Drug Policy

Claiming Control of an Element, the DEA Puts an Old Man Out of Business. For the Children.


The San Jose Mercury News reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration has squashed an 88-year-old entreprenur's business because his product, iodine crystals used to purify water, has shown up in some meth labs. The DEA won't let Bob Wallace, a retired metallurgist who runs his business out of his Sarasota garage along with his 85-year-old girlfriend, buy the iodine he needs to make his Polar Pure crystals unless he implements prohibitively expensive security measures. Wallace's reaction:

"This old couple, barely surviving old farts, and we're supposed to be meth dealers? This is just plain stupid," Wallace said, as he sat in the nerve center of his not-so-clandestine compound surrounded by contoured hiking maps, periodic tables and the prototypes of metal snowshoes he invented a few years ago. "These are the same knotheads that make you take your shoes off in the airport."

The DEA's justification:

"Methamphetamine is an insidious drug that causes enormous collateral damage," wrote Barbara Carreno, a DEA spokeswoman. "If Mr. Wallace is no longer in business he has perhaps become part of that collateral damage, for it was not a result of DEA regulations, but rather the selfish actions of criminal opportunists. Individuals that readily sacrifice human lives for money."

Insidious drugs did not put Wallace out of business. An insidious drug war did that.

[via Boing Boing, by way of Radley Balko's Twitter feed]


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  1. Meth labs also use water, and big pots, and tubing, and glassware, so we should outlaw all of that, too.

    1. Since drugs require people to make them, distribute them and ingest them they should just outlaw people, people other than tough on crime politicians and drug warriors. It would fix all of this collateral damage.

    2. Already outlawed. Pyrex is a drug precursor.

      1. Holy fuck – and I thought I was indulging in hyperbole. These people really are that stupid.

        1. Today’s hyperbole is tomorrow’s law. Your today was just behind the curve!

          1. “Today’s hyperbole is tomorrow’s law.”

            Great line!

            1. That has the makings of an Iron Law.

        2. There are also watch lists for precursors and combinations of chemicals and equipment at the Federal level. It’s absolutely absurd. Of corse the only people that would ever get busted this way are people not intending to make drugs or those doing it on such a small scale or so ineptly it’s unlikely they could ever make more than enough for personal consumption.

          1. That doesn’t matter, as long as the government is DoingSomething?.

      2. This is truly unfortunate. Even though I have no particular interest in chemistry, I may have to reconsider plans for moving to Texas.

        1. Yeah good thing DEA is a federal level thing…

      3. Mr Wizard reruns are banned. He is a meth precursor

  2. for libertarian statists is not meth; rather, it is the agricultural city-STATE, which these pretended lovers of liberty use to enforce their baseless and illegitmate claims of land enTITLEments. They use the Rothbardian police power to prevent and restrict the free movements of peoples by way of arbitrary lines of demarcation.
    Officer, am I free to gambol?

      1. Bastard,

        Do you actually do any work?

        1. Say what?

          1. Invariably you gambol in and seize points for yourself. I judge that the points you have enclosed in your electronic CITY WALLS number too much for your personal use, objectively proving that you are a statist.

            Statists who aren’t hypocrites slave away for 60 hours a day. But you are always getting there ahead of me. Therefore you must be a hypocrite who believes in statism for me but not for thee.

            So there 😛

            1. Best laugh was had at the use of “objectively proving” in an argument. +1 sir.

    1. Hey, WI, how is healthcare delivered in your post gambolpocalypse world? Who makes the smallpox vaccines? How are they distributed? How do we run the xray machine?

      1. you won’t NEED anyone to run that stuff because gaboltopia is PERFECT, DUH!

  3. I think the DEA agent is engaging in a clear case of projection.

    He makes cases, get’s promoted, his paycheck goes up, and he benefits from the wake of ruined lives he leaves behind.

    What an utter scum bag. If every DEA agent were to put their guns in their mouths and blow their brains out, the world would instantly become a better place.

    1. Is projection the new denial?

      When I was a kid, we said I’m rubber and you’re glue. Now we’ve grown up to say you’re engaging in projection, which at least sounds more mature.


    You hear that, DEA? That’s the sound of giardia. Enjoy!

  5. “Methamphetamine is an insidious drug that causes enormous collateral damage,” wrote Barbara Carreno, a DEA spokeswoman. “If Mr. Wallace is no longer in business he has perhaps become part of that collateral damage, for it was not a result of DEA regulations, but rather the selfish actions of criminal opportunists. Individuals that readily sacrifice human lives for money.”

    Good Lord. This reminds me of arguing with my 8-year-old sister when we were kids.

    1. When they were kids, one of my aunts got into an argument with my mom that got pretty heated. My aunt threw a 1940’s era shoe at my mom, who ducked out of the way. The shoe shattered a glass. My grandfather informed my aunt that she would be paying for the window out of her allowance. My aunt argued that my mother should have paid because it was my mom’s decision to duck which was the cause of the glass being broken.

      My aunt eventually grew into an adult who didn’t blame others for her misdeeds. I guess the DEA is populated with agents who didn’t manage that.

    2. Do they ever stop to consider there might not be much of a meth, crack, spice, you name it latest scourge drug, if the drug in its original form were available? Why have fake pot if real pot is legal? Why have crack if you could have coca tea, or coca leaf chew? Why have non filtered, extra potent nicotine infused cigs in the black market if real cigs are legal? Oh, wait, cigs are legal and we have lights, ultra lights, and filtered. Why have high alcohol beer supplied out of the back alley brewers when you could have legal beer? Oh wait we do have legal beer and what we have is light beer, ultra light and low carb and even non alcohol beer. I know we have higher alcohol level beer but it is such a small market share as to almost be negligible. Moralists.

      1. We also have e-cigarettes, which have the benefits of cigarettes without most of the drawbacks. Freedom wins again.

      2. Light beer is a crime against man and nature.

    3. To paraphrase David Friedman, blaming imaginary forces for your misdeeds is commonly employed only by small children and great nations.

      1. And the basket goes “swish.”

    4. This old geezer deserves whatever punishment he gets. At 88, he’s supposed to be in a state-run nursing home, chafing from bed sores, while some obese n*gger nurse’s aide helps herself to his valuables. See, the State knows what’s best for old people, and it’s not to be an active, independent outdoors enthusiast who invents useful things for backpackers.

      1. “Valuables” is a euphemism? Like “family jewels”?

  6. I wish the DEA were a corporeal being, so I could physically choke it to death and watch the life drain from its eyes.

    1. Wrong, they are the soulless undead – you are going to need a wooden stake.

      1. If we use a stake, can we watch the undeath drain from its eyes?

    2. Joe, I will hold it down and kick it in the nuts while you choke it to death. (I am assuming its male, because its full of dicks)

      However, I feel this way about most of the Federal government.

      I was thinking about this cancer on the country that is the US Federal Government the other day, and I came to really appreciate a thing of great irony – specifically that one of the weapons that came out of the nuclear programme would be perfectly suited for eradicating much of the federal government – the neutron bomb.

      See, detonated over DC, it would kill most living things there (including the target class of Federal employees and agents), while leaving all those nice beautiful granite and marble buildings that the People have bought, utterly intact with no damage at all.

      I like to think of it as a “DoOverDay Device”

  7. From TFA:

    Special Agent Richard Camps, a San Jose-based state narcotics task force commander, said he received reports of suspicious buyers.

    “Weird-looking people, ‘Beavis and Butt-Head’-types, were coming into camping stores and buying everything they had on the shelves,”

    1. “Weird-looking people, ‘Beavis and Butt-Head’-types, were coming into camping stores and buying everything they had on the shelves,”

      Those folks? They were just right-wing, survivalist, domestic terrorist, militia members.

      We support the ban on water purification tablets, as in a disaster, we can’t have individual citizens interfere with FEMA’s sole authority in securing and distributing clean water.

      1. Clearly, mormons …who are very into food storage, and yes…that includes water filtration… Are actualy covert meth cooks! They are almost as dangerous as the quaker peace activists the FBI spies on!

        1. Chemical Purification does not equal filtration. HTH(tm)!!1!

    2. One hit of meth, and we go from beavis to CORNHOLIO!

      1. What, are you on paid administrative leave or something? Usually I only have to read your rage-inducing name late at night.

        1. No, but i did have a nice month sucking the govt teat on injured leave.

          1. Color me unsurprised.

          2. Sucking the government teat is probably like channeling saidin: sweet, but sickening.

            1. Except that it’s easy and doesn’t involve skill or willpower.

          3. How did you injure yourself? Were you fighting fires on the side? big wave surfing? did you fall off stage on your latest world tour? maybe it was teaching technique to the world-class athletes you train regularly? Or did you throw out your back fucking your wife, Morgan Fairchild?

            1. I slipped on the blood of a hippie we had just beaten senseless while carrying in the extra bag of donuts for our mid-morning break.

            2. Carpal Tunnel from commenting on H&R.

  8. Individuals that readily sacrifice human livelihood for professional expediency.

    1. …deserve neither human livelihood or professional expediency?

  9. Surprisingly the commentariat over at Boing Boing is outraged. I guess they haven’t heard that Polar Equipment Inc is a corporashun.

  10. If Mr. Wallace Obama is no longer in business he has perhaps become part of that collateral damage, for it was not a result only of DEA regulations, but rather also the selfish actions of criminal opportunists. Individuals that readily sacrifice human lives for money.


    Polar Pure contains a small sprinkling of iodine crystals, which disinfects water tainted with bacteria.

    Federal drug agents suspected methamphetamine-makers were using the iodine to make drugs, and strict regulations on the chemical were approved.

    WHAT does it all mean for WALLACE?
    Wallace said the new rules ordered him to pay a fee, get permits, and keep track of buyers. But his iodine distributor — warned by the DEA — won’t sell to him.

    See, you can purchase what ever you want. All the government is asking for, is a record of everyone who has purchased the product. What’s the danger in allowing the government to track, and record all of a person’s retail purchases?

    1. If you have nothing to hide, and you don’t own a dog, you have nothing to fear.

      1. Don’t forget cash, car, house, boat, jewelry, antiques, or anything else of value.

        Of course, since you’re dirt poor you have no reason for buying that stuff except to make meth so it’s off to jail for you too.

        1. after all, being dirt poor is just a clever disguise to hide their massive drug profits from the government.

          1. And here I thought the clever disguise was El Pollo Loco chicken chains.

            1. There’s a new drive thru in Tallahassee that has no seating and no windows except for the pickup window. Every time I see it, I think of Breaking Bad.

              1. Oh, is that the new Heisenberg’s franchise? Or just another tired Los Pollos Hermanos outlet?

      2. This is why I use an alias for all of my chemical precursor and explosive compound purchases. The conversations are fairly typical:

        Terrified jackboot licking supplier (hereafter TJLS):

        TJLS: “I’ll need a name and address.”

        Me: “Certainly. It’s Bigfoot…that’s just one word, and I live in the woods.”

        TJLS: “And your last name?”
        Me: “No last name. Its just Bigfoot. Like Prince.”

        TJLS: “I’m sorry Mr Bigfoot, but we have to have that last name. Or we can’t complete the transaction. The gummint says so. We have to do what they say or they’ll try to kidnap us at gunpoint and put us in a cage.”

        Me: “Well, I understand that. Some folks would like to put *me* in a cage too. Fine. Just put Obama. That’s my family name. My sister Michelle will vouch for me. She lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Its a white house…gates, guards.”

        TJLS: Very Good , Mister Obama.

        Me: “Please. Just call me Bigfoot, if its all the same to you.”

  12. It’s long past time we enacted laws to punish usurpation.


  13. DEA now in the pocket of Big Filter (as in, the filters used by outdoorsmen to purify water).

    Sure, iodine is pretty old school, and does nothing against chemical contaminants, but I always pack some in case of filter failure.

    1. I hear those filters can be used in meth production…

  14. Now thats what I am talking abotu dude. WOw.


  15. Now he can collect welfare instead, which is what government really wants. They want him and his girlfriend to be dependent on them.

    1. U know what Colin…they’re NOT eligible for Welfare.

      1. Social Security/Medicare benefits
      2. They probably show profit in their private business.

      The DEA/IRS is just going to tell these ‘old farts’ to go move in with their kids/grandchildren.

      What a great way to treat our elders. We most me the only culture in recent human history that treats its elders like shit.

      1. We didn’t invent the welfare state. We just got farther along than any other attempt.

  16. This is great news for smugglers, sort of like reverse protectionism. The DEA: Making the border more dangerous every day.

  17. !!! KEEP DOPE ALIVE !!!

    That is ridiculous. I love the way the DEA writes these people off as mere collateral-damage of the DRUG WAR. And, they are very selective. There are many other products that can be OUTLAWED that are used to manufacture weapons, drugs, etc. They ALWAYS GO AFTER THE LITTLE GUY that can’t fight back.

    1. Rather than go after an old guy for making things that might be used to manufacture meth, why not go after the ATF which, you know… SOLD WEAPONS to Mexican drug cartels. Wouldn’t that be a better use of their resources?

  18. Nyah, nyah!

  19. Where is the tipping point?

    Are we there yet?


    1. Well, people aren’t willing to fight back against police abuse and outright murder in the inner cities – after all, it’s only happening to, you know, *THOSE* people, right? And you still get to keep your guns! Plus they seem to have no problem with being searched and treated like dangerous criminals just to get on an airplane – after all, gotta keep fighting that there war on terra, right? And you still get to keep your guns (except on the plane)! They also don’t have a problem with government warrantless wiretapping, cameras everywhere on the streets (and soon in your home) – after all, you’ve no expectation of privacy outside, and if you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear. And you still get to keep your guns! So, no my friend, we aren’t there yet. And probably won’t be until long after it’s too late.

      But I bet even then…Big Brother will still let us keep our guns!

  20. Its not like crystal iodine is hard to make.


    1. Thanks Easy. That video is a piss.

  21. Man, and I had just gotten interested in building a solar-pumped iodine laser.

    *despondently kicks can down the street*

    1. “Obama’s DOJ Quashes Green Energy Research.”

  22. I have some of these polar pure tablets. Keep them in my b.o.b. Tested them out once, worked fine. Good product.

  23. “If Mr. Wallace is no longer in business he has perhaps become part of that collateral damage, for it was not a result of DEA regulations, but rather the selfish actions of criminal opportunists. Individuals that readily sacrifice human lives for money.”

    “Whereas we, the DEA, we destroy millions of lives *out of our kindness*”

  24. “These are the same knotheads that make you take your shoes off in the airport.”

    To hell with his business. We need this guy in the White House.

  25. Good work boys, KGB would be proud

  26. Shit. I’ve got a Polar Pure iodine water-treatment kit. I’d be worried I’ll be put on a list, if I wasn’t sure I’m already on one.
    (Bought it last month. Just in time, as it turns out.)

    1. The Boy Scouts use them all the time. Tastes better than those tablets and is a lot lighter than a filter. Philmont sells the damn things at base camp…those scouts, HUGE drug traffickers you know.

      1. A radical militia, complete with organization and uniforms.

  27. Iodine crystals, Iocaine powder. Really who can tell the difference?

  28. How idiotic must the drug war become before ordinary people, who don’t much care about civil liberties, decide that enough is enough?

    Why is there an “ATF”? Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms are all legal substances, at least they were last night when I went to bed.

  29. Individuals that readily sacrifice human lives for money.”

    Unlike the noble public servants of the Justice Department, who readily sacrifice human lives for promotions and political gain.

  30. I hope the DEA is closely tracking Boy Scouts with chemistry sets. Some of those maniacal desperadoes even dabble in ROCKETRY. The Boy Scouts are plainly developing WMD, and must be stopped. Those resourceful little bastards will be the ruination of this great land.

    1. Not only that.

      We have (shudder) Islamic Boy Scouts in our midst!

      1. There is only one thing about Scouts that I would change. Understand that it isnt because I hate “teh gaze” or “girls are icky” or because I believe in FSM, I support their right to exclude based on their three criteria.

        BUT they proudly laud thier Congressional Charter. If I were President of the BSA I would publicly shred then burn that thing. Some day it will come back to bite them.

  31. Get your ass up, Dunphy. CRIME, horrible evil CRIME is taking place. I know you don’t make the law, but dammit, octogenarians are ruining society with benign chemicals. How can you just sit there?


  32. You don’t have a hungry dog, do you?

  33. What I can’t wrap my mind around here is the DEA’s so-called “justification”. How is that any different then a soldier in Iraq mowing down a crowd of innocent bystanders while targeting an insurgent, then claiming that said bystanders are simply “collateral damage” and that the insurgents are purely the ones to blame?

    Ridiculous. In retrospect, it’s pointless for anyone to even point out such things since the DEA obviously already knows how retarded they are.

    1. How is that any different then a soldier in Iraq mowing down a crowd of innocent bystanders while targeting an insurgent, then claiming that said bystanders are simply “collateral damage” and that the insurgents are purely the ones to blame?

      Why do you think that it is even intended to be different?

      Hell, it doesn’t even have to be Iraq, the DEA has made similar statements after murdering innocent Americans because they can’t even get house addresses right when performing illegal raids.

  34. So let me get this straight, I can walk into any convenience store and buy weapons and ammo, liquor and smokes and there’s barely so much as an ID check. But iodine is restricted. I’m sorry, but stupid is as stupid does and y’all are some of the stupidest animals on the planet.

  35. he should just make his own iodine from the tincture. totally possible using chemistry.

  36. “‘If Mr. Wallace is no longer in business he has perhaps become part of that collateral damage, for it was not a result of DEA regulations, but rather the selfish actions of criminal opportunists.'”

    This sounds like bank robber, holding a hostage while talking to a cop: “Put your gun down. If you don’t put it down, I’m gonna have to shoot this guy. It’s up to you officer, if he lives or dies.”

    The hell it is, in either scenario.

  37. Meth should be legal anyway. If people really want to destroy their health by abusing drugs, why shouldn’t they be allowed to do that?

    Besides, meth was once prescribed by doctors. Anyone remember the song Mother’s Little Helper? Y’all don’t think that was a Pez, do you?

  38. Hi, we’re the DEA, no we’re not gay, but yes we like buttsex. Mostly because we were badly bullied as children, due to our low IQ, crossed eyes, bad haircuts, or eye boogers. Who knows why we was picked on, though? Could be anything.

    Anywho, that stuck in our little immature brains, so now we compensate by bullying others. We get to carry guns. Its really neat. This is my report on being a DEA agent.

  39. If they are going to declare war on elements, then why pick on Iodine. Chromium and Copper have irregular electron shells. And Dunphy can tell you that irregular = suspicious = illegal = probable cause = dead dogs and people = procedures were followed.

    Pre 1982 pennies are next. Don’t posses them if you have dogs in the house.

  40. F-U, DEA!

  41. “[snip] the selfish actions of criminal opportunists. Individuals that readily sacrifice human lives for money.”

    Gotta love Barbara Carreno…see what she’s doing right here? Toting the same bullshit government propaganda since the drug war started; that all drug users are “selfish” and the scum of the earth, and subsequently don’t value human life. It may have been acceptable back in the 80s to say such things, but no longer in 2011. How D.A.R.E. you treat human beings this way?

    I don’t see how Barbara can be that fascist, judgmental and cynical, and actually believe that just because someone chooses to make up their own mind regarding the substances they put into their own body, that they’re automatically selfish and don’t value human life.

    Barbara, you don’t own my body, and neither does the DEA or any part of the US government. You don’t know me; you don’t live my life and you certainly don’t care who I am or how I feel.

    Who the FUCK are you to tell me what substances are okay to put into my body and what substances aren’t?

    It’s perfectly fine to drink and smoke (tobacco) myself to death though, right?

    Oh, but for tobacco and alcohol I guess I can make my own decisions; even though both of these substances have caused more harm to more people than every single DEA Schedule I,II,III, and IV controlled substance — combined.

    Furthermore, your organization promotes the *unscientific* conclusion that marijuana has “no medical value,” despite the numerous research studies that say otherwise, AND the fact that medical marijuana has been “legalized” by 16 states as well as Washington, DC.

    I don’t get how Barbara and people like her can rationalize their jobs and lives, and actually believe the nonsense bullshit they spew out of their mouths.

    This article makes me sick, and I really feel for Mr. Wallace and his girlfriend — especially now; at a time when their government has let all of us down economically, and has shat over all of our personal freedoms.

  42. You know methamphetamine isn’t even a banned substance? It is actually schedule 2 and still prescribed, although very rarely, for narcolepsy.

  43. Its funny because one of the primary ingredients of meth is pseudo-ephedrine and this is not found naturally. It is also not easy to synthesize. There are only 2 main factories where this stuff is produced (one in Mexico and one in SE Asia), or something like that. The problem is factories are owned by Big Pharm (as opposed to this poor guy).

  44. I used to use polar pure in the Boy Scouts and I have been looking for some because I want to take up camping again. Now I know why I can’t find it anywhere. It was a truly great product, one bottle would purify water for about ten years. I wish I didn’t lose my old one.

  45. The bottom line is that every single argument in favor of drug prohibition also applies to alcohol and tobacco.
    Let’s say the DEA is right, and that every argument they have in favor of drug prohibition is right, and they’re doing the right thing by making drugs illegal. If any one of them either smokes cigarettes or drinks alcohol at any time; they are 100% hypocrites and don’t deserve to be taken seriously about the issue. How much you wanna bet they serve alcohol at DEA fund raiser events?

    Alcohol is the number one drug in the country when it comes to teen use and car accidents and needing to go to rehab, as well as criminal matters.

    If they actually believe everything they say regarding drug prohibition, they should also be fighting to prohibit alcohol and tobacco — if not, they are 100% hypocrites.

    Stop being SELFISH, DEA, please save me and my family from the evil alcohol and tobacco companies — my grandma has emphysema. What are you going to do about it?

  46. Fucking first world problems but yes somebody said this earlier this guy should be in office. I aggree, cant be any worse then what we have had so far.

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