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Colombian Drug Trafficker Extradited From Mexico to U.S.

Mexico border mapBy Matt Castello
ticklethewire.com

A man who represented the interests of a major Colombian drug cartel in Mexico, has been extradited to New York to stand trial, authorities said.

Pedro Antonio Bermudez, known as “El Arquitecto,” was arrested in Mexico City on Oct. 2, 2008 and remained in Mexican custody until his extradition to the U.S. on Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. He was arraigned in federal court in Brooklyn on Wednesday.

Bermudez’s  job was to ensure that cocaine sent to Mexico by the Colombian drug cartel Norte del Valle, was safely delivered to the Mexican cartels, authorities said.

Since 1990, the Norte del Valle Cartel allegedly exported more than 1.2 million pounds of cocaine — worth more than $10 billion — to the U.S., most of which came through Mexico, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

The Colombian shipments were sent by Luis Hernando Gomez Bustamante, one of the leaders of the Norte del Valle Cartel, who pleaded guilty in New York in 2008 to charges including murder and narcotics trafficking.  Bustamante, who was extradited to the U.S. in 2007, is awaiting sentencing.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Authorities Charge 1,215 People in Nationwide Mortgage Fraud Sweep

Atty. Gen. Holder (left) and FBI Director Mueller announce results/fbi photo

Atty. Gen. Holder (left) and FBI Director Mueller announce results/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News
WASHINGTON –The Justice Department today announced the “broadest mortgage fraud sweep” in U.S. history, with criminal charges filed against 1,215 people. Almost 500 have already been arrested in a 3 1/2-month crackdown dubbed “Operation Stolen Dreams.”

Authorities said the operation uncovered $2.3 billion in mortgage fraud losses and recovered $147 million through 191 civil enforcement actions.

Despite the multistate crackdown, FBI Director Robert Mueller said there is still room for concern. He noted that his agency is pursuing more than 3,000 mortgage fraud cases, almost double the number from the last fiscal year.

“Those who prey on the housing market should know that hundreds of FBI agents on task forces and their law enforcement partners are tracking down your schemes, and you will be brought to justice,” Mueller said in a statement.

Attorney General Eric Holder added: “The staggering totals from this sweep highlight the mortgage fraud trends we are seeing around the country. We have seen mortgage fraud take on all shapes and sizes — from schemes that ensnared the elderly to fraudsters who targeted immigrant communities.”

To read more click here.

Read Report

Bound to Happen: Fed Prosecutors Ask Judge to Gag Blago and His Attorneys

BlagoBookBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Who didn’t figure this was coming?

The Chicago U.S. Attorney’s Office is asking U.S. District Judge James Zagel to impose a gag order to shut up ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his lawyers during the ongoing public corruption trial, the Chicago Tribune reported. Prosecutors claim the defense and Blago are trying to sway the jury.

The prosecution filed a 16-page motion Wednesday after Blagojevich and his attorneys made comments to reporters Tuesday at the end of testimony by government witness Alonzo “Lon” Monk, Blagojevich’s former friend and chief of staff, the Tribune reported.

The Tribune said the motion stated that lawyers and Blago made comments “to the press, on camera, giving their takes on Monk’s testimony, and in particular, his credibility, in what essentially amounted to mini-closing arguments on the topic.”

Prosecutors alleged that Blagojevich has conducted endless pre-trial media interviews and hired a public relations firm to sway the jury, the Trib reported.

“Blagojevich used these platforms to try his case in the public realm, often going beyond declaring innocence and instead representing pretrial developments in the court case and making inflammatory comments regarding the prosecutors,” the government wrote in the filing, according to the Tribune.

The prosecution indicated that Blagojevich’s comments after Monk’s testimony were the final straw and that the ex-governor’s alleged efforts to manipulate media coverage and influence the jury “has reached a level that requires court intervention.”

To Read More click.

Read Govt. Motion

ATF Says Fatal Shooting of Biker By Agents Under Review

portland maine mapBy Allan Lengel and Glynnesha Taylor
ticklethewire.com

The ATF office in Boston said Tuesday’s incident in Maine in which ATF agents shot and killed a biker who was named in a 27-person federal indictment is under review.

“The shooting’s under review,” James McNally, a spokesman for the ATF office in Boston told the Boston Globe, adding that it was the only fatal shooting by New England-based agents of the bureau in his memory. “There will be a thorough review.”

ATF agents rounding up more than two dozen members of the American Outlaw Association motorcycle gang in a seven-state sweep, killed Thomas “Tomcat” Mayne, 59, the regional treasurer of the group, in a shoot out just south of Portland, Me., authorities said.

Michael Campbell, a spokesman for ATF in Washington, told ticklethewire.com on Tuesday that agents went to the home in the beachside community of Sandy Circle around 6 a.m. to arrest gang members Mayne and Kenneth Chretian, when they were met by gunfire.

Agents returned fire and shot and killed Mayne, who was wanted on a federal warrant, Campbell said. Chretian, who was wanted on a state warrant, was taken into custody, Campbell said.

The gang is a rival of the Hells Angels, authorities said.

To read more click here.

ICE Working to Rebrand Its Image

John Morton

John Morton

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement known as ICE has an image problem.

So ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton plans to “re-brand”, realign its duties and emphasize criminal investigations over immigrant deportations, the Washington Post is reporting.

“By streamlining and renaming several offices, officials hope to highlight the agency’s counterterrorism, money laundering and other complex criminal investigations and in the process “re-brand” ICE, turning the public — and political — spotlight away from its immigration work,” the Post wrote.

To read full story click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Man Celebrated Pres. Obama’s Election By Burning Down African-American Church

white house photo

white house photo

By Glynnesha Taylor
ticklethewire.com

Not everyone rejoiced the day after President Obama was elected as the first African-American President.

In fact, Massachusetts resident Benjamin Haskell, 23, celebrated by burning down a yet to be completed, predominantly African-American church in Springfield, Mass., on Nov. 5, 2008, the morning after the election, authorities said.

On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to burning down the structure of the Macedonia Church of God in Christ that was 75 percent completed, the Justice Department said.

Read more »

Will Spike TV Spike Reality Show “DEA”?

deashow2By Matt Castello
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — NBC weatherman Al Roker predicts the weather, but his production company, which produces  the reality TV show “DEA”,  has been reluctant to predict whether there will be a third season for the program featured on Spike TV.

By most accounts, the forecast for a third season looks doubtful.

The show, which helped boost the profile of the agency and interest from prospective recruits, last aired on March 31,  2009, more than a year ago.  Both seasons featured agents in gritty, high-crime cities; the first year in Detroit, the second in Newark.

Debra Fazio, a spokeswoman for Spike TV, told ticklethewire.com “no decision has been made yet about a 3rd season.” And Tom Chiodo, a spokesman for Al Roker Entertainment Inc., the producer of the show, echoed similar sentiments, saying he was uncertain as well.

The show, which  followed DEA agents and task force members around as they busted down doors, made arrests and gathered info from informants, played to mixed reviews inside and outside the agency. On the upside, it gave the DEA, which is too often overshadowed by the FBI,  a higher profile and helped boost recruiting.

Read more »

NY Pastor With Cable Show Pleads in $3 Million Jewelry Fraud Scheme

gemBy Glynnesha Taylor
ticklethewire.com

A New York pastor with a religious cable television show pleaded guilty Wednesday in Manhattan federal court to bilking investors out of $3 million in a jewelry fraud scheme.

Samuel Solanky, 63, whose Asian Indian Christian cable show “Vandana”  was broadcast in the New York Metropolitan area and elsewhere around the world, told investors he would use their money to buy gemstones in India, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

He told investors he would then sell the gemstones to jewelers in the United States and promised them a 100 percent return on the investment in months, authorities said.

Unfortunately for the investors, he never bought gems and pocketed the money through a crafty scheme that often involved wiring the money overseas, authorities said. The scheme took place from 2005 to 2009.

Solanky agreed to a forfeiture of $3 million. Sentencing is set for Sept. 29 before U.S. District Judge Stephen C. Robinson.

The website National Jeweler, which reported on the indictment last year, said Solanky’s  website Vandana.org noted that the cable show was broadcast in  New York, Texas, Pakistan, India and all of Asia.  Solanky’s website no  longer appears to be functioning.