Cultural Baggage February 7, 2010

Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

It's not only inhumane it is really fundamentally Un-American... “NO MORE” “DRUG WAR” “NO MORE” “DRUG WAR” “NO MORE” “DRUG WAR” “NO MORE” “DRUG WAR”

My Name is Dean Becker. I don't condone or encourage the use of any drugs - legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on eternal drug war.

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Dean Becker: Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. We have got a fairly diverse set of shows for you this week. We are going to hear from Mr. Barry Cooper the former super texas narc who now heads up a group called Cop Busters. We have got a segment from NPR dealing with the subject of bail bonds and the profiteering that goes on all around this country. We've got the Abolitionist's Moment for you. And we have got the Corrupt Cops story of the week. Plus a little later you'll get a chance to name that drug by it's side effect. First up, Mr. Barry Cooper.

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Barry Cooper: My name is Barry Cooper, I am running for Texas attorney general. I was one of our nation's top drug enforcement officers. And I switched sides once I realized the war on drugs was crazy and unfair and unjust.

So three years ago I released a series of DVD's called Never Get Busted that teach citizens all the drug enforcement secrets and how to counter them to keep them from going to a cage. And the last year we've been working on a reality show called Kop Busters with a K where we set up stings for crooked police and catch them on video camera.

Dean Becker: Saw you give a course to a bunch of Houston attorneys about how these sniffer dogs are nothing but a bunch of bull. That they are really not what they're purported to be, correct?

Barry Cooper: That's exactly right and by the way it was nice seeing you at that at that Dean. It was finally nice to meet you in person. You're doing a great job with you're radio station and I'm glad to be aboard however I can.

But yeah, I was teaching the lawyers in Houston how police officers make their drug dogs false alert to gain probable cause to search citizens automobiles. We're trying to get a case through the court system and hopefully to the Supreme Court where they'll make a different ruling and only allow dogs to assist in finding narcotics but never allow a canine to decide a fourth amendment issue on the side of the road and gain probable cause to search a citizen.

Dean Becker: Well yeah as you outlined for us there are just numerous ways they can influence that dog's behavior or just outright lie about what the dogs indicator is supposed to be, right?

Barry Cooper: That's right. And I used to do that and I am sorry about it. They trained me that it was the greater good to make the dog false alert to search the automobile because you're getting drugs off the street. I didn't realize at the time that protecting our constitutional rights trumped any greater good out there, that it should be first.

Dean Becker: Well you know Barry there are also you know various cities mostly around the Texas Louisiana border I'm aware of where they pull people over for moving imperceptibly within their lane or otherwise say it was worthy of a traffic stop. And then they search them and they find money and they take it. And they force these people to sign a document that says we'll let you go and we'll keep your money if you just sign on the line here. That goes on every day right?

Barry Cooper: Absolutely, it's highway robbery. In fact CNN just reported on a police officer and a district attorney in east Texas on 59 that had seized several million dollars from over thirty motorists and they were all black Americans. And there's a class action law suit against them. And CNN called it highway robbery and it turns out the officer involved in that, his name is Barry Washington. He's the guy who trained me and taught me how to do all that crooked stuff years ago.

Dean Becker: We're talking with Barry Cooper of Never Get Bused fame. Barry you send out alerts to those who join in on your mailing list. One of the more recent ones dealt with ten things not to do when you get pulled over by a police officer. You want to go through that list a bit?

Barry Cooper: It's on the front page of my website. All those newsletters that I send out I always put it on the front page of the site for everybody else to look at.

But the top things you do not want to do is first you do not want to touch your hand to your head. Do not adjust your cap, don't wipe your eye. That's highly suspicious to an officer and a sign of deception. In fact that is one of the top three deception indicators in the FBI polygraph manual.

You also want to not be sticky sweet. That makes officers suspicious. You do not want to name drop and say my neighbor's a judge or my neighbor's a cop. That creates suspicion. You never want to say I'm in a hurry because I'm going to visit my sick relative. Those are all indicators that that interdiction officers are taught to be aware of and to detain the suspect longer.

You also never want to swear to something like I swear on my momma's life I don't have any drugs in the car. Ninety-nine percent of the time when a motorist says that they're hiding something. So avoid those behaviors.

Dean Becker: And Barry something I have taught all of my younger relatives as they reached that age if you will is never travel with more than you can eat in about five seconds. What do you think of that one?

Barry Cooper: If you do have to carry more than you can eat go in the rain because cops do not search in the rain.

Dean Becker: Barry you had a what was it twenty year career as a narc?

Barry Cooper: No I had a eight year career. It felt like a twenty year career because in that eight years I crammed over five hundred drug arrests accredited to me. I was on you know at least fifteen hundred other operations with other agents.

I ran over a hundred search warrants and seized millions in cash and assets so I was kind of the the show dog hot dog of my squad. In fact I seized more drugs in a year than all fifteen agents put together.

Dean Becker: Well Barry there's been an ongoing series, hopefully it's beginning to evaporate, but a series of drug task forces all over Texas and gosh all around the country that deceive people, set people up, use unsavory snitches and truthfully lie on the stand in order to send dozens if not hundreds of people to prison because they get more money from the government if they can get that conviction, right?

Barry Cooper: Oh that's absolutely right and one thing about our economy crashing. When it happened I told my wife Candy this will be good because any time you develop policy you have to have the money to enforce it. And we have so many policy policies or laws. It takes money to enforce that. And when the money tanks it's making it harder for you know everybody to enforce all these crazy laws.

So what we're doing until they get rid of those task forces is stinging crooked cops with this Kop Busters. And by the way, that trap house we set up in Odessa a little over a year ago and we lured those cops in to a raid. And there was a sign on the wall says you're part of a reality show. You planted rugs on Yolanda. We're going to get her out.

That same group of officers had planted methamphetamine on her through an informant. She spent three years in prison and guess what she just got out of prison. She had three more years to go. The judge took her sentence, vacated her sentence three weeks ago because of what Kop Busters had done.

We brought more evidence to the table. Got it on the internet, caused the judge to look at it so she's getting a new trial in May. So she's out of federal prison. That was a real real accomplishment and treat for us.

Dean Becker: I can't give you five over the phone but my friend than you for standing up for the truth there. That's wonderful news Barry. Barry...

Barry Cooper: Well you're welcome. And by the way in two weeks I have a sting planned. I was lying in the woods thirty yards away from a cop about two months ago filming him committing a felony by stealing money. And he doesn't know I was filming him yet.

An HBO film crew from LA is coming down in two weeks to watch me confront him with that evidence. So keep an eye on all the news channel stations. You should see us pop up again.

Dean Becker: Well Barry that's what it's going to take is putting the fear of god so to speak in the heart's of these law enforcement officers so they actually you know serve the community rather than serve themselves, right?

Barry Cooper: Yeah they deserve it. Because they're the ones causing the harm on the families, it's not the drugs. My goodness I liked what Jimmy Carter said that anytime a punishment for a drug causes more harm than the drug, you have an injustice.

And to rip these families apart. You know we've got one point five million kinds in the United States right now who are orphaned. Either have either mother in jail, father in jail or both. So that's one point five million kids without one or both parents because of this crazy drug war.

Drugs are not killing our kids. You know when was the last time you heard about a kid overdosing on drugs. You know it just doesn't happen. And our ten year olds arent using drugs. That's all a crazy smoke screen to continue the disruption if American citizens to foot the bill for the private prison industry.

And I'm not going to stop until I hear all the prison doors open. I feel so bad about all the families I destroyed years ago. And that's driving me to be the voice of our prisoners and the voice of our citizens and we have resolve, we're focused and we're going to continue what we're doing.

And by the way we're going to start airing these Kop Busters things from my website starting next week from nevergetbusted.com. Candy and I have a new radio slash podcast show. It's called Backtalk with Barry and Candy and it will be the official Kop Busters channel.

We'll have a segment in each show showing videos where we bust the cops. The next segment we take calls. We shot the pilot for this last week. We'll take calls from citizens. Explain them how to get out of the legal jam they're in.

And then the third part we always have a family section. It's kind of a Dr. Phil crossed with I don't know maybe Dog the bounty hunter. Something like that. Candy and I have four kids. We're big believers in family.

Along with those three items and the radio show that I just discussed, we are also going to give Never Get Busted tips to teach you how to stay out of jail. And we're also going to give grow tips. And we're going to teach people the truth about drugs.

Dean Becker: Well Barry, one of the things I'm looking in to and perhaps down the road you can give me some insight or some input but I want to figure out why it is that the city of Houston arrests people and then denies them bail, public recognizance bonds at a rate of about one fiftieth that of the city of Austin.

And I have got a feeling there is some corruption, some you know miscellaneous contributions going to various judges and other powers that be. Because otherwise the people of Texas, the people of Houston are not fifty times more dangerous than those in Austin, are they?

Barry Cooper: They absolutely are not more dangerous than any other citizens in the state of Texas. And your feelings are correct. There is corruption. There's hundreds of thousands of dollars every day that run through those bond companies hands. Some of it goes in to the judges hands to set the high bonds and unfortunately and I have got a lot of love for Houston.

I'm running for Texas attorney general. I love every city in Texas. But I have a big heart for Houston because it's the most dangerous place to live in the world right now. Houston you know this. You are the one gave me these stats for another interview I was going to do.

But they incarcerate more people in Houston than any city in the world. But hopefully, hopefully the new mayor, she's openly gay. The way I understand it she does not like what's going on in the police department. Hopefully she'll, she'll really take notice of that injustice and start correcting some of that bad behavior.

Dean Becker: Alright once again we have been speaking with Mr. Barry Cooper, former police officer here in the state of Texas. As he said busted hundreds of young people for minor amounts of drugs most of the time, right Barry?

Barry Cooper: That's right and I did a lot of kilo deals and big you know thousand pound marijuana deals. But the majority was user amounts arresting citizens to get our tax [ ] stacked up so we would receive more money from the federal government to continue to stay in business.

Dean Becker: Alright Barry, well once again please give folks your website where they can learn more about the work you do.

Barry Cooper: Alright, it's nevergetbusted.com and check in a week or so and look for the new podcast, Backtalk with Barry and Candy. You don't want to miss it. We've got some special things lined up for the viewers.

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It's time to play Name that Drug by Its Side Effects!

Low blood sugar, decreased appetite, hunger, drowsiness, weakness, dizziness, confusion, irritability, fast heartbeat, sweating, acid stomach, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, renal failure and death.

Time's Up!

The answer: from Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Incorporated, Byetta, for diabetes. The drug was originally discovered in the lizard helloderma subspectum.

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To dream the American dream
To lie still and hope
With both of your eyes closed
To ignore the nightmare that surrounds you
Just to try, try to reach the American dream

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Phil Smith: This is Phil Smith of the Drug War Chronicle with this week's corrupt cops stories for the Drug Truth Network. This week I want to look at a brewing scandal in Camden, New Jersey. But first I couldn't resist sharing this little gem of malfeasance with you.

In west Pittston, Pennsylvania former west Pittston police officer was charged Monday with ripping off the D.A.R.E. program to the tune of twenty thousand dollars by submitting vouchers claiming he had taught their class and he hadn't. Joseph Campbell age forty-seven is charged with five felony counts of theft by deception, one for each year he submitted fraudulent payment vouchers.

Campbell taught elementary school D.A.R.E. classes in Wyoming area schools but he did not teach them at middle or high school level as his payment vouchers claimed. He's admitted to wrong doing and has been fired. He was released on a twenty-five thousand dollar bond with a preliminary hearing set for February tenth.

Well that was one crooked cop but over in Camden, New Jersey, just across the river from Philadelphia, the FBI is investigating corruption special operations team handling drugs and gun crime. The four officers involved who have been suspended without pay are Jason Stetzer, Antonio Figueroa, Kevin Perry and Robert Bayard. They are suspected of beating defendants, planting drugs and bringing phony charges to enhance their arrest record and force reluctant players in the drug underworld to cooperate.

Drug charges made by the rogue cops have already been dropped in seven cases and defense attorneys say dozens if not hundreds more could be dismissed. The group generated a pattern of complaints of mistreatment and illegal behavior. In one case a victim complained that Stetzer harassed her to become a snitch then planted drugs on him and arrested him when he refused.

In other cases as well suspects said the officers stole money and drugs during searches or planted drugs on suspects who refused to cough up information on dealers and their stashes. This investigation is ongoing.

And you have to wonder what's up with the policing culture in the greater Philadelphia area because a very similar scandal is underway in the Philly PD narcotics field unit. [ ] have been accused of lying on search warrant applications, sexually assaulting women during raids and raiding convenience stores that sell small plastic baggies, disabling surveillance cameras, threatening owners with arrest and stealing thousands of dollars in cash and merchandise. All the officers involved are on desk duty as the FBI investigates.

As always there are more corrupt cops stories online. Check them out at www.stopthedrugwar.org.

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Dean Becker: You know I have got to fess up. In the past I have kind of chided and derided NPR for their lack of content if you will when dealing with the subject of drug war. And they had a recent series of three pieces dealing with the scam that is bail bonds here in the United States.

I'd like to share a little piece of this with you and then I have got a couple of comments I want to share about this situation in Houston. We again lead the world in the lack of personal recognizance bonds, a means of getting around paying a third party to let you out of jail. This is from All Things Considered.

Reporter 1: More than half a million inmates are sitting in US jails right now. Not necessarily because they are dangerous, not because a judge thinks they are flight risks, not even because they're guilty. They haven't even been tried yet.

They're sitting in jail for a basic financial reason. They can't make bail, sometimes as little as fifty dollars. Some will wait behind bars for as long as a year before their cases make it to court.

Reporter 2: Most of these inmates are nonviolent men and women charged with small crimes. This year alone housing them will cost tax payers nine billion dollars.

Today we begin a three part series examining bail in the US. NPR's Laura Sullivan has been exploring the powerful bail industry and she's found that it hurts defendants, their victims and taxpayers. Today's story looks at bail through the lens of one city, Lubbock, Texas. And it begins with one inmate Laura Sullivan met this past June.

Reporter 1: Leslie Chu grew up next to his father on the oil rigs of southern Texas. He still can't read or write. He's a handyman often finding a place to sleep in the back of his old station wagon but he gets by. That is until one night lat December when the station wagon got cold and he changed the course of his life.

Prisoner: Well, I stole some blankets to try to stay warm.

Reporter 1: Where did you steal them from?

Prisoner: I stole them at United. It's like a grocery store. I walked in, got them, turned around and walked right back out the store. And he says excuse me sir, come here. So I turned around come back. He said, planning to pay for these? And I said, no sir, I don't have no money. Then that's when he arrested me right then.

Reporter 1: He's been here in a white concrete room at the Lubbock county jail ever since, for a hundred and eighty-five days. More than six months all together. He hasn't been convicted of his crime; he hasn't even been tried yet.

He's here because he can't pay his bail. He doesn't have the thirty-five hundred dollar cash deposit he would need to leave with the court. Nor does he have the three hundred and fifty dollar fee he would need to pay a bail bondsman to do it for him. If he did, he could stand up right now and walk out the door.

Reporter 1: Is that a lot of money?

Prisoner: To me it is, like a million dollars to me.

Reporter 1: When Leslie Chu headed down the grocery aisle and put four thirty dollar blankets under his arm, he set in motion a process almost unique to the United States, a process that rewards the wealthy and punishes the poor. And NPR has found it's almost solely to protect the interests of a powerful bail bonding lobby.

The result is that people with money get out. They go back to their jobs, their families, pay their bills, fight their cases. And according to national studies face far fewer consequences for their crimes.

People without money stay in jail and are left to take whatever offer prosecutors feel like giving them. Leslie Chu is still waiting for the offer. He's ready to plead guilty and accept his punishment. But court cases take time and prosecutors have only come to visit him once. Through lunch today it has cost seven thousand sixty-eight dollars to house clothe and feed Leslie Chu.

Prisoner: Man, that's a lot of money.

Reporter 1: Defendants who make bail do less time. Several defense lawyers in Lubbock told me that if Currington could get out, go to rehab, pay Wal-Mart for their trouble, he would likely get probation. Prosecutors right now are offering him five years in prison.

It's stressful knowing that your life is in over one hundred and fifty dollars could be swayed one way or another. You know it's a matter of being free in two hours if I had the hundred and fifty dollars to being free and three or four years down the road when I make parole on a ten year sentence.

As I make my way through the jail everyone seems to have a story like this, a daunting offer from prosecutors. A bail so small most people would just need to get to the ATM. In here most inmates seem to think that they're just hours away from someone, a friend, a relative, maybe a boss, coming to bail them out. Like thirty-four year old barber Raymond Howard.

Prisoner: Right now my family is working on coming up with the bond for me to get out so I'm praying you know not too much longer. Not too much longer.

Reporter 1: Howard needs five hundred dollars. He's been here for more than four months so far after he forged a check against a company. Like Doug Currington and Leslie Chu, Raymond Howard has no history of violence and has always shown up for court. That's why he was granted bail. And yet the city of Lubbock has already spent five thousand fifty-four dollars to house him.

Lawyers say Howard would likely get time served and probation if he was on the outside. But in here he has little bargaining power and nothing to show for himself. Prosecutors are offering Howard a sentence so long he catches his breath as he says it.

Prisoner: They started with seven, seven years.

Reporter 1: With three young boys at home it's almost more than he can bear.

Prsioner: I love my boys to death. That's pretty much all I have, you know.

Reporter 1: But despite all his hoping Raymond Howard's family isn't coming with the five hundred dollars. In fact he isn't going to see his three young boys for a very long time.

I took a walk through the jail with Lubbock sheriff, David Gutierrez who has since been promoted to the state parole board. In here it's easy to see the impact of housing all these men.

Sheriff: We're out of room, completely out of room.

Reporter 1: There are corridors where there used to be windows, cells where there used to be closets.

Sheriff: It really needs to be closed. I think that you'll see that it's not quite adequate. When you try to bring in today's technology and standards in to a 1931 building, it's rather challenging.

Reporter 1: It wasn't always like this. Twenty years ago nationally and in Lubbock, most defendants were released on their own recognizance, trusted to show back up. Now most defendants are given bail and most have to pay a bail bondsman to afford it.

Considering that the vast majority of non violent offenders released on their own recognizance have always shown up for trial, it seems like an easy solution for Lubbock. But that is not a solution Lubbock has chosen. County officials have instead decided to spend a hundred and ten million dollars on a brand new mega jail.

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Dean Becker: Again, an excellent series from NPR, All Things Considered. Wanted to share something with you about the city of Houston: In 2007 there were thirty-six thousand one hundred seventy-six candidates for PR bonds. Basically sign your name and get out of released. Of those interviewed, judges granted only one hundred fifty-three, a ratio of point four percent.

In Austin, Travis county they interviewed thirty-one thousand eight hundred seventy-seven candidates and granted nineteen thousand two hundred eighteen, approximately sixty percent. So in essence it's a hundred and forty times more likely you'll stay behind bars in Harris County than you would in our sister city of Austin.

You may remember that last week I prepared a three minute speech for the Houston city council and mayor. When I was done, they said absolutely nothing. I understand they are going to be choosing a new police chief and perhaps they want to remain silent for now. But I have a little message for the Houston and all city councils across America.

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Ladies and Gentlemen this is the Abolitionist's Moment.

Prohibition is an awful flop. We like it. It can't stop what it's meant to stop. We like it. It's left a trail of graft and slime. It don't prohibit worth a dime. It's filled out land with vice and crime. Nevertheless we're for it.

Franklin Adams, 1931. Through a willing or silent embrace of drug war we are ensuring more death, disease, crime and addiction. Some have prospered from the policy of drug prohibition and dare not allow their stance taken to be examined in a new light. But for the rest, ignorance and superstition will eventually be forgiven. But what Houston has done in the name of drug war will never be forgotten.

Please visit endprohibition.org. Do it for the children.

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Dean Becker: Well that's about it. I hope you enjoyed this edition of Cultural Baggage and that you'll tune in to Century of Lies which follows next on many of the Drug Truth Network stations. This week COL features interviews with Micah Daigle of Students for Sensible Drug Policy as well as with Allison Holcom of the ACLU of Washington state. Please tune in. And once again I remind you that because of prohibition you don't know hell nobody knows what's in that bag. Please be careful.

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To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT Houston.

Tap dancing on the edge of an abyss...