Corruption

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Opium Cultivation Rose 60% in Afghanistan This Year, All-Time Record, UN Says

Location: 
Afghanistan
Publication/Source: 
Associated Press
URL: 
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/09/02/asia/AS_GEN_Afghan_Drugs.php

State of Siege: Drug-Related Violence and Corruption in Mexico

Location: 
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
Washington Office on Latin America
URL: 
http://www.wola.org/publications/mexico_state_of_siege_06.06.pdf

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.

US Officials Grapple With Worsening Narcotics Trade in Afghanistan

Location: 
Afghanistan
Publication/Source: 
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
URL: 
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/politics/15400252.htm

Afghan President Says Opium Production Threatens Nation

Location: 
Afghanistan
Publication/Source: 
Associated Press
URL: 
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/world/20060822-1000-afghan-drugs.html

Serbia in the Middle of Balkan Drug Route

Location: 
Belgrade
Publication/Source: 
Radio B92
URL: 
http://www.b92.net/eng/news/comments.php?nav_id=36341

Kabul Conference Tackles Rising Opium Farming

Location: 
Kabul
Afghanistan
Publication/Source: 
Radio Free Europe
URL: 
http://www.isn.ethz.ch/news/sw/details.cfm?ID=16560

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.

Southwest Asia: Afghan Opium Cultivation Jumps to Record Level

Unnamed "Western officials" in Afghanistan are saying that the country's opium crop has increased by a whopping 40% over last year despite hundreds of millions of dollars in counter-narcotics funding and thousands of NATO and American troops in the zones of cultivation, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. Given what they were telling the AP, it is understandable why no one wanted to be named.

http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/files/opium-smaller.jpg
Afghan opium
According to one "Western anti-narcotics official" citing preliminary crop projections, Afghanistan will top the previous record of 324,000 acres under cultivation in 2004 with more than 370,000 acres planted this year. That is up from 257,000 acres planted last year, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's annual report on Afghan opium production. This year's UN report is expected in September.

Afghanistan already accounts for almost 90% of total global opium production. Profits from the crop and the trade are widely viewed as helping fund Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgents, who, along with drug lords threatened by eradication, are fighting Afghan, US, and NATO forces in an increasingly bloody campaign centered in the opium-growing southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar. Eradication efforts are also emerging as a double-edged sword: Wiping out the crop advances the aims of the drug war, but pushes peasants into the willing arms of the rebels. According to the UN, opium accounted for 52% of Afghanistan's gross domestic product last year.

"We know that if we start eradicating the whole surface of poppy cultivation in Helmand, we will increase the activity of the insurgency and increase the number of insurgents," said Tom Koenigs, the top UN official in Afghanistan, and about the only person willing to go on the record. He said the international community needs to provide alternative livelihoods for farmers, but warned against expecting quick results. "The problem has increased, and the remedy has to adjust," he said.

"It is a significant increase from last year... unfortunately, it is a record year," "a senior US government official based in Kabul" told the AP. "Now what they have is a narco-economy. If they do not get corruption sorted they can slip into being a narco-state," he warned. "We expected a large number (crop) this year but Helmand unfortunately exceeded even our predictions."

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".

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