Denver, CO - It is no secret that police have been using social media to bust drug users and sellers for years. However, many people would not expect police to continue using these tactics for marijuana busts in states where the plant has been legalized.
Unfortunately, even in states where marijuana has been legalized, it isn't exactly fully legal, and there are still long lists of restrictions and regulations that still lead to arrests.
In Denver of all places, now seen as a Mecca for marijuana freedom, a local CBS affiliate recently conducted an investigation which exposed how police were using online social media networks to bust people for marijuana. The operations were aimed at arresting cannabis users who chose to buy through private sellers instead of the city's licensed and taxed shops.
To entrap marijuana users, police have been setting up fake accounts on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and posing as drug dealers. On their pages, they openly advertise marijuana for sale, and when someone contacts them to set up a buy, they are actually setting themselves up in a sting operation that will result in their arrest.
For example, one Instagram post from undercover police reads, “Place your order today, gets shipped out before 8 a.m.”
The online and undercover officers also set up pages to pose as buyers and set up dealers who are brave enough to advertise online.
Gordon Coombes, former drug investigator for Larimer County Sheriff’s Office told CBS4 that when he was an undercover officer online, he would set up elaborate backstories for his profiles.
“If they wanted to know who I was they could search social media that would confirm my character,” Coombes said.
26-year-old Sean Edelson became one of the recent victims of these traps when he responded to a photo online of a marijuana grow operation.
The post read, “Getting close to peak!! Taking orders now!!”
Edelson responded to the post saying ‘I’m the type of person that will take everything, every time.”
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Through these online profiles, Edelson, and the undercover officer arranged a meeting at a Denver restaurant where they agreed to exchange $64,000 for 36 pounds of cannabis. Edelson was arrested at the meeting in a planned operation.
Edelson actually moved from New York to Colorado because he thought that he would be safer and would not run a risk of getting arrested. Sadly, marijuana is still not legal anywhere, it is only less illegal in certain places.
The same state intervention and loss of freedom for trading certain products even goes with alcohol and tobacco. Moonshiners are regularly arrested and fined for merely making and selling alcohol, and likewise, people are still arrested and fined for selling untaxed cigarettes. As many readers of The Free Thought Project will remember, selling untaxed cigarettes is what led to the murder of New York resident Eric Garner.
These cases are an important reminder to people everywhere, even in states where marijuana is 'legal,' police are creating fake identities online to lure people into incriminating themselves
In the United States, the murder clearance rate in 1965 was more than 90 percent. Since the inception of the war on drugs, the murder clearance rate has plummetted to an average of less than 65 percent per year.
This decline is in spite of there being far fewer murders. It is also in spite of new technological developments to help police solve crimes, like DNA testing, advanced forensic labs, and unethical spying devices like the stingray.
Despite the near complete erosion of the constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure, the clearance rate for murder continued its free fall. This highlights the fact that no matter how many rights are given up or freedoms diminished, police cannot guarantee your safety.
It's not just murders that police fail to investigate, it's rapes too.
According to the Department of Justice, there are currently over 400,000 untested rape kits collecting dust in police evidence rooms nationwide, and many other estimates suggest that this number could be as high as one million.
As a result of this horrific negligence, roughly 3% of rape cases in America are actually solved. This is in spite of the fact that many rape kits have a high chance of leading to an arrest since most rapists are career criminals who have their DNA on file.
When the government is more concerned with kidnapping and locking people in a cage for possessing a plant that grows from the ground, instead of preventing and solving rapes and murders, something has gone horribly wrong.
If you think the war on drugs is an abject failure, please share this article with your friends and family to let them know how the state is more interested in a plant than they are "protecting" anyone.
John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can purchase his books, or get your own book published at his website www.JohnVibes.com.