Browsing: Drugs

8673156388_9d34806c0e_z-1Miranda Nelson/Flickr

The corporal who was fired for wrongfully destroying thousands of pounds of evidence sat at the same tiny desk that had been in the Harris County Precinct 4 property room for 20 years. The printer had been broken for months. An old prisoner cell that had been converted to a gun storage room was full of rifles and shotguns stacked haphazardly on top of each other, and live ammunition was tucked away in disorganized boxes shared with handguns. Boxes marked “drugs” were stacked eight feet high, blocking the passageway down the room’s back aisles.

For 14 years, this was the workspace of Corporal Chris Hess, who was fired this spring after Precinct 4 superiors discovered he had destroyed about 21,000 pieces of evidence since 2007 and an unknown amount more since 2002 without following protocol, putting thousands of cases in jeopardy. Constable Mark Herman previously told reporters this scandal dated back only nine years, but an Internal Affairs Division report obtained by the Houston Press this week suggests the improper evidence destruction began earlier and was wider in scope.

 

 

 

 

 

fullsizerender_1_Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson laid bare the havoc a missing evidence scandal in Precinct 4 has caused within her office: 142 dismissed criminal cases to date, a list that grows longer each week.

“It’s so critical that this gets under control,” Anderson said at a Friday morning news conference, adding that she was not exaggerating in stating her attorneys have so far spent hundreds of hours trying to determine which cases to proceed with and which must be tossed.

Anderson said as many as 21,500 individual pieces of evidence may be missing.

houston-press-feat-image-huffing-shutterstockShutterstock/Photo Illustration by Monica Fuentes

Ever since he was a kid, Steven Allen liked to take things apart, see how they worked and put them back together again. “He made a computer for his little brother, just by spare parts that people threw out, one year for Christmas,” recalls Nellie Hencerling, his mom. He was a good kid, she says. Sure, he’d had issues with drugs back when he lived in their hometown of Victoria, but after he moved to Houston in 2012, he seemed to put those behind him. He was married, with a young son, a steady job and a home of his own.

Then, over just a few days in February 2014, Allen’s life unraveled completely.

Read on in the Houston Press on how inhalants have torn lives apart.

4323542532_ebe1ac8640_zMichael Allen Smith/Flickr

Thanks to the error of one Harris County Precinct 4 deputy, an untold number of accused drug offenders might be off the hook.

In January, Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said his office discovered that the deputy, whom Herman did not name, accidentally threw away a large amount of drug evidence while cleaning out the property storage room. Herman said the property room was so overfilled with years’ worth of evidence that “you could barely close the door” — so he tasked several deputies with taking inventory and finding out what could be legally thrown out. “We had four or five people back there doing the right thing—and then we had this one person who evidently did his own thing.”

Since then, three cases have been dismissed as a result.

 

kush_slideshowedit_002Sypho Turner is only 56 years old, but when he sits on the trash-strewn pavement below the Southwest Freeway overpass near the Wheeler Metro Station in Midtown, the low light deepens his cracked skin, turns his toothless smile into a black pit and makes his battered face look like a well-worn catcher’s mitt. He’d pass for at least a few decades older, perhaps even for a corpse. Years of smoking crack cocaine will do that to a man. But the fresh bruises and scabs on his arms and head — “battle scars,” as Sypho excitedly describes them — aren’t from crack. In fact, Sypho says, he hasn’t smoked crack or even weed in a few years. His scars are instead from kush, the new drug of choice among Houston’s homeless.

Kush gets Sypho higher than he’s ever been. He says he practically floats. But he has to be careful — if he doesn’t eat, kush ties his stomach into knots and makes him vomit. Sometimes he blacks out and hallucinates, or feels things crawling on him. He has keeled over on the spot after smoking kush, smacking his head on the unforgiving concrete. He’s woken up in the middle of the street after being hit by a car, and found himself in Bellaire or Acres Homes without the slightest idea how he got there. One time, when he was being transported to Ben Taub Hospital after a bad reaction to kush, he was so uncontrollably violent that he “went berserk” and tried to fight everyone in the ambulance. They had to tie him down and sedate him. “It feels like you’re dying,” Sypho says. “But it’s the best high I’ve ever had. When you wake up, it’s back to normal. You just want more.”

Read the rest of the feature here.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get high until our teeth fall out.

If that sounds like your kind of party, then we have a story for you. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say they recently found methamphetamine embedded in a religious candle shipped from Mexico.

The candle, retrieved at an Ontario air cargo facility, was found in a package that also included a boy’s suit, CPB officials said. Inspection agents were suspicious after determining that the candle found in the package, which had been mailed to Mills Spring, North Carolina, was “unusually heavy.”

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