- Nicotine Gum and Skin Patch Face New Doubt [New York Times]
- Mexican Cartels Using Young Children To Smuggle Drugs [Fox News]
- Citing Rise In Meth Labs, Missouri Seeks Statewide Ban of Pseudoephedrine [Missouri Net]
- Ireland's Heroin Addicts Neglected By Overburdened State [Irish Times]
- Trooper Discovers 39 Pounds Of Cocaine At Routine Traffic Stop [KETK]
- While More People Favor Legalizing MMJ, Local Governments Move To Block Legislation [Sacramento Bee]
Stopping short of a recall, the FDA has warned of a possible drug mix-up of several widely used over-the-counter-medications by manufacturer Norvartis Pharmaceuticals. The drugs' packagings may have been accidentally switched with those of powerful opiate pain medications. Whoops. Non-prescription pain reliever Excedrin and anti-gas medication Gas-X are two of the meds involved; Norvartis fears packages of these drugs have been filled with addictive prescription pain pills like Percocet, Endocet, Opana and Zydone, which are manufactured at the same Endo Pharmaceutical plant.Norvartis has received several complaints about broken and damaged pills as well as inconstant packaging, but as yet, no reports of consumers having taken the drugs or accidental ODs. Norvartis Pharmaceuticals have asked that consumers return any suspect drugs for a refund, opting for a voluntary recall, even though the FDA has stated it won't order a recall due to the small risk posed. The FDA’s Dr. Edward Cox says, “The likelihood of finding a wrong tablet in an opiate pain medication dispensed to patients is low and patients should not be unduly alarmed.”
Former Cambodian drug czar Moek Dara was sentenced sentenced to life in prison last Thursday for masterminding illegal drug trafficking and accepting bribes. Upon his arrest in January 2011, he was serving as the secretary general for the National Anti-Drug Trafficking Department. “I did not commit any crime like the accusation. It’s life imprisonment, sentencing me (as though) I am a mastermind in drug trafficking, but there is not even one pill of drug,” said Dara after his sentencing. He plans to appeal the verdict, which he has one month to do under Cambodian law. Although the country has outlawed the death penalty for drug trafficking, Cambodian drug laws and treatment of addicts remain among the strictest in the world. Two of Dara’s accomplices in the corruption racket have also received lengthy sentences: Chea Leng, former Ministry of Interior anti-drug chief, was sentenced to life in prison while Morn Doeun, who is currently in hiding, was sentenced to 25 years in absentia.
A Bronx Assistant DA was busted for DWI this weekend—he's the third from his office within a year. Rafael Urena was stopped by cops at a checkpoint on Manhattan's East 61st Street at 3:40 am Saturday morning. He blew a .081 on the breathalyzer and was taken into custody. When asked by police if he was familiar with the breathalyzer, he brazenly replied, "Yeah, I know what it is; I'm a Bronx assistant district attorney." Urena is the third person from the Bronx District Attorney's office to be charged with drunken driving in the last 12 months: in early 2011, Assistant DA Jennifer Troiano was involved in a major accident on the Major Deegan Expressway, while Assistant DA Stephen Lopresti was also involved in a major collision on the Grand Concourse. Lopresti was later acquitted by a jury.
Pharmacies across the country have good reason to be on edge with a reported drastic surge in violent robberies involving mass quantities of narcotic painkillers and other controlled substances. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, there were 688 armed pharmacy robberies involving controlled substances in the US in 2010: a 79% increase from 2006. New York has seen the biggest rise, with 30 in 2010—up from just four in 2006. Counties in Long Island have been hit hardest recently; two pharmacy robberies in the second half of 2011 caused six deaths. “I didn’t know when I got my pharmacist’s license I’d put my life on the line like a cop or soldier,” says Howard Jacobson, the owner of two Long Island pharmacies. A number of drugstores in the region have stopped stocking drugs like Oxycontin and posted signs stating that they don’t carry it. New York State Senator Charles Schumer called last week for better security and longer sentences for drugstore-related crimes. The makers of Oxycontin, Purdue Pharmacy, created RxPatrol in 2010, which tracks pharmacy crimes and offers $2,500 for information leading to arrests of drugstore robbers.
Attempting to infiltrate a powerful Mexican drug cartel, US DEA agents assisted traffickers smuggling millions of dollars around the world, and helped at least one shipment of cocaine make its way through the US and into Spain. Details of the DEA's effort to fight drug trafficking by helping drug traffickers come from a batch of Mexican government documents obtained by the New York Times. Among them is testimony from a DEA agent who ran a secret money laundering probe into Harold Mauricio Poveda-Ortega, a Colombian known as "The Rabbit" who's accused of sending 150 tons to Mexican in the last decade.
The DEA occupys a precarious position that risks "helping the bad guys more than hurting them," former assistant US attorney Morris Panner tells the Times. The chance of providing unintentional aid to drug traffickers is increased by the long timetable needed on these types of investigations. In this case the DEA started with small-time money laundering in order to get closer to Poveda-Ortega. In a statement DEA defends its operation, which it claims helped lead to the capture or death of dozens of traffickers: “Transnational organized groups can be defeated only by transnational law enforcement cooperation.”