Fake Heroin/Ebola Crisis leads to Arrests

graniteshoals 2I thought this might have been a joke, then I hoped it was, not sure this is the kind of world I want to live in. Anyhow… here is the latest in sophisticated crime fighting….

In Granite Shoals, which is located in Texas, the local police took to Facebook with a tongue-in-cheek post warning that local supplies of methamphetamine and heroin were contaminated with Ebola.

“If you have recently purchased meth or heroin in Central Texas, please take it to the local police or sheriff department so it can be screened with a special device. DO NOT use it until it has been properly checked for possible Ebola contamination! Contact any Granite Shoals PD officer for testing,” the post read.

You know what’s coming…?

Police said Chastity Eugina Hopson contacted police Thursday after suspecting that her methamphetamine could be contaminated with Ebola.

“Our officers gladly took the item for further testing,” the post read.

Hopson was arrested on drug charges.

The Christian County Sheriff’s Office in Missouri posted a similar hoax on its Facebook page last week, warning that local meth supplies might have been contaminated by hepatitis or staph.

There was no word on whether Christian County’s post had led any members of the public to submit their meth for testing.

Of course, all is fair in love and war, but is it a good idea. Stings like this are common in the US but not so much in Australia – at least not so far as well know about.

granite shoalsThe Texan Police said that the threats about “Ebola meth” are a fun, harmless sting they set up to catch criminals in the act, even if the joke alludes to what was once an actual global public health crisis. But two good-government advocates said the posts run the risk of degrading trust in law enforcement and public health authorities.

And in the case of Granite Shoals, their own, local district attorney questioned whether the post might alarm people who don’t use drugs, but might think a deadly virus is present in their community.

“I think there’s some collateral issues that you have to consider before you use a sting,” said Sonny McAfee, the district attorney for Burnet County, Texas, which is northwest of Austin.

Police stings are risky. Even the appearance of engaging in illegal behaviour, or tolerating it, can make the Police seem as dodgy as their targets.

Aaron Kernaghan is a trial lawyer working with Kernaghan & Associates. He has worked as both prosecutor and defence attorney for more than 16 years and regularly works as a litigator in trial, appellate and public inquiries.