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Fugitive charged in Las Vegas racketeering case arrested in Jamaica


Federal authorities announced the arrest Wednesday of a fugitive they say is linked to a racketeering and organized crime trial that continues this week in Las Vegas.

Jermaine Anthony Smith, 32, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was booked Nov. 26 in Kingston, Jamaica, according to U.S. Homeland Security Investigations. Jamaica’s Major Organized Crime Anti-Corruption Task Force and Customs Department took Smith into custody. He is charged with violating that country’s forgery laws.

Smith was arrested at a Kingston business after Jamaican authorities say he tried to complete a transaction using a forged U.S. passport showing his photograph and the name Saquan Rasheed Heath. Smith fled the United States in July after being placed under house arrest, according to Homeland Security Investigations.

Jamaican investigators say Smith has laundered more than $6 million in Jamaican currency through local banks since August. His crimes, authorities allege, have stretched to Europe, Asia and North and South America.

Smith is among 55 who face charges in connection with Carder.su, what federal agents say is a Russian-led worldwide scheme that caused more than $50.5 million in losses.

Some of the defendants are charged with using phony credit cards to take tens of thousands of dollars from Las Vegas and Connecticut casinos.

Eight defendants have pleaded guilty, and others are awaiting trial in February. Authorities identify the leaders of Carder.su as Konstantin Lopatin and Roman Zolotarev and another identified only by nickname Maxxtro. They are at large.

The term “carder” describes someone who deals in unlawfully obtained financial information over the Internet to commit fraud.

Former U.S. Secret Service agent Michael Adams, who now works for Homeland Security Investigations, was on the witness stand for a second day Wednesday. Federal prosecutors are using his testimony to lay out how his undercover efforts got him inside Carder.su, which they say has more than 7,800 members. Those members bought and sold fake driver’s licenses, credit cards, stolen identity information and also learned or taught others criminal maneuvers.

Adams’ testimony this week has included explanations of his 4½-year investigation. Evidence has included machines Adams used to make fake IDs, plus records of chats, emails and money wires from when the federal agent went undercover to figure out how Carder.su operated.

On trial this week is David Camez, 22, of Phoenix. Camez bought a fake Nevada driver’s license from Adams in 2009. Adams was using the online nickname “Celtic,” which he took from another man who prosecutors say used Carder.su websites and who was arrested and accused of using a counterfeit credit card at a Henderson grocery store in 2007.

Camez’s lawyer contends his client is not involved in organized crime and shopped around on numerous sites where stolen financial information and fake IDs and credit cards are traded.

Camez’s co-defendant Alexander Kostyukov, 29, of Miami, pleaded guilty in November to racketeering and fake ID trafficking charges. The trial, before Judge Andrew Gordon, should wrap next week.

Federal prosecutors say it’s the first time U.S. racketeering statutes have been used against a cybercrime syndicate.

 

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