Via Brian and John Cole, the victims of the War On Drugs (that would be ordinary taxpayers and citizens who are being bled dry only to have basic constitutional rights revoked because they make it hard to bust drug users) scored a small victory as a resistance group caught some crooked ass cops in Odessa, TX* lying on warrant affidavits in an effort to snag some drug dealers, and of course make a little money off asset forfeiture.**
KopBusters rented a house in Odessa, Texas and began growing two small Christmas trees under a grow light similar to those used for growing marijuana. When faced with a suspected marijuana grow, the police usually use illegal FLIR cameras and/or lie on the search warrant affidavit claiming they have probable cause to raid the house. Instead of conducting a proper investigation which usually leads to no probable cause, the Kops lie on the affidavit claiming a confidential informant saw the plants and/or the police could smell marijuana coming from the suspected house.
The trap was set and less than 24 hours later, the Odessa narcotics unit raided the house only to find KopBuster’s attorney waiting under a system of complex gadgetry and spy cameras that streamed online to the KopBuster’s secret mobile office nearby.
Of course, they arrested the attorney, but let him go when the Kopbusters showed up with media in tow. What were they going to charge him with? Making cops look like fools? Or is it illegal now to be innocent of a crime that the cops want you to be guilty of?
In fact, it may be. Not in the technical sense, but in a procedural sense, according to the people who called the Kopbusters to show that the Odessa police are willing to break the law to maximize the number of casualties in the War On (Some People Who Use ) Drugs.
Cooper chose the Odessa police department for baiting because he believes police there instructed an informant to plant marijuana on a woman named Yolanda Madden. She’s currently serving an eight-year sentence for possession with intent to distribute. According to Cooper, the informant actually admitted in federal court that he planted the marijuana. Madden was convicted anyway.
It should be obvious that what the police in Odessa—and probably in most of the country—are doing is using sensors that detect heat lamps, sensors that the Supreme Court has ruled violate the constitutional protection against illegal searches. Once the cops satisfy their own belief that someone is growing pot,*** they lie on the affidavit, claiming that they smelled marijuana. Which is obviously a lie, beyond the fact that these people were only growing pine trees. I don’t know how you’d smell pot smoke in a city where the sulfur smell tends to drown out everything else.
You want to think about something massively depressing? The prison industry is a big business now, and they lobby for long sentences for drug users to maximize profits. Which means that 95% of the people squalling about health care and having to pay for a universal health care program have zero compunction about paying more taxes to make sure that harmless people’s lives are ruined by prison and a lifetime of limited employment options. Think about that long and hard. If we took the same money we spend to put people like Yolanda Madden in jail—and let’s face it, even if she’s guilty, what she did (smoked some pot) hurt absolutely no one—and spent on health care, we’d actually end up saving money in the long run, because we’d be investing in the future. And of course, the health of the country would improve. But what we’d lose is the role the War On Drugs plays in limiting class mobility, especially for the people of color that are most targeted by the police. Which tells you everything you need to know about the priorities of those who would deny us universal health care, but support the War On Drugs.
*This is the city neighboring Midland, TX, that part of Texas where Dubya laid his Texas roots. To give you an idea how ass-backwards and racist a place it is. Also, this city houses the high school that the movie, book, and TV show “Friday Night Lights” is based on.
**Because god forbid people pay taxes. Especially in a part of the country that went from somewhat poor to flush with cash in recent years as the oil profits go through the roof.
***If you’re a gardener who uses heat lamps to grow seedlings, I’d only worry if you live in the “wrong” neighborhood or are of the “wrong” race. But if you do or are, I’d be fucking worried.