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Pennsylvania SWAT Team Kills Meth Cooker in Drug Raid

[[Editor's Note: This year, Drug War Chronicle is trying 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 psmith@drcnet.org.]

A member of a Pennsylvania state police SWAT team shot and killed a Wayne Township man during an early morning drug raid Wednesday. Jeffrey Wolfe, 56, becomes the 24th person to be killed in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

Jeffrey Wolfe was shot and killed in a dawn drug raid in Pennsylvania after police said he pointed a gun at them in his bedroom.
According to police, members of the state police Special Emergency Response Team were executing a search warrant for a meth lab. They identified themselves as police, then entered the house and encountered Wolfe in a bedroom, where he pointed a loaded pump-action shotgun at them. One of the team members then opened fire on Wolfe, striking him twice in the chest. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A woman who police have not identified was also in the home. She was not injured, and police said she is part of the ongoing investigation.

An affidavit of probable cause attached to the warrant said a confidential informant had made three controlled meth buys from Wolfe in recent weeks. The SERT team was called on to execute the warrant because of the "paranoia associated with a long-time user of methamphetamine," and the presence of guns and an active meth lab. Police said using the SERT team was the "prudent" thing to do.

Troopers found an operational meth lab, chemicals, and another weapon at the scene, as well as video surveillance equipment. Police said Wolfe had a monitor in his bedroom to see who was approaching the house, but they didn't say it it was turned on.

The unnamed state trooper who shot Wolfe has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into the killing. That will be handled by the Schuykill County district attorney's office.

Summit Station, PA
United States

Senate Unanimously Confirms Leonhart as DEA Head

The US Senate December 22 unanimously confirmed Michele Leonhart as DEA adminstrator. Leonhart, a long-time DEA veteran, had served as acting administrator since late in the Bush administration and was nominated to head the agency by the Obama administration.

http://stopthedrugwar.com/files/mleonhart.jpg
Michele Leonhart
Drug reformers and concerned others had attempted last this year to block her nomination, citing her supervision of numerous raids on medical marijuana providers when she was Special Agent in Chief in Los Angeles, her refusal to allow a Massachusetts academic permission to grow marijuana for research purposes, and her unsavory relationship with former DEA "supersnitch" Andrew Chambers.

But those efforts got no traction in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where senators failed to ask a single tough question raised by reformers. The only flak Leonhart got in the committee was from Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Herb Kohl (D-WI), who complained about strict DEA drug diversion programs that made it difficult for seniors in nursing homes to receive pain medications in a prompt and timely fashion.

Kohl went so far as to announce a hold on her nomination to block a floor vote because of the issue, but although Leonhart refused during her confirmation hearing to tell him when the DEA would respond on the issue, Kohl lifted the hold before the vote, allowing her confirmation to go ahead.

Washington, DC
United States

Scratch-And-Sniff Marijuana Cards Used In Dutch Drug Campaign

Location: 
Netherlands
In a government effort to curb what is perhaps their nation's best-known vice, Dutch households will soon receive marijuana-scented scratch-and-sniff cards to help them detect illegal urban cannabis plantations in their vicinity. According to Rotterdam authorities, over 30,000 cards are being distributed this week to help citizens identify marijuana's pungent odor. Each of the 8-by-4 inch cards, which bear the slogan "Assist in combatting cannabis plantations," contain two boxes which can be scratched to release the cannabis scent, along with the telephone number of a local police precinct.
Publication/Source: 
The Huffington Post (CA)
URL: 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/09/scratchandsniff-marijuana_n_780964.html

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Crookedness in the Wayne County, Michigan, court system; endemic corruption in Camden; a tweaker cop in Iowa; and another pair of jail guards go bad. Let's get to it:

evidence room
In Detroit, a retired Wayne County judge, a retired Wayne County drug prosecutor, and two former Inkster police officers were ordered last week to stand trial on felony charges related to a perjury-tainted 2005 cocaine trial. Retired Judge Mary Waterstone, former Wayne County drug prosecutor Karen Plants, and former Inkster police officers Robert McArthur and Scott Rechtzigel are accused of conspiring to hide the role of a secret paid informant in a 47-kilo cocaine bust. Waterstone faces four felony counts of official misconduct, Plants is charged with conspiracy, McArthur is charged with conspiracy, perjury, and misconduct in office, and Rechtzigel is charged with perjury and conspiracy. Waterstone is accused of privately agreeing with prosecutors to hide the identity of the informant and allowing the informant and the two police officers to lie on the stand about the nature of their relationship.

In Camden, New Jersey, two Camden police officers were charged October 13 with falsifying evidence in drug cases in an ongoing scandal that has caused prosecutors to drop more than 200 criminal cases. Officers Antonio Figueroa, 34, and Robert Bayard, 32, were members of a special operations unit assigned to crack down on open-air drug markets, but five unit members became drug traffickers themselves. They are accused of stealing from some suspects, planting drugs on others, threatening to plant drugs to coerce cooperation, paying informants with drugs, keeping drugs for their own use, conducting illegal searches, giving false testimony and filing false reports between 2007 and last year. Three other officers have already been charged in the year-long investigation. Figueroa and Bayard had been on suspension for the past year. Figueroa faces eight charges and Bayard five. For both, the most serious is conspiracy to violate the civil rights of a citizen, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

In Des Moines, Iowa, a former Pleasant Hill police officer was sentenced last Friday to three years' probation for stealing methamphetamine from the department evidence room and crashing his police SUV while tweaking. Former officer Dan Edwards had pleaded guilty to DUI, illegal drug possession, and third-degree burglary. Edwards went down after the April crash, when a state trooper reported finding meth on him. Edwards' attorney said he suffered post traumatic stress disorder after tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq and this his wife and infant son had been killed in a car crash years earlier.

In Pensacola, Florida, a former Escambia County Road Prison corrections officer was found guilty last Thursday of providing Xanax to a prisoner in exchange for oral sex. Lawrence Vieitez was convicted on charges of delivery of a controlled substance, introducing contraband into a county detention facility and solicitation to commit prostitution. He went down after an inmate complained about his advances. The inmate was then wired, and a deputy was able to listen in as Vieitez offered to procure Xanax in exchange for oral sex. Vieitez then left to obtain the Xanax and was arrested when he gave it to the inmate. He's looking at up to 20 years in prison.

In Paterson, New Jersey, a former Passaic County corrections officer was sentenced last Friday to five years in state prison for smuggling heroin and homemade weapons into the Passaic County Jail. Former guard Marvin Thompson, 41, has no chance at early parole. During trial, prosecutors argued that Thompson smuggled the contraband into the jail with the intention of "discovering" it so he would look like a hero. He was then a provisional employee and hoped to win a permanent post. But an inmate working with Thompson snitched him out, and when he reported finding 10 packets of heroin, he was arrested. He was convicted of second degree official misconduct, possession of heroin, and filing false police reports.

Lethal Sting: How the War on Drugs Killed a College Student

Location: 
Tallahassee, FL
United States
The Tallahassee Police Department isn't getting any medals; they're the targets of a massive lawsuit. And Rachel Hoffman is dead, shot with the very gun the cops sent her to buy.
Publication/Source: 
The Huffington Post (CA)
URL: 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vince-beiser/lethal-sting-how-the-war-_b_767197.html

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Whew! Sex, drugs, strippers, and a federal judge, oh, my! Plus a murder-plotting meth-head trooper, another crooked border inspector, more Philly cops trying to rip off drug dealers, and an Oklahoma narc helping send guns down Mexico way.

We don't typically mention cases of drug use (or paying for sex) in this feature, but when it's a federal judge cavorting like a degenerate rock star, we think it's worth noting. In between coke-fueled trysts, this guy was hearing drug cases. That said, let's get to it:

In Atlanta, a federal judge was arrested last Friday on charges he bought and used drugs with an Atlanta stripper with whom he was having a sexual relationship. Senior US District Judge Jack Camp Jr., 67, is accused of buying and using cocaine, marijuana, hydrocodone, and roxydocone as he partied with the exotic dancer. When FBI agents arrested him, they found two illegal firearms and a bag containing blue pills and a white powder in his car. He has been released on a $50,000 unsecured bond. Camp went down because the stripper was also an FBI snitch who became cooperative with the feds after a drug conviction. The pair met on multiple occasions to get high and get down, with Camp typically (although not always) providing the money and the stripper providing the sex and drugs. She recorded Camp talking about the drug deals.

In San Diego, a border inspector was arrested last Thursday for allegedly taking bribes to allow illegal immigrants and nearly five tons of pot to make it through the San Ysidro and Otay Mesas border crossings. US Customs and Border Patrol Officer Lorne Leslie Jones is charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, bribery, and immigrant smuggling. He faces 10 years on the first count and five years each on the latter two.

In Philadelphia, two Philadelphia police officers were arrested Monday for robbing a drug dealer, except, unfortunately for them, the drug dealer was actually an undercover officer working a sting. Officers Sean Alivera, 31, and Christopher Luciano, 23, are charged with robbery, false imprisonment, and related charges. At least five Philadelphia officers have been charged or convicted of trying to rip off drug dealers in the past year.

In Auburn, California, a former California Highway Patrol officer pleaded no contest Monday to methamphetamine and attempted murder charges. Ruben Salgado, a 12-year CHP veteran, had been arrested in May after buying meth from an informant and was arrested again in June after trying to hire someone to kill the snitch. In a plea deal, he copped to attempted murder, driving under the influence of meth, and meth possession while carrying a gun. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

In Oklahoma City, a former state narcotics officer pleaded guilty September 29 to federal charges in a gun-running ring where some of the weapons ended up in Mexico. Former Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Agent Francisco Javier Reyes admitted taking money to buy "military-type" rifles in Oklahoma for a Mexican national and paying two friends to purchase rifles for him. He pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy and transferring firearms to an out-of-state resident. Each crime carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He's out on bail awaiting sentencing.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

One narcotics supervisor sexually assaults a female snitch, another makes off with the drug buy money. A pair of jail guards go down after getting caught having sex in a car in a parking lot. And that's just for starters. Let's get to it:

where's the cash?
In Athens, Ohio, the head of the Athens County Narcotics Task Force was arraigned last Friday on charges he sexually assaulted a female undercover informant. Deputy Jerry Hallowell, 43, faces three counts of sexual battery and one count of attempted sexual battery. The sexual batteries occurred August 6, September 3, and September 5, while the attempted battery occurred on September 9. Hallowell is looking at up to 16 years in prison if convicted on all counts. He is out on $50,000 bond and has been suspended with pay pending further action by the department.

In Syracuse, New York, a former Syracuse police officer pleaded guilty Monday to charges he ran a drug trafficking operation from his home and sexually abused two teenage boys. Fredrick Baunee, 49, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one felony count of fourth-degree conspiracy. He was arrested in May for running a drug ring from his home and using the teens as dealers and for sexual activities. Braun was suspended from the police force in 2007 and retired after being convicted of giving alcohol to and inappropriately touching a 14-year-old boy. He will be sentenced to seven years in prison, but remains free on $100,000 bail until formal sentencing in November.

In Durham, North Carolina, a former Durham County narcotics supervisor was indicted September 7 for allegedly stealing nearly $100,000 in sheriff's department funds for paying informants and making drug buys. Former Lt. Derek O'Mary faces 26 counts of embezzlement and one count each of obstructing justice and possession of cocaine. O'Mary, 43, was an 18-year veteran of the sheriff's office and had risen through the ranks to a lieutenant supervising the Sheriff’s Anti-Crime & Narcotics Unit. He was fired in April 2009 after his own narcs snitched him out.

In Gaffney, South Carolina, money from a recent drug bust has gone missing and the Cherokee County sheriff wants to know where it went. Sheriff Bill Blanton has called in the State Law Enforcement Division to try to find out what happened to the undisclosed amount of cash missing from the Cherokee County narcotics division

In Philadelphia, three former Philadelphia police officers already facing corruption charges were hit with new ones September 9. Robert Snyder, Jamez Venziale, and Mark Williams were charged in July with plotting with a suspected drug dealer to steal drugs in a staged traffic stop. Now the three face additional charges of possession with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school. Snyder and Williams were also charged with planning to rob a man they believed was a mobster collecting gambling proceeds. Authorities say that plot was never carried out. 

In Lebanon, Ohio, two former Warren Correctional Institution guards were indicted last Friday on drug charges after they were caught having sex in a vehicle with hundreds of pills and a note about inmates getting illegal drugs. Annika Skinner, 36, faces nine counts of deception to obtain drugs and a single misdemeanor drug possession count. Herbert Cook, 61, faces one count of drug trafficking. Skinner is looking at up to 19 years in prison and Cook is looking at one. Both had resigned as prison guards in July as authorities investigated after they were discovered going at it in May in a parking lot. Police recovered more than 100 pills, as well as plastic bags and the note indicating inmates were getting drugs. Both are free on bail.

In Sonora, California, a former prison guard at the Sierra Conservation Center was sentenced last week to a year in county jail for smuggling marijuana to an inmate. Matthew McCollum, 28, was convicted of bringing pot to an inmate in 2008 and 2009.

In Graceville, Georgia, a Graceville Correctional Facility guard was arrested September 8 on charges he planned to smuggle marijuana into the jail. Guard Brandon Sikora, 21, went down after agreeing to take a half-pound of pot into the jail and pocketing $2,000 for his efforts. The man who Sikora met with was a police informant. Now Sikora is charged with attempting to introduce contraband into a secure facility and possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana with intent to distribute. He has also been placed on suspension from the correctional facility pending the outcome of an investigation.

Atlanta Pays $4.9 Million for Kathryn Johnston Botched Drug Raid Killing

The city of Atlanta will pay $4.9 million to the estate of Kathryn Johnston, the 92-year-old African American woman killed by Atlanta narcotics officers in a drug raid nearly four years ago. Mayor Kasim Reed announced the settlement Monday morning. The city council approved it that same afternoon.

never forget
On November 21, 2006, Johnston was alone in her home when three Atlanta undercover narcs with a no-knock search warrant based on false information attempted a dynamic entry raid. The elderly woman fired one shot from an old pistol as the intruders tried to break down her door. They responded by firing at least 39 shots at the woman, who died at the scene -- in handcuffs.

No drugs were found. The officers involved attempted to cover their tracks by planting marijuana they had seized in a separate raid. They also tried to get an informer to say that he had provided them with the information in the warrant when he hadn't. The narcs' cover-up unraveled when the informant went to the FBI.

After an investigation by the FBI, five officers pleaded guilty for their roles in the shooting and cover-up. The three officers directly involved in the botched raid are serving sentences of five, six and ten years. Another six were reprimanded for not following departmental policy.

Reed said the settlement was an important step for the city and the police department, which came under intense, withering criticism in the raid's aftermath. "As a result of the incident, several police officers were indicted in federal and state court on charges and were later convicted and sentenced for their actions," said Reed, adding that the narcotics unit has been totally reorganized.

There is more the department needs to do, said Christina Beamud, executive director of the Atlanta Citizens Review Board. "This goes a long way to encourage the community to begin to heal and to address whatever issues they have with the police department," she told WABE FM Monday afternoon. But, she added, reforms in the department are still needed. One group of rogue officers may be gone, she said, "But where you have a group of officers continuing to do the same kind of improper procedures, then you have to look at your systems." She said the department should scrap quotas for drug arrests and end the policy of allowing officers to moonlight when not on duty.

Johnston's heirs will receive $2.9 million this year and $2 million in 2012 under the terms of the settlement.

Atlanta, GA
United States

Coalition Calls on Obama to Withdraw Michele Leonhart DEA Nomination

A coalition of five drug reform organizations called Wednesday for the Obama administration to withdraw the nomination of Michele Leonhart to be DEA administrator. The career DEA veteran is currently the agency's acting administrator. The groups are the Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the Marijuana Policy Project, NORML and its California affiliate, California NORML, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/leonhart-holder.jpg
Michele Leonhart with Eric Holder
The call comes in the wake of recent DEA raids against medical marijuana providers in California, Colorado, and Michigan, including one two weeks ago in Mendocino County, California, aimed at the first person to register with the county sheriff under a new cultivation ordinance. Last year, Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memo instructing the Justice Department, of which the DEA is a part, to not persecute medical marijuana patients and providers who are in compliance with state laws.

In the Mendocino case, in which the DEA raided a collective garden that had been inspected and approved by the local sheriff, a DEA agent reportedly responded to being informed that the sheriff okayed the group by saying, "I don't care what the sheriff says."

The reformers also attacked Leonhart for her January 2009 refusal to issue a license to the University of Massachusetts to grow marijuana for FDA-approved research, despite a DEA administrative judge's determination that such a license would be "in the public interest." With that action, Leonhart blocked privately funded medical marijuana research in the US.

"With Leonhart's nomination pending, one would expect her to be more -- not less -- respectful of the Department of Justice and the rights of individuals in medical marijuana states," said Steve Fox, director of government relations at the Marijuana Policy Project. "Such behavior is an ominous sign for the future of the DEA under her leadership. Moreover, she has continually demonstrated her desire to block privately funded medical marijuana research in this country. The Obama administration has reversed many Bush administration policies over the past 18 months. It is time to transform the culture at the DEA by either withdrawing Leonhart's nomination or directing her to change her attitude toward medical marijuana."

"Michele Leonhart continues to wage war on sick people and their caregivers, undermining the Obama Administration's otherwise compassionate medical marijuana policy," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Obama needs to withdraw her nomination and nominate someone who will follow the stated policies of his administration."

It's not just Leonhart's recent actions that are raising the alarm among reformers. As we reported when she was nominated, Leonhart had a close and friendly relationship with a serial perjuring DEA informant, "super snitch" Andrew Chambers, who was paid $2.2 million by the agency for his work between 1984 and 2000 despite repeated findings by federal courts that he was not believable. Leonhart defended Chambers and his credibility despite all the evidence to the contrary.

As Special Agent in Charge in Los Angeles during the height of the Clinton and Bush administration's persecution of medical marijuana users and providers, Leonhart was an enthusiastic participant and ranking DEA member involved. In January 1998, she stood proudly with then US Attorney Michael Yamaguchi as he announced at a press conference that the government would take action against medical marijuana clubs.

The administration has announced no timeline on moving her nomination forward.

Law Enforcement: Atlanta Police House Cleaning Marks End of Kathryn Johnston Case

Atlanta Police Chief George Turner officially announced June 10 that he had fired two veteran police officers for the roles in the 2006 killing of 92-year-old Atlanta resident Kathryn Johnston during a botched drug raid. The firings came after a department internal affairs report on the incident and a Citizens' Review Board report late last month that found Atlanta Police narcs were willing to break rules and lie in order to obtain search warrants.

http://stopthedrugwar.com/files/kathrynjohnston.jpg
Kathryn Johnston
That brings to 14 the number of Atlanta police officers disciplined in the wake of the killing, including five who pleaded guilty to federal charges after an FBI investigation, four of whom are still in prison. Another six officers have been disciplined, and one quit before facing departmental charges.

The two officers fired were Carey Bond and Holly Buchanan. Turner fired them for lying and falsifying incident reports and search warrant affidavits.

"We expect professionalism and integrity from all of our officers -- at all times," Turner said. "Policing is a difficult job, no doubt, but we must be expected to comply with the very laws that we are sworn to uphold."

Johnston was killed in November 2006 when Atlanta narcs raided her home using a "no-knock" warrant based on a tip from a single informant that he bought drugs there. As officers attempted to break down her door, the elderly woman fired one shot from a pistol. Officers on the scene returned fire, shooting 39 times, and leaving Johnston dead. When the officers found no drugs, they planted marijuana on her and attempted to get another informant to lie for them. That informant instead went to the FBI, breaking the case wide open.

In addition to the prosecution, firing, or disciplining of officers involved, Turner said the internal investigation revealed a need for systemic changes in the department, including the way confidential informants are handled and how warrants are served. Now, Turner said, the department requires three buys from a location before issuing a warrant.

Kathryn Johnston died a victim of over-zealous drug war policing. But her death may not have been in vain if the changes in the Atlanta Police Department mean there will be fewer "no-knock" raids and tighter controls on narcs and their snitches.

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