The United States Coast Guard said it recovered seven tons of cocaine from a narco sub, a self-propelled semi-submersible vessel that is used to transport illegal drugs. The drugs were brought to shore Monday in St. Petersburg, Florida, and will be handed over to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida where the case is being handled.
This is the third semi-submersible to be stopped by the Coast Guard in the Caribbean Sea and the second interdiction by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk.
“We’ve got two within about two weeks of each other,” said Coast Guard Cmdr. Mark J. Fedor, the Mohawk's commanding officer. “It really makes you wonder how many of these things might be coming through.”
More than 600 officers from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and local police departments conducted a raid on the largest public housing complex in Puerto Rico Thursday in an operation against its biggest drug gang.
Arrest warrants were issued for 82 members of the Calle Cuatro, or Fourth Street, gang, who are blamed for 25 murders on the island.
According to officials, 43 alleged gang members had been arrested by Thursday afternoon.
A federal indictment says the 82 suspects are wanted on drug charges, weapon charges, or both.FULL STORY
The U.S. Coast Guard says it believes narco subs, semi-submersible vessels used to transport illegal drugs, may become a trend in the Caribbean Sea after it intercepted a second such vessel there.
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk stopped a cocaine-smuggling, self-propelled sub and detained the sub's crew in the western Caribbean Sea on September 17, the service said.
The other instance of the Coast Guard stopping a drug-smuggling sub in the Caribbean happened July 13. Until this summer, all the semi-submersibles that had been seized recently were stopped off Central America's Pacific coast.
"It seems maybe the drug trafficking organizations are changing their tactics a little bit and trying to move massive amounts of narcotics not just through the eastern Pacific, but also through the Caribbean using these (self-propelled semi-submersibles),” said the Mohawk's commanding officer, Coast Guard Cmdr. Mark J. Fedor.
Two studies published this month suggest the availability of booze – and in one city, single servings of alcohol – is linked to violent crime rates.
University of California, Riverside researchers used federal crime data for offenders between the ages of 13 and 24, and then used census and economic data to determine the density of beer, wine and liquor stores in 91 major cities.
"Taking into account other factors known to contribute to youth homicide rates – such as poverty, drugs, availability of guns and gangs – the researchers found that higher densities of liquor stores, providing easy access to alcoholic beverages, contributed significantly to higher youth homicide rates," said a news release from the university.
The second study isn't so broad and doesn't deal solely with young people. It looked at San Bernardino, California, and "generally found higher rates of violent crime in neighborhoods around alcohol outlets that allot more than 10% of cooler space for single-serve containers."
Authorities in Colombia have confiscated two narco subs, submersibles designed to smuggle cocaine, since Friday, according to news reports.
A vessel found on the country's Pacific coast on Friday could carry up to 10 tons of cocaine and was outfitted with a GPS navigation system, according to a report from Insightcrime.org.
On Monday, authorities said they found a smaller but more sophisticated submarine hidden in a wooden shack in dense coastal jungle north of where the first sub was found Friday, according to a report from the BBC.
The second sub, named The Black Pearl, was made of steel and fiberglass and could carry four tons of cocaine, the BBC report said. It could stay submerged for 10 days with a crew of five and had radar, navigation and communication systems that made it worth $2 million, the report said.
Both vessels were built under the orders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group, which finances its operations with cocaine sales, according to the reports.
In February, Colombian authorities captures a 100-foot-long narco sub capable of traveling to Mexico at depths of up to 30 feet.
A package containing 2.5 pounds of marijuana was delivered to the Kentucky home of Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Jerome Simpson earlier this week, drug enforcement officials in California said Thursday.
Authorities tracked the package from a mail distribution center in Sacramento to Simpson's home in the Cincinnati suburb of Crestview Hills, Kentucky, said Michelle Gregory of the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement. The package originated in Eureka in northern California, she said, and was one of 40 packages authorities were tracking.
The California authorities notified those in Kentucky, who monitored the delivery. Aleen Smith, identified as Simpson's girlfriend, signed for the package, Gregory said.
A search of the home, to which Simpson consented, revealed six more pounds of marijuana along with scales, boxes and packaging materials consistent with a distribution operation, Gregory said.
Police are investigating the death of an Arkansas man whose naked body was allegedly found next to a sleeping TV weatherman in a hot tub after a night of drinking and drugs.
The owner of the home awoke Monday morning to find the body of 24-year-old Dexter Williams at the bottom of an empty tub, his face blue and purple and a chain resembling a dog collar around his neck, according to a Maumelle Police report.
Asleep next to him was KARK meteorologist Brett Cummins, 33, who had arrived at Christopher Barbour's home outside Little Rock accompanied by Williams around 8 p.m. on Sunday, Barbour told police.
The three drank and snorted drugs, though Barbour told police he did not know what kind, Officer Gregory Roussie said in a report. The three continued drinking in the hot tub until Barbour retired for the night around 11 p.m., falling asleep on his couch.
Barbour awoke to the sound of Cummins snoring and discovered the two in the hot tub, which had been drained of water, he told police. After he awoke Cummins, the two realized that Williams' face was discolored and his skin cold to the touch, prompting Cummins to scream and run to the living room, where he vomited, Barbour said.
Maumelle Police and fire rescue arrived at the home around 8:10 a.m. and found Williams' body in the tub with blood pooling around his head, Sergeant David Collins said in a report. In the master bedroom he found a pill bottle next to a pair of khaki cargo shorts on a storage ottoman at the foot of the bed.
No arrests had been made as of Wednesday, Lieutenant Jim Hansard said.
Two Border Patrol agents in Arizona are accused of forcing suspected drug smugglers to eat marijuana and strip down to their underwear before being told to flee into the desert.
A federal grand jury in Tucson indicted Dario Castillo, 23, and Ramon Zuniga, 29, with five counts of civil rights violations. Castillo faces an additional charge of tampering with a witness.
The indictment alleges that on November 12 of 2008, the two border agents forced four suspected drug smugglers from Mexico - who were in the country illegally and carrying marijuana - to eat the drug and remove their all their clothes except their underwear, the Arizona U.S. Attorney's office said.
Instead of arresting them, the agents burned their personal belongings and ordered them to flee into the desert in 40-degree weather, the office said.FULL STORY
Nearly 80 people have been arrested in the largest marijuana-eradication law enforcement operation in California history, several local reports say. About 292,000 plants have been discovered, Justice Department spokeswoman Michelle Gregory told the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.
Raids involving local, state and federal authorities have been going on for days in the Mendocino National Forest in remote, mountainous areas in Glenn, Colusa, Tehama, Mendocino, Lake and Trinity counties, according to the Tehama County Daily News.
Officials are beginning the massive cleanup of the sites, which have suffered environmental damage, the Daily News and Press-Democrat report.
The idea for the operation reportedly came after a public meeting in Covelo in north Mendocino County in 2010. Residents said that armed people had confronted them in and around the forest. Hikers and ranchers also said they had been shot at when they mistakenly walked into areas where marijuana was being grown, the Press-Democrat reports.
It's unclear who the growers might be.
Pot farms on national forests have been a problem in California and across the country for years.
Kabul hotel attack – Eight suicide attackers and 10 others were killed in an attack at a Kabul hotel popular with Westerners, journalists and politicians. President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that the attack at the Inter-Continental won't interrupt the power handover from international troops to Afghan forces. Police say the number of dead may go up as they continue to search the hotel. One guest, a student, began to write his will inside his room while he heard shooting and explosions outside his room, because people he contacted outside the hotel told him it was safer if he stayed put. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the carnage. Stay with CNN.com for developments in this story, and check out CNN.com's Afghanistan Crossroads blog which focuses on life in Afghanistan.
Wildfire near nuclear lab – The wildfire near Santa Fe, New Mexico, is within miles of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, so the facility will remain closed at least through Thursday. Officials say the nuclear and hazardous materials at the lab are safe.
First presser since March at White House – President Barack Obama will hold his first news conference since March on Wednesday. He's expected to field questions about Afghanistan, American involvement in Libya, and the United States economy. He's also expected to address the debt ceiling crisis and present his position that the federal government should be allowed to borrow more money.
Teen drug use big problem – A new study from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse finds 90% of people who become addicted started smoking, drinking or using other drugs before the age of 18. Columbia University, which published the study, is calling it America's top health problem.
It's omnipresent. With tentacles in nearly every part of the world, the mob may be one of the globe's pervasive organizations. James "Whitey" Bulger's arrest after 16 years is just the latest high-profile incident for organized crime, which has gone mainstream thanks to a popular reality show, various tell-alls and one of the biggest busts in recent memory. You Gotta Watch to learn how it all works.
New York's, Washington's and Atlanta's federally designated drug-trafficking zones just got a little bigger.
They're called High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, to be exact, and they're designed to regionally coordinate law enforcement efforts to tackle issues such as drug production, distribution, chronic use and money laundering. Local, state and federal agencies operating in HIDTAs receive extra equipment, technology and other resources to combat drug trafficking.
Approximately 16% of the nation's counties - encompassing a whopping 60% of the population - fall within one of the 28 HIDTAs, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
You can now add the following to the list: Orange County, New York; Mendocino County, California; Porter County, Indiana; Harford County, Maryland; Lexington and Richland counties, South Carolina; and Putnam and Mercer counties, West Virginia.
Drug traffickers in Mexico have been abducting bus passengers and forcing them to fight each other like gladiators with the winners being ordered to become assassins, a drug trafficker tells the Houston Chronicle.
The fights, initiated by members of the Zetas cartel, are called "Who's going to be the next hitman?" said the trafficker, who agreed to talk to the Chronicle on condition of anonymity.
The gladiators use machetes, hammers and sticks. "They cut guys to pieces," the paper quotes the trafficker as saying.
The winners are sent by the Zetas on suicide missions to shoot up the territory of rivals, the trafficker told the Chronicle. The losers end up in mass graves.
The trafficker said he was not a witness to the fights but gang emembers told him about them.
Federal law enforcement officials told the Chronicle they did not know of any gladiator fights, but they said the trafficker's story was plausible given the escalating violence in Mexico.
U.S. lawmakers are now calling for tougher firearms regulations after a report showed that more than 70% of Mexico's drug cartel weapons come from the United States. Violence associated with drug cartels has been a growing problem in Mexico, resulting in thousands of deaths. One of the more prominent ones was that of Mexican police chief, Martin Castro. His head was delivered to his colleagues in an ice box with a message from a powerful drug cartel in the region. In today's Gotta Watch, we feature some of our more compelling stories highlighting the continued violence stemming from drug cartels in Mexico.
Mexico's 'bravest woman' - When 20-year-old Marisol Valles Garcia became police chief in one the deadliest parts of the world, she was dubbed the “bravest woman in all of Mexico.” Her predecessor had been beheaded, and it was a job no one was willing to take. Now, she’s left the only place she knows – a place where beheadings, shootings and gangland killings have become commonplace.
For the second time this month, officials in Mexico have seized a "narcotank" - a regular production vehicle that a drug cartel has turned in to a battle vehicle.
Reports said the guts of the "narcotank" are a Ford F-series Super Duty truck. It had been customized with steel plating with ports for guns or other weapons, a rotating turret and a fold-up battering ram. No weapons were in the vehicle when it was found, according to the Herald Tribune report.
Earlier this month, the Mexican army captured another armored vehicle, according to a report on BusinessInsider.com. That tank, dubbed El Monstruo 2011, was capable of going 68 mph and could carry 12 people behind its armor, the report said. It was seized in Ciudad Meir, where the Los Zetas gang has been battling over drug business with the Gulf Cartel, their former bosses, BusinessInsider said.
The website InSightcrime.org reported in April that traffickers are increasingly turning to armored vehicles.
Besides armoring vehicles, traffickers have also made their own submarines. Check out what VBS.TV found at a Colombian naval base last year.
He became a Twitter phenom overnight and added the phrases "tiger blood" and "winning" to the cultural lexicon. But the recent obsession with all-things Charlie Sheen couldn't save him from terrible reviews for his stage tour debut. Today's Gotta Watch focuses on how this A-list actor has reinvented himself into an internet sensation thanks to his rants and odd behavior. Watch the recent evolution of Charlie Sheen.
Sheen's losing debut - File this under #notwinning. Detroit fans booed and heckled Charlie Sheen during the opening of his "Violent Torpedo of Truth" tour. Even his "tiger blood" couldn't save Sheen from the critical audience. Was it the crack jokes about the Motor City or the circus-like atmosphere that got fans upset? Now you can judge for yourself.
Lakewood, Colorado (CNN) – When the earthquake hit Japan, Shaun Gindi knew he wanted to help.
"I couldn't believe the devastation. I watched everything get wiped away. Their whole lives were gone," he said. "There was a moment where I started looking at ways to fly over there, ways to somehow get there to help out."
Gindi knows nothing about search and rescue, so he soon abandoned that plan. But he is an expert in one area: medical marijuana.
He runs two dispensaries in the Denver area called Compassionate Pain Management. They legally sell marijuana to patients who have received a recommendation from a doctor.
He floated the idea of raising money for Japan on his dispensary’s Facebook page and got a dozen "likes" right away. He knew immediately that he could use his dispensary to raise money. Thus was born "Joints for Japan."
"What we're going to do is take all the revenue from the hand-rolled medicine, 100% of it, from this weekend and potentially for the next few weeks … and we're going to donate it to the Red Cross," Gindi said.
"Hand-rolled medicine" is medical marijuana-speak for a joint, or a marijuana cigarette. They contain half of a gram of marijuana and are the most popular item in the store. At $5 each, Gindi says, they sell thousands a month.
"We get a lot of people who just come in for these," Gindi said.
The most difficult part of the endeavor has been coming up with the fundraiser's name. Gindi’s business is legal under Colorado law. He pays taxes and has 18 full-time employees. But the industry still struggles for respectability.
With that in mind, Gindi rejected contenders such as "Bake for the Quake" and "Joint Relief."
Gindi hopes his fundraising efforts help bring a bit more respectability to the medical marijuana industry. But ultimately, it is the people of Japan he truly hopes to help.
"In Japan every day, the number of lives lost jumps up. Whatever we can do to help out, we’d like to do."
Federal officials have seized Georgia's supply of a drug used in executions while they investigate whether it was imported legally, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday.
Spokespeople for the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Georgia Department of Corrections told the newspaper the state's supply of thiopental had been seized.
Thiopental is available only from international sources, since the drug's sole U.S. manufacturer, Hospira, stopped making the sedative in 2009. But the countries where the drug is made do not allow its export if it is going to be used for capital punishment, the Journal-Constitution reported.FULL STORY
Police chief Marisol Valles Garcia has been fired, an official in Praxedis G. Guerrero, Mexico, said Monday.
The 20-year-old criminology student made headlines when she took the reins of the police force in one of the most violent cities in the border state of Chihuahua. It's common for police officers in Praxedis to be abducted and killed.
"Marisol did not show up for work this morning as she was expected," town secretary Andres Morales said. "Since she was on a personal leave that expired today and did not reach out to us over the weekend, she now faces termination. It is now an official matter. We don't know anything about her whereabouts. Our attempts to get a hold of her during the weekend were unsuccessful."Read CNN's full coverage of the young police chief's firing