Friday, October 22, 2004

Dogwood Trails busts white folks, too

The Dogwood Trails drug task force based in Palestine, Texas participated in a massive sweep of small-time meth labs in East Texas, trumpeted in the media as the "Methbusters" campaign. Here's the DEA press release from that sweep earlier this year. (Dogwood Trails was not the only or principal investigative agency, as they are in the new case where all 72 busts are in Anderson County.)

I wish I needn't mention that most "meth labs," so scarily portrayed with skull and crossbones symbols over the shoulder of the local TV newscaster, are typically lone addicts making meth in their kitchen sink in user-only quantities. But because, of course, they have to make it, they're charged with "manufacturing," which has the same penalties as sale and delivery.

The fury over "meth labs" is the latest scare campaign by politicians to convince the public, or at least rural voters in red states, they still need the drug war. Ironically, it also may become the drug war's last (and still not credible) defense against charges of racial profiling. Why the sea of free market conservatives out there can't see that legalization and regulation would keep this stuff from being manufactured in neighborhoods or sold to kids is beyond me.

DOJ reports the Dogwood Trails task force seized no assets during fiscal year 2002. Then the city of Jacksonville dropped out of the task force, meaning they had to come up with the extra $26,000 previously mulcted from Jacksonville taxpayers. They thought they'd make up the money by merging with another area task force, but couldn't work out the politics. With these recent busts, it now becomes clear where Commander Curtis Bitz intends to get the extra cash.

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