Category Archives: Illicit Drugs

Be The Difference In Human Trafficking

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Prevent, Recognize and Report human trafficking.

TX AG Paxton Unveils New Training Video
to Mobilize Texans in the Fight Against
Human Trafficking

AUSTIN, TX  –  Attorney General Ken Paxton today introduced a new comprehensive training video to educate and mobilize all Texans in the fight against human trafficking.  The nearly hour-long video was developed over the last year by the attorney general’s Human Trafficking/Transnational Organized Crime (HTTOC) section and debuted during a public screening at the Austin ISD Performing Arts Center.

“This remarkable training video represents my deep conviction to inform, educate and empower Texans to prevent, recognize and report human trafficking,” Attorney General Paxton said.  “‘Be the One in the Fight Against Human Trafficking’ was created to enlist citizens from every walk of life to help Texas in its nationwide leadership role to combat and ultimately eliminate this horrific and dehumanizing crime.”

Texas is responsible for the nation’s second highest number of calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, and recent research indicates that at any given time there are more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking in the state.

At the screening, Attorney General Paxton announced that his office is providing the human trafficking training video to all Texas state agencies, with the potential of reaching 315,000 state employees.  The video is mandatory viewing for the 4,000 employees of the attorney general’s office.  “I am challenging my fellow state agency heads to follow suit,” he said.

Attorney General Paxton applauded the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for being the first state agency to use the video in the training of all 8,000 of its front-line caseworkers.

Be the One in the Fight Against Human Trafficking” shares the compelling and often deeply emotional stories of human trafficking from the perspective of survivors, experts, law enforcement, and good Samaritans, including a Texan who helped authorities shut down a major human trafficking operation in his own neighborhood of The Woodlands.  The training video is available for anyone to watch at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/human-trafficking.

Launched in January 2016, Attorney General Paxton’s HTTOC section has assisted or consulted on dozens of cases, such as the arrest of the CEO of Backpage.com, whose online “adult” ads were linked to sex trafficking of women and children.

It also partners with Truckers Against Trafficking and the Texas Trucking Association on an innovative public-private-program to put more eyes and ears on the road to catch human trafficking.  Since its inception, HTTOC has provided human trafficking awareness training to more than 15,000 people across the state of Texas. 

NM Reports Increase In Child Abuse, Neglect

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There’s no excuse for Child Abuse

Child Abuse, Neglect strain New Mexico
protection program

SANTA FE, NM  –  New Mexico’s child protection system is straining to keep pace with an increase in abuse and neglect cases, despite increased public spending, according to a report from state analysts released Tuesday.

The report from the nonpartisan Legislative Finance Committee shows the protective services program for children in state custody has failed to meet seven out of eight performance goals.  For the fiscal year ending in June, the program missed benchmarks for reunifying children with parents in under a year, the number of children returning to foster care and the speed of adoptions.

The number of children placed in protective care in New Mexico increased by 6 percent to 2,674 during the one-year period ending in June.  The state spends 21 percent more on protective programs for children than it did four years ago.

Children, Youth and Families Department Secretary Monique Jacobson said her agency has been encouraging the public to report child abuse — possibly pushing up case numbers in the process.

“We’re asking people to make child abuse their business,” she said, noting other factors in New Mexico including an opioid addiction epidemic have influence caseloads.

Jacobson acknowledged improvements in the state’s child welfare system are needed, while highlighted progress toward a more stable workforce and an increase in the number of field workers who visit homes to detect maltreatment and determine whether a child may be in danger.

The job turnover rate dropped to 25 percent this year for child protective services workers, down from 34 percent in 2014, Jacobson said.

She cautioned that efforts to reunify mistreated children with parents cannot be rushed or incentivized, and that her agency is working with the court system to streamline adoption procedures. Jacobson noted year-over-year statistical progress in six out of eight evaluation categories for child protective services.

The analysis from the Legislature notes that the state could save tens of millions of dollars in the short run with just a 10 percent reduction in child maltreatment and foster placements.

Generally high evaluation marks were given to the performance of early childhood services including programs that promote high-quality child care.

Higher Numbers Of Child Abuse, Neglect In NC

.jpg photo of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
North Carolina seeing increased numbers of Child Abuse and Neglect.

121,000 reported cases of Child Abuse,
neglect in NC: 600 reported cases
in McDowell

McDowell, NC  –  Early data shows there were over 121,000 investigated cases of child abuse and neglect in North Carolina during fiscal year July 2016 through June 2017.  State law requires individuals or institutions suspecting child abuse or neglect to report cases to the Division of Social Services (DSS) for investigation.

“The high number of children impacted by neglect or abuse indicates too many families are struggling and under severe stress,” said Rebecca Starnes, vice president of Children’s Home Society of North Carolina.  “Abuse and neglect can be the product of a number of issues facing families, including poverty, working multiple jobs to make ends meet, high levels of stress, unrealistic expectations of children, mental health challenges, or substance abuse.”

In McDowell alone, there were 600 reported cases of abuse in neglect in the 2016-17 year, with over 75 percent found to be true and put into case management services.

“The majority of our reports have been methamphetamine-related,” said McDowell Department of Social Services Director Lisa Sprouse. “Just last week, we received multiple reports of babies being born in McDowell County that tested positive for polysubstance abuse.”

When asked about the uptick in referrals across the state, Sprouse says that the biggest contributor has been substance abuse.

“I looked at those numbers and they don’t include foster care, but foster care has greatly increased due to the rise of opioid addictions and, primarily here in this county, methamphetamine addiction,” said Sprouse.  “In the month of July in this agency alone, we placed 18 children in foster care, probably 80 percent of those due to substance abuse from parents, and right now it is IV drug use.”

DSS staff investigates and assesses all suspected cases of child abuse and neglect; diagnoses the problem with the family; provides in-home services to help keep families together; coordinates community and agency services; or, petitions the court for removal of the child from the home, if necessary.

To treat instances like these and other child-related cases, McDowell DSS has a collaborative relationship with a number of organizations like the McDowell Sheriff’s Office, the county school system, Lily’s Place – the local subsidiary of Southmountain Children and Family Services – Freedom Life Ministries, and equine and agricultural therapy at Hope 29:11 for older children not living with their biological parents, as well as local events like this Sunday’s Unity Service at East Middle School and Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.

“We try to utilize conventional collaborations as well as unconventional,” said Sprouse.  “Sometimes in this day and time, the conventional methods with going to an office for mental health services is not really what works for our families, so we try to meet them where we are and provide services that can help them from point A to point B and help them make their family whole again and allow their children to come home.”

For more information on McDowell DSS’ Children and Family Services, visit http://www.mcdowellcountyncdss.org/children-family-services.

FL Man Charged With Child Sex Abuse

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Behzad Izadi, 57

Sheriff: Palmetto man could face additional Child Abuse charges

SARASOTA COUNTY, FL  –  Behzad Izadi, 57, of Palmetto has been charged with sexual abuse in Sarasota and Manatee counties after three children disclosed he abused them during parties at his home in 2013, and at a condo he was renting on Siesta Key last year, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said.

Izadi was charged May 26 with three counts of lewd and lascivious molestation and one count of lewd and lascivious battery with regard to the now 14-year-old victim in Sarasota County.  He had been previously charged May 17 with two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for allegedly supplying drugs and alcohol to two other teens.

Detectives began investigating Izadi when the 14-year-old Sarasota child told a counselor in April that she was sexually battered at a July 4, 2016 party on Siesta Key.  The alleged victim said that she was invited to the July 4 overnight party with a group of her girlfriends.  Izadi rented the condo on Siesta Beach for the party and was the only adult present.

According to a Sheriff’s Office report:

Izadi bought alcohol for the minors and encouraged them to drink. The victim stated that she had also attended other parties with Izadi where he was “handing out Xanax” to her 13 and 14-year-old girlfriends.

On the night of the incident, the victim said she recalls Izadi touching her twice sexually while she slept on a living room couch, and once after she moved to a bedroom where her friends were sleeping.  Scared and “in shock” over the incident, she called her mother in the morning who came immediately and picked her up.

The victim said she noticed other friends had suddenly stopped hanging out around Izadi and learned of similar incidents.  A second 14-year-old victim reported being touched by Izadi while staying the night at his home.  A third 14-year-old victim said that Izadi would give her two to three Xanax at a time and supplied her with marijuana.  She said she would forget what happened to her those nights about an hour after she took the pills.

The third victim said she would recall some of the events from video snippets taken she discovered on her phone, but did not remember she and her friends “partying.”

A fourth 14-year-old teen was interviewed on May 25 and additional charges could be filed, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Izadi posted bonds totaling $27,500 in Manatee County, and was released May 17.  He was arrested May 28 in Sarasota County and remains in custody on bonds totaling $600,000.

Detectives believe there may be more victims and ask anyone with information regarding Izadi or his actions to contact them the Criminal Investigations Section at 941-861-4916.

AR Infant Nearly Eaten By Rats

.jpg photo of Parents of Rat Bitten Baby
Erica Shyrock, 19, and Charles Elliott, 18.

Baby found with nearly 100 rat bites,
parents charged

MAGNOLIA, AR  –  An Arkansas couple were arrested after their newborn baby was found to have between 75 and 100 rat bites.

Police were called to Magnolia Regional Medical Center after the baby girl was taken to the emergency room for treatment for the bites.

A nurse said the 15-day-old child weighed five pounds and had been bitten at least 100 times.

Police said that the baby had bites on her arms, fingers and face, with one bite on the baby’s forehead measuring about an inch wide with the skull visible.

Police identified the child’s parents as Erica Shyrock, 19, and Charles Elliott, 18.

Elliott’s mother said that her son told her that the child had been bitten by a mouse, but said he told her he was afraid the child would be taken away if he took the baby to the hospital.

Shyrock told police that she put the baby to sleep at 5:30 a.m. Sunday.  The baby woke her up screaming at 7:30 a.m. and she found the baby covered in blood.

Shyrock told police that both she and Elliott knew that there were rats in the home, but did nothing to get rid of them.

Elliott told police that he and Shyrock woke up at 5 a.m. to the baby crying and saw blood everywhere and rat footprints in the crib.   But he and Shyrock waited to take the baby to he hospital until his mother arrived around 9 a.m.

Both Elliott and Shyrock were arrested, charged with endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree.

A Columbia County deputy prosecuting attorney said that new charges of permitting abuse of a minor with serious physical injury will be filed against the pair.  The new charge is a felony.

When police searched the home, they said they found the baby’s bassinet with rat footprints in blood, the baby’s hat covered in blood and rodent droppings on a nearby table.

Monday, the baby had facial reconstruction to repair the forehead injury.

Tuesday, doctors at Arkansas Children’s Hospital told police that the injuries were so severe that the bites would have taken hours and the baby would have been in distress during the time. 

The doctor told police that he believes that the parents were either not at the home or were so incapacitated that they were not able to respond. The doctor said he found 75 to 100 bites covering the child.