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Police Corruption

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Op-Ed: It's time to end pointless war on drugs

United States
Zanesville Times Recorder (OH)

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A relatively slow week this week. We've got a Garden State cop whose choice of boyfriends wasn't too wise, and the requisite pair of crooked jail guards. Let's get to it:

In Newark, New Jersey, a former Newark police officer was sentenced to seven years in prison last Friday for selling cocaine and helping her drug-dealing boyfriend elude police. Brandy Johnson, 30, a five-year veteran who was fired after she was arrested in July 2004, admitted that she sold 11 grams of cocaine for $400 dollars for her boyfriend and lied to police about the boyfriend's whereabouts after she was arrested. The boyfriend was found hiding in her attic the following month. Johnson pleaded guilty to cocaine distribution and official misconduct last September.

In Hernando, Mississippi, a a DeSoto County jail guard was fired Sunday after a Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics investigation into drug sales at the jail. Guard John Thomas, 29, had worked the night shift at the jail since September. Local officials said the results of the investigation would be turned over to the DEA, and that Thomas would be arrested once he is indicted.

In Chicago, a Cook County jail guard was arrested January 8 after authorities saw him buying two kilograms of cocaine from an informant. The value of the coke was set at $25,000. Guard Frederick Burton had been under surveillance for several months before being arrested, according to the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. Burton is in jail with bail set at $750,000 and a trial date set for January 31.

The Fine Line Between Forfeiture And Extortion

Via Rogier van Bakel, here's another example of gratuitous malfeasance courtesy of the war on drugs.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The Milwaukee Police Department is accused of taking possession of a Mercedes-Benz convertible from a drug-addicted local businessman in return for agreeing not to prosecute him for cocaine possession.

"In brief, the family claims Beck did this only because it was threatened that the fact he had been arrested would be affirmatively disclosed to his former wife's attorney to be used against Mr. Beck in a child custody matter."

Again and again, we discover our public servants perverting justice and jettisoning any remote appearance of caring about the law. The complete moral bankruptcy of the drug war becomes particularly vivid when police start offering to drop charges in exchange for luxury sports cars.

Of course no such incident would be complete without the obligatory nonsensical rationalization from the local prosecutor:

"The drug violation in this case, . . . possession of cocaine, is among those violations for which a vehicle is not subject to forfeiture," [Milwaukee County district attorney, E. Michael McCann] wrote. "We believe the officers acted in good faith under this creative interpretation in justifying securing Mr. Beck's car, but it cannot stand up as a matter of law."

Ok, if something "doesn't stand up as a matter of law" that means it's illegal. It's not a "creative interpretation" of some otherwise appropriate sanction, and police shouldn't be administering punishments anyway. Of course Mr. Beck ultimately wasn't punished, because the police department accepted a bribe instead. That's called extortion.

Equally preposterous is McCann's casual determination that the officers acted in good faith. The "good faith" doctrine forgives police for actions they believed to be legal (i.e. executing a flawed warrant), but it requires some vague pretense of reasonableness. Calling something like this "good faith" is an extremely generous, but obnoxiously typical, prosecutorial response to police misconduct.

As long as prosecutors persist in redefining misconduct as "creative" or "good faith" policing, we should expect plenty more of it.
United States

Former Narcs Say Drug War is Futile

United States
Fox News

Law Enforcement: DEA Lax on Handling Seized Cash, Audit Finds

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has rules in place to safeguard the hundreds of millions of dollars of cash seized or forfeited from drug suspects each year, but DEA agents largely ignore them, a review by the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General has found. The lax handling of all that cash is an invitation to theft and corruption, the audit warned.
seized cash
The audit examined thousands of seizures between October 2003 and November 2005. During that period, DEA agents made more than 16,000 seizures totaling nearly $616 million. According to Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine, author of the audit, DEA agents frequently failed to count the cash they seized, often didn't provide receipts, rarely bothered to record the seizures in agency ledgers, and frequently failed to have colleagues witness the counting and handling of the money.

"Failure to establish effective controls for safeguarding seized cash can lead to discrepancies, accusations of theft, or misappropriation of seized cash," Fine wrote in a fine display of bureaucratic understatement.

The lax procedures led to at least 12 instances where either the DEA's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) or the Office of the Inspector General's Investigations Division investigated allegations of missing or stolen cash, Fine noted. "The investigations showed that DEA personnel did not follow established controls for safeguarding the seized cash," he wrote. "Problems identified include agents not counting the seized cash, not providing a DEA-12 receipt to the suspect, and transporting the seized cash without a witness present."

Kind of makes you wonder just how much cash got up and walked away, doesn't it?

Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Hiding marijuana inside cannoli, taking cocaine from a murder scene, and peddling cocaine are all on the radar this week. So is an investigation into drug smuggling at a US Air Force base in England. Let's get to it:

At Lakenheath and Mildenhall US Air Force bases in England, a dozen US Air Force members are under investigation for alleged drug smuggling. Air Force officials have denied British newspaper reports that military planes were used to smuggle drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, and ecstasy, in military planes. The investigation began in September and first came to light in October. No one has yet been charged, but 11 servicemen from Lakenheath and one from Mildenhall are being questioned by the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations. Two British civilians have also been questioned. Some 27 servicemen and women were arrested in a drug investigation at Lakenheath in 2002.

In San Antonio, a city police officer is under investigation for taking cocaine from a crime scene. Officer Eric Rubio is accused of taking a bag of cocaine from the scene of a shooting. Rubio told investigators he forgot he had the drugs and took them home, then flushed them down the toilet. He has passed a voluntary drug test, the department reported. But the department's Internal Affairs unit is investigating whether he should be charged with tampering with evidence. Rubio is on desk duty until the investigation is completed.

In Hempstead, New York, a Nassau County jail guard was arrested January 4 after he tried to smuggle marijuana stuffed into cannoli into the jail. Rocco Bove, 24, was arrested after he dropped off a box for an inmate. When officers checked it, they found marijuana, rolling papers, matches, and a flint pad inside. Bove had removed the cream filling from the cannoli, stashed the marijuana inside in plastic bags, then refilled the tube-shaped shells of fried pasta. Bove has been suspended without pay and charged with promoting prison contraband and unlawful possession of marijuana.

In Orlando, a Florida prison guard went on trial last week over his role in arranging a 13-pound cocaine deal. Michael Wright, 29, a lieutenant at the Indian River Correctional Facility in Vero Beach, was indicted along with one other man on one count each of conspiracy to distribute narcotics after agreeing to sell 13 pounds of coke for $20,000. The deal never went down because Wright and his accomplice fled when they noticed a law enforcement helicopter circling the area, but they were soon arrested. Wright faces a mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentence if found guilty.

Drug War Corruption Forces Disarmament of Entire Tijuana Police Force

A new day, a new extreme as the dark swarm of drug war-corrupted cops continues to swell.

From The Baltimore Sun:

Disarmed municipal police patrolled alongside armed state police Friday, a sight that brought some comfort to many in this border city, where municipal police are often equated with corruption and drug-fueled violence.

Members of the 2,300-strong municipal police force were ordered by the military to turn in their weapons to see whether any are linked with homicides and other crimes. More than 2,000 weapons, most of them 9 mm handguns, but also some automatic weapons and shotguns, are being inspected.

There's something terribly wrong when public safety necessitates the disarmament of the police. It's a bizarre situation that would never happen in a million years if it weren't for the infinitely corrupting influence of the war on drugs. Indeed, the drug war is more than mildly corrosive; it corrupts entire nations, beginning with the people placed in charge of preventing corruption.

The best evidence that everything is going to hell comes from the citizens of Tijuana, who couldn't be more thrilled about the disarmament of their police force:

Municipal police may get their weapons back within two weeks, Tijuana officials say, but many residents aren't demanding urgent action.

"This is stupendous," said Alfredo Arias, the manager of a restaurant in the tough neighborhood of La Libertad that was riddled by hundreds of bullets in a shootout last year between masked gunmen and federal agents.

Alberto Capella, president of Tijuana's citizens advisory council on public safety, said disarming the police had met with widespread support. "In some ways it's a necessary evil ... part of the cleansing we need to improve the department." he said.

I totally understand. The worst consequences of U.S. drug policy are suffered by innocent citizens in source countries, but I can think of a few good reasons to disarm some of the cops up here. Maybe the Mexicans are on to something. But even drastic steps like disarming police cannot quench the drug war's insatiable appetite for chaos and disorder.

We're seeing a steady escalation of drug trade violence across our southern border, and while many bloggers are concerned, most are content to simply propose building fences and such. Never mind that drug prohibition will always encourage well-financed drug traffickers to cut holes in the fence.

No, a fence isn't going to work. Unless it's a magic fence. A magic fence that knows how to end drug prohibition.

United States

Drug Agents Mishandled Seized Cash, Audit Finds

Washington, DC
United States
The Examiner (Washington, DC)

Mexico drugs crackdown leaves cops without guns

The Brunei Times

Tijuana Police Force Ordered to Turn In Guns

Tijuana, BCN
San Diego Union-Tribune

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