Despite a lack of resources and an isolated consumer base, US correctional facilities host a thriving drugs market. But the limitations and monitoring imposed on the use of prison phones are an obstacle. "You can't set up nothing on the regular prison phones because they are monitored," one prisoner tells The Fix. "They record everything and when you are trying to make a move, you don't want no one eavesdropping on your conversations so that they can make a bust or put the brakes on." The solution isn't hard to imagine: "With cell phones it is easy. No one is listening and you can talk freely. Once you got a cell phone, anything is possible."
Of course, cell phones retail at a premium behind bars: Prisoners will pay up to $1,500 for one. But they're not that difficult to find. "If you have money you can get a phone easy; you can get an iPhone with Internet access or whatever," the prisoner says. "Me and my homies got one. We use it to make moves." A lot of the gangs inside share a single cell phone for both personal and business use—everything from coordinating drug deals to checking their Facebook accounts. "It's kinda like a community phone," the prisoner says. "We move it around a lot. It's better for someone to be holding it at all times instead of stashing it. Like I might have it for a night, then my homeboy in another block and then another homie...it is never in one place for long." Lesser gang members will more typically be left holding the phone, for the leaders to use as and when they need it.
"We coordinate with our people outside to set up deals and bring drugs in," the prisoner continues. "We even call prisoners at other prisons. It's all about communications. If my homie's girl is coming to see him, we make the call to get the drugs delivered pronto, and boom, on the VI he makes it happen and the yard is blessed. Without the jack we can't make shit happen. Even if one of the homies gets busted with the phone, they can only give him three to six more months. So it's worth it to us. The money we make pays for the jack, lets us help our families and makes us prison-rich so that we can do our bids in style." The flow of phones into prisons is constant: As soon as the prison authorities find one, another is already being smuggled in.
Bolivian president Evo Morales, who has chosen to regulate rather than ban coca leaf growing in his country, won a victory today, as Bolivia was accepted back into the 1961 UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Bolivia rejoins the convention with one clear reservation: "...Bolivia reserves the right to allow in its territory: traditional coca leaf chewing; the consumption and use of the coca leaf in its natural state for cultural and medicinal purposes; its use in infusions; and also the cultivation, trade and possession of the coca leaf to the extent necessary for these licit purposes." Bolivia withdrew from the convention last year due to the controversy over coca leaves. The leaves—which can be used to produce cocaine but are a much milder stimulant when ingested in their raw form—are traditionally chewed by indigenous Bolivians. Fifteen countries, including the US, opposed Bolivia's reinstatement to the convention because of fears that legal coca leaves will lead to increased cocaine production. But this number fell short of the 21 votes (one third of the 63 signatories) that were needed to successfully block the move. “We oppose Bolivia’s reservation," a US State Department official tells the Washington Post, "and continue to believe it will lead to a greater supply of cocaine and increased cocaine trafficking and related crime.” Bolivia is a significant producer of cocaine, but its government vows, in wording of its reservation, that: "...Bolivia will continue to take all necessary measures to control the illicit cultivation of coca in order to prevent its abuse and the illicit production of the narcotic drugs which may be extracted from the leaves.”
Lindsay Lohan is reportedly telling friends that a recent and unflattering New York Times feature about her is mostly true—but she's vehemently denying its claims that she got drunk on the set of her upcoming film The Canyons and then drove off. Sources close to Lohan say, according to TMZ, that while there were vodka shots on set, they were provided by director Paul Schrader—and that LiLo didn't partake. Lohan also declares that she's "not that stupid and irresponsible" to drive a car while drunk. However, she doesn't deny being fired and then rehired by producer Braxton Pope after missing two days of shooting, running up a $600 sushi and sake bill, and arguing about her four-way sex scene in the movie. The article claims that Lohan had been drinking in preparation for her sex scene with three porn stars and when Pope offered to get her a driver home, she refused and drove down the Pacific Coast Highway in her Porsche. On a separate day of filming, she was apparently out partying with Lady Gaga until 5:30 am—despite having a 6 am call that morning. When she showed up visibly out of it, her doctor declared she had an inner ear infection and wouldn't be able to film that day. Although she hadn't missed any days of work after her initial firing, Schrader appeared to have little confidence in her pulling it together and declared mid-shoot that, “We’re getting close to the point where if she disappeared, we still have a movie. Just one more full day and we're good." Despite all this reported off-screen drama, Pope deemed Lohan's performance in the film "excellent," and says the benefits of having her "far outweighed" the challenges.
As if abusing painkillers weren't already dangerous enough. Despite a new version of Opana ER being released last February, designed to be harder to abuse, Tennessee health officials are reporting cases of a rare blood-clotting problem among people who injected the drug after crushing the pills (which are meant to be taken orally). Only about one in 100,000 people generally develop thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), a disorder that causes clots to form in small blood vessels around the body. But 15 cases were reported in the state between last August to October—and all were linked to intravenous drug abuse, with 14 of the 15 related to Opana. "The advantage [of crushing the drug] is it gets into the bloodstream faster," says Dr. Leonard Paulozzi, a medical epidemiologist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Apparently, the amount of euphoria associated with the drug is associated with how fast the drug level rises in your bloodstream." The condition can be fatal if left untreated, but none of the patients died; 12 were treated for Hepatitis C and seven were treated for sepsis, a toxic condition that can cause vital organs to shut down. The new formulation of Opana is similar to newer versions of Oxycontin aimed at preventing users from pulverizing the pills or dissolving them for injection. But according to Dr. David Kirschke, deputy state epidemiologist for the Tennessee Department of Health, "the condition appears to be associated specifically with the reformulated version of the medication. It could be that something was done to the pill, which may be what's causing actual illness when they do abuse it."
- FDA Requires Cuts to Dosages of Sleep Drugs [New York Times]
- Should Obamacare cover Nicorette? [Marketwatch]
- Quit-Smoking Service for 11-Year-Olds Launched in Wales [International Business Times]
- Here is What Happens When You Cast Lindsay Lohan in a Movie [New York TImes]
- "Drinking Mirror" App Aims to Show How Alcohol Ages You [CNN]
- Waco Man Bites Mother's Face, Officer's Finger While on Synthetic Marijuana [KCEN]
- Jenni Rivera Worked for Drug Cartel Before Tragic Plane Crash Death, Lawyer Claims [NY Daily News]