Tagged: drugs

Internal corruption is what the Border Patrol really needs to crack down on


John Carnett/PopSci

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency, is vulnerable to “systematic corruption” by drug cartels, smugglers and other criminals, and investigations of its internal abuses are “chronically slow,” according to a Homeland Security Department report that reveals glaring problems in the agencies that police the nation’s borders.

The abuses are so widespread that Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of the Border Patrol, should add nearly 350 criminal investigators to target internal corruption and the use of excessive and unnecessary force against migrants, the report concludes. That would boost the internal affairs roster by nearly 166%.

Arrests of border agents and customs officers “far exceed, on a per capita basis, such arrests at other law enforcement agencies,” the…report notes.

“Until this is reversed, [Customs and Border Protection] remains vulnerable to corruption that threatens its effectiveness and national security,” warns the report, which was requested by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

The scathing assessment by the Homeland Security Advisory Council, an independent group that reports to Johnson, also is the latest to slam the Border Patrol for lack of accountability for hundreds of shootings by agents…

In May, the Customs and Border Protection internal affairs office absolved dozens of Border Patrol agents of criminal misconduct in 64 shooting incidents between January 2010 and October 2012, including 19 that resulted in deaths. The Justice Department is still considering charges in three other cases.

Yup. They investigated themselves.

Critics along the Southwest border and in Mexico long have argued that the Border Patrol operates with little transparency or accountability.

Indeed, one of the report’s recommendations is that agents and officers “must wear visible name tags identifying their last name on all uniforms at all times,” a practice that critics say is often ignored. A video posted online of a 21-year-old woman in New York state being Tased at a roadside checkpoint last month shows a Border Patrol supervisor wearing a green tactical vest with no visible name tag…

Vicki B. Gaubeca, co-chair of the Southern Border Communities Coalition…said the report showed how Customs and Border Protection “falls short of law enforcement best practices” and needed to change.

She said the recommendations would help change the Border Patrol “culture of ‘we need to do our job at whatever cost and the only life that seems to be valued is the life of the agent'”…

Understand that this service is probably hiring folks who don’t qualify for TSA. Doesn’t that inspire confidence?

Antihypertensive drug may remove major component of drug and alcohol addiction

image

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have successfully stopped cocaine and alcohol addiction in experiments using a drug already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat high blood pressure. If the treatment is proven effective in humans, it would be the first of its kind — one that could help prevent relapses by erasing the unconscious memories that underlie addiction…

Scientists once believed that drug addiction was simply a physical craving: Drug addicts who became sober and then later relapsed merely lacked willpower. But that view has gradually shifted since the 1970s.

Today, most experts acknowledge that environmental cues — the people, places, sights and sounds an addict experiences leading up to drug use — are among the primary triggers of relapses. It was an environmental cue (a ringing bell) that caused the dogs in Ivan Pavlov’s famous experiments to salivate, even when they couldn’t see or smell food.

Led by Hitoshi Morikawa…a team of researchers trained rats to associate either a black or white room with the use of a drug. Subsequently, when the addicted rats were offered the choice of going into either room, they nearly always chose the room they associated with their addiction.

Then one day, the researchers gave the addicted rats a high dose of an antihypertensive drug called isradipine before the rats made their choices. Although rats still preferred the room they associated with their addiction on that day, they no longer showed a preference for it on subsequent days. In fact, the lack of preference persisted in the isradipine-treated group in ways that couldn’t be found in a control group — suggesting the addiction memories were not just suppressed but had gone away entirely…

Addictive drugs are thought to rewire brain circuits involved in reward learning, forming powerful memories of drug-related cues. Antihypertensive drugs all block a particular type of ion channel, which is expressed not only in heart and blood vessels but also in certain brain cells. The researchers found that blocking these ion channels in brain cells, using isradipine, appears to reverse the rewiring that underlies memories of addiction-associated places…

“Addicts show up to the rehab center already addicted,” Hitoshi Morikawa said. “Many addicts want to quit, but their brains are already conditioned. This drug might help the addicted brain become de-addicted.”

Morikawa noted that because isradipine is already labeled as safe for human use by the FDA, clinical trials could potentially be carried out much more quickly than with nonapproved drugs.

Regular readers of my personal blog know I’m not especially positive about dealing with junkies. It’s just the streets where I grew up don’t ever seem to lose that population. I don’t spend much time on the range of reasons why – or why not. There hasn’t been any diminishing of my cynicism over a long, long time.

This sounds positive. This sounds potentially useful. My basics haven’t changed. I still think we can take the crime out of drugs by completely decriminalizing drug use. That removes most costs from addiction and from society. But, this is an addition to treatment worth following up on in serious research.

Stoned drivers safer for everyone than DWI

NHTSA

A new study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that drivers who use marijuana are at a significantly lower risk for a crash than drivers who use alcohol. And after adjusting for age, gender, race and alcohol use, drivers who tested positive for marijuana were no more likely to crash than who had not used any drugs or alcohol prior to driving.

So much for coppers and politicians who were certain easing laws on ganja were going to kill us all.

The chart above tells the story. For marijuana, and for a number of other legal and illegal drugs including antidepressants, painkillers, stimulants and the like, there is no statistically significant change in the risk of a crash associated with using that drug prior to driving. But overall alcohol use, measured at a blood alcohol concentration threshold of 0.05 or above, increases your odds of a wreck nearly seven-fold.

The study’s findings underscore an important point: that the measurable presence of THC (marijuana’s primary active ingredient) in a person’s system doesn’t correlate with impairment in the same way that blood alcohol concentration does. The NHTSA doesn’t mince words: “At the current time, specific drug concentration levels cannot be reliably equated with a specific degree of driver impairment…”

What we do need, however, are better roadside mechanisms for detecting marijuana-related impairment. Several companies are developing pot breathalyzers for this purpose.

We also need a lot more research into the effects of marijuana use on driving ability, particularly to get a better sense of how pot’s effect on driving diminishes in the hours after using. But this kind of research remains incredibly difficult to do, primarily because the federal government still classifies weed as a Schedule 1 substance, as dangerous as heroin.

Reinforcing for the umpteenth time that our government really doesn’t give a crap about accuracy, evidence-based conclusions or the truth about much that’s important.

Think about that while everyone from Congressional hacks to the White House to assorted media sycophants, right-wing and barely-left-wing do their level best to encourage our participation in jolly wars in Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Venezuela, Cuba, etc..

And, yes, let’s keep on picking up the tab for 750+ military bases around the world. Hey, we’re the richest country in the world, right? We can afford it.

Lots of ordinary citizens know the War on Terror, the War on Drugs – are just as [un]necessary as ever.

Drug cartel members link Mexican police to massacres of migrants


Meanwhile – Relatives of 43 missing students protest at the presidential residence in Mexico City –
– victims of the same interlocking directorate of government and gangsters in Mexico

With the Mexican government facing widespread public outrage over the alleged role of police and other officials in the September forced disappearance of 43 students, and the killings of at least six others, from Ayotzinapa Normal School, the country’s federal prosecutor (PGR) has for the first time declassified a document on the suspected participation of police in the kidnapping and massacre of hundreds of migrants in San Fernando massacres of 2010-11.

The new revelations, along with key U.S. documents on how violent drug cartels gained control of local police forces in parts of Mexico during the last decade, are the subject of “San Fernando-Ayotzinapa: las similitudes” (“San Fernando-Ayotzinapa: the similarities”), an article published online…in Mexico’s Proceso magazine in collaboration with Michael Evans and Jesse Franzblau of the National Security Archive.

According to declarations from members of the Los Zetas drug cartel named in the newly-declassified “Tarjeta Informativa” (“informative note” or “information memo”), the police acted as “lookouts” [“halconeo”] for the group, helped with “the interception of persons,” and otherwise turned a blind eye to the Zetas’ illegal activities.

Those crimes included the summary execution of 72 migrants pulled from intercity buses in San Fernando in August 2010 and an untold number of similar killings that culminated in the discovery, in April 2011, of hundreds more bodies in mass graves in the same part of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The victims were mainly Central American migrants making their way to Texas, which borders Tamaulipas to the north. The state’s highways are at once primary avenues for migrants and highly-contested narcotrafficking corridors.

One of the police detainees cited in the memo, Álvaro Alba Terrazas, told investigators that San Fernando police and transit officials were paid to deliver prisoners to the Zetas

If the facts surrounding the San Fernando case seem eerily familiar, it is beacuse they follow pattern seen over and over again in recent years. Like the Ayotzinapa case, the San Fernando massacres are symptomatic of the dirty war of corruption and narcopolitics that has consumed parts of Mexico over the last decade. Killings like these are disturbingly common, and the forces behind the mayhem—usually drug cartels counting on the collaboration of, at a minimum, local police—are remarkably consistent.

RTFA for more details of government corruption than the most cynical might imagine.

The task of decriminalizing the Mexican government is Herculean. It feels like that nation and the government should take a year or two off from every other activity and simply focus on jailing all the politicians and their gangster compadres. Only then might Mexico start all over again as a free and democratic nation.

Dumb crook of the day

Ryan Mullins

A North Carolina man was arrested after he allegedly stole a safe from a pharmacy and then dragged it behind his car. The suspect, Ryan Mullins, may have gotten away with it too, except he passed an officer while he was driving.

The 22-year-old allegedly swiped the safe from Family Care Pharmacy and dragged it for more than two miles before the officer saw him.

Individuals near the pharmacy reportedly saw Mullins’ vehicle parked outside with the safe nearby.

“You could just tell he was messing with something and having a struggle,” witness Carmen Fickling told WCTI12. “A lot of things crossed through my mind as to what could possibly be going on and none of them were good. But I never expected to see him pull a safe with the rope. It was strange.”

Mullins is charged with felony breaking and entering, larceny, possession of stolen goods, two felony counts of trafficking opium or heroin, one count of safe cracking and misdemeanor DWI.

The 100-pound safe reportedly contained prescription drugs.

Here in New Mexico we take a somewhat warped pride in being the home of some of the dumbest crooks in America. I think we should make Ryan Mullins an honorary New Mexican.

Busted throwing football into prison exercise yard


Not-very-good athlete of the day

A Michigan man faces felony charges for allegedly trying to hurl a football stuffed with heroin and cell phones into a state prison yard…

The man hopped out of a vehicle on Sunday morning and heaved the football, which landed short, between two security fences at a state prison in Jackson, Michigan, about 75 miles (120 km) west of Detroit, prisons spokesman Russ Marlan said…

The football had been sliced open, stuffed with drugs, phones and chargers and stitched back together, Marlan said.

The man, identified as Christen Deon-Sterling Moore of Detroit…was charged with furnishing contraband and cell phones to prisoners.

A prison officer apprehended the would-be quarterback and the driver after seeing him toss the football and turned them over to Michigan State Police, Marlan said.

It was not clear who the intended receiver was, Marlan said.

We already know that being a crook doesn’t require lots of smarts. Apparently, having a strong throwing arm doesn’t always make it to the job description either.

Thanks, gracie

Prostitution and drugs to be included in Italy’s GDP data

Italy’s gross domestic product is poised to rise with the addition of estimates for its narcotics, prostitution and contraband trades in its calculations.

Estimates of black market revenue will be included to comply with new European Union rules, Italy’s statistics agency Istat announced Thursday. Hidden economic activity, including prostitution, the drug trade, contraband tobacco products and illegally manufactured alcohol will be included, an Istat report said.

The information will be blended into gross domestic product (GDP) data beginning in 2015.

The new list of illegal revenue producers will be included so the European Union gets a better picture of member states’ true economies. An accurate depiction of a country’s economic status is useful in ascertaining if certain target ratios, such as debt-to-GDP, are being met.

Har. Imagine some of the other places we could use this kind of interpolation?

Congress? Non-profit charities with CEOs receiving 7-figure salaries? Twelve-step religion-du-jour?

Glaxo says it will stop paying doctors to pimp their drugs

The British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline will no longer pay doctors to promote its products and will stop tying compensation of sales representatives to the number of prescriptions doctors write, its chief executive said Monday, effectively ending two common industry practices that critics have long assailed as troublesome conflicts of interest.

The announcement appears to be a first for a major drug company — although others may be considering similar moves — and it comes at a particularly sensitive time for Glaxo. It is the subject of a bribery investigation in China, where authorities contend the company funneled illegal payments to doctors and government officials in an effort to lift drug sales…

Under the plan, which Glaxo said would be completed worldwide by 2016, the company will no longer pay health care professionals to speak on its behalf about its products or the diseases they treat “to audiences who can prescribe or influence prescribing,” it said in a statement. It will also stop providing financial support directly to doctors to attend medical conferences, a practice that is prohibited in the United States through an industry-imposed ethics code but that still occurs in other countries. In China, the authorities have said Glaxo compensated doctors for travel to conferences and lectures that never took place.

On one hand, what should we think of doctors who have been taking these bribes – for that is what they are – to influence which pharmaceuticals they prescribe?

On the other hand, perhaps we have simply come to a place and time where pharmaceutical companies are assured of a massive portion of public spending on drugs and medications by the number of politicians they own?

Drone choppers used to try to smuggle contraband into jails

…Four people have been arrested after a remote-controlled helicopter was allegedly used to fly tobacco into Calhoun state prison, Georgia…

Prison guards at the Calhoun state jail spotted a drone hovering over the prison yard and alerted police who began a search of the local area.

Inside a nearby car they found a six-rotor remote-controlled helicopter, between 1lb and 2lb of tobacco and several mobile phones.

Four people were arrested and could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of attempting to smuggle contraband into the prison.

“It is a surprise. I’ve never seen a helicopter,” Sheriff Josh Hilton told reporters.

It follows a similar attempt at the weekend in a prison in Canada.

A drone was spotted flying over the Gatineau jail in Quebec on Sunday. Guards there failed to find either the device, its payload or those flying it.

Remote-controlled flying devices are becoming the tool of choice for those determined to smuggle in contraband, Stephane Lemaire, president of Quebec’s correctional officers’ union, told the Ottawa Sun.

“Usually the drones are carrying small packages of drugs or other illicit substances,” he said…”Now that drones are relatively cheap to buy, they’ve become the best way to smuggle drugs inside,” he added.

Makes sense to me. Once again, our military demonstrated new and useful technology to civilian society. Why expect the criminal portion of our nations to avoid technological progress.

Suspended sentence for possibly the worst mom in America

A Missouri woman who left a loaded rifle in her toddler’s crib has received a suspended sentence, officials said. Cheryl Darlene Dudley, 37, of St. Peters, pleaded guilty to eight counts of child endangerment…

St. Peters police were called to Dudley’s home in July after a witness reported seeing Dudley’s 22-month-old daughter tied to the garage with a rope.

While investigating the incident, police found drugs a dresser drawer within reach of the toddler and Dudley’s 7-year-old son.

Police also found a loaded rifle stashed in the toddler’s crib.

Dudley told the police that she put the rifle in the crib because she heard noises in her back yard and hadn’t put it away yet.

Dudley’s daughter also had flea bites and appeared to have been scratched by a dog. Five dogs were seized from Dudley’s home during the investigation.

Police further found dog feces, dirt, cigarettes and mold inside Dudley’s home.

Circuit Judge Nancy Schneider sentenced Dudley to five years of probation, during which she must meet 17 requirements, including mental health counseling, prosecutors said.

If Dudley does not meet the requirements, she will be forced to serve a 10-year prison sentence.

Who has custody of the kids? I read several articles – all pretty much the same as the original in the St.Louis POST-DISPATCH. Nothing about the kids life after mom’s release into probation.