As if US drug laws weren’t already bafflingly punitive, here we have a prime example of another terrible method of enforcement. A few months ago, the owner of a head shop in Scotia, New York was arrested for possession of crack cocaine after being apprehended by an informant.
Except what actually happened is that the “informant,” (who was being paid for his services), just threw a baggie of crack on the counter and took a picture of it as “evidence.” Yeah, remember that Dave Chappelle bit about the cops sprinkling crack on black people? Totally a real thing!
Luckily, store owner Donald Andrews had security video of the entire thing. Despite having no prior record, Andrews faced up to 25 years on felony drug charges and spent three weeks in county jail before his lawyer got through to the grand jury with the exonerating footage. The incident didn’t really make waves until recently, as community groups and activist organizations are citing the case as evidence against the use of paid informants.
This particular paid informant has been used in seven other operations, two of which lead to convictions. The police were quick to assure reporters that no other cases were compromised, at least, “to the best of [his] knowledge,” but they can’t exactly conduct a full investigation, since the informant skipped town, and has yet to be apprehended. Way to go, Scotia, PD! Serve and protect!