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Drug Trafficking

9/18/12 5:03pm

Hells Angels Coke Case Simmers in Canada

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Money and weapons collected during last
month's raid Photo via

One of a group of eight Hells Angels and their associates recently charged with trafficking and importing cocaine in British Columbia has been granted bail by the province's Supreme Court—but millions in cash and property thought to be the proceeds of organized crime is set to be forfeited. The charges stem from a sting operation that on August 25 swooped on the alleged participants in a deal to buy 200 kilos of cocaine—and also netted the cops $4 million in alleged drug money. James Howard—one of those arrested—must follow stringent conditions to secure his release on bail: he'll have to put up a $300,000 bond, give up his passport, live at his parents’ home and report weekly to a bail supervisor. He may not possess a cell phone, leave home between 8 pm and 6 am, or contact any of the other accused men, except in the presence of a lawyer. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had been investigating allegations that British Columbia-grown pot was being trafficked elsewhere to pay to import cocaine. The 21-month undercover probe stretched from Canada to the US, Mexico and Panama. The apparent involvement of two full-patch Hells Angels and their associates is no surprise—the gang is reputed to play a major role in smuggling drugs on either side of the Canadian border. “This represents the blueprint for a majority of Canadian-based organized crime in search of profits," says RCMP Superintendent Brian Cantera of the trafficking operation.

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By Chrisanne Grise

Drug War

9/18/12 3:51pm

Vice's Mexican Mormon War Doc Debuts Online

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Vice founder Shane Smith handling one of
countless confiscated US-made weapons.
Photo via

Part one of Vice magazine’s new seven-part documentary series, The Mexican Mormon War, dropped yesterday online. The documentary, hosted by Vice founder and CEO Shane Smith, is all about the intersection of the US government’s War on Drugs, the ultra-violent cartels and an under-the-radar third party: Mormons in Mexico, some of whom are related to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Part one of the series depicts the Vice crew traveling across the border from El Paso, Texas, to Juarez, Mexico—one of the most violent places on Earth—and giving the viewer a quick primer on the incredible firepower amassed by the cartels, mostly in the form of American-made, military-grade weapons, as well as the staggering amount of drugs that get shipped north. “The market for the drugs is America, the market for the weapons is here in Mexico, and they [cross over],” explains Smith. At the close of the series’ first part, Smith travels 200 miles south of Juarez, toward a Mormon settlement that has become the target of kidnappings and narco-violence—and has begun to fight back.

Here’s the full part one (viewers be warned—the video shows graphic footage of dead bodies, both cartel victims and rival gang members):

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By Hunter R. Slaton

Drug dealing

9/18/12 2:29pm

Chemistry Teacher Mimics Breaking Bad

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The real life Walter White? Photo via

Sometimes life imitates...Breaking Bad. The AMC show follows the exploits of Walter White, a mild-mannered chemistry teacher who becomes a ruthless meth dealer to support his family after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. But yesterday, real-life chemistry teacher William Duncan was arrested in the rural town of Linden, Texas, after selling homemade meth to undercover officers in the parking lot of the junior high school at which he taught, moments before the school bell rang to start the day. The arrest came after a five-month investigation into crystal meth sales in the area. Although police don't believe Duncan ever sold meth to students, they think he used the school's parking lot as his primary location to distribute the drug. "We were surprised. I've known him for a long time and I'd have never thought it," says Linden Police Chief Alton McWaters. "He's real upset about what he's done. But as I told him, I've got to do my job—and you've got to go to jail." Police also found a stash of meth in Duncan's van—the teacher told them he used the drug to help with physical pain. This isn't the first eerie resemblance to Breaking Bad to emerge: An Alabama man named Walter White was arrested last month for cooking meth. He's now in an outpatient treatment facility.

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By McCarton Ackerman

Mexican drug war

9/18/12 1:16pm

132 Mexican Prisoners Escape Through Tunnel

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The hunt is on for 132 escaped prisoners.
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Over 130 inmates burrowed out of a Mexican prison yesterday, in one of the country’s biggest jailbreaks in recent years. The prisoners—who were held in the city of Piedras Negras, just across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas—escaped through a tunnel that was 21 feet long and four feet across, before cutting through a chain-link barrier to a neighboring property. The tunnel “was not made today," explains Homero Ramos Gloria, the Coahuila Attorney General, helpfully. "It had been there for months. The prison was not overcrowded; none of our prisons are. We have 132 inmates escaping through a tunnel, and it doesn’t make sense.” Some are speculating that prison officials may have aided the inmates, and the director and two other employees of the prison have been detained for investigation. The prison holds about 730 people—meaning that this escape involved almost one fifth of its population. Of the 132 escapees, 86 were serving sentences or awaiting trial for federal crimes such as drug trafficking. Members of Mexico’s drug gangs frequently attempt to bust out their incarcerated members, and guards are often accused of working with the cartels—in December 2010, 153 inmates escaped from a prison in Nuevo Laredo, and 41 guards were charged with helping them. And of course, Mexican cartel members tend to be well-equipped with tunneling skills.

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By Chrisanne Grise

college drinking

9/18/12 12:01pm

Shaq Attacks Campus Binge Drinking

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A mighty voice against binge drinking
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At 7'1", Shaquille O'Neal was always a huge presence on court; now he's hoping to make similar impact against campus binge drinking. He and Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO), spoke for a campaign sponsored by the Century Council to fight binge drinking at historically black colleges and universities. Cleaver and O'Neal share a personal investment in the cause: Shaq's uncle Tom Nelson, a close friend of Cleaver's, was killed as a passenger in a single-car crash. The driver had been drinking heavily. “He walked away without a scratch, and my best friend was killed instantly. He went right through the dash,” says Cleaver. "That had an impact on my life forever." Although this campaign is targeted towards historically black universities, a recent study from Morgan State University showed that binge drinking rates at these schools are lower than at universities with a predominantly white student body: “It may be that when students at historically black schools go out, it is for a purpose,” says researcher Linda Loubert, comparing this to the "casual style of ‘let's go drinking’” found at many universities. But Cleaver says he hopes to make clear that weekend binge drinking can be even deadlier than the drinking patterns that many understand as alcoholism. “People will generally shun alcoholics, but they won’t shun binge drinkers—because on Monday, everybody’s at work,” he says. “Nobody is falling out on the campus. They’re back in class, so obviously there’s nothing wrong with them.”

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By McCarton Ackerman

Crazy drunk

9/18/12 11:02am

Flying Tomato Crashes to Earth

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White sports a black eye in his mugshot.
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Double Olympic gold medalist Shaun White—"The Flying Tomato"—has been charged with vandalism and public intoxication in Nashville, Tennessee, after allegedly causing drunken chaos. The 26-year-old snowboarding phenomenon was a guest at Nashville's Loews Vanderbilt Hotel this weekend. Police were summoned at 2 am Sunday morning, after a fire alarm was pulled by a drunk man—identified as White—causing the hotel to be evacuated. A hotel employee also claims to have witnessed White destroying a hotel telephone. Police say the athlete smelled of alcohol and appeared extremely intoxicated. White then attempted to leave the scene and was stopped by a hotel guest—whom White allegedly kicked before running away. The man chased him, and the two collided, causing White to fall backwards and hit his head on a fence. The Olympian was taken to a local hospital and given the opportunity to sign misdemeanor citations—but refused. "He basically put himself in jail by not signing that," says a police source. White was released from the hospital early yesterday morning, and arrested shortly after. Released later in the day, he's set to appear in court on October 10. This isn't White's first hotel-related incident: back in December 2007, he was cited by Colorado police after discharging a fire extinguisher. 

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By Valerie Tejeda

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