By now, you might already agree that the war on drugs produced some very bad (and deadly) unintended consequences. But what many might not be aware of is that the restrictive policies have also boosted law enforcement incompetence and corruption.
For an example, consider the case involving the Chelan County Sheriff department and several other agencies involved in a drug raid in Washington state.
According to this news source, the agency has failed to account for roughly $18,000 in cash seized from a single drug raid in early April.
When officials busted into the home of 52-year-old Cesar J. Mora on an April 3 raid, they found $85,788 in cash. But once detectives looked into the packaged evidence later, they found only $68,000. The bust, which also led to the seizure of guns and cocaine, is now under scrutiny by an agency from another county, as officials try to make sense of what happened to the money. But while this news promptly followed the missing cash report, don’t count on this review turning into a full investigation. After all, Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett said that the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office would only take a look at the “possible errors in handling evidence” related to the incident.
“If policies and procedures were not followed during the processing of the scene, it is extremely important we find and correct those types of errors as soon as possible,” Burnett added.
The early-April bust involved other federal and state law enforcement agencies and was led by the Columbia River Drug Task Force, which includes Chelan County detectives. But other departments such as the Wenatchee Police Department were also involved. Needless to say, the fact so many agencies and officers were directly involved may have made the entire process even more bureaucratic. And when bureaucracy reigns supreme, the opportunity for corruption is even greater.
As Richard M. Ebeling wrote, corruption doesn’t require a particular type of culture or lack of ethics to thrive. Instead, studies suggest that corruption is strong whenever bureaucracies flourish, meaning that when the government is increasingly interventionist, corruption also happens at a greater rate.
In this case, an incredibly interventionist policy, namely the war on drugs, opened up the doors to corruption in law enforcement as officials have many incentives to lie, steal, and even deal themselves.
While we still don’t know what happened to the missing $18,000 taken from Mora’s home, it doesn’t take more than a few seconds to find countless examples of law enforcement agents using their position to steal drugs and cash. And what’s more disheartening, they often don’t pay for their crimes.
Despite these examples of how law enforcement becomes rotten to the core thanks to government’s intervention in the economy, we still see people defending the immoral war on drugs. Many even claim that government-sponsored robbery in the name of the drug war is justifiable.
It’s almost as if an indefensible act suddenly becomes admissible once government partakes in it.