Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges Connecticut Resident with Manufacturing Explosives and Distributing Them in New York City

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, JANICE K. FEDARCYK, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and RAYMOND W. KELLY, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York, announced today the filing of an indictment against NICHOLAS LAHINES for manufacturing, dealing, transporting, and distributing explosive materials without a license. LAHINES, 37, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, was arrested in the Bronx on May 19, 2011, immediately after selling eight cylinders containing explosives to a confidential source of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (the “CS”). On May 20, 2011, LAHINES was charged in a criminal complaint presented in Manhattan federal court before Magistrate Judge HENRY B. PITMAN and ordered detained.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: “As alleged, Nicholas Lahines was very proud of his bomb-making prowess, and more than happy to offer specific instructions on how to detonate his creations to maximize the harm they caused. The fact that he is in custody and no longer a danger to the public is a measure of how seriously we, along with our law enforcement partners, take the illegal manufacture and sale of explosives, regardless of the seller’s motivation or affiliation.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge JANICE K. FEDARCYK stated: “Regardless of what purpose was intended, the defendant’s illegal manufacture and distribution of explosives is a serious matter, and the FBI treated it seriously. The defendant’s interest in explosives, even absent any specific plan by him to cause harm, nonetheless posed a serious threat to public safety. He clearly was willing to sell explosive devices without regard to how they would be used.”

NYPD Police Commissioner RAYMOND W. KELLY stated: “NYPD detectives and FBI agents worked successfully together to avert potential serious injury and death that these devices were capable of delivering. Congratulations to them and to U.S. Attorney Bharara and his staff in bringing this individual to justice.”

According to the indictment filed today in Manhattan federal court and the criminal complaint filed on May 20, 2011:

In late April 2011, law enforcement officers suspected that an individual, later identified as NICHOLAS LAHINES, was involved in the distribution of explosive devices. On May 19, law enforcement officers conducted surveillance of LAHINES’ residence in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and followed him as he drove to a parking lot in Bronx County, where the CS entered LAHINES’ car. LAHINES then retrieved two plastic containers from the trunk and gave the plastic containers to the CS. Each of those containers held four cylindrical explosive devices.

LAHINES then discussed the devices with the CS, and explained, among other things, the components that he had used to make the devices, the fact that he had inserted ball bearings within the devices, and that, in the past, he had added glass and metal to such devices. The CS paid LAHINES $3,200 for the devices, and got out of the car. LAHINES was then placed under arrest. The Joint Terrorism Task Force Bomb Technicians took custody of the devices, one of which later tested positive for the presence of gunpowder, and secured LAHINES’ car.

Law enforcement officers searched LAHINES’ Connecticut residence from the evening of his arrest on May 19 through early the next morning, pursuant to a search warrant, and obtained, among other things, tubes, cord-like material, and caps similar in appearance to those used to construct the eight cylindrical devices that LAHINES sold to the CS, and a plastic container holding a powder whose appearance was consistent with that of gunpowder. A small jar of white powdery residue, also found in the residence, detonated in the course of being examined, causing injury to at least one law enforcement officer at the scene.

The indictment charges LAHINES with five offenses which carry the following potential penalties:

Count Charge Maximum Prison Term
1 Manufacture and dealing in explosive materials without a license 10 years
2 Transportation of explosive materials without a license 10 years
3 Distribution of explosive materials without a license 10 years
4 Manufacture and dealing in firearms without a license 5 years
5 Transportation of a destructive device in interstate commerce without a license 5 years

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge LEONARD B. SAND. LAHINES is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges in the indictment on June 2, 2011, at 10:00 a.m.

Mr. BHARARA praised the investigative efforts of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (“JTTF”) in New York and Connecticut, especially those JTTF members from the FBI and the New York City Police Department, the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, the Connecticut State Police Department, the FBI New Haven Field Office, the trial attorneys with the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut. He also thanked Kimberly Mertz, the FBI Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Field Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys JOHN P. CRONAN and SEAN S. BUCKLEY from the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Two Defendants Sentenced in “Extraordinarily Brutal” Warm Springs Murder Case

Jolena Warner and Antonio Brito Receive Lengthy Prison Sentences for 2008 Brutal Murder of Warm Springs Woman

PORTLAND, OR—On May 24, 2011, U.S. District Court Judge Anna J. Brown sentenced Jolena Warner and Antonio Brito, both from the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, for the murder of Lucinda Stwyer.

On November 30, 2010, Jolena Warner and Antonio Brito pled guilty to murder in the second degree and admitted that on September 24, 2008, they were responsible for killing Lucinda Stwyer willfully, deliberately, and with malice aforethought. Based upon their respective roles in the crime, Jolena Warner, age 30, was sentenced to 30 years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release and Antonio Brito, age 25, was sentenced to 18 years in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release.

In imposing the sentence Judge Brown noted that the victim suffered an “extraordinarily brutal death” that involved stabbing and strangulation. Following the murder, the defendants used gasoline to set the victim’s body on fire.

During the sentencing hearing Judge Brown also noted that “both of the defendants were active methamphetamine users before, leading up to, and in the course of committing this extraordinarily brutal crime” and that “until we, as a community—each of us—steps up and takes responsibility to stop this behavior that does lead to the loss of human life, by homicide, by overdose, by simply taking away the potential of so many people; until we—as a community, as a nation—bring this to an end, this devastation will continue.”

Both Lucinda Stwyer and Jolena Warner are enrolled members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

This case was investigated by the Warm Springs Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Kerin, the head of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Gang Unit.

$200,000 Meth Seizure At Highway 86 Checkpoint

Salton City, California – U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the Indio station arrested a smuggler yesterday attempting to transport approximately $200,000 worth of methamphetamine.

The incident occurred at around 9 a.m., when a Border Patrol canine team alerted to a silver-colored Ford Windstar at the Highway 86 Checkpoint near Salton City, Calif. The minivan was being driven by a 37-year-old female with a valid immigration document. Agents conducted a thorough search of the minivan during secondary inspection and discovered approximately six pounds of methamphetamine hidden throughout the woman’s groceries.

The driver, vehicle, and narcotics were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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 Escapee Captured Within Four Hours of Escape

Cleveland, OH – Federal prisoner Ruby Seagraves, age 34, escaped custody from the Bedford Heights City Jail at approximately 11:45 p.m. last night. Seagraves was being held on federal charges of heroin possession since January 2011. The U.S. Marshals Service was immediately notified and responded to the jail to begin the fugitive investigation. The Bedford Heights Jail staff worked with the U.S. Marshals Service to develop information that the fugitive was possibly in a vehicle traveling southbound on I-71. The U.S. Marshals Service then coordinated with their Task Force partners at the Ohio State Highway Patrol in an effort to locate the vehicle.

At approximately 3:00 a.m. this morning, the Ohio State Highway Patrol located the suspect vehicle and conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle in Morrow County, Ohio. The Ohio State Troopers located and arrested Seagraves in the vehicle. Seagraves was transported to the Morrow County Jail to be held until return to the Northern District of Ohio. Another female was also taken into custody during the traffic stop and is being held at the Morrow County Jail pending potential federal charges of aiding an escapee. The U.S. Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are jointly conducting the escape investigation.

Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Roberto Robinson stated, “The prompt and effective response of the Bedford Heights City Jail staff, Deputy U.S. Marshals, Task Force Officers and the Ohio State Troopers proved to be the key component in capturing this escapee so quickly.”

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 Task Force’s “Dangerous Dozen” fugitives can be viewed at http://www.usmarshals.gov/district/oh-n/fugitives/pdf/dangerous_dozen.pdf, which is updated monthly.

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.

CBP Officers at Progreso Port of Entry Arrest Man Wanted on Charges of Indecency, Sexual Contact with a Child

Progreso, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Progreso Port of Entry apprehended a man on an arrest warrant for indecency with a child from Hidalgo County.

On Friday, May 27, 2011 a CBP officer’s query during primary inspection at the Progreso International Bridge resulted in a referral of a male passenger in a vehicle, identified as Fernando Garcia, 32, a United States citizen who resides in Corpus Christi, for a secondary examination. A CBP officer’s checks of a national database revealed a possible active warrant for indecency with a child, sexual contact with a child. CBP officers confirmed the active warrant for Garcia with pending charges related to a case from the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office in Edinburg for indecency with a child and sexual contact with a child. CBP officers arrested Garcia and subsequently turned him over to the custody of the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. Garcia was transported to the Hidalgo County jail and will face pending charges.

“This wanted person was apprehended by CBP officers and will face pending charges of indecency with a child, thanks to the outstanding work being done by our officers on the frontline,” said Juan J. Contreras, acting CBP port director, Progreso. “I commend our officers for their work and outstanding dedication."

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.

Operation Repeat Offender

MILWAUKEE – Kevin A. Carr, United States Marshal for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced the completion of a four day sweep that targeted absconders in Milwaukee, Waukesha and Sheboygan Counties. ‘Operation Repeat Offender’ resulted in twenty seven arrests.

The operation focused on parole and probation violators that violated supervision and became fugitives. Offenders with lengthy criminal histories were prioritized. While some individuals with outstanding federal arrest warrants were also included, the focus was on individuals wanted by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.  Investigators began working leads in April of this year in preparation for the sweep that began on May 23rd.

The member agencies of the US Marshals Fugitive Task Force include the Milwaukee Police Department, Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department, Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department, Kenosha Police Department, Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Wisconsin Department of Corrections, and the Sheboygan Police Department.

The operation culminated over the last several days with the arrests of twenty seven individuals. The

U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force will continue to investigate the whereabouts of several absconders

that were targeted, but not apprehended during the sweep. Marshal Carr said that “The U.S. Marshals

Service is appreciative of the cooperation of the agencies involved in this operation to remove offenders from our streets who were granted the privilege of release from custody only to not comply with the conditions of their release.

Sur 13 Gang Member Sentenced to 35 Years

TAMPA, FL—U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that U.S. District Judge James S. Moody, Jr. today sentenced Basillio Alvardo (44, Wachula) to 35 years in federal prison for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and possession of a firearm and ammunition after having been convicted of a felony offense.

Alvardo was found guilty on February 23, 2011, following a trial. According to court documents, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) initially arrested Alvardo on June 15, 2010, following a traffic stop on Bee Ridge Road. An officer observed Alvardo's vehicle, a Mitsubishi Gallant, had excessive window tint. Alvardo was the driver and sole occupant of the car.

During the stop, an SCSO canine alerted to the presence of narcotics in the vehicle. Deputies searched the car and found more than 200 grams of methamphetamine, a loaded .38 caliber revolver, and a digital scale. Alvardo later admitted to being a member of the Sur 13 gang. He also admitted to having fired the revolver earlier on June 15, 2010, because he thought someone might be following him and trying to steal his drugs. Subsequent investigation revealed that Alvardo was a convicted felon.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Southwest Florida Violent Crimes Task Force; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher F. Murray.

Seeking Information on Bank Robbery in Rifle

The Rifle Police Department and the FBI are investigating a bank robbery.

American National Bank
429 Railroad Ave.
Rifle, Colorado 81650
05/27/2011, 10:21 a.m.

The suspect is described as a white male in his mid 20s, approximately 5’7” to 5’11” in height, with dark hair and a slender build. He was wearing a dark hat, sunglasses, a painter’s mask with a hoodie, and blue jeans.

The suspect was armed with a handgun and fled from the bank.

Bank robbery is punishable by a 20-year prison sentence for each offense and increases if a dangerous weapon is used in the commission of the crime.

The FBI continues to provide financial institutions with the best practices for security to make them less vulnerable to robberies.

If the suspect is spotted in the Rifle area, please contact the Rifle Police Department at 970-665-6516.

If anyone has any information on the bank robbery above, or any bank robbery, please call the FBI Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force at 303-629-7171; or, you can remain anonymous and earn up to two thousand dollars ($2,000) by callingCRIMESTOPPERS at 720-913-STOP (7867).

Pennsylvania Teen Sentenced for Cross Burning

PITTSBURGH—Michael Francis Bealonis, of Robinson, Pennsylvania, was sentenced yesterday in federal court to one year of imprisonment and three years of supervised release on charges related to the burning of a cross in November2009, the United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Senior Judge Alan N. Bloch imposed the sentence on Bealonis, 19, of Robinson, Indiana County, Pa.

According to information presented to the court, Bealonis ignited a cross on Nov. 14, 2009, at a residence in Robinson that was home to a family with minor children, one of whom is African-American and an adopted son of the family. Bealonis and his co-conspirators agreed to burn a cross in the backyard of the victim, used boards to construct a six-foot wooden cross, and doused the cross in accelerant and gasoline prior to burning it.

"This case underscores our commitment to prosecute crimes of hatred and intolerance," stated U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David J. Hickton.

The case was investigated by the FBI, together with the Pennsylvania State Police. Assistant United States Attorney Soo C. Song of the Western District of Pennsylvania and Trial Attorney Patricia A. Sumner from the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice prosecuted the case on behalf of the government.

Canadian Man Sentenced to 12 Years for Drug Trafficking

PITTSBURGH—A resident of Ontario, Canada, has been sentenced in federal court to 72 months’ imprisonment on his conviction of violating federal drug laws, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

United States District Judge Nora Barry Fischer imposed the sentence on Kieu Dang Cao, 41.

According to information presented to the court, beginning in 2004 and continuing through July 2008, a Canadian drug trafficking group began smuggling 300 pound loads of high-grade, hydroponic marijuana across the border into the United States, hidden within legitimate commercial cargo. The marijuana was destined for the Pittsburgh area and at least six cities in other states. It wholesaled for $2,000 per pound or more, with the retail or "street" value being several multiples of that.

Cao controlled the network that smuggled the marijuana across the U.S.-Canadian border, and worked with the Pittsburgh-area group that distributed the marijuana in Western Pennsylvania. Court-ordered wiretaps in the United States and Canada in 2008 produced recordings of Cao discussing drug shipments with his Pittsburgh buyers. Agents in Pittsburgh made cash seizures in excess of $1,000,000 in drug proceeds in this case, and their counterparts in Canada seized several million dollars in assets.

Fifteen individuals were indicted in this case—eight citizens of the United States and seven Canadians. Six of the Canadians have been extradited to the United States, while one Canadian remains a fugitive. Thirteen defendants have now entered pleas of guilty, and another is awaiting trial.

Assistant United States Attorney Gregory J. Nescott prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

U.S. Attorney Hickton commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration (Pittsburgh and Buffalo), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Cleveland), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Greater Toronto Area Drug Section, the Asian Organized Crime Task Force of Ontario, and the Canada Border Services Agency, along with the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, United States Postal Inspection Service, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the City of Pittsburgh Police for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Kieu Dang Cao.

Reward of $20,000 Offered in "Geezer Bandit" Investigation

Latest Robbery in Morro Bay, California, Friday, May 27, 2011

The FBI and local law enforcement are seeking the public's assistance to identify and arrest the individual dubbed the "Geezer Bandit." The Geezer Bandit is believed to be responsible for 14 bank robberies dating back to August 28, 2009. The first robbery in this series was in Santee, California, with the latest believed to have occurred on Friday, May 27, 2011, in Morro Bay, California.

On Friday, May 27, 2011, at approximately 3:15 p.m., the Heritage Oaks Bank, 310 Morro Bay Boulevard, Morro Bay, California, 93442, was robbed by an unknown male believed to be the Geezer Bandit. During this robbery, the Geezer Bandit robbed two tellers, threatening both of them with a small black revolver that he pointed at the tellers. The tellers complied with his demands and provided him with a sum of money. According to the Morro Bay Police Department, the Geezer Bandit may have left the area in a small cream colored two-door sedan.

Since August 2009, the FBI, San Diego Police Department (SDPD), San Diego Sheriff's Department, and other law enforcement agencies have sought the public's help in identifying the Geezer Bandit. A $20,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the Geezer Bandit.

Witnesses from previous robberies have described the Geezer Bandit as follows:

Sex: Male
Race: White
Age: 60 - 70 years old
Height: Approximately 5'10" to 6'0" tall
Weight: Approximately 190 to 200 lbs.
Build: Average
Clothing: Navy-colored blazer, navy or black-colored baseball cap, dark-colored pants, and possibly wearing a mask
Weapon: Revolver pistol that he carries in his left hand

Anyone with information concerning the Geezer Bandit is asked to contact the FBI at telephone number (858) 565-1255, Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477, or your local law enforcement agency. The Geezer Bandit is considered armed and dangerous.

The Geezer Bandit is believed to be responsible for robbing the following banks:

August 28, 2009. US Bank  9643 Mission Gorge Rd., Santee
September 12, 2009. San Diego National Bank 7877 Ivanhoe, La Jolla
October 9, 2009. US Bank 4627 Carmel Mountain Rd., San Diego
October 26, 2009. Bank of America 17008 Avenida de Acacias, Rancho Santa Fe
November 16, 2009. Bank of America 7680 Girard Ave., La Jolla
January 27, 2010.  San Diego National Bank 1075 Rosecrans, San Diego
April 20, 2010.  California Bank & Trust  140 Escondido Ave., Vista
April 30, 2010.  US Bank 1301 E. Vista Way, Vista
May 11, 2010.  Bank of America 9711 Mission Gorge Road, Santee
June 7, 2010. US Bank 14837 Pomerado Road, Poway
June 24, 2010.  Bank of America 31934 Highway 79 South, Temecula
November 12, 2010. Bank of America 4480 Coffee Road, Bakersfield
January 28, 2011. Bank of America 5892 Calle Real, Goleta, California
May 27, 2011. Heritage Oaks Bank  310 Morro Bay Boulevard, Morro Bay, California, 93442

Armed Takeover Robbers Known as “Greenhorn Bandits” Wanted for Three Robberies in 10 Days in Two Counties

At least three men known to law enforcement as the “Greenhorn Bandits” are being sought in connection with three bank robberies during the past two weeks in Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties, announced Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles, on behalf of the multiple agencies investigating the robberies, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Redlands Police Department, and the FBI.

Witnesses have described the Greenhorn Bandits as either black or Hispanic males between the ages of 25 to 33, and between five feet, eight inches to six feet tall. The bandits can be seen in bank surveillance photographs wearing bandanas and hooded sweatshirts.

During the three robberies, the bandits were seen using handguns and witnesses described being ordered to get on the ground and put their hands up while the suspects demanded cash.

An additional suspect was seen driving from one of the banks in what was described as a silver or light-colored Dodge Avenger. In a separate robbery, the suspects were seen leaving in a silver or light-colored Chevy Colorado truck.

The group was nicknamed the Greenhorn Bandits due to fact that witnesses described them as clumsy and inexperienced, which investigators note could add to the potential for violence. The suspects are considered armed and dangerous.

The Greenhorn Bandits are suspected in the following robberies:

5/26/2011 Community Bank  200 E. Citrus Ave  Redlands
5/23/2011  Cal Bank & Trust 530 W. Bonita Ave  San Dimas
5/16/2011  Cal Bank & Trust 1200 S. Diamond Bar Blvd Diamond Bar 

Anyone with information is urged to contact the FBI or dial 911. In the greater Los Angeles area, the FBI can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 888 CANT HIDE (888 226-8443).

Additional information and photographs of bank robbers currently being sought by the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office can be found by visiting www.labankrobbers.org.

Monday, May 30, 2011

CBP Officers at the Hidalgo/Reynosa International Bridge Seize $1 Million in Cocaine

Hidalgo, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Hidalgo/Reynosa International Bridge seized approximately 33.2 pounds of cocaine Wednesday afternoon. The estimated street value of the cocaine is $1,065,262.

On May 25, CBP officers working at the Hidalgo/Reynosa International Bridge came in contact with a northbound 2010 Mazda 6 sedan. The male driver was identified as a 32-year-old U.S. citizen from Houston, Texas. A CBP officer referred the vehicle and driver to secondary for further inspection. In secondary, officers seized 13 packages of alleged cocaine that were found within the vehicle’s rocker panel areas. CBP officers seized the vehicle as well.

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

“This is the second load of cocaine seized by our frontline officers in less than two days. A similar load was intercepted at the Pharr Bridge just days ago,” said Efrain Solis Jr. CBP Acting Port Director, Hidalgo/Pharr. “Our cadre of frontline officers continues working hard to secure our nation’s borders and to prevent this type of contraband from entering our country.”

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.

Reward of $10,000 for Information in Mosque Arson

Mosque Fire Ruled Arson

STOCKTON, Calif. – Special Agent in Charge Stephen C. Herkins of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), San Francisco Field Division, Police Chief Blair Ulring, Stockton Police Department, and interim Fire Chief David Rudat, Stockton Fire Department announced today that the Masjid Al Emaan Mosque, Reliance Real Estate Office, and Living Well Ministries and Christian Center fire was an act of arson and are offering a reward of $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

The fire which occurred in the early morning hours of April 23, 2011, destroyed the Masjid Al Emaan Mosque and caused severe damage to adjacent businesses. ATF joined the investigation early on with the Stockton Fire and Police Departments and provided investigative expertise to process the scene. There were no injuries and the fire damage was estimated at $400,000.

“Arson is a violent crime that often results in devastating loss of life and property,” stated Special Agent in Charge Stephen C. Herkins. “We are committed to continuing our investigation with our partners and I am confident that the citizens of Stockton will come forward with information that will help bring the culprit to justice.”

“The loss of property and the impact on the community are always hard to understand, but it is especially disturbing when the target of the crime is a House of Worship,” said Chief Blair Ulring of the Stockton Police Department.

All information will be treated confidentially and the callers will remain anonymous if requested. Anyone having information about the fire should immediately call ATF hotline 1-888-ATF-FIRE or (209) 244-6653.

ATF is the federal agency with jurisdiction for investigating fires and crimes of arson.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

ICE arrests 108 at Phoenix human smuggling drop house

PHOENIX - Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) discovered 108 illegal aliens at a drop house in west Phoenix Wednesday.

The agents, assigned to the ICE HSI Drop House Response Group in Phoenix, were drawn to the house by reports of multiple vehicles quickly entering and leaving the garage—activities that are consistent with human smuggling. The agents knocked on the front door and were given permission to enter. Inside, they discovered the aliens packed in every room of the four-bedroom house located on the 9000 block of West Vernon Avenue.

The aliens are from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. There were five teenage boys and 14 women found among the group.

Agents identified a number of suspected human smugglers at the scene and are interviewing those individuals and the other persons found inside the residence as part of an ongoing investigation into the broader smuggling scheme.

This was the largest drop house discovered in the Phoenix metropolitan area since March 2008 when 124 aliens were apprehended at a drop house in Peoria. It is the second largest drop house discovered since ICE began tracking them in January 2006.

ICE HSI established the Drop House Response Group in September 2009 to identify, target and dismantle the infrastructure used by human smuggling organizations operating in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

ICE turns over fugitive wanted for murder to Mexican authorities

EL PASO, Texas - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers on Tuesday deported an illegal alien wanted for homicide in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Ramiro Nieto Garcia, 35, was turned over to Mexican authorities on May 24 at the port of El Paso's Stanton Street Bridge. Nieto Garcia is wanted for a 2004 homicide in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Nieto Garcia was previously deported in February 1999 after ICE ERO officers encountered him at the Calipatria State Prison in California. He entered the country illegally in 1995. Since then he has been arrested several times and convicted twice on drug charges.

He attempted to unlawfully re-enter the country in 2007 and 2009. He was prosecuted for illegally re-entering the United States after having been deported, which is a felony. He was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.

On Sept. 30, 2010, the attorney general's office of Mexico requested ICE ERO notify its El Paso representative when Nieto Garcia was removed. Nieto Garcia was released from federal custody on May 17 and turned over to ICE ERO for removal.

This deportation is part of a bi-national agreement between ICE and Mexico's attorney general's office.

ICE has deported many other fugitives wanted for murder, and other crimes such as alien smuggling, kidnapping and rape.

"The cooperation between ICE and Mexican authorities is enhancing public safety on both sides of the border," said Adrian Macias, field office director of ICE ERO in El Paso. "It's also ensuring criminals, who flee from their home countries seeking a safe haven, are brought to justice."

Between Oct. 1, 2010 and April 30, ICE returned to their countries of origin more than 215,900 aliens, including 109,700 aliens with criminal convictions. Of those, 585 were convicted of homicide, 3,177 were convicted sex offenders, and 24,593 were convicted of serious drug offenses.

Defendants Convicted in Methamphetamine Case

GREENEVILLE, TN—Crisantos Nicholas Bautista, 30, and Enrique Mendoza-Barone, 23, of Asheville, North Carolina, both entered guilty pleas to methamphetamine conspiracy charges in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville, before the Honorable Ronnie Greer, U.S. District Judge, on May 23, 2011. Bautista has a sentencing hearing set for September 19, 2011, and Mendoza-Barone has a sentencing hearing set for October 3, 2011. Maria Antonia Manzanarez Nunez, 28, of Asheville, North Carolina, has also been convicted in this case on methamphetamine conspiracy charges and has a sentencing hearing set for August 1, 2011.

Plea agreements filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville state that Mendoza-Barone delivered methamphetamine for Bautista. On January 12, 2011, Bautista and Nunez distributed eight ounces of methamphetamine in Johnson City, Tennessee, to a confidential informant working for law enforcement. A 16-ounce methamphetamine buy was planned for February 3, 2011, to also take place in Johnson City with a confidential informant and Bautista. Law enforcement agents initiated and conducted surveillance on Bautista and Nunez as they left their residence in Asheville, North Carolina, and the 16 ounces of methamphetamine was found during a traffic stop of the vehicle in which Bautista and Nunez were traveling in Carter County, Tennessee, later that day. A subsequent search of their Asheville, North Carolina residence resulted in the seizure of another eight ounces of methamphetamine and a firearm.

The convictions are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Johnson City Office, assisted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement; the First Judicial Drug Task Force; the Elizabethton Police Department; the Erwin Police Department, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office; the Tennessee Highway Patrol; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Asheville, North Carolina Office; the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in Asheville; and the Asheville Police Department.

Some of the task force officers who worked on the investigation were provided funding by the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), a program funded by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. To report drug crimes or learn more about illegal drug diversion and the problem it is causing our country, visit http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Taylor.

United States Attorney Bill Killian said: “This case is an example of the multi-jurisdictional state, local, and federal cooperation among law enforcement agencies that results in the successful investigation, prosecution, and conviction of serious drug offenders in Northeast Tennessee. We continue to applaud the efforts of all the agencies involved, and commend Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Taylor for achieving the convictions.”

CBP Agents In Tucson Recover Drugs, Weapons, Vehicle In A Five Hour Period

Marijuana weighs more than 1.5 tons with estimated value of $2.5 million

Tucson, Ariz. – Tucson Sector Border Patrol Agents seized more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana, a handgun, an assault rifle and recovered a stolen vehicle in a five-hour period. The marijuana had an estimated value of more than $2.5 million.

Wednesday afternoon, Willcox Station Border Patrol agents attempted to perform a traffic stop on Interstate 10, near Mile Marker 299. The driver did not yield and eventually abandoned the vehicle to evade arrest. Subsequently, agents found 40 bundles of marijuana, a handgun, and three magazines containing .45-caliber ammunition. The narcotics weighed 929 pounds with an estimated value of $464,500. The vehicle and narcotics were seized and will be turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The handgun will be turned over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF­).

Earlier that evening, security officers at the Barry M. Goldwater Range requested Border Patrol assistance in the pursuit of an all terrain vehicle suspected of drug smuggling. An Ajo Station Border Patrol canine team responded and seized ten bundles of marijuana that were strapped to the ATV. In addition, a discarded AK-47 assault rifle with three full magazines was recovered from a nearby area. The narcotics weighed 516 pounds with an estimated value of $258,000. The narcotics were seized and will be turned over to the DEA. The ATV, firearm, and ammunition were turned over to the Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office.

On Wednesday evening, Ajo Station Border Patrol Agents seized 77 bundles of marijuana and recovered a stolen pickup truck after following its vehicle tracks to an area approximately five miles west of Federal Route 1. The truck was concealed with a tarp and contained approximately 1,757 pounds of marijuana. A records check indicated the truck was reported stolen out of Surprise, Ariz. The marijuana was transported to the Ajo Border Patrol Station and will be turned over to the DEA. The truck was turned over to the Tohono O’odham Police Department.

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

The Border Patrol welcomes assistance from the community. Report suspicious activity by calling toll free (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.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Silver City Woman Sentenced to 57 Months in Prison for Attempted Carjacking Conviction

LAS CRUCES—Today in federal court in Las Cruces, Stephanie Ann Landon, a 35-year-old resident of Silver City, New Mexico, was sentenced to a 57-month term of imprisonment for her attempted carjacking conviction. Landon will be on supervised release for three years after she completes her prison sentence. The court also ordered Landon to pay $2,270.81 in restitution to the victims of the carjacking.

United States Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales said Landon and her co-defendant Kevin Maurice Brooks, 48, of Detroit, Michigan, were charged with attempted carjacking based on an event that transpired on September 27, 2009, in Silver City. Landon and Brooks initially were charged in a criminal complaint filed in May 2010, and subsequently were charged in a three-count indictment charging both defendants with attempted carjacking and using a firearm during a crime of violence; and Brooks alone with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Landon has been in federal custody since October 6, 2010 when she entered a guilty to count one of the indictment.

According to the criminal complaint, at approximately 3:00 a.m. on September 27, 2009, when Landon and Brooks were living in a camper trailer next to a mobile home occupied by the victims of their unlawful conduct (a family consisting of a father, mother, and daughter), Brooks and Landon attempted to carjack the victims’ 1998 Ford Taurus. During an argument between Brooks and the victims, Brooks pointed a .40 caliber handgun at the father and ordered him to retrieve the keys to the Ford Taurus. As the father went to get the keys, Brooks fired a shot that missed him by a few feet. According to the complaint, the father retrieved the keys and gave them to Brooks, who went outside and handed them to Landon. Brooks then went back inside the mobile home and told the victims that he was going to kill them. The daughter was present during this exchange and begged Brooks not to kill her parents. Brooks then fired two more shots in the direction of the victims, missing them by less than a foot.

Landon returned to the mobile home after loading the car and told Brooks that it was time to leave. Brooks asked Landon what he should do, and Landon told him: “You do what you think is best.” According to the complaint, Landon looked at father and mother and said: “You know what, just shoot them,” and walked back outside. Brooks again told the victims he was going to kill them and prepared to shoot the father. Before Brooks could pull the trigger, however, Grant County Sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene in response to a neighbor’s report of “shots fired.” The deputies ordered everyone outside and arrested Brooks and Landon.

Brooks pled guilty to all three counts of the indictment on October 19, 2010, and on April 25, 2011, he was sentenced to a 191-month term of imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release. Brooks also was ordered to pay $2,270.81 in restitution to the victims of the attempted carjacking; Brooks and Landon are jointly and severally liable for the restitution. Brooks has been in federal custody since his arrest on June 10, 2011 and continues to serve his prison sentence.

During Brooks’ April 25, 2011 sentencing hearing, the court admonished him not to have contact with the victims, two of whom attended the hearing. Notwithstanding the court’s order, as Brooks was being escorted from the courtroom, Brooks turned to the victims, made a popping sound with his mouth and “flipped them off.” This conduct was witnessed by individuals present in the courtroom. On May 20, 2011, the court held an evidentiary hearing on the United States’ motion for an order to show cause why Brooks should not be held in indirect contempt of court for willfully disobeying the court’s order that he not have contact with the victims. The court found that Brooks had willfully disobeyed the order prohibiting him from contact with the victims and sentenced Brooks to an additional six months’ imprisonment, bringing his total sentence to 197 months’ imprisonment.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Las Cruces, the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Silver City Police Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mark A. Saltman and Michael D. Nammar.

Mescalero Apache Man Sentenced to 27 Months’ Imprisonment for Assaulting Common-Law Wife with Dangerous Weapons

Defendant Used Steel-Toed Boots to Fracture Victim’s Jaw

LAS CRUCES—Today in federal court in Las Cruces, Dennett Jerome Chee, 24, an enrolled member of the Mescalero Apache Nation, was sentenced to a 27-month term of imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release for his assault with dangerous weapons conviction. Chee also was ordered to pay $29,399.97 in restitution to the medical providers who provided medical care to the victim of his assault.

United States Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales said that Chee was convicted of assaulting his common-law wife (Victim) by kicking her in the jaw with steel-toed forestry boots in the couple’s home on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation on March 6, 2010. Chee was charged by criminal complaint on June 9, 2010, and entered a guilty plea to an information charging him with assault with dangerous weapons with intent to cause bodily harm on January 4, 2011. Chee has been in federal custody since his arrest on September 15, 2010.

According to the criminal complaint, an officer of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) learned of the assault on March 6, 2010, when he was contacted by medical staff at the Lincoln County Medical Center (LCMC) in Ruidoso, New Mexico, where the Victim was treated for her injuries, which included a compound jaw fracture. The Victim initially claimed to be assaulted by another woman at a party. This claim was not credited by medical personnel or the BIA officer who responded to the call (i) due to the force required to cause the compound jaw fracture, and (ii) because the officer was aware of a history of domestic violence within the Chee household.

After the BIA referred the matter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for further investigation, the Victim admitted that Chee kicked her in the face with his forestry boot during a physical altercation between the couple on the night of March 6, 2010. The Victim apparently lost consciousness after Chee kicked her and woke the next morning to find blood on her clothing and bed. The Victim did not realize her jaw was broken until she attempted to drink water and found that her mouth hurt and would not close properly. After she attempted to close her mouth and heard bones in her jaw “clicking” together, the Victim woke Chee and let him know that she required medical attention. Chee arranged for a neighbor to take the Victim to the LCMC where she was treated for compound jaw fracture and then was transferred to the University Medical Center in El Paso, Texas for a surgical repair of her jaw.

The complaint alleges that, before the neighbor took the Victim to the LCMC, Chee admonished the Victim to lie about the cause of her injuries by claiming that she got into a fight with another female at a party. The Victim agreed to do so because she was afraid of Chee. The Victim agreed to provide a truthful statement only after her family prevailed upon her to do so and despite repeated calls from Chee while she was hospitalized during which he threatened to harm her and her family if she revealed that he caused her injuries. The Victim’s statements regarding Chee’s culpability were supported by witnesses, including a witness who heard Chee say, “I think I broke my chick’s jaw.”

According to the complaint, Chee fled the area after assaulting the Victim and was arrested by the BIA on tribal charges on May 18, 2010. During his period of flight, Chee periodically visited his home and had contact with the Victim, who did not notify the authorities of his visits.

In his plea agreement, Chee admitted assaulting the Victim with dangerous weapons, which he identified as his steel-toed forestry boot. Chee also admitted that the Victim sustained serious bodily injury as a result of the assault.

The case was investigated by the FBI and BIA, Office of Justice Services, Mescalero Agency, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mick I.R. Gutierrez.

Crack Cocaine Kingpin Sentenced

Joseph H. Hogsett, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, announced that RAMONE MOCKABEE, 39, Indianapolis, Indiana was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker following his guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Judge Barker sentenced MOCKABEE to 360 months’ imprisonment. MOCKABEE was the leader of a crack cocaine trafficking organization that operated on the near northside of Indianapolis. MOCKABEE procured kilogram quantities of powder cocaine from different sources in Indianapolis and converted the powder cocaine into crack cocaine. MOCKABEE distributed the crack cocaine to his distributors from a “crack house” located at 781 West 25th Street, Indianapolis.

MOCKABEE and 19 other co-defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury in January 2010 on charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and related offenses. On January 20, 2010, the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched MOCKABEE’s residence on the 3900 block of Diamond Lane in Indianapolis and seized crack cocaine, a firearm, and $88,199 in currency. Federal authorities have since forfeited the currency seized from MOCKABEE and the residence located at 781 West 25th Street.

Three of MOCKABEE’s co-defendants proceeded to trial and were convicted by a federal jury on January 18, 2011. One of these defendants, Kenneth Jones, was sentenced to life imprisonment on May 19. The other two defendants, Devon Young and Elisha Drake, are awaiting sentencing.

The prosecution was the result of an investigation directed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force. Other law enforcement agencies that participated in the investigation included the Internal Revenue Service, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Speedway Police Department, and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

AUSA Bradley A. Blackington prosecuted the case for the government.

Former Cal State East Bay Professor Pleads Guilty to Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child

Joint Homeland Security/FBI/San Francisco Police Child Pornography Investigation Rescues an Infant from Sexual Abuse by a California Professor of Justice Studies

SAN FRANCISCO—Kenneth Martin Kyle pleaded guilty in federal court in San Francisco today to traveling across state lines for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts with a child younger than 12, United States Attorney MELINDA HAAG announced.

In pleading guilty, Mr. Kyle admitted that in August, 2009, he traveled from San Francisco to St. Louis, Missouri, for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts with an infant victim. At the time of his arrest, in March, 2010, Mr. Kyle was an assistant professor of justice studies at California State University East Bay. He came to the attention of the FBI when undercover agents discovered that he was sharing child pornography over a peer-to-peer file-sharing network. The FBI passed this information along to San Francisco police officers, who obtained a search warrant for Kyle's San Francisco apartment, where they found computers containing thousands of child pornography images and videos. Because Mr. Kyle was out of the country at the time, San Francisco police officers shared their information with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. When Kyle returned to the United States, customs officers found thousands of child pornography images on a laptop in his possession, and evidence on his mobile phone that suggested he might be involved in a sexual relationship with a minor victim in the St. Louis area.

Quick investigative work by Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Analisa Nogales identified an infant girl in St. Louis, Missouri, whom Mr. Kyle had repeatedly molested—with the participation of the baby's mother—over a six-month period during several visits from San Francisco. Agent Nogales immediately notified St. Louis police officers, who acted quickly to rescue the infant from an abusive home. Other evidence found on Kyle's computer by Homeland Security computer forensics analysts identified another sex offender in Missouri who was actively trading child pornography. He was prosecuted and convicted on state child pornography charges in Missouri. The infant victim's mother currently faces state and federal child molestation and child pornography charges in California and Missouri.

Mr. Kyle, 47, of San Francisco, was indicted by a federal grand jury on April 1, 2010. He was charged with aggravated sexual abuse of a child, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2241(c); production of child pornography, in violation 18 U.S.C. § 2251(c), distribution of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2), transportation of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(1), and possession of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4)(B). Under the plea agreement, Mr. Kyle pled guilty to count one of the indictment.

The sentencing of Mr. Kyle is scheduled for August 11, 2011 before Judge Jeffrey S. White in San Francisco. The maximum statutory penalty for the count of conviction is at least 30 years up to life in prison, a fine of $250,000, restitution to the victim, and registration as a sex offender. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Owen Martikan is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Rosario Calderon. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Analisa Nogales, along with Homeland Security Computer Forensics Analyst Gilbert Sacramento. This investigation also involved significant assistant by FBI special agents who first identified Kyle, San Francisco police officers who investigated the lead, St. Louis police officers who helped rescue the infant victim and apprehend her mother, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Missouri, and by Homeland Security agents in St. Louis, Missouri.

Further Information:
Case #: CR 10-245 JSW
A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney's Office's website at usdoj.gov/usao/can.