VICE Reports: Pink Panthers, Part 1
Everyone thought the Pink Panther gang would vanish—especially after the 2012 arrest of one of its leaders. Instead, the jewel thieves have started training new recruits as a way to take revenge on a world they feel has robbed them blind.
The group, hailing from former Yugoslavia, has stolen more than $350 million worth of jewelry in the past 15 years from the world’s most exclusive jewelers, according to Interpol. Now, VICE takes you inside the Pink Panthers’ secret world to learn their history and see how the jewel thieves train new recruits.
Alex Schubert’s Blobby Boys are slimy green guys in a rock band that’s really more of a street gang. In this episode they wage a war with the cops that ends with the Blobby Boys possibly dead or missing. Who will survive? What will be left of them?
“I was told to help the gang beat them up and [steal] their stuff,” he says. The gang shouted “fucking homo cunts” as they laid into the couple. Ty tears up as he tells me how ashamed he was, so much so that he couldn’t look at himself in the mirror for more than a week. “If I saw them again, I’d want to apologize—I did it because I was scared, probably because that could have happened to me. It could still happen to me.”
—We spoke to a closeted London gang member who has hidden his sexuality by sleeping with women and beating up gay men
The Lost Boys of California Are Literally Dying to Pick Your Fruit
t the age when most American teenagers are trying to decide whom to ask to prom, Ernesto Valenzuela was instead weighing whether it was worse to die of thirst in the desert or have his throat slit by gangsters.
That’s the choice the 16-year-old faced in his hometown of Mapulaca, Honduras, a drowsy village where MS-13 and Barrio 18 gangsters are known for recruiting youth—sometimes as young as kindergartners—into their cartels. If the kids refuse, they are often killed. Now Ernesto was being recruited, and he didn’t want to end up one of the 6,000 people murdered each year in Honduras. With a total population just shy of 8 million, that means nearly one of every 1,000 Hondurans is a victim of homicide, making it the most dangerous place—after the war zones of Iraq, Somalia, and Syria—in the world.1
After mulling it over for months—and trying to dodge the tattooed gang members who wanted to sign him up—Ernesto decided his potential fate at home presented far more danger than what he might face at any distant desert crossing. So, early one morning in June 2013, after his mother sobbed and begged him to stay safe, he set out for a place he’d only seen in movies, a place where he’d heard a kid like himself—with just a fifth-grade education—could earn $60 a day working in the fields: America.
Rob Ford’s Office Hired a Hacker to Destroy the Crack Tape
In late July, an anonymous source approached VICE with claims that he had been hired by Amin Massoudi, the communications director for troubled Toronto mayor Rob Ford, to hack into a website.
More specifically, the source—who for matters of simplicity will be referred to as “the hacker” from here on out—said he was asked by Amin to crack the password of a private online directory that allegedly contained a digital copy of the now infamous footage of Mayor Ford smoking a substance out of a crack pipe. Rob Ford has, up until very recently, publicly doubted the existence of the video.
VICE acquired a log of emails that, according to the hacker, detail his correspondence with Amin from May 18 to May 31 of this year. When contacted by VICE, the hacker confirmed the validity of these emails but also said it was a little more complicated than it seemed. He agreed to talk if we would preserve his identity, as publishing it would incriminate him.
In case you aren’t caught up on the intoxicated calamity that is Rob Ford’s contemporary existence, today he bluntly admitted to having smoked crack cocaine in a “drunken stupor.”This insane bombshell comes after last week’s statement from Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, whoconfirmed that the crack tape Gawker and the Toronto Star reported on does indeed exist and contains footage that is “consistent” with their reports that claim the video shows Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine. Rob Ford also appeared on his weekly radio show this past Sunday toapologize to the City of Toronto and asked for the crack tape to be released to the public “immediately.”
In light of these recent developments, we believe that now is the time to publish portions of Amin and the hacker’s arrangement since first receiving the emails in July for the benefit of public interest.
Prison Pit – Welcome to the Home of El Salvador’s Most Notorious Gangs
Above: Temperatures can reach 100 degrees or higher in these sweaty enclosures. More than 30 men are crammed in each cage.
In San Salvador, the two main street gangs are Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 (M18). Both were founded in Los Angeles in the 1980s by a group of poor, mostly illegal immigrants. Initially their membership consisted almost exclusively of those who had escaped from the civil war in El Salvador. Many of these gang members were deported back to El Salvador after the war ended in 1992, exporting back a newly organized and ruthless gang culture.
For nearly two decades, the gangs have been murdering each other in the most brutal ways possible, while expanding throughout Latin America. In 2011, the murder rate peaked at 15 homicides per day in El Salvador. Last year a truce was negotiated between MS-13 and M18 with the assistance of religious leaders and the government. The aim of the truce was to stem the escalating number of shootings and deaths by focusing on the younger gang members and taking some of the weapons off the streets. According to the gang leaders, the time was right to talk and stop the violence. After the much publicized treaty was signed, the effects were almost instantaneous, and the homicide rate dropped 52 percent in 15 months; however, in early July of this year, tensions boiled over once again and there were 103 killings in the country in a single week, giving Salvadorans a reminder that some things may never change.
This Anonymous Blogger Loves to Out Western Canadian Gangsters
Eleven days before Halloween someone near Ranfurly, Alberta—a place so minuscule Google Maps doesn’t bother labelling it—cut a man’s head off and left him in a ditch. The rest of him was discovered the following Wednesday, two hours west in Edmonton, inside a garbage bag in the middle of an alley.
Initially, police withheld the identity of the victim. Then, on the following Friday morning, an anonymous bloggerreleased it himself. Hours before media would confirm the victim was 54-year-old Bob Roth, a quiet, soft-spoken manual laborer, the blogger hadn’t just identified Mr. Roth, but posited that a gang called the White Boy Posse had killed him over a drug debt.
It would be another six weeks before media and the Edmonton Police Service would confirm the allegations against the White Boy Posse (WBP), a white supremacist drug gang who embraces Nazi symbology that’s found some form of acceptance, or at least tolerance, in small Northern Alberta towns. WBP recently made international headlines after four alleged members were linked to the decapitation of Roth, the murder of Bryan Gower, and the front-door shooting of Lorry Santos, an innocent mother of four. Lorry Santos’ only mistake was answering the front door of her home. The White Boy Posse thought that her place belonged to someone else, which leads gang experts to believe they’re not the brightest Nazi medal at the flea market.
A couple of mean looking White Boy Posse members.
“They’re a bunch of whacked-out, socially awkward kids with these bizarre, racist ideas who want to sell drugs. So they go to Hell’s Angels and say, ‘We’ll kiss your butt, we’ll kiss your feet, and sell your drugs to make commission,” says Tom Jones, (not his real name, luckily) the Surrey-based blogger and creator ofGangstersout.com, which he founded in 2009 as a safe place for Canadians to out neighbors suspected of being in organized crime.
Tom Jones (or “Agent K,” named after the Tommy Lee Jones character from the Men in Black series) believes WBP is a puppet club for the Hell’s Angels. He also thinks that they entered Roth’s hometown, Lloydminster, after another Hell’s Angels farm team got busted. They’re called (seriously) The Baseball Team, and they pretend to be—so says the blogger—“just a group of guys, playing baseball.”
The White Boy Posse Are Canada’s Hell’s Angels
On September 12 of this year, a mother of four named Lorry Ann Santos opened her door to find three members of a Western Canadian gang called the “White Boy Posse” at her doorstep. They shot her dead. The police believe that this was a case of “mistaken identity.” Last week, three White Boy Posse members were charged with her murder along with the killing of two others. Two of those men were also charged with the murder and decapitation of a man named Bryan Gower, who the police believe knew members of the White Boy Posse.
In 2008, the White Boy Posse was subject to a major sweep of arrests and seizures by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Organized Crime Unit. The gang associates themselves with white supremacist Nazi iconography, and along with swastika flags, the RCMP seized 28 firearms, $500,000 in cocaine, over $300,000 in cash, 3,000 ecstasy pills, and a bunch of stolen stuff, according to an Edmonton Sun report. At that time, the RCMP said they had “crippled” the White Boy Posse.
According to the most recent numbers the overall crime rate in Canada has dropped, though the homicide rate is on the rise. Getting more specific, Edmonton has the third highest homicide rate behind Winnipeg and Halifax. Saskatoon also rates second on a chart of crime severity, just behind Winnipeg.
I spoke to Michael Chattleburgh, the founding president of Astwood, a “strategy corporation” that works with the RCMP and crime prevention organizations to provide research and information. He is also the author of Young Thugs: Inside the Dangerous World of Street Gangs.
Regarding the rising problem of gang related homicide in Western Canada, Michael told me that it all stems from the demand for drugs in the Western provinces; “There’s been a lot of gang members moving over to the Alberta area because of the oil sands projects. Those young guys that are working 12-hour shifts… what do they want when they’re done? They want their booze, they want their girls, and they want their drugs. So, it’s been a little bit of a ‘go west young man’ right now. Certainly in Edmonton, the population of gangsters is growing, I would say faster than Toronto.”
Evidently, both because of its major infrastructure for drug production and its positioning as a port city, a lot of these drugs come from Vancouver, which “acts as a port for both the Mexican cartels who bring drugs up in fiberglass submarines and also from the Asian continents. It’s a victim of its geography in terms of where it sits, but being a port city matters because a lot of those ports are allegedly controlled by the Hell’s Angels.”