Thursday, August 04, 2005

You Have The Wrong Patel

Cultural differences were never more obvious than in this story, published in the NY Times today. Georgia prosecutors originally charged “49 convenience store clerks and owners in rural northwest Georgia with selling materials used to make methamphetamine.”

To gather evidence they used hidden microphones and cameras showing how these clerks and owners sold the “illicit” substances to the wrong individuals. By the way, this was a sting operation so the wrong individuals were either undercover FBI agents or former meth addicts.

Anyway, so they charge these guys and then they realized that “forty-four of the defendants are Indian immigrants - 32, mostly unrelated, are named Patel - and many spoke little more than the kind of transactional English mocked in sitcoms.” Essentially, they found all the Apu’s, that’s a Simpsons reference, in Georgia and charged them with selling precuts that could be used to make meth.

Obviously this is not funny to the people who were charged, in one case they accidentally charged the wrong Patel, and it will be interesting to follow this case and see how many of those charged are actually prosecuted and found guilty.

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