DRUG WAR BRIEFS: Corruption du Jour

February 7- Illinois Daily Southern reports: A former Chicago police officer, retired to a life of luxury in Olympia Fields, was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals Thursday after he was accused of stealing cocaine from an evidence room and selling it to drug dealers.

John L. Smith, 54, is charged with drug conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion. A Chicago police spokesman said Smith earned about $45,000 a year as a patrol officer when he retired from the department in 1999 and moved to the suburbs. Nonetheless, he managed to drive a Rolls-Royce.

Federal agents said Smith concentrated his efforts on evidence pertaining to three criminal cases in the courthouse, and took 20 kilos of cocaine from one case, 12 kilos of cocaine from another and 17 kilos of cocaine from a third. Federal agents said the three cases already had gone to trial, ended in a guilty plea and been tossed out, respectively, so the theft of the drugs went unnoticed for some time.

February 7- The Austin-American Statesman reports: At the height of his power, former Mexican drug czar Guillermo Gonzalez Calderoni lived in two worlds. He aided and persecuted that nation's most notorious drug kingpins while befriending U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI agents and making enemies of high-ranking Mexican officials.

Calderoni was killed Wednesday morning with a single gunshot to the head outside his lawyer's office in a barren area of this Rio Grande Valley city. Calderoni, who was sitting in his $100,000 Mercedes-Benz, had just finished a meeting about the purchase of a ranch, a law firm employee told The (McAllen) Monitor.

February 12- Pittsburghs Tribune Review reports: A jury has sided with two narcotics agents who claimed their boss- the Pennsylvania attorney general- retaliated against them because they uncovered a drug-trafficking ring that diverted profits to a CIA-backed Dominican presidential candidate.

Agents John McLaughlin and Charles Micewski filed a lawsuit claiming their forcible transfer from the Philadelphia office of the state Bureau of Narcotics Investigation violated their civil rights. A federal jury in northeastern Pennsylvania agreed, awarding $1.5 million to McLaughlin and Micewski on Friday after a one-week trial.

The verdict capped more than five years of litigation. "They won their lives and their reputations back," Don Bailey, attorney for the plaintiffs, said Tuesday. "These people were just destroyed, devastated."

Through a spokesman, state Attorney General Mike Fisher said he will appeal.

The agents' allegations involved leftist politician Jose Francisco Pena Gomez, the longtime leader of the Dominican Revolutionary Party and a three-time presidential hopeful. Gomez died in 1998.

McLaughlin and Micewski said they had uncovered a Dominican drug-trafficking ring operating in Philadelphia, New York and other Eastern cities that funneled drug profits to the Dominican Revolutionary Party, which they claimed was supported by the Central Intelligence Agency and State Department.

The agents said the federal government had allowed Gomez to return to the Dominican Republic after a 1995 fund-raising swing through New York with $500,000 in alleged drug profits.

Shortly after their allegations surfaced, the Philadelphia district attorney and U.S. Attorney's office began questioning the agents' credibility and stopped prosecuting their drug cases. More than 125 drug cases ultimately were dismissed or dropped after prosecutors accused agents of fabricating evidence and lying on the witness stand.

McLaughlin, Micewski and other agents from the drug agency's Philadelphia office were subsequently transferred to other bureaus- and removed from street duty- by then-state Attorney General Tom Corbett.

The agents filed a civil rights lawsuit in 1997, saying they had "become the targets of vicious unfounded attacks on their credibility and careers by the federal government," with the "marionetted support" of the Philadelphia DA's office and Corbett.

Send tips and comments to Kevin Nelson at drugwarbriefs@yahoo.com.

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