The Drug War Metaphor: Increasingly Literal


A New Mexico narcotics task force sent a SWAT team and helicopter to raid a school where students "participate in farming as a context for learning mathematics and science." The raid was apparently part of a larger operation involving the task force, the state police, and the National Guard, in which cops conduct aerial sweeps of rural areas in search of marijuana grows.

"We were all as a group eating outside as we usually do, and this unmarked drab-green helicopter kept flying over and dropping lower," she said. "Of course, the kids got all excited. They were telling me that they could see gun barrels outside the helicopter. I was telling them they were exaggerating." 

After 15 minutes, Pantano said, the helicopter left, then five minutes later a state police officer parked a van in the school's driveway. Pantano said she asked the officer what was happening, but he only would say he was there as a law-enforcement representative. 

Then other vehicles arrived and four men wearing bullet-proof vests, but without any visible insignias or uniforms, got out and said they wanted to inspect the school's greenhouses. Pantano said she then turned the men over to the farm director, Greg Nussbaum. 

"As we have nothing to hide, you know, they did the tour and they went in the greenhouses and they found it was tomato plants and so that was the story," she said. 

Quite the show of force to make sure the school's 12 students, ages 11 to 14, weren't secretly hiding pot plants among their tomatoes. Or maybe the problem was that the cops mistook the tomatoes for pot. That's happened before, too.

NEXT: Assassinations Done Wrong

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Fuck revenuer retards. A greenhouse is usually just a greenhouse. Get a warrant.

  2. No dogs or tomatoes were shot? I'm disappointed.

  3. And what was the safety risk of flying the helicopter at low altitude over the students, perhaps with guns and live ammunition no less. Fuvkin azzholes.

    1. No worse than living near an airport or a police station? Just a guess.

      1. Um, yes it is worse. Living "near" an airport or a police station does not result in helicopters hovering low directly over your property with guys with loaded rifles pointed at you.

        1. Oh my goodness! That does sound dangerous for The Children?. Thanks, BSR! I'll never look at a helicopter or a loaded rifle the same way again.

          1. Uh... yeah. If you have a point, perhaps you could get around to it.

            1. That a Balko post elicited only 33 comments in two hours makes my point for me.*

              *Nothing to see here. Move along.

  4. Any time students are educated on the stupidity of the police and military it is a good thing.

    1. Funny, I don't recall raiding any greenhouses recently.

    2. and that's the real lesson here.

    3. I have a feeling that wasn't the main lesson learned here. More like: "the slightest suspicion of an infraction can bring about the use of overwhelming force. Obey - resistance is futile."

  5. Hey, what happened to the MSNBC post?


    ps- The cops baboons with guns do this stuff because they can.

    1. I saw that to. Did someone talk about a certain attorney's alleged sheep fucking again?

      1. This is why we can't have nice things.

        1. Anarchy can be ugly. We reap what we sow.

    2. Reason doesn't want MSNBC viewers to interact with us!

      1. Have you seen their women? They all look like Ed Schultz! Intermarriage will weaken the gene pool.

  6. I built my wife a nice little greenhouse in the back yard because she's a serious gardener and starts plants from seed. She also uses it to winter certain plants.

    When she's starting plants from seed early in the year, she's got grow lights in there on all hours - which of course makes the greenhouse light up.

    We've had a running joke that it's only a matter of time before someone shows up and asks what we're growing in the greenhouse.

    1. it's only a matter of time before someone shows up and asks tells us what we're growing in the greenhouse


  7. I know someone who successfully grew pot plants alongside the tomatoes while working in a greenhouse. Of course, this was the freewheeling 70's, and many carcinogenic chemicals were being used without masks, so that's one way to create a diversion.

    1. One thing you notice if you fly over Lake Erie is that the Ontario shore is nothing but greenhouses. I've always wondered just what the maximum dope/tomato ratio is that you can get away with, because I'm sure that every one of those greenhouses has some dope growing in it.

      1. That's the Canadian side, right?

        1. Otherwise known as the side that sees the sun in the winter.

  8. The drug war is a metaphor to those who don't fight it.

  9. So we are no longer welcoming MSNBC viewers?

    1. Oops, P Brooks already mentioned this. I guess I should read all the comments BEFORE posting.

  10. I'm not sure how many Congresscritters have dogs, but there should really be some kind of campaign to shoot one of them (the dogs) for every innocent person that dies in a drug raid.

  11. Well, as long as we've got a voucher, Mr. Nussbaum."

    1. "Don't call that dog Hero!" *shoots dog*

      1. Wow, that was fast. I didn't know if anyone would get it.


        1. Thanks! Now I can buy some cans to replace the ones that got all shot up.

  12. Residents... have complained that the flyovers are scaring livestock, disturbing the peace in the rural areas and resulting in invasions of private property without search warrants.

    So the local paper wasn't a regurgitated task force press release? I'm happier now.

    Marianna Hatten, who runs the High Desert Ranch Bed & Breakfast on Gold Mine Road, said the entire area was subjected to "10 hours of assault" for the 35 plants.

    "We're sitting here as a teaching staff, always short on money, and we're thinking, 'Gosh, all the money it takes to fly that helicopter and hire all those people, it would be great to have this for education.'"

    Much happier now.

    1. Sophmoric pot joke alert:

      You shouldn't run a place called "High Desert" and expect to not be raided by cops looking for pot.

    2. Except that surely someone will say, "you're right" and proceed to raise revenue for more ed dollars rather than cut abusive WoD revenue.

  13. Is it legal for the cops to not identify themselves personally when they approach someone without a warrant? I wonder about the lack of insignia and a few other things here.

    Regardless of that, was any homework done into the nature of the facility? A school greenhouse? Couldn't any cop have just gone up and knocked on the door when the kids weren't there and asked for a walk around?

    It is certainly fortunate these kids don't have a dog at the center. It would have been tough to get all that blood off the plants.

    1. It was probably too much trouble to find the terrarium and strangle the pet iguana.

      1. Well, they did give the class hamster a nasty swirly....

    2. C'mon, sloopy, you can't play dress up and break out all the cool toys if you do that. SWAT first, ask questions later.

  14. You gotta admit the name of that school suggests a bunch of dirty Mexicans are in there growing pot, right? Let me preface that with, "If you have the intelligence of an only slightly below average police officer..."

  15. I got in the habit of smoking cigarlos while in El Paso, TX. I would smoke one for a couple of minutes, then snuff it and put it in a plastic zip lock bag to finish later. One cigarlo would last me a week or two. The next city on my trip was LA. I got handcuffed and searched there for conducting a sit-in at the DEA office. One cop found my zip lock bag with a crumbed cigarlo in it. He got all excited. I just kept silent and enjoyed watching his reaction. Narcs are so cute when they think they've found illegal drugs. They're just like 3 year olds on an Easter Egg hunt, except they're packing heat and they have a tendency for unnecessary violence.

    1. On the other size of the coin, I once spent a day visiting 3 local DEA offices to hand in my prescription pills, but none of them wanted to take the drugs. The narcs figure that it's no fun unless they have to bust down a door or two.

      1. On the other size of the coin, I once spent a day visiting 3 local DEA offices to hand in my prescription pills, but none of them wanted to take the drugs.

        Just drop them on a desk and walk away?

        1. I'm sure we can make some sort of distribution charge stick for that...

  16. Let me get this straight as I have been hard at work today. H&R deleted yet another thread? WTF???

    1. "The behavior by these commenters is threatening our ability to keep comments enabled at Hit & Run."

  17. but none of them wanted to take the drugs.

    You need better drugs; those guys get the gooooood shit.

  18. Nondescript helicopters routines fly low and slow over my property here in southern Ohio. Recent TV news stories about Mexicans cultivating pot on rural properties around here pretty confirms for me why I'm constantly seeing the helicopters.

  19. "As we have nothing to hide, you know, they did the tour..."

    Schmuck. The pigs carry evidence to plant on just such occasions.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.