Police Corruption

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Sheriff Deputy Probed

Location: 
OK
United States
Publication/Source: 
Stillwater News Press
URL: 
http://www.stillwater-newspress.com/siteSearch/apstorysection/local_story_288011323.html

Veteran Payne County Oklahoma Deputy Sheriff Brooke Buchanan Suspended Amid (Meth Lab?) Investigation By State

Location: 
Stillwater, OK
United States
Publication/Source: 
More Bad Cop News
URL: 
http://www.morebadcopnews.com/veteran-payne-county-oklahoma-deputy-sheriff-brooke-buchanan-suspended-amid-meth-lab-investigation-by-state.html

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Busy, busy, busy. Judges on cocaine, cops dealing cocaine, cops selling ecstasy, Air Force pilots smuggling ecstasy, police chemists pilfering from the evidence pile, and, of course, jail guards smuggling dope into prisons. Let's get to it:

In Las Cruces, New Mexico, the state Judicial Standards Commission filed a petition last Friday seeking the removal of a Dona Ana County magistrate on the grounds he tested positive for cocaine, according to the Associated Press. Magistrate Carlos Garza, 42, has denied using drugs and vowed to fight the move. Garza has been suspended by the commission since September 20, when he failed to comply with a commission order he submit to a drug test. According to the commission, he has since failed another drug test. The commission also accused Garza of trying to pressure a Mesilla deputy marshal during a traffic stop where the judge was in a car with a woman "with whom he had a personal relationship" and asking a court clerk to clear the woman's license early in a drunk driving case. He was put on probation by the Judicial Standards Commission earlier this year in that case, and he said the charge he used cocaine was a continuation of a commission vendetta against him. He said the cocaine metabolites found in his system could have been received through "passive exposure." Garza is running unopposed for reelection in next month's elections.

[Ed: Whether to include mere drug use/possession by criminal justice personnel among the examples of corruption is a dilemma Drug War Chronicle routinely faces. We've opted so far to include them, because a judge who uses illegal drugs may also be a judge who presides over trials of, and pronounces sentences on, other drug users who have only done the same thing (hypocrisy); and because the judge is violating a law he has sworn to uphold (it being a law with which we disagree notwithstanding). Still, it bears reminder that there is a difference between drug use even by police or judges vs. profiting from the drug trade or other examples of official misconduct.]

In Durham, North Carolina, a Durham County sheriff's deputy has been arrested in a drug raid at a local bar and two more deputies have been fired for working security there. Deputy Michael Owens, the owner of the raided bar, was charged along with four others with trafficking cocaine and conspiracy to traffic cocaine, and he faces the additional charge of maintaining a building for the purposes of distributing cocaine. Deputies Brad King and Keith Dotson, who worked off-duty as security for the club, were suspended that same night, the Durham Herald Sun reported, and fired early this week. Authorities reported seizing 1.4 ounces of cocaine during the raid.

In Biloxi, Mississippi, a former Biloxi police officer pleaded guilty last Friday to selling ecstasy, the Biloxi Sun Herald reported. Darrell Cvitanovich, who resigned from the force after his arrest, faces up to 30 years in prison after he admitted selling four ecstasy tablets to a friend. Cvitanovich, who is the son of a former Biloxi police chief, was arrested in June 2005 after an investigation into allegations he was involved in drug activities. During a search of his home, police found 11 ecstasy tablets and a small amount of methamphetamine. He was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and transfer of a controlled substance, but pleaded last week to the single sales charge. Cvitanovich is free on $50,000 bond pending sentencing.

In New York City, a US Air National Guard pilot who took an Air Force jet to Germany and carried back 200,000 ecstasy tablets was sentenced last Friday to 17 ½ years in prison. Capt. Franklin Rodriguez, 36, and his coconspirator, Master Sgt. John Fong, 37, had pleaded guilty in federal court after being busted for the April 2005 flight. Fong awaits sentencing. The pair went down after federal law enforcement agents watched Fong load 28 bags into a BMW sedan and found them filled with ecstasy tablets, according to the Associated Press. Prosecutors said Rodriguez had repeatedly flown drugs on military flights, bringing hundreds of thousands of ecstasy tablets to the US. The feds found more than $700,000 cash in his apartment. They have it now.

In Philadelphia, a former civilian chemist for the Philadelphia Police Department was arrested October 11 on charges she stole drugs for her own use, the Associated Press reported. Colleen Brubaker, 30, came under suspicion in April and resigned in May. Authorities now accuse her of grabbing pain-relieving opiates like Oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin to feed her own habit. She is charged with drug possession, theft, receiving stolen property, tampering with evidence, obstruction, tampering with public records or information, and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. Since Brubaker was the chemist responsible for hundreds of drug cases, public defenders are now looking into the possibility that some of them may have to be dismissed.

In Stillwater, Oklahoma, a Payne County sheriff's deputy has been suspended without pay pending an investigation by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, the Associated Press reported. Local officials are mum about exactly what Deputy Brooke Buchanan, a 13-year veteran of the department, is accused of doing, but they did confirm that a special prosecutor has been named in the investigation. The investigation could take several more weeks before any charges are filed.

In Lubbock, Texas, a Lubbock County jail guard was arrested Sunday night as she arrived at work carrying marijuana, KLBK-CBS 13 TV in Lubbock reported. Renata Hernandez, 26, is charged with introducing a prohibited substance into a correctional facility. She faces between two and ten years in prison. While sheriff's office spokesmen said they believed she was bringing the weed into the jail to sell it, they have not been able to prove that yet.

Guard pilot gets prison for flying drugs (AP, Poughkeepsie Journal)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061015/NEWS05/610150361/1009

Latin America: Tijuana Mayor Vows to Investigate Entire Police Force for Links to Drug Trade

The mayor of the Mexican border city of Tijuana, Jorge Hank Rhon, announced over the weekend that the entire municipal police force is to be investigated for involvement in the drug trade. The city is home to the Arellano Felix drug trafficking organization, one of the most powerful in Mexico. The group is locked in a bloody battle with the competing "Juarez cartel," led by the criminal heirs of the legendary Amado Carrillo Fuentes, known as the "Lord of the Skies" before his death in 1997. Dozens of people have been killed this year in Tijuana in battles between the rival groups.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/tijuanalogo.gif
Tijuana police logo (courtesy DrugWar.com)
Tensions have worsened in the city since the August arrest of Francisco Javier Arellano Felix by US authorities off the Baja California coast in August. Since then, violence has escalated, and the dead include at least five police officers from city, state, or federal agencies, including assistant Tijuana police chief Arturo Rivas Vaca, who was gunned down in his patrol car in mid-September.

After that incident, Tijuana officials accused federal law enforcement officials of not doing enough to help fight the traffickers, which prompted an unusually testy response from the federal attorney general's office. In a communiqué issued in late September, the office accused Mayor Rhon and Tijuana secretary of public safety Luis Javier Algorri Franco of "complacency or direct complicity" with the drug traffic.

Rhon was also facing pressure from powerful Tijuana business interests worried that the corruption and violence could affect their bottom lines. The major business group in the city, the Entrepreneurial Coordinating Council, had announced last month it was boycotting public functions until local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies began working together, and last week, it threatened to move businesses from the city unless something was done.

That is apparently what prompted Rhon's weekend call for a mass investigation of the municipal police. While police corruption in Tijuana has been endemic for years -- local police report 66 of their own arrested in the past six months -- it is the open political spat between Rhon and Mexico City that greased the wheels for the investigation and the pressure from business that made it happen.

"Everyone from the policeman on the beat to the state police superintendent will be subject to this investigation," Rhon told a weekend press conference.

"We haven't waited for anyone to come from outside to help us with the theme of corruption," Algorri said in the weekend press conference announcing the mass investigation of Tijuana's 2,300 police. Algorri added that it was unfair to single out the city police. "The problem of corruption in police agencies is a reality, and all of the police agencies have problems with corruption," he said.

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A tawdry tale out of Tulsa, a New York cop gets off easy, and the Boston Police aren't sure where all the dope went. Just another week of drug prohibition-related police corruption. Let's get to it:

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/tulsa.jpg
hot times in Tulsa
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the husband of an exotic dancer is shining a light on some sordid business involving a pair of Tulsa Police Department officers. The lawsuit was filed by Shannon Coyle, the husband of dancer Crystal Garr. Coyle was arrested on drug charges last year by Officer Travis Ludwig, after Coyle filed an internal affairs complaint against Ludwig because Ludwig was sleeping with Garr. Coyle was arrested first on marijuana possession charges, then again on methamphetamine and paraphernalia charges in raids led by Ludwig. When Coyle found out Ludwig was sleeping with his wife, he text-messaged him, warning him to stay away. Ludwig then took those messages to a deputy prosecutor who okayed another arrest for Coyle, this time for intimidating a witness -- Ludwig. All the charges were dropped once officials became aware of the affair, and Ludwig has been disciplined by the department, but he still faces Coyle's lawsuit. So does Officer Israel Rodriguez, whom Coyle also accuses of sleeping with his wife. Ludwig and Garr currently live together, although she remains married to Coyle, the father of her four children. Oh, by the way, the deputy prosecutor who okayed Coyle's third arrest? She had also been sleeping with the busy Ludwig. Read all about this Oklahoma law enforcement Peyton Place in the Tulsa World, which has in-depth coverage and a handy chart with all the players.

In New York City, a former NYPD narcotics detective got off easy last week when he was sentenced for robbing more than $740,000 from drug dealers over an eight-year period, Newsday reported. Former detective Julio Vasquez, 46, was among five NYPD cops arrested in the scheme, which unraveled when federal agents staking out a drug suspect saw him robbed by Vasquez and fellow cop Thomas Rachko. All of the other cops have pleaded guilty, too. Vasquez got a sweet six-year sentence from federal Judge Carol Amon on October 5 after prosecutors filed a letter saying he had cooperated with investigators. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, he would have faced between 17 and 22 years.

In Boston, an audit of the Boston Police drug depository has revealed that the department cannot account for some of the drugs seized over the years, the Boston Globe reported Sunday. Police Commissioner Albert Goslin told the Globe it was too early to suggest corruption and that the drugs -- seized as evidence over the years -- may just be lost. As the audit continues, three officers are trying to track down the drug evidence in some 190,000 cases, some dating back more than 20 years.

Mexican Police 'Probed on Drugs'--The entire police force in the Mexican city of Tijuana is to be investigated on suspicion of being involved in drug trafficking and organized crime

Location: 
Tijuana, BCN
Mexico
Publication/Source: 
BBC News
URL: 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5415018.stm

Book Review: "De los Maras a los Zetas: Los secretos del narcotrafico, de Colombia a Chicago" by Jorge Fernandez Menendez and Victor Ronquillo (Mexico City: Editorial Grijalbo, 2006, 290 pp. PB)

If one wishes an object lesson in the unintended consequences of drug prohibition, one need look no further than the other side of the Rio Grande. Like all borders, the US-Mexican border has always been the scene of a lively trade in contraband. Although the authors of "From the Maras to the Zetas: The Secrets of the Drug Trade, From Colombia to Chicago" don't get into the prehistory of Mexico's powerful drug trafficking organizations, way back in those halcyon days of the 1960s and 1970s, a lot of marijuana moved across that border, but it was a largely peaceful trade, often a family affair.

In 1982, when President Ronald Reagan, having declared a new war on drugs, sent Vice-President George H.W. Bush to Miami to head up a new effort to block the flood of Colombian cocaine flowing across the Caribbean to Florida, the Colombians adjusted by shifting smuggling routes through Mexico. The Colombian used existing smuggling networks, which since then have grown into a Frankenstein monster, not only in the eyes of the Mexican state, but also in the eyes of their Colombian counterparts, who have found themselves squeezed out of end-stage distribution to the US and the massive profits that followed.

Fueled by Colombian cocaine, American dollars, and American weaponry, in the past 20 years, Mexico's so-called "cartels" -- a misnomer for these brutally competitive trafficking organizations -- have corrupted legions of Mexican police, soldiers, and politicians, and murdered as many more. Every time the Mexican state, hounded by its partner to the north, tries to crack down on the cartels, the result is not social tranquility or the end of the drug trade, but bloody gang wars as the different organizations fight for position -- and the flow of drugs never seems to be affected.

In the past couple of years, the cartels have become so brazen and the death toll from the constant "ajuste de cuentas" ("adjusting of accounts" or "settling scores") so horrendous -- more than 1,500 last year and a like number so far this year -- that they appear to be working with impunity.

Enter Mexico City journalists Jorge Fernandez Menendez and Victor Ronquillo. With the drug trafficking groups beheading police and engaging in street battles with RPGs in Acapulco and wreaking mortal havoc along the US border, their timing couldn't be better because they aim to explain the murky workings of the Mexican drug trade. They study and report on Mara Salvatrucha, the much screamed about gang that grew out from the children of Salvadoran refugees in Los Angeles and other American cities (another lesson in unintended consequences) who learned all too well the ways of the thug life, then re-exported it back home to Central America. According to Fernandez and Ronquillo, Mara Salvatrucha controls much of the traffic in illegal immigrants and drugs -- on Mexico's southern border. But like the truly Mexican criminal organizations, its tentacles extend far to the north as well.

They also provide the skinny on the Zetas, the US-trained former anti-drug elite force that switched sides and now acts as the armed forces of Osiel Cardenas and the Gulf Cartel -- one more lesson in unintended consequences. Thanks to the paramilitary skills of the Zetas, Cardenas has been able to directly confront the Mexican state, as when his men killed six prison employees in Matamoros in early 2005 in retaliation for a federal government crackdown on imprisoned cartel leaders.

There is much, much more in between. Fernandez and Ronquillo warn that imprisoned cartel leaders spent part of their time behind bars buddying up with imprisoned leftist guerrillas and could be either learning tactical lessons or forging unholy alliances with them. Despite the apparent ideological differences between Marxist rebels and drug traffickers, the Mexican cartels have shown that when it comes to business they are nonpartisan. They will corrupt politicians of any party, make deals with whoever can benefit them, and kill those who get in their way.

The cartels circle around power. When the old-time PRI ran the government, the cartels corrupted the PRI. When the PAN government of President Vicente Fox came to power, they attempted to corrupt it, and as Fernandez and Ronquillo demonstrate, they have arguably succeeded. PANista politicians have been caught attending the funerals of leading narcos, PANista local administrations have been bought off, and the narcos even managed to place an associate in President Fox's inner circle before the taint of scandal drove him off.

But while Fernandez and Ronquillo are quite good in unraveling the mysteries of the cartels and explicating the results of decades of prohibitionist drug policy, they fail to make the leap to the next level. For them, "From the Maras to the Zetas" is a desperate wake-up call for the Mexican public and political class, a warning that the power of the cartels threatens the integrity of the Mexican state. They do not take the next step and ask if there is not a better way. But then again, they really don't have to -- the book itself is eloquent testimony to the corrupt and bloody legacy of prohibition in Mexico.

Yes, the book is only available in Spanish. It won't be much use to many of our North American readers, but Drug War Chronicle also goes out in Spanish and Portuguese, and perhaps if we can drum up a little interest here in Gringolandia, an American or Canadian publisher will print a translation. Goodness knows we get very little serious reporting up here about the Mexican drug war.

In the meantime, for you English-only speakers out there with an interest in this topic, I recommend the recent report from the Washington Office on Latin America, "State of Siege: Drug-Related Violence and Corruption in Mexico."

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

We have them at every stage of the criminal justice process this week, from arrest to guilty plea to sentencing. For a pair of greedy, wheeling-dealing cops in St. Louis and Miami, the ride through the criminal justice funhouse is just getting started. A former St. Paul cop has just copped a plea, and now former cops in Connecticut and Hawaii are heading to prison. Let's get to it:

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/miamidade.jpg
Miami-Dade Police Department patch (or item # 180033018469 on ebay)
In Miami, a Miami-Dade County police officer was arrested last Friday on cocaine trafficking charges, the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida announced in a press release the same day. Officer Errol Benjamin is accused of selling 13 pounds of coke while in uniform. He is charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and faces up to life in prison and a $4 million fine, the feds noted.

In St. Louis, a suburban Hillsdale, Missouri, police officer was indicted in an elaborate cocaine distribution conspiracy, the office of the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri announced in a press release last Friday. Hillsdale Police Sgt. Christopher Cornell conspired with a tow truck company operator to rip off drug dealers and resell their cocaine, the feds charged. The tow operator would set up drug runners to deliver cocaine in Hillsdale and notify Cornell, who would stop and jail them for minor violations, leaving their cars at the roadside. The towing company would then tow the cars, steal the drugs, and resell them. US Attorney Catherine Hanaway estimated that the scheme had brought in $2.4 million in profits. The indictment seeks the forfeiture of Cornell's property, including a Mercedes Benz and other cars.

In St. Paul, Minnesota, a retired St. Paul police officer pleaded guilty last Friday to possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. Clemmie Howard Tucker, a 23-year veteran who retired in 1998, was busted trying to pick up 22 pounds of cocaine and 12 pounds of meth at the Greyhound Bus Depot in neighboring Minneapolis. Police put the value of the seized drugs at $4 million. Although Tucker was tearful and contrite during his plea, it doesn't matter: He faces a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence. Pending cocaine charges will probably be dropped at sentencing, Tucker's lawyer said.

In Bridgeport, Connecticut, a former Bridgeport police officer was sentenced to 45 months in prison for peddling oxycodone, the active ingredient in the popular pain reliever OxyContin. Former Officer Jeffrey Streck, 40, a 10-year veteran, pleaded guilty in January to conspiring to possess oxydone with the intent to distribute after being arrested by the FBI in 2005. According to the Associated Press, Streck was arrested as part of a three-month investigation into large-scale cocaine and marijuana trafficking and had arranged an Oxycontin buy.

In Honolulu, a Honolulu police officer who pleaded guilty to selling more than $5,000 worth of methamphetamine to an undercover informant was sentenced to five years and five months in prison on September 28, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported. Robert Henry Sylva, 50, had faced three counts of distributing meth during 2004, but copped to one count in a December plea agreement. Although Sylva faced an federal advisory guideline sentencing range of 7 to 12 years, US District Judge David Ezra cut him some slack at federal prosecutors' request after they said he had cooperated with investigators after being busted.

Officer who stole drugs fights for job (Ottawa Citizen, Canada)

Location: 
United States
URL: 
http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/city/story.html?id=92f9f5ca-cfe5-414c-b6ee-63dd2fbb88e2&k=7022

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