DRUG WAR BRIEFS: 26 Years for Selling Pot

January 15- Alabama's Decatur Daily reports: A Lawrence County High School student pleaded guilty Monday to selling drugs at school and received sentences totaling 26 years in prison.

Webster Alexander, 19, of 2161 Lawrence County 180, Moulton, received the jail time for six drug charges, including four for distributing controlled substances at the school.

Lawrence County District Attorney Jim Osborn said the sentences were stiff, but justified.

"Distribution of a controlled substance is a serious offense any time, but it is especially serious when it's on school property," he said.

The other two charges were for first-degree possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.

Lawrence County Circuit Judge Philip Reich sentenced Alexander to 13 years on each distribution charge. He gave him three years for the act of selling on campus, five years for selling drugs within three miles of a school and five years for selling within three miles of a housing project.

Authorities arrested Alexander at his home April 9, 2002, after an undercover agent with the Lawrence County Drug Task Force identified him as one of the students selling drugs at school. The agent posed as a student for six weeks and made several drug buys.

January 17- Massachusetts' Taunton Daily Gazette reports: Jack A. Cole began fighting what he now considers a failed war in the mid-1960s. Unlike Vietnam, the war on drugs is still going on.

"It has been an abject failure," Cole said of the war he helped wage for 12 years as a narcotics detective. He says those 12 years were worse than futile. "I did worse than waste my time, I destroyed lives," Cole said.

Cole, a retired New Jersey State Police Detective, is now leading an effort to end the prohibition of drugs and find alternate solutions the nation's drug problem.

Cole is executive director of LEAP, an acronym for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an organization of 300-plus members that includes U.S. District Court judges, current and former police officers and former Drug Enforcement Agents.

The solution to the drug problem is to stop making drug dealing profitable, Cole said.

Another trick is to strip them of their romance. Cole said in Holland marijuana use is lower than in the United States in part because it is nearly legal. "They have made pot boring," Cole said.

Paradoxically, in the United States teenagers in surveys say it is easier to get illegal drugs than cigarettes or alcohol.

January 23- The Associated Press reports: The Senate on Thursday confirmed Asa Hutchinson as undersecretary of the new Homeland Security Department, where his responsibilities will range from border control to aviation security.

Hutchinson is currently head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. His voice-vote approval came hours after he was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee, a day after the Senate approved former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge to head the department and a day before the agency formally comes into being.

The creation of the department is the biggest federal reorganization in more than half a century.

Hutchinson, 52, will be in charge of border and transportation security, overseeing such agencies as the Customs Service, the Transportation Security Administration and the federal law enforcement training center.

The new department, as it takes shape over the coming year, will pull together 170,000 civil servants from 22 agencies, also including the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Coast Guard and other security-related offices.

January 25- The San Diego Union Tribune reports: Four Camp Pendleton-based Marine reservists, all from North County, were killed Wednesday night when their two helicopters collided in flight during an anti-drug operation with the Border Patrol in Texas.

The reservists were flying unarmed AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters. The two-seat, twin-engine helicopters were on a reconnaissance mission out of Laredo, Texas, near the Mexican border.

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

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