Kop Busters

By Brad Porter | Related entries in Drugs, Law, Video

In none-Illinois-based news, here’s a story that makes my libertarian heart tingle.

It’s a sting operation carried out against police for the all-too-common problem of questionable-at-best probable cause in drug raids.

The setup:

KopBusters rented a house in Odessa, Texas and began growing two small Christmas trees under a grow light similar to those used for growing marijuana. When faced with a suspected marijuana grow, the police usually use illegal FLIR cameras and/or lie on the search warrant affidavit claiming they have probable cause to raid the house. Instead of conducting a proper investigation which usually leads to no probable cause, the Kops lie on the affidavit claiming a confidential informant saw the plants and/or the police could smell marijuana coming from the suspected house.

The trap was set and less than 24 hours later, the Odessa narcotics unit raided the house only to find KopBuster’s attorney waiting under a system of complex gadgetry and spy cameras that streamed online to the KopBuster’s secret mobile office nearby.

The police took the attorney into custody.

In 60 days, the police have to release the affidavit saying how they gained probable cause to raid the house, which only KopBusters knew about, and in which nothing illegal was going on whatsoever. It seems pretty reasonable to assume that the police used thermal cameras (which the Supreme Court has ruled are unconstitutional, Kyllo v United States (2001)), and then just flat-out lied to gain entry (vice squads routinely use the tried-and-true and usually non-falsifiable “an informant tipped me off” or “I passed by and smelled marijuana”). Of course, given the conditions of the house and the setup, that will be on-the-face-of-it laughable. And suddenly the police have to account for why they entered an empty residence with two Christmas trees and a glow lamp, and how they knew about it in the first place.

It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. With any justice (and some media rabble-rousing), the DA by all rights ought to be turning his focus on the vice squad. Probably just as likely he’ll try to have KopBusters arrested. Either way, should make for some illustrative copy. And regardless, this is a problem endemic in the drug war, and in law enforcement generally. Probable cause is meant to be a protection for the citizenry against unwarranted searches and seizures. In most police departments, it’s just viewed as a bureaucratic nuisance, a mere lawyer’s formality, and with no inherent value (so what’s the harm in skirting it?). That tension will always exist, and for good reason. But for the system to work, there has to be consequences, lest the law-enforcers get too complacent, too lax, and too outright hostile to their constitutional checks.

For more, check out Barry Cooper’s site. Mr. Cooper is a fairly strident anti-drug bust crusader, and a bit of a personality in his own right. I had the pleasure to meet Mr. Cooper at last year’s Liberty Forum (libertarian convention), where we were both speaking. I gave a dry hour-long seminar on constitutionalism and activism—Cooper, by contrast, had a motivational-speakeresque presentation and was received like a rock star. But there’s no doubting that this guy has brass balls, and it’s a systemic problem that not many are willing to take on.

Maybe with another dozen or so like him around the country, police will actually start having reason to be afraid of not following procedure?

Cross-posted at The CrossedPond

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 11th, 2008 and is filed under Drugs, Law, Video. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

14 Responses to “Kop Busters”

  1. irspariah Says:

    Another possible way of crippling these clowns is to utterly clog the judicial system until it chokes. We need lots of volunteers. Somebody, ANYBODY?

  2. Anarchy Says:

    I hope he gets a TV show like cheaters where he goes after corrupt cops. Now days there are more bad cops than good.

  3. Gutter Says:

    About time that someone look at all the “Drug Mule had a busted tail light” and “False fire alarm lead cops to record drug bust” that we read in the “stupid criminals” section of the papers.

    It happen so damn often, it’s like if the “mastermind” running multi millions dollar drug operations were a bunch of morons. How can they be so powerful and so moronic at the same time is a question the police has yet to answer.

  4. Bolts Justice Says:

    Just because the weren’t growing marijuana doesn’t eliminate the possibility of someone tipping off the police. KopBusters may have let information slip, which eventually, though misinterpreted, found its way to the police through an informant. Also, considering the nature of the KopBusters organisation, Mr. Cooper or another may have given the police an anonymous tip with the intention of trapping the police. Sometimes, people are so quick to look for corruption within the police, they point with the accusers without considering if the accuser is trustworthy.

  5. Bolts Justice Says:

    Drug mules are called mules for a reason: they aren’t smart. The “masterminds” don’t micromanage to the point of talking to their patsies on a daily basis to check if they tied their shoes or packed a nutritious lunch. If I were managing a drug running operation, I wouldn’t even consider having direct contact with my patsies, as that could lead police to me rather quickly when the fools get busted.

  6. Yoho Says:

    This isn’t going to work. The cops will claim that Kopbusters themselves were the informant. The thinking is that they needed their trap to work, and so the phoned in their own phony tip to do so. It will be cops words against kopbusters words. Who do you think the judge will side with?

  7. hseldon Says:

    Can’t KopBusters file a massive civil suit? Losing money is one thing a city understands (better than the Constitution anyway).

  8. Steve Says:

    “This isn’t going to work. The cops will claim that Kopbusters themselves were the informant. ”

    You can’t get a warrant based on an anonymous tip.

  9. m. brown Says:

    Even if the guy tipped off the cops, they’ll have to ‘fess up where they got the information. If they can identify the informant, great, then they do and that informant’s credibility can be evaluated. If they can’t identify the informant (“oh, it was some guy I met on the street, can’t remember what he looked like.”, then they are in trouble and deservedly so. If they can’t identify the informant because there is none, then they are in trouble and deservedly so.

    If they were using thermal cameras and then lie about it, well, that’s only going to lead to grief for the cops too. Either way, they aren’t looking so good at this moment.

  10. Milly Monnington Says:

    Kops simply state that “an informant tipped me off” and they won’t name the ‘informant’ so as to protect their anonymity. That’s the way fascist countries work: power always wins.

  11. Joe Says:

    What utter fat pigs they are.

  12. ran Says:


  13. ran Says:


  14. Donklephant » Blog Archive » Top 20 Donklephant Posts Of 2008 Says:

    [...] Kop Busters – 21,054 [...]

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