Irish Authorities Seize Over $3 Million Worth of Weed at Dublin Port

Law enforcement officials in Ireland on Sunday seized hundreds of pounds in “herbal cannabis” at a Dublin port, leading to the arrest of “a man in his 40s.” 

According to a press release from the Irish Tax and Customs, revenue officers in the country “seized approximately 142kgs of herbal cannabis with an estimated value of €2.84 million at Dublin Port.” (That breaks down to about 313 pounds and $3.06 million).

“The illicit drugs were discovered when Revenue officers stopped and searched a vehicle which had arrived from France. A man in his 40s was arrested by An Garda Síochána [the national police service of Ireland] and is currently detained under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act 1996 at a Garda Station in Dublin,” the customs and tax office said, noting that investigations remain “ongoing.” 

The release said that the seizure was “part of Revenue’s ongoing joint investigations targeting organised crime groups and the importation, sale and supply of illegal drugs,” and the agency urged any “businesses, or members of the public” to come forward if they “have any information regarding drug smuggling.” 

An Garda Síochána orchestrated a similar bust on Friday in south Dublin. As part of an intelligence operation, officers “seized approximately 16kgs of herbal cannabis with an estimated value of €316,000,” which was “made as a result of a joint operation involving Revenue’s Customs Service, the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) and the Terenure District Drugs Unit.”

“A woman in her 30s was arrested by An Garda Síochána and is currently detained under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act 1996 at a Garda Station in South Dublin. Investigations are ongoing,” the tax and customs office said in a press release.

And on Thursday, revenue officers “seized approximately 54kgs of herbal cannabis with an estimated value of €1,080,000 in Dublin.”

‘“The seizure was made as a result of a joint operation conducted by Revenue’s Customs Service, the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) and the DMR North Central Divisional Drug Unit,” the press release said.

Recreational cannabis is illegal in Ireland, as per An Garda Síochána’s official website: “It is an offence to cultivate, import, export, produce, supply and possess cannabis except in accordance with a Ministerial Licence. Policy to date has not permitted the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes and no licences have been issued for this activity.”

The website notes that the Irish government “has no plans to legalise cannabis.” 

There are reform-minded Irish lawmakers who would like to end the prohibition, however. Last year, a bill was introduced in Irish parliament that sought to legalize cannabis for “adults of at least 18 years of age to possess up to 7 grams of cannabis or 2.5 grams of cannabis resin (hashish),” according to Forbes.

The bill did not “include the sale of cannabis products or the cultivation of cannabis plants for personal use,” according to Forbes, which means that “cannabis users will likely continue to purchase cannabis from the illegal market.”

If the bill were to pass and become law, it would change the so-called Misuse of Drug Act, the 1977 law that enshrined the prohibition on cannabis in Ireland.

The post Irish Authorities Seize Over $3 Million Worth of Weed at Dublin Port appeared first on High Times.

How Does Drug Smuggling Work?

Drug smuggling. It is a global phenomenon that has plagued societies for decades, yet many of us don’t actually know what it is or how it works. To put it simply, it is a multi-billion dollar industry that involves the transportation, distribution, and sale of illegal drugs. Smugglers use various methods to move illegal substances across borders, including hiding them in vehicles, shipping containers, and even the human body.

The complexity of drug smuggling operations makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies to apprehend the culprits and curb the flow of illegal drugs. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at how drug smuggling works.

What is Drug Trafficking? 

Drug trafficking refers to the illegal transportation, distribution, and sale of illegal drugs. This can include a wide range of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and synthetic drugs like fentanyl. Drug trafficking often involves organized crime networks, who engage in the production, distribution, and sale of drugs, often across international borders.

Regardless of the morality behind it, it is certainly a lucrative business, with estimates suggesting that the global drug trade is worth billions of dollars each year. It is believed to be a 32 billion dollar industry. However, the consequences of drug trafficking can be devastating, fueling violence, corruption, and addiction, and contributing to health problems and social dislocation.

As such, drug trafficking is a serious global problem that requires ongoing efforts to combat. Drug smuggling, essentially the same concept, looks into the specifics of how drug traffickers get their substances across. We’re going to be looking at their methods and how it works. 

The History

First let’s look into the history of this phenomenon. Whilst some believe drug trafficking is a recent activity – created by Mafioso-like groups – the truth is that it has been a global problem for centuries. The history of drug trafficking dates back to ancient times, with evidence of opium cultivation and consumption dating back to the Neolithic period in the Mediterranean region.

Over time, the trade of drugs has become increasingly sophisticated, with new drugs and methods of smuggling emerging regularly. Opium has been one of the most commonly trafficked drugs throughout history. In ancient times, opium was used for medicinal purposes and was even considered a cure-all for various ailments. However, as the demand for opium grew, it became a valuable commodity that was traded across borders. The opium trade reached its peak during the 19th century. YAMI 2 writes:

“Drug trafficking was not invented by a mafia but by the European colonial powers in the 19th century. While they were spreading opium throughout Asia, the pharmaceutical industry discovered miraculous products: morphine, cocaine, heroin. Addiction becomes a worldwide scourge.”

The 20th century then saw the emergence of new drugs, including cocaine and heroin. Cocaine, derived from the coca plant, was first synthesized in the late 19th century and quickly became a popular drug in the United States. Heroin, on the other hand, was first synthesized from morphine in the late 19th century and was used as a painkiller during World War II. It became a popular recreational drug in the 1960s and 1970s, leading to a surge in trafficking and addiction.

The emergence of new technologies and globalization has also changed the drug trafficking landscape. The internet has made it easier for people to access drugs and has allowed for the creation of new synthetic drugs. The rise of globalization has also led to an increase in drug trafficking, as drugs can be transported more easily across borders. The consequences of drug trafficking are significant.

The drug trade fuels violence and corruption, undermines economic development, and contributes to health problems and social dislocation. Governments have attempted to combat drug trafficking through a variety of means, including law enforcement, education, and treatment programs. However, the persistence of drug trafficking highlights the challenges of addressing a global problem that is deeply ingrained in society.

The Steps of Drug Smuggling

Whilst everyone is aware of drug trafficking, not everyone understands how it works and what the methods actually are. Drug smuggling is a complex and sophisticated operation that involves the illegal transportation of drugs across national borders. The process of drug smuggling typically involves several steps, each of which requires careful planning and execution. We’re going to take a look at these. Don’t try this at home!

Thank you for stopping in. Head over to the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter for direct updates; and get access to awesome deals on cannabis buds, vapes, edibles, smoking devices and equipment, cannabinoid compounds, and some psychedelic products! Go get high responsibly!

Step 1: Production

The first step in drug smuggling is the production of drugs. You gotta make the stuff first, right? This can involve the cultivation of plants, such as coca leaves, opium poppies, or cannabis, or the synthesis of chemicals to create synthetic drugs like methamphetamine or MDMA. The production of drugs typically occurs in countries where drug laws are less stringent or where drug production is not adequately regulated. For example, cocaine is primarily produced in countries like Colombia and Peru, while Afghanistan is the largest producer of opium. Once the product is made, the next step is to consider how it’s going to be taken to its next location. 

Step 2: Transportation

The second step in drug smuggling is transportation. The transportation of substances typically occurs – as you can imagine – through several different routes. These include: air, sea, and land. Air transportation is the most common method for transporting drugs across international borders. Drugs can be smuggled in cargo holds, or they can be transported on commercial or private aircraft. Sea transportation is another common method for transporting drugs, with drugs hidden in containers or smuggled in fishing boats or other small vessels. Finally, land transportation involves the use of vehicles or human couriers to transport drugs across borders. This can sometimes be the most long, arduous and dangerous.

Step 3: Concealment

The third step in drug smuggling is concealment. This is probably the most disturbing part of the whole process. To avoid detection by law enforcement authorities, drug smugglers typically conceal the drugs in various ways. For example, drugs may be hidden in shipments of legitimate goods, such as fruit or electronics, or concealed in false compartments in vehicles. However, drugs can also be hidden in the bodies of human beings – these individuals are usually known as ‘drug mules’. They are one of many victims in the whole drug smuggling business, usually blackmailed or forced into it. Alternatively, someone may become a drug mule due to their desperate economic situation. The UNODC writes:

The victims are made to swallow balloons containing illicit drugs and are then transported across borders.  Once they have reached their destination, these balloons are retrieved from the victim’s body. The balloons are made with multilayered condoms and are often force fed to the victim. The victim’s mouth can also be sprayed with anesthesia, enabling them to swallow up to 120 balloons.”

Step 4: Border crossing

The fourth step in drug smuggling is crossing the border. This can be one of the most challenging steps in the process, as it requires passing through customs and border control checkpoints. Smugglers often use a variety of methods to evade detection, such as bribing border officials or using false documentation. In some cases, smugglers may use remote or less heavily trafficked border crossings to avoid detection. This can mean taking longer routes, but if that’s what it takes, they’ll do it. 

Step 5: Distribution

The fifth step in drug smuggling is distribution. Once the drugs have crossed the border, they are typically transported to a local distribution network. In other words, the dealer’s boss gets their hands on the substances. These middlemen may break the drugs down into smaller quantities and distribute them to street-level dealers, who then sell the drugs to individual users.

Step 6: Consumption

The final step in drug smuggling is consumption. The drugs are ultimately consumed by the users in the end, who may use them for recreational or medicinal purposes. These individuals probably have no real idea of how their substances reached them, or how many people were harmed along the way. Like the majority of globalization, the customers would rather ignore all that. Nonetheless, the drugs are consumed and enjoyed. 


Drug smuggling and drug trafficking is a long process that, in a sense, follows the same sort of methods as any product. However, this specific journey is far more illegal. It is the avoidance of getting caught that means that many individuals are exploited and bribed along the way. Although, if you follow back the journey of any of the products that you use everyday, many of them may not lead to something you’ll like. Drug trafficking and the lack of knowledge around it highlights the problem we have in society. We consume and consume, but very few really ask where the thing we are consuming came from.

Thanks for joining us! Welcome to; where we work daily to bring you the very best in cannabis and psychedelics news reporting. Head our way frequently to stay in-the-loop, and sign up for the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter, so you’re never late to get a story.

The post How Does Drug Smuggling Work? appeared first on Cannadelics.

From the Archives: Return of the Lady Dealer (1975)

Many people met their first lady dealer in High Times #1, when we interviewed “Lynne,” a young New York City artist whose frank statements on dope, dealing and sexism caused a flurry of letters to the editor and, apparently, considerable controversy in households and dealing pads across the country.

Then, a year-and-a-half ago, a lady dealer seemed like an unusual creature. Now, the women’s liberation movement has fostered a new force on the dope marketing scene: a growing army of lady dealers. Able to move through all levels of society and across borders at the donning of a skirt, lady dealers are gaining new independence from a business once dominated by men—and more and more women are dealing with other women.

A woman can deal dope as well as the next guy, it seems, and her clientele has been readied by years of “consciousness raising.” Lynne is a veteran of all this, and like many other lady dealers, she is gradually coming into her own. Dealing allows her to do things and see things that would otherwise have been off limits. To a young woman who wants financial independence, dealing has the lure of quick money, good weed and incredible freedom.

Despite the controversy of our last interview, we invited Lynne back into the pages of High Times to talk once again about her life and the phenomenon of the lady dealer.

High Times: How is your life different now from a year ago?

Lynne: Well, last year I was still spinning from my split-up with a man. Since then I’ve become much more confident and secure about being on my own. I’m living in a new place, a totally anonymous apartment building uptown. I’ve changed my name. But I’m still doing the same thing—dealing.

On the same level?

Strangely enough, yes. For a while I was dealing five, ten, and twenty pound lots. Then the supply dried up, and now I’m back to dealing singles and fives. And, of course, ounces to those people I choose to bother with. My friends.

Any hassles with the police?

Not directly. I was working for an association that got busted, but I wasn’t there the night the raid came down. So I was safe.

What do you mean by an association?

This was a warehouse where assorted dealers would come and either buy or sell. Sort of a commodities exchange. I was a broker.

What did your duties entail?

Taking orders, filling them, counting the money, recording the transaction, and the usual social amenities that any broker has to go through with a client.

Did you like working for the association?

I loved it. I’ve never seen so much dope, of all kinds, in my life. And as an employee, I was able to get it at a substantial discount.

Did you encounter sex discrimination in your work for the association?

Generally speaking, no. The association itself treated men and women as equally as they could. Some of the people we dealt with were pretty fucked up, though.

For example?

One time I went to deliver a sample to a dealer. He took it but refused to consummate the deal with me, because he said he didn’t deal with women. I went back and told the chairman of the association, and he called up the dude and told him that we wouldn’t deal with anyone on that basis and that he’d have to deal with association women or be cut off. The dude quickly changed his mind.

It sounds like the association was pretty powerful.

Not really. They were relatively small—even their weights were small—but they were well organized. It was a business of the future. It was fun working with them.

What happened to them?

After the raid, which was brought down by an accident of some type, the association dissolved.

How has the dope supply been lately?

It’s been harder and harder to get. Sometimes the price jumps a hundred dollars a pound in one day! I can’t get weight any more, even though I have excellent connections. But I’ve learned not to judge my success by the amount of weight I move. The amount of money I’m making is the real index of success, and the time and hassle it takes. I’m much more pleasure-oriented now instead of success-oriented.

Why’s that?

Because I think now I have more security, more confidence in my ability to survive. Knowing, really knowing and accepting that my survival is covered. I can lay back and reevaluate my scene.

What has this meant in your case?

For one thing, I’ve cut off a lot of people who were annoyances to me. People who had psychological problems that surfaced in the way they dealt with me. You know, picky people, people who tried to cut corners, pull little ripoffs, people who didn’t pay their debts—I consider this kind of behavior a manifestation of psychological problems.

Another way that I have changed my scene is that I don’t let dealing dominate my life the way it used to. People used to call me at all hours of the day and night. I waited and kept other people waiting for hours—there were constant phone calls back and forth about availabilities, prices, descriptions, delivery arrangements and so on. Now, I refuse to even talk on the phone. People come over, bring money, do a transaction on the spot. If I tell them to come over, then I have the stuff. If I don’t call them, they’re instructed not to bother me unless they have something to sell. As you might imagine, it’s sort of a seller’s market, so I can get away with this. Which is good, because before, my whole life was built around dealing. Now I deal only in the mid-evening, and never on weekends. I find that I move much more dope in the long run at much greater profit, with minimum hassle, no incriminating phone calls. I have now put dealing in proper perspective—it’s an important part of my life, but not all pervasive. I spend a lot more money on myself, rather than reinvesting it in “the business,” and I try to plan ahead to have nothing but a good time.

Do you think women have been feeling this dope shortage more than men?

Well, it’s probably true that women have had less dope to deal and smoke lately than men, but men feel the pinch more. They need it to boost their egos and to treat their girls.

Are women doing anything to alleviate the shortage?

In my own case, I have arranged with several other women to score weed for me and transport it back here to the city. One of them sits on the source of supply, another one does the courier service, and I do the selling.

I also understand that you’re putting a smuggling trip together.

I’m trying. I’ve hired a captain, and crew who have a boat, and I picked up a connection in Jamaica. All we’re waiting for now is all the pieces to line up.

If it works out, maybe we can do an interview with a lady smuggler.

Either that or a lady inmate.

Do you think there are more women dealers now than two years ago?



The same reason there are more women working in all other areas, plus one additional reason. Women are locked out of many conventional jobs. Many women are forced to work far below their natural level, but in dealing, you can go as far as you’re able.

Are you saying there’s no sexism in dealing?

Of course not. In fact, dealing is one of the last preserves of machodom. The fact that it’s a crime puts so many guys on a Bogart trip, and after all it is the, you know, underworld—the dealing scene is never entirely free of plain violent human misfits that really need all that secrecy and sense of danger. But women can deal to other women, you know. And there are many, many dealers who are glad to buy and sell with anybody who has good weed at good prices. The outlaw nature of the business makes us all outlaws together, and there is a camaraderie that transcends, for the moment, the sexist conditioning we’re all given. It’s nice.

Have you encountered any violence in the last year?

No physical violence, although plenty of mental violence.

What do you mean by mental violence?

Oh, I guess I mean people who do cruel things that are just as unjust, destructive and intense as a smack in the mouth, like being ripped off in the middle of the night for dope.

How do you deal with violence? What would you do if someone tried to rape you in the middle of a deal?

What would you do?

It’s never happened to me.

Me either. I think I’d throw up.

Do you have any way of protecting yourself? Karate? A gun?

No, the only thing I would use would be something incapacitating but nonviolent. I have a can of mace I carry in my purse. I’ve never had to use it. Any scene that looks like trouble. I get away from it. There are too many safe and honest scenes to bother with fucked up people.

Do you ever deal anything besides smoke?

No. I like cocaine, and I do it occasionally, but I won’t deal it. The people into it are usually pretty heavy, and so are the laws, the cops and the judges. I don’t need it, so I don’t take any risk I don’t have to.

How about other kinds of dope?

Mushrooms occasionally. I used to deal speed very heavily in the mid-Sixties, but no more. No. I’m a weed dealer.

Do you think dealers smoke better weed than the public?

There’s no question about it. The dealers are by definition closer to the source of supply, and there’s an extremely limited supply of the very best smoke, and it’s so expensive that few people other than dealers can afford it. Little of the connoisseur-level stuff gets to the public. I know that I smoke much better stuff than my nondealer friends, unless they bought it from me. On the other hand, my main connection probably smokes better stuff than I do.

Has it been harder to get where you are because you’re a woman?

For sure, but it’s not nearly as rough in dealing as it is in the art world. It’s much better, now that I have some capital, than it was a year ago, when I needed credit fronted. I still see men getting better deals than me, and getting preference in choice and so on, but smart businessmen don’t fuck with me.

Do women deal differently than men?

Yes. I think they’re into accuracy more. They live more by the code, because they have no protection except their honesty.

Haven’t you ever heard of lady dealers who were into violence?

I’ve heard of instances of women taking on violence, but never of women initiating it. The only time I personally know of a lady involved in violence, it was an offshoot of a deal her old man had made.

Do you think marijuana causes violence?

(Laughter) Only in bed. Have you ever noticed how much sexuality there is in pot smoking? You know, two men passing a cigarette back and forth, their hands touching, sucking on the joint, staring at each other. It’s a very sensual situation, and I think one of the reasons dope smoking is popular is that it creates a sensual setting that is socially acceptable. Men can get into each other in a human way without being called queers. In dealing, gay people seem to be very accepted, for example.

It’s a form of oral gratification.

Right. I consider it pure pleasure to smoke good weed, and it enables me to get down with both men and women.

Are you bisexual?

Not yet.

Did that interview with you in High Times have much effect on your life?

Very few of my friends knew it was me, so it had no effect in that manner. I mean, I could have been a minor celebrity if I had wanted to be uncool, but I plan to stay in business, and people who do that don’t advertise, at least not under their real names. But it had a definite effect on me. I think seeing myself in print made what I was doing more real and therefore more satisfying and easier to get a grip on. I’ve learned a lot from High Times in the last year, too. I appreciate the fact that High Times seems to be trying to address itself to women as well as men.

Would you want your children to be dealers?

If I had children, I wouldn’t object, but I think that marijuana will be legal by then. Other things may not be legal, and I hope my children will do what they consider moral rather than what the laws dictate. I do.

Are you opposed to the social system as it now exists?

Definitely. And dealing shows my opposition. I feel that as long as I’m opposing the system, I might as well be getting paid for it. In dealing I can do that, but I’d do it for nothing if that’s what it took to spread marijuana around. I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to say that marijuana is good for society, but I certainly feel that the suppression of marijuana is bad for society.

High Times Magazine, Dec/Jan 1975

Read the full issue here.

The post From the Archives: Return of the Lady Dealer (1975) appeared first on High Times.

Four Americans Convicted in U.K. Smuggling Case

Four U.S. nationals have been convicted of smuggling cannabis into the United Kingdom and now face time behind bars for their crimes, according to statements made by law enforcement officials. The convictions follow a rash of marijuana smuggling attempts made last month at London’s Heathrow Airport that resulted in the arrests of nine Americans in the span of a week.

On Friday, the U.K.’s National Crime Agency (NCA) announced that three Americans were convicted of charges of importing class B drugs. In one case, 24-year-old Barrington Walters of Los Angeles, and Mandy Silowka, 34, of Princeton, New Jersey, were detained at Heathrow Airport by Border Force personnel after arriving on the same United Airlines flight from Los Angeles International Airport on January 17. Officers discovered 33 kilos (more than 72 pounds) of herbal cannabis in luggage belonging to Walters and another 26.5 kilos (more than 58 pounds) of weed in Silowka’s suitcase.

The pair were interviewed by NCA investigators and subsequently charged with importing class B drugs. On February 23, Silowka and Walters admitted their roles in the smuggling plot at Isleworth Crown Court in London and were convicted of the charges against them. Silowka received a 12-month custodial sentence, and Walters was given a 10-month jail term.

The next day, Kiara Lanee Malone, 31, a clothing boutique owner from St. Louis, Missouri, also pleaded guilty to charges of importing class B drugs. Following her conviction in Isleworth Crown Court on Friday, she was remanded into custody and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 5.

Malone was arrested at Heathrow Airport on January 10 after arriving on a flight from Los Angeles when Border Force officers discovered 27.5 kilos (just over 60 pounds) of cannabis in her luggage. Malone told investigators that she was traveling to the U.K. for cosmetic procedures and admitted to bringing the bags, but said that she had been given the luggage by another person and thought that they contained clothing.

“These cases serve as further warnings to those who think they can get away with smuggling drugs into the U.K.,” NCA Heathrow Branch Commander Andy Noyes said in a statement from the law enforcement agency on February 24. “No matter what you might get told by those organizing these trips, you will get caught, and as these individuals will tell you, you will face jail time. The NCA and our partners in Border Force are determined to do all we can to target drugs couriers, and disrupt the international organized crime groups involved in drug trafficking.”

Last week’s cases followed the conviction of U.S. national Zered Akolo, a 26-year-old photographer from Antioch, California who was arrested at Heathrow Airport shortly after arriving on a flight from Los Angeles on January 16. Border Force officers searched his two checked bags and found 47 kilos (more than 103 pounds) of cannabis. Despite having luggage tags bearing his name, Akolo initially told investigators that the bags were not his. 

After questioning by NCA investigators, he was charged with attempting to import class B drugs. At a hearing at Isleworth Crown Court on Thursday, February 16, Akolo pleaded guilty to importing class B drugs and was sentenced to 32 months in prison.

“Akolo was foolish in the extreme to think he could get away with a brazen drug smuggling trip like this. As a result he faces a long period of time away from friends and family in a British jail,” Noyes said in a statement from the NCA on February 16. “I hope this case serves as a warning to others who would consider acting as drug mules for organized criminal gangs – it isn’t worth taking the chance.”

Nine Americans Arrested On Smuggling Charges In January

The convictions follow the arrests of nine Americans on drug smuggling charges at Heathrow Airport in just one week’s time in January. The smuggling attempts came as government officials engaged in a renewed debate over cannabis policy in the U.K. In July of last year, then-Home Secretary Priti Patel announced proposed new sanctions on users of cannabis and other drugs that include the confiscation of driver’s licenses and passports under a new three-strikes policy for illicit drug use. 

“Drugs are a scourge across society. They devastate lives and tear communities apart,” Patel said in a statement from the government. “Drug misuse puts lives at risk, fuels criminality and serious and violent crime and also results in the grotesque exploitation of young, vulnerable people.”

Under the proposal, which was detailed in a white paper drafted by the Home Office, those caught with illegal recreational drugs would face fines and mandatory drug education. They could also be banned from nightclubs and other entertainment venues.

Three months later, U.K. Home Secretary Suella Braverman revealed that she was considering tightening the classification of cannabis under the nation’s drug laws over concerns that marijuana is a gateway drug and can lead to serious health problems. Braverman’s review followed calls from law enforcement leaders to reclassify cannabis as a Class A drug, the same category assigned to substances including heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy.

But then last month, a group of police chiefs in the United Kingdom announced a plan to effectively decriminalize the possession of drugs including cannabis and cocaine. If adopted by the government, the use and possession of small amounts of recreational drugs would be treated as a public health issue for first-time offenders, rather than a criminal offense subject to prosecution and jail time or other punishment.

The proposals, which were developed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing, would effectively decriminalize the possession of Class A drugs including cocaine and Class B substances such as marijuana. Under the plan, individuals caught with illegal drugs would be offered an opportunity to attend drug education or treatment programs, rather than being subjected to prosecution.

The post Four Americans Convicted in U.K. Smuggling Case appeared first on High Times.

9 Americans Arrested for Smuggling Weed Into the U.K.

The United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency revealed on Tuesday that a total of nine Americans have been arrested in the span of one week for attempting to smuggle cannabis into the island nation. The law enforcement agency is now investigating to determine if there is a link between the failed attempts to illegally import marijuana from California to the U.K.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) noted that nine individuals, all United States nationals, have been arrested since last week while trying to carry cannabis from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to London’s Heathrow Airport. All of those arrested have been charged with carrying between 30 and 50 kilograms (about 56 to 110 pounds) of cannabis in their checked baggage.

“We are working to understand how these seizures are connected, however to get this many off the same route in such a short period of time is clearly very unusual,” NCA senior investigation officer Darren Barr said in a statement from the agency. 

Courtesy National Crime Agency

9 Pot Seizures In One Week

The first seizure was made on Tuesday, January 10, when a passenger arriving at Heathrow from LAX was arrested after the Border Force found about 30 kilos of cannabis in the traveler’s luggage. Three days later, another seizure was made on Friday, followed by an additional two interdictions on Saturday. Cannabis from LAX was seized at Heathrow four more times on Sunday, while the most recent smuggling attempt to be thwarted occurred on Monday, January 16.

In all, about 340 kilograms (nearly 750 pounds) of marijuana were seized in the nine seizures at Heathrow over the week. All nine American nationals arrested have been charged with attempting to import class B drugs into the country and have been remanded into custody pending appearances in court.

Officials estimated the street value of the “herbal cannabis” at more than £5.5 million, or about $6.8 million, although law enforcement agencies have been known to make inflated estimates of the value of seized drugs. 

The NCA official warned that the suspects charged in the smuggling cases face steep penalties if they are found guilty. Convictions for importing class B drugs into the U.K. can carry unlimited fines and prison sentences of up to 14 years.

“Drugs couriers face stiff sentences so I’d urge anyone considering getting involved in such ventures to think very carefully about the consequences,” Barr noted. “Alongside partners like Border Force we are determined to do all we can to disrupt the organized crime groups involved in international drug trafficking.”

Steve Dann, the chief operating officer of the Border Force, praised the work of customs officials for their role in preventing the seized cannabis from entering the country.

“Drugs fuel violence and chaos on the streets and inflict suffering in communities across the U.K. Thanks to the work by Border Force, these dangerous drugs were stopped from reaching Britain’s streets and causing significant harm to our neighborhoods,” said Dann. “This seizure demonstrates the successful joint partnership between the Border Force and NCA, as well as our common commitment to keep our communities safe and smash the illegal drugs trade.”

Courtesy National Crime Agency

U.K. Cannabis Policy Under Debate

The marijuana seizures at Heathrow Airport come as government officials engage in a renewed debate over cannabis policy in the U.K. In July of last year, then-Home Secretary Priti Patel announced proposed new sanctions on users of cannabis and other drugs that include the confiscation of driver’s licenses and passports under a new three-strikes policy for illicit drug use. 

“Drugs are a scourge across society. They devastate lives and tear communities apart,” Patel said in a statement from the government. “Drug misuse puts lives at risk, fuels criminality and serious and violent crime and also results in the grotesque exploitation of young, vulnerable people.”

Under the proposal, which was detailed in a white paper drafted by the Home Office, those caught with illegal recreational drugs would face fines and mandatory drug education. They could also be banned from nightclubs and other entertainment venues.

Three months later, U.K. Home Secretary Suella Braverman revealed that she was considering tightening the classification of cannabis under the nation’s drug laws over concerns that marijuana is a gateway drug and can lead to serious health problems. Braverman’s review followed calls from law enforcement leaders to reclassify cannabis as a Class A drug, the same category assigned to substances including heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy.

But then last month, a group of police chiefs in the United Kingdom announced a plan to effectively decriminalize the possession of drugs including cannabis and cocaine. If adopted by the government, the use and possession of small amounts of recreational drugs would be treated as a public health issue for first-time offenders, rather than a criminal offense subject to prosecution and jail time or other punishment.

The proposals, which were developed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing, would effectively decriminalize the possession of Class A drugs including cocaine and Class B substances such as marijuana. Under the plan, individuals caught with illegal drugs would be offered an opportunity to attend drug education or treatment programs, rather than being subjected to prosecution. 

The post 9 Americans Arrested for Smuggling Weed Into the U.K. appeared first on High Times.

Nigerian Customs Authorities Seize Nearly 600 Pounds of Weed

Customs authorities in Nigeria announced this week that a patrol had intercepted nearly 600 pounds of cannabis along a busy highway in the central part of the West African nation. Niger/Kogi Comptroller Busayo Kadejo said on Tuesday that 317 packages totaling 263.6 kilograms (more than 581 pounds) of illicit marijuana had been seized by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS). 

Following the seizure, the cannabis was handed over to Barrister Haruna Kwetishe, the Niger State Commander of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), in Minna, the capital of Niger state. 

The cannabis was discovered by an Area Command of the Customs Service patrol along the busy highway between the cities of Lokoja and Abuja in the central region of Nigeria. Kadejo noted that the suspected cannabis smugglers had fled after abandoning the truck carrying the marijuana and were still at large.

Cannabis is illegal in Nigeria, with penalties for possession of marijuana ranging from 12 years behind bars to life in prison for large-scale trafficking. Despite the risk, however, cannabis is one of the most popular illicit drugs in the country, and Nigeria is one of the largest West African producers of illicit marijuana.

Following the discovery, Kadejo commended the work of the customs officers that resulted in the seizure of the cannabis. But he also noted that illicit drugs have become deeply ingrained in Nigerian society.

“This occasion has come with a dual feeling and sadness and joy in my heart. First and foremost is the fact that some people are working tirelessly to build this nation while others are engaged in acts that are inimical to the development of the same country,” said Kadejo. “I am glad that due to the diligent application of self to duty, our officials were able to intercept these illicit packages. If the packages had escaped our eyes, they would have helped in the execution and sustenance of crimes such as banditry, kidnapping, thuggery and other social services.”

Suspected Smugglers On The Run

Noting that the suspected cannabis smugglers had escaped and fled into the bush after their truck was stopped by customs officers, Kadejo warned area residents to be alert for their presence. He also said that the NCS is determined to put cannabis smugglers in the country out of business.

“I strongly feel it is important that as the general elections are drawing closer, it is the responsibility of all and sundry to be at alert and report suspicious activities to law enforcement agencies,” Kadejo said. 

The local comptroller noted that he had received the approval of the Comptroller General of the Customs to transfer the seized cannabis to the Niger state command of the NDLEA, adding that “this shows the synergy that exists between the Nigeria Customs Service and the NDLEA.”

After accepting the seized cannabis, Kwetishe commended the customs service and said that the marijuana would be destroyed so it would not make its way to the illicit market.

“What the Customs has done is a clear case of synergy between the security agencies. It is a great job that the Customs have done,” said Kwetishe. “It has reassured us that Nigeria as a country is a project for everybody not necessarily for the security agencies. Anyone with information should call our attention to it and it will save lives.”

The NDLEA state commander also noted that any politicians using cannabis as an incentive to gain the support of young people in upcoming elections would be jailed until after ballots are cast.

“We assure the society that we will make Nigeria safe. Particularly in this period where drugs are used to ginger thuggery. I want to warn politicians that anybody in Niger state that wants to use drugs in this political era, NDLEA is able and ready to reign you in,” Kwetishe warned. “We will arrest you. You may not even see the elections. We will keep you till after the elections.” 

The post Nigerian Customs Authorities Seize Nearly 600 Pounds of Weed appeared first on High Times.

Drug-Carrying Pigeon in Canadian Prison Yard

In a scheme straight out of the Middle Ages, authorities at the Pacific Institution in Abbotsford, a correctional facility about 50 miles away from Vancouver, “reported capturing a pigeon carrying a tiny backpack filled with illicit drugs” in the prison yard late last month, according to Yahoo.

Yahoo reports that a “tiny fabric backpack tied to the pigeon contained crystal meth,” and that guards at the prison “spotted the bird and its cargo on Dec. 29 in one of the facility’s recreation yards.”

“It was spotted by correctional officers, I believe, and security intelligence officers when the officers were doing their standard patrols around and throughout the unit and institution, that’s when they initially spotted the bird with the package on it,” John Randle, a spokesperson for the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, said, as quoted by Yahoo. “The officers then set up a trap to capture it.”

The Canadian Broadcasting Company has more on the daring capture: 

“Officers were standing in one of the fenced inmate unit yards, which prisoners use regularly for hanging out, playing games or just getting some fresh air. Then the officers noticed something strange: a grey bird with a small package on its back. ‘From my understanding, it was tied to it in a similar fashion as like a little backpack,’ Randle said. The officers moved in. ‘They had to corner it,’ Randle said. ‘You can imagine how that would look, trying to catch a pigeon.’ After ‘a lengthy period of time,’ the officers apprehended the bird, removed its cargo and set it free. Randle said the package contained about 30 grams of crystal meth, which he described as a ‘fairly substantial’ amount of the intensely addictive stimulant. ‘It’s definitely scary with the fact that it was crystal meth that was found on the bird, because that causes a whole lot of problems,’ he added. Corrections Canada confirmed in an email it is investigating, but would not provide further details.”

There is precedent for this sort of fowl play.

In 2017, customs officials in Kuwait captured a pigeon that was also carrying drugs in a miniature backpack.

“A total of 178 pills were found in the fabric pocket attached to its back,” the BBC reported at the time, citing the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Ra’i.

“The bird was caught near the customs building in Abdali, close to the border with Iraq,” the BBC said. “An al-Rai journalist said the drugs were a form of ketamine, an anaesthetic also used as an illegal party drug. Abdullah Fahmi told the BBC that customs officials already knew pigeons were being used to smuggle drugs, but this was the first time they had caught a bird in the act.”

There was a similar story out of Argentina that same year, with police there shooting and killing “a carrier pigeon as it flew into a prison, then found a stash of cannabis and other contraband in a tiny backpack sewn to its feathers,” the British newspaper The Independent reported at the time.

“Officers at the Colonia jail in Santa Rosa, La Pampa, became suspicious after noticing the bird flying back and forth into the building over a number of days,” the newspaper reported. “After downing it, they discovered 7.5 grams of cannabis as well as 44 pills of the sedative Rivotril and a USB stick.”

“The method is also the most common way to sneak drugs into the Federal Penitentiary jail in Buenos Aires, the authorities said,” The Independent added.

The post Drug-Carrying Pigeon in Canadian Prison Yard appeared first on High Times.

Arizona Jail Detention Officer Arrested for Dealing Meth, Fentanyl

Drugs on demand, straight from a jail guard, were shut down by the sheriff at the Lower Buckeye Jail in Phoenix, Arizona.

According to Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, a detention officer was arrested for attempting to bring methamphetamine and fentanyl into the Lower Buckeye Jail in Phoenix, Arizona.

Fox 10 reports that detention officer Andres Salazar faces several drug-related felony counts. A money exchange took place in the parking lot of the jail before Salazar attempted to bring a package containing about 100 pills into the jail.

“This was an ongoing investigation,” Penzone said at a press conference on Jan. 11. “This detention officer was hired in October 2019, recently worked with inmates and some folks on the outside, and attempted to bring fentanyl and methamphetamine into the jail.”

Salazar apparently wasn’t very good at it, a regrettable choice that will impact his future. “We have strong reason to believe this was his first attempt,” the sheriff said.

“This young man, whatever led him to make this decision, will now not only lose his career, but most likely the future that he has for himself is definitely going to be hindered in an adverse way,” Penzone said.

The drug problem is bad: In Maricopa County jails in 2022, 172 inmates were taken to the hospital for overdose or drug-related incidents; 17 in-custody deaths were caused by an overdose, or drugs were a major contributing factor to the deaths; 194 inmates tested positive for some type of drug through a urine sample; and 114 of those inmates tested positive for fentanyl specifically.

The County says that 150 inmate postcards were intercepted in the mailroom that tested positive for being soaked in fentanyl and/or methamphetamine. “Since October 2022, 1,503 detention officers, sergeants and lieutenants were trained to deploy Narcan,” the sheriff said.

A Pattern in the U.S. Criminal Justice System

This kind of thing isn’t unheard of in the criminal justice system: In 2021, Marc Antrim, a former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, was sentenced for orchestrating a fake drug raid, stealing over half a ton of cannabis and $600,000 in cash from a warehouse. 

Three South Carolina prison guards were arrested in 2018 for smuggling drugs and other contraband into two different correctional institutions. In one of those incidents, a guard attempted to smuggle in 143 grams, or about five ounces of pot into a detention center.

Think that drugs are out of reach in the prison and jail systems? Think again: According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, there are “high” rates of substance use within the criminal justice system. Specifically, some research shows that an estimated 65% percent of the United States prison population has an “active substance abuse disorder,” and they have to get those drugs from somewhere. It’s one of the best arguments to say that drugs won the War on Drugs.

Maricopa County, however, is tackling the problem with some new changes.

Maricopa County Fights Drugs, Corruption in Jail

Penzone is now taking action proactively to prevent incidents like this from happening again under his watch. KTAR News reports that the sheriff announced scanning machines will soon be installed at jailhouses to detect drugs and other contraband entering and exiting the facilities, authorities announced Wednesday.

“I’m at a stage now where I think it’s not only important but appropriate that we purchase scanning machines so that every individual who enters our jail—whether it be staff/volunteers—anybody and everyone who enters into the secured population will be checked to determine if we can mitigate and intercept any potential contraband coming into the jail,” Penzone said.

“If we need to upgrade the entire system in the entire jail system, I’m willing to do that,” Penzone said. “But we’re going to find the one that is the most effective and put it in play in all of our jails as soon as possible.”

Drugs such as fentanyl and methamphetamine rank high in the danger level.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), fentanyl is the deadliest drug threat facing this nation. “In 2021, a record number of Americans—107,622—died from a drug poisoning or overdose,” the DEA release reads. “Sixty-six percent of those deaths can be attributed to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.”

The post Arizona Jail Detention Officer Arrested for Dealing Meth, Fentanyl appeared first on High Times.

Arrest of Albanian Official Accused of Drug Smuggling Causes Stir

The arrest of a senior Albanian government official suspected of using her status to smuggle drugs across the border continues to raise eyebrows. 

Erisa Fero, who serves as the IT director of the country’s top intelligence agency, was arrested “on the 29th of December in a remote, mountainous section of Albania near the border with North Macedonia as she was allegedly transporting 58kg of cannabis.”

“Albanian police said Fero was using her official government ID as a security official to avoid police checkpoints and searches. During the arrest, Fero’s reported romantic partner, Leke Basha, 30, and a 17-year-old suspect, were also detained for drug trafficking offences. Two suspects on the North Macedonian side of the border, believed to have been receiving the drugs, escaped after a long manhunt, according to police,” VICE reported, while also citing local media in noting that “police suspect those arrested in the incident, including Fero, of having links with organised crime gangs.”

It is apparently not the first time that Fero, 28, has been ensnared in scandal. 

According to the Greek City Times, Fero was “reported for illegality to the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), along with 21 other commissioners” in December of 2021 when she was “a member of a vote counting committee in a constituency.”

“However, the results of the votes were falsified in the Commission in which she participated, with the competent committee filing a complaint with the prosecutor’s office in Tirana against 21 commissioners, including Fero,” the outlet reported. “The young woman has been accused of participating in the manipulation of the April 25, 2021 elections, as well as removing or adding votes in favour of candidates of different parties.”

Recreational and medical cannabis are both prohibited in Albania.

According to the legal firm CMS, in 2000, “Albania joined the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, which is an international treaty that prohibits the use, production and trade of listed narcotics, except for medical treatments and research,” although “this part of the treaty for the medical use of cannabis has not been enforced by Albania.”

“In 1994, the Albanian government established the ‘Law of Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances’, and cannabis was included in the list of controlled drugs. On 27 January 1995, the criminal code of the Republic of Albania was created, and the usage, production and trade of narcotics was prohibited. Cannabis is not specifically listed however the government made clear that it falls within the definition of narcotics,” CMS explains. “According to Article 283 of the criminal code, the sale, offer for sale, giving or receiving of any form, distribution, trading, transport, sending, delivering, and keeping of narcotic and psychotropic substances and seeds of narcotic plants, in conflict with the law (excluding cases when it is for personal use and in small doses) is sentenced to imprisonment of from five to ten years.”

The arrest of a senior government official––as well as someone with alleged links to organized crime––comes at a politically inauspicious time for Albania.

As VICE noted in its report, the arrest of Fero “came as NATO member Albania pushes for a deeper relationship with the EU, including potential future membership.”

“Albania and other countries including Bulgaria and Romania have made significant gains in battling local organised crime and corruption in cooperation with the EU and NATO,” a senior EU security official said. “But this incident shows the difficulty in battling corruption in a patronage environment like Albania.”

VICE reported that the official “said with access to internal IT and information systems, Fero’s alleged crime links could lead to a high risk of intelligence being passed onto criminal gangs or hostile intelligence services.”

The post Arrest of Albanian Official Accused of Drug Smuggling Causes Stir appeared first on High Times.

From the Archives: Grass in the Joint (1981)

By Evan Dawes

I hadn’t seen David since I got sent down. He was waiting in the visitor’s room, looking like he was afraid he’d catch bad luck. We went through the preliminary how-you-beens, then I asked him if he’d brought me anything to smoke. He started. He reminded me of the many signs he’d driven by after passing the prison entrance that declared it a felony to bring alcohol, firearms or drugs onto the reservation. “And besides,” he said, “this is a prison. I mean, after all… uh, drugs? In the joint?”

I figured I’d have to show him how it was done. I indicated another prisoner a dozen yards away busily chatting with a pretty young woman. “Keep your eye on him,” I told him. “He’s about to go with something.” And sure enough, not ten minutes later, we watched him shove his arm down the back of his pants and rummage around. The second time this happened Dave asked me what was going on.

“See, he palms the balloons out of his ol’ lady’s bra, picks his shot when The Man isn’t lookin’, and keesters ’em, one at a time.”

Balloons? Keesters? “Yup” I grinned. “Up the ol’ rooty-poop chute, quick as a wink. No muss, no fuss, Burma Shave.”

Still tentative, Dave asked what the guy’s chances were. Did this happen often, or was it a one-shot deal?

“Just business as usual,” I assured him. “It’s probably weed, ‘cuz that’s the biggest seller. But that guy—I nodded at another inmate a bare ten feet away—he’ll be bringin’ in smack. Rougher crowd, y’know.”

Almost any high you can buy on the street is for sale in the yard too: pot and hash and ludes and smack and booze and glue and speed. Sometimes even a bit o’ the blow. LSD, too, if you’re of a mind. What’s more, The Man knows it. I was initially leery of writing about prison traffic, fearful I would be treated as an informer—by both inmates and authorities. And this article is definitely not intended to teach prison officials how to more effectively impede the flow of drugs into their institutions. But very few schemes escape the notice of prison officials for very long anyway usually due to the widespread use of informants. What is so heartening to the schemers, and frustrating to the officials, is that, short of a complete overhaul of the security systems in most prisons, there is little or nothing that can be done to stop this.

Most prisons in the United States follow a basic order of priorities: House the offender securely (which is to say “lock his ass up tight so society can sleep at night”); offer training for the offender so that he can return to society as a “productive member,” though oftentimes training programs are merely a guise to secure ever-larger budgets; and—more important to the prison officials than anything else—never ever allow the offender to use drugs to escape the tedium and monotony of his imprisonment.

About half of the drugs that enter most prisons come in through the visiting room. It should logically follow, therefore, that where there is no physical contact between the prisoner and his visitor, the likelihood of drugs being introduced into that prison is severely reduced.

The procedure at the Texas Department of Corrections, for example, prevents physical contact—but not smuggling. There inmates sit on one side of a room-length table and their visitors sit on the other. Guards sit on elevated platforms at each end of this table. Partitions above and below the table ensure that nothing is surreptitiously passed from visitor to con. The only time this restriction may be breeched is when the visitor buys a soft drink or some fruit juice for the prisoner. The visitor who is sharp eyed and nimble fingered may be able to slip something into the opened can without being seen before handing it to the guard to pass to the prisoner. If so, the “lucky” convict in Texas may go back to his cell having drunk a couple of ‘ludes or maybe some acid. Plainly though, the circumstances hardly conduce to a good high.

Thankfully most prisons are not afflicted with so great a degree of paranoia as the TDC. In New Hampshire, for instance, the visiting policy permits “limited contact”: Inmates and their visitors are separated by an ordinary table, fingertips touching; an embrace is allowed at the beginning and at the end of the visiting period. At the end of the visit the prisoner is not skin-searched—but merely frisked—and his shoes are inspected. Prisons in Washington State conduct visiting in much the same manner, except there is no separation by a table; the prisoner and visitor sit facing each other, holding hands if desired. Again, only a pat-search at the end of the visit.

All California prisons have contact visiting. The word contact is here given a very wide latitude. As one prisoner at the California Men’s Colony near San Luis Obispo (site of Timothy Leary‘s Weathermen-abetted escape) tells me: “Hell, man, babies have been conceived in the visiting room here.” That’s close contact.

Clearly the opportunities to smuggle drugs in situations such as these are almost infinite.

You cannot simply arrive at a prison with a baggie full of marijuana and hope that your convict friend will be able to take it from there. Recently I spoke with a man who had just been released from [name of institution deleted to prevent any harassment of the men there upon disclosure of this information]. His wife packaged pot for him to smuggle back into prison after she visited each week. First, she cleaned all the seeds and stems out of the grass. Then she stuffed an ordinary balloon with cleaned weed until it was about an inch in diameter, making sure to pack it tightly. After tying the balloon closed, she wrapped it in still another balloon and sealed that one, too. He explained that stomach acid is sometimes strong enough to eat through one or even two layers of balloon, so whenever she brought him any substances other than pot, she always gave it at least three wraps. (His caution is understandable. Careless packaging has been responsible for the death of many cocaine and heroin smugglers outside, and the same danger lies for the unsuspecting convict who swallows or keesters a poorly wrapped balloon from an otherwise well meaning friend.) He told me of one prisoner who OD’d right in the visiting room: “Man, he just nodded out and never came back! That’s why I always emphasized to the ol’ lady how important it was to be careful. She always did good, though, God love her. She knew those little balls of pleasure would keep the frown off my face—and they did!”

Adding to the supply feeding high-hungry cons are guards who pack—though it should be stressed here that probably less than 25 percent of the drug traffic in any given prison originates thusly. The reasons a guard would hazard his livelihood, and possible prosecution if discovered, in order to introduce drugs into the place where he works are many: the need for supplementary income, the excitement of risk, and sometimes just plain friendship or compassion. Relates a former California convict: “In ’71 I was at Soledad. Yeah, George Jackson, the Soledad Brothers, the whole thing was happenin’ then. Me, I was just lookin’ to get high. About this time I got in real good with this Chicano guard. After a few weeks o’ listenin’ to him talk about all the dope he was smokin’, I hit on him to bring me somethin’ to smoke, too. At first he was hesitant, but I kept drivin’ on him till he broke down and brought me some grass. What he’d been smokin’ was shit Mexican—he only paid fifteen dollars a bag for it—so after a couple o’ weeks I offered to have my brother send him a quarter-pound of some real kickass; he’d keep an ounce and bring me the other three. Once it arrived and he got a taste of that good, rich Colombo, it was all gravy after that. Until I left the ‘Dad in ’75, ol’ Paco kept me fat. What he didn’t know was that I was selling some o’ them ounces for tall bucks. A forty-dollar bag from my brother brought almost two hundred on the yard. Hell, a balloon the size of an English pea went for five dollars; figure it out for yourself.”

Prisoners who have no family or friends depend on what they can buy or trade for inside the prison. In some institutions the medium of exchange is cigarettes or coffee. Some inmates trade hobbycraft items, such as leatherwork, or paintings. Some men receive visits only from their parents and can get only money from them. As easily as drugs can be smuggled in, green can be smuggled in also. Green will usually net you a larger amount of drugs than an equal value in cigarettes or oil paintings.

Convicts often find the U.S. Postal Service to be the most reliable courier. Most people know that postage stamps are good for more than ensuring that a letter is mailed. Similarly LSD (and in some cases, heroin) can be dissolved and stationery soaked in it prior to mailing. Green can be stashed in greeting cards. The inventiveness of the correspondent is the only limitation.

Many maximum and medium-security prisons have camps nearby for men who are approaching release. These camps seldom have fences and the men there are, in many instances, free and unsupervised. At the federal prison near Lompoc, California, the laundry for camp inmates at one time was done inside the maximum facility. Since the drug situation at the camp has always been very relaxed, the men there had ample opportunity (until the scheme was discovered) to secrete drugs for those inside in their cleaned clothing.

In every institution there are men who receive what is termed “controlled” medication, usually various forms of downers: Thorazine, Dilantin, Mellaril, Prolixin and phenobarbitol. It takes very little practice to learn to palm these pills, which can then be saved up for a real bang or sold.

However, the most ingenious system for copping inside that I’ve ever heard is used by my friend Nick, who is a prisoner in one of the larger prison systems on the East Coast. A few months ago he called me in California and asked—in an informal code we use—if I could send $50 to an address he gave me. I agreed, and as the conversation unfolded, I learned that the money would be going to the family of another convict who received regular visits. As soon as the money arrived, this man would give Nick a prearranged quantity of pot. I put the money in the mail the next day and my friend was smoking later that week. I’ve since done this three or four times for him. What did Nick get for the $50? About a quarter ounce of marijuana. Not much, to be sure, but it is, after all, a prison. And from what he told me, this is about the going rate there.

Far and away the drug of preference in the yard is pot or hash, followed next by downers, then speed, then heroin. Cocaine is almost last, not for lack of desire, but because of the corresponding problems of price and availability. Coke simply is not worth the extravagant cost to most convicts, when the same amount of goods or green will net you a much larger amount of marijuana or hash. (One of those times I mailed money for Nick, he received three grams of hash for $50. And that was a bargain! Usually hash goes for $25 to $30 a gram, he told me.) LSD is also a low-preference drug. While a bit o’ the blow heightens the senses and makes enjoyable an otherwise apathetic day, acid often sharpens the perception of being imprisoned, mutating routine mediocrity into apprehension and paranoia.

Even booze and glue, the bastard children of the drug subset, find a market inside. At any time, in most prisons, someone will have a batch of homebrew going. It’s never very strong, packing about the same alcoholic punch as wine—but in sufficient quantity even prison vintage produces one hell of a buzz. To concoct alcohol, very little is needed that cannot be obtained through regular channels inside a prison. Except yeast. Because of its scarcity many convict brewers make a starting mixture of raw-fruit and raw-vegetable pulp, which is mixed and allowed to ferment for two to three days. This kicker is then added to a premixed base of fruit pulp or juice, sugar and water. The base determines how the end product will taste; however, the choice of fruit is more often the result of availability than desire, since most batches of ”pruno” or ”raisin jack” or “orange wine” are prepared for effect more than taste. Once the kicker is added to the base mixture, the fermentation of sugar into alcohol begins. Within five to seven days, depending on the ingredients, a liquid is produced that is anywhere from 10 to 20 percent alcohol (again, depending on the base). A sizable portion is usually strained off for immediate consumption at this point, fresh fruit pulp and sugar water added, and the whole thing started over. However, neither that step nor a starting mixture is necessary if yeast is available.

The advantage to using yeast is that it cuts the time factor, often critical in a prison setting, by about one-third. In place of actual yeast, a fistful of raw dough may be dissolved in warm water and used immediately in place of a kicker. No matter how well hidden the container, though, smell is the worst enemy of convict pruno makers, who usually “cook up a batch” five gallons at a time. In some cases, a vent hose is forced behind the trap in a toilet and the fumes safely exhausted. Or a sponge soaked in a deodorant can be placed over the vent hole on the container itself, thereby masking the giveaway odor. Inventiveness and ingenuity however, are on the convict’s side. Rarely does The Man bust more wine than is drunk.

I have been told by men at several different institutions that many guards nowadays are reluctant to “beef” you—write a disciplinary report—for reefer. But the same pot-lenient guards will seldom give you a pass for alcohol. Because of its reputation for producing monsters from mild-mannered men, prison-brewed hooch is feared more by staff than any other drug. Witness the brutal bloodiest at New Mexico’s Santa Fe prison in February 1980. Documented evidence now points to a batch of raisin jack as the trigger—although not the cause—of this riot.

Way down on the list of preferences— somewhere between “Fuck that shit!” and “You must be crazy, sucker!—is glue, or any of the petroleum distillates containing toluene or carbon tetrachloride. An interesting aside, which comes from the Federal Penitentiary at McNeil Island, Washington (now closed), is that, of the Indian prisoners there, glue was the drug of preference. Considering its status with the general population, the reader may draw his own conclusions.

Prisons create their own drug market. Drugs bring a sense of relief—relief from boredom, escape from the “dead zone” (as Stephen King calls it) of enforced numbness that encases a man in prison like an insect embedded in amber. Of course, set and setting figure into this to an extraordinary degree in prison.

Virtually all prisons are constructed so that the housing units consist of either multitiered rows of cells, or a dormitory. In most instances, the line officer patrols periodically checking for prohibited behavior and making his presence known to maintain order In the conflict between the desire to get high in a relaxed and comfortable setting—one’s own “house”—and the necessity for precaution in order to prevent a trip to The Hole, the very expenditure of energy to reconcile one with the other detracts from the fullness of the high. Conversely, in a situation where set and setting are complementary an otherwise meager high can blossom into something memorable. Most prisons have a yard where, even under the watchful eyes of the guards in the towers, the careful convict can easily blow a joint with little or no danger of being caught.

Another place of relative security is the auditorium or gymnasium when a movie is being shown. Rarely do guards venture into this area after the lights are dimmed and in many prisons there is a tacit understanding between staff and inmates that smoking will be condoned as long as there is no violence. In the words of one prisoner: “When you know The Man isn’t interested in busting anyone during the flick, it makes getting high there just that much sweeter.”

A good deal of the violence in most prisons is drug related, and although much of this can be attributed to the traffic in heroin, no category of drug is blameless. Because of the ridiculously inflated prices of drugs, and the corresponding scarcity of money or resources available to the average convict, conflicts inevitably arise. In the early ’60s, at the California Medical Facility near Vacaville (which presently houses Juan Corona and Charles Manson), one of the heroin dealers inside the joint was found out to be a rat, supplying information to The Man in exchange for immunity. One day shortly after a visit, he was attacked and killed in his cell. Wasting no opportunity in their bloody business, his attackers slit open his stomach and scooped out the balloons he had earlier swallowed. In 1975, a prisoner at Joliet State Prison in Illinois had his eyes gouged out by a man to whom he owed money for drugs. After he fingered his assailant and was locked up in “protective custody” he was gang-raped for becoming a snitch. Seldom, however, are methods this unusual employed. Most often the offending party is dealt with swiftly and lethally. Convicts have a name for it: steel poisoning. As recently as 1980, in the federal prison at Leavenworth, Kansas, an inmate was stabbed to death because he failed to pay for less than a half ounce of marijuana. The medical report stated that his head was “almost severed from [his] torso” because of the “number and intensity of [his] wounds.” Obviously prison is no place for the deadbeat.

The other side of this coin is that if there were no drugs available at all, the strain of living day to day with so many others in such a butthole-to-bellybutton environment would quickly breed just as much and perhaps even more violence than the drug-related kind. About the only solution that would not create more problems is for the prisons to dispense drugs on demand. Since this is hardly in the works for the near future in any U.S. prison, most inmates will have to be content with whatever schemes they are using presently.

Sometimes I can’t help but marvel at the convoluted maze set up to assure a delivery of drugs. The following story comes to me from a man who is presently incarcerated in one of the federal government’s maximum security prisons: It seems in late ’79 a guard at one of the federal correctional centers (jails) near a major metropolitan area was flashing his paycheck around, taunting the inmates with how much he was sucking up from the government teat. In revenge, one of these men was able to successfully snatch this check right out of the asshole’s shirt pocket without being seen. As soon as the loss was discovered, the entire facility was locked down and every inmate and his cubicle was searched. Nothing was turned up. A few weeks later this check was successfully spirited to the previously mentioned prison. From there it was smuggled out and mailed across the country to a major department store to be cashed. (Uncle Sam’s checks are as good as gold anywhere in the country for up to 90 days.) After being cashed, 60 percent of the original amount was sent back to the convict’s confederates, who used this money to purchase a kilo of marijuana that was then smuggled into the prison. Uncle treated all around. Justice could never have been more poetic.

High Times Magazine, June 1981

Read the full issue here.

The post From the Archives: Grass in the Joint (1981) appeared first on High Times.