Connect with us

High Life

Most Affected: Daniel Longoria, Joe Cavazos and Travis Longoria Fight for Their Freedom

Published

on

most-affected:-daniel-longoria,-joe-cavazos-and-travis-longoria-fight-for-their-freedom

This Most Affected installment looks at sentences of those incarcerated for cannabis, and this case deserves your special attention. 

Life was difficult for Daniel Longoria and Jose “Joe” Cavazos growing up in the small border town of Brownfield, Texas. The stepbrothers were two of six in a house supported by a mom and stepdad who struggled to make ends meet.

“We grew up very poor,” Daniel told High Times

Most Affected
Courtesy of Daniel Longoria

By 15, Daniel had developed a severe drug habit, including a meth addiction. Four years after being kicked out of home, he continued using until a near-fatal overdose at 19. After the grave scare, Daniel committed to changing his life. He contacted his mother, asking her to help him get clean.

“I went to her and told her that I wanted to change my life,” he recalled. Once on the path to sobriety, she paid for his auto school tuition.

Her investment in Daniel paid off. He earned his mechanic’s degree in Lubbock, about 45 miles north of Brownfield, hitching rides with friends to school for a year and a half until he earned his certification. He then headed to Fort Worth to further separate himself from his past. There, Daniel climbed the ranks, becoming a manager in Fort Worth and Abilene shops for over a decade. In 2001, he opened his own shop, Abilene Automotive and Performance. 

Around the same time, he started doing business with a cannabis dealer through a family connection. Daniel said he’d occasionally do five-pound deals, with orders eventually doubling in size. Despite having a thriving career, Daniel thought of his family back home. He figured the pot sales would help support them as they had helped him in the past. 

“Cannabis was not for me,” he said. “It was to help out my mother who was struggling,” he said. 

In 2008, he was arrested and sentenced to 10 years of probation the following year. In 2014, Daniel was arrested by federal agents once again. The charge was for one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of cannabis. Feds allege Daniel had overseen an operation that smuggled cannabis inside car stereos. Cavazos, Daniel’s then-20-year-old son Travis and three others were eventually found guilty in the scheme. 

Most Affected
Courtesy of Travis Longoria

“A Cycle that Ain’t Been Broken”

Cavazos was apprehended at his nearby auto shop. The ordeal left him floored. He pushed back against his alleged involvement in drugs or illegal activity. He did the same for Daniel, swearing that his stepbrother had spent the past few years turning his life around. Rather than dealing drugs, he said the two were regular Sunday church-goers who put on occasional fundraisers for the local elderly community. 

In custody at the federal courthouse, Cavazos alleges that Feds said they wanted him to testify against Daniel. Cavazos refused to provide a statement against his stepbrother, swearing that both men were tax-paying business owners and nothing else. 

He said he told Feds, “You’re asking me to testify against somebody that I know for a fact is not doing anything.” 

Daniel and Cavazos claim they had no involvement in the operation. However, Travis was involved for similar reasons as his dad once had. Travis already had a child with his high school sweetheart. By 17, he was working at Daniel’s shop as a mechanic, supporting the family while his girlfriend took care of their daughter and home. Travis, who lived with two different stepmoms and his grandmother while his mom was in and out of prison, didn’t want to see his home fall apart. He turned to illegal drug sales to make more money.

“I guess it’s a cycle that ain’t been broken,” he said. 

Daniel claims that issues at home with his now-ex-wife led to her revealing details to the Feds about his past illicit dealings. With the Feds tracking him and his workers, he said he told his son to cut out any pot activity. 

“You need to stop because if you don’t, they’re gonna use you to put me in prison,” Daniel recalled telling Travis.

But, Travis didn’t listen. “He turned his life over to God, and that’s when I started doing my thing,” Travis said. When he was arrested, Travis’ girlfriend was just a few weeks away from giving birth to their second child. 

The three went to trial and were all ultimately found guilty. Cavazos, a first-time offender, received nine years, while Travis received 10. Daniel, alleged to be the head of the ring, received 30 years. 

Daniel, now 56, is currently jailed at FCI El Reno in Oklahoma with a 2040 scheduled release date. Travis, now 29, is at FCI Beaumont Medium prison in Texas. Cavazos, now 58, spent most of his sentence in a Texas prison. Since May 2020, he has been in home confinement with a monitoring device due to the pandemic and the passage of the CARES Act that released select non-violent offenders. 

“I am on home confinement, but I want to be released from this ankle monitor and given clemency,” Cavazos said via email.

The sentences continue to be a sticking point for the men. Their frustrations center on the legal process, including a lack of transparency and an information gap defendants often encounter. They allege that evidence proves that Feds, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Juanita Fielden, built the case upon paid testimonies and improper practices. Cavazos said he has a CD of evidence he hopes to use to clear their records one day when Longoria is free and they can afford legal representation.  

He states that the disc contains conversations Cavazos had with police as well as statements from witnesses in exchange for their immunity. 

“This ain’t over yet,” said Cavazos of the legal fight.

Courtesy of Daniel Longoria, Joe Cavazos and Travis Longoria
Courtesy of Joe Cavazos

Hoping for an Early Return to Their Families

Since inside, each man has done their part to turn their lives around. By 2016, all three had completed drug education courses. Cavazos also took classes on parenting and landscaping. Travis earned his GED in 2014 and has completed several OHSA safety courses. Daniel, too, earned his GED while also working on anger management, spiritual growth and art. He has maintained an outstanding record the past seven years. 

Each hopes that their efforts and nonviolent offenses will earn them their permanent returns home soon. The Longorias both continue to wait out the end of their sentences. Travis reportedly does his best to avoid the lure of gang life that often sucks in inmates. Meanwhile, Daniel continues to be part of his family’s life, but the sentence has affected them all.

“When they put me in prison, they put the family in,” said Daniel. 

The effects have been most noticeable on his two youngest children, with his 15-year-old daughter Lexy attempting to take her own life in 2017. Meanwhile, he and his youngest son have a strained relationship as the nearly teenage boy goes through emotional bouts related to growing up without a father. Hurt but empathetic, Daniel said he does his best to show his son that he didn’t do anything violent and that the plant that put him in jail is now considered medicine to millions. 

At the same time, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the family, leading to the death of his sister and step-father. Daniel also became infected with the virus, reporting that he still experiences shortness of breath. Despite it all, Longoria relies on his faith and tries to remain positive. 

As 2021 came to a close, the three remained uncertain of their next steps. Cavazos hopes to serve the rest of his sentence at home with his family. Meanwhile, the Longorias hope to see their sentences reduced or cleared so they can come home to their families. Daniel is excited to get back to supporting the family and being a thriving member of the community. He said that an uncle is ready to turn the keys to his two-decade-old body repair shop over to Daniel so that he can retire. Until then, the entire family, including Daniel and Cavazos’ mom, works at the shop.

Daniel said his uncle told him, “I need you to hurry up and get out because I need you to take over the shop.” Daniel said he plans to expand the shop to provide his auto mechanic expertise once he’s released. 

Join us in advocating for these three men by signing the following petitions: DanielTravis and Joe.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

High Life

Amazon Endorses Federal Cannabis Legalization

Published

on

amazon-endorses-federal-cannabis-legalization

Amazon said this week that it supports a Republican congresswoman’s proposal to end the prohibition of marijuana on the federal level, the company’s latest embrace of legalization. 

In a tweet posted on Tuesday, Amazon said it was “pleased to endorse” a bill introduced by Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC).

“Like so many in this country, we believe it’s time to reform the nation’s cannabis policy and Amazon is committed to helping lead the effort,” the company said

Mace introduced the legislation, called the “States Reform Act,” in November, saying at the time that “Washington needs to provide a framework which allows states to make their own decisions on cannabis moving forward.”

The bill would remove cannabis from Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act, a law that has kept weed illegal on the federal level and has made some states hesitant to pursue their own cannabis laws. 

“Today, only three states lack some form of legal cannabis,” Mace said in her November announcement. “My home state of South Carolina permits CBD, Florida allows medical marijuana, California and others have full recreational use, for example. Every state is different. Cannabis reform at the federal level must take all of this into account. And it’s past time federal law codifies this reality.”

Mace said that her bill would enshrine protections for veterans who have used cannabis to treat their PTSD, and would be respectful of each state’s own unique laws.

“This is why I’m introducing the States Reform Act, a bill which seeks to remove cannabis from Schedule I in a manner consistent with the rights of states to determine what level of cannabis reform each state already has, or not,” she continued in her announcement. “This bill supports veterans, law enforcement, farmers, businesses, those with serious illnesses, and it is good for criminal justice reform. Furthermore, a super-majority of Americans support an end to cannabis prohibition, which is why only three states in the country have no cannabis reform at all. The States Reform Act takes special care to keep Americans and their children safe while ending federal interference with state cannabis laws. Washington needs to provide a framework which allows states to make their own decisions on cannabis moving forward. This bill does that.”

On Tuesday, Mace touted the bill’s endorsement from Amazon, saying the company “is making a common-sense decision that many other businesses, large and small, agree with.”

“Amazon employs nearly a million U.S. workers, and this opens up their hiring pool by about 10 percent. Cannabis reform is supported by over three quarters of the American public, and the States Reform Act is something both sides of the aisle can get behind,” Mace said.

For Amazon, America’s second largest employer, the endorsement is yet another sign of the company’s weed-friendly stance.

Last June, Amazon said that it would “no longer include marijuana in our comprehensive drug screening program for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation, and will instead treat it the same as alcohol use.” In September, the company went further, saying it was reinstating “employment eligibility for former employees and applicants who were previously terminated or deferred during random or pre-employment marijuana screenings.”

The are also emerging signs that the company is set to ramp up its pro-marijuana lobbying efforts, with Politico reporting in July that cannabis groups “are pinning their hopes on Amazon using its experienced lobbying team and deep pockets to support their efforts, believing it could help them launch ad campaigns and persuade lawmakers opposed to legalization—especially those who represent states where cannabis is legal—to change their minds.”

Continue Reading

High Life

Missouri backpedals, grants medical marijuana grow license to losing applicant

Published

on

missouri-backpedals,-grants-medical-marijuana-grow-license-to-losing-applicant

A Missouri government panel overturned a decision by state medical marijuana regulators and awarded a cannabis cultivation permit to an applicant that initially was rejected in 2019 and then sued the state.

According to Kansas City, Missouri, NPR affiliate KCUR, the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission awarded NWGMO a grow permit in late December after it found that the state’s scoring process for the MMJ licenses was directed by “intentionally vague guidance.”

The state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which oversees Missouri’s MMJ industry, announced it would not appeal the ruling in favor of a settlement to end NWGMO’s lawsuit.

NWGMO is one of hundreds of companies that complained, appealed or filed suit over the scoring process after the announcement of license winners.

The commission found that the DHHS’s overall process was flawed and that NWGMO’s case presented a solid example because the company submitted two identical applications that were returned with very different numerical scores.

Growing is all about the lighting: MJBizDaily Lighting Buyers Guide 

Read our exclusive guide for strategies and tips from expert cultivators who have amassed decades of experience studying horticulture lighting. Curated by MJBizDaily.

Inside:

  • Horticultural professionals debunk 8 common lighting myths in cannabis
  • How cannabis extraction companies can reduce energy costs
  • Why experts say the future of horticultural lighting is in LED technology
  • Cannabis lighting Glossary of Terms
  • Buyers checklist

That situation, the commission found, revealed that the licensing had been more subjective than objective. So the commission sided with NWGMO.

This is the fourth time the commission has overruled the DHHS on licensing matters, KCUR reported, including other instances of inconsistencies in the state’s MMJ license application scoring.

Continue Reading

High Life

EU Cannabis Consumption Increased and Ecstasy Use Decreased in 2021

Published

on

eu-cannabis-consumption-increased-and-ecstasy-use-decreased-in-2021

A new survey studying the consumption habits of participants in the European Union (EU) reveal that cannabis use has increased, and the use of ecstasy has decreased considerably.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) recently found that cannabis and ecstasy saw the strongest changes in consumption habits. The European Web Survey on Drugs was conducted online between March and April 2021 with the intention of illuminating patterns of drug use to consider in future regulation. Throughout 21 EU countries and nine non-EU countries, the survey recorded answers from those who were 18 or older and had used drugs.

The survey results, published on January 20, recorded the drug use breakdown of the 48,469 participants. “Cannabis was the drug used most, with 93 percent of survey respondents reporting to have used it in the previous 12 months and with little variation between countries,” the survey results state. “MDMA/ecstasy (35 percent), cocaine (35 percent) and amphetamine (28 percent) were the next most reported illicit substances, with the order of the three drugs varying by country. Around a third of respondents (32 percent) reported using more (herbal) cannabis and 42 percent using less MDMA/ecstasy.” The results also show that a group of participants had used LSD (20 percent), a new psychoactive substance (16 percent), ketamine (13 percent) and heroin (three percent).

Furthermore, participants from the Western Balkans (which is made up of a Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo) also echoed the high consumption of cannabis, and decreased use in other substances—especially ecstasy. “Most respondents (91 percent) reported using cannabis in the previous 12 months, followed by cocaine (38 percent), MDMA/ecstasy (22 percent) and amphetamine (20 percent). Again, around a third of respondents (32 percent) reported using more (herbal) cannabis and 34 percent using less MDMA/ecstasy.”

In terms of where these substances were consumed, 85 percent of participants in the EU and 72 percent of the Western Balkans used these substances at home, rather than at public venues. It also takes into account that the motivation for cannabis use at home was because of a multitude of reasons. Participants wanted to relax, get high in order to improve sleep, but their use of MDMA or ecstasy was used to attain “euphoric and socialising [sic] effects.”

The study result breakdown states that the information shared by the 50,000 people included in the survey is just a small portion of the EU, but still offers a useful glimpse into the changing habits of residents. “While web surveys are not representative of the general population, when carefully conducted and combined with traditional data-collection methods, they can help paint a more detailed, realistic and timely picture of drug use and drug markets in Europe. Over 100 organisations [sic] took part in the initiative, including the Reitox national focal points, universities and NGOs.”

EMCDDA Director Alexis Goosdeel shared a statement regarding the goal of this survey, and the amount of participation needed from organizations to sort and analyze the data. “Web surveys are a key ingredient in our monitoring of Europe’s shifting drugs problem,” Goosdeel said. “They help us reach an important target population through innovative online methods. Today’s results reveal the wide variety of drugs available across Europe and provide valuable information on emerging trends and changing patterns of use during the COVID-19 pandemic. An impressive 100 organisations [sic] joined us this time in building, translating and disseminating the survey, ensuring that this is now an invaluable tool to help tailor our responses and shape future drug policies.”

Other studies in the U.S. have shed light on other topics related to cannabis, such as targeting teens with ads on social media or an updated Gallup survey that shows that a majority of Americans support legalization.

Continue Reading

Trending