Thursday, January 4, 2007
Leonidas Molina-Triana (also known as "Sofoco" and "Don Oscar"), a former major in the Colombian National Police, and Humberto Avila, an active CNP patrolman, were indicted for aiding in the transport of cocaine through El Dorado International Airport in Bogota, Colombia, to Mexico, en route to the U.S.
The officers allegedly worked with employees of Avianca Airlines to pass the drug shipments through security. Mexican law enforcement seized 409 kilograms of cocaine aboard an Avianca plane landed at Mexico City on Oct. 17, 2005. Additional shipments allegedly arranged with the officers by the Norte Valle Cartel were seized in 2006. On April 3, a cargo of 552 kg of cocaine was discovered. Another 1,200 kg was found the following day.
The cocaine smuggling was discovered through Operation Caso Dorado, a joint program of the United States and Mexican governments.
Facchiano is believed to have been a Genovese Crime Family soldier for decades. His police record stretches back to an arrest during the Great Depression.
More recently, law enforcement officials say Facchiano was part of a Genovese family arm operating in south Florida. In late June, he was formally charged in Fort Lauderdale - along with reputed Genovese lieutenant Renaldi "Ray" Ruggiero, 72, and five other men - with extortion, money-laundering and other crimes.
In New York, he faces a similar list of charges, plus an accusation that he attempted to locate and intimidate a government witness in 2005.
One defendant in the Florida case, Charles Steinberg, 31, pleaded guilty in December and faces up to 20 years in prison.
Related MobNews items:
Police believe Green, who has an "extensive" criminal record, was paid to execute the female owner of a Middletown NY hair salon on New Year's Eve. The killing of Fermina Nunez was allegedly contracted by the woman's ex-boyfriend.
As Brazil's tourist season opens, authorities are battling heavily armed drug gangs on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, according to a story by Larry Rohter of the New York Times.
Gangs attacked police stations and other targets on Dec. 28. At least 18 people were killed in the violence. The gang assaults are believed related to a change in the local governor. Sergio Cabral took office on Monday, and some speculate that gang leaders were sending him a warning.
Since May, gang attacks in Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo, have taken 200 lives.
The arrests were the result of a one-year investigation and a wiretap of a computer in Suffolk County. Authorities traced betting activity through a wire room in Costa Rica.
According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, the betting operation was run by Salvatore Gerrato, 45, of Seaford, and Frank Lonigro, 33, of Hauppauge. The two men are also accused of running a side business that generated $1 million a year in marijuana trafficking.
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Authorities are studying a memorial message in a Sicilian newspaper placed by reputed Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, according to a story by Richard Owen of the UK Times.
Denaro's memorial notice to his father, who died in 1998, contains a Biblical verse in Latin, to which some words have been attached. Police suspect that Denaro might be using the message to communicate with underworld colleagues. Sicilian mob bosses, including Bernardo Provenzano who was captured last year, are known for sending coded messages based on Bible passages.
The first portion of the memorial, translated into English reads from the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes: "To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die"
But, after that, it includes words not used in the Bible: "but only he who wants to will fly, and your flight has forever been sublime."
- Thomas Hunt
- Writer, editor, researcher, web publisher, specializing in organized crime history. (I am available to assist with your historical/genealogical research, as well as your writing and editing chores. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
I am editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer; publisher of American Mafia history website Mafiahistory.us; moderator of Mafia-related online forums; author of Wrongly Executed?; coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime; contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime; writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.