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Narco Wars by Tom Chandler

Retired Investigator at National Crime Agency

Tom Chandler arrived in Bogota at the height of the cocaine boom. Pablo Escobar lay dead, the Cali Cartel had taken over most of the global supply, and an avalanche of coke was poised to hit Europe. Now the British government wanted Chandler and his team to do the impossible: infiltrate the most powerful crime syndicates on earth and stop their drug shipments.

It was a perilous assignment. The cartel bosses operated like a lethal multi-national, with armies of hitmen and myriad spies in ports, airports, police stations and government offices. Their intelligence systems flushed out turncoats and traitors, and they ruthlessly exterminated their enemies. Yet Chandler, an HM Customs investigator fluent in Spanish, knew he could only succeed by recruiting local informants, and went out into the field to find them.

Within four years he had a network of fifty agents buried deep inside the trafficking organisations. The result was unprecedented. Their intel led to the arrest of hundreds of narcos and to the seizure of 300 tonnes of drugs, worth a staggering $3 billion. Chandler's web disrupted the Bogota mafia, who controlled the main airport and boasted they could put anything on a plane, from drugs to bombs; penetrated the go-fast crews who raced coke-laden speedboats to the transit station of Jamaica; dismantled the 'rip-on' teams who smuggled through the coastal ports; and identified the so-called motherships, the largest method of bulk transit ever discovered.

He faced appalling risks. Treacherous stool pigeons worked for both sides, and some of his Colombian law-enforcement colleagues were abducted, tortured and killed. Chandler too faced a grave threat when the crime lords learned he was responsible for a string of interdictions. Yet he persisted, driven to continue with the greatest series of sustained seizures ever made, until he finally burned out and his tour of duty came to an end. Two of his best sources were subsequently murdered, and his bosses dropped the entire overseas informant programme, with dire consequences.


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Welcome to the first edition of the Thames Valley Police Journal

"The purpose of this journal is, at least, three fold."

Comment by Chief Superintendent Robert France, Head of Governance

and Service Improvement, Joint Editor of the Thames Valley Police Journal

"Firstly we want those engaged in academic research in the Thames Valley to be able to share that work with colleagues across the force and further beyond. The sharing and debating of ideas is the fuel which allows the research base to grow."

"Secondly we want to encourage people to bring those thoughts together more formally and share them– so the journal provides space for literature reviews and discussion pieces to allow ideas to be explored and developed more fully."

"Thirdly we want to encourage an evidence based approach throughout the organisation, and the sharing of those thoughts and experiences. There is therefore part of the journal dedicated to sharing the experience applying an evidence based approach to operational policing. Whether that’s the effective analysis of a neighbourhood intervention, or the application of an established approach is some area of the business, we want to hear about it! These practitioner notes will be shorter and less formal, to encourage that wider participation."

"Underpinning all of that is a commitment to take this learning and apply it; which of course should include stopping activity which has been shown not to work as well as developing activities that do. Where something looks promising but the evidence base is not yet strong enough we will be looking to contribute to the further development of that evidence base."


To download your FREE copy click HERE

Purpose built triage van takes to the road for the first time in Bedfordshire


Bedfordshire Police has become one of the first forces in the UK to introduce a triage van to carry out on-scene examination of digital devices in indecent image warrants.

The purpose built Peugeot has been hailed by the force as a valuable first step to tackling its year-long backlog of seized mobile devices and computers.

Launched this week, the van will be staffed by two DMIs from the force cyber team. Danny Howett and Steve Gorman will provide on-going support to the force Internet Child Abuse Team (ICAT).

Read the full story HERE

How Google search history and Facebook posts are putting people in prison


An iPhone is seen in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. A U.S. magistrate judge has ordered Apple to help the FBI break into a work-issued iPhone used by one of the two gunmen in the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, a significant legal victory for the Justice Department in an ongoing policy battle between digital privacy and national security. Apple CEO Tim Cook immediately objected, setting the stage for a high-stakes legal fight between Silicon Valley and the federal government.

Crime suspects may have a right to remain silent, but that smartphone they carry around can tell law enforcement an awful lot.

Internet search history, social media posts and location data can leave digital clues to a crime. But as technology evolves and becomes ever more ubiquitous, the balance between crime solving and digital privacy rights can prove tricky. 

"Cell phones — once figments of science fiction — now live in most Americans’ pockets and purses," Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush wrote in a May 2017 opinion. "These devices are double-edged swords, increasing convenience at the expense of privacy." 

Hiding in plain sight: He abandoned his family 25 years ago. Now Richard Hoagland owes them $2 million.

Rush's words came in the Zanders v. Indiana decision that said a police officer has a right to collect cellphone location data without a warrant. In June, though, that decision was overruled after a landmark ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court.

That phone is George Orwell's Big Brother, pocket sized.

"Simply put, a smart phone is a computer and has a record of every call you make, every web search you use it for, every text, everywhere you go," said Von Welch, director of Indiana University's Centre for Applied Cybersecurity Research.

"It's a record of your digital life."

It's also a record that can be followed, a valuable tool in getting criminals off the streets.

Social media posts are fair game in civil and criminal cases as long as the lawyers can prove they are authentic, said Joel Schumm, professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis.

Facebook is mentioned in more than 250 Indiana appellate court opinions. Schumm said that since so few cases get to an appeal, that number is a fraction of how many times Facebook posts are used as evidence.

Consider this Marion County case:

Larry Jo Thomas called himself "Slaughtaboi Larro" on Facebook and posted a photo of himself posing with an AR-15-style assault rifle.

Marion County prosecutors used that photo and others on Facebook to help convict Thomas of murdering Rito Llamas-Juarez in February 2016. 


Llamas-Juarez was shot to death with AR-15-style ammunition; the photo put that kind of gun in Thomas' hands. Investigators found a distinctive bracelet near the crime scene; another Facebook photo showed Thomas wearing that bracelet.

“The combination of witness cooperation and IMPD’s ability and diligence to follow a digital breadcrumb trail were the keys to solving this murder and assuring justice for the family of Mr. Llamas-Juarez,” Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said after the June sentencing.

Search history unravels alibis

Child abuse deaths are among the most difficult crimes to prove, but digital evidence is changing that.

Caregivers accused of hurting a child often claim the injury was an accident or they didn't know the child was hurt or sick.

Increasingly, Google search history points to the truth, said Ryan Mears, the Marion County prosecutor's chief trial deputy.

"We find they are Goggling and looking into the very issue the child was suffering from," Mears said. 

In Morgan County, prosecutors said Steven Ingalls Jr.'s phone showed he searched for  "Risperidone overdose," “I want to kill my autistic child” and “painful ways to die” before his girlfriend's son died of an apparent overdose.

In May, a jury found Ingalls guilty of neglect and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of 5-year-old Brayson Price, who was born with Fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition that causes developmental problems, learning impairment and behavioural issues.

On June 26, Ingalls was sentenced to 39 years in prison, records show.

Prosecutors said Brayson's mother, Megan E. Price, also used her cellphone to search overdose information for the boy’s medication.

Price was convicted of neglect in a separate trial and was sentenced in June to 36 years in prison, records show.

When a Manchester University student gave birth in her dorm room bathtub in March 2016, she claimed that she didn't know she was pregnant and that she gave birth after she passed out while taking a bath. The baby drowned.

Before the baby's death, prosecutors said, Mikayla Munn of Elkhart searched Google for “at home abortions” and “ways to cut the umbilical cord of a baby.”

Munn pleaded guilty to neglect and was sentenced in July to nine years in prison, records show.

Location data puts suspects at the scene

In January and February of 2015, police arrested a man they believed robbed liquor stores in Lawrenceburg and Dillsboro.

The suspect called one store to ask when it closed about 30 minutes before the robbery. When officers plugged that number into Facebook, it led them to Marcus Zanders.

Zanders' Facebook page was filled with photos and videos posted the day after each robbery showing liquor bottles and piles of cash, items police believed were taken from the two stores.

Convinced Zanders was their suspect, police asked Sprint to turn over the phone's location data, which showed Zanders was in the area when the crimes occurred.

"Each time they make or receive calls, (smart phones) leave a trail of digital crumbs," Chief Justice Rush wrote in Zanders v. Indiana.

Rush and the Indiana court ruled in 2017 that police didn't need a warrant to get the information on Zanders' phone.

But in a nod to just how quickly digital privacy law is evolving, two months ago the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the Zanders decision and many similar cases from courts across the nation.

Setting the limits

The U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling sets a new standard for digital privacy. U.S. justices said police now must get a search warrant before they can obtain location data for mobile phones.

The high court's case involved Timothy Carpenter, who was convicted of committing a string of armed robberies in Michigan and Ohio. The court ruled that investigators should have obtained a warrant for 127 days of Carpenter's cellphone records, which found he was in the area when four crimes were committed.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling means police can still use a phone's location, but they need to first convince a judge that probable cause exists that a crime has been committed.

Nathan Freed Wessler, staff attorney for the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, called the ruling "arguably the most consequential privacy decision of the digital age."

The court ruled that the information collected by phone companies is private.

"The ruling has broad implications for government access to all manner of information collected about people and stored by the purveyors of popular technologies," Wessler wrote in June 22 blog post.

"The court rejects the government’s expansive argument that people lose their privacy rights merely by using those technologies."

 Terror attack police officers honoured 


A Metropolitan policeman killed during the Westminster terror attack was among several officers honoured for outstanding bravery.

PC Keith Palmer, 48, was fatally stabbed outside the House of Parliament on 22 March when he confronted attacker Khalid Masood

in March 2017.

He was recognised at the Police Bravery Awards held in London on Thursday. Other winners included officers from Northumbria,

Greater Manchester, Norfolk and West Mercia Police forces.

PC Charlie Guenigault shared the evening's top award with PC Palmer after he ran towards three terrorists who attacked the public

at London Bridge in June 2017.

PC Guenigault, who had been "relaxing" with friends after finishing a shift, fought off the terrorists with his bare hands who came at

him with knives. He was left in a critical condition after being stabbed repeatedly.

"PC Keith Palmer paid the ultimate sacrifice for his bravery, but thanks to him many, many more deaths were prevented that day.

"For PC Charlie Guenigault, there was no such thing as 'off duty'. He ran towards a situation that most of us can't even imagine, putting himself in grave danger and thinking only of helping others."

  • Injured off-duty London Bridge police officer gets WWE belt from wrestler Triple H

  • Westminster attack PC Keith Palmer awarded for bravery


The seven other regional winners announced at the ceremony were:

  • Greater Manchester Police PC Mohammed Nadeem, who jumped into a fast flowing, icy river to save a man

  • PC Kimberley Morris, of West Mercia Police, who gave vital first aid to a stabbing victim, while keeping the suspected attacker talking and in view until back up arrived

  • North Wales Police PCs David Hall and Rhys Rushby, for their actions after they were attacked by a murder suspect with a claw hammer.

  • Wiltshire Police Insp Ian Stevenson, for pulling a woman off a railway track as a train was approaching.

  • PCs Gary Sharpe and Victoria Threadgold, of Northumbria Police, for confronting and disarming a man waving a 4ft samurai sword at them and later a handgun.

  • Norfolk Constabulary PC Frances Peters, who used Pava spray to disarm a man who came at her with a sword in each hand.

  • Two off-duty police officers from Thames Valley, Sgt Mark Allmond and PC Alex Quigley, for detaining a man who had killed a man in Poundland.

PC Keith Palmer was one of five people killed in the Westminster attack in March 2017

 Buckhurst Hill cocaine gang jailed for 16 years 


Three members of a London-based Albanian drugs gang have been jailed for a total of 16 years, following an investigation

by the National Crime Agency and Metropolitan Police Organised Crime Partnership (OCP).

OCP officers apprehended the group’s ringleader, Mark Gurini, 26, at a petrol station near his home in Buckhurst Hill on

26 September 2017. He was in possession of false Italian identification documents and had two kilos of cocaine hidden in his car.

Officers searching his flat on Queens Road found another 49 kilos of cocaine and further evidence that the gang had been using

the property as a base for their drug dealing business.

This included £100,000 in cash, scales, a heat sealing machine and multiple ledgers containing customer details their orders.

Earlier that month two of the gang’s customers, Arbian Celaj, 25, and Abubaker Mohamed, 22, were arrested by OCP officers.

Each was in possession of one kilo of cocaine.

The cocaine seized was worth a combined estimated street value of £4.2 million.

All three men pleaded guilty and today at Blackfriars Crown Court, Gurini was sentenced to eight years in prison, whilst Celaj and Mohamed received five and three years respectively.

Matthew McMillan from the Organised Crime Partnership, said: “Drug trafficking is a business which relies on cash flow. If any business loses an expensive commodity in the middle of a transaction, that cash flow stalls on both sides. This creates a lack of trust between crime groups, making it harder for them to do business together in future.

“We believe this large seizure of cash and cocaine has deprived a criminal organisation of substantial operating funds and disrupted their criminal activities in and around London. Using all the means at our disposal, our efforts to disrupt organised crime in London and across the UK will not stop”.

 BrainChip Studio, the AI-powered video analysis software, adds auto-rotated models, Linux support and an API for easier systems integration 


BrainChip Holdings Ltd, a leading developer of software and hardware accelerated solutions for advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning applications, today announced an upgraded release of BrainChip Studio, version 2018.1. BrainChip Studio is an AI-powered video analysis software suite delivering high-speed object search and facial classification for law enforcement, counter terrorism and intelligence agencies.


New features of the 2018.1 release make it easier to find objects from a variety of camera views, enable large-scale Linux deployments, and add an API that simplifies integration with other applications.

BrainChip Studio 2018.1 auto-generates rotated models. The software’s one-shot object training, a unique characteristic of spiking neural networks, creates a spiking neural network model of an object in its initial captured orientation. With the new auto-rotation feature, BrainChip Studio will automatically create multiple rotated models, improving the ability to locate the object in other camera views, where the orientation may vary depending on the installation.

For full details click HERE



 Blackberry modified to 'help drug cartels' 


The chief executive of a company that created highly-secure smartphones allegedly used by some of the world's most notorious criminals has been indicted.

Canadian-based Phantom Secure made "tens of millions of dollars" selling the modified Blackberry devices for use by the likes of the Sinaloa Cartel, investigators said.

The charges marked the first time US authorities have targeted a company for knowingly making encrypted technology for criminals.

The Department of Justice arrested Vincent Ramos in Seattle last week. He was indicted on Thursday along with four associates.

Read the full story HERE

Eighteen people were jailed for their involvement in the sexual abuse of vulnerable young women in Newcastle

 Operation Sanctuary review finds adult abuse 'extensive' 


Vulnerable women are most likely being "extensively" abused across the UK and ministers need to urgently review sex exploitation laws, a report says. David Spicer led a review in the wake of Operation Sanctuary which saw 18 people jailed for the sexual abuse of young women groomed in Newcastle.

He said exploitation was not being recognised in adults. The operation identified about 700 victims in total across the Northumbria Police area, 108 in Newcastle.

The Home Office said it would "look carefully" at Mr Spicer's 33 recommendations, which also included a need for research into the cultural background of abusers, many of whom in the case of Sanctuary were from a "predominantly Asian or British Minority Ethnic culture or background".

Read the full story HERE

 Director General statement on UK law enforcement relations with the EU 


Lynne Owens, Director General of the NCA said: “Since before the referendum, the NCA and its partners in policing and wider law enforcement have clearly stated our need to work closely and at speed with European countries to keep people in the UK safe from threats including organised crime, child sexual abuse, cyber-attack, and terrorism.


The ability to work in this manner with our European partners benefits us all, increasing our ability to disrupt criminal activity and protect our citizens from national threats as well as local level volume crime at the heart of our communities. 

“We are confident that these requirements are being taken into account by the Prime Minister and officials responsible for negotiating Brexit, and that there is commitment to our position that we need to retain our ability to share intelligence, biometrics and other data at speed.”

Read the full story HERE

Lynne Owens

Aweys Shikhey

Aweys Shikhey

 A man has been found guilty of preparing for acts of terrorism 


A man has been found guilty of preparing for acts of terrorism after he was stopped and arrested by Counter Terrorism officers as he prepared to board a flight to Turkey, intending to then travel on to Syria where he wanted to fight for Daesh. Aweys Shikhey, 38 (1.10.79) of north London was found guilty on Tuesday, 20 February at the Old Bailey of preparing for acts of terrorism, contrary to section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006. He was remanded in custody and is due to be sentenced on Thursday, 15 March.

Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “To his friends and colleagues Shikhey was, on the face of it, leading a normal life here in London. But unbeknown to them and to his wife and family in Holland, he was a supporter of Daesh and had for about a year been planning how he could leave the UK and travel out to join Daesh.

“Thanks to the information we received from the Kenyan authorities and the good work here by my detectives thereafter, we have been able to thwart his attempts and stop him from joining Daesh and committing terrorist acts over there.”

Officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command launched an investigation in February 2017, after they received information from Kenyan authorities that a man in London was in contact with another man in Kenya discussing terrorist activity.

Read the full story HERE

Dr Matthew Falder

 Depraved ‘hurt core’ university academic jailed for 32 years 


A depraved university academic has today been jailed for 32 years after admitting 137 ‘hurt core’ charges.


Cambridge University graduate Dr Matthew Falder, who called himself ‘evilmind’ and ‘666devil’ during years of horrific online offending, closed his eyes as he was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court. 

He was given a 32 year prison sentence with an extended period of six years on licence. He was also made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and placed on the sex offenders' register

The geophysicist, 29, of Edgbaston, Birmingham, who is originally from Cheshire, admitted the huge number of counts – which included encouraging the rape of a four-year-old boy – after a tenacious National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation.

Falder boasted that he would never be caught and said he did not care if his victims lived or died.

He approached more than 300 people worldwide with 45 victims represented on the court indictment against him.

Read the full story HERE

 Hampshire Police to run Digital Discovery Week 


Hampshire Police is to be one of the first forces to run a Digital Discovery Week to promote the importance technology now plays in policing.

A programme of presentations, workshops and demonstrations will take place across the force during the week of June 4-8.


The main focus of activity will be at the Southern Support Training Headquarters in Hamble-le-Rice but other events will take place on the

Isle of Wight, Basingstoke and Aldershot.

It is hoped all 6,000 staff with take part in the events to highlight the importance of promoting a ‘Digital Savvy’ workforce.


NPCC digital leads Richard Berry and Steve Kavanagh will give presentations throughout the week along with experts from the National Crime

Agency and South East Regional Organised Crime Unit.


On the Wednesday, forces from around the UK will be invited to attend a National Cyber Protect conference that features speakers from Cisco.

The Investigator has been invited to take part in the event as an official partner. Digital forensics companies will also be taking part in a exhibition throughout the work.


“We are delighted to be working with Hampshire on this important event, which we hope will showcase the important role that digital technology now plays in policing,” said Carol Jenkins, editor of The Investigator.

“We have always had a great working relationship with the force and many of its officers have attended our own events – so we looking forward to helping stage an event to remember.”


ACC Ben Snuggs, Crime, Criminal Justice & Intelligence, Hampshire Constabulary told The Investigator: “In an increasingly digital society, our individual and organisational need to improve our digital awareness and policing response has never been greater.”

“This is why our Digital Discovery Week is so important. Through this week we will improve our understanding of the digital landscape and share the exciting work we are doing in force, regionally and nationally to equip us all to serve the public better.”


 ACC Snuggs said that the work force has worked hard to focus the content so that it is relevant to the need of its workforce to enable it to deliver a good digital crime response.

“So whichever part of the organisation we are in, regardless of rank, role or grade, my challenge is for each of us to be open minded, learn and discover something digital.”

Download the Event Guide HERE

SIOs and Digital Investigation event hailed a success


Operational officers joined with leading experts to debate current challenges and opportunities around the digital challenge at the latest in the Investigator’s best practice event.

The SIOs and Digital Investigation Conference and Exhibition was held at West Midlands Police Conference Centre, Tally Ho, Birmingham.

Delegates came from a good cross section of forces including West Midlands, Lancashire, South Wales, Kent and Essex, West Mercia and Greater Manchester as well as the College of Policing, Home Office and the National Crime Agency.

Investigation after £50m cocaine seizure at Farnborough


Two brothers from Poole, Martin James Neil, aged 48, and Stephen John Neil, aged 53, both of Bournemouth Road, are among five men charged with importing cocaine.

Cyber Conviction

A criminal who encouraged hackers to test out malicious cyber tools that can beat anti-virus scanners has been brought to justice by the National Crime Agency.

WiFi Wisdom

The Investigative potential of WiFi data and it use as an evidential source - will be the subject of an exclusive new workshop.


DC Alice Barr, Surrey Police, DCI Michael Vincent Callan, Durham Constabulary

CC Jeremy Graham, Cumbria Constabulary, CC Charles Edwin Nelson Hall, Hertfordshire Constabulary, PC Matthew Hone, City of London Police, DCC Matthew Jonathan Jukes, South Wales Police, PC Virginia Jupp, Sussex Police, PC Paul Lockhart, Metropolitan Police Service

CC Andrew David Marsh, Avon and Somerset Constabulary, PC Tina Louise Newman, Avon and Somerset Constabulary, PC Adele Owen, Greater Manchester Police, Supt Lee Porte, South Wales Police, Insp William James Scott, North Yorkshire Police

Fifth conviction in chatroom child abuse investigation

A man who was using a chatroom when the rape of a six-year-old boy was being live streamed has become the fifth offender to be convicted following a National Crime Agency investigation.

Latest threat update estimates at least 720 County Lines drug dealing lines

It is the NCA’s third assessment of this criminal methodology, which involves networks from urban centres expanding their drug dealing activities into smaller towns and rural areas, often exploiting young or otherwise vulnerable people to do so.

GMP recognised for efforts to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking

GMP has invested in training nearly 50 tactical advisers, providing 24 hour support

Wi-fi in Investigations- exclusive new one
day workshop!

Maximising the evidential potential of Wi-Fi data to assist investigators in identifying data acquisition opportunitiest

8 February 2018, Rothey Court Hotel, Leicestershire, UK


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