Prohibition of alcoholic beverages during the early years of the last century led to a proliferation of speakeasies. These were underground drinking establishments that sold the illegal substance and made a great deal of money for their owners, and for the moonshiners and bootleggers who supplied the booze.
Yesterday, local police uncovered a modern-day update of the speakeasy. It's called Dial-A-Dope.
The temptation to read a double meaning into that title is overwhelming. However, it refers to the nature of the substances available, not the intelligence level of the service's customers.
The old speakeasies offered beer, wine and liquor, some of which was of dubious quality. Dial-A-Dope's products include crack and powder cocaine, magic mushrooms and ecstasy. Some of those products may prove to be of questionable quality as well.
In prohibition days, would-be drinkers had to seek out establishments that were sometimes literally holes in the wall. Dial-A-Dope operated more like an eatery that offers phone-in delivery. Customers would call in their orders, and drugs would arrive at their doorstep.
A 14-month effort by the combined forces of the RCMP and Halifax Regional Police led to yesterday's roundup of suspects. Sixteen people were arrested, and the police said more may come. Police also hinted that organized crime was involved in this latest form of unlawful entrepreneurship.
Any law or policy, regardless of how benevolent its purpose may be, can lead to unintended consequences. The prohibition of alcohol was never meant to lay the foundation for the ruthless organized crime of the 20th century. And the banning of drugs ranging from marijuana to ecstasy was never meant to result in Dial-A-Dope.
Current drug laws need re-examination. In their present form, they are inconsistent and unrealistic.
In the meantime, the police and public are left to cope with
the unintended consequences.
June 21, 2005 - The Daily News (CN NS)
By Andrea MacDonald
HALIFAX - Sixteen people were arrested yesterday, accused of running a drug-delivery ring by phone. Dial-A-Dope, police say, involved dealers taking phone orders for crack or other drugs and taking them right to the callers' doors.
At about 6 a.m. yesterday, RCMP and Halifax Regional Police raided 10 homes around metro, seizing 11UKP2 pounds of crack cocaine and cocaine, and unspecified amounts of magic mushrooms and club-drug ecstasy.
They also seized vehicles and about $30,000 in cash.
The investigation began 14 months ago, and ramped up over the last five.
"Any bust of this magnitude will certainly have an effect on the street-level drug trade," Supt. Fred Sanford of Halifax Regional Police told a news conference at RCMP headquarters in Halifax yesterday.
"This is a significant number of people, and hopefully it will make a big difference."
Police said they weren't sure how much the rest of the drugs are worth. They also couldn't say how many clients Dial-A-Dope had. They did say the operators received and filled hundreds of orders per week.
Both forces said they had to keep a number of details under wraps so as not to jeopardize the investigation.
"You will probably see that there was a leader or leaders of this particular group," said RCMP Sgt. Rick Chadwick. "An organized crime group always has a leader or leaders."
The 16 people arrested face a range of charges, from possessing property obtained by proceeds of crime to trafficking cocaine and ecstasy. Almost all are from the Halifax area, though one is from Toronto.
One of the accused, Richard Michael Bonin of Timberlea, was sentenced to three years in jail back in 1992 for possessing cocaine valued at $21,000.
Stephen Allan Jennett, another of the accused, has two convictions for trafficking coke.
Most of the 16 were arraigned in Halifax provincial court late yesterday afternoon. Six were remanded until this morning, and the rest were released.
Police say more arrests are likely.
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