Sunday, July 29, 2012

Synthetic Marijuana in Louisiana

Synthetic, designer drugs were just starting to make waves in Jefferson Parish last fall when Lt. John Ladd, a detective with the Sheriff's Office narcotics division, visited the hospital rooms of two Metairie teenagers hospitalized after smoking man-made marijuana. One 14-year-old girl went into immediate cardiac arrest after taking a toke and had to be resuscitated at East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie. The other, a 16-year-old girl, smoked before what turned out to be a frightening trip to the Esplanade mall in Kenner.
21 people arrested in St. Tammany Parish for selling synthetic marijauna
EnlargeSCOTT THRELKELD / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain announces the arrest of 21 people Wednesday, October 26, 2011, for selling synthetic marijuana and bath salts in convenience stores throughout St. Tammany Parish. Officials recovered about 8,500 packets of synthetic marijuana, $115,000 in cash, weapons and eight vehicles.21 people arrested in St. Tammany Parish for selling synthetic marijauna and bath salts gallery (16 photos)
"They were walking into the mall, and she sees the bushes and trees talking to her and jumping around. She passed out, and they called EMS," Ladd said.
Both girls told Ladd they had been smoking "POW!," an illegal "botanical potpourri" sold by The Rob Shop, a smoke shop with two locations in Metairie.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office investigators on July 19 announcedthe arrests of the business's owners, Robert Bentel Jr. and Robert McPhail, along with nine other suspects in a wide-ranging crackdown on synthetic marijuana manufacturing and distribution in the parish. Detectives seized more than $1 million in cash, drugs and other assets.
Wide appeal
Detectives uncovered an alleged trafficking business that spread to several states. But their investigation also revealed that synthetic marijuana appealed to more than just mischievous high schoolers. Agents watched adults -- including soccer moms and seniors -- make their way into stores that were under surveillance to buy the drug.
Case detective Adrian Thompson said while crack and heroin tend to attract a certain subset of users, synthetic marijuana consumers run the gamut.
"With this drug, it was everyone from 13 to 70," he said. "The well-dressed, well-to-do types and the not-as-well-dressed. Every rung of the socioeconomic ladder was touched. It was completely across the board."
Emergency room doctors at Interim LSU Public Hospital in New Orleans noticed the same diversity in the patients treated there for overdoses of the synthetic substance, according Dr. Victor Tuckler, the ER's toxicologist. He and detective say users are drawn by the drug's over-the-counter availability.
The Sheriff's Office has found synthetic marijuana sold out in the open at service stations and convenience stores as well as on the Internet. No backstreet deals or clandestine hook-ups with a possibly shady dealer.
"A lot of the public believes that it's somewhat safe because it's being sold at retail outlets," said Capt. Keith Simone, another Sheriff's Office narcotics agent.
Dangerous high
That lure, authorities say, is a lie. Many users ingest synthetic marijuana expecting the same effects as naturally grown grass but find themselves suffering from high blood pressure, nausea, high fevers, seizures and hallucinations, Tuckler said.
"A lot of their behavior and their presentation is very similar to people high on cocaine," he said
But what has proven more harmful is the psychosis that seems to accompany the drug's use, Tuckler said. Patients have developed delusions, violent paranoia or extreme suicidal thoughts, symptoms that persist for days, sometimes weeks.
Authorities have no way of knowing the drugs' long-term effects because the chemical makeups are always changing. Accused local manufacturers buy the active ingredients for synthetic marijuana in powder form from unregulated chemists overseas, mostly in China, Thompson said.
They dissolve the powder into liquid acetone, the chemical used in nail polish remover, then spray it onto harmless, dried plant leaves. Authorities suspect they might include additives like hallucinogens and or nicotine.
Those back room chemists and manufacturers stay one step ahead of law enforcement by easily changing the molecular makeup of the raw chemical whenever new laws are passed banning a particular formula.
And the unknown is what makes these drugs even more dangerous, said Dr. Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Center.
"A number of these substances have never been tested on anything," Ryan said. "You could use of these substances and end up with Parkinson's syndrome in a week that's never going to go away. No one knows."
Thompson said suspicious parents should keep an eye out for the small flashy packages of "potpourri" that bear names like "POW!", "Nola Diamond", "Mojo", "K-2" and "Spice." Adults of all ages using the drug should beware, Tuckler said. Synthetic marijuana is dangerous not just in the physical, but in the mental sense.
"You have a kid who's in college who just wants to have a good time," Tuckler said. "He experiments and the next day, he's suicidal and paranoid. That paranoia could stay the rest of his life. That's how devastating it could be."
As reported by the Times-Picayune
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Actor Russell Brand in New Orleans Municipal Court

Actor Russell Brand must perform 20 hours of community service and pay a $500 court fee to resolve a misdemeanor charge stemming from a confrontation with a photographer in New Orleans. Brand did not appear in Municipal Court Thursday morning, but his attorney, Robert Glass, entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf to a charge of criminal damage to property.
Russell Brand.jpgActor Russell Brand is shown in mug shot released by the New Orleans Police Department in March. Brand must perform 20 hours of community service and pay a $500 court fee to resolve a misdemeanor charge stemming from a confrontation with a photographer in New Orleans.
Glass said that under a deal with the district attorney's office, the case would be dismissed if the actor provides proof he has completed the service requirement by Aug. 31.
He said he is hopeful Brand may be able to fulfill the requirement through his charitable work with people suffering addictions.
Michael Kunzelman, Associated Press

For more information on a New Orleans Criminal Lawyer call Attorney Harold E. Weiser

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Orleans Criminal Defense

Bridge City man booked in West Bank murder

Published: Tuesday, January 04, 2011, 6:05 PM    by the Times-Picayune

Quentin McClure, of 313 Lafitte St., was booked with second degree murder and with being a felon in possession of a firearm after being arrested without incident at his home Tuesday. McClure is accused being involved in the fatal shooting of Theodore Pierce, 37, who was found dead in the 200 block of Fourth Street shortly after 4:30 p.m. Sunday, said Col. John Fortunato, a sheriff's spokesman.
Pierce died from multiple gunshots wounds to the body, and police say they found shell casings from two weapons at the scene.
McClure has several prior arrests for narcotics possession, firearm possession and resisting arrest, authorities said.
Fortunato said investigators also are searching for Chasity Griffin, 21, of Denham Springs in connection with Pierce's death. Griffin is wanted for second degree murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Griffin also has several prior arrests for narcotics possession, assault and flight from police.
Pierce's girlfriend said he was on Fourth Street getting his car washed at the time of the shooting, and police initially said they were responding to a report of a gun battle in the neighborhood. Authorities have not released a motive.
Anyone with information on the shooting or who knows the whereabouts of Chasity Griffin is asked to contact Homicide Detective Travis Eserman at 365-5300 or Crimestoppers at 822.1111.
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Jefferson Parish DWI Checkpoint

Louisiana State Police and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office have announced a DWI checkpoint in West Jefferson on Saturday. The Checkpoint is for the purposes of testing drivers to determine if they have been drinking and driving. The traffic stops start at 8 p.m. July 7th, 2012 in an unknown location on the Westbank of Jefferson Parish.

The Louisiana State blood alcohol limit is 0.08% of blood alcohol per volume as set forth in Louisiana Revised Statute 14:98. A person shown to have that blood alcohol concentration or higher will be automatic assumed to be intoxicated. A person has the right under Louisiana State Criminal Statutes to refuse to blow 2 times. On a third refusal the Police have the authority to take blood from a suspect.
It is unknown whether or not the police have a blanket warrant to take blood samples from drivers without the need for a particularized warrant. Remember not to waive your rights and the Louisiana State Department of Motor Vehicles has to give you do process before suspending your license.

One of the most controversial aspects of a DUI stop is the field sobriety test (FSTs). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has developed a model system for managing Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) training. They have published numerous training manuals associated with FSTs. As a result of the NHTSA studies, the walk-and-turn test was determined to be 68% accurate, and the one-leg stand test is only 65% accurate when administered to people within the study parameters.

Harold E. Weiser