Demario Harris must be a happy man. On Wednesday his life sentence for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute was thrown out by a U.S. District Judge because two police officers allegedly used a fabricated confidential informant and a falsified search warrant to justify his arrest. As reported by Tulsa World, Harris is the 21st person to be released early from prison as a result of an investigation into corruption within the police.
It must be highly frustrating for Tulsa Police to see convicted drug dealers having their sentences dismissed. However, it emphasises the point that shortcuts should never be taken to secure an arrest. Take a moment to think about the communities in Tulsa though – 21 people that police and the judicial system said were criminals are now exonerated and back in the community – faith in the judicial system really must be at an all time low, and all because of a few over-zealous cops…
The Sheriff of Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Raymond Martin, has been on trial for drug trafficking and witness tampering accoring to Courier Press. The Sheriff allegedly gave marijuana to a confidential informant, Jeremy Potts, on several occasions (sometimes up to 20 pounds a time) so that Potts could sell it and share half of the profits. Eventually Potts wanted to get out of the arrangement and became a confidential informant for Illinois State Police, allowing evidence to be gathered in order to arrest the corrupt Sheriff.
A combined international operation across East Africa targeting counterfeit medical products and pharmaceutical crimes has resulted in the seizure of at least 10 tons of counterfeit and illicit medical products and more than 80 arrests of individuals suspected of involvement in the illegal manufacture, trafficking or sale of counterfeit and diverted medical products.
Nearly 10 percent of Mexico’s Federal Police have been fired as part of President Felipe Calderon’s war on drugs, according to Reuters. Deputy Police Chief Facundo Rosas explained that 3,200 policemen were fired for failing to “carry out duties established in the federal police law”. The police department of Ciudad Juarez, one of the main centers of drug cartel related violence, has also seen the dismissal of 465 policemen, including it own Police Chief.
Where corruption is so ingrained in society, it is difficult to say whether these latest sackings will make a real difference. Some say it is worth trying. Others point out that 28,000 people have been killed in drug violence since Calderon’s war on drugs started in 2006, an escalation allegedly caused by disruption of existing drugs gangs and battles to take over new territories.
Trying to wipe out a $13 billion black market is difficult, some might say impossible. Whatever happens, the pressure is on President Calderon who has vowed to win the war against drug cartels by the end of his term in 2012.
CIFAS – the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, in collaboration with a number of private and public sector bodies and experts, has released a report entitled The Internal Betrayal looking at Staff (or Insider) Fraud and how organisations can combat the threat.
12 men and women have been cleared of accusations that they were members of the Latin Kings gang according the The St Petersburg Times. Police raided a meeting of the gang in 2006, arresting 52 people on racketeering charges. However, it transpires that an informant, Luis Agosto, working for the FBI and Tampa police, had reinvigorated the gang and threatened people with violence if they didn’t attend meetings. Police also allegedly overlooked numerous instances of criminal behaviour by Agosto.
This is yet another in a series of incidents illustrating inadequate risk assessment and checking of informants’ reliability. In this case it appears that the entire police sting was founded on the informant’s efforts, leading to the possibility of serious consequences for the law enforcement agencies involved.
If allegations reported in The Post-Bulletin are true, then the sheriff of Dodge County made a serious error of judgement in his dealing with the investigator accused of coercing a female informant into having sex with him. The lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Department suggests that the Sheriff’s department was made aware of the accusation in August 2009 but took no action against Jeremy Gunderson, the narcotics investigator at the centre of the allegations.
The allegations suggest that there are significant procedural issues that need to be resolved and that accountability of informant handlers needs to be improved.
Baltimore City Drug Enforcement Officer Mark Lunsford faces a 20 month prison sentence for sharing $10,000 with a police informant and stealing a diamond watch worth $18,000 from someone’s house during a drugs raid. The US DoJ has reported that the 40 year old officer has been required to leave the police force and has been sentenced to 20 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.
This story reiterates the need to law enforcement agencies to improve their management of confidential informants, particularly with regard to informant payouts.
The Guardian reports today that Jackie Selebi, former chief of the South Africa Police Service and president of Interpol, has been given a 15 year jail sentence for corruption. The corruption charges relate to Selebi accepting bribes worth over £100,000 from convicted drug smuggler Glenn Agliotti.
The whole case is a real set back for the South African police service and an embarrassment for Interpol – let’s hope that both organisations can put this behind them and look to a less controversial leadership.
Action Fraud, the UK’s first national fraud reporting centre, has had 15,000 web reports and calls in the last six months from members of the public who have joined the fight against fraud.