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drug runners

7/29/14 7:30pm

Venezuelan Officials Tied To Colombian Drug Traffickers

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Seized cocaine from Colombia. Wiki Commons

According to an article published this week in the New York Times, top military and police officials have been accused of having ties with Colombian cocaine traffickers. The news came after three federal indictments were unsealed last week.

Prosecutors in Miami and New York alleged that Venezuela's former military intelligence chief, Hugo Carvajal, was on the payroll of a Colombian drug lord while also investing his own money in drug trafficking and personally coordinating the shipment of thousands of kilos of cocaine.

Carvajal was arrested in Aruba last week, but has since been released and sent back to Venezuela, upsetting officials in the U.S. State Department. Venezuelan officials denounced the arrest as a kidnapping while Carvajal's attorney said that his client "categorically" denied the trafficking charges before a judge.

Filed in 2011 in New York, the indictment stated that Carvajal "coordinated the transportation of approximately 5,600 kilograms of cocaine from Venezuela to Mexico" in April 2006 with a group of traffickers known as the Cartel of the Suns. Meanwhile, the Miami indictment, which was filed in May of last year, alleged ties between Caravajal and Colombian drug lord Wilber Varela.

According to a 2012 affidavit by D.E.A. Agent Cesar Salaya, agents “have been interviewing drug traffickers who have admitted bribing high-level Venezuelan military and law enforcement officials in order to distribute cocaine and avoid arrest and extradition to the United States.” That led to another Venezuelan official, Rodolfo McTurk, who directed the country's relations with Interpol, to be indicted for conspiring to ship cocaine to the United States with known Colombian drug trafficker, Alberto Marín.

Though Marín pled guilty to drug charges in October 2011, McTurk has yet to be arrested.

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By Shawn Dwyer

sports dui

7/29/14 5:30pm

Phoenix Suns' P.J. Tucker Arrested For 'Super Extreme' DUI

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Super wasted. Photo via

Back in May, Phoenix Suns player P.J Tucker was arrested on suspicion of "super extreme DUI" by Scottsdale, Ariz. police, though the charges were kept under wraps until recently. That may have had something to do with Tucker signing a three-year, $16.5 million contract just last week.

On May 10, Tucker, 29, was observed running a stop sign early in the morning near an area of Scottsdale popular for its nightlife. Tucker was pulled over and, according to the police officer, he had "thick and slurred" speech and "watery and bloodshot" eyes.

The officer also noted a "powerful" order of alcohol when he interviewed Tucker, who told him that he had just left the W Scottsdale Hotel after consuming one beer. But during a roadside sobriety test, Tucker stumbled and fell into a nearby construction fence.

Tucker's blood-alcohol content was .201 on the initial breathalyzer when he was pulled over, though later he came up .222 on a subsequent blood test. Arizona has a legal limit of .08. A blood-alcohol level of .15 or higher is considered extreme, and anything .20 or higher is considered super-extreme.

Tucker has been charged with a stop sign violation and DUI, with the super-extreme status of the latter charge carrying a 45-day jail sentence if he's convicted. The Suns stated that they were aware of the charges prior to Tucker signing his contract last week, though the organization declined to comment further until the matter is resolved in court.

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By Shawn Dwyer

dirty cops

7/29/14 3:30pm

Ex-Detroit Cop Suspected of Running Ohio Drug Ring

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Shutterstock

Another day, another former ex-police officer busted for drugs.

Former Detroit police officer Brandon George Allen was arrested at Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta airport for leading a drug ring that supplied product to Glouster, Ohio. The arrest came after a months-long investigation in which the Athens County prosecutor's office broke up a drug ring and followed the hierarchy all the way up to Allen.

The 29-year-old alleged kingpin has been indicted with 10 counts of felony drug trafficking, one count of felony drug possession, and one count of felony racketeering by a grand jury. Investigators have traveled as far as South Carolina and Allen's Atlanta apartment to collect evidence, going far outside Ohio state lines.

"We are going to go at this problem at the source," said Prosecutor Keller Blackburn. "Anyone who decides to distribute drugs in Athens County, whether or not you've ever been here, will face the full power and authority of my office and the state of Ohio."

Authorities undertook the massive operation when they learned Allen was going to leave the country and caught him at the airport as he was attempting to flee.

"I truly appreciate all the committed officers who made this arrest possible, and especially the efforts of my two investigators, Jay Barrett and Tom McNight, who at great personal risk and sacrifice, made it their mission to shut off the source of drugs poisoning the lives of too many of our residents," Blackburn said.

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By Bryan Le

eating disorders

7/29/14 1:00pm

Mortality Rates for Anorexia Remain Unchanged in 2014

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Shutterstock

The mortality rates and negative health statistics for anorexia nervosa presented by the National Institute For Mental Health and other expert sources are mind-numbingly bad and still have not improved in 2014, as compared to previous years.

According to the NIMH, the anorexia mortality rate is 12 times higher than any other cause of death in women ages 15 to 24. People with anorexia nervosa are 18 times more likely to die early compared with people of similar age in the general population. Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc. has said that without treatment up to 20% of people diagnosed with anorexia nervosa die from the physical havoc caused by this mental disorder.

After seeing so many innocents lost to the storm of this devastating illness, Robyn L. Goldberg, RDN, CEDRD, expressed her frustration to The Fix. "As a certified eating disorder registered dietitian on the front lines of the anorexia battle, it is so difficult to watch these lovely young women who have their whole lives in front of them literally destroying themselves because of this powerful and pernicious eating disorder,” Goldberg said.

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by emaciation, an unrelenting pursuit of thinness and an unwillingness to maintain a healthy weight. Brought on by a profound body dysmorphia amped by an intense fear of gaining weight, some patients simply stop eating or reduce their food intake to miniscule amounts, leading to self-starvation. Many sufferers shed weight by the combination of exercising excessively and extreme dieting while others lose body mass by self-induced vomiting, or misusing laxatives, diuretics, and enemas.

Statistics from 2014 show that between 1 to 5% of all female adolescents and young women are anorexic, with the average age of onset being 17 years old. Kaaren Lynn Ray, Director of the mentored youth program SIPPP!, expressed the devastating impact across the globe when she said, “The combinations of factors impacting people with eating disorders in the American population (numbering 14 million affected people) and the worldwide population (affecting 70 million) are staggering…Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.”

If left untreated, anorexia can lead to abnormally low heart rate and blood pressure, osteoporosis, and severe dehydration. Heart damage, which ultimately killed singer Karen Carpenter, is the most common cause of death for people with anorexia. "The cardiac tolls are acute and significant, and set in quickly," said Dr. Diane Mickley, co-president of the National Eating Disorders Association.

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By John Lavitt

drug treatment abroad

7/29/14 10:30am

Vietnam Officials Slam 'Failure' Of Community-Based Drug Treatment

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Treatment counselor in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo via

With an overwhelming number of dropouts in Vietnam’s first voluntary drug rehab center and drug-related crimes on the rise, Vietnam officials have slammed community-based treatment as a “failure.”

Approximately 75% of those who enrolled in the the Drug Addiction Treatment and Consultancy Center offered by Ho Chi Minh City's social affairs department have dropped out, with only six people graduating from the three-month program. The facility is much cheaper than private rehab centers in Vietnam at a cost of roughly $585 for the entire program, with amenities that are considered five-star including a gym and karaoke area.

Approximately 60% of patients at the center only sign up for a 15-day program, which is just enough time to overcome physical cravings, but many haven’t even survived that and have fled the facility. Some have attempted to enroll again, but those who haven’t gotten clean after several attempts are turned away by the director of the center.

“They aren’t determined to get clean, so it’s only a waste of money and effort,” said Le Van Quy, director of the center. “In many cases, we’re a hundred percent sure they will relapse, but there’s nothing we can do. I feel tormented.”

Officials in Ho Chi Minh City also have their hands tied by new laws that prevent them from sending criminal addicts to compulsory rehab centers. They believe that not only has drug crime risen as a result, but that those statistics will only get worse as 4,000 patients are set to be discharged from compulsory rehab centers throughout the city, or nearly 45% of the total population.

Families who can’t afford to put loved ones in rehab will often give them methadone instead, but methadone users will now have to pay around 50 cents per dose starting next year, plus the cost of health examination fees. This has led to concerns about a rise in heroin use throughout the country.

“Methadone is not a magic wand. Drug addiction is a mental disease and it only takes a small hit to knock the patients off track,” said Dr. Nguyen Van Hoi, head of the District 6 methadone center in Ho Chi Minh. “They only need to argue with family members or feel a little disrespected to fall back into addiction.”

Because of this, many government officials believe compulsory rehabs are the only viable option for keeping addicts away from their drugs of choice and in an environment where they can focus on getting clean.

“[Compulsory rehab] only isolates addicts from the environment where they can use drugs, and not the community as a whole. Their families and friends can still visit them often,” said Nguyen Thanh Thai, former chairman of the Ho Chi Minh government. “It’s not acceptable to depend largely on community-based voluntary rehabilitation, especially when the related laws, staff and facilities aren't ready.”

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By McCarton Ackerman

drugs in sports

7/29/14 8:30am

Drew Bees Drug Tested Twice After Boasts Of Physical Prowess

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Shutterstock

After declaring that he could play pro football until the age of 45, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Bees found himself sacked by a pair of random drug tests.

The NFL star said before his fourteenth training camp that he’d like to play for another 10 years. “I understand the challenges that come along with that, buy why not? If I can stay healthy, and I’m having fun and playing at a high level, why wouldn’t I wanna do that?” But according to a tweet from Bees, drug officials also appeared to have heard his statement.

“On Friday I said I thought I could play till age 45. I have been ‘randomly’ selected for drug tests the last 2 days,” he wrote. “What’s up with that! Lol.” However, it appears that Bees made his Twitter comments in jest.

This isn’t the only occasion that a questionably timed random drug test has taken place, however. Earlier this month, U.S. World Cup goalie Tim Howard was randomly selected for a urine test right after making a World Cup record-setting 16 saves during a loss against Belgium. FIFA, the governing body of soccer, selects two players from both teams to be randomly tested after each World Cup match. Howard later joked to ESPN that “maybe” the test became targeted after his 10th or 11th save.

However, Howard had little to worry about due to his long-standing public stance against drug use and current work as a spokesperson for Natural High, a non-profit drug prevention program.

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By McCarton Ackerman

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