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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Round Up Barrio Azteca Members

Racketeering Charges Allege Responsibility for Murder of a U.S. Consulate Employee in Juarez on March 13, 2010

United States Attorney John E. Murphy and FBI Special Agent in Charge David Cuthbertson announced the arrests of 12 members and associates of the Barrio Azteca criminal organization based on federal racketeering charges which allege acts of kidnapping, extortion, drug distribution, and murder including the slaying of a U.S. Consulate employee, her husband, and the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee in Juarez last year.

A superseding federal grand jury indictment, returned on March 2, 2011, and unsealed today, charges those arrested today, 16 other individuals already in custody (seven in the U.S., nine in Mexico) and seven fugitives (see below list) with violating the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization, or RICO, statute. The indictment alleges that since January 2003, the defendants have conspired to carry out the mission of the Barrio Azteca criminal organization through the smuggling and distribution of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana; robbery; extortion; firearms trafficking; money laundering; obstruction of justice; witness retaliation; and numerous acts of violence, including kidnapping and murder, in the U.S. as well as in the Republic of Mexico.

According to the indictment, the Barrio Azteca, which began in the 1980s as a violent prison gang and has expanded into a transnational criminal organization, is primarily based in West Texas; Juarez, Mexico; and throughout state and federal prisons in the U.S. and Mexico. To increase its power and influence, the indictment alleges that the Barrio Azteca formed an alliance with the Vicente Carrillo-Fuentes (VCF) drug trafficking organization in Mexico. As part of this alliance, the indictment alleges, the Barrio Azteca conducts enforcement operations against VCF rivals in return for which VCF pays the Barrio Azteca or provides them with illegal drugs at discounted prices.

The indictment alleges that defendants Enrique Lopez, Jose Acosta, Eduardo Ravelo, Luis Mendez, Arturo Castrellon, Ricardo De la Rosa, Jose Diaz, Martin Marrufo, Luis Hernandez, and Miguel Nevarez conspired to cause the deaths of three individuals with ties to the U.S. Consulate in Juarez, Mexico. On March 13, 2010, 25-year-old Leslie Ann Enriquez Catton, a U.S. citizen and employee of the U.S. Consulate; her husband, 30-year-old Arthur Redelfs, a detention officer with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office; and 37-year- old Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, a citizen of Juarez whose wife also worked at the U.S. Consulate, were all tragically gunned down in Juarez, Mexico.

“The vicious murders of Leslie Enriquez, her husband Arthur Redelfs, and Jorge Salcido illustrate how far- reaching and senseless the violence perpetrated by the drug cartels and their affiliated criminal gangs has become. Our hearts go out to the families of these three innocent victims, as well as thousands of others, who have suffered tragic losses for which there can be no reparation. The indictment reflects our resolve to vigorously pursue those responsible for these wanton acts and hold them accountable under the rule of law,” stated United States Attorney John E. Murphy.

In addition to the consulate murders, the indictment alleges that in December 2006, a Barrio Azteca member shot and killed Jose Luis Oviedo in El Paso. In 2007, Barrio Azteca members allegedly kidnapped a man in El Paso and took him across the U.S./Mexico border to Juarez. In March 2008, the Barrio Azteca allegedly ordered the murder of Barrio Azteca member David Merez, who was killed that same month in Juarez. The indictment also alleges that the Barrio Azteca caused two persons to be shot and killed in Socorro, Texas, on July 2, 2009. According to the indictment, in August 2010, Barrio Azteca members kidnapped the wife and parents of a Barrio Azteca member whom they believed was cooperating with U.S. law enforcement, and also killed the Barrio Azteca member’s stepdaughter.

The indictment further charges that the Barrio Azteca also profits by importing heroin, cocaine, and marijuana into the United States from Mexico. The indictment points to specific acts in which more than eight kilos of heroin, more than 100 kilograms of cocaine, and nearly 300 pounds of marijuana are associated with the possession, distribution, or importation of controlled substances into the United States.

“Today’s unsealed charges and arrests signal an important milestone in our efforts to seek justice for the families of Leslie Ann Enriquez Catton, Arthur Redelfs, and Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros. Almost one year ago today, our nation was shocked by the brutal murder of these innocent individuals, who were United States Consulate employees and their family members, to include an El Paso County Sheriffs Detention Officer. Today’s charges and arrests also seek to further disrupt the criminal activities of the Barrio Azteca Gang, whose members, the indictment alleges, are responsible for carrying on a pattern of racketeering activity in both the United States and Mexico, and who are responsible for the March 13, 2010 murders in Ciudad Juarez. Today’s events would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of the entire El Paso law enforcement community and without the cooperation of our Mexican counterparts,” stated David Cuthbertson, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, El Paso Division.

Ravelo, who is currently one of the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, Hernandez, and Mendez are currently at large. The United States has filed provisional arrest warrants with the government of Mexico for the arrest of these men in connection with this case.

Upon conviction, each defendant faces up to life in federal prison. It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Joseph A. Cooley of the Criminal Division’s Gang Unit, Trial Attorney Brian Skaret of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico provided significant assistance in this case. Valuable assistance was provided by the Criminal Division’s Offices of International Affairs and Enforcement Operations. U.S. and Mexican law enforcement authorities have cooperated and provided extensive assistance to one another in this ongoing matter.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the DEA. Special assistance was provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Federal Bureau of Prisons; U.S. Diplomatic Security Service; the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; El Paso Police Department; El Paso County Sheriff’s Office; West Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), U.S. Probation Service, El Paso Independent School District Police Department; Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission; New Mexico State Police; Dona Ana County (NM) Sheriff’s Office; Las Cruces (NM) Police Department, Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility and Otero County (NM) Prison Facility. The Government of Mexico also cooperated and provided assistance in the investigation of this case.

Texas CBP Officers Seize More than 17 Pounds in Cocaine

El Paso, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the El Paso port of entry Wednesday, made a 17.49 pound cocaine seizure with an estimated value of $559,680.

“This load of cocaine will not enter our communities and harm our children thanks in large part to the great work being done by our CBP officers on the frontline,” said Hector Mancha, CBP El Paso Port Director.

The seizure was made at the Paso Del Norte crossing at approximately 12:10 p.m. when a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado arrived at the port from Mexico. A CBP officer at the primary inspection selected the vehicle for further examination and referred it to secondary. CBP drug sniffing dog “Max” searched the vehicle and alerted to the trunk area. The vehicle was taken to a separate inspection area where an extensive inspection of the vehicle was conducted. CBP officers discovered seven cocaine-filled packages concealed in a non-factory compartment in the floor area of the trunk. The contents of the bundles tested positive for cocaine.

CBP officers at the port arrested the driver, 20-year-old Jessica Zamarripa, of El Paso. She was turned over to ICE-HSI special agents after the case was accepted for federal prosecution and booked into the El Paso County jail. She remains in custody and is being held without bond.

In addition to the cocaine bust, CBP officers working at the El Paso port of entry made two marijuana seizures with an approximate weight of 180.45 pounds.

In addition to the drug seizures, CBP officers recorded 11 immigration violations at the El Paso port of entry including seven intended immigrants, two impostors and two alien smugglers. Intended immigrants will use a legally issued border-crossing card (laser visa) to live or work in the U.S., which is not authorized. They also lose their documents and are generally returned to Mexico. Impostors generally will use a legitimate entry document assigned to another person and present it as their own. Violators generally lose their documents, can be prosecuted and go to jail and/or are returned to Mexico. Alien smugglers are prosecuted and go to jail. They also identified one vehicle export violation generating a $500 penalty.

CBP officers also took one fugitive from justice into custody who was being sought on an outstanding warrant.

CBP officers working at the El Paso port of entry made two seizures of prohibited agricultural items. Violators paid $350 in penalties in association with the violations. Prohibited food products seized were fresh peaches.

CBP Field Operations is responsible for securing our borders at the ports of entry. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers’ primary mission is anti-terrorism; they screen all people, vehicles, and goods entering the United States, while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel into and out of the U.S. Their mission also includes carrying out traditional border-related responsibilities, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing immigration law, protecting the nation’s food supply and agriculture industry from pests and diseases, and enforcing trade laws.

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.

Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Leaders Announce Kickoff of 2011 V-GRIP Effort in the Mahoning Valley

Seven people were arrested and an assault rifle was seized during the first weekend of this year’s V-GRIP program, federal, state and local law enforcement officials announced today.

“This program is the cornerstone of my office’s efforts to make the Mahoning Valley safer,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “V-GRIP is a prime example of what happens when agencies and departments combine their resources and work together. We will build off the success we had last summer and work to take illegal firearms off the streets.”

The program began this past weekend with seven new arrests, an additional 18 people arrested on outstanding warrants and the seizure of an assault rifle. Charges are pending in those cases.

“The V-GRIP initiative shares the goals of the Ohio Attorney General’s office to protect Ohio families from violent crime and make encounters safer for law enforcement officers, said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “I commend and encourage the participation of of Ohio law enforcement in V-GRIP.”

“The days are heating up for criminals in the Mahoning Valley this summer, but soon they will feel the cold steel bars of justice. ATF is joining forces with Valley law enforcement in the V-GRIP initiative to take back the neighborhoods and stop gun violence,” said Robert J. Browning, Special Agent in Charge, ATF Columbus Field Division.

“The FBI and its partners are committed to combating gang and violent activity in the Mahoning Valley,” said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge, Cleveland Office. “This multi-agency initiative will help take dangerous offenders off our streets with the goal of making our neighborhoods safer.”

V-GRIP stands for Violence Gun Reduction and Interdiction Program. It includes participation from: the U.S. Attorney’s Office; the U.S. Marshal Service; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Federal Probation Service; the Ohio Adult Parole Authority; the Ohio State Highway Patrol; the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation; the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office; the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office; the Youngstown City Prosecutor; the Youngstown Police Department; the Warren Police Department; the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force and the Trumbull County Probation Department, among others.

These agencies are working together to put additional officers on the streets of Youngstown, Warren and surrounding communities to supplement regular patrols. They share intelligence and use crime mapping software and other technology to target specific neighborhood crime hot spots.

The goal is to identify repeat violent offenders, with an emphasis on reducing gun violence. Those arrested and found to be in possession of illegal firearms, drugs or other contraband could then be prosecuted in either federal or state court.

The officers and agents participating have undergone extensive training in the past month about safeguarding suspects’ rights while searching for guns and other contraband.

Johnstown Man Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges

JOHNSTOWN, PA—A resident of Johnstown, Pennsylvania pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of distributing cocaine base, commonly known as “crack,” United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Charles Cornelius Brown, 36, pleaded guilty to the indictment before United States District Court Judge Kim R. Gibson.

In connection with the guilty plea, on July 28, 2010, Brown distributed less than five grams of cocaine base, and on Aug. 25, 2010, Brown distributed less than 28 grams of cocaine base.

Judge Gibson scheduled sentencing for Oct. 25, 2011, at 10 a.m. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 40 years in prison, a fine of $2,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie L. Haines is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Laurel Highlands Resident Agency of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Cambria County Drug Task Force and the Johnstown Police Department conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Brown.

Do You Know Who Your True “Friends” Are?

Social media presents both opportunities and dangers

More than half of all Americans have accounts on one or more social network  like Facebook, Twitter or MySpace. Even here at DHS we are using social media to share information and engage with the public.

While social media is a great way to communicate and share information with friends and family, there are real dangers from hackers and cyber criminals. A stranger online should be treated in the same way as a stranger in real life. Unfamiliar “friends” or connections on social networks are not likely your true friends. Worse, they could be ill-intentioned people who use social networking sites to target or collect personal information.

Whether on social networks or web connected video games, follow these simple security tips from the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team:

•Limit the amount of personal information you post: Do not post information that would make you vulnerable, such as your address or information about your schedule or routine. If your trusted friends post information about you, make sure the information is not more than you would be comfortable sharing with strangers.
•Be wary of strangers: The internet makes it easy for people to misrepresent their identities and motives. If you interact with people you do not know, be cautious about the amount of information you reveal.
•Be skeptical: Don't believe everything you read online. People may post false or misleading information about various topics, including their own identities.
•Evaluate your settings: Take advantage of a site's security and privacy settings and review them regularly to make sure that your choices are still appropriate.
Stop.Think.Connect. Protect yourself and help keep the web a safer place for everyone.

For more information on the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign, please visit dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.

Montgomery Man Pleads Guilty to Five Bank Robberies

BIRMINGHAM—A Montgomery man pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to four bank robberies in Tuscaloosa and one in Auburn, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Maley.

NATHAN H. JENKINS JR., 49, pleaded guilty to the robberies before U.S. District Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins. His sentencing is scheduled Sept. 28.

Jenkins was indicted in March for the Oct. 7, 2010, armed robbery of the Bank of Tuscaloosa on North McFarland Circle. He pleaded guilty to that robbery, acknowledging he entered the bank, brandished a toy pistol, demanded money from bank tellers, and stole about $8,000.

Jenkins also pleaded guilty to three additional bank robberies in Tuscaloosa, which prosecutors charged him with following the March indictment. Those robberies all took place at Cadence Bank on McFarland Boulevard North. Jenkins pleaded guilty to the following robberies at the Cadence Bank: April 23, 2009, taking about $17,703; Aug. 14, 2009, taking about $8,782; and Oct. 23, 2009, taking about $12,501.

Additionally, Jenkins pleaded guilty to a bank robbery in Auburn. He attempted to rob the Bank of Auburn on Oct. 5, 2010. That robbery was broken up by bank security officers before Jenkins was able to obtain any money. The Auburn case was transferred to federal court in the Northern District of Alabama from the Middle District.

Jenkins was indicted for the Bank of Tuscaloosa robbery along with TRACEY PADGETT, 47, of Montgomery. Padgett was charged as an accessory after the fact for trying to hide the stolen money in her purse immediately after the robbery. She pleaded guilty to the charge April 20.

“These defendants caused fear and trepidation throughout Alabama for two years,” Vance said. “It was only through the combined efforts of local law enforcement and the FBI, across jurisdictional lines, that the duo were brought to justice and those fears were allayed,” she said.

The maximum sentence for armed bank robbery is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum sentence for brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence is seven years in prison, consecutive to the robbery sentence, and a $250,000 fine. The maximum sentence for accessory after the fact is 10 years in prison and a $125,000 fine.

The FBI and the Tuscaloosa Police Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Terence M. O’Rourke is prosecuting it.

Hobbs Man Sentenced to 37 Months in Prison for Crack Cocaine Conviction

ALBUQUERQUE—United States Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that, today in federal court in Santa Fe, Gary O. Austin, 52, of Hobbs, New Mexico, was sentenced to 37 months in prison for conspiring to possess crack cocaine with the intent to distribute. Austin will be on supervised release for three years after he completes his prison sentence.

Austin has been in federal custody since his arrest on August 19, 2010. On January 10, 2011, Austin pled guilty to an information charging him with conspiracy to possess crack cocaine with intent to distribute. In pleadings filed with the court, Austin admitted that, on March 30, 2009, he and co-defendant Nathaniel Ray Evans sold 14.32 net grams of crack cocaine to an undercover narcotics agent in exchange for $950; the transaction took place in Hobbs. Evans, 34, also of Hobbs, pled guilty to conspiracy to possess crack cocaine with the intent to distribute on April 8, 2010. On January 18, 2011, Evans was sentenced to 37 months of imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Lea County Drug Task Force and the Hobbs Police Department, and was prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant United States Attorney Alfred J. Perez.

Warning: Watch Out for Illegally Imported Fireworks

Washington — As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is warning the public about the dangers associated with illegally imported fireworks.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were approximately 6,300 reported injuries last year involving fireworks during the 30 days surrounding the Independence Day holiday, which translates to about 200 injuries a day. Nearly 40 percent of these injuries were related to firecrackers, bottle rockets, and sparklers.

To ensure the safety of imported fireworks, CPSC is working closely with CBP to identify potentially unsafe shipments for CBP to check at ports of entry. CPSC has established permanent staffing at the Import Safety Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center in Washington, and is working with CBP at select ports to stop unsafe imports from entering the commerce of the U.S.

The Import Safety CTAC combines resources and personnel from various government agencies to protect the American public from harm caused by unsafe imported products. The center accomplishes this through better communication, information-sharing, and by reducing redundant inspection activities.

In 2010, selected shipments of imported fireworks were sampled and tested at U.S. ports of entry to determine whether they were in compliance with the Federal Hazardous Substance Act. Of the shipments targeted, more than 43 percent contained noncompliant fireworks. In most of these cases, noncompliant fireworks were destroyed voluntarily by the importer.

“We’re very happy that we stopped those goods from entering the commerce,” said Dan Baldwin, executive director of CBP’s cargo and conveyance security office. “But much of that effort requires the due diligence of the American consumer—to make sure that they clearly understand what they’re buying and that the products are safe.”

Video is available of remarks from Baldwin and a demonstration of dangerous fireworks.  A feature story including additional remarks from Baldwin is also available. For additional information on the CTAC and import safety, please go to CBP's Trade site.

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.

Neopit Man Sentenced for Assault of a Federal Officer While Eluding Menominee Tribal Police

James L. Santelle, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that on April 1, 2011, United States District Judge William C. Griesbach sentenced Jerry B. Nahwahquaw (age 18) of Neopit, Wisconsin to 36 months in prison for assaulting a Menominee Tribal Police officer. Judge Griesbach also ordered Nahwahquaw to pay $2,283.65 in restitution for damage he caused to a Menominee Tribal Police squad car, to pay a $100 special assessment, and to serve three years on supervised release following his prison term.

According to court records, the charge stems from an October 31, 2010 incident on the Menominee Indian Reservation. During the incident, Nahwahquaw eluded Menominee Tribal Police and Menominee County Sheriff officers for approximately 26 miles and at speeds approaching 90 mph. During the course of the chase, Nahwahquaw drove towards a Menominee Tribal Police officer at a high rate of speed, thereby assaulting the officer and causing him to take evasive action. The officer was not injured in the incident. Nahwahquaw had several individuals in his vehicle at the time when eluding officers and had been drinking alcohol prior to the incident.

According to United States Attorney James L. Santelle, “this case serves as a reminder to our community that significant consequences follow those who fail to stop at the request of law enforcement. Nahwahquaw needlessly endangered himself, his passengers, law enforcement, and the community by his actions in this case.”

For Additional Information Contact:
Assistant United States Attorney William Roach (920) 884-1066
Public Information Officer Dean Puschnig (414) 297-1700

McLaughlin Man Pleads to Voluntary Manslaughter

United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that Kendall White Tail, age 19, of McLaughlin, appeared before United States District Judge Charles B. Kornmann on June 27, 2011, and pled guilty to a Superseding Information that charged him with Voluntary Manslaughter. The maximum penalty upon conviction is 15 years in custody, a $250,000 fine, or both; three years of supervised release; and a $100 special assessment.

The voluntary manslaughter charge resulted from an incident on April 16, 2011, at approximately 11:00 a.m., when Kendall White Tail got into an argument with his brother in the kitchen of their mother’s residence in McLaughlin. During the sudden quarrel, Kendall White Tail picked up a knife and stabbed his brother several times, resulting in Charles White Tail’s death.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Standing Rock Agency. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mikal Hanson.

A presentence investigation was ordered, and a sentencing date was set for September 6, 2011. The defendant was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal pending sentencing.

FBI Seeking Public’s Assistance in Identifying Bank Robber

Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena announced today that the FBI is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying an individual who is a suspect in two bank robberies: June 10, 2011 at Chase Bank, 3044 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit, Michigan and June 22, 2011 at Huntington Bank, 25309 Evergreen, Southfield, Michigan.

The individual was described as an older black male (late 50s to 70 years old), tall/thin build, salt and pepper hair with a goatee, wearing red/burgundy baseball cap. Please see the attached photograph.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Racine Residents Charged with Drug Conspiracy and Distribution Offenses

Racine Residents Charged With Drug Conspiracy and Distribution Offenses James L. Santelle, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced today that eighteen individuals were indicted in federal court in an 18-count indictment charging conspiracies to distribute heroin, crack cocaine, and marijuana; individual acts of drug distribution, and maintaining a drug-involved premises, between 2008 until June, 2011.

The following individuals are charged in the indictment:

Name,  Age and Residency,  Count(s)
Charles A. Berry 24, Racine 1, 9
Timothy Burgess 26, Racine 1, 2, 4
Orrin T. Graham 31, Racine 1, 2, 7
Rodney M. Hogan 41, Racine 1, 8, 11
Tavares M. Roberts 33, Racine 1, 3, 8, 12
Eric D. Wilkes 22, Racine 1, 13
Christopher A. Cosey 32, Racine 2, 15
Andre L. Epps 42, Racine 2, 9
Jessie J. Epps 38, Racine 2, 16
Steve H. Ivory 39, Racine 2, 5
Willie Overstreet, Jr. 44, Racine 2, 6
Ralph D. Swift 47, Racine 2, 10
Allen B. Wainwright 50, Racine 2, 4, 6, 7, 10
Zena S. Gardner 22, Racine 11
Byron E. Page 46, Racine 22
Sheila Adams 42, Racine 14
Natasha Page 25, Racine 17
Ruth Healy 76, Racine 18

If convicted of count one, the defendants face a minimum of ten years’ imprisonment with a maximum of life, a $10,000,000 fine, and between five years and life on supervised release. The penalties for a conviction under count two are a minimum of five years’ imprisonment with a forty year maximum, a $5,000,000 fine, and between four years and life on supervised release. Defendants charged in counts three through fifteen face a maximum of twenty years’ imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, and between three years and life supervised release. The penalties for a conviction under count eleven are a maximum of one year imprisonment, $1,000 fine, and one year of supervised release. The penalties for convictions under counts seventeen and eighteen are a maximum of twenty years’ imprisonment, a $500,000 fine and three years of supervised release. The indictment also includes the forfeiture of the defendants' properties used to commit the offenses and proceeds of the crime.

The investigation is part of an ongoing, long-term effort by law enforcement to eradicate the sale of crack cocaine, heroin, and other controlled substances by violent gang members in Racine. Since the first takedown in June 2008, 115 violent gang members and drug dealers from the Racine area have been charged in federal court.

This latest investigation began by focusing on the drug-dealing occurring at Ruth’s Beauty Salon, 1200 South Memorial Drive, Racine, Wisconsin. The investigation initially focused on a barber at the salon who was believed to be assisting in the sale of heroin and crack cocaine at the Salon to support his own addiction. The investigation then progressed to those individuals who were believed to be sources of supply for heroin and crack, including those individuals charged in Count One of the Indictment.

The lengthy investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Greater Racine Task Force. The Task Force is comprised of personnel from the FBI, Racine Police Department, Racine County Sheriff’s Office, the Mount Pleasant Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Wisconsin Department of Justice-Division of Criminal Investigations.

On June 23, 2011, law enforcement personnel from the Task Force, the Racine Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the United States Marshals Service simultaneously arrested nine defendants and executed nine federal search warrants. Five defendants were already in custody. The following defendants are still at large: Rodney M. Hogan, Tavares M. Roberts, Zena S. Gardner, and Willie Overstreet, Jr.

In announcing these indictments, United States Attorney Santelle commented: “Our focused and highly effective work in identifying and apprehending those people who engage in illegal drug-trafficking of all types continues throughout the Eastern District of Wisconsin. The message to our community–and especially to those who may still be dealing in these highly destructive substances–is clear and unmistakable: You will be held fully accountable for your violence, your trafficking, and all of your other criminal behaviors related to that. As this latest, highly successful investigative operation shows, federal, state, and local law enforcement officers will not stop until this illegal conduct stops; we will persist in our prosecutions until that time when all of the people of Racine, Kenosha, Milwaukee, and every other city, town, and village in this district enjoy peace in their neighborhoods–safe and secure from criminal conduct.”

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Erica O'Neil of the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, United States Department of Justice.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which time the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

For additional information contact:
Assistant United States Attorney Erica O'Neil
Public Information Officer Dean Puschnig
(414) 297-1700

Pittsburgh Crips Gang Member Sentenced to 72 Months in Prison

WASHINGTON – A Pittsburgh man was sentenced today to 72 months in prison for conspiring to conduct a racketeering enterprise related to his membership in a Pittsburgh Crips gang, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton of the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Terrell Henson, 26, aka “50,” pleaded guilty on Feb. 1, 2011, before Senior U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond to one count of conspiracy to engage in a racketeering enterprise.

According to the guilty plea, Henson and others participated in a pattern of racketeering activity that included multiple acts involving robberies at gun point; attempted murders; distribution of controlled substances, including cocaine, heroin and crack cocaine; and obstruction of justice and witness intimidation.

According to court documents, Henson was a member of the Brighton Place Crips, a criminal street gang that controlled an area of Brighton Place and Morrison Street, also known as the Mad Cave, and Federal Street in the Northside area of Pittsburgh.  The Brighton Place Crips were formed in the early 1990s; in 2003, it formed an alliance with the Northview Heights/ Fineview Crips.  This alliance expanded the gang’s drug trafficking territory, and increased the number of gang members and associates available to preserve and protect the gang’s power, territory and profits through violence.

The Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips gang maintains exclusive control over drug trafficking in these neighborhoods through continuous violence and intimidation of rivals and witnesses.  Members of the gang support each other through payment of attorneys’ fees and bonds, as well as payments to jail commissary accounts and support payments to incarcerated members’ families.  

In addition, gang members had violent confrontations with members of the rival Manchester OGs and other street gangs operating in the Northside area of Pittsburgh.  Members and associates obtained greater authority and prestige within the enterprise based on their reputation for violence and their ability to obtain and sell a steady supply of illegal drugs.  According to court documents, the Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips gang members identify themselves by wearing blue, flashing Crips gang hand signals, and using phrases such as “Cuz,” “C-Safe,” “Loc” and “G.K.”   

According to court documents, Henson served as a “hustler” for the gang.  Hustlers were gang members who distributed controlled substances on behalf of the gang, in the territory controlled by the Northview Heights/ Brighton Place Crips.   

Henson is one of 26 defendants charged in February 2010 with being members of, and conducting racketeering activity through, the Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips gang.  This prosecution resulted from a Project Safe Neighborhoods Task Force investigation that began in 2005.  To date, 16 members of the Brighton Place/ Northview Heights Crips who were charged in this indictment have pleaded guilty to racketeering charges.           

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charles A. Eberle and Troy Rive tti of the Western District of Pennsylvania and Trial Attorney Kevin Rosenberg of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.  The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police; the Allegheny County, Penn., Police Department; and the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office.

4th of July Weekend: Play It Safe

Injuries from fireworks a major concern for the holiday

(MADISON) – The 4th of July and fireworks just go together.  With the holiday weekend approaching, this is a great time to remember that fireworks can cause serious injuries and death if not property used.
           In 2009, doctors treated 8,800 fireworks-related injuries in U.S. hospital emergency rooms.
           39% of those victims were under the age of 15.
           53% of the injuries were to extremities like hands, arms and legs.
           84% of the injuries involved fireworks that federal regulations permit people to use.
           18,000 fires were started by fireworks, resulting in 30 injuries and $38 million in direct property damage.

(Courtesy National Fire Protection Association)
But you can protect yourself and your family by knowing these simple facts and tips:
           NEVER allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.
           Young children often suffer injuries from sparklers which burn at about 2,000 degrees, hot enough to melt some metals.
           Adults igniting the fireworks should always wear eye protection and never have any part of the body over the firework.
           Only buy fireworks from reliable sellers.
           Only use fireworks outdoors.
           Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
           Always have water handy (a garden hose or a bucket).
           Light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from buildings, dry leaves and flammable materials.
           Light only one firework at a time.
           Never throw or point fireworks at other people or animals.
           Keep your pets indoors to reduce the risk that they will run loose and get injured. Many animals have very sensitive ears and can be stressed or frightened due to the lighting of fireworks.

The best advice is to leave the fireworks displays to trained professionals. Then sit back and “ohhh…ahhh” as you enjoy the show!

FBI and JPSO Seek Public Assistance in Identifying Bank Robber

Today at approximately 5:10 p.m. the Capital One Bank located at 1501 Veterans Blvd, Metairie, Louisiana was robbed. The robber approached a teller, handed her a demand note, and fled the bank with an undisclosed amount of money. He left on foot heading east on Veterans Blvd.

The robber was described as a clean shaven white male, with grey hair, approximately 5'10", mid to late 50’s, with a heavy build. The robber was wearing a black T-shirt with a picture of a basketball player on the front, blue jeans, and a black baseball hat. A bank surveillance image of the robber is pasted below.

Anyone with information about this bank robbery is asked to call the FBI at 504-816-3000. The Metropolitan Orleans Bank Security Association (MOBSA) is offering a reward of up to $5,000. for information leading to the arrest and indictment of this bank robber.

Bank surveillance image of Capital One Bank Robber

The public is asked to visit the website www.bandittrackerneworleans.com, featuring color photos and descriptions of this bank robber along with others and fugitives throughout the FBI’s New Orleans Division to see if they can assist the FBI in identifying and/or locating the captioned wanted individuals.

Racine and Kenosha Area Residents Charged with Drug Conspiracy and Firearm Offenses

United States Attorney James L. Santelle announced that indictments issued in May 2011 have been unsealed charging 17 individuals with various drug-trafficking and firearms offenses. The defendants, several of whom are alleged to be members of the Gangster Disciples street gang in Racine, are charged with conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1) and 846.

The following individuals are charged in the indictment:

Name, Age, Residency
Patricia L. Badger 52, Burlington
Elvin L. Brewer 33, Racine
Daniel J. Cisler 41, Racine
Bryant J. Jones 35, Waukegan, IL
Jeremy G. Lopez 29, Racine
Joseph G. Montemurro 26, Kenosha
Dora F. Montoya 54, Atascosa, TX
Carlos Roberto Montoya 38, San Antonio, TX
Hiram Rosado 37, Kenosha
Jose J. Rosado "Choch" 38, Kenosha
Miguel E. Rosales 35, Racine
Gustavo H. Salas 32, Kenosha
Niccole M. Simmons 35, Racine
Kenneth Tracy 43, Kenosha
Lenin A. Urrego 25, Kenosha
Ricardo G. Vasquez 38, Kenosha

Additionally, on June 27, 2011, a criminal complaint was returned against Carlos Montoya, Sr., of San Antonio, Texas. Montoya was charged with possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1).

The defendants, if convicted, face a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and up to forty years in prison; a fine of up to $5,000,000; and between four years and life on supervised release. It should be noted the indictment also charges Miguel E. Rosales with being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1). If convicted of this offense he faces up to 10 years' imprisonment, up to three years on supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.

The defendants were charged after lengthy investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Wisconsin Department of Justice—Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), the Kenosha Drug Operations Group (KDOG) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Greater Racine Task Force. The Task Force is comprised of personnel from the FBI, Racine Police Department, Racine County Sheriff’s Office, the Mount Pleasant Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and DCI.

Today 18 state and federal search warrants were executed in Texas, Illinois, and Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, agents seized 18 pistols and one shotgun; approximately $45,000 in cash; several ounces of cocaine; small amounts of crack cocaine and methamphetamine; and two pounds of marijuana. In Texas, agents seized two pistols, an AR-15 assault rifle, and a short barreled shot gun as well as a ½ ounce of cocaine and methamphetamine.

Fifteen of the defendants were arrested today. The remaining defendant has agreed to turn himself in today.

The following agencies participated in today’s takedown: DEA, DCI, KDOG, ATF, Mount Pleasant Police Department, Racine Police Department, Kenosha Police Department, Racine County Sheriff’s Office, Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Marshals Service, West Allis Police Department, the Milwaukee Metro Drug Enforcement Group, and the Illinois State Patrol.

Carlos Montoya, Sr., and Dora Montoya were arrested by the Illinois State Patrol, Will County Sheriff’s Department, and Will County Cooperative Police Assistance Team on June 24, 2011. Police seized a kilogram of cocaine from their car.

The investigation is part of an ongoing, long-term effort by law enforcement to target large scale cocaine traffickers. This investigation was initiated earlier this year based on information obtained through confidential sources concerning a large scale cocaine distribution organization in the Racine and Milwaukee area that was supplying the Gangster Disciple street gang. The organization was led by Miguel E. Rosales of Racine and involved out of state sources of cocaine and marijuana from Chicago, Illinois, and San Antonio, Texas. Multiple kilograms of cocaine were distributed on a monthly basis. The organization utilized multiple street level dealers in the Racine, Kenosha, and Green Bay areas.

In announcing the charges in this indictment, United States Attorney Santelle commented: “The criminal conduct of the 17 people charged by the grand jury has now come to an end–and the neighborhoods that have been victimized by their nefarious trafficking in illegal drugs and their use of firearms are now working toward a restoration of the safety and security that all communities district-wide both want and deserve. Like many other recent, successful law enforcement.

Tucson Sector Border Patrol Agents Rescue Illegal Alien Later Identified as Suspected Criminal

Records Check Revealed Subject Wanted for Murder in Texas

Tucson, Ariz. – Yesterday, Border Patrol agents from the Casa Grande Station apprehended a man from Honduras who was illegally present in the U.S. and wanted in Texas for homicide.

The encounter occurred near North Komelik, Ariz., where agents located the man after a branch struck him in the face and lodged in his eye. After agents transported him to a local hospital for treatment, he was taken to the Casa Grande Station for processing. A records check revealed the subject had an extraditable warrant from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Houston, Texas. In addition, record checks also indicated he was affiliated with the violent Mara Salvatrucha 13 street gang. The subject was turned over to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office for extradition.

All illegal aliens apprehended by the Border Patrol undergo criminal history checks using the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. IAFIS accesses criminal records throughout the U.S., thereby assisting agents to identify violent criminals and wanted persons quickly.

IAFIS is a critical tool in the Border Patrol’s mission of protecting America and ensuring offenders are brought to an appropriate law enforcement resolution.

Since launching the Southwest Border Initiative in March 2009, the Department of Homeland Security has made significant investments toward establishing a secure and safe border environment; improving the quality of life throughout Arizona communities.

The Border Patrol welcomes assistance from the community. Report suspicious activity by calling toll free (1-877) 872-7435. All calls will be answered and will remain anonymous.

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.

Hogsett Announces Indianapolis Man Charged in String of Bank Robberies

INDIANAPOLIS—Joseph H. Hogsett, United States Attorney, announced that Nicolas McEwen, 32, Indianapolis was charged today by criminal complaint with six bank robberies, the last of which occurred at 6:40 p.m. yesterday at the Teachers Credit Union located inside the Meijer Department Store on East 96 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Safe Streets Task Force and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

The complaint alleges that McEwen was identified as a suspect in several bank robberies in the Indianapolis area. Investigators followed McEwen and eventually McEwen went inside a Teachers Credit Union branch bank located in the Meijer Department Store on East 96 Indianapolis. McEwen was arrested after robbing the TCU bank. Following his arrest McEwen agreed to talk to authorities after being advised of his rights. McEwen admitted to the TCU bank robbery and seven other bank robberies.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Winfield D. Ong, who is prosecuting the case for the government, McEwen faces a maximum of 120 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine. Following a hearing held on June 22, 2011, McEwen was ordered detained in the Marion County Jail pending disposition of this case before a U.S. Magistrate Judge.

A criminal complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.