Saturday, March 31, 2018

Drug violence escalates in Acapulco

Famed for its beaches and as a playground for the rich and famous the city has descended into chaos as it became a battleground for warring cartels. Yesterday a car filled with tourists drove past burnt and dismembered corpses on Lazaro Cardenas Boulevard in the city. Last month the US government told citizens not to go to the former party town as it was revealed Mexico suffered nearly 30,000 murders last year alone.
The resort city is now at the center of a crime wave that has swept across the country with extortion, kidnaps and murder daily occurrences. Guerrero is one of the poorest and most violent states in Mexico, assailed by drug cartels and endemic corruption.

Murders in Mexico hit a record high last year.

Retail Theft ring Busted in MA

Police say two Brockton men operated an organized retail crime enterprise in which they stole items from home improvements stores and re-sold the merchandise at reduced prices online. 46-year-old Shawn Monteiro and 49-year-old Paul Licciardi in Brockton were arrested after an extended investigation. The men are accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of items, including expensive power tools, generators, portable vacuums, and various Dewalt products, from The Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement locations throughout the state.

Licciardi, the one sent to stores to steal items, used three different methods – double dipping, tag switching and box stuffing.
Licciardi would often purchase an expensive item, but set up two more carts with the same item near exits. After purchasing one of the items, he would re-enter the store with his receipt to make it look like he was picking up an item he had already paid for. Licciardi would also “stuff boxes” by putting more expensive items into boxes of cheap merchandise and switch tags.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Southern Bugs Bunny

Alex Hope - UK Con Man

Alex Hope, 29, was jailed for seven years in 2015 for swindling £5.5 million out of his investors to fund his lavish lifestyle. He was then ordered to serve an extra 18 months behind bars in September 2016 after handing over just £1,000 of a £166,696 confiscation order.

The swindler begged to be allowed out on day release so he could volunteer at a food bank in Brixton. Instead of that, the fraudster went on a £75,000 party spree, which included sending a bottle of champagne to pop star Rihanna.
Hope was released from Brixton prison on 30 November 2016 and immediately re-arreseted. He had three bank cards in his possession. Hope admitted one count of perverting the course of justice and was sentenced to 16 months.

Mob boss Joseph 'Skinny Joey' Merlino to plead guilty in New York

A federal judge says a Philadelphia mob boss will plead guilty rather than face a retrial in his New York City racketeering case. The judge said in a filing this week the government and lawyers for Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino had notified him they’ve reached a plea deal. The terms were not disclosed.

The government had accused Merlino of profiting from gambling and health insurance schemes run by East Coast organized crime families. Merlino has insisted he retired from the mob after serving a lengthy prison term in another case. A trial ended with a hung jury in February. Merlino is due back in court April 27.

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Mexican cartel drug ring busted in Austin, 18 arrested

Authorities arrested 18 people at the J and J Auto Service shop in North Austin. J and J was the distribution center where drugs were unloaded before being sold on the streets in Austin or shipped to other parts of the country like Oklahoma, Minnesota, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi.
Police seized a total of 148 pounds of crystal meth, 56 gallons of liquid meth, 62 pounds of cocaine, 13 pounds of heroin and $400k in cash. 56 gallons of meth suspended in liquid comes out to 400 plus pounds of meth.

Cocaine hidden in mangosteen

Colombian police have seized 33 kilograms of cocaine that was hidden in a mangosteen shipment bound for Hong Kong. Police said that an inspection had been required at Bogotá’s El Dorado airport.
Authorities reportedly found nothing suspicious using X-ray scanners, but then decided to check the shipment with sniffer dogs. Police found cocaine had been hidden inside small, perfectly sealed latex bags inside the fruit. The pulp of the fruits had been removed to make space for the drugs.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Colombo mobster 'Big Mike' Castellano finds new scam

Mobster Michael 'Big Mike' Castellano, who once ran a million-dollar wire fraud scheme, is now scamming immigrant-run businesses in Long Island by posing as a fire extinguisher inspector. Claiming to inspect fire extinguishers for Liberty Fire Extinguisher Sales Co., he charged businesses $20 a fire extinguisher, replacing inspection tags without doing any work. Castellano, 51, ran his swindle on at least 30 businesses, ultimately scoring a little more than $1,000.

That's chump change compared to the MoneyGram scam Castellano ran for the Colombo crime family in the late 2000s — a scheme which cost him $1.4 million in restitution and landed him in federal prison for more than three years.
After his conviction in the MoneyGram case, Castellano said in a letter to his sentencing judge that he wanted to devote himself to caring for his autistic son, and declared, “The life I lived is behind me forever!”
"I know what this is about, the fire extinguishers and fake tags. I'm not hurting no one. Other guys do it. I don't charge much, $20, $40" he said. Castellano now faces charges of falsifying business records, scheme to defraud and petty larceny.

In the 1990s, he and other Colombo mobsters placed ads in newspapers, falsely promising to loan money to people with bad credit in exchange for an up-front payment. They took the payments, but never loaned out any cash.

Italy sentences leaders of € 119m euro black market cigarette ring

A criminal court in Turin has sentenced several individuals to prison and ordered the seizure of millions of euros worth of assets as part of a major trans-national tobacco contraband case. A network of fictitious companies carried out illegal exports from the EU to destinations outside the bloc, while at the same time legally importing tobacco products from third countries which were then put into circulation in the EU without having to pay customs duties and taxes.
Illegal tobacco makes up between 16.5% and 32.7% of the Canadian MarketCorrupt customs officials sometimes validated exports without the containers actually leaving the EU, or validated exports through trucks that had already been impounded.

The court ordered the defendants to pay over € 119 million euros to Italian Customs and €36 million to the Italian Tax Office.

Former NYPD cop pulls 14 years as gangster’s enforcer

When Redinel Dervishaj, a violent Albanian gangster, was running protection rackets in Queens, he had a secret weapon in his arsenal: a New York City police officer who worked as his enforcer.

Besnik Llakatura, 38, was sentenced to 14 years and 3 months in prison. “The defendant’s crimes — committed by a man entrusted with a badge, a gun and a solemn duty to protect and serve the community — are nothing short of shocking,” prosecutors wrote. Last March, Dervishaj was sentenced to 57 years in prison. A few months later, another member of his crew, Denis Nikolla, was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Even after Llakatura was arrested, he continued to pursue his victims. Llakatura sent members of his family to find the owner of a restaurant in an attempt to retaliate against him for cooperating with the government.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

10 arrested in take-down of Lucchese crime family

Ten people connected to the Luccese crime family are accused of running a lucrative loan-sharking and gambling operation. The long-term investigation, dubbed "Operation The Vig Is Up," into the crime family's activities is the largest such operation ever investigated by the state attorney general.
Loan-sharking victims were required to make weekly, high interest “vig” payments, either by directly paying individual defendants or by dropping off cash payments at two New Rochelle businesses.

Investigators utilized wiretaps, covert surveillance cameras, a car bug, undercover police officers and hidden cameras.
Lucchese crime family boss Matthew Madonna (left) and his second-in-command Steven Crea Sr.

Montreal men indicted in illegal U.S. online money-laundering operation

Ferhan Patel, 37, and his brother Firoz, 43, are charged with conspiring to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business. If convicted, they each face maximum sentences of 25 years. The Patel brothers are the founders and operators of, and The internet-based unlicensed money service business processed more than $250 million in transactions.
Customers included Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes and a child pornography site. The Patels opened bank accounts in the United States and laundered their illegal proceeds through those accounts. The alleged conspiracies began in 2012. Firoz Patel

Monday, March 26, 2018

Montreal Mobster Francesco Arcadi parolled

Francesco Arcadi, 64, convinced the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) to let him return home on March 9, after a long stay in a halfway house. The PBC mentions that the Mafiosi had a "blameless course" since leaving the penitentiary in February 2016, after serving two-thirds of his sentence. Arcadi had risen to the top of the mafia after the arrest of godfather Vito Rizzuto in 2004. He was said to be loyal to the godfather, but he was far less diplomatic. While he was being unknowingly recorded by police during the Colisée investigation, Arcadi ordered one of his henchmen to threaten another Mafioso with "slicing his throat like a goat".
Street gangs in Montreal blamed him for comparing their members to "monkeys". He was beaten by a street gang member upon his arrival at the Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines penitentiary, after being convicted of conspiracy, cocaine trafficking, and gangsterism.

Texas man sentenced for trafficking enough Fentanyl to kill 5.8 million

57-year-old Jeffrey Layne Parker has been ordered to prison following his conviction of trafficking heroin, cocaine and nearly 12 kilograms of fentanyl. Parker was sentenced to serve a total of 168 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by five years of supervised release. The fentanyl found in Parker’s car could have caused the deaths of up to 5.8 million people - more than the populations of Dallas, San Antonio and Houston combined. In handing down the sentence the judge noted the quantities of narcotics found in Parker’s possession, his extensive criminal record and the fact that Parker had transported narcotics loads at least four times.
Parker was first arrested March 7, 2017, after authorities found 16 packages of narcotics concealed in the trunk of his car at the Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint just north of Laredo. This included 11.77 kilograms of fentanyl, 1.85 kilograms of heroin, 76 grams of cocaine and 1.41 kilograms of marijuana. He was arrested but later released following a medical issue.
Parker was arrested three months later on June 7, 2017. At that time, he approached the same checkpoint and agents found nine bundles containing 11.15 kilograms of heroin hidden behind the speakers in a Ford pickup truck he was driving.

Europol tracks down leader of Carbanak malware

The leader of a criminal ring responsible for the theft of over €1 billion from financial institutions has been arrested. The suspect, arrested in Alicante, Spain, is the mastermind behind Carbanak and Cobalt malware campaigns which accounted for over 100 banks and financial organizations as victims.

The cybercriminals have been active since 2013, striking banks in over 40 countries in order to steal at least €1 billion. The group behind the malware, labeled as FIN7, infected systems through spear phishing in order to spy on staff, watch how they transferred cash, and then mimic the techniques to transfer funds fraudulently without being discovered.
After 2016, the threat extended to include malware which also permitted the remote control of victim PCs, leading to the infection of servers which control ATMs. Stolen funds were cashed out through the remote control of ATMs, in which dispensers were forced to spew out cash -- when money mules would be waiting nearby to collect the money. Profits were laundered through the purchase and exchange of cryptocurrencies. Virtual coins were linked to prepaid cards to buy luxury goods including vehicles and property.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

$8.4m in cocaine found in underground bunker beneath California backyard

140kg — roughly 300 pounds — came after cops stopped a vehicle along the 60 Freeway. The stop was initiated by a joint police operation. Officials said the cocaine bust is part of a larger investigation.

Cartel gangster Santiago Meza Lopez - ‘The Stew Maker’

Thousands of fragments of bone uncovered by cops is believed to be victims of the gangster nicknamed El Pozolero – the Stew Maker.

Santiago Meza Lopez was first captured in 2009 and confessed to helping the Sinaloa cartel get rid of bodies.
Hundreds of people disappear every year as cartels wage bloody war. ‘The Stew Maker’ received $700 per body he disposed of, of which he spent $400 in materials. He says that he bought four or five bulbs of garlic. Before starting the dissolving process, he would fry the garlic, the smell of it overpowered the smell of the caustic soda emitted when he was "stewing a body". Lopez was arrested in 2009 and confessed to dissolving at least 300 bodies in caustic soda.
Experts estimate there could be the remains of up to 650 people in the mass graves.