Pubdate: Fri, 26 Jul 2002
Source: News-Sentinel, The (Fort Wayne, IN)
Copyright: 2002 The News-Sentinel
Author: Bob Ray Sanders
Note: Bob Ray Sanders is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.


(KRT) - Back in the 1980s it was common for some law enforcement officer 
from a local department or a special task force to call up TV stations and 
invite them on a drug raid.

Reporters and cameramen jumped at the ready-made story, knowing they would 
have good "film at 11" because they would have easy access to people and 
places ordinarily out of reach.

It didn't take long to figure out that the targets of most of these arrests 
were people in low-income areas, who didn't know their rights - which 
include ordering a reporter off of their private property - and whom the 
rest of society frankly didn't care about.

So, there were many nights when the cameras followed SWAT teams as they 
rammed an apartment door, pulled suspects (sometimes clothed only in their 
underwear) out of bed, forced them to the floor and later to a waiting 
police car or van.

At house after house, the scenes replayed themselves as reporters repeated 
the police message to the public about ridding our streets of drugs and 
making the community safer.

There was always a second-day story, for there was usually a news 
conference the next day when reporters were told how many people had been 
arrested and charged in the roundup, and how much drugs had been seized in 
the process.

The drugs were always given a "street value" so the public could rest a 
little easier that night knowing so much had been taken off the street. It 
didn't matter that for every ounce of heroin or cocaine seized during those 
raids, even more was back on the streets before the news conference began.

At one point, I told my staff at KERA that we would not go on any more of 
the drug busts unless they were in other parts of town, like North Dallas 
and in downtown buildings.

But I did go to another news conference where the members of the 
interagency drug task force announced the arrest of the "drug kingpin" in 
Fort Worth, Billy Ray Maddox.

It had taken years of investigation and lots of people and money to get a 
figure - who was "not" the kingpin, by the way - already well- known to 
many in the city for more than 20 years.

The announcement was not all there was to the news conference. There would 
be an impressive show-and-tell component.

Because Maddox was a drug dealer, law officials said, the drug agencies had 
the right to confiscate most of his possessions, including several businesses.

Reporters were given addresses and maps of those businesses. Then we were 
taken to a room and shown tables that contained some drugs and several 
thousand dollars in cash and jewelry, all neatly placed in plastic bags.

The government, under our tough new drug laws, was taking those items 
because presumably they had been bought with drug money.

We were escorted to the top of a downtown parking garage where there was a 
long line of luxury and sports automobiles that would now belong to the 
government, and soon would be driven by "narcs" as their new undercover 

Maddox and several of his cohorts were convicted in federal court, and in 
addition to losing his personal possessions, he lost his freedom for life.

But I wasn't planning to talk here about Maddox and drugs.

I really want to talk about all those crooks who have made off with 
millions, perhaps billions of dollars, and who have since cost investors in 
this country more than a trillion dollars in some of the biggest corporate 
scandals in history.

The president is outraged and the Congress is angry, so much so that they 
want to stiffen the penalties for this kind of fraud, maybe even increasing 
the jail time as much as 10 or 20 years in prison.

Wow! They must really be upset.

Most of the corporate scoundrels will never go to jail. Those who do will 
not see anything close to life imprisonment. And the best part of all, 
they'll still get to keep basically everything they stole while continuing 
to live the American dream.

Isn't this country wonderful?
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