Vice Squad
Saturday, January 15, 2005
Saturday morning reading

What would a Saturday morning be without some exciting drug-related tidbits? None of the information below is really “new news,” but by some coincidence I learned it all within the last 2 hours.

1. First I found out that the war on drugs must have been finally won, at least in Europe. A Russian-language news site reported that the Austrian police has recently confiscated the largest shipment of cocaine in the country’s history. The cocaine weighed in at 143 kilos and, according to the Austrian police, it was high quality stuff. The street price is estimated to be more than 100 mln. euros. The interesting thing to me was that the shipment apparently originated in Colombia and traveled via the Bahamas, the US, and France. I have always wondered why these things sometimes travel in such a roundabout way, including through the countries where they are supposed to be consumed, before ending up in some location from which they have to travel back to those final consumption countries. I am sure there are rational explanations and I can even guess what they are. But it would be interesting to know the details. Incidentally, Austria is apparently far behind the US in its war on drugs. The same story reported that the previous shipment handled by the same drug ring was much bigger (277 kilos) and was confiscated in South Carolina, apparently without setting any records.

2. The News of the Weird column for January 9, 2005 reports about a Dutch retirement home in Rotterdam that specializes on serving the “incorrigible heroin addicts.” Apparently it has a long waiting list. I do not know whether the retirement home seeks to provide rehabilitation services, but it appears it does not. Also, it looks like the police are not interested in raiding it. Wouldn’t it be nice indeed if at least the retired people who can afford it could enjoy whatever drugs they want to consume in the privacy of their homes? But perhaps they already do in some more enlightened countries. BTW, this is not really a selfish wish. My drugs of choice are alcohol and caffeine. I am already able to consume them in the privacy of my home.
3. And here is my favorite item from the same News of the Weird column. In Salt Lake City late last year, federal judge Paul G. Cassell was forced by the mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines to sentence a 25-year-old small-quantity marijuana dealer to 55 years in prison. The sentence was so harsh because the dealer had a gun on him during two of the transactions. Two hours before that, Judge Cassell sentenced a man to 22 years in prison for killing an elderly woman by beating her to death with a log. The latter crime was not subject to the mandatory minimum guidelines. This is weird indeed.

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