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Drug Busts Reflect Huge Disparity in Effectiveness of Enforcement Efforts

Whenever a law enforcement agency makes a major drug bust, one of the first things the department will do is issue a press release or hold a press conference to announce the size of the seizure, the dollar value of drugs and other items seized, and the number of people arrested. To the general public, the numbers at face value may seem significant, but in reality won’t do anything to upset the drug trade on the street. Ironically, other types of drug-related busts that are significant often don’t make it into the news cycle, despite the fact they have a bigger impact on the community.

Massive Drug Trafficking Operations

Two federal indictments were unsealed on August 3-4, charging 36 South Georgia, North Florida, and California residents with conspiring to traffic large amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine and other drugs. According to News4JAX, the indictments followed more than a year of undercover investigation by the FBI, the Waycross Police Department, and the Ware County Sheriff’s Office. The seizures during that time included 44 guns, 10 kilograms of cocaine ($1.03 million street value), four kilograms of methamphetamine ($120,000 street value), several ounces of heroin ($28,000 street value), five pounds of marijuana ($25,000 street value), and $130,000 in cash. Most of those indicted were arrested, and prosecutors said many of the defendants face up to life in a federal prison if convicted.

Unfortunately, the reality of such busts tends to be very different as legal proceedings commence. These collective seizures were conducted over the course of a year, whereas these numbers often equate to a single day’s work at one port of entry along the southwest border. While prosecutors may say several of the defendants could face up to life in federal prison, it’s likely that none will even come close. Defendants involved in drug cases usually plead out and offer intelligence on other drug dealers in exchange for leniency in sentencing.

Read the complete report here.

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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