DRUG WAR BRIEFS: Raided!

October 31- The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports: Undercover drug investigators burst into a home and drew their guns on two women before realizing they were at the wrong house.

Estelle Newcomb said she was humiliated that her home had been raided and that her sense of security was destroyed.

Police told Newcomb they would replace the door they kicked in last weekend.

"That's not replacing our nerves, our comfort, our peace of mind on our property here," Newcomb said.

Newcomb, 50, said she was working on her computer around 9:40 p.m. Friday when her dogs started barking. She looked out her window and saw several men charging toward the front door.

The investigator said he kicked in the door, and other officers told Newcomb to get down on her hands and knees. He said he recognized Newcomb from a nearby convenience store and then saw her 80-year-old aunt in the house.

"I knew this was not right," said the investigator, who asked not to be identified because he works undercover. "To be honest with you, it was sloppy police work - not being thorough enough."

This was not the first mistaken drug raid in Middlesex. In July, an operation involving the Middle Peninsula Drug Task Force, state police and the National Guard raided a suspected marijuana patch that turned out to be tomatoes.

November 1- The Los Angeles Times reports: Concluding that inadequate planning and bad judgment led to the mistaken shoot-down of a light plane carrying American missionaries in Peru, the Senate Intelligence Committee said Wednesday that the CIA should be removed from the business of spotting possible drug-runners along Peru's border.

On April 20, a Peruvian warplane downed the missionary flight. Missionary Veronica Bowers and her infant daughter, Charity, were killed. The pilot was wounded. The Intelligence Committee said the missionary pilot did nothing wrong and should not have come under fire.

"The lack of judgment displayed by key individuals involved was the primary factor leading to this disaster," said Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), the panel chairman. "Safety procedures, however, had degraded over time to the point where this kind of tragedy was almost inevitable."

"The primary culprit in this case was lax management," said Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), the committee's vice chairman. "Established safety procedures were permitted to erode unchecked for a period of years. CIA officials, from the program manager to the director, failed to properly manage this program--with tragic results."

November 3- The Los Angeles Independent reports: Last Thursday at about 4:30 p.m. federal Drug Enforcement Agents came through the doors of the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center calling President Scott Imler's name. It was a bust.

The DEA had a federal search warrant and declared the center a federal crime scene. About eight agents were present and some momentarily had their guns drawn outside, according to neighbor Chris Shaefer. Shaefer says the agents secured the exits, watched the windows and entered the building.

The LACRC was closed for the day, but some members who work there had just finished baking marijuana goods, according to member Michael Mallory.

The members were detained for about four hours, during which time neither West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman nor the center's attorney, City Councilman John Duran, were allowed into the center. The DEA left at around 11 p.m. after confiscating about 400 marijuana plants, the growing equipment, disbursement records, financial documents, computers, 3,000 medical records, and doctors' names in two Ryder trucks.

"They were as gracious as they can be when they are raping you," Imler says of the DEA agents.

The bust was a result of months of surveillance and years of investigation of the LACRC by the DEA.

City officials condemned the raid at a press conference last Friday that was attended by more than 100 center members.

The West Hollywood Sheriff's Station has worked in the past to protect the center and did not cooperate with the DEA raid, when they were reportedly given a five-minute warning.

Send tips and comments to Kevin Nelson at kcnelson@premier1.net.

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