DEA Press Release Celebrates Killing of Suspect

If this press release wasn't on the DEA's website, I'd think it was a hoax. Incredibly, it celebrates the killing of a suspect.

Justice is done when a suspect is brought before a court and tried, not when he's murdered before his guilt has been determined. Yet, DEA Director Michelle M. Leonhart writes:

“President Calderon of Mexico scored a major victory against the Arturo Beltran-Leyva drug cartel. Last August when DEA, along with our U.S. law enforcement partners, announced the indictment of Mexican drug kingpin Arturo Beltran-Leyva, we were confident that our Mexican counterparts would work with us to pursue him and hold him accountable for his horrific crimes. And last night they did.”

Some background: Alleged Mexican cartel leader Arturo Beltran-Leyva was shot and killed by the Mexican military last Wednesday. He was under indictment in the U.S. (available here), As Leonhart writes:

...[W]hen the Mexican Navy closed in on Beltran-Leyva’s apartment complex, a sustained firefight ensued and Arturo Beltran-Leyva was killed, along with several of his bodyguards.”

As for the future, it looks like we can expect more of the same: Forget the trial, just shoot the perp on sight. Leonhart continues: [More...]

[T]his operation is a model of our commitment to continue working in close cooperation with our Mexican partners to disrupt and dismantle all of the Mexican cartels.”

Success would be if Beltran-Leyva was arrested, extradited, provided a lawyer and had his guilt or innocence determined by a jury. If convicted, a judge should be the one to determine his sentence. Vigilante justice is no justice at all. Death by firing squad before trial, which is essentially what happened to Beltran-Leyva, is neither a win nor a success. It's morally bankrupt.

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    did I miss it? (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by diogenes on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 07:08:13 PM EST
    So this guy came out with his bodyguards and they put up their hands and dropped their weapons when the military identified themselves and said, "You're under arrest"?  Or did his bodyguards and he try to flee/fight back?  Not clear from the press release.

    Based on what I read here (none / 0) (#5)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 08:09:08 PM EST
    I'd be hard pressed to choose a side on the initial episode.

    Based on what happened after the navy officer's funeral, it's no longer difficult to choose a side.


    There are further facts to this story: (5.00 / 0) (#4)
    by steviez314 on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 07:41:00 PM EST
    A Mexican Navy officer was killed  during that operation.   He was hailed as a hero.

    Today, 3 members of that sailor's family were massacred in their home, by the drug cartel.

    People would probably also (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Socraticsilence on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:14:25 PM EST
    celebrate Bin Laden being killed despite him being innocent until proven guilty as well. Heck, I hate to violate Godwin's but Hitler was never convicted of anything by the Nuremburg Tribunal.

    Well, Hitler did kill himself (none / 0) (#14)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:49:34 PM EST
    you know.

    Yes, some probably would (none / 0) (#24)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 09:08:45 AM EST
    Those would be the same ones who show up for all these types of events with a word of hurray.

    Seems to me this is in all but name (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 10:50:40 PM EST
    a civil war going on down there.

    More proof of politicization of public office (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by SeeEmDee on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 08:00:20 AM EST
    WRT to the issue of illegal drugs, it was clear with the statements of the then-head of the DEA Karen Tandy that Tommy Chong was targeted because of what he represented to the right-wing authoritarians that had infested the Justice Department during Bush Too's  (not a typo) reign.

    This is just Tandy's shadow making the same kind of noises again. And it's also indicative of what happens to a society when the apparatus of justice falls into the hands of fanatics, who are allowed to engage that fanaticism legally, supposedly for a good reason ("It's all to saaaaaave the chil-drennnnnnnnn!").

    The DrugWarriors have always p*ssed-and-moaned about not being able to 'fight the Drugwar like a real war!"

    Well, now, they've gotten what they wanted, and usual, there's vastly more 'collateral damage' than they thought would happen. But I guess so long as it's 'Messicans' doing the dying, it doesn't matter.

    Meanwhile, the DrugWarriors get to continue making bellicose rhetoric aimed at stoking the bonfire even higher, leading to more casualties, while drawing paychecks and planning for their retirements. Nice work, if you can stomach it...

    Of course, you are correct (none / 0) (#28)
    by JamesTX on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 10:44:49 PM EST
    about all this. This problem can't really be addressed in any intelligent manner at all until our society is ready to accept the law of parsimony and recognize that we are directly creating this disaster with contraband laws. I am not sure what to do about that.

    Prohibition has been in place for several generations. Once you get a bad idea past the first generation and into the unconscious assumptions of the next generation, absurdity is sort of magically transformed into logic. Nonsense becomes common sense. Because the younger generation has always lived with the nonsense, they can't imagine things being any other way. Common sense sounds like nonsense to them. The effect hardens with each new generation. The obvious and most parsimonious explanation, as well as the simple objective solution, is psychologically transformed into a frightening absurdity and avoided. This "bumps" the adaptive solution of the problem out of psychological reach, creating a vicious cycle where the problem is cultivated and encouraged to grow and mutate. This is the stuff psychotic disorders are made of. Once the cycle gains inertia, it almost inevitably plays out to the bitter end -- eventual denial of the reality of death and a willingness to die to protect the primary delusion and the perpetually expanding web of higher order delusions which have been developed to protect the primary delusion.

    I suspect the inertia of the prohibition sickness is energetic enough to render the drug war problem immutable for all practical purposes. In fact, I am quite sure it is. I think it will destroy our civilization. Since we refuse to accept the reality, we are doomed to eventually turn this simple denial mechanism into a world war, or whatever the equivalent of world war is in the context of the new technology. It will inevitably destroy the ethical infrastructure of our society, and the order will quickly decay after that.

    The administration is currently remodeling the aging War in Terror into a new War on "Narco" Terror, as predicted by Jeralyn and as we are seeing in the news. Fixing up used wars is a sign of denial. It rarely works out well.

    The madness simply keeps getting transformed, amplified and passed on. All constructive activity and creativity is focused on finding new and more sophisticated ways to deny reality and basically cut off our noses to spite our face. The only "acceptable" solutions (interdiction, reduction of demand, disruption of supply, quarantine of users, etc.) require that we deny, at any cost, the simple objective facts which contain the only real solution (decriminalization). It is the classic kind of vicious circle psychiatrists use to explain the workings of the psychotic mind.

    So, as a country and as a society, we have a thought disorder. It continues to grow and feed off of itself, demanding that we deny reality at every juncture and that we construct new delusions to patch up what remains of the damaged infrastructure.

    Drug therapy has proven to be a very effective solution when this type of information processing disorder gets a grip on an individual. I am not sure enough is understood about the mechanisms of the psychological effects of those drugs to construct a model of what could be done for a society suffering from an information processing disorder of this type.

    It looks like it is simply going to get more violent. Unless we change our thinking, that seems to be the only possible trajectory. But refusing to change our thinking is what got us here and what keeps the pressure building!


    Police and Thieves J... (none / 0) (#1)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 06:40:33 PM EST
    Police and Thieves.

    It is morally bankrupt, but I can't even call it vigilante justice...this is our system of justice, from enforcement to prosecution to "corrections".  Like the DEA says, a wonderfully successful operation.  At least vigilantes have no color of authority.

    This is "a model"? (none / 0) (#2)
    by Zorba on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 06:55:19 PM EST
    Not of any kind of "commitment," but of vigilante justice.  He may have been killed by the Mexicans, but the fact that this is celebrated by our DEA leads me to think that our DEA needs to be reined in.

    That's the same sentiment and (none / 0) (#6)
    by Inspector Gadget on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 08:22:12 PM EST
    attitude that has gone on here in the Puget Sound area with the shooting of the police officers. The "persons of interest" are shot on sight and the police hail that justice was done.

    I fear it is a growing attitude.

    Mexico and Washingon state are different (none / 0) (#16)
    by Manuel on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:22:18 PM EST
    What is going on in Mexico is close to a civil war.  The police shootings in Washington state are a result of decades of lack of attention to mental illness.

    That's pretty obvious (none / 0) (#23)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 09:04:58 AM EST
    The post isn't about the Mexico cartel. Read it again.

    Horrifying. Any public official making statements (none / 0) (#7)
    by ruffian on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 08:28:12 PM EST
    like that should be fired. Period.

    Shooting in self defense is not murder (none / 0) (#8)
    by Michael Masinter on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 09:09:59 PM EST
    I'm a civil libertarian to the core, and have spent much of my life working with the ACLU, but there is no civil liberty to shoot at law enforcement officers authorized to arrest you.  Had the incident occurred in the U.S. and been governed by the fourth amendment, Tennessee v. Garner clearly would permitted the use of deadly force to apprehend a violently resisting suspect wanted for multiple felonies.

    Even if you question the account of the shooting, what became of the presumption of innocence?  You would not generally call a killing murder without a trial and conviction, so why the different practice here?  

    Even if I presume (none / 0) (#9)
    by ruffian on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 09:18:06 PM EST
    for the sake of argument that the use of deadly force was justified, the problem is in the statement by the DEA official that this is what we mean by bringing someone to justice.  

    Wrong phrase (none / 0) (#10)
    by Michael Masinter on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 09:24:11 PM EST
    The press release spoke of holding him accountable, not bringing him to justice.

    True, it did (none / 0) (#11)
    by ruffian on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 09:34:49 PM EST
    But he was speaking in the past tense, about what they expected at the time of the indictment. Last August, I would have though that  "hold him accountable" mean 'bring him to justice'?  But it is true, I'm sure the preferred result was achieved.

    Last August when DEA, along with our U.S. law enforcement partners, announced the indictment of Mexican drug kingpin Arturo Beltran-Leyva, we were confident that our Mexican counterparts would work with us to pursue him and hold him accountable for his horrific crimes. And last night they did."

    That's why it's inexcusable (none / 0) (#17)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Dec 22, 2009 at 11:30:57 PM EST
    She's saying he was held accountable by his death. That's an inexcusable statement by a law enforcement official. The morning after he was killed ,she writes

    we were confident that our Mexican counterparts would work with us to pursue him and hold him accountable for his horrific crimes. And last night they did."

    You are way off base here. We don't hold people accountable for their alleged crimes by killing them -- we hold them accountable by bringing them to justice before a court of law.

    Even if his killing was justified because of the circumstance of the shoot-out, it's outrageous to say killing him has resulted in him being held accountable for his crimes.


    accountable by arrest (none / 0) (#27)
    by diogenes on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 06:07:20 PM EST
    In fact, we hold alleged criminals accountable by arresting them, even if they are well-connected mob bosses who might react to the arrest by murdering the police or military.  He was held accountable by there being an attempt to arrest him; don't you think that the Mexican government knew where he was for years?  It's not like he was Bin Laden in hiding.

    Reading the comments... (none / 0) (#22)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 08:36:22 AM EST
    I think of the old "this is your brain on drugs" anti-drug commercial, only the punchline is "this is your brain on prohibition" and your brains are splattered on the pavement...police, gangsters, and innocent bystander alike.

    The military-industrial complex includes the prohibition-industrial complex...as long as both sides of the drug war are making the big bucks its never gonna stop...and people needlessly suffer.

    And the U.S investor class (none / 0) (#25)
    by jondee on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 09:10:05 AM EST
    squeezes the indentured servants of Mexico and their communities like their very own magic, infomercial sponge (operators are standing by!)

    Hey, what the cartels are doing is just THEIR version of (very) Free Trade.


    Another set-up for the political (none / 0) (#26)
    by jondee on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 09:48:19 AM EST
    law enforcement gravy train here will be when, in the next ten years, a Chavez (bad, bad!) or a Pinochet (good, good!) comes to the fore to bring to bring order to the place.

    In the meantime, whats good for the bleeding-it-dry folks is good for the U.S.A.