The War on Drugs is nothing if not a classic example of the rule of unintended consequences. In an overfunded, overly punitive attempt to alter human behavior through prohibition of said behavior we have wrought havoc on the lives and privacy of our citizens. Those directly affected are, for the most part, harmless to anyone but themselves. The harmful ones are created by the very policy seeking to remove that which is deemed harmful.
Witness, then, yet another unintended consequence of this war’s futile efforts at controlling anything related to intended goals – laundering of drug money through our country, the one which started this whole messy war.
In a recent AP article (Huge Drug Euro Laundering Scheme Found – Feb. 15, 2008) the wire service reported on daily shipments of cold, hard cash (Euros) arriving by a regularly scheduled airline flight to Miami from Bogota, Colombia.
Remember, now – Colombia is not part of the European Union, home of the Euro. But an estimated $1.4 billion worth annually has come to Miami on these daily flights. Federal authorities say it is part of a huge money laundering scheme to get “clean” US dollars back to Colombia by exchanging Euros obtained from the sales of Colombian cocaine in Europe.
Purportedly, it goes like this: Colombian cocaine goes to Europe, sells for Euros, the money returns to Colombia and is shipped by routine commercial air to the US to be exchanged for dollars, which are then sent back to Colombia through England.
How do they know? Well, they say, back in 2004 they became suspicious of all this money from Bogota – so they had drug dogs sniff some of it. Voila! The dogs say it smelled like drugs. Now, four years of investigation and an $11 million dollar seizure last summer (seemingly illegal by our laws – no warrant or other justification other than suspicion for the drug dog sniffing) our Justice Department seeks to keep the money!
Whoa! Does this sound the least bit familiar? Mere suspicion (ok, I’ll allow that in this case there is some reason for the suspicion) leads to illegal snooping, which leads to seizure of assets or property and so on.
The Justice Department says they do not suspect wrongdoing on the part of the airline, nor on the part of the legitimate money exchange business doing the shipping.
So, four years of investigating with no useful, legal, actionable result (how much did THAT cost?) and we (our government) keeps some of the money because why?
Now, to top off the complete silliness of this thing – consider the following: How long have these Euros (the ones the drug dogs sniffed) been in circulation? Do you suppose they were ever mixed with other Euros used by legal business for daily transactions? Could they have been sent here, processed, returned to Europe, re-used and sent back – perhaps more than once? Of course! If you’re interested in why I asked these questions, go to http://www.snopes.com/business/money/cocaine.asp. There, you can read about how – more than once – various denominations of our own currency were tested and found to have traces of cocaine. In large percentages! Even Federal Reserve Bank counting machines bore traces of cocaine, meaning they were passing it on to the few “clean” dollars being processed.
Next question – who did one of these studies? Answer – the DEA! In 1985 (sooo last century, some are saying these days)!
Now, I have to ask this: are we so desperate to prove a failed, damaging policy is actually useful that we resort to these tactics to try and make the case?
Let’s look at this for what it is – another of the myriad unintended consequences of the drug war, another complete waste of tax dollars and officials’ time. Another violation of someone’s rights – and another good reason to end the War on Drugs and get a policy that is actually useful solving our drug problem.Short URL:
Posted on Wednesday, March 19, 2008 @ 23:35:31 EDT in Drugs