Pubdate: Thu, 07 Mar 2002
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2002 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Author: Marisa Taylor, Staff Writer
Cited: The November Coalition


Back home in Texas, Hobart Huson is known for his business acumen and
his insistence that U.S. drug laws should be reformed.

Huson, the grandson of a Texas historian and the son of a lawyer, is
now accused of breaking those drug laws.

He has been sitting in the federal jail in downtown San Diego since
October, when he was indicted on drug conspiracy charges. If
convicted, Huson faces up to 30 years in prison.

Federal authorities contend he knew that shipments from the Texas
chemical distribution company he owned were headed to an Ecstasy lab
in Escondido.

Yesterday, Mark S. Windsor, Huson's attorney, tried unsuccessfully to
persuade U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan to release Huson on bail.
Windsor described his client as a political prisoner.

"This is becoming an Inquisition," Windsor said. "A big part of why
he's being detained is because of his political beliefs."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Robinson said Huson's actions landed him
in jail.

"He not only held these beliefs, he promoted a lifestyle," Robinson
said. "He dedicated his life to promoting the manufacture and use of
controlled substances by writing books on how to do it and opening a
company that provided the chemicals."

Eighteen others were arrested in the Escondido drug-lab case. Four of
them have been released pending trial.

The group is accused of setting up a lab in Patton Industrial Park
capable of producing up to 1.5 million tablets of the hallucinogen a
month. The lab was hidden in the same rented office as an Internet
pornography business that operated under the name of Infobase Direct

Huson, 34, has been identified as the author known as Strike, who
wrote three how-to books about drug manufacturing that can be bought
online. He is also a member of the November Coalition, a nonprofit
group that calls for the reform of drug laws.

Prosecutors also say he helped run the Hive, an online chat room that
prosecutors say is aimed at underground chemists and referred users to
Huson's former business.

Federal authorities say the drug ring began testing the lab last
spring with the intention of producing Ecstasy in bulk. Authorities
say they believe they raided the lab before the drug hit the streets.

Huson resigned from Science Alliance, the Humble, Texas, company that
he co-owned, soon after his arrest.

Robinson argued yesterday that Huson should be jailed until trial
because he might be dangerous. A Texas magistrate already had ordered
Huson held without bail in October, but Huson's attorney appealed the
ruling to Whelan.

Whelan refused to release Huson. He also denied a request from The San
Diego Union-Tribune for access to portions of yesterday's bail hearing
and documents that the defense attorney argued should remain secret.

In the part of the hearing that remained open, Robinson revealed new
allegations that Huson had supplied chemicals to another Ecstasy lab,
this one in La Jolla. Authorities raided that lab Tuesday, and
Robinson said a suspect told authorities he bought chemicals from
Science Alliance, Huson's former business.

Robinson also contended that Huson sold Gamma Hydroxybutyrate, a drug
also known as GHB or the date rape drug. Four people who bought the
chemical from Huson's company were hospitalized. Two of them died.

"The things he sells kill people," Robinson said.

Before his arrest, Huson was the subject of a TV news magazine segment
that accused him of selling chemicals to an Arizona drug lab run by
college students. Huson later was indicted in a separate case
connected to that lab.

Huson's attorney accused federal authorities of overcharging his
client because of the publicity and compared Huson to a pharmacist who
sells medicine that is misused without his knowledge.

Windsor said his client, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges,
sold only legal chemicals and had no idea the buyers planned to
manufacture drugs.

"He's a businessman - nothing else," Windsor said.

Nora Callahan, director of the November Coalition, said Huson appeared
to be a passionate activist.

Callahan, a San Diego native who now lives in Washington state, said
her group is a nonprofit organization dedicated to speaking out
against what its members see as the injustices of the war on drugs.

Huson set up an informational booth two years ago in Houston to hand
out November Coalition pamphlets, Callahan said.

"He was active and very faithful," she said. "We would get letters
from people saying, 'I'm writing about that lone man.' "
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake