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Police are keeping watch on five drug traffickers trapped on a ship in Málaga

The initially eight drug traffickers were released by the National Court following the reform, carried out by Justice Minister, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón which considered the Spanish Court is not competent to judge a ship seized in international waters.
Fri Jul 25, 2014 - 13:50

Following the Supreme Court’s overturning of the reform of Universal Justice Law it could be the drug traffickers involved could now be prosecuted in the Spanish Court, and for that reason the police are keeping watch.

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The Mayak in Málaga Port


The vessel was intercepted last March when 30 nautical miles SE of Málaga. The 63.5 metre long ‘Mayak’ was constructed in 1968 and was flying the Sierra Leona flag. The investigators call this type of ship the mother ship, because they receive and supply drugs to other smaller ships which bring the drugs to the European coast.



When customs boarded the ship, she had been loaded up just an hour before and eight crew were caught red-handed introducing the bales of drug into the bodega.

La Opinion de Málaga reports the arsenal of war weapons found in Málaga was used for their sale and international trafficking.

La Opinion de Málaga reports the arsenal of war weapons found in Málaga was used for their sale and international trafficking. 148 firearms have been impounded, with 55 grenades of different types, more than 160 ammunition cartridges of different calibre, three anti-tank mines, an artillery rocket and a heavy mortar. One of the detained spoke of the arms sale in a book.

Renfe in Costa del Sol hit by lack of drivers

Six lines to Fuengirola and Alora have been cancelled due to a lack of train drivers. The termination will affect almost 1,500 people. The drivers union says that many more drivers are needed to keep the services going. On the other hand, Renfe said that part of the problem is that driver absenteeism has gone up by 10%. The company also added that they were doing their best to ‘urgently resolve the problem to get things back to normal as soon as possible’. However, they gave no guarantee or target date on this. The drivers union believe that Malaga requires at least eight more drivers and that Renfe simply need to employ more. They point out that there are 500 unemployed drivers they could hire tomorrow and that they paid €22,000 to take the training course. They also warned that under these current conditions, problems are set to continue all summer long.

A small tornado causes widespread panic on the beaches of Huelva

A quiet evening beach became just seconds into "absolute chaos." It happened Sunday at the beach of La Bota, around three p.m. . A small tornado surprised people quietly sunbathing and enjoying the sea. The air lifted by this atmospheric phenomenon took everything he found his way, dragging chairs, floats and umbrellas , and lifting more than 20 meters. A few hours earlier, about half past one p.m. , a gust of wind affected similarly Portil beach . The phenomenon s and known as "dust devil" , and is a spiral airflow caused by rising warm air masses from the surface. In appearance and their effects may seem a small tornado and vary in intensity and height . According to Civil Protection caused no injuries , and coincided with the role of a northwest wind blowing southwest at that time.

Spanish police have arrested a Colombian drug boss dubbed ‘The Mouse’, the alleged leader of a major cocaine smuggling gang accused of 400 killings

Spanish police have arrested a Colombian drug boss dubbed ‘The Mouse’, the alleged leader of a major cocaine smuggling gang accused of 400 killings, officials said on Saturday. Officers arrested the 40-year-old, whose real name is reportedly Hernan Alonso Villa, in the eastern seaside city of Alicante on Friday, according to a police statement. He is considered ‘the top leader of the military wing of the Oficina de Envigado, a Colombian criminal organisation accused of 400 killings as well as drug-trafficking, extorsion and forced displacements of Colombian citizens’, it said. ‘He is one of the criminals most wanted by the Colombian authorities. He had more than 200 people under his command and was responsible for exporting cocaine to Spain, the United States and Holland,’ the statement said. Spanish officers arrested him under a Colombian extradition warrant for charges including alleged homicide and arms offences. He was carrying 40,000 euros ($54,000) in cash when he was caught, the statement said. Authorities say the ‘Oficina’ gang dates back to the 1980s when it carried out killings for the now-dismantled Medellin Cartel. Spain is one of the main entry points for illegal narcotics into Europe and Colombia is one of the world’s biggest sources of cocaine. Colombia produced 290 tonnes of cocaine in 2013, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Named 'businessman of the year', José Mestre headed Barcelona's biggest port container operator before being charged with smuggling 186 kilos (410lb) of cocaine.

Named 'businessman of the year', José Mestre headed Barcelona's biggest port container operator before being charged with smuggling 186 kilos (410lb) of cocaine. The Local looks at his fall from grace and takes a sneak peek at his impressive mansion, Barcelona's most expensive.

Fifty-seven-year-old Mestre was once the toast of the town, his company Tercat managing two container terminals at Barcelona’s busy port.

In June 2010, just months after receiving the accolade, Mestre was arrested after Catalan police found 186 kilograms camouflaged in one of his scrap metal containers, Spanish national daily El País reported.

Police surveillance found Mestre had been holding talks with an international drug ring for several months.

Four years on, Spain’s High Court found him guilty of drug trafficking, sentencing him to 12 years in prison and slapping him with a €14.6 million ($19.76 million) fine.

As the tycoon turned drug villain is not yet behind bars, he’s taken the time to try to sell off one of his most prized possessions: a 2,500sqm (27,000 square feet) property described as “an architectural jewel from the 1920s”.

The money raised via the sale will be used to pay off Mestre's obligations, including mortgages he holds with banks.      

Spain’s biggest home sale and rental website Idealista has posted an ad for the opulent property, located in Barcelona’s Pedralbes neighbourhood,The €30 million mansion is split into two buildings, which have a wine cellar, gym, garage with space for 12 vehicles, pool, nine bedrooms, seven bathrooms and even a watchtower.

The TOWIE cast returned to Marbella last night as The Only Way Is Marbs made a typically explosive comeback.

And if the TV show has got you itching for a holiday to the Spanish resort, Lauren Pope has given us an exclusive run-down of her favourite nightspots.

The TOWIE beauty is a huge dance music fan and is currently promoting the show’s first ever CD; The Only Way is Marbs: Marbella Anthems.

Stars from the show including Lydia Bright and James 'Diags' Bennewit attended the The CD’s launch party at The Brickyard in Essex on Friday.

 
Lauren Pope's holiday tips: TOWIE star picks out her best nightspots exclusively for Travel Mail readers
 
 
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Lauren Pope's holiday tips: TOWIE star picks out her best nightspots exclusively for Travel Mail readers

 

 
Day and night: The terrace at luxury beach club Nikki Beach stays open until late
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Day and night: The terrace at luxury beach club Nikki Beach stays open until late

Lauren said: 'I’ve loved working on this album - from the track selection to the mixing, it’s been an amazing experience.

 



Magaluf puts 50-person limit on pub crawls

The local mayor announced the new legislation today after a video surfaced last week showing sex acts being performed by a young British holidaymaker at a club night called Carnage. The resort’s reputation has been steadily deteriorating for years, but recent revelations about bars and clubs where tourists are encouraged to get drunk and engage in sexual behaviour in public proved the tipping point. Manuel Onieva, the Mayor of Calvia, a region including Magaluf, said the new law was an expression of his “total rejection and anger at the activities which were carried out in a video which is currently on the social media circuit.” In an attempt to clean up seedy bar crawls, any company wanting to operate one in the area will now need to apply for a licence through the town hall. In order to be granted a licence they will have to “prove their responsibility and show that they have the appropriate civil insurances in place,” the mayor said.

Gas reps detained for defrauding the elderly

THE Guardia Civil have arrested two representatives of a ‘gas company’ who were thieving in people’s houses when they went to make their inspections. The victims, always elderly, would get a phone call a few days before the inspection; during the phone call the representatives would always inquire as to the age of the people in the house. The victims would be informed that two representatives would visit the house to make sure that everything conformed to standards and was safe.

They would charge €356 for this service and, when the victims would go in search of the cash, the reps would follow them to find where they hid their money and then go back later, while their colleague distracted the elderly person, and steal whatever cash they could find. Investigations began when a complaint was made to the Guardia Civil, by an 84-year-old man, who claimed that after a gas inspection he was left €3,000 short - this was money he had been saving in order to buy a hearing aid. Police rapidly identified and arrested the two individuals who made the visits as well as the woman who would make the preliminary phone calls and the appointments. Investigations into the matter are ongoing as the police suspect that there are a lot of victims who have not yet spoken up about the matter. All three are out on bail until their case goes to court.

THE Local Police in Benalmadena are one of the most tech savvy forces on the coast.

They regularly use the social networks to inform the public about crimes ranging from drug dealing to paedophilia and have an open communication policy on their Twitter account (@policia_benalm).   They tend to shy away from using institutional language and communicate in the same manner as the rest of the users of the social networks. #avoid accidents - grab a cab is one of their usual Saturday night reminders to the general public to avoid drink driving.   Benalmadena Local Police opened their Twitter account last year in April principally to send out press notes and official information but they soon realised that the system had enormous possibilities and started to send out messages about cyber bullying and domestic violence, as well as the usual warnings not to drive drunk.   Because they are a local force they can send messages which directly relate to the residents of the municipality on local matters like which roads are fluid, where there may be any problems around the town or if there may be a wave of pick pocketing going on.  

Police headquarters in the town commented that the decision to use the social networking site, which is not used by any of the other Local Police forces in the area - not even in the capital, was not an easy one as there are many ‘trolls’ online who can hack into an account and ruin it.   They decided to take the risk anyway as they thought it would heighten their profile with the public, which it has done, and help them to improve their image of helping the community rather than just handing out parking tickets.   In other Costa del Sol policing news, the Malaga police force are ageing, with no replacements in sight.   Currently, the average age of a local police officer in Malaga is 45.   Malaga Council is said to be concerned about the ageing force as, due to cutbacks, there has been no ‘new blood’ since the recession started.   Although the council is aware of the problem, they have stated that they are not going to do anything about it for the moment as they do not have the budget to remedy the generational handover needed.   The number of police officers on the roster in 2003 was 980, but the force now has only 924 officers. Of these 924, 40 per cent are over the age of 45 and another 130 have had to be given light duties due to physical problems.  

Due to the budget cuts the council has decided to ‘in the short term’ open up another 30 places, the same as they did when a similar problem happened with the fire brigade in 2008.   Francisco de la Torre, mayor of Malaga, has commented that even though experience is a good thing in a police officer, there is a need for a younger generation to take over in order to bring the average age down. He underscored the fact that all police officers over the age of 50 are given light duties unless they can pass a stringent, yearly, physical test.

Police have several leads in the investigation of the large forest fire that started a week ago.

Suspicions that it was started malicously has possibly strengthened. Sources claim that the fire spread quickly because there was more than one fire. Witnesses stated inter alia, have seen an unidentified jeep coming from a farm between Ojén and Marbella exactly where the fire then got an awesome course. In Marbella, it was announced yesterday that it is now able to restore electricity, water and telephone networks in all affected areas. It is now under the companies just the kind of disruption that is "normal". In areas Elviria Ricmar has repaired water pipes, power lines and 3000 meters telephone and fiber optic cable. It has also been launched several campaigns to restore nature and conduct tree plantings. Biologists say that tree planting may be necessary until next year. The hotel chain Fuerte Hoteles has among other things promised to donate a tree for every hotel guest you have in Marbella. The hotels have also started a fundraiser where guests can help by buying a tree, which will then be planted in the affected area.

Griselda Blanco, gunned down in Medellin, Colombia Two armed riders pulled up to Blanco as she was leaving a butcher shop in her hometown

Florida Department of Corrections

Griselda Blanco in 2004.

The convicted Colombian drug smuggler known as the “Godmother of Cocaine,” Griselda Blanco, 69, was gunned down by a motorcycle-riding assassin in Medellin, Colombian national police confirmed late Monday, according to the Miami Herald.

Blanco spent nearly 20 years in prison in the United States for drug trafficking and three murders before being deported to Colombia in 2004, the Herald reported.

Two armed riders pulled up to Blanco as she was leaving a butcher shop in her hometown, and one shot her twice in the head, the Herald reported, citing a report in El Colombiano newspaper.

Family members said Blanco had cut her ties to organized crime after returning to her country, the BBC reported. Police said they were investigating the motive.

Blanco was one of the first to engage in large-scale smuggling of cocaine into the United States from Colombia and set up many of the routes used by the Medellin cartel after she was sentenced in the United States in 1985, the BBC reported.

Investigators told the Herald that they estimate conservatively that Blanco was behind about 40 slayings. She was convicted in connection with three murders: Arranging the killing of two South Miami drug dealers who had not paid for a delivery, and ordering the assassination of a former enforcer for her organization, an operation that resulted in the death of the target’s 2-year-old son, the Herald reported.

Three of Blanco’s husbands were killed in violence related to drugs, the Herald reported, and one of her sons was named Michael Corleone, a reference to “The Godfather” movies.

Blanco is credited with originating motorcycle assassinations, the Herald reported.

“This is classic live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword,” filmmaker Billy Corben, who with Alfred Spellman made two “Cocaine Cowboys” documentaries, told the Herald. “Or in this case, live-by-the-motorcycle-assassin, die-by-the-motorcycle assassin.”

Amber Gold affair is one of the biggest financial scandals to hit Poland since the fall of communism in 1989.

It was pretty much all the money Bozena Oracz had after a working life as an accountant: the equivalent of $15,000. She placed it in a fund investing in gold, with the hope of paying for her daughter's studies and getting treatment for a bad knee.

Those dreams were dashed when she discovered she had fallen victim to an elaborate fraud scheme that has left thousands of Poles, many of them elderly, facing financial ruin.

The so-called Amber Gold affair is one of the biggest financial scandals to hit Poland since the fall of communism in 1989. The extent of wrongdoing is still murky, but it seems to have some elements of a pyramid scheme, meaning the financial institutionused funds from new clients to pay off older clients rather than investing them.

Consumed with anger and desperation, 58-year-old Oracz traveled last week from a small town near Warsaw to a law firm in the capital to consider whether, after losing 50,000 zlotys, she should risk another 3,000 zlotys ($920; €730) on the fee to join a class-action lawsuit seeking to recover some of the losses.

"This was a lot of money to me — it was my savings," Oracz said, fighting back tears. Now retired and living on a small pension, she sees no way of building another nest egg. "My pension barely covers my needs," she said.

The affair has raised questions about the effectiveness of Poland's justice system and government because authorities failed to act against the scheme despite red flags from regulators and the criminal record of its young owner. Scrutiny has also focused on the prime minister due to business dealings his son had with those running the scheme. The scandal has even touched democracy icon Lech Walesa, who fears it could tarnish his good name.

Prosecutors say investors lost about 163 million zlotys ($50 million; €40 million), a number that has been mounting as more and more victims come forward. Any law suits could take care years to go through the courts, with no guarantee of their outcome.

"People are desperate," said Pawel Borowski, a lawyer preparing the class-action suit that Oracz is considering joining. "In most cases the clients lost life savings or sold family properties to make investments."

The financial institution, Amber Gold, promised guaranteed returns of 10 to 14 percent a year for what it claimed were investments in gold. Many of its clients were older Poles who grew up under communism and lacked the savvy to question how a financial firm could guarantee such a high return on a commodity whose value fluctuates on the international market. The promised returns compared well to the 3 to 5 percent interest offered by banks on savings accounts — earnings essentially wiped out by the country's 4 percent inflation rate.

"These were people with a low level of financial education," said Piotr Bujak, the chief economist for Poland at Nordea Markets. "They think it's still like in the old times, where everything was guaranteed by the state. They underestimated the risk."

Amber Gold launched in 2009, opening branches in city centers alongside respected banks, with white leather sofas and other sleek touches that conveyed sophistication and respectability. It bombarded Poles with convincing advertisements. Some early investors got out with their expected gains, adding to the fund's credibility.

The company, based in Gdansk, capitalized on gold's allure while playing on people's anxieties in unpredictable financial times. "We are dealing with a loss of confidence in the entire financial system and an urgent need for safe investments," one ad said. "The environment for gold is perfect."

Amber Gold drew in 50,000 investors over its three years of operation, though the company's founder, Marcin Plichta, said there were only about 7,000 at the time of liquidation.

Soon after Amber Gold began operations, the Polish Financial Supervision Authority put it on a "black list" of institutions that operate like banks without authorization. There are 17 other such black-listed institutions in operation, but the regulators lack the authority to shut them down. This has sparked a debate in the government and news media about whether courts should be more aggressive in intervening.

According to prosecutors, the company did use some of its money to invest in at least one legitimate business: It was the main investor in budget airline OLT Express. It was this investment that brought Amber Gold down — when the airline filed for bankruptcy, Amber Gold entered liquidation and its scheme of investments unraveled. Its bank accounts were blocked and it was unable to return the money of thousands of its customers.

Plichta was charged this month with six counts of criminal misconduct.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk's center-right government went into damage-control mode when it emerged that the leader's son, Michal Tusk, had done PR work for the airline. Tusk said he had warned his son against doing business with Plichta but that ultimately he son makes his own decisions.

Leszek Miller, the head of the opposition Democratic Left Alliance, asked how Tusk could warn his son against involvement in the airline but not warn the thousands of Poles who invested in the fund. Miller has called for a parliamentary inquiry into the scandal.

Public discontent is also centering on the justice system because Plichta, 28, has past convictions for fraud, and many Poles are asking why authorities — aware of his criminal record — didn't stop him sooner. Born Marcin Stefanski, he took his wife's last name to distance himself from his past crimes.

The country's top prosecutor, Andrzej Seremet, admitted Monday that prosecutors were negligent in failing to heed multiple warnings since 2009 about Amber Gold from the financial supervisory body. He announced personnel changes in the office he blamed for mistakes.

The affair also has an unlikely connection to the Solidarity leader and former president, Lech Walesa, because an Oscar-winning director, Andrzej Wajda, was relying on money from Amber Gold to produce a film about Walesa's struggle in the 1980s.

Walesa came out publicly to make clear he is not involved in any way, saying he doesn't want his name "dirtied."

Many of the unlucky investors are not only furious but wracked by shame and guilt.

Engineer Andrzej Malinowski, 61, put three months of salary — 25,000 zlotys ($7,660; €6,100) — into Amber Gold. He made the investment without consulting with his wife, sensing that there was some risk and that she would not have agreed.

Now he is so shaken and embarrassed that he doesn't want to talk about it, leaving his wife, Danuta Malinowska, to help unravel the mess.

"He saw that gold was going higher and higher so he believed that maybe it would be a good deal," Malinowska said. "Now he has so much guilt that I am trying to help — contacting the lawyer, filling in the forms, writing to the prosecutors. But the justice system is very ineffective. I don't believe we will be getting any of this money back."

Miguel Angel Trevino Morales new leader is emerging at the head of one of Mexico's most feared drug cartels.

  • Mexico Drug War Zetas_Plan.jpg

    This undated image taken from the Mexican Attorney General's Office rewards program website on Aug. 23, 2012, shows the alleged leader of Zetas drug cartel, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, alias âZ-40.â (AP Photo/Mexican Attorney General's Office website)

Mexico's Violent Zetas Cartel Sees New Leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales A split in the leadership of Mexico's violent Zetas cartel has led to the rise of Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, a man so feared that one rival has called for a grand alliance to confront a gang chief blamed for a new round of bloodshed in the country's once relatively tranquil central states.

Trevino, a former cartel enforcer who apparently has seized leadership of the gang from Zetas founder Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, is described by lawmen and competing drug capos as a brutal assassin who favors getting rid of foes by stuffing them into oil drums, dousing them with gasoline and setting them on fire, a practice known as a "guiso," or "cook-out".

Law enforcement officials confirm that Trevino appears to have taken effective control of the Zetas, the hemisphere's most violent criminal organization, which has been blamed for a large share of the tens of thousands of deaths in Mexico's war on drugs, though other gangs too have repeatedly committed mass slayings.

"There was a lot of talk that he was pushing really hard on Lazcano Lazcano and was basically taking over the Zetas, because he had the personality, he was the guy who was out there basically fighting in the streets with the troops," said Jere Miles, a Zetas expert and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent who was posted in Mexico until last year.

"Lazcano Lazcano, at the beginning he was kind of happy just to sit back and let Trevino do this, but I don't think he understood how that works in the criminal underworld," Miles said. "When you allow someone to take that much power, and get out in front like that, pretty soon the people start paying loyalty to him and they quit paying to Lazcano."

The rise has so alarmed at least one gang chieftain that he has called for gangs, drug cartels, civic groups and even the government to form a united front to fight Trevino Morales, known as "Z-40," whom he blamed for most of Mexico's violence.

"Let's unite and form a common front against the Zetas, and particularly against Z-40, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, because this person with his unbridled ambition has caused so much terror and confusion in our country," said a man identified as Servando Gomez, leader of the Knights Templar cartel, in a viedo posted Tuesday on the internet.

A Mexican law enforcement official who wasn't authorized to speak on the record said the video appeared to be genuine,

"He is the main cause of everything that is happening in Mexico, the robberies, kidnappings, extortion," Gomez is heard saying on the tape. "We are inviting all the groups ... everyone to form a common front to attack Z-40 and put an end to him."

Trevino Morales has a fearsome reputation. "If you get called to a meeting with him, you're not going to come out of that meeting," said a U.S. law-enforcement official in Mexico City, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic.

In two years since Zetas split with their former allies in the Gulf cartel — a split in which Trevino reported played a central role — the gang has become one of Mexico's two main cartels, and is battling the rival Sinaloa cartel.

Now the Zetas' internal disputes have added to the violence of the conflict between gangs. Internal feuds spilled out into pitched battles in the normally quiet north-central state of San Luis Potosi in mid-August, when police found a van stuffed with 14 executed bodies.

San Luis Potosi state Attorney General Miguel Angel Garcia Covarrubias told local media that a 15th man who apparently survived the massacre told investigators that both the killers and the victims were Zetas. "It was a rivalry with the same organized crime group," Garcia Covarrubias said.

The leadership dispute also may have opened the door to lesser regional figures in the Zetas gang to step forward and rebel, analysts and officials said.

Analysts say that a local Zetas leader in the neighboring state of Zacatecas, Ivan Velazquez Caballero, "The Taliban," was apparently trying to challenge Trevino Morales' leadership grab, and that the 14 bullet-ridden bodies left in the van were The Taliban's men, left there as a visible warning by Trevino Morales' underlings.

The Taliban's territory, Zacatecas, appears to have been a hot spot in Trevino's dispute with Lazcano. It was in Zacatecas that a professionally printed banner was hung in a city park, accusing Lazcano of betraying fellow Zetas and turning them in to the police.

Trevino began his career as a teenage gofer for the Los Tejas gang, which controlled most crime in his hometown of Nuevo Laredo, across the border from the city of Laredo, Texas, officials say.

Around 2005, Trevino Morales was promoted to boss of the Nuevo Laredo territory, or "plaza" and given responsibility for fighting off the Sinaloa cartel's attempt to seize control of its drug-smuggling routes. He orchestrated a series of killings on the U.S. side of the border, several by a group of young U.S. citizens who gunned down their victims on the streets of the American city. American officials believe the hit men also carried out an unknown number of killings on the Mexican side of the border, the U.S. official said.

Trevino Morales is on Mexico's most-wanted list, with a reward of 30 million pesos ($2.28 million) offered for information leading to his capture.

Raul Benitez, a security expert at Mexico's National Autonomous University, said that the Zetas are inherently an unstable cartel with an already huge capacity for violence, and the possibility of more if they begin fighting internal disputes. "I think the Zetas are having problems, and there is no central command," he said.

The Zetas have been steadily expanding their influence and reaching into Central America in recent years, constructing a route for trafficking drugs that offloads Colombian cocaine in Honduras, ships it overland along Mexico's Gulf Coast and runs into over the border through Trevino Morales' old stomping grounds.

Samuel Logan, managing director of the security analysis firm Southern Pulse, notes that "personality-wise they (Trevino Morales and Lazcano) couldn't be more different," and believes the two may want to take the cartel in different directions. The stakes in who wins the dispute could be large for Mexico; Lazcano is believed to be more steady, more of a survivor who might have an interest in preserving the cartel as a stable organization.

"Lazcano may be someone who would take the Zetas in a direction where they'd become less of a thorn in the side for the new political administration," Logan said in reference to Enrique Pena Nieto, who is expected to take office as president on Dec. 1. "In contrast, Trevino is someone who wants to fight the fight."

Referring to Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel, a member of the rival Sinaloa Cartel who died in a shootout with soldiers in July 2010, Logan noted, "Trevino is someone who is going to want to go out, like Nacho Coronel went out, with his guns blazing."




Laurence Kilby, 40, of Cheltenham, who built and raced cars, was arrested after police seized cocaine with a street value of £1m.

 

Laurence Kilby, 40, of Cheltenham, who built and raced cars, was arrested after police seized cocaine with a street value of £1m.

A "privileged" racing driver has been jailed with 11 other drug smugglers. Crown Court heard he was head of a gang moving drugs from Eastern Europe along the M4 corridor to London, western England and south Wales.

Kilby was heavily in debt and turned to crime to maintain his lifestyle of fast cars and high living.

Raids on properties

Kilby was jailed in June but his conviction, and those of the rest of the gang, can now be reported following the conclusion of another trial.

In an undercover operation between Gloucestershire and Avon and Somerset Police, officers seized 3kg of cocaine as it was being ferried between London and Cheltenham in October 2010.

Another 1kg of the drug was intercepted in Cheltenham in February 2011 and 2.5kg was discovered in raids on properties in Cheltenham, Staverton, Bristol and London in July 2011.

The gang of 12 drug dealers from Gloucestershire, Bristol and London received sentences of between 18 years and four years seven months.

It can now be reported Kilby, who was jailed in June, and Vladan Vujovic, 43, of Grange Road, London were found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. Both were jailed for 18 years.

Laurence Kilby racing in the 2009 Castle Combe Saloon Car ChampionshipKilby built and raced cars with the company he owned, Ajec Racing

Richard Jones, 42, of Bradley Stoke, Bristol, was sentenced to 15 years for the same offence, and Mark Poole, 47, from Portishead, was sentenced to nine years seven months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

Police said Kilby sourced the drug in London from an East European criminal gang, which included Vujovic.

Vujovic ran a baggage handling company at Heathrow Airport and was said to receive the cocaine before it was distributed around the South West and Wales.

Kilby is the former husband of Flora Vestey, daughter of Lord Vestey, and was owner of motor racing firm Ajec Racing which was based in Staverton.

He was heavily in debt and turned to crime to maintain his lifestyle of fast cars and high living.

'Well-connected socialite'

In a separate charge, Kilby also pleaded guilty to stealing money from the charity Help for Heroes and was sentenced to 10 months, to run concurrently with his 18-year sentence.

He organised a charity race day at Gloucestershire Airport in July 2010, but failed to pass on between £3,500 and £4,000 in proceeds to the charity Help for Heroes.

Det Insp Steve Bean, from Gloucestershire Police, said Kilby was the main man.

"He portrayed himself as a well-connected socialite and businessman, whilst indulging his ambition as a minor league racing driver.

Drugs wrapped in plastic packagesPolice seized 6.5kg of drugs during the operation

"Despite a privileged background, the reality was that his lifestyle was funded by the ill-gotten gains of drug dealing.

"He continually lied and blamed others in an attempt to distance himself from the conspiracy.

"He displayed an air of arrogance and thought he could get away with it because he didn't get his hands dirty."

The majority of the gang were jailed in June, but reporting restrictions meant it could not be reported until now, after the sentencing of the remaining gang members.

Others members of the gang to be sentenced were:

  • David Chapman, 29, from Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply and was sentenced to nine years.
  • William Garnier, 31, from Cheltenham, pleaded guilty to supplying Class A drugs and was sentenced six years and eight months.
  • Garry Burrell, 46, from Easton, Bristol, and John Tomlin, 28, from Newtown, Gloucestershire both pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine and were sentenced to six years and six months and four years and six months respectively.
  • Timothy Taylor, 40, from Bristol was found guilty of supplying Class A drugs and was sentenced to four years and seven months.
  • Brian Barrett, 48, from Keynsham was found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and was sentenced to 10 years.
  • Scott Everest, 39, from Clevedon was found guilty of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and was jailed for seven years.

Jonathan Tanner, 45, from Warminster was sentenced to 18 months for possession with intent to supply of cannabis, but was cleared of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

Darren Weetch, 38, from Bristol, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply. He was sentenced to 16 months.

Officers also worked with Thames Valley Police and the Metropolitan Police during the operation.

OwnFone: A Custom-Printed Phone Perfect for Seniors and Kids

Some people need all the latest apps and features available on their smartphone so they can be connected 24/7, while others just want to make a phone call. For the connected crowd, read all the latest reviews onMashable. For the others, check out the OwnFone.

It’s designed to call only the people you want to reach most frequently. In fact, it can only hold 12 contacts. There are no keys or buttons to program. Instead you let OwnFone know who you want to add, and they program and send you a custom-printed phone, about the size of a credit card.

If you lose it, they just print you a new one. You do need to call OwnFone support if you need to change someone’s number, or add a contact.

 

OwnFone says it plans to come out with a phone that can be customized in braille in the near future. Right now OwnFone is only available in the UK.

Check out the video above for more details and let us know what you think of a printed, pre-programmed cell phone.

Estepona Wild Fires rage on a 2km front

Police and Ambulances hurried to evacuate as wild fires quickly spread our reporter on the scene photographer the devastation

 

Estepona on Fire

We had a tiny little fire today, which they put out.

Then an hour later, it restarted, and spread along 2 Klm of the coast.

It was horrible seeing old people being run out of their homes, and carried through the smoke by police and ambulances.

The pictures really doesn,t do show bad it really was.many houses have gone

 

 

The nine people believed injured by stray police gunfire outside the Empire State Building were not the first to learn how dangerous a crowded street can be in a gunfight.

 Civilians occasionally find themselves in harm's way when officers use deadly force, though usually only a handful of times annually. When that happens, a rigid process of investigation is set in motion — and the police department can reasonably expect a lawsuit. The latest episode came when police say a man disgruntled over losing his job a year ago shot a former colleague to death and pointed his weapon at two police officers in the shadow of a major tourist attraction. He apparently wasn't able to fire before police killed him, one firing off seven rounds and the other nine. Bystanders suffered graze wounds, and some were struck by concrete gouged from buildings by the bullets, authorities said. At least one person said he was actually hit by a bullet. Robert Asika, a 23-year-old tour guide who was hit in the right arm, said he was "100 percent positive" he was shot by a police officer. A witness told police that laid-off clothing designer Jeffrey Johnson fired at officers, but ballistics evidence so far contradicts that, authorities said.

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