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Prosecutors: MS-13 members met in San Fernando Valley before killing 7 people

Law and Order Los Angeles Daily News

One of the suspected gang members pleaded not guilty to federal racketeering charges on Friday.
'A suspected MS-13 gang member pleaded not guilty Friday to federal racketeering charges that allege the killings of seven people, including the machete slaying of a gang rival who was dismembered and had his heart removed. Ever Joel “Bandita” Morales, 23, was among nearly two dozen people named in a 12-count indictment unsealed Monday in federal court in Los Angeles, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The defendant appeared for his arraignment hearing in brown jail garb, and answered the judge’s questions with the aid of a Spanish-language translator. A January trial date was set. Prosecutors contend Morales is linked to a March 2017 murder in which MS-13 members allegedly targeted a rival gang member who they believe defaced MS-13 graffiti. After abducting, choking, and driving the victim to a remote location in the Angeles National Forest, six members fatally attacked him with a machete, the indictment alleges. Federal prosecutors released photos of a members of the MS-13 street gang posing with machetes and flashing gang signs who were later arrested as part of a racketeering and murder indictment targeting 22 members of the gang. (Courtesy of U.S. Department of Justice) U.S. prosecutors obtained social media photos posted by members of MS-13 in Los Angeles who were indicted July 16, 2019 on charges of racketeering and murder. (Courtesy of U.S. Department of Justice) Sound The gallery will resume in seconds U.S. prosecutors said MS-13 members tagged numerous structures at Whitsett Sports Park in Valley Glen with graffiti in an attempt to control the park, according to an indictment against 22 members of the gang for racketeering and murder charges released July 16, 2019. (Courtesy of U.S. Department of Justice) Show Caption of Expand The victim was then allegedly dismembered before one gang member “carved out J.S.’s heart,” and threw his “body parts into a canyon,” according to federal prosecutors. Formed in the mid-1980s in Los Angeles, MS-13 — or Mara Salvatrucha — has a presence in at least 10 states and several countries abroad. The epicenter of the organization, prosecutors allege, is in the San Fernando Valley, where El Salvadoran MS-13 members joined with others to carry out the slayings detailed in the indictment, court papers allege. The arrests were the culmination of a two-year investigation by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Task Force on Violent Gangs, which includes the FBI, Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Just three of the 22 named in the indictment are over the age of 24, prosecutors said, while 16 of the defendants are eligible for the federal death penalty should the Justice Department opt to seek it. Related Articles \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\tPanorama City man accused of killing wife with machete in June pleads not guilty\t\t \t\t\t \t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\tLA County to pay $53 million to settle suit over jail’s invasive strip searches of women\t\t \t\t\t \t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\tJury orders San Bernardino County to pay $113.4 million to boy rendered quadriplegic by child abuse\t\t \t\t\t \t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\tGlendale couple sues LA fertility clinic, claims their embryo was mistakenly implanted in a New York woman\t\t \t\t\t \t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\tLA County Sheriff’s detective pleads guilty to unlawful sex with a minor'

Denver non-profit gives out samples of meat from geese culled from city parks

Sports FOX31 Denver

DENVER — The geese taken from Denver city parks are now being served at a local non-profit. When the city first announced the plan, Denver Parks and Recreation said that instead of throwing the meat out, they would serve it to needy families. Metro
'DENVER -- The geese taken from Denver city parks are now being served at a local non-profit. When the city first announced the plan, Denver Parks and Recreation said that instead of throwing the meat out, they would serve it to needy families. Metro Caring is one non-profit that received the goose meat. On Friday, the non-profit's chef, Rob Russell, made a sampling of goose meals. “Very, very rich source of protein,\' Russell said. Russell compared the dark meat turkey or beef. “I’m making a base for chili and for cottage pie,\' Russell said. “Ground goose, chopped onions, olive oil.\' The shoppers at the food bank then tasted the food. There were multiple options, including a breakfast casserole and South African dish called 'bobotie,' kind of like an egg custard. “It’s going to be a lot harder to come up with a recipe if you’ve never done it before, never worked with it. So I think it’s super helpful that we do have that option,\' one volunteer said. The goal is to show people how the new meat option can be prepared. Those who tried the meat liked it. The product is approved by the USDA. The federal agency oversaw the processing of the geese and then the packaging. It arrived to Metro Caring frozen, wrapped, and ready to cook.'

36 Funny Captions For Traveling, Because An Adventure A Day Keeps Boredom Away

School and Education Elite Daily

There are a lot of events in life that simply need to be photographed and documented for the 'Gram. Major life achievements — like graduating from college or moving into your first apartment — holidays, anniversaries, and days when your outfit just…
'There are a lot of events in life that simply need to be photographed and documented for the 'Gram. Major life achievements like graduating from college or moving into your first apartment holidays, anniversaries, and days when your outfit just looks straight fire are all causes for celebration and a little #content photo shoot. But one thing you should always take photos of is your travels. Seeing the world is such a special and unique experience, so you should document and post your pics for all to see. And while you're at it, you can use some funny captions for traveling to accompany all of your dreamiest snaps, too. Travel pics are always certain to light up your followers' feeds, but a little punny caption and touch of humor is the finishing touch for social media. Whether you want to \'taco-bout the food in Mexico\' or you \'Bolivia that South America is the best continent on the planet,\' travel and humor work well hand in hand. So get to posing, filtering, and captioning all of your favorite travel pics from your most wanderlust-inducing trips. Your followers are sure to enjoy it, I promise. 1. \'An adventure the day keeps the boredom away.\' 2. \'When I get older, the only things I want to regret are the trips I didn't take.\' 3. \'Let's wander where the Wi-Fi is weak.\' 4. \'Catch you on the next flight.\' 5. \'Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.\' Jerry Seinfeld 6. \'Sandy hair, seriously don't care.\' 7. \'The only time when I would consider myself 'extra' is when I'm trying to get perfect travel pics on vacation.\' 8. \'Seas the day.\' 9. \'Playing hooky with my wanderlust today.\' 10. \'I want someone to look at me the way I look at a travel brochure.\' 11. \'Jet lag is for amateurs.\' Dick Clark 12. \'Who needs a boyfriend/girlfriend when you've got the world to explore?\' 13. \'Eiffel in love with Paris.\' 14. \'My wanderlust made me do it.\' 15. \'If traveling were free.. bye.\' 16. \'Don't be a tourist, be a traveler.\' 17. \'I'm in love with cities I've never been to and people I've never met.\' Melody Truong 18. \'It's bad manners to keep a vacation waiting.\' 19. \'Let's wander where the wifi is weak.\' 20. \'Life is beach, I'm just playin' in the sand.\' Lil Wayne, \'Right Above It\' 21. \'Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs.\' Susan Sontag 22. \'I got 99 fanny packs and I can't choose one.\' 23. \'Travel, because money returns. Time doesn't.\' 24. \'Let's taco 'bout going to Mexico.\' 25. \'Tropic it like it's hot.\' 26. \'Paris is always a good idea.\' Audrey Hepburn 27. \'Watch more sunsets than Netflix.\' 28. \'Thank god fanny packs are back in so I can travel AND be trendy.\' 29. \'Thanks for your message, but I am currently out of office.\' 30. \'This is my resting beach face.\' 31. \'Adventure is out there.\' Up 32. \'That little sun of beach.\' 33. \'The glass is always half full when you're on vacation.\' 34. \'Felt like going on another adventure today.. so I did.\' 35. \'Buy the flight. Think later.\' 36. \'Catch flights, not feelings.\''

A$AP Rocky’s release has apparently become a top priority for the Trump family

Celebrities East Bay Times

At the behest of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West, President Trump is working with Swedish officials on the release of A$AP Rock from Swedish jail.
'Call the SEALs. Order the Rangers at the ready. Heck, get the real-life equivalent of Tom Cruise’s Maverick on standby. Operation Free A$AP Rocky is in full effect. A$AP Rocky performs on the Camp Stage during day 2 of Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival 2017 at Exposition Park on October 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)  The release of the rapper from a Swedish jail appears to be a top priority for the US government, thanks to the nation’s most powerful family. We’re talking, of course, about the Kardashian/West clan, which apparently shot their version of the bat signal into the Washington, DC sky, getting the full attention of President Donald Trump — the head of the America’s second most powerful family. “Just spoke to @KanyeWest about his friend A$AP Rocky’s incarceration,” Trump tweeted Friday. “I will be calling the very talented Prime Minister of Sweden to see what we can do about helping A$AP Rocky. So many people would like to see this quickly resolved!” Just spoke to @KanyeWest about his friend A$AP Rocky’s incarceration. I will be calling the very talented Prime Minister of Sweden to see what we can do about helping A$AP Rocky. So many people would like to see this quickly resolved! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2019 Ah, so we’re going the diplomacy route. Can we get a “Don’t lock him up!” chant started? A$AP Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, has been locked up in Sweden since being arrested July 3 on suspicion of assault, but he has not been charged. Stockholm District Court decided Friday that he would remain in custody until July 25,  granting prosecutors an extension to continue investigating whether they will charge the American rapper with a crime. It has been previously reported that aspiring lawyer Kim Kardashian West had contacted White House senior advisor and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner to voice her concerns over A$AP’s incarceration . Since then, Kim’s husband, Kanye West, apparently went straight to the top and made his appeal directly to Trump. “A$AP Rocky is a situation in Sweden,” the president said Friday as he was flanked by First Lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence during an Oval Office press conference for Apollo 11 astronauts. “Sweden’s a great country, and they are friends of mine. And we’re going to be calling, we’ve already started.” Trump went on to say that members of the black community, including some of his friends, have asked for his assistance on the matter. “I personally don’t know A$AP Rocky, but I can tell you that he has tremendous support from the African-American community in this country,” Trump said, “and when I say African-American I think I can really say from everybody in this country. Because we’re all one.” Trump credited the First Lady for bringing A$AP’s situation to his attention. “We’re working with state department and we hope to get him home soon,” Melania Trump told the gathered reporters. Enjoyed this story? Read more entertainment commentary from Cicero Estrella here, and catch up on more celebrity news .'

Iran must pay a price for piracy

Military Boston Herald

Something should be smoldering in the Strait of Hormuz very soon. That something should be an asset of the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy — the mullah regime’s pirate operation. A message needs to be sent to Tehran that the game has changed. No
'Something should be smoldering in the Strait of Hormuz very soon. That something should be an asset of the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy — the mullah regime’s pirate operation. A message needs to be sent to Tehran that the game has changed. No longer should Iran be considered a partner in good faith diplomacy as it was by the Obama administration, who blotted out the decadeslong litany of terror and bloodshed Iran wrought on the Middle East and the West in exchange for globalist accolades. Donald Trump is president now, and he’s not winning any prizes. Nobody likes him, no matter what path he takes. When he commits to peace, his critics mock him for being weak or a puppet of authoritarian regimes. When he stands strong, they call him a lunatic and a warmonger. But Trump is not here to be liked. He is here to re-establish the United States as the world’s dominant superpower. A surefire way to do that is to face down any street bully in our path. Iran has been provoking the United States and our European allies in an escalating fashion for months. There has been consistent harassment of vessels in shipping lanes, the shooting down of an American drone in June and now the seizure of two UK-operated tankers Friday. The fanatical leadership in Tehran has been dialing up the antics as U.S. sanctions have tightened the noose on the country’s economy. The people of Iran largely despise their government, and the regime knows it is sitting on a powder keg. It is hoping that various international tantrums will move European governments to pressure Trump to loosen the sanctions and rejoin the Iran Deal. That would send entirely the wrong message, emboldening Iran to act out again and again in increasingly extreme ways. It is of the utmost importance that the Strait of Hormuz be protected from Iranian aggression. The way to do that is to warn Iran that it will pay a price, including the targeting of its gunboats for illegal ship seizures. Strikes should be surgical and limited — no one wants war, but a reluctance to respond to Iran’s aggressions, which long predate the Trump and Obama administrations, will undoubtedly result in more provocations from Tehran, overtly or through a terrorist proxy. Recently, Iran has warned that it intends to kick up its nuclear production, restarting deactivated centrifuges and ramping up uranium enrichment. An effective strike now would send a clear message that such actions would have consequences.  The Obama-era days of covertly delivering pallets of cash are over.'

This $7 Clear Case is the Best Way to Keep Your Apple Watch Series 4 Looking Brand New

Apple SPY

Keep your Apple Watch looking new (even when it isn’t).
'Boy Genius Report has found an ultra-light Apple Watch case that will protect your accessory from unwanted scratches and dust. Find out more from BGR and shop below: From BGR : If you have an Apple Watch Series 4, you spend at least $400 on it. Of course, there’s absolutely no question that it’s worth every penny… but there’s also absolutely no question that your pricey smartwatch is going to get banged up from normal wear and tear. If you want to make sure that your precious Apple Watch looks just as good after a year as it did the moment you first took it out of the box, you need a Smiling Clear Case for Apple Watch Series 4. There are versions available for both the 40mm and 44mm Apple Watches, and it starts at just $7! Image courtesy of BGR Buy: Smiling Clear Case for Apple Watch Series 4 $7.99 Each set comes complete with a high quality, anti-scratch built-in screen protector and designed with precise cutouts for functional buttons and ports. \t \t\t \t\t\t Time Flies: The 5 Best Portable Apple Watch Chargers for Power on the Go \t\t \t This article is being republished with the permission of Boy Genius Report. To read the original version, click here .'

Everything you need to know about doing yoga during pregnancy

Training and Health Well+Good

And how it can help.
'As someone who views fitness as a non-negotiable part of my day to day, I’ve always vowed that I will remain active whenever I decide to get pregnant . Although I’ve seen pregnant women sweating beside me in all sorts of workout classes, the one I’ve always assumed is the most nurturing—not to mention gentle—is yoga . To get the complete low-down, I asked a pro yogi to explain everything you need to know about doing yoga during pregnancy. “Yoga can be a great addition for many women during their pregnancy, for a variety of reasons,” says Kelly Turner, yoga teacher and director of education at YogaSix . “The body is rapidly changing, and yoga can be a tremendous tool to help adjust to the aches and pains of the expanding form.” The mindfulness component helps, too—she adds that it can even help with your mental preparation for the birth, as well as reduce stress and help you to truly relax. As with everything before you try anything out, you should check with your doctor to get the A-OK to try out a prenatal class (or any other form of workout, for that matter). Prenatal yoga classes have been around for a long time, but that’s not necessarily the only kind you’re allowed to stick to. “It really all depends on the person,” says Turner. “Prenatal yoga can be wonderful for many, as it’s taught with the changes of pregnancy in mind, as well as the various contraindications that they may need to be aware of.” These flows tend to be very gentle and restorative, so she notes that if you’re used to a more quick-hitting, vinyasa flow, you may think these are a little slower than you like. You can still do your regular, faster-paced yoga classes too, though—it’s just recommended that you get the okay from your doc before you hit the mat. “It’s important to get the okay from your doctor before you begin or continue your yoga practice, as certain pregnancy conditions may affect your ability to practice safely,” she says. Of all the yoga types that exist, it’s hot yoga that may be the hardest to continue while pregnant. “Most doctors will recommend against practicing [yoga] in a hot room during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester,” says Turner. “Essentially, you want to let things ‘take root’ during this time, so it’s better to go easy on your practice.” —Kelly Turner Beyond avoiding the heat, you might also want to keep in mind modifications for certain poses, and some might be best to skip altogether. “Generally speaking, during the first trimester, you’re advised against doing deep twists or forward folds,” she says. “Essentially, you want to let things ‘take root’ during this time, so it’s better to go easy on your practice.” Once your first trimester is up, she notes that open twists can be okay as long as you stay gentle with them. Of all the poses that exist, hip openers are particularly beneficial during this time (which makes sense). “Poses that help open the hips like garland pose can be great to prep for labor,” says Turner. “Avoid laying on your belly once it gets uncomfortable. After 16 weeks, take savasana either on your left side or resting at an incline to avoid putting pressure on the vena cava, which provides blood flow to the baby.” What’s interesting is that when you’re pregnant, your body’s actually  more flexible. “The body is producing a hormone called relaxin, to help stretch the ligaments in preparation for labor,” says Turner, who adds that this is why you’re more limber throughout those nine months. That said, it’s especially careful to not overdo it. “Don’t over stretch, as this can lead to issues after delivering,” she says. “A good rule is that if you couldn’t do something before you were pregnant, don’t do it now.” New to yoga but wanna try it? Look to prenatal yoga classes. “If you’ve never tried yoga before pregnancy, you’ll likely enjoy a prenatal yoga class, since they’re taught specifically with pre- and post-natal women in mind,” says Turner. And though it may sound challenging to bend and twist at the end of your pregnancy, Turner points out that she flowed up until a week past her due date. “It’s really up to the mama-to-be as to what’s comfortable,” she says. “It’s important to stay in communication with your doctor if they have a reason for you to suspend your practice. And it’s also important to listen to your gut as to when it feels good versus when it’s time to just rest.” As is the case in  everyone’s workout regimen. Now for your beauty routine—here’s your guide to skin care when pregnancy . And this is the natural oil that can help with stretch marks (Hilary Duff’s a fan).'

Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K Race cancelled due to dangerous heat concerns

Trotting WGN-TV

CHICAGO — The Chicago Fire Department announced the Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K race has been cancelled due to heat concerns. The race, originally scheduled for Saturday at 7 a.m., has been cancelled as dangerously high temperatures are on the way as parts of
'CHICAGO — The Chicago Fire Department announced the Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K race has been cancelled due to heat concerns. The race, originally scheduled for Saturday at 7 a.m., has been cancelled as dangerously high temperatures are on the way as parts of the Chicago area are under an Excessive Heat Warning. Organizers of the race released a statement: Due to the continued excessive heat warnings that have been issued in the Chicago area for the past week, we have made the decision to cancel Saturday’s 5K race that is a part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon event weekend. With athlete safety being paramount, race officials have determined this is the best course of action. Sunday’s half marathon and 10K are not affected. Participants who registered to compete in the 5K will receive an email with further details.'

Longtime Anaheim public servant Irv Pickler dies at 98

Sports Orange County Register

A city councilman for 12 years, Pickler also served on local nonprofit boards and cheered on his sports coach sons.
'Irv Pickler didn’t grow up in Anaheim, but after moving his young family here in 1956, he threw himself wholeheartedly into his new community. Pickler, a decorated World War II veteran who served on the Anaheim City Council and numerous city and nonprofit boards throughout his life, died July 17. He was 98. Born in Massachusetts in 1921, Isadore “Irv” Pickler was drafted into the Army and then switched to the Air Force, where he flew 35 missions over Germany as a bombardier during the war, said his son, Brad Pickler. He and his wife, Betty, moved to the Los Angeles area in 1945 and settled in Anaheim in 1956 to raise their three sons and two daughters, according to information the city provided from the Anaheim Heritage Center. As a school board member in the 1960s, Pickler got to hand high school diplomas to one of his sons and one of his daughters. His lengthy list of community involvement included joining the Kiwanis, serving on the county planning commission and sitting on the board of directors for the former Anaheim Memorial Hospital, Brad Pickler said. He coached his kids’ Little League teams and continued to be their biggest fan, regularly attending games at Cypress College, where as adults Brad and his brother, Scott, coached women’s softball and men’s baseball, respectively. A three-decade member of the college’s foundation board , Pickler in 2011 was given an honorary associate’s degree, one of only three the school has awarded. With a heart for public service, Pickler served 12 years on the Anaheim City Council, from 1982 to 1994. During that time, Anaheim’s population grew significantly, the city broke ground on a major expansion of the convention center and approved plans for the future Honda Center, and it hosted events for the 1984 Olympics and a 1989 Major League Baseball All-Star game. Pickler acted as a mentor to Councilman Steve Faessel, who said he learned to “do everything that you can to support the community and try to be everywhere and support all the organizations.” Faessel said despite having different politics than some of his council colleagues, Pickler “always tried to find a middle road,” got along with everyone and always had time for people. “What drove him was the community and the needs of the community,” Faessel said. Brad Pickler said his father was an upbeat person who, in his later years, insisted on being a caregiver to his wife through the years-long progression of her Alzheimer’s Disease. They were married 53 years. Related Articles \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t$500,000 state grant will help restore “historic jewels” in Buena Park\t\t \t\t\t \t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\tEnjoy a free concert on the lawn at Saddleback Church’s San Juan campus\t\t \t\t\t \t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\tEndless love: After 32 years and 4 kids, Westminster man weds sweetheart in his final days\t\t \t\t\t \t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\tNixon Library plans day of activities to celebrate moon landing\t\t \t\t\t \t \t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\tLa Habra opens its first Trader Joe’s after years petitioning for a store\t\t \t\t\t \t Irv Pickler is survived by his children, Don, Marcie, Ellen, Scott and Brad and their spouses; 10 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. The family is planning a late August memorial through Anaheim’s Hilgenfeld Mortuary. “I’m sure the place will be packed because he just had so many friends in the city of Anaheim alone,” Brad Pickler said. “Everybody was a friend to Irv.”'

L.A. Man Gets 4 Life Sentences for 2010 Series of Violent Home-Invasion Robbery Killings

Law and Order KTLA

A man convicted of killing four people during a 2010 series of brutal home-invasion robberies in Los Angeles and Hawthorne was sentenced Friday to four consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole, officials said. John Wesley Ewell, 62,
'A man convicted of killing four people during a 2010 series of brutal home-invasion robberies in Los Angeles and Hawthorne was sentenced Friday to four consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole, officials said. John Wesley Ewell, 62, pleaded no contest in May to four counts of first-degree murder and four counts of first-degree residential robbery. He entered the plea as part of a deal negotiated with prosecutors, the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release . The four victims were choked and strangled to death during three separate home invasions in fall 2010. The victims included a married couple, an 80-year-old man and a woman who lived in Ewell’s neighborhood, prosecutors said. Even before the killings, Ewell had a lengthy criminal history that included robbery convictions but repeatedly dodged prosecution under the full weight of California’s three-strikes law, according to a Los Angeles Times investigation. Ewell — who worked as a hairstylist in South L.A. — was already being prosecuted in a string of Home Depot thefts when he committed the home-invasion homicides, but a judge had delayed sending Ewell to prison so he could address medical issues, the Times reported. On Sept. 24, 2010, Ewell allegedly choked and hit 80-year-old Hanna Morcos before robbing the victim’s Hawthorne home. Morcos suffered a heart attack from the assault and died, the DA’s office said. Weeks later, on Oct. 13, prosecutors say Ewell strangled 53-year-old Denice Roberts while robbing her home on the 12600 block of Hoover Street in Harbor Gateway, close to where the defendant lived at the time. After Ewell’s arrest, others in the neighborhood told the L.A. Times they found it hard to believe the man they knew as kindly handyman could be behind the crime. “His wife is devastated. It is a shock to everybody that knows him,” Sheila Spinks said. “He likes to talk to kids, tell them to stay out of trouble, stay on the right path.” The last two slayings occurred the next week, on Oct. 22. Ewell killed Leamon Turnage , 69, and his 57-year-old wife Robyn Turnage — who lived a few blocks from Morcos — by strangling and hitting them during a robbery, according to prosecutors. Ewell was arrested days later after being caught on video using Robyn Turnage’s ATM card, officials said.'

Iran’s seizure of UK tanker in Gulf seen as escalation

Law and Order WTOP

LONDON (AP) — Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker Friday and briefly detained a second vessel in the Strait of Hormuz, intensifying tensions in the strategic waterway that has become a flashpoint between Tehran and the West.The seizing of the
'LONDON (AP) — Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker Friday and briefly detained a second vessel in the Strait of Hormuz, intensifying tensions in the strategic waterway that has become a flashpoint between Tehran and the West. The seizing of the British tanker marked perhaps the most significant escalation since tensions between Iran and the West began rising in May. At that time, the U.S. announced it was dispatching an aircraft carrier and additional troops to the Middle East, citing unspecified threats posed by Iran. The ongoing showdown has caused jitters around the globe, with each maneuver bringing fear that any misunderstanding or misstep by either side could lead to war. Details of what took place Friday remained sketchy after Iran reported that it had seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. The strait at the mouth of the Persian Gulf is a shipping channel for one-fifth of all global crude exports. The Stena Impero was taken to an Iranian port because it was not complying with “international maritime laws and regulations,” Iran’s Revolutionary Guard declared. A statement from Stena Bulk, which owns the seized tanker, said it was unable to make contact with the ship after it was approached by unidentified vessels and a helicopter in international waters. A spokesman for the company’s owners said the tanker was in “full compliance with all navigation and international regulations.” The company said the tanker had 23 crew members of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationalities and there were no reports of any of them were injured. The U.K. has featured prominently in the recent tensions with Iran. Britain’s Royal Marines assisted in the seizure of an Iranian oil supertanker on July 4 by Gibraltar, a British overseas territory off the southern coast of Spain. Britain said it would release the vessel if Iran could prove it was not breaching European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria. Gibraltar’s government said Friday that its Supreme Court had extended by 30 days the detention of the Panama-flagged Grace, which was loaded with over 2 million barrels of Iranian crude oil. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt initially said two ships were seized Friday in the Strait of Hormuz, the second sailing under a Liberian flag. The owner of the Liberian-flagged tanker later said the ship was briefly boarded by armed guards before being allowed to go. Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency tweeted that the Mesdar had left Iran’s territorial waters. “These seizures are unacceptable,” Hunt said as he prepared to enter an emergency government meeting Friday night. “It is essential that freedom of navigation is maintained and that all ships can move safely and freely in the region.” “We’re not looking at military options, we’re looking at a diplomatic way to resolve the situation, but we are very clear that it must be resolved,” Hunt later told Sky News, warning that if the situation is not resolved quickly “there will be serious consequences.” U.K. Chamber of Shipping chief executive Bob Sanguinetti said the seizure represented a severe escalation of tensions in the Gulf and made it clear that merchant vessels urgently needed more protection. The British government should do “whatever is necessary” to ensure the safe and swift return of the ship’s crew, Sanguinetti said. President Donald Trump said U.S. officials would talk with Britain about the unfolding crisis. “This only goes to show what I’m saying about Iran: Trouble, nothing but trouble,” he said. Central Command said the U.S. has intensified air patrols over the Strait of Hormuz in response to the seizure. A Central Command spokesman, Lt. Col. Earl Brown, said a small number of additional patrol aircraft are flying in international airspace to monitor the situation. The incident came two days after Washington claimed that a U.S. warship downed an Iranian drone in the strait. Iran denied that it lost an aircraft in the area. On June 20, Iran shot down an American drone in the same waterway, and Trump came close to retaliating but called off an airstrike at the last moment. Tensions in the region have been escalating since Trump withdrew the U.S. last year from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and imposed sweeping economic sanctions on Iran, including its oil exports. The sanctions have hit the Iranian economy hard. Iran’s government has desperately tried to get out of the chokehold, pressuring the other partners in the nuclear deal, particularly European nations, to pressure the U.S. to lift the crippling sanctions. The Europeans — Germany, France, Britain, and the European Union — want to maintain the deal, but have not been able to address Iranian demands without violating the sanctions. Iran has begun breaching some of the restrictions on its activities outlined in the agreement to put pressure on them to find a solution. The U.S. has asked Mideast allies like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in past weeks to contribute financially and militarily to a Trump administration proposal called the Sentinel Program — a coalition of nations working with the U.S. to preserve maritime security in the Persian Gulf and keep eyes on Iran. Late Friday, officials said the U.S. is sending several hundred troops as well as aircraft and air defense missiles to Saudi Arabia to counter Iran. The move has been in the works for many weeks and is not a response to Friday’s seizure by Iran of a British tanker. The arrangement was announced by the Saudi government, which said it was meant to “enhance security” in the region. Before the British ship was seized, Iran and the United States disagreed over Washington’s claim that a U.S. warship downed the Iranian drone. American officials said they used electronic jamming to bring down the unmanned aircraft, while Iran said it simply didn’t happen. Neither side provided evidence to prove its claim. At the White House, Trump said flatly of the Iranian drone: “We shot it down.” But Pentagon and other officials have said repeatedly that the USS Boxer, a Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz, actually jammed the drone’s signal, causing it to crash, and did not fire a missile. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive technology. In Tehran, the Iranian military said all its drones returned safely to their bases. Maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz has deteriorated in recent weeks after six attacks on oil tankers that the U.S. has blamed on Iran — an allegation the Islamic Republic denies. There was also a brief, but tense standoff between the British navy and Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels recently. The British navy said it warned three Guard vessels away after they tried to impede the passage of a commercial British tanker that the navy was escorting. The incidents have jolted the shipping industry, with some of the 2,000 companies operating ships in the region on high alert and many ordering their vessels to transit the Strait of Hormuz only during the daylight hours and at high speed. Of the roughly 2,000 companies that operate ships in the Persian Gulf, only a handful of companies have halted bookings outright. U.K.-flagged vessels represented less than 0.6% of the 67,533 ships sailing through the Strait of Hormuz in 2018, with 427 transits, according to maritime publication Lloyd’s List, quoting research from Russel Group. Crude oil prices climbed following Iran’s announcement about the Stena Impero as traders worried the escalating tensions could affect crude supplies. __ Jill Lawless in London, Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and David Rising in Berlin contributed. Source'