brad brace

10/30/2007

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 11:06 am

Ploy to smuggle cocaine in shoes trips up drug ringleaders

Filed under: belize,General,global islands,wealth — admin @ 11:05 am

Unwitting couriers lured with cash, agents say.

The Mexican vacation was supposed to be free for dozens of Columbus-area residents. But they paid the price when they went to prison for smuggling drugs home in their sneakers.

Most were in their early 20s, recruited by members of an international drug ring that shipped cocaine from the Central American country of Belize to Columbus by way of Houston.

The lure was an all-expenses-paid vacation to Chetumal, Mexico, and $1,000 in cash when they returned.

The trip sold itself, said Internal Revenue Service agent Bernard Clark. “All the kids started jumping on board.”

Some of the couriers didn’t know until they got to Mexico what they were being asked to do, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Robyn Jones Hahnert. Others were told before they left home.

When they returned to Port Columbus, they wore the shoes with cocaine hidden in the soles.

Investigators got a break when the ringleaders became bolder and greedier.

The trips became more frequent. Shipments that started with a pound or so of cocaine in each shoe doubled to more than 2 pounds apiece. And the shoes eventually caught the eye of U.S. customs agents.

“They had women wearing men’s size 12 shoes,” Jones Hahnert said. She likened them to “Bozo the clown shoes.”

More than 30 couriers ended up serving a few months to a few years in federal prison. Others charged in the case included people who recruited the couriers and kept an eye on them once they had the cocaine, and people who sold the drugs in the Columbus area.

But for 10 years, the three brothers thought to be the ringleaders of the operation remained at large.

Now, thanks to a U.S. marshal who never gave up on the case, two of the three are in custody, accused of smuggling 74 kilos — nearly 163 pounds — of cocaine into Columbus, Jones Hahnert said.

All are natives of Belize and took refuge there when they learned they were being sought, Jones Hahnert said.

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 5:18 am

Leptospirosis Leaves 9 Dead in Nicaragua

Filed under: General,global islands,nicaragua — admin @ 5:17 am

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — A waterborne disease spread through animal urine has killed nine people and sickened more than 1,600 in storm-stricken Nicaragua, health officials said Monday.

The disease, leptospirosis, was spread by flooding caused by a month of intense rains and category-5 Hurricane Felix, which hit northeastern Nicaragua last month, President Daniel Ortega said Sunday.

As of midday Monday, nine people had died of the disease and 1,606 people had fallen ill, Lt. Col. Guillermo Lopez, deputy chief of the country’s Civil Defense Department, told reporters.

The highest number of cases, 745, appeared in the northwestern city of Somotillo, Lopez said.

The infectious disease is usually contracted through cuts in the skin. It is spread because the urine of rats, cows and pigs ends up in pools of standing water during stormy weather.

Symptoms include high fevers, vomiting, nosebleeds and intense muscle aches, especially in the knees and calves.

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 5:11 am

Bird's nest industry conduit for money laundering

Filed under: General,global islands,thailand,wealth — admin @ 5:10 am

The bird’s nest industry in Thailand is a conduit for money laundering and could be funnelling more than Bt100 million a year, according a study by the Thailand Research Fund.

Kasem Jandam, who conducted a research project on the bird’s nest business in southern Thailand, found illegal collecting of bird’s nests at sites on 66 islands located off the Gulf of Thailand and in the Andaman Sea.

He said these areas were is outside the 104 islands that were deemed as legal concession areas for the collecting of bird’s nests in Thailand under the 1942 Swiftlet Bird’s Nest Tax Act.

The government could be losing tax revenue of more than Bt100 million baht per year per site in eight provinces in southern Thailand including Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Surat Thani, Phatthalung, Phangnga, Krabi, Trang and Satun.

Bird’s nest industry conduit for money laundering

Filed under: General,global islands,thailand,wealth — admin @ 5:10 am

The bird’s nest industry in Thailand is a conduit for money laundering and could be funnelling more than Bt100 million a year, according a study by the Thailand Research Fund.

Kasem Jandam, who conducted a research project on the bird’s nest business in southern Thailand, found illegal collecting of bird’s nests at sites on 66 islands located off the Gulf of Thailand and in the Andaman Sea.

He said these areas were is outside the 104 islands that were deemed as legal concession areas for the collecting of bird’s nests in Thailand under the 1942 Swiftlet Bird’s Nest Tax Act.

The government could be losing tax revenue of more than Bt100 million baht per year per site in eight provinces in southern Thailand including Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Surat Thani, Phatthalung, Phangnga, Krabi, Trang and Satun.

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