Monday, December 27, 2004

Bad cop blogging

DRC Net's Drug War Chronicle has performed the valuable service for some time now of compiling stories about bad cops involved in the drug war from around the country. Lately they mentioned a few Texas stories worthy of note.

In the same issue where they recommended Grits' piece on legislative recommendations to abolish Texas drug task forces, DRC Net told the story of an employee of a private drug testing firm in San Antonio that evaluated urinalyses for San Antonio probationers. Given some alone time with a female probationer, the FBI alleges that Adrian Barrientos "asked the woman if her test would come back positive, and when she replied affirmatively, he told her he would falsify the results in exchange for sex."

Nice guy. Probation should be an opportunity to turn your life around, not an opportunity for assholes to prey on you. Too often, though, it's more the latter than the former.

In the previous week's issue, DRC Net reported two other Texas cases:

"In Central Texas, former McLennan County (Waco) Deputy Constable Kevin Scott Baker was on trial last week on federal charges that he was a marijuana pusher. Baker, 38, is charged with distributing less than 50 kilos of the weed, conspiracy to distribute, and, just for good measure, aiding and abetting marijuana distribution, the Waco Herald-Tribune reported. Baker's extracurricular activities came to light after a police informant -- a crack-using woman who has since died of Hepatitis C -- tipped Department of Public Safety troopers to his operation. The woman, Betty Mahall, taped conversations with Baker in which she asked for some "weed" and Baker replied nervously that she should not speak so openly about drug deals on a cell phone. DPS officers also taped Baker meeting Mahall at a Bellmead motel, where he was arrested after consummating a pot deal with Mahall. Baker says he was set up. The trial continues."

Grits can add to their account that Baker was ultimately convicted (no longer free).

Another item from the same issue has supervisors wondering how marijuana keeps getting into the jail:

"And down in the Rio Grande Valley, a Cameron County, Texas, assistant jail supervisor is under investigation for allegedly providing marijuana to inmates, the Brownsville Herald reported. Orlando Gutierrez, 25, was suspended without pay Tuesday for violating other jail policies while the sheriff's office investigates how inmates at the Carrizalez-Rucker Detention Center scored their weed. A drug-sniffing dog alerted on Gutierrez' vehicle, but no drugs were found. Gutierrez is the guilty party, said Capt. Rumaldo Rodriguez. 'We are getting deniability from the officer, but we are working on that,' he said."

One wonders if they were getting merely denials, or actual "deniability," which might imply Gutierrez could back up his denial. A report a few days later said Texas DPS was planning to give Gutierrez a lie detector test, but a search at the Brownsville Herald, where the story broke, found nothing reported since then.

Looking back, DRC Net about a month ago actually spread around my two-part Profile of a Gypsy Cop in the same venue, so let me take this opportunity to offer them a belated thank you for that, and for helping work Grits' side of the street on the bad cops question -- there's too much going on in Texas to catch it all, even if I was staffed to do it. Plus it's more fun to look forward to the weekly Drug War Chronicle, to which you can subscribe for free by going here.