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Ryn: Mules and fools wanted for drug careers

Anyone looking for a career that is exciting, creative and full of surprises can find it right here in southern Arizona.

You can go into drug smuggling.

Drug dog Becky sits atop the 133 pounds of marijuana she sniffed out/AZDPS photo
Drug dog Becky sits atop the 133 pounds of marijuana she sniffed out during a bust in March/AZDPS photo

This lucrative and enticing opportunity will never have you hunkered over a cramped computer for hours on end.

Nor will you be subjected to excruciating board meetings, layoffs due to the recession or those horrible dress code things that always got me in trouble at the insurance office on Madison Avenue.

You make your own hours, wear what you will and earn enough cash to buy fancy sharkskin suits and machine guns.

In a bustling week starting June 5, the Arizona Department of Public Safety seized more than $830,000 in suspected drug cash; 35 pounds of cocaine; three pounds of methamphetamine; and, with the help of some other agencies, 660 pounds of marijuana.

One caveat, of course, is you cannot get caught.

But hauls similar to those could be yours if you use some ingenuity.

All types of strange places have been used for drug smuggling, so you need to come up with something new.

Drugs stuffed in the dashboard, car seats and fuel tanks are old hat. So are drugs stuffed in old hats, wheel wells and vehicle trunks, engines and speakers.

One that could have been ingenuous was foiled because the smuggler got carried away.

A man with a tractor-trailer full of watermelon was crossing the border earlier this month with cocaine stuffed in a very creative place.

No, not in the watermelon. Drugs stuffed in foodstuff is also passé and obvious.

He thought of jamming cocaine into a fire extinguisher. The only problem was, he thought it such a grand idea that he tried to haul seven fire extinguishers through U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

Since watermelon are not known for being particularly flammable, border patrol officers decided to have the drug dog check out these fire extinguishers to see what the deal was.

The deal for the watermelon dude will now most likely be jail time. And he doesn’t even get to keep the watermelon.

Another spot that had lots of potential for drug stuffing is dead bodies. The corpse’s stomach can be hallowed out and made into a particularly clever hiding space where not many people would want to search.

In another tale that may or may not be true, a mother crosses the border cradling her baby in her arms. An agent, however, notes the baby doesn’t look too well and asks to take a closer peek. The mom runs off, accidentally dropping the child, who is found to have been brutally murdered and gutted so his insides could be stuffed with drugs.

While this tale may seem far-fetched, similar circumstances have been used to smuggle drugs inside the living.

Balloons, small baggies or condoms are stuffed with drugs and swallowed or crammed in bodily orifices.

Several problems have popped up from using drug balloons. Some start clogging intestines or other places and need to be surgically removed.

Still others begin to leak and the person ends up flipping out or dying from a massive drug overdose.

We never said this career was without its dangers. Otherwise, everyone would be doing it.

In addition to dead babies and a fatal drug overdose, an even greater danger lurks in the land of smugglers.

The drug-sniffing dog. These canines are trained to detect marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and anything else that makes you high, stoned, spaced-out or is illegal to carry across the border.

Even a juicy T-bone won’t deter these pooches from their mission. Your only hope is not to get them called over in your general direction.

So be frugal with those fire extinguishers.

And be careful. This is not a job for sissies, although it may be a job for idiots. But with all the busts, murders and deaths, at least you know it’s a field where there will always be new openings.

Ryn Gargulinski is an artist, poet and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who never tried to smuggle drugs but once smuggled her pet rat on an airplane. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Listen to her webcast at 4 p.m. Fridays at www.Party934.com. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitrizen.com

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Top 10 signs of burnout

My busy bee mom taught me a lot of things, one of which I am trying very had to un-learn.

Mom is the type who will not stop working. She has even come up with a way to multi-task gardening with ironing and chatting on the phone while mopping the kitchen floor.

Burnt-out cat/Ryn Gargulinski
Burnt out cat/Ryn Gargulinski

Since I meditate, work out, do yoga and engage in many other stress-relieving exercises, I can usually handle a pretty heavy load. My blood pressure is also usually towards the “does she even have a pulse?” end.

But the load just severed the camel’s head.

My recent semi-annual checkup at the doc showed my blood pressure in the “check it once a week if it gets any higher you call me immediately” zone.

I’ve also noted other signs of burnout I’ve been trying very hard to ignore:

• You employ nonsensical metaphors

• You have to read a single paragraph 206 times and still don’t absorb what it says, even when it’s lurid details about a Kentucky serial killer who slashed open his victims and set them on fire

• You forget your address

• Your jaw stays locked in a half open position

• You begin to drool

• You don’t feel it when Phoebe keeps jumping at you with her razor claws to take her for a walk

• You don’t tend to the gushing wound from Phoebe jumping at you with her razor claws to take her for a walk

• Your closet shelf falls down and you just leave it there

• You lock yourself out of the house. Twice in one day. (And it’s even tougher to get back in because you’ve already forgotten your address.)

• You blog about burnout

Rynski note: I will be taking Friday off, but I will post my column late Thursday night so you think it was posted Friday morning and no one is the wiser.

When is the last time you hit burnout?

Did you sever a camel’s head?

What do you do to revitalize yourself?

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The real reason behind Tucson’s high food prices

Bananas skin our wallets at 59 cents per pound. A single red pepper pops bank account, often weighing in at more than $1.50. Give us a break.

Sure, it’s rather costly to have fresh fruits and veggies hauled to the middle of the desert from those faraway, lush places in which they thrive. But that’s not the real reason behind Tucson’s high food prices.

The culprit is the stolen shopping cart.

These four-wheeled creatures show up in some of the strangest places. Shopping cart spottings of late have included the wash, the river walk, random street corners, several bus stops and behind a post office on Speedway Boulevard where two carts were converging on a mailbox. They appeared to be accosting the poor defenseless mail container who could not even be saved by the threat of federal prosecution.

Carts accosting a mailbox/Ryn Gargulinski
Carts accosting a mailbox/Ryn Gargulinski

Supermarkets across the city have not issued any reports that pinpoint exactly how much money is lost due to stolen shopping carts, but we can surmise stores make up the loss by over-pricing peppers.

Cart at a bus stop/Ryn Gargulinski
Cart at a bus stop/Ryn Gargulinski

Stolen shopping carts are so common and costly that some stores employ brake shoe locks that stop the cart from rambling beyond the store’s parking lot. Others imprint the kiddie seats with a warning that it’s not nice to steal.

Best Buy cart on river walk, miles from any Best Buy/Ryn Gargulinski
Best Buy cart on river walk, miles from any Best Buy/Ryn Gargulinski

Still others may caution a security camera is watching the potential thief from a tower somewhere where a guard is equipped with the same weaponry found at Pelican Bay State Prison.

Pelican Bay guard tower/Ryn Gargulinski
Pelican Bay guard tower/Ryn Gargulinski

To make matters even costlier, Arizona Revised Statute 44-1799.33 explains how the shopping cart’s original owners may have to reimburse the city if the cart has become impounded after laying around in the wash, river walk, random street corner, bus stop or converging on a mailbox on Speedway.

How unfair. Fines should be issued instead to those caught stealing the carts or using them as playthings in the sand.

Tucson, fight back. Bring those wayward shopping carts back home. Shopping carts found out and about can be returned to their store of origin by simply attaching them with bungee cords to your car roof.

Roll the cart directly to the store manager and tell him where you found it and how you went to great lengths to bring it back. Then ask for a discount on bananas and peppers.

You never know. It may just work. And it will also save that poor Speedway mailbox from further harassment.

Anyone not sure what is meant by “shopping cart,” can check out the definition at ARS 44-0179.31

Where’s the strangest place you’ve seen a wayward shopping cart?

Have you ever stolen a shopping cart? If yes, shame on you.

Have you ever returned one to its rightful owner? If yes, you deserve a free banana.

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June 17 in history: Where were you during the O.J. chase?

I wasn’t born yet for the Kennedy thing, was on Brooklyn’s 69th Street Pier watching the towers burn down on Sept. 11 and was in a class full of middle school social studies students watching the Challenger launch on TV when it blew up.

But I can’t remember where I was during the infamous O.J. chase on June 17, 1994. At the time I was still at Brooklyn College, so I’d guess I was in Brooklyn. But it was June and school would have been out. So I really have no clue.

Others remember it more vividly. A friend of mine sat down to officially begin his DJ career with his first music shift on this day in 1994. “I was a little distracted to say the least as I was sure (and eager to see) O.J. blow his brains out on live TV.”

I would call O.J. a jerk, but I got too much guff for calling Mike Tyson one in a previous post.

So, even though it appears O.J. was the most likely suspect in the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and her lover and he fled from the law in a historical high-speed chase yet eventually got to walk away free and clear, we will pretend he is nice person so folks don’t get upset.

Where were your during the infamous O.J. Chase?

Did you want him to blow his brains out or do you, too, think he’s a nice person and not a jerk?

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Tucson used car salesmen may face decades in prison for fraud

Two Tucson used car salesmen were busted for reportedly doing those nasty things we already think used car salesmen do.

Too bad this Hurricane Motors duo bolstered the negative stereotype, although the news release did not state if they took the stereotype to the limits and also wore cheap, brown suits.

David “Jay” Franklin, 47, and John D. Franklin, Sr., 72, allegedly bilked customers and a finance company out of nearly $200,000 through switched car titles and fraudulent loans. Maximum penalties Franklin and Franklin the elder could get if convicted are 85 and 62 years in prison, respectively.

Did they sell this thing?/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Did they sell this thing?/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Tucson Auto Dealers Charged with Fraud, Money Laundering, Arizona Attorney General news release

PHOENIX – Attorney General Terry Goddard announced the indictment of John David “Jay” Franklin, 47, of Tucson, and John D. Franklin, Sr., 72, of Tucson, on charges of fraudulent schemes and artifices, theft, illegally conducting an enterprise and money laundering.

The Franklins owned and operated Hurricane Motors, a used car dealership located (at 3100 N. Oracle Road) in Tucson. They are alleged to have stolen approximately $50,000 from Hurricane customers as well as $145,000 from Car Financial Services, Inc (“CFI”), a motor vehicle financing company.

According to investigators, Hurricane Motors allegedly defrauded individual buyers out of more than $50,000 through a scheme known as “shuffling titles.” The company allegedly assured buyers that the cars they were purchasing had clean titles, meaning there were no outstanding debts or liens on the cars. In many cases, there allegedly were significant existing liens on the cars.

When customers attempted to register their cars with the Arizona Motor Vehicle Department, they were unable to do so because of the existing lien. In addition, the customers who purchased the cars became responsible for the payment of the pre-existing lien.

When customers complained to Hurricane Motors, investigators say that Jay Franklin assured the customers that he would resolve the problem. However, after several unsuccessful attempts to obtain permanent registration, many buyers stopped payment on the cars. Consequently, Hurricane Motors would repossess the cars and, according to investigators, resell them using the same fraudulent tactics.

Additionally, the Franklins allegedly sold the auto financing agreements that individual buyers formed with Hurricane Motors to the financing company, CFI. CFI buys and services contracts from car dealers across the company, thereby absolving dealers of the expense of running a finance company and assuring the payment of contracts.

As a result of this arrangement, CFI became the holder of the financing agreements and stepped in as the replacement financier on the loans. CFI owned the cars until the individual buyers fully paid off the principal and interest on their loans.

Investigators said that the Franklins also established their own finance company, “Riteway,” to finance the end-user loans. All contracts with individual buyers that were financed were sold through loans offered by Riteway.

When the Franklins sold contracts to CFI, they allegedly did not inform many of their individual customers that the financing contracts had been sold and that all payments should be directed to CFI. As a result, Hurricane Motors, through its financing affiliate, Riteway, continued to collect monthly payments from individual buyers.

Further, when individual buyers questioned the new CFI bills they received in the mail, the Franklins allegedly assured them that they would forward payments to CFI and instructed buyers to continue to make payments to Riteway.

As a result, CFI did not receive payment on the cars and repossessed the vehicles. These repossessions led to numerous consumer complaints and ultimately led CFI to learn that Hurricane Motors and its affiliate Riteway never informed the customers that their contracts were sold.

If convicted on all charges, John David “Jay” Franklin faces between 15 and 85.6 years in prison, and John D. Franklin, Sr. faces between 10 and 62.8 years in prison.

My boss at an insurance agency where I worked would always say he liked used car salesmen. After all, he would qip, they are lower on the ladder than insurance agents.

Have you ever been shafted by a car salesman?
An insurance agent?
Do you think that VW bug featured in Crappy or Snappy was purchased at Hurricane Motors?

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