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Crime The Courts Security Transportation Technology

Build a Secret Compartment, Go To Jail 1111

KindMind writes "Alfred Anaya was a custom stereo installer who branched out to making secret compartments for valuables, who the DEA sent to prison as a co-conspirator when a drug dealer used his creation to smuggle drugs. But Wired points out the bigger question: 'The challenge for anyone who creates technology is to guess when they should turn their back on paying customers. Take a manufacturer of robot kits for hobbyists. If someone uses those robots to patrol a smuggling route or help protect a meth lab, how will prosecutors determine whether the company acted criminally?'"
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Build a Secret Compartment, Go To Jail

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  • by rally2xs ( 1093023 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:30AM (#43336387)

    ... is to legalize absolutely all the drugs, and put the DEA, et. al., out of business. The insane drug war is just another excuse to violate citizen's rights, plus it provides obscene amounts of money to all the wrong sorts of people. And, reportedly, Mexico has lost 70,000 of its citizens since 2007 to drug war violence. Is the USA keeping drugs illegal really worth 70,000 human lives? I don't think so.

    • by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:36AM (#43336425) Homepage

      I'm in favor of partial legalization and regulation. Smoking kills 300k a year. Something like widespread meth use could come in 10x, 20x that. The reason drugs can get banned is because they are so incredibly devastating to individuals to families and to communities when their use becomes common. Pretending they are harmless undermines other points.

      The question is whether the benefits of criminalization, the avoidance of widespread use, can be achieved without criminalization.

      • by Krneki ( 1192201 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:39AM (#43336453)

        You don't combat drug (ab)use by prohibition, you use education.

        And anyway the side effect of prohibition will do far more harm to society then any drug can.

        • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:52AM (#43336585) Homepage

          You don't combat drug (ab)use by prohibition, you use education.

          And actually trying to fix some of the social problems associated with drugs like poverty and lack of jobs.

          But nobody has any interest in doing that. They'd rather have a large, for profit prison industry and sweep it all under the rug.

          • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:54AM (#43336607)

            The people I know that do drugs have jobs and money. Drugs aren't cheap. I bet the majority of drug use is of that type. Friday-Sunday and at parties.

            I have seen crackheads and meth addicts, but these seem like more the outlier than the occasional toker or party coke user.

            • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @01:03PM (#43339073)

              > The people I know that do drugs have jobs and money. Drugs
              > aren't cheap. I bet the majority of drug use is of that type.
              > Friday-Sunday and at parties.

              I think you have it almost right, allow me to make a quick adjustment here, afterall....as a drug dealer, I like to think I am an expert, I certainly have been doing it for years.

              First of all, lets start here: Pot is the #1 illicit drug. When you hear "drugs", think pot, because there are twice as many pot users as the next 3 major illegal drugs combined. The majority of users use it, the majority of dealers sell it almost exlusively.

              Your average drug user picks up once or twice a week, and while its expensive, its not so expensive that he can't afford it with a normal job. In fact, your average dealer is just another user who had a little money in his pocket and was tired of paying full price. Most of them, buy an ounce and sell 8ths, taking nearly their entire profit in product, bringing in just enough to get the next ounce. This works out of course, because he has other sources of income.

              His dealer, thats me, started out like him, but had a bit more cash from a slightly better job (or some other reason, some even start on credit, seldom a good idea, but among pot users normally fairly safe and tends to get written off rather than broken legs). He sees return on his investment, but still smokes most of the actual profit, and still doesn't make enough to replace a full time job.

              In theory, I wouldn't want to see it made legal, since I make money off the deal, but, when you factor in that I only ever started with this headache because I saw how much I was spending on flowers. I want nothing more than to have some smoke in my bowl after a days work, I don't make enough off it to care about the money aspect. Its not worth the risk for the money alone, its only worth it because it subsidises my, and my partner's habbits.

              So yes, the majority of use is of that medium usage type by people with jobs or other means of gainful employment. I should know, they are my customers and no different from me, or any of the people I deal with. Are there some career criminals out there? Yup, met some of them too..... but they are.... outliers. Even the people whose supply comes from them down the road, generally don't deal with them directly.

              Seriously, even the guys that people like me get it from are just generally, people who started doing what I am doing and moved on to growing, or had an opportunity to get into shipping/arbitage.

              This is why it is little more than an endless game of whack-a-mole....the entire enforcement paradigm is based on unwarranted assumptions about who the dealers really are and our motives, which, are normally, exactly the same motives as our customers.

              Not only that, but as far as I can tell, for every "junk box" out there (yes our derrogatory name for people who use those "other" drugs) there are a number of people who "tried crack once" or "have done some meth". Even with pot, I have been selling for years and I have met nearly as many people who have smoked pot and didn't like it as I have pot enthusiasts.

        • by AlphaWolf_HK ( 692722 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @10:30AM (#43336959)

          The Silk Road has been rather successful, and to this date, nobody has been kidnapped and beheaded, hanged, or robbed during any drug transactions. Plus, it seems that the quality of the substances made is much higher than those found on the street, and less likely to kill you.

        • And anyway the side effect of prohibition will do far more harm to society then any drug can.

          Pray tell, how are facts like that supposed to help The Powers That Be maintain their control over everyone else?? (Quit thinking, serf.)

        • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @11:28AM (#43337701)

          My school had a few real meth heads when I was in high school. The harm that regular meth did was demonstrable in a way that made DARE completely unnecessary. A lot of students actually avoided meth because they saw the harm it did (damaged intelligence, rotting teeth, misc health issues, etc.)

          Just calling the kid(s) on stage at a pep rally for 5 minutes and saying "kids, this is what regular meth use does. This is why we don't want you to use meth. Now Johnny, Susy, etc. please be seated." would stop 95% of kids from ever doing meth. It's not like a STD or something like that it's so in-your-face and repeatable that only morons (even by teen standards) would think it doesn't apply to them.

          • by wagnerrp ( 1305589 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @01:22PM (#43339347)
            To be fair, many of the problems associated with heavy methamphetamine usage are not actually caused by methamphetamine. It's caused by the fact that methamphetamine is refined using some particularly nasty chemicals, and the poor quality laboratory equipment and conditions available to basement/garage/trunk/RV meth cookers is insufficient to produce a clean product. It's no different to how the high methanol content in cheaply produced moonshine has been known to cause blindness. Legalization, combined with government regulation, would go a long way towards mitigating these ill effects.
      • by Binestar ( 28861 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:40AM (#43336461) Homepage
        Look up drug legalization and Portugal.
        • by j00r0m4nc3r ( 959816 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:48AM (#43336545)
          Separately, or together?
      • the avoidance of widespread use

        You think that anybody who wants to take drugs isn't already taking them?

        Taking away the profits would mean less pushers hanging around schoolyards and visiting teenage parties with "free samples".

      • Pretending they are harmless undermines other points.

        Nobody's suggesting doing anything remotely like that. They're merely suggesting legalizing it. Let the consequences of your drug use be the consequences, without artificially adding more. It's bad enough as-is, without the government making a bad situation worse.

      • by mjr167 ( 2477430 )

        And alcohol doesn't ruin families? Self destructive people are self destructive.

        The last time I saw my father I came to the conclusion that he was an alcoholic. Turning him into a criminal would simply make the situation even worse. As it is he goes to work every day and makes valuable contributions to society. The only consequences of his actions are internal to our family.

        Criminalize consequences, not whatever you used to get there. Criminalize violence and theft.

      • I'm in favor of partial legalization and regulation. Smoking kills 300k a year. Something like widespread meth use could come in 10x, 20x that. The reason drugs can get banned is because they are so incredibly devastating to individuals to families and to communities when their use becomes common. Pretending they are harmless undermines other points.

        It's also devastating to individuals, families, and communities to take someone like Anaya and throw him in jail for 24 years. Pretending that it's harmless undermines other points.

      • by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @10:57AM (#43337287) Homepage

        "The reason drugs can get banned is because they are so incredibly devastating to individuals to families and to communities when their use becomes common. "

        You clearly have no idea why Marijuana was outlawed. I suggest you investigate the matter, and you will quickly realize that your simplistic world view is exactly that. I'll give you a two word starter hint to google (just add marijuana): "textile industry"

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        " The reason drugs can get banned is because they are so incredibly devastating to individuals to families and to communities when their use becomes common."

        I can tell you've not been paying attention to Portugal this past decade.

    • by Zemran ( 3101 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:49AM (#43336563) Homepage Journal

      but he had not seen any drugs, only money. Should we legalise money? I think that the US has the craziest legal system in the world. The country that introduced the concept that carrying money to another country is a crime (called money laundering), given that I work in various countries for good money I want to be allowed to carry my legally earned money home with me but if I carry more than a trivial amount I am labelled a criminal...

      It is time that money was legalised.

      • Fill out Form 6059B Customs Declaration and then you won't be a criminal.
        How if you can't fill out the form you probably have ill-gotten money and customs will take it away from you.
  • by sudden.zero ( 981475 ) <sudden.zero@ g m a i l.com> on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:33AM (#43336405)
    Under the same premise a car manufacturer should be liable for assisting in a bank robbery because the thieves couldn't have gotten away so quickly without their ingenious device called the automobile! This is just stupid and the judge that made that poor decision should be shot, hanged, and burnt at the stake!
  • co-conspirator (Score:4, Insightful)

    by amoeba1911 ( 978485 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:34AM (#43336413) Homepage
    Does a gun manufacturer or dealer go to jail as co-conspirator when the killer used the gun to kill people?
    • by sribe ( 304414 )

      Does a gun manufacturer or dealer go to jail as co-conspirator when the killer used the gun to kill people?

      The dealer can go to jail if the sale was illegal--in other words, skirted the background check, knew it was a straw purchase, and so on. It's rare because most gun dealers know better, but it does happen occasionally. That would be for breaking the laws I mentioned, now if the gun dealer actually knew that the person to whom he was selling intended to murder, and in fact actually conspired with that person to help him commit the murder, then of course he would treated as a co-conspirator.

      The manufacturer c

      • Very few background check violations are prosecuted. The Obama Administration's stated reason for it is lack of time and manpower. If the Obama Administration currently doesn't have the time or manpower to prosecute those who lie on background check forms, then why do they want more background checks, more paperwork and more forms? It's backdoor gun registration.
        • by swb ( 14022 )

          The goal is not gun registration, the goal is to create a complex patchwork of laws that makes exercising legal gun ownership much more onerous for both buyer and seller.

          They want a situation where if you're not an active-duty member of law enforcement and you have any encounter with the police they can seize your firearm and arrest you on firearm charges even if there is no other chargeable offense.

          Ultimately enough people will stop wanting to exercise their gun rights because who wants to get pulled over

          • by Nadaka ( 224565 )

            And this is part of why I am against most forms of gun control, even though I am an elite liberal socialist.

            Background checks in most cases are acceptable and useful in promoting responsible gun ownership without significantly affecting law abiding citizens.

            The various bans and restrictions based on combinations of firearms features are not acceptable and useful in promoting responsible gun ownership.

    • Re:co-conspirator (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khallow ( 566160 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @10:42AM (#43337077)
      It's worth noting here the Fast and Furious [wikipedia.org] "gun walking" scandal. ATF personnel knew in the summer of 2010 that the straw weapon purchases (ultimately for about two thousand apparently high quality weapons) which they were allowing but deliberately not monitoring (allegedly as part of a plan to catch gun smugglers and their buyers) were going straight to Sinaloa cartel factions and being used to commit many hundreds of crimes such as murder. But they let that program continue another half a year until a border agent was killed in a shoot out involving two such weapons.

      It's worth noting here that most of those straw purchases wouldn't have happened without ATF interference and we don't know what else might have been smuggled into Mexico in connection with those guns.

      No one from the ATF has been prosecuted for assisting in these crimes. After all, they knew without a doubt in the summer of 2010 that crimes were being committed with those weapons, yet they did nothing for another half a year until someone too important to ignore died. In comparison, Alfred Anaya of the story is merely suspected to have known that his secret compartments were used for drug smuggling.

      And none of Anaya's devices ever killed anyone while as of more than two years ago, F&F weapons turned up at over 200 murder scenes in both Mexico and the US.

      And because the Obama administration is shielding the people involved, we don't know if the real purpose of the effort was to catch gun smugglers and complicit members of the Sinaloa Cartel or something sinister such as creating a false pretext for federal gun control laws or deliberately providing smuggling services for the Sinaloa Cartel.
    • Re:co-conspirator (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @11:00AM (#43337325) Homepage

      "Does a gun manufacturer or dealer go to jail as co-conspirator when the killer used the gun to kill people?"

      If he knew that the purchaser was most likely planning on shooting up a school yard, then yes. Yes he does.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:34AM (#43336415)

    He used to work legally, and pay the taxes.

    Now he will have problems finding a job, so he will build secret compartments for drug runners for living, not as a side job.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:35AM (#43336417)

    If you are a small Mom and Pop operations (Under 5 employees) you are going to jail.
    If you are a Small Business (Under 100 Employees) you will get massive fines.
    If you are a Medium Business (Under 1000 Employees) you will get a stern talking to
    If you are a Large Business (1000+ Employees) you are considered an innovator, any misuse of your product is not your fault.

  • by egcagrac0 ( 1410377 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:35AM (#43336421)

    From what I understand, a bartender can get in trouble for overserving someone who then drives drunk and causes mayhem.

    Apparently, this guy who installed custom compartments in vehicles got in trouble, despite (apparently) refusing to build them for explicit drug use.

    Are convenience stores liable when smokers get cancer? They're selling the carcinogens.

    Are firearm and ammunition manufacturers and dealers liable for school shootings? You know those aren't all done with zip guns and reloads.

    We have a legal system that seems to be logically inconsistent.

    • Re:Odd arrangements (Score:4, Interesting)

      by artfulshrapnel ( 1893096 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @11:31AM (#43337737)

      The issue here is that the builder was obviously aware that his tools were being used for illegal activity but continued to produce them for those same clients. His knowledge was demonstrated by his freakout about the massive piles of cash and demand to have them removed, and the fact that he knew his customers were crossing borders with his secret compartments. (They were calling from places like Tijuana asking for repairs)

      "I don't know what this is being used for" is a legit argument when there's a reasonable expectation that the product is not being used for illegal activity (such as in the stated case of building robots), but at a certain point it crosses the threshold where any reasonable explanation would point to illegal use. At that point the person making the product is arguably liable, since any reasonable person should understand what their product is being used for.

      In the example of a robot, just making a robot that can patrol an area wouldn't cross that threshold. If, however, the robot was commissioned with the ability to detect police badges, interpret police scanner data, and incinerate packages if police were detected en-route? That would cross the threshold of "Well what the fuck did you THINK they were gonna use it for?"

  • On the face of it his incarceration is ludicrous. If he specifically created the compartment for drug smuggling and took part of the profits . . . well then I can see some justification.
  • Wrong lesson... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jythie ( 914043 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:38AM (#43336445)
    I think the lesson of this case has little to do with secret compartments. What mainly happened here is the police wanted him to work for them and he said no, so the built a case to punish him. The trial was a joke, the testimony against him was due to plea deals and some of it was physically impossible to be true, and most of it hinged on building up personal dislike by the jury due to his lifestyle.

    He refused to put his life at risk when the police threatened him, and they made good on the threat, even if he was within the law. Being within the law does not matter when they want to get you.
    • Re:Wrong lesson... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:45AM (#43336517)

      This is exactly what happened.
      He was told to be a snitch and when he refused they punished him.

    • Re:Wrong lesson... (Score:5, Informative)

      by aclarke ( 307017 ) <.ac.ekralc. .ta. .maps.> on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @10:22AM (#43336849) Homepage
      The sickest thing about this whole thing is mentioned in this quote:

      [The judge] sentenced Anaya to 292 months in federal prison—more than 24 years—with no possibility of parole. Curtis Crow and Cesar Bonilla Montiel, the men at the top of the organization, received sentences half that length.

      This guy refused to work with the police, so he got over 24 years in jail with no parole. The actual drug dealers got less than half that. How is that remotely just? Maybe the guy has some culpability, but 24 years in jail with no parole? Come on. I hope he's able somehow to appeal with a better lawyer.

  • 24 Years, No Parole (Score:5, Informative)

    by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:42AM (#43336481) Homepage

    "The judge agreed with McCracken’s harsh assessment. He sentenced Anaya to 292 months in federal prison—more than 24 years—with no possibility of parole. Curtis Crow and Cesar Bonilla Montiel, the men at the top of the organization, received sentences half that length."

    Just to be clear -- the article doesn't reveal the 24-year sentence until almost the very end. Part of the problem is, as usual (see Aaron Swartz) unchecked prosecutors piling on crazy charges to force a plea bargain, and one person who truly believes they didn't do anything wrong, and refuses to take it for principle's sake. End result: epic miscarriage of justice.

    • Well, it's not surprising a prosecutor named McCracken would be rather harsh. If you want a laid-back prosecutor, you need McPotten.

  • His mistake (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:44AM (#43336495)
    His mistake was in installing the second "trap" in the other vehicle. He could have legitimately claimed that he agreed to fix the first one out of a sense of responsibility for his workmanship AND fear that the guy would come after him for failing to do so. However, agreeing to the second one made it a clear money grab and it violated the California law. He knew the only way that the guy got that much money was through the drug trade. He should have told the guy that he had compromised his business by showing up with all that money in the "trap" and exposed him to legal liability beyond what he had agreed to.
    I understand why he thought he was skirting the law, but he knew he was skirting the law. Once it went beyond merely knowing in an academic fashion that some of his customers were using his installations in an illegal fashion to having seen evidence (even though that evidence was not by itself enough to convict the customer) that a particular customer was doing so he had crossed the line. He crossed the line of plausible deniability.
    • Wow. Can you claim that "every low priced item for sale in the real world" must be stolen, because why else would someone offer to sell something for a low value if it might have a higher value? No, sometimes people don't know the intrinsic value of something. So everyone who buys something cheaply off craigslist does not have to be complicit in the purchase of stolen goods if they didn't know the goods were stolen. You're reaching a conclusion which may seem reasonable but which, IMHO, is unreasonable.
  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:44AM (#43336503) Homepage
    The case hinged on whether Alfred Anaya knew that the compartments were being used to smuggle drugs. In this context, when he was repairing one of the compartments in question he saw that it was full of bundles of cash. The prosecutors argued (and the jury agreed) that this was clear evidence that something illegal was going on, most likely drugs. He could have said no at that point, but he didn't. I'm generally in favor of legalization for most drugs, but this fellow isn't as sympathetic and innocent as the summary makes him out to be.
    • by parlancex ( 1322105 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @10:25AM (#43336903)
      That makes no sense to me. Large amounts of cash seem like a pretty legitimate use for a secret compartment in a car, in many neighborhoods throughout the US. The only way an ordinary citizen could have a large amount of cash is obviously through illegal means? I guess we really were never supposed to win.
      • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwaterNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @11:47AM (#43337943) Homepage

        Large amounts of cash seem like a pretty legitimate use for a secret compartment in a car, in many neighborhoods throughout the US.

        "Seem" [sic] like? For what purpose? What legitimate business has to move that amount of cash secretly rather than using checks, money orders, electronic transactions, or making (much) smaller deposits more regularly? What legitimate business has to do so on a regular enough basis that it's worth having a secret compartment installed rather than calling in an armored car company?

    • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdflat.cCHICAGOom minus city> on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @11:09AM (#43337455) Journal

      I would argue that it was evidence that something suspicious was going on... not remotely illegal, unless there is an actual law prohibiting the possession of such large amounts of cash.

      I know that ideally, a person should never be stopped from doing what they were normally doing just because it looks suspicious to somebody else, even though it's perfectly legal, but being members of a social community, we have at least some obligation to try to consider how things that we are doing could appear to other people, because once we realize how things might look to others, we may realize that we might need to change the way we are doing things.

      I remember when I was in college, it was in '02 to give the situation a bit of context, and one of the courses I was taking was a digital electronics course, where part of the course involved building a working digital clock using elementary logic gates and chips only. Most people only worked on this in the electronics lab, but I had bought my own IC's so that I could work on it at home as well. During one of my break periods during the day, I was working on my clock in a relatively quiet hallway of one of the campus buildings... I was doing an experiment with trying to multiplex the power for the LED's, and so there were some neat flashing lights and numbers, when suddenly a campus security guard told me to step away from what I was working on and come with him. I had to go to the campus security office and was questioned by a couple of the security guards there. He initially wasn't going to let me even pack up and bring my electronics stuff with me, but I think upon noticing the panicked look I might have had on my face when he suggested that I leave this expensive stuff there, he relented. In the office, they then asked me some questions about what I was doing there and what I was building, and I replied completely truthfully. One of the security guards said that what I was talking about sounded reasonable, since they knew the professor I had for the course in question and had heard about the course having a clock-building challenge which apparently had been going on there for many years They needed confirmation from the professor, however... and I had to wait for the professor to come down from his office, and see me... confirm that he knew me and that I was genuinely in his class. I was then free to go, and later that evening, in his lecture, he bemusedly related a story to the class about how one of his students got hauled into the security office for apparently building a bomb He suggested that we only work on the project either at home, or else in the lab, telling us that the lab aide could be reached throughout the day anyways, and would unlock the lab for anyone in the course and allow them to work during the day even when it wasn't scheduled lab time.

      The experience taught me something about doing things that look suspicious that I hadn't previously considered, even if they are actually entirely innocent, as I was, and being mindful of that fact gives a person a much better state of preparedness for the possible consequences, perhaps even at some point deciding "no, I won't do that", or maybe just changing the circumstances so that it won't look so suspicious in the first place.

  • Absurd Law (Score:4, Interesting)

    by b4upoo ( 166390 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @09:47AM (#43336537)

    I myself once machined and built a small safe designed to hide in a vehicle as I frequently transported gold at the time. Unless there was proof that this guy was trying to do something illegal it sounds absolutely insane that he would be punished. The area that I traveled through was known to be quite dangerous and window smashing and grabbing at valuables was common. Matter of fact many gun owners need some sort of safe in their vehicles as there is a plague of people leaving guns under the car seats or between the seats or sometimes just under a newspaper on the seat which is dangerous in many ways including stopping to get gasoline or a cup of coffee. Criminals often get their guns by feeling around under car seats. Friday and Saturday nights are usually the good nights for that nonsense as people get drunk and leave their cars wide open with guns, wallets and all kinds of things in easy reach. Usually the only way these thieves get caught is by accident.

  • No-win situation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dr_dank ( 472072 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @10:12AM (#43336745) Homepage Journal

    Once this guy knew who he was doing business with, it gave him two crappy options:

    1) Turn informant for the government. His customers would know in a moment that he flipped once they see that he's moved out of his house and suddenly has the money to open a fancy storefront with all the bells and whistles (bugged to the gills). Once they figure that out, he and his family are as good as dead.

    2) Take your chances in court. Since the federal government moved the venue to Kansas, that'll practically secure a conviction for an LA Latino who can easily be painted as a gangster living large while working on spec for the drug lords. Also, this sets an example for those who refuse uncle sams generous offer to turn informant.

  • Credibility (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <onyxruby&comcast,net> on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @10:13AM (#43336757)

    I read this article before it was posted on Slashdot, so I have had a chance to think about it. My biggest problem with this case is the guy's credibility. When it came time to make the money (lots of money) installing the traps he was content to play dumb. When it came time to cooperate with the Fed's after reality caught up to the guy all of a sudden he was in so much fear for his life about these guys that cooperating the Feds (they offered a sweetheart deal) was inconceivable to him.

    Let's put it this way, it would be a little bit like one of the guys in Columbia that makes private submarines in the middle of jungle claiming that he thought they were for recreational purposes. This guy knew damn well what his traps were being used for and went right on making them and profiting off of them anyways. Point being that the guy knowingly facilitated the drug trade for profit, how is he any different from a dealer or a crooked border agent?

  • by JDG1980 ( 2438906 ) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @10:18AM (#43336803)

    One of the grievances in the Declaration of Independence was that the British government was "transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences". The Founders believed that any alleged crimes should be prosecuted in the jurisdiction where they occurred and that defendants should be tried by a jury of their peers. This was codified in the Sixth Amendment: "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed..."

    It seems clear that this section of the Constitution was violated here. Anaya was prosecuted in Kansas, a state where he had apparently never set foot, on the grounds that some of his customers had smuggled drugs there using his secret compartments. But this meant that he would not be tried by a jury of his peers – Californians who are racially diverse, familiar with high tech, and understand that rubbing elbows with the occasional shady person doesn't mean you are necessarily a criminal yourself. Instead he would be tried by a jury in Kansas, a state which is almost all-white and which is full of (let's be honest) fascists.

    This is far from the only outrage in this case – it never should have been prosecuted in the first place, and the 24-year sentence is utterly absurd for any offense that doesn't involve death or serious bodily harm – but it's one that hasn't been mentioned so far, and may have been key to Anaya's conviction.

In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. - Louis Pasteur