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Tag: Drugs

Cocaine Production in Bolivia Drops for 4th Year in Row After DEA Was Kicked Out

boliviaBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

For the fourth year in a row, cocaine production declined in Bolivia after the DEA was forced to leave the country, Mint Press News reports. 

Last year, cocaine production dropped 11% over the prior year, according to the United Nations.

The DEA was forced out of Bolivia seven years ago, and instead of seeking punitive measures, the Bolivian government found alternative crops for farmers.

“Bolivia has adopted a policy based on dialogue, where coca cultivation is allowed in traditional areas alongside alternative development [in others],” Antonino de Leo, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s representative in Bolivia, told VICE News.

“It’s not only about making money off a crop. In the old fashioned alternative development approach, we substitute one illicit crop for a licit crop. It’s about a more comprehensive approach that includes access to essential services like schools, hospitals, and roads in areas that traditionally have been hard to reach,” Leo added.

Border Patrol Finds Drug Smuggler in Scuba Gear Near Long Tunnel to Mexico

Photo via Border Patrol.

Photo via Border Patrol.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When Border Patrol agents found a man in scuba gear, they knew something odd was afoot.

Turns out, the man was smuggling drugs through a tunnel that was partially underwater at the end of the All-American Canal, about 7 miles east of Calexico, Calif., The Associated Press reports.

Near the man was a breathing tank and several vacuum-sealed packages containing 55 pounds of cocaine.

The April 25 discovery unearthed a 150-foot-long tunnel that stretched from the canal to a house in Mexicali, Mexico.

“Drug smugglers will try anything to move their product — even scuba diving in an underwater tunnel,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said in a statement. “The ingenuity of the smugglers is matched only by our determination to thwart it.”

Observant, Off-Duty DEA Agent Busts Man with Large Amount of Cocaine in Suitcase

dea-badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A DEA agent was off duty getting his car worked on when he saw a suspicious encounter.

Ricky Nuckles, 41, parked his car at a gas station, where another car pulled up, and a man placed a large suitcase in the back of Nuckles’ car before driving off, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Suspicious, the agent confronted Nuckles, who ran into the store and ditched his cell phone.

The agent spotted a firearm in the driver’s seat and called 911.

As police and more agents arrived, they found cocaine worth $750,000 and a handgun after Nuckles agreed to a search.

“Thanks to a vigilant off-duty DEA agent, 22 kilograms of cocaine is off the streets, and Nuckles’ drug-trafficking days are finished,” U.S. attorney John Horn said.

Nuckles was sentenced Thursday to 17 years and 7 months in prison.

New DEA Leader: ‘El Chapo’ Likely Still in Mexico After Prison Escape

'El Chapo' Guzman

‘El Chapo’ Guzman

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is most likely still in Mexico after his escape from prison last month, the DEA’s new acting administrator said.

Chuck Rosenberg told reporters, though, that he has no hard evidence of the escapee’s whereabouts but said Guzman is likely relying on the vast resources of his Sinaloa organization in Mexico.

“I think he is still in Mexico,” Rosenberg said. “Do I know that? No, I do not know that. Where is he safest and best protected, probably Sinaloa.”

The U.S. is offering a $5 million reward for the capture of Guzman, a powerful cartel leader.

“I know the Mexicans are trying everything they can to find him,” he said. “They are working on it; we are working on it with them.”

Other Stories of Interest

New DEA Chief: Marijuana ‘Probably Not’ As Dangerous As Heroin

Marijuana

Photo by Steve Neavling

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The new head of the DEA says marijuana is “probably not” as dangerous as heroin, a position that was in contrast to his predecessor, the U.S. News & World Report. 

Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg said the DEA would not prioritize marijuana enforcement, but emphasized that agents are still going to pursue pot cases.

“If you want me to say that marijuana’s not dangerous, I’m not going to say that because I think it is,” Rosenberg said. “Do I think it’s as dangerous as heroin? Probably not. I’m not an expert.”

He added: “Let me say it this way: I’d rather be in a car accident going 30 miles an hour than 60 miles an hour, but I’d prefer not to be in a car accident at all.”

Marijuana advocates praised Rosenberg for being less aggressive with marijuana than his predecessor, Michele Leonhart.

“This is not a matter of opinion,” Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project, says. “It’s far less harmful than heroin and it’s encouraging that the DEA is finally willing to recognize that.”

Other Stories of Interest

President Obama Calls for Reformed Drug Sentences That Overwhelmingly Face Young Black Men

president obama state of unionBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Obama on Thursday delivered a clear message Wednesday when he commuted the federal prison sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders: The time has come to overhaul a criminal justice system that locks away too many nonviolent offenders.

Obama also expressed concern that may of the nonviolent offenders who are incarcerated are young black men, CNN reports. 

During an impassioned speech at the annual NAACP convention in Philadelphia, Obama bemoaned the fact that inmates are confined to horrible prison conditions, including rape and solitary confinement, which he declared “have no place in any civilized country.”

“In too many places, black boys and black men, and Latino boys and Latino men, experience being treated different under the law,” Obama said, claiming his assertion wasn’t “anecdote” or “barber shop talk,” but instead backed by data.

Obama is trying to gain bipartisan support for reforming the current sentencing laws.

Parker: The Role of Doctors in the Heroin Plague

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

800px-Heroin

By Ross Parker

With the recent volume of media on the issue of the heroin epidemic, its overdoses and deaths, has come an effort to provide an easy explanation for the cause of and solution to this multifaceted problem. Much of the blame has been directed at doctors, who are charged with being either intentionally or negligently pill-happy with painkiller prescriptions. Their failures, it is charged, have made medical patients into addicts and, when the scrips became unavailable or too expensive, the patients were forced to turn to heroin and other opiates on the streets.

The tragic death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman who went from painkiller to heroin addiction and then to an overdose death is presented as a prime example for this explanation for the increase.

But the reasons for the current heroin upsurge are far more complex than the responsibility of a single group. Factors such as a failure of individual responsibility, insufficient education for kids, inadequate drug treatment resources, the emergence of Mexico as the dangerous big dog in shipping heroin up north, inadequate regulation and, yes, law enforcement, as well as a dozen other reasons contribute to the pandemic.

But doctors and their regulators do play an important role in this analysis and any feasible solution. It is not merely a coincidence that the country is in the midst of both a painkiller and a heroin overdose epidemic. The relationship between the two provide part of the cause.

The number of painkillers prescribed has quadrupled in recent years. Every day 44 people in the U.S. die from an overdose of painkillers. The number of deaths has skyrocketed from 4,000 to 16,000 annually. Experts from the health and law enforcement fields point to prescription drug abuse as a major cause of the epidemic. But they usually fail to add that 70% of these overdoses were by individuals other than the patient who obtained the prescription. Their access was from patients, many of whom legitimately needed the prescription, or from the street traffickers.

Which is not to say that medical profession doesn’t need to get its house in order.  Reforms need to be made even if doctors are not the only or even the primary culprit for the contagion.  It is true that a substantial percentage of physicians fail to find out about a patient’s history with controlled substances or their obtaining multiple scrips, even though this information is readily available. Plus many doctors lack the training and experience to identify opioid abusers and what alternative pain relief regimens could substitute for these drugs for patients at risk.

The February 2015 New England Journal of Medicine bemoans the absence of the use of proven medication treatment strategies both by physicians and drug treatment centers. The lack of insurance coverage, physician training, policy hindrances, and adequate resources are only part of the explanation for this failure.

Researchers of a study presented recently in the Clinical Journal of Pain found that many primary care doctors lacked an adequate knowledge base about opioid treatment and failed to appreciate the danger of diversion to non-patients. These two deficiencies often made the doctors prescribe them more often than necessary.

Read more »

FBI Agent Who Stole Heroin Seized As Evidence Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison

fbi-badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An FBI agent who stole heroin seized as evidence to feed his addiction was sentenced to three years in federal prison Thursday, a much lighter sentence than prosecutors wanted, the Washington Post reports. 

Matthew Lowry’s theft of evidence prompted prosecutors to dismiss drug cases against 28 defendants.

Calling it the most difficult decision in his 32 years on the bench, U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan said he choose a lighter sentence because of Lowry’s addition. The sentencing guidelines had called for seven to nine years in prison.

“What we have here is a successful young agent with a sterling reputation who abused his position and abused his trust,” Hogan said.

He added, however, that because of Lowry’s actions, “major drug dealers were put back on the street to harm our citizens and endanger our children.”