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Pima Raid

[ 47 ] May 30, 2011 |

Read David Axe’s fantastic account of the Pima County SWAT raid:

The May 5 assault by a Pima County SWAT team on an address on Red Water Street, outside Tucson, was meant to apprehend a suspected member of a “rip crew” — a team of heavily-armed thugs, working for one of the cartels, that steals drugs from rival cartels. The special-weapons team, made up of at least seven men and seen in the leaked helmet-camera footage above, would pull up in a “Bearcat” vehicle — a sort of law-enforcement-optimized Humvee. Then they’d bust into the single-story house, hold the occupants at gunpoint and serve a search warrant, looking for drugs, illegal weapons and other evidence of cartel involvement. Just another day for a team accustomed to risky missions.

But something went very wrong. And within seconds of ramming in the door, the SWAT team opened fire, killing Jose Guerena, the owner of the house. Guerena, a 26-year-old Marine veteran, reportedly confronted the police with an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, possibly to protect his wife kids, who were huddled in rooms behind him.

Let’s say it again; there is no remaining plausible defense for the War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs. Whatever interest the state may have in controlling consumption of certain substances is clearly overwhelmed by the economic, social, and legal cost of enforcing prohibition.

Comments (47)

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  1. Madness.

    Which is not to say that “rip crews” are not a problem. Indeed, the drug cartels are a real danger. We need to put them out of business, just like we put the bootlegger gangs that rose to prominence in the 20s out of business in the early 30s. Someone refresh my memory, how’d we do that again?

    • pete says:

      Wasn’t it a small group of dalits who worshiped El-Yotnes and used the esoteric powers of the Eye-Ah-’s to lay the mighty low?

    • wengler says:

      We can’t do that because drugs are bad m’kay.

    • DrDick says:

      Quickest way to out the drug cartels out of business is the same way we put the rum runners out of business. Legalize it, regulate it, and tax the hell out of it to pay for treatment programs.

      • Norman_Thomas. says:

        Legalize it, regulate it…

        And (again), I ask what the solution to proving someone is high in a responsible position such as Airline pilot or train engineer?

        Today, you can fire them for testing positive. If you legalize it, you cannot and there’s no way to prove they’re high at the time.

        So, what’s the solution that you have thought out in advance?

        Err…you have a solution….riiiight?

        • malraux says:

          Right, because pilots show up drunk with no repercussions.

          I will punch myself for responding to the troll however.

        • Murc says:

          Tchah, bad form, Norman.

          I’d have stuck with moralizing paternalistic arguments; those are way harder to definitively prove wrong. The whole ‘you couldn’t fire someone for being high on a legal substance’ thing isn’t, and it invites the obvious response of using booze as an example.

          You’re slipping, man. I know for a fact you can troll better than this. Might I suggest some hippie-punching, implying that a bunch of stoners who want to get high in their parents basements want to inflict crazed heroin-addict schoolbus drivers on the rest of us just to feed their habit?

        • Brad P. says:

          And (again), I ask what the solution to proving someone is high in a responsible position such as Airline pilot or train engineer?

          Today, you can fire them for testing positive. If you legalize it, you cannot and there’s no way to prove they’re high at the time.

          So, what’s the solution that you have thought out in advance?

          Err…you have a solution….riiiight?

          As an avid drug user with former friends who became more than avid users, warning signs usually show up long before someone starts showing up for work high, especially someone who has put the work in to get to that level of responsibility.

          Second, even though I am not a lawyer, I find it very hard to believe that pilots and other extremely socially responsible individuals will have testing immunity just because certain drugs are legalized.

          Lastly, if you can see a marine shot 22 times in his own home, while carrying an AR-15 with the safety on, with his family in the back of the house, and then counter with “What about stoned pilots?!”, I don’t think you have any sort of capacity to understand justice in any coherent way.

        • If you legalize it, you cannot and there’s no way to prove they’re high at the time.

          You can ban airline pilots from using drugs as a condition of their employment. Put it into a contract.

          Bans on actions that don’t violate criminal laws are written into contracts all the time.

        • “Today, you can fire them for testing positive. If you legalize it, you cannot…”

          Seriously?

        • John F says:

          Today, you can fire them for testing positive. If you legalize it, you cannot

          I shouldn’t respond to the Troll, but yes you still can, all you have to do is make it part of the employment contract…

          But of course you knew that already.

    • Holden Pattern says:

      Not politically possible for the Dem leadership — they can’t be seen as soft on crime, because then they won’t be elected and the Republicans will be far far worse.

      Even if most of the Dem base (and especially naive idealists like you) might think it’s a good idea, the Republicans and Blue Dogs have set the terms under which we all operate, and it’s pointless to even argue for anything more — doing so just shows that you’re unrealistic and objectively pro-Republican.

      • lawguy says:

        It may be that I am not yet awake, but are you just being scarcatic, or can you possibly really mean what you say?

        I’ll save myself another post, if it is the latter you are nuts.

        • I accused Holden a couple days ago of prioritizing pointless Protest People posturing ahead of meaningful contributions to political progress.

          In order to prove me wrong, he decided that his contribution on a thread about the issue of drug law reform would be to whine about me.

      • soullite says:

        Please, everyone in this country is pretty much fed up with the whole ‘OMG IT WONT BE POLITICALLY FEASIBLE!!!!’

        We’re probably going to go through a decade or two of massive political instability because these same politicians thought TARP would be awesome, even though it wasn’t remotely politically feasible and destroyed what little trust Americans had left in their government. If handing out sacks of money while pointing and laughing at home-owners was ‘politically feasible’, then anything is politically feasible.

      • Your determination to cast yourself as a victim is having its usual mind-numbing effect. This is because you want it so, so very much.

        I’ve never once written a word against arguing in favor a policy that is currently outside of the political mainstream; indeed, I did it right here.

        You might notice, I managed to do so without positing any conspiracy theories, making any idiotic statement about equivalency between the two parties, or otherwise stabbing the Democrats in the back in a debate they’re having with the Republicans.

        While you…well, here we have an issue of great importance, and what’s you’re contribution? To treat it as an excuse to do the only think you are good for in this world: whine like a beaten puppy, so you can get that bracing fix.

        Thanks for proving my point.

    • Scott de B. says:

      We didn’t put them out of business.

      • OK, true, but we certainly knocked them down a few pegs.

        After prohibition ended, organized crime plummeted, violent crime plummeted, and the liquor business went from a massive black market run by violent men to what it is today – a tightly-regulated galaxy of legitimate businesses.

        • DrDick says:

          They diversified into prostitution, gambling, and drugs. Again, legalize and regulate those and much of their profits disappear. along with the incentives to violence. Loan sharking and the protection rackets will probably always be with us.

          • They diversified into prostitution, gambling, and drugs.

            They weren’t already into prostitution, gambling, and drugs?

            What they did was become small, less wealthy, and less powerful, because they only had those business lines – which they were already into – left to them, while their most lucrative line was taken away from them.

            Again, legalize and regulate those and much of their profits disappear. along with the incentives to violence.

            Indeed.

            • DrDick says:

              Which is what would happen to the drug cartels if we legalized drugs. Without the huge profits from the drugs, the violence would drop. They would not go away, as they are already involved in many other illegal enterprises, but those do not generate the profits drugs do.

              That said, I do not expect it to happen. There is simply too much resistance in to many corners of our political landscape. On the other hand, we might be able to decriminalize simple possession, which would be a huge advance and save millions in the criminal justice system.

              • Which is what would happen to the drug cartels if we legalized drugs.

                Indeed.

                On the other hand, we might be able to decriminalize simple possession, which would be a huge advance and save millions in the criminal justice system.

                I think there’s a big difference between marijuana and everything else. I expect to see legalization in my lifetime for marijuana.

                I also think that decrminialization of highly-addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin, under a medical regime that includes frequent contact with care-givers, would have some meaningful effect on drug gangs’ profits, but coaxing many addicts who would otherwise be long-term customers into treatment.

                • DrDick says:

                  I also think that decrminialization of highly-addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin, under a medical regime that includes frequent contact with care-givers

                  That would be my preferred model and would be a far more effective means of treating addiction than criminalization is.

  2. Norman_Thomas. says:

    Let’s say it again; there is no remaining plausible defense for the War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs.

    Tjhis has just about ZERO to do with drugs and everything to do with the execution of a legal warrant signed by a judge…..

  3. rea says:

    (1) Pima County does indeed have a problem with “rip crews,” who ripoff drug dealers and smugglers of illegal immigrants, often disguised as police. You would think, given the nature of the cries they were investigating, the police would have taken particular care to avoid getting into an armed confrontation with innocent civilians, who might have reasonable concerns that the SWAT team was really a rip crew.

    (2) Given what happened, it’s surprising the police haven’t made more of the evidence they were actin on public. They evidently had enough to persuade a judge to give them a search warrant. From what has been made public, though, it’s hard to see why any judge in his right mind would have given them a warrant.

    (3) Most of the evidence that’s been made public has been post-raid evidence–relatives of the victim, living in other houses searched at about the same time, were found to have money, guns and marijuana. A relative of the victim was recently murdered, possibly by a rip crew–but why that would trigger an investigation into the victim’s family is a mystery.

  4. Scott de B. says:

    As usual we get a false dichotomy — either we have to continue doing exactly what we are doing now, or we have to legalize all drugs for all people, everywhere, always.

    Of course, such rhetoric only strengthens the extremists on both sides of the issue.

    We manage to make prostitution illegal, we manage to make slavery illegal, we manage to make homemade medicine illegal without this kind of police overreach.

  5. opit says:

    “Without this kind of police overreach.”

    And so it goes, round and round, without any consideration of the essentials : like the rest of the ‘wars’…it’s a racket that institutes terrorizing of the people by their neofeudal corporate masters.

    Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
    http://www.leap.cc/
    Understanding the Hemp Plant and its 50,000 Uses and Benefits!
    http://www.voteindustrialhemp.com/

  6. seeker6079 says:

    Note, too, the deadly paradox inherent in dynamic entries. One one hand, the police justify the dynamic entry as a means of confusing and befuddling the bad guys within, thus giving the SWAT team the upper hand. On the other hand, they expect people within the residence — be they bad guys or blameless types — to respond to a dynamic entry in an unbefuddled way, i.e. able to grasp that the flash-bangs, shouts, screams and crashes are the police and to respond immediately and effectively to the (often contradictory) shouted commands. It isn’t a question of the odds producing fatalities such as the late Marine’s; it’s that the system itself pretty much guarantees such outcomes.

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