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Mexico Drug War Update

by Bernd Debusmann, Jr.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year smuggling 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 more than 36,000 people, including more than 15,000 last year. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest or killing of dozens of 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:

The busts keep on coming, but so do the drugs. (Image via Wikimedia.org)
Tuesday,  April 19

In Cadereyrta, Nuevo Leon, 40 police officers were arrested on suspicion of being in collusion with drug trafficking organizations. The troops were taken into custody by soldiers and federal police officers. The arrests left the town with no municipal police officers and only eight transit police officers.

Thursday, April 21

In Durango, at least 41 bodies were discovered in a mass grave located near an auto shop in Las Fuentes. The bodies were badly decomposed, suggesting they had been there for some time.

In Tamaulipas, heavy fighting between rival cartels occurred in the border towns of Miguel Aleman and Ciudad Mier. One gunman was killed, and at least one soldier was killed when the army attempted to intervene. Eleven suspects were taken into custody. The fighting was between the Gulf Cartel and their former enforcers of the Zeta Organization, who were trying to open up the highway from Nuevo Laredo to Miguel Aleman.

Saturday, April 23

In Acapulco, five women all connected to the same beauty parlor were found with their throats slashed. Three of the dead -- including a 14-year old girl -- were found inside the beauty parlor semi-naked and tied up. Two others were found outside. Mexican media later reported that authorities are looking into connections with prostitution rings, and that the area where the murders took place is well-known for criminal activity.

In Mexico City, the dismembered body of a woman was found in the extremely upscale neighborhood of San Miguel Chapultepec. The area is adjacent to Chapultepec Park, home to the presidential residence of Los Pinos. Although cartel violence is rare in Mexico City, the city has seen an increase in crime stemming from battles over retail drug turf. Police are also investigating to see whether the crime is connected to the murders in Acapulco.

In Chihuahua, five men were gunned down as they sat under a tree. Two of the dead were brothers, both aged 25. The incident occurred when two luxury SUVs arrived at the location and a group of gunmen attacked the men. The motive is unknown, but Chihuahua has seen high levels of violence between the Sinaloa and Juarez Cartels.

Sunday, April 25

In Tampico, one person was killed and six wounded in a series of attacks which took place on Easter Sunday. Mexican media reported that most police in the city were busy guarding the tourist areas of the city when the attacks took place. No arrests were made in connection with the incidents.

In Durango, four Torreon, Coahuila police officers were found executed on the banks of the Nazas River near Gomez Palacio. All four were bound and showed signs of having been tortured before being executed.

In Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, children who were playing found a body inside a suitcase in front of a bus stop. Inside the suitcase was the body of a woman, Rosa Sotelo Serna, 39, who had been reported missing by her family a month before.

In Los Mochis, Sinaloa, four men were killed when gunmen attacked a vehicle which took place on the highway between Los Mochis and San Blas. The motive is unknown.

Monday, April 25

In Reynosa, 51 kidnap victims were rescued during an operation by Federal Police. Among those rescued were 6 Chinese citizens, 18 Central Americans, and 27 Mexicans. They were being held captive inside a house in Reynosa.

In Ciudad Juarez, a disabled man in a wheelchair was shot and killed in a convenience store. An 11-year old girl, the daughter of the store manager, was wounded in the incident when she was shot as she helped the disabled man complete his purchases.

In Durango, the director of a state penitentiary was ambushed and killed by heavily armed gunmen.

[Editor's Note: Because El Universal has faltered in its weekly body count postings, we have to rely on our own counts, which most likely undercount the actual death toll. Perhaps at some point this year, the Mexican government will again announce an official toll.]

Total Body Count for the Week: *65

Total Body Count for the Year: 2,274

Total Body Count for 2010: 15,273

Total Body Count for 2009: (approx.) 9,600

Total Body Count for 2008 (approx.): 5,400

Total Body Count for 2007 (approx): 4,300

Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war through 2010: 34,849

Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war to date: 37,123

Mexico

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Cops stealing drug money, jail guards smuggling dope, deputies helping traffickers... and narcs gone wild in Peoria. Just another week in the drug war. Let's get to it.

Prohibition's filthy lucre is too much for some to resist (Image via Wikimedia)
In Edmond, Oklahoma, a former Edmond police officer was arrested earlier this month for allegedly stealing $8,000 in drug bust money from the department evidence room. Benjamin Northcutt, 35, is charged with grand larceny. The cash was seized during a drug raid last August, and Northcutt was in the room when they money was counted and packaged before being placed in an evidence locker. Police videos show that Northcutt entered and exited the evidence room alone 14 times between then and the time the money was discovered missing the next morning. He has denied taking it and is out on $2,000 bail.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a Baton Rouge police officer was arrested April 12 for allegedly stealing about $15,000 in seized drug money. Officer Michael Thompson, 27, admitted that he was strung out on prescription pain pills and took the money to fund his addiction, Baton Rouge police said. Thompson was a five-year veteran of the department and was assigned to the Narcotics Division at the time of his arrest. He resigned from the force shortly after being arrested. He faces seven counts of felony theft and one count of malfeasance in office.

In Peoria, Illinois, three Chicago-area undercover narcs were arrested April 13 after they started fighting with bouncers at a local strip club. The three are members of the Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad who were attending a law enforcement conference when one of them was denied entry to the club because he had no ID. That angered the other officers, and bouncers invited them to leave, prompting one to respond, "Why don't you try and make me?" while another assaulted a bouncer. The club called Peoria police, who arrested them as the brawl spread into the club's parking lot. One narc got two counts of battery, one got one count of battery, and one got one count of battery and one count of criminal trespass. All the offenses are misdemeanors. The suspects remain unnamed because naming them could jeopardize the safety of "ongoing undercover operations," Peoria police said.

In Boston, a Massachusetts corrections officer was arrested Monday for allegedly trying to smuggle heroin to sell to inmates at a medium-security prison in Norfolk. Guard Ronald McGinn Jr., 40, went down after plotting with and sending text messages to an undercover FBI agent about the amounts of drugs he would smuggle into the prison and what he would be paid for his efforts. He was carrying 28 grams of heroin when arrested. He is charged with possession of heroin with intent to distribute at a prison. He's looking at up to 20 years in prison.

In Houston, a former Harris County deputy pleaded guilty April 14 to using his position to protect someone in a drug case in return for cash. George Ellington, 38, admitted accessing confidential information from a law enforcement database to protect a person he believed was transporting Ecstasy. He was to receive $500. Instead, he has now pleaded guilty to one count of extortion and is looking at a five-year prison sentence.

In Newark, New Jersey, a former state corrections officer pleaded guilty Monday to charges he fronted a complex contraband-smuggling ring that included heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and cell phones. Luis Roman admitted making thousands of dollars in a scheme involving 35 other people. He pleaded guilty to racketeering and official misconduct charges for running smuggling rings at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel and then at Northern State Prison in Newark. He's looking at 14 years in prison. Sixteen prisoners and 18 others have also been indicted in the scheme, and five have so far pleaded guilty.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A typical corrupt cops week: Missing evidence, corruption on the border, greedy jail guards, and thuggish dope squad cops. Let's get to it:

The profits of prohibition tempt law enforcement. (Image via Wikimedia.org)
In Asheville, North Carolina, drugs, guns, and cash are missing from the Asheville Police Department evidence room. Auditors began investigating after the long-time evidence room manger resigned, and so far, they say they cannot account for 30 packets of cash, 27 guns, and 54 containers of drugs. Last month, they discovered that 400 oxycodone tablets were gone, too. The investigation continues, but the missing evidence could derail a number of criminal cases.

In Yuma, Arizona, a US Border Patrol agent was arrested April 5 after being caught by coworkers with hundreds of pounds of marijuana in his patrol vehicle. Agent Michael Atondo was nailed with 745 pounds of pot after Border Patrol agents found his vehicle backed up against the fence that marks US-Mexico border with its rear door open. Two Jeep Cherokees were parked on the Mexican side of the border, and two people in Mexico jumped into them and sped away. Atondo told the other agents he was pursuing two other people, but the agents could see no one else was there, and when they stopped his vehicle, they found neatly stacked bundles of marijuana inside it. He faces a federal charge ofpossession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. At last report, he had been freed pending trial.

In New York City, a New York prison guard was arrested April 5 for allegedly agreeing to help an inmate escape in return for cash and three kilos of cocaine. Guard Robert Whitfield, 48, a 20-year Rikers Island veteran went down in a sting after plotting the drugs-for-escape scheme on the phone with what turned out to be a DEA agent.

In Chicago, four current and former Chicago police officers were charged April 7 with shaking down drug dealers and lying on the witness stand. Former Special Operations Section officers Jerome Finnigan and Keith Herrera are charged in the robbery scheme, which netted hundreds of thousands of dollars, while Officer Eric Olsen and former Officer Stephen DelBosque are charged with civil rights violation misdemeanors for lying about drug arrests. Finnigan, who is described as the ringleader, has been in federal custody since 2007, when he was charged with plotting to kill a fellow officer he thought was cooperating with the feds. In that case, Herrera wore the wire that recorded the murder-for-hire scheme. Finnigan and Herrera are each charged with one felony count of civil-rights conspiracy and one count of filing a false income-tax return.

In Laredo, Texas, a former Laredo police officer was sentenced Monday to 25 years in federal prison for escorting drug smugglers while on the force. Orlando Jesus Hale was convicted last September of conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute it. He and another police officer, Pedro Martinez III, were hired by undercover federal agents posing as drug traffickers in a sting in which they thought they were escorting 20-kilo loads of cocaine across Laredo in 2008. The pair were paid $1,000 for each escort. Hale got 20 years on the drug charge and another five for carrying his firearm while he escorted the load. Martinez, who testified against Hale, has not yet been sentenced.

Drug Trafficking Organizations Seek to Exploit Corrupt Federal Agents

As the Homeland Security Department's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) bureau has ratcheted up efforts to cope with the tide of crime sweeping across the Southwest border, Mexican drug trafficking organizations have stepped up efforts to infiltrate CBP and other federal, state and local agencies responsible for policing the border.
Publication/Source: 
Government Executive (DC)
URL: 
http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0411/041111mag1.htm

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Missing drug money, meth-dealing sheriffs, cocaine-snorting crooked cops, cops turned robbers -- it's just another week on the corrupt cops beat. Let's get to it:

prohibition corrupts (image via Wikimedia)
In Paris, Tennessee, the director of the 24th Judicial District Drug Task Force was suspended March 30 pending an investigation into missing drug money. Steven Lee, the director of the drug task force, was suspended with pay and a secretary within the task force fired, although the Henry County district attorney didn't say exactly why. He did say he called in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in early 2010 after $4,200 went missing from a drug seizure and the drug task force had no record of the money ever being seized. He said the investigation is continuing.

In Poughkeepsie, New York, a retired Poughkeepsie police officer was arrested March 31 for allegedly tipping off drug dealers in exchange for cocaine. Retired officer David Palazzolo, 47, is accused of using departmental computers to learn the identities and locations of undercover narcotics officers and turning that information over to admitted cocaine in return for some of their product.

In Van Buren, Missouri, the Carter County sheriff was arrested Saturday on methamphetamine distribution charges. Sheriff Tommy Adams, 31, went down after an investigation by the Van Buren Police, the FBI, the Missouri Division of Fire Safety, and the Missouri Highway Patrol. Adams' home burned down in January 2010, and authorities said at the time nothing suspicious was found, but they did not say if the fire prompted the meth investigation. An unnamed deputy sheriff was also arrested Saturday, but has not been charged. At last report, Adams was in jail trying to raise a $250,000 cash-only bond.

In Cincinnati, a Cincinnati police officer was arrested Tuesday on charges of obstructing justice and unauthorized use of a computer.  Officer Alvin Triggs was arrested by officers from the Regional Enforcement Narcotics Unit for an offense that took place January 28. The two counts are both felonies and carry maximum sentences of 2 ½ years each.

In Philadelphia, a former Philadelphia police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to helping accused drug dealers rob a man they thought was a drug courier. Christopher Luciano, 23, pleaded guilty to robbery, conspiracy, kidnapping, official oppression, and possession of a drug with intent to deliver. Luciano and a fellow 25th District officer, Sean Alivera, 31, were arrested October 4. Alivera was scheduled to plead guilty on Wednesday. The pair went down after agents from the state Bureau of Narcotics Investigation heard from an informant that a Philadelphia drug dealer was bragging that Philadelphia police had helped him set up and rob drug couriers. Agents then set up a sting, and the pair bit. They are now looking at at least five years in prison and as many as 67. No sentencing dates have been set yet.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

It was a relatively quiet week on the crooked cop front -- not including officers who've gone astray but haven't been caught -- but we've still got us a trio of law enforcement miscreants. Let's get to it:

Prohibition's filthy lucre is too much for some to resist (Image via Wikimedia)
In Modesto, California, a Modesto police officer was arrested Monday after an internal investigation found he had seized drugs and failed to turn them in as evidence. Officer Anthony Trock, a four-year veteran of the department, is charged with possession of a controlled substance, furnishing illegal drugs, and embezzlement. Trock went down after a citizen complained and Internal Affairs investigated. The investigation turned up several instances where Trock seized drugs from people while on duty, but did not turn them in. In one incident, Trock gave marijuana he seized to another person. He is on administrative leave.

In Decatur, Alabama, a Morgan County jail guard was arrested March 22 on charges he was selling drugs at the jail. Guard Marquez Laroy Goodwin, 22, sold marijuana to undercover agents, and when he was later pulled over in a traffic stop, was found in possession of a handgun and marked money from the buy. He is charged with unlawful distribution of a controlled substance. The sheriff says he will be fired, and that other guards could be involved. Stay tuned.

In Montello, Wisconsin, a former Marquette County Sheriff's deputy was sentenced March 23 to six months in jail for stealing drugs from an evidence room. Former deputy Daniel Card, 34, had pleaded guilty in January to misdemeanor charges of theft and entry into a locked room without permission. He had been found guilty in March 2009 of felony drug possession for taking drugs from the evidence room in April and May 2007. Investigators also found drugs missing from cases in 1996, 1997, and 2006. Card must also undergo a drug and alcohol assessment and possible treatment.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Jail guards, probation officers, narcs, deputies, DARE officers, ICE agents -- it's corrupt cops gone wild this week! Let's get to it:

drug cash sometimes corrupts cops (image via Wikimedia)
In Silver Spring, Maryland, a Montgomery County police officer was arrested March 16 on charges she used police databases to help a convicted drug dealer with whom she was in a relationship. Officer Delores Culmer allegedly ran record checks on people who were associates of her boyfriend, including a vehicle owned by the girlfriend of a drug customer who owed her boyfriend money. That car was vandalized. Culmer is charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and computer fraud.

In Carson City, Nevada, a Carson City alternative sentencing officer was charged last Friday with molesting women under his supervision, including some drug offenders. Aaron Lewis, 35, faces 22 counts, including misconduct of a public officer and coercion using physical force, both felonies, and open or gross lewdness and oppression under color of office, both gross misdemeanors. The criminal complaint alleges that at least six women were threatened with arrest if they did not submit to and keep quiet about his sexual advances. He is on paid administrative leave pending a departmental investigation and was to be formally charged and released on his own recognizance this week.

In Kinston, North Carolina, a Green County sheriff's deputy was arrested Saturday for trying to sneak marijuana and tobacco into the jail. Edwin Edwards, 29, fell afoul of a drug-sniffing dog during a routine unannounced screening. He faces several drug possession and distribution charges. He has been released on bail.

In Trenton, New Jersey, a suspended senior corrections officer pleaded guilty March 15 to charges he trafficked 22 kilograms of cocaine from Texas to New Jersey. Eugene Bracewell, 31, and five other men were indicted in October 2009. Bracewell's conspiracy began unraveling after he shot and killed an ex-convict in 2007, raising red flags for investigators. He pleaded guilty to first-degree cocaine trafficking and second-degree official misconduct.

In Atlanta, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent pleaded guilty last Thursday to conspiring to launder drug money and attempting to smuggle guns onto an airplane. Agent Devon Samuels, 45, was among 14 people arrested in December after federal investigators turned up 700,000 tabs of ecstasy in nearby Chamblee. He was accused of taking bribes from what he thought were drug traffickers and using his security clearance to avoid screening checkpoints at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. He was also accused of smuggling cash and five firearms allegedly destined for Mexican drug cartels onto an aircraft. He's looking at up to 45 years in prison. Sentencing is set for June 2.

In Winter Haven, Florida, a former Winter Haven police officer pleaded guilty last Friday to stealing one bud of marijuana during a drug bust. Ricardo Flores, 36, pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana and will serve a year of probation, but must also give up his law enforcement credentials. Fellow officers at a marijuana grow-op bust ratted him out after they saw him take a bud from a cut-down plant and hide it in his motorcycle helmet.

In Dallas, the former top narc for the Mesquite Police Department pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal theft charges after being caught pocketing $2,000 in what he thought was drug money in an FBI sting. John David McAllister, 42, a 21-year veteran officer, had spent the last five years as commanding sergeant in the department's narcotics unit. He went down after FBI agents got a tip he was stealing money in drug busts. Undercover agents installed cameras in a vehicle and planted $100,000 in it, then asked McAllister to help them impound the vehicle. The camera caught McAllister stuffing the cash down his pants. He's looking at up to 10 years in prison. His sentencing date has not yet been set.

In Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a former West Pittson police officer was sentenced last Friday to three to 12 months in county jail for embezzling nearly $20,000 in DARE funds as payments for classes he never taught. Joseph Campbell, 49, was found guilty in February of five counts of theft by deception. He was supposed to have taught classes at the Wyoming Area High School, but never did. He was fired in November 2009 and arrested and charged in February 2010. He must also do 7 1/2 years of probation.

In Chicago, a former Cook County Jail guard was sentenced Tuesday to two years probation after admitting he snuck marijuana into the jail. Dwayne Jones, 25, got caught with 10 grams of weed, a cell phone and charger, earphones, and several DVDs as he arrived for work. He was originally charged with two counts of possession of contraband in a penal institution and one count of official misconduct, but eventually copped to one count of bringing cannabis into a penal institution. He was fired, too.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A federal judge gone wild now goes to jail, more gun running arrests pop up, and more of the same old run of the mill law enforcement corruption. Let's get to it:

Prohibition's filthy lucre is hard for some to resist. (Image via Wikimedia)
In Atlanta, a former federal judge was sentenced last Friday to 30 days in jail for doing drugs and partying with a prostitute. Then senior federal Judge Jack Camp was arrested in October in an undercover drug sting. Camp went down after he started partying with an exotic dancer in May and paid her for sex. Together, they also partied with pot, cocaine, and opioids, but by October, the dancer was cooperating with undercover FBI agents who set up a sting. Camp gave the dancer $160 to buy drugs and was in the car with her when she made the purchase from an undercover agent. Camp must also pay a $1,000 fine, do 400 hours of community service, and reimburse the government for the cost of prosecution.

In Brownsville, Texas, a former Cameron County sheriff's deputy was sentenced Monday to 57 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to gun smuggling charges. Jesus Longoria, 31, had admitted that while assigned to a border bridge in May, he attempted to export 13 semi-automatic firearms from the US to Mexico. The weapons were destined for a Mexican drug cartel, and Longoria was paid $5,400 for letting them through. He resigned as a deputy on the day he was arrested.

In Star City, Arkansas, a former King County, Washington, narcotics detective was arrested March 9 on charges he stole drugs that were intended as training aids for his drug dog. Kristopher Kizer was arrested by US Marshals as he arrived at the local county sheriff's office to apply for a job. He is charged with theft and felony possession of narcotics. He had resigned from the force in February, and after his resignation, detectives realized that seized cocaine and methamphetamine samples supplied to him for training had never been returned. He is also accused of failing to log in marijuana seized in a traffic stop.

In Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, four current or former Luzerne County Prison employees were arrested March 10 for smuggling drugs into the jail. Arrested were jail guards Jason Fierman, 35, and Christopher Walsh, 28, and former jail nurse Kevin Worman, 50, and former guard captain John Casey, 37. They went down after a 13-month investigation into cocaine and prescription drug trafficking inside and outside the county jail that started with anonymous tips that people were bringing contraband into the facility. Warman is accused of using fictitious names to write prescriptions, which he would then pass out to his fellow jail workers. Carey is accused of receiving deliveries of cocaine from jail employees and former inmates, as well as being connected to the Outlaws Motorcycle Club members arrested in a 2009 drug sting. Warman is charged with one count of delivery of a controlled substance and one count of acquisition or obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge. Carey is charged with one count each of delivery of cocaine and possession of cocaine. Fierman is charged with one count each of delivery of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance. Walsh is charged with one count each of delivery of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.

In Columbus, New Mexico, the city mayor and police chief were among 10 people arrested March 10 on charges they trafficked firearms to Mexican drug cartels. Columbus Mayor Eddie Espinoza and Police Chief Angelo Vega went down after an intensive yearlong investigation initiated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and ICE Homeland Security Investigations, that later expanded to include the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney's Las Cruces Branch Office. They are accused of purchasing about 200 firearms favored by cartel hit men, including 40 AK-47-style pistols by falsely claiming they were the actual buyers of the weapons, when in fact they were only "straw buyers" acting on the behalf of others. Espinoza and Vega are charged along with all the other defendants with conspiracy to smuggle firearms into Mexico and with making false statements in connection with the purchase of firearms.

In Baltimore, a Prince George's County police officer was indicted Monday on updated federal drug conspiracy charges as well as new charges of extortion under color of official right in a scheme to bribe police to use their positions to ensure the safe transit and sale of untaxed cigarettes. Officer Sinisa Simic was originally charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine and carrying a firearm during the commission of a drug trafficking offense.

More Undercover Drug Cases Dropped Amid Growing SFPD Scandal

Location: 
San Francisco, CA
United States
Eight more criminal cases were dropped by prosecutors in connection with a looming scandal involving an undercover police unit accused of conducting illegal drug raids and falsifying police reports. The cases in San Francisco Superior Court involved the same officers previously accused of entering residential hotel rooms without warrants or consent and then allegedly lying about their actions on police reports. One officer was accused of falsely arresting a man for drug possession.
Publication/Source: 
The San Francisco Examiner (CA)
URL: 
http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/crime/2011/03/more-undercover-drug-cases-disappear-amid-growing-sfpd-scandal

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

It's a veritable cornucopia of drug-related law enforcement corruption! We don't even know where to begin -- just jump in, but don't forget to take a shower after you're done. Let's get to it:

evidence room of opportunity
In Philadelphia, a narcotics cop accused of stealing money from people he stopped has been fired after the Philadelphia Daily News published those allegations. Officer Joseph Sulpizio, 42, had been looking at criminal charges, but Police Chief Charles Ramsey said that now wouldn't happen because the news article "blew the investigation." It was unclear how the Daily News article actually prevented the prosecution.

In San Francisco, six narcotics officers have been accused of illegal searches and perjury by the San Francisco Public Defender's Office, which has released a video it says proves its case. In two separate drug busts at apartments in the Henry Hotel in December and January, police without search warrants entered the apartments and arrested the occupants on drug sales charges. Police said they had informant tips and hot gotten consent to search from the residents. But videos captured by hallway surveillance cameras showed that an officer had used a master key to enter the apartments without the consent of the residents. Last week, a San Francisco Superior Court judge threw out one case, and prosecutors dropped the second one the next day. The public defenders are calling for an additional independent investigation of the incidents, perhaps by the state attorney general's office.

In Buffalo, New York, a Transportation Security Administration agent was arrested March 2 on charges he allowed a "drug kingpin" to pass unmolested through security at the Buffalo Airport. TSA agent Minetta Walker, 43, a behavioral detection officer, is also accused of helping other drug traffickers evade scans and searches to take cash -- but not drugs -- through the airport. She was arrested along with the "kingpin," a Buffalo man who regularly flew to Arizona with large amounts of cash that he used to purchase marijuana, which he then shipped back to Buffalo. Walker is accused of letting him travel under a false name and ushering him past security lines where he might be stopped for carrying large amounts of cash. She has pleaded not guilty to charges of running a criminal enterprise, conspiracy and intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana, as well as charges of conspiring to defraud the US and aiding and abetting another to avoid security requirements.

In Dallas, the head of the Mesquite Police Department narcotics unit was arrested last Friday on charges he was ripping off cash during the execution of drug search warrants. Sgt. John David McAllister, 42, after the FBI received a tip in December that he was stealing cash. The FBI set up a sting operation in which an undercover FBI officer posed as a drug courier carrying $100,000 in cash. McAllister and his partner approached the vehicle, turned the driver over to other police, then searched the vehicle, finding the bundles of cash. Video recordings captured him taking one of the bundles and stashing it in his pants. When FBI agents counted the seized cash, it was short $2,000. McAllister is charged with theft of government property, and faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

In Danville, California, a Contra Costa County sheriff's deputy was arrested last Friday in connection with the investigation of a state narcotics agent who allegedly stole drugs from evidence lockers for resale. Deputy Stephen Tanabe, 47, was charged with suspicion of possession and transfer of an assault rifle and conspiracy to possess and sell controlled substances. Tanabe went down as a result of investigations into the February 16 arrest of Contra Costa Central Narcotics Enforcement Team lead Christopher Butler, who was arrested along with a private investigator on 28 felony counts of theft and the possession and sale of meth, marijuana, steroids, and prescription pills. Butler, Tanabe, and the private investigator were all police officers together at the Antioch Police Department in the 1990s.

In Phoenix, a Phoenix police detective was arrested Monday after being accused of replacing Oxycontin in the department's evidence room with over-the-counter drugs. The detective, whose name has not yet been released, is believed to have tampered with 83 evidence bags and swapped-out 2,400 prescription narcotics, replacing them with OTC drugs. The detective could face charges of evidence tampering, theft and drug possession in connection with the investigation. He has been interviewed and released and has resigned from the force.

In Detroit, another Inskter police officer and a former Wayne County prosecutor have pleaded guilty in a case in which Inskter narcotics officers, Wayne County drug prosecutor Karen Plants, and Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Mary Waterstone conspired to knowingly allow perjured testimony to be heard in a cocaine trafficking case. Officer Robert McArthur admitted filing false investigative reports in the 2005 case and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of willful neglect of duty. Charges of perjury and conspiracy were dropped against McArthur, who could have faced life in prison. Plants then pleaded guilty to one count of official misconduct and agreed to serve six months in jail. The former drug prosecutor copped to the plea in order to avoid trial on a conspiracy count that could have given her life in prison. Earlier, Inskter Officer Scott Rechtzigel pleaded guilty in the same case. Judge Waterstone is scheduled for trial in May. The four plotted to hide the fact that a witness in the case was in fact a snitch for the Inskster cops who had a large monetary incentive to testify as he did.

In Philadelphia, a fired Philadelphia police officer was convicted last Friday in a scheme to steal 300 grams of heroin during a fake traffic stop in his patrol car. Mark Williams, 27, was found guilty of drug and robbery charges. Williams staged the robbery of drug courier last May and split $6,000 in what he thought were proceeds from the sale of the heroin with two other officers, who have already pleaded guilty. But one of his co-conspirators was actually a DEA informant, and the $6,000 was really government bait money. Williams was convicted of conspiracy to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin, possession with intent to distribute heroin, conspiracy to commit robbery and attempted robbery. He's looking at a mandatory minimum five years on the drug counts and another five years on the robbery charges. He has been jailed pending sentencing.

In Alice, Texas, the former Jim Wells County district attorney pleaded guilty Monday to charges he misused millions in seized drug money. For six years ending in 2008, former DA Joe Frank Garza led Jim Wells County law enforcement in an aggressive scheme to pull cars over and seize forfeited property and cash. Garza spent the cash on bonuses for himself and three secretaries, as well as trips to Las Vegas for "seminars." Texas law requires that asset forfeiture expenditures be approved by the county commission, but Garza never bothered. He pleaded guilty to one count of misappropriating more than $2 million, and will likely be sentenced to six months in jail at sentencing in May. He will also have to pay $2.1 million in restitution.

Drug War Issues

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