A federal prosecutor said Thursday that the Department of Justice’s efforts under Jeff Sessions to aggressively prosecute drug crimes will target people wearing “heavy gold and chains.”
The attorney general gave a speech in Memphis where he touted his recent charging memo that rolls back former Attorney General Eric Holder’s policy to not charge many drug offenders with mandatory minimums.
“We know that drugs and crime go hand-in-hand. Drug trafficking is an inherently violent business. If you want to collect a drug debt, you can’t file a lawsuit in court. You collect it by the barrel of a gun,” Sessions said. “Unfortunately, even as violent crime has surged and overdose deaths have spiked, federal gun and drug prosecutions have fallen recent years. We will reverse that trend. This new charging and sentencing policy is a return to the enforcement of the laws as passed by Congress — plain and simple.”
The National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys — an association representing federal prosecutors — held a conference call with reporters expressing their support for Sessions’ objective of going after drug crime offenders.
Larry Leiser, the president of the group and a current prosecutor, said that this will help “young people who see people in the community wearing heavy gold and chains and hot cars as a result of their participating in the distribution of these drugs, as opposed to going out and earning an honest living.”
A reporter interjected and said that these remarks could be construed as racist and Leiser denied that is the case. “It’s intended to be just the reality that unfortunately there are many people in the minority communities that are caught up in this terrible blight of drugs,” he replied.
He said that mandatory minimums help “alleviate the pain and suffering that these drug traffickers perpetrate on their own.”
Leiser added that the drug “plague” affects all communities and pointed to the opioid and heroin epidemic hitting white communities.