Police Corruption

RSS Feed for this category

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

We have them at every stage of the criminal justice process this week, from arrest to guilty plea to sentencing. For a pair of greedy, wheeling-dealing cops in St. Louis and Miami, the ride through the criminal justice funhouse is just getting started. A former St. Paul cop has just copped a plea, and now former cops in Connecticut and Hawaii are heading to prison. Let's get to it:

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/miamidade.jpg
Miami-Dade Police Department patch (or item # 180033018469 on ebay)
In Miami, a Miami-Dade County police officer was arrested last Friday on cocaine trafficking charges, the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida announced in a press release the same day. Officer Errol Benjamin is accused of selling 13 pounds of coke while in uniform. He is charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and faces up to life in prison and a $4 million fine, the feds noted.

In St. Louis, a suburban Hillsdale, Missouri, police officer was indicted in an elaborate cocaine distribution conspiracy, the office of the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri announced in a press release last Friday. Hillsdale Police Sgt. Christopher Cornell conspired with a tow truck company operator to rip off drug dealers and resell their cocaine, the feds charged. The tow operator would set up drug runners to deliver cocaine in Hillsdale and notify Cornell, who would stop and jail them for minor violations, leaving their cars at the roadside. The towing company would then tow the cars, steal the drugs, and resell them. US Attorney Catherine Hanaway estimated that the scheme had brought in $2.4 million in profits. The indictment seeks the forfeiture of Cornell's property, including a Mercedes Benz and other cars.

In St. Paul, Minnesota, a retired St. Paul police officer pleaded guilty last Friday to possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. Clemmie Howard Tucker, a 23-year veteran who retired in 1998, was busted trying to pick up 22 pounds of cocaine and 12 pounds of meth at the Greyhound Bus Depot in neighboring Minneapolis. Police put the value of the seized drugs at $4 million. Although Tucker was tearful and contrite during his plea, it doesn't matter: He faces a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence. Pending cocaine charges will probably be dropped at sentencing, Tucker's lawyer said.

In Bridgeport, Connecticut, a former Bridgeport police officer was sentenced to 45 months in prison for peddling oxycodone, the active ingredient in the popular pain reliever OxyContin. Former Officer Jeffrey Streck, 40, a 10-year veteran, pleaded guilty in January to conspiring to possess oxydone with the intent to distribute after being arrested by the FBI in 2005. According to the Associated Press, Streck was arrested as part of a three-month investigation into large-scale cocaine and marijuana trafficking and had arranged an Oxycontin buy.

In Honolulu, a Honolulu police officer who pleaded guilty to selling more than $5,000 worth of methamphetamine to an undercover informant was sentenced to five years and five months in prison on September 28, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported. Robert Henry Sylva, 50, had faced three counts of distributing meth during 2004, but copped to one count in a December plea agreement. Although Sylva faced an federal advisory guideline sentencing range of 7 to 12 years, US District Judge David Ezra cut him some slack at federal prosecutors' request after they said he had cooperated with investigators after being busted.

Officer who stole drugs fights for job (Ottawa Citizen, Canada)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/city/story.html?id=92f9f5ca-cfe5-414c-b6ee-63dd2fbb88e2&k=7022

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

The lucrative cross-border drug traffic draws another Border Patrol agent into trouble, a New Jersey cop's forgetfulness gets him in trouble, and two more greedy prison guards get themselves in trouble. Nothing special here; it's just another week in the drug war. Let's get to it:

In El Paso, a Border Patrol agent was arrested September 15 on charges he accepted bribes to allow dope through a border checkpoint, the Associated Press reported. According to the criminal complaint, Arturo Arzate, a 21-year Border Patrol veteran, allegedly met with smugglers and agreed to take payments of $50 for each kilogram of marijuana and $1,000 for each kilo of cocaine he let get through. The feds have accused him of receiving $16,000 in bribes while he was under an investigation that began last fall. Arzate's downfall began when an informant told the FBI he had seen Arzate meeting with a known drug trafficker. He is charged with bribery, conspiracy, and knowingly distributing a controlled substance.

In Irvington, New Jersey, a police officer was arrested last Friday on charges he stole drugs, handguns, and case files from the departmental evidence locker, the Associated Press reported. Irvington Police Officer Frederick Southerland went down after he failed to pay rent on a storage unit. The items in the storage unit were sold at auction, and when the buyer discovered five pistols, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, he notified authorities, who soon swooped in on Southerland. The 18-year veteran officer is now charged with official misconduct and receiving stolen property and faces up to 10 years in prison.

In Homer, Louisiana, one Union Parish Detention Center guard was arrested September 21 and another was being sought on charges they smuggled marijuana in to a jail inmate, according to the Associated Press. Guard Nicholas Wilson, 21, was booked and bailed out pending trial, while guard James Webb, 23, was on the lam at last report. The pair went down after detectives found an ounce of weed in an inmate's cell, and Wilson admitted his involvement and ratted out Webb. The missing Webb faces charges of distribution of marijuana, malfeasance in office, conspiracy to distribute marijuana, and conspiracy to introduce contraband into a penal institution. Wilson is charged with one count -- conspiracy to introduce contraband.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

There is something rotten in the state of Tennessee, with the stench of police corruption stretching from the banks of the Mississippi to the hazy ridges of the Great Smoky Mountains, and this stuff is pretty rotten. Meanwhile, there's an apparent case of, er, overly aggressive policing in Florida and the mandatory prison or jail guard in trouble. Let's get to it:

In Cocke County, Tennessee, former Cocke County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Patrick Allen Taylor's guilty plea to conspiring to sell thousands of dollars of stolen NASCAR goods is only the tip of the iceberg of corrupt, criminal activities in the Cocke County Sheriff's Department, federal prosecutors alleged in a motion seeking a prison sentence far higher than federal sentencing guidelines call for, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported Monday. According to prosecutors, Taylor was involved in robbery schemes, extortion, protection rackets, cockfighting, ripping off drug dealers, and tolerating drug use among department insiders. Taylor is the nephew of former Sheriff DC Ramsey, who resigned under pressure in the same federal corruption probe that has now brought down his nephew. Known as "Rose Thorn," the federal operation has led to the arrests of eight Cocke County lawmen and 170 other people, and has led to the closure of brothels, cockfighting pits, and a video amusement company. For more on the whole sordid affair, check out the News-Sentinel's special report, "Cocke County Confidential."

In Memphis, former Reserve Memphis Police Officer Andrew Hunt pleaded guilty last Friday to robbing drug dealers of cash, cocaine, and personal belongings. He could face up to life in prison, but that's unlikely since he has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. Three other Memphis police officers have already been indicted in the case, and more indictments could be coming, prosecutors warned. Hunt was part of "a gang of corrupt uniformed officers" who ripped off at least 20 drug dealers, prosecutors said. And these guys were really sleazy: In one case, Hunt stole drugs, cash, and a $15,000 watch from one dealer, then told him he could buy his drugs back. When the dealer came up with $9500 in cash, Hunt took the money and kept the drugs.

In Surfside, Florida, police are investigating charges two Surfside police officers conspired to plant drugs in the vehicle of a local civic activist, Miami TV station Local 10 News reported September 7. Two officers, Sgt. John Davis and Officer Woody Brooks, have been suspended after allegedly plotting to plant cocaine in the car of Jay Senter, who had previously tangled with Sgt. Davis over the case of a French couple cited for numerous code violations and fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for renting homes in Surfside to vacationers. According to the allegations, Davis and Brooks were overheard plotting to plant the drugs in retaliation for Senter's reporting another officer to the FBI in the code violations case. Interestingly, Surfside Vice Mayor Howard Weinberg told Local 10 the same officers had conspired to arrest him for drunk driving near a local bar and release the dashboard camera video in a bid to embarrass him, but the plot was foiled because he only drinks iced tea when he goes out. Another, anonymous local official told Local 10 Davis was behaving "like a Nazi" toward political opponents.

In Westchester, New York, a Westchester County prison guard was sentenced to probation last week for interfering in a drug investigation, the North Country Gazette reported. Timothy Connolly, 39, pleaded guilty to one count of second degree hindering prosecution and one count of drug possession. He will be under supervision for the next five years. Connolly was arrested during a combined investigation by the Westchester District Attorney Narcotics Initiative (W-DANI), Yonkers Police, New York State Police and Westchester County Department of Correction Special Investigations Unit, and was told to keep his mouth shut about the bust. But he later warned one of the main targets of the investigation he was being watched, told him to "shut down" his cocaine sales operation, and advised him not to use his phone because it was being monitored. Connolly was fired from the Westchester County Department of Correction on September 7, the same day he pleaded guilty.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

The temptations of the border tarnish another Texas lawman's badge, a Tulsa cop is convicted of being too helpful to a drug dealer, and a pair of Newark's finest plea to a pill-pushing scheme. Let's get to it:

In McAllen, Texas, the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas issued a press release announcing the August 29 indictment of a former South Texas police officer for allegedly taking a bribe to protect what he thought was a cocaine shipment. Former Elsa City Police Officer Herman Carr, 45, is accused of taking a $5,000 payment from an undercover FBI agent to use his position as a law enforcement officer to protect a vehicle he was told contained five kilos of cocaine. He is charged with bribery and faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a federal jury last Friday found a former Tulsa police officer guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and providing unlawful notice of a search warrant. Former Officer Rico Yarbrough was convicted of informing a suspected drug dealer that a search warrant was about to be served at his residence, the Tulsa World reported. In February, Yarbrough called a Tulsa man and asked him to inform the suspected dealer of the impending raid. Unfortunately for Yarbrough, the conversation was being recorded. Federal investigators who had wiretapped the suspected dealer's phone overheard references to Yarbrough, then fed him information to see if he would leak it. He did. Yarbrough was found not guilty on two related counts, but still faces significant prison time when sentenced November 29.

In Newark, two Newark police officers pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to charges they bought thousands of Oxycontin pills from a doctor and resold them, the Associated Press reported. Patrolmen John Hernandez and Ronald Pomponio face up to 20 years in prison and $1 million in fines when sentenced in December for conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, the active ingredient in Oxycontin. The pair admitted in court that Hernandez purchased Oxycontin tablets valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars, while Pomponio took prescriptions for the pills to pharmacies across the state. The doctor from whom they allegedly purchased the drugs has pleaded not guilty.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Another week, another set of bad apples. We see so many bad apples, we're beginning to wonder if there isn't something wrong with the barrel. In any case, this week we have an encore performance by an Alabama judge with a serious bad habit, some Chicago cops copping pleas for robbing drug dealers, a pair of US air marshals being sentenced for acting as drug couriers, and a small-town Texas police chief looking for work after there were too many questions about where some drug money went. Let's get to it:

In Carollton, Alabama, speed-freaking Pickens County District Judge Ira Colvin is in trouble again. Regular readers will recall that Judge Colvin was arrested just two weeks ago on meth and meth precursor charges in neighboring Lowndes County, Mississippi. He was arrested again Saturday morning on Alabama meth possession charges based on the discovery of meth in his office at the Pickens County Judicial Center on August 15. His office was searched at the orders of Circuit Court Judge James Moore the day after his Mississippi arrest. According to the Tuscaloosa News, Pickens County officials said they had been investigating Colvin's alleged drug use since May. He has been suspended as a judge, and is out on bond on both the Mississippi and Alabama charges. In a late, but not unexpected, twist to the story, Colvin resigned Wednesday.

(This is not necessarily an example of corruption -- it's a tough call sometimes to decide if any given case of legal trouble involving law enforcers should make this column -- Judge Colvin presumably sits in judgment on others accused of drug use, so we decided to include it.)

In Chicago, two former Chicago police officers pleaded guilty this week to charges they robbed thousands of dollars worth of marijuana and cocaine from drug dealers, the Associated Press reported. Former officers Derek Haynes, a nine-year veteran, and Broderick Jones were part of a ring of five former Chicago police officers charged with stopping drug dealers and taking their drugs on the city's South Side. All five were charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine; now Haynes and Jones two others who have already pleaded to those charges. They face between 15 and 40 years in prison.

In Houston, two US air marshals caught plotting to smuggle cocaine by using their positions to get around airport security were sentenced to prison Tuesday, Reuters reported. Shawn Nguyen, 38, and Burlie Sholar, 33, were arrested in February in an FBI sting after agreeing to carry 33 pounds of coke on a flight from Houston to Las Vegas. They were to earn $75,000 for their efforts. The pair went down after an informant told investigators Nguyen, a former US drug agent, was involved in trafficking. Nguyen got seven years, while Sholar got nine. They faced up to life in prison.

In Troy, Texas, Police Chief David Seward was fired at a Monday night city council meeting after being suspended July 11 because of an ongoing investigation into the handling of money seized after drugs were found in a vehicle during a traffic stop. According to KWTX-TV 10 in Waco, council members questioned how that money was spent. Seward admitted that some money was spent improperly, but argued he should not be terminated. The city council wasn’t buying, though. It voted unanimously to fire him.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

We've got us a Southern trifecta this week, with missing evidence in Alabama, a rogue task force in Mississippi, and, of course, a drug-dealing prison guard in Louisiana. Let's get to it:

In Tuskegee, Alabama, agents with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation are sniffing around the Tuskegee Police Department to see what happened to drugs and money allegedly missing from the evidence safe. The cops were tight-lipped, but "sources close to the case" told WSFA-12 News $26,000 in cash and an unknown quantity of drugs seized from alleged drug dealers has gone missing. According to WSFA, at least four drug cases may be in jeopardy. The Alabama Bureau of Investigation told the station the investigation could take another month.

In Hattiesburg, Mississippi, at least 34 drug cases were dismissed last month because deputies with the Southeast Mississippi Narcotics Task Force planted evidence on suspects or otherwise planted evidence, the Hattiesburg American reported Tuesday. Those deputies have been charged with crimes and were expected to plead guilty this week to charges including assault, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy. According to Parrish and Jones County Sheriff Larry Dykes, while the task force has been shut down, the drug problem remains, so he is forming a drug enforcement division in his department.

In Columbia, Louisiana, a former Caldwell Correctional Center guard was arrested Tuesday on charges he sold marijuana to jail inmates, KATC-TV reported. Dennis Cartridge, 23, was charged with possession of marijuana, malfeasance in office, introducing contraband into a correctional facility, and conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Cartridge, who had been a jail guard for only two months, is now sitting in a different jail trying to raise $15,000 to bond out.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

It's not your typical week of corrupt cops this week. We've got the usual prison guard in trouble, but not in the usual way; we've got an LAPD officer arrested for making bad arrests; we've got an Alabama narc busted for stealing; and we've got an Alabama judge with an apparent bad habit. In regard to the judge, we don't typically run stories of cops facing simple drug possession charges, but when it's a judge who regularly sentences drug offenders, we think it's worth notice. Also this week, a pair of links to longer investigative pieces down by local newspapers about festering local corruption scandals. Let's get to it:

In Lowndes County, Mississippi, an Alabama judge has been arrested on methamphetamine possession charges, the Tuscaloosa News reported. Pickens County District Judge Ira Colvin was arrested Monday by Lowndes County sheriff's deputies at the same time they arrested a 36-year-old woman (not his wife) on the same charges, but in a separate vehicle. According to the Associated Press, Colvin was arrested as deputies investigated people driving from store to store to buy meth precursor materials. Precursors, a gram of powder meth, and two syringes filled with liquid meth were allegedly found in his car. Colvin's wife, Christy Colvin, was arrested on meth possession charges four months ago in Columbus, Mississippi, as she drove around town purchasing ingredients that could be used to make meth. Judge Colvin, who was appointed to the bench in December 2002 to replace a judge who resigned after being accused of improper contact with females involved in cases before his court, was indicted on federal bankruptcy fraud charges in May 2004 for allegedly hiding assets for a client in 2001, but those charges were dropped after Colvin apologized. He was awaiting a bail hearing Wednesday.

In Dothan, Alabama, a former Houston County narcotics officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges he stole property. Former Houston County Sheriff's Deputy Ricky Ducker was accused of stealing up to $30,000 worth of hunting equipment and accessories from Southern Outdoor Sports, where he once worked. Ducker pleaded guilty to first degree theft of property and faces from two to 20 years in prison when sentenced in October. According to WTVY-News 4, Ducker, a 25-year veteran of the sheriff's office, "hid behind his attorneys" as he entered the court house and "ran out of the courtroom after entering his guilty plea."

In Los Angeles, a veteran Ramparts Division LAPD officer was charged last Friday with making false arrests, the Los Angeles Times reported. Officer Edward Beltran Zamora was busted after he was caught in a sting by the LAPD Ethics Enforcement Section. The department says it has videotape of Zamora arresting two undercover officers posing as suspects on suspicion of drug possession when they did not possess drugs. Zamora, 44, has previously been accused of making false arrests, and the city of Los Angeles has already paid out $520,000 to settle two civil lawsuits filed against him. In one case, Zamora was accused of planting a rifle on a suspect, in the other, he was accused of planting drugs and a rifle. Zamora faces up to three years in prison on a felony count of filing a false police report. He also faces two misdemeanor counts of false arrest and false imprisonment. The 16-year LAPD veteran is free on bail.

In Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, a Texas jail guard was arrested Monday morning with 30 pounds of cocaine. According to KGBT-4 TV in Brownsville, Texas, Hidalgo County detention officer Pedro Longoria was arrested by Louisiana State Troopers and now faces charges of transporting cocaine. Longoria has now been fired from his job and is jailed pending a bond hearing.

For those interested in a more in-depth look at drug war-related police corruption at the local level, two recent newspaper articles are worth a read. In North Carolina, the Fayetteville Observer has a lengthy piece on "Operation Tarnished Badge," a federal investigation that has roiled Robeson County for the past few years, resulting in convictions of several officers and the dismissal or reversal of hundreds of drug cases. Meanwhile, in Mississippi, the Laurel Leader-Call has published an update on the ongoing investigation of the Southeast Mississippi Drug Task Force, which was shut down in April amid concern over "irregularities," with its story "Task Force Probe Nearly Complete".

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Another sheriff who couldn't resist temptation, another drug-dealing cop, and something smells mighty bad in a Mississippi anti-drug task force. Just another week in the drug war. Let's get to it:

In Adel, Iowa, the Dallas County sheriff was charged July 28 with stealing $120,000 in seized drug money. According to WHO-TV in nearby Des Moines, Sheriff Brian Gilbert is accused of pilfering one packet of cash in a $900,000 seizure. Gilbert took the cash from the scene and reportedly detoured to his home on the way to the station. When he got there, Deputy Scott Faiferlick noticed one of the packets was missing and told investigators. Sheriff Gilbert maintains his innocence, but now faces charges of first degree theft.

In Henrico, Virginia, a former city police officer is on the lam after police went public with two arrest warrants for him Monday. Former Officer Charles Harpster faces charges of obtaining drugs by fraud and marijuana distribution, Henrico police told WRIC-TV8 in Richmond. Police have released little other information, except to neither confirm nor deny allegations he took drugs from the police evidence room.

In Ellisville, Mississippi, prosecutors have dismissed at least three dozen drug cases because of an ongoing investigation into "questionable activities" by the Southeast Mississippi Drug Task force, according to a July 26 report by WDAM-TV7 in Hattiesburg. Jones County Assistant District Attorney Ronald Parrish told the station a number of other cases will not be presented to a grand jury. No specifics of the alleged police wrongdoing have been made public, but it must be pretty serious if prosecutors are already dismissing cases.

Feature: As Fighting Flares in Southern Afghanistan, Support for Licensed Opium Production Grows

American military commanders in Afghanistan Monday officially turned control of the country's restive, opium-rich south to NATO amid increasing rumblings of concern from European politicians -- concern over both rising coalition casualties and the wisdom of trying to prosecute the war on drugs and the counterinsurgency operation against the Taliban and Al Qaeda at the same time. With some 18,500 troops, it will be the biggest mission in NATO history, and one whose outcome is cloudy at best.

This year has seen an upsurge in fighting in Afghanistan, with some 1,700 people killed in the spreading violence so far. Among them are 65 US troops and 35 NATO troops, including three British soldiers killed Tuesday in an ambush in southern Helmand province and two more killed Wednesday. Last year, the bloodiest year yet for coalition forces, saw 129 US and NATO soldiers killed, but this year looks set to be bloodier yet. In the last three months alone, 58 NATO or American soldiers have been killed, 35 in the south. At the rate things are going, these figures will probably be outdated by the time you read this.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/symposium.jpg
2005 Senlis symposium
It has also, by all accounts, seen an upsurge in opium production, especially in the south. Despite the stirring words of Prime Minister Karzai, who has vowed a holy war against the poppy, eradication efforts are achieving mixed results at best. That is because the Karzai government and its Western backers are confronted by a multitude of factors militating against success.

"The drug fight is continuing, but it is not very effective," said Abdul Raheem Yaseer, assistant director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. "The lack of the government's ability to help farmers find markets and the difficulty of transporting goods on the bad roads are very discouraging. And now the area is suffering from drought," he told DRCNet. "People were optimistic at the beginning of the year that they could sell their produce, so they invested their money, and then the drought came. Now, many of them are saying they can't make back the money they spent, so they are shifting back to opium. They speak openly. They say 'We have families to feed, loans to pay, there is no water, there is no improvement in the roads.'"

Yaseer pointed to several factors hindering the eradication effort. "The drug lords have been benefiting for years, and they fight to keep that revenue going," he said. "The high rises going up in Kabul are all built by drug lords. But some of those drug lords are members of the government, which complicates matters even more. Karzai talks very tough about eradication, but the reality on the ground is quite different. The corruption, along with the lack of support within the government and by the West, allows the drug lords to enjoy a relatively peaceful time."

But if British Lt. Gen. David Richards, the new NATO commander in the south, has his way, the drug traffickers are about to feel the wrath of the West. "I'm convinced that much of the violence is only caused by the drugs-related activities in the south," said Richards at a Kabul press conference Saturday. "The opium trade is being threatened by the NATO expansion into the south and they are going to fight very hard to keep what they have got and a lot of what we are seeing has nothing to do with any ideological commitment" to the Taliban, he said. "Essentially for the last four years some very brutal people have been developing their little fiefdoms down there and exporting a lot of opium to the rest of the world. That very evil trade is being threatened by the NATO expansion in the south. This is a very noble cause we're engaged in, and we have to liberate the people from that scourge of those warlords."

"NATO has three objectives," said Yaseer. "Their first priority is to defeat the insurgency, secondly to win hearts and minds, and third to wipe out the opium." But, he conceded, those goals are contradictory, given Afghanistan's huge dependency on the opium economy. According to the United Nations, opium accounts for somewhere between 40% and 50% of the national economy.

And the attempt to prosecute all three objectives at the same time could well led to a more formal alliance between traffickers and insurgents. The major drug traffickers also align themselves with the Taliban and what Yaseer called "intruders" from Pakistan, referring to agents of Pakistani intelligence, the ISI, who he said work to keep Afghanistan from gaining stability. "The drug lords do not want to be controlled by the Afghan government, so they side with the intruders and the Taliban and share profits with them. These intruders from Pakistan are not helping; they are jeopardizing the efforts against smuggling and to eradicate the poppies. As for the Taliban, they might have religious problems with opium, but they like the money and they cooperate with the growers and traffickers."

"The drug lords and smugglers are as strong militarily as the Taliban and Al Qaeda," said Yaseer. "If they really unite together, the coalition forces will face a big strong resistance."

The command turnover from the Americans to NATO, and the rising death toll among NATO soldiers is beginning to focus the minds of European politicians, some of whom are beginning to call for the adoption of a scheme that would allow the licensed production of opium for the legitimate medicinal market. Formally unveiled last October in Kabul, the proposal from the European security and development think tank, The Senlis Council, has so far attracted only limited support from key decision-makers in Kabul and the capitals of the West.

Last week, Drug War Chronicle reported that some British Conservatives had begun to call for adoption of the Senlis proposal. By the time that report appeared, new calls to adopt the licensing scheme came from the Italian government.

"The Italian government will be a promoter both in Europe and in Afghanistan" of a project to "legally purchase the opium produced in Afghanistan and use it for medicinal purposes," said Italian foreign vice minister Ugo Intini last Friday, as he spoke with journalists at the Italian Senate. The aim is to reduce the illicit trafficking of opium and make opioid pain medications more available to poor developing countries, he said. The lack of opioid pain medications in the developing countries is "profoundly unfair," he added.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/plaque.jpg
plaque memorializing journalists murdered by Taliban, at hotel where they stayed in Jalalabad
A British Labor Party politician told DRCNet Thursday that he, too, supported the Senlis proposal. "In Helmand, Britain has stopped destroying poppy crops to concentrate on bombing people into democracy and trying to win hearts and minds by using bombs and bullets," said MP Paul Flynn, a staunch opponent of the drug war. "The $40 million paid to the corrupt Karzai government to compensate farmers for crops previously destroyed never reached the farmers. The only sensible way to make progress is to license the farmers to use their poppy crop to reduce the world-wide morphine shortage."

But the idea that the US, which opposes any relaxation of any drug law anywhere on ideological grounds, or the Afghan government, will embrace the proposal is probably mistaken, said Yaseer. "As soon as you hear 'legalize drugs,' all kinds of religious, traditional, and other resistance pops up. One problem here is that the state is too weak. They can’t control it when it is illegal, and they wouldn’t be able to control it if it were legal. There is plenty of opium already without licensing; in the Afghan context, licensing means freedom to grow more."

Instead, said Yaseer, the Afghan government and the West should subsidize the farmers, seek alternative crops, and enable local government to actually establish control on the ground. But that will not be easy, he conceded. In the meantime, the poppies continue to bloom, the drug lords, both within and without the Karzai government, continue to get rich, and NATO soldiers, American soldiers, Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgents, and drug trafficker gunmen all continue to fight and die. And civilian Afghan citizens, most of whom would like nothing more than peace and prosperity, are among the biggest losers as the bullets fly and the bombs drop.

visit: DRCNet in Afghanistan

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School