"Loopers" and "smurfs" become a target of US law enforcement officials

Published Jan 30, 2021 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Animaflora

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the United States Attorney are now targeting loopers and smurfs in hopes of putting a damper on the black market. They will continue to be on the lookout for these pot peddling individuals, and those who are caught conducting this type of illicit business will face penalties such as fines or jail time.

What are loopers and smurfs?

Loopers and smurfs are terms that have been coined by law enforcement individuals. These people will visit multiple dispensaries to buy up the maximum amount allowed by law, often ending up with 10 or more times the legal limit. Sometimes, they will also rotate orders within the same location to make each purchase look like it’s from a new client to skirt the laws.

If the collected weed wasn’t for criminal means, then the loopers and smurfs likely wouldn’t be such a high priority target for law enforcement agencies, but they aren’t buying all of this product to smoke or use themselves. Instead, they gather as much as they physically can before heading over to illegal states, where they begin unloading the product onto illegal dispensary owners and street dealers.

Punishments

The exact charge for illegally peddling drugs will depend on the state, but some areas are still quite strict. In Texas, for example, selling a mere 7 grams of cannabis is enough to slap the vendor with a misdemeanor charge, up to 1 year in prison, and a $2,000 fine. Of course, these cannabis runners are carrying much larger amounts over state lines, something that can quickly turn into a felony charge and a prison sentence of between 5 and 99 years.

A large profit to be made

There is a significant amount of profit to be made for smurfs and loopers, who might earn up to twice the true value of any given product, and that’s why the business has enticed organized gangs and criminal groups to get in on the action. Though most gangs still make much of their money from other illicit drugs, cannabis is viewed as a less risky option, with a more moderate value, a tradeoff that is more than worth it when no one seems to be enforcing drug laws.

Store owners should stay vigilant

Cannabis retail store owners have been warned that they should stay on the lookout for any suspicious-looking customers who are returning in an unreasonably short period of time. This is to help them to weed out the smurfs and loopers, but it’s also to protect the dispensaries. Any licensed cannabis retail store that knowingly encourages or partakes in this criminal activity risks charges and a loss of license.

This is nothing new

This underground market has been a flourishing business since the very first state legalized cannabis, enticing both vacationers and nearby residents to break the rules. It’s also not the first time that law enforcement officials have promised to crack down on smurfs and loopers. In 2020 The United States attorney for MA and the DEA vowed to police interstate cannabis dealings, but since then, we haven't heard very much about this initiative, until now.

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