A news story out of South Africa (Drugs, cash stolen from airport cop shop) will sound familiar to law enforcement officers around the world.  Drugs and drug money confiscated by authorities at the Tambo Airport in Johannesburg has come up missing.  Twenty million Rand (about $2.4 million) has turned up missing from the police facility at the airport.  Police officials are described as “baffled” by the burglary which other observers have labeled an “inside job.”

Drugs and money missing from police property rooms is a somewhat commonplace phenomena in the United States with the most notable example being the drugs confiscated during the French Connection bust, an operation popularized by the movie of the same title starring Gene Hackman.  In that case, an estimated $70 million in drugs that were confiscated by the NYDP were taken from the property room by a brazen thief posing as a New York City cop.

Police corruption is nothing new but the drug war and the mind-boggling money that drug sales generate have taken police corruption to new levels.  Would ending the drug war be the end of police corruption?  Undoubtedly no, as corrupt cops have been around since the advent of policing.  What it would do is dramatically reduce the temptation and opportunities for corruption and that would be a nice step forward.