A deep dive into kratom, the herb that helps with opioid withdrawal

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Kratom (previously) is a widely used herb that has been very effective in treating opioid withdrawal and other chronic, hard-to-treat conditions -- it also became very controversial this year because the DEA decided, without evidence, to class it as a dangerous drug, and then changed its mind (unprecedented!) after a mass-scale petition that included interventions from members of Congress. Read the rest

DEA bribes rail/airline employees for tipoffs that lead to warrantless cash seizures

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A USA Today investigation has discovered a network of paid informants working for Amtrak and nearly every US airline who illegally delve into passengers' travel records to find people who might be traveling with a lot of cash: these tip-offs are used by the DEA to effect civil forfeiture -- seizing money without laying any charges against its owner, under the rubric that the cash may be proceeds from drug sales. One Amtrak secretary was secretly paid $854,460 to raid her employer's databases for the DEA. Read the rest

DEA ignored prosecutor's warning about illegal wiretap warrants, now it's losing big

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For years, the DEA relied on a Riverside, California magistrate judge, Helios Hernandez, to write illegal wiretap warrants, making Hernandez the national champion of wiretapping warrants, signing off on five times more than any other judge in America. Read the rest

EFF and Human Rights Watch force DEA to destroy its mass surveillance database

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The EFF has just settled a case against the Drug Enforcement Agency on behalf of its client, Human Rights Watch, which sued the Agency over its decades-long program of illegal mass surveillance. Read the rest

Federal agents seize 30,000 marijuana plants on Menominee Native American tribal land

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DEA agents descended on Menominee County in Wisconsin last Friday, to destroy what the tribal authorities say was an industrial hemp crop. The DEA says it was “high-grade marijuana,” and they're not apologizing. The chairman of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin says the DEA had no right to the cannabis, and the DEA boasts of seizing some 30,000 plants in all.

Read the rest

Information leakage shows DEA blew millions on the secret phone trackers it won't admit it bought

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Michael from Muckrock says, "Over the past ten years, the Drug Enforcement Administration has spent millions of dollars on cell phone tracking. Federal purchasing documents that are already posted online indicate the make and model of the tracking device, and often even the DEA field office that bought it, according to federal payment records reviewed by MuckRock." Read the rest

The new narcocorridos for escaped drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman

A boy stands next to a police car with a picture of fugitive drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's at a checkpoint on the highway connecting Mexico City and Acapulco, in Guerrero State, Mexico.
Pedro Pardo, AFP/Getty via NPR
Sinaloa drug cartel boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was barely out of maximum-security prison when musicians all around Mexico started uploading hot musical takes about his (again) escape.

WATCH: Chapo Guzmán escape route video with narco-corrido soundtrack

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Gawker's Jesus Diaz points us to this bangin' video charting the escape route of noted Sinaloa drug cartel boss Chapo Guzmán, with a narco-corrido soundtrack. Read the rest

CA police raid medical weed dispensary, eat edibles, destroy cameras [UPDATED]

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They ordered customers on the ground, made fun of a disabled (amputee) worker, then gorged on edibles.

DEA agents lied about owning "New Jersey's sleaziest strip club"

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Sex-for-hire. Smuggled strippers. Tip-skimming. Given the DEA's penchant for participating in sex parties funded by drug cartels, is it any surprise a couple of DEA agents were caught running the Twins Go-Go Lounge (aka "New Jersey's sleaziest strip club")? And, as you might expect, they were doing a lousy job of it:

If the DEA agents-turned-strip club owners were trying to keep their antics off the blotter sheets at the local weekly paper, they failed miserably.

Nor were they very good at running the joint. According to the complaint, it seemed that every day a mop head to scrub the condoms off the lap dance room floors went missing; the cooler was on the fritz, which meant warm beers; the cash till was always too low; the help kept forgetting to pick up the sandwiches at Wal-Mart; girls were getting pink-slipped without getting each owner’s OK.

Glover was supposed to be the one “in charge of dealing with the dancers,” the complaint states. From each girl, he allegedly skimmed $10-$30 per night for the right to kick their heels at Twins Plus.

All the while, he made fun of the dancers behind their backs. In one email exchange, recounted in the complaint, a Twins manager calls out the dark-skinned dancers. “Maybe [the exterminator] can eliminate some of the colored girls,” the manager wrote. Glover seemed to go along with the disparaging jab in his emailed response: “You can get rid of all the black girls if you want if you find other ones first.”

A fellow DEA agent told The Daily Beast: “Sometimes good people screw up and do stupid things.” Read the rest

DEA takes $16,000 cash from black man on train, leaves him penniless

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The takeaway from this story: never consent to a warrantless search.

On April 15 a DEA agent boarded a passenger train in Albuquerque and began grilling people about where they were going and why. Joseph Rivers, a 22-year-old black man, told the agent he was going to LA to make a music video. The agent asked Rivers if he could search his bags, and Rivers, bless his naive heart, consented. The agent didn't find drugs or weapons, but he found $16,000 in cash, so he took it, simply because a black man with that much money must be a drug dealer.

Joline Gutierrez Krueger of the Albuquerque Journal writes,

Rivers was left penniless, his dream deferred.

“These officers took everything that I had worked so hard to save and even money that was given to me by family that believed in me,” Rivers said in his email. “I told (the DEA agents) I had no money and no means to survive in Los Angeles if they took my money. They informed me that it was my responsibility to figure out how I was going to do that.”

Other travelers had witnessed what happened. One of them, a New Mexico man I’ve written about before but who asked that I not mention his name, provided a way for Rivers to get home, contacted attorneys – and me.

“He was literally like my guardian angel that came out of nowhere,” Rivers said.

Joseph Rivers has a GoFundMe campaign to replace the $16,000. Read the rest

Court says DEA is allowed to secretly fill your truck with weed, get into firefights with Zetas

Craig Patty asked his employee Lawrence Chapa to help take one of his two trucks to the garage, not realizing that Chapa was a DEA undercover planning to fill the truck with weed, which ended in a firefight with a Los Zetas hit squad that killed the driver, who was a DEA informant. Read the rest

DEA and Secret Service agent charged in Silk Road fraud schemes

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Former DEA agent Carl Mark Force IV and former Secret Service agent Shaun W. Bridges were charged this week with money laundering and wire fraud stemming from their involvement in the Silk Road dark web undercover investigation. Read the rest

DEA agents enjoyed sex parties funded by drug cartels

How do you deal with DEA agents who participate in sex parties with prostitutes funded by Colombian drug cartels? By giving some of them suspensions of two to 10 days. Read the rest

DEA's D&D-themed patches

They may be corrupt, authoritarian, racist and sleazy, but their FPRG-inspired mission patches are cool -- but of course, square-ass pinks who take jobs as DEA spooks are so lame that they flog them on Ebay, for your ironic fashion pleasure.

Dungeons and Dragons-themed DEA Patches

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Surveillance state: the NSA doesn't stand alone

The NSA is supposed to be America's offshore spy agency, forbidden from spying on Americans. But as an important article by the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Nadia Kayyali points out, the FBI, DEA and other US agencies have closely integrated the NSA into their own efforts, using the NSA's mass surveillance to gather intelligence on Americans -- as Glenn Greenwald's No Place to Hide discloses, the NSA isn't a stand-alone agency, it is part of an overarching surveillance state. Read the rest

Obama on pot smoking in newly-legal CO and WA: "Bigger fish to fry"

Photo: Shutterstock. "Young man eating leaves of hemp. Shoot in the field of marijuana."

“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Obama told ABC News' Barbara Walters, speaking about marijuana smokers in Colorado and Washington.

In those two states, recreational use is now legal, but the DEA still has a hard-on for weed prohibition, as demonstrated by the agency's ongoing and aggressive dispensary raids in CA. According to the president, going after potsmokers in states where it's legal is no longer a high (heh) priority.

“It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal,” he said. 

“This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law,” Obama told Walters of the legalization in Colorado and Washington. “I head up the executive branch; we’re supposed to be carrying out laws. And so what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about, how do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal?”

More in the Washington Post. Read the rest

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