27 December 2008

The Paranoia Squad

i assume George Monbiot is OK? This from "the Truth Seeker", which sounds a bit swively-eyed and green inky: http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/

But fits with today's other posts: end of the animal rights militia, so the cops need a new enemy!

Boat burglaries up says insurer

Winter a common time for burglaries from boats. Leave a note saying all valuables have been removed. Not sure how many boatowners read this blog, but thefts up 20% in 2008

Animal Rights Activists Guilty of Blackmail

End of a particularly unpleasant campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences and its suppliers?

Police crackdown on prostitution expected to close 1,200 brothels

I wonder if anyone has worked out the economic consequences of that? Risk-profiling? It all sounds good as an attack on human trafficking, and on class A drug taking, but there are other impacts to assess.

The results of the privatisation of immigration detention

Given that all UK politicians seem capable of doing is copying US madness, here's a vision of our future. If you pay $100 a day for each suspected illegal immigrant locked up, everyone gets locked up.
"In a sinking economy, immigration detention is a rare growth industry."
Just make sure you have papers and they're in order!

16 December 2008

Scores held in anti-Mafia raids

Aim of carabinieri to prevent the rebuilding of the Sicilian Mafia. Other papers say that those arrested were trying to set up a Supreme Council to resolve disputes

15 December 2008

The Madoffometer

FT website tallying reports on losses admitted by banks investing in Madoff.

BBVA may los 300m euros from Madoff

FT article with links to other pieces on emerging losses from European banks in connection with alleged fraud

Human Trafficking Working Group Website

University of Queensland has launched a new website on human trafficking in Australia in collaboration wiyh University of British Columbia, Canada.

Russian Firms most likely to use bribes abroad

Transparency International publishes Bribe Payers Index.

"All Just One Big Lie"

Washington Post article on the alleged Madoff fraud, which appears to be affecting UK banking this morning. Here's the story of the impact on Jewish charities in the US

Mexico Drug Cartels send a message of Chaos, death

More beheadings, this time in Mexico. Article effectively argues that this is criminal terrorism the work of "terrorist mafias", trying to intimidate the government into stopping its crackdown.

In Rusia, a Grisly message Marks Rise in Hate Crimes

Neo Nazi skinhead gangs being blamed, but for the first time, political demands have been made and an unknown group has claimed responsibility for a beheading.

12 December 2008

Social Websites LureYoungsters into Gangs

I wonder whether cause and effect are being confused here. Time for some research funding?

Gang members in violence summit

This has happened in Glasgow. I heard a US expert say on 5Live this morning: you cant arrest your way out of this problem. They just come back out onto the streets a year later and take up where they left off. The model is the Boston Ceasefire Project.

$50 billion fraud charge at hedge fund

Apologies for the absence. Your blogger has been having his wrist dewired. Normal service should now resume.

This case involves Bernard Madoff, former chair of Nasdaq and later of a hedge fund, unidentified in this BBC piece. It is claimed he admitted his hedge fund was a giant pyramid selling scheme. We shall find out in court.

06 December 2008

Mumbai attacks: police admit there were more than ten attackers

The maths always did seem wrong and at least two gunmen seemed to disappear from the timeline-style accounts. All we can be certain of is that there will be more arrests.

The FBI hero who joined the Mafia

Trial of an undercover agent who allegedly changed sides. Or did he? Murky story of the use of Irish-American gangsters against Italian-American gangsters. How complicit was the FBI leadership> Already made a good film. The books will be out as soon as the trial is over. An IRA dimension to the allegations as well

BAE accused of £100m secret payments to secure South African arms deal

A word of warning on this, in that it is a story that only the Guardian is pursuing seriously over here. Your blogger was not allowed to use BAE- pinochet deals as a case study in a report to a client. So it is all "alleged" m'lud. If you go to the December 5th story linked from this report : http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/05/bae-armstrade, you will note that the man who wouldnt let the SFO prosecute in another case, allegedly acted as lobbyist in this one....conflict of interest? Well, he was PM, so he wouldnt have been paid. So that's all right then. All done "in the national interest".

Gang rapists of girl, 14, named

This blog has noted how gang culture is expanding throughout the UK. This is intimidation worthy of the Congo or Darfur. But we have also seen how gang culture can expand in jails, particular examples coming from the U.S., but parallels beginning to appear under the aegis of jihadist groups in UK jails.
So send them to jail by all means, but is there a unit to prevent them maintaining gang structure while incarcerated? Or even a policy? Or only Ian Duncan-Smith? Where do I sign on for a gated community?

05 December 2008

DNA database breach of rights

Not really sure which source to use for this story. The decision was unanimous. Judges from 17 countries including the UK agreed that keeping data indefinitely on people not even convicted was against human rights. Another "no-brainer". Thew Home Office could have followed Scottish practice and there would never have been a case. Lazy politicians and an over-mighty Home Office combine yet again! Who is giving them legal advice....or is the question why don't they take it? And why is it a matter for the Home Office anyway when the UK now has a Ministry of Justice? Another finals exam paper emerging here....

Paris Thieves Steal $100m jewels

BBC TV was suggesting an East European connection as the jewellery will be easier to sell there.

03 December 2008

Report on Damian Green arrest sent to CPS

This Guardian article includes a statement from the acting Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Ive not bothered to blog this affair, although it may yet turn out to involve crimes of the powerful. I suspect, however, that the real struggle is about the succession to Sir Ian Blair, but just who i up to what exactly I cant yet see for the smoke and mirrors.
The reorganisation of Special Branch into Counter Terrorism Command seemed a mistake at the time and if what Stephenson says here is true, then we may need a new unit to deal with allegations against top politicians and official leaks, which were/are an SB responsibility and now therefore come under CTC with all its spooky paranoia and excess of powers.

French studies on wartime denunciations to the Nazis

Family and neighbour disputes more frequent reason for denunciation than Jewishness. An awful warning of how petty people can be and why police power has to be controlled...in the Torygraph even!

01 December 2008

33 face "crash for cash" rap in court

This little scam has been quite common in France and Germany for a while, but usually involving car theft. Intriguing to see Liverpool leading the way as usual!

30 November 2008

Elderly Shoplifters on the rise in Japan

You would not believe the trouble I got into for suggesting this might happen 15 years ago, when the demographics were quite clear...ah me...be a crimnologist and never a futorologist! The piece can still be viewed on the web

Gang Warfare in Limerick

Same depressing story as Liverpool or any of the increasingly mean cities of the world...Is there a strategy out there for dealing with it?

29 November 2008

Security chiefs fear 70 style violence

Article really says that intelligence chiefs have to plan how to cope with a similar attack on a city for which they are responsible. It isnt yet clear how many gunmen there were, after all.

28 November 2008

Use leverage to attack corruption before accession say experts

I hear there is EU money available for teaching your granny to suck eggs....

Bulgaria bitter over Brussels decision on graft

Oops...Bulgarian politicians shocked at losing EU aid because theyre so corrupt! The rest of us are shocked to discover the Commission has teeth!

The Risk of Piracy, Chechen-style

Yulia Latynina has a completely different take on just about everything. But what if she's right? Insurgents begin as benevolent...then realise they can make money...then acquire an ideology to legitimise killing and stealing...and what a punchline:
"The United States always hopes for the best and ends up with the worst"

Militants claim shooting of Vldikavkaz mayor

Just in case we forget...There are still odd things going on down in the Caucasus too. But no UK citizens are involved, so don't expect to read too much about them!

Calderon reconoce que la mitad de los policias mexicanos son "no recomendables"

Something needs to be done about the Mexican police!

A Renewed Focus on Abductions

Comments on kidnapping gangs in Mexico and possible police involvement

Characteristics of plot suggest attackers were trained outside India, analysts say

Washington Post overviews analysts and appears to disagree with Murdoch Press

India cannot pin all the blame on outsiders

Dear me! i forgot the Murdoch Press. Heres the Times guest columnist, Maria Misra. Article stresses the multifarious nature of recent terrorism in India and warns of Hindu extremism too.

The terrorists' tactics in Mumbai

Telegraph article, suggesting that the attack was an example of ghazwa plus tabarra. Thoughtful article by Amir Tahen, trying to take a jihadist perspective on events in Mumbai and the thoughts in the planners' minds.

The truth about prostitution in Britain

Big feature on the sex industry in the UK by the Independent. Not as much on organised crime as there might be. Theres inklings of a debate and figures at the end of the piece

Mumbai attacks show method

Piece argues that the "frontal assault" approach is derived from Kashmiri groups. Terrorism in India has previously involved timed explosives

Seven face life sentences for Hells Angel murder

Another feud that will run and run. Its important to try and understand motivation and history here. Then the economics, which are massively important for motorcycle gangs elsewhere in the world.

They were in no hurry. Cool and composed, they killed and killed

Beginnings of the story emerging. Map here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2008/nov/27/india-terrorism

I promise I will move on to other media in a moment!

Somali Pirates Hijack Chemical Tanker

Two British security guards on board, so this will get exposure in the UK media. Ah! They jumped overboard: http://tinyurl.com/6kp6gu. That's OK then

Claims emerge of British Terrorists in Mumbai

Dangerous to jump to conclusions, but a lot of people are!

Smugglers Run Rife in Transdnestria

Im not sure that this is the correct name for this enclave any more. The reporter seems unaware that there is a major EU confidence-building programme under way. Your blogger would be participating, but for his broken wrist! For those interested, the bones are finally in the right place and a time frame for recovery has begun!

27 November 2008

What do the Mumbai attacks mean globally

Interesting piece by Jason Burke. I will add more pieces of analysis as they turn up. The figure of 2,700 dead in terrorist attacks in India last year is a particularly significant one.

21 November 2008

Hezbollah's Youth Movement

Fascinating article from New York Times, one of a series on youth movements. Describes some of the different structures that make up Hezbollah.

19 November 2008

Israeli Mob Swears Vengeance as it Buries Boss

Sounds like there is going to be a vendetta, which may reach outside Israel's borders.

Pirates Strike Again

7 successful hijackings in 12 days as well as several failed attempts. Somalia becoming a major problem in several ways, with Islamic militants on the rise elsewhere. Time for some self-proclaimed state-building experts to emerge?

Cocaine Users are Destroying the Rainforest

This is an original line to take against the recreational user. There have been a number of items from this conference worth posting, so I will see what I can find for your delectation.

13 November 2008

How Fraudsters found bigger "phish" to fry

Read this article in FT on paper version yesterday. Website being restructured, so cant get into it to provide a direct link, but its an excellent piece on targetted phishing. You need to register with FT to read it. Will try to get proper link next week when site reconstruction complete

Court Ignores Prosecutors, Bulbov Still in Jail

Update in Moscow Times on clan warfare in the Russian security services. Depressing stuff for anyone hoping for the Rule of Law to be established in Russia.

Catching up with the "internet pimps"

Trial report marking end of "Operation Gib". Nine people from Thailand jailed.

report on Europol from House of Lords Committee

These reports are worth reading. About the only stuff from the UK on European issues that is!

Surprise surprise, the UK database is not compatible with Europol's. What they don't say is just how incredible this is, as Europol's is based on Windows architecture. Your blogger wrote a piece on this some years ago. the BBC piece doesnt mention the legal obstacles to data sharing. I would suspect the full report does. Ah Europe! It doth make idiots of so many otherwise rational Brits.

A Senior Fellow at the Institute of Non-Existence

A cautionary tale for all bloggers and surfers...A fake expert with a real name. Sarah Palin may have been wrongly accused on Africa.

Colombians Riot over Pyramid Scam

Article seems to say that bank charges are so high, pyramid schemes appear attractive...

Spam Plummets as Gang leaves Net

ISPs pull plug on McColo, but effect unlikely to last.

Spy in the Sky leads police to stolen JCB on European Tour

Tracking device leads to return of digger stolen in Durham and found in the Netherlands after a brief visit to Germany. it would be interesting to know more about the structure of the "gang" of international machinery thieves. One for Klaus von Lampe, I believe!

12 November 2008

Human Trafficking Unit to Disband

Hmmm...Cui bono? Home Office argues this is core police business and all comstabularies should be fighting it. Others argue for a specialised unit. But why in the Met rather than SOCA? Going to be a few more clashes of interest like this. Where are the political voices? Carousing drunkenly in the background?

Ah well, what else would you expect from a country that hasnt done anything about implementing the OECD Convention on Corruption?

Shining Path returns

Change in ideology leads to resurgence in Peru. But it is also claimed that survival is linked to cooperation with drug traffickers. New leadership opposes Guzman and "Gang of four" style ideology. We shall see what emerges from the altiplano.

Mafia boosted by credit crisis

Small businesses forced to borrow from Mafia loan sharks

Thieves Steal Village Church Brick by Brick

I only include this because Russian criminal entrepeneurship has a habit of creeping West...

17 held as police smash drug-smuggling gangs

Kent, South London and Teesside arrests. Drugs, money-laundering and mortgage fraud the offences involved, smuggling involved Spain and France. Prosecution will be interesting.

09 November 2008

Sheep Rustlers Ride Again

Independent on Sunday article. Regular readers will know this is our third piece in recent weeks....Mischief-making journalism? Or a trend. You work out how much content there is in this piece

Obama backs crackdown on tax havens

Or does he? Point of article appears to be yet another Guardian angle attack on Brown for being a "light touch" regulator. Another bit of journalistic undergrowth beating, but one that might turn out to have a pheasant somewhere in it.

07 November 2008

Credit Crunch Sheep Rustling

This is the main story in the Western Morning News, the South West Region's paper! Its Christmas, so out come the rustlers. Sorry for the up and down appearance of the blog at the moment. Your blogger has broken his arm again. Second time this year.

05 November 2008

Terrorism Financing Blacklists at Risk

Article is more about the lack of legality of the blacklist approach. There needs to be a clear procedure for de-listing and an opportunity for individuals and companies to know of what they are accused. The relevant decisions of the European Court of Justice were linked by this blog when they were first made.

03 November 2008

Top Mexico police chief resigns over drug cartel allegations

Unusual for someone to resign, especially since allegations seem to originate from rival gangs of traffickers. Wonder what the back story is.

MP Peter Kilfoyle: John Haase told me he bribed Michael Howard

This story was in Friday's Liverpool Echo. I only saw it because I was looking for news of the Everton team for Saturday. It didnt make any of the posh papers, so it can't be important or true...

The gigolo, the German heiress and a £6m revenge for her Nazi legacy

This will make a great film. The BMW heiress and a greedy con man. The Independent must be the last UK newspaper to be keeping the crime stories going.

Drug Smuggler Acquitted for third time in a decade

We will have to wait for Private Eye to dot the "i"s and cross the "t"s on this one. Curtis Warren's name mentioned in the article.

30 October 2008

Deadly Bomb Blasts rock North East India

firstly: we should always worry about the next problem coming over the horizon. Is India it? Secondly: on the cui bono test, could elements from the ISI be expanding a destabilisation campaign? It would be interesting to know if the technological signature is similar to those around Bangalore not so long ago.

Antiviral Scareware

Story of what appears to be a Russian business that may have many aspects.

28 October 2008

Captured in a hail of bullets, drug lord who left trail of severed heads

Eduardo Arellano Felix captured. One of seven brothers who founded the Arellano Felix cartel which is a major force in cross-border smuggling into the Southern US

27 October 2008

Cartel reportedly infiltrated Mexican Attorney General's Office

Also the US Embassy. Drug cartel thus had advance notice of operations.

22 October 2008

Russian Economic Official Abruptly Freed from Jail

Finance Minister Kudrin obtains the release of an ally, deputy mimister Storchak in the battle between Kremlin liberals and the silovki, according to the Washington Post.
Moscow Times broadly agrees: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/600/42/371832.htm

21 October 2008

86 on trial in Turkey Coup Case

Ive been avoiding posting news about this trial until I could find an American link. The issue of Turkey's admission to the EU is too prominent in the EU to get a sensible article. Essentially, the Turkish prosecutors seem to be alleging that there was a group called Ergenekon who were similar to the Gladio network in Italy and other West European countries, using destabilasation tactics against the Islamist parties in the same way these tactics were used against Communist parties. The trial has a long way to go.
BBC story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7679158.stm

UN cites $20 million in fraud

Washington Post article on corruption fraud and mismanagement in UN's own contracts. Report of UN taskforce on procurement fraud. Involves cases in Congo, Kenya Greece and New York.

Garzon frees 10 "jihadists"

More from el Pais. Clearly the Spanis jihadist story is not cut and dried. Ministry of the Interior locking up lots of alleged jihadists, but here's our controversial friend, Baltasar Garzon, the judge who wanted to prosecute Pinochet, letting them out again, if I read the Spanish correctly. Lots of names in this article.
CNN published an English version of this story the following day: http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/10/21/spain.terror.arrests/index.html

"Hemos eliminados a 25 infieles"

Judge Ruz investigating and putting on trial a gang of robbers on Costa del Sol funding killings in Mauretania and Algeria. Gang was formed in prison Topas in Salamanca where much recruitment took place between 1999 and 2002. Leaders: Mohammed Achraf and Abdelhakim Fekkar. Lots of information in this piece and in general in el Pais. I will have to stop reading cambio16's successor paper!

Spain Seeks Arrest of Duma deputy

article from Moscow Times. Baltasar Garzon issued proceedings in connection with investigation of Gennady Petrov, alleged Russian crime boss arrested in Mallorca. Vladimir Reznik is head of the Dumas Financial markets Committeeand was allegedly sold a villa in Mallorca by Petrov. Duma Speaker Boris Gryzliv has defended Reznik.

20 October 2008

Silence of the damned

In depth article on the Camorra in Naples. Very depressing, but some useful stuff on organisation. Argues the Camorra consists of warring clans and is not centralised.

Espana es objetivo y cantera de al Qaeda

Interesting piece in el Pais. Security Force in Spain on maximum alert. They see Spain as a target and a transit camp for terrorists heading for Iraq and Afghanistan. Judge Baltazar Garzon is running an investigation into jihadist networks in Spain, which led to a major police operation last week. Al Kalaa [Fortress of the warriors] was the name of a base in Barcelona for preparing activists to go to Iraq. [please excuse any hiccups in translation here!]

Mohamed Moghrabi Drives to Germany

I just came across this as part of a series of articles in OMNI [Oh My News International] written by Ludwig de Braeckeleer. It appears to be trying to document an alternative explanation of the Lockerbie disaster. I present it for general interest.

Drugs worth £1 million seized in UK cruise ship raid

Cocaine seized in raid on cruise ship Arcadia in Southampton. Breaking news at the time of posting.

Waves of Smuggled Russian Cigarettes Flood Europe

This is a piece about a particular brand, Jin Ling, manufactured by the Baltic Tobacco Company in Kaliningrad, allegedly from Brazilian tobacco sold it by BAT [British American Tobacco]. There is a link to a report by the Washington based group: International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

19 October 2008

FBI Struggles to Handle Wave of Financial Fraud Cases

Hmmm. So Osama bin Laden has unintentionally assisted white collar crime in the US by conning the FBI into transferring a third of its agents to terrorism and intelligence duites. Yeah, sure. As you get to the end of the article it becomes clear that senior figures in the Bush Administration thought the FBI investigations in this area were anti-business. But you can blame anything on the Tora Bora pimpernel! [discuss]

Al Qaeda Web forums Abruptly taken Off-Line

Washington Post piece on web conflicts between Sunni and Shia, interference by Western security agencies and possible attacks by individual hackers. Something going on out there. Not clear quite what, but the effect has been to take the majority of al Qaeda propaganda off-line.

Response to 9/11 was "huge overreaction" says ex-MI5 Chief

Stella Rimington interviewed by Guardian...I think for the release of her latest book. Full interview at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/oct/18/iraq-britainand911
Ms. Rimington wonders aloud whether the Press continue to pursue an old myth about how the secret services work. Since they do in every other field, it shouldnt really surprise us...

Stone Age man took drugs, say scientists

The Sun will have a better headline than this tomorrow. Another factor to be taken into account in studies of Neolithic trade routes.

Crime maps "will guide criminals"

At first sight, it's the Chair of the Police Federation sounding off in Luddite fashion. He does, however, have a point. Intelligence can be used by both sides in unpredictable ways.

The Baader-Meinhof Group: First Modern Terrorists?

Very thoughtful review by Bryan Appleyard of new Baader -Meinhof film. Stefan Aust's book is to be republished in updated form next month. It's a must-buy!

Passports will be needed to buy mobile phones

So when are they going to introduce bicycle licenses...and registration plates? I suppose it will happen once CCTV has become ubiquitous. I can remember John Alderson years ago, as his opening joke, suggesting tongue in cheek that one day there would be a female Labour Home Secretary that would empower police officers to check whether male testicles were adequately supported...

Wine Frauds Leave Buyers in the Red

Fraudsters flod panicking investors wine as investment opportunities...As Satnam Tumani, SFO investigator says: 'The question people need to ask themselves is, why are they being asked for money? If these companies can really make 200 per cent returns in a year, why aren't they simply going to the banks and borrowing the money to buy the wine themselves?'

Jamaica puzzled by theft of beach

I suppose if theres a monetary exchange value for it, someone will nick it...Or is that being neo-liberal?

Belgium seizes "people smugglers"

Indian men from Punjab being smuggled to UK via Moscow and Belgium. Two of those arrested alleged by prosecutors to be the core of the network, controlling lots of little groups, sometimes playing them off against each other.

17 October 2008

Government condemned for Failure to Tackle Bribery

Lets see now...a country that has failed to guarantee the political independence of its anti fraud investigative agency, has failed to implement the OECD Convention against corruption....any other country but the UK would find itself blacklisted by a majority of international organisations. Why havent we done it?

Link between hardore child porn and terrorism discovered

Times headline a little lurid. Child porn images being used to transmit messages, police have discovered. Some in jihadist groups, some in right wing groups, some in groups unnamed. The comments below the story are also interesting.

70 guns discovered in Belfast house

Allegedly linked to the UVF. Story still developing.

Fraudsters' Website Shut in Swoop

The website was used by criminals to buy and sell credit card details and bank logins. 60 people arrested so far. According to FiveLive, the website included tutorials on how to commit fraud.

16 October 2008

Tupman on the Exeter bombing

Well, I didnt expect to be the sole "expert" interviewed! Hope the local police are still talking to me!

Mob Muscles its way into politics in Bulgaria

New York Times piece blaming the EU for organised crime in Bulgaria. Not wholly fair. The organisations sprang as much out of "shock therapy" and then saw possibilities in grabbing EU aid programmes. Once you get past the outdated neo-liberal ideology of the authors, however, there is a lot of information in the piece and it refers to an OLAF report, bits of which have leaked, on organised crime in Bulgaria.

Man admits Restaurant Bomb Attack

This update to yesterday's story fills in a lot more of the details, more, I must admit, than I expected. ACC Debbbie Simpson is quoted as saying the police do not think anyone else helped him to assemble the bombs. He was groomed by extremists he met in Plymouth. He was in contact with two individuals overseas through his YouTube page.

15 October 2008

Security Services want personal data from sites like Facebook

Ah me! Once we used to say that the continental police were surveillance agents of the state and our police were servants of the public. Remember how recently the state was supposed to be reducing its role and even withering away? Another victory for the enemies of democracy, or the unholy alliance of spooks and terrorists. [Discuss]

Study says terrorists pay with credit cards

Full report available at: http://www.shift4.com/pdf/s4-wp0806_terrorism-and-credit-card-information-theft.pdf

Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania sign trilateral agreement on combatting organised crime

Seems like a good idea. As long as it isnt just an excuse for big dinners masquerading as cooperation. Drugs and cigarettes the prime targets, but trafficking in human beings also a problem.

Man admits restaurant bomb attack

This is the story of the unexpected explosion in an Exeter restaurant. Leaves many unanswered questions, which appears to be the way the authorities want it.

US shuts down global spam gang

Well actually they've seized the assets of an alleged couple of members of the HerbalKing gang who are responsible for all the sex drug messages you get each day. It wont immediately reduce the amount of spam in our inboxes. The gang controls a botnet of 30,000 zombie computers. This sends out 10 billion messages a day. Keep scanning your system!

13 October 2008

Newsletter of the Standing Group on Organised Crime

The latest issue of our Newsletter is now out.

Prostitutes "hidden" on Eurobanknotes

This had to come from the Telegraph. Part of a campaign to warn Ukrainian women of the dangers of seeking black market employment in the West.

Man Cleared of £26.5 million bank robbery

I missed this in last week's news. This is the Northern Bank robbery in Belfast of which the IRA have been accused and Sinn Fein have denied involvement. Evidence against an individual alleged by prosecutors to be the "inside man" turns out to have been circumstantial and open to a totally different interpretation, so prosecution withdrawn and he has been declared innocent.

Muslim gangs "force inmates to convert"

Chief Inspector of Prisons singles out Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire as having a particular problem with an extremist group pressurising othe Muslims, but also non-Muslims.

Lotto scam "fuels Jamaica crime"

Jamaican version of advanced fee fraud, but Jamaican police say that a high proportion of funds defrauded are being used to buy high-powered weapons.

Environment Criminals build $10 bn Empire on ivory, timber and skins

Article also mentions banned gas refrigerants...presumably CFCs? Report from the Environmental Investigation Agency. http://www.eia-international.org/ This is a UK-based charity.

Bank Turmoil Fuels Phishing Boom

Makes sense. So many people with no clue as to what's going on, or who they bank with are all going to be easier to convince to send their details and passwords in response to an email.

07 October 2008

Kazakh Crisis Blamed on Crime

Let me see now...theyre going to hand over control of construction projects that are in trouble to the banks??!! Havent they been reading the papers?

Poker-game Execution as Italy Declares War on Mafia

Intimidatory shooting of the Uncle of a man who had turned state's evidence in a Camorra trial. Looks like the Independent has a correspondent based in Italy for a while, so we should get more of these stories.

A chance to crack down on Africa's loot-seeking elites

Curious little comment piece that starts by comparing the criminal opportunities involved in running a chip shop and running a bank. Argues that the banking crisis [lets stop calling it the credit crunch. My grandfather used to call such incidents a "banker's ramp"] provides an opportunity to bring the banks under proper scrutiny. Dream on!

Animal Activists in International Plot, Jury Told

Trial of alleged SHAC members for their campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences has begun. Nasty business, involving targetting individuals in their homes in a campaign of intimidation. Used the names of the Animal Liberation Front and the Animal Rights Militia for some of their activities.

French Elite on Trial in $791m Angola arms case

Sale of old Soviet weapons 1993-1998 to President dos Santos to use against Unita. Loads of allegations and lots of individuals named, but sounds awfully like one of those cases in which verdicts prove impossible to reach. With a new round of negotiations coming up over access to Angolan oil, my money would be on a brushing under the carpet. Two central suspects and a cast of about 42 linked in one way or another. Most interesting name against whom allegations are being made is Charles Pasqua, former Minister of the Interior. Second most interesting for UK readers will be Arkady Gaydamak, whose son owns Portsmouth FC. Oh and Mitterand's son is in there too. We shall see, said the old cynic.

Croatia "mafia hit" spurs sacking

Prime Minister of Croatia sacks Interior Minister, Justice Minister and Chief of Police after mafia hit on daughter of lawyer defending general accused of embezzling $5million worth of jewels to use to make deals during Croatia's war of independence. The latest in a series of incidents, apparently.

06 October 2008

Taliban split with al Qaeda seek peace

Hmmmm....Story from CNN, attributed to "sources". lots of rumours that Saudi Arabia is trying to broker a peace deal with the Taliban and clear signals coming from the military that clear victory unlikely. At least Gulbadin Hekmatyar had a representative present. Now what would such a peace do to the border areas with Pakistan and the Taliban-style militants there...not to say the al Qaeda headquarters, which must be on the move as we write?

Police Raids Uncover Cannabis Factories in Rented Houses in Exeter

A little bit of local news I spotted at the weekend. This is clearly going on all over the country. There have been entries on the blog from Belfast and Scotland. Presumably other local papers are reporting their own local stories. Vietnamese and Chinese gangs have been blamed elsewhere, but no-one was found at the scene in sunny Exeter. So what is the nature of the organisation here exactly? Is it individuals or is there a loose organisation, with central capitalisation and marketing?

Fraudster's "pop-star" lifestyle

Article is a bit breathless, but it seems to come down to 21 people being jailed for a £138 million carousel fraud involving VAT on non-existent mobile phones. The journalist has focussed in on the alleged launderer of the group. Ah, OK..it's a puff for the Donal MacIntyre programme broadcast on FiveLive Sunday 5th October. I should realise by now that the intention of these pieces is to get you to listen or watch. Better go download!

Drug Cartel Bloodbath on Mexican Border Claims 50 lives

Actually, if you read down, it's 3,500 lives so far this year. That's 40% up on 2007, which itself was a record. Getting close to something that could really be called "narco-terrorism". But having got this far, the government has to fight on.

05 October 2008

Pin-up Girl Tells How she Spotted Suitcase Stuffed with cash

All very odd. Trial in the US over events that took place in Argentina and involve Venezuela and Argentinian Presidents. The female security officer became a Playboy nude model...

Reports Link Karzai's Brother to Heroin Trade

Fascinating story. But why is it breaking now? Apparently it has been around quite a long time. What other weird and wonderful allegations will emerge as the Bush regime sinks slowly into the sunset?

Uighur Detainees may be released to US

This will not make the Chinese authorities terribly happy! Slowly, Guantanamo Bay refugees are being released, the political need for them gone. What a sorry episode in the history of democracy.

Allegations that the most famous bottles of wine ever sold were forgeries

Ah! Schadenfreude [if that's the right spelling!] The story of the unlikely find of Thomas Jefferson's wine cellar in Paris and the people who bought the bottles. Article by the author of "the Billionaire's Vinegar". Lots of allegations and court cases are ongoing.

Spies take war on terror into cyberspace

Misleading headline. Article about setting up websites to counter jihadist propaganda sites.

On the East African Coast, Piracy is the Only Buiness that pays

If youve got a boat and you cant make money out of fishing, then you will find other ways to make money out of your boat. People and weapons smuggling make a start. Eyl is the modern Tortuga, Henry Morgan's pirate capital, says the author of this article. I used to tell students that a dissertation on piracy wasnt a good idea, because there was little written. Sudenly there's loads.

01 October 2008

Spain holds 121 over Child Porn

Long term investigation with a Brazilian angle. 18,000 further IP addresses in the network, which ill be pursued via Interpol.

Mexico's Calderon targets drug traffickers

Not sure whether this is putting the cart before the horse or shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Regular readers of this blog will know that the US strengthened its Southern border, causing displacement of drug trafficking Westward and destroying stable arrangements between gangs, leading to shoot-outs and murders, intervention by the Army, fights with the police and now....comes the plan! let me see now. The time for the plan would have been the moment the US announced its border strengthening plan...ah, ma~nana [there must be a better way to put the tilde on top of the "n" too.]

A blood feud made to order

Yulia Latynina speculates as to who shot Ruslan Yamadaev. A murky tale of Chechens and silovki...or not.

Medvedev Soldiers on in Corruption Battle

Legislation to come before the State Duma later this week. The Moscow Times reports much scepticism.

Police Arrest 100 as war declared on Naples Mafia

Not sure whether the crime correspondents or the police have just got back from their holidays, but suddenly, crime stories are appearing in the media again. This initiative aimed at the Casalesi clan of the Camorra after they were alleged to have killed 7 people on 18th September.

Fighting the Scourge of Scareware

Attorney General's Office in the US finally launching suits against spyware and scareware pop-ups. Policing the Internet is increasingly irresistible. End of a Brave New World.

30 September 2008

Fraud investigators raid BAE agents home

Austrian police carry out raid on behalf of SFO. Although the Guardian has pursued this case with determination, the story still only describes allegations, in this case to do with a deal involving the Czech Republic.

Scottish Crime "lowest since 80s"

Will London actually study what the Scots have done....If only! A week ago, they announced new offences: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edinburgh_and_east/7627335.stm is this a precedent for South of the border?

27 September 2008

Gaza's Smuggling Tunnels

One can only admire human ingenuity

26 September 2008

We can no longer afford to fund the corrupt

Comment piece by Camilla Cavendish, a journalist with a wealthy person's name, so she should know! Bit of a neo-con piece, but the Times is in the Murdoch stable, after all! It remains true, however, that a lot of aid money disappears into overseas bank accounts long before it reaches the poor, as she argues.

Terrorist chic or debunking of a myth?

Film about the Baader-Meinhof gang/ Red Army Faction causs controversy.

Somali pirates "seize 30 tanks"

A Ukranian ship carrying T 72s to Mombassa. The pirates operate out of Eyl in Puntland where they are holding a dozen ships. Suppose all they need now is fuel.

24 September 2008

Key Finance Firms probed by FBI

20 large financial firms allegedly under investigation for deceiving investors as to the strength of their institutions. We shall see whether anything ever comes of this.

22 September 2008

Number of fake £1 coins doubles

Sounds like another puff for a BBC programme. One of those "is anything really happening?" sort of stories. Probably about time the crime correspondent came up with something to justify his salary.

Alex Schmid revisits his definition of terrorism

Alex Schmid is revising his academic consensus definition of terrorism and is asking for feedback before publishing his handbook of terrorism research.

17 September 2008

MEPs call on EU states to list Hezbollah as Terrorist Group

For the moment this is a campaign by a group of MEPs and not yet the policy of the European Parliament. At present, only Israel, the US, the Netherlands and Canada consider Hezbollah a terrorist group. the UK and Australia list its military wing as a terrorist group.

Witness Ties Colombian General to Paramilitaries

Bet he wont be designated and have his assets seized! All allegations of course, but then so were yesterday's against the Chavez aides. Demonstrates another dimension to that designation....Timing! "A plague on both your houses" is the only way to run a counter=insurgency campaign long-term...and a counter organised crime strategy. Try to use people one against the other and you end up used yourself. [Is that a "Confucius he say" sort of statement? Far too early to be setting this year's exam paper.]
The witness, however, is somewhat tainted, if you read to the end of the piece. Unfortunately, so is everybody else!

Galina Brezhneva: the soap opera

The Russians have made a TV series out of Brezhnev's daughter's life. A must-see for all us old Soviet hands! The article from the Moscow Times doesnt mention the allegations of diamond smuggling and other early forms of corruption that those around her were accused of. If anyone gets the DVD, please let me know! [Yeah, in Russian would be perfect!]

Duma to vote on limits to inspections

In a move to cut opportunities for bribe taking, Russia's parliament moves to remove inspections of small and medium sized businesses. This may or may not be a step in the right direction! Keep an eye on the number of fires that follow!

11 dead after clash between Hamas and "criminal gang"

This from the Guardian. BBC more circumspect, saying that only "elements of the Doghmush clan are involved in criminality. What is interesting is that Hamas and the clans/gangs appear to be falling out. So what is the larger agenda?

Take the Masterpiece and run- the Growing Problem of Art Theft

FBI estimate art theft worth $6 billion a year. But this piece in the Times is mostly a review of a book called "Stolen" by Jonathan Webb. It claims that most art is stolen to raise money for further crime.

16 September 2008

U.S. Links Three Chavez Aides to Guerillas

3 individuals accused of assisting FARC trafficking in cocaine and arms smuggling are designated so that assets can be frozen. There's a conflict developing here. The ante is definitely being upped!

2008 Corruption perceptions Index to be released on September 23rd

Details on the website. Initiative of University of Passau and Transparency International.

Turkmenistan says gang neutralised

Shoot out in Ashkabad. Not sure if it was with a radical Islamic group, drug traffickers or both. Will keep an eye out for reemergence of story.

15 September 2008

Fears over Privacy as Police expand surveillance project

Data to be kept for 5 years, which is at odds with EU rules. It's all in the name of counter-terrorism [and everyday crime, in the small print]. Access obviously the big issue, especially since local authorities linked in. More green bin surveillance? Of course not! It will crack down on uninsured drivers...and deter criminals [that's what it sats, folks, so it must be true!]

2012 "scam" dupes foreign workers

Actually a puff for a BBC TV programme. 550 Slovaks handed over £600 to be accommodate on 3 cruise ships in the Thames in order to work on the 2012 Olympics site, according to the programme.

12 September 2008

Google Cuts Data Retention after EU Privacy Warning

Google moves to 9 months, after cutting from indefinitely to 18 months. The Commission wants anonymisation of data after 6 months.

Fraud victims "lucky" to get help

Actually, it says lucky to have the crime investigated. Whatever happened to the notion of deterrence?

11 September 2008

How Putin and his ex-KGB pals took over the Russian economy

Fortune article courtesy of CNN on Putin and his St. Petersburg associates. Basically the article grudgingly admits that Yeltsin and his mates were an economic disaster and Putin's boys have improved things. Now, however, their nationalism may start to scare off further investment. They have cleaned out the oligarchs, but the oligarchs were in bed with foreign firms and the renegotiation of deals such as the one with BP is causing concern. Corruption under Yeltsin and Putin are different, but still corruption.

Failed Afghan Drug Policy Harming Us, say Iran

Here's a twist. British authorities acknowledge that Iran is a major victim of increased Afghan drug production. Apparently we [the UK] cooperate with them in counter-narcotics.

The Players' Player

Interview with Kirk Dawes, the ex-cop who mediates between Birmingham gangs. Good to know that mediation is an option. Worrying to know that government funding is under threat. Leads to me wondering whether we need mediators to work between governments and "international terrorist groups"?? Job spec anyone?

10 September 2008

Revealed: the Truth about Brothels

Big Brothel: a Survey of the Off-street Sex Industry, commissioned by the Poppy Project. Lots of statistics. Depressing reading.

Italy: Mafia linked to mystery death of doctor

An unpleasant little story. Allegations that a doctor was killed after operating on a Mafia Don on the run.

Anti-Morales Insurgents threaten Bolivian Pipeline

Not sure that this is organised crime or terrorism yet, but it's distinctly problematic! A harbinger of things to come and a new phase in the development of Latin American conflict? Who is funding what here?

09 September 2008

Prosecutors may move to Ministry

Short article from Moscow Times that I suspect has mammoth implications. Investigative Committee of Prosecutor's Office in Russia may move to Ministry of Justice and absorb investigative branch of Ministry of Interior. Suppose this is someone flying a kite. But watch this space.

EU investigates corruption allegations against trade official

Sunday Times journalists posed as lobbyists. What then happened will eventually reach a court somewhere or other.

Developing World Drug Abuse "Up"

UNODC Report that synthetic drugs like ecstasy and amphetamines on the rise in East and South East Asia and the Middle East. Full text at: http://www.unodc.org/documents/scientific/ATS/Global-ATS-Assessment-2008-Web.pdf

"Astonishment" at terror verdicts

Unfortunately, we only have the newspapers to rely on, but the trial seemed to me one of a series in which the charges were an exaggeration of the evidence. But I suspect there's going to be a retrial, because no government agency is going to be able to accept that the ban on liquids etc on aircraft is a little over the top [and a way of forcing you to spend money at the airport shops]...as is the old shoes removal business [but it immortalises Richard Reid as the "shoe bomber"!]. We shall see. Another problem from the Blair-Blunkett period come back to haunt poor old Gordon. Anyway, there will be lots of links from this piece to other relevant sites, so it has to be on the blog.
Nice to note that our boys are blaming the Americans for making them act too soon! I would love to hear some real scientists debate whether this stuff could really have worked. But it isn't going to happen!
Please note: I'm not saying whether the threat was or was not real. I am simply saying that the evidence didn't hold up and I note that the jury felt the same way.

The Town that took on the Yakuza

Vicious turf war sparks civil challenge. Where's Yul Brinner and the boys when you need them? Police figures for number of mobsters given. No-one expects much to change, since the police have no criminal law basis to smash the gangs.

08 September 2008

Israeli PM "should be indicted"

Recommended charges, according to the BBC are: bribery, fraud, money laundering and breach of public trust. There go the peace talks!

Mail and Phone Scams Catch out 3 Million

£3.5 Billion pounds lost and less than 1 in 20 report it. Royal Mail refuses to act. Claims it has a legal obligation to deliver all mail...what? Is there no offence of abuse of the postal system? Is it the US that has that?
Could it be time to start a campaign here?

EU gives blessing for Italy's Roma Fingerprint Scheme

No it doesn't. The Commission does. This too will one day reach the Court. Fingerprinting on purely ethnic grounds a highly dangerous precedent. Is it criminal to be a member of an ethnic group? Next, as Pastor Niemoller said, it will be a religious group, then an ideological group, and finally...You! [Unless you protest]
O tempora! O mores!

EU Terror Blacklist Suffers Judicial Blow

Decision to freeze al Barakat assets overturned. You cant freeze assets without telling people why, the Court holds. Seems reasonable.

3 ships evade Pirate Attack off Somalia

Piracy seems to be spreading. Are we insured?

Police Identify Criminals from Texts

God help us! "Language scientists"! Another gravy train arriving too late for me! Havent they heard of predictive texts?

Bribe to illegally seize a firm put at $30,000

Oh and the cost of getting a court ruling? $35,000. How utterly depressing. Report on business in Russia by the National anti-Corruption Committee and the Phoenix Group with Transparency International. OK, OK. I'll find the URL for you! Just back from the Symposium on Organised and Economic Crime at Jesus College Cambridge. Recovering!

05 September 2008

How the terror cells link up

Cute little interactive Venn diagram on the links between the al Qaeda operatives in britain have emerged from the court cases that have already happened. Not sure whether all these cases have finished, so some of this material needs to be treated as "alleged" al Qaeda operatives....How many are actually "self-professed"? Cave journalism...but I wish i could create these myself!

03 September 2008

How books changed mafia Man's Life

review of Louis Ferrante's book on his life in the Mafia. "I was 17 years old. I liked girls. I liked to drive fast cars. I liked hamburgers and French fries.

"And I'd just realised that I liked to hijack trucks".

02 September 2008

Italy's Dead Man Walking

Roberto Saviano, his book on the Camorra and his consequent death sentence fom the gang.

26 August 2008

Al Qaeda Masters Terrorism on the Cheap

Excellent Washington Post piece on how al Qaeda bypasses "the global financial dragnet".

22 August 2008

This enemy is media friendly and has a bewildering array of allies and rivals

Jason Burke has written a background piece for the Guardian, spelling out just how complex the picture is in Afghanistan, including "criminal gangs" as well as insurgents. A thoughtful piece of writing.

21 August 2008

Fraud Case Judge Attacks Targets Culture

Bloke defrauded the NHS by inventing people he had cured of smoking! £45 per "success"! Involved the Kensington and Chelsea Primary Care Trust. Ah entrepeneurship!

MI5 Report Challenges views on terrorism in Britain

They're not mad, they're not bad, they're not particularly religious and they arent demographically identifiable either. There is no profile. The red tops, surprise surprise, are wrong. Guardian article, summarising report. keep an eye open for the full text.

20 August 2008

Kenya ex-graft czar urges amnesty

What on earth is a graft czar? Ah. The head of anti-corruption who fled the country after exposing the Anglo-Leasing scandal which involved several ministers [allegedly]. We will hear more from John Githongo now he has returned to Kenya under a new government.

Canada Extradites alleged Mafia boss to Italy

Giuseppe Coluccio, suspected 'Ndragheta drug trafficker now back in Italian jail. Few other details in this piece.

15 August 2008

Cocaine Use Trebles in a Decade

Cocaine and ecstasy up, cannabis down and heroin and crack stable with user population ageing. Department of Health resarch with comments from Drugscope and Transform. Cocaine will probably come down if there are job losses in the City as the "recession" bites: that's my prediction, not the report's!

Online Consumers at Risk and the Role of State Attorney Generals

Report from the American Centre for Progress [ http://www.americanprogress.org/] working with the Centre for Democracy and Technology [http://www.cdt.org/]. Few people being prosecuted for online fraud. Paedophilia a bigger priority.

How Safe is Your area? Met Launch Electronic Crime Mapping Trial

The problem's in the headline. Its a tool for insurance companies and estate agents. There isn't actually very much you can do about it yourself. It will raise fear of crime and is unlikely to prevent crime...But we shall see if anything changes. Truth is, there arent all that many resources available to shuffle around. Policing is responsive, not proactive and will continue to be until someone works out how to change the relationship between control room and constable.

14 August 2008

Bogus email hits scams watchdog

Latest spam/417 email purports to be from Trading Standards Central offering "prizes".

11 August 2008

FATF Best Practices Paper on Trade Based Money Laundering

More boxes to tick for all you bankers out there!

Mexican Cartels Running pot farms in US National Forest

Thanks Monty, I missed this. This is Sequoia National Forest, California and again illustrates the complexity of illicit business. This time Mexican cartels are alleged to be using illegal immigrants to cultivate the plants. But closer reading reveals these people are family or close family friends, brought in illegally, not just any old illegal immigrant. Which fits in with the van Duyne von Lampe picture of "organised" crime.

Drug Dealers buy Washington state vineyards to hide pot

All this going on in Yakima Valley. Sounds like a double bonus for them: money laundering through property and double cropping marijuana plants among the vines.

Italy Holds Five on Terror Charge

But also of interest is the charge that they committed insurance fraud to finance their operations. Police in Bologna allege the group was recruiting suicide bombers

Three Jailed for Drug Gang Death

Vietnamese cannabis factory in South Wales. Sounds as though there is some very unpleasant competition going on.

08 August 2008

British Crime Lords Rule £40 billion underworld

ACPO has a map...what ever happened to SOCA? Crime in the UK still controlled by Brits! It would be good to see the whole overview. A few snippets in here to tantalise, like: Bradford is the money-laundering capital of the UK!

Australian police bust international drugs ring

Very brief CNN story about seizure of 5 tons of ecstasy shipped from Italy, allegedly.

06 August 2008

Former mob boss Gotti held

The Guardian article seems to be suggesting that the arrest is part of an ongoing FBI campaign to disrupt what remains of the Gambino family.

Russian Gang Hacking PCs in vast scheme

Also from New York Times. Gang using administrator level passwords to get into networks and create botnets.

US cracks "biggest ID fraud case"

11 charged with theft of credit card details, but only one of them in custody at present. For UK readers, this is the TJMaxx case. New York Times article at: http://tinyurl.com/6z8wus

04 August 2008

Jury Fails to Reach Verdict in July 7th Case

hadn't been following this one, I must admit. Jury couldn't agree.

How Karadzic Stired Global Terror

Good Lord! Is there something the Times can't hold Gordon Brown responsible for?? Massive oversimplification as usual, but one for Americans to read. The enemy of my enemy isnt always my friend! Supporting jihadists in the name of overthrowing "Communism" [remember it?] was never a great policy, wherever it was tried. But a nice argument here that bin Laden and Karadzic were effectively an unholy alliance. Robin Harris squares some fascinating circles in this piece. but read it critically, my children.

Shop man Kaleem Akhtar's Secret Life as Gun-runner

Story from the local Liverpool papers. Apparently the gang caused a "spike" in gun crime figures, selling Russian Baikal pistols converted from firing blanks to firing bullets.

Latest on the BoNy arguments in the Moscow Court

Moscow Times article, giving some colour to proceedings in the Moscow Court of Arbitration. Is RICO internationally applicable?

Spanish Banknotes Carry Heaviest Cocaine Traces

Sorry, having trouble with blogging because have fallen over and broken glasses. Can read the headlines, but not much of the text. This seemed to be a relevant article, though, even if only to wonder how these guys get grants for this sort of research. Apologies for spelling mistakes too. No opticians appointments til Thursday! So it will be a couple of weeks before normal interaction is resumed.

03 August 2008

Deal with Shia Prisoner Left Basra at Mercy of Gangs, Colonel Admits

Hmmm. I would like to see the full interview with Colonel Iron. They will be discussing this deal in Staff Colleges for years to come. Same as the deal over Musa Qala.

01 August 2008

Gods and mobsters: the story of an East End "enforcer"

Story of a man who changed his life around. Maybe a film coming,

30 July 2008

CIA Outlines Pakistan Links with Militants

New York Times article. Apparently CIA Deputy Director has been to Pakistan to present senior officials with evidence of ISI members' links with the Haqqani network, which in turn links to al Qaeda.

Drug Swoops have little impact

Report from UK Drug Policy Commission [an independent group] looks at impact of drug policy and problems of impact measurement.

26 July 2008

Report compiled on money=laundering in soccer

Courtesy of Monty: a link to a Canadian paper article on a Colombian report on money-laundering in soccer. Ah, globalisation! Let see how it all links up to other countries. After all, no-one just turns up and buys a football club with the alleged proceeds of corruption, do they?

Mexico Plan adds Police to take on Drug Cartels

Military role to be reduced. Federal police doubled in size. Drive against police corruption. Washington Post piece. May have to scroll down quite a way, because someone has messed up the html on the advert on the page.
Border controls to be tightened. No word on the armed warfare that has been going on between gangs and against the military. All a little odd.

Serial bombs hit India's IT hub

Seven small bombs set off in a coordinated attack. There have been other incidents, according to the BBC. Sounds home-grown. Another group to identify and maybe examine its overseas connections.

Yushchenko says Former Ally Responsible for his Poisoning

Yushchenko blames Zhvania, a former ally. No evidence given, according to Moscow Times. Odd little story, which may have implications for other poisoning accusations...or may not. The politics of it all shift and slide.

24 July 2008

Opium and Afghanistan: Reassessing US Counter-Narcotics Strategy

Cultivation and production of opium in Afghanistan have skyrocketed since the
Taliban were toppled in 2001 such that Afghanistan now supplies 92 percent of the
world’s illicit opium. The expanding opium trade is threatening to destabilize the
Afghan government and turn the conflict-ridden country back into a safe haven for
drug traffickers and terrorists. This paper examines the nature of the opium problem
in Afghanistan and analyzes the allied strategy to counter this growing crisis. In
analyzing the current counternarcotics strategy, it points out pitfalls including the
counterproductive aspects of opium eradication. Finally, changes to the strategy are
proposed, which include increasing troop levels and eliminating national restrictions,
substantially increasing financial aid, deemphasizing opium eradication, focusing on
long-term alternative livelihoods, aggressively pursuing drug kingpins and corrupt
government officials, and exploring the possibility of Afghanistan’s entry to the licit opium market

Mafia attempt to buy Lazio foiled by Italian police

Actually the Camorra, allegedly through Giorgio Chinaglia. Lord Steven's report soon to have results in the UK, too. [Well, maybe!] This account from the Telegraph.

E-Gold pleads Guilty to Money-Laundering

Nice piece from Security Focus with links to previous article. E-Gold agrees to regulation by the US and vows to continue in business.

Man arrested in connection with collapse of Cayman-domiciled investment funds

Slightly longer piee below:

Man arrested in failed hedge funds

Published on Monday, July 21, 2008

By Trent Jacobs

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) have arrested an unidentified 47-year-old man in connection with last month’s collapse of several Cayman-domiciled investment funds.

Detectives from the Financial Crimes Unit (FCU) arrested the man on suspicion of theft, false accounting and uttering false documents after their investigations into the collapse of four hedge funds listed under the umbrella name “Grand Island”.

In June the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) confirmed that the “Grand Island” funds were put into voluntary liquidation by the funds’ shareholders. Three of the four funds involved were registered with CIMA in 2006 and one other was an unregulated fund.

Police say that the funds were believed to have been worth millions of dollars, though it is still unclear how much money was lost and how many people are affected by its collapse.

However, it is widely speculated that the losses are up to $70 million dollars and the main commodity being traded was oil. Because of the nature of the three registered funds investors had to contribute at the very least US$100,000.

Since the funds were based in Cayman, it is believed that some of the investors may be local residents. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a financial insider with knowledge of the troubled funds said, “This fraud is solely Cayman-based and may have a profound effect on Cayman’s reputation as a financial centre. Every other hedge fund fraud has taken place outside of Cayman.”

Cayman Net News has learned that Close Brothers (Cayman) Ltd was the funds’ administrator and prominent local businessman Naul Bodden was a director of at least one of the funds.

After it became apparent that there were serious irregularities in the funds’ trading activities, David Walker and Nick Freeland of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) were appointed by shareholders to be in charge of liquidating the fund. In a statement to the press PwC said that they are currently working to recover an undisclosed amount of money from a Canadian bank.

“We confirm that on 11 July PwC Corporate Finance & Recovery (Cayman) Ltd, a company wholly owned by PricewaterhouseCoopers Cayman Islands, was appointed as receiver over various accounts held at ScotiaMcLeod in Canada. รข€¯The purpose of the receivership appointment is to facilitate the repatriation of monies currently held in accounts at ScotiaMcLeod back to the Cayman Islands and for these monies to be held in custody by the receiver, until such time the various parties who may have an interest in the monies can determine the proper allocation of the monies.”

PwC also said in their statement that they have applied to the Grand Court to put the liquidation process under court supervision and expect the application to be heard by next week.

While the police continue their investigation, CIMA has said that they are conducting their own investigation into the matter and will work closely with both the courts and the liquidators to resolve the situation and recover lost funds.

Police said that the man in question is currently on bail pending further investigations. The RCIPS is asking anyone with information or knowledge to come forward by contacting Detective Sergeant Claire Jackson on 949-8797.

Smugglers try to use Dolly for cover, officials say

CNN story. Moving marijuana and immigrants in a hurricane. Rather them than me!

FSA to Launch Second Insider Trading Case Today

FSA could do with winning one! Our City correspondent draws my attention to this piece of breaking news. More will be revealed this afternoon! Reuters, however, alleges an ex-Cazenove partner is involved. http://tinyurl.com/5knvfc

Fund Manager Alleges Russian Tax Fraud

As I read this, the allegations are that documents removed by Ministry of the Interior officials later were used to steal three investment companies and then commit tax fraud. Going to be difficult to prove, I suspect. There has been a great deal of company heft using false documentation in Russia, developing from the use of the same technique to steal buildings and building sites. Western regulators and legislators need to ensure legal measures are in place in the EU, because the techniques will certainly be transferred here before too long.

23 July 2008

EU anti-fraud office targets Brussels and Romania

OLAF's Annual Report is out! http://ec.europa.eu/anti_fraud/press_room/pr/2008/7/en.html

EU to suspend funds to Bulgaria

Well they signalled it very clearly. Only two agencies blocked so far from receiving funds, but warning also to Romania and to the next round of applicants. More has to be done about corruption.

18 July 2008

BoNY Mellon profits down

Hidden away in this Guardian article is a reminder that there is still a lawsuit outstanding in Russia over money-laundering. BoNY has settled with the US authorities, but Russians not ready to settle.

16 July 2008

Mafia feels heat from feds, rivals

CNN piece in series on FBI. Overview of various ethnically-based groups. Very popular in tone.

15 July 2008

Court throws out "annoyance" law

Update on Australian story. Something is very odd about a country where the judges have a better sense of humour than the politicians. unfortunately, the Guardian gets rather public schoolboyish in its coverage here. But I supposed there's nothing politicians fear more than not being taken seriously. No longer a crime to be silly in New South Wales, then

In '06 Bomb Plot Trial, a Question of Imminence

Not a lot of organised crime reports out there, so this New York Times piece on the accused in the liquid bomb trial in London is timely. Good to get an outside perspective and a review of what the prosecution and defence cases have been.

10 July 2008

Nigerian Militants end ceasefire in oil region

MEND, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Nigerian Delta, ends its ceasefire over comments by Gordon Brown. These guys attack pipelines and have cut Nigerian oil production by 25%. Washington Post here has a very brief article on them. Funding? Connctions?

39 Reputed Mobsters Detained on Yacht

But almost all were released. Alleged to have been a meeting of "thieves-in-law" [vory v zakonye] at which a dispute between Oniani and Usoyan was either to be settled or war declared. Sounds fascinating, if true. It's all "alleged". Happened on a yacht in a reservoir near Moscow. Police commandos rapelled down from a helicopter. Cabaret?

Is the Hollow State still Hollow?

Agreement between G8 leaders: does it restore the status quo ante the internet, or is it a massive government invasion of personal privacy for the benefit of the multinationals? And what are the opportunities it presents for organised crime? By now we all should know, all new laws do is put up the price of illicit pleasures...Discuss.

09 July 2008

Police operation against the Licciardi clan of the Camorra in Naples

Thank goodness for la Repubblica! I was beginning to wonder if the police of Europe had declared the war on organised crime a draw, there has been so little in the newspapers. 40 individuals arrested and goods worth 300 million euros seized.

08 July 2008

The Axioms of Evil

Nice appeal to get rid of that dreadfully unhelpful word "terrorism" by a lecturer from Monash, tying it to Nelson Mandela's de-designation, if that's the right word. Nice finish: it is entirely possible to be both terrorist and freedom fighter.

Joint Police Stations in Tourist Areas Proposed

Another headline grabber from the same meeting. I love the idea of a French cop "escorting" a French drunk back to his/her hotel in Prague. I mean that's exactly what they would do in Paris...isn't it? Dear old William Hague chuntering into his brandy about wasting police resources. Does he know where abroad is? Anywhere outside Yorkshire, I suspect. Time he made his guest appearance in Last of the Summer Wine...oh wait! he's going to be Foreign or Home Secretary in two years time.

EU won over to France's Hard Line on Immigration and Asylum

Informal meeting of EU Interior Ministers yesterday. Theyre looking at agreeing guidelines....Ho hum, they've been doing that for years. Great headline, but wait until October to see if anything happens.

Police Target Rising Metal Theft

Church roofs used to be raided in the past. Is it "developing countries" demand or one of those economic cycle phenomena? 38 police forces involved in a coordinated response. Fine, but what happens after the two days are over?

05 July 2008

Hackers crack cash machine PIN codes to steal millions

This is totally disturbing. New level for hackers. What it means for us punters will not be clear until the banks come clean.

Police blitz on gangs puts 40 behind bars

Liverpool is my home city, so I check the local paper regularly. Report on the aftermath of the murder of Rhys Jones. Firearms incidents up, but from 5 to 9 over a six month period. Huge effort at disruption from the figures given

03 July 2008

18,000 women and children trafficked into UK sex trade

Report on Operation Pentameter 2. Lots of figures for researchers. Couldnt find the BBC link, although the story was on the radio yesterday. Small print says 6,000 to 18,000.
Guardian version at http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/jul/03/childprotection.internationalcrime concentrates on internal trafficking.

01 July 2008

Britain facing terrorist threat for another 30 years, warns Lord Stevens

Ho Hum. I do believe Tupman and O'Reilly pointed this out a little while ago. This is more about Conservative party policy for a new border police than a serious discussion on the future of terrorism

Nigeria Arrests ex-air Ministers

Ripples from a plane crash. Money to but air safety equipment alleged to have disappeared. Sum of $160 million alleged.

Australia bans annoying behaviour for Pope visit

My mind reels with ironic comments. But it would be annoying to somebody and therefore illegal to voice them or write them down.

EBay Ordered to pay $61 million in sale of Counterfeit Goods

EBay to appeal French Court's judgement that it must pay LVMH [Moet Hennesy Louis Vuitton] for sale of counterfeit goods. EBay arguing that other issues are involved. Article outlines what these are.

A Ragtag Insurgency Gains an al Qaeda lifeline

Looks like the New York Times is running a series of articles. This is on the Algerians and their resurgence since setting up links with al Qaeda in Iraq. Potentially a bridge to Europe, providing training camps and recruits both to iraq and from Europe as well as Algeria. Estimates of numbers given. Again, warnings not to exaggerate the threat, but warnings equally given as to what could build from the present situation, which is not quite at a tipping-point.

30 June 2008

Pakistan army attacks warlord's bases

Different spin on yesterday's story. This one claims the attacks were not on the Taliban but on Mandal Bagh's Lashkar-e-Islam movement. Surprise, surprise!

EU and US near deal on confidential data sharing

This story was in some of the Sundays. Here is the EU Observer version. I think it contains the bare facts and a statement about the privacy issue as well as the rights of foreigners to sue in US courts if data is mishandled. Some of the Sunday papers in the UK couldnt decide whether to adopt an anti-EU, an anti-US stance, or both. There are important civil rights issues here, that have implications for data-sharing between EU member states too and a legally enforceable framework is vital.

Amid Policy Disputes al Qaeda Grows in Pakistan

Major New York Times piece on the state of play. Al Qaeda has now built a new chain of smaller training camps and may have as many as 2,000 local and foreign militants in them. Argues that resources were diverted to Iraq and there were arguments within the administration about the use of Special forces. Pakistani officials were concerned about possibilities of a tribal uprising and thought Americans exaggerating the size of the al Qaeda presence in Waziristan. But towards the end of the piece, a US source is quoted saying again that the size of the problem is being exaggerated. The leadership of al Qaeda may well be in the tribal lands, but it is symbolic rather than in control. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

29 June 2008

Nelson Mandela and the ANC are about to be removed from the US terrorism blacklist

Another of our occasional pieces in a non-English language. Le Monde appears to be saying that Condi has been trying to get the House of Representatives and Senate to lift the ban on Nelson Mandela and the ANC imposed by the Reagan administration. I suppose this will eventually be mentioned by the Anglo-Saxons somewhere. Bit of a problem if both houses have to pass a law to get you off the list, isnt it? Dubya still has to sign it, though...
Story reached BBC July 2nd: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7484517.stm

Drug-dealing shepherds set up Crete crime empire

Even the Sunday Telegraph travel pages have a touch of the apocalypse about them. Marijuana growing in the olive groves. Now that's how to deal with the munchies! A heady mix of hippies, Albanians and corruption [all alleged]. A village called Zoniana...would that be in the Zone then?

Tax Scandal Leaves Swiss Giant Reeling

Scandal? These are allegations of criminality. But made by individuals trying to avoid prosecution. Now, how do I get my money off-planet?

HMRC goes cap in hand to Americans for help with fraud

Interesting that this article is one of the most read in the Independent today. Is it because their readers are nationalists? Concerned with human rights? Or just tax evaders? Perhaps we should have a blog competition to decide. There has been a previous post about DARTTS. Cant remember if it was the good system that congressmen were trying to block, or the bad one they were trying to push. Better go check.

28 June 2008

UN finds Afghan Opium Trade Rising

There is a link to the UN Report in this Washington Post article, which notes that the Taliban had almost eradicated drug production in Afghanistan prior to the US-led invasion.

Dutch relaxed about pot smoking ban

I kept seeing this story over the past few days and now have a chance to post it as reported by CNN. Basically the story is that the Dutch have become one of the last countries in Europe to ban smoking in public places, which gives the "coffee shops" of Amsterdam a bit of a problem...just like it killed off hubble bubbles in Arab cafes across Europe. Be interesting to see the medium term consequences.

Pakistan Bombards Suspected Taliban Hideouts

Peshawar apparently under threat from Taliban. Analysis by New York Times staff here: http://tinyurl.com/63o3xo
Claims that the rich have already fled the area and that the whole North West is under threat. Why are we only just being told?

EU Countries Obstructing Investigations into CIA Renditions, Report says

Refers to an article in the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/22/washington/22ksm.html?hp
and an Amnesty International Report http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/EUR01/003/2008/en/2ceda343-41da-11dd-81f0-01ab12260738/eur010032008eng.pdf
I've tinyurl'd it here: http://tinyurl.com/695nop

Firestorm over EU blogger registry

It's not true...or is it? Swedish media went berserk over a report drafted by an Estonian MEP on media pluralism. It is denied that she proposed a register, or that if she had it would have happened...Hmmm. That's when I start to get suspicious. Clarification of the identity of bloggers and their sources, eh?? It does sound awfully Stalinist, I'm afraid. Thank goodness for the Swedes on this topic.

Italian plans to fingerprint Roma criticised as "ethnic cataloguing"

I love that the Italians blame crime on immigrants. They have the most notorious organised criminal gangs in Europe. Is this all about preserving market share? Echoes of Mussolini referred to in the article. It's the perfect answer to all of those idiots who say "the innocent have nothing to fear" from police powers, electronic surveillance etc. Some innocents can suddenly be declared guilty because of political views, ethnicity or sexual preference. Then all these authoritarian measures can be turned on them. Remember Pastor Niemoller.

Taliban to Intensify Insurgency says Pentagon

Guardian refers here to two reports, one on the insurgency and one on the Afghan Police and Army. This appears to be totally at odds with Gerard Baker's triumphalist piece in the Times yesterday telling us to rejoice because we are winning the war on terror: http://tinyurl.com/43evnh
I present both without comment. Will try to find links to the reports.
Washington Post article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/27/AR2008062702202.html

Newton International Fellowships

Aimed at attracting the best post-doctoral scholars in the world to the UK.

24 June 2008

Lopsi and Pericles

Wonderful piece in Le Monde on electronic communication, liberty and internal security. Another in our occasional series of non-English articles in an attempt to encourage the learning of other languages by our Anglo-Saxon readers. I won't pretend I understand every word, but I love le Monde's turn of phrase. Please stay independent! Cant you appeal for subscribers?
LOPSI is the "Loi pour orientation et programmation pour la performance de securite interieur". Flopsy, is, of course, a bunny.

FBI promises more fraud arrests

Update on Feds attitude to mortgage fraud. Sharon Ormsby gets tough!

Taleban's $100 million takings

Claim by UN official that Taleban impose 10% religious tax on opium production. Nice map. Heard interview on 5live this morning and thought..."better blog that!" Full programme available on File on Four site. There is a link from the article. Nice map too.

Raiders of the Russian Billions

Not sure of the degree to which this practice- known as "raiding" is still going on. Was notorious in terms of property a few years ago, and picked up by other papers than the Guardian in 2005-6. Company owners find that they no longer own their company and enter a Kafkaesque world where corrupt officials have acquiesced in or even ordered their takeover.

Al Qaeda's Growing Online offensive

Washington Post article on Al Qaeda's Internet Presence. Bit of a historical mishmash and not a lot of analysis, but useful information in there in places.

Is al Qaeda in Pieces?

Special Report from the Independent. Mostly about the counter-radicalisation campaign and the ideological opposition to al Qaeda and its affiliates. Article originally in the New Republic and is by US authors, but has a lot of material on London.

23 June 2008

Raids Hit EU People Smugglers

Group suspected of smuggling Iraqi Kurds. Eurojust coordinated the investigation, Europol the operation.

20 June 2008

Everyone Pays, Few Want to Stop

More on corruption in Russia from the Moscow Times. $319billion a year paid in bribes! There is so much data in here and it seems to me so controversial that Ive given it a tinyurl too: http://tinyurl.com/47ne7l
Just in case the article gets pulled from the main website. Lots of info in this.

FBI holds 406 for mortgage fraud

operation Malicious Mortgage [sic]. Figures of arrests, size of mortgage fraud losses plus oblique reference to Bear Stearns case. Presumably if they can do it there, so can people in the UK and elsewhere.

Shuttle Trade and New Border Regimes

Just chatting to a journalist on the phone and discovered this nice little piece on "ants", a Polish version of "smurfs", by Paul Holtom. Is he still doing stuff in this area, does anybody know? Klaus von Lampe might have some useful comments, too.

19 June 2008

As Israeli siege strangles Gaza, Hamas and smugglers profit off tunnels

Long Washington Post piece that may give some pointers as to why smugglers and organised crime profit from political conflict.

18 June 2008

Carabinieri ordered not to have affairs

Well, if your motto is "faithful through the centuries...."

17 June 2008

Abu Qatada bailed

This, on the other hand, is much more serious, although it is not clear why he cannot be put on trial. There has to be a problem proving him guilty of an offence. The mistake appears to have been made when someone decided to deport him rather than put him on trial. The judges have disagreed with the means the politicians tried to rush through, but the authorities allege there is a real problem with Abu Qatada. All the papers call him Osama bin Laden's right hand man, but only the Guardian tells us that the quote is from a Spanish judge, not a UK security report. The problem goes back to David Blunkett and Charles Clarke's macho posturing for the redtops.
Is he guilty of inciting terrorism? Then put him on trial. We have appropriate offences on the statute book. If he is only guilty of saying unpleasant things, then that its not an offence. Incitement to violence is an offence.

"Lyrical terrorist" has conviction quashed

Talk about using a wheel to crush a butterfly. CPS is going over the top again and again at the moment, stretching the law. Which is why 42 days detention is so scary. "proportionate" CPS....can you people even spell the word?

We used to have cautions and binding over to keep the peace for the silly , naive and misguided. Now we seem to want to create a martyr a day, and all our previous experience warns us against doing this. It simply recruits for the bad guys.

Suppose the Sun will see the case differently

Smugglers had Design for Advanced Warhead

This is the original Washington Post article that today's earlier post refers to. It alleges that the computers belonging to Swiss businessmen, contained designs for a much smaller warhead than had been provided to Libya and one that several other countries would have the technology to deliver. The full Albright Report should be published later this week

Asian Journal of Criminology

The Asian Journal of Criminology seeks submission for volume 4 - 2009 onwards on studies of crime and criminal justice in Asia or about the impact of Asian crime groups in America, Europe and elsewhere. We are especially interested in receiving manuscripts with a comparative or empirical focus and that also address legal issues pertinent to criminal justice. The journal also invites shorter reviews or research notes.

The journal publishes in both legal and Harvard style referencing format. Authors may upload directly on the Springer site and work is published on-line as soon as practical.

Special issues on crime in the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong and Macau
and Taiwan are also in preparation and authors are invited to submit accordingly. Please feel welcome to contact the editors:
Prof Rod Broadhurst - r.broadhurst@griffith.edu.au or
Prof Eric Chui - ericchui@cuhk.edu.hk or proceed online at

Blueprint for nuclear warhead found on smugglers' computers

Article based on a report by David Albright, an authority on the Khan group, that has been leaked to the Washington Post.

Spain raids "Major Russian Gang"

Suspects alleged to belong to the Tambov gang, based in St. Petersburg. Arms trafficking, money laundering, contract killing, drug trafficking and tax fraud. Been operating in Spain for 10 years, allegedly. German US and Russian police assisting the investigation.

£8.4 million Cannabis Operation Revealed in Northern Ireland

45 people charged, all from South East Asia. Changing times in Northern Ireland! Cannabis "factories" being discovered all over the UK, mostly linked to "South East Asian" gangs.

13 June 2008

Safe Deposit Raids uncover £53 million

Update on findings in safe deposit boxes raided by UK police earlier this month.

12 June 2008

EU delays terror list update amid Iranian diplomacy

This is about the PMOI [People's Mujaheddin Organisation of Iran], which renounced violence in 2001. UK Court of Appeal said it shouldnt be on the list. EU says it is waiting for a decision by UK parliament, but others hint that Iran is trading its staus for progress in the nuclear talks.

Scottish Islamic State Plotted

Bizarre plan revealed. MSN conversation used in evidence against three on trial at Woolwich. You do start to wonder if we're in danger of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Afghan Commandos Discover 230 tonnes of Cannabis in the Desert

That's a record. Not sure bombing it is an adequate response though....

09 June 2008

Tough Intellectual Takes Rebel Reins in Colombia

More on Alfonso Cano, new leader of FARC and the prospects for the near future in Colombia.

Froma a Whistle-Blower to a Target

New York Times piece on Joseph A. Ripp, who blew the whistle on fraud to one government agency and is now the target of another. Doesnt sound right. but what do I know.

Experts see gains against Asian terror networks

Two different approaches to counter-terrorism. Indonesia concentrating on conversion, Philippines on military approaches. Al Qaeda funding has dried up, apparently.

Russia to set up database to fight corruption

National database of property ownership to be created, similar to those used by tax authorities in other countries.

Inside one of Britain's Cannabis Factories

Organised Crime moving into the home-grown market. Vietnamese gands are particularly prominent.

Colombia Gets Tought with Kidnappers

Frank Gardner of the BBC visits Colombian hostage rescue force. Ther appears to be a longer version. This edit blames all kidnaps on FARC, which may or may not be true

Chavez Urges FARC to end struggle

CNN piece. Chavez urging release of hostages and negotiation of end to conflict. Colombians claim its all to do with the computer. Looks more like the changes in FARC's leadership to me. Brief window of opportunity open. Send Tony Blair!

08 June 2008

Death of FARC leader

Washington Post discussion of the succession to Manuel Marulanda, who died in March of a heart attack. Prospects for peace negotiations reviewed.

Is this Brink's- Mat Gold?

Suitcases full of what looks like gold found in safe deposit search. Should imagine that lots of people are clearing out their safe deposit boxes this weekend. New laws have enaibled the police to go searching as part of anti money-laundering drive.

Bulgaria Under Pressure over Crime

Sketchy piece about organised crime in Bulgaria. Presumably there will be a programme coming.

The Good Kind of Corruption

Nice little vignette by Alexei Pankin in Moscow Times. Russian corruption unlikely to be abolished soon.

Glimpse of the loyalist side of the divide

Book by Susan McKay "Bear in Mind these Dead". Which I presume from this New Statesman piece is about the aftermath of the loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland. A long-term problem that will provide a haven for organised criminality for years to come.

06 June 2008

"Rich List" Tycoon is jailed for fraud

£350 million fraud, involving 324 bogus companies. The article is rather short, but it is today's news. Will try to catch it on the BBC when it gets there. Virendra Rastogi, head of RBG Resources is named as receiving a 9 1/2 year sentence for conspiracy to defraud. The story is odd, though, as told. The curious incident of the fax machine and the auditor...When were the police told?

Jonathan Wild: London's First Organised Crime Lord

Simultaneously, he appears to have been the founder of the CID....Plus ca change....Henry Fielding wrote a book about him 20 yeara after his death. Oh dear...more reading to do!

Death and Dirt Collide in Mafia Violence

"Super-witness" killed just before he was about to testify about links between Italian politicians and organised crime in Naples.

Even the drug dealers are suffering!

Hidden away in this piece, second paragraph after "Applexy in Number 10" is the assertion that drug dealers and money launderers are also suffering from the end of the house price boom. I thought this would mark an excellent return to this blog. I have to inform you that even in the Outer Hebrides, there is a poster campaign to look out for drug traffickers!

23 May 2008

Exeter bomb incident

Just as your blogger leaves on holiday, a device explodes in his home town! This Guardian report seems to offer most details. lots of rumours went round yesterday and turned out to be false. More details will follow today.

22 May 2008

Mysterious Shifts in Chechnya

Thought-provoking article on the contemporary situation in Chechnya. Publishe in Moscow Times, but written by Thomas de Waal from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in London.

Police Get New Powers to Wage War on Gangs

Worth waiting to see what the Home Secretary actually says.

CPS made serious errors over data on Dutch criminal suspects

High profile story last year. Nobody's fault, of course. Does sound like it has all the classic ingredients of a cock-up. Public sector really does need to deal with illness and the question of who picks up the ill person's work while they are ill in a much more systematic way. So many stories of people returning to their desks to find that it's all been left for them to deal with on their return.

Ex-Liverpool CID officer arrested in Thailand on sex slave trafficking charges

The sub-editor needs to be reminded that these are all allegations. A story to watch and see how it develops. More likely to appear in the News of the World that the broadsheets, but may give some important insights into how these groups all knit together.

20 May 2008

Britain is focal point for terrorism warn's Europe's police force

This is in total contrast with the last report from Europol. Could it be an Independent spin? Better go find out. Apparently the methodology is changing to include "extremism" Previous posting was a summary by the EU Observer and was of the 2007 report. This is the 2008 Report, I think. Better go do some reading.

EU Buildings Target of Foiled Terror Plot

Report originating in Morocco where a group has been detained and whose intention allegedly was to target EU buildings and the Sheraton Hotel

19 May 2008

Rise in EU Counterfeit Seizures

BBC story originating from European Commission. FAQs on the subject at: http://tinyurl.com/4ewwca
Despite what the BBC piece says, the amount of goods seized actually decreased in 2007 [mostly due to falls in numbers of cigarettes and DVDs seized]. 34% of seizures were cigarettes followed by 22% of clothing.

18 May 2008

Article on Google maps and lower down, one on DNA data sharing

Both subjects seem to have been lumped together under the general heading of data protection. Google Street View has, allegedly, been put together with an eye to US legislation, without someone realising that it has to be compatible with other jurisdictions too. Similarly, DNA sharing procedures have been put together without thought for privacy safeguards. Consequences of both likely to be lots of money for lawyers.

EU states muscle in on bloc's judicial body

Sub-text seems to be reluctance to set up an office of European Public Prosecutor. Powers for Eurojust, the institution that enables judicial, investigative and prosecutorial cooperation, are under discussion. European Commission wants one set of things, some member states a different set. Usual controversies. They have to ratify the Lisbon Treaty first, anyway.

Italy considers curbs on Schengen zone free travel

Berlusconi's back [and the Northern League]! Italians are blaming crime on the Roma, Romanian gypsies. So Schengen may be suspended by Italy. Watch this space.

NATO picks Estonia for High-tech Crime Centre

Seven countries have signed a pact and set up a research and training centre for "cyber defence".

Fighting the Sicilian mafia Through Tourism

Role of an NGO in fighting organised crime. Addiopizzo fighting the protection racket by asking tourists to boycott those places that pay "pizzo" to the Mafia. Bit of a restaurant guide, but there's a good excuse.

Colombian "hit" that set off a Uk cocaine war

Death of a drugs baron, six months ago. "only now can the story be told..." [why?] Lurid hints of connections with the IRA, a paramilitary gang called the Cleaners and the Cali cartel. Plus a sort of history of cocaine dealing in Liverpool. Sounds like someone is writing a book. The story is from the Observer, Sunday edition of the Guardian.

16 May 2008

Unionist Ceasefire Holds but Guns Remain

Update on Protestant Paramilitaries and their arsenals, with some idiotic comments, even by the Guardian's lunatic fringe's normal standards.

300 Suspected Criminals Held in Police Swoop

A new record for the number of arrests in a single day by Merseyside police!

Egypt Con Man Gets 1,000 years

We call them investment bankers over here....I love the way his family defend his right to do it, too!

Fraud Detection Scheme Nets £4.5 million

Sounds like joined-up government to me! Now if we had regional assemblies across England, they would probably be the right size to do something similar successfully. Don't hold your breath!

Afghan Drug "Belt" Proposed

I would like to see some of the detail of this agreement between China, Russia and India.

The Original Times article

Sean ONeill's original article makes some cogent points and is obviously well informed by insiders. The main crticism is not necessarily a crticism. To discover that the 130 targets you inherited were not actually the top figures in the dugs trade sounds like a step forward in intelligence to me! Working out the true picture is a vital first step for an intelligence-led agency. The criticisms of management structures and IT systems arent exactly surprising. They could be made of any public sector organisation in the UK.
Sean's follow-up article: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article3919731.ece
Which raises some important questions for debate.
Hughes' letter together with others:
and the latest piece:
Enjoy the read!

SOCA's Annual Report 2007/8

Worth noting that they are recruiting civilian administrators too, if you look on the home page.

Bill Hughes' letter to the Times

In the interests of fairness and academic objectivity, I went to the SOCA Website: [http://www.soca.gov.uk/index.html]. I must have missed the offending Times article. Mea Culpa! Will follow up! Bill Hughes letter here is of interest, obviously.

Organised Crime Agency Chiefs Round on Own Staff

The issue appears to be overtime. There is a ruined statue somewhere in London. The face is disfigured, but around the base there is a crudely-carved inscription. "You wont beat the Met CID."
An old friend, who rose to the giddy heights of Chief Constable once observed that the problem with mergers is that the occupational culture that emerges will always be that of the hard men from the cities. Pity the other political parties won't tell us how they are going to change SOCA, but the media seems to be happy to let them get away with stone throwing and name calling at the moment. Policies, anyone?

15 May 2008

Colombia Sends 13 paramilitary Leaders to US

This underlines the point made in the previous post. Organised crime, in this case narcotraffickers and narcoterrorists can substitute themselves for the security forces in insurgencies and Military leaders can convince themselves they are "winning" the war as a result.
The final line of this Washington Post piece is a reminder that there are different agendas for the US and for Colombians:
"What we the victims want to know is the truth: who financed them, who directed them, who ordered them."

US Army's Next Crop of Generals Forged in Counter-Insurgency

Murphy's Law says they will get to the top just in time to face something totally different. Nevertheless, Col. MacMaster's comment that the military were preoccupied in the 1990s with technology to the detriment of the political and cultural dimensions of war certainly rings true.

Now who is dealing with the organised criminal dimension? I'm available!!!!

A Lineup Aiming to Tame Silovki

Further thoughts from the Moscow Times on the Medvedev and Putin teams. Putin has to stay in a position of power to give Medvedev the clout to break the political clans and criminal businesses around the silovki. having used the silovki to break the oligarchs, they now have to be removed from power in their turn. It's another interesting article in the series.

13 May 2008

Ustinov's Ouster may be a Loss for Silovki

may be an indicator that the iceberg is beginning to melt. Medvedev makes a new appointment as Justice Minister. The silovki are the former police, security and justice personnel who displaced the oligarchs under Putin. May lead to a number of slow changes. Medvedev has stressed the rule of law and this may mean a sustained attack on corruption and organised crime. All depends on whether he is working with Putin or against him. See the parallel article: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/600/42/362671.htm

Just How Expert are the Expert Witnesses?

Good article on the instant experts out there, and the question of how impartial they are when they stand up in court.

Blunt Federal Letters tell students theyre security threats

The US really does break bad news so well! Postgrad researchers get scary letters from unapologetic bureaucrats.

Scottish card fraud runs into millions

16% rise in credit card fraud in 2007. HM Inspectors of Constabulary want new fraud unit to investigate and prosecute. Recording of the crime hit and miss.

12 May 2008

Drive in Basra by Iraqi Army Makes Gains

New York Times Article on the latest situation in Basra. Gives British Army credit as well as Iraqi Army and Police.

10 May 2008

Mexican Drug Cartels Make Audacious Pitch for Recruits

Washington Post piece demonstrating increasing convergence between terrorist tactics and organised crime. This is a classic hearts and minds campaign. But is it in response to the use of military tactics against drug cartels? Is it another classic case of creating a new problem by trying to solve the old one with the wrong methods?

Police hunt girl gang who poured liquid through letterbox of London blast house

Lurid story, alleging that girl's former classmates effectively blew up house and killed next door neighbour. Doesnt seem to be on any other media website yet. Also suggests that they might have learnt how to make a bomb on the internet. Hmmmm, so far it sounds like the Murdoch press exaggerating. Let's wait a little while and see.

Why the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories wont go away

Your blogger is just back from the Middle East, where he was surprised by the prevelance of 9/11 conspiracy theories, and a general lack of belief that 9/11 happened as reported. Here's a Time article from September 2006 on the subject. It concentrates on US conspiracists rather than conspiracists from the Arab world.
This is a site giving official rebuttals: http://www.america.gov/st/pubs-english/2006/September/20060828133846esnamfuaK0.2676355.html
and a huge qarticle from "popular Mechanics"

For once, conspiracists can even point at something I wrote in 1999 to demonstrate that "we" knew something was going to happen..."The time of a supranational European FBI has not yet come. But many aspects of a federal law-enforcement system are now in place. It just requires a major cause celebre to complete the picture. Perhaps a major simultaneous terrorist atrocity in more than one capital city would do the trick." [Policing in Europe: Uniform in Diversity, Intellect 1999 p103] Certainly my graduate students have enjoyed throwing my words back to me.
The point is, though, that politics involves making plans and then reacting to events. Policy papers are always about in the files. Politicians don't have to manufacture events. They just have to wait for one to come along to justify what they wanted to do anyway. That doesnt mean they actually plan the events. In Madrid, the metro bombings led to the defeat of Aznar's government. In London the Underground bombings had surprisingly little political impact. In fact the measures that Blair's government tried to bring in were resisted by parliament.
Ah well...there are still people who don't believe the Americans went to the moon and that Elvis is alive somewhere. But 9/11 is a little bigger than that. We need to understand beliefs in the Middle East, and cover them better in our own media. I remain surprised by the challenge to my world-view.

Israel PM urged to quit over corruption claim

The problem is that Likud would win any election called now, as the article says. Allegations against Olmert have surfaced again and again. Is it a "Bill Clinton" case, where opponents just want to get him out to get themselves in, or is there a real issue? Impossible to tell from where I'm sitting.

05 May 2008

In Ghost Town where Afghan war begins, UK fights losing battle

More on Garmser. Brief mention of Baluch drug smugglers as part of the fighters involved.

03 May 2008

It's the black economy, stupid

A reasonable review of Misha Glenny's book "McMafia" and Clare Longrigg's "Boss of Bosses".
I'm still reading Glenny's book, so maybe he uses the Romanian spelling of Transdnester. Who knows?

Man alleged to have killed Guerin jailed over kidnap plot

Another potential Asian businessman kidnap. This time a complex plan, financed by someone not in court and involving Patrick "Dutchy" Holland, a former associate of the INLA. Murky post-paramilitary world and article mentions Dublin crime gangs and the Irish police response to Guerin's murder.

Police foil £400,000 kidnap plot by gang in Pakistan

Family appeal for other victims of the crime to come forward and give the police information. Suspected that the UK Asian community has suffered this crime several times.

Colombian police catch drugs twin

Second brother found in secret compartment of a lorry.

02 May 2008

New Militant group threatens Ulster peace

18th Report of the Independent Monitoring Commission which reports on the progress of the peace process has just been published. It identifies Oglaigh na hEireann as a serious threat to the lives of members of the security forces. I don't suppose I should find it odd that the Guardian article has nothing to say about the IMC's comments on Protestant paramilitaries...Or why it refers to the report as the 17th when it is the 18th Report that is published today. All reports available at: http://www.independentmonitoringcommission.org/
They are well worth reading, surveying the attitude to wards ceasefire of all the paramilitaries and the fluidity with which dissident movements come and go. They also cover involvement with criminal activity.

The Livinenko Files: Was he really murdered?

Odd long article, referring to another article by Edward J. Epstein in the New York Sun March 19th [ http://tinyurl.com/5epx7t ]. I dont think the case is made with proper academic rigour...in fact I'm not even sure what the case is, but it seems to allege involvement in the smuggling of nuclear material. Demonstrate the existence of purchaser and seller and I might be more convinced. But it's one of those articles that will become seminal, even if only for the conspiracy theorist. What does it tell us about organised crime? That it's often extremely disorganised, as we have long suspected.

01 May 2008

D.C. forging surveillance network

At last! Something the UK has taught the Americans! Stick loads of cameras up everywhere and you will always be able to close the stable door after the horse has bolted!
Something gone wrong with my daily feed from the Washington Post. This different system is plagued with even more rubbish adverts. Just keep clicking the close button top right.

In France, Prisons Filled with Muslims

Earlier posts documented the spread of prison gangs back to Central America from US jails. This sounds like a disaster in the making. 60-70% of inmates in France are Muslims, though they are 12% of the population. Information from an Open Society Institute Report given in the article about other European countries. There are so many opportunities for radicals to exploit this situation. But watch the growth or Islamic organised crime groups as well. We're in danger of watching the wrong ball. Fear of terrorism is all very well, but organised crime will last many generations longer...That's another discuss question, or even a PhD topic.

The billion pound share swindle

Increasingly difficult to distinguish between real news on the BBC and puffs for it's programmes. Wasn't there a quote about the media not being the news? All is changed, changed utterly...some rough beast slouching towards Broadcasting House.
Anyway, this piece is about the threat from Spain [yes, not France for once]. Boiler room frauds. This is a real problem, but how big, no-one knows and this is a "scare" article. There must be a joke coinable involving Rafael Benitez and dodgy Spanish investments, but I leave you to invent your own. [Overseas readers please note: Benitez is the Spanish manager of Liverpool football club who were kicked out of the European Cup by Russian billionaire-owned and Israeli managed Chelsea last night. It's English yumor...]

Al Qaeda "greatest threat to US"

Actually, the story is that the State Department's annual Country Reports on Terrorism are out. http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2007/
Iran is named as the most important and active state sponsor of terrorism. I havent had time yet to dig behind the press release level. There may be more interesting stuff in there. It's all a bit catch 22. "Failed" states provide the havens for terrorism and by definition cant be state sponsors of terrorism, so the variables and assumptions are wrong here. The problem of the US model is that it requires a "public enemy number one", and hasnt yet got the idea that we are dealing with a hydra, not a superhero [discuss].

Britain's Overseas Territories open to fraud and money-laundering

Ah. The Public Accounts Committee have finally noticed. I do believe the Americans have been pointing this out for years. They'd also like London to clean up its act, but since whoever wins the London election for mayor today has no power over that mystical beast the City of London, they'd better not hold their breath.

30 April 2008

Wanted Colombia Drug Lord Killed

One of two Colombian brothers, Victor Mejia. Miguel survives him.

High tech pirates are no romantuc figures

Good overview of recent events by CNN. Calm and measured, unlike some of the journalism in our recent postings!

Fears of Snooping on Social Networks

Looks like everybody is under surveillance in Russia...and are we really surprised? But the threat to privacy is as much from private enterprise as it is from the FSU. The Moscow Times doesnt seem to have any human rights lawyers to interview on the protection of people's privacy. Anti-Kremlin activists are, however, quoted. Presumably if "THEY" are nosing through Russian social networking sites, they're at it over here too. So too will organised crime be. Ah well. One day, they will have nothing to fear but the press!

29 April 2008

Drugs for Guns: how the Heroin Trade Fuels the Taliban Insurgency

Independent article claims that drugs are exchanged for arms parts in Tajikistan. It gets confused in places, alleging that it is the Russian mafia that is behind everything. Which? Would be my first question. Sounds more like Tajik middlemen and there is no clear evidence given of who they deal with, or that the heroin is bound for the UK, as alleged elsewhere in the piece.
It's a great travellers tale. Three smugglers tell you about this deserted village where 300 shopkeepers sit around courtyards dealing arms parts for heroin....Mmmmm, out of the Arabian Nights? Given that there are insurgents allied to al Qaeda roaming the Tajik border areas, I cant imagine many Russians on the loose round there. Still it fits in nicely with the earlier posts from Helmand. Maybe the US marines should be looking at the Tajik border a little more closely?

Police arrest three in Tamil Tigers Inquiry

Arrests in Newtown, Powys, Mitcham and Surrey. First reports alleged/suggested there would be terrorist financing charges, but now looks like "commision, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism". BBC report quotes someone from "Scotland Yard" as alluding to finance http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7372883.stm

US marines surge into Taliban-held town

After the previous post, which was clearly a feature, in go the Americans to Gamsher today. Time to compare US and UK counter-insurgency strategies and tactics. Times has a headline: US Marines to stir things up in Helmand: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article3835580.ece
"General McNeill said that he would like to see British troops double their six-month tour of duty to one year because the longer US deployments had helped to fight a war where knowledge of the local population was a key to winning their support and distancing them from militants."
Times article suggests US military wants UK to adopt their tactics.

Hamburger Hill: frontline base in a sea of poppies British troops dare not clear

All those promises that we were only going into Helmand on a drug eradication programme. We knew they were lies at the time, but this, even allowing for Grauniad excess, is crazy. See the previous post on Colombia. We engage in military intervention for one ostensible reason, then change it to another in order to justify staying. In the process, organised crime is the major beneficiary. Cui bono? Where are the policy evaluation metrics?

Why are we ignoring organised crime?

Surprisingly good article by Sean ONeill in the Times. Why are we spending all this money and reducing individual liberty when there's a much more serious threat than terrorism? Simple answer Sean. It's your redtop stablemates and the fear they induce amongst politicians. If they got on their high horse about organised crime, the political agenda would shift instantly. Sounds like another question on that final exam paper that I keep writing!
Actually, Sean's a good lad and has been known to buy his round! Hope this is the start of a series on the subject.

Virtual Kidnappings Exploit Real Fears

Mexican cellphone scam, often initiated by prisoners, give new twist to 417 frauds. Someone phones you and tells you they have kidnapped a member of your family and demands money and valuables. No-one has been kidnapped, but you hand stuff over, nevertheless.

28 April 2008

Funding Charges for Spain's al Qaeda Chief

Aberystwyth symposium delegates were asking for examples of prosecution of terror financing offences. Here's a Spanish example.

Last Call for Critical Criminology Conference

It's in Sydney. Take your Old Bailey transcripts!

Old Bailey Opens its Unseen Files

Not sure if the Guardian isnt the teensiest bit behind here. Family History buffs have been looking at these for a while. Still, historians of organised crime should have a field day. It must be today that the process of putting files online finishes. Go find your transported ancestors immediately! Then do some proper research on the O'Houlihans and their ilk.

27 April 2008

Gang fixers "picked over police"

"community fixers" being chosen to deliver justice rather than the police, says the Chief constable of Leicester:
"I do recognise that you get a limited number of people at a more criminal level who seek to build a power base in communities by intimidation, by controlling the drugs, by being seen, if you like, almost to bring a sense of peace.

"In my experience the people that are criminal fixers are actually feathering their own nest."

Since 2001, a Dramatic Increase in Suicide Bombings

Article on the anniversary of the embassy bombing in Beirut 25 years ago [April 18th]. Figures included. 658 attacks last year, 542 of them in Iraq and Afghanistan. 1,840 incidents in past 25 years, 86% of them since 2001. Sounds like an exponential curve. 920 in Iraq and over 260 in Afghanistan. Seems a long time since we could say that the majority of incidents were in Sri Lanka, but its only 7 years. Figure given are unpublished so I'm putting them here in case Washington Post site moves.

From Mexico, Drug Violence Spills over into US

This article would have been written for the Washington Post before news broke of today's gun battles in Tijuana. Real "state within a state" stuff. Also introduces a displacement argument. Someone has recently argued that you have to work out where crime is going to be displaced to before you start to intervene and provide the resources there too.

Cousin of Colmbian President Arrested in Death Squad Probe

Story of investigation into links between members of Congress, paramilitary Death Squads and Narco-trafficking...and we arent talking about FARC here. We're talking about the Colmbian elite and its killers. There's a book, apparently called "Parapolitics", cooauthored by a Claudia Lopez. Death squads go back as far as the 1980s.
So let me see...according tho the Washingto Post, the US has been paying people who traffic cocaine to the US to kill people who may be involved with FARC, who the administration accuses of trafficking in cocaine. Hm...Sounds like capitalism to me. Pay someone to expand their market share. Are there any good guys in all this?

Luck Runs Out for Fugitive Drug Lord

Colourful account of el Nene, a Ceuta-based drug smuggler. Ceuta is a Spanish enclave in North Africa.

Hizbollah Builds up Fighting Force

Again, the headline in this Guardian/Observer article is misleading. Everyone expects a new round of fighting between Hizbollah and Israel. This piece offers an insight into the fact. It also gives evidence that there were far fewer fighters than previous estimates, but there will now be a whole generation trained in camps in other countries. The article is based on a chat with a single person, it needs to be said. An untitled "US military study" describes the military wing as autonomous and completely decentralised. Intriguing piece, though to be treated with caution.

How Savage Pirates Reign on the World's High Seas

Breathless headline from the sub editor here. The story is actually about Somali waters, where, according to the last couple of paragraphs of the article, a lot of boats are fishing illegally. On the other hand, there is no reliable government to issue permits. Warlords or the Islamic courts: there's your choice.

26 April 2008

Hackers warn High Street Chains

BBC report on the "Hackers' Panel" at the InfoSecurity Conference. Interesting argument about role for ISPs in policing botnets and claims that neither China nor Russia responsible for recent attacks. Both private individuals and murky Western agencies routing their attacks through those countries to disguise the origin of attacks. Sounds like trouble in cyberspace. Commercial companies good targets because their security is so poor.

25 April 2008

Updated Drugs and Drving Website

Public info website including advice about the impact of individual drugs on driving ability.

Counting the Costs of Crime in Australia: a 2005 Update

Don't be fooled. The small print says it relies on US and UK data. Important stuff for researchers here, including new challenges like cybercrime.

FBI wants to move hunt for criminals into internet backbone

Thanks Monty for this link to an important article. One quote:

"The current debate over who gets to do what and how with network hubs is akin to the foundational debates over property and taxes with which we started America, so it's important that we have it in the light of day and that we all participate."

You'd better all go look at this and think about it! Today's three hour essay question."What is the optimum balance between the threat to individual liberties from terrorism and organised crime and the threat from the government and security service response to it?"

Get setting that for your final year students. A three hour one question essay.

Terror Talk: no more islamist jihads

Oh dear. The neo-cons don't even seem to understand that their use of the terms actually causes offence and diminishes them in the eyes of the Muslim world. So what terms are we allowed to use in this Orwellian world? The term "terrorist" isnt very helpful either. All it means is "people the US government doesnt like."
An interesting challenge for academics here. Perhaps a competition for some new concepts?

24 April 2008

EU deal on Immigrant Detentions

This means that all EU member states have agreed a 6 month maximum for detention of illegal immigrants and a readmission deal before sending them home. But in essence, it means that illegal immigrants will all now be returned to their country of origin. There is some opposition from the Socialist group of MEPs and this is the BBC spin on the decision, rather then the EUObserver report, which I will hope to post tomorrow.

UK Asylum Stistics for Fourth Quarter

Too much detail to summarise. Applications slightly down year on year, slightly up quarter on quarter. Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan areas from which largest number of asylum applicants originate.
Journalists might like to write a short essay on the difference between asylum-seekers, legal immigrants, trafficked human beings and illegal immigrants. Hah! That will be the day!