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Drug Cops Shouldn’t be Paid With Confiscated Drug Money, But They Are

A disturbing report from NPR illustrates that many police departments have become dependent on confiscated drug proceeds in order to fund their anti-drug operations:

Every year, about $12 billion in drug profits returns to Mexico from the world's largest narcotics market — the United States. As a tactic in the war on drugs, law enforcement pursues that drug money and is then allowed to keep a portion as an incentive to fight crime.

Federal and state rules governing asset forfeiture explicitly discourage law enforcement agencies from supplementing their budgets with seized drug money or allowing the prospect of those funds to influence law enforcement decisions.

There is a law enforcement culture — particularly in the South — in which police agencies have grown, in the words of one state senator from South Texas, "addicted to drug money."

Just pause for a second and think about the implications of a drug war that funds itself with dirty money. It is just laughable to think that such conditions could exist without inviting routine corruption, from our disgraceful forfeiture laws to the habitual thefts and misconduct that occur with such frequency that we're able to publish a weekly column dedicated to them.

It is truly symbolic of the drug war's inherent hopelessness that illicit drug proceeds are needed in order to subsidize narcotics operations. If we ever actually succeeded at shrinking the drug market, we'd be defunding law-enforcement! Progress is rather obviously impossible under such circumstances.

Drug enforcement is a job like any other, and police have mouths to feed, bills to pay, maybe a little alimony here or there. So they take their paycheck and sign out; I don’t blame anyone for that in and of itself. But consider that law-enforcement operations artificially inflate the value of drugs, only to then hunt down those same proceeds, collect, and redistribute them within the police department. Morally, is that any better than the dealer who pushes dope to put food on the table?

Really, a structure such as this is not designed to achieve forward momentum towards reducing drug abuse. It's the law-enforcement equivalent of subsistence farming and it ought to warrant income substitution programs not unlike those we push on the peasants of Colombia and Afghanistan. All of this lends substantial credence to the popular conception that "the drug war was meant to be waged, not won."

Each day that the drug war rages on, its finely tuned mechanisms become more effective at sustaining itself and less effective at addressing the issues of drug abuse and public safety that supposedly justify these policies in the first place.
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Just the kind of corruption

The Congressional Joint Economic Committee should be taking up tomorrow with its hearing: “Illegal Drugs: Economic Impact, Societal Costs, Policy Responses”.

"Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) will convene a hearing of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) to examine the economic consequences of the United States’ drug policy. The hearing entitled, “Illegal Drugs: Economic Impact, Societal Costs, Policy Responses” will be held Thursday, June 19 at 10am in Room 106 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. The panel will discuss the illegal drug economy in the United States, assess the costs of U.S. policy responses to combating drug use, and address the need for policy reforms. Last year, Senator Webb and the JEC examined the economic implications of the steep increase in the U.S. prison population."

I have posted on my blog a list of contact links for all members of the congressional committee. Also posted is a link to contact your members if they are not on the list. As well as a Fax number for C-Span to request that they run the hearing tomorrow morning live or sometime soon.


I believe Florida's "Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act", which was recently signed into law by Governor Charlie Christ, is another example of what this has done.

It now only takes 25 plants to prove intent to sell or distribute (was 300). So, I'm guessing this will also allow more houses to be stolen by law enforcement. Considering all the budget problems lately, it couldn't come at a more opportune time for them.

So it looks like we'll be reading stories of people losing their houses (and everything else they own) after getting caught with 25 sprouts. And the new law provides stiffer prison sentences as well.

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, along with law enforcement officers around the state, pushed for this bill as a way to combat major indoor growing operations. If that was what they were really after, why did they lower the threshold to 25 plants?

What's just as disturbing, is that this bill passed almost unanimously -- only one vote against it.


dont break the law and you wont have anythng to worry about will you? its that simple. if you grow marijuana you should have all of your assets siezed. by the way you are the same people that complain when the gov spends your money. so why not buy some more cars, or hire more officers with drug money. its not out of your pocket unless your selling dope.
drop the bong and get a job


In other words, if you grow your own, you deserve to lose everything? Buy it from the black market and you'll be safe?

Such sound logic.

As for breaking the law... I guess you've never read the Constitution. These criminals (cops) are attempting to prohibit commerce, stealing people's property, and literally getting away with murder. Those were some of the same things that started the Revolutionary War.

Government's purpose is to preserve the unalienable rights of the governed -- not enforce morals (read the Declaration of Independence, too).

Legislatures and law enforcement agencies have absolutely no respect for the laws that THEY are supposed to obey, and the criminals in black robes are complicit. Drug laws are therefore null and void -- because those laws are illegal.

Those who forget the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them.

Drug War Forfeiture's Historic Parallel

The only other formal legal entity in history to financially sustain itself chiefly through the confiscation of the homes and the total assets of its targeted wrongdoers was the Inquisition.

Inquisition historian Henry Charles Lea concluded that were it not for the confiscation of heretics’ assets upon a mere accusation of heresy, the series of various inquisitions of Europe and the Americas could not have lasted as long as they did—which turned out to be more than 700 years.


Inquisition? The inquisitive want to know.

The phony" war on drugs" will,no doubt ,get the same glowing treatment in history books.Unless the history gets rewritten,or course.

nobody "pushes" drugs

You're comparing cops who steal from the very people they are sworn to protect with people who sell something that other people are more than willing to buy?

Morally better? Oh, please!

In 40 years of being around illegal drugs, illegal drug users and illegal drug dealers, I have, in fact, encountered some thieves. It took the police, however, to rob me at gunpoint.

I've never known a drug dealer to lie under oath in order to obtain a search warrant, lie on the incident report to justify his lies and again under oath to ensure an indictment.

A drug addict may (most don't) steal your dope, your money, even your car. These people used to be known as "thieves" and we had "police" to protect us from them. Nowadays, it's the police stealing, but they don't stop with your dope, your money and your car. They just keep on taking, until they take your family and your home and your freedom and your livelihood and your friends and your peace of mind.

I never stole to buy drugs, but at least I can understand the mentality of those who do. Cops, on the other hand, steal simply because they can.

no wonder

these gangster cops are making as many easy pot busts as they can .more busts _= more money




It is really pathetic that you people whine and complain about the police. Cops are not paid nearly enough by the government, and I personally am all for paying them with confiscated money. At least it isn't going to be given as a bonus to some idiot on Wall Street. Simple minded people like you all would really change your tone if there were no dedicated police officers. Sure, like any other profession in the world, there are a select few corrupt individuals, but that doesn't mean that everyone is bad. You all need to get over it. If you aren't doing anything illegal to begin with then you don't have anything to worry about.

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