The Des Moines Register, Wednesday, April 29, 1998, Page 6M

Drug buster gets brush-off from officials


    Waterloo's Leon Mosley brought his war on drugs to Burlington, but not everybody put out the welcome mat.
    "He's made the statement that he's willing to die for the cause," said Burlington Mayor Tim Scott.  "It's commendable, but also dangerous, to promote this sort of thing."
    Mosley, a member of the Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors, has earned a reputation in his hometown for motivating residents to aggressively confront known drug dealers at the source, by organizing neighborhood marches through high-crime areas.  He is no stranger to confrontation and has stared down an angry drug dealer more than once.

Boycotted Rally
   Mosley was in Burlington last week for another anti-drug rally, but city officials, including Scott, boycotted the event.
    "I'd be willing to put my life on the line for the job, but I'm not going up to somebody and dare them to shoot me," Scott said.
    Mosley is, according to Scott, more troublemaker than troubleshooter, more a madman than a man who is mad at drug dealers.
    "He has gone too far across the line," said the mayor.
    The words don't bother the 52-year-old organizer of the Mosley Neighborhood Action Group - "a retired couple, two ladies who are in-laws, and a guy who goes with me everywhere" - that has gone to several Iowa communities at the invitation of neighborhood groups.
    "What I think about the mayor is really immaterial," Mosley said Tuesday.  "If he thinks I'm a madman, what does he think about the drug dealers?  He thinks they are saints?
    "The way things are going now with drugs in Burlington, even Ray Charles can see that it ain't working."

Fight Began Years Ago
   Mosley, an industrial engineer at Deere & Co., unleashed his fight years ago while watching drug activity overwhelm his apartment complex.
    With a mix of religious fervor and street anger, Mosley packed a loaded gun and stood across the street from crack houses, taking down license-plate numbers and sending the owners angry letters.
    These days, the gun is gone and so are the angry letters.   Anti-stalking laws prohibited tracking the licenses, he said.
    "I've found that I don't have to carry a gun - my lips are more powerful than anything else," he said.  "We are the eyes and ears for the police department and the sheriff's office.  You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that when there is an exchange of money for a package it's not the Avon lady calling."
    The tactics have worked, especially in Waterloo, he claims.
    "We want to get them out of the area so people can sleep," he said.  "You got gunshots all night, loud music and horns blowing.  You don't care if they move into the White House just as long as you get them away."

Displacing the Problem
   But Burlington police Chief Stan Rowe contends that Mosley is only moving the problem from one place to another.
    "We've got a drug problem just as many other cities have drug problems," he said.  "The best method to deal with it is to identify the dealers, build a case and make an arrest and prosecute."
    And although Mosley's enthusiasm impresses Scott, the mayor maintains his doubts about Mosley's methods.
    "He called me once and said, 'You're the mayor.  You're in control.  You are the law.' " Scott remembered.  "I said, 'We don't have dictatorships in this country.' "

Reporter Frank Santiago can be
reached at (515) 284-8528 or

The Des Moines Register
Wednesday, April 29, 1998, Page 6M