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Viktor Bout: 90 days in Solitary for Making Kombucha in Cell

Russian arms merchant Viktor Bout is serving his 25 year sentence at Marion, IL. He's in the highly restrictive Communications Management Unit. Having already lost his appeal, he sought a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. The Court denied it on October 26. (Case 08-cr-00365-SAS, SDNY, Document 124.)

His lawyer says he has been put in the hole for 90 days for making alcohol in his cell -- but it wasn't alcohol, it was Kombucha (a probiotic digestive aid drink.) He also lost 40 days of good time.

In other Bout news, the documentary The Notorious Mr. Bout, which the film's makers say is "the ultimate rags-to-riches-to-prison memoir" is now available online, and through iTunes and Amazon. It contradicts his image as the Merchant of Death as portrayed by Nicolas Cage in the earlier film "Lord of War." [More....]

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Roman Polanski: Poland Rejects U.S. Extradition Request

At least some good news today: Poland has rejected the U.S. request to extradite 82 year old director Roman Polanski for a crime committed almost 40 years ago.

At a hearing in Krakow, Judge Dariusz Mazur ruled that turning over Mr. Polanski would be an “obviously unlawful” deprivation of liberty and that California would be unlikely to provide humane living conditions for the filmmaker, who is 82.

He was also critical of the U.S. judge and prosecutors in the case, saying if he behaved like they did, he'd lose all respect. [More...]

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Mexico Touts Arrest of El Chapo Escape Helpers

Mexico's Attorney General this week announced the arrest of six people (and a few more with arrest warrants who are not yet caught) who helped Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman escape from Altiplano prison in July. She didn't name them but their names are available on Mexican news sites. (More here and here.)

Several were arrested in July and August -- in other words, not all are new arrests, just newly disclosed arrests. So who are they? See below: [More...]

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Mexico Claims El Chapo Injured in Failed Search Operation

The U.S. is still using electronic surveillance to locate Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. Last week, intercepted cell phone signals or satellite communications (take your pick) led them to believe he was in the "Golden Triangle", the region shared by Chihuahua, Sinaloa and Durango. The U.S. passed the info on to Mexico's Navy, which launched a search operation. It came up empty, finding only some clothes and discarded cell phones and other objects.

The Mexican government today released a statement confirming the unsuccessful search operation. It says El Chapo was injured in fleeing from the site of the raid, but not by direct confrontation. [More...]

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Another U.S. Extradition Warrant Issued for El Chapo Guzman

Mexico announced today that a judge has approved an arrest warrant for the extradition of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to the Western District of Texas. Mexico's announcement (in Spanish) is here.

Here are the details of the Texas Indictment, which was returned in 2012. [More...]

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Kim Dotcom Extradition Hearing Begins

Kim Dotcom's extradition hearing has begun in New Zealand. It is expected to take 4 weeks. It's being heard together with the extradition requests for his MegaUpload partners, Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann, and Bram van der Kolk. [More...]

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13 More Prison Officials Detained For El Chapo Escape

13 more former prison officials and guards have been arrested and detained over the escape of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, including the ex-head of Mexico's prison system, Celina Oseguera Parra, and the ex-warden of the prison at Altiplano, Valentín Cárdenas Lerma, both of whom were fired days after El Chapo's escape (use Google translate for this and subsequent links).

Celina Osequera Parra is the most interesting of the arrested officials. [More...]

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Closure for Amanda Knox: Written Court Ruling Slams Prosecution

The final verdict in Italy's longstanding prosecution of Amanda Knox was delivered orally in March by the Court of Cassation, Italy's top criminal court. By law, the court has to follow up with a written ruling. The opinion has now been released. It says the case against Knox was very weak, there was no biological evidence linking her to the bedroom where her roommate was killed, prosecutors should have known the case was shaky early on.

Italy’s top criminal court has scathingly faulted prosecutors for presenting a flawed and hastily constructed case against Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend, saying Monday it threw out their convictions for the 2007 murder of her British roommate in part because there was no proof they were in the bedroom where the woman was fatally stabbed.


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Mexican Court Upholds Suspension of Extradition Arrest Order for El Chapo

Another court has upheld the protection order for Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. More here. (Use google translate.)

From what I can understand, a three judge panel of the Collegiate Court has rejected the Mexican Attorney General's request to overturn a District Court Order granting a temporary order of protection to El Chapo against his being turned over to for extradition to the U.S. before he is given a hearing at which he can raise his defenses to extradition.

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Carlos Lehder Wants to Go Home

Carlos Lehder has written a letter to Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos, asking him to intervene with U.S. authorities so he go come home to Colombia to die. (Apparently he is not ill, he is just thinking of death since he is "close to 70." He's about to turn 66.) He ends his letter with (via google translate):

"With humility and the hope of the paisa arriero, expelled from Colombia, I have remained and survived 28 years in captivity... I am getting close to 70 years of age and deserve to die in Colombia."

Lehder was the first of the Medellin cartel leaders to be extradited to the U.S. In 1987, he was arrested, whisked onto a plane and brought to the U.S. At that time his net worth was estimated to be $2.5 billion. His trial lasted 7 months, he was convicted and sentenced to life without parole plus 135 years. (Here is the court opinion affirming his conviction and sentence. [More...]

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DEA Launches Tipline for Info on El Chapo

The Drug Enforcement Administration today announced via Twitter it has launched a tipline for information on the whereabouts of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman-Loera. It provided an email address and phone number. The email address includes the description "Chapotips." The tips will be processed by the DEA San Diego office. There is a $5 million reward.

Acting DEA Chief Chuck Rosenberg said today he believes El Chapo is still in Mexico, probably in Sinaloa. He said that while there is information sharing with Mexico, it doesn't encompass the whole of Mexico's Government. [More...]

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El Chapo's Lawyers Obtain Suspension of Arrest Order for Extradition

A court in Mexico has granted a request filed by El Chapo's lawyers to suspend the order of detention for purposes of extradition entered Wednesday. (Use google translate). The request for a writ of amparo against the detention order was filed Wednesday in the Fifth District court handling Amparo matters, the same day the judge in the Third District Court handling criminal matters granted the request for the detention order.

I think this means he can still be arrested, but he can't be extradited until he has an opportunity to present his defenses against extradition. [More...]

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Mexician Court Approves Detention Order for El Chapo's Extradition

The Mexican Attorney General's office (PGR), issued a statement today (available here in Spanish) saying that a federal judge has approved an order of detention for Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman-Loera for the purposes of extradition to the U.S.

The statement says the Judge reviewed the U.S. request for extradition submitted in late June, 2015, and found it meets the treaty requirements.

Of course, first he must be recaptured alive, and second, he gets to challenge his extradition in court, which could take a year or more. [More...]

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White House Rejects Pardon for Edward Snowden

The White House today released an official statement rejecting a "We the People" online pardon petition for Edward Snowden. The petition had 167,000 signatures.

Dan Froomkin at the Intercept has more.

The White House response was written by Lisa Monaco. She includes this:

“He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers.”

How can he be judged by a jury without an opportunity to explain his defense? According to Glenn Grennwald:

He’s barred under the Espionage Act even from arguing that his leaks were justified; he wouldn’t be permitted to utter a word about that.


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Counter-theories on El Chapo's Escape and Past Non-Accountability

Veteran journalist Ginger Thompson has an article in Pro Publica about the theories floating around that the Mexican Government had a deal with Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and the escape through the tunnel story doesn't ring true.

She recounts a breakfast she had last week with "a senior Mexican intelligence official", a "veteran American counternarcotics agent" and a guy who was in Mexican cartels for 30 years. His last cartel was the Zetas.

No one in this deeply sourced group was surprised. Nor were they particularly interested in the logistical details of the escape, although they clearly didn’t believe the version they’d heard from the Mexican government.... They were convinced it was all a deal cut at some link in the system’s chain.


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