The Hill Talk’s Glance at the Globe

Sentences handed down in Thai human trafficking ring:  A two-year trial in a Bangkok courtroom involving the human trafficking of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants ended on Wednesday with the conviction of dozens of government officials involved with the trafficking ring.

Sixty-two of 103 defendants charged were found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment.

The story grabbed world headlines in 2015 with the discovery of mass graves in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province in southern Thailand.

Among the convicted was a high-ranking Thai military officer, Lieutenant-General Manas Kongpan. Prosecutors say Manas protected traffickers and guided gangs involved in the ring to the safety of jungle camps in which migrants were held and tortured.

Outside of Manas, dozens of others convicted included police officers and elected officials who accepted bribes from migrants with the promise of freedom in Thailand.

U.S. to hit Venezuela with sanctions:  The Trump administration threatened Venezuela with sanctions Tuesday, warning it would impose penalties on individuals unless the Maduro government abandons plans for a July 30 referendum to re-write the Venezuelan constitution.

The threatened sanctions would target Venezuelan officials, freeze personal assets and disallow U.S. businesses from transactions with Diosdado Cabello, a top Maduro deputy, and Vladimir Padrino Lopez, Venezuela’s defense minister.

It is also speculated sanctions were being prepared against state-owned petroleum giant, PDVSA.

The U.S. says the proposed referendum to re-write the Venezuelan constitution is a ploy to grant Maduro dictatorial powers.

Recent unrest in Venezuela has left close to 100 dead, 1,500 injured and over 500 jailed.

In joint crackdown, U.S., EU shutdown “dark web” markets:  In an operation described a significant blow to the global online drug and arms trade, U.S. and European Union (EU) officials say they have closed down two of the largest black market sites on the Internet.

The suspected successors to the notorious Silk Road site, online marketplaces AlphaBay and Hansa Market allegedly served over 200,000 customers with illicit drugs such as fentanyl, weapons and hacking tools.

AlphaBay operator, Canada’s Alexandre Cazes, who ran the site from Thailand, was arrested in Thailand on July 5. He was found dead in his jail cell shortly after his arrest.

After the announcement of the black sites’ shutdown, Dutch authorities admitted they had taken over Hansa Market in early July and were tracking vendors and customers.  It is estimated under Dutch control, Hansa executed over 50,000 transactions.

Prior to the shut down, the sites were believed to have offered hundreds of thousands of listings for toxic chemicals, hacking devices, illegal arms and illicit drugs.

Vladimir Putin weighs bid for reelection:  Speaking to students during a visit to a Sochi elementary school, Russian President Vladimir Putin dropped hints over his political future.

Despite the conversation largely avoiding politics, Mr. Putin was asked by one inquisitive student about his post-presidential plans.  Responding, Putin said he had not yet decided if he will seek another term.

“I haven’t decided yet if I will leave the presidency,” the Kremlin leader said.

Elected in 2012, Mr. Putin is in the midst of a six-year term.  The Russian constitution allows him to serve two consecutive six-year terms.  He is allowed to seek the presidency again in the 2018 election.

Missing German teen found alive in Iraq:  A teenage girl missing from Pulsnitz, Germany, since 2016 was found alive in a bombed out home in Mosul, Iraq, on Friday.  Linda Wenzel, 16, is believed to have been introduced to radical Islam from conversations with recruiters in an internet chat room.

It is alleged Wenzel married a Chechen Islamic State (ISIS) fighter while in Iraq and was involved in the ISIS campaign against Iraqi troops.  Officials suspect the teenager was an ISIS sniper.

Classified a minor, it is unclear whether Wenzel will face trial in Iraq or be extradited to Germany.


[Bangkok Post] [Deutche Welle] [BBC News] [The Guardian] [The Sun]