Another Drug Task Force Run Amuck
From today’s Sequin Gazette-Enterprise in Texas, “Task force comes under fire”
The 24th and 25th Judicial District Narcotics Task Force was described as a maverick law enforcement operation by state officials who for more than a year were thwarted repeatedly in their attempts to reign in the Seguin-based drug interdiction force, according to the Department of Public Safety….Inspections of the narcotics task force (NTF) drug vault in Seguin conducted in early 2002 by task force and DPS officials, and an earlier audit ordered by City Manager Jack Hamlett all indicated that evidence in the custody of the NTF was missing, according to DPS records…In addition to discovering inaccurate logbooks and missing evidence, DPS officials inquired about a Seguin narcotics task force agent who had been assigned to the Drug Enforcement Administration in San Antonio. The Seguin task force had “little contact or supervisory control” over its agent, who was said to have participated in the seizure of 1,200 pounds of marijuana in Laredo several weeks before, “but had only informed Commander Majors of the seizure within the last few days,” Walker said…A March 2002 review of Seguin confidential informant files indicated the files were not in compliance with established policy, reports were missing from some of the files, and that, “there were no letters from prosecutors authorizing the utilization of current defendants,” Walker said…DPS officials discovered during further inquiries in the spring of 2002 that the Seguin NTF had been asked to stay out of Goliad and DeWitt counties by law enforcement officials there because of the task force’s reputation for “unprofessional police activities,” according to DPS documents…
These drug task forces have been developed all over the country, and are a major source of corruption and violence in the drug war. Often it is task forces like these that circumvent state laws regarding asset forfeiture by working with the feds to add seized assets to their budgets. They are also often responsible for many of the tragedies of the drug war (see Drug War Victims).