Feature Articles

October 15, 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

NIAGARA FALLS, ONTARIO, CANADA: Two Hells Angels from the Quebec chapter lost a gun in a visit to Canada' Marineland theme park, and went to the parks Lost & Found office to look for it. When they laid claim to the bag that gun was hidden in, they were arrested.

     Police said the men left behind a bag containing a pistol during a visit to the park.

     Daniel Lafond, 30, and Normand Ouimet, 31, of Quebec, were charged with possession of a restricted weapon with ammunition, possession of a weapon obtained by crime, unauthorized possession of a weapon, carrying a concealed weapon and breach of probation. They were in custody awaiting a bail hearing.

VANCOUVER, CANADA: Canada's largest spy agency said that International organized crime gangs, engaged in everything from money laundering to people smuggling, pose a serious economic threat to that country.

     The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) said at least five and as many as 18 criminal groups, such as Chinese Triads and North American motorcycle gangs, appear to be operating in Canada and continue to expand.

     In the past, crime experts have warned that Canada is an attractive target for international crime groups because it has weaker laws than the United States and allows proximity to the large and lucrative U.S. marketplace.

     The agency, which has issued similar warnings in the past, charged that the 1989 collapse of YBM Magnex International Corp. was an example of how investors can be stung when organized crime infiltrates publicly traded businesses.

     YBM was a favorite of the Toronto Stock Exchange with a market capitalization of about C$1 billion until the FBI raided the company's Pennsylvania headquarters amid allegations it was controlled by Russian mobsters as a front for money laundering and securities fraud.

     The agency said money laundering is a key activity for organized crime groups. Using a formula developed by the International Monetary Fund it estimates between C$5 billion and C$17 billion is laundered in Canada annually.

     The agency estimates the illegal drug trade in Canada at between C$7 billion and C$10 billion and said it had the potential to damage relations with the United States, which views its northern neighbor as major source of marijuana.

YOKOHAMA: The national police have asked prosecutors to draw up papers for the arrest of Yoshio Tsubouchi, 79, the director of Japan Federation of Employers Associations (Nikkeiren) and Shozo Nakajima, 58, a lawyer and one-time prosecutor.

     They are accused of conspiring with a gangster and a company executive in 1998 to use threats to obtain a check for 20 million yen from the executives of a Tokyo-based warehouse management company, police said.

     A senior member of a gangster group and the company executive have been convicted of extortion in the case.

     According to the investigation, Tsubouchi, Nakajima and the other two men threatened the executives on June 15, 1998. ''We will chase you to the other side of Earth unless you act in good faith,'' they allegedly warned.

     The following month, they allegedly received a check from the executives of the warehouse company, which had collapsed by that time.

     Police said the suspects viewed the money as a mediation fee. Nakajima, the lawyer also enlisted the gangster and company executive to, take part in the plan, it is alleged.

     He resigned as a prosecutor in 1994, after he was suspended from duty following a report he had sexually harassed a female reporter.

PARIS: Two men, pretending to be police officers, pushed their luck to far when they tried to extort money from two Chinese tourists in a sham identity check in Paris.

     The tourists turned out to be actual policemen on vacation in France. The Chinese policemen gave the real French police a precise description of the racketeers and both men, who are Romanian, were detained the following day.

NAGOYA: An unemployed man and his 31-year-old wife were arrested on suspicion of violating the Anti-Prostitution Law by luring at least five men through a Web site to have sex with the woman, police said.

     It was the first time for police to arrest people on a charge of advertising prostitution via the Internet, police said.

     Police said they have confirmed that the woman, was driven to hotels by her husband and entered the hotels with men more than three times a day.

TOKYO: The number of Internet-related criminal cases in which arrests were made totaled 201 in the first six months of this year, compared with 247 cases in all of calendar 1999, according to a National Police Agency (NPA) survey.

     There were 25 cases of fraud relating to Internet transactions, including Internet auctions, the survey showed.

     In each of the Internet auction cases, an average of about 20 were cheated out of some 100,000 yen each, NPA officials said.

     The number of cases in which the law banning child prostitution and child pornography was violated, including the arranging of paid sex with minors and the publication of obscene pictures of high school girls on the Internet, totaled 50.

     Other examples of cyber-crime include the distribution of obscene materials, numbering 64 cases, defamation, at 13, and copyright violations.

VICTORIA, CANADA: Nine South Korean sailors sobbed with relief after they were acquitted of smuggling a boatload of Chinese migrants into Canada.

     The nine men were accused of smuggling 131 Chinese migrants into Canada aboard a cargo ship last August.

     Defense lawyers insisted the sailors were forced to take part in the human smuggling operation by members of the Snakeheads, a Chinese organized crime group.

PHILADELPHIA: Marie Donato, a 50-year-old homemaker and grandmother of three house beat out 28,000 would-be actors vying to appear in "The Sopranos".

     Donato tagged along with a friend to the auditions that created a mob scene last month in Harrison, N.J. She hoped to get a glimpse of one of the cast members from the popular HBO series about a fictional New Jersey Mafia family.

     Several casting directors noticed Donato's looks. Her lack of acting experience didn't stand in the way.

     Five days later, she arrived in New York to meet the show's executive producer, David Chase.

     Donato shot one episode of the show last week. She may appear on more episodes, depending on how future scripts are written.

     Under an agreement with the show, Donato wasn't allowed to say what character she portrayed.

MEXICO: The Attorney General's Office announced that the formal arrest of drug lord Juan Jose Quintero Payan has been made.

     Quintero Payan was detained in Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco, after an arrest warrant was issued against him.

     Quintero was one of the top members of one of the largest drug-trafficking organizations in Mexico, headed by Amado Carrillo Fuentes. Quintero Payan is currently imprisoned in Almoloya de Juarez, in the State of Mexico.

TOKYO: The government will not ask telephone companies to voluntarily take part in police wiretapping operations, Justice Minister Okiharu Yasuoka told a news conference on the day that Japan's first-ever wiretapping law took effect.

     He suggested that authorities may rely on civil servants in municipal governments to instead serve as monitors.

     Yasuoka's comments came after Japan's largest cellular phone company, NTT DoCoMo Inc., said it will refrain from sending staff to monitor the operations due to concerns over cost and stress to its employees.

     National Police Agency (NPA) sources earlier said the agency had asked NTT DoCoMo to develop for free of charge equipment needed for the wiretapping of cellular phones.

     The law allows investigators to wiretap some private communications provided the operations are watched by designated monitors.

     The crimes must involve illegal drugs, guns or murder thought to have been committed by organized crime groups, or the mass smuggling of people into Japan. Wiretapping can be done on land-line phones, cellular phones, faxes or e-mail.

JERUSALEM: Four prostitutes, believed to be working for the Russian mob, died when a Tel Aviv brothel was torched, the latest attack in what police suspect is the work of a serial arsonist.

     The four unidentified women apparently tried to escape from the apartment that served as a brothel but found the front door locked, Tel Aviv police said. The women inside a second brothel also set ablaze Tuesday managed to escape without harm.

     The fires Tuesday follow similar attacks on two other brothels in the Tel Aviv area last week, said police commander Shlomo Aharonishky.

     A gang of ultra-Orthodox Jews was behind a wave of arson attacks on erotica shops in Jerusalem in the 1970s, and in the mid-1980s, another gang set fire to billboards they consider offensive.

     The sex trade in Israel has boomed in recent years as thousands of women have flooded into the country, many lured from the former Soviet Union with false job promises as waitresses or dancers. Once in Israel they are locked up in brothels, where they are forced to work as prostitutes. Tel Aviv has an estimated 100-150 brothels known to police, most of which are located in private apartment.

     Russian-based crime gangs have used the influx of immigrants as a cover for sneaking in an estimated 10,000 prostitutes over the past decade.

MEMPHIS: TENNESSE: Five former members of Elvis Presley's inner circle have incorporated the name ``Memphis Mafia'' and are prepared to sue anyone who uses it without permission.

     Presley had an entourage of pals and employees who ranged in number from a dozen to about 30. A Las Vegas reporter dubbed the group the Memphis Mafia in 1960 after they cruised the city in black mohair suits and dark sunglasses.

     ``The Memphis Mafia name is known by millions of fans throughout the world, OK?'' said Marty Lacker, who owns the name along with Lamar Fike, Red West, Sonny West, Presley cousin Billy and New York entertainment entrepreneur George Tan. They incorporated the name in the early 1990s.

BEIJING: A Chinese court sentenced to prison four "snakeheads," member of the Chinese organized crime group, for sneaking 13 people out of the country.

     In a separate case, seven people, including three Taiwanese, were arrested in China's Fujian province for conspiring to smuggle women to Taiwan to work as prostitutes, Xinhua said Sunday.

     Chinese media have carried numerous reports of police action against snakeheads and migrants after 58 illegal Chinese immigrants were found dead in a truck at the English port town of Dover in June.

ATLANTA:- Computer software giant Microsoft Corp. and the U.S. Customs Service said almost $1 million worth of alleged counterfeit Microsoft products had been seized in Georgia following a six-month investigation.

     Illegal software accounts for 25 percent of all programs installed on U.S. computers. The practice has become so lucrative in the United States that organized crime has taken to bankrolling sophisticated counterfeiting operations.

Mr. Tuohy can be reached at

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