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To Little To Late

Blue Island, IL

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#23
Mar 29, 2014
 
Task force would target heroin problem
By Susan DeMar Lafferty

While Will County officials plan their next community forum on the local heroin epidemic for May 17, state Rep. Natalie Manley, D-Joliet, has sponsored legislation in the General Assembly that would expand the scope of the Young Adults Heroin Use Task Force.

The measure recently sailed out of the House Judiciary Committee.

Manley’s legislation would expand the scope of the Young Adult Heroin Task Force to address the problem at a younger age. The task force would review programs used in Illinois middle schools and high schools to prevent heroin use and spread awareness, and then make recommendations for effective statewide practices.

“Everyone can agree on one thing — we must reach children earlier to make the most impact, and stop this dangerous drug from taking lives,” she said.

Manley is hosting a Young Adults Heroin Use Task Force hearing at 10 a.m. April 19 at Troy Middle School, 5800 W. Theodore St., Plainfield.

“Will County’s recent united effort to bring together community resources and collaboration has been successful, but we still have much further to go,” Manley said.

“I am supporting a number of initiatives at the state level, including bills to increase supervision of prescription pain medication, strengthen penalties for ‘Krokodil,’ and generate further awareness and discussion of long-term solutions.”

The task force will be one topic discussed at Will County’s third annual 2014 HERO HELPS Community Summit on May 17 at the Romeoville Athletic and Event Center in Romeoville, 55 Phelps Ave.

This year’s event will focus on how to stop heroin abuse by turning the tide through collaboration.

HERO (Heroin Epidemic Resource Organization) and Will County HELPS (Heroin Education Leads to Preventative Solutions) have joined with the DuPage Health Department to further promote heroin prevention and treatment.

“Will County and DuPage County have both experienced high rates of heroin use and overdose deaths so it is a perfect partnership to join together to spread our message,” Paul Lauridsen, the event chairman, said.

The forum is open to families, public officials, law enforcement, health care providers, educators and the public to learn more about the local heroin crisis and potential solutions.

Educational sessions will highlight the progress and practices in the areas of the science of addiction, treatment options, and the role of law enforcement in fighting heroin.
Were rotting from within

Blue Island, IL

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#24
Apr 4, 2014
 
Two drug tunnels, with rail systems, found at U.S.-Mexico border

Dan Whitcomb
Reuters
April 4, 2014

LOS ANGELES (Reuters)- U.S. federal agents have uncovered two drug-smuggling tunnels underneath the U.S.-Mexico border, both surfacing in San Diego-area warehouses and equipped with rail systems for moving contraband, officials said on Friday.

The discovery led to the arrest of a 73-year-old woman accused of running one of the warehouses connected to a drug smuggling operation, according to a joint news release by four federal agencies.

The tunnels were discovered as part of a five-month investigation by the so-called San Diego Tunnel Task Force.

Federal law enforcement officials said the first tunnel, which connects a warehouse in Tijuana, Mexico, with one in an industrial park in the border community of Otay Mesa, is about 600 yards long and is furnished with lighting, a crude rail system and wooden trusses.

The passageway is accessed via a 70-foot shaft secured by a cement cover and includes a pulley system on the U.S. side apparently intended to hoist contraband up into the warehouse.

The second tunnel was even more sophisticated, built with a multi-tiered electric rail system and an array of ventilation equipment.

"Here we are again, foiling cartel plans to sneak millions of dollars of illegal drugs through secret passageways that cost millions of dollars to build," U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said in a statement.

"Going underground is not a good business plan. We have promised to locate these super tunnels and keep powerful drug cartels from taking their business underground and out of sight, and once again, we have delivered on that promise," Duffy said.

The two tunnels are the sixth and seventh cross-border passageways discovered in the San Diego area in less than four years, according to the task force.

Since 2006, federal authorities have detected at least 80 cross-border smuggling tunnels, most of them in California and Arizona, and seized some 100 tons of narcotics associated with them.
Sin aloa

Blue Island, IL

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#26
Apr 10, 2014
 
Feds: Top Sinaloa Cartel member cooperating with prosecutors
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter April 10, 2014
The highest-ranking member of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel in U.S. custody secretly pleaded guilty a year ago and is cooperating with Chicago prosecutors.
Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla — a close associate of Chicago’s “Public Enemy Number One,” recently-arrested drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman-Loera — admitted he coordinated shipments of tons of cocaine and heroin and has vowed to provide further information to the U.S. government in a bid to avoid a life sentence.
Signed in April, 2013, but only finally unsealed by U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo Thursday morning, Zambada-Niebla’s plea deal is a major breakthrough in the biggest drugs case ever brought in this city.
And it may help explain why Chicago’s DEA boss Jack Riley was so confident that “El Chapo” also will eventually face justice in a Loop courtroom. Though El Chapo has been indicted in multiple U.S. jurisdictions and may never be extradited from Mexico, Riley said on the morning of the drug lord’s arrest by Mexican authorities in February that Chicago has “the strongest case” against him.
Zambada-Niebla, 39, is the son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, who authorities believe took control of the Sinaloa cartel following El Chapo’s arrest.
Arrested in Mexico in 2009 and extradited to the U.S. a year later, he was considered such a flight risk that the Bureau of Prisons barred him from exercising on the roof of the high-rise downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center, citing intelligence that the cartel planned to use a helicopter to help him escape.
He was moved to a federal prison in Michigan, partly for his own safety, but in 2011 failed to convince Judge Castillo that he had been offered immunity from prosecution in return for acting as an informant.
In his plea deal, he admits he was responsible for many aspects of the cartel’s drug trafficking operations,“both independently and as a trusted lieutenant for his father.”
He acknowledged that he helped coordinate the importation of tons of cocaine from Central and South American countries, including Colombia and Panama, into the interior of Mexico, and the transportation and storage of shipments within Mexico, as well as sending large shipments of cocaine and heroin into Chicago.
Prosecutors say the cartel used planes, submarines, container ships, speed boats, fishing vessels, buses, rail cars, tractor-trailers and automobiles to ship their dope.
And court records paint Zambada-Niebla as a violent man, who was protected by the “ubiquitous presence” of “military-caliber weapons.”
When Margarito Flores — one of two twins from Chicago’s West Side who provided key evidence against the cartel — travelled to El Chapo’s mountaintop lair in 2008, it was Zambada-Niebla who told him to help find “big, powerful weapons” for an attack on a U.S. or Mexican government building in Mexico City, the papers allege.
“We don’t want Middle Eastern or Asian guns, we want big U.S. guns or (rocket-propelled grenades),” Zambada-Niebla told Flores, according to court records.“We don’t need one, we need a lot of them.”
U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon hailed Zambada-Niebla’s plea to a single count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute multiple kilograms of cocaine and heroin Thursday morning as a “testament to the tireless determination of the leadership and special agents of DEA’s Chicago office to hold accountable those individuals at the highest levels of the drug trafficking cartels who are responsible for flooding Chicago with cocaine and heroin and reaping the profits.”
Under the deal, Zambada-Niebla faces at least 10 years behind bars, and a fine of up to $4 million. He also has promised not to fight a forfeiture order seeking more than $1.37 billion.
But if he provides “full and truthful cooperation” against other members of the cartel, the government will try to spare him from a life sentence, the
Good police work

Blue Island, IL

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#28
Apr 11, 2014
 
Man accused of having more than $155,000 worth of pot

By Rachel Cromidas, April 11, 2014

Police officers found $155,000 worth of pot in a Southwest Side home, according to a Chicago Police Department alert Thursday.

Rafael Diaz De Leon, 29, of the 5000 block of South Kilpatrick Avenue, was charged with several counts of manufacturing and delivering cannabis and possession of a controlled substance after a police gang investigation revealed he had more than 20 pounds of cannabis stored in his residence near Midway Airport.

Police also seized about $39,000 in cash and a car that belongs to Diaz De Leon, the alert said.

Diaz De Leon was brought to the Cook County Criminal Courthouse Friday afternoon to be arraigned.
Who supplied him

Blue Island, IL

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#29
Apr 13, 2014
 
With a name like Cook shouldn't he be in Cook County?

April 7, 2014
Disgraced Illinois judge awaits prison assignment
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS —— A disgraced former Illinois drug court judge at the center of a courthouse drug scandal is getting time to square away things before serving a two-year sentence on heroin and gun convictions. But exactly where Michael Cook will spend his time behind bars at his own expense remains unclear.

A filing by U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade shows the former St. Clair County judge must surrender by May 28 to whatever lockup the Federal Bureau of Prisons slots for him, with recommendations that Cook be considered for placement in prisons in Estill, S.C., Pensacola, Fla., or Montgomery, Ala.

"The court recommends that the defendant be housed at a federal prison camp as close to his family as possible that will maximize his exposure to substance abuse and mental health treatment," McDade wrote in the sentencing order and opinion filed April 1.

But such determinations may be out of Cook's hands.

Chris Burke, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said Monday that various factors contribute to where a convict serves his prison sentence, including everything from prison crowding to what level of security he or she requires and the availability of on-site mental health and substance abuse treatment — counseling for which McDade said Cook should be evaluated.

The bureau also tries to assign the offender to a prison within 500 miles of his hometown, Burke said.

Such decisions "can be very quick, but it also depends on the complexity of the case," said Burke, noting that the prison location ultimately chosen is not made public until the offender surrenders there.

Messages left Monday with Cook's attorneys were not immediately returned.

Cook, 43, pleaded guilty in November to a misdemeanor heroin-possession charge and a felony count of having firearms while being a user of controlled substances. During Cook's sentencing hearing March 28, McDade also ordered Cook — an admitted heroin and cocaine addict — to pay the expected $65,600 cost of his incarceration and his three years of post-prison supervised release. McDade also fined Cook $10,000.

Cook resigned last year after being charged, a little more than two months after the March 2013 cocaine-overdose death of fellow judge Joe Christ while the two were at the Cook family's hunting cabin some 70 miles north of St. Louis. Cook has not been charged in the death of Christ, a former longtime prosecutor and father of six.

Cook became an associate circuit judge in 2007 and a circuit judge in 2010. His legal troubles surfaced after the death of Christ, who had been newly sworn in as a judge when he died.

Questions about Cook's drug use have led to overturned convictions in two murder trials in which Cook was the judge between Christ's death and the time Cook was taken into custody. One of those retrials got underway Monday.
Straight Talk

Alsip, IL

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#30
Apr 13, 2014
 
Who supplied him wrote:
With a name like Cook shouldn't he be in Cook County?
April 7, 2014
Disgraced Illinois judge awaits prison assignment
Associated Press
ST. LOUIS —— A disgraced former Illinois drug court judge at the center of a courthouse drug scandal is getting time to square away things before serving a two-year sentence on heroin and gun convictions. But exactly where Michael Cook will spend his time behind bars at his own expense remains unclear.
A filing by U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade shows the former St. Clair County judge must surrender by May 28 to whatever lockup the Federal Bureau of Prisons slots for him, with recommendations that Cook be considered for placement in prisons in Estill, S.C., Pensacola, Fla., or Montgomery, Ala.
"The court recommends that the defendant be housed at a federal prison camp as close to his family as possible that will maximize his exposure to substance abuse and mental health treatment," McDade wrote in the sentencing order and opinion filed April 1.
But such determinations may be out of Cook's hands.
Chris Burke, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said Monday that various factors contribute to where a convict serves his prison sentence, including everything from prison crowding to what level of security he or she requires and the availability of on-site mental health and substance abuse treatment — counseling for which McDade said Cook should be evaluated.
The bureau also tries to assign the offender to a prison within 500 miles of his hometown, Burke said.
Such decisions "can be very quick, but it also depends on the complexity of the case," said Burke, noting that the prison location ultimately chosen is not made public until the offender surrenders there.
Messages left Monday with Cook's attorneys were not immediately returned.
Cook, 43, pleaded guilty in November to a misdemeanor heroin-possession charge and a felony count of having firearms while being a user of controlled substances. During Cook's sentencing hearing March 28, McDade also ordered Cook — an admitted heroin and cocaine addict — to pay the expected $65,600 cost of his incarceration and his three years of post-prison supervised release. McDade also fined Cook $10,000.
Cook resigned last year after being charged, a little more than two months after the March 2013 cocaine-overdose death of fellow judge Joe Christ while the two were at the Cook family's hunting cabin some 70 miles north of St. Louis. Cook has not been charged in the death of Christ, a former longtime prosecutor and father of six.
Cook became an associate circuit judge in 2007 and a circuit judge in 2010. His legal troubles surfaced after the death of Christ, who had been newly sworn in as a judge when he died.
Questions about Cook's drug use have led to overturned convictions in two murder trials in which Cook was the judge between Christ's death and the time Cook was taken into custody. One of those retrials got underway Monday.
They went after the supplier of the Philip Seymour? They do not go after this supplier because it is probably another judge!
Language Culture and Bord

Blue Island, IL

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#31
Apr 16, 2014
 
Feds nab another associate of ‘El Chapo’

BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter
: April 16, 2014
Another of Sinaloa drug cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s alleged henchmen has been arrested and is facing federal charges in a Chicago court.

Edgar Manuel Valencia Ortega — known as the “Fox”— was arrested in Las Vegas in January and secretly brought to Chicago, court documents reveal.

His capture is another step in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s and federal prosecutors’ efforts to dismantle the world’s most powerful illegal drugs network.

Valencia, who pleaded not guilty last week in a hearing before U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo, coordinated the delivery of large shipments of cocaine into the U.S. from Mexico, and collected and laundered drug money, prosecutors allege.

His capture was revealed this week in a ruling by another U.S. District Court judge, Matthew Kennelly.

When he was first brought by the feds to the Chicago area, Valencia was hidden inside Oak Park police station, in the hope that he might cooperate with authorities, Kennelly wrote.

But Valencia declined the offer and could now stand trial alongside “El Chapo,” if the kingpin is ever extradited from Mexico, where he was captured in February.

Valencia is the fourth codefendant charged alongside “El Chapo” in Chicago known to have been captured. Two of them, Vicente Zambada-Niebla and Tomas Arevalo-Renteria, have pleaded guilty. A third, Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez, is due to stand trial next month. Citing security concerns, prosecutors have asked that jurors names be kept secret.
Pops Malooney

Oak Lawn, IL

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#32
Apr 16, 2014
 
Chicago DEA Chief Riley full of blarney. Ineffective old fool, retire him.
Borders Language Culture

Blue Island, IL

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#33
Apr 22, 2014
 
Mexican Drug War: 10 Shocking Facts

In anticipation of President Obama's trip south this week -- first to Mexico on Thursday and then to the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago from Friday to Sunday -- here are 10 shocking facts about the Mexican drug war from the international news site GlobalPost.

***
1. A recent U.S. government report suggests that "Two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico."

2. Mexico has one of the highest kidnapping rates in the world: An average of 70 people are abducted each month.

3. More than 1,100 guns found discarded at Mexico shooting scenes or confiscated from cartel gangsters were traced to Texas gun merchants in 2007.

4. One of Mexico's most notorious drug kingpins, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, escaped a maximum security prison in 2001 by driving out in a laundry truck.

5. This year Forbes magazine included Joaquin Guzman, a Mexican drug lord, on its annual billionaires' list.

6. A drug cartel hood named "The Cook" reportedly dissolved the bodies of 300 victims in acid as part of the grisly work he committed for crime bosses.

7. The FBI has reported 75 open cases of Americans kidnapped in Mexico.

8. In a poll by the daily newspaper La Reforma, Mexico City residents ranked public insecurity as a worse crisis than the economy by a 5-to-1 margin. In the past year, 20 percent were crime victims.

9. In the past year, Mexico's civil drug war has claimed some 6,300 lives.

10. Grammy-nominated singer Sergio Gomez was kidnapped and his genitals were burned with a blowtorch in December 2007, presumably for singing narco corridos, or "drug ballads."
A Culture of drugs

Blue Island, IL

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#34
Apr 22, 2014
 
Man accused of having more than $155,000 worth of pot

Police officers found $155,000 worth of pot in a Southwest Side home, according to a Chicago Police Department alert Thursday.

Rafael Diaz De Leon, 29, of the 5000 block of South Kilpatrick Avenue, was charged with several counts of manufacturing and delivering cannabis and possession of a controlled substance after a police gang investigation revealed he had more than 20 pounds of cannabis stored in his residence near Midway Airport.

Police also seized about $39,000 in cash and a car that belongs to Diaz De Leon, the alert said.

Diaz De Leon was brought to the Cook County Criminal Courthouse Friday afternoon to be arraigned.
Looks like more new taxes

Blue Island, IL

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#35
Apr 29, 2014
 
Officials call for recreational pot use to be legalized
04/28/2014
BRIAN SLODYSKO

It’s time for Illinois lawmakers to move beyond state-sanctioned medical marijuana and, as they say, legalize it.

At least that’s according to four Chicago-area Democrats who hold elected public offices. The group held a press conference Monday at the Cook County building, calling for the state to decriminalize marijuana possession and — eventually — legalize recreational use of the leafy plant.

“The main difference between the War on Drugs and Prohibition is that, after 40 years, this country still hasn’t acknowledged that the War on Drugs is a failure,” Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey said, drawing a parallel with the outlawing of booze in the early 20th Century.

Illinois is already in the process of making medical pot available to those with a so-called legitimate need.

But backers of the budding effort — including Chicago-area state representatives Mike Zalewski, Kelly Cassidy and Christian Mitchell who also appeared with Fritchey at the news conference — cited a bevy of statistics that suggested pot legalization could help solve more than just medical ailments.

For example, racial minorities are often the target of enforcement efforts, they say. Meanwhile, their white counterparts are not arrested to the same degree for marijuana possession, they say.

“You’ll see people getting swept off the streets on a daily basis on the South Side and the West Side. You don’t see kids getting arrested in Lincoln Park,” said Fritchey, who is a former legislator.

But anyone pining for statewide legalization should probably sit down, order a pizza and chill.

The group has yet to drop a bill in Springfield to legalize the drug and, in reality, substantive change is likely a ways off, the group acknowledged. At this point they just want fellow Democrats in the General Assembly to green-light a task force to study the issue. The hope, they say, is that Illinois will eventually develop a more laissez-faire approach to pot, which for now is classified a “dangerous” Schedule I narcotic by the federal government.

Voters in Washington state and Colorado recently passed measures at the ballot box that did just that, though the new marijuana laws in those states are in conflict with federal drug laws.

In Illinois, action by state lawmakers would be required; the state does not have as robust a referendum and initiative process as the other two states, proponents said.

One upshot of legalization is that cash-strapped state and local governments could tax weed sales, delivering useful cash at a time when many are struggling to find new sources or revenue.

Still, any push to decriminalize or legalize pot would draw opponents.

The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police is one. Stopping drivers from driving while high would be a big concern for law enforcement, said John Kennedy, executive director for the group.

“We have a problem with driving under the influence on our highways and this is going to make it much, much worse,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy was also skeptical about the suggestion that legalization of weed could free cops up to bust bigger criminals instead of low-level pot smokers.

“In theory, it’s a possibly. But I don’t think it is in reality,” he said, adding that pot can be a gateway to more dangerous drugs.

Still, backers say public opinion is already swaying to their side.

“Public opinion moves much more quickly than legislators’[opinions],” said Cassidy. If marijuana is decriminalized, she added:“The sky won’t fall.”
Ready to tare hair out

Blue Island, IL

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#36
Apr 29, 2014
 
‘El Chapo’ henchman and alleged lifelong friend pleads guilty

Another henchman in Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel has pleaded guilty in Chicago’s federal court.

Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez — who was due to stand trial next month — became the latest defendant to admit his role in the world’s largest drug trafficking organization.

Vasquez-Hernandez, 58, originally planned to plead guilty in March, but withdrew his offer after a report by ABC7 veteran newsman Chuck Goudie incorrectly suggested he was cooperating with the feds against the feared “El Chapo,” putting his family in Mexico in fear of their lives.

On Tuesday, Vasquez-Hernandez finally did enter a guilty plea to shipping cocaine into Chicago on a train. U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo stressed that Vasquez-Hernandez, who faces 10 years to life behind bars when he is sentenced in November, is not cooperating with authorities.

Prior to his capture, Vasquez-Hernandez allegedly described himself as Guzman’s “lifelong friend.”

Prosecutors say he was one of the cartel’s logistics chiefs, and that they have him on tape discussing the importation of cocaine into Mexico from Colombia via submarine, as well as the shipments via train of hundreds of kilos of cocaine into Chicago.

The case — which saw “El Chapo” indicted in 2009 alongside 13 codefendants, including Vasquez-Hernandez — has been described as the largest drug case ever brought in Chicago.

Sinaloa cartel members supply the majority of drugs sold on the city’s streets, causing “El Chapo” to be last year dubbed Chicago’s “Public Enemy No. 1.”

He was arrested in Mexico in February. Though it remains unclear if he will ever be extradited to the U.S., or if he will stand trial in Chicago if extradited, four alleged Sinaloa cartel members charged alongside him in Chicago are known to be in U.S. custody.

Vasquez-Hernandez’s guilty plea means that only one of those four, Edgar Manuel Valencia Ortega — known as the “Fox”— has not pleaded guilty.

In their biggest coup, federal prosecutors revealed earlier this month that a high-ranking member of the cartel, Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, has pleaded guilty and has been cooperating since last year.

Another defendant, Tomas Arevalo-Renteria, also previously pleaded guilty.

Following Tuesday’s hearing, Goudie argued with Vasquez-Hernandez’s attorneys outside court, insisting that when he said Vasquez-Hernandez had “turned against” El Chapo that did not mean he thought Vasquez-Hernandez was cooperating.

Vasquez-Hernandez’s attorney, Paul Brayman, disagreed, calling Goudie’s story a “false report” that derailed Vasquez-Hernandez’s original plan to plead guilty by putting his family in danger.
Seal the borders

Blue Island, IL

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#37
May 22, 2014
 
Attacker who beat Irish exchange student gets 90 years
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN Criminal Courts Reporter May 22, 2014
One by one, Heriberto Viramontes’ sisters, mother and niece took the stand Thursday, trying to convince Cook County Judge Jorge Alonso that their loved one was far from the “monster” who viciously beat and robbed two women as they made their way through a Bucktown viaduct after a celebratory dinner and a night of dancing.
The convicted felon’s female relatives loudly sobbed and recounted Viramontes’ suicide attempts following the death of his newborn son, the murder of his father, and how he was seduced by a 27-year-old drug addict when he was barely a teen.
While the judge acknowledged Viramontes’ misfortunes, he concluded that Chicago was “safer” with him behind bars and sentenced him to 90 years in prison for the infamous April 23, 2010 attack that severely injured a local woman and left an Irish exchange student struggling to walk and talk.
Alonso said Viramontes was motivated by “greed and hate” when he cracked Stacy Jurich and Natasha McShane’s skulls with a baseball bat and took their purses in the 1800 block of North Damen Avenue.
“You attacked them with all the force you could muster and you left them there to die,” Alonso said.“...Their only sin was believing it was safe to walk four or five blocks in the city of Chicago.”
After Jurich and McShane’s mother tearfully testified about the toll the attack took on their lives, 35-year-old Viramontes said he “could never understand the pain” Jurich and McShane experienced.
Viramontes — who State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez later described as the “personification of evil”— rendered a “God bless you” to all those in the courtroom but never apologized for his actions.
Before Viramontes was sentenced, Assistant State’s Attorneys John Maher and Margaret Ogarek played a recording of a phone call from jail in which Viramontes tells his girlfriend that he prays to God that McShane is “5,000 percent better.”
“Maybe this is good for the both of us. You know, maybe this is good for her, stop being in the f------ streets late at night drinking, especially in Chicago. And maybe it’s good for me to open my motherf------ eyes and see what the f--- I got in front of me,” Viramontes said in the recording.
Viramontes turned McShane into a “ghost” when he swung the bat, Maher said.
McShane, now 27, lives with her mother and sister in Northern Ireland where she requires 24-hour care.
She can now walk at home without a wheelchair, string “three or four words” together and uses a “communications book” to convey her thoughts, but “things we take for granted” will remain “a lifelong struggle for her,” McShane’s mother said.
“We keep asking ourselves,‘Why Natasha?’‘Why us?’....She is still alive, but it feels we have lost her,” Sheila McShane said, dabbing her eyes.“...We can only assume Natasha is asking herself all the same questions and seeing that look of despair in her eyes makes it hard for us to move on.”
Regardless of the time Viramontes will be locked up, Natasha has been sentenced to a life of “pain, misery and unfulfillment,” her mother said.
Jurich, now 28 and engaged, told Alonso she still suffers seizures and migraines, has trouble with hand-eye coordination and can no longer drive a car or ride a bicycle.
“In an instant, I went from smiling and laughing to being on my knees dripping with blood wondering if Natasha was alive...,” Jurich said.
“I wake up...to the sound of my screams. I feel, taste and smell the blood still rushing out of my head. I wish the sounds of the bat breaking my head open would go away but they don’t.”
Jurich and Sheila McShane hugged for several seconds following the sentencing hearing.
Both women later told reporters they were pleased with Viramontes’ lengthy punishment.
“It provides us with some sense of justice for Natasha and Stacy,” Sheila McShane said, thanking Jurich for her bravery.
Jurich is relieved Viramontes can’t hurt anyone else.
What took so long

Blue Island, IL

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#38
Jun 23, 2014
 
High-ranking Latin King breaks down, gets 16 years behind bars
18
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter June 23, 2014




He was the ruling “Inca” of the Latin King’s Cicero crew — a man so wedded to violence that he oversaw the brutal, videotaped punishment beating of a gang member who failed to commit a murder.

But nearly eight years after his arrest, Nedal “Lucky” Issa on Monday thanked the feds for catching him.

“Thank you for giving me a second chance at life,” an emotional Issa told prosecutors as he was sentenced to 16 years behind bars by U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle.

“If this case hadn’t been filed, I could have been dead.”

Convicted of racketeering and armed assault, Issa, 37, had faced a potential sentence of 30 years to life for his role near the top of one of the Chicago area’s deadliest gangs.

But by turning against his former pals and providing evidence that helped convict 25 other high-ranking Latin Kings, including national gang leader,“Corona” Augustin Zambrano, he effectively halved his prison term.

Norgle said Issa’s cooperation with the government was “exceptional” because he had testified despite the “risk to him and his family” from a gang known to target witnesses.

Wearing a white pinstripe shirt, close-cropped hair and glasses, Issa looked more like a middle-aged store clerk than a gang leader during the half-hour hearing.

He has been in the witness protection program behind bars since his 2006 arrest and sobbed Monday that he has been disowned by much of his family since he turned against the Latin Kings.

“I put my whole family at risk” the father of two cried.

Video footage of around 15 gang members under Issa’s control — that shows them beating a fellow Latin King nicknamed “Chongo” as punishment for failing to shoot a rival gagn member — formed the centerpiece of the trial of four other senior Latin Kings in 2011.

Zambrano, 26th Street “enforcer” Vicente Garcia, Alphonso Chavez and Jose Guzman were all convicted after Issa testified that he organized the vicious two-minute beating of the victim “Chongo” at Garcia’s orders.

A camera hidden in a west suburban basement by the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco captured the beating, during which Issa can be heard shouting “Don’t stop!”

Issa himself had previously suffered a similar beating for failing to enforce the shooting. Another member of his Cicero crew eventually carried out the shooting, evidence showed.

A plea deal that Issa previously entered with prosecutors required him to cooperate in return for a reduced sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Porter said Issa had “lived up to that and then some,” saying he could “happily” recommend a sentence of 17 years.

In handing Issa a 16-year term, Norgle went below even that.

Calling the feds’ take down of the Latin Kings leadership in 2011 “a major accomplishment,” Norgle praised Issa for taking self-improvement classes in prison, adding:“He’s not the same person he was seven years ago when he first came before the court.”

The sentence he imposed means that with good behavior, Issa will be eligible for release in 2020.

Another high-ranking Latin King, former Little Village “enforcer” Juan Amaya, faces a far longer sentence of up to life in prison when he is sentenced in a separate case on Friday.

Unlike Issa, Amaya has not cooperated and should serve 40 years, the feds say.
Broadway Larry

United States

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#39
Saturday Jun 28
 
So after billions of dollars, millions of ruined lives and decades of failed enforcement our esteemed leaders have opened the door to legalize drugs ... First with pot ... Others are being discussed ... In the name of making money ! Glorification of homo- sexuality ... Attacks on the very essence of marriage ... 53 million babies aborted ... Religious persecution ... Releasing top Al Queda military killers ... Benghazi cover up .... IRS abuse and cover-up ... Liberal media ... Healthcare fiasco... Higher taxes ...... On and on ... "Change you can believe in!" Had enough yet ? Obama's got two more years And Hillary will be the new Queen (more interns for Bill to troll!)... This all brought to you by the Democrat Socialist Party ... Same one that now rules our beloved city ... oust Obama ... Oust the BIIP !
Mas Federal Action

Blue Island, IL

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#40
Tuesday Jul 1
 
Gang ‘enforcer’ sentenced to prison for 35 years

BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter June 30, 2014

Back in 2008, Juan Amaya was doling out punishments — including ordering the hands of a teenage thief be smashed with a hammer.

As the “enforcer” of the Latin Kings’ 1,000-member strong Little Village crew, the 38-year-old made sure the gang’s brutal code of street justice was upheld.

But on Monday, it was Amaya’s turn to suffer.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer sentenced him to 35 years in prison for a series of racketeering, gun and drug convictions.

“It is just wrong,” Pallmeyer said of the gang leader’s reign of terror in the Kings’ Southwest Side stronghold.

Convicted of murder in the 1990s, Amaya rose quickly in the gang’s hierarchy following his release from state prison in 2005.

Evidence at his trial earlier this year showed that by 2008 he answered to just two other leaders — including the Kings’ national leader Augustin Zambrano, who has since been sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Amaya was caught on a wiretap ordering 17-year-old Rodolfo Salazar’s hands smashed after Salazar allegedly stole from the home of Zambrano’s girlfriend.

A cooperating witness who was in the room when Salazar was punished, testified during the trial that he heard the sounds of Salazar’s knuckles cracking as they were hit with the hammer.

At Monday’s hearing, Amaya apologized to his family. He said he “grew up in a ... low income neighborhood,” but had been raised by his mother to “take responsibility for my actions like a man.”

He said, he was guilty only of selling drugs and should not be held accountable “for other people’s actions.” And his attorney Heather Winslow said a sentence of just 10 years was enough.

But prosecutor Andrew Porter said a 40 year sentence would “send a message to the next generation of children coming up in Little Village.”

“This isn’t Afghanistan — it’s the middle of this great city of ours,” Porter added.“Chicago is never going to reach the level it should as long as gangs like the Latin Kings are around.”

Pallmeyer agreed.“There are children who grew up in Little Village and parents in this community who are witnesses to the kinds of activities this organization traded in,” she said.

The hammer beating was “an awful thing” she added, saying Salazar was “maimed for the rest of his life.”
Mas Federal Action

Blue Island, IL

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#43
Saturday Jul 5
 


What's squeezing the Latin Kings -- and what that means to Chicago

July 3, 2014

Remember Juan Amaya, convicted killer and more? When a younger Latin King flouted a gang rule, Amaya ordered other Kings to pound the 17-year-old’s hands with hammers, the way butchers tenderize beefsteak with meat mallets. Last Monday a federal judge dispatched Amaya to 35 years with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons for racketeering (including murder conspiracy), drug and gun crimes.

Also on Monday, the Chicago Police Department said the city’s homicide toll of 171 for six months of 2014 is the lowest in 51 years. Six of 10 victims had gang ties.

Correlation doesn’t equal causation. And improving murder counts, a metric where one killing is too many, doesn’t equal success. But we suspect the forces that consign Juan Amaya to the gray-bar hotel, maybe until death, also have helped lower Chicago’s murder pace to a level last witnessed in 1963.

Appreciating that lower pace during another summer killing season, each weekend a fresh bloodbath, is difficult but crucial: Chicago has proven it can cut its homicide rate. That’s why for 10 years we’ve invoked a strategy called “the wave machine.” More on that lives-saver below.

The slaughter of innocents such as 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, shot to death early in 2013, rip at our hearts and commit us anew to stopping the savagery. But the big numbers of killings flow from gangs such as the Kings. In seeking a long sentence for Amaya, prosecutor Andrew Porter wrote that the “regional Inca” led “over 1,000 soldiers — many of whom were simply boys sent off to kill or be killed.”

Chicago’s gangs — some splintered into factions, some monolithic — remain vicious and pernicious. But law enforcement is exploiting an internal treachery that has been eating away at the Kings and, we’re told, some other groups:

To be a corona, Inca or other Kings leader today is to know beyond doubt that some members of your gang are snitching on the sly. More now than ever, high-ranking gangbangers see that if they’re arrested for any serious crimes, betrayal of the gang is their one way to shorten the decades-long prison sentences that today’s stiff federal guidelines impose.

The Kings’ stated “SOS” dictum, to “shoot on sight” or “smash on sight” any members who cooperate with the law, just isn’t the iron deterrent it once was.

Thanks to the traitors, cascading investigations that began in 2003 have put away more than 100 Kings, many of them stripped from the pinnacle of the organization chart. Our favorite sabotage:

At one meeting of two dozen leaders, a King of 14 years’ seniority physically searched each attendee for recording devices. Unbeknown to the leaders, the “Nation Enforcer” patting them down was ... wearing a wire for the FBI and Chicago Police.

We write today not to declare current or impending victory over street violence: Breaking a cycle that annually devours young Chicagoans by the hundreds, U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said in May, could take 10 years. Or 20. Or 50. No, we write today to praise the wave machine.

We encountered the Latin Kings 20 years ago this summer in their homeland, Little Village on the Southwest Side. They had brazenly slashed streetlight wiring, blackening two long blocks of 21st Street to clandestinely prepare for combat with rivals. The Kings had battled one gang since the 1970s. Local lore had it that their warfare began as a dispute over a foul ball during a softball game. But details were long lost in the mists of gunsmoke.
Mas Federal Action

Blue Island, IL

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#44
Saturday Jul 5
 
Today the feds put the Kings’ Illinois membership at 10,000, plus chapters in several other states. Leaders have monitored police radio bands to be sure their troops execute shootings as ordered; if neighbors near a planned hit site don’t dial 911, maybe the troops failed. Violence dictates economics: The gang has imposed surtaxes on drug sales to pay for firearms, funerals and defense lawyers.

After he became U.S. attorney here in 2001, Patrick Fitzgerald sidestepped advice from some Chicago pols that he focus on smaller gun cases — and produce big numbers of them. He renewed an earlier federal commitment here to attacking gangs whose routine killings amount to industrial deaths on a massive scale.

That’s one of the ever-evolving local and federal strategies that have cut Chicago’s murder rate by one-third since the early 2000s. David Hoffman, then a federal prosecutor co-heading a Fitzgerald anti-violence initiative, argued in 2004 for institutionalizing practices that would continue as individual prosecutors and investigators inevitably moved on.“This should be what law enforcement does in Chicago,” Hoffman said.“Not a short-term effort, but a wave machine.”

Amen. We’re pleased that several strategies from that era — such as deploying many cops to interrupt cycles of retaliation, and constantly evaluating gun cases to see whether state or federal prosecutors have the statutes best suited to convict a defendant — survive intact.

The twist we didn’t expect: the degree to which stiffer sentences nudge gangbangers to talk. Police Commander Maria Pena, whose 10th District spans Little Village, says her violent crime numbers are declining, and Kings leaders “are not as bold as they used to be.” They’ve watched all these convictions that, as the feds don’t mind advertising, gang turncoats have enabled.

New leaders always step up. Hence prosecutor Fardon’s talk of a decades-long war. Already, Juan Amaya is one of its defeated warriors. He had to be furious June 23 when a judge rewarded with a 17-year sentence an Inca who helped put away four top Kings. Under his plea deal the informant, 37, could walk in six years. He’ll have a life with his children.

Amaya, though, is 38 and must serve 85 percent of his 35 years. Inmate 45110-424 joins Jeff Fort, Larry Hoover, Gino Colon, Augustin Zambrano — leaders who ruled gang nations but may never see Chicago again. If Amaya does, he’ll be pushing 70. Young men won’t care that he used to be Juan Amaya, Inca. Like Fort et al., he will die all but forgotten, in or out of prison.

Who knows what happens then, Juan. Maybe some Kings’ victims await you.

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