An investigation that started in March with money falling from a hidden compartment in a truck ended last week as apparently the largest drug bust in Indiana history.To see the rest of the article, click here.
More than 5 tons of marijuana and more than $4.3 million are now in law enforcement hands, with four men in the Marion County Jail on charges that could put them in prison for life.
“This is going to have a profound impact,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler, who, along with other federal and Marion County law enforcement officials, detailed the coup Sunday to The Indianapolis Star.
“This is one of those rare cases where you get both the drug proceeds and the actual product, so this organization has obviously suffered a significant setback, if not been eliminated entirely by a seizure of this nature,” he said.
U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett said the financial hit to the Mexican cartel, which authorities believe was the originator of the marijuana and the ultimate destination of the cash, is far more than the $4.3 million seized here. While the bulk value of the marijuana — 10,505 pounds, or 5.25 tons — is about $5 million, Hogsett said, the street value “could be upwards of 10 times that amount.”
“Even being conservative, the cartel is not only out $4.3 million in proceeds that was on its way, but they’ve now lost the possibility of maybe $50 million in proceeds from the distribution of drugs,” Hogsett said. “This was significant because we got them both coming and going. The money was going, and we interdicted the drugs that were coming.”
I'm wrapping up watching the series Prohibition by Ken Burns. The parallels between alcohol and marijuana prohibition are striking. Making alcohol illegal resulted in the involvement of organized criminal enterprises in the making and distribution of the intoxicating product. Crime spiked as gangs fought over territory. Federal officials would periodically conduct busts, rounding up the bootleggers and smashing stills. Every time they claimed to have made a striking blow for the prohibition cause. In the end, all the enforcement efforts did was drive up the price and make it more, not less, inviting for organized crime.
I'm sorry, but this marijuana bust, the largest drug bust in Indiana history, will not cause a decrease in drug-related crime. It will cause an increase in the cost of the product and make the business of distributing it more inviting for organized crime. Just like prohibition.
I have serious doubts that federal officials actually believe this bust will make a dent in the "Reefer Madness" some people choose to indulge in. Rather I think the reason for the bust can be found in the article. Hogsett and the local law enforcement officials recovered $4.3 million from the drug traffickers. Let's see how much of the money above law enforcement costs is paid by prosecutors to the Common School Fund as is required under Indiana law. My guess is the figure will be the same as always, 100% for law enforcement, 0% for schools. Unfortunately our local judges are not enforcing the law that requires that prosecutors, at the end of a civil forfeiture case, prove law enforcement costs for the case, with a check cut to the Common School Fund for the balance.
We recently passed a milestone in this country. According to a Gallup Poll, for the first time more than 50% of Americans believe marijuana use should be legalized. That is higher than ever and the rate is soaring thanks to younger people who are against prohibition.
While it is great that the legalization debate is happening, one thing that is overlooked is that marijuana prohibition is big business for law enforcement officials. They love the cash that the busts bring. When it comes to U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett and Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, the bottom line is that they like the money they get from civil forfeiture much of which is made possible because of marijuana prohibition. Take that away and they lose money.
I'm sorry, but excuse me while I don't celebrate this historic drug bust.