drugs

It's a moment many parents dread — sitting down to talk with their kid about drugs. What should they say? Will the conversation have any effect? And should they mention their own youthful indiscretions?

Parents can get advice from the family doctor or pediatrician and places like the Partnership at Drugfree.org (formerly the Partnership for a Drug-Free America), though there's not been much evidence to back up the recommendations.

Maximina Hernandez says she begged her 23-year old son, Dionicio, to give up his job as a police officer in a suburb of Monterrey. Rival drug cartels have been battling in the northern Mexican city for years.

But he told her being a police officer was in his blood, a family tradition. He was detailed to guard the town's mayor.

For the 11th year running, deaths from drug overdoses rose in the U.S in 2010.

Pharmaceuticals were involved in more than half of the 38,329 overdose deaths that year.

Opioid painkillers, such as hydrocodone, or Vicodin, were the most common prescription drugs implicated. They were cited in 16,651 fatalities, or 44 percent of the total.

Jovita's picture flickr.com/carlos

Amado “Mayo” Pardo, the 64-year old proprietor of Jovita’s swept up in a sprawling heroin bust last summer, has died, according to online reports.

Pardo’s attorney tells the Austin American-Statesman that Pardo died yesterday due to cancer and other health problems. He was due to stand trial in February.

courtesy Chris Goldberg at flickr.com/chrisgold/

The nonpartisan Texas Criminal Justice Coalition says the state should stop locking up so many drug offenders and invest more in substance abuse treatment.

A report the advocacy group released today says arrests for drug possession have skyrocketed and far outnumber arrests for drug delivery or distribution.

Executive Director Ana Yanez-Correa says the root of the problem is addiction, and she says addiction isn’t taken care of behind bars.

Ivan Pierre Aguirre for Texas Tribune

NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico – The tank that has stood at the entrance to this Mexican border city since 2008 was not here on Christmas Eve. Neither was the machine gun turret that pointed down this gritty town’s main street.

But the masked soldiers remained. Residents say it is a sign that little law enforcement appears to exist except for the military officers who patrol the streets.

That could change, however, under policies announced recently by Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico’s newly inaugurated president.

It looks like the feds will not be worrying much about those folks who choose to smoke pot in Colorado and Washington state, where new laws decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The Justice Department has a big decision to make.

Parts of new laws in Colorado and Washington that legalize small amounts of recreational marijuana will take effect early next month. The Obama administration needs to choose whether it will sue to stop the legislation or let those states go their own way — even though the drug remains illegal under federal law.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, says the message he got from voters is unambiguous.

flickr.com/esqenzo

Update:  The Texas Civil Rights Project wrote this letter to APD yesterday, requesting an explanation of its disproportionate pot busts within ten business days. Citing the statistics in the story below, project director Jim Harrington writes, “These facts raise serious questions, at least, as to whether APD officers are doing racial profiling or consistently exercising their discretion in favor of whites and against African Americans.”

Original Post (Nov. 10, 1:39 p.m.): Despite Austin’s progressive reputation, smoking marijuana in this city can still get you in trouble with the law. And data from the Austin Police Department shows that is more likely to happen if you are African-American. 

Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.) are asking the White House to respect the voters of Colorado and Washington, who decided that recreational marijuana use should be legal.

In a letter sent to President Obama, they wrote:

Erik Reyna for KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry is holding another press conference this afternoon to discuss possible changes to welfare and unemployment insurance – including the possibility that so called "high-risk" recipients be required to take drug tests.

Today Perry will stand alongside State Sen. Tommy Williams in Conroe to once again talk about his support for a bill filed this week. It's an issue Perry has pounced on and appears to be making a priority for the 2013 Legislative Session. Just yesterday, Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst held a rare joint press conference yesterday to praise the bill filed by State Sen. Jane Nelson.

Now, a state representative from Beaumont is throwing the bill's supporters a challenge. State Rep. Joe Deshotel wants Perry, Dewhurst and Nelson to support adding a drug test requirement to the application to run for state office.

Good morning. After a chilly start, Austin should warm to highs in the mid-60s, according to the National Weather Service. Here’s some stories KUT News has been working on.

"Violent crime in Austin’s downtown area has risen by nearly 17 percent, according to the latest FBI statistics, although Austin police say the city remains one of the safest in the nation.  Police have ramped up their downtown presence. And that’s raising its own set of concerns among advocates for the city’s homeless."

"Texas Governor Rick Perry has given his support to a bill that would have recipients of unemployment benefits submit to drug tests. Those failing a test would be denied benefits for 12 months, or until they completed a drug treatment program."

Ben Philpott, KUT News

Texas Governor Rick Perry has given his support to a bill that would have recipients of unemployment benefits submit to drug tests. Those failing a test would be denied benefits for 12 months, or until they completed a drug treatment program.

Gov. Perry told reporters every dollar the state takes from its people and spends counts, which is why he’s pushing lawmakers to pass legislation creating the drug testing program.

"Every dollar that goes to someone who uses it inappropriately is a dollar that can’t go to a Texan who needs it for housing for childcare or for medicine," Perry said.

flickr.com/fiverweed

Voters in Colorado and Washington state elected this week to legalize marijuana for recreational use. In Texas, the drug remains very much illegal. But a state law passed five years ago has resulted in thousands of people in Travis County avoiding arrest when they’re busted with small amounts of pot.

Back in 2007, State Representative Jerry Madden (R-Plano) authored a bill to give police officers the option to cite and release someone caught with less than four ounces of marijuana. 

“The reason for that was to save costs for some of our [police] departments, so that they had more people that would be available on the streets, instead of taking the time to bring very low-level offenders in and book them,” Madden said. “They were going to be released very shortly anyway.”

flickr.com/stayfadedphotography

The head of incoming Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's transition team says that Mexico may re-evaluate its policies regarding marijuana export to the United States.

Currently, Mexico works with the United States to discourage the growing of pot within Mexico, and to prevent its shipment across the border to the United States.

But today Luis Videgaray, a top aid to Peña Nieto, characterized votes by Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana use and personal cultivation as a game changer.

The Washington Times reports that in remarks to a Mexico City radio station, Videgaray said that "obviously we can't handle a product that is illegal in Mexico, trying to stop its transfer to the United States, when in the United States, at least in part of the United States, it now has a different status."

flickr.com/kevharb

Jury selection begins today in the trial of three former downtown Austin nightclub operators.

The Yassine brothers – Hussein, Hadi and Mohammed Yassine – were among ten people arrested in March on drug, weapon and money laundering charges.  The Yassines, who operated several nightclubs including Spill, the pirate-themed bar Treasure Island, Kiss and Fly and more, have entered not guilty pleas.

The sensational nature of the charges – and the media attention they have attracted – are already a point of contention. The Austin American-Statesman, which notes that over 120 citizens were summoned to U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks’ courtroom to form the jury pool , writes:

Early questions focused on pre-trial publicity in the case, with Sparks asking prospective jurors if they’d been following coverage of the investigation, including a story that ran on the front page of today’s American-Statesman.

Carrying the weight of his murdered son’s memory, a Mexican poet is leading a national caravan — with stops in Austin and several other Texas cities — to publicly condemn American drug policies.

Javier Sicilia and his Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, a group whose members have been affected by drug-related violence in Mexico — including several who have lost loved ones — will descend on the state Capitol on Aug. 25. The group aims to raise awareness of how it says U.S. drug policy, particularly the war on drugs, has affected Mexico.

“In order to protect the 23 million drug consumers in the United States, this nation initiated this war that has destroyed Colombia and which now in turn is destroying Mexico, Central America, and is also menacing to destroy in the medium term the United States itself,” Sicilia wrote on the movement’s website. “The burden we bear upon us contains the weight of our dead, of our missing ones, of those displaced, of our criminalized and humiliated immigrants.”

While the exact number of dead seems to be in flux, there is no question that the last few days have been incredibly bloody across Mexico.

Jovita's Hopes to Reopen, Defendants Say

Jun 27, 2012

The Austin American-Statesman reports that the proprietors of Jovita's Mexican Restaurant – currently at the center of an alleged heroin distribution ring – would like to reopen the popular South Austin eatery. (It's unclear how this would occur, since the restaurant was one of several assets seized last week.) Amanda Pardo, wife of alleged ringleader Amado “Mayo” Pardo, was released on bond at a hearing this morning.

Austin Police Department

Regional officials alleged today that Amado Pardo, the owner of Jovita’s Mexican Restaurant in South Austin, led a prison-gang connected heroin ring that moved between $3,400 and $6,250 worth of drugs daily.

Officials from the Austin Police, the FBI, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Office of the Inspector General and other agencies announced 18 arrests and the seizure of over $1.5 million in assets in a press conference this afternoon, “including a well-known restaurant on South First Street, Jovita’s,” said APD Assistant Chief Sean Mannix.  

Patrick Loll, an FBI assistant special agent for Central Texas, said Pardo lead a “heroin distribution network that has operated here for over a decade.”

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