Why Washington DC Police Are Cracking Down on Cannabis ‘Gifting’

Washington DC Feb 3 2018 For nearly seven hours on a muggy Saturday last August, hundreds of people paid $10 apiece to enter Uneeda Nichols’ Southeast D.C. home, where 10 vendors had set up inside with flowers, concentrates, ready-to-smoke bongs and more. Nichols says she wasn’t aware her address was circulating on social media, printed on a flyer advertising $5 “gas mask” and bong hits and “complimentary strain sampling”–but Metropolitan Police were.

Metro Police bought tickets, bought cannabis, then brought the hammer down.

“They stayed outside, they watched all the vendors bring their stuff in, they bought tickets at the side of the house, and they came,” Nichols said, referring to undercover officers who surveilled her home for six hours before entering with nearly $100 apiece to purchase marijuana.

Minutes after they left, police raided the house, confiscating $22,808 in cash, nearly eight pounds of marijuana and more than 34 pounds of edibles, along with Nichols’ grow of 43 plants, according to an arrest report. (Nichols says only 10 of them were harvest-ready, and all of them were for “educational” or personal use.) She was charged with marijuana cultivation, distribution and possession; seven others were hit with distribution and possession charges.

“They took everything,” Nichols, a medicinal patient in the District.

In the last few months, sources tell Leafly local authorities have raided a growing number of cannabis events at private homes and bars and restaurants around the city. On Jan. 20, cops arrested 22 people at XO Lounge downtown, seizing 17 pounds of flower, 10 pounds of edibles and two quarts of oils.

‘I chuckle when I think about people believing that the law can be so easily gotten around. Clearly it cannot.’

One week earlier, they busted an event at Vita Lounge in Shaw, arresting one person and seizing more than three pounds of cannabis, along with edibles, oils and $1,181 in cash, an arrest report confirmed. And on Dec. 22, 2017, police shut down an event at The Elroy on H Street, taking five containers with an unspecified amount of flower, the department confirmed.

In 2014, D.C. residents passed the Initiative 71 ballot measure, legalizing home grow of up to six plants, possession of up to two ounces and gifting of up to an ounce of marijuana. Congress blocked the city from spending any money to regulate sales of the plant, but allowed the ballot measure to become law. Days after it took effect, D.C. lawmakers enacted an amendment banning so-called cannabis clubs, prohibiting consumption at bars, restaurants and other public spaces.

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Sex traffickers are on many websites. Why is police action so rare?

HADLEY MA Jan 17 2018 — Prosecutors painted a squalid picture of what went on inside the little house on busy Russell Street: The Asian women were kept there night and day, providing sexual services for a fee, sleeping where they worked, and rarely venturing outside except to take out the trash.

The customers themselves led law enforcement to the address in 2016, by writing detailed reviews of the services they received at Hadley Massage Therapy — services that went far beyond massage. On a controversial website called Rubmaps.com, they described their sexual experiences in detail, including how much they paid, what services they received, and their level of satisfaction with the women’s performance.

“These are reviews on victims of human trafficking,’’ said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, whose office led the investigation into the alleged sex traffickers who ran centers in Hadley, East Longmeadow, and Framingham. “It’s terrible, their depiction of women. . . . It’s just truly appalling.”

The now-closed Hadley Massage Therapy is one of hundreds of erotic massage centers described on Rubmaps.com in Massachusetts alone — and there are some 7,000 nationwide.

But even though law enforcement officials can easily find other suspected sex-trafficking operations on Rubmaps.com and other so-called John boards, listings on these sites seldom lead to prosecution.

That’s because of the sheer number of businesses and the legal resources needed to take each one down. Shutting them down is not as simple as rounding up the men and women in the massage parlor. State and local officials say they don’t want simply to arrest women workers — who are increasingly considered victims — but to take down the business operators who often run multiple storefronts.

Healey said her office will continue to go after the massage businesses described on the review boards. But even when law enforcement moves against erotic massage parlors, conviction of alleged traffickers is no slam dunk. The women, many of them fearful of deportation and unable to speak English, often make reluctant and poor witnesses. After being questioned, they often leave the state. The New England Center’s efforts to reach alleged victims from recent busts proved unsuccessful.

Donna Gavin, head of the human trafficking unit for the Boston Police Department, said police scrutinize review boards during investigations when they get tips about problematic addresses. But they have to be selective because investigations can be labor intensive, she said.

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Alert nurses, hospital security leads to drug arrest

ABINGDON, Va. Dec 30 2017 — A woman was arrested after Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputies found illegal drugs and a large amount of money in a Johnston Memorial Hospital patient’s room.

Willie Mae Jane Berry, 40, of Pennington Gap, Virginia, was arrested after deputies recovered crystal methamphetamine, numerous pills and approximately $3,000 from an unnamed patient’s room, according to a written statement.

The Sheriff’s Office had received a call from the hospital in reference to illegal drugs being present in the room at approximately 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

Upon arrival, hospital security and nurses showed the deputies a powdery substance on the sink in the room. The substance was found to be cocaine from a field test, according to the statement.

Berry was charged with six felonies and a misdemeanor, including possession of cocaine, possession of dilaudid, possession of clonazepam and two counts possession of hydrocodone. Berry was also charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute clonazepam, according to the statement.

Berry was transported to the Abingdon Facility of the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail. She is being held without bond.

Charges against the patient of the room are pending.

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Serial Salem burglar captured with alert security officer’ help

Salem OR Dec 27 2017 A man suspected of breaking into at least 18 local businesses, churches and non-profits was arrested Christmas Eve by Salem police.

Roberto Baney-Mateos, 26, was wanted by Salem police in connection with a series of burglaries, including a break-in at La Bonita Bakery on Portland Road, where thousands of dollars were stolen on Nov. 25.

On Dec. 1, investigators asked for the public’s help with locating Baney-Mateos, a transient with a warrant out for his arrest for violating his probation for a methamphetamine possession conviction.

Security guards spotted Baney-Mateos inside a business complex yard around 8:20 p.m. Sunday. Salem police spokesman Lt. Dave Okada said officers quickly responded and spotted Baney-Mateos in front of one business in the 3100 block of Kantz Court NE.

As officers closed in on him, Baney-Mateos fled into an adjoining business yard. A Salem police K-9 dog found him hiding in the back of a utility truck.
He was taken into custody without further incident.

Okada said as the investigation continued, officers determined Baney-Mateos also burglarized Garten Services three times and was possibly connected to several other break-ins. Baney-Mateos was eventually charged with 22 counts of burglary dating back to Nov. 20.

The break-in at La Bonita Bakery was just one of many break-ins to hit the Salem area in recent months.

According to restaurant owners and police, at least 10 restaurants reported burglaries in the Salem-Keizer area since August.

Romano’s Mexican Restaurant closed for business after a burglar stole thousands of dollars from the company safe.

Salem police spokesman Okada told the Statesman Journal he believed a small number of prolific offenders were behind the break-ins.

Bentley’s Coffee and a Keizer Dutch Bros. also experienced multiple burglaries. After Keizer police released a photo of the suspected burglar, John Herriges, 40, of Salem, was arrested and charged with breaking into the coffee shops.

Following his arrest, Baney-Mateos was taken to Marion County jail. He is scheduled to appear for arraignment on Tuesday.

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Two charged with attempted robbery

Two people face attempted armed robbery and drug distribution charges after police said they followed a man from the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore to the Annapolis Police Department and attempted to hold him up at gunpoint with a BB gun.

Annapolis police said a man drove into the parking lot of the department on Taylor Avenue around 4:40 p.m. after he noticed he was being followed by another vehicle.

According to charging documents, the victim was at the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore on line waiting to cash out chips when he was approached by Breiya Evans, 23 of Owings Mills.

After he declined an invitation for a drink, charging documents state that he noticed Evans and another man continued to follow him to the elevator and out of the casino.

 The man then got two security guards to escort him out of the building, police wrote, but he soon found himself being followed in his car by Evans and the man.
Charging documents state the man pulled “several evasive maneuvers” to try to elude the two, but to no avail. He drove from the casino to Annapolis with them following closely behind the whole way, police said.

When he pulled into the police department’s parking lot, police said the other vehicle pulled up behind him and Evans pointed what looked like a handgun at him.

Fearing he was being robbed, he ran into the police department and attracted the attention of an officer, police said.

When confronted, police said the woman was wielding a BB gun designed to look like a real handgun. Police added when they searched her car they found “13 individual baggies of marijuana.”

Evans and the passenger, Patrick Palmer, 25, of Baltimore, were arrested and charged with armed robbery, felony assault and drug distribution charges along with eight other misdemeanor offenses.

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Clifton NJ worker stole dead man’s Social Security money

“CLIFTON NJ Sept 29 2017 -A city employee who worked at senior citizen’s center was arrested Wednesday on charges she used a dead man’s debit card to withdraw Social Security funds from his bank account.

Jacklyn Delillo, 31, is charged with theft by deception and identity theft, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes said in a statement.

Delillo worked at the Clifton Senior Citizens Center, which is run by city government. It was at the center where she befriended an elderly man, Valdes said.

“When the elderly individual died, Social Security checks continued to be deposited into the individual’s bank account,” Valdes said.

“It is alleged that Ms. Delillo used the decedent’s debit card to make purchases after his death, utilizing Social Security funds,” Valdes said.

Delillo stole about $2,500, the prosecutor alleged.

Delillo salary is $21,726 and has worked for the city for about a year, according to state pension records.

Local authorities were assisted in the investigation by the Social Security Administration Inspector General’s Office, Valdes said.

After her arrest, Delillo was released on a summons to appear in court on Oct. 20, the prosecutor said.”

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Walmart security officers honored by St Paul Police

“It was a routine day for Walmart security officers Chao Vang and Dan Miller until a man in a winter coat slipped out the door with a pair of pants and some medical supplies.

Soon, along with St. Paul police officer Tom Reis, they were embroiled in a life-or-death struggle with the shoplifter. The man was sprawled across the ground flailing his limbs, a 6-inch knife in his right hand.

“I was on my knees holding [the man] down,” Reis recently recalled. “He would’ve been in the perfect position to get my neck … It is a possibility I wouldn’t even be here” were it not for Vang and Miller.

Both hands clamped down on the man’s right wrist, Reis yelled for Vang and Miller to help until other St. Paul officers could arrive. Vang and Miller recently received the police chief’s life saving award for their actions during the Dec. 22, 2016, incident. One other civilian and two officers also received the award for their actions in other cases.

“He asked for help, so I just jumped in,” Vang said.

Reis was working off-duty at the Midway store on University Avenue when he spotted the shoplifter and stopped him. Unbeknown to the officers at the time, the man had just allegedly violated a harassment restraining order, sliced another man several times with the knife and was apparently seeking a change of clothes and first aid at Walmart.

Reis walked the man into the back of the store with Vang and Miller in tow. When Reis gave him a pat down, he discovered the knife stashed in a coat pocket. “Don’t do anything stupid,” Reis told the man.

But the man pulled away, brandished the knife and refused to drop it, according to Reis and court documents. Reis and the man struggled to the ground, with the officer warning the man that he would use deadly force if necessary. That’s when Reis called for Vang and Miller.

Miller yelled for a store worker to call 911 and held down the man’s back and left arm. Vang grabbed onto his legs.

“The guy said, ‘I’m not going to give up my knife,’ ” Vang recalled. “And, ‘I’m going to stab you if I have to.’ ”
The man thrashed.

“I’m going to get you,” the man said, according to Reis.

“I had to put all my body into it,” Vang said.

The struggle continued despite the pile-on, and at some point, Reis sustained a small cut to his right hand that remains scarred today. He can’t be sure if it was the knife or something else that nicked him, but he knows he was uncomfortably close to an officer’s worst nightmare — being killed on the job or killing someone on the job to save his own life. Backup officers arrived before any more harm could be done.

“I’m grateful they stepped in and helped me,” Reis said of Vang and Miller. “In the big picture of things, no one got hurt, which I think is a small miracle.”

The 31-year-old man, a Minneapolis resident, was charged with three felonies in the incident at Walmart and the earlier assault on a man. Charges were later dropped when he was found mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Venancio Arellando-O’Campo was also recognized for stopping to help an elderly man with dementia who had wandered away from a field trip to Como Zoo on a cold February day.
Arellando-O’Campo was driving when he saw the man walking along Hwy. 36 dressed only in a sweatshirt, said Police Chief Todd Axtell. Concerned by the unusual sight, he pulled over, spoke to the man, who had limited communication skills, and took him to McDonald’s when he said he was hungry.

“This is really a classic definition of being a good Samaritan,” Axtell said.

The man had been missing for hours when Arellando-O’Campo found him.

“I feel glad to help somebody …,” Arellando-O’Campo said.

Officers Jeff Boyle and Santiago Rodriguez were honored for performing CPR on an unconscious man who had fallen to the ground at a gas station during a heroin overdose.

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Va State Police warns of automated traffic ticket email scam

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia State Police is warning citizens about an “automated traffic ticket email scam” being used by scammers to demand money for unpaid traffic tickets.

“The email scam is just one of numerous tactics used by scammers to harass individuals under the guise of being the Virginia State Police,” a VSP spokesperson wrote.

State Police said they do not use or issue digital/automated traffic tickets or summonses.

The department is warning anyone who receives the email to not click on any links provided and delete it immediately.

This scam notice comes one month after the department warned citizens about state police phone numbers being cloned by scammers demanding money and/or threatening individuals with arrest warrants.

State Police advised residents who received the calls to hang up immediately.

Here are some tips from VSP to protect you from similar scams:

Never open or click on a link in an email from an unknown email address, individual or organization.

To check the validity of an email, locate the entity’s website and call to determine if it is a legitimate email. The same goes for an individual.

Never give out personal information, credit card numbers, bank account information, etc. to an unknown individuals or entities via the phone or email.

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Robo-parking enforcement to hit Edmonton this fall

Be warned. An Edmonton driver’s chances of getting away with illegal parking are set to drop dramatically when city officials roll out their new robo-parking patrol.

Car-mounted cameras will automatically check licence plates against the parking payment records while rolling at 50 km/h on downtown streets. A wall-mounted camera will take a picture every time a car enters or exits a city-owned parking lot to ensure payment and the human patrol no longer tasked with marching downtown streets will redeploy to school zones and other hot-spot areas.

City officials are evaluating product bids now and hope to have a test car on city streets in October. The full rollout would hit Edmonton by spring. “That would be ideal,” said Erin Blaine, parking enforcement co-ordinator.

“It’s just a way more efficient way to use resources,” Blaine said. The parking rules are there to ensure spots remain open for drop-in customers for local businesses, and the automated enforcement will be more reliable for everyone. “It eliminates officer error.”

Similar to photo radar, scofflaws will get a ticket in the mail rather than under their vehicle’s windshield wiper. It will include a photo of the licence plate, which Blaine hopes will reduce the number of people appealing these tickets in court. She currently has five to 10 officers called to court every week.

It’s a $50 ticket for motorists who do not pay for parking.

An update on the project went to city council last week. It’s a $12-million effort, with $5.2 million already spent on the new digital parking meters. It’s listed as late because the city originally thought it could roll out the whole plan by 2015.

The third phase — having city-owned parkades calculate the number and location of spots left — is still being developed.

The report to council says implementation was delayed while city officials investigated the possibility of partnering with another municipality.

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Chicago Police, Feds Team up on New Effort to Curb Violence

Chicago police, federal agents and prosecutors are launching a new initiative Friday to stem the flow of illegal firearms in the city as part of efforts to curb rampant gun violence that President Donald Trump says is at “epidemic proportions.”

Trump’s remark on Twitter came ahead of an announcement by Chicago police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives about the formation of the Chicago Crime Gun Strike Force. The Chicago Sun-Times reported 20 additional ATF agents have been sent to Chicago.

State police, intelligence analysts and state and federal prosecutors will target illegal guns and repeat gun offenders, Chicago police said. Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in a statement Thursday night that “we are foundationally changing the way we fight crime in Chicago.”

Trump tweeted Friday morning that “Crime and killings in Chicago have reached such epidemic proportions that I am sending in Federal help.” In January, he warned Chicago about its high number of homicides, saying on Twitter that he is ready to “send in the Feds.”

Trump’s latest tweet said there have been 1,714 shootings in Chicago this year. The Sun-Times said its count showed 1,737 people have been shot in 2017, including 306 who died. The Associated Press sent a message to a police spokesman seeking their most recent count.

Police and federal officials note, however, that efforts to curb gun violence in Chicago have been cooperative — and are ongoing. Under the new effort, the federal prosecutors and prosecutors from Cook County will work on new strategies to prosecute gun crimes and offenders.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speaking Friday on the Fox News Channel’s morning show, “Fox & Friends,” said the Justice Department is “sending in additional gun investigators” to Chicago and that he has urged the U.S. attorney’s office to prosecute gun cases aggressively.

“The police have been demoralized in many ways,” he said. “In many ways, the policies in Chicago have not been working. Murders are way, way too high. It is critical for the people of Chicago’s public safety that we begin to work together here and deport violent criminals that have been convicted. They need to not be a sanctuary city, they need to be protecting the people of Chicago from violent criminals.”

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