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Drug Crimes

Armed Robberies on the Rise at Pharmacies Nationwide

Posted on July 19, 2011 in Drug Crimes

A scary new trend has pharmacists and their technicians a bit on edge with the recent rise in armed robberies at nationwide pharmacies. Law enforcement professionals in the state of Tennessee said that in 2009 there were 35 robberies in their state and all of the criminals were armed.

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Case Study: Meth Addict Loses Appeal; Sentence to Drug Treatment Program Probation under Prop 36

Posted on December 10, 2010 in Drug Crimes

On the evening of April 4, 2008, Lloyd Glover’s car was pulled over for speeding. He and Steven Wright were on their way home from a casino; Wright was driving and Glover was in the passenger seat. The officer asked Wright for his license, registration and proof of insurance; he was unable to produce any of the requested documentation. The officer then asked Wright to step over to the police cruiser, which was parked directly behind Glover’s car, about ten feet away.

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Monterrey Mexico Succumbs to Drug Violence

Posted on December 9, 2010 in Drug Crimes

Monterrey Mexico is not a city that would immediately come to mind when discussing the hot spots in Mexico’s current drug war. As Mexico’s most modern city and just under 150 miles from the US border, Monterrey sports gleaming skyscrapers, shopping malls, and world-renowned universities. In 2005, the city ranked as the safest city in Latin America. As a result of free trade agreements with neighboring countries, such as the United States, Monterrey experienced an influx of money and investment, especially in the manufacturing industry.  Cemex, a world leader in cement, FEMSA, a beverage maker, and General Electric are a few of the major corporations that do business in Monterrey. In 2002, Monterrey hosted a UN conference on development; George Bush called it a “model” city.

Recently, however, Monterrey has suffered through intense drug violence the likes of which it has never experienced. For instance, a college student was recently killed by a bullet to his head during open gunfire at a popular downtown mall; other bystanders suffered serious injuries.

Because Monterrey is Mexico’s wealthiest city, it was inevitable that the fighting would find its way there and into the lives of its four million residents. Two rival gangs, the Gulfs and Zetas, have laid claim to Monterrey and are openly warring with each other for control. Commentators observe that the fighting came to Monterrey almost without warning about four years ago, with inadequate law enforcement and drug lord corruption providing for easy access. About half of the police force have been fired due to links to the drug war. There has been an increase in civilian casualties, as well as an increase in killings of politicians and journalists.  In response to the invasion at Monterrey, the government of Mexico has (belatedly) ordered an increase in military presence and federal police in the region.

Most residents of Monterrey now live in fear of being carjacked or caught in the crossfire of the two gangs, a far cry from the days when industrial leaders were able to freely move about the city in luxury vehicles to visit trendy and expensive restaurants and shops. In 2010, over five hundred people have been killed due to the drug trade, a ten-fold increase from 2009.

What started as collateral damage, however, has turned personal. In an effort to supplement proceeds of the drug trade, Monterrey’s legitimate business community leaders have become targets of extortion and kidnapping schemes concocted by area drug lords. The head of the city’s commerce, retail and tourism chamber estimates that over sixty percent of business owners received extortion threats in 2010.  He also estimates that companies are spending as much as five percent of cash flow on security, which has benefited companies that sell alarms, locks and cameras.

The US Government has responded to the increase in violence in Monterrey by ordering all US diplomats to relocate their families from the area; a recent shooting outside the prestigious American Foundation School has rattled American parents. Citing security concerns, the Jonas brothers cancelled a concert in Monterrey this past October.

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Atlanta Judge Arrested for Buying Drugs from Stripper

Posted on October 15, 2010 in Drug Crimes

In one of the most egregious examples of “do as I say not as I do” to come out of the federal government in recent history, a federal judge has been caught (quite literally) with his hands in a proverbial cookie jar filled with illegal sex and drugs.It is yet another illustration that drug addiction impacts people from all walks of life, even highly respected members of the court.

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12 Students Were Victims of Drug Assault at College Party

Posted on October 11, 2010 in Drug Crimes

After an unconscious female student was found in a car parked at a local grocery parking lot on Friday night, police officers and sheriff’s deputies from Kittitas County, Washington were led to an alarming scene at a rented summer house.

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Drug-Related Assaults in the ER Increasing

Posted on August 26, 2010 in Drug Crimes

Individuals who enter the emergency room under the influence of drugs or alcohol may not behave according to normal health care protocol. Nurses attending to these individuals know this firsthand as they often get the brunt of abuse from such individuals if an encounter turns violent.

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One-Pot Meth Labs Increasing in Oklahoma

Posted on July 15, 2010 in Drug Crimes

There are poisoning rumors in Oklahoma and the culprit appears to be meth labs that have developed a new way to cook the drug. According to a News OK report, the “one-pot” or “shake and bake” process of meth production is gaining popularity, even as deaths continue to increase.

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California Court Finds No Liability for Pharmacy under Drug Dealer Liability Act

Posted on June 28, 2010 in Drug Crimes

You might be surprised, like I was, to discover that several states have passed a Drug Dealer Liability Act which allows some individuals who are injured by the marketing and sale of illegal drugs to recover damages from drug dealers. Who knew?

Most of these state drug dealer laws were developed using the Model Drug Dealer Liability Act (DDLA), which was intended to protect, among others, those injured by a driver under the influence of drugs and families whose children overdose on drugs. California is one of the states that have adopted the model law.

In 1995, the first lawsuit under a state DDLA was brought in Michigan for damages resulting from the birth of a baby born addicted to drugs and for expenses paid by the city of Detroit for treating drug addicts in Detroit jails. In the baby case, two Detroit dealers were ordered to compensate the siblings because the baby was born addicted to cocaine; the baby was later bludgeoned to death by its mother who was high on drugs.

In Utah, the wife of a long-term drug addict filed suit against his drug dealer of six years; the dealer settled out of court prior to trial. In South Dakota a man was killed in an auto accident with another man who was high on drugs. The dead man’s wife sued the drug dealer of the other driver and was awarded over $250 million in damages.

In some DDLA cases, the plaintiff need not prove that the defendant was the particular dealer who supplied the actual drugs that were directly involved in the injury. Instead, liability attaches in a “stream of commerce” type fashion with the plaintiff only needing to prove that the dealer was distributing illegal drugs in the user’s community, that the dealer was distributing the type of drug used by the addict, and that the dealer was actively dealing during the time the addict bought drugs.

Common plaintiffs in DDLA cases include guardians of drug-addicted babies, victims of drugged drivers, parents of teen drug users, and employers, insurers, and governments that must pay for treatment once the users become addicted.

Although the defendants in DDLA cases are typically those who operate in the black market illegal drug trade and plaintiffs are typically third-party victims who did not engage in any wrongful activity, one woman in California recently sought to expand the pool of those who can be held liable for the sale of illegal drugs by suing the pharmacy employers of the man who sold her the prescription drugs that he stole on the job.

A June 22, 2010 opinion from the California Court of Appeals has been certified for partial publication. The case involves the Drug Dealer Liability Act (California Health & Safety Code, §§ 11700 et seq.), which authorizes a user of an illegal controlled substance to recover damages resulting from its use from those who knowingly market the substance. It covers substances that require a prescription. In this case, the court was asked to decide whether a pharmacy is liable under the Drug Dealer Liability Act for conduct of an employee who furnished stolen prescription drugs to a plaintiff.

Plaintiff Melody Whittemore developed a severe infection in the fall of 2005 and was treated by a physician. When she was no longer able to obtain prescriptions for pain medication from her doctor, she sought the medication from other sources. She began buying black market prescription drugs, such as OxyContin, for about one dollar a pill from Steven Correa, an employee of Owens Pharmacy. Whittemore also purchased Norco and hydrocodone from Correa. It is estimated that she paid almost $350,000 for the pills over an eighteen month period.

The drugs were pain medications and were classified as Schedule II controlled substances; as such, they required a prescription before they could be legally dispensed. Whittemore took the drugs for over a year and, not surprisingly became addicted – both physically and emotionally. She eventually had to be hospitalized for her addiction and, thereafter, helped law enforcement build a case and arrest Correa – he had stolen the drugs from the pharmacies for which he worked.

Whittemore discovered that Correa’s employers had a duty to monitor their supply of prescription drugs and to file a report with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) if any of the drugs ever went missing. Whittemore and her husband sued both Correa and the pharmacies from which Correa obtained his drugs. Whittemore contends that the pharmacies owed her a legal duty to properly monitor and account for their drug supplies, identify drug theft and report it to the appropriate authorities so that it could be investigated. Whittemore contends that this failure to properly safeguard the drugs was, in essence, a reckless disregard for her welfare that resulted in her being able to purchase the stolen drugs and develop a dangerous prescription drug addiction.
She attempted to hold the pharmacies liable as suppliers in Correa’s black market operation.

Whittemore’s husband contended that he was also harmed by the prescription drug dealing in that he suffered severe emotional distress by seeing his wife on drugs. The couple also sued for unfair business practices, loss of consortium, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and battery, arguing that Melody’s addiction made her unable to consent to ingesting the medications. The lawsuit sought compensation for the amount of money spent on the drugs, medical expenses for addiction treatment and punitive damages.

The pharmacies filed a demurrer, arguing that Whittemore could not sue them as she had “unclean hands” — Whittemore’s buying and taking medications without a prescription and with the knowledge that they were stolen is illegal. The lower court sustained the demurrer and dismissed the case. Whittemore appealed the decision, arguing that the Drug Dealer Liability Act created a statutory exception to “unclean hands” as it specifically allowed users of illegal drugs to recover damages.

The Appeals Court largely avoided the “unclean hands” issue and held that the Act applies only to those who knowingly participate in the marketing of illegal drugs. In finding for the pharmacy, the Court determined that it did not “knowingly” participate.

In addition to the “unclean hands” argument, the defendants also argued that they were not responsible for their employee’s conduct based on respondeat superior – Correa was not acting within the scope and course of his employment when he stole the prescription drugs and sold them on the black market. Plaintiffs responded that it was defendants’ failure to supervise their employee and keep track of their drug supplies that caused the injury. Even if this were true, however, the DDLA covers only those who knowingly engage in the illegal drug trade.

Failing to control inventory and supervise employees was likely not what the California legislature intended when targeting those activities that directly contribute to the illegal drug trade. Such behavior typically rises only to the level of negligence or gross negligence, a far cry from the strict liability imposed by the DDLA. However, due to the doctrine of “unclean hands”, a suit brought by Whittemore based on negligence would likely also fail due to her own contributory negligence in ingesting the substances.

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United Nations World Drug Report 2010 Shows the Devastating Impact of the Drug Trade on Transit Countries

Posted on June 23, 2010 in Drug Crimes

The Office of Drugs and Crimes of the United Nations released the World Drug Report 2010 on June 23, 2010. The new report indicates that amphetamines and related stimulants as well as prescription drugs are becoming drugs of choice throughout the world. The biggest change in the statistics is the use of synthetic drugs. The UN estimates the number of users of these drugs will soon exceed the number of users of cocaine and opiates.

“We will not solve the world drugs problem if we simply push addiction from cocaine and heroin to other addictive substances – and there are unlimited amounts of them, produced in mafia labs at trivial costs,” warned UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa.

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Homer City: Suffering More Than Its Fair Share of Drug Crimes

Posted on June 22, 2010 in Drug Crimes

Homer City would be a relatively quiet community – if it wasn’t for the level of drug crime. According to a recent Indiana Gazette report, the court system within the county handled 1,600 cases last year. Of those cases, 80 percent were crimes that had some sort of connection to drugs.

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