Despite St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson drawing some parallels, it is hard to believe the third floor of the Motel 6 in Caseyville was going to be anything akin to the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas.
Still, homemade assault rifles without registration numbers, handguns, bulletproof vests, thousands of rounds of loose rifle ammo and 38 filled 30-round magazines were not being sold to local deer hunters. Chances are the target customers of Shawn C. Holland, 33, and Cara L. Anderson, 32, of Belleville, were those in the drug trade who would value untraceable weapons.
After all, it was Watson’s drug tactical unit that busted the pair. It is hard to be empathetic about the potential for homemade guns to blow up in the hands of the users when those users are drug dealers.
Motive and uses aside, the tactical officers just did the community a service and deserve thanks. The mayhem is frightening that this pair was working to unleash on the streets. We’ve already seen 32 homicides this year in East St. Louis, with many attributed to the drug trade as dealers protect product, hold turf and settle beefs.
East St. Louis police only have 36 cops ready for duty, which is half of the federal recommendation. Some of those thousands of rounds were likely to be used against them or officers from other local communities who regularly complain that criminals possess superior firepower.
Just as the penalties for spreading drugs within our communities are harsher than for using drugs, this brand of death merchant also deserve serious prison time to ponder the misery they were willing to create for cash.