Deputy Tyler Mason Gets No Jail Time for Trying to Smuggle Pot Edibles Into Jail

Reading from the Voice Media empire: Former sheriff’s deputy Tyler Mason is currently on probation after taking a plea deal following accusations that he’d attempted to smuggle marijuana edibles into the jail where he worked. Westword has the story.

The post Deputy Tyler Mason Gets No Jail Time for Trying to Smuggle Pot Edibles Into Jail appeared first on True Crime Report.

Reading from the Voice Media empire: Former sheriff’s deputy Tyler Mason is currently on probation after taking a plea deal following accusations that he’d attempted to smuggle marijuana edibles into the jail where he worked. Westword has the story.

The post Deputy Tyler Mason Gets No Jail Time for Trying to Smuggle Pot Edibles Into Jail appeared first on True Crime Report.

from http://www.truecrimereport.com

Amid Opioid Crisis, How Drug Industry Defeated DEA

Last year, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the streets, the Washington Post and “60 Minutes” report.

In April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress  stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets, the Washington Post and “Sixty Minutes” report. The opioid war had claimed 200,000 lives, more than three times the number of U.S. military deaths in the Vietnam War. Overdose deaths continue to rise. A few members of Congress, allied with major drug distributors, prevailed on the the Justice Department to agree to a more industry-friendly law, undermining efforts to stanch the flow of pain pills. The DEA had opposed the effort for years.

The law was the “crowning achievement of a multifaceted campaign by the drug industry to weaken aggressive DEA enforcement efforts against drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market,” say the Post and “60 Minutes.” The industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and key members of Congress, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns. The chief advocate of the law that hobbled the DEA was Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), President Trump’s nominee to become the next drug czar. Marino spent years trying to move the law through Congress. It passed after Sen. Orrin G. Hatch  (R-UT) negotiated a final version with the DEA. The new law makes it virtually impossible for the DEA to freeze suspicious narcotic shipments from the firms according to federal documents and an independent assessment by the DEA’s chief administrative law judge in a soon-to-be-published law review article.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Some Defend Controversial OK Work Camp

Ex-participants filed suit, charging that Christian Alcoholics and Addicts in Recovery violates labor laws, but The Tulsa County drug court says it is the most effective rehab center available.

The controversial Christian Alcoholics and Addicts In Recovery (CAAIR) in Oklahoma describes itself as a long-term addiction recovery program for men. It is not a licensed treatment center. It does not accept people with serious mental or physical problems or with histories of violence or sex crimes. CAAIR emphasizes a structured environment, the 12-step regime of the Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous organizations, and Bible study, the Tulsa World reports. Most CAAIR participants are low-level criminal offenders placed there by Oklahoma drug courts. In many cases, offenders have violated the conditions of their drug court sentences and are given the choice between CAAIR and incarceration.

CAAIR does not charge its “clients” but it does require them to work, usually at nearby businesses, government entities and nonprofit agencies. The clients are not paid, but CAAIR is. Three former clients filed a federal class-action lawsuit against CAAIR, alleging violations of state and federal labor laws, breach of contract, fraud, civil rights violations, human trafficking and personal enrichment. The suit is connected to stories by the news organization Reveal, which described CAAIR as a forced labor camp that exploits its clients while offering little to help them overcome addiction. “It’s got to be illegal,” said Michael Wilburn, a former client. Others who have gone through the CAAIR program or have sent people to CAAIR fiercely defend it. Tulsa County’s drug court administrators say it is the most effective rehabilitation center at their disposal. A public defender from western Oklahoma says state-run programs “are basically worthless with very minimal success rates. … Compared to the other programs available, CAAIR has the best success rate, bar none.” Robert Bissell, who graduated from the program 18 months ago, says CAAIR turned his life around.

from https://thecrimereport.org

How Fentanyl Comes from China to Baltimore

U.S. authorities are intercepting increasing amounts of fentanyl, but they’ve been unable to make much of a dent in the trade. “It’s kind of the new Wild West,” said Katherine Tobin, a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

In a laboratory somewhere in China, a chemist is producing the fentanyl that will kill an opioid user in Maryland. Within China’s vast drug industry, which produces much of the global supply of pharmaceutical ingredients, laboratories are taking advantage of cheap labor and lax oversight from Beijing to churn out new versions of the cheap, powerful and often deadly synthetic opioid faster than U.S. authorities can identify, classify and ban them, the Baltimore Sun reports. From China, the drug is sent daily by plane or ship to Mexico, where traffickers and truckers push it along well-worn paths of illicit narcotics north. In Baltimore and other cities, well-established gangs push the powder and pills to consumers. This much is known by U.S. authorities. They’re intercepting increasing amounts of fentanyl. But they’ve been unable to make much of a dent in the trade.

“It’s kind of the new Wild West,” said Katherine Tobin, a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The government panel helped outline the route for Congress. Deployed to stop the supply are more U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspectors, better customs technology and undercover Drug Enforcement Administration interference. There’s also been some cooperation from Chinese authorities. No one knows how much gets by until it lands in cities such as Baltimore, where record numbers of people are overdosing and dying. Fentanyl, often mixed with or mistaken for heroin, but 50 times more powerful, is Baltimore’s deadliest killer. Fentanyl deaths in Maryland leapt from 186 in 2014, when the drug began appearing in volume, to more than 1,100 last year — one of the largest jumps in the nation. Overdoses linked to fentanyl pushed overall drug- and alcohol-related deaths last year above 2,000 in Maryland and 60,000 across the U.S., making intoxication the leading cause of death for Americans under age 50.

from https://thecrimereport.org

More Murder Charges Filed in Opioid Overdose Deaths

At least 19 states have laws allowing for “drug-induced homicide” charges, says the Drug Policy Alliance. Gathering evidence in such cases can be difficult.

Daniel Goodrum, 33, died last year in Memphis of a drug overdose, and two people are charged with killing him by unlawfully distributing the heroin. Amid a growing opioid crisis, the case is one of a number of prosecutions in Tennessee in which murder charges have been brought against people suspected of supplying  deadly drug doses, reports the USA Today Network. There are drug-induced homicide laws also in Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, says the Drug Policy Alliance.

Gathering evidence to bring charges after a person dies of an opioid overdose can be a challenge, says Nashville Police Lt. Carlos Lara. Investigations require backtracking because often overdose victims are found alone. The effort can run into hurdles erected by silence by others with drug addictions who fear speaking out and getting into trouble. “They need to know if you sell something and somebody dies, you can be held accountable,” he said. “And you can be held accountable for their death … We’re hoping it’ll make them think twice about dealing these drugs.” He sees the murder charge, as opposed to a drug distribution charge, as another way to combat the opioid crisis.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Men Sue Over ‘Slave Labor’ in OK Drug Rehab Camps

Three Oklahoma men filed a federal class-action lawsuit alleging that they were modern-day slaves forced by a drug rehabilitation program to work for free in chicken processing plants. The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal reported that judges across the U.S. have ordered defendants into rehab programs that double as work camps for for-profit companies.

Three Oklahoma men filed a federal class-action lawsuit Tuesday alleging that they were modern-day slaves forced by a drug rehabilitation program to work for free in chicken processing plants, reports the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal. Reveal reported last week that judges across the U.S. have ordered defendants into rehab programs that double as work camps for for-profit companies. The investigation focused on Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery, or CAAIR, an Oklahoma program that puts hundreds of men a year to work slaughtering chickens at processing plants owned by Simmons Foods Inc. The men work for free, under constant threat of prison, on products for big-name brands, including Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, KFC and Rachael Ray’s Nutrish pet food. The rehab program keeps their wages.

“By defrauding these men and providing virtual slave labor for a private corporation, CAAIR and Simmons are not only violating longstanding labor laws, they are violating basic standards of human decency and the core concepts underpinning our constitutional democracy,” said the firm that filed suit, Smolen, Smolen & Roytman. The men are seeking more than $5 million. The complaint alleges violations of state and federal labor laws, which require employers to pay employees at least minimum wage and overtime for their work. The men at CAAIR made nothing. The few who graduated from the one-year program were eligible for a $1,000 gift. The lawsuit alleges that the program violates the 13th Amendment ban on slave labor and involuntary servitude. It says the program constitutes human trafficking under Oklahoma state law and accuses CAAIR of committing fraud by not providing men with drug and alcohol rehabilitation services they were promised. Janet Wilkerson, a founders of CAAIR and a former poultry company executive, said that the men’s wages go toward the cost of the program, including paying for their housing, food and classes.

from https://thecrimereport.org

How Congress Could Start a War On Pot

Congress may overturn or let expire a section of federal law that prohibits the Justice Department from spending even a cent to prosecute medical marijuana users and sellers operating legally under state laws.

The 85 words seemed an afterthought when Congress hurriedly crammed them into a massive budget bill late in the Obama administration, as if lawmakers wanted to acknowledge that the nation’s outlook on marijuana had changed, but not make a big deal of it, the Chicago Tribune reports. Almost three years later, a multibillion-dollar industry and the freedom of millions to openly partake in its products without fear of federal prosecution hinge on that budget clause. Congress may throw it overboard amid pressure from an attorney general who views marijuana as a dangerous menace. What has become known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment prohibits the Justice Department from spending even a cent to prosecute medical marijuana users and sellers operating legally under state laws. Since its passage, it has largely shut down efforts by federal drug enforcement officials to interfere with otherwise legal sales of marijuana in 29 states and the District of Columbia that have passed legalization measures.

The prospect that the ban on prosecutions could expire has spread anxiety across the marijuana industry. In California, the freedom of an attorney facing jail time for advising a marijuana operation hangs in the balance. Pot sellers and patients wonder if federal raids are next. “It is shocking to think that this is at risk,” said Sarah Trumble of Third Way, a centrist think tank that advocates easing federal restrictions on cannabis. “This would give the attorney general a blank check to go after medical marijuana. Without it, he might try, but it would be really hard for him.” In September, the House balked at preserving the amendment. The Senate has reaffirmed its support for the provision, but both houses must agree for the measure to remain in effect.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Costs for Taxpayers Rise in Opioid Epidemic

Eleven counties across Ohio have levies on the November ballot to support the social service agencies that have become overwhelmed by the epidemic. County administrators expect more levies on ballots in the next few years.

If you think the opioid crisis has nothing to do with you, consider that the public already is paying for it and the price tag is growing, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reportsEleven counties across Ohio have levies on the November ballot to support the social service agencies that have become overwhelmed by the epidemic. County administrators expect more levies on ballots in the next few years. “Children services costs are exploding around the state,” said Brad Cole of the County Commissioners’ Association of Ohio. “The avalanche of kids coming into the system [because of the opioid crisis] is out-stripping the funds that counties have.” With the increase in synthetic opioids, which are far deadlier than heroin alone, the crisis and its fallout is growing worse, causing more counties to go to voters for help. When that happens, voters will realize that the costs for services are soaring.

Jails across the state are already paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for withdrawal medications for inmates with opioid addictions. Besides staff overtime, medical expenses in jails – driven by the crisis – are one of the fastest growing costs for counties. “And who pays for that? The taxpayers do, and many don’t realize that we have to spend so much money for it,” said Lt. Marc Churchill of the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Department. His county, with a population of about 151,000, is southeast of Columbus. The county pays about $45,000 a year for medication-assisted treatments, such as Vivitrol, a drug that fights a user’s cravings for opioids. In Cuyahoga County, jail officials estimate it costs more than $185,000 a year for similar medications. Many county jails contract with private or public agencies to provide medical and mental health services for inmates.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Opioid Epidemic Getting Worse, U.S. Officials Say

Public health officials tell senators that the addiction crisis has spiraled so far out of control that it is far beyond the scope of any one agency to address. “We need all hands on deck,” said Dr. Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health.

A top public health official warned Thursday that the nation’s opioid epidemic is showing no signs of abating. “It is one of the few public health problems that is getting worse instead of better,” said Dr. Debra Houry of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the USA Today Network reports. Public health officials described an addiction crisis that has spiraled so out of control that it is far beyond the scope of any one agency to address. “We need all hands on deck,” said Dr. Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health. Officials from four federal health agencies delivered their dire assessment at the first in a series of hearings before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “The opioid crisis is tearing our communities apart, tearing families apart, and posing an enormous challenge to health providers and law enforcement officials,” said committee chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

More than 300,000 Americans have died of an opioid overdose since 2000. There were at least 64,000 deaths in 2016, the highest number recorded in a single year. Federal agencies have undertaken steps to help deal with the problem. They include new programs to improve access to treatment, mobilize resources to increase the availability and quality of long-term recovery, and target high-risk individuals such as pregnant women and jail and prison inmates. Democrats charged that the Trump administration has delayed critical steps that could provide relief to families suffering from opioid addiction. The administration has proposed slashing the budget for substance abuse and mental health programs, allowed the Justice Department to treat addiction as a criminal justice issue and attempted to end the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, which would eliminate insurance coverage for millions with substance abuse disorders, said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

from https://thecrimereport.org

Some ‘Diversion’ Courts Send Defendants to Captive Labor

In the rush to spare people from prison, some judges are steering defendants into rehabs that are little more than lucrative work camps for private industry, reports the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal. Programs promise freedom from addiction. Instead, they’ve turned thousands of men and women into indentured servants.

Judges increasingly are sending defendants to rehab instead of prison or jail. Diversion courts have become the bedrock of criminal justice reform, aiming to transform lives and ease overcrowded prisons. In the rush to spare people from prison, some judges are steering defendants into rehabs that are little more than lucrative work camps for private industry, reports the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal. Programs promise freedom from addiction. Instead, they’ve turned thousands of men and women into indentured servants. The beneficiaries of these programs span the U.S., from Fortune 500 companies to factories and local businesses. The defendants may work at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Oklahoma, a construction firm in Alabama, a nursing home in North Carolina.

Perhaps no rehab better exemplifies this allegiance to big business than Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery (CAAIR) in Oklahoma. It was started in 2007 by chicken company executives struggling to find workers. By forming a Christian rehab, they could supply plants with a cheap and captive labor force. At “the Chicken Farm,” a rural retreat where defendants stay for a year, they are supposed to get addiction treatment and learn to live more productive lives.  There isn’t much substance abuse treatment at CAAIR. About 200 men live on a sprawling, grassy compound in northeastern Oklahoma, and most work full time at Simmons Foods Inc., a company with annual revenue of $1.4 billion. They slaughter and process chickens for some large retailers and restaurants, including Walmart, KFC and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. Simmons Foods is so reliant on CAAIR for some shifts that the plants likely would shut down if the men didn’t show up. Men in the CAAIR program said their hands became gnarled after days spent hanging thousands of chickens from metal shackles.

from https://thecrimereport.org