The latest victim of the California budget crisis will leave Californians besieged with criminals and fewer law enforcement agents.
California’s Democrat Governor Jerry Brown approved a budget earlier this year that calls for reduced DOJ funding. The cuts leave many drug-related investigations in the lurch and force local law enforcement agencies to reorganize manpower and funds.
Senior level federal agents say overreaching budget cuts in the state’s Department of Justice (DOJ) clips 34 of the 52 successful anti-crime task forces.
The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement and the Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence (BII) are expected to absorb the lion share of the $71 million in proposed cuts. Also, approximately 170 task-force agents will either receive pink slips or demotions.
“Unless we receive some definite answer or information prior to December 31st of this year, we're going to have to walk out on approximately 200 people who assist law enforcement on a daily basis,” explained Larry Wallace the DOJ’s director of Law Enforcement. He also warned Californians that these cuts have the potential to increase crime throughout the state.
These draconian-like cuts would all but eliminate the nation’s premier marijuana task force responsible for seizing 72 percent of the nation’s pot plants. The Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) is responsible for confiscating more than $70 billion worth of weed in the last seven years.
More political football
California is a bastion for politics, and like Washington D.C., leaders continue to play politics with the state’s future.
“Like most other recipients in the California budget in the past 20 years, DOJ has become a political football. It has become administratively top heavy with appointments to posts by Sacramento as political favors,” according to Police- A Law Enforcement magazine report. “This proposed $71 million in reductions would cut out the working staff but leave many of the political appointments in place. Depending on the political shifting winds in Sacramento, the BNE has been pulled out of its role fighting drug traffickers and organized crime to serving the ‘for show’ politically correct issues such as Department of Recycling (DOR). DOJ agents who are expert in investigating criminal gangs and organized crime have been reassigned to fight recycling fraud and environmental issues.”
This worries Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) personnel who complain they don’t have the necessary resources to combat trans-national cartel organizations.
One program responsible for curtailing cartel activities is the San Diego task force dealing with the Arellano-Felix drug and human trafficking organization. DOJ agents have already been removed from this task force; a decision will cost the DOJ millions in seized proceeds.
In the past, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has taken credit for Justice-led operations that targeted the Sinaloa cartel. A recent seizure netted 18.5 kilos of cocaine worth an estimated $1.85 million.
"This operation is an example of the complex and multi-jurisdictional work that Department of Justice agents do every day to keep California safe," AG Harris said. "I commend these agents for their bravery and professional excellence."
However, law enforcement officers contend that the proposed cuts from the DOJ task forces would dramatically reduce the multi-agency efforts required to target the transnational gangs that fuel Mexico’s war on drugs.
Officials conclude by saying, the only folks happy with the cuts are criminal gangs and cartel members.