We’ve been covering the abomination of civil asset forfeiture in this blog for years. This is a legal tool that was created to seize the ill-gotten gains of drug kingpins, but in reality it has turned into policing drug users for profit.
In a civil asset forfeiture case, your property is charged with the crime of being financed by drug money or gained through drug crime. Being property, it doesn’t get civil liberties; it is considered guilty until proven innocent. Thus, if you’re caught growing a marijuana plant or even possessing some marijuana, in some cases your car, your home, and your money are charged with a crime, seized by the police, and sold at auction (or re-purposed by the police – see any number of D.A.R.E. Corvettes).
Here’s the astounding part: you yourself don’t actually have to be charged with any crimes. Any drug crimes you might have been charged with could be dropped, for lack of evidence, for instance, but your property could still be seized by police in a civil asset forfeiture. It would then be incumbent on you to hire a lawyer to go to court to fight for your car, home, and cash back. What’s that, how do you hire a lawyer to rescue your assets when you have no assets? Exactly, which is why civil asset forfeiture has essentially become legalized stealing by police departments who know defendants in most cases can’t afford to fight back. In some cases, the cost of suing to get the assets returned is more than the value of the assets.
But it’s not always fancy Corvettes and new SUVs that the police departments are buying, like Georgia police that have spent $30 million in drug seizure disbursements to purchase things like laptops and tactical gear. In Fayette County, Georgia, about $115,000 of it was spent flying, feeding, and lodging sheriffs who attended seminars in Georgia, Alabama, Florida and South Carolina. In Palatine, Illinois, $65,000 of seized money was approved to purchase new fitness equipment for the police station. And now, in Suffolk County (Long Island) New York, money seized from pot smokers is being used to help parents drug test their kids at home:
Sheriff Vincent F. DeMarco has purchased drug test kits to distribute to parents free of charge.
The program aims to offer free drug test kits that can be used in privacy to assist parents and guardians with monitoring the behavior of their children who are under the age of 18.
And the sooner the better. A drug use intervention plan is much easier to implement on a 13 or 14 year old child who may be experimenting with marijuana or prescription drugs than on an older teen engaging in heroin and cocaine use. However, parents can, and should, engage in active intervention with their children under the age of 18 if they suspect a drug use problem.
Test kits have been purchased by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and are made available to residents in Suffolk County. The kits were not paid for by taxpayers but funded with money seized from drug dealers. The program aims to offer free drug test kits that can be used in privacy to assist parents and guardians with monitoring the behavior of their children who are under the age of 18.
So in one program, Sheriff DeMarco has combined two abominations of the drug war – asset forfeiture and drug testing – and combined them into one propaganda monstrosity. Never mind that the American Association of Pediatrics amended its adolescent drug-testing policy to include a statement discouraging home drug testing by parents. The pediatricians’ group also notes that “drug testing poses substantial risks—in particular, the risk of harming the parent-child and school-child relationships by creating an environment of resentment, distrust, and suspicion”. The pediatricians explain the complex protocols that must be followed to guarantee drug test validity in a laboratory setting and that “most parents cannot implement the federal collection protocol and, for ethical and developmental reasons, should not directly observe their teenaged children urinating.” They also examined the harm that drug testing may pose to adolescents:
It is fairly easy to defeat drug tests, and most drug-involved youth are all too familiar with ways to do so. Even properly collected specimens must have checks for validity (eg, urine specific gravity and creatinine), because the easiest way to defeat a drug testing is by simple dilution. Even when properly collected and validated, urine drug tests yield very limited information. With the exception of marijuana, the window of detection for most drugs of abuse is 72 hours or less. Therefore, negative test results indicate only that the adolescent did not use a specific drug during the past several days. Even adolescents with serious drug problems may have negative test results on most occasions. Standard drug-testing panels also do not detect many of the drugs most frequently abused by adolescents, such as alcohol, ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine [MDMA]), and inhalants, and information on the limitations of screening tests and ways to defeat them is widely available to adolescents via the Internet. Widespread implementation of drug testing may, therefore, inadvertently encourage more students to abuse alcohol, which is associated with more adolescent deaths than any illicit drug but is not included in many standard testing panels. Mandatory drug testing may also motivate some drug-involved adolescents to change from using drugs with relatively less associated morbidity and mortality, such as marijuana, to those that pose greater danger (eg, inhalants) but are not detected by screening tests.
But if you’re worried about your Google-savvy kid looking up how to beat your drug test online, never fear. In Maryland, the manufactured need for drug testing has spawned a new start-up industry: mobile drug testing! We can’t get a doctor to make house calls in this country, but we can get a former restaurant worker/driver and his wife to show up at your home or place of business, secure your restroom against any specimen tampering, and tell you on the spot whether your child’s or employee’s pee is worthy of your approval:
Earlier this year, the Annapolis couple became the Maryland contractor for Mobile Drug Testing, an agency that provides door-to-door testing services. As a result, they get a steady supply of instant test kits that can detect the presence of marijuana, cocaine, opiates and other drugs.
Jim Kopernick worked in the food and beverage industry for nearly 20 years. Because he occasionally drove for his company, he had to undergo drug testing. But he became frustrated about going to clinics and waiting three hours to begin the process.
When the Kopernicks learned about Mobile Drug Testing, they saw it as a way to leave the corporate world. They charge $30 for simple drug testing on up to $400 for DNA tests. They have three people who work underneath them as collection agents.
On assignments with individual clients, they go to the person’s home, receive a cash payment and take down personal information. Then they secure the bathroom — tape up the soap dispenser, seal the ceiling ventilation and place bluing tablets inside the toilet — and have them provide a urine sample. Results can be given instantly.
There is no magic test that is going to keep your child or employee off drugs. The biggest unaddressed problem with drug testing is that it has become a substitute for good parenting and good management. A parent or manager who pays attention to and nurtures their children or employees is going to notice the first signs of drug abuse long before any pee test will. A child or employee who isn’t using drugs will be offended and humiliated to have to pee for your approval. A child or employee who is using drugs is going to cheat and beat the test, leaving you mistakenly believing everything is fine; or fail the test, leaving them feeling punished and shamed (or fired); or refuse to take the test, forcing you into a showdown that will drive a greater wedge between the two of you.
In the case of the adult employees, it’s not even worth your time (or any of your business) to test them for marijuana in the first place. We’re hard-working, loyal, safe, productive employees who just like to relax with weed instead of beer. You’re wasting your money by testing us and you’re also missing out on quite a few smart, talented, principled pot smokers who refuse to pee for employment.
In the case of teenage children, it’s a tougher issue to be sure. If they’re not using marijuana, your push for drug testing is just going to open up trust issues. If they’ve decided to use marijuana, your pressure for drug testing is just going to push them toward drugs that don’t show up as well on drug tests. This isn’t the time for some company’s chemical assay to help your child – it’s time for you to have some honest discussions with your teenager.
Last week at the beginning of his journey, Dorst was waiting at Vancouver International Airport for his flight to Ecuador that involved a two-and-a-half hour layover in Houston, Texas. Just before boarding the Airline, a US border agent in Vancouver checked his passport and asked him a few questions, but then instead of allowing him to board, asked him to step into a second room for additional screening. After a few hours, the US agent finally reveled that she knew of a suspended drug sentence from 1967.
The charge came after police raided some communal apartments in Ontario that Dorst was living, and found the pipe in question hanging on a wall as a decorative piece. Dorst told them that at the time, even the judge in the case publicly criticized the police for arresting him. When the border agent asked about other arrests, Dorst admitted that he was locked up in 1988 and spent one night in jail with fellow anti-mining protests, and that same year he was put in jail for contempt over another anti-logging protest.
After the extra hours being detained at the Canadian Airport by US officials, Dorst was fingerprinted and let go, but not allowed entrance to the US. He is sending an invoice to US Homeland Security for the $1250 he is out for the ticket, but he doubts they will pay. He said that he has crossed the border many times since 1967 without incident.
Typically, at the US border crossing, all those crossing or entering the US get a primary check, are asked a few questions, and if you aren’t wanted, you are on your way. Red flags to stop someone for further questions would be a warrant, or a criminal record that shows “moral turpitude”. That would be crimes like assault or robbery on your record, which would be grounds for a denial. Drunk driving won’t get you denied access, but a drug conviction will. It doesn’t matter if it was for a tiny amount of pipe resin from 45 years ago, or a truckload of ecstacy and heroin last week. They look at all drug convictions the same and you will get denied if they happen to look into your criminal records.
People like Dorst are allowed to apply to US Homeland Security for a waiver to travel through, but that would cost about $1000 and the waiver is only good for travel up to year, and can take at least that long for the process. Often times, border guard might look at a record like Dorst, and let them go with a warning to get the waiver next time they fly. When asked if he will try for the waiver, Dorst said absolutely not. Even though it will be very expensive, he will choose to fly around the US at all costs, saying he never wants to deal with those people again, wondering what purpose is served by declaring him a threat to the US.
(KXLF Butte) Agencies involved in the investigation include the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Customs and Border Protection-Border Patrol, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These federal agencies were assisted by the Montana Division of Criminal Investigations, and local High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task forces, the Northwest Drug Task Force, the Kalispell Police Department, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, the Missoula Police Department, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, the Missoula High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, the Great Falls Police Department, the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, the Central Montana Drug Task Force, the Billings Police Department, the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, the Eastern Montana High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, the Dillon Police Department, the Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Office, the Park County Sheriff’s Office, the Bozeman Police Department, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, the Missouri River Drug Task Force, the Helena Police Department, the Lewis & Clark Sheriff’s Office, and the Eastern Montana Drug Task Force – Miles City.
Here is the reason why all these cops were hard at work for eighteen months. However, there was a problem in transcribing the news release – some of the release was mysteriously redacted. So I took the liberty of putting the missing words back into the copy, which you can identify by the emphasis:
The businesses that provide medicine to sick people that were targeted were believed to be in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, the release states.
“Specifically, it is alleged in the search warrants, civil seizure warrants and related documents that the premises or property identified were involved in some or all of the following violations of federal law: manufacture of marijuana medicine for sick people in accordance with state law and possession with intent to distribute marijuana medicine to sick people, and distribution of marijuana medicine to sick people in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841, conspiracy to commit the offenses of manufacture of marijuana medicine for sick people, possession with intent to distribute marijuana medicine to sick people and distribution of marijuana medicine to sick people in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, structuring or assisting in structuring any transaction to evade currency reporting requirements or causing or attempting to cause a domestic financial institution to fail to file Currency Transaction Reports in violation of 31 U.S.C. §§ 5324(a)(1) and (3),” the release states.
The reason those emphasized words have been redacted is to get the caregivers on trial used to the fact they can’t say those words in federal court. There is no medical marijuana. There is no medicine. There are no patients and caregivers. All those cancer patients and compassionate farmers are just felons to the feds.
So I can see why DEA, ICE, IRS, ATFE, FBI, EPA, and OSHA* are involved. Why do we have all those county cops involved in enforcing federal law? Those search warrants are all alleging violations of federal law, not state law. State and local cops aren’t obliged to enforce federal laws. They have to make the choice to assist.
Montanans, how do you feel about your tax dollars being wasted to prosecute caregivers and patients
*Interesting anagram: DEATH AIRBASE? A COFFEE I SIP.
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(Counterpunch.org) DHS says the new initiative will be based on a “risk-based decision-making process.” All the various DHS initiatives that are part of its SBI umbrella program contend that they are “risk-based.” DHS contends it is protecting the homeland against “dangerous goods and people.”
In practice, however, its array of border control and immigration enforcement programs casts a wide net—with most of the arrests being immigration violators and drug law offenders rather than dangerous criminals. Marijuana leads, by far, the list of illegal drugs seized, even though there is widening consensus, even in the criminal justice community, that marijuana is not a “dangerous good,” especially when compared with cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines.
The achievements of the existing [Border Enforcement Security Taskforce] BEST teams don’t support ICE declarations that their investigation and prosecutions are “risk-based.” The existing 95 members of BEST teams in the Southwest were responsible for 1,000 criminal arrests in 2008, but most of its arrests—1,256—were for administrative violations, presumably transgressions of immigration law. Marijuana seizures topped the list of drugs confiscated. BEST seized 42,400 lbs. of marijuana, 1,803 lbs. of cocaine, and 66 lbs. of heroin.
Do you feel safer now? When President Nixon declared the war on drugs, one of the first programs on the Mexican border was “Operation Intercept“. Then, too, the idea was that we’d stop those Mexicans from supplying weed to our youth. The massive crackdown was called off after Mexican officials complained about how badly this backed up legitimate business traffic at the border.
In this case, it’s not just business traffic inconveniences to worry about, it’s potential terrorists and explosive or radioactive materials we’re worried about. Every time border cops have to spend time busting truckloads of pot is an opportunity for a terrorist to go unnoticed.
A former Justice Department official who led a 1990s crackdown on illegal border crossings was named to the new U.S. post of “border czar” Wednesday to oversee efforts to end drug-cartel violence along the U.S.-Mexico border and to slow the tide of illegal immigration.
Alan Bersin, a former U.S. attorney who also once served as California’s education secretary, was named to the job by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The new assistant Homeland Security secretary for international affairs also rejected calls by state officials and others to place troops on the U.S. side of the Mexican border.
“The posse comitatus have served this country well,” he said, referring to laws that prevent the U.S. military from operating as law enforcement within the U.S.
via – The Associated Press “Ex-prosecutor picked for new US ‘border czar’ post“
At the end of two days of meetings with Mexican officials, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said that cooperation between the United States and Mexico was stronger and “fundamentally different than that which existed in the past.”
Sweet, what new methods are we going to try, AG Holder?
In their meetings with Mr. Calderón, Mr. Holder and the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, discussed plans to provide training to Mexican canine teams, and to increase cooperation between the United States Coast Guard and the Mexican Navy to stop the increasing numbers of illegal immigrants and drug smugglers using the Pacific Ocean as a result of increased enforcement along the land border.
OK, I didn’t expect ‘legalize weed and burn one with my Mexican homies’. Go on …
And with marijuana sales central to the drug trade, Mr. Holder said he was exploring ways to lower the minimum amount required for the federal prosecution of possession cases.
via – The New York Times “Mexican and U.S. Attorneys General Confer to Strengthen Cooperation on Drug Violence“
Wait, what??? I thought you said ‘fundamentally different’? What is busting an end user of MexiBrickWeed with what amount now (a speck, weed breath, what) going to do to hurt the cartels? The only thing you’ll do is put more people that don’t deserve it into prison that we can’t afford to pay for.
As five congressional panels held hearings in recent days on Mexican drug cartel violence and border security, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had one thing to say about legalizing marijuana in hopes of easing the bloodshed: “It won’t work.”
In a conversation with this columnist Saturday, Mr. Chertoff likened today’s drug wars in Mexico to previous mob wars in America, which – he pointed out – didn’t stop once Prohibition ended in 1933.
via Washington Times – Inside the Beltway.
This is the “But there will still be crime!” argument — legalization of marijuana won’t help end the bloodshed in the drug war because the drug cartels will just turn to another drug or crime to continue their existence. This is the slippery slope exactly opposite of the logic behind “Why don’t we just legalize rape and there’ll be no more rapes!” argument.
Well, of course criminals will keep committing crimes – that’s what criminals do.
The question is how legalization affect the rest of society? We found that implementing alcohol Prohibition raised the consumption of hard liquor and increased the homicide rate. We saw both decline after Prohibition’s repeal. Implementing prohibition led to the following statistical increases:
Now, what did the mob get into after the end of Prohibition? Drugs, gambling, and prostitution, along with various traditional robberies, extortions, and graft. But the huge majority of people who consume alcohol were no longer criminals – by definition crime was reduced enormously by ending Prohibition.
Legalizing marijuana will not end the Mexican drug cartels, but it will dry up 60%-75% of their business. They cannot just manufacture demand for heroin and cocaine. With less money they can buy less firepower and bribe fewer officials. Will the fire of drug crime go out? No, but at least we can stop pouring gasoline on it.
Mexico is in danger of a “rapid and sudden collapse” due to criminal gangs and drug cartels, according to a troubling new report by the U.S. Joint Forces Command on worldwide security threats.
“In terms of worst-case scenarios for the Joint Forces and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico,” the report states.
“The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and drug cartels.”
As Newsmax reported last week, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the U.S. has developed plans for a “surge” in crime fighters if the drug wars in Mexico should spread across the border.
The plans call for aircraft, armored vehicles and special teams to converge on trouble spots along the border. Military forces would be used if civilian agencies like the Border Patrol and local law enforcement were unable to control the violence.
Criminal activity in Mexico has killed more than 5,300 people in the past year, including members of warring drug cartels, law enforcement officials and bystanders, many of them slain close to the U.S. border.
via Newsmax.com – U.S. Military: Mexico Could Collapse Under Drug Violence, Corruption.
Where, pray tell, are you getting these extra aircraft, armored vehicles, and military forces? Last I read, there was a shortage of troops for Afghanistan, a service-wide shortage of officers, a shortage of guns for soldiers in Iraq, and basically a shortage of everything the Army needs to maintain its mission.
“It will take end of war plus two years to work off the backlog,” Gen. Peter Pace told the House Appropriations defense subcommittee [in 2007]. Pace said that 40 percent of Army and Marine Corps equipment is deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan or being repaired in depots, with the remainder spread out among the other forces.
This all costs a lot of money as well, which seems to be in short supply these days. Do you really think you can maintain a hot war in Iraq and Afghanistan, respond to another hot war on our southern border and keep an eye on Pakistan, bin Laden, and North Korea?
If only we could think of a swift and effective policy change that would cost these warring cartels 70% of their business and bankrupt them overnight.
Well, we did think of one, but Congressman Reyes and President-elect Barack Obama keep telling us to shut up about it.