WBEZ | drugs http://www.wbez.org/tags/drugs Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago is hub for heroin in the Midwest http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-hub-heroin-midwest-109373 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rw1.jpg" title="Federal prosecutors say Chicagoans were dealing heroin on streets like this in Waterloo, Iowa. (WBEZ/Rob Wildeboer)" /></div></div></div><p>There have been times in her life when Connie Johnson was homeless along with her six children. &ldquo;Going to relatives&rsquo; house, day in day out, they get tired of you,&rdquo; Johnson says in a recent interview. &nbsp;We&rsquo;re in the kitchen of her second floor apartment on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side. &ldquo;Everyone extend their hand but when you come in, it&rsquo;s, the story changes, welcome ran out kind of fast, you know?&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Then about eight years ago, she heard from a niece living in Waterloo, Iowa, a 5-hour drive from Chicago. &ldquo;She was saying that you can get work there, so, we all moved down there and everybody that went got work: my daughter, my sons, my husband.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>It was a hopeful start and things were good there, for a while anyway.&nbsp;</p><p>Johnson walks from the kitchen past the bathroom to the dining room (her apartment is a typical layout for a Chicago 2-flat.) Her bedroom is just off the dining room and on the windowsill she keeps a plaque. It was awarded to her husband Lusta and is a reminder of those good times in Iowa.</p><p>&ldquo;This is the plaque from Tyson that Lusta had got and it says &lsquo;for five years service,&rsquo; but he actually worked there about seven years,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Tyson is Tyson Foods, which makes things like Asian chicken thighs and honey chicken tenders. That&rsquo;s where her husband Lusta found work in Iowa. Johnson keeps the plaque in plastic. The Tyson logo and the brass plate with her husband&rsquo;s name are pristine. Johnson tells me it &ldquo;shows that he was doing something, that he was headed to doing the right thing, you know?&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>But things went sideways. Her husband is addicted to heroin, has been since the late 70s. She has also struggled with addiction, as have other members of the family. In Iowa, in addition to working new jobs at Tyson, they bought and sold heroin. Now Johnson&rsquo;s son is doing 15 years federal time. Her sister-in-law, 15 years federal time. Her nephew is doing life and her husband Lusta is facing trial and likely a similar fate.</p><p><strong>The size of a pencil eraser</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Lusta Johnson distributed heroin,&rdquo; says federal prosecutor Lisa Williams in an interview at the new glass-and-stone federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Williams has indicted much of the Johnson family and knows their stories well.</p><p>&ldquo;They all long before they came to Waterloo had heroin habits. &nbsp;And so when they got to Waterloo the heroin habit didn&rsquo;t go away just by crossing the state line and so they found themselves back into distributing heroin, obtaining it in Chicago and using it as well,&rdquo; Williams says.&nbsp;</p><p>In the Johnson case Williams says they would bring back heroin in amounts of 10, 15, sometimes 20 or 30 grams. To get an idea of what that looks like, Williams says one gram of heroin is about the size of a pencil eraser. &ldquo;And so you would take 30 of those eraser tops and that would be 30 grams. It would fit in your palm about so it&rsquo;s not a huge quantity but it&rsquo;s still a significant quantity,&rdquo; said Williams.</p><p>It&rsquo;s also profitable. Williams says a gram goes for about $100 in Chicago; a four- or five-hour drive to Iowa doubles its value. So 30 grams would be $3,000 in Chicago and $6,000 in Iowa. But there&rsquo;s more.</p><p>Williams says you can cut the heroin and mix it with another substance like sleeping pills. &ldquo;So not only do you double your money, but you&rsquo;re tripling your quantity and so that&rsquo;s how you can really start to make a profit on it.&rdquo;</p><p>Williams says that $3,000 of heroin in Chicago can be worth $12,000 or $18,000 in Iowa.</p><p>In addition to the Johnson case, Williams is prosecuting other Chicagoans who moved out to Iowa and sold heroin, 36 cases in all right now. And there are others.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/450-iowa-3.jpg" style="float: left; height: 201px; width: 300px;" title="The apartment complex where prosecutors say Chicagoans had moved to and were dealing heroin out of. (WBEZ/Rob Wildeboer)" /><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/450-iowa-2.jpg" style="float: left; height: 201px; width: 300px;" title="The Sherwood Court apartment complex in Waterloo, Iowa dead ends into a cemetery, making surveillance difficult, according to a DEA investigator’s Court testimony. (WBEZ/Rob Wildeboer)" /></div></div></div><p><strong>Heroin sales not so blatant in Iowa</strong></p><p>Sergeant Dave Dostal of the Cedar Rapids police department stands on the curb in an older neighborhood in Cedar Rapids close to the central part of the city. The houses look like the houses in many other Midwestern towns, foursquare homes that could be beautiful but many of them are run down. Dostal points to a house with an appliance sitting in the front yard and says two guys from Chicago moved there and started selling heroin, and cars would be driving up all day. &ldquo;Classic drug trafficking signs, you know, short term traffic,&rdquo; says Dostal.</p><p>Cedar Rapids is not like Chicago where guys are standing on the corners. Here, you need to know someone. Dostal says police made some buys by calling the dealers on cell phones and then meeting them, sometimes at a Laundromat just across the street.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;d set up surveillance and photograph as the individuals would come out of this house, walk over, transaction would be completed and then that individual would walk back to this place,&rdquo; Dostal says as he points between the house and the Laundromat.</p><p>But Dostal didn&rsquo;t arrest them for making small individual sales. He was putting together a larger case. &ldquo;What happens is, if they&rsquo;re selling out of one specific house and your surveillance is done long enough and you get probable cause for a search warrant, you&rsquo;re going to get them and all their product and maybe money,&rdquo; he says. That means more serious charges and heavier time.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>Dostal says the surveillance of this house was part of a case that led to federal charges for 11 more people bringing heroin from Chicago.</p><p><strong>Cedar Rapids the end of the line</strong></p><p>Dostal says Cedar Rapids isn&rsquo;t a drug hub like Chicago. No one&rsquo;s moving heroin through Cedar Rapids, it&rsquo;s the end of the line.&nbsp;According to the DEA in Cedar Rapids, there have been 200 heroin overdoses in Northeastern Iowa since 2007, and 50 of those overdoses resulted in death.&nbsp;One of those people was Jon Jelinek&rsquo;s 22-year-old son Sam.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/450-iowa-1.jpg" style="float: right; height: 201px; width: 300px;" title="Jon Jelinek standing in front of the bedroom where he found his son dead of a heroin overdose. (WBEZ/Rob Wildeboer)" /></div></div><p>Jelinek learned about his son&rsquo;s heroin addiction when Sam was arrested once. Jelinek helped him get clean and stuck with him through a relapse and an overdose. And they talked. Sam told him his heroin was being brought into Cedar Rapids by two cousins from Chicago.</p><p>On March 22 of this year Sam didn&rsquo;t show up for work. He worked at the restaurant Jelinek owns and Jelinek called him. &ldquo;Didn&rsquo;t get any call back. &nbsp;Had lunch and then about 1:30 felt something in my stomach saying something ain&rsquo;t right so I jumped in my truck, and I knew all the way out here, I knew he had overdosed,&rdquo; Jelinek says.</p><p>Sam&rsquo;s room was locked so Jelinek kicked in the door. &ldquo;I found him kneeling on his knees, with his head in his pillow, like he was trying to get up out of bed, the needle was still in between his fingers,&rdquo; said Jelinek.&nbsp;</p><p>Jelinek walks through the foyer of the house where his son died, down a couple steps to the family room. The door to Sam&rsquo;s bedroom is in the corner. He goes to the door and pushes it open. &ldquo;This is the first time I&rsquo;ve been back in here since.&rdquo;</p><p>Jelinek looks down and sees a belt on the floor and picks it up. &ldquo;This is his tourniquet. They put it just like you see on T.V. &nbsp;Put it around, bite it and pull it, so they get that vein sticking out.&rdquo; He pauses, silent. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just sad that it come to that,&rdquo;&nbsp;he finally says.</p><p>Jelinek blames the dealers. He says his son was trying to get clean, but because dealing in Cedar Rapids is all done by cell phone the dealers had Sam&rsquo;s number and they texted him that they had a new shipment in. It must have been too much to resist.</p><p><strong>Dealers often users and victims too</strong></p><p>Back on the West Side of Chicago, in her second floor apartment, Connie Johnson weeps in her kitchen. She weeps because much of her family is going to be in federal prison for many years for dealing heroin. But she also weeps because of all the harm heroin has done to her and her husband; there have been decades of addiction, poverty and homelessness. She says heroin is an ugly thing. And I ask her, if the authorities don&rsquo;t lock up the people dealing, people like her son and husband, what should they do to stop this ugly drug that kills people and ruins lives?</p><p>Through tears she says she wishes she knew the answer.</p><p><em>The Chicago Reader&rsquo;s Mick Dumke contributed reporting for this story.</em></p></p> Mon, 16 Dec 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-hub-heroin-midwest-109373 The movie that brought Naperville face to face with its teens' drug use http://www.wbez.org/news/movie-brought-naperville-face-face-its-teens-drug-use-109332 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jeff%20Cagle.1_0.jpg" title="Kelly McCutcheon and Jack Kapson (Jeff Cagle)" /></div></div><p>During the 2011-2012 school year, three students from one public high school in west suburban Naperville died from drugs. Kelly McCutcheon was a senior at Neuqua Valley High School at the time, and she started asking her classmates questions about their drug use. The project turned into a documentary that stunned the well-to-do, family-focused community.</p><p>Kelly had enlisted a high school junior, Jack Kapson, &nbsp;to help with sound recording, and together they videotaped more than 20 students talking about their experiences using heroin and other drugs.</p><p>Their project was filmed starkly and informally in backyards and bedrooms and cars. The filmmakers kept the footage away from parents, teachers and police. Kelly and Jack declined to be part of this story, but they gave me permission to use any part of their movie and quote from students they interviewed.</p><p><strong>Library agrees to host Naperville&rsquo;s first look&nbsp;</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/95L 400.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Naperville's 95th Street Library hosted the screening (Bill Healy)" /></div><p>Kelly and Jack asked Naperville&rsquo;s 95th Street Public Library to host the first screening of the film, which they called, &ldquo;Neuqua on Drugs.&quot;</p><p>John Spears directed all of Naperville&rsquo;s public libraries at the time. &ldquo;The filmmakers were working on it up till the very end,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And that was one thing we were nervous about, because we hadn&rsquo;t seen it either. Given all the potential legal ramifications of showing this, we were really putting a lot of trust in two high school students.&rdquo;</p><p>Library officials agreed to two showings on Wednesday evening, May 30, 2012. Advertising went out, and soon after, irate parents started calling..</p><p>Spears, the library director, remembers one phone call in particular. He received it at his desk the day before the scheduled screening. It was a parent on the other end, telling Spears, &ldquo;You cannot show this movie. It&rsquo;s going to be the destruction of my&hellip;. it&rsquo;s just&hellip;. We will sue.&rdquo;</p><p>The library decided to go forward anyway.</p><p><strong>The screening</strong></p><p>The evening of the first screening, adults and teenagers filed into the library auditorium and people waited outside for the second showing.</p><p>&ldquo;There were many, many glitches that night,&rdquo; said Denise Crosby, a longtime columnist with the Sun-Times suburban papers, including the Naperville Sun. &ldquo;There were people gathered outside waiting for the next session and there were people inside for this session and there was a long delay. But [the audience was] there for the long haul&hellip;. They wanted to see it.&rdquo;</p><p>Among the hundreds of people who came to the library that night were the principal from Neuqua Valley High School, a counselor from a nearby middle school, and a reporter from the local television station. Managers from Naperville&rsquo;s other libraries came in to deal with the overflow crowd.</p><p>The young filmmakers had altered the &nbsp;voices of some speakers they videotaped, &nbsp;and a few kids in the film tried to mask their faces. But most participants were fully visible. And, according to accounts from people who were there, &nbsp;many of the participants were seated in the audience.</p><p>&ldquo;When it finally did get started,&rdquo; Denise Crosby said, &ldquo;there wasn&rsquo;t one person that was not glued to that documentary. There wasn&rsquo;t sound being made at all.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jeff Cagle.5_0.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Jack Kapson waits for video to render during an hour-long delay before the first screening (Jeff Cagle)" /></div></div></div><p><strong>The kind of thing parents heard</strong></p><p>&ldquo;The first time I tried heroin... I&rsquo;d probably say sometime during my sophomore year.&rdquo;</p><div>&ldquo;They were like snorting it and I snorted like some Adderall and they were like if you can snort Adderall you can snort this. It&rsquo;s basically like the same thing&hellip;. You&rsquo;re trying to be like happy and just like not worry about anything but you are like stressing about all these little things, and when you get high that just goes away so you can just like chill.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s gives you a really strange comfortable feeling. A feeling that everything around you is okay. It&rsquo;s kind of like a false sense of security.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Denise Crosby, the newspaper columnist, &nbsp;says that for the two kids who made the film, &nbsp;&ldquo;This really was them screaming at the community: Look. Stop. Putting your head in the sand.&rdquo;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jeff Cagle.4_0.jpg" style="float: right;" title="(Jeff Cagle)" /></div></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>One mother&rsquo;s experience</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For another woman in the audience that night, the film was particularly painful.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Amy Miller&rsquo;s daughter Megan had died four months earlier from heroin. Megan was eighteen and a student at Neuqua when she died. The filmmakers had contacted Amy Miller beforehand to let her know that some of their interviews included stories about Megan.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And still, Miller says she wasn&rsquo;t prepared for what happened when a girl in the film talked about going to see &ldquo;Alice in Wonderland:&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" jeff="" neuqua="" on="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2_2_0.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Amy Miller watches the first showing of 'Neuqua on Drugs'." /></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Megan was grounded at the time &ndash; but she convinced her mom to let us go if her mom came too. And so her mom sat on the other side of the movie theater and we were just tripping balls. Like we were sweating so bad and Megan had drawn a giant heart over her eye with eyeliner &lsquo;cause she was the Queen of Hearts and she drew stripes on my face because she was the Cheshire Cat.&rdquo;</div><div>&ldquo;I had no idea,&rdquo; Amy Miller told me when I talked with her recently. &nbsp;&ldquo;And here they were rows behind me in the theater and they took acid to watch the movie. And this is the first I&rsquo;m hearing about this, sitting in the library among hundreds of people, and the girl was in the row behind me and she leaned forward and apologized to me&hellip;. And that was pretty tough, you know? That was really hard. I was angry. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. It was like my daughter, I didn&rsquo;t know her.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Library head John Spears said that feeling of disconnect was common among adults the evening of the screening, and for a long time. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the one thing &nbsp;I heard over and over and over from everyone is: How could this have been happening and we didn&rsquo;t even know it?&rdquo; Underneath their confusion, he says, was shock. There was a sentiment among some people in Naperville that &ldquo;these kinds of things don&rsquo;t happen here.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I spoke to dozens of people in Naperville and I asked everyone, &ldquo;Did this harsh film make a difference?&rdquo;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Dvdsss.jpg" style="float: right;" title="The shelf life of the documentary remains to be seen (Bill Healy)" /></div></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The high school principal pointed to a student-led discussion program, which he says was being created at the same time students were making the documentary. Neuqua&rsquo;s also part of an innovative pilot program specific to heroin--it&rsquo;s a project of &nbsp;the Robert Crown Center for Health Education. That program is in two middle schools that feed into Neuqua, too.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A parent group recently got money from the city to create parent conversation circles.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Naperville police track where users live and sometimes do surveillance on kids buying drugs on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side.</div><div>Early on in my reporting, Jack Kapson - the young filmmaker who helped create &ldquo;Neuqua on Drugs&rdquo; - said heroin was still a problem in Naperville, though he thought it had gone back underground since the film was released.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In 2013 so far, &nbsp;Naperville has had three confirmed heroin deaths&mdash;down from six in 2011. Police stress, however, that the number of overdoses means kids are still using as much as they did in recent years.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Columnist Denise Crosby says it&rsquo;s a mistake to think &ldquo;Neuqua on Drugs&rdquo; was one high school&rsquo;s story, or even Naperville&rsquo;s story. &ldquo;People started looking at this as &ldquo;Oh, this is Neuqua Valley on drugs. So that&rsquo;s Neuqua&rsquo;s problem.&rdquo; And that&rsquo;s just simply &ndash; again I cannot reiterate that enough &ndash; that is simply not the case. Yeah, Neuqua was the epicenter for this. But this issue is in all of our high schools. It&rsquo;s everywhere. In all of our communities.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The film, she says, should have been titled, &ldquo;Your High School on Drugs.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Bill Healy is an independent producer. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/chicagoan">@chicagoan</a> and on <a href="http://billhealymedia.com">his website</a>.</em></div></p> Tue, 10 Dec 2013 02:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/movie-brought-naperville-face-face-its-teens-drug-use-109332 Chicago whistleblower brings attention to pharmaceutical kickbacks http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-whistleblower-brings-attention-pharmaceutical-kickbacks-109080 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/johnsonjohnson.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Pharmaceutical manufacturer Johnson &amp; Johnson has agreed to settle Medicaid fraud claims filed by a Chicago whistleblower.</p><p>Bernard Lisitza worked as a pharmacist for Omnicare. It&rsquo;s one of the largest pharmacy supplying drugs to nursing homes. Lisitza noticed Johnson &amp; Johnson was paying kickbacks to Omnicare for switching nursing home patients from their anti-psychotic drugs to Johnson &amp; Johnson&rsquo;s product Risperdal.</p><p>Lisitza reported this to management more than 10 years ago, and was allegedly fired for it.</p><p>&ldquo;When he told Omnicare that he didn&rsquo;t think this was right what Johnson &amp; Johnson was doing, he never heard of the False Claims Act. Who knows about the False Claims Act? He did it because it was the right thing to do,&rdquo; said attorney Linda Wyetzner, who represents Lisitza.</p><p>Under the False Claims Act, a person with knowledge of an allegation can help the government recover illegally obtained government funds.</p><p>According to the feds, the kickbacks drove Omnicare&rsquo;s sale of Risperdal from $100 million in 1999 to $280 million in 2004.</p><p>In 2009, Omnicare settled the allegations by paying $98 million. Johnson &amp; Johnson has agreed to pay $149 million to settle the claims.</p><p>Lisitza also filed similar complaints involving Walgreens and CVS.</p><p><em>Susie An covers business for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/soosieon" target="_blank">@soosieon</a></em></p></p> Tue, 05 Nov 2013 10:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-whistleblower-brings-attention-pharmaceutical-kickbacks-109080 Growing unrest in Libya, Mexico's drug strategy and the practicality of solar power http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-07-30/growing-unrest-libya-mexicos-drug-strategy-and-practicality-solar <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP120428155549.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We learn about a prison escape and new attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Journalist and author Alfredo Corchado joins us to assess Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto&#39;s strategy to combat drugs. Kate Sackman and Dick Co highlight the practicality of solar power.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F103290052&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-mexico-s-drug-strategy-and-the-practical.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-mexico-s-drug-strategy-and-the-practical" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Growing unrest in Libya, Mexico's drug strategy and the practicality of solar power" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p></p> Tue, 30 Jul 2013 10:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-07-30/growing-unrest-libya-mexicos-drug-strategy-and-practicality-solar Narcotics task force takes aim at Mexico to Chicago drug trafficking http://www.wbez.org/news/narcotics-task-force-takes-aim-mexico-chicago-drug-trafficking-107796 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS3567_Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and Anita Alvarez.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A team of federal agents and police officers arrested 21 men allegedly involved in drug dealing on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side.</p><p>Jack Riley, head of the Chicago office of the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration, said the arrests were the first major case for a new narcotics strike force.</p><p>Early on Thursday, the strike force executed search warrants on nine Chicago residences and two cars, arresting 21 alleged drug dealers.</p><p>Another two men who were also indicted are still at large.</p><p>The arrested men are due in court for hearings next week.</p><p>According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, the men arrested were allegedly involved in selling cocaine and heroin in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.</p><p>The arrests were the result of a nine-month investigation that is still ongoing.</p><p>Along with the arrests, law enforcement officials seized about three pounds of heroin and nearly nine pounds of cocaine.</p><p>Special Agent Riley said the drugs would be worth millions of dollars on the street.</p><p>&ldquo;Another great day for the good guys here in Chicago,&rdquo; Riley said at a press conference announcing the drug bust.</p><p>He said the arrests were part of a continuing effort to cripple the supply of drugs from Mexico into Chicago.</p><p>Specifically, this operation was aimed at finding and bringing down what Riley called the &ldquo;choke point&rdquo; where the Sinaloa drug cartel and Chicago street dealers connect.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got to make the connections, even if it takes us back into Mexico and Central and South America. The idea is to eliminate the organizations,&rdquo; Riley said.</p><p>He added that when he and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy discussed the narcotic strike force last year they &ldquo;envisioned it doing exactly what it did today.&rdquo;</p><p>McCarthy said the new task force works because the Chicago Police Department and the DEA have different, but complementary aims.</p><p>For the police, the goal is to &ldquo;eliminate street corner markets&rdquo; and make Chicago safer, and for the DEA it is to find the larger drug suppliers.</p><p>With the task force, McCarthy said, the work his department does on the ground can help the federal agents in their pursuit of high-level drug traffickers. And the investigations done by the DEA can aid the Chicago police.</p><p>McCarthy said the drug bust will have a big impact on crime in Chicago</p><p>&ldquo;Much of the violence on the West Side of Chicago &hellip; a lot of it revolves around the narcotics trade,&rdquo; McCarthy said.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ reporter.</em></p></p> Fri, 21 Jun 2013 10:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/narcotics-task-force-takes-aim-mexico-chicago-drug-trafficking-107796 ACLU finds racial disparities in Illinois pot arrests http://www.wbez.org/news/aclu-finds-racial-disparities-illinois-pot-arrests-107555 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/3635_7811e70cf25bbc2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois say one way to address racial disparities in marijuana arrests is to stop making them.</p><p>A new report from the civil rights group calls for the legalization of marijuana. The study found that African Americans in Illinois are almost eight times more likely than whites to be arrested for pot possession.</p><p>Ed Yohnka, director of public policy for the ACLU of Illinois, says whites and blacks use pot at about the same rate, but enforcement focuses on African Americans.</p><p>&ldquo;We see this in the city of Chicago, we see it in other areas, that &hellip; where the enforcement is targeted is at people of color. And it results in this grossly disparate rate of arrest,&rdquo; Yohnka said.</p><p>In an emailed statement, a spokesman for the Chicago police Department said police officers enforce laws in the interest of public safety and without regard to race.</p><p>According to the ACLU report, Illinois has the fourth highest rate of race disparity in marijuana arrests in the country.</p><p>Yohnka says that disparity &ldquo;results in really tragic outcomes in &hellip; people&rsquo;s lives,&rdquo; because of court costs and the stigma of a criminal record.&nbsp; It cost the state about $221 million to enforce marijuana laws in 2010, according to the report.</p><p>&ldquo;This war on marijuana &hellip; is an abject failure,&rdquo; Yohnka said.</p><p>In its report the ACLU recommends that pot be legal for anyone over 21, and be licensed, taxed and regulated like any other product. The group also suggests that tax revenue from marijuana sales could be earmarked for substance-abuse prevention, among other things.Yohnka says the public wants marijuana to be legalized and that elected officials are lagging behind popular opinion.</p><p>Despite that, marijuana arrests are trending up, not down, in Illinois and throughout the country.</p><p>Illinois had 12,406 more pot arrests in 2010 than it did in 2001, according to the report.</p><p>The results of the study didn&#39;t come as a big shock to Juliana Stratton, but she says she was surprised to see that Cook County had the most marijuana possession arrests in the country.<br /><br />Stratton, who heads the Cook County Judicial Advisory Council, says the report confirms the importance of the work being done by Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle to try and cut down on the number of marijuana arrests in the county.<br /><br />She says more money and energy should be diverted away from law enforcement and toward treatment and prevention. In the coming months, she says the county will be unveiling programs that will divert minor drug offenders away from jail and toward rehabilitation.<br /><br />As for Cook County&#39;s high number of pot arrests, Stratton says part of the reason could be the Chicago Police Department&#39;s focus on quality-of-life policing and the drying up of state funds for drug treatment.<br /><br />Stratton says CPD&#39;s policy of arresting minor offenders as part of the &quot;broken windows theory&quot; of policing, runs counter to the county president&#39;s aim of decreasing the population of the Cook County Jail.</p><p>Illinois state Sen. Mattie Hunter, who heads the Illinois Disproportionate Justice Impact Study Commission, also said &nbsp;she was not surprised by the ACLU&rsquo;s findings. She says the report echoes what she and her colleagues have found in years studying racial inequality throughout the state.</p><p>But Hunter says the problem won&rsquo;t go away until racism is eradicated from the justice system.</p><p>Hunter does not support the legalization of marijuana.</p><p>Cook County led the nation in marijuana possession arrests in 2010 with 33,000, or 91 per day, according to the ACLU report.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 05 Jun 2013 17:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/aclu-finds-racial-disparities-illinois-pot-arrests-107555 Illinois crime commission wants anti-heroin task force http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-crime-commission-wants-anti-heroin-task-force-107489 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP989909805819.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Illinois State Crime Commission is calling for a statewide anti-heroin task force.</p><p>In a statement Sunday, the commission asked the Illinois attorney general to appoint the task force and give it broad investigative powers.</p><p>Three months ago the commission termed Illinois&#39; heroin problem a &quot;medical epidemic.&quot; The group says say the drug has now corrupted the legal system in one southwestern Illinois county.</p><p>St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook said last week he was stepping down. The announcement came days after he was charged with federal heroin and gun offenses in a widening courthouse drug scandal.</p><p>Jerry Elsner is executive director of the Illinois State Crime Commission. He says heroin is a &quot;virus&quot; that &quot;has the potential to corrupt every facet of our society and must be stopped.&quot;</p></p> Mon, 03 Jun 2013 08:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-crime-commission-wants-anti-heroin-task-force-107489 The child star problem http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-05/child-star-problem-107381 <p><p><img 12.="" 2002="" age="" alt="" amanda="" at="" class="image-original_image" in="" of="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/amandashow.jpg" style="float: right; height: 301px; width: 300px; " the="" title="File: Amanda Bynes starring on &quot;The Amanda Show&quot; in 2002, at age 13. (Nickelodeon)" />Six years ago, rising teen idol Amanda Bynes went on <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fe0KuGWT-UU" target="_blank"><em>The View</em></a>&nbsp;to talk about how &quot;normal&quot; she was in comparison to other fallen child stars like Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan:&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;You have to have to your eye on the prize, and you have to have goals in life,&quot; she said. &quot;I want a long career, and I don&#39;t think that partying and stuff is the best way to achieve that.&quot;&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Oh, how things have changed.</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">Last week, Bynes was <a href="http://gawker.com/amanda-bynes-announces-plan-to-sue-nypd-get-plastic-su-510003922" target="_blank">arrested</a>&nbsp;for allegedly&nbsp;throwing a bong out of her apartment window. She then threatened to sue the NYPD for <a href="http://gawker.com/amanda-bynes-claims-she-never-owned-a-bong-doesnt-smo-509867053" target="_blank">sexual harrassment</a>&nbsp;after they sent her to the psych ward for an evaluation.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">This event is just the latest in a string of bizarre antics from Bynes over the past year: a DUI in April 2012, two hit-and-runs, a mass firing of all her staff members, a now-infamous&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/AmandaBynes" target="_blank">Twitter account</a> that grows more disturbing and nonsensical by the day and a <a href="http://gawker.com/5993761/what-the-hell-is-going-on-with-amanda-bynes-a-treatise" target="_blank">wigged-out new look </a>that is shocking to say the least.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">What happened to the bubbly child actress whose<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanda_Bynes" target="_blank">&nbsp;prodigious talent</a>&nbsp;earned her a spot on Nickelodeon&#39;s <em>All That&nbsp;</em>by age 10, her own sketch comedy show&nbsp;at age 13 and a slew of memorable film roles (<em>What A Girl Wants</em>, <em>She&#39;s the Man</em>) before her 21st birthday?</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">Or, even more importantly, what happened to&nbsp;<a href="http://listverse.com/2009/04/19/top-10-child-stars-gone-bad/" target="_blank">all of the other child stars</a>&nbsp;whose once-promising careers turned into hellish downward spirals of drug abuse, sex scandals, bouts with mental illness, multiple trips to rehab and for many, tragic and untimely death?</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">For as long as &quot;stage moms&quot; have been shoving their kids in front of cameras, child stars have been turning to drugs or engaging in other harmful behaviors in order to reconcile the&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_actor#Post-success_troubles" target="_blank">damaging psychological effects of early fame</a>. &nbsp;Notable examples include Judy Garland, Bobby Driscoll, Michael Jackson, Corey Haim, Jonathon Brandis, Dana Plato, Brad Renfro and River Phoenix&mdash;all of whom died of either a drug overdose or suicide after spending the majority of their childhoods in the glaring spotlight.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">Some have been able to turn their lives around (like Todd Bridges and Drew Barrymore) while only a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-child-stars-whose-lives-were-not-ruined-by-fame.php" target="_blank">select group </a>&nbsp;has managed to avoid the self-destructive tendencies that befell so many others.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">In most cases though, the vast majority of these success stories resulted from either a career redirection or departure from the industry altogether. For example: Shirley Temple turned to a career in politics and diplomacy, Ron Howard stepped behind the camera, and a long list of others (including Jodie Foster, Natalie Portman and Claire Danes) took a break to attend college and experience at least a small slice of normalcy for once in their lives.</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">Perhaps that&#39;s all they need: a step back, a break from stardom and a chance to be &quot;normal.&quot; Still, early fame and depression are often inextricably linked. Career slumps are difficult for adults to handle; but for children whose egos are still painfully fragile and whose brains haven&#39;t fully developed, the pit falls of fame are even more confusing, scary and mentally devastating beyond repair.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">A few years ago, former child star and recovering drug addict Corey Feldman (<em>The Goonies</em>, <em>Stand by Me</em>) revealed that <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McpjA-PqrKU" target="_blank">pedophilia</a> is the biggest problem facing children in Hollywood.</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">However, he also admitted that growing up in front of the camera (he started acting in commercials at age three) had already laid the groundwork for a descent into depression and drug abuse; and that without proper guidance, the same could happen to anyone. &nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">Maybe we can&#39;t prevent child stars from self-destructing, but we can take steps to stop perpetuating the cycle.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">Popular media: stop sexualizing children. Tabloids: leave them alone. Responsible adults: be parents, not enablers. And for goodness sake, let&nbsp;Quvenzhané Wallis wear her <a href="http://style.mtv.com/2013/02/24/2013-oscars-quvenzhane-wallis-puppy-purse/" target="_blank">puppy purse </a>for as long as possible. She may be a <a href="http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/quvenzhane-wallis-best-actress-oscar-nominee-to-star-as-annie-2013242" target="_blank">Best Actress nominee</a> with many exciting roles ahead of her, but she&#39;ll only be a 9-year-old once.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style=""><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>&nbsp;or <a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com" target="_blank">Tumblr</a>.</em></div><div class="image-insert-image " style="">&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 29 May 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-05/child-star-problem-107381 Pill round-up: MWRD wants your unused medication http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/pill-round-mwrd-wants-your-unused-medication-106866 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/essjay/5134563753/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/pills_0.jpg" style="height: 437px; width: 610px;" title="(Sarah Macmillan via Flickr)" /></a><br />Valium, adderall, warfarin &mdash; if it&rsquo;s common medication in the general population, it&rsquo;s a common water contaminant. <a href="http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=pharmaceuticals-in-the-water">Pharmaceutical products routinely enter the ecosystem</a>, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/14/fish-drug-contaminated-water_n_2688901.html">altering the behavior of fish</a> and tainting the drinking water supplies of 40 million Americans.</p><p>To help cut back on that contamination, The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) is participating in a national drug &ldquo;take-back&rdquo; event, inviting Chicagoans to anonymously dispose of their unused and unwanted medication.</p><p>MWRD has participated in all five national drug collection events, which are organized nationally by the Drug Enforcement Administration. For the first time, MWRD will weigh Saturday&rsquo;s haul to assess the program&rsquo;s reach.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Spring prescription drug collection date set for April 27; three drop-off sites at MWRD facilities. <a href="http://t.co/omfRjZWY16" title="http://twitter.com/MWRDGC/status/307169687496699904/photo/1">twitter.com/MWRDGC/status/&hellip;</a></p>&mdash; MWRD (@MWRDGC) <a href="https://twitter.com/MWRDGC/status/307169687496699904">February 28, 2013</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Drugs still make their way into our water, said Thomas Granato of MWRD&rsquo;s monitoring and research division, once they&rsquo;ve passed through the body. But destroying unused medication eliminates a preventable source of the pollution.</p><p>Granato said it&rsquo;s not currently possible for the District to remove pharmceutical contaminants from wastewater once they&rsquo;ve made it out into the environment. MWRD hands the medication they collect over to police, who have it incinerated.</p><p>Collection will be at the main gate of MWRD&rsquo;s three treatment facilities, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.</p><ul><li>O&rsquo;Brien Water Reclamation Plant, 3500 Howard Street, Skokie, Ill.</li><li>Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, 6001 W. Pershing Rd., Cicero, Ill.</li><li>Calumet Water Reclamation Plant, 400 E. 130<sup>th</sup> St., Chicago.</li></ul></p> Fri, 26 Apr 2013 17:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/pill-round-mwrd-wants-your-unused-medication-106866 Reporter's Notebook: If Illinois legalizes marijuana, how could that affect the economics of the drug trade among gangs? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/reporters-notebook-if-illinois-legalizes-marijuana-how-could-affect-economics <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/pot leaf.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="650" src="http://embed.verite.co/timeline/?source=0An_OJm0YASWadHhMMWQ4VHJmck5yMEdBNTlNRi1nZGc&amp;font=PTSerif-PTSans&amp;maptype=toner&amp;lang=en&amp;height=650" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/about-curious-city-98756">Curious City</a>&nbsp;is a news-gathering experiment designed to satisfy the public&#39;s curiosity.&nbsp;People&nbsp;<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">submit questions</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">vote&nbsp;</a>for their favorites, and WBEZ reports out the winning questions in real time, on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/curiouscityproject">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/#!/WBEZCuriousCity">Twitter&nbsp;</a>and the timeline above.</p><p>Siva Iyer from Elmhurt&nbsp;asked:&nbsp;If Illinois legalizes marijuana, how could that affect the economics of the drug trade among gangs? WBEZ reporter Natalie Moore investigates.&nbsp;</p><p>Where do you think we should start this investigation? How would you answer this? Comment below!</p></p> Fri, 29 Mar 2013 15:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/reporters-notebook-if-illinois-legalizes-marijuana-how-could-affect-economics