Local cops are employing laws inspired by global events in a war much closer to home.
"Terrorists don't have to be affiliated with Al Qaeda," he says. "Drug dealers 'terrorize' neighborhoods. What we're saying is that if you are stockpiling or building weapons that threaten the community on a large scale, we will use what we have at our disposal to bring you to justice."
Sigman also says the connection between drugs and violence helps his case. "If you consider that both times this law has been used, it's been in Philadelphia narcotics cases," he says, "we'd argue that supports our use of it. Drug dealers are domestic terrorists."
The new WMD charge could be used fairly frequently here, particularly in meth cases. Last year PW reported that police narcotics inspector Joe Sullivan believes the drug is creeping into the Philadelphia area.
Meth dealers, manufacturers and users are notorious for booby-trapping their stashes. "One of the drug's effects is that it makes people paranoid," says Sullivan. "These people are looking over their shoulder, thinking someone is out to get them. It takes a toll on their psyches."
Parrotti and McCusker, of Narcotics Field Unit North, weren't familiar with the WMD law until the Hogeland bust. With guns stashed everywhere, they say, Hogeland's place looked like a "survivalist's." His eyes showed signs of a meth dealer who'd started using his own product. "He looked like he hadn't blinked in about four years," says Parrotti.
Their hope is the law might deter some dealers and manufacturers from using booby-traps. "We've seen [a deterrent effect] a little bit with guns," says McCusker. "Once it became known that the combination of drugs and guns means a mandatory prison sentence, dealers made an effort not to get caught with both at the same time."
Parrotti seconds him. "They are businessmen," he says. "When they know they can get hit with an extra 20 years for having a bomb, they might figure it isn't worth it."
Steve Volk (email@example.com) writes about media treatment of Teresa Heinz Kerry's slip of the lip on p. 13.
First Person Arts Podcast: Proud Mom