Drug dragnets are sometimes too widely cast and if so, are almost certain to contain some inappropriate, mistaken or unsupported arrests. Part of the problem is that in South Carolina and elsewhere when several agencies work on a multi-volume drug sweep the paper work and coordination is diverse and efforts are not always completely attuned. Recently, authorities announced a sweep in one South Carolina county where 40 men and women were arrested on drug charges.
The sweep reportedly culminates an investigation into illegal drug activities over the course of about three months. Details of the charges, names and locations of the arrests were not immediately available. Police stated that the actions were prompted by complaints from county residents.
The local police said that other agencies participated. They reported that the operation ended up seizing marijuana and cocaine, some stolen handguns, and some cash. The amounts listed, however, seem to indicate that this was not a large-scale drug operation as perhaps suggested by the police. Rather, it appears more likely that it concentrated on lower-level users rather than drug dealers. The small amount of cash seized, for example, indicates that on an average, these 40 people, or most of them, were probably struggling to survive, a characteristic most usually attributed to a non-selling drug user.
When a drug sweep like this takes place, the suspects must each obtain independent criminal defense counsel. If they cannot afford an attorney, each county has either a public defender program or a system for appointment of counsel from the private bar of South Carolina. Each counsel must thoroughly review the facts and the propriety of police procedures with respect to the drug charges. Wherever police mistakes or violations are detected, a defense to the drug charges may be an option.
Source: Daily Journal, Sumter County Sheriff’s deputies arrest 40 men, women in anti-drug activity sweep, No author, Oct. 29, 2013