Incarceration, Asset Forfeiture, Arrests, Informants, Police Raids, Search and Seizure

RSS Feed for this category

Drug Cops Raid Innocent Man, Shoot Him 5 Times, Then File Bogus Charges

His name is Tracy Ingle and he's alive, but he needs help.

1. They raided his house from multiple entrances, bashing down his front door with a battering ram and crashing through his bedroom window.

2. He grabbed a broken gun to scare what he thought were burglars and was subsequently shot 5 times. One bullet remains lodged above his heart.

3. In jail, they withheld his pain medication and antibiotics. They ignored his doctor's instructions to change his bandages and clean his wounds. He became infected.

4. They found no drugs but charged him with drug dealing. His sister claims ownership of the scale and baggies which form the basis for the drug charge. She uses those things for making jewelry.

5. He pawned his car to make bail so he had to walk 2 miles on crutches to his first court appearance. His leg was still infected.

6. On the warrant, the words "crack cocaine" are scratched out and replaced with "methamphetamine," suggesting the document may have been illegally altered after the judge approved it.

7. A neighbor who saw the whole raid now refuses to talk after a visit from the police. They assured him that "he did not see what he thought he saw."

If you can handle it, Radley Balko has much more.

[Ed: Sign our petition to Congress, state legislators, governors and the president to stop these dangerous raids from happening, and click here to learn more about the issue and campaign.]

Mississippi Drug War Blues: The Case of Cory Maye

Drew Carey's latest video features the horrific story of Cory Maye, an innocent man who sits in prison after killing an intruder in his home who turned out to be a police officer executing a drug warrant meant for someone else.

This video is required viewing for anyone who thinks they have an opinion about the drug war. If you don't know Cory's story, and the countless others like it, you don't understand what the drug war really is, what it does to innocent people, and how it has corrupted the administration of justice in America.

[Ed: Sign our petition to Congress, state legislators, governors and the president to stop these dangerous raids from happening, and click here to learn more about the issue and campaign.]

Nobody is Safe from Drug Prohibition’s SWAT Teams

Yet another SWAT team raid has gone horribly bad. A group of police officers stormed a house looking for suspected drug dealers. But this otherwise normal situation is somewhat out of the ordinary because there was actually a relatively wealthy, affluent person who was unwittingly targeted:
The [police officers] were together Wednesday night, battering down the door of a suspected drug house, when two men on the other side nearly ended their lives, police said. Gillis and Garrison remained in Grant Medical Center last night, recovering from serious gunshot wounds, as investigators worked to build the case against the two men accused of shooting them during a raid gone awry on the Near East Side. One of the accused is Derrick Foster, a 38-year-old former defensive end for Ohio State University who police said has no criminal record.
The article also states that a work review called Foster "an asset to the Near East Side" of the neighborhood where he was employed as a Columbus code-enforcement supervisor. He was a pillar of society. When he heard the police bust in the door of his friends house, he mistook them for a team of robbers and fired his legally-owned weapon. He was not under any investigation, others in the house were. Here is the official police story on what took place:
Officers with the narcotics bureau's Investigative and Tactical Unit had received a warrant to search the house at 1781 E. Rich St., just north of Main Street. They approached about 9:45 p.m. IN/TAC officers are trained for such raids and make eight to 12 a week across the city, police said. They follow a specific procedure that includes announcing their presence immediately. "The whole time they're pounding on the door, they're yelling, 'Police!'," division spokeswoman Amanda Ford said.
But according to a witness, the only alert given was for the windows to be broken. The police spokeswoman, who wasn't there, apparently knows something that the witness doesn't. In addition, even if the police did yell, I can think of several completely plausible explanations why people in a home may not hear such an announcement – they’re listening to loud music, they’re in the basement working with loud machinery, they’re asleep and using earplugs, etc. Also, the article stated "police didn't know who might be in the house when they raided it." I question the intelligence and responsibility of the decision to raid a house when they had no idea who might be there. In this case, an innocent man (or men) was exposed to a traumatic experience that ended in a horrible way. What if his daughter had been there too? What this shows is that anybody could be the target of one of these raids. This is not just a problem for the underprivileged. Foster is a college-educated middle-class father. He owned a legal firearm, a right granted in part for the purposes of self-protection. Attempting to protect himself, he now faces two counts of felonious assault and attempted murder. It is extremely fortunate that this didn’t turn out even worse. Both of the policemen that were wounded are thankfully expected to recover. But the sad truth is that Foster’s five-year-old daughter is probably going to have to grow up with her father in prison because of this futile drug prohibition-related insanity. Yet another American family destroyed by the increasingly indiscriminate drug war.
Columbus, OH
United States

News Release: Will SDSU Drug Bust Coverage Raise the Critical Questions?

Will SDSU's Drug Bust Reduce Drug Availability on Campus in the Future? Advocates Urge Media to Look Beyond the Surface, Ask Critical Questions About Raid's Long-Term Implications for Drug Trade (or Lack Thereof) In the wake of a major drug bust at San Diego State University, in which 96 people including 75 students were arrested on drug charges as part of "Operation Sudden Fall," advocates are asking media outlets to go beyond the surface to probe whether drug laws and enforcement actually reduce the availability of drugs. "Cocaine was banned in 1914, and marijuana in 1937," said David Borden, executive director of, "and yet these drugs are so widely available almost a century later that college students can be hauled away 75 at a time for them. That is the very definition of policy failure." Borden, who is also executive editor of Drug War Chronicle, a major weekly online publication, continued: "Since 1980, when the drug war really started escalating under the Reagan administration, the average street price of cocaine has dropped by a factor of five, when adjusted for purity and inflation. (1) Given that the strategy was to increase drug prices, in order to then reduce the demand, that failure has to be called spectacular." Drug arrests in the US number close to 1.5 million per year, but to little evident effect as such data suggests. Ironically, San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis painted a compelling picture of the drug war's failure in her own quote given to the Los Angeles Times: "This operation shows how accessible and pervasive illegal drugs continue to be on our college campuses and how common it is for students to be selling to other students." "While SDSU's future drug sellers will probably avoid sending such explicit text messages as the accused in this case did, it's doubtful that they will avoid the campus for very long," Borden said. "In fact the replacements are undoubtedly already preparing to take up the slack. By September if not sooner, the only remaining evidence that 'Operation Sudden Fall' ever happened will be the court cases and the absence of certain people from the campus." "Instead of throwing away money and law enforcement time on a policy that doesn't work, ruining lives in the process, Congress should repeal drug prohibition and allow states to create sensible regulations to govern drugs' lawful distribution and use. At a minimum, the focus should be taken off enforcement," said Borden. — END — 1. Data from DEA STRIDE drug price collection program, adjusted for inflation using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index figures. Further information is available upon request.

Don't Use Text Messages to Advertise Your Cocaine Prices

When I heard today that 75 students at San Diego State University were arrested on drug charges, something didn't sound right. That's just a hell of a lot of people, and in light of the drug war's typically flimsy evidentiary standards, I leaned towards the assumption that more than half of them probably didn’t do a damned thing.

That may still be true, but after learning how reckless and cavalier these guys were, I'm less shocked by the outcome:

"Undercover agents purchased cocaine from fraternity members and confirmed that a hierarchy existed for the purpose of selling drugs for money," the DEA said.

A member of Theta Chi sent out a mass text message to his "faithful customers" stating that he and his "associates" would be unable to sell cocaine while they were in Las Vegas over one weekend, according to the DEA. The text promoted a cocaine "sale" and listed the reduced prices. [AP]

Um, had you ever heard of the drug war, you idiot? Why not advertise on Craigslist while you're at it.

Many will say they had it coming, but I sympathize nevertheless. The lure of the black market sucks these guys in like a whirlpool. It is precisely the sort of people who would behave this way that are drawn forcefully towards such activity, empowered by it, and ultimately destroyed by the state at tremendous expense to the taxpayer.

If someone responsible and accountable to the public were charged with distributing these substances to those determined to consume them, we wouldn't have conspicuous drug monopolies creating disorder on college campuses across America. We wouldn't have to pay for young people to be investigated and convicted, then sent away to a horrible place where taxpayers must buy their food and clothing and medical care and even fund their reintegration into society.

Look no further than the fact that college students are getting hauled out of college 75 at a time for drug violations to know that our drug policy isn't working at all.

Canada: Supreme Court Nixes Random Use of Drug Dogs

In a ruling last Friday, the Canadian Supreme Court held that the use of drug-sniffing dogs in a random search of an Ontario school was unconstitutional. The decision should result in an end to random drug dog searches across the country -- except at borders and airports, where customs officials have free rein.
drug dog
The court held that the use of a drug-sniffing dog without particularized suspicion violated Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which governs what constitutes reasonable search and seizure.

The case began in 2002, when police visited St. Patrick's High School in Sarnia, in the southwestern part of the province. Police confined students to their classrooms, while taking their backpacks to an empty gym. The dog alerted on one backpack, and one youth who was identified only by his initials was subsequently charged with possession of marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms.

Police admitted they had no search warrant nor even a tip that drugs were present at the school. Instead, they said, they were responding to a long-standing open invitation from school officials.

The trial judge in the case granted a motion to exclude the seized drugs as evidence and acquitted the youth. Prosecutors appealed, but the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2004 upheld the trial judge, saying the sniffing of backpacks by the drug dog amounted to "a warrantless, random search with the entire student body held in detention."

Crown lawyers argued unsuccessfully that being sniffed by a drug dog does not constitute a search. Odors in the public air are not private, and a drug dog detecting contraband by smell should be viewed as similar to police officers detecting an odor in the air, they argued.

That argument would have flown in the United States, where the Supreme Court has okayed the use of drug dogs in random searches, saying a drug dog sniff did not amount to a search. But it didn't fly in the Canadian courts. Now, police will not be able to conduct random searches with drug dogs in public places, such as churches, schools, and shopping malls.

NYPD's Mindless Response to Accusations of Overzealous Marijuana Enforcement

Let's revisit once again this week's excellent NYCLU study of marijuana arrests in New York City. It illuminates several embarrassing facts, which the architects of this disgusting policy would prefer to keep concealed. Among them:

*A shocking increase in arrests from 45,300 between 1988 and 1997 up to 374,000 between 1998 and 2007
*A sustained violation of the spirit of New York's marijuana laws, which hold that citizens should not be arrested for small amounts of concealed marijuana
*Stark and unexplainable racial disparities. 83% of arrestees were black or Latino even though whites are more likely to use marijuana
*Similarly disturbing gender disparities. 90% of arrestees were male, even though women and men use marijuana at similar rates
*The appalling hypocrisy of NY mayor Michael Bloomberg who presides over these arrests despite his admission that he's enjoyed marijuana in the past
*A profit motive behind the arrests wherein police deliberately make marijuana collars at the end of their shift so that they can collect overtime pay while processing the offender

Now that these ugly revelations have been exposed, what does NYPD have to say in its defense? Exactly what one might expect:
In an official comment on the study, the Police Department was critical of the role played by the New York Civil Liberties Union in publicizing the report and noted that the research had been backed, in part, by the Marijuana Policy Project, which supports legalization. [NY Times]
Um, pardon me, but what the hell does that have to do with anything? The report is accurate. Complaining that it was publicized by its authors and that it was funded by supporters of marijuana policy reform is irrelevant. Of course police are angry that this went public. It's embarrassing. And of course it was funded by critics of marijuana laws. Who else would fund it? The Heritage Foundation? I don’t think so.

So the Marijuana Policy Project is biased, they say, but NYPD sees no conflict of interest when defending the same laws that its officers are paid overtime to enforce? The arrogance of this couldn’t possibly be overstated, but I guess there wasn't much else to say. If everything in the report is true, all you can really do is call the author a jerk.

So in order to avoid ridiculously dumb drug policy debate tactics in the future, let's just get one thing straight once and for all: if people who oppose marijuana laws aren't allowed to criticize marijuana enforcement, then people who support marijuana laws shouldn't be allowed to defend it. Does that sound fair?
United States

New York City's Marijuana Arrest Rate is Wildly Out of Control

Two of my colleagues, Deborah Small and Prof. Harry Levine, have analyzed New York City's marijuana policy in a major report released Wednesday the New York Civil Liberties Union. The chart appearing above pretty makes the central point, but check out Jacob Sullum's piece in Reason for a good general discussion of the report's findings and implications. Also, Scott wrote here last night about an important side angle, why it's a bad idea to take out your marijuana to give it to police. Yesterday's is a must-read too. The report itself, and the authors' summary, are online here
New York, NY
United States

Don't Give Your Marijuana to the Police

This remarkable New York Times piece exposes New York City's out of control marijuana policy, which has produced 374,900 misdemeanor marijuana arrests since 1998, despite a decrim law that's been in effect for 30 years. This is a rare example of professional-quality drug war coverage from the mainstream media and should be read in its entirety, as it raises several interesting issues.

I found this passage, which describes one particular arrest, quite revealing:

"I came out of the building, and this unmarked car, no light, no indication it was police, was right on me," said the man, a Latino who asked that his name not be used because he was concerned about his job. "Right on my tail. An officer got out, he said, 'I saw you walking from that building, I know you bought weed, give me the weed.' He made it an option: 'Give me the weed now and I will give you a summons, or we can search your vehicle and can take you in.' "

He opened the console and handed them his marijuana — making it "open to public view."

"I was duped," he said. But the deception was legal, and his pot wasn’t.

The officers escorted him in handcuffs to the unmarked car.

Amazingly, police must actually trick citizens into displaying their marijuana in order to make an arrest, since the decrim law requires plain view discovery. NYPD officers have become quite adept at initiating this through the typical threats and coercion that have long been the hallmark of petty drug war police practices.

Fortunately, the most obvious and effective antidote to New York's overzealous marijuana policing is really pretty simple: don't give them your marijuana. Don't admit having marijuana. Don't give them consent to search you or your vehicle. Ask if you're free to go.

Ending this obscene spectacle, which violates the spirit of New York's marijuana laws and wastes precious law-enforcement resources, is vitally important. But until that happens, citizens can protect themselves by not idiotically turning over their illegal drugs to the police. Seriously, stop giving them your drugs.

United States

Check out our new wholesale fundraising catalog

[Courtesy of Prison Art Gallery] Our wholesale fundraising catalog has arrived! Use it to advance your social issues and make a 300% plus profit for your organization or business. Choose from prison art prints, postcards, justice jewelry, prison music CDs, books, and more. All items are fully refundable, so there's no risk whatsoever! Thanks to the generosity of our grantmakers, printers and manufacturers, we are able to offer our most popular prison art-related gift items at wholesale prices (up to 75% off) for fundraising resale by non-profit organizations and socially-minded entrepreneurs. Please call 202-393-1511 or email for further information. Pick and choose what you want for your fundraising and revenue enhancing needs. To access our new full-color catalog, please visit Wholesale prices below (of items in our catalog): 1. Prison Art Prints matted at $8 each (retail $20 each) 2. Prison Art Prints framed at $16 each (retail $40 each) 3. Prison Art Postcards at 50 cents each (retail $1.50 each) 4. Sterling Silver Justice Jewelry at $ 10 each (retail $30 each) 5. Prison Music CDs at $4 each (retail $13 each) 6. Handcuff Key Ring Greeting Cards at $1.25 each (retail $4 each) 7. Prison Poetry Books at $4 each (retail $12 each) 8. Jailer Whistle Key Ring at $1 each (retail $3 each) 9. Mug-Shots-of-the-Famous Playing Cards at $2 each (retail $5 each) Become one our authorized outlets and get all the great items in our catalog and more at discounts of up to 75% off. That means a profit for you of 300%. Plus you'll generate the excitement of having reasonably priced prison art gifts at your location. Whether you're planning a one time fundraiser or an ongoing enterprise, you need look no further for fun and high profitability than these unique gift items. We even include free signs and free consultation to unlock very high the earning potential. Ideal for churches, schools, and nonprofit organizations and businesses of all types. For further information, please call 202-393-1511 or email Dennis@
Washington, DC
United States

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School