(TMU) — A container ship owned by JP Morgan has been seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Philadelphia weeks after authorities discovered over $1 billion dollars worth of cocaine on the vessel.
On June 17, U.S. Customs and Homeland Security led a multi-agency effort which detected inconsistencies in seven shipping containers and confiscated 39,525 pounds of cocaine. The cocaine has a street value of approximately $1.3 billion.
On July 4, CBP executed a warrant and seized the MSC Gayane—which is the world’s second-largest container ship. The seagoing vessel is owned by JP Morgan Asset Management and operated by Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Company, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“The MSC Gayane is the largest vessel seized in U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s 230-year history and follows the record seizure of almost 20-tons of cocaine discovered on the vessel,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Director of Field Operations in Baltimore.
“A seizure of a vessel this massive is complicated and unprecedented—but it is appropriate because the circumstances here are also unprecedented,” stated U.S. Attorney William McSwain.
Eight crew members have been arrested, according to Homeland Security, and multiple others have been charged. Charges included conspiracy to possess cocaine. The investigation is still ongoing.
The seized vessel sailed under Liberian flag and had previously traveled through Colombia, Chile, Peru, Panama and the Bahamas, according to an online ship tracker.
Ironically, JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon once blasted Bitcoin as being fraudulent, claiming it is only useful “if you were a drug dealer [or] a murderer.”
Now Deleted Senator Cornyn Tweet Lists “30,000 US Troops In Taiwan,” Evoking Fury From Beijing
Senator John Corbyn, who sits on the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, caused a huge stir resulting in angry denunciations in Chinese state media when he tweeted out early on Tuesday via his verified account that the United States has 30,000 American troops stationed in Taiwan.
The tweet was quickly deleted – all which was later confirmed by Newsweek and other sources. It prompted an article from CCP state mouthpiece Global Times (GT) which warned this is equal to ‘declaring war on China’ if it’s true…
Cornyn’s tweet appeared an attempt to address Biden’s botched Afghan troop withdrawal and chaotic evacuation, still unfolding.
One nervous political party based in Taiwan, no doubt wary of inviting Chinese military response issued a public statement saying, “There are not 30,000 US troops in Taiwan! The last U.S. soldier left Taiwan on 3 May 1979.” But the Cornyn tweet also of course unleashed speculation over whether Washington is actually “hiding” a real US force presence.
China’s GT speculated along these lines, while also issuing a severe threat:
If the tweet is correct, it is a military invasion and occupation of China’s Taiwan and equivalent to the US declaring war on China. China could immediately activate its Anti-Secession Law to destroy and expel US troops in Taiwan and reunify Taiwan militarily, some experts noted.
Some others believe the news leaked by the US senator cannot be true because 30,000 is not some small amount that the US Army could hide and not being noticed in the island, and the US has nothing to gain by stationing the US Army in the island. Sacrificing its own interests to satisfy Taiwan separatists also does not fit with US foreign policy, just like the US did in Afghanistan.
Interestingly, the op-ed characterized it as a “leak” while at the same time casting doubt on its veracity. The publication went so far as to cite “shocked” social media commentators who said “so the US army has a secret division in Taiwan.”
More likely it appears a simple numerical error in composing the tweet, hence the hasty deletion…
But a big mistake to make from Beijing’s eyes and already on edge US-China relations, no doubt.
Meanwhile, Chinese media is still on a celebratory mood over the fiasco that is America’s retreat in humiliation from Afghanistan…
Originally posted on ZH, used here with permission.
FBI Seizes Capitol Building LEGO Set From Alleged Rioter’s House
Many of us know, either from our childhood or even our adulthood, that building and collecting LEGO can be a fun hobby that allows us to tap into our creativity in a relaxing, stress-free way.
But what if someone’s LEGO hobby is something much more nefarious – or even seditious in the eyes of the government?
Such may have been the case when special agents with the FBI confiscated a fully completed LEGO set of the U.S. Capitol Building from the home of Robert Morss, 27, whom they allege participated in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, according to court documents published by The Smoking Gun.
The large LEGO set is comprised of 1,032 pieces and was released in 2016 and is no longer available for retail. The agents seized the finished set along with other items matching those they believe Morss had in his possession when he allegedly stormed the building – including a neck gaiter, a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, a military-style satchel, a black tourniquet, and military battle dress uniforms.
The documents also note that he “had three different firearms including a handgun, a shotgun and a rifle” in his possession.
According to LEGO, the United States Capitol Building set “focuses on the structure’s neoclassical style facade, steps and lawns” and is “finished with a decorative ‘US Capitol’ nameplate.” In 2019, the product was “retired” – which has less to do with politics and more to do with the limited availability of the company’s unique product lines.
Morss, who is from Pennsylvania, was arrested last month on a range of federal charges. According to the Department of Justice, his alleged crimes “include assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers; obstruction of an official proceeding; civil disorder; and robbery of personal property of the United States.”
An FBI investigator’s affidavit notes that Morss joined rioters in direct confrontations with officers guarding the Lower West Terrace doors of the Capital in “an intense and prolonged clash between rioters and law enforcement.”
Law enforcement officers claim that they also found a notebook in Morss car that had instructions on a “Step by Step to Create Hometown Militia” that included a list of names, equipment, and sections on “ambush,” “battle drills,” and “formations.” The notebook also contained notes that said “bring assault rifle,” “4 magazines,” and “bring kit/body armor.”
However, the court documents do not indicate whether the LEGO set was deployed in tactical drills prior to the botched uprising.
The DOJ says that roughly 465 individuals have been arrested on charges related the events of Jan. 6.
Trump Organization Faces Criminal Indictment by New York Grand Jury
The Trump Organization will face criminal charges after the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the New York Attorney General’s Office secured indictments against former U.S. President Donald Trump’s company and its chief financial officer, according to sources close to the matter.
The charges by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance were handed up by a New York grand jury and will be unsealed on Thursday, a representative of Trump informed NBC News.
The criminal charges revolve around whether Trump Org CFO Allen Weisselberg and other officials manipulated tax returns and avoided paying taxes to receive such fringe benefits as rent-free apartments and leased cars.
Prosecutors have also looked into cash bonuses paid out to employees and whether taxes on the bonuses were ever paid.
Weisselberg is expected to turn himself in to authorities on Thursday morning, sources claim.
The investigation has been greatly aided by Weisselberg’s former daughter-in-law, Jennifer Weisselberg, who has met with investigators numerous times and handed over troves of financial records, her lawyer Duncan Levin told CNN.
“We have been working with prosecutors for many months now as part of this tax and financial investigation and have provided a large volume of evidence that allowed them to bring these charges,” Levin explained. “We are gratified to hear that the DA’s office is moving forward with a criminal case.”
The former president himself may escape direct charges, Trump lawyer Ronald Fischetti told Reuters.
In a Monday statement, Trump blasted the prosecutors as biased and said the actions of his company were “in no way a crime.”
However, the company itself is liable to face numerous fines if Weisselberg, a close confidant of Trump, is convicted.