Spanish Police Arrest 29 In Drug Bust

first_imgBy Dialogo August 03, 2009 Spanish police arrested 29 people, the majority of them members of one clan, for allegedly distributing cocaine in the southern city of Jerez de la Frontera, police spokesmen said. The gang obtained the cocaine in Madrid from several Colombians, who were also arrested in the operation. Two other suspects have been charged with covering up the gang’s activities, police said. More than 100 police officers took part in “Operation Corralito,” conducting 16 searches, 10 of which were simultaneous. Officers seized more than three kilos of cocaine, 11 vehicles, two pistols, more than 20,000 euros (about $28,000) in cash and a large quantity of jewelry. The first phase of the operation was carried out in early July, when investigators found out that the gang had shipped two kilos of cocaine from Madrid. Police learned that two Colombians arrived in Jerez from Madrid for a meeting with buyers on July 7. All the people involved in the deal were arrested when the drugs changed hands. Drugs were found in a vehicle belonging to one of the Colombians, leading to the arrests of nine suspects, police said. The 16 searches were conducted in the second phase of the operation, resulting in the dismantling of three sites used to distribute small amounts of cocaine, police said. Officers arrested 20 suspects in the second phase of the operation, including the gang’s leaders, and seized more property.last_img read more

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Blunt Leftist Ex-Rebel Sworn In As Uruguay President

first_imgBy Dialogo March 03, 2010 Jose Mujica, who decades ago tried to topple the “bourgeois state” in an armed conflict and went to prison for it, was sworn in Monday as Uruguay’s new president. Mujica is locally beloved for being a straight-talker, and appears now able to win over business interests and even political foes. A mellower but certainly fiesty senior citizen, the 74-year-old grows flowers at his ranch and calls himself a pan-theist. Seen as colorful and charismatic compared to respected outgoing president Tabare Vazquez, political opponents have been enthusiastic about what Mujica says is his willingness for dialogue. Vazquez was the country’s first elected leftist leader, and Mujica is now its second. Mujica has become the second former Latin American rebel to be elected president recently, after Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, an ex-Sandinista. He has said he models himself on popular Brazilian president Lula, a left-leaning former labor activist who is known for a centrist approach. The new Uruguay president was co-founder of the radical leftist Tupamaros movement back in the 1960s. Mujica has said he will not move to the presidential palace, and will instead stay at his small ranch in Rincon del Cerro. He also is putting most of his salary into a fund for housing Uruguayans who have no home.last_img read more

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Platini, Cruyff, Van Basten, Maldini, The Kings Without A World Cup Crown

first_imgBy Dialogo May 19, 2010 Frenchman Michel Platini, Dutchmen Johan Cruyff and Marco Van Basten, and Italian Paolo Maldini are four great figures of soccer history who retired without having experienced the feeling of hoisting the World Cup, the sport’s most prestigious trophy. The cruelest case may be that of Johan Cruyff, the leader of that Netherlands Orange Machine that amazed spectators at the 1974 World Cup in Germany and that permitted itself the luxury of beating Brazil in the second round (2-0), but that fell to the host team in the final (2-1). The former player for Ajax and Barcelona chose not to participate in the Argentine World Cup in 1978, where his team again finished second. “Cruyff was a better player, but I was a world champion,” German Franz Beckenbauer said in reference to comments about the injustice of his German team’s 1974 championship victory over the great Netherlands team at that World Cup. Michel Platini and Marco Van Basten also never won a World Cup, but at least they could console themselves by winning the Euro Cup with their teams in 1984 and 1988, respectively. Platini led a fantastic French team that managed to reach the World Cup semifinals in Spain in 1982 and in Mexico in 1986, but that ran into Germany in the semifinals on both occasions. The first time, in Seville, France was winning 3-1 at halftime, but Germany ending up tying the match and then winning on penalty kicks. “If the World Cup had been played every year between 1982 and 1986, France would have won two or three times,” Michel Platini affirmed afterward. At least France won the 1984 Euro Cup in Paris, defeating Spain in the final (2-0), with goals by Platini and Bruno Bellone. The French star scored nine times in that tournament. Van Basten, for his part, won the 1988 Euro Cup in Germany, scoring a total of five goals, including a hat trick against England, the goal that won the semifinal match against the host team, and a goal in the final against the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, at the 1990 World Cup in Italy his team fell to West Germany, the ultimate winner, in the second round. Paolo Maldini, for his part, played for Italy in four World Cups between 1990 and 2002, without ever winning the championship, despite reaching the final in the United States in 1994, losing to Brazil on penalty kicks, and the semifinals in Italy in 1990, where the host team was eliminated by Diego Maradona’s Argentina, also on penalty kicks. In 1998, Italy was eliminated by their French hosts, also on penalty kicks, in the quarterfinals, while in 2002 the team fell to South Korea in the round of sixteen, in a controversial match refereed by Ecuadorean Byron Moreno. Other great players who never won the championship were Spanish goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora, who was helpless against Benito Mussolini’s Italy in 1934, Soviet player Lev Yashin, Hungarian Ferenc Puskas, whose team lost to West Germany in the final in 1954, and Brazilians Zico and Sócrates in 1982. Spaniards Paco Gento, in 1962, and Luis Suárez, in 1966, were also unable to bring home the championship. Argentine Spaniard Alfredo Di Stéfano, who never even got to play in a World Cup, deserves a chapter of his own. Di Stéfano, who was playing for Real Madrid at the time, was going to compete for the Chilean World Cup in 1962, but an injury before the tournament prevented him from competing in any of the matches.last_img read more

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Eighteen Members of Los Zetas Arrested

first_imgBy Dialogo December 12, 2011 Mexican military personnel arrested 18 members of a cell of the Los Zetas cartel who had 1,100 hits of cocaine and other drugs in their possession in northern Mexico, the government announced. “Those arrested said that they belonged to the Los Zetas criminal group,” dedicated to the distribution of drugs in the municipality of Juárez, Nuevo León, the 7th Military Zone announced in a statement. At the time of the arrests, 500 hits of marijuana, weapons, cars, communications equipment, and cash were confiscated, in addition to cocaine. Los Zetas are responsible, among other crimes, for burning down a Monterrey casino on August 26, 2011, because the owner of the locale refused to pay extortion money.last_img read more

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Colombian President Promises to Continue Combating Armed Groups

first_img In Costa Rica on June 15, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos promised to continue combating armed groups in his country without respite, despite the fact that Congress has passed a constitutional reform that could enable future peace negotiations. “This legal framework for transitional justice (that’s the appropriate name) doesn’t change anything,” Santos responded to whether the initiative, passed by the Colombian Congress on the afternoon of June 14, is a step forward in the peace process. “The moment we see a true desire by the opposite side to end the armed conflict,” talks could begin, Santos indicated during a brief official visit to Costa Rica. In Costa Rica, Santos launched negotiations for a bilateral free-trade agreement, together with President Laura Chinchilla. “Meanwhile, we will continue with the same forcefulness with which we’ve been operating against those illegal armed groups that have turned to terrorism in order to achieve their objectives,” he promised. The initiative, which his administration promoted, introduces the possibility of granting benefits such as suspending [jail] sentences for guerrilla leaders in the event that they demobilize, and proposes measures for reparations and access to the truth for victims. President Chinchilla praised the initiative, and when she was asked whether her country would support a dialogue mechanism, Santos intervened and judged that “that’s a problem for Colombians, which we Colombians have to resolve.” By Dialogo June 20, 2012last_img read more

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Guatemalan President Requests Extra Efforts against Drug Trafficking

first_imgBy Dialogo November 07, 2012 Guatemalan President Otto Pérez, will request further efforts from the international community to fight against drug trafficking and organized crime, which has turned Central America into one of the most violent areas in the world. Pérez stated that he will submit the request next January, at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland. “It is the most important economic forum in the world, where we will have the chance to talk about this subject (…) We need to make an effort to find better ways to counter drug trafficking, not only in Central America, but globally,” he told the press. “We must be clever; we must be capable of evaluating both what has not worked in 40 years and what may work,” he added. At several forums, including the United Nations, Pérez has criticized the United States’ traditional strategy for countering drug trafficking, as being unsuccessful, and for generating a wave of violence throughout Central America. In fact, Central American countries have become the bridge and warehouse of drug cartels that transport drugs to the United States from South America. Washington assured that 90% of the drugs arriving to their territory come through the Central American region. In February, the Guatemalan head of state proposed decriminalizing drug trafficking, trade and consumption. In October, Pérez urged the UN to “seek new paradigms to fight against drug trafficking, to unify efforts to fight against transnational crime.” Recently, Mexico, Colombia, and Guatemala submitted a formal letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, requesting the organization to lead an “urgent” revision of the global strategy against drugs.last_img read more

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Colombian Drug Money Laundering Network Dismantled in Spain

first_imgBy Dialogo January 03, 2013 According to the Spanish police, “the head of the organization was receiving substantial sums of money from drug traffickers that operated in Spain, so that the profits could be sent to Colombia.” The investigation started in 2010, stemming from an operation against another network that had laundered over 200 million drug trafficking euro, and was related to the dismantled one. As a result of the operation, 49 people were arrested, mainly in Madrid, but also in Barcelona (northeast) and Albacete (east), including a Colombian national who headed the network. The network used people that offered their names voluntarily for payment, as well as data provided by customers without their approval, in addition to fictitious identities. “These shops ‘camouflaged’ the laundering operations using wire transfers sent by foreigners residing in Spain to their countries of origin,” the police explained. center_img The network operated through a network of call centers in a number of Spanish cities, from where profits were sent as remittances, laundering up to 50,000 euros daily (about $66,000). Spanish “National Police agents have dismantled a network of shops that laundered over 30 million drug trafficking euros,” or almost 40 million dollars, the authorities informed in a statement. Spain’s police dismantled a money laundering network which laundered millions of dollars, camouflaged as wire tabs, for Colombian drug traffickers, the law enforcement institution announced on December 27. “In addition to cash, he also got information about the people receiving the wires and the value of each,” said the statement. last_img read more

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Eleven Soldiers Killed in ELN Attack

first_img Eleven Colombian Soldiers were killed and six other injured in a bombing perpetrated by National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas, in a rural area of Norte de Santander department, located in the north east of Colombia on the border with Venezuela, authorities reported on May 22. “The Soldiers were attacked on Tuesday [May 21] evening in an indiscriminate way with improvised explosive devices (IED),” a statement said, adding that the “six injured officers were taken to hospitals in the area.” On April 14, in La Esmeralda village, in Arauca department (on the border with Venezuela), three soldiers died in an attack attributed to the ELN, an insurgency that in recent years has focused its attacks on the oil sector. The rebel organization has stated its willingness to join the peace talks that are being conducted since last year by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Santos’ government in Cuba. The Colombian president has manifested that the ELN’s eventual inclusion in the peace negotiations would be subject to the liberation of a Canadian engineer, who is being held hostage by this group since January. Moreover, the guerrillas have demanded the Braewal Mining multinational company to cease its mining activity in the northern area of the country, in order to release the Canadian engineer Jernoc Wobert, age 47. The Colombian armed conflict, in which paramilitary and drug trafficking organizations have also participated, has left over 3.7 million displaced people, 600,000 dead, and 15,000 missing persons in over 50 years. By Dialogo May 24, 2013last_img read more

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UK, Coast Guard Team Interdict Drugs in Caribbean as Part of Operation Martillo

first_imgBy Dialogo September 18, 2013 The United Kingdom Royal Fleet Auxiliary Naval Support Ship RFA Wave Knight and an onboard U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment interdicted a fishing vessel carrying a shipment of drugs in the Caribbean on September 9. As part of Operation Martillo, the Wave Knight was patrolling in the Central Caribbean to detect and interdict illicit traffickers. When the ship approached and hailed the suspect fishing vessel, the crew was seen jettisoning several packages overboard. The interdiction led to the detention of seven suspects and the seizure of 55 bales of marijuana worth an estimated wholesale value of more than $5.5 million. Wave Knight launched a boat with the Coast Guard Law Enforcement team to investigate and recover the jettisoned bales. The Coast Guard team then boarded the vessel and apprehended the suspects. The fishing vessel was later turned over to Jamaican officials.last_img read more

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Guatemalan gangs use violence and fraud to steal homes and properties

first_img False contracts Los Topacio A security success Eight of the suspects are either attorneys or notaries, said Claudia Paz y Paz, the Attorney General in the MP’s office. These suspects allegedly defrauded victims not by threatening them with guns, but by tricking them with fake paperwork, authorities said. For example, gang members used invalid contracts with forged signatures, counterfeit tax stamps, and fake identifications to obtain some properties, Hernández said. Between January and November 2013, four gangs which engage in property theft are suspected of killing 114 people who resisted selling their home or land, Property Registrar (RGP) Anabella de León, reported. Criminals use “violence, intimidation, and threats to steal property,” she said. Gang members have wasted no time in turning a profit on the properties, Paz y Paz said. “This criminal organization sold the properties at low prices and performed various transactions in a single day,” the prosecutor said. One of the Los Topacio operatives arrested Dec. 5, Rosario Floridalma Mijangos García, confessed to security officials that the gang sold stolen properties for 10 percent of their value. Lawyers who are part of the gang were paid about $4,000 (USD) to provide false sales contracts, the gang member said. . Guatemalan police have made a number of significant arrests of real estate scammers. In August 2013, police officers coordinated by prosecutors of the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP) arrested 13 people, including three minors, in separate operations in Villa Nueva, San Miguel and Amatitlán. The 13 were suspected of stealing homes and vehicles. Security agents confiscated four firearms from the suspect. In May 2012, security forces in n Zone 14 arrested Liliana Rodríguez Paiz, the leader of a gang which steals property and sells drugs at the retail level. Rodríguez is also known as “La Tarántula;” she was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison. Organized crime groups “should be afraid” of the Public Prosecutor’s office, Paz y Paz said. By Dialogo December 23, 2013 Los Topacio gang has been operating since 2000, prosecutors said. The gang has nearly 50 members, authorities said. Seven of the 17 suspects who were captured on Dec. 5 have been previously arrested, authorities said. Members of the gang are suspected of carrying out the killing of a labor judge, Flor de María Gil Ovalles, and her son Héctor Homer Juárez Gil, according to Paz y Paz. Organized crime operatives shot the lawyer to death in August 2009, in a sector of Zone 9, south of the Guatemalan capital, after the judge denounced the theft of four buildings. Los Topacio operates primarily in Guatemala City, Sacatepéquez and Izabal. Security forces have now arrested about 40 percent of its members, but the gang remains active, prosecutors said. Security forces captured the longtime leader of Los Topacio, Mynor Giovanni Álvarez Jacobo, in February 2011. He is also known as “Topacio.” The gang leaders is serving a sentence of 16 years in prison for property theft and money laundering. Organized crime groups typically steal properties in border areas, authorities said. Gangs and transnational drug cartels target properties in border regions because they can use stolen homes as a base of operations for drug trafficking, firearms smuggling, or human trafficking, authorities said. Organized crime operatives can also use stolen homes as lookout posts, to watch drug cartel or gang rivals. In the department of Petén, in northern Guatemala, the Sinaloa Cartel has reportedly stolen a number of homes, Hernández said. The transnational criminal organization, which is led by fugitive kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, has alliances with gangs which operate in Guatemala, including Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, and Barrio 18, or 18th Street. A growing problem Gangs seek properties in border regions The capture of 17 Los Topacio suspects is an important success for security forces, Hernández said. “This gang is probably one of the largest operating in the country,” Hernández said. “However, there are other gangs that also steal property.” In addition to investigating and capturing gang members who steal properties, the Guatemalan government is working hard to prevent such cimes. For example, in 2011 the government launched a Property Registry, which improves security for property owners. Of the five million properties registered in Guatemala, only 5,000 use the service so far, authorities said. Also in 2011, the government took an important step toward improving security for property owners by changing the law regarding notarizations, which record property sales and transfers, Hernández said. Under the new law, lawyers much submit to the government a list of notarized documents every month. The incidence of property theft has grown because some lawyers are dishonest, Hernández said. “This criminal activity seems like an urban legend, because people lose their homes overnight. Unfortunately, there is corruption behind the legal profession in Guatemala,” Hernández said. I didn’t like this page at all. The problem is much bigger. Because a great number of these victims live in foreign countries. They pay and entrust legal services to lots of thieves and don’t realize their property has been stolen until it’s too late. Violence and fraud . Guatemalan security forces recently dealt a major blow to an organized crime group which was stealing properties from victims and then re-selling them, sometimes on the same day. Some of the victims were elderly people who had little money and nowhere else to live. On Dec. 5, 2013, National Civil Police (PNC) agents, in coordination with the Public Prosecutor’s office (MP), arrested 17 alleged members of the Los Topacio gang. The gang members allegedly defrauded people of their homes by using a variety of tactics, said Iduvina Hernández, director of Security in Democracy (SEMEM), a civil society organization which is based in Guatemala. The number of reported cases of property theft in Guatemala have increased dramatically since 2012, authorities said. From January through early December 2013, 1,400 cases of property theft were reported in Guatemala, law enforcement officials said. In all of 2012, about 1,000 such cases were reported, authorities said. “Property theft has increased dramatically in Guatemala as members of organized gangs and drug cartels use violence, kidnapping, extortion, murder and fraud to steal property,” Hernández said. Gang members often target victims after obtaining information about specific uninhabited properties or properties that are for sale, de León said. Thirty percent of the stolen properties belong to Guatemalans who live abroad, she said. Gang members target people they believe are most vulnerable, de León said. “Those most affected are elderly Guatemalans living in the United States or other countries, immigrants, and owners of property located in dangerous areas.” The highest incidence of thefts occurred in the western region of Guatemala, de León said. last_img read more

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