As the drug war continues to devastate Mexico, and the death toll exceeds 63,000, many newspapers and media sources have refused to cover the atrocities out of fear for their safety. But day-after-day, Blog del Narco has continued to cover the violence, making it a "must-read" for cartel-members, government officials and citizens throughout the country. The blog's anonymous founder has spoken to press for the first time under the pseudonym "Lucy." “Who am I?" she reveals, "I'm in my mid-20s, I live in northern Mexico, I'm a journalist. I'm a woman, I'm single, I have no children. And I love Mexico.” Blog del Narco now receives over three million hits a week and has over 120,000 Twitter followers. But Lucy says that she and her cohorts live in constant fear of both the government and the cartels; she claims the tortured and disemboweled bodies of a young man and woman hung from a bridge in September 2011 were blog collaborators. “They used to send us photographs,” Lucy recalls. “That was very hard, very painful.” Lucy says the threats have increased since then, forcing her and her co-collaborators on the run. “We change where we live every month," she explains, "We've been in basements. It's very difficult. We hide our equipment in different places. If the authorities get close we run.”
Lucy's dedication to the site has prevented her from having a "normal" life. “My only boyfriend is the blog," she explains, "A whole phase of my life—boyfriends, going to parties, hanging out with friends—I've missed it. Getting married, having babies—there's not been time to think of any of that.” But despite "[thinking] about quitting the blog thousands of times," she and her co-collaborators continue their work, because "we have to get the message out. They have stolen our tranquility, our dreams, our peace.” Lucy hopes her new book, Dying for the Truth: Undercover Inside the Mexican Drug War by the Fugitive Reporters of Blog del Narco, a collection of reports and graphic photographs of the atrocities, will help inform the world about what's really going on in Mexico. In the meantime, she's focused on survival. “My plans for the future?" she says, "To live. That's my hope for the short, medium and long term.”
A veteran NYPD officer is accused of going well below and beyond his line of duty by helping a crew of robbers to steal more than a million dollars from drug dealers. Jose Tejada, who has been a member of the NYPD since 1996, allegedly provided the robbers with high-tech police equipment and offered the use of his apartment to aid in the scheme. Tejada was arrested yesterday and faces multiple counts of robbery, drug dealing and weapon charges, which could lead to a minimum of 17 years in prison if convicted on all charges. Court documents filed yesterday claim that the robbers posed as police officers and used fake warrants to arrest a group of drug traffickers, then robbed them of their money and drug stashes that included pot, heroin, ecstasy and cocaine. In total, the crew of robbers, including Tejada and the 21 other members, are tied to more than 100 robberies throughout NYC since 2001. Tejada allegedly participated in three robberies in 2006 and 2007, stealing thousands of dollars while dressed in police uniform. Authorities will push for Tejada to be denied bail by labeling him a "substantial flight risk," since he owns property in the Dominican Republic and has traveled there to visit family at least 10 times in the last decade.
Rapper Joe Budden didn't tread his road to sobriety alone; he had the support of fellow recovering rapper Eminem. Budden's battle with addiction has been well-documented and was even featured in his VH1 reality show Love & Hip Hop: New York. But he's more discrete about his friendship with Eminem, which he says played a huge part in his recovery. "Those conversations are confidential between us, but we definitely spoke about it," he says on last night's episode of MTV's RapFix Live. "He shared some of his experiences; I've shared some of mine. It's a real unique situation, because we're signed there (to Eminem's label Shady Records) and he's one of the greatest rappers ever in my opinion, but as just a person, it's really like family." Both rappers have used music as an outlet to share about their struggles with addiction: Eminem did so extensively in his 2009 LP Relapse and the follow-up album Recovery, and Budden rhymes about his molly problem in the track "Castles" from his latest album No Love Lost ("Them mollys were cool when we all were doing 'em/ But nobody recalled when I was the only one they were ruining"). Budden said earlier this year that the popular party drug "nearly killed him;" it also evidently put a damper on his sex life. "I never had time to have sex. It was doing too much to my brain," he says, "Once it starts doing that, a bad string of events start to happen with life. Life started to become unmanageable at that point."
As The Fix recently reported, the Aryan Brotherhood white supremacist prison gang, which relies on heroin dealing to maintain its power, remains strong despite crackdowns against it—and is capable of reaching far beyond prison walls. Now one large regional faction, the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT), is believed to have done just this, with horrifying results. Since a federal racketeering indictment in Houston targeted gang leaders in November, a seemingly retaliatory spate of violence has occurred—including the murders of North Texas District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife last weekend, following those of Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse and Colorado Corrections Director Tom Clements. The fear this has created is reflected by reports yesterday that one federal prosecutor, Jay Hileman, has dropped out of the Houston case due to "security concerns."
From behind prison walls, locked down in isolation cells 24/7, it seems the ABT's leaders have been able to orchestrate a campaign of terror against law enforcement. This goes beyond their usual drug-trade scope—even if the ruthlessness involved is typical. "I've been locked up with these guys," one prisoner tells The Fix. "Some of these ABT dudes are psychopaths. They don't care about nothing except moving drugs, getting respect and making money. If you get in their way, you're hit." The ABT reportedly has over 4,000 members in prison and on the streets. "The ABT run Texas, they run the Texas prisons, they are spreading into the feds now," says the prisoner. "They control all the southern penitentiaries in the feds: USP Beaumont, USP Pollock and others. They got a vice grip on these pens and they are not going to let go." If the various Aryan Brotherhood groups—estimated to consist of over 15,000 members and associates nationwide—ever succeed in improving their communications and coordination, the impact on law enforcement and prison staff could be devastating.
Scientists have found they can zap away cocaine addiction with lasers, although so far only in rats. By inhibiting neural activity, scientists were able to switch addictive impulses off—and on—with laser lights aimed at the prefrontal cortex of the rats' brains. "When we turn on a laser light in the prelimbic region of the prefrontal cortex, the compulsive cocaine seeking is gone," says Antonello Bonci, MD, UCSF, in a press release. The results of the new study, published in the journal Nature, are the first to prove the link between activity in a certain region of the brain, and addictive behavior. "This is the first study to show a cause-and-effect relationship between cocaine-induced brain deficits in the prefrontal cortex and compulsive cocaine-seeking," says lead study author Billy Chen, PhD, author from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). "These results provide evidence for a cocaine-induced deficit within a brain region that is involved in disorders characterized by poor impulse control, including addiction." As of now, the lasers have only been tested on rats, but scientists are planning for human trials which will use electromagnetic stimulation—instead of lasers—on the brain. They hope to achieve the same results. "This exciting study offers a new direction of research for the treatment of cocaine and possibly other addictions," says NIDA director Nora D. Volkow, MD. "We already knew, mainly from human brain imaging studies, that deficits in the prefrontal cortex are involved in drug addiction. Now that we have learned how fundamental these deficits are, we feel more confident than ever about the therapeutic promise of targeting that part of the brain."
- Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Pushes for Stricter Prescription Pill Legislation [Newsday]
- Washington State Marijuana-Bars Issue Prompts Crackdown [Huffington Post]
- The Latest Evidence that US Drug Policy is Madness [The Atlantic]
- What You Need to Know About Office Drinking [The Atlantic]
- US Lifts Ban on Colombia Soccer Team Once Tied to Cartel [Bloomberg]
- David Sheff: We Need to Rethink Rehab [Time]
- Clark Gable's Son Arrested For DUI Hit-and-Run [USA Today]
- DJ Clue Arrested for Drugs in NY [TMZ]