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Monday, October 5, 2015

BuzzFeed investigation into student informants

BuzzFeed has been running a revealing investigation into how police--including campus police at Ole Miss--in Oxford, Mississippi have been pressuring students and college-age residents into becoming informants.  Here are links to the most recent articles:

How Mississippi Discovered The Drug War’s “Golden Egg” (April 20, 2015): A small-town narcotics unit has built a team of confidential informants by arresting low-level-offender college students and pressuring them to flip.

How Mississippi Cops Threaten College-Age Kids Into Becoming Informants (Oct. 1, 2015): A recording of two officers from Oxford, Mississippi’s Metro Narcotics unit sheds light on how the unit pressures college-age suspects into becoming informants.

From the most recent article:

"[E]ach year Metro Narcotics enlists an average of 30 informants, most of whom have little connection to the drug scene other than as low-level buyers. Around half of the 240 or so people arrested by Metro Narcotics in 2014 were first-time offenders, and the unit made three times as many arrests for marijuana as for any other drug. To get these young men and women to cooperate, the unit’s four agents often threaten them with prison sentences or a life-long drug record."

The article also includes transcripts of a conversation between police and two young potential informants in which police threatened the young pregnant woman with an unrealistical 30-year sentence, and got her boyfriend--who had no drug charges or contacts--to agree to become a drug informant to 'work off' his girlfriend's charge.  The two young people initially agreed, but then decided not to become informants after they consulted with an attorney.