FEATURED POST

Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

Image
The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Texas bought seized execution drugs from India

Texas prison officials in 2015 arranged to buy lethal-injection drugs from a company in India that was busted for selling psychotropic drugs and opioids illegally to people in Europe and the United States, a new report claims.

When that deal fell through, they bought $25,000 worth of execution drugs from another supplier in India, a shipment seized in Houston by U.S. drug enforcers as an illegal importation, according to the report in BuzzFeed News.

BuzzFeed, in a detailed story posted late Thursday, said Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials notified the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Jan. 8, 2015 that they would be importing a large amount of sodium thiopental, Texas' execution drug, as required by a DEA license the agency holds.

"TDCJ will be importing Thiopental Sodium in 1 gram vials for a total of 500 to 1,000 grams per purchase/importation," a DEA investigative report published with the article shows. "TDCJ will be importing from the following supplier: Provizer Pharma."

Before the sale could be completed, however, Indian drug enforcement authorities raided Provizer Pharma's offices in the city of Surat, arrested five employees and seized an assortment of drugs, many of which are used as "party pills" in the United States,

India's Narcotics Control Bureau called the raid a "significant seizure."

Weeks later, Texas turned to another supplier in India -- identified in leaked DEA documents as Chris Harris -- and that shipment was seized in July 2015 at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport. A second shipment bound for Arizona was seized at the same time.

The seizures came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had warned Texas and its supplier, along with Arizona and Nebraska, that attempts to import the drugs would be illegal and that the shipments would be confiscated, officials earlier confirmed. A federal court at one point blocked its importation.

The BuzzFeed report provides new details about the source of Texas' execution drugs, long a secret that the state has battled in courts to keep out of public view, and of the lengths to which Texas and other states have gone to obtain them.

In recent years, as most companies in the United States and Europe have stopped making the drugs used in U.S. executions or prohibited their sale for lethal use, Texas and other states have had to resort to secondary suppliers where purchases have proven to be much more difficult.

Critics of the death penalty also have questioned whether the quality of those drugs can more easily be compromised, and whether they will kill condemned inmates without pain and suffering -- a key element in whether the use of those drugs could compromise the legal administration of the death penalty.

The Texas-bound executions drugs seized in July 2015 remain in DEA custody. Earlier this month, Texas sued the FDA seeking to release the drugs, accusing the agency of "gross incompetence or willful obstruction," according to court filings.

In its lawsuit, Texas referred to the source of the lethal drugs only as a "foreign distributor."

While the source of Texas' execution drugs used to be publicly available, state officials in recent years have made information about their suppliers a guarded secret as suppliers for the drugs dried up, some driven by pressure from death penalty opponents in the United States and Europe.

Attorney General Ken Paxton ordered the information secret, and state officials have fought since then to keep as many details as possible under wraps, including a threat against the DEA not to identify the supplier in the pending lawsuit over the confiscation.

Texas prison officials declined late Thursday to discuss any details in the BuzzFeed story, other than to say they had "not engaged in any transaction" with Provizer. They declined further comment.

"The story is highly speculative and inaccurate," said TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark, declining to discuss any details.

"TDCJ has a statutory responsibility to carry out court ordered executions in Texas," Clark said. "All drugs used in the lethal injection process are legally purchased and are tested by an independent lab for both potency and purity to ensure they meet national standards."

Source: Houston Chronicle, January 28, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Nevada law says chief medical officer must advise on executions despite ethical clash

Russian who joined ISIS in Iraq sentenced to hanging

20 Minutes to Death: Record of the Last Execution in France

Ohio executes Gary Otte

Iran: Prisoners Hanged in Public While Crowd Watched

Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

Poorly executed - Indiana inmate challenges state's lethal cocktail change

Arkansas death-row inmate tries to drop appeal blocking execution; request denied

Nevada inmate asks how he should mentally prepare for execution

"I cannot execute convicted murderers," Tanzania's president declares