When traveling outside of the United States, American’s can fall prey to criminals in the foreign nations they’re visiting, and if they choose not to obey local laws, they can end up becoming convicted felons.
WNBA star Brittney Griner was arrested in Moscow for smuggling marijuana vape cartridges into the hostile country. Despite her claim that the move was unintentional, she pleaded guilty to charges that could result in her spending ten years in prison.
The Biden administration has proposed a prisoner swap for Griner and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan for Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, who was convicted on a 25-year sentence in 2011 for conspiracy to mass murder Americans.
Griner and Whelan might make it back home one day, but the US government definitely won’t try to get back the two American men who were convicted of killing an Italian cop while visiting the country in 2019.
Two Americans, One Knife
Finnegan Lee Elder, 21, and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth, 20, allegedly attempted to purchase cocaine in a street crime that went wrong while they were teenagers on vacation in Italy. A drug dealer took their money, but did not supply the purchased product, so they retaliated by stealing his cellphone in an attempt to get their money back.
When the Californian teens tried to reclaim their cash, the brazen dealer enlisted the Carabinieri police to help avoid the extortion attempt. Vice Brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega, 35, and his partner Andrea Varriale arrived to the meeting in street clothes.
The Americans boys allegedly thought that the undercover cops were actually street toughs who were sent by the dealer to assault them. The fight that followed took Cerciello Rega’s life, when Elder stabbed Cerciello Rega 11 times. In the aftermath, Natale-Hjorth helped conceal the murder weapon.
Elder testified at their trial that he feared Cerciello Rega was going to strangle and kill him, prior to stabbing him repeatedly. Varriale’s account was more compelling, and ultimately led to a guilty verdict. Natale-Hjorth’s attempt to hide the knife made him eligible to be charged equally.
Elder apologized to the Italian court before he was sentenced to life in prison. “I took a man’s life, I took a husband away from his wife, I broke a bond between brothers and I took a son away from his mother,” he said. “I’ll never be able to forgive myself for this, and I don’t expect Mr. Mario Cerciello’s family to ever forgive me, although I truly hope one day they will.”
In a terrifying case of charity work gone wrong, a group of 17 Christian Aid Ministries were kidnapped by a Haitian gang and held for ransom for two months, before making a dangerous escape.
The 400 Mawozo gang kidnapped the missionaries as they headed home after building an orphanage in Ganthier, Haiti on Oct. 16, 2021. The gang insanely demanded $1 million per person to let the group, which included four children, return home safely.
The gang released two of the hostages on Nov. 21 and let three more were let go two weeks later, when they became sick due to the conditions of their capture. A ransom, which was significantly less than their original ask was reportedly paid to the gang by a private party, but they declined to release all of the hostages.
The remaining people being held knew that their lives were at risk, and opted to attempt an escape on their own.
took them a while to all agree on when or how this should take place. To attempt such a thing would be dangerous! They sought God in prayer over and over again, seeking direction from Him,” a spokesman for the group’s ministry said.
“On several occasions, they planned to escape, but they had decided if specific things didn’t happen, they would accept that as God’s direction to wait,” he explained.
When the group agreed it was time to escape, they managed to open the door that was closed and blocked, then quietly left the camp, despite numerous guards lurking in the area.
They hiked ten miles through the woods towards a mountain, as they relied only on the moonlight to see. They ran into someone who decided to help them and phoned for help. The U.S. Coast Guard picked them up the same night, and flew them to safety in Florida.