Archive for Thursday, July 28, 2011

Crimes against drug dealers increase in Lawrence

July 28, 2011


Douglas County’s top prosecutor says law enforcement has seen an increase in the past two years in the number of robberies of suspected drug dealers in Lawrence.

“These crimes are very dangerous. You risk a chance of serious bodily harm and death every time one of these occurs,” District Attorney Charles Branson said.

Branson called it a “dramatic rise” in these types of crimes occurring in the city but said his office has had success in prosecuting the cases that become some of Lawrence’s more high-profile robberies because they often involve people being held at gunpoint and include other physical violence.

Suspects believe they can steal money and drugs, usually from a low-level marijuana dealer, who likely won’t make a report to police to hide his own illegal activity.

“When drugs are involved, there‘s usually either a large quantity of drugs or quantities of money,” said Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib, who previously supervised a countywide drug-investigation unit. “Both things are commodities in the criminal world.”

Lawrence cases

In several recent cases suspects were caught because the victims did call police — or the suspects were mistaken and robbed people who had nothing to do with dealing drugs.

Prosecutors have been able to convict multiple people in six drug-related robbery cases since May 2010, including:

  • Two former Kansas University football players, Vernon Brooks, 24, and Jamal Greene, 23, who received 60 days in jail and two years on probation for holding four Kansas University students, including two women, at gunpoint May 14, 2010, at Tuckaway Apartments, 2600 W. Sixth St. Prosecutors said they thought they could steal drugs and money from a back bedroom.
  • Three Lawrence men, Joshua Self, 18, Christopher Self, and Douglas Bittinger, both 20, who received more than three years in prison for using a BB gun to rob two men at The Exchange, 3100 Ousdahl Road, because they thought the men had high-grade marijuana. One victim was knocked unconscious and another victim was also struck.
  • Several people in connection with two incidents on back-to-back nights last December at a Louisiana Street apartment. In court documents, prosecutors accuse three Wichita men, who have not yet been convicted, of acting under the recruitment and direction of Michael Hammond, 20, who wanted to rob someone in the building believed to be a drug dealer. But the suspects burst into the wrong apartment on Dec. 2 and held three female KU students at gunpoint.

Hammond eventually pleaded no contest to two conspiracy counts after prosecutors accused him and three friends of trying to take the job into their own hands the next night. Police foiled that attempt.


Branson said most victims in the recent cases are typically younger, college-age people who begin selling drugs on a small scale.

“These cases just run such a high risk of personal injury and bodily harm for these folks — all over supporting their own habit or trying to make a few extra bucks,” he said.

Prosecutors typically have to offer immunity to victims in the case on drug charges related to the robbery incident, although they can prosecute them for anything that occurred before or after, Branson said. Also, the victims might contaminate a crime scene in their efforts to hide certain things, Khatib said.

Prosecutors and police in these cases want to target the robbery suspects because they have the potential to turn deadly.

Kellam D. Jones, 20, of Lawrence, is serving a 14-year sentence for his role in a June 2008 double homicide in the 1300 block of Delaware Street. Jones and his friend, Gage Hauk, 18, of McLouth, had attempted to rob 20-year-old Roland Klundt at his home of drugs and money.

Branson said Klundt had armed himself after a burglary a week earlier, so Klundt shot and killed Hauk who was armed with an air pistol, and Jones then shot and killed Klundt with a semi-automatic rifle.

Khatib said dealers who are robbed should call police because they could be helping another future victim, including themselves.

“Anybody who has the ability to go in and rob someone at gunpoint also has the ability to do something else as well,” he said.

Two men, Timothy Hays and Louis Galloway Jr., were shot in August 2009 while trying to rob a suspected drug dealer at Easy Living Mobile Home Park, 3323 Iowa. Prosecutors charged both Galloway and Hays, who recovered from their injuries, but they had to drop the case later when the robbery victim refused to testify.

Both Galloway and Hays are now serving prison sentences for subsequent crimes. Hays robbed the KU Credit Union, 3400 W. Sixth St., and received a federal prison sentence. Galloway, 21, last week received more than five years in prison for punching and injuring a Lawrence officer during a February car stop.

Branson said his office works to prosecute drug sale and distribution cases apart from these robberies, but prosecutors also work to get the word out about other consequences for dealing drugs.

“They have to understand that if they’re going to participate in illegal drug activity, that it’s inherently dangerous,” he said. “And there is a good likelihood they will be the target of a violent crime.”


kernal 6 years, 10 months ago

Might be good if this story runs again when the students are back. Or, maybe the UDK could pick it up.

Missingit 6 years, 10 months ago

Smitty, I am tired of six degrees of Yellow House! Why don't you do six degrees of Kevin Bacon like everyone else!!

BlackVelvet 6 years, 10 months ago

One thing to consider. Smitty is a lot like the Fred Phelps clan. No matter how misguided or wrong, they both are steadfast in their beliefs. You will never change their minds.

livinginlawrence 6 years, 10 months ago

“They have to understand that if they’re going to participate in illegal drug activity, that it’s inherently dangerous,” he said. “And there is a good likelihood they will be the target of a violent crime.”

Or rather, perhaps law enforcement should begin to acknowledge the fact that prohibition of substances like marijuana, low in harm and high in reinforcing value, does little if anything more than beget crime. Regular, non-violent people want the flowers of the cannabis plant, and continue to seek the substance regardless of legislation concerning it. Who profits from labeling these folks as criminals?

This fact that marijuana prohibition creates crime has been acknowledged already by knowledgeable parties the world over (refer to Global Commission on Drug Policy, as well as the bill proposed by Barney Frank and Ron Paul, to name a few), who seek the decriminalization of marijuana (or at least, in the case of the Frank and Paul bill, they seek the establishment of states' rights to determine their own policy). Law enforcement agencies, most notably the DEA, continue to rationalize prohibition of this harmless substance for the sake of continuing their own funding. Let's not forget where this funding comes from...

I'll now repeat something that has been said countless times already, but which seems to fall on deaf ears every time. Prohibition of alcohol accomplished little other than the creation of a massive crime syndicate, and was eventually ended in observation of this fact. The same seems to be the case for the prohibition of marijuana, so why continue down this path of failed policy?

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 10 months ago

You, Sir, are correct. Thank you for your efforts! Prohibition fosters LEO corruption.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 10 months ago

LEO: "just following orders." 70 years ago LEO would arrest blacks for drinking out of the wrong water fountain, or arrest women for trying to vote.

Missingit 6 years, 10 months ago

Harmless substance?? I thought a subject who was high lost control of his car and went across K-10 and killed a child!! That might not be the only substance in him but I bet he started with marijuana and moved up the illegal substance ladder. It is not "Low in harm." I Really don't want pilots, train conductors or other people high. Should it be illegal that is up to society, sorry you are in the bible belt, but I have a real issue with the term " low in harm" but alcohol is not low in harm either!

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 10 months ago

LOL! Gimmie a break. I bet? Yeah, I bet. I bet he started on milk. Treat marijuana as we do alcohol; it's far less dangerous.

Missingit 6 years, 10 months ago

Crazy Larry is so right!! LOL maybe we can make crack legal because we can't seem to stop it or meth as well!!! Marijuana is as dangerous!! Prohibition fosters corruption what a bunch of poo!! Ignorance fosters corruption!! Crack pots foster blogs

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 10 months ago

Prohibition is the problem (period). You can't stop people from doing what they want and, 40 years later, we still find that law enforcement can not stop drugs or people from buying them. Don't believe history? You've got a problem. Learn no lesson from history? We've got a problem.

Ask the mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland what he thinks about the war on poor people, a.k.a. the War on Drugs.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 10 months ago

So, let's devolve the discussion to name calling...I'll play along--boot licker.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 10 months ago

And you're moniker is appropriate, "missing it." It would be a brain?

Missingit 6 years, 10 months ago

So Crazy Larry for president says make everything legal let Crazy rule. You sir have a fitting title. When does your ride come back from Osawatomie State Hospital? Perhaps you need a tin hat to protect you from government satellites as well?? How is your and smitty's LAN blog party going?

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 10 months ago

No rebuttal...only name calling. Typical response from an ignorant bigot. Have a great day, boot licker.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 10 months ago

A very brief prohibition documentary: Can you draw any parallels?

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 10 months ago

Excellent post. I'd like to add: The 40 years of failure that is our 'War on Drug' had done nothing other than create a Prison-Industrial Complex. A few lessons on prohibition for everyone.

Lesson 1: Prohibition, not drug consumption, causes the violence often attributed to drugs. Rival drug organizations resort to cold-blooded murder because unlike ordinary business firms they have no legal, nonviolent means to resolve disputes. In the United States, the murder rate skyrocketed during alcohol prohibition but fell once prohibition ended. Statistical research suggests that eliminating drug prohibition in the United States today would reduce the murder rate by 50 percent.

Lesson 2: Prohibition fosters corruption. Although many American and Mexican law-enforcement officers are beyond reproach, financial temptation will weaken some officers' and politicians' resolve to play by the rules. Drug money corrupts, as police scandals in Los Angeles, New Orleans and Washington, D.C., show only too well. The situation is even worse in developing countries where wages are much lower than in the United States and the threat of violence against honest judges and politicians is frighteningly real.

Lesson 3: Prohibition enriches criminals at the expense of society generally. Honest cops can afford only modest lifestyles, but drug kingpins live in a plush seaside mansions. No hardworking American would object if he earned this lifestyle through honest work, but prohibition increases the wages of sin.

Lesson 4: Prohibition promotes violence and corruption in drug-producing countries while ensuring the viability of political insurgents, who sell protective services to traffickers. Notwithstanding Mexican President Vicente Fox's recent trial balloon announcement that we would enjoy less violence and corruption if drugs were legalized, the specter of international condemnation renders this possibility academic.

Lesson 5: Prohibition exacerbates racial conflict, since enforcement inevitably targets minorities even when drug use and trafficking pervade all elements of society. Law-enforcement comes down more heavily on the politically and socially disenfranchised, and the drugs they use.

The same can be said about the prohibition of prostitution. Most all of the 'problems' associtaed with prostitution are created through its prohibition. Wake up and smell the coffee, citizens. We can change the situation. The first step is to recognize what's going on.

angelbear 6 years, 10 months ago

okay do i really need to say it hello have you seen what our "government" is doing i do not think they can find thier rearends with a detailed map. much less fix anything.

MarcoPogo 6 years, 10 months ago

If you're going to run a story about how dealing drugs is dangerous, you should at least post a link to Glenn Frey's video for "Smuggler's Blues".

sr80 6 years, 10 months ago

Pretty soon your drug dog is going to find your stash,which is always the beginning of drug addiction!! Hide all the treats!!!!!

Getaroom 6 years, 10 months ago

If only this were "Custers Last Stand" it would be the horse making the posts. Could be quite an improvement.....

jaywalker 6 years, 10 months ago

Sounds like a lotta people wanna be Omar from The Wire.

MarcoPogo 6 years, 10 months ago

Homophobia will stop a lot of them from realizing that goal.

Kelly Johnson 6 years, 10 months ago

Here's what I got from the ljworld news today: 1. It's really hot outside 2. (from Wellcommons) heat makes people irritable 3. Being a drug dealer is a dangerous occupation 4. the sheriff might have to evict himself due to foreclosure

I love Lawrence.

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