Corruption, Violence, and Doom

The Mystery of the Tainted Cocaine, Part IV: Drug Prohibition, Human Suffering, and How One Act of Congress 100 Years Ago Set Us on a Global Road to Hell

Comments

1
"Nobel prize."
2
Great article and a fucking amazing series. Just don't get shot before you win the awards you'll surely get for this. Maybe don't get shot after, either.
3
Great article. I've heard it before, I know it's true, but it still feels good to hear someone say it. I wish this ran top billing on foxnews.com instead of here, because frankly, you're preaching to the choir.

Great sermon. But if we want this to change - wrong audience.

That said, like with so many issues today, we need our current population of old people to die and their political influence to die along with them. I don't know that you're going to change the mind of an conservative, avid voter over the age of 65. That is morbid and awful to say, and I'm not wishing an early death on anyone. Fact is, the generational divide on this, environmental issues, social issues like gay marriage, etc. is MASSIVE.

There are just too many 1980s conservative revolution types still in the halls of power and influence. And frankly, most of the previous century can be characterized by the fact that it was DECIDEDLY un-data-driven, emotional, and irrational.
4
Please- the dead body is a bit much. We get it. Thanks for the article, but it really disturbing as someone who has come across more than her share of dead people to see one every time I hit the web page. Thanks.
5
Excellent work, Brendan. This whole series has been incredibly eye-opening and enlightening. Thanks to you and to all the people who have risked life and limb to provide the quotes within.
6
But now, thanks to Science, there's hope!

http://healthland.time.com/2011/01/05/ne…

See, once this vaccination is required for kids entering public school, it'll only be a few years before the scourge of contaminated cocaine is vanquished.

Unless somebody hacks the immunization program with a counter-vaccine...
Hey! This could become really profitable!
7
As Americans, we justify the drug war by being self absorbed hypocrites. Those of us using illegal substances believe that we can't make a difference, or that it's not their problem. Many smoke their drugs while they sit and laugh at the misfortunes of others being busted on Cops tv show for the very drugs they are imbibing in the "sanctity" of their living rooms.

Our society's government trades on the fact that it can continue to perpetuate these policies "in our best interest." We continue to be brainwashed or indifferent to the fact that this is causing our country to fall behind the rest of the world economically, as well as falling victim to other regime's secret agendas of flooding our country with their drugs as well as their criminals (ala MS13 and others).

There has been a growing constituency of users and sympathizers in this country for decades now...so much so, that it has become a majority, and yet the federal governement still believes that it has the right to dictate drug policy to the states of this union. The states up until recently have kowtowed to the feds because not doing so meant that federal funding would be cut for many state run programs...everything from roads, to education to (and especially) law enforcement. Now states such as California are realizing that, with even just "medical marijuana" initiatives, the state would benefit. The Federal Governement soon began threatening California. California, where almost a quarter of the population of this country lives!

The Feds have been suffering from parental hypocrisy for almost a century now; meaning "We have already said no, now we cannot shift positions, because how dumb will we look?" Of course it goes much deeper than that, with all of the lobbyists and special interest groups rallying to keep at least marijuana at bay. Meanwhile, we can see any number of pharmaceutcal drug companies pimping and pandering their own products across our televisions (are your kids singing the drug company commercials in the car yet?) Let's face it, we are now telling our doctors what to prescribe us, not the other way around, and they do it gladly, as the mechanization of corporate America gets what it wants from the Federal Government, and our country's citizens get rebuffed time and again as having alterior hedonist motives that smack of selfish desire instead of a selfless big picture attitude...but wait...we are the big picture aren't we? Aren't we Americans? Isn't our governement for the people and by the people for the good of we the people?
I thought not...
8
"Newspapers picked up the story and amplified it, claiming that cocaine turned black men into rapists of white women"

Where do "stereotypes" come from?

According to the US Department of Justice and the FBI, at least 37,000 white women are raped and/or sexually assaulted by black men annually in the USA. Less than ten black women are raped or sexually assaulted by white men annually.

One in three men in South Africa ADMIT to rape (often gang rape).

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov…

Again, where do "stereotypes" come from?
9
why are his pants down?
10
Amazing article, Mr. Kiley. It should be getting more comments than this. As I was reading it, I felt all of my reservations about total legalization slipping away. We are causing worldwide carnage because we refuse to be adult about our usage and prohibition.
11
Great article!

There also just happened to be a related story on NPR this evening about the deluge of guns from America to Mexico:

http://m.npr.org/story/132652351?url=/20…

@9 gebbeth, there appears to be a large bandage on his lower right hip, possibly necessitating pants removal.
12
Great series. When you're hot, you're hot.
13
If Heroin was legal, convenient and safe to acquire, I'd be dead right now from shooting too much of it in my arm.
14
@8: if black men are inherent rapists, wouldn't the claim that cocaine turns them into rapists still be false? You didn't think about this very hard, did you?
15
A conversation in a Customs House somewhere on the US-Mexico border.

First Customs Officer: They should legalize cocaine and heroin. With the tax money they could collect from junkies needing a fix the federal debt would go away in no time.

Second Customs Officer: Your in favor of something that would put you out of a job? You must be stupid Ricky.

First Customs Officer: But tobacco’s legal and we arrest more people for smuggling untaxed cigarettes than anything else. I’d still have a job.

The point is legalizing and regulating illegal drugs wouldn’t necessarily change things all that much. Anytime the government makes rules about anything it creates a black market, the stricter the rules the bigger the black market.
16
That photo is disgusting and entirely unnecessary. You could probably defend it as "showing the reality" of the situation but intimately it is disrespectful, sensational and intrusive.
18
Great series. I do have one quibble, though. Much of this territory (especially as it relates to the Mexico) has been covered by journalist Charles Bowden. His books "Down By the River" and, most recently, "Murder City," document the rise of the Mexican drug trade under Amado Carillo Fuentes and then the descent into chaos after Fuentes' death in the mid-90s.

What strikes me about this and other reports of the violence in Mexico is that American journalists largely buy into the line that most of the murders in Mexico are committed by the narcos, when, as Bowden points out, a vast majority of those murders are committed by the Mexican military, a military that is supposed to be waging war on the gangs, not the citizens. Why do you think that the citizens of some Mexican cities support the cartels over the government/army? Because the Mexican government/army has a long, long history of exploiting and murdering its citizens, and the cartels, as brutal and imperfect as they can be, are sometimes the only reason that new churches and other community-based facilities are built. In short, the cartels actually invest some of their profits in the communities in which they operate.

I don't want to defend the narcos or paint them as misunderstood saints or something, but there are certain realities about Mexican life that this article (and most articles written by American journalists) simply fail to acknowledge.
19
Great series. I do have one quibble, though. Much of this territory (especially as it relates to the Mexico) has been covered by journalist Charles Bowden. His books "Down By the River" and, most recently, "Murder City," document the rise of the Mexican drug trade under Amado Carillo Fuentes and then the descent into chaos after Fuentes' death in the mid-90s.

What strikes me about this and other reports of the violence in Mexico is that American journalists largely buy into the line that most of the murders in Mexico are committed by the narcos, when, as Bowden points out, a vast majority of those murders are committed by the Mexican military, a military that is supposed to be waging war on the gangs, not the citizens. Why do you think that the citizens of some Mexican cities support the cartels over the government/army? Because the Mexican government/army has a long, long history of exploiting and murdering its citizens, and the cartels, as brutal and imperfect as they can be, are sometimes the only reason that new churches and other community-based facilities are built. In short, the cartels actually invest some of their profits in the communities in which they operate.

I don't want to defend the narcos or paint them as misunderstood saints or something, but there are certain realities about Mexican life that this article (and most articles written by American journalists) simply fail to acknowledge.
20
The only logical way forward is to legalize everything.
21
Diego,

you make a valid point, but isn't that covered by the B. Kiley's stating that that the government (military) and narcos are in some respects one and the same? Maybe that needed a bit more pointed language to really convey what you're saying though.
22
@nullbull - quote:"That said, like with so many issues today, we need our current population of old people to die and their political influence to die along with them."

Wow. Ageism is just as bad as racism, if not worse, as it encompasses an even larger sector of the population. God forbid you should ever grow old.
24
Reposting as a registered user:

@nullbull - quote:"That said, like with so many issues today, we need our current population of old people to die and their political influence to die along with them."

Wow. Ageism is just as bad as racism, if not worse, as it encompasses an even larger sector of the population. God forbid you should ever grow old.
.
25
I think the picture of the dead man is sad and disturbing. It's actually enough to make me think that taking illegal drugs (homegrown stuff excepted) is probably more immoral than buying something that you know was made in a sweatshop. Or maybe as immoral as buying something you know was stolen.

Maybe it's time the government started advertising this immorality as an approach to reduce demand. Maybe posters like this in night club toilets.

@diego
I think you would have to accept that while the 'War' continues then there is no way to clean up the Military.
26
Why is this photo on the main page of The Stranger's website? Whatever the dead man's identity, this is disrespectful and exploitive. It encourages the worst kind of voyeurism.
27
I have no problem with this violent image, as it serves as a good wake up call for most of us living in our safe little worlds.

The Stranger is an outspoken newspaper for a reason...it's reporting style, while not always gaining a consensus, makes one think.

Imagine living in a world where these images aren't merely photographs, but what you see on your walk to work.

While I understand the feelings by those that have posted against this image, I think it certainly calls attention to the serious nature of this article, and brings home a very palpable feeling to me at least.
28
Harry J. Anslinger & William Randolph Hearst are to blame for the cultural perception.
29
Thank you so much for doing this series and this advocacy work. This series is responsible for making me rethink my perceptions about drug legalization and forced me to reprioritize my ethics - which is that no matter how badly addiction destroys lives, it is still better for more people to use drugs and fewer people to die. The history section was also quite informative for a neophyte such as myself. Thank you.
30
Fantastic series. I read it with interest, horror, and head-nodding agreement with every point. I too wish it had run in the SeaTimes, or another paper that doesn't normally claim the drug positive community among its readership. I was just having a conversation about the horrific WOD and wished that I'd had your series to site. Great job. I hope that more people will read it.
31
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40930866/ns/…

http://tinyurl.com/3yof4sk

Children of rape are latest legacy of Haiti quake

By Jonel Aleccia and Meredith Birkett
An msnbc.com Special Report
1/6/2011

A year after Haiti’s devastating earthquake, women in Haiti’s still-teeming tent cities face yet another threat: sexual violence. With little protection from community or law enforcement, many have been violently raped, only to become pregnant with their attackers’ children.

Photojournalist Nadav Neuhaus traveled through Haiti’s tent cities last summer, photographing and interviewing dozens of residents in the camps that still house more than 1 million people. During a visit to Camp La Piste, home to 50,000 displaced people, Neuhaus noticed an unusually high number of pregnant women. A community organizer and a local midwife confirmed his worries: Many of the women were pregnant as a result of rape.

They came to Camp La Piste after losing parents, brothers and husbands in the earthquake, leaving them to fend for themselves in the sprawling squalor, where roving gangs of armed men terrorize residents.
32
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/07/world/…

http://tinyurl.com/22387b

The New York Times

Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War

BUKAVU, Congo — Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist, cannot bear to listen to the stories his patients tell him anymore.

Every day, 10 new women and girls who have been raped show up at his hospital. Many have been so sadistically attacked from the inside out, butchered by bayonets and assaulted with chunks of wood, that their reproductive and digestive systems are beyond repair.

“We don’t know why these rapes are happening, but one thing is clear,” said Dr. Mukwege, who works in South Kivu Province, the epicenter of Congo’s rape epidemic. “They are done to destroy women.”

Eastern Congo is going through another one of its convulsions of violence, and this time it seems that women are being systematically attacked on a scale never before seen here. According to the United Nations, 27,000 sexual assaults were reported in 2006 in South Kivu Province alone, and that may be just a fraction of the total number across the country.

“The sexual violence in Congo is the worst in the world,” said John Holmes, the United Nations under secretary general for humanitarian affairs. “The sheer numbers, the wholesale brutality, the culture of impunity — it’s appalling.”
33
http://blogs.reuters.com/photo/2010/03/0…
http://tinyurl.com/yjrtchk

South Africa’s child-rape epidemic
Mar 2, 2010

"South Africa has the highest rate of rape in the world, including child and baby rape, with one person estimated to be raped every 26 seconds, according to aid groups and local organizations.

In Khayelitsha, a sprawling, crime-ridden township of more than 500,000 people, many of the victims are children under the age of 10. "

----------------------

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/170359…
http://tinyurl.com/aasz3d

Baby rapes shock South Africa

"Every day the newspapers bring awful revelations: a nine-month-old girl gang-raped by six men; an eight-month-old raped and left by the roadside. "
34
http://www.gallup.com/poll/123800/rape-t…

http://tinyurl.com/2dz5m8r

Rape Troubles Nearly All in South Africa

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A Gallup survey of South Africans conducted March 21-April 7, 2009, reaffirms the extent to which the issue of rape plagues the country -- with 97% of residents calling it a major problem.

The Gallup survey results add to statistics from Interpol estimating that a woman is raped every 17 seconds in South Africa, and that one in every two women will be raped in their lives in the country. According to Interpol, South Africa has the highest number of declared rapes in the world, with nearly half of the victims younger than 18.

In a recent survey conducted by South Africa's Medical Research Council in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces, one in four men admitted to having raped someone, and nearly half said they had attacked more than one victim. The report also found acts such as gang rape to be common because they are considered a form of male bonding, or a way to prove one's manhood or power."
35
Bravo! Also as much as I love Savage Love, this deserves as much attention, if not more. Oh well, jerking off is interesting, and nobody gives a shit how many Mexicans get beheaded.
36
Thank you for a well-written article, Brendan.
It really saddens me of all the widespread evil that is corporate Republican.

@3: nullbull: You're right--this spot on article SHOULD be on Bushiemedia-contaminated Fox News. Trouble is, nobody who buys their Tea-Bag bullshit would believe it. I think that to get the point across, we need to lock up every Republican pig and ignorant member of the Tea Party in a room, and subject all of 'em, gagged and bound, to repeated readings of Brendan Kiley's article until they scream for mercy.

Okay. I'm done.
37
Hmmmmm....that could could take ANOTHER 100 years!
38
Sorry--make that just one "could".
39
Brendan, I am impressed with your ability to pack an insane amount of information into this article, while maintaining an engaging, evocative style. Nice work.
40
what does all that rape shit have to do with the article? second , maybe you could just stop doing drugs, finally the tea baggers have won.global warming scam failed . congress is lost. didn't you see them dragging nanci pelosi kicking and screaming from the room. you guys had your chance, the house is lost , the rest is next. obamas a gonner in 2012. so much for the revolution commiecrats. good luck on your next try, in a hundred years lol !
41
@40 you don't even make sense.
42
@41, He's a poe.

Goddam amazing series.
43
I imagine Kelly O is bummed she didn't have this image for Drunk of the Week.
44
As a follow-up to this excellent series, I'd like to see The Stranger look into the sudden rush to outlaw synthetic weed in the wake of the car crash at the Market.

I've smoked my share of 'real' weed, but it never had me even close to passing out behind the wheel - especially at 11am. Is synthetic weed really that potent?

45
Great job, and perfect choice of picture, I think it should disturb people. I wish someone would could make a documentary out of this and show it in schools instead of that ridiculous DARE shit I grew up with. Even better, just like when someone gets a DUI and has to do alcohol education, when you get arrested for cocaine, heroin, marijuana, etc... you should be obligated to see all the carnage involved in making and distributing the product.
46
all my ganja comes from northern cali, not mexico.
47
it won't change as long as all who've smoked pot stay in the closet about it. half the legislators smoke pot, yet continue knowing pot dealers are in jail....a third of america has smoked pot....yet you don't see people coming forward too much and saying so. you just can't lead a movement for social change if the affected people stay in the closet about it. we have more gay rights now only because gays came out of the closet, then the average american realized gays not scary freaks, but are the mom down the street and the guy who's an accountant -- boring. but pot smokers still act like little children afraid to come forward, afraid to demand that politicians who support them simply say YES I SMOKE POT IT'S NOT BIG DEAL. so, that conversation never happens ande the law and order scary mongering side wins the debate. you have to make pot familiar, known, boring, not scary. btw having a bunch of stoned hippy dippies leading the movement in a hempfest and with long hair and all that is exactly the wrong image to mesage. you want marcus welby smoking a joint on youtube then another 500,000 washingtonians putting their videos up on youtube saying pot is no big deal. you need 100 million conversations across america, you need swing voters realizing they already know 20 people who smoke pot, but right now all those people are hiding in the closet.
48
Job well done on reporting this. If ever there was a greater call for ending prohibition, the grisly effects of the war on drugs that you highlight in this article certainly make the case.

As for those who feel that the picture is too extreme an image to publish, I'm glad The Stranger made the decision to do so.

The pics on BorderlandBeat/BlogDelNarco of the December 29th Acapulco nightclub display of skinned heads and chopped up bodies....now THAT's nasty!
49
Job well done on reporting this. If ever there was a greater call for ending prohibition, the grisly effects of the war on drugs that you highlight in this article certainly make the case.

As for those who feel that the picture is too extreme an image to publish, I'm glad The Stranger made the decision to do so.

The pics on BorderlandBeat/BlogDelNarco of the December 29th Acapulco nightclub display of skinned heads and chopped up bodies....now THAT's nasty!
50
So you would have to target every alcoholic beverage maker and make a mandatory law for driving under the influence (Federal)?

Its not the legalization that the problem as it is the feeding frenzy for lawyers and the kicks in the teeth for politics in general as no one has the balls to face the machine that "IS" America for any of its poor failures at everything?

Come a big problem like a bad economy and the very first thing to Pansy out and go limp wristed and desert the American people is the American Government?

You make Heroin legal and the floor of congress will be a carpet of needles?

New Orleans has a Hurricane party as an F-5 monster named Katrina rolls directly at them and they don't even know if the water pumps work or not?

They "should" make sharp objects illegal
51
Wow. This series is such a perfect example of what journalism should be, that I cried because most of it is not.

Maybe the commenter posting the links to stories about rape is suggesting a new topic you could look into? I can't wait to see what you write about next.

Thank you. And yes, the photo was called for.
52
Great work Mr K, you should be shortlisted for a Pulitzer.
53
The mighty Eric Cartman has come up with a novel solution to our drug problem, but I think "maybe you could just stop doing drugs" is a bit long winded. How about something like "Just say No"?
54
@53: make sure to introduce that campaign around the same time that one of the world's largest manufacturers of athletic clothing launches their "just do it" ad campaign, thereby confusing the shit out of everyone.
55
I know others have said this and I'm sure it's a fantastic article, but I REALLY wasn't happy to load up the Stranger and see such a horrific image of death on the main page with no warning. Some of us may be at work, some of us may have kids nearby, some of us may be sensitized from violent experiences, and some of us may be currently eating spaghetti bolognese. This is a weekly news and culture website, not Ogrish. Please show some respect for your readers and give us a choice here.
56
P.S. Also, while the deceased clearly made choices that led him to here, his family does not deserve to have their dead loved one displayed on a public forum where they could stumble across this image at any time.

P.P.S. Amazing and thorough journalism. I would forward it to everyone I knew if the picture was removed or placed behind a warning.
57
P.S. Also, while the deceased clearly made choices that led him to this state, his family doesn't deserve to have their dead loved one displayed on a public forum where they could stumble across the image at any time.

P.P.S. Amazing and thorough journalism. I would forward it to everyone I knew if the picture was removed or placed behind a warning.
58
Great work. You should be shortlisted for a Pulitzer for this piece.
59
Amazing article. I thought the first article provided some pretty strong evidence as to why levamisole is being used in cocaine...it's harder to detect, doesn't change the appearance of the powder, etc...It's been a while since I read that one, and I don't remember what other reasons were given but it seemed kind of cut-and-dried that levamisole was superior to baby powder or whatever, and so of course those greedy fucks are going to use it to stretch their product. But I guess this is just speculation.
60
this is where too cool becomes uncool.
61
want to learn more? check the http://www.DrugWarRant.com/
62
fucking fantastic article...i liked this even better than the other ones because it tied everything together..leaves me in serious despair about when sanity is going to prevail though..
63
Brendan, awesome work. Thank you.
64
Absolutely stellar work! This series of articles should be widely distributed.

Thank you Brendan. I came here because of Savage Love but I have stayed because of your critical work. Bravo.
65
@13 - what if it were legal, convenient, and safe to acquire exactly one day's dose at a pre-arranged time from a licensed pharmacist, and you had to use it right there in a supervised setting?
66
I haven't read the article or even looked at the cover for a while because that picture it just too awful. Weegee showed some grotesque things yes, but they had beauty, told a story, and inspired emotions other than revulsion.
67
I have to agree with Jaybird -- the thought crossed my mind a couple of articles ago that you might be pissing some people off. Which isn't a reason not to write, but a great reason to watch your back.

Be careful. You're valuable. And thank you.
68
@41: I think that's his point.
Eric the Mostly Gaseous Fartman has no sense.
Apparently he thinks it's his charm.
My guess is that he's also the poo guy in ANON as well. That's about his speed.
69
One of the best closing paragraphs I've ever read.

I don't necessarily agree, but given the quality of the perspective, I don't really have a disagreement to stand on. Which means: I'm off to the library to better inform myself and form a more complete opinion on the matter. And if that is the goal of true journalism, which it should be, then you sir have succeeded.
70
I question why the pants are down, why the ankles
are crossed? It appears that he may have also been raped,
in view of the pants and the body having been turned over.
This is very disturbing.
71
The whole series was excellent. The violence is a necessary aspect to story and the photo delivers..
72
My guess as to why the pants are down is they were searching the body after he was killed.

73
Many, many people die every year in Mexico because of the War on Drugs. It's time to realize nobody is winning here except a lot of criminals. Luckily even the president of Mexico is finally realizing this. Time to change something! Check out some more info: http://www.dailysmoker.com/blog/mexico-l…
74
Many, many people die every year in Mexico because of the War on Drugs. It's time to realize nobody is winning here except a lot of criminals. Luckily even the president of Mexico is finally realizing this. Time to change something! Check out some more info: http://www.dailysmoker.com/blog/mexico-l…
75
As a Former Police officer and now retired Drug addict, problem user, alcoholic/ cokehead whatever you'd like to call it who is now sober/clean and does not use any substance, i agree with the Author what a great article ....the Drug war is a big useless waste the regular American is the loser here paying for it all , make it all Legal and tax it , regulate it. The taxed money should go towards treatment.... which is useless for someone who does not want to stop by the way. Alcohol although socially acceptable is just as bad as any of the Drugs if not the worst . In rehab the straight up Drinkers looked more torn up than anyone there including Hardcore Heroin users. To the Gung ho overzealous cops kicking down doors then kicking back cases of Bud really look at yourself man...This war has gone to far time to re evaluate.