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New Intervention: Novel Police Tactic Puts Drug Markets Out of Business

Location: 
High Point, NC
United States
Publication/Source: 
Wall Street Journal
URL: 
http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v06/n1284/a01.html

Barnett Rubin Lectures the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Afghan Opium

On Thursday, I crossed back into the US from British Columbia and spent the day listening to all the back and forth over Chavez's "devil" comments as I drove across Washington, Idaho, and Montana. About 4am, I checked into a motel in Broadus, Montana—which is about 150 miles from nowhere in any direction—flipped on the tube, and lo and behold, there was Afghanistan scholar Barnett Rubin giving the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a tutorial on the complications of US Afghan policy. What really caught my attention was Rubin's closing remarks. Unfortunately, the C-Span video link to Rubin's remarks isn't working as I type these words (but perhaps is by the time you are reading them; give it a try), but the good professor basically lectured the committee on the foolishness of attempting to wipe out the opium crop. Addressing the senators as if they were a group of callow undergrads at a seminar, Rubin explained that the only way to deal with the opium problem was to regulate and control it. That caused Sen. Frank Lugar (R-IN) to stir himself from his lizard-like torpor long enough to mutter something to the effect that "this is a big issue for another day." Here is what Rubin had to say in his prepared remarks:
"The international drug control regime, which criminalizes narcotics, does not reduce drug use, but it does produce huge profits for criminals and the armed groups and corrupt officials who protect them. Our drug policy grants huge subsidies to our enemies. As long as we maintain our ideological commitment to a policy that funds our enemies, however, the second-best option in Afghanistan is to treat narcotics as a security and development issue. The total export value of opiates produced in Afghanistan has ranged in recent years from 30 to 50 percent of the legal economy. Such an industry cannot be abolished by law enforcement. The immediate priorities are massive rural development in both poppy-growing and non-poppy-growing areas, including roads and cold storage to make other products marketable; programs for employment creation through rural industries; and thoroughgoing reform of the ministry of the interior and other government agencies to root out the major figures involved with narcotics, regardless of political or family connections. "News of this year’s record crop is likely to increase pressure from the US Congress for eradication, including aerial spraying. Such a program would be disastrously self-defeating. If we want to succeed in Afghanistan, we have to help the rural poor (which is almost everyone) and isolate the leading traffickers and the corrupt officials who support them."
What he actually said at the end of his testimony was even stronger. Check it out if that damned C-Span link ever actually works.
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

British Soldiers Accused of Gun Smuggling for Drugs (Zaman Daily Newspaper, Turkey)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.zaman.com/?bl=hotnews&alt=&trh=20060924&hn=36746

NY Police Handcuff Children and Shoot a Dog all for a $60 Bag of Pot

With Radley Balko busy uncovering conspiracies in Mississippi I guess I’ll address this week’s paramilitary policing disaster:

From the Times-Union in Albany, NY:

A police strike team raided a woman's Prospect Street apartment and handcuffed her children and killed her dog early Tuesday in a $60 pot bust.

The woman called it excessive force and a case of mistaken identity, but officers said they stormed the home for a good reason: One of her sons was selling marijuana there.


Woodyear said she is appalled about the way her children were treated -- and said her 12-year-old daughter was hit with pepper spray.

The dog, a pit bull terrier named Precious, urinated on the floor in fear and tried to run from the police before it was killed, Woodyear said.

Police said the animal was aggressive and left them no choice but to shoot.

Elijah Bradley said he awoke to find armed men in his home. "They had the shotgun in my face," the 11-year-old said. "I punched at him. I didn't know who he was."

Apparently they're trying to send us a message:

"The moral of the story is: If you don't want officers barging into your house with their guns drawn, don't let drug dealers stay with you and deal drugs out of your apartment," [Police Lt.] Frisoni said.

If only it were that simple. Alas, innocence is no protection against police violence.

Ultimately, if you don’t want officers barging into your house with their guns drawn, you can begin by contacting your legislators, supporting reform, and taking a stand against the vicious war that encourages our public servants to shoot dogs and pepper-spray innocent children.

Location: 
United States

Children Handcuffed in Police Drug Raid; Dog Also Killed During Bust, 18-Year-Old Charged With Misdemeanors, Violation

Location: 
Schenectady, NY
United States
Publication/Source: 
Albany Times-Union
URL: 
http://timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=518529&category=SCHENECTADY&BCCode=HOME&newsdate=9/20/2006

Spying on Rock Festivals: High-Tech Hidden Surveillance at Wakarusa

UPDATE: Drug War Chronicle story about this incident online now. We wrote about police harassment of attendees at the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival when the event occurred in June, but little did we know that was only the tip of the iceberg. Now, thanks to the bragadoccio of a high-tech surveillance equipment manufacturer and a resultant puff piece in an industry rag, we know that state, local, and federal law enforcement officials were all on hand at Wakarusa to check out a demo of some very sophisticated surveillance equipment. With hidden cameras, night vision equipment, and thermal imaging, cops were able to surveil up to 85% of the festival grounds, spot drugs and money changing hands, watch people roll joints, and subsequently make arrests. The cops and the high-tech spying firm are pretty happy, but festival goers and organizers are not. Blogger Bob Merkin has been all over this at Vleeptron (just scroll down until you find it--look for the flying monkey poster), and I'll have a news brief about it tomorrow complete with some interesting links. In the mean time, perhaps it's best to believe that Big Brother is watching.
Location: 
United States

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Thank goodness the prison guards are keeping up their end of the bargain, because the police have been pretty well behaved this week. The one bad cops story we have this week actually appeared last week and was based on events that occurred last month. Let's get to it:

In Baltimore, the Baltimore Police Department has for the second time this year disbanded one of its "Special Enforcement Teams" and launched an internal investigation into its activities, jeopardizing dozens of pending criminal cases, the Baltimore Sun reported last week. The department disbanded the squad last month, but didn't announce it until last week. According to department spokesman Matt Jablow, the investigation involves "allegations of misconduct." "Sources close to the investigation" told the Sun the officers are accused of lying in charging documents, mostly involving drug arrests. Baltimore's "Special Enforcement Teams" are supposed to be "deployed in a rapid manner to respond to emerging violent crime problems throughout Baltimore," according to the department's 2005 annual report, but of the more than 7,000 arrests made by the Southeast-side SET, most were drug and nuisance cases. At the end of last December and into January, a Baltimore police "flex squad" on the Southwest side was disbanded after allegations that a woman was raped by officers. Those officers were also accused of stealing and planting evidence. They face trial in December. No officers have yet been arrested in the latest emerging scandal.

In Malone, New York, a veteran prison guard has been arrested for allegedly selling heroin to inmates at the Bare Hill Correctional Facility, the North Country Gazette reported Monday. Michael Bradish, 43, a 16-year officer, went down after a months-long investigation by the state Department of Corrections Inspector General's Office. He is charged with possession of a controlled substance, receiving a bribe, attempted possession of prison contraband, receiving a reward for official misconduct, and conspiracy. He is in the Franklin County Jail until and unless he comes up with $100,000 bail.

In Douglas, Arizona, an Arizona Department of Corrections officer was arrested last Friday on cocaine possession and sales charges. Prison guard Renee Dias, 29, was arrested at the Douglas Prison complex, the Douglas Dispatch reported. Officers serving a search warrant at Dias' home found a half-pound of cocaine valued at more than $5,000, according to the Douglas Police. Dias is charged with possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics for sale, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is currently residing at the Cochise County Jail in nearby Bisbee.

Law Enforcement: Cops Used Hidden High-Tech Surveillance on Kansas Rock Festival-Goers

Drug War Chronicle reported in June on the "traffic enforcement and sobriety checkpoints" set up to snare attendees at the Wakarusa Music Festival outside Lawrence, Kansas. Little did we or anybody know that was the least of what law enforcement was up to. Now it turns out that state and local law enforcement officials teamed up with a California-based high-tech security and surveillance company to put the festival and its 50,000 attendees under constant, high-resolution video surveillance.

In what was in essence a state-sponsored marketing ploy by NS Microwave, Inc., the manufacturer of the technology, members of the FBI, the DEA, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Lawrence Police Department and the Douglas County Sheriff's Office all showed up at the festival to watch the $250,000 system zoom in on drug purchases, people rolling joints, and similarly intimate activities. (NS Microwave, a subsidiary of the defense contractor Allied Defense Group, bragged about this coup in an aggressively unhip press release that undoubtedly spilled the beans.)

The set-up included hidden wireless cameras, night vision equipment, and a 21-foot command trailer set up in the middle of the festival and disguised as a radio station trailer. According to a laudatory article in the trade publication Government Security News, "When law enforcement officials viewed the surveillance monitors in the command trailer, they were surprised to discover that the NS Microwave system was showing details never expected. On viewing screens, the equipment displayed a dramatic array of illegal activities, including extensive drug dealing, use of vehicles to store dealers' narcotics and dealer-to-mule transactions."

"It was a big surprise," Lt. Doug Woods, patrol commander for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, told the News. "We got very good results."

According to police and press reports, some 140 drug-related arrests were made. But it is unclear how many came as a result of the hidden surveillance. According to Woods, 15 officers patrolled during the day shift and 20 at night, with 50 on hand for the festival's Saturday night climax.

Kansas law enforcement never told anyone about the secret high-tech surveillance, and the spying would have gone unnoticed without the publication of the NS press release and the Government Surveillance News puff piece, but after that came out, the Lawrence Journal-World broke the story locally, and adverse reaction began rolling in. The Journal-World quoted festival-goers as saying the hidden cameras were "a shame and kind of embarrassing." Attendee Ali Mangan told the local paper, "I feel like it was really a big mistake because people at a festival are trying to have a good time and let loose. I would be willing to bet that most people wouldn't be okay with that had they known."

By this week, the University of Kansas newspaper the Daily Kansan was denouncing the spying on its editorial page. In an editorial bluntly titled "Secret Cameras Violated Privacy," the newspaper lambasted local and state law enforcement: "Economic gain trumped privacy at the festival. If law enforcement had posted signs stating the presence of video surveillance, drug dealing might have decreased from the outset," the paper noted. "Instead, the suspected drug money seized and the fines collected will be added to the coffers of the city, which still hasn't said what it will do with the money.

"What's most disturbing," the editorial continued, "is that law enforcement probably never would have revealed its secretive moneymaking scheme had the GSN article not surfaced. Has local law enforcement secretly installed cameras in other public places? Maybe we won't know until another article is published in an obscure trade journal."

On Tuesday, Wakarusa festival organizer Brent Mosiman weighed in on the Wakarusa web site with an apology to attendees and critique of law enforcement. "We cannot tell you how truly sorry we are that these [spying] issues occurred at Wakarusa this year and we sincerely apologize to everyone for any violations of your rights and privacy. To give you some background, we were informed that there would be an increased law enforcement presence at this year's event. Initially, we were supportive of this when it was presented as an effort to increase the safety of everyone in attendance. It became apparent however that enforcement, not safety and security, was the true mission of the increased law enforcement. We must make it perfectly clear that we did not know of any of the specific measures, tactics or instruments the various law enforcement agencies used at the event. More importantly, Wakarusa does not believe such tactics and equipment were necessary and does not support their use. If there are not significant assurances that similar procedures won't materialize in the future, we will not host another Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival," Mosiman wrote.

Bolivia Drug Fight Faulted: The White House Cited Concerns About Contributions to the Illegal Drug Trade By Bolivia

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States
Publication/Source: 
Associated Press
URL: 
http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/15552243.htm

A Look Inside Brazil's Drug "Commands"

Brazil, Latin America's largest and most populous nation gets surprisingly little press in the US. The mass media paid some attention back in May, when the country's "commands"--the criminal gangs formed in Brazil's prisons that control the drug trade and act as a de facto government in some of the favelas (ghettos) surrounding Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro--rose up in open rebellion against the Brazilian state. But since then, the silence in the US press has been deafening. Fortunately, not everyone in the English-speaking press is asleep at the wheel, and I want to use this opportunity to recommend an article from Britain's Observer magazine. Called Blood Simple, the piece by Tom Phillips is an interesting capsule history of the commands and a frightening look at the war between the state and the gangs. Here are the opening paragraphs, just to whet your appetite: "Blood simple Four months ago, the hostility between Sao Paulo's police and gangs erupted into violence - the result was open warfare. Tom Phillips reports from a city caught in a spiral of terror Sunday September 17, 2006 The Observer The taxi driver squints uncomfortably. 'It's like fire there,' he warns ominously, as I pass him the address on the eastern limits of Sao Paulo. We cut through block after block of grimy, graffiti-clad housing. Ahead, ragged shantytowns cling to the hilltops; behind us a trail of abandonment stretches back towards the city centre, in the form of empty warehouses and cracked windows. As we begin the descent towards our final destination, the driver looks nervously into his rear-view mirror. A police car's flashing siren ushers us to a standstill. Under the gaze of their Taurus revolvers we are hauled out of the vehicle, told to place our hands on the car roof and given an invasive frisk down. When we are finally sent on our way, after a 10-minute interrogation, the driver is apologetic. 'I had to pull over,' he mumbles. 'If you don't, they open fire.' Welcome to the periferia of Sao Paulo; the impoverished outskirts of one of the world's largest cities, where hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to the megalopolis in search of gold-paved streets have been abandoned to their own dismal fate." There is much, much more about what is going on in one of the worl'd largest cities. Check it out.
Location: 
Sao Paulo, SP
Brazil

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