A file photo of seized cash. Image: Garda Press Office By Garreth MacNamee Saturday 24 Feb 2018, 9:00 PM Data retrieved from Chilean drug lord’s phones led to arrest of Irish men in Amsterdam The arrest of El Rico last year has led to a number of drug seizures. Share52 Tweet Email IT’S EMERGED THAT the arrests last month of two Irish men in the Netherlands were the first arrests made as a result of information extracted from phones used by a Chilean drug lord who is now in custody.The two were detained in an Amsterdam suburb in connection with a €220,000 cash seizure.The pair are relatively low-level players in the Irish drug trade, but have links to a higher-profile criminal who is currently in prison.The news of the arrests and the cash seizure was first reported by the Herald newspaper last month.It has since emerged that intelligence gathered by the US’s Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) from phones belonging to Chilean drug lord El Rico allowed police to make the arrests. Pertinent information extracted from the phones is being relayed to police forces all over the world – including gardaí.The Dutch police said the Irish authorities tipped them off to the whereabouts of the two men.No charges have been brought against the men so far.Since El Rico’s arrest last year, there have been significant arrests and drug seizures across Europe.Dutch police had estimated that the Chilean was either directly or indirectly involved in the importation of billions worth of cocaine into Europe every year.ArrestsTheJournal.ie broke the news in October of last year that the arrest of Richard Eduardo Riquelme Vega – known as ‘El Rico’ – was to cause serious repercussions in Irish gangland.Distributors of cocaine have been arrested in the Netherlands, the Caribbean and Germany, as well as in Chile where the South American drug baron was detained.Approximately 60% of Ireland’s cocaine had been coming into the country via El Rico and his distributors, according to sources.Now well-informed sources have told TheJournal.ie how the latest arrests were a tester operation to check the veracity of the information which the police had received.The data from the phones led the DEA and Dutch police to a safehouse in Amstelveen in north Amsterdam where they discovered the cash. Police are alleging that the men were attempting to launder the money.Earlier this month, 440 kilos of cocaine was seized in the Dutch port of Rotterdam. The drugs were destined for the European market.El Rico had been in custody for several months at that point and remains in detention in Chile. The arrest of the alleged drug trafficker has the ability to strengthen the Dutch police’s ability to link him to organised crime in Europe.He had been using a German IT protection system, used by many multinational financial organisations, in an attempt to safeguard his communications. The system can be used to send encrypted messages and, according to sources, leading members of the Kinahan cartel were using it to communicate with El Rico.Read: Kinahan cartel members to face international murder charges following arrest of Chilean drug lord >Read: Kinahan cartel under surveillance in Dubai after senior member met Italian mafia boss there > A file photo of seized cash. 36,824 Views Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article http://jrnl.ie/3863470 Image: Garda Press Office Short URL 16 Comments Feb 24th 2018, 9:01 PM
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3 international destinations to visit in 2019 WASHINGTON (AP) — In the age of selfies, social media and streaming videos, the idea of what makes a celebrity has expanded far beyond the Hollywood icons of the past. Now scientists, technology geeks, designers, writers and YouTube stars achieve fame alongside athletes and entertainers.Curators at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery have examined how celebrity images are cultivated and how they’ve evolved for the new exhibition “Eye Pop: The Celebrity Gaze,” opening Friday. The exhibition includes dozens of new paintings, photographs, sculptures and digital portraits by leading artists that the museum acquired in recent years. “Eye Pop” will be on view through July 2016.Curators narrowed their list to 54 influential figures still living and active in their fields. Images of Brad Pitt, Barbra Streisand, Oprah Winfrey and Katy Perry made the cut, along with the founders of Google, star architect Cesar Pelli and food-to-table pioneer Alice Waters.Many of the portraits are being shown to the public for the first time.Asma Naeem, one of six curators on the exhibit, said everyone these days is trying to reach celebrity status in some way, posting carefully selected images on social media sites to shape how they are seen by others. And quick access to information and photos online makes it easier to recognize stars in many fields.“Celebrity is really a very elastic concept now. It’s far-reaching. It dips into fields that we would never have considered typical of celebrity 50 years ago,” Naeem said. “It also has many different edges to it. Celebrity encompasses not just somebody who is accomplished and who garners our admiration but somebody who has also fallen … has been able to put themselves back together again.” New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 5 people who need to visit the Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center Top Stories Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Britney Spears’ new portrait at the Smithsonian was created by multimedia artist Luke DuBois as a mashup of images from her music videos. The small piece is housed within a decorative gilt frame that would normally surround a religious artwork, playing on the idea that the pop icon is an object of veneration. Instead of playing Spears’ music with the moving images, DuBois used the white noise reverberations of an Italian basilica.Katy Perry’s portrait was the culmination of her collaboration with artist Will Cotton, who designed the candy-land theme of Perry’s “California Girls” music video. Cotton went on to design the album cover and then painted Perry’s portrait dressed in a cupcake wrapper and candy tiara. Perry visited the National Portrait Gallery after the painting arrived and took a selfie with her image.“This to me shows how art is intersecting with celebrity-making in such interesting ways,” Naeem said.Other artists would try to strip away any notion of celebrity, which also drew the attention of museum curators.Pitt’s first painted portrait is being revealed for the first time in the exhibit with a newly acquired large-scale piece by artist Colin Davidson. The two began collaborating in 2012 when Pitt asked Davidson to give him painting lessons. Pitt was drawn to Davidson’s style from other portraits. Comments Share When they agreed that Davidson would paint Pitt’s portrait just before the actor’s 50th birthday, “he knew it wasn’t going to be the airbrushed, flattering way in which we normally see him,” Davidson told The Associated Press. Instead, the artist spent time with a jet-lagged Pitt, talking and drawing, trying to catch a raw moment of humanity.The result is a rugged picture with thick brushwork that captures the scruffiness of Pitt’s face and long hair, with a glassy-eyed look.“My interest in him was very much as a fellow human being, rather than as the actor or producer or celebrity,” Davidson said from his studio in Belfast, Northern Ireland. “I’m putting forward something else and actually encouraging us to look at people again as fellow humans, rather than anything else.”___Follow Brett Zongker on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DCArtBeat .Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories Men’s health affects baby’s health too Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement