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Archive for the ‘SMUGGLING’ Category

Budapest: President Vladimir Putin has sparked outrage not only from dissidents but from ordinary Russians and usually loyal supporters with an order that smuggled Western food should be “incinerated on the spot”.

Kremlin adviser Yevgeny Bobrov​ described the order as “high-handed” and analysts said it could go down badly in a country where a third of the population still lived in poverty.

Illegally imported food is destroyed in the Belgorod region, Russia image
Illegally imported food is destroyed in the Belgorod region, Russia, on Thursday.Russians have been used for a year to seeing “cheese-like substance” rather than real cheddar on the supermarket shelves since President Putin declared an embargo on EU imports in retaliation for Western sanctions over Ukraine. But the order to actually destroy food came as a shock to many.
AdvertisementRussians were signing an online petition calling for the food to be given to the needy. “Why should we destroy food that could feed veterans, pensioners, the disabled, those with large families or those who have suffered from natural disasters?” said the appeal to the government.

President Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, already embroiled in a scandal about the expensive watch he wore at his recent wedding, struck a note of “let them eat cake” indifference when he questioned whether the signatures on the petition had been verified.
President Vladimir Putin's order to destroy illegally imported food was implemented in the Belgorod region image

President Vladimir Putin’s order to destroy illegally imported food was implemented in the Belgorod region on Thursday.

But there was no doubt about the identity of Vladimir Solovyov, a usually pro-Kremlin television host, who tweeted: “I don’t understand how a country that lived through the horrible hunger of the war and terrible years after the Revolution can destroy food.”

Solovyov hit the mark with this comment, for food occupies an almost sacred place in Russian culture.

Those who survived the wartime Siege of Leningrad (today’s St Petersburg), when the starving licked glue from the back of wallpaper for the protein, taught their children and grandchildren that it was a sin to throw away even a crust of stale bread. The message was reinforced by the Orthodox Church.

Members of Eat the Russian food movement check food at a Moscow food store image

Members of “Eat the Russian food” movement check food at a Moscow food store this week. Photo: AP

One Russian wrote on Facebook: “My mother used to smack me if I wasted a piece of bread. She would cut out the bit where I’d left my teeth marks and save the rest of the slice for the next meal.”

For many, the President’s draconian measure will be all the harder to comprehend given than Mr Putin himself came from a poor family in St Petersburg. He claims now to be a devout Orthodox Christian and has repeatedly sought to bolster his power by evoking the wartime spirit.

Moral issues aside, the order to destroy food raised a host of economic questions.

When the embargo against imports was first introduced, the authorities portrayed it as a chance for Russia to develop its domestic agriculture and industry. Instead, a black market sprang up, as evidenced by spray-painted signs on the asphalt in Moscow, with the word “parmesan” and a mobile telephone number for anyone who was interested.

The new government order is for food to be destroyed “by any means that do not harm the environment”, almost an open invitation for the corrupt to fake food bonfires and divert goodies onto the black market.

As a compromise, some experts suggested reprocessing the high-quality, even gourmet food, into animal feed, which only brought more howls of protest from people who live on a basic diet of bread, boiled sausage and macaroni.

Undeterred, one high-ranking government official, Dmitry Chugunov, approved the idea of stiff jail sentences for food smugglers, saying: “If we don’t kick this food addiction, we will never learn to build worthy cheese factories for ourselves.”

President Putin has enjoyed sky-high ratings for years, in large part because of his ability to speak to the common man. But with his persecution of food, it seems he may have lost touch with the public.

“It’s started. In Samara [a city on the Volga River], they are burning pork. If you ask me, they [the powers that be] will break themselves over this one, the public execution of food,” wrote Olga Bakushinskaya, an opposition journalist who recently left Russia for Israel.


Packs of sliced beef ham and cheese are placed on the ground image

Packs of sliced beef ham and cheese are placed on the ground as part of a display of illegally imported food falling under restrictions in St. Petersburg, earlier this month. Photo: REUTERS/Peter Kovalev

Moscow: Russian police said on Tuesday it had busted an international contraband cheese operation responsible for bringing 2 billion roubles ($40 million) of the embargoed product onto the domestic market.

Police seized 470 tons of the products, as well as label makers and “documents proving illegal activity,” during more than a dozen raids on warehouses, offices and residences apparently used by the group, according to a statement posted on the Interior Ministry’s website.

It said the Moscow-based ring illegally imported rennet products that it would falsely label as prestigious brand cheeses and sell to supermarkets and distribution centres in Moscow and St Petersburg.

bulldozer destroys illegally imported cheese in Belgorod region, Russia image
A bulldozer destroys illegally imported cheese in Belgorod region, Russia, on August 6.
Two of the ring’s organisers and four other participants, aged 29 to 58, have been detained and face up to 10 years in prison for “especially large-scale fraud by an organised group,” police said.

Russia has banned imports of dairy products, as well as raw meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, from the European Union, the United States and several other Western countries that have imposed sanctions against Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis.

When the embargo against imports was first introduced a year ago, the authorities portrayed it as a chance for Russia to develop its domestic agriculture and industry. Instead, a black market sprang up, as evidenced by spray-painted signs on the asphalt in Moscow, with the word “parmesan” and a mobile phone number for anyone who was interested.

specialist controls the process of cheese making at John Kopiski's farm in Krutovo village, east of Moscow image

A specialist controls the process of cheese making at John Kopiski’s farm in Krutovo village, east of Moscow. Russia has marked the one-year anniversary of its ban on Western agricultural products with an order to destroy contraband food. Photo: AP

Earlier this month, Russia destroyed tonnes of imported cheese and other foods.


Kalynda Davis is in custody in China for allegedly trying to smuggle ice to Australia image

Kalynda Davis is in custody in China for allegedly trying to smuggle ice to Australia.

She liked playing basketball, posting Instagram photos and going to music festivals.

But Sydney woman Kalynda Davis, 22, is now facing possible death by firing squad in China after being caught allegedly smuggling 75 kilograms of the drug “ice” out of the country.

Consular staff and the family of the young Penrith woman closed ranks on Friday in the hope of minimising publicity on the case.

A family member reported Ms Davis missing from their two-storey Glenmore Park home on November 5, only to find out several days later that she was in custody in China.

She was arrested with Peter Gardner, a 25-year-old from Richmond in Sydney’s north-west, and charged with smuggling a commercial quantity of methylamphetamine from Guangzhou city to Australia.

Friends suggested that Ms Davis had only recently met Mr Gardner and the bizarre turn of events were extremely out of character.

One friend, Cassandra Hoegal, posted online that she “got caught up with the wrong guy”.

Ms Davis was a talented basketball player, making it to state representative teams with the Penrith Panthers and once posting on a social media profile that basketball was “my life

Another friend who played netball with Ms Davis said it was “devastating” and “so very out of character”.

She went to a Christian school and was raised in a well-off family in Sydney’s west. Her father Larry, an ANZ banker, did not return calls on Friday and a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it would not be commenting.

Her Instagram and Facebook profiles, which she used prolifically to share photos from music festivals and basketball games, were shut down.

A NSW police spokesman said Ms Davis was reported missing to them on November 5 and when she was arrested in China the matter was referred to DFAT.

The two are the latest in a spate of arrests of Australians on drug-related charges, some whom are potentially facing the death penalty.

China’s drug laws state that people found guilty of possessing more than 50 grams of meth or heroin, or other narcotic drugs of “large quantities”, could be subject to the death penalty.

DFAT is currently extending consular assistance to nine Australians who are detained on serious drug charges.

The flurry of arrests prompted DFAT to issue an updated travel advisory in September warning travellers of China’s severe drug laws, and the “substantial risks involved in carrying parcels for others which may conceal narcotics”.

“We have some concerns that there may be a pattern in the cases of some of the individuals being arrested,” a spokesman said at the time.

The arrests have been centred on the southern province of Guangdong, a notorious hub for methamphetamine production and home to an anti-drug sweep codenamed Operation Thunder, which has netted hundreds, including dozens of foreigners.


Research into wildlife cybercrime has reveled more than 33,000 endangered species are currently listed for sale. –

animal trafficking cybercrime elephant image

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) released a report yesterday revealing the staggering scale of online trade of threatened and endangered animals.

“Wildlife crime can seem like a remote problem but the Internet brings it into everyone’s home,” said Josey Sharrad, Campaigner IFAW Australia.

“Our research has exposed only a fraction of wildlife cybercrime. If you think about all the countries in the world where people are using the Internet, then it is obvious the scale of the trade is mind-blowing.”

The comprehensive analysis in the report, Wanted – Dead or Alive; Exposing Online Wildlife Trade, on multi-million dollar trade in wild animals was performed over six weeks period in early 2014, on 280 online market places across 16 countries.

The investigation found out those more than 33,000 protected wildlife animals available for sale online, estimated to be worth almost 11 million USD.

“The team found a menagerie of wildlife for sale, both dead and alive,” said Sharrad.

“The highest number of adverts for large, live animals were found in Russia and Ukraine, and this raises concerns for the welfare of these animals that are being traded as a commodity.

“Overall, ivory was the most commonly touted product in the online adverts, accounting for almost a third. Given that an elephant is killed now every 15 minutes, it is incredibly disturbing,” warned Sharrad.

Much of the online and offline trade in wildlife and their parts is legal. However, police are investigating many of such advertisements that imposed legality concern.

Wildlife crime is a global threat, which ranks as the fourth most profitable illegal trade among human trafficking, drugs, goods counterfeit, and illegal arm sales.

Henry Sapiecha


Five people have been placed under arrested after police smashed what they claim was a Sydney-based heroin drug syndicate.

Officers seized about 20 kilograms of heroin after intercepting a shipping container arriving from Thailand, police said today.

Customs officers found the heroin wrapped in newspaper inside sports bags that had been packed into two boxes, police said.

“If you even think you can smuggle this sort of contraband into the country, watch out – get a grip we will find you, smash your operation, and put you before the courts,” NSW Police Central Metropolitan Region Commander Mark Murdoch said in a statement.

Police searched properties at Mount Annan, Narellan Vale, Casula, Belfield, Punchbowl and Wiley Park yesterday, and said they also found prohibited firearms, drugs, ammunition and cash.

They arrested three men, a 49-year-old man from Belfield and two men aged 52 and 55 from Mount Annan, who were charged with conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of a controlled drug, heroin.
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The Mount Annan men were also charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of an unlawfully imported border controlled drug.

Two men, aged 64 and 66 from Narellan Vale, were arrested and charged with attempting to traffic a commercial quantity of a controlled drug.

NSW Police and the NSW Crime Commission were working with the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

“This is further evidence that the key to tackling organised crime and protecting our borders is through co-operation and the sharing of intelligence,” Customs and Border Protection National Director of Compliance and Enforcement Roxanne Kelley said.

A press conference will be held today.

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Long term jail for cociane smugglers in the United Kingdom

Two men who attempted to smuggle 17 kilograms of cocaine into the UK inside live tropical fish have been jailed.

Olaf Urlik, 33, and Norbert Jarzabek, 32, both originally from Poland, first practised and then attempted to smuggle the high purity cocaine, worth an estimated AUD $2.36 million at wholesale, from Colombia into the UK.

The drug was dissolved in bags of fluid and then stored inside larger bags with the live fish, the Serious Organised Crime Agency said.

More than 16,000 fish died, and 34 survivors, including stingrays, catfish and tetras, are currently recovering in ZSL London Zoo.

Jarzabek carried out a trial run last April in a lock-up garage in Islington, London, after collecting a consignment of fish at Heathrow airport.

Urlik and Jarzabek then plotted the shipment which would contain cocaine, unaware that investigators from SOCA were watching.

The shipment of 25 double boxes of tropical fish arrived on July 9, labelled “Live Tropical Fish, Handle With Extreme Care”.

When SOCA and UK Border Agency officials scanned the boxes, they found ten containing bags of dissolved cocaine.

Jarzabek picked up the fish at the airport two days later. The consignment was loaded into the back of a van and driven to a property in Glade Avenue, Nottingham.

Urlik joined Jarzabek at the property about 2am after flying in from Amsterdam.

An hour and a half later, officers from SOCA and the UK Border Agency swooped and arrested the men at the scene, where a number of fish were found dead or dying in a colander due to a lack of oxygen.

Urlik and Jarzabek were jailed for 11 years each at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday after admitting conspiracy to import cocaine at an earlier hearing.

Sentencing the pair on Friday, His Honour Judge Head, said: “This was a highly sophisticated operation.

“Both these men had a substantial awareness of what they were doing, each had a leading role and both set to gain substantially.”

Following the hearing, Gerry Smyth, from SOCA, said: “These two were exceptionally callous. They used living creatures as a test run and then effectively as packaging for their drugs, seeing only the profits they would make.

“SOCA is grateful to the expert teams at ZSL London Zoo who helped us out in this very unusual case.

“Partnerships at a national and international level are vital if we are to tackle drug trafficking. Drugs cause misery for families and communities. These criminals are now facing lengthy jail terms and they’ve been denied their profits.”

Rachel Jones, from London Zoo, who is looking after the surviving fish, said: “Despite the awful way that they came about being here, we are pleased to say that the fish are now thriving at ZSL London Zoo’s Aquarium.

“When we first got the fish, most of them were drastically underweight, and they’d been living in cold, dirty water for days.

“Since we’ve been caring for them, we’ve seen vast improvements in their health; they’re growing really fast and they’ve joined groups of other Amazonian species for the public to see. They have a great future ahead of them, here at the zoo.”

Jacqueline Finn, senior lawyer in the Crown Prosecution Service organised crime division, said: “This case demonstrates the extraordinary and innovative lengths that drug dealers will go to so they can ply their evil trade.

“Urlik and Jarzabek thought that by having diluted cocaine hidden in bags of fish they would escape detection and net huge profits but they did not realise their plot had been detected.

“The joint investigation by SOCA, UKBA and Nottinghamshire Police provided the Crown Prosecution Service with detailed evidence against the two men.

“We worked closely with the agencies to build a strong case and when confronted with the evidence against them, Urlik and Jarzabek both pleaded guilty.”

Woman smuggled tablets into jail

04 Jul, 2011 06:56 AM
A magistrate has warned that penalties facing people who try to smuggle drugs into Canberras prison aren’t strong enough to deter would-be offenders.Magistrate Peter Dingwall made the comments on Friday when sentencing a woman who stashed a banned prescription drug in her bra and tried to sneak it past jail security. 

Naomi Catherine Pegg pleaded guilty to taking a prohibited item into a correctional facility, as well as possessing a drug of dependence, and an unrelated trespassing offence.

The 34-year-old was convicted and fined $750 on the smuggling charge, which carried a maximum jail sentence of one year and a fine of up to $1100 under the territory’s Corrections Management Act.

Mr Dingwall said it was a surprisingly low penalty and questioned whether the punishment was adequate as a general deterrent.

Pegg arrived at the Alexander Maconochie Centre on the afternoon of March 24, intending to visit an inmate.

Two corrective services officers stopped her as she was entering the visitors centre after sniffer dogs picked up the scent of contraband, according to a statement of facts.

The Florey woman admitted to the officers she was carrying four tablets of buprenorphine in a balloon stashed inside her bra.

Buprenorphine is a prescription medication used to treat heroin addiction which has also found its way into the drugs black market.

Territory law lists it as a controlled substance.

Pegg said she was intending to give the tablets to a prisoner, and was subsequently detained by staff until police arrived.

Mr Dingwall noted inmates often pressured people into trying to smuggle drugs into prison.

Pegg was given 12 months to pay the fine and court costs.

Scary Crimes Uncovered by FBI

in Operation Smoking Dragon

May. 10 2011 – 9:24 am 
The Seal of the United States Federal Bureau o...Operation Smoking Dragon: The FBI gets the job done under the most difficult of circumstances.

From Bill Singer: I pride myself on staying on top of current events.  Everyday I scour the headlines and numerous websites for stories to report on.  If you’ve been following Street Sweeper, you know that I cast a very wide net — from serious to zany.  At times, my commentary is biting and intense.  I have never been one to suffer fools; particularly when they are in government, regulation, or law enforcement.

On the other hand, I detest hypocrisy.  When I take folks and institutions to task, which I frequently do, that imposes an obligation upon me to compliment those targets of my ire when their performance excels.  Now, I proudly stand up and applaud a job well done.

Disneyland – Fantasmic – New Fire Breathing Dragon

This morning, I read about a recent development in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “Operation Smoking Dragon,” in which assistance was provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and the United States Secret Service.  On May 9, 2011, criminal defendant Yi Qing Chen, 49, of Rosemead, California, received a 300-month sentence following his conviction for a number of crimes, including an attempt to smuggle into the United States surface-to-air missiles.

If you don’t mind, let me repeat that: an attempt to smuggle into the United States surface-to-air missiles.

Despite federal budget constraints, a growing demand for the FBI’s services, and reports of low morale among many Special Agents (fueled by a ballooning caseload), the FBI is to be complimented for detecting Chen’s crimes — and the Department of Justice earns similar praise for its successful prosecution.

Notwithstanding my best efforts to write about this case, nothing that I rendered came close to the eye-opening, quite frightening prose that was presented in the FBI’s official Press Release.  I commend the verbatim release below to your consideration:

Department of Justice Press Release

For Immediate Release
May 9, 2011
United States Attorney’s Office
Central District of California
Contact:             (213) 894-2434

Southern California Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Convictions in Smuggling Schemes, Including Plot to Bring Surface-to-Air Missiles Into United States

LOS ANGELES—A Southern California man was sentenced this morning to 25 years in federal prison after being convicted on a series of federal charges related to schemes to smuggle many items into the United States, including surface-to-air missiles designed to shoot down aircraft.

Yi Qing Chen, 49, of Rosemead, California, received the 300-month sentence from United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer.

Last October, following a two-week trial, a federal jury convicted Chen of five felony counts—conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and cocaine, distribution of cocaine, trafficking in counterfeit cigarettes (approximately 800,000 cases of cigarettes), trafficking in contraband cigarettes, and conspiracy to import missile systems designed to destroy aircraft.

During this morning’s hearing, Judge Fischer said Chen “never saw a criminal scheme he didn’t want a part of.”

The evidence presented during the trial showed that Chen conspired to smuggle, among other things, Chinese-made QW-2 shoulder-fired missiles into the United States. The guilty verdict in the missile plot was the nation’s first conviction at trial under an anti-terrorism statute that outlaws the importation of missile systems designed to destroy aircraft. Enacted in December 2004, the statute carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 25 years in federal prison.

“Mr. Chen was the first person in the nation to be indicted for plotting to smuggle anti-aircraft missiles into the United States after the 9/11 attacks,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “The 25-year sentence imposed today appropriately reflects the severity of the threat this conspiracy posed to the security of the United States.”

The case against Chen is the result of Operation Smoking Dragon, an FBI-led undercover investigation into smuggling operations in Southern California. Smoking Dragon and a related investigation in New Jersey led to the indictment of 87 individuals on charges related to international conspiracies to smuggle counterfeit United States currency, drugs and other contraband into the United States. Operation Smoking Dragon resulted in four indictments and nearly three dozen convictions in Los Angeles. Chen is the final defendant to be sentenced in relation to Operation Smoking Dragon.

“Today’s sentencing of Mr. Chen is the result of eight years of investigative work by agents and prosecutors assigned to the Smoking Dragon case,” said Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles. “The defendant’s willingness to smuggle surface-to-air missiles into this country or anywhere is a frightening concept because there can be no confusion as to the purpose of such contraband—nor to the potentially horrific consequences for innocent people.”

In 2006, a man who conspired with Chen pleaded guilty in relation to various smuggling plots, including the scheme to bring the surface-to-air missiles into the United States (see: That co-defendant, Chao Tung Wu, died while pending sentencing and before Chen was brought to trial.

The evidence in the case showed that Chen and Wu met with an undercover FBI agent and agreed to arrange the importation of shoulder-fired QW-2 missiles, as well as launch and operation hardware for the missiles, from the People’s Republic of China. The missiles were never delivered because Wu and Chen were arrested in 2005 before the deal was concluded.

“Recordings played during trial, of defendant [Chen] and Wu, included discussions that they had engaged in a wide range of criminal activity, including narcotics and counterfeit cigarette trafficking and shipping vehicles to China in containers where documents fraudulently identified their contents,” prosecutors wrote in papers filed in court prior to today’s sentencing. “It was undisputed that Wu never conducted any legitimate business during the relevant period of time.”

In addition to the 25-year prison term, Judge Fischer ordered Chen to pay $520,000 to Philip Morris for the counterfeit cigarettes he smuggled into the United States.

Operation Smoking Dragon was an investigation run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which received substantial assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The United States Secret Service assisted in the investigation in relation to the smuggling of counterfeit $100 bills called “Supernotes” that are believed to have been manufactured in North Korea.

Assistant United States Attorney Mark Aveis
National Security Section
(213) 894-4477

Assistant United States Attorney Bonnie L. Hobbs
National Security Section
(213) 894-4447

Small plane full of cocaine

crashes in New Mexico lake

SANTA FE, New Mexico | Sun Apr 24, 2011 9:35pm EDT

SANTA FE, New Mexico (Reuters) – A small planed loaded with bundles of cocaine crashed into a lake in northern New Mexico on Sunday morning, apparently killing all on board, according to the New Mexico State Police.

Police Lieutenant Eric Garcia said the number of people aboard the aircraft was not immediately known but there were no signs that anybody had survived the crash.

All access to the 4-mile long, 3-mile-wide Heron Lake was closed after bundles of what turned out to be cocaine began floating to the surface, Garcia said.

He said state police responded with boat and diver teams after fishermen on the lake reported seeing the plane nose-dive into the water at about 11 a.m. local time. The plane was fully submerged, Garcia said

The National Weather Service in Albuquerque reported there were thunderstorms and wind gusts of up to 30 miles an hour in the area at the time of the crash.

The Federal Aviation Administration regional office in Fort Worth, Texas, also was investigating but had no further information.

Heron Lake State Park, about 100 miles north of Santa Fe, is located on the edge of the reservoir.

(Reporting by Dennis Carroll; Editing by Steve Gorman and Peter Bohan)


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