Vice Squad
Sunday, March 16, 2008
A NAFTA Suceess Story?

The Guardian has started a two-part series excerpted from a new book about organised crime. Judging from installment number one, the book seems to be on the breathless side. The excerpt starts with a trucker having his rig searched for drugs at the US-Canada border. We eventually learn that the driver was smuggling 50 pounds of marijuana into the US -- oh the humanity! -- but the border police didn't find it. (Thanks to drug prohibition, fifty pounds of "BC bud" is worth quite a sum (the article mentions $100,000) in the US -- somewhat less in Canada -- but it doesn't take up a lot of space in a truck.) The examination at the border, as described in the excerpt, is thorough though in this case, unsuccessful. Further, the author notes that the elaborate search, which includes making sure the propane tank is really usable for fueling the truck -- is called for: "These elaborate tests were necessary; the only other way he [the border agent] could have established Dan's [the driver's] innocence would be by sawing open the LPG tank." That's one of the features of the drug war: it has replaced the antiquated notion of the presumption of innocence with the presumption of guilt. Don't worry, law-abiding citizens, the presumption of guilt is a rebuttable presumption: if you are lucky, you might be able to establish your innocence.

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