Watching a big drug bust downtown from my car. Latino-looking guy in a BMW. A uniform stopped him, but he was immediately surrounded by a phalanx of plainclothes fuzz, one wearing a balaclava. Then another copper arrives with a drug-sniffing mutt, who goes beserk over the car -- in & out all four doors, jumps in the trunk, jumps on top of the engine! Four large fuzz immediately don rubber gloves & do the French Connection on the sedan. They are soon pulling out plastic bags, but they are looking for more concealed stash. They pull down the insulation under the hood. Go into all the fillers & air cleaner. Two big guys are lying on the floor, their legs sticking out like crash victims. The whole thing is a ridiculous waste of our money. A cop here costs the city $180,000 a year. I felt sorry for the perp who might be looking at long years in the slammer. And the cops get to keep the Beemer, even if the case goes nowhere. The war on drugs has recapitulated the history of Prohibition -- no effect on consumption but a vast increase in corruption and crime.
Four hundred miles south, in the killing fields of Mexico, our war on drugs fuels daily massacres. We Americans have plenty of money and an incessant appetite for mind-fucking substances. And we also do a land office business making guns and shipping them south. It works in a lot of ways. These cops have well-paid jobs. Legalize drugs and we wouldn't need so many of them. The drug sniffing dog is getting some treats for a job well done. The P.D. has yet another set of expensive wheels for their next auction. The perp's lawyer will demand a hefty retainer. The judge will have plenty on his calendar. Our prison industry is bursting at the seams. We even rent cells in other states. Another expendable mule will be dispatched north to replace this one. The bust might dent supply, but as with gasoline, the vendors merely raise the prices until the streets are again flooded with nose candy, smack, crystal, or whatever is in those bags the fuzz are triumphantly piling on the sidewalk.
Now they are setting up what looks like a mini-lab for some quick tests. With all four doors, the hood and the trunk popped, a cop is making a long video from every angle, with lots of close-ups. They're hunters in a celebratory mood, perhaps this is the culmination of weeks or months of endlessly boring eavesdropping and badgering of informants. And I, sitting in my minivan across the street, am provided with a rare show in this quiet suburb where not much happens. At least not much that isn't hidden behind the blinds of our four bedroom equity-sinking ranches.
Causes Michael Lipsey Supports
Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Nature Conservancy