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June 21, 2013 | By Tony Perry and Richard Marosi
Two ex-Border Patrol agents were sentenced Friday to at least 30 years in prison for smuggling more than 500 people into the U.S. Raul Villarreal, 44, was sentenced to 35 years for leading the smuggling ring. His brother, Fidel Villarreal, 45, was sentenced to 30 years for managing the operation. The sentences, meted out in San Diego federal court by U.S. District Judge John Houston, are among the longest given to border law enforcement officials. Houston said he hoped the sentences act as deterrents.
June 13, 2013 | By Ken Dilanian, Richard A. Serrano and Michael A. Memoli, Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Former National Security Agency contract employee Edward Snowden used a computer thumb drive, a portable data storage device that is supposedly barred inside the spying agency, to smuggle highly classified documents out of an NSA facility in Hawaii, according to U.S. officials. Investigators "know how many documents he downloaded and what server he took them from," said an official who would not be named discussing the investigation. Another official said experts were still trying to identify everything that Snowden apparently copied.
June 13, 2013 | By Maria L. La Ganga, Los Angeles Times
WHITMORE VILLAGE, Hawaii - Sure, Edward Snowden just used a simple thumb drive to smuggle classified information out of the National Security Agency. But one look at the sprawling NSA compound where he is believed to have worked in the mountains of central Oahu - with its chain-link fences and barbed wire, massive entrance gates and "Keep out" signs - raises the question of how even a trusted employee with a high-level security clearance could sneak out even an innocuous piece of equipment.
June 12, 2013 | By Tony Perry
A 34-year-old Imperial County man pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in El Centro to smuggling parts of an endangered species of fish into the U.S. to profit from a lucrative black market. Anthony Sanchez Bueno admitted that he smuggled three coolers worth of dried swim bladders from the endangered Totoaba macdonaldi , hidden under ice and fish. The smuggling incident, involving 170 bladders weighing 225 pounds, occurred at the Calexico port of entry, prosecutors said.
June 11, 2013 | By Jason Felch, Los Angeles Times
Federal agents have seized an estimated $100 million in art over the last two years from a prominent Manhattan antiquities dealer they describe as one of the most prolific antiquities smugglers in the world. Subhash Kapoor, a 64-year-old American citizen, awaits trial in India, where he is accused of being part of an antiquities smuggling ring that American and Indian investigators say spanned continents. U.S. authorities have issued their own arrest warrant for Kapoor, saying they have evidence he supplied stolen art to leading museums around the world.
May 1, 2013 | By Ned Parker and Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times
ARSAL, Lebanon - When Mustafa Ezzedine, a Sunni Muslim from this Sunni border town, wanted to buy some furniture, he undertook a clandestine trip into war-torn Syria rather than face harassment, or worse, from Shiite Muslim security officers or townsmen in nearby Lebanese communities. "Although geographically we are in Lebanon, spiritually we are with Syria," said Ezzedine, 66, who was recently freed after being held hostage along with 10 other Sunnis in reprisal for the kidnapping of a Shiite in Arsal.
April 26, 2013 | By Robert Faturechi, Los Angeles Times
A former Los Angeles County sheriff's jailer was convicted Friday on charges related to taking a $700 bribe and smuggling cocaine behind bars, prosecutors said. Remington Orr, 25, pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe and possession of a controlled substance in jail, both felonies. He allegedly had two ounces of cocaine when he was arrested at Men's Central Jail in February 2012. According to the district attorney's office, he agreed to a sentence of 2 1/2 years. In a separate case, Orr, who resigned from the department, also pleaded guilty to permitting a loaded firearm in a vehicle and driving with a suspended license.
April 25, 2013 | By Tony Perry
Seven people have been charged with smuggling parts of an endangered species of fish into the United States to profit from a lucrative black market, federal authorities in San Diego said. The seven are charged with smuggling dried swim bladders from the endangered Totoaba macdonaldi . The bladders are prized for use in Chinese soups and can fetch up to $5,000 apiece in the United States, twice that amount in foreign markets in Asia, authorities said. Authorities have seized 529 bladders since February.
April 19, 2013 | By Tony Perry
SAN DIEGO -- A reserve deputy with the Imperial County Sheriff's Department has been arrested on suspicion of smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S., officials said. Elizabeth Hernandez, 23, of El Centro, was arrested Wednesday after being spotted by Border Patrol agents smuggling three illegal immigrants past a checkpoint on Highway 86 near Salton City, prosecutors said. The three were in the trunk of Hernandez's personal car, according to prosecutors. She was wearing her uniform and carrying her department-issued firearm, court documents indicate.
April 11, 2013 | By Andrew Blankstein
Prosecutors charged an attorney with half a dozen felony counts for allegedly trying to smuggle heroin into an L.A. County jail inside a greeting card. Stephen Beecher, 61, who was arrested April 9, faces counts including conspiracy, bringing drugs into jail, transportation of a controlled substance and bringing a firearm into a jail, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. The Sherman Oaks resident was released on bail Thursday and scheduled to be arraigned May 1 in a downtown courtroom.
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