HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drug War Doing Irreparable Harm
Pubdate: Mon, 3 Mar 2008
Source: Brownsville Herald, The (TX)
Copyright: 2008 The Brownsville Herald
Author: Celerino Castillo, III



Not many people get to see the War On Drugs from the viewpoint of an
undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent. I have and it is not
a pretty sight. Twelve of my 20 years in law enforcement were spent in
the DEA, six straight years of them in undercover operations in North,
Central and South America.

Based on my experience, I can assure you that our drug war is a vile
and despicable presence doing irreparable harm to all of the American
landscape. Nowhere has this war presented itself as a positive policy.

The criminals involved in the illegal drugs trade are the only ones
who believe that today's Prohibition is a beneficial policy. The
global cartels bask in some 500 billion untaxed, cash dollars that the
drug war bestows upon them each year. That much cash buys a lot of
influence, and keeps that industry profitable. The losses of a few
kilotons here and there are no different to the cartels than retail
store face in shoplifting and damaged goods.

After a 20-year career as a professional in law enforcement I can only
offer my total condemnation of this catastrophic policy. It only
offers misery to the citizens of the Americas as the gangs and the
global criminal syndicates gain power and wealth from black market
drugs. And there are no two ways about it; this wealth is gifted to
them by U.S. Prohibition-style drug policies.

U.S. drug policy needs to be a more prominent issue on the political
landscape. There are far too many citizens suffering directly or
peripherally from the ill effects of the drug war, whether the victims
are innocent U.S. citizens like Veronica Bowers and her infant
daughter Charity, who were shot down over Peru, or farmers in Bolivia
and Peru who suffer from the poisonings of coca crop

For nearly 40 years this war has raged unabated from the rainforests
of South America to the urban landscapes of U.S. cities. Drugs are
everywhere and every effort to root them out only exacerbates the
problems of their proliferation.

We have at least one possible presidential candidate who has admitted
to illegal drug use as a youth and that has not deterred him from
seeking the nation's highest office. An arrest for drug possession on
the other hand would have eliminated any chance at holding an elected

As far back as 1992, prior to my departure from the DEA, law
enforcement agencies have had to adapt to the changing level of
admitted dug use in their hiring practices because youthful,
experimental drug use is so prevalent in today's world.

It was in 1992 that I was asked to sit on the "oral board" interviews.
The DEA was forced to employ agents who had used marijuana and cocaine
in the past. And, of course, the key words were "for experimental
purposes." I would say that 75 percent of the DEA agents used illegal
drugs at one time or another.

There is but one way to rid the landscape of the pernicious hold that
drugs -- and the thugs who control them -- have on our communities. We
need to eliminate Prohibition, again.

One thing the cartels and gangs don't want is competition from a
legally regulated industry. Legalization means regulation. Quality
controls on production, product purity and age restrictions are not
part of the criminals' plans.

The flip side of that coin is that there are industries with a very
vested interest in seeing Prohibition maintained.

There is so much money involved in fighting the War On Drugs -- from
urine testing to the vast bureaucracy that runs all of the agencies
and organizations necessary to keep our virtual "forever war" alive.
Resistance to ending this war will come from both sides. But end it we

When I was working to bring down the cocaleros in South America, I
believed in drug prohibition. But I've seen the devastation, the
corruption and abject failure of the drug war, so I must admit to
being a dissenter in this war.

End the War On Drugs for the sake of all Americans. Because truly,
America runs from the tip of Tierra del Fuego to the cold climates of
Canada's most northern territories.

Celerino Castillo III

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

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