Star Turn

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He’ll never win an Oscar, but that’s okay . . .

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s star witness at the trial of Viktor Bout, the Russian arms trafficker nicknamed the “Merchant of Death,” has collected a star’s salary for his role in bringing down hard-to-corner criminals.  Over the last 15 years, Carlos Sagastume has picked up the princely sum of $9 million for participating in more than 150 investigations for the DEA. To snare Bout, he traveled to Thailand and posed as a Colombian rebel interested in buying surface-to-air missiles and other heavy weaponry. Sagastume earned $250,000 for the role.

Sweep to $9 Million Richer, Informant Unmasks Himself at Trial
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Alfonso Cano, leader of the FARC killed this weekend. / REUTERS

Meanwhile, the real leader of Colombia’s oldest and most powerful rebel group, Alfonso Cano, was shot dead by military forces over he weekend, leaving the guerilla organization in disarray. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC for their initials in Spanish, had evolved over the years into a criminal enterprise, heavily involved in drug trafficking, extortion and kidnappings, with victims being held for years at a time.  The group also demanded “protection” money from people in the countryside.

Now, the question is whether the rebel army will regroup or fall apart, says Jeremy McDermott of In Sight Crime.

Sweep to The FARC After Alfonso Cano

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Anna Hazare, the charismatic Indian leader whose hunger strike this summer pressured  lawmakers to pass a tough anti-corruption law, is today facing charges of corruption in his own organization. Two senior advisors in Hazare’s core group have admitted misuse of funds, but belittled the accusations. One, Kiran Bedi, admitted that she had padded travel bills, while the other advisor, Arvind Kerjiwal, acknowledged that he had diverted $162,000 meant for Hazare’s anti-corruption movement to his own foundation. Bedi said she used the overpayments on her travel expenses to do good works, while Kerjiwal said his foundation was only holding onto the donations as a convenience for Hazare’s movement, since Hazare’s movement is not a registered charity.

Sweep to Indian anti-graft activist falls afoul of corrution allegations

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Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has lost six of her cabinet ministers to allegations of corruption since her inauguration in January. This weekend, a fresh round of accusations was made in the respected news magazine Veja, this time against Labor Minister Carlos Lupi.  The magazine says Lupi took kickbacks from non-governmental organizations seeking to win government contracts. Lupi came out swinging, denying the accusations and saying he has no plans to step down.

Sweep to Brazil’s Labor Minister Faces Corruption Allegations

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo is co-founding executive editor of 100Reporters and an award-winning former foreign, national and cultural correspondent for The New York Times and the Baltimore Sun.

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