Southern California breaking news and trends

Feds cut off international rhino horn smuggling ring

Black Rhinoceros

Photo by Arno Meintjes via Flickr Creative Commons

20 rhino horns, diamonds, Rolex watches, approximately $1 million in cash, and $1 million in gold bars were seized from suspected smugglers last weekend when more than 150 federal agents led raids across several states in a coordinated effort to interrupt an international ring trafficking in sawed-off rhinoceros horns.

Deputy chief of law enforcement for the wildlife service, Edward Grace, said the arrests and seizures followed an 18-month investigation by federal wildlife agents. 

Three of the alleged smugglers caught in Southern California were 49-year-old Jimmy Kha, his 41-year-old girlfriend Mai Nguyen, and Kha's 26-year-old son Felix, the L.A. Times reports. The suspects -- arrested last week at Los Angeles International Airport -- face four counts each of rhino horn trafficking in violation of federal laws protecting rare and endangered species. 


3 more arrests: Teachers, coaches suspected of sex and lewd acts with students

locked fence park

Photo by Bogdan Migulski via Flickr Creative Commons

A female Los Angeles Unified School District teacher was arrested Wednesday for alleged sex with students. 42-year-old Montebello resident Gabriela Cortez was arrested on suspicion of two felony counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor after two male students said they had sex with her, KTTV-TV first reported.

According to Montebello police, an 18-year-old male told authorities last week that he and Cortez had a sexual relationship when he was a student in her Spanish class at Roosevelt High School. Another boy said he had sex with Cortez at her home in Montebello. Cortez has been suspended.

A LAUSD athletic assistant at John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley was also arrested Wednesday. 

27-year-old Jose Rosario Alvarez is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl who is a student of a different school in the district, say Los Angeles police. The relationship was reportedly discovered by the department's Internet Crimes Against Children Unit.


Asked for insurance and registration, will Californians soon reach for their smartphones?

IFA 2011 Consumer Technology Trade Fair

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Assembly Bill 1708 allows motorists to use smartphones to show proof of insurance and vehicle registration.

Drivers flagged down by police may no longer need to fumble in their glove compartment for their insurance and registration.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) introduced a bill Tuesday that would give California drivers the option to carry proof of insurance and vehicle registration in electronic form, via “mobile electronic device.’ According to Gatto, Assembly Bill 1708's terms include iPads, smartphones and any other device on hand that can produce a readable representation.

“A lot of people that I talk to believe the legislature is the source of many hassles in life. I try to be a remedy for some of those small hassles,” Gatto said. “Several of my constituents have asked why California hasn’t joined the modern era and gone paperless.”

More than an issue of convenience, AB 1708 takes an environmental spin. Gatto also said he anticipates legislative committees to react positively to the proposal.


The Blue Line is so bad today Metro suggests driving

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Raghu Manavalan

File: A Blue Line Train arrives at 103rd St/Kenneth Hahn Station.

After a power outage this morning that put part of the Blue Line out of service and caused massive delays for some, Metro's account is now reporting there is service about every 20 to 30 minutes. But it's warning passengers to expect major crowds. About 78,000 people ride the Blue Line every week day.

The outage affected the area between the Imperial/Wilmington and 7th Street/Metro Center stations. Metro was scrambling buses to route passengers around the non-functioning area. Additional alternate routes are listed at The Source.

The morning rush hour problem is due to a power loss at the main yard.