Critics of drug-law enforcement long have charged that suburban customers buyers can easily buy narcotics in inner-city neighborhoods. Detroit police and prosecutors are focusing on this problem, the Detroit Free Press reports. Police say that cash from suburban buyers helps fuel a drug trade that contributes to violence and decay in many Detroit neighborhoods.
Last year, police seized 1,423 vehicles in Detroit drug arrests. Nearly 60 percent of those vehicles, or 842, belonged to people from outside Detroit. Maurice Morton of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, said fewer than half of the 6,500 people charged with simple drug possession in 2000 and 2001 were from Detroit. Police Cmdr. Gerard Simon said that suburbanites would rather buy drugs “here than in their own neighborhoods.”
Suburbanites come to the city because they know the chances of going to jail for buying drugs are slim. Some of those arrested never set foot in a courtroom except to pay the misdemeanor fine.
It is not clear that law enforcement will make much of a dent in the problem. Almost every suspect who faces charges of drug possession avoids going to trial by pleading guilty. Those convicted are typically sentenced to probation and forced to participate in a drug-treatment program.