tv NBC Bay Area We Investigate NBC July 21, 2018 6:30pm-7:00pm PDT
everyday and plus -- >> it's about 2:00 -- >> we just got here. >> but the meat has been in the truck for about four hours. >> with know refrigeration? >> restaurants risking your health. local rust rant owners gambling with food poisoning. but first. male: even just adding one of these sites to san francisco would save the city $3.5 million a year because of the savings in reduced hiv, viral hepatitis, overdoses. announcer: you've seen the addiction and stepped over the needles. could one solution to cleaning up san francisco now rest in canada?rter b. tonight, we investigate and hold the powerful accountable. we begin by taking you inside a place for drugs where addicts
can shoot up under the watchful eyes of medical staff. we traveled to canada to get rare access inside these sites. the goal is to save lives, get used needles off the streets, and convince drug users to seek treatment. the idea is radical and illegal in the us. but san francisco could soon become the first city in the nation to open one. tiffany folstitch: i wake up here every day and every night and-- bigad: tiffany folstitch came to san francisco from kansas city with dreams of being a writer. she's 26, homeless, and hooked on heroin. how long have you been using drugs? tiffany: about four and a half years. it doesn't seem like that, it seems like forever. bigad: do you worry this will kill you? i think that that's what i was hoping it would do. i just want to go backrry to the person that i was. bigad: tiffany is one of more than 22,000 drug users who regularly shoot up in san francisco.
a recent investigation exposed the amount of used needles scattered throughout downtown. san francisco workers collect more than 287,000 needles each month, but the city hands out about 400,000 new syringes at a cost of half a million dollars per year in hopes of preventing the spread of disease. alex kral: the solutions that we currently have clearly haven't helped. bigad: dr. alex kral is an infectious disease specialist. he's also part of a san francisco task force that recommends opening what are called supervised injection sites, where addicts bring their own drugs and shoot up under the care of medical staff. alex: even just adding one of these sites to san francivehs in reduced hiv, viral hepatitis, overdoses. they've already been doing this for 30 years in up to 11 different countries in over 100 cities, and it's proven to work in all those cities. so, why not try it here?
bigad: to learn more, we headed 700 miles north to canada. the bayside city of vancouver is often compared to san francisco. the city has eight supervised injection sites, where addicts get clean syringes for free to shoot up drugs like heroin and crystal meth. within just three months of opening one of these centers, the number of used syringes on nearby streets was cut by more than half. each person that comes through here is assigned their own private booth. they can dispose of their needles here. some can spend 15 minutes, others up to an hour. if someone overdoses, trained staff step in to inject life-saving drugs. workers also help addicts get into housing and rehab. darwin fischer: we are seeing more and more people struggling at survival level on the streets. bigad: darwin fischer runs one of the sites. darwin: it's not enabling drug use, it's enabling drug users to seek care. bigad: we were there at the center when he met with more than 30 business and government leaders from san francisco. they represent the mayor's office,
chamber of commerce, uber, and more. kelly powers is with the city's hotel council. kelly powers: i was very impressed. i think they have a good model here for people that want to come in and use safely. bigad: san francisco now plans to open two supervised injection sites by august, the first in the us. most on the tour are optimistic the centers could help clean up the city. but back in california, others aren't convinced. ron allen: how about finding another way to save their lives other than offering them their poison? bigad: bishop ron allen heads the international faith-based coalition, a drug prevention group based in sacramento that boasts 6,000 members across the country. he's also a former drug addict. ron: to think that an addict will walk in with their own dope and they're going to want to go to treatment that day is absolutely foolishness. i know for a fact you want your next hit. bigad: drug injection sites here in vancouver are used more than 30,000 times a month.
the city started the program about 15 years ago. and since then, not a single person has died of an overdose inside of any of the centers. but outside, across british columbia, about four people die each day from an overdose. it's now the leading cause of death. stephanie peterson says supervised injection sites brought her back to life. she recently moved off the streets into housing, and is now looking to enroll in college. before you came here, was getting off drugs ever a possibility for you? stephanie peterson: no. no, to tell you the truth, not really. bigad: some people hearing that might be scratching their heads. how does coming to an injection site make you want to get off drugs? stephanie: 'cause you see what they do. if you sat here for a day and you watched, they've helped me realize how bad my drug using was. bigad: where do you think you'd be without this place? stephanie: without them, i'd be dead 100%, and i know that for a fact. bigad: how long have you been homeless?
tiffany: going on eight years. bigad: tiffany folstitch isn't sure how much longer she can survive this life on the streets and on heroin. tiffany: i've been out here for so long that, like, it would take literally like a crumb to make me feel like, you know, i was worth something, you know? bigad: san francisco's first supervised injection sites would be funded with private donations. but the health department plans to use tax dollars to open several more within a year. state legislation has been proposed to legalize these centers, but the drug enforcement administration tells us under federal law, it would still be a crime for anyone to use the sites or even work inside. for now, that doesn't seem to be a sticking point for san francisco. announcer: we investigate why new legal marijuana businesses are being forced to turn armored trucks into mobile banks.
marijuana is now legal here in california, but pot businesses are facing a new dilemma. what to do with all that cash? weed is still illegal under federal law and most banks won't open accounts for people in the industry. from growers to the government, everyone says all that cash is dangerous and bad for business. and we discover there's no solution in sight.
liz: you're looking at photos of a pot farmer after he was pistol whipped and mugged leaving a dispensary in san francisco. he's always on alert because the bad guys know growers often carry weed and cash, a lot of it. male: puts me in a sticky spot. liz: he doesn't want us to use his name, but he invited us to his farm in the heart of cannabis country, humboldt county where he tells us most banks won't touch his cash. and if they do, it's not for long. male: within two months, the account was closed, and i was asked to come pick up all my money and they wouldn't tell me. they said it's a high risk account. liz: so, he says growers have had to come up with other ways to stash their cash, like turning it into crypto currency. they go to special atms to buy bitcoin, and then wire the funds to new accounts. male: the banks have no problem with a wire transfer, wherever it comes from. liz: that just sounds like a lot of steps, though, to have to go through to deposit your own money. male: yeah, and especially when you're trying to be compliant, not having a legal option. liz: now, he drives his cash 600 miles to a bank in la,
where he can disguise where it came from. male: 'cause up here, they see me with, you know, $7,000 worth of cash in $20 bills and they--it's very obvious that it's--i'm in the cannabis industry. liz: he's getting up and running, so he doesn't have a ton of cash on hand, but others do. and they know they're even bigger targets. male: this vehicle is armored vehicle. liz: these armed agents work for hard car, a company that hauls cash for cannabis clients in bulletproof vans. male: we're carrying millions on any given day. liz: millions of dollars in cash? male: yes. liz: it's especially dangerous during tax time. we're driving to a dispensary in san francisco, where the agents pick up the owner's taxes. hard car coo jeff brier says where any other business would just write the government a check, his clients have to pay cash. jeff brier: they didn't have a banking solution, but they had a lot of cash. so, those were chunks of, you know, a half million each approximately. liz: and the government has to take all that cash,
which can be a burden for small offices like monterey county. treasurer mary zeeb says her office phased out cash a decade ago. mary zeeb: now, all of a sudden, we have to focus on cash when we were moving away from that. liz: the county spent 300 grand on security guards, new machines, and whole new room. mary: so, this is our secure counting facility. we established this after we knew we'd have to take a lot of cannabis cash. liz: zeeb says local governments wouldn't be drowning in cash if the feds would take marijuana off their list of illegal drugs. cannabis companies could start using banks and credit cards. because then we can facilitate the payments electronically just like everybody else. li's no federal resolution in sight. and some business owners say california failed to come up with solutions before we became legal here in january. john chiang: legitimate individuals-- liz: we asked state treasurer john chiang about it. i mean, we all saw this coming, right? did the state do enough to prepare?
john: you have a lot of people who are trying to move it forward. it's one of those areas where there wasn't enough subject matter expertise. liz: so, chiang formed a panel of experts to study workarounds. now, he's looking into a state run bank. he says the problems can impact everyone, not just pot businesses. john: you know, when you eliminate credit, a lot of the economy goes. liz: so, the stakes are really high for a lot of people. john: it is a part of our daily operations. liz: do you think the state as a whole is treating this issue with those same high stakes? john: well, i know we're working very hard. i know they're working very hard upstairs. male: i started with very small amount of money-- liz: in the meantime, our pot farmer back in humboldt county is still waiting for a safe place to pu something better than where he of the woods have stashes their cash for decades. male: there must a billion dollars buried in the hills up here at least. liz: pending legislation would allow state licensed banks to issue special checks to weed businesses. and we've learned several credit unions are now working
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leave raw beef, chicken, or dairy sitting out for hours without refrigeration. but that's the risky business we found when we followed food headed for local restaurants. vicky: what kind of food are you transporting in the van? male: just regular food. vicky: it was in the back of your truck for about an hour now. male: hasn't been an hour. vicky: denials after we approach restaurant owners and staff about how this food went from a fridge-- male: it's still cold. vicky: to the back door of their restaurants. male: is that meat 73 degrees? i have no clue. vicky: state health codes require any potentially hazardous food like meat and dairy to be kept below 45 degrees. why? because food-borne bacteria like e-coli and salmonella thrive in warm temperatures. scott lowman: i sincerely felt like i was going to die. vicky: scott lowman knows firsthand what can happen when how long do you think you left the food in the car? scott: yeah, i'm thinking about 30 to 45 minutes at least. vicky: the triathlete says he felt the worst pain of his life
after eating chicken salad. scott: and this is the last thing i remember, just grabbing the sink and then i fell down here. vicky: lowman's wife called 911. an ambulance took him to the er, where doctors said it was food poisoning, a risk that goes up when food isn't kept at the right temperature, like what you're about to see. we went undercover and found some restaurants taking risky shortcuts with your safety. male: looks like again he's just tossing his meat at the bottom next to the watermelon. vicky: day after day, we watch people loading up meat, dairy, seafood, and chicken they picked up from restaurant supply stores. state health code allows restaurants 30 minutes to transport this food in vehicles without coolers or refrigeration. it's been 3 hours and 20 minutes. but we saw food sitting out in hot cars for much longer. okay, time is 2:15. male: seventy-eight degrees outside right now. vicky: we followed this meat in the back of a truck for an hour. inthr containers.
before it ended up at tacos el compa in san jose. it's right here. county inspection records show the taqueria was sighted for keeping food at dangerous temperatures last year. are you the owner, sir? male: yes, how can i help you? vicky: okay, i'm with nbc bay area, we're doing a story about food safety and food handling. male: okay. vicky: and i just wanted to know how do you typically transport the food for your restaurant? male: i put the car--they deliver for me, sysco delivers it to me. vicky: sysco delivers it? male: yeah. vicky: so, what about all this meat that's in the back of your truck right now? male: that meat, i'm not--that's not my meat right there. vicky: the food that went into your restaurant, what about that food? male: oh, probably some stuff, but for the most part everything's not--everythi not mine, it's not mine. vicky: nha trang, a popular vietnamese restaurant with a youtube following, accepted seafood from the back of this van, where it sat for an hour and 15 minutes. county records show inspectors found major violations during three surprise visits in the past two years and ordered immediate fixes.
and last september, one customer suffered a confirmed case of food-borne illness. vicky: i'm with nbc bay area. vicky: no one from the restaurant responded to our request for comment. on another day, workers loaded this van with chicken, goat, and milk. we followed the van to a spice market, then a gas station, and finally up 880 to fremont. it was nearly two hours before it was all unpacked. vicky: i'm vicky with nbc bay area. we're just wondering, is this a refrigerated van? abdul khan: refrigerated? vicky: yeah, is it refrigerated in there? abdul: no. vicky: so, it's 75 degrees in the van? abdul: uh-huh. vicky: abdul khan says his father owns the restaurant. he declined to speak with us. but the worst offender we found was restaurant owner kim chung. it's 72 degrees outside, 2 o'clock. after he loaded up this truck with meat, chicken, and fish, wen jo, another restaurant supplier. the meathe came out with a flat screen tv.e remember, this meat has been in the truck the entire time. vicky: i'm vicky with nbc bay area. vicky: he finally arrived at the phu lam chinese restaurant
four hours after he first picked up all this food. we saw the meat in here since about 2 o'clock. kim chung: no, no, we just got here. vicky: but the meat's been in your truck for about four hours. kim: okay. vicky: with no refrigeration? do you worry people could get sick from eating that? kim: yes, i do. today, we tried--i tried to get everything done, otherwise we'll just come right away. vicky: michael balliet is the director of environmental health for santa clara county. we showed him what we caught on camera. how dangerous is this for the public to eat food that's been transported in this way? michael balliet: there are thousands of people that potentially die from food-borne illness every year. two years, county inspectors have written nearly 7,000 citations for food stored at the wrong temperature. how tough is it to catch these owners in the act of transporting food from a supplier to their back door? michael: oftentimes, we find out about it from restaurant
ex-employees, we find out it from the public, we find out about it from news media. vicky: if inspectors find a food temperature violation, penalties range from disposing the food to shutting down the restaurant. the county says it plans to investigate the incidents we observed. and if you want to know how your favorite restaurant fared in its last inspection, we've linked to several county websites. just go to nbcbayarea.com/weinvestigate. announcer: up next, why a game-changing crime solving tool that could catch killers is often being overlooked by law enforcement. ♪ ♪ ♪ raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens ♪ ♪ bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens ♪ ♪ these are a few of my favorite things ♪ ♪ ♪
♪ these are a few of my favorite things ♪ two out of every five murders in america these days goes unsolved. that's according to the fbi. now, federal law enforcement officials tell us there's an old technology that could be used in a new way to solve and even prevent some of that violence. it's called nibin, national integrated ballistic information network, a dna databank if you will for guns, bullets, and shell casings. but we discovered nibin currently is not being used by many police agencies. josie martinez: my life will never be the same. stephen: hard as it is, josie and otilio martinez often make the difficult trip. josie: it's honestly so surreal. stephen: along with friends to the top of the hill. josie: i still haven't accepted any of this. stephen: to visit their son nico, now buried here. josie: he was really something so special,
and he always will be. no martinez was just 18 when he was shot about 50 times while walking along this street near his home in richmond. months later in this special nibin crime lab in contra costa county, investigators matched a gun ditched by a street gang to nico's murder. they also matched it to an earlier violent crime spree that included two other murders, 14 attempted murders, six armed robberies, and a high-profile home invasion. christopher amon: each firearm leaves a unique marking on the shell casing. no two firearms will leave the same marking. stephen: atf special agent christopr technology has been around for decades, but is now being used in new ways. referred to by its acronym nibin, the technology matches bullet casings from crime scenes to the guns that fired them. christopher: fire in the hole. stephen: but now, agents are using nibin in new ways, lines, solving old, cold,te unsolved cases, even preventing new shootings by arresting suspects after matches put them
at scenes where previous evidence could not connect them. christopher: and that's the paradigm shift. nibin went from a laboratory tool that was utilized on the backend, meaning a firearm or casings would go through the entire process and then be entered into nibin at the end, sometimes months or years later, to a front-end investigative lead tool. stephen: to see how it all works. male: so, the shearing is here. stephen: atf took us behind the scenes at one of their labs in beltsville, maryland outside washington dc. male: you can see that those individual marks are lining up. stephen: agents then enter that information for each and every shell casing into a database that's available to law enforcement officers everywhere in the country. ans that have gone unsolved for years. despite the power of this nibin technology, joinednvestigation with nbc-owned tv stations and the nonprofit journalism organization the trace found that a majority of law enforcement agencies do not use the technology, at least not to its fullest capaby.
the reasons, it can cost more money, it requires more manpower, and it requires a change in mindset by cops on the street. officers must now pick up and enter every shell casing from every shooting. even stop sign shootings or holiday celebrations, where there's no apparent suspect or even victim. but only about 25% of all guns, cartridges, or recovered bullets are entered right now into that database, leaving data holes that make the system ineffective. marisa mckeown: it was commonly taking several months to up to a year to test firearms in our firearms unit. stephen: marmc attorney in santa clara county, where guns used to sit on the shelf of their crime lab untested for up to a year.mes re may have gone unsolved. we discovered it's not just in santa clara county either. marisa: currently, not every jurisdiction in california puts information into nibin. stephen: we sent out a survey to 20 different california crime labs. of the 12 labs that replied, an average of three months went
by before any ballistic testing was done and the results entered into nibin. one lab had a backlog of up to four years. at least three of the crime labs don't enter evidence into nibin at all. we also found another problem. many local law enforcement agencies send just a fraction of the guns and casings they recover in for nibin testing. marisa: if we aren't sending all guns to the lab, then our murder weapon in san jose might be sitting on your shelf in modesto and vice versa. john durastanti: this information allows us to tactically target the shooters. stephen: atf special agent john durastanti says nibin only works if every casing is entered every time. john: and if we can do it quickly, can we link otherwise unassociated events together? stephen: that's why santa clara county's da office has put renewed emphasis to now clear their backlog and enter every casing, every bullet, and every gun in their evidence room. marisa: our lab had made tremendous progress. we have no backlog on our casings. and for our firearms, they've dramatically
decreased the backlog. stephen: now, there is some federal grant money available to help smaller local police agencies join the nibin program, but law enforcement officials tell me it will take much more than money. it will take a change in attitude and approach, which is often harder to overcome than finances in order to meet the goal of turning around these gun traces in 48 hours rather than in months or even year now, if you have a story for us, give us a call at 1-888-996-tips. or visit us on our website at nbcbayarea.com/weinvestigate. that's our show for tonight, thank you for watching. we invite you to join us every night on nbc bay area, where we investigate. ♪
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