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Monday, February 28, 2011

Federal Charges Filed Against Eleven Arrested After Discovery and Seizure of Marijuana, Cocaine, Firearms, Grenades and Ammunition

(McALLEN, Texas) — Federal charges of drug-trafficking and illegal weapons-exporting crimes have been filed in U.S. District Court in McAllen, Texas, against a total of 11 defendants arrested earlier this week, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Charged by criminal complaint filed today with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 3,267 kilograms of marijuana and 66.25 kilograms of cocaine seized from residences on West Gardenia Street and I-J Avenue in McAllen on Wednesday, Feb. 23, are Edgar Daniel Zapata, 30, Francisco Ivan Zapata, 25; Jose Leonso Pecina, 20; Arturo Zapata-Ortiz, 52; Jose Rafael Chavira, 34; Rene Alberto Loera, 38; Santos Isidro De La Paz, 22; Alma San Juana Pecina, 46; and Jose Francisco Padilla, 30. Several of the defendants are undocumented aliens from Mexico; one defendant, Jose Francisco Padilla, is a U.S. citizen from McAllen.

A second complaint filed today also charges Zapata and De La Paz along with Jose David Arturo Reyes-Lopez, 28, and Jose Guadalupe Reyes-Martinez, 48, both Mexican nationals, with unlawful export and attempted export of 1,802 cartridges of .308 caliber ammunition seized from a residence on I-J Avenue in McAllen on Wednesday.

According to the allegations in the criminal complaints, law enforcement agents seized large amounts of illegal drugs and weapons from residences in McAllen on February 23—the day the defendants were arrested. In addition to the marijuana and cocaine, agents also seized several hand grenades; over 1,800 rounds of .308-caliber ammunition; and a high-caliber, belt-fed machinegun, allegedly purchased by Edgar Daniel Zapata for $9,000.

According to allegations in the criminal complaints filed, the defendants were tasked with assisting in the packaging, storing, transportation, and guarding of the drugs and weapons stored at various residences for the drug- and weapons-trafficking cell allegedly led by Edgar Daniel Zapata. Zapata’s cousin, Jose Francisco Padilla–a reserve member of the National Guard – allegedly sold military-style ballistic vests to Zapata. This cell was allegedly affiliated with the Gulf Cartel Drug Trafficking Organization in Mexico and was illegally smuggling weapons to Gulf Cartel members in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

All 11 defendants, in the custody of the United States Marshals Service, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby in McAllen today. Each has been ordered to remain in federal custody without bond pending preliminary examination and detention hearings scheduled for March 2.

The charges against these 11 defendants are the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI); and the McAllen Police Department (MPD). Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly Leo and Christopher Sully are prosecuting the case.

A complaint or indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Extended Hours Begin March 1 at Wild Horse Ports of Entry

Havre, Mont. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection reminds travelers that the ports of Wild Horse, Mont., and Wild Horse, Alberta, will go to their extended hours of on March 1. The ports will operate on this schedule until Oct. 31.

Historically, the established time span for extended summer service has been much shorter, from May 15 to September 30. CBP has lengthened the dates of extended summer service in 2011 on a trial basis in order to facilitate the flow of goods and people across the border and to assess the need for a permanent change in coverage.

Both ports are currently on winter hours of

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHITI), implemented June 1, 2009, requires U.S. and Canadian citizens, age 16 and older to present a valid, acceptable document that denotes both identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. by land or sea. WHITI-approved travel documents include a passport, U.S. Passport Card, enhanced driver’s licenses (EDLs) or a trusted traveler program card (NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST). ( Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) )

Because Wild Horse remains a permit port, a permit is required to import commercial merchandise into the U.S. through the port of Wild Horse. The Great Falls Area Port is ready to review applications and issue permits for commercial merchandise being imported into the U.S. Permits must be approved in advance by the Great Falls Area Port. Contact the Supervisory Entry Officer at 406-453-7631 for more information.

Do not attempt to bring unauthorized fruits, meats and dairy/poultry products into the U.S. from Canada without first checking whether they are permitted. Review the “Know Before You Go” tip sheet at U.S. Customs and Border Protection web site for additional information concerning your trip into the United States. ( U.S. Customs and Border Protection )

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Dulles CBP Revokes Global Entry Membership from Traveler

Sterling, Va. — A Swiss Army knife, dried eggs and sweet potatoes sounds like the start of a camping side dish, but in reality it was a recipe for disaster for a now-former trusted traveler at Washington-Dulles International Airport on Tuesday.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers referred the passenger, who had just arrived from Tokyo, to a random trusted traveler compliance inspection. The passenger answered ‘No” to all questions on the automated Global Entry kiosk. Questions asked if the passenger was bringing anything to the U.S., such as agriculture products, currency exceeding $10,000, or commercial merchandise.

Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists fined the passenger $300 for failure to declare the dried eggs and sweet potatoes, and CBP officers permanently revoked the traveler’s Global Entry membership.

Global Entry is a trusted traveler program that allows pre-approved U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to fly through Customs and Border Protection international arrivals processing in just a couple of minutes.

“It’s called a trusted traveler program because we place a significant amount of trust in members to comply with all customs, agriculture and immigration laws,” said Christopher Hess, CBP port director for the port of Washington. “Global Entry was never intended to be a freeway for smuggling prohibited products.”

CBP is required to validate trusted traveler programs through random compliance inspections. Violators face consequences, including loss of their expedited processing privilege, civil penalties or arrest.

As many as 12,000 international travelers a day may process their arrivals at Washington-Dulles. During peak arrival periods, it could take as long as 60 minutes or more to process the last person in a primary inspection line. Global Entry shaves that processing time considerably for trusted travelers through biometric verification at automated kiosks. Average processing time for Global Entry members is 64 seconds.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

One of Puerto Rico's Most Wanted Jailed in Cleveland

Cleveland, OH – Wanted fugitive Roberto Rivera-Amezquita, age 27, was arrested early this morning at approximately 7:15 am on Cleveland’s west side. Rivera-Amezquita had been on the run and eluding law enforcement since December 2007. Rivera-Amezquita was wanted out of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico on charges of murder and weapons law violations. It is alleged that in October of 2006, Rivera-Amezquita and another suspect brutally beat Pablo Rivera-Rivera with an aluminum baseball bat leaving him unconscious. At the time, Rivera-Amezquita was originally charged with assault and battery charges. The victim subsequently died a few months later as a result of the beating turning the assault charge into a murder charge. Rivera-Amezquita immediately fled and became a fugitive from justice.

The U.S. Marshal Service in Puerto Rico became involved in the case and through its investigation eventually uncovered information leading Rivera-Amezquita to the Cleveland area. The information was relayed to the U.S. Marshal’s led Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force and the investigation continued locally. It was discovered that Rivera-Amezquita had assumed the identity of his brother Martin Rivera-Amezquita who is currently incarcerated in Puerto Rico. It is not known exactly how long Roberta Rivera-Amezquita had been living in Cleveland until his arrest this morning; however he was arrested on a drug charge in 2009 under his brother’s identity. The Deputy Marshals and task Force Officers tracked the subject and were able to narrow their search for Rivera-Amezquita settling on a residence located at 2168 W. 104th Street in Cleveland. The Task Force was able to gain entry into the residence and Rivera-Amezquita surrendered peacefully. Rivera-Amezquita was transported to the Cuyahoga County Justice Center for booking and to be held pending his extradition back to Puerto Rico.

U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott stated, “This was a great example of cooperation between our task force and the task force in Puerto Rico. This fugitive will now finally be brought to justice.”

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of a known fugitive is encouraged to contact the U.S. Marshals Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force at: 1-866-4-WANTED. Callers may remain anonymous.

The Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force – Cleveland Division is composed of the following federal, state and local agencies: U.S. Marshals Service, Bratenahl Police Department, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Chagrin Falls Police Department, Cleveland Police Department, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority Police Department, Euclid Police Department, Lakewood Police Department, Linndale Village Police Department, Ohio Adult Parole Authority, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Westlake Police Department, Department of Housing and Urban Development – Office of Inspector General, Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and the U.S. Secret Service.

This article was sponsored by Police Books.

FBI Seeks Public’s Assistance in Locating the Holiday Bandit After He Robs Eighth Bank

The FBI is asking the public for help in locating Marat G. Mikhaylich, aka the Holiday Bandit, after allegedly robbing his eighth New York-area bank on Friday, February 25, 2011. Mikhaylich robbed a Sovereign Bank located at
541 Rahway Avenue, Woodbridge, New Jersey
, around Friday. Mikhaylich entered the bank, displayed a note, brandished a weapon, and demanded cash. He was last seen fleeing on foot.

Mikhaylich is a white male, approximately 6'3" to 6'5" tall, 35 years old, and approximately 200 pounds. He is from the Ukraine and speaks Russian. He often introduces himself to non-Russian speakers as Mark. During the most recent robbery, he was wearing a dark Sacramento Kings hat, dark sunglasses, a black jacket, dark jeans, and was carrying a black messenger bag.

A reward is available for a tip that breaks the case. Anyone with information is asked to call the New York Office of the FBI at 212-384-1000 or the Newark Office of the FBI at 973-792-3000. As always, tipsters may remain anonymous.

Other banks Mikhaylich has robbed include:

■Investors Savings Bank at 35-02 Broadway, Astoria, New York on Wednesday, Febuary 16, 2011
■Capital One Bank, located at
4612 13th Avenue
in Brooklyn, New York on Sunday, February 13, 2011
■Capital One Bank, located at
1411 Forest Avenue, Staten Island, New York
on Friday, February 4, 2011
■Capital One Bank, located at 31-17 Broadway, Astoria Queens, New York on Wednesday, January 19, 2011
■Sovereign Bank, located at
24-29 Jackson Avenue, Queens, New York
, on Wednesday, December 30, 2010
■Ridgewood Savings Bank, located at
8522 Third Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
, on Wednesday, December 23, 2010
■Sovereign Bank, located at 37-10 Broadway, Astoria Queens, New York, on Thursday, December 9, 2010

Former Milan Used Car Dealers Charged with $1.47 Million Bank Fraud

ROCK ISLAND, IL—The former owners of a Milan, Illinois used car business known as Blackhawk Auto were arrested today and appeared in federal court in Rock Island on charges of bank fraud. Jens Hirsch, 44, and Pamela A. Hirsch, 54, both of the 2800 block of
27th Street, Rock Island, Illinois
, appeared this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas J. Shields. Both were ordered detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending a detention hearing scheduled for Mar. 1, at

The indictment alleges that from April 2007 to September 19, 2007, Jens Hirsch, as president, and Pamela Hirsch, as vice-president and secretary of Strategic Enterprises, Inc., doing business as Blackhawk Auto, located at
1920 East First Avenue, Milan
, defrauded a Milan bank of $1,465,363. During the period of the alleged scheme, Blackhawk Auto had an agreement with the bank for a line of credit of $1.5 million to purchase vehicles for resell on its lot. Upon sale of the vehicle, Blackhawk Auto was to repay the bank the outstanding balance for the respective vehicle. Instead, the indictment alleges Jens and Pamela Hirsch repeatedly and intentionally failed to repay the bank and diverted the sale proceeds to other uses. Over a four-month period, from April to September 19, 2007, the indictment alleges that the proceeds from at least 83 vehicles, approximately $750,973, was diverted to other uses.

The indictment further alleges that in April, May, July, and August of 2007, Jens Hirsch and Pamela Hirsch also caused false financial statements to be prepared and submitted to the bank, which falsely inflated the income and net profit of Blackhawk Auto. The alleged false statements were used to influence the bank's decision to continue to advance line of credit funds to Blackhawk Auto, which received approximately $1,465,363 in loan proceeds advanced by the bank.

According to the indictment, because the loan was secured by vehicles financed with the line of credit, bank personnel had the right to conduct inventory checks of the premises. In some instances, the defendants allegedly falsely reported the vehicle in question as being in "pending funding status," meaning that a customer had signed an agreement to purchase the vehicle and had taken possession of it, but the financing arrangement with the customer's lender was not yet final. In fact, according to the indictment, the respective lenders had already funded the sale proceeds for the vehicles but the defendants had directed that those sale proceeds be diverted for purposes other than repaying the bank.

A federal grand jury previously returned the indictment against the Hirsches; however, the indictment had remained sealed pending the defendants' arrest and initial court appearance.

The defendants are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, 13 counts of bank fraud, and four counts of making false statements. Jens Hirsch is charged with five additional counts of making false statements. If convicted, the penalty for each of the offenses, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and making a false statement, is up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

The charges are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John K. Mehochko.

Former Police Chief of Vidalia, Louisiana Sentenced for Making False Statements to Federal Agents

False Statements Made in Connection with Firearms Investigation

SHREVEPORT, LA—Ronnie G. "Tapper" Hendricks, the former chief of police of Vidalia, Louisiana, was sentenced today to six months in prison for making false statements to federal law enforcement agents in the course of an investigation into the use and disposition of certain firearms located at the Vidalia Police Department, United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced. Hendricks was also fined $3,000 and ordered to perform 1,000 hours of community service. In addition, Hendricks was sentenced to two years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term. The sentence was handed down by United States District Judge Dee Drell in Alexandria.

Hendricks pleaded guilty on November 18, 2010, to knowingly and willfully making three material false statements during an interview with FBI and ATF agents who were investigating possible violations of federal firearms laws. Hendricks denied transferring a fully automatic machine gun owned by the Vidalia Police Department to the custody of an individual or individuals at the Rifle Point Hunting Club in Ferriday, Louisiana, when in truth and in fact the defendant transferred the weapons for the use of the members and guests of the club. Hendricks falsely claimed that one of the individuals to whom custody of the machine gun was transferred was a reserve police officer of the Vidalia Police Department whom he had sworn in at an unofficial ceremony, when in truth and in fact there was no such ceremony, and the individual was not a reserve police officer. Hendricks also falsely claimed that the individual had signed an oath of office form related to the alleged swearing in prior to receiving the machine gun, when in truth and in fact the individual had never signed such an oath of office form.

As part of his plea agreement with the government, Hendricks was required to resign as chief of police at the time of the guilty plea. This case was investigated jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Nicole O. Snyder and William J. Flanagan.

Help Us Catch the East Coast Rapist

New Digital Billboard Campaign Launched

A new digital billboard campaign launched today aims to help investigators catch the "East Coast Rapist," a violent serial offender who has attacked or attempted to attack a dozen women in Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut, and Rhode Island for more than a decade.

The billboards feature composite sketches of the rapist and a toll-free telephone number where people can call to provide information. “These billboards give local police departments and the FBI an added edge to identify, locate, and apprehend the subject,” said Ronald Hosko, special agent in charge of the Criminal Division in our Washington Field Office. “The public is the most important tool law enforcement has for solving crimes like this.”

The East Coast Rapist attacked his first victim in February 1997 in a Maryland suburb of Washington D.C. He approached the 25-year-old victim on a bicycle as she walked home from work. The attacker began a conversation but then pulled a gun, forced the woman into nearby woods, and raped her.

Since then, 11 more attacks or attempted attacks have occurred. The female victims have been white, black, and Hispanic. The rapist generally approaches victims outdoors on foot and threatens them with a weapon—usually a knife or a handgun. He sometimes wears a black mask or hooded sweatshirt to conceal his face. He typically asks for money, giving victims the impression they are being robbed. But after the assault, no robbery occurs.

The attacker is described as a black male between the ages of 20 and 40 who is 5'7" to 6' tall, weighs between 150 and 200 pounds, and has a medium to muscular build. In addition to a mask and hooded sweatshirt, he has worn a variety of clothes during attacks, including green overalls, a green camouflage coat or black jacket, dark sweatpants or blue jeans, tan boots or light-colored tennis shoes, a black hair rag, and a brown or black hat.

The rapist’s last known attack was in Woodbridge, Virginia on Halloween night in 2009. He raped two teenagers on their way home from trick-or-treating.

All of the East Coast Rapist’s attacks have been linked by DNA, said John Kelly, a detective with the Fairfax County Police Department in Virginia. “We have the DNA linking the offender, but we need someone to recognize and identify him.”

The digital billboards will run in Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, where the attacks and attempts have occurred, as well as in New Jersey, New York, and Delaware.

The FBI started its national digital billboard initiative in 2007 with the help of outdoor advertising companies that provide free access to more than 1,500 digital billboards in more than 40 states nationwide to publicize investigations and to provide public safety information. Since the start of the initiative, at least 39 cases have been solved as a direct result from tips from the public.

Today’s campaign includes partnerships with a number of local police departments involved with the East Coast Rapist investigation. In addition to the billboards, Fairfax County Police Department has launched a dedicated website, www.EastCoastRapist.com, which provides composites and additional information about the case.

We need your help to capture this armed and dangerous serial offender. If you have any information regarding the East Coast Rapist, call 866-411-TIPS. Maryland’s Prince George’s County Police Department is offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information related to the investigation.

Four Charged in Multi-Million-Dollar Mortgage Fraud Scheme

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office; Henry Gutierrez, Postal Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and Jason Moran, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, announced today the unsealing of an indictment charging Angel Puentes, a/k/a Salvatore D’ Angelo a/k/a D’Angelo Salvatore, 37, of West Palm Beach; Dania L. Aleman, 45, of Hialeah; Angela M. Frye, 47, of Miami; and David R. Burgos, 40, of Hialeah, with one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349; 14 counts of substantive wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343; and eight counts of substantive bank fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1344. Through this scheme, the defendants allegedly defrauded three financial institutions of approximately $10.5 million in fraudulent mortgage loans. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment for the conspiracy and each of the bank fraud counts and 20 years’ imprisonment for each of the wire fraud counts.

According to the indictment, Angel Puentes was involved in the fraudulent financing of at least 11 residential properties in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. Throughout the time of the conspiracy, Puentes recruited Angela Frye, a loan processor, to create false loan applications to obtain mortgage loans on behalf of other individuals who would not have otherwise qualified for the mortgage loans. Burgos acted as a recruiter of individuals who would sell their credit to Puentes to facilitate the fraudulent purchase of real estate. Burgos also posed as a straw buyer during the conspiracy.

According to the indictment, Puentes and Aleman would cause the creation of two different HUD-1 Statements, one given to the lender and the other to the seller. In one of the forms, they would falsely inflate the sales prices and amount of the loans that could be obtained from the lenders. Puentes, Aleman, and their co-conspirators also failed to record the necessary title and mortgage documents with the county authorities. This allowed Puentes, Aleman, and their co-conspirators to induce other lenders into issuing double first mortgages on particular properties. In this way, the conspirators illegally syphoned off additional profits from the mortgage proceeds for personal use.

Once the property was purchased, Puentes, Aleman, Frye, and their co-conspirators would arrange to make the payments until they could resell, or flip, the property at an inflated purchase price. With the profits made from flipping the properties to other straw purchasers, the defendants continued to buy properties and pay outstanding mortgage payments for properties bought during the scheme. Eventually, the defendants stopped making the loan payments and the properties fell into foreclosure. The foreclosures resulted in significant losses to WMC Mortgage, Countrywide Home Loans, JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. and other lenders.

Mr. Ferrer commended the efforts of the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the FDIC. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cristina Pérez Soto.

An indictment is only an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Guatemalan Man Indicted for Kidnapping U.S. Citizen in Guatemala in Crime that Resulted in Her Death

Accused of Abducting Victim in May 2010

WASHINGTON—A Guatemalan man, Jorge Moises Velasquez, 42, was indicted today on federal charges stemming from the kidnapping of an American citizen last year in Antigua, Guatemala, a crime that resulted in the victim’s death.

The indictment, returned by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, was announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Division.

Velasquez is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit hostage taking resulting in death and one count of hostage taking resulting in death. The charges stem from the kidnapping, and resulting death, of Magda Lubia Armas, 61, an American citizen, in Antigua, Guatemala.

According to the government’s evidence, on the morning of May 12, 2010, Ms. Armas was returning to her Guatemalan home from a bakery when Velasquez and others forcibly removed her from the street and into his vehicle. On that same day, Velasquez and others made calls to the family of Ms. Armas, demanding that they pay 350,000 Quetzales, approximately $43,669.50, in exchange for the release of Ms. Armas, the government’s evidence shows.

Velasquez and others continued to make calls demanding ransom through May 14, 2010, the indictment alleges. Ms. Armas then recognized her captors. Sometime before May 17, 2010, Velasquez and others drove her to a bridge over a river in Escuintla, Guatemala with the purpose of killing her, the indictment states.

On May 17, 2010, Ms. Armas’s body was discovered on the banks of the Guacalate River. However, she was not yet identified as Ms. Armas, and was listed as an unidentified decedent. On May 19, 2010, Velasquez and others resumed calls to the family of Ms. Armas, once again demanding that they pay ransom for her return, according to the indictment.

On May 20, 2010, the family agreed to pay 21,955 Quetzales, approximately $2,779.28, for the return of Ms. Armas. On that same date, the family of Ms. Armas dropped off 21,955 Quetzales at an agreed-upon location, the indictment states. Velasquez and another individual recovered the money and split the proceeds, the indictment alleges.

The family subsequently learned of the unidentified female decedent whose body was discovered on May 17, 2010. The family recognized her as Magda Lubia Armas, and dental records confirmed that the victim was in fact their family member.

The charges in the indictment carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Velasquez has also been charged in Guatemala with the kidnapping and murder of Ms. Armas, and is currently in jail in Guatemala awaiting trial.

“Mr. Velasquez stands accused of a kidnapping that led to the death of an American citizen in Guatemala,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “This indictment demonstrates that we will not allow international borders to prevent us from seeking justice on behalf of American citizens.”

“With the cooperation of our domestic and international partners, the fight against crime has no boundaries,” said Special Agent in Charge Gillies. “The kidnapping and resulting death of Ms. Armas is a heinous crime and today's indictment is one example of the FBI's strong and continued commitment to investigating violent crimes against U.S. citizens abroad.”

An indictment is merely an allegation that the defendant has committed a violation of criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty in a court of law.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Petalas, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, and is being investigated by the Miami Field Office of the FBI. The Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs and the FBI’s Legal Attache in San Salvador provided assistance. Assistance also was provided by authorities in Guatemala, including the Public Ministry National Prosecutors Office, Organized Crime Anti-Kidnapping Unit and the Investigative Division (DEIC).

CBP Officers at Pharr, Hidalgo Bridges Seize $1.2 Million in Crystal Meth, Cocaine

Hidalgo, Texas and Pharr, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Pharr and Hidalgo International Bridges seized approximately 52.9 pounds of crystal methamphetamine and cocaine in two separate and unrelated enforcement actions. The combined estimated street value of the seized drugs is $1,240,969.

On Feb. 22, a CBP officer working primary inspection duties at the Pharr/Reynosa International Bridge came in contact with a northbound 1998 Lincoln Town Car sedan and its driver, a 36-year-old U.S. citizen from McAllen, Texas. After the initial primary inspection, the driver and vehicle were referred to secondary for further inspection.

In secondary, officers seized 25 packages of alleged crystal methamphetamine that were discovered within the vehicle. In this seizure, the methamphetamine weighed approximately 26.7 pounds and was valued at $401,457.

On Feb. 23, CBP officers working at the Hidalgo/Reynosa International Bridge came in contact with a northbound 2006 Honda civic sedan. The driver was identified as a 30-year-old U.S. citizen from Pharr, Texas. A CBP officer referred the driver and vehicle to secondary for further inspection.

In secondary, officers seized 11 packages of alleged cocaine that were found hidden within the vehicle. The cocaine weighed approximately 26.2 pounds and was valued at $839,511.

CBP officers seized the vehicles and transferred both male drivers to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) for further investigation.

Hector A. Mancha, CBP port director for Hidalgo/Pharr said, “Our frontline officers are doing excellent enforcement work and continue using all available resources to intercept and seize contraband such as these two drug loads. I commend our officers for their work in securing our nation’s borders.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Firefighter Fatality

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) has received notice of the following firefighter fatality:

Name: Chris Stock
Rank: Fire Chief
Age: 49
Gender: Male
Status: Volunteer
Years of Service: 20
Date of Incident: 02/24/2011
Time of Incident: 1820hrs
Date of Death: 02/24/2011

Fire Department: Westport Volunteer Fire Department
Address:
PO Box 77
,
6301 3rd Street, Westport, KY 40077
Fire Department Chief: Pending

Incident Description: Several hours after participating in a training exercise related to wildland fire incidents, Fire Chief Stock passed away from a heart attack he suffered while at his residence.

Incident Location: Pending

Funeral Arrangements: Friday (03/04/2011) @ 1200hrs, LaGrange Baptist Church,
1139 Commerce Parkway, LaGrange, KY.
Memorial Fund Contact and Address: In honor of Fire Chief Chris Stock, c/o Westport Volunteer Fire Department,
PO Box 77, Westport, KY 40077
Tribute is being paid to Fire Chief Chris Stock at http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/fireservice/fatalities/

To date, 24 firefighter fatalities have been reported to USFA in 2011; 21 from incidents that occurred in 2011 and three from previous years’ incidents.  Year-to-date monthly and annual USFA firefighter fatality reports are posted online @ http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/fireservice/fatalities/statistics/ff_stats.shtm.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Head of State College Medical Billing Firm to Plead Guilty to $2.46 Million Embezzlement of Health Insurance Reimbursements

The United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania today announced the filing of a plea agreement and a one-count information against Ronald A. McFarland, age 53, of State College, Pennsylvania. The information charges McFarland with theft and embezzlement of $2.46 million in health insurance reimbursements belonging to two cancer treatment centers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Liverpool, Ohio.

According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, the information charges that McFarland was the president of Verimed Services, Inc. and Medical Alliance Partners, LLC, both based in State College. Through those companies, he provided third party billing services to Rosewood Cancer Care, Inc., in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Oaktree Cancer Care, Inc., in East Liverpool, Ohio, which both provided outpatient radiation treatment programs for cancer patients.

Verimed billed health insurance plans and programs for medical treatment provided to patients of Rosewood and Oaktree, and then it received, recorded, and forwarded checks payable to Rosewood and Oaktree from the insurance plans and programs.

The indictment alleges that McFarland diverted and embezzled insurance payments for Oaktree and Rosewood, totaling $2.46 million, and transferred the stolen funds to business and personal accounts controlled by him. McFarland also allegedly concealed the theft by making false entries in daily collections logs and patient ledgers.

In the plea agreement, McFarland has agreed to waive indictment and plead guilty to the information. He also has agreed to pay restitution for a financial loss of $2.46 million caused by his conduct. Upon conviction, McFarland faces a maximum imprisonment term of 10 years, a maximum supervised release term of three years, and a fine of up to $250,000.

The case was investigated by the State College office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Prosecution of this matter has been assigned to Assistant United States Attorney George J. Rocktashel.

An indictment or information is not evidence of guilt but simply a description of the charge made by the grand jury and/or United States Attorney against a defendant. A charged defendant is presumed innocent until a jury returns a unanimous finding that the United States has proven the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or until the defendant has pled guilty to the charges.

CBP U.S. Border Patrol Seizes More Than $462,000 in Cash

Carlsbad, Calif. — Yesterday, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested a 54-year-old male Mexican national in Carlsbad for smuggling more than $462,000 hidden in an aftermarket compartment in a Chevrolet Silverado.

Yesterday morning at about , agents on patrol in Carlsbad spotted a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck being driven in an erratic and suspicious manner on southbound Interstate 5. Agents conducted an immigration stop on the vehicle near
Tamarack Avenue
. The driver’s nervous demeanor and inconsistent responses led agents to request the assistance of a Border Patrol K-9 team. The K-9 team performed a cursory inspection of the vehicle which resulted in a positive alert to the passenger-side front fender. 

Agents performed an interior inspection of the truck and discovered an aftermarket compartment on the passenger side near the engine firewall. Agents gained access to the compartment, where they discovered 42 cellophane-wrapped bundles containing $462,566 in currency.

The suspected smuggler and bulk cash were taken into custody and subsequently turned over to the ICE Office of Homeland Security Investigations. The Border Patrol processed the currency and Silverado for forfeiture proceedings pending the outcome of the ICE investigation.

To prevent illicit smuggling of humans, drugs and other contraband, the U.S. Border Patrol maintains a high level of vigilance along the border and also on major corridors of egress away from our nation’s borders.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

CBP Personnel Seize Assault Rifles, High Capacity Magazines

Hidalgo, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents working outbound enforcement operations a the Hidalgo/Reynosa International Bridge seized seven assault rifles and seven high capacity ammunition magazines Tuesday afternoon.

On Feb. 22, CBP officers and Border Patrol agents working outbound enforcement operations at the Hidalgo/Reynosa International Bridge came in contact with a southbound 1999 Ford Taurus station wagon and its driver, a 23-year-old U.S. citizen from Edinburg, Texas that was headed into Mexico.

After the initial inspection, the driver and vehicle were referred to secondary for further inspection. In secondary, officers seized six 7.62 x 39 mm assault rifles, one .308 assault rifle and seven high-capacity ammunition magazines that were found hidden within the vehicle. CBP officers seized the Taurus as well.

The male traveler was transferred to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation.

“I commend our frontline CBP officers and Border Patrol agents for their work in securing our nation’s borders and for their continued work in seizing and disrupting the illegal flow of high-powered weapons into Mexico," said Hector A. Mancha, port director at Hidalgo/Pharr.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

U.S. Marshals Task Force Trying to Keep Streets Safe Arrest 7 Fugitives in Panhandle Area

Pensacola, FL – The U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force in Pensacola had a busy week capturing fugitives in several different counties in the local area including Baldwin County in AL. This morning, the Task Force assisted the Escambia County Gang Unit and a K9 Officer to apprehend two men wanted by Escambia County in a Pensacola motel. Darius Louis Hunter, 23, is wanted for Armed Robbery and Deangelo Deon Bender, 21, wanted for Violation of Probation and Failure to Appear on Cocaine charges. Yesterday the FRFTF teamed up with the Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force from Mobile to arrest 39 year old Dennis Ray Burkhart in the parking lot of the Bass Pro Shop in Spanish Fort, AL. Burkhart is wanted in Escambia County, FL for Failing to Register as a Sex Offender and by the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office for Dangerous Drugs and Probation Violation. Also arrested by the FRFTF yesterday was Daniel Lamar Sanders, 27, wanted in Okaloosa County for Cruelty Toward a Child/Abuse Causing Great Bodily Harm when he allegedly burned a small child with cigarette and held it to the child’s skin. Sanders was captured by the Task Force after trying to flee out of a window at home on the 7800 block of Red Barrow road in the Blackmon Community in north Okaloosa County.

The previous evening in south Okaloosa County the Task Force arrested 25 year old Tristan Richey in an apartment located at
28 8th Street
in Shalimar. Task Force Officers had to make a forced entry after Richey slammed the door on them. Richey is wanted by Okaloosa County for Probation Violation on a Vehicular Manslaughter charge from 2005. Also arrested in Okaloosa was Kenneth Wayne White wanted in Walton County on a Burglary and Theft warrant. The 49 year old White was arrested without incident in Ft. Walton Beach at a home on the 100 block of
Windham Avenue
.

Earlier in the week the Task Force captured Henry Dewayne Watson wanted by the U.S. Marshals in Pensacola on a federal warrant for Failure to Appear on a Convicted Felon in Possession of a Firearm charge. Watson, 32, who also has Santa Rosa County warrants for Aggravated Stalking was found hiding in a trunk of a car.

The Task Force was assisted by Task Force Officers from Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton and Washington County Sheriff Offices, as well as from FDLE, Defuniak Springs and Chipley Police Departments and the State Attorney’s Office.

Former high school swim coach pleads guilty to child pornography

BOSTON - A North Attleboro, Mass., man, a former swim coach for the Attleboro YMCA and North Attleboro High School, has pleaded guilty in federal court of receipt and possession of child pornography following an investigation conducted jointly with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Timothy S. Kelly, 40, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns to four counts of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography.

At the plea hearing, the prosecutor told the court that if the case proceeded to trial, the government's evidence would have proven that Kelly used an online chat program to communicate with others and transmit pictures to them in real time. In chats from 2007 and 2008, Kelly received images of child pornography and discussed his sexual interest in girls between the ages of 8 and 13. During the execution of a federal search warrant at his residence, Kelly admitted to collecting and trading child pornography since 2003.

The images he received and possessed included prepubescent children engaged in multiple acts of sexually explicit conduct.

Judge Stearns scheduled sentencing for May 18, 2011. Kelly faces up to 20 years imprisonment for each count of receipt of child pornography and up to 10 years imprisonment for possession of child pornography, to be followed by up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

U. S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Boston, and Chief Michael P. Gould Sr. of the North Attleboro Police Department made the announcement.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,800 individuals.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

In coordination with the Bristol County District Attorney's Office, this case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Yoon of Ortiz's Major Crimes Unit and Trial Attorney Bonnie Kane of the Department of Justice's Child Exploitation & Obscenity Section.

Operation Fallen Hero – Operation Bombardier Houston Area Law Enforcement Join Forces To Attack Mexican Cartels and Associates

As part of Operation Fallen Hero-Operation Bombardier, Houston area Federal, State, and local law enforcement officials have joined forces in a series of coordinated strikes against Mexican drug cartels and their associates who operate across the United States.  Operations in Central America, Colombia, and Brazil are also ongoing. Law enforcement counterparts have mobilized to increase pressure on these organizations at every level. This series of operations illustrate the continued resolve and commitment to attack these brutal Mexican cartels and trafficking associates with a unified front.  These efforts have proven successful as illustrated by seizures today in the Houston area of approximately $750,000 in U.S. Currency, 322 pounds of marijuana, 13 kilograms of cocaine, 37 weapons, 10 vehicles, and the arrest of 33 individuals.

“The valiant efforts of our combined law enforcement resources came to bear this morning not by accident, but by necessity.  The DEA, and all of our law enforcement partners, will continue to aggressively disrupt and dismantle the ruthless drug trafficking organizations and their partners in crime who are operating on both sides of the Texas/Mexico border,” said Thomas Hinojosa, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Houston Division, Drug Enforcement Administration.

Recent tragedies reiterate the need for all of law enforcement to address the violent drug cartels in Mexico, their associates in the United States, and other criminal elements we face.  As we move forward with a unified effort against the Mexican cartels, we do so with our law enforcement and international partners beside us.  Challenging the status quo and holding the traffickers accountable has been a hallmark of President Calderon’s government.  Our counterparts on the front line in Mexico have shared in these tragic sacrifices losing many dedicated officers in this fight.

This article was sponsored by Police Books.

Four CD and DVD Counterfeiters and Suppliers in Atlanta Sentenced to Prison

ATLANTA—Four individuals have been sentenced this week in Atlanta by U.S. District Judge William S. Duffey Jr. for their involvement in a counterfeit DVD and CD ring, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates for the Northern District of Georgia.

Mamadou Sadio Barry, 40, was sentenced to 60 months in prison; Moussa Baradji, 29, was sentenced to 50 months in prison; Sedikey Sankano, 42, was sentenced to 24 months in prison; and Won Ahn, 69, was placed on probation for one year. Barry, Baradji, and Sankano also were ordered to serve three years of supervised release following their prison terms. Barry and Baradji were ordered to pay $70,894 in restitution, and Sankano was ordered to pay $3,867 in restitution. The court found that these defendants were responsible for distributing illegal copies of products that, if legitimate, would have been valued at more than $2 million.

On Dec. 10, 2009, Sankano pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, to traffic in counterfeit goods, and to traffic in counterfeit labels. On Sept. 24, 2010, Ahn pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact for illegally smuggling patent infringing digital media contrary to law.

On Oct. 6, 2010, a federal jury in Atlanta found Barry and Baradji guilty of one count each of criminal copyright infringement. The evidence at trial established that Baradji and Barry used space in warehouses on
Metropolitan Parkway
in Atlanta to “burn” or copy DVDs and CDs. According to evidence at trial, Baradji and Barry produced and paid others to produce counterfeit labels and packaging and to assemble the final product, which Baradji and Barry sold through their retail stores. According to the evidence at trial, the defendants’ warehouse operation reproduced thousands of CDs and DVDs per week for distribution. According to court records, Sankano also acquired labels, packaging, and blank digital media at the warehouse for use in manufacturing infringing copies of copyrighted materials on DVDs and CDs. Ahn assisted in supplying the producers with blank DVDs and CDs that had been illegally smuggled into the United States.

The sentenced defendants were among 13 charged by a federal grand jury on May 19, 2009, in an indictment alleging various copyright, trademark, and counterfeit goods offenses.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Pearce in the Northern District of Georgia and Senior Counsel John H. Zacharia of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. The case was investigated by special agents of the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, together with officers of the Atlanta Police Department Organized Crime Unit; College Park, Ga., Police Department; and East Point, Ga., Police Department. Assistance was provided by the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America.

CBP Officers in Texas Seize $1.9 Million in Brown Heroin in One Day

Hidalgo, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Hidalgo International Bridge seized approximately 24.7 pounds of brown heroin in two separate and unrelated drug seizures. The combined estimated street value of the heroin is $1,982,376.

On Feb. 21, CBP officers working at the Hidalgo/Reynosa International Bridge came in contact with a northbound 2008 Kia Rondo SUV and its driver, a 33-year-old U.S. citizen from Chicago. A female passenger was identified as 20-year-old U.S. citizen from Cicero, Ill.

A CBP officer referred the vehicle, driver and passenger to secondary for further inspection. In secondary, officers seized seven packages of alleged brown heroin that were found within the vehicle. In this action, the heroin packages weighed approximately 17.1 pounds and was valued at $1,375,670.

On the same date, CBP officers at the Hidalgo International Bridge came in contact with a northbound taxicab passenger. The male traveler was identified as a 20-year-old U.S. citizen from Boston, Massachusetts. After the initial primary inspection, the cab and passenger were referred to secondary for further inspection. In secondary, officers seized four packages of alleged brown heroin that were found in cans of black refried beans. Each of the four cans contained one alleged package of brown heroin. In this seizure, the alleged heroin weighed approximately 7.5 pounds and was valued at $606,705.

CBP officers seized the Kia Rondo and transferred the two men and one female to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation.

Hector A. Mancha, CBP port director said, “I commend our cadres of frontline officers for their roles in seizing these two significant amounts of brown heroin. For the Hidalgo Port of Entry and for this year, this is the first recorded brown heroin seizure found hidden in cans of refried beans.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

ICE operation in South Florida targeting at-large convicted criminal aliens nets 24 arrests

MIAMI - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers arrested 24 foreign nationals during a six-day enforcement action in South Florida targeting convicted criminal aliens identified in violation of U.S. immigration law.

The enforcement operation, which began Feb. 15 and ended on Thursday, Feb. 24, targeted at-large criminal aliens with convictions for drug trafficking, violent crimes and sex offenses.

Nineteen of the individuals had criminal records, including murder and drug trafficking, four were ICE fugitives with final orders of deportation and one had been previously deported.

"Arresting convicted criminals and immigration fugitives is a top priority for ICE ERO," said Marc Moore, field office director for ICE ERO in Miami. "Those who come to the United States to prey upon our neighbors and communities will be prosecuted for their crimes and ultimately returned to their home countries. The results of this and last week's operation demonstrate ICE's commitment to making our communities safer for everyone."

All 24 were arrested administratively for being in violation of immigration law, and all are being held in ICE custody pending immigration removal proceedings or removal from the United States.

The 24 alien arrests include 10 arrests in Miami-Dade County, four arrests in Broward County and 10 arrests in Monroe County. The overall criminal alien arrests include 20 men and four women, representing six different nations, including countries in Latin America, Asia, Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

ICE ERO officers arrested:

A 35-year-old citizen and national of Colombia, residing in Broward County, Fla. He has a prior 2008 conviction in Palm Beach County, Fla. for domestic battery by strangulation.

A 33-year-old citizen and national of Honduras, residing in Miami-Dade County, Fla. He has prior 2010 convictions in Miami-Dade County for murder, possession of a deadly weapon, aggravated battery, child abuse, causing great bodily harm and torture
.
A 44-year-old citizen and national of Honduras, residing in Miami, Fla. His prior criminal convictions in Miami-Dade County from 1990 to 2011 include simple assault, resisting officer without violence, cocaine possession, fleeing/eluding police officer, disorderly intoxication, carrying a concealed weapon, battery, drinking in public, trespassing, obstructing a police officer and cannabis possession. He illegally re-entered the United States after being deported in 1991.

A 19-year-old citizen and national of Haiti, residing in Key West, Fla. He has a prior 2010 conviction in Monroe County for selling and possessing cocaine.

A 35-year-old citizen and national of Haiti, residing in Key West. He has prior 2003 to 2010 convictions in Monroe County for cocaine distribution within 1000 feet of a church or school, battery and criminal mischief. He has also been identified as a member of the Zoe Pound gang in Key West.

Those who have outstanding orders of deportation, or who returned to the United States illegally after being deported, are subject to immediate removal from the country. The remaining individuals are in ICE custody awaiting a hearing before an immigration judge, or pending travel arrangements for removal in the near future.

This enforcement operation is just one facet of the Department of Homeland Security's broader strategy to heighten the federal government's effectiveness at identifying and removing dangerous criminal aliens from the United States.

Kevin A. Carr, United States Marshal for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announces the arrest of Roland Flath

MILWAUKEE – Kevin A. Carr, United States Marshal for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced the arrest of Roland Flath.  Flath, a retired US National living abroad, was arrested by authorities in Gulan, Guatemala. The US Marshals, the US Department of State, and the Department of Homeland Security worked closely with Belizean and Guatemalan Immigration agents over the past several months.Flath was expelled by Guatemalan Immigration Officials, and arrested by Deputy US Marshals once he arrived in Houston, Texas.

A federal warrant for Flath’s arrest was issued in the Eastern District of Wisconsin on October 7, 2010. The Department of Homeland Security investigated the charges of Illicit Sexual Conduct in Foreign Places. It is alleged that Flath engaged in the repeated sexual assault of a child under the age of eighteen, and with the possession of child pornography. The alleged conduct began when the victim was ten years old. Prior to arriving in Corozal, Belize, the seventy year-old Flathwas a long-time resident of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

In June of 2010, Belizean authorities conducted a search of Roland Flath’s home in Copper Bank where they discovered a number of pornographic materials on DVD's, a laptop, a desktop computer and a camera. The pornographic material included a Belizean minor. As a result, Flath was taken into police custody and was charged with one count of indecent assault. Further information led police to a 14 year old student who stated that in 2007, at the age of 10, she went to the Flath's residence where he invited her inside and showed her a book of nude pictures and asked her if she wanted to do what she saw. She told police that she said no, but Flath then allegedly disrobed her and gave her 20 dollars. The minor told police she visited Flath more than 30 times during the past five years. During these visits he allegedly sexually abused her.

Marshal Carr credited the multi-agency approach in this investigation to today’s successful capture.

Flath now awaits extradition proceedings in Texas before being brought back to Wisconsin to face trialin connection with the charges.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

CBP Seizes $381K in Currency Bound for Mexico in Brownsville

Brownsville, Texas — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents conducting outbound enforcement operations at the Brownsville port of entry seized $381,060 in bulk U.S. currency.

On Feb. 20, CBP officers and Border Patrol agents working outbound enforcement operations at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge came in contact with a red 1996 Dodge Ram as it attempted to exit the U.S. and enter Mexico. The driver, a 19 year-old U.S. citizen from Pharr, Texas, traveling with two minors was referred to secondary for further inspection. In secondary, a search of the Dodge resulted in the discovery of 15 packages of bulk U.S. currency hidden within the vehicle.

CBP officers seized the currency the vehicle and the case has been referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) special agents for further investigation.

“Brownsville CBP officers and Border Patrol agents working together on outbound enforcement prevented this large amount of bulk U.S. currency from being exported without meeting reporting requirements and in violation of federal law. I commend our officers and agents for their outstanding contribution to the seizure of undeclared currency,” said Michael Freeman, CBP port director in Brownsville.

It is not a crime to carry more than $10,000, but it is a federal offense not to declare currency or monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or more to a CBP officer upon entry or exit from the U.S. or to conceal it with intent to evade reporting requirements. Failure to declare may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest. An individual may petition for the return of currency seized by CBP officers, but the petitioner must prove that the source and intended use of the currency was legitimate.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

This article was sponsored by Police Books.