Well, this week it's not just more of the same old same old. Yes, there are those mundane cases of law enforcement greed and corruption -- drug war corruption will be around as long as prohibition -- but thanks to Austin blogger Scott Henson, we have also been introduced to a Texas cop who hasn't yet found himself facing criminal charges but whose career smells of the institutionalized corruption emanating from those notorious ethical cesspools, the Lone Star State's federally-funded and multitudinous drug task forces.
But first, the usual stuff. And speaking of Texas, the Dallas "sheetrock" scandal continues to take its toll on the Dallas Police Department. Actually a misnomer since the sheetrock turned out to be gypsum (the stuff pool chalk is made of), the scandal involves the Dallas police arresting and the criminal justice system wrongly convicting and imprisoning Mexican immigrants based on seized cocaine and methamphetamine that turned out to be not illicit substances but gypsum.
So far, two narcotics officers who handled informants in the cases have been fired and face criminal charges (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/356/sheetrock.shtml), and now heads have begun to roll higher up. According to the Associated Press, two Dallas police commanders in charge of the narcotics division have been administratively punished. Assistant Chief Dora Saucedo-Falls was demoted to lieutenant on Monday and Deputy Chief John Martinez also faced demotion but opted to retire early instead.
"I made this decision... that there was responsibility up the chain of command and the only appropriate remedy would be these demotions," Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle told the AP. "The message is that we're all accountable for what occurs under our command."
Saucedo-Falls and Martinez may not be the last to go. Their demotions came a month after a report by attorneys hired by the city of Dallas said loose supervision in the narcotics division contributed to the false arrests. The police department has opened 70 criminal cases and 50 administrative cases as a result of that report, the AP said.
Meanwhile, in South Carolina, an Anderson County sheriff's drug agent has been arrested on methamphetamine trafficking charges after state narcs learned he was providing protection for a local meth dealer in return for a cut of the profits. According to a copy of an affidavit obtained by the Anderson Independent-Mail, Matthew Brian Durham had fronted the dealer the money to buy a pound of meth in May, with Durham and the dealer splitting the profits. Durham on at least 20 occasions told the dealer whether a person was safe to sell to or not or whether particular locations were safe from police eyes. Durham got $5,000 a week and earned a total of $200,000, the affidavit said. That sum was found in a safe in his home, according to the Independent-Mail.
Durham was arrested November 11 after agents from the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) leaned on "a known methamphetamine dealer" who agreed to cooperate. The dealer called Durham, who told him where it was safe to sell, then agreed to meet for the weekly $5,000 pickup. SLED agents arrested Durham, 33, at that meet. The senior narcotics investigator is being held in another county jail for his own protection, the newspaper noted.
And then there's Guadalupe County, Texas, Sheriff's Deputy Keith Majors. Majors is a perfect example of what Grits For Breakfast blogger Henson calls "gypsy cops" -- law enforcement officers who float from cop job to cop job, being hired by department after department despite leaving a trail of misbehavior, incompetence, or both. Ten years ago, drug task force agent Majors was caught by the Department of Public Safety destroying evidence of a superior's cocaine habit... and then there was the little matter of 54 missing pounds of cocaine. Two years ago, after Majors somehow became head of another drug task force, DPS disbanded it because of evidence missing from 20% of the task force's case files, including drugs and guns. Now, Majors is working the drug beat again.
Read all about Majors, the Texas drug task forces, and bunches of missing drugs and records at http://gritsforbreakfast.blogspot.com/2004/11/profile-of-gypsy-cop.html and http://gritsforbreakfast.blogspot.com/2004/11/profile-of-gypsy-cop-part-two.html online.