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Tag: DEA

Seven Colombians Extradited to U.S. to Face Charges In Murder of DEA Agent James Terry Watson

James Terry Watson

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Seven Colombian nationals have been extradited to the U.S. to face charges relating to the kidnapping and murder of DEA agent James Terry Watson, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

“With the extradition of these suspects, we are one step closer to ensuring that justice is served for the kidnapping and murder of an American hero,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement. “Special Agent Watson gave his life in the service of his country. We owe him, and his family, a debt of gratitude we can never fully repay.”

The defendants had been indicted by a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria last July 18.

The defendants included: Gerardo Figueroa Sepulveda, 39; Omar Fabian Valdes Gualtero, 27; Edgar Javier Bello Murillo, 27; Hector Leonardo Lopez, 34; Julio Estiven Gracia Ramirez, 31; and Andrés Alvaro Oviedo-Garcia, 22.

Each were charged with two counts of second degree murder, one count of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy to kidnap. Oviedo-Garcia was also charged with two counts of assault.

Additionally, the Justice Department said in a press release that the grand jury indicted Wilson Daniel Peralta-Bocachica, 31, also a Colombian national, for his alleged efforts to destroy evidence associated with the murder of Special Agent Watson.

The defendants arrived Tuesday in the U.S. and made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. on Wednesday.

The indictment charged that Figueroa, Valdes, Bello, Lopez, Gracia and Oviedo-Garcia were part of a kidnapping and robbery conspiracy that utilized taxi cabs in Bogotá, Colombia, to lure victims into a position where they could be attacked and robbed, the Justice Department said in a press release.

Once an intended victim entered a taxi cab, the driver would signal other conspirators to begin the robbery/kidnapping operation.

On June 20, 2013, while working in Colombia, DEA agent Watson hopped into a taxi cab operated by one of the defendants.

Watson was then attacked by two defendants, one of whom used a stun gun on him and another fatally stabbed him with a knife.

 

 

Synthetic Drug Craze Involving LSD-Like Substance Has Killed 19 People So Far

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA is trying to crack down on the latest synthetic drug craze that is responsible for at least 19 deaths nationwide, KGUN9-TV report.

The drug is called “N-bomb” and has similar hallucinatory effects of LSD.

But users are buying the drug from amateur chemists who are selling the product online.

“It’s like playing Russian Roulette, because you just don’t know what you’re getting. They may just mix in any other lethal substances into these drugs,” said Spokesperson for the DEA Phoenix Division Special Agent Ramona Sanchez.

The DEA temporarily banned the drug while it conducts further research.

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Pennsylvania Attorney General Launches Innovative Program Around the State to Battle Heroin Tied to Mexican Cartels

Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane

By Jeffrey Anderson

An emerging crime initiative by Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane is deploying mobile street crimes units to small cities and towns in her state to tackle an escalating heroin problem tied to Mexican drug cartels.

The strategy, quietly launched last year with the help of a $2.5 million state appropriation, is based on street-level busts by agents with the Bureau of Narcotics Investigations who are embedded for months in a single location, where they build from the ground up a database that allows them to go after larger, more organized criminal elements that have taken over struggling, post-industrial municipalities along the I-80 and I-81 trucking corridors, conveniently located to major drug hubs such as New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

After a 5-month deployment in Hazleton, PA, that concluded in February, the Mobile Street Crimes Unit, which received cooperation from the DEA and the FBI, netted 35,000 bags of heroin, 120 arrests, 97 criminal cases and confiscation of guns, vehicles, cash, and jewelry – in a town of 33,000 which has just 38 police officers.

Before decamping for a new location to work with another set of local law enforcers, the unit, identified on their vests only as “POLICE,” leaves behind the criminal database it has built along with its more sophisticated drug enforcement strategies for the locals to employ.

Congressman Lou Barletta,  a Republican from Pennsylvania’s 11th District — and former mayor of Hazleton —  who is on the House Homeland Security Committee and the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, predicts that Pennsylvania could be the vanguard for a new way of thinking about the use of state resources to confront what is ultimately a national — if not international — problem.

“For anyone in Congress who has been a mayor, they understand very well how these things are tied to drug cartels,” Barletta says. “They know damn well that it’s an endless battle, and that if you take a drug dealer off the street there’s three more waiting to take his place. It’s like drinking water through a firehose.

“The biggest challenge now is to give the local chief of police the resources he needs to keep going, because these cities are cash-strapped,” Barletta continues. “That’s where the feds can play a role. I think we can do a better job there. The unit is going to get attention. And when other states see what is happening they’ll want to replicate it.”

State Senator John Yudichak, a Democrat who represents Carbon County and parts of Luzerne County, says that in 2013, just 60 percent of the 99 cities in the area with a population less than 5,000 had a full-time police force. Today just 6 percent of those same cities do.

“It’s perfectly suited for a drug distribution network, with such a limited presence of law enforcement,” says Yudichak, who championed the initiative in the State Capital with support from Rep. Barletta and others. “We wanted to take the ‘D’ and the ‘R’ of politics out of it and we needed state and federal assistance. We needed to break down silos and get the community engaged. People were in a bed of denial.”

The force behind the initiative is Attorney General Kane, a former street level prosecutor in Lackawanna County, who came into office promising a fresh approach to beating back the ravages of heroin that had overcome towns such as Hazleton.

With 2,500 municipalities splashed across a mostly rural state of 12.7 million people, Kane describes Pennsylvania as a “good place for drug cartels to do business.”

Early on, however, she saw a lack of coordination between local and federal agencies that had created a vacuum for those cartels to exploit.

“No one played well together,” she says. “It was like a T-ball game, where everyone jumps on the ball and parents are cheering with delight. Those days are over. We’re cultivating an environment that puts ego aside. It’s not about credit for a bust. We can’t go on simply chasing dealers off the street then stop.”

While neither a typical drug task force nor simply a community-based approach, the unit nonetheless is a grassroots idea that Hazleton Police Chief Frank DeAndrea says cuts against the grain of “what everyone else is doing.”

DeAndrea says that in the past, the DEA and FBI have utilized his officers as members of a task force that generates proceeds from seizures to fund future investigations, all while his city is drowning under a wave of heroin being fed by cartels and powerful street gangs.

“We have 39 gangs and 38 officers,” he says. “We’re broke, and overmatched. It’s like a high school team going up against an NFL team.”

DeAndrea insists that he wasn’t “seeing the ball move” with the FBI and DEA – until Kane and the Mobile Street Crimes Unit came into the picture.

The feds have expressed support for the idea and have collaborated with the unit, but any partnership is still a work in progress. A Washington-based spokesman for the DEA says, “We don’t have the resources to focus on small-time local yokels that produce limited impact. Our resources are limited too. We have to be careful when evaluating a potential investigation to get a bang for the buck.”

The full story is posted on Lawdragon.com. Click here to read.

 About the author: Jeffrey Anderson is a veteran feature writer and award-winning investigative reporter from Washington, D.C. He previously has worked at the Los Angeles Daily Journal, L.A. Weekly, Baltimore City Paper and The Washington Times. He can be reached at byjeffreyanderson@gmail.com.

U.S. Senate Mulls House Measure That Would Crack Down on DEA Raids of Medical Marijuana

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Senate is considering a measure already approved by the House that would ban the DEA from using its budget to target marijuana users in states where cannabis is legal for medical purposes, the Huffington Post reports.

The amendment to the Justice Department’s budget was introduced by Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, who is calling for the feds to back off their zealous pursuit of pot in the 22 states where medical marijuana is legal.

Huffington Post writes that the amendment is gaining steam, with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., signing on as a co-sponsor.

“Poll after poll shows 70-80 percent of Americans support medical marijuana,” Marijuana Policy Project’s Dan Riffle said. “Even among conservatives, most oppose enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states where marijuana is legal for some purpose. Having two rising stars like Rand Paul and Cory Booker team up to introduce this amendment just shows how popular the issue has become, and that our outdated federal marijuana laws are inevitably going to change.”

The House last month voted 219-189 in favor of a similar amendment.

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Pennsylvania Attorney General Launches Innovative Program Around the State to Battle Heroin Tied to Mexican Cartels

Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane

By Jeffrey Anderson

An emerging crime initiative by Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane is deploying mobile street crimes units to small cities and towns in her state to tackle an escalating heroin problem tied to Mexican drug cartels.

The strategy, quietly launched last year with the help of a $2.5 million state appropriation, is based on street-level busts by agents with the Bureau of Narcotics Investigations who are embedded for months in a single location, where they build from the ground up a database that allows them to go after larger, more organized criminal elements that have taken over struggling, post-industrial municipalities along the I-80 and I-81 trucking corridors, conveniently located to major drug hubs such as New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

After a 5-month deployment in Hazleton, PA, that concluded in February, the Mobile Street Crimes Unit, which received cooperation from the DEA and the FBI, netted 35,000 bags of heroin, 120 arrests, 97 criminal cases and confiscation of guns, vehicles, cash, and jewelry – in a town of 33,000 which has just 38 police officers.

Before decamping for a new location to work with another set of local law enforcers, the unit, identified on their vests only as “POLICE,” leaves behind the criminal database it has built along with its more sophisticated drug enforcement strategies for the locals to employ.

Congressman Lou Barletta,  a Republican from Pennsylvania’s 11th District — and former mayor of Hazleton —  who is on the House Homeland Security Committee and the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, predicts that Pennsylvania could be the vanguard for a new way of thinking about the use of state resources to confront what is ultimately a national — if not international — problem.

“For anyone in Congress who has been a mayor, they understand very well how these things are tied to drug cartels,” Barletta says. “They know damn well that it’s an endless battle, and that if you take a drug dealer off the street there’s three more waiting to take his place. It’s like drinking water through a firehose.

“The biggest challenge now is to give the local chief of police the resources he needs to keep going, because these cities are cash-strapped,” Barletta continues. “That’s where the feds can play a role. I think we can do a better job there. The unit is going to get attention. And when other states see what is happening they’ll want to replicate it.”

State Senator John Yudichak, a Democrat who represents Carbon County and parts of Luzerne County, says that in 2013, just 60 percent of the 99 cities in the area with a population less than 5,000 had a full-time police force. Today just 6 percent of those same cities do.

“It’s perfectly suited for a drug distribution network, with such a limited presence of law enforcement,” says Yudichak, who championed the initiative in the State Capital with support from Rep. Barletta and others. “We wanted to take the ‘D’ and the ‘R’ of politics out of it and we needed state and federal assistance. We needed to break down silos and get the community engaged. People were in a bed of denial.”

The force behind the initiative is Attorney General Kane, a former street level prosecutor in Lackawanna County, who came into office promising a fresh approach to beating back the ravages of heroin that had overcome towns such as Hazleton.

With 2,500 municipalities splashed across a mostly rural state of 12.7 million people, Kane describes Pennsylvania as a “good place for drug cartels to do business.”

Early on, however, she saw a lack of coordination between local and federal agencies that had created a vacuum for those cartels to exploit.

“No one played well together,” she says. “It was like a T-ball game, where everyone jumps on the ball and parents are cheering with delight. Those days are over. We’re cultivating an environment that puts ego aside. It’s not about credit for a bust. We can’t go on simply chasing dealers off the street then stop.”

While neither a typical drug task force nor simply a community-based approach, the unit nonetheless is a grassroots idea that Hazleton Police Chief Frank DeAndrea says cuts against the grain of “what everyone else is doing.”

DeAndrea says that in the past, the DEA and FBI have utilized his officers as members of a task force that generates proceeds from seizures to fund future investigations, all while his city is drowning under a wave of heroin being fed by cartels and powerful street gangs.

“We have 39 gangs and 38 officers,” he says. “We’re broke, and overmatched. It’s like a high school team going up against an NFL team.”

DeAndrea insists that he wasn’t “seeing the ball move” with the FBI and DEA – until Kane and the Mobile Street Crimes Unit came into the picture.

The feds have expressed support for the idea and have collaborated with the unit, but any partnership is still a work in progress. A Washington-based spokesman for the DEA says, “We don’t have the resources to focus on small-time local yokels that produce limited impact. Our resources are limited too. We have to be careful when evaluating a potential investigation to get a bang for the buck.”

The full story is posted on Lawdragon.com. Click here to read.

 About the author: Jeffrey Anderson is a veteran feature writer and award-winning investigative reporter from Washington, D.C. He previously has worked at the Los Angeles Daily Journal, L.A. Weekly, Baltimore City Paper and The Washington Times. He can be reached at byjeffreyanderson@gmail.com.

Report: DEA Has Impeded Much-Needed Research into Medical Benefits of Marijuana for Years

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA has obstructed research into the medical benefits of marijuana in an attempt to keep the drug from being reclassified, according to a new report, AlJazeera reports.

“The DEA impedes research by abusing its discretionary powers over the scheduling process, making it difficult to obtain marijuana for research purposes.

We recommend taking away the DEA’s power over drug scheduling and access to drugs for research,” Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), said Wednesday during a teleconference.

The report, “The DEA: Four Decades of Impending and Rejecting Science,” urges the DEA to end its objections to marijuana research that could be used to help patients in need.

“The DEA has created a Catch-22 — saying that the FDA didn’t approve marijuana therefore it’s bogus, while at the same time obstructing FDA research necessary for approval,” Jag Davies, publications manager for DPA, said.

Despite impeding research, the DEA continues to insist that there’s not enough evidence to support rescheduling marijuana to Schedule 2, a move that would allow for medical use.

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Drug Policy Alliance: DEA Impeded, Rejected Science on Medical Marijuana for 4 Decades

By Ethan Nadelmann
Executive Director of Drug Policy Alliance

For four decades, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has systematically obstructed medical research and rejected scientific evidence. It’s increasingly clear that entrusting decisions involving medical science to the DEA is akin to leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse. And what’s most striking is how little scrutiny the DEA has faced from Congress or other federal overseers.

Wednesday, members of Congress, scientific experts, medical marijuana patients and others will join us in a teleconference that will accompany the release of a new report co-published by MAPS and the Drug Policy Alliance called “The DEA: Four Decades of Impeding and Rejecting Science”.

Since the days of the Nixon administration, federal officials have described the drug classification process as based on science and evidence. But the DEA’s actions strongly indicate that their decision-making has everything to do with politics and little to do with science.

Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970, the DEA’s powers include not just the ability to enforce federal drug laws, but the authority to schedule drugs and license facilities for the production and use of scheduled drugs in federally-approved research. The DEA is statutorily required to make its determinations based on scientific data. There is no indication in the legislative record that the CSA intended for drug classification to be a one-way ratchet, with only tighter controls ever envisioned. Nor was there any indication that the DEA’s decision-making process was intended to be an entirely political process.
To read more click here.

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House Votes To Stop DEA from Targeting Medical Marijuana Operations in States

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA’s crackdown on state-licensed medical marijuana operations may finally come to an end under a measure passed late Thursday by the U.S. House of Representatives, Huffington Post reports.

The bipartisan amendment, approved 219-189, would prevent the DEA from using federal funds to go after medical cannabis in states where it is legal.

The vote marks a seismic change in Congressional attitudes toward marijuana.

“We are nearing a point now where the United States Congress is essentially ready to end marijuana prohibition,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project.

The bill, which still has hurdles to clear, seeks to end DEA raids of cannabis dispensaries that comply with state law.

There are 22 states that allow the medical use of marijuana.

Thursday’s measure must now get approval from the Senate.

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