A woman looks over vegetables in Carulla Supermarket in Bogota, Colombia. The country, which plays host this weekend to the Summit of the Americas, is a rising star in the region. Foreign investment has quadrupled over the past decade, and it has a new free-trade agreement with the U.S.
Colombia was once associated with cocaine trafficking and powerful drug lords, but today's reality is different: It's stable, a magnet for foreign investment and diplomatically engaged — and this weekend hosts the Summit of the Americas. Increasingly, Colombia is seen as South America's rising star.
Law enforcement agents raid a home where the occupants are suspected of selling drugs last month in Middletown, N.Y. For three months, court papers say, authorities tracked them using wiretaps and cameras set up on telephone poles and trees.
An image released Nov. 14, 2011, by the Australian Federal Police shows cocaine seized during the yacht raid in Bundaberg. Drug smugglers take advantage of Australia's long coastline and many harbors.
Credit Courtesy Australian Federal Police
Australian authorities discovered more than 100 pounds of cocaine and methamphetamine concealed in cases of Mexican beer in a sea cargo shipment last October.
Credit Australian Federal Police / EPA/Landov
Cocaine seizures are up sharply in Australia, and Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel is believed to be involved in large-scale smuggling. Authorities seized about 660 pounds of cocaine and more than $3.2 million from a yacht in Bundaberg, Queensland, in November 2011. Four Spanish nationals were arrested.
Australia is a huge island, with stretches of lonely, rocky coastline that extend for thousands of miles. What's more, there are lots of harbors and airports.
In short, opportunities are plentiful for an enterprising Mexican drug trafficker to move his product 8,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean to service the vibrant new market Down Under.
One such drug lord is Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman, head of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel. He's a cunning, small-statured, exceedingly dangerous outlaw recently dubbed "the world's most powerful drug trafficker" by the U.S. Treasury Department.
A relative of an inmate observes Mexican police behind the security fence after a riot inside Apodaca prison near Monterrey. At least 44 inmates were killed during Sunday's riot, and about 30 alleged members of the drug cartel Los Zetas were rushed out of the prison.
Dennis Potter, 29, was burned in a shake-and-bake meth lab explosion in December 2009. He spent the next five weeks wrapped in bandages and underwent numerous skin graft operations over the course of his recovery.
Credit Veronique LaCapra for NPR
The Franklin County Sheriff's Department methamphetamine training lab contains everything needed to make the illegal drug methamphetamine using the shake-and-bake method.
Federal prosecutors say they have dropped its doping case against seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. For two years, prosecutors looked into allegations that Armstrong and his United States Postal squad used performance-enhancing drugs.
A governor’s commission has released a report detailing surprising levels of prescription drug abuse in New Hampshire. The commission’s findings give weight to a push to create a prescription drug monitoring program in the state.
According to the report, almost 17 percent of 18 to 25-year-olds in New Hampshire say they have abused prescription drugs in the past year. That’s the second highest rate in the country.
New Hampshire has one of the worst prescription drug abuse problems in the country. The state now ranks 5th in the nation for percentage of residents who abuse medications such as percocet, vicodin, and oxycodone, according to the Federal Centers for Disease Control. The problem is especially alarming among young people. New Hampshire has the second highest rate of 18-25 year olds who abuse prescription drugs in the nation.
Danielle Fiore , 24, says she was addicted to painkillers for most of her childhood.
"I had fractured my ankle and I was prescribed vicodin and it felt good. I was ten or eleven," she says. "As time went on I would get something else hurt or a toothache or something and I would get more painkillers. I have a bunch of teeth missing because I would complain and get them pulled so I would get pain killers."
Currently New Hampshire has no prescription drug monitoring program. The program, which is up and running in 48 other states, is initially funded through federal grants. The proposal to create a centralized prescription database that doctors and law enforcement could check to track so called "doctor shoppers" has been defeated several times in the state Legislature. A new bill is now being considered this session and its sponsor Senator Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, is hopeful that there is enough support for a statewide prescription monitoring program this time. He cites the growing number of overdose deaths in the state from prescription drugs. In the last decade overdose deaths from these medications have more than tripled.
For those who oppose a statewide prescription drug database privacy is a major issue. Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, says such a program goes against the Granite State's core philosophy.
"This is New Hampshire, this is the 'Live Free or Die' state, " says Kurk. "One of the major reasons this bill has not been adopted is because most people feel it’s the independent philosophy, personal responsibility philosophy that prevails and that government should be small and not interfere with people’s lives."
Many of the state's independent pharmacists are also against a monitoring program because they worry they will end up footing the bill. The database would be drawn from pharmacy records. Rick Newman, a lobbyist for the New Hampshire Independent Pharmacy Association, says the small business people he represents will be end up carrying the burden of the costs of such a database.
"I can’t sit here as anyone with any kind of intelligence and disagree that’s there's a problem with people abusing prescription drugs in this country, of course there is," says Newman. "The question becomes whose burden is that? We can’t pass laws to put the burden on the small business person because they happen to be one part of the pipeline."
Emergency room doctors and those that treat pain say they are often confronted by patients who may be faking symptoms to get narcotics for their addiction or to sell on the street.
"I want people who have legitimate pain to get the proper pain medications that they need," say Dr. David Heller, an emergency room physician at Portsmouth Hospital. "But I don’t want to feed somebody’s addiction and I don’t want to write a prescription for drugs that are going to be sold to my kids or my kid's friends."
New numbers show the Granite State is near the top when it comes to abusing painkillers. Also, New Hampshire is one of only two states that does not monitor the purchases of these medications. We’ll explore that latest on this issue, and what some are in New Hampshire are doing to reverse these sobering numbers.
Late last month, students at Wolcott High School in Connecticut were on lockdown. An announcement on the intercom warned of a threatening intruder. Doors were locked and police swooped in with dogs…drug-sniffing dogs as it turned out. But there was no gun-toting maniac roaming the halls. It was a “lockdown intervention drill”… a ruse to clear the halls for a school-wide drug search.