------------------------------------------------------------------- Urgent! HJM 10 Update (A Portland NORML activist forwards a request that advocates for medical marijuana patients contact Oregon state legislators now and urge them to support the resolution asking Congress to reschedule marijuana. Includes legislators' contact information.) From: Perjanstr@aol.com Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 09:23:59 EDT Subject: DPFOR: !URGENT! HJM10 update To: email@example.com Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/ Stormy Ray, chief petitioner for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act (official as of May 1st, Congrats Stormy!) is computer-less at the New Kings Inn in Salem [(503) 581-1559, Room 114] and has asked me to put this out on the net for her. She begs that we all call the Oregon Legislative number [(800) 332-2313] and get on our respective Representative's case (and then all of them) about HJM 10. This is House Joint Measure 10 memorializing the sense of the Oregon Legislature that Marijuana ought NOT be listed in Schedule I and directing Congress to reschedule it. It passed out of committee Friday as announced by its sponsor, Rep. Joann Bowman (god bless her) at the Rally at Salem on April 30th. It is important to act now as it may come up for a floor vote this week! Call and otherwise contact you rep (and then the rest of 'em) to support HJM10. Then give Stormy a call and let her know I'm doin' my job. To look up your rep go to the Vote Smart web site >www.vote-smart.org< which will determine your rep by address/zip-code. Great little feature. Also see Oregon State site at >www.state.or.us< do it today! Perry Stripling Dir. - Pdx NORML Portland (OR) Chapter - N.O.R.M.L. (503) 777-9088 www.pdxnorml.org
------------------------------------------------------------------- Crime in Oregon dips in 1998 from previous year (The Oregonian says new statistics from an unspecified source, possibly the Oregon Uniform Crime Reporting Program, indicate violent crimes such as homicide dropped 3.2 percent last year, while property crimes showed an 8.6 percent decline and overall crime dropped 6.3 percent. However, from 1989 to 1998, crime rose 13 percent while the population increased 17.1 percent. Apparently no statistics were collected on illegal-drug offenses.) Newshawk: Portland NORML (http://www.pdxnorml.org/) Pubdate: Wed, May 05 1999 Source: Oregonian, The (OR) Copyright: 1999 The Oregonian Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: 1320 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201 Fax: 503-294-4193 Website: http://www.oregonlive.com/ Forum: http://forums.oregonlive.com/ Author: Maxine Bernstein, the Oregonian Crime in Oregon dips in 1998 from previous year * Violent crimes such as homicide drop 3.2 percent, while property crimes show an 8.6 percent decline Crime dropped 6.3 percent in Oregon in 1998, compared with 1997, with violent offenses, property crimes and domestic violence all declining, newly released statistics show. And as the state's population grew 17.1 percent from 1989 to 1998, crime rose 13 percent. "That shows crime is trailing behind our population growth, which is a good thing," said Jeff Bock, supervisor of the Oregon Uniform Crime Reporting Program. "We're pretty much in keeping with the national trend." The statistics for 1998, released Tuesday, show violent crimes, such as homicide, rape, kidnapping, assault, sexual assault and robbery, decreased 3.2 percent. Property crimes declined 8.6 percent, and behavioral crimes, including child abuse, drunken driving and gambling, fell 3 percent. Property crime, unlike violent crime, has been dropping steadily nationwide since 1975. Law enforcement experts cite the aging of the baby boom population beyond its prime years for committing crime, the increased use of security alarms and a healthier economy as reasons for the decline. In Portland, violent crimes dropped 12 percent in 1998 from the previous year and property crimes fell 14 percent. Declines in motor vehicle theft and burglary partly accounted for the drop in property crime, Portland police records show. Statewide, domestic violence fell, from 19,801 cases reported in 1997, to 19,768 in 1998. As crime dropped, so did arrests. The total number of arrests -- excluding traffic, fish and game, and marine violations -- decreased 4.6 percent in 1998, compared with 1997. Of the 170,495 arrests in 1998, behavioral crimes accounted for 60 percent, property crimes 26.2 percent, and crimes against persons 13. 8 percent. Bias crime was one of the few categories that showed an increase in 1998, but it was negligible. In 1998, 115 were reported, up 3.6 percent from 111 in 1997. The number of bias crimes reported in Multnomah County dropped from 68 to 36, but Clackamas, Marion and Lane counties each reported an increase in bias crimes in 1998 over 1997. "Multnomah County all along has been the leader, if you will, in the number of bias crimes reported, but it's steadily been going down," Bock said. Crimes motivated by race, sexual orientation and national origin continued to account for most of the bias crimes reported. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Peifer, part of the U.S. Attorney's Oregon Hate Crimes Task Force, said explaining the bias crime numbers is difficult. "Bias crimes are not reported consistently, and underreporting is a big issue in regard to law enforcement," Peifer said. You can reach Maxine Bernstein at 503-221-8212 or by e-mail at Maxinebernstein@news.oregonian.com.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Spokane, officers sued over home-search mix-up (The Spokesman-Review, in Spokane, Washington, says local resident Robert Critchlow has filed a $2.25 million lawsuit stemming from a fruitless police search for marijuana in Critchlow's home in 1997. Police said they could smell marijuana, and that's why they were knocking at his door at 4:17 a.m., the suit said. It claims Critchlow's civil rights were violated, alleging 18 causes of action, including trespass, false arrest, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of mental distress.) Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 00:09:37 -0700 (PDT) From: Den de (email@example.com) Subject: HT: Spokane, officers sued over home-search mix-up To: Hemp Talk *cannabist (firstname.lastname@example.org) Sender: email@example.com Spokane, officers sued over home-search mix-up http://www.spokane.net:80/news-story-body.asp?Date=050599&ID=s571358&cat= Send your Thoughts on this article. Peace not WoD FFFF DdC Bill Morlin - The Spokesman-Review Spokane _ An attorney has filed a $2.25 million lawsuit against the city of Spokane and eight of its police officers. The U.S. District Court suit filed late last week by Robert Critchlow stems from a police search of his house before dawn on May 4, 1997. Critchlow says officers illegally searched his home in the mistaken belief there was marijuana growing inside. Police said they could smell marijuana, and that's why they were knocking at his door on East Rockwell at 4:17 a.m., the suit said. No marijuana or any other illegal drugs were found. Three days later, police searched a neighboring home and found a marijuana-growing operation. Police arrested two of Critchlow's neighbors. Critchlow's suit claims his civil rights were violated by the search. Assistant City Attorney Rocco Treppiedi, who defends the city in such cases, wasn't available for comment on Tuesday. The suit says that when Critchlow told police they had no right to search his home, he and his fiancee, Kimberly Bates, were arrested. They were ``physically seized and forcibly removed from their house, arrested and placed in the custody and confinement of two separate marked patrol cars for five hours,'' the suit said. ``Though Mr. Critchlow was well within his rights to deny entry into his home in those very early hours of the morning, he was punished for invoking those rights,'' the suit alleges. During her confinement, an officer ``browbeat'' Bates and encouraged her to ``rat on her `Mr. Lawyer' boyfriend who was going down for a long time,'' the suit alleges. Police detained the pair for five hours before realizing they had the wrong house, the suit contends. The delay was caused because police had to rewrite a search warrant that had been signed by a Spokane County District Court judge. The suit alleges 18 causes of action, including trespass, false arrest, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of mental distress. It also contends the search occurred because of negligent training and supervision of police officers. The suit seeks $750,000 in actual damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages. Bates filed a similar lawsuit against the city in January in Spokane County Superior Court. Bill Morlin can be reached at (509) 459-5444 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
------------------------------------------------------------------- A Prop. 215 Violation (A letter to the editor of the Ventura County Star, in California, clarifies several inaccurancies in recent articles about the cultivation bust of medical-marijuana patient/activist Andrea Nagy, whose Agoura Hills home was raided April 19 by the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.) Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 18:11:14 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US CA: PUB LTE: A Prop. 215 Violation Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Double J Pubdate: Wed, 05 May 1999 Source: Ventura County Star (CA) Copyright: 1999, Ventura County Star Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.staronline.com/ Author: Jeff Meyers A PROP. 215 VIOLATION Re: your April 21 article, "Officials claim marijuana cultivation exceeds limits," and your April 20 article, "Deputies seize Nagy's medical marijuana." In the past couple of weeks I've been reading articles in local newspapers about Andrea Nagy, whose Agoura Hills home was raided April 19 by the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. The police confiscated expensive grow lights and a few dozen marijuana plants growing in several areas of the house. The newspaper articles omitted key information and included a lot of bad information. As someone who has known Nagy since she opened the now-defunct Ventura County Medical Cannabis Center in 1997, I'd like to set the record straight and lay out the facts. Fact: Nagy has a valid doctor's recommendation to use medical marijuana in compliance with Proposition 215. Fact: She lives with her mother, who also has a valid doctor's recommendation. Fact: Between the two of them, the Nagys had 60 immature plants and 27 just harvested. The 27 would have yielded about a pound and a half, 12 ounces apiece for Nagy and her mother. That's about four grams a day for each of them -- two or three joints, which should have been sufficient to last them until their next harvest, three months away, if the cops hadn't relieved them of their plants. Fact: The amount of marijuana in the house was far below the seven pounds a year the U.S. government supplies to its eight patients under the federal Compassionate Use Act. The Nagys would have to harvest at least 35 plants each every four months to equal that amount. Fact: Oakland guidelines for each medical marijuana patient are 144 plants and one pound at any given time up to six pounds a year. Nagy and her mother were well below those figures. Fact: Nagy had sophisticated growing equipment in her house. Fact: As any horticulturist will tell you, it makes a big difference in quality when a grower uses a 1,000-watt high-pressure sodium lamp instead of a 100-watt light bulb to grow indoors. Fact: It's no secret that Nagy is an expert grower. She grew and provided high-grade medical marijuana for about 60 Ventura County patients when she operated the Cannabis Center. Obviously, she knows what she's doing when it comes to marijuana growing -- but expertise and sophisticated equipment don't make her a criminal Fact: Nagy is a legitimate medical marijuana patient according to California law. Prop. 215 applies to "any illness for which marijuana provides relief." Unless journalism schools are now teaching medicine, what qualifies reporters -- or the police for that matter -- to question whether her migraines are serious enough to require the use of marijuana? Neither journalists nor the cops should be playing doctor. Fact: Sir William Osler, one of the foremost physicians of the early 1900s, regarded cannabis -- as marijuana was called back then when it was legal -- the most effective medication for migraines. Fact: Nagy showed the sheriffs her doctor's recommendation but they still confiscated her marijuana and her equipment -- although they did not arrest her nor have they yet charged her with a crime. Their action is in defiance of California law under Prop. 215. Police are supposed to enforce laws, not interpret them. Fact: The state Supreme Court only last week ordered a Northern California police department to return plants confiscated from a legitimate medical marijuana user. I urge the Star to investigate the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. The department appears to have an institutional policy of harassing qualified medical marijuana patients, taking their plants and often filing charges, so people have to go to the expense of defending themselves in court. Fact: Nagy is one of California's leading medical marijuana activists Through her efforts, Simi Valley Police were forced to return plants they had seized from Dean Jones and now face a civil suit. She has also assisted other medical marijuana patients in filing lawsuits against other California counties. I'm sure the L.A. County Sheriff's Department has not seen the last of her. Jeff Meyers Ventura, Ca.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Study Says Methamphhetamine Use High In West (The Associated Press version in the Orange County Register emphasizes the drug warriors' spin.) Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 19:19:14 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US CA: Study Says Methamphhetamine Use High In West Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John W. Black Pubdate: Wed, 05 May 1999 Source: Orange County Register (CA) Section: News,page 7 Copyright: 1999 The Orange County Register Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ Author: Michelle Williams, The Associated Press STUDY SAYS METHAMPHETAMINE USE HIGH IN WEST Drugs: One-tenth of the Users Surveyed Say Relatives Introduced Them to the Substance. San Diego - Methamphetamine usage remains highest in cities west of the Rocky Mountains,according to a federal study released here Tuesday. Additionally, 10 percent of methamphetamine users studied in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, Phoenix and Portland, Ore., say they were introduced to the drug by their parents or a family member, researchers found. "Although it's been around for decades, methamphetamine is the new drug," said Susan Pennell, a criminal researcher with the San Diego Association of Governments and one of the authors of the study. "It's easy to get. It's easy to make. It's cheap, and the high lasts a long time. But the long-term effects on the brain chemistry are severe." The National Institute of Justice, the research branch of the U.S. Justice Department, and the government association studied 1,000 methamphetamine users who were jailed in the five Western cities from October 1996 to September 1997. About half of the meth users said they snorted or inhaled meth (46 percent) while others preferred smoking (31 percent). Users in Portland, which also has a high rate of heroin use, were more likely to inject meth (49 percent). Among other findings by researchers: Meth use is often linked with violent and destructive behavior, however the study found 40 percent of users were charged with a drug or alcohol violation. Only 16 percent were jailed because of violent behavior. Most of the meth users were white males, ranging from 54 percent in San Jose to 94 percent in Portland. However, 57 percent of meth users surveyed in Los Angeles were Hispanic. Meth use by blacks was relatively low, ranging from 1 percent in Phoenix to 11 percent in San Diego. The average age was 30, slightly younger than the age of cocaine and heroin users. Meth users had higher rates of overall drug use than users of other drugs. For example, 95 percent of meth users surveyed in San Diego also tested positive for another illegal drug. The other drug of choice was most often marijuana. California leads the nation in number of labs seized - 1,234 in 1997 compared with 1,273 other labs nationwide.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Popularity Of Methamphetamines Surges, Report Says (A different Associated Press version in the Seattle Times) Date: Thu, 6 May 1999 03:36:42 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US CA: Popularity Of Methamphetamines Surges, Report Says Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John Smith Pubdate: Wed, 5 May 1999 Source: Seattle Times (WA) Copyright: 1999 The Seattle Times Company Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.seattletimes.com/ Author: Michelle Williams, The Associated Press POPULARITY OF METHAMPHETAMINES SURGES, REPORT SAYS SAN DIEGO - Once just a drug used by biker gangs and World War II soldiers trying to stay awake and alert, methamphetamine is now the drug of choice for white men in their 30s looking for a cheap alternative to cocaine and young women trying to lose weight. Those findings were part of a study released yesterday in San Diego by the National Institute of Justice, the research branch of the Justice Department, and the San Diego Association of Governments. Federal and local authorities, health professionals and educators are meeting in San Diego this week to formalize recommendations to Attorney General Janet Reno on how to combat the nation's growing methamphetamine use. "Although it's been around for decades, methamphetamine is the new drug," said Susan Pennell, a criminal researcher with the government association and one of the authors of the study. "It's easy to get. It's easy to make. It's cheap, and the high lasts a long time. But the long-term effects on the brain chemistry are severe." During the course of a year, researchers studied 1,000 methamphetamine users jailed in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, Phoenix and Portland. Those cities represent urban areas where meth use is most prevalent in the U.S., said Jeremy Travis, institute director. In the past decade, use of methamphetamine has grown as the cocaine trade has declined. Among findings by researchers: -- Meth use is often linked with violent and destructive behavior. However, the study found 40 percent of users were charged with a drug or alcohol violation. Only 16 percent were jailed because of violent behavior. -- Most of the meth users were white males, ranging from 54 percent in San Jose to 94 percent in Portland. -- The average age was 30, slightly younger than the age of cocaine and heroin users. -- Meth users had higher rates of overall drug use than users of other drugs. -- Ten percent of methamphetamine users studied said they were introduced to the drug by their parents or a family member.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Special Prosecutor Urged For Police Abuse (The Los Angeles Times says the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will wrap up a long-running investigation into misconduct and bias among Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies and Los Angeles Police Department officers by recommending that a special prosecutor be created to replace the county district attorney in pursuing allegations of abuse against law enforcement officers.) Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 21:41:37 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US CA: Special Prosecutor Urged For Police Abuse Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org (Bob Owen) Pubdate: Wed, 5 May 1999 Source: Los Angeles Times (CA) Copyright: 1999 Los Angeles Times. Contact: email@example.com Fax: (213) 237-4712 Website: http://www.latimes.com/ Forum: http://www.latimes.com/HOME/DISCUSS/ Author: TINA DAUNT, MATT LAIT, Times Staff Writers SPECIAL PROSECUTOR URGED FOR POLICE ABUSE Civil rights: U.S. panel says D.A. should be replaced in LAPD, sheriff's cases. Officials respond that some findings are inaccurate, outdated. Wrapping up a long-running investigation into misconduct and bias among Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies and Los Angeles Police Department officers, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will recommend that a special prosecutor be created to replace the county district attorney in pursuing allegations of abuse against law enforcement officers. In its report on a probe that has been ongoing since 1993, the commission cites the district attorney's poor record of prosecuting such cases and consequent lack of public faith in the process as justification for the new post. The commissioners also are calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct its own investigation into allegations that sheriff's deputies have formed "gangs" within the rank and file to mete out their own brand of street justice. "Serious allegations persist that groups of deputies have formed associations that harass and brutalize minority residents," commissioners wrote in the report, which is scheduled for release next month but was obtained in advance by The Times. "The [Sheriff's Department] should take steps . . . to disband such groups permanently," the report said. In addition, the eight-member commission recommends that the county appoint a civilian review board to investigate misconduct complaints against the Sheriff's Department. The LAPD, meanwhile, is taken to task for failing to adequately address a number of problems, including excessive use of force, gender bias and the so-called code of silence within its ranks. Law enforcement officials, particularly at the LAPD, criticized the report, saying many of its findings were inaccurate and, in some cases, outdated. Three members of the civil rights commission also expressed reserv ations, saying the report was substandard. According to the report, both departments need to make greater strides in community policing programs and improve their relationships with minority communities. "Despite admirable training programs in both departments, there is evidence of increasing intolerance of ethnic and minority immigrants among some members of both the LAPD and the [Sheriff's Department]," the report said. In fact, the report said, "There is evidence that a significant number of rank-and-file [sheriff's] deputies have been resistant to cultural awareness instruction." The commissioners' most controversial recommendation concerned prosecution of misconduct cases: "The district attorney's reliance on police cooperation for prosecuting crimes conflicts with its duty to prosecute police misconduct," the report said. "There is low public confidence in the D.A.'s office as a tool for controlling misconduct by [Sheriff's Department] officials." In 1996 and 1997, the Sheriff's Department referred 126 cases to the Special Investigations Division of the district attorney's office. Criminal charges were filed against 11 deputies. "Because of its relationship with the Sheriff's Department, combined with the small number of police prosecutions, claims by the D.A. that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute a given case are met with skepticism," said the report, which did not provide comparable statistics for the LAPD. Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, said the office would not comment on the report until it has a chance to review it. But she said that Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti had sent a letter to the commission in 1998, in which he said he is "strongly committed to the prosecution of all the residents of this county regardless of whether the criminal offenders are law enforcement officials or private citizens." The findings of the commissioners--who are appointed by the president and members of Congress--are based, in part, on hearings conducted in Los Angeles in 1996, as well as on subsequent interviews and media reports. Although the report is being billed as a thorough investigation into policing in Los Angeles, several commission members said the document is inadequate. In a dissenting statement at the end of the 233-page document, Commissioners Carl A. Anderson, Robert P. George and Russell G. Redenbaugh, all appointed during George Bush's presidency, said the document fails to adequately deal with the broader issues of poverty, inequality and discrimination. They also took issue with the fact that the report relies heavily on media sources. "The report . . . does not meet the commission's high standards for fact finding and advising the Congress and the American people on critical civil rights developments in this country," the three commissioners wrote. Moreover, the dissenters said, several recommendations in the report, such as the call for an independent prosecutor and a civilian review board, "are an overreaction which, in the long run, would actually thwart the kinds of results the commission wants to see." LAPD's Reaction LAPD officials who have reviewed an advance copy of the report said they also are troubled by some of the findings and recommendations. They faulted the commission's research and the quality of witness testimony. They also contended that the report makes sweeping, inaccurate generalizations about the department. "We have some grave concerns about the substance of the report," said LAPD Cmdr. David J. Kalish, a department spokesman. He said the LAPD plans to send the commission a detailed letter addressing its concerns. Sheriff's Department officials, meanwhile, declined to comment, saying that they have not yet had a chance to review the document. Commission members and their public affairs officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The Civil Rights Commission began its investigation into the LAPD and the Sheriff's Department in 1993, as part of a nationwide project on racial and ethnic tensions. Its findings and recommendations are forwarded to the president and Congress, as well as local officials. The commission decided to conduct a follow-up report on policing in Los Angeles in 1996, after the testimony of LAPD Det. Mark Fuhrman during the O.J. Simpson murder trial and the videotaped beating of two suspected undocumented immigrants by Riverside County sheriff's deputies. "The commission's report finds that Los Angeles has received more immigrants than any other city in the United States during the past several decades," Commission Chairwoman Mary Frances Berry wrote. "As a result, Los Angeles has become a city of immigrants: Roughly one in 10 Los Angeles County residents immigrated to the United States after 1985 and roughly 17% arrived after 1980." For the LAPD, the commission's report is a mixed review, crediting the department with making strides in certain areas but criticizing it for falling short on many issues. Commissioners said the LAPD should be commended for improving its diversity, noting that it leads the state in the percentages of women and minorities on the force. And the commission praised the LAPD for its "training efforts with respect to racial and gender bias." Nonetheless, the commissioners found that the LAPD--18% of whose officers now are women--lags far behind its goal of having a police force that is 40% female. More troubling, the commissioners concluded, gender bias "continues to be a significant problem" within the LAPD. The commissioners found that tensions between the LAPD and minority communities are exacerbated by "perceptions and incidents of the department's application of excessive force towards [sic] people of color." For example, the commissioners cited a study showing that pepper spray is more frequently used by LAPD officers on African Americans and Latinos than on whites. Community Policing Commissioners found that the "code of silence" practice of officers refusing to report or lying about a colleague's misconduct remains a "barrier to eradicating excessive force and discriminatory treatment in the LAPD." To improve relationships with minority communities and other residents, the commissioners said the LAPD needs to make greater progress in institutionalizing community policing programs. The department also should "investigate training programs that offer conflict resolution and mediation" as a way of "defusing some situations that could potentially escalate into violence." The commissioners recommended that the LAPD randomly test officers on their "subduing techniques" to ensure that they comply with the department's use of force policies. And, the commissioners said, additional efforts need to be taken to make officers "more knowledgeable about diverse cultures, in order to improve relationships with immigrant communities." Many of the recommendations in the commission's report address problems that police reformers say have long plagued the department, but a good number of the proposals seem outdated. Over the past two years, Chief Bernard C. Parks, the Police Commission and the commission's inspector general have either embarked on or proposed similar recommendations. Among the commission recommendations that the LAPD already has moved forward on are: * Adopting a new language policy aimed at improving contacts with people who speak little or no English. * Creating an internal ombudsman position that allows officers to voice concerns about bias on an informal basis. * Establishing a new system for categorizing and monitoring misconduct complaints. * Having the commission's inspector general audit complaints to evaluate the fairness of the process and the equity of punishment. "A lot of the report is dated information that fails to note significant and recent progress," Kalish said. In a 41-page section dealing with the Sheriff's Department, commissioners call on the Board of Supervisors to establish a civilian review board with the power to investigate and adjudicate complaints of police misconduct. "The LASD is essentially responsible for policing itself," the report said. "Although the sheriff has instituted reforms to increase accountability, critics are not satisfied that the department will be able to keep itself in check." Commissioners also expressed concern over reports that some deputies have formed self-styled "gangs" with macho monikers like the Vikings, Grim Reapers and Tasmanian Devils. Although sheriff's officials testified that the groups were nothing more than "sports teams and social clubs," others were skeptical. "Witnesses at the commission hearing were unshaken in their view that deputy gangs were responsible for terrorizing minorities," the report said. It called on justice officials to get to the bottom of the matter. "The seriousness and recurring nature of the allegations warrant an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice," the report said.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Hawaii to apply for permits (A list subscriber forwards a message from Hawaii state representative Cynthia Thielen confirming yesterday's news that the legislature has passed HB 32, an industrial hemp bill. Thielen also confirms that Governor Cayetano is expected to sign the legislation in June, and that the DEA is considering an end to the ban on hemp production.) Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Wed, 05 May 1999 12:44:51 -0700 To: email@example.com From: "D. Paul Stanford" (firstname.lastname@example.org) From: "CRRH mailing list" (email@example.com) Subject: Hawaii to Apply for permits May 4, 1999 House Bill 32, as amended, just passed final reading in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The bill now goes to Governor Cayetano for his signature (probably some time in June). The vote was closer in the Senate (13 to 11). In the House, all voted in favor except for 3 members. The bill authorizes privately funded industrial hemp seed variety trials in Hawaii, once the state and DEA permits are issued. I just received a letter from DEA Chief of Operations, Gregory Williams in which he states: ...DEA will consider setting the level of THC content for Cannabis sativa L., hemp that may be grown for industrial purposes. This review is based on the premise that public and commercial interest may be better served if the cultivation of Cannabis sativa L., hemp is authorized by the appropriate Federal and State entities." Read through the sentences a few times--it is bureaucraticease for saying they are working on changing their regulations so industrial hemp can be grown again in the USA. Thanks to all of you for your help. You deserve a lot of credit for this major win!!! Aloha, Rep. Cynthia Thielen firstname.lastname@example.org
------------------------------------------------------------------- ASU's Fletcher arrested on drug charge (The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette says Arkansas State University basketball player Chico Fletcher, a two-time Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and honorable-mention NCAA All-American, was arrested Sunday morning on a charge of possessing an eighth of an ounce of marijuana. Fletcher was arrested at a "safety checkpoint" where a drug-sniffing dog stood by as each and every vehicle was stopped for inspection.) From: GranVizier@webtv.net Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 08:18:50 -0400 (EDT) To: email@example.com Subject: [cp] ASU's Fletcher arrested on drug charge http://www.ardemgaz.com/today/spt/cbbeckasu.html Wednesday, May 5, 1999 ASU's Fletcher arrested on drug charge BECK CROSS ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE Arkansas State junior guard Chico Fletcher, a two-time Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and honorable-mention NCAA All-American, was arrested Sunday morning on a charge of possession of marijuana, according to the Poinsett County Sheriff's Department police report. If convicted of the Class A misdemeanor, Fletcher could face up to a year in the county jail and a fine not to exceed $1,000. The court hearing is set for May 21 at the Lepanto Municipal Court. Fletcher has one season of eligibility remaining at ASU. "We are extremely disappointed, embarrassed and surprised to learn of this," ASU Coach Dickey Nutt said. "During three years of drug testing, Chico has never tested positive. We do not know what kind of disciplinary action we will take. We're in the middle of finals right now, and we'll decide sometime later. "At this point, I have no idea what we'll do. We'll get together as a staff and make a decision in the next week or two." Fletcher and Tracy Allen, 22, of Osceola, were arrested at 1 a.m. Sunday at a safety checkpoint at the intersection of Arkansas Highways 135-136 north of Lepanto. According to Poinsett County Sheriff Larry Mills, approximately one-eighth of an ounce of marijuana was found in Allen's Dodge Stratus. The two were taken to the Lepanto Police Department and released on $500 bond. "We were running a safety check in that area,'' Mills said. "On safety checks, we stop each and every vehicle that comes through and basically check to see if the driver's license aren't suspended and their head lamps work and all that sort of thing. "[Fletcher] was a passenger in a car that came through. When they rolled up, the deputies asked them to roll their window down. I think the driver cracked his window and the marijuana smoke rolled out. "At that point, we had the drug dog at the scene and the dog located the bag inside the car.'' Attempts to reach Fletcher were unsuccessful. "He was in the car with the other guy,'' Nutt said. "He wasn't driving. I guess the law is that everybody in that car is guilty.'' Asked if Fletcher denied that the marijuana was his, Nutt said, "I have no idea.'' All this week, Fletcher has been in final exams. "He's been in tears for the past two days,'' Nutt said. "He's hurt and feels he let the world down. He feels awful and is as remorseful as he can be. "I have three kids at home and they think Chico Fletcher along with this basketball team are their heroes. We're not going to have this. We will not condone this behavior on our team or in our program. I think he knows that. "He hasn't had a rosy childhood, but he knows the difference between right and wrong. I think he learned his lesson.'' Last season, Fletcher averaged a team-leading 17 points and was ranked second nationally in assists with 8.3 per game in leading the Indians to their first NCAA Tournament appearance. Information for this article was contributed by Ken Heard of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. This article was published on Wednesday, May 5, 1999 Copyright (c) 1999, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. All rights reserved.
------------------------------------------------------------------- State Authorities' Wiretapping Up (According to the Associated Press, the U.S. government said Wednesday that the number of wiretaps authorized by state courts rose 24 percent last year, to 763, while the number of federally authorized wiretaps held steady at 566. Seventy-two percent of all wiretaps were aimed at catching illegal-drug offenders, while 12 percent were aimed at racketeering and 7 percent at gambling.)Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 18:10:57 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: Wire: State Authorities' Wiretapping Up Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org (Montrezza, Charlotte) Pubdate: Wed, 5 May 1999 Source: Associated Press Copyright: 1999 Associated Press Author: Laurie Asseo STATE AUTHORITIES' WIRETAPPING UP WASHINGTON - The number of wiretaps authorized by state courts rose by 24 percent last year, while the number of federally authorized wiretaps held steady, the government reported Wednesday. State courts authorized 763 wiretaps, compared with 617 the previous year, according to figures released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Federal courts authorized 566 such surveillance actions, about even with the 569 authorized in 1997. That adds up to 1,329 wiretaps authorized by federal and state courts in 1998, an increase from 1,186 last year. A decade earlier, in 1988, there were 738 total wiretaps authorized, including 293 permitted by federal courts and 445 by state courts. Buggings in New York made up almost half of the state-authorized wiretaps, with 373. New Jersey was next with 84, Pennsylvania followed with 68, California had 52 and Florida had 44. Seventy-two percent of all wiretaps were aimed at catching narcotics offenders, while 12 percent were aimed at racketeering and 7 percent at gambling. New York City's Special Narcotics Bureau got authorization for 186 drug-related buggings. Telephone wiretaps made up 40 percent of all devices installed, while 46 percent were electronic wiretaps of digital display pagers, voice pagers, cellular phones and e-mail. Forty-two states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and the federal government have laws allowing courts to permit some form of bugging, and last year 25 states reported use of such surveillance. The average length of an initial wiretap was 28 days, and the average length of an authorized extension was 27 days. Courts approved 1,164 extensions of existing wiretaps last year. Officials said 3,450 people were arrested as a result of wiretaps that ended in 1998, and 26 percent of them were convicted. Federal and state judges are required to report to the Administrative Office all applications for wiretap authorizations, and prosecutors must report when a wiretap is ended.
------------------------------------------------------------------- U.S. Says Losing Panama Base Hurt Its Anti-Drug Efforts (An Associated Press article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle says drug war sorties from Howard Air Force Base in the Canal Zone ended May 1, as part of the United States' scheduled withdrawal from Panama on Dec. 31. Clinton administration officials told a Government Reform subcommittee overseeing drug policy yesterday that missions were down 50 percent from the 2,000-a-year flown two years ago. Ana Maria Salazar, the Pentagon's deputy assistant secretary for drug enforcement policy, said operations should be up to 85 percent next year as a result of new interim agreements for use of airfields in Ecuador and the Dutch islands of Aruba and Curacao. And the government was looking for a third location that would boost surveillance to 110 percent of the 1997 level by 2001.) Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 07:14:52 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US: Wire: US Says Losing Panama Base Hurt Its Anti-Drug Efforts Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Keith Sanders Pubdate: Wed, 05 May 1999 Source: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (NY) Copyright: 1999sRochester Democrat and Chronicle Contact: email@example.com Address: 55 Exchange Blvd. Rochester, NY 14614 Fax: (716) 258-2356 Website: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/ Author: Associated Press U.S. SAYS LOSING PANAMA BASE HURT ITS ANTI-DRUG EFFORTS WASHINGTON - Anti-drug efforts in Latin America have been weakened by the ending of surveillance flights from a U.S. base in the Canal Zone, the administration said yesterday. The zone is being transferred to Panama. State and Defense Department officials said they planned to restore full operations within two years by building up three smaller staging centers in the region. However, lawmakers at a House hearing charged the administration with handling the changeover badly. "I am deeply alarmed by the administration's disjointed and half-hearted response to the impending withdrawal of U.S. forces from Panama," said Rep. Benjamin Gilman, R-Middletown, Orange County, chairman of the House International Relations Committee. Howard Air Force Base in the Canal Zone, which ended flights on May 1, was "the crown jewel in our fight against drugs," Gilman said at a hearing of a Government Reform subcommittee overseeing drug policy. Ana Maria Salazar, the Pentagon's deputy assistant secretary for drug enforcement policy, acknowledged that there would be "a degradation." She estimated that surveillance coverage of the Caribbean region at the moment was only half what it was two years ago. Salazar said the United States had been flying 2,000 counter-drug missions a year out of Howard, and operations should be up to 85 percent next year as a result of new interim agreements for use of airfields in Ecuador and the Dutch islands of Aruba and Curacao. And the government was looking for a third location that would boost surveillance to 110 percent of the 1997 level by 2001. The United States turns the canal over to the Panamanian government on Dec. 31, 1999, under the terms of the treaty negotiated by the Carter administration in 1977. Panama will take over five U.S. military bases, 70,000 acres of land and the waterway that handles 14,000 ships a year. Peter Romero, acting assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, told the House panel that the administration had tried for six years to work out a deal that would allow anti-drug activities to continue.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Society Is Committing Genocide Against Intravenous Drug Users (According to the Victoria Times-Colonist, in British Columbia, that's what Dr. Martin Schechter, an epidemiologist and national director of the Canadian HIV trials, told the eighth annual Canadian conference on HIV/AIDS research Tuesday in Victoria. "The government has the means to stop it and they are not doing anything about it," said Dr. Schechter. "If someone from Mars landed here, they'd say this is social murder.") Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 18:11:59 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: Canada: Society Is Committing Genocide Against Intravenous Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: Wed, 05 May 1999 Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (Canada) Contact: email@example.com Author: Louise Dickson SOCIETY IS COMMITTING GENOCIDE AGAINST INTRAVENOUS DRUG USERS Society is committing genocide against intravenous drug users and everybody knows it, delegates at the eighth annual Canadian conference on HIV/AIDS research were told Tuesday in Victoria. "The government has the means to stop it and they are not doing anything about it," Dr. Martin Schechter told the conference's closing session. "If someone from Mars landed here, they'd say this is social murder. It's going to get very grim." Schechter, an epidemiologist and national director of the Canadian HIV trials, was referring to the almost 12,000 drug addicts living in downtown Vancouver's eastside. "Over 2,000 are HIV positive and almost all of them have hepatitis C," said the doctor. Schechter believes society has to take a much broader approach in dealing with drug addicts. He believes strategies including the availability of better treatment for drug addicts, prevention of addiction, availability of methadone, safe injection sites, widespread access to clean needles and safe injection practices would improve the situation. "I would even go so far as to advocate trials of medically supervised heroin which has been done in Switzerland and Amsterdam and appears to be successful for those addicts that don't respond or won't come in to methadone [treatment]," he said. Addicts will tell you their lives revolve around acquiring drugs, said Schechter. "Can you imagine if you had an addict who was provided clean pharmaceutical heroin under medical supervision and then had the rest of their day to get a job instead of breaking into your house or getting rousted by the police?" The medical profession is beginning to understand the overlap in the way HIV and hepatitis C are transmitted, said Schechter. "Right now and for the past several years, the overlap has concentrated in injection drug users." Hepatitis C is transmitted much more easily than HIV, he said. People can become infected using someone else's razor or toothbrush. Hepatitis C is also transmitted very efficiently when people share dirty needles. "Such a great proportion of injection drug users are infected that when you share with a stranger, there's a significant chance that person is going to be infected."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Convicted drug trafficker Howard Marks deported from Hong Kong (According to the Hassela Nordic Network, celebrated former marijuana smuggler Howard Marks has been denied entry to China and was put on a flight back to London. Marks had been was scheduled to give three appearances at Carnegie's bar in Wan Chai starting Tuesday night, speaking about his experiences and playing music.) Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Wed, 05 May 1999 12:40:35 -0700 To: email@example.com From: "D. Paul Stanford" (firstname.lastname@example.org) From: "CRRH mailing list" (email@example.com) Subject: Convicted drug trafficker Howard Marks deported from Hong Kong http://www.hassela.com/hnn/99may5-006.htm Press release May 5, 1999 Convicted drug trafficker Howard Marks deported from Hong Kong According to the South China Morning Post today, convicted drug trafficker Howard Marks was denied entry to the SAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People´s Republic of China) and put on a flight back to London, it was revealed yesterday. Marks, arrested 11 years ago amid claims he was one of the world's biggest marijuana smugglers, was scheduled to give three appearances at Carnegie's bar in Wan Chai starting Tuesday night, speaking about his experiences and playing music. But immigration officers at Chek Lap Kok refused to grant him a visa and deported him on Monday night. Last night, police could not confirm whether Marks was on their wanted list or whether outstanding warrants existed. After his arrest in 1988, it was disclosed that Marks, dubbed the "Marco Polo of drug trafficking", had frequently visited Hong Kong. Investigators believed he laundered his profits here. Marks, 53, was caught in a world-wide operation masterminded by the US Drug Enforcement Administration and released in 1995 after serving seven years of a 25-year sentence in an Indiana jail. Marks gained notoriety for smuggling marijuana hidden in crates carrying the instruments of rock acts Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd and Genesis without their knowledge. Marks claimed he worked for British spy agency MI6 in the mid-'70s, setting up front companies for its operations. (c) Hassela Nordic Network *** Phil Stovell Petersfield, Hants, UK firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.shuv.demon.co.uk/
------------------------------------------------------------------- Justice Department Report Contradicts Common Perception (The San Jose Mercury News notes a U.S. Justice Department report of methamphetamine use in Western cities suggests the connection between the drug and violent crime has been overstated by police and mass media. A study of 7,355 people arrested in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, Portland and Phoenix for a variety of offenses in 1996 and 1997 found that meth users were "significantly less likely" than other drug arrestees to be charged with a violent offense. The largest segment - about 40 percent of adult users - were charged with drug or alcohol violations. By contrast, 25 percent were booked for property offenses and only 16 percent were arrested for violent behavior. Non-meth arrestees, on the other hand, were "significantly more likely to be arrested for a violent offense.") Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 19:09:10 -0700 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US: Justice Department Report Contradicts Common Perception Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: email@example.com (Montrezza, Charlotte) Pubdate: Wed, 5 May 1999 Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA) Copyright: 1999 Mercury Center Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/ Author: Bill Romano, Mercury News Staff Writer JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORT CONTRADICTS COMMON PERCEPTION Results of a U.S. Justice Department study of methamphetamine use in the Western cities, including San Jose, suggest the connection between the drug and violent crime may be overstated -- a conclusion disputed by one of Santa Clara County's top domestic violence prosecutors. The report by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) released Tuesday in San Diego during a two day meeting of the Methamphetamine Interagency Task Force outlines use of the drug in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, Portland and Phoenix. A total of 7,355 people arrested in those communities for a variety of offenses in 1996 and 1997 agreed to participate in the project, 922 of them users of methamphetamine. A vast majority volunteered urine samples while those who declined provided information about their personal use of drugs, researchers said. According to the study, meth users were found "significantly less likely" than other drug arrestees to be charged with a violent offense. The largest segment -- about 40 percent of adult users of the cheap, illegal stimulant participating in the study -- reportedly were charged with drug or alcohol violations. By contrast, 25 percent were booked for property offenses and only 16 percent were arrested for violent behavior. Non-meth arrestees, on the other hand, were "significantly more likely to be arrested for a violent offense, contrary to a common perception that associates methampehtamine with violent behavior," the report said. Noting the differences, Jack Riley, director of the NIJ's drug-abuse monitoring program, said the results were not particularly surprising. "I think it's a common misconception that methamphetamine is concretely linked to violent crime. I've never seen that before, (just) as it was never observable with cocaine," Riley said. "That's not to say meth is not involved in violent crime. But it is not disproportionately linked to it." But Assistant District Attorney Karyn Sinunu disputed some of the study's conclusions. "Any physician will tell you methamphetamine leads to paranoia," Sinunu said. "It's a know medical fact that paranoia is what often causes people to kill. This is a stimulant long associated with violence. I've seen the craziness in meth users." Findings in the voluntary study showed that among the 180 meth users interviewed in San Jose, 26 percent were picked up for violent crimes, 39 percent for drug and alcohol offenses, 24 percent for all other offenses. In the five cites surveyed, the majority of users the 12 month study were white males, ranging from 54 percent in San Jose to 94 percent in Portland. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
------------------------------------------------------------------- KLA Linked To Enormous Heroin Trade (The San Francisco Chronicle belatedly helps break the American mass media's silence about how the United States' allies in its latest military conflict are - surprise! - funding their war effort by trafficking supposedly controlled substances throughout Europe.) Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 07:29:36 -0700 To: email@example.com From: "Tom O'Connell" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: "Tom O'Connell" (firstname.lastname@example.org) Organization: DrugSense http://www.drugsense.org/dpfca/ Source: San Francisco Chronicle PubDate: Wednesday, May 5, 1999 Page: A1 (Lead Story) URL: http://www.sfgate.com/ LTE: email@example.com (Newshawk note: Frank Viviano is a Chronicle Staff Writer who seems to be on permanent assignment in Eastern Europe, since long before the Kosovo eruption. He has been the author of several probing "insider" type articles and a few seris from the region over the pas couple of years. I did a quick search of a few other papers and none have picked up this story yet; certainly none seem to have given it the featured position it enjoys in this morning's Chronicle) *** KLA Linked To Enormous Heroin Trade Police suspect drugs helped finance revolt Frank Viviano, Chronicle Staff Writer Officers of the Kosovo Liberation Army and their backers, according to law enforcement authorities in Western Europe and the United States, are a major force in international organized crime, moving staggering amounts of narcotics through an underworld network that reaches into the heart of Europe. In the words of a November 1997 statement issued by Interpol, the international police agency, ``Kosovo Albanians hold the largest share of the heroin market in Switzerland, in Austria, in Belgium, in Germany, in Hungary, in the Czech Republic, in Norway and in Sweden.'' That the Albanians of Kosovo are victims of a conscious, ethnic- cleansing campaign set in motion by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is clear. But the credentials of some who claim to represent them are profoundly disturbing, say highly placed sources on both sides of the Atlantic. On March 25 -- the day after NATO's bombardment of Serb forces began -- drug enforcement experts from the Hague-based European Office of Police (EUROPOL), met in an emergency closed session devoted to ``Kosovar Narcotics Trafficking Networks.'' EUROPOL is preparing an extensive report for European justice and interior ministers on the KLA's role in heroin smuggling. Independent investigations of the charges are also under way in Sweden, Germany and Switzerland. ``We have intelligence leading us to believe that there could be a connection between drug money and the Kosovo Liberation Army,'' Walter Kege, head of the drug enforcement unit in the Swedish police intelligence service, told the London Times in late March. As long as four years ago, U.S. officials were concerned about alleged ties between narcotics syndicates and the People's Movement of Kosovo, a dissident political organization founded in 1982 that is now the KLA's political wing. A 1995 advisory by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration warned of the possibility ``that certain members of the ethnic Albanian community in the Serbian region of Kosovo have turned to drug trafficking in order to finance their separatist activities.'' If the drug-running allegations against the KLA are accurate, the group could join a rogues' gallery of former U.S. allies whose interests outside the battlefield brought deep embarrassment and domestic political turmoil to Washington. In 1944, the invading U.S. Army handed the reins of power in Sicily to local ``anti-fascists'' who were in fact Mafia leaders. During the next half century, American governments also turned a blind eye to, or collaborated with, the narcotics operations of Southeast Asian drug lords and Nicaraguan Contras who were allied with the United States in Indochina and Central America. In each case, the legacy of these partnerships ranged from global expansion of the power wielded by criminal syndicates, to divisive congressional inquiries at home and lasting suspicion of American intentions overseas. The involvement of ethnic Albanians in the drug trade is not exclusively Kosovar. It includes members of Albanian communities in Europe's three poorest countries or regions -- Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania -- where the appeal of narcotics trafficking is self-explanatory, even without a separatist war to fund. The average 1997 monthly salary in all three communities was less than $200. In Albania, it was less than $50. According to the Paris-based Geopolitical Drug Watch, which advises the governments of Britain and France on illegal narcotics operations, one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of heroin costs $8,300 in Albania, which lies at the western terminus of a ``Balkan Route'' that today accounts for up to 90 percent of the drug's exports to Europe from Southeast Asia and Turkey. Across the border from Albania in Greece, the same kilo of heroin can be sold for $30,000, yielding an instant profit equal to nine years' normal income in Macedonia and more than a third of a century in Albania or prebombardment Kosovo. The Balkan Route is a principal thoroughfare for an illicit drug traffic worth $400 billion annually, according to Interpol. Although only a small number of ethnic Albanian clans profit directly from the trade, their activities have cast a dark shadow on the entire Albanian world. There is a growing tendency among foreign observers, says former Albanian President Sali Berisha, ``to identify the criminal with the honest, the vandal with the civilized, the mafiosi with the nation.'' Those ethnic Albanians who have embraced the narcotics trade are extraordinarily aggressive. Albanian speakers comprise roughly 1 percent of Europe's 510 million people. In 1997, according to Interpol, they made up 14 percent of all European arrests for heroin trafficking. The average quantity of heroin confiscated per arrest, among all offenders, was less than two grams. Among Albanian-speakers, the figure was 120 grams (4.2 ounces). Until the war intervened, Kosovars were the acknowledged masters of the trade, credited with shoving aside the Turkish gangs that had long dominated narcotics trafficking along the Balkan Route, and effectively directing the ethnic Albanian network. Kosovar bosses ``orchestrated the traffic, regulated the rate and set the prices,'' according to journalist Leonardo Coen, who covers racketeering and organized crime in the Balkans for the Italian daily La Repubblica. ``The Kosovars had a 10-year head start on their cousins across the border, simply because their Yugoslav passports allowed them to travel earlier and much more widely than someone from communist Albania,'' said Michel Koutouzis, a senior researcher at Geopolitical Drug Watch who is regarded as Europe's leading expert on the Balkan Route. ``That allowed them to establish very efficient overseas networks through the worldwide Albanian diaspora -- and in the process, to forge ties with other underworld groups involved in the heroin trade, such as Chinese triads in Vancouver and Vietnamese in Australia,'' Koutouzis told The Chronicle. On assignments in Kosovo and Macedonia between 1992 and 1996, a Chronicle reporter frequently encountered groups of ethnic Albanian men -- ostentatiously dressed in designer clothing and driving luxury cars far beyond the normal means of their community -- at restaurants in the Macedonian capital of Skopje and near the Kosovo frontier. The men were quite willing to speak about politics, confirming that they were Kosovar, and asserting their determination to bring down Milosevic. But when asked how they earned their livings, they uniformly answered ``in business,'' declining to provide any details. The rise of Kosovar bosses to the pinnacle of the drug trade -- and the sudden, simultaneous appearance of the KLA -- dates from 1997, when the Berisha government fell in Albania amid nationwide rioting over a collapsed financial pyramid scheme that destroyed the savings of millions and wrecked the economy. In the unchecked looting that followed, the nation's armories were emptied of weapons, explosives and ammunition. In June 1997, Berisha was succeeded as president by Rexhep Mejdani, who unlike Berisha was openly sympathetic to a separatist rebellion in Kosovo. Last year, a NATO official in Brussels quoted by Radio Free Europe cited intelligence findings of ``the wholesale transfer of weapons to Kosovo'' in 1997, destabilizing the precarious balance between ethnic Albanians and Serbs in the province and undercutting the position of pacifist Kosovo leader Ibrahim Rugova in autonomy negotiations with Belgrade. A U.N. study found that at least 200,000 Kalashnikov automatic assault weapons stolen from Albanian military armories wound up in the KLA arsenal. So many, according to reliable sources, that KLA operatives were themselves exporting guns to overseas black markets at the start of 1999. In effect, the KLA's armed insurgency, escalating at a time when U.S. and Western European diplomats were seeking a peaceful solution to the crisis, provided a pretext for Milosevic to press for a nationalist solution to the Kosovo problem. Then came the failed Rambouillet talks, the NATO bombing decision, and with it what Koutouzis calls ``the militarization'' of the Kosovar drug trade. ``Narcotics trafficking has been a permanent part of the Kosovo picture for a long time. The question is where the profits go,'' Koutouzis said. ``When Rugova held sway and the object was a peaceful settlement, the drug proceeds of Kosovo clans were at least invested in growth, in things like better housing and health care. It was a form of social taxation in a sense, and the more illegal the activities, the more that their `businessmen' were expected to pay.'' But with the outbreak of war, Koutouzis adds, ``the investment is only in destruction -- and the KLA's first effort was to destroy the influence of Rugova, and no one in the West did much to help him.'' Nonetheless, NATO military officers and diplomats have always been troubled by the murky origins and financing of the KLA, which materialized for the first time in Kosovo on Nov. 28, 1997, outfitted in expensive Swiss-manufactured uniforms and equipped with the purloined Albanian Kalashnikovs. The mistrust is reciprocated. According to Veton Surroi, the widely respected editor of Kosovo's Albanian-language daily newspaper Koha Ditore, U.S. negotiator Richard Holbrooke had a Kalashnikov held to his head when he arrived for a meeting with KLA officers during one of his shuttle missions to Kosovo. As recently as February 25, U.S. Ambassador Chris Hill, another of the negotiators, said, ``The KLA must understand that its members have a future as members of political parties or local police forces, but not in the continuation of armed struggle.'' The eruption of war changed almost everything. Since the bombing campaign opened, NATO has had little alternative but to rely on the KLA for intelligence. Its guerrilla units inside Kosovo are the only eyewitness sources of information on Serb troop movements. Solid intelligence about the KLA itself is nearly impossible to nail down. NATO estimates put its forces at 15,000. Avdija Ramadom, the organization's official spokesman, claims that the KLA has more than 50,000 men. In addition to alleged drug receipts, the group is said to be funded by a war tax of 3 percent imposed by the People's Movement of Kosovo on the earnings of 500,000 ethnic Albanian emigrants in Western Europe, a population that is soaring with the immense exodus of refugees. Half of the prewar immigrants have settled in Germany, according to the International Migration Organization, and a third in Switzerland. A single fund-raising evening in Switzerland earlier this year is believed to have raised $7 million from ethnic Albanian immigrants, much of it earmarked for the KLA struggle against Serbia. (c)1999 San Francisco Chronicle Page A1 -------------------------------------------------------------------
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