many of the same ships have recently started trading Venezuelan oil that is under U.S. sanctions.

The spread of AIS manipulation by E.U.-registered vessels shows how advances in technology allow some shipowners to earn windfall profits from commodities under sanction while benefiting from European financial services and legal safeguards.

Cyprus’s deputy shipping minister, Vassilios Demetriades, said illegal manipulation of on-ship equipment is punishable by fines or criminal penalties under the island’s laws. But he has downplayed the problem, saying AIS’s “value and trustworthiness as a location device is rather limited.”

According to Cyprus’s corporate documents, Reliable belongs to a company owned by Christos Georgantzoglou, 81, a Greek businessman. The ship crossed the Atlantic for the first time shortly after Mr. Georgantzoglou’s company bought it last year, and has transmitted locations around eastern Caribbean Islands since, according to Windward’s analysis.

But Venezuela’s state oil company records reviewed by The New York Times show that Reliable was working for the Venezuelan government in the country during that time.

Mr. Georgantzoglou and his company did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Their Venezuelan dealings appear to contradict a promise made by Greece’s powerful shipowners association in 2020 to stop transporting the country’s oil. The association did not respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, Reliable is still moving fuel around Venezuelan ports or loading crude onto Asia-bound ships in open waters to hide its origin, according to two Venezuelan oil businessmen, who asked not to be named for security reasons. It still broadcasts coordinates of a ship adrift in the Caribbean Sea.

Adriana Loureiro Fernandez and Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

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High Number Of Journalists Killed, Attacked In Mexico

Journalists in Mexico are now fleeing, after threats of being killed by the cartel, and a lack of protection by the police.

Migrants are facing a brutal road as they travel through Mexico to reach America. 

There is ongoing corruption, desperation and child exploitation at the southern border. 

These are the stories that drove Maria de Jesus Peters and her husband Juan de Dios Garcia Davish throughout Chiapas, Mexico — to locations few journalists dare to go. 

“I would write Mexico is the nightmare of the American dream,” said Peters.  

It’s a journalistic calling that put their lives in danger. 

Video captured Peters covered in blood after being struck while covering a caravan of people heading for the United States. 

Davish recalls a brutal attack by police in 2012 while on assignment.   

2016 marked their first death threat, coming from a man claiming to be a commander with the Zetas, one of the most dangerous drug cartels in Mexico. 

They were scared.  

So was their young daughter. 

This may be another threat, but this one felt different. Suddenly the two storytellers became the story.  

The family was forced to flee on a tourist visa and arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, at the end of June.  

The exact number of journalists killed in Mexico this year is disputed. 

As many as 13 murders are reported by The Associated Press; that number is likely higher.  

This month, the National Human Rights Commission reported four radio station employees were murdered in Chihuahua by an organized crime group. 

Jan-Albert Hootsen is on the Committee to Protect Journalists, as a Mexico representative.  

“Bluntly put, this is probably going to be either the deadliest or one of the deadliest years in Mexican recent history for journalists,” said Hootsen. 

She claims impunity levels in Mexico are incredibly high.  

“Impunity levels are sky high. You know, Maria de Jesus and Juan de Dios, they have been reporting threats against their life for six years now. Not a single person has been properly investigated,” said Hootsen.  

He believes the threats are coming from multiple fronts, including corrupt politicians, police, the army and organized crime groups.  

“Sometimes they can be just verbal threats. They can be abductions. It can be torture,” said Hootsen.   

A fate this family fears as time and money run out.  

Unable to find protection and legal help in Phoenix to extend their tourist visa, the family boarded a bus to LA where they hope someone will take their case.  

NEWSY’S ADI GUAJARDO: What is your biggest fear? What do you think is going to happen if you are not able to find any help here in the United States? 

MARIA DE JESUS PETERS: Yes, I feel safe here. But if the doors have to return and who knows if I’ll survive it? 

The award-winning journalists say going back to Mexico would mark the end of their career in journalism; a passion that’s given their life purpose, and now threatens to end it.

Source: newsy.com

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Mexico Arrests Ex-Attorney General In Missing Students Case

Prosecutors also issued a slew of arrest warrants to army members, police officers and gang members in the disappearances of 43 students in Mexico.

Federal prosecutors said Friday they have arrested the attorney general in Mexico’s previous administration on charges he committed abuses in the investigation of the 2014 disappearances of 43 students from a radical teacher college.

Prosecutors also announced they had issued arrest warrants in the case against 20 army soldiers officers, five local officials, 33 local police officers and 11 state police, as well as 14 gang members.

The roundup included the first arrest of a former attorney general in recent history, and one of the biggest mass arrests ever by civilian prosecutors of Mexican army soldiers.

Jesús Murillo Karam served as attorney general from 2012 to 2015, under then President Enrique Peña Nieto. The office of the current attorney general, Alejandro Gertz Manero, said Murillo Karam was charged with torture, official misconduct and forced disappearance.

In 2020, Gertz Manero said Murillo Karam had been implicated in “orchestrating a massive media trick” and leading a “generalized cover-up” in the case.

The arrest came a day after a commission set up to determine what happened said the army bore at least partial responsibility in the case. It said a soldier had infiltrated the student group involved and the army didn’t stop the abductions even though it knew what was happening.

Corrupt local police, other security forces and members of a drug gang abducted the students in the city of Iguala in Guerrero state, although the motive remains unclear eight years later. Their bodies have never been found, though fragments of burned bone have been matched to three of the students.

Murillo Karam, under pressure to quickly solve the case, announced in 2014 that the students had been killed and their bodies burned at a garbage dump by members of a drug gang. He called that hypothesis “the historic truth.”

But the investigation included instances of torture, improper arrest and mishandling of evidence that has since allowed most of the directly implicated gang members to walk free.

The incident occurred near a large army base, and independent investigations have found that members of the military were aware of what was occurring. The students’ families have long demanded that soldiers be included in the investigation.

On Thursday, the truth commission looking into the case said one of the abducted students was a soldier who had infiltrated the radical teachers’ college, yet the army did not search for him even though it had real-time information that the abduction was occurring. It said the inaction violated army protocols for cases of missing soldiers.

The defense ministry has not responded to a request for comment.

The soldiers and officers being sought under Friday’s warrants — and the other officials, police and gang members — face charges of murder, torture, official misconduct, criminal association and forced disappearance

It was not immediately clear whether all the suspects faced all the charges or if the suspects were among dozens previously arrested and charged during previous investigations.

Prior to reforms in Mexican law, the army had long been allowed to refer soldiers accused of wrongdoing to separate military courts. But soldiers must now by tried in civilian courts, if their offenses involved civilians.

The soldiers being charged served at the base near where the abduction occurred in 2014.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party, which both Murillo Karam and Peña Nieto belonged to, wrote in its Twitter account that Murillo Karam’s arrest “is more a question of politics than justice. This action does not help the victims’ families get answers.”

Mexican federal prosecutors previously issued arrest warrants for members of the military and federal police as well as Tomás Zeron, who at the time of the abduction headed the federal investigation agency, Mexico’s detective agency.

Zeron is being sought on charges of torture and covering up forced disappearances. He fled to Israel, and Mexico has asked the Israeli government for help in his arrest.

Gertz Manero said that in addition to Zeron’s alleged crimes connected to the case, he is alleged to have stolen more than $44 million from the Attorney General’s Office budget.

The motive for the students’ abduction remains a subject of debate.

On Sept. 26, 2014, local police from Iguala, members of organized crime and authorities abducted 43 students from buses. The students periodically commandeered buses for their transportation.

Murillo Karam claimed the students were turned over to a drug gang who killed them, incinerated their bodies at a dump in nearby Cocula and tossed the burned bone fragments into a river.

Later investigations by independent experts and the Attorney General’s Office, and corroborated by the truth commission, have dismissed the idea that the bodies were incinerated at the Cocula dump.

There has been no evidence that any of the students could still be alive.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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3 Charged In 2018 Killing Of Boston Gangster Whitey Bulger

The charges come nearly four years after Bulger’s killing.

Three men, including a Mafia hitman, have been charged in the 2018 killing of notorious Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger, the Justice Department said Thursday.

The charges against Fotios “Freddy” Geas, Paul J. DeCologero and Sean McKinnon come nearly four years after Bulger’s killing, which raised questions about why the known “snitch” was placed in the West Virginia prison’s general population instead of more protective housing. The men were charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

Authorities have not revealed a possible motive for Bulger’s killing in October 2018, which came hours after he was transferred to USP Hazelton in West Virginia from a prison in Florida. He had been serving a life sentence for 11 murders and other crimes. Prosecutors allege Geas and DeCologero struck Bulger in the head multiple times, causing his death.

Bulger, who ran the largely Irish mob in Boston in the 1970s and ’80s, served as an FBI informant who ratted on his gang’s main rival, according to the bureau. He later became one of the nation’s most-wanted fugitives. Bulger strongly denied ever being a government informant.

The Justice Department has also charged Geas, 55, and DeCologero, 48, with aiding and abetting first-degree murder, along with assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Geas faces a separate charge of murder by a federal inmate serving a life sentence, and McKinnon, 36, is charged separately with making false statements to a federal agent.

Geas and DeCologero were identified as suspects shortly after Bulger’s death, according to law enforcement officials at the time, but they remained uncharged as the investigation dragged on for years.

All three were placed in solitary confinement throughout the probe, family members told The Boston Globe. McKinnon’s mother told the newspaper that her son, who was Geas’ cellmate at the time of Bulger’s killing, told her he didn’t know anything about the slaying.

Daniel Kelly, an attorney for Geas, said Thursday that the charges aren’t a surprise, but don’t justify his client’s continued placement in solitary confinement.

Emails seeking comment were sent Thursday to an attorney for Bulger’s family. It wasn’t immediately clear if McKinnon and DeCologero had attorneys to comment on their behalf.

Geas remains in prison in Hazelton. DeCologero is being held in another federal prison facility. McKinnon was released from prison last month after pleading guilty in 2015 to stealing guns from a firearms dealer. He was on federal supervised release when the indictment was handed down, and was arrested Thursday in Florida.

Bulger was the third inmate killed in six months at USP Hazelton, where workers and advocates had long warned of dangerous conditions at the penitentiary nicknamed “Misery Mountain.”

Bulger’s family sued the Federal Bureau of Prisons and 30 unnamed employees of the prison system over his death, alleging it appeared the gangster was “deliberately sent to his death.” A federal judge dismissed the family’s lawsuit in January.

Bulger fled Boston in late 1994 after his FBI handler, John Connolly Jr., warned him he was about to be indicted.

After more than 16 years on the run and with a $2 million reward on his head, he was captured at age 81 in Santa Monica, California, where he had been living in a rent-controlled apartment near the beach with his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig.

He was convicted in 2013 of the 11 slayings, as well as extortion and money-laundering after a sensational racketeering trial.

His transfer to Hazelton was prompted by disciplinary issues, a federal law enforcement official told The Associated Press in 2018. The official insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to release details. In February 2018, Bulger threatened an assistant supervisor at the prison in Florida, telling her “your day of reckoning is coming.”

A prison workers’ union official told the AP that year that sending Bulger to the troubled federal penitentiary that housed other New England gangsters was like giving him a “death sentence.”

But Bulger never admitted to working for the FBI. Court papers made public in the civil case brought by his family showed that he was interviewed by staff after arriving at Hazelton about whether there were reasons he should be kept out of the general population. An intake screening form signed by Bulger said he answered “no” to questions such as “have you assisted law enforcement agents in any way?”

DeCologero was part of an organized crime gang led by his uncle on Massachusetts’ North Shore called the “DeCologero Crew.”

He was convicted of buying heroin that was used to try to kill a teenage girl his uncle wanted dead because he feared she “would betray the crew to police.” The heroin didn’t kill her, so another man broke her neck, dismembered her and buried her remains in the woods, court records say.

Geas was a close associate of the Mafia and acted as an enforcer, but was not an official “made” member because he’s Greek, not Italian.

Geas and his brother were sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for their roles in several violent crimes, including the 2003 killing of Adolfo “Big Al” Bruno, a Genovese crime family boss in Springfield, Massachusetts. Another mobster ordered Bruno’s killing because he was upset he had talked to the FBI, prosecutors said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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3rd Body Surfaces Since May Near Lake Mead Swimming Site

By Associated Press
July 27, 2022

The National Park Service did not say how long officials think the corpse was submerged in the Boulder Beach area before it was found Monday.

Another body has surfaced at Lake Mead — this time in a swimming area where water levels have dropped as the Colorado River reservoir behind Hoover Dam recedes because of drought and climate change.

The National Park Service did not say in a statement how long officials think the corpse was submerged in the Boulder Beach area before it was found Monday by people who summoned park rangers.

Clark County Coroner Melanie Rouse said Tuesday it was partially encased in mud at the water line of the swimming area along the shore north of Hemenway Harbor marina.

The gender of the dead person was not immediately apparent, Rouse said, and it was too early to tell a time, cause and manner of death. Investigators will review missing persons records as part of the effort, Rouse said.

The corpse was the third found since May as the shoreline retreats at the shrinking reservoir between Nevada and Arizona east of Las Vegas. The lake surface has dropped more than 170 feet since the reservoir was full in 1983. It is now about 30% full.

The coroner said her office was continuing work to identify a man whose body was found May 1 in a rusted barrel in the Hemenway Harbor area and a man whose bones were found May 7 in a newly surfaced sand bar near Callville Bay, more than 9 miles from the marina.

On July 6, the body of a 22-year-old Boulder City woman was found in the water near where she disappeared while riding a personal watercraft. Rouse said it may take several weeks to determine her cause of death.

The case of the body in the barrel was being investigated as a homicide after police said the man had been shot and his clothing dated to the mid-1970s to early 1980s.

The discoveries have prompted speculation about long-unsolved missing person and murder cases dating back decades — to organized crime and the early days of Las Vegas, which is just a 30-minute drive from the lake.

The drop in the lake level comes while a vast majority of peer-reviewed science says the world is warming, mainly because of rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Scientists say the U.S. West, including the Colorado River basin, has become warmer and drier in the past 30 years.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Mexico’s Capture Of Drug Kingpin Could Be Signal To U.S.

Three days after Mexico’s president and President Biden met in the White House, the most wanted target of the U.S. DEA was in Mexican custody.

As Mexican marines closed in on infamous drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero deep in the mountains of his native state of Sinaloa, it was a 6-year-old bloodhound named “Max” who rousted from the undergrowth the man allegedly responsible for the murder of a U.S. DEA agent more than three decades ago.

While the United States’ motivation to find Caro Quintero was never in doubt — hence the $20 million reward for information leading to his capture — there was less certainty about the commitment of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who had made clear his disinterest in pursuing drug lords.

Yet on Friday, three days after López Obrador and U.S. President Joe Biden met in the White House, the most wanted target of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was in Mexican custody.

Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office said in a statement late Friday that Caro Quintero was arrested for extradition to the U.S. and he would be held at the maximum security Altiplano prison about 50 miles west of Mexico City.

“It seems to me that in the private talks between President Joe Biden and Andrés Manuel (López Obrador) they surely agreed to turning over high-profile drug traffickers again, which had been suspended,” said security analyst David Saucedo.

Cooperation between the DEA and Mexico’s marines had led to some of the highest-profile captures during previous administrations, but not under López Obrador, Saucedo noted.

Both presidents face domestic pressure to do more against drug traffickers. With Caro Quintero’s arrest, “Narcos are being captured again and I believe that clearly it was what was in fact needed,” Saucedo said.

Samuel González, who founded the organized crime office in Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office and now a security analyst, said that to López Obrador’s benefit, the arrest “shows evidence that there’s no protection of capos” from his administration.

González believes Caro Quintero has long been a thorn in the bilateral relationship, but said that “without doubt” his capture was fruit of the recent negotiations in Washington.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar both expressed gratitude for Mexico’s efforts to catch the man blamed for the brutal torture and murder of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in 1985 — a case that brought a low point in U.S.-Mexico relations.

“This achievement is a testament to Mexico’s determination to bring to justice someone who terrorized and destabilized Mexico during his time in the Guadalajara Cartel; and is implicated in the kidnapping, torture, and murder of DEA agent Kiki Camarena,” Salazar said in a statement late Friday.

Garland said the U.S. government would seek his immediate extradition.

Mexico’s navy and Attorney’s General Office led the operation deep in the mountains that straddle the border between Sinaloa and Chihuahua states, many miles from any paved road. They found Caro Quintero, with help of “Max,” hiding in brush in a place in Sinaloa called San Simon.

Caro Quintero came from Badiraguato, Sinaloa, the same township as Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the former leader of the Sinaloa cartel, which came later. Caro Quintero was one of the founders of the Guadalajara cartel and according to the DEA was one of the primary suppliers of heroin, cocaine and marijuana to the United States in the late 1970s.

He blamed Camarena for a raid on a huge marijuana plantation in 1984. The next year, Camarena was kidnapped in Guadalajara, allegedly on orders from Caro Quintero. His tortured body was found a month later.

Caro Quintero was serving a 40-year sentence in Mexico when an appeals court overturned his verdict in 2013. The Supreme Court upheld the sentence, but it was too late — Caro Quintero had been spirited off in a waiting vehicle.

Caro Quintero was added to FBI’s 10 most wanted list in 2018 with a $20 million reward for his capture.

López Obrador had previously seemed ambivalent about his case.

Last year, the president said the legal appeal that led to Caro Quintero’s release was “justified” because supposedly no verdict had been handed down against the drug lord after 27 years in jail. López Obrador also depicted a later warrant for his re-arrest as an example of U.S. pressure.

“Once he was out, they had to look for him again, because the United States demanded he shouldn’t have been released, but legally the appeal was justified,” López Obrador said.

Presidential spokesman Jesús Ramírez said at the time, “The president was just saying that it was a legal aberration that the judge had not issued a verdict on Mr. Caro Quintero after 27 years … but he was not defending his release.”

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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New Zealand Wants a 90% Vaccination Rate. Its Street Gangs May Hold the Key.

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Rawiri Jansen, a Maori doctor, had an urgent message for the 150 people, mostly patch-wearing members of New Zealand’s plentiful street gangs and their families, who sat before him on a bright Saturday afternoon.

Covid is coming for them, he said. Cases in New Zealand’s hospitals are rising rapidly. Soon, dozens of new infections a day might be hundreds or even a thousand. People will die. And vaccination is the only defense. “When your doctors are scared, you should be scared,” he said.

By the end of the day, after an exhaustive question-and-answer session with other health professionals, roughly a third of those present chose to receive a dose then and there.

Having abandoned its highly successful “Covid-zero” elimination strategy in response to an outbreak of the Delta variant, New Zealand is now undergoing a difficult transition to trying to keep coronavirus cases as low as possible. On Friday, the country set a target of getting at least 90 percent of the eligible population fully vaccinated — a goal, the highest in the developed world, whose success hinges on persuading people like those who gathered to hear Dr. Jansen.

intensely criticized, including by police leaders.

Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Pfizer and Moderna recipients who are eligible for a booster include people 65 and older, and younger adults at high risk of severe Covid-19 because of medical conditions or where they work. Eligible Pfizer and Moderna recipients can get a booster at least six months after their second dose. All Johnson & Johnson recipients will be eligible for a second shot at least two months after the first.

Yes. The F.D.A. has updated its authorizations to allow medical providers to boost people with a different vaccine than the one they initially received, a strategy known as “mix and match.” Whether you received Moderna, Johnson & Johnson or Pfizer-BioNTech, you may receive a booster of any other vaccine. Regulators have not recommended any one vaccine over another as a booster. They have also remained silent on whether it is preferable to stick with the same vaccine when possible.

The C.D.C. has said the conditions that qualify a person for a booster shot include: hypertension and heart disease; diabetes or obesity; cancer or blood disorders; weakened immune system; chronic lung, kidney or liver disease; dementia and certain disabilities. Pregnant women and current and former smokers are also eligible.

The F.D.A. authorized boosters for workers whose jobs put them at high risk of exposure to potentially infectious people. The C.D.C. says that group includes: emergency medical workers; education workers; food and agriculture workers; manufacturing workers; corrections workers; U.S. Postal Service workers; public transit workers; grocery store workers.

Yes. The C.D.C. says the Covid vaccine may be administered without regard to the timing of other vaccines, and many pharmacy sites are allowing people to schedule a flu shot at the same time as a booster dose.

Chris Hipkins, the minister responsible for New Zealand’s Covid-19 response, acknowledged earlier this month that the decision to enlist gang leaders was an unusual one.

“Our No. 1 priority here is to stop Covid-19 in its tracks, and that means doing what we need to do to get in front of the virus,” he said. “Where we have been able to enlist gang leaders to help with that, and where they have been willing to do so, we have done that.”

Some gang leaders have acted independently to help the vaccination effort. They have connected members of their community to health officials, organized events with health professionals like Dr. Jansen, and streamed events on Facebook Live to allow an open forum for questions about rare health risks. In some cases, they have taken vaccines to communities themselves.

“Our community is probably less well informed; they’re probably not as health literate,” said Mr. Tam, the Mongrel Mob member, who is a former civil servant and who received the border exemption. Constant media criticism has turned them off from reading traditional news outlets, he added.

“They then resort to social media, because they have much greater control,” he said. “It’s also a space that perpetuates conspiracy theories and false information and all the rest of it.” Health advice has to come from trusted individuals and leaders in the community, he said.

In the past week, Mr. Tam has traveled almost the length of the country organizing pop-up vaccination events for members and their communities, as well as coordinating with other chapter leaders to get their members vaccinated, he said.

It was difficult work that put him at personal risk, he said, and that invited intense skepticism from people who thought of gangs only as violent or connected to organized crime.

“Why do we bother?” Mr. Tam said. “We bother because we care about those people that others don’t care about, as simple as that. They can talk about my gang affiliation, all the rest of it. But it’s that affiliation that allows me to have that penetration, that foot in the door. I can do the stuff that they can’t do.”

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