It’s common sense to us at the Hammer of Truth that the poor are the only people who get locked up for long stretches for drug offenses. Drug warriors are sensitive to this critique and every now and then they try to confront it in some high profile display.
“Operation Ivy League” is an excellent example. In December of 2010 the NYPD arrested 5 Columbia University frat boys for dealing marijuana, cocaine, LSD, MDMA and sundry other party favors to their classmates. The NYPD conducted an exhaustive 5-month sting operation, involving 31 transactions totaling $11,000 worth of substances. The story was national news. The drug warriors successfully sent out their message. At great cost, the NYPD showed that even the most privileged have to worry about our drug laws.
Or had they? There has been surprisingly little follow up for such a big story. This gets a little technical, but bear with me, it’s worth it. The operation picked up five privileged Columbia frat boys, and three off-campus drug dealers. All of the off-campus drug dealers are serving or have served time. Miron Sarzynski, the supplier, initially charged with 9 counts including attempted kidnapping and the sole count of first degree Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance (CSCS) is now serving six years. He seems to be a legitimately bad guy, whose incarceration is hard to lament. Megan Asper, his girlfriend, got 45 days for possession. Roberto Lagares, charged with a single count of 2nd degree CSCS is now serving a 6 year prison term (all information on charges can be found here).
It is instructive to compare Lagares to Harrison David, the only one of the Frat boys to have made it to sentencing at this point. David was the most comprehensively charged of the frat boys. In addition to the same 2nd degree CSCS charge that Lagares was charged with, he was charged with an additional 11 counts of drug distribution of varying levels and substances. This is the frat boy that the NYPD had the best case against. Undercover police purchased substances from him on multiple occasions. This is the guy that they spent 5 months trying to put away. This is the guy they were going to prove their point with. They proved a point. Despite being charged with dramatically more than Roberto Lagares, Harrison David is now serving a 6 month prison term. The injustice of our system could not be laid out more starkly. The rich kid, charged with dramatically more criminal activity, received a sentence 1/12th the length of the one given to the poor one.
The frat boys must all have fantastic legal representation. The second most charged frat boy has now been offered a clear criminal record if he completes a year-long marijuana treatment program. The other three frat boys, who are charged with less, will receive more lenient treatment. I bet the frat boys are having a really tough time. It may take them years to get back on the path to the investment-banking house or grad-school of their choice. It won’t take them as much time as Roberto Lagares will spend in prison though.