Topic: Jenny Durkan
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September 30, 2013 at 3:33 PM
The Seattle Police Department and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Seattle have been awarded a $750,000 federal grant to continue work combatting human trafficking of both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, according to a news release issued Monday by U.S. District Attorney Jenny Durkan.
The money — $500,000 to the police department and $250,000 to IRC’s Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network — will be used for criminal investigations and to provide services to victims, including housing, medical and mental health care and support for those involved in prosecutions against traffickers.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Justice was first awarded to SPD and IRC nine years ago, but up until July 2012, the funds could only be used to help foreign nationals involved in forced labor or the sex trade, said Kathleen Morris, program director of the Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network. Now, the money can go to aid all victims of human trafficking in Western Washington, she said.
“It’s been going up exponentially, each and every year,” said Morris, adding that more people requested help in the first half of 2013 than in all of 2012. “Anyone exploited in this way deserves services.”
Morris’ organization has partnered with local community groups to provide services to human-trafficking victims, including API Chaya and YouthCare. Victims, both domestic and foreign, are forced into prostitution and domestic-servitude; the construction and restaurant industries are also hotbeds for labor exploitation and Morris has seen an increase in the trafficking of boys from Central America who are brought here and forced to sell drugs.
“It’s been such a long-hidden crime but now, a lot more people are paying attention and learning about this issue,” she said.
June 3, 2013 at 3:52 PM
The Associated Press
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle says six people have been arrested following an investigation into a ring that exported restricted firearm parts from the United States to Thailand.
U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan’s office says the arrests happened over the weekend, including one at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and another in Bellevue. The other arrests occurred in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Berkeley, Calif.
The group is charged with conspiracy to violate the Arms Control Export Act. Prosecutors say that between 2011 and 2013, the group concealed weapons parts in cargo heading to Asia under misleading labels. Prosecutors allege the group is responsible for at least 240 shipments.
Durkan’s office described 42-year-old Naris Lekhakul as the ring’s leader. He was arrested at Sea-Tac Airport after returning from Thailand.
October 23, 2012 at 3:44 PM
A three-month investigation into gang violence, and drug and firearms sales in South King County and South Seattle resulted in the arrest of 33 people and the seizure of 28 firearms, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The so-called “Hot Spot” initiative also resulted in the seizure of 14 pounds of methamphetamine, as well as cocaine and heroin, from the targeted communities of South Seattle, Kent, Renton and Tukwila, U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said today.
“Drug trafficking, and the violent crime it spawns, is not limited to our urban areas,” Durkan said in a news release. “We must make our neighborhoods places for people to thrive. ‘Hot spot’ initiatives such as this seek to identify and root out the bad actors who are making our communities unsafe.”
The initiative was led by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement and included local law enforcement. agencies, including Kent and Seattle police.
Kent police Chief Ken Thomas said that officers went undercover and worked with informants during the course of the investigation.
Thomas believes the arrests will have a big impact on the area because law enforcement “went after primarily upper level gang members.”
“We need prevention and intervention to deal with the gang problem, but we need these upper-level, worst of of the worst, bad guys off the streets for these programs to really work,” Thomas said.
Last year, federal and local law enforcement agencies conducted a similar inititative in White Center after the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council and the White Center/Delridge Safety Coalition complained about crime in the area. That operation resulted in more than 50 arrests, including 23 people charged federally with firearms, drug-dealing and drug-possession offenses; the seizure of 51 pounds of methamphetamine and 12 pounds of crack and powder cocaine; and the seizure of 68 firearms.
September 7, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Two Lynnwood brothers, who helped lead a Mexico-based drug smuggling and distribution ring, were each sentenced to over a decade in prison this morning in U.S. District Court in Seattle, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Orlando Rocha, 32, was sentenced to 17 years in prison and his brother, Everardo Rocha, 28, received a 14-year sentence. Both men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and heroin, and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. The older Rocha also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.
Both men are Mexican citizens who will be deported following their prison terms.
The investigation of the drug ring was launched in 2009 by the South Snohomish County Narcotics Task Force, which was later joined by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The agencies used a wiretap of cell phones used by the ring to learn about the flow of drugs and cash, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Members smuggled drugs across the border from Mexico, to a stash house in Arizona. The drugs were then transported to the Seattle area, and elsewhere, for distribution.
“These brothers, and other family members, led a group trafficking large quantities of extremely pure and deadly heroin and methamphetamine,” U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said in a news release. “These drugs not only destroy lives, families and communities, they are part of a culture of violence impacting both the U.S. and Mexico. At every location the conspirators controlled in Washington, Arizona and Alabama, they had drugs and firearms with very dangerous, high caliber ammunition.”
The brothers were among 18 members of the drug ring indicted in August 2011. A total of 15 have now been sentenced.
August 23, 2012 at 4:37 PM
The Drug Enforcement Administration mailed letters Thursday to 23 medical marijuana businesses in Western Washington, warning they could be prosecuted and the properties seized if they are operating within a school zone.
“Please take the necessary steps to discontinue the sale and/or distribution of marijuana…within 30 days,” read the letter, signed by Matthew G. Barnes, special agent in charge of the Seattle office.
Neither the DEA nor the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which supported the action, would release the names of the 23 dispensaries or disclose which cities they’re located in.
Barnes said in a statement that “additional notifications” will be sent “as necessary.”
“I am confident that once notified of the ramifications and penalties associated with renting a property for marijuana distribution purposes, property owners will take appropriate steps to rectify the situation on their own. The DEA will not turn a blind eye to criminal organizations that attempt to use state or local law as a shield for their illicit drug trafficking activities,” Barnes said in a statement.
The letters, which threaten property forfeiture and criminal prosecution, follow similar federal action against medical marijuana operations in Eastern Washington, Northern California and Colorado targeting storefronts near schools. In other states, the federal actions at times have clashed with state or local laws allowing dispensaries, flaming renewed debate in the 16 states and the District of Columbia which allow medical marijuana.
“We need to enforce one message for our students: drugs have no place in or near our schools,” the U.S. Attorney for Western Washington, Jenny Durkan, said in a statement.
Washington’s medical marijuana law doesn’t authorize dispensaries. An effort to legalize and regulate them passed the state Legislature last year, but was vetoed by Gov. Chris Gregorie, leaving Washington with one of the most unregulated medical marijuana industries in the country.
Gregoire’s veto left intact a law that allows 10 patients to band together to form a 45-plant “collective garden.” Some medical marijuana storefronts have used a broad interpretation of that provision to form networks of collective gardens, with off-the-street patients signing into an open slot in a garden.
The state law allows local governments to regulate medical marijuana operations. Seattle, home to more than 140 medical marijuana-related businesses, lightly regulates them, requiring only basic business business licenses and compliance with city building safety codes.
Earlier this week, three people involved in running two Seattle dispensaries pleaded guilty to federal drug-dealing charges following raids on several storefronts in November.
The raids come as Washington voters will be considering legalizing, taxing and regulating recreational marijuana use. Durkan hasn’t spoken out on the measure, Initiative 502, except to remind voters that marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
April 26, 2012 at 11:23 AM
A Snohomish County woman was honored this morning by U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan for her role in helping bring down a prolific ATM “skimming” ring.
The woman’s 911 call to Bothell police in December 2010, after seeing men withdrawing large amounts of cash from a Canyon Park ATM, set in motion an investigation that led to the dismantling of the ring, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
After the woman called 911, three Bothell officers on their lunch break at the same Canyon Park shopping center also observed similar suspicious activity. Officers arrested one suspect in the car reported by the woman and a second suspect was apprehended by detectives as he tried to leave the area on foot.
The initial investigation determined that both men were Romanian nationals who were in the U.S. illegally. Police also recovered evidence of their skimming activity, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The arrests led authorities to the leaders of the ring, which accounted for more than a million dollars in losses to banks and consumers.
The woman who was honored has asked to remain anonymous.
“As a victim of skimming, I know the mix of anger, frustration and helplessness you feel when you discover someone has raided your bank account,” Durkan said during a news conference at the Bothell Police Department. “While I was victimized by a different theft ring, I know the quick work in this case saved many other people from becoming victims, and helped bring the defendants to justice.”
Skimming involves the placement of tiny electronic devices on ATMs to steal credit- or debit-card information from customers. Such devices — some the size of a postage stamp and capable of holding information from thousands of cards — usually are coupled with hidden “pinhole” cameras focused on ATM keypads to record personal-identification numbers (PINs).
The thieves synchronize the data from the skimmer with the video to match PINs to the bank-card data. They then forge new cards and use the PINs to access and drain customers’ accounts.
To see how skimming works and learn how to avoid being victimized, click here.
February 8, 2012 at 12:27 PM
A Lakewood police officer who served as the treasurer of police union was arrested today on 10 federal felonies alleging he embezzled more than $120,000 from a fund intended for the families of the four Lakewood officers killed by Maurice Clemmons in 2009.
Skeeter Manos, 34, of Dupont, was arrested at Lakewood City Hall and is scheduled to make his initial appearance on the charges in U.S. District Court in Tacoma at 2:30 today.
“This is a sad day for our community,” U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said in a news release. “These acts betrayed the memory of our fallen heroes, their families, fellow officers and all who supported the fund.”
According to the criminal complaint, Manos allegedly set up a secret bank account where he diverted approximately $151,000 intended for the families of the slain officers. He allegedly used about $120,000 from the account for purchases at Costco, Home Depot, Alaska Airlines tickets to Las Vegas and for cash withdrawals at various casinos.
Manos was treasurer of the Lakewood Police Independent Guild.
To read the charging documents, click here.
The stolen money was a portion of more than $3.2 million the public contributed for the benefit of the families of the slain officers, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“It’s disgusting and it makes me sick to my stomach,” said Bret Farrar, chief of the Lakewood Police Department. “I’ve been putting criminals in jail a long time. This is just another criminal that we’re gonna throw in jail and that we’re gonna prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.”
On Nov. 29, 2009, Clemmons fatally shot Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold and Gregory Richards as they sat in the Forza Coffee shop in Parkland. In an exchange of gunfire, Clemmons was wounded by Richards.
Clemmons eluded police for nearly two days until he was shot and killed by a Seattle police officer.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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