Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Coasting Along

"FBI, Coast Guard investigate newlywed’s sea disappearance" AP  July 05, 2017

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — When the Coast Guard found Lewis Bennett on a life raft between Florida and the Bahamas, he told rescuers that about three hours earlier he had been asleep inside the cabin of the catamaran he shared with his new bride, Isabella Hellmann, and was jolted awake when the craft hit something.

He said he went up top and found Hellmann gone. He told the guardsmen he looked for his 41-year-old wife, but their 37-foot catamaran, Surf Into Summer, was sinking. When he couldn’t find her, he told them, he activated his emergency radio signal and abandoned ship. When guardsmen found the catamaran, it was submerged and capsized. As they searched for Hellmann, the catamaran was lost and is believed to have sunk.

After seven days, the Coast Guard gave up its extensive air and sea search for Hellmann — but not its investigation. Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Ryan Kelley and FBI Special Agent Michael Leverock say their agencies are jointly investigating Hellmann’s May 12 disappearance, with the FBI conducting a search of the couple’s Delray Beach condominium on June 16. Its front door, showing signs of being pried open, was still sealed by FBI crime scene tape two weeks later. Neither would comment further, but Hellmann’s family and friends believe there was foul play. Bennett, a 38-year-old mining engineer, denies any foul play.

Bennett and Hellmann, a real estate agent, had married in February and took the weeklong trip as a belated honeymoon, leaving their infant daughter, Emelia, with Hellmann’s family. They had left Havana and were hours from returning to Florida when Hellmann disappeared.

No working phone number could be found for Bennett nor could he be found on Facebook or Twitter. The Rodriguez family declined comment, except to say they believe Bennett is in England with his daughter.

Bennett, who hold dual British and Australian citizenship, recently told The Daily Mail, a British newspaper, that he understands why he is being investigated but, ‘‘I have got nothing to hide.’’


"Husband accused of fatally shooting wife while riding in Uber" by Peter Holley Washington Post  July 05, 2017

WASHINGTON — The couple started arguing shortly after they got inside the Uber early Sunday morning.

The driver would later tell police that Jennifer Espitia, 29, was sitting in the front passenger seat of the vehicle and her husband, Cameron John Espitia, 31, had taken a seat behind the driver, according to court documents cited by the Seattle Times.

At some point - while the two passengers bickered and the husband repeatedly cursed at his wife - the driver heard a boom. The sound was so loud, the driver told police, that he assumed his tire had exploded. However, when he saw Jennifer Espitia’s body slumped forward, lying motionless in her seat, it became clear that a gunshot had been fired inside the car, and that his life was in danger, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.

Attempting to keep the situation calm, the driver asked Espitia where he wanted to go, the paper reported. Espitia told the driver to ‘‘just drive’’ before eventually instructing the driver to drop him off northwest of downtown Seattle, the Times reported. Once Espitia got out of the Uber, the driver called police. Espitia was arrested around 2 a.m., six blocks away from where he exited the vehicle. Police say they found him with a semiautomatic pistol in an ankle holster.

‘‘When asked how he was, Cameron said he was not having a good night with his wife,’’ the Times reported, citing court documents.

Jennifer Espitia, 29, was pronounced dead at Harborview Medical Center, according to police.

Espitia told police he was drunk when the incident happened and remembered almost nothing between the time he and his wife were searching for a ride to the moment he woke up lying in some bushes, according to NBC affiliate KING-TV, which cited court documents. Espitia did acknowledge remembering riding inside a white SUV that resembled the Uber in which the shooting took place, the station reported.

During a Monday court appearance, a judge set Espitia’s bail at $3 million, according to the Times. He is being held on probable cause of one count of second-degree murder and is expected to appear in court again on July 6.

Espitia worked for the US Coast Guard, according to court records.

I wonder if he has friends over at the Secret Service.


"Coast Guard faces challenges at sea and at the budget office" by Ron Nixon New York Times   July 04, 2017

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Vice Admiral Fred Midgette, commander of Coast Guard operations in the Pacific Area, has a challenge almost as vast as the ocean he patrols in search of drug traffickers, with responsibilities for an area that is twice the size of the continental United States.

The Coast Guard is struggling to keep pace, seizing about 20 percent of all the drugs that come into the United States through a coastal border, as its aging fleet attempts to pursue the speedboats favored by the traffickers.

“When most people think border security, they think Border Patrol,” Midgette said. “What we do by intercepting drugs on the high seas has a direct connection to what happens at the southern border in terms of stopping illicit drugs and illegal immigration.

“When you are stopping drugs at the Rio Grande, that’s already a loss,” he added. “You want to push that stuff off from America as far as you can.”

But that is becoming increasingly difficult for the Coast Guard, which has operated with flat budgets even as its mission has expanded to include intelligence and antiterrorism.

Trump prefers ground troops.

There are newer ships like the Stratton, a Coast Guard cutter, but many others in the fleet are more than 50 years old. President Donald Trump’s new budget would cut Coast Guard funding by 2.4 percent.

The proposed reduction in money comes as the smuggling problem has become more urgent. About 70 percent of the cocaine consumed in the United States passes through a corridor that runs up to the borders of Guatemala and El Salvador. Fighting among drug cartels that control the smuggling routes has led to record-high homicide rates and driven thousands of people to the US-Mexico border seeking asylum.

Founded more than 100 years ago, the Coast Guard, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, operates simultaneously as a military service, a law enforcement agency and as a member of the US intelligence community. Known primarily for its role in search and rescue missions, the Coast Guard said its priorities are tackling drug trafficking organizations and protecting the southern border.

Funding the Coast Guard at current levels — nearly $10 billion — leaves the service struggling to combat the drug trafficking that has been pushed offshore by beefed up security on the southern land border.

“We give you the biggest bang for the buck,” said Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, commandant of the Coast Guard. “But our resources are limited. As a result, we can’t catch all the drug smuggling we know about. Just last year we had intelligence on nearly 580 possible shipments but couldn’t go intercept them because we didn’t have the ships or planes to go after them.”

Catching drugs in the ocean is vital to Homeland Security efforts because that is when the volume and the purity of the drugs are at their highest. It is also where drug traffickers are most vulnerable.

“We take advantage of the fact that we have the advantage on the water,” said Captain Nathan Moore, the departing commander of the Stratton. ‘’When they see that huge ship coming at them over the horizon, most of them just give up.”

Moore said that even with all the technology on the Stratton, finding a panga or narco sub painted blue to blend in with the ocean was difficult. The Coast Guard said it intercepted a record six narco subs during the 2016 fiscal year.

Most of the illegal vessels are sunk. Last year, the Coast Guard seized a record 450,000 pounds of cocaine, valued at nearly $6 billion, an amount that was more than all the cocaine seized by land-based law enforcement agencies combined. Coast Guard boats also intercepted nearly 7,000 people trying to illegally enter the United States, officials said.

Coast Guard officials say the intelligence gleaned from captured drug shipments and vessels has helped lead to the extradition of nearly 75 percent of all Colombian cartel leaders. And it contributed to the capture of Carlos Arnoldo Lobo, a Honduran cartel leader, and to the second capture of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the Mexican drug lord better known as El Chapo.

But drug interdiction is only one of its missions. Coast Guard personnel protect domestic and foreign ports from terrorist threats, and elite counterterrorism teams are deployed worldwide to provide security at ports and other maritime installations.

In the United States, they patrol ports looking for terrorists and other threats. Antiterrorism units, called maritime safety and security teams, carry out port safety patrols and are trained to operate after an attack by chemical, biological, or radiological means.

The widening mission and shrinking budget have left some Coast Guard officials questioning whether they can successfully fulfill their mission.

“We continue to be able to see a significant amount of drug trafficking toward Central America and Mexico,” Zukunft said. “We are besieged in the region because of a lack of resources. Drug traffickers simply have more boats and crafts than we have ships and planes to catch them.”

So when is the false flag coming? What are they going to do, nuke Baltimore?


Also seeArchaeologists unearth 500-year-old tower of skulls in Mexico

Is that the official story and cover up of another mass grave?