Archive for October, 2019

Portuguese military force ambushed in Central African Republic

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

A column of Portuguese military personnel in the Central African Republic (CAR) was ambushed in Yadé, north of Bangui, by “an armed group” , but with no casualties among the national force.

The Armed Forces General Staff (EMGFA) confirmed this incident in a statement on Wednesday, September 26, during a mission by the Portuguese contingent, which is the rapid intervention force of the United Nations Integrated Multidimensional Mission for the stabilization of the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

The Portuguese military were deployed to “protect the population against the offensive stance of one of the armed groups in the CAR” and the mission lasted from September 23 to 30, according to the same statement.

On arrival in Yadé, north of Bangui, the capital, drones used by the Portuguese Army, “observed various elements belonging to the armed opposition group”. There was then an explosive device” accompanied by “small arms fire” against the rapid reaction force.

The CAR fell into chaos and violence in 2013 following the overthrow of former President François Bozizé by armed groups together in Séléka, prompting opposition from other militias grouped under the anti-Balaka campaign.

The Rapid Reaction Force, comprises 180 military personnel, mostly paratroopers, 177 belonging to the Army and three to the Air Force. In the CAR there are also eight members of the Public Security Police

Hurricane Lorenzo reaches the Azores

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

Situation as at 0730 hrs

As at 0730 hrs (Lisbon time) the Azores civil protection services has registered about 50 occurrences due to the passing of Hurricane “Lorenzo”.  These involve mainly involve:  “obstruction of roads, falling trees and fallen roof tiles”, “in Flores, Pico and Faial.  Two people were relocated on the island of Sao Jorge, the Regional Government said. On Faial Island, a bus stop was totally destroyed. Upcoming hours are still critical.

Hurricane “Lorenzo” is now down to Category 1, at the intensity expected by the Azorean Civil Protection. “We are following the whole process and we think the peak will be around 06:00 [07:00 in mainland Portugal],” said Teresa Machado Luciano.

The maximum gust so far, is 145 kph was recorded on the island of Faial in the central group, followed by 130 Kph in Flores and 126 kph in Corvo.  A total of 61 roads have already been closed on several islands of the Azores.

The commander of the Santa Cruz das Flores Fire Department told Lusa today that the road in the Monte Zone in Santa Cruz das Flores is closed due to the fall of a large tree due to from the passage of Hurricane “Lorenzo”.

The closest proximity from the centre of Hurricane “Lorenzo” to the island of Flores should be around 100 kms at 6:00 today (07:00 in Lisbon

The Azores IPMA also confirmed that the critical period of Hurricane “Lorenzo” will run until 9:00 am in the region (10:00 am in Lisbon), mostly affecting Flores and Corvo.

FLIGHT CANCELLATIONS

SATA has announced that it will cancel flights scheduled for Wednesday, March 2, until 4 pm, due to the passing of Hurricane Lorenzo. There are 24 flights, with only two connecting to the mainland and the rest are regional, which are suspended, with 873 passengers being affected, according to the airline.

SATA states that “all affected passengers will be accommodated on flights from October 2-4.”

EMERGENCY RESPONSE

Nearly 1,000 operatives, including firefighters, public officials, health professionals and security forces, are being deployed at dawn in the Azores to respond to the passage of Hurricane “Lorenzo” through the archipelago.

The president of the Azores Regional Civil Protection and Fire Service also said that “some people were relocated in Praia da Vitória,” by the municipality, as a preventive measure, “for living in degraded housing”.

Lorenzo” is affecting the entire archipelago, but “especially” the island of Flores and Corvo, according to the IPMA, underlining that the effects of the storm will start to feel progressively early in the morning and Wednesday morning. .

 

Eighty one arrests in investigation targeting Spanish cocaine trafficking group

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

A joint investigation, coordinated by Spain and involving law enforcement authorities from Colombia, France, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom and supported by Europol, led to the dismantling of the largest organised crime group in the Spanish area, involved in drug trafficking and money laundering.

“Operation Beautiful” started in 2018 with an investigation into drug trafficking and money laundering. International cooperation and information exchange, which Europol made possible, between the seven countries involved contributed to the success of this complex investigation.
More than €1 million found in a panic room at the ringleader’s house

On 26 September, after extensive planning, the final stage of the operation took place.

On the action day in Spain, more than 200 police officers carried out 13 house searches and arrested 42 individuals.

The whole investigation led to the arrests of 81 individuals and various seizures including 4 000kg of cocaine, €2 million in cash, three firearms, jewellery, precious gems, luxury watches, 42 vehicles and a 25-metre-long yacht. Properties worth €20 million and 800 bank accounts were frozen.

At present, those arrested are charged with laundering over €7 million.

A well-structured and violent group

The criminal group used different methods of transportation including cargo in boats, lorries, trailers and cars with hidden compartments and a clandestine laboratory.

The criminal network had different highly structured groups, specialised in various activities; such as a security team in charge of counter-surveillance, debt collections, extortion and vuelcos (violent robberies between organised crime groups while impersonating police officers).

The group was particularly violent and recently lost a member, murdered in the city of El Campello, Spain. The multiple arrests and seizures during the long investigation made the members bolder and more reckless. This led to the detection of money movements between the leaders of the organisation.

Europol supported the case through operational coordination, analytical support and funding operational meetings. Europol also deployed an analyst to Spain to support the on-the-spot activities by performing real-time crosschecks of operational information against Europol’s databases.

Tancos Military Weapons theft case: Former Director of the Military Judicial Police Luis Vieira will ask to make a pre-trial statement

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

Lisbon, 01 Oct 2019 (Lusa) – Former director of the Military Judiciary Police (PJM) Luís Vieira will ask to make an opening  instruction prior to the commencement of the Tancos trial, in which he is charged with criminal association, arms trafficking, document forgery, denial of justice, prevarication and personal favouritism.

Instruction is an optional procedural phase in which a judge assesses whether there is sufficient evidence to bring defendants to trial at a date yet to be determined.

The information about the request for opening of instructions was given to Lusa agency today by his lawyer Rui Baleizão. It follows similar requests by former Defence Minister Azeredo Lopes and Major Vasco Brazão Military Judicial Police (PJM).

Luís Vieira is accused in co-authorship with other defendants of PJM, GNR and Azeredo Lopes. will face trial over his alleged role in a suspected army cover-up of a theft of weapons from a Portuguese military base more than two years ago, the public prosecutor’s office revealed on Thursday.

According to the prosecutor, the recovery of military material was achieved through a “true pact of silence between all PJM defendants [including Luis Vieira] of GNR and Azeredo Lopes”, forging evidence and documents.

The prosecution considers that with the connivance of Luis Vieira and PJM elements, including Military Judicial Police (PJM) major Vasco Brazão and the GNR military, with the permission of the hierarchy, they made due diligence with the suspect of the theft and negotiated the delivery of military material with the promise of ” criminal impunity “.

From the beginning of the process, the director of the PJM disagreed that the case of theft of military material was the responsibility of the PJ and, according to the accusation, sent several emails to the head of the Military House of the President of the Republic João Cordeiro “trying to move influences at the earliest stage at a high level “.

The process that investigated the theft and staging of the recovery of the arms of Tancos’s fathers ended with the accusation of 23 defendants, including former Defence Minister José Azeredo Lopes.

Defendants are charged with terrorism, criminal association, denial of justice, malfeasance, falsification of documents, influence peddling, abuse of power, retention and possession of a prohibited weapon.

The case shook the military, led to the resignation of Azeredo Lopes in 2018, and the controversy surrounding the theft, made public by the Army on June 29, 2017 with the indication that it had occurred the day before, rose in tone after the “apparent” recovery of the material in the Chamusca region, Santarém district, in October 2017, in an operation by the Military Judicial Police.

Nine of the 23 defendants are accused of planning and executing the theft of military equipment from the national storerooms and the remaining 14, including the former minister, of the staging that was behind the recovery of the equipment.

Azores prepares for arrival of Hurricane Lorenzo

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

SITREP ISSUED 1ST OCTOBER AT 0900 HRS

The US Hurricane Centre stated last night that Lorenzo has not changed appreciably during the past several hours on satellite imagery, with an eye still present along with a large cloud shield in the north eastern quadrant. Wind estimates remain near 175 kms so that will be the initial wind speed.  The initial wind field has also grown and that is reflected in the wind radii analyses.

The hurricane is now moving faster and has turned north eastward at about 31 kph.  Lorenzo should continue to accelerate to the northeast during the next couple of days ahead of a large mid- latitude trough, with the hurricane passing near the western Azores.

Lorenzo is forecast to slowly weaken on 1st October due to the cyclone moving over progressively cooler waters.

The IPMA latest bulletin on 30th September at 1800hrs: Hurricane Lorenzo – Category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson * scale was approximately 1650 km west / southwest of the Azores.

Maintaining trajectory forecasts, the center of the hurricane is expected to pass Category 1 on Wednesday (October 2), slightly west of Flores, particularly affecting the Western group. However, the entire archipelago will feel the effects of Hurricane Lorenzo. Therefore, it is suggested to follow the evolution of the meteorological situation through the IPMA website (www.ipma.pt) and to obtain any recommendations from the Azores Regional Civil Protection and Fire Service (www.prociv. azores.gov.pt).

Western Group – southeast wind blowing from the north-west with gusts in the order of 190 km / h (with a probability of 40% of the maximum gust exceeding 200 km / h), sometimes heavy rain and waves from the south passing southwest with significant height between 10 and 15 meters, with a maximum wave height of up to 25 meters.

Central Group – southwest wind gusting up to 150 km / h and southwest waves passing west with a significant height between 9 and 12 meters, the maximum wave height being up to 22 meters.

Eastern Group – west waves of significant height 7 to 8 meters and gusting winds of 85 km / h.

The President of the Government announced today that the Azores Emergency Plan will be activated from 2000 hrs on Tuesday, October 1, and called on all Azoreans to follow the recommendations of the Regional Civil Protection Service before and during the planned Hurricane Lorenzo passes through the Region.

At a press conference at the headquarters of the Regional Civil Protection and Fire Protection Service of the Azores (SRPCBA), Vasco Cordeiro also announced that, as a preventive measure, the Government of the Azores has decided to close schools, kindergartens, kindergartens, occupational activity centres and day centres on Wednesday, October 2, on the islands of the Western and Central groups.

A major element of the emergency plan is the prepositioning of the relevant emergency service, the police, Army and Navy to areas which are likely to be most affected.

It is also worth mentioning that there will be some enormous seas on the eastern side of Lorenzo.  The hurricane will be accelerating to the northeast in the same general direction for a couple of days. Combined with the large size and intensity, this is a recipe for an amplified wave field on the eastern side due to a phenomenon called trapped-wave fetch.