9 Coast Guard service members face drug charges in Alaska
KODIAK, Alaska — Nine Coast Guard service members face criminal drug charges in Alaska stemming from an internal investigation, according to charging documents.
The investigation that started last fall has produced charges of cocaine and marijuana distribution, possession and use.
The Coast Guard did not identify the service members in redacted charge sheets, but the documents indicate they include eight aviation electrical technicians and aviation maintenance technicians at Base Kodiak, Air Station Kodiak and Air Station Barbers Point.
The ninth is a seaman aboard Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley, who faces a charge of distributing cocaine in Hawaii, the documents said.
One of the electrical technicians from Base Kodiak also faces charges of assault, destroying personal property and disorderly conduct in May 2017.
Several service members are also facing charges of making false statements regarding drug use to Coast Guard Investigative Service Special agents, including one who faces a charge of failing to obey an order to not discuss the investigation with others.
The Coast Guard announced in February it had initiated criminal proceedings against 12 service members. Three of those entered plea agreements in nonjudicial proceedings that took place in Kodiak on April 11 and 12 and no longer face criminal charges, said Lt. Cmdr. Raymond Reichl.
So far 31 service members have faced punishment as a result of the ongoing investigation, the Coast Guard said.
Islamic State claims Easter bombings
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — As the death toll from the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka rose to 321 on Tuesday, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility and released images that purported to show the attackers, while the country’s prime minister warned that several suspects armed with explosives are still at large.
Another top government official said the suicide bombings at the churches, hotels and other sites were carried out by Islamic fundamentalists in apparent retaliation for the New Zealand mosque massacres last month that a white supremacist has been charged with carrying out.
The Islamic State group, which has lost all the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria, has made a series of unsupported claims of responsibility and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that investigators were still determining the extent of the bombers’ foreign links.
Sri Lankan authorities have blamed the attacks on National Towheed Jamaar, a little-known Islamic extremist group in the island nation. Its leader, alternately known as Mohammed Zahran or Zahran Hashmi, became known to Muslim leaders three years ago for his incendiary speeches online.
The IS group’s Aamaq news agency released an image purported to show the leader of the attackers, standing amid seven others whose faces are covered. The group did not provide any other evidence for its claim, and the identities of those depicted in the image were not independently verified.
Feds: Ex-CEO is first drug exec indicted in opioid crisis
NEW YORK — The former head of a drug distributor has been indicted on what federal prosecutors say are the first criminal charges against a drug company executive to stem from the opioid crisis.
The indictment unsealed Tuesday alleges former Rochester Drug Co-Operative CEO Laurence Doud III ordered subordinates to ignore red flags about certain pharmacy customers to maximize company revenues and his own pay, which more than doubled between 2012 and 2016 as the company’s sales of drugs like oxycodone and fentanyl skyrocketed.
Doud, 75, surrendered to authorities in New York City and is awaiting arraignment on two counts of conspiracy. His lawyer said he would fight the charges. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said.
Rochester Drug Co-Operative and another former executive were also charged. The company entered into a deferred prosecution agreement, and former compliance chief William Pietruszewski reached a cooperation agreement.
“This prosecution is the first of its kind: Executives of a pharmaceutical distributor and the distributor itself have been charged with drug trafficking — trafficking the same drugs that are fueling the opioid epidemic that is ravaging this country,” Berman said.
Saudi Arabia beheads 37 for terrorism crimes; most Shiites
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia on Tuesday beheaded 37 Saudi citizens, most of them minority Shiites, in a mass execution across the country for alleged terrorism-related crimes. It also publicly pinned the executed body and severed head of a convicted Sunni extremist to a pole as a warning to others.
The executions were likely to stoke further regional and sectarian tensions between rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Saudi dissident Ali Al-Ahmed, who runs the Gulf Institute in Washington, identified 34 of those executed as Shiites based on the names announced by the Interior Ministry.
“This is the largest mass execution of Shiites in the kingdom’s history,” he said.
Amnesty International also confirmed the majority of those executed were Shiite men. The rights group said they were convicted “after sham trials” that relied on confessions extracted through torture.
Brothers sue Jussie Smollett’s lawyers, claiming defamation
CHICAGO — Two brothers who say they helped Jussie Smollett stage a racist and homophobic attack against himself sued the “Empire” actor’s attorneys on Tuesday, accusing them of defamation by continuing to insist publicly that the brothers carried out a real, bigoted attack on Smollett despite knowing that wasn’t true.
Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo said in a joint statement issued after their lawsuit was filed in federal court in Chicago that Smollett’s legal team has spread false accusations that have hurt their reputations and undermined their career prospects.
“We have sat back and watched lie after lie being fabricated about us in the media only so one big lie can continue to have life,” they said. “These lies are destroying our character and reputation in our personal and professional lives.”
In their lawsuit , the Osundairos contend that even after prosecutors dropped the charges against Smollett while simultaneously saying they could prove the attack was a hoax, Smollett’s attorneys kept saying in interviews that the Chicago-born brothers “led a criminally homophobic, racist and violent attack against Mr. Smollett.”
“Mr. Smollett’s attorneys, faced with an outraged public, did not retreat after their success (in getting charges dropped). Instead, they doubled down,” states the lawsuit, which names celebrity attorney Mark Geragos, fellow lawyer Tina Glandian and Geragos’ Los Angeles-based law firm as defendants.
Migrants fearful after hundreds arrested in Mexico raid
TONALA, Mexico — Central American migrants traveling through southern Mexico toward the U.S. on Tuesday fearfully recalled their frantic escape from police the previous day, scuttling under barbed wire fences into pastures and then spending the night in the woods after hundreds were detained in a raid.
In the Chiapas state town of Tonala, migrants flocked to one of the few places they felt they could be safe — the local Roman Catholic church — only to start with fear at the sound of a passing ambulance’s siren.
“There are people still lost up in the woods. The woods are very dangerous,” said Arturo Hernández, a sinewy 59-year-old farmer from Comayagua, Honduras, who fled through the woods with his grandson. “They waited until we were resting and fell upon us, grabbing children and women.”
Mexican immigration authorities said 371 people were detained Monday in what was the largest single raid so far on a migrant caravan since the groups started moving through the country last year.
Journalists from The Associated Press saw police target isolated groups at the tail end of a caravan of about 3,000 near Pijijiapan, wrestling migrants into police vehicles for transport and presumably deportation as children wailed.