Frank Melton, a television
executive with no law enforcement experience whose anti-drug crusades got
him appointed head of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics in December,
is not a man inclined to let a little things like the US Constitution or
state law get between him and his goals. One of his first acts as state
drug czar was to join his agents in a Bureau of Narcotics roadblock near
the state capitol in Jackson "to check drivers' licenses." Never mind that
state law forbids the narcs from doing the roadblocks, never mind that
Melton himself was not a certified law enforcement officer, and never mind
that the Supreme Court has ruled that highway checkpoints can only be used
for public safety -- not drug enforcement -- purposes.
Melton was scolded for his
little adventure, the roadblocks ceased, but you can't keep someone like
Melton down for long. Now he's back in the news, complaining about state
laws that hinder his crusade and explaining how he gets around them. In
a Monday interview with the Associated Press, Melton said he would find
"unconventional" means of waging the drug war in the mean time.
He found the need for search
warrants onerous, he told AP, using a recent meth lab bust as an example.
"The way the law states is that we can go in and dismantle the laboratory
to keep it from being a danger to the people, but then we have to go in
and get a search warrant," he complained. "Well, the time that it takes
us to go and get that warrant, we have people's lives in danger."
czar Frank Melton,
Gov. Ronnie Musgrove
Melton did not explain precisely
whose lives were in danger between the time a lab was raided and dismantled
and the time a warrant to seize the evidence was issued. Police normally
maintain control of crime scenes until their work is completed.
As obsessed with methamphetamine
as any trailer-park speed cooker, Melton told AP he illegally bars meth
suspects from returning to their homes after they've been arrested. "What
I'm doing, which is also not legal, when I find those large laboratories
like that, they're no longer eligible to live in the neighborhood," he
And Melton continues to brood
about the roadblocks. He told AP he would ask legislators to change state
law to allow the Bureau of Narcotics to engage in "public safety" roadblocks,
a transparent ploy to get out and find drug violators. "Most of your drugs
right now are being transported on the ground," he explained. "They're
moving on the ground now because you can't get it through the airports
because of the pre-security check-ins. But we can't check for drivers'
licenses, we can't stop trucks. It almost ties our hands behind our backs."
Who will guard us from the
-- END --
Issue #289, 5/30/03
Editorial: For Decency's Sake, No More No-Knock Drug Raids | Canadian Government Introduces Cannabis Decriminalization Bill | Ed Rosenthal to be Sentenced Wednesday -- Could Escape Mandatory Minimum as Pleas for Leniency Roll In, Supporters Prepare to Rally | DRCNet Book Review: "Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use," by Jacob Sullum (Tarcher & Putnam, 24.95 HB) | Democratic Presidential Contender Endorses Medical Marijuana -- Ohio's Kucinich First Out of the Gate | Saying Yes: New Book Offer from DRCNet | Action Alerts: Medical Marijuana, HEA Drug Provision, Global Legalization and Drug Treaty Reform Petition | Newsbrief: NYPD Under Fire in Death of Woman in Botched Drug Raid | Newsbrief: Federal Hepatitis C Control and Prevention Bill Filed | Newsbrief: Mississippi Drug Czar Not One to Let the Law Get in His Way | Newsbrief: The Hash Fields of Morocco | Newsbrief: Dutch Coffee Shops Take Hit in Anti-Tobacco Campaign | Newsbrief: New Zealand to War on Evil Meth | Newsbrief: Garcia Marquez Takes Back His Legalization Comments, Sort Of | Newsbrief: Gambian Narcs Mar Marley Remembrance with Raids | Newsbrief: Japanese Author, Legalization Advocate Gets Suspended Sentence for Marijuana Possession | Reflections Seeking Submissions for Special Issue on Prison | The Reformer's Calendar
Mail this article to a friend
Send us feedback on this article
This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
PERMISSION to reprint or
redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby
granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and,
where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your
publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks
payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for
materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we
request notification for our records, including physical copies where
material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network,
P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202)
293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank
Articles of a purely
educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet
Foundation, unless otherwise noted.