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Archive for August, 2013

Marijuana-wrapped arrow shot at Wash. jail

Courtesy of: http://news.yahoo.com/marijuana-wrapped-arrow-shot-wash-jail-234949171.html

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BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — A man is accused of trying to get marijuana into a Washington state jail by attaching it to an arrow he shot onto the roof.

A Whatcom County sheriff’s employee saw the man step out of his pickup truck and use a bow to launch the arrow toward the jail’s second-floor recreation area, but it missed its target.

Sheriff Bill Elfo says the man, identified as 36-year-old David Wayne Jordan, was arrested for investigation of introducing contraband into the jail, resisting arrest and obstructing law enforcement.

The Bellingham Herald reports (http://is.gd/BKajJv ) Jordan served 20 days in the jail earlier this month for assault and resisting arrest.

The sheriff says Jordan told deputies he had been aiming at a squirrel, but he couldn’t explain why he needed to attach marijuana to the arrow to go squirrel hunting.

Police Use YouTube To Bust New Hampshire Man Kyle Berry For Growing Marijuana

http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/crime/police-use-youtube-bust-new-hampshire-man-kyle-berry-growing-marijuana#

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Though the American public is becoming more and more accepting of the idea of legalized marijuana, citizens caught with the plant are still punished pretty harshly.

New Hampshire resident Kyle Berry is finding this out all too well.

Berry has been arrested and convicted for manufacturing a controlled substance after police found 16 marijuana plants and one pound of loose marijuana at his house.

Police tracked down Berry after seeing 35 YouTube videos posted by him on how to grow marijuana at home. Berry is not seen in any of the videos, but his reflection can be seen on a shiny surface and his name appears on a label in one of his tutorials.

“He’s not the brightest person in the world,” said Rockingham County Sheriff Michael Downing. “There’s indications that he was selling the product. This isn’t the first grow he’s had.”

Berry claims he was growing the drug for his own use, but presiding Judge Marguerite Wageling doubts this claim.

Berry told prosecutors he has been growing marijuana for about eight months. He pleaded guilty to charges of manufacturing a controlled substance.

This is not Berry’s first encounter with the law. He has faced previous charges shoplifting and driving without a license.

Scuba diver arrested, accused of smuggling 8 pounds of pot across U.S.-Canada border

Courtesy of: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/-scuba-diver-tries-smuggling-8-pounds-of-pot-across-u-s–canada-border-020055721.html

underwater mj

A man equipped with scuba gear was arrested after allegedly hauling 8 pounds of marijuana into the U.S., crossing the U.S.-Canada border underwater, according to border officials.

The Sun News reports that the man, whose name has not been released by authorities, made the swim in the dead of night.

“If there’s a freighter coming through there, there’s no way for a freighter to stop. That’s a very, very dangerous thing to do,” Greg Grogan, a public affairs officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told the newspaper.

After a tip from a local resident, surveillance cameras with the Operational Integration Center at Selfridge Air National Guard Base spotted the diver and noted that he appeared to be towing a heavy object behind him.

Border patrol guards located the man as he was crossing from Ontario in Canada into Marine City, Mich., at around 1 a.m.

“We picked up his image on our camera and could see he was carrying something,” Grogan said.

Despite the inherent risks involved in his journey, the man reportedly made it into Michigan unscathed. However, border agents quickly apprehended him and watertight containers containing the pot.

Grogan said this was the first incident he had ever heard of where someone tried to smuggle pot underwater.

Ironically, the Canadian man probably wouldn’t have had much trouble transporting marijuana through legal means.

Medical marijuana is legal in both Ontario and Michigan, one of 20 U.S. states that have passed a law legalizing medical marijuana. Patients who are registered and qualified to use medical marijuana in the state are allowed to grow their own medical pot or obtain it from a caregiver.

Ohio man finds load of marijuana stashed in gun safe

Courtesy of: http://news.yahoo.com/ohio-man-finds-load-marijuana-stashed-gun-safe-022707095.html

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TOLEDO, Ohio (Reuters) – A man in western Ohio found nearly 300 pounds of marijuana stuffed into a Mexican-made gun-storage safe that he recently purchased on the Internet, authorities revealed on Sunday.

The 1,000-pound steel safe, ordered from Champion Safe Co. of Provo, Utah, was made in Nogales, Mexico, and shipped by truck from Mexico to Champion’s warehouse near Mansfield, Ohio, Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart said.

The safe was delivered on June 19 to the customer in western Ohio by an independent driver working for Champion, Lenhart said.

The marijuana, tightly wrapped in 10, 28-pound packages, has an estimated street value of $420,000, according to Lenhart. He said the truck’s shipment contained 25 to 30 safes, and that all the others were free of drugs.

Lenhart said his office has been working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on the case and had decided not to reveal it publicly to avoid impeding the investigation. Authorities are not releasing the name of the customer for personal safety reasons.

The driver who delivered the safe to the customer has been cleared of any wrongdoing, but the driver who delivered the shipment from Mexico to Ohio is missing, according to Lenhart.

He said the DEA normally would not be interested in what is considered by federal agents to be a relatively small amount of marijuana. But the DEA is interested in learning more about the delivery method and size of such an operation.

“It’s a pretty decent way of smuggling,” Lenhart said. “My guess is that it’s not the first time it’s happened.”

Man’s craving for pornography gets him busted for church burglary

Courtesy of: http://www.krmg.com/news/news/local/mans-longing-pornography-gets-him-busted-burglary/nZG8w/

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Owasso, Okla. —

Troy Ridling confesses to stealing a computer from a church back in July.

It took him 2 1/2 weeks to get there.

Police say an employee at the Owasso First Assembly of God called officers about the stolen computer.  He tipped off officers it had to be somebody familiar with the church because there were no signs of a break in and nothing else was touched.

It turned out he was right.  Ridling used to attend services.

Still, OPD didn’t get a break into the case until the church employee was contacted by a tracking software company.  Covenant Eyes told the employee somebody had been trying to look up pornography on the computer.

Police say Ridling even contacted Covenant Eyes to try and get them to take down the monitoring software on the computer.  He was denied and the call allowed officers to track him down.

Once in custody, Ridling tried to deny stealing the computer despite officers finding the device at his home.  Police say he did finally confess to the theft.

Ridling is currently in the Tulsa County Jail.

Why Your Cell Phone’s Location Isn’t Protected by the Fourth Amendment

Courtesy of: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/08/why-your-cell-phones-location-isnt-protected-by-the-fourth-amendment.html

People busy with their smartphones in New York city

In a major decision last week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the location of your cell phone when you place a call is not protected by the Fourth Amendment, which guards against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Whenever you make a cell-phone call, your phone provider knows where you are—it needs that information in order to find your device and complete the call. Phone companies generally keep records of users’ locations when calls are connected and disconnected. These logs, which store data about which cellular sites phones connect to, are known as historical cell-site records. Since most people keep their cell phones with them, a record of a phone’s location generally provides a good lead on its owner’s location as well. If the Feds want to know where you were last Tuesday at 9 P.M., for example, they can get a pretty good idea by finding out where your phone was.

The important legal question is how much protection these records receive when the government wants to make providers turn them over. In other words, what kind of evidence should the government be required to present in order to get your location records from a cell-phone company?

Legal protections generally come in two forms: statutory protections enacted by Congress and constitutional protections recognized by the courts. Congress has protected historical cell-site records with an intermediate threshold sometimes called reasonable suspicion. That’s the same standard it must meet to justify stopping and frisking someone for suspicious activity. Under Congress’s law, the government generally needs to go to a federal judge with reasonable grounds for suspecting that the records reveal a crime in order to access them.

If the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures protected cell-site records, the government would be required to satisfy a higher legal standard known as probable cause in order to obtain the records—the level of certainty required to arrest someone or to search their home for evidence. And unlike privacy protections enacted by Congress, constitutional protections can’t be taken away by a future legislature.

But in the new decision, the Fifth Circuit held that the Fourth Amendment does not apply to historical cell-site information; statutory protections are their only shield. If you want more privacy, the court suggested, your best options are to call your Congressman or to ask your phone company to enact a new policy to delete or anonymize its records.

The heart of the court’s reasoning is that there’s a difference between communicating with the phone company to set up a call and communicating through the company during the conversation that follows. When you’re actually talking on the phone, the content of the call belongs to you and the person you’re talking to—and the phone company can’t listen in. If the government wants to tap the line, the Fourth Amendment applies and the government needs a warrant.

But when you place a call, you need the phone company to route and direct the call over its network, and to do that, your cell phone needs to communicate with the phone company and disclose its location. That, the court reasoned, is communication between you and the company. And the record of whatever information your phone sent to the company belongs to the company, not to you. If it wants to keep that record for business purposes, it can. And if the government wants that record from the phone company, that’s an issue between the two of them—not an issue between the phone company and you.

The appeals court’s reasoning follows the 1979 Supreme Court decision in Smith v. Maryland, which found no Fourth Amendment protection in the numbers dialed to place a call. According to that case, when you dial a phone, you’re communicating to the phone company just like people communicated with a human operator before phones had dials. The court ruled that while new technology had automated the process, it made no substantive difference.

As a matter of precedent, the appeals court’s decision accurately follows Smith v. Maryland. Lower courts are obliged to follow Supreme Court decisions, and the analogy between dialing numbers and sending cell-phone locations is pretty close.

There’s also a subtle wisdom behind the reasoning of Smith and the Fifth Circuit decision. In a world before communications networks, the Fourth Amendment protected the inside of your home, but it didn’t apply outside. If you wanted to meet with someone in person, you had to go outside, where the police could watch you and learn your movements.

Now, consider the role of the telephone network. Phones let your fingers do the walking: thanks to the network, you don’t have to travel outside to speak to a friend who is miles away. But your location information, told to the phone company, is the network equivalent of the kind of information that used to be exposed to the public—including the police—when you traveled in person to meet.

To maintain the traditional balance of Fourth Amendment protection across new technologies, it makes sense for the Fourth Amendment to protect the contents of calls but not the phone company records about where and when the call occurred. The contents are like a conversation in a home, and should remain protected; the records are like the outside travel, and should remain unprotected.

Others argue that the Fourth Amendment should apply more broadly to keep the government at bay. Some look to the concurring opinions in the 2012 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Jones, which applied the Fourth Amendment to G.P.S. surveillance. In that case, the police suspected Antoine Jones, a nightclub owner in Washington, D.C., of drug trafficking. The police wanted to track his movements to show his involvement in the crime, so they attached a G.P.S. tracking device to the bottom of a car he drove, and monitored it for twenty-eight days. The court ruled that installing the physical device “searched” the car under the Fourth Amendment. Five Justices added separate views that the twenty-eight days of monitoring was a search, even if no physical installation occurred.

If tracking the location of a car over time is regulated by the Fourth Amendment, as five Justices suggested in Jones, why shouldn’t tracking the location of calls receive the same treatment? That argument will receive a serious hearing in other cases now pending in the federal courts. If other courts agree with the latter view, the Supreme Court will likely agree to step in and resolve the lower courts’ disagreement. But don’t expect it to review the Fifth Circuit’s decision: because of the strange way the Fifth Circuit case arose, it can’t.

In most Fourth Amendment cases, there are two sides: the searchers and the searched. Normally, if the government wins in a lower court, the individual can ask a higher court to review that ruling. But in this case, the Feds applied for several orders seeking records under Congress’s privacy statute, and the first judge refused to issue the orders on Fourth Amendment grounds. The government appealed the denial, and the Fifth Circuit ruled for the government. But because the orders have not yet been issued, the government is the only party to the dispute; no records have been collected yet, and we don’t even know who the suspect is. Now that the government has won, no one can appeal. (I filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that the court couldn’t rule on the constitutional issue because of this strange procedure, but the court disagreed.)

The decision is a win for the government and police powers, with the caveat that other cases are pending and may reach a different outcome. And if they disagree, it will be up to the Supreme Court to decide.

Feds: $20 million in Mexican meth seized, eight gang members arrested in raid

Courtesy Of: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/08/06/19900889-feds-20-million-in-mexican-meth-seized-eight-gang-members-arrested-in-raid?lite=

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In the largest single crackdown on organized crime in L.A. County history, a major drug raid Tuesday netted nearly $20 million in meth, and the arrest of eight accused gang members, busting up what federal authorities called an alliance of Mexican outlaws that threatened to wreak havoc on Southern California.

A multi-agency task force raided areas in Montebello as the final salvo in a 20-year federal investigation.

Agents from the DEA and ATF partnered with local law enforcement to nab the suspects, who were key to an alliance being forged between the Mexican Mafia, known as La Eme, and La Familia, a Mexican drug cartel that has made inroads into the illegal drug market in the U.S. in recent years.

The illicit pact, dubbed “The Project” by gang members, would have seen La Familia provide a steady supply of meth to La Eme each month to sell throughout Southern California, according to Sarah Pullen, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

In exchange, La Familia was promised free reign on the streets and protection in prison, said Steven Bogdalek, special agent in charge with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

In addition to the arrests, police seized an array of handguns and other firearms and about 600 pounds of meth which had been accumulated over a span of three years, estimated to have a street value of $19 million.

“Our joint efforts have helped disrupt the plot that could’ve flooded our neighborhoods with tons of methamphetamine and other narcotics,” said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. “We have put to an end an alignment of criminal organizations that would have been unprecedented.”

Before Tuesday’s bust, the DEA had indicted 13 people in connection with “The Project” and arrested five others. After Tuesday’s arrests, all but one are in custody, according to Pullen. The final gang member under indictment is believed to be hiding in Mexico.

“We believe that we have initiated a crippling effect to those members who are still loyal to the Mexican Mafia criminal organization,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca in a statement issued by the ATF.

In a separate indictment, the ATF named 31 street gang members charged with crimes ranging from possession of firearms, drug offenses, aiding and abetting, racketeering and conspiracy. They all face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The last large-scale crackdown on the Mexican Mafia in Southern California occurred in Orange County in 2007, when 100 members and associates were charged. Five were sentenced to life without parole in federal prison.

Husband shoots 2 bank robbery suspects who kidnapped him, his wife

Courtesy of: http://www.khou.com/news/editors-pick/Bank-employee-husband-escape-robbery-suspects-in-Columbus-218148611.html?google_editors_picks=true

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COLUMBUS, Texas — Two bank robbery suspects were shot in Colorado County Thursday night by a man who said they kidnapped him and his wife, a bank employee.

According to the Colorado County Sheriff’s Office, the couple had been held at gunpoint by the suspects inside their home just north of Columbus. They were then forced to drive to the First National Bank of Eagle Lake in Columbus.

The suspects then forced the woman to take out an undisclosed amount of funds, investigators said.

“We believe they had knowledge that she was an employee of the bank for them to be at the residence and to take her back,” Sgt. Andrew Weido with the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office said.

He said the suspects then forced the husband to drive them in his truck south down Highway 71, and that’s when the husband of the bank employee was able to gain access to a firearm inside the vehicle.

He fired at the suspects near County Road 101. Authorities then responded to a 911 call from the scene at 7:30 p.m. with the Columbus Police Department arriving first.

When they arrived, officers found the two suspects with gunshot wounds lying on the ground near a pickup that was parked in a ditch.

One of the wounded, 20-year-old Jordan Kutach, was airlifted to Memorial Hermann Hospital in critical condition. The other, 21-year-old Preston Kutach, was taken by EMS to the Columbus Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Both suspects lived in the community of Rock Island and neighbors said they were brothers.

The bank’s president, Sam Kana, tells KHOU 11 News he is thankful and blessed that the couple was not hurt.

Those who know them said the husband is a reserve officer with the sheriff’s department and that the community has their back.

“I’m sure that they’re both going to be upset for awhile,” resident Brenda Buehler said. “It’s a frightening thing to have happen, but I think everybody’s going to tell them good job.”

“It’s very positive to a community to hear that the good guy does win in the end,” resident Evan Mullins said.

“It could have turned out so much worse,” store owner Debbie Damon said.

Investigators said the couple did not know their attackers, and it is unclear how they became targets.

They are not releasing their names, or surveillance video, which they said captures some of the crime still in progress.

The Texas Rangers will be assisting with the sheriff’s investigation.