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Tag: war on drugs

DEA Agents Who Took Down Pablo Escobar Share Experience at Ohio State University

Javier Pena/dea photo

Javier Pena/dea photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The two DEA agents who took down one of the most violent and elusive cocaine kingpins in history, Pablo Escobar, shared their experience Monday night at the Ohio Union at Ohio State University.

The retired DEA agents Javier Pena and Steve Murphy were the impetus for the first two seasons of the Netflix original series, “Narco.”

The agents were sent to Colombia to take down Escobar and his Medellin cartel.

“Our philosophy was that when you go after an organization, you have to go after everybody in it,” Peña told the Lantern. “In other words, you have to dismantle the organization, not just one person.” 

Murphy said the phrase “war on drugs” was not completely accurate because governments provider serious resources in an actual war.

“We were fighting a ‘war on drugs’ against the biggest cocaine dealer, the world’s first narco-terrorist, the world’s most wanted criminal, and what did they send? They sent the two of us,” Murphy said. “It was more of a joke. Since we’ve retired, we’ve re-examined the situation. We still need the enforcement element, but we cannot arrest our way out of this problem. We cannot put enough people in jail to stop narcotics trafficking. There’s just too great a demand.”

The lecture included a history of Escobar, the violence of the Medellin cartel, smuggling tactics and the prison that Escobar built for himself and his compatriots.

“We never met him, but he knew us by name,” Murphy said. “He put a $300,000 bounty on our heads.”

Foundation for Economic Freedom: DEA’s War on Painkillers to Blame for Many Deaths

pillsBy The Foundation for Economic Freedom
Value Walk

Many of these deaths result not from painkillers, but from the DEA’s war on painkillers.

Heroin overdose rates doubled in 28 states between 2010 and 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A record-breaking 28,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2014. In 2000, the age-adjusted drug overdose death rate was 6.2 per 100,000 persons. By 2014, it had more than doubled, to 14.7, according to the CDC.

What happened?

The truth is that many of those deaths are completely preventable and result not from painkillers, but from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s war on painkillers.

This week, the Senate is likely to pass the 21st Century Cures Act. Among other things, it allocates $1 billion to help states “combat heroin and painkiller addiction and recovery.” Policymakers would be wise to make sure that states don’t use that $1 billion to make the problem worse.

Who’s Taking Opioids?

Marine corporal Craig Schroeder served in Iraq. In the so-called “Triangle of Death” region, south of Baghdad, a makeshift-bomb explosion left him with traumatic brain injury. Schroeder returned home with a broken foot and ankle and a herniated disc in his back. He suffers from chronic pain in addition to hearing and memory loss.

And the regulations keep coming.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that half of all troops who return from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from chronic pain.

To read more click here.

Other Stories of Interest

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Another Failure of Drug War is Lack of Accountability

dea-badgeBy Editorial Board
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Each year, the United States spends more than $51 billion on the war on drugs — a war we’re clearly losing. The war has become so futile that the federal agency charged with leading the fight has undermined its own mission — and no one is being held accountable.

A Justice Department review found that, for years, DEA agents assigned to Colombia indulged in sex parties involving prostitutes supplied by drug cartels. The report found that local police often stood guard during the parties, keeping an eye on the agents’ weapons and other belongings, and that three DEA supervisors involved in the parties accepted gifts of money, weapons and other items from the cartels.

“Most of the sex parties occurred in government-leased quarters where agents’ laptops, BlackBerry devices and other government-issued equipment were present … potentially exposing them to extortion, blackmail or coercion,” the report said.

Despite the fact that the misconduct put agents and national security at risk, the agency’s Office of Security Programs was never made aware of the issue, and the agents were issued paltry suspensions ranging from 10 to as little as two days.

But DEA misconduct goes much deeper.

According to newly released U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration discipline logs reviewed by USA Today and the Huffington Post, agency employees have avoided termination for a variety of serious violations, including falsifying official records, having an “improper association with a criminal element” using and distributing drugs and driving government vehicles while drunk. And when administrators did recommend termination — which was rare — the agency’s Board of Professional Conduct often rolled back the punishments to suspensions and lesser penalties, and even forced the DEA to rehire the violators.

No accountability whatsoever within a federal agency? Where have we heard this before?

The findings in the Justice Department, USA Today and Huffington Post reviews highlight a culture of corruption within the DEA. It’s unrealistic to expect an entire workforce to be free of misconduct. But it’s reasonable to demand that problem employees are terminated.

This is more proof that the war on drugs is a counterproductive boondoggle of epic proportions.

To read more click here. 

Cocaine Production in Bolivia Drops for 4th Year in Row After DEA Was Kicked Out

boliviaBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

For the fourth year in a row, cocaine production declined in Bolivia after the DEA was forced to leave the country, Mint Press News reports. 

Last year, cocaine production dropped 11% over the prior year, according to the United Nations.

The DEA was forced out of Bolivia seven years ago, and instead of seeking punitive measures, the Bolivian government found alternative crops for farmers.

“Bolivia has adopted a policy based on dialogue, where coca cultivation is allowed in traditional areas alongside alternative development [in others],” Antonino de Leo, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s representative in Bolivia, told VICE News.

“It’s not only about making money off a crop. In the old fashioned alternative development approach, we substitute one illicit crop for a licit crop. It’s about a more comprehensive approach that includes access to essential services like schools, hospitals, and roads in areas that traditionally have been hard to reach,” Leo added.

Columnist: End of War on Drugs Couldn’t Be Sooner

Leonard Pitts Jr. 
Miami Herald

It’s been a war on justice, an assault on equal protection under the law.

And a war on families, removing millions of fathers from millions of homes.

And a war on money, spilling it like water.

And a war on people of color, targeting them with drone strike efficiency.

We never call it any of those things, though all of them fit. No, we call it the War on Drugs. It is a 42-year, trillion-dollar disaster that has done nothing — underscore that: absolutely nothing — to stem the inexhaustible supply of, and insatiable demand for, illegal narcotics. In the process, it has rendered this “land of the free” the biggest jailer on Earth.

To read more click here.

Former DEA Officials Stand to Profit from Their Opposition to Marijuana Decriminalization

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

Two former top DEA officials who have been loudly urging the federal government to nullify marijuana decriminalization in Washington and Colorado stand to profit from making pot illegal, the U.S. News & World Report revealed.

The retired officials, Robert L. DuPont, former White House drug czar under Presidents Nixon and Ford, and Peter Bensinger, who was administrator of the DEA in the 1970s, run Bensinger, DuPont & Associates, which specializes in drug testing in the workplace, U.S. News wrote.

“These individuals still have financial and professional interests in ancillary businesses and endeavors that benefit from keeping marijuana illegal,” he says. “So there’s a lot of bluster to imply the sky is falling, while to the rest of the public this is no big deal.” Armentano cites a number of recent public opinion studies on pot, including a 2011 study from Gallup that found at least half of America today supports legalizing marijuana.

The men were among 10 former DEA officials to recently address the Senate Judiciary Committee over their opposition to the pot laws.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

War on Drugs Goes to Africa

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. is expanding its war on drugs to Africa, the New York Times reports.

Targeting areas used to smuggle Latin American cocaine into Europe, the U.S. is training an elite unit of counter-narcotics police in Ghana and plans to do so with Nigeria and Kenya.

The aggressive position in Africa is a sign that the U.S. is increasing some operations while the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, according to the New York Times.

“We see Africa as the new frontier in terms of counterterrorism and counternarcotics issues,” Jeffrey P. Breeden, the chief of the D.E.A.’s Europe, Asia and Africa section, told the New York Times. “It’s a place that we need to get ahead of — we’re already behind the curve in some ways, and we need to catch up.”

Former DEA Agent: Legalize Drugs

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former federal investigator called for the legalization of drugs during a Libertarian Party of Texas convention over the weekend, the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Saying the war on drugs has spread needless violence and wasted billions of tax dollars, Sean Dunagan, who worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration, also told the audience that money would be better spent on prevention and treatment programs.

“There is a huge collateral impact by the drug war,”  said Dunagan a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a Massachusetts-based group of law enforcement authorities who support the legalization of drugs, the paper reported. “We spend at the federal level about $26 billion a year fighting this war, and we really have nothing to show for it. Ten years ago, 8.3 percent of the population reported using illegal drugs. Today it’s 8.9 percent.”

While Dunagan said he does not advocate drug use, he believes the ban on drugs violates civil liberties, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST