Busy, busy, busy. Judges on cocaine, cops dealing cocaine, cops selling ecstasy, Air Force pilots smuggling ecstasy, police chemists pilfering from the evidence pile, and, of course, jail guards smuggling dope into prisons. Let's get to it:
In Las Cruces, New Mexico, the state Judicial Standards Commission filed a petition last Friday seeking the removal of a Dona Ana County magistrate on the grounds he tested positive for cocaine, according to the Associated Press. Magistrate Carlos Garza, 42, has denied using drugs and vowed to fight the move. Garza has been suspended by the commission since September 20, when he failed to comply with a commission order he submit to a drug test. According to the commission, he has since failed another drug test. The commission also accused Garza of trying to pressure a Mesilla deputy marshal during a traffic stop where the judge was in a car with a woman "with whom he had a personal relationship" and asking a court clerk to clear the woman's license early in a drunk driving case. He was put on probation by the Judicial Standards Commission earlier this year in that case, and he said the charge he used cocaine was a continuation of a commission vendetta against him. He said the cocaine metabolites found in his system could have been received through "passive exposure." Garza is running unopposed for reelection in next month's elections.
[Ed: Whether to include mere drug use/possession by criminal justice personnel among the examples of corruption is a dilemma Drug War Chronicle routinely faces. We've opted so far to include them, because a judge who uses illegal drugs may also be a judge who presides over trials of, and pronounces sentences on, other drug users who have only done the same thing (hypocrisy); and because the judge is violating a law he has sworn to uphold (it being a law with which we disagree notwithstanding). Still, it bears reminder that there is a difference between drug use even by police or judges vs. profiting from the drug trade or other examples of official misconduct.]
In Durham, North Carolina, a Durham County sheriff's deputy has been arrested in a drug raid at a local bar and two more deputies have been fired for working security there. Deputy Michael Owens, the owner of the raided bar, was charged along with four others with trafficking cocaine and conspiracy to traffic cocaine, and he faces the additional charge of maintaining a building for the purposes of distributing cocaine. Deputies Brad King and Keith Dotson, who worked off-duty as security for the club, were suspended that same night, the Durham Herald Sun reported, and fired early this week. Authorities reported seizing 1.4 ounces of cocaine during the raid.
In Biloxi, Mississippi, a former Biloxi police officer pleaded guilty last Friday to selling ecstasy, the Biloxi Sun Herald reported. Darrell Cvitanovich, who resigned from the force after his arrest, faces up to 30 years in prison after he admitted selling four ecstasy tablets to a friend. Cvitanovich, who is the son of a former Biloxi police chief, was arrested in June 2005 after an investigation into allegations he was involved in drug activities. During a search of his home, police found 11 ecstasy tablets and a small amount of methamphetamine. He was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and transfer of a controlled substance, but pleaded last week to the single sales charge. Cvitanovich is free on $50,000 bond pending sentencing.
In New York City, a US Air National Guard pilot who took an Air Force jet to Germany and carried back 200,000 ecstasy tablets was sentenced last Friday to 17 ½ years in prison. Capt. Franklin Rodriguez, 36, and his coconspirator, Master Sgt. John Fong, 37, had pleaded guilty in federal court after being busted for the April 2005 flight. Fong awaits sentencing. The pair went down after federal law enforcement agents watched Fong load 28 bags into a BMW sedan and found them filled with ecstasy tablets, according to the Associated Press. Prosecutors said Rodriguez had repeatedly flown drugs on military flights, bringing hundreds of thousands of ecstasy tablets to the US. The feds found more than $700,000 cash in his apartment. They have it now.
In Philadelphia, a former civilian chemist for the Philadelphia Police Department was arrested October 11 on charges she stole drugs for her own use, the Associated Press reported. Colleen Brubaker, 30, came under suspicion in April and resigned in May. Authorities now accuse her of grabbing pain-relieving opiates like Oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin to feed her own habit. She is charged with drug possession, theft, receiving stolen property, tampering with evidence, obstruction, tampering with public records or information, and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. Since Brubaker was the chemist responsible for hundreds of drug cases, public defenders are now looking into the possibility that some of them may have to be dismissed.
In Stillwater, Oklahoma, a Payne County sheriff's deputy has been suspended without pay pending an investigation by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, the Associated Press reported. Local officials are mum about exactly what Deputy Brooke Buchanan, a 13-year veteran of the department, is accused of doing, but they did confirm that a special prosecutor has been named in the investigation. The investigation could take several more weeks before any charges are filed.
In Lubbock, Texas, a Lubbock County jail guard was arrested Sunday night as she arrived at work carrying marijuana, KLBK-CBS 13 TV in Lubbock reported. Renata Hernandez, 26, is charged with introducing a prohibited substance into a correctional facility. She faces between two and ten years in prison. While sheriff's office spokesmen said they believed she was bringing the weed into the jail to sell it, they have not been able to prove that yet.