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Federal authorities make arrests in massive drug case in North Carolina, South Carolina

The FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration made several arrests and served warrants Wednesday as part of a massive, two-state drug case, officials said.

Police, FBI agents and the DEA started serving a warrant in Charlotte, North Carolina, Wednesday around 6:30 a.m.

>> Read more trending news 

Court officials said they’re waiting on the FBI to bring over just under a dozen suspects.

The FBI said it’s raiding 17 locations Wednesday in both South Carolina and North Carolina in a large drug investigation.

Officials wouldn’t say what kind of drugs were involved, but some agents were in protective hazmat clothing at the Rock Hill, South Carolina, location.

WSOC reported that court appearances are scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Dancing FBI agent accused of accidental shooting arrested

An FBI agent whose gun went off after it flew from his pants while he was dancing at a Denver nightclub earlier this month has turned himself in to face charges, according to the Denver District Attorney’s Office.

>> Read more trending news

Authorities identified the agent as Chase Bishop, 29. He faces one count of second-degree assault and could face more charges, pending the results of a blood alcohol content analysis, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said Tuesday.

“We are filing this charge now rather than waiting until the BAC report is received, which we understand could take another week, because sufficient evidence has been presented to file it,” McCann said. “If an additional charge needs to be filed after further evidence is received, we can file those charges then.”

>> Off-duty FBI agent accidentally shoots man after gun drops while dancing: reports

Bishop was off-duty in the early morning hours of June 2 when he was caught on camera surrounded by people and dancing at the Mile High Spirits Distillery and Tasting Bar in Denver’s Lower Downtown neighborhood, according to the Denver Post and KMGH

In video obtained by KMGH, Bishop can be seen performing a backflip in the center of the dance circle. As he jumps, a gun can be seen falling from his waistband. Authorities said the gun went off when he grabbed it, striking a person in the leg.

Officials said the victim suffered a serious injury, but that it did not appear to be life-threatening. The bullet hit an artery in the victim’s leg, according to the Post. The man’s attorney, Frank Azar, told the newspaper that his client was expected to recover.

Employees at Mile High Spirits questioned Bishop’s decision to bring a loaded gun to the nightclub in a statement released after the shooting.

“It is shocking that the only shooting to ever occur at our establishment came about as a result of an FBI agent entering our distillery tasting room carrying a loaded firearm without our knowledge, in violation of our rules,” the statement said. “We are deeply saddened by the events that occurred and look forward to speaking with representatives of the FBI, so we can come to understand his presence and his need to be armed in our establishment.”

'Serial stalker' fired from Uber arrested again, accused of annoying, accosting women, police say

An alleged serial stalker in Massachusetts has been arrested and was arraigned on Tuesday on charges of accosting and annoying, police said.

>> On Boston25News.com: 'Serial stalker' fired from Uber continues targeting women outside bars, police said

WFXT first reported on Richard Agyemang in June 2016, who authorities say is dangerous. 

Authorities say 33-year-old Agyemang has been following women to their cars and won't take no for an answer. 

>> On Boston25News.com: Judge revokes bail for man accused of harassing women

"He followed her to her vehicle, he was standing in front of her hood, awkwardly staring at her, tried to engage her in conversation," said Warpula. 

Agyemang has been charged with annoying and accosting, which is a misdemeanor and doesn't require jail time.

>> Read more trending news  

"He went to the passenger side and banged on her window aggressively," said Warpula.

He told authorities he was just looking for a girlfriend.

"He said, 'How am I supposed to get a girlfriend if all of you have boyfriends?' That was alarming," said Millbury Police Detective Andrea Warpula.

Agyemang used to drive for Uber before being fired, but officials say he's still picking up passengers. Last month, officials sent out a warning to women in the Worcester, Shrewsbury and Natick areas, saying that Agyemang would wait outside bars as they were closing to pick up female passengers. 

On Monday night, Agyemang was arrested on charges of trespassing, annoying and accosting. 

He was arraigned on Worcester District Court on Tuesday and has been held on bail, a Millbury detective told WFXT.

2 killed, 2 hospitalized in family fight over stray dog

Two Blytheville, Arkansas, men are dead and two teens are hospitalized after a family argument over a dog.

>> Watch the news report here

The deadly incident happened on the 1700 block of Sales Street on Monday night.

A woman told WHBQ that the incident stemmed from a petty argument between family members. It ended with her son, 22-year-old Alonzo Sanders, getting shot.

"An argument over a dog, and a lie of someone pulling a gun on someone,” she said when describing the moments before shots were fired.

Alonzo reportedly was shot in the head.

Sims said her family has helped take care of the neighborhood dog in the past, but tempers flared when the dog began barking at others, including family members.

WHBQ’s Jeremy Pierre counted more than 20 bullet holes in the front of the family's home. Some of the bullets shattered glass and hit other victims.

Blytheville police said two teens were also shot.

>> Read more trending news 

"It's just hitting us hard because I just lost my daughter in April to a murder, and I just lost my son in the same way,” Sims told WHBQ.

Alonzo and the two teens were airlifted to Regional One Hospital. Alonzo later died.

Investigators told WHBQ that 35-year-old Antonio Harris died on the scene after he was run over by a truck.

People who witnessed the incident said he attempted to de-escalate the situation before the shooting started. 

"The people that did this (are) still walking around here, and something needs to be done,” Sims said.

Investigators told WHBQ that they are depending on surveillance footage from the home to help them arrest suspects. One person is in custody.

Drug kingpin 'La Barbie' gets 49-year sentence for 'despicable' crimes

Edgar Valdez Villareal came from humble beginnings, one of eight children raised by strict, hard-working and God-fearing parents in the southwest Texas border town of Laredo.

But by age 28, Valdez was shipping hundreds of kilograms of cocaine into the U.S. And he ran his drug operation with military precision, using speedboats, submarines and airplanes to secure his cocaine and arming his security detail with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

>> Read more trending news

On Monday, Valdez, notoriously known as “La Barbie,” was sentenced to 49 years and one month in prison for crimes that, a judge said, ruined families and took countless lives. Valdez also was ordered to forfeit $192 million — the amount federal prosecutors said he made by shipping 12,000 kilograms of cocaine into the U.S., a good deal of it through Atlanta.

“You have betrayed almost everything that is important in our country,” U.S. District Judge Bill Duffey told Valdez. “There’s not a single person in this courtroom who doesn’t believe what you’ve done is despicable.”

Valdez got his nickname playing high school football in Laredo, where his coach thought Valdez’s green eyes and blond hair made him look like a “Ken” doll. After crossing the border into Mexico, Valdez became the only American to rise to such prominent ranks in a Mexican drug cartel.

“Sitting here today is one of the highest-level drug traffickers ever seen in this district,” which covers north Georgia, Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Hathaway told Duffey.

Valdez shipped truckloads of cocaine across the Mexican border into the U.S. in the mid-2000s. He instigated bloody turf wars with drug cartels and once ordered a video be taken of the execution of a man from a rival cartel who’d been captured by his security team. Valdez arranged for copies of the video to be sent to media outlets and U.S. law enforcement.

“Mr. Valdez relished the limelight,” Hathaway said. “He wanted the world to know you don’t mess with Edgar Valdez.”

Valdez, 44, faced a life sentence, but prosecutors asked Duffey to give Valdez the chance to walk out of prison alive. That’s because he’d cooperated with authorities and quickly pleaded guilty after his extradition.

Duffey gave Valdez credit for his eight years in custody since his 2010 arrest. With good behavior, Valdez can get more time shaved off his sentence and be eligible for release when he’s in his 80s.

About 20 members of Valdez’s family, including his parents and seven siblings, attended the lengthy sentencing hearing.

“My parents taught me right from wrong and to stay away from drugs,” Valdez said. “Instead of good, I went the other way.”

He then half-turned and looked back to his parents in the gallery. “I’m sorry, mom and dad, for doing things you are against and hate,” he said. “Please forgive me.”

Valdez paused several times and admitted to being nervous. Except for his tan prison clothes, he did not look much different than when authorities paraded him handcuffed in front of the TV cameras after his arrest at his ranch near Mexico City.

“I’m not a bad person,” he said. “I’m a good person who has made bad decisions in his life.”

By turning snitch against other cartel members, Valdez told Duffey, he’s put his life and the lives of his family in danger.

Duffey scolded Valdez for bringing shame on his family and said, pointedly, “There’s no place for us to send your family to protect them.”

Two of Valdez’s siblings begged for mercy.

His sister, Carla Valdez, an assistant district attorney in southwest Texas, said her parents taught their children strong morals and to love and honor God.

“We’re a tight-knit family,” she said. “We’re not career criminals.”

This confounded Duffey.

“Why are you a prosecutor and why is your brother a seriously evil criminal?” he asked.

“Your honor, this is a question we ask each other every day,” she replied.

She said her brother began dealing drugs when he was in high school so he could help his parents at a time they were struggling financially. “I think it just snowballed from there.”

Edgar Valdez’s lawyer, Buddy Parker, said his client should get credit for telling federal authorities a decade ago that Mexican cartels had uncovered the identities of undercover DEA agents in the region. This probably saved the agents’ lives, Parker said.

Duffey agreed that was laudable. But the incredulous judge noted that when Valdez told authorities the agents’ identities were compromised, he was continuing to flood the U.S. with shipments of cocaine.

“I’ve never seen a case like this,” Duffey said.

Who is Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr.? Man accused of shooting Florida police officer, killing 4 children

The man accused of shooting an Orlando police officer and taking four children hostage before killing them and turning the gun on himself had a long history of run-ins with law enforcement, according to records.

>> Read more trending news

Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr. was arrested in Volusia County in 2004 on charges of aggravated assault, but the charges were dropped, records show.

>> 4 children, suspect in police shooting dead after 23-hour standoff in Florida

Records show he was arrested in Sanford in 2007 on charges of larceny and petty theft, convicted and sentenced to community service.

>> On WFTV.com: Photos: Scene of standoff where Orlando officer was shot

Lindsey in 2009 pleaded no contest to charges of arson and fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer after investigators said he set an Orange City home on fire following an argument with his girlfriend, records said.

>> On WFTV.com: 'A very tragic, sad ending': No survivors after family standoff

Records show he received 35 years of community supervision, and while under supervision, he has been picked up for a series of probation violations, culminating in 2012 with an aggravated battery and aggravated assault charge in Orange County, stemming from a fight with another girlfriend.

Lindsey was released when the state couldn't file charges after 30 days.

Florida residents reflect at memorial two years after Pulse attack

Tuesday will mark two years since a gunman opened fire inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people and injuring 53 others.

>> Read more trending news

Several events are being held to honor the victims and survivors on the darkest day in Orlando's history.

Many people came to pay their respects at the Pulse memorial site Monday.

Crews took down the message board that surrounds the Pulse nightclub sign, giving those who come out a blank canvas to fill with their thoughts on the anniversary. 

"It's so fresh in our minds still that we can't believe that two years has gone by. But to know it's only been two years and the way the community has healed after is amazing," said Nicole Rowdean, who came to the Pulse memorial.

Rowden said she moved to Orlando the day after the Pulse tragedy. In addition to showing up at the memorial Monday, she and her girlfriend started a new tradition.

"Actually, our first date was on the date last year. So we sort of did that on purpose to do our own respect toward it. We figured what better way to honor and remember everybody by having our first date? We've been together a year after," Rowden said. 

For some, Monday was the first time they've been to the memorial.

Guy Shaginaw said it's hard to relive the painful memories, but he still wishes the club would reopen to truly embrace the saying, "We will not let hate win."

"They are hurt and you hear things about the bloody shoes and the doctor, and video of cellphones ringing, people looking for their loved ones. I know that's hard; that has to really hurt people. But the best thing, I think, with anything, is to move on," he said. 

On Tuesday, 49 bells will ring at the nightclub in honor of those killed.

Police: Man takes cash register from Walmart, tries to carjack 2 people at knifepoint

Authorities said they arrested a man Friday on suspicion of taking a cash register drawer from a Walmart in Florida and then trying to carjack two people at knifepoint.

>> Read more trending news

Christopher Raymond Hill, 36, was arrested on charges of strong arm robbery, carjacking with a firearm or deadly weapon, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and trespassing, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office online inmate information search.

Investigators said the incident began when Hill went into the Walmart at the River City Marketplace and asked if he could have change for a $20. A cashier told Hill he would have to buy something and he then bought a pack of cigarettes.

Once the register was open, Hill reached over, grabbed the register and ran out of the store, according to a JSO arrest report.

A witness saw Hill get into a silver Ford SUV, but it did not appear to start, so he got out and ran, according to authorities.

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

Police said Hill approached a man who was sitting in the parking lot near Supercuts. Hill asked the man for a ride and the man refused, according to authorities. Hill put the cash register in the man's truck bed and pulled out a knife, cutting the man on the hands and leg, the arrest report said.

According to the report, the man was able to grab his pistol from his truck and pointed it at Hill, who then ran away toward Starbucks.

Hill next ran to the car of a woman who was in line at the nearby Starbucks drive-through, officials said. She told police she rolled down her passenger's side window to see what he wanted and that he opened her door and got into the car, officials said.

The woman said Hill told her to drive because someone was chasing him, officials said. She told police she tried to push Hill out of the vehicle and that he would not get out. According to the police report, she was in fear for her life, so she got out of her car to get her Ruger pistol out of her trunk.

Hill got out of the car and came toward her, officials said. She said she pointed her pistol at him and he ran away, according to officials.

When police arrived, they found Hill had barricaded himself inside the bathroom at Supercuts, but he came out when officers ordered him to.

According to the report, Hill told police, "The reason I was running and did this was because somebody was after me."

As of Monday morning, Hill was still in the Duval County Jail, being held on a bond of $91,512. His next court date is set for July 2.

Escaped Florida hospital patient accused of stealing, crashing police car 

A judge granted bail to a 30-year-old man who allegedly stole an Orlando police cruiser after escaping Florida Hospital South late Friday.

>> Watch the news report here

>> Read more Floridoh! stories 

Alexander Gonzales was granted more than $3,000 bail for charges of grand theft of a motor vehicle, criminal mischief, resisting officer without violence and driving while license suspended.

Gonzales crashed the stolen police car in the College Park neighborhood early Saturday and refused to come out of the wrecked cruiser for hours, leading to a SWAT response, the Orlando Police Department said.

>> On WFTV.com: Child hospitalized after car possibly struck by stray bullet on I-95, deputies say

Police said they were called shortly before 11:30 p.m. Friday about a suspicious person at Princeton Street and North Orange Avenue after security officers reported a man had escaped from Florida Hospital South nearby. 

>> Woman arrested after video shows children traveling in pet kennels

"When officer made contact with the subject, he jumped in OPD vehicle and took off, crashing a short time later," the agency said in a tweet.

Gonzales crashed at Elizabeth Avenue and West Princeton Street near Princeton Elementary School, flipping the cruiser onto the driver's side, investigators said.

>> Read more trending news 

Gonzales remained inside the car, repeatedly refusing to come out, according to police. 

Despite the vehicle crash, the weapons in the car remained secured and locked up, police said. 

OPD SWAT, Crisis Negotiation Team and Emergency Services Unit were called out. SWAT members ultimately removed the suspect from the vehicle and he was placed under arrest at about 2:30 a.m.

No one was injured, police said. 

According to the arrest report, Gonzales, who lives in Largo, Florida, had been admitted as a patient to Florida Hospital South earlier Friday before fleeing the hospital

 

Sex-trafficking sting rescues nearly 160 children, authorities say

A sting on the sex-trafficking trade in metro Atlanta netted dozens of arrests and the rescue of dozens of children forced into sexual servitude, the FBI announced this week.

>> Watch the news report here

Operation Safe Summer was a collaborative effort between the FBI’s Atlanta field office and 38 law enforcement agencies in six metro counties, assistant Special Agent in Charge Matt Alcoke told WSB-TV’s Mike Petchenik.

“They are crimes of special concern to the FBI and to law enforcement generally,” Alcoke said. “Because the victims are so vulnerable as children and because the offenders could be from just about any walk of life, from a gang member all the way up to someone who is highly successful and wealthy.”

The sting ended with nearly 160 children rescued, including one as young as 3 years old, and nearly 150 arrests, convictions or sentences, officials said.

Alcoke said the operation was scheduled before the summer months as a way to put a dent in a trade that preys on children at a time when they have more freedom.

>> Read more trending news 

“It’s important for those of us who are responsible for the children, the parents, the guardians, the older siblings, to not let children fall away (from) those strongly centered circles of importance,” Alcoke said.

Among those charged, Alcoke said Trevey Parks was a convicted sex offender out of prison who forced a juvenile to work in the sex trade for him.

“Trevey Parks is one of the worst of the worst,” Alcoke said. “He enticed a child to travel for sex with him. He was ultimately arrested in a joint effort by us and the local police."

In Alpharetta, Georgia, police told Petchenik they arrested several suspected pimps and prostitutes and rescued one teenager who’d been forced into sexual servitude.

MORE ON WSBTV.com:

>> Feds shut down controversial classified ad website on prostitution, sex trafficking charges>> 'See something. Say something': Atlanta mayor rolls out plan to combat human trafficking>> 3-month-old girl among 84 rescued in sex trafficking sting

“A lot of people don’t realize these things happen here,” department spokesman Howard Miller told Petchenik.

Miller said detectives scoured the internet for evidence of prostitution and then moved in to make arrests, but he said it’s been getting more difficult.

Backpage has been taken down. A lot these pages will pop up and be available for a few days. They’ll have the types of information and the people available on it, our agents will take a look at that and start their investigation and before they know it, the page is down,” Miller said.

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