Feature Articles

August 14, 2000

Round Up The Usual Suspects

By John William Tuohy

John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washingon, D.C.

compiled by John William Tuohy and Ed Becker (Las Vegas, Nevada)

Massachusetts: Boston Police and the FBI announced today that they have reached a major break through deal with Kevin Weeks, a top lieutenant of alleged mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger.      In the arrangement, Weeks has agreed to cooperate with the government as part of a deal in which he admits involvement in five murders prosecutors say Bulger's gang committed.

     Weeks will also plead guilty to charges that include racketeering, extortion and money laundering.

     So far, due to the arrangement, police have learned that at least one of the murders was committed by Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi. The others were committed by members and associates of the group, the agreement said.

     Bulger has been on the run since his January 1995 indictment on gambling, loansharking and drug charges. Flemmi is awaiting trial on racketeering charges.

AUSTRALIA: The Northern Territory Government has announced it will continue to fund regional counseling services for problem gamblers. Gaming Minister Tim Baldwin says the Government has decided to provide $50,000, so the program can continue this financial year.

SWITZERLAND: A study by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has found that most refugees seeking asylum in Western Europe are forced to do so by brokering deals with the underworld who help them across borders.

     The study also found that human trafficking and smuggling business has been estimated to be worth between $5-7 billion annually to gangster syndicates, mostly based in Eastern Europe.

JAPAN: The Metropolitan Police Department has arrested two former employees of Sumitomo Bank on suspicion of mediating the sale of stolen stock certificates.

     The pair admitted to the allegations, saying they knew that the man who had asked them to sell the stocks was a member of the Japanese Mafia, the Yakuza.

RUSSIA: The national police are investigating whether organized crime was linked to the morning shooting death of a director of OAO OMZ Gruppa Uralmash-Izhora, the nation's largest machinery maker where the state also produces arms.

     Oleg Belonenko, 51, the general director of OAO Uralskie Mashinostroitelnye Zavody, was shot while en route to the company's headquarters in Yekaterinburg in the Ural mountains. His driver also was killed. The company, a unit of Uralmash-Izhora, has contracts for nuclear reactors in China and Iran and is used by the government to make parts for tanks.

     Yekaterinburg, the provincial city in the Ural mountains where Nicholas II, Russia's last tsar, and his family were murdered, is part of a region known as a center for an organized crime group called the Uralmash, because it was formed near the location of the Uralmash-Izhora subsidiary.

NEW JERSEY: Peter "The Crumb" Caprio, age 70, of the Philadelphia Bruno crime family has pled guilty and agreed to become a government informant.

     Caprio will join former boss Ralph Natale, 65, who is also acting as an informant on the Philadelphia family.

     In court, Caprio admitted he ran the northern New Jersey operations of the Bruno mob, and had worked for the family since the early 1970s. He also said he plotted this year with other crime families to remove the new Bruno leadership.

     As part of his plea bargain, Caprio also admitted to roles in three slayings, including the 1996 death of Joseph Sodano, a former capo of the Bruno organization.

SAUDI ARABIA: A Pakistani drug trafficker was beheaded here this week. Mir Afzal Omar Shah was arrested as he was smuggling heroin into Saudi Arabia. The government gave no other details. The execution brings to at least 65 the number of people beheaded in Saudi Arabia this year. At least 99 were executed last year.

MEXICO: A second attorney for a man accused of being a major drug trafficker was found shot to death. The body of Eugenio Zafra Garcia was found in front of his house in Toluca, the state capital west of Mexico City. He had been shot numerous times.

     Another attorney, Gustavo Galvez Reyes, was found tortured and suffocated to death in Mexico City after failing to win Jesus Labra's release from house arrest following his arrest in Tijuana on March 11.

     Labra was caught by Mexican soldiers while he was watching a youth football game in which his son was a player. The US claim Labra is the financial mastermind of Mexico's most violent drug organization, the Tijuana-based Arellano Felix brothers.

Mr. Tuohy can be reached at

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