Many drug-related media stories focus prominently on large-scale drug trafficking or possession with intent to distribute and involve drugs like heroin, crack cocaine and marijuana.
The central actors in such tales are often sophisticated and connected to extensive drug-manufacturing operations. Conspiracy and an organized criminal element is routinely suggested or featured, such as an international drug cartel. Please see our October 15 post entry on cartels and methamphetamine manufacturing and distribution for a representative story that recently received widespread media attention.
Other stories are flatly different and, in fact, represent the polar opposite where law enforcement efforts in combating drug crimes are concerned.
Consider the following, for example. In a story that features what one New York newspaper calls “some of the smallest of small-time drug dealers,” that city’s police department announced last week the arrest of 21 people — mostly students, drug dealers peddling tiny quantities of drugs, young professionals and a few other persons selling as few as a handful of pills — charged with advertising and selling their product through the online vehicle Craigslist.
Typically, a transaction involved the sale of as little as a single pill or two of a prescription pain-killing medicine such as Percocet or Roxycodone, which the seller took from his or her own prescribed meds or received from a relative or friend.
Although there is no disputing that such transactions are illegal, many news stories are stressing the dissonance between law enforcement’s ambitious and concerted efforts to stop the activity — which typically involve undercover sting operations and buys — and the small-time nature of both the defendants and the drug quantities involved.
Source: Fox news, “21 accused in New York of selling black-market pills on Craigslist,” Oct. 11, 2012