Civil Liberties

Illinois Cops Give Family Ten Minutes Between Delivery of Mysterious Marijuana Package and No-Knock Drug Raid


According to the Lake County News-Sun, last Friday a family in the village of Beach Park, Illinois was given a ten minute window between the postal delivery of a mysterious, unsolicited package — said to contain marijuana — and a no-knock drug raid that involved the family tied up, with guns pointed at their faces, while their home was ransacked by police.

Paul Brown, the source of the story, claims that the police destroyed property, and, says the article, "even pull[ed] out insulation in the basement." Brown, who lived at the residence with his wife, daughter, son-in-law, the son in law's brother, and Brown's 77-year-old mother-in-law says he was working in the basement when a loud noise startled him and he walked upstairs to find cops breaking into his home, in spite of his open garage door. Cops pointed their guns in his face, cuffed Brown, made him sit in a chair and refused to answer questions as to what they were doing. 

What police with the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group were doing, besides emptying drawers and "smash[ing] things and crash[ing] things" was assuming that the family knew about the apparently illicit content of the package addressed to someone who didn't live in the house. Brown says he didn't see the name, or even get a good look at the package which, says his son-in-law had the name "Oscar" and some other last name. The address was correct. Brown's son-in-law had just signed for accepted the package and left it, unopened, beside the front door. 

The cops apparently had a warrant for Brown's address, except that it was listed as Waukegan, which is one of the two townships that contains Beack Park. Waukegan is nearly five miles to the south of Beach Park, though, according to Google maps.

Says the Lake County News-Sun, Brown found the whole experience to be traumatic:

"It's pretty shadowy and pretty bizarre for us," he said of the two-hour ordeal that began around 4 p.m. Friday. "I was terrified. My chest was hurting and I am a diabetic and prone to heart attacks."

Watching the officers fist bump and high-five each other as they tracked broken glass from the front door through the house also irritated him.

"I was basically held hostage," he said.

His 77-year-old mother-in-law also lives with them and she was in the kitchen when the raid happened. Police gave her the search warrant to read instead of giving it to Brown.

"We live a very simple life," he said, "We all work. No one does drugs here." His son-in-law works in general construction and his brother works for a security firm.

"They were upset they didn't find anything. When I asked them who was going to pay for the door they basically said, 'Not us'," said Brown, who noted the door on his luxury home was valued at $3,000 some 12 years ago and the lock set was another $130 from Home Depot.

Brown also says his mother's blood pressure has been high since the raid, and the whole family is having trouble relaxing. The family's call to the police department have gone unreturned, and they have gotten a lawyer who is is looking into filing a civil suit.

Calls from the Lake County News-Sun and from Reason have so far gone unreturned as well.

At first glance, this case is reminiscent of what happened to Berwyn Heights, Maryland Mayor Cheye Calvo who had a package of unsolicited marijuana delivered to his home in 2008. Calvo was encouraged by his grim experience, which included  police killing his two pet dogs, to start advocating for more accountability and oversight with the use of SWAT teams. The Prince George's County Police raid on Calvo's home was ruled legitimate.