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overzealous cops

1/08/14 3:30pm

Outrage Over Arrest of Special Needs Student for Selling $3 Vicodin Pill

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Last month, Southern California narcotics officers arrested 25 high school students for drug dealing and possession after a 21 Jump Street-like operation where they posed as teenagers looking to score. But buried beneath the headline was the arrest of a 15-year-old special needs student whose parents believe that was entrapped by the police.

Most of the students arrested in the Dec. 12th raid were immediately released to their parents. But Monique Gallo, mother to the special needs student whose first name has been withheld, saw her son sentenced by a judge to juvenile hall through the holidays because he was already on probation for fighting in middle school last year. “He’s pretty shaken up. This is the first time he’s ever been in juvenile hall,” Gallo said. She stated in an interview with the Press-Enterprise that her son suffers from learning disabilities and reads at a third-grade level.

Gallo went on to describe what she felt were questionable tactics used by police, specifically with her son, whom she said was relentlessly pressured by the undercover officer to sell him a $3 pain pill even though her son had never sold drugs in the past. “It just isn’t right what they did to some of these kids,” Gallo said. “They just ruined most of these kids’ futures.”

A similar incident occurred at Temecula High School in 2012, when a teenager with autism was alleged to have been pressured to sell an uncover officer marijuana. His parents sued the school district to have their son reinstated after his expulsion, claiming that the school knowingly allowed their son to be targeted despite his learning disabilities.

Such concerns were what ultimately led to the demise of a similar drug-bust program in the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2005.

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By Shawn Dwyer

legal pot in ny

1/08/14 1:00pm

New York State Next for Medical Marijuana?

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New York governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced plans to make medical marijuana available to patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma and other serious illnesses.

According to a report in the New York Times, the executive action will allow 20 hospitals in the state to legally prescribe cannabis to qualified patients who meet standards set by the New York Department of Health. The plan has greater limits that those in several of the 20 states that currently allow the use of marijuana, including California, where it can be prescribed for backaches or anxiety, or Colorado, where the January 1, 2014 passage of Amendment 64 to the state constitution legalized recreational marijuana use. According to a 2013 report by the New York City Comptroller’s office, more than 100,000 New York City residents with chronic and severe pain, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, and other conditions could benefit from Cuomo’s action.

While Governor Cuomo’s plan does not currently provide information on when or how medical marijuana will be made available to patients, his decision has drawn the attention of advocates for both legalized marijuana use and legal reform. Cuomo has previously shared a skeptical view of medical marijuana with former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who described its efficacy as “one of the greatest hoaxes of all time.” However, Cuomo’s newfound stance is one of several recent campaigns to reach a broader demographic of his political base, including same-sex marriage in 2011 and tougher gun-control laws in the wake of the Newton, CT shootings. While detractors have decried the governor’s decision as an attempt to shore up voters in an election year, his position is in line with popular opinion at both the state and national level, which calls for reform of New York’s notoriously tough marijuana laws and overwhelmingly supports the legalization of medical marijuana.

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By Paul Gaita

china's war on drugs

1/08/14 10:30am

Chinese Meth 'Fortress' Raided By 3,000 Police Members

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Chinese officials successfully raided a “fortress” of meth production that comprised much of an entire village Guangdong province. More than 3,000 police officers raided Boshe village last weekend, arresting 182 drug ring members, and destroying 77 meth labs. Out of the 1,700 households in the village, more than 20 percent of them either produced or sold drugs for a living.

Fourteen party officials and local officials were among those arrested for allowing the drug rings to operate. Even the party chief of Boshe village, Cai Dongjia, was arrested for actively protecting the drug rings after moving on from manufacturing meth himself. The drug production had became so rampant in the village that a sign at the local garbage collection site read: “discarding of meth lab garbage is forbidden.”

Guo Shaobo, deputy chief of the Guangdong Public Security Bureau, said that drug manufacturing in Boshe was “organized by families, managed as an industry and protected by the locals.” Police had attempted to take action against the village before, but Dongjia used his influence as a member of the people’s congress of Shantou municipality to free arrested suspects.

But now that all drugs have been removed from the fortress, Boshe residents are struggling to figure out how to move forward. The village has become so polluted with meth chemicals that the groundwater is currently unsuitable for farming.

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By McCarton Ackerman

child drug mules

1/08/14 8:30am

London Gangs Using Children As Drug Mules

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London has become an unlikely source for child drug mules as gangs are beginning to use children as young as 11 years old to expand their power into the towns and countryside surrounding the city. Kevin Moore, intelligence manager for the south-east regional organized crime unit, confirmed that they had evidence young children were running guns and drugs for veteran gang members, although most of the mules ranged between 16-24 years old.

"There have been incidents where young people were found with large-ish quantities of crack, cocaine and other class A drugs. We see young people asked to courier class A drugs to wherever the market is,” said Moore. "Often those carrying the drugs are not running the operation. In that sense it is similar to a mule situation where the risk is taken away from the elder [members] who can behave with impunity with less risk of getting caught."

A 16-year-old boy was busted for drug smuggling last August in the town of Gillingham, while a similarly aged London boy pleaded guilty that same month to possession of ammunition and possession with intent to supply class A drugs. "It's very much a phenomenon of the last five years and although we're not talking about a massive deluge of cases, it's noticeable,” said an anonymous solicitor. "It appears these kids are below the radar, chosen because they are usually clean. In the main they seem fairly respectable – their families sit in the back of court utterly lost for words."

Moore said that girls are also being used as drug mules, but fall victim to sexual abuse from the gang members as well. But the growing problem of child drug mules is largely due to a sagging economy and rampant poverty, something which arresting these children fails to address. "We are arresting these young people but not tackling the conditions that leave them vulnerable. We are dealing with the symptoms and not the cause,” said John Pitts, an expert on gangs. “There will always be a stubborn cohort who need additional support, and if that is not being offered by the state then it will be offered by someone who is not at all interested in the betterment of society."

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By McCarton Ackerman

headlines

1/08/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: January 8, 2014

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By Shawn Dwyer

News

1/07/14 7:30pm

Intel Drops McAfee Name From Security Software

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Intel Corp., which paid $7.68 billion in 2010 for the antivirus software that bore the name of its notorious creator, John McAfee, has now decided to rebrand the security software.

While such a move would be innocuous under normal circumstances, Intel’s effort has been cast under the heavy shadow of McAfee’s increasingly bizarre behavior while an expatriate in Belize, which culminated in him being a person of interest in the murder of American Gregory Faull while allegedly being high on bath salts. Before Faull’s murder, which happened just days after he filed a complaint against McAfee for his “roguish behavior,” the software founder was fond of posing for pictures with a variety of weapons and strippers while expressing his love for psychoactive stimulants on Russian drug message boards. McAfee tried to seek asylum in Guatemala, but managed to get himself deported back to the United States instead.

Of course, Intel denied that McAfee’s particular zest for life had anything to do with the change. "Everybody realized the man was trying to get a laugh or make a joke. It is far from something that most buyers took seriously," said Intel’s chief technology officer Michael Fey. "We didn't really feel much pressure."

For his part, a typically direct McAfee expressed his pleasure for Intel dropping his name from the product. "I've been begging them to drop the brand or fix the product," he said in an interview. "I am who I am. I'm sorry I live on the edge and enjoy life and don't care what people think of me. I'm sorry that the software has my name."

Regardless of Intel's reasons for dropping his name, surely this bizarre NSFW video had nothing to do with it.

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By Shawn Dwyer

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