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Drugs and Alcohol

CA’s Four U.S. Attorneys Agree to Permanent Ban on Fentanyl

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SACRAMENTO — The following statement was issued by the four U.S. Attorneys who serve California: Nicola T. Hanna (Central District of California), David L. Anderson (Northern District of California), Robert S. Brewer (Southern District of California) and McGregor W. Scott (Eastern District of California)

To fight this epidemic, law enforcement must have all the necessary tools at their disposal. One such tool is the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) 2018 order making all fentanyl-related drugs illegal in the United States.

Unfortunately, that order was temporary and will expire in less than two weeks. The Senate recently passed bipartisan legislation approving a 15-month extension of the temporary order. While this is a step in the right direction, and the House should pass the Senate’s bill, a longer term solution is needed. We need a permanent ban on all fentanyl-like drugs.

Illicit fentanyl is manufactured in labs in China and Mexico and smuggled into the United States. It is 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine. So powerful, in fact, that only a couple milligrams – the size of a few grains of salt – can kill the average person.

Fentanyl, however, is unique. Because it is made in labs using chemicals, its structure is easily manipulated. And the drug cartels that manufacture and traffic this synthetic poison into our neighborhoods understand American laws and know how to exploit them.

They know that by changing a single molecule in the chemical structure of fentanyl, they have essentially created a new drug. One that, unlike fentanyl, is not illegal in the United States. These drugs, known as “fentanyl analogues,” do as fentanyl does: create more addicts and kill more Americans. The analogues – which can be up to 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 10,000 times more potent than morphine – will become legal if Congress fails to act.

The DEA’s 2018 decision to temporarily schedule – that is, to make illegal – all fentanyl-related substances was a response to the extraordinary legal loophole exploited by drug traffickers. In April 2019, China also outlawed all fentanyl-related substances. This is extraordinary progress, with one caveat. Unlike China’s law, the United States’ has an expiration date.

On Feb. 6, 2020, the DEA’s temporary order expires, and all drugs seized by U.S. investigators over the past two years that have tested positive as fentanyl analogues will no longer be illegal. If Congress fails to pass the legislation it will have a dramatic impact not just on the prosecutors and law enforcement officers who spend their lives investigating and prosecuting drug dealers, but on communities already hard hit by the opioid epidemic, many of which are right here in California.

Despite the tireless efforts of law enforcement, California continues to be a main thoroughfare for fentanyl and fentanyl-like drugs arriving from China and Mexico. In 2019, federal law enforcement agents seized approximately three-quarters of a ton of fentanyl at the six ports of entry we share with Mexico and in all places in between.

That’s 20 percent more than in 2018. And our federal resources are not infinite; we need all the help we can get. Passing this legislation would provide invaluable support to us as prosecutors and the entire law enforcement community as we continue to combat the opioid crisis in California and throughout America.

 A number of organizations have voiced opposition to the proposed legislation, arguing that the bill does not “embrace public health approaches to the overdose crisis.” We agree that a comprehensive approach to the crisis is needed, and a permanent fentanyl analogue ban should be viewed as part of a holistic effort.

But time is running out. There is no doubt that drug traffickers are eagerly awaiting the temporary order’s expiration to start flooding our communities with these dangerous drugs. The passage of this legislation is quite literally a matter of life and death.

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Celebrity News

Former ‘InfoWars’ Host Alex Jones Arrested for DWI in Texas

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'InfoWars' Host Alex Jones Arrested for DWI in Texas

TEXAS (TMZ) — According to police docs, cops were called to Jones’ residence for a family disturbance. When they arrived, his wife claimed they had a verbal altercation that “was physical” earlier in the day. She allegedly told the officer Jones took off in his car and was possibly drinking.

Cops caught up with him shortly afterward — sometime after 10 PM Monday night — and pulled him over. The arrest report says the officer detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from Jones.

Jones allegedly admitted he drank a bottle of sake while he and his wife were at a sushi restaurant a couple hours earlier, and they got into an argument. Jones told the officer he walked home, but the argument continued there … so he left to go to another residence to get away from her.

According to the report … Jones demonstrated some impairment during field sobriety tests, such as swaying and losing his balance, but he did blow slightly below a .08 on the Intoxilyzer — twice.

It should be noted … it’s unclear who the “wife” is in the report. Jones divorced his previous wife in 2015, and as far as we know … he has not remarried.

Alex Jones has a fresh DWI case deep in the heart of Texas … the former “InfoWars” host was busted early Tuesday morning in the Austin-area.

Jones was booked around 12:30 AM … according to the Travis County Sheriff’s Department. He was back on the streets by 4 AM, after posting a $3,000 bond — and as you might expect, Jones is telling his own version of events.

He went on his “Alex Jones Show” podcast and said he blew under the legal limit of .08 … so he thinks the whole charge will go away. “InfoWars” is already floating a conspiracy theory, saying Jones was caught in a DWI sting … aimed at increasing the Sheriff’s Department’s number of arrests.

So far, the Sheriff’s Department isn’t saying what Jones’ BAC was when he was arrested. Worth noting that in Texas you can be arrested for DWI even if you’re under the limit IF the officer thinks your driving ability is impaired.

Jones has been charged with misdemeanor DWI.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)


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Cannabis

Prop 64: DA Announces Dismissals of 66K Marijuana Convictions

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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Code for America has announced that nearly 66,000 marijuana convictions eligible for relief under Proposition 64 will be dismissed as part of their cutting-edge partnership. 

Today’s action marks the completion of the five-county Clear My Record pilot to clear marijuana-related convictions eligible for relief under Proposition 64. The other counties in the pilot include San Francisco, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Contra Costa.

In total, these five pilots will help reduce or dismiss more than 85,000 Proposition 64 eligible convictions. “The dismissal of tens of thousands of old cannabis-related convictions in Los Angeles County will bring much-needed relief to communities of color that disproportionately suffered the unjust consequences of our nation’s drug laws,” Lacey said. “I am privileged to be part of a system dedicated to finding innovative solutions and implementing meaningful criminal justice reform that gives all people the support they need to build the life they deserve.”

“Today’s action marks the completion of our California Clear My Record pilot, through which we will have helped to dismiss and seal more than 85,000 marijuana convictions across the state,” said Evonne Silva, Code for America’s Senior Program Director of Criminal Justice. “This is a clear demonstration that automatic record clearance is possible at scale and can help to right the wrongs of the failed war on drugs. Looking forward, Code for America stands at the ready to help all California counties provide this much needed relief in advance of the July 1, 2020 deadline.” 

Prosecutors this week asked a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to dismiss 62,000 felony cannabis convictions for cases that date back to 1961.

The District Attorney’s Office also sought the dismissal of approximately 4,000 misdemeanor cannabis possession cases that included cases filed in 10 Los Angeles County cities: Los Angeles, Long Beach, Torrance, Pasadena, Inglewood, Burbank, Santa Monica, Hawthorne, Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach. 

Approximately 53,000 individuals will receive conviction relief through this partnership. Of those, approximately 32% are Black or African American, 20% are White, 45% are Latinx, and 3% are other or unknown.


Proposition 64 identifies three health and safety code sections that qualified for resentencing: cultivation of marijuana, possession for sale of marijuana and sales and/or transport of marijuana, all felonies. The law also includes dismissing possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor.

District Attorney Lacey used additional criteria to go beyond the parameters of the new law to ensure the greatest number of dismissals. Those expanded parameters include persons who are 50 years or older, haven’t had a felony conviction in the past 10 years or have successfully completed probation for cannabis convictions.


Based on this criteria, Code for America created a unique algorithm for the office in order to fast-track the identification of eligible convictions. This technology can analyze eligibility for thousands of convictions in seconds, alleviating the need for DA staff to go through state criminal records one by one to evaluate eligibility, saving time and significant resources. 

AB 1793 Implementation

In California, all county District Attorney’s Offices are required to implement AB 1793 by July 1, 2020. Earlier this year, Code for America launched its new Clear My Record Application and Implementation Blueprint, available at no cost and open source to all California counties.

These resources allow every District Attorneys’ Office to expedite and streamline review of Proposition 64 convictions. The Clear My Record Application allows District Attorneys to securely and accurately evaluate eligibility for convictions by reading and interpreting criminal history data from the California Department of Justice.

Code for America has received an overwhelming interest from counties in accessing these resources to carry out the law. Code for America stands ready to work with counties that have not yet used this technology to help them automate the record clearance process and provide relief as required by law.

Record Clearance for the Digital Age

The current record clearance process was not designed to reach everyone who is eligible. With the current petition-based process, each person seeking relief must petition the court to clear their records, but this is a time-consuming, expensive, and confusing process. It is no surprise, then, that only 3% of those eligible for relief under Proposition 64 have received it.

Code for America’s pilot partnerships have set the standard for the statewide implementation of AB 1793, which tasks prosecutors with affirmatively reviewing convictions eligible for dismissal or reduction under Proposition 64.

This novel approach also creates a blueprint for the future of record clearance for remedies beyond Proposition 64 – the development of policy and technology that expands, streamlines and automates the record clearance process at scale. Code for America has been making it easier for people to remove eligible convictions from their records through Clear my Record technology since 2016.

To find out if your record has been cleared

To find out if your record has been cleared, or for more information about this initiative, contact the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office by phone at (323) 760-6763 or visit http://pubdef.lacounty.gov. The Public Defender’s Office will reply to all inquiries.

About Code for America

Code for America believes that government must work for the people, and by the people, in the digital age, starting with the people who need it most. It builds digital services that enhance government capabilities, and helps others do the same across all levels of government. It organizes thousands of volunteers across nearly 80 chapters nationwide who improve government in their local communities. Their goal: a 21st century government that effectively and equitably serves all Americans.

Learn more at codeforamerica.org.

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Drugs and Alcohol

15 Conspirators Charged in LA Drug Trafficking Ring Indictment

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LOS ANGELES – Law enforcement announced Wednesday they have arrested 11 defendants charged in a federal grand jury indictment in the Central District of California, alleging they participated in a long-running drug trafficking operation that distributed kilograms of heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine from multiple locations in Los Angeles County, including a storefront in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of northeast Los Angeles.

The 20-count indictment charges a total of 15 defendants with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and alleges a series of acts in furtherance of the conspiracy between December 2015 and December 2019.

Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement seized approximately eight kilograms of cocaine, five kilograms of heroin, 10 kilograms of methamphetamine, 10 firearms, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and more than $200,000 in suspected drug proceeds.

The 11 defendants arrested are expected to make their initial court appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

Those arrested include Gabriel Ortega, a.k.a. “Nightowl,” 42, of Lynwood, alleged to be one of the organization’s ringleaders who allegedly directed narcotics distribution operations from his home in Lynwood and from a storefront he operated in Lincoln Heights.

Ortega sold nearly one pound of methamphetamine for $2,800 on two separate occasions at his Lincoln Heights storefront between December 2015 and February 2016, the indictment alleges.

Also arrested was Raul Sanchez, a.k.a. “Rawlo,” 39, of Alhambra, another of the organization’s alleged ringleaders, charged with being one of the ring’s primary distributors of narcotics.

On March 21, 2018, Sanchez allegedly coordinated the delivery of 4.9 kilograms (10.8 pounds) of cocaine, 3.9 kilograms (8.6 pounds) of heroin, and 7 kilograms (15.4 pounds) of methamphetamine to a storage facility in Alhambra. He also allegedly possessed three unregistered “ghost guns,” one .45-caliber Glock pistol, and ammunition at the Alhambra location.

In addition to the conspiracy charge, Ortega and Sanchez each face individual charges of knowingly and intentionally possessing with intent to distribute controlled substances. Sanchez, who previously was convicted in Los Angeles Superior Court of four separate drug possession charges, also has been charged with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.

If convicted on all counts, the defendants would face a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison and mandatory minimum sentences of at least 10 years in federal prison. An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bruce K. Riordan of the Violent and Organized Crime Section.

The Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Group 51 and the Los Angeles Police Department investigated this matter. HIDTA Group 51 is comprised of members of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and the LAPD.

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