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Smugglers

NATIONAL
March 10, 2011 | By Kim Murphy and Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times
Lawmakers in Mexico are demanding an investigation into a U.S. law enforcement operation that allowed hundreds of weapons to flow into the hands of Mexican drug cartels amid claims from a ranking legislator that at least 150 Mexicans have been killed or wounded by guns trafficked by smugglers under the watch of U.S. agents. U.S. authorities say manpower shortages and the high number of weapons sold resulted in their losing track of hundreds of guns, from pistols to .50-caliber sniper rifles, though a federal agent deeply involved in the Phoenix-based operation said it was "impossible" that U.S. authorities did not know the weapons were headed for Mexico.
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WORLD
February 27, 2011 | By David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times
Suleiman Zjailil is a modern-day town crier. He spends his days driving his battered car back and forth across the border with Egypt, smuggling out grainy cellphone videos so the world can see the news from his quarantined land. Zjailil, an engineer in the Libyan coastal city of Tobruk, is determined to deliver visual proof of President Moammar Kadafi's bloody tactics against a mounting populist rebellion. Armed only with thumb drives and CDs, he downloads videos taken by Libyans and makes the 95-mile trip from Tobruk to Egypt.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 3, 2010 | Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
A German man who authorities said netted more than $300,000 by smuggling hundreds of tarantulas into the United States through the mail was expected to appear in court Friday in Los Angeles to face federal charges. Officials said the web of "Operation Spiderman" caught Sven Koppler, 37, Thursday, shortly after he arrived in Los Angeles to meet with associates in the alleged scheme that included some endangered species of tarantula. Koppler is charged with illegally importing wildlife into the United States, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
WORLD
October 7, 2010 | By Simon Roughneen and Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times
The last chance for an alleged arms smuggler dubbed the "Merchant of Death" to avoid extradition from Thailand to the United States on terrorism charges appears to lie with Thailand's prime minister, who faces a tough decision: offend the United States or offend Russia. The difficult diplomatic choice for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva follows a ruling Tuesday by a Thai court clearing a legal obstacle that had barred the extradition. Victor Bout, a former Russian air force officer, is suspected of supplying weapons to various armies and terrorist groups in the Middle East, South America and Africa.
NATIONAL
September 7, 2010 | By Ken Dilanian, Tribune Washington Bureau
One by one, Border Patrol agents took the witness stand in the federal courthouse here last week to testify against a fellow officer, their faces creased with anguish. By their accounts, Agent Jesus Enrique Diaz Jr., a husband and father with seven years on the job, tortured a 16-year-old drug smuggler two years ago by wrenching his handcuffed arms upward as he pressed a knee into his back. In an effort to make the boy reveal where he had hidden marijuana bundles near the Rio Grande, Diaz also kicked him and dropped him face-first on the ground, agents testified.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 21, 2010 | By Sam Quinones, Los Angeles Times
An Ecuadoran man told investigators he was held in an 800-square-foot Baldwin Park house while his captors demanded $2,500 above the $10,500 he had already paid to be smuggled into the United States. Another man traveled from New York to pay $12,000 for the release of his 12-year-old son sequestered in the house. Smugglers then kidnapped the man and demanded another $1,000 from his family for his release. These were among the stories emerging Friday after 35 illegal immigrants were found in the house Thursday; one of them had managed to get a cellphone and call 911. Baldwin Park officers arrived at the house to find two men running away.
WORLD
May 17, 2010 | By Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times
A French researcher held in Iran for 10 months returned home to Paris on Sunday just days after France defied Washington by refusing to extradite an alleged Iranian arms smuggler to the United States. Clotilde Reiss, a 24-year-old lecturer and student of Persian language and Iranian history, had been held in Tehran since July on espionage charges after allegedly taking pictures and sending accounts of the demonstrations and violent crackdown that followed the disputed June 12 reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
WORLD
May 16, 2010 | By Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
A French researcher held in Tehran since the days after Iran's disputed 2009 presidential elections left the Islamic Republic for Paris on Sunday morning just days after France defied Washington by refusing to extradite an alleged Iranian arms smuggler to the United States. Clotilde Reiss, 24, a lecturer and student of Persian language and Iranian history, had been stuck in Iran since July on espionage charges. She is set to arrive Sunday in Paris to join her family and meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
NATIONAL
May 2, 2010 | By Nicholas Riccardi
By many measures, Arizona has become safer since illegal immigrants began pouring into the state in the 1990s. Crime has dropped all across the country since then, but the decrease has been as fast or faster in Arizona. The rate of property crimes in the state, for example, has plummeted 43% since 1995, compared with 30% nationwide. That's no surprise to those who study immigration — both sides, whether for or against increased immigration, agree that immigrants tend to commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans.
NATIONAL
May 1, 2010 | By Paloma Esquivel and Nicholas Riccardi, Los Angeles Times
A Pinal County sheriff's deputy was shot by an apparent drug smuggler and suffered a superficial wound Friday night in an encounter sure to inflame passions in the state that recently passed the toughest law against illegal immigration in the country. Arizona has been fiercely criticized for the new law, which makes it a state crime to lack immigration paperwork and requires police to determine whether people they stop are in the country legally. Opponents have contended that the law will force police to racially profile people.
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