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2016: People Still Killed in US Drug War at the Rate of One a Week [FEATURE]

Drug War Chronicle - Mon, 01/02/2017 - 21:20

With 2016 now behind us, it's time for some year-end accounting, and when it comes to fatalities related to drug law enforcement, that accounting means tallying up the bodies. The good news is that drug war deaths are down slightly from last year; the bad news is that people are still being killed at the rate of about once a week, as has been the norm in recent years. There were 49 people killed in the drug war last year.

[image:1 align:left]This is the sixth year that Drug War Chronicle has tallied drug war deaths. There were 54 in 2011, 63 in 2012, 41 in 2013, 39 in 2014, and 56 in 2015, That's an average of just a hair under one a week during the past six years.

The Chronicle's tally only include deaths directly related to US domestic drug law enforcement operations -- full-fledged, door-busting, pre-dawn SWAT raids, to traffic stops turned drug busts, to police buy-bust operations. Some of the deaths are by misadventure, not gunshot, including several people who died after ingesting drugs in a bid to avoid getting busted and two law enforcement officers who separately dropped dead while.

Many of those killed either brandished a weapon or actually shot at police officers, demonstrating once again that attempting to enforce drug prohibition in a society rife with weapons is a recipe for trouble. Some of those were homeowners wielding weapons against middle-of-the-night intruders who they may or may not have known were police.

But numerous others were killed in their vehicles by police who claimed suspects were trying to run them down and feared for their lives when they opened fire. Could those people have been merely trying to flee from the cops? Or were they really ready to kill police to go to avoid going to jail on a drug charge?

Which is not to understate the dangers to police enforcing the drug laws. The drug war took the lives of four police officers last year, one in a shootout with a suspect, one in an undercover drug buy gone bad, one while doing a drug interdiction training exercise at a bus station, and one while engaged in a nighttime drug raid over a single syringe. That's about par for the course; over the six years the Chronicle has been keeping count about one cop gets killed for every 10 dead civilians.

Here are December's drug war deaths:

On December 7, in Dallas, Texas, Keelan Charles Murray, 37, shot and killed himself as local police operating as part of a DEA drug task force attempted to arrest him for receiving a package of synthetic opioids. Police said they were clearing the apartment when they heard a gunshot from upstairs. A Duncanville police officer then shot Murray in the shoulder, and Murray then turned his own gun on himself. Murray was locally notorious for having sold heroin to former Dallas Cowboy football player Matt Tuinei, who overdosed on it and died in 199. Dallas Police are investigating.

On December 11, in White Hall, West Virginia, Marion County police attempting to serve a drug arrest warrant shot and killed Randy Lee Cumberledge, 39, in the parking lot of the local Walmart. Police said they spotted Cumberledge's vehicle, but when they approached and ordered him to show his hands, he put his vehicle into gear and "drove aggressively" toward a deputy. Both the deputy and a White Hall police officer opened fire, killing Cumberland. There was no mention of any firearms recovered. The West Virginia State Police are investigating.

On December 12, in Byron, Georgia, member of a Peach County Drug Task Force SWAT team shot and killed Rainer Smith, 31, when he allegedly opened fire on them with a shotgun as they forced their way into his home to arrest him. Smith wounded two Byron police officers before return fire from police killed him. Police said no one answered the door when they arrived, so they forced their way in, and were immediately met by gunfire. Smith's live-in girlfriend and infant daughter were in the home with him. They were uninjured. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating.

On December 21, in Knox, Indiana, Knox Police shot and killed William Newman, 46, as they attempted to arrest him for possession of methamphetamine, failure to appear for dealing meth, and violating parole. Police said Knox attempted to flee, almost running down an officer, and they opened fire. He died in a local hospital hours later. The Indiana State Police are investigating.

Categories: Latest News

2016: People Still Killed in US Drug War at the Rate of One a Week [FEATURE]

Top Stories (STDW) - Mon, 01/02/2017 - 21:20

With 2016 now behind us, it's time for some year-end accounting, and when it comes to fatalities related to drug law enforcement, that accounting means tallying up the bodies. The good news is that drug war deaths are down slightly from last year; the bad news is that people are still being killed at the rate of about once a week, as has been the norm in recent years. There were 49 people killed in the drug war last year.

[image:1 align:left]This is the sixth year that Drug War Chronicle has tallied drug war deaths. There were 54 in 2011, 63 in 2012, 41 in 2013, 39 in 2014, and 56 in 2015, That's an average of just a hair under one a week during the past six years.

The Chronicle's tally only include deaths directly related to US domestic drug law enforcement operations -- full-fledged, door-busting, pre-dawn SWAT raids, to traffic stops turned drug busts, to police buy-bust operations. Some of the deaths are by misadventure, not gunshot, including several people who died after ingesting drugs in a bid to avoid getting busted and two law enforcement officers who separately dropped dead while.

Many of those killed either brandished a weapon or actually shot at police officers, demonstrating once again that attempting to enforce drug prohibition in a society rife with weapons is a recipe for trouble. Some of those were homeowners wielding weapons against middle-of-the-night intruders who they may or may not have known were police.

But numerous others were killed in their vehicles by police who claimed suspects were trying to run them down and feared for their lives when they opened fire. Could those people have been merely trying to flee from the cops? Or were they really ready to kill police to go to avoid going to jail on a drug charge?

Which is not to understate the dangers to police enforcing the drug laws. The drug war took the lives of four police officers last year, one in a shootout with a suspect, one in an undercover drug buy gone bad, one while doing a drug interdiction training exercise at a bus station, and one while engaged in a nighttime drug raid over a single syringe. That's about par for the course; over the six years the Chronicle has been keeping count about one cop gets killed for every 10 dead civilians.

Here are December's drug war deaths:

On December 7, in Dallas, Texas, Keelan Charles Murray, 37, shot and killed himself as local police operating as part of a DEA drug task force attempted to arrest him for receiving a package of synthetic opioids. Police said they were clearing the apartment when they heard a gunshot from upstairs. A Duncanville police officer then shot Murray in the shoulder, and Murray then turned his own gun on himself. Murray was locally notorious for having sold heroin to former Dallas Cowboy football player Matt Tuinei, who overdosed on it and died in 199. Dallas Police are investigating.

On December 11, in White Hall, West Virginia, Marion County police attempting to serve a drug arrest warrant shot and killed Randy Lee Cumberledge, 39, in the parking lot of the local Walmart. Police said they spotted Cumberledge's vehicle, but when they approached and ordered him to show his hands, he put his vehicle into gear and "drove aggressively" toward a deputy. Both the deputy and a White Hall police officer opened fire, killing Cumberland. There was no mention of any firearms recovered. The West Virginia State Police are investigating.

On December 12, in Byron, Georgia, member of a Peach County Drug Task Force SWAT team shot and killed Rainer Smith, 31, when he allegedly opened fire on them with a shotgun as they forced their way into his home to arrest him. Smith wounded two Byron police officers before return fire from police killed him. Police said no one answered the door when they arrived, so they forced their way in, and were immediately met by gunfire. Smith's live-in girlfriend and infant daughter were in the home with him. They were uninjured. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating.

On December 21, in Knox, Indiana, Knox Police shot and killed William Newman, 46, as they attempted to arrest him for possession of methamphetamine, failure to appear for dealing meth, and violating parole. Police said Knox attempted to flee, almost running down an officer, and they opened fire. He died in a local hospital hours later. The Indiana State Police are investigating.

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US MI: Good Samaritan Bill For Overdose Victims Passes

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 01/02/2017 - 08:00
Detroit Free Press, 02 Jan 2017 - LANSING Lawmakers gave final, and unanimous, passage to a bill Wednesday that they hope will help lower the number of drug overdose deaths from prescription drugs. The Good Samaritan bill, which passed the state Senate on a 38-0 vote, would provide immunity from criminal charges for people under the age of 21 who are seeking emergency medical assistance for themselves or friends as a result of a prescription drug overdose.
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US OH: Ohio Highway Patrol's New Anti-drug Emphasis Is Bringing

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 01/02/2017 - 08:00
The Blade, 02 Jan 2017 - [photo] Trooper Mike Wilson of the Ohio Highway Patrol leads his canine partner, Pluto, past a truck on I-70 in Madison County. Last year, Ohio registered a record 3,050 overdose deaths, with many attributed to painkillers and heroin abuse. Lt. Robert Sellers said state troopers' first job is to protect the public. Last year, troopers recovered 156 pounds of heroin and record amounts of painkillers and methamphetamines.
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US MA: How A Mail-order Opioid Operation Took Root On The High

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 01/02/2017 - 08:00
Boston Globe, 02 Jan 2017 - LUBBOCK, Texas - Across from a sprawling cotton field, among mobile homes in varying states of decay, one stood out: a double-wide with a new, expansive metal garage and the only paved driveway on the dead-end street. It was here that an unemployed former computer repairman with a bad back ran what a drug informant called the biggest fentanyl ring in Lubbock. All Sidney Lanier needed was a computer and an elementary knowledge of chemistry to order shipments of the potent synthetic opioid from China and turn it into a highly profitable - and dangerous - street drug.
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CN ON: Dispensary Raids Create Climate Of Fear, Lawyer Says

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 01/02/2017 - 08:00
Toronto Star, 02 Jan 2017 - Customer called the police after he says Canna Clinic was site of recent robbery Justin was paying at the counter of his local dispensary when he says about four masked men - one with a gun - burst through the door, screaming for him to get on the ground.
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Philippines: 30 People Killed Daily In 167 Days Under Duterte

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 01/02/2017 - 08:00
Philippine Star, 02 Jan 2017 - MANILA, Philippines -- An average of 30 people have been killed daily in the past 167 days under the Duterte administration's intensified campaign against criminality, especially the illegal drug trade. Records from the Philippine National Police (PNP) showed 2,102 drug pushers and users killed after allegedly fighting it out with police, and 2,886 others getting killed under sketchy circumstances and whose cases are listed as "death under investigation" or DUI.
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Philippines: Editorial: Collateral Damage

Top Stories (MAP) - Mon, 01/02/2017 - 08:00
Philippine Star, 02 Jan 2017 - In war, there is collateral damage. In the case of the vicious war on illegal drugs, President Duterte acknowledged last week that there have been "unintended killings" that have claimed the lives of innocents including children. In fact practically everyone killed in the drug war was legally innocent since guilt beyond reasonable doubt was never established in court, and most of the slain weren't even indicted. For the unintended killings, the President said he's sorry, although he made it clear that it would not stop his relentless war. Such a cavalier attitude toward human life is likely to rub off on the forces fighting the drug menace, making them careless about hitting innocents in the crossfire. It can encourage them to continue disregarding laws and rules on armed confrontations and the conduct of arrests and searches.
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US CA: Hollywood Sign Altered To Read 'Hollyweed'

Top Stories (MAP) - Sun, 01/01/2017 - 08:00
Los Angeles Times, 01 Jan 2017 - Los Angeles residents awoke Sunday morning to see that one thing, at least, looked different in the New Year: the Hollywood sign. Photos shared on social media showed the iconic sign modified to read, "HOLLYWeeD."
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Canada: The First Lady Of Reefer Madness

Top Stories (MAP) - Sun, 01/01/2017 - 08:00
The Walrus, 01 Jan 2017 - How a renowned Canadian feminist popularized our racist war on drugs Detective Joe Ricci and his partner, Alex Sinclair, were out on a routine bust in Vancouver's Chinatown. It was 1916, and Ricci and Sinclair were front-line officers in the war on opium. The drug had been criminalized in Canada eight years earlier through the introduction of the Western world's earliest drug prohibition law, and the Vancouver police department had been chasing down traffickers ever since. Ricci was a familiar sight in the neighbourhood. He had made such a big arrest in 1913 that for days after, the Vancouver Daily World reported, "not a light [was] to be seen and the ringing noise of the chuck-a-luck dice [had] stopped." But the gamblers and the opium smokers were soon back, and Ricci was out patrolling the streets again.
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Philippines: Drug Asylum Itatayo

Top Stories (MAP) - Sun, 01/01/2017 - 08:00
Philippine Star, 01 Jan 2017 - MANILA, Philippines - Maaaring magkaroon din sa Pilipinas ng mga asylum para sa mga adik na tuluyan ng nasira ang ulo dahil sa paggamit ng ilegal na droga partikular ng shabu. Ito ang sinabi ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte kaugnay ng mga adik na hindi na kayang i-rehabilitate dahil lumiit na ang utak sa matagal na paggamit ng shabu.
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US: Medical Marijuana For Kids: Often, No Clear Path, Legally And

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 12/31/2016 - 08:00
Washington Post, 31 Dec 2016 - Across the country, thousands of children use medical marijuana for a range of ailments including intractable epilepsy, pain, anxiety and symptoms of multiple sclerosis. As the number of pediatric medical users grows, so do issues that confront parents, patients, doctors and policymakers. There are no federal laws specifically covering children's use of medical marijuana, and state laws on the subject are a complex and sometimes contradictory patchwork. Twenty-nine states and the District have made medical marijuana of all kinds legal. Among those state is Maryland, which has not yet set up a system for distribution.
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US MD: Maryland Overdose Deaths Continue Steep Climb

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 12/31/2016 - 08:00
Washington Post, 31 Dec 2016 - Drug-overdose deaths surged to new levels in Maryland during the first nine months of 2016, far surpassing the total for all of the previous year as fatalities related to heroin and fentanyl use increased sharply. The state health department reported Thursday that the number of overdose deaths for January through September climbed to 1,468, a 62aE percent jump compared with the same period in 2015, and the sixth straight year that the figure has risen.
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US OR: Warnings For First-time Marijuana Pesticide Use Worker Permit

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 12/31/2016 - 08:00
The Bulletin, 31 Dec 2016 - Marijuana rules still rankle The Oregon Liquor Control Commission approved temporary rule changes Dec. 19 that take effect Sunday for recreational marijuana businesses. In one change, growers who accept responsibility for illegally applying pesticides will receive a warning for a first violation, according to an OLCC news release Wednesday. Subsequent violations could result in harsher penalties, including loss of an OLCC-issued license to grow marijuana.
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US MA: State Report Reveals Barriers To Opioid Addiction Treatment

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 12/31/2016 - 08:00
Boston Globe, 31 Dec 2016 - Lexi sat under a highway overpass where she sleeps near a stretch of Massachusetts Avenue nicknamed "Methadone Mile" in Boston last April. Just 49-percent of adult patients who check into state-licensed residential substance abuse centers complete their treatment programs, while a substantial portion of patients walk away from treatment or relapse, according to a new state report.
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US PA: Some State Farmers To Grow Industrial Hemp

Top Stories (MAP) - Sat, 12/31/2016 - 08:00
Morning Call, 31 Dec 2016 - [photo] Heather Skorinko had hoped to grow industrial hemp on her North Whitehall Township farm, but the state's restrictive pilot program will lock out most family farms, she said. (APRIL BARTHOLOMEW/THE MORNING CALL) Industrial hemp returns to Pennsylvania in 2017. So why are advocates so riled up?
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Chronicle AM: MA MJ Shop Delay Protested, Prison Population Still Dropping, More... (12/30/16)

Drug War Chronicle - Fri, 12/30/2016 - 21:24

Massachusetts marijuana shops get delayed by six months, Nevada personal legalization goes into effect next week, the national prison population continues a slow decline, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Amid Protests, MA Governor Signs Law Pushing Back Legalization Implementation. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) Friday signed into law a bill delaying the opening of retail marijuana shops for six months, from January 2018 to July 2018. He did so as demonstrators gathered at the capitol to protest the measure, which was hot-rodded through the legislature by a mere handful of solons on Wednesday. The delay "not only flies in the face of the will of the voters who voted for the January 2018 deadline, it shows contempt for the legislature itself, having been passed, not after three readings to the full House and Senate, but in the course of less than an hour by just two senators and five representatives," said the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, which organized the protest.

Nevada Legalization Goes Into Effect Next Week. Voters approved the Question 2 marijuana legalization initiative in November and will begin to enjoy the fruits of their victory on January 1, when the new law goes into effect. It will allow people 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of weed or an eighth-ounce of cannabis concentrates. But retail sales won't go into effect until the state sets up a regulatory structure. The state has until January 2018 to get it done.

Industrial Hemp

Vote Hemp Issues Year-End Report: Four More Hemp States. The industry lobbying and educational group points to hemp victories in Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island this year, as well as hemp-related bills passing in some other states that have already approved industrial hemp production. In all, hemp bills were introduced in 29 states in 2016.

Sentencing

Nation's Prison Population Now at 13-Year Low. Driven largely by a drop in the federal prison population, the country's overall prison and jail population dropped 2% in 2015, pushing it down to levels not seen in more than a decade, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported Thursday. The decline continues a downward trend that began in 2009. A 7% decline in federal prisoners accounting for 40% of the overall decrease, but states including California and Texas also saw significant prisoner population reductions.

Activist and Author Tony Papa Wins a Pardon. The Drug Policy Alliance's Tony Papa was granted a pardon by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Friday. Papa served 12 years of a 15-to-life sentence for drug trafficking before he was granted clemencyby then Gov. George Pataki (R) in 1997. Since then, he has authored two books, pursued a career as an artist, and been a devoted drug reform activist.

International

Poll: British Columbia Voters Ready to Legalize Hard Drugs to Fight Opioid Crisis. A new survey of provincial attitudes toward drugs and addiction finds that nearly two-thirds of residents are open to considering hard drug legalization in the context of the province's ongoing opioid crisis. Some 63% said they were either completely willing to consider legalization or open to considering it with more information, while only 20% flat-out rejected it. Another 17% said they were not willing now, but might change their minds with new information.

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CN ON: OPED: Fentanyl Crisis Demands Bold Shift In Treating Drug

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 12/30/2016 - 08:00
The Tribune, 30 Dec 2016 - It is time to face reality. We must actively seek new solutions to address the fentanyl crisis and be more proactive on an emergent basis. The existing strategies to treat the disease called drug addiction are not working - more than 800 people will die in B.C. this year.
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US MA: Why A Skirmish Over Pot Legalization In Massachusetts Is

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 12/30/2016 - 08:00
Washington Post, 30 Dec 2016 - In November, Massachusetts voters decided to make recreational marijuana legal, allowing it to be bought and sold in stores by January 2018. But this week, state lawmakers quietly voted to delay the sale date by at least six months. The delay has outraged some marijuana-legalization advocates, less so because they'll have to wait a few months to buy pot and more so because they feel the legislature is trying to subvert the will of the people by fundamentally changing what they voted for. A similar skirmish is happening in Maine over the minimum wage, and progressives in both states are worried that their opponents are trying to delay or even reverse their remarkable success via ballot initiatives.
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US CT: Canada Takes Next Step Toward National Marijuana

Top Stories (MAP) - Fri, 12/30/2016 - 08:00
The News-Times, 30 Dec 2016 - While the US federal government remains stubbornly opposed to legalizing marijuana, our neighbor to the north is increasingly interested in cannabis commerce and moving away from pot prosecutions. Even as voters in more U.S. states approved legalized recreational marijuana this November - and 28 states have legalized medical marijuana - the federal government still lists marijuana as an illegal drug.
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