Pubdate: Sat, 16 Jan 2010
Source: Times Leader  (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
Copyright: 2010 The Times Leader
Author: Pete Blanchard


On Jan. 7, police in Kingston Township, Dallas and Dallas Township as 
well as members of the Luzerne County Drug Task Force arrested 
18-year-old Ali Abualburak at his home on felony drug charges.

Police spent money on a seven-week investigation. Local law 
enforcement watched his house, observed him when he went 
skateboarding with friends and falsely concluded that he was running 
a serious operation.

What is most alarming is the fact that, as reported by this 
newspaper, law enforcement issued a nighttime search warrant, which 
is supposed to be used only in cases in which there is reasonable 
danger that evidence or witnesses might be lost. The fact that no one 
at the house was armed or had any history of violent crime shows the 
lack of judgment by law enforcement in this arrest.

Ali Abualburak is not a real criminal. This is a small case that 
points to a larger issue of misguided federal drug policy. It is not 
Abualburak who should be ashamed, but those who decided to launch a 
wasteful investigation that supposedly cost taxpayers $100,000.

I have known Ali and most of his family throughout my high school 
career. He and his family came from Jordan to make a good life in the 
United States. He was very involved in Diversity Club and was not 
known for bad behavior. He is a student at Penn State Wilkes-Barre 
with a 3.7 GPA. He graduated from Dallas High School in 2010 on the honor roll.

Within 24 hours of the news, a Facebook group was created by friends 
and family to help raise money for his attorney fees.

Local police are using him as a scapegoat to shed positive light on 
law enforcement efforts to halt local drug smuggling, but this arrest 
will in no way alter the flow of drugs and drug money through 
Kingston Township and neighboring communities.

Pete Blanchard

- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom