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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 around 40,000 people, including more than 15,000 last 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:

Wednesday, October 5

In Culiacan, Sinaloa, a top Sinaloa cartel leader was arrested without incident. Noel Salguiero Navarez, "El Flaco Salguiero," was the head of La Gente Nueva, which is considered the armed wing of the Sinaloa Cartel operating in Chihuahua and several other states. He is also thought to have been leading the Sinaloa Cartel's push to take Ciudad Juarez.

Thursday, October 6

In Veracruz, 32 bodies were discovered at three locations. The discovery came after Marines took eight members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel prisoner, who then led them to the locations. The government alleges that these men, who call themselves Zeta-Killers, are also responsible for the 35 bodies found on September 20.

Additionally, 12 members of the Zetas were captured, including Aguiles Amaranto Cruz Hurtano, the Zeta boss for the Veracruz region.

Friday, October 7

In Veracruz, Attorney General Reynaldo Esperez Perez resigned his office in the area. Escobar Perez was in office for only seven months. He is to be replaced by his deputy.

Near Monterrey, authorities announced that several police officers are being detained for allowing kidnap victims to be housed by their kidnappers in a local jail while negotiations were taking place. The hostages were rescued earlier in the week. The officers are thought to have been working for the Zetas.

Saturday, October 8

In Veracruz, 10 more bodies were discovered. Seven of the dead were discovered in the bed of a truck and the other three were found on roadsides in two different locations.

In Linares, Nuevo Leon, the entire police force of over 100 men was taken into custody for possible corruption and ties to drug trafficking groups. They were all driven out of the town on buses while the investigation continues. Mexican soldiers and federal police will take over policing duties in the town.

In Ciudad Juarez, at least seven people were killed. Among the dead were three men who were gunned down in the parking lot of a store in front of dozens of horrified witnesses.

Sunday, October 9

In Zacatecas, six police officers were killed in an ambush. The policemen were returning to the city of Valparaiso from a party when they were intercepted by a group of men wielding assault rifles and hand grenades.

In Ciudad Juarez, at least seven people were murdered in four separate incidents. In one incident, two boys, aged 16 and 17, were gunned down inside a home in the El Papolote area of the city. Later that afternoon, three men were killed inside a home in the Fray Garcia de San Francisco area.

Tuesday, October 11

In Mexico City, the Navy announced that 11 cartel members were killed and 36 captured during five days of raids in several parts of Tamaulipas. Additionally, four tons of marijuana was seized from two locations and 251 grenades were confiscated.  Among those captured was the Gulf Cartel chief for the city of Miguel Aleman.

In downtown Monterrey, three men were shot and killed in separate incidents. In one incident, a 51-one year old man was shot and killed with an AK-47 after his car was intercepted by unknown gunmen.

Wednesday, October 12

In Reynosa, authorities discovered the body of the Gulf Cartel’s main financial operator. Cesar Davila Garcia, "El Gama" had had apparently been killed by unknown parties with a 9 mm handgun that was found at the scene. At one point, Davila Garcia had been the personal accountant of former Gulf Cartel leader Ezequiel Cardenas-Guillen, "Tony Tormenta," before his death in November 2010. He was briefly given control of the Tampico region before being sent to Reynosa to assume his duties as the cartel's main financial operator

[Editor's Note: We can no longer tally this year's drug war deaths in Mexico with any degree of accuracy. The figure for this year's deaths is an estimate, no more, until there is some official toll.]

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.): 7,800

TOTAL: > 42,000

Mexico

Chronicle Film Review: Prohibition

Prohibition: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick (2011, Florentine Films/WETA, 3 discs, 5 ½ hrs., $41.99)

One of America's leading documentarians has done it again. Ken Burns, producer of the widely watched and hailed documentaries, Baseball and The Civil War, has now teamed up with Lynn Novick to examine the rise, fall, and repeal of the 18th Amendment banning alcohol sales and production. It is a worthy effort, and well-executed.

Prohibition "postcards" online at pbs.org/kenburns/prohibition/send-postcards/
The multi-hour must-see premiered over three nights this week on PBS, pulling in nearly four million viewers on its opening night -- very big numbers for public TV. It's also available online at the PBS Ken Burns Prohibition web site.

For most us of Prohibition is ancient history, skimmed over bloodlessly in dusty tomes in high school and undergraduate history courses. My 83-year-old mother, for instance, was still a toddler when revelers across the land tippled with delirious joy to mark repeal. For anyone younger than her -- and that's most of us -- Prohibition is no more than a school lesson, not a thing of living memory, except, perhaps, for an old story or two told by grandpa or grandma.

One of the successes of Prohibition is the way it brings that dry history to life. Through the skillful use of contemporary film, photographic stills, oral history, written remembrances narrated by actors, and a lively narration by Peter Coyote, Burns and Novick are able to recreate the living, breathing reality of second half 19th and early 20th Century America. Staring face to face at the glowering glare of a doughty battle-axe like Carrie Nation or the lizard-lidded, full-lipped gaze of Chicago gangster Al Capone, listening to Al Smith rail against the dries or Mabel Willibrand rally preachers against repeal, helps us put a human face on the  passions and frailties behind the march of the social revolution that was Prohibition and the mass rejection of it that was repeal.

Similarly, vivid scenes of saloon debauchery, with passed out drunks and giddy tipplers, of speakeasies filled with good-time guys and giddy flappers, of mass marches for and against, of political conventions and campaigns in which Prohibition was a burning issue of the day, help put living flesh on the dry bones of history.

The early 20th Century experiment in social control and legislating morality contains many lessons for contemporary activists seeking to undo the damage done by drug prohibition. Burns and Novick deserve our thanks for teasing out the varied strands that turned the 19th Century's temperance movement among mostly rural, Protestant, church-going women into a political powerhouse capable of blunting the power of big booze, shuttering the breweries and distilleries, and eliminating the saloons men saw as their last refuge from the demands of wife and children.

For me, the most important achievement of Prohibition is the way in situates the temperance movement within the broader social and political context of a tension-filled, rapidly evolving America. As Burns and Novick make abundantly clear, Prohibition did not happen in a vacuum. Among the forces propelling it were many of the same forces active today propelling reactionary social movements: racism (directed against newly arrived Irish, German, and Jewish immigrants), nativism (ditto), religious bigotry (aimed at those Catholic immigrants), nationalism (against mainly German-American beer brewers, especially during World War I), and rural vs. urban tensions.

But while it may be easy to ridicule the reactionaries of the last century, the roots of Prohibition also come uncomfortably close for present-day progressives. The temperance movement -- in all its intemperance -- was closely tied to "what about the children!" sentiment and women's suffrage, a cry for healthy living,  as well as the sort of "do-gooderism" conducted by "busybodies" that still informs much of the discourse when it comes to drug policy reform today.

As Prohibition shows most excellently, the politics of morality and social control are deep and twisted, and unraveling them reveals some unflattering facets of progressivism, as well as the more easily derided absolutists of what could fairly be called the Christian Right.

Where Prohibition is perhaps most useful to modern day drug reformers is in its depiction of the social ills it generated. Much as the Drug Policy Alliance likes to say "drug abuse is bad, drug prohibition is worse," viewers of Prohibition could fairly draw the conclusion that "mass drunkenness is bad, mass drunkenness under Prohibition is worse." Burns and Novick sketch the rapid expansion of organized crime under Prohibition, the gang wars of Chicago and New York, the corruption of cops and public officials -- all the side-effects of prohibition so familiar to present day reformers.

Prohibition "postcards" online at pbs.org/kenburns/prohibition/send-postcards/
But they also look at its public health consequences, which -- like current drug prohibition -- were also in many ways disastrous. There were mass deaths from bad bathtub gin, deaths from drinking wood alcohol, outbreaks of "Jake Leg," a neurological disorder caused by contaminated whiskey that crippled hundreds, if not thousands, and while alcohol consumption initially declined, that decline was soon reversed, and with even more unhealthy drinking patterns.

In the end, Prohibition died of neglect, ridicule, and changing social attitudes, forged at least in part by the experience of Prohibition itself. And at the end, it revealed itself to be hollow, crumpling with amazing rapidity after the Great Depression hit and the big city, immigrant-friendly Democrats under FDR took power. Before the end of FDR's first year in office, Prohibition was history.

There are many lessons and parallels for contemporary drug reformers in Prohibition, but they are not exact and may not apply across the board. Alcohol prohibition lasted barely a decade, but drug prohibition is now in its second century. Why one was a flash in the pan and the other remains a painful, enduring legacy are questions that need to be answered if we are ever to leave drug prohibition in the dustbin of history along with Prohibition. Prohibition can help us start to ask the questions that will give us the right answers.

Disappointingly, Ken Burns doesn't appear interested in pursuing the parallels, nor even the dissimilarities, between Prohibition then and prohibition now. He does not reference the prohibition of other drugs in Prohibition (although heroin and cocaine were already criminalized federally and marijuana was being banned in a number of states), nor, as he has made clear in interviews, does he see a useful comparison between the two.

But that disagreement or lack of boldness notwithstanding, Prohibition is still a great viewing experience that brings alive a critical episode in US social and political history, an episode who reverberations still linger and whose contours are still echoed in drug prohibition. This is your history, America -- watch, enjoy, learn, and ponder.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

The allure of prohibition's filthy lucre snags four more officers. Let's get to it:

In Houston, a Houston Baptist University police officer was arrested September 29 after he got caught in a sting trying to rob a supposed drug courier. Officer Jesse Perry, 30 is facing charges of possession with the intent to deliver a kilogram of cocaine. Perry allegedly took the cocaine from two undercover officers after pulling them over 30 minutes northeast of campus. He was in uniform and used his pet dog to sniff the kilo of cocaine before confiscating and driving to a nearby parking lot, where he was then arrested. At last report, Perry was in the Harris County Jail on a $52,000 bail bond. He's looking at up to life in prison.

In Bronson, Florida, a Levy County Sheriff's Office jail guard was arrested September 29 on charges he was using and peddling oxycodone. Richard Harris, 26, is charged with one count of sale of a controlled substance and possession with the intent to distribute. Harris went down after the sheriff's office asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to look into allegations he was part of the prescription drug trade in the community and investigators set him up in a controlled buy.

In Braddock, Pennsylvania, a Braddock police officer was arrested Tuesday on a variety of drug and other charges. He is accused of several thefts and burglaries, then stealing crack cocaine from the police department to pay a potential witness so she wouldn't cooperate with state investigators. He is charged with manufacturing, delivering or possessing a controlled substance; burglary; theft from a motor vehicle; conspiracy to commit theft; criminal mischief; criminal trespass; false insurance claim; false reports; obstructing the law; two counts of theft; two counts of receiving stolen property; and two counts of conspiracy to commit burglary. At last report, he was being held at the Westmoreland County Prison on a $10,000 bail bond.

In Sacramento, a former Concord police officer was sentenced last Friday to 18 months in federal prison for his role in a Chico marijuana cultivation operation. Damon Rydell, 36, had been part of an indoor grow-up busted with more than 200 plants and had claimed he thought the state's medical marijuana law allowed him to grow that many plants. He must also do three years probation and pay a $7,500 fine.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Nine more dirty cops this week. Of four incidents, two were on the border. Let's get to it:

In Romulus, Michigan, the former Romulus police chief and five other former officers were arrested Monday on charges they stole thousands of dollars from the department's drug forfeiture accounts. Former Chief Mike St. Andre, his wife, and the five former officers had been under investigation in a probe stretching back three years. St. Andre's homes in Romulus and Garden City were raided earlier this year, and the chief resigned just two weeks ago. No word yet on the formal charges, but the chief and his wife are now free on bond.

In Tucson, Arizona, a US Customs and Border Protection officer was indicted Monday on charges he knowingly let 547 kilograms of marijuana pass through his inspection lane at the Douglas crossing. Officer Luis Carlos Vasquez, 32, was charged along with five other people with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, conspiracy to import marijuana and importation of marijuana. Vasquez is out on a $100,000 personal appearance bond. He is looking at up to 40 years on each count, with a mandatory minimum of five years. The bust was conducted by an FBI border corruption task force, with help from the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility and the Douglas Police.

In Brownsville, Texas, a former federal probation officer was sentenced Monday to 14 years in prison after copping to drug trafficking and bribery charges. Armando Mora had worked as a probation officer in Rio Grande City and admitted accepting bribes from members of a drug trafficking organization in exchange for sensitive, confidential information from government records. The cartels used that information to do background checks on people they were thinking about hiring as drivers.

In Boston, a former Massachusetts jail guard was sentenced Tuesday to 2 ½ years in prison for his role in a plot to smuggle heroin to inmates at a middle-security prison near Boston. Ronald McGinn Jr., 40, had sent text messages to an undercover FBI agent about the amounts he would smuggle and fees he would charge and was arrested in April while in possession of 29 grams of heroin.  McGinn went down after another jail guard snitched him out.

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 around 40,000 people, including more than 15,000 last 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, September 15

In Philadelphia, authorities announced the dismantling of a drug trafficking network with ties to the Sinaloa Cartel. In total, five people were arrested, three of them in Pennsylvania and two in Texas. Ten kilos of cocaine, cash and weapons were also confiscated.

In Matamoros, fire fights and blockades were reported in several parts of the city, effectively shutting the city down. Residents posted pictures of hijacked buses parked across streets and city officials confirmed that incidents occurred on the highway to Reynosa. It is unclear whether any fatalities occurred during the incidents.

Wednesday, September 16

In Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, a car bomb exploded during Mexican Independence Day celebrations. No injuries were reported.

In Querandaro, Michoacan, Independence Day celebrations were canceled after a group of 40 heavily armed gunmen arrived in the town’s main square and ordered the crowd to disperse or be attacked, causing people to flee in panic or hide inside government buildings. No injuries were reported.

Saturday, September 17

In Huamuxtitlan, Guerrero, the body of a missing federal congressman and his driver were found in a river. PRI congressman Moises Villanueva had been missing since September 4th, when the two men disappeared after leaving a party held by a fellow party member. Mexican media reported that both men had been shot and appear to have been dead for some time.

In the Monterrey suburb of Santa Catarina, authorities announced that 44 police officers have been taken into custody on suspicion of working as lookouts for and protecting the Zetas. At least 69 others are still under investigation.

Sunday, September 18

In Mexico City, a high-ranking Sinaloa Cartel leader was arrested. Jose Carlos Moreno Flores is thought to have been the head of the Sinaloa Cartel in Chilapancingo, Guerrero, and is known to have had ties to drug traffickers in Guatemala and Costa Rica. He is also thought to have played a key part in turf wars fought over Chilpancingo between the Sinaloa Cartel and rival groups.

Monday, September 19

In Veracruz, 32 prison inmates escaped from three facilities in simultaneous jail breaks. 14 of the inmates have already been recaptured and the Mexican military has deployed to search for the remaining 18. All 17 prisons in Veracruz are being checked to ascertain whether any other prisoners are missing.

Tuesday, September 20

In Michoacan, the army captured a high-ranking member of the Knights Templar Organization. Saul Solis Solis, 49, is a former police chief and at one time was a congressional candidate for the Green Party, finishing fourth in the 2009 congressional race for his home district. He is also suspected of being heavily involved in narcotics cultivation and meth production, as well as in multiple attacks on federal forces, including a May 2007 attack that killed an officer and four soldiers.

In Veracruz, the bodies of 35 people were dumped on a busy street near a shopping center by a group of heavily armed gunmen who pointed weapons at passing motorists. According to Mexican media sources, most of the gunmen were identified as having criminal records and links to organized crime groups. A banner left with the bodies claimed that the dead were Zetas. Some of the victims had their heads covered with black plastic bags and appeared to have been tortured. One of the bodies has been identified as a police officer who went missing two weeks ago.

In Ciudad Juarez, at least eight people were murdered in several incidents across the city. In one incident, three teenagers were walking along a street when they were intercepted by a group of gunmen, who killed two and severely wounded the third. In another incident, a 32-year old mother of 8 was shot dead outside her home.

[Editor's Note: We can no longer accurately enumerate the number of deaths in the Mexican drug wars this year. The Mexico City newspaper El Universal had been running a tally on which we relied, but it stopped. Our estimate for this year's death toll is just that -- 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.): 7,200

Mexico

Mexico

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

An Oklahoma police chief gets caught with meth and weed, a New Mexico cop goes to prison for blowing up an FBI investigation, and a Colorado deputy is being looked at for some missing evidence money. Let's get to it:

In Salpulpa, Oklahoma, the Valley Brook police chief was arraigned on September 14 on drug trafficking and possession charges. Chief Melvin Fisher Jr., 47, had been arrested on Labor Day after being pulled over in a "routine traffic stop" by the Oklahoma State Patrol. He is accused of possessing 20 grams of methamphetamine, an unknown quantity of marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. He is charged with drug trafficking, two charges of unlawful possession of a controlled drug with intent to distribute and one charge of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. The chief is out on $31,000 bail and has asked for a temporary leave of absence. He is set for a preliminary hearing on October 5.

In Albuquerque, a former Albuquerque police officer was sentenced Tuesday to six months and a day in jail and six months on supervised release after being convicted of tipping off a friend who was the target of an ongoing federal narcotics and stolen merchandise investigation. Brad Ahrenfield, 46, leaked details of an FBI scheme to bust one of his friend's employees for small-time drug dealing, then get the employee to flip on the friend, forcing the investigation to come to an end.

In Pueblo, Colorado, the county's sheriff's deputy in charge of the evidence room has resigned in the midst of an investigation into missing cash. Tara Adame resigned earlier this month and is a "person of interest" in the investigation, according to Sheriff Kirk Taylor. "A substantial amount of cash" is missing from the evidence room, although an exact total hasn't been released.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A major pain pill bust takes down a trio of TSA agents and a pair of cops, adirty Chicago cop goes to prison, a crooked small-town New York officer faces the same fate, a Florida cop facing trial for peddling meth has gone on the lam, and four suburban Chicago cops are being sued. Let's get to it:

In Stamford, Connecticut, three Transportation Security Administration officers and two police officers were arrested Tuesday in a series of DEA-led busts that stretched from Stamford to West Palm Beach, Florida. Altogether, "Operation Blue Coast" rolled up 20 people for participating in a ring that sent tens of thousands of oxycodone tablets from the Sunshine State to the northeast. It all unraveled after an April bust of a courier in Stamford who told the DEA he was regularly shuttling thousands of pills at a time, sometimes driving, sometimes flying out of Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach. The TSA officers arrested included Christopher Allen, 45, and John Best, 30, TSA who were based at the Palm Beach International Airport; and Brigitte Jones, 48, a based at Westchester County Airport in New York. They are accused of taking at least $20,000 in payments from the courier to allow him to pass unmolested. Also going down in the busts was Florida State Trooper Justin Kolves, 28, who took payments to allow free passage on Central Florida highways, and Michael Brady, 36, a Westchester County police officer, who allegedly took cash to allow drug profits through the airport without detection. All 20 of those arrested on oxycodone trafficking, conspiracy, and associated charges face up to 20 years in prison.

In Chicago, a former Chicago police officer was sentenced September 7 to 12 years in prison for being part of a group of cops in the department's elite Special Operations Section who carried out armed robberies, home invasions, and other crimes across the city. Jerome Finnigan, 48, has already served four years in prison, so he should be a free man again in six or seven years. Finnigan was considered the ringleader in a group of officers who targeted mostly drug dealers for robberies to seize drugs and cash, which the cops then pocketed. The SOS scandal, as it is known in Chicago, has already cost the city more than $2 million in settlements of civil rights lawsuits from people victimized by the rogue cops, and many cases are still pending. Seven other SOS members have already pleaded guilty to state charges, but Finnigan and three others were indicted on federal charges in April. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder another officer prepared to testify against him and to tax charges related to the money he stole.

In Poughkeepsie, New York, a former Poughkeepsie police officer pleaded guilty last Friday to providing information about drug investigations to drug dealers in exchange for cocaine for his personal use. David Palazzolo, 47, a 20-year-veteran, pleaded guilty to three felony counts and is looking at between three and 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in December. Palazzolo admitted using the town police computer system on at least four occasions  to keep a drug dealer apprised of investigations and to warn him about the times and locations of drug surveillance operations carried out by town narcotics officers. He is free on $100,000 bail pending sentencing.

In Joliet, Illinois, four Joliet police officers were named as defendants in a civil rights lawsuit filed by a local man who alleges they falsely arrested and imprisoned him in a drug arrest last year. Patrick Moore's lawsuit claims that Officer Tom Banas made a crack cocaine deal with another man whom Moore accompanied. The videotaped drug deal went down inside a vehicle, while Moore remained standing outside the car, but officers arrested and charged him with delivering crack cocaine anyway, and he spent five months in jail awaiting trial before prosecutors dropped the charges. In addition to Officer Banas, the suit names Sgt. Patrick Cardwell, and Officers Alan Vertin and John Wilson, and alleges they falsified written police reports to bolster their false account of the arrest and hide their misconduct. The suit asks for $5 million in compensation.

In Miami, a Boynton Beach police officer has gone on the lam days before he was scheduled to go on trial for selling more than 500 grams of methamphetamine. Officer David Brito boarded a flight from Miami to Brazil on August 24, the same day he removed his ankle monitor and broke his 11:00pm curfew. Britto was Boynton Beach's "Officer of the Year" in 2010, but faced life in prison if convicted on the meth charges. He was scheduled to go to trial this week.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

We've got two weeks worth of law enforcement bad apples this week. The barrel is getting pretty full of them. Let's get to it:

In Brownsville, Texas, a former Cameron County District Attorney's Office investigator was indicted August 25 on a variety of drug trafficking-related charges. Former investigator Jaime Munivez, 47, is accused of partnering with an already indicted alleged cocaine trafficker on his deals, helping him search for a missing truck loaded with drug money, and providing fraudulent forfeiture documents for another trafficker. Munivez faces one count of conspiracy to possess more than five kilograms of cocaine, one count of conspiracy to extort, and two counts of aiding and abetting extortion. He was trying to make $75,000 bail at last report. He's looking at at least 10 years on the cocaine conspiracy count.

In Alexandria, Louisiana, a Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office narcotics field supervisor was arrested August 25 on charges related to "improper activities with three female offenders." Lt. Michael Lacour, 33, is charged with three counts of malfeasance in office. Although officials were mum on the particulars, the sheriff's office did say that it got a complaint from one of the women and that his arrest stemmed from his off-duty activities. Lacour has been suspended with  pay and is out on a $3,000 bond. 

In Greenup, Kentucky, a Greenup County jail guard was arrested August 29 for allegedly peddling Oxycontin to prisoners while on duty. Guard Causetta Cox-Tackett, 33, is charged with trafficking a controlled substance and promoting contraband. She went down after an internal investigation by the Greenup County Detention Center and the Greenup County Sheriff's Office. She is currently residing at her place of employment.

In New Port Richey, Florida, a former Pasco County sheriff's deputy was arrested August 30 after being caught with marijuana, prescription pills, and drug paraphernalia in his patrol car. Marshall DeBerry is accused of not turning in drugs and paraphernalia in at least 10 cases. Not all the missing drugs have been found, and DeBerry told investigators some may have "fallen out" of his patrol car. He is charged with tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. He went down after investigators got a tip about drugs in his patrol car. DeBerry had previously risen to the rank of corporal, but had been demoted to sheriff's deputy in 2008 after warning an informant of an impending raid. He is out on a $5,000 bond pending trial.

In Saluda, Virginia, the Middlesex County sheriff was indicted August 31 on 25 felony counts for taking boats, cars, and cash that belonged to the county and converting them for his own use. Sheriff Gus Abbott, who is still on the job, faces charges of misappropriation of funds, bribery and embezzlement. He allegedly took a Volvo and three boats and is charged with 18 counts of misusing money from the county asset forfeiture fund and credit cards. He is also charged with three counts of bribery for receiving more than $1,200 from an unnamed individual. He was released on his own recognizance pending trial.

In Marion, Illinois, a Williamson County sheriff's deputy was arrested September 1 on charges he took seized marijuana and gave it to a third party to sell. Deputy Caleb Craft is charged with theft, unlawful possession of cannabis, and official misconduct. Craft, a member of the Southern Illinois Enforcement Group (SIEG), went down after SIEG got information about one of their own gone bad. Craft was last reported being held at the Jackson County jail pending a bond hearing.

In Las Cruces, New Mexico, the former Columbus police chief pleaded guilty August 25 to conspiring to run guns to a Mexican drug cartel. Former Chief Angelo Vega had been arrested in March along with a former town trustee, a former town mayor, and 10 others after being indicted on an 84-count gun-running indictment. Vega earned more than $10,000 from last October through March by conducting counter-surveillance for La Linea, the enforcement arm of the Juarez Cartel, using a town vehicle to run guns to Mexico, and purchasing thousands of dollars worth of body armor, boots, helmets, and clothing, including bulletproof vests for a La Linea leader. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy, aiding in the smuggling of firearms, and extortion under color of the law. Vega and his co-conspirators used their positions to traffic around 200 guns to Mexico, including assault rifles. He faces up to 35 years in federal prison.

In San Juan, Puerto Rico, a former Arecibo police officer was convicted August 30 of providing security for drug dealers. David Gonzalez Perry was found guilty of 28 counts of conspiracy and drug-related charges for providing security for 15 separate cocaine transactions and receiving $36,000 to do so. He also recruited 15 other people into drug trafficking conspiracies. He's looking at a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence and up to life in prison.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, one Tulsa police officer was convicted and one acquitted August 30 in a long-running corruption scandal that featured the use of manufactured evidence against innocent parties, some of whom were imprisoned, lying on search warrant affidavits, and perjured testimony. Officer Jeff Henderson was convicted of eight counts of perjury and civil rights violations, while Officer Bill Yelton was acquitted on all charges against him. Henderson was acquitted on more than 40 other counts related to individuals who have filed lawsuits against the city of Tulsa claiming they were imprisoned based on the results of search warrants for which Henderson wrote false affidavits. The verdicts mark the end of a federal investigation of Tulsa police officers and a federal agent that began in late 2008 and resulted in charges against six Tulsa police officers and the federal agent. One Tulsa officer and the federal agent pleaded guilty and two other Tulsa officers were convicted in the case. Two others were acquitted, but remain suspended while the department investigates whether they violated internal policies. Henderson is looking at up to 32 years in prison, and the city of Tulsa is still looking at having to defend a mess of lawsuits from victims of the rogue cops.

In Los Angeles, an LA County sheriff's captain has been placed on paid leave after a voice thought to be hers was heard on a wiretap directed at several drug trafficking suspects. Capt. Bernice Abram has been on leave since April, although the story just broke late last month. She was put on leave after federal authorities notified sheriff's officials that their captain may have been heard on the narcotics wiretap. Officials are trying to determine whether hers is the voice in the recordings and what relationship she had with the suspects. Earlier last month, FBI and other agents arrested the drug trafficking suspects, members of a Compton-based drug ring.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A drug-robbing Philly cop heads to prison; so does a Houston deputy who helped an Ecstasy dealer, but a lying Oklahoma cop will walk free, and a Texas prison guard is looking at prison for smuggling dope to prisoners. Let's get to it:

In Philadelphia, a former Philadelphia police officer was sentenced August 18 to more than 16 years in federal prison for a plot to steal more than a half-pound of heroin and resell it for cash. Mark Williams, 28, was one of three Philly cops arrested in the case. The other two have already been sentenced. Williams had been found guilty in March of conspiracy to distribute heroin, distribution of heroin, attempted robbery, using a firearm in relation to a violent crime and related offenses. The trio of bad cops went down for a fake traffic stop and bust of a drug courier in which they simply kept the "seized" drugs.

In Houston, a former Harris County sheriff's deputy was sentenced August 18 to five years in federal prison for taking bribes from a drug dealer to provide protection and access to confidential information. George Wesley Ellington, 39, had pleaded guilty in April to extortion under color of official right after a joint investigation by the FBI and the Harris County Sheriff's Office found that he was providing protection and accessing official records for a man he knew was dealing Ecstasy. His wife, Tania Katrisse Ellington, will also serve time for knowingly concealing her husband's illegal activities. She'll do a year and a day.

In Marlow, Oklahoma, a former Marlow police officer pleaded guilty August 19 to charges he lied on the witness stand during a drug trial. He had been indicted on two counts of perjury after prosecutors in the trial stopped the trial because of his falsified testimony. He was set to go on trial Monday, but accepted a plea deal where he copped to one count of perjury and received a three-year suspended sentence and a fine. He also will be unable to work in law enforcement again.

In Huntsville, Texas, a former Texas Department of Corrections guard pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges he was smuggling heroin into a state prison. Alejandro Smith, 21, copped to one count of possessing with the intent to distribute heroin. He went down after "a source" told the FBI he was smuggling dope to prisoners. The FBI set up a sting in which he received from an undercover officer a duffle bag containing heroin. Smith faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced in November.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

This week, it's drug task forces gone bad! And a dope-snorting and -peddling sheriff, too. Let's get to it:

In Nashville, Tennessee, an audit of West Tennessee's 24th Judicial Drug Task Force has found abuses, including thefts by the group's administrative assistant and jail trustees partying with seized crack cocaine. The investigation conducted by the state Comptroller's Division of County Audit, which also found that District Attorney General Hansel McCadams and Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew liked to drive around in a seized BMW Z-3 on personal business. Auditors found that items seized from drug defendants were stolen or misused, with the administrative assistant and her ex-husband admitting to taking drugs, utility trailers, and a flat-screen television from the task force. Auditors also found that jail trustees had access to seized items and were not adequately supervised. Some trustees gained access to drug case files, smoked pot and crack while at the task force headquarters, and stole cash, coins, and other items. Prosecutor McCadams was cited for using a variety of seized vehicles including a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a golf cart, a go cart, a four-wheeler and a trailer for his personal use. He flew on task force airplanes and a helicopter on non-official business, according to the report. No word yet on whether anyone is going to face criminal charges.

In San Francisco, the former commander of an East Bay drug task force was indicted Monday on a slew of federal corruption charges along with a friend who is a private investigator. Norman Wielsch, the former commander of the Contra Costa County Central Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET), and private eye Chris Butler face numerous counts in an ongoing scandal that has already enveloped other members of the squad. They allegedly ripped-off marijuana and methamphetamine from the evidence room and resold it, provided protection to a bordello, and committed armed robberies of prostitutes, among other corrupt activities made possible by Wielsch's command position with the task force. They are charged with narcotics conspiracy, two counts of methamphetamine distribution, five counts of marijuana distribution, four counts of theft from programs receiving federal funds, three counts of civil rights conspiracy, and two counts of extortion. They were being held pending a bail hearing at last report.

In Greenville, Missouri, the former Carter County sheriff was ordered last Friday to stand trial on three drug-related felonies, including distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine. Tommy Adams, 31, appeared at a preliminary hearing after which Associate Circuit Judge Randy Schuller found probable cause to believe he had committed those crimes. During the hearing, criminal investigators testified that Adams had consented to searches in April that led to the discovery of a small amount of cocaine in an evidence bag in his department-issued vehicle and that an evidence bag containing cocaine was missing from the evidence room. Investigators also found five bags of methamphetamine hidden under the vehicle's gas pedal. The searches came after an informant wearing a wire bought meth from Adams. After being arrested in May, Adams tested positive for methamphetamine. Adams resigned after his May arrest. He now awaits trial.

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