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August 15, 2013 | By Richard Winton
Federal prosecutors Thursday unveiled indictments and charges against 57 people who authorities said smuggled massive quantities of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine from Mexico to the Los Angeles area using PVC piping concealed in the axles of big rigs. A federal Southern California drug task force arrested 18 of the alleged traffickers. The others remain fugitives, including Mexico-based Miguel Angel Molinero-Castro, characterized by prosecutors as the boss of the Molinero organization.
August 10, 2013 | By Jack Leonard and Robert Faturechi
He was already one of the central figures in Los Angeles County's jail scandal when he dropped a bombshell allegation. Weeks after sheriff's officials discovered a cellphone he had smuggled to an inmate who was helping federal authorities investigate alleged deputy abuse, Deputy Gilbert Michel told a sheriff's investigator he knew of four instances of excessive force against inmates. In two of those cases, he implicated himself as an aggressor. Two years later, district attorney's records show that authorities have concluded there is no evidence to corroborate Michel's claims of inmate abuse, and prosecutors have decided against filing charges against the deputies he accused.
July 12, 2013 | By Cindy Carcamo
NOGALES, Ariz. - Gun runners once were so nonchalant about driving into Mexico that one smuggler stashed a .50-caliber rifle on the top of the engine block of a sedan, the weapon visible to anyone who bothered to pop the hood. It was 2010 and word hadn't yet spread that U.S. officials were beefing up outbound inspections, searching for guns that were fueling Mexico's raging drug war. Border agents confiscated the rifle and hundreds of other weapons and ammunition during the first few years of stepped-up enforcement along the southwestern border, federal data show.
July 3, 2013 | By Tony Perry
An ex-Customs and Border Protection officer was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison after being convicted of conspiring to smuggle cocaine and methamphetamine into the U.S. Oscar Ortiz-Martinez, 33, who worked at the Calexico port of entry, was convicted of accepting $22,000 in bribes and attempting to collect $30,000 - all from someone he believed was a drug cartel operative. Instead, the person was an undercover federal agent, prosecutors said. Victor Silva, 33, a co-defendant, pleaded guilty and testified against Ortiz during the trial in San Diego federal court.
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.
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