The Herald Bulletin

September 5, 2012

Editorial: Drug raids, seemingly costly, are step in right direction

— Nearly 300 federal agents recently spread out across Indiana to stop a statewide drug operation involving prison inmates and resulting in the arrest of 40 people.

A common response was heard from the public: do we need to invest that much time, money and FBI manpower to cut down on drug trafficking inside prisons? Is this such a huge problem that it couldn’t be stopped with more efficient monitoring by prison officials?

This drug operation goes to the heart of what we’re paying prison guards and administrators to prevent — the continuation of illegal activities by criminals in prison.

The tentacles of this system indicated a well-oiled manufacturing machine. Inmates, led by murderer Oscar Perez, were able to sneak cellphones into prisons, assisted by some guards. Pendleton Correctional Facility was among those housing ring members. By using cellphones, inmates could conduct their drug operation including methamphetamine, LSD and PCP from California and heroin from Chicago. The drugs were moved along Interstates 65 and 94 between Indiana and Illinois.

There was a time, dating back to the Nixon era, when America was in a “war on drug abuse.” Of various USA social battles, the fight against drug abuse was, and is, best conducted with raids and arrests of drug lords and their soldiers.

By 2011, a 19-member international commission declared the war un-winnable. The approach has turned to helping those with an addiction combined with law enforcement reducing the supply of drugs with hopes of limiting demand.

The recent Indiana raids are a step in that direction. Using 300 agents is not a waste of effort or money. Such raids are an efficient way to stem the overwhelming tide of dangerous drugs coming into our communities.

These raids were not a simple crackdown on drug use inside Indiana prisons. The seemingly easy-to-detect smuggling of cellphones into a prison can lead to extremely serious crimes. So we should not take lightly these cases when the state police report those kinds of arrests.

In a larger sense, the raids showed a unified effort by the FBI, the Indiana Department of Correction and other law enforcement officials to strike at the head of a major drug operation that reached far beyond prison walls.