U.S. Attorney in NY Announces Narco-Terror Unit

Say hello to the new incancation of the narco-terror war, which I've been predicting for many years, ever since the aborted attempt to introduce the Victory Act.

The United States attorney in Manhattan is merging the two units in his office that prosecute terrorism and international narcotics cases, saying that he wants to focus more on extremist Islamic groups whose members he believes are increasingly turning to the drug trade to finance their activities.

The new unit, he said, would be better able to bring drug charges to bear against some terrorists, as well as use a new law that gives federal drug agents the authority to pursue narcotics and terrorism crimes committed anywhere in the world if they can establish a link between a drug offense and a terrorist act or group.

This seems like a step down the slippery slope. [More...]

Concerns: First the sharing of intelligence information obtained by FISA warrants, without a probable cause showing, being used by law enforcement agents to make criminal cases. Second: The likelihood that foreign traffickers with no interest in terrorism or plans to harm the U.S., will be charged with narco-terrorism based on insignificant ties to a group the U.S. deems a terror organization. Third: The next step down the slippery slope will be the introduction of new and harsher drug laws, under the pretense they will get terrorists, when recent history has shown, they do not.

As the Times reports:

The creation of the new unit — coupled with the new law that gives the D.E.A. more authority to investigate such cases — opens the door for greater involvement in terrorism cases by the anti-drug agency.

And it will give the DEA, a law enforcement agency, access to intelligence information obtained through FISA's bypassing the 4th Amendment.

This is going to multiply the dangers of the Patriot Act, which too often has been used in routine drug cases. And bring a lot of people to the U.S. for trial, at great expense, when no acts of any kind were committed here.

The transportation route through West and North Africa — where swaths of desert are controlled by extremist groups tied to Al Qaeda and corruption and instability are widespread — has brought traffickers into closer proximity with various terror groups, several officials said.

Indeed, the officials, as well as Mr. Bharara, pointed to a case last month in which the D.E.A. arrested three African men in a sting based on drug and terrorism charges brought by the prosecutor’s office. The men, who prosecutors say are tied to Al Qaeda, were accused of conspiring to move cocaine across the region with the assistance of Al Qaeda and another group, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. They were taken into custody in Ghana, expelled and flown to New York to face the charges.

Or as I put it at the time, How Much Did the DEA Spend on Its Africa Vacation?

How much will it cost to incarcerate these men if they get 20 year sentences? How much did the DEA spend on this venture? Is this what we're going to get with the $30 million Congress gave the DEA to fight narco-terrorism?

Why do we have to make everything that goes on in the world our business under the guise of the Global War on Terror, a term Obama says no longer applies. Clearly it does.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Trust Superfreakonomics (none / 0) (#1)
    by diogenes on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 10:11:31 PM EST
    If you get rid of a supplier, the drug gets more expensive and someone else will step up to sell it instead.  The only way to control drugs is to go after the users, offering them either years in prison or years on probation in treatment via a drug court model.  
    You could always legalize drugs entirely, but then there is lower price/increased supply/increased use (isn't that the point of making tobacco cigarettes taxes go up and not letting kids buy them legally?) and no more leverage to push treatment.

    If you are suggesting (5.00 / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 10:15:29 PM EST
    going after drug users, you have some serious miscomprehensions of the issues.

    And a serious disconnect... (5.00 / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 08:48:16 AM EST
    with reality.  Good lord.

    offer treatment (2.00 / 0) (#5)
    by diogenes on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:05:20 AM EST
    Go after the user but offer a choice of treatment or prison once you have caught them.  No users need to go to prison, and demand for the drug dries up because casual users would think that years of being in Drug Court would be a big drag.
    Think about it...isn't that what police do when they try to control prostitution by going after the johns rather than just putting prostitutes in jail.
    Knowing that there are sting operations would be a serious deterrent for me because the cost of getting caught is high.  

    I've thought about it... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 10:12:40 AM EST
    the better, more liberty friendly, course of action is to end the prohibition of all victimless crimes such as drug use, prostitution, gambling.

    If thousands of years of human history have taught us anything it is that people will always want to use intoxicants...the more we try to stop them the more our quality of life decreases.

    Years in drug court would be a drag, no doubt...but sacrificing your inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is an even bigger drag.


    The US Attorney in D.C. (none / 0) (#3)
    by Peter G on Sun Jan 17, 2010 at 11:43:59 PM EST
    ... has been prosecuting Colombian alleged FARC members on drug charges recently.  At least two cases that I've heard about from some of the defense counsel.  By invoking "terrorism"-case-style limits on discovery and witness questioning, etc., the government (backed up by the judges) managed to make the trials even less fair than normal federal drug trials.

    Damn (none / 0) (#7)
    by Yando on Mon Jan 18, 2010 at 06:38:49 PM EST

    I'm bummed out about this  development.
    A narco terror squad is  a major
    problem for me and my cohoerts. I'll be  honest,
    one of  my  biggest kicks on a Saturday
    night is indulging in narco-terro.