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January 25, 2005

Dozens Including School Official Indicted in Virginia Trafficking Bust

The Daily Press in Newport News, Virginia, reported today on the arrest of dozens of people in a major operation by the Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Task Force. The 324-count indictment refers to drug trafficking going back to 1996 and charges that the numerous defendants "would and did on a consignment and cash basis obtain, distribute, and possess with the intent to distribute in excess of 10,000 pounds of marijuana, in excess of 300 kilograms of cocaine and 20 kilograms of cocaine base, known as crack, throughout the course of the conspiracy." It follows eight months after the task force seized "$2.2 million in cash, a money counting machine, and digital scales from a storage shed in Newport News," according to the article.

One of the people indicted is an assistant superintendent in Prince Georges County, Maryland, Pamela Hoffler-Riddick, which has led to coverage by the local NBC affiliate. That's nearby to where DRCNet is based in Washington. I haven't seen the report, which was posted on the web at about 6:30pm this evening. The CEO of the county school system, Hoffler-Riddick's boss, made some appropriate remarks in which he refrained from rushing to judgment and expressed compassion for her and her family. Hoffler-Riddick has been placed on administrative leave for the time being.

Obviously I don't whether she is innocent or guilty, and the law presumes her innocent until proven guilty. The federal jurisdiction is the one headed by US Attorney Paul McNulty, according to an article about the same operation in The Virginian-Pilot, and he is scheduled to make an announcement and provide further information tomorrow. McNulty is the son-of-a-bitch who prosecuted Dr. Hurwitz, and that makes any indictments brought by his division suspect in my book, especially high profile indictments such as those against Hurwitz or Hoffler-Riddick -- McNulty and his crew may have a special penchant for seeking to make high-profile takedowns on prominent citizens that biases their decisions. But that is speculation only and is neither here nor there in this case insofar as the information currently available is concerned.

Regardless of my suspicions of anything prosecutor McNulty does, my main suggestion in this post is directed at the newspapers that have reported on the indictments. They should investigate whether the cash and equipment seizures done eight months ago had any noticeable impact on the price or availability of drugs on the Peninsula, and they should return to the topic in a month or so to see whether this week's indictments have had any effect. If, as is overwhelmingly likely, the answers are "no" and "no," their editorial boards should ponder what the rationale is for drug busts or prohibition itself.

Get Virginian-Pilot letter-to-the-editor information here. Get Daily Press letter-to-the-editor information here. NBC4 accepts comments online here.

- Dave Borden, DRCNet

Posted by dborden725 at January 25, 2005 07:32 PM

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