Jury weighs misconduct charges against two Fort Lauderdale cops

Jury weighs misconduct charges against two Fort Lauderdale cops

Two suspended Fort Lauderdale police officers are waiting for a Broward jury to determine whether they committed a crime when they filed police reports in 2010 that turned out to be untrue.

Billy Koepke, 36, and Brian Dodge, 34, originally faced much more serious charges, including kidnapping, racketeering and grand theft. But prosecutors in August determined that a jury would be unlikely to convict the officers on the word of their accusers, who are drug dealers and addicts with criminal records of their own.

But prosecutors and defense lawyers are still arguing about the incident that instigated the investigation, which led to charges of official misconduct and falsifying records for both officers, and one charge of perjury for Dodge.

Dodge and Koepke, working on an informant’s tip, stopped and arrested Junior Jerome and Dieudson Nore at a Red Roof Inn in Oakland Park on Aug. 24, 2010. According to the reports they filed, Dodge and Koepke were the only officers on the scene, and both men were in Jerome’s vehicle outside the motel.

Dodge later testified at a deposition about the arrest, swearing under oath that the details included in his report were accurate.

But defense lawyers for Jerome and Nore uncovered a surveillance video showing the arrest, and the video contradicted the account on key points — two other officers were present during the arrest, and Nore was inside the motel, not in Jerome’s car, when police closed in on Jerome.

Without Nore’s presence in the vehicle, there was no way he could have dropped a small amount of crack cocaine in the car, as the reports alleged.

Charges against Jerome and Nore were dropped. Nore was later convicted of drug charges in Pasco County.

On the stand Thursday, Dodge took responsibility for “mistakes” in his report and his testimony, but denied intentionally lying. He said he confused the details of the Red Roof Inn arrest with an arrest made later the same day.

“At the time I thought I was telling the truth,” he said. “I blended the facts of both cases because they occurred on the same day.”

Koepke opted not to testify.

In closing arguments, prosecutors Ryan Kelley and Chris Killoran called the two officers liars who wanted to beef up a case against drug dealers at the expense of the truth.

“When someone is facing a felony charge based on his lies, then he has a clear memory,” Kelley said. “But when it’s his freedom on the line, suddenly his memory is not as clear.”

Defense lawyer Jim Stark, who represents Koepke, told the jury that the evidence showed “an honest mistake, not a criminal mistake.”

Mike Dutko, Dodge’s lawyer, said the victims in the case were at the scene to sell crack.

“This was an honest-to-goodness drug deal,” said Dutko. “Whether he made a mistake in recording specifics? We conceded that from the outset.”

Deliberations began at 6:30 p.m.

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South Florida judge resigns ahead of ethics hearing stemming from DUI arrest

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida — A Broward County judge has handed in her resignation following a DUI arrest.

The Sun Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1GxWfoB ) reports Judge Lynn Rosenthal’s last day will be Oct. 31.

Authorities say Rosenthal showed signs of impairment when she arrived at the courthouse on May 27, 2014. She sideswiped a parked patrol car and drove into a parking lot gate.

She agreed to a 90-day suspension without pay, but the Florida Supreme Court ordered a full hearing. The court wanted additional information regarding any misconduct that occurred during the investigation.

She was initially charged with DUI, but it was reduced to reckless driving.

Rosenthal has maintained she was given an incorrect dose of a sleep aid and that she had lapse in judgment due to a “personal family crisis.”


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Three East Cleveland cops face corruption charges for stealing thousands from suspected drug dealers

commentsThree East Cleveland cops face corruption charges for stealing thousands from suspected drug dealers
East Cleveland charges.jpg
Steven Anthony, the head of the Cleveland FBI office, speaks at a news conference Thursday morning. The news conference was held to announce charges against three former East Cleveland police officers. (Eric Heisig/NEOMG)
Torris Moore.jpgTorris Moore

EricJones.jpgEric Jones

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Three former officers of the East Cleveland Police Department face corruption charges in what federal prosecutors describe as a heavy-handed scheme to rip off suspected drug dealers by stealing money seized through illegal search warrants.

Sgt. Torris Moore and detectives Antonio Malone and Eric Jones are charged with conspiring to illegally take tens of thousands of dollars from four drug dealers between 2012 and 2014. The officers would sometimes split the money among themselves, others, or just keep it.

The officers, who all worked in the city’s street crime unit, partly did this by applying for and receiving search warrants by filing false statements to judges, according to charging documents. The indictment states that five suspected drug dealers were targeted by the officers, and prosecutors said one of them was admitted heroin trafficker Mark Makupson.

State and federal investigators and prosecutors announced the charges during a news conference Thursday morning. The investigation stretches back more than two years. The charging documents show that the FBI used recorded conversations with cooperating witnesses to obtain incriminating statements against the officers.

The three officers resigned from the department within the past year.

Their actions have caused drug charges against several defendants to be dropped, though Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said he did not have an exact count. He said he did not think any of the officers’ victims were convicted of drug crimes in the cases the officers claimed to investigate.

U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach, at the news conference, said that the officers “pillaged and plundered,” rather than protected and served.

“They viewed the drug trade not as a public safety risk but as a chance to get rich for themselves and they lied to the court, their fellow officers and the citizens of East Cleveland in order to pull off their criminal conspiracy,” Dettelbach said.

Documents suggest that Malone, 33, and Jones, 38, are cooperating. Both were charged in a criminal information, which usually means that a plea deal is in the works.

They are accused of conspiracy and a Hobbs Act conspiracy. They are not in custody.

Meanwhile, Moore, who supervised the drug unit and sent information to the county prosecutors for charging, was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury and was arrested at her South Euclid home without incident Thursday morning. She faces two conspiracy charges, two counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and making false statements to the FBI.

She pleaded not guilty during an arraignment Thursday afternoon. Magistrate Judge Nancy Vecchiarelli freed her on bond.

(To read the charging documents, scroll to the bottom of this story.)

During the news conference, Steven Anthony, head of the FBI’s Cleveland, said that bringing the charges against the officers made it a “sad, unfortunate” day, but also a necessary one.

“Without the trust or confidence in the criminal justice system, it will not work,” Anthony said.

Malone’s attorney did not return a phone call. Jones’ attorney, Jim Jenkins, said his client tried to resist the pull of the case for a long time but got “sucked in.” He said he gave some of the money he obtained to a church.

Nathan Ray, Moore’s attorney, declined to comment following his client’s arraignment.

According to court filings, there were several instances in which the officers illegally took money. They include:

• In September 2012, a municipal court judge signed an search warrant presented by Jones that contained false information about a suspect identified in the indictment only as  “J.W.” The next day, Moore, Malone, Jones and a fourth officer searched the home on Sheldon Avenue, and seized $20,000 in cash and some drugs.

Later that day, Moore, Malone and Jones met at a park and divvied up part of the seized money, with each receiving between $2,000 and $3,000. They then put the remaining money in the department’s evidence room, stating that they seized less than they actually had.

• On June 20, 2013, officers went to the home of a suspect identified in the indictment as “K.B.” on East 85th Street. A relative of the suspect allowed the officers to search the suspect’s bedroom, which had a padlock on the door. Malone forced his way into the room and seized $100,000 in cash.

That day, he split part of the proceeds with Moore and Jones, with each receiving about $10,000, and the rest went into the evidence room with the stolen amount omitted.

• One June 19, 2014, Malone took a bribe from Makupson after threatening to arrest Makupson during a traffic stop.

Makupson told Malone that his arrest would “create problems.” Malone agreed to let him go, but said he would have to tow his car.

Makupson said that the glove compartment contained between $11,000 and $12,000. The officer let him retrieve all but $3,000.

Makupson, 34, pleaded guilty in November to federal drug charges. Prosecutors said he ran a scheme to bring large quantities of drugs to Cleveland.

He will be sentenced on Tuesday.

Malone was also charged in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in November with four counts unauthorized use of computers. Prosecutors accused him of using police computers for personal use.

The charges were dropped in March, records show.

East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton said the officers’ actions led to changes at the police department, including more oversight for warrants and the handling of drug money and evidence.

Norton said the police department received complaints from residents about officers, many of whom had no involvement with the suspected drug dealers the officers are accused of ripping off.

“These police just ran into their houses and thought they could do what they wanted to,” Norton said.

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Judge ‘deeply concerned’ evidence destroyed in Seth Adams inquiry


A hearing to determine if a jury will decide whether the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office violated the constitutional rights of Seth Adams when a deputy shot him dead outside his family’s garden shop in May 2012 began badly Wednesday for the law enforcement agency.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hurley said he was “deeply concerned” that Sgt. Michael Custer’s laptop and cellphone were destroyedeven though attorneys representing Adams’ family alerted officials that both could provide critical information about why the deputy decided to use deadly force against the unarmed 24-year-old Loxahatchee Groves resident.

“I want to know who did what when they received letters that they were to preserve this evidence,” Hurley said. “I regard these issues as extraordinarily important.”

If unhappy with the answers sheriff’s officials provide at an upcoming hearing, Hurley said he would not hesitate to take strong action, including unilaterally deciding the case in favor of Adams’ family.

“Everyone has to be troubled by the notion that our sheriff’s office, which had an obligation to preserve these two very important pieces of evidence, now says we don’t have them,” he said.

Sheriff’s officials have said that the laptop was destroyed as part of a routine practice of upgrading deputies’ computer equipment. The reason the cellphone disappeared is unclear.

Leaving those issues for another day, Hurley spent the next three hours listening to attorneys representing Custer and Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and one representing Adams’ family give starkly different accounts of how Adams ended up dead.

Attorney Summer Barranco, who represents Custer and Bradshaw, said the deputy, who was dressed in plainclothes because he was working undercover, was in fear of his life when he shot Adams. After Custer ordered Adams to get on the ground, Adams instead went to his nearby pickup truck and reached inside.

“Mr. Adams is screaming ‘F you’ and spins out toward the left side and that’s when Sgt. Custer says he sees his wife’s face (believes he’s going to be shot) and discharges his gun four times,” she said. Adams, it turned out, was getting his cellphone.

Attorney Wallace McCall, who represents Adams’ family, disputed Custer’s account of the late night shooting in the parking lot of the family business, A One Stop Garden Shop on A Road, where Adams lived. Instead of being interviewed on the night of the shooting, which Bradshaw claims is the customary practice, Custer talked to an attorney and a deputy, who helped author the department’s use of force policy, to craft a story to justify the shooting, McCall claimed.

Blood and one of the bullets found in the parking lot show Adams was behind his truck when Custer fired the first shot, he said. “The bullet could not have ended up where it did if Seth was inside the door of his truck,” McCall said.

Further, he said, the two fatal shots entered Adams’ chest from above. Since Custer is 5-foot-8 and Adams was 6-foot-4, Adams undoubtedly was bent over after being shot in the wrist, he said. “It couldn’t have happened the way Sgt. Custer said it did,” McCall said.

Barranco countered that the angle of the shots corroborated Custer’s claim that Adams was turning toward him after getting something out of the truck. In that scenario, Adams would have been crouched over, she said.

“Pure speculation,” she said of McCall’s version of events. “Physical evidence will only tell you so much.”

Hurley agreed, insisting that’s why the missing laptop and cellphone are so important. They could fill in gaps. Only two people know exactly what happened that night, he said. Unfortunately, Hurley said, one of them is dead.

McCall also argued that Bradshaw is to blame for Adams’ death because the sheriff created an atmosphere in the department where deputies were confident any shooting would be deemed justified. In the five years before Adams’ death, 31 officers were involved in shootings, not all fatal. In each case, as Bradshaw did the night of Adams was shot, he immediately declared that the officer had no choice but to fire his or her weapon, McCall said.

The message Bradshaw repeatedly sent to deputies was: “I got your back,” he said.

Calling the case “an enormous tragedy,” Hurley promised to schedule what could be a daylong hearing to discover what happened to the cellphone and laptop. Then, he said, he would weigh all the evidence to determine when and if the case will be handed to a jury.

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Pennsylvania attorney general charged with 2nd perjury count

Pennsylvania attorney general charged with 2nd perjury count

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. (AP) – Prosecutors added a new perjury count and other criminal charges Thursday against Pennsylvania’s attorney general, saying they found a signed document that contradicts her claims she never agreed to maintain secrecy of a grand jury investigation in 2009, before she took office.

The Montgomery County district attorney charged Kathleen Kane with felony perjury and two misdemeanors – false swearing and obstruction – based on a secrecy oath she signed shortly after taking office in early 2013.

Kane told reporters at her arraignment that she recently gave ethics agencies about 1,500 emails linked to state Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin, in a new allegation in an ongoing scandal over the exchange of pornographic and otherwise inappropriate emails among state prosecutors, judges and others.

Kane, the first woman and first Democrat elected attorney general in Pennsylvania, was previously charged with perjury, conspiracy and other offenses. Prosecutors allege she leaked secret grand jury information about a 2009 investigation to a newspaper and then lied about it.

Kane spoke defiantly about her latest arrest and vowed to continue working to expose what she said was a “network” involving judges, federal prosecutors, attorneys general, law enforcement, district attorneys and public defenders. She referred to a sitting Supreme Court justice, and her office’s spokesman later said she was referring to Eakin.

“You can arrest me two times, you can arrest me 10 times. I’m sure this isn’t the end of the game,” Kane said. “But I will not stop until the truth comes out, and I will not stop until the system operates the way it’s supposed to be.”

Eakin did not immediately respond Thursday to a message seeking comment.

The new charges involved allegations Kane lied when she repeatedly said she did not swear to keep secret the 2009 grand jury information about a former head of the NAACP in Philadelphia.

But the district attorney’s office said her signed oath was recovered during a search of her Harrisburg offices Sept. 17, contradicting her claims that no such document existed.

“Kane perpetuated this falsehood not just before (a) grand jury, but also in legal filings before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and to the people of Pennsylvania through privately retained representatives,” wrote Montgomery County Detective Paul Michael Bradbury, who attached a photocopy of the one-paragraph oath to the arrest affidavit.

Authorities say Kane and other top aides were compelled to sign the secrecy oath and three others just like it that applied to other grand jury panels to participate in a transition meeting on Jan. 17, 2013, that concerned the office’s investigations.

Bradbury said agents learned about the existence of the signed secrecy oaths only after arresting her Aug. 6 over leaks to the Philadelphia Daily News last year. At the arraignment, Montgomery County prosecutor Kevin Steele attributed the new information to “brave people from the attorney general’s office” who came forward.

“This case is very straightforward,” Steele said when asked about Kane’s statements. “This is a perjury case that we have brought based upon materials that she testified about and that were brought out by people in her office that indicate she had sworn to this.”

The arrest affidavit said Kane testified before a grand jury in November 2014 that she was not sworn to secrecy for the 2009 grand jury.

Kane and her top aides, she told the grand jury, “all knew that we were not sworn into a 2009 grand jury. I was a stay-at-home mom at the time. … None of us were sworn into that grand jury.”

The pornographic email scandal has already resulted in the firing of or discipline against dozens of employees of Kane’s office and caused Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery to abruptly retire late last year.

She said the email account linked to Eakin, a Republican former prosecutor, contained “racial, misogynistic pornography” and a joke about a woman who was beaten by her husband.

“And what does this mean to the public?” Kane said. “That means that your system, your criminal justice system that you think you have and you think you deserve is not working properly.”

If she is convicted of either perjury charge, she will be ineligible to hold office.

Kane’s attorneys have argued in a court filing that she only authorized the release of nonsecret information “relating to a pattern of unjustifiable selective prosecution or nonprosecution” at the attorney general’s office before she took the reins.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, including Eakin, last week issued a temporary, indefinite suspension of Kane’s law license that will take effect later this month.


Scolforo and AP writer Marc Levy reported from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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Hidden GPS devices to track suspects raise legal concerns

ason Golson-Orelus
In this Aug. 12, 2015 photo, a board on display at a news conference at the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office in Mineola, N.Y., shows a police handout photo of Jason Golson-Orelus and charges filed in an indictment against him. Golson-Orelus evaded authorities for months but was finally arrested after grabbing a stack of bills with a GPS tracking device planted inside. (AP Photo/Michael Balsamo)

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) – For months, police trying to solve a Long Island robbery spree had little more to go on than grainy surveillance footage of a man in a hoodie and black ski mask holding up one gas station or convenience store after another.

That was until the gunman made off with a stack of bills that investigators had secretly embedded with a GPS tracking device.

Within days, a suspect accused of pulling off nearly a dozen heists – including one in which a clerk was killed – was behind bars, and officers were crediting technology that has become commonplace around the U.S. over the past five years or so.

“Those tools are part of our arsenal,” Nassau County Police Chief Steven Skrynecki said after the arrest this summer, adding that GPS is now used “as a matter of course in our investigations.”

But the tiny satellite-connected devices – embedded by the manufacturer or slipped by police into stacks of cash, pill bottles or other commonly stolen items – are raising questions from legal experts over what they see as the potential for abuse by law enforcement authorities. They wonder whether some of these cases will stand up in court.

In 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court took up the police practice of planting GPS trackers on suspects’ vehicles to monitor their movements, and it set certain constitutional boundaries on their use. It stopped short of saying a warrant is always required.

But that narrow ruling didn’t specifically address the embedding of GPS devices pre-emptively in objects that are apt to be stolen. Nor did it address how long police can engage in tracking or how they can use that information.

That has left judges with little guidance.

“This is the latest chapter in the challenge to the Fourth Amendment by new technology,” said George Washington University constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley. “There is always a concern technology can outstrip existing constitutional law. Now it’s up to the courts to decide when police departments can use this technology to facilitate an arrest and prosecution.”

So far, there have been few constitutional challenges, in part because the technology is new, but also because some defendants have pleaded guilty.

Legal experts said the courts have generally held that when people steal something containing a tracking device, police are within their rights to go after them. For decades, police have been catching car thieves through LoJack radio-tracking devices.

But civil libertarians said a legal issue could arise if police deliberately leave the tracker on for an extended amount of time to find out, for example, what other crimes the suspect might be mixed up in.

“As a baseline, I don’t think people should be tracked with GPS without a warrant,” said Jay Stanley, a policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union. “If somebody steals an object and the police don’t arrest them for six months and just collect information about how they’re living their life, that could be problematic.”

Also, legal experts worry that innocent people could get in trouble for unwittingly possessing something implanted with a GPS device.

“Just because Jim steals the money, maybe the one wad that had the GPS was one he gave to pay off a loan, or he borrowed a friend’s car and left that one there,” said New York lawyer Amy Marion.

In a case on appeal in Buffalo, a bank robbery defendant who police say was caught with a GPS-tagged bag of money is challenging his conviction, though not on constitutional grounds. He contends the cash was not enough to convict him.

The use of GPS highlights what some experts bemoan as the fast-shrinking zone of privacy nowadays, when security cameras are seemingly on every block, wireless devices broadcast our locations and tollbooths electronically record our travels.

“Not only are we living in a fishbowl society, the government can now track us in real time in the fishbowl,” Turley said.

GPS is the 21st-century version of the exploding dye pack that bank tellers slip into the bag of money during a holdup. The pack blows up outside the bank, staining the robber and the cash.

When someone walks out the door with a GPS tracker, a silent activation signal is sent to police. Officers can then use an online map, updated every few seconds, to pinpoint the object’s location,

The use of GPS has expanded as the devices have gotten smaller. Trackers as thin as a pencil can be hidden in wads of about two dozen bills.

They are also slipped into “bait bottles” of pills to thwart drugstore thieves. The bottles are typically kept behind the counter and are handed over by the pharmacist if a robber demands drugs.

The maker of the painkiller OxyContin says such bottles used in 33 states have helped police make nearly 160 arrests.

In Redlands, California, a criminal attached a “skimmer” – a device for stealing people’s credit card numbers – to a gas pump. Police put GPS on the skimmer, then caught the suspect after he collected the equipment.

In other cases, officers have made arrests through “virtual stakeouts” after leaving trackers in copper wire, bicycles and laptops.

In Long Island’s Nassau County, 23-year-old Joshua Golson-Orelus has been charged with murder and armed robbery in the series of heists. His attorney declined to comment about the role of GPS.

“We’re in a different world than we were 30 years ago,” said James Carver, president of the police union in Nassau County, “and we need to take advantage of what’s being offered out there.”

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This Week’s Corrupt Cops Stories

A criminal gang of Puerto Rican cops gets indicted, prison guards run wild all over the country, and more cops get in trouble for stealing dope and cash. Let’s get to it:

In Shamokin, Pennsylvania, a state prison guard was arrested last Wednesday for allegedly smuggling cell phones and marijuana into the prison. Damond Lamar Johnson is charged with possession of a controlled substance and contraband, conspiracy, and criminal use of a telecommunications device. He went down after he was found with marijuana during a pre-shift search and later confessed to other instances of smuggling pot and cell phones into the joint.

In Jackson, Mississippi, a Jackson police officer was arrested last Thursday on charges he was aiding some local drug dealers by pulling over their rivals and seizing their cash during illegal stops. Officer Bryan Jones went down after a tip from the community. He’s been charged with extortion. He’s looking at up to 20 years in federal prison.

In Atlanta, a former Georgia prison guard was indicted last Thursday on charges related to the use of cell phones to facilitate drug trafficking and other crimes behind bars. Anekra Artina Williams, 20, a guard at Valdosta State Prison, was charged with extortion and distributing methamphetamine and extortion. She is one of a dozen people rounded up in the federal bust, including current and former inmates and a prison cafeteria worker.

In San Juan, Puerto Rico, 10 police officers were indicted last Friday for allegedly participating in a criminal organization run out of the police department. They are accused of using their positions to make money through selling drugs, robbery, extortion, and manipulating court records. The officers are Shylene López-García aka “Plinia”; Ángel Hernández-Nieves, aka “Doble”; Xavier Jiménez-Martínez, aka “Negro”; Alvin Montes-Cintrón, aka “Vinillo”; Ramón Muñiz-Robledo, aka “Marmota”; Guillermo Santos-Castro, aka “Caco Biftec”; Luis Flores-Ortiz, aka “Piquito”; José Neris-Serrano; Manuel Grego-López; and David Centeno-Faría, aka “David Bisbal.” They are charged with conspiracy to violate the RICO Act, as well as extortion, drug trafficking, civil rights violations, and making false statements.

In State College, Pennsylvania, a former State College police officer was sentenced last Friday to 23 months in jail for stealing drugs from the evidence room. Thomas Dann, 56, stole cocaine and prescription medications while serving as the evidence room custodian, and originally faced dozens of counts. He pleaded guilty to four counts of felony acquisition of a controlled substance by fraud for stealing three pounds of cocaine, as well as dozens of prescription opioids.

In Baltimore, a former jail guard was sentenced last Friday to six years in prison for his role in a Baltimore jail racketeering conspiracy. Travis Paylor, 27, is one of 40 people convicted in the wide-ranging prison corruption case involving the Black Guerrilla Family and got the longest sentence because he continued to engage in illegal activity even after he was charged. He was convicted of smuggling contraband, including drugs, into the prison.

In Los Angeles, a former LAPD officer pleaded no contest Tuesday to offering to sell drugs to an undercover officer last year. Randolph Agard pleaded guilty to two counts of possession for drugs for sale, and was sentenced to 480 hours of community service and three years’ probation. Agard had responded to an online ad seeking drugs placed by police. When he arrived at a meeting place, he was arrested by LAPD narcs, who found 20 hydrocodone tablets in his pocket and 35 more in his car.

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This Week’s Corrupt Cops Stories

A strange tale out of Kentucky, and two New York cops get slapped on the wrist for their misdeeds. Let’s get to it:

In Louisville, Kentucky, a Bullitt County sheriff’s special deputy was indicted last Friday on charges he was a major drug trafficker and threatened to kill Kentucky narcotics officers. Special Deputy Chris Mattingly has been charged with conspiracy to distribute over a ton of marijuana. He went down after he surfaced on a wiretap of a drug cartel member in Riverside, California, and since then, police working with information developed from there have made repeated seizures of hundreds or tens of thousands of dollars in cash from vehicles associated with Mattingly.

In Troy, New York, a former Troy police officer was sentenced last Thursday to probation for telling a drug dealer he was being targeted in a raid. Brian Gross, 33, a member of the Community Narcotics Enforcement Team, admitted to disclosing information contained in a wiretap warrant. He told a female friend the narcs were investigating her brother and planned to raid his home. The targeted dealer apparently spread the word, because police hit five houses that day as part of a drug investigation and came up empty-handed.

In White Plains, New York, a former Yonkers narcotics detective was sentenced last Thursday to spend eight weekends in jail for lying to get a search warrant for a drug raid in which a man fell to his death. Christian Koch had pleaded guilty to perjury charges along with his partner, former officer Neil Vera, who got six months of weekends in jail.

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Florida ‘flakka’ importer pleads guilty as feds battle drug’s spread

Flakka Drug (Source: CBS4)

Flakka Drug (Source: CBS4)

A South Florida woman pleaded guilty in a West Palm Beach federal court on Monday to conspiring to import the drug alpha-PVP, also known as “flakka,” part of a major law enforcement crackdown against mail-order synthetic drugs from China.

Jamie Nicole Lewis, 22, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine at a December sentencing.

She and co-defendant Kevin Raphael Bully, who has pleaded not guilty to a four-count indictment, were in April among the first alleged flakka dealers arrested in Florida.

The drug, nicknamed “$5 insanity,” is said to give users who overdose a sense of superhuman strength and powerful hallucinations.

Flakka, which has also shown up in Ohio, Houston and Chicago, has made its biggest impact in South Florida, police say.

Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) apprehended the pair following a tip from London about multiple packages intercepted from a Chinese chemical company en route to South Florida.

Bully was arrested with three cellphones, $60,000 and an empty shipping bag from the company, according to a DEA agent’s affidavit.

There were 44 flakka-related deaths in the last 12 months, according to the Broward County medical examiner’s office. The Broward Sheriff’s Office has handled 792 cases involving flakka this year.

What concerns officials most is how easily and cheaply dealers obtain synthetic drugs. One kg (2.2 pounds) of flakka, worth $50,000 on the street, can be bought online for as little as $1,500, drug experts say.

Law enforcement agencies face further obstacles because flakka and drugs like it are not illegal in China. Manufacturers there typically classify them as “research chemicals” and offer discreet delivery.

A 26-year-old former Florida International University student now in federal prison said he was able to make $30,000 a week selling a similar drug called methylone, according to the Miami Herald.

He spent the money on Rolex watches, a four-bedroom townhouse and an orange Lamborghini. The Italian sports car eventually became his undoing when law enforcement was able to track him through its registration, according to the Herald.

(Reporting by Zachary Fagenson; Editing by David Adams and Eric Beech)

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Black Cocaine from Colombia: How Does it Turn White?

cocaine A joint operation conducted by police in Colombia and Mexico resulted in the seizure of two tons of cocaine hidden in a shipment of toner for printers and photocopiers, but no arrests were made, Colombian National Police chief Gen. Rodolfo Palomino said Monday.

Police seized 1,070 kilos of cocaine in the cargo terminal at Bogota’s Eldorado International Airport, Palomino said.

Airport authorities became suspicious when they noticed that the shipment of toner was destined for the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa, the police chief said.

Sinaloa is home to the powerful drug cartel that bears the state’s name.

A drug-sniffing dog inspected the container and found the cocaine, which was packed in 48 boxes of toner cartridges “wrapped in plastic bags, labeled and ready to supposedly be exported,” the National Police said in a statement.

Chemical tests done on the toner confirmed that it contained cocaine.

Why Black Cocaine?

According to a COLPRENSA report published by El Nuevo Dia in Ibague, Colombia, the seized cocaine was not treated with food (vegetable) dye; it was, in fact, mixed with dry, black ink toner powder.

Clearly, the concealment of cocaine by means of a mixture with ink toner is an attempt at deception. Notwithstanding a clever and risky marketing campaign; it is unlikely that black cocaine would be welcomed among traditional users who are used to a dazzling, achromatic white aspect.

Drug enforcement agents determined that another shipment had been sent by air to Mexico City a few hours earlier and notified Mexican authorities, who impounded a plane carrying 961 kilos of cocaine hidden in toner.To separate the cocaine from the toner and make it white again, chemists would need to use solvents such as methylene chloride, which is an organic compound, for the purpose of extracting an alkaloid base. Yet another process would be needed to convert that base into powdered cocaine hydrochloride, which can then be dealt by distributors and retailers.

“No arrests were made in either of the operations, but Colombian police and their counterparts in Mexico have evidence that the two shipments were apparently going to be received by members of the Sinaloa cartel and were sent by a drug trafficking network based on the Atlantic coast of Colombia,” the National Police said.

Investigators suspect that both the exporter, a company based in Bogota, and the importer, a corporation registered in Sinaloa, are fake, officials said.

A total of 115 tons of cocaine have been seized in Colombia this year along with 47.2 tons of the drug seized abroad via operations with foreign authorities, the National Police said.

The Sinaloa organization, sometimes referred to by Mexican officials as the Pacific cartel, is the oldest drug cartel in Mexico and has large smuggling and distribution networks in South America, the United States and Europe.

The cartel is led by Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman, who escaped from a prison in central Mexico through a tunnel on July 11.

Guzman, who is considered the most powerful drug trafficker in the world, tops the list of Mexico’s most-wanted criminals and is on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people.

The Sinaloa cartel, according to intelligence agencies, is a transnational business empire that operates in the United States, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Americas and Asia. EFE

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