A huge marijuana-eradication action is underway in Northwestern California's famed "Emerald Triangle." The military-style operation—a collaboration of hundreds of federal, state and local agencies, was launched on July 17 and is set to end on August 5. It's already resulted in the seizure of some 300,000 pot plants and 77 arrests. Ground Zero is the Mendocino National Forest, which includes the nation’s top three cannabis-cultivating counties: Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity. This time of year is peak growing season for pot and the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) wages war annually against the Golden State's multi-billion dollar crop, typically eradicating as much as 25%.
But critics claim that the 30-year-old CAMP campaign has become an end in itself, making little dent in the volume, cost or availability of marijuana on the street. "CAMP is an enormous waste of money—I've even heard law enforcement refer to this as helicopter rides," said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli of the Drug Policy Alliance. "It's fun for them, but spending this money on that doesn't do any good, and that's a shame when we're in such dire budgetary shape." And because marijuana is the region’s cash crop, keeping local economies afloat, not all local residents are exactly cheerleading the assault either, with its 24-hour helicopter and SWAT raids. "The laws are what they are," said CAMP spokesperson Michelle Gregory. "We're going to enforce the law." The Department of Justice, which will hold a local press conference on Friday, claims that the massive sweep is aimed at “large-scale, possibly gangland operations," and not at Proposition 215 medical marijuana grow sites.
A Colorado crook accused of preying on 22 fellow AA members, many of them elderly, in a devious Ponzi scheme admitted one count of theft after a plea deal. Alcoholic investors in a state noted for its binges entrusted their cash to 72-year-old Richard Mayfield of Larimer County. One alleged victim, William Nies, said he attended the same daily meetings as Mayfield, who then approached him with a "no-risk" investment opportunity. "He invaded the AA fellowship and used the fellowship for his own purpose," said Nies, who now calls Mayfield a "pathological liar." The swindling senior citizen had previously run two companies marketing products to help struggling salespeople: One $99 "solution" was simply a double-sided sheet describing Jesus as the answer. In all, Mayfield hustled together $466,496 from his "investors," including one alleged victim who was over a hundred years old. He will be sentenced at Larimer County Justice center on September 15 and faces up to six years in the slammer, along with a fine of up to half a million dollars.
- Chemical Compound Helps Neutralize Cocaine, Researchers Say [LA Times]
- NAACP Passes Resolution Calling for End to Drug War [ThinkProgress.org]
- Sobriety in the Court: Judge has Success with Recovery Plan [Detroit Free Press]
- Liquor Board Mulls Rules on Alcohol Delivery [Washington Times]
- Amy Winehouse and the Need for a "Higher Power" in Recovery [Deseret News]
- Chinese Couple Sell Children to Feed Game Addiction [TG Daily]
- Drug War: ATF, ICE, DEA, IRS and White House Implicated in Gunwalker Scandal [TheTruthAboutGuns.com]
- Most Expensive Bottle of White Wine Ever Sold for £75,000 [Daily Mail]
The US Coast Guard has urged boaters to refrain from using drugs and alcohol on the water, as the deaths of a South Carolina couple starkly underlined the point. Timothy Jones died with his partner Kimberly Bailey on Friday, after the boat he was driving on Lake Murray crashed into a dock. This week the coroner reported that Jones had a blood alcohol content of 0.357 and Bailey one of 0.187. Blood alcohol above 0.08 makes you legally impaired, which makes operating a vehicle (including a boat) illegal. "Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is extremely dangerous in addition to being illegal," said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew White, Assistant Chief of the 9th Coast Guard District Enforcement Branch. "It can also result in significant fines and land you in jail." The Coast Guard has been cracking down on wasted boaters and has issued 19 boating-under-the-influence-citations to vessel operators on the Great Lakes in the past few weeks. In addition, nine underage teens were found to be intoxicated after being rescued from their sinking craft. Boating under the influence increases the risk of capsizing or falling overboard. Drunk people who fall overboard tend not to be wearing life-jackets and nearly one in five boating accidents is credited to drug and alcohol abuse.
200 pounds of meth, 200 pounds of marijuana, one pound of cocaine and three pounds of heroin were seized in San Diego this week, as the DEA arrested 24 people for smuggling the merchandise across the border from Mexico. An 18-month sting operation, "Project Delirium," has targeted American-based suspects with ties to La Familia, a bloodthirsty drug-trafficking operation based in Michoacan, Mexico. Among the main suspects are Mayra Arroyo, 24, and Roberto Buenrostro Duran, 23. Officers found 18 pounds of meth buried in Arroyo's back yard, while Buenrostro was apparently stopped by agents while wearing a backpack stuffed with the drug. Along with Francisco Saucedo, 46, they were charged with possession of methamphetamine for sale, transportation of methamphetamine, and employing a minor to carry a controlled substance. They pleaded not guilty and are being held on $500,000 bond. The prosecutor laments that they face "just" five to eight years of jail time if convicted. But even such sizable seizures are no more than drops in the drug war ocean. Project Delirium has seen the arrests of 1,980 people in the US. The authorities have also nabbed $60 million cash, 2,770 pounds of meth, 6,000 pounds of cocaine, 1,000 pounds of heroin, 14,000 pounds of marijuana and $3.8 million in other assets. Multiple law enforcement organizations have been involved, including US Border Patrol and the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.
The lawyer defending Anders Behring Breivik, the right-wing extremist who carried out a bombing and mass shooting in Norway on Friday—with 76 deaths currently confirmed—stated today that his client used "some kind of drugs" before the killings. The vague wording leaves it unclear whether this was a regular occurrence, or whether Breivik, 32, was using the unspecified substance(s) in an attempt to facilitate his planned attacks. He admits the killings but denies the terrorism charge he faces. His lawyer, Geir Lippestad, also indicated that he might pursue a verdict of insanity, saying: "This whole case indicated that he is insane." A medical evaluation is due to establish Breivik's psychiatric condition soon. Christopher M. Byron, author of Mind Drugs, Inc.: How Big Pharma and Modern Psychiatry Have Corrupted Washington and Destroyed Mental Health in America, told The Fix in reaction to the drug link: "I'm not surpised. Drugs are mixed up one way or another in nearly every mass homicide of the last twenty years." He particularly pointed the finger at psychiatric drugs, such as Prozac, Luvox and Zoloft, which he said "routinely turn up as a precipitating factor in workplace violence" and have been linked with numerous killing sprees. In Norway the maximum penalty for any crime is normally 21 years in prison, but those incarcerated can be held for longer if they are judged "criminally insane" and a threat to the public. Prosecutors are considering charging Breivik with crimes against humanity, which carry a potential 30-year sentence.