Reading from the Voice Media empire: After more than two years, the prosecution of a massive federal drug investigation dubbed Operation Black Rhino is nearly over, thanks to the conviction of Jorge Loya-Ramirez, a Mexican citizen living in Denver who allegedly used a taco truck as cover to deal nearly 200 pounds of methamphetamine and cocaine in kilogram quantities. And he wasn’t the only Black Rhino target to earn punishment. The U.S. Attorney’s Office reveals that of the 38 others named in one of four federal grand jury indictments related to the inquiry, only one had his case dismissed. Westword has the story.
Reading from the Voice Media empire: Keith Hammock has been found guilty of second-degree murder and more for killing one teenager and wounding another last October after they’d jumped a fence into his back yard, where he was growing marijuana. The verdict demonstrates defense-of-property laws, especially when it comes to pot grows deemed illegal. Westword has the story.
Reading from the Voice Media empire: Thirteen people associated with Hoppz’ Cropz stores in Colorado Springs, including co-owners Joseph Hopper, also known as “Joey Hops,” and Dara Wheatley, nicknamed “Boss Lady,” have been indicted on charges that they illegally distributed nearly 200 pounds of marijuana in a variation on the sort of “free” pot giveaway schemes that date back to the days before and just after the launch of legal recreational cannabis sales in the state. Westword has the story.
Reading from the Voice Media empire: George Brauchler, who prosecuted James Holmes for the 2012 theater shooting that killed twelve people and injured seventy others, is running for governor in 2018 — and he’s using Shawn Geerdes’s conviction for murdering Jason Dosa nearly three years ago as an opportunity to criticize legal pot, even though the marijuana grow in which the two partnered was illegal. Westword has the story.
Reading from the Voice Media empire: Samuel Brunelus, a 23-year-old from Florida, has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and more in relation to the deaths of two men to whom he allegedly provided heroin laced with carfentanil, an extremely powerful synthetic opioid best known as an elephant tranquilizer. Westword has the story.
For years, narcotics field tests have been notorious for sending innocent people to jail. The cheap, roadside tests have misconstrued everything from Jolly Ranchers for meth to Pop-Tart crumbs for crack cocaine. In December, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office trumpeted the arrest of 24-year-old Ross Lebeau for felony meth possession — only for the substance, stuffed inside a black sock in his trunk, to turn out to be cat litter. His dad had used the cat-litter-sock as a trick to defog the windows.
“Building your reputation takes years,” Lebeau told the Houston Press in January. “One false positive can ruin all of that.”
Now, however, in a departure from standard police practice across the nation, Houston and Harris County law enforcement agencies will permanently stop using the narcotics field tests, effective immediately.
Reading from the Voice Media empire: This year marks a decade since the still-unsolved murder of 420 Rally founder and groundbreaking marijuana activist Ken Gorman, and the mere mention of his name to friends and loved ones triggers both deep emotion over his loss and anger that his killer or killers have yet to be held responsible for their actions. Westword has the story.
Reading from the Voice Media empire: This week, police found approximately 31 pounds of marijuana in an open space area, not far from where three people were camping in violation of local ordinances. But none of them were hit with charges related to the pot, because officers couldn’t figure out to whom it belonged. Westword has the story.