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December 2, 2013

Police report drug haul seizure worth up to £30 million in Brownhills, England

Police report drug haul seizure worth up to £30 million in Brownhills, England

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Location of West Midlands within England

Police in the West Midlands in England today said nearly 200 kilograms worth of drugs with value possibly as great as £30 million (about US$49 million or 36 million) has been seized from a unit in the town of Brownhills. In what an officer described as “one of the largest [seizures] in the force’s 39 year history”, West Midlands Police reported recovering six big cellophane-wrapped cardboard boxes containing cannabis, cocaine, and MDMA (“ecstasy”) in a police raid operation on the Maybrook Industrial Estate in the town on Wednesday.

Cquote1.svg The impact this seizure will have on drug dealing in the region and the UK as a whole cannot be underestimated Cquote2.svg

Detective Sergeant Carl Russell, West Midlands Police Force CID

The seized boxes, which had been loaded onto five freight pallets, contained 120 one-kilogram bags of cannabis, 50 one-kilogram bags of MDMA, and five one-kilogram bricks of cocaine. In a press release, West Midlands Police described what happened after officers found the drugs as they were being unloaded in the operation. “When officers opened the boxes they discovered a deep layer of protective foam chips beneath which the drugs were carefully layered”, the force said. “All the drugs were wrapped in thick plastic bags taped closed with the cannabis vacuum packed to prevent its distinctive pungent aroma from drawing unwanted attention.” Police moved the drugs via forklift truck to a flatbed lorry to remove them.

Detective Sergeant Carl Russell of West Midlands Police’s Force CID said the seizure was the largest he had ever made in the 24 years he has been in West Midlands Police and one of the biggest seizures the force has made since its formation in 1974. “The impact this seizure will have on drug dealing in the region and the UK as a whole cannot be underestimated”, he said. “The drugs had almost certainly been packed to order ready for shipping within Britain but possibly even further afield. Our operation will have a national effect and we are working closely with a range of law enforcement agencies to identify those involved in this crime at whatever level.”

Expert testing on the drugs is ongoing. Estimates described as “conservative” suggest the value of the drugs amounts to £10 million (about US$16.4 million or €12 million), although they could be worth as much as £30 million, subject to purity tests, police said.

Police arrested three men at the unit on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug. The men, a 50-year-old from Brownhills, a 51-year-old from the Norton area of Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, and one aged 53 from Brownhills, have been released on bail as police investigations to “hunt those responsible” continue. West Midlands Police told Wikinews no person has yet been charged in connection with the seizure. Supplying a controlled drug is an imprisonable offence in England, although length of jail sentences vary according to the class and quantity of drugs and the significance of offenders’ roles in committing the crime.



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January 23, 2013

Briton sentenced to death for drug smuggling in Indonesia

Briton sentenced to death for drug smuggling in Indonesia

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Indonesia
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A British woman has been sentenced to death in Indonesia for drug smuggling. Lindsay Sandiford, 56, was found guilty of breaking the tough drug laws in place in Indonesia at the Denpasar district court yesterday, having being found with 10.6 lb of cocaine, worth about £1.6m, in the lining of her suitcase at Bali‘s main airport in May last year.

Lawyers for Ms Sandiford, who is originally from the town of Redcar in Teesside, England, said the ruling “surprised” them, and they would appeal. U.K. Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire expressed his strong objection to the decision and said the U.K. opposed the use of the death penalty. “We are aware that Lindsay Sandiford is facing the death penalty in Indonesia. We strongly object to the death penalty and continue to provide consular assistance to Lindsay and her family during this difficult time,” he said.

Ms Sandiford was stopped on May 19 during a routine customs check at Ngurah Rai airport in Bali, after arriving from Bangkok via Thai Airways. She told the court, “I would like to begin by apologising to the Republic of Indonesia and the Indonesian people for my involvement. I would never have become involved in something like this but the lives of my children were in danger and I felt I had to protect them.”

Prosecutors were not pursuing the death penalty for Ms Sandiford, instead asking for 15 years in prison.

The court is expected to deliver a verdict in the trial of Julian Ponder today. He was allegedly involved in drug smuggling with Ms Sandiford and Rachel Dougall. Mr Ponder is accused of receiving the drugs from Ms Sandiford in Bali. He denies the accusations, saying he was expecting delivery of a birthday present for his child from Ms Sandiford.

In the court verdict against Ms Sandiford, a panel of judges said she had damaged Bali’s image.

Although 114 Indonesian prisoners are sentenced to death, including about 40 foreigners most of whom are drug-crime convicts, no executions have taken place since 2008.



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November 2, 2012

UK\’s Greater Manchester Police charge man with drug possession after trick-or-treating children allegedly given cocaine

UK’s Greater Manchester Police charge man with drug possession after trick-or-treating children allegedly given cocaine

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Friday, November 2, 2012

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A man in Greater Manchester, in the northwest of England, has been charged with possession of class A drugs after children were allegedly given cocaine whilst trick-or-treating on Halloween.

Children trick-or-treating on Mendip Close in the town of Royton were reportedly given bags containing a white powder. The incident was reported to Greater Manchester Police at approximately 1945 UTC Wednesday when children discovered the substance amongst their sweets collections. Police recovered two snap bags and later confirmed the powder was the class A drug cocaine.

23-year-old Donald Junior Green, who lives on Mendip Close, was charged with possession of class A drugs and is due to appear before Oldham Magistrates’ Court today. A 21-year-old woman arrested on suspicion of the same type of offence has been released without charge.

“The parents and police acted quickly when this report was made, in the interests of public safety,” said Superintendent Catherine Hankinson. She added: “We understand this to be an isolated incident.”



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January 21, 2012

US singer Etta James dies aged 73

US singer Etta James dies aged 73 – Wikinews, the free news source

US singer Etta James dies aged 73

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Etta James in 2006.
Image: John K. Addis.

Legendary soul singer Etta James died aged 73 yesterday at Riverside Community Hospital in Riverside, California after a long battle with leukemia. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2009.

James was born in Los Angeles, California as Jamesetta Hawkins on January 25, 1938. She is best known for her 1961 hit At Last. She gained prominence following the success of All I Could Do Was Cry, At last, and Trust in Me. She won six Grammy Awards.

In the 1960’s, James developed addiction to heroin and later to cocaine in the 1970’s. Despite personal problems, James reinvented herself with the 1988 album Seven Year Itch. Actress Beyoncé Knowles played James in the film Cadillac Records in 2008.

James is survived by her husband Artis Mills, and her sons Donto and Sametto.



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June 30, 2011

Report finds teen substance abuse is top public health problem in US

Report finds teen substance abuse is top public health problem in US

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

US teens increasingly abuse tobacco, among other drugs.
Image: Geierunited.

A report issued Wednesday by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University finds the top public health problem in the United States is teen drug abuse, including the use of alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, marijuana and other controlled substances.

According to the study’s authors, “The study looks at how American culture increases the risk that teens will use addictive substances and how the messages sent by adults, and glamorized by the tobacco and alcohol industries and the media, normalize substance use and undermine the health and futures of our teens.”

Cquote1.svg Addiction is a disease that in most cases begins in adolescence … We rightfully worry about other teen health problems like obesity, depression or bullying, but we turn a blind eye to a more common and deadly epidemic that we can in fact prevent. Cquote2.svg

—Susan Foster, CASA vice president

CASA found that 90% of adults who have addictive disorders started using substances before the age of 18. In comparison, only 4% of Americans who abuse as adults started using these drugs when 21 or older.

Further, the consumption of these substances by American teens is rising. Currently almost half of American high school students smoke, drink alcohol or use other drugs, according to the study, and 1 in 5 meet the medical criteria for addiction. Seventy-five percent of all high school students have used addictive substances including tobacco, alcohol, marijuana or cocaine at some point. Over 65% have used more than one.

The researchers found social factors related to the risk of American teens use of addictive substances included parental, community and school acceptance of these substances and the positive media portrayals of drug use as harmless, fun and attractive. Advertising of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes also contributes to the positive image of drug use.

The researchers used online surveys filled out by 1,000 high school students, 1,000 parents of high school students, 500 educators, as well as information from five focus groups and reviews of 2,000 scientific articles and reports, according to US News.

“Addiction is a disease that in most cases begins in adolescence, so preventing or delaying teens from using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs for as long as possible is crucial to their health and safety,” said Susan Foster, CASA’s vice president in a news release. “We rightfully worry about other teen health problems like obesity, depression or bullying, but we turn a blind eye to a more common and deadly epidemic that we can in fact prevent.”

The study’s authors pointed out that the teenage brain is not fully developed and the use of drugs during the teenage years hampers further development of the brain, impairs judgment and increases the risk of addiction as an adult. Heavy substance abuse harms the developing brain far more than the already developed adult brain. They concluded their data shows that adolescence is the critical age period for the onset of substance abuse and its repercussions.



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May 10, 2011

Four U.N. staff dead after plane crash in Bolivia

Four U.N. staff dead after plane crash in Bolivia

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

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Los Yungas is the largest producer of coca in Bolivia.
Image: Elias Bizannes.

Six people, including four U.N. staff working for the anti-narcotics department in Bolivia, have been killed in a plane crash in a remote area in the west of the country.

Two Bolivian military pilots are also among those killed in the accident, which happened in the Los Yungas area, northeast of the capital city, La Paz. The aircraft had been missing since Thursday and was found on Saturday morning according to a general in the Bolivian Air Force, who added the light Cessna aircraft hit a tall tree and then impacted the ground.

Robert Brockmann, a U.N. spokesperson in Bolivia, said the aircraft “was completely destroyed and burned.” Investigators have not yet determined what caused the accident, but Brockmann said the aircraft was in an area with overgrown trees and steep cliffs.

The bodies of the pilots and U.N. personnel, who had been monitoring the transport of coca—a plant used to make cocaine—over several months, have yet to be recovered because of the remote location of the crash site. “The place is completly inaccessible in a very tall forest,” the general said.



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March 15, 2011

Reggae singer Smiley Culture dies during police raid in Surrey, England

Reggae singer Smiley Culture dies during police raid in Surrey, England

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

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Emmanuel died in a raid by the Metropolitan police force.

David Emmanuel, a British reggae singer known as Smiley Culture, has died during a police raid at his home in Surrey, England. The singer is believed to have died from a stab wound when the Metropolitan police arrived at his house at 07:00 (GMT). Emmanuel, aged 48, was due to face trial for conspiracy to supply cocaine next week.

It is unclear how Emmanuel received the stab wound but investigators from the Independent Police Complaints Commission are looking to see if it was self-inflicted. Mike Franklin, the South East IPCC commissioner, released a statement saying “We will be looking into the planning of the arrest, the way in which it was carried out and the actions of all the officers who were present at the time of the incident.”

A spokesman at Scotland Yard made a statement, “As part of an ongoing operation, officers from the Metropolitan police service’s serious and organised crime command attended a residential address in east Surrey to carry out an arrest warrant. While they were at the address, an incident occurred during which a 48-year-old man died. Officers from Surrey police attended the incident and it has been formally referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.”

Emmanuel reached fame during the 1980s. His two biggest hits were “Cockney Translation” and “Police Officer”, the latter reaching number 12 in the UK singles chart.



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April 10, 2010

Junior Canadian cabinet minister leaves amid scandal

Junior Canadian cabinet minister leaves amid scandal

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Embattled Canadian junior cabinet minister Helena Guergis has resigned her cabinet post and has been ejected from caucus today in Ottawa amid recent scandals involving herself and her husband, disgraced former Member of Parliament (MP) Rahim Jaffer.

Guergis, Conservative MP for Simcoe-Grey, held the position as Minister of State for the Status of Women since her re-election in the 2008 federal election, but has come under fire due to an outburst at the Charlottetown airport in February and a call from the opposition Liberal Party for a probe by the federal ethics commissioner into her purchase of an Ottawa home. She has also come under scrutiny due to recent scandals involving her husband, who faced charges of impaired driving and cocaine possession as well as comments made to business contacts about connections to the office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, those comments later being called “absurd” by the Prime Minister’s Office.

In an email, Guergis is quoted as saying, “The past nine months have been a very difficult time for me. I have made mistakes for which I have apologized.” The email made specific reference to her outburst in Charlottetown, insisting she would never insult her father’s birthplace and also voiced her intent to continue in her role as a Member of Parliament.

Given the circumstances, Prime Minister Harper stated today at a press conference that “a resignation is necessary,” also announcing that the RCMP have been called to investigate recent allegations against Guergis. Harper is also reported to have ejected Guergis from the Conservative caucus pending the investigation by the RCMP. Her role as Minister of State for the status of women has been given to current Public Works minister Rona Ambrose.

The governing Conservatives previously came under fire in 2008 after former Minister for Foreign Affairs Maxime Bernier had left confidential documents at the home of his girlfriend, Julie Couillard, a relationship that in itself caused some unrest in Parliament due to Couillard’s past connections to Quebec biker gangs.



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March 15, 2010

Four arrested in three Naperville, Illinois prostitution stings

Four arrested in three Naperville, Illinois prostitution stings

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Monday, March 15, 2010

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An undercover investigation by Naperville, Illinois law enforcement has led to the arrest last Thursday of four people allegedly involved in prostitution. The stings came after police received tips that people were using websites like Craigslist and Backpage.com to sell sexual performances in Naperville hotels. 

Patricia H. Scoleri of Naperville was arrested after an unidentified neighbor observed consistently suspicious activity at Scoleri’s home. Traffic was unusually heavy and consisted mostly of luxury cars in an otherwise quiet, middle-class neighborhood. Also, the visitors were mainly middle-aged men, and an odd string of lavender-colored lights were hung on the front window.

Police say Scoleri worked alone. She was arrested at 2 p.m. local time (2000 UTC) and is charged with violation of anti-prostitution laws, anti-cannabis laws, and the Massage Licensing Act. She apparently has four children, but the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has neither contacted her nor received a police report on her.

The second sting occurred at 5:30 p.m the same day (2330 UTC) and resulted in the arrest of Chicago resident Tonya M. Adams. She is charged with prostitution and driving without a license. Another sting about an hour later resulted in the arrests of Jessica M. Walley, a Skokie resident, and Mark A. Williams, a self-admitted Schaumburg gang member. “Walley was charged with prostitution and unlawful possession of cannabis. Williams was charged with pimping, obstructing a peace officer, driving with a suspended license and driving without insurance,” reports WBBM News Radio 780.

All four suspects are free, having paid the required ten percent of their $1,000 bail. They may face additional charges related to crack cocaine discovered during the police investigation. Arraignment is scheduled for next month at the DuPage County Circuit Courthouse in Wheaton.



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January 14, 2010

Cocaine found at Kennedy Space Center

Cocaine found at Kennedy Space Center – Wikinews, the free news source

Cocaine found at Kennedy Space Center

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

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A launch of the Discovery in May 2008.

On Thursday, NASA officials confirmed that a small plastic bag of cocaine was found two days before in a secure space shuttle processing facility within the Kennedy Space Center located in Merritt Island, Florida.

An employee found the bag in Orbiter Processing Facility #3, where the Discovery is being prepared for a March launch to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. The man immediately notified security, and local police were soon called to the scene. From there, the bag’s contents were tested, and the results came back positive for cocaine.

The center’s director, Robert Cabana, assured the press that neither the Discovery nor the hangar in which it is being housed was compromised by the presence of the illegal drug. He went on to affirm that neither he nor his agency condone the use of any controlled substance by any employee while they are on the job, and that whoever is responsible will be fired and then prosecuted for the offenses.

Furthermore, Cabana stated that besides probing the criminal nature of what occurred, NASA will also conduct a full review of recent work performed on the Discovery as to make sure that there were not any other potential problems with the shuttle that investigators may have missed the first time.

Although a drug test was performed on each of the facility’s over two-hundred workers before they left Wednesday, “There was nothing obvious,” said the center’s public relations spokesman, Allard Beutel.

He goes on to say, “Nobody was obviously under the influence when they were working, because we have supervisors there, security in there. It wasn’t obvious somebody was under the influence of this substance, or any other, for that matter.”

Senator Bill Nelson, a former astronaut himself, says he is confident that the guilty party will be found, brought to justice, and then sent “out the door.”

Beutel concluded his statement by reaffirming NASA’s “zero-tolerance” policy for controlled substances, “People know how serious this is, and how serious[sic] people take it,” Beutel said. “And it’s not acceptable. That’s the bottom line.”



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