Statement From Michael Lacey on DEA Seizure

june 8, 2006  08:50 am
Statement From Michael Lacey on DEA Seizure
Statement from Michael Lacey, executive editor Village Voice Media
June 7, 2006

On Wednesday morning, June 7, two agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration seized a single bottle of a prescription drug, hydrocodone (the generic name for Vicodin), along with a single tube of steroid gel at the Houston Press office as part of the DEA's probe into our reporter's examination of online pharmacies. Craig Malisow was also warned by another agent that he had stepped over the line as he gathered his evidence. Before leaving the newspaper office the federal representatives also asked that a bottle of Xanax, purportedly en route to Malisow from Pakistan, be turned over should it ever make an appearance.

Chip Babcock of Jackson & Walker LLP represents the newspaper and Rusty Hardin with Rusty Hardin & Associates PC represents the writer in our ongoing efforts to report upon the sale of painkillers, steroids and other prescription drugs over the Internet. Without underestimating the concern that opiates might fall into the hands of abusers, Malisow also reached a class of online consumers -- people who suffer chronic pain -- who feel that government regulations force them to seek out unconventional relief.

In a stunning trifecta Malisow managed to incite all parties: online providers, consumers and federal agents. Beyond the intrusion of federal law enforcement agents, the reporter also became the focus of one disgruntled source who revealed Malisow's "secret" password online. Skullduggery ensued, the reporter's notes were erased, and personal e-mails were reviewed by third parties.

Only in the alternative press, thank you very much.

At Village Voice Media, we are not surprised that entrepreneurs engaged in dispensing narcotics online might engage in unethical disclosures in the course of a reporter's attempt to shed light upon their business practices. Nor are we shocked that federal agents find a reporter's behavior as threatening as the pill peddlers. We simply believe that the entire shooting match -- including our reporter's naiveté regarding his password -- benefits from full disclosure as well as a vigorous legal defense.

Read Craig Malisow's account on the Houston Press Web site: