Dope File: Treating drugs with death

By Joel Miller

Goodbye Muddah, goodbye Faddah

Tough love kills, as the parents of Anthony Haynes found out when their 14-year-old son died last summer in a boot-camp-style drug-treatment program outside of Phoenix, Ariz.

Camp director Charles Long II was busted earlier this month and charged with second-degree murder, according to a Feb. 16 Associated Press story. And if Long were looking for mitigating circumstances to endear him to the authorities, the quarter-pound of pot found in his bedroom closet and the account of his pulling a knife on another camper didn’t help matters much.

The medical examiner’s verdict was that Haynes “died of complications from dehydration and near-drowning.” While those may sound contradictory, tragically they are not.

Voicing his desire to leave the camp, on the day of his death Haynes was forced to eat mud and stand in 116-degree heat “for being a quitter.” His stint in the sun was upwards of five hours long. And if that were not sufficient torture, after nearly dying from the heat, Haynes was taken to a motel and dropped in a bathtub to cool off – that’s where he almost drowned.

Other camp staffers were also arrested and charged – one, according to AP, “for allegedly spanking, stomping, beating and whipping more than 14 children. He also was accused of denying them water or shade in the heat.”

Even Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Mr. Tough Love himself, called the America’s Buffalo Soldiers Re-enactors Association-operated camp “organized torture toward children. …” The camp was closed the day following Haynes’ death.

“There have been at least five other deaths at youth boot camps in the past decade and numerous abuse allegations across the country,” said the AP report.

Ecstasy or Viagra

Drug smugglers come in all shapes and sizes, but U.S. Customs officials were a bit flummoxed last week when busting a wheelchair-bound, 81-year-old woman for trying to sneak 10,000 ecstasy pills through Miami International Airport in her baggage.

Packed along with a bundle of books, x-raying inspectors found the stash, according to a Feb. 22 report in the CBC News. Her excuse? Returning from England with her 56-year-old boyfriend, “The woman told customs officials she believed the pills were Viagra.”

An 81-year-old lady with 10,000 Viagra pills? Sounds a lot scarier than ecstasy.

Death by the gram

Granny Mule is lucky she didn’t stop by in the Philippines on her way home, as the country’s legislature is currently working to jack-up drug penalties to include the death penalty.

“Those found in possession of five grams or more of opium, morphine, methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, heroin, marijuana resin oil, cocaine and drugs with no therapeutic value, or 200 grams or more of marijuana will face the maximum penalty of life imprisonment or death and a fine ranging from 500,000 pesos to 10 million pesos,” said the Feb. 26 Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The death penalty will be administered to those found cultivating, selling, importing, and transporting drugs. And – this is the only meritorious part of the law considering its equity – “Any government official, employee, police or military officer found guilty of planting dangerous drugs, equipment or paraphernalia as evidence on suspects will also be meted out the maximum penalty.”

If we had just that part of the law in the U.S., how much would you wager police corruption would wane?

The other terrorists

We all know the drug trade causes terrorism, right? I laid out the connection a few months back. With radically different intent, the federal government did as well, spending good (taxpayer) money during the Super Bowl to run ad spots that explained it all in deceptively simplistic terms.

Well, long-time journalist Jeff Meyers, veteran of the Los Angeles Times and St. Louis Post Dispatch and the filmmaker responsible for the infamous “Emperor of Hemp” documentary about Jack Herer, has tossed his hat in the drugs ‘n’ terror ring with a great parody of the Super Bowl ads, available on his site in Real Player or Quicktime formats.

After running a series of images – cops raiding homes, arresting people, burning things, jailing citizens – Meyers asks, “Where do drug police get their money? If you pay taxes …”

(Pause for dramatic effect.)

“… some of it might come from you. Stop terrorism. End the drug war.”


More Straight Dope columns:

Stiff joints

Kill a druggie, sell a kidney

Druggies worse than killers?

Vandalizing the 4th Amendment

Lookout for Big Narc

Dispatches from the drug war

Plus, see Joel Miller’s entire drug-war archive, 50-plus articles and growing.

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