Combating drug trafficking and related crimes is a high priority for law enforcement officials at both the state and the federal level, and government spends significant resources every year to target drug offenders. Law enforcement officials are particularly keen to target operations that serve as hubs in the drug market, such as the Milwaukee-based group known as “Bless Team”.
The group, according to law enforcement has been connected to 22 drug overdoses and is suspected of daily involvement in criminal activity in the city of Milwaukee. A number of members of the group, whose videos can be watched on YouTube, have already been convicted of drug-related crimes, and more cases are in the works. These cases are possible in large part because of focused efforts to target the group.
Wisconsin’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA), which consists of 12 area police agencies, has put a particular focus on fighting the Bless Team, using a variety of tools to halt their activity. These tools include surveillance of the mobile houses vehicles with tinted windows used by the group, as well as informants who can provide details about the group’s operations.
As effective as these and other law enforcement strategies may be in targeting crime, it is of critical importance that law enforcement does its job properly, respecting the constitutional rights of criminal suspects. When officers fail to do so, the integrity of the criminal process suffers. In any criminal defense case, it is crucial for the defendant to work with an experienced attorney to scrutinize the work performed by law enforcement officers and agents.
In our next post, we’ll look at this issue in the context of a recent government report criticizing the use of a particular law enforcement strategy.