Tuesday, October 21, 2014

DEA Announces Texas Arrest Of Gulf Cartel Leader

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) today announced the arrest of current Gulf Cartel leader Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez, 23, of Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, on Oct. 9, 2014 while shopping in Edinburg, Texas. Saenz-Tamez today made an initial appearance in the Eastern District of Texas on drug trafficking charges.

“Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez became the head of the Gulf Cartel following the 2013 arrest of former leader Mario Ramirez-Trevino,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “He moved steadily up the cartel ranks, working as a lookout, record keeper, plaza boss, and finally its leader. Thanks to the quick actions of DEA and our local partners, we were able to identify and safely arrest Saenz-Tamez while he was in the United States. He oversaw much of the violence and bloodshed that has plagued Mexico and DEA is pleased he will face justice in the United States.”

A federal investigation into the large-scale trafficking of illegal drugs from Mexico into the Eastern District of Texas led to the identity of Saenz-Tamez. The investigation revealed thousands of kilograms of cocaine and marijuana were shipped into the Eastern District of Texas and then to locations across the nation, including Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Mississippi, Louisiana, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Maryland and Georgia.

Saenz-Tamez was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sep. 5, 2013 and charged with conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy with intent to distribute marijuana, and conspiracy to money launder. Saenz-Tamez was transported from McAllen, Texas to Beaumont where he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn for a detention hearing and initial appearance today.

If convicted, Saenz-Tamez faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison for the drug charges and up to 20 years in federal prison for the money laundering charge.

"The news that Juan Saenz-Tamez has been arrested is further proof that justice is prevailing in Mexico,” said U.S. Attorney John M. Bales. “I am encouraged that the efforts of so many law enforcement officers are now paying off. Congratulations to them and I look forward to seeing Saenz-Tamez answer for his crimes in a Beaumont courtroom."

“The arrest of Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez, will put a stop to his role in the distribution of illegal drugs and the laundering of drug proceeds,” said IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Lucy Cruz. “Laundering their profits is as important and essential to drug traffickers as the distribution of their illegal drugs. IRS CI is proud to provide assistance as we work alongside our law enforcement partners to bring these criminals to justice."

Friday, October 17, 2014

Two Connecticut Men Plead Guilty to Bribery Scheme Involving FBI Agent in New York

Two Connecticut men pleaded guilty today to bribery charges, admitting that they participated in a scheme to obtain confidential, internal law enforcement documents and information from a former FBI Special Agent in White Plains, New York.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York, and Justice Department Inspector General Michael D. Horowitz made the announcement.

Johannes Thaler, 51, of Fairfield County, Connecticut, and Rizve Ahmed, aka “Caesar,” 35, of Danbury, Connecticut, pleaded guilty today in White Plains, New York, federal court to bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services and wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Vincent L. Briccetti of the Southern District of New York.  Both Thaler and Ahmed admitted to participating in a bribery scheme with Robert Lustyik, a former FBI Special Agent in White Plains who worked on the counterintelligence squad.

In pleading guilty, Thaler and Ahmed admitted that between September 2011 and March 2012, Thaler and Lustyik solicited bribes from Ahmed, in exchange for Lustyik’s agreement to provide internal, confidential documents and other confidential information to which Lustyik had access by virtue of his position as an FBI Special Agent.  Thaler was Lustyik’s friend, and Ahmed, a native of Bangladesh, was an acquaintance of Thaler.  Ahmed sought confidential law enforcement information, including a Suspicious Activity Report, pertaining to a Bangladeshi political figure who was affiliated with a political party opposing Ahmed’s views.  Thaler and Ahmed admitted that Ahmed requested the confidential information to help Ahmed locate and harm his intended victim and others associated with the victim.  Ahmed also sought assistance in having criminal charges against a different Bangladeshi political figure dismissed.

Thaler and Ahmed admitted that they exchanged various text messages in furtherance of the scheme, including text messages about a “contract” that would require Ahmed to pay a $40,000 “retainer” and $30,000 “monthly.”  In return, Lustyik and Thaler agreed to “give [Ahmed] everything [they] ha[d] plus set up [the victim] and get the inside from the party.”

Thaler and Lustyik also exchanged text messages about how to pressure Ahmed to pay them additional money in exchange for confidential information.  For example, in text messages, Lustyik told Thaler, “we need to push [Ahmed] for this meeting and get that 40 gs quick . . . . I will talk us into getting the cash . . . . I will work my magic . . . . We r sooooooo close.”  Thaler responded, “I know.  It’s all right there in front of us.  Pretty soon we’ll be having lunch in our oceanfront restaurant . . . .”

Additionally, in late January 2012, Lustyik learned that Ahmed was considering using a different source to obtain confidential information.  As a result, Lustyik sent a text message to Thaler stating, “I want to kill [Ahmed] . . . . I hung my ass out the window n we got nothing? . . . . Tell [Ahmed], I’ve got [the victim’s] number and I’m pissed. . . . I will put a wire on n get [Ahmed and his associates] to admit they want [a Bangladeshi political figure] offed n we sell it to the victim].”  Lustyik further stated, “So bottom line.  I need ten gs asap.  We gotta squeeze C.”

Sentencing hearings for Thaler and Ahmed are scheduled for Jan. 23, 2015.

Lustyik is scheduled for trial on Nov. 17, 2014.  The charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Emily Rae Woods of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Allee of the White Plains Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

U.S. Marshals Add Suspected Murderer to 15 Most Wanted

Fugitive allegedly killed military veteran; possibly fled the country

The U.S. Marshals Service announced the addition of suspected murderer Peter Castillo to its 15 Most Wanted fugitive list.

On May 10, 2012, Castillo allegedly shot 22-year-old military veteran Stephen Perez in the back killing him following an altercation that occurred in the Boston Theater District. Castillo was immediately identified as the shooter by the Boston Police Department and a warrant was issued for homicide. Shortly after the incident, he allegedly fled to New York then to the Dominican Republic where he has extensive ties. As a result, a federal warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution was also issued.

“The U.S. Marshals Service reserves our 15 Most Wanted list for the worst of the worst fugitives who are accused of the most egregious crimes,” said U.S. Marshals Service Director Stacia A. Hylton. “Peter Castillo’s alleged crimes have made him the latest addition to the list, earning him the full attention of the U.S. Marshals Service. We will use every available resource to bring him to justice.”

U.S. Marshal John Gibbons of the District of Massachusetts reiterated that commitment. “The Marshals Service is committed to assisting the Boston Police Department in locating and apprehending this violent fugitive. Castillo committed a brutal act by allegedly shooting an unarmed veteran in the back and must answer for his crime.”

Gibbons acknowledged all of the investigative work and man-hours already given to the case.

“I would like to recognize the Boston Police Department Homicide Unit for their outstanding investigative efforts with this case; they play a significant role on the Massachusetts Fugitive Task Force. As always, we remain dedicated to working with our law enforcement partners to track down and apprehend the most violent fugitives.”

Castillo has an extensive criminal history to include prior arrests for resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. Given his violent background assaulting law enforcement and the use of weapons, Castillo should be considered armed and dangerous.

“The U.S. Marshals Service 15 Most Wanted program benefits greatly from an extensive global network that includes deputies and law enforcement partners at the local, state, and international levels,” said Hylton. “Castillo and other fugitives who may flee our nation’s borders in an attempt to evade capture will learn the global reach of the U.S. Marshals Service as we stop at nothing to bring them to justice.”

The victim, Perez, was a U.S. Army veteran who served two tours of duty in the Middle East as a sniper. At the time of the incident, Perez was attending Bunker Hill Community College and majoring in criminology.

A reward of up to $25,000 is being offered for information leading directly to Castillo’s arrest. Anyone with information is urged to contact the nearest U.S. Marshals office or the U.S. Marshals Service Communications Center at 1-800-336-0102.