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A drug war Valentine’s Day story

This American Life

Advance the audio to 23:35 for the segment: 21 Chump Street

Last year at three high schools in Palm Beach County, Florida, several young police officers just out of training were sent undercover to pose as students, tasked with making drug arrests. They went to classes, slept through classes, copied other students homework, texted during class, had Facebook accounts, etc. just like all the other students. Only the police knew who they were, not the teachers, or parents, or obviously, the real students.

A kid named Justin – an 18-year-old honor student – was in the last semester of his senior year. And Justin could hardly believe his luck when a very pretty new girl (everyone had noticed her) showed up in not just one, but two of his classes. …

He flirts with her in classes, tells her all his secrets, and even asks her to prom. After some time, this pretty girl asks him if he can get her some pot….

Next thing Justin knows he’s a felon.

[Thanks, Scott]

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24 comments to A drug war Valentine’s Day story

  • ezrydn

    She busted him and HE’S still hooked on her? Kid’s got bigger problems than drugs!

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Yep. He’s got 18-year-old’s hormones. Much more dangerous drug than pot. Don’t you remember being 18?

      Well-liked Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

      • tensity1

        Good god, hormones jack up all kinds of stuff, in all kinds of ways.

        That’s where that saying comes from: Young, dumb, and full of . . . hormones.

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • darkcycle

    Okay. That is messed up. Major messed up.

    Well-liked Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  • Kenneth Williams

    Narcs are scum, plain and simple.

    Well-liked Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

    • Windy

      You’re absolutely correct. I know a local (now retired) cop (who many long years ago was a friend of hubby’s), who, when still just a rookie, busted his (supposed) best friend after asking the dude (whom he already knew smoked pot, he’d been his best friend, remember) to get him a fairly large amount of pot. He did this to his best friend to make himself look good to the PD hierarchy and advance in his job. It was that unethical act (once it became common knowledge) that caused hubby to stop calling him friend (along with a whole lot of others also ending their friendships with him, as well).

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  • Emma

    I read about a similar terrible, terrible case a few years ago (undercover police officer became good friends with a girl and then used her to arrest all her friends, leaving the innocent girl looking like a narc), and I am horrified to now read that this is actually fairly common. There was even a tv-show in the 80′s about undercover drug cops in high schools, “21 Jump Street”, which according to wikipedia will be released as a film in March 2012.

    Here is a story about this practice in the Seattle Times: “But placing undercover officers in high school has drawn criticism. In Los Angeles, where police have been doing such operations since the mid-1970s, the Los Angeles Unified School District found that many of the students arrested were in special education, and critics said the amount of drugs seized was usually small.”

    sick, sick, sick

    Here is more on the Palm Beach case. The office who seduced Justin jokes: “I got some dress code violations, I wore too short of a skirt.”

    Well-liked Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  • thelbert

    the whole idea of undercover work is to pretend to be your friend and then betray, you whether adult or juvenile, game is to trick the evil-doers into committing a crime then collect thirty pieces of silver, or a nice fat pension. one of the commenters at “ethics alerts” said he was glad for opportunity to prevent the manufacture of meth. well good for him, but i don’t think he’s getting the job done. what’s the hold up. they are making it in the united states of mexico. they are sneaking it under your fence, officer. i refuse to give my e-mail to jack marshall because i don’t trust that thick-headed bastard.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  • Dante

    I know.

    The drug warriors need to ban teenage hormones. Heck, just start shooting any young boy sportin’ wood.

    Yeah, that’ll bring “victory”.

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  • Nunavut Tripper

    Just read an article in the local newspaper about our police drug squad doing unannounced random searches of lockers at various high schools. They did 109 searches and seized a grand total of 145 grams of maryjane. They congratulated themselves saying they found more last year so their eradication efforts are paying off as obviously less kids are doing drugs. They always post it as grams as 145 grams sounds better than 5 ounces. Wonder what the cost per ounce was ? Don’t matter as many lives were saved from the ravages of the killer weed.
    In a roundabout way it was useful education as the students learn young not to trust the police and bureaucrats.

    Well-liked Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  • claygooding

    It is very telling of a person’s character and personal self-worth when they can immerse themselves in a role that is structured on a foundation of a lie.

    It is just as confusing to me as how prohibitionists try to claim the high moral ground when they are standing in the sewer.

    Well-liked Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  • Servetus

    Once upon a time, in a land not too far away, there were laws against entrapment, in which a person is coaxed by authorities into committing a crime they would not otherwise commit.

    Then along came drug prohibition, which is barely enforceable minus the use of informants and entrapment, and suddenly the entrapment defense is weakened or virtually eliminated as a legal protection by the authoritarians who run drug enforcement, as well as their pals in the Justice Dept.

    Carmaker John DeLorean used entrapment as a successful defense at his cocaine trial in 1984. A high school kid is unlikely to have the same kinds of legal resources to mount a similar defense, or to be successful if he did.

    Well-liked Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    • Chris

      Every single time I hear Tim Allen speak I’m reminded of the fact that he did 2 years in federal prison for cocaine trafficking. Yet he’s the person who is on the “pure michigan” ads?

      Well-liked Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    • as I walked/shuffled, shackled hand and foot, down the hallway of the federal court building in L.A. in 1984 we passed John DeLorean… me in Levis and shackles, John in a shark skin suit.

      I wouldn’t trade it for the world either. I walked down that hallway for the same reasons I’m here at Pete’s. What preceded that walk was 2 years of intense education, politics and meetings and trips to Berserkley… got to meet and work w/ Starhawk, spent time inside Lompoc FCI w/ Wavy Gravy (Nobody for President!), got to see the actual insides of Terminal Island FCI (talk about austerity!) and found out that if you go to the big house, best be for standing up against the gummint, because those guys loved that shit. “Oh! You’re some of ‘those’ guys, right on.” And then they laughed when we told ‘em how long we were in for and that we had been charged w/ federal misdemeanors.

      Also found out it’s a long walk to anywhere from that prison.

      And this crap! What the hell! Seduction of a HSer by a mature woman. Don’t they… uh… fire teachers for that? Entrapment is too polite a term.

      By gum, that boy was JackMarshallized!

      Well-liked Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  • Guy#1

    I still can’t get over the felony charge, doesn’t that mean he can’t vote in Florida as well? Over 25 dollars of weed?

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  • Cold Blooded

    That’s some great use of police resources right there.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  • lombar

    The so called ‘crime’ would not have occurred without the undercover cop being there. The police caused the crime to occur, not police investigating a crime that is occuring. They are the cause of it. I don’t understand how that can even be legal. Reprehensible.

    Well-liked Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  • Peter

    I think there may be a case of fraud here. The tax-payers of the LA school district and the State of California had to fund these “students” while they conducted the business of their employers, the police department. Did the department refund the school district?
    Sorry, that should read Florida…

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  • Chris

    From the cop’s perspective the worst case scenario is that they derail or even ruin a student’s life for a one-off drug buy. Best case scenario, he gives up the name of a drug trafficking kingpin and get tons of money through asset forfeiture. Why not step on this kid’s dreams? There’s more where that came from.

    Well-liked Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  • C.E.

    I would have fallen for this.

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  • TINMA

    Oh yes! Our drug laws are there to PROTECT the children! How sick is this. Make laws that RUIN our kids lives. Actively go out and entrap some stupid kid and ruin his life. What a load of crap!

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  • Benjamin

    In a few years, this whole experience and story will be a positive for him, not a negative. The stigma over marijuana is totally gone in many industries and social groups, and there will be broad sympathy for people punished for doing something in 2011 that is legal in 2013.

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  • thelbert huffman

    instead of a thousand-year reich, we have the thousand-year blood purity war. and the forces of decency are winning the war one high school dirt bag at a time. our valiant drug use preventers are going in harm’s way to battle the school boy’s cartel. like all cartels they have an iron grip on their classmates’ marijuana supply. from there they went on to bookmaking, shylocking and prostitution. there is no measure too severe to enforce the code of silence. boys of thirteen initiates into the cartel must make their bones by kicking a yapper. into this world of danger steps lola arpaio, narc babe. she slowly works her way up the mastermind of the scholastic mafia. with her charms she seduces him by repeatedly dropping a pencil by his desk and then retrieving it with a good shot of her swimsuit issue bosom. soon she has him snared. he will do anything to cut a slice of that pie. after the bust she reports to her supervisor for the next case. chief whigham says nice work, but that’s one cartel down , and forty million to go. hope we can catch them all, before they die of old age. lola smiles as she thinks of adventures to come, and an endless sucession of paychecks.

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    • Duncan20903

      Now that’s funny. I have to remember to stop at Starbucks today so I can give you another thumbs up.

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