People who have never been eaten alive by the criminal justice system or been close to someone who has imagine that the process is honest, straightforward and speedy.
The dead, old, white men who imagined this country imagined justice that way, too.
But in general, that is not how “justice” works in America and, specifically, that is not how justice has worked for the Highwaymen Motorcycle Club of Detroit. Or, as the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) insists on calling them, “the Highwaymen Outlaw Motorcycle Organization.”
Let’s Get The Highwaymen
The Highwaymen are a fairly inviting target. The club was founded in 1954 and some patch holders were accused of a series of bombings in the 1970s. The Highwaymen are widely reported to be the largest club in Detroit and have also been accused of not playing well with others. Allegedly, they have been banned from the Michigan Confederation of Clubs.
But the case against them is so flagrantly contrived and the deck has been so stacked against the defendants that it is surprising that the United Nations has not yet become involved. It is also fairly illustrative of what “law enforcement” has become in the last few years.
The DOJ obtained indictments against 22 members and “associates” of the Highwaymen on September 5, 2006. Most of the indicted were from Detroit although one defendant lived in Fort Lauderdale, another in Memphis and a third in Buffalo, New York. The fact that three defendants were from outside Michigan is, presumably, what made it a federal case.
DRANO And DRATT
The defendants were taken into custody dramatically, as is the case in modern America, by police dressed like video-game commandos. Multiple police forces carried out these arrests and several of them had the cute, contrived names that have infested law enforcement like fleas in a pack of stray dogs: DRANO, the Down River Anti-Narcotics Organization, for example; and DRATT, the Down River Auto Theft Team; as well as the unashamedly self-important “Joint FBI/Detroit Police Department Violent Crimes/Gang Task Force.”
All of the accused faced up to 40 years in prison and a million dollar fine. The lead defendant, who is reportedly a national vice-president of the Highwaymen, a man named Aref “Scarface” Nagi, was charged with “operating a continuing criminal enterprise” and he faces a mandatory jail sentence of 30 or more years.
Nagi had two strikes against him before he was ever picked up. First, of course, he rode with a motorcycle club. And, secondly, even though, technically, he is an American citizen his ancestors came from the unpopular country of Yemen.
The “criminal enterprise” with which the 22 were charged was an alleged “conspiracy” to distribute marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy, which many people believe are among the “big six” recreational drugs of choice, along with methamphetamine, alcohol and caffeine. The 43rd president of the United States has been widely rumored to have immoderately consumed at least four of them.
The evidence used to obtain the indictments in 2006 included an astounding 30,000 wiretapped and recorded phone calls and the testimony of two long term informants-which might lead George Washington or Abraham Lincoln or Perry Mason to think that Nagi could be expected to either go on trial in a few months or else be released on bail until he was actually tried.
Nagi did have a bail hearing a week after he was arrested, but a judge named Donald A. Scheer ruled that he was both a flight risk, because his ancestors came from Yemen, and a dangerous man, because he rode with a motorcycle club, and so ordered that Nagi should be “committed to the custody of the Attorney General.”
Nagi has been in the custody of the Attorney General for 838 days now and last Thursday a federal judge named Nancy G. Edmunds said that “the length of time,” Nagi has been held without trial, “is starting to bother me.” But, it does not bother Judge Edmunds enough to release him. You know, what with him having Yemeni ancestors and riding a motorcycle and all.
Who Is Most Dangerous
Nagi’s attorney, James C. Thomas, argued that in the United States of America an accused man is presumed to be innocent until he is proven guilty and that his client should be given an electronic monitoring device to wear and turned loose. “It’s been too long,” Thomas pleaded. “You should allow him to at least go home to his family.”
But, apparently house arrest is only for guys like New York’s Bernie Madoff who stands accused of the relatively victimless crime of stealing $50 billion from old ladies. Prevailing legal theory seems to be that the desperados who sell recreational drugs are much more dangerous.
U.S. Attorney Diane Marion, who has prosecuted this case the whole time, argued that she actually intends to throw out the indictment under which Nagi is now charged and supersede it with a newer, bigger, better indictment that will accuse Nagi of even newer, bigger and better crimes.
Marion told Judge Edmunds that she should have that new indictment typed up by sometime in February. And, the judge thought that sounded reasonable. She ordered that Nagi should continue to be held without bail for at least another six weeks.