Friends tease me about being a karaoke cop. Well, now the joke’s on them: My community needs someone to patrol the karaoke circuit.
For years, my fellow saloon singers have threatened to write a comedic sketch titled “Ben Bromley, Karaoke Cop.” The title character would enforce his tightly held code of karaoke conduct, cracking down on anyone who chooses tired songs or murders beloved standards. He’d basically be a one-man “Gong Show” panel.
Go ahead and laugh at my expense, but I can’t be the only one who’s tired of hearing “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” and “Summer Nights.” Tell me more, tell me more, ’cause that song is a drag. And wouldn’t we all be better off if someone brought out a hook when a tone-deaf, would-be diva whiffs on the first few notes of “I Will Always Love You?” Whitney Houston, we have a problem. Station a karaoke cop next to the microphone stand with a Taser, and you’ll save everyone in the bar three minutes of torture. And I-iiii-iiiii will always thank youuuuuuuuuuu.
In Baraboo, a karaoke cop’s duties would extend beyond patrolling taverns. Here, they’re using karaoke machines to smuggle drugs. And they’re getting busted, thanks to karaoke cops who have dealers singing “Smuggler’s Blues.”
Earlier this month, the U.S. Postal Inspector Service told police a drug dog had keyed in on a package. Suddenly authorities from multiple agencies had suspicious minds.
The shipment, headed to a Baraboo home, contained more than 2 pounds of methamphetamine and about 85 grams of cocaine. Cue Eric Clapton.
The police set up a sting operation, which unfortunately didn’t involve a rendition of “Every Breath You Take.” Instead, it involved officers from an anti-drug task force observing the delivery, then raiding the home. In keeping with the 1980s pop-rock theme, the police brought a warrant. Heaven isn’t too far away.
Inside the package, investigators allegedly discovered karaoke machines, including one whose damaged speaker box contained drugs. These suspects have friends in low places.
Apparently they aren’t alone. Authorities busted a similar smuggling operation in New York last year. Dealers shipped large amounts of cocaine in karaoke machines, up to 6 pounds at a time. If only they’d said, “Return to Sender.”
This would-be karaoke cop is dismayed to see one of his favorite pastimes used as a cover for drug deals. I don’t care if you want to puff the magic dragon or otherwise enjoy life in the fast lane. But destroying perfectly good karaoke machines to smuggle drugs is one toke over the line.
Prosecutors have charged 24-year-old Froylan Raya Castro with possession of meth, coke, drug paraphernalia and marijuana. This could be his last dance with Mary Jane. A convicted felon, Castro also faces charges for possessing a firearm, obstructing an officer and bail jumping. It could be years before he’s a free bird.
His alleged partner in karaoke crime, 23-year-old Kenia L. Martinez, faces charges of meth and coke possession. She was released on a signature bond but is due back in court next month. She should plan no escape, even if she likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain.
Consider yourselves warned, drug smugglers: If you try to put rocks in the casbah and give karaoke a bad name, you’ll be singing the “Folsom Prison Blues.” And if you show up at karaoke night and try to sing “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” you’ll face the wrath – and possibly the Taser—of Ben Bromley, Karaoke Cop.