Military News

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thirty-Nine People Indicted in Massive Drug Trafficking Conspiracy



Thirty-four Florida residents were arrested in a drug trafficking conspiracy. A total of 39 individuals were charged, five individuals remain at large

Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Miami Field Office, Hugo Barrera, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and Ric L. Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriffs Office, Miami Field Office, made the announcement.

Charged in the indictment are Samuel David Alvarado, a/k/a “Wham,” 35, of Lake Worth, Stephen Carl Alveranga, a/k/a “Stevo,” 39, of West Palm Beach, Armand Edward Armstrong, 30, of Lake Worth, Robert Benjamin Brewster, a/k/a “Benji,” 33, of West Palm Beach, Devier Calvo-Borrego, 26, of West Palm Beach, Jamie Neil Capalbo, 33, of Loxahatchee, Nicholas William Capparelli, a/k/a “Cap,” 27, of Lake Worth, Herve Fils Viaud, a/k/a “V,” 23, of West Palm Beach, Fidel Fragoso, a/k/a Fidel F. Ojito, 62, of West Palm Beach, Julio Angel Garcia, a/k/a “Peanut,” 24, of West Palm Beach, Tavaris Sherrod Hayes, 30, of West Palm Beach, Baron Waldo Henderson, 38, of West Palm Beach, Sam Henricy, a/k/a “Tukan,” 32, of West Palm Beach, Lavaress Jayvon Hopkins, 25, of West Palm Beach, Rones Jean Paul, 29, of Boynton Beach, Walson Tony Joseph, 38, of Lake Worth, Justin Patrick Landfried, 23, of Royal Palm Beach, Steven Joseph Leal, a/k/a “Pep,” 35, of Lake Worth, Eric Ramon Machado-Orama a/k/a “E,” 35, of West Palm Beach, Victoria Lynn McGinnis, a/k/a “Picky Vicky,” 56, of Palm Springs, Pedro Nel Mejia, Jr. a/k/a “Dro,” 26, of West Palm Beach, Andrew Carl Melchert, 32, of West Palm Beach, Joseph Michaud, 31, of West Palm Beach, Joseph Michael O'Connor, a/k/a “Jit,” 23, of West Palm Beach, Neil R. Puterbaugh, Jr., 41, of Greenacres, Vincent Ronald Ranallo, a/k/a “Vinnie,” 48, of Lake Worth, Todd John Reynolds, 44, of West Palm Beach, Jean A. Saint Louis, Jr., 27, of Lake Worth, Adolfo Rico Sanchez, a/k/a “Primo,” 30, of Lantana, Jacob Lee Skelly, 37, of Port Saint Lucie, Teddy Roosevelt Sims, 37, of West Palm Beach, Tyrone Isiah Thomas, 22, of West Palm Beach, Fabian Josue Vallejo, a/k/a “Fabo,” 24, of Greenacres, Eliezet Andres Velazquez, a/k/a “Tete,” 22, of Lake Worth, David Dieudonne Vilmont, a/k/a “Dai Dai,” “Zona,” 26, of West Palm Beach, Omar Veloz, Jr. a/k/a “O,” 25, of West Palm Beach, Alexander Handel Webster, Jr. a/k/a “X,” 30, of Lake Worth, Sherman Eugene Weeks, Sr., 41, of West Palm Beach, and James Alvin Wright, 29, of West Palm Beach.

Capalbo, Henderson, Henricy, Joseph, Landfried, Wright and Veloz were also charged with firearms-related offenses.

Earlier this morning, each of the individuals arrested appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge William Matthewman for their initial appearances. Alvarado, Garcia, Ranallo, Thomas and Vallejo remain at large.

This case is the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate, and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking enterprises, bringing together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI, ATF and the Palm Beach County Sheriffs Office. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rinku Tribuiani and Robert Waters.

An indictment is only an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Alaska wings net unit awards

by JBER PA staff report

2/19/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The Pacific Air Forces announced Feb. 13 that several Alaska units earned  Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards.

The awards were chosen according to different categories, with the 673d Air Base Wing winning the air base wing category for period of service Oct. 1, 2013 to Sept. 30, 2014; 3rd Wing winning composite wing for service Nov. 1, 2012 to Oct. 31, 2014; the 611th Air Operations Center winning one-of-a-kind unit for service Nov. 1, 2011 to Oct. 31, 2013; and Eielson Air Force Base's 354th Fighter Wing winning fighter wing for service Oct. 1, 2012 to Sept. 30, 2014.

The AFOUA is awarded by the secretary of the Air Force to numbered units that have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service or outstanding achievement that clearly sets the unit above and apart from similar units.

Airmen who served in the units for the eligible period can wear the award once they see it on their "virtual ribbon rack" at the Virtual Military Personnel Flight website.

Dempsey: Russia, Terrorists, Cyber Among Top Threats



By Lisa Ferdinando
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

COLLEGE STATION, Texas, Feb. 19, 2015 – The global security environment contains a host of threats, including Russian aggression that threatens NATO allies, and the violent extremists network from western Pakistan to north Africa, said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey spoke today at a student conference on national affairs at Texas A&M University, rounding out a two-day visit to the campus.

He outlined his "two, two, two and one" view on national security, which is comprised of two heavyweights, two middleweights, two networks and one domain.

Russia is included as a heavyweight, along with China.

Russia ‘Lit a Fire’

Russia "lit a fire of ethnicity and nationalism that actually threatens to burn out of control," he said. "And in so doing, they are threatening our NATO allies."

Dempsey said it is hard to imagine that in 2015 there would be that kind of conflict and "those kind of instincts" that are coming to the front again in Europe.

The human suffering in Ukraine is "atrocious," he said.

"It's almost unimaginable," the chairman told the audience, which included members of the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets, other university students and members of the military.

The United States is working with its NATO allies, he said, to reassure the alliance and also try to assist Eastern Europe, including non-NATO countries, in "suppressing this effort to rekindle fires that haven’t burned in Europe" in 70 years.

China Reemerging

On the other heavyweight, China, he said that nation is reemerging on the global scene. It is a very strong economic country that is becoming militarily strong, the chairman said.

The United States will continue to work with China in managing any differences, he said.

"We'll be competitors but it doesn’t mean, I think, we'll have to be enemies," he said. "We're working hard to do that."

Middleweight Powers: Iran, North Korea

The two middleweights are Iran and North Korea.

The United States is working with its partners to try to convince Iran to seek a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue, he said. Western nations contend that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, while Tehran says its nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes.

"We are working hard to reach a negotiated settlement on their nuclear program, but we shouldn’t forget there are other issues which cause us concern about Iran," the chairman said, noting those concerns include Iran being a state sponsor of terrorism.

Networks and Cyber Domain

The two networks Dempsey talked about in his speech are the violent extremist network from western Pakistan to northern Africa, and the transnational criminal network that runs north and south in the Western Hemisphere. The domain is cyber.

The transregional network of al-Qaida, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and other terrorists are competing for a radical, anti-Western ideology that is fomenting the internal challenges of Islam's Sunni and Shia, he said.

"That network is transregional,” he said. “It will take a generation or more to be defeated and it will take persistence on our part and working closely and most often through partners and hardening our allies in order to deal with it."

To combat both the extremist and transnational criminal networks, they need to be "pressed" across their entire length, not just "pinched" in a spot, the chairman said.

"You have to interdict the financing; you have to interdict the flow of foreign fighters or criminals. It takes a really broad effort with partners to deal with that," he said.

Finally, on the domain of cyber, he said, "we've got a lot of work to do. We've made some strides, some pretty significant strides, militarily in particular in terms of defending ourselves."

But the general said despite the security in military networks, 90 percent of his administration and logistics functions ride on commercial Internet providers.

"So if they're vulnerable, I'm vulnerable and I don't like being vulnerable," he said.

Action in securing this domain, he said, includes legislation that establishes a common set of standards on Internet security, and allows information sharing between the government and the private sector.

From College Station, Dempsey travels on to Kwajalein Atoll and Australia.

8th FW participates in joint patriot missile battery exercise

by Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


2/19/2015 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- Airmen from the 8th Fighter Wing participated in a joint patriot missile battery exercise with the Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery, Feb. 11 as part of the battalion's quarterly field training exercise.

Airmen from the 8th Security Forces Squadron, 8th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight and 8th CES Fire Department responded to a simulated dropped patriot missile canister.

"A simulated missile battery drop is something we rarely practice," said U.S. Army Capt. Jessica Bohache, A/2-1 ADA BN battery commander. "We go through the procedures, and we talk them through, but this is the first time we have conducted this at Kunsan by coordinating with all the Air Force's agencies involved -- command post, fire department, EOD and security forces."

Although patriot missile maintainers complete semiannual reload evaluations, simulating a canister drop was not only a surprise inject for the Soldiers, but a first of its kind at the battalion. The patriot missile is a long-range, all-altitude, all-weather air defense system to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missile and advanced aircraft. They were first deployed by U.S. Armed Forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"As a battery trainer with more than 10 years of experience, this is the first time I've seen a simulated missile drop," said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jessica Willis, A/2-1 ADA BN air and missile defense tactician. "This is extremely important to practice, because in the munitions storage area, every time we conduct a missile reload, there's always the possibility for a potential mishap."

Incorporating the Air Force's response into the missile inject presented a new training opportunity for not only Soldiers directly involved, but also for the Wolf Pack.

"This simulated exercise illustrates the possibility of a threat to the population of Kunsan Air Base if the circumstances were different," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jeremy Phillips, 8th CES EOD team leader. "We just want to make sure there's no danger to anyone, the scene is safe and business can carry on as usual on base. This is a skill set that isn't exercised that much [with the Army] so being able to come out and do a joint exercise has been a great opportunity."

6 nations partner during Cope North 15 HA/DR exercise

by Staff Sgt. Melissa B. White
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs


2/19/2015 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam  -- More than 300 military members from six different countries joined together to conduct the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief portion of Exercise Cope North 15 here and throughout the region of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Feb. 15 through 18.

"The Pacific theater and Pacific Command cover an enormous span of area, and every day we're encountering new issues," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Mark Nexon, CN15 HA/DR mission commander. "Natural disasters are very common -- there's a lot of volcanic activity, there's earthquakes, tsunamis and typhoons that remain a threat throughout the region, so practicing our capabilities and improving our capacities, and not just the United States, but all our partners in the region ... working together, we can cover more area together.

The U.S. Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard partnered with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Royal Australian Air Force, Republic of Korea Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Philippine Air Force to accomplish the training exercise. This marked the first time the RNZAF and PAF participated in Cope North to assist with the aeromedical evacuation portion of the HA/DR exercise. Members from the Singapore and Vietnam air forces also observed this portion for the first time.

The scenarios of the event varied to meet seven main objectives -- airfield assessment team insertion, deployment of contingency response Airmen, expeditionary medical support, multinational aeromedical evacuations, substandard airfield operations, humanitarian assistance airdrops, search and rescue and redeployment of the contingency response Airmen.

This year's Cope North also marked a first where Airmen deployed off Guam to the nearby islands of Tinian and Rota for the HA/DR exercise, versus the method of deploying troops to the local Northwest Field on Guam in the past. Rota was used as the hub location to support and provide relief to the spoke location of Tinian which was fictitiously impacted by an earthquake and tsunami for the training scenario.

"The interoperability during this exercise was amazing," said Sharon Rohde, CN15 HA/DR lead planner. "Everyone was very well integrated, and this was a positive reflection of our ability to coordinate with other agencies who have been very accommodating and extremely helpful in supporting us, especially the local civilian airports in CNMI."

To start off the exercise, members of the 36th Contingency Response Group from Andersen Air Force Base,Guam, and RAAF contingency response Airmen deployed to Rota and also opened the airfield and accomplished substandard airfield operations on Tinian. There was also EMEDS established at Rota to aid exercise victims who were hypothetically transported from Tinian for medical care. When necessary, EMEDS members arranged some patients for aeromedical evacuation by multinational AE crews to be transported to a higher echelon of care.

"We observed how the U.S. and Australian aeromedical evacuation teams manage patients and set up the hospital," said Philippine Air Force Tech. Sgt. Wilfredo Uiado, aeromedical technician. "We learned a lot, and it was great to be part of Cope North and to establish relationships with the other countries."

The four-day HA/DR scenario on Rota and Tinian mirrored the team's real-world capabilities of being able to maintain operations for five days in the event of a disaster until civilian agencies would be able to support the impacted area. During that timeframe, the air forces demonstrated these capabilities by treating 70 patients, moving more than 216 passengers, transporting approximately 700,000 pounds of cargo and conducting approximately 25 airdrops before concluding and redeploying back to Guam.

The exercise culminated with a joint, multinational search and rescue event off the coast of Guam Feb. 18.

This year marks the 86th iteration of the Cope North multilateral training exercise which is a long-standing, multinational event designed to increase interoperability, improve combat readiness, and develop a synergistic disaster response capability between the countries involved. The second half of Cope North will shift the focus to air combat training which will include air-to-air and air-to-ground combat and a large force employment exercise.

Fuels Management Flight wins Drake Trophy

by Senior Airman Jensen Stidham
20th Fighter Wing


2/19/2015 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The 20th Logistic Readiness Squadron fuels management flight was recently awarded the Air Combat Command 2014 Drake Trophy for the most outstanding fuels management flight in ACC.

The Drake Trophy is named after the Drake Well, which was the first commercial oil well drilled in the United States. The well is credited with igniting the oil boom in the early 1900's and fueling our nation towards industrialization.

Despite several manning cutbacks and other challenges throughout 2014, the fuels management flight used this as an opportunity to showcase their resiliency and shape the "new normal" of executing day-to-day operations. This and many other innovations led the 20th LRS fuels management flight to win the Drake Trophy for Shaw for the first time since the trophies creation in 1992.

"Shaw is the largest combat F-16CM wing in the Air Force and we supplied over 13 million gallons supporting more than 13,000 sorties," said Master Sgt. James Henderson, 20th LRS fuels management flight superintendent.

During 2014, the flight had a 34 percent decrease in personnel while their workload increased by 19 percent.

"The hard work and high morale of our Airmen truly embodied 'Airman Up' by doing their job to the best of their ability and providing continuous support no matter the circumstances," said Henderson.

More than 5.5 thousand man-hours were put into fueling the 20th Fighter Wing's aircraft to meet mission requirments. Not only has the flight supported the mission of the 20th FW, but they also supported a $300 million 823rd RED HORSE project.

Though the flight achieved success in 2014, they are already thinking about more ways to enhance the mission.

"Going into 2015, one of the major changes involved rightsizing our duty hours and manpower based on the wing's flying schedule," said Henderson. "This adjustment has proved successful due to our great partnership and communications with the 20th Operations Group and the 20th Maintenance Group. Getting the trophy is motivation for our flight because now they really know that they are the best at what they do."

Not only does the award prove to the Airmen that they are the best at what they do, but it also brings community within the flight.

"This trophy has brought a great sense of pride and ownership in our flight," said Senior Airman Dillon Garnto, 20th LRS fuels distribution journeyman. "The Airmen who were here during the past year know what it took to achieve this award and want to work even harder to keep it for another year."

The top three MAJCOMs will compete for the coveted American Petroleum Institute award.

Former Marine sensei imparts wisdom and respect through martial arts

by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Barnett
JBER Public Affairs


2/19/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- "I will work hard to build true confidence through knowledge of mind, honesty of heart and strength in the body," begins the student creed of Sensei Ken Riley's Ketsugen Karate class at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's Arctic Oasis community center.

"To keep friendship with one another and to build a strong and happy community; I will never fight to achieve selfish ends, but to develop for self-defense."

The class is deemed successful by teacher and families, who give the credit to each other as they continue to learn and grow.

The sensei - Japanese for teacher - wouldn't have it any other way.

When Jazmine Bowman, who joined the class at 11 years of age,  she found it "scary and nerve wracking."
"It's okay," Riley told her. "Just do your personal best."

A child with Asperger's Syndrome, Bowman said it was not easy for her to make friends, but "this class has been awesome, because I have had the opportunity to develop good social skills."

She received her yellow belt after a year of training.

"I was ecstatic and extremely proud of my accomplishment over the past year," she said. "When my sensei told me 'You're an amazing student and I hope you will continue these classes until you're a black belt,' I made a promise to myself that I would."

Now 13, Bowman has taken on a leadership role.

"It is so much fun helping newer students learn, because it feels as if they are looking up to me," she said.

"When we help each other ... it helps me improve my skills and learn skills I am still having troubles with, because I have to concentrate really hard to teach something that is difficult for me.

"One of the biggest things that I love about this class is that everyone is nice, caring, funny and understanding," Bowman said. "We all come together to learn and be stronger, healthier and positive adults."

Riley, a ninth-degree red belt in Goju-ryu Karate and seventh-degree red belt in Ketsugen Karate, has been practicing and teaching for more than 40 years.

Both belts are considered higher than black belts, and Riley has nearly reached the highest possible rank.

He began studying self-defense while growing up in New York.

"I grew up in Harlem, in New York City; it was a very violent place at the time," he said. "Going downtown was risky back in the day. Training in martial arts gave me confidence to go places and not be scared.

"Going to competitions helped me realize I did have potential. I was competing against people who were my age or older, my belt level or higher. I did quite well. The more I did it, the more I fell in love with it."

He credits his skills to his teachers, including Gerald Gaylord, his first instructor in New York.

"One of my New York teachers, Peter Flores, said to always give back," he said.

"I've learned, and I'm always a student, even [now]. Students show me things I did not teach them.

"That's what it's all about. If you can pass that on, then you've done a good job."

He earned his black belts prior to joining the Marine Corps, where he served from 1974 to 1976. He began as a rifleman, but it quickly became clear he had close-combat skills, so he became a close-combat instructor. His unit hosted internal tournaments and he won them all, becoming the first All-Military Martial Arts Champion.

"They recognized that this was what my specialty was," he said. "I spent a lot of time in the gym. I loved it; this has always been my passion."
After separating from the Marines, Riley returned to teaching his passion.

Parents have sent letters thanking Riley for years.

"The karate class was awesome," said Yelka Donnolly, wife of Army Maj. Ken Donnolly, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

"We had the best experience possible while [our son] Kenny grew as a young man under the teaching of Ken Riley. Keep the Rileys as instructors forever; they really care about the kids."

"It's just amazing what [Riley's] done with [my son]," said Jennifer Grzegocrczyk, wife of Spc. Eric Grzegorczyk, 4-25 IBCT. "[Riley's] done everything he can to help [my son] get promoted and do well.

"[My son's] really energetic and it helps him get his energy out in a productive way. He went to a competition and won a bronze medal in sparring. He loves it."

"Sensei Riley was extremely patient with the students and was able to effectively manage a classroom of 4-and 5-year-olds," said Kimberly Payne, mother of a student.

"As an educator myself, I know that is remarkable ... Sensei Riley exhibits the qualities of a good teacher. He is genuine, caring, respectful, knowledgeable and patient. I wish I could take this program and sensei with us to Germany."

Martial arts are a way to build the mind, body and spirit, Riley said.

"We never know what we can achieve until we try," the sensei said. "Martial arts will open the doors to a world of new and exciting things and help you in all areas of life.

"Many of my students have gone on in life to do great things for themselves and their community. I am happy to be a part of the dream."

"I absolutely love how I feel after my class - calm, relaxed and powerful," Bowman said. "This class has changed my life dramatically both physically and mentally.

"Even though the techniques get harder and harder, I know that I just need to try again until I figure it out and get it right, and never, ever give up."

At the end of each class, Riley has the children demonstrate respect towards each other, their sensei and their parents.

He tells them, "point to your hero," - their parents, before the children reunite with their parents to say "thank you."

Separatists Violate Cease Fire in Ukraine, Official Says



By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 19, 2015 – Separatists in Ukraine have committed several violations of the cease-fire agreement signed last week in Minsk, Belarus, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said today.

“The most notable have been in the Debaltseve area,” he said. “It's notable that violence is down in other areas, but violations around the Debaltseve area have been fairly significant.”

Meanwhile, Russian actions in Ukraine serve to destabilize the region, Warren said.

“We've seen continued Russian meddling inside of Ukraine [and] we have seen an uptick in Russian air activity throughout the region,” he said.

According to media reports, Ukrainian troops were ordered to withdraw yesterday after Russian-backed separatists surrounded the Ukrainian town of Debaltseve, which is located along a strategically significant highway between the towns of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The movement of Russian equipment into Ukraine has not slowed, Warren said.

“All of this Russian equipment that moves into Ukraine contributes to destabilization,” he said. “We continue to call on the Russians and the Russian-backed separatists to honor the cease fire -- the very cease fire that was signed only days ago.”

The separatists “need to withdraw their heavy weapons and they need to allow the [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] the access to begin monitoring the cease fire,” Warren said, noting that OSCE monitors are being threatened by Russian-backed separatists as they attempt to monitor the cease fire.