Document:California Press Release 22 September 2000 Latest Victim of War on Drugs

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14547 Titus Street, Suite 214
Panorama City, CA 91402
For immediate release: September 22, 2000
For additional information:
Juan Ros, Executive Director
Phone: (818) 782-8400

Latest victim of War on Drugs: 11-year-old murdered in raid

PANORAMA CITY -- California Libertarians expressed outrage and grief over the killing of an 11-year-old boy in Modesto last week -- a killing that underscores the destructive and deadly tendency of the nation's drug policies, the party announced today.

On September 13, SWAT team officer David Hawn shot Alberto Sepulveda once in the back as Alberto lay face down on his bedroom floor during a pre-dawn raid of the Sepulveda family home. Alberto's father Moises was arrested on a federal warrant charging him with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Moises was released on $20,000 bail two days later.

"The War on Drugs has found its latest victim: 11-year-old Alberto Sepulveda," declared Libertarian state executive director Juan Ros. "The federal government and its failed drug laws are responsible for Alberto's death, no question. This is an absolute travesty."

Modesto police were cooperating with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency in an investigation into a local methamphetamine ring. Federal agents reportedly told local police that no children lived in the Sepulveda home. In fact, three children lived in the home: 11-year-old Alberto and his two siblings ages 14 and eight.

"The real tragedy here is the fact that deaths like Alberto's will occur again," Ros noted. "The Drug War has turned local police into dangerous paramilitary forces with autonomous, centralized bureaucracies and military-style armaments."

According to the Washington-based Cato Institute, local police collaborate frequently with the military under a 1981 federal law that diluted the Posse Comitatus Act -- an Act intended to keep the military out of civilian affairs. Under the Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Officials Act, police have access to military equipment and facilities for anti-drug efforts.

"Citizens don't want soldiers protecting them in their neighborhoods, they want police," Ros added. "More unnecessary deaths will take place as long as these laws are on the books."

In 1997, for example, the SWAT team in Dinuba, California (population 15,000) killed an innocent man, Ramon Gallardo, in a pre-dawn raid eerily similar to the one that killed Alberto Sepulveda last week.

"All Libertarians extend their deepest sympathies to the Sepulveda family," Ros concluded. "Alberto's death will be remembered as we continue to fight for an end to this insane Drug War."