2013 Drug War Killings

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Tennessee Cops Kill Man in Meth Lab Raid

Sullivan County sheriff's deputies shot and killed a man attempting to flee in a vehicle Friday night as they conducted a raid on a residence where a meth lab was suspected to be operating. Kenneth Ray Clark, 47, becomes the 33rd person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to the Bristol Times-News, citing police sources, officers with the Sheriff's Office Vice Unit, the 1st Judicial Drug Task Force, and the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force were dispatched to a Bristol residence after receiving information that a meth lab was operating there and that a person with outstanding warrants was there.

Upon arriving at the property, officers found Clark in a vehicle. Police said he refused to get out of the vehicle and, in an attempt to flee the scene, "tried to run over at least two officers." Officers then opened fire on the vehicle, striking Clark. Clark managed to drive approximately a mile, where police found him dead in his vehicle.

Clark was wanted on a probation violation warrant in Sullivan County. He also reportedly had an unspecified outstanding warrant from nearby Bristol, Virginia.

Although Clark allegedly "tried to run over at least two officers," there was no mention of any injury to any of the officers involved.

The shooting will be investigated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Bristol, TN
United States

Two More Drug War Deaths

A Texas marijuana grower and a California man who might have been a drug dealer were killed by police in separate incidents last week. The two men become the 31st and 32nd persons killed in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to News 4 San Antonio, citing police sources, Gonzales County sheriff's deputies were raiding a marijuana grow last Wednesday when a shootout erupted, leaving one of the suspected growers dead. Sheriff Glen Sachtleben said one of the growers fired at the deputies, and the deputies returned fire, killing the man, who has not been identified but is suspected of being a Mexican national.

"There were six that were actually in the gunfight," the sheriff said, referring to his deputies. None of them were injured.

A second man, also suspected of being a Mexican national in the country illegally, was arrested.

The sheriff described the grow as extending across several acres of a remote area of the county.

"Probably the largest in my 40 years in this county we've ever encountered," Sheriff Sachtleben said. "In our estimation, this is not in the local use at all. We're pretty sure it's flowing into Houston from here."

Texas Rangers are investigating the killing.

The following day, according to the Long Beach Post, citing police sources, a Long Beach, California, man was shot and killed by an undercover officer conducting a narcotics investigation. The man has been identified as 39-year-old John Del Real.

According to police, they were in the area investigating reports of drug dealing in the neighborhood when Del Real approached an officer "in a threatening manner." Del Real then reached for an object in his waistband, at which point the officer identified himself and gave several commands before opening fire.

Police attempted to render aid at the scene, but Del Real was pronounced dead after arriving at a local hospital. A metal bat he allegedly had tucked in his waistband was found at the scene.

Del Real's killing was the third shooting by a Long Beach Police Department officer in five days. It is being investigated by department homicide detectives and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Armed Drug Suspect Killed in Houston SWAT Raid

A drug suspect was shot and killed by a member of a Houston Police Department SWAT team early Wednesday. The as yet unnamed man becomes the 30th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to the Houston Chronicle, which cited police sources, SWAT team members were executing a narcotics search warrant at dawn in northeast Harris County when they encountered the man, described as a Hispanic in his 40s or 50s. As SWAT members entered the home from the side and front, "the suspect produced a handgun when confronted and was shot by a member of the team." The shooter was identified as Houston Police Officer SJ Hamala.

The dead man was one of four people named in the warrant. The other three were not found at the residence and remain at large.

Police said they used a SWAT team to conduct the raid because they had information the suspect had many weapons in his home.

At last report, narcotics officers were on the scene and conducting an investigation. No word yet on what, if anything, was seized.

Houston, TX
United States

California Volunteer Marijuana Eradicator Falls to His Death

A volunteer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife fell out of a helicopter and died while authorities were conducting a marijuana eradication effort in Tulare County Thursday. Shane Krogen becomes the 29th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Krogen was supervising the High Sierra Volunteer Trail Crew and supporting Operation PRISTINE in a remote part of Sequoia National Forest when he died. Operation PRISTINE's remit is "to eradicate and reclamate the most polluted illegal marijuana grow sites in California."

"Shane's dedication to California's natural resources was extraordinary," state Department of Fish and Wildlife Assistant Chief John Baker said in a statement. "He and his crew have worked tirelessly for several years to maintain access to the high Sierra for all Californians."

The incident remains under investigation.

CA
United States

Texas Man Shot and Killed in Drug Raid

Texas sheriff's deputies executing a narcotics search warrant shot and killed a Hidden Harbor Hills man Monday night. Daniel Richard Vasquez, 33, becomes the 28th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year and the second in the past week.

According to the Athens Review, relying on police sources, Henderson County Sheriff's Office investigators were serving the search warrant when a "confrontation" occurred between Vasquez and the officers. "During the course of the search, an HCSO investigator shot Vasquez," the newspaper reported.

Vasquez was transported to the East Texas Medical Center in Gun Barrel City, where he was pronounced dead. His body has been shipped to Dallas for an autopsy.

The sheriff's office has not released any further details, including whether Vasquez was armed or whether any drugs were found.

The killing will be investigated by Texas Rangers. Any further information will be released by the Rangers and the Henderson County District Attorney's Office.

Hidden Harbor Hills, TX
United States

California Cops Gun Down Unarmed Meth Dealer

Undercover police in Sunnyvale, California, shot and killed an unarmed alleged methamphetamine dealer last Wednesday afternoon. Juan Ruelas, 34, becomes the 27th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to NBC Bay Area News, citing police spokesmen, Ruelas was being investigated by the Santa Clara County Specialized Crimes Action Team (SCAT) and members of a DEA drug task force, whose undercover officers had purchased meth from him several times over the past month. Police set up another buy Wednesday afternoon at a Hobee's restaurant in Sunnyvale, and an undercover officer had just purchased a pound of meth from him when the shooting occurred.

Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety Captain Dave Pitts said that after the deal went down, Ruelas suddenly threatened the officer and said he had a gun. Then, Pitts said, Ruelas "made a movement that led the officer to believe he was reaching for a gun." No fewer than six officers on the scene then opened on fire on Ruelas, mortally wounding him. He died later the same day in a local hospital.

No gun was found.

In an earlier NBC Bay Area News report, a manager at the Motel 6 next door to the restaurant provided a different account. He told reporters that it looked like a driver had been pulled over for a traffic violation. The manager, John Carroll, said officers were shouting at a person in the vehicle to get out of the car. When that person began to comply, police gunfire broke out, he said.

Ruelas' family wants to know what happened, members told ABC News 7. "Our question was, you know, 'Was he armed?'" said Ruelas' sister, Maria Bunker. "And he just told my brother, 'no, we never found a weapon.'"

Bunker also questioned the police narrative of events. "The pictures that we see all over the media, they show his truck being boxed in," Bunker said. "He had a stroke recently so it's like, he wasn't going to run from them."

Police spokesman Pitts said the shooters were five Santa Clara police detectives and a sheriff's detective. The shooting is being investigated by Sunnyvale public safety investigators, who will forward their findings to the county district attorney's office for review.

Sunnyvale, CA
United States

South Carolina Man Is Latest Drug War Fatality

A Summerville, South Carolina man was shot and killed by police after allegedly engaging them with gunfire as he fled a traffic stop turned drug bust. Travis Miller, 22, becomes the 26th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to WCSC-TV Live 5 News, citing police sources, the incident began as an attempted traffic stop by city of Hanahan police. They were trying "to stop a motorist for a window tint violation a little before midnight" Monday, but the driver refused to stop. Instead, he led police on a short pursuit before pulling over.

When the vehicle stopped, police then said they smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle and ordered the driver and three passengers to exit the vehicle while they searched them and the car. Miller took off running with police in pursuit. Police said Miller opened fire on them as they pursued him. They returned fire.

Shortly thereafter, police found Miller dead in a wooded area. A handgun was found on him, police said.

The driver and the other two passengers were charged with marijuana possession, and the driver was cited for the tinted window violation. All three had prior drug arrests, and Miller also had an arrest history, but it wasn't clear what offenses he had been charged with.

The police officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

Hanahan, SC
United States

New Hampshire Cops Kill Man Fleeing Drug Sting

An undercover drug bust in a Weare, New Hampshire, shopping mall Wednesday night ended with the target of the bust shot to death as he attempted to flee. The as yet unidentified victim is the 25th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to the Concord Monitor and a press release from the state attorney general's office, several Weare police officers and two confidential informants were outside Dunkin' Donuts in Lanctot's Plaza on US Highway 114 doing a drug sting on the target, a suspected heroin dealer.

When officers attempted to detain the man, he tried to flee. Two officers then opened fire, wounding the man as he sped off in his vehicle. He made it about one hundred yards before crashing near an ice cream stand along the highway. He was taken by ambulance to a Manchester Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police have not said why they opened fire. They have not claimed that the man was shooting or pointing a gun at them, or even if a weapon was recovered. They have not claimed he was trying to run them over and they feared for their lives. And they have not mentioned the seizure of any drugs.

The attorney general's office said the investigation into the killing was "ongoing."

Weare, NH
United States

Indianapolis Drug Suspect Dies After Being Tased

An Indianapolis man targeted by police in a drug investigation died Thursday night after a struggle as police attempted to arrest him. The as yet unidentified man becomes the 24th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

According to the Indianapolis Star, citing police sources, the incident on the city's Eastside occurred when the man attempted to flee officers seeking to arrest him. Police said the man fell while fleeing, then resisted as officers attempted to arrest him. One officer then shot him with a Taser "to subdue him."

The man then grew unresponsive, and was soon pronounced dead.

Police said they think the man may have swallowed drugs during the chase. The death is being investigated by Indianapolis police internal affairs and homicide detectives.

Police later called members of the Ten Point Coalition, an anti-violence outreach group, to the crime scene. The coalition is typically called to chaotic crime scenes to calm down family members and friends of the victim, the Star reported.

Update: The dead man was later identified as Jeffrey Lilly, 22, of Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Star also reported that neighbors and family members came to the scene and "threatened and taunted" investigating officers before being dispersed.

Indianapolis, IN
United States

Georgia Narc Killed in Car Crash En Route to Bust

An undercover officer with the Columbus, Georgia, Metro Narcotics Task Force was killed Tuesday and another seriously injured when their vehicle crashed as they rushed to assist in a drug bust traffic stop. Corporal Thomas Keith Slay, 53, becomes the 23rd person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

Corporal Thomas Keith Slay (Columbus Police Department)
According to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Slay and Russell County sheriff's Deputy Brad Evans "were on an operation and going to assist another officer in a traffic stop" when the unmarked black Ford pickup driven by Slay traveling at high speed with blue lights and siren activated was struck by another vehicle. The officers' vehicle then slid sideways and struck a utility pole, snapping it in half.

Slay was pronounced dead shortly thereafter at a local hospital, while Evans, who suffered head injuries, underwent surgery Tuesday night. Both men were assigned to the multi-agency drug task force.

Slay was a 30-year law enforcement veteran, serving first with the Russell County Sheriff's Department and then with the Columbus Police. In addition to serving on the drug task force, he was also the task force's helicopter pilot.

There is no word on the results of the traffic stop to which Slay and Evans were heading to provide backup.

Columbus, GA
United States

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