Vice Squad
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Distorting Law Enforcement Priorities Through Asset Forfeiture

Sarasota, Florida has discovered that it is lucrative to attract drug dealers to town, so
that they can be arrested, according to this article in the Tampa Tribune. Under
federal and state asset forfeiture provisions, money and cars can be seized from the
arrestees, and Sarasota's Police Department gets to share in the bounty. The lead
detective involved in these arrests denies that he is focused on the forfeiture windfalls,
but he acknowledges that the program isn't primarily about reducing crime in Sarasota.
The federal DEA is a partner in the program.

The technique is a reverse sting (fake buys), luring suspected dealers to Sarasota under
the guise of selling drugs to them. Why not set-up sellers instead? The article doesn't say,
but presumably that decision is driven by the money, too. The drugs confiscated from
sellers are of no use to a police department, but it gets to keep a large share of the cash,
cars, and other valuables seized from buyers.

Thanks to DrugSense, where I first lighted upon this story. Drug WarRant
offers some further commentary.

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