The Wikileaks cables keep coming, and we’ve pored over them to find the most interesting news related to Los Angeles. Having gone through many cables, the most pressing issues we face, as far as the diplomatic community is concerned, seems to be that we are a growing haven for international organized crime. The majority of the cables related to LA are with regards to US relations with Latin America, although most of those weren’t particularly interesting or newsworthy to residents of our city. We tried to pick out the most interesting 5 that have been released so far and have included links to the original cables as well as a key grab from each cable. Let us know what you’ve found in the comments.
1. Bulgarian Crime Lords Operating in Los Angeles
Key excerpt: U.S.-based investigations of transnational crime groups have dismantled significant drug trafficking organizations run by Bulgarian nationals in LOS ANGELES and Tampa. These groups imported multi-kilo quantities of cocaine and multi-thousand doses of ecstasy into the United States. They had drug connections through Amsterdam and some financial backing of an Israeli national. While most members of these groups were convicted and imprisoned in the U.S., three who were charged in California and Florida are still wanted international fugitives who may have returned to Bulgaria to exploit the country’s current policy of not extraditing its citizens. The three fugitives are IVAYLO ANGELOV PETKOV (Bulgarian citizen born 18 May 1965), IVAN DOBREV (Bulgarian citizen born 25 May 1959), and STEFAN TZVETANOV STOYANOV (Bulgarian citizen born 9 January 1966).
2. Were 9/11 Backups in LA on September 10th?
Key excerpt: THE MEN THEN FLEW TO LOS ANGELES, CA ON 24 AUGUST 2001 ABOARD AMERICAN AIRLINES (AA) FLIGHT #143. THEY CHECKED INTO ONE ROOM IN A HOTEL NEAR THE LOS ANGELES AIRPORT WITH A CHECKOUT DATE OF 10 SEPTEMBER 2001. THEY PAID FOR THE ROOM USING CASH AND, DURING THE LAST FEW DAYS OF THEIR STAY, REQUESTED THAT THEIR ROOM NOT BE CLEANED. HOTEL CLEANING STAFF GREW SUSPICIOUS OF THE MEN BECAUSE THEY NOTICED PILOT TYPE UNIFORMS, SEVERAL LAPTOPS, AND SEVERAL CARDBOARD BOXES ADDRESSED TO SYRIA, JERUSALEM, AFGHANISTAN, AND JORDAN IN THE ROOM ON PREVIOUS CLEANING VISITS. THE MEN HAD A SMASHED CELLULAR PHONE IN THE ROOM AND A CELLULAR PHONE ATTACHED BY WIRE TO A COMPUTER. THE ROOM ALSO CONTAINED PIN FEED COMPUTER PAPER PRINT OUTS WITH HEADERS LISTING PILOT NAMES, AIRLINES, FLIGHT NUMBERS, AND FLIGHT TIMES.
ACCORDING TO AA RECORDS, THE MEN SCHEDULED RETURN FLIGHTS FOR 10 SEPTEMBER 2001 ABOARD AA FLIGHT #144 FROM LOS ANGELES, CA TO WASHINGTON, D.C., BUT FAILED TO BOARD. THE SAME PLANE USED FOR AA FLIGHT #144 ON 10 SEPTEMBER 2001 WAS USED FOR AA FLIGHT #77 ON 11 SEPTEMBER 2001. AA FLIGHT #77 WAS HIJACKED ON ROUTE THE NEXT DAY AND CRASHED IN TO THE PENTAGON.
BA RECORDS INDICATE THAT THE MEN BOARDED BA FLIGHT #268 ON 10 SEPTEMBER 2001 FROM LOS ANGELES, CA TO LONDON, ENGLAND. THE MEN RETURNED TO QATAR ON BA FLIGHT #125 FROM LONDON, ENGLAND TO DOHA, QATAR ON 13 SEPTEMBER 2001.
3. Israel– Promised Land for Organized Crime?
Key excerpt: In March 2009, Post received information from law enforcement authorities that convicted criminal and member of the Abergil organization, Mordechai Yair Hasin, along with his pregnant wife and child, was intending to flee Israel for LOS ANGELES on valid tourist visas. Hasin’s visa was revoked based on his conviction, as were his family’s visas after they were determined to be intending immigrants. As in the Hasin case, Post is using every available tool to limit OC travel to the United States, but such efforts are not always successful. In June 2008, Post issued Adam Abitbul a valid tourist visa. Abitbul had no prior criminal convictions, and carried no visa ineligibilities. Several months later, Post received information from the LOS ANGELES Police Department (LAPD) that he had traveled to the United States to carry out a hit. Abitbul returned to Israel prematurely for his father’s funeral, at which time Post revoked his visa. (Post can only revoke the visas of Israeli citizens while in country.) In a similar case, in October 2008 Post issued Moshe Bar Muha a tourist visa; he claimed to be traveling for medical treatment. Post subsequently received information from the LAPD that Bar Muha is in fact the brother of Itzik Bar Muha of the Jerusalem Gang (see above) and a convicted criminal.
4. Hamburg Vs. Scientology
Key excerpt: Caberta asserted that Scientology in Germany has received orders from the LOS ANGELES headquarters to “conquer” Europe. She contends that the new Berlin headquarters have been set up for this “campaign.” She continually stressed that she views Scientology not as a religious organization, but as a “political extremist” one. According to Caberta, the Hamburg Scientologists as well as most of the Scientology members in Germany are only “small fish” and the organization’s strategic planning is conducted in the United States. Caberta showed Pol/Econ Officer and Specialist a booklet she had received early November that appeared to be published by Hamburg’s mayor. The booklet contained the mayor’s photograph and signature, yet was actually a publication from Scientology’s “The Way to Happiness Foundation.” Caberta contended that Scientology regularly used misleading methods to fool individuals into joining and said that such booklets had been distributed to other German cities. For someone unfamiliar with Scientology publications, the booklet looked very much like information brochures from the City of Hamburg.
5. Elderly Angeleño Smuggled out of Iran
Key Excerpt: On January, 7, Embassy Bern alerted posts in the region that American citizen Hossein Ghanbarzadeh Vahedi, DPOB xx/xx/1933 was trying to escape from Iran and could possibly surface in Iraq. Vahedi, a dentist from LOS ANGELES, instead appeared at the Ankara Consular Section around noon on January 9, 2009. Although visibly shaken,Vahedi said he had no major physical problems, but he did break down a few times when explaining his ordeal. He told Conoff that he had enough medication and declined local medical attention preferring to wait until he was back in the United States.
¶3. (SBU) Vahedi has been a resident, then citizen of the United States since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Aside from this trip, he has only returned to Iran once about ten years ago and did not encounter any problems on that visit. At his wife’s urging to visit his parents’ gravesite in Iran, he traveled to Tehran in early May 2008 where he spent four weeks with family and friends without incident. However, after clearing customs at Tehran airport on June 6, he heard his name called on the public address system with instructions to report to a separate office. At this office, GOI authorities confiscated his passport and told him he would not be leaving Iran. When Vahedi pressed as to the reason, he was dismissed with instructions to follow-up at the Islamic Revolution Court.