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Entries in Drugs (35)

Thursday
Mar212013

Teen Burn Victim Arrested on Drug Charges

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- Michael Brewer, who was set on fire by three teens in 2009, has been arrested on felony and misdemeanor drug charges.

Brewer was stopped by Florida Highway Patrol on Wednesday after running a red light and was found with marijuana, crack-cocaine, oxycodone and drug paraphernalia in his possession.  Thursday morning, he faced a judge in Palm Beach County court and was given a $6,000 bond.  He was released and, according to the Miami Herald, was warned to “stay out of trouble” and undergo random drug testing.

Brewer was in the news in 2009 when  he was attacked by three teens who poured alcohol on him and set him on fire.  He was able to run away and jump into a nearby pool, but suffered second and third-degree burns to 65 percent of his body.  Brewer nearly died and was in a medically induced coma for three weeks. Then he endured numerous skin graft surgeries and months of rehabilitation.

The teens responsible for the attack were convicted and sentenced to 8-11 years behind bars.

Brewer, 18, now finds himself facing charges.

According to the arrest report, Trooper M.N. Vasconcelos saw the van that Brewer was driving make a U-turn on a red light and pulled the vehicle over. The report notes when the trooper approached the vehicle he, “smelled a strong odor of raw marijuana” coming from inside.

After asking Brewer to step out of the vehicle, the report reads, “a zip-lock plastic bag containing a green leafy substance fell on the ground, followed by a brown pill container, containing little white rocks.”  The report states the substances were field-tested and were positive for marijuana and crack-cocaine. Also found in the car, according to the report, were 14 glass pipes, a glass bong, empty pill containers, a grinder, cigarette papers, a straw and a pocket knife.

There were three teens in the van with Brewer at the time of the traffic stop, ages 19, 16 and 15.  None of them were arrested or charged with any crimes.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb152013

'Blue Fairy' Arrested in New York Drug Bust 

YouTube(NEW YORK) -- A 22-year-old woman who dressed like a fairy-winged Tinkerbell for an online rap video about prescription drug abuse was peddling more than pixie dust, according to New York City police.

Sharissa Turk was one of 32 people arrested this week in an operation that targeted what authorities called a "loosely affiliated" network of drug dealers on Staten Island.

Turk sold Oxycodone to an NYPD undercover officer on three separate occasions, police said.  Turk, who was arrested Thursday at the Edible Arrangements store where she works, was charged with three counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree.

As part of the investigation, police seized Oxycodone, Vicodin, Xanax, heroin and cocaine, along with guns and $17,000 cash from a dozen different locations.

Turk appears in a YouTube video by White Trash Clan titled "My World is Blue" dancing in a blue tutu and fairy wings and carrying a wand.  She blows pixie dust at the camera and mimes drug use.

The video, posted in July 2012, shows people dancing in parking lots and pharmacies with giant cutouts of blue pills and rhapsodizing about prescription drug abuse: "I can stop when I want to / I'm not addicted / I don't take pills / crush and sniff it / Blue is my world in this life how I live it / Come out to Staten Island, pay a little visit."

On Thursday, viewers of the video were clearly aware of the arrest, and posted abusive comments.

"Good job you idiots!" said one. "Way to advertise.  Now you're really blue."

Someone using the YouTube account from which the video was first posted responded to the critics: "Yo .. . we did this video to raise awareness of a serious problem on Staten Island.  I ain't touched one of those pills in years.  Peace."

The video ends with a message on the screen that says, "The White Trash Clan does NOT encourage the use of drugs."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec142012

Head of 9/11 Hijackers’ Flight School Faces Drug Running Charges

Kevin Horan/Stone(NEW YORK) -- The man who ran the flight school that unwittingly trained two of the 9/11 hijackers now sits behind bars, accused of drug smuggling and offering his illicit services to an undercover federal officer.

Rudi Dekkers, a Danish national who used to run the Florida flight school Huffman Aviation, came to the attention of federal authorities in October when he was introduced to an undercover federal officer as an associate of suspected drug smuggling kingpin Arturo Astorquiza, according to Texas court documents. 

Though Astorquiza was the target of the federal operation, Dekkers allegedly told the undercover officer in their first meeting that he “was involved in narcotics transportation via private aircraft and that he [had] flown narcotics and U.S. currency previously without any problems.”

After Astorquiza was arrested, the documents say Dekkers reached out to the undercover officer and offered his services directly.  Federal investigators then began tailing Dekkers and eventually arrested him in early December when it appeared he was about to make a drug run for another customer.

The arrest comes more than a decade after Dekkers found himself in the national spotlight in the days after terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes and used them to kill nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2011. 

Federal investigators quickly identified Dekkers’ school, Huffman Aviation, as the location where two of the hijackers, Mohamed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi, earned their instrument certificates from the Federal Aviation Administration.  Atta and al-Shehhi were the men at the controls of the planes that flew into New York’s World Trade Center buildings.

In an interview with ABC News in 2001, Dekkers said the men were unfriendly, but he didn’t think there was anything suspicious about them.

Because of his fleeting connection to the 9/11 hijackers, the years after the attack proved difficult for Dekkers as he described in his memoir Guilt by Association.  He reportedly said in the book he received death threats and that people suspected he was somehow complicit in the attack.

In a recent interview with a local Fox News affiliate, Dekkers was asked if he thought he would ever outlive the shadow of 9/11.

“Yeah,” he said.  “When I die.”

Dekkers has been charged with intent to distribute five kilos or more of cocaine and 100 grams or more of heroin.  A Texas judge ordered he be held without bond, as the court said there was a “serious risk that the defendant will flee.”

Dekkers’ public defender did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this report.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec122012

Drug Smugglers Shoot Drugs Across US/Mexico Border with Cannon

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(YUMA, Ariz.) -- Drug smugglers continue to show creativity in inventing new ways of getting drugs across the U.S. border from Mexico.

Border Patrol agents say they believe a pneumatic cannon was used to launch dozens of containers of marijuana over the border and 500 feet into Arizona on Friday.  Eighty-five pounds of marijuana -- tucked into soup cans and then inserted into larger sealed containers -- were found in a field near the Colorado River in San Luis, Ariz.

After searching the surrounding area, agents spotted the carbon dioxide tank used to power the cannon that propelled the containers into U.S. territory.  The smugglers launched the drug-filled projectiles from a position in a brushy area immediately south of the border fence.  According to authorities, an accomplice was probably supposed to collect the containers but did not show up in time.

The contraband was discovered by a concerned citizen in a plowed field just northwest of San Luis before the U.S counterpart could collect it.  After the Border Patrol was notified and searched the field, Mexican authorities also inspected their side of the border, but no arrests have been made.

"Because of our progress in targeting and obstructing movement, they can no longer just walk across the border," Linwood Estes, a Border Patrol Agent in Yuma, Ariz., told ABC News.  "The more and more successful we are, the more and more unique they become in trying to get the drugs across."

Around two pounds of marijuana were packed into each soup can.  The contraband had an estimated value of $42,500 and is scheduled for destruction.

While this specific technique is new to the Yuma area, Mexican pot smugglers have a track record of innovative tactics to sneak their drugs across the border.

In October, two creative bandits attempted to drive a car over the border fence by using a makeshift ramp just 20 miles west of Yuma.  When the SUV became stuck on the fence, the men fled the scene before Border Patrol officers arrived.

In 2011, National Guard surveillance video caught drug smugglers using a medieval-style catapult to launch bales of marijuana across the border near Naco, Ariz.  Mexican officials recovered the catapult after it was abandoned, and said the device was capable of launching packages weighing two kilograms.

Underground tunnels and ultra light aircraft have also been used in the past year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct232012

UNC Professor Held in Argentina on Drug Charges Wants Raise from University

University North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor Paul Frampton is seen in this undated photo. (Paul Frampton)(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- A 68-year-old physics professor who has spent the past 10 months in an Argentine jail cell awaiting trial on drug charges has asked the University of North Carolina to give him a raise.

Paul Frampton, who is embroiled in litigation with the university to have his $107,000 salary reinstated while he is in prison, made his case in a letter to Provost Bruce Carney that he should also be paid twice as much.

"This is another example of his chutzpah," said Mark Williams, a UNC math professor. "Most people would think its crazy for a man in prison to ask for a raise, but if you look closely, he has a good case."

The physicist, who said he fell victim to a con artist in Argentina, wrote that he ranks 18th out of 28 professors in his department in terms of pay, despite the fact he is the department's most-cited author.

Frampton has not received a paycheck since March 1, when the university placed him on leave. Under university policy, nine-month faculty members, such as Frampton, are eligible for up to 60 calendar days of paid leave per year.

"Professor Frampton remains a valued member of the faculty, and we hope he can and will return to campus to resume his duties when his personal circumstances permit," UNC spokeswoman Karen Moon told ABC News. She declined to comment on Frampton's request for a raise, citing the ongoing litigation.

The tenured professor has been awaiting trial since his Jan. 23 arrest, when authorities at the airport in Buenos Aires found 2 kilograms of cocaine in the lining of his luggage.

Frampton claims he fell into a "honey trap," and had been visiting the country to meet up with a bikini model he met online. Instead, the professor came into contact with a man acting as an intermediary, who asked him to carry the model's empty suitcase.

Supporters, such as Williams, who has known Frampton for 27 years, said they believe the professor was duped.

"He has been known to show terrible judgment in many situations," Williams said. "He's excessively naive and possibly pathologically naive for a person his age."

As he awaits trial in Argentina, the decorated physicist has continued his research in the overcrowded Villa Devoto prison in Buenos Aires.

During his time in prison, Frampton has remained "extremely productive," Williams said. The professor has written at least three articles, one of which has been published in a leading physics journal, and his citations have increased significantly, according to Williams.

"I think some people are going to be offended by Paul asking for a raise," Williams said. "The important thing is even if Paul had not been in prison, he would still have an extremely strong argument. His salary is a disgrace, and it needs to be corrected."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct172012

Airline Employee Sentenced to Life for Role in Drug-Smuggling Ring

United States Attorney's Office(NEW YORK) -- A former American Airlines baggage handler was sentenced on Tuesday to life in prison for his role in leading a vast, multi-million dollar drug-smuggling ring known as the "Bourne Organization" and using the airline as his "personal narcotics shuttle service," federal officials said.

The Department of Justice said that Victor Bourne, a Barbadian national, had been convicted of leading a group that smuggled as much as 150 kilograms of cocaine from the Caribbean through New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport over nearly 10 years.

In the far-reaching scheme, federal officials said the Bourne Organization would pay off airline crew chiefs to make sure its own crooked baggage handlers oversaw certain shipments.  On the flights, the drugs were hidden behind panels in the cargo holds, in the ceiling and wing assembly, in the aircraft's avionics and in "other vital equipment compartments," the Department of Justice said.  To get the drugs out of the airport, employees would hide them in their clothing and then deliver the narcotics to Bourne.

Bourne was arrested in 2009 and the investigation into the organization led to the conviction of 19 other airline employees who were in on the scheme, the seizure of nearly 3,000 pounds of marijuana and the forfeiture of $6.9 million.

"Using his insider status, Bourne turned American Airlines into his personal narcotics shuttle service," U.S. attorney Loretta Lynch said in a press release, "running a criminal organization that ignored passenger safety and security in pursuit of their greater goal -- enriching Victor Bourne."

Bourne was brought down at trial by six witnesses, all former American Airline employees, who had pled guilty to their own narcotics trafficking charges.

American Airlines declined to comment for this report.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep272012

Cops Used Traffic Ticket to Force Woman Into Drug Buys, Lawyer Claims

ABC News/KTRK(FRIENDSWOOD, Texas) -- A woman in a small Texas town is alleging that police who pulled her over for a traffic ticket coerced her into making undercover drug buys to avoid paying the traffic fine, and threatened to reveal her role when she tried to back out of the arrangement.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous because she fears retribution from dealers, was pulled over for making an illegal lane change in the town Friendswood on Aug. 22, her attorney Dane Johnson told ABC News.

The officer who pulled her over found a glass pipe and the prescription medication Suboxone, which Johnson says she has a prescription for.  She was given tickets for an out of date registration and for not having proof of insurance with her, records show.

She was then arrested, taken to the police station and strip searched, her attorney alleges.

"The police seemed to think she was a drug dealer, and threatened to call Child Protective Services if she didn't cooperate," Johnson said.  "This is a single mother with no criminal record, and they wouldn't let her call anyone to go look after her child for the four hours she was at the station."

While being held police offered her a deal: perform three controlled drug buys instead of paying the fines, the lawyer said.  Her attorney told ABC News she had never bought drugs before, but agreed to do it to get out of the citations.

"I had two choices.  They were either going to arrest me, or I could agree to do some controlled buys," she told ABC News affiliate KTRK-TV.

The Friendswood Police Department wouldn't comment to ABC News on the story.  County Manager Nick Haby said, "Because it is a pending criminal investigation it is our policy not to discuss it with the media at this time."  He would not say what was under investigation.

County prosecutors in two adjoining counties said they were unaware of the case.

But the woman's lawyer provided copies of text messages to ABC News supporting her claim that she was made to make a drug buy and was threatened with having her role revealed when she became afraid to make any more purchases.

Text messages that appear to be between the woman and a Friendswood detective show the planning in advance of the drug deal.

The woman's attorney said they are fighting the two traffic tickets, but have not yet decided whether to take legal action against the police department.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug312012

Washington Woman Forces 10-Year-Old Son to Burglarize Home for Drug Money

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LYNNWOOD, Wash.) -- They are a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde, only with a twist.

A Lynnwood, Wash., woman was arrested Tuesday for allegedly coercing her 10-year-old son to burglarize homes so that she could buy drugs with the money.

Lynnwood Police told ABC affiliate KOMO that 33-year-old Marie Shafique forced her son to slither through an open window to try and rob a home. However, she didn’t know she was being watched by neighbors across the street and by a security camera that caught the whole incident on tape.

The homeowner, Michelle Geronimo, was inside her house when the boy allegedly tried to break in and told KOMO the boy was “peering inside” her window, which was “wide open.”

“I was just shocked that it was a little boy, and when you figure out what’s going on, it’s sad,” she said.

Shafique and her son tried to get away, but Lynnwood police apprehended her. When she was found, she was in possession of crack cocaine and a stolen computer.

She was arrested and bail was set for $25,000. Shafique is currently facing burglary and identity theft charges.

Rodeo Inn-Lynnwood manager Steve, who did not want to disclose his last name, confirmed to ABC News that Shafique had been living in a filthy motel room with her four young children and four dogs.

“It was pretty trashed. There was garbage everywhere and it was nasty,” he said.

Another hotel manager for the Rodeo Inn-Lynnwood Maria Santana told KOMO Shafique was staying at the hotel to get away from a bad relationship.

“She said, ‘I don’t have a lot of money, but I’m working for my kids,’” Santana said.

Santana said a nearby woman’s shelter paid some of the hotel costs. Steve, the hotel manager, said her boyfriend called to say he would come by sometime Friday to pay the remaining balance.

Shafique’s four children are currently in the care of their father.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug162012

Feds: Here’s $100M, Now Catch Those Drug Smuggling Ultralights

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is spending big -- just under $100 million -- to combat drug smugglers who use small aircraft worth only a few thousand dollars each to ferry narcotics into the U.S.

Last week the CBP awarded SRCTec, a New York-based research and development company, a $99,955,087 contract for a real-time detection system that is specifically designed to pick out ultralight aircraft, slow-speed rudimentary manned planes that have a very small radar signature, on America’s southern border.

The contract award ended a year-long search for a way to spot ultralights loaded with narcotics -- a tactic lawmakers said is being employed more and more in recent years by drug smugglers hoping to buzz back and forth over border fences undetected. Ultralights are easy-to-use aircraft -- often little more than an airframe and engine -- that can be bought online or constructed at home from kits for a few thousand dollars. They also don't require a pilot’s license.

In May 2011, The Los Angeles Times reported that in the previous fiscal year, ultralights -- sometimes with armed pilots -- had entered U.S. borders illegally at least 228 times, double the number compared to the year before that.

One man died in 2008 when his ultralight crashed into a lettuce field in Arizona, according to the CBP. Nearly 150 lbs. of marijuana was found with the downed aircraft. A year later CBP managed to spot an ultralight using their current radar and followed it to its own crash elsewhere in Arizona. In that case, CBP said the pilot managed to escape but two others believed to be involved were arrested and another 275 lbs. of pot was confiscated -- worth an estimated $220,000 on the street.

In 2010, the military reported two F-16s had been scrambled by NORAD to chase down an ultralight near the Arizona border. The fighter jets -- capable of flying 1,500 miles per hour -- reportedly shadowed the ultralight -- which generally has a top speed around 60 miles per hour -- for 30 minutes before the ultralight decided to head back into Mexican airspace.

The ultralight’s use by smugglers has become so ubiquitous that Congress recently updated its definition of “aircraft” to include ultralights and, therefore, make those caught smuggling drugs with them subject to the same penalties as other aircraft under the Tariff Act of 1930. The new legislation, known as the Ultralight Aircraft Smuggling Prevention Act of 2012, was the last bill sponsored by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., before she resigned from Congress after surviving an apparent assassination attempt last January.

“The use of ultralight vehicles is yet another example of the extreme measures drug smugglers will use to get drugs into the United States,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, said after the bill passed the Senate.

Ultralights were also feared to have been part of an alleged terror plot uncovered in Spain earlier this month. In that case, three men were arrested before the plot could get off the ground. Authorities said two of them had been practicing flying ultralights and small drones.

The CBP contract winner, SRC Tec, lists what it calls the VantagePoint system under its products. According to the company’s website, VantagePoint can, “detect and track people, vehicles, and low and slow aircraft, such as  [unmanned aircraft systems] and ultralights.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug012012

California Man in Custody After Meth Found in Fake Snickers Bars

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- A California man is in custody after authorities said they found $250,000-worth of meth hidden inside 45 individually-wrapped candy bars in his checked bags.

Rogelio Mauricio Harris, 34, was arrested Friday by ICE agents at Los Angeles International Airport as he prepared to board a flight to Japan.

During a routine baggage inspection, agents with Customs and Border Protection found a cellophane-wrapped box of nearly four dozen candy bars, according to authorities.  The candy bars, which were disguised as Snickers, were filled with approximately 1,600 grams, or a little over 4 pounds, of methamphetamine.  Officials with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) said they believe the contraband would have sold for as much as $250,000 in Japan.

"The box appeared to be professionally wrapped," said Lee Harty, a CBP spokesperson.

Harty said CBP officers noticed something was off when the box of candy bars seemed to weigh more than normal.  When officials applied pressure to one of the candy bars, "it did not budge," she said.  Once cracked in half, authorities found the chocolate-like exterior was filled with a white substance, which was later determined to be methamphetamine.

Harris is charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.  If he is found guilty, he faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison.

"This seizure is a great example of the enforcement work that CBP officers perform every day at our ports of entry, to not only keep illegal contraband and illegal criminal proceeds from entering the country, but from leaving the country as well," said Todd Owen, CBP director of field operations in Los Angeles.  

Other recent smuggling attempts have involved concealing contraband in Easter eggs, snack food bags, and cans of refried beans.

"The fact that this ruse was detected should serve as a deterrent for others who might be considering trying similar tactics to conceal dangerous contraband," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of HSI Los Angeles.

Businessweek has ranked Snickers as the fourth most popular candy bar by sales in the U.S., and the manufacturer of the candy bar, Mars Inc., calls it the best-selling candy bar in the world on its website.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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