What the cops and all the other drug war proponents would tell you is that the cops are trying to keep people safe by putting these bad guys in jail. So, the millions of dollars in overtime pay and forfeiture proceeds are for all their hard work and dedication. Apparently, one sergeant even pulled in $240,000 in overtime in three-and-a-half years for a total compensation of $630,000.
They call them “reverse sting operations.” A traditional sting operation usually involves undercover cops and paid informants meeting to buy drugs from dealers and then busting the dealers immediately following the transaction. Instead, a reverse sting involves the police and paid informants selling drugs to would-be drug dealers and then arresting the purchaser and seizing his property and cash.
Florida’s Sun Sentinel exposed this money-making scheme following their 6-month investigation into the Sunrise Police Department’s tactics:
Undercover detectives and their army of informants lure big-money drug buyers into the city from across the United States, and from as far north as Canada and as far south as Peru. They negotiate the sale of kilos of cocaine in popular family restaurants, then bust the buyers and seize their cash and cars. Police confiscate millions from these deals, money that fuels huge overtime payments for the undercover officers who conduct the drug stings and cash rewards for the confidential informants who help detectives entice faraway buyers, a six-month Sun Sentinel investigation found. Police have paid one femme fatale informant more than $800,000 over the past five years for her success in drawing drug dealers into the city, records obtained by the newspaper show.
Now, before you start getting on to me for criticizing the police for “doing their job” and getting these criminals off the streets, understand that these people who are getting busted for dealing coke aren’t your typical drug dealers. The vast majority of them aren’t even local. The real drug dealers and lords are smart enough to stay away from these types of setups. So, the actual drug distributors will hire some desperate individual to broker the deal. Many times, the paid informant has to work hard to convince this person to hand off the cash and deliver the coke to the boss. One of these unfortunate desperate people was an unemployed real estate agent who declared bankruptcy in 2009. The Sun Sentinel reported:
Defense attorneys say the stings have swept up people who are not in the drug trade but are down on their luck, persuaded by informants to do a deal to earn fast money in hard times. Sunrise informants “tend to go after people who they know are in financial distress and they offer them a deal that they can’t resist,” said Broward defense attorney Kevin Kulik, who has represented defendants arrested in Sunrise stings. “They offer them the deal of a lifetime.”
Sunrise’s Mayor Michael Ryan blames the newspaper for exposing the police department’s tactics and “compromising” their undercover work. But if their goal is to “protect and serve,” they should all be OK with the newspaper’s revelations. Obviously, this bad press will keep drug dealers away from this city. Isn’t that a good thing? Surely it’s not just about the money.