This article in today’s Miami Herald about corruption in Puerto Rico really points out the huge problem with prohibition (even though the specific link is essentially missed by reporter Frances Robles).
As Puerto Rico battles one of the highest crime rates in the United States and burgeoning drug trafficking blamed for about 700 murders a year, authorities are confronting another harsh reality: corruption.
About 100 police officers are currently under investigation, and 75 others have been convicted in federal court in the past five years, law enforcement officials said. The Puerto Rican attorney general’s office has 17 open cases against members of the police department.
As a hub for cocaine and heroin arriving from Colombia on the way to mainland U.S. streets, Puerto Rico is so steeped in drug corruption that even a top prosecutor was accused of accepting a Mercedes Benz from a known dealer. The U.S. government estimates that 20 percent of the cocaine from Colombia passes through the Caribbean.
”We have had officers using police cars to escort drug dealers, and we have arrested officers selling weapons to undercover agents,” Toledo said.
Just check out all the named operations conducted… against the police…
In 2001, 32 officers were arrested in the biggest police corruption case in the island’s history, dubbed ”Operation Lost Honor.” Officers were accused of using their patrol cars to protect cocaine shipments.
In 2004, 16 officers, including two women, were charged with conspiring to sell drugs in ”Operation Dark Justice.” In yet another police corruption case, ”Blue Shame,” prosecutors publicly complained that they suspected judges involved in the case were corrupt.
This is not new. It should not be surprising. All we have to do is read history.
These statements at hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate in 1926 are instructive:
The corrupt prohibition agent or policeman is just as much a part of the bootleg industry as the bootlegger himself. Last year it took two Pullman cars to transfer to Atlanta the convicted policemen and prohibition agents corralled in a single round-up in Ohio. In May, 1925, a special grand jury in Morris County, N. J., was reported in the press as returning at one time 28 indictments against county officers and others for violations of the Volstead Act. About the same time, the Rev. Marna S. Poulson, superintendent of the New Jersey Anti -Saloon League, was reported in the New York Times as saying, in an address at a prohibition rally at Atlantic City, “I don’t know of anyone who can make a dollar go further than policemen and dry agents. By frugality, after a year in the service, they acquire automobiles and diamonds.”— Senator William Cabel Bruce
“Federal judges have told me, and their names I can supply if required, that the whole atmosphere of the Federal Building was one of pollution, that the air of corruption had even descended into the civil parts of the court, and reports were made to the senior United States judge of attempts to bribe jurymen even in the toilets of the building.”— U.S. Attorney Emory R. Buckner
One of the most imposing promises made by the friends of prohibition before the eighteenth amendment was that by abolishing drink crime would be decreased to a minimum. That promise has not been fulfilled. Crime has increased in such amazing proportion that it has become the dominant consideration of most of the State and municipal governments of the Nation. A national crime commission of distinguished men from every section of the country, has been formed, and a bill is now pending in the New York Legislature which has to do with the appointment of a joint committee, to be joined by citizens to determine the came and possible remedies to reduce the tremendous wave of crime that is sweeping not only the country but New York as well.
I need not quote statistics to this committee, I am sure, to demonstrate that this is the most lawless country on the face of the earth. I go a step further. I assert that prohibition is one of the largest contributing factors to that disgraceful condition, by reason of the conceded, failure or inability of Federal and State authorities to enforce the law; it has created a disrespect for law which, starting with prohibition, has gone all along the line.— Judge Alfred J. Talley
This is so clearly an inescapable by-product of prohibition, but the causal link is ignored by so much of our society.
I often hear people dismiss my suggestions that eliminating prohibition’s black market profits will reduce crime with the bizarre rejoinder that all those criminals will still find something to do. They often have the same view of police corruption — if those dirty cops weren’t on the take from drug dealers, they’d be doing it some other way (that part always referring to some non-specific other profitable corrupt enterprise).
This manicheistic world-view — that there are only two types of people and they’re unalterably divided into criminals and non-criminals — may be comforting to some, but it bears little resemblance to reality.
Sure, there are certain cops who would be corrupt no matter what. But there’s a lot more who are merely weak, and who are seduced into it through circumstances and opportunity.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition’s Peter Christ puts it into perspective…
Now you came into this thing a bright eyed, shiny young recruit… You’re a police officer four or five years — you see the wasted energy you spend on this drug war. And now you’re standing in a motel room where a drug arrest has just been made. Laying on the bed is a hundred and some thousand dollars which hasn’t been counted yet in cash… In your back pocket is a thirty-eight hundred dollar bill from the plumber that you didn’t know how you were going to pay… And, it doesn’t make any difference anyway. And you take your first taste. And then you’re gone.
Corruption is not excused because it comes from prohibition. But that doesn’t change the reality that the level of corruption we see is a direct result of prohibition. And knowing that, but not changing our course, makes us responsible as well.