Smuggling Drugs in Unwitting People's Car Trunks

This is clever:

A few miles away across the Rio Grande, the FBI determined that Chavez and Gomez were using lookouts to monitor the SENTRI Express Lane at the border. The lookouts identified "targets" -- people with regular commutes who primarily drove Ford vehicles. According to the FBI affidavit, the smugglers would follow their targets and get the vehicle identification number off the car's dashboard. Then a corrupt locksmith with access to Ford's vehicle database would make a duplicate key.

Keys in hand, the gang would put drugs in a car at night in Mexico and then pick up their shipment from the parked vehicle the next morning in Texas, authorities say.

This attack works because 1) there's a database of keys available to lots of people, and 2) both the SENTRI system and the victims are predictable.

Posted on July 25, 2011 at 5:59 AM • 84 Comments

Comments

Steve JonesJuly 25, 2011 6:34 AM

Very clever. Sounds like it shouldn't work, but clearly nobody thought of it until it was too late.
Great that the drugs were worth so much more than the cars that they didn't even bother stealing the cars, which would have been trivial.

Andrew GumbrellJuly 25, 2011 6:37 AM

It's as you are always saying, Bruce:
The bad guys will always find a way of circumventing any security system - it's a perpetual struggle.
The only answer I can see, as far as drugs is concerned, would be to legalise the lot of them. This would mean criminals would have to find some other way of making money and innocent 'mules' would not find themselves in prison.

valJuly 25, 2011 7:03 AM

Off topic
@Bruce

Would be really interesting to see your comments on what have happened in Norway on Friday 22d - double terror act by a person who killed more than 100 people, many of these were just teenagers (bomb and shoot out)
If all that could be done by a single narcissistic sociopath with sufficiently high IQ and drive, then an idea of what could have happen if there were more than one of them becomes a very scary thought.

EvertheWatcherJuly 25, 2011 7:03 AM

I guess "risk-based" screening doesn't quite have the infallibility its proponents believe.

Jose CuervoJuly 25, 2011 7:21 AM

The victim should not be held strictly liable for drug smuggling, but is culpable for not reasonably verifying what she was carrying in her car. She missed a pair of suitcases in her trunk while crossing a border.

DilbertJuly 25, 2011 7:26 AM

@Jose,

If you never put things in your trunk, how often to you check... just to make sure nothing "snuck in when you weren't looking"?

IngvarJuly 25, 2011 7:35 AM

I guess SENTRI has to de-list a bunch of Ford owners now...
An ever so trustworthy person using a Ford is obviously not a trustworthy combination.

Steve KJuly 25, 2011 7:43 AM

Type I and Type II error at the same time.

Innocent people will be convicted of possession.

Guilty people will use this arrest to generate reasonable doubt.

Jose CuervoJuly 25, 2011 7:46 AM

@ Dilbert: "just to make sure nothing "snuck in when you weren't looking"?"

In my opinion, you check when you drive across an international border rife with smuggling.

OrenJuly 25, 2011 7:52 AM

While we're on the topic, let's imagine what the TSA guys (who have master keys to every suitcase and the "right" to open them and rifle through your underwear) can plant inside your luggage, for whatever reason.

DavidJuly 25, 2011 8:00 AM

You would think that the key database would be audited occasionally - so if they saw a small locksmith in podunk Mexico requesting information for hundreds of spare keys, someone would get suspicious or terminate their access.

Another varriant of this could be to attach small containers of drugs under the car body (with magnets of something) - without ever needing a key at all. Hard to stop them from watching the border crossing and targeting vehicles that they could find on both sides of the border...

Clive RobinsonJuly 25, 2011 8:04 AM

This is a new version of "spiking the tire in the hotel car park".

As people visiting a hotel are required to give their names and addressess as well as pasports at most hotels in countries they do not live in the hotel and usually the local police know all about them.

Also entry and exit visas tend to give away when they are on the homeward leg.

It was not unknown for a tire to get a slow puncture in the parking lot and somebody in the hotel offer to drive the vehical to the local shop to get it fixed.

There various valuables would be added to the vehical bu fixing to the sub frame etc.

When they got home their car would get stolen by what appeared to be joy riders and the car found a few days later down some side ally (minus theextra valuables etc).

GreenSquirrelJuly 25, 2011 8:13 AM

@Jose

"In my opinion, you check when you drive across an international border rife with smuggling."

Why? Before reading this, who would have thought that someone would break into their car - without setting off alarms or leaving traces - to hide drugs?

I bet less than 1% of people who cross borders check their trunk (boot) to see if someone has broken in to hide things. Its not just drug smugglers - this attack vector can be used by all kinds of criminals.

AppSecJuly 25, 2011 8:16 AM

@Jose:

Do you give yourself breathalyzer tests when you are at a place that serves alcohol or parties with friends?

After all, people have been known to spike drinks.

Sorry, blaming the victim.. never good.

that said, it'd be curious to see if any of those ford owners were in on it and are using that whole plot as a cover.

GreenSquirrelJuly 25, 2011 8:23 AM

@Val - off topic

"If all that could be done by a single narcissistic sociopath with sufficiently high IQ and drive, then an idea of what could have happen if there were more than one of them becomes a very scary thought. "

Thats the crux of terrorism - fortunately the lone nutcase killer is quite rare and they dont usually form groups easily.

When they do, they get called a terrorist organisation (or freedom fighter depending on the colour of your shirt).

The main things I found (sadly) interesting about the aftermath of this pathetic scumbag (who doesnt deserve to be named) behaviour was the sequence of "expert" commentary:

Within an hour of the bomb blast we had security experts talking about this being AQ in response to some unspecified slight against Islam, including a few soundbites about how it needed a well organised and resourced terror cell (I am still trying to find copies online). Then after the shooting this magnified to being possibly two Islamic terrorist cells, Norway was a soft target, AQ inspired groups were everywhere, people were talking about another Mumbai etc.

The next morning when it turns out to be a tall, blonde, blue eyed Christian the EXACT SAME people are talking about how he is a lone nutcase, unaffiliated to anyone etc.

I find it interesting that when one type of person carries out a bomb/gun attack they can only have done it with support from a vast global network of terror cells but if another type of person does an almost identical attack its because they are a lone nutcase.

This double standard may not be racist and may have some sound bearing but the reality is that it does not help us improve our "security" posture at all.

larry seltzerJuly 25, 2011 8:59 AM

@Steve Jones: Not that I want to defend WHTI that aggressively, but if they stole the car and drove it across the border they wouldn't have the ID that goes with the car. I'm sure they're checking RFID for that card. And if they stole the card too they wouldn't have the face on the card.

The scheme they used was much better because if it worked the whole crime could have gone unnoticed.

Richard Steven HackJuly 25, 2011 9:01 AM

It wouldn't matter if everyone checked their trunks, the criminals would just find another way to hide the stuff in some other vehicle. Do the border cops tear apart every tractor trailer that crosses the border right down to the last box of mangoes or whatever? Wasn't the agreement between countries about the "Superhighway" suppose to remove that requirement?

This trick of hiding things in other people's vehicles is undoubtedly done by lower level smugglers. The REAL stuff - tons of it - comes in via other means - and probably with connivance by considerably more important people in the US.

In things like shipping containers off ships in every port in the country. How many times have we read in the context of terrorism how few port inspectors there are and how they can only spot inspect most of the hundreds of thousands of containers coming through any given port?

The big drug dealers are using SUBMARINES now, for Jesus Baron von Christ's sakes!

As for the Norway case, I'm still wondering how this guy was so good with an automatic weapon that he managed to kill 80 people in one attack. I haven't read any detailed report of how the attack took place as yet. But given that only twenty percent of people who are shot actually die on average, I find it interesting that he managed to reach that body count in one attack. The victims must have been really packed in there... Even so, it's not easy for one person to kill 80 people even if your bullets are going through more than one person at a time.

I mean, the guy's weapon probably has a magazine with thirty rounds in it. He had time to reload at least twice, AND make every shot count perfectly? He carried how many magazines?

That said, it's exactly as I said before. ONE GUY with the right weapons and some explosives can produce considerable havoc if he's competent and motivated.

Now imagine that there are FIFTY copies of this guy wandering around your country with the intent to reproduce this attack EVERY WEEK, if not every DAY.

The US attacks Iran, you're going to find out how that works out.

BrianJuly 25, 2011 9:04 AM

So now that I know this, would I have plausible deniability if I started smuggling pot across the border in my Ford as long as I got the right kind of duffel bag?

Richard Steven HackJuly 25, 2011 9:09 AM

Article I just read explains part of it:

"“He was in a policeman’s suit, so he attracted people and said things were OK; therefore many walked to him and got shot,” Stensrud said."

But still - after the first person gets shot near him? Everyone is described as running in all directions, out windows and doors - and he still manages 86 perfect kills? No one rushes him? (Very common in terrorist attacks - the victims do try to fight back even at gunpoint - happened to Carlos the Jackal in the Vienna oil minister kidnapping)

I guess you had to be there...

PaeniteoJuly 25, 2011 9:10 AM

@larry seltzer: "if they stole the car and drove it across the border they wouldn't have the ID that goes with the car"

You have an "ID that goes with the car" which must be presented during vehicle checks?

Rory AlsopJuly 25, 2011 9:13 AM

@Richard - the island was populated by a summer youth camp plus some supervisors. Not much defence going on. You will see from the news that he didn't make every shot count perfectly, many were injured. He just fired an awful lot of bullets at a large number of defenceless teenagers.

Fred PJuly 25, 2011 9:43 AM

@Andrew Gumbrell-

Apparently dealing with users and low-level pushers as if they had a health problem works pretty well, too. That tends to isolate the major dealers from their market, and thereby shrink the market.

No OneJuly 25, 2011 9:45 AM

@Paeniteo, 'You have an "ID that goes with the car" which must be presented during vehicle checks?': I'm guessing that it's part of the SENTRI process.

*Checking internet*

Looks like you're issued an RFID card and an RFID decal. I would assume those are linked. The SENTRI card has your photo on it.

So yes, if you're using the SENTRI program it sounds like it's a car-person pair that is verified for fast-tracking through the border.

dobJuly 25, 2011 9:55 AM

@Steve Jones:

"Great that the drugs were worth so much more than the cars that they didn't even bother stealing the cars, which would have been trivial."

Stealing the cars would have been an early tip-off to the police that something unusual was afoot.

Tony H.July 25, 2011 10:04 AM

So there's a database of key info out there... Just like those RSA tokens, it's a tradeoff of security vs convenience. Except in the case of a consumer product like car keys, of course convenience will always win.

AndrewJuly 25, 2011 10:08 AM

@david: "you would think the key database would be audited", and @Tony H. "So there's a database of key info out there"

That part doesn't matter. Any locksmith or talented amateur can open a car trunk in under 5 seconds with a lockpick set. The database of key info is actually a weak link in the criminal's plan, extra clues to get them caught.

anonJuly 25, 2011 10:10 AM

@RSH

I thought I heard on CNN that several of the people who may have been shot, but only injured, laid down and "played dead", but the gunman walked up to them and shot them in the head, thereby increasing the number killed.

Richard Steven HackJuly 25, 2011 10:20 AM

Rory: Apparently he caught some people in a room they could not exit, killed I think nine there, which is ten percent of the total right there.

But it's still a major achievement to kill that many people in an attack lasting only about an hour, with people running around and hiding and even fleeing into the water around the island, according to the BBC.

The BBC noted this: "Police have said they are not searching for a second attacker, but have not ruled out more people being involved, after eyewitness reports suggested a possible second shooter."

Wikipedia also cites this:

"Possible accomplices

Several witnesses at the youth camp expressed doubt that there was only one shooter.[85] The police have received descriptions of a second gunman, and are currently working to confirm or deny the accuracy of this new information. Due to the uncertainty surrounding these witness descriptions and the chaotic nature of the events, the police have, as a matter of precaution, yet to make an official comment on the matter.[86][87] Breivik has claimed that he acted alone and that he had no accomplices.[88] On 24 July, six more people were arrested in Oslo in connection with the attacks and then released as they are said to be no longer suspected of involvement."

I can't find any significant useful witness testimony anywhere. Wikipedia's recap is almost useless, having many discrepancies.

For instance, the shooter is described by police as having had a pistol and an "automatic weapon", but Wikipedia cites a report claiming "however Breivik later came by to shoot them again in the head with a shotgun." Where did the shotgun go? The police said nothing about it.

Wikipedia says the following about his preparations:

"Following the failed attempt to buy firearms in Prague, he decided to obtain a semi-automatic rifle and a Glock pistol legally in Norway, noting that he had a "clean criminal record, hunting license, and a pump action shotgun Benelli Nova already for seven years", and thus obtaining the guns legally should not be a problem.[15]"

OK, there's the shotgun... Why didn't the police find it? Shotguns wounds - even with slugs instead of buckshot - are very different from rifle and pistol wounds and the medics would have reported this and the police would have searched for the weapon.

"Upon returning to Norway, Breivik obtained a legal permit for a Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic carbine, ostensibly for the purpose of hunting deer. He bought it in autumn 2010 for €1,400. "

A Ruger Mini-14 is NOT an "automatic weapon" (unless you convert it according to various manuals available on the Internet, which requires some mechanical modifications). Even then it is not designed as an automatic weapon and probably cannot be fired as such accurately by someone who has not trained with it in full auto mode.

"Getting a permit for the pistol proved more difficult, as he had to demonstrate regular attendance at a sport shooting club.[18] He also bought 10 30-round magazines from a US supplier."

Wikipedia says "The mass shooting reportedly lasted for around an hour and a half, ending only when the shooter had run out of ammunition." But other reports I read say he had plenty of ammunition left when he was arrested by police (without resisting apparently).

So he had a maximum of 300 rounds available on him for the attack, not counting the pistol. Enough to rack up the body count reported, but still have some left over when he was arrested.

"In November, December and January he went through 15 training sessions at the Oslo Pistol Club, and by mid-January his application to purchase a Glock pistol was approved."

So he had a total of 15 training sessions in using his weapons, and according to Wikipedia "Breivik was exempt from conscription in the Norwegian Army, and has no military training."

Yet he managed to kill 86 people PERFECTLY while only wounding an equivalent 97 people.

In normal military combat, the number of wounded vs the number of fatalities is usually considerably in favor of the former. For instance, according to one article I read, "Because of new body armor and advances in military medicine, for example, the ratio of combat-zone deaths to those wounded has dropped from 24 percent in Vietnam to 13 percent in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Yet this guy - with 15 episodes of training - managed to produce an almost one-to-one ratio in deaths vs wounds.

You have to fire an automatic weapon in bursts of no more than three rounds or so, or the weapon climbs off target due to recoil and you end up hitting nothing. So unless this guy was well trained and shot everyone with perfect three-round bursts, he either would run out of his 300 rounds of ammo, or he wouldn't have anywhere near the death to wound ratio reported.

Allegedly, hospitals reported "that the shooter used hollow-point bullets or frangible bullets to cause as much tissue damage as possible to victims" with some reports calling them "dum-dum bullets". All three of those are quite different things.

No doubt some of this is due to the nature of the event and eventually a more coherent account will emerge. However, right now, the reports don't make a lot of sense. This guy should not have been able to produce the death toll he produced unless people were standing in front of him waiting to get shot.

aikimarkJuly 25, 2011 10:20 AM

@GreenSquirrel

We would all like to think that 'enemy' defines a foreign entity, rather than an 'the enemy from within'. Domestic terrorists such as Eric Robert Rudolph (Christian Identity) used religious beliefs to justify their acts, which should have been soundly denounced by churches nationwide. Unfortunately, Christianity is the dominant religion in America and didn't feel the need to distance itself from his actions.

This also happens with non-capital crimes on racial divisions.
* 'they' commit 'those' kinds of crimes.
* 'oh, great. now everyone who sees me will think I might commit that kind of crime.'

Richard Steven HackJuly 25, 2011 10:23 AM

By the way, if he did most of the shooting with the rifle, and killed 86 and wounded 97, out of 300 rounds of ammunition, then he achieved a hit ratio of almost one out of two shots.

New York police officers only hit what they're shooting at about 24 percent of the time (granted, with pistols rather than rifles which are inherently less accurate.) The only reason any New York cops are still alive is because criminals only hit what they're shooting at ELEVEN percent of the time.

This guy with 15 training sessions hit 183 times out of 300 (with some ammo left over.) That's over fifty percent.

Something's fishy.

GreenSquirrelJuly 25, 2011 10:30 AM

@RSH

Good points about how many he killed, however as Rory pointed out this was a youth camp so the defenders behaviour can sort of be understood.

From what I have read, quite a few of the casualties were killed trying to swim away which is sad when you think how frightened everyone must be.

Historically speaking, when a gunman goes into a populated area and starts shooting, very, very few people try to rush and attack - the "flight" response seems to dominate. When the gunman is in a police uniform and people may have heard reports of a bomb going off in the Capitol, then I suspect enough confusion is going to be present that no one can organise themselves well enough to mount an attack.

Lastly, while we *know* that attacking the gunman is the best form of defence for the whole group it needs a large enough group of people willing to die to save others for it to work. A few short of the "right" number and everyone just dies for their troubles.

Regarding his combat skills - they dont need to be that good, given that he is shooting fish in a barrel. Like everyone his age in Norway, he did service with a reasonably good military - It only takes a moment to change a magazine and it is trivial to make sure you have at least 6 - 8 close enough to hand no one will get the idea to charge you during a change.

I dont think there was any need for him to be competent - he just had automatic weapons.

One of the things soldiers (at least in the UK) are drilled is that the way out of an ambush is to "fix bayonets and charge the enemy." This results in massive casualty rates, but if you are in a kill zone its the difference between everyone dying and "only" 80% dying. Can you seriously ask children and youth workers to make that decision?

(Last point: be careful of using phrases like perfect kills unless we find out he was in the land of one-shot-one-kill, there is no such thing. Some bodies will have been hit a dozen times, some will have bled out waiting for help, some will have drowned in the water. "Perfect kills" is the land of the conspiracy theorist)

GreenSquirrelJuly 25, 2011 10:32 AM

@RSH

"... according to Wikipedia "Breivik was exempt from conscription in the Norwegian Army, and has no military training.""

Not sure where Wikipedia got that from. The press over here is reporting he did his national service.

Richard Steven HackJuly 25, 2011 10:42 AM

According to NPR: "Police now say 8 people died because of the explosion in Oslo and 68 people died on the island of Utøya, bringing the death toll to 76. Police corrected the previous estimate of 93, reports Reuters, "citing difficulties in gathering information at Utøya island."

Which means he killed 18 fewer people. If the wounded total remains the same, it's a better ratio, but still questionable for his level of skill and the nature of the attack.

And this is interesting: "'Breivik said his organization had "two more cells,' a statement Norweigan authorities are investigating."

If he had help, the attack counts would make a LOT more sense.

The New York Times repeats "According to the police, when he surrendered, Mr. Breivik was carrying an automatic rifle and a pistol and he still retained “a considerable amount of ammunition.” Doctors have said that he was apparently using dumdum bullets, expanding rounds designed to inflict the deadliest wounds possible victims."

No shotgun. Retained at least some significant part of his 300 rounds, meaning his ratio was even higher.

And once again, "dumdum" is a meaningless term if you don't know exactly what ammunition was being used. Besides which, a Mini-14 shoots 7.62x39 AK ammo, which is not easily "dumdum'd", unless they were referring to his Glock ammo (they don't specify the Glock model either, so was it .45, 9mm or .40?)

Richard Steven HackJuly 25, 2011 11:10 AM

Green Squirrel: Not saying the victims had to attack him, just saying it's not unusual in terrorism events like this for the terrorist not to be rushed once it's clear the people being targeted are going to die. Like the people on the 9/11 plane.

As for those killed swimming, that is even less likely unless he was a particularly good shot. Swimming is a violent activity, hard to hit someone engaged in it unless you're right on top of them.

And again, he did NOT have an "automatic weapon" unless he converted that Mini-14 - which is probably unlikely. And even if he did, as I indicated, he probably was not firing full auto or he probably would have run out of ammo long before he racked up that body count of 183 people (now less than that since the count has been revised down to 68 killed and an unknown number wounded, however.)

On "perfect kills", that is my exact point. He killed TOO MANY compared to the number wounded and given the situation in which most people were trying to evade him, at least once he was identified as a threat.

Apparently his writings included these statements:

"End note 1: I will try to order a one week “shooting vacation” in a Christian African country. I will try to find a “gun resort” with access to assault rifles. I may bring my own “red point” aim in order to get used to it.

End note 2: As i have now acquired a legal semi automatic Ruger Mini 14 I can legally practice at the gun range. Full auto training is not really required."

This pretty much confirms he was not using a full auto Mini-14, as well as confirming that he didn't have much training.

Also, I read elsewhere that his Glock was a model 17, which is 9mm, with standard 17-round magazines. Probably not a factor in the actual attack unless he used it to execute a few people at close range.

Reportedly he also had an EOTech brand holographic sight on the Mini-14 which is an "open eyes" sight which puts a red dot on the target and significantly improves firearm handling. Supposedly the US military uses them. Nonetheless, I don't see that materially changing the reported ratio of kills to wounds.

In another part of his "manifesto", under a section titled "Marksmanship," Berwick notes that target practice with "a real assault rifle" is important, but that "[simulation] by playing Call of Duty, Modern Warfare is a good alternative as well."

That doesn't sound like a guy whose military service served him in good stead in this event.

And it was the state-run broadcaster NRK "which reported that Breivik does not have a military background and, in fact, was exempt from Norway's mandatory military service. He has not had any special military training, it adds on its website."

So someone needs to clear that little bit up...

This is the sort of "lone gunman" who ends up possibly not being so "lone" as time goes on...with his story being manufactured to fit events rather than the reverse.

Clive RobinsonJuly 25, 2011 11:21 AM

@ Richard Steven Hack,

I think you are showing the prejudice of age.

If you go back the 40-50years when you were around the age of these children and of the first generation born after a very brutal war, most parents then had a very different attitude to children than they do today.

Both my parents had fought in that war and they made darn sure (before I was orphaned) that I new how to use tools, wash myself properly, cook, clean game and generaly be able to look after myself. I frequently had the job of preparing chickens etc and thought nothing about taking them from pecking to dinner plate.

My parents had no qualms (even after I choped the corner of my finger off with a modeling knife when I was eight) letting me have both a pen knife with 3inch locking blade and eight inch sheath knife that I took to both "cubs" and "scouts" and carried around the pen knife in my pocket when not at school. I was encoraged to "whitle" and model make as where most other children I knew.

I learned to use a hand axe when around nine and a full size felling axe by the time I was thirteen and how to chop trees down safely. This again was normal for kids of my age. I was lucky in that a friend of the family taught me how to poach game and fish (and to use the illegal otter board).

My Uncle taught me to use a rifle to shoot rabbit and the local farmer had quite happily taught me how to use a 12 gauge shoot gun to kill pigeons when I was twelve, even though we hardly new each other, he recognised I was interested and taught me, because that was the way of things.

I frequently camped out on my own and knew how to live off the land.

As a teenager I learnt how to make explosives taught myself how to make and use a bow and arrows and throwing stick and spear.

All of this sounds absolutly astonishing to most parents these days and the modern scout association far from teaching these skills won't even let scouts use small pen knives these days unless under strict supervision...

But when I was a kid it was not abnormal for those living on the edge of town etc.

All of these people who taught me these skills always told me why it was good to know them and importantly how to do things safely. Most had done their time in the armed forces many had close in combat and knew what it was like to kill and how to avoid being killed and they would tell you in quite moments about these things.

As for Norway and the number of kills no I'm not actually surprised these days kids don't play hide and seak or wide games any more they know nothing of stalking game and thus would try to hide by covering their heads and wimpering not getting into deepcover and staying both very still and quite.

Likewise they would not know that the way to deal with a lone gunman is to "rush him down" in an attack from different directions at the same time with whatever weapons you had to hand.

How many kids have been shown how to turn a newspaper into an effective weapon simply by rolling up tight and using it as a short thrusting weapon to multiply the point force sufficient to break ribs and other bones?

Am I the only person to note the less we teach children how to fight and defend themselves the faster knife and gun crime rises, and belive me it has nothing to do with the availability of guns, they were very very easily available when I was a kid as was amunition, many people had them in their homes as "trophies of war".

I'm of the opinion right or wrong that the way to reduce violence is to teach it to children when they are young along with the consiquences so they have a "health knowledge" of it and don't "glorify it".

I'm aware it puts me at odds with the "politicaly correct" and "health and safety" jobs worths but I don't see them actually solving problems mearly hiding from them

the other AlanJuly 25, 2011 11:50 AM

Isn't this a bit analogous to TSA searching a grandma's diaper or frisking a young child? To prevent something like this happening with weapons and explosives? As in some sort of trojan attack? I still find it terribly abhorrent, the searching of grandmas and babies. That there could be some unaware mules makes it especially more important to not have quick-pass lanes for cars at the border. Too much opportunity to do this sort of thing.

AdrianJuly 25, 2011 11:54 AM

I hadn't heard of SENTRI, so I tried to look it up. The top hits on Google all appear to dead links. I can find bits and pieces in the cache, though. Does this program still exist?

GreenSquirrelJuly 25, 2011 12:53 PM

@RSH

"Not saying the victims had to attack him, just saying it's not unusual in terrorism events like this for the terrorist not to be rushed once it's clear the people being targeted are going to die. Like the people on the 9/11 plane."

I dont disagree with that, but this is a very different situation. The victims werent trapped in a box knowing they were about to die and had lots of apparent escape options open to them - for most of them, running away would have seemed the much better option. With hindsight we know differently - they dont have that benefit. In most shooting situations, people run. Its human.

I still dont think that this falls into the category of perfect kills. In both Africa and the Balkans I have seen very small groups of people enter villages and easily kill four or five times this number per person.

Until the investigation shows that each person was killed with the first shot fired, then it seems more likely that people will have been shot in various body parts and died in the aftermath.

Now, crucially, I am not saying that there arent other, equally dangerous, unblanced nutcases that are allied to his cause and it is no way certain that he is the same person who detonated the bomb but - so far - there is no strong reason to believe anyone else was there shooting with him.

The pathetic excuse for a human has claimed he has at least 11 other like minded scum, so we have no reason to doubt that but I think the idea that there were more people shooting up the youth retreat is on shallow ice.

Why havent any other witnesses mentioned it?

As for military service - I suppose it is anyones guess. The BBC currently says he did "normal" national service: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14259989

vlionJuly 25, 2011 4:41 PM

Very curious business as RSH points out. As a hunter, it's not 'easy' to hit a moving target. It takes a good deal of focus and precision to hit anything past a certain range, especially standing. That's a terrifically hard pose for accuracy.

Fish, I smell them rotting.

I look forward to the memoirs in 40 years from the people who know what really happened.

JonJuly 25, 2011 6:34 PM

@ vlion: "Fish, I smell them rotting. As a hunter, it's not 'easy' to hit a moving target. It takes a good deal of focus and precision to hit anything past a certain range, especially standing"

Yay for stupid conspiracy theories!

Utøya is a very small island shaped a bit like a trapezoid. It's about 250m corner to corner on the long axis, 200m corner to corner on the short axis. It he just stood still in the middle of the island none of his shots would have been over 100m. If he moved even a little bt all his shots would have been around 50m. There is not much precision or accuracy required at those kinds of ranges, even against moving targets.

Facts. They're good for you. Supposition, on the other hand, that's bad for you.

Jon

NZJuly 25, 2011 6:37 PM

Back to the original story: it looks like almost anyone can look up VIN number (tend to printed on the front glass) and then open that Ford without setting off the alarm. Sounds scary to me (yes, I used to drive a Ford :D ).

Dirk PraetJuly 25, 2011 6:48 PM

On topic: it's quite clever indeed and just goes to show how inventive (some) criminals are. I guess AQ could have been much more efficient if ever they would have been succesfull at enlisting folks like these that actually have a brain. Until such a time that the US dramatically changes its current policies, the failed war on drugs will just continue to linger. It's never gonna get solved by destroying crops, intensifying border controls or going after users and small fish. It will only end the moment LE and DoJ are given the proper means to chart and bleed the gigantic money streams that are being generated. But even with a toll of tens of thousands in deaths and destroyed lives each year, today's reality is that governments rather stick to a strategy that has proven a complete failure than wise up on the issue.

Off-topic: skimming through the impressive 1,500 page '2083 - A European Declaration of Independence' by the Oslo monster, he appears to be very influenced by the likes of Oswald Spengler ('Untergang des Abendlandes') and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, whose manifesto he has apparently copied quite some stuff from. I wonder how Norway is going to deal with him as currently they don't have any laws that fit his crime. 21 years in prison is the most he can get. Makes you wonder, especially because in some other very civilised countries you can get much more than that for comparatively minor offenses such as computer related crimes.

This is one sick person, and in terms of cowardice on par only with other lunatics justifying mass murder of innocent civilians to attract media attention for their insane causes. I wish all media would stop reporting about him, his mad ideas and his name to be stricken from history as if he never existed.

PhocksJuly 25, 2011 7:41 PM

Regarding Norway, first of all let's just assume that the news reporting is the same as the rest of the planet- innaccurate and based on the first person they could get an answer from. Next, assuming for a moment that he was using an optic for the rifle and reserving the glock for coup-de-grace shots, 330 rounds of 5.56 (possibly more, we know he had at LEAST 11 30 round magazines) and with a little practice, hitting unconcealed human-size targets at say, 50m is trivial. I don't have the statistics at hand for UNTREATED gunshot wounds, but many hits will bleed you out in an hour or so if let be, even if they are easily treated by trained personel. Finally, consider he averaged and 30 seconds per victim, even at the highest casualty estimate. That's a lot of time to aim. Worse, assuming he is the sort that probably spent a lot of time studying how professionals work, he probably was careful to hit every victim at least twice if possible, and reports seem to indicate this happened. If the final casualty figure ends up being around 150 wounded and killed, then he wouldn't even have needed his handgun.

By the way, most military gunshot victims are hit in the extremities, and receive prompt, extremely effective aid thus the higher rate of survival; most civilian gunshot victims are hit by small-calibre pistols, also usually in the extremities, also greatly adding to the chance of survival.

godelJuly 25, 2011 7:43 PM

@Jose Cuervo

Re: checking in the trunk -- What if instead of pot they had been smuggling coke or heroin, a much smaller package that might be concealed in a wheel well or some other crevice?

I suspect even a careful motorist could be caught out in the long run.

AndyJuly 25, 2011 7:47 PM

@Clive Robinson, good point.
In society you would have a range of physical strengths etc. If you trained say 10-15 year olds in the whole country in martial arts, you will still have the same band cap in physical strengths, but rather than who is stronger it will change to who is weaker so to speak.
The human body can be very strong(live with a knife in you/high voltage...) and very weak(one hit to the wrong part of the body).
If every one is trained then you know not to pick a fight with someone as you could easily be killed, rather than pick a fight with someone because you can't

More mollow

grouchosuaveJuly 25, 2011 8:28 PM

regarding RSH
Focused on reportage discrepancies vastly more than the event itself. A fixation on the hardware. Such fixation enabling recitation of specs, acronyms, model numbers, reiteration of own "military experience"- all rhetorical devices to build a posture of expertise. Underlying self-valorization on grounds of his own special insight, intelligence, claim to reason, role as whistleblower. All point to "something fishy": a claim of coverup and conspiracy which (like most) never is actually described, never analyzed on its own as to likelihood, never directly supported or even articulated in full.
This is such a typical manifestation of the conspiracism pathology that I wonder why I'm even responding.

@Jon
"Facts. They're good for you. Supposition, on the other hand, that's bad for you."

'zackly

Richard Steven HackJuly 25, 2011 9:17 PM

Clive: Agree with you on child education. As I've indicated before, mandatory training in martial arts - especially including the philosophical aspects and meditation - would be a great improvement over the current emphasis on "sports" and would improve the population's ability to respond to life's problems far more than almost anything else that could be done.

Phocks: "Next, assuming for a moment that he was using an optic for the rifle"

He was, or more precisely an "open eyes" sight utilizing a red dot. A telescopic sight would have been useless under the conditions of moving targets.

"330 rounds of 5.56"

That's right, I was thinking of the Ruger Mini-30 - a very similar model to the Mini-14 - when I said 7.62x39. My bad. But that makes it even more unlikely that he was using "dumdums" since the bullets are smaller.

"(possibly more, we know he had at LEAST 11 30 round magazines)"

Almost certainly 10 as reported, although he might have gotten a couple tossed in with the rifle. But according to the police, he had "a considerable amount" of ammo left over, so he didn't use it all.

"and with a little practice, hitting unconcealed human-size targets at say, 50m is trivial."

That's 164 feet - that is not trivial if the targets are in motion. Granted, apparently quite a few of his victims were at much closer range, such as inside buildings and in the initial attack before he was identified as a threat due to his police uniform. I suspect a large proportion of the fatalities occurred in those portions of the assault which would help to explain it.

"I don't have the statistics at hand for UNTREATED gunshot wounds, but many hits will bleed you out in an hour or so if let be, even if they are easily treated by trained personel."

I don't think this affects the near-parity between the wounded and killed in this case, but I don't have that average available either.

"Finally, consider he averaged and 30 seconds per victim"

Where do you get that figure - from the casualty count vs the hour involved? Keep in mind he had to move around and chase down some of the victims. Also, the time to aim is irrelevant if you're talking about moving victims - based on sniper tactics, you'd have no more than a couple seconds per victim before they move again.

Anyone can evade a non-sniper trained rifle shooter just by moving sufficiently approximately every two seconds. On the other hand, these untrained victims probably weren't running in an evasive pattern, but just running, often in a straight line away from him, so it would have been easier for him.

"Worse, assuming he is the sort that probably spent a lot of time studying how professionals work,"

Possibly correct.

"he probably was careful to hit every victim at least twice if possible, and reports seem to indicate this happened."

I wouldn't be surprised, but then the second shot might not be on target unless he re-aimed for the second shot. This raises the amount of ammo he had to expend to hit 150 or more people out of the 300 rounds he had and still have ammo left over, which makes his excellent accuracy every better.

"If the final casualty figure ends up being around 150 wounded and killed, then he wouldn't even have needed his handgun."

Probably.

"By the way, most military gunshot victims are hit in the extremities, and receive prompt, extremely effective aid thus the higher rate of survival; most civilian gunshot victims are hit by small-calibre pistols, also usually in the extremities, also greatly adding to the chance of survival."

Correct.

Green Squirrel:

"Why havent any other witnesses mentioned it? [Additional shooters]

Some did. The police currently don't believe it, but as one put it, they "don't dare" dismiss it.

"In both Africa and the Balkans I have seen very small groups of people enter villages and easily kill four or five times this number per person."

I'll take your word for that, but I suspect that would more likely involve military situations, and I suspect herded victims rather than a "melee" situation with people running around. Also perhaps a longer time period for these sorts of massacres.

I'll grant that there were a lot of people (some 500 plus, I think?) within a very small area, which undoubtedly made it easier. Also, I don't have a description of the grounds - if it was mostly flat and open, that would have made it easier given the number of victims present.

Nonetheless, this guy was considerably more effective than most random shooters I've ever heard about. All I'm saying...

Grouchosuave: Your fixation on emulating a psychiatrist - presumably without the license or any knowledge of the subject or the individual involved - is equally a pathology.

AndyJuly 25, 2011 9:44 PM

@Richard Steven Hack , I'm guess the large number would be that he didn't have to think about anything else apart from aimming and pulling the trigger, there was anyone fireing back or throwing stones what not.

Question why did the police take a hour... they had a boat(small and fulling with water), why couldn't one or two cops with one or two clips take the boat over, even if it was one cop(that might have died), it probable would have dropped the number killed down to 10-20(2 min boat trip) maybe

Nick PJuly 25, 2011 10:34 PM

This isnt entirely new conceptually. It's actually a form of subversion. Using semiabandoned buildings as drops and storage is a similar concept. Covert channel, hacked WiFi hotspots, botnets, and the old beige boxes come to mind. Couriers have also been tricked into moving contraband and state secrets. It seems this is a novel application of existing subversion principles.

DaveJuly 25, 2011 10:57 PM

>Sounds like it shouldn't work, but clearly nobody thought of it until it was too late.

Actually Bruce thought of it some time ago when he pointed out that TSA "trusted traveller" programs wouldn't work, for exactly the same reason that SENTRI doesn't work: once the bad guys realise that any express-lane program gives them a free ticket, they'll target that instead of the slow lane.

DaveJuly 25, 2011 11:12 PM

>Several witnesses at the youth camp expressed doubt that there was only
>one shooter. The police have received descriptions of a second gunman,

Was he the guy on the grassy knoll?

Richard Steven HackJuly 25, 2011 11:17 PM

Andy: I agree, the Norwegian cops bungled this one. Especially embarrassing to them because he surrendered quietly in two minutes.

According to reports, "at 5:52 p.m., the first police patrol arrived at a spot on the mainland opposite the island, according to a police account. At 6:09, an emergency squad from Oslo arrived. The squad had had to drive because no helicopter was on standby, Police Chief Sveinung Sponheim said at a news conference Saturday.

But there was no boat. In a country with a proud seafaring tradition, the elite police unit was stranded onshore. Finally, Berg and others took the SWAT team to the island in their own motorboats. They landed at 6:25, well over an hour after the shooting began. Breivik was arrested without incident two minutes later. Police officers fired no shots."

People on the mainland could see what was going on, so the distance to the island was very short. Yet it took the cops a full half hour from their first arrival to land on the island!

And "there was no boat?" But people were trying to rescue the victims with their own boats - so there WERE boats there. And eventually the dentist Berg used his motorboat to transport the cops. So what was meant was there wasn't enough boat to carry ALL the cops over at once.

Just an example of how cops don't want to engage an armed suspect until they have "overwhelming firepower" a la the SLA case in LA where they had some 600 cops trying to take down a half dozen people or the Philadelphia MOVE case where the cops burned down a neighborhood.

You've got snipers, you've got automatic weapons, you've got Threat Level III and IV body armor. How hard is it to put two cops on the island, take cover and pin the guy down until you get reinforcements over?

Bloody cowards. Minimizing risk is one thing, refusing to move until you have an army behind you while people are getting killed is another.

Juan PerezJuly 25, 2011 11:31 PM

@Adrian

Yup, SENTRI is alive and well in the US-Mexico border and is the ultimate symbol of status for Mexicans visiting the US. With a SENTRI pass you don´t have to stand in line for hours. As for the smugglers, I need to remind you americans that if you stopped doing blow, the market would vanish. Just so you know.
Gracias.

Clive RobinsonJuly 26, 2011 12:08 AM

@ Dave,

"Actually Bruce thought of it... ...once the bad guys realise that any express-lane program gives them a free ticket, they'll target that instead of the slow lane"

Which is very obvious in it's own way, as part of the maxim of "path of least resistance", which has been known in "security" since before the middle ages as can be seen in the design of defended positions and a millennia or three prior to that in the remains of earth works in Europe and long prior to that in the pyramids of the Egyptians.

However what is not so obvious is why such systems as SENTRI exist...

That is "what is the rationale/payoff" economically etc.

One is "cheep labour" which is part of the more general "resource exploitation", which is a major trend in US policy both corporate and governmental.

And this is often quoted as one of the base reasons for the terrorist threat the US faces...

So join the dots one way you get a pretty picture of "healthy balance sheets and rapid ecomomic growth" join the dots a different way and you get a far far darker and uglier picture of "exploitation and psudo slavery and abuse on a grand scale".

I'll let others chose how they join the dots and what picture they get.

Oh and have a look at Norway's close neighbour Sweden, they have one of the fastest growing economies in the world they also give more per head of population or by GDP in charity than any other country in the world, they have long followed sustainable and green economic development models, they also have good health care and better working conditions than most other countries and as a consequence a much greater life expectancy...

You never know we all might benefit from looking at little "best practice" depending on how you define it...

Any way it's time here to put on the kettle and make breakfast, I guess after the above I will forgo the major fry up and precursor to coronary surgery known as a "Full English" (although the Scots do it better ;) and go a little continental 8)

Jose CuervoJuly 26, 2011 4:11 AM

@ Godel

If the driver didn't notice two extra suitcases in her car trunk she could have missed trafficked people or crates of weapons. The driver should have opened her trunk before she crossed an international border to catch the large stuff if not the small. There's a scale between being careful and careless.

Richard Steven HackJuly 26, 2011 6:00 AM

Jose: Your average person is not going to even begin to comprehend that someone could be smuggling something in her vehicle without her consent or knowledge.

The average person has almost ZERO security imagination.

And you said essentially the same thing on July 25, 2011 7:21 AM - and the situation hasn't changed since then. Re-iterating that the driver is culpable does not make them culpable.

Do you check your trunk every time you drive around the city? How do you know you're not "delivering drugs" for drug dealers all over your city? Granted, the border is a different matter in terms of the probability of smuggling, but it's precisely the same concept.

Suppose I dump fifty pounds of C-4 with a detonator in your trunk and let you drive it to your job at a government building and then command detonate it? The debris and your body parts lead the authorities right back to...you.

Do we find you "culpable"? Because you didn't check your trunk, despite any government building possibly being a terrorist target?

A quick Google leads me to an article about the Douglas, Arizona, point of entry: "The Douglas POE for vehicle and pedestrian traffic is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Between 2003 and 2007, an average of more than 5.4 million people each year (more than 14,700 per day) passed through the Douglas POE from Agua Prieta into Douglas. About 60 percent of these were non-U.S. citizens, while 40 percent were U.S. citizens returning from Mexico."

That's 14,700 people PER DAY crossing the border, 40 percent being US citizens which is 5,880 people PER DAY at this ONE entry point.

Tijuana is rather different - the figure is MUCH higher: "About 300,000 visitors cross by foot or car from the San Ysidro point of entry (to Tijuana) in the United States every day."

Do you know how many Mexicans cross the border every day to shop and work in the US? 700,000, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Web site.

You want each of those US citizens - and presumably ALL the Mexican citizens - to check their trunk before crossing the border.

Based on this one case of some low level smugglers using some people's cars to transport contraband.

Your notion is ridiculous. If the Border Patrol is not tearing down every car that crosses the border, why should US citizens or anyone else expend an effort to check for what is certainly a one in ten thousand possibility?

BillJuly 26, 2011 6:09 AM

@Greensquirrel

-- Off topic --

Re: One of the things soldiers (at least in the UK) are drilled is that the way out of an ambush is to "fix bayonets and charge the enemy."

Things have probably changed since I served in the 90's, but ambush drills vary depending on context. Here I presume you're refering to a foot patrol.

Yes, under some circumstances - notably at close quarters - we'd counter-attack immediately and push through the enemy position. Best avoided.

But most of the time where there was cover, we'd take it TYVM, have a think, maybe yell a bit e.g. "HAS ANYONE SEEN THE ENEMY?!" have a conversation (generally without a brew and squashed fly biscuits at this point), then go to work. ;)

JonadabJuly 26, 2011 6:42 AM

> they didn't even bother stealing the
> cars, which would have been trivial.

If I understand the scheme correctly, the same cars could be used repeatedly for multiple shipments (they're regular commuters, after all), so even if they were worth more (even substantially more) than an individual shipment, stealing them would still be actively counterproductive to the criminals' purpose. Every vehicle they steal would then have to be replaced with another one, which would get old fast.

> The only answer I can see, as far as
> drugs is concerned, would be to legalise
> the lot of them. This would mean criminals
> would have to find some other way of
> making money

That's a logical fallacy. While it's technically true that where there is no law there is no crime, that doesn't make total anarchy either desirable or safe.

It makes sense to legalize things that are effectively *completely* uncontrollable. I don't mean things that you can't absolutely prevent anyone from doing ever, but things that you can't really ever have much significant impact on how many people are doing them. The classic example is lying: all major religions teach that lying is wrong, but very few if any governments attempt to outlaw it (except in very limited circumstances, such as while under oath in court), because enforcing a general law against untruthfulness would be a completely hopeless endeavor. In the realm of drugs, the closest thing to this is alcohol, which anybody with a third-grade eduction can make from readily available materials that cannot be outlawed (chiefly, food -- you also need a more-or-less airtight container; I actually managed to *inadvertently* ferment half an apple when I was in about third grade, just by leaving it in a zipped coat pocket and forgetting it was there). This is why prohibition was a bad idea and why it failed: because there's no way it could actually prevent people from having alcohol. Nobody (or very nearly nobody) who decided that they wanted alcohol was effectively prevented from having it. In a case like that, legalization makes good sense.

But not all drugs are like that. Some of them are a *LOT* easier to control than alcohol. Yes, a few people will manage to smuggle them in anyway. Sure. No law is perfectly enforced. We have laws against theft, for example, and it still happens anyway, but we don't legalize it, because the laws *can* significantly reduce the amount of theft that goes on (although the erosion of our legal system is making it less and less effective all the time; but that's something we potentially could fix and certainly ought to try to fix; many societies exist which effectively limit theft to a very low rate, so we know it's possible to do).

I would be willing to entertain an arguments to the effect that *certain* drugs should perhaps be legalized, if the laws against them are completely (or almost completely) unenforceable, but I would want to see clear reasoning about why the law is effectively unenforceable in each case.

I strongly disagree with a blanket "legalize them all" approach.

Richard Steven HackJuly 26, 2011 9:13 AM

Jonadab: "While it's technically true that where there is no law there is no crime, that doesn't make total anarchy either desirable or safe."

A black market is more anarchic than legalization. That's the point of legalization.

The notion that if this country legalized all drugs, there would be "anarchy" is utter hogwash in the same way as the notion that legalized alcohol would produce "anarchy" during Prohibition.

And if it were true, what does that say about American society? If it requires "morality police" to keep the country from descending into "anarchy", then the country is already doomed.

Such an argument always implies that the arguer is morally superior to everyone else because HE/SHE doesn't do drugs and that everyone else would if the laws were lifted.

Well, I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs. The only substances I abuse are pizza and ice cream (I'd abuse ham salad sandwiches, too, if anyone made them these days.) And I still say drugs should be legal.

"But not all drugs are like that. Some of them are a *LOT* easier to control than alcohol."

And exactly which drugs would that be?

"We have laws against theft, for example, and it still happens anyway, but we don't legalize it..."

We are talking about black markets based on the victimless crime of selling a substance clearly people want and have for centuries, not actual coercion. Your argument is totally ridiculous.

"I would want to see clear reasoning about why the law is effectively unenforceable in each case."

How about the history of drug smuggling over the last seventy five years? That sufficient?

Natanael LJuly 26, 2011 9:48 AM

@val: RSH posted this: According to NPR: "Police now say 8 people died because of the explosion in Oslo and 68 people died on the island of Utøya, bringing the death toll to 76. Police corrected the previous estimate of 93, reports Reuters, "citing difficulties in gathering information at Utøya island."

@Oren: Yup, that's exactly why I'm always so worried about having systems that are wide open to pretty much anyone I haven't chosen to trust. How do I know there's not some wacky employee that wants revenge and will take it out on whoever they can? (Norway reference.)

LeeHammJuly 26, 2011 9:56 AM

A couple of comments. The victim here drove to El Paso daily as a commute, so she probably did not have luggage in her car trunk/boot.

You can obscure the VIN number in most cars, as it is usually viewed through the windshield.

Stealing the cars is so 90's. Read 'Murder City' or 'El Sicario' by Charles Bowden for more details of Ciudad Juarez and its traffic to El Paso. Two cases of marijuana sounds like small business.

Clive RobinsonJuly 26, 2011 11:22 AM

@ Richard Steven Hack,


With regards black markets and their costs we rarely see other costs included (which makes the anti-drugs case appear stronger unfortunatly).

In London it has been estimated that there are as few as 500 people with serious drug addiction that fund the habbit through house breaking and other low end crime.

However to get the equivalent of the money they need they will commit anything up to 3 robberies a day...

Now if I remember correctly (it's been a while since I looked into it) it is estimated that the drug user is lucky to realise in drug value one tenth the value of the items stolen often it's a lot less. So for a low end 60GBP a day "smack habbit" they need to steal goods with a second hand price of 600-1200GBP, or 200-400 per burglary.

When you take into account just the lost income of the housholders time and the cost of the insurance company time you are already looking at three times the value of the items taken 600-1200 or 1800-3600/day

Then there is the replacment cost at between three and five times the value of the items taken 600-2000 or 1800-6000/day.

Then as these types of criminal are not overly fussed about the damage they do the repairs and lock changes etc can be ten to twenty times the value of the goods taken 2000-8000 or 6000-24000/day.

Then in some cases there is the cleaning up and redecorating costs as some of these burglers decide whilst they are there to "decorate the place" in their bodily efluent or anything else that comes to hand, this can easily top 20 times the value of the items stolen for each room this is upwards of 2000/room which could be 3 or more rooms per burglary or 20000/day. And then ther is replacment for soiled items easily doubling it to 40000/day.

Then some burglars actually set the place on fire to cover their tracks (although this happens more with auto theft) and this can easily be hundreds of times the value of the goods stolen this easily gets over 50000 per fire depending on the damage done (even just smoke damage from a small fire that does no structural damage runs into a full redecorate and replacment of cloths and softfurnishings etc) so upto 150000/day.

Police time (just turning up and taking statments making reports and processing them and if lucky costs of getting a conviction) usually five to six times the value of the items taken so 1000-2400 or 3000-7200/day.

Then Scene of crime officers for finger printing and other forensics three to ten times the value of the goods stolen 600-4000 or 1800-12000.

So for a drug habbit of 60GBP a day which would be less than a packet of cigarettes a day if legalised ends up costing society anything from 15000GBP to upwards of 180000/day

Most of these costs get hidden by the cost of insurance premiums and taxation and spread across those who live and work in London.

So for the political cost of just a 2-3GBP of pharmalogicaly pure heroin society pays 15000 or 750000% as much...

And that is before you include the longterm cost for health care not just for the drug addicts taking heroin cut with god alone knows what but the mental health of those who have been robbed. And obviously additionaly to all of that their loss in economic productivity to society...

Which probably accounts for why one famous economist observed several decades ago there were only two ways to resolve the drugs problem legalise it and tax it like alcohol and tabbaco, and the other way was the "Chinese way".

For those that don't know China had a serious drugs problem which they decided to resolve by billing the surviving releatives the cost of the amunition for the on the spot execution of anyone who had any kind of connection with the drugs from growing through to consumption...

NZJuly 26, 2011 2:00 PM

Speaking of legalization: what if 1% of 500 people on that island had their own guns and knew how to use them?..

JonSJuly 26, 2011 6:08 PM

@ NZ at July 26, 2011 2:00 PM:
"Speaking of legalization: what if 1% of 500 people on that island had their own guns and knew how to use them?"

:rolleyes:

Firearms ownership in Norway runs at around 30%. Your question isn't a "what if", it's a "they did", and it ended up with 68 dead.

As I said; facts. They're good for you. Supposition, on the other hand, that's bad for you.

Jon

Richard Steven HackJuly 26, 2011 10:07 PM

Clive: Uh, actually no. The anti-drugs case is not supported by the additional costs of those who are STEALING to buy drugs because they can't afford to buy them. If the drugs were legal - and NOT taxed heavily for morality reasons - the price of the drugs probably would be within reason.

MOST of the stealing is done because the price of drugs is high because of the black market nature.

For instance, seventy percent of bank robberies in the US are committed to get money either to buy drugs for sale or to buy drugs for consumption. Legalizing drugs would probably eliminate over half the bank robberies in the US.

I think you mention this in your post but your first sentence contradicts that.

JonS: Excuse me, but most of the people on the island were teens, not armed citizens.

In addition, while gun ownership in Norway is high, Wikipedia points this out:

"To own a gun in Norway, one must document a use for the gun. By far, the most common grounds for civilian ownership are hunting and sports shooting, in that order. Other needs can include special guard duties or self defence, but the first is rare unless the person shows identification confirming that he or she is a trained guard or member of a law-enforcement agency and the second is practically never accepted as a reason for gun ownership."

In other words, you are NOT allowed to carry a firearm for self defense in Norway.

Facts. They're good for YOU, too.

Clive RobinsonJuly 27, 2011 2:19 AM

@ Richard Steven Hack,

"I think you mention this in your post but your first sentence contradicts that"

It was not supposed to (the curse of brevity strikes again).

What I was trying to say was that because the other costs were effectivly hidden then the Politico's could go with the smaller figures of the value of goods stolen, not the many times greater actual cost.

I suspect if people knew a little more about the real costs both at the time and later (health / mental health) they would put preasure on the politicos to stop their stupid posturing in this respect.

However I suspect that the politicos counter argument would be (in the case of the UK) to point to the costs of health care of smokers.

The true indicator of what a sham the political view point is, was when the leader of the Governments supposadly "independant" scientific advisory board was sacked by the politico because he dared to point out the scientific evidence conflicted with the political position...

What was worse was to then see the political todying of other science advisors trying to curry favour for the leaders job and a possible Knight Hood...

As pointed out by more than one journalist at the time the whole affair brought the integrity of the process into grave doubt.

Other Journalists dug out previous "errors" in previous reports where "errors" had been in favour of Government policy (many in the Nuclear power and alternative power debates). Oddly nobody appeared to be able to find (or want to find) counter argument where the errors were against Government policy...

GreenSquirrelJuly 27, 2011 3:55 AM

@RSH

"I'll take your word for that, but I suspect that would more likely involve military situations, and I suspect herded victims rather than a "melee" situation with people running around. Also perhaps a longer time period for these sorts of massacres."

Sort of - yes. The attackers, in Serbia at least, were paramilitaries and the targets were herded around but the point is they were remarkably docile.

In Sierra Leone, I attended the aftermath of five people entering a village (admittedly with AK47 and quite a bit of ammo) who had killed around 150 people. From what we could work out, most people had tried to hide, run or saddest of all, tried to protect loved ones with their own bodies. There were around 500 people in the village but they still didnt attack the intruders.

@Bill

"But most of the time where there was cover, we'd take it TYVM, have a think, maybe yell a bit e.g. "HAS ANYONE SEEN THE ENEMY?!" have a conversation (generally without a brew and squashed fly biscuits at this point), then go to work. ;)"

Spot on and well put - however I would suggest that this is reaction to effective enemy fire not a counter ambush drill. If you are in the kill zone of (say) a linear ambush then its clear where the enemy are (to your left/right) and cover should be almost non-existent.

ISTR it is the same in vehicle drills, except you have the choice of fighting with the vehicle or dismounting and flanking.

NZJuly 27, 2011 3:04 PM

@Jon
>Firearms ownership in Norway runs at around 30%. Your question isn't a "what if", it's a "they did"
Hmm, did anyone here mention anything about victims firing back? It seems to be more along the lines "that guy just stood at the shooting range and got 2 of 3".

>As I said; facts. They're good for you. Supposition, on the other hand, that's bad for you.
"30% of 500 persons were armed". Is that a fact or a suppostion?

Clive RobinsonJuly 27, 2011 3:48 PM

@ NZ, Jon and others,

"Firearms ownership in Norway runs at around 30%"

So what probably 80% oof Norwegian's have driving licences but that does not mean there where any cars on the island does it?

The camp was apparently organised by the political party their prime minister belongs to, it was for youth.

How many youth camps do you know of that have a "bring your own gun" policy?

Compared to how many youth camps where it would actually be either illegal or compleatly and utterly inapropriate and prohibited by defult?

All youth camps I've ever been to that involve some form of weapon be it a fire arm, cross bow, bow and arrow, sorwd, pike etc the weapon has been supplied by the camp organisers just for that particular training activity then taken back in under lock and key.

It has only been at very specific "shooting meets" that people bring their own firearms and then they were usually kept in secure storage when not actually down on the ranges etc.

So from my personal experiance, I would be surprised if there were firearms on the island, and even if there where that they would have been under lock and key at the time of the attack.

However under the unlikley event there were fire arms and ammunition not under lock and key, how many youths on that island do you think would have the pressence of mind to load a fire arm and actually shoot back at a person wearing a police uniform?

Remember we are talking mainly kids from politicaly motivated middle class backgrounds who are very very unlikley to be "running with gangs" etc where pointing a gun at some one to maim or kill might be considered.

Contrary to what you might read in some newspapers not all kids are mindless drug gang members fighting each other with drive by shootings on push bikes, if they were most of us would be living in war zones which we are not (atleast in North Western Europe).

NZJuly 27, 2011 6:26 PM

@Clive Robinson

>How many youth camps do you know of that have a "bring your own gun" policy?
Exactly zero. That's my point: I strongly believe that well-armed citizens are "necessary to the security of a free State"

Clive RobinsonJuly 27, 2011 9:32 PM

@ NZ,

"I strongly believe that well-armed citizens are necessary to the security of a free State"

Whilst it is a view point I can understand it is not one I agree with for practical reasons.

Most bullets on leaving a gun have sufficient energy to kill a human being, however the energy required to pull the trigger is in many cases less than a pound.

In that respect it is one heck of a force multiplier and accidents will easily happen down at the one pound preasure needed to activate a lethal amount of energy. That level of preasure is also well within "childs play" forces.

Now if I look for a more available on the street force multiplier of the same magnitude, I see the automobile. Now I don't know how many people a year die due to the very limited use of guns and the occasional hunting/range accidents, but I suspect an awful lot more by several orders of magnitude die by automobile accident.

So from my point of view I can not help but wonder if loaded guns being carried all the time by the same number of people who drive will bring the number of deaths by guns upto a comparable level as deths by automobiles.

Now I should mention at this point that in the time I carried a gun proffessionaly I personaly had one negligant discharge, and witnessed atleast three others. I have also seen a semi automatic weapon (SA80) that was loaded but had the safe on, discharge when it got dropped about five feet. Thankfully it was a training excercise so it was blank ammunition. And as for one "personal weapon" (the British SMG) being a fixed pin "blow back" weapon standing orders were that it was never to be cocked and left on the safety as way way to many ND's had happened with it in that state. So if you cocked it and did not fire it or still had rounds in the mag, you had to do a full unload and make safe, before reloding. Also like a number of other fixed pin blowback weapons it had the nasty habbit of misfiring and leaving a live round up the spout which was a real problem to sort out on the range let alone in field use.

So perhaps you can understand why I'm of the view that even in expert hands guns are dangerous when loaded let alone cocked and safetied which a lot of "snap shooters" do.

In inexpert hands which the majority of the population will be, guns will not be properly maintained (ie mags will be left full of ammunition thus weakening the feed spring) which will inevitably lead to misfeeds and misfires and live rounds left in the chamber. Safety leavers will not get checked and will become off due to taking in and out of glove compartments and clothes.

And inevitably they will get left around and children will play with them.

Then there is the question of "rednecks", "drunks" and "idiots". I guess it is no secret that in many US states road signs get shot up. Well do those people actually take the time to think "where do the bullet and sign bits go next" well in an open country area most times it won't matter but what about on say the streets of New York?

Richard Steven HackJuly 27, 2011 10:25 PM

Clive: Well, there are countries where a LOT of the population carries guns. And indeed, you've seen the shots of Iraqis firing randomly into the air, heedless of where the bullets come down at terminal velocity.

Nonetheless - when they aren't engaged in civil wars - they seem to survive on a day to day basis.

A better example might be Israel. I read a story once about several PLO terrorists who opened up in a restaurant. A bunch of customers pulled out 9mm handguns and ventilated the terrorists. The surviving terrorist complained in the hospital that he had been incorrectly told that Israel had "gun control". They do. A citizen can buy a gun, and go down to the local police department range and train with it.

Gun ownership in the US is quite high, and yes, we do have a lot of shot out signs (in rural areas, mostly - if you shoot a gun in the city, the cops are there in minutes), and of course a fair number of murders and suicides by gun and other deviance. In general, however, the society survives, despite the frothing at the mouth by the anti-gun freaks.

It's even been calculated that the presence of firearms in US society has deterred crime in sufficient cases to be equivalent to one million more police officers on the street.

One example was the alleged drop in rape cases in Florida when it was highly publicized that women could now easily get a concealed carry license.

A classic case of civilian gun ownership I read once was a woman who was seized in a store parking lot, tossed in to the trunk of a car, and driven out into the country. We don't know whether her assailant intended to rape or murder her because when he opened the trunk she pumped six .38 caliber rounds into him from the handgun in her purse.

Firearms, and especially handguns, certainly are dangerous in untrained or ill-trained hands (with includes cops in many well-documented cases).

Not to mention that cops tend not to care where their bullets go, too. There was a shoot out in New York where the cops were ventilating a building and when informed that bullets were exiting the structure declared they didn't care - until they were informed that it was their bullets, not the suspects.

But the real problem is the impossibility of banning firearms, especially in a country like the US where the figure is somewhere between 70 million and 170 million (and that figure was from maybe a decade or more ago). It's physically impossible.

It's also impossible to stop criminals from possessing them, and preventing civilians from possessing them has zero effect on criminals acquiring them.

So the bottom line is: gun control is like security. It's impossible.

GreenSquirrelJuly 28, 2011 3:59 AM

@NZ (and to a lesser extent RSH)

"Exactly zero. That's my point: I strongly believe that well-armed citizens are "necessary to the security of a free State""

Interesting. My suspicion (and thats all it is) is that if everyone is allowed to carry weapons, anarchy will follow in fairly short order.

All it takes is a very small minority who refuse to abide by social norms to upset the idyllic status.

Providing security requires attention and training, something which very, very few people bother to do. Investigating and punishing wrongdoers needs to be carried out by impartial and uninvolved parties otherwise monstrous miscarriages of justice follow.

Do we really want angry, hurt and sad people to carry guns? Do we want people to be drunk with a gun in their belt? How about people with a huge amount of narcotics in their system? How about the insane or previously convicted felons (whatever the felony?)

Or is the idea of a well armed populace one which really means - people I like and trust and who share my values should be well armed to protect us from everyone else?

No matter what people try, gun control will exist (even in a broken form).

I appreciate guns are a hot topic for Americans, but it is an odd one and I suspect it only "works" (for a given value of work) because your society is fundamentally fragmented and its only an oddity of history that you are considered one country.

@RSH
"It's even been calculated that the presence of firearms in US society has deterred crime in sufficient cases to be equivalent to one million more police officers on the street."

I would love to see how this is worked out because I really doubt it is true - or even something that can be known.

For me, the idea of loads of 19 - 23 year olds carrying guns and being indoctrinated at a youth camp to shoot at someone in a police uniform is much, much more frightening than the idea that a crackpot can get a gun and kill 70 people.

America is a nation apparently fuelled by fear. Its populace are terrified of each other to the point at which they feel they have to carry guns hidden in purses (not realising how impractical this is in 99% of cases). Every act of a madman anywhere in the world is magnified to create the illusion that it could be about to happen "right here, right now" while the huge amount of crimes that really are happening get ignored.

Using the woman in the boot of the car - if the assailant had just thrown her in the back and raped her, or stolen her purse first, what good would her gun have been? Even better, if he had snatched her purse as he put her in the boot, she had given him the weapon to use on her.

Wonderful country. Glad I only visit.

Clive RobinsonJuly 28, 2011 5:18 AM

@ RSH,

Hmm I don't like either Israel or Switzerland as examples because a very very large percentage of the gun owners are well trained soldiers and thus fall mainly into the proffessional or expert user catagory, and know almost instictivly about good firearm maintanence handling and usage.

It is also interesting to note the difference in accidents with guns/firearms in countries where they are mainly owned for hunting and vermin control and used very regularly.

But many of these countries have a radicaly different attitude to alcohol consumption, the way and what they eat and other seriously different lifestyles compared to that you will find in the UK and much of the US. We know stress in all forms eventualy kills just as continuously high reving a car engine considerably shortens it's life. We also know from numerous experiments stress limits our critical reasoning ability and we make to many instinctive as opposed to reasoned judgments and they are more often wrong than right and often based on false premises.

And again I ask about the numbers of "saved by gun" -v- "numbers hurt by gun accident" nearly always evidence offered is "anecdotal" and third or fourth hand at best. Not hard figures that have been gathered and collated with any kind of rigour. Often the perception people have is from "sensational journalism" with an axe to grind either pro or anti (please note I'm not anti gun it's a tool like any other). Which I don't find a health thought where the population get their firearms down the local quicky mart after filling in a form at the local police/sherifs office a little while beforehand and increases in gun sales figures appear related to published violent crime.

As I've said I learnt to use both shot guns and rifles during my formative years for vermin control, the people who taught me had likewise been taught from an early age and had been soldiers at some point. I later learned to use all manner of other weapons.

Would I consider my self an expert user these days, not a chance, because I don't use a firearm proffessionaly or get in the range/field time any more so, safe possibly, cautious definitely.

I do however have first hand reasons for part of my viewpoint. For instance I was traveling in London when the 7/7 bombings happend the following few days realy realy scared me. Not because of terrorists but because of the police and their overly obvious lack of gun handling skills.

Basicaly every officer who had ever touched a firearm was given a semiautomatic weapon and pushed out on the streets with it for endless hours of foot patrols.

On one occasion I was with my son and had just come out of a tube station entrance and I suddenly draged him rapidly across the road and up a side road (he was small enough back then ;). And he was unsurprisingly a bit miffed about my rough handling of him. So I pointed out why.

There was a police woman half dead on her feet with fatigue with a semiautomatic firearm slung round her neck, which she had adjusted the straps so she could rest her arm along the top. The gun was thus pointing out not at the ground or up towards the sky but almost dead level and towards the busy tube train entrance we had just come out off. Her other hand was on the pistol grip with her finger inside the trigger guard. I don't know if the weapon was loaded but the mag was in, nor do I know what state the safety selector was in because I was not going to get close enough to find out.

Over the next few days I saw similar tired poorly trained police officers carrying guns with a similar disregard for firearm safety.

On another occasion I walked past New Scotland Yard the London Police HQ with my son. They had armed officers out on picket, and it was very clear from their positions lack of "buddy/back cover" that the person who had put them out had not done so with any thought about what would happen if a person armed only with a stick or brick did attack.

In the UK we have lost two to four generations of proffesional gun owners who had taught the next generation to be responsible/proffessional gun owners/users. And due to training cuts even the armed forces had cut back on range and basic gun drill time (something that has obviously had to be reversed).

Most people in the UK who have leagaly owned firearms it's either range weapons or shot guns. Field shooting is now hardly taught and the lack of people going through basic military training obvious for all to see. Worse we have a sub culture that glorifies the ownership of (illegal in the UK) semiautomatic hand guns as status / fashion items, by those who think because they can get the high score on their Home Game Console first person shooter game they must be the best there can be...

As I said I'm not anti gun and I will as a matter of course show my son how to use them safely and ensure he understands about what happens when a bullet goes through a target.

What I am anti is iresponsable ownership and lack of training for even basic maintanence such as unloading the magazine and resting it and basic cleaning. I'm also very anti owning a gun because you are scared of shadows because of what the press have reported or because you can get the high score on a games consol.

Compare the process of owning / operating a car with owning / operating a basic fire arm and the ways you can loose your licence for both.

Any way I hope I've made my view point clear without being partisan and my reasoning behind it and I'm going to stop at this point because neither Bruce or the Moderator like pro-v-anti gun debates because they have a habit of degenerating into partisan behaviour, name calling and trolling.

NZJuly 28, 2011 3:41 PM

@Clive Robinson
I agree that guns are dangerous (they are made to hurt people). Certainly trainings and accountability are of paramount importance. As for ND, I believe civilian guns can be made safer than military ones -- but I am not a mechanic.
Anyway, I feel that benefits outweigh drawback in this case -- cars cause a lot of deaths too.

@RHS
>It's also impossible to stop criminals from possessing them, and preventing civilians from >possessing them has zero effect on criminals acquiring them.
Totally agree -- anti-gun laws have more negative effects on victims than on criminals.

@GreenSquirrel
>My suspicion (and thats all it is) is that >if everyone is allowed to carry weapons, anarchy will follow in fairly short order.
While I can't prove your wrong, AFAIK Vermont is pretty OK. Also, I know can name at least two examples when it was very easy to acquire handguns (illegally, but no one cared) and still the society survived.

>I appreciate guns are a hot topic for Americans
I must confess I am not an American :)

>Wonderful country. Glad I only visit.
I like my visit too :) And since we are totally offtopic here: where are you from?

@Clive Robinson

>In the UK we have lost two to four generations of proffesional gun owners who had taught the >next generation to be responsible/proffessional gun owners/users.

>Worse we have a sub culture that glorifies the ownership of (illegal in the UK) semiautomatic hand >guns as status / fashion items

That's a pity. It seems that anti-gun laws are even more dangerous than I used to think.

GreenSquirrelJuly 29, 2011 4:57 AM

@NZ

"While I can't prove your wrong, AFAIK Vermont is pretty OK. Also, I know can name at least two examples when it was very easy to acquire handguns (illegally, but no one cared) and still the society survived."

Excellent point and I think I made my point very badly there.

There is a difference between allowed and "feels they have to" and I havent been clear in explaining the issue I am trying to get to here so I will sidestep it.

The larger point is that if the population feel the need to carry guns, then they do not feel safe. Having a gun does not (on the whole) improve that feeling, it just gives people the idea that they can "fight back" when it all goes horribly wrong.

One of the characteristics of a breakdown of law and order in a culture is the rush of its citizens to arm themselves for protection.

In 22 years in the Army, I would be amazed if I spent more than 1/3rd of my on-duty time armed including tours in Northern Ireland and the middle east.
One of the reasons for this is that we encourage soldiers to not carry their weapons unnecessarily because accidents happen - even for trained and skilled professionals (the training video is appropriately called "The Unthinking Moment").

The idea that I could be surrounded by people carrying guns (mostly in stupid places) is a pretty scary idea. Unless of course the discussion is not that "everyone" should have a gun, but more "everyone we approve of" should have a gun - in which case it is still gun control....

As a last point - being armed, in most circumstances - gives nothing more than an illusion of protection which is reinforced by citing isolated cases where the person was able to get to it despite it being in the wrong place.

A gun in a purse (for example) is of no use in 99% of threat based scenarios. It makes no sense (to me) to carry one on the off-chance your attacker will bundle you into a car (without taking it from you) so you can get to it before they stop you. For a weapon to be effective it has to be ready and normally pointing at the threat source - anything else just increases the chances you will get killed.

Likewise, being armed carries an obligation for you to be fully rested, sober, alert and aware of what is going on around you at all times. How many people spend more than a couple of hours a day in that state? Do they leave their weapons locked away the rest of the time (which, again, leads to the question how is it a protection measure?) or do we just risk the fact scared, bored, distracted, tired, confused, stressed, drunk people are going to be carrying loaded weapons and may suddenly start shooting without realising what is going on?

Now, I fully appreciate these are extreme case scenarios and that despite all the possible zombie apocalypse scenarios none of this has happened but that isnt the point. Even in the US there is a not a fully armed populace. Not everyone carries a gun everywhere they go, but there are still an unacceptable number of "accidents" with firearms. For every woman in trunk shoots rapist story there is a person accidentally shoots loved-one dead story.

Now dont mistake my viewpoint here. I have no issue with guns whatsoever. I enjoy shooting and encourage my family to practice it.

I just think the idea that people should be encouraged to carry weapons in public places "for safety" is madness. I also enjoy archery and have dallied with kendo but I wouldnt want to walk round the streets with a sword or bow.

NZJuly 29, 2011 1:27 PM

@GreenSquirrel

>There is a difference between allowed and "feels they have to"

>Likewise, being armed carries an obligation for you to be fully rested, sober, alert and aware of what is going on around you at all times.

I agree on both points.

>I just think the idea that people should be encouraged to carry weapons in public places "for safety" is madness.

While I can't agree here, I understand your opinion.

Now I suggest that we both follow Clive's example and stop here -- before moderator's intervention :)

orcaporcaAugust 8, 2011 3:25 AM

It is interesting to read an American view of the happenings here in Norway. I see that the cultural differences are huge when it comes to weapons. For me, and almost all other Norwegians bringing a weapon anywhere (unless to go hunting or going to a shooting range) is unthinkable, and thank God for that. Arming everyone does not give an decrease in crime rates, but it does give an increase in deaths related to crime.

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