The Vigo County prosecutor’s office, the Terre Haute Police Department and Vigo County Sheriff’s Department will be conducting intermittent driver’s license checks at an undisclosed location in Vigo County.
When I hear that Indiana police are conducting “driver’s license checks”, my constitutional spidey-sense goes off. Afterall, these are the folks who brought us the drug checkpoint. And when that got overruled by the Supreme Court, they came out with the similar, but more sinister “fake drug checkpoint.”
And just when I’m getting ready to connect the dots, the Tribune-Star does it for me:
The checkpoint is also known as a highway interdiction operation, something that has been challenged in courts on the grounds that it may violate the Fourth Amendment prohibition against illegal search and seizure.
So at least we can agree that this is about drug interdiction rather than driver’s licenses. But the Tribune-Star is a bit off on the caselaw. The above quote should read:
The checkpoint is also known as a highway interdiction operation, something that has been overruled by the Supreme Court on the grounds that it does violate the Fourth Amendment prohibition against illegal search and seizure.
Though technically a win for the 4th Amendment, City of Indianapolis v. Edmond has a loophole in that it only prohibits checkpoints implemented for the “primary purpose” of drug interdiction. That’s why police can set up checkpoints on the pretext of checking driver’s licenses, and then proceed to march drug-sniffing dogs around your car in circles as you fumble for your documents.
Thanks to the Court’s recent decision in Illinois v. Caballes, dog-sniffs are impossible to challenge on 4th Amendment grounds if administered during the course of an otherwise legitimate law-enforcement activity, so these thinly-veiled drug checkpoints will be hard to challenge.
For that matter, I’m not sure we should even push this issue given our current Court’s attitude towards the 4th Amendment.
Instead, let’s just stay the hell out of Indiana.
A crystal-methamphetamine distribution ring allegedly run by the Breed motorcycle gang has been broken and 15 members from Philadelphia, Bucks and Montgomery Counties and New Jersey were in custody or were being sought, Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett said yesterday. From May 2005 through June 2006, he said, the gang's Pennsylvania chapter distributed more than 120 pounds of crystal meth, with a street value of more than $11.25 million.Will the Inquirer revisit this story in a year, or six months (or for that matter two weeks) to see if meth has been made any less available to its users -- or if instead the slack has been taken up instead of other dealers eager to make the added profit? This is also a "consequences of prohibition" story, hence I've also posted it to our "Prohibition in the Media" blog:
Corbett said a statewide investigation and a grand jury found that from its clubhouse at 3707 Spruce St. in Bristol, the gang "had terrorized Lower Bucks County for several decades by committing crimes involving illegal drug dealing, thefts, extortion, witness intimidation and assaults."It's clearly the case that those involved in illegal drug activity are going to resort to violence to advance their business purposes and moderate their business disputes -- that's prohibition, it was like that with Al Capone during alcohol prohibition and it's like that with drug gangs now. While drug prohibition laws don't directly account for the thefts and perhaps other crimes that the AG alleges were committed by this particular gang, all the money they were making from meth certainly turned them into a larger and powerful group, perhaps is what got them started in the first place. When prohibition was repealed, the homicide rate decreased steadily for ten years, to about half of where it had peaked by the end of prohibition -- perhaps the steadiness of the decrease as opposed to it all going away immediately reflects the idea that gangs whose financial backbone is based on drug selling will struggle to hold on for awhile before dwindling. But the violence dropped, and that's the main thing. The Inquirer posts letter and op-ed information here. Sadly Philadelphia has been plagued lately with another consequences of prohibition, overdose deaths due to a tainted drug supply. Read what one of Nixon's drug fighters had to say about the long-term effectiveness of massive drug busts.