MS-13 gang used California farm town as a base for crime | Yahoo News

More than two dozen MS-13 gang members and affiliates were arrested and charged following a monthslong murder and drug trafficking investigation centered on a rural California farm city that the gang turned into a base for its operations, U.S. and state prosecutors said Friday.

MS-13 took advantage of limited resources in the city of Mendota and used it and other areas of Fresno County to “conduct their crimes, to hide out from crimes that they committed in other jurisdictions and to prepare to commit crimes in states as far away as New York,” Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp said at a news conference in Fresno with state and federal officials.

Mendota has a population of roughly 11,000 people and lies 35 miles (60 kilometers) west of Fresno in California’s agriculturally rich Central Valley. Nearly the entire population is Hispanic, with many immigrants from El Salvador.

MS-13 is linked to more than 12 murders in Mendota and western Fresno County over the past two years, said McGregor Scott, the U.S. attorney in Sacramento. The federal charges announced Friday include allegations that two MS-13 gang members kidnapped and murdered a Fresno County man in December.

Scott said the investigation — dubbed “Blue Inferno” — uncovered evidence tying the gang to at least 30 murders and assaults in Mendota, Los Angles, Las Vegas, New York City and Houston. The evidence has prompted additional prosecutions in other cities, he said.

“This is a good day,” he said. “An extremely violent street gang which has terrorized western Fresno County has been completely dismantled and several murders and violent crimes across the nation have been resolved in a resounding way,” he said.

MS-13, or La Mara Salvatrucha, was formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s by refugees from El Salvador and is linked to many slayings in certain parts of the U.S. In California, the gang has clashed with rival Nortenos gang members. It also targets its own members for violating gang rules.

Nortenos are a street gang connected to the Nuestra Familia, a prison gang that originally formed in the California state prison system in the 1960s, according to federal prosecutors.

President Donald Trump has singled out the MS-13 gang as a threat to the U.S. and blames weak border enforcement for the group’s crimes. But many gang members were born in the U.S.

Source: Yahoo News

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Dr Peter Gøtzsche Exposes Big Pharma as Organized Crime | Health Impact News

Peter C Gøtzsche, MD exposes the pharmaceutical industries and their charade of fraudulent behavior, both in research and marketing where the morally repugnant disregard for human lives is the norm.

The main reason we take so many drugs is that drug companies don t sell drugs, they sell lies about drugs. This is what makes drugs so different from anything else in life… Virtually everything we know about drugs is what the companies have chosen to tell us and our doctors… the reason patients trust their medicine is that they extrapolate the trust they have in their doctors into the medicines they prescribe.

The patients don’t realize that, although their doctors may know a lot about diseases and human physiology and psychology, they know very, very little about drugs that hasn’t been carefully concocted and dressed up by the drug industry… If you don t think the system is out of control, please email me and explain why drugs are the third leading cause of death… If such a hugely lethal epidemic had been caused by a new bacterium or a virus,or even one-hundredth of it, we would have done everything we could to get it under control.

Peter C. Gøtzsche, MD is a Danish medical researcher, and leader of the Nordic Cochrane Center at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark. He has written numerous reviews within the Cochrane collaboration.

Source: Health Impact News

Why Last Night Was Not Just Huge For Pot, But The Entire Criminal Justice System | Think Progress

ProportionalPunishmentBy

Last night wasn’t a good night for Democrats. But when asked instead to vote on issues that many Democrats care about, voters backed progressive ballot initiatives around the country. This is particularly true in the area of criminal justice, which has become a rare point of bipartisanship among some Democrats and Republicans. In a spate of ballot initiatives around the country, voters sent a signal that they are ready to reform a system that has sent more people in the United States to jail than in any other country in the world.

Each of these initiatives embraces a notion known as “Smart on Crime.” The phrase is a replacement for the old adage of “tough-on-crime” and means that, rather than threatening heavy punishments for a long list of so-called crimes, jurisdictions focus instead on doing what actually, empirically, makes communities safer. In reducing or eliminating penalties for some actions that would be better addressed through public health or rehabilitative policies, jurisdictions can focus more resources on serious, violent crimes. Or, as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder put it last year, “Too many people go to too many prisons for far too long for no good law enforcement reason.”

Marijuana

Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. put pot legalization on the ballot, and all three passed it. As of last night, there are now more than double the number of jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana for recreational use, even as it remains federally prohibited. In Washington, D.C., where African Americans make up almost half the population, the margin of victory was staggering, with voters supporting the measure by a ratio of 7 to 3.

Alaska and Oregon were not as certain to pass the initiatives. But both passed by margins of several points ballot initiatives that don’t just legalize possession and growth of pot, but also its sale and taxation. (Washington, D.C. is not permitted to tax and regulate by ballot initiative, and lawmakers plan to follow up with a bill to achieve this).

In each of these jurisdictions, different messages dominated. In libertarian-heavy Alaska, where pot policy was already liberalized, the focus of the campaign was that marijuana is no less safe than alcohol, and those who use it shouldn’t be penalized differently. In Washington, D.C., by contrast, a significant population of very liberal gentrifiers mixed with longtime African American residents who are sick and tired of criminal justice policies that arrest African Americans for pot at eight times the rate of whites.

Majorities also voted in favor of medical marijuana. In Guam, a measure to pass medical marijuana passed early in the day. And in Florida, a medical marijuana ballot initiative that became heavily politicized with a well-funded opposition movement failed, but only because it required a 60 percent vote to amend the Constitution. Despite the initiative’s failure, a solid majority — 58 percent — voted in favor of the measure. The initiative’s loss is still a bit of a surprise, because polls have shown that support among Florida residents for the idea of medical marijuana is as high as 90 percent. In fact, lawmakers passed a much narrower medical marijuana provision last year that, remarkably, had the support of almost every state lawmaker. If their goal in passing it was to pick off support for the more expansive measure on the ballot, they succeeded.

Rounding off the evening, two cities in New Mexico — Santa Fe and Bernalillo — voted to decriminalize pot.

The statewide initiatives won’t go into effect today. There will be months of policy-making, political wrangling, and pushback from Congress. But majorities in every jurisdiction where the question was posed voted to reduce the penalties for marijuana.

Proportional Penalties

In California, voters passed an initiative that embraces that Smart on Crime notion in a more comprehensive way. Proposition 47 reduces the penalties for low-level nonviolent offenses including many drug and property crimes, on the notion that locking people up who haven’t done anything dangerous doesn’t do anybody any good. The initiative changes a number of offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, meaning the sentence for conviction is much lower, and that the impact on an individual’s criminal record won’t be as significant. Many job and voting restrictions, for example, only apply to felonies. Offenses that will be affected by the measure include drug possession offenses, as well as shoplifting, credit card fraud, and forgery.

The initiative also means that some 10,000 individuals already behind bars will be eligible for re-sentencing. This is particularly relevant for California, which has been struggling to reduce its prison population since the U.S. Supreme Court declared its prisons so overcrowded that they violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

With a passage rate of 58 percent, the initiative may serve as a model for other states. The state already decriminalized marijuana possession several years ago, and has seen arrests go down without significant adverse consequences.

Bail Reform

In New Jersey, Democrats and Republicans have joined forces over the past year to pass a package of measures that ensure those behind bars are those who pose a greater danger to society, not the ones who can’t afford to pay bail. Lawmakers took up the issue after a study found that some 40 percent of those who are jailed after they are arrested but before their trial or conviction are there simply because they were poor.

The idea behind bail is that individuals who are charged with a crime put up a bond of significant value to increase the likelihood that they will return for future court dates. But the system creates a class divide. Many are charged with bail under $2,500 — a sum that many wealthier individuals can pay, but is completely out of reach for low-income defendants. Those who end up stuck behind bars pending their trial do not have the same capacity to defend their case. They are more likely to eventually plead guilty, and many have called pretrial detention “ransom” intended to extract such guilty pleas.

Two companion bills were passed by the New Jersey legislature to make the bail system less about how much money defendants have, and more about whether they pose a danger to the public. One bill passed by the legislature took income out of the equation for less dangerous offenders by conducting risk assessments of defendants, and allow those not deemed dangerous to participate in a monitoring program until their trail, rather than to sit in jail. A second bill put Tuesday’s ballot initiative before the voters. That ballot initiative asked voters to give judges power to hold the most dangerous offenders behind bars before their trial — even if they could afford bail. By passing this measure Tuesday, the bail reform package is now fully in effect.

Gun Violence

The idea of “Smart on Crime” initiatives is to eliminate the counterproductive criminal policies and re-allocate resources toward those policies that actually reduce violent crime. To that end, some might also consider it a win that in Washington State (where pot is already legal), voters both approved a measure to close a loophole in firearms background checks, and rejected a competing ballot initiative that would have narrowed the state’s gun laws. The measure means that gun sellers and buyers can’t get around limitations on who can own a guy by selling them in private online sales or at gun shows.

Source:  Think Progress

World’s first legal recreational marijuana sales begin in Colorado Read more: World’s first legal recreational marijuana sales begin in Colorado | The Denver Post

First Legal Marijuana Sales in ColoradoIn a historic swirl of commerce and cannabis, the world’s first stores licensed to sell marijuana legally to anyone 21 or older opened in Colorado on Wednesday.

From Telluride to Denver, thousands of people cheerfully stood in lines for hours to buy legal marijuana after presenting nothing more than identification.

Marijuana activists hailed the day as a watershed in their effort to overturn anti-cannabis laws. Store owners — several of whom said the turnout exceeded even their own ambitious expectations — feared running out of supply.

Police reported no problems with the crowds, and government officials marveled at the calm.

Overall, the day went as marijuana activists had hoped it would: In the most extraordinary way possible, it was ordinary.

“I’ve been waiting 34 years for this moment,” enthused Chrissy Robinson, who arrived at one store, Evergreen Apothecary in Denver, at 2 a.m. to be among the first in line. “I’ve been smoking since I was 14. No more sneaking around.”

At least 37 stores across the state were fully licensed and opened to sell marijuana to anyone 21 or over for any purpose, according to official lists and Denver Post research. Sales could commence at 8 a.m., and activists — who campaigned for the marijuana-legalization measure whose passage in November 2012 made the sales possible — arranged a ceremonial “first purchase” at the Denver store 3D Cannabis Center.

The store used to be called “Denver’s Discreet Dispensary,” so the name change speaks to the rapid evolution of Colorado’s marijuana industry, which began in earnest only about four years ago. 3D Cannabis Center owner Toni Fox watched the clock carefully as the hour approached and dozens of reporters and photographers crowded into one of her store’s tiny purchasing areas.

“It’s 8 a.m.,” she said. “I’m going to do it.”

The first customer was 32-year-old Sean Azzariti, an Iraq war veteran who campaigned for marijuana legalization and said he uses cannabis to alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Under a canopy of cameras, Azzariti bought an eighth of an ounce of the marijuana strain Bubba Kush and a package of marijuana-infused candy truffles.

“We did it!” a beaming Azzariti said at the end of the purchase.

The cost was $59.74, including $10.46 in tax. At the bottom of the receipt was the message “Thank you for your purchase!”

“I’m confident these businesses will perform and be a good example of how states can regulate marijuana,” activist Mason Tvert said just prior to the store’s first purchase. “Today, there will be people around the country buying marijuana. But only in Colorado will they be buying it in stores like this one.”

Source: Denver Post

 

State Marijuana Laws Map | Governing

Twenty states and the District of Columbia now have laws legalizing marijuana in some form.

So far, only Colorado and Washington state have legalized marijuana for recreational use, while other states permit medical marijuana.

A limited medical marijuana law most recently went into effect Oct. 1 in Maryland, allowing authorized academic medical centers and research centers to distribute it. However, patients are not expected to be able to sign up for the program until 2015.

Illinois legalized medical marijuana with a law establishing a pilot program set to be implemented in January.

The map below show states permitting marijuana use for medical and recreational purposes.

Information below is current as of December 2013 and includes ballot measures approved in the 2012 elections that have yet to take effect:

MarihuanaMap

Source: Governing

Modern Prohibition Takes It On The Chin With Uruguay’s Marijuana Legalization | Dollar Vigillante

Uruguay became the first country to legalize marijuana completely yesterday.

We’re not just talking about “decriminalizing” it, or allowing recreational use while still prosecuting pot’s cultivation and selling. The government will still limit amounts to six plants per home per year. And as with alcohol purchases in the US, selling pot in Uruguay will require a license.

In typical government meddling fashion, allowing personal use but not production and sale made a mockery of sense. Speaking of mockeries of sense, the usual arguments about marijuana being a “gateway” drug were out in force among the drug warriors. Colorado Senator Alfredo Solari, whose state is set to alllow its first legal weed sales in just a few days, said, “Competing with drug traffickers by offering marijuana at a lower price will just increase the market for a drug that has negative effects on public health.”

Apparently it is much, much better for “public health” for prohibition to breed cartel and gang violence, which is the inevitable result when politicians use their armed enforcers to prevent people from engaging in the procurement and consumption of something they really, really enjoy.

You know how most of the world laughs at alcohol prohibition now? Well, in the future they’ll laugh at us for not being able to see that prohibition of other substances was just as silly and destructive. Prohibition doesn’t actually stop anyone who wants drugs from getting drugs. It just makes the drugs a lot more expensive while adding a thick layer of violence and danger in the resulting black market.

It also gives government opportunity to fill its cages with non-violent drug consumers and low-level retailers, all of whom have their chances for employment permanently ruined as a result. That, however, is a mild insult added to the injury of incarceration resulting in their brutalization and possible rape.

So when people like Senator Solari talk about negative effects on public health, we can’t help but think that the same number people getting high without the cartels, gangs and government kidnappings represents an incalculable improvement in public health. Hell, it would be great if a few more people got high if it meant an end to police home raids, corner pushers and cartel mass murders. Busybodies and the fully propagandized will blanch, but a little pot next to the whiskey in the liquor cabinet will mean society becomes richer, happier and more peaceful. That’s what happens when you diminish ugly bits of political violence like prohibition.

The drug that has a negative effect on public health is violence itself, a substance to which politicians and their world of enablers are severely addicted. They love using violence to get people to do what they want. Violence, however, begets more of the same. Prohibition is the clearest, most demoralizing example of this. Recreational drug use is a personal choice, a matter of aesthetics, but it’s exactly the kind of thing busybodies make a moral and collective issue that presumes ownership of other people. It’s exactly the kind of thing governments can’t help but get in on.

Like we’ve said before, the state is a self-licking ice cream cone; it creates its own demand. By manufacturing a crime, states create the need for their brand of monopolized, violent policy enforcement. But marijuana prohibition is now so nakedly absurd that it seems that the state is going to have to relent.

It’s still annoying to hear that there will be monitoring of purchases and other regulation, like where one can buy it and how much one can grow per unit of time. For our part we will not be celebrating till all the armed thugs who claim the right to monitor and control people go away. But we can hope that Uruguay’s legalization is another small sign that faith in the state and its proscriptions is flagging.

Portugal decriminalized the individual possession of small amounts of various recreational drugs and has seen addiction rates plummet. Uruguay is also going to see fantastic results.

It’s also important to note that this is happening in Uruguay. This is just another example of why we at TDV, along with many of our clients, are so enthusiastic about South America. TDV Passports offers a very popular passport program from neighboring Paraguay, and in keeping with our PT (Prior Taxpayer/Permanent Traveler) recommendations, clients who opt for the Paraguay citizenship and passport spend much of their time in Uruguay.

While the USSA continues on the road of more imperialism, more fascistic regulation, more inflation and more debt, things are heading in the opposite direction in Latin America. That’s why Latin America, particularly the nation-state of Chile, was chose as the place to found Galt’s Gulch. Imagine yourself with a Paraguayan passport, a home in Galt’s Gulch Chile, and able to get some quality time in Uruguay where they are leading the way in a vital area of freedom. Click here to take your first step.

Source: Dollar Vigillante

DEA, IRS raid Denver area pot businesses | NBC News

By Colleen Slevin and Kristen Wyatt

PotRaidsThe raids, conducted on a snowy morning, were the first in Colorado since the U.S. Department of Justice said in August that it wouldn’t interfere with state marijuana laws as long as the states keep the drug away from children, the black market and federal property.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver said the federal action “comports with the Department’s recent guidance” but would not elaborate. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said authorities were executing sealed search and seizure warrants and wouldn’t disclose how many businesses are being targeted or what they’re being investigated for.

Retail marijuana sales are to begin Jan. 1 in Colorado, though not all municipalities will be ready to go by then. For now, dispensaries are supposed to sell only to people with medical permission to use the drug. Many of the state’s 500 or so existing dispensaries are making plans to convert to recreational sales.

The Justice Department said in August that it wouldn’t stand in the way of votes in Colorado and Washington to legalize recreational pot but warned there needed to be effective controls to keep marijuana away from children, the black market and federal property.

At one of the raided dispensaries, VIP Cannabis, agents took boxes out of the business and loaded them into a U-Haul truck. One officer wore a surgical mask.

In Boulder, agents raided a number of marijuana-growing warehouses, leaving a chest-high pile of marijuana plants on the side of a road before loading them into trucks, The Daily Camera reported.

Colorado’s marijuana industry was quick to point out that the raids did not necessarily mean that the federal government was going back on its word or planning to interfere with Colorado’s plans to a recreational market.

Mike Elliott, a spokesman for the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, said the industry itself has pushed for “robust” regulations and expects industry compliance with lengthy state regulations on how the drug is grown and sold.

“While everyone involved in these raids should be considered innocent until proven guilty, enforcement is a sign that this program is working and maturing,” he said in a statement.

Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project said it wasn’t clear how many businesses were raided. Many dispensaries and growing warehouses were operating as usual Thursday.

“The Justice Department said it would respect states’ rights to regulate marijuana, and that it would not go after businesses as long as they are complying with state laws,” he said in a statement. “We hope they are sticking to their word and not interfering with any state-regulated, law-abiding businesses.”

Source: