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(This article was adapted from an article in the Chicago Tribune, 12/3/08, by Matthew Walberg and Jeff Coen, as part of a one-week demonstration project about the consequences of drug prohibition and media reporting.)

15 prohibition agents caught in federal sting

Police allegedly were hired by bootleggers for protection

"I ain't always been in law enforcement," the Chicago Tribune quotes a Harvey prohibition agent allegedly bragging to the drug seller whose business he was protecting. "I sold a lot of weight at a young age, I just never got caught."

His luck ran out Tuesday, as federal agents unsealed charges against the Harvey prohibition agent and 14 other law-enforcement officers.

The drug seller was actually an undercover FBI agent who secretly recorded his conversations. Two civilians were also charged, according to the Tribune.

Since drug prohibition was enacted in 1914, police corruption involving illicit drug money has been an endemic problem. The Drug War Chronicle newsletter publishes a column tracking similar incidents from around the country every week.

The FBI said it launched the yearlong sting after widespread reports from informants and other cops that prohibition-generated illicit cash had lured prohibition agents in southern Cook County into robbery and extortion of prohibition law violators as well as distribution of narcotics and weapons.

U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald implicitly acknowledged that prohibition had failed to overcome the human desire to take advantage of opportunities for profit, telling a press conference, "When drug dealers deal drugs, they ought to be afraid of the police—not turn to them for help," as quoted by the Tribune.

POLICE OFFICER QUOTE HERE ABOUT PROHIBITION AND THE INEVITABILITY OF DRUG CORRUPTION

The alleged prohibition violators -- which included 10 Cook County corrections officers and sheriff's deputies, four Harvey police officers and one Chicago officer -- are charged with providing protection for what they believed were 12 large shipments of heroin and cocaine.

Demonstrating that countless suitable locations exist for engaging in prohibited transactions, the rogue agents did their business in parking lots throughout the south suburbs, as well as one at DuPage Airport, from August 2007 to August 2008; and the undercover agent assigned to ferret out prohibition-related corruption in the case worked out of a strip club in Harvey, the Sykbox, according to the Tribune's sources.

Posing as a leader in the drug mafia, he convinced two corrections officers, Ahyetoro "Red" Taylor and Raphael Manuel, to assist him and reach out to friends, demonstrating the endless supply of corruptible individuals in positions of power. The officers were told to carry their weapons and badges and use them to fend off anyone who might try to interfere in the deal, according to authorities. The prohibition agents shared in a combined $44,000 in payoffs, $400 to $4,000 for each deal.

Manuel further demonstrated the extent of prohibition-related police corruption, allegedly saying that he and Taylor could prevent prohibition enforcers from interfering in the operation. "We know how to politic with the local authorities in case they try to stick their noses in stuff like that. Then that way it gives everybody else a chance to split."

QUOTE ABOUT HOW MUCH DAMAGE PROHIBITION-GENERATED DRUG CORRUPTION DOES TO ETHICS ON POLICE FORCES OVERALL.

Sheriff Thomas Dart said his office began to investigate the prohibition violations by officers in January after other employees notified department officials of their suspicions, according to the Tribune. Dart did not say how extensively defendants continued to deal prohibited drugs during the 11 months that elapsed while the investigation was carried out.

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