Saturday, March 18, 2006

DRC Net dishes Texas drug war corruption, with a side helping of Grits

I've mentioned approvingly how the weekly Drug War Chronicle performs the mitzvah of cataloguing stories of drug-war-related law enforcement corruption across the country. I might turn supplementing their Texas stories into a regular feature. They always seem to have some Texas cases, and there always seem to be a few more lying around Grits' cutting room floor that together add up to a real post.

Most officers never engage in severe misconduct or corruption, but when they do it's a serious breach of public trust. Gathering anecdotes on the blog has been a useful tool for me to identify recurring problems with drug task forces and snitching. Over time patterns arise - like incidents where officers steal confidential informant payments - that you don't always see looking at official reports from open records requests. Similarly, watching DRC Net's compilation every week, the same types of episodes crop up again and again.

This week's installment mentions two Texas cases - one an undercover narc stealing from the confidential informant fund, the other two Border Patrol agents who tried to cover up after shooting a drug dealer in the ass.
Reported DRC Net:
In Gatesville, Texas, a Coryell County Sheriff's Deputy who serves as an undercover investigator was placed on paid leave February 22 after being accused of stealing money intended for use in drug buys by the Narcotics Division, KCEN-TV reported. Senior Deputy Gary Medford, a 21-year veteran, is being investigated by the Texas Rangers. Although the investigation began early last month, it was not made public until last week.
In the other Texas case, the story was not about cash-or-drug related corruption but the deeply entrenched blue wall of silence, or whatever that ugly, greenish color would be for the Border Patrol:
In El Paso, Texas, two Border Patrol agents who shot a fleeing drug courier in the buttocks were found guilty March 9 of assault, weapons crimes, tampering with evidence, and deprivation of civil rights. Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean face at least 10 years in federal prison for shooting Osvaldo Andrade Davila, a Mexican citizen, as he fled back across the border when they interrupted his effort to carry a package of drugs into the US. Ramos and Compean also conspired to cover up the shooting by removing spent shell casings from the scene. The pair turned down a plea bargain for 18-month sentences. They have been suspended with pay since the February 2005 incident, and Border Patrol officials said they will now consider firing them.
It's really a great service for the Drug War Chronicle to keep track of these anecdotal examples. Last week DRCNet covered the Troup, TX police department's closure for alleged distribution of dope from the evidence locker.

But they missed a couple of other recent Texas cases. (Who can keep up with them all? I missed the ones they wrote about.) For example, prison guard Curtis Hinson from the Stiles unit in Beaumont was caught near the border last month after a brief highway chase with 21 pounds of marijuana
stuffed into the spare tire of his truck. He claims he was set up.

And here's a doozy: In Odessa, Texas, guards at the Ector county jail were allegedly dealing drugs to their obviously captive audience. A local
TV-news station reported that:
Three jailers have been arrested and are accused of selling drugs and other contraband to inmates in an Odessa detention center.

Six witnesses, including inmates, assisted authorities in a sting that led to the February arrests of 32-year-old Anthony Moya, 31-year-old Fernando Nieto and 30-year-old David G. Anaya.

Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson fired the three after the arrests.

The former Ector County Detention Center jailers are accused of taking contraband to inmates -- including cocaine, marijuana, tobacco and a cell phone.

Prosecutors say in return, the jailers received money and weapons from people the inmates knew outside the jail.
Jailers vending coke, pot, cigarettes and cell phones to inmates - that's what qualifies as room service in the county jail, I guess. I'm reminded of a Grits commenter who once queried, if we can't keep drugs out of prisons and jails, what makes anyone think we can keep them out of schools? It's a good question.

Anyway, that's DRC Net's account of drug war corruption in Texas for the week, with a helping of Grits on the side.


Anonymous said...

If you read this post carefully, you'll see what's ahead in Texas. DEA will now respond to local tips; work local cases and they refer to it as a DEA "Regional" drug task force. This isn't something new but it does reflect the loss of one federal fund and the need to switch to another. If you pay close attention to this area, watch an instant OCDETF investigation with a press release that this new task force has just dismantled a multi state, multi jurisdictional drug trafficking organization completely. Then another one. Then another one. Then another one. Then another one.

Disbanding drug unit -- huge mistake or great change?

Anonymous said...

Looks like we have one of those multiple head beasts or snakes of Biblical proportions. Chop one head off and another grows in it's place.

We all knew this would happen...but hey...pass me a hoe.

Anonymous said...

The libs brought it on themselves. The drug war is a machine that is too valuable to die.

But that's what happens when you target the wrong sub-issues for your ultimate agenda. You choose to address your battles with misinformation, and you'll get the same in return.

Anonymous said...

grits, the thing that caused me to find "gritsforbkfst" in the first place was the night I was brewing over my truck that was stolen by a snitch here in Ark. The guy is a menace-and I know now what I only thought when it happened-that he's a paid informant to the local p.d. Although, he tells people that he's wanted and in fact the police have used chasing him into a residence or place they want to search or check out what's going on without having to get a warrent. They aren't really chasing him though. In August the guy took my truck and I didn't report it stolen-at first-because even though I never gave him permission to drive it off that day I still felt like that would be being a rat. He uses and manufactures dope too. BUT that isn't what I want him or anyone he's with getting arrested for so I did hesitate in reporting it stolen and eventually I dropped the charges a few weeks later because the investigators turned out to be very unconcerned with catching him or finding my truck. When I went down to complain about the fact that I had given the police several calls to tell them exactly where he was(it is a small town and it's not real easy to stay hidden out too long)b/c I had seen him they didn't even come to the place where He was. I said something to the investigator that I spoke to that day to drop the charges about my knowing he was an informant and she didn't deny the allegation. The sad thing is he has stolen a number of people's vehicles-(one a 19 yr old girl with a 6 mon old baby)among other things and they'd rather continue getting info from him than getting justice for the people he steals from.