Mexican Police Helped Drug Cartel Massacre 314 Migrants

Originally published on December 25, 2014, at NationofChange.org

After years of silence, the office of Mexico’s Attorney General declassified a document admitting police officers had participated in the kidnapping and massacre of hundreds of migrants throughout northern Mexico. While working for Los Zetas drug cartel, police provided illicit protection, assisted in kidnappings, and turned a blind eye to the investigation of numerous mass graves. Caught in a turf war between the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, at least 314 migrants have died at the hands of the police and cartels.

According to a recently declassified memo sent from the office of Mexico’s Attorney General to The National Security Archive, local police in the city of San Fernando in northern Mexico have been working for the Zetas for years. A DEA cable from 2009 noted many Zetas had been recruited from an elite Mexican Army unit known as the Grupo Aeromóvil de Fuerzas Especiales (GAFE). No longer operating as the enforcement arm of the Gulf Cartel, the Zetas expanded into new territory and asserted control through murder, intimidation, and corruption.

In August 2010, San Fernando police officers set up roadblocks and pulled at least 72 mainly Central American migrants off intercity buses. Instead of detaining the migrants, police officials handed them over to the Zetas who extorted fees for safe passage across the border and forced them work as drug mules. The Zetas executed everyone who could not afford to pay or refused to smuggle drugs across the border. The bodies of 58 men and 14 women from Central and South America were later discovered at a remote ranch in San Fernando.

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SWAT Grenade Severely Burns Toddler and Leaves Innocent Family with $1M in Medical Bills

Originally published on December 21, 2014, at NationofChange.org

While executing a no-knock search warrant on the wrong house, a SWAT team from the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office nearly killed a 19-month-old toddler sleeping in his crib. Scarred with multiple burns and a collapsed lung, the toddler was rushed to the hospital and placed in a medically induced coma. A grand jury declined to indict the sheriff’s deputies involved in the raid, and city officials refuse to pay his exorbitant medical bills.

After a fire destroyed their home in Wisconsin earlier this year, Bounkham Phonesavanh, his wife Alecia, and their four young children temporarily moved in with Bounkham’s sister in Cornelia, Georgia. Two months later, they found a new house in Wisconsin and were planning to return home when a SWAT team raided their bedroom in the middle of the night.

Around 2am on May 28, the SWAT team broke down their door as Habersham Deputy Charles Long threw a flashbang grenade into their bedroom. The grenade landed in the crib of 19-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh, Jr., blowing a hole through his chest and leaving third-degree burns along his face and torso. After slamming her husband to the floor, deputies ordered Alecia to sit down and shut up as she asked to hold her screaming child.

Instead of allowing Alecia to see her wounded son, Habersham Deputy Jason Stribling picked up the toddler, left the room, and waited outside for an ambulance. As the deputies detained the family and searched the house for drugs, Alecia and her husband discovered a pool of blood and burn marks in the crib. Their son’s pillow had been blown apart.

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Pharmacists Charged with 25 Murders in Meningitis Outbreak

Published on December 20, 2014, at NationofChange.org

Responsible for the deaths of at least 64 people resulting from injections of contaminated medication, the co-owner and supervisory pharmacist of a compounding pharmacy were charged this week with 25 acts of second-degree murder. Sacrificing safety standards for profit, 14 suspects associated with the pharmacy have been charged with 131 counts including conspiracy, mail fraud, racketeering, and violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Although the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists (IACP) believes this is an isolated incident, sources assert these crimes occur on a daily basis in compounding pharmacies throughout the nation.

In response to the 2012 nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 751 patients in 20 states were diagnosed with a fungal infection after receiving injections of a contaminated corticosteroid called methylprednisolone acetate. Of those 751 patients, the CDC reported that 64 patients in nine states died. The Justice Department discovered the tainted corticosteroids had been compounded and shipped from the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Massachusetts.

Co-owner and head pharmacist at NECC, Barry Cadden and his supervisory pharmacist, Glenn Chin, have been charged with 25 counts of second-degree murder for their wanton negligence and complete disregard for safety protocols. Instead of sterilizing their equipment or clean room, the pharmacists allowed bacteria and mold to contaminate the room while falsifying logs claiming they had disinfected the area. Using expired ingredients, Cadden and Chin also failed to test medications for sterility before shipping them to hospitals and pain clinics.

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Seven Corrupt Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputies Sentenced to Prison

Originally published on December 17, 2014, at NationofChange.org

Seven Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputies have been sentenced to federal prison for obstructing an FBI investigation into their department. Upon discovering an inmate working as an FBI informant, the deputies illegally concealed the prisoner, threatened an FBI agent, and attempted to influence witnesses. Although the deputies repeatedly asserted they had been following the orders of former Sheriff Lee Baca and then-Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, no charges have been filed against Baca or Tanaka.

As a sheriff’s commander under Baca, Bob Olmsted attempted several times to notify Baca and his staff about the abuses, corruption, and misconduct committed by deputies at Men’s Central Jail (MCJ) in Downtown Los Angeles. In 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the Sheriff’s Department accusing Baca of covering up and condoning violence against prisoners. In 2011, the ACLU released a report documenting over 70 instances of excessive force, misconduct, and sexual assault committed by deputies.

“I knew I had to act, and as a result, I notified the FBI of the department’s culture and acceptance of excessive force, inmate abuse, sheriff’s gangs, and corruption,” admitted retired Cmdr. Olmsted.

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Ex-Cop Sentenced to Life in Prison for Torture Chamber Conspiracy

Originally published on December 14, 2014, at NationofChange.org

A former Chicago police officer has been sentenced to life in prison for plotting to kidnap, torture, extort, and murder a businessman to acquire his real estate holdings. Steven Manning, who changed his name to Steven Mandell, received a life sentence and the death penalty years ago for kidnapping two drug dealers and murdering a truck company owner, but those convictions were overturned on legal grounds involving the admissibility of evidence at his trials, not because of innocence. Although they cannot prove his guilt, law enforcement officials believe Manning has murdered at least eight people since resigning in disgrace from the Chicago Police Department.

In 1983, Officer Manning was convicted on theft charges involving an auto insurance fraud scheme using luxury cars. After his conviction, Manning resigned from the police department and began working for a drug dealer named Anthony Mammolito. In 1984, Mammolito hired Manning, former Willow Springs police officer Gary Engel, and Thomas McKillip to rob a rival drug dealer named Charles Ford. Posing as federal drug agents, Manning, Engel, and McKillip kidnapped Ford and his associate Mark W. Harris.

Blindfolded, Ford and Harris were held captive for 14 hours until Ford’s sister paid $55,000 for their ransom. The kidnappers released them in a cemetery next to an open grave. Ford and Harris never reported the incident fearing retaliation and a possible investigation into their own illegal activities.

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16 Unarmed Black People Killed by Police this Year

Originally published on December 13, 2014, at NationofChange.org

At least 16 unarmed black people have been killed by police officers this year including a woman and two children. According to law enforcement officials, these people lost their lives in instances of poor police training, miscommunication, justified tactics, and excessive brutality. Although the majority of unarmed individuals killed by police this year have been black, officers have also been killing unarmed people of other races.

On January 16, Jordan Baker was allegedly killed in a case of mistaken identity. Working off-duty as a mall security guard, Houston PD Officer Juventino Castro confronted Baker because he fit the description of some robbery suspects who had recently held up three stores while wearing black hoodies. Castro claims Baker charged at him, forcing the off-duty officer to shoot Baker to death. A grand jury is deciding whether to charge Castro with killing Baker.

In August, North Augusta Public Safety Officer Justin Craven was charged with misconduct in office for gunning down a 68-year-old unarmed man named Ernest Satterwhite. After a slow-speed chase that ended in Satterwhite’s driveway on February 9, Officer Craven ran up to Satterwhite’s car door and shot him to death. The prosecution sought to charge Craven with voluntary manslaughter, but the grand jury indicted him on a misdemeanor instead. Satterwhite’s family has filed a lawsuit alleging Craven had disobeyed orders and lied about Satterwhite trying to grab his gun.

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Senate Torture Report Ignores CIA’s Most Brutal Crimes

Originally published on December 10, 2014, at NationofChange.org

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a scathing report condemning some of the abuses and torture committed by the CIA’s Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation (RDI) program, but failed to expose the CIA’s most heinous human rights violations. According to the report, the CIA lied to the Committee regarding prisoners’ deaths, the backgrounds of CIA interrogators, threats to detainees’ family members, and the effectiveness of torture.

On November 9, 2005, CIA Director of National Clandestine Service Jose Rodriguez, Jr. authorized the burning of 92 videotapes depicting the harsh interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and ’Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. In response to the destruction of those tapes, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted to review the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program on March 5, 2009. With access to over six million pages of CIA documents, the Committee merely provided a superficial summary without bothering to interview any participants or victims of the RDI program.

Following the tragic events of 9/11, the Justice Department constructed a series of legal memos authorizing the Bush administration’s use of torture against enemy combatants. In 2002 and 2003, Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo authored the torture memos, which were signed by Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee. The Authorization for Use of Military Force, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, and Executive Order 13440 became legal justifications for the utilization of enhanced interrogation techniques and a total disregard for the Geneva Conventions.

Under pseudonyms within the heavily redacted report, two retired Air Force psychologists, Dr. Bruce Jessen and Dr. James Mitchell, received contracts to develop the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques. They decided to reverse-engineer the Air Force’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) counter-interrogation training by inflicting both physical and psychological torture upon detainees. According to the report, they personally participated in waterboarding and interrogating prisoners.

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