Things That Matter

A Man Spent A Month In Jail After Feds Thought He Was Carrying 3,000 pounds of ‘Marijuana,’ Lab Results Showed It Was Hemp

In what was supposedly a giant drug bust by the Texas Department of Public Safety, led to one giant 3,350-pound mistake.

On Dec. 6, a DPS trooper pulled over and arrested a driver who the agency claimed was carrying multiple boxes that held pounds of marijuana east of Amarillo, Texas along Interstate 40. The trooper called for more backup in the form of DEA agents who thought they had the drug bust of all drug busts. They even took to Facebook to post about the incident that showed that showed dozens of boxes, supposedly stuffed with over 3,000 pounds of marijuana, in front of the U-Haul trailer stopped by authorities. 

The culprit, Florida resident Aneudy Gonzalez, 39, a contract driver who was making a cross country trip from San Jose, California, to New York City. Gonzalez was pulled over by the trooper after he was seen driving on the highway shoulder and that’s when things started getting south. 

Gonzalez was being paid to transport the boxes that the DPS trooper smelled upon inspecting the cargo in the trailer. He suspected it was marijuana after he found pounds of the “green leafy substance” in boxes and black trash bags. 

The boxes, however, didn’t have marijuana in them. Gonzalez was being paid $2,500 to transport boxes of legal hemp from a California farm to a New York company. Yet even after he showed the trooper a lab report that verified the cargo met the state’s new legal definition of hemp, he was still charged with federal drug trafficking charges and placed in jail.

According to the Texas Tribune, A DEA agent testified as being unaware of the state law and was confused by the THC content rules. 

The root of all of this confusion stems from the recently passed HB 1325 that was signed into law by Gov. Abbott in June 2019. The law legalized the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp, as well as allowing farmers to grow industrial hemp under a state-regulated program in Texas. According to the Texas Tribune, “any cannabis with less than that amount of THC is hemp, which is used in products like clothing, twine, protein powder, and CBD oil.”

This is where authorities made the big mistake in not only arresting Gonzalez but also breaking state policy in interfering “with the interstate commerce of hemp”, which is exactly what happened here. According to Gonzalez’s attorney, Adam Tisdell, a cannabis criminal defense lawyer, the lab report that was shown to the trooper was more than enough evidence to let his client go. 

“Especially in a time right now of immense skepticism of law enforcement, the idea that Texas DPS and ultimately, a DEA task force agent, would have no idea what the law is and people go to jail that are completely innocent is horrifying to me and I do believe it should be for the other citizens as well. That’s the moral of this story.” Daniel Mehler, another attorney representing Gonzalez with Tisdell, told KCBD

It took an entire month for Gonzalez to finally be released from jail after authorities finally dismissed the case. He intends to file legal action and sue for violation of his civil rights.  

DPS officials issued a statement that read that the trooper that arrested Gonzalez believed that he was indeed carrying marijuana, not hemp. The agency would then send the confiscated material to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to test for THC levels. The results showed that Gonzalez was indeed carrying hemp and was in compliance with federal law. 

“I was just doing my job and the government threw me in jail for almost a month. I fully intend on pursuing justice, whatever that entails,” Gonzalez told Law 360. “Nobody has apologized to me. Somebody owes me an apology.”

After the test results, federal prosecutors asked a judge a month later to dismiss the case, and Gonzalez was released from jail on Jan. 2, a month after being arrested. That sad part for Gonzalez was that this wasn’t the first time he had been arrested on the trip. He spent a night in jail in Arizona after authorities there also confused his cargo for marijuana. He was eventually released the next day after officials determined it was legal hemp. 

Gonzalez’s case is an example of potential problems that law enforcement may face as hemp legalization spreads across the country, with many not knowing the difference between it and marijuana. In return, Texas has seen a major drop in marijuana prosecutions since hemp became legal. Gonzalez’s lawyer says that police need to be more aware of these new laws and be able to differentiate between the two to avoid situations like this in the future.  

“Today we beat the feds,” Mehler Cannabis, the law firm defending Gonzalez that specializes in marijuana-related laws and litigation, wrote in a Facebook post. “We maintained from the word ‘go’ that all he had was hemp, and this morning the U.S. government moved to dismiss the charges against our client.”

The law firm is seeking the return of the property that was taken from Gonzalez and “just compensation for our client losing a month of his life in the custody.”

READ: A New Florida Law And Lack Of Testing Facilities In The State Means Miami-Dade County Won’t Be Prosecuting Misdemeanor Pot Cases

A New Law Targets ‘Karens’ And Could Finally Make Their Behavior A Crime

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A New Law Targets ‘Karens’ And Could Finally Make Their Behavior A Crime

@rmtennell / @melodyMcooper / @jaimetoons / Twitter

The ‘Karen’ meme has exploded across the Internet, as entitled white people have terrorized Black and Brown people across the country. It’s a meme that makes light of their ridiculous behavior, but it’s also shining a light on the larger issue of racism and racial inequality in the United States.

Although many of the videos rack up millions of views, it’s important to remember that many of the actions these ‘Karens’ take against people of color are actually threatening the lives of these same people. One false phone call to the police accusing a Black man of harassment can lead to his death at the hands of racist policing.

Now, elected officials across the country are thinking of ways to hold Karen (and her male counterpart, ‘Ken’) accountable for putting Black and Brown lives in jeopardy.

San Francisco introduced the first ever CAREN Act – which would hold Karens responsible for their dangerous actions.

Following a spate of high-profile 911 calls against people of color, San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton on Tuesday introduced an ordinance that would make discriminatory calls for police illegal.

Walton dubbed the ordinance the CAREN Act (Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies), in an apparent nod to the popularized slang name that refers to an entitled white woman complaining about people of color. The legislation would amend the San Francisco Police Code to make it unlawful for someone to “fabricate false racially biased emergency reports,” according to a news release from Walton.

“Racist 911 calls are unacceptable that’s why I’m introducing the CAREN Act at today’s SF Board of Supervisors meeting,” Walton tweeted. “This is the CAREN we need.”

Making a false police report is already illegal but Walton’s bill would also make it illegal to fabricate a report based on someone’s race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, gender or sexual orientation.

San Francisco is just the latest city to consider such legislation.

The San Francisco CAREN bill comes just after a similar bill was introduced in California’s State Assembly by Rob Bonta. His bill would classify discriminatory 911 calls as a hate crime in the state. 

Meanwhile, on the other coast, New York state lawmakers approved legislation last month that allows people “a private right of action” if they believe someone called a police officer on them because of their race, gender or nationality. The move by New York came after Amy Cooper, a white woman in New York City, gained national attention after a video went viral of her calling the police on a Black birdwatcher in Central Park.

In 2019, the City Commission in Grand Rapids, Michigan, held a public hearing on a “proposed human rights ordinance” criminalizing racially motivated calls to 911 with a fine of up to $500.

And in Los Angeles, the city council is exploring “criminal penalties, rights of victims to bring private civil actions and cost recovery by the City,” he tweeted.

These new bills and proposals come in the wake of countless incidents involving white people falsely accusing Black and Brown people of all sorts of activities.

Credit: @rmtennell / @melodyMcooper / @jaimetoons/ Twitter

Just a few weeks ago, a white hotel employee in North Carolina called the police on a guest, a Black woman and her children, who were using the hotel’s swimming pool. A white woman also pulled a gun on a Black woman and her daughter. Then there was the woman in an LA suburb who took hammers to her neighbor’s car and told them to “go back to Mexico.”

But few are as famous as Amy Cooper – or Central Park Karen – who called the cops on a Black birdwatcher, accusing him of harassing her.

Unfortunately, the Karen phenomenon isn’t an isolated occurrence – it’s an everyday one for millions of Black and Brown Americans.

Military Suspect In Vanessa Guillen’s Disappearance Commits Suicide

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Military Suspect In Vanessa Guillen’s Disappearance Commits Suicide

Anthony Smith / Getty Images

The search for Vanessa Guillen has ended after human remains were identified as the missing soldier. An investigation into the crime has led to suspects being identified and arrested. Here’s what we know so far.

A soldier, who was a suspect in Vanessa Guillen’s death, committed suicide Wednesday.

Human remains were discovered Tuesday and identified as Vanessa Guillen on Wednesday. The suspects in Guillen’s death have not been named but one of the suspects committed suicide on Wednesday morning. The military suspect shot himself while law enforcement was searching for him.

Tim Miller, the founder of Texas Equusearch, told the Houston Chronicle that he believes the military suspect killed himself at 1:30 a.m. local time. The military suspect, who was in Killeen, Texas, committed suicide shortly after human remains were discovered near the Leon River in Bell County, Texas.

Guillen’s family have expressed their grief at press conferences since the body was identified.

The family is demanding justice. One civilian suspect is currently in jail after being arrested in connection with Guillen’s death. One of Guillen’s sisters recognized the military suspect. Mayra Guillen told the press that she met the military suspect who committed suicide.

“At approximately 1:29 a.m., officers located the suspect in the 4700 block of East Rancier Avenue,” reads the statement from the Killeen Police Department website. “As officers attempted to make contact with the suspect, the suspect displayed a weapon and discharged it towards himself.  The suspect succumbed from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

The suspects have not been identified, however, we do have descriptions of the suspects.

“The person who took his own life earlier today in Killeen after being sought by Killeen police and federal marshals was a soldier from Fort Hood and had fled the base earlier in the day,” reads a statement by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. “A civilian has been arrested in connection with Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance. The civilian suspect is the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood Soldier and is currently in custody in the Bell County Jail awaiting charges by civilian authorities.”

The case has captivated the nation as some people hurt for the family.

The investigation into Vanessa Guillen’s death is still ongoing. There are no answers yet but her family alleges that Guillen was coming forward with sexual assault and harassment allegations. The family’s recounting of Guillen’s sexual assault allegations is renewing the conversation of sexual assault in the military.

The family is calling out Fort Hood and the military’s response to the disappearance of Guillen. According to the family, they have been pleading with Fort Hood and the U.S. Army to conduct an investigation but saw nothing happening.

READ: Partial Human Remains Found Near Fort Hood Likely Vanessa Guillen’s