Sunrise cops encourage drug dealers to come to Sunrise to buy drugs from them. They meet the drug dealers in shopping malls and fast food restaurants. They make the purchase agreement. They later meet at some other public location, make the exchange, then the swarm of armed officers comes down to seize the cash, cars, or anything else the buyer has that could plausibly be considered a proceed of crime. The seizures are the point: arrests and convictions are pretty secondary. The Sun-Sentinel reports that, in 100 cases they examined, $3 million in cash plus cars and other items were seized, but there were only two convictions for cocaine trafficking.
Lessons:The first meet-and-greet sessions don’t happen on dark street corners or in seedy motels, court records show. They take place inside popular family restaurants: McDonald’s, Steak ‘n Shake, Chili’s.Once a buyer is on the hook, a meeting is scheduled to conclude the transaction. Police come with at least one real kilo of cocaine and additional fake kilos, all shaped like bricks.Undercover officers with assault rifles wait in unmarked cars, watching for the signal for the takedown. While the busts are tightly controlled, some can get messy. Some buyers bring guns along with their cash.A few have run away; police have released dogs and fired Tasers. One man nabbed at TGI Fridays threw a gym bag containing the cocaine on the ground, and his partner fell and dropped a gun he had in his waistband.In a 2010 deposition, one defense attorney asked a Sunrise cop: “Would you take your wife shopping in that plaza if you knew a deal was going down that afternoon?”The reply: “Probably not.”TGI Fridays managers at the restaurant in Sunrise, 13350 W. Sunrise Blvd., and corporate relations representatives declined to comment about the numerous stings staged on their property.
- Never ever ever go to Sunrise, Florida, for a family vacation. Or for any other reason.
- Asset forfeiture's incentives are sufficient to induce Sunrise's police officers to put the public at risk by deliberately bringing armed drug dealers into family restaurants.
- New Zealand has made a very serious mistake in moving to civil asset forfeiture with proceeds kicked back to the drug enforcement budget. At least we have, as yet, no evidence that local departments can profit by increased seizures.
See also the asset forfeiture tag here at Offsetting...