------------------------------------------------------------------- Marvin Chavez Offered Plea With No Jail Time (A Local Correspondent Who Attended Today's Court Hearing Says The Medical Marijuana Patient And Former Director Of The Orange County Cannabis Co-Op Will Tell The Court Tomorrow Whether He Will Go To Trial And Risk 12 Years In Prison Or Take A Plea Bargain Entailing Five Years' Probation) From: FilmMakerZ@AOL.COM Date: Wed, 5 Aug 1998 00:26:11 EDT To: "DRCTalk Reformers' Forum" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: Marvin Chavez offered plea with no jail time Reply-To: email@example.com Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org A dozen supporters showed up for Marvin Chavez's court hearing on Tuesday, August 4. In front of the courthouse, supporters held signs and passed out flyers containing newspaper articles and editorials detailing Chavez's case. After distributing 300 flyers, supporters made their way up to the tenth floor for Chavez's hearing. DA prosecutor Carl Armbrust got ahold of one of the flyers and gave it to Judge Fitzgerald. He sat there reading the articles that criticized his handling of the case. On Monday, Judge Fitzgerald announced he was going on vacation and was going to transfer the case to another judge. Most of the other judges aren't happy with Fitzgerald's decision to not allow Chavez to use a Prop. 215 defense and no one else would take the case. So the case will continue this week and then be finished after the judge's vacation. After reading the articles on the flyer supporters handed out, Judge Kennedy called for a meeting in his chambers with prosecutor Armbrust and Chavez's attorneys, Robert Kennedy and Jon Alexander. After about fifteen minutes of what supporters assumed was discussion about the flyer, they returned to the courtroom with a plea bargain being offered by Armbrust. Chavez would be required to plead guilty to one felony count of marijuana sales, but would serve no time in jail and get five years probation. He would also be able to grow and use his medicinal marijuana for his Ankylosing Spondylitis, but would not be able to distribute it to other patients. The DA would also return the medical records of 200 patients currently in their possession. If Chavez goes to jury trial, he is facing nine felony charges and possibly twelve years in jail. Chavez said he needed time to consider the plea deal, and will return to court with his decision tomorrow, Wednesday, August 4, at 1:30pm. If you are able, please show up at noon in front of the Orange County Central Courthouse, 700 Civic Center Drive West, in Santa Ana, to demonstrate. The hearing will be in Division 39 on the 10th floor.
------------------------------------------------------------------- McCormick Denies Plans To Sell Pot ('Reuters' Briefly Notes Bel-Air, California, Medical Marijuana Patient Todd McCormick Has Pleaded Not Guilty To Federal Marijuana Charges) Date: Wed, 05 Aug 1998 13:44:01 -0400 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US CA: WIRE: McCormick Denies Plans To Sell Pot Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Patrick Henry Source: Reuters Pubdate: Tue, 04 Aug 1998 McCORMICK DENIES PLANS TO SELL POT (LOS ANGELES) Marijuana activist Todd McCormick denies a plot to grow massive amounts of pot to sell to cannabis clubs. McCormick was arrested last year after authorities found thousands of pot plants in his rented Bel-Air mansion. He claims Proposition 215 gives him the right to grow marijuana to treat chronic pain brought on by several bouts with cancer. McCormick pleaded not guilty in a Los Angeles federal court to charges he was growing pot for sale.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Medical Marijuana Advocate Pleads Innocent To Charges ('The Sacramento Bee' Version) Date: Wed, 05 Aug 1998 13:22:11 -0400 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US CA: Medical Marijuana Advocate Pleads Innocent To Charges Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: email@example.com (Frank S. World) Source: Sacramento Bee (CA) Contact: http://www.sacbee.com/about_us/sacbeemail.html Website: http://www.sacbee.com/ Pubdate: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 MEDICAL MARIJUANA ADVOCATE PLEADS INNOCENT TO CHARGES LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Medical marijuana advocate Todd McCormick pleaded innocent Monday to federal charges of conspiring to grow the drug in a Bel-Air mansion where authorities found more than 4,000 marijuana plants. McCormick and six others were indicted on charges of conspiracy to grow marijuana, possessing the drug with the intent to distribute, and distributing it. McCormick's indictment superseded a previous charge of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. The group allegedly grew marijuana at four leased locations in Los Angeles County, distributed it and tried to sell to the Los Angeles Cannibis Buyer's Club, which has dispensed the drug since Californians voted in 1996 to legalize it for medical use. McCormick, who is free on bail, has maintained he has done nothing illegal under Proposition 215, which legalized the cultivation, use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes on a doctor's recommendation. Federal courts have not recognized the state law. The activist claims marijuana helps ease the pain from a rare form of cancer he has suffered since childhood. He also suffers pain from hip and back problems. McCormick entered his plea Monday with one of his co-defendants, Andrew Scott Hass. Two others also indicted in July pleaded innocent last week and two others were expected to enter pleas next week. A bench warrant was issued for a seventh defendant, Kirill Dyjine, who failed to show up to court Monday.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Witnesses Say Probe Hindered By Guards ('The San Francisco Chronicle' Says Four California Prison Investigators Testified Yesterday Before A State Senate Hearing That They Were Blocked In Their Probe Of Guard Brutality Against Inmates And A Subsequent Coverup Alleged At San Joaquin Valley Prison, And Were Hampered By Inept Management And Unclear Ground Rules While Examining Allegations Of Wrongdoing At Corcoran State Prison) Date: Wed, 5 Aug 1998 10:30:41 -0700 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US CA: Witnesses Say Probe Hindered by Guards Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org (Frank S. World) Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/ Pubdate: Tue, 04 Aug 1998 Author: Pamela J. Podger, Chronicle Staff Writer WITNESSES SAY PROBE HINDERED BY GUARDS Corcoran officers wouldn't cooperate Prison investigators testified yesterday that they were blocked in their probe of guard brutality against inmates and a subsequent coverup alleged at a turmoil-rocked San Joaquin Valley prison. Four investigators told state senators that they were hampered by inept management and unclear ground rules for examining allegations of administrative and criminal wrongdoing at Corcoran State Prison. Investigators also said an agreement between the powerful prison guard union and top brass at the Corrections Department thwarted their attempts to compel guards to cooperate. Seventy to 80 percent of the Corcoran guards either refused to comment or expressed ignorance of the alleged misconduct, according to the investigators. ``We took it as far as we could on the paper trail,'' said investigator Ben Eason, his voice cracking with frustration. ``But you reach a point where you need people to be candid with you.'' The testimony came on the fourth day of a special legislative hearing as state senators questioned witnesses about allegations of brutality, excessive force and gladiator-style fights arranged by guards at the Corcoran prison. The remote maximum-security prison lies amid cotton fields and it houses some of California's most notorious convicts, including Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan. The hearing, originally planned to last two days, is expected to continue next week. In February, the FBI indicted eight corrections officers, but limited probes done by the Wilson administration and state attorney general's office resulted in no criminal charges. Just last week, however, the California Department of Corrections agreed to review the 36 shootings inside the Corcoran prison's security housing unit, a prison within a prison for the worst offenders. CDC Assistant Director Richard Ehle disclosed yesterday that the shooting review would involve Charles Latting, a former FBI investigator and security adviser for the National Football League, along with retired Oakland Police Chief George Hart and Jack McDonald, a former police chief from Brookings, Ore. In the hearing yesterday, prison investigators testified that broad probes -- such as an inquiry into an exercise policy that pitted rivals against each other -- were handled by Del Pierce, a troubleshooter known as ``Mr. Fix It'' by Capitol insiders. But Pierce, the lead investigator, blamed former corrections director James Gomez for deciding not to force guards to cooperate in the probe. Gomez left the department in December 1996. ``There was a lot of resistance from me, but his decision is final,'' Pierce said. Investigators Eason, Brian Neely and Brian Parry testified that higher-ups in Sacramento insisted that they could not compel the guards to testify and took away any tools they had to charge the guards with insubordination. Guards appeared at interviews with union representatives, but investigators said they pleaded ignorance or refused to speak on Fifth Amendment grounds. Don Novey, president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, which represents about 27,500 prison employees, said union officials accompanied guards because rumors from Sacramento indicated that all Corcoran staff would be fired and prosecuted. Novey said he wished all the guards had been granted immunity ``so we could get to the bottom of the issues.'' But investigator John Harrison said he did not have a chance to get to the bottom of the matter. Harrison testified that his superiors ordered him to return to his desk job at High Desert State Prison in Susanville just a few months into his task, even though he said there were still many documents and people to investigate. Investigators said they did the best job possible, given their limitations, and flatly disputed claims that they whitewashed the matter for the Wilson administration. ``This certainly was not a whitewash. You've seen our administration paraded through here, and we are incapable of conspiracy,'' Eason said. Harrison said that during his interviews, he heard of only one cover-up by Corcoran staff, which pertained to the alleged rapes of Eddie Dillard, a 120-pound, first-time convict, allegedly committed by 230-pound prisoner Wayne Robertson. Robertson, who is accused of 15 prison rapes, supposedly meted out punishment for the guards by raping or beating problem convicts. Even prison critics said the investigator's candid remarks pointed to the difficulty of getting guards to break their code of silence without any disciplinary tools. ``Fellow officers would not be mad if officers faced a choice between talking or losing their jobs,'' said Fresno lawyer Catherine Campbell who is handling a civil lawsuit on the 1994 shooting death of Preston Tate, a convicted rapist and Crips gang member killed by guards during a yard fight. State Senator Tom Hayden, D- Los Angeles, said the hearings could result in legislation forcing corrections investigations to be carried out by the Office of Inspector General, as well as further protections for whistle-blowers and changing the inmate exercise policy. ``This is a turning point in what has became an invisible policy of excessive force on inmates,'' Hayden said. 1998 San Francisco Chronicle Page A13
------------------------------------------------------------------- Marijuana Use Measure Not Gone To Pot ('The Las Vegas Review-Journal' Notes Yesterday's News That The Medical Marijana Initiative Sponsored By Americans For Medical Rights Has Qualified For The November Ballot) Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 18:21:55 GMT To: "AMR/updates.list" From: Dave Fratello (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: NV: Review-Journal on init qualification Las Vegas Review-Journal, Tuesday, August 4, 1998 MARIJUANA USE MEASURE NOT GONE TO POT Voters will decide whether an illegal drug should be available to ease patients' suffering. By Sean Whaley Donrey Capital Bureau CARSON CITY -- Voters in November will take a step toward determining whether marijuana can be prescribed for medical purposes in Nevada. "Let the debate begin," said Secretary of State Dean Heller on Monday after determining that the initiative petition qualified after all in two contested counties. A spokesman for Americans for Medical Rights, which circulated petitions in 13 of 17 Nevada counties to qualify the measure for the ballot, said the group was elated by Heller's findings. "I was more nervous during the signature collection phase than during the challenge phase," said spokesman Dave Fratello. "The logistics were so difficult, with petitions circulating all over the state and the clock ticking." "I wish we had never gotten to the point of failing and seeing it revived, but it's a great vindication," he continued. Getting on the ballot is just one step in a lengthy process. Voters then must approve the proposal in the November general election. An amendment to the state constitution, voters will have to approve the measure a second time in November 2000 before it becomes law. The ballot question appeared to be in doubt when the necessary signatures from registered voters were found to be short in two counties. A count in Lyon County found the petition seven signatures short. A review by Nye County officials likewise found the measure 36 signatures short. The group needed to qualify the measure in all 13 counties where petitions were circulated to get it on the ballot. The group appealed the findings of signature shortfalls to Heller. It cited several instances where signatures should have been counted. A math error also was identified. In Lyon County, 25 signatures previously rejected were validated by Heller, raising the total to 1,000, or 18 more than needed. In Nye County, 21 previously rejected signatures were validated. The review also disclosed a math error, adding another 30 signatures to the total. The 51 additional valid signatures brought the Nye County total to 941, or 15 more than needed. Most of the signatures determined to be valid upon review initially were rejected because the clerks could not read the names or because of questions about whether those who signed were registered to vote at the time they signed. The 46 signatures in the two counties were identified upon review to be properly registered voters in the two counties. "In this entire process, from its inception to its conclusion, two principles stand without question," Heller said. "The first is the right to petition. The second is that the end result be valid." Colby Williams, an attorney who helped Americans for Medical Rights challenge the Nye and Lyon county results, said that while the process of qualifying the petition for the ballot has been long, the final result is worth the effort. "We're extremely happy with the results," he said. "We look forward to the upcoming campaign and the ballot vote." Williams said the professional investigation by Heller and his staff was particularly important because of actions in Nye County that could have kept the question off the ballot for all Nevada voters. Nye County officials initially did not count a number of signatures that later were added to the total upon direction from Heller. They did not count 400 signatures because of a variety of errors, including the lack of addresses or dates by some who signed the petition. Heller, citing a 1994 interpretation of the signature verification process by his office, said these signatures should be checked and counted if they were signed in ink by registered voters. The medical marijuana initiative proposes to allow a patient to use marijuana upon the advice of a physician for "treatment or alleviation" of cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, persistent nausea, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and other medical problems. The proposal is one of five the group is putting on the ballot in states this year. In addition to Nevada, proposals already have been qualified in Alaska, Washington and Oregon. The group is waiting to hear this week from Colorado, but Fratello said he is optimistic that it will qualify. The proposals have drawn opposition from individuals and groups concerned that the ballot questions are a step toward legalization of marijuana. Lt. Stan Olsen of the Metropolitan Police Department said such a measure would open the door to abuse unless the use of marijuana is tightly regulated. "Law enforcement will probably want to ensure there are significant controls to avoid even the hint of abuse," he said. Olsen questioned why a group would push for the medical use of marijuana when there are so many other drugs on the market to help people with problems such as pain or nausea. "With all the modern medications, why not find something already available rather than a substance that is abused by the public," he said. Fratello said there is no hidden agenda by the group to legalize marijuana. The drug has proved to be beneficial in some medical situations, but national drug policy has made marijuana unavailable because of political considerations, he said. Americans for Medical Rights is simply using the same political process to put pressure on policy-makers to allow legitimate use of the drug, Fratello said.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Nevada Medical Marijuana Proposal Qualified ('The Orange County Register' Version) From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: "MN" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: MN: US: NV: Nevada Medical Marijuana Proposal Qualified Date: Mon, 10 Aug 1998 19:55:01 -0500 Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John W.Black Pubdate:8-4-98 Source: Orange County Register (CA) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ Nevada Medical Marijuana Proposal Qualified Nevada's secretary of state on Monday qualified a medical marijuana proposal-seemingly up in smoke for the lack of just 43 signatures-for the November ballot. Secretary of State Dean Heller said his office found a mathematical error by Nye County in counting names,and improper rejection of some signatures there and in Lyon County. When the signatures were added back in, Heller said, the proposal had enough signatures.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Oral Arguments Scheduled In Juror Contempt Appeal (A Bulletin From The Jury Rights Project Invites You To Protest August 10 In Denver, Just Before Oral Arguments Begin In The Appeal Of Laura Kriho, The First Juror Convicted In Over 300 Years Based On Evidence Of How She Voted And Deliberated In The Jury Room)Date: Mon, 3 Aug 1998 22:58:47 -0600 (MDT) From: Jury Rights Project (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: Jury Rights Project (email@example.com) Subject: Aug. 10: Oral Arguments in Juror Contempt Appeal Oral Arguments Scheduled in Juror Contempt Appeal Monday, August 10, 1998 1:30 pm State Judicial Building - Court of Appeals Court Room - Fifth Floor 2 E. 14th Avenue, Denver, Colorado (The State Judicial Building is located on the corner of 14th Avenue and Broadway in Downtown Denver. From I-25 South, exit Speer South, take Speer to 14th Avenue, make a left. Parking is available across the street at the Denver Public Library.) PROTEST DEMONSTRATION: 12:30 pm in front of court building. BRING FRIENDS and SIGNS! [Call 303-448-5640 on Aug. 10 to make sure the hearing has not been rescheduled.] [Denver] -- Oral arguments will be heard in the appeal of the conviction of Laura Kriho, a 34-year-old Gilpin County resident whose case attracted national attention. Legal experts say it is the first time in over 300 years that a juror has been prosecuted based on evidence of how they voted and deliberated in the jury room. Kriho was convicted in February 1997 for contempt of court for failing to volunteer information during jury selection about her political beliefs and background, even though she wasn't asked any questions about those matters. Kriho was investigated after she was the lone holdout on the jury against conviction in the case of a nineteen year old girl charged with possession of methamphetamine in Gilpin County. Kriho had made arguments in the jury room about jury nullification, the power of a jury to acquit a defendant if they think the law is unjust. Kriho was convicted of contempt of court for obstructing the administration of justice by failing to volunteer during jury selection that she knew about the doctrine of jury nullification, that she was an activist for the reform of cannabis and hemp laws, and that she had been arrested (but not convicted) 12 years previous on the charge of possession of LSD. Because she was not asked any specific questions about these issues, she was cleared of the perjury aspect of the contempt charge. However, the judge ruled that Kriho should have known that her knowledge of jury nullification and her background were important to the selection of a fair and impartial jury and that she should have spontaneously volunteered this information to the court. She was fined $1200. Kriho says, "I answered all the questions they asked me truthfully. I didn't lie or try to hide anything. I feel I was prosecuted because I voted not guilty." Paul Grant, Kriho's attorney, says prosecuting jurors sets a dangerous precedent. "Laura's conviction creates a new legal duty in which a juror is obliged to volunteer confessions of any beliefs or experiences they have any thought the court might want to know. The jury system was created as a means for citizens to check the power of their government," he says. "Punishing jurors for their beliefs and speech will destroy the jury system, as will purging juries of all independent-minded jurors. Laura Kriho's conviction must be overturned to protect the jury system." Oral arguments are scheduled for 40 minutes. The Court of Appeals is a three-judge panel and may take several months after the oral arguments to issue their ruling. We will keep you informed. For more information, contact the: Jury Rights Project P.O. Box 729, Nederland, CO 80466 Vmail: (303) 448-5640 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org "Protecting the jury as the last line of non-violent defense against a repressive government." Background information and copies of some of the briefs filed in the appeal can be found on the Web: http://www.lrt.org/jrp.krihotoc.htm Case citation: The People of the State of Colorado v. Laura Kriho, Court of Appeals Case No. 97 CA 700 Appeal from the District Court of Gilpin County, Case # 96 CR 91, Honorable Henry R. Nieto, Judge *** Note to Media on Expanded Media Coverage: Requests for expanded media coverage (cameras or audio recordings) should be made to the chief judge of the appellate court, Judge Klaus Hume, at least 24 hours in advance. Copies of the request should be given to counsel for each party participating in the proceeding. Specific requirements for expanded media coverage can be found in Canon 3 of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure. Search the Colorado Court Rules on the Web [http://web.intellinetusa.com/stat97/search.htm] for the words "expanded media." Judge Klaus Hume Chief Judge - Colorado Court of Appeals 2 E. 14th Avenue - Suite 300 Denver, Colorado 80203 Phone: (303) 837-3785 Paul Grant Counsel for Laura Kriho (Defendant - Appellant) 19039 E. Plaza Drive, #260E Parker, Colorado 80134 Phone: (303) 841-9649 Fax: (303) 841-9671 Assistant Attorney General Roger G. Billote Counsel for the State (Plaintiff - Apellee) Criminal Enforcement Division 1525 Sherman Street, 5th Floor Denver, Colorado 80203 Phone: (303) 866-5785 Fax: (303) 866-3955 *** Distributed by the: Jury Rights Project (email@example.com) Web page: (http://www.lrt.org/jrp.homepage.htm) To be added to or removed from the JRP mailing list, send email with the word SUBSCRIBE or UNSUBSCRIBE in the title.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Voter Pamphlet `Bias' Ruling Pending ('The Arizona Daily Star' Says The State Supreme Court Will Decide Today Whether The Description Of Proposition 300, Written By The Same Officials Who Nullified Proposition 200, Is Biased Because It Singles Out Certain Schedule 1 Drugs Such As Heroin And LSD, Out Of 116 Listed In The Measure) From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: "MN" (email@example.com) Subject: MN: US: AZ: Voter Pamphlet `Bias' Ruling Pending Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 18:48:10 -0500 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org (Frank S. World) Pubdate: Tuesday, 4 August 1998 Source: Arizona Daily Star Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.azstarnet.com/ Author: Howard Fischer VOTER PAMPHLET `BIAS' RULING PENDING PHOENIX - The state Supreme Court will decide today what voters will be told about the proposed repeal of a law legalizing illegal drugs for medical use. At issue is whether the wording written by legislators is biased because it singles out certain illegal drugs, such as heroin and LSD, from 116 listed in the measure. A Maricopa Superior Court judge last week ordered the Legislative Council - a committee of legislators backing the measure - to remove those references from a brochure for voters. The legislative committee, represented by private attorney John Lundin, appealed that ruling. Lundin told the justices yesterday that they have no right to second-guess whether an explanation of Proposition 300 meets the legal requirement of being impartial. Lundin said the constitution gives legislators power over their own acts, which are not subject to court review. Even if he is wrong, Lundin argued that the explanation is ``substantially'' impartial. But John Buttrick, representing backers of the ``medical marijuana'' measure, said the Supreme Court must ensure that voters receive a truly impartial explanation of the measure. If the Supreme Court agrees, the only option may be to publish the brochure without the Legislative Council's explanation. The council cannot meet and reword the explanation by today's 10 a.m. deadline for the pamphlets to be printed. The referendum language, along with arguments for and against it, would still be in the voter pamphlet.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drugs Everywhere (A Letter To The Editor Of 'The Dallas Morning News' About The Massive Crackdown On Heroin Sellers In Plano, Texas, Points Out The Same Law Enforcement Resources Are Not Being Expended In Other Communities) Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 11:28:06 -0800 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US TX: LTE: Drugs Everywhere Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Rolf Ernst (firstname.lastname@example.org) Pubdate: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 Source: Dallas Morning News Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.dallasnews.com DRUGS EVERYWHERE Re: Plano drug indictments. Plano isn't the only community fighting the drug problem. Communities and neighborhoods too numerous to count are experiencing the same situation. Where's the publicity, good police legwork and aggressive prosecution in the less affluent communities? Is it unfair or selfish that other communities expect the same efforts in the pursuit and prosecution of drug peddlers in our area as in Plano? The deaths in Plano are belittled in no way. But problems left unchecked in one area will eventually spread to other areas. Drugs know no color. Denard Crawford, Dallas
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug Courts ('The Dallas Morning News' Says County Commissioners Agree That Drug Trafficking Is Reaching The Crisis Level, But They Cannot Agree That Funding Two Courts Strictly For Drug-Related Trials Is Fair, When There Are So Many Other Major Criminal Cases Waiting To Be Heard - But District Attorney John Vance's Office Has Said It Is Willing To Commit Cash From Drug Forfeitures To The Budget For The Two Specialized Dallas County Courts) Date: Thu, 06 Aug 1998 22:09:40 -0500 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US TX: OPED: Drug Courts Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Rolf Ernst (firstname.lastname@example.org) Source: Dallas Morning News Pubdate: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.dallasnews.com DRUG COURTS The right way to address the continuing epidemic Dallas County officials face a dilemma concerning the continued operation of drug courts here. County commissioners agree that drug trafficking is reaching the crisis level. But they cannot all agree that funding two courts are strictly for drug-related trials is fair, when there are so many other major criminal cases are waiting to be heard. What's the solution? Use more of the drug dealers' own money to pay the cost of prosecuting the cases. District Attorney John Vance's office has said it is willing to commit cash from drug forfeitures to the budget for the two specialized Dallas County courts. That makes good sense. The courts, which were established through state grant to the late 1980's, have handled most of the county's drug cases in the subsequent years. In 1997 the to courts disposed of all but 50 of the 2183 drug cases filed by the district attorney. But the grant funding has run out, and the county must decide whether to pick up the whole tab for court operations. With heroin From seizures up by more than 300% and methadone users doubling in a year, county officials would be wise to support the special drug courts. Failure to do so could create a logjam in the other courts and cause more serious crimes to be delayed even longer on the dockets. The costs for operating the to drug courts is expected to be $762,000 annually. That is a lot of money. But it is considerably less than the price for regular courts that have a full staff of clerks and bathers. Discussion of the drug courts will be part of the commissioner's unscheduled criminal-justice budget talks on Wednesday. If the district attorney's office is willing to replace the $155,000 in lost state grant money, commissioners should see the benefit of funding and the remaining costs.
------------------------------------------------------------------- State Prison Population Grows ('The New Haven Register' Version Of Yesterday's New Numbers On Prison Populations Reported By The US Department Of Justice's Bureau Of Justice Statistics Notes The Local Angle - Connecticut's Adult Prison Population Grew 3.8 Percent In 1997) Date: Sat, 22 Aug 1998 15:27:30 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US CT: State Prison Population Grows Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Tue, 04 Aug 1998 Source: New Haven Register Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.ctcentral.com/ Author: Allan Drury STATE PRISON POPULATION GROWS Connecticut's adult prison population grew 3.8 percent in 1997, an increase that experts said reflects harsher sentences for violent offenders. The rise brought Connecticut's inmate total to 18,521, up from 17,851 in 1996, U.S. Department of Justice officials said in a recently released report. (You can join a discussion about the rising prison population in Town Talk.) The nation's prison population grew to more than 1.24 million, an increase of 5.2 percent over 1996, according to the department's Bureau of Justice Statistics said. Connecticut's percentage increase, however, was greater than the 1.8 percent increase for the Northeast region, according to the report. Chief State's Attorney John Bailey said "truth-in-sentencing" laws the General Assembly passed has meant longer terms for the most serious felonies. As recently as 1988 to 1991, the average inmate in Connecticut served 10 percent of his or her sentence, Bailey said. Because of new laws, felons now serve 85 percent of their sentences on average, he said. But when it comes to non-violent offenders, the state has come up with a number of methods of punishment and rehabilitation that do not include time behind bars, experts said. "We probably lead the country in keeping prison space for violent offenders," Bailey said. State Rep. Michael P. Lawlor, co-chairman of the General Assembly's Judiciary Committee, agreed, saying the state has been innovative in finding alternative ways to sentence drug offenders. "We are probably more progressive than any other state in terms of giving prosecutors and judges the discretion to do other things (besides jailing them) with drug offenders," said Lawlor, D-East Haven. Part of the reason for the trend has been an explosion in prison costs since the mid-1980s, Lawlor said. He said that in 1986 the state spent $100 million on its prison system and $400 million on higher education. In 1996, the state spent $400 million on prisons and $395 million on higher education, he said. "I think state governments, especially ours, have found this is an incredibly expensive thing to do, to lock up all these people," he said. The state Department of Correction estimates it costs $70.49 per day, or $25,728 per year, to house an inmate, a spokesman said. Whereas the state emphasizes alternative sanctions for drug and other non-violent offenders, the federal government takes a harder line, said Vito Castignoli, a Milford defense lawyer. That, he said, causes the number of people in the federal prison system to rise more rapidly than the number of those in state prisons. Congress has passed the laws "to look tough on crime," he said. For instance, federal law treats a person caught with one gram of crack cocaine like a person caught with 100 grams of powder cocaine. The federal prison propulation jumped 7 percent from 105,544 to 112,973, the Justice Department report said. "At the state level, they still have more discretion to not put a guy in jail if they feel he doesn't belong in jail," he said. Neighboring New York saw its prison population increase only 0.5 percent to 70,026 in 1997, the report states. Connecticut's other border states also saw smaller increases. Massachusetts posted an increase of 1.3 percent to 11,947; Rhode Island's increase was 3.1 percent to 3,371, according to the report. (c) 1998, New Haven Register
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drugs (A Letter To The Editor Of 'The Ottawa Citizen' Says It's Better To Declare Victory And Withdraw Than To Admit Defeat And Fight On) From: email@example.com (Matt Elrod) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Canada: Editorial: Drugs Date: Tue, 04 Aug 1998 08:51:55 -0700 Lines: 23 Newshawk: email@example.com Source: Ottawa Citizen Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: Tuesday 4 August 1998 DRUGS In the darkest days of the Vietnam war, cynical idealists proposed that the United States simply declare victory and withdraw. Their belief that no one would notice a defeat unless a press release announced one ultimately proved unsound. But it was a lot better than the position of U.S. drug czar General Barry McCaffrey, who says he doesn't like to use the phrase "war on drugs" because "normally in a war you achieve total victory," whereas in this case the best that can be done is to reduce drug abusers to three per cent of the U.S. population. Declaring victory and withdrawing may not have made much sense, but isn't it worse to admit defeat and stay on? Copyright 1998 The Ottawa Citizen
------------------------------------------------------------------- Department Of National Defence Botched Drug Probe At Spy Base, Memo Confirms (According To 'The Ottawa Citizen,' CTV News Said Last Night That Newly Obtained Government Documents Confirm That Military Police Botched A Drug Investigation Last Fall Involving Staff At Canadian Forces Station Leitrim, One Of Canada's Top-Secret Spy Bases Outside Ottawa) From: email@example.com (Matt Elrod) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Canada: DND botched drug probe at spy base, memo confirms Date: Tue, 04 Aug 1998 08:56:00 -0700 Lines: 99 Newshawk: email@example.com Source: Ottawa Citizen Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: Tuesday 4 August 1998 Author: Mark Kennedy DND botched drug probe at spy base, memo confirms PCL Constructors Inc. / Canadian Forces Station Leitrim, south of Ottawa, handles some of Canada's most sensitive national security work. Last fall's probe was conducted after an informant told military police of drug use by staff at the site. Newly obtained government documents confirm that military police botched a drug investigation involving staff at one of Canada's top-secret spy bases outside Ottawa, CTV News reported last night. The internal Defence Department documents lend credence to a story initially aired last November by the network. At the time, CTV reported the 1995-96 military probe of alleged drug use at the base was badly mishandled and, as a result, no charges were laid and there were no reprimands. The listening post at Canadian Forces Station Leitrim just south of Ottawa handles some of the most sensitive national security work in the country's military. It is believed that dozens of communications personnel eavesdrop on everything from cell-phone calls made by drug dealers to coded messages from unfriendly foreign governments. In early November, CTV reported the probe was sparked after an informant told military police that drug use at the site, where employees have top-secret clearances, had been going on for years. The drugs allegedly being used were hashish and cocaine. The suggestion that the military police raid on the base had been mishandled caused a furore in the House of Commons, where Defence Minister Art Eggleton insisted the drug investigation had been "thorough" and had not been botched. But now, through the Access to Information Act, CTV has obtained an internal Defence Department memorandum dated several days after Mr. Eggleton's public assurances. The memo summarizes the findings of an internal departmental review that was conducted "to identify what, if anything went wrong with the conduct of the investigation into alleged drug usage" at the base. Contrary to Mr. Eggleton's denial, the review found several serious shortcomings in the drug probe. Among the main observations: - There may have been the "potential" of alleged drug users on the base passing on "classified information" to the "criminal element," namely drug traffickers. - Military police carried out no surveillance of alleged drug users or traffickers. - Officers involved in the probe were inept at conducting interviews with informants, meaning the subsequent interviews with alleged drug users "were virtually non-productive." - Military police didn't call local police or other investigative agencies within National Defence for help in this "sensitive and serious" probe. The review concludes the drug probe should have been handed over to the National Investigative Service, a special branch of the Defence Department. Said the review: "Supervisors did not examine their resources and determine that this type of investigation requires special handling and a great deal of experience. Drug investigations have a history of blooming into major cases. The sheer number of alleged users was a trigger that identified the potential of a major case operation." In hindsight, it would have clearly been better "to attack the problem differently," said the review. In its report last night, CTV said the internal review appears to show the former commanding officer at the base wanted to get to the bottom of the drug scandal but may have been hampered by unnamed "outside pressures." The network interviewed Reform defence critic Art Hanger, a former police officer who conducted drug investigations before becoming a politician. Mr. Hanger said the newly released documents show Mr. Eggleton bungled the affair. "The security of this country is in jeopardy and he blew it," said Mr. Hanger, who is demanding an inquiry. "What other word can you use but coverup? If there is outside interference into an investigation ... then it's important to find out who did it and why. Now it's up to the minister to clean it up, but I don't think he has the will to do it." Mr. Eggleton was not available to be interviewed for last night's report because he was on vacation. Copyright 1998 The Ottawa Citizen
------------------------------------------------------------------- Heroin's New Image Hooks Teenagers (Britain's 'Times' Says A Report Released Monday By The Home Office, 'New Heroin Outbreaks Amongst Young People in England and Wales,' Suggests A Key Aspect To Heroin's New Popularity Is Its Increasingly Cheap Price, But Ignores The Role Of Prohibition In Bringing Down Its Price) Date: Wed, 05 Aug 1998 13:33:47 -0400 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: UK: Heroin's New Image Hooks Teenagers Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: email@example.com (Misty) Source: Times, The (UK) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.the-times.co.uk/ Pubdate: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 Author: Richard Ford Dealers' techniques have had alarming success HEROIN'S NEW IMAGE HOOKS TEENAGERS Battlefields on the front line DRUG-PUSHERS have changed the image of heroin so successfully that its use has reached epidemic proportions in many British towns and cities, a government report said yesterday. Even teenagers from affluent, middle-class families are using a drug that their counterparts would have dismissed 15 years ago as only for older junkies. The targets of the drug-dealers are teenagers who regularly take "recreational" drugs such as cannabis and Ecstasy. Children as young as 14 are smoking and injecting heroin, many of them unaware that it is addictive. In some areas, children as young as 10 had taken the Class-A drug. The drug-dealers also use mobile phones and pagers to deliver the drug to users' homes or to a car park or pub. Most heroin users were socially excluded and lived in disadvantaged districts, but they also included some affluent and middle-class people who frequently indulged in "recreational" drugs. It is the success of dealers in changing the image of heroin over the past 15 years that is the most remarkable finding of the study. In the 1960s and 1970s, heroin users were people in their twenties, seen as pursuing a hippy way of life; but in the 1980s they were viewed as social inadequates. These days, in an attempt to change its bad image, dealers are selling heroin as "brown" or "browns" and as a powder that can be smoked, like cannabis, at a cost of about £10 a bag, much the same as the price of an Ecstasy tablet. "The message, of course, is that heroin is apparently no more expensive and little different from other 'recreational' illicit drugs," the Home Office study, New Heroin Outbreaks Amongst Young People in England and Wales, said. "The heroin outbreaks spreading across Britain are primarily a product of purposeful supplying and marketing. The precursor to all of this had been the strong, sustained availability of pure, inexpensive heroin primarily from southwest Asia." The techniques adopted by dealers have produced a new wave of heroin use by young people, especially in towns and cities that escaped the ravages of the big heroin outbreaks of the 1980s. "There is little doubt that a second wave of new, young heroin users is emerging," the report said. "With 80 per cent of areas confidently identifying new outbreaks within their communities and providing such a consistent picture and profile of new users it is, unfortunately, reasonable to suggest that we are facing a second heroin epidemic." It found areas with no previous heroin history becoming the sites for new outbreaks, including parts of southwest England such as housing estates in Bristol. Other towns in the grip of a heroin epidemic are Gateshead, Hartlepool, Hull, Dewsbury, Bradford and Birmingham. Most regions in England and Wales report serious outbreaks of heroin use as a result of strong availability of the drug from southwest Asia, and new operators using motorways to link big suppliers in cities such as Manchester, London and Liverpool with dealers in smaller towns and estates. The profits of dealing in heroin are enormous: an ounce of heroin costs a dealer about £800 and produces more than 300 bags priced at £10 each. The high returns mean that there are always dealers ready to replace anyone seized by the police. The report highlighted the role of Turkish processing plants and criminal networks in organising the transport of heroin from Asia to this country. It called for urgent action to set up services for young people and for heroin users, and a co-ordinated approach to tackle the supply network. Battlefields on the front line Two of the areas facing a heroin problem are Gateshead and Hull. Gateshead, population 92,400, has seen heroin use increase since 1994, aggravating a drug scene dominated by heavy drinking and tranquilliser abuse. The police say that a small number of well-organised dealers based at home and communicating by mobile phone are setting up on the town's estates selling bags of heroin for between £5 and £10. "Smoking brown" was perceived by many young users as an extension of their drug abuse based on alcohol, cannabis, solvents, amphetamines and minor tranquillisers, the report said. In the North East, Goole and Bridlington are experiencing new outbreaks of heroin use, but Hull, population 240,000, is experiencing a full-scale outbreak of heroin use based on a small network of 1980s users. The report said Hull had a particularly susceptible population living in relative poverty.
------------------------------------------------------------------- French Police Question TVM Riders And Officials ('The International Herald Tribune' Says A Day After The Tour De France Ended, Police Questioned 14 Members Of The Dutch TVM Team In Reims, France, In Connection With The Bicycle Competition's Doping Scandal) Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 11:25:13 -0800 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: France: IHT: French Police Question TVM Riders and Officials Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Peter Webster Pubdate: Tue, 04 Aug 1998 Source: International Herald Tribune Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.iht.com/ Author: IHT staff FRENCH POLICE QUESTION TVM RIDERS AND OFFICIALS REIMS, France---A day after the Tour de France ended, police questioned 14 members of the TVM team. Six cyclists, along with eight team staff members, were questioned Monday morning in Reims, northeast of Paris. Already the team director, Cees Priern, its doctor, Andrei Mikhailov, and Joahnnes Moors, a masseur, had been placed under formal investigation --- a step short of being formally charged---on doping charges. The six riders---Jeroen Blijlevens, Steven De Jongh, Servais Knaven, Bart Voskamp, Sergei Ivanov and Sergei Outschakov---made no comment as they entered the police station. Jan Van Het Hoge, the team's cook, said the riders ''are all very at ease and don't think they will be put under official examination because they are innocent. I hope..we can go back to the Netherlands quickly." The investigation of the TVM team began in March, when customs agents found performance-enhancing drugs in a team car. Priem and Mikhailov were arrested July 23, and subsequent searches of TVM hotel rooms resulted in the seizure of more drugs. Team members were taken to a hospital in Albertville, where they were subjected to extensive medical checks. The l7th stage of the race had to be annulled when all the cyclists, angered at the treatment of TVM members, refused to race. On Friday, TVM riders pulled out of the race saying they had neither the physical nor the mental strength to continue. They quit while the Tour was in Switzerland, meaning the riders would not have to come back through France. Marie-George Buffet, the French sports minister, said she was determined to attack doping among athletes. In an interview published Monday in the. French daily Le Monde, she said doping was common at the junior level. Of 221 athletes who tested positive for drugs in France in 1997, she said 27 were "at the top level."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Tracing Money, Swiss Outdo US On Mexico Drug Corruption Case ('The New York Times' Says The Anticipated Success Of A Swiss Detective Team In Showing Raul Salinas De Gortari Made Money By Assuring The Safe Transport Of Cocaine Through Mexico To The United States Has Turned An Unflattering Mirror On Washington's Handling Of What US Officials Once Described As A Watershed Effort To Combat Not Just The Flow Of Drugs Through Mexico Into The United States, But The Complex System Of Official Corruption That Has Long Allowed It To Flourish) Date: Thu, 06 Aug 1998 20:07:09 -0500 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (MAPNews) Subject: MN: Mexico: Tracing Money, Swiss Outdo U.S. On Mexico Drug Corruption Case Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Patrick Henry (firstname.lastname@example.org) Source: New York Times (NY) Pubdate: Tue, 04 Aug 1998 Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.nytimes.com/ Author: Tim Golden, New York Times TRACING MONEY, SWISS OUTDO U.S. ON MEXICO DRUG CORRUPTION CASE MEXICO CITY -- When the young chief of Switzerland's drug police arrived here in late 1995 to inquire about $132 million found in Swiss bank accounts belonging to the influential elder brother of a former president, he knew enough about Mexico's political underworld to be wary of his official hosts. No sooner had he been whisked from the airport by a squad of burly Mexican plainclothesmen, for example, than he began to wonder if he wasn't being kidnapped. "I had seen it in the movies," the official, Valentin Roschacher, said, recalling what turned out to be merely some aggressive police security measures en route to his hotel. "I thought, 'Are these guys the good guys or the bad guys?"' Now, more than two years later, Roschacher and his men have learned enough about organized crime in Mexico to follow a complicated financial trail and information from convicted drug traffickers to the conclusion that Raul Salinas de Gortari earned vast of sums of his money by assuring the safe transport of cocaine through Mexico to the United States. Yet while the Swiss are preparing to use that evidence in a civil court action to confiscate the fortune of Salinas, the elder brother of former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, a much larger and more experienced group of law enforcement officials in the United States has been unable to make a similar case of their own. Some of those officials say they may yet win criminal indictments. Privately, though, others acknowledge that Washington's pursuit of Salinas has been troubled from the start, with turf battles among law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors, disputes over the handling of witnesses and complaints from agents in the field of meddling and a lack of interest by higher-ups. The secrecy with which both governments have proceeded makes it impossible to fully evaluate their evidence before it is presented in court, and Salinas has denied any wrongdoing. Justice Department officials are also quick to note that they have sought to build a criminal case, which entails a higher standard of proof than the Swiss will face. Nonetheless, the unlikely initial success of Roschacher's small detective team has turned an unflattering mirror on Washington's handling of what U.S. officials once described as a watershed effort to combat not just the flow of drugs through Mexico into the United States, but the complex system of official corruption that has long allowed it to flourish. The contrast is even more striking, officials say, because the Swiss appear to have relied almost entirely on witnesses and information that were first uncovered by the United States. "They're like the mouse that roared," one former senior American law enforcement official said of the Swiss authorities. "They were blocked almost every step of the way. But they just kept going and kept going, and they finally made a case." Whether any of the investigations will definitively resolve the question of the Salinas family's alleged collusion with the drug trade remains far from clear. A partial account of the Swiss and U.S. inquiries, assembled from government documents and dozens of interviews, suggests that neither has penetrated into the brothers' inner circle. But some experienced investigators have concluded that Raul Salinas could have been a valued asset for the traffickers even if he could not necessarily pick up the phone and call off police raids. He might have been paid off, they said, just to provide an impression of acquiescence at the highest levels. "Raul Salinas was not somebody who protected a truck with a gun as it went to the border," Roschacher said in an interview at his office in Bern, the Swiss capital. "What we are talking about is a system -- a system in which a person can give orders to someone who gives orders to someone else." Raul Salinas, who remains in a maximum-security prison cell in Mexico on charges of ordering the murder of a prominent politician, has steadfastly proclaimed his innocence. He has insisted that most of the money in his accounts was given to him by major Mexican industrialists for an investment fund that he was to establish. "I have never had any kind of dealings with drug traffickers, nor have I received any benefit or money from any drug trafficker," he told the Swiss attorney general, Carla del Ponte, in a handwritten letter from prison two months ago. "The source of my money, and of all the money that I managed, is legitimate." Carlos Salinas, who left office just before the Mexican economy collapsed at the end of 1994 and left the country soon afterward, has never been charged with any crime. He lives in Ireland and the south of France, one of his old friends said, waiting impatiently for some judgment more generous than the one a bitter Mexican public has handed down. Within months after the Swiss police found Raul Salinas' bank accounts on a tip from American drug agents, his case had entangled some of Mexico's biggest businessmen, as well as banks in Mexico, the United States, Britain and France. Initially, though, Swiss officials saw nothing remarkable in the notion that a foreign leader's relative might have stashed illicit wealth in their banks. "I thought, 'It's just a case like any other case," Roschacher said. Like the hidden fortunes of Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines or Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, the Salinas accounts presented an opportunity for the embattled Swiss to show that dirty money would no longer be safe in their vaults. There was another incentive as well: Whatever part of Salinas' money the government could convincingly tie to drugs, officials said, it would be able to keep under Swiss law. In Bern, the Swiss capital, Roschacher had three hard-working detectives and the support of Mrs. del Ponte, the plain-spoken prosecutor who has earned a wide reputation for pressing to open up Switzerland's banks. He didn't have much else. After years of collaboration with American law-enforcement agencies, Swiss officials assumed they could count on help from the United States. Instead, banking and credit card records took months to arrive. Interviews with convicted drug smugglers and other witnesses from United States court cases were sometimes slow to be granted, sometimes postponed and sometimes refused. By the second half of 1996, with the Swiss under pressure to show progress, tempers began to rise. At one point, officials said, as Mrs. del Ponte was trying to interview one American-supplied informant in the presence of a fastidious federal prosecutor from New York, she exploded in anger and later fired off a letter to her counterpart, Attorney General Janet Reno. "Sometimes we have had difficulties coordinating our procedures," Mrs. del Ponte said euphemistically, emphasizing her gratitude for the American help that eventually arrived. "Of course, when I am over there and the public prosecutor says to me, 'You cannot ask this question,' I am going to get angry." In Washington, law-enforcement officials had far more investigative resources and more knowledge of the mechanics of Mexican corruption. But they also found themselves struggling to move their sometimes-rivalrous agencies and prosecutors in the same direction at the same time. The rumors that circulated about Raul Salinas during his brother's presidency had centered on the notion that he had grown rich from the kickbacks of Mexican businessmen whom he might have helped to win lucrative deals from the state. American drug-enforcement, Customs and FBI agents had also received reports linking him to at least two major Mexican cocaine smugglers. Drug-enforcement officials said the reports were startling, but not enough to merit a special inquiry. That view quickly changed after the discovery of the Swiss accounts, but after some bureaucratic struggle, it was the FBI's office in New York, where Salinas had also banked, that was finally assigned the investigation. Bureau officials said the inquiry was important because its targets were high-profile: Salinas, who had moved tens of millions of dollars through Citibank, and officers in the bank's private-client section, who appeared to have helped him without trying very hard to verify the legitimacy of his funds. Still, people familiar with the probe said it was not a primary focus of the bureau office, which soon consumed by its investigation into TWA Flight 800. "It wasn't a big man-burner," one former senior official said, noting that the inquiry focused more on the trail of financial transactions rather than on the history of Salinas' alleged misdeeds. "It was a paper chase." At offices of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington, Mexico and Texas, agents were turning their attention to Mexico's new cocaine kingpin, Amado Carrillo Fuentes. Again, there was a thin record of informants who said Raul Salinas had met with Carrillo and his associates, received money from the trafficker's operations, or helped assure the movement of his loads. Officials said they knew they would be hard-pressed to turn such intelligence information into witnesses who could stand up in court and convincingly accuse the brother of a former Mexican president. But some complained that the greater challenge was navigating the disparate and sometimes competing investigations going on around the United States. For months after Mrs. del Ponte's confrontation with the New York prosecutor, two officials said, the Swiss authorities' access to American informants all but dried up. They had yet to solidly link Raul Salinas to the drug trade. And the outcry over Switzerland's handling of the bank accounts of Nazi victims was adding to pressure on the government to prove its vows of greater openness. Then, little more than a year into the effort, the investigators' luck began to turn. "We had a chance to talk to witnesses who knew a lot about what had happened in Mexico," Roschacher said. "For the first time, they were people who knew things concretely -- 'I was there; I saw that' -- and not by hearsay." Not long thereafter, though, Swiss investigators also began to see the confidentiality of their witnesses start to erode as information leaked to the news media, particularly in Mexico, raising questions about Salinas' accusers. One such witness, officials said, was Marco E. Torres, a Mexican smuggler who pleaded guilty to drug charges in the United States in 1996 and received a reduced sentence for his cooperation. According to two officials familiar with his statements, Torres said he arranged the protection of cocaine shipments with Raul Salinas and paid him one large bribe himself after a drug seizure in Mexico in 1993. But parts of Torres' account, including his claim to having known the Salinas brothers for years, were refuted by Salinas' lawyers after they were first reported last year. Roschacher said he was not sidetracked by such particulars. "As long as no one can say, 'He is a notorious liar -- we have checked and what he says is wrong,' then for us he is a witness and we take a look at him," he said. "Our case is not built on Marco Torres. His credibility is good. But we have several others who are as good or better." Swiss officials would not name those other witnesses, saying their identities would only be disclosed to judges who will review the matter if, as expected, lawyers for Salinas challenge the confiscation of his accounts. But starting in early 1997, for reasons that remain unclear, the spigot of American assistance opened wider. The Justice Department arranged for Swiss interviews with almost a dozen more witnesses, officials said, including at least three convicted drug smugglers who offered detailed information linking Salinas to specific payoffs. Mexican officials also produced records showing that during the last half of his brother's six-year administration, Raul Salinas had made huge deposits in Mexican banks. In an interview, Mrs. del Ponte said the evidence made it clear that he had been "directly involved in receiving money for protecting the shipment of tons of cocaine through Mexico." Precisely how Salinas might have arranged such protection -- despite never working in law-enforcement and having left the government altogether in 1992 -- was a question law-enforcement officials struggled to answer. Mexican investigators said that they have focused closely on a relationship between Raul Salinas and one of his closest business associates, Justo Ceja, who served as Carlos Salinas' private secretary and is a fugitive from charges that he illegally amassed a large fortune while in government. (Raul Salinas' accountant was arrested in mid-July on similar charges, while Salinas' wife was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for pressuring witnesses to lie in the murder proceedings against her husband.) Investigators said they have also determined that both Salinas and Ceja had dealings with several senior Mexican law-enforcement officials, each of whom has since been accused publicly of taking bribes. But the only one of those former officials to ever be charged with drug offenses, Mario Ruiz Massieu, has shown little promise as a government witness. American officials said that drug-enforcement agents in Mexico City, Houston and El Paso who tried to build their own case against Salinas were able to find several informants by the spring of 1997 who told of drug payoffs that Raul Salinas supposedly received. Two of those witnesses, in particular, gave detailed accounts of having seen Salinas meeting with major drug traffickers. The two most important informants were taken from Mexico to Texas, officials said, where they submitted to lie-detector tests and appeared at first to be telling the truth. But under what agents described as unusual high-level pressure to recheck the men's stories, they were given further tests in which they appeared to be less candid. In May 1997, officials said, the United States Attorney in San Antonio abandoned the case entirely. "We knew there was an enormous political component to the case," one former law-enforcement official who worked on it said. "But the Justice Department, without ever saying so, appeared not to want us to deal with the political targets. They wanted us just to concentrate on the drug traffickers." Similar questions have been raised following the announcement in April by Citibank's parent company, Citicorp, that it will merge with Travelers Group Inc. -- a $70-billion corporate marriage that could conceivably snag if the bank is ensnared in a major money-laundering case. Justice Department officials declined to discuss the Salinas investigation in detail. But they denied that their problems in making a case had anything to do with political or foreign-policy concerns. Still more doubts about Washington's coordination of the Salinas case were raised by two other key witnesses, a Chilean-born computer expert named Guillermo Pallomari and a Colombian cocaine trafficker named Jose Manuel Ramos. Pallomari, a former aide to the main boss of the Cali cocaine cartel, Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela, fled Colombia in August 1995 after threats on his life and was interviewed by American drug-enforcement agents for nearly three months. But officials familiar with the debriefings said he was never asked in detail how the Colombians had protected their shipments through Mexico, and some officials were stunned to learn what Pallomari, now a protected witness, told the Swiss last Nov. 19 at a Federal prison facility in southern Virginia where American officials took him to be debriefed. According to officials familiar with his debriefings and a partial transcript of his statement recently published in the Mexican newspaper El Universal, Pallomari said the Colombians began to strengthen their partnership with Carrillo, the Mexican trafficker, in about 1992, after problems with their operations in the Caribbean. Rodriguez Orejuela also tried to replicate in Mexico the network of political protection he had established in Colombia, Pallomari said. To this end, the informant said, Cali bosses drafted a manual on political corruption and sent a copy to Carrillo. They also funnelled some $80 million in bribe money to Mexico -- about half of which was supposed to have gone to Raul Salinas to assure the compliance of his brother's administration. Pallomari said the money was sent with cocaine loads, deposited with front companies, or paid through a Bolivian intermediary whom the Colombians stationed in Mexico. On one occasion, he said, Raul Salinas intervened at the Colombians' request to get back most of a five-ton cocaine load the police had seized in Acapulco in early 1994 with American help. Pallomari also showed the Swiss how payments to Mexican politicians were reflected in a partial set of 1994 accounting ledgers that were seized from the Cali cartel by an elite Colombian police unit in 1995. Officials said Pallomari's story had some inconsistencies, but they did not question that it might have been vital to the drug-enforcement agents in Texas who were then trying to tie Salinas to Carrillo 's enterprise. In the end, those agents did not learn even the outlines of Pallomari's account until a year and a half after he came under American protection. When law-enforcement officials from around the country caucused in El Paso in January 1997 to assemble the available evidence against Carrillo's organization, officials said, Pallomari's information was about the best they had against Salinas. But Pallomari was unavailable. Federal prosecutors in Miami said they could not loan their witness until they had finished their own case against the Cali gang. Long before they did, the drug-conspiracy case that might have linked Salinas to Carrillo collapsed when the trafficker died after plastic surgery last July. U.S. prosecutors were apparently even less successful in coordinating the information offered by Ramos, a former lieutenant to the Colombian drug cartel based in the city of Medellin. According to two people familiar with Ramos' case, he approached prosecutors in Houston in 1991, the year he was sentenced on drug charges to two life terms in prison. He had met Raul Salinas in the late 1980s, he told them, and had contracted with him to arrange and protect the landing of drug planes in different parts of northern Mexico. One American official said doubts lingered about part of Ramos' account, and his credibility was challenged by a federal prosecutor who did not believe he had been forthright about another Colombian drug operation that had been discovered in Texas. But Ramos also offered unusual documentation to corroborate his claims: encoded payment ledgers, photographs and even a special Mexican passport he had received under the carefully chosen alias "Alejandro Salinas." Still, two people familiar with the case said Ramos was all but ignored until late 1997, when the U.S. Customs Service arranged for him to be interviewed by a federal prosecutor in New York and then by the Swiss authorities. "He knocked on the door several times," one of those people said. "He was rebuffed each and every time." -------------------------------------------------------------------
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