Eureka, Maybe

Adios, Unleaded

"When I started researching eco-friendly materials, it led me to bamboo and hemp, and that led to learning about fair trade and environmentally conscious manufacturing," the young Fort Lauderdale designer says.

This keep-it-real sensibility led her to name her ready-to-wear line, "Ergostalio: Organic."

There's a booming international market for clothing with eco-snob appeal, but it's yet to wash ashore in the Sunshine State.

"Florida is behind in being environmentally conscious," says Jachode. "There are a couple of boutiques which specialize in [eco-friendly attire], but they have to sell through the internet to international customers."

After Jachode graduates from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale next month, she'll prepare a debut collection for the Scarlet Affair in Fort Lauderdale, followed by a ribbon-cutting for her own internet boutique. Then it'll just be a matter of waiting. As the polar icecaps melt and the Atlantic Ocean begins swallowing the mainland, sales are bound to improve.

The 11-Year Itch

That joint you rolled 11 years ago might come back to bite you in the ass, especially if you're not a U.S. citizen.

Humberto Moreno, a 31-year-old resident alien born in Bucaramanga, Colombia, who has called this country home since he was 8, was on his way home from a honeymoon in Mexico when he got snagged in an airport line. This was in 2005, at the height of the post-9/11 paranoia. Moreno found himself in a room with a bunch of other Latinos, answering questions about an incident that had occurred when he was 20.

Yes, he had been arrested once, he candidly told an immigration officer. In the parking lot of a Pompano Beach 7-Eleven. He was a wild kid back then, sitting in his car, rolling a joint, when a city cop walked up and slapped him with a possession charge.

He pleaded no contest before Circuit Court Judge Mary Robinson and got a slap on the wrist and deferred adjudication. He saw the fine print that said, if you're in the U.S. illegally, a no-contest plea could get you deported. Moreno breathed a sigh of relief. He's a resident alien, in the country on the up-and-up.

Then he went on that honeymoon and learned that our immigration laws take a different slant on even minor drug possession.

"Over something so small, my life got completely turned over," Moreno says. "I'm obviously over the drug and party scene."

Nowadays, Moreno works for a wholesaler supplying Wal-Marts up and down Florida's Atlantic coast. He has a second job at a restaurant in Port St. Lucie, and he owns a home in that city. And, he insists, he keeps to the straight and narrow.

According to the Immigration and Nationality Act, though, when any law relating to a controlled substance is broken, that person is guilty of moral turpitude and subject to deportation.

As far as the deportation issue is concerned, if the amount is less than 30 grams and for personal use, there's an exception. So the pinch of marijuana he was busted with wasn't an issue. But what about the rolling paper? Unfortunately, there is no exception for paraphernalia, Moreno learned. The home-owning restaurant and delivery man now faced deportation for owning Zig-Zags.

Fortunately for Moreno, he could afford to hire good lawyers. His immigration lawyer, Karyn Todd, got Hollywood criminal attorney Richard Salzman to reopen the drug case, eventually getting the charge dismissed for lack of evidence. Todd couldn't be reached for comment, but immigration attorney and former U.S. immigration judge Jeffrey Brauwerman says erasing the earlier charges pulls the rug out from under deportation-minded immigration officials.

Moreno hopes to return to a distinctly middle class American life soon, minus some legal fees, plus a few gray hairs.

In the end it was all about the papers, not those pertaining to his status in this country but rolling papers.

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