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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.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

One crooked sheriff gets indicted, while another cops a plea. Meanwhile, the border generates another three cases of corruption or thuggery. Let's get to it:

The lure of drug prohibition's filthy lucre proves corrosive to honest law enforcement. (image via Wikimedia)
In Shreveport, Louisiana, the Winn Parish sheriff was indicted August 2 on charges he helped his girlfriend cover up methamphetamine deals. Sheriff A.D. "Bodie" Little is one of 11 people charged with dealing meth in the Winn Parish and Shreveport areas. A state trooper testified that Little came under investigation by a joint state-federal task force after he asked the Caddo Parish sheriff to get a task force together to investigate Winn Parish drug dealers. The trooper testified that "it's clear he wanted everyone arrested except his girlfriend." Little has pleaded not guilty and was set to be released on $100,000 bond sometime this week.

In Carlisle, Kentucky, the Nicholas County sheriff pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing asset forfeiture money. Sheriff Dick Garrett was accused of taking more than $43,000 from the forfeiture account and and using at least $10,000 to pay his homeowners insurance and pay off personal loans. He pleaded guilty to theft by unlawful taking and abuse of public trusts. A jury had recommended five years in prison on each charge. Garrett will have to pay restitution of $38,237.60 within five years and resign immediately as sheriff. He will be sentenced in November.

In Phoenix, two Border Patrol agents were indicted August 4 on charges they forced accused drug smugglers to eat marijuana and flee barefoot and nearly naked into the desert. Agents Dario Castillo, 23, and Ramon Zuniga, 29, were charged with five civil rights violations by a federal grand jury in Tucson stemming from the November 2008 incident. According to prosecutors, the pair caught four men taking part in a marijuana smuggling operation. They forced the men to eat some of the weed and strip down to their underwear, burning their outer clothes and shoes and socks, then told them to flee into the desert night, where the temperature was around 40 degrees. Prosecutors said the actions deprived the four men of their civil rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. The two face 10 years each on the civil rights charges, while Castillo faces up to 20 years for a count of witness tampering.

In Laredo, Texas, a former Laredo police officer was sentenced August 4 to 6 ½ years in prison for helping a drug trafficker move and store cocaine. Pedro Martinez III, 34, agreed to escort loads of cocaine in exchange for payment from undercover FBI and BATF agents he thought were smugglers and recruited fellow officer Orlando Hale to help out. He escorted three loads and Hale escorted two, with the pair receiving $1,000 for each load. The undercover agents also persuaded Martinez to lead them to a cocaine supplier, who has already pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges and awaits sentencing. Martinez testified against Hale when Hale took his case to trial last year. Hale lost and got 24 ½ years. Martinez pleaded to bribery charges.

In Laredo, Texas, a Webb County deputy constable was arrested Monday by FBI agents on charges he acted as an escort for a cocaine trafficker. Eduardo Garcia, 44, was indicted for escorting loads of cocaine through Laredo for a local trafficker for $500 a pop. Unfortunately for Garcia, the trafficker became a DEA informant and flipped on him, allowing the DEA to record meetings where they would discuss load arrangements. Garcia, wearing his badge and driving a law enforcement van, would escort the loads through the city. The snitch also asked Garcia to run a pair of license plates through a state law enforcement data base, which he did. He's looking at up to 20 years in prison on three bribery charges and five more on one count of unauthorized access to protected computer information.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Cops cutting corners to make arrests, a cop caught providing protection for a load of cocaine, and a police force fired for its misbehavior make this week's rogues' gallery. Let's get to it:

In Houston, a Houston police sergeant was arrested July 27 on charges he took a bribe to provide protection for a vehicle carrying several kilograms of cocaine. Sgt. Leslie Atkins, 46, faces federal charges of aiding and abetting the possession with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and with accepting a $2,000 bribe to provide protection for a vehicle transporting seven kilograms of cocaine. He was arrested after a June 22 indictment was unsealed. The 19-year veteran has been suspended without pay. He faces a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence on the cocaine charge and could get life, and he faces up to 20 years for the bribery count. He is out on $50,000 bail.

In Oak Hill, Florida, the city council voted Monday to dissolve the police force over a number of issues, including the case of marijuana plants found on the property of 86-year-old Mayor Mary Lee Cook. Cook said publicly she believes the plants were placed there by someone within the department. Police Chief Diane Young and her six sworn officers were asked to turn in their guns and badges, and Volusia County is temporarily taking up some of the law enforcement slack until the city enters into a formal contract for services with the county.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a Tulsa man has sued the city and a Tulsa police officer alleging that he falsified a search warrant that led to his conviction and life sentence in prison. DeMarco Williams, 36, filed the lawsuit July 28 in federal court in Tulsa and becomes the fifth person to sue the city and current or former police officers accused of falsifying search warrants and other corrupt practices in a festering scandal that keeps on giving. Williams accuses indicted Officer John Henderson of falsifying the search warrant and thus depriving him of his civil rights. He also accuses the city of Tulsa of negligence for failing to keep its cops in line. Henderson and fellow Officer Bill Yelton were indicted a year ago on a slew of criminal counts and went on trial Monday. Henderson is charged with 58 counts: 22 related to perjury, 20 related to civil rights violations, 12 related to drugs, two witness tampering counts, one firearms count and one attempted bribery count. Some duplicate charges are expected to be reduced during the trial. Yelton is charged with eight counts: four related to civil rights violations, two related to witness tampering, one related to suborning perjury and one count of attempted retaliation against a witness, which was added in September 2010. Yelton is not involved in Williams' case. Williams spent six years in jail and prison after being charged and convicted. He was released last year as the Tulsa corruption scandal broke wide open.

In New Orleans, a New Orleans police officer resigned last Friday as he was being investigated for allegedly lying about a January drug arrest in the Algiers section of the city. Officer Samuel Birks, a four-year NOPD veteran, was charged in state court late last month with filing false public records and malfeasance in office. Birks and his patrol partner, Joshua Hunt, are accused of falsely arresting Alvin Bean, planting a rock of cocaine on him, and lying about the incident. Hunt resigned in June. The charges against Bean were dropped after his defense attorney was able to convince prosecutors that the officers' stories didn't add up. The district attorney's office then dropped the charges against Bean and filed them against Birks and Hunt. They have both pleaded not guilty.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

We've got sticky-fingered SWAT cops, we've got perverted probation officers, we've got smack-slinging uniformed police officers, we've got strung out, pill-stealing cops, and, of course, we've got crooked jail guards. Let's get to it:

Drug prohibition's filthy lucre tempts law enforcement (image via wikimedia.org}
In Waycross, Georgia, a Ware County prison guard was arrested last Friday after he set off a metal detector upon arriving at work and was found carrying contraband cell phones and marijuana. Theodis Martin, 25, is charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of more than an ounce of marijuana, bringing prohibited articles to the prison without the warden's permission, possession of prohibited items inside the guard line and trading with inmates without the consent of the warden. Although he was fired from his job the same night, he is still at the Ware County Jail.

In Kansas City, Kansas, three Kansas City Police SWAT team members pleaded not guilty Monday to federal charges they stole cash and other property from homes while serving search warrants, including one that was part of a federal sting operation. Officers Jeffrey Bell, Darryl Forrest, and Dusting Stillings are accused of stealing video game equipment during searches at several homes last year. Complaints from residents led to the sting, which led to additional charges the crooked trio stole video game equipment, other electronics, and $640 in cash in that incident. Bell and Forrest were charged with conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights and theft. Sillings was charged with conspiracy against rights and theft. They each face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the conspiracy charge. The other two charges carry a maximum one-year prison term and a $100,000 fine.

In Baltimore, a Baltimore police officer was indicted Tuesday along with four other people on drug and gun charges. Officer Daniel Redd and the others were charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin. According to court documents, the other drug ringleader obtained heroin from Africa and distributed it to Redd and others. Redd is also accused of distributing heroin to others, including incidents that took place in the Northwest District Police Station parking lot while Redd was in uniform. He is also charged with carrying a firearm while engaged in drug trafficking, which carries a mandatory minimum five-year federal prison sentence.

In Provo, Utah, a former Provo police officer was sentenced last Friday to probation for stealing prescription medications from a home where he had previously responded to a call. Tony Brewer, 33, was arrested after a Provo family said he went to their home to investigate a 911 call, then returned several times and stole Lortab pills. A family surveillance camera caught him in the act. Brewer's attorney said he got hooked on pain pills after a police training injury. He has since undergone drug treatment. He was charged possession of a controlled substance and theft, but the theft charge was dropped as part of the plea deal. He has to do six months of probation and pay a $623 fine.

In Portland, Oregon, a former federal probation officer was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison for sexually abusing five women under his supervision between April 2005 and June 2009. Mark John Walker, 52, had pleaded guilty in April to charges he violated the civil rights of his victims by sexually abusing them. As part of his plea agreement, he admitted forcing one woman to have sex with him and fondling four other women. Several of the women were drug defendants on probation.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A former Border Patrol agent goes to prison, a former deputy police chief cops a plea, a sticky-fingered former cop gets sent away, too, and a deputy and three jail guards get busted. Let's get to it:

In Atlanta, a Fulton county sheriff's deputy and three jail guards were arrested June 30 on charges they smuggled drugs and cell phones into the jail. Fulton County Sheriff's Deputy Marvie Trevino Dingle, 34, and detention officers Akil Scott, 31, Derick Deshun Frazier, 31, and Brian Shelby Anthony, 30, are accused of accepting payments to deliver contraband into the Fulton County jail. Anthony faces additional counts for using his position to net more than $26,000 while obtaining or distributing marijuana and cocaine earlier this year. Four non-jail workers were also charged with cocaine distribution outside the jail. The four went down after jail authorities heard rumors of drug sales and brought in FBI agents for an undercover operation. No word on bail or trial dates yet.

In Yorkville, Illinois, the former Yorkville deputy police chief pleaded not guilty July 6 to charges he stole opioid pain relievers from the department's drug take-back program. Dave Delaney, 37, is charged with possession of a controlled substance and theft of government property. The drug take-back program was designed to allow residents to turn over to police expired and unused prescription drugs for safe disposal, but Yorkville Police became suspicious that some of the turned in drugs were missing and asked the Illinois State Police to investigate. State police found some of the missing drugs in Delaney's possession. Delaney was demoted from his deputy chief position and is currently on unpaid leave with the department. He faces up to three years in prison and heads to court again in late August.

In Muscatine, Iowa, a former Muscatine police officer was sentenced last Friday to five years in prison after being caught with cocaine and missing drug money. Scott David Burk, 48, went down after fellow officers in the Muscatine County Drug Task Force searched his home and vehicle and found the dope and currency missing from the task force evidence room. In May, Burk pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, a drug tax stamp violation, and second-degree theft. The latter two counts are both felonies. Burk had been free on supervised release since pleading guilty, but was immediately taken into custody and delivered to the Iowa Department of Corrections in Oakdale. He had been undergoing drug treatment and attending Alcoholics Anonymous while awaiting sentencing.

In Brownsville, Texas, a former Customs and Border Patrol officer was sentenced July 6 to 17 years in federal prison for taking $500,000 in bribes from a Mexican drug cartel over a 3 ½ year period to allow cocaine and illegal aliens to cross the border unimpeded. Luis Enrique Ramirez, 39, had fled to Mexico after being indicted, but was captured while trying to reenter the US. He pleaded guilty in March to bribery, cocaine distribution, and cocaine conspiracy charges.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A Florida 2010 Officer of the Year goes down, so do a Georgia police officer and a Georgia jail guard. Let's get to it:

In Boynton Beach, Florida, last year's Officer of the Year was indicted Tuesday on serious federal methamphetamine charges. Officer David Britto, 28, is charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of meth. He was caught up in an ongoing investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, led by the DEA. Last year, the Palm Beach County Association of Chiefs of Police and the Boynton Beach Police Department named him Officer of the Year, noting that he was an instructor at the department's Teen Police Academy and a volunteer at the Florida Community Alliance. No word yet on bail or his current employment status.

In Savannah, Georgia, a former Savannah-Chatham Metro police officer was arrested June 27 on a raft of drug-related charges. Floyd Sawyer, 44, went down after federal authorities got information last year that a Savannah police officer working off-duty security at a local night club was extorting drugs from dealers in the club and selling them for his own benefit. The feds set up a sting with an informant posing as a dealer. The fake dealer entered the club with a cell phone, a bottle of fake Oxycontin pills, and other items. The fake dealer was soon detained by Sawyer and another officer and taken to a secluded area of the club, where they took his drugs and phone, then threw him out of the club. Sawyer is charged with drug trafficking conspiracy, extortion, possessing a firearm during a crime of violence, and lying to federal agents. Sawyer is out on $25,000 bail. He was fired after the sting went down last year.

In Brunswick, Georgia, a former Glynn County Detention Center officer was sentenced Tuesday to five years probation after he was caught smuggling Oxycodone and Armodafinil, both prescription opioids, into the jail. Robert Woodcock, 36, pleaded guilty last week to possession of prescription drugs with the intent to distribute, crossing county prison lines with narcotics, and violating his oath of office. He was arrested in May when sheriff's deputies found the drugs on him and in his car when he entered the jail.

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 38,000 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, June 22

In Tamaulipas, the Mexican military began the process of taking over 22 local police departments, including the violence plagued areas of Nuevo Laredo, Miguel Aleman, Mier, Camargo, Reynosa, Tampico, and Matamoros. The military is expected to secure the areas while new, vetted police are hired.

Thursday, June 23

In Cuahtemoc, Chihuahua, seven people were kidnapped from a drug rehab center by heavily armed gunmen. At least three of the kidnap victims managed to escape the center but were later discovered by gunmen and forced into a car nearby. Marines investigating the incident discovered 190 packets of cocaine and pot at the center.

In Mexico City, President Calderon had a public debate with activist and poet Javier Sicilia in which he defended his use of the military against drug cartels while at the same time apologizing to the victims of drug-related violence such as Sicilia's son, who was murdered in Morelos in March along with six friends.

Saturday, June 25

In Ciudad Juarez, at least eight people were murdered. In one incident, two transit police officers were shot dead by gunmen who shot them from moving vehicles as the officers were making a traffic stop. It appears the officers were deliberately targeted.

In Monterrey, four men were lined up against a wall and shot after having been dropped off by a group of heavily armed men in an SUV.

In Veracruz, Mexican authorities captured Albert Gonzelaz Pena, also known as "El Tigre," who is thought to a high-ranking Zeta commander in charge of Veracruz and the state of Mexico. He is wanted in connection with at least three kidnappings and is thought to be heavily involved in local extortion schemes.

Sunday, June 26

In Ciudad Juarez, at least seven people were killed. Among the dead were four men who were found dead at a baseball field where they regularly played, and a federal police officer who was shot dead after being chased on foot by gunmen.

Monday, June 27

In the Monterrey suburb of Santa Catarina, the police chief was gunned down in his office. Chief German Perez was in his office when at least two cars and three trucks full of gunmen arrived at the location and went directly to his office, where he was shot at least eight times.

On Tuesday, it was announced that seven police officers were being investigated in the incident, as they did nothing. Among the seven were the chief's personal bodyguards.

In Oaxaca, a priest said that at least 80 Central American migrants had been kidnapped from a train which was carrying them north towards the US border.

Tuesday, June 28

In Mexico City, President Calderon said he felt "misunderstood" in the government's war on drug cartels, which he launched after taking office in December 2006. He said that many people -- "perhaps silently" -- support the military campaign. As success, he cited that 21 of the country's 37 top drug lords have been killed or captured.

[Editor's Note: We cannot accurately tally the drug prohibition-related killings in Mexico at this time. El Universal, the only Mexican newspaper that was doing so on a regular basis, has stopped. We will have to rely on official pronouncements on the death toll, and will report them when they happen. Below are the numbers through the end of last year. With more than 1,400 reported dead in April alone, this year's toll could well exceed last year's. As of this month, we believe the total death toll has surpassed 38,000.]

Total Body Count for 2010: 15,273

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

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

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

Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war through 2010: 34,883


This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Ah, the crooked prison guards are back. We missed them last week, but we knew they wouldn't stay away long. Let's get to it:

In Tallahassee, Florida, a Florida Department of Corrections guard was arrested last Thursday on charges he tried to traffic cocaine to prisoners where he worked. Guard Eric James, 34, was arrested in a sting operation in a local Walmart parking lot as he attempted to buy cocaine to smuggle into the prison. The guy he was getting the cocaine from was actually an undercover officer with the Lake County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Unit. He is charged with bribery and cocaine trafficking. James is being held in the Leon County Jail on $10,000 bond.

In Boston, a Massachusetts prison guard pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to trying to smuggle heroin to sell to inmates at a medium-security prison near Boston. Ronald McGinn Jr. went down after the state Department of Corrections told the FBI someone was smuggling drugs into the prison, and the FBI sent in an undercover officer. McGinn sent text messages and discussed with the officer the amounts he would smuggle and the fees he would charge. He was arrested in possession of 29 grams of heroin in April. He pleaded guilty to possession of heroin with intent to distribute and faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced in September.

In Greenbelt, Maryland, a former Prince George's County police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to selling cocaine and other charges. Sinisa Simic went down in a sweeping federal investigation of corruption in the county. He admitted that he and another man had sold more than 600 grams of cocaine in return for $24,000, as well as protecting shipments of contraband cigarettes. He pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking, extortion, and two firearms offenses, and faces a mandatory minimum 10-year federal prison sentence when he returns to court for sentencing in September.

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 38,000 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:

The profits of prohibition fuel the violence in Mexico. (Image via Wikimedia.org)
Wednesday, June 15

In Nuevo Leon, a record 33 people were murdered in one day.  Among the dead were two bodyguards of State Governor Rodrigo Medina who were kidnapped, murdered, and mutilated. The previous daily high in the state was 18, which included 14 inmates killed in a jailhouse fire that had been deliberately set.

Friday, June 17

In Nuevo Leon, 26 police officers were detained for their involvement in the murder of the two bodyguards of Gov. Medina on Wednesday.

In Matamoros, the leader of Los Zetas, Heriberto Lazcano "Z-3" was reported killed after a series of ferocious gun battles in the city with the rival Gulf Cartel. Mexican and American authorities have both denied that Lazcano is dead, and question why he would personally be leading attacks on the Gulf Cartel stronghold of Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas.

Sunday, June 19

In Michoacan, at least 23 people were executed over the weekend by the Knights Templar drug trafficking organization. President Calderon was in the state capital of Morelia at the time attending a U-17 soccer game between Mexico and North Korea. The Knights Templar had announced the coming murders via banner on Friday. On Saturday, nine people were found dead in three different locations, each containing three bodies.

The Knights Templar is an off-shoot of La Familia Michoacana, and has vowed to wage war on the opposing faction of LFM led by El Chango Mendez (captured Tuesday -- see below) and his allies in Los Zetas.

Monday, June 20

In Veracruz, a journalist was gunned down along with his wife and 21-year old son. Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco, 55, was an editor, crime reporter and columnist for the local Notiver newspaper. At around 5:30am on Monday, heavily armed gunmen kicked down the door to his home and gunned down everyone inside.

Also in Veracruz, seven municipal police officers were arrested in connection with the death of a Mexican Marine who was found dead on June 11 near the Tuxpan River. He was one of three Marines who were recently kidnapped and murdered in Mexico. The Marines have been on the forefront of Mexico's war on drug cartels and have conducted missions against high-profile targets such as Arturo Beltran Leyva, who was killed in December 2009.

Tuesday, June 21

In Cosio, Aguascalientes, the leader of La Familia Michoacana was captured by police at a highway checkpoint. Jose de Jesus Mendez Varga, 50, also known as "El Chango" -- the Monkey -- had been in command of the LFM organization since it broke up into rival factions after its previous leader, Nazario Moreno, was killed in fierce clashes with federal forces in December 2010. On Wednesday Mexican authorities said that US law enforcement played a key role in his capture.

In Ciudad Juarez, at least seven people were murdered. In one incident, a bag containing the head and dismembered body parts of a man was left outside a church. In a different part of the city, three men were gunned down inside a home in the southeast part of the city.

In the town of Cuahtemoc in the nearly lawless Chihuahuan sierra, authorities announced that eight people were found murdered there on June 18.

In Mexico City, Salvadoran president Mauricio Funes said after a meeting with President Calderon that the Zetas have been sending scouting missions to El Salvador to see whether they can purchase weapons from corrupt police and military officials.

Editor's Note: We cannot accurately tally the drug prohibition-related killings in Mexico at this time. El Universal, the only Mexican newspaper that was doing so on a regular basis, has stopped. We will have to rely on official pronouncements on the death toll, and will report them when they happen. Below are the numbers through the end of last year. With more than 1,400 reported dead in April alone, this year's toll could well exceed last year's. As of this month, we believe the total death toll has surpassed 38,000.]

Total Body Count for 2010: 15,273

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

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

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

Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war through 2010: 34,883


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