Sheriff’s Department Tries to Sell 60 Pounds of Meth, Gets Ripped Off…
What happens when the cops can’t find the drug dealers?
They create drug dealers to arrest – apparently, narcotics officers can just sell drugs to someone and then arrest them for buying drugs.
It looks like that’s what happened last week in Riverside County, California when undercover deputies tried to sell 60 pounds of meth to someone who took the drugs and ran.
When the Sheriff’s Department Sells Drugs to Dealers
The Riverside Sheriff’s Department must have been having a slow day when they decided to sell 60 pounds of meth to someone “in an attempt to identify drug traffickers:”
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) – A suspected drug trafficker is on the run with nearly 60 pounds (27 kilograms) of methamphetamine belonging to a California sheriff’s department after an undercover sting went wrong, authorities said.
The Press-Enterprise reported Friday that the Sheriff’s Department in Riverside County, southeast of Los Angeles, is now trying to get its drugs back.
Authorities set up the sting Wednesday in an attempt to identify drug traffickers. Undercover deputies met with the suspect for the drug sale, and the suspect later drove away, the newspaper reported.
Deputies from the gang task force then attempted to pull over the suspect, who refused to yield and sped off, the department said in a statement.
“Due to the high speeds and suspect’s disregard for public safety, deputies lost sight of the vehicle,” the statement said.
In response to an emailed request for comment sent by The Associated Press, the sheriff’s department declined to release additional details.
I guess Riverside’s narcotics officers aren’t necessarily the best drug dealers. Or the best cops – if they have to offer drugs for sale to find people to arrest.
And who decided to offer 60 pounds of meth for sale? Why not one pound? Or one gram?
The cop who decided to sell 60 pounds also decided what the suspect’s charges would be, didn’t he? Assuming they eventually arrest the person, the suspect will be charged with an astronomical amount of meth as if they were a cartel boss or drug smuggler.
Except they probably are not a cartel boss or drug smuggler, and they probably would never have had access to such a large quantity of drugs if the police had not made it available to them…
Is It Entrapment When the Sheriff’s Department Sells Drugs to Someone?
Maybe, but entrapment is hard to prove, even when it’s the Sheriff’s Department selling the drugs.
Under SC law (see, State v. Brown), a person who pleads entrapment must prove “that he was induced, tricked, or incited to commit a crime, which he would not otherwise have committed.”
There are two parts to that definition:
- The person was induced, tricked, or incited to commit the crime, and
- The person would not otherwise have committed the crime.
If an undercover sheriff’s deputy approaches me and wants to sell me 60 pounds of meth at a reduced value, that might qualify as “induced, tricked, or incited to commit the crime.” Because entrapment is an affirmative defense, the burden would be on me to prove it.
It’s not a high burden of proof – I would need to “produce more than a scintilla of evidence” that the government induced me to buy the meth.
Once I establish that I was induced to make the drug buy, “the burden shifts to the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was predisposed to commit the crime.” United States v. Sligh, 142 F.3d 761, 762 (4th Cir. 1998) (citations omitted).
How do they prove that?
They could call witnesses who testify as to their prior drug deals with me, showing that I am, in fact, a drug dealer who was predisposed to commit a crime like buying 60 pounds of meth.
These could be people who actually participated in drug deals with me, or, as in many cases, they could be defendants who have pending charges who will get a time cut for lying and saying that they participated in drug deals with me…
In either case, if the jury believes the witnesses, there is no entrapment.
Entrapment as to Weight
What about the fact that the sheriff’s department sold 60 pounds of meth to their suspect?
If I am someone who is predisposed to buy meth a gram at a time, but a sheriff’s deputy induces me to buy 60 pounds, that is still entrapment. The state will need to prove that I am truly a big-time drug trafficker who would buy 60 pounds of meth and not a small-time dealer who buys meth by the ounce or a user who buys meth by the gram, because it could make the difference between probation and decades in prison.
Either way, entrapment is a lazy way to make cases. Law enforcement should not be in the business of selling drugs or manufacturing crimes.
Suppose they had made the arrest – would they then issue a press release announcing how they took 60 pounds of meth and a dangerous criminal off the streets? Instead, they put 60 pounds of meth on the street and potentially created a dangerous criminal…
Criminal Defense Lawyers in Charleston, SC
Grant B. Smaldone is a criminal defense attorney in Charleston, SC who handles state and federal criminal defense cases.
If you’ve been charged with any crime in Charleston, SC, call now at (843) 808-2100 or send a message through our website to set up a free consultation about your case.