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Selling cocaine for EBT cards: new arrests, new problems

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After a 10-month long investigation, officers from the Duluth Police Department and the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force executed what they called "Operation Crackdown" which ended in 30 arrests. Though many of the people arrested were residents of Duluth, some were from the Twin Cities area which has led some to wonder why they were travelling so far to allegedly buy drugs.

The answer may lie in how police believe the people were paying for the drugs. Investigators believe that the alleged dealers were accepting Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, cards as payment. During supposed deals, people would trade their EBT cards, generally containing $200 in benefits, for cocaine.

Although this is a growing concern among law enforcement officers, it's an issue very few Minnesotans have heard about. With 30 people having been arrested this month alone and police saying they are continuing their search for ten more, by not telling the public, are police really helping the situation or simply furthering the problem?

As some would argue, when people feel the need to trade EBT cards for drugs, you know you have a serious problem on your hands. But instead of treating the problem, which could be as simple as offering drug counseling to those who have been arrested for drug crimes, law enforcement insists on incarceration. It's a struggle readers of our blog have seen us talk about time and time again. And although the specific charges have not been set for those arrested in this case, chances are, authorities may not be as willing to treat the problem as much as the public thinks they should.

Source: Minnesota Public Radio, "30 arrested in crack cocaine for EBT scheme," Dan Kraker, Feb. 8, 2013

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