In west Georgia, drug offenses take up a large portion of the criminal dockets. Many of these cases involve the sale, distribution or trafficking of illegal narcotics.
Regardless of the varying opinions of the “War on Drugs” or whether marijuana should be legal, there is an undeniable reality to this form of enterprise. It does not work in the long term.
People get involved in selling drugs for a number of different reasons. The number one reason is for financial gain. However, I have not found a single case where a person can illegally sell drugs and achieve a positive financial gain in the long run. Here is why.
At first, a person may be able to sell drugs for a reasonable period of time with no problems. Drugs are fairly easy to obtain and there is certainly a strong demand, particularly for methamphetamine. This can give that person a sense of security and comfort. However, as with any business, the goal is to obtain as many customers as possible. The more customers, the more profits.
As the dealer engages in this activity for a longer period of time with more and more customers, he or she will eventually appear on the radar of local law enforcement.
The federal and state governments employ a vast network of drug enforcement agents to combat the illegal sale of narcotics. Tremendous resources are poured into this effort. Additionally, these agents are well trained and generally plan their investigations methodically and patiently.
One of the most important tools to stop drug dealing in west Georgia is the use of the confidential informant (CI). The CI is typically a person who has criminal charges that they are trying to “work off” by cooperating with police or is a paid informant making money by assisting in drug investigations.
Most people engaged in drug dealing will do it out of their home. However, law enforcement officers cannot simply raid a person’s home without a search warrant or other limited exceptions to the warrant rule. They must build a case. This is where the use of the CI is so effective. When a dealer builds a significant number of users, he or she has no idea whether the users are just at the home to purchase drugs for personal use or if they are working for law enforcement.
When a dealer gets on the radar of drug agents, they will start to build a case to obtain a search warrant for the home. Sooner or later, a CI will come in and purchase drugs from the dealer. When that happens, the transaction is usually recorded by audiotape, monitored by agents nearby, and evidence is collected. CI buys, coupled with other information supplied in the search warrant affidavit, will oftentimes result in a valid search warrant.
Once the search warrant is executed and the defendant is arrested, he or she will be facing serious felony charges. Prison time is a real possibility. Additionally, the defendant is taken away from his or her family, has lost the ability to work, may be on probation for a period of time, becomes a convicted felon, and must pay thousands of dollars in fines, fees, court costs, attorney’s fees, probation fees, etc.
It is a fact that sooner or later a drug dealer will get caught. The consequences of getting caught are far too great. Short term profits are not worth the risk. The math simply does not work out over time.
Most importantly, drug dealing activity poisons our community and destroys the lives of many users and their families. The dealer’s short-term enterprise creates a long line of suffering for others that often leads straight to the gates of death.
Swindle is a local attorney at law.