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by Peter Moskos

April 6, 2008

Ambitious Assult, Limited Victory

The New York Times has an excellent article by Michael Brick on a large police operation meant to get drugs out of the Cypress Hills project. Guess what, there are still drugs in Cypress Hills.

In many ways, it's great police work (and conceivable right of The Wire). A five-month investigation, undercover officers moving into the projects and pretending they're junkies. A tough prosecutor expanding the definition of conspiracy. Hundreds of arrests. Bad guys put in jail. It's all good. Sort of.

If I lived in Cypress Hill, I would want such police work. As longs are drug selling is unregulated and run by obnoxious, rude, and violent criminals I would want police trying their hardest. And yet I would also know the futility of the war on drugs in the long run.

The raids happened in 2002. It takes years for this this stuff to work its way through the court. The projects are still rough. One man is quoted as saying that today things are "not perfect, but better." That's good, but not good enough. We need to set our sights higher.

The whole article is worth reading.

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