The Albuquerque Police Department has been manufacturing crack cocaine in order to sell it to people who are then subsequently arrested for possession of an illegal drug, according to leaked court documents.
One of the worst tactics made commonplace by the US’ “War on Drugs” has been the so-called “reverse buy-bust” operations where police sell illegal drugs to people while undercover and then arrest them for the possession of that very same substance. Though this type of legal entrapment has a precedent, albeit a dangerous and immoral one, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) has taken this tactic to the next level this year by actually manufacturing illegal drugs themselves. According to a court affidavit obtained by Burque Media, a local news outlet, APD are planning to go after low-level drug users by carrying out a reverse buy-bust operation, but with a twist. As part of the operations, APD will be manufacturing crack cocaine from powdered cocaine, which will then be sold by undercover cops. The affadavit, written on February 25th, says that “powdered cocaine may be taken to APD’s Criminalistics Unit to be made into crack cocaine.”
The affadavit also places restrictions on the amount of illicit drugs APD police officers may use in the operations. It calls for the “release up to but not to exceed eight (8) ounces of cocaine base (commonly referred to as crack), up to but not to exceed eight (8) ounces of cocaine, up to but not to exceed eight (8) ounces of heroin, and up to but not to exceed eight (8) ounces of Methamphetamine from the Albuquerque Police Department’s Evidence Unit to detectives of the Albuquerque Police Department’s Narcotics Unit for use in a ‘Reversal Operation.’” The document, which can be read in its entirety here, also suggests that these immoral drug-baiting tactics, which largely target the homeless or impoverished, is seen by the department as a means of stopping the flow of drugs through the city as other enforcement efforts have failed. However, putting drugs on the streets in order to take them off of the streets, seems like a rather misguided method to accomplish their stated goal.
Pete Dinelli, former Chief Deputy District Attorney and former Chief Public Safety Officer for Albuquerque doubted the affidavit until it was confirmed. He then explained to Burque Media that he find these stings troubling as they are inherently irresponsible. “It’s downright dangerous to be using drugs seized in other drug busts because of chain-of-custody issues and the risk associated with not being able to track what happens,” said Dinelli. “The city could also be exposed to liability for using tainted drugs that they lose track of. This is a very poor law enforcement practice.” Despite reservations expressed since the story broke in May, this unique reverse buy-bust operation has been in effect for most of this year and is set to tie up at the end of this month. However, it could continue if APD decides it was ultimately “successful.” Yet, successful could not necessarily mean less drugs on the streets, but instead higher arrest quotas and lucrative paybacks for any “lost” drugs that happen to benefit the police department as opposed to the community they are meant to serve.
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