A successful failure? 

August news bulletin: 29 arrested during a drug raid in Clinton. Yippee!


After the raid, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics director was quoted in a press release, saying, "I believe that the ripple effect after the MOT (Mobile Operations Team) unit has conducted an operation will have a paralyzing presence because drug violators will not know if or when they are actually selling to a state narcotic agent."


Yeah! After reading words like that, we can feel that there is a light at the end of the tunnel; the drug war is nearing an end. But, wait.


I remember a report from the bureau regarding the MOT " made up of undercover OBN agents, who target suspected dealers " after a raid in Payne County in May. Again quoting the director, OBN's press release stated "that the ripple effect after the MOT unit has conducted an operation will have a paralyzing presence."


Flash back to April's methamphetamine raid in southeastern Oklahoma. OBN announced it "sent a profound message to any and all remaining drug dealers," per a Dallas official. After a January raid in Bartlesville, the bureau again proclaimed a "paralyzing presence." In fact, way back in November 1996, after a drug sweep in Ardmore, OBN warned in a news story the effort was "going to send a message that if they sell in Ardmore, we're going to be watching, and we'll come get them."


Do you see a pattern? Apparently, low-level drug dealers don't read the newspaper or watch the 10 o'clock news. And, those who do probably are lined up, waiting for an opening, dreaming about getting a greater share of the staggering profits in the drug industry.


This all leads to the question: Are all the OBN raids and press releases just tools to fan public anxiety and ply more taxpayer money into a "Whac-a-Mole" policy? "Whac-a-Mole": I can hear the critics already responding to that, saying, "This is not a game; this is a battle to stop the immoral acts of bad people," and "The undercover work is a critical tool in reducing the local availability of drugs."


However, in reality, it appears that all these raids are merely performance art designed to muster up continued funding at the state and federal levels. Not to mention, the raids also help the politicians who fund the anti-drug effort to get re-elected, and the drug kingpins to continue to rake in more money, as demand increases as drugs are taken off the street.


One has to ask, is the government's century-old drug policy a failure or a success? Well, it depends on who is looking at the results. On one hand, we can call it a success. The policy did succeed in the creation of large bureaucracies, an ever-increasing expenditure of tax dollars, an outpouring of publicity and the creation of at least two multibillion dollar industries that feed off each other.


A victory, but at whose expense? The cost goes way beyond money. For the last century, government officials have been telling the country's citizens that individuals cannot be trusted to make prudent or responsible decisions regarding drug-taking. They say, "Government knows best. We, the government, will use whatever force it takes to make you submit for your own good!" Thomas Jefferson and James Madison must be rolling over in their graves.


Stay tuned. OBN's agents are planning their next raid and next press release; drug users and dealers are repositioning.


Prawdzienski is an Edmond resident.


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