New allegations suggest that US DEA agents participated in police brutality during a violent drug raid in the tiny village of Ahuas, Honduras on May 11 that resulted in a number of civilian casualties. Police arrived by helicopter while following a load of cocaine on a riverboat and shot at the boat in the dark—they claim in self-defense—wounding four civilians and leaving four others dead. The agents also reportedly broke into houses and "terrorized" local villagers in their hunt for a drug trafficker called "El Rencko"—and villagers say some of those responsible were English-speaking "gringos." The DEA claims that its agents were on the helicopter mission as advisers for the Honduran National Police, and didn't use their weapons. The shoot-out is the latest bout of violence in the Mosquitia, an area of northern Honduras that has been rife with drug-running for decades. In the last few years—with authorities cracking down on other major drug pathways between South America and the US (mainly in Mexico)—cocaine shipments in to Honduras have increased. According to the state department, 79% of all cocaine smuggling flights from South America first stop in Honduras—a small country of 8 million people, with one of the highest murder rates in the world. Many ordinary Hondurans have become tangled in the drug war, with impoverished families hired to load and unload cocaine.
Supermodel Kate Moss’s much-publicized substance abuse struggles and stints in rehab don’t seem to have translated to long-term sobriety, according to her ex-boyfriend, hard-partying Libertines rocker Pete Doherty. He says that he’s still getting drunk-dialed by the 38-year-old heroin chic icon—nearly five years after they separated. Doherty, 33, who has long been tabloid-fodder in the UK for his own drug problems, is currently in Cannes promoting his debut film, Confession of a Child of the Century, and says Moss’s friends never approved of him. “People in her life didn’t want to have anything to do with me,” he complains. “Every time we’d have an argument she’d say, ‘All my friends are right about you.’” But even now Moss is married to The Kills frontman Jamie Hince, she may still be hanging on to her addled past with Doherty; she apparently still calls him once in awhile. “She wants to get drunk and call me and talk shit. That’s fine but I wouldn’t be able to do that to her,” says Doherty. “I’ve listened to her [on voicemail]. A couple of times she’s got drunk and called me and been a bit silly. But she’s a happily married woman, why does she want to speak to me?” Sounds like both old love and old habits die hard.
The mayor of Fukoka, Japan has mandated a dry spell for all city employees after a catalog of drunken behavior. Until next month, all 20,000 municipal personnel are banned from any public drinking: that means not one drop at restaurants, bars, public functions—and even at the homes of friends and family. The only exceptions are in their own homes and at their own weddings—drinking at someone else's wedding is still a no-no. “It is shock therapy to reform the consciousness of city officials,” says Mayor Soichiro Takashima. He says he was forced to law down the law after too many booze-fueled mishaps from his underlings. One intoxicated fireman was arrested for stealing a car, while the deputy headmaster of a municipal elementary school was arrested for driving drunk in his in February. Then a city port bureau official allegedly assaulted a taxi driver while under the influence. But the last straw for the mayor was a drunken throw down between a city childcare division employee and a former colleague—leaving one of the men hospitalized. By the time the month-long ban is over, the mayor hopes to have permanent new penalties for city workers who raise a ruckus while on the sauce. "We want to restore citizens' trust by changing this climate of drinking that has grown over the years and transforming us into a brand new city hall," he declares. "I hope each of you takes this abnormal situation seriously because this matter involves everyone."
Mexican forces have arrested a suspect for the gruesome massacre that saw 49 decapitated bodies found next to a highway in Mexico last week. Daniel de Jesus Elizondo Ramirez—aka "The Madman," a leader of the Zetas drug cartel—was arrested by Mexican soldiers in the northern state of Nuevo Leon. He reportedly threw grenades and fired at troops with a rifle as they fought to take him into custody on Sunday. The killings have been called the worst crime yet committed in the Mexican drug war, which has escalated since President Felipe Calderon came into office in 2006. None of the corpses have been identified. Graffiti was sprayed at the scene where the bodies were discovered, reading “100% Z,” and a video was posted online showing men dumping a large pile of corpses on the road that night, with a message on a blanket also apparently signed by the Zetas. The Zetas have denied responsibility—even posting a sign that read, "Just because somebody goes and dumps a truck full of bodies and leave a message (supposedly) from zetas, you are not suppose to continue with your job [?]" It continued: “Gentlemen don't be fools, those who did this want to make us responsible... We are not responsible for the 49 deaths. We accept responsibility for the ones in Jalisco and the nine hanged in Nuevo Laredo. We accept responsibility for those and the banner in Nuevo Laredo."
NYC Drinking Rate, Hospitalizations on the Rise [Huffington Post]
No Booze for Russians at Summer Olympics [USA Today]
- Massachusetts Doctor's Group Opposes Medical Marijuana [Boston Globe]
New Jersey Assembly OKs Decriminalization of Small Amounts of Pot [Asbury Park Press]
Using Drugs to Help Alcoholics Break Addiction Cycle [New York Times]
- Drug Addict Steals Meat to Feed His Habit [The Mercury]
This year's National Prevention Week, organized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is here—and there are many ways to get involved. The new annual observance celebrates people and organizations who work year-round to prevent substance abuse and promote mental and emotional health, and organizations across the country are hosting events to raise awareness about their work and to show people how to get involved in preventing substance abuse in their communities. Some of the central issues to be addressed include the prevention of underage drinking, prescription drug abuse and suicide. As for the timing, spring is a crucial time for drug abuse education, since first-time marijuana, cigarette and alcohol use among youth tends to rise between April and July, partly due to graduations and outdoor events and parties, which often involve alcohol and drugs.
To get involved, check out this map to find an event in your area, and sign the prevention pledge to commit to a substance abuse-free lifestyle. You can also download the National Prevention Week Toolkit to help you plan an event in your own community. The theme of this year's National Prevention Week is: "We are the ones. How are you taking action?" It's an idea that "recognizes that small, every day actions contribute to healthier, more vibrant communities," says SAMHSA director Fran Harding. The theme was introduced last year as part of SAMHSA's PSA Video Contest; below is the winning entry: "I Am More Than Meets The Eye."