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Philippine Congressman Jailed for Drug Trafficking in Hong Kong

A Hong Kong court sentenced Philippinian Rep. Ronald Singson to a year and a half in jail for trafficking cocaine. Singson got a lighter sentence from Wanchai District Court Judge Joseph Yau after he pleaded guilty to the charge of drug trafficking while insisting that he did not intend to sell the drugs he brought with him to Hong Kong. In Manila, Rep. Erico Aumentado, chairperson of the House Ethics and Privileges Committee, said there will be "no immediate sanction" imposed on Singson despite his sentence.
GMA News (Philippines)

Experts: 'Nothing Amateur' About Narco Submarine

The only narco submarine ever captured is a 73-foot-long camouflaged vessel capable of carrying at least 7 tons of cocaine while cruising stealthily beneath the ocean's surface. In the seven months since the game-changing discovery of the submarine, built by drug traffickers in a covert shipyard deep in the Ecuadorean jungle, naval experts from multiple countries have studied the vessel. Their conclusion: It is the "real deal" — fully capable of making multiple journeys to North America.
The Houston Chronicle (TX)

The Futility of Drug Prohibition: 'Cocaine Clothes' Found in Italy Drug Bust

Another example of the futility of drug prohibition and drug traffickers' unrelenting innovation: Italian police said they had uncovered a drug trafficking ring that used clothes dipped in liquid cocaine to smuggle the drug into Italy from the Dominican Republic.
Agence France-Presse (France)

Two Florida Brothers Killed in Drug Operation

Editor's Note: This year, Drug War Chronicle is going to try to track every death directly attributable to drug law enforcement during the year. We can use your help. If you come across a news account of a killing related to drug law enforcement, please send us an email at]

Two South Florida brothers became the fourth and fifth persons to be killed in drug law enforcement operations this year when they were shot to death by police the night of February 1 at an apartment complex in Miramar. Police told WVSN-TV they opened fire when brothers Herson and Hedson Hilaire struck an officer with their vehicle while attempting to flee a drug raid.

Herson Hilaire
It is not known whether the police were uniformed or undercover. Police did not say the brothers were armed.

"The officer was struck by the vehicle," explained Miramar Police spokesperson Tania Rues. "He went over the hood of the vehicle. He was transported to the hospital. He suffered non-life-threatening injuries."

A later report from NBC Miami said that "the officer's injuries were minor and didn't require medical attention."

According to unnamed "sources" (read: the cops), four officers with the Safe Streets program observed "the suspected cocaine traffickers" inside a unit at the complex cutting several kilos of cocaine. The brothers grew spooked, ran to their car, and drove into one of the officers, prompting the other officers to open fire.

[Editor's Note: It is unclear why the brothers, who were allegedly involved in felonious activities, would do so in such a manner as to be visible from outside the apartment.]

The NBC Miami report said nothing about the brothers being inside a unit, only that officers "approached the Hilaire brothers, who were in a car outside the complex."

Police records showed that the driver, Herson Hilaire, 28, had been previously arrested on cocaine trafficking and distribution charges. Older brother Hedson apparently had no criminal record. He was in the front passenger seat.

The apartment unit did not belong to the Hilaires, but to an unnamed tenant who was not home at the time of the incident. That tenant was questioned by police and released.

The tenant told WSVN-TV News that the brothers were helping him move and that they were good people. "Two of the best people I know," he said. "Loyal, they're not violent people, they're not confrontational. They're real good people. Herson is an aeronautical engineer," he said. "He was down here on vacation. They were at my residence helping me move out, helping me clean up, so I can be out of there. There were no narcotics involved. This is the past. They were being rehabilitated."

Police have not released the amount of type of drugs found, but spokeswoman Rues said, "It was a narcotics investigation. Officers did view narcotics in their possession, and narcotics and paraphernalia was found at the home. I will say this: It was more than the amount that would appear to be for personal consumption."

The four officers involved in the shooting have not been named, but have been reassigned pending the outcome of a routine investigation into police-involved shooting.

Miramar, FL
United States

Drug Prohibition's Cocaine Traffickers Have Proven Both Vicious and Resilient

Since the beginning of the drug prohibition war, the drug trade has ballooned, spreading violence and corruption across large parts of the globe. Despite billions spent on combating them drug traffickers have for decades outwitted the authorities, keeping consumers in North America and Europe supplied at a price and purity that remains remarkably consistent despite law enforcement officials around the world frequently heralding the dismantling of trafficking networks.
The Irish Times (Ireland)

US Drug Czar Supports Venezuela Shooting Down "Drug Planes"

Over the weekend, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said his country should consider shooting down drug-carrying planes. On Tuesday, US drug czar Gil Kerlikowske seemed to signal his approval of the idea.

Hugo Chavez is open to shooting down suspected drug planes (image via Wikimedia)
Chavez told lawmakers Saturday he is considering letting the military shoot down drug-laden planes if they ignore orders to land. Drug smugglers often ignore military orders to land and sometimes mock those orders over the radio, Chavez said. He added that he doesn't necessarily like the idea of shooting down planes, but that parliament should debate it.

Although no coca is grown in Venezuela, the country has become a major hub for drug traffickers smuggling Colombian cocaine. The Venezuelan government has been criticized by the US over the use of its territory by drug traffickers, but Venezuela contends that despite its lack of cooperation with the DEA, it is doing all it can to stifle the trade.

US drug czar Kerlikowske was in Colombia on a three-day trip when he commented on Chavez's remarks. "Venezuela has expressed clearly its support for curbing drug trafficking by air," he said, adding that other countries in the region should adopt similar measures.

The US supported a similar program in Peru beginning in the Clinton administration and even provided CIA and military personnel to support it. But that program came to a crashing halt after a Peruvian Air Force fighter jet shot down a plane carrying American missionaries in 2001, killing Veronica Bowers and her infant daughter.


Massachusetts Sees First US Drug War Killing of 2011

[Editor's Note: This year, Drug War Chronicle is going to try to track every death directly attributable to drug law enforcement. We didn't have to wait long, did we? We can use your help. If you come across a news account of a killing related to drug law enforcement, please send us an email at]

A 68-year-old Framingham, Massachusetts, man has become the first person killed by police enforcing the drug laws in the US this year. Eurie Stamps Sr. was fatally shot by a Framingham Police SWAT officer shortly after midnight Wednesday as police served a drug search warrant at his residence.

Authorities have not released details of the shooting, which is now under investigation by the Middlesex District Attorney's Office and the Massachusetts State Police. A spokesman for DA Gerry Leone said authorities are investigating whether Stamps was armed. But a family friend told the MetroWest newspaper that authorities said the shooting was accidental.

The friend, Dwayne Barrett of Framingham, described Stamps as "a very good man, the type of man who'd give you the shirt off his back. This shouldn't have happened."

Police said they arrested two men at the residence during the drug raid, one of whom is Stamps' stepson. Those men are charged with possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute, conspiracy to violate the state's controlled substances law, and a school zone violation.

(Click here for WBZ news report.)

Framingham, MA
United States

Thursday Press Teleconference: Clinton Commutation Beneficiaries Call on President Obama to Expedite Clemency for Crack Cocaine Prisoners (Press Advisory)

For Immediate Release: December 15, 2010                      

Contact: Nkechi Taifa (202-641-6605) or Tony Newman (646-335-5384)

THURSDAY PRESS TELECONFERENCE: Clinton Commutation Beneficiaries Call on President Obama to Expedite Clemency for Crack Cocaine Prisoners

Recent federal legislation reducing the 100-to-1 cocaine sentencing disparity will not benefitthose in prison

Advocates will fast and pray for justice on December 22, 10-year anniversary of Clinton crack cocaine commutations

WASHINGTON, DC—Advocates for presidential clemency will join together for a press teleconference on Thursday, December 16 to urge President Obama to expedite clemency for people serving excessive terms under the now-reformed federal crack cocaine sentencing laws. Participants will be commemorating the 10-year anniversary of President Clinton’s commutation of Kemba Smith and Dorothy Gaines, two women sent to federal prison for 24 and 19 years, respectively, for playing peripheral roles in their boyfriends’ drug operations.  Joining the women on the press teleconference will be members of the Crack the Disparity Coalition, a broad coalition of civil rights, faith-based, drug policy, criminal justice reform advocacy groups, and formerly incarcerated people.

Recent changes under the Fair Sentencing Act, signed in August, reduce the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine from 100-to-1 to 18-to-1 but do not provide relief to thousands of individuals who are already serving time for crack cocaine offenses. Prior to the law’s passage, an individual in possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine (roughly the amount of sugar in a couple of sugar packets) would be sentenced to a federal 5-year mandatory minimum sentence. It took 500 grams of powder cocaine to receive the same 5-year sentence.

The campaign has set up a site ( and a Facebook page, “Holiday Fast and Prayer for Justice,”(!/event.php?eid=173873379301719) where others can commit to fasting and prayer and sign a petition to President Obama on behalf of those behind bars under the old crack cocaine sentencing structure.

                        WHAT:           Press Teleconference to urge President Obama to expedite clemency

WHEN:           Thursday, December 16, 1 p.m. ET

CALL IN #:    1-800-311-9402   Passcode: Fairness


Kemba Smith Pradia was sentenced as a first time non-violent drug offender to 24.5 years in federal prison even though the prosecutor handling her case said she never handled, used or sold any of the drugs involved. Currently, she is a national public speaker, advocate and founder of the Kemba Smith Foundation.

Dorothy Gaines is a single mother of three who was convicted of minor involvement in her boyfriends’ small-scale crack distribution and served 6 years of a 19 ½ year sentence before she was granted commutation. She currently works with at-risk youth in Mobile, AL.

Hilary O. Shelton is the Director of the NAACP’s Washington Bureau and Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy. He played an integral role in the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and other policy measures affecting equality in our society. 

Margaret Love was the former U.S. Pardon attorney under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. She now represents people applying for executive clemency and advocates for sentencing and corrections reform.

Moderated by: Nkechi Taifa, the Senior Policy Analyst for the Open Society Foundations and Open Society Policy Center, focusing on issues of criminal justice and racial equality.  She also convenes the Crack the Disparity Working Group of the Justice Roundtable, and has worked for over 17 years to eliminate the crack/powder disparity.

Cocaine Smuggling Increase in New Zealand

New Zealand
Exemplifying the failure of prohibition, New Zealand has seen a dramatic increase in cocaine smuggling in recent months, Customs says, and it looks like an attempt by figures in South America to establish a syndicate there.
TV3 (New Zealand)

Drug Trafficking Organizations Buy Jets for Trans-Atlantic Coke Flights

Federal investigators are piecing together details of an audacious new trend in drug smuggling: South American traffickers are buying old jets, stuffing them full of cocaine and flying them across the Atlantic to feed Europe's growing coke habit. "The sky's the limit," one Sierra Leone trafficker boasted to a Drug Enforcement Administration informant. In some ways it is a throwback to the 1970s and '80s, when pilots flew drugs freely between Colombia and staging areas near the U.S. border.

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