"Drug deals reported inside Boston shelter for veterans; Clients, former workers say problem continuing despite three recent deaths" by Brian MacQuarrie Globe Staff December 26, 2015
Residents are conducting drug deals inside the New England Center and Home for Veterans despite the Boston shelter’s stated zero tolerance for drug possession, according to nearly a dozen residents and former employees.
Several of them estimated that at least 20 percent of the roughly 300 people who stay at the downtown center, where many homeless veterans seek help for addiction, are looking to buy or sell drugs. The allegations come two months after reports that three of its residents had died of apparent opioid overdoses.
“I’ve bought drugs from people there, so I’m not an innocent party,” said one heroin addict who has lived at the center and did not want to be named for fear of retribution. “But there are deals being made all the time. You try to do what you can and not get caught.”
Center president C. Andrew McCawley, in a written statement to the Globe, strongly defended efforts to keep drugs out of the facility.
“The staff coordinates closely and regularly with the Boston Police Department and reports any and all suspect activity,” McCawley wrote. “Occasional random inspections of the premises and searches of personal belongings are conducted to help maintain the facility standards and rules, while preserving dignity and privacy.”
However, he added in a telephone interview, “I can’t tell you that people are not approached while they’re in this facility.”
All the residents and former employees who spoke with the Globe, many of whom asked not to be identified, said nearly all the transactions are completed just outside the doors of the center. A private nonprofit facility founded in 1989, it houses veterans in a transitional shelter and single-occupancy apartments and is within sight of Boston City Hall.
“The only way to describe it is rampant,” said Bob Guerriero, 49, who said he worked as an overnight supervisor at the center until January.
Boston police said they have arrested residents on drug charges after being alerted by staff members at the center. A police spokesman, Lieutenant Michael McCarthy, said he did not have a figure for the number of residents arrested, but McCarthy said the center and its immediate surroundings are not regarded as a hotbed of drug activity. “We haven’t seen much activity around it, but that’s not to say there isn’t stuff happening,” McCarthy said.
Cops are turning a blind eye to it!
However, the heroin addict who asked not to be named told two of his sisters that being approached about drugs at the shelter had crippled his efforts to become sober and had endangered his life.
“I know it’s my own fault. I keep telling myself I’m not gonna do it, but as soon as I get paid, it starts all over,” the addict wrote while he was staying at the shelter. “I pray sometimes I won’t wake up. I’m just really tired of this.”
McCarthy said the brother felt trapped by the easy availability of drugs, whose sales reportedly peak near the first of the month when many residents receive income from Social Security and disability benefits.
“He told me it’s hard to say no,” McCarthy recalled. “He said, ‘They tell me I can pay them when I get paid.’ He had a lot of services there, but they weren’t working.”
McCawley said the center faces a difficult and complicated mission: striving to help at-risk veterans who also face frequent temptations. Clinicians at the center estimate that 60 percent of residents are vulnerable to opioid abuse.
“It’s not like they’re not trying,” the heroin addict said of the staff. “It’s like anyplace else. If you want to find something, you’re going to find it.”
Guerriero, the former overnight supervisor, said he worried about residents locking themselves in bathrooms to shoot heroin or take powerful opioid painkillers.
Did the military put them on that stuff?
Overnight staff made rounds of the transitional living areas twice per shift, and residents discovered with illegal drugs were reported, he said.
“There’s only so much they can do,” Guerriero said of the administration. “But, personally, I think they could be doing a whole lot more.”
Center officials in late October confirmed that three residents had died in the previous two months, but they have not said whether opioids are suspected.
One Vietnam-era veteran who has stayed at the shelter said he watched one of the victims collapse and die in September while smoking what was believed to be marijuana laced with fentanyl, a powerful painkiller.
Marijuana is the worst drug of all.
"Law enforcement authorities in Tewksbury said Monday that a recent drug bust turned up a number of bricks containing suspected fentanyl — a powerful substance that is often mixed with heroin and has been cited in recent overdose deaths. Hilda Gandia, 42, of Lawrence, and Agustin Antonio Tejeda Ruis, 45, of Tewksbury, were arrested in Tewksbury in the Friday operation, according to the Middlesex district attorney’s office. Local police, State Police, and the US Drug Enforcement Agency searched a residence on Ames Street and allegedly found narcotics weighing 30 kilograms, about $21,000, a kilo press, a scale, and packaging materials. Gandia was charged with conspiracy to traffick heroin, conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, prosecutors said. Ruis faces the same charges along with uttering a forged document and identity fraud."
Put that in your pipe and smoke it!
Police seek charges against marijuana advocate
Court official hears allegations against marijuana activist
Now they are threatening his son.
The pair were watching television in the victim’s single-occupancy apartment, said the 63-year-old veteran, who asked to be identified only as Santos.
“He fell on the floor,” Santos said in an interview. “I tried to pick him up, and he was dead.”
McCawley said no deaths have occurred at the facility since officials confirmed the three fatalities, and that the staff works hard to steer addicted veterans toward long-term recovery, including assigning a case manager to every resident.
The center conducts scheduled and random drug tests; monitors compliance with clinical plans, including attendance at recovery programs; and tracks relapse, success, and mortality rates, he said.
“The center and its dedicated staff have extensive firsthand experience with the terrible effects of opioids,” McCawley said. “The staff does not judge. However, they work diligently to mitigate the risks that veterans may face.”
Nothing regarding the 23 suicides a day.
Homeless shelters make frequent calls for emergency services, according to Che Knight, spokeswoman for the Boston Public Health Commission. From Oct. 28 to Dec. 10, she said, Boston emergency crews responded 20 times to the veterans center, primarily for illness or injuries. Knight said she did not know how many calls were for drug overdoses.
McCawley said that any resident found with heroin or other illegal opioids most likely would be ordered to leave. However, McCawley added that the response to each drug and alcohol infraction is balanced against the risk of displacing a resident without food, shelter, and continuing treatment.
“We weigh every single case very carefully,” McCawley said....
As it should be.
Related: Major crime falls to 10-year low in Boston
Well, when you aren't looking for it....
"The department in 2015 held scores of youth-police dialogues and meetings with community members; officers participated in about 55 peace walks, drove the department ice cream truck through neighborhoods, gave away toys at Christmas, and held movie nights, cookouts, and a family appreciation day."
Also see: Policing is Social Work
Even if they have to kill you.
At least no one is going to jail:
"Treatment instead of jail for addicts" by The Editorial Board December 19, 2015
This fall, a new kind of court session came to order in Massachusetts, one that holds enormous promise for a region coping with an exploding opioid epidemic by offering integrated treatment for low-level drug defendants rather than costly long-term incarceration.
The program, called RISE — for Repair, Invest, Succeed, Emerge — is part of a broader shift nationally away from rigid sentencing guidelines to a more humane view: dealing with the complex social causes that can lead to drug abuse and drug-related crime in an effort to break the addiction cycle and keep people from re-offending.
Or you can put them on Vivitrol.
If anything, the RISE program in US District Court in Massachusetts should serve as a national example and shows that partnerships between the criminal justice system and social service agencies can be a potent weapon in combatting the opioid epidemic.
It's an “opportunity.”
Time to RISE up, 'eh?
Maybe front page feature running from pages A8-A11 will help.
Mothers face addicts’ pain, their own in ‘Heroin: Cape Cod, USA’
They are true Heroines.
"A batch of heroin believed to have killed eight people in Western Massachusetts over the past week might have been exceptionally deadly because of its purity, according to Springfield police."
“It could be that....”
"Most who OD on opioids are able to get new prescriptions" by Felice J. Freyer Globe Staff December 28, 2015
More than 90 percent of people who survived a prescription opioid overdose were able to obtain another prescription for the very drugs that nearly killed them, according to a Boston Medical Center study of chronic pain treatment published Monday.
Amid nationwide alarm over soaring overdose deaths, the study in the Annals of Internal Medicine is believed to be the first to ask: What happens to those who survive?
The answer, in the view of lead author Marc R. Larochelle, is stunning. The findings suggest major gaps in communication, education, and oversight that persist despite widening concern about the overuse of opioid painkillers, specialists said.
“It really sends an important message.”
You get it?
House opioid proposal differs from governor’s bill
7-day opioid prescriptions called key in anti-addiction bill
State tightens addiction center rules
Prescribers get access to out-of-state drug info
Opioid task force will target MDs, pharmacists
Data show opioids’ deadly toll
Opioid deaths in Norfolk County show big rise
State Police investigated 755 heroin overdose deaths in 2015
Needle exchanges seen as key in battling addiction
Maybe the problem is the encouragement to use.
Boston police use Narcan to make overdose rescue
Insurers team up with Gloucester police to aid addicts
More social work.
"Pharmacy delivery vans targeted by thieves seeking painkillers" by David Armstrong, December 22, 2015
They’re the new Brink’s trucks.
Delivery vans that transport prescription painkillers from warehouses to pharmacies and hospitals are the targets of an escalating number of thefts across the country, STAT has learned. Amid a nationwide epidemic of opioid addiction, the delivery vans have become an appealing and vulnerable target for thieves, addicts, and drug dealers.
In the last two years, there have been nearly 100 last-mile pharmaceutical thefts nationwide, according to FreightWatch International, an Austin, Texas, firm that provides logistics security services to companies. That’s nearly four times the rate of similar incidents in 2012, although the company said some of that increase could be the result of better reporting.
Pharmaceuticals made up 98 percent of all last-mile cargo thefts over the last two years, according to FreightWatch, an industry group, which has recently focused on improving pharmacy delivery van security.
Hitting the right pharmaceutical courier can yield a payoff similar to robbing an armored car. But the pharmaceutical van drivers usually receive little security training, work alone, and rarely carry weapons.
Time to militarize them then.
The courier robberies are causing alarm because in addition to putting addictive prescription drugs in the hands of criminals, these incidents often involve the use of weapons and take place in busy public areas, such as pharmacy parking lots.
“We still have a segment of criminals that very much want to get their hands on those pills because they have high street value,” said Captain Gregg Rector of the Hoover, Ala., police department, which is investigating a May van robbery. “People are willing to go to extreme means to get those pills.”
In the Alabama case, thieves hit an unmarked white van carrying a cargo valued in the six figures. Just before dawn on May 15, the driver left a complex of warehouses in Birmingham and pulled onto the interstate. A short while later, he noticed flashing blue and red lights in his rearview mirror and pulled over. He grabbed his license and rolled down the window, figuring he must have been speeding. He was wrong.
A stocky man in his early 20s, wearing a shirt with “DEA” printed on it, walked up and stuck a gun in driver John Latham’s face. The man reached in to the van and hit the button to unlock all the doors. Another armed man, wearing a ski mask, jumped in from the passenger side.
“Don’t do anything stupid,” the robber wearing the DEA shirt told Latham. “We want the drugs.”
I hate to think it, but maybe it really was DEA.
I mean, after Fast and Furious.... what are we to think?
The narcotics and other drugs had a retail value of $108,000, but on the street, some of the pills would sell for more than 100 times the retail price. The loot included 1,800 oxycodone and 300 OxyContin pain pills, which, depending on the dosage, could fetch as much as $66,000 for drug dealers. A single tablet of methadone, also part of the haul, sells for as little as 17 cents at a pharmacy but goes for $20 on the street, according to police.
Fatal overdoses of prescription opioids such as oxycodone have more than tripled since 2000 and accounted for about 33 deaths a day last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This crisis has prompted significant security upgrades in other links of the delivery chain stretching from pharmaceutical plants to pharmacies and hospitals.
Pharmacies have added safes with delayed locks to store painkillers, installed high-definition surveillance cameras and safety glass, and hired in-store guards in high-risk locations.
The stunning $80 million theft of drugs from an Eli Lilly Company warehouse in 2010 prompted widespread improvements to security at similar facilities across the country. Thieves cut a hole in the Lilly warehouse roof in Enfield, Conn., and rappelled down ropes into the facility. After disabling the alarm system, they backed a tractor-trailer into a loading dock and made off with 49 pallets of pharmaceuticals.
They really cleaned up and were never caught.
Tractor-trailers carrying large loads from manufacturing plants and between warehouses are now typically outfitted with multiple GPS devices designed to thwart thieves. The technology can alert dispatchers if a truck veers off its route. Security personnel can also remotely turn off the vehicles’ engines if they suspect a problem. Tracking devices are even installed on the boxes of drugs inside these trucks. Cargo thefts have declined significantly.
“As that was slowing down, we started to see an increase in last-mile courier thefts in the last several years,” said Gregg Goneconto, a former criminal investigator for the US Food and Drug Administration who now runs Baymar Consulting LLC, a company specializing in pharmaceutical supply chain security.
The vans and small trucks bringing pharmaceuticals to their final destination are most often driven by independent contractors. They work for scores of courier services hired by wholesalers to get drugs and other medical supplies to their final destinations. The result is a patchwork delivery system with varying security standards.
“We were hiring and contracting with carrier entities without really delving into what is necessary to protect our interests,” said Charles Forsaith, the director of supply chain security at Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. “We have learned you have to pay attention to things like background checks of drivers, reputations of companies, what they have for insurance, and you have to, as simple as it sounds, put in writing exactly what you want. The locking of the vehicle is a perfect example.”
A driver failed to do just that on Jan. 26 when making a delivery in Mangonia Park, Fla. He left the rear door of his box truck unlocked as he went inside the Speedy Scripts Pharmacy with a delivery, a stop he made almost every weekday at the same time. A security camera recorded a man jumping out of an SUV, opening the rear door of the truck, and grabbing four to six plastic totes of pharmaceuticals while the courier was inside. It wasn’t until three stops later that the delivery driver realized he had been robbed of $50,000 worth of controlled substances, including oxycodone.
Forsaith is also chairman of the Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition, an industry group formed in 2006 to combat supply chain thefts. Initially the group focused on large-scale targets like warehouses and tractor-trailer shipments, he said. About three years ago, the coalition formed an internal group of wholesalers to focus on last-mile thefts and common ways to combat those crimes.
Three wholesalers, with combined revenues of over $300 billion, dominate the US pharmaceutical market. All three declined to answer specific questions about how often couriers delivering their products are robbed, any security measures undertaken in recent years, and their reliance on independent contract drivers to deliver their goods.
A spokesman for Cardinal Health said the company maintains “robust safety measures to ensure the safe distribution of products.” A spokeswoman for McKesson Corporation said it would not answer questions for “security reasons.” AmerisourceBergen, which owned the drugs stolen in the Mangonia Park, Fla., case, did not provide responses to questions....
Mine are why the shuffle and additions?
See what I mean?
"Drug kingpin known as ‘God’ due in court in February" by Travis Andersen Globe Staff December 30, 2015
Darryl “God” Whiting, a notorious former leader of a Roxbury drug gang who is serving a life sentence for dealing narcotics, will appear in federal court in Boston in February for a hearing on his request for a reduced sentence.
Whiting, 60, incarcerated in Kentucky, will be brought to US District Court in Boston for a hearing on Feb. 11 at 2:30 p.m. before Chief US District Judge Patti B. Saris, according to a legal filing Wednesday.
He was convicted in the same courthouse in 1991 for leading a drug enterprise that prosecutors said operated out of the Orchard Park housing development and grossed millions. He became the first defendant in Massachusetts to receive a life term for selling drugs.
He should have started a pharmaceutical company.
But in 2014, he filed a motion for a reduced prison term, based on new guidelines for drug offenses that the US Sentencing Commission had adopted. The reduction he is seeking would make him eligible for release in 2017.
Federal prosecutors initially backed his request but then abruptly withdrew their support in May. The withdrawl came after they learned that Whiting had published a novel behind bars in which a fictional character by the same name who is jailed for the same crimes is released from custody and takes revenge on witnesses who testified against him. In the novel, one of the witnesses is buried alive.
His lawyer has called the novel “a far cry from constituting evidence of a malicious intent or a revengeful plan.”
The flamboyant Whiting was known for his stylish dress and efforts to portray himself as a role model for young people before his downfall.
Sounds like another guy I've heard of.
He ran several businesses in Roxbury, as well as a social club that authorities said he used to recruit neighborhood youths for his drug enterprise, which numbered more than 100 people at its height.
During a court appearance in the case that led to his conviction, a defiant Whiting told reporters, “Call this the second trial of Jesus Christ!’’
He was also initially charged with murdering another drug dealer, but that count was later dropped.
Whiting out the Drug War, so to speak.
Time to get going:
"Driver’s license law may change" by David Scharfenberg Globe Staff January 07, 2016
House lawmakers voted unanimously Wednesday to repeal a 27-year-old state law requiring a driver’s license suspension for those convicted of drug crimes, such as possession, that have nothing to do with driving.
Advocates say the suspensions have been a major impediment for former offenders trying to rebuild their lives. Without a license, they say, it is difficult to find work, take children to day care, and get to drug-treatment programs.
The Senate approved similar legislation in the fall, and a spokesman for Governor Charlie Baker signaled support for the idea Wednesday, saying the governor is “open to a measure that would reduce or eliminate suspensions for drug offenders.”
The driver’s license push is the opening salvo in a larger campaign to overhaul the state’s criminal justice system. Lawmakers are also weighing a repeal of mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes and changes to a cash bail system thought to disadvantage low-income defendants....
Because it is costing states too much money.
And my destination....
New York medical marijuana program to begin Thursday
The program is off to a slow start, and doesn't that sound familiar, Massachusetts citizen?
"First medical marijuana dispensaries open in New York" New York Times January 08, 2016
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York joined the ranks of nearly half the states Thursday in allowing the use of medical marijuana with the opening of eight dispensaries statewide, serving a variety of syrups, concentrates, and other nonsmokable forms of the drug.
How many patients will initially visit those dispensaries is uncertain.
Officials at the state’s Department of Health said that by Wednesday only 51 patients had qualified for the drug. Such certification, however, began only Dec. 23 and requires the approval of a physician who has registered with the state.
Regardless of their clients, the facilities were planning to open across the state, including one on East 14th Street in Manhattan.
The opening of the dispensaries, allowed under a 2014 law signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, comes after years of lobbying by lawmakers on behalf of patients for whom the drug is a palliative to debilitating illnesses.
They must think we are smoking to try and run that public image smokescreen regarding the compassionate lawmaking $cum that have stood in the way all these years.
Even after the law’s adoption, some supporters of the concept criticized its stringent strictures and regulations, including that only a limited number of conditions qualify for medical use of marijuana.
Oh, in other words, they are just like Massachusetts under Democrat Deval.
The drug may not be smoked in New York, a stipulation of Cuomo’s approval.
He just took all the fun -- cough, cough -- out of it.
“I think the glass is three-fourths full, maybe two-thirds full, and that is that it is going to benefit a lot of very seriously ill people,” said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat, who first introduced a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the mid-1990s. “But I think we can do better.”
Take it from me, drinking while smoking it doesn't go well together.
"A New York company says it will soon offer the first certified kosher medical pot. Vireo Health says its non-smokable medical cannabis products have been certified as conforming to the Jewish dietary law by the Orthodox Union. Vireo says it’s the first time a medical cannabis product has been deemed kosher. The Orthodox Union says it awarded certification after inspecting Vireo’s facilities to ensure the marijuana was grown and processed according to kosher standards. Those include, for example, insect-free plants. Vireo says the certification will help the company serve patients among New York’s Jewish population, the nation’s largest. Its program is slated to start next month and will serve patients in New York state with certain qualifying conditions."
Need a light?
Kind of dark down there, isn't it?
"N.Y. settles lawsuits over Muslim surveillance by police" Associated Press January 08, 2016
NEW YORK — The New York Police Department will strengthen safeguards against illegal surveillance of Muslims in investigations of terror threats and install a civilian representative on an advisory committee that reviews the inquiries under the terms of a settlement of two high-profile civil rights lawsuits, lawyers said Thursday.
Which means the SPYING will CONTINUE!
The announcement of a deal after months of negotiations formally ended litigation over accusations that the nation’s largest police department cast a shadow over Muslim communities with a covert campaign of religious profiling and illegal spying.
Anyone go to jail?
‘‘We are committed to strengthening the relationship between our administration and communities of faith so that residents of every background feel respected and protected,’’ Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a prepared statement.
The suits were among legal actions that followed reports by The Associated Press that revealed how city police infiltrated Muslim student groups, put informants in mosques, and otherwise spied on Muslims as part of a broad effort to prevent terrorist attacks.
The settlement modifies and adds restrictions on surveillance set by the court-ordered Handschu decree, which was put in place in response to surveillance used against war protesters in the 1960s and ’70s. The decree was relaxed following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks to allow police to more freely monitor political activity in public places.
Yeah, you don't want Muslim men roaming around like in Germany:
"NYC parents turn in teens suspected in gang rape" New York Times January 11, 2016
NEW YORK — Two teenagers suspected of taking part in a brazen gang rape at a Brooklyn playground were turned in to police custody by their parents Sunday, a law enforcement official said.
The attack Thursday night, in which the police said five young men with a gun separated a father from his daughter and then took turns raping the 18-year-old woman, set off waves of anger and uncertainty in the Brownsville neighborhood where it happened. Elected officials also questioned whether the police notified the public quickly enough after the attack.
The two teens, a 15-year-old and a 14-year-old, were being questioned by the police a day after they released a surveillance video of the five suspects in a deli before the attack. The police said the young men ordered the father to leave, and then ran off before the father found help and returned with the police.
There remain many unanswered questions about the assault and its aftermath. In an area filled with public housing high-rises, delis and other stores, it is unclear why the father was not able to get help from bystanders or call the police from a store....
"4 teens in custody, 1 other sought in group N.Y. rape" Associated Press January 12, 2016
NEW YORK — Four teenagers are in police custody and a fifth suspect is being sought in connection with an alleged group rape of an 18-year-old woman in Brooklyn.
The attack has touched off fears in Brownsville, a mostly residential area that has had relatively high crime rates even as those in most of the rest of the city have fallen. It also prompted questions from elected officials about the police response to the crime, which took nearly 20 minutes after the men approached their victim, according to The New York Times.
The brazen attack, conducted in a playground next to a school and surrounded by homes, left neighbors shaken. Some residents said the Osborn Playground is a dangerous place after dark. The park’s lights are rarely on and police patrols are infrequent, they said....
Then get out of there!
"After more than a decade of delays and cost overruns, the $3.9 billion transportation hub at New York’s World Trade Center is set to open in the first week of March, officials said Tuesday. The delays and added costs have been blamed on factors including the demands of the architect, as well as mismanagement at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the trade center site."
Okay, you kids, that's enough horsing around.
"Cuomo proposes higher-education initiative in New York prisons" New York Times January 11, 2016
ALBANY, N.Y. — It was nearly two years ago that Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York floated a plan for the state to pay for college courses for inmates.
But it sank in the face of withering opposition from critics who mocked Cuomo’s initiative as “Attica University” and Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation who argued that New York should put “kids before cons.”
Can't they be both?
On Sunday, however, Cuomo, a Democrat, reintroduced the plan through a new and seemingly less vulnerable financing mechanism, using about $7.5 million in criminal forfeiture funds from the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., whose coffers are filled with hundreds of millions of dollars in bank settlements.
An additional $7.5 million will come from private matching funds, according to the governor’s office. The governor formally announced the college plan Sunday morning in Harlem, in a speech before the congregation of the Mount Neboh Baptist Church.
“Prisons were not supposed to be a warehouse,” Cuomo said. “It was not supposed to be, ‘We’re going to take you and put you in a warehouse for 10 years and lock you up, and then take you out in 10 years and return you to society and think maybe you’re going to be the better for it.’ ”
“It was supposed to be about rehabilitation,” he added. “It was supposed to be an opportunity to help people. We lost that somewhere along the way.”
You listening, Massachusetts?
The initiative is part of a broader criminal justice agenda that the governor will revisit Wednesday when he delivers his annual State of the State address....
Time to head back to New England:
LePage sorry for remark on dealers
Hands up, don't shoot!
Maine governor’s remarks spur impeachment drive
Because he spoke with his mouth full?
Effort to impeach Maine Governor Paul LePage derailed
In battle over housing for veterans, the Marine wins
That's my final salute for the evening.
UPDATE: Arlington chief alerts residents to meeting on addiction
Also see: New York creates $5 billion clean energy fund to spur renewables