DRUG WAR BRIEFS: Everyone Arrested

February 6: The (MA) Sentinel and Enterprise reports: School officials kept Leominster High School students in their classrooms for 30 minutes Thursday as state police and drug-sniffing dogs searched the hallways.

The lock down came at 8:35 a.m., when an administrator announced over the loudspeaker that students and teachers must stay in their classrooms until the search was over.

Dogs alerted police to three or four lockers during the search, but police found no drugs, said Principal William Hart.

"It was like a lock down," Sophomore Johanna Creamer said. "That's what everyone said, they were yelling 'lock down, lock down.' It was horrible, it was uncalled for. (School officials) already deal with drugs -- they don't have to use big dogs to scare us." Some students thought the search sent the wrong message to students. "I think it's disgusting," said junior Colin Progen. "It makes us look bad." The announcement signaling the start of the lock down scared some students, said junior Vanessa Bosley.

"At first we thought it was a gun," she said. "They scared us." Police and school administrators had been planning the search for months, said Assistant Principal Tom Browne.

"It's an ongoing effort to provide as safe an environment as possible," Browne said.

February 11: The Wichita (KS) Eagle reports: Former Trego County Sheriff Curtis Bender has been indicted on federal charges of distributing cocaine shortly before he resigned last April, U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren announced today.

A warrant had been issued for Bender's arrest, and Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents arrested him this morning in Lawrence, said Kena Rice, a spokeswoman for Melgren.

"Law enforcement officers hold a position of trust in our communities, and that trust is rarely violated," Melgren said in a prepared statement. "However, on those rare occasions when allegations arise of wrongdoing by a law enforcement officer, the allegations will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted. Those who uphold and enforce the law must abide by the law."

Bender is charged with two counts of distributing cocaine on March 22 and March 23, one count of attempting to distribute more than 1.1 pounds of cocaine March 25, and one count of possessing a handgun in furtherance of drug trafficking on March 25.

February 12: The Ogdensburg (NY) Journal reports: A Former police officer was sentenced to 26 weekends in jail Wednesday for stealing $40 from an undercover cop posing as a drug dealer.

Victor Millan, 31, an 11-year veteran of the Rochester force, was convicted in November of misdemeanor petit larceny and official misconduct charges and a violation of unlawful marijuana possession. Millin, who was honored for excellence in 2001, told the judge he regretted the embarrassment he bought on himself, family and colleagues.

Investigators busted Millin and officer Philip Bustos after a three-week undercover drug sting in May. Both men were arrested while in uniform and on duty.

February 13: The Gadsden (AL) Times reports: A marijuana legalization activist who had argued that she was searched illegally has been convicted of possession of less than a gram of the drug and some paraphernalia.

Loretta Nall, who founded the U.S. Marijuana Party in 2002, was given a 30-day suspended sentence for the misdemeanors and was ordered to pay several hundred dollars in fines. She immediately filed a notice to appeal.

Nall and her attorney argued that the Tallapoosa County Narcotics Task Force illegally obtained the search warrant that resulted in her arrest.

Members of the drug squad raided her mobile home on Nov. 13, 2002, based on statements her daughter made in a kindergarten class.

Officers also used as evidence for the warrant a letter to the editor published in The Birmingham News. The letter signed by Nall calls for marijuana users to come out of the closet and change laws against it.

February 13: Rocky Mountain News reports: A Denver police officer was charged Thursday for allegedly taking a $10,000 bribe from a drug dealer to destroy evidence.

Officer Damon D. Finley, 31, was charged with bribery, conspiracy to commit tampering with physical evidence, conspiracy to commit theft, and theft. He also faces a federal charge of making a false statement to an FBI agent.

February 13: Rocky Mountain News reports: The Yuma fire chief has been indicted on charges of possessing 500 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. The Feb. 9 indictment of Dan Lehman was made public Thursday. If convicted, Lehman faces 10 years to life in prison.

Send tips and comments to Kevin Nelson.

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