Thursday, December 18, 2014

Last Week's "Fugitive of the Week" Arrested!

Last week’s “Fugitive of the Week,” Joshua John Torres surrendered to the U.S. Probation Office in Manchester, NH. Torres was being sought on an outstanding federal arrest warrant for violation of his conditions of supervised release. Torres was on supervision after being convicted and sentenced for distribution of cocaine. Torres was last known to live in Manchester, where he surrendered to his probation officer.

As part of the U.S. Marshals fugitive investigation, Torres was featured just last week as the “Fugitive of the Week.” The “Fugitive of the Week” is broadcast on WTPL-FM, WMUR-TV, The Union Leader, The Nashua Telegraph, The Patch, Foster’s Daily Democrat and is prominently featured on the internet. The “Fugitive of the Week” continues to be very successful tool that has resulted in the location and arrest of numerous fugitives since its implementation in 2007.

Torres’ surrender was due in part to the extensive media coverage. After Torres’ surrender, he was picked up by members of the NH Joint Fugitive Task Force and transported to the U.S. District Courthouse in Concord, NH.

Sam Giancana Memorabilia Subject of Courtroom Fight in Las Vegas

A defunct Mafia museum claims an auction house sold dozens of articles once owned by Sam Giancana, though the museum owns them - having bought them from the late Chicago boss's daughter.

The Mafia Collection LLC sued Munari Auctions and William Woolery on Monday, in Clark County Court. The Mafia Collection claims that it warned Munari that it owned the Giancana collection, but Munari auctioned them off on Nov. 22 anyway. It's a rather tangled tale.

The Mafia Collection claims in the lawsuit that it paid $23,300 to buy the artifacts from Giancana's daughter, Antoinette McDonnell, in 2009, and that has the bill of sale. It bought the articles for the now-closed Las Vegas Mob Experience, which featured artifacts from many prominent gangsters. The artifacts include photographs, court documents, furnishings and personal effects once owned by Giancana and passed on to his daughter.

McDonnell initially was a paid consultant for the Las Vegas Mob Experience, which was owned and operated by Murder Inc., according to a Las Vegas Review article on a previous lawsuit 2011.

The Las Vegas Mob Experience was an interactive exhibit housed in the Tropicana Las Vegas hotel and casino from 2011 to 2013. It featured artifacts from Giancana, Bugsy Siegel, Anthony Spilotro and others.

Before that exhibit opened, McDonnell sued Murder Inc. and the Mafia Collection in Clark County Court. McDonnell claimed the Mafia Collection never paid her for Giancana's items and that the selling price was too low.

In the present lawsuit, the Mafia Collection calls that lawsuit "frivolous," and says that a judge ruled against McDonnell in July this year and ordered her not to get rid of the artifacts in question. But McDonnell turned over the stuff to Munari Auctions, according to the lawsuit, and Munari sold some or all of them in November.

The Sam Giancana Estate Auction featured 152 "lots," including photos, documents, furniture and police and coroner reports about the mobster's 1975 murder in his Chicago home, according to the auction catalog.

The Mafia Collection claims that Munari's auction was "reckless and done in circumvention of the law, court order and the directive of the artifacts' owner" and done "for the gain and profit of both McDonnell and itself."

Some or all of the artifacts are housed and controlled by McDonnell's "appointed agent in fact," William R. Woolery, according to the lawsuit.

Mafia Collection seeks declaratory judgment that it owns the articles, possession of it, and damages for conversion.

Giancana was boss of the Chicago mob from 1957 to 1966. His alleged ties to President John F. Kennedy and the CIA are the stuff of legend. The CIA allegedly sought his help to assassinate Fidel Castro. Giancana was shot in the head in his Chicago home in 1975. He was 67.

Thanks to Mike Heuer.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

MS-13 Gang Leader, Carlos "Catracho" Valdez, Pleads Guilty to Murder Conspiracy

A Hudson County, N.J., man admitted to trying to kill a rival gang member, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Carlos Valdez, a/k/a “Catracho,” 27, was indicted in July 2014 with numerous other top-ranking members of the international criminal street gang, Mara Salvatrucha (also known as “MS” or “MS-13”), for racketeering crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder. Valdez, who admitted to being the leader of an MS-13 set, or “clique,” operating in Hudson County, known as “Hudson Locotes Salvatruchas,” pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark federal court to Count One of the indictment, engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, and Count Five, conspiring to possess firearms in furtherance of a crime of violence.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

In autumn 2013, Valdez was recruited by Joel Antonio Cortez, a/k/a “Pee Wee,” a high-ranking member of Mara Salvatrucha’s national leadership, to join the “national program,” a scheme to consolidate the gang’s cliques under a single, nationwide organization devoted to violence, extortion, and drug trafficking. At the time, Cortez was incarcerated in a California state prison and used a contraband cellular phone to remain in contact with Mara Salvatrucha members on the East Coast. Cortez served as a top deputy for Jose Juan Rodriguez-Juarez, a/k/a “Sacerdote,” the leader of Mara Salvatrucha in the United States and the primary organizer of the new “national program.”

In November 2013, Valdez and other gang leaders in northern New Jersey hatched a plot to murder two brothers in Hudson County, New Jersey. Before carrying out the plot, Valdez and others sought authorization from high-ranking members in the gang’s national and international leadership, including Cortez and incarcerated members of the gang in El Salvador. Law enforcement learned of the murder plot during the course of its investigation and arrested certain gang members, including Valdez, before it could be completed.

Both of the charges to which Valdez pleaded guilty carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for March 16, 2015.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Stop Government Corruption Now Hotline Established

Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Vincent B. Lisi of the FBI’s Boston Division announced a new initiative designed to solicit the public’s help in identifying and targeting public corruption.

The initiative includes the launch of a new, toll-free tip line number, 1-844-NOBRIBE (1-844-662-7423), and a billboard campaign called “Stop Corruption Now.” The campaign will focus on targeting fraud and corruption at all levels of government.

Public Corruption Hotline


Public corruption remains a top criminal priority for the FBI. It’s a breach of the public’s trust by government officials—whether elected, appointed or under contract—who use their public office for personal gain. It is a violation of federal law for any federal, state, or local government official to receive anything of value in exchange for or because of any official act. Due to the secretive nature of bribes, such crimes are often difficult to detect and even more difficult to prove without the assistance of concerned citizens. As a result, the FBI has set up a public corruption hotline for reporting tips at 1-844-NOBRIBE. Online tips can be submitted at tips.fbi.gov.

Various types of corruption include bribery, extortion, embezzlement, racketeering, kickbacks, and money laundering, as well as wire, mail, bank, and tax fraud. The public is encouraged to review these corruption questionnaires for contract corruption, economic stimulus, and government fraud (available at the conclusion of this release). If the answer is yes to any of these questions, individuals are asked to contact the FBI.

One area of growing concern over the last few years is the expansion of gaming which may also increase public corruption, financial, and organized crime.

“Concerned citizens are the FBI’s biggest asset when it comes to exposing people who are abusing the public’s trust and misusing taxpayer money to line their own pockets. This tip line is designed to be an easy way for those with knowledge of schemes to report those schemes,” said SAC Lisi.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Kidnapping and Murder of DEA Agent Terry Watson Results in Decades in Prison for 3 Colombian Nationals

Three Colombian nationals were sentenced to decades in prison in the Eastern District of Virginia for their roles in the kidnapping and murder of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent James “Terry” Watson in Bogotá, Colombia, on June 20, 2013.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart and Bill A. Miller, Director, U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service made the announcement.

“Throughout his law enforcement career, Special Agent Watson’s service was both selfless and courageous,” said Attorney General Holder. “With this action, we continue our work to hold accountable those who were responsible for his murder. In the weeks ahead, we expect to take additional steps to bring the perpetrators to justice. And in all that we do, our nation’s Department of Justice will continue to honor Special Agent Watson’s sacrifice, to safeguard the nation he served, and to protect the values and principles he defended all his life.”

“Terry Watson was a courageous and accomplished DEA Special Agent who we will forever honor and remember for his dedicated career and sacrifice,” said DEA Administrator Leonhart. “DEA is grateful that those who carried out this reprehensible and senseless act are now facing U.S. justice. We will honor his life and career by continuing our global crusade with our domestic and international partners to defeat violent drug trafficking networks.”

Héctor Leonardo López, 34, Julio Estiven Gracia Ramírez, 32, and Andrés Álvaro Oviedo García, 22, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to kidnap and aiding and abetting the murder of an internationally protected person. Today, U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee of the Eastern District of Virginia sentenced López to 25 years, Gracia Ramírez to 27 years, and Oviedo García to 20 years.

In addition, Wilson Daniel Peralta-Bocachica, 31, pleaded guilty today to obstruction of justice and Edwin Gerardo Figueroa Sepúlveda, 39, pleaded guilty on Dec. 9, 2014, to conspiracy to kidnap and aiding and abetting the murder of an internationally protected person. Sentencing hearings for Peralta-Bocachica and Figueroa Sepúlveda are scheduled for Feb. 18, 2015.

In the statements of facts filed with their plea agreements, López, Gracia Ramírez, Oviedo García, and Figueroa Sepúlveda admitted that they conspired to conduct “paseo milionarios” or “millionaire’s rides” in which victims were lured into taxi cabs, kidnapped and then robbed. They admitted that on the evening of June 20, 2013, they were part of a robbery crew that targeted Special Agent Watson. Gracia Ramírez picked up Special Agent Watson in his taxi, while López drove a second taxi carrying the assailants. Figueroa Sepúlveda entered the taxi carrying Special Agent Watson and shocked him with a stun gun while another defendant stabbed him. Special Agent Watson was able to escape from the taxi, but he later collapsed and died from his injuries. Oviedo García was part of the robbery crew, but shortly before Special Agent Watson was targeted, a third taxi encountered mechanical issues and Oviedo García stayed with the disabled taxi. Peralta-Bocachica admitted that in the days following the kidnapping and murder, he washed the taxi in which Special Agent Watson was stabbed, removing blood from the back seat then discarding the cleaning rags, before turning the taxi over to the Colombian National Police.

Two other defendants, Omar Fabián Valdes Gualtero, 27, and Édgar Javier Bello Murillo, 27, are charged with second degree murder, kidnapping and conspiracy to kidnap in connection with their alleged involvement in the murder. Trial is set for Jan. 12, 2015.

Secrets of the Herrin Gangs By Ralph Johnson & Jon Musgrave

Secrets of the Herrin Gangs tells the account of Ralph Johnson, an insider with the Shelton Gang who also worked with Charlie Birger at one time.

Originally published in newspapers across the country at the end of the Gang War during the Bloody Williamson years in January 1927, all 10 segments are compiled now for the first time in one volume.

In addition, Jon Musgrave reveals the mystery of Johnson’s true identity and his life of crime in the second half of the book.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Disabled Veteran Defends House from Thieves with His .45

Sixty-eight-year-old disabled veteran Joseph Sapienza was at home in Gastonia, N.C. when he heard a suspicious noise at his front door. Sapienza retrieved a .45-caliber pistol, placed it in a holster attached to a walker he uses to get around, and opened the door. There were two masked men on his porch attempting to get inside. Recalling what happened next, Sapienza told a reporter, “When they saw the .45, one ran one way up the street, and the other went the other way.”

Sapienza believes he may have been targeted by the criminals because of his disability.

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