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October 1996

Golden, Colorado - In August, the West Metro Drug Task Force seized small amounts of a carcinogenic element that drug dealers are selling as "speed." The bright yellow substance is used in solid rocket fuel. Known as 3,4-methylenedi-phenyl-2-nitro-propane, the substance is difficult to identify and may cause Parkinson's disease or death (Michael O'Keeffe, "Dealers add carcinogen to speed," Rocky Mountain News, August 8, 1996, p. 29A). (Have any network members heard anything else about this practice or compound? Why would speed dealers use this as a cut? -- EES)

Chicago, Illinois - On August 12, Juan Soliz, a highly respected Chicago lawyer, was arrested for possession of cocaine when a vial of white powder was found during a search of his briefcase at the Cook County Criminal Court. Soliz protested the powder was baking soda, but a Sheriff's department field test was positive for cocaine. The 10.2 grams of powder, if it were cocaine, had a reported street value of $1,275. On August 16, Soliz was set free and charges against him were dropped after further testing showed the vial actually contained baking soda. Soliz, a lawyer, is a former teacher and alderman who in 1984 became the first Mexican-American elected to the Illinois House. Soliz said he uses the baking soda mixed with water as an antacid (Maurice Possley, "Soliz arrested after cocaine is found in his briefcase," Chicago Tribune, August 13, 1996, s. 2, p. 7; Associated Press, "'Coke' in man's briefcase was baking soda," Virginian-Pilot, August 17, 1996).

Simpsonville, Kentucky - Shelby County School Superintendent Leon Mooneyhan asked the school board to consider revoking the certification of elementary teacher Donna Cockrel. Cockrel, highly praised in her school system, had invited actor Woody Harrelson to talk to her class about the industrial uses of hemp ("Kentucky," USA Today, August 26, 1996, p. 12A).

Naco, Arizona - U.S. Marines announced plans in August to extend a steel barrier between the U.S. and Mexico by 2.5 miles. The barrier is used to thwart drug smugglers and car thieves at this border town ("Arizona," USA Today, August 26, 1996, p. 12A).

Palos Heights, Illinois - City officials unveiled plans in July to build a 5,400-square-foot addition to a police station using money forfeited under the drug laws to the U.S. Customs Service. The city has received $600,000 and expects an additional $300,00 because one of its officers participates in a drug task force. Estimates of the project's cost are as high as $700,000 ("Drug money may pay for police station," Chicago Tribune, July 26, 1996, s. 2, p. 3).

Clarkston Township, Michigan - Two 16-year-old boys were severely burned when one boy lit a cigarette after they had inhaled butane to get high. Using inexpensive and readily available inhalants like butane to get high is becoming popular with some young kids, experts say. Some teens have even turned to "fire-breathing," the practice of inhaling a substance like butane, lighting a match, and exhaling a stream of fire. Inhalants, especially those containing nitrites, are said to cause nerve damage, slurred speech, weakened heart, damage to the lungs, kidneys, liver and brain, and sudden death (Judy DeHaven, "Inhalant sniffers risk death," Denver Post, August 4, 1996).

Richmond, Virginia - Henrico Commonwealth Attorney Toby Vick and county Police Chief Henry W. Stanley initiated a policy on September 3 that compels all misdemeanor and felony drug offenders to tell who sold them drugs. Drug offenders are subpoenaed to testify before a multi-jurisdictional grand jury and compelled to reveal their supplier. Those who refuse face a contempt of court charge and jail time that does not count toward any potential sentence. Critics charge that the policy will be ineffective because most drug transactions occur between nameless strangers (Mark Bowes, "Henrico anti-drug program to begin," Richmond Times- Dispatch, September 1, 1996, p. A1).

Boston, Massachusetts - On August 18, Middlesex County Sheriff Brad Bailey announced the transfer of 240 inmates to a new modular facility, which will add more than 150 cells in the old prison. With dormitory-style living and extensive counseling programs, the $2 million structure was specially designed to rehabilitate inmates with substance abuse problems. The facility and 20 new corrections officers were paid for by emergency funding made available by the Executive Office of Public Safety. Jill Reilly, spokeswoman for the Middlesex District Attorney's Office, said the new staff and facility will enable prosecutors to try more cases (Matt Villano, "New inmate facility to target drug rehab," Boston Globe, August 19, 1996, p. B3). (How does expanding correctional drug treatment capacity increase the ability to prosecute cases? -- EES)

Silver Spring, Maryland - On August 30, Montgomery County police arrested a 12-year-old on felony drug charges for the second time. The girl and her 32-year-old mother had been arrested in June on similar charges. During the raid of their home in August, officers discovered 48 grams of crack and about $1,400 in cash. The girl's mother has apparently fled the country, forfeiting her $15,000 bond in the June arrest and leaving the girl to look after their thriving business. Officers described the child as a "normal teenager" and said the house was "nice," not like a crack house. Two siblings, ages 6 and 3, and the girl were taken into custody. At an emergency hearing on September 3 in Montgomery County juvenile court, the girl was ordered at the Alfred D. Noyes Children's Center in Rockville, MD. Children are often used to hold or transport drugs because they are treated leniently by the courts, according to Bob Weiner, a spokesman for White House drug policy advisor General Barry R. McCaffrey (Brian Mooar, "Montgomery Police Arrest Drug-Selling Suspect, 12--for 2nd Time," Washington Post, September 4, 1996, p. D1).

Camden, New Jersey - A fifteen-year-old boy was arrested four times in less than three months for dealing crack cocaine. In the first three arrests, beginning on June 1, the police seized crack and money found on the youth, and the boy was released to his parents after being held overnight. On August 2, the boy was arrested a fourth time and is being held until trial. According to Joseph Gunn, family division manager for the Camden County Superior Court, "A lot of the time, the decision has to be made [to hold a juvenile] on the availability of space at the detention center (John Way Jennings, "Camden youth is arrested a 4th time," Philadelphia Inquirer, August 28, 1996, p. B1).