Mexican Drug Cartel Violence: Mexican Marines arrest presumed leader of Beltran Leyva Cartel – Sergio Villarreal Barragan taken into custody

Sergio Villarreal Barragan captured in Sunday raid officials say

Mexican marines captured Sergio Villarreal Barragan, a presumed leader of the embattled Beltran Leyva cartel who appears on a list of the country’s most-wanted fugitives, in a raid Sunday in the central state of Puebla, officials said.

The presumed capo known as “El Grande” did not put up any resistance when he was arrested along with two alleged accomplices, a Navy official told The Associated Press. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with department policy, said federal officials would announce the capture shortly.

Mr. Villarreal appears on a 2009 Attorney General’s Office list of Mexico’s most-wanted drug traffickers and has a reward of just over $2-million for his capture.

He is listed as one of the remaining leaders of the Beltran Leyva cartel, whose top capo, Arturo Beltran Leyva, was killed in December in a raid by marines outside Mexico City.

Drug Cratel Violence. Young Woman Murdered & Mutilated By Cartel

Mr. Villarreal’s capture comes about two weeks after the arrest of Edgar Valdez Villarreal, or “The Barbie,” another alleged capo linked to the Beltran Leyvas.

The once-powerful Beltran Leyva cartel split following the death of Arturo — known as the “Boss of Bosses” — which launched a brutal war for control of the gang involving mass execution and beheadings in once-peaceful parts of central Mexico. The fight pitted brother Hector Beltran Leyva and Villarreal against a faction led by Edgar Valdez Villarreal. Hector Beltran Leyva remains at large.

Mr. Villarreal’s capture is the fourth major blow delivered to drug cartels by Mexico’s government in the past year. First came the death of Arturo Beltran Leyva on Dec. 16, 2009, then soldiers killed the Sinaloa cartel’s No. 3 capo, Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel, on July 29. And on Aug. 30 federal police announced the capture of “The Barbie.”

Drug Cartel Victims - Decapitated Bodies Dumped in Plaza

More than 28,000 people have been killed in Mexico since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon launched a military offensive against the cartels soon after taking office.

In the central state of Morelos, police discovered nine bodies in clandestine graves Saturday in the same area where four more were recently found.

The Public Safety Department said in a separate statement that all 13 victims were believed to have been killed on the orders of “The Barbie” in his battle for control of the cartel.

Also Sunday, the military announced that it filed charges against four troops for the Sept. 5 shooting deaths of a man and his 15-year-old son along the highway linking the northern city of Monterrey to Laredo, Texas.

Authorities have said soldiers opened fire on the family vehicle when it failed to stop at a checkpoint, though relatives who were also in the car say they were shot at after they passed a military convoy.

The mother and wife of the two victims was also wounded in the shooting.

Cartel Violence - Decapitated Head Left in Plaza

A captain, a corporal and two infantrymen are in custody in military prison and have been charged with homicide, the Defence Department said in a statement.

Mexico’s military was already under scrutiny for this year’s killings of two brothers, ages 5 and 9, on a highway in Tamaulipas, a state bordering Nuevo Leon.

The National Human Rights Commission has accused soldiers of shooting the children and altering the scene to try to pin the deaths on drug cartel gunmen.

The army denies the allegations and says the boys were killed in the crossfire of a shootout between soldiers and suspected traffickers.

The scandal renewed demands from activists that civilian authorities, not the army, investigate human rights cases involving the military.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/americas/mexican-marines-arrest-presumed-leader-of-beltran-leyva-cartel/article1704715/?cmpid=rss1

Imam Feisal Addul Rauf Complies With NJ Judge’s Order – Documents Concerning Tenement Building Delivered To Court

Union City imam landlord complies with court order, gives papers on repairs to city officials

The attorney representing the imam at the center of the controversial proposal to build a mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero complied with a judge’s order yesterday to furnish proof to Union City officials that he is addressing tenant complaints in a building he owns here, according to The Jersey Journal.

City attorneys are reviewing hundreds of pages of documents the attorney for Feisal Addul Rauf turned over to the city yesterday regarding complaints at 2206 Central Ave., a 16-unit building where tenants have complained about issues ranging from a lack of heat to a bedbug infestation.

The city filed a lawsuit over the complaints against Rauf on Monday and, at a court hearing in Jersey City on Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Thomas Olivieri instructed Tomas Espinosa, Rauf’s attorney, to furnish the city proof by 4 p.m. yesterday that the issues raised by tenants, including a non-functioning fire-alarm system, was being addressed.

The next hearing in the case in scheduled for Sept. 23.

Albiez couldn’t say yesterday what problems the documents showed Rauf was addressing at the multi-family building.

Union City is seeking to put the building into custodial receivership, which would make an independent entity responsible for collecting rent and maintaining the building.

Read the full story in today’s Jersey Journal.

http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2010/09/union_city_imam_landlord_compl.html

Kelly: Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf accused of more code violations on Union City building

By MIKE KELLY
RECORD COLUMNIST
A funny thing happened Monday as the Muslim cleric behind the Islamic center near Ground Zero basked in the glow of a diplomatically polite forum at the Council on Foreign Relations in Manhattan.

Back in New Jersey, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was taken to court.

Union City officials say they are so fed up with what they call Rauf’s foot-dragging to repair dangerous code violations at a low-income apartment building that they want a judge to step in and appoint a special “custodial receiver” to run the place.

It was a day of dueling realities – and the surreal mystery about Rauf and who he really is.

Rauf, who lives in North Bergen, may fancy himself as a spiritual leader who dreams of building bridges between religions with a proposed $100 million Islamic center two blocks north of Ground Zero. But his slummy apartment building on Central Avenue in Union City is such a fire trap that the police department has now assigned cops to stand guard round-the-clock until Rauf fixes the fire alarms.

“Blessed are the peacemakers,” said Rauf, speaking in a soft voice inside the Council’s plush Park Avenue auditorium to an audience that included former National Security Council staffer Richard Haass and Ted Sorensen, the former speech writer for President John F. Kennedy.

On Central Avenue in Union City, Mayor Brian Stack had a decidedly different description for Rauf:

“He’s a slumlord,” Stack said.

As The Record reported last month, Rauf’s 16-unit Central Avenue building has been targeted with dozens of tenant complaints, from rats and bed bugs to broken lights and leaks.

But in recent days the problems at the building appear to have worsened.

Last Wednesday, as Rauf granted his first interview in months to CNN, Union City officials slapped him with 17 new code violations on the Central Avenue apartments. The city accused Rauf of not only failing to fix a variety of nagging problems but of not being responsive – or available for calls.

“We reached the end of our rope,” said Stack’s chief of staff, Mark Albiez. “There is a lack of responsibility.”

Then, on Friday, on the eve of the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Union City officials rushed again to Rauf’s building. PSE&G had shut off the electricity in the hallways. The reason: Rauf failed to pay a bill of almost $5,000, Stack said.

Not only were the hallways dark, but the electric-powered smoke detectors and fire alarms were not working. In other words, the building was now a fire trap.

When Union City officials persuaded PSE&G to restore electricity, they discovered yet another code violation – the fire alarms were not working anyway, even with electricity.

So beginning Friday at 4 p.m., a Union City police officer has been assigned to sit in a car outside Rauf’s building so he can pound on tenants’ doors and guide them to safety in case a fire breaks out.

The city promises to send Rauf the bill – roughly $1,500 a day, said Union City police Capt. Richard Molinari.

“I’m sure it’s a lot cheaper to have your alarms updated,” said Molinari.

Molinari’s words are one of the more profound understatements about Rauf and his strange habit of ignoring poor tenants while he manages to find time to rub shoulders with religious and political big wigs. But those words also frame a perplexing question about Rauf: How could a man who wants to do so much good behave so badly as a landlord?

Rauf did not respond to a request for comment at his office on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Reached on her cellphone, Rauf’s wife, Daisy Khan, who is also a partner in his real estate ventures, said, “We’re resolving everything.”

Really? Khan said she was unaware that Union City had filed a lawsuit on Monday in Hudson County, asking for a judge to name a custodial receiver to manage the Central Avenue apartment building.

“Defendants are clearly not operating the premises in a fiscally, socially and legally responsible manner,” wrote Union City attorney Christine Vanek in a brief accompanying the lawsuit.    

As Vanek was filing the lawsuit, Rauf did not even mention his slum problems as he spoke and answered questions at the Council on Foreign Relations. Indeed, what was curious about him was how he twisted his own reality.

“I am a typical New Yorker,” he began, not mentioning that he lives in a two-story home in North Bergen.

Then, when listing his occupations, Rauf mentioned he had been a “high school teacher, a salesman of industrial products and a struggling writer” – all true. But there was a major omission – that he has spent most of the last two decades as a real estate developer who, records show, was continually facing financial problems.

Was he being deceptive or just caught up in the hubris of the moment? Who knows?

“Let me begin by telling you my story,” Rauf told his Council audience, though he avoided any specifics about on-going negotiations end the dispute over his proposed Islamic Center.

Back in Union City, Yonaira Arias, who lives with her two sons and her mother in an apartment at Rauf’s Central Avenue building, said she was tired of stories – and promises and the talk about an Islamic Center. She just wants someone to plug the leaks in her ceiling

“Look at this,” Arias said, pointing to a water stain on the ceiling of her living room.

“And look at this,” she added, pointing to another leak in the bathroom.

“I heard he wants to spend $100 million in New York on his center,” Arias said as she gazed at a television that had been damaged by water. She turned and looked up again at the ceiling leak.

“He won’t fix anything here,” she said.

But Feisal Abdul Rauf wants to fix religious problems.

How nice.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/091310_Imam_Feisal_Abdul_Rauf_faces_code_violations_on_Union_City_building.html

Pope Benedict’s Visit To Britian: Five Algerians Arrested By Scotland Yard – Threat To Pope Alleged

A school-girl takes a photograph of Pope Benedict XVI with her phone at at St Mary's University College

The five Algerian men arrested Friday over a potential plot to harm the pope worked as cleaners in London and were about to start work on streets near where the Pontiff was due later in the day.

Sky News reported that the men were contractors for the environmental services company Veolia, and were detained at the company’s headquarters in the Westminster area of the British capital.

The men were about to leave the headquarters to start their day shift when police swooped.

Dr. Leith Penny, Westminster City Council’s Director for City Management, confirmed that the men worked for Veolia Environmental Services, which employ 650 “on-street staff to keep Westminster’s streets clean and free from rubbish.”

She added: “Veolia and Westminster City Council work closely with the relevant authorities to constantly ensure that all the people working on their behalf are subject to right to work checks as prescribed by the Home Office to assess their eligibility to work in the country.”

She continued; “We are confident that these checks are robust and we will continue to work with the police and other authorities during this investigation.”

Earlier Friday, a spokesman for Pope Benedict XVI said the Pontiff was “calm” and “happy” following the arrests.

“We are totally calm. The pope is happy with the trip,” Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office, told reporters.

He continued, “What we know is not much more than you know, but we can say that we are properly confident in the work of the police and Scotland Yard. The police have already said that there is no need to change the program of the pope.”

The men — aged 26, 27, 36, 40 and 50 — were detained by Scotland Yard detectives about 5.45am local time at a business address in central London “on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.”

Sky News reported that the detained men were Arabs, and more specifically of Algerian origin.

The Catholic Church in the U.K. quickly responded to the arrests, saying that the church also had “absolute confidence” in the security operation to protect the pope.

“We have absolute confidence in the security operation to protect both the Pope and the public,” a spokesperson from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said in a statement.

The statement continued, “The Pope is enjoying a wonderful visit, warmly welcomed wherever he goes. This morning [Friday] he has met with school children at the ‘Big Assembly’ and faith leaders from across the country at the multi faith event.”

70.000 Greet Pope Benedict In England

The five men were taken to a central London police station to be interviewed by detectives from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Counter Terrorism Command.

Police were searching the business premises Friday, as well as residential premises in north and east London. Police said initial searches failed to uncover any hazardous items.

“Today’s [Friday's] arrests were made after police received information. Following initial inquiries by detectives a decision was made to arrest the five men,” the Scotland Yard statement continued.

The arrests led to a review of the Pope’s security arrangements, but police were “satisfied that our current policing plan remains appropriate.”

Anti-terror police carried out a security sweep of Lambeth Palace — where the pope was due to meet Dr. Rowan Williams, the head of the Church of England later.

The Pope’s itinerary was not changed and there was no change to the U.K. terror threat level.

Pope Benedict's Outdoor Mass in London

The security operation to protect the Pope during his trip was expected to cost about £1.5 million ($2.3 million).

London’s Metropolitan Police Fixated Threat Assessment Center (FTAC) has been monitoring people who they believe could threaten the pope’s safety, including people suffering from mental instability.

Officers coordinated with the Vatican to discuss security arrangements for the pope’s visit.

The task was complicated by the Pontiff’s varied itinerary, which includes many sites around the U.K.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/international/five_men_arrested_in_uk_over_potential_IHngNBBwtoc3AsqORXkSXI

Five Street Cleaners Held Over ‘Pope Plot’

Five street cleaners have been arrested over a potential threat to the Pope, Sky News sources say.

Armed counter-terror officers swooped on the central London agency to which they were registered in the early hours of the morning.

The suspects, who are aged 26, 27, 36, 40 and 50, are being held and questioned under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Crowd listens to Susan Boyle while they await the arrival of Pope Benedict

The firm where the arrests were made is now being searched, as well as homes in north and east London.

Sky News crime correspondent Martin Brunt said he understood the men were North Africans employed by the agency to work for Westminster City Council.

He said they had been about to start a day shift that would have included cleaning streets around the House of Commons, where the Pope is due to speak, when they were arrested.

Brunt said: “I was at a briefing last week around the whole issue of the Pope’s security and the point was made then that there was no known threat or intelligence to suggest a plot against the Pope.

“What the police are dealing with today is something that has cropped up in the last 24 hours.”

Dr Leith Penny, Westminster City Council’s director for city management, said: “The UK’s security is obviously of critical importance and can never be taken for granted and so our congratulations must go to the police authorities for their swift action today.

“While police investigations are ongoing and no charges have been brought, we can confirm that the people at the centre of the investigation work for one of our contractors, Veolia Environmental Services, who employ 650 on-street staff to keep Westminster’s streets clean and free from rubbish.

“Veolia and Westminster City Council work closely with the relevant authorities to constantly ensure that all the people working on their behalf are subject to right to work checks as prescribed by the Home Office to assess their eligibility to work in the country.

“We are confident that these checks are robust and we will continue to work with the police and other authorities during this investigation.”

The Pope was told of the arrests this morning, but a spokesman for the Vatican confirmed the itinerary would not change.

Pope Benedict arrives to lead youth prayer vigil

“We are calm, the Pope is happy and we go on with the same joy we have had until now,” he said.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said: “Initial searches have not uncovered any hazardous items.

“Today’s arrests were made after police received information. Following initial inquiries by detectives, a decision was made to arrest the five men.

“Following today’s arrests the policing arrangements for the Papal visit were reviewed and we are satisfied that our current policing plan remains appropriate.”

A spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said: “We have absolute confidence in the security operation to protect both the Pope and the public.

“The Pope is enjoying a wonderful visit, warmly welcomed wherever he goes.”

http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/UK-News/Pope-Arrests-Five-Algerian-Street-Cleaners-Held-Over-Potential-Threat-To-Benedict-XVI-Sources-Say/Article/201009315732353?lpos=UK_News_Carousel_Region_0&lid=ARTICLE_15732353_Pope_Arrests%3A_Five_Algerian_Street_Cleane

UPDATE:  A sixth man — a 29-year-old — has been arrested at his home … no other details were immediately available.

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