In the News

Bad cops, no drugs

Federal agents posing as high-stake drug dealers circulated fake narcotics throughout San Antonio, Texas and paid local police for protection and assistance with transportation. A San Antonio patrol sergeant, seven patrol officers, a Bexar County deputy sheriff, and a former Bexar County reserve deputy constable were charged with attempted possession and distribution, conspiracy, theft and firearms violations that ended an investigation beginning in 1997. Because the defendants believed that real drugs were being distributed, the fact that no drugs were involved has no relevance in the case. Eight law enforcement officers, entrusted to protect and serve, invoked the power of their guns and badges to ensure unencumbered distribution of what they had hoped to be millions of dollars of profit. - Source/Philadelphia Daily News

Too thin and white for prison?

Paul Hamill violated his parole on a previous cocaine conviction and was sent to a drug treatment center and given two years probation. Judge Florence Foster said that sending a "small, thin, white man with curly, dark hair" to the Florida state prison system would be "cruel and unusual punishment." Law professor Susan Rush (University of Florida, Gainesville) believes the judge's remarks were racist. Professor Bruce Rogow (Nova Southeastern University of Davie, Fla.) praised Foster for recognizing that Paul Hamill is a drug addict whose life could be endangered behind bars by sexual predators.

Prosecutors objected to the light sentence, having previously complained that Judge Foster is not harsh enough with drug offenders. Foster did not discuss Hamill's case specifically with AP reporters, but said that she wants to "help people ... get rid of their drug problems."

The judge believes that prison terms for drug addicts are "cruel and unusual punishment(s)" whether the person is skinny, white, black or obese. In her judgement, Mr. Hamill's punishment may have been more severe because of his frailty and physical attraction. She also acknowledged that passive drug addicts should not be punished in a violent and predatory prison culture that provides no rehabilitative paths for the confined.
Source: wire service reports

When smuggling gets tough, smugglers get creative

As necessity is the mother of invention, the demand for drugs is mother of inventive smuggling. The guards at the Albuquerque jail must have wondered how many burritos had previously passed through security that were beans, cheese and heroin after one hungry guard helped himself to the Mexican specialty en route to inmates. While noshing on the south-of-the-border treat, he noticed something crunchy as he gulped down his pilfered snack. On closer inspection, he noticed that most of the frijoles had been replaced with black tar heroin. After a medical inspection it was determined the guard was fine and a trip to the Betty Ford Treatment Center would not be necessary.

Despite aggressive drug detection methods, smugglers are continually coming up with innovative ways to transport drugs. Cocaine is sewn into wigs, inserted under animal skin and hidden in breast implants. Tennis balls loaded with drugs are tossed over prison fences. Heroin and LSD are hidden behind postage stamps. Prison employees and relatives deliver. An 85-year-old grandmother was recently convicted for having drugs stuffed in her bra while visiting her grandson in prison.

Drugs are smuggled in every conceivable stitch of clothing, in the soles of shoes, inserted in body cavities and ingested in balloons. In Miami, 163 tubes of toothpaste reputedly destined for a flea market aroused suspicion at the Miami International Airport. When customs inspectors demanded to examine Garcia St. Jean Jacob's two canvas bags, she was arrested. Instead of a hundred-year supply of an effective decay preventive dentifrice, the tubes were filled with $350,000 worth of powder cocaine.

A Jules Verne-ish drug smuggling submarine was discovered in the mountains west of Bogota, Colombia last September. The 138-foot vessel was to be trucked in sections to the coast, assembled and launched. And though mini subs have been confiscated in drug conspiracies prior, nothing compared to this high-tech craft--complete with Russian instruction manual translated in Spanish--has ever been detected by drug enforcement agencies. Yet, there is no way of knowing if this technological tool worthy of a sovereign naval force is one of many but just didn't get away.

As investigators improve methods of surveillance, smugglers find new ways to avoid detection. Demand is the mother of invention, and there will always be a host of ingenious smugglers capable of staying ahead of the law in order to supply the $500 billion a year black market in illegal drugs. - Sources/Spokesman Review, Albuquerque Journal, AP, LA Times

Executive job wanted

The Toronto National Post ran an employment ad for Brian O'Dea in February 2001 that touted executive skills that had his phone "ringing off the hook", reported the paper two weeks later. Conversant in three languages with "security" experience and prior management of 120 employees in a $100-million enterprise are rare qualifications, indeed. Not all companies are comfortable with a high-level marijuana smuggler in upper management, though his dossier is undoubtedly impressive.

O'Dea reportedly served part of a 10-year sentence in the 1990s for smuggling 75 tons of marijuana throughout the western United States and is now seeking an executive position in a firm where the money isn't laundered. O'Dea says he completed his sentence without incident and has been drug-free for 13 years. Yet, he has found that being on parole is not a qualification most employers are looking for, which has made it difficult to support his family. His four column-inch ad, headlined "former marijuana smuggler," appeals to an employer inclined to overlook the nature of O'Dea's previous employment while appreciating his unique marketing, distribution and security experience.

Crack baby myth exposed as drug war rhetoric

An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association dated March 28th debunks the entire "crack baby" phenomenon. Alan Leshner, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said the effects of prenatal cocaine exposure "are not nearly as dramatic as people initially thought," among a lot of other things. An accompanying editorial by Dr. Wency Chavkin of Columbia University said the crack baby "has become a convenient symbol for an aggressive war on drug users because of the implication that anyone who is selfish enough to irreparably damage a child for the sake of a quick high deserves retribution." Hasn't it ever! - (Thanks to Breeze in Madison for this item.)