The War on Drugs in this country is something that I have repeatedly criticized as ineffective, only empowering drug lords (both foreign and here in Massachusetts) and destined to failure.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t think that law enforcement should play “any” role in Massachusetts drug crimes. It means that we should back off prosecuting people for marijuana charges, and treat users of heavy drugs within the health care system, not the criminal justice system. Such drug users should not be treated as criminals to be locked up, but as sick patients that need to be treated medically. Massachusetts jails and prisons are already strained to the breaking point, and it is violent criminals who belong there, not drug users.

Notwithstanding, Boston Police announced on Friday night (Nov. 15) that more than 31 people had been arrested on various Massachusetts drug charges, as part of a wide, coordinated investigation involving five separate Police Departments. What made this sting operation so effective, was the fact that Boston Police had secured approvals and orders from a state court judge to utilize wide-ranging electronic and wiretap eavesdropping on key targets. Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley characterized the 31 defendants as being members of a dangerous and highly organized Massachusetts criminal drug trafficking enterprise. Months in the works, the effort was nicknamed Operation Limehouse after a city district in London. The program resulted in police raids Thursday night and Friday morning in Boston, Quincy, and other cities and towns in eastern Massachusetts.

Police raided 18 houses and eight motor vehicles and claimed they found illegal drugs, cash, and weapons hidden behind walls and even in secret compartments. One kilo of heroin, a half-kilo of cocaine, unspecified amounts of marijuana and prescription painkillers, and more than $140,000 was reportedly seized. In addition, four handguns, a rifle, and in excess of 150 rounds of ammunition were also seized. Boston Police claimed that the criminal enterprise was based in Roxbury, but key members of the organization were arrested in Attleboro, Duxbury, Quincy, and Salem. Reportedly, the persons arrested ranged from “top-level importers” of foreign-manufactured narcotics to street-level dealers. They face a variety of Massachusetts drug and firearms charges.

Sounds like a pretty vast and dangerous network to me. As an Attleboro Massachusetts drug charges lawyer, it wouldn’t surprise me if that were true. But the real question is and has always been, “What do we do as a society to stem such drug violence?” Police and law enforcement say “Drug dealers are dangerous criminals. Crack down on ’em, and lock ’em all up.” I agree that most drug dealers are dangerous. But it is our outdated (and never-proven-successful) drug policy in this country and this state, that makes them powerful and dangerous.

These dangerous drug gangs result because our present federal and Massachusetts drug laws encourage the development and growth of these criminal drug networks. If we started treating drug users as sick people needing health care, and stopped locking them up, we could go a long way toward eliminating these criminal drug networks.

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