Colombia apprehends pioneer in ‘drug submarines’

first_img BOGOTÁ, Colombia – Colombian police said on March 17 they nabbed José Samir Rentería, wanted by the United States as an alleged pioneer in the use of small submarines to transport illegal drugs. Rentería, alias Morfi, was wanted by U.S. and Colombian authorities for allegedly shipping cocaine in the subs, the police website announced. Arrested in Cali, Rentería is alleged to have started shipping drugs out of the Pacific port city of Buenaventura in the 1980s. Later, the suspect, who is a mechanical whiz, allegedly forged alliances with a front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the crime gang Los Rastrojos. He also allegedly served as a go-between for Colombia’s Norte del Valle cartel and Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, police said. Colombian authorities have intercepted at least five shipments in which the suspect is alleged to have taken part between 2002 and 2009, when 14.5 tons of cocaine were confiscated and another 20 people were arrested. Since 2003, Colombian authorities have seized at least 66 homemade semi-submersible vessels used by drug traffickers, navy figures show. The U.S. state of Florida has sought Rentería since December 2010. [AFP, 17/03/2012; Elespectador.com (Colombia), 17/03/2012] By Dialogo March 19, 2012last_img read more

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Courtside seats offer glamour, sweat and about $2 million in annual revenue

first_img Published on February 20, 2018 at 10:18 pm Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21 While their placement is prominent, courtside seats come at a price: several hundred dollars for a single-game ticket. They run at a hefty price tag, but sitting courtside offers fans TV air-time, the noise of rubber-soled shoes squeaking on the hardwood and intimate facetime with players and officials just a few feet away.As thousands enter the Carrier Dome for every men’s basketball game, up to 414 fans fortunate enough to be courtside gain the prestige of sitting in cushioned chairs behind the baskets or across from the benches. They can arrive 30 minutes earlier than other guests and relax in a bar open exclusively to those who sit courtside. The VIP treatment provided with courtside seats is a staple of the NBA and many big-time basketball programs, Syracuse included.Back in 2005, the Syracuse Athletics department was facing financial uncertainty not unique to big-time college programs. Big East money was drying up, former SU Director of Athletics Daryl Gross said, and Syracuse needed to look for fresh revenue streams. Gross said he brought the idea of expanding courtside seats to Syracuse in 2005, during his first few months on the job. The payday arrived in year one in the form of about $1.5 million, he said. Years later, as the seats have expanded to three and four rows deep, the proceeds have continued to pour in.A large chunk of Syracuse’s ticket revenue comes not from the tens of thousands of fans sitting across the Carrier Dome, but rather from a select array of seats alongside the court. The financial implications of the decision to add several rows of courtside seats 13 years ago has brought in tens of millions of dollars to the Syracuse Athletics’ budget.“It was an important piece of our existence,” Gross said. “It’s significant as heck. It was a nice new revenue source at a time when we really needed it.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textCourtside seats have a risk. The court is 94 feet by 50 feet, but the ball does not always stay in that confined area. Neither do players. Lebron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers apologized in 2015 for falling on the wife of the PGA champion Jason Day. It happens. Occasionally throughout the season, SU players and the opposition bump into, or fall onto, fans nearby.Kevin Camelo | Digital Design EditorThe most visible seat at the Dome has provided Ronald Szyjkowski, a season ticket holder, select encounters few other fans get. Years ago, during an NIT game, Eric Devendorf came plowing into his seat. Szyjkowski caught him with his hands to protect his son, who was sitting next to him. “Thanks man,” Devendorf said, to which Ron thought, “I was just saving my son.” Around that time, Terrence Roberts almost clobbered Szyjkowski’s mother-in-law. Wesley Johnson once leapt over his head after going for a ball.“Everybody sees it on TV, they talk about it at the office the next day,” said Szyjkowski, a resident of Fayetteville and the chair of gastroenterology at Upstate University Hospital. “One big rule here is that you can’t stand while the ball’s in play. You can’t interfere with the players. You can’t use flash photography, and then there’s sort of a joke on the ticket. It says if you get hurt, it’s your fault. There’s been some balls bop a guy in the head, chairs moving around from time to time.”Szyjkowski chuckled about that, but he takes his fandom seriously. He said he has missed three Syracuse home games since he first bought season tickets in 2002, when he sat in section 108. Three years later, he and Gross said, floor seats were introduced at two rows deep. Szyjkowski knew that he wanted to be aligned with top of the key, across from where head coach Jim Boeheim often stands.Courtside season tickets are priced at about $5,000 per season, depending on a variety of factors, including location and donations made. Szyjkowski arrives early from work, chats with the ushers — he can name each one — and enjoys quiet time as players warm up while fans trickle in. Friends send him texts when they see him on TV and many of his family members back in his hometown of Amsterdam, New York, call him “Ronnie Orange Seed,” because he’s always at the game.“The beauty of being here, besides the whole atmosphere, is that if you watch a game on TV, you watch whatever they want to show you,” Szyjkowski said. “Here, I watch what I want to watch. If I want to watch coach (Boeheim), I see his reaction. If I want to watch away from the ball, and see what’s going on with the zone, I can do that. You’re right there. All of those things that seem distant are right in your face. You hear the foul the ref doesn’t call. The sneakers. Everything.”Alexandra Moreo | Senior Staff PhotographerBack in 2005, during a game between Syracuse and Notre Dame, Gross was sitting in the Dome for one of his first SU men’s basketball experiences. He had just arrived at SU from the University of Southern California. He looked around and was impressed by the Dome atmosphere — the Orange routinely hosts more than 20,000 fans per game. But he noticed something else. The scorer’s table, where officials, SU employees and members of the press sat, extended almost all around the court, Gross said. “Who’s sitting there?” he asked.Gross knew how the Staples Center in Los Angeles offered floor seats, and he didn’t think press row had to be as close as it was inside the Dome. Syracuse basketball was “so well-received,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it. I thought, boy, this could all be floor seats. People would love it. It was a no-brainer, low-hanging fruit. Let’s knock this out of the park. So we did.”The rise in college basketball floor seats is emblematic of how athletic departments operate like Fortune 500 companies, said sports-business experts including Thilo Kunkel, an assistant professor in sport management at Temple University. With plenty of costs and tight budgets, athletic departments look for ways in which they can offer entertainment, brand themselves and develop revenue streams to pay for the entire entity, Kunkel said.Experts said the soaring escalation in value of floor seats helps offsets expenses. For major sports programs, TV rights and ticket sales are the biggest revenue drivers, per ESPN, as well as fundraising and multimedia rights from companies such as Syracuse IMG Sports Marketing, the multimedia rights holder for SU Athletics.But for fans like Neil Gold, courtside seats are purely for enjoyment. He has been a fan of SU for more than 51 years, missing only about five Syracuse games, home and away, since 1996. Gold pays under $500 per season, because he makes donations to the university and is a member of the Board of Trustees. He sits in the very first row across from the visitor’s bench. That way, he can be on the same end as SU during warmups.He said the connection courtside regulars have to the game and players can be deep. Over the years, Gold has had his fair share of players barrelling into him, wayward passes flying into his lap and tipped balls spinning inches from him. Before games, he chats with players and referees.Then, he said he wears his game face and immerses himself in what he enjoys most: the comfort of sitting a few feet away from the spotlight. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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