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Grass Arteries Squeezed

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Parent Issue
Day
20
Month
December
Year
1974
OCR Text

Marijuana suppliers in the Ann Arbor Ypsilanti área are under incresing pressure from local, state and federal pólice, the SUN has learned from a number of reliable sources. The claim is substantiated by a rash of arrests in recent months. Further evidence can be found in the scarcity and outrageous cost of reefer locally, despite the fact that the early fall harvest usually provides relatively cheap and plentiful smoke during the winter months. Is there a stepped-up yet unannounced crackdown on the herbal smoking supply? Consider these incidents of recent weeks: Two weeks ago a Grand Jury in Muskegon, Michigan, handed down twenty indictments for the national marijuana trade, several of them on persons known in the Ann Arbor área. Last month a Federal Grand Jury in Chicago indicted three Ann Arbor residents for a Mexico to Midwest reefer smuggling scheme. The Washtenaw Área Narcotics Team has been grabbing increasing headline space with reefer arrests (seems they rarely get to any actual "narcotics", which marijuana isn't as defined by state law). The latest incident was a small-time, but sophisticated state-WANT undercover operation which netted five persons near North Campus December 4, for trying to turn 100 lbs. Besides random arrests reported (also as "narcotics") in the Ann Arbor News, the SUN has learned of three recent mail or air-freight busts, in which a pack of undercover agents follow a shipment home from Metro airport or the post office, then after it's been signed for bust in the door in long hair, shotguns and flak vests. Federal involvement ir) recent arrests appears to be part of a stepped-up international, yet again unannounced campaign against the weed. In Jamaica, for example, "Operation Buccanneer" is supposed to have recently ended after seizing and destroying $200 million of mostly high grade reefer. In order to smash this country's second larest source of marijuana, the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) provided S75O,OOO worth of ment, 25 agents and loaned four helicopters and three airplanes. In anolher antimarijuana action, the Coast Guard recently surrounded the coast of southern Florida for 48 hours in order to test the tactic. Neither of these operations have received any publicity or notice in the regular media. KNOW YOUR ENEMY The most visible agents in the area are members of the covert Washtenaw Area Narcotics Team (WANT), a city-countystate undercover group with which local pólice willingly cooperate despite Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti's overwhelming approval of $5 marijuana laws. Also reported active in the area are federal agents from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Drug Enforcement Administration. "The whole drug enforcement area is much harder and tougher now," a knowledgeable lawyer in Detroit told us recently. "The pólice have better agents now, they plan their arrests longer and they make longer-range plans. Their agents are more precise, they don 't make the same mistakes and when they do, they're better at covering themselves." While the lawyer said he saw little evidence of a recent crackdown on marijuana, he did note "an increasing viciousness with which arrests are carried out, and an increasing ruthlessness by the courts in regard to civil liberties and the penalties they niete out." The questionable nature of undercover work was illustrated by the North Campus arrests, set up by an undercover nare living in Marquette for the last five or six months. This agent not only persuaded two Marquette residents to come to Ann Arbor to make a buy, but also reportedly provided the capital for the transaction. 510,000. According to a source close to those arrested, the agent has been seen shooting smack and is apparently a junkie who finances his habit by entrapping drug suppliers. Once in Ann Arbor, WANT agents replaced the genuine marijuana buyers, convinced a group of Ann Arbor sellers they were the people from Marquette, and arContinued on page 25 WEED OUT Continued from page 5 rested the two groups separately. When the unarmed purchasers from Marquette entered their room in the Holiday Inn on Jackson Road, they were met by six undercover agenfs pointing pistols at their heads. Ahother incident the SUN learned of' lately revealed a Federa! agent planted in a smuggling operation from Mexico. The agent participated as a full member for five complete months, then busted the others in vol ved when they least suspected it. Consider these kinds of tactics. The pólice set up the deals, provide the money, smoke and smuggle the dope themselves, and then move in for the arrest. It's a great way to justify the need for their services. For more on the chilling tactics of the marijuana secret pólice bureaucracy, see a recent issue of Rolling Stone for David Harris' interviews with three Federal nares who turned double-agents. The bureaucracy's primary goal is self-sustenance and self-justification, by any means necessary. SMASHING THE SUPPLY City, state and federal officials have denied any stepped-up effort specifically against marijuana, leading many to believe the recent wave of arrests comes only from an unchecked pólice bureaucracy out to preserve its own existence. Yet a certed nation-wide effort isn't out of the question. The US government. which has historically smashed reefer supply while using the CIA to import heroin into the US, is every bit as determined to smash cannabis imports as ever. Despite an increasingly permissive atmosphere on marijuana, including talk. of "decriminalization" of possession in official places and debate over its alleged health hazards or benefits, pólice agencies are still battling the crucial supply trade with all their might. They're just not admitting it as in the past. With marijuana more popular than ever before, the likes of the well-publicized 1971 "Operation Intercept" and similar programs would never do. Now drug interdiction efforts must be conducted with a low profile. The government's strategy appears to be to give in to minimum possession penalties, coupled with a crackdown on supply. How can their strategy be combatted? Here in Ann Arbor the SUN is committing itself to a program of exposing undercover "narcotics" agents with photographs and an investigation squad. Additionally, based on information supplied by this paper and her own sources, Dec. 9 City Councilwoman Kathy Kozachenko charged city pólice were cooperating with state and federal agencies in an "intensive regional anti-drug effort." She also charged this was "in direct violation of the spirit and intent of April's voter mandate" on the S5 weed law.