WHILE THE TEXAS UNIFORM NARCOTICS DRUG ACT BECAME EFFECTIVE ON SEPT. 1, 1937, IT WASN’T UNTIL JAN. 6, 1938, THAT CAPT. J.H. WHEATLEY, CHIEF ENFORCEMENT OFFICER FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, NARCOTICS DIVISION, STATED THAT THE “RIGID ENFORCEMENT OF THE ACT WOULD BEGIN IMMEDIATELY.”
Capt. Wheatley was in Houston to meet with law enforcement officers to address the illegal narcotic and marijuana activities that had been going on. Prior federal and state laws had proved ineffective in curbing the growing drug trafficking in Texas. This would begin a tough stand in the handling of drug enforcement in our state that continues today.
Busted in Galveston
In 1938 While reading and hearing about marijuana busts may seem to be of “our times,” the stories of their occurrences 80 years ago seem familiar. Here are three of examples from 1938 that were published in the Galveston Daily News: On June 6, Aurelin Cereda, a Galveston café owner, was sentenced to three years in prison by a federal judge in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on a charge of marijuana possession. Cereda, 48, denied any possession of the drug. But it was the testimony of a city narcotics officer who claimed to have observed high school boys visit Cereda’s café and later, joined by others, “held a weed party” at a different location.
On June 17, Albert Salazar was sentenced to two years in the Leavenworth penitentiary for the sale and possession of nonregistered and nontaxed marijuana cigarettes by a U.S. district court judge. Two older black men had been arrested in a home near 25th and Postoffice streets after a “stool pigeon” had been sent in and 28 marijuana cigarettes were found. The men said they had bought the marijuana from Salazar … and had on several occasions. Both men were given suspended sentences for their cooperation.
On Aug. 25, James Cleveland, 22, a young black man who lived near 25th and Market streets, was held on a marijuana cigarette charge. A co-defendant had been released following a hearing in which he stated that a “mystery man,” who was named “Shorty” or “Philippino Jack” had been the dealer of the cigarettes. “There is no Shorty or Philippino Jack,” a federal customs officer testified. “The source of these cigarettes is this codefendant (Cleveland).”