Crime UPS employees allegedly ran massive drug shipment operation, evading authorities for a decade

22:45  27 november  2019
22:45  27 november  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

Australian, Dutch police break up massive ecstasy smuggling operation

  Australian, Dutch police break up massive ecstasy smuggling operation International police have broken up a huge drug smuggling operation preventing millions of ecstasy pills flooding into Australia, officials said Friday, as a minister claimed the drugs were timed to target holidaying teens. The joint Dutch-Australian operation seized $200 million worth of MDMA -- the key ingredient in ecstasy -- in the Netherlands and Belgium and led to charges against 11 people, including one Australian woman, officials said.

TUCSON —A group of United Parcel Service employees allegedly helped to import and traffic massive amounts of drugs and counterfeit vaping oils from Mexico during the past decade, part of a scheme that exploited a vulnerability in the company’s distribution system, according to police.

The lucrative operation at times involved moving thousands of pounds of marijuana and narcotics each week from narco-traffickers into the United States to destinations across the country, using standard cardboard boxes that were carefully routed through the private mail carrier’s trucking and delivery systems, authorities said. The cash the operation generated was used to buy opulent homes, vacations, properties and luxury vehicles, detectives said.

Kansas City-area ICE operation results in 21 arrests

  Kansas City-area ICE operation results in 21 arrests A two-day human trafficking and prostitution sting operation in the Kansas City, Mo., area last week led to 21 arrests-- including a suspect police say held a woman and her child hostage in their home for months, according to federal immigration authorities and a local report. © John Moore/Getty Images GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA - MAY 29: An ICE agent with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), watches as Guatemalan police investigate the scene after detaining a suspected human trafficker on May 29, 2019 in Guatemala City. Homeland Security agents accompanied Guatemalan police on an early morning raid, the first since Acting U.S.

Four UPS employees have been charged with drug trafficking in state court, and court records show that at least 11 people — including two UPS supervisors and drivers — have been arrested in the past two weeks on a slew of state charges stemming from the decade-long investigation by a task force of local, state and federal law enforcement.

Subscribe to the Post Most newsletter: Today’s most popular stories on The Washington Post

Investigators from the Counter Narcotics Alliance said accused ringleader Mario Barcelo — a 20-year UPS employee and dispatch supervisor — used a simple method to obscure the origin and destination of drug shipments, a tactic they worry could be replicated by other UPS employees and other drug-trafficking organizations.

From King Clumsy to Queen Dream, more than 60 alleged East Coast Latin Kings members arrested in ‘Operation Throne Down’

  From King Clumsy to Queen Dream, more than 60 alleged East Coast Latin Kings members arrested in ‘Operation Throne Down’ Federal officials in Boston are announcing federal racketeering, drug and firearms charges against dozens of alleged Latin King members and associates on the East Coast. The indictment released Thursday names more than 60 people tied to the gang’s East Coast network. At least 46 of those people were charged with racketeering and 17 of those were charged with drug-related offenses. Others faced charges for being felons in possession of firearms and ammunition.

Authorities said Barcelo, 49, used his position as a supervisor in the Tucson distribution facility to ensure known drug shipments were loaded onto the correct trucks and were delivered on time to their destinations without any interference or drug interdiction, bypassing security measures the employees knew well.

Attempts to reach Barcelo were unsuccessful and it is unclear if Barcelo has a lawyer, as none was listed on publicly available court records in the case.

Tucson-area law enforcement had been tracking Barcelo since at least 2009, but Kaderly said detectives were frustrated for years that the company did not work more “proactively” with them to intercept and prevent the suspected criminal behavior. Barcelo was arrested on Nov. 13.

“He’s been able to provide this service to drug traffickers without being detected both internally and externally by law enforcement for years,” said Tucson Police Sgt. William Kaderly. “They’ve been doing it for so long that they were truly comfortable that they were never going to get caught.”

Justice Dept. charges Russian hacker behind the Dridex malware

  Justice Dept. charges Russian hacker behind the Dridex malware U.S. prosecutors have brought computer hacking and fraud charges against a Russian citizen, Maksim Yakubets, who is accused of developing and distributing Dridex, a notorious banking malware used to allegedly steal more than $100 million from hundreds of banks over a multi-year operation. © Provided by TechCrunchPer the unsealed 10-count indictment, Yakubets is accused of leading and overseeing Evil Corp, a Russian-based cybercriminal network that oversaw the creation of Dridex. The malware is often spread by email and infects computers, silently siphoning off banking logins.

UPS said in a statement that the company is cooperating with law enforcement officials but that the company is “not at liberty to discuss the details of the arrests as this is an ongoing investigation.”

The Arizona Attorney General’s office, which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment. Some of the defendants were arraigned this week but prosecutors have withheld specific details of the investigation from public court record as more arrests are expectedsoon. Some of the indictments have been sealed, police said.

Barcelo and his alleged associates expanded the operation over time, transitioning from delivering marijuana to dealing in more valuable drugs and vaping pens. Similar black market vaping pens and oil have been linked to the deadly outbreak of lung disease that has sickened nearly 2,300 people and killed 47 nationwide.

The drug ring, which allegedly learned how to bypass all security systems, was shipping several thousand pounds of drugs a week at the peak of its operation, increasing profits the further east the packages were delivered, Kaderly said.

Justice Dept. charges Russian hacker behind the Dridex malware

  Justice Dept. charges Russian hacker behind the Dridex malware Anna Faris is expressing her gratitude following Thanksgiving.

“Their sales pitch was that because of who Barcelo was at UPS, he could make sure your package will make it out without anyone finding it,” he said. “He had face time with traffickers.”

In one instance in 2017, investigators said they learned of a shipment but were prevented from entering a UPS distribution facility in Tuscon to investigate and intercept it. UPS spokesman Matthew O’Connor declined to provide details about the case, referring questions back to “law enforcement personnel.”

The company also declined to answer questions about the suspected “vulnerability,” as police described it, in their internal delivery system that the alleged conspirators used to carry out their enterprise.

Charging documents obtained by The Washington Post show progress in the case did not come until 2017, when detectives identified some of the UPS drivers who were allegedly involved in the scheme and got investigators inside UPS’ fraud and security divisions to help.

Undercover officers posing as drug traffickers contacted Barcelo’s associates to ship parcels containing sham cocaine and cash during several months in 2018 and 2019. Investigators also placed GPS trackers inside the boxes, documenting the packages’ movement from the homes of the individuals charged in the conspiracy to the UPS hub and out for delivery.

House to vote next week on Democratic drug pricing bill

  House to vote next week on Democratic drug pricing bill Democrats announced Thursday morning the House will vote next week on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Lower Drug Costs Now Act, recently renamed to honor the late Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings. © Provided by Washington ExaminerThe bill would allow the government to negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies in the hopes of lowering prices of the most expensive medications, including insulin. Pelosi’s bill would allow negotiations for up to 250 drugs. The bill would also penalize drug companies that refuse to come to the negotiating table.

Police also tapped the phones of UPS employees and collected video footage of the group as they coordinated using the WhatsApp messaging app for the loading, handling, shipping and retrieval of cash and boxes from undercover agents, authorities said.

Along with Barcelo, UPS supervisor Gary Love, 40 and drivers Michael Castro, 34, and Thomas Mendoza, 47, face money laundering, drug possession and drug distribution charges. Seven others are facing charges related to the shipping of the drugs and operating stash houses for the illicit materials.

One defendant, a 26-year-old, is suspected of being a member of a larger drug-trafficking organization in Mexico; he and an associate charged undercover agents $2,000 to accept a fake drug shipment and deliver it into the United States.

Surveillance of Barcelo, including wiretapping and undercover work, led police to Raul Garcia Cordova, 47, who was arrested Nov. 21 on more than a dozen charges. Police raided his mansion and seized a boat, a Chevrolet Corvette, and a Range Rover. Investigators found 50,000 counterfeit vaping pens in a storage locker, officials said.

Local television stations captured footage of the SWAT operations at Garcia Cordova’s home last week as police hauled away the vehicles along with ledgers, cash and marijuana found hidden under a Jacuzzi. Police allege that the man financed the operation.

“It was purely greed-driven,” Kaderly said. The UPS employees “make nearly six-figures with benefits, but at some point, greed just took over.”


a bus that is parked on the side of a building: A UPS delivery truck sits parked as boxes are delivered to customers in New York City. Authorities allege UPS employees in Arizona were part of a major drug shipping operation that sent marijuana, cocaine and counterfeit vaping oils across the country.© Spencer Platt/AFP/Getty Images A UPS delivery truck sits parked as boxes are delivered to customers in New York City. Authorities allege UPS employees in Arizona were part of a major drug shipping operation that sent marijuana, cocaine and counterfeit vaping oils across the country.

Australia seizes record-breaking $830 million in methamphetamine and heroin .
Authorities in Australia have seized a record-breaking haul of methamphetamine worth $820 million, hidden inside stereo speakers shipped from Thailand, the country's federal police and border force announced. © Australina Federal Police Drugs seized by Australian authorities Wednesday, December 4 are seen in this handout photograph. The massive bust fetched 1.596 metric tons (1.75 US tons) of meth -- the largest haul on record in the country -- worth almost 1.2 billion Australian dollars ($820 million). A further 37 kilograms (37.4 pounds) of heroin worth 18.5 million Australian dollars ($12.6 million) was also seized.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

usr: 3
This is interesting!