Police Corruption

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This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A quiet week on the corrupt cops front this week, with only two reports. But one of them raises interesting questions: Why does a drug task force commander who steals from suspects and tries to cover up his crimes only get probation, when the suspects if convicted may get prison? Let's get to it:

In Williamsport, Pennsylvania, a Williamsport police officer was sentenced October 12 to 18 months probation for abusing his power as head of a local drug task force and profiting from items seized from drug suspects. Thomas Ungard, Jr., the former coordinator of the Lycoming County Drug Task Force was convicted of tampering with public records and obstructing justice in the five-year-old case. The judge in the case has suspended the imposition of sentence while Ungard appeals his conviction. He was convicted in part thanks to the testimony of another Williamsport police officer and task force member, Dustin Kreitz. Kreitz had also been charged in the scandal, but pleaded no contest earlier this year to a theft charge in exchange for his testimony against Ungard. But now, Kreitz has withdrawn his plea and is set for trial early next year.

In Wetumka, Alabama, an Alabama Department of Corrections jail guard was arrested October 16 on charges he smuggled contraband including drugs and cell phones into the Staton Correctional Facility in Elmore. Guard Leonard Purter has since resigned, and at last report, he was residing at the Elmore County Jail. It's unclear what the formal charges are, and local officials said an investigation is continuing.

Cop Admits Planting Drugs on Innocent People to Meet Arrest Quotas

http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/files/newyorkmarijuanaarrests.png

Hmm, maybe the reason so many people still support the war on drugs isn’t because they’re stupid jerks. Perhaps they just haven’t yet had the pleasure of getting spontaneously framed, arrested, and jailed for made-up cocaine crimes concocted by dirty drug cops.

A former NYPD narcotics detective snared in a corruption scandal testified it was common practice to fabricate drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas.

The bombshell testimony from Stephen Anderson is the first public account of the twisted culture behind the false arrests in the Brooklyn South and Queens narc squads, which led to the arrests of eight cops and a massive shakeup.

"As a detective, you still have a number to reach while you are in the narcotics division," he said.

NYPD officials did not respond to a request for comment. [NY Daily News]

What, did you think they were going to apologize? Because that would be a lot like admitting that it’s wrong to do these sorts of things. I can absolutely guarantee you that there are plenty of people in law enforcement who think that the worst thing about this whole episode is that it’s causing people to say unreasonable things about the cops.

I, on the other hand, am quite convinced that the worst thing about this mess is the part where they framed some random dudes for fake crimes. That is an act so extraordinarily corrupt, so corrosive to the concept of a free society, that it’s a wonder the politicians have yet to declare war on it.

Imagine for one second, at the risk of your head exploding, that despite the laws of economics, human nature and common sense, it somehow turned out to be the case that the vigorous enforcement of our drug laws actually led to a reduction in drug activity. Imagine that, and ask yourself what would happen if one day these quota-driven drug detectives couldn’t find enough dope dealers to drag downtown on drug charges. It chills the blood to imagine the multitude of malicious schemes that would emerge to ensure that the people whose job it is to put other people in prison are always busy doing just that.

Ex-NYPD Narc Testifies Cops Routinely Planted Drugs on Innocent People

A former NYPD narcotics officer has blown a festering police misconduct scandal sky-high with testimony this week that police regularly planted drugs on innocent people to meet arrest quotas. The former narc, Stephen Anderson, was testifying as a cooperating witness in the trial of another officer after he was arrested for planting cocaine on four men in a bar in Queens.

In two days of testimony at the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn last week, Anderson described how rules were routinely broken or ignored so that narcs could make their monthly arrest quotas. His testimony shone new and unflattering light on the department in a scandal that was originally cast as police not turning in all their drug evidence so they could give it to their snitches as rewards for services rendered. One police official at the time characterized it as "noble corruption," done for a worthy cause.

But Anderson's testimony painted a picture of much baser motivations than bending rules in order to get information on drug deals. Anderson alleged that police routinely used drugs they seized but failed to turn in to plant on totally innocent people, without regard to the consequences.

In one case, Anderson described buying three bags of cocaine at a Queens nightclub, then giving two of the bags to a fellow officer, who planted them on and arrested four innocent people.

In court, Justice Gustin Reichblach, who is hearing the case without a jury, pressed Anderson on what he and his comrades had done to innocent people. "What was your thought in terms of saving his career at the cost of those four people who had seemingly no involvement in the transaction?" he asked.

The practice was called "attaching bodies" to the drugs, Anderson responded, adding that four years of life as a narc had numbed him to corruption. "It was something I was seeing a lot of, whether it was from supervisors or undercovers and even investigators," he said. "Seeing it so much, it's almost like you have no emotion with it. The mentality was that they attach the bodies to it, they're going to be out of jail tomorrow anyway, nothing is going to happen to them anyway. That kind of came on to me and I accepted it -- being around that so long, and being an undercover."

The allegations about systematic corruption in NYPD narcotics units has led to the dropping of more than 400 drug prosecutions by prosecutors in Brooklyn and Queens because the officers in the cases are tainted by the scandal. The city is also busily settling civil suits filed by those wrongfully arrested, and is paying out an average of $1,000 for each hour of wrongful detention.

Such corrupt misbehavior on the part of narcotics officers was not a surprise to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), which has been monitoring the NYPD and has also been strongly critical of the department's long-standing policy of arresting people for small-time pot possession. It is decriminalized under state law, but NYPD would force people to take bags of pot from their pockets, then charge them with misdemeanor public display of marijuana, a policy reversed under public pressure just weeks ago.

"One of the consequences of the war on drugs is that police officers are pressured to make large numbers of arrests, and it's easy for some of the less honest cops to plant evidence on innocent people," said DPA's gabriel sayegh. "The drug war inevitably leads to crooked policing -- and quotas further incentivize such practices.

"Whether the issue is planting drugs (like this instance) or falsely charging people for having marijuana in public view (as is the case with the majority of marijuana arrests in NYC) the drug war corrupts police, ruins lives, and destroys trust between law enforcement and the communities that they serve," said Sayegh.

New York City, NY
United States

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Dirty cops popped up all across the South this week, and a crooked California prison guard, too. Let's get to it:

In Helena, Arkansas, five Helena-West Helena police officers were arrested Tuesday as part of a major drug trafficking crackdown that also involved public corruption. More than 800 federal and local police took part in mass arrests that targeted 70 people on federal charges. The police action, code named Operation Delta Blues, targeted crack cocaine sale and money laundering, but also swept up the Helena-West Helena police on corruption charges. The officers arrested are Helena-West Helena Police Department officer Herman Eaton, 46; Helena-West Helena officer Robert "Bam Bam" Rogers, 35; Helena-West Helena Sgt. Marlene Kalb, 48; Marvell police officer Robert Wahls, 42; and former Phillips County Deputy Sheriff Winston Dean Jackson, 44, who's now a Helena-West Helena police officer. They face a variety of drug trafficking and other charges.

In Caruthersville, Missouri, the Caruthersville police chief and an officer were arrested October 6 and charged with forgery and theft. Chief Chris Riggs and Officer Marcus Hopkins each face multiple counts of forgery, while Riggs also faces one count of theft. Their exact misdeeds have not been revealed, but the investigation was conducted by the Missouri Highway Patrol Drugs and Crime Division. Both men are free on $200,000 bonds. Riggs remains police chief.

In Bayou La Batre, Alabama, a former Bayou La Batre police officer was arrested October 7 after a months-long investigation into missing drug money by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation. Former officer Jason Edwards had been in charge of confiscated drug money when some turned up missing in March. He resigned over the summer. At last report, Edwards was out on bail pending trial.

In St. Martinsville, Louisiana, a St. Martin Parish Sheriff's Office jail guard was arrested October 5 for allegedly smuggling contraband into the St. Martin Parish Correctional II Facility. Officer Freddie Abraham, 20, is charged with malfeasance in office, criminal conspiracy, attempted introduction of contraband in penal institutions, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. He was last reported in jail trying to make a $30,000 bond.

In Blacksburg, South Carolina, a former Cherokee County sheriff's department narcotics officer was arrested October 5 for engaging in sex acts with a confidential informant who had pending charges. Albert Phillips, 41, is charged with misconduct in office for the acts, which took place between December 2008 and January 2009. He resigned in January 2009.

In Petaluma, California, a guard at San Quentin state prison was arrested October 6 for selling drugs at the prison and accepting bribes. Robert Alioto, 48, was booked on suspicion of requesting or receiving a bribe, possession of marijuana for sale, sales or transportation of marijuana, conspiracy and selling drugs to a person in custody. Officials had few details. Alioto is free on $50,000 bail.

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.

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