We need a Vermont RICO law

To the Editor:

I read with amusement the "Senate Panel Considers anti-gang bill" (BFP, 2-18-12) based on "concern" that things are starting to change here and Sen. Sears "concern" about gang activity with the southern Vt.'s "police officials," unnamed, and Sears "concerns" unqualified by any statistics. He then states that Vt. based gangs "appeared" to be rising up and some "appeared" to be joining Hell's Angels, again with no qualifiers or statistics, but who could defend some baggy-pants brown/black kids or the Hells Angels, who were started by returning WWII vets who missed the rush of combat or had PTSD?

Sears says we're seeing an increase in gangs in the prisons, where coincidentally more people of color are incarcerated (at about $50,000/yr. with NO rehabilitation) mostly for drug offenses, using the prison system for what is, as we all seem to understand now, a public health problem. Then Sears says the new "anti gang unit" ($150,000/yr.) will allow cops and prosecutors a "new vehicle" to prosecute these "conspirators" by their gang affiliation, the identifiers being anything from red bandanas to marked leather jackets on Harley riders?

But please don't stop there, let's make this new Vt. RICO law all inclusive by going after what the British journal Lancet calls the world's most dangerous drug, alcohol ("Alcohol more lethal than drugs, study says" BFP 11-1-10), and it's distributors, marketers, and enablers that causes fully 1/4 to 1/3 or more cases clogging our court system week in and week out in DUI/DLS charges. In the BFP's "Day In Court" report on 2-13-12, fully 11 of the 27 cases were DUI/ DLS and in the 2-11-12 report it was 24 of 50 cases. No one suggests returning to prohibition, but why not make the booze companies pay, like big tobacco did awhile ago, for the damages of the wake of the flood of this (legal) epidemic they create and support that will touch/kill millions more than illegal drugs and gangs ever will through the sheer legality of this dangerous and addictive drug.

Then we could consider the very large farms that conspire to traffic in human misery (illegal "workers", literally slaves on these LFO's), used RGbH for years knowing it was a carcinogen, using antibiotics in record amounts, polluting our waterways with liquid manure runoff, and trafficking in illegal smuggling of young women "enlisted" as prostitutes to "service" the illegal workers, some caught with the very names, contacts, farm addresses and GPS coordinates yet there's NO mention of those "conspiracies" or the farms involved?

And best of all, we could target the really largest "gang members", by their "colors", (neckties and suit jackets) as anyone reading these words will attest, I can guarantee everyone knows someone or has been personally robbed by those shiny-shod sharks and social vampires in courts, offices, showrooms and bank buildings, all similarly attired in suits with ties. But for now let's start with the baggy pants and leather jackets, it could be the beginning of reining in the "corrupt organizations."


Steve Merrill

North Troy, Vt.


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