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Tag: New Orleans

Louisiana Drug Trafficker Used Dog and Cockfights to Recruit for His Drug Ring

louisiana-mapBy Matt Castello
ticklethewire.com

For a big-time Louisiana drug trafficker, the dog and cockfighting ring served as the ideal venue to help expand his drug ring.

Pedro Mendez Ramos, of Church Point, La., who authorities described as “an avid pit bull and cock fighter”, used more than 300 gamecocks and 60 pit bulls as a recruiting tool for the drug organization he headed up.

Late last week, Ramos, 41, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Lake Charles, La., to 12.5 years in prison.

Authorities said the organization transported and distributed cocaine and marijuana from the Brownsville, Tex. area to the Church Point, La. area and then to Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, and other parts of Louisiana.

Members of the Gulf Cartel, a Matamoros, Mexico based drug organization, directly supplied drugs to Ramos’ crew, authorities said.

An investigation nicknamed “Operation Fowl Play” and “Rio Gallo” netted indictments of 18 men (including Ramos) on a variety of drug trafficking, money laundering and firearms charges.

The DEA, working together with local and state law enforcement, seized approximately 111 kilograms of cocaine from the drug organization along with $1.8 million in cash and about $1 million in property in Louisiana and Texas, authorities said.

The DEA said it’s not unusual for there to be a connection between dog fighting and other illicit activities including drug sales.

“I don’t want to say it goes hand in hand, but its safe to say there’s an overlap” between dog fighting and other forms of crime, Special Agent Roberto Bryan, a DEA spokesman in New Orleans told ticklethewire.com.

With Fed Indictments & Justice Dept. Intervention: Scandal-Plagued New Orleans Police Dept. at Crossroads

new-orleans-map-istock
By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

In New Orleans, a town known for its jambalaya, jazz and hospitality, it hasn’t been difficult over the years to find folks willing to serve up some harsh words about their often-maligned and scandal-plagued police department.

That may change — even with the latest federal indictments for the shootings after Hurricane Katrina.

The Big Easy has a new mayor, Mitch Landrieu. The Justice Department — at his request — has stepped in to examine signs of systemic police misconduct. And a new police chief, Ronal Serpas, has been installed.

The department is at a crossroads. And the nation is watching a department in need of an extreme makeover.

Just this week, Americans got a glimpse of the department’s travails: The Justice Department announced the indictment of six New Orleans cops in the post-Katrina shootings of six unarmed people on Danziger Bridge, two of whom died. The charges come on top of decades of scandal: cops busted for drug trafficking, bribes, rape and murder.

To read full story click here

Justice Dept. Showing Face in Assessment of New Orleans Police Dept.

new-orleans-map-istockBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is starting to show its face in the New Orleans police department as part of a wide-scale assessment of the troubled police force.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that on Friday  “a handful of representatives from the Department of Justice’s Special Litigation Section sat silently, taking in the scene and jotting down occasional notes” a the department’s weekly command meeting on crime.

The paper reported that the Justice Department is on the ground in New Orleans beginning the assessment of a department that has recently seen several current and former cops indicted in connection with the shooting of civilians and the cover up of those cases.

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez recently announced the inquiry, which will assess systemic problems that need correcting.

To read more click here.

5 Ex and Current New Orleans Cops Indicted in Post Katrina Fatal Shooting

new-orleans-map-istockBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Nearly five years after Katrina, New Orleans,  the city of jazz, Cajun cooking and legendary partying, still bears the scars. So does the tarnished police department.

The latest reminder of the troubles the police department still faces came Friday  when a federal grand jury indicted three current cops and two former ones in connection with the police shooting of a resident, who was fatally shot days after Hurricane Katrina, the Justice Department announced.

“Behavior such as described in the indictment has no place in a free society, let alone law enforcement,” David Welker, head of the FBI in New Orleans, said in a statement.

Read more »

New Orleans Times-Picayune Editorial: Justice Dept. Probe Into BP Spill “Necessary Step”

BPBy New Orleans Times-Picayune
Editorial

NEW ORLEANS — The Justice Department’s investigation into possible criminal and civil violations related to BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is an important and necessary step.

The more Americans learn about the decisions and missteps that may have contributed to the disaster, the more it seems that a wide range of infractions took place.

Visiting New Orleans Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the criminal probe into the matter has been under way for several weeks. He said FBI agents and personnel from civil branches of the Justice Department have been in Louisiana since shortly after the well’s explosion, collecting documents and other evidence.

Mr. Holder promised a “meticulous, comprehensive and aggressive” inquiry. “We won’t rest until we’re done,” he said.

Residents of the Gulf Coast are owed that much.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. Announces Criminal and Civil Probes in Gulf Spill

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

As expected, the Justice Department is going after those involved in the ugliest oil spill in U.S. history.

Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. announced Tuesday in New Orleans that the Justice Department was launching a criminal and civil probe into the Gulf spill that continues to kill wildlife and livelihoods and is likely to cost the Obama administration some serious political capital.

“As we move forward, we will be guided by simple principles: We will ensure that every cent of taxpayer money will be repaid and damages to the environment and wildlife will be reimbursed,” Holder said a in prepared statement posted on the Justice Dept. website.

“We will make certain that those responsible clean up the mess they have made and restore or replace the natural resources lost or injured in this tragedy. And we will prosecute to the full extent any violations of the law.”

In the Rose Garden at the White House, President Obama remarked:

“We owe all those who’ve been harmed, as well as future generations, a full and vigorous accounting of the events that led to what has now become the worst oil spill in U.S. history.”

Read New York Times story

Read Eric Holder’s Statement

Read President Obama’s Statement

4 People Plead Guilty in Prank to Tamper With Sen. Landrieu’s Phones

Sen. Mary Landrieu/govt photo

Sen. Mary Landrieu/govt photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Four conservative activists including political prankster James O’Keefe,  pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to misdemeanor charges stemming from their prank in January to tamper with Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office phones in New Orleans, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

O’Keefe, the group leader and the most prominent of the four, was sentenced to three years probation, 100 hours of community service and fined a $1,500 fine, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

He gained notoriety for wearing a pimp costume in a video that embarrassed ACORN and exposed some less than admirable traits — or at least less than admirable employees — of the non-profit organization.

The other three people were sentenced to  two years probation, 75 hours of community service and fined them $1,500, the paper reported.. They pleaded guilty to entering real property belonging to the United States under false pretenses.

O’Keefe tried using his cell phone to capture two men posing as telephone repairmen in the Senator’s office.

The defendants said in court they did not intend to commit a crime, the Picayune reported.

3rd New Orleans Cop Pleads Guilty in Post-Katrina Shooting Case

new orleans police badge
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The ugliness of the post-Katrina police shootings in New Orleans that left two unarmed citizens dead and four wounded in 2005 on the infamous Danziger Bridge continued to unravel in U.S. District Court.

New Orleans cop Michael Hunter,33, became the third cop –and the first to actually witness the shootings — to plead guilty. Two other cops have pleaded guilty to covering it up during an investigation.

He plead guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to obstruct justice and misprision of a felony, or failing to report a crime, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that Hunter in his guilty plea said that a New Orleans police sergeant fired an assault rifle at wounded civilians at close range even after other officers stopped firing and there was no indication the officers were in danger.

The paper reported that Hunter also admitted that another officer fired a shotgun at a fleeing man’s back even though the man, who was mentally disabled, posed no danger. He died.

Hunter, according to the Times Picayune, acknowledged as part of the guilty plea partaking in a cover up with colleagues.

“I don’t think you can listen to that account without being sickened by the raw brutality of the shooting and the craven lawlessness of the cover-up,” said U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance after the facts in the guilty plea were read aloud in court by Bobbi Bernstein, deputy chief of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, the Picayune reported.

To read more click here.

Read Factual Basis