Boston Marathon Bombing

Did the Culture that Feeds the Drug War Help Lead to Boston Bombing?

If the police hadn't botched the investigation of the murder of some drug dealers, would the bombing have even happened?

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Ibragim Todashev
Orange County Booking Photo

Following the Boston Marathon Bombing, FBI agents ended up investigating the possibility that one of the alleged bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, now deceased, may have also been involved in a triple homicide in 2011 possibly connected to the drug trade. Their investigation put them in connection with a friend of Tsarnaev's named Ibragim Todashev, also apparently a suspect in this triple homicide.

But we may never know the truth, as FBI agents shot him to death during an interview in May 2013 and have been concealing the details of what happened on that fateful day. Now in a detailed long piece in Boston Magazine, a journalist who knew one of the victims of the triple homicide attempts to put together the chain of events from the trio's killing to the FBI's post-bombing efforts, which appear to involve forcing anybody who knew Todashev out of the country.

A few useful nuggets from Susan Zalkind's piece:

  • Of the three victims of an extremely gory homicide from 2011, at least two were drug dealers. Police naturally assumed their careers were involved and interrogated friends and family. Zalkind notes: "Then there were leads that the detectives seemed to ignore. They never visited the Wai Kru gym in Allston, where Brendan [Mess, one of the men killed] practiced mixed martial arts several times a week, according to gym owner John Allan. They never spoke to his training partner and best friend, Golden Gloves champion Tamerlan Tsarnaev, even though several friends gave the police his name in a list of Brendan's closest contacts."
  • The police at that time didn't seem to feel much pressure to solve the case. Ten days after their bodies were found, the mother of one of the victim's was told the detectives weren't actively pursuing leads anymore and were waiting for somebody down the line to offer up potential information to get a plea bargain for something else.
  • Thus Zalkind suggests, "If Waltham police had figured out who hacked three men to death on September 11, 2011, there's a good chance we would not be talking about the Boston Marathon bombings. Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Ibragim Todashev might be alive and in jail. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev might be just another mop-headed, no-name stoner at UMass Dartmouth. There would be no One Fund. Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, and Martin Richard would still be alive. Sean Collier would have graduated from the MIT police department to the Somerville Police Department by now. And for the friends and family of the three men who died in Waltham, perhaps their grief would not still be paired with such haunting questions."

Read Zalkind's full piece here, and take note of the FBI's post-bombing behavior. Ibraham's roommate/girlfriend was deported, and she claims it was because she spoke to Boston Magazine. Furthermore, when Ibraham was still alive and FBI was tracking him, they apparently watched as he got into a violent fight in a parking lot and didn't do a thing.

While we still don't know for sure why the drug dealers were killed, it's always worth a reminder that a certain amount of violence in the drug trade is a direct result of its black market status. Whatever disagreement may have led to this violence, if it involved drugs, the men couldn't go to the law for help. And even after they got murdered, the police didn't seem to care enough to make solving the case a top priority.

Who cares what happens to a couple of drug dealers, right?

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  1. …the mother of one of the victim’s was told the detectives weren’t actively pursuing leads anymore and were waiting for somebody down the line to offer up potential information to get a plea bargain for something else.

    Actual police work is hard. Now, let’s go shut down a rub and tug.

    1. Now, let’s go shut down a rub and tug.

      We should probably go undercover, just to, you know, make sure.

  2. Procedures were followed.

    Nothing to see here.

  3. Susan Zalkind did an hour long radio version of the article for This American Life too:

    http://www.thisamericanlife.or…..l-no-tales

  4. Susan Zalkind did an hour long radio version of the article for This American Life too:

    http://www.thisamericanlife.or…..l-no-tales

  5. Susan Zalkind did an hour long radio version of the article for This American Life too:

    http://www.thisamericanlife.or…..l-no-tales

    1. Why does Reason have so much trouble running a simple blog comment section?

      1. The squirrels around three o’clock are especially fierce.

  6. My guess is they didn’t pursue Tamerlan for the triple murder because he was on their payroll at the time.

    1. Is it really that insane to wonder if the FBI had Tamerlan set up in a terrorism sting with Todashev being the the go between and somewhere along the line the FBI screwed up and missed how far along Tamerlan was in building his bomb.

      Then when the bombing happened they burned the files and killed Todashev to cover their asses?

      1. You can’t not consider the idea that they may have been working on Tamerlan for one of their big media event terrorist busts. The idea that they asked Boston to identify a perp they already had an address for was very strange.

  7. You mean the cops conduct their investigations not based upon the crime that was committed, but upon who the crime was committed against?

    Principals trump principles?

    Who’d a thunk it?

  8. One odd thing about the drug murders is that the pot was just scattered around the scene instead of being taken. IIRC there was even cash left behind. In other words, not your typical drug-dealer murders.

    1. It’s possible the murders were probably religiously motivated.

      Killing drug dealing apostates or some shit.

      1. Exactly my point. The police should have looked at the evidence and thought: “Hhhmmm, there’s something funny here….”

  9. it’s always worth a reminder that a certain amount of the violence in the drug trade is a direct result of its black market status.

    Adding unnecessary squish to a plain statement of fact doesn’t really help make your point, you know.

  10. Probably best not to fault the police too hard for phoning it in. I prefer cops lazy to over-zealous. It’s not like they knew a priori that earnest investigation into a few murders would prevent a terrorist attack. Imagine the effect on civil liberties if police were pressured into pretending that every felony investigation could unravel a terror plot.

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