Monday, February 11, 2008

Brushes with Gangland, Part II: The bust

When dealing drugs, the first law is to never sell them to people you don’t know. The second is to avoid dealing large quantities of drugs to any “acquaintance” who all of a sudden decides to buy pounds of a given substance instead of ounces. The third law -and perhaps the most important one to heed -is to avoid all contact with police during a deal, even if it goes dreadfully wrong.

These age-old proverbs could have helped Elaina King when she and a friend pulled a purple Dodge Durango into the South Burlington Holiday Inn Express on a chilly Monday evening five years ago. Had the young marijuana mule decided to casually observe even one of these laws, she probably could have avoided becoming an unwitting cog in a gangland slaying more than 100 miles away in her home state.

Instead, King and another fellow named Lance Loran were forced to the ground at gun point by the “acquaintance” and another man neither of them recognized. The robbers fleeced the Durango’s keys and made off into the night with a 50-pound bale of bubonic chronic the unsuspecting couple had intended to sell them. They also lost 50 half-pound bags of hydroponic ganja they had planned to move on the weed-happy streets of Burlington.

All in all, it was a bad day for the duo, especially seeing as though the dope wasn’t theirs to begin with. In fact, it belonged to a woman named Danielle Bevins, a troubled young soul who had a smuggling safe haven on the Akwesasne Mohawk reservation straddling the New York border with Canada. Bevins allegedly gave King $500 to take the Durango and the weed to South Burlington, where she was supposed to connect with a collection of dealers from the North East.

One of those dealers was Kevin Arkenau Jr., a Jersey shore native neck deep in the trade as well as a bunch of other rather unfriendly dealings. Unfortunately for King, Arkenau and his gun-toting companion weren’t in the mood to buy drugs; especially not from a pair of 20-something low-level couriers plucked from the reservation. After all, why would any self-respecting thug buy a $125,000 worth of chronic when they could viciously take it at gun point?

The robbery was simple enough. The two assailants grabbed the keys and hit the road, leaving the bewildered stoners behind at the motel. They drove about five miles away from the motel, ditched the Durango and then sped off in a rented car. The strange spectacle was observed by at least one witness, who later reported seeing “two or three men” fire out of the truck and into another vehicle.

Fortunately for the authorities, the drug robbers never realized the 26 extraneous pounds of weed they hadn’t ordered from the reservation. King naturally figured her robbers had grabbed all the weed and reported the vehicle stolen to local police. When the cops arrived, she gave a bullshit story about visiting a sick aunt and meeting with the would-be robbers to sell them her Durango, not a field’s harvest of marijuana. When the cops found her truck and a felony amount worth of marijuana, the long arm of the fed swiftly clutched King, Loran, Bevins and a host of other dope dealers operating around the border.

Among the dealers lumped in with King and Bevins was Burlington residents John Orr and Keith Morris, though loose court records seem to suggest the two Vermonters were picked up a month earlier in a federal drug net. The feds search Morris’s apartment and allegedly seized $80,550 -including $29,650 in Morris’s bedroom -and over nearly 10 pounds of marijuana. Who says dealing drugs doesn’t pay?

Orr and Morris were apparently grabbing weed from the Akwesasne reservation, an Indian reservation. In an odd footnote, Morris wasn’t a Vermont native. He had attended Colgate University for a few years before dropping out to become a snow boarder. But before making this career move in 2000, he hailed from New Jersey.

King sure did land herself in a bit of trouble. In fact, she ended up facing a federal drug rap that could have landed her a minimum sentence of three years behind bars. But her botched dope deal turned out to be a key piece of evidence that later secured an indictment against Roger Aletras, a “career criminal” with direct ties to the Bonanno crime family and the fellow who allegedly popped a few slugs of lead into Arkenau’s head several hours after the robbery.

Most media sources have all but stated Aletras popped Arkenau to make off with what local cops randomly valued as “$125,000 worth of marijuana.” But it’s difficult to imagine that a man hell-bent on killing his apparent friend over drugs would also ignore what amounted to $62,500 worth of green sitting in a duffle bag in the Durango’s back seat.

Another strange tidbit is the witness account of a third man leaving the truck, as reported by the Burlington Free Press following King’s arrest in 2002. All in all, the whole affair seems a bit too bizarre when considering the job at hand and that Aletras, the husband of a mob captain’s daughter, probably didn’t have any pressing need to murder his associate over 50 pounds of weed.

It’s possible Arkenau got in over his head with gangland. There was a lot of gambling going on, his half-brother and “best friend” sheepishly confessed to the Saratogian after Aletras’ indictment. It’s also possible Aletras was set up for the murder having double crossed the wrong people; after all, neither the pot nor the gun used to kill Arkenau were ever recovered.

Another complicating issue in the case is that the Montreal mafia -among other gangs -is known for running drugs through the Akwesasne border. More specifically, the Bonanno family was known for controlling the movement of large quantities of weed through the reservation. There’s always a chance Arkenau accidentally ripped off the wrong shipment at the wrong time. After all, Aletras’ father-in-law was fingered in murder case where a member of the aforementioned mafia and known drug czar was shot dead. But this is a reach, to say the least.

Regardless of the motives, there’s one common theme: Marijuana. Part of the blood in this case lies in a splatter on the disparity between drug laws in Canada and the United States. King, Bevins, Loran, Morris and Orr all ended up with federal felony drug convictions stemming from the case, which is a scarlet letter few successful people carry in life. Aletras now faces the death penalty -either from the feds or nervous gangland fellows who are worried about what he knows. And Kevin Arkenau, well he already cashed in his chips.

Perhaps if there wasn’t a black market for this so-called “high-potency marijuana” or marijuana in general, the path for some of these folks would have been different. Studies have shown that pot isn’t a so-called gateway drug and most of the violence associated with it is generated specifically because of its criminalization.

Were marijuana legal in this case, King and Loran would have had no reason to mule the dope; Bevins, Orr and Morris no reason to sell it; Arkenau and Aletras no reason to head north of the Tapen Zee to rob it. Maybe the worst tragedy would have been the lot of them spending a few too many years on the couch eating Captain Crunch out of the box and listening to Bob Marley on repeat with a still-smoking bong on the coffee table

But with the “war on drugs” in full effect, the sad case of Arkenau’s murder falls into the hackneyed category of another bloody tale spawned by drug-addled freaks, hell bent on smoking cannabis and ready to wreck havoc on every shred of decency in this fair democracy. His death will serve as a galvanizing reason to continue a the policies of more drug enforcement agents, more drug task forces, more anti-drug programs and more laws to preempt drugs, such as the murderous marijuana.

23 Comments:

Blogger shotinthedark said...

Spitzer plan would tax illegal drug sales
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Newsday
“Albany - If you want to buy pot, you would have to pay taxes.
Gov. Eliot Spitzer's 2008-09 state budget proposal unveiled Tuesday includes a plan to require all marijuana and other controlled substances in the state to have a tax stamp. Twenty-nine states, from Massachusetts to Nevada, currently tax illegal drugs.
Spitzer estimates the collection could bring in $13 million this fiscal year, and $17 million the next.”


I knew I voted for this guy for some reason.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The criminalization of marijuana is big business, and not just for the dealers you write about.

Hundreds of thousands of pot dealers/growers/users are in prisons/jails, creating thousands of jailer jobs.

Police-state profiteers make out with extra police jobs to chase potheads and pot farmers, and by providing a wide range of invasive, Fourth-Amendment-shredding, drug-testing equipment.

Local governments have become forfeiture addicts, stealing houses, cars and money from marijuana dealers/growers/users whenever they can.

Corporations that make and market legal drugs (alcohol and pharmaceuticals) profit mightily from marijuana's illegal status, and bribe politicians accordingly.

The War on Drugs lives on, like the War on/Occupation of Iraq, not for any moral reason, but simply because it's good for business.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

Shot,

I'm still not understanding fully the whole stamp thing. It almost sounds a bit like double jeopardy from how some newspapers have described it. You buy pot, you get busted, they bang you for possession and then make you pay taxes on what you possessed(i.e. the stamp). I'm not sure if I'm catching it right or not, but I really didn't get the sense that buying the stamp would allow one to freely purchase or sell marijuana. That, my friend, sounds way to reasonable for New York State.

5:46,

Truer words were ne'er spoken. Pot is a business for law enforcement. The saddest thing is the shell game anti-drug activists play with it: Use the drug to inflate crime statistics, use the statistics to justify more cops, more prisons, A LARGER PUBLIC SAFETY FACILITY, et cetera.

Anyone who's been to Dutch Amsterdam can attest the drug ain't the root of all evil; criminalizing it, on the other hand, just might be.

11:00 PM  
Blogger shotinthedark said...

Pot is to the law enforcement is like guns is to the military industrial complex.
The drug war, the war on terror, and now the war on illegal immigrants has been elevated by some very sleazy politicians to a frenzied state, accepted and applauded by an ignorant voting public, and have made the haves a lot more richer than the have-nots.
Oh, what a world.

Hey, but what the hell at least we have got the DARE program.

6:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The DARE program has been proven to be generally ineffective in getting kids not to use alcohol and drugs and in getting kids to rat out their friends who do to their new "friend," the DARE cop.

But it gets great PR for the police, as local media love the "cops with kids" story.

And local media rarely are aware of, and never report on, the dozens of studies that show that DARE does not come close to achieving its stated purpose.

3:53 PM  
Blogger shotinthedark said...

Don't bogart that joint my friend..

Todays' KOS

Cannabis in the news
by Jamaste
Fri Feb 15, 2008 at 11:16:46 AM PST

From MPP:
American College of Physicians Speaks Out for Medical Marijuana

"A clear discord exists between the scientific community and federal legal and regulatory agencies over the medicinal value of marijuana, which impedes the expansion of research."

"ACP urges review of marijuana's status as a Schedule I controlled substance and reclassification into a more appropriate schedule, given the scientific evidence regarding marijuana’s safety and efficacy in some clinical conditions."

"Given marijuana’s proven efficacy at treating certain symptoms and its relatively low toxicity, reclassification would reduce barriers to research and increase availability of cannabinoid drugs to patients who have failed to respond to other treatments."

"ACP strongly urges protection from criminal or civil penalties for patients who use medical marijuana as permitted under state laws."

12:19 PM  
Blogger shotinthedark said...

Horatio Alger said

“I'm not sure if I'm catching it right or not, but I really didn't get the sense that buying the stamp would allow one to freely purchase or sell marijuana”


I haven’t done a lot of reading on it myself. I was under the impression users would pay a tax. I am assuming that this is all done under the honor system, something like an unmanned farm stand.
Supposedly the right-hand of one government agency (tax and finance) will not divulge to the left-hand government agency (law enforcement) that you are a crack or pot head.
In the event you do get busted, I guess this will only mitigate your jeopardy as far as any tax problems are concerned.
Sadly, you would still be criminally fucked.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

was the third guy with arkenau and aetraus arkenaus bother in law? when they stole the weed?

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

first off this witter/ BLOGGER writes with these little jokes about eating captain crunch and kev just sitting around smoking pot n listening to bob marley. like its so funny and people like him are why we need security how about people like roger who killed him are the reason we bneed security. how dare u, like he hasnt been bad mouthed enough all ready .. how much time do u have on ur hands to have to ta;lk about him on some website? u dont know what circumstances he had in his life that brought him to selling drugs do u? although theres ever a good reason but he was gun totting thug by any means. n there was more to that story he didint just go take advantage of two girls and rob em either and it wasnt the first time they met. so get ur facts straight b4 u tell them to the world. although your article has a lot of information in it its not all right. he had a family n friends so think about that b4 u write things about someone who was murdered. he isnt the criminal, now hes the victim which u clearly seemed to miss. in this article as the blogger..

1:46 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

1:46,

You obviously didn't read the first installment of this post, nor did you get the crux of this one: If drugs like marijuana weren't illegal, perhaps none of this would have happened.

Certainly, Kevin Arkenau was a victim. After all, he was the one who was shot. And frankly, I don't pretend to know much more than the written word on this story and what I've been told by a sparse few source. I've said on another thread, if you have more compelling information, or care to dispute these facts, I'm more than willing to listen. You can e-mail me or leave a post. If you choose the later, please specify whether you want it posted in the public domain.

Unfortunately, I've had few takers in my quest for more knowledge about this case. If you don't care to involve yourself, I'll just have to go by what my research as unearthed. And believe me, there was a fair amount of research done.

The ball is in your court.

11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

whats ur email and ill b happy to dispute the facts

4:47 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

If you look to the right of the main page(iSaratoga.blogspot.com), you'll find an area that says 'Tips? Comments? Concerns?' Nail that link and you'll find yourself emailing me. I look forward to your correspondence.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

One week and I'm still waiting to hear from you...what compelled you into silence? Just in case you couldn't find the e-mail, it's isaratoga@hotmail.com.

10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously, they went silent b/c they cannot denfend their comments.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

arkenau did not have a brother in law so the answer is no there was no brother in law there

10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh i went silent, because i felt u were baiting me to give information the police had warned me not to give out till after trial. So i realized i was better off staying out of it. since my desire is to get the true facts out and i have been asked not to comment directly on nights events. but once that murdering jerk goes to jail ill b happy to tel u what i know. Believe me i can defend my comments.. i will too once hes put away for life and the true criminal is put in jail then maybe it will be seen that kevin really was a victim this time. yes he was committing a crime but he then became a victim in his own crime.. my point was just to make people realize that he's the victim now not the criminal.

10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They should make MJ legal, than we all can be happy:)

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kev has a brother in law....he is facing charges again....he is the same in law that ran sacked all kevs stuff when he was murdered....there was no 3rd person...just someone who knew way more than anyone thought...even the FBI....

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

kev does not have a brother in-law. i do know who your speaking of the so called ransacking of the house. kev is not married. n he did come clean of everything he knew to the fbi he went and testified.

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

he testified because he was corned with some facts....if the facts did not reach the feds he would have just let it go knowing who killed his own blood.....and even now his own life is coming full circle and catching up to him...he is a coward and justice will come to him as well...

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am tempted to find out who u r. We probably know eachother lol.. If that's the case and why he came out w truth then that sucks andi hope that's not the case... I guess I will remain to hope its not all though u r right he is still facing his own demons from what I have heard .

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am tempted to find out who u r. We probably know eachother lol.. If that's the case and why he came out w truth then that sucks andi hope that's not the case... I guess I will remain to hope its not all though u r right he is still facing his own demons from what I have heard .

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also Intrested to find out how u know these things and how u believe so strongly that's true. Not sure why but just wondering.

12:14 PM  

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