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July 11, 1996

Update - Teacher Under Fire For Hemp Presentation

July 2, 1996, Simpsonville, KY: Donna Cockrel, the fifth grade school teacher who brought Hollywood actor and hemp businessman Woody Harrelson to her class to discuss industrial hemp approximately one month ago, is under fire from both parents and school officials who have voiced strong opposition to her actions. Recently, the award-winning teacher was informed by the Simpsonville Elementary School Board that she is being investigated because of complaints that followed Harrelson's visit.

Audrey Yeager, the DARE officer for the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, was one of Cockrel's most outspoken critics. "Everybody says hemp and marijuana are not the same thing, but they are; they're both illegal and it was being promoted to 10 and 11-year-old kids," she told camera crews from the television show "American Journal." "I am terribly against it."

Despite the criticism, Cockrel adamantly defended her actions and maintained that Harrelson's presentation related directly to her curriculum. "I still believe what I did in the classroom was positive," said Cockrel who participates in a state program known as Environment in the Classroom. She said that industrial hemp, as well as kenaf, soybeans and other alternatives to growing tobacco are frequently discussed in her class. "I believe in myself. My students believe in me. If I'm not allowed to teach the truth to students, I'd rather quit teaching."

Cockrel further added that she believed Harrelson - who was adorned in hemp clothing for the occasion - was just "showing what a product could be, not promoting it."

Shelby County School Superintendent Leon Mooneyhand acknowledged that Cockrel is being investigated, but failed to indicate how long the investigation may take. "I am looking into the matter as I would follow up on any matter that got this level of concern by staff, parents, and community." Mooneyhand was reluctant to speculate about what sanctions, if any, may be taken against Cockrel, but said that her job was not in jeopardy.

In the past, Cockrel has been recognized and awarded for enthusiasm in the classroom. In a 1992 magazine article, The New York Times called her "a dynamo [with] ... boundless energy who's geared toward change."

Harrelson, who is an ardent proponent of industrial hemp and is part owner of a California company that specializes in hemp-based clothing, was in town to speak at an international conference on industrial hemp in Lexington. He was arrested in Kentucky two days after speaking to Cockrel's class for planting four seeds of industrial hemp in an orchestrated protest to bring attention to the differences between hemp and marijuana.

For more information, please contact the office of Simon Halls at (212) 957-0707 or the Colorado Hemp Initiative Project (CO-HIP) at (303) 784-5632. Press releases regarding Harrelson's arrest are available on the Internet at The Hempstead Company Web site. Their Web site may be linked from the Hemp Industries Association homepage at: American Journal featured a segment on the Simpsonville controversy on July 10, 1996.

High Court Strikes Down Pennsylvania Rulings Requiring 'Exigent Circumstances'
To Justify Warrantless Searches Of Automobiles

July 1, 1996, Washington, D.C.: In a decision that has drawn criticism from civil libertarians, the United States Supreme Court has ruled in a Per Curiam decision that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was incorrect in requiring police to obtain a warrant before searching an automobile unless "exigent circumstances" were present.

In two separate cases, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court suppressed evidence uncovered in warrantless automotive searches because the "Commonwealth's jurisprudence of the automobile exception has long required both the existence of probable cause and the presence of exigent circumstances to justify a warrantless search." The court maintained that the police had sufficient time in both cases to secure a warrant. Therefore, they held that, "The warrantless search of [a] stationary vehicle violated constitutional guarantees."

The United States Supreme Court concluded that Pennsylvania's interpretation of the "automobile exception of the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement" was incorrect. The court maintains that an automobile's "ready mobility" is a sufficient circumstance to excuse failure to obtain a search warrant once probable cause has been established. In addition, "the individual [has a] reduced expectation of privacy in an automobile, owing to its pervasive regulation." Therefore, the court affirmed that, "If a car is readily mobile and probable cause exists to believe it contains contraband, the Fourth Amendment thus permits police to search a vehicle without more."

"Essentially, the court has stripped Pennsylvanians of their state constitutional guarantees that provide local citizens with greater protections against warrantless searches of their automobiles unless both probable cause and unforeseen circumstances are present," said NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. "In it's never-ending fight to assist in the 'War on Drugs,' the Supreme Court has trampled over civil liberties mandated by Pennsylvania's own state constitution."

Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Ginsburg dissented on the basis that the Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction over the two cases. "A fair reading of [both cases] demonstrates that the [Pennsylvania Supreme Court's] judgement almost certainly rested upon [an] ... independent consideration of its own Constitution," Stevens wrote. Consequently, "there is no reason for this court to disturb the state court's findings."

The cases are cited as Pennsylvania v. Edwin Labron and Pennsylvania v Randy Lee Kilgore.

Washington Activists Gear Up For November Election

July 1996, Seattle WA: Organizers of the annual Seattle HempFest - one of the largest marijuana law reform rallies in the country - have announced plans to embark on a mission to transform the Washington state hemp movement into a political force.

Calling themselves the Washington Citizens for Hemp Reform, activists will soon begin polling candidates in all 49 Washington state legislative districts to determine candidates' positions on the issue of decriminalizing marijuana. The information obtained will be distributed statewide immediately following the September 17 primary election in the form of a printed pamphlet entitled the Washington State Hemp Voters Guide. The guide will appear on both the Internet and in hard copy form.

The Seattle-based organization also announced that it will embark on a comprehensive voter registration drive and will launch an educational campaign to directly inform Washington state voters of the harm marijuana prohibition causes both society and the environment.

"The debate is over," said spokesman Vivian McPeak. "It is time for state lawmakers to lead the way in this political movement which is gaining momentum nationwide. Voters need to know their candidates' and legislators' view on this matter so they can make an educated decision when casting their ballot."

For more information, please contact the Washington Citizens for Hemp Reform at (206) 781-5734 or write to: 916 NE 65th, Suite 269, Seattle, WA 98115.



Regional and other news

Body Count

Nine of the 18 felons sentenced by Multnomah County courts in the most recent week received jail or prison terms for controlled-substance violations, according to the "Portland" zoned section of
The Oregonian, delivered to subscribers in the central metropolitan area. (July 11, 1996, p. 3, 3M-MP). That number might actually be 10 out of 18 - one person got six months in jail and two years' probation for "supplying contraband." "Contraband" sounds like "controlled substance" but the county will get the benefit of the doubt, for now. That brings the total so far this year to 194 out of 360, or 53.88 percent.

Oregon Cannabis Tax Act of 1997 Comes Up Short

On the July 5 deadline, Oregon Cannabis Tax Act supporters showed up in Salem but had only about 50,000 signatures of the 73,261 needed to get on the November 1996 ballot. After considerable input from a variety of people, a new OCTA was filed with the secretary of state's office the same day, however, and a new OCTA '99 campaign (for the November 1998 ballot) is already being organized. Paul Stanford, one of three Chief Petitioners for OCTA '97, says he will not be a chief petitioner this time. However, Paul Loney, president of the Oregon Wildlife Federation, has signed on as the first Chief Petitioner for the 1999 campaign, and will remain as treasurer and attorney. The search for two other widely known and respected chief petitioners is well underway (Stanford says he has a verbal commitment from one superb candidate), but anyone with a good name to put forth should contact Stanford at or (503) 295-6705. The name of the political committee sponsoring the next OCTA campaign will be "Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp," or CRRH.

Stanford says, "We have altered the wording of OCTA to improve its ability to win. Instead of funding schools with the profits, we will put the majority of the money into the state general fund, thus ensuring that the issue of sending the wrong message to kids by funding education with OCTA is averted. We direct 90% of the funds into the state general fund, 8% to drug treatment programs for alcoholics and addicts, 1% to fund a state agriculture committee to support hemp fiber, protein and oil and associated industries, and the final 1% to fund a realistic and comprehensive drug eductaion program for school children. We have greatly expanded OCTA's provisions to ensure hemp industrial production will be allowed in Oregon without any federal license. We have protected all cannabis strains' seed and starts production from regulation. As long as you are growing cannabis for personal use or hemp industrial production, no license is needed. If you want to grow cannabis resin or flowers for sale, you will need a license. You won't need a license for anything else. We expect to have new OCTA petitions ready for circulation soon."

News about OCTA '99 will be found in the weekly Portland NORML news releases, on OCTA's World Wide Web site at and in a small newspaper Stanford plans to distribute bimonthly to promote the initiative drive. For more details email Stanford at or call (503) 295-6705.

Cultivation in Ohio Now a $100 Misdemeanor

The first report on this came across the wire a couple weeks ago. A second news article confirming the first finally got posted, so here they are. This is a great opportunity for the "pros" and "cons" on both sides of the prohibition issue to get together and lobby for a credible study on what results.

The Columbus Dispatch, Monday, July 8, 1996, p. 7D

Lawmakers Weren't Aware of Change in State Marijuana Law
by the Associated Press

Three Republican state lawmakers whose party platform takes a tough stance on drug abuse were unaware of a new law that makes growing small amounts of marijuana for personal use a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

The law, which was included in a revision of the state's criminal laws and passed by the legislature last year, went into effect last week.

Rep. James W. Mason of Bexley, who sponsored the legislation in the House, said he was unaware of the new classification.

"I'd be lying if I told you I understand perfectly every single facet of that bill, and I understand it as well as anybody," he said.

Rep. Gene Krebs of Camden also did not know about the changes.

"I do not remember specifically what the changes were - only because the bill was 1,400 pages long, and it's been a year since it was in the Legislature," he said.

The commission that suggested changes in Ohio's law included judges, prosecutors and police.

"It was top-heavy with the law enforcement community. I'd have to rely on them as the ones with expertise," Krebs said.

He said he has heard no criticism of the law from organizations that fight drug abuse.

Rep. Mike Fox of Hamilton, who also was uninformed of the change, said at least one segment of the population will welcome the new law.

"That'll be good news to people who like to grow potted plants."

The revisions include substantial changes in the state's drug laws and penalties. Among the most dramatic changes is the law that bans growing marijuana.

State law previously considered cultivating marijuana a second-degree felony. Convicted offenders faced three years in prison.

Under the revised law, the offense is considered a misdemeanor. Convicted offenders face a $ 100 fine but no criminal record. The law also states that those arrested for growing small amounts of marijuana need not report the charge on job applications, applications for drivers licenses or when appearing as a witness in court.

The new statutes base punishments on the amount of illegal substances involved.

[Verbatim. The second news article, posted on July 4 but published probably on July 1, ensues.]
Home-growing pot decriminalized

By Gregory Flannery

HAMILTON - Effective today, growing small amounts of marijuana for personal use is a minor misdemeanor in Ohio.

A comprehensive revision of the state's criminal laws, passed by the Ohio General Assembly last year, included substantial changes in the state's drug laws and penalties.

Among the most dramatic changes is the law that bans growing marijuana. State law had considered marijuana cultivation a crime called aggravated trafficking, a second-degree felony. Convictino carried a prison term of three years.

But the new law creates and offense called Illegal Manufacture of Drugs or Cultivation of Marijuana.

Growing marijuana is still against the law in Ohio. But instead of leading to a prison sentense, cultivation of small amounts of marijuana will be a minor misdemeanor, carrying a penalty of $100 and no criminal record.

The law also states that those arrested for growing small amounts of marijuana need not report the charge on job applications, applications for drivers' licesnses or when appearing as a witness in court.

The new criminal statutes tie penalties for drug offenses to the amount of illegal substances involved. For cultivation of marijuana, the threshold is 100 grams.

Growing pot plants that weigh less than that amount is a minor misdemeanor, provided the suspect can prove the marijuana was for personal use only. Growing pot plants that weigh between 100 and 200 grams is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a fine of $250.

The small penalty will server as a disincentive for police officers to enforce the law against growing marijuana, according to Butler County Common Pleas Judge John Moser.

"I think it destroys the incentive of the police officers to go out and bust these people," Moser said. "They're going to start ignoring them. It pays to pursue major offenders instead of messing with these minor misdemeanors."

Detective Daniel Pratt of the Hamilton Police Department, however said the change in law will not significantly affect law enforcement. Most people arrested for growing marijuana are not cultivating the drug for personal pleasure he said.

"They're growing it most of the time for trafficking," Pratt said.

Contained in the voluminous bill, the change in marijuana penalties may have gone unnoticed. State Rep. Gene Krebs, R-Camden, said he did not realize marijuana cultivation for personal use is now a minor misdemeanor.

"I do not remember specifically what the charges were - only because the bill was 1,400 pages long, and it's been a year since it was in the legislature," Krebs said.

The commission that suggested changes in Ohio law included judges, prosecutors and police officers.

"It was top-heavy with the law enforcement community," Krebs said. "I'd have to rely on them as the ones with expertise."

So far Krebs has heard no criticism from organizations that fight drug abuse.

"I've heard nothing at all," he said.

State Rep. Mike Fox, R-Indian Springs, said he too was unaware of the change in the marijuana law.

"That'll be good news for a lot of people who like to grow potted plants." Fox said.

State Rep. James Mason, R-Bexley; sponsored the legislation in the house.

"I'd be lying if I told you I understand perfectly every single facet of that bill, and I understand it as well as anybody."

Mason said he did not realize the change in the bill related to marijuana.

"That really suprises me," he said.

Washington State Initiative Results

On July 6 Dave Hall of the Washington Hemp Education Network wrote:

For those of you who are interested in the Washington State Initiative results...

	Dave Hall, Washington Hemp Education Network
	"W.H.E.N. educated people know."

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 6 Jul 1996 02:50:07 -0700
From: Tom Rohan
Subject: Final Tally...

I'm pretty tired but thought I should let you know the final tally on our
signature gathering efforts this year. We came in with over 61,000
signatures. Though this was far short of the needed 181,000 signatures it
was a great effort. To put this in perspective, in 1994 we got only about
25,000 signatures. I want to thank everyone who helped us to achieve this. I
worked side by side with many of you and was inspired by your spirit. And as
the signatures kept pouring in the last few days we were constantly taken
off guard by the numbers. To break the 60,000 remark was very impressive and
proves that we can do this thing. I say that because if we go with an
Initiative to the Legislature next year we will have from March to December
to get the same number of signatures. Considering that on a shoestring
budget and while building our organizational structure we managed to get
over 60,000 sigs in 3 months we should be able to reach our goal of 181,000
next year given the 9 month time frame.

But to make sure we do this we need all of you good volunteers to stick with
us and we need to build up and solidify our organization so we start off
strong next year and keep up the sustained effort for the long haul. We will
be posting our strategy for next year when we get it refined. For now we are
going to take a short break for the next few weeks to unwind a bit and catch
our breath. (But there will still be a HEMP 2000 meeting on July 17th!)

But for now I just want to thank all of you. You are the greatest!

Talk to you soon!

- Tom -

McCaffrey Calls for 1,500 More Officers

EL PASO, Texas (Reuter), Tuesday, July 9, 1996 - U.S. anti-drugs chief Gen. Barry McCaffrey Tuesday urged Congress to increase funding sharply for efforts to stamp out drug trafficking along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.

McCaffrey, who is co-hosting a two-day anti-narcotics conference in the border town of El Paso, said 1,500 extra law enforcement officers were needed along the border to meet a surge in traffic of illicit drugs. Such an increase would require a 25 percent increase in congressional funding, he said.

"We think we need more manpower to specifically combat drug traffic," McCaffrey told reporters.

He said the 1,500 new officers should be divided up between the FBI, the DEA, the Border Patrol and the customs service.

"We are hearing anxiety from innocent civilians from the United States and Mexico so we need to do something," he said, adding that drug traffickers were making $30 billion a year inside the United States.

Law enforcement officials said shipments of cocaine, marijuana, heroin, opium and methamphetamine across the border have jumped as much as 50 percent in the last year. President Clinton called this week's conference, hosted by McCaffrey and Attorney General Janet Reno, to find ways to strike back.

McCaffrey said the narcotics trade was a "cancer'' which had increased the level of violence along the border. He met earlier on Tuesday with the widow of a border patrol officer killed by traffickers and with ranchers who said they were no longer able to defend their land and property.

"We need to protect America's air, land and sea frontiers. That is why we are in El Paso," McCaffrey said.

About 70 percent of all illegal drugs entering the United States comes across the Mexican border and this week's conference is aimed at thrashing out ways of making the traffickers' job more difficult.

"We're definitely not winning this war against drugs," said Phil Jordan, an anti-narcotics expert and former DEA administrator. "We have to do something."

DEA officials say 50 percent of all marijuana coming to the United States is grown in Mexico, but Mexican officials claim their country is mainly a transit point for drugs from Central and South America.

Mexico was not invited to attend the conference, but McCaffrey said he will meet with senior Mexican officials on Thursday morning to discuss ways of further cooperating in the war against drug traffickers.

The conference will also be attended by Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Assistant Secretary of State Robert Gelbard, FBI Director Louis Freeh, and heads of various other agencies.

Republican governors of the four southwest border states were also invited but declined, and are sending aides instead. Republicans have called the summit an election-year posturing effort by Clinton.

[End article]

Portland NORML notes: As mentioned in the June 20 Portland NORML news release, local news media quoted the Drug Czar:
"But he told sheriffs and sheriffs deputies from across the country that's the last possible place the illegal drug problem will be solved. 'We are not going to arrest our way out of the drug problem. We arrest a million people a year on drug offenses. We've got at least a quarter of a million people in prison primarily for drug-related offense.'"

"He said drugs can't be kept out of U.S. prisons, let alone out of the country."

It's been said here before - McCaffrey is just another glib politician who says one thing and does another. How many hundreds of thousands of Americans will have to have their lives turned upside down by police, courts and prisons until enough people stand up and demand a realistic drug policy?

'Narcotics Court Judge Busted For Pot'

CHICAGO, July 10 (UPI) -- A Narcotics Court judge has been reassigned following his conviction for possessing a small amount of marijuana while vacationing in the Central American nation of Belize.

The Chicago Defender Wednesday said Judge Frank D. Edwards was fined $1,000 June 24 when a security officer found about 4 1/2 ounces of pot in his luggage after he arrived at Philip SW Goldson Airport in Belize City.

Edwards was on a vacation in Belize, an English-speaking Central American country located between Mexico and Honduras.

The Belize Times said the security officer found 4.9 grams of marijuana, worth about $20, and that Edwards admitted the drug was his and pleaded guilty in court. Edwards, 44, a night Narcotics Court judge in Cook County Criminal Court, asked to be temporarily reassigned to another court system when he was confronted with newspaper articles about his arrest upon his return to Chicago.

Presiding Judge Thomas Fitzgerald said Edwards "is a wonderful young judge" and praised his intelligence and honor. But Fitzgerald admitted he was saddened by the incident and said for Edwards to remain on the narcotics court bench "would create an improper appearance."

"The integrity of the court is very important to him," Fitzgerald told the Defender. Fitzgerald said Edwards would be replaced by another judge in Narcotics Court but did not say whether he would seek to have Edwards removed from the bench.

Luxembourg Decriminalizes Cannabis

From The European, 27 June - 3 July, 1996
by Hilary Clarke, Brussels

Dutch find a new ally on drugs

Luxembourg has emerged as a surprise ally of the Netherlands in the dispute between the French and the Dutch over Holland's permissive policies on illegal drugs.

The Luxembourg parliament voted last week to decriminalise the "soft" drug cannabis and to push for the harmonisation of drugs laws in the Benelux countries.

The motion adopted by parliament calls on the government to develop "along with Belgium and the Netherlands a programme of common measures for the liberalisation of cannabis and its derivatives." This is certain to upset Jacques Chirac's French government.

"This is the first time a government or parliament has given such a clear signal in the direction of decriminalisation," said an official from the Belgian justice ministry.

A spokesman for the Luxembourg government said that it was "ready to reconsider its policies with regard to cannabis. We are prepared to start consultations."

France blames the Netherlands for drug problems in northern France -- a two-hour drive from the Dutch border. Thousands of Belgian, German and French youths regularly travel to the Netherlands to purchase cannabis from retail soft drug outlets known as "coffee shops."

France wants the European Union to adopt pan-European rules that would be based on the legislation of those member states with the most repressive anti-drug policies.

Belgium is in the process of reviewing its drug laws, though a spokesman for Justice Minister Stefaan de Clerck stated that there was no question of Belgium decriminalising soft drugs. He said: "The minister does not believe that all drug-related offences should be punished in the same way."

The spokesman said a report on Belgium's drugs policy, due to be published over the next six months, may recommend "soft punishments" such as a nominal fine for drug consumers, "but extremely severe penalties for organised crime and large traffickers." Soft drugs have not been deriminalised, even in the Netherlands, although possession for personal consumption, retail sales and the cultivation of cannabis are tolerated.

Some north German cities also deal with people found in possession of small quantities of soft drugs without pressing criminal charges.

The European Council, which defines general political guidelines, last December ordered a study of drug legislation and practice in the Union. Its report is due to be published by the end of the year.

The incoming Irish presidency of the EU wants to make the fight against international drugs trafficking a priority during its six months at the helm of the Union.

Swiss Heroin Maintenance Programs Reduce Harm

ADCA News of the Day, "ACT heroin trial," Friday, July 5, 1996
Canberra Times, July 5, pp.1-2

Among the dozen articles predicting the fate of the ACT heroin trial at today's Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy meeting, Stephen Corby of the Canberra Times outlined preliminary results of a heroin trial being run in Switzerland. The progress of 259 people who had been receiving heroin in a clinical setting for six months showed improvements in all areas - criminal activity (not including illicit drug use) fell from 53% before the trial to 13%; participants with no contact with illegal drug scene rose from 13% to 44%; daily cocaine use dropped from 34% to 9%; rate of homelessness dropped from 15% to 3%. There was also an "increased interest in abstinence" from participants at the clinic in Basel where 10 of the 106 people involved had left the program and become drug-free.
ADCA's Daily News selects one story only from the many that comprise the national news of the day. The ADCA Library maintains a full collection of national print media clips which can be used by members and others. Copies of articles can be faxed on request and at no cost. Requests can be made by phone (06 2811002), fax (06 2810995) or email (

'Drug Education Falls Short'

The Oakland Tribune
Friday, July 5, 1996, op-ed page
by Marsha Rosenbaum, Ph.D., Director,
The Lindesmith Center

In response to rising teen drug use and as a part of his new and improved "get tough" policy, President Clinton has stressed drug education as a key element of his war on drugs. As a sociologist and the mother of two teen-agers, I, too, have been concerned about drug education.

As do most parents, I wish "the drug thing" would somehow magically disappear, that my children would simply abstain from all intoxicating substances. This wish, of course, is a fantasy. I continue to hope, however, that my children do not fall into the trap of a heroin addict I interviewed nearly 20 years ago.

She as a "nice Jewish girl" who came from a middle class suburb. I asked how she had ended up addicted to heroin and in jail. She told me, "When I was in high school they had these so-called drug education classes. They told us if we used heroin we would become addicted. They told us if we used marijuana we would become addicted.

"We, we all tried marijuana and found we did not become addicted, so we figured the entire message was b.s. so then I went ahead and tried heroin, got strung out, and here I am."

Drug education programs of the 1960s were designed to frighten kinds out of using heroin, marijuana, LSD and methamphetamine. With the exception of government programs of the early 1970s that encouraged children to learn all they could about drugs in order to be able to make their own decisions, drug education from the late 1970s to the present has stressed prevention through resistance techniques (just say no).

Although millions of tax dollars have been spent on drug education, government surveys indicated more than less drug use among teen-agers.

Most drug education programs are based on questionable assumptions.

First, drug education programs have, as their underlying premise, the goal of complete abstinence from all illegal drugs. The expectation that American adolescents, who are bombarded daily with messages to take some substance for pain relief, sleeplessness, sleepiness, depression, appetite suppression, etc., will be inoculated from experimentation with legal or illegal drugs is unrealistic.

Second, many programs define anything other than one-time experimentation as abuse. Although few programs acknowledge that responsible use is possible, students who have observed others or had first-hand experience that did not result in abuse discount the entire program.

A third assumption is that alcohol and cigarettes are "stepping stones" to the illegal drugs, and marijuana will be the gateway to "harder" drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Government surveys show no evidence that one drug leads to another, and that the vast majority of teen-agers who use marijuana do not go on to use any other illegal drug.

Teen-agers who have known marijuana-only experimenters tend to discount the rest of the information contained in the program.

The fourth premise of drug education is that if children fully understood the risks of drugs, they would abstain. It is the job of teachers to use any means, even deceit, to deter them. When given wholly negative messages, students often wonder, "If drugs are so bad, why would people want to use them at all?"

Finally, most programs are predicated on the notion that teen-agers have little to contribute to their own drug education. Although they are taught decision-making skills for resistance to drug use, students are not allowed the option of making their own decisions about whether or not to experiment. When teen-agers are outside the classroom and the watchful eye of parents, they actually do make their own decisions and often do a good job of it.

What teen-agers really want out of drug education is honest, factual information that will help them to make their own decisions about drugs. If they opt to experiment, they want to know as much as they can in order to avoid health problems.

Instead of the doctrinaire approach to drugs that has characterized the last 30 years, perhaps we should capitalize on students' attention and interest and use drug education to teach them generally about physiology and health. In so doing, we might even do something to help young people minimize the dangers of using legal and illegal drugs.

'Ailing Woman Fights To Ease Pain Of Others'

The New York Times, July 6, 1996
By Carey Goldberg

SAN FRANCISCO -- If marijuana is ever legalized and "magic brownie" mixes ever appear on the shelves of America's supermarkets, there will be one obvious candidate to become the Betty Crocker, the Mrs. Field, the Sara Lee, of cannabis baking.

Her name, as almost any San Franciscan can tell you, is Brownie Mary.

Her real name is Mary Rathbun. But her famous brownies, her great kindness to AIDS patients and her repeated arrests have made her such a public figure here that no last names were needed when, for example, the city officially declared Aug. 25, 1992 to be Brownie Mary Day.

For about 15 years, Ms. Rathbun, who is now almost 74, has been donating "magic brownies" and unadulterated cookies to dying patients and volunteering in the AIDS ward of San Francisco General Hospital, winning acclaim in the city that has suffered intensely from the epidemic.

But these days, the battle she has waged all along the way -- the fight to legalize the use of marijuana for patients suffering from AIDS, cancer and other ailments like glaucoma, whose symptoms are said to be alleviated by the drug, has taken on special urgency.

Two processes have converged. In a statewide referendum in November, voters appear likely to approve a measure legalizing the "compassionate use" of marijuana. And Brownie Mary's own health has been failing.

"I say to her every day, I say, 'Mary, you've got to live,"' said Dennis Peron, probably San Francisco's most prominent marijuana advocate and Ms. Rathbun's longtime comrade-in-arms. "She had given up three months ago - she said she was going to Michigan to see Dr. Kevorkian, because she was just in so much pain, and I said, 'Mary, you can't go see Kevorkian until November."'

That argument carries weight with Ms. Rathbun, who suffers from arthritis and an array of ailments that have kept her laid up and unable to bake at all this year. Although the ailments she admits to are not terminal, she is in constant pain and her failing health has melted away the comfortable grandmotherly plumpness she used to have.

Ms. Rathbun, whose source of income is Social Security checks - the marijuana is donated by growers - says she does indeed want to see the medical use of marijuana legalized before she dies, for those she calls her "kids," the hundreds, if not thousands, of AIDS patients she has helped.

"I think I might live to see it, I really do," she said, adding that if California does approve the ballot measure as pollsters predict, Gov. Pete Wilson, who has vetoed similar proposals by the Legislature, "will wet his pants, he really will."

If being ornery helps, Ms. Rathbun will surely make it. Although much of her fame stems from the outrageous picture of the police arresting a sweet little old lady for baking brownies to help sick people, no one could be further from a milquetoast.

When she was 13 and growing up in Minneapolis, Ms. Rathbun said, she turned on a nun who caned her and got in a few good licks herself. That was the end of Catholic school and of living at home; she took an apartment and went to work in the afternoons, beginning a waitressing career of more than 50 years. She remains an atheist to this day.

She came out to San Francisco during World War II with some friends, was married for a while and had a daughter who died in an automobile accident at 22. Friends say the loss of her daughter may have helped spur Ms. Rathbun later on to take on so many AIDS patients, adopting dozens of "kids" to replace the one she lost.

Ms. Rathbun says, however, that she has always volunteered, that it comes naturally. A marijuana enthusiast for decades. she routinely samples her own wares, typically eating half a brownie in the morning and the other half in the afternoon.

Without her own sweet medicine, she says, she could never do so much walking on her two artificial knees. She began baking large quantities of pot brownies in the 1970s, offering them for sale, long before she started her charitable baking.

Smoking cigarettes and taking frequent drinks of water to offset the cotton-mouth of the pills she must juggle, Ms. Rathbun sat in her studio in a housing complex for the elderly in the largely gay Castro neighborhood and recalled the days when customers used to line up along the stairs to her old apartment waiting for their dozen or two dozen brownies.

Her first arrest came in 1980, when the police raided the little home bakery that was turning out as many as 50 dozen brownies a day, she said, and the second a couple of years later when she was walking down the street with some brownies meant for a friend with cancer.

After the third arrest in 1992, her fame really took off, and she still, to her own bemusement, is asked to do interviews for European television and photo shoots. The demand among AIDS patients for her free brownies grew so great that she took to pulling names from a cookie jar to see who would get the next dozen.

Ms. Rathbun is willing, though not eager, to talk. What she will not do under any circumstances is reveal the secret recipe for her brownies, except to say that the trick is to figure out your recipe and follow it precisely.

She and Peron put out a small cookbook in 1993, "Brownie Mary's Marijuana Cookbook and Dennis Peron's Recipe for Social Change" that includes marijuana-laced recipes for black bean soup, chip dip, spaghetti sauce and chestnut stuffing -- but no brownies.

"When and if they legalize it, I'll sell my brownie recipe to Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines," she said, "and take the profits and buy an old Victorian for my kids with AIDS."

Although her secret remains intact, Ms. Rathbun has nonetheless inspired a generation of imitators here, whose brownies may not be as good but who find creative ways to mix pot with banana bread, spice cake and other dishes.

Many distribute their wares at the Cannabis Buyers' Club, an 11,000-member San Francisco institution whose mission - tolerated by the police because it is condoned by city officials - is to supply marijuana to people with AIDS, cancer and other conditions that a doctor has certified would be helped by the drug.

Bettye Jones, a volunteer at the club who often whips up enough pasta for 200 club members, dumping about half a cup of marijuana into the sauce, said Ms. Rathbun has served as a model for her and many others as they experiment with ways to keep the pot from losing its potency to the heat of cooking.

Certain district attorneys and police officers may not like Ms. Rathbun because none of the charges against her have brought anything worse than probation and the latest ones in 1992 were dropped - "They wish they never heard the name 'Brownie Mary,"' Ms. Rathbun said gleefully - but at the club, she is a celebrity.

"She stepped up as a patriotic American to make something right which was wrong," said a customer at the club, Joseph Paul, 45.

Last week, when she entered on uncertain legs for the first time since January, the main room full of scores of pot-smokers erupted in spontaneous applause. She hopes to get back to baking by the end of the month - or at least, supervising.

"She has been very, very sick for a long, long time," said Beth Moore, the club's manager and Ms. Rathbun's frequent apprentice baker. "She has been in extreme pain, but she's still filled with love."

'Wiretapping Rises Sharply Under Clinton'

Drug War Budget Increases Lead to Continuing Growth Of High-Tech Surveillance

The Washington Post
By Jim McGee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 7 1996; Page A01

The Clinton administration has sharply increased use of federal telephone wiretaps and other electronic surveillance in the United States since taking office, and official estimates foresee that the growth will continue in coming years.

The expansion has been driven in large part by stepped-up use of electronic eavesdropping against narcotics traffickers. In addition, a substantial rise in spending on federal law enforcement has overridden the chief constraint on use of wiretaps - their relatively high cost.

Civil rights and privacy advocates are unhappy with the trend, but have been able to do little in the face of bipartisan support in Congress for more extensive use of wiretaps and room bugs.

While federal electronic surveillance has been expanding for more than a decade, the trend has accelerated under the Clinton administration. Last year marked the first time federal courts approved more wiretaps than all state courts combined.

"We are up 30 to 40 percent this year," said Frederick D. Hess, who runs the Justice Department office that approves applications for court-ordered wiretaps. This maintains the pace set in 1993, when the number of federal surveillance orders rose 32 percent.

In 1992, the last year of the Bush administration, there were 340 federal court orders permitting electronic surveillance in criminal cases. That number rose to 672 last year, officials say, and the total for 1996 almost certainly will rise above 700.

Those figures do not include "national security" wiretap orders, obtained under intelligence legislation, which also have been rising dramatically.

Preparing for expected continued growth in surveillance of domestic criminals, the Justice Department is buying additional high-tech equipment, developing new eavesdropping techniques and adding support personnel.

Twenty-eight years after Congress opened the door to wiretapping with a narrowly drawn statute, electronic surveillance has become so routine that it has been years since a federal district court judge turned down a prosecutor's application for a wiretap order, according to the 1995 Wiretap Report issued by the administrative office of the U.S. Courts.

The acceleration of wiretapping during the Clinton administration stems in part from Attorney General Janet Reno's decision to accept recommendations of career narcotics supervisors in the Justice Department's Criminal Division, who strongly back electronic surveillance as a particularly effective tool in the drug war.

A recent case, code-named Zorro II, shows why their tactics are driving up the numbers. Investigators strung up more than 90 separate wiretaps in cities including Seattle, San Diego, Miami and New York as they built cases against 130 suspected cocaine importers, shippers and distributors. "It was totally based on wiretaps," said Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick. "We brought down an entire organization."

A second growth factor is the fast buildup of federal law enforcement generally, in which hundreds of prosecutors, agents and support personnel have been added nationwide. The FBI's budget has grown 53 percent since 1993, while the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) budget has jumped 33 percent. Both agencies are asking for large budget increases in fiscal 1997.

This new funding has been a factor in making possible increased use of electronic surveillance. Federal wiretaps cost more than $70,000 a month to operate and generate hundreds of hours of labor for monitors, transcribers, surveillance teams and investigators. Larger budgets mean cost is less of an obstacle.

Building for the future, the DEA is carrying out a $33 million program to replace single-line wiretapping gear with new equipment that can monitor 40 lines simultaneously and process the intercepts by computer. The FBI is plowing millions into developing new intercept techniques for digital lines and expanding its cadre of agents who use the bureau's high-tech surveillance gear.

"I don't think J. Edgar Hoover would contemplate what we can do today in terms of technology," Reno testified during a Senate hearing in May.

The total number of federal wiretaps is just one measure of the rise in federal surveillance. The buildup also is evident in the increased use of electronic devices that record the numbers dialed by a target telephone, and the origin of calls to it.

These devices allow agents to identify a person's associates. Beginning in 1993, Justice agencies began using the court-authorized monitors more often and leaving them installed for longer periods of time, according to a Justice Department report.

For civil rights advocates, the principal battle against federal electronic surveillance was lost back in 1968, and they have not done much better since then owing to congressional support for wiretapping.

In 1967 the Supreme Court declared phone conversations were protected by the Fourth Amendment, the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. The following year, however, Congress passed a statute that permitted limited use of electronic surveillance of organized crime and gambling groups. Since then, in response to public outrage over crime, Congress has added to the list of crimes that could be investigated with wiretaps.

Federal wiretapping "is clearly an invasion of the privacy rights of Americans and [infringes on] the Fourth Amendment," said Donald Haines, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington. He cited Justice Department opinion polls that show more than 70 percent of the U.S. population disapproves of wiretapping.

He and others fought the Clinton administration in 1994 over provisions in the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act that required the nation's telephone carriers to build in special access for government wiretappers as they develop new digital telephone systems.

While the legislation passed, its disclosure provisions have shed new light on the extent of federal surveillance and raised questions about government predictions on the future level of wiretapping.

For instance, FBI Director Louis J. Freeh said in November, "There is no intention to expand the number of wiretaps or the extent of wiretapping" in a letter to the New York Times. Four months later, however, the FBI supplied Congress with a statistical projection of future wiretapping needs for all of law enforcement, measured for 10 years starting in 1994. In that time frame, it said electronic surveillance would increase 54 percent by 1998 and 130 percent by 2004.

Since then, the FBI has tended to play down the scale of federal wiretapping. In a report to Congress in April, the FBI said court-approved wiretapping is "used quite sparingly" by law enforcement. On May 1 Freeh told a congressional subcommittee: "The majority of criminal wiretaps in the country are actually done by state and local authorities, not by the federal government."

While this was historically true, it is no longer. The 1995 Wiretap Report said federal courts approved 50.3 percent of all wiretaps. An FBI spokesman said Freeh was unaware of that report when he testified. In a subsequent hearing May 16, Freeh said "one-half" of all wiretaps are done by state authorities, Yet even this is in doubt, because the 1995 Wiretap Report greatly understated the level of federal wiretapping. Officials say its reported total of 532 federal wiretap orders did not include 140 orders that were mistakenly omitted from an accounting provided to the court administrative office.

Even when the annual wiretap report is based on complete data, it tends to understate the true level of federal surveillance, according to Hess, who is considered Justice's expert on electronic surveillance.

"It is not an accurate reflection of what is really going on," said Hess, because its summary percentages do not take account of the number of extensions granting more time for wiretap orders. Hess views extensions as a kind of new order, because they often expand the surveillance by adding to the number of phones being tapped. The number of extensions rose from 646 in 1992 to 861 in 1994.

One anomaly of the Clinton administration's buildup of federal law enforcement is the relatively slow growth in funding for the Criminal Division at the Justice Department - where career prosecutors serve as watchdogs to guarantee the most potent investigative weapons are not abused.

While Congress and the administration have expanded the police agencies' ability to undertake more electronic surveillance, they have not added resources to the Justice unit whose job is to oversee use of wiretaps and room bugs.

By law, the authority to seek a federal wiretap rests first with the attorney general. In practice, this power is delegated to senior officials in the Criminal Division, who in turn rely upon the Office of Enforcement Operations to evaluate surveillance proposals from the field.

"We are in essence exercising the Fourth Amendment here," said Hess, who has run the office 14 years. "And we are not going to seize a person's conversation unless the statute and the Constitution are satisfied."

While the number of federal criminal wiretaps has grown rapidly, the size of Hess's electronic surveillance unit has stayed the same. In 1992, each of the unit's six lawyers handled 123 wiretap orders; this year they are each expected to process nearly 200. "We are handling it, because the people we have are experienced," Hess said, but large new demands loom just over the horizon.

In the 1997 budget proposal, Justice asked for an additional 50 FBI agents, 54 DEA agents and 91 federal prosecutors for a special initiative against Mexican drug traffickers that will emphasize wiretaps. DEA says it will need $10 million just to pay for translation costs related to the Southwest Border initiative.

"I suspect naming it the Southwest Border [initiative] is just to put a focus," DEA Administrator Thomas Constantine told a congressional hearing. "But it's really every city in the United States that is involved in these wiretap and surveillance investigations."

Anticipating a flood of new wiretap orders, Justice is asking for three additional lawyers to staff the Criminal Division's electronic surveillance unit. "I assume that will not be a problem," Hess said. "If it is, then we are going to be a bottleneck, because we are not changing the standards."

'Texas Border Ranchers Decry Drug Smugglers'

Los Angeles Times, Sunday, July 7, 1996

Crime: Mexicans and Americans ask DEA for help. Otherwise, they say, they'll be forced to sell to the bad guys.

By Mark Fineman, Craig Pyes

For the second time in a week, an unlikely group huddled in a conference room at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration headquarters here - not far from what has become one of the most porous spots on the U.S. border.

They were from the United States and Mexico. Some were former policemen, others lifelong cattle ranchers. But most were now cowboys with a deep mistrust of government, residents of what they call "The Free State of Maverick County." And they came to see Uncle Sam, they said, as a last resort before they're simply driven out.

Each owned a slice of land on the Rio Grande - the border between Mexico and the U.S. Each was a recent victim in the war that the United States is losing here to Mexican smugglers who are flooding the U.S. with cocaine, heroin, marijuana and illegal migrants.

Even the DEA officials in the room said that May morning that they were surprised by the number of ranchers who showed up - about a dozen - and alarmed by their message.

The ranchers said their problems began a few years ago when migrant-smugglers started cutting through their fences at night. But now, they said, heavily armed Mexican drug gangs were taking the smugglers' place - terrorizing the ranchers in broad daylight as they smuggle record quantities of drugs and migrants through their property and into the United States.

Even the nearby riverfront Moody Ranch - where the CBS miniseries "Lonesome Dove" was filmed - was being victimized by smugglers, the ranchers and federal officials asserted.

Some of the ranchers already had sold out to smuggling gangs or their front men - a decision almost all in the room agreed was on their minds. But neither the U.S. Border Patrol nor any other law enforcement agency said it has the manpower to protect the ranchers - or this desolate frontier.

A 62-year-old federal-agent-turned-rancher, who, like the others in the room, refused to be identified for fear of reprisals, summed up the desperation. After months of digging surveillance bunkers, plotting aerial maps and patrolling his property by pickup, he concluded: "It's we private citizens who have upheld the integrity of the border . . . and we can't do it anymore. We're losing America."

Compromised Border

Based on the accounts of the Rio Grande ranchers, court documents, intelligence assessments by federal agencies and interviews with landowners, The Times - after an extensive tour north and south of the line - has found that drug-smuggling gangs have quietly compromised hundreds of miles of the United States' southern border.

Using intimidation, bribery and murder on both sides of the Rio Grande, the smugglers have opened a route through Texas for billions of dollars of Mexican marijuana - and, increasingly, heroin and cocaine - destined for U.S. cities. Equipped with night-vision equipment, cellular telephones, border sentries and their own intelligence network, the smugglers have outmanned, outgunned and out-planned the U.S. Border Patrol, Customs Service and DEA at strategic points on the Rio Grande - particularly in Maverick County and its seat, Eagle Pass.

They have threatened owners of riverfront property, forcing them to remain silent or even move out; they have corrupted several dozen local officials in about half of the 14 Texas counties along the Rio Grande in the last four years; they are increasingly combining their drug trade with the lucrative smuggling of illegal immigrants.

Statistics for drug seizures and illegal migrant arrests by the Border Patrol here in the first half of this fiscal year tell part of the story: In just six months, they more than exceed the totals for all of 1995 in both categories. And federal agents estimate they're catching just 5% - at most - of the drugs and migrants moving across the river, day and night.

For example, between Oct. 1, 1995, and April 1, 1996, just on a 55-mile stretch of the river that includes Eagle Pass, the Border Patrol seized 41,382 pounds of marijuana; that compares with 33,291 pounds nabbed in all of the previous year and just 15,763 pounds stopped in the year before that. In the same period, 67,278 undocumented migrants were arrested here - almost double the 35,604 arrested in the entire year before.

Cocaine Bust

Evidence that cocaine is moving across the border in large quantities in this area came on May 25, when customs agents seized more than a ton of the drug - worth an estimated $100 million - in two Rio Grande arrests. Those hauls were followed a week later with a 1,018-pound cocaine seizure during a routine customs inspection of a tractor-trailer at the border.

In January, customs agents seized 55 pounds of heroin at the border crossing in nearby Del Rio - the largest shipment of that contraband ever detected in the region.

"There are so many little roads, back roads, side roads coming out of here that it's impossible for us to stop it with the manpower we have in this sector," conceded Benny Carrasco, the U.S. Border Patrol agent in charge in Eagle Pass.

He said he has been asking Washington for more agents since 1992, explaining: "For 24-hour coverage, you'd need to give me another 50 agents. Now, I've got 85 uniformed agents with 55 miles of river I'm responsible for, night and day. Simple math will tell you I just can't do it." Carrasco and other Border Patrol agents said Washington has deployed most of its additional agents to San Diego and other troublesome areas in Southern California, leaving "soft spots" on the Rio Grande. The Border Patrol is training 705 new agents, but few are expected to be assigned to Eagle Pass, a training instructor in Del Rio said.

Donald Ferrarone, the DEA field division chief in Houston who is in charge of the region, is well aware of the problem. He put it even more starkly during a recent visit: "It's the drug runners pouring across the Maginot Line here. All the basic elements are missing. There's not enough people here; no infrastructure to interact with the [Mexican] side; and zero intelligence. What you've got here is a dark zone."

It is a phenomenon that law enforcement officials fear will spread to even less populated areas of the Texas border. Agents there said they are anxiously watching Eagle Pass. They fear that drug gangs - after infiltrating counties in the lower Rio Grande Valley to the southeast - will employ a similar model to corrupt and penetrate other border "soft spots." Responding to such concerns, Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey - President Clinton's drug czar - has scheduled a law enforcement summit in El Paso this week to scrutinize the U.S. counter-drug strategy on the border. McCaffrey, after a briefing on Eagle Pass' woes, also plans to visit here Tuesday, his office confirmed.

A June 10 news release on the upcoming Cabinet-level conference, which will include Atty. Gen. Janet Reno and other top U.S. officials, said it "will kick off Stage II of a comprehensive border-control strategy by cutting drugs off at their source before they wreak havoc on people's lives."

But the view from Eagle Pass is that the booming drug trade and its accompanying violence and corruption already have wreaked their share of havoc in the region.

"Ranchers here feel like the last Americans in Vietnam on the embassy roof - just trying to keep them off until the helicopters arrive to bail them out," said a U.S. special agent assigned to a counter-drug task force here.

The Eagle Pass DEA headquarters itself illustrates the problem: For security reasons, there's no indication on the lobby directory - or on any office door - that the DEA is in the modern, downtown office building. But visitors can smell it from the lobby: Thousands of pounds of confiscated marijuana are overflowing the office's drug vault - so much so that Larry Leon, the DEA acting special agent in charge here, had to store the spillover in a detention cell.

"I've got 10,000 pounds in here now, and that's just in the last 60 days," he said of the captured dope. "I burned 6,000 pounds last Wednesday, and I'm still running out of places to put it all."

Leon and the ranchers - who also were interviewed later on their properties - explained that smuggling gangs, which operate with near-impunity through Mexico and into the Mexican border state of Coahuila, are exploiting weaknesses in U.S. border defenses. Modern highways parallel the river on both sides and feed into little-patrolled roads that connect marijuana fields and clandestine cocaine airstrips deep inside Mexico with the U.S. interstate highway system.

There is, however, more at work here than just logistics. Law enforcement officials from San Diego to Brownsville stressed a delicate political problem, which they plan to discuss at the border summit: The Mexican federal police, they asserted, often act as middlemen, protecting tons of illegal drugs transported from Mexico's interior to the border smuggling organizations, which control the river and have contacts with U.S. distributors.

Smuggling groups that control the Mexican side of the river are well known to U.S. drug and Border Patrol agents - all the major traffickers in Coahuila started as migrant smugglers, agents said. But the agents stressed that they get little cooperation from Mexican authorities in cracking down on the gangs.

The Victims

As the trade in drugs and migrants has merged, it has victimized not only the ranchers but also the illegal migrants.

Border Patrol agents, for example, say the migrants are charged less for their brief voyage across the river if they will carry drugs. But this can cost them their liberty, because the smugglers use them as decoys. While Border Patrol agents chase the migrants, the smugglers bring in another cargo: marijuana, destined for markets as far away as Chicago and Tampa, Fla.

Although many in the U.S. tend to view marijuana as a less serious matter than harder drugs, Ferrarone of the DEA and other federal agents said marijuana is "the cash cow" of Mexico's drug cartels - wealthy, well-armed and well-connected enterprises that also started smuggling South American cocaine in the late 1980s and now are believed to supply 70% of the U.S. market.

"There's cocaine coming through here too, but it's harder to detect," Leon said. "I think a lot of heroin is coming through here, but you can put it in something the size of a baked potato. . . . In any case, it all goes hand in hand, and it's tearing up the border."

Mexican ranchers see problems on their side of the river too. A rancher at the May DEA meeting explained over lunch in a cafe that smugglers started moving in south of the border - and onto his riverfront property - two years ago. They mowed down his fence. He rebuilt and fortified it. Finally, they just tore it down and took over. "They're coming from all over," he said. "They're crossing [the Rio Grande] like crazy."

He said he went to the DEA because he found no recourse in Mexico. "You can't talk to the [Mexican] police or to the federal attorney general's office or to the business community, because the traffickers are their major clients," he said. "The general feeling is we can't do anything on this side."

But he expressed surprise that the U.S. side is also hamstrung. "I don't understand why the richest government in the world can't do anything about it," he said. "It's so blatant."

Part of the reason, U.S. ranchers and federal agents agreed, is that the drug trade's billions of dollars have generated the same kind of corruption on the U.S. side.

Court documents throughout Texas tell how wealthy smugglers have infiltrated more than a dozen local police departments, federally funded drug task forces, county sheriff's offices and even federal agencies. They use the same tactics, officials assert, that have made the Mexican federal police their partners in crime south of the border.

Statistics released by the FBI show the agency helped win convictions of 79 local, state and federal officials on the Texas border since 1992 - more than half of them involving narcotics-related corruption, an FBI spokesman said.

Rampant Corruption

Other federal officials said drug corruption is rampant north and south of the river. In counties southeast of Maverick County, officials have been convicted on charges of trafficking, possession and extortion involving hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of marijuana and cocaine. Consider:

  • The three top elected officials in Zapata County - the sheriff, the clerk and the presiding judge - were sentenced to prison in 1994 on federal drug charges. The judge was convicted of conspiracy to receive bribes to give cocaine smugglers access to the county airport for shipments; the clerk was convicted of laundering drug-money proceeds; the sheriff pleaded guilty to money laundering after he was arrested in an FBI sting - he took a $20,000 bribe in exchange for permitting a smugglers' motor launch to land a ton of cocaine on his border ranch.

  • In Hidalgo County, a local mayor and police commissioner were convicted on charges they stole 626 pounds of marijuana from the police evidence room, and a justice of the peace in neighboring Starr County pleaded guilty in a separate case to charges of delivering 159 pounds of marijuana to an undercover DEA agent.

  • And the corruption has begun to appear in Maverick County: Roberto Hernandez, a sheriff's deputy, pleaded guilty in April to federal drug-conspiracy charges after he was caught using his squad car, while in full uniform and on duty, to smuggle marijuana through a Border Patrol checkpoint. He told investigators he had done it on numerous occasions. He was arrested in January and awaits sentencing.

  • A federal grand jury last year indicted three local officials on charges of profiting from the drug trade while serving on a federally funded counter-drug strike force here. The case was the result of an FBI sting. U.S. prosecutors asserted that a Maverick County district attorney's office investigator, the administrator of the county jail and the chief deputy in the Sheriff's Department kept money and resold drugs seized from traffickers during a smuggling crackdown. The U.S. government dropped those charges, mid-trial, because the credibility of a chief witness was impeached in another matter. But much of the government evidence was videotaped or recorded, and, even while dropping this case, Assistant U.S. Atty. Charlie Strauss stated in court that he was convinced of the defendants' guilt.

    As for the Maverick County ranchers, they said they are convinced that some local officials are in league with smugglers. One rancher said of them: "They're good guys. But they see all this money, they lose their morality, and they just become a part of it."

    The huge cash flow generated from smuggling drugs and humans has enriched the local Mexican smugglers. "These little smuggling organizations have been made rich," the DEA's Leon said, "rich enough to buy their own property on the river."

    Land Game

    Owning Texas riverfront property helps secure those valuable crossings. Few of these property transfers are easily detected. Federal agents say the criminals disguise their deals through straw owners or dummy front companies, some of them based in Mexico.

    In June 1993, for example, a federal court in Del Rio jailed Juan Manuel Ortiz-Salazar after he was convicted on charges of using his riverfront land to smuggle 1,213 pounds of marijuana into the United States. Federal agents caught him loading the bales of dope onto a trailer on the land on the outskirts of Eagle Pass; DEA officials said he leased the property from a hidden owner who was later traced through several front companies to Mexico.

    And one rancher at the May DEA session conceded he unwittingly sold 67 riverfront acres to a businessman who later turned out to be a drug dealer. DEA officials said in interviews that they believe businessman Hector Jesus Ramon Fuentes, who pleaded guilty in New York to cocaine-trafficking charges last year, was moving cocaine that had been floated across the river from Mexico to his newly acquired Texas property.

    U.S. drug intelligence analysts said Mexican trafficking cartels, which are much larger operations than traditional family-style smugglers with whom they contract on the river, have been buying up ranches in northern Mexico for years, building landing strips, bunkered warehouses and roads, and transforming them into drug-staging areas.

    The local smuggling gangs' effort to muscle into American property is new, said U.S. officials and locals. But why buy north of the Rio Grande? Better logistics, Border Patrol officials said. Ownership allows them to control access to the land by U.S. authorities. "If you own the property, you can control our comings and goings," Border Patrol chief Carrasco said. "We have to notify the owners."

    As the pressure from the armed gangs has increased, the Border Patrol's Carrasco said, the Texas ranchers "are ready to sell . . . and we know who's going to buy the property - the doggone dopers."

    Few Options

    For the ranchers, caught in the cross-fire, there are few options, especially as the violence has increased in recent months. They said they increasingly view themselves as trapped in a life-and-death struggle.

    Indeed, last January, Border Patrol Agent Jefferson Barr was gunned down by drug smugglers while on routine patrol in Eagle Pass. Before his killing, officials said, the traffickers had never fired on agents. But, since then, there have been at least half a dozen exchanges of gunfire; agents now routinely patrol in bulletproof vests.

    Barr's killing was raised as a concern in congressional hearings in Washington. But no additional agents have been assigned to this area yet.

    As a result, as the cop-turned-rancher observed at the DEA meeting: "The night belongs to the bad guys - all up and down the border."

    While others here speak of defending their holdings, of taking justice into their hands, the rancher spoke of his own future in the area. He recalled how he had, as a boy, waded across the river to play baseball with Mexican neighbors. Then he concluded: If nothing changes, he too will have to sell out to the highest bidder.

    "I can't leave this place to my daughter," he said. "How can she protect it when I can't?" Fineman is a Times staff writer; Pyes is a special correspondent.

    Drug Siege?

    In Eagle's Pass, the Maverick County seat, and other areas of Texas, residents and law enforcement officials fear that a sudden surge in the number of illegal immigrants arrested and drugs (especially marijuana) seized is a sign that the U.S.-Texas border has been compromised by increasingly wealthy and high-tech smugglers. Residents on both sides of the border say smugglers have threatened ranchers who refused to sell out.

    Marijuana seizures (In thousands of pounds) '96* (*projected): 41,382

    Illegal migrant arrests (In thousands) '96: 145,000

    Prison Guard Charged With Drug Possession

    Associated Press, July 5, 1996

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A state prison guard was held without bail Friday following his arraignment on drug possession charges.

    Timothy Moretti, 27, a guard in the medium-security section of the Adult Correctional Institutions, was arrested Thursday morning at his home in Cranston.

    State Police and federal agents said they seized 8 pounds of marijuana, 42 tablets of the narcotic hydrocodone, along with about $4,300 in cash.

    The arrest was part of a week-long investigation by state police, FBI, and other law enforcement officers.

    Moretti was charged with several counts of drug possession with intent to distribute. He was held at the ACI following his arraignment Friday morning in Providence District Court.

    'Former FBI Worker Convicted As Dealer
    Sold Crack To Undercover Cop After Losing Job'

    Daily News, Friday, July 5, 1996
    by Dave Racher
    Daily News Staff Writer

    The former FBI worker told the judge he made a "critical mistake" when he became a drug dealer last summer after losing his job.

    Dontae Smith's other mistake was the method of his operation, said Detective Michael J. Chitwood Jr.

    "He was running a delivery service," said Chitwood.

    Smith wept after Common Pleas Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes convicted him of drug possession and sale charges earlier this week. Sentencing was deferred.

    "I'm not a criminal," said Smith, 23, of Malvern Avenue near 52nd Street.

    "I couldn't find a job," said Smith, who had done administrative work with the FBI for about four years.

    Smith's awkward entry into the drug business came on Sept. 12, 1995, after he saw a West Philadelphia drug dealer rip off Chitwood, who showed up on Lansdowne Avenue near 63rd Street posing as a drug user.

    When Chitwood paid the unknown dealer $20, the guy disappeared after saying he was going around the corner to pick up the drugs.

    Smith then approached the unshaven, bare-chested Chitwood, dressed in baggy pants and carrying a beer bottle under his arm, and warned him of the dangers of buying drugs from strangers.

    "You don't want to deal with him," Smith said.

    "You can get hurt coming around here. You've got to know who you're dealing with. Deal with me."

    He then walked to a parked car, grabbed a bag of crack and handed it to Chitwood, along with his pager number.

    "This one is on me," said Smith. "Anytime you need something, contact me and I'll set you and your friends up. I'm on the level. I won't burn you."

    The next day, Chitwood called the pager number and Smith returned the call.

    About 15 minutes later, Smith showed up at 63rd and Race streets and met Chitwood to sell him $50 worth of crack.

    Instead of giving the detective 10 packets, Smith added one "on the house."

    "Don't forget," Smith said. "I want to hook up with your friends."

    Chitwood replied: "You certainly are going to meet my friends."

    He walked away and signaled other cops that the buy had gone down.

    When Smith was taken into custody by Cpl. Charles Jackson and Officer George Mock, he said that he could not believe Chitwood was a cop.

    "He's got to be an actor or a crackhead," sighed Smith.



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