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Margarette McCurdy

Find all blog entries created by Margarette McCurdy. I2geo members can add a comment on any blog entry.

Major Dark And Historical Moments In Drag Racing And Drug Running And Drug Prose

There is widespread disagreement on how and when drag racing got its start. Some credit the year 1913 with being one of the early historical moments in drag racing. That was when Wally Parks, future founder of the National Hot Rod Association, met his mother for the first time, right after getting his backside slapped by the doctor. Others trace the birth of the sport to the 1930s, when California's hot rodders found a new use for dried lakebeds in the Mojave Desert.

Forty years after Wally Parks made his first appearance, a young woman in Peru was giving birth to Jose Carlos Chavez Vernaza, Pepe for short. Pepe turned out to be an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Probably not the future the young woman on the delivery table had in mind. Pepe was also one of the major players in a historical drug investigation in Portland. His partner, James Francis Barnard, was the racer. Barnard's two loves, the coke business and drag racing, dovetailed nicely. The racers bought the goods, and the profits went into Barnard's fuel tank.

Another major character in this tale was Ray Tercek, FBI agent tasked with shutting down Barnard and Chavez' business. Knowing that traditional "buy and bust" methods of drug enforcement weren't going to apply here, Tercek applied the technique called historical drug investigation. A federal prosecution was the only this was going to play out the way he wanted it to. This way, he and his posse managed to indict, prosecute and incarcerate the Barnard-Chavez team.

A federal grand jury has the power to compel testimony under grants of use immunity. It is what gives historical drug investigations their leverage. Its success depends on the ability of law enforcement officers to do their job free from the interference of the bureaucrats.

Drugs and drag racing make a lethal combination. The drugs give the drivers the edge they need to take the high risks they need to get ahead. Racing attracts betting, big business with all that drug money floating around the track. Such is the seedier side of motor racing.

Obviously, infiltrating racing events is a great way for a Portland drug investigator to gather intelligence as part of an investigation. It is unclear whether the cop that kicked off the country's largest drug conspiracy investigation ever used this as a strategy. What was clear was, when the minor investigation into Chavez' activities led to the larger investigation, traditional methods of buy and bust would be ineffective.

Tercek and his team had the names of 200 people in the conspiracy, in five different countries. Between them, distributors, couriers, bookkeepers, chemists, smugglers, packagers and street dealers, the Chavez crew had shifted more than half a ton of snow. The wholesale value of their capers, in 1980s money, was fifteen million dollars.

The trial to bring down Barnard took a week. The jury spent just 3 hours in their deliberations. Barnard went down for five years. An historical for Barnard, too, it seems. Justice eluded Jose Carlos Chavez Vernaza on that occasion. He got away scot free. Must have been a faster driver than his mate.

Don't miss the historical drug investigation Portland by visiting our library of books on the Net. Get the essential news on drug investigation Portland authors have written about at

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