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Mexico Drug War Update

by Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year smuggling drugs into the United States, profiting enormously from the prohibitionist drug policies of the US government. Since Mexican president Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and called the armed forces into the fight against the so-called cartels, prohibition-related violence has killed more than 45,000 people, including more than 15,000 last year and approximately 12,000 this year. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest or killing of dozens of high-profile drug traffickers have failed to stem the flow of drugs -- or the violence -- whatsoever. The Merida initiative, which provides $1.4 billion over three years for the US to assist the Mexican government with training, equipment and intelligence, has so far failed to make a difference. Here are a few of the latest developments in Mexico's drug war:

Thursday, December 22

In Veracruz, suspected Zetas attacked three passenger buses with gunfire and a grenade in an apparent robbery spree, killing eleven people. Three of the dead were later confirmed to be US citizens who were visiting relatives in Mexico for the holidays. The army later announced that it killed the five gunmen after they were shot at attempting to arrest them.

Friday, December 23

In Culiacan, army commandos captured the head of security for the Sinaloa Cartel. Felipe Cabrera Sarabia, "The Engineer," is thought to have run cartel operations in Durango and in part of Chihuahua. No shots were fired during the arrest operation. Over the course of 2011, Cabrera was involved in a bloody dispute with another Sinaloa Cartel faction in the state of Durango.

In the port of Manzanillo, authorities seized 21 metric tons of precursor chemicals used to produce crystal meth on a ship headed towards Guatemala.

In Tampico Alto, Veracruz, ten bodies were discovered. The bodies all bore signs of having been tortured and several were decapitated.

In Los Mochis, Sinaloa, three decapitated bodies were discovered at a location where the body of a municipal police officer was found on December 18th.

Saturday, December 24

In Michoacan, the body of a teenage American citizen was found in the trunk of a burned car along with two others. The teenager, Alex Uriel Marron, 18, was reportedly from the Chicago area and visiting family in the village of Quiringuicharo.

In Saltillo, Coahuila, three gunmen were killed in a fire fight with police. A fourth person was wounded. Several assault rifles were confiscated from a car in which the gunmen were traveling.

Sunday, December 25

In Tamaulipas, authorities discoved 13 bodies in an abandoned truck just across the state border from Veracruz. A banner left with the bodies indicated that the killings were due to an ongoing cartel battle for control of the Veracruz region.

Tuesday, December 27

In Mexico City, the leader of a small cartel was arrested at the airport. Luis Rodriguez Olivera, "Whitey," is thought to have been head of the "Blondies" Organization which has been allied to several larger cartels. US authorities were offering a $5 million reward for his capture, and accuse him and a brother of smuggling cocaine and meth to the US and to Europe.

In Nuevo Leon, police discovered seven bodies buried in a shallow pit or in a well. The bodies, which were found in Linares and Montemorelos, were discovered using information provided by a group of captured kidnappers alleged to be Zetas.

In Sinaloa, a former high-ranking federal police official was sentenced to 10 years for helping the Sinaloa Cartel. Javier Herrera Valles was arrested in 2008, although the arrest was controversial because he had recently accused some of his commanding officers of corruption or incompetence.

Wednesday, December 28

In Michoacan, six gunmen were killed in two separate clashes with the army. In the first, which took place Wednesday night, three men were killed after encountering an army patrol in the Buenavista Tomatlan area. Later, early Thursday morning, another three were killed in a nearby village. All the dead men are thought to be members of the Knights Templar Organization, which is active in the area. In 2011, troops in 21st military district in Michoacan shot dead a total of 91 gunmen from several organizations.

In Ciudad Juarez, a leading cartel enforcer was arrested by police. Arturo Bautista, 31, "El Mil Amores," is thought to be a high-ranking member of La Linea, the enforcement arm of the Juarez Cartel. It is unclear, however, if that is his real name. He has been identified as a resident of El Paso, Texas. Bautista was arrested along with three other men after the murder of a woman whom police say was thought to have been passing intelligence to a rival criminal group.

Friday, December 30

In Veracruz, the Zetas hung up a banner stating they were not responsible for the December 22 bus attacks which killed at least seven people, including three US citizens. The banners claim that corrupt police officers were responsible for the attacks.

In Coahuila, seven suspected Zetas were captured by the army on the Saltillo-Torreon highway. One of the men was identified as a high-ranking member, but the army has so far not identified him.

Saturday, December 31

In Ciudad Juarez, at least four people were murdered in several incidents. According to researcher Molly Molloy, this brings the city’s 2011 homicide numbers to 1,980 for the year. This is nearly 40% lower than the 3,622 murders that took place in 2010, but still considerably higher than the 2008 total of 1,623. In total, since 2007, 10,299 homicides have taken place in Ciudad Juarez. February was the bloodiest month in 2011, with 231 murders having taken place.

Sunday, January 1

In Mexico City, the National Human Rights Commission said that they concluded that five men held in connection with a July 2010 car bombing in Ciudad Juarez had been tortured to obtain confessions. They recommended that six federal police officers and a doctor be questioned in relation with the incident. The men were also accused of the killings of two federal agents. Although cleared in those incidents, the men remain incarcerated on narcotics and weapons charges.

Tuesday, January 3

In Sonora, at least five people were murdered. In one incident, the bodies of three young men were found on the side of a highway. In another part of the state, two men were found dead in a bullet-riddled truck. Several weapons, including an AK-47 were found in the truck.

Drug-related violence was confirmed in at least six other states, with nine people confirmed dead.

[Editor's Note: Our 2011 estimated death toll is 12,150, pending the release of official figures.Our new 2012 death toll is also an estimate.]

Total Body Count for 2007 (approx.): 4,300

Total Body Count for 2008 (approx.): 5,400

Total Body Count for 2009 (approx.): 9,600

Total Body Count for 2010 (official): 15,273

Total Body Count for 2011 (approx.): 12,150

Total Body Count for 2012: (approx.) 15

TOTAL: > 46,000

Mexico

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

The Chronicle may have taken a week off, but drug prohibition-related police corruption didn't. And so we have two weeks worth of corrupt cops. Let's get to it:

In Memphis, Tennessee, a Memphis police officer was arrested December 16 on charges he was involved in a 200-pound marijuana deal. Michael Sinnock was carrying 20 opioid pain pills for which he had no prescription when he was arrested on duty and in uniform, so he is being charged for that, too. His formal charges are possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute. 

In Plainview, Texas, a veteran Plainview narcotics officer was indicted December 20 on a trio of misconduct charges. Detective Ramiro Sanchez is charged with felony theft and two misdemeanors, for forgery and official misconduct. It's unclear just exactly what Sanchez is accused of because neither prosecutors nor the town police chief are talking.

In Bakersfield, California, a Bakersfield police officer was charged December 23 on multiple drug counts after being caught earlier in the month with methamphetamine in his pocket. Officer Ofelio Lopez went down after an informant told police he had delivered meth to Lopez' home on numerous occasions. Police set up a sting in which a purse containing meth was planted in a remote location and Lopez was sent to retrieve it. He failed to turn in the purse and the drugs at the end of his shift. Police then searched Lopez, his car, and his home and found meth in his pocket, the purse and meth in the trunk of his car, and brass knuckles at his home. He is charged with transporting a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance while armed with a loaded firearm, possession of a controlled substance, being under the influence of methamphetamine while in possession of a loaded firearm and possession of a dangerous weapon (brass knuckles). He's now out on bail and on paid administrative leave.

In Clinton, Tennessee, a probationary jail guard at the Anderson County Jail was arrested December 28 on charges she was smuggling drugs to inmates. Kaitlin Paige Hardin, 21, was fired and charged with manufacture/ delivery/sale/ possession of a controlled substance and introduction of drugs into a penal institution. She went down in a sting after authorities received information she was bringing drugs in. They offered her prescription opiods that were to be brought to an inmate, and she took them. At last report, she was still behind bars.

In Kinston, North Carolina, a former Lenoir County narcotics officer was arrested last Friday on drug trafficking charges. Clay Kell is charged with trafficking in heroin/opium, which under North Carolina law includes opioid pain medications as well. Kell joined the sheriff's office in 1999 and was promoted to narcotics detective in 2003. He resigned last year.

In Stockton, Kansas, the Rooks County sheriff was arrested Saturday for alleged involvement in a methamphetamine distribution ring. Sheriff Randy Axelson, 43, went down after an investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Rooks County sheriff's deputies, and two local police departments. Axelson is charged with meth distribution. At last report, he was being held in the neighboring Ellis County Jail awaiting a bond hearing.

In Bellingham, Washington, a former state prison employee pleaded not guilty last Friday to charges he provided security and intelligence to a heroin dealer with ties to the Aryan Nation. Christian Knight, who worked first as a prison guard and then as a classification counselor, is accused of passing "sensitive law enforcement information" to a convicted felon now accused of running a meth and heroin ring associated with an Aryan Nations-affiliated gang called The Hated. Knight is one of 12 people charged in the case. He faces drug trafficking and conspiracy charges.

In Memphis, Tennessee, a former Shelby County narcotics deputy was sentenced December 21 to two years and four months in federal prison after pleading guilty to lying to federal investigators about a confidential informant. Eric Curtis, 37, lied in sworn court testimony and to FBI investigators about a person known as "Informant A," who he claimed provided information that resulted in numerous arrests and drug seizures. The FBI later learned the information came from other sources.

In Attleboro, Massachusetts, drugs are missing from the police department evidence room. An audit of the evidence room found that cocaine and other illegal drugs are gone. The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office and the State’s Attorney General Office have both been notified, and are assisting in the investigation. The routine audit came after a new police chief was named.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

In Fernandina Beach, Florida, the Nassau County Sheriff's Office is being investigated by the FBI in a wide ranging corruption and civil rights abuses probe. Allegations include Sheriff Tommy Seagraves blocking the drug prosecution of the wife of a close friend, detectives using steroids, job-related kickbacks, marijuana grow lamps and beer keg taps that disappeared after being seized in drug raids, physical assaults on drug suspects, improper use of department property, and ongoing misconduct in the narcotics unit. Part one of the Florida Times Union's two-part investigative report on the sordid story is available at the link above. Part two is forthcoming.

In Rogersville, Tennessee, a former Hawkins County sheriff's narcotics detective was indicted December 15 on charges he was stealing drugs from the evidence room. Brad Depew was hit with a 68-count indictment after he was caught on videotape breaking into the locked evidence room with a screwdriver and exiting with evidence envelopes containing drugs. A subsequent search of his home turned up unspecified quantities of  the Schedule II narcotics oxycodone and methadone, the Schedule III narcotic dihydrocodeinone, and Schedule IV tranquilizers alprazolam, diazepam and clonazepam, which matched the kinds of pills missing from the evidence room. The search also turned up 26 grams of cocaine, a half gram of meth, and drug paraphernalia, including scales, baggies, a pipe, screens, spoons and straws. None of that come from the evidence room, though. He faces 47 counts of evidence tampering, as well as possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of meth with intent to deliver, official misconduct, four counts of burglary, four counts of possession of burglary tools, two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, two counts of theft under $500 for the actual evidence envelopes, and six counts of misdemeanor drug possession for the drugs found at his residence. Depew worked as a detective on the HCSO Narcotics Unit and 3rd Judicial District Drug Task Force for more than a decade. He is free on $100,000 bond pending trial.

In Atlanta, two Talbot County sheriff's deputies pleaded guilty December 14 to ripping off drugs and money from motorists they targeted. Deputies Alvin Malone and Jeff Sivell admitting using a confidential informant to identify vehicles carrying drugs and drug money, then seizing the dope and cash and splitting it with the snitch. Each pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Hobbs Act, or attempted extortion by a public official. They will be sentenced in February and are looking at up to 20 years in federal prison.

In St. Louis, a former St. Louis sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty December 14 to charges he bought heroin while on duty and chauffeured a drug dealer around the city. Jason Stewart, 31, copped to a single count of being a drug addict in possession of a firearm. He went down after he went to an area of the city known for drug dealing that happened to be under federal and local police surveillance. He had just conducted a transaction when he was pulled over, and police found a fifth of a gram of heroin, drug paraphernalia, and a bottle of urine wrapped in a hand warmer, which he said he carried with him to thwart drug tests. He faces up to 10 years in prison, but will reportedly be sentenced to 18 to 30 months.

In Beaumont, Texas, a Beaumont police officer resigned Monday after being accused of leaking confidential information in a drug investigation. Officer Eugene Wilson had been suspended with pay. No charges are being filed against him.

In Haskell, Texas, a former Haskell police officer was sentenced Monday to seven years probation for planting drugs in a man's vehicle. William Glass had resigned from the department last year just before he was about to take a lie detector test over an allegation that he planted methamphetamine in a man's vehicle during a traffic stop. He was indicted on charges of fabricating physical evidence, possession of a controlled substance, and official oppression, but he copped a plea to just the first count. The meth had come from an earlier drug bust.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A Virginia sheriff gets raided, a sleazy Michigan cop gets busted, a New Jersey cop gets convicted, and several Oklahoma lawmen are headed to prison. Let's get to it:

In Halifax, Virginia, Virginia State Police served a search warrant at the Halifax County Sheriff's Office December 5 in an ongoing embezzlement investigation of Sheriff Stanley Noblin. State Police seized documents, a bank statement, and several computers, including a binder titled "fiscal year asset forfeiture money" and a notebook titled "drug buy money." The search is part of an investigation requested by state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II into the disposition of $48,500 in asset forfeiture funds and $34,500 in drug buy funds for which no official use has been discerned.

In Benton Harbor, Michigan, a Benton Harbor police officer was arrested December 8 on charges he forced a 24-year-old woman to perform fellatio on him to avoid being arrested for marijuana possession. Officer Jared Graves is charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree, one count of misconduct in office, and one count of delivery of marijuana. Graves allegedly was called to an apartment complex on a drug use complaint and confiscated marijuana from the woman. Two days later, he told her to come to the police station to discuss the incident. He then forced her into oral sex and returned her marijuana. Weeks later, Graves met the woman at the apartment complex and compelled her to perform oral sex and engage in sexual intercourse, again threatening her with the marijuana offense.

In Camden, New Jersey, one Camden police officer was convicted and another acquitted last Friday on charges they falsified reports, planted evidence, and stole money. Officer Antonio Figueroa, 35, was convicted on three of five counts of civil rights violations and conspiracy, while Office Robert Bayard, 33, was acquitted of all charges. Both were members of the Camden Police Special Operations Unit, an elite crime-fighting team formed to crack down on drug dealing and violent crime in the city. Three other officers in the unit have already pleaded guilty to planting drugs on suspects and stealing cash discovered during searches. They had also been accused of lying to state grand juries and falsifying reports to bring unjustified criminal charges. Figueroa will be sentenced March 16.

In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, a former Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics agent was sentenced December 5 to 35 months in federal prison after admitting his role in an operation to smuggle guns from Oklahoma to Texas, some of which ended up going to drug cartels in Mexico. Francisco Javier Reyes, 30, pleaded guilty last year to one count each of conspiracy and transferring firearms to an out-of-state resident as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. He could have gotten up to 10 years.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, three former Tulsa police officers and a former ATF agent were sentenced December 6 after being convicted on drug corruption charges. Former officer Jeff Henderson got 3 ½ years in prison, former officer JJ Gray got four months, retired officer Harold Wells got 10 years, and former ATF agent Brandon McFadden, who copped a plea and testified against the others, got 21 months. All were convicted in a long-running scandal involving false arrests, false reports, and other civil rights violations. Three other officers were acquitted, but remain off the job while Tulsa Police finish an internal investigation.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Busy, busy, busy! Quite a crew of miscreants this week, including a former national Sheriff of the Year. Let's get to it:

In Littleton, Colorado, a former Arapahoe County sheriff was arrested late last month for trading methamphetamine for sexual favors from young men and hit with additional charges last Friday. Retired Arapahoe County Sheriff Patrick Sullivan, 68, a one-time national "Sheriff of the Year," was first charged with possession and distribution of meth and now faces additional counts of soliciting a prostitute and attempting to influence a public official. Two informants told investigators they had sex with Sullivan in exchange for drugs, and one of them agreed to set up a meeting with Sullivan for another tryst. The meeting was videotaped, and Sullivan was arrested after handing drugs over to the snitch. The influencing a public servant charge came from a September incident when a caller reported that "an old guy," later identified as Sullivan, was trying to get his roommates to use drugs and wouldn't leave the house. When police arrived, Sullivan falsely told them he was part of a state task force trying to help drug users. At last report, Sullivan was being held on $500,000 bail. Ironically, he is being detained at a jail that bears his name. Police are investigating whether Sullivan was engaged in illegal activity while still sheriff and whether underage boys were involved.

In Marksville, Louisiana, an Avoyelles Parish Detention Center officer was arrested Saturday for bringing drugs into the jail. Guard Jaworski Toussaint, 34, was caught bringing synthetic marijuana and other contraband into the jail. He is charged with introduction of contraband into a penal institution and malfeasance in office.

In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a Fort Lauderdale police officer was arrested Saturday for allegedly procuring prescription pain pills for a woman who turned out to be a confidential informant. Officer Kevin Pisano, 50, was on duty and uniform at the time of the drug deal. He is charged with armed delivery of oxycodone (Percocet) and armed delivery of hydrocodone (Vicodin). He is also facing one count of possession of hydrocodone (Vicodin), which was found during a search of his patrol vehicle.

In Rochester, New York, an Orleans County sheriff's correction officer was arrested Sunday for smuggling contraband into the county jail. Guard Shawn Nicholson, 35, was arrested after a weeks-long investigation and went down after a sting operation. He is charged with two counts each of promoting prison contraband, criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal sale of a controlled substance, conspiracy, and one count official misconduct. Bail was set at $10,000; there is no word on whether he has paid it.

In Bakersfield, California, a Bakersfield police officer was arrested Monday for stealing methamphetamine he should have seized as evidence. Police received a tip that Officer Ofelio Lopez was using meth, set up a ruse to snare him, and he took the bait. They got a court order to remove some meth from the evidence room, put the drugs in a purse, then had someone call the department claiming to have found the handbag. They sent Lopez to investigate, and he put the purse in his patrol car, but didn't turn it in at the station. When detectives confronted Lopez the next day, the purse was still in the trunk, but some of the meth was missing. Police found it in Lopez' uniform pocket, and they said he was tweaking at the time of his arrest. He is charged with transportation of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance while armed with a firearm, being under the influence of a controlled substance while armed, and, after brass knuckles turned up during a search of his home, possession of a dangerous weapon. There is no word on bail arrangements.

In Denville, New Jersey, a former Denville police officer pleaded guilty November 30 to stealing drugs from the departmental evidence room. Eugene Blood, 38, admitted pilfering small amounts of heroin and oxycodone during 2010 and 2011. His attorney said he became addicted to pain pills. He was originally charged with seven counts, including burglary and theft of a controlled substance, but ended up copping a plea to a single count of official misconduct. Under the plea agreement, he will get a three-year prison sentence.

In Poughkeepsie, New York, a former Poughkeepsie police officer was sentenced December 1 to 3 ½ to 10 ½ years in prison for taking bribes from a cocaine dealer. David Palazzolo admitted revealing the name of a female undercover officer and identifying a vehicle used for undercover work by the Dutchess County Drug Task Force in exchange for bribes. He earlier pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, receiving a bribe, and computer trespass.

Honduras Calls Out the Army to Fight Drug Cartels

The Honduran congress voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to send out the armed forces to combat Mexican drug trafficking organizations. The vote gives the military broad domestic policing powers, including additional powers in the fight against the cartels.

Honduran army troops training with US Marines (wikimedia.org)
"We cannot have an armed forces only for foreign threats when there are so many deaths in the country because of violence," Juan Orlando Hernandez, president of the Congress, said before the vote in remarks reported by CNN. "We are making this decision to support the Honduran people."

According to the United Nations, Honduras has the world's highest murder rate, with more than 82 murders per 100,000 people last year. By comparison, Mexico, where more than 45,000 people have been killed since President Felipe Calderon deployed the military against the cartels there five years ago, has a murder rate of 18 per 100,000 and the US 4.8.

About 20 people a day are murdered in Honduras, and most accounts blame most of the killings on drug cartels smuggling cocaine from South America. Under pressure in their home country, the Mexican cartels have expanded operations throughout Central America. El Salvador and Guatemala are also finding themselves running up against brazen cartel gunman.

The crime problem is aggravated by the existence of violent street gangs, and the national police have proven both ineffectual and corrupt. The move to involve the military in policing comes just after President Porfirio Lobo was forced to begin a purge of the national police, of whom 167 have just been arrested for charges ranging from corruption to murder.

While the Honduran military had already been involved in operations against the cartels, it had been limited to assisting police and could only go on joint operations with police. Soldiers did not have the power of arrest, nor could they collect evidence or send cases to prosecutors.

That has now changed. The military has full domestic policing powers, including making arrests, doing searches, and executing warrants in law enforcement matters. But armed forces spokesman Col. Alcides Flores said the military is not displacing the police, nor is it imitating Mexico, whose armed forces have been sullied by accusations of corruption and human rights violations during its campaign against the cartels.

"The new decree authorizes the armed forces to make captures without a police presence, but we are just augmenting the capacity of the police," he said. "At no time are we replacing the police. And we are not following the Mexican model. We are making a Honduran model," he said.

Tegucigalpa
Honduras

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

It's prison guards gone wild this week, plus a really sleazy deputy gets a sweet deal and a 'roided cop takes a plea deal. Let's get to it:

In Athens, Ohio, a former Athens County sheriff's deputy pleaded guilty Monday to four lesser charges after originally being arrested on charges he coerced sex from female drug defendants. None of the charges Jerry Hallowell, 44, pleaded guilty to are sex offenses. Instead he copped to one charge of soliciting or receiving improper compensation (which was apparently sexual favors), a first-degree misdemeanor; plus three fifth-degree felony charges of misusing an official statewide electronic database available to police officers. Hallowell allegedly used the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway to run background checks on women he was interested in. The felonies carry a maximum sentence of one year each, but Hallowell will probably not do any time because he was convicted of the lowest level nonviolent felonies.

In Norfolk, Virginia, a former Norfolk police officer pleaded guilty November 23 to selling steroids, syringes, and marijuana to an undercover officer. Kristin Wayne Harris, 37, copped to one count of drug possession and one count of sale of an anabolic steroid. He was originally charged with 11 drug-related felonies and two misdemeanors, but prosecutors dropped all the charges except for two. The investigation into Harris' steroid sales also led to the resignation of three other Norfolk police officers, but he was the only one charged with a crime. He's looking at anywhere from six months to 20 years in prison when sentenced.

In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a Florida state prison guard was arrested November 22 for agreeing to smuggle drugs into the prison. Ormond Rossi, 37, a guard at the Broward Correctional Institution, is charged with bribery and opium trafficking. He went down in a sting after agreeing to smuggle pain pills in return for cash, cigarettes, two water bottles full of vodka, and an unlisted number of steaks. At last report, he was still behind bars.

In Detroit, a prison guard and a former prison guard were arrested November 23 on charges they smuggled marijuana and tobacco into the Ryan Correctional Facility. Guard Joseph Jordan, 27, and former guard Corey Young, 37, were both charged with misconduct in office, furnishing contraband to a prisoner, and conspiracy to furnish marijuana to a prisoner. Young was also charged with bringing contraband into a prison, bringing a weapon into a prison, and four counts of furnishing contraband to a prisoner. They allegedly accepted payments from inmates' friends and relatives in exchange for smuggling tobacco and pot, and went down in an investigation after a prisoner was found with weed and tobacco in his cell. Each felony count is worth five years.

In Atlanta, a former Fulton County Jail guard pleaded guilty Tuesday to accepting bribes to help distribute cocaine within the jail. Akil Scott, 31, copped to attempted possession with intent to distribute cocaine and accepting a $650 bribe. Prosecutors said he twice accepted $650 from undercover agents to deliver what he thought was seven grams of cocaine. Sentencing is set for February 16. Scott is looking at up to 20 years in federal prison on each count.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Cops stealing dope from the evidence room, cops helping drug gangs, cops doing drug rip-offs to help drug gangs. Just another week of drug war law enforcement corruption. Let's get to it:

In Denville, New Jersey, a Denville police officer was arrested on October 27 on charges he broke into the department evidence room and stole drugs. The arrest was not made public until late last week. Officer Eugene Blood, 38, is charged with official misconduct in the third degree, burglary and attempted burglary, theft of controlled dangerous substances, attempted theft of controlled dangerous substances and criminal mischief. Blood went down after a supervisor contacted county prosecutors with his suspicions that someone was pilfering from the evidence room. Blood is an eight-year veteran of the force.

In Opa-locka, Florida, an Opa-locka police captain was arrested November 17 on charges he used his official position to help a drug-dealing ring. Capt. Arthur Baloma, a 12-year veteran of the department, was among eight people charged in a four-count federal indictment. He and the others face various counts of drug distribution and conspiracy to distribute narcotics. The ring allegedly distributed Ecstasy and oxycodone. No word yet on bail arrangements or further court appearances.

In Chicago, two Chicago police officers were indicted November 18 on charges they provided stolen cash, guns, and drugs to leaders of the Latin Kings street gang. Officers Alex Guerrero and Antonio Martinez were among 21 defendants named in a federal indictment aimed at the gang. They are accused of ripping off drug dealers in fake drug busts in Rockford, Chicago, and Hammond and turning over the proceeds to the Latin Kings. The defendants in the indictment are accused of 75 illegal acts, including 19 murders, assaults, gun sales, and drug sales in Chicago, Northwest Indiana, Texas, and Mexico. Guerrero and Martinez are not named in the homicide counts, but are charged with conspiracy.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A meth-dealing cop in Hawaii, a dope-load protecting cop in Houston, a pair of cops willing to sell information to drug dealers in Jacksonville and Cincinnati, and a contraband-toting jail guard in Alabama make this week's hall of shame. Let's get to it:

In Honolulu, a Honolulu police major was arrested Monday on drug charges after the FBI raided his home. Major Carlton Nishimura, 55, was already awaiting trial on federal charges of extortion, lying to investigators and witness tampering. But after the FBI found more than a half pound of methamphetamine during the raid, he now faces another federal charge: possession with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of meth.

In Houston, Texas, a Houston police officer was convicted Tuesday of participating in a drug trafficking and corruption scheme. Officer Leslie Aikens, 46, used his police car to escort drug loads through the Houston area in mid-March and also accepted a $2,000 bribe to protect another car carrying a load of seven kilograms of cocaine. He was convicted on conspiracy to traffic drugs and extortion and is looking at at least 10 years in prison and up to life. Sentencing is set for February 2.

In Jacksonville, Florida, a former Jacksonville County Sheriff's Office civilian employee pleaded guilty Tuesday to providing confidential law enforcement information to suspected drug dealers. Kenitra Casper was a police service technician when she was arrested in June and accused of providing photos of five undercover narcs  and information from a database that contained details of drug arrests to criminal suspects. She was also accused of emailing photos, names of criminal suspects, and driver's license photos to people with no right to access that information. The seven-year veteran of the sheriff's office pleaded guilty to 12 counts of disclosing or using confidential criminal justice information, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years on each count. No word on a sentencing date yet.

In Selma, Alabama, a Dallas County jail guard was arrested Friday on charges he was smuggling contraband into the county jail. Guard Washington Reese went down when he was searched upon arriving for work Friday night and cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, and cash were discovered in his backpack. He is charged with promoting prison contraband and unlawful distribution of a controlled substance.

In Cincinnati, a Cincinnati police officer pleaded guilty November 9 to using police computers to look up information for someone he thought was a drug dealer. Alvin Triggs, 45, drew the suspicion of other Cincinnati cops, who set up a sting in which they fed a license plate number to Triggs' cousin, a suspected drug dealer himself and told him the plate belonged to a suspected undercover officer. Triggs' cousin asked him to run a computer check on the plate, and he did just that. Triggs was originally charged with several felonies, but ended up copping a plea to a single misdemeanor count of attempted unauthorized use of a police computer. He may avoid jail time at sentencing, but did have to resign from the force as part of the plea deal. He will be sentenced December 6.

Dominican Presidential Candidate Says Legalize Drugs

A Dominican presidential candidate who is also a prominent government official and head of one of the parties that make up the current government said Monday he favors drug legalization. Luis Acosta Moreta, nicknamed "El Gallo," told the program Propuesta on Channel 45 Monday that drug prohibition creates corruption and social decay.

Luis "El Gallo" Acosta Moreta (udc.org.do)
Acosta Moreta is the director of the Dominican Republic's Community Development Agency. He is also the head and presidential candidate of the Christian Democratic Union, one of the minor parties in the governing "Progressive Bloc" dominated by President Leonel Fernandez and his Dominican Liberation Party. Elections are set for next May.

The government attacks the effects of drug trafficking, but not its causes, Acosta Moreta said, adding that neglect of the poor left them vulnerable to the blandishments of traffickers. Those same traffickers fund cultural and sports activities in the barrios, he said.

The corruption that comes with drug prohibition infects the police, too, he said. "It's there where this social decomposition begins in which you hear a police corporal speaking of mansions and SUVs, because that's what we're living through, for which I totally agree that drugs should be legalized," Acosta Moreta proclaimed.

In its most recent annual report on the global drug trade, the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs described the Dominican Republic as "a major transit country for illicit drugs originating in South America" and one where drug-related law enforcement corruption is "endemic."

As they confront the consequences of drug prohibition, the list of Latin American politicians embracing radical drug policy reform just keeps on growing.

Santo Domingo
Dominican Republic

Drug War Issues

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, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 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, Kratom, 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