”

Issa:  “Would it surprise you he’s been in Afghanistan. We’ve been denied.”

Horowitz:  “I was not aware of where he was.”

Issa:  “I’m sorry, it was Iraq [not Afghanistan].”

Horowitz: “I don’t recall knowing myself where he was, but we were told by his council that he would not [grant an interview].”

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been seeking  to interview O’Reilly for more than year. According to CBS News, the  White House disclosed in the fall of 2011 that O’Reilly had been  reassigned from the National Security Staff to a position with the State  Department in Iraq.

O’Reilly’s attorney reportedly said that his client would agree to a  telephone interview with the committee but only if the White House said  okay. White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler has stated that O’Reilly will  not be permitted to give an interview.

CBS reported, “citing Executive  Branch confidentiality interests, Ruemmler said, ‘There is an  insufficient basis to support the request to interview Mr. O’Reilly.’”

Michael W. Chapman contributed to this report.

Did Colorado Shooter Single Out Cinemark Theater Because It Banned Guns?

September 25, 2012

By , September 10, 2012, FoxNews.com

With 12 dead and 58 wounded, the July 20th shooting at the Cinemark Century  16 Theater in Aurora, Colorado was sure to result in a lawsuit. On Friday, the  first suit was announced, claiming Cinemark has “primary responsibility.” The theater did have responsibility for the attack, but not for the reasons that  the lawyers bringing the case think.

The lawyer bringing the suit, Attorney Marc Bern,  with the New York city law firm of Napoli,  Bern, Ripka and Scholonik,  suggested the theater should have had security guards the night of the attack.  Yet, checking bags or metal detectors at the front of the theater that night  wouldn’t have prevented the attack. The killer brought his guns in through an  emergency backdoor.

Armed security guards at movie theaters are rare in low crime areas, such as  Aurora, especially on less crowded weeknights. And, with an audience fleeing the  theater, armed guards may have experienced difficulty getting quickly  inside.

So why did the killer pick the Cinemark theater? You might think that it was  the one closest to the killer’s apartment. Or, that it was the one with the  largest audience.

Yet, neither explanation is right. Instead, out of all the movie theaters  within 20 minutes of his apartment showing the new Batman movie that night, it  was the only one where guns were banned. In Colorado, individuals with permits  can carry concealed handgun in most malls, stores, movie theaters, and  restaurants. But private businesses can determine whether permit holders can  carry guns on their private property.

Most movie theaters allow permit holders carrying guns. But the Cinemark  movie theater was the only one with a sign posted at the theater’s entrance.

A simple web search and some telephone  calls reveal how easily one can find out how Cinemark compared to other movie theaters.  According to mapquest.com and movies.com, there were seven movie theaters  showing “The Dark Knight Rises” on July 20th within 20 minutes of the killer’s  apartment at 1690 Paris St, Aurora, Colorado. At 4 miles and an 8-minute car  ride, the Cinemark’s Century Theater wasn’t the closest. Another theater was  only 1.2 miles (3 minutes) away.

There was also a theater just slightly further away, 10 minutes. It is the  “home of Colorado’s largest auditorium,” according to their movie hotline  greeting message. The potentially huge audience ought to have been attractive to  someone trying to kill as many people as possible. Four other theaters were 18  minutes, two at 19 minutes, and 20 minutes away. But all of those theaters  allowed permitted concealed handguns.

So why would a mass shooter pick a place that bans guns? The answer should be  obvious, though it apparently is not clear to the media – disarming law-abiding  citizens leaves them as sitting ducks.

Concealed carry is much more frequent than many people believe. With over 4  percent of the adult population in Colorado having concealed handgun permits, a  couple hundred adults in Cinemark’s movie theater #9 means that there is an  extremely high probability that at least one adult would have a permit.

Unfortunately, some have still not figured this out. A manager at the Harkins  Northfield 18 five miles from the killer’s apartment told me, the theater  changed its policy and started banning concealed handguns following the Cinemark  attack.

The recent Colorado and Sikh  Temple shootings are by no means the first times that killers targeted  gun-free zones. We have witnessed mass public shootings in such places as the  Westroads Mall in Omaha, Nebraska and the Trolley Square Mall in Salt Lake City,  Utah. In both cases, guns were banned at those particular malls, but not at  other similar venues that allowed guns and were spared. With just one single  exception, the attack in Tucson last year, every public shooting since at least  1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken  place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns.

And remember the 1999 Columbine attack in Colorado. Few appreciate that Dylan Klebold, one of the two  Columbine killers, was following (keeping track of) Colorado legislation that would have let  citizens carry a concealed handgun.  Presumably, he feared being stopped during his attack by someone with a weapon.  In fact, the Columbine attack occurred the very day that final passage was  scheduled.

Gun-free zones are a magnet for those who want to kill many people quickly.  Even the most ardent gun control advocate would never put “Gun-Free Zone” signs  on their home. Let’s stop finally putting them elsewhere.

John R. Lott, Jr. is a FOXNews.com  contributor. He is an economist and co-author of the just released “Debacle:  Obama’s War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future” (John Wiley & Sons, March 2012). Follow him on Twitter@johnrlottjr.

Flags Lowered for York Co., SC Deputy Killed 20 Years Ago

September 25, 2012

From www.wsoctv.com, September 25, 2012

Flags will be flown at half-staff Tuesday in York County.

It is to honor a deputy killed on duty 20 years ago Tuesday.

Two men shot and killed Brent McCants, 23, on Dave Lyle Boulevard in Rock Hill during a traffic stop.

Brent McCants
Brent McCants

McCants had stopped the car that was driving without headlights.

The men convicted in the slaying, Mar-Reece Hughes and Dwayne Forney, are still in prison.

Deputies will also wear black bands across their badges.

Cornelius, NC Police Major Retiring

September 25, 2012

From The Charlotte Observer, September 25, 2012

Cornelius police Maj. David King is retiring after 24 years with the town department.

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Cornelius Police Maj. David King

King, who began his career in law enforcement in 1981, has served as a major with the Cornelius police department since 2004. King previously was an investigator, patrol sergeant and captain, among other roles within the town’s police force.

During his service, King earned an Advanced Law Enforcement Certificate from the N.C. Department of Justice and was a 2004 graduate of the FBI Academy in Quantico, according to Cornelius officials.

King, whose retirement goes into effect on Oct. 1, plans to travel in the future with his wife and dogs. His son is currently a patrol officer with the Cornelius police department.

Obama Extends Diplomatic Immunity to Interpol by Executive Order

September 22, 2012

The New Media Journal, December 22, 2009

President Obama has issued an amendment to Executive Order 12425,  designating the international law enforcement agency Interpolas a “public international organization,” thus extending diplomatic immunity to the law enforcement group

The amendment to the Executive Order — which does not need to be put to the senatorial test of “advise and consent” — reads:

“By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (22 U.S.C. 288), and in order to extend the appropriate privileges, exemptions, and immunities to the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), it is hereby ordered that Executive Order 12425 of June 16, 1983, as amended, is further amended by deleting from the first sentence the words “except those provided by Section 2(c), Section 3, Section 4, Section 5, and Section 6 of that Act” and the semicolon that immediately precedes them.”

The text of Section 2(c), which now applies to Interpol states:

“(c) Property and assets of international organizations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, unless such immunity be expressly waived, and from confiscation. The archives of international organizations shall be inviolable.”