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MAJURO – A fisherman in the Marshall Islands has netted 48 kilograms (106 pounds) of cocaine. The white powder, professionally wrapped and taped in plastic bags, has a street value of about $4 million, police said Friday. “We’re pretty sure we got all of it,” deputy police commissioner Robson Almen added, saying there was no indication the packs had broken out from a larger bundle. Almen said the fisherman called the police when he found the drugs last week while trawling off Kwajalein Atoll, 494 kilometers (307 miles) from the capital, Majuro. Marshall Islands law enforcement personnel have requested U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency assistance because the western Pacific territory does not have a laboratory capable of confirming the substance is cocaine. The remote archipelago, which is on the northern trans-Pacific cocaine route from South America to Asia, has a history of cocaine finds. Between 2002 and 2009, bundles of cocaine and boats with cocaine on board were found washed up on beaches around the Marshall Islands on at least six occasions. “This indicates a very substantial and long-established cocaine trade, and one on a massive scale,” according to a 2012 report in the Asia Pacific Defence Reporter, an Australia-based military and law enforcement-related website. Source
steven36 posted a topic in General NewsIt appeared to be a sweet, easy way to import large loads of cocaine from southern California to the highly-profitable and unquenchable market of Australia. Owen Hanson, the good-looking former University of Southern California athlete turned cocaine kingpin and leader of violent criminal enterprise ODOG, teamed up with Los Angeles-based fine chocolate importer/exporters Nathan and Andrew Dulley. Hanson and his California-based henchmen would drop off large batches of cocaine - usually in quantities of tens of kilograms or more - and the Dulley brothers would intermix and package the drugs with legitimate chocolate merchandise to disguise it from the shipper and Australian and US customs authorities. The Dulleys would use their established import/export routes, and when the shipments landed in Australia ODOG members would distribute the drugs. Just like Hanson, sentenced in a San Diego court last year to more than 21 years in prison, the Dulleys, Nathan, 36, and Andrew, 34, now face long jail stints in America's federal prison system. The brothers entered guilty pleas to international drug trafficking charges in San Diego on Thursday to become the latest affiliates of the ODOG drug, money laundering and illegal gambling syndicate to fall following a highly-successful joint covert operation by NSW Police, the NSW Crime Commission, FBI and US Drug Enforcement Administration. So far 22 other defendants charged in connection with the case have pleaded guilty in US courts. "Transnational racketeering organisations represent a clear and present danger to the safety and security of our communities," US Attorney for the southern district of California Adam Braverman said. "Those who assist such criminal enterprises by allowing the corruption of their otherwise legitimate businesses will be held accountable for the harm wrought on our communities." The gangster lifestyle that Hanson, a muscle-bound playboy and former member of the champion USC gridiron team, had enjoyed collapsed when New South Wales police, the FBI and other authorities swooped on him at a golf course near San Diego in 2015. The 36-year-old was attracted to the huge profits he could make by trafficking cocaine to eager buyers in Australia. He boasted how he could sell a kilogram of cocaine in Australia for US$175,000 (NZ$262,885) compared to US$20,000 in Los Angeles. His downfall began in 2011 with the discovery in a Sydney hotel room of a suitcase containing A$702,000 (NZ$760,305) cash. Authorities followed a trail that eventually led them to Hanson and ODOG. At Hanson's sentencing last year prosecutor Andrew Young described how Hanson fashioned himself as a mob boss. He used the handle "Don Corleone" on his encrypted Blackberry and insisted a restaurant he was a partner in had a "Wise Guy Room" adorned with mob photos. Professional gambler Robert Cipriani told the court how Hanson embarked on a terror campaign against him and his actress girlfriend Greice Santo in an attempt to recoup money Hanson demanded. Hanson had red paint splattered on Cipriani's mother's grave and sent DVDs to the couple showing actual beheadings of people with a chainsaw and knife. Source
steven36 posted a topic in General NewsA veteran Border Patrol agent handed over $650,000 to drug traffickers and picked up 90 pounds of cocaine during his late-night shifts at a remote border crossing in Southern Arizona, an FBI special agent wrote in a federal criminal complaint. Ramon Antonio Monreal Rodriguez, a 32-year-old Vail resident who worked at the Border Patrol’s station in Three Points, is accused of conspiring to smuggle cocaine in Tucson and on the Tohono O’odham Reservation, federal court records show. While on duty around 1:30 a.m. Sept. 18, Monreal picked up the cocaine from smugglers in a wash near the San Miguel Gate, a border crossing used by members of the Tohono O’odham Nation, and handed them the first payment of $334,000, the FBI special agent wrote. He kept the cocaine in his agency vehicle for the rest of his shift before turning it over to another smuggler. Four days later, he went back to the border while on duty and handed over $317,000 to the smugglers. Monreal’s payment was 6 pounds of narcotics and $66,000, the FBI special agent wrote. Monreal, a 10-year veteran of the agency, resigned Sept. 25 after he was arrested by the FBI in a separate case in which a federal grand jury indictment alleged he hired two men to help him unlawfully buy firearms in Tucson. Monreal was released from custody Oct. 23 on the firearms charge and arrested the same day on the drug-smuggling charge, court records show. At an Oct. 25 hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge D. Thomas Ferraro ordered Monreal, who sat at the defense table in an orange prison jumpsuit and shackles, to remain in custody. Ferraro said federal prosecutor Gordon Davenport had shown a “clear pattern of criminal conduct” by Monreal. He also pointed to threats Monreal allegedly made in recent months and his lack of candor about his financial assets and his property in Mexico. “I can’t trust somebody who’s not honest with the court,” Ferraro said. Elizabeth Lopez, an assistant federal public defender, had argued for Monreal’s release, saying he had no criminal record, no history of mental issues and no substance abuse problems. She also said he had extensive family ties, including four minor children, in Southern Arizona. ”Make her disappear” While criminal charges against Monreal are limited to firearms violations and drug smuggling, federal prosecutors also said Monreal tried to arrange the assault of a corrections officer at a federal prison in Southern Arizona who was dating his ex-girlfriend, what Monreal called “a little tune-up” in audio messages recovered by investigators, court records show. Monreal also asked a drug trafficker to hurt his ex-girlfriend, Davenport said at the Oct. 25 hearing. “I need you to make her disappear,” Monreal wrote in a Spanish-language text message to his main drug-trafficking contact, according to a sworn affidavit filed by a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The drug trafficker listed in court documents as “Compadre,” a term used in Mexico for a child’s godfather and as an informal greeting, cautioned Monreal to wait for a year, writing “Let things calm down and then we will do it.” Backpack of cash The first incident in the firearms investigation mentioned in court documents came when Cesar Enriquez Trejo, an alleged co-conspirator with Monreal, tried to buy two limited-edition Colt model Jaguar Azul .38 Super pistols for $10,000. Enriquez showed up at a Tucson firearms dealer with a “backpack of cash” to buy the pistols on behalf of Monreal, an ATF agent wrote in an affidavit. ATF agents tracked several firearms sales to Monreal through surveillance of Enriquez, firearms sales records, and video recordings at a convenience store where Monreal bought money orders that Enriquez signed, according to the affidavit. Monreal then used the money orders to buy the Colt pistols online and have Enriquez pick them up. When ATF agents searched Monreal’s house on Sept. 25, they found $62,000 in cash in a cardboard box in the master bedroom. The cash was wrapped in black construction paper next to an electronic money counter. Agents also searched Monreal’s personal vehicle and found $3,900 in cash in the center compartment. Late-night payments The week before the search of Monreal’s house, Compadre told Monreal to meet with a smuggler in Tucson on Sept. 17, the FBI special agent wrote in the complaint. The purpose of the meeting was to pick up the initial payment for a large load of narcotics. Monreal took sick leave and picked up $334,000 in Tucson. Compadre sent Monreal a photograph of a ledger with an expected payment of $390,000 for the cocaine, with Monreal set to receive $56,000 for transporting it. During his shift the next day, Sept. 18, Monreal drove to the San Miguel Gate around 1:30 a.m. and exchanged $334,000 for the 90 pounds of cocaine, the FBI special agent wrote. On Sept. 20, Monreal told Compadre he had received the second payment for the cocaine. The next day, Compadre told Monreal to break down $336,000 into $5,000 packets so it could be more easily smuggled while in Mexico. Compadre also told Monreal to pay $8,200 to another conspirator. During his Sept. 22 shift, Monreal made the second payment at the border of $317,000, the FBI special agent wrote. “Stay on track” At the Oct. 25 hearing, Albert Ortiz, a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General testified that Monreal told Compadre about the capabilities of Border Patrol cameras and radios. At one point, Monreal ran a test with Compadre to make sure Compadre’s radio transmissions wouldn’t be picked up by agents. When Monreal was driving to the San Miguel Gate with one of the bags of money he picked up in Tucson, he told Compadre he wanted to pull over suspicious vehicles he saw along the way. “Compadre told him to stay on track and don’t worry about those vehicles,” Ortiz said. Monreal and Compadre also discussed how to get a swing set into Mexico without paying customs duties, as part of Monreal’s plan to turn a property he owned in Mexico into a special events location, Ortiz said. In one colorful anecdote, Ortiz said he heard an audio message between Monreal and Compadre as Monreal was driving through a Border Patrol checkpoint. Coming from Monreal’s car stereo, Ortiz could hear a Mexican song about easily slipping by Border Patrol agents at those very same checkpoints. Monreal’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 6. Source