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Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Busy, busy. Border guards going down, prison guards going down, more cops in trouble, and more investigations of a perjury-condoning prosecutor in Detroit. Let's get to it:

In San Diego, a US Customs and Border Protection officer was indicted by a federal grand jury June 3 for allegedly taking $200,000 in bribes to let illegal immigrants and marijuana into the country. Luis Francisco Alarid, 31, is charged with conspiracy to smuggle more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, conspiracy to transport illegal immigrants and bribery. In March, Alarid permitted a car driven by his uncle with 18 illegal immigrants and 170 pounds of marijuana to enter the United States, according to authorities. On May 3, Alarid allowed a caravan of four vehicles carrying illegal immigrants into the country. He faces up to 90 years in prison if convicted.

In McAllen, Texas, a US Border Patrol agent was arrested Monday and accused of smuggling 11 bricks of cocaine into the country. Agent Reynaldo Zuniga, 34, faces charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Zuniga allegedly picked up a Mexican drug courier at the border and drove him to meet another man in Hidalgo. Those two are also under arrest. One of them said Zuniga had helped smuggle drugs or illegal immigrants at least six times.

In Texarkana, Arkansas, a Miller County prison guard was arrested May 30 after trying to smuggle syringes into the jail inside tacos and marijuana hidden inside a container of chili. Guard Jordan Michael Waller, 25, went down after a supervisor became suspicious and searched the food. A search of Waller himself also turned up tobacco, methamphetamine, and more drug paraphernalia. He is charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia, and furnishing prohibited items inside a correctional facility. He goes to court June 17.

In Andalusia, Kentucky, an Andalusia police officer was arrested June 4 on drug distribution charges. Officer Joshua Chad Wood was arrested at a local motel by members of the Covington County Drug Task Force as he tried to illegally sell legally obtained prescription pills to undercover agents. He is charged with drug distribution, complicity for not reporting the presence of marijuana, and violation of state prostitution statutes. He has been suspended without pay pending a termination hearing.

In Farmington, Missouri, a former state prison guard was sentenced last Friday to seven years in prison on drugs and weapons charges. Seth Barton, who had worked at the Bonne Terre state prison, went down after prison employees searched his vehicle on prison property in February 2006. They found bags of marijuana, a loaded handgun, ammunition, a hunting knife, a jar of marijuana seeds, drug paraphernalia and more than $1,500 in cash. He pleaded no contest in April to charges of felony drug possession with intent to distribute and delivery of a weapon at a prison.

In Indianapolis, a former Indianapolis police officer was sentenced June 4 to three years probation for providing information to drug suspects to help them avoid arrest. Former Officer Noble Duke, 39, pleaded guilty in April to unlawfully disclosing the contents of federally authorized wiretaps with the intent to obstruct or impede a criminal investigation. Duke was monitoring phone conversations in a wiretap case and was aware of another case being monitored in the same room at the Indianapolis FBI office. Duke relayed information about phones being tapped, pending indictments, and the date raids were scheduled. He also has to do four months community confinement and six months of house arrest.

In Detroit, the Michigan Attorney General's Office is taking over the investigation of Wayne County's lead drug prosecutor, who is accused knowingly using perjured testimony in a 2005 cocaine case. Assistant Prosecutor Karen Plants was suspended in April after the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission charged her with misconduct for allowing an informant and two Inkster police officers to lie under oath during a cocaine conspiracy trial. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy asked that another agency investigate Plants, and the Attorney General's Office stepped in after prosecutors in four nearby counties declined to get involved.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A Connecticut prison guard gets busted, a pair of JFK airport Customs inspectors do too, an Arizona Border Patrol agent cops a plea, and a Connecticut narc heads to prison. Just another week in the drug war. Let's get to it:

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/seizedcash.jpg
too much drug cash can corrupt cops
In Hartford, Connecticut, a prison guard was arrested last week in a state police sting operation after agreeing to smuggle heroin and a cell phone into a Suffield prison for an inmate. Corrections officer Connie Atkins, 43, met with an undercover police officer posing as a drug connection in Hartford on May 21 and took possession of a cell phone and what she thought was 28 grams of heroin. She was then arrested. Atkins faces charges of criminal attempt to possess narcotics, criminal attempt to convey narcotics into a correctional institution and criminal attempt to convey a wireless communication device into a correctional institution. She is out on bail, with a Superior Court hearing set for June 20.

In New York City, two Customs and Border Protection officers were arrested Wednesday, accused of taking bribes in a drug probe that snagged five other people as well. The so far unnamed CBP officers allegedly took bribes to look the other way as the other arrestees smuggled hashish and other drugs and contraband through Kennedy International Airport. The others arrested included two Customs brokers, an operations manager of a cargo cooperative, and two importers of counterfeit goods and controlled substances. They were due in court this week.

In Tucson, a Border Patrol agent pleaded guilty May 20 to smuggling more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana into the country in his government vehicle. Agent Juan Luis Sanchez pleaded guilty to drug smuggling, bribery, and workmen's compensation fraud. He admitted transporting at least six loads of marijuana ranging from 376 pounds to 921 pounds in 2002 and 2003. He also admitted receiving $45,000 in bribes. Sanchez will be sentenced August 13, when he faces up to life in prison, but a plea deal with prosecutors calls for a sentence of between 10 and 15 years.

In New Haven, Connecticut, a former New Haven detective was sentenced Tuesday to 15 months in federal prison after admitting he planted drug evidence and stole money from a crime scene. Former narcotics detective Justen Kasperzyk pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to violate civil rights and theft of government property. He will report to prison June 24, where he can hang out with his old boss, former narcotics division head Lt. William White, who is doing 38 months for corruption.

If the Drug War Reduces Violence, Please Explain What's Happening in Mexico

The debate should be over now. All you have to do is look south to learn that the drug war is worse than a failure; it causes massive violence, corruption, and death. From The New York Times:
"When the commander, Commissioner Édgar Millán Gómez, the acting chief of the federal police, died with eight bullets in his chest on May 8, it sent chills through a force that had increasingly found itself a target."

"Top security officials who were once thought untouchable have been gunned down in Mexico City, four in the last month alone."

"Drug dealers killed another seven federal agents this year in retaliation for drug busts in border towns."

"Drug traffickers have killed at least 170 local police officers as well, among them at least a score of municipal police commanders, since Mr. Calderón took office."

"The violence between drug cartels that Mr. Calderón has sought to end has only worsened over the past year and a half. The death toll has jumped 47 percent to 1,378 this year, prosecutors say. All told, 4,125 people have been killed in drug violence since Mr. Calderón took office."

"Several terrified local police chiefs have resigned, the most recent being Guillermo Prieto, the chief in Ciudad Juárez, who stepped down last week after his second in command was killed a few days earlier."
So what does Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who instigated the massive increase in drug war violence, have to say about all this?
The president has vowed to stay the course, portraying the violence among gangs and attacks on the police as a sign of success rather than failure.
Wow. Well, I guess you've got it all figured then, Mr. President. That's good to hear, because for a second there, it sounded like everything was going to hell.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

On opposite sides of the country, crooked cops are headed for long prison sentences, and another Atlanta narc is going to the big house. Meanwhile, a Customs and Border Protection agent in San Diego and a jail guard in the Florida panhandle get busted. Let's get to it:

In Los Angeles, a former LAPD officer was sentenced to 13 years in prison May 12 for leading a ring of corrupt cops who robbed homes while carrying out fake drug raids. Ruben Palomares, 38, admitted to leading more than 40 home invasion robberies disguised as police raids in working-class Los Angeles neighborhoods between 1999 and 2001. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deal drugs, violating the civil rights of his victims, and using a firearm during the commission of a felony. The former Ramparts Division cop is already serving six years for a San Diego conviction for possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Palomares is one of five former police officers to be convicted in the scheme. Another Palomares accomplice and former LAPD officer was sentenced Monday to 102 years in prison. William Ferguson got hammered so hard because he turned down a plea deal that involved testifying against his brother John, who was also convicted in the ring and is currently doing eight years.

[Ed: Ferguson's century-long sentence seems troubling for multiple reasons. Armed robbery is serious business, as are betraying the public trust and contributing to the public's distrust of police. But it's not like he killed someone. Not being willing to testify against another person, let one's your brother, shouldn't be reason for increasing a sentence by 89 years and a factor of eight. I wonder how much of the sentence was the drug conspiracy charges as opposed to the robberies. -DB]

In Atlanta, another Atlanta narc has been sentenced to prison in the killing of Kathryn Johnston. Atlanta Police Officer Arthur Tesler was sentenced Tuesday to four years and nine months for lying to investigators about the November 2006 drug raid that resulted in the death of the 92-year-old woman. The three officers involved in the case lied to a judge to obtain a search warrant, tried to persuade another informant to lie for them, and planted marijuana in Johnston's home after the fact. The other two have already pleaded guilty and are serving their sentences. Tesler was the only one of the three to go to trial.

In Boston, a former Boston police officer was sentenced to 26 years in prison May 16 for his leadership role in a scheme that enlisted two other Boston police officers to escort trucks filled with cocaine headed for the city. Roberto Pulido pleaded guilty in November in the middle of his trial after jurors heard tapes of more than two dozen conversations where a swaggering, swearing Pulido was recorded plotting the protection racket in a sting organized by the FBI. Pulido and fellow officers Carlos Pizarro and Nelson Carrasquillo were arrested in July 2006 after guiding a truck filled with 100 kilograms of cocaine from Western Massachusetts into the city. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and 1 kilogram of heroin and two counts of attempting to aid and abet the distribution of the cocaine. He pleaded no contest to a fourth charge of carrying a gun in a drug-trafficking crime. Pulido blamed his crimes on his steroids habit.

In San Diego, a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer was arrested last Friday on charges he conspired to smuggle drugs and illegal immigrants across the border. CBP Officer Luis Francisco Alarid, 31, had worked at the Otay Mesa border crossing, across the frontier from Tijuana, Mexico. Federal investigators watched Alarid repeatedly fail to properly check vehicles coming through his inspection lane. Investigators found dozens of illegal immigrants and hundreds of pounds of marijuana that Alarid is suspected of allowing to be smuggled into the country.

In Panama City, Florida, a Washington County corrections officer was arrested May 10 while on duty for allegedly selling marijuana to inmates. Guard Ivan Duke Peters, 34, is charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver, unlawful compensation, and smuggling contraband into a detention facility. Investigators had received information that Peters was smuggling in contraband in return for cash from prisoners.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

The evidence goes missing in Galveston, a pill-hungry cop goes down in Oklahoma, a pill-peddling cop gets popped in New Jersey, and another pill-peddling cop goes to prison in Indiana. Let's get to it:

In Galveston, Texas, large amounts of cash and drugs have gone missing from the Galveston Police Department evidence room, prompting the dismissal of 16 cases and a Texas Rangers audit of more than 2,000 other cases. Some $18,000 in cash, as well as undisclosed amounts of cocaine, Ecstasy, and hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab) disappeared from the evidence room last month. One civilian employee has been fired, but no one has yet been charged with a crime. Charges could be filed once the state investigation is complete, city officials said.

In Trenton, New Jersey, a Trenton police officer was arrested May 7 on charges of distribution of prescription drugs and official misconduct. Officer Nicholas Fratticioli, 24, is accused of selling more than 100 doses of muscle relaxants. Fratticioli graduated from the Trenton Police Academy in August, but has now been suspended without pay. He is currently out on $25,000 bail awaiting trial.

In Durant, Oklahoma, a Durant police lieutenant was arrested May 8 after breaking into a pharmacy in an alleged attempt to steal prescription drugs. Lt. Johnny Rutherford has admitted he was the person shown in a surveillance video breaking into the pharmacy, according to an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation affidavit in the case. Rutherford, who was due to retire this year after 20 years on the job, was on personal leave when he was arrested. He is now on administrative leave.

In Clarksville, Indiana, a former Clarksville police officer was sentenced May 8 to 10 years in prison for dealing drugs. Former office Franklin Mikel had pleaded guilty to selling morphine tablets to a police informant three times in March and April 2007 at a roller rink he owned in Clarksville. The eight-year veteran officer was running for a town judge position at the time of his arrest. He was suspended from the force and later left the department.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Belated justice comes for two crooked cops, one in Dallas and one in Long Beach. Let's get to it:

In Los Angeles, a former Long Beach police officer was sentenced Monday to eight years and one month in federal prison for participating in a series of home invasion robberies staged to look like legitimate drug raids. Joseph Ferguson, 33, was convicted of three counts in January, including possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Ferguson was part of a ring of Los Angeles and Long Beach police officers who committed more than 30 home invasion robberies, using stolen LAPD vehicles to rob homes where they thought drugs or cash were stored. Of the 19 members of the ring, 15 have pleaded guilty, two are fugitives, and two, Ferguson and his brother, another Long Beach cop, were found guilty at trial.

In Dallas, the former Dallas narcotics detective at the center of the "sheet-rock" scandal has begun serving a five-year prison sentence. Former Dallas police officer Mark Delapaz was found guilty of lying to a judge to obtain a search warrant in the scandal, which saw dozens of innocent immigrants sent to prison after being arrested by Delapaz and his partners and charged with cocaine possession. But the "cocaine" turned out to be gypsum, similar to the stuff sheet rock is made of. Delapaz was sentenced for tampering with evidence and aggravated perjury. The scandal has cost the city $4 million in payouts to victims and led to changes in departmental policy. Another officer involved, Jeffrey Harwood, was sentenced to two years probation after a jury found him guilty of lying on a police report, and cases are still pending for two other officers, Eddie Herrera and David Larsen.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

New Haven's former top narc heads to prison, a Louisiana DARE officer goes down, a South Carolina jail guard gets caught shooting cocaine, and an Idaho deputy gets caught ripping off cash and drugs. Just another week in the drug war. Let's get to it:

In New Haven, Connecticut, the former head of the New Haven police drug squad was sentenced Monday to 38 months in prison for stealing thousands of dollars in supposed drug money planted by the FBI in a sting and for taking bribes from bail bondsmen. Former Lt. William White, 64, pleaded guilty last October in US District Court to conspiracy to commit bribery and theft of government property. He admitted to stealing $27,500 planted by the FBI in a car trunk and another $1,000 planted at a house after being told it belonged to drug dealers.

In Pineville, Louisiana, the Pineville Police DARE officer was arrested April 23 after a drug deal he was plotting with an informant while on duty was inadvertently broadcast over a police scanner. Officer Raymond Smith, 37, a nine-year veteran and DARE officer for the last year, was working at a local elementary school, when local law enforcement starting overhearing a conversation about taking "bricks" and "kilos" to Detroit. Smith then met with the informant, and was arrested for conspiring to obtain and distribute one kilogram of powder cocaine.

In Union, South Carolina, a Union County jail guard was arrested April 23 for stealing cocaine used to train drug dogs and shooting it up on the job. Union County Detention Center Officer Ricky Haney, 53, is charged with possession of cocaine and misconduct in office in the April 7 incident. He is now a former Union County jail guard at last report residing at his former place of employment.

In Boise, Idaho, a former Fremont County deputy sheriff was arrested Monday for allegedly stealing cash and prescription drugs from the county jail. Deputy Bradley Holjeson, 25, came under suspicion after an inmate being released asked for his cash back and it couldn't be found. An audit quickly turned up missing prescription pain relievers, and after several interviews with investigators, Holjeson resigned and moved to Boise. He now faces charges of grand larceny and possession of a controlled substance.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A perverted Oklahoma sheriff gets indicted, an Atlanta narc goes on trial, an Indiana jail guard goes to jail, a Santa Fe narc doesn't -- and a cop who made these pages three years ago is found not guilty.

We do try to follow these stories to their endings, but we don't catch everything. If there is anyone else out there who has an update we haven't mentioned, please send it on to us. In the meantime, let's get to it:

In Arapaho, Oklahoma, the Custer County Sheriff resigned April 16 as state prosecutors filed a 35-count indictment charging him with coercing and bribing female inmates to participate in sex acts. Now former Custer County Sheriff Mike Burgess faces 14 counts of second-degree rape, seven counts of forcible oral sodomy, and five counts of bribery by a public official, among other charges. A federal lawsuit filed by 12 former inmates alleges that Burgess and his employees had them participate in wet T-shirt contests and gave cigarettes to inmates who would flash their breasts. He also allegedly had sex with a female drug court participant after telling her she would be sent to prison if she didn't satisfy his sexual demands. Another prisoner alleges she was given trusty status after agreeing to perform a sex act on Burgess, but lost that status when she later refused. He also faces two counts each of sexual battery, rape by instrumentation, and subornation of perjury. It being Oklahoma, Burgess now faces 467 years in prison.

In Atlanta, an Atlanta police officer involved in the November 2006 raid that resulted in the death of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston went on trial this week in connection with her killing. Officer Arthur Tesler was one of three officers charged in the case, in which they ginned up a story to get a search warrant at her address, did a no-knock entry, then shot and killed Johnston after she opened fire on them as they burst through her door. They then planted marijuana in her basement and asked another informant to lie in an attempt to cover up their errors. Former officers Gregg Junnier and Jason Smith pleaded guilty to state charges of voluntary manslaughter and a federal charge of violating her constitutional rights and are now in federal prison awaiting sentencing. Tesler, the only one to go to trial, is charged with the lesser crimes of making a false statement to an investigator, violating his oath of office and unlawful imprisonment. He faces up to 15 years in federal prison if convicted.

In Pendleton, Indiana, a Pendleton Correctional Facility guard was arrested April 15 after police found 3.2 pounds of marijuana in his car. Tracy McGrady faces charges of bribery, trafficking with an inmate, official misconduct, and possession of marijuana over 30 grams. Police say she hid drugs in containers of frozen food to smuggle them into the prison. McGrady went down after another guard inside the prison tipped off authorities.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, a former Santa Fe police detective was sentenced April 17 to three years probation for stealing money seized from a drug suspect. Former Det. Danny Ramirez, 48, had pleaded guilty January 22 to one count of theft after being caught stealing $5,000 during the May 2006 drug arrest. He was also fined $1,000.

In Chicago, a former Maywood police officer was acquitted April 15 of charges he tipped off a local gang leader about a police drug raid in 2005. Former Officer Arian Wade, 36, had been charged with criminal drug conspiracy and official misconduct after an investigation by the Cook County state's attorney's office and Cook County sheriff's police. The misconduct charge was dropped before trial. During the two-week jury trial, prosecutors alleged that phone calls between Wade and a drug suspect were aimed at helping him evade law enforcement, but the defense successfully argued that Wade was grooming him as an informant and feeding him false information to ingratiate himself. The jury deliberated for four hours before delivering the not guilty verdict.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Problems in the crime lab in Tucson, a small-town Georgia cop gets caught redhanded, and a Georgia sheriff's deputy follows in his father's not so illustrious footsteps. Let's get to it:

In Tucson, a police crime lab supervisor has resigned after being accused of stealing drug evidence. Steve Skowron, a veteran of the department for more than two decades, went down after requesting leave for personal reasons on February 27. When a fellow lab employee went to his work station to get items needed for testing, he discovered unsealed packages of drugs with the drugs missing. Tucson police said Skowron was taking the drugs for his personal use. Still, the Pima County Attorney's Office now plans to reopen up to 200 cases Skowron was involved in. He is currently accused of mishandling evidence in six criminal cases between December 2004 and January 2006. No charges have yet been filed.

In Homerville, Georgia, a Lakeland police officer was arrested April 10 for possession of powder cocaine, crack cocaine, and other drugs. Lakeland Police Officer Brian King, 25, will be charged with four counts of possession of drugs with the intent to distribute, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. King was fired last week.

In Rome, Georgia, a former Bartow County deputy sheriff faces sentencing next month after pleading guilty to federal embezzlement charges. Former Deputy Brenton Garmon stole $80,493 in money seized in drug busts between 2004 and 2007 while making a reputation for himself as the department's best narc. He is now working for an industrial services company while awaiting sentencing. Garmon is upholding a family tradition: His father, James Garmon, was a veteran Georgia Bureau of Investigation officer when he was arrested and ultimately convicted of bribery for collecting $1,600 in cash from a pawn shop that bought 81 guns seized by his son's drug unit. He did a year in a federal prison camp before getting out last fall.

If Progress in the Drug War is Measured in Dead Bodies, It's Going Well

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has drawn praise from U.S. drug warriors for his commitment to fighting back against the drug cartels. Unfortunately, current strategies for reducing drug trade violence tend to have the opposite of their intended effect. Via New York Times, this is what you get when you really crack down on the drug traffickers:
"a hand-scrawled list of 22 officers, 5 of whom had already been gunned down in the street."

"A turf war among drug cartels has claimed more than 210 lives in the first three months of this year."

"The number of homicides this year is more than twice the total number of homicides for the same period last year."

"Several mass graves hiding 36 bodies in all have been discovered in the backyards of two houses owned by drug dealers."

"At the height of the violence, around Easter, bodies were turning up every morning, at a rate of almost 12 a week."

"'Neither the municipal government, nor the state government, is capable of taking on organized crime,' Mayor José Reyes Ferriz said in an interview."

"The local police are outgunned, underpaid, prone to corruption and lack the authority to investigate drug dealers…"

"The first batch of 150 new recruits came out of the academy in January, but they entered a force where most officers either feared drug dealers too much to move against them or lived on their payroll."
After decades of full-scale international drug war, the central fronts in this great crusade appear before us today literally smoldering, littered with shell-casings and stained in blood. That is drug prohibition's legacy and it will not change or improve. Violence will fluctuate between frequent and perpetual. Illicit drug markets will fluctuate between high availability and totally saturation. That is just the way it is and the way it will always be so long as the people currently in charge of addressing the drug problem are permitted to continue trying their ideas.

Thus, any realistic debate over our drug laws shouldn't be spiked with fictitious references to future victories or meaningful progress. An honest defense of the drug war, if such a thing could exist, would have to defend our current conditions and claim that it would be best if things stayed this way forever.
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