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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Danilo "Triste" Velasquez and two fellow MS-13 gang members blocked the way of a car carrying four people near the Daly City BART station before opening fire with semi-automatic handguns


The leader of a street gang was convicted by a federal jury Tuesday in connection with the shooting death of a college student, who the killers mistakenly believed was a rival, officials said. Danilo "Triste" Velasquez and two fellow MS-13 gang members blocked the way of a car carrying four people near the Daly City BART station before opening fire with semi-automatic handguns, officials said. When the shooting ended on Feb. 19, 2009, Moises Frias, 21, was dead and two others were wounded. Velasquez was convicted of three counts of conspiracy and a gun charge in San Francisco federal court, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. When he is sentenced Feb. 14, Velasquez faces a mandatory term of 10 years behind bars. Velasquez and his associates targeted the car because one of Frias' companions wore a red sweater and another a red-and-white San Francisco 49ers hat. Red is the color claimed by the shooters' rivals, officials said. None of the victims had any ties to street gangs. "In a hail of gunfire, Mr. Velasquez and his co-conspirators killed and wounded four unarmed individuals -- all in the name of MS-13," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. Co-defendant and fellow MS-13 member, Luis "Killer" Herrera already has pleaded guilty to related charges. He faces a 35-year mandatory term Advertisement when sentenced Jan. 24. Jaime Balam, the other shooting suspect, remains at-large. Federal prosecutors say the killing was part of a string of shootings carried out by or at the order of Velasquez. He assumed leadership after a number of gang leaders were indicted in 2008. The victims in the other shootings survived their wounds. Prosecutors say the only reason more people didn't die in the attack that left Frias dead was because Velasquez's gun repeatedly jammed. Witnesses testified at the four-week trial that Frias begged for his life before he was shot nine times by Balam, including a wound to the head.

The top five members of a violent criminal street gang centered around West 137th Street in Central Harlem, are heading to prison.


 Leader Jaquan Layne, 21, was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison; his brother, Jahlyl Layne, 18, who oversaw sales of crack cocaine, was sentenced to 7½ to 23½ years in prison; Jonathan Hernandez, 19, convicted of a gang-related shooting, was sentenced to 15 years and 2 months to 17 years and 4 months in prison; Habiyb Mohammed, 31, who packaged the crack cocaine, was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison; and Jeffrey Brown, 20, who sold the crack cocaine, was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. “The defendants derailed their lives and the lives of the teens they recruited to join their criminal operation, but the damage they inflicted upon these young people and their surrounding community does not have to be permanent,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.. “The sentences imposed were fair and thoughtful. For some of the 14 defendants in this case, the sentences are not merely punitive – they also make use of alternatives to incarceration and set achievable benchmarks for particular defendants, such as graduating from high school and staying off drugs and out of trouble. On October 20, 2011, a jury in State Supreme Court convicted the defendants – members of crews known as “2 Mafia Family” (2MF or 2DEEP) and “Goons on Deck” (G.O.D) – on charges related to the running of a profitable crack cocaine operation between June 2008 and February 2011. In addition to the possession and sale of crack cocaine, the defendants conspired to possess semiautomatic handguns, revolvers and ammunition in order to maintain their dominance of the geographic area centered on West 137th Street between Lenox and Seventh Avenues, and to discourage incursions by rival street gangs. With this verdict, all 14 defendants who were indicted on related charges have been convicted.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Biker Killing Was a Mistake


Chatting peacefully on the floor of a Nevada casino, a senior Hells Angels leader and a 27-year veteran of the rival Vagos motorcycle gang thought they had negotiated a truce between competing members who'd been itching for a fight at a weekend long biker festival. "Everything is going to be all right," the Vagos member recalls his rival telling him. "He said, 'I'm getting too old for this.' And I said, 'I'm getting too old for this too.'" An hour later, a brawl erupted and a shootout ensued, killing one of the highest-ranking Hells Angels in the country and wounding two Vagos members. More violence has followed the melee at the hotel-casino in Sparks on Sept. 23, but the longtime Vagos member told a grand jury in Reno earlier this month that the deadly gun battle was not part of some assassination plot or formal declaration of war. Rather, he testified under the condition of confidentiality that it was the result of the unauthorized behavior of a drunken, fellow Vagos — a loud-mouthed, loose cannon nicknamed "Jabbers" who provoked the fight that led to the fatal shooting. "Jabbers has a big mouth. He's always had a big mouth," said the witness, who described himself as being in the "higher echelon'" of Vagos leadership "before this event." Jabbers, whose real name is Gary Stuart Rudnick, was the vice president of the Vagos Los Angeles chapter but since has been kicked out of the club, according to the confidential witness. He's one of three men indicted on murder charges in the killing of Jeffrey "Jethro'" Pettigrew, the late president of the Hells Angels San Jose chapter. Rudnick had refused to back down even after national Vagos officers were summoned and talks with Hells Angels' leaders had calmed the volatile situation shortly after 10 p.m., the grand jury witness said. "This was diffused by national," he said. "The national (leaders) went down there and talked to them. Everything was worked out, there was no problems." But about an hour later, Rudnick again was taunting Pettigrew, who the witness said "in the Hells Angels world is one of the most important guys in the United States." Finally, he said Pettigrew had enough and punched Rudnick in the face, touching off a series of fights that led to the gunfire. "All hell broke loose," the witness testified. "Just bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam." Another Vagos, Ernesto Gonzalez, is accused of shooting Pettigrew four times in the back and is being held without bail on an open murder charge. Rudnick and Cesar Villagrana, a Hells Angel member accused of shooting two Vagos that night, face second-degree murder charges for their role in the fracas. "There were so many shots, shots going off through this whole melee," the witness said. "I'm surprised a citizen didn't get shot because anyone could have walked around the corner or walked out of the bathroom and got shot." The 278-page transcript entered into the court record earlier this week offers a look at the mayhem in the jam-packed Nugget hotel-casino shortly before midnight on Sept. 23 — much of it captured on the casino's 448 security cameras. Investigators later retrieved dozens of shell casings and bullets — one lodged in a slot machine, others in bar stools, a card table and a metal poker chip holder.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Watchdog warns over shooting probe


An investigation into the death of Mark Duggan, whose fatal shooting by police triggered riots across the country, has still to establish the sequence of events concerning a handgun found at the scene, the police watchdog said. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said that was a key element in its probe. But it said that the sequence of events was not yet known, despite a report in Saturday's Guardian that the investigation had found no forensic evidence that he was carrying a non-police-issue gun. The newspaper, in a story headlined "Revealed: man whose shooting triggered riots was not armed", said a gun collected by Mr Duggan earlier in the day was recovered 10ft-14ft (3m-4.25m) away, on the other side of a low fence from his body, and that he was killed outside the vehicle he was travelling in, after a police marksman fired twice. On the day Mr Duggan was shot, there is overwhelming evidence that he had obtained a firearm, but the investigation is considering whether he had the weapon in his possession when he was shot, the Guardian said. The IPCC said in a statement on Saturday night that the investigation was examining a range of issues. "This is a complex investigation that involves gathering information including witness statements, pathology, forensics and ballistics analysis and we have stated to the coroner that it will be completed within four to six months," the statement said. "One of the key elements we will seek to establish is the sequence of events concerning the non-police issue firearm found at the scene. That has not been established yet, contrary to what has been written in the Guardian article today. "We would urge people not to rush to judgment until our investigation is complete and they have the opportunity to see and hear the full evidence themselves." The statement said the IPCC believes the headline on the Guardian's article was "misleading, speculative and wholly irresponsible".

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Rio de Janeiro’s most wanted drugs baron who controlled the drug trade in South America’s biggest favela with fear and intimidation for 30 years has been arrested

Pictures showed Lopes, 35, looking anguished in handcuffs as he was led to an armoured vehicle by heavily-armed police
Rio de Janeiro’s most wanted drugs baron who controlled the drug trade in South America’s biggest favela with fear and intimidation for 30 years has been arrested after a high risk undercover police operation.  Photo: AP
Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, known as Nem, was captured after being discovered hiding in the boot of a car stopped at a roadblock, as police surrounded the sprawling Rocinha shanty-town in an attempt finally to wrest back control of the area.

Pictures showed Lopes, 35, looking anguished in handcuffs as he was led to an armoured vehicle by heavily-armed police following his arrest at around midnight on Wednesday.

Brazilian police said the man driving the car had claimed to be a Congolese diplomat in an attempt to avoid the vehicle being searched before the occupants offered a bribe of one million Brazilian reais (£357,000) for police to let them go.

Residents of Rocinha and wealthy neighbouring districts alike were gripped by fear amid concerns that the operation could lead to open street battles between police and criminal gangs armed with machine guns, assault rifles and grenades.

Twelve families were reportedly forced from their houses in the night by gang members who wanted to use them as hideouts, while children who attend schools in the area were being excused from lessons.

Wife of murdered Liverpool gangster Colin Smith appeals for information four years on


THE wife of a Liverpool gangster who was shot dead outside a gym four years ago today called for his killers to be brought to justice. Caroline Smith made a public appeal for information on the anniversary of the death of husband and dad-of-six Colin Smith. He was gunned down as he left Nel’s Gym, in Alderwood Road, Speke, on Tuesday November 13, 2007. Caroline, who was with her husband for 13 years and had four sons aged between seven and 12 with him, said: “It has been four years since Colin was murdered and I cannot rest until the people who carried out this cowardly attack on my husband are caught and put before the courts. “I am convinced there are people out there who know who killed Colin and I cannot understand how they can stand by and say nothing. They are as cowardly as the person who pulled the trigger. “Our worlds were turned upside down the night Colin was killed and I ask anyone who has any information which could lead to the arrest of those responsible to contact the police, so we as a family can find some closure.” On the night of his death, 40-year-old Mr Smith, a passionate Evertonian, took his eldest son to football training. Police believe he was “lured” to the gym, in Alderwood Avenue, for the attack. As he left the gym at about 8pm to return to his black Ford Galaxy car, he was shot twice at close-range in the stomach. It was believed to be a gangland hit. Officers today appealed to anyone who was in the area at the time who may have seen anything which could help inquiries to come forward.

jailed for 30 years for gunning down a rival drug dealer outside Wandsworth Prison in South London

Last week Rupert Ross, son of a Kings Road boutique owner, was jailed for 30 years for gunning down a rival drug dealer outside Wandsworth Prison in South London. In the days that followed the killing – with the police on his trail and his best friend already dead in a revenge shooting – 30-year-old Ross befriended investigative journalist Wensley Clarkson and in a series of videotaped interviews talked about the murder, his privileged background and the terrifying world of drugs, guns and gangs.

Holding court: Waring a T-shirt for his interview with Wensley Clarkson, Rupert Ross seemed since but described the gang world with cold relish

Holding court: Waring a T-shirt for his interview with Wensley Clarkson, Rupert Ross seemed since but described the gang world with cold relish

On the face of it, the young man who strode into a restaurant near my house in Fulham, West London, in early summer 2009 couldn’t have been further from the stereotypical gang member.

Casually dressed in jeans and a faded T-shirt, Rupert Ross had neatly cropped hair, an athletic build and a soft voice that veered between the well modulated tones of the privately educated middle-class boy he once was and the multi-racial street slang of the inner city. 

Ross had approached me out of the blue through a contact to discuss being filmed for a TV documentary on street gangs. He earned his living running the drug trade on Fulham’s Clem Attlee council estate.

I was wary at first. But the fact that he was a near neighbour of mine fuelled my curiosity.

A week of promised meetings followed, but Ross never materialised. Through a go-between, I was accused of being an undercover policeman – a tricky situation only remedied when I was given a ‘clean bill of health’ by local criminals I’d written about in the past.

Eventually, I met Ross and the ‘middle man’. Ross insisted on sitting with his back to the wall of the restaurant with a clear view of the front entrance ‘in case anyone I don’t like walks in’. 

Fulham had been abuzz with talk of the gangland execution of 20-year-old drug dealer Darcy Austin-Bruce and a retribution killing a few days later. 



It was only when Ross began to talk that I gradually realised he could be Austin-Bruce’s killer.

He was calm and eloquent and looked very different from the hard-nosed criminal mugshot that was released after his Old Bailey conviction last week. He seemed thoughtful, likeable and sincere, but veered alarmingly from talking about going straight to describing the gang world with cold, almost detached relish.

Chameleon: Ross looked like the ex-public schoolboy he was, when dressed in a smart shirt on his way to court

Chameleon: Ross looked like the ex-public schoolboy he was, when dressed in a smart shirt on his way to court

‘It’s kill or be killed out here in the real world,’ he told me. ‘Anything I’ve dealt with, I’ve dealt with myself. Death is part of my business. I’m the one selling drugs on that estate. No one else had the right to do so and sometimes people have to die if they get in the way.’

I shifted a bit uncomfortably as Ross spoke about murder and gang ‘law’. Not through any fear for my own safety – I’d already been assured I was nothing more than a harmless ‘civilian’ – rather by the proximity of this ruthless subculture to my own middle-class neighbourhood.

‘Without a gun, I feel naked. I feel vulnerable,’ he told me. ‘There is a bullet out there with my name on it. What will be, will be.’

His mother, I learned, is Diana Lank, the hard-working and popular 55-year-old owner of the quirky Kings Road boutique Ad Hoc, who doted on Rupert and paid for him to go to a series of expensive private schools – including the £30,000-a-year Dulwich College. His grandfather is Herbert Lank, a retired Cambridge don and internationally renowned art restorer. A step aunt is the eminently respectable barrister Susan Rodway QC.

Quirky: Ad Hoc, the Kings Road boutique run by Ross' mother Diana Lank

Quirky: Ad Hoc, the Kings Road boutique run by Ross' mother Diana Lank

Ross told me he wanted to speak out as a warning to youngsters. But it became clear that he really wanted to unburden himself about the murder of a former drug-dealing friend turned mortal enemy.

He said: ‘The word is that I’ve killed the guy. People are saying I was the shooter. I’ve got people out to kill me. Apparently it is my fault he’s dead. But he had many enemies. He was out of control. He didn’t really care whose feet he trod on.’

People may wonder why I didn’t go to the police after I met Ross, but he had made it clear to me from the start that he was not running away from them and he would face up to what he had done when they charged him.

I don’t believe my interviews with him would have made any impact on their investigation at the time, as a contact told me murder squad detectives were seeking tangible, forensic evidence of his involvement rather than the content of a filmed interview.But I would have been more than happy to help them with their enquiries if they had come to me, as any law-abiding citizen would have been.

As his trial revealed, a few days before our meeting, but unknown to me at the time, Ross had dressed in a smart suit to look like a visiting lawyer and gunned down his rival in front of a crowd of women and children outside Wandsworth Prison.

He was clearly troubled by the incident, depsite the fact that in the months before the shooting, Austin-Bruce had kidnapped, stabbed and tortured Ross and fired shots at his car.

During that first meeting, Ross made it clear that the execution – Austin-Bruce was shot five times – was intended to send out a clear message. ‘I was the main man – the guy in charge,’ Ross boasted.

‘I controlled all the drugs on the estate. Nothing went in or out without my say-so. Sure I was motivated by money and power. I had a twisted sense of right and wrong but I knew that it was an unfair world. Some were born with a silver spoon like me and others had nothing.’

Now he knew the police were on his trail. He believed he’d either be arrested or would die at the hands of a rival gangster. ‘There’s no point in running from the law. They’ll find you in the end,’ he told me.

Privileged: Teachers at Dulwich College told Ross' mother he was 'highly intelligent but often played truant', his friends described him as a a 'wannabe gangster'

Privileged: Teachers at Dulwich College told Ross' mother he was 'highly intelligent but often played truant', his friends described him as a a 'wannabe gangster'

The Clem Attlee estate is a brutalist Sixties council project, just a stone’s throw from the million-pound houses of the well-heeled Fulham middle classes – including his own childhood home, where his mother still lives.

Friends say that when Ross was ten his father committed suicide, and that this had a ‘profound effect on him’, making him unruly and difficult.

But the Rupert Ross I met steadfastly refused to blame the tragedy on a chain of events that friends and family later claimed left him acting a ‘fantasy’ life as if he was a character from gangster films.

Ross himself told me: ‘Knowing my mum thinks I am a killer is so hard. She brought me up well but I was my own man from a very young age.

‘All the advantages in the world would never have stopped me from going on this path. It’s not her fault I am what I am.’

Chilling: Ross' mug shot, he told Wensley Clarkson he felt 'naked and vulnerable' without a gun

Chilling: Ross' mug shot, he told Wensley Clarkson he felt 'naked and vulnerable' without a gun

One relative said: ‘His mother probably knows in her heart of hearts that Rupert’s guilty, but it’s hard for any mother to accept. She has tried her hardest to bring up Rupert responsibly but he was often on his own while she was out working, and inevitably he started to hang out with kids from the Clem Attlee estate.

‘She tried to make sure any man she had a relationship with would be some sort of role model to him, which makes his career in crime all the more surprising. It’s hard to equate the vicious gangster with the polite, gentle character we all know.’

Teachers at Dulwich College told Ross’s mother that her son was highly intelligent but often a truant. Contemporaries remember him as a ‘wannabe gangster’ who was expelled for taking drugs.

Ross himself told me that he hated school. ‘I just didn’t need it. I was ready to be out on the streets working for myself from a very young age.’

Before he had even hit his teens, Ross had started a gang, and was walking the streets of West London with a knife ‘for self protection’. They stole and sold car radios.

‘That was my first taste of crime and I liked it,’ he said. ‘It seemed easy to me. I had found myself a new family on the estate and they were from a much harder world than I was used to but I mixed easily with them. It was as if I had found my place in life.

‘Sure, there was rage in me. I wanted to be someone. I started using violence to get my way and it was kind of infectious. Then I started having guns, and everything just went crazy from there.’

At the age of 17, Ross took over an empty flat on the Clem Attlee estate and set himself up as the area’s main drug supplier, ruthlessly controlling the estate’s burgeoning drug trade. He had already become addicted to cocaine and cannabis and had been convicted of the first of a series of crimes which was to include burglary, theft and drugs possession.

It was a world where mobile phones were changed every week to avoid detection. And guns were also an everyday part of that lifestyle.

Respectable: Eminent barrister Susan Rodway QC is Ross' step aunt

Respectable: Eminent barrister Susan Rodway QC is Ross' step aunt

‘I always had a piece on me and in that flat I would watch any customers approaching with them in the sights of my gun – just in case they turned out to be the enemy. I even shot at one guy I didn’t know when he came up to my front door. Dunno if I hit him but he never came back. That sent a message out to my enemies.’

Following his murder of Austin-Bruce, Ross had decided not to carry a weapon because he was under constant police surveillance.

He told me: ‘Without a gun, I feel naked. I feel vulnerable. If someone walked in here now, I’d be a sitting duck. But the police are watching me as we speak.’ He pointed. ‘They are there, across the street.’

Sure enough, there were two men in a Vauxhall estate car just opposite the restaurant.

‘I can’t afford to be found with a gun now. At the moment, they have no evidence to link me to the killing.’

It would be almost another year before Ross was charged with the murder of Austin-Bruce. Yet the murder had clearly affected him. He admitted in one candid moment: ‘It’s made me rethink everything. It’s madness out there and I got caught up in it all. I wouldn’t want anyone to take my path. It can only end in death and destruction.’

He even claimed (and I believe him) that he’d presented himself at a local volunteer centre where he wanted to help teenagers to escape a culture of drug-dealing, robbery and violence.

‘I want to help these kids avoid the pitfalls,’ he said. ‘I know better than anyone how easy it is to get sucked in. It really was a case of kill or be killed. I want to get away from that world now but I fear I may have left it too late.’

A week after that first meeting, I got a panicky call from the ‘middle man’ saying that Ross wanted me to film him immediately ‘because he’s not sure how much longer he will be around’.

By now he was so afraid of meeting in public that I agreed he could come to my home. It was there, with a camera rolling, that he told me of the revenge killing of his best friend Anthony Otton on the night of Austin-Bruce’s funeral.

‘I was sitting inside a friend’s house when my best friend went outside to go home. I heard gunshots followed by a loud panicked knock on the door. I opened the door and my best friend fell to the floor. He’d been shot in the chest.

‘The shooter then came behind him, shot through the door and ran off with no mask on. My best friend died there in the hallway. He only got hit once in the chest but it hit his main artery and it killed him.’

Much to the frustration of police investigators, Ross refused to identify the man who shot dead his best friend. The case remains unsolved.

Ross’s family include pillars of society from high-flying lawyers to academics, a hypnotherapist and even a Government drugs adviser. Contrary to some reports, his grandfather and step aunt Ms Rodway have rallied round his mother and given their full support.

His family is deeply worried that Ross may be a target in prison. ‘Rupert has a price on his head. We all know that,’ a relative told me.

Ross himself told me: ‘Prison doesn’t scare me. I’ll make it work for me just like everything else in my life.

‘I don’t really fear anything any more. Not even death.

‘I suppose in some ways I am emotionally dead. But the life I’ve led has made me that way. I wouldn’t have survived even this long if I’d let it all get to me.’

The last time I saw Rupert Ross was a couple of days before he was arrested. He knew it was coming. His voice shook as we talked briefly on a street corner. He wore a hood and looked a haunted man. He told me: ‘I can’t help you any more.’

With that he walked away. I knew I’d never see him again.

small-time drug dealer was tortured, killed and his body dismembered into six pieces 'behind closed doors' by a brutal drug gang

small-time drug dealer was tortured, killed and his body dismembered into six pieces 'behind closed doors' by a brutal drug gang, a court heard yesterday. 

Adam Vincent, 33, was shot with air rifle pellets and savagely punched and kicked in the weeks before his gruesome death.  

The gang then scattered his body parts in waterways across Lincolnshire, Sheffield Crown Court was told. 

Adam Vincent's head, right arm and right leg were found in the River Ancholme, near Brigg in June

Discovery: Adam Vincent's head, right arm and right leg were found in the River Ancholme, near Brigg in June, pictured

His severed leg was found sticking out of the water by birdwatchers at Tetney Lock near Cleethorpes on March 3 this year. 

After a police investigation two other parts were recovered and his head, right arm and right leg were found in the River Ancholme, near Brigg in June. 

Prosecutor Tom Bayliss QC said the five-strong gang believed Mr Vincent had stolen £5,000 from them and 'grassed' them up to the police.

The court heard Mr Vincent was a heroin addict and sold 'wraps' for the gang in return for using some of the drug himself.



At the time of his death he was living with the gang whose headquarters was based in a small bungalow in Scartho, Grimsby. 

Grimsby men Lee Griffiths, 43, his sons Thomas, 22, and Luke, 19, Lee's stepson Mark Jackson, 27, and Matthew Frow, 32, all deny murder between February 26 and March 4. 

They also deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by concealing Mr Vincent's dismembered body between the same dates along with Andrew Lusher, 43, also from Grimsby, who is alleged to have hired the van used to dispose of the body. 

Mr Vincent's severed leg was found sticking out of the water by birdwatchers at Tetney Lock near Cleethorpes, pictured, on March 3 this year

Mr Vincent's severed leg was found sticking out of the water by birdwatchers at Tetney Lock near Cleethorpes, pictured, on March 3 this year

The three Griffiths and Mark Jackson further deny conspiracy to supply heroin between December 1, 2010 to March 7, 2011. 

Frow admits conspiracy to supply the Class A drug. 

Mr Bayliss said Mr Vincent was a close associate of the five men charged with murder. 

He did small-time drug dealing on their behalf and 'it was the gang he was associated with that killed him.' 

Three weeks before Mr Vincent's body was found three of the gang were arrested for drugs offences by police then released.

'Birdwatchers chanced on the leg just hours after it had been dumped'

Officers searched the bungalow, which is owned by Lee Griffiths, and where Mr Vincent had been living. 

Mr Bayliss said Lee Griffiths believed Mr Vincent had given information to the police and had stolen £5,000 and drugs from them. 

The gang began a 'sustained physical assault' on Mr Vincent and the violence continued for a fortnight ultimately leading to his death.

A post mortem showed Mr Vincent died from a blunt force trauma to the head. He had been struck at least three times with a weapon. 

Mr Vincent was last seen alive on February 27 and the following day it is claimed that one of the gang sent a text to his girlfriend which implied Adam Vincent had been killed. 

His body was dismembered after his death and a van, organised by Lusher, was allegedly used to dispose of it. 

The birdwatchers chanced on the leg just hours after it had been dumped.

Prosecutor Tom Bayliss QC told Sheffield Crown Court, pictured, the five-strong gang believed Mr Vincent had stolen £5,000 from them and 'grassed' them up to the police

Prosecutor Tom Bayliss QC told Sheffield Crown Court, pictured, the five-strong gang believed Mr Vincent had stolen £5,000 from them and 'grassed' them up to the police


Mr Bayliss said: 'Adam Vincent was killed behind closed doors by this gang. 

'All five of the defendants were participating in a joint enterprise which led to Adam Vincent's death.'

He said it was difficult to identify individual acts of violence but the prosecution claim anyone involved in it is guilty of murder even if they were not present when the fatal blow was delivered.

The court heard three of the gang were arrested for suspected drugs offences and the bungalow was searched. Drug paraphernalia was seized along with an air rifle on February 11.

Pellets matched to the rifle were found in Mr Vincent's body. 

Mr Bayliss said: 'Even before this one of the things that was happening was that Mr Vincent had been shot in the body by this a air rifle.

'It would have caused pain and injury. It was an indication of how he was being treated. 

'Mr Vincent's father Keith visited his son who was in hospital with pneumonia in late January. Mr Vincent told his dad he had had enough of his drug-taking lifestyle.'

'He said: ''I want to get away but they won't let me. I need to sort some issues out first.'

'He later added: 'You don't know these people. I'm trying to get it all sorted.''

Mr Vincent discharged himself against medical advice and was probably killed three weeks later. 

Mr Bayliss said witnesses spoke of how Mr Vincent would tell of being beaten up and how 'they couldn't let him go because he knew too much.' 

When Mr Vincent stole the money from the gang he was given 'a bit of a kicking' and was tied up in the house, it was alleged. 

Another witness said Lee Griffiths was becoming 'paranoid' about heroin going missing from the house and suspected Mr Vincent had been stealing it. 

The court heard that as early as January Mr Vincent was seen with a black eye and Thomas Griffiths was bragging he had shot him. 

A few days before Mr Vincent was killed Thomas Griffiths was seen to punch him in the face in the house and Luke Griffiths kicked him in the side while his father held a knife to Mr Vincent's throat. 

The victim was later seen in pain and by February 26 was described as having a 'shocking' appearance by a witness at a supermarket.

He was walking with a limp and had cuts all over his face.

'His facial expression according to a security guard was one of terror,' said Mr Bayliss. 

The hearing, which is expected to last at least six weeks, continues.

IT’S prison or death out there. I’ve seen people get stabbed and my friend was shot dead last year... I was lucky it didn’t happen to me


“IT’S prison or death out there. I’ve seen people get stabbed and my friend was shot dead last year... I was lucky it didn’t happen to me.”

These are the chilling words of a 19-year-old Birmingham gang member who once roamed the streets of Lozells, selling drugs and fighting with rivals over territory.

He has since left that dark and dangerous life behind him and is on course to become a PE teacher.

Now he has helped make an award-winning film aimed at warning the next generation of the dangers of gangs.

It is being shown in schools across Birmingham to children the same age he was when he became involved.

Today, the teenager lifts the lid on the closed world of gang culture in our second city.

But even now he cannot be named for fear of retribution from the people he once saw as ‘family’.

“It started when we were at high school,” he told the Sunday Mercury.

“I was part of a group of friends who came together and decided no-one would trouble us if we had any problems. There were probably about 20 of us in Lozells and Aston.

“Back then, it felt more like a family than a gang.

‘‘You do everything with your gang.

“If you go to the city centre or something like the bonfire at Pype Hayes, you wouldn’t go on your own, you’d go with 20 or 30 people so you were safe.

“If we saw other gangs there would be a fight. And that could escalate really easily.

“Luckily, I was never a person to get stabbed but I’ve seen things like that and it’s not nice.

‘‘My friend was also shot and killed last year. He was just in a car; it was a long-term rivalry; they pulled up next to him and shot him.

“In the back of your mind you know you don’t want to be in that environment, but you’re probably safer with your friends than without them.

“If you get caught slipping by going somewhere and another gang sees you, you’re liable, They don’t care whether you’re still in the gang or not.”


Yet what started out as friends sticking up for each other quickly changed into criminal behaviour as the teen’s gang began selling drugs to make money.

The wannabe teacher, who was once cautioned for possession of cannabis, added: “The aim was just to survive and to make money to live life.

“Everyone was selling it for someone else and just trying to make a bit for themselves.

“We would sell whatever drugs the buyer wanted really, if people want something you’ll end up trying to sell it.”

And he claimed his young gang members were led further astray by older kids who thrive on street violence.

“Peer pressure plays a big part,” he added.

“There were older figures but we never saw them as leaders. We saw them as older brothers. That’s the influence they had on us.

“There was loads of people our age with nothing to do. We were all young and easily influenced by the older generation.

“They used to say it was ‘robbery season’ where everything you want, you get. If you want a phone, you go and rob a phone.

‘‘It was callous and evil.”

And as the gang got older, the trouble they got into became more serious.

“I think half of our gang ended up in jail,” added the 19-year-old.

“That’s for everything from drugs to violence to robbery.

Police wrest control of Rio's largest slum


Crack police forces were Sunday in full control of Rio's largest favela after launching a dawn assault to eject narco-traffickers who had been ruling the area for 30 years. "I have the pleasure to inform you that Rocinha and Vidigal (a neighbouring favela) are under our control. There were no incidents and no shots were fired. We don't have any information on arrests or weapons seized," Alberto Pinheiro Neto, chief of the military police, told a news conference. "The communities have been our control since (1900 AEDT) and we are withdrawing our armour and, in 45 minutes, we will reopen the streets," which had been closed since 0400 GMT ahead of the operation. Advertisement: Story continues below Built on a steep hillside overlooking the city and located between two wealthy neighbourhoods, Rocinha is home to 120,000 people. The long-anticipated operation in a city that has one of the highest murder rates in the country is part of an official campaign since 2008 to restore security in Rio before the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, which Brazil will host. Backed by navy armour and commandos and with two helicopters flying low overhead, hundreds of special forces police and 200 navy commandos punched their way into Rocinha and Vidigal at dawn. "The arrival of the UPP (a police unit set up to pacify the favelas) will be positive for the new generations to put an end to narco-trafficking. I want my sons to stay away from trafficking," said 51-year-old Carlos Alberto, who was one of the few Rocinha residents willing to speak to the press. But not everyone supported the police operation. A few women were seen crying. All access to the two favelas has been blocked since 2.30am (1102 AEDT). Earlier three vehicles blocked one of the avenues in the upper part of Rocinha. Dozens of policemen in the perimeter asked journalists present in the area to remain behind as they fanned out in the narrow alleys. Streets were deserted, with only a few residents watching from their windows as the troops made their advance. "We hope the pacification will not be just about ejecting the drug traffickers but also to bring sanitation, education, health," said community leader Raimundo Benicio de Souda, 4known as Lima. "There are people living (here) among cockroaches, urinating and defecating in a can," Lima told AFP, adding that for this reason "the pacification must have these people as a priority". William de Oliveira, president of the Favelas People's Movement, wearing a shirt with the inscription "I love Rocinha, said: "We want the people to be treated with dignity, respect, that those who have been involved in crimes be jailed but not assassinated" by police." Authorities estimate that about 200 criminals remained inside Rocinha following last week's capture of local drug kingpin Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, also known as Nem. Nem was caught hidden in the trunk of a car, along with several accomplices and a few corrupt policemen who were protecting them. Nem was a model employee of a telecom company who "stumbled" into organised crime after getting a loan from a former Rocinha drug baron to pay for medical care for one of his daughters. To pay back his debts, he reportedly began dealing drugs and later took over as chief of the gang which controls Rocinha. The capture of Rocinha, the 19th favela to be pacified by police, recalled the huge operation launched by joint police and military forces to seize control of Rio's Alemao favela, home to 400,000 people in November 2010. Alemao was retaken after three days of clashes that left 37 people dead. Since Friday, heavily armed police had been besieging Rocinha, checking all cars going or leaving the area. Endemic and chronic urban violence has long tarnished the image of Rio, where more than 1.5 million people live in 1,000 slums spread throughout the city.

Cody Lumpkin is a 7-4 soulja till da end


Cody Lumpkin is a 7-4 soulja till da end. Or, in gangster-speak, he’ll be a Gangster Disciple until he dies. That’s how the 21-year-old Athens man shows himself to the world on his Facebook page, replete with photos of him flashing gang signs, posing with guns, bragging about money and disrespecting women. Whether or not he’s a genuine member of the notorious Gangster Disciples street gang, Lumpkin played the part last weekend when, police say, he killed a man with a gunshot to the head. The shooting happened Sunday night at Rolling Ridge Apartments off Kathwood Drive, where Jeremy Sean Buchanan was shot and killed by Lumpkin in an apparent robbery, which police said also was drug-related. “Cody Lumpkin gives every appearance of being a gang member,” said Robert Walker, a nationally-known gang expert who analyzed Lumpkin’s Facebook page Friday. He never directly states he’s a member of a gang, but Lumpkin uses what gang investigators call alpha-numeric code to tell people who he is. According to Walker and other gang experts, when Lumpkin wrote he is “7-4,” the corresponding letters are G and D, for Gangster Disciple. Also on his Facebook page, Lumpkin lists a well-known Gangster Disciple “prayer” as his favorite quote: “When i die $how no pity $end my $oul 2 6angsta city, dig a hole 6 feet deep and lay 2 $taffs acro$ my feet, lay 2 $hotguns acro$ my che$t and tell King Hoover i did my be$t.” He replaces the “G” in gangster with a six, because the Gangster Disciple’s symbol is a six-pointed star. The ode also pays tribute to the Chicago-based gang’s founder, Larry Hoover. “I see pictures of him with his friends, and everybody’s flashing signs, there’s weapons involved, so, yeah, I’d say he’s a gang-banger,” said Walker, a former agent with the U.S. Border Control and Drug Enforcement Administration who trains law enforcement agencies and others in gang awareness. Walker’s consulting firm, Gangs Or Us, maintains a website to educate the public, and another that only can be accessed by law enforcement officers to share gang intelligence. Just because a group calls itself the Gangster Disciples, Crips, Bloods or Latin Kings doesn’t mean they are affiliated with those national criminal synidicates, according to Sgt. Christopher Nichols, an Athens-Clarke police gang investigator. “The criminal street gangs most prevalent in the state of Georgia, to include Athens, are hybrid gangs or, as I like to call them, homegrown gangs” that adopt the names of the well-known gangs, Nichols said. They can be just as dangerous. “Though hybrid gangs may not pay dues to larger organizations, it does not mean that they are not the ‘real deal,’ ” Nichols said. “Hybrid gangs commit the same types of crimes as the traditional street gangs, but not on as large of a scale.” Some young men band together in gangs for a sense of belonging, a feeling they don’t get from their own families when there’s no parental guidance, Nichols said, or they bow to peer pressure. “They may have been exposed to it by other family members, they may have friends that are associated with criminal street gangs, or it may start out as youth without proper direction becoming involved in criminal activity,” Nichols said. Once a young man joins a gang, starts carrying guns, covers his body with tattoos and adopts the other trappings of a gangster, he might be on a path where violence is inevitable. “There is a saying, ‘You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?’ ” Nichols said. “No one likes to be called out or challenged. If a person portrays that they are ‘hard,’ then they cannot allow someone to embarrass them, especially in front of a group. “The person feels obligated to fulfill whatever image they have presented so that they are not all show,” he said. The violence sometimes turns deadly, according to Walker. “People who never thought they’d be killing someone find that once in a gang they are expected to kill,” he said. People have banded into small gangs for generations in Athens, usually groups that identified themselves either with the Eastside or Westside. But technology has made it easy for teens to learn the lingo of the big-time gangs, according to Nichols. “If a person wants to know something about gang culture, they can simply look it up on the Internet, view videos, print pictures and download reading material,” he said. “Technology has increased the rate of learning for those wanting to delve into the criminal street gang world.” Athens-Clarke police didn’t publicly acknowledge the community had a gang problem until 2004, when a duplex off North Avenue was raked with gunfire in a drive-by shooting to settle a beef between rival Hispanic gangs. But Jean Turner Horton literally saw the writing on the wall as early at 1999 when, as a state probation officer, she began snapping photos of gang graffiti on public housing. One photo depicted a six-pointed star with a “G” in the middle, a tag associated with the Gangster Disciples. Horton brought the photos to the Athens Housing Authority, which immediately adopted a zero-tolerance policy for gang activity. Since that drive-by, which wounded three men, Athens-Clarke police began taking measures to fight back, including graffiti eradication, collecting gang intelligence and requiring officers to undergo gang recognition training. “I’m really glad that Athens finally recognized it had a problem,” Horton said. “I can drive through Athens and not notice graffiti on the walls anymore.” Last year, an officer on patrol came across strange writings on the wall of a vacant house in West Athens that would be mumbo-jumbo to a lay person, but he recognized it for what it was. In one message on the wall, the tagger referred to a “Slob” — a derogatory term for a Bloods gang member — and replaced the “ck” in a profane word with “cc,” since the letters CK mean Crip killer in gang graffiti. Police didn’t believe the writings were made by genuine Crips, but found it disturbing nonetheless. “Anytime there’s gang tagging going on it’s of concern to the police department because it means they are trying to identify certain areas of the county and claim it as their territory,” Athens-Clarke Assistant Police Chief Tim Smith said. Walker was impressed with how far Athens-Clarke police have come in identifying gang activity and learning ways to suppress it. “Gangs are here to stay, and that’s why it’s important for police departments to take action, like getting proper training and arresting gang members,” he said. “We’ll cure cancer before we solve the gang problem.” Police will not discuss Cody Lumpkin’s possible gang ties while his murder charge is pending. But his gangster lifestyle shows how the problem can be just out of sight, until a tragic crime again brings it into the forefront. “There will always be things happening that the police do not know about,” Nichols said. That’s why the police need the help of others, including the schools, churches, community organizations and individual residents, he said. “Only by working together as a community can problems such as theft, drugs and gang violence be curtailed,” Nichols said. People who are suspicious of gang activity should report it immediately, he said. Athens-Clarke police also offers a gang-awareness presentation, and Nichols urged people who have questions about street gangs to call the police department.

Gang member gets 21 years in prison


Gang banger was sentenced Wednesday in Norfolk federal court to 21 years in prison for participating in a pattern of racketeering activity, including a home invasion and conspiring to distribute controlled substances, and possession of a firearm in a crime of violence. According to court documents, in the summer of 2006, Darren Antoine Pollard, 35, and other members of the Bounty Hunter Bloods/Nine Tech Gangsters executed a home invasion in Portsmouth. Pollard was familiar with some of the individuals who lived at the home, because he worked with them in the past. Pollard and other gang members had attended a party at the home the night of the home invasion, a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Wild gang fight in US emergency room


A WILD gang fight involving at least a dozen thugs in a Bronx hospital emergency room ended in bloodshed when one gang member pulled a gun and began firing - wounding two hospital employees, police sources told the New York Post. Bullets ricocheted in the packed ER waiting room - with many children nearby - at Bronx Lebanon Hospital about 7:00pm local time. A 42-year-old security guard took a bullet in the groin and a 37-year-old male nurse was hit in the shoulder. "I heard the shots, three of them, pop, pop, pop," said nurse's aide Joi Cummings. "It was just chaos, total chaos. Everyone was running. I saw a security guard on the stretcher. "It's so sad. You go to a hospital to get help, you don't think you're going to get shot." The incident stemmed from a long-standing beef between members of the Riverpark Towers Crew (RPT) and their Burnside Money Getters rivals, police sources said. Related Coverage Two wounded in emergency room shooting Herald Sun, 2 days ago UK looks to US after riots Foundation, 10 days ago Judge 'to be in a coma for days' The Daily Telegraph, 1 Sep 2011 Authorities 'in denial' on gangs Herald Sun, 22 Aug 2011 Casualty a gang battleground Herald Sun, 20 Aug 2011 A member of RPT was being treated for a gash below his eye from a fight earlier in the day when he was alerted that guys from both gangs were in the waiting room, sources said. Police were questioning several people last night, but the shooter had escaped, sources said. No one had been charged by early today and the gun was not recovered. A hospital spokesman said employees "were able to stop the situation from progressing" because of their quick intervention.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

New Orleans homicide rate is 10 times the national average. But gangs and drugs don't explain it.

New Orleans

At half-past midnight, as Halloween stretched into All Saints Day, a thick crowd of revelers was milling around the corner of Bourbon and St. Louis streets in New Orleans' famed French Quarter when a series of gun shots erupted. On security footage later released by police, the crowd scattered as suddenly as a school of bait fish at the approach of a barracuda.

But for eight in the crowd it wasn't quick enough. Seven were wounded and one, 25-year-old Albert Glover, the target of the attacker, died on the scene.

Just over an hour later and six blocks away, gunfire rang out again. This time Joshua Lewis, 19, and three other teenagers were cut down in a fusillade of 32 bullets fired by a single assailant following a brief altercation. Lewis later died at a local hospital. In all 16 people were shot in New Orleans on Halloween night, a butcher's bill that shook even the jaded citizens of America's deadliest city.

The violence left New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas strapped to the hot seat. Appointed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu in May of 2010, Mr. Serpas—the former police chief of Nashville, Tenn.—came into office vowing to stem a tide of violent crime and reform what he called "one of the most dysfunctional police departments in American history." In Mr. Serpas's first 18 months more than 60 officers have been fired or have resigned under investigation, including members of the department's top brass. Overall, nearly 200 officers have left for a variety of reasons.

Over the same period, the city's murder rate has risen. As of this week, 164 homicides have been committed in New Orleans in 2011, on pace to eclipse last year's total of 172. To put that number in perspective, New York City, with more than 20 times the population of New Orleans, had 536 murders last year. If New York had New Orleans's homicide rate, more than 4,000 people would have been murdered there last year, about 11 every day.

In response to public outcry over the bloodshed, Mr. Serpas has offered a plethora of reform ideas. His public statements are peppered with references to his 65-point plan to remake the department, the adoption of crime-interdiction strategies such as Project Safe Neighborhoods, and enhanced community policing efforts to help repair the police department's tattered image.

Associated Press

The French Quarter in New Orleans

With his outlines, flow charts and ready recitation of reams of statistics, Mr. Serpas sounds every inch the embodiment of a modern police commander. Early in his tenure such proficiency was a welcome change from the questionable competence of his predecessors. But as the murders have persisted and department morale has sagged, his penchant for data-speak has worn thin on the citizenry.

To be fair, from the outset Mr. Serpas has been somewhat circumspect about his department's ability to reduce homicides. When pressed he is apt to say things like there is no "silver bullet" and he comes close at times to suggesting that the murder epidemic is beyond his power to stem—a point which, whatever its accuracy, does not instill confidence in a traumatized populace.

At a city council hearing following the Halloween shootings, Mr. Serpas was pressed to identify the source of the murder problem. Were more police the solution? Not really, he responded. He's brought in nationally recognized researchers to advise the department on the root of the murder problem, but they didn't have any easy answers: "People who've studied homicide their whole life say 'Why is that number that way?'" he told the council.

In March, the Justice Department (which is negotiating a consent decree regarding court supervision of the New Orleans Police Department) released an analysis of the city's crime problem that did contain some insights. Contrary to popular perception, it found that New Orleans' overall crime rate—including its rate of violent crime—is lower than that of other cities of comparable size. It's even lower than the crime rate in such family-friendly destinations as Orlando, Fla.

But that news comes with a giant caveat: The Big Easy's homicide rate (52 homicides per 100,000 residents) is 10 times higher than the national average and almost five times that of other cities of its size.

Why is the city such a murder outlier? In many jurisdictions, the Justice Department notes, gangs and drugs are principal drivers of the murder rate. Not so in New Orleans, which has comparatively little gang activity or organized violence related to the drug trade. Nor do the killings tend to happen in back alleys or vacant buildings as they often do in other places. More often they occur in residential neighborhoods in close proximity to witnesses. And more often the motivation is not random robbery, but revenge or argument.

In short, the killing in New Orleans is personal. "What appear to be different about homicides in New Orleans are the circumstances of the events," Justice Department investigators noted. "In reading the narratives of the offenses, one is struck by their ordinariness—arguments and disputes that escalate into homicide."

This presents Mr. Serpas and his troops with a different sort of policing challenge. Law enforcement can disrupt gangs and target drug kingpins. But what does it do about a culture in which Glocks have become the preferred tool for settling petty disputes?

The word Mr. Serpas and other officials frequently invoke to describe their approach is "holistic," a term more commonly associated with ashrams and yoga gurus than big city cops. But at bottom, the superintendent insists, the bloodshed in New Orleans isn't going to be solved just by putting more cops on the beat or cracking down on minor violators. After all, Mr. Serpas noted, the Halloween night shooting of eight people on Bourbon Street happened with policemen standing a few feet away from the gunman. "It did not make a difference in this young man's mind."

Changing the mindset of young men who settle beefs with bullets is a tall order for any community. To make an enduring dent in the murder rate, the cops will need to get into the neighborhoods, at a granular level, using street intelligence, diversion programs and targeted sweeps on a sustained level. And even then, breaking the city's crippling culture of violence will take more than a reformed police force can provide.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

A member of the Hells Angels biker gang, Mazdak Fabricius, is accused of the murder, which was the starting point for a bloody gang war in Copenhagen


62 people were arrested near Copenhagen on Tuesday following a clash between two rival gangs outside a courthouse where a gang member was on trial for the 2008 murder of a young Turk, police said. The people arrested in the Copenhagen suburb of Glostrup had "ties to gangs and bikers," a police statement said. Rival gangs have been battling for years over control of Copenhagen's illegal drug market. According to various media, close to 100 people clashed outside the Glostrup courthouse where the man suspected of gunning down a young Turk in Copenhagen in 2008 was on trial. A member of the Hells Angels biker gang, Mazdak Fabricius, is accused of the murder, which was the starting point for a bloody gang war in Copenhagen. Journalists at Tuesday's scene said members of the Hells Angels and its support group AK81 faced off against the Tingbjerg group, described as the "immigrants."

Three brothers from hell


These are the three brothers from hell -- two killers and one a suspected hitman. Two of the men, Eric and Keith Wilson from Ballyfermot in Dublin, are now suspected of being involved in over ten gun murders between them. Keith Wilson (23) was today beginning a life term in jail for the gangland execution of hitman-for-hire Daniel Gaynor in August, 2010. His brother Eric 'Lucky' Wilson (27) is serving 23 years in a Spanish prison for the murder of British criminal Daniel Smith in a packed bar on the Costa del Sol. Their older brother John (34) was released from garda custody in September after being arrested by officers probing a shooting at the Players Lounge pub in July, 2010, which left three innocent men with serious injuries. John -- who has survived three assassination attempts -- showed up every day at Keith's dramatic murder trial. Yesterday's conviction is being hailed as a major breakthrough in the fight against organised criminal activity in Dublin.


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