BOGOTA, Colombia -- Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, the most powerful
Colombian drug trafficker ever extradited to the United States, said
he was innocent in an interview shortly before he was flown to Miami.
"I feel innocent of the charges they are making against me and I will
respond to them," he told the radio station W. Excerpts were published
Sunday by the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.
Rodriguez Orejuela, 65, is charged along with his brother Miguel with
running a drug network that produced 80 percent of the U.S. cocaine
supply in the 1990s.
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Charlotte County - Authorities are concerned about a rise in heroin
use in the county, where four men have been charged with dealing
heroin in the past two weeks.
Sheriff Bill Cameron said Wednesday at an anti-drug alliance meeting
that local heroin use is increasing. Sheriff-elect John Davenport has
promised to hire more detectives for the agency's narcotics unit.
Deputies on Wednesday arrested Kalier Rosado, 20, of Port Charlotte,
on charges of trafficking heroin and cocaine. Rosado was being held at
the county jail Thursday with bail set at $750,000.
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FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. -- Okaloosa County sheriff's deputies think
they have found a solution for getting rid of drug dealers and
prostitutes who congregate under a giant oak tree: chop it down.
The sheriff's office is seeking permission to have the tree removed
from a county right of way on Cypress Street.
"We're not attacking the tree," Deputy Don Hess said. "The tree hasn't
But Hess said it provides cover for drug dealers and prostitutes and
their customers. He said 30 to 40 arrests per month stem from criminal
activity at the oak.
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Regarding Tom Lyons' column on drug testing for all students at
Sarasota Military Academy being potentially destructive for American
My son will be attending SMA as a freshman this fall. He is not only
proud to be part of a school that has high standards for their
students but supports the drug testing for all.
It gives students a way out when faced with other teens who make the
"destructive decisions" to experiment with or use drugs. This school
policy is no different than applying for a job with a company that
promotes a drug-free workplace, which most businesses do now. The
worst that could happen is that someone would test positive and get
[continues 179 words]
I am writing you regarding Tom Lyons' commentary of July 6, "Drug testing
for all students may be destructive for American rights." I may be
mistaken, but I always thought that students' years in public schools were
supposed to prepare them for their adult lives -- they learn how read,
write, add, think critically and learn about what is expected of them so
they can succeed in the adult world.
Tom Lyons and the parents who are upset about mandatory drug testing at
Sarasota Military Academy must not have been out in the "real world" lately.
[continues 105 words]
The new drug test policy at Sarasota Military Academy worries Vannessa
Her daughter, Stephanie, is supposed to be a sophomore there in the fall,
and she really liked her freshman year, including the strict rules.
The military style suits her, because she wants to become a military lawyer.
The charter school, paid for by the Sarasota County school district, has 420
students, a waiting list and well-known principal Dan Kennedy, once the
Sarasota High principal.
Kennedy just sent a letter to notify parents that to attend this fall, the
students will have to take a urine test for drug use. And throughout the
year, kids will be chosen by lottery to be tested again.
[continues 533 words]
The announcement is about as routine as any over the high school's public
Just before classes begin, a voice reads the names of about 30 student
athletes and asks them to report to the office. No reason is given, but
most students already know why: The school wants to test them for drugs.
In the war on drugs, the students at Frostproof Middle/Senior High School
in Polk County are on the latest front line. While they casually wait their
turn, talking about classes or the latest movies, their parents, educators
and government officials fiercely debate whether 14- and 15-year-old kids
should be required to provide urine samples in school.
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This is in response to the Charlotte County School Board's plans for random
drug tests for students.
It's another half-baked idea from a group of people who can't seem to
understand that their job is to see to the education of students. Looking
at the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores leads one to conclude
that they ought to be looking for new jobs, because they aren't doing the
job they were elected to do. Forty-five percent of the eighth-graders in
Charlotte County did not pass the FCAT for reading (up from a 41 percent
failure rate in 2003); 60 percent of the ninth-graders did not pass the
FCAT for reading; and 67 percent of the 10th-graders did not pass the FCAT
for reading (up from 59 percent in 2003).
[continues 134 words]
Children in the Charlotte County school system will be tested randomly for
drugs and alcohol, the School Board announced this week. Not right away, but
maybe starting the next school year or soon afterward.
The same day this news appeared in the Herald-Tribune, another story
reported the problems 10th-graders have had with the state reading test.
Many of them, too many of them, can't pass it.
The juxtaposition of the two stories begs the question: How do we want our
public school district to expend its limited resources? Do we want our
educators to teach our children to read, write and develop critical
thinking, or do we want them to probe their bodies for drugs?
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UNITED NATIONS -- The drug-fueled war in Colombia has created the
worst humanitarian crisis in the Western hemisphere, with more than 2
million people displaced and Indian tribes threatened with extinction,
the U.N. humanitarian chief said Monday.
In the last four years, the number of people forced to flee their
homes has increased by about 1 million, Undersecretary-General for
Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland said. Colombia now has the
third-largest number of displaced people in the world - behind Congo
and Sudan, he said.
[continues 327 words]
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Students in Palm Beach County suspected of
using drugs are now subject to a new type of drug testing that's
administered with a swab and an aerosol spray.
Administrators at all 23 county high schools are being trained to use
the test whenever they have a "reasonable suspicion" that a student is
using illegal drugs, said schools Police Chief Jim Kelly.
The school district is one of 22 across the country, and the only one
in Florida, taking part in a free trial program that puts the drug
detection kits in schools.
[continues 173 words]
The 2002 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey reported that the
state's biggest teen drug problem wasn't in Miami, Tampa or any county
with an urban center.
According to the survey, Charlotte County ranks as the state's worst
when it comes to teen substance abuse.
The Herald-Tribune analyzed the results and methodology of the survey.
The review included interviews with experts in the field of surveys
and teen drug use, as well as with representatives of the company that
created and administered the survey. The goal of the analysis was to
answer some of the questions a skeptic of the survey's findings would
have, such as:
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Re: Ephedra ban:
According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year more than 400,000
Americans die from cigarette smoking.
The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency reports that 105,000
Americans die annually from alcohol-related causes. The Journal of the
American Medical Association reported 564 Viagra-related deaths in 1999
alone. According to the Institute of Medicine, 7,400 Americans die each
year because of prescription drug errors.
My point is not that cigarettes, alcohol and prescription drugs should be
banned by the Food and Drug Administration, but rather why ephedra with 155
deaths over a period of eight years? What does this mean and what will be
next? In 2004, let us all be alert, aware and protective of our great and
free society. We have so much to lose.
Danee Barnett, Longboat Key
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. A small group of Florida doctors are drugging
the poor at taxpayer expense and exploiting the Medicaid system by
prescribing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of dangerous drugs,
a newspaper reported Sunday.
Regulators have largely failed to curb excesses in billing as
pain-relief patches, sleeping pills, tranquilizers and other highly
abused drugs have poured out of pharmacies over the past three years,
feeding a booming black market and adding to a torrent of fatal overdoses.
"This is a crime in plain sight," said David Moye, director of
economic crimes and health care fraud for the Florida Attorney
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LOS ANGELES -- A federal judged cited a "lesser harm doctrine" when he
ruled Monday that three men who pleaded guilty to running a West
Hollywood medical marijuana center would receive no prison time.
U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz expressed admiration for the men's
work in helping sick patients during the sentencing hearing in which
he ordered they serve only one year of probation and up to 250 hours
of community service. The each also were ordered to pay a $100 fee,
but their bail of $25,000 was exonerated.
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Plan To Videotape Use Of Chemical Irritants Makes Sense
Whether or not there's any substance to a federal lawsuit accusing some
Florida corrections officers of torturing inmates with pepper spray and
tear gas, a recent proposal by the state Department of Corrections to
"tighten" procedures for using chemical irritants is wise.
The proposal would require most uses of chemicals on prisoners to be
The policy proposal, which would take effect after a public-hearing period,
is in response to the lawsuit, DOC Secretary James V. Crosby Jr. told
Herald-Tribune reporter Michael A. Scarcella.
[continues 293 words]
PORT CHARLOTTE -- The tattooed man jailed on charges he injected his
girlfriend's 4-year-old with heroin has a history of inflicting domestic
abuse, civil court records show.
Women here have obtained three temporary restraining orders against Shawn
Edward Malsky in the past five years for alleged abuse against them or
their children. Documents detail the acts of a man who reportedly bruised
the cheek of a girlfriend's daughter when the child refused to eat, and who
tried to strangle his wife in front of her children.
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The Herald-Tribune has acted irresponsibly by printing an article,
editorial and columns regarding the reverse sting operations carried
out in Sarasota by Sarasota Police Department undercover detectives
working with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. In a weak attempt to
present some level of investigative reporting, the paper has done
little more than endanger the lives of dedicated police officers and
their families. It is not newsworthy that high-level crime goes on in
Anytown, U.S.A. Criminals do business in nice places and stay in nice
hotels. To ignore that fact is sophomoric and will certainly not make
crime go away.
[continues 135 words]
Florida Should Restore Funding Of Drug Programs
Addiction is a disastrous thing, but Rush Limbaugh is a lucky man in one
respect: He can afford rehabilitation therapy for his drug habit. Thousands
of offenders in Florida's jails and prisons aren't so fortunate.
For them, substance-abuse treatment is often out of reach, even when
they've been ordered to get it. The state doesn't fund enough program slots
to accommodate the thousands of offenders who need help.
Even in good times, Florida was far from generous in funding drug and
alcohol treatment. But in the fiscal crunch of the past two years, the
dollars haven't even matched inflation, much less population growth.
Millions of dollars have been slashed from the Department of Corrections'
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Will Limbaugh's Experience Change View Of Addiction?
It is tempting to respond to Rush Limbaugh's dramatic revelation last week
about his addiction to painkillers with the same dismissive disdain the
popular radio host has aimed at other drug addicts in the past.
It is tempting to throw words from Limbaugh's show back in his face: "And so
if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and
they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up."
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