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May 16, 2008

Did the FBI Just Admit That Drug Dealers Are Victims?

by tarran

Last week some ex LAPD officers were convicted in Federal Court.  These thugs had been convicted of conducting numerous home invasions, violently battering the people they found there and tossing the homes for illegal drugs which they then fenced.

The FBI, understandably proud of its role in apprehending these criminals, has issued the following press release:

Evidence presented at the plea hearings and the January 2008 trial of co-conspirators William and Joseph Ferguson revealed that Palomares and Loaiza were members of a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy that committed over 40 burglaries and robberies throughout the Los Angeles area between early 1999 and June of 2001. Palomares was the ringleader of this conspiracy, which included other law enforcement officers as well as drug dealers. The robberies generally were committed after the group received information that a particular location was involved in illegal drug-trafficking. The robbery teams usually consisted of multiple sworn police officers in uniform or displaying badges who would gain access to the residence by falsely telling any occupants that they were conducting a legitimate search for drugs or drug dealers. Victims often were restrained, threatened or assaulted during the search. These assaults included firing a stun gun at a victim, striking victims with police batons and putting a gun in the mouth of a victim. When the group stole drugs, they would use co-conspirators to sell the drugs, then split the profits from these sales among the group.

In all, 17 defendants, including law enforcement officers from the Los Angeles Police Department, the Long Beach Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the California Department of Corrections, have been convicted of federal crimes in connection with the conspiracy. Co-defendant Joseph Ferguson was sentenced to 97 months in prison on May 5, 2008.

“ These defendants, who were sworn to serve and protect the people of Los Angeles, went from enforcing the law to breaking the law,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “While the vast majority of law enforcement officers carry out their difficult duties in a professional manner, the Department of Justice will not hesitate to prosecute those who cross that line.”

“ With brazen disregard for the safety of those he was victimizing, Ruben Palomares repeatedly violated the sanctity of the law he was sworn to uphold,” said Thomas P. O’Brien, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.

Reading this press release, I can’t help but notice that the FBI referred to the people who had drugs stolen from their home as ‘victims’.  But why?  After all, all the actions the corrupt policemen took during their home invasions would have been quite legal had they been executing a warrant.   The only difference in their actions were that they a) didn’t arrest the inhabitants for drug posession, b) they sold the drugs.

It is clear that the people whom these corrupt policemen robbed were treated better than they would have been had the policemen been conducting an official counter-narcotics operation.  The inescapable conclusion:  if the drug dealers these police robbed were ‘victims’, then all of those who are arrested for drug dealing and drug possession must be considered victims too.

Hat Tip:  The Agitator

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7 Comments

  1. Is it that hard to conceive that someone can be both the victim of a crime and a criminal as well? It’s really not that complicated.

    I’m a criminal. I speed every time I get in my car. But I guess in you’re opinion if I get assaulted or burgled, I shouldn’t be considered a victim.

    Comment by CalebC — May 17, 2008 @ 7:16 am
  2. But I guess in you’re opinion if I get assaulted or burgled, I shouldn’t be considered a victim.

    Nope. You guessed wrong… Very wrong…

    To help you understand the point I am trying to make, please ask yourself the following questions:

    1) When the police kick down the door are they victimizing the drug dealers?

    2) When the police point their guns at drug dealers are they victimizing them?

    3) When the police seize and remove contraband from the drug dealers’ homes, are they victimizing the drug dealers?

    4) When the police decide not to arrest the drug dealers are they victimizing the drug dealers?

    5) When the police sell the drugs rather than destroying them are they victimizing the drug dealers?

    Mind you, I agree that the people who were assaulted and robbed by these men are victims. My point is that any person arrested for cocaine possession, for marijuana possession, for selling crack is a victim of kidnapping and theft. It appears that the FBI has finally admitted this too.

    Comment by tarran — May 17, 2008 @ 8:37 am
  3. I would argue that the real victims here are the legitimate police officers. Incidents like this establish a precedent in the minds of the public that there are more “bad cops” than there really are. This increases the risk cops face when making an arrest. While I am a law abiding citizen, if my home is raided for any reason, those officials have a very limited time to identify themselves and show a warrant. Warn once, non-compliance is met with deadly force. There have been burglaries in my own town by thugs dresses as police, (typically raiding homes they knew were empty) to avoid suspicion by onlooking neighbors.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the police. In my community, they do an outstanding job. But if Jesus Christ himself entered my home uninvited and without a warrant… It would take more than any miracle he’s ever conjured to separate me from my glock. Many people, especially those in high crime areas think exactly as I do.

    Every second people spend questioning the legitimacy of law enforcement will escalate the danger both to the officer and the public.

    The trouble is, in the name of “public safety” law enforcement officials have been pushing many people through training to appease public demand for higher security, and the screening of these recruits is somewhat lacking. They are more concerned with the physical abilities of the recruits and their academic background than they are with creating a benchmark for who will behave ethically. When a mistake is made, the public holds the entire department accountable for the actions of one individual. While I agree, the departments do have some accountability in who they hire and how they’re managed, the resulting media bashing only serves to perpetuate the idea that all cops are bad. Individual accountability seems to take a back seat to the political posturing that follows each of these unfortunate incidents. The department ends up issuing an apology, spending a third of their budget on additional seminars on “sensitivity” and “ethical practices” which most wont attend anyway, and nothing gets done. In many cases, the officer who broke the law is shown much leniency in sentencing, fired, or even just temporarily suspended. Each convicted defendant here should serve no less than 10 years, regardless of their level of involvement. Their immediate supervisors should be docked 3 months pay for their relative incompetence which can help pay for the resulting training needed to fill the empty positions.

    People who impersonate an officer for the purposes of committing a crime are treated severely, with as many as 4 additional charges brought against them. Why not extend that to people who actually are officers, using identical methods for the same purpose. I believe, as much of the public does (though the law disagrees) that the true authority of a police officer stems not from a badge, rank or who their employer is, but rather from the manner in which they conduct themselves while upholding their oath to maintain the law. When they turn to criminal activity, any authority they may have is voided by their actions. The moment they commit a crime, they become nothing more than a criminal posing as an officer. Were they in practice held to that level of accountability, there would be fewer of these incidents.

    Sadly, stories like this are becoming more common. One of the strongest arguments for the second amendment is “If only the police can protect you, who will protect you from the police”. While I don’t advocate shooting cops, the point they’re making is that the responsibility for maintaining a lawful society ultimately falls to the people, not the government. While judges are obligated to remain impartial and police agencies are biased in favor of their own members, it is the people who are the most outraged by these incidents. We are the ones who need to act. No lobbying by activist groups or campaigns of politicians who will “clean up the streets” is going to resolve this for us. There are many tools at our disposal to reduce crime without becoming vigilantes. One that comes to mind is Shame. Many newspapers print photos and names of convicted criminals so they may be ostracized for their actions. Living in NY, where there are many cultural segregated neighborhoods, I have seen public shame used to great effect by people who value their good names. In one ethnic neighborhood, I’ve witnessed a woman being spit upon by her neighbors as she walked down the street. I was later told her son was a thief and her family was shamed by the community for it. While I can argue that it’s unjust to punish her for the crimes of someone else, I must admit there’s not a lot of crime in that area. Would you steal a car if you knew your mother would be publicly abused for the rest of her life for it? It’s a severe example, I’m not recommending we do that, but it makes my point. I’ve personally helped a parent’s watch group put up posters with a picture of a convicted sex offender in my own neighborhood. I’d say that’s a good deterrent not just for him when considering another crime, but to anyone, knowing they will be outed, shamed, and possibly lynched by their community for crossing that line.

    If the officers here knew their actions would have consequences that would never be lived down even after a sentence was served, would they have done it?

    Okay, now I’m just ranting, but you get my point.

    Comment by Vlatro — May 19, 2008 @ 8:55 am
  4. Vlatro,

    Some of this may simply be avoided by the cops not using dynamic entry techniques unless absolutely necessary. That’s the point. The cops have picked up this tactic because they don’t want the drug dealers flushing evidence down the toilet (and because they love strapping on the cool gear and acting like special forces).

    There are places where SWAT teams and dynamic entry make sense. But these days, we have reports of them using these techniques to break up poker parties. What, are these people going to flush a few thousand poker chips down the toilet? Are poker players going to get into a shootout with the police to avoid a misdemeanor?

    The fact is that these no-knock raids are being used in a lot of instances where they’re unnecessary. Robbers, having noticed this, are using the same tactic. If the police weren’t breaking into homes by force, wouldn’t the average citizen typically be justified in shooting someone who WAS breaking in by force? It’s the cops using illegitimate tactics that are putting citizens in danger, and the byproduct of that situation is that it’s now putting the cops themselves in danger.

    I recommend you check out The Agitator for more background on this. Maybe you’ll understand that it’s usually a bad idea for ANYONE to break into homes in bad neighborhoods, even cops, because the person behind that door is scared and quite often armed.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — May 19, 2008 @ 9:41 am
  5. [Quote]Maybe you’ll understand that it’s usually a bad idea for ANYONE to break into homes in bad neighborhoods, even cops, because the person behind that door is scared and quite often armed.[/Quote]

    I agree, as stated earlier, my glock is never more than an arm’s length away. Police or not, forced entry into my home increases the threat to me significantly and I will defend against such threats by means of any force available to me.

    I’m not trying to legitimize their methods by any means, simply pointing out that, methods aside, their misconduct presents further threats both to the officers and society.

    Comment by Vlatro — May 19, 2008 @ 9:59 am
  6. “the real victims here are the legitimate police officers”

    the only legitimate police officers are the ones who refuse to violate the oaths they take to the constitution, in which case there is no such thing (those few who are smart enough to realize the job is in conflict with the oath quit). police officers are hired goons who enforce the police state and generate revenue in the form of fines, why they take an oath to protect the constitution from all enemies (foreign and domestic) is somewhat ironic when you consider they are the worst violators…

    Comment by LibertyNH — May 20, 2008 @ 2:26 am
  7. A few points:

    First, you seem to be confusing the oath with the code of ethics. They should follow both of course, but there’s a significant diffrence in the meaning and the manner in which each is upheld so let’s be specific. The oath varies from state to state, and the general purpose is that they are promising to follow orders and uphold all laws recognized by the Constitution of the US, The state constitution, and local county and city ordinences.

    As you point out, this is an impossible promise to keep. Many laws and local ordinances are by their nature unconstitutional. That doesn’t mean they aren’t bound to uphold them. They must enforce law, even the bad laws. You may appeal through the court system and challenge the law as unconstitutional. Would you do away with the entire judicial system and rely solely on on an officer’s interpretation of the law? Of course not. That’s not their job. They (ideally and often with regrettable exception) uphold the law so you may have your day in court.

    However, it is important to realize that criminals by nature don’t obey the laws. Would you bet on a sports team that was bound to the rule books, while their opponents got to make up their own rules as they went along? No, they couldn’t win. That’s why we give the police discretion in their actions to apprehend alleged criminals so their guilt or innocence may be established by the courts.

    What about situations like the Hollywood bank robberies. The responding officers shot the suspects dead. They didn’t get their day in court, no fair trial or any of the rights defined by the constitution. Were the officers wrong to do that? Maybe they should have just let the guys run out of ammo and calmly asked them if they were willing to come along to see a judge about their crimes. How would you handle that without exempting the officers from the law in that case? They made a decision, they followed orders, and they took responsibility for that decision. That’s one case. Open a book once in a while, turn on your TV, read the news, you’ll find literally hundreds of millions of other cases where the police needed to exercise discretion to preserve public safety.

    If you take offense to the laws they uphold, your issue is with the law makers, the judges, and often the voting public. There are tons of bad laws that do in fact need to be challenged. Cops are human being, imperfect and capable of mistakes. They are not exempt from the consequences of those mistakes. It’s OUR job to hold them up to the laws they hold us to. If a police officer abuses you, infringes on your constitutional rights, YOU are the one who must see that the cop is held accountable. But whining about how you hate cops does little to change any thing. You sound like a pissed off 16 year old who’s never read a law book and doesn’t want to pay a speeding ticket.

    Comment by Vlatro — May 20, 2008 @ 9:21 am

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