Archive | December, 2010

London: One-Third Of Students Admit To Abusing Legal-High Drugs: Survey

31 Dec

A third of British students have admitted experimenting with legal highs, it has been revealed.

Third Of Students Admit Taking Legal Highs Enlarge photo

The drugs, which are advertised as legal to purchase, have been blamed for several recent deaths of young people.

Three in four students surveyed by The Student Room website said they believed legal highs were just as dangerous as heroin or cocaine.

But one in two of the 450 questioned insisted they were not aware the highs contained illegal or harmful substances, although they added they were easy to obtain.

Jamie O’Connell of The Student Room said he was “shocked” by the results of the survey.

He added: “Our research suggests that young people need access to more information about the risks.”

Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire says the Government is “tightening the net” against drug trafficers enforcing year-long bans to potentially take substances off the market.

“A worrying number of young people have experimented with so-called legal highs and we want to send a clear message to anyone tempted to try them,” he said.

“Just because a drug is advertised as ‘legal’ does not mean it is or that it’s safe.”

Under the new power, anyone caught supplying a banned drug will face a maximum 14-year jail sentence and an unlimited fine.

In October, the legal high Ivory Wave was blamed for the death of 24-year-old Michael Bishton, whose body was found in the sea at Whitecliff Bay, Isle of Wight.

Mr Bishton’s girlfriend said he had started to become paranoid after taking the substance, which was originally advertised as bath salts but has become popular as a legal alternative to illicit drugs.


Ciudad Juarez, Mexico: Countless Residents Flee From The Western Hemisphere’s Deadliest City

31 Dec

AFP – Passengers aboard an airliner outbound for Veracruz, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. There have been more than …

By WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press Will Weissert, Associated Press:

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – The mother of four raised a finger, pointing out abandoned and stripped concrete homes and counting how many families have fled the Western Hemisphere’s deadliest city on her street alone.

“One, two, three, four, here, and two more back there on the next block,” said Laura Longoria.

[Related: Anti-crime crusader gunned down in Mexico]

The 36-year-old ran a convenience store in her working-class neighborhood in south Juarez until the owners closed shop, fed up with the tribute they were forced to pay to drug gangsters to stay in business.

Her family vowed to stick it out. But then came the kidnapping of a teen from a stationery shop across the street. After that, Longoria’s husband, Enrique Mondragon, requested a transfer from the bus company where he works.

“They asked, `where to,'” he recalled. “I said, `Anywhere.'”

No one knows how many residents have left the city of 1.4 million since a turf battle over border drug corridors unleashed an unprecedented wave of cartel murders and mayhem. Business leaders, citing government tax information, say the exodus could number 110,000, while a municipal group and local university say it’s closer to 230,000 and estimates by social organizations are even higher.

The tally is especially hard to track because Juarez is by nature transitory, attracting thousands of workers to high-turnover jobs in manufacturing, or who use the city across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, as a waystation before they slip north illegally.

[Related: Armored car sales on rise during Mexico drug war]

But its toll is everywhere you look. Barely a week goes by when Longoria and her husband don’t watch a neighbor move away. Then the vandals arrive, carrying off window panes, pipes, even light fixtures, until there’s nothing but a graffiti-covered shell, surrounded by yards strewn with rotting food or shredded tires. That could be what’s in store for Longoria’s three-room home of poured concrete if her husband’s transfer comes through.

Long controlled by the Juarez Cartel, the city descended into a horrifying cycle of violence after Mexico’s most-wanted kingpin, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, and his Sinaloa Cartel tried to shoot their way to power here beginning in 2008. President Felipe Calderon sent nearly 10,000 troops to restore order. Now, the Mexican army and federal authorities are going door-to-door, conducting an emergency census to determine just how many residents have fled.

Many people, however, refuse to answer their questions for fear authorities are simply collecting information about neighborhoods so they can begin extorting residents — just like the drug gangs. “Soon,” Longoria said, “there won’t be many people left to count.”

While many Juarez residents fleeing the violence seek out more peaceful points in Mexico, others have streamed across the border into El Paso, population 740,000, where apartment vacancies are down and requests for new utility services in recently purchased or rented houses have spiked, according to Mayor John Cook.

Massacres, beheadings, YouTube videos featuring cartel torture sessions and even car bombs are becoming commonplace in Juarez, where more than 3,000 people have been killed this year, according to the federal government, making it among the most dangerous places on earth.

El Paso, by contrast, has had three violent deaths — and one was a murder-suicide.

Juarez Chamber of Commerce President Daniel Murguia said at least 6,000 city businesses have closed so far this year, according to Mexican Interior Ministry figures. There is no data available on those shuttered amid last year’s and 2008 violence, however, or on scores of businesses targeted by arsonists.

Kathy Dodson, El Paso’s economic director, said the number of fees paid for new city business permits there have not increased dramatically, but Jose Luis Mauricio, president of a group for new Mexican business owners in El Paso known as “La Red,” or The Net, said membership has grown from nine in February to about 280 today.

“Maybe it’s a bit sad for Juarez, but these are business owners who are moving here because they have no choice,” said Mauricio, who leads weekly breakfasts for Mexican expatriates looking to set up businesses in El Paso.

One club member is a Mexican-American who owns a factory in Juarez but moved to El Paso with his family after he was kidnapped last year. The 50-year-old, who asked that his name not be published to avoid further repercussions, was held in a Juarez safe house — but managed to untie his hands and cry for help loud enough that neighbors called the Mexican army to rescue him.

“There’s a lot of people afraid. I don’t blame them. Even if they haven’t had a bad experience, they don’t want to be the next one to have one, so they run away,” said the factory owner. He said he will never move back to Juarez but hopes the violence will one day calm enough for him to visit.

“It’s a city that’s dying,” he said. “It’s out of control.”

Many of those who have not left want to, including Marta Elena Ramirez. She owns Restaurant Dona Chole, specializing in menudo, a clear soup made with beef stomach. Her cafeteria-style eatery is on the second floor of an indoor market of Mexican handicrafts.

Ramirez said sales are down 50 percent since 2007, when Americans used to head south for drinking and clubbing, or to stock up on Mexican knicknacks. Now they are too afraid to come.

Though she has held U.S. residency for 18 years, Ramirez lives in Juarez and had never considered moving — until now. She’s stopped paying rent on her restaurant and is looking for investors to help her start a street food cart in El Paso.

“I’ve always been a fighter, and this is my Juarez. I’ve always said, `No matter what happens, Juarez is mine,'” said the 65-year-old. “But too much has happened.”

As commerce in the city dries up, even Juarez residents who do not move north cross into El Paso more frequently for services no longer available in their neighborhoods and spend $220 million a year in El Paso, said Murguia.

“Here it’s a problem of opportunity, not just violence,” he said. “There are no jobs, and that means there are more people who are becoming hit men and criminals.”

Even for those not tied to drug trafficking, staying in Juarez means paying off extortionists — like a 43-year-old food wholesaler near the city’s center who provides everything from bulk dog food to beer that smaller stores use to stock their shelves.

In September 2009, associates from “La Linea,” enforcers for the Juarez Cartel comprised of hit men and corrupt police and soldiers, visited his store and said he would be required to pay 4,000 pesos — about $330 — a week “for protection.”

“They came to see me in a very friendly way,” said the business owner, who asked that his name and key details be omitted so he could not be identified. “Everyone is paying. Those who aren’t paying are out of business, even dead.”

As recently as 2008, he had 500 wholesale customers; now it’s down to 200. Two storeowners who used to do business with him have been gunned down in their stores over the last year, and a third shot dead in his kitchen. Business got so slow that his extortionists recently reduced his weekly payment to 2,500 pesos, about $205, but warned him never to miss a week.

Every week, the wholesaler receives a call in which a distorted voice provides a bank account number where money can be deposited but not withdrawn. He takes cash to indicated bank branches and makes deposits.

The wholesaler’s son-in-law was kidnapped early last year — the family put $230,000 on a debit card and exchanged it for his safe return. His store had also been burglarized previously. Since he began paying for protection, however, all crime around him has ceased and his customers have even stopped getting harassed by police for illegally parking in front of his business.

“At first, I used to say `this will pass,’ but now I’m resigned that there’s no solution,” said the wholesaler, who has applied for U.S. residency to move to El Paso.

Murguia said extortion payments are now so common that they’ve become known as “cobras del piso” or “floor charges” for doing business in Juarez — but that there’s no measure of how much payoffs cost business citywide per year because few admit to paying them.

Many familiar Juarez restaurants have shut down only to pop up anew on the U.S. side. The high-end Mexican eatery Maria Chuhchena closed its original location in Juarez and resurfaced in El Paso, though the restaurant maintains a branch in Juarez’s spiffy Campestre district. Another Juarez favorite, Aroma, was one of three eateries set ablaze by arsonists on a single night in June 2008 and now operates in El Paso.

[Related: Jailed sisters freed on one big condition]

Now parts of Juarez after sundown are all but deserted — even in the heart of downtown. Closed used car dealerships, taco and hamburger stands, pharmacies, ice cream parlors and muffler shops give way to a block of abandoned doctors’ and dentists’ offices, which stand forlornly next to a closed stereo outlet and across from an empty office supply store.

“Se renta” and “se vende,” signs offering retail space for rent or sale are everywhere, plastered to the shuttered pizzeria, the closed and looted furniture store, the defunct locksmith and the empty facade of “Jersey Mechanic.”

Other abandoned properties are tagged with a simple phrase in black spray paint: “How many more?”

Mexico Drug War Slideshow:Mexico Drug War

Finglas, Dublin: Man Critical Following Shooting Outside Pub: UPDATED

31 Dec

A man remains in a critical condition in hospital today after being shot at a pub on the north side of Dublin.

The shooting happened shortly after 8.30pm last night at the Cappagh House on Barry Road in Finglas.

Up to five shots were reported to have been fired at the injured man as he was leaving the premises. He is believed to have been hit four times in the upper body.

He was conscious when taken from the scene to Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown.

The victim, who is in his 40s, is from the Finglas area.

Gardaí stressed that their investigations were at a very early stage and that they were keeping an open mind on the motive for the attack.

This is the second time in a year that there has been a shooting at the same public house.

In January 2009, two men entered Cappagh House and shot a 24-year old man. He sustained minor injuries.

The scene was last night sealed off for technical examination. Detectives were speaking to a number of people at the scene and trying to identify and interview anyone else who may have been in the vicinity of the pub at the time of the shooting.

It was reported that the gunman may have left the scene in a Volkswagen car.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses or anyone with any information to contact them at 01 6667500. They have established an incident room at Finglas Garda station.


THE victim of a suspected Dublin gang-related gun attack remained in a serious condition in hospital last night after being shot three times on Thursday evening.

Gardaí are continuing to investigate the attack which occurred outside The Cappagh Nua public house on Barry Road in Finglas at approximately 8.30pm.

The 40-year-old man was standing outside the public house when a dark-coloured car, believed to a Volkswagen Estate, drove up.

The front seat passenger got out and fired a number of shots hitting the victim in the chest.

The gunman got back into the car which was driven off in the direction of Barry Avenue. The injured man was rushed to Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown.

Yesterday, investigating officers appealed to anyone who may have seen the dark coloured car prior to the shooting, or after the incident, or to any person who may have information, to contact the incident room at Finglas 01-6667500, or the Garda Confidential Line 1 800 666 111.

The shooting came at the conclusion of a another bloody year of gang-related violence.

In total, 2010 saw 23 gun murders compared with 19 in 2009.

The rate of gun murders in Ireland now runs at more than three times that of England and Wales with only one in eight cases concluding in a prosecution.

The continued high rate of gang-related violence has been linked to the recession and to falling incomes that have choked off public demand for so-called recreational drugs.

This is resulting in armed gangs attempting to assert their control in a declining market.

The high rate of gun murder came despite 2010 seeing a cooling down of gang feuds in Dublin’s Southside and in Limerick.

However, a vicious feud between gangs centred in Dublin’s north inner city, which has seen five murders, continued with the wounding of a man as recently as December 17 near Dublin Airport.

A large-scale confrontation between a criminal gang associated with dissident, armed republicans and other longer established drugs gangs on Dublin’s Northside directly resulted in one death during 2010 and threatens to worsen in the coming months.


Gardai believe they have recovered the getaway car used in the shooting of a man outside a pub in Dublin.

Car found in Dublin shooting probe Enlarge photo

The 40-year-old was shot and injured outside the Cappagh Nua public house in Barry Road, Finglas, on Thursday night.

A dark-coloured car, believed to be a Volkswagen estate, pulled up close to the victim and the front seat passenger got out and fired a number of shots, hitting him in the chest.

The car and gunman then sped off.

A black Volkswagon Golf Estate, with a 98D registration, was found by gardai in the Charlestown area of Finglas on Friday.

The injured man was taken to Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown.

Gardai in Finglas are appealing for anyone who witnessed the shooting, which happened at approximately 8.30pm, or saw the car before or after the incident to come forward in confidence.

Concern over third shooting in three days | 15/01/2009

An Garda Siochana

Dublin: Gardai Make Fresh Appeal Over Missing Woman – Blathnaid Timothy: *CORRECTED TEXT

30 Dec

Gardaí are continuing to search for missing person Blathnaid Timothy who was last seen more than two weeks ago.

CCTV footage - Blathnaid Timothy at the ATM

CCTV footage – Blathnaid Timothy at the ATM

CCTV footage - Blathnaid Timothy getting into a taxi

CCTV footage – Blathnaid Timothy getting into a taxi

Blathnaid Timothy - Missing since 14 December

Blathnaid Timothy – Missing since 14 December

Gardaí are continuing to search for missing person Blathnaid Timothy who was last seen more than two weeks ago.

The 33-year-old has been missing from her Smith Hall home in Camden Street since 14 December. She was last in her apartment at 10.30am on that day.

Gardaí say that she used a National Irish Bank ATM machine at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2, at about 8pm that evening.

They have released CCTV pictures of the last sightings of her in Dublin – one shows Blathnaid at an ATM and the other shows her getting into a dark coloured taxi on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay.

(Editor’s note: *The refrence made in this article to the EAST WALL has been DELETED following (confirmation) checks made with the Gardai – see comments).

Gardaí have appealed for the taxi driver to come forward with any information he may have.

They say he may have missed earlier appeals if he was away on holidays.

They do not believe her disappearance involved any criminal activity.

Anyone with information should contact Harcourt Terrace Garda Station on 01-6669500.


THE family of missing Blathnaid Timothy, 33, have pleaded for a taxi driver who picked her up on the night she disappeared to reveal where she was brought even if they wish to remain anonymous

The Galway woman went missing in Dublin two weeks ago and the family have requested that the driver contact the gardaí, using the force’s confidential phone line if they wish.

The call comes as Garda sources say they do not believe the driver is a suspect in the financial services professional’s disappearance.

Ms Timothy has not be seen or heard from since being caught on CCTV camera footage hailing a taxi on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay at 8pm on Tuesday, December 14 shortly after she withdrew €60 from an ATM.

Despite a garda and family campaign to locate the driver of the dark Mercedes taxi no contact has been made. Information is being distributed among immigrant communities in case the taxi driver has not be monitoring media and is unaware of the search for Ms Timothy.

Her family last week launched a flyer campaign in an effort to find Blathnaid.

Gardaí have appealed for anyone who knows of her movements between 10am and 8pm on the day she went missing to come forward.

Ms Timothy’s sister Aoife Murphy said her movements were “a little out of character for her,” on that day.

“She left her apartment without her phone, without her handbag, and it appears she didn’t have an overnight bag with her.”

The number for the Garda Confidential Line is 1800 666111.

Anyone with any information on Ms Timothy’s whereabouts is asked to contact Harcourt Terrace Garda Station on 01-666-9500.

  • Renewed appeal over missing woman
  • Gardaí appeal to trace missing woman
  • Mexico City: Drug Cartel Gunmen’s Shootout With Police Leave Five Dead – 13 Arrested

    30 Dec

    Javier Di Carlo, spokesperson for the Miguel Caballero company which specializes in the sale of protective clothing, models a weatherproof jacket fitt 

    Reuters – Javier Di Carlo, spokesperson for the Miguel Caballero company which specializes in the sale of protective …

    Mexico Drug War Slideshow:Mexico Drug War

    MEXICO CITY – Gunmen battled police in the northern state of Durango, leaving two bystanders, a federal agent and two drug cartel suspects dead, authorities reported Wednesday.

    Thirteen suspects were detained, including several former state policemen who allegedly worked for the Sinaloa cartel headed by fugitive drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman,” which is fighting the Zetas gang for control of the region.

    The suspects captured after Tuesday’s shootout allegedly oversaw drug trafficking through Durango, carried out extortions and paid bribes or threatened officials in the area, said federal police anti-drug chief Ramon Pequeno.

    Pequeno said the gunmen holed up in a house in the capital city of Durango on Tuesday and opened fire on federal agents with assault rifles, a .50-caliber sniper rifle and grenades. Federal agents returned fire.

    He said a woman aboard a passing bus was hit by a stray bullet and died, as did the bus driver. Pequeno said those bullets were fired by the suspects, and described the civilian deaths as “collateral damage.”

    Most of the suspects were wearing army-style camouflage shirts when they were detained, and police found other official-looking uniforms at the house. Two of those detained were women.

    Officials said one of the suspects, Ranulfo Ramirez Ruiz, goes by the alias “Guilligan,” an apparent reference to the 1960s television series Gilligan’s Island.

    Peckham, SE. London: One Teenager Shot Dead & Two Others Stabbed At Pelican Housing Estate – Three Arrested: UPDATED

    30 Dec


    A teenager murdered during a suspected gang battle has been described by friends as an “amazing talent”.

    Murdered teenager ‘amazing talent’ Enlarge photo

    A flood of online tributes named the south London shooting victim as 17-year-old Sylvester Da Donappa. The young man died after being shot in the head and chest by a gunman who chased him into a block of flats on the Pelican Estate in Peckham.

    More than 550 people joined a website on a social networking site showing photographs of the victim posing in jeans and T-shirt and a suit. The teenager, known as Vester, was described as a “star in the making”, a sportsman who often went to church.

    Police have not named the dead teenager but detectives believe his family name is different from that used by his friends.

    Iheb Fehri, 18, said: “Sylvester helped me through my first steps of training, he helped me lift my first weight, 75kg. He was an amazing guy, an amazing talent, he did not deserve this, he never did any of that bad stuff, always tried to help everybody. May you rest in peace.”

    Police found the youth dying from his injuries in a stairwell on the fourth floor of Heron House after police were called to a fight on Wednesday afternoon. The black youth, the 19th teenager to die violently in the capital in 2010, was seen banging on the front door of one flat as he tried to escape his attackers.

    Two other teenagers suffered stab wounds – a 17-year-old found in a nearby flat and an 18-year-old who attended King’s College Hospital with minor injuries.

    On Friday police arrested two further suspects, aged 18 and 17, at a home in Peckham over the murder. Three suspects, two aged 17 and a third aged 18, were arrested at the scene. The 18-year-old and one 17-year-old have been released and will face no further action.

    The second 17-year-old arrested at the scene has been released on police bail until a date in late January pending further inquiries.

    Footballer Rio Ferdinand, bought up less than a mile from the murder scene, called on the Government to do more for Britain’s vulnerable young men. Writing on Twitter, the Manchester United defender called on the Government to “sort this out please”.



    Footballer Rio Ferdinand has called on the Government to do more for Britain’s most vulnerable young men after a teenager was murdered less than a mile from where he was born.

    Rio speaks out over youth gun death Enlarge photo

    The England and Manchester United defender said he was shocked by news that a 17-year-old boy died after being shot in the neck and stabbed during a suspected gang clash in Peckham, south east London.

    Ferdinand was brought up on the Friary Estate, less than a mile from where residents said rival gang members armed with knives and a gun clashed on Wednesday afternoon.

    Writing on his Twitter feed, the 32-year-old footballer said Peckham was “again in the news for the wrong thing” and called on the Government to “sort this out please”. He said “a number of things need to change” and young men need real role models, good parenting, respect, drive, opportunities and a “goal in life” as well as something to do.

    Ferdinand added: “If the youth clubs etc were there before now then maybe some kids would have something to do (activities/sports etc) to keep them occupied. Parents to take some blame is the most common response, I agree to a certain extent but cutting funds for youth clubs etc doesn’t help.”

    The 17-year-old victim, the 19th teenager to die violently in the capital this year, was found bleeding to death in a stairwell on the fourth floor of Heron House on the Pelican Estate.

    Residents said the black youth was seen running through the block banging on the front door of one eighth floor flat as he tried to escape shortly after 4pm on Wednesday.

    Two other teenagers suffered stab wounds, a 17-year-old found in a flat in neighbouring Gannet House and an 18-year-old who attended King’s College Hospital with minor injuries.

    Detectives from Scotland Yard’s Trident unit, led by Detective Chief Inspector Gordon Allison, were investigating what sparked the violence.

    Three suspects, two aged 17 and a third aged 18, were arrested at the scene and are being questioned at south London police stations.


    Three people are being held by police after a teenager was shot dead and two youths were stabbed on a London housing estate.

    Three arrested after teen shot Enlarge photo

    Police found the 17-year-old gunshot victim in a stairwell at Heron House on the Pelican Estate in Peckham, south east London, at about 4.30pm on Wednesday following reports of an assault. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

    Officers also discovered a 17-year-old male at a nearby address in Gannet House suffering a stab wound. He was taken to a south London hospital where he is said to be in a stable condition.

    Following the discoveries, police were alerted to a third victim, an 18-year-old male, after he arrived at a separate south London hospital, also suffering from a stab wound. He was later discharged with minor injuries.

    “Officers are treating all three incidents as linked at this early stage and three males have been arrested in connection with the investigation,” said a Metropolitan Police spokesman.

    A large police cordon was put in place around the estate following the killing and teams of forensics officers began investigating the crime scenes for clues.

    Three held after youth shot dead

    Three Arrests After Gun Death And Stabbings

    Fatal Shooting And Double Stabbing On Estate

    Shot teen ‘was running from gunman’

    Shot youth ‘tried to escape gunman’

    Newcastle, Co. Dublin: Three Men Released Following Seizure Of 2m Cigarettes

    30 Dec

    Three men have been released after being questioned by gardaí in Dublin following the seizure of 2m cigarettes with an estimated street value of €860,000.

     Cigarettes - Estimated street value of €860,000
     Cigarettes – Estimated street value of €860,000

    Three men have been released after being questioned by gardaí in Dublin following the seizure of 2m cigarettes with an estimated street value of €860,000.

    Gardaí and customs officers made the seizure as the contraband cigarettes were being loaded onto a truck at Greenogue Business Park in Newcastle yesterday.

    The cigarettes entered the country in a container at Dublin Port a number of days ago

    The men, two aged 44 and the other aged 38, were arrested at the scene.

    Two trucks, a van and a car were also seized.

    Cigarettes worth €860,000 seized in Dublin