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July 2009
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A question for the next drug dealer bust press conference

As a follow-up to the previous post… When they come out to brag about a successful operation that resulted in the arrest of some drug dealers, I’d like someone to ask:

Why should we be excited about having more drug dealers? After all, we’ll have all the new drug dealers that will step in to […]

I love watching their heads explode

It’s very hard for some people to grasp the concept that a successful law enforcement operation may not actually end up providing a net benefit to society. In fact, in the drug war, successful law enforcement operations often cause significant damage to society.
It is this fact (which is counterintuitive to many) that is noted by the UK Drug Policy Commission reported in Let drug dealers roam free, police told

POLICE should spend less time pursuing drug dealers, a leading think tank claimed today. […]
The report showed drug dealers were able to avoid having their operations shut down by the police – and even when arrests were made and drugs seized – were “quick to adapt.” […]
It also added successful police operations could in turn have negative consequences, if, for example, they created a turf war between rival gangs.
The report said: ‹Levels of enforcement activity appear to bear no direct relationship to levels of drug use or availability.
‹Traditionally, drug enforcement efforts have focused on arrests and seizures, with the aim of reducing supply, but drug markets are large, resilient, and quick to adapt.Š

Now the UKDPC should have gone on to recommend legalization as the solution, yet their half solution is still logical, given the fact that arrests of dealers cause additional problems — leave the dealers alone and expend your efforts in other areas.
Naturally, the responses were blisteringly fast, outraged, and.. incomprehensible.

Home Office minister Alan Campbell today insisted the report does not signify an end to the war on drugs.
He claimed: ‹Tough enforcement is a fundamental part of our drug strategy, and the police continue to make real progress in tackling the supply of illegal drugs and in reducing the harm they cause.

Talk about not even beginning to addressing the conclusions of the report. But people like Alan Campbell can’t wrap their minds around the truth — it’s too far from their world view.
This head-exploding disconnect was also noticeable in the comments…

Where on earth do we get these idiots from. The more you let go fre the more there will be on the street, then the crime rate will go even higher because adicts will want money for their “fix”

Well, no. It’s simple economics. If you don’t arrest the dealers, there won’t be more dealers because the market will become saturated and any new dealers entering the market will reduce profits too far. So the crime rate actually won’t go higher because the number of addicts won’t actually change.
On the other hand, every time you arrest a drug dealer, you essentially increase the number of drug dealers in the world. There’s the new one that stepped up to take the place of the one you arrested, and there’s the original one that we’re now paying huge sums of money to prosecute and house.
Another commenter:

The solution to the problem of drug dealers is a mandatory life sentence for the second conviction. […]
If they are caught selling drugs let’s get medieval on them. It would make them think twice before they act.

Again, no. You just end up with full prisons and more drug dealers.

Another gem of pure insanity. If you believe you cannot fix a problem, then just give up. Perhaps Labour is keen to get a generation of unemployed into dealing drugs legally. They could then qualify for a small business loan and ultimately the profits from drugs could be taxed. What an asylum Britain has now become!

Actually, the best idea in the bunch, dressed up as insanity. Legalize and tax the drugs, provide jobs and put the criminals out of business.

Let the criminals take over the country we can save a lot of money and anyway a quick snort never did anyone any harm. What a pathetic bunch of free loaders. I will tell you what we should do. Sack these think tanks get rid of all these quangos Get rid of all the so called spy cameras and the millions saved will allow us to employ more police.Back in the 1920s America was over run with criminals they fought back and won.So must we.

Actually, what America did to get rid of the criminals was to end prohibition. Good idea.