Portland NORML News - Sunday, February 21, 1999

Gang outreach a tempting tightrope (The Oregonian describes the downfall of
Louie Lira Jr., also known as Gerardo Morales Alejo, enlisted by Portland
police as a gangbuster but now in custody awaiting charges of aiding a bank
robbery. Portland police knew he was using an alias, but they apparently were
unaware he was in the country illegally after being deported to Mexico in
1985 following robbery and drug convictions in California. Police said they
don't routinely check U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service records.)

The Oregonian
Contact: letters@news.oregonian.com
1320 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97201
Fax: 503-294-4193
Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/
Forum: http://forums.oregonlive.com/

Gang outreach a tempting tightrope

* The downfall of Louie Lira Jr. spotlights the challenges facing reformed
offenders and the agencies that need their expertise

Sunday February 21, 1999

By Maxine Bernstein
of The Oregonian staff

Nicole Taylor, now 27, was skipping school, flipping gang signs and dodging
bullets from rival Crips when outreach worker Louie Lira Jr. got in her face.

"He was breaking up a fight I was in," Taylor said. "He told me later he
knew a good program for me."

Now Taylor is studying for her high school diploma and selling a guidebook
to help other youths steer clear of gangs.

But while Taylor has gotten her life back on track, her former mentor sits
in federal custody.

Lira is accused of illegally re-entering the country after being deported in
1985, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation suspects he helped his brother
and friends rob a Portland bank in November.

The twist of fates hasn't been lost on Taylor.

For her, Lira's downfall highlights the delicate tightrope reformed gang
members must walk when they take jobs that require them to delve back into
the very lifestyle they had escaped.

For law enforcement and community agencies, Lira's problems have become a
reminder of the need for full background checks and strict supervision. His
story also shows the need for gang-prevention agencies to hire trained
staffers as well as reformed gang members to keep their programs from faltering.

Portland's earliest anti-gang effort, the Youth Gang Outreach Program, grew
from the passion of former gang leaders like Lira, who were ready warriors,
willing to rush into the line of fire to try to convince youths to put down
their guns.

The program was born in 1988 at a time when violence had reached a crisis
point in Portland.

On Aug. 17 of that year, the city became home to the Northwest's first fatal
drive-by shooting. Joseph "Ray Ray" Winston, a leader of the Columbia Villa
Crips, was standing on a playground when rival Bloods gunned him down. Later
that year, the Portland Police Bureau initiated its Gang Enforcement Team to
combat the surge in criminal activity.

By 1991, gang-enforcement officers had become familiar with Lira and
suggested he step in to help defuse the violence.

From the start, Lira and other outreach workers met gang members on their
own turf. They calmed gang members after shootings, comforted them when
their friends were shot or stabbed, and attended their funerals.

Lira's history gave him instant credibility on the streets. With his arms,
back, chest and neck still covered with tattoos from his own gang-banging
days as an 18th Street Crip in South-Central Los Angeles, Lira could relate
to the kids on the street. And they could connect with his troubled life:
getting kicked out of fifth grade, joining a gang at 11, spending 15 years
in a California prison.

Police didn't hold his criminal record against him. In fact, his familiarity
with Latino gangs was viewed as expertise.

Authorities had traced the rapid spread of Latino gangs in the Portland area
to his family; three of his brothers -- Jose, Salvador and Jesse Morales --
were known to have brought the 18th Street gang to Portland from California.

Lira told his employers he had dropped his given name, Gerardo Morales
Alejo, to distance himself from his criminal past and his brothers'
activities. He claimed he was using his mother's maiden name because he was
trying to start his life over, said A. Halim Rahsaan, a former director of
the Youth Gang Outreach Program. "At the time it made sense," he said.

Lira filled a void

Lira seemed sincere when he said that his criminal days were behind him,
police said. Unlike his brothers, Lira held a job, as a foreman at a
Tualatin company, and was raising a family.

"I believed in Louie early on," said Rafael Cancio, a Portland Gang
Enforcement Team officer. "He deserved the opportunity to succeed or fail.
It was up to him."

Lira readily faced the challenge of keeping the trust of gang members while
volunteering with the Portland Police Bureau's Crisis Response Team.

But maintaining that balance would prove difficult.

"It's like taking somebody out of a detrimental environment and then putting
them right back in it," said John Moore, senior research associate for the
National Youth Gang Center. "It takes a strong person for keeping that
arm's-length, objective view of things. Some people make it, and some people

From the start, Lira developed a keen attachment to the outreach program's
police scanner. He was drawn to the action on the streets and was eager to
work at all hours.

But off the job, he maintained ties to his brothers, who were either in
prison or in gangs. And despite his connection with police, some of his old
acquaintances would tell him their criminal plans and even ask if he would
help supply weapons, Lira has told investigators, according to court documents.

His boss became suspicious

Rahsaan said he was ready to fire Lira from his outreach job in the
mid-1990s because he failed to account for his time and did not show up for
classes or one-on-one tutoring arranged to help him improve his writing skills.

"I was moving to terminate him," Rahsaan said. "He was not doing what he was
supposed to."

But Lira jumped to another program in 1995, El Programa Hispana in Gresham,
before returning about a year later to the Youth Gang Outreach Program.

Rahsaan said he was reluctant to take Lira back, but his bosses pressured
him to accept Lira because he had expertise in dealing with both African
American and Latino gangs. Lira was rehired without a full criminal
background check. And despite the fact that the program now required its
outreach workers to have a high school diploma or GED, Lira was allowed to
return with neither.

"We said we'd like to have him back," said Ben Priestley, executive director
of the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, which oversees the Youth Gang
Outreach Program. "He was needed. Louie is a street worker. He's street
smart. I don't think the position needs a Rhodes Scholar."

Suspicions mount

But several incidents made officers begin to question whether Lira actually
had turned himself around.

In 1990, he was accused of assault with a firearm but was not convicted. In
1991, Lira reported to police that someone shot at his home. The police
report read that Lira was "a former 18th Street Crip from Los Angeles and
promised to protect his family any way necessary." In 1993, Lira was cited
for mutilating a traffic ticket for driving while uninsured. A police report
of the incident quoted Lira as saying, "I don't give a (expletive). I'm
going to make a phone call and take care of them," before crumpling the
ticket and throwing it into a gutter in front of an officer.

The '93 police report contained Lira's real name, Gerardo Morales Alejo.
Portland police knew that was his name, but they apparently were unaware he
was in the country illegally after being deported to Mexico in 1985
following robbery and drug convictions in California. Police said they don't
routinely check U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service records.

When Lira began serving as a volunteer on the bureau's Crisis Response Team
in 1995, the bureau apparently failed to do a full background check, which
would have showed Lira had no valid driver's license but numerous motor
vehicle violations.

Gerardo Morales Alejo had fled to Oregon from California in 1989 because he
was subpoenaed to testify in a gang-related case in California. Before
leaving for Oregon, he changed his name by snagging the identity of a
Californian named Louie Lira Jr. As a result, the real Lira has been the
target of the Internal Revenue Service for failing to pay taxes on income
from jobs in Oregon that he never held.

Gang activity drops

As suspicions about Lira's private activities grew among co-workers and some
police officers, evidence of gang activity on Portland's streets decreased.

Compared with a high of 15 gang-related homicides in Portland in 1997, the
following summer was unusually calm, with three gang-related deaths by the
end of 1998.

The statistics helped stoke Lira's reputation with city officials.

Carlos Rivera, chairman of the police Hispanic Advisory Council, said Lira's
efforts helped keep the annual Cinco de Mayo Festival in Portland safe for
the community. Last December, Mayor Vera Katz awarded him the Spirit of
Portland award.

The next month the INS took him into custody. City officials who supported
Lira said they felt betrayed after learning the FBI suspects him of acting
as a lookout by monitoring a Portland police scanner while his brother and
others held up a Portland bank at gunpoint.

Lira has not been indicted in that case. The FBI has linked Lira to the bank
heist by tracing records of phone calls he placed before and after the
robbery to the other suspects and through witness statements, court
documents say. Lira's brother, Marcos A. Morales, is expected to plead
guilty to the robbery next month.

Programs learn lessons

Despite Lira's troubles, leaders of anti-gang programs nationwide said they
cannot dismiss the abilities of ex-cons to connect with troubled youths. But
they emphasize that their programs demand more than that. The most effective
programs have hired trained administrators to keep their programs viable,
and they've added professional social workers to provide a stabilizing force
for youths trying to walk away from gangs.

"The best thing is a combination of both staff with a reasonable level of
education and former gang members," said Irving Spergel, a University of
Chicago professor evaluating five gang-intervention projects across the
nation. "You want to get a former gang member who has some prior legitimate
experience. The police should be involved in the selection. These workers
need to live in both worlds. If they tip too much to one side or the other
-- the cops or the gangs -- they lose their credibility."

Dr. Randy Blazak, a former Skinhead who worked with Lira at Portland's
outreach program, has since become a criminology and sociology professor at
Portland State University.

"The people who can provide the best testimonials are the people who've been
there," he said. "So they're incredibly valuable. But, there's also a risk
to the organization that they may go back to their old way and drag the
organization down with them. It's sort of a battle for that person's soul."

Portland's programs decline

While Portland's gang violence has calmed, its anti-gang programs have
experienced turmoil in past months.

Two programs -- the residential Alfred Yaun Youth Care Center and the
Minority Youth Concerns Action Program, or MYCAP -- folded in 1997. Portland
and Multnomah County officials blamed the closures on financial problems,
inexperienced staff and poor management.

Those programs that haven't closed their doors are struggling.

With the loss of Lira, the Youth Gang Outreach Program, which started with
six outreach workers in 1988, is down to one full-time worker and a
part-time worker. It is searching for financing through grants and private
donations to stay afloat.

The House of Umoja, a residential home for gang-involved youth that opened
in 1991, has overhauled its staff. Its longtime executive director has left,
and the county has directed the program to improve its services.

New staff members, who hold master's degrees in social work, have been hired.

"We need people with a higher level of training and certification," said Pam
Kelly of Volunteers of America, an agency the county contracted to improve
services at the House of Umoja.

"Especially today, when we're working with younger kids who have a more
violent past and less family support," she said. "The model that worked four
or five years ago was not going to cut it today."

You can reach Maxine Bernstein at 503-221-8212 or by e-mail at

'She was my girl; she was my best friend' (The Oregonian eulogizes Ashley
Carlson, a 7-year-old girl who was lured from a park in Astoria and killed.
Her mother couldn't watch her because she was in jail being punished for a
"drug" violation.)

The Oregonian
Contact: letters@news.oregonian.com
1320 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97201
Fax: 503-294-4193
Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/
Forum: http://forums.oregonlive.com/

'She was my girl; she was my best friend'

* As she prepares to bury her daughter, Ashley Carlson's mother recalls a
special relationship with the girl, whose life included love as much as trouble

Sunday February 21, 1999

By Holly Sanders
and Kate Taylor
of The Oregonian staff

ASTORIA -- One of the last times Tessa Marie Carlson spoke to her 7-year-old
daughter, she explained the fact that she had to go back to jail as a
lesson. When you do something wrong, she told Ashley Ann Carlson as the two
sat together in the little girl's room, there are consequences.

It was the last opportunity she would get to teach Ashley, who was strangled
and whose body was discovered in the house of a 16-year-old neighbor last
week. Patrick Lee Harned is charged with aggravated murder.

But the care that Tessa Carlson took to make sense of trouble for her
daughter was typical in the life of Ashley.

Ashley will be buried young today in Astoria, but those who knew her said
the love and the troubles in her life caused her to be stronger and wiser
than most children her age. She knew that the adults in her life had
problems but understood how deeply she was loved.

"She always knew I was going to give her a good life," Tessa Carlson said.
"She was my girl. She was my best friend."

Mother and daughter had special rituals that many don't share.

Ashley kept a little mailbox on top of the television in her room, where the
two left love notes for each other. When the flag was up, one of them had mail.

Tessa Carlson left her last note for Ashley the day of the girl's death. In
glittery writing, surrounded by a red glittery heart, she wrote, "I love
you, Ashley -- Mom."

At Gray Elementary, where Ashley studied in a blended first- and
second-grade class, is a picture that Ashley made: a paper cutout of herself
and her shadow, decorated with stars around the border.

She was more alone than many children, because her parents weren't always
around. She often found new friends in the unnamed park where she was seen
playing the day she died.

Tessa Carlson loved her daughter and her 5-year-old son, Danny, but
struggled with drug problems, a few times spending a month at a time in jail
or in drug rehabilitation centers, according to family members.

Tessa Carlson admits that she gave her little girl cause to worry.

"I'm angry at myself. . . . I'm angry because of my life," Tessa Carlson
said. "I've had my time out there. I went to parties and was wild."

On the afternoon Ashley died, her mother had turned herself in to police
because she had missed several appointments with her parole officer. She
expected to serve about five days in jail for her trespasses, she told Ashley.

At home, Ashley often saw problems that a 7-year-old should not have seen,
said an aunt who often cared for Ashley, Yvonne Hall, 32, of Warrenton.

"She had a rough life," said Hall, who often counseled her sister to find
more stability for her children's sake. "She had to grow up too fast."

Tessa Carlson clearly made efforts to win the struggle with drugs through
her time in rehabilitation, and she always tried to put her children's needs
first. In 1995, she was in an in-patient program in Portland. She wanted to
provide for her children and enrolled in the JOBS welfare-to-work program,
both in Seaside and in Astoria, according to family.

Tessa Carlson was not employed at the time of Ashley's death, but she said
she had tried to get a job at a local hotel and a diner. "This town hasn't
given me a chance," she said.

Ashley's parents spent much of the money they had on gifts for their
children. They filled the little girl's room. She had piles of Beanie
Babies, which she laid out carefully on her bed. She had a Barbie Jeep, her
own television and videos.

She had good relationships with two stepfathers in her life, Dan Brugh, who
used to live with Tessa Carlson, and Eugene Kelly, who now shares her home.
Ashley's biological father was not a part of her life, according to family.

The second stepfather in Ashley's life, Eugene Kelly, says he tried to give
her stability through rules and guidance.

"She would always call and make sure I knew where she was," he said. "She
knew she couldn't go outside until she did her homework."

Although Ashley often didn't know who would be her caretaker that day, she
had a broad group of extended family that loved her.

Ashley's uncle and aunt, Yvonne and Ron Hall, invited her out to their home
in the country on weekends and in the summer.

"She was my fishing buddy," said Ron Hall.

One of Ashley's many calls to her uncle came the night before she died. She
wanted to know when he would next take her fishing. She even had her own
little red fishing pole that she kept up in the Halls' porch rafters.

She often slept over at her grandparents' houses.

At Shirley and George Brugh's house, "they would wake up early to eat oats
for breakfast, just like their Grandpa," Shirley Brugh said.

There were infrequent but joyful family gatherings, said Kathleen Kelly,
another grandmother.

Ashley, her brother, her mother and Eugene Kelly spent this past Christmas
with his parents.

"The whole evening was filled with joy," Kathleen Kelly said. She gave her
granddaughter her first ring -- a silver one -- but it was too small for her
ring finger, too big for her pinkie. Eugene Kelly said he would save it for
her to wear on her pinkie when she got older.

On Ashley's last birthday, the family threw a party at the roller skating rink.

There was a beautiful ice cream cake. Ashley opened lots of presents -- was
thrilled to get a new white tennis shoes and new Rollerblades.

"She went out on the floor and never fell," Kathleen Kelly said. "That was
the last time I saw her."

But family members admitted that Ashley sometimes suffered.

When the family moved briefly to Seaside, a child care provider became so
concerned about the children that she called the State Office for Services
to Children and Families three times in 1996.

The children came to her confused and unkempt, said the day-care provider,
Virginia Murdy.

Once, Tessa Carlson vanished for a month, and the children were dropped off
and picked up by a boyfriend, Murdy said.

"It's terrible when children ask you where their mother is and you don't
know what to say," Murdy said. "Ashley was tougher by then, but little Danny
would cry."

The child-protection agency would not comment on the case, other than to say
that there was sporadic contact with the family over the years. The case was
open at the time of Ashley's death, said Dee Bristol, manager of the Clatsop
County branch.

Ashley's bumpy life made her resilient.

She became flexible, able to play as easily with children who liked dolls as
those who liked catching snake. She grew compassionate toward other children
who looked lonely, learning to be the first to introduce herself and ask if
the other wanted to play.

At a memorial service at Gray Elementary on Friday, Ashley's teacher, Sue
Meiners, stood before a gymnasium of students, parents and school faculty
and said, "Many parents' students pass through my classroom. I'll care for
them all dearly. But truly, there will never be another Ashley Carlson."

Marilyn Lane, the school's principal, said her student council will soon ask
the Astoria City Council to name the unnamed park where Ashley played after
the girl.

At her school, drawings of Ashley by her classmates cover the walls and a
special display board. They all show her wearing what she wore as a costume
last Halloween : a halo, a pair of wings and small wire-rimmed glasses.

"I think that's very appropriate." said Andrea Larson Perez, a parent who
volunteers at the school.

Many remember her as an outgoing girl who befriended new children who looked

Many say she's in heaven.

You can reach Holly Sanders at 503-294-4065 or by e-mail at

You can reach Kate Taylor at 503-294-7692 or by e-mail at

California Pot Law Author Charged Along With Spouse (The Washington Times,
in the District of Columbia, recounts the cultivation bust of Steve Kubby,
the California medical marijuana patient/activist and 1998 Libertarian
candidate for governor.)

Date: Sun, 21 Feb 1999 14:20:14 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US CA: California Pot Law Author Charged Along With Spouse
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: General Pulaski
Pubdate: 21 Feb 1999
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 1999 News World Communications, Inc.
Contact: letter@twtmail.com
Website: http://www.washtimes.com/


Police say they grew too many plants

OLYMPIC VILLAGE, Calif. - More than two years after California voters
passed Proposition 215 thinking they were legalizing medical use of
marijuana, there's the possibility a criminal case may set standards for
how much patients can use or grow.

The case centers on Steve Kubby, the 1998 Libertarian Party candidate for
California governor, who spent two years helping write and push for passage
of Proposition 215, which has since been copied by five other states.

Now Mr. Kubby faces possible sentences of more than 20 years in prison for
- he says - following the terms of that law, adopted on a 56 percent yes vote.

Prosecutors will outline some of their case in a preliminary hearing
tomorrow in Tahoe City, east of Sacramento, against Mr. Kubby, 52, and his
32- year-old wife, Michelle, for growing marijuana in their High Sierra
home near Lake Tahoe. Agents of the joint federal-state-local North Tahoe
Task Force raided the house Jan. 19, confiscating 265 pot plants along with
books, computers, papers and the wallets of both Kubbys.

The agents had been watching the Kubby home since receiving an anonymous
tip in a letter mailed from 300 miles away in Southern California.

"This may be the perfect case to test Proposition 215," says Mr. Kubby, who
has smoked marijuana for 21 years and offers letters from two prestigious
physicians claiming the weed may be all that has saved him from a rare form
of adrenal cancer he has had since the late 1970s. He also contends he has
never sold or given any pot to anyone. Either act would be a felony.

"In some amazing fashion, this medication has not only controlled the
symptoms of the {disease}, but in my view, has arrested growth," wrote Dr.
Vincent DeQuattro, professor of medicine and chief of the hypertension
diagnostic laboratory at the University of Southern California Medical
School. He added that he knows of no other patient diagnosed with the same
disease at the same time who still survives.

"You may be amazed to learn that one of my other patients with {the same
type of cancer} has achieved similar spectacular benefits from cannabis
cookies. We definitely have to write up this experience for the medical

Dr. Tom O'Connell, a San Francisco thoracic surgeon, said in a letter to
District Attorney Bradford Fenocchio: "It is very probable that regular use
of cannabis has protected Mr. Kubby . . . for years."

So far, there have been no scientific studies against which to measure
those claims.

But prosecutors say they will persist with the charges against the Kubbys
because of the number of plants they were growing. "Our contention is that
he was simply growing more than necessary," said Deputy District Attorney
Christopher Cattran.

Defense attorney Dale Wood responded: "On that basis, the case is weak for
them. There is no precedent where anyone has ruled on how much marijuana is
acceptable. And medically, we can produce testimony showing the amount is
highly variable, depending on the individual and on what strain of plant
you're talking about."

Mr. Kubby maintains that everything he grew was for use by him and Mrs.
Kubby, who says she uses it to combat irritable bowel syndrome. Mr. Cattran
cites no evidence of sales or providing pot to anyone else other than a
single incident agents observed through a kitchen window.

"They saw a third person clipping buds from a plant through a window," Mr.
Cattran reports. "We do not know whether that individual, who we have
identified as Peter Brady, carried any marijuana when he left."

Mr. Brady, a reporter for the marijuana-oriented magazine "High Times,"
says he was clipping unsightly leaves from the plant during the episode to
make it more attractive for a photograph he snapped. He said he took no
marijuana with him.

Mr. Fenocchio believes the prosecution case is strong, based simply on the
number of plants. "Patients can't grow more than they need," he said.

The Kubbys, however, maintain they were growing only what they needed, even
though their plants took up four full rooms. "No sale has ever occurred
involving either of us," said Mr. Kubby, who published an Internet
newsletter until agents confiscated his equipment. "We were within the
guideline of 144 plants per person set by the Oakland City Council in the
only law of its kind last year. Yes, it would have produced more than our
immediate daily needs. But that was because we didn't want to have to grow
year-round. We planned to freeze some of it and set it aside so we could
travel and promote our business and not be full-time growers."

The Suit Behind The Men's Wearhouse (The San Francisco Examiner does a
feature article on George Zimmer, the Oakland founder of the Men's Wearhouse,
a clothing chain with 420 stores - yes that's 420 - in 40 states. A
self-described child of the '60s, Zimmer donated more than $250,000 to
California's successful Proposition 215 campaign in 1996.)

Date: Sun, 21 Feb 1999 18:48:33 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US CA: The Suit Behind The Men's Wearhouse
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: compassion23@geocities.com (Frank S. World)
Pubdate: Sun, 21 Feb 1999
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Copyright: 1999 San Francisco Examiner
Contact: letters@examiner.com
Website: http://www.examiner.com/
Forum: http://examiner.com/cgi-bin/WebX
Author: Michael Dougan of The Examiner Staff


Once George Zimmer battled the Establishment. Now he dresses the

Zimmer, 50, was a prototypical child of the '60s, sallying forth in
bell-bottom jeans to agitate against the forces that emblazoned names -
Birmingham, My Lai, Kent State, Watergate - onto America's guilt map.

Today he owns a suit - thousands of suits, millions of suits - and the only
memento of his days as a student radical is a framed front page from the
Houston Post, displayed like a trophy on the wall of his corporate office.
The banner headline reads: "Nixon Resigns."

This is the office from which he expects to sell a billion - with a b -
dollars worth of suits in 1999. Zimmer, founder of the 420-store Men's
Wearhouse, practically guarantees it.

Unlike most megamillionaires, Zimmer has ignored the axiom that we become
more conservative in direct proportion to the amount we have to conserve.
Zimmer clings to the largely New Age and left-wing philosophies of his youth
and - to the occasional dismay of his business partners - proclaims them
loudly and in public at every opportunity.

How radical is he? Get this:

Zimmer, who owns more than $70 million in Men's Wearhouse stock, thinks the
55 percent federal inheritance tax is just great. Find another man that
well-heeled who would concur. Just try.

Zimmer - whose face is as famous as the Maytag Repairman's because he stars
in his own commercials, notable for the tag line, "I guarantee it!" - has
put a new spin on the weary admonition to "think globally, act locally."

When Zimmer thinks globally, money rolls in.

This month his firm purchased Moore's, a large Canadian clothing chain. He's
negotiating for retail outlets in Europe. From stores in 40 states, he hopes
to sell 3 million suits and sport coats in 1999, accounting for 10 percent
of those purchased throughout the country.

The global Zimmer is building a haberdashery empire.

Locally, Zimmer follows his populist heart.

A proud Oakland resident, Zimmer has poured money and energy into that
city's troubled zoo, helping transform it into a point of local pride.

In 1996, he provided more than $250,000 in funding to the successful
Proposition 215 campaign, which legalized the medical use of marijuana in

And he has joined baseball executive Andy Dolich and Hall of Famer Joe
Morgan in an attempt to buy the Oakland A's. Though Zimmer says the price
remains unrealistically high, and the deal isn't likely, he insists his
motive is merely to see his favorite baseball team stay in town.

"I never looked at it as an opportunity to make money," he said during an
interview for an Examiner / KTVU Channel 2 report.

Houston to Oakland

Zimmer moved to the East Bay from Houston 15 years ago, drawn by affordable
real estate. Now his Men's Wearhouse headquarters fills a sprawling,
one-story building in a Fremont business park.

He lives in a modest but charming 2,200-square-foot home in "a very
middle-class neighborhood" in Oakland. The driveway holds his faded gray
1991 Volvo station wagon.

"I love it here," said Zimmer, as he and his family - wife, Lorri, and
children Matt, 15, and Sarah, 14, both from his first marriage - sat before
a roaring fire in the den.

"I actually in my radical way enjoy it when people come to the house for the
first time because the reality of my house and what you expect it to be are
divergent," he said.

He agrees with Mayor Jerry Brown - whom he admires - that Oakland "really is
a city of the future."

What Zimmer likes about Oakland - its ethnic diversity - is reflected in his
hiring practices. He said more than half his Men's Wearhouse employees
nationwide are members of minority groups.

All work in what Zimmer calls "a prototypical New Age business, even though
it's an old-fashioned business."

Trade-journal writers routinely express amazement at how Zimmer pays his
employees 15 percent more than competing chains, spends four times as much
to train them (each new hire is flown to San Francisco for a week of classes
at Zimmer's "Suit University" ) and lectures them on such concepts as
synchronicity and integration of mind, body and spirit in pursuit of sales.

"It's really nothing that a 12-year-old couldn't understand," he said. "It's
just about being a human being."

For 13 years, Zimmer's face - already familiar to employees, whom he visits
at Christmas parties around the country each year - has been beamed into
America's living room. He had decided to become his own pitchman.

"I didn't think there was any hired actor who could project the credibility
and passion I have for this business, because this really is the business of
my heart," he said.

During one taping, Zimmer tossed out an ad lib at the end. He meant to steal
the line spoken with gusto by actor Bill Murray in the "Stripes" movie:
"That's a fact, Jack!"

But it came out wrong. To his own surprise, Zimmer proclaimed: "I guarantee
it!" He's said it in every commercial since.

Zimmer's fervent interest in progressive politics is matched, however
paradoxically, by his obsession with suits. His own, in particular. Zimmer
claims half-jokingly that his first marriage ended in divorce because he
refused to wear any suit that didn't come off the Men's Wearhouse rack.

Zimmer can, in one breath, say "I look forward to seeing cannabis cafes in
downtown Oakland" and, in the next, declare that "a tie is part of the way
that a man presents his power."

Women and men, said Zimmer, "have a very different way of thinking about
clothing. . . . Women will tell you that, if it wouldn't be too much
trouble, they would like their men to put a little more thought into how
they dress. Men just put on what they can reach and usually it's what they
wore yesterday."

In this age of corporate-casual attire, said Zimmer, "the suit is probably
today underused. A lot of men are trying to figure out what business-casual
actually means."

But, he hastens to add, "I don't want to try to suggest that I think life is
about image rather than substance."

The substance of Zimmer's life is found in his Oakland home. It's here that
Zimmer engages in his favorite off-duty pastime: talking politics.

Zimmer said his interest in medical marijuana stems from the time his mother
underwent chemotherapy for cancer. "I suggested that she smoke marijuana (to
alleviate the side affects), and she looked at me like I suggested that she
blow up a building," he recalled. "She said, "Absolutely not,' and I said,
"OK.' "

"Rehab clinics the solution'

Zimmer also is incensed by the federal government's so-called war on drugs,
with its emphasis on imprisonment and interdiction.

"Everybody knows that the rehabilitation clinics are where the solution is
going to lie, and not in all these police and military operations," he said.

Zimmer has firsthand knowledge of rehabilitation clinics. Seventeen years
ago, he checked himself into a Sebastopol facility called Azure Acres for
treatment of alcoholism. Now any Men's Wearhouse employee in America who
suffers a substance-abuse problem can go to Azure Acres at company expense.

He opposes capital punishment, supports welfare reform and says this about
the Republicans who have led the presidential impeachment campaign: "I hope
America remembers."

Now, about that inheritance tax, the ultimate Big Government bugaboo of many
a multimillionaire:

"I'm going to pay gadzillions of dollars in that someday," he said with a
chuckle. "But my feeling about it is that it's appropriate, it's correct."

He spoke of immigrants who come to America not to get rich, but to offer
their children an opportunity that they never had.

"That's the great American tradition that distinguishes us from what
preceded us in the world," said Zimmer. "That's why you need an inheritance
tax. It's part of the tradition of giving every generation a fair shot and
not creating this aristocracy that Europe is living with."

Besides, said the world's richest suit salesman, money's not what life's

"There are a lot of wonderful things you can have that create a balanced
life and a more peaceful life and a more loving life. It doesn't directly
relate to money and materialism and career and things of that ilk," he said.
"Hey, that's not like a big secret."

Pioneer Drug Pilot Blazed Illicit Trail (An obituary in the Albuquerque
Journal eulogizes Martin Willard Houltin of Columbus, New Mexico, a World War
II veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corps in the Aleutian Islands. Houltin was an
innovator among drug smugglers, using small aircraft to ferry tons of Mexican
marijuana across the border into the United States. He was the first U.S.
pilot to have an aerial confrontation with federal officials while drug
smuggling, in 1967, in an incident from which he walked away free. He
achieved minor celebrity status in 1978 when High Times magazine published an
interview calling him the "Flying Ace of the Dope Air Force." Houltin never
carried a gun, never smoked marijuana himself, and never imported hard drugs.
He began his career as a smuggler going the other direction - flying
merchandise subject to high import duty fees, including heavy machinery,
candy bars and liquor, into Mexico. He did it largely for the challenge.)

Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 10:50:27 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US NM: Pioneer Drug Pilot Blazed Illicit Trail
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: General Pulaski
Pubdate: 21 Feb 1999
Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Copyright: 1999 Albuquerque Journal
Contact: ajoopinion@aol.com
Website: http://www.abqjournal.com/


COLUMBUS -- Former pilot Martin Willard Houltin had a rare talent that, for
most of his life, he did his best to hide.

Houltin, a World War II veteran who died Jan. 21 at his modest Columbus
brick home at the age of 79, was said to have been an innovator among drug
smugglers, using small aircraft to ferry tons of Mexican marijuana across
the border into the United States.

Law enforcement agents also said Houltin was the first U.S. pilot to have
an aerial confrontation with federal officials for drug smuggling.

In that 1967 encounter, chronicled years later in The New York Times
Magazine, Houltin managed to avoid arrest despite a Customs agent following
him from Mexico in another plane.

Houltin landed at a small Las Vegas, Nev., airport, whipped his plane
around at the end of the runway and began his takeoff headed straight at
the Customs plane, which had landed behind him. Houltin flew over his
pinned-down pursuer and bought himself enough time to dump his marijuana
load for fellow smugglers on the ground to retrieve.

He walked away free.

"It was the first time we ever heard of an airplane being used for this
purpose (dope smuggling)," former U.S. Customs Agent Harold Diaz said in
the magazine article. "Others came later and copied him, but Marty was the
guy who started it all."

His son, Brian, a park ranger at Pancho Villa State Park, said he tried to
write an obituary without praise or shame for his father's illegal work,
just recognition of his father's bravery and adventurous spirit.

"He was the best," read the obituary published in a Las Cruces newspaper in
late January after a private burial, "and for years to come the feds did
their best to capture him."

Patrick Mooney, a group supervisor with Customs' Aviation Branch in
Albuquerque, said he took offense at the obituary's laudatory tone.

"It would be doing everybody a disservice to heap too much praise on him,"
Mooney said. "I might characterize (Houltin's actions) as foolish."

Subculture hero

Houltin, however, achieved minor celebrity status in the drug subculture
when High Times, a magazine aimed at marijuana users, published a 1978
interview of the pilot that called him the "Flying Ace of the Dope Air Force."

In the interview, Houltin gushed about the excitement of smuggling: "You
can do it for 150 years, and it would still be as thrilling as it was the
first time. The actual flying is fantastic. You're never completely
relaxed. Things keep running through your mind: 'Am I going to blow a tire
on takeoff? Am I going to crash? Where do I land this son of a bitch if the
engine quits? What would I do with the load?'

"You might have all sorts of experience, you might know how to land and
take off at night with your lights off, you might be able to land over
power lines, fly on the deck, the whole bit. No sweat, you're completely
relaxed. But now put a load of grass in your plane and it's a whole
different story."

Houltin's skill as a pilot gained him and his associates plenty of
smuggling work.

The pilot learned to tell from the air whether a dry lake bed's surface was
firm enough to land on by the texture of dried mud. He mastered landing on
short, windswept mountain strips that ran into the slopes of the Sierra
Madres in Mexico's Chihuahua state. And Houltin practiced landing at night
without ground lights or headlights until seconds before hitting the
ground, said his son, also a pilot.

"They were pioneers in their field," said criminal defense attorney Carlos
Ogden, the former mayor of Columbus. "They used to say Marty was a pilot's
pilot. He was as good as you could get in small planes."

Flying career

Martin Houltin grew up in Minnesota and was a bomber pilot for the
then-U.S. Army Air Corps in the Aleutian Islands during World War II. After
the war, he piloted for Northwest Airlines for nine years, moved to
California to open a couple of gas stations, then moved to Alaska to fly as
a bush pilot for Standard Oil for two years.

He then moved to Las Vegas, Nev., where he began working for several
casinos and flying high rollers and swingers to Mexican resorts, said Mary
Houltin, the late pilot's fourth wife.

By that time, Houltin also was illegally flying merchandise subject to high
import duty fees, including heavy machinery, candy bars and liquor, into

During one of those trips in the early '60s, Houltin was asked to fly a
load of marijuana back across the border.

"They said, 'Why don't you fly something out? You've got to fly home
anyway,' '' Mary Houltin said. "The money was good, so he did it."

In 1968, Martin and Mary Houltin moved to Columbus, an isolated border
town, and the pilot leased what he called the Columbus Municipal Airport,
now a weed-choked field.

It became home to a group of smugglers newspapers dubbed the Columbus Air

At its height, federal officials said the Columbus Air Force -- Houltin and
two key pilots -- were smuggling loads of drugs from Mexico to the U.S.
every week.

Brian Houltin said a conservative estimate would show his father smuggled
perhaps 10 tons of marijuana across the border during the growing season of
any given year.

Martin Houltin plowed his profits back into airplanes, the lease on the
airport and paying his other pilots and ground crews. He also opened a
restaurant called the Peek-On-Inn on a desolate stretch of N.M. Highway 11
between Columbus and Deming in 1971.

The Peek-On-Inn burned down a few years ago, reportedly torched by drug
dealers unwilling for Houltin's prize to fall into the government's hands
in a drug-asset forfeiture case.

Caught in the act

Houltin was arrested along with two fellow Columbus Air Force pilots in
October 1973 after they landed their single-engine Cessnas on a state road
west of Magdalena and deposited 2,265 pounds of marijuana for pickup.

The 1973 arrest -- Houlton's first for smuggling -- was the result of an
elaborate $2 million investigation called Operation Skynight that involved
four planes flying surveillance, wiretaps and dozens of agents of the U.S.
Customs Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration and New Mexico State

Because of legal problems with the wiretap order, Houltin and his two
fellow pilots pleaded no contest to fourth-degree felony charges of
possession of more than eight ounces of marijuana and were sentenced to 18
months' probation in February 1974.

Later that year, however, Houltin and his two pilots were indicted on
federal charges of conspiracy to import marijuana stemming from the same
case. Houltin was eventually sentenced in an El Paso federal court in late
1975 to two five-year sentences running concurrently.

In October 1980, Houltin was arrested again by DEA agents while he unloaded
200 pounds of marijuana from a plane in Las Vegas, Nev. Houltin spent 16
months at the federal prison in La Tuna, Texas, until his release in July

Houltin didn't simply shop his services to marijuana growers and dealers
for the lucrative payments, his son said. The smuggler did it largely for
the challenge.

And Martin Houltin also had his own criminal ethic, his son said. For
instance, Houltin never carried a gun on his trips.

"He knew it (smuggling) was illegal, and he figured if he got busted, he
got busted. He wasn't going to shoot his way out of something," Brian
Houltin said.

Martin Houltin never smoked marijuana, preferring martinis and brandy
Alexanders instead, Mary Houltin said.

He also did not smuggle more expensive drugs such as cocaine or heroin, his
family said.

"With cocaine -- there was so much money and it was just a rougher crowd,"
said Brian Houltin. "He wanted no part of that."

Pre-Drug War

In the '70s, with porous radar detection systems and few planes available
to law enforcement, the Mexican border was "wide open" to drug smugglers,
said Customs Service agent Mooney.

Since then, cross-border aerial smuggling has become much less common. In
1988 and 1989, the Customs Service deployed six unmanned aerostat blimps
along the border from the Gulf of Mexico to California to plug gaps between
fixed radar installations and to detect low-flying aircraft.

As a result, most drug smugglers now concentrate on transporting drugs
across the border in small loads through vehicles and people slipping
through crowded ports of entry. Some smugglers send drugs across unguarded
sections of the border in vehicles, on horseback or strapped to backpackers.

"What's cheaper and easier to coordinate -- vehicle traffic that you send
through and pay some guy a couple of hundred bucks, or hiring a pilot and a
plane?" explained El Paso-based DEA special agent David Monnette.

Planes ferrying drugs continue to fly, Mooney said, but now they usually
land short of the border.

In March 1993, federal authorities in Denver again nailed Houltin. Then 73,
Houltin was one of seven people charged with racketeering and accused of
being part of a drug ring that smuggled about five tons of marijuana
between 1986 and 1989.

However, charges were dismissed in November 1993 at the request of the
government. Two psychiatrists determined that, because of Alzheimer's
disease, Houltin was incompetent to assist his defense.

Brian Houltin said he is not ashamed of his father's career.

"He never carried a gun, he wasn't violent, he never cheated anyone," the
younger Houltin said. "He flew pot.

"I mean, hell, the Kennedys smuggled alcohol (during Prohibition) and
they're still in politics."

Painkillers Deterring Suicides (The Chicago Tribune says a survey of
American Society of Clinical Oncology members showed support for
doctor-assisted suicide and euthanasia among cancer specialists declined by
more than 50 percent during the last three years. Some believe the reason is
that doctors are being more careful about prescribing adequate amounts of
narcotics - despite the study of Oregon's physician-assisted suicide law,
published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, which found the law
was not being used by people afraid of extreme pain.)

Date: Sun, 21 Feb 1999 16:42:20 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: US: Painkillers Deterring Suicides
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: Steve Young
Pubdate: 21 Feb. 1999
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 1999 Chicago Tribune Company
Contact: tribletter@aol.com
Website: http://www.chicagotribune.com/
Forum: http://www.chicagotribune.com/interact/boards/
Author: Vincent J. Schodolski


LOS ANGELES -- After years of national debate on the issue of
doctor-assisted suicide, fewer and fewer physicians are cooperating with
terminally ill patients who request help in ending their lives.

Surveys show that this is due in part to greater concern among some doctors
because of the public focus on the issue, but also because of a greater
emphasis on controlling pain in terminally ill people.

A growing number of doctors say that improved pain control techniques can
make the end of life relatively comfortable for dying people and thus
dissuade them from trying to take their own lives.

A study released last week on the first year of Oregon's new law allowing
physician-assisted suicide showed that few terminally ill people, just 15,
opted to end their lives with drugs provided by their doctors.

This pleased supporters of the year-old Death With Dignity Act, who said
the events of the first year under the new law showed that giving people
the ability to end their lives in strictly controlled conditions had not
led to a rash of suicides.

According to a membership survey by the American Society of Clinical
Oncology, support for doctor-assisted suicide and euthanasia among cancer
specialists declined by more than 50 percent during the last three years.

Only 22 percent of those questioned said they favored helping terminally
ill patients in constant pain end their lives, compared with 45 percent in
a similar survey in 1995. A similar survey published in the New England
Journal of Medicine in 1998 showed that while 18 percent of physicians
surveyed said they had been asked by patients to help them end their lives,
only 6 percent had acceded to those requests.

The oncologist survey also pointed to a problem many experts believe is
central to the care of people suffering from severe and persistent pain,
namely the problems related to the education of doctors in palliative care
and fears among physicians that prescribing large doses of morphine and
other opiates over long periods of time could place them in legal jeopardy.

A group at the University of Wisconsin Medical School is working to raise
awareness among physicians about dealing with pain in both the dying and
people who suffer chronic pain, often from maladies that are not clearly
diagnosed. Along with medical officials, the group is working to clarify
the rules that govern the prescription of strong pain-killing drugs.

The Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States recently issued
more flexible guidelines giving doctors greater leeway in using large doses
of morphine and related drugs over long periods of time.

"Pain should be assessed and treated properly and the quantity and
frequency of doses should be adjusted according to the intensity and the
duration of the pain," the new guidelines said, adding that it should be
clear that the sustained use of opiates can lead to physical dependence.

The guidelines, which are meant to be used as models for individual state
medical boards, also say, "Physicians should not fear disciplinary action
from the board or other state regulatory or enforcement agency for
prescribing, dispensing, or administering controlled substances, including
opioid analgesics, for a legitimate purpose and in the usual course of
professional practice."

"This is really groundbreaking," said Aaron Gilson, a researcher with the
Pain and Policy Studies Group at the University of Wisconsin. "What we
believe is that if more effective pain relief is provided, fewer patients
will opt to end their suffering by taking their lives."

Victor Kovner, a Los Angeles physician who has been involved with hospice
care for the last 15 years, echoed that statement. "Patients who have their
pain and other symptoms controlled are less likely to request suicide than
those who have unrelieved pain," said Kovner.

Gilson said the studies under way were looking beyond the use of drugs to
control pain among those in the final stages of cancer and other diseases.
"It is starting to extend beyond the terminally ill to people who suffer
chronic pain. Chronic pain has been inadequately treated," Gilson said.

The Wisconsin group is also sponsoring an Internet discussion of issues
surrounding the use of opioid drugs, primarily morphine, to control pain.

According to doctors who participated in the discussion, large doses of
morphine rarely hasten the death of individuals who have been taking
progressively increased doses of the drug.

"It is very hard to overdose people in morphine if they have been on it for
a while," said Joanne Mortimer, an associate professor of medicine and
medical oncology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Morphine kills by depressing the respiratory system to the point where an
individual dies of asphyxiation. But when the drug is used to kill pain and
is administered in progressively larger doses, morphine effectively kills
pain without affecting breathing.

The discussion prompted by the University of Wisconsin group showed that
doctors were well aware that the appropriate use of painkillers, even
powerful medications like morphine, usually did not hasten death.

But morphine, even when administered progressively, is occasionally fatal.
Nonetheless, medical experts and ethicists say the drug should be available
freely to doctors as a tool to treat pain.

If death came as a foreseeable, but unintended consequence of administering
the drug, there should be no legal or ethical problem for the physician
involved. This is the so-called ethical "principle of double effect."

"If pain control hastens death, it is an unintended side effect and is not
an ethical problem," said Timothy Murphy, a professor of medical ethics at
the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Sinaloa Pays In Blood For Drug War (The Los Angeles Times says the
assassination of Aguirre Meza, the esteemed police chief of Navolato, Mexico,
and a founding member of the Sinaloan Commission for the Defense of Human
Rights, is only the latest outrage in a state grown numb to social
disintegration. For the last five years, Sinaloa has been besieged by warfare
and executions among competing drug gangs, who increasingly target prominent
citizens like Aguirre Meza. Sinaloa is home to the Mazatlan tourist resort.
It is also the birthplace of Mexican drug smuggling. Virtually every major
Mexican drug lord is from Sinaloa. Today, more than 200 well-armed gangs are
based in Sinaloa, according to police officials. Those allegedly murdered by
drug traffickers in recent years include 47 lawyers, 40 state police officers
and 12 university professors. Prominent farmers, ranchers, merchants,
professionals and social activists have been kidnapped or killed.)

Date: Sun, 21 Feb 1999 16:05:14 -0800
From: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org (MAPNews)
To: mapnews@mapinc.org
Subject: MN: Mexico: Sinaloa Pays In Blood For Drug War
Sender: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Reply-To: owner-mapnews@mapinc.org
Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/
Newshawk: Jim Rosenfield
Pubdate: Sun, 21 Feb 1999
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 1999 Los Angeles Times
Contact: letters@latimes.com
Fax: (213) 237-4712
Website: http://www.latimes.com/
Forum: http://www.latimes.com/HOME/DISCUSS/
Author: Sam Quinones
Note: Sam Quinones, a Freelance Journalist, Was an Alicia Patterson Fellow
for 1998


NAVOLATO, MEXICO - Jorge Aguirre Meza was a determinedly public man.

His fate highlights the price Mexico, in general, and Sinaloa, in
particular, is paying to fight the drug war and win Congress' approval that
it is holding up its end of the bargain.

Aguirre Meza ran for mayor and lost, but he won a council seat in Navolato,
a farming community in the state of Sinaloa. He was president of the
Sinaloa Lawyers Federation. He had been a federal prosecutor and Navolato's
chief of police in 1997. He started the Navolatan Citizens Council for
Human Rights and was a founding member of the Sinaloan Commission for the
Defense of Human Rights.

In recent years, he had sworn out a murder warrant against the leader of a
band of killers-for-hire and, as chief of police, had arrested a major drug
trafficker. Still, he didn't feel he had to leave town. Narcos were always
reluctant to assassinate someone who enjoyed social support and kept a high
civic profile.

But things have changed.

On the night of Jan. 27, Aguirre Meza was parking his Ram Charger at the
end of his cul-de-sac. Two men wearing masks and carrying AK47s suddenly
appeared beside his truck. Frantically, he tried to maneuver out of the
deadend. But his attackers gunned him down.

The slaying of Aguirre Meza was the latest outrage in a state grown numb to
murderous acts during a virtual Colombian-style social decomposition. For
the last five years, Sinaloa has been besieged by warfare and executions
among competing drug gangs, an outbreak of violence that increasingly
targets prominent citizens like Aguirre Meza, who once were considered

Sinaloa is home to the Mazatlan tourist resort. It is also the birthplace
of Mexican drug smuggling. Around the turn of the century, Chinese
immigrants arrived in the Mexican state with the opium poppy. Marijuana
grows well in the Sinaloan mountains.

Smuggling drugs to the United States has been part of the local economy for
decades and increasingly important since the 1960s.

Virtually every major Mexican drug lord is from Sinaloa.

When narco violence got out of hand in the 1970s, the state government
launched Operation Condor, which used the military to chase drug runners
out of the hills in the '70s and early '80s. As a result, the state's most
important traffickers left for Tijuana, Juarez, Guadalajara and elsewhere.
As the great cartels of today formed to control the narcotics trade,
Sinaloa settled into a tacit arrangement with its narcos: Keep your wars
among yourselves and you can do your business.

In recent years, however, the cartel system has been upset. The chiefs of
the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and Hector "El Guero" Palma
are in prison. Amado Carrillo Fuentes, "The Lord of the Skies," died after
plastic surgery in 1997. The breed of trafficker replacing these drug lords
seems more callous, less willing to accept any kind of control and
criminally ambitious beyond drug running. Today, more than 200 well-armed
gangs are based in Sinaloa, according to police officials. They seem
accountable to no one and ply a variety of other criminal enterprises such
as highway robbery, murder-for-hire and kidnapping. Fullblown shootouts in
the hills of Sinaloa are, if not routine, frequent.

Thus, the tacit agreement that governed relations between law-abiding
Sinaloans and narco gangs is no longer in force.

Sinaloans thought they could co-exist with the drug trade. Now they find
they cannot, and anyone is a potential victim of violence. For example, a
plastic surgeon who operated on the mother of a gangster, who believed the
operation caused her subsequent death, survived one attempt on his life,
but not a second. But he is one of a mounting tally. Over the last few
years, 47 lawyers, 40 state police officers and 12 university professors
have been murdered by gangsters connected to drug trafficking. Prominent
farmers, ranchers, merchants, professionals and social activists have been
kidnapped or killed. Aguirre Meza is the third of five founders of the
Sinaloan Commission for the Defense of Human Rights to be assassinated in
the last decade.

Only a handful of the killings have been solved. Murders, meanwhile, have
tripled, rising from 215 in 1987, to an average of 650 a year over the last
few years. Many of them were execution-style hits, with the victim bound,
shot in the back of the head and buried in a shallow grave.

The Sinaloans' relative helplessness in dealing with the state's drug gangs
is rooted in Mexico's old style of governance. For most of this century,
the country has lived with a bloated, centralized national government in
Mexico City. Its job, as the government saw it, was to do everything for
the people. Because the central government was reluctant to share power
with any institution that might one day challenge it, few state or local
institutions with the muscle and vigor to act as a bulwark against the drug
trade developed.

Mexico's business elite, for example, has virtually no experience in civic
causes. Indeed, the government actively discouraged such participation for
years and, until recently, the most a businessman could aspire to, if he
was socially minded, was to be president of the local Red Cross for a year.
The idea that any businessman would, say, help raise money to buy computers
for police cars was simply unimaginable. That was the government's job.

City governments and police have been especially enfeebled by decades of
centralism. Most municipal governments in Mexico are arthritic, with
neither the money nor the civil-service expertise to pave streets, let alone
fight the menace that the bandit gangs in Sinaloa represent. Until last
year, municipal governments in Mexico received only 4% of the country's tax
revenues, with states getting 16%. The federal government got the rest.
This method of distributing revenue has pauperized local police
departments. The Navolato police department, for example, has 13 working
patrol cars and 111 pistols for 210 officers, who each are rationed eight
bullets a day. The police chief's last job was teaching engineering at a
local high school. State and federal police have more resources and are
better trained, but they are also geometrically more corrupt.

It should thus be no surprise that Sinaloa's drug gangs operate without
much fear of getting caught by the authorities. About the only institution
capable of taking on the traffickers is the army, to which President
Ernesto Zedillo is increasingly turning to combat crime. Since Aguirre
Meza's murder, businessmen and politicians have called for the military to
intervene again in Sinaloa.

Yet, this is not the 1970s. Narco influence has insinuated itself deeply
into Sinaloa and far beyond its hills. Moreover, a true "narcoculture" has
sprung up in Sinaloa and in most of northwest Mexico. With local police and
government either inept, powerless or corrupt, the narcotraficante has
emerged as a social hero. This is especially true for the working class,
for whom drug smuggling offers a rare chance at economic advancement.
Accordingly, some vicious, semiliterate narcos have become legends,
regarded as swashbuckling risk takers who defy authorities to get rich
selling the gringo the vice he covets. Their fashions are imitated. Their
exploits incorporated into ballads. In Sinaloa, even middle-class college
students know the stories of how certain narcos lived and died better than
they know the works of major Mexican writers.

For now, Sinaloans would likely settle for the army reminding the narco
gangs just whom they can murder with impunity and whom they can't, in
effect restoring a bit of the old order to their society's relationship
with the narco. Actual eradication of the drug trade isn't on the agenda.

The longer-term solution is slackened demand for drugs in the United States
and the development of modern Mexico institutions, which is already
underway. Until then, Sinaloa will likely have to endure a good measure
more of its current nightmare, unless the real power, the drug cartels, can
bring the bandit gangs under control.

ACM-Bulletin of 21 February 1999 (An English-language news bulletin from the
Association for Cannabis as Medicine, in Cologne, Germany, features news of a
potential pain therapy based on blocking the reuptake of endogeneous
cannabinoids; pregnant women and drugs; and an Australian report finding
males with high testosterone levels consume relatively more cannabis.)

Subject: ACM-Bulletin of 21 February 1999
From: "Association for Cannabis as Medicine" (info@acmed.org)
Save Address Block Sender
To: acm-bulletin@acmed.org
Date: Sun, 21 Feb 1999 23:21:51 +0100

ACM-Bulletin of 21 February 1999



Dr Andrea Hohmann of the U.S. National Institute of Dental and
Craniofacial Research said in an interview to the possibility to
develop medicaments for pain therapy that block the reuptake of
endogeneous cannabinoids: "It might be possible to manipulate levels of
the body's own cannabinoids. You could create drugs like Prozac that
block the body's reuptake of cannabinoids or inhibit their breakdown so
they stay active longer."

(Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (US) of 8 February 1999)

[Note - The news article referenced above is titled "Human Body Found To
Produce Its Own Version Of Marijuana," but was originally published as a
Knight Ridder News Service article in The Salt Lake Tribune on Dec. 17,
1998. - Portland NORML]


Pregnant women who smoke cigarettes or use cocaine have a higher risk of
miscarriage, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine
has found. Tobacco smokers are almost twice as likely to miscarry as
nonsmokers, and cocaine users are nearly one-and-a-half times as likely
to miscarry as nonusers, according to the study. It found no link
between alcohol drinking or marijuana use and spontaneous abortion. The
researchers looked at 970 women who sought emergency room treatment for
miscarriage or other problems at the Hospital of the University of
Pennsylvania in Philadelphia while they were less than 22 weeks
pregnant. This was the first study to use hair and urine testing to
determine women's drug use, instead of relying on their own reports.
(Source: AP of 3 February 1999)


Testosterone levels may influence the effect of cannabis on the brain, a
small study suggests. Professor Jayashri Kulkarni, director of
psychiatry for the Dandenong Area Mental Health Service (Australia),
said this may be one reason why more males are using the drug. "We've
found that patients who had high testosterone levels also had high rates
of cannabis use and high levels of psychotic symptoms including
hallucinations, delusions and formal thought disorder," she said. Among
the 40 patients studied, daily heavy users of cannabis had the highest
testosterone levels.

(Source: Australian Associated Press of 16 February 1999)


... in the new book of Robert C Randall and Alice M O'Leary:

"Strange as it may seem, here is one right-wing Republican who
supports carefully controlled, medical access to marijuana. When our
grown daughter was undergoing chemotherapy for lymph cancer, she was
sick and vomiting constantly as a result of her treatments. No legal
drugs, including the synthetic "marijuana" pill Marinol, helped her
situation. As a result we finally turned to marijuana which, of course,
we were forced to obtain illegaly. With it, she kept her food down, was
comfortable, and even gained weight. (...) A doctor should have every
possible medication -- including marijuana -- in his armentarium. (...)"

Lyn Nofziger, in: Foreword of "Marijuana RX - The Patients Fight
for Medicinal Pot", published in February 1999. (Mr. Lofziger was the
White House director of communication and chief speech writer for the
former US-President Ronald Reagan.)



The articles posted here are generally copyrighted by the source publications. They are reproduced here for educational purposes under the Fair Use Doctrine (17 U.S.C., section 107). NORML is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit educational organization. The views of the authors and/or source publications are not necessarily those of NORML. The articles and information included here are not for sale or resale.

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