Archives for February 2014
By ADAM KLASFELD
A key government witness testified Friday, before his credibility crumbled on cross-examination.
Already serving life after an unrelated 2012 federal trial in Brooklyn, James “Jimmy the Henchman” Rosemond faces a new jury weighing whether he paid goons drugs and cash to kill Lowell Fletcher, affiliated with 50 Cent’s crew G-Unit.
Prosecutors called cooperating witness Mohammad Stewart to make the case that the former hip-hop manager ordered Fletcher’s murder on Sept. 7, 2009, as payback for an assault on his 14-year-old son.
Stewart has been cooperating with the government since April 16, 2010, the same day that three branches of federal agents arrested him on drug- and firearm-related charges.
For a day and a half, Stewart has regaled jurors with sordid accounts of Rosemond’s alleged exploits, including two attempts on 50 Cent’s life.
The first tale Friday alleges that Rosemond had been driving down Manhattan’s West Side Highway when he allegedly took his hand off the wheel of his Ford Expedition near the rapper’s building to retrieve his gun. Rosemond stopped after being told that police were behind them, Stewart testified.
Stewart said Rosemond looked like he was “thirsty for blood.”
Stewart also made reference to a vague plan to “blow up” 50 Cent’s bulletproof van.
This appeared to be slang for gunfire because his testimony centered on firearms rather than explosives, which Rosemond never has been accused of using.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nola Heller handed Stewart a plastic evidence bag containing bulletproof vests that he said he wore every day for two years because of his dangerous line of work with Rosemond. The bag crackled as Stewart took them out for the jurors to see. He said that he preferred the white vest to the green one because it was longer and offered more protection.
Stewart estimated that he made more than $1 million selling cocaine and crack, and that the music executive’s brother Kesner Rosemond offered to show him how to “hustle from West to East.” He offered detailed descriptions of setting up fake businesses, sending drugs via FedEx to “catchers” in New York City hotels, and carrying fake IDs to avoid capture for his open warrant.
He said that he decided to move to Atlanta in the summer of 2009 to escape the dangers of his work, though he said that he kept up with the drug trade there as a distributor.
Stewart said that he met with Rosemond’s co-defendant Jason Williams at a restaurant in Lower Manhattan’s Alphabet City neighborhood shortly after Fletcher’s killing.
Williams laughed and smiled when passing him a copy of Fletcher’s obituary, Stewart said, adding that Rosemond had been nearby and also looked in good spirits.
Displayed on a screen for jurors, the obituary was dedicated “In Loving Memory” to Fletcher
Describing his reaction, Stewart said, “It didn’t register.”
“I’m like, ‘Word?'” Stewart said. “[Williams is] like, ‘Yeah!”
On cross-examination, defense attorney Bruce Maffeo noted that there has been no corroboration that Stewart had even traveled from Atlanta to Manhattan, let alone participated in the incriminating conversation.
Stewart said that he got there by plane, but he acknowledged that prosecutors never asked him to produce his ticket.
Maffeo’s combative questioning had been a multipronged attack on the witness’s credibility. The defense attorney took repeated aim at the terms of Stewart’s cooperation agreement.
Although Stewart could theoretically spend life in prison for his role in the conspiracy, he confirmed that he has not stayed in jail for a single day so far. Prosecutors called for him to forfeit close to $80,000 found in his car, two guns and a leased car. He has not been made to forfeit any part of the million-plus dollars in drug money he made and has admitted to spending.
When asked if he declared the cash to the Internal Revenue Service, Stewart replied, “At the time, I didn’t know we were supposed to report drug money.”
At least three jurors stifled laughter after that line.
Later, Maffeo confronted the witness about an alleged barber-shop intrigue. Stewart said that his former shop had been burglarized, and another man opened a rival shop. Maffeo said that the two masked men tied to Stewart killed the rival owner.
Asked if that was true, Stewart responded, “Not that I know of.”
Maffeo’s sarcastic repetition of that line drew a prosecutor’s objection and the judge’s rebuke.
Stewart confessed to a list of crimes on the witness stand, including shoplifting, perjury, bribery and domestic violence, often escaping without punishment.
He said that he whisked into his trunk one man he thought had “robbed his girl” and drove him to Staten Island where a group of men beat him with sticks. A kidnapping charge in that case was dismissed when the victim did not testify, he acknowledged.
Though Stewart spoke of Rosemond’s alleged bloodlust for payback, he also described the executive’s coolheaded reaction to his son’s assault.
Under questioning, Stewart agreed that Rosemond had indeed said “no” when someone initially wanted to “do something” to avenge the beating.
Four months later, Stewart said he started feuding with 50 Cent’s “muscle,” a beef that he says continues to this day because they both live in Georgia. Steward added that he got two threatening phone calls and found a dead rat near his front door.
Stewart said that he secretly taped “under 10” phone calls with Rosemond under his cooperation agreement, but the topic of Fletcher came up during none of them.
Maffeo also pressed him about the topic not coming up for the first few years of his meetings with federal prosecutors in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Stewart said that he did not talk about it initially out of a mixture of love for and fear of Rosemond.
Stewart’s cross-examination continues Monday as the third week of trial kicks off. The government’s case is expected to rest on Wednesday or Thursday.
MEXICO CITY (AP) – The head of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel was captured overnight by U.S. and Mexican authorities at a hotel in Mazatlan, Mexico, the Associated Press has learned.
A senior U.S. law enforcement official said Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was taken alive overnight in the beach resort town. The official was not authorized to discuss the arrest and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Guzman, 56, was found with an unidentified woman. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Marshals Service were “heavily involved” in the capture, the official said. No shots were fired.
Guzman faces multiple federal drug trafficking indictments in the U.S. and is on the DEA’s most-wanted list. His drug empire stretches throughout North America and reaches as far away as Europe and Australia. His cartel has been heavily involved in the bloody drug war that has torn through parts of Mexico for the last several years.
Known as a legendary outlaw and the world’s most powerful and elusive drug lord, Guzman had been pursued for several weeks. His arrest comes on the heels of the takedown of several top Sinaloa operatives in the last few months and at least 10 mid-level cartel members in the last week.
The son of Sinaloa’s co-leader and Guzman’s partner, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, was arrested in November after entering Arizona, where he had an appointment with U.S. immigration authorities to arrange legal status for his wife.
The following month, Zambada’s main lieutenant was killed as Mexican helicopter gunships sprayed bullets at his mansion in the Gulf of California resort of Puerto Penasco in a four-hour gunbattle. Days later, police in the Netherlands arrested Zambada’s flamboyant top enforcer as he arrived in Amsterdam.
In more than a decade on the run, Guzman transformed himself from a middling Mexican capo into arguably the most powerful drug trafficker in the world. His fortune has grown to more than $1 billion, according to Forbes magazine, which listed him among the “World’s Most Powerful People” and ranked him above the presidents of France and Venezuela.Guzman’s capture ended a long and storied manhunt. He was rumored to live everywhere from Argentina to Guatemala since he slipped out in 2001 from prison in a laundry truck – a storied feat that fed his larger-than-life persona. Because insiders aided his escape, rumors circulated for years that he was helped and protected by former Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s government, which vanquished some of his top rivals.
His Sinaloa Cartel grew bloodier and more powerful, taking over much of the lucrative trafficking routes along the U.S. border, including such prized cities as Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez. Guzman’s play for power against local cartels caused a bloodbath in Tijuana and made Juarez one of the deadliest cities in the world. In little more than a year, Mexico’s biggest marijuana bust, 134 tons, and its biggest cultivation were tied to Sinaloa, as were a giant underground methamphetamine lab in western Mexico and hundreds of tons of precursor chemicals seized in Mexico and Guatemala.
His cartel’s tentacles now extend as far as Australia thanks to a sophisticated, international distribution system for cocaine and methamphetamines.
Guzman did all that with a $7 million bounty on his head and while evading thousands of law enforcement agents from the U.S. and other countries devoted to his capture. A U.S. federal indictment unsealed in San Diego in 1995 charges Guzman and 22 members of his organization with conspiracy to import over eight tons of cocaine and money laundering. A provisional arrest warrant was issued as a result of the indictment, according to the state department.
Guzman is still celebrated in folk songs and is said to have enjoyed deep protection from humble villagers in the rugged hills of Sinaloa and Durango where he has hidden from authorities. He is also thought to have contacts inside law enforcement that helped him evade capture, including a near-miss in February 2012 in the southern Baja California resort of Cabo San Lucas just after an international meeting of foreign ministers. He was vacationing in Cabo during a visit by then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“There’s no drug-trafficking organization in Mexico with the scope, the savvy, the operational ability, expertise and knowledge as the Sinaloa cartel,” said one former U.S. law enforcement official, who couldn’t be quoted by name for security reasons. “You’ve kind of lined yourself up the New York Yankees of the drug trafficking world.”
More than 70,000 people have been killed in drug violence since former President Calderon deployed thousands of soldiers to drug hotspots upon taking office on Dec. 1, 2006. Many say his government’s assault on drug cartels and arrest of kingpins actually fueled the growth of Sinaloa and its major rival, the Zetas, which are now going head-to-heard for lucrative territory.
The two are battling for Nuevo Laredo, a play Guzman lost to the Zetas in 2005, and hitting each other deep inside their respective territories. Sinaloa took over a key Zeta port in Veracruz, while bands of Zetas have attacked their rival deep inside the cartel’s home, western Sinaloa and Jalisco states.
The conflict has led to the gruesome dumping of dozens of bodies by both organizations in their battlegrounds.
Authorities said the battle also weakened the Sinaloa cartel and that key hits on the top leadership in Guzman’s organization had shaken up his inner circle. In the first months of 2012, the Mexican army and federal police arrested a half dozen key Sinaloa people, including two major cocaine suppliers and a man described as the head of Guzman’s security detail.
“Ms. Minaj’s artwork for her single does not depict the truth of Malcolm X’s legacy, is completely disrespectful, and in no way is endorsed by my family,” Ilyasah Shabazz told the Daily News Friday, two days after the controversy.
Shabazz, one of six children by Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz, called on parents and educators Friday to teach their children about the country’s civil rights history.
“It is our family’s hope that the true legacy and context of Malcolm X’s life continues to be shared with people from all walks of life in a positive manner that helps promote the goals and ideals for which Malcolm X so passionately advocated,” said Shabazz, author of the memoir “Growing Up X” and a motivational speaker.
The Queens-bred star apologized Thursday for posting artwork for her new single “Lookin A– N—-” that featured an iconic 1964 image of Malcolm X standing at a window holding an M1 Carbine for Ebony magazine.
Ever wondered where the term.. “THUG LIFE” originated from or has its roots?? Wonder if “2 Pac” even knew??
This short clip is one thing. If you check out more on this type of lifestyle from people like this you will also see where the term “Gangs” and other words come from too!
Crazy when you think about how “Gang” members wear bandanas before they kill or do something violent while they “Rep Their Gangs” just like how the “Thuggees” did way back when but dont even know the connection!
“THUG LIFE…BABY” (2Pac voice)!!!