5 charged in human trafficking case after 18 immigrants are rescued in Houston

(CNN) Houston police arrested five men in a human trafficking investigation for allegedly holding 18 Latin American immigrants for ransom, police said.

The suspects face multiple charges, including engaging in organized crime by kidnapping, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said Friday.

The investigation started June 5 after a family told police a relative was being held against his will. Kidnappers were demanding $4,700 for the man’s release, in addition to $300 that had been paid to someone in Mexico to help bring him into the country, police said in a criminal complaint.

The kidnappers told the family that the man would be killed if the money was not paid, the complaint said.

Officers responded to where they believed the victim was held, and they arrested several suspects and rescued two victims, Acevedo said.

Guns, cash and cocaine recovered

Police learned of a “stash house” with more victims and found 16 more victims in “deplorable conditions,” he said.

“Our investigation determined that women were held captive and sexually assaulted for 25 days,” he said. The victims were taken to hospitals after they were rescued.
Detectives also recovered guns, more than $10,000, and 19 grams of cocaine, police said.

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What It Costs to Be Smuggled Across the U.S. Border

MATAMOROS, Mexico — Shortly before dawn one Sunday last August, a driver in an S.U.V. picked up Christopher Cruz at a stash house in this border city near the Gulf of Mexico. The 22-year-old from El Salvador was glad to leave the one-story building, where smugglers kept bundles of cocaine and marijuana alongside their human cargo, but he was anxious about what lay ahead.

The driver deposited Mr. Cruz at an illegal crossing point on the edge of the Rio Grande. A smuggler took a smartphone photograph to confirm his identity and sent it using WhatsApp to a driver waiting to pick him up on the other side of the frontier when — if — he made it across.

The nearly 2,000-mile trip had already cost Mr. Cruz’s family more than $6,000 and brought him within sight of Brownsville, Tex. The remaining 500 miles to Houston — terrain prowled by the United States Border Patrol as well as the state and local police — would set them back another $6,500.

It was an almost inconceivable amount of money for someone who earned just a few dollars a day picking coffee beans back home. But he wasn’t weighing the benefits of a higher-paying job. He was fleeing violence and what he said was near-certain death at the hands of local gangs.

“There’s no other option,” Mr. Cruz said. “The first thought I had was, ‘I just need to get out of here at whatever cost.’”

The stretch of southwest border where he intended to cross has become the epicenter of the raging battle over the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown. One clear consequence of the tightening American border and the growing perils getting there is that more and more desperate families are turning to increasingly sophisticated smuggling operations to get relatives into the United States.

Mr. Cruz’s story provides an unusually detailed anatomy of the price of the journey. The money paid for a network of drivers who concealed him in tractor-trailers and minibuses, a series of houses where he hid out, handlers tied to criminal organizations who arranged his passage, and bribes for Mexican police officers to look the other way as he passed.

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FBI Joins International Campaign to Stop Money Mules

The ask comes through a job posting or from someone you meet online. It seems simple and harmless enough: provide your bank account information and allow money transfers to flow into your account. Then move the money elsewhere and maybe earn a little cash for the trouble. Easy, painless, profitable. Right?

Wrong. You are likely aiding criminals by acting as a money mule, which can land you in prison and permanently damage your financial standing.

The FBI is joining with law enforcement partners worldwide to raise awareness of and curtail this illegal movement of funds, which is fueling the growth of crimes across the globe.

The FBI defines a money mule as a person who transfers illegally acquired money on behalf of or at the direction of another. Money mules often receive a commission for the service or provide assistance because they believe they have a trusting or romantic relationship with the individual who is asking for help.

Much of the money moved through these third-parties is stolen through Internet-enabled frauds, thefts, and scams. Drug trafficking and human trafficking are also common sources of the money. While some money mules may be genuinely unaware of their involvement in a larger criminal scheme, many fully understand they are moving money attained from unlawful activities. All mules, whether unaware or complicit, are committing a crime.

“Money mules are needed to help move stolen money from country to country, avert the scrutiny of financial institutions, and mask the identity of the individuals involved in these largely Internet-enabled crimes,” said Special Agent James Abbott of the Bureau’s Money Laundering, Forfeiture, and Bank Fraud Unit at FBI Headquarters. “Being able to easily move the profits from these crimes contributes to their rapid growth and threatens the safety and security of everyone who has a presence online.”

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Woman in her 80s caught smuggling $870,000 worth of heroin

An older woman with United States citizenship attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border on Wednesday with 92 pounds of heroin in her car, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The 81-year-old woman attempted to enter the U.S. at the Tecate port of entry — located southeast of San Diego — with the drugs, which have an estimated street value of over $870,000, CBP reports.

The drugs were hidden inside a 2011 Chrysler 200 and were found by a K-9 team, according to a news release.

Cartels are known to manipulate people into carrying drugs over the border.

“CBP officers are aware of the many tactics used by the cartels and remain ever vigilant to stop anyone attempting to smuggle narcotics,” the release quotes Pete Flores, CBP director of field operations in San Diego.

One of those tactics: Drug cartels sometimes deceive elderly people into unknowingly carrying drugs across international borders, luring them with false promises and lies. The growing trend was documented in a 2016 New York Times report.

The woman was arrested and turned over to Homeland security officers. Her vehicle was seized, according to CBP.

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Your face is your passport – Facial Recognition

Australia is a bloody long way from the rest of the world. Fly from Los Angeles to Sydney and you’ll be in the air for 13 hours. Tack on five more if you’re starting in New York. And if you’re coming from London, your feet won’t touch the ground for about a day.

The point being, by the time you land in Australia, you’ll be sick of traveling. You’ll want to get out of the airport and to the country’s excellent beaches as quickly as possible.

That’s why Australia’s Department of Home Affairs is at the forefront of smart border control technology. In 2007, the border agency introduced SmartGates, which read your passport, scan your face and verify who you are at the country’s eight major international airports. Built by Portugal’s Vision-Box, the gates get you out of the airport and into Australia with minimum fuss.

Australia wants to make that process even faster.

During May and June 2017, the country tested the world’s first “contactless” immigration technology at Canberra International Airport. The passport-free facial recognition system confirms a traveller’s identity by matching his or her face against stored data. A second trial is set to start in Canberra soon.

Biometrics aren’t just being used at border control. Sydney Airport has announced it’s teaming up with Qantas, Australia’s largest airline, to use facial recognition to simplify the departure process.

Under a new trial, passengers on select Qantas international flights can have their face and passport scanned at a kiosk when they check in. From then on, they won’t need to present their passport to Qantas staff — they’ll be able to simply scan their face at a kiosk when they drop off luggage, enter the lounge and board their flight at the gate. Travellers will still need to go through regular airport security and official immigration processing, but all of their dealings with Qantas can be handled with facial recognition.

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Augmented Reality Training Brings Nuclear Security to the Next Level

For most, augmented reality is a type of game—one where they can fight bad guys, fly spaceships, or catch Pokémon in a hybrid environment made up of both virtual and real-life elements.

But at Sandia National Laboratory augmented reality has a much bigger purpose—nuclear security.

Computer scientists Tam Le and Todd Noel have adapted augmented reality headsets—originally designed for gaming—as part of the physical security training curriculum Sandia provides in partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) International Nuclear Security programs.

“This technology really enhances our mission, which is to increase and improve the international nuclear security training for those who deal with our nuclear stock piles and weapons and materials,” said Le in an exclusive interview with R&D Magazine. “It really does help to increase and improve this training in so many ways.”

Le and Noel have been incorporating augmented reality elements into Sandia’s nuclear training programs since March 2016. Most notably, they’ve updated the International Training Course on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities (ITC), a three-week training session for nuclear materials and facilities professionals worldwide.

Trainings are held at Sandia’s Integrated Security Facility, which was originally designed to protect Category I nuclear material, but now serves as a venue for hands-on physical security training. The incorporation of the augmented reality headsets at the facility allows students to peer through walls and see all the processes needed to handle and protect nuclear material, without having to access actual hazardous material.

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U.N. urges increase in aviation security

UNITED NATIONS - Responding to increasing attacks on airports and aircraft, the U.N. Security Council on Thursday unanimously approved its first-ever resolution to address extremist threats to civil aviation and urge more security.

The U.N.’s most powerful body called for stepped-up screening and security checks at airports worldwide to “detect and deter terrorist attacks.” And it called on all countries to tighten security at airport buildings, share information about possible threats, and provide advance passenger lists so governments are aware of their transit or attempted entry.

“The Security Council has delivered a resounding call to action for the international community,” said the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. “This is the first U.N. Security Council resolution ever to focus on the threats by terrorists to civil aviation and it demonstrates our joint resolve to protect our citizens from an escalating danger.”

The resolution reflected growing global anxiety following attacks on airplanes and airports from Ukraine, Egypt and Somalia to Brussels and Istanbul.

While aviation security has improved, Johnson said the recent tragedies demonstrate “the urgency of our task” and the dangers posed by “terrorists who probe relentlessly the chinks in our collective armor.”

The British-drafted resolution expresses the council’s concern “that terrorist groups continue to view civil aviation as an attractive target, with the aim of causing substantial loss of life, economic damage” and air links between countries.

Fang Liu, Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization, told the council before the vote that there are more than 100,000 daily flights carrying 10 million travelers, which adds up to 3.5 billion passengers per year plus “one-third of the world’s trade by value” carried by planes.

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Quick thinking security officer saves school from burning down

A quick-thinking security guard kept a building fire at Aquinas College from spreading to other areas of the Ashmore school by grabbing a hose and trying to ­extinguish the flames.

The SMA Security officer helped contain the fire until emergency services from Southport and Hollywell arrived at the school on Edmund Rice Drive.

The fire started just after 1pm yesterday on the upstairs veranda of a two-level building, damaging the roof, walls, floor and the shade sail ­opposite the classroom.

There is also extensive smoke damage to the interior of the classroom although the fire did not penetrate the building.

While the fire has not been labelled arson, it is being treated as suspicious due to the origin of the fire, the lockers of the block.

Principal Peter Hurley turned up a few minutes after the fire was extinguished, ­visibly distressed by the incident.

Mr Hurley, who has only been at the school for six months, told the Gold Coast Bulletin he was thankful for the quick actions of the Gold Coast security guard.

“It’s pretty upsetting that we have had a fire at the school,” he said.

“We will get the area cleaned up to resume classes tomorrow as best as we can.”

He said the cause of the fire would be investigated and contractors would make the area safe before students return to school.

This week Year 12 students will be undertaking their QCS test tomorrow and Mr Hurley assured students and ­parents that disruptions will be kept to a minimum during this stressful testing period.

Southport Station Officer Darryl Hurley said due to possible asbestos from the old building, firefighters were ­decontaminated after the fire, with their gear bagged up to be sent off for cleaning.

Energex officers were also called to the scene to cut off power to the building.

Investigations into the cause of the fire are continuing.

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Feds raid drug ‘super tunnel’ with railway on U.S.-Mexico border

(CNN)-Smugglers on the U.S.-Mexico border have become so sophisticated in moving drugs that one “super tunnel” raided this week featured a railway.

The tunnel stretched the length of eight football fields, from a Tijuana warehouse to a San Diego warehouse, and had a rail system, lighting, electricity, and metal beams to prevent a cave-in.

Authorities confiscated at least 12 tons of marijuana with a street value of $6 million and arrested 22 people in San Diego and Tijuana in connection with the one of the largest tunnels uncovered in recent years.

“We see a super tunnel open for business once every year or so,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy of Southern California said in a statement. “Just when traffickers think they’re ready to move, we put them out of business.”

The newly constructed tunnel was discovered as part of a six-month investigation that began last May and involved an undercover agent who helped transport buckets filled with dirt from the tunnel warehouse and thThe San Diego end of the tunnel is located just a half-mile from the Otay Mesa border crossing.

On Wednesday, the defendants told the undercover agent about moving loads of marijuana from the tunnel warehouse to another warehouse. Authorities believe this would have been the first time that a significant amount of drugs would have been moved through the tunnel.

But by Wednesday night, authorities seized control of the “sophisticated cross-border super tunnel,” authorities said in a press release.

The tunnel is the tenth large-scale drug smuggling tunnel discovered in the San Diego area since 2006. In all, authorities have found more than 75 cross-border smuggling tunnels, mostly in California and Arizona, prosecutors said.

Man smuggles cocaine between U.S. and Mexico through underwater tunnel offered to transport and store drugs for the defendants, authorities said.

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Jamaica security certification enables employment in Caribbean and Europe

Kingston Jamaica March 28 2016 Security guards will soon receive training which will enable them to seek employment in the Caribbean and Europe.

Evening and week-end classes for a 12-week training programme are scheduled to begin in May 2016 at the Excelsior Community College (ECC) main campus, 137 Mountain View Avenue, Kingston 3.

The school is collaborating with Security Administrators Limited (SAL) to start the programme.

Principal of ECC Philmore McCarthy and Managing Director of SAL, Captain George Reynolds, recently formalized the partnership with the signing of a memorandum of understanding at the main campus of EEC.

Marketing Manager of ECC, Trudy-Anne Riley told JIS News that the idea to start the training course came about, because of a need to give accredited certification to guards and persons with an interest in a security career.

She said the Private Security Regulation Authority (PSRA) Act 1992 has mandated that all security guards be certified and to submit evidence of their training and certification in the form of a certificate from an approved PSRA Trainer, effective January 1, 2016.

“They had given them a timeframe in which to get the certification. So based on the fact that we are a community college that responds to the needs of the community, we saw it fit to partner with Security Administrators Limited to offer a certification course for security guards,” she said.

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