Hundreds of convicted doctors still practising (U.K.)

Medical chiefs say they cannot automatically ban convicted doctors because it   may breach their human rights

A man with a stethoscope around his neck

A man with a stethoscope around his neck Photo: PA

By Agencies

10:00PM GMT 24 Nov 2013

More than 750 GPs, surgeons and other doctors have kept their jobs despite   being found guilty of offences including taking indecent images of children,   drug trafficking and fraud.

Medical chiefs have said they cannot automatically ban convicted doctors   because it may breach their human rights.

Continue reading “Hundreds of convicted doctors still practising (U.K.)”

Drug-running cat caught smuggling pot into prison

21 Oct 2013 03:09

The grey and white feline nipped through the jail’s perimeter fence with bags  of pot tied to its decorative collar




This drug-running cat was snared by prison guards – as it attempted to traffick bags of POT into a jail in Moldova.

Staff at the facility in Pruncul became suspicious after the grey and white  critter was seen regularly nipping in and out of the building through a hole in  the perimeter fence.

Its over-sized decorative collar turned out to contain drugs and the hunt is  now on to find the crook who trained it.

Video footage of the feline being frisked was posted online by Moldova’s  justice ministry.

It is not the first time a cat has been used for the purposes of smuggling  behind the former Iron Curtain.

Prison warders recently caught a cat climbing a fence at a jail in Syktyvkar,  Russia, in June, – with mobile phones and chargers taped to its body.

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In a bizarre lawsuit, six people claim police ran an “unethical clinical trial,” getting them high on illegal drugs

EEV: It sounds unbelievable until you read the police testimony towards the bottom

Cops Gave Out Dope for Experiment, Six Say


MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – In a bizarre lawsuit, six people claim police ran an “unethical clinical trial,” getting them high on illegal drugs to study them on dope, even giving them pot to take home – in exchange for information on the Occupy movement.

The plaintiffs claim police officers picked them up, gave them large quantities of marijuana and other illegal drugs, observed them while drugged, then dropped them off, “in a high and incoherent state.”

The police even gave them Baggies full of pot to take home, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs say the police lured homeless people and drug addicts with food, cigarettes and illegal drugs to use and take home, and even threatened to arrest them if they did not participate.

Police did no medical evaluations first, and one man, who says he has schizophrenia and epilepsy, claims police picked him up, told him, “we’ll get you high,” then gave him “a quarter of a baggie filled with marijuana to take home in ‘exchange’ for information on the Occupy Minneapolis movement.”

Lead plaintiff Michael Bounds sued Minnesota, the Minnesota State Patrol, Sgt. Riccardo Munoz, “The 26 Participants in the 2012 ‘Drug Recognition Evaluators Program,’ who are named, and their many police departments, in Federal Court.

Bounds claims the defendants gave illegal drugs to Occupy Minneapolis protesters, homeless people and drug addicts, to study their behavior while high, as part of the “Drug Recognition Evaluators” (DRE) program.

“The DRE program was essentially an unethical clinical trial whereby armed police officers provided vulnerable members of the public with substantial quantities of marijuana (presumably obtained from police evidence in other cases), encouraged them to get high, observed them, and then abandoned them while they were still high,” the complaint states.

“This program purportedly existed for the purpose of allowing law enforcement to understand what individuals look and act like while high.

“In actuality, the parties that designed and ran the program wished to target members of Occupy Minneapolis, members of the homeless population, and other vulnerable members of the population and see what quantity of drugs their bodies could tolerate.” (Parentheses in complaint).

The plaintiffs say police never asked about their medical history, and did not provide them with an informed consent form, in violation of federal laws governing human subject research.

Lead plaintiff Bounds, an Occupy Minneapolis protester who suffers from epilepsy and schizophrenia, claims two officers got him high on marijuana and dropped him off in downtown Minneapolis without running any tests on him.

“On or around April 26, 2012, Mr. Bounds encountered two armed officers participating in the DRE program,” the complaint states.

“Mr. Bounds was asked whether he was high; he responded that he was not. One of the officers in turn responded, ‘That’s alright, we’ll get you high.’

“Officers then provided him with a substantial quantity of powerful marijuana.

“Officers did not conduct any evaluation of him afterwards; rather, he was simply released in downtown Minneapolis while high.

“Mr. Bounds was also given a quarter of a baggie filled with marijuana to take home in ‘exchange’ for information on the Occupy Minneapolis movement.”

The other plaintiffs describe similar experiences.

Forest Olivier, another Occupy member, claims two officers put him in the back of a squad car, where he smoked “a substantial quantity of marijuana” that the police gave him.

“The defendants’ unethical and illegal conduct was first brought to light by Occupy Minneapolis; in response, officers falsely denied the allegations and attempted to cast doubts upon the truthfulness of the Occupy members,” the complaint states.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigated after officers in the program made the same allegations, according to the complaint.

“During the investigation, one officer testified as to his belief that instructors ‘skirted the line’ in connection with the program, while another testified that ‘morals are gone,'” the complaint states.

Two of the officers admitted providing illegal drugs to people, while others refused to speak to the Bureau, the complaint states. The DRE program was suspended after the investigation, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs seek more than $1 million in compensatory and punitive damages for violations of the U.S. and Minnesota Constitutions and federal and state laws, and they want Minnesota enjoined from running the program again.

They are represented by Nathan Hansen of North St. Paul.


Mexico’s Zetas drug cartel strikes gold in the coal business

By Agence France-Presse Saturday, November 17, 2012 23:03 EST

A Mexican soldier guards the entrance to the Pasta de Conchos coal mine in 2006 in San Juan de Sabinas, Coahuila state, Mexico

They may be known for flashy cars and state of the art weaponry, but Mexican druglords have found an earthy new source of wealth: dirty old coal.

They are mining it themselves in a coal-rich area along the US border or buying it from small mine operators, then reselling it to a state-owned company at fabulous margins that can see them make a profit 30 times greater than their initial investment.

Along the way, besides the earth’s black bounty, the druglords are seeking to reap credibility as legitimate business people.

First word of the Zetas drug cartel’s presence in mining-heavy Coahuila state came in October from a former governor, Humberto Moreira, who blamed the notoriously violent group for his son’s death.

The Mexican Mining Association says Mexico produces 15 million tonnes of coal a year, worth $3.8 billion. About 95 percent of it comes from Coahuila.

Reforma newspaper says the Zetas produce or buy 10,000 tonnes of coal a week. Selling it at their inflated prices, that means yearly revenue of $22 million to $25 million.

The Zetas were created for former Mexican military special forces operatives who worked for the Gulf cartel. But they broke away from that group to control lucrative drug trafficking routes to the United States and engage in other crimes such as extortion, people trafficking and fuel theft.

“The Zetas are the first Mexican cartel to diversify from drugs into other areas,” said Tomas Borges, author of a book on the cartels.

Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano was shot and killed by authorities October 7 in the coal mining town of Progreso. Hi body was later stolen by armed men.

Moreira says the drug lord had his own coal pit in the region.

But the Zetas presence is not new. Raul Vera, bishop of Coahuila’s capital Saltillo, said drug traffickers have been digging coal for years and doing it in areas where it is illegal.

“It is an open secret that drug traffickers are infiltrating the coal mines. But since Moreira spoke out, we have seen police and military around and we know they arrested several people,” a coal industry businessman in Agujita said on condition of anonymity.

Highway 57 heading north to the United States runs through a dusty black area where piles of coal from small, precariously operated mines dot the landscape. Fatal accidents are common.

Trucks loaded with coal are stopped at checkpoints manned by soldiers looking for drug traffickers and drug shipments.

Since the Zetas discovered coal, violence has been on the rise, especially in a town of 150,000 called Piedras Negras, or black stones.

For drug cartels, diversification is almost a natural evolution, said Antonio Mazzitelli of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

In Colombia, for instance, traffickers infiltrated gold and coal mines and also dealt in oil.

“Corruption is their main tool for doing business, and also violence, if necessary,” Mazzitelli said.

Legitimate businesses help cartels launder money and bring in extra revenue, added Eduardo Salcedo, a Colombian who co-authored of a book on how drug cartels have reshaped Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico.

Such business activities allow them not just to bring in more money “but above all gain social and political legitimacy,” Salcedo said.

Traffickers want to be able to “legalize their leaders and activities and join the formal economy, and be able to operate in society in a more relaxed way,” he explained.

But that quiet end does not always involve peaceful means.

Traffickers sometimes kidnap, mug or even kill miners and their bosses, or force them into business-sharing agreements, said Salcedo.

In Coahuila, some companies without mines or employees have contracts with local coal industry promoter Prodemi, according to a researcher from a local organization founded by relatives of miners who died in a 2006 accident that claimed 65 lives.

“There are mines that have a capacity for 30,000 tonnes but have contracts for 150,000. What they are selling is not what they are producing,” added the researcher, who requested anonymity.

“They are buying it from a third party and that is where all these people come in, be they Zetas or not, legal or not, clandestine or not.”


Outcry over jailed Russian chemist

Narcotics expert Olga Zelenina falsely accused of aiding drug trafficking, say supporters.

The Russian chemist stands accused of complicity in organized drug trafficking, and is currently imprisoned in Moscow’s detention centre number 6, where she shares a cell with Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of the prominent activist punk band Pussy Riot.

But Zelenina’s supporters say she is the victim of a monstrous miscarriage of justice, and has done nothing more than provide an expert opinion on the opiate content of a consignment of poppy seeds. They are pessimistic that a court hearing scheduled for 24 September will result in her immediate release.

Expert witness

Zelenina heads a laboratory at the Penza Agricultural Institute, some 600 kilometres southeast of Moscow, one of the best-equipped chemical-analysis labs in Russia. She is a specialist in the biology of hemp and poppy, and is a sought-after expert in legal cases involving narcotics produced from these plants.

“Surely you cannot put a scientist in jail just because you don’t like her opinion?”

In September 2011, the defence attorneys of Sergey Shilov, a Russian businessman under investigation by the Russian Federal Drug Control Service (FDCS), asked her to provide an expert opinion on the amount of opiates that could possibly be extracted from 42 metric tonnes of food poppy seeds that Shilov had imported from Spain in 2010.

Cultivation of the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) has been banned in Russia since 1997. But the import of poppy seeds for use in foods, such as cakes and bread, is legal — as long as they are 100% free of narcotic opium alkaloids such as morphine and codeine. Poppy seeds do not contain these alkaloids, but other parts of the plant that do, such as poppy straw, can become mixed into shipments as a result of poor harvesting practices.

In her expert report, Zelenina stated that it is technically impossible to fully eliminate such impurities from poppy seeds, as Russian laws require. She also wrote that the seized seeds did not contain any deliberately added narcotic compounds, says Natalia Andreeva, Zelenina’s Moscow-based lawyer.

On the basis of gas-chromatography and mass-spectrometry measurements of samples analysed in her lab, Zelenina calculated the overall morphine and codeine content in the poppy-seed consignment in question to be 0.00069% and 0.00049%, respectively. In such low concentrations, opiates can only be identified or extracted in well-equipped analytical chemistry labs, she wrote.

“This opinion apparently failed to satisfy the prosecutors,” says Irina Levontina, a linguist at the Russian Language Institute in Moscow, who is frequently heard as an expert in libel and drug lawsuits. “It has become quite common for Russian prosecutors to accuse independent experts if they don’t like their opinions. It can be downright dangerous for experts to appear in court.”

Summary arrest

In the early morning of 15 August, a group of FDCS officials accompanied by masked and armed members of a special police unit entered Zelenina’s home in Lunino, a town in the district of Penza. They arrested her and took her to Moscow, where she was charged with aiding and abetting attempted drug trafficking by an organized group. On 20 August, a judge at Moscow’s Zyuzino District Court ordered her detention until 15 October, says Andreeva.

“Olga Zelenina has been asked for her honest scientific expert opinion and is now kept in jail for no reason other than having provided just that,” says Mikhail Gelfand, a biologist at the Institute for Information Transmission Problems in Moscow. “I have read her report, and to me it looks absolutely reasonable. There is no justification at all to keep her in detention.”

“Olga has done nothing else than her duty as a scientist and as a citizen,” adds Andreeva. “Surely you cannot put a scientist in jail just because you don’t like her opinion?”

A Moscow city court will decide on Monday whether she will be released from detention until an as-yet unscheduled trial date.

Journal name:
Nature DOI: doi:10.1038/nature.2012.11462

Children as young as seven and eight are using ecstasy and cannabis, according to an official report.

From The Telegraph

By Martin Beckford, Home Affairs Editor

10:00PM BST 26 Jul 2012

A Home Office survey found that some drug users had admitted taking ecstasy   when they were just seven years old, while others said they smoked cannabis   at age eight. The youngest reported user of cocaine was just nine.

It is the first time that the crime survey report included the lowest ages at   which respondents said they had tried the three most commonly taken banned   substances.

Detailed figures showed that almost a third of young people and adults who had   ever taken cannabis, now a Class B drug, first tried it when they were under   16.

By the same age, when buying alcohol and cigarettes is still illegal, 6 per   cent of those who had ever taken Class A powder cocaine had tried it.

Of all those who had ever taken ecstasy pills, classified as Class A, 8.2 per   cent had done so before their 16th birthday

Analysis   of drug misuse in the 2011-12 Crime Survey for England and Wales,   published on Thursday, said: “The most commonly reported age for first   taking cannabis was 16 years. But, as expected, there was a lot of variation   among adults in the age cannabis was reported to be first taken, ranging   from eight to 56 years old (with an overall average of around 18 years).

“Age of onset was most commonly 18 for cocaine powder, but again this was   within a wide range of reported ages, from nine to 57 years old (the average   reported age of onset was about 21 years).

“The most commonly reported age of onset for ecstasy was 18 years. Again, the   first age of use reported by adults varied considerably, between seven and   51 years old (with an average of around 20 years for age of onset).”

However although some survey respondents claimed to have taken narcotics while   very young, in general drug misuse continues to decline.

The proportion of adults aged between 16 and 59 who had used an illicit drug   in the past year stood at 8.9 per cent, “around the lowest level since   measurement began in 1996”. Drug-taking among young people aged 16 to 24 has   also fallen.

Over the past decade there has been a “notable decline” in cannabis use along   with a smaller fall in use of ecstasy, and a recent drop in cocaine use.   Amphetamines have fallen “markedly” out of favour since the 1990s.

Even the popularity of new highs such as mephedrone, known as meow meow,   appears to be on the wane with 3.3 per cent of young people taking it in the   past year, compared with 4.4 per cent in 2010-11.

Separate figures also suggested that are becoming healthier. An NHS study   found that drug-taking among secondary school pupils had fallen by 12 per   cent over the past decade.

A quarter of 11 to 15-year-olds had ever tried a cigarette, the lowest   proportion since the survey across England began in 1982.

Jeremy Todd, chief executive of the charity Family Lives, added: “Whilst news   that the number of schoolchildren taking illegal drugs, smoking and drinking   alcohol has declined, many parents will still be struggling when their   teenager begins to experiment.

“We speak to thousands of families every year and evidence shows that parents   are the main influence on how children approach drugs and alcohol.

“Equipping parents with the tools to ensure they can talk effectively with   their children is the best way of preventing children experimenting at an   early age and can prevent later problems in teenage and adult life.”