Thursday, March 26, 2009

Throwing Away Money

San Diego continues to be a fun place to live. Even the "cops and robbers" events can be fun here.

An undercover police operation conducted a drug buying sting the other day near the downtown area. The putative buyers showed the undercover cops a bag full of money and then, for reasons that are unclear, the officers allowed the drug buyers to put the money back in their own car and everyone got in their cars and proceeded to drive to some other location. That seems like a strange way to conduct a drug bust to me, but presumably the undercover cops had their reasons.

In transit to the new location the undercover cops asked the San Diego police to pull the putative drug buyers over. Why they didn’t do so themselves is also unclear, but they asked the uniformed branch to do it and that’s when things started downhill, because SDPD attempted that feat with a singular lack of success.

A high speed freeway chase ensued, with the putative drug buyers fleeing from a dozen or more police cars and flinging cash out of the cars windows as fast as they could shovel it. Massive traffic jams resulted as drivers by the hundred jammed on their brakes and jumped out of their cars, on the freeways, to grab the cash. If that sounds like strange behavior to you, then you are obviously not from San Diego. We do much stranger things than that here.

Apparently the putative drug buyers intent was getting rid of evidence because, as soon as they had tossed the last of the cash out of their car they stopped, got out of their car and basically said, “Who us?”

No, I am not making this up.

The cops were pretty peeved. All of this chasing and yelling, screaming and pointing of guns, and all they had these guys for was fleeing from the police, which is a violation but not a very serious one. They had no evidence of anything more serious. You can’t buy drugs with good intentions (or bad ones, either), you need cash for that, and these guys had no cash. The evidence was scattered over many miles of freeway being scooped up by San Diego drivers.

Well, some of it was being scooped up by the police too, but they had quite a bit of competition from the general citizenry. Not to mention half a dozen low-hovering television helicopters were creating a draft which was helping to scatter the evidence hither and yon. Television coverage of the event was lengthy and priceless.

Between what the police scooped up and what has been turned in, about $40,000 has been recovered, but police claim that some $185,000 is still “unaccounted for.” (I actually think I can account for it in a general sort of way, but…) They want anyone who picked up any of the money to turn it in. Good luck with that. It is evidence in a criminal trial, officials say, and they need it for these pending trials.

No, really, you can't make this shit up.

I actually think that "We need it for evidence" thing is a little bogus. There is something called "chain of evidence" which is really battered beyond repair here. Are they really going to call several thousand citizens to the stand and expect the jury to believe each one of them saying, "Yeah, that's the twenty that I picked up on the freeway" months or years after the event? "Oh yeah, I would recognize that sawbuck anywhere." And yes, I'm sure I saw it blow out of the defendant's car window. Give me a break.

Officials are making vague threats about what will happen to people who don’t turn it in. People who keep it can be charged with several crimes, they say, including theft, tampering with evidence, possibly obstruction of justice or – get this – money laundering. Money laundering?

See, we don’t just have sun and sand, beautiful women and hunky lifeguards here on the lower end of the Left Coast.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:09 AM

    Priceless, indeed. I saw that on the TV news and was quite amused. Even more amused when I hear more (from you) and your narration besides. You are absolutely correct, sir, you can't make this shit up.