Deputy Chief Correspondent, West & Central Africa
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Jul 24, 2013

Special Report: How U.S. drug sting targeted West African military chiefs

DAKAR (Reuters) – It was late afternoon as the speedboat cut across the waters off West Africa for its rendezvous with guns and drugs.

Behind lay the steamy shore of Guinea-Bissau, one of the poorest countries on the planet. Ahead lay the Al Saheli, a luxurious 115-foot white motor yacht with tinted black windows.

Jul 18, 2013

Extortion victim of mob boss ‘Whitey’ Bulger found dead

BOSTON (Reuters) – The dead body of a potential witness, who had hoped to testify about how mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger forced him at gunpoint to sell a liquor store, was found in a suburb of Boston, authorities said on Thursday.

Stephen Rakes, who once sued the FBI for failing to protect him from one of Bulger’s extortion schemes, was found on Wednesday afternoon in Lincoln, Massachusetts, about 16 miles (26 km) northwest of Boston, according to the Middlesex Country District Attorney’s office.

Jul 18, 2013

‘The Rifleman’ to testify at Boston mob boss Bulger’s trial

BOSTON (Reuters) – Boston mobster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger will cast his eyes on an old partner in crime for the first time in two decades on Thursday when admitted killer Stephen ‘The Rifleman’ Flemmi takes the stand in Bulger’s murder and racketeering trial.

The two former leaders of the Winter Hill Gang, which ruled Boston’s criminal underworld and left a trail of bodies in its wake during the 1970s and ’80s, have not seen each other since 1994 when Bulger fled Boston to evade arrest.

Jul 17, 2013

‘Whitey’ Bulger trial turns to drugs and IRA arms shipments

BOSTON (Reuters) – The suspicious death of a fisherman who helped the Boston mob smuggle guns to the Irish Republican Army in the 1980s was the focus on Wednesday of prosecutors trying mobster James “Whitey” Bulger on charges that he committed or ordered 19 murders.

Jurors in the Bulger trial, which has riveted Boston for weeks, got a detailed description of how Bulger’s “Winter Hill” gang used fishing boats and freighters in the 1980s to smuggle drugs into the United States and ship guns to the IRA for its guerrilla campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland.

Jul 12, 2013

Quebec town takes small steps to normalcy after train disaster

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec (Reuters) – Shell-shocked residents of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, took small steps on a long path back to normalcy on Friday as they returned to homes and businesses just a short walk from the lakeside town’s center, devastated by a fiery rail crash last week.

The town’s main church, Paroisse de Ste-Agnes, opened its doors to mourners, allowing them to drop off pictures, flowers and notes for the estimated 50 people killed.

Jul 12, 2013

Quebec crash probe to transform rail sector, official says

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec, July 12 (Reuters) – The way the
railway industry does business in Canada will be transformed by
the Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the deadly
train derailment that demolished the heart of the Quebec town of
Lac-Megantic, TSB investigator Glen Pilon said on Friday.

In the wake of the crash, the main areas the TSB, an
arm’s-length federal government agency, is looking at are train
braking systems, the durability of tanker cars and crew-size
requirements, Pilon said. Policy recommendations will result, he

Jul 11, 2013

Quebec premier lashes out at rail company after inferno

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec (Reuters) – Quebec Premier Pauline Marois lashed out on Thursday at the railway boss whose runaway train leveled the center of a tiny Quebec town, as residents came to grips with the reality that 50 of their neighbors were likely dead.

“The behavior of the company and its president has been absolutely deplorable,” Marois said of the executive, Ed Burkhardt, and the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, whose driverless train of tanker cars smashed into Lac-Megantic early on Saturday and exploded in a wall of fire.

Jul 10, 2013

Railway head faces devastated Quebec town, points to train brakes

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec, July 10 (Reuters) – The head of the
company whose oil-tanker train exploded and devastated a small
Quebec town faced cries of “murderer” from furious town
residents on Wednesday and said the calamity may well have
resulted from crucial hand brakes on the train not being set

“It’s very questionable whether the hand brakes were
properly applied on this train. As a matter of fact I’ll say
they weren’t, or we wouldn’t have had this incident,” Montreal
Maine and Atlantic Railways Chairman Ed Burkhardt told an often
raw and unruly outdoor news conference in the eastern Quebec
town of Lac-Megantic as irate town residents looked on.

Jul 10, 2013

Police boost number of Quebec disaster missing and dead to 60

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec (Reuters) – The number of people dead or missing after an oil-tanker train exploded in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic has risen to 60 from 50, police said on Wednesday, as 200 investigators sifted through the charred wreckage of what they said is a crime scene.

The runaway train derailed and blew up in the middle of the town of 6,000 near the Maine border early on Saturday morning, flattening dozens of buildings in Lac-Megantic’s historic downtown and leaving it looking like a war zone.

Jul 10, 2013

Police sift through ‘crime scene’ days after Quebec train crash

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec (Reuters) – Investigators sifted through the charred remains of Lac-Megantic’s historic downtown early Wednesday morning, as they searched for clues into what could turn out to be North America’s worst railway disaster since 1989.

Police said they are investigating whether Saturday’s derailment and subsequent explosion – which leveled the center of the lakeside Quebec town killing at least 15 and probably dozens more – involved foul play or criminal negligence.

    • About Richard

      "Richard is based in Reuters' Dakar bureau where he has helped lead coverage of two dozen countries in West and Central Africa since September 2009. He previously ran Reuters' energy coverage in the Americas as a senior editor based in New York."
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