#AceHealthReport – Mar.01: MOSCOW, March 1 (Sputnik) – The UK government will start vaccinating citizens over 40 against COVID-19 this month, as the vaccination campaign is weeks ahead of schedule, The Telegraph reported on Monday:
#Coronavirus Report: Worldwide cases reach 114-million as U.K. government reach 20-million vaccines and plan to start vaccinating citizens who are over 40yrs-of-age this month according to @Telegraph today …This means that people over 40 will be able to receive their first coronavirus vaccine shot already in March, according to the newspaper.
According to the media outlet, the National Health Service (NHS) is sending the last letters of invitation to vaccinate citizens over 60 years of age. Thus, it is expected that by the end of the week, all citizens from the seven major priority groups will have been invited to get inoculated:
Given that about 2.5 million people receive the first coronavirus vaccine shot every week, the vaccination of the subsequent group – those over 50 – could begin on March 15, nearly one month ahead of the initial vaccination plan, the publication said: The vaccination campaign for Britons over 50 is reportedly expected to take about two weeks, if there are no disruptions in the deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines:
The UK kicked off the nationwide vaccination campaign on December 8. Over 20 million UK nationals have already received a vaccine. Those first in line to receive the shot were senior citizens aged 70 and over, health and care workers and people with extreme underlying conditions:
Editor says …..As l read many blogs daily some are using their time and providing people of this world in may countries with information that could either save their lives or at least help someone to help another person.
But others readily tell us that governments knew that our health services were under-funded and under-staffed …OK I agree ….but blame does not allow us to gain.
If we work together to help those in our community the best way we can then maybe that will bring about the change we seek in our ❤️ And in so doing God by any name will be able to see we #Care2Share his love given by his sons crucification and help and guidance will come.
🙏’s Friends, Followers, Readers and All People of this World Amen
The #pandemic has opened up a bio-based-weapon that can be used to politicise a story on peoples heartache over the death of a loved or to enable ‘ hard hearted ‘ journalists who want the story first to leave no stone unturned even if their intentions are not honourable……
So what of #truth this concept that alludes the media just to create sensationalism and lead people like the shepherd …herding their flock to the edge of the cliff and offering advice of what to do when the hit the bottom ….followed by blaming their stupidly of being lemmings ……
The news should be informative and place before its readers …advice and guidance to enable the public to become to form an opinion and not to place before their audience a convoluted message of misleading information ..that neither informs or provides anything but hollow words ……
People deserve better than the sum of what the media call news …..and we need to become the purveyors of #truth and not publish as bloggers what they wheel out and call the daily news …….
Be safe my friends, followers and readers God Bless 🙏’s
#AceNewsReport – Mar.05: “ While this joint operation lasted approximately 30 days, HSI Dallas will continue working relentlessly to identify & recover missing children who become vulnerable to human traffickers across the North Texas region,” said HSI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Spradlin. “Our continued collaboration with our local, state and federal law-enforcement partners and non-governmental organizations is vital to combatting this global epidemic.”
North Texas Trafficking Task Force recovers 31 missing children: ‘In early February, the HSI led NTTTF supported by the United States Marshals Service (USMS) for the Northern District of Texas (NDTX) conducted a joint law-enforcement operation to locate the missing children reported through the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database and law enforcement partners’
During the month-long operation, NTTTF analysts and special agents discovered that six of the missing children were considered high risk of being sex trafficked, five were runaways located away from their primary residence. The remaining 20 children were returned home or to their juvenile facility of record.
The NTTTF is an HSI Dallas and Northern District of Texas Attorney’s Office-led task force, created to combat human trafficking and rescue trafficking victims. The NTTTF, with assistance from the HSI Dallas Victim Coordinator and DFW area non-government organizations (NGO), assists in rescuing trafficking victims, ensuring their safety by using a victim-centered approach that focuses on the victim’s wellbeing, health and delivery of social services.
The NTTTF provided substantial support and assistance through intelligence analysis and investigative activity, leading to the recovery of all the minors reported missing.
Multiple organizations were comprised of the multi-agency operation to include: The Arlington Police Department, Colleyville Police Department, Dallas Police Department, Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Worth Police Department, Grand Prairie Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex is one of the top five locations across the nation for criminal arrests for Human Trafficking, validating the priority and urgency in locating the missing children.
HSI Dallas and the NTTTF partners assisted in providing social services to the recovered children, placing special emphasis on those most vulnerable to sex trafficking.
HSI is the principal investigative arm of DHS and a vital U.S. asset in combatting transnational crime and threats. One of HSI’s top priorities is to protect the public from crimes of victimization, and HSI’s human trafficking and child exploitation investigations programs are central components of this mission set. HSI is recognized as a global leader in these investigative disciplines, and is committed to utilizing its vast authorities, international footprint and strong government and non-government partnerships to identify and rescue child victims, identify and apprehend offenders, prevent human trafficking, prevent transnational child sexual abuse, and help make the internet a safer place for children.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.05: The indictment and a factual basis filed by the government describe a long-running scheme by which Karlsson and EMS used a website to commit wire fraud against thousands of victims. Specifically, the indictment explains that from Nov. 27, 2012, through June 19, 2019, Karlsson and EMS used www.easternmetalsecurities.com to make fraudulent representations and convince victims to send funds using a virtual currency exchange. During the same period, Karlsson and EMS used deceptive “devices and contrivances” to sell securities and then tried to conceal the proceeds of the wire fraud and securities fraud.
Cryptocurrency Fraudster Pleads Guilty to Securities Fraud and Money Laundering Charges in Multi-Million Dollar Investment Scheme: ‘Roger Nils-Jonas Karlsson, 47, and his company, Eastern Metal Securities (EMS), was charged in a criminal complaint filed March 4, 2019, with crimes involving a scheme to defraud victims of more than $16 million. Karlsson, also known by several aliases including Steve Heyden, Euclid Deodoris, Joshua Millard, Lars Georgsson, Paramon Larasoft, and Kenth Westerberg, was arrested on June 17, 2019, in Thailand and was extradited to the United States to face the charges. A federal grand jury indicted Karlsson and EMS on July 25, 2019. Karlsson pleaded guilty to all the charges pending against him. EMS has ceased to exist’
During the proceedings, Karlsson admitted that he used the website to invite potential investors to purchase shares of the plan for less than $100 per share, promising an eventual payout of 1.15 kilograms of gold per share, an amount of gold which as of Jan. 2, 2019, was worth more than $45,000. Karlsson advised investors that, in the unlikely event that the gold payout did not happen, he guaranteed to them 97% of the amount they invested. Karlsson admitted he had no way to pay off the investors. Instead, the funds provided by victims were transferred to Karlsson’s personal bank accounts and he then used proceeds to purchase expensive homes and a resort in Thailand.
As the government has alleged, Karlsson also used a second website, www.hci25.com, to make multiple false communications to potential investors. Karlsson brought the investors in HCI25 together with the investors in the “Pre Funded Reversed Pension Plan” (PFRPP) and posted multiple communications to delay the moment investors would realize there would be no payout. For example, on one occasion, Karlsson explained that a payout had not occurred because releasing so much money all at once could cause a negative effect on financial systems throughout the world. Karlsson also falsely represented that EMS was working with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to prepare the way for a payout.
Karlsson directed his victims to make investments using virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin. Karlsson admitted he defrauded no less than 3,575 victims of more than $16 million.
Karlsson faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine for the wire fraud and securities fraud charges, and 20 years in prison and a $500,000 maximum fine for the money laundering charge. In addition, the court also may order an additional term of supervised release, fines or other assessments, and restitution, if appropriate. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds of the Northern District of California; and Special Agent in Charge Kelly R. Jackson of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Washington, D.C. Field Office made the announcement.
Trial Attorney Catherine Alden Pelker of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney William Frentzen are prosecuting this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Beausey of the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the forfeiture proceedings.
IRS-CI Washington, D.C. Cyber Crimes Unit investigated the case. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, the FBI Legal Attaché Office in Thailand, the IRS-CI Attaché Office in Hong Kong and the Royal Thai Police Crime Suppression Division provided significant assistance.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.05: The Station Lake Worth Inlet rescue crew determined the vessel was overloaded and not in danger of sinking. There were no reported medical concerns:
‘Coast Guard interdicts 25 migrants off West Palm Beach: Cutter William Flores arrived on scene and embarked 25 Haitian nationals: nine adult males, nine adult females, and seven accompanied minors for repatriation to Haiti’
U.S. Coast Guard sent this bulletin at 03/05/2021 08:07 AM ESTNews Release
Coast Guard interdicts 25 migrants off West Palm Beach
Editor’s Note: Click here for audio of the MAYDAY call. Click on images to download high-resolution version.
“Thankfully the people aboard this vessel had a VHF radio in order to call for help, but there wasn’t any other lifesaving equipment on board,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Jason Reynolds, command duty officer, Sector Miami. “The risk of loss of life is too great to take to the seas in overloaded, unseaworthy vessels and no lifesaving gear.”
Since Oct. 1, 2020, Coast Guard crews have interdicted 181 Haitians compared to fiscal year 2020, Oct. 1, 2019 – Sept. 30, 2020, where crews interdicted 418 Haitians.
Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention. Throughout the interdiction, Coast Guard crew members were equipped with personal protective equipment to minimize potential exposure to any possible case of COVID-19. There were no migrants in these cases reported to have any COVID-19 related symptoms.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.05: Schemes that use links embedded in unsolicited text messages and emails in attempts to obtain personally identifiable information are commonly referred to as phishing schemes. Phishing messages may look like they come from government agencies, financial intuitions, shipping companies, and social media companies, among many others. Carefully examine any message purporting to be from a company and do not click on a link in an unsolicited email or text message. Remember that companies generally do not contact you to ask for your username or password. When in doubt, contact the entity purportedly sending you the message, but do not rely on any contact information in the potentially fraudulent message.
Justice Department Warns About Fake Unemployment Benefit Websites: ‘To lure consumers to these fake websites, fraudsters send spam text messages and emails purporting to be from an SWA and containing a link: The fake websites are designed to trick consumers into thinking they are applying for unemployment benefits and disclosing personally identifiable information and other sensitive data: That information can then be used by fraudsters to commit identity theft’ Unless from a known and verified source, consumers should never click on links in text messages or emails claiming to be from an SWA offering the opportunity to apply for unemployment insurance benefits’
If you receive a text message or email claiming to be from an SWA and containing a link or other contact information, please report the communication to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by calling 866-720-5721 or using the NCDF Web Complaint Form found at: www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud.
If you believe you may have entered information into a fraudulent website, resources on how to protect your information can be found at: www.identitytheft.gov.
This alert is provided by the Justice Department’s National Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force (NUIFTF) and the Consumer Protection Branch of the department’s Civil Division. Members of NUIFTF include: Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, U.S. Secret Service, Homeland Security Investigations, IRS-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, and FDIC Office of Inspector General.
#AceNewsReport- Mar.05: According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Christopher Sueiro, 39, of Fairfax, used a peer-to-peer network to download images of child sexual abuse:
‘Man Convicted of Receiving, Soliciting, and Promoting Child Pornography: Sueiro was convicted of four counts: receipt; attempted receipt; possession; and solicitation of child pornography. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 16, 2021, and faces a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine the sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors he was also a member of a Darknet hidden service website dedicated to trafficking in child sexual abuse material of preteen boys, where he made posts promoting and soliciting images and videos of child sexual abuse and attempted to receive it from other users of the website.
Sueiro’s electronic devices included documents describing graphic sexual abuse of children and a guide to how to find child pornography online. He downloaded images and videos of child sexual abuse repeatedly over the course of at least four years, amassing thousands of images and videos.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh for the Eastern District of Virginia; Special Agent in Charge Raymond Villanueva of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C.; and Colonel Erin Schaible, Chief of the City of Fairfax Police Department made the announcement.
HSI and the City of Fairfax Police Department investigated the case, with significant assistance from the High Technology Investigative Unit (HTIU) of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS).
CEOS Trial Attorney James E. Burke IV and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathaniel Smith III of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
#AceFinanceReport: Mar.05: Earlier on Wednesday l presented the Budget to the House of Commons: And I’m speaking to you now, directly, to explain what this Budget means for our economy and for you at home.
Full Budget 2021: ‘ What you need to know: Measures announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Budget on March 03:2021 in the House of Commons and what you need to know’
An extra £1.65 billion cash injection to ensure the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out in England continues to be a success.
£28 million to increase the UK’s capacity for vaccine testing, support for clinical trials and improve the UK’s ability to rapidly acquire samples of new variants of COVID-19.
£22 million for a world-leading study to test the effectiveness of combinations of different Covid-19 vaccines. This will also fund the world’s first study assessing the effectiveness of a third dose of vaccine to improve the response against current and future variants of COVID-19.
A further £5 million on top of a previous £9 million investment in clinical-scale mRNA manufacturing, to create a ‘library’ of vaccines that will work against Covid-19 variants for possible rapid response deployment.
Extending £500 Test and Trace support payments in England until the summer.
2. Protecting jobs and livelihoods
An extension of the Coronavirus Job Support Scheme to September 2021 across the UK.
An extension of the UK-wide Self Employment Income Support scheme to September 2021, with 600,000 more people who filed a tax return in 2019-20 now able to claim for the first time.
An extension to the temporary cut in Stamp Duty Land Tax in England and Northern Ireland until September will support the housing market and protect and create jobs.
A new mortgage guarantee scheme will enable all UK homebuyers secure a mortgage up to £600,000 with a 5% deposit.
£5 billion for new Restart Grants – a one off cash grant of up to £18,000 for hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym businesses in England.
A new UK-wide Recovery Loan Scheme to make available loans between £25,001 and £10 million, and asset and invoice finance between £1,000 and £10 million, to help businesses of all sizes through the next stage of recovery.
Extension of the Film & TV Production Restart scheme in the UK, with an additional £300 million to support theatres, museums and other cultural organisations in England through the Culture Recovery Fund.
Six-month extension of the £20 per week Universal Credit uplift in Great Britain, with the Northern Ireland Executive receiving additional funding to match the increase. A one-off payment of £500 to eligible Working Tax Credit claimants across the UK.
Extension to the VAT cut to 5% for hospitality, accommodation and attractions across the UK until the end of September, followed by a 12.5% rate for a further six months until 31 March 2022.
750,000 eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will benefit from business rates relief.
Extension of the apprenticeship hiring incentive in England to September 2021 and an increase of payment to £3,000.
£7 million for a new “flexi-job” apprenticeship programme in England, that will enable apprentices to work with a number of employers in one sector.
Additional £126 million for 40,000 more traineeships in England, funding high quality work placements and training for 16-24 year olds in 2021/22 academic year.
More than doubling the legal limit for single contactless payments, from £45 to £100
£10 million to support veterans with mental health needs across the UK.
£19 million to tackle domestic abuse in England and Wales, with funding for a network of ‘Respite Rooms’ to support homeless women and a programme to prevent reoffending.
£90 million funding to support our government-sponsored national museums in England due to the financial impact of Covid-19.
£300 million for major spectator sports, supporting clubs and governing bodies in England as fans begin to return to stadia.
Small and medium-sized employers in the UK will continue to be able to reclaim up to two weeks of eligible Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) costs per employee from the Government.
To further support the cashflow of businesses, the government is extending the loss carry back rules worth up to £760,000 per company.
£100 million for a new Taxpayer Protection Taskforce to crack-down on COVID fraudsters who have exploited UK Government support schemes.
3. Strengthening the public finances
Maintaining the income tax Personal Allowance and higher rate threshold from April 2022 until April 2026.
To balance the need to raise revenue with the objective of having an internationally competitive tax system, the rate of Corporation Tax will increase to 25%, which will remain the lowest rate in the G7. In order to support the recovery, the increase will not take effect until 2023. Businesses with profits of £50,000 or less, around 70% of actively trading companies, will continue to be taxed at 19% and a taper above £50,000 will be introduced so that only businesses with profits greater than £250,000 will be taxed at the full 25% rate.
Maintaining inheritance tax thresholds at their current levels until April 2026.
Fuel duty will be frozen for the 11th consecutive year.
Alcohol duties will be frozen across the board for the second year running saving drinkers £1.7 billion.
Capping the amount of SME payable R&D tax credit that a business can receive in any one year at £20,000 (plus three times the company’s total PAYE and NICs liability).
Maintaining the Lifetime Allowance at its current level of £1,073,100 until April 2026.
The adult ISA annual subscription limit for 2021-22 will remain unchanged at £20,000.
4. An investment-led recovery
Beginning April 2021, the new super-deduction will cut companies’ tax bill by 25p for every pound they invest in new equipment. This is worth around £25 billion to UK companies over the two-year period the super-deduction will be in full effect.
Eight new English Freeports will be based in East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe & Harwich, Humber, Liverpool City Region, Plymouth, Solent, Thames and Teesside.
The £375 million UK-wide ‘Future Fund: Breakthrough’ will invest in highly innovative companies such as those working in life sciences, quantum computing, or clean tech, that are aiming to raise at least £20 million of funding.
Reforms to the immigration system will help ambitious UK businesses attract the brightest and best international talent.
A new Help to Grow scheme to offer up to 130,000 companies across the UK a digital and management boost.
£2.8 million to support a UK and Ireland bid to host the 2030 World Cup and £25 million investment in UK grassroots sports, enough for around 700 new pitches.
Launching a review of Research & Development tax reliefs to make sure the UK remains a competitive location for cutting-edge research.
£20 million to fund a UK-wide competition to develop floating offshore wind demonstrators and help support the government’s aim to generate enough electricity from offshore wind to power every home by 2030.
£68 million to fund a UK-wide competition to deliver first-of-a-kind long-duration energy storage prototypes that will reduce the cost of net zero by storing excess low carbon energy over longer periods.
£4 million for a biomass feedstocks programme in the UK to identify ways to increase the production of green energy crops and forest products that can be used for energy.
Publication of the the government’s ‘Build Back Better: our plan for growth’.
Over £1 billion funding for a further 45 towns in England through the Towns Fund, supporting their long-term economic and social regeneration as well as their immediate recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.
£135 million to progress A66 Trans-Pennine upgrade.
£28 million to fund the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in 2022, delivering a major celebration for the UK.
Plans for at least £15 billion of green gilt issuance in the coming financial year, to help finance critical projects to tackle climate change and other environmental challenges, fund important infrastructure investment, and create green jobs across the UK.
£150 million Community Ownership Fund will allow communities across the UK to invest to protect the assets that matter most to them such as pubs, theatres, shops, or local sports clubs.
£18.8 million to transform local cultural projects in Hartlepool, Carlisle, Wakefield and Yeovil.
Publication of the prospectus for the £4.8 billion UK-wide Levelling Up Fund, providing guidance for local areas on how to submit bids for the first round of funding starting in 21-22.
5. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Individuals and businesses in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland continue to be supported by the UK Government through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, self-employment grants, loan schemes and VAT cuts. Devolved administrations have received Barnett funding to provide support in areas of devolved responsibility.
The Budget confirms an additional £2.4 billion for the devolved administrations for 2021-22 through the Barnett formula. This is an additional £1.2 billion for the Scottish Government, £740 million for the Welsh Government, £410 million for the Northern Ireland Executive.
The devolved administrations will also receive £1.4 billion of funding in 2021-22 outside the Barnett formula.
£27 million in the Aberdeen Energy Transition Zone and £5 million in the Global Underwater Hub in Scotland, the first stage in delivering the North Sea Transition Deal.
Three Growth Deals in Scotland – Ayrshire, Argyll & Bute, and Falkirk – will receive funding more quickly.
£4.8 million to support the development of a demonstration hydrogen hub in Holyhead, Anglesey.
Up to £30 million for the Global Centre for Rail Excellence in Wales.
Three City and Growth Deals – in North-Wales, Mid-Wales and Swansea Bay – will receive funding more quickly.
Northern Ireland will benefit from the Corporation Tax exemption for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Northern Ireland’s biggest landlord.
Almost half of the £400 million New Deal for Northern Ireland funding has been allocated, subject to business cases, to: new systems for supermarkets and small traders to manage new trading arrangements; building greater resilience in medicine supply chains; promoting Northern Ireland’s goods and services overseas; and supporting skills development.
£5 million to extend the Tackling Paramilitary Programme in 2021-22.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.05: This case is part of a larger investigation into the AC, Operation Noble Virtue, that has targeted AC leadership and resulted in prosecutions and convictions in six different jurisdictions to date. According to information presented in court and contained in court filings, the AC is a violent, white supremacist organization that originated in the Texas Department of Corrections and operates in federal prisons across the country, as well as outside prisons in states including Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Missouri. The AC enforces its rules and promotes discipline among its members, prospects, and associates through murder, attempted murder, assault, and threats. Members, and oftentimes associates, are required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members without question.
‘White Supremacists Plead Guilty to Violent Crime in Aid of Racketeering: Michael Martin, aka Aryan Prodigy, aka AP, 38, of Austin, Texas, and Bobby Dayle Boney, 50, of Sulphur Springs, Texas, each pleaded guilty to assault resulting in serious bodily injury in aid of racketeering. Martin and Boney committed the assault as part of their membership in the AC, a gang that operates in Texas and other states throughout the country’
Martin and Boney both joined the AC in the early 2000s and have gang tattoos indicating their affiliation. Both served in leadership roles within the gang. For a period of time, Martin served as an upper board member, which meant that he was one of the five highest-ranking leaders in the gang. Also, for a period of time, Boney held the leadership rank of vice president, which meant that he gave orders to other AC members and disciplined members who were not following the gang’s directives, among other things.
Prior to October 2016, AC members learned that another member wanted to switch his gang affiliation, or “patch over,” from the AC to a different gang. Martin ordered AC members to attack the former member in order to “X” him, or remove him from the gang, because it violated the AC’s rules to join another organization. AC members, including Martin and Boney, held a “church,” or meeting, at an AC member’s home in the Tyler, Texas, area where they planned the logistics of the assault.
On Oct. 2, 2016, Martin, Boney, and other AC members met at a park near Tyler to carry out the assault. On Martin’s order, Boney and another AC member violently beat the victim, including kicking the victim in the head while he was on the ground. This attack resulted in the victim seeking medical care.
Martin and Boney will be sentenced at a date to be determined.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei for the Eastern District of Texas made the announcement.
This case is part of a larger investigation into the Aryan Circle by an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) consisting of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Drug Enforcement Administration; Federal Bureau of Prisons; Texas Department of Public Safety; Houston Police Department-Gang Division; Montgomery County (TX) Precinct One Constable’s Office; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; Texas Department of Criminal Justice; New Jersey Department of Corrections-Special Investigations Division; Indiana State Police; Fort Smith (AR) Police Department; Arkansas Department of Corrections; Arnold (MO) Police Department; Jefferson County (MO) Sheriff’s Department; St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department; St. Louis County (MO) Police Department; Indiana Department of Corrections; Carrollton (TX) Police Department; Montgomery County (TX) Sheriff’s Office; Travis County (TX) Sheriff’s Office; Tarrant County (TX) Sheriff’s Office; Evangeline Parish (LA) Sheriff’s Office; Smith County (TX) Sheriff’s Office; McCurtain County (OK) Sheriff’s Office; Montgomery County (TX) District Attorney’s Office; Liberty County (TX) District Attorney’s Office; Harris County (TX) District Attorney’s Office; Mercer County (NJ) District Attorney’s Office; Evangeline Parish (LA) District Attorney’s Office; and the Sebastian County (AR) District Attorney’s Office.
Trial Attorney Bethany Lipman of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Rapp of the Eastern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.05: Twenty people were arrested this morning at addresses in Birmingham, Reading, Blackburn, Sunderland and London as part of an eight-month long investigation led by Thames Valley Police into the supply of drugs, fraud, money laundering and modern slavery offences.
NCA officers involved in dismantling Western Balkan crime group with one of the suspected heads of the group – a 36-year old man – was arrested by NCA officers at an address on Pershore Road in Birmingham on suspicion of conspiracy to produce and supply class B drugs.
The NCA also led raids on locations in the north west, north east and London. Two arrests were made by NCA officers in Sunderland, where two working cannabis factories were found.
A further cannabis factory was discovered at an address in Southgate, North London, where two Albanian nationals were arrested, and another arrest was also made at a location in Blackburn, where investigators found a premises they think had previously been used for cannabis production.
Specialist NCA officers – including dog handlers and forensic officers – have worked alongside colleagues from the South Eastern Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) and Thames Valley Police as part of the investigation.
Deputy Director Andrea Wilson from the NCA said: “ Today’s activity highlights just how seriously we are taking the threat from Western Balkan organised crime groups. They are involved in various forms of serious and organised criminality, including the trafficking and supply of class A drugs, organised immigration crime and corruption:
“Identifying and targeting these high harm networks requires a whole-system law enforcement approach, and anyone involved in widespread organised crime should take notice that the NCA and partners will do all we can to disrupt their activity and ensure they face justice”.
Detective Inspector Natalie Hall, of the Thames Valley Police Serious Organised Crime Unit, said: “ Thames Valley Police officers have been supported by the NCA, SEROCU and the Home Office this morning in order to carry out these warrants: “ This partnership working is vital in identifying and disrupting the most harmful individuals and organised crime groups in order to protect our communities: “ Investigating this type of criminality can be complex and time-consuming and this particular operation has been a culmination of months of hard work by officers. Therefore, I am pleased that we have been able to carry out these warrants and make a number of arrests: “ Further, I hope that this serves as a warning to those in the community who are involved in the supply and distribution of drugs as well as the exploitation of people, that we know who you are, where you are and we are committed to bringing you to justice.
“If anyone has any information or suspicions about drug supply in their area, please make a report to Thames Valley Police by calling 101 or online.
“Alternatively, if you would prefer to remain anonymous you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online too.”
#AceNewsReport – Mar.05: Border Force officers recovered 81 kilos of cocaine and three kilos of heroin, which would have had a street level value of £6.7 million:
‘Corrupt truckers jailed for attempting to bring cocaine and heroin into the UK through Channel port following ‘The National Crime Agency’ began an investigation into Slovenian national Adam Grzelj, 52, in April 2020 after his lorry was intercepted at Dover’ and the packages of drugs were found concealed in pallets beneath boxes of frozen pizza’
02 March 2021
NCA investigators brought the case to court and at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday 26 February he was found guilty of importing class A drugs. He was jailed for 15 years: The second driver Kiril Petkov Hubavenski, a 34-year-old from Vidrare in Bulgaria, was detained at Dover on 20 June last year: Officers found 11 kilos heroin and 26 kilos cocaine hidden beneath the mattresses of the bunks in his cab. NCA forensic experts valued the haul at £3.2 million: Hubavenski, who had recently been released from prison in Bulgaria after being convicted of unlawful killing in 2014, was found guilty of drug smuggling yesterday (1 March) and was jailed for 16 years:
NCA Dover branch operations manager Debbie Cook said: “ Organised criminal gangs rely on corrupt drivers like these to bring their illicit commodities into the UK: “ They form a vital role in the criminal supply chain that sees violence and exploitation at every step – linking the cartels in South America to the street gangs here in the UK: “ These men have received substantial and life-changing jail terms for that. I hope it sends out a message to other hauliers who might consider doing the same: “ Working with partners like Border Force we are determined to do all we can to track down and convict anyone who would try to breach our border controls in this way.”
#AceNewsReport – Mar.04: Robert Driver, 54, of Bloomfield Avenue, Wallsend, pleaded guilty to one charge of assault of a child by penetration and three charges of rape at Newcastle Crown Court on 20 November 2020:
‘Rapist jailed for eight-year campaign of abuse and three charges of rape – two of these charges accounted for over 100 separate rapes between them and he has been sentenced to 17 years and 2 months in prison and given a sexual harm prevention order for life’
19 February 2021:
Debbie Breen is a District Crown Prosecutor in the rape and serious sexual offences team in CPS North East said: “Robert Driver preyed on a vulnerable girl, grooming her from an early age before subjecting her to a lengthy campaign of sexual abuse: “ The effect of Driver’s actions on his victim has been significant and she is understandably deeply traumatised by his abuse: “ The CPS worked closely with Northumbria Police to build a robust case against Robert Driver, leaving him little option but to plead guilty to charges reflecting the scale of his offending: “ Our specialist team is committed to tackling rape and serious sexual violence offences like this and will continue to do so wherever the legal test is met.”
More information on how prosecutors and Police join forces in the North East to reduce delays in charging decisions for victims of rape and serious sexual offences can be found here
#AceNewsReport – Mar.04: The villagers had found that people were frequently falling ill and dying during the past few months. The villagers then consulted one Mathura Topno, a priest and healer who resides in the same village: On February 23, at the gram sabha, Mathura Topno gave the names of the family members, saying they were the source of “evil”.
Jharkhand: ‘Five members of a family, including a five-year-old child axed to death by villagers over ‘black magic’ suspicions: In a barbaric incident, five members of a family, including a five-year-old kid was axed to death by their relatives on suspicion of practising black magic, reports Times of India’
According to the reports, the incident occurred on Tuesday night at Kuruhatu-Amtoli under Kamdara Police Station in Gumla, Jharkhand. However, the incident came to light only on Friday. The investigation into the matter is being conducted by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).
4 March, 2021Toys of the killed 5-year kid lying in the ground (Photo courtesy- Times of India)
On the next day, a villager found the dead body of 55-year-old Josephina Topno outside her mud house: Inside the house, the dead body of her husband, Nikodim was lying on a cot. In the next room, three more bodies of her 35-year-old son Vincent, their daughter-in-law Silvanti, 30, and five-year-old grandson Albin were found:
Reportedly, the family had been hacked to death with axes at night after the Mathura Topno had given the names. “It was all done in 3 minutes,” said Salim Topno, an accused in the case:
Villagers consumed alcohol, killed the family on suspicion of carrying witchcraft, says police
Gumla SP Hrudeep P Janardhanan said, “After examining the evidence closely and considering all aspects, it was revealed to be a case of witch-hunting. During investigations, it was also found that after a few instances of death and sickness, the villagers concluded that it was a repercussion of witchcraft being practised by the couple”
The police officer said that villagers had organised a meeting at a football ground on Tuesday morning, where they decided to kill the family as they thought they were the only reason behind the people’s sufferings: He added that eight villagers assembled near the house of the victims on Tuesday night after consuming alcohol and killed Nikodine and his wife Josephina to death with sharp objects. After that, they killed the rest of the family to remove the eyewitnesses:
Speaking to TOI, Birendra Surin, Mukhiapati of Sarita panchayat, under which the village lies, said, “The villagers believed Sarna (the presiding animist deity) had been angered”. Another man said claimed, “We knew some action would be taken. But we didn’t know they would be killed”
Most families in the village practise animism, seven follow Christianity, while some families follow Hinduism. The 30-year-old nephew of the deceased Amrit Topno is also one of the accused in the case. Amrit is among eight who have been arrested so far.
Along with him, Soma (25), Sunil (30), Philip (55), Phirangi (45), Sawan (34), Daniel (40) and Salim (25) have been arrested. An accused – Salim was arrested seven years back for killing two women by branding them as witches. He had tied their bodies to a bike, dragged them to the railway tracks and had left the corpses there. The arrested persons have confessed to the crime, and the weapons used in the crime also have been recovered:
A total of 13 FIRs have been filed under relevant sections of IPC at Kamdara Police Station: The police are identifying others involved in the crime, the SP said. Apart from Daniel and Philip, all the other accused are distant relatives of one another: They have all been charged with murder, rioting, unlawful assembly and criminal conspiracy:
#AceFinanceReport – Mar.04: The U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network — known in shorthand as FinCEN — is underfunded and overstretched in its role as a leading player in the global effort to catch money launderers and other sophisticated financial criminals who use shell companies, cryptocurrencies and other tools to hide their activities, the nonprofit anti-corruption group Global Financial Integrity says:
‘Major reforms needed at ‘struggling’ US agency that leads dirty money fight, report says to keep from falling further behind in the battle against criminal money and terrorism financing, the United States must remake the federal agency at the center of the fight, according to a new report that draws on the views of top anti-money laundering experts’
By Michael Hudson and Ben HallmanMarch 1, 2021The U.S. Treasury building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021.
“It is an agency that is struggling … to meet the nation’s emerging money laundering challenges of the coming decade and beyond,” the report says. But it adds that the U.S. government “should not see these realities as acceptable and impervious to change.”
The report urges the government to boost FinCEN’s funding and to embrace fundamental changes in how the agency operates. It proposes, for example, that FinCEN launch a “Manhattan Project” to develop new ways to use data and cutting-edge technology to fight financial crime.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has estimated that authorities detect less than 1% of the world’s dirty money. The Global Financial Integrity report released Monday notes that that estimate is a decade old, but says “there is little evidence to suggest” that the effectiveness of anti-money laundering efforts have substantially improved since then.
FinCEN is well-positioned to crack down on criminal money flows, because American law requires banks and other financial firms with operations in the U.S. to file “suspicious activity reports” whenever they spot transactions that have the hallmarks of illicit activity.
But the agency receives more than 2 million of these alerts each year. That number has zoomed upward over the past decade and FinCEN’s staffing, budgets and technology have failed to keep pace. Many suspicious activity reports simply go uninvestigated or even unread.
At FinCEN, the Global Financial Integrity report says, “innovation is limited and morale is poor.” The report adds that there is “general frustration” among anti-money laundering experts that “the agency’s approach has changed little over the years to the detriment of its ability to fight money laundering or to bolster national security.”
Reinventing FinCEN for 2021 and beyond
Tom Cardamone, the anti-corruption group’s chief executive, said in an interview with ICIJ that there is consensus among policy makers that money laundering is a key national security issue. This includes President Joe Biden. As a candidate last spring, Biden promised he would “lead efforts internationally to bring transparency to the global financial system, go after illicit tax havens, seize stolen assets, and make it more difficult for leaders who steal from their people to hide behind anonymous front companies.”
Cardamone’s organization brought together 19 anti-money laundering experts from government, the financial industry and academia in late 2020 to discuss ideas for transforming FinCEN and generally bolstering U.S. efforts to combat money laundering.
The resulting report recommends half a dozen strategic changes, including a “Manhattan Project” to reinvent FinCEN’s use of technology. A public-private partnership that draws on “some of the best minds in the country” should power this effort, which would include setting up a new data center so that the agency can “keep pace with quickly-evolving money laundering techniques,” the report says.
The group also urges the government to give FinCEN’s director a seat on the National Security Council’s deputies committee and create a “strategic analysis team” within FinCEN that would “examine emerging and long-term trends in money laundering methods and computer technologies to counter those threats.”
The report calls for “significantly more funding” and an expanded workforce to better prepare FinCEN “for a new generation of threats.” It notes that since 2015, despite a consistently growing workload, the agency’s budget increased by just 3% in inflation-adjusted dollars.
Cardamone said the report “is not meant to be a cudgel to beat up on FinCEN.” Instead, he said, it’s a call to action to push for better resources and better strategies that will help FinCEN, law enforcement agencies and banks step up efforts to staunch the flow of dirty money around the world.
In September — after BuzzFeed, ICIJ and other media partners informed U.S. Treasury officials of the FinCEN Files investigation’s findings — FinCEN announced it was seeking recommendations on new regulations that would help the agency “address the evolving threats of illicit finance.”
In December Congress passed the Corporate Transparency Act, which requires many U.S. companies to report their true owners to FinCEN, with the aim of discouraging the abuse of anonymous shell companies. The legislation also provided for a modest $10 million bump in FinCEN’s annual budget allocation, which was $126 million in the budget year ending September 2020.
The panel of experts who informed Global Financial Integrity’s report didn’t take a position on what FinCEN’s budget should be, but did agree that its current funding level is “far too low to provide the staff, skills and technologies needed for today’s challenges let alone those of the 2030s.”
#AceSecurityReport- Mar.04: A snapshot of the 2020 mobile threat landscape reveals major shifts toward adware and threats to online banks:
‘Mobile Adware Booms, Online Banks Become Prime Target for Attacks: Over the past 12 months, incidents of adware nearly tripled. And, overall in 2020 researchers saw a slight drop in the number of mobile cyberattacks, according to a report released Monday by Kaspersky’
In its’ Mobile Malware Evolution 2020, Kaspersky documents the current mobile threat landscape and identifies 2021 mobile security trends. It found that while mobile threats have dipped slightly over the past year, criminals have focused on the quality of mobile attacks versus mass infections.
“We saw a decrease in the number of attacks in the first half of the year, which can be attributed to the confusion of the first months of the pandemic,” wrote Victor Chebyshev, a mobile security researcher at Kaspersky and author of the report. “The attackers had other things to worry about [and] were back at it in the second half.”
What Are the Biggest Mobile Threats?
Leading mobile threat types in 2020 is adware, accounting for 57 percent of attacks. Risk tools came in second, representing 21 percent of attacks. Trojan droppers and mobile trojans each represented 4.5 percent of attacks and SMS-based trojans represented 4 percent of actual mobile criminal activity.
Risk tools, as Kaspersky calls them, are potentially dangerous or unwanted programs that are not inherently malicious, but are used to hide files or terminate applications and could be used with malicious intent.
Each of aforementioned threats, save adware, saw steep declines in attack occurrences. Compared to 2019, adware attacks against mobile users grew from representing 22 percent of attacks to 57 percent of all types of mobile threats.
The Most Popular Adware in 2020?
Leading adware families included Ewind (representing 65 percent of adware samples found) followed by FakeAdBlocker (representing 15 percent of samples) and trailed by HiddenAd (accounting for 10 percent of samples).
How did Ewind Adware Becomes to Potent?
Researchers credit the success of Ewind with the nearly 2 million Ewind.kp Android installer packages bundled successfully within legitimate applications, such as icons and resource files. These seemingly innocuous downloads, Chebyshev wrote, are readily available at seemingly trustworthy third-part Android application download sites.
What Mobile Malware Did Apple’s iOS Face?
Unlike Android handsets, Apple’s closed hardware and software ecosystem posed unique challenges for criminals, however it didn’t deter them completely.
Topping threats to Apple’s smattering of mobile devices – including its iPhone and iPad lines – are drive-by downloads abusing the company’s Safari browser rendering engine called WebKit, Kaspersky said.
“The payload was the LightSpy trojan whose objective was to extract personal information from a mobile device, including correspondence from instant messaging apps and browser data, take screenshots, and compile a list of nearby Wi-Fi networks,” he wrote.
The iOS malware LightSpy has a modular design. “One of the modules discovered was a network scanner that collected information about nearby devices including their MAC addresses and manufacturer names. TrendMicro said LightSpy distribution took advantage of news portals, such as COVID-19 update sites,” according to the report.
What’s the Most Common Android Trojans in 2020?
Popular malware families targeting the Android operating system in 2020 were banking trojans GINP, Cebruser, Ghimob and Cookiethief.
“The trojan Ghimob was one of 2020’s most exciting discoveries,” according to the Kaspersky report. “It stole credentials for various financial systems including online banking applications and cryptocurrency wallets in Brazil.”
The trojan was rudimentary, but effective, and abused the Android Accessibility feature with a common mobile overlay scheme.
“Whenever the user tried to access the Ghimob removal menu, the trojan immediately opened the home screen to protect itself from being uninstalled,” according to the report.
As for Cookiethief malware, researchers said the trojan targeted mobile cookies, which store unique identifiers of web sessions and hence can be used for authorization. “For example, an attacker could log in to a victim’s Facebook account and post a phishing link or spread spam. Typically, cookies on a mobile device are stored in a secure location and are inaccessible to applications, even malicious ones. To circumvent the restriction, Cookiethief tried to get root privileges on the device with the help of an exploit, before it began its malicious activities,” the researcher wrote.
There was Significant Growth in Mobile Financial Threats in 2020.
“We detected 156,710 installation packages for mobile banking Trojans in 2020, which is twice the previous year’s figure and comparable to 2018,” Kaspersky wrote.
Top banking Trojans were Agent (72 percent of infections) followed by a long list of banking Trojans representing single-digit infections including Wroba, Rotexy and Anubis.
Interest in targeting financial institutions is tied to the pandemic, researchers said. “The inability to visit a bank branch forced customers to switch to mobile and online banking, and banks, to consider stepping up the development of those services,” they wrote.
On the Bright Side: Incidents of Mobile Ransomware Plummet
“Overall, the decrease in ransomware can be associated with the assumption that attackers have been converting from ransomware to bankers or combining the features of the two. Current versions of Android prevent applications from locking the screen, so even successful ransomware infection is useless,” researchers noted.
How Do Adware and Malware Criminal Gangs Work Together?
It is unclear how new the trend is, but the Kaspersky report offered insights into the seldom-described symbiotic relationship between adware pushers and those behind malware infections.
“Adware creators are interested in obstructing the removal of their products from a mobile device. They typically work with malware developers to achieve this. An example of a partnership like that is the use of various trojan botnets: we saw a number of these cases in 2020,” the report stated.
The mutually beneficial relationship starts with bots infecting mobile devices.
“As soon as the owners of the botnet and their [criminal] customers come to an agreement, the bot receives a command to download, install and run a payload, in this case, adware. If the victim is annoyed by the unsolicited advertising and removes the source, the bot will simply repeat the steps,” the report outlines.
Those infections can sometime also lead to “elevate access privileges on the device, placing adware in the system area and making the user unable to remove them without outside help,” they said.
How Android Gear Comes Pre-Installed with Malware?
Another example of the partnership between less-than-savory actors is a scheme called “preinstalls”. This is when the phone’s maker preloads an adware application or a component with the firmware.
“As a result, the device hits the shelves already infected. This is not a supply chain attack, but a premeditated step on the part of the manufacturer for which it receives extra profits,” Kaspersky explains.
Researchers explain this is a particularly difficult, if not impossible, infection to inoculate.
“[N]o security solution is yet capable of reading an OS system partition to check if the device is infected. Even if detection is successful, the user is left alone with the threat, without a possibility of removing the malware quickly or easily, as Android system partitions are write protected. This vector of spreading persistent threats is likely to become increasingly popular in the absence of new effective exploits for popular Android versions,” it said.Write a comment
#AceNewsReport – Mar.04: The metric we pay the most attention to is the hours contributed back to the mission. Our highly skilled workforce can use their talents in more strategic, value-added activities and address more complex work they will now have the time to complete,” said Frank Wood, RPA program manager:
Pentagon’s Logistics Agency Utilizes Software Bots to Improve Accuracy, Efficiency as the Defence Logistics Agency is improving accuracy, cycle time and productivity in supply chain management practices through robotic process automation, which uses software bots to execute tasks and interact with systems.
Since 2018, DLA has incorporated bots into 109 processes with 86 needing no human interaction. RPA bots support DLA acquisition’s post award requests process by identifying COVID-19 PARs, collecting supplier notes and comments, and reporting them to contracting officials for review and subsequent action. Bots are also used to redact sensitive information from Freedom of Information Office requests and in inventory management:
Another bot is used by DLA information operations’ equipment management solutions team as it processes lease and purchase requests for more than 53,000 devices like printers and scanners used by DLA employees and military and federal customers. Errors such as lack of funding and contractual issues are often reflected during monthly billing transactions, resulting in missing bills that must be corrected by EMS billing staff, said Terra Nguyen, EMS division chief.
“Our personnel will research any missing billing that occurs due to errors on the debit memo report, which generates sales orders for all assets in our inventory,” she continued. “Once a list of missing bills has been generated, our EMS billing personnel then have to generate a sales order for each missing bill — a long process that can be manually intensive.”
Since implementation in December 2020, the team has billed more than $1.5 million using the bot.
“Thanks to the integration of the bot, our EMS billing specialists have additional time to communicate with customers, research other billing issues and concentrate on additional work-related tasking,” Nguyen said.
RPA also makes the agency more audit-ready by reducing errors and maintaining measurable, documented processes.
“The return on investment for DLA comes not only in hours, but in readiness and accountability to the Department of Defense and taxpayers,” Wood said.
The enterprise RPA team has requests for 27 additional automations. Process or business owners wanting to integrate bots into their functional areas must first quantify potential cost, savings and workload restructuring. The data is used by DLA’s RPA steering committee, made up of leaders from across the agency, to prioritize resources and projects. New automations take about 8 weeks to implement after approval.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.04: The interdiction resulted from multi-agency efforts in support of U.S. Southern Command’s enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) programs, and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF):
‘Coast Guard transfers 3 smugglers, over $5.6 million in seized cocaine to federal agents in Puerto Rico, following interdiction near the U.S. Virgin Islands: The suspected smugglers are 3 males, one Venezuelan and two Dominican Republic nationals, who now face criminal charges by Department of Justice prosecution partners in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico’
U.S. Coast Guard sent this bulletin at 03/03/2021 09:59 AM ESTNews Release
Editor’s Note: Click on photos to download high resolution version.
Coast Guard transfers 3 smugglers, over $5.6 million in seized cocaine to federal agents in Puerto Rico, following interdiction near the U.S. Virgin Islands
“This interdiction was the result of great teamwork from beginning to end with our interagency partners.” said Lt. Peter Kelly, Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon commanding officer. “I am extremely proud of the execution of the Richard Dixon crew in what was not an easy mission, and we are pleased to have kept such a large amount of cocaine from reaching U.S. streets.”
The bust occurred during the afternoon of Feb. 23, 2021, after the aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air and Marine Branch maritime patrol aircraft detected a suspicious go-fast vessel in international waters southeast of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon diverted to interdict the go-fast vessel with the assistance of the cutter’s small boat. Following the interdiction, the Cutter Richard Dixon’s boarding team located and seized over 200 kilograms of cocaine.
The crew of the cutter Richard Dixon embarked the three men and seized contraband from the go-fast vessel, and later transferred them aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez for transport and offload in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where CCSF federal agents received custody.
Cutters Richard Dixon and Heriberto Hernandez are 154-foot fast response cutters homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) is a multi-agency Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force group operating in the District of Puerto Rico focusing on Caribbean and South American-based Transnational Criminal Organizations involved in the maritime and air smuggling shipments of narcotics from Puerto Rico to the Continental U.S. and in the laundering of drug proceeds using bulk cash smuggling and sophisticated laundering activities. CCSF signatory agencies include the DEA, HSI, FBI, CGIS, USMS, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.04: U.S. law gives big tech a free pass to provide platforms to terrorist groups and dictators,” Barr, R-Ky., told Fox News. “Social media companies should not provide a vehicle for terrorist groups like ISIS to raise money or for dictators like the Ayatollah of Iran to spread propaganda.”
‘No social media accounts for terrorists’: House GOP pushes to block sanctioned foreign leaders from platforms: The legislation, led by GOP Reps. Andy Barr, Jim Banks, and Joe Wilson, and cosponsored by 40 other members of the House Republican Study Committee, is titled the “No Social Media Accounts for Terrorists or State Sponsors of Terrorism Act of 2021.”
The social media platforms include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube
Under current U.S. sanctions law, the president of the United States does not have the authority to require social media platforms to adhere to U.S. sanctions laws on terrorists due to the International Economic Emergency Powers Act of 1976—specifically the “Berman Amendments” passed in 1988 and 1994—which prohibit the president from even indirectly regulating or prohibiting anything to do with the free flow of informational services.
Under the amendments, the president of the United States “does not include the authority to regulate or prohibit, directly or indirectly- (1) any postal, telegraphic, telephonic, or other personal communication, which does not involve a transfer of anything of value.”
The amendment also does not give the president authority to regulate or prohibit “the importation from any country, or the exportation to any country, whether commercial or otherwise, regardless of format or medium of transmission, of any information or informational materials, including but not limited to, publications, films, posters, phonograph records, photographs, microfilms, microfiche, tapes, compact disks, CD ROMs, artworks, and news wire feeds.”
The Republicans argued that the Berman Amendments were passed before the modern age of the internet and before social media existed, and said they have been used by Big Tech and others to argue that social media companies can provide services to terrorists.
Fox News exclusively obtained a copy of the new legislation, which would clarify the existing sanctions law by providing the president with authority to sanction the “provision of services,” including the provision and maintenance of accounts, by social media platforms to foreign individuals or entities sanctioned for terrorism, and senior officials of state sponsors of terrorism.
The social media platforms include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
“Economic sanctions prohibiting the provision of services to individuals and entities sanctioned for terrorism should apply to social media platforms, while still supporting the free flow of information and maintaining the important principle that information should remain free of sanctions,” the legislation states.
A congressional aide explained to Fox News that banks and U.S. insurance companies are not allowed to provide accounts to sanctioned individuals or entities, but due to the current loophole in sanctions law, social media companies are allowed to provide the accounts because it is related to information.
The aide said the legislation seeks to “require the president to implement regulation that will treat social media platforms just like the bank and insurance companies—they cannot provide a service to a sanctioned individual or entity.”
The legislation states that social media platforms “make a profit on accounts provided and maintained to individuals and entities sanctioned for terrorism through the sale of advertisements which are viewed by such sanctioned individuals through their accounts.”
But the lawmakers maintained the importance of the free flow of information, saying explicitly in the legislation that the Treasury Department “should encourage the free flow of information in Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, and other countries controlled by authoritarian regimes in order to counter such regimes’ repression of their peoples.”
The legislation also urges the Treasury Department to “ensure that consumer communications technologies, as well as tools to circumvent government censorship, are available to civil society and democratic activists in such countries.”
In the legislation, the lawmakers point to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has been a specially designated global terrorist by the Treasury Department, and “the leader of the world’s leading State Sponsor of Terrorism,” saying that Khamenei has “multiple social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram.”
“The Supreme Leader has used his accounts to threaten violence against Americans, support the destruction of the State of Israel, promote conspiracy theories and disinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines and incite anti-Semitism on a number of occasions,” the legislation states.
“The Foreign Minister of Iran, Javad Zarif, a senior official of a State Sponsor of Terrorism, has a number of social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram and other platforms,” the legislation states, noting that last month, he tweeted “an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Israel was plotting attacks on Americans in Iraq.”
“The President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, responsible for the brutal killing of half a million of his own people, and the President of a State Sponsor of Terrorism, has multiple social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram,” the bill reads. “He has used his accounts on social media to whitewash and promote his regime, and promote hatred against the United States and Israel.”
The legislation goes on to point to the President of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel, who “heads a regime responsible for multiple violations of human rights, and which is a State Sponsor of Terrorism,” and says he has “an account on Twitter representing the official Cuban Presidency,” which they claim he uses to “promote global communism, anti-Americanism, and whitewash the Cuban regime’s human rights abuses.”
“Terrorist organizations and entities sanctioned for terrorism under Executive Order 13224, including the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hezbollah, Kata’ib Hezbollah, Hamas, and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, have a number of social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube,” the legislation states.
Republican Study Committee Chair Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., said because of “outdated sanctions laws, social media platforms are able to ban President Trump and other conservatives but let the Iranian Supreme Leader and President Bashar Assad of Syria continue having accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.”
“Thanks to Rep. Barr, we have a bill that would fix this double standard and hold Big Tech accountable to the same sanctions laws other American companies are required to follow,” Banks said.
Wilson, R-S.C., another co-sponsor, said that under current law, “social media platforms can provide services to terrorists and rogue regimes sponsoring terrorism with American blood on their hands.”
“The Supreme Leader of Iran, the President of Cuba, and criminal Bashar al-Assad all have social media accounts on multiple platforms hosted by American companies,” Wilson continued. “This is unacceptable which is why I cosponsored this important conservative initiative with over 40 of my colleagues in the Republican Study Committee to hold Big Tech accountable to the same sanctions laws other companies are required to follow.”
The White House did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on the legislation.
Meanwhile, if the legislation is enacted, the congressional aide told Fox News that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act would not be a shield for social media companies.
Republicans have questioned whether social media giants should still be afforded liability protections under Section 230 — a rule that shields social media companies from being held liable for content on their platforms while allowing them to moderate that content.
“When we’re talking about sanctions, we’re talking about criminal penalties—knowing and willful violations,” the aide said. “If this was enacted, 230 would not be a shield for the activity of social media companies.”
The aide said that the protections social media companies have from the Berman Amendments “are even worse than 230.”
“They can hide behind the fact they are related to information, and are immune from any presidential policy making or regulatory policy making that would reach them in terms of sanctions law,” the aide said.
A source familiar told Fox News Twitter has examined the issue closely in consultation with outside counsel. The source told Fox News that they understand Twitter is currently in compliance with sanctions regulations.
Facebook did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. Twitter declined to comment to Fox News.
Youtube did not comment on the legislation, but according to the company, it removes content from known terrorists or terrorist organizations, and content promoting terrorism from their platform.
Social media platforms have received criticism from Republicans, and international scrutiny for permanently banning former President Trump from the platforms in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Twitter, specifically, has come under fire for removing Trump from the platform indefinitely, claiming his continued use of his account risked incitement of violence, while allowing Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to continue using Twitter, despite his threatening tweets against the U.S. and using the platform to threaten attacks against Israel.
During a Senate hearing in October, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey explained Khameni’s tweets did not “violate our terms of service because we considered them ‘saber rattling,’ which is part of the speech of world leaders in concert with other countries.”
“Speech against our own people or a country’s own citizens we believe is different and can cause more immediate harm,” Dorsey added.
Twitter last month, though, told Fox News that Khamenei’s account is not considered verified on the platform.
Twitter told Fox News that the company recognizes Khamenei as “a theocratic leader and religious figurehead” as opposed to a traditional leader of the state.
Broadly pointing to Khamenei’s account, Twitter said “no account is above the Twitter Rules.” Twitter suspended Khamenei from the platform in January, removing his tweet that claimed that the United States’ and other western nations’ coronavirus vaccines were “completely untrustworthy.”
Fox News’ Peter Hasson contributed to this report.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.04: Joseph D. Jones, 38, of Zion, Illinois, was convicted by a federal jury on one count of conspiring to provide material support and resources to ISIS in 2019. According to court documents, Jones advocated on social media for violent extremism in support of the terrorist group:
‘Suburban Chicago Man Sentenced to 12 Years in Federal Prison for Conspiring to Provide Material Support to ISIS: In 2015, Jones began meeting with undercover FBI employees and individuals who, unbeknownst to Jones, were cooperating with law enforcement: During the meetings, Jones discussed his devotion to ISIS and his commitment to ISIS principles’
In 2017: Jones furnished cellular phones to one of the cooperating individuals, believing the phones would be used to detonate explosive devices in ISIS attacks overseas. On April 7, 2017, Jones drove with the cooperating individual to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, with the understanding that the cooperating individual would be traveling to Syria to fight with ISIS:
A co-defendant, Edward Schimenti, 39, of Zion, Illinois, was also convicted of the conspiracy charge, as well as a charge of making false statements to the FBI. U.S. District Judge Andrea R. Wood set sentencing for Schimenti for April 9, 2021 at 12:30 p.m.
U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch Jr. for the Northern District of Illinois; Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the Justice Department’s National Security Division; and Special Agent-in-Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. of the FBI Chicago Field Office made the announcement.
The Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force comprised of numerous federal, state and local law enforcement agencies investigated the case.
Trial Attorney Alexandra S. Hughes of the Justice Department’s National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barry Jonas and David Rojas of the Northern District of Illinois prosecuted the case.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.04: The Drug Enforcement Administration is warning the public of a widespread fraud scheme in which telephone scammers impersonate DEA agents in an attempt to extort money or steal personal identifiable information:
DEA Warning: Scammers Impersonating DEA Agents: A new public service announcement aims to raise awareness that DEA will never phone demanding money or asking for personal information: There are variations in the false narrative, among them, that the target’s name was used to rent a vehicle which was stopped at the border and contained a large quantity of drugs:
The caller then has the target verify their social security number or tells the target their bank account has been compromised. In some cases, the caller threatens the target with arrest for the fictional drug seizure and instructs the person, over the phone, to send money via gift card or wire transfer to pay a “fine” or to assist with the investigation or with resetting the bank account. A portion of an actual scam call was captured by DEA and can be heard here.
Employing more sophisticated tactics, Schemers have spoofed legitimate DEA phone numbers to convince their target that the call is legitimate, or texted photos of what appears to be a legitimate law enforcement credential with a photo. The reported scam tactics continually change but often share many of the same characteristics. Callers use fake names and badge numbers as well as names of well-known DEA officials or police officers in local departments. Additionally, they may:
use an urgent and aggressive tone, refusing to speak to or leave a message with anyone other than their targeted victim;
threaten arrest, prosecution, imprisonment, and, in the case of medical practitioners and pharmacists, revocation of their DEA registration;
demand thousands of dollars via wire transfer or in the form of untraceable gift card numbers the victim is told to provide over the phone;
ask for personal information, such as social security number or date of birth;
reference National Provider Identifier numbers and/or state license numbers when calling a medical practitioner. They also may claim that patients are making accusations against that practitioner.
DEA personnel will never contact members of the public or medical practitioners by telephone to demand money or any other form of payment, will never request personal or sensitive information over the phone, and will only notify people of a legitimate investigation or legal action in person or by official letter. In fact, no legitimate federal law enforcement officer will demand cash or gift cards from a member of the public. You should only give money, gift cards, personally identifiable information, including bank account information, to someone you know.
The best deterrence against these bad actors is awareness and caution. Anyone receiving a call from a person claiming to be with DEA should report the incident to the FBI at www.ic3.gov. The Federal Trade Commission provides recovery steps, shares information with more than 3,000 law enforcement agencies and takes reports at reportfraud.ftc.gov. For any victims who have given personally identifiable information like a social security number to the caller, can learn how to protect against identity theft at www.identitytheft.gov.
Reporting these scam calls will help federal authorities find, arrest, and stop the criminals engaged in this fraud. Impersonating a federal agent is a violation of federal law, punishable by up to three years in prison; aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison plus fines and restitution.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.04: Moulaye Guindo, the mayor of Bankass, which is near Gorey and Simikanda, blamed the attacks on the same militants who killed eight people in attacks on a Malian military post and a gendarme base last Thursday.
‘Suspected Islamists kill nine civilians in central Mali after two different sets of assailants struck the ethnic Dogon villages of Gorey, Simikanda and Djamnati in Mali’s Mopti region, which has been ravaged in recent years by Islamist and inter-ethnic violence, the officials said according to Reuters’
Islamist groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State regularly attack Malian security forces, U.N. peacekeepers and civilians in the area, and they have stoked ethnic conflict between farming communities like the Dogon and Fulani herders.
Guindo and Yacouba Kassogué, the deputy mayor of Doucoumbo, which is near Djamnati, said four people were killed in Gorey, four in Djamnati and one in Simikanda.
“They attacked, set fires and stole cattle,” Kassogué told Reuters.
Mali has been in crisis since Islamist militants seized its desert north in 2012, forcing France to intervene the following year to push them back. But they have regrouped and extended their operations into central Mali and neighbouring countries in West Africa’s Sahel region.
Reuters: Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Giles Elgood