When found, these labs must be dismantled by people wearing hazardous material suits." (Halperin 2006-page 1)
With the huge budget allocated to Homeland Security, many of the tech-savvy drug producers and dealers can be tracked and busted with the same type of weaponry they use to create the drug product in the first place. Homeland Security's budget allows for the purchase and training for officials. This training allows them the capabilities to combat the ever increasing sophistry of the drug dealers.
That a high percentage of the crystal meth drug dealers also consume their product is another potentially dangerous situation. The drug itself can lead to paranoia and psychological problems and if the drug dealer is ingesting the drug the result is that many times the environment in which the drug is being produced is one of great volatility, both due to the nature of the chemicals themselves as well as the personalities of the people producing it.
Using crystal meth can cause drastic changes in an individual's character, causing many individual users of the drug to experience dramatic mood changes, violent rages and psychotic episodes.
Using crystal meth also affects more than just the user, the producer or the seller of the product. It also affects friends, families, co-workers and associates, as well as innocent bystanders and the authorities.
Some experts believe that law enforcement agencies should show more attention to the victims of drug related crimes, than what is currently shown. One expert, Thomas a. Constantine, a 39-year veteran in active law enforcement at the local, state and federal level, stated in a recent speech that in his experience, law enforcement officers (dedicated to drug distribution) spend 99% of their time searching out and arresting those individuals involved in the selling and distribution of drugs, and only one percent of the time on the victims of those crimes.
He said; "The area of this work ranges from street level dealers who may make $500 per day, to mid-level crime bosses who make $500,000 per year, to the pinnacle Mafia leaders in Columbia or Mexico who literally make hundreds of millions of dollars per year in drug profits from their organizations. Unfortunately, there are real victims who suffer from these drug sales. These victims are individuals who become addicted to drugs, individuals who die as a result of overdosing on drugs, family members who are neglected and abused, and neighborhoods that are destroyed." (Constantine 2000-page 687)
Constantine feels that if law enforcement agencies were given more leeway to go after low-level drug users and dealers that the overall crime rate would decline.
He also believes that there would be far fewer victims to the crimes related to the drug use that is so prevalent. The figures he espoused in his speech would bear out such a statement.
He said; "Now, I can't tell you what an index crime costs -- I mean there are government costs, personal costs, hospital costs, and intangibles I don't know if you could put a price tag on. But if you put a moderate tag of $1,000 per crime then, in essence, you have saved $750 million if you can reduce 750,000 index crimes. To this day -- in fact I talked about this with the former Dean of the School of Criminal Justice -- nobody has studied this New York City experience, which is probably one of the great social experiments over the last 30 or 40 years in reducing crime and making people's lives a little bit more bearable." (Constantine 2000-page 687).
Constantine was speaking about the lower crime rate experienced by New York City over a five-year time frame when more police were hired, and they were given the admonition to search out and obliterate all drug related crimes, from the street level up to the organized crime level. The program worked in a tremendous fashion, with all crime levels throughout the city from 1993-1998 declining in a dramatic fashion. Constantine also used the city of Baltimore as an example of the exact opposite approach, having the exact opposite results. A former mayor of the city of Baltimore told the public that the police would no longer arrest individuals or groups involved in small scale drug crimes.
In essence, the mayor told the public that it was a complete waste of time to do so. Since that time Baltimore has lost nearly 1200 citizens per month who have moved out to find safer climes. The crime rate has shot up as has drug abuse, addiction and distribution. Statistics now show that there "is one heroin addict for every 17 people in the City of Baltimore. So, when you take out elderly people and very young people, you can see the focus and what the costs are in the City, particularly healthcare costs, criminal justice costs and the impact on that particular community." (Constantine 2000-page 687)
Baltimore was, in essence, implementing a program called 'harm reduction'. Needless to say, that according to Constantine (and the figures bear him out) such a program was a complete failure.
Having seen what is successful, and observing what was not, it would seem that what Constantine was touting would make a lot more sense for most communities than what the mayor of Baltimore was touting. A realistic problem that his proposal does not take into account is that many of the small towns in which meth labs seem to proliferate do not have the resources to combat such proliferation.
Constantine provided a possible solution to that problem by emphasizing the fact that there are national level groups that will come in to train and work with local authorities. The Drug Enforcement Agency is one organization that provides those services and they have been quite effective in their efforts.
That program can be a relatively short-lived option or one that can last upwards of a full year. The problem still remains of having the resources to continue their efforts even after such a training program is implemented. It may make sense therefore to publicize the effectiveness of this, and similar programs, since the long-term results seem to justify the short-term costs.
Constantine is not the only one that sees the potential of tracking down and arresting all individuals regarding drug related crimes. The Bureau of Justice published a report that showed the incidence of crimes related to drugs. The report shows "that 60% of all individuals imprisoned for burglary or robbery indicated that they abused drugs at least one month prior to their arrest, and that 40% were under the influence of drugs at the point in time when they committed the crime." (Constantine 200-page 687)
Other studies provide more positive fodder for Constantine's remarks. A recent study conducted by economist Steven D. Levitt indicated that "increases in police forces in large cities are concentrated in mayoral and gubernatorial election years. Thus, changes in crime rates during such years provide an independent measure of the impact of police on crime. Levitt's analysis of data from 59 cities from 1970 to 1992 indicates that adding a police officer eliminates about 8 to 10 serious crimes in a year." (Koretz 1995-page 26)
If adding a police officer eliminates 8 to 10 serious crimes, and a cost of approximately $5,000 per crime (all costs; including expenses dealing with courts, jails and treatments) is affixed to each crime, it would be a tremendous savings.
Based on those savings, it would make sense that hiring more cops would definitely be cost effective, even for small town and rural areas of the country. The key would be, therefore, to publicize such findings, in order to convince the citizenry of the necessity of adding more police officers as well as the taxes needed to pay the costs of doing so.
There are many times when the law enforcement officials are handcuffed as to their efforts to free certain areas of drug related crimes. One such example would be in Edmonton, Canada when police attempted a number of times to force drug dealers from a fortified rental property that was known as a very popular drug supply house.
Edmonton police tried for years to shut down the Fortress, a heavily barricaded inner-city drug den owned by an absentee landlord. After numerous raids, the Fortress is now reportedly out of commission." (Verburg 1994-page 18)
In response to the difficulties faced by the police to shut down the known drug den, a law was passed that required absentee landlords to purchase a renewable license for $33 that would allow the police to pull the license for certain houses (making them un-rentable) if suspected drug dealings were taking place at the residence. The problem with such an approach is that (at least initially) the landlords saw it only as an additional tax. Since there were only a suspected 12-24 houses (out of over 16,000 rental properties) that were suspected of housing drug activities, the landlords were probably right to suspect such a thing…