In the News

Britain, U.S. split over Colombian drug war

According to wire service reports, a split has emerged between Britain and the United States over the anti-drug war in Colombia, with a top British official criticizing the Clinton administration for pumping in military aid despite human rights violations of the Colombian regular and irregular military forces.
British Cabinet Minister Mo Mowlam also voiced opposition to the widespread use of herbicides on drug crops - a major component of the U.S.-backed strategy.

The statements reveal that opposition to the U.S.-backed military offensive stretches across the Atlantic. Neighboring Latin American countries already have expressed fears that the war on drugs will destabilize the region. Colombian human rights groups have refused to accept U.S. aid as part of the plan which, they believe, spends too much on the military and not enough on social programs.

After drug buy, detective kills man trying to rob him

An undercover narcotics detective who, minutes before, had bought $30 worth of heroin in a buy-and-bust operation in Brooklyn shot and killed a man who tried to rob him, according to a report from the New York Times. On October 20th police said the man confronted the detective at 11:50 a.m. in front of 371 Troutman Street in Bushwick, about half a block from where the detective had just bought three $10 glassine envelopes of heroin.

Through mid-October 2000, 25 suspects have been shot by the police this year, a 26 percent decrease over the same period last year, when 34 were shot, according to figures provided by the Police Department. Of the 25 suspects shot this year, 10 died and 15 were wounded. Last year, 10 suspects were killed and 24 wounded.

How Britain's cannabis debate unfolded

At the Tory Party Conference in early-October 2000 Shadow Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe announces controversial proposals to introduce on-the-spot fines of UKP 100 to drug users. Her comments spark a backlash from drug campaigners and police unions, saying they are unworkable, brand recreational users as criminals and will not solve the drug problem.

Two days after the Conference six senior Tories admit they have tried cannabis at university, undermining Miss Widdecombe's proposals. Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy calls for legalization of the drug.
Source: News & Star (UK)

Cannabis safer than aspirin

Cannabis is a safer drug than aspirin and can be used long-term without serious side effects, says a book by a leading Oxford scientist. The Science of Marijuana, by Dr Leslie Iversen of Oxford University's department of pharmacology, found many beliefs surrounding marijuana use - such as extreme addictiveness, or links with mental illness or infertility - are not supported by science.

He also found cannabis is an inherently 'safe drug', and legalizing it for medical conditions should be considered, Dr. Iversen says.

California breaks record in marijuana seizures

The state's marijuana harvest is in, and law enforcement officers seized a bumper crop-they seized a bumper crop and know that operations are growing in size. Working mostly on public lands and in Central Valley counties, officers harvested 345,207 marijuana plants - 43 percent more than last year's record - valued at $1.3 billion.

Source: Sacramento Bee (CA), October 2000

Are random drug checkpoints legal?

You are in a car heading across town to an important meeting - late, as usual. On the highway ahead, you notice a flashing sign and a police officer waving all the cars off to the side of the road. An officer asks to see your license and registration and says you have been stopped at a narcotics checkpoint. While the officer verifies your paperwork, another officer leads a drug-sniffing dog around the car.

School board votes to test band and debate club members for drugs

Wylie (Texas) school trustees decided October 3rd to extend the district's new random drug and alcohol testing policy to include students in band, debate and choir. These groups were not included earlier when trustees gave final approval to the plan to randomly test junior high school and high school students who participate in extracurricular activities. The revised plan requires all students in grades seven through twelve involved in extracurricular activities to undergo random drug testing.

Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)

Fatal heroin dose traced to contaminated Afghan soil

Scientists who have been tracing the source of contamination of heroin which has killed 59 drug addicts in Ireland, Britain and Scotland believe the original source of the (fatal, clostridial) infection was likely to have been an infected animal in Afghanistan.

This infection was then passed into the soil and entered the crop. British scientists have identified a common soil bacterium, clostridium nouyi, as the likely source of the mystery killer.

Source: Sunday Independent (Ireland), October 2000

Colonel whose wife trafficked drugs fired

An Army colonel who pled guilty earlier this year to charges of laundering cash from his wife's drug deals while he headed U.S. anti-drug operations in Colombia has been fired by the Army.

Col. James C. Hiett, a 24-year veteran, has been dropped from Army personnel rolls and as a result will receive no military retirement pay, spokesman Lt. Col. Russell Oaks said Monday. Oaks said Hiett cannot appeal the decision.

Army public affairs officials said they did not know how to reach Hiett to respond to media requests for comment.

A federal judge in July sentenced Hiett to five months in prison, five months of home confinement and one year probation. Hiett pleaded guilty in April to charges he tried to launder $25,000, proceeds from drug shipments his wife made from a post office in the U.S. Embassy in Bogota to New York City.

Laurie Hiett pleaded guilty in January to charges she shipped packages containing $700,000 worth of heroin and cocaine. She is serving a five-year sentence.

James Hiett was U.S. military group commander at the embassy in Bogota at the time. In that job, he was in chare of all U.S. military activities in Colombia, including highly sensitive counterdrug operations.

A break for Houston

A marijuana-possession case against Whitney Houston will be dismissed in three months if she meets certain undisclosed conditions, according to her attorneys. The petty misdemeanor charge stemmed from a Jan. 11 incident at Keahole-Kona International Airport in Hawaii Island, when a security guard seized Houston's handbag, and police reported it contained half an ounce of marijuana. Houston and her husband, Bobby Brown, boarded a flight to San Francisco before police arrived. Houston faced a possible penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Source: Spokesman Review, Ocober 2000

Tobacco firms face smuggling lawsuit

The European Union has filed a civil suit in a New York court against U.S. tobacco companies Phillip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, alleging they are involved in smuggling cigarettes into the 15-nation Union.

According to wire service reports, the lawsuit filed recently in a New York court alleges the two companies violated the U.S. Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, EU Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer said.
The European commission, the EU's executive body, is seeking compensation for financial losses suffered by the EU and an injunction to prevent further smuggling.

EU officials would not say how much compensation the Commission is seeking, but they allege that losses from cigarette smuggling run into billions of dollars.

Philip Morris issued a statement regretting the EU's decision and offering to help fight the trade in contraband cigarettes. Japan Tobacco, which acquired R.J. Reynolds' international tobacco business last year, said it had not yet seen the complaint.

Federal Prison Camp To Begin Housing Female Inmates

Warden Charles R. Gilkey has announced the minimum-security Federal Prison Camp, Greenville, Illinois, will experience a change in mission to house only female inmates. An exact date for this change has not yet been established, but it is anticipated that it will occur over the next several months. Male camp inmates will be transferred to other federal facilities before the Greenville Prison Camp receives any female inmates.

This change will effect only the Federal Prison Camp. The Federal Correctional Institution will continue to house male inmates.

The decision was made to convert the Greenville camp to house female inmates because of the need for bed space for female offenders in the North Central Region.