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©1999 - 2012
Edward D. Reuss
All rights reserved. Including the right of reproduction in whole or part in any form

 

HOW GOES THE WAR ON DRUGS?

The American People must decide if they want to end the tyranny of the drug industry.  When I say "industry", I mean just that. The manufacture, growth, shipping, distribution, and sale of illegal drugs has taken on all the power and financial wealth of a global corporate giant.  That is an understatement.  This "industry" pays no taxes, destroys countless lives, and uses murder and terror to enforce its will on the global community. The American People are the primary market for the product of this industry. The profit that is realized by the peddling of narcotics to users in the United States is envied by those abroad who see the opportunity to enrich themselves at the expense of the depraved and degenerate Yankees.   Who can respect a nation that is the marketplace for heroin, cocaine and other drugs?

Why not make money while using drugs as a weapon of destruction? Why not encourage the drug cartels to flood America with narcotics and bankroll the political and economic campaign against America? Even those who are not enemies of the United States find it hard to resist profiting from the weakness of the Americans. They may not actually engage in the sale or distribution of drugs, but their financial institutions launder the money for the global drug dealers.
Bank secrecy and shifting of money to offshore institutions that engage in willful blindness to the laundering of the profits enables the drug industry to flourish.

So, how goes the War on Drugs? Let's look at our field commanders.  Who is the Commander?
We call our commander the "Drug Czar".  Until recently, General Barry McCaffrey, the nation's most decorated General of the Army was the longest- serving drug czar. Under General McCaffrey and the Clinton Administration, a counterinsurgency campaign against Colombian drug traffickers has been launched with U.S. support. We are now engaged in a protracted military mission in the hills of Colombia.  The operation is known as “Plan Colombia”.  “Plan Colombia” is a $1.3 billion aid package that the U.S. Government approved to help Colombia fight narcotics trafficking.  It includes 42 refurbished Huey IIs from Bell Helicopter at a price of over $130 million.
 
www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/special/bell.html


The General was given an impossible task.  The War on Drugs cannot be won by military intervention.  General McCaffrey has left the post of Drug Czar.  Yet, the operation in Colombia may eventually cost the taxpayers of the United States billions of dollars.

The farmers and workers of Colombia and other nations of the world have become dependent on the product that is sold on the streets of the United States.  The growing of cocoa leaves or the poppy plant allows the struggling farmers to feed their families.  They have become dependent on the drug lords for their very survival. We send gunships to destroy the only cash crop that they have. Who is their enemy? To whom to you think they will give their loyalty and allegiance?  The English speaking North Americans who exploited the economies of Latin America are now sending their armed forces and police to destroy their crops. Who do you think is going to win in this struggle?

Imagine if we turned the tables on the drug industry? How can we do that?  Do you remember what they initially called Fidel Castro?  When Castro was in the hills of Cuba fighting a guerilla war against the government of Battista, the American news media referred to him as the "Robin Hood of the Caribbean" .  The naïve political journalists of that time were optimistic. They called him that because before he came into power, he won the support of the people of Cuba by promising them the one thing that will always win the hearts of the people. It has always been the one thing that mankind has always dreamed of. He promised them LAND. Castro held out the hope for the people that they could someday be given a small piece of land to call their own where they could live out their lives.  The Communism that he brought to Cuba didn't deliver on that promise, but Castro's army of guerillas won the battle.  Can we learn from the tactics of Fidel Castro

What if we were to truly engage in an economic war on drugs? We have the laws and tools needed to seize the wealth of the drug lords.  Are we ready to do that?  Do we have the intestinal fortitude to do that?

 Does anyone remember "Operation Green Ice" ?  This Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) initiative crippled the Cali Cartel.  The DEA used tactics that hold out the key to success in destroying the entire illegal drug industry.  It wasn't a military operation. "Operation Green Ice" used special agents of the DEA to infiltrate the money laundering enterprises operated by the leaders of the major Colombian cocaine cartels, principally the Cali cartel.  The key to crippling the Cali cartel was to penetrate the money laundering operations of the Cali group. "Green Ice" was successful beyond all expectations. 

"The plan for the shops in the United States was so successful that the cartel operatives asked the undercover agents to provide money laundering services in Europe, Canada, and the Caribbean. With this request, Green Ice became an international operation, requiring DEA's special agents to call on their law enforcement counterparts in Columbia, Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom, Canada, and the Cayman Islands in order to help carry off the plan.
The negotiations continued, and one fateful weekend in September 1992, the seven cartel financial managers went to meetings set up outside Colombia. They were to rendezvous with their "operatives" in the United States, Italy, Spain, and Costa Rica to discuss plans for their criminal enterprise. Instead, they were arrested.
When the tally was taken at the end of that weekend, the scorecard showed 167 arrests and the seizure of more than $54 million in cash and property worldwide. In one of the most significant seizures, the Colombian National Police conducted a raid on the financial offices of the Cali cartel in Cali itself (specifically the offices of drug kingpin Rodriquez Orjuela), seizing financial books and records, as well as computer hard drives and discs containing transactions and bank account information.
In announcing the results of Operation Green Ice at the subsequent news conference, DEA Administrator Robert C. Bonner described the serious blow that had been delivered to the Cartel cartel. "These monies are their lifeblood," Bonner said. "They must have this cash in order to finance the production and distribution of drugs, and in order to corrupt and intimidate.  By disrupting their financial operations, we diminish their very capacity to do evil." ¹

William Ruzzamenti, Chief of Public Affairs, Drug Enforcement Administration,  "DEA Celebrates 20 Years of Innovative Drug Enforcement", The Police Chief, July 1993 issue, page 19

It has been nearly a decade since "Operation Green Ice" .  Other drug lords and cartels have filled the vacuum left by the Cali cartel.  The tactics used to destroy the Cali financial base were effective; however, the drug lords are not fools. The drug trade is not restricted to any one nation.  It is a mistake to focus only on one country in the global drug trafficking industry.  It is remarkable how well the drug industry can adapt to changing trends in law enforcement and laws.  For instance, with the passage of legislation by the Congress of the United States to deal with international money laundering, the drug industry showed its flexibility:

So as banks around the world became stricter about money laundering laws, Colombian traffickers began to avoid using the legitimate bank system and started infiltrating the black peso exchange to launder their drug money.  This sophisticated method would eventually become known as the Black Market Peso Exchange, and is still one of the most successful money-laundering methods ever devised. Fanny Kertzman , the former chief of Colombian Customs, says the black peso exchange launders almost $5 billion dollars of drug money a year for the Colombian traffickers."

www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/special/blackpeso.html

"The Black Market Peso Exchange is perhaps the largest, most insidious money laundering system in the Western Hemisphere," says Raymond Kelly, Commissioner of US Customs Service. "It's the ultimate nexus between crime and commerce, using the global trade to make global money laundering."

www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontlne/shows/drugs/special/blackpeso.html


To understand the problems that the drug industry have in laundering the proceeds of the drug trade, just visit the web site highlighted above this paragraph. 

Another method which became popular in the mid 1980s was to simply fly the cash to off-shore banking havens like the Bahamas, Aruba, the Caymans and the British Virgin Islands and deposit it there. While this method is still used today, it became more difficult for traffickers as the enforcement was strengthened at airports and seaports."

www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/special/blackpeso.html

The drug cartels have now transformed the black market into their own illegitimate international banking system.  The money side of the drug industry is like a completely separate business. The people who handle the drug money, launder the money by depositing it in banking institutions here in the United States. They use a large number of "runners" who deposit the money into hundreds of banks accounts here in the U.S. in amounts less than $10,000 per transaction.  This is to circumvent the Banking laws that require reports of large deposits.
Once deposited, the money can be moved and manipulated in otherwise legal business transactions.

To read how a business transaction is accomplished, read the Bell Helicopter Case on the following web page:

www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/special/bell.html

It is time to stop the nonsense folks. The drug industry has gone legit.  They have the money to corrupt both government and corporate leaders. Businesses throughout the world must stop this conspiracy of silence about the laundering of drug money.  The Unites States government has warned large U.S. businesses to change the way they are doing business in Latin America and other Caribbean nations because they have been receiving "black peso" dollars. 

"The companies become involved when international money brokers, working in league with drug traffickers, sell cheap American dollars, proceeds of the drug trade, to Colombian importers of appliances, cigarettes, liquor and other products. They use those dollars to buy legitimate goods in the United States from top U.S. companies and their distributors.  The money brokers often pay for the goods in strange ways, like wire transfers from unrelated third parties, which should set off some kind of alarm among the legitimate companies, according to the US Department of Treasury."

“Law enforcement and these companies are on a collision course right now because there's a legal principle called Willful Blindness, which means if you totally disregard all the facts and circumstances that would lead you to believe and know that this is illegal money, that's the same as knowing it's illegal money," says former IRS Investigator Michael McDonald "So what's the responsibility of these companies when they know they're getting paid with black market dollars?
Most of these companies know that they're getting paid with money that comes from the black market.  And the black market is fueled by the drug trade."


www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/special/us.html

Who leads the campaign against the money laundering of the drug industry?  As recently as 1986, the United States became the first nation to make money laundering a crime.  Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1956 is the most powerful anti-money laundering law in the world. It applies to drug trafficking proceeds and to more than just cash. The law has extra-territorial reach. It also permits civil penalty lawsuits by the US government for the value of the funds or property involved in the transactions. In other words, the government can seize the assets of the drug industry.
Banks are at risk of losing currency that is subject to the lawsuits.  The law has been used successfully since 1986.  The legal principle of Willful Blindness has been applied by the courts to individuals as well as banking institutions.

"In 1989, the Financial Action Task Force, a Paris-based multinational group formed by the Group of Seven industrialized nations was formed to take action against international money laundering.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stated that the aggregate size of money laundering in the world could be somewhere between two and five percent of the world's gross domestic product. Using the 1986 statistics, these percentages would indicate that money laundering ranged between $590 million (US dollars) and $1.5 trillion (US dollars).  The lower figure is roughly equivalent to the value of the total output of the economy the size of Spain."

www.moneylaundering.com


It is time to direct the attention of the world at those nations that facilitate the laundering of drug money. By acting as the international bankers for the international drug industry, they are our economic enemies.  The damage that they are doing to our people by their greed and avarice renders them outside the community of civilized nations. The war that they wage against us is an economic war with deadly effects.   What is puzzling is the position of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) .  This powerful organization has resisted asset forfeiture and civil forfeiture by the government.  The ACLU positions are highly critical of government abuse of forfeiture laws.  The transfer of assets to federal and local law enforcement agencies in the war on drugs is covered in depth on the web site of the ACLU below.   What measures would the ACLU recommend to seize the profits of the drug lords?  

Here are some quotes from an ACLU position paper "Against Drug Prohibition" that can be read on the web site of the ACLU :

The universality of drug use throughout human history has led some experts to conclude that the desire to alter consciousness, for whatever reasons, is a basic human drive. People in almost all cultures, in every era, have used psychoactive drugs. Native South Americans take coca-breaks the way we, in this country, take coffee breaks. Native North Americans use peyote and tobacco in their religious ceremonies the way Europeans use wine. Alcohol is the drug of choice in Europe, the U.S. and Canada, while many Muslim countries tolerate the use of opium and marijuana.

www.aclu.org/issues/drugpolicy/hmdrugpolicy.html

How does the ACLU envision the enforcement of drug laws in the United States? Here is another quote from the same position paper:

Some people, hearing the words "drug legalization," imagine pushers on street corners passing out cocaine to anyone -- even children. But that is what exists today under prohibition. Consider the legal drugs, alcohol and tobacco: Their potency, time and place of sale and purchasing age limits are set by law. Similarly, warning labels are required on medicinal drugs, and some of these are available by prescription only.
After federal alcohol prohibition was repealed, each state developed its own system for regulating the distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages. The same could occur with currently illegal drugs. For example, states could create different regulations for marijuana, heroin and cocaine.

This is the naïve answer that the ACLU has for dealing with the drug industry that is bloated with billions of dollars in profits from human misery.   They would have the 50 states come up with 50 different ways to cope with the international drug cartels. What turnip truck did these folks fall off?
The laughter coming out of the conference rooms of the international money launderers and drug lords should be piped into the ivy-covered halls of our law schools. 

The full commitment of the US to seize the money and property of the drug industry is needed.  But, changes in how those assets are distributed are required to gain the support of those who fear government power.  What if we were to redistribute the money and property seized from the drug industry to those who have no power, money, or economic means? What if we were to become like the "Robin Hood of the Western Hemisphere"?  What if we seized the assets, and ensured that the farmers and workers of Colombia, Mexico, and other Latin American nations were enabled to purchase farms or given as grants to start legitimate businesses?   If the farmers and people of Latin America knew that the United States were distributing the billions of dollars of drug money back to them to help them with their lives, would they still support the destruction of their nations by the drug lords? Once they had a stake in the lawful government of their nations, would they still want the drug lords to retain their power to corrupt and destroy those governments?  What If we helped the poor of Latin America instead of subjecting them a search and destroy operations and the deaths of their loved ones. If we helped a middle class to grow and flourish in Latino nations, would that ensure our own security?  We rebuilt a defeated Germany and the entire Western Europe with the Marshall Plan at the end of World War II. Can't we do the same thing in Latin America? America has never really done right by Latin America.
It is time to rectify the neglect of the past.

As the casualties in the War on Drugs begin to mount in the operations in Colombia, I can assure you that we Americans will become hated by the poor of Latin America.  As their husbands, sons, and fathers die in a protracted operation against the drug lords, the hatred will smolder for decades against us.  Let's motivate them hate the drug lords instead.

The cops fighting drugs in the cities and towns of the United States may not have law degrees like those in the ACLU.   They may not have doctorates in criminology, sociology, or psychology. But, they have something that is uniquely valuable. They have front row seats in the War on Drugs. They see the casualties up front and crystal clear. They see the death and destruction wrought by drugs. They see the lives of children destroyed in the daily horror story of the war on drugs.  They all have seen other cops killed in the war. Names like Detective Luis Lopez and Police Officer Gerald Carter are now engraved on memorial walls.  Those names are the names of cops who didn't go to ivy-covered law schools.

I remember talking for hours with Officer Luis Lopez on late tours in the 120th Precinct.  I was still a lieutenant and he would sometimes be assigned to clerical duty inside the stationhouse.  He didn't like working inside much. I grew to know and like Luis.  He often spoke of his childhood in Central America and how proud he was to be a member of the NYPD. Luis was one of the most highly motivated cops that I have ever met. He asked me once how I felt about narcotics enforcement. I had always worked patrol during my entire career.  I never went into narcotics because of the long and tedious hours required.  Precinct patrol duty and working around the clock was enough of a strain on my marriage and family life. Luis eventually was assigned to narcotics and was killed during a buy and bust operation in the confines of the 9th Precinct in Manhattan.

I never knew Police Officer Gerald Carter.  I had retired before he was assigned to the 120th Precinct .  I know that his peers respected him.  That is all I have to know. He was killed in the line of duty in the 120th Precinct as he and his partner patrolled a housing project that had been the scene of many shootings involving drugs over the years.   I recall responding to many shootings in those same projects.  On late tours, Castleton Avenue between Broadway and Alaska Streets would be littered with shell casings from shootings. Homicide scenes were a common sight to the residents of the housing project and surrounding streets. Cops know the risks that they take in the war on drugs.  The blood that has been shed by those cops is sacred.
The families and children of those police officers know full well what sacrifices have been made in the war on drugs.  The war on drugs at the street level results in casualties. Cops are killed. Children are killed in drive by shootings.  Low level drug dealers and users kill each other in the turf wars.  However, the engine that drives the drug industry from the top is profit and greed. 
Let's take the profit out of it. Let's deprive them of the proceeds of their crime.

"Operation Green Ice" showed us the way to go. Our commitment to an economic war on drugs will required the education of our people to gain their support. We have the laws on the books, the talented people in our law enforcement organizations, and the ability to wage the war. All we need is the sense of mission to win in this struggle.

Copyright © 2001 Edward D. Reuss

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