- The Washington Times - Friday, March 2, 2007

Noble: The Drug Enforcement Agency, for busting a major Mexican drug-trafficking ring.

DEA agents arrested 66 persons on Wednesday, bringing the total number for their 20-month investigation of the Victor Emilio Cazares-Gastellum (also known as Victor Emilio Cazares-Salazar) drug-trafficking empire to 400. Agents seized more than 18 tons of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin, along with $45.2 million and various weapons and vehicles, according to the DEA Web site.

The Mexico-based group would smuggle the narcotics from Colombia and Venezuela through Mexico, then into the United States via points along the Southwest border. They even “built a bridge made of sandbags across the Colorado river near Yuma, Az., which allowed them to simply drive across the waterway,” ABC News reported. Once in the United States, the drugs would be distributed to U.S. cells scattered across the country.

The investigation, known as “Operation Imperial Emperor,” was led by the DEA but included the FBI, ICE and the IRS, among others. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has praised the officers and agents for working together “against a common foe.” DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy said Wednesday that “we ripped out this empire’s U.S. infrastructure from its commanders and transportation coordinators to its local distribution cells across the country … and tossed it in the dustbin of history.”

For keeping 18 tons of illegal drugs out of the United States, the DEA is the Noble of the week.

Knave: D.C hospitals, for forgetting about the remains of infants.

This heartbreaking story exposes the Washington Hospital Center, Howard University Hospital and several others for keeping the remains of more than 100 stillborn babies and fetuses long past the city-mandated 30-day limit.

The issue surfaced when hospital workers at WHC found the remains of 95 infants in a box in the morgue refrigerator. Health officials were notified, which led to an investigation of other city hospitals. A letter obtained by The Washington Post and written by Janis M. Orlowski, the senior vice president and chief medical officer of WHC, to D.C. Health Director Gregg Pane, said that the hospital had implemented a new policy that allowed parents additional time to make decisions about the remains of the deceased. If bodies go unclaimed or the parents request it, the hospital is responsible for arrangements. But “[b]ecause of the retirement of one key employee and the death of another, the remains were not disposed of, even as the 30-day deadline passed, the letter said.” Presumably, the other hospitals’ mistake was due to similar administrative incompetency.

Besides being operationally stupid, this event has undoubtedly affected many D.C. families forced to rehash a miscarriage or the birth of a stillborn baby and then to wonder if he or she was left in a morgue refrigerator for upwards of five years. This story can only be described as horrific.

For their insensitivity and massive oversight, D.C. hospitals are the Knave of the week.

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