In the News

Cops on drugs

According to The Denver Post, a growing number of applicants for police jobs have admitted prior illegal drug use. It's a national problem, they say.
Paul Torres, executive director of the Denver Civil Service Commission, told the Post that up to 70 percent of the applicants for police jobs in Denver admit to some type of illegal drug use. "It's the rule rather than the exception any more," he stated.

Killers of teenage informant sentenced

In 1999 17-year-old Chad McDonald of Brea, California was viciously beaten and murdered for working as a police drug informant, while his girlfriend was raped, shot in the face and left for dead.
In January his killers were sentenced to life in prison without parole. The officials who cynically coerced MacDonald to work as an informant face no penalties whatsoever. Police in Brea acknowledge that MacDonald was recruited as an informant after he was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, but claim he was no longer working for them when he was murdered.

Feds "missing" a lot of drugs

In early December, the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) released a report detailing an ongoing problem: drugs are constantly disappearing from federal evidence lockers and labs, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) can't explain why. Among the losses:
Over 50 grams of cocaine missing from a packet of evidence slated to be destroyed.
About 300 grams of cocaine disappeared from one sample at a southwestern DEA lab, with another 200 grams later missing from the same lab.
Bags of marijuana kept in the DEA's Miami office lost 25 pounds, or half the weight from the time the haul was seized.
DEA agents told congressional investigators that "natural evaporation could account for some of the shortages."
In many cases, according to Donnie Marshall, acting director of the DEA, agents did not properly weigh their evidence samples before sending them on to labs or evidence lockers. The GAO noted that the issue of the weights is critical because the amount of drugs seized is the primary factor in establishing prison sentences upon conviction.

Scott lawsuit settled for $5 million

In 1992 Donald P. Scott awoke to the sounds of 20 or more heavily armed, black-hooded men crashing through the front door of his $5 million, 200-acre ranch near the Los Angeles-Ventura county line. Understandably alarmed and still half-asleep, he grabbed his pistol from the nightstand and headed downstairs to protect his family. He was shot dead by agents of a multi-jurisdictional drug task force, who later claimed they were acting on an 'anonymous tip'.
In January 2000, Los Angeles County and the federal government tentatively agreed to pay $5 million to the Scott family. No drugs were ever found on the estate, and the survivors of Mr. Scott contend authorities staged the raid to seize the ranch under drug-forfeiture laws. Officials deny those charges, but said they agreed to settle the lawsuit because they feared jurors would not believe government agents.

Police killed their patriarch

A lawsuit filed in Los Angeles for the survivors of a police shooting victim tells a story of death and terror inflicted on a family by mistake. SWAT officers in camouflage and black ski masks shot their way into the Compton home of Mario Paz just before midnight August 9, 1999 and shot the 65-year-old grandfather in the back as he kneeled beside his bed. But the raid yielded no drugs, no arrests, and no charges were ever filed.
His widow, Maria, said that as she was handcuffed and led outside she heard an officer say, "I think we hit the wrong house."
"At the time the shots were fired, Mario Paz Sr., clad only in his underwear, was kneeling beside his bed with both hands resting on top of the bed," said family attorney Johnnie Cochran. "In my 37 years of practicing law this case is one of the most egregious I've ever seen, an outrage for everyone."

240 year sentence - plus probation?

In Buffalo, New York, Luis "Danny" Cruz, 21, was sentenced to 240 years by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara, who lamented that he had no choice in the matter. Then Cruz was told he also must complete 8 years probation.
Defense attorney John J. Lavin told The Buffalo News that Cruz was arrested for selling an amount of cocaine that would barely fill a coffee cup.
Federal prosecutors boasted Cruz has set a record for the longest sentence ever under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

Cops use 14-year-old in drug deal

Tucson, Arizona undercover officers knowingly bought $2,980 worth of cocaine from a 14-year-old boy before arresting him and two adults. Because of the multiple drug transactions, the boy is now facing a possible 150 year prison sentence.
Defense attorney D. Jesse Smith has publicly accused the officers in The Arizona Daily Star of committing a series of felony offenses - felony child abuse, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and use of a minor in a drug transaction - far more serious than what they were investigating.
"The issue is we didn't put him into business and we weren't making him sell drugs. That's a decision he made," said Tucson police Capt. Kermit Miller.

Hunch not enough for search

The Nebraska Supreme Court has decided in a 7-0 opinion that simply acting nervous does not justify detaining a motorist after a routine traffic stop, concluding that "reasonable suspicion amounts to more than just a hunch."
The court ruled that the drugs gathered from the resulting search of Christopher Anderson's vehicle - 230 pounds of marijuana - should not have been admitted into evidence. Anderson's three-year sentence has been set aside pending retrial, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

Jury acquits entrapped defendant

Edwin Rodriguez, 32, and 58 other workers were arrested in August at Miami International Airport and charged with conspiring, to smuggle guns and drugs onto American Airlines passenger planes. A Miami federal court jury acquitted him of all charges.
The employees thought the drug ring was run by a major dealer. In fact, the ring was a fake, completely organized and operated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Customs and the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Rodriguez's attorney, Louis Casuso, argued that the entire operation amounted to entrapment. Casuso said the federal agents dangled $15,000 in front of Rodriguez to get him to carry the contraband on the airliner.
"Jurors don't like entrapment, and that's exactly what this was," Casuso told the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

Wyoming sheriffs are tough on feds

Bighorn County Sheriff Dave Mattis has served notice that all federal officials are forbidden to enter his county without his prior approval, and risk arrest and custody if they do so.
Sheriff Mattis stated: "I am reacting to the actions of federal employees who have attempted to deprive citizens of my county of their privacy, their liberty, and their property without regard to constitutional safeguards. I hope that more sheriffs all across America will join us in protecting their citizens from the illegal activities of the IRS, EPA, DEA, BATF, FBI, or any other federal agency that is operating outside the confines of constitutional law. [Federal agents] are no longer welcome in Bighorn County unless they intend to operate in conformance to constitutional law."
Mattis and other members of the Wyoming Sheriffs' Association brought a suit against the federal government in the Wyoming Federal District Court district seeking restoration of the protections enshrined in the United States Constitution and the Wyoming Constitution. The court ruled in favor of the sheriffs, stating that, "Wyoming is a sovereign state and the duly elected sheriff of a county is the highest law enforcement official within a county and has law enforcement powers exceeding that of any other state or federal official."
The sheriffs are also demanding that federal agencies immediately cease the seizure of private property and the impoundment of private bank accounts without regard to due process in state courts.

Customs using X-rated X-rays

According to a press release from the National Libertarian Party, U.S. Customs can now peer right through your clothing at airport security checkpoints. The high resolution imaging machines, called the BodySearch, are already in operation at JFK Airport in New York and five other major airports around the country, and will be installed in every large airport in the USA by June.
"Since airport officials don't need a search warrant to use these X-rated X-rays, everyone from your teenage daughter to your grandmother can be technologically stripped stark naked - in stark violation of their right to privacy," warned Steve Dasbach, Libertarian Party national director.

Giuliani's war on civil rights

New York Mayor Rudolph (rhymes with Adolph) Giuliani seems intent on completely eviscerating the U.S. Constitution. His latest plan is to seize and auction off cars for traffic violations.
"If you get arrested for reckless driving to the point that we can charge you with a misdemeanor, we're going to take your automobile from you. And we're going to take your automobile from you because we're entitled to it" Giuliani announced during his latest State of the City address in January.
Under the new seizure policy, police are instructed to watch for behavior that "unreasonably endangers others", such as speeding, driving too close to another vehicle, or excessive lane changes.