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The DEA’s convoluted and expensive exercises in futility

The DEA is trumpeting its latest triumphs in its “Dateline DEA: Biweekly E-mail Informant,” which I get regularly from them. The big item in this issue has to do with some major successful international operations.

Let’s take a look at one of them.

The DEA arrested Taza Gul Alizai in the Republic of the Maldives and is extraditing him to stand trial in the U.S. So, how did this all come about?

Well, Gul may very well be a very bad man. I don’t know. The DEA (through the use of “confidential sources”) actually approached Gul in Afghanistan and wanted to buy some heroin and some guns. I’m sure you could find a lot of people there who would be happy to do that for you.

Here’s the trick. During the course of the transaction, the DEA told Gul that the heroin was eventually going to be smuggled into the U.S. and that the guns were going to be given to the Taliban. See where this is leading?

So now, the DEA gets to charge him for:

  • distributing one kilogram or more of heroin, knowing or intending that the heroin would be imported into the United States
  • conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, knowing or intending that the heroin would be imported into the United States
  • engaging in narco‑terrorism
  • conspiracy to engage in narco‑terrorism

Cute, huh?

No, no guns were shipped to the Taliban and no heroin was smuggled into the U.S. The only ones interested in doing those things were the DEA agents in order to arrest a foreigner in another country for doing something solely because the DEA asked him to and bring him to the U.S. so we could spend money putting him on trial and keeping him in prison for decades.

How much impact do you suppose that this operation had on the availability of drugs, guns, or people to sell them, in Afghanistan?

The DEA gets credit for a major bust. We get the bill.

There were three other men arrested under similar situations around the same time. For the four men that we’re paying to put in prison, here’s some of what the operation involved:

The charges, arrests, and transfers of these four defendants were the result of the close cooperative efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the Special Operations Division of the DEA, and the DEA Country Offices in: Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Copenhagen, New Delhi, Athens, Cyprus, and Kabul.

Mr. Bharara expressed his gratitude to the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative Regional Center for Combating Trans-Border Crime, the Romanian National Police, the Turkish National Police, the Malaysian National Police, the Greek Hellenic Police, the Cyprus National Police, the Estonian authorities, and the Maldives Police Service. He also thanked the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division, the U.S. National Central Bureau of Interpol and Interpol Headquarters in Lyon, France, the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka, and the U.S. Department of State for their assistance.

These two cases are being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin Naftalis, Adam S. Hickey, and Edward Kim are in charge of the prosecutions.

Your tax dollars at work.

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25 comments to The DEA’s convoluted and expensive exercises in futility

  • kant

    While this is disturbing (yet unsurprising for the DEA) I think the most disturbing part about this story is the ever expanding idea of global jurisdiction.

    • I agree.

      The courts have sometimes balked at pure global jurisdiction in trials, so the DEA uses the ruse of supposedly telling the target that some of the drugs or money are eventually going to the U.S. (even though there is no real buyer or real seller) and that has been enough to get them into U.S. courts.

      I have a real problem with that kind of manufactured jurisdiction.

    • This is not my America

      My first thought too Kant. World poilcemen indeed.

  • C.E.

    LEO types love creating crimes, just so they can arrest someone. This is especially prevalent in the use of paid informants. Because the informants get paid money for delivering people, they will approach anyone they think they can entice into supplying drugs, even if the person is not a drug dealer. So the “target”–who is usually a drug user–will go find someone to provide them with drugs to sell to the informant, or act as a go-between. Now they are guilty of drug dealing or conspiracy to deal in drugs.

    Here’s another scenario: undercover cop or informant approaches a small-time drug dealer and buys small quantities of drugs. After developing a relationship, they ask the dealer to help them find a much larger quantity of drugs. The cops could have legitimately (and easily) arrested the dealer at any time after the first sale, but the sentences for small quantities are small, so they entice the dealer into finding them a larger amount of drugs than the dealer is accustomed to selling, just to get a higher sentence.

    Or the deal is for a small amount of cocaine, but the undercover cop or informant insists that the seller “cook” the cocaine into crack (which requires nothing but water, baking soda, a microwave oven, and a little know-how). Now the transaction is for crack cocaine, which carries higher penalties.

    In the end, no one cares about these defendants because, after all, they did agree to participate in drug deals. The problem is that they are offenses that would not have occurred, or else would not have occurred at the same scale, if the government had not gotten involved.

  • Ned

    The justification is the simple “all they had to do was refuse”. Which of course sounds reasonable but ignores the idea that a crime really needs to be a self motivated act to be justly prosecutable. Enticement (entrapment?) smells funny to everybody but LEO and DAs and apparently many Federal Judges too.

    Obviously they are unable to penetrate actual networks of real higher level dealers. Not that they have genuine jurisdiction half way around the world without having to have occupied the place to be able to do this. I guess you could call that a fringe benefit! One of the perks!

    • darkcycle

      “..all they had to do was refuse.”
      Lemme tell you a little story. I belong to a motorcycle club (not a “motorcycle club” in quotations, like the H.A. or Banditos, a real, actual motorcycle club that is about MOTORCYCLES. That don’t matte to the DEA, I’ll get to that). Like all motorcycle clubs, good or bad, we are “biker scum” to the law, and occasionally we get hassled. We had been having a New Years party for a number of years, and it had gotten a little famous. Every year it got bigger and bigger (we stopped doing it for that reason). Last year we did it, a guy showed up, payed his dues and joined at the door. He bought a tee shirt (just like the ones all of the club was wearing). He and his “wife” then went into the party and started mixing. Nobody knew where he came from or who he was, but he started acting like he was a member and knew everybody. He was asking for Pot, coke, speed, and he was asking everyone…his “wife” was talking with all of the women, and also asking alot of questions about their ‘old man’. He was just worthy of note..’till he spotted ME. I had been in a side room and I had just broke out a jar of my finest.
      That schmuck did not leave my side for the rest of the party and he asked me to sell him pot CONSTANTLY. He asked once, twice, ten times, he pleaded and he cajoled. Then he tried to get me to sell him GUNS!
      He had his “wife” come over and try to flirt with me. Pathetic. Like I said, the guy had the distinct aroma of bacon, and I wasn’t about to sell him anything. The more he asked , the harder it got not to just laugh in his face.
      But the guy was so persistent, so damn in my face with these requests, that if I hadn’t had my guard up, I would have likely sold him some just to get rid of him. He would not stop. Same problem with his “wife”, she was asking incriminating questions about members all night of the ‘old ladies’. Finally I brought the problem to the president and our SGT. at Arms, and told them what was going on. I must say, it was quick…I went to the bathroom, and they were gone by the time I got out. No, I don’t know how they handled it. I don’t need to know. Never saw them again, but “The Ranch” our party spot, was hit by the DEA and ATF the next month. They tossed everything and found nothing….
      All of that stuff, ranch, NYE party and most of the people involved are either gone, dead or moved away at this point, so I feel OK talking about it.

      • darkcycle

        …sorry..got distracted from my point.. The guy would not let up. He made it very hard to continue to say no, he used every trick in the book to try to entrap me into something, anything, illegal. The idea that you can “just refuse” nonsense. You refuse, and refuse, and refuse, and refuse….they won’t stop trying.

      • Duncan20903

        .
        .
        Well a real motorcycle guy would have beaten the tar out of him and shown his ‘wife’ what it’s like to be with a man instead of an undercover fairy.

        Oh wait a second, now I see that you delegated the job. Never mind.

      • darkcycle

        Mmmppphhh..no, not delegate…Even though the club threw the party, and I am a member of the club, the Prez is the “host”. I was still a guest there, even though I had a function to perform. MC etiquette, Duncan old man, one defers to one’s president in all things, unless one is out and the sole representitive present. 😉

      • darkcycle

        Interestingly, in instances where policy pertains to club rules, relations with other clubs, or basically anywhere he’s unsure of established protocols, the President must defer to a committee of ex-presidents. That’s how an organization that keeps no written records maintains continuity.
        We’re a preliterate oral tradition, in the best cave man mold. Want evidence? Just check out my spelling.

  • Ben

    Doesn’t the world feel like a safer place now that the DEA has done this? No? Gee, wonder why not.

  • Jake

    Amazing that they don’t see the irony in this:

    “Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit”

    Well, maybe not that amazing.. or surprising.. after 40 years of willfull blindness..

  • thelbert

    budget crisis, what budget crisis? we got all the money we can spend. we got enough prisons to incarcerate every dirt bag in the world. we dominate the world. Ren and Stimpy rule the world

  • Gary Floyd

    http://www.businessinsider.com/feds-16-trillion-dollar-secret-slush-fund-props-up-our-way-of-life-2011-7

    Google it, with a debt of 14.3 trillion and the failure of the drug war here is another example of govrenment at work helping thier friends.

  • Duncan20903

    Those weren’t my tax dollars. All of my dollars suffer from amotivational syndrome and refuse to do any work at all.

  • Servetus

    The DEA cannot manufacture consent, so it manufactures crime.

    Besides deriving little more than personal glory for DEA agents, the results necessarily include longer prison sentences for entrapped victims, for which Americans foot the bill. Short prison sentences would be just as ineffective as long ones, and they’re cheaper.

    There’s no substantial justification for entrapping impoverished foreign nationals and providing them with prison beds in the U.S. It’s an impossible task. The DEA is incapable of arresting every drug merchant in America, so it’s ridiculous to assume they will accomplish anything close to that same goal by going international.

    Overall, the DEA has accomplished little more than to prove to the world that it’s easy to approach a poor and ignorant Afghani to set up a drug deal. Hundreds of entrepreneurs will now take the hint and travel to Afghanistan to make their fortune.

  • tintguy

    C’mon now guys, the sheep need to hear about these actions to make them feel better about financing the DEA offices abroad. What if those imaginary drugs got into the hands of a child? Poor little thing might have had an imaginary overdose after living a short and tragic life chasing that imaginary fix! Just imagine…

  • vickyvampire

    Interesting story darkcycle,on DEA and ATF Motorcycle trying to constantly entrap everyone.
    My Hubby was newbies to riding Motorcycle riding again had not been on one since teenagers,years. We found a group of motorcycles buddy’s to hang out with, first few times it was subtle but they were checking us out a bit,I’m sure to make sure we were not Narcs or anything,a few weeks later relaxed enough to light up and offer some weed, Trust me I live in UTAH everyone is paranoid to MAX.around HERE.

  • iDub

    the sad truth is that no matter how much we rant, nothing will change…

    • chuck

      sadly, yes. does anyone own an island or something where we can all just live/work communally and do what we want with our bodies? i reckon that’s the track i will be taking—outta sight, outta mind! just wanna get outta this place and live in peace! technology is not the answer!

  • chuck

    ya know, some peeps seem to think that the good ol usa will run outta money eventually for such bs–maybe so, but not anytime soon. this will never end for those that are just born. control and power—pure and simple. u will have people on the streets rioting before they even think of such nonsense (in their eyes). and i know what they will be thinking–more assaults. for those that have this notion that we are at the end of prohibition–even remotely near it–u are misinformed at best, and disillusioned at it’s greater best, and at present, worse than bush I and II. in fact, it’s probably worse in terms of arrests than at any point in history. its only an excuse to do what those in power want—control, which of course equates to money…and if u know scarface, eventually women. but it’s not just a movie–reality sets in, and then people start to realize….”hey, my bla is in jail!”. by then, it’s too late. new laws, old laws, nothing changes for the good of society. not in this country. i wish there was something i could do beyond this farce of trying to educate 100 million clueless, brainwashed people.

  • darkcycle

    Well, gee, Chuck, aren’t you just a fucking ray of sunshine?
    One thing I think everyone (every regular here, that is) would agree upon. That is that if we didn’t think our activism would and does produce results, we wouldn’t be wasting our time. Or aybody elses, for that matter.
    The reform movement has produced tangible results. Decrim in many states. Even “lowest priority” in Seattle…that means if a cop is hassleing you for that joint you are smoking on the street, and he has something else to do, a jay walker, or even paperwork, he’s supposed to leave you be and go do it. Marijuana arrests are almost unheard of, here at least, and you’ve got to be doing something else really stupid to even get them to notice.
    So, sunshine?…. go and fart in someone else’s pillow.

    • chuck

      good thing rules aren’t made on what u think—id probably be dead. doubly good that u know what others think…must be like,,,really good at reading people over the comp. crap aside, i am on your side, just not positive about it until i see real results. i know the law in seattle, i dig the spirit of the mayor/city council–kudos to them. i would argue however, that activists didn’t get this done—it was done cause of……yep, money. ok, u can say but how did it get that far? well, again…u say activist. perhaps a part, but couldn’t u easily say that.. cause it was already part of the culture in the northwest, it was just a matter of time? its not so cut and dry as u state….but keep trying…i take a different approach to it altogether. i love your style…i really do. mine is just different.

  • palemalemarcher

    I can’t help think that the aforementioned ondcp is the gestapo but instead of lightning strokes they have dollar signs!