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October 21, 2013 at 1:08 PM
A convicted Bulgarian fugitive and human trafficker, responsible for the deaths of 18 Sri Lankan nationals who suffocated in the back of a cargo truck in 1995, has been arrested in Kirkland, where he had been working as a long-haul trucker, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
Members of the Marshals-led Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force arrested 58-year-old Plamen Vladimirov Trifonov last week, according to a federal court docket. He is being held pending a Nov. 1 extradition and detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge James Donohue.
Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal James Adkins, who commands the task force, said Trifonov was arrested after federal law-enforcement authorities determined he had been living in the Seattle area. Adkins said Trifonov immigrated illegally to the U.S. in 2005 and was arrested by U.S. Immigration authorities in 2006. Trifonov was facing deportation, and Adkins said “nobody had a clue” that he had been convicted in 2002 and sentenced to eight years in prison in Bulgaria. At the time, Adkins said, it would not have mattered since Buglaria and the U.S. have only had an extradition treaty since 2009.
November 7, 2012 at 4:36 PM
A Canadian helicopter pilot who flew loads of drugs into the U.S. from Canada for organized criminal groups has been given a 10-year prison sentence.
Henry Rosenau, 61, was a helicopter pilot who flew dozens of loads of marijuana and cocaine into the U.S., often flying dangerously low to avoid radar detection and landing in remote forest clearings as far away as Montana.
Rosenau was arrested as part of “Operation Frozen Timber,” which resulted in the indictments of more than 40 people suspected in drug smugging operations between 2000 and 2005. Rosenau pleaded guilty on the eve of his second trial for the charges. The first ended in a hung jury.
When he was arrested, Canadian authorities found found a loaded handgun, night vision goggles, two satellite telephones, and a GPS device programed with known landing sites used by the marijuana traffickers. Video from the Frozen Timber investigation is available here: http://www.dvidshub.net/video/144923/operation-frozen-timber
Since his indictment in May 2006, Rosenau fought extradition from Canada and had filed lawsuits in Canada against witnesses, law enforcement and prosecutors to try to derail the prosecution. As part of his plea agreement, Rosenau agreed to dismiss those lawsuits and admitted they were frivolous.
During the course of the operation, U.S. and Canadian authorities intercepted more than 17 drug loads, including one shipment in February 2005 of 169 kilograms of cocaine.
Authorities say the smugglers planned to use a helicopter to smuggle the cocaine from a landing site in the Okanogan National Forest to British Columbia. Another significant seizure in the case came in September 2005, when agents followed two courier vehicles to a Puyallup residence and recovered more than 1,200 pounds of marijuana.
January 9, 2012 at 5:04 PM
From The Associated Press:
A man convicted of conspiring to smuggle 20 tons of cocaine into the United States was sentenced today to 30 years in prison.
Hector Fabio Zapata Alavares of Colombia is the third and final defendant sentenced in the case in federal court in Seattle. The 31-year-old worked with a crime ring that had a contract to smuggle massive quantities of cocaine produced by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, or FARC.
An undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent posed as a Seattle shipping executive who offered to smuggle the cocaine in a vessel’s ballast tanks. The agent received a down payment of nearly $500,000 in 2007.
The other two defendants received sentences of 34 and 28 years.
Seattle U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan called the scope of the conspiracy staggering. The cocaine was worth an estimated $600 million.
November 14, 2011 at 9:40 AM
Charlie Mandigo is not a household name, but the former Special Agent in Charge for Seattle’s FBI office is well-known with law enforcement. In his 27-year FBI career, he led investigations against Ahmed Ressam, “Millennium Bomber” caught at Port Angeles, white supremacists in North Idaho and countless drug smuggling cases.
Now retired and in the private sector, Mandigo believes it is time to change course on the 74-year-old federal ban on marijuana and has endorsed a proposed state initiative, I-502, which would legalize small amounts of marijuana and regulate sales in state-run pot stores. Mandigo describes drug laws as “discretionary” public policy that are too expensive and carry to many unintended consequences.
In a statement, Mandigo writes:
There is no question the time has come when government must curtail discretionary programs. If the resources were available, continued enforcement of criminal laws for possession and use of small amounts of marijuana might be a discretionary function of government. But we have gone beyond the point where the resources are available or there is a justifiable cost-benefit to society. There must be an end to sacred cows.
Mandigo joins a growing group of retired federal law enforcement to endorse the New Approach campaign attempting to send I-502 to the state Legislature in January. Former U.S. Attorney for Seattle Kate Pflaumer, a Clinton appointee, joined a successor in that office, John McKay, a George W. Bush appointee, as a New Approach sponsor over the weekend.
In an interview, Mandigo said he endorsed the measure because of New Approach’s conservative approach to marijuana regulation. The complex, 64-page initiative would not strip away police authority for drug smuggling or street-level dealing, and keeps the existing ban on marijuana possession for persons under 21. “ I’m not aware of any case I worked on that this law would have changed,” he said. He said he does not condone the use of illegal drugs.
But he believes it’s time to have a frank discussion about the costs of marijuana enforcement. “Governments, local, state and federal, need to sit down and be realistic about what money they have, and what do they want to spend it on. This is one that law enforcement can sit down and decide if we want to spend money on. Just because they can spend money on (marijuana enforcement), it doesn’t mean we should.”
Mandigo, a Cornell graduate, served as congressional liaison to former FBI director Louis Freeh, and understands the politics of drug enforcement well. He, like McKay, said if I-502 passes, it would not unravel the federal-state conflict. “Should I-502 pass, it doesn’t give anyone automatic immunity. But it makes a very strong political statement that a consensus of opinion.”
According to the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, other former federal law enforcement officials who have come out for marijuana legalization include former Illinois U.S. Attorney Thomas Sullivan; the former head of the FBI’s Jacksonville, Fla., office, Mike Kahoe, and senior federal judge John L. Kane of Denver.
If I-502 gathers enough signatures – as expected – it will go to the 2012 state Legislature, where lawmakers can pass it or kick it to the November 2012 general election.
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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