It's jail guards gone wild this week! Let's get to it:
[image:1 align:left]In Goose Creek, South Carolina, a Goose Creek jail guard was sentenced Tuesday to eight months in federal prison for smuggling drugs into the jail. Adam Jason Spindler, 33, had pleaded guilty in August to one count each of drug conspiracy and possession of controlled substances with the intent to distribute. He went down after a search as he entered the jail turned up heroin and marijuana. He later admitted he intended to sell the drugs.
In Lafayette, Louisiana, a Lafayette Parish jail deputy was arrested Monday on charges he intended to smuggle drugs into the jail. Deputy Jonathan Fremin, 52, is accused of obtaining suboxone without a prescription for himself and an inmate. He is charged with malfeasance in office, criminal conspiracy to introduce contraband into a penal facility and possession with intent to distribute Schedule III narcotics.
In Cleveland, Ohio, a Cuyahoga County jail guard was arrested Saturday for peddling dope. Brian Salters, 39, went down not at work, but after being caught slinging drugs near a liquor store on Shaw Avenue. Vice officers saw him sell marijuana to one man, then detained him and searched his car, where they found an unloaded gun, a box of ammunition, 28 bags of marijuana, four bags of crack cocaine, two bags of heroin, two bags of ecstasy pills, and a pill bottle with 20 unidentified pills in a Pringles can that had heroin residue inside, according to police reports. At last report, Salter was still in jail and the precise charges had not been announced.
This article was published in collaboration with Alternet and first appeared here.
Hundreds of members of the Atlanta community and dozens of the nation's leading advocates for drug policy reform gathered in a groundbreaking meeting over the weekend. The meeting aimed at building alliances with the African American community to both advance smart public health approaches to drug policy and maintain and protect existing reforms in the face of hostile powers in Washington.
[image:1 align:left caption:true]Sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, Georgia State University's Department of African American Studies, the Morehouse School of Medicine, Amnesty International, The Ordinary People's Society, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and Peachtree NORML, "Not One Step Back" marked the first time the drug reform movement has come to the historically black colleges of the South and signals the emergence of a powerful new alliance between black academics and reform advocates.
The event included a series of panels filled with activists, academics, and public health experts, including Black Lives Matter cofounder Patrice Cullors and VH1 personality and best-selling author Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, and was highlighted by a keynote address by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).
To the delight of the audience, "Auntie Maxine" slammed the drug war as aimed only at certain communities while those making fortunes at the top of the illegal drug trade go untouched. The representative from South Central reached back to the days of the crack cocaine boom to make her case.
"The police did everything you think wouldn't happen in a democracy," she said, citing illegal raids and thuggish behavior from the LAPD of then-Chief Darryl Gates, the inventor of the SWAT team. But if low-level users and dealers were getting hammered, others involved went scot free.
"Something happened to devastate our communities," she said, alluding to the arrival of massive amounts of cocaine flowing from political allies of the Reagan administration as it waged war against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. "The CIA and DEA turned a blind eye," Waters argued. "If you're the CIA and DEA, you know who the dealer is, but they take the lower-level dealers and let the big dealers keep selling drugs."
"Ricky Ross did time," she said, referencing the South Central dealer held responsible for unleashing the crack epidemic (with the help of Nicaraguan Contra connections). "But those big banks that laundered all that drug money -- nobody got locked up, they just have to pay fines. But for them, fines are just a cost of doing business. Even today, some of the biggest banks are laundering money for drug dealers," Waters noted.
"We have to defend our communities; we don't support drugs and addiction, but you need to know that people in high places bear some responsibility. One of the worst things about the drug war is that we never really dealt with how these drugs come into our communities," Waters added.
The selection of Atlanta for the conclave was no accident. Georgia is a state that incarcerates blacks for drug offenses at twice the rate it does whites. While blacks make up only a third of the state's population, they account for three-quarters of those behind bars for marijuana offenses.
The state has the nation's fourth-highest incarceration rate, with a prison population on track to grow 8% within the next five years, and one out of every 13 adults in the state are in prison or jail or on probation or parole.
Atlanta is also the powerhouse of the South -- the region's largest city, and one that is increasingly progressive in a long-time red state that could now be turning purple. And it is the site of the Drug Policy Alliance's International Drug Policy Reform Conference -- the world's premier drug reform gathering -- set for October. What better place to bring a laser focus on the racial injustice of the drug war?
"The drug war is coded language," said Drug Policy Alliance senior director asha bandele. "When the law no longer allowed the control and containment of people based on race, they inserted the word 'drug' and then targeted communities of color. Fifty years later, we see the outcome of that war. Drug use remains the same, and black people and people of color are disproportionately locked up. But no community, regardless of race, has been left unharmed, which is why we are calling everyone together to strategize."
And strategize they did, with panels such as "Drug Reform is a Human Rights Issue," "This is What the Drug War Looks Like: Survivors Speak," "Strength, Courage, and Wisdom: Who We Must Be in These Times," and "Dreaming a World: A Nation Beyond Prisons and Punishment."
While denunciations of white privilege were to be expected, the accompanying arguments that capitalism plays a role in perpetuating oppression and inequality was surprisingly frank.
"We have to dismantle both white supremacy and capitalism," said Eunisses Hernandez, a California-based program coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance. "We need to reach a place where trauma is dealt with in a public health model. The current system of law enforcement, prisons, and jails doesn't do anything for us."
"We're in agreement here," said Dr. Hill. "We have to eliminate white supremacy and capitalism."
That's not something you hear much in mainstream political discourse, but in Atlanta, under the impetus of addressing the horrors of the war on drugs, the search for answers is leading to some very serious questions -- questions that go well beyond the ambit of mere drug reform. Something was brewing in Atlanta this weekend. Whether the initial progress will be built upon remains to be seen, but the drug reformers are going to be back in October to try to strengthen and deepen those new-found bonds.
A Houston cop admits to tweaking, a Pennsylvania jail supervisor gets in trouble after dropping a packet of heroin on the floor, and more. Let's get to it:
[image:1 align:right]In Houston, a Houston police officer was relieved of duty Tuesday after being arrested for possession of methamphetamines earlier this month. Officer James Norman, 34, went down after his "live-in roommate and romantic partner" Abelino Limm got nailed for selling meth to an undercover cop. Police then obtain a warrant for the residence and raided it, with Norman inside. They found glass pipes used to smoke meth, along with more than four grams of the drug, scales, and plastic baggies. Norman admitted to using meth and is currently charged with possession of a controlled substance.
In Blakeslee, Pennsylvania, a Monroe County jail supervisor was arrested last Thursday after she dropped a packet of heroin inside the jail. Sgt. Tnishia Antoine, 35, was late and jogging through the jail lobby when the package dislodged in front of another jail guard, who immediately notified the warden. Antoine admitted to being a heroin user, and a search of her vehicle turned up more heroin, $500 in cash, and drug paraphernalia. Then, a search of the home she shared with her boyfriend turned up more than 50 bags of heroin, "a large sum of cash," and more drug paraphernalia. The couple was selling heroin to support their own habits, prosecutors said. Antoine is charged with heroin possession, while her boyfriend was hit with possession with intent to deliver, and related charges.
In Olathe, Kansas, a former Johnson County prison guard was sentenced Monday to six months in prison for smuggling in drug contraband and having sex with an inmate in the prison's Therapeutic Community, an intensive drug treatment program. Alyssa Jo Stats, 25, had pleaded guilty to trafficking contraband in a correctional facility, obstructing a law enforcement officer and lewd and lascivious behavior.
It's jail and prison guards gone wild, plus a Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs cop gets in trouble for sticky-fingers. Let's get to it:
[image:1 align:left]In Dover, New Hampshire, a Strafford County jail guard was arrested last Wednesday for allegedly attempting to take heroin into the jail. Guard Bryant Shipman, 25, went down after a joint investigation by local and federal officials. He is charged with one count of delivery of contraband.
In Goshen, New York, a state prison guard was arrested last Thursday after police seized 43 bags of heroin from his home. Guard Michael Leake, 24, went down after an investigation by the town of Deerpark and city of Port Jarvis Crime Suppression Unit. He is charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree and criminally using paraphernalia in the second degree. Although the charges don't reflect it, local authorities said the dope, a scale, and other seized materials were "commonly used by drug traffickers."
In Sterling, Pennsylvania, a Wayne County jail guard was arrested Monday for selling morphine pills from his home. Howard Hums, 44, went down after an informant for the Wayne County DA's Drug Task Force bought pills from him on two occasions in February and March. He now faces two counts each of possession of a controlled substance and delivery of a controlled substance.
In Madison, Wisconsin, a state Department of Veterans Affairs Police officer was sentenced last Tuesday to two years' probation for stealing prescription opioids from the department's evidence room and replacing them with similar-looking pills. David Walters, 37, also stole pills from the VA's drug drop-off receptacle. He pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance in January.
A Cleveland jail guard gets caught trying to smuggle heroin to an accused rapist, a Border Patrol veteran heads to prison for trying to traffic cocaine, and more. Let's get to it:
[image:1 align:left]In Cleveland, a Cuyahoga County jail guard was arrested last Wednesday on charges he was smuggling heroin in to an accused rapist. Corrections Officer Kamara Austin, 43, went down after investigators found heroin and pills in his car. He is charged with second-degree drug trafficking, drug possession, and possession of criminal tools. At last report, he was still behind bars on $250,000 bond.
In Casper, Wyoming, a Converse County detention officer was arrested last Thursday after a snitch told authorities he would be delivering oxycodone. Detention Officer Joe Martinez, 37, went down when he went to meet his buyer -- the snitch -- and was instead met by detectives, who found a pill bottle with 10 oxycodone tablets. He is charged with drug possession with intent to deliver.
In Tucson, Arizona, a former Border Patrol agent was sentenced last Friday to more than 13 years in federal prison for trying to drive what he thought was 110 pounds of cocaine from Tucson to Chicago for $50,000. The "cocaine" wasn't real cocaine, but a dummy substance placed there by an undercover law enforcement officer as part of a sting. Juan Pimentel, 48, was convicted of drug smuggling and accepting a bribe from drug traffickers.
An Indiana cop gets nailed for pilfering pain patches, a Cincinnati police dispatcher gets popped with 200 pounds of pot, a New Jersey cop gets nailed for getting sexual favors from a woman in drug court, and more. Let's get to it:
[image:1 align:right]In Kokomo, Indiana, a Kokomo police officer was arrested last Wednesday for helping a woman fill a prescription for fentanyl patches and then stealing some of them. Officer Heath Evans is charged with possession of a narcotic drug, theft, and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.
In Rome, Georgia, a Rome/Floyd County police officer was arrested Monday as part of a marijuana trafficking bust. Ed Cox, 39, is charged with one count of trafficking marijuana; one count of violation of oath of office; one count of tampering with evidence; and one count of bribery. Cox went down after the Rome Police contacted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation upon receiving tips about corruption in the department.
In Cincinnati, Ohio, a Cincinnati police dispatcher was arrested Monday after DEA agents discovered 200 pounds of pot in her basement. Dispatcher Teneal Poole went down after a five-month DEA investigation led to a highway bust of a truck carrying 600 pounds of pot from Mexico, which in turn led to her residence. Poole is charged with possession of drugs and permitting drug abuse, while her live-in boyfriend faces pot trafficking charges.
In New York City, an NYPD officer was convicted last Thursday of lying about a drug arrest. Officer Jonathan Munoz, 33, arrested a man on March 12, 2014 for allegedly interfering with his search of a woman he suspected of buying marijuana. But surveillance video showed that Munoz' account was untrue, and that he had unlawfully searched the woman and unlawfully arrested the man. He was found guilty of all 19 counts in the indictment against him, including two counts each of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree and official misconduct.
In Knoxville, Tennessee, a former Knoxville police was sentenced last Friday to 12 years in prison for his role in a conspiracy to distribute prescription pain pills and other drugs in East and Middle Tennessee. Joshua Hurst, 39, had copped to conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver more than 200 grams of oxycodone, delivery of more than a half-gram of methamphetamine, possession of oxymorphone with intent to sell in a drug-free park zone, possession of oxycodone with intent to deliver in a drug-free daycare zone and three counts of official misconduct. Hurst was one of seven co-defendants to cut deals and get sentenced last Friday. Hurst went down when a confidential DEA informant linked him to the main players in the conspiracy, then put him under surveillance and watched him trade heroin, meth, and seized drivers' licenses for prescription opioids he used himself.
In Somerville, New Jersey, a former Sussex County sheriff's officer was sentenced Monday to nine months in county jail for having a sexual relationship with a woman in drug court. William Lunger, 36, also tipped the woman to surprise weekend drug screening and stole testing kits for her to use. Lunger had been charged with second-degree official misconduct, which carries a mandatory minimum five-year prison term, but plea bargained down to a single count of third degree conspiracy to commit official misconduct.
A New Jersey cop gets nailed for stealing drug dog training cocaine, a California cop get caught pilfering weed from a domestic violence call, a Kentucky cop heads for prison for stealing $30,000 worth of drugs, guns, and cash, and more. Let's get to it:
[image:1 align:left]In Tom's River, New Jersey, an Ocean County sheriff's lieutenant was arrested last Wednesday for stealing cocaine from the department's canine training unit. Lt. John Adams is accused of stealing the cocaine for his personal use over a two-year period. The cocaine was stored at the sheriff's office for use in the drug dog training program. Adams is charged with theft, cocaine possession, and official misconduct.
In Tucker, Georgia, a DeKalb County police officer was arrested Monday on charges he stole cash from an apartment during a drug investigation. Officer Ajamia Guyton was investigating a forced entry call that became a drug investigation when narcotics were discovered at the residence. Detectives left Guyton in charge of the scene while they went to obtain a drug search warrant, but found the money missing when they returned. Guyton is charged with theft by taking, tampering with evidence and violation of oath of office.
In San Jose, California, a San Jose police officer was arrested Monday for allegedly stealing marijuana while answering a domestic violence call. Officer Julio Morales, a 21-year veteran, was arrested on suspicion of petty theft and released. He had been on paid leave since February, after an internal investigation found he had stolen the weed.
In Lebanon, Ohio, a former state prison guard was sentenced last Friday to a year in prison for smuggling illegal drugs into the Lebanon Correctional Institution last August. Walter Richardson, 23, got caught with 100 suboxone strips stuffed in the finger of a rubber glove in his pocket when he came to work. He copped to illegal conveyance of drugs into a detention facility and possession of drugs.
In Boulder, Colorado, a sheriff's deputy was sentenced last Friday to 18 months' probation for plotting to smuggle chewing tobacco and marijuana edibles into the Boulder County Jail. Tyler Paul Mason, 33, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of official misconduct in exchange for prosecutors dropping two felony counts of conspiracy to introduce contraband. Mason went down after an inmate told staff another inmate had made arrangements with Mason to get the contraband. Investigators then had a woman acting as a confidential informant met with Mason and give him money for his services.
In Simpsonville, Kentucky, a former Simpsonville police officer was sentenced Monday to 12 years in prison for stealing $30,000 in cash, drugs, and handguns from department evidence lockers. Terry Putnam had pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including theft and official misconduct, in January.