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Thursday, May 18, 2023

El Jefe: The Stalking of Chapo Guzman #ElChapo

El Jefe: The Stalking of Chapo Guzman.

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is the most legendary of Mexican narcos. As leader of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel, he was one of the most dangerous men in the world. His fearless climb to power, his brutality, his charm, his taste for luxury, his penchant for disguise, his multiple dramatic prison escapes, his unlikely encounter with Sean Penn―all of these burnished the image of the world's most famous outlaw.

He was finally captured by U.S. and Mexican law enforcement in a daring operation years in the making. Here is that entire epic story―from El Chapo's humble origins to his conviction in a Brooklyn courthouse. Longtime New York Times criminal justice reporter Alan Feuer's coverage of his trial was some of the most riveting journalism of recent years.

Feuer’s mastery of the complex facts of the case, his unparalleled access to confidential sources in law enforcement, and his powerful understanding of disturbing larger themes―what this one man's life says about drugs, walls, class, money, Mexico, and the United States―will ensure that El Jefe is the one book to read about “El Chapo.”

The definitive account of the rise and fall of the ultimate narco, "El Chapo," from New York Times reporter Alan Feuer, whose coverage of his trial went viral.

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

Mafia Nickname Traditions

In size, wealth and influence, today's Cosa Nostra doesn't match the Mafia of days gone by. However, there's one area in which modern Mafiosi are upholding a proud tradition of organized crime tradition nicknames.

Here are a few recent examples of Mafia nicknames and the inspiration for them, along with some names from the past, according to Mob historians and federal court records:

Mikey Y. - for Michael Yannotti, a convicted associate of the Gambino family. Easier than saying his last name.

Mikey Scars - for Michael DiLeonardo, an acknowledged Gambino family member and government witness. From scars he received in a childhood accident.

Vinny Gorgeous for Vincent Basciano, an acknowledged Bonanno family member. He owned a hair salon in the Bronx, N.Y.

Richie from the Bronx - for Richard Martino, a convicted Gambino family member. Apparently used to distinguish him from the many other Richies involved with the Mob.

Good Lookin' Sal - for Salvatore Vitale, an acknowledged Bonanno family member and government witness. Court records indicate he came up with the name himself and urged underlings to use it.

Louie Bagels - for Louis Daidone, a convicted member of the Lucchese family. He owned a bagel shop in Queens, N.Y.

Gaspipe - for Anthony Casso, an acknowledged Lucchese member and government witness. Referred to his tool of choice for his work as a Mob enforcer.

Tony Ducks - for Anthony Corallo, convicted member of the Lucchese family. He was known for his ability to duck subpoena servers.

Phil Lucky - for Philip Giaccone, a convicted Gambino family member. The name was unintentionally ironic; he was assassinated by a rival.

Kid Blast - for Albert Gallo, a convicted member of the Gambino family. He was known for enjoying parties.

Nicky Eye Glasses - for Nicholas Marangello, a convicted member of the Bonanno family. His glasses were very thick.

Jackie Nose - for John D'Amico, a convicted Gambino family member. Self-explanatory.

The Chin - for Vincent Gigante, a convicted member of the Genovese family. From "Cinzini," the nickname his mother gave him.

Patty the Pig - for Patrick DeFilippo, accused in a federal indictment of being a member of the Bonanno family. This was the pre-diet nickname for a Bronx man who used to weigh roughly 300 pounds.

Patty from the Bronx - DeFilippo's post-diet nickname.

Dapper Don - for John Gotti for his expensive clothes and personality in front of news cameras.

Teflon Don - later for John Gotti after three high-profile trials in the 1980s resulted in his acquittal, though it was later revealed that the trials had been tainted by jury tampering, juror misconduct and witness intimidation.

Junior - for John Gotti Jr, son of John Gotti. Also called Teflon Jr. & Deadlock Don after 3 trials on racketeering and kidnapping charges all ended in hung juries.

4 Former Commonwealth Edison Executives and Associates Found Guilty of Conspiring To Influence and Reward Former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan #ComEd4 #Corruption #TheChicagoWay

A federal jury has found four former Commonwealth Edison (“ComEd”) executives and associates guilty on all counts charged, including conspiring to influence and reward Mike Madigan, the former Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, in order to assist with the passage of legislation favorable to the electric utility company, in addition to multiple bribery and record falsification charges.

The jury found the following defendants guilty of all charges:

  • MICHAEL McCLAIN, 75, of Quincy, who worked as a lobbyist and consultant for ComEd after serving in the Illinois House of Representatives in the 1970s and early 1980s.
  • ANNE PRAMAGGIORE, 64, of Barrington, who served as CEO of ComEd from 2012 to 2018, and later served as a senior executive at an affiliate of Exelon Corp., of which ComEd was a subsidiary.
  • JOHN HOOKER, 74, of Chicago, who served as ComEd’s executive vice president of legislative and external affairs from 2009 to 2012, after which he worked as an external lobbyist for ComEd.
  • JAY DOHERTY, 69, of Chicago, who owned Jay D. Doherty & Associates, which performed consulting services for ComEd from approximately 2011 to 2019.

Sentencing dates have not been set. 

  • Count 1, charging the conspiracy, has a possible punishment of up to five years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. 
  • Counts 2, 5, 6, and 8, charging bribery, have a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. 
  • Counts 3, 4, 7, and 9, charging record falsification, have a possible punishment of up to 20 years in federal prison, a fine of $5,000,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin'

In The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin', author Bill Zehme presents a masterful assembly of the most personal details and gorgeous minutiae of Frank Sinatra's way of livingmatters of the heart and heartbreak, friendship and leadership, drinking and cavorting, brawling and wooing, tuxedos and snap-brimsall crafted from rare interviews with Sinatra himself as well as many other intimates, including Tony Bennett, Don Rickles, Angie Dickinson, Tony Curtis, and Robert Wagner, in addition to daughters Nancy and Tina Sinatra.

Capturing the timeless romance and classic style of the fifties and the loose sixties, The Way You Wear Your Hat is a stunning exploration of the Sinatra mystique.

Frank Sinatra is that rare American icon whose lifestyle has walked hand-in-hand with his art, the one impossible without the other. Like Elvis, he has seemed intent on living out the dreams his songs inspire, capturing the American public's imagination along the way.

Sinatra's irresistibly romantic sensibility is the subject of this effusive book by Zehme, coauthor of memoirs by Jay Leno and Regis Philbin. Sinatra, who is famous for his hatred of the press, allowed Zehme to ask him a number of questions about his philosophy of life, such as ""How stiff should a stiff drink be?"" and ""What is the most important thing to look for in a woman?"" Zehme sprinkles the questions and Sinatra's frank answers throughout chapters with titles like ""Broads,"" ""Pallies"" and ""Ring-a-Ding-Ding."" The result is a charming, entertaining look at Sinatra's life (which only incidentally involves music here) in the guise of a straight man's guide to living well.

The book begins in a rush, with a Sinatra epigram (""Let's start the action!""); the final chapters deal with family, heartbreak and aging. Zehme does here what other, music-centered biographies of Sinatra do not do: he suggests the pattern behind something as seemingly unpredictable as the events of a man's life. Zehme seems to say that, no matter what has befallen him, Sinatra has acted and reacted his way.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

High-Ranking Fugitive La Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) Leader Arrested on Terrorism and Racketeering Charges #MS13

Last week, in federal court in Houston, Jose Wilfredo Ayala-Alcantara, also known as “Indio de Hollywood,” a high-ranking leader of La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as “MS-13,” was transferred to the Eastern District of New York where he, together with 12 other high-ranking MS-13 leaders, are charged with directing the transnational criminal organization’s criminal activities in the United States, El Salvador, Mexico, and elsewhere over the past two decades. Ayala-Alcantara was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the United States Marshals Service (USMS) on April 18, 2023 when he arrived at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas. The day before, Ayala-Alcantara had been located by Mexican authorities, who determined that he was an El Salvadoran citizen with no valid status in Mexico. He was expelled from Mexico to El Salvador but arrested while transiting through the United States. Specifically, Ayala-Alcantara is charged with racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to provide or conceal material support to terrorists, and narco-terrorism conspiracy.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY); Donald Alway, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s Los Angeles Field Office; Ivan J. Arvelo, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (HSI); and John J. Durham, Director of Joint Task Force Vulcan (JTFV), announced Ayala-Alcantara’s arrest and initial appearance.

“Jose Wilfredo Ayala-Alcantara’s abominable MS-13 career has come full circle — having joined the transnational gang when he lived in the United States, he was deported to El Salvador where he ascended to a leadership position, he is returning to face justice in the Eastern District of New York where MS-13 has wrought so much violence in our communities,” stated United States Attorney Peace.

“As most Angelenos know too well, MS-13 is a criminal enterprise that has wreaked havoc on communities in the United States and beyond for decades,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Alway. “The FBI is dedicated to dismantling this scourge on society and will work with our local and international partners to do so, regardless of where they hide. There is no safe haven for criminals who do the bidding of transnational gangs.”

“As alleged, Jose Wilfredo Ayala-Alcantara has led a life of violence and crime, which propelled him to a leadership position within the Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13 street gang,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Arvelo. “Ayala-Alcantara is accused of leading MS-13, directing the gang’s vicious appetite for power through carnage and bloodshed. HSI New York will exhaust every resource at our disposal to ensure criminals like Ayala-Alcantara are located and brought to justice. I commend the unified efforts of Homeland Security Investigations New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Houston, and Mexico City, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation Los Angeles Field Division for locating and apprehending Ayala-Alcantara.”

“For over two decades, Ayala-Alcantara has been a zealous member and leader of MS-13, who directed violence and criminal activity across the United States, El Salvador, Mexico, and beyond,” said JTFV Director Durham. “This arrest marks an important step towards holding Ayala-Alcantara accountable for decades of terrorist and criminal acts that he and his MS-13 co-conspirators have carried out internationally.”

Ayala-Alcantara’s indictment was unsealed on February 23, 2023, following the arrests of three of his co-defendants, Vladimir Antonio Arevalo-Chavez, also known as “Vampiro de Monserrat Criminales,” Walter Yovani Hernandez-Rivera, also known as “Baxter de Park View” and “Bastard de Park View,” and Marlon Antonio Menjivar-Portillo, also known as “Rojo de Park View,” but he remained a fugitive until earlier this week. As set forth in court filings, Ayala-Alcantara and his co-defendants are part of MS-13’s command and control structure, consisting of the Ranfla Nacional, Ranfla en Las Calles, and Ranfla en Los Penales, and play significant leadership roles in the organization’s operations in El Salvador, Mexico, the United States, and throughout the world. In total, 27 of the highest-ranking leaders of MS-13 have been charged in this indictment and the related case of United States v. Henriquez, et al. A grand jury in the Eastern District of New York previously indicted 14 members of the Ranfla Nacional, who functioned as MS-13’s “Board of Directors.”

As further alleged, Ayala-Alcantara, who was one of the founding members of the Hollywood clique of the MS-13 in Los Angeles, California, and later rose to become one of the criminal organization’s highest-ranking leaders, and his co-defendants have engaged in numerous violent terrorist activities aimed at influencing the government of El Salvador (GOES). The defendants have used terrorist violence to obtain benefits and concessions from the GOES and to target GOES law enforcement and military officials. The defendants have actively engaged in public displays of violence to threaten and intimidate civilian populations, to obtain and control territory and to manipulate the electoral process in El Salvador. Several of these defendants have played prominent roles in MS-13’s past and current negotiations with the GOES.

Further, these defendants are alleged to have authorized and directed violence in the United States, Mexico, and elsewhere as part of a concerted effort to expand MS-13’s influence and territorial control. As the leaders of the MS-13 transnational criminal organization, these defendants were an integral part of the leadership chain responsible for supervising MS-13 cliques in the United States that engaged in extreme violence, including numerous murders, attempted murders, assaults, and related offenses. For example, this Office’s Long Island Criminal Division has prosecuted hundreds of MS-13 leaders, members, and associates for carrying out more than 65 murders in the Eastern District of New York between 2009 and the present.

Three co-defendants, Jorge Alexander De La Cruz, also known as “Cruger de Peatonales,” Juan Antonio Martinez-Abrego, also known as “Mary Jane de Hollywood,” and Francisco Javier Roman-Bardales, also known as “Veterano de Tribus,” remain at large. Members of the public with information concerning their whereabouts are strongly encouraged to contact the FBI’s toll-free MS-13 tip line, 1-866-STP-MS13 (1-866-787-6713), or HSI’s tip line at (866) 347-2423 or Together, FBI and HSI have offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the fugitives. Six other co-defendants, Edwin Ernesto Cedillos-Rodriguez, also known as “Renuente de Abriles Dangers,” Carlos Tiberio Ramirez-Valladares, also known as “Snayder de Pasadena,” Dany Fredy Ramos-Mejia, also known as “Cisco de Teclas,” Dany Balmore Romero-Garcia, also known as “Big Boy de Normandies,” “Dig Boy de Normandies,” and “D Boy de Normandies,” Ruben Antonio Rosa-Lovo, also known as “Chivo de Centrales,” and Miguel Angel Serrano-Medina, also known as “Cabro de Park View,” are believed to be in custody in El Salvador.

Since its creation in August 2019, JTFV has successfully implemented a whole-of-government approach to combatting MS-13, including increasing coordination and collaboration with foreign law enforcement partners, including El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. JTFV has also identified and targeted for prosecution the MS-13 programs, cliques and individuals that have had the most violent impact in the United States, and it has coordinated significant MS-13 indictments in U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country, including the first use of national security charges against MS-13 leaders.


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