Drug Policy

Another Isolated Incident

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As part of a massive operation targeting hydroponic marijuana growers called "Operation D-Day" (noting militaristic about that at all), federal agents in Florida mistakenly raided the home of a Cuban immigrant couple.

"I was frightened for my husband because they threw him on the ground," Llorente's wife said. "I was scared.

Llorente said he was just leaving for work when unmarked cars pulled up, Drug Enforcement Administration agents jumped out, threw him down with guns drawn, handcuffed him, stormed into his home and searched for drugs.

"I asked them why they came to my house, they said a neighbor or somebody called and said I had a hydroponics lab in my house," Llorente said. "Then I asked them if a marijuana plant could grow inside my underwear drawer."

The Llorentes said they don't speak much English – they're immigrants from Cuba. They said one of the reasons they came to the U.S. was to escape oppression from the Cuban police.Isabel Llorente said she never thought this could happen here."Never, because they criticize Cuba so much," she said.

"I've never gone through anything like this."She said what made it especially traumatic was not knowing if the agents were really police or imposters. She said she tried to call 911, but they wouldn't let her.

"What added salt to this injury was after the situation – house is searched, door is broken – they just walked away," the Llorentes' lawyer said. "Like, 'We're the government. We made a mistake.'"

It's worth noting that while police say these tactics are necessary because drug distributors tend to be violent and armed to the teeth, this operation apparently turned up just eight guns from 150 homes.

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  1. Cocksuckers.

  2. “I’ve never gone through anything like this.”, says the former citizen of an oppressive dictatorship.

    This should be a clue, folks. The WoD has gone off the motherfucking rails.

  3. Cops have trouble understanding why people, especially poor people, view tham as the enemy. Busting up people’s homes, manhandling and frighening the crap out of them, then unapologetically driving away just might have something to do with the lack of cooperation the cops get in poor neighborhoods.

    The best quote –

    “Then I asked them if a marijuana plant could grow inside my underwear drawer.”

    The War on Drugs Brown People continues.

  4. Good thing there’s no real crime to go after in south Florida.

  5. Where do we draw the line for what offenses, though nonviolent, are worth a no-knock raid of this magnitude? Drug offenses are non-violent crimes committed by what they claim are violent people. Though this turns out to largely not be true (as the 8 guns in 150 homes shows), even if it were, could we no-knock raid people’s houses over other nonviolent offenses claiming they may be violent people?

    It boggles my mind that no rational discussion over this ridiculous drug war can be had by anyone with legislative power. All I want is for one person to put forth a rational argument for the drug war, and when they realize one does not exist, to actually fix their mistake. Of course I don’t see this happening anytime soon, but I can still wish.

  6. What’s really great about this story is this: say your neighbor’s pissed off at you for something. All he has to do is make an anonymous call, and you’re fucked.

    Just keep telling yourself: “1984” was only fiction. It was only fiction.

  7. Good job agents. You managed to make Cuban ex pats homesick.

  8. Here’s an idea (which will never get anywhere): all cops who participate in these raids should at all times have their names and badge numbers displayed in a manner which makes them readable from at least fifty feet.

    Further, a video recording should be mandatory, and turned over for safekeeping to the judge who signed the warrant within one hour of the completion of the operation. Or, possibly, turned over to a judge other than the one who signed the warrant.

  9. So let me get this straight:

    The police broke down their door and walked away, leaving the house unsecurable?

    So what are the people supposed to do? Stand watch through the night? Keep someone at home on guard all day?

    Does one of them have to time off from work?

    So basically, the police broke in and left them defenseless for the next band of thieves coming though. And of course these poor people have to pay for this “service” since god forbid they free ride on the “protection” the police provide.

  10. all cops who participate in these raids should at all times have their names and badge numbers displayed in a manner which makes them readable from at least fifty feet.

    That’s not so hard. Just dress the fuzz in their very own football jerseys. It could have their last name across the top, and then their badge number big enough that even the idiot refs in the NFL could read it.

  11. The police are performing as advertised. We pay them to be armed goons.

    The judges who all too cavalierly sign these raid papers oughta be more in focus.

    If “his honor” wasn’t a rubber-stamping proto-fascist…

  12. If “his honor” wasn’t a rubber-stamping proto-fascist…

    Perhaps the time, place, and manner requirements for a warrant should be more scrutinized on the “manner”, i.e. “tactics” portion. No judge should sign a warrant that OK’s a 2 in the morning SWAT raid without there having been an evidentiary demonstration that using any lesser tactic would in all probability get someone killed.

  13. Here in Central Florida this operation was trumpted on the news as a resounding “success”. Success of course was not defined in anyway. Just vague “mission accomplished” type nonsense.

  14. I don’t understand the reasoning behind storming a house.

    “The suspect is likely armed and dangerous. Hmmmm, how about we apprehend him in a place where he has weapons, plenty of cover and terrain familiar to him but not to us. Sounds like a winning strategy!”

    For being so highly militarized, they sure have a lousy grasp of tactics.

  15. 150 homes and only eight guns? In Florida?!?! A random sampling of homes in California would yield more than that.

    Yet another clue that WOD is selectively biased toward the really wrong people.

  16. For being so highly militarized, they sure have a lousy grasp of tactics.

    Well, you see…a high body count justifies more cash and more armaments (it’s a *war* out there, boys and girls!). This is what is called “strategy”. You can lose each battle and still “win” the “war”.

    When thinking strategically, its helpful not to think of the soldiers involved as people…

  17. The more I ruminate on this admittedly minor but all too typical fuckup, the more discouraged I get.

    Llorente said he was just leaving for work when unmarked cars pulled up, Drug Enforcement Administration agents jumped out, threw him down with guns drawn, handcuffed him, stormed into his home and searched for drugs. [my emphasis.

    This wann’t Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane & Cooter doing this, which would be deplorable but somewhat understandable. This was the fucking feds. It was the best and brightest of the WoD law enforcemnt community that decided that an uncorroborated tip was sufficient evidence to invade and trash an innocent couple’s home.

    Are there any Pollyannas here willing to suggest that some sort of accountability will be faced by the tipster, the DEA agents or the derelict judge over this?

    Didn’t think so.

  18. It was the best and brightest of the WoD law enforcemnt community that decided that an uncorroborated tip was sufficient evidence to invade and trash an innocent couple’s home.

    There need to be some uncorroborated tips made regarding some legislator’s homes.

    Srsly.

  19. The only 8 guns thing shocked me too. I would think, if you did a random sampling of 150 homes in my (North Florida, waterfront) neighborhood, you’d find more than that. Shoot, you’d find 3 in my closet.

    What I’ve learned from this is: people who grow marijuana are LESS LIKELY to be armed (and therefore, under their logic, violent) than the average suburban Floridian family.

  20. Perhaps the 8 guns refers to illegal guns, since the feds would never take away a legal gun.

  21. Radley, this gives you a rough estimator for the wrong-door rate…
    I make the 90% C.L. band (0,1.8)%

    Just the wrong-doors, mind you. I’d have to do some work to find out how many times they went to the right door and didn’t find anything they could arrest someone on. Much less how often they didn’t find what they said they’d find.

    Various disclaimers about the quality of the data apply.

  22. “I’ve never gone through anything like this.”She said what made it especially traumatic was not knowing if the agents were really police or imposters. She said she tried to call 911, but they wouldn’t let her.

    Thereby rendering her ability to tell the intruders apart from simple, violent criminals intent on looting her home all but moot.

    I get the feeling that the Llorente’s might actually prefer a good old breaking and entering at this point. At least then, you know who you’re dealing with.

    “What added salt to this injury was after the situation – house is searched, door is broken – they just walked away,”

    “Sorry we introduced sheer and indescribable terror into your lives in the middle of the night, folks. Honest mistake, war on drugs and all. Got another raid to get over to. Bye!”

  23. Perhaps the 8 guns refers to illegal guns, since the feds would never take away a legal gun.

    He he. Good one.

  24. If you search 50 homes in my area I bet you’ll find well over 100 guns.I have 3 myself.

  25. Maybe a typo; maybe 150 guns in 8 homes. Oh, not in Northern Minnesota? Sorry, ‘scuse my mistake.

  26. Operation DDay? Is the guy who thinks up the names to these “operations” on vacation?

  27. Operation DDay? Is the guy who thinks up the names to these “operations” on vacation?

    Nah. He’s a civil servant. After a few years, you get discouraged and just mail it in.

  28. Hmmmm . . . point acknowledged. Still, its like they watch John Wayne in “The Longest Day” and just get all gung ho. Then when an officer is accidentally killed during this stupid shit, we’re all supposed to shake our heads in sadness. As if the officer wasn’t being a dumbass but a hero. Whoa. Got myself worked up.

  29. This is not a free land.

  30. ‘You can lose each battle and still “win” the “war”. ‘

    The people in charge of the police are all Vietnamese.

  31. What’s really great about this story is this: say your neighbor’s pissed off at you for something. All he has to do is make an anonymous call, and you’re fucked.

    I certainly wouldn’t try that. Chances are pretty good they’d mistakenly knock MY door down first.

  32. I’m still amazed that congress resurected the War on Drugs from a Supreme Court defeat in the 1970’s. So much for flower power.

  33. Has anyone in Congress thought of introducing a bill to withhold DHS funding from police depts that do wrong-door raids and the like? That would get their attention.

    Dr Paul, I’m looking at you…

  34. Don’t get me wrong, I think Radley’s work is very important in raising awareness of this sort of thing, but if we all just shake our heads and move on to other things, it’s just so much bitching.

    I imagine most of us feel pretty helpless to do much more in the face of this. Seriously, does anyone have any ideas on what positive action we can take to make a difference on this matter?

  35. [crickets chirping]

    I wish I had an answer.

  36. Seriously, does anyone have any ideas on what positive action we can take to make a difference on this matter?

    Find a cop.

    Shoot him in the kneecap.

    Rinse.

    Repeat.

  37. That won’t work. It would put the public against any kind of reform. In fact, my greatest fear is that someone will do something stupid, just before we would actually make some progress.

  38. If we smoke all the drugs on Earth, then they’ll be all gone forever, and then there will be no more need for the DEA and no-knock raids!

  39. If we start a war with Iran, we’ll have to re-draft all the cops back into the military.

    We will use our good connections with Afghan farmers to raise money with opium for the war effort.

    To victory!

  40. Ron Paul! Four More Years! Ron Paul! Four More Years! He’ll even stop the needless victimless war on private stashes of nerve gas!

  41. “I was frightened for my husband because they threw him on the ground,” Llorente’s wife said. “I was scared.

    Fucking cowards. Pathetically unconvincing warrant aside, there is absolutely no reason for these goons to treat people like that. No threat was made against them. They could simply have walked up to him as he was leaving for work and explained that they had a warrant to search the house. They could then have walked through the open front door instead of breaking it down like a bunch of fat-ass, roided up, soldier-wannabes trying to compensate for their shriveled testes and undersized phalli. Instead they’re free to assault, humiliate and destroy the property of an innocent family while offering nothing more than a big fat “fuck you” by way of an apology. I eagerly await the chorus of denunciation of this kind of thuggery sure to come from all the so-called “good cops” that we hear so much about.

  42. I eagerly await the chorus of denunciation of this kind of thuggery sure to come from all the so-called “good cops” that we hear so much about.

    Here’s a good book lengthy piece of shit to read while you’re waiting. You’ll be finished before you hear the denunciations.

  43. Unbelievale. These people leave their communist country for our fascist country and then they have the nerve to bitch about it. Americans have grown to accept and embrace their new, fascist government. You’re either with us, or against us. They’re obviously not with us. They deserved everything they got.

  44. I don’t understand the reasoning behind storming a house.

    “The suspect is likely armed and dangerous. Hmmmm, how about we apprehend him in a place where he has weapons, plenty of cover and terrain familiar to him but not to us. Sounds like a winning strategy!”

    Of course if the suspect was truly “likely armed and dangerous” you’d be right, the strategy might not make much sense. But the reality is they’re cowards who like to get dressed up and use overwhelming military-style force to play army-guy only against pathetically undefended targets like senior citizen poker parties, old women and completely non-violent stoners. When they run into someone with a real gun, like at Columbine, they sit on their asses while kids are slaughtered. That, or they call in the sniper team to take out the poor depressed guy who’s threatening nobody but himself by shooting him in the back and then watching him bleed to death for 20 minutes (tasering him as he lies motionless in his own blood for an extra dose of cruelty) while allowing him no medical help, as happened in Portland a few years ago.* That’s what happens when police have to actually deal with an armed “enemy.”

    *The taxpayers of Portland got to pick up a half-million dollar settlement for the guy’s family (entirely justified, in fact the city got off easy) which brought the grand total of taxpayer settlements for this, and two previous cases, involving the officer who shot the guy in the back to $1.5 million.

  45. Ok, so I was going to add something else, but I guess I should stop venting — we’re all outraged and as Chris Potter alluded to, perhaps we should try to think of ways to make a difference instead.

    Anyway, I have to get going so I will leave here on a much lighter, more enjoyable (though entirely OT) note. This weekend is the annual MILF’s Mom’s Weekend at the university here which makes tonight one of the most interesting nights to go out in this college town. Every year you get to witness moms embarrassing their daughters (and more than a few sons) by getting trashed and ending up draped all over some 21 year-old guy by the end of the night (not that there’s anything wrong with that). You have to remember, these are (at least the ones who go out to the bars tonight) mostly reasonably attractive 40-something women who think having a bit too much to drink is that extra glass of wine at the company picnic being suddenly thrown into the world of college-level drinking where the rounds come fast and free. Couple that with a bunch of drunk, horny, college guys and you have the recipe for some great entertainment. Last year we were placing bets on the first mom to end up dancing, and/or giving body shots, on the bar.

    I should add that I don’t mean this to disparage in any way any of those moms (far from it!) or the college guys hitting on them. I’m all for everyone having a good time and enjoying themselves. If it also happens to be entertaining then that’s all the better. Of course, for those somewhere in between the moms and daughters, who could thus reasonably go after either, tonight has the added benefit of being, to borrow a term from the overly-militarized police thugs, a target-rich environment.

  46. BC,

    I think the Moms could use this strategically.

    MOM: So, son, how are your grades?

    SON: Uh, I dunno, OK, I guess, I imagine I’ll get some Cs this semester.

    MOM: Oh, that’s too bad, I suppose I should just drown my sorrows and then dance on the bar . . .

    SON: But I just realized that if I stidy just a bit hearder, I’m sure I’ll get good grades.

    MOM: All As?

    SON: Ah, Mom . . .

    MOM: Ah, Louie, Louie, oh, baby, me gotta go . . . hey, there, all you football players, I bet you want to *score* with a real woman!

    SON: Wait, OK, I’ll go without sleep the next couple weeks and cram for my exams.

    MOM: All right then, but if you don’t get As, next year it’s the Chippendale Club for us!

    SON: [shudders]

  47. “Ron Paul! Four More Years! Ron Paul! Four More Years! He’ll even stop the needless victimless war on private stashes of nerve gas!”

    Fuck off, ass monkey.

  48. Good for the agents. Maybe the Cubans should go back if they dont like it here. I’m sure the story is exactly as its told by the Llorente’s. No motive to sue there for trumping up the story.

  49. The problem lies in the title of the post.

    I know Radley means it ironically, but most of the public really buys the cops’ line that these are just “isolated incidents” and that the degree of force used is necessary.

    The sad fact is that the victims have so far been relatively powerless. Until someone who is connected – either politically or to the media – gets hurt or killed in one of these raids, it is not going to change.

    The only other option is for everyone to have their house on fully video and audio surveillance. Everyone. So every raid gets put on TV. I think a daily parade of videos of cops acting like [godwin edit] might make people rethink their support of the WOD.

    Side note about the 8 guns: Sheeit! You’d find more than that in 150 houses in Canada.

  50. These incidents won’t stop until it becomes too dangerous to break down doors in the middle of the night. Once the masked thugs have to start hauling out several of their comrades in body bags on these home invasions they’ll probably reconsider the practice. Once they know that invading someone’s home in the manner in which they’re doing now will most likely result in one or more of them not going home at the end of their shift then they’re going to be much less enthusiastic about busting down doors and brutalizing people.

    Adrenaline, playing dress up with the entire “Blackhawk” catalog, kicking in doors and brutalizing people becomes much less fun when it involves more substantial risk. After all, it isn’t about protecting and serving or any other bullshit spouted for public consumption. It is about going home at the end of the shift. nothing else matters. This business of putting your life on the line to protect or save Joe Citizen is so much horseshit. Joe Citizen means dick. It’s about getting home at the end of the shift.

  51. Cactus

    While I appreciate your sentiments, my take is that the cops would just use that as justification for even more firepower.

    There is a French saying that makes my point: (loosely translated) “What a vicious beast! When I attack it, it defends itself.”

  52. These incidents won’t stop until it becomes too dangerous to break down doors in the middle of the night. Once the masked thugs have to start hauling out several of their comrades in body bags on these home invasions they’ll probably reconsider the practice.

    As I said above, this is a horribly naive paradigm. What is more likely to happen is that the cops will run ti the politicians for more money and bigger guns, and the latitude to adopt even more dangerous tactics, since “it’s a war out there”.

    Kill a cop and all they get is upgraded body armor, flash grenades, and a shoot-first policy.

  53. Damn it, Aresen. Too quick.

    ” Damn my cursed metal body. I wasn’t fast enough! Artoo, listen to them, they’re dying!”

  54. Exactly. In one of his Bachman books, Steven King had a mob character who dealing with a would-be bomber say something like “you think you’re going to do anything? You blow up one courthouse, and they build two more. One to replace the one that was blown up, and another to prosecute all the mad bombers.”

  55. Last week I called the parish newspaper’s comment line to complain about profiling on I-12. I asked what benefit taxpayers get from locking up brown texas drug runners in the local jail. Actually they are jailed out of this parish at great expense, while we build an even bigger jail. The newspaper didn’t publish the comment, probably because half their space is occupied by police and court news.

  56. Can anyone else hear the ‘Brazil’ BGM?

  57. Two things come to mind:

    a) require police to live in the town that employs them

    b) pass laws that make the individual policemen PERSONALLY liable for violations of rights and for property damage? If “I was just following orders” was not a defense at Nuremberg it should not be one in Anytown USA either.

    c) (okay, more than 2…) The same goes for the judges who provide the desk-drawersful of fill-in-the-blanks warrants.

  58. Though Balko states that only the guns were found, the linked article states several million dollars in MJ plants were confiscated….was there an update?

    No freaking excuse for just walking away saying ‘Sorry’…

    ….I hope they use the American Civil court system to nail the PD to the wall.

  59. Every year you get to witness moms embarrassing their daughters (and more than a few sons) by getting trashed and ending up draped all over some 21 year-old guy by the end of the night (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    Dammit! We never had a Mom’s Weekend at my school.

    the linked article states several million dollars in MJ plants were confiscated.

    This could be a lot fewer plants than you think. The cops have been known to confiscate seeds, assume every one grows into a sensimilla tree with a couple of pounds of primo bud on it, and conclude that they confiscated marijuana worth millions.

  60. Daniel,

    Radley wasn’t saying that guns were the only thing found during the raids. He was commenting on the more-general “rationale” behind the raids–that the targets of the raids are violent criminals, and that, ironically, there were only eight guns found in a total of 150 homes.

  61. “There need to be some uncorroborated tips made regarding some legislator’s homes.”

    This is truly the only way this will ever end. Take it to them personally and things will change faster than a pol can flip flop.

    Not until it affects them directly will they ever see the error of these tactics.

    I for one am more than accepting of a few intentional casualties of their families in order to make a point. Yeah thats right at this point I really don’t care if innocent people get killed or jailed for defending themselves so long as it is a politician or judges family member. Not like they all haven’t skated on any other crime they have commited over the years by virtue of that relationship.

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