FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Operation Payback

When police use their power to carry out personal vendettas, innocent people suffer.

Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies conducted a massive nationwide roundup of drug trafficking suspects this week, arresting more than a 450 people on narcotics-related charges. The sweeps, which were dubbed Operation Fallen Hero, were a response to the killing of Immigrations and Customs agent Jaime Zapata, who was shot dead on a highway in Mexico 10 days ago. Senior agency officials (tacitly) conceded that the dragnet had nothing to do with impartially enforcing the law, but was a reprisal for the untimely murder of their colleague.

According to the New York Times:

“Louie Garcia, a deputy special immigration and customs agent involved with the sweeps, echoed that thought in an interview with The Associated Press. “This is personal,” he said. “We lost an agent. We lost a good agent. And we have to respond.” (“Drug Raids Across U.S. Net Hundreds of Suspects”, New York Times)

Garcia’s admission that the roundup was motivated by “personal” considerations, proves that drug enforcement agencies are using their power to settle scores. If that’s the case, then the public should question whether the suspects who were arrested are really criminals at all or merely undocumented workers and other minor offenders who were caught up in the dragnet. People should also wonder why these so-called criminals weren’t picked up before this week’s raids if the police knew where they were located and what crimes they had committed. Garcia’s comments just reinforce the belief that the police are unwilling to perform their duties unless one of their own has been killed.

“If you attack a U.S. law enforcement officer, we are not going to back down,” said Derek Maltz, special agent in charge of special operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration.” (LA Times)

No one expects the police to “back down”, nor do they expect them to go on a rampage and incarcerate hundreds of people who had nothing to do with Zapata’s death.

From the LA Times: “Authorities said the sweeps were a direct response to the slaying of Zapata, who was the highest-profile U.S. law enforcement officer killed in Mexico since DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was kidnapped and tortured by drug gangs in 1985.”

So, 3,000 federal, state and local law enforcement agents were deployed in this misguided muscle-flexing exercise to send a message to Mexican druglords that US agencies are prepared to “get tough”? Is that it? Unfortunately, the sweeps merely prove that the police are flying blind and haven’t the slightest idea how to deal with the problem, so they’ve returned to the same tit-for-tat failed strategy that’s been used for the last 30 years. As always, the latest failure was accompanied by a press conference where bulging bags of cocaine and kilos of marijuana were stacked three feet high so the media could “Ooo and Ahhh” over the DEA’s latest triumph. Meanwhile, the 450 victims of this fiasco are spending their time in the hoosegow before being deported to Mexico. This is justice?

On Wednesday, President Obama called Mexico’s president Felipe Calderon and thanked him for arresting a number of suspects in the Zapata investigation. According to the Associated Press: “Obama told Calderon that neither the United States nor Mexico could tolerate violence against those who protect and serve the citizens.”

Right. More than 35,000 people have been killed in the last four years in the battle between the drug cartels and the Mexican military, and Obama says he will not “tolerate violence”?

Wake up and smell the coffee, Barack.

White House Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske issued this statement following the announcement of the mass arrests on Wednesday:

“Today’s forceful crackdown demonstrates that the United States will never back down from the threats posed by barbaric criminal organizations that smuggle poisons into our communities and have no regard for innocent human life.”

Once again, more tough talk and Rambo-style law enforcement. It hasn’t worked so far, and it won’t work now. The War on Drugs has always been a way of diverting attention from the deeply-rooted social issues that cause drug abuse. It’s time to put an end the carnage and try a different approach.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com

More articles by:

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail