11Philadelphia Prep School Grads Busted in 'Main Line' Drug Operation — Sting Uncovers Drugs, Cash, and Guns
Two graduates from a $35,000-per-year Philadelphia prep school have been indicted in a drug sting. Dubbed the "Main Line Takeover Project," a four-month investigation culminated in the leaders' arrest along with nine others.
Neil K. Scott, 25, and Timothy R. Brooks, 18, decided to drop out of college and focus their attention on dealing drugs, moving pounds of marijuana and other narcotics each week. Both had played lacrosse at the Haverford School, a prep school in the Philadelphia suburbs that comes with a price tag equal to an Ivy League.
The would-be drug kingpins were arraigned Monday.
“They were using very traditional business principles,” Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said at a press conference. “To take those skills and turn it into this kind of illegal enterprise is very distressing.”
Scott allegedly started the drug ring after working at a San Diego medical marijuana dispensary. He decided to sell high-quality marijuana across the country because it “would sell very well on the Main Line because everyone between 15 and 55 loves good weed,” according to an affidavit.
He told cops he made at least $1,000 a week just from pushing weed.
Scott and Brooks got large marijuana shipments at Scott’s Haverford apartment, which they then funneled to small-time dealers at five local high schools and three colleges, along with cocaine, hash oil, and ecstasy, drugs that spread to other schools in the Philadelphia area.
The four-month investigation ended with a search in which authorities seized pounds of drugs as well as $11,000 in cash and a loaded AR-15 assault rifle, among other weapons.
Scott was arrested in February. He is sitting in jail on $1 million bail.
“Parents across our community have chosen to send their children to these schools and colleges because they are some of the finest institutions of learning in the United States,” Ferman said. “These drug dealers, motivated by their own greed, sought to create a network to push poison into our education institutions and take over drug distribution on the Main Line. While parents sought to provide education to their kids, these defendants sought to use schools to create drug addicts.”
Sources: New York Daily News
A college student from Wyoming jumped off a fourth-floor hotel balcony to his death in a fit of paranoia after eating a pot-laced cookie.
19-year-old Levy Thamba Pongi ate a little more than an entire lemon poppy seed pot cookie, which his girlfriend had bought legally at a marijuana store in downtown Denver, the Associated Press reports. The clerk told her to cut each cookie into sixth and eat it piece by piece, but Thamba Pongi consumed the whole thing when he said he didn’t feel anything after 30 minutes.
Thamba Pongi was with his girlfriend and two other friends in a Holiday Inn hotel room.
15 to 30 minutes later he began to act strangely, shaking, screaming, throwing things, and speaking erratically in French.
"'This is a sign from God that this has happened, that I can't control myself,'" he told his friends, according to the reports. "'It's not because of the weed.'"
Thamba Pongi broke free of his friends, who tried to restrain him, and jumped off the balcony four floors to the lobby below.
"Marijuana intoxication is a significant contributing factor" in the man’s death, the autopsy report states.
The group of friends had traveled from Northwest College in Powell, Wyo. over spring break specifically to enjoy marijuana. They took no other drugs during their trip, they said.
Denver police confiscated the other cookies from the pot shop and tested them for THC. They found that the levels of the psychoactive ingredient were within the state’s required limits, according to the serving size listed on the wrapper. The wrapper also contained a warning: "this marijuana product has not been tested for contaminants or potency.”
One of the victim's friends got sick to his stomach after eating his share, while another felt no negative effects.
“This is a very atypical reaction to marijuana,” said Dr. Scott Bentz, medical director of the emergency department at Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center, told ABC7. “Marijuana typically, whether it’s inhaled or eaten, does not typically affect impulse control in this way.”
Thamba Pongi, a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, didn’t have any mental health issues or aggressive tendencies, those close to him say.
The police will not be pressing charges against 23-year-old Bessie Gondwe, Thamba Pongi’s girlfriend, who was the only one of legal age to purchase the pot cookie, according to the Denver Post.
As legal marijuana, both medicinal and recreational, starts to gain acceptance across the country, it’s not surprising that scientists are putting the microscope to the effects of cannabis use. A new study on casual marijuana use found some disappointing results for the optimistic pot supporter: casual use of marijuana causes distinct abnormalities in the brain.
Researchers at Northwestern University were inspired to examine the effects of cannabis on the brain in young adults who use it once or twice a week. Dr. Hans Breiter, the study’s co-senior author, said that his lab had previously linked heavy pot use to changes in the brain that resembled those of patients with schizophrenia. He and his team wanted to see if there were also abnormalities with less frequent use.
The study, to be published today in the Journal of Neuroscience, found structural changes in two main centers of the brain: those responsible for working memory and motivation.
“There were abnormalities in their working memory, which is fundamental to everything you do,” Breiter told FoxNews.com. “When you make judgments or decisions, plan things, do mathematics – anything you do always involves working memory. It’s one of the core fundamental aspects of our brains that we use every day. So given those findings, we decided we need to look at casual, recreational use.”
The MRIs also revealed that the brain regions responsible for emotions, decision making, and motivation—the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala— were affected in density, volume, and shape in casual marijuana users.
Breiter sees a need for further investigation of marijuana’s effects on patients over time.
“My worry is we haven’t studied this compound and here we are looking to change legislation on it,” Breiter said.
The Northwestern research, however, is just the beginning. The team analyzed 20 users between the ages of 18 and 25, compared to 20 controls subjects— a small pool.
“This study is just a beginning pilot study, but at the same time, the results that came out are the same as a canary in a coal mine,” Breiter said. “...The interaction of marijuana with brain development could be a significant problem.”
A 69-year-old man is filing a federal lawsuit against an Idaho State Trooper who, claiming that a “smell” constituted probable cause, stopped him and searched his car for marijuana — and then found none.
Caught on video, Trooper Justin Klitch followed Darien Roseen's truck to a “Welcome to Idaho” rest stop.
"Why'd you pull in here so rapidly?" Klitch asked Roseen.
"Uh, I had to go to the bathroom," Roseen responded.
"You didn't have to go to the bathroom before you saw me," the officer said.
"That's true — no, I did have to,” Roseen responded.
The trooper then slammed the driver with a battery of accusations.
"I'm telling you, you pulled in here to avoid me, that's exactly what you did," the trooper said. "I mean, you almost hit the curb, you almost ran off the road. You definitely didn't want me around you for some reason … Why are your eyes glassy today?"
The cop then asked Roseen when he last used marijuana. When Roseen said he’s never used it, Klitch asked if he can search the car.
"Well, yeah, if I have a choice, I can say no, I don't want you to search it,” Roseen responded.
"Why are you so worried about me if you're not violating any laws of the state or this country — why are you so concerned about me?" the officer asked.
"Because I want to get on the road and just get home,” Roseen answered.
As the exchange progressed, the officer claimed that he was “going to find whatever it is.” He convinced the driver to unload the bed of his truck, which was full of art supplies and presents from his daughter’s baby shower.
Klitch then claimed to smell marijuana from the compartment underneath the truck bed.
"Why do I smell marijuana coming out of there, sir?" he asked.
"You don't," Roseen responded.
"Well, take a smell," the trooper said.
"Nothing of the sort,” Roseen said.
Claiming that the odor gave him “probable cause” to search the vehicle, Roseen was detained for hours at Payette County Jail while an officer searched the car — finding nothing by way of illicit drugs.
The Idaho State Police said in a statement last week that it is conducting an internal investigation.
"We would like to assure the citizens of Idaho and the visitors to our state that the Idaho State Police holds all of its employees to a high standard which includes following the Constitution of the United States and the laws and constitution of the state of Idaho," the agency said.
An Illinois woman is under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency for buying organic fertilizer for her hibiscus plant.
According to Shorewood Patch, agents stormed the Shorewood home of 46-year-old Angela Kirking and raided her garage after noticing her shopping at an indoor garden center they’d been staking out. Four DEA agents and five Shorewood police officers invaded at 5 a.m. on Oct. 11, while Kirking was in bed asleep with her terrier.
"They had a gun pointed at me when they said, 'Are there any illegal substances in your house?'" Kirking recalled.
Police claimed there were 9.3 grams of marijuana in Kirking’s “art room.” Kirking does face painting at local art fairs.
The agency had been investigating Kirking for a month, searching her garbage and comparing her electric bill to her neighbor’s. They found and seized a “plant portion” from her patio, in addition to the “marijuana,” as well as three glass pipes and a bag, three scales, two books on how to grow marijuana, a computer, and a zip drive.
Kirking's attorney, Jeff Tomczak, is fighting to get the case thrown out, arguing there was no probable cause for the search, which resulted only in a pair of misdemeanor charges.
"The lady comes under investigation simply because she shopped at a particular store," Tomczak said during a Friday hearing.
In a complaint for a search warrant, a DEA agent wrote that he was staking out the store, Midwest Hydroganics, because previous surveillance there "led to the arrests of subjects for production of cannabis sativa plants and possession of cannabis."
Kirking became a target when she was spied leaving with “a green plastic bag containing unknown items."
Will County Judge Bennett Braun will decide whether to throw out the case later this month. He already expressed doubt for the agent’s argument that the fact that Kirking’s electric bill was higher than her neighbors indicated that she was growing weed. The judge interjected that the electric company informed him of his own higher-than-average bills.
Kirking said she had purchased organic fertilizer for her hibiscus plant, whose petals she eats. She says she’ll continue to shop at Midwest Hydroganics.
"I'd love to," she said. "I'd love to send all my friends there to see how far they take this.
Source: Shorewood Patch
Saira Munoz really wanted a prom dress. So much that she may have sacrificed her life in the United States.
The 19-year-old from Yuba City, Calif., was booked on felony drug charges for organizing a pot brownie bake sale, the Huffington Post reports. She was sentenced to four years of probation and nine days of jail.
The charge would not have been so serious had Munoz, who was 18 at the time, not recruited a minor to help her with the sale.
Things got even worse when a student who ate one of the brownies got so ill that he had to be hospitalized.
Munoz came to the U.S. with temporary permission in 2000, according to CBS Sacramento. Because she now has a felony charge, she’s now on the radar of federal immigration authorities. They may not choose to act on Munoz’ case, but if they decide that her status is illegal, she would be deported and require legal permission to reenter the country — unlikely to be granted for a registered drug offender.
Her friends from River Valley High School think the deportation is uncalled for.
“It’s too much trouble to deport somebody for that,” student James Steerstold FOX40.
“She should not be deported for making weed brownies,” student Dursimrim Kalar said. "I know lots of students who do that."
“No, there’s people that deserve to be deported, and she just wasn’t one of them,” said friend Carlos Robles. “There’s people that do way worse.”
“People make mistakes,” Robles remarked.
It’s natural to complain when a business sells you a shoddy product. But when that product is illegal, you might be out of luck. East Texas police arrested a woman who called dispatchers to complain that a dealer had sold her poor-quality marijuana.
37-year-old Evelyn Hamilton was arrested on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia after she called Lufkin police Monday, irked that her $40 had bought her only “seeds and residue.”
Hamilton had first tried to take her complaint to the dealer’s family, but they wouldn’t budge. So she turned to the law.
A cop went to her home to hear her complaint, says Lufkin Police Sgt. David Casper. When he got wind of what the complaint concerned, he asked Hamilton if she still had the substandard weed. Hamilton pulled a small baggie of pot out of her bra.
Hamilton was arrested, and her bail was set at $500.
According to a new White House-commissioned report, the number of chronic marijuana users increased by 84.3 percent between 2000 and 2010.
Defined as those who using the drug on four or more days in the past month, the report, conducted by the RAND corporation, found a sharp spike in chronic pot use in the 10-year period, according to Cybercast News Service.
“In January 2012, the U.S. White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) asked RAND to generate national estimates of the total number of users, total expenditures, and total consumption for four illicit drugs from 2000 to 2010: cocaine (including crack), heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine (or meth),” the report explains.
Called What America’s Users Spend on Illicit Drugs: 2000-2010, the report states that chronic marijuana users climbed from 7,000,000 in 2000 and to a high of 12,900,000 in 2010.
The numbers indicate a number of dips and spikes in marijuana use during that decade, but a general upward trend and a steady rise from 2007-2010. RAND also found an increase in users who do the drug weekly, more than weekly, or daily.
The report asked respondents a new question about “blunt use,” finding that some people don’t put “blunt” and “marijuana” use in the same category.
“The counts of marijuana users (and, later, marijuana-use days) include not only those who indicate directly that they have used marijuana, but also a modest number who deny using ‘marijuana’ when asked about it in the standard battery of questions but who nonetheless do indicate later in the survey that they have used blunts, a particular form of marijuana use,” says the report.
And in a measure of the amount of pot used and the money spent on it, the report concluded that 4,734 metric tons of pot were used in 2010, totaling $40.8—up from 3,024 metric tons and $21.6 billion in 2000.
Sources: Cybercast News Service
A series of Arizona court rulings compelling Yuma County police to return medical marijuana to a person who was allowed to possess it in another state was not overturned by the Supreme Court.
California resident Valerie Okun was stopped by Border Patrol agents at an Arizona checkpoint in 2011. They found and confiscated marijuana in her car, along with hashish and drug paraphernalia.
Okun has a medical marijuana prescription in California, leading the marijuana possession charges levied against her to be dropped in court.
Several Arizona courts ruled that the police who took the marijuana should give it back. Yuma County cops argued that since the drug is illegal under federal law, it would be a crime to return it. They refused to comply despite the fact that Arizona’s medical marijuana law allows people with out-of-state authorizations to keep their cannabis.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the last such case, a January ruling by the Arizona Court of Appeals.
The decision — or lack of one — is expected to set a positive precedent for the 43,000 medical marijuana users in Arizona, as well as their caregivers who help administer the cannabis.
But the Supreme Court did not go so far as to confront the conflict between the growing number of state medical marijuana legalizations and the fact that it is still illegal on the federal level.
“To me, that is the elephant in the room,” said Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, who serves on the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys Advisory Council.
A Norfolk, Va. judge decided that police can pull over drivers whose cars smell of marijuana, even when they are driving around with their windows up.
“I don’t find it inherently incredible,” said Circuit Judge Everett Martin before making his ruling Thursday. “I find it quite believable.”
The judge was trying a case in which a man was arrested after being stopped for precisely that reason, the Virginian-Pilot reports. Officer Robert Frenier testified that he was on duty last December when he smelled pot through his patrol car’s vents. The smell seemed to be emanating from the Dodge Neon in front of them, he and the other two officers in the car surmised.
They followed the offending car four blocks at a distance of car length or two before pulling the driver over.
“I wanted to make sure it was coming from where I thought,” Frenier explained in court.
One of the driver’s brake lights was also out, but Frenier said he did not mention it in his report and wasn’t certain which one was out. It was the pot smell, he said, that prompted the stop.
The cops searched the vehicle and found no marijuana. The driver admitted to police that he had previously smoked pot in the car, Frenier said on the stand.
But officers did charge backseat passenger Deontae Poole, 25, with illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon after finding a handgun in her purse.
Poole’s attorney, S.W. Dawson, argued that there was no plausible way that the officers could have smelled pot through the vents of their patrol car. If they had pulled the vehicle over because of the brake light and smelled marijuana, that could have prompted a search, he said.
“If the court finds what happened here to be reasonable, I can’t imagine what it wouldn’t find reasonable,” Dawson said.
But Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Alexandra Vakos argued the opposite. "The smell alone gave them reasonable suspicion,” she said. She added that the car’s occupants could have finished smoking the pot and gotten rid of the evidence.
A jury trial is scheduled for June 5.