Crime Files Network

Archive for August, 2013




Kim Jong-un's North Korea

THE former girlfriend of Kim Jong-un has been executed by firing squad in a sex tape porn scandal.

Singer Hyon Song-wol was one of 12 members of the Unhasu Orchestra and the Wangjaesan Light Music Band reportedly gunned down after being accused of violating anti-pornography laws by videotaping themselves having sex and selling copies of the tape to North Korean fans and in China.

Kim’s ex-girlfriend executed by firing squad in porn scandal


Being overly sexual is not the only deadly pastime in North Korea.

What else can get you shot? Well, pretty much anything Kim Jong-un doesn’t approve of – from making phone calls to driving a Ford.

And the executions are particularly fast and brutal, with prisoners fed liquor and gagged then killed with no chance for reprieve.


The North’s legal system is dominated by the dynastic Kim family’s personality cult. Kim’s word – as was that of his father before him – is writ. His orders stand above the law, including the constitution, all forms of civil law and even above the influential Workers’ Party of Korea Charter.

Capital punishment is fairly common and is used for many offences, such as murder, rape, drug smuggling, treason, espionage, political dissidence and grand theft.

But it’s also used for defectors, piracy, prostitution, consumption of media not approved by the government, and proselytising religious ideals that contradict North Korea’s idiosyncratic Juche ideology.


Executions are carried out by firing squad in public, making North Korea one of the last five countries to still perform public executions; the other four being Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen.

These are some of the “offences” that can result in death:


Making international phone calls

A factory chief accused of making international phone calls was executed by a firing squad in a stadium before 150,000 spectators, a South Korean aid group reported. The 74-year-old man was shot in October 2007 for making international calls on 13 phones he installed in a factory basement, the Good Friends aid agency said. The execution sparked a stampede which killed six people.


Drinking when you should be mourning

A senior North Korean military officer was executed with a mortar round for drinking alcohol during the 100-day mourning period for the late Kim Jong-il. Kim Chol, vice-minister of the army, was “obliterated” after being forced to stand on a spot that had been zeroed in for a mortar round. The execution – a month after Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack – came on the orders of his son and successor, Kim Jong-un, that “no trace” of the offender be left behind, South Korea’s media reported.


Turning off the lights


In 2009, two officials from the Ministry of Electric Industry were executed for “shutting down the electricity supply” to the Sunjin Steel Mill in Kimchaek. The mill is an important cog in the wheels of Chinese-North Korean trade. Apparently, then-leader Kim Jong-il ordered the diversion of power from the mill to Pyongyang, but that didn’t save the two hapless officials.

Smuggling timber. And driving a Ford

In August 2007, another factory manager, Oh Moon Hyuk, was executed for smuggling timber to China. His execution was reported as a typical case of public order disturbance. He is known to have had a villa and a mistress and to have driven a Ford car, a report on the authoritative DailyNK site said.

Not understanding the economy

In 2010, senior official Pak Nam-gi was shot by firing squad after he was blamed for currency reforms that damaged North Korea’s already ailing economy and potentially affected the succession of Kim Jong-un. Pak Nam-gi, 77, was the Workers party chief for planning and was put to death as “a son of a bourgeois conspiring to infiltrate the ranks of revolutionaries to destroy the national economy”Yonhap news agency reported at the time.


Stealing corn

In 2011, a man who stole 50kg of corn – worth about $20 – was one of four people reportedly shot in a vacant lot in front of a cement factory in Pyongyang. A source told DailyNK: “One of them was for stealing oil from a transformer, another one stole cables, and another stole 50 kilograms of corn from a collective farm and then sold it in the jangmadang.” The source was not aware of the fourth person’s crime.

Other crimes documented by aid agencies and human rights organisations and reported by defectors and North Korea watchers, include embezzlement, smuggling and even possessing US dollars.

If some of the crimes seem petty, the method of execution is brutal.

One source told how once a public execution has been decided, the authorities don’t give any opportunity to make excuses for the crime. “After feeding the prisoner a glass of liquor, they put a gag in his or her mouth and carry out the execution,” the source was quoted as saying.

In another case a man found guilty of illegally selling goods to China was put before the firing squad and 90 shots were fired in contrast to the usual practice of nine shots for one person. Thirty of the charges were fired from an automatic rifle.

Bizarrely, some executions are made to look like traffic accidents, according to Amnesty International.


Amnesty’s latest annual report says North Korea continues to refuse access to independent observers, while executions for political offences are continuing and freedom of religion is severely restricted.

The UN Human Rights Committee and the EU expressed serious concerns to Pyongyang about human rights last year.

The families of the executed have allegedly been sent to prison camps under the rogue country’s guilt by association laws.

Kim and Hong dated until his despot dad Kim Jong-il ordered their relationship to end.

They were rumoured to be having an affair despite eventually marrying other people, with Kim’s new wife Ri Sol-ju herself a former member of the Unhasu Orchestra.

“Kim Jong-un has been viciously eliminating anyone who he deems a challenge to his authority,” a source told Chosun Ilbo, adding the executions “show that he is fixated on consolidating his leadership”.


Hyon – famous for propaganda songs including Footsteps of Soldiers, I Love Pyongyang and We are Troops of the Party – was a singer with the country’s popular Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble.

“They were executed with machine guns while the key members of the Unhasu Orchestra, Wangjaesan Light Band and Moranbong Band as well as the families of the victims looked on,” a source said.

A VIDEO of three Korean women dancing in leotards is rumoured to be the “sex tape” Kim Jong-Un used to justify the execution of his ex-girlfriend.

The seemingly innocuous clip shows the trio dancing to a version of Elvis Presley’s Aloha Oe in cowboy hats and tasselled skirts, The Daily Mail reports.

But reports from China suggest that it was this video that led to the execution of Hyon Song-wol and 11 other entertainers last month.



South Korean media reported last week that Hyon had been killed by machine gun fire amid claims that she had been appearing in pornographic videos. Twelve singers, musicians and dancers from two pop groups are said to have been executed on August 20.




Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to be tried as a mass murderer

Gas clue in Syria phone call,War clouds.


United States intelligence services overheard a Syrian official in ”panicked phone calls with the leader of a chemical weapons unit” after last week’s alleged chemical attack, Foreign Policy magazine has reported.

”An official at the Syrian Ministry of Defence exchanged panicked phone calls with leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1000 people,” the report said.

”Those conversations were overheard by US intelligence services,” the magazine said on Tuesday. ”That is the major reason why American officials now say they’re certain that the attacks were the work of the Bashar al-Assad regime – and why the US military is likely to attack that regime in a matter of days.’

The body of a victim who was killed by what activists say was a chemical weapons attack and discovered on Friday, is seen in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus

United Nations investigators in Syria on Tuesday embarked on a hunt from bomb craters to blood samples for evidence of chemical weapons, even as officials from the US and Britain said it was indisputable the agents had been used.

”The best evidence you can find is an actual weapon, even if it’s exploded or broken up,” said Ralf Trapp, a former adviser at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

”If you find a weapon you can tell whether it was something that was designed to deliver a liquid, and you will have residual contamination.”

Video footage of victims posted on the internet is convincing to Dr Trapp. ”It’s [on] a scale where you cannot stage it,” he said.

Doctors Without Borders said three hospitals it supports in Damascus had treated about 3600 patients with neurotoxic symptoms in less than three hours on August 21, and that 355 died.

The Syrian regime, backed by Russia and Iran, has said rebels were behind the attacks.

”We all hear the drums of war around us,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said. ”If they want to attack Syria, I think that using the lie of chemical weapons is fake and not accurate, and I challenge them to show evidence.”

The UN’s inspection team includes nine OPCW investigators and three experts from the World Health Organisation. The OPCW is a multinational group established to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention, which went into force in 1997 and bans the development, stockpiling, transfer and use of chemical arms.

Longer-lasting byproducts of a nerve agent such as sarin can be found in soil, rubble or animal corpses, Dr Trapp said.

Sarin interferes with cholinesterase, an enzyme in the body that regulates the movement of muscles and glands. Victims can survive if treated quickly enough with antidotes.

Doctors Without Borders said staff at its hospitals in Damascus reported large numbers of patients arriving with symptoms including convulsions, excess saliva, pinpoint pupils, blurred vision and respiratory distress.


The UN investigators may be able to test survivors for depressed levels of cholinesterase, Dr Trapp said. But to establish the precise agent responsible, blood would need to be sent out for testing.

History suggests a thorough analysis is needed before the US and its allies decide whether to take military action, said Matthew Meselson, co-director of the Harvard Sussex Program on Chemical and Biological Weapons.

While initial reports of Iraq’s deadly chemical attack on Kurds in Halabja in 1988 proved correct, US accusations in 1981 that Russia had supplied a chemical agent that communist forces in Vietnam and Laos dispersed over Thailand were false; the so-called ”yellow rain” turned out to be honeybee droppings.

”It’s essential that any head of state or government official who’s making momentous decisions on the basis of chemical analysis must talk not just with other political figures or subordinates, but with individuals who are deeply knowledgable about the science itself,” Professor Meselson said.

Bloomberg, AFP, Washington Post

Damascus, Syria (CNN) — Saying “there is no doubt who is responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons attack in Syria: the Syrian regime,” Vice President Joe Biden signaled Tuesday that the United States — with its allies — was ready to act.

“Those who use chemical weapons against defenseless men, women and children should and must be held accountable,” Biden said in a speech to the American Legion.

The vice president’s remarks echo those made by other U.S. officials in recent days, as well as many of the nation’s foremost allies.

Dead animals are seen at the Zamalka area, where activists say chemical weapons were used by forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad in the eastern suburbs of DamascusA man inspects bodies of victims found on Friday and were killed by what activists say was a chemical weapons attack, in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus130827102208-01-syria-morgue-story-top

French President Francois Hollande said his administration was “ready to punish those who made the decision to gas these innocent people,” adding that “everything leads us to believe” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are responsible.

British Prime Minister David Cameron — who talked Tuesday with U.S. President Barack Obama — called lawmakers back from their summer vacations to consider a response to Syria, as the UK military prepares contingency plans.


And U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the BBC on Tuesday that U.S. forces are “ready to go” if ordered to strike Syria by President Barack Obama.

“The options are there. The United States Department of Defense is ready to carry out those options,” Hagel said.

Western leaders were reacting to a growing consensus that the Syrian regime was responsible for an August 21 attack that killed more than 1,300 people, most of them dying from exposure to toxic gases, according to rebel officials. The opposition — which has said it’s been targeted by chemical weapons attacks in the past as well — backed up its latest allegations with gruesome video of rows of dead bodies, including women and children, with no visible wounds.

Opinion: For U.S., Syria is truly a problem from hell

Syrian officials, though, have steadfastly denied using chemical weapons in this or other cases.

Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Tuesday that his government would never use such munitions against its own people, daring those who disagree to present evidence publicly.

He said rebel forces were to blame for security concerns near the suspected chemical sites, arguing that Western leaders are using the claims as an excuse to go after al-Assad’s regime.

“We all hear the drums of war,” Moallem said. “They want to attack Syria. I believe to use chemical weapons as a pretext is not a right.”

And if foreign powers do strike the Middle Eastern nation, its foreign minister said the government and its forces will fight back.

“Syria is not easy to swallow,” said Moallem. “We have the materials to defend ourselves. We will surprise others.”

U.N. inspectors in Syria, but what will they find?

The United Nations has sent inspectors to Syria to try to get to the bottom of the wildly conflicting accounts of chemical warfare.

The opposition says chemical payloads were among the ordnance fired into the rebel stronghold of Ghouta. The government, via state TV reports, claims that its forces came into contact with toxic gas Saturday in Jobar, on the edge of Damascus — blaming this on “terrorists,” the term it commonly uses for rebel fighters.

CNN could not independently confirm either account, including videos purported to show the aftermath of each.

U.S. considers military action in Syria

The case against Syria

Syria warns U.S. against attack

Missile strikes on Syria likely response to chemical attack

On Monday, U.N. inspectors visited the town of Moadamiyet al-Sham, despite a close call with snipers that left one of their vehicles damaged and an explosion nearby.

The inspectors had been expected Tuesday to head to Ghouta, but that trip was pushed back a day “in order to improve preparedness and safety for the team.”

Moallem blamed rebel forces for failing to guarantee the U.N. group’s safety and denying that its forces have delayed inspections by continually shelling Ghouta.

Video posted Tuesday to YouTube purported to show the area being shelled, though CNN could not verify this video’s authenticity.

Yet Biden reiterated the claim that Syrian forces were shelling the suspected chemical attack site. And U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said it may be too late for a valid inspection of what happened — saying “too much time has passed” and accusing al-Assad’s government of using the U.N. investigation “as a stalling tactic or a charade to hide behind.”

The United States, meanwhile, is conducting its own investigation: An intelligence report detailing evidence of the alleged attack could be released as early as Tuesday, a U.S. official told CNN. The report will include forensic evidence and intercepted communications among Syrian military commanders, according to the official.

The vice president said that beyond whatever inspectors do or do not find, common sense and the recent past point to one culprit.

“The Syrian regime are the only ones who have the weapons, have used chemical weapons multiple times in the past, have the means of delivering those weapons, have been determined to wipe out exactly the places that were attacked by chemical weapons,” he said Tuesday.

Russia leads international charge against strikes

The calls for a military response were not without opposition.

Russia is leading the charge internationally, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov having said there is no proof yet Syria’s government is behind last week’s chemical attack. His office compares the Western allegations against Syria to claims Iraq was hoarding weapons of mass destruction before the U.S. invasion in 2003 — allegations that fell apart once American troops began searching for them.

Intervening in Middle East turmoil: Mission impossible?

And Tuesday, Russia’s foreign ministry accused Washington of trying to “create artificial groundless excuses for military intervention.”

Syria’s wounded treated in Israel

Horrific video we must show you

Moscow bemoaned the U.S. postponement of a meeting that was scheduled for Wednesday in The Hague, where top diplomats from both countries had planned to discuss the war in Syria.

And Russia criticized the United States for, in its view, trying to bypass the U.N. Security Council to take action on the reported chemical attack.

Should anything be moved through the U.N. council, Russia — which has a permanent seat on it — could block it.

Still, that’s what former British Foreign Secretary David Owen urged world leaders to do before unleashing missiles or warplanes on Syrian targets.

Omran al-Zoubi, Syria’s information minister, on Tuesday challenged the United States to “present this proof to the rest of the world” — claiming that they are asking for trouble if they do not.

“If they don’t have proof or evidence, then how are they going to stand up to the American public opinion and to the world public opinion and explain why they are attacking Syria?” al-Zoubi told CNN from Damascus.

Some worldwide have expressed concern that intervening in Syria may provoke broader conflict in the Middle East or ensnare Western powers in another bloody conflict after years of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cameron said that he understands those concerns, vowing that any action would have to be “proportionate, … legal (and) would have to be specifically about deterring the use of chemical weapons.”

Still, he said it’s critically important that action be taken to show the international taboo against chemical weapons will not be tolerated.

“This is not about wars in the Middle East; this is not even about the Syrian conflict,” he said. “It’s about use of chemical weapons and making sure, as a world, we deter their use and we deter the appalling scenes we’ve all seen on our television screens.

Syria diplomacy: Why Jordan wants military meeting to be hush-hush

CNN’s Fred Pleitgen reported from Syria. CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali reported from Atlanta and Jomana Karadsheh from Jordan. Michael Pearson wrote and reported from Atlanta. CNN’s Greg Botelho, Ben Brumfield, Boriana Milanova, Chris Lawrence, Jim Acosta, Josh Levs, Joe Sterling, Elise Labott, Jill Dougherty and Saskya Vandoorne also contributed to this report.

However the video below gives another side to the war mongering gas attack scenario by the Syrian regime. It highlights that the rebels supported by the USA were responsible for the attack.You be the judge.



To the casual observer, it was an ordinary suburban house, the exterior a little weathered and run down, the yard bordering on neglect.


But as police and forensic investigators discovered to their – and the world’s – horror, it was a house that hid dark secrets; a house filled with the vile manifestations of a depraved man who held captive three women for more than a decade. Women he had abducted as young girls. Stolen from their families and thrown into a dungeon. Chained up, beaten, raped and abused over and over. For 11 years

When US prosecutors wheeled a dollhouse replica of Ariel Castro’s home into a Cleveland courtroom, it did little to convey the true horror experienced by his three victims – Michele Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus.

Police photographs showed two rooms in which Ms Berry and her child – fathered by Castro – were sometimes kept, with Disney film posters tacked to the pink walls, stuffed animals lined up on the bed.

In horrifying contrast, rusted iron chains were found on the floor and the windows boarded with heavy wooden planks.

The women were rarely given access to the bathroom, instead having to relieve themselves in plastic buckets that were “emptied infrequently”, according to prosecutors.

More than 45 kilograms of chain was found in total throughout in the filthy, darkened house.

Prosecutors told the court how Castro kept a “significant amount of cash” in a basement washing machine, which he would then throw at the victims after raping them.

Ariel Castro breaks down while talking about the child that he fathered with Amada Berry as he addresses the court while seated between attorneys. Photo: Reuters

The women could then use the money to beg him for food and small personal items.

The three women were often chained up for days at a time and were fed just once a day.

Based on diary entries, police told of how the women were chained to poles in the basement, or to a bedroom heater, or kept in a van for days on end.

Chains found in a bedroom are shown during the sentencing phase for Ariel Castro in Cleveland. Castro. Photo: AP

One woman, after she tried to escape, had a vacuum-cleaner cord wrapped around her neck, according to a prosecution memo.

Castro also kept a motorcycle helmet in the basement, which he would force the women to wear, to muffle their screams as he repeatedly raped them.

Relatives and neighbours of the unemployed school bus driver told US media that large sections of the house were padlocked and completely out of bounds to visitors.


Ariel Castro breaks down while talking about the child that he fathered with Amada Berry as he addresses the court while seated between attorneys. Photo: ReutersCastro would sometimes take more than 45 minutes to come to the door, and play loud music if visitors arrived unannounced. Virtually all the doors in the house were shown to have no handles and no access from inside, and the front door was heavily alarmed.

Police also found a scrawled letter written by Castro on April 2, 2004 – two days after he abducted Miss DeJesus – in which he admitted: “I am a sexual predator.”

Inside Ariel Castro’s house of horrors

An image is shown on a courtroom monitor of a letter that Ariel Castro wrote explaining many of his crimes and stating that “I am a sexual predator”, during Castro’s sentencing on kidnapping, rape and murder in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo: REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

Ariel Castro’s home: it looked like a normal house from the outside. Photo: Getty Images


.Ms Knight – who faced her torturer in court – became pregnant four times during her 11 years of captivity


Castro would sometimes take more than 45 minutes to come to the door, and play loud music if visitors arrived unannounced. Virtually all the doors in the house were shown to have no handles and no access from inside, and the front door was heavily alarmed.

Police also found a scrawled letter written by Castro on April 2, 2004 – two days after he abducted Miss DeJesus – in which he admitted: “I am a sexual predator.”

Ms Knight – who faced her torturer in court – became pregnant four times during her 11 years of captivity.

Ariel Castro made his victims wear this helmet while he raped them. Photo: Reuters

Tragically, Castro terminated her pregnancies by starving her for days, feeding her rotten food and then kicking and jumping on her stomach.

Ms Berry was “allowed” to carry a pregnancy to term, giving birth in a plastic child’s pool on Christmas Day, 2006.

On Thursday, Judge Michael Russo sentenced Castro to life in prison plus 1000 years, with no possibility of parole, for 977 criminal counts relating to multiple abductions, rapes and assaults.

“Sir, there’s no place in this city, there is no place in this country and indeed there is no place in this world for those who enslave others, those who sexually assault others and those who brutalise others,” he said.

Ohio authorities have said the house is to be demolished.

– with AP






Nairobi: A former British Army officer who helped run the Kenyan game reserve at which the Prince William and Kate Middleton became engaged has been killed by a machete-wielding gang.

Lieutenant Colonel David Parkinson, 58, and his wife, Sonya, who have two daughters, were attacked by a gang of armed men at their ranch as they slept in the early hours of on Sunday morning.

The hooded gunmen tied up Mrs Parkinson but she managed to escape during the struggle and lock herself in a storeroom, only to return to find her -husband’s lifeless body.

Mr Parkinson, who received an OBE in 1998, was the deputy director of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy for five years from 2003.


The Duke of Cambridge fell in love with the reserve after spending part of his gap year there, describing it as one of the “happiest times” of his life.

He whisked the then Kate Middleton to the 62,000-acre sanctuary for a romantic holiday in 2005, before returning with her to propose in 2010.

The couple are good friends with the estate’s owner, Ian Craig, and the Duke was once said to have dated his daughter, Jecca, with whom he remains close.

A Kensington Palace spokesman confirmed that the Duke had met Lt Col Parkinson during his travels and said he was “saddened by his death”.

The Parkinsons’ daughters, Renate, 20, and Anna, 23, both live in Sussex, where they grew up.

Eoghan McHugh, Renate’s boyfriend, speaking from the family home in Hassocks, West Sussex, declined to comment, but said: “You can appreciate the gravity of the situation.”

Lt Col Parkinson served with the Parachute Regiment for 30 years, and was chief instructor at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, in the early 1990s.

He retired in 2003 and had recently been working as the manager of Lolldaiga Hills, a 49,000-acre cattle ranch and conservancy in the foothills of Mount Kenya, more than 125 miles from the capital, Nairobi. He was well known for his commitment to conservation and community development.

The region’s tight-knit expatriate community was said to be deeply shaken by the news, describing Lt Col Parkinson as very popular and likable.

Anthony Mutahi Kimaru, a local MP, told The Daily Telegraph: “We are devastated by the incident. I knew him personally and he was developing very important community programmes.”

Police said the assailants demanded valuables before attacking the couple.

A laptop, phone and some ornaments were reportedly missing, although friends said that little of value had been stolen.

A suspect was arrested from a nearby village following a police search with sniffer dogs.

The British Army has a training support base in the town of Nanyuki, which Lt Col Parkinson had commanded.

Telegraph, UK





An Australian man risked losing his driver’s licence for three years when he took his motorised esky on a drunken late night trip to a McDonald’s drive-through.

William Bevan Kropp, was three times over the limit when he drove the 49cc motorised esky 20km/h from his Lisa Place home along Denton Park Drive to Rutherford McDonald’s.

Police were responding to a report of antisocial behaviour at the fast food restaurant about 2.20am on May 19 when they saw Kropp, 27, steer into the drive-through.

When police stopped him at the final window, they saw the four-wheeled vehicle was fitted with an esky as a seat, a 49cc petrol motor that formed part of the chassis, and full steering but it had no lights, blinkers or reflectors.

The device is classed as a vehicle under the law that defines a vehicle as “built to be propelled by a motor that forms part of the vehicle”.

Kropp was not wearing a helmet, his eyes were glazed and his speech slurred when police asked for his licence.

He told police he’d had “some vodkas” earlier in the night and was taken to Maitland police station after returning a positive reading to a roadside breath test.

Police said the man became aggressive at the station where he returned a high-range reading of 0.155.

He told police he had consumed five low-carb beers and five vodka pineapple drinks since 11am the day before.

Kropp was suspended from driving and had been without his licence for three months when he fronted Maitland Local Court on Wednesday to defend a high-range drink-driving and driving an unregistered vehicle charge.

After discussions with police Kropp pleaded guilty to the offences.

The court heard the suspension had placed a massive strain on his ­employment and finances.

Kropp faced an automatic three-year disqualification for high-range drink-driving that also carries a maximum $3300 fine and 18 months jail.

His licence was returned to him and he was placed on a two-year good behaviour bond without conviction provided he completed the Traffic Offenders Program, attend a Road Wise Course and submit an assignment relating to the illegality of internet-type vehicles, which is where he bought the vehicle.




A customs officer with some of the packaged cocaine, seized as part of Operation Basco which commenced in July

An international law enforcement operation has seized 750 kilograms of cocaine bound for Australia


The drugs were found on a yacht in a Vanuatu port, hidden underneath concrete that required a chisel to cut through. The  cocaine is estimated to be worth about $370 million.

Australian Federal Police agents joined Australian customs concealment experts and US officials in Port Vila on Monday to examine the massive drug bust, one of the largest involving Australian law agencies.

The boat, known to authorities as the Raj but renamed Scope, was docked and no one was on board when the seizure was made.

TO-art729 yacht raided in a Vanuatu port which had about 750 kilograms of cocaine onboard

No one has been arrested.  Authorities said the boat was for sale when it was raided.

The drug bust is the largest made under Project Cringle, an operation set up in 2010 by the AFP, Australian Customs and Border Production and the US Drug Enforcement Administration to target criminal organisations using the South Pacific as a transit point and staging area.

Customs Compliance and Enforcement national director Karen Harfield said there was a sophisticated concealment of the drugs in the lower engine compartments and around the keel area of the hull.“Certainly the coverage made it particularly difficult – the actual ability to access the gaps where the drugs could be concealed meant you had to use a chisel, rather than being able to open compartments or pull compartments apart,” Ms Harfield said.

The AFP Serious and Organised Crime national manager, Assistant Commissioner Ramzi Jabbour, said the bust would hinder the drug trade in Australia.

“We’ve been exceedingly successful – on this occasion we’ve taken the legs out from underneath them, but we’re not resting on their laurels.

“With respect to the price of the commodity [cocaine] on our streets, this is an indication that it is readily available, but efforts like this will certainly make an impact.”

Assistant Commissioner Jabbour said the bust had potentially stopped more than 750,000 deals taking place on Australian streets.

Project Cringle has resulted in 10 arrests and the seizure of almost two tonnes of cocaine destined for Australia from five vessels.









Duncan, Oklahoma: The youths looked terribly young and more stunned than scared when they were led individually into a packed courtroom in rural Oklahoma to face charges for the murder of Christopher Lane, an Australian they had never met.

The prosecutor, Jason Hicks, repeated the terrible details already alleged by police – that Mr Lane, who was visiting his girlfriend, Sarah Harper, had jogged past the boys as they sat around outside a house on Friday afternoon; that they selected him as a target, followed him in a car and shot him about four minutes later.

Charged: Chancey Luna, Michael Jones and James Edwards.
Charged: Chancey Luna, Michael Jones and James Edwards.

For people trying to understand what drove the boys to kill Mr Lane, their brief court appearances offered a few hints but no answers beyond the information already released by local police, that they were bored.

Chancey Allen Luna, 16, is accused of pulling the trigger of the .22-calibre handgun that was used to kill Mr Lane. He was charged with first-degree murder and refused a bond before being lead away in his orange prison pyjamas, shackled hand and foot. As he stood before the judge, his mother sitting in the third row, was handed documents detailing her son’s rights. Her hands shook as she gripped the papers and she sobbed as he was led away.

Two rows in front of her, Cindy Harper, Sarah’s mother, sat quietly throughout the proceedings.

Jennifer Luna, right, the mother of murder suspect Chancey Luna, turns away from the media.
Jennifer Luna, right, the mother of murder suspect Chancey Luna, turns away from the media. Photo: AP

James Francis Edwards, jnr, 15, is alleged to have been a passenger in the car and was also charged with first-degree murder. Mr Hicks said the youth had been cold and callous throughout the proceedings. He said that as James stood before officers at the charging counter he danced, and has since treated the matter as a “joke”.

Mr Hicks noted that a short time after the murder James appeared in the very courthouse he was formally charged with to attend a court ordered supervision meeting for earlier offences.

But the boy’s court appointed lawyer, Jim Berry, told Fairfax that his client takes the matter very seriously, and denies his attitude is callous.

Australian baseballer Chris Lane with his girlfriend Sarah Harper.
Australian baseballer Chris Lane with his girlfriend Sarah Harper.

“He is very upset.”

As he was led out of the room, more sobbing could be heard throughout the small court.

Outside the court his father, James Edwards snr, said he stood by his boy, an athlete who dreamed of one day competing in wrestling in the Olympic Games. He said James was a happy boy who, while being known to police, had not been in serious trouble before.

Spectators line up to go through a metal detector to enter the courtroom.
Spectators line up to go through a metal detector to enter the courtroom. Photo: AP

He said he did not believe his son could have been responsible for the killing.

He had heard rumours the boys were “wannabe gangsters”, but only since the shooting.

Duncan police chief told media earlier that the boys “wanted to be Billy Bob Badasses” .

Australian college student Christopher Lane is pictured playing catcher. Police arrested three teens in the death of Lane, one of whom told police they shot Lane because they were bored, according to media reports.
Australian college student Christopher Lane is pictured playing catcher. Police arrested three teens in the death of Lane, one of whom told police they shot Lane because they were bored, according to media reports. Photo: Reuters

Mr Edwards Snr said his son did not grow up around guns. “He said to me, ‘Dad, why don’t we have guns around the house?’ and I said, ‘because I don’t need no guns’.

James’ older sister said she believed racism was a factor in the charges, with the two African-American boys receiving the tougher charges.


The oldest of the three accused is Michael Dewayne Jones, 17. He has been charged with accessory after the fact of first degree murder and a vehicle and firearm offence. He also faces what Mr Hicks called “a long, long sentence” if convicted, but Mr Hicks told the court he had co-operated with police and the District Attorney. His bond was set at US$1 million.

Because of the seriousness of the charges they face not guilty pleas were automatically entered on their behalf and they were given no opportunity to address the court at any length, with the judge silencing one of the youths when he went to offer details of the crime.

While many of their supporters sobbed openly, all three boys remained mostly silent, making little attempt to even catch eyes with those in court. They raised their shackled hands to take their oaths and offered quiet responses when the judge asked if they understood the process and their rights.

The people of Duncan, an oil and farming town of about 25,000, known for little apart from being the birthplace of the the company Halliburton, are shocked by Friday’s murder.

“I would say to our Australian friends that this is not Duncan, Oklahoma,” said Mr Hicks after the brief hearing, and the sentiment was echoed around Duncan.


He said some people were now scared to leave home.

One man who lived near the site of the killing is George Schwartz, who is stunned not only because of the pointless violence, but because his two boys – who know the accused – were in the street minutes before the shooting.

“It could have been them,” he says

Mr Schwartz’s 16-year-old son Joseph goes to school with the boys, and is now reluctant to return to school.

“He knows all three of them because he is 16-years-old too. He knows that the kids aren’t the greatest, let’s put it that way.

“He is shocked in my opinion… he knows that some kids are off base, it’s sad.”

No one else in town could explain the attack either. Duncan is a small town without a gang problem, though a sheriff’s officer said he believed youths who had “bought themselves up” were becoming more violent.


Even in wider America, a nation that is used to gun crimes, the story attracted significant attention, largely due to its terrible pointlessness. People are appalled by but understand drug killings, fights and domestic violence. They have even come to a sad understanding of the rare figure that seeks fame by mass killing. But the thought that a group of small town boys killed in cold blood out of idle boredom seems to confound comprehension.

Over the road from the grassy verge where Mr Lane died lives Roy Burke, the head football coach of the local middle school. He remembers Sarah Harper from when he taught her PE in Will Rogers elementary school girl.

“You think things like this don’t happen in your town, but obviously they happen anywhere,” he said

“Bad things happen to good people



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