Police Corruption

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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

They Should Put Surveillance Cameras in Police Stations

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

The Allegheny County district attorney's office has launched an investigation into what happened to $4,000 that Glassport police failed to return to a local bar owner when drug charges against him were dropped. "The fact that money was seized and placed in an evidence locker and turned up missing is unacceptable," said district attorney's office spokesman Mike Manko.

I agree, but I’d go a step further and call it a crime. Grand larceny to be specific. Of course, Glassport officers think it’s just a procedural problem:

Officers testified yesterday that the borough doesn't have a strict procedure for handling evidence and they don't know what happened to the money.

I hope Glassport area defense attorneys are paying attention, because they might have some appeals to file. It’s not everyday that your local police department admits general incompetence with regards to the collection of evidence. That’s the sort of candor that gets convictions overturned.

But keep in mind, it’s the honesty here that’s anomalous, not the apparent theft. Illegally searching people, confiscating private property, and stealing from the evidence locker are all routine activities in the war on drugs.

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Location: 
United States

To Snitch or Not to Snitch

Dr. Marc Lamont Hill has a fascinating editorial at AllHipHop.com about the moral dilemmas created by the growing Stop Snitching movement.

The movement, which has been accompanied by a flurry of t- shirts, songs, websites, and DVDs, is ideologically grounded in the belief that people should not cooperate with law enforcement authorities under any circumstances.

As you might guess, the movement is not without its critics:

In response to the "Stop Snitching" campaign, community organizations, politicians, and law enforcement agencies have mounted a full-fledged counter-movement, informally titled "Start Snitching", designed to encourage the hip-hop generation to cooperate with authorities when criminal acts are committed.

Hill doesn’t elaborate on their tactics unfortunately, and I’m left wondering how police and politicians plan to popularize snitching among a demographic already ravaged by the criminal justice system.

Afterall, this us-against-them mentality is hardly limited to the African-American community:

Even the police, who are among the strongest opponents of the "Stop Snitching" movement, have a 'blue code' of silence that protects them from internal snitches.

It’s true. Police advocates are fond of claiming that “a few bad apples” are responsible for all police misconduct, but police are loathe to expose criminality within their ranks. It’s ironic that those who’ve maintained a long-standing and virtually impenetrable “don’t snitch” ethic are now begging the public to stop following suit.

Ultimately, the “Stop Snitching” movement is a form of protest literally woven into the fabric of popular culture. A counter movement of police and prosecutors begging young people of color to “Start Snitching” is comically hypocritical, serving only to further legitimize the anti-informant crusade by proving its effectiveness.

The hard truth is that the “Stop Snitching” movement will continue to grow. Those that have been born the brunt of our war on drugs and the crime it causes have discovered a form of silent resistance. Thanks to the drug war, our most dangerous criminals are capitalizing on a climate of distrust between the police and the public in minority communities.

And if the DAs are up in arms over this, just wait til 50 Cent writes a song about jury nullification.

Location: 
United States

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Busy, busy. Cops getting arrested, cops pleading guilty, cops going to prison. And, of course, the ever-present drug-dealing prison guard. Let's get to it:

In Miami, three Boston police officers were arrested last Thursday after taking $35,000 to protect a cocaine shipment in an FBI sting operation. Ringleader Robert Pulido, 41, and fellow officers Carlos Pizarro, 36, and Nelson Carrasquillo, 35, traveled to Miami to celebrate their drug protection deal and plot more deals with undercover narcs they thought were cocaine traffickers, the Associated Press reported. Pulido allegedly got into a variety of criminal activities, with his junior partners sometimes joining in. Those offenses include protecting drug shipments, identity theft, sponsoring illegal after-hours parties with prostitutes, money laundering and insurance fraud, according to prosecutors. They are in jail awaiting an August 2 removal hearing.

In Deming, New Mexico, a Luna County Sheriff's Deputy was arrested Tuesday on methamphetamine possession charges after he took the dope off a man during a traffic stop, but never turned it in as evidence, the Luna County Sun-News reported. Deputy Tommy Salas, 33, turned himself in Tuesday afternoon and was release on $7,500 bail on one count of meth possession. Salas had been on paid administrative leave since June 9, when the sheriff's office and local prosecutors opened an investigation into "discrepancies" in the traffic case. Another officer at the scene had watched Salas take the drugs from the driver and heard him vow to turn them in, but it never happened.

In Lebanon, Ohio, a Warren County prison guard was arrested Monday for accepting drugs and money to be smuggled in to a prison inmate, Cincinnati's Fox19-TV reported. Corrections Officer Michael Miller, 37, went down after accepting marijuana and $600 from an undercover agent, capping what local police said was a three-month investigation. Miller is charged with two felony counts of conveyance of drugs and is in "mandatory incarceration" because he is a corrections officer.

In Laredo, Texas, a former drug task force deputy commander pleaded guilty last Friday to extortion charges for accepting tens of thousands of dollars from drug dealers to protect their operations. According to the Associated Press, Julio Alfonso Lopez, 45, accepted at least $44,500 from his middleman with the traffickers, Meliton Valadez, who has already been convicted for his role in the scheme. The pair were also accused of providing sensitive police information to traffickers and providing storage spots for cocaine shipments. Lopez pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge.

In St. Louis, a former St. Louis police officer has been sentenced to nine years in prison for his role in a drug conspiracy, the Associated Press reported. Former officer Antoine Gordon was convicted in an April trial of checking police databases to see if people buying heroin from the drug ring leader were working as snitches for police. Gordon was one of 19 people who have pleaded guilty to drug or weapons charges in the case.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A former Massachusetts State Police sergeant goes to prison, a former Milwaukee detective cops a plea, a Virginia sheriff's deputy gets busted, and so do a pair of would-be drug-dealing prison guards. Just another week in the drug war. Let's get to it:

In Norfolk, Massachusetts, a former Massachusetts State Police sergeant was sentenced to 15 years in prison July 12 after pleading guilty to one count of trafficking more than 200 grams of cocaine and one count of larceny of more than $250. Sergeant Timothy White, who had worked at the Framingham State Police barracks Narcotics Inspection Unit, had been stealing cocaine from the unit to sell and use. White went down in flames in 2002, when he assaulted his now former wife in the middle of cocaine binge, and his troubles only deepened when police raiding his home in 2003 found a pound of missing cocaine there. He has already been sentenced to 2 ½ years for the assault.

In Greensville County, Virginia, a Greensville County Sheriff's deputy was indicted July 12 on federal drug dealing charges. Deputy Timothy Williams, 35, is charged with conspiring to distribute crack cocaine, powder cocaine and marijuana. According to the indictment, Williams used his position to seize drugs from dealers and then handed them over to his co-conspirators to be resold on the street. He is also accused of extorting money from drug dealers by threatening to arrest them if they didn't pay up.

In Milwaukee, a former Milwaukee Police detective agreed to plead guilty July 12 to federal cocaine distribution charges, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported. Former Detective Larry White, 35, was charged with ferrying drugs from Illinois to Wisconsin for his brother-in-law on several occasions. According to an FBI affidavit in the case, White made $1,000 a trip. He now faces a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence.

In Kershaw, South Carolina, a Lancaster County prison guard was charged with taking what he thought was Ecstasy from undercover agents to sneak into the prison, the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division announced in a July 12 press release. Joseph Sanders, 29, was arrested the night before and charged with misconduct in office, conspiracy to possess and distribute controlled substances and attempting to furnish contraband to a prisoner. According to the arrest warrant, Sanders took the fake drug from the SLED narc with the intention of smuggling it into the prison.

In Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, a Franklin County Prison guard was arrested July 7 in a state police sting aimed at preventing the illegal delivery of Oxycontin to inmates, according to the Cumberland Sentinel. The unnamed guard faces charges of attempting to obtain the medication for sale at the prison, but those charges had yet to be filed.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Some New Jersey cops got too friendly with drug dealers, while a Pennsylvania park ranger and a New Mexico jail guard got caught trying to be drug dealers. Let's get to it:

In Newark, New Jersey, six police officers were indicted Tuesday on charges they warned a drug ring about police raids in exchange for drugs. The six were arrested over the last 18 months, but officials only took the case public upon their indictment. Passaic County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jay McCann said what began as "a social relationship" between the officers and their drug-dealing contemporaries escalated into law breaking and corruption. Those arrested were Pompton Lakes officers Dennis DePrima, 30, Robert J. Palianto, 29, and Michael Megna, 34; West Milford Officer Paul Kleiber, 26; West Paterson Officer Richard Beagin, 26; and Passaic County Sheriff's Officer Gerry Ward, 46. Each was suspended and faces charges including conspiracy to commit official misconduct; conspiracy to possess narcotics; official misconduct; witness tampering and hindering apprehension. The conspiracy unraveled after authorities figured out a suspect in a 2004 drug raid had been tipped off and investigated. The drugs involved included the prescription sleeping pill Ambien, cocaine, Oxycontin, and anabolic steroids.

In Altoona, Pennsylvania, a part-time state park ranger was arrested Saturday on meth dealing and related charges. William Ickes, 61, a ranger at Blue Knob State Park was charged with three counts each of possession and delivery of drugs, as well as additional drug and weapons charges. State officials allege that Ickes sometimes sold drugs in the park while in uniform. During an April raid on Ickes' residence, police seized a pipe bomb and various guns, plus methamphetamine, marijuana, hallucinogenic mushrooms and drug paraphernalia. Ickes is jailed on a $150,000 bond.

In Albuquerque, a Metropolitan Detention Center guard was arrested Monday night on charges he conspired to smuggle heroin into the jail. Guard Marcus Urias, 19, went down after accepting a pack of tobacco, a gram of heroin, and his $150 fee from a man who turned out to be an undercover agent for the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department. Urias faces charges of drug trafficking, conspiracy to traffic drugs, and conspiracy to bring contraband into a prison. Urias was jailed and fired.

Bribery at Border Worries Officials (US-Mexico)

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Washington Post
URL: 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/14/AR2006071401525.html

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A federal prison contraband-for-sex scandal exploded into lethal violence Wednesday. And then there's the run of the mill: A one-time Wisconsin deputy goes down in a major marijuana bust, a former Mississippi deputy goes down for meth, a San Francisco prosecutor goes to prison for taking Ecstasy bribes, and a former Alabama deputy gets ready to go to prison for providing a gun and some crack rocks to an ex-con. Let's get to it:

In Tallahassee, Florida, a federal prison guard and a Department of Justice officer are dead, a second officer was wounded, and five more prison guards were arrested Wednesday when federal agents showed up to arrest the six guards on charges they smuggled contraband -- alcohol, marijuana, cash, and messages -- into the prison in exchange for sexual favors from inmates at the 1,400-woman facility. Federal Bureau of Prisons guard Ralph Hill opened fire when the feds arrived inside the prison, killing Justice Department Office of the Inspector General agent William Sentner and wounding an unnamed, uninvolved prison guard before being killed by other federal agents. Guards Alfred Barnes, Gregory Dixon, Ralph Hill, Vincent Johnson, Alan Moore and E. Lavon Spence face charges of engaging in a conspiracy to commit acts of bribery, witness tampering, and mail fraud; and interstate transportation in aid of racketeering. They could face up to 20 years in prison.

In Dunn, Wisconsin, a former Dane County sheriff's deputy was arrested June 14 on federal marijuana distribution conspiracy charges. Robert Lowery, 57, is accused in federal affidavits of employing a young Genesee, Wisconsin, couple to bring hundreds of pounds of pot to Wisconsin from Arizona. During a raid on his home by state Department of Criminal Investigation and Dane County deputies, the cops seized 15 pounds of pot, 25 ounces of cocaine, five guns, and $47,000 cash. They also seized 52 dogs, including 50 pit bulls, and arrested Lowery's wife on weapons and cocaine possession charges. Lowery was fired as Dane County deputy in 1981 after being accused of seeking information to provide to drug dealing associates, and charging documents allege he has been in the business ever since. The young couple has also been charged.

In Hancock County, Mississippi, a former constable and Hancock County deputy sheriff was arrested June 14 on methamphetamine possession and sales charges. Danny Hamby, 38, was one of three men arrested in a drug raid that netted a half-ounce of speed following an eight-month investigation by the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Coastal Narcotics Enforcement Team, the DEA, and the Hancock County Sheriff's Department. Hamby was elected constable in 1999, but resigned two years later as part of a plea agreement in a domestic violence case. He then went to work briefly as a Hancock County deputy. He is being held without bond in a neighboring county jail.

In San Francisco, a former city assistant district attorney is going to prison for six months after pleading guilty to accepting drugs in exchange for leniency for two defendants he was prosecuting. Robert Roland, 35 was sentenced June 14 after a pleading guilty in February to three counts of Ecstasy possession and one count of using a telephone in a felony drug transaction. In one case, Roland dropped a felony drug count to a misdemeanor for a high school buddy, who repaid him with Ecstasy the next day. In a second case, another acquaintance supplied him with Ecstasy after he discussed diverting that case into treatment. Both of those cases occurred in 2002. Roland reports to prison August 1.

In Montgomery, Alabama, a former Houston County deputy pleaded guilty Monday to selling a gun to a convicted felon and supplying him with cocaine to sell. Michael Shawn Campbell, 27, who was working for the Houston County narcotics unit at the time, admitted selling the gun to Joshua Whigan, who he knew to be a felon, and to supplying him with crack. Whigan ratted him out. Both men await sentencing, and Campbell faces up to 40 years on the drug charge and another 10 for the gun charge.

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