Drug War Chronicle #775 - March 14, 2013

1. Snitch: Action Thriller With a Drug War Message [FEATURE]

There's a Hollywood blockbuster action thriller with a message of interest to drug reformers. "Snitch" tells a tale of family sorrow and tragedy wrapped inside drug war injustices, and it's doing just fine at the box office.

2. Donate Today to Help End Prohibition

StoptheDrugWar.org needs your support to continue our work during the most important time in drug reform we've ever seen. We have gifts to send you too, with donations of $15 or more.

3. UN Report Slams Cruel Drug Treatment as "Torture"

Human rights are being violated in the name of drug treatment, according to a report from the UN's special rapporteur on torture.

4. New Mexico Marijuana Decrim Bill Passes House

A marijuana decriminalization and depenalization bill has passed the New Mexico House, but the margin of victory was close, the clock is ticking on the Senate, and the Republican governor has threatened a veto.

5. Medical Marijuana Update

There is action in various state houses, Michiganders continue to tussle over their medical marijuana law, and there's an investigation going on in Maine.

6. Portland (ME) Greens in Marijuana Legalization Referendum

While a marijuana legalization bill is pending in Maine, Green activists in Portland aren't counting on the legislature; they're about to roll out a local legalization initiative.

7. Britain to Study Other Countries' Drug Reforms

Britain will study drug reforms in other countries, the Home Affairs minister said -- but not too quickly and not with any notion of decriminalizing drugs.

8. ACLU to Examine SWAT, Police Militarization

The ACLU is undertaking a nationwide investigation into the use of military-style weapons, equipment, and tactics by civilian law enforcement.

9. Undercover Narc Kills Armed Michigan Teen

A Michigan teenage has been shot dead after pulling a gun and reportedly attempting to rob an undercover task force narcotics officer in Southfield Tuesday.

10. This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Cops growing pot, cops stealing pain pills, cops doing rip-offs, and narcs up to shady doings. Just another week on the corrupt cops beat.

1. Snitch: Action Thriller With a Drug War Message [FEATURE]

Snitch is a Hollywood action thriller with a message, and it’s a message that is so far playing well with audiences and theaters across the land. The $15 million crime and justice pic starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Susan Sarandon has already done more than $32 million in gross box office receipts, and its being held over for a fourth week in select theaters around the country.

Based on a 1999 PBS Frontline documentary of the same name, Snitch tells the story of trucking company owner John Matthews (Johnson), whose estranged son is set up by a friend in trouble with the law. The son accepts delivery of a package of Ecstasy, and is then raided and arrested by the DEA. Matthews' hired attorney explains to the stunned parents that their son is looking at a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence, and the only way out is to snitch on somebody else.

The son bravely refuses to rat out his friends and is kept behind bars, where he is brutalized, but Matthews feels it is nobler to save his son and decides to intercede on his behalf. Using his business connections, he wrangles a meeting with hard-hearted, politically-driven US Attorney Joanne Keeghan (Sarandon) and offers to set up dope dealers himself if that can get his son out of trouble.

From there, it's typical action thriller material, with dangerous, desperate dope dealers (who already have two strikes and aren't about to go down for a third), tormented ex-cons trying to go straight, duplicitious (but kind hearted) DEA agents, and bloodthirsty Mexican cartels. There is danger, suspense, shoot 'em ups, and car chases before the movie resolves with junior getting out of jail and the family disappearing into the witness protection program.

But running throughout the nearly two-hour movie are the twin themes of snitching and mandatory minimum sentencing. Snitch lays bare the workings of the drug war's informing imperative, scratching at the surface of the moral contradictions involved, and subtly brings to life the mindless cruelty of imposing lengthy mandatory minimums on nonviolent drug offenders, but it manages to do so in the middle of a mainstream cinematic entertainment vehicle.

That's just what director Ric Roman Waugh wanted, he told Drug War Chronicle in a phone interview Wednesday from Austin, where he is attending the SXSW festival. Once merely a music showcase, SXSW is now a playland for all sorts of artistic endeavors, including Hollywood action films with a message.

"The move is really a first testament to how far you go to protect your kids," said Waugh. "In the documentary, he didn't just talk the talk, he walked the walk. He got the US Attorney to sign off and reduce his kid's sentence for a bigger bust. That really happened, and we wanted to open that up."

When he was offered the chance to rewrite the script for the movie, he jumped at the offer, he said.

"They sent me the original script and the Frontline documentary, and it was that core message that really jumped out, and we turned that into a first-person point of view movie," the stuntman turned director said. "The snitching and the mandatory minimums were integral to what we wanted to talk about. The message of the movie is that you can be for or against the war on drugs, but watch what this father went through and then think about these controversial mandatory minimums. When you walk out of the theater and realize nonviolent drug offenders are doing longer sentences than rapists and people who committed manslaughter, that's something to think about."

panel at DC Snitch screening, with Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA, FAMM president Julie Stewart, Waugh, and Lawrence & Lamont Garrison
Snitch was screened last week at an event hosted by Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) in Washington, DC, but the film has been generating buzz among the broader public as well.

"The response has been tremendous," Waugh said. "There is a core audience that will go see a movie with a message, but that's a relatively small audience. But when you can put that message in the body of bigger action thriller and you're not hitting them over the head with it but just allowing them to experience the controversies, they're coming out and talking about it. They're talking about the world of informants, the liar's club, if you will, and what you would do if your life or the life of your child was on the line. It's created a lot of dialog, and that's what we intended.

Unlike documentaries, which typically play to art house audiences and die quiet, largely unlamented deaths, this Hollywood treatment of the issues has demonstrated some staying power.

"It's been playing for three weeks and will continue for quite awhile," said Waugh. "We've exceeded expectations for movies this size, lots of theaters are keeping us over for the fourth week, and we're even adding a few screens. People are able to relate to this in their own lives. What would happen if their kids were in harm's way? The movie tries to look these draconian laws and the system as a whole and get people to ask where they stand on them. We're only halfway there, and it's already a success. That's a real testament that you can do a message movie, you can do a commercial action thriller that's about something."

As noted above, even though Snitch opened on February 22, it's still being held over in theaters across the land. If you have an interest in drug war issues or if you get off on action flicks in general or flicks starring The Rock in particular, or better yet, if you have a friend or family member who's gaga for The Rock or a sucker for car chases, but has displayed no particular interest in or awareness of issues like snitching or mandatory minimums, it's time to have a movie date while Snitch is still on the big screen.

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3. UN Report Slams Cruel Drug Treatment as "Torture"

Compulsory "treatment" for drug addiction in some parts of the world is "tantamount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," according to report last month from the UN's special rapporteur on torture and other degrading treatments and punishments. The report was delivered to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Vienna.

drug "rehabilitation center," Vietnam (ohchr.org)
Authored by Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez, the report takes special aim at forced "rehabilitation centers" for drug users. Such centers are typically found in Southeast Asian states, such as Vietnam and Thailand, as well as in some countries in the former Soviet Union. But the report also decries the lack of opiate substitution therapies in confinement setting and bemoans the lack of access to effective opioid pain treatment in large swathes of the world.

"Compulsory detention for drug users is common in so-called rehabilitation centers," Mendez wrote. "Sometimes referred to as drug treatment centers or 'reeducation through labor' centers or camps, these are institutions commonly run by military or paramilitary, police or security forces, or private companies. Persons who use, or are suspected of using, drugs and who do not voluntarily opt for drug treatment and rehabilitation are confined in such centers and compelled to undergo diverse interventions."

The victims of such interventions face not only drug withdrawal without medical assistance, but also "state-sanctioned beatings, caning or whipping, forced labor, sexual abuse, and intentional humiliation," as well as "flogging therapy," "bread and water therapy," and forced electroshock treatments, all in the name of rehabilitation.

As Mendez notes, both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Office on Drug Control (UNODC) have determined that "neither detention nor forced labor have been recognized by science as treatment for drug use disorders." Such forced detentions, often with no legal or medical evaluation or recourse, thus "violate international human rights law and are illegitimate substitutes for evidence-based measures, such as substitution therapy, psychological interventions and other forms of treatment given with full, informed consent."

Such centers continue to operate despite calls to close them from organizations including the WHO, the UNODC, and the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs. And they are often operating with "direct or indirect support and assistance from international donors without adequate human rights oversight."

Drug users are "a highly stigmatized and criminalized population" who suffer numerous abuses, including denial of treatment for HIV, deprivation of child custody, and inclusion in drug registries where their civil rights are curtailed. One form of ill-treatment and "possibly torture of drug users" is the denial of opiate substitute therapy, "including as a way of eliciting criminal confessions through inducing painful withdrawal symptoms."

The denial of such treatments in jails and prisons is "a violation of the right to be free from torture and ill-treatment," Mendez noted, and should be considered a violation in non-custodial settings as well. "By denying effective drug treatment, state drug policies intentionally subject a large group of people to severe physical pain, suffering and humiliation, effectively punishing them for using drugs and trying to coerce them into abstinence, in complete disregard of the chronic nature of dependency and of the scientific evidence pointing to the ineffectiveness of punitive measures."

The rapporteur also noted with chagrin that 5.5 billion people, or 83% of the planet's population, live in areas "with low or no access to controlled medicines and have no access to treatment for moderate to severe pain." While most of Mendez' concern is directed at the developing world, he also notes that "in the United States, over a third of patients are not adequately treated for pain."

Mendez identified obstacles to the availability of opioid pain medications as "overly restrictive drug control regulations," as well as misinterpretation of those regulations, deficiencies in supply management, lack of concern about palliative care, and "ingrained prejudices" about using such medications.

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4. New Mexico Marijuana Decrim Bill Passes House

A bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults and depenalize the possession of up to a half pound of pot narrowly passed the New Mexico House Tuesday. The measure was approved on a vote of 37-33.

[Editor's Note: Decriminalization means the removal of the possibility for criminal charges. It can, and in this case does, make possession a civil offense akin to a traffic citation. Depenalization means the removal of the possibility of jail or prison time while possession remains a criminal offense.]

Introduced by Rep. Emily Kane (D-Albuquerque), House Bill 465 would decriminalize the possession of up to four ounces. Possession of between four and eight ounces would be a petty misdemeanor, but the maximum sentence would be a fine. Under current law, possession of up to an ounce is petty misdemeanor punishable by fines and jail time, while possession of between one and eight ounces is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

"Why on God's green Earth would we want to spend money throwing college kids in jail for having a few joints when we could be spending that money on early childhood education?" asked Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) during the debate. Criminalizing marijuana users is "institutional state stupidity," he added.

"Spending $5 million a year to arrest people with small amounts of marijuana is a waste of resources," said Rep. Kane. "We could put that money to better use."

"Why are we not legalizing it?" asked Rep. Bill McCamley (D-Las Cruces), unwilling to stop with half-measures. McCamley laughed at the notion that marijuana users were a threat to public safety. Instead, he said, they typically "watch PBS, laugh, eat some Cheetos and go to bed."

Speaking in opposition to the bill was former police officer Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Albuquerque), who said he had seen "the bad side" of marijuana. He said he had once stopped a car full of teen pot smokers who then attacked him with a screwdriver.

The bill now heads to the Senate, which has only a handful of days to act on it. Even if the bill were to pass the Senate, it still faces an uphill fight. Gov. Susana Martinez has said she would veto the bill if it reached her desk, and the margin of passage in the House isn't enough to override that veto.

"As a prosecutor and district attorney, the governor has seen firsthand how illegal drug use destroys lives, especially among our youth, and she opposes drug legalization or decriminalization efforts," her office said in an earlier statement re-released on Monday. "Proponents of these efforts often ignore the fact that the vast majority of people convicted for possessing small amounts of marijuana are diverted to treatment programs and those who are sentenced to prison are individuals with long criminal records with convictions for things like assault, burglary, and other crimes."

If decriminalization is going to happen in New Mexico this year, it's going to require quick action in the Senate and the rapid building of veto-proof majorities in both houses.

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5. Medical Marijuana Update

There is action in various state houses, Michiganders continue to tussle over their medical marijuana law, and there's an investigation going on in Maine. Let's get to it:

California

Last Thursday, the California Coastal Commission approved Imperial Beach zoning law changes that banned dispensaries from operating in the city. The city had approved the ban in July 2011, but action was delayed while opponents of the ban sought unsuccessfully to overturn it with a municipal initiative last November. The change in local zoning will not impact the ability for up to three people to form a collective to cultivate marijuana in Imperial Beach.

Maine

Last Friday, state officials said they were investigating a cultivation center that supplies the state's largest dispensary operator. The grow operation supplies Wellness Connection of Maine's four dispensaries, which all closed last week. A Wellness Connection spokesperson said the state was conducting "a comprehensive regulatory inspection" and that there was no connection between the investigation and the dispensary closings. State officials had no further comment.

Maryland

Last Friday, the governor's office suggested he would support a pending medical marijuana bill. Joshua Sharfstein, Gov. Martin O’Malley’s secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene, testified before lawmakers on Friday that a bill sponsored by Del. Dan K. Morhaim (D), a Baltimore County doctor, contained most of the provisions the governor could support. The bill would allow academic medical centers in the state to operate "compassionate use programs" beginning in 2016.

Massachusetts

Last Friday, the Massachusetts Medical Society called for research on marijuana's medical uses. The move signals an evolution in the thinking of the doctors' group, which had publicly opposed passage of the state's medical marijuana initiative last year. The group called for research to ensure that marijuana is subjected to the same rigorous testing as prescription drugs.

Michigan

Last Tuesday, a circuit court judge ruled that medical marijuana users can collect unemployment benefits. Ingham County Circuit Judge William Collette overturned a decision by a state commission that found a state-approved medical marijuana user, who was fired from her job after failing a drug test, was not eligible for the benefits. Collette ruled that the worker had already informed her employer of her medical marijuana use and the drug test "merely demonstrated what she had informed her employer of prior to the test -- that she uses medical marijuana."

Last Wednesday, police in Grand Rapids raided three dispensaries. Dispensaries were ruled illegal by the state Supreme Court last month, and the state attorney general has given local prosecutors the go-ahead to start shutting them down. At least one dispensary has already reopened, with the proprietor arguing that it is not violating the law because it requires caregivers to be present with patients during transactions. No charges have been filed yet.

Last Friday, a circuit court judge ruled that dispensaries are bound by local zoning laws. Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Archie Brown made the ruling in refusing dismiss a complaint against two Ypsilanti Township residents who are accused of growing more marijuana than the town's zoning ordinance allows. Under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, caregivers can grow up to 72 plants for patients, but township code only allowed the 12 plants approved for an individual patient. The case was the first court challenge to zoning laws restricting medical marijuana in the state.

Minnesota

On Wednesday, a Public Policy Polling survey found that 65% of state voters support medical marijuana. The results of the statewide survey come as state lawmakers prepare a bipartisan bill that would make it legal for Minnesota residents with debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS, to access and use medical marijuana if advised to do so by their physicians. Its introduction is expected within the next two weeks, at which time details of the proposal will be made available. The poll found a strong majority (54%) of voters in the state would disapprove of their county sheriff or county attorney working to defeat such a bill, while only 24% would approve.Two-thirds (66%) think Gov. Mark Dayton should sign it if it is approved by the legislature.

Missouri

Last Friday, a medical marijuana bill was reintroduced in the state legislature. The bill, House Bill 688, would allow patients with debilitating conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, and multiple sclerosis, to use and possess marijuana for medical purposes if their doctors recommend it. The bill would put the question to voters on the November 2014 general election ballot.

New Hampshire

Last Thursday, a medical marijuana bill advanced in the House. The Health Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee voted 14-1 to recommend that the full House pass the bill after amending it to block out of state patients from buying marijuana at the five dispensaries the bill envisions. Out of state patients could bring up to two ounces of their medicine with them. The amended bill also lowers the number of plants allowed from four adults to three and reduces the area of a legal grow site from 100 square feet to 50.

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6. Portland (ME) Greens in Marijuana Legalization Referendum

There is a marijuana legalization bill pending in the Maine legislature, but some activists in the state's largest city aren't waiting for elected officials to get the ball rolling. The Portland Green Independent Committee was set to deliver a request for a municipal legalization petition drive at the city clerk's office late last week.

"We are still waiting to hear back from corporation counsel," committee chair Tom MacMillan told the Portland Daily Sun. "We are going to begin collecting signatures soon on a citizens' initiative to legalize marijuana in the city of Portland."

Once the clerk certifies the petition, organizers will have 180 days to gather 1,500 valid voter signatures. If the signatures are approved, a citywide vote could happen as early as November.

The final language has yet to be approved, but the Greens are expected to call for the legalization of the possession of up to 2 ½ ounces, as well as the possession of pot-smoking paraphernalia. Under current Maine law, possession of up to 1 ¼ ounces is decriminalized, punishable as a civil infraction with a maximum fine of $250.

While Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) has prefiled a legalization bill (LR-21), the Greens aren't counting on it passing this year, and they aren't waiting to find out if it does.

"Any progress that we've seen on this has come from voters," Green Independent city councilor David Marshall told the Portland Press Herald Tuesday. And while Maine already has decriminalization, "It's still a crime. It still affects people's lives."

The timeline now is up to city officials, the Greens said. "We should probably see some of those petitions on the streets next week," Marshall predicted.

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7. Britain to Study Other Countries' Drug Reforms

British Home Secretary Theresa May has ordered a "what works" study of drug reforms in other countries, but has rejected a call from the House of Commons for a quick-acting royal commission on reform. The Commons home affairs select committee had called for a royal commission to report by 2015 on how to change the country's 40-year-old Misuse of Drugs Act.

While not going as far as MPs might have liked, the move suggests that the Tory government of Prime Minister David Cameron feels the ground shifting beneath it on drug policy, in part because its junior partners in the governing coalition, the Liberal Democrats, advocate for a much more radical approach.

"The government does not believe there is a case for fundamentally re-thinking the UK's approach to drugs -- a royal commission is simply not necessary," said May's official response to the select committee. "Nonetheless, we must continue to listen and learn from emerging trends, new evidence and international comparators. In particular we will build on the commitment in the drug strategy to 'review new evidence of what works in other countries and what we can learn from it' and conduct a study on international comparators to learn more from the approach in other countries," she conceded.

But May's response also signaled that the government has already made up its mind on at least one topic, and that had the drug reform groups Release and Transform Drug Policy Foundation (TDPF) calling foul.

"The coalition government has no intention of decriminalizing drugs," May said, but added that any discussion of alternatives should be based on evidence and analysis.

"Is Theresa May calling for a review whilst promising to not act on the information gathered?" Release asked in Thursday tweet.

TDPF echoed that sentiment in its own tweet: "Why does HASC response say 'no intention of decriminalizing drugs' in same para as announcement of evidence-based inquiry into same?"

The review will be led by Liberal Democrat Home Office minister Jeremy Brown. It will include a trip to Portugal to study that county's experience under decriminalization, as well as a look at the effects of the marijuana legalization votes in Colorado and Washington, medical marijuana in US states, and the international response to new synthetic drugs or "legal highs."

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8. ACLU to Examine SWAT, Police Militarization

The American Civil Liberties Union announced this week that it was seeking data from police departments across the country in an effort to determine the extent to which law enforcement agencies are using federally-subsidized military-style weapons and tactics. The group said it had filed 255 public records requests with law enforcement agencies in 23 states, as well as with the National Guard.

Paramilitarized SWAT teams are one example of what the ACLU will be looking at. Originally conceptualized as specialized units to be used in limited circumstances, such as hostage-rescues or armed standoffs, SWAT teams have been subject to mission creep and are now used routinely by some departments for, among other things, executing drug search warrants.

"Equipping state and local law enforcement with military weapons and vehicles, military tactical training, and actual military assistance to conduct traditional law enforcement erodes civil liberties and encourages increasingly aggressive policing, particularly in poor neighborhoods and communities of color," said Kara Dansky, senior counsel for the ACLU's Center for Justice. "We've seen examples of this in several localities, but we don't know the dimensions of the problem."

The ACLU will be seeking information on the number and purpose of SWAT deployments, the types of weapons used, injuries sustained by civilians, training materials, and funding sources for them.

The group will also be looking more generally at the use of advanced weapons and cutting edge technologies, including unmanned drones, GPS tracking devices, detainee restraint devices ("shock-cuffs"), and military weaponry, equipment, and vehicles obtained directly through the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security or funded by them.

They will also seek information from state National Guards regarding incidents of direct contact with civilians, as well as examining cooperative agreements between local law enforcement agencies and the Guard's counter-drug program.

"The American people deserve to know how much our local police are using military weapons and tactics for everyday policing," said Allie Bohm, ACLU advocacy and policy strategist. "The militarization of local police is a threat to Americans' right to live without fear of military-style intervention in their daily lives, and we need to make sure these resources and tactics are deployed only with rigorous oversight and strong legal protections."

The affiliates which filed public records requests are: Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Once the information has been collected and analyzed, if needed, ACLU plans to use the results to recommend changes in law and policy governing the use of military tactics and technology in local law enforcement.

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9. Undercover Narc Kills Armed Michigan Teen

An undercover Michigan drug task force officer shot and killed a 17-year-old who pulled a weapon and tried to rob him Tuesday afternoon in Southfield, police said. Austin Ryan Thomas becomes the 7th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to the Detroit Free Press, citing police sources, an as yet unidentified Madison Heights police officer working with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET) was working undercover during an investigation at an apartment complex in Southfield when the teenager pulled a weapon and tried to rob him.

"During the investigation a suspect pulled a weapon on one of the undercover NET officers and placed the weapon to the officer's head in an attempt to rob him," said Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe late Tuesday in a prepared statement.  "The officer pulled his gun and was able to fire shots that struck the suspect."

Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said Wednesday that undercover agents had twice previously bought cocaine from Thomas. He added that Thomas had entered the undercover agent's unmarked vehicle and was seated in it when shot. The vehicle did not carry surveillance cameras because it was an unmarked vehicle, he said.

 Thomas was transported to a local hospital and pronounced dead there. No officers or bystanders were hurt.

The NET task force is comprised of deputies and police officers from 13 Oakland County jurisdictions, along with DEA agents. The police shooter has been placed on paid administrative leave pending a review of the killing.

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10. This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Cops growing pot, cops stealing pain pills, cops doing rip-offs, and narcs up to shady doings. Just another week on the corrupt cops beat. Let's get to it:

In Wilmington, North Carolina, the State Bureau of Investigation has agreed to look into potential criminal activity by Wilmington Police during a botched undercover drug sting. A Hanover County investigation had found that officers acted "outside of acceptable standards," but did not break any laws with their use of alcohol during the undercover drug and prostitution sting. But the investigation revealed several irregularities, including the disappearance of a video camera with critical information about the sting. Its disappearance was not reported until nine months after the fact. The murky scandal has already led to the reorganization of the department's drug squad and the transfer of its commander.

In Mobile, Alabama, a former Montgomery County police corporal was charged last Thursday with federal marijuana offenses. Lyvanh Rasavong had previously been charged in state court, but Alabama prosecutors dismissed those charges in deference to the federal charges. Rasavong is accused of conspiring with another man to sell four pounds of marijuana late last year. The indictment also alleges he sold an ounce to an undercover cop in December. He is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana. Rasavong was caught with three pounds of pot during a raid on a home in December and has also been implicated in a 100-plant grow bust in October. He is free on bail pending trial and is looking at up to five years in federal prison.

In Shinnston, West Virginia, a Shinnston police officer was arrested Tuesday for stealing pain pills. Officer Charles Roscoe Henning III is accused of repeatedly making off with hydrocodone pills in incidents stretching back over the past two years, including incidents where he took pills he claimed were needed for investigations, where he confiscated pills after warrant searches, and where he confiscated pills during a traffic stop and then took more when the driver brought in his prescription pill bottle as proof of innocence. He faces seven counts of unlawfully acquiring controlled substances by fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge. He's looking at one to four years on each count. Henning has now been fired.

In Jackson, Mississippi, three former Jackson area police officers pleaded guilty last Thursday to stealing federal property -- $23,000 in cash that they thought belonged to drug dealers, but was actually federal sting money. Kent Daniels of Byram, a former Jackson police detective; Zack Robinson, former deputy with the Hinds County Sheriff Department; and Watson Lee Jackson Jr. of Ridgeland, a former Madison County deputy, all copped to plotting to rip off a supposed drug dealer at a Jackson hotel room in September 2011. The former officers pleaded guilty to one count of the two-count indictment. A plea agreement says the penalty could be up to 10 years in prison with three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

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Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School

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