Latest Drug War News

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!

Shop online at and a percentage of each purchase will be donated to our cause! More than 600 top stores are participating!

The Internet Our Website

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact

In the News

Drug cops assault kids' birthday party

In Vancouver, British Columbia, a drug raid turned into an armed assault on a child's birthday party.

"They shot the dog in front of all the children. There's blood on the baby, blood on the children, all these screaming children," neighbor Jennifer Fraser frantically told a local television station.

Outside the house a large "Happy Birthday" banner did not deter police from their mission. The owner of the house was charged with possession of drugs.

Dutch have fewer drug users than thought

The Netherlands has significantly fewer cannabis users than its reputation as a soft drugs haven might suggest, according to a report released in January. The study, conducted by Amsterdam University and the Central Bureau of Statistics, found 15.6 percent of Dutch people aged 12 and over had used or tried cannabis, versus a U.S. figure of 32.9 percent. The Dutch study spanned 1997 and early 1998.

"The figures show that a repressive drugs policy, as implemented in the U.S., does not necessarily reduce drugs use," the Dutch study said. The findings run counter to remarks made by U.S. Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey, who has harshly criticized Dutch drug policy.

Most New York drug offenders nonviolent

January 7, 1999 - Newly obtained official data confirm the need for reform of New York's drug laws. Nearly 80% of the drug offenders who received prison sentences in 1997 had never been convicted of a violent felony, and almost half had never even been arrested for a violent crime. One in four drug offenders in prison was convicted of simple possession.

Justice denied on the border

A senior FBI agent and a Texas Ranger contends the military obstructed an inquiry of the death of 18-year-old Ezekiel Hernandez. A grand jury may investigate the matter for a third time.

Ranger Sgt. David Duncan told the San Antonio Express News,"The federal government came in and stifled the investigation. It's really depressing."

He referred to the death of young Hernandez, killed May 20, 1997, as he herded his family's goats. In August, the Navy Department, which oversees the Marine Corps, agreed without admitting wrongdoing to pay $1.9 million to the Hernandez family to settle a wrongful death claim against the government.

Too many federal crimes?

Demanding a fundamental change in the nation's crime-fighting strategy, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist recently called on Congress to halt the politically popular practice of enacting federal laws against an ever-greater number of crimes once handled in state courts.

"The trend to federalize crimes that traditionally have been handled in state courts . . . threatens to change entirely the nature of our federal system," Rehnquist said in his year-end report on the federal judiciary.

U.S. introduces 'doggie downers'

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first two drugs to treat behavioral problems in dogs. One of the drugs, a meat-flavored pill called Clomicalm, treats separation anxiety, a common ailment among dogs who miss their owners.

DEA admits major bust only makes temporary dent

A DEA official contends that the dismantling of a drug ring alleged to have sold a ton of cocaine in Wisconsin over the past few years "is going to make a major dent in the trafficking pattern for now."

However, Agent Raymond Melick conceded the area cocaine supply likely would be affected for only a few months or so, until new suppliers fill the void.

Michigan woman freed from life sentence

Finally free after 21 years in prison, JeDonna Young was released under a law relaxing sentences for drug crimes. Ms. Young, 44, left the Scott Regional Correctional Facility in suburban Plymouth one week after the state parole board unanimously agreed to release her.

She was driving with her boyfriend James Gulley in 1978 when Detroit police stopped her car and found nearly 3 pounds of heroin. Gulley said it was his; Ms. Young said she didn't know it was there. Both were convicted under an unforgiving anti-drug law that mandated life in prison. Gulley died in prison in 1997.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reluctantly upheld Ms. Young's conviction in 1989 but said it was unconvinced she was the kind of drug dealer the law was designed for. It suggested "the tiger trap may have sprung upon a sick kitten." Last year, the Legislature amended the lifer law to allow parole after 20 years.

Feds pay informant $2,000,000

The key informant in Operation Casablanca, the nation's biggest drug money laundering case, was paid more than $2 million to help federal prosecutors. About 40 Mexican and Venezuelan businessmen, bankers and alleged drug cartel members were arrested in May following the two-year U.S. Customs undercover operation. The U.S. performed this operation on Mexican soil without informing the Mexican government they were doing so. During a hearing before U.S. District Judge Lourdes Baird, defense attorneys argued that the payments amounted to bribery and government misconduct.

Citibank, money laundering and narco-dollars

Pursuant to a congressional request, the General Accounting Office has provided information on Raul Salinas de Gotari, brother of the former President of Mexico, Carlos Salinas de Gotari, and his alleged involvement in laundering drug cartel money out of Mexico through Citibank to accounts in Citibank affiliates in Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The report focuses on: (1) how Raul Salinas was able to transfer between $90 million and $100 million from Mexico into foreign accounts through Citibank and its affiliates; (2) what functions and assistance Citibank performed for Mr. Salinas; (3) whether Citibank's actions complied with applicable federal laws and regulations; and (4) a comparison of Citibank's practices during the Salinas transactions with its testimony in a 1994 money laundering trial.

Less drug treatment for prisoners

The proportion of new prison inmates who were drug users at the time of their arrest increased this decade, while drug treatment in state and federal prisons fell sharply, according to a study by the Justice Department.

"This is an unintended consequence of prison expansion," said Richard Rosenfeld, a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri at St. Louis. "Each time we spend a dollar on building a new prison or expanding an existing one, it is one less dollar for drug treatment."

Al Gore proclaims drug crisis

After 30 years of all-out-drug-war, the criminalization of millions upon millions of people, and over a trillion tax dollars spent, Al Gore told a town meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, "We have a crisis on our hands!" Of course, officials of the DEA agreed, and say meth and heroin use is a rising epidemic throughout the country.

'Suspect' sues hospital

Quadriplegic Louis Berrios, 32, filed a lawsuit in December in New York City against Our Lady of Mercy Hospital for a June incident in which doctors turned him over to police because they thought his X-ray revealed bags of heroin in his stomach instead of what they were: bladder stones.

Is Narcing on a Narc a crime?

Florida's highest court is being asked to decide whether a man who disclosed the identity of two undercover officers was exercising his right to freedom of speech or hindering enforcement officials in the line of duty.

Wayne N. Davis was arrested in July 1991. A few weeks before, he had said to a friend "Those girls are narcs"' as two women came out of The Cork Bar on an Ocean City side street known for its drug trade. The two women, Bernadette DiPino and Alice Brumbley, were undercover officers. Davis first met the officers as he was bicycling on the boardwalk, and, according to the officers, expressed an interest in buying marijuana.

CA Prop 215 still under fire

The founder of Orange County's first medical-marijuana co-op was sentenced to six years in prison despite pleas from more than two dozen supporters saying his crimes were acts of mercy. Lawyers for Marvin Chavez will appeal.

In addition, Libertarian Party candidate for governor Steve Kubby and his wife Michelle are facing charges for manufacuture of cannabis. Kubby suffers from adrenal cancer.

Hungry children in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma Human Services believes the link between substance abuse and welfare is so strong that they will be giving each new client a written exam to determine whether they have a tendency to abuse drugs or alcohol.

If the exam shows such a tendency, the client will be required to give a urine sample for drug analysis. A positive test will require treatment and counseling­­or benefits will be cut-off.

The written test will also be given to welfare clients who are not following their prescribed plans and eventually may be used for those who are recertified for benefits from the Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) program.

Inmate beaten to death

Thomas Pizzuto was fatally beaten in a Nassau County, New York jail. Attorney Dennis Kelly, who is representing Pizzuto's family, produced a dramatic taped interview with an inmate who witnessed the attack. According to the witness, Pizzuto pled with county correction officers to stop beating him. Pizzuto had just begun a 90-day sentence for drunk driving.

Kelly said that Pizzuto was forced to sign a statement saying that he sustained the bruises in a fall. The county medical examiner has ruled Pizzuto's death a homicide.

Pizzuto, who died two days after the brutal assault, was married and the father of a teenage son.

New York police kill unarmed man

Amadou "Ahmed" Diallo, a 22-year-old immigrant from West Africa was shot and killed by four officers who were searching for a serial rapist, police said.

The officers fired a total of 41 shots and an autopsy found Diallo was shot 19 times in the legs, torso, back, arm and chest. Diallo, who had no criminal record, was unarmed, said a police source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Three of the four officers, all assigned to the 43rd Precinct in the Bronx, have been involved in prior shooting incidents.

ABA drug study at odds with Drug Czar

Increased drug arrests and longer prison sentences have not slowed illegal drug use, according to a study by the nation's largest organization of lawyers. The American Bar Association's Criminal Justice Section found that illicit drug use increased 7% from 1996-1997 to 14 million people.

The study, which included adults, contradicted results of a study earlier this year by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. That study showed drug use in decline.

The ABA study found that 1.2 million people were arrested on drug charges in 1997, a 73% increase over the number of people arrested in 1992. The increase in arrests resulted in no decrease in drug use, the study says. These statistics show the policy of arrest and incarceration simply does not work.

Top New York judge urges easing of drug laws

New York's harsh Rockefeller drug laws should be eased to cut prison sentences for some nonviolent offenders and to divert others into drug treatment programs, the state's chief judge said in her address to the state judiciary. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Judith Kaye acknowledged that her call for changes in an established criminal statute was unusual but said it was appropriate given the state's quarter-century of experience with the drug laws.

Clinton approves Mexican drug war

President Clinton praised the "sincerity and valor of the Mexican campaign against drugs and drug-related corruption" while introducing a new 'comprehensive' drug strategy at a press conference in Mexico.

Clinton has to report to Congress on the cooperation of nations viewed as major drug traffickers. A negative recommendation, or 'decertification', would precipitate American trade and economic sanctions against Mexico and send relations into a crisis.

Mexico's President Ernesto Zedillo called the initiative "the most ambitious strategy in our history of combatting narcotics."

Pentagon says no more troops for anti-drug patrols

After the shooting death of teenager, Esequiel Hernandez Jr., by a U.S. Marine, the Pentagon has ordered an end to routine use of ground troops for anti-drug missions along the Mexican border, according to Defense Department officials.

Defense Secretary William Cohen had suspended the use of armed troops on U.S. soil in July 1997. The new policy replaces the suspension, adding the provision that personnel and equipment can still be used in counter drug smuggling operations, contigent to express approval of Department of Defense authorities. The decision was reached in October but not made public until late January.

From 1989 to 1997, ground troops conducted 799 anti-drug missions coordinated by an El Paso-based joint task force. Now permission must come from the secretary of defense or his deputy.


Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact