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Drug War Chronicle Book Review: "Drug War Zone: Frontline Dispatches from the Streets of El Paso and Juarez," by Howard Campbell (2009, University of Texas Press, 310 pp., $24.95 PB)

Phillip S. Smith, Writer Editor

Howard Campbell's "Drug War Zone" couldn't be more timely. Ciudad Juárez, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, is awash in blood as the competing Juárez and Sinaloa cartels wage a deadly war over who will control the city's lucrative drug trafficking franchise. More than 2,000 people have been killed in Juárez this year in the drug wars, making the early days of Juárez Cartel dominance, when the annual narco-death toll was around 200 a year, seem downright bucolic by comparison.

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The violence in Mexico, of which Juárez is the current epicenter, has been setting off alarm bells in Washington, and the US has responded with thousands more law enforcement agents on the border and more than a billion dollars in aid to the Mexican government. In other words, what we've been doing hasn't worked, so let's do even more of it, even more intensely.

We've all seen the horrific headlines; we've all seen the grim and garish displays of exemplary violence; we've read the statistics about the immense size of the illegal drug business in Mexico and the insatiable appetites of drug consumers in El Norte ("the north," e.g. the US). What we haven't had -- up until now -- is a portrayal of the El Paso-Juárez drug trade and drug culture that gets beneath the headlines, the politicians' platitudes, and law enforcement's self-justifying pronouncements. With "Drug War Zone," Campbell provides just that.

He's the right guy in the right place at the right time. A professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of Texas-El Paso who has two decades in the area, Campbell is able to do his fieldwork when he walks out his front door and has been able to develop relationships with all sorts of people involved in the drug trade and its repression, from low-level street dealers in Juárez to middle class dabblers in dealing in El Paso, from El Paso barrio boys to Mexican smugglers, from journalists to Juárez cops, from relatives of cartel victims to highly-placed US drug fight bureaucrats.

Using an extended interview format, Campbell lets his informants paint a detailed picture of the social realities of the El Paso-Juárez "drug war zone." The overall portrait that emerges is of a desert metropolis (about a half million people on the US side, a million and a half across the river), distant both geographically and culturally from either Washington or Mexico City, with a long tradition of smuggling and a dense binational social network where families and relationships span two nations. This intricately imbricated web of social relations and historical factors -- the rise of a US drug culture, NAFTA and globalization -- have given rise to a border narco-culture deeply embedded in the social fabric of both cities.

(One thing that strikes me as I ponder Campbell's work, with its description of binational barrio gangs working for the Juárez Cartel, and narcos working both sides of the border, is how surprising it is that the violence plaguing Mexico has not crossed the border in any measurable degree. It's almost as if the warring factions have an unwritten agreement that the killings stay south of the Rio Grande. I'd wager they don't want to incite even more attention from the gringos.)

Campbell compares the so-called cartels to terrorists like Al Qaeda. With their terroristic violence, their use of both high tech (YouTube postings) and low tech (bodies hanging from bridges, warning banners adorning buildings) communications strategies, their existence as non-state actors acting both in conflict and complicity with various state elements, the comparison holds some water. Ultimately, going to battle against the tens of thousands of people employed by the cartels in the name of an abstraction called "the war on drugs" is likely to be as fruitless and self-defeating as going to battle against Pashtun tribesmen in the name of an abstraction called "the war on terror."

But that doesn't mean US drug war efforts are going to stop, or that the true believers in law enforcement are going to stop believing -- at least most of them. One of the virtues of "Drug War Zone" is that it studies not only the border narco-culture, but also the border policing culture. Again, Campbell lets his informants speak for him, and those interviews are fascinating and informative.

Having seen its result close-up and firsthand, Campbell has been a critic of drug prohibition. He still is, although he doesn't devote a lot of space to it in the book. Perhaps, like (and through) his informants, he lets prohibition speak for itself. The last interview in the book may echo Campbell's sentiments. It's with former Customs and Border Patrol agent Terry Nelson. In the view of his former colleagues, Nelson has gone over to the dark side. He's a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

If you're interested in the border or drug culture or the drug economy or drug prohibition, you need to read "Drug War Zone." This is a major contribution to the literature.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

More crooked jail guards, and a trooper who must have had a whopper of a habit. Let's get to it:

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/prisonguard.jpg
If we can't keep drugs out of the prisons, how can we keep them out of the country?
In Newark, New Jersey, a New Jersey state trooper was indicted Tuesday on heroin possession charges. Trooper Jason Hanrahan had been arrested January 15 after he was observed buying heroin from a Newark man, who has also been indicted. Hanrahan was allegedly in possession of "less than a half ounce" of heroin when he was detained. Although Hanrahan was not charged with a drug trafficking or intent or conspiracy charge, a half ounce of heroin is much, much more than the typical personal dose. Since New Jersey law separates heroin possession offenses by weight, and less than half an ounce is the offense for which small-time possessors are charged, Hanrahan could have been popped with only a personal dose or two. Or he could have been popped with nearly a half ounce. If the former, Hanrahan doesn't belong in the corrupt cop crowd -- he's just another user who got caught. Either way he is looking at up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, a former Wake County Jail guard was arrested last weekend for selling drugs and providing a weapon to an inmate. Former guard Timothy Bullock, 26, faces six counts each of selling or delivering marijuana, conspiring to sell or deliver marijuana, and possession of marijuana with intent to sell or distribute. He will also face eight counts of providing drugs to an inmate. The offenses allegedly took place in April and May. Bullock quit his job in May. The inmate has also been arrested. Bullock was jailed on a $100,000 secured bond.

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, a Silverdale Detention Center guard was arrested Monday on charges of possessing drugs in a jail and inappropriate contact with inmates. Guard Sifrona Cotton, 31, was arrested by Hamilton County sheriff's deputies. Silverdale is a privately owned prison operated by Corrections Corporation of America.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Pretty quiet on the corrupt cops front this week. There's the daily litany of cops get busted for assaults, sex crimes, drunk driving, and the like, but we could only find one cop in trouble for drug-related corruption. Not to worry -- we're quite sure this is an anomaly. Let's get to it:

In Boston, a retired state trooper was sentenced Tuesday to 25 months in prison and two years supervised release for tipping off dealers to an ongoing investigation and threatening people who owed drug debts. Former Trooper Joseph Catanese earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit extortion and obstruction of justice. He was originally arrested and charged with conspiracy to distribute Oxycontin along with another state trooper, Mark Lemieu. Lemieu is already doing a 70-month prison sentence.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A sheriff shaking down motorists under the guise of asset forfeiture gets a slap on the wrist, and so does a narc who stole the cash from a drug raid. A drug investigation nets two New Jersey cops -- among others -- and another Florida deputy goes down for extorting a pot grower. And sometimes, a cop may not be as corrupt as she first seems. Let's get to it:

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cash in the evidence room -- who's counting?
In Rochester, Minnesota, two of five charges against a Rochester police officer charged with drug corruption were dismissed on October 8. Officer Vanessa Mason was accused in April of tipping off drug dealers and taking money to deliver drugs, and was put on administrative leave then. The two charges were dismissed after a jailed Rochester man said he lied when he told investigators he helped Mason transport drugs last year -- he said he felt pressured by investigators. She still faces one felony count of warning a subject of a surveillance operation and two misdemeanor counts of misconduct by a police officer.

In Jersey City, New Jersey, a Hoboken police officer and a Jersey City police officer were among 17 arrested over the past month in a year-and-a-half long joint operation by the DEA and Jersey City police against a local cocaine trafficking organization. Jersey City Police Officer Mark Medal, 52, who was already suspended for problems with a drug test, was charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine, as was a ranking Hoboken Fire Department official, Battalion Chief Henry Setkiewicz, 59. Both were described as regular customers of the network, although it is not clear if it was for personal use or to resell. Hoboken Police Officer Ralph Gallo, 25, was charged with computer theft -- criminal computer activity -- and official misconduct for allegedly checking a license plate against a law enforcement database for one of the network members. A Hoboken Parking Utility employee, Monica Thorpe, 42, faces similar charges for doing the same thing.

In Miami, another Broward County sheriff's deputy was arrested last Friday in a drug extortion scheme against a marijuana grower that saw Deputy Manuel Silva arrested Oct 2. This week, it was Deputy Fausto "TJ" Tejero's turn. He is accused of acting as Silva's accomplice in offering to ignore the grow in return for cash payments. Tejero was at the scene with Silva when Silva searched the grower's home, found the pot, and offered silence for cash. He is charged with extortion, attempted bribery, burglary and unlawful compensation and is being held without bail.

In St. Louis, a former St. Louis police detective was sentenced last Friday to one year and one day in prison for stealing money seized during a June 2008 drug raid along with two other officers. Vincent Carr, 47, also has to pay back $28,000. He pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy, wire fraud, making false statements, and obstruction of justice. The two other police detectives involved in the theft have also pleaded guilty. Leo Listen was sentenced in September; Bobby Lee Garrett will be sentenced next month.

In Muskogee, Oklahoma, the former McIntosh County sheriff and undersheriff were sentenced September 23 to 27 months in federal prison for stealing money from motorists under the guise of asset forfeiture and keeping it for themselves. Former Sheriff Terry Jones, 36, and Undersheriff Mykol Brookshire, 38, pleaded guilty to "conspiracy under color of law to interfere with interstate commerce" for repeatedly seizing money from drivers under threat of arrest and then keeping either all or part of it for themselves. They went down in May of this year when the driver they pulled over and shook down turned out to be a federal agent in a sting directed at them. They found six bundles of cash, but when they called in the "bust," they only reported five.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories--October 13

A sheriff shaking down motorists under the guise of asset forfeiture gets a slap on the wrist, and so does a narc who stole the cash from a drug raid. A drug investigation nets two Jersey cops--among others--and another Florida deputy goes down for extorting a pot grower. And sometimes, a cop may not be as corrupt as she first seems. Let's get to it: In Rochester, Minnesota, two of five charges against a Rochester police officer charged with drug corruption were dismissed on October 8. Officer Vanessa Mason was accused in April of tipping off drug dealers and taking money to deliver drugs, and was put on administrative leave then. The two charges were dismissed after a jailed Rochester man said he lied when he told investigators he helped Mason transport drugs last year—he said he felt pressured by investigators. She still faces one felony count of warning a subject of a surveillance operation and two misdemeanor counts of misconduct by a police officer. In Jersey City, New Jersey, a Hoboken police officer and a Jersey City police officer were among 17 arrested over the past month in a year-and-a-half long joint operation by the DEA and Jersey City police against a local cocaine trafficking organization. Jersey City Police Officer Mark Medal, 52, who was already suspended for problems with a drug test, was charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine, as was a ranking Hoboken Fire Department official, Battalion Chief Henry Setkiewicz, 59. Both were described as regular customers of the network, although it is not clear if it was for personal use or to resell. Hoboken Police Officer Ralph Gallo, 25, was charged with computer theft—criminal computer activity—and official misconduct for allegedly checking a license plate against a law enforcement database for one of the network members. A Hoboken Parking Utility employee, Monica Thorpe, 42, faces similar charges for doing the same thing. In Miami, another Broward County sheriff's deputy was arrested last Friday in a drug extortion scheme against a marijuana grower that saw Deputy Manuel Silva arrested Oct 2. This week, it was Deputy Fausto "TJ" Tejero's turn. He is accused of acting as Silva's accomplice in offering to ignore the grow in return for cash payments. Tejero was at the scene with Silva when Silva searched the grower's home, found the pot, and offered silence for cash. He is charged with extortion, attempted bribery, burglary and unlawful compensation and is being held without bail. In St. Louis, a former St. Louis police detective was sentenced last Friday to one year and one day in prison for stealing money seized during a June 2008 drug raid along with two other officers. Vincent Carr, 47, also has to pay back $28,000. He pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy, wire fraud, making false statements, and obstruction of justice. The two other police detectives involved in the theft have also pleaded guilty. Leo Listen was sentenced in September; Bobby Lee Garrett will be sentenced next month. In Muskogee, Oklahoma, the former McIntosh County sheriff and undersheriff were sentenced September 23 to 27 months in federal prison for stealing money from motorists under the guise of asset forfeiture and keeping it for themselves. Former Sheriff Terry Jones, 36, and Undersheriff Mykol Brookshire, 38, pleaded guilty to "conspiracy under color of law to interfere with interstate commerce" for repeatedly seizing money from drivers under threat of arrest and then keeping either all or part of it for themselves. They went down in May of this year when the driver they pulled over and shook down turned out to be a federal agent in a sting directed at them. They found six bundles of cash, but when they called in the "bust," they only reported five.

Latin America: Mexico Drug War Update

by Bernd Debusmann, Jr.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year trafficking illegal drugs into the United States, profiting enormously from the prohibitionist drug policies of the US government. Since Mexican president Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and called the armed forces into the fight against the so-called cartels, prohibition-related violence has killed over 12,000 people, with a death toll of over 5,000 so far in 2009. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest of several high-profile drug traffickers have failed to stem the flow of drugs -- or the violence -- whatsoever. The Merida initiative, which provides $1.4 billion over three years for the US to assist the Mexican government with training, equipment and intelligence, has so far failed to make a difference. Here are a few of the latest developments in Mexico's drug war:

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Mexican army anti-drug patrol
Wednesday, September 23

Nine people were killed in a nine hour span in Ciudad Juarez. The dead included a beheaded man, and bullet-riddled bodies of three men and a woman found in a car. Additionally, another gunshot victim was found by the side of a road, and two bodies -- one beheaded -- were found wrapped in a blanket. The ninth victim was found dead inside a car.

Four people were killed after a gun battle in La Crucita, Durango. The four dead, all men, were killed during a firefight between two groups of rival drug traffickers in a hillside community. Three bullet-riddled SUVs were left at the scene.

Thursday, September 24

At least three US citizens were killed when gunmen attacked a motel in Ciudad Juarez, along with a Mexican man, whom police believe was the intended target. The two women who were killed were sisters.

A high-ranking police official was ambushed in Sinaloa. The official, Jesús Adolfo Fierro Bojórquez, had called his wife to pick him up after his car broke down. She arrived to find him dead with a gunshot wound to the chest. Additionally, a police radio operatior was shot and killed in Ecatepec, near Mexico City, and 18 people were killed across Ciudad Juarez in a 24 hour period. Two men were killed in Tijuana, and three in Guerrero.

Friday, September 25

Five suspected Sinaloa cartel assassins were arrested by the Mexican army in Ciudad Juarez. The men are thought to be involved in at least 45 murders, including the two recent attacks on drug rehabilitation centers in which 28 people were lined up against a wall and executed.

Monday, September 28

In the resort town of Puerto Vallarta, two Canadian men were shot and killed in execution-style slayings. Gunmen attacked Gordon Douglas Kendall and Jeffrey Ronald Ivans outside an apartment building, chasing them to the pool area before finally killing them. Canadian law enforcement officials were apparently aware of the two men, and believed they were deeply involved in the British Columbia cocaine trade.

A former Juarez police officer was arrested over the weekend, and is suspected of taking part in at least 18 killings in the city. He was one of several arrests made by Mexican military and police forces in Juarez over the weekend. The ex-officer, Miguel Angel Delgado Carmona, 39, was captured with an accomplice following a vehicle chase after an aborted extortion attempt at a Juarez funeral home. He is also suspected of taking part in locating another 80 homicide victims, and was captured with two AK-47s.

Mexico's foreign minister, Patricia Espinosa, said that the high death toll of the Mexican government's war on drug traffickers is a sign of its success. "This is a very ugly statistic," she said, "but a good percentage of those killed never have their bodies claimed, their families never go and get them... that is a very clear indicator that these people were involved in drug trafficking." She added that some 60,000 drug traffickers have been arrested since president Calderon took office, and 50,000 weapons have been seized.

Tuesday, September 29

In Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexican army elements took over police stations and surrounded a stadium where municipal vehicles are kept. They also interrogated local police officers about an incident that occurred on the 3rd of September, in which it is suspected that local police leaked information to drug traffickers who killed at two police officers and a fireman who were travelling unarmed.

Wednesday, September 30

Army troops seized $7.3 million in cash from a house in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of Tamaulipas state. The raid came after soldiers received a tip from local residents who said they had seen several armed men at the house. Four handguns and four vehicles were also seized in the raid on the home, which is thought to have been a Gulf Cartel safe house.

Three civilians were wounded when soldiers at a military checkpoint shot at the car in which they were travelling. The incident took place in Morelia, Michoacan. The three men in the car were apparently drunk, and security in the area was high because of a visit to the city by President Calderon. This is the latest in a series of shootings at road blocks set up by the military to stem the flow of drugs and arms moving along Mexico's roads.

Body count for the last two weeks: 275
Body count for the year: 5,411

Read the last Mexico Drug War Update here.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

We've got two weeks worth of corrupt cops again: dope-peddling cops, dope-stealing cops, cops who rip off motorists, cops who rip off their departments, cops who take bribes, cops who squeal to dealers. Let's get to it:

In Weston, Missouri, a Weston police officer was arrested September 22 on two drug-related charges. Officer Kyle Zumbrunn, 26, was arrested by officers of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation at the request of the Atchison Police Department. He went down after selling a suspected controlled substance to a KBI undercover officer. Zumbrunn now faces charges of sale of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school and using a telephonic device to facilitate a drug transaction.

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Is something amiss in the evidence room?
In Watertown, Connecticut, a Waterbury police officer was arrested September 24 on a variety of drug charges. Officer Francis Brevetti, 29, was injured in a traffic accident the previous weekend, and when police towed his vehicle, they found drugs inside. He is now charged with possession of cocaine, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, possession of narcotics with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school, possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of marijuana with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school and possession of drug paraphernalia.

In Baltimore, a Baltimore police officer assigned to a federal drug task force was arrested September 24 on charges he stole money and jewelry from houses targeted in drug raids and embezzled funds used to pay snitches. Officer Mark Lunsford, a six-year veteran, had been assigned to the Baltimore DEA, which conducts large-scale drug investigations. Now he's been assigned to a federal detention facility pending a bond hearing.

In Lyndhurst, Ohio, a former Lyndhurst police officer was arrested Thursday for allegedly stealing drugs from the evidence room and replacing them with rock salt. Former officer Robert Colombo, 40, is charged with drug possession, tampering with evidence, and theft in office. Colombo responded to a May traffic accident, found heroin, arrested two people, and took the evidence to log it in to the evidence room. But instead, he replaced the heroin with rock salt. The heroin was found at his home the next day.

In West Columbia, Texas, a former West Columbia police detective pleaded guilty September 21 to five felony charges, including two counts of tampering with physical evidence and theft of a firearm by a public servant. Former officer Joseph McElroy, 33, admitted to stealing a gun and cocaine from the department evidence room, forging signatures on department checks, and falsely signing a collection book receipt saying he had returned money to someone when he hadn't. In exchange for pleading guilty, McElroy gets one year in jail and 10 years on probation.

In Miami, a former Miami-Dade County police officer pleaded guilty September 24 to stealing marijuana and cash from a driver during a traffic stop. Jesus Rodolfo Hernandez will do 30 days in jail for pulling over a confidential informant, arresting him for a traffic offense, and stealing marijuana and $575 in cash he found in the driver's back pocket. He pleaded guilty to grand theft, possession of marijuana and tampering with evidence. He will also spend two years on probation and must pay back the nearly $25,000 it cost to investigate and prosecute the case.

In Philadelphia, a former Philadelphia police officer was convicted September 24 of tipping off a friend about an impending drug raid. Former Officer Rickie Durham, 44, was found guilty of two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of lying to investigators for tipping off a cocaine kingpin hours before a raid four years ago, while he was working as a member of an FBI drug-gang task force. Durham now faces 12 to 15 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on January 6.

In Glendora, California, a former Glendora police officer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges he stole drugs and money on the job. Former officer Timothy Radogna, 33, was charged in May with grand theft, possession of drugs for sale, and possession of drugs with a firearm. Radogna went down in an "integrity investigation" in December 2008, when he stole $1,000 and a small amount of methamphetamine from a car he was asked to book into evidence.

In Springfield, Massachusetts, the former Holland police chief was sentenced September 18 to two years in prison for ripping off the town in various ways, including stealing seized drug money. Former Chief Kevin Gleason pleaded guilty to larceny by scheme of more than $250 and two counts of larceny of more than $250. He admitted to selling town-owned guns and rifles and pocketing the money, receiving $655 in reimbursements for a conference he never attended, and stealing $2,190 in seized drug money from a locker to which he had the only key.

In Indianapolis, a former Indianapolis police officer was sentenced September 23 to 25 years in federal prison for using false search warrants or breaking into homes in order to steal drugs and cash. Former Officer Robert Long, 35, and two other now-convicted former officers were tracked by the FBI as they did their misdeeds. Long was found guilty in June of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute 50 kilograms of marijuana, three counts of possession with intent to distribute a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana and attempt to possess with intent to distribute a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana. One of his comrades in crime took a plea deal and got the minimum 10 years in prison. A third renegade officer awaits sentencing.

In New York City, a former Customs and Border Protection supervisor was sentenced September 24 to 10 years in federal prison for turning a blind eye to drug trafficking through JFK Airport. Walter Golembiowski, 66, a former Supervisory Customs and Border Protection Officer at JFK, pleaded guilty in March to narcotics conspiracy and two counts of bribery conspiracy. He must also pay $10,000 in fines and more than $2.5 million in asset forfeiture.

Latin America: Mexican Drug War Update

by Bernd Debusmann, Jr. Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year trafficking illegal drugs into the United States, profiting enormously from the prohibitionist drug policies of the US government. Since Mexican president Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and called the armed forces into the fight against the so-called cartels, prohibition-related violence has killed over 12,000 people, with a death toll of over 5,000 so far in 2009. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest of several high-profile drug traffickers have failed to stem the flow of drugs -- or the violence -- whatsoever. The Merida initiative, which provides $1.4 billion over three years for the US to assist the Mexican government with training, equipment and intelligence, has so far failed to make a difference. Here are a few of the latest developments in Mexico's drug war: Wednesday, September 23 Nine people were killed in a nine hour span in Ciudad Juarez. The dead included a beheaded man, and bullet-riddled bodies of three men and a woman found in a car. Additionally, another gunshot victim was found by the side of a road, and two bodies-one beheaded-were found wrapped in a blanket. The ninth victim was found dead inside a car. Four people were killed after a gun battle in La Crucita, Durango. The four dead, all men, were killed during a firefight between two groups of rival drug traffickers in a hillside community. Three bullet-riddled SUV's were left at the scene. Thursday, September 24 At least three US citizens were killed when gunmen attacked a motel in Ciudad Juarez, along with a Mexican man, whom police believe was the intended target. The two women who were killed were sisters. A high-ranking police official was ambushed in Sinaloa. The official, Jesús Adolfo Fierro Bojórquez, had called his wife to pick him up after his car broke down. She arrived to find him dead with a gunshot wound to the chest. Additionally, a police radio operatior was shot and killed in Ecatepec, near Mexico City, and 18 people were killed across Ciudad Juarez in a 24 hour period. Two men were killed in Tijuana, and three in Guerrero. Friday, September 25 Five suspected Sinaloa cartel assassins were arrested by the Mexican army in Ciudad Juarez. The men are thought to be involved in at least 45 murders, including the two recent attacks on drug rehabilitation centers in which 28 people were lined up against a wall and executed. Monday, September 28 In the resort town of Puerto Vallarta, two Canadian men were shot and killed in execution-style slayings. Gunmen attacked Gordon Douglas Kendall and Jeffrey Ronald Ivan’s outside an apartment building, chasing them to the pool area before finally killing them. Canadian law enforcement officials were apparently aware of the two men, and believed they were deeply involved in the British Columbia cocaine trade. A former Juarez police officer was arrested over the weekend, and is suspected of taking part in at least 18 killings in the city. He was one of several arrests made by Mexican military and police forces in Juarez over the weekend. The ex-officer, Miguel Angel Delgado Carmona, 39, was captured with an accomplice following a vehicle chase after an aborted extortion attempt at a Juarez funeral home. He is also suspected of taking part in locating another 80 homicide victims, and was captured with two AK-47’s. Tuesday, September 29 In Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexican army elements took over police stations and surrounded a stadium where municipal vehicles are kept. They also interrogated local police officers about an incident that occurred on the 3rd of September, in which it is suspected that local police leaked information to drug traffickers who killed at two police officers and a fireman who were travelling unarmed. Wednesday, September 30 Army troops seized $7.3 million in cash from a house in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of Tamaulipas state. The raid came after soldiers received a tip from local residents who said they had seen several armed men at the house. Four handguns and four vehicles were also seized in the raid on the home, which is thought to have been a Gulf Cartel safe house. Three civilians were wounded when soldiers at a military checkpoint shot at the car in which they were travelling. The incident took place in Morelia, Michoacan. The three men in the car were apparently drunk, and security in the area was high because of a visit to the city by President Calderon. This is the latest in a series of shootings at road blocks set up by the military to stem the flow of drugs and arms moving along Mexico's roads. Body count for the last two weeks: 275 Body count for the year: 5,411

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Cops busted for testilying, a deputy arrested for demanding a bribe from a pot grower, a jail guard arrested for smuggling pot into the prison, and a Michigan town still doesn't know who stole drug buy money from the police department. Let's get to it:

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If we can't keep drugs out of the prisons, how can we keep them out of the country?
In Los Angeles, three LAPD officers were charged Wednesday with lying under oath in a drug possession case that was dismissed last year after a videotape contradicted their testimony. Officers Richard Amio and Even Samuel testified that they chased a man into an apartment building and saw him throw away a black object. They testified that Samuel picked it up and found $260 worth of powder and crack cocaine in it. But videotape from the apartment building showed the officers searching for more than 20 minutes before producing their "evidence." A third officer, Manuel Ortiz, also testified about the case at a preliminary hearing. The judge in the drug possession case dropped the charges against the defendant at prosecutors' request. The three officers all face perjury and conspiracy charges.

In Lebanon, Ohio, a Lebanon Correctional Institution guard was arrested last Friday on charges he was trying to bring drugs into the prison. Guard Dennis O'Rourke, 25, was arrested by state troopers as he met his contact to pick up marijuana. He is charged with attempting to convey drugs onto the grounds of a detention facility, a third-degree felony, and child endangerment, a first-degree misdemeanor, because he had his two-year-old daughter with him during the drug transaction.

In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a Broward County sheriff's deputy was arrested last Friday for accepting money from a marijuana grower not to arrest him. Deputy Manuel Silva, a nine-year department veteran, allegedly showed up at the grow house last week in plain clothes, but carrying a badge and a gun. He was arrested after picking up an unspecified amount of cash. Silva went down after the grower told someone else about the incident, who in turn went to the authorities. He is now charged with burglary, armed extortion, and drug possession -- he happened to be carrying some oxycodone not prescribed to him when he was arrested. No word on what happened to the grower.

In Troy, Michigan, Troy police still can't find $40,000 that went missing from a police safe in January. The money was earmarked for narcotics investigations. The Oakland County Sheriff's Department has not closed its investigation, but admits it is at a standstill. The Troy police say they have changed policies and procedures regarding funds and restricted the amount of cash on hand for special investigations.

This Evening's Corrupt Cops Story

Here's one from Michigan that's making a lot of people look bad:

BENTON HARBOR — Berrien County Prosecutor Arthur Cotter has dismissed 40 drug convictions since members of Benton Harbor’s police narcotics unit pleaded guilty to federal charges that they made up evidence, conducted illegal searches and wrongfully arrested people.

Cotter said that he is continuing to review the many cases that involved the two officers who comprised the city’s entire narcotics unit.

"They didn’t engage in misconduct in every single case they did," Cotter said. "The problem is that everybody who had a case now wants review." [Michigan Messenger]

No, people who want their cases reviewed are not the problem. The problem is that "the two officers who comprised the city’s entire narcotics unit" were lunatics. And it didn’t help that the department brushed citizen complaints under the rug.

It's hardly a unique or unusual story amidst the rich history of gratuitous civil rights abuses in the war on drugs. But it does provide a helpful illustration of the far-reaching consequences of drug war corruption: the police chief is being forced out, the city will have to pay huge sums to victims, the prosecutor's office is now preoccupied with freeing the innocent instead of jailing the guilty, and the public has one more reason not to trust or cooperate with police.

You can't possibly calculate how much damage is caused by just a handful of bad cops, which is exactly why so many departments bend over backwards to prevent this stuff from ever seeing the light of day. For every wretched episode of extreme police misconduct that gets exposed, far more remain buried beneath false reports, perjured testimony and broken accountability mechanisms.

We'll never know the true dimensions of the problem, but we know its origins. Police corruption emerges first and foremost from the enforcement of our filthy drug laws. Does anyone really need to read past the headline to find out which law enforcement activity it was that turned cops into criminals? It's the same story every time.

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, 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, 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