Obama and the War on Drugs: Hypocrisy in Action

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

President_Barack_ObamaPresident Obama has admitted that while in school he was a frequent marijuana smoker. George W. Bush also alluded to smoking marijuana and possibly to using cocaine. Bill Clinton claimed to have smoked it but not inhaled it, which is the type of ridiculous statement Clinton is capable of asserting for political gain. Thus the last three Presidents of the United States have admitted that one time or another they have broken the law and used a banned substance. While each of those Presidents presided over the continued witch hunt and prosecution of the “War On Drugs” I believe that Barack Obama has been the most hypocritical.

Had either G.W. Bush, or Bill Clinton been arrested for smoking marijuana there is no doubt in my mind that they would have neither served jail time, nor would they have had their careers stained by a criminal record. Bush, as the scion of a great political family would have had his record expunged, or possibly have had the police back off when they discovered who he was. Bill Clinton was a student at a prestigious University and while not rich, came from a politically connected family in Arkansas. What they also had in common was that they were White men. Barack Obama on the other hand would have likely been arrested, despite his status as a Harvard student and while he probably would have escaped jail time he would have been forced to take a plea which would remain on his record. If such a thing had occurred it is highly probable that Barack Obama would never have been elected Senator, much less President. There is a likelihood that he might never even have been allowed to enter the Bar as an attorney, since that entrance requires extensive background checks. Whatever you might think of him Barack Obama is a very intelligent man. Surely he must realize how fortunate he was to not get caught smoking grass and yet as President he has stepped up the War On Drugs and has allowed egregious prosecutions in States that have passed medical marijuana laws. To my mind this is blatant hypocrisy, but beyond that political position lies a destructiveness that can only rationally be seen as the continuance of the oppression of Americans of color, particularly Blacks, by our Federal Government. I will deal with our President’s hypocrisy and use it as the basis of my condemnation of the War On Drugs.

Recent years have seen ballot initiatives in many States such as California’s approval of Medical Marijuana and Colorado’s decriminalization of marijuana use. At the same time Attorney General Holder has reiterated that despite these States’ initiatives, the Federal Government will continue to arrest and prosecute for the sale and possession of marijuana. President Obama has backed the position of his Attorney General and we have seen raids and arrests in Medical Marijuana facilities and shutting them down. This is only a small portion of why our President is a hypocrite on this subject. The figures I am about to use and the arguments I will make can be backed up by evidence, which will be provided as links at the end of this piece. My hubris, if you will, is this is an issue that I know so well that I don’t have to make my case by quoting others. Indeed as can be read in many of my comments here through the years and in some of my guest blogs, I think this is a critical issue for our country.

To me hypocrites are people who assert positions and carries out actions that they know are false and ineffective, possibly in this case quite harmful.  President Obama is a hypocrite because he must know that marijuana is a relatively benign substance, which studies have shown is much less destructive than alcohol, since he has smoked weed and no doubt drunk alcohol. His friends all got high and few if any of them suffered bad consequences or were unable to become productive members of society. The evidence is overwhelming, yet the Drug Enforcement Complex (DEC) continues to carry on a crusade against those who use marijuana and continue to imprison people and destroy their lives through prosecution. When I speak of the DEC, I include the now interlocked web of the DEA, FBI, ATF, the Prison System, and State and local police forces who receive benefit from participating in this phony War On Drugs.

Since as you can tell the tone of my writing this is scathing I must admit to why I have a personal bias. From the age of 17 until the age of 37, I regularly smoked marijuana daily. During that time I worked my way through college, maintained continuous employment where I was promoted regularly, won a full tuition work study scholarship for my Masters at a prestigious school and successfully completed a 5 year training course as a psychotherapist. In graduate school my “cum” was 3.9 and I wrote all of my required papers, which consistently were graded A to A+, while smoking grass. The confession continues with the fact that I was a hyper-active, anxious child, with more than a touch of OCD and that smoking grass allowed me to “chill out” so to speak and focus myself. I had also since a baby suffered from insomnia, since I couldn’t shut my mind off and when I started smoking pot I was able to get to sleep. My driving record showed no moving violations for 50 years and no automobile accidents. When grass was unavailable, I didn’t smoke it, but it was rarely unavailable. I stopped at age 37 since I became a father and didn’t want my children growing up with contact highs. Stopping was easy since one day I smoked and the next day I didn’t. I didn’t replace smoking grass with the Legal Drug alcohol, because I have always been a drinker in strictly social situations and never drink at home. Not out of caution but out of the fact that I don’t particularly care for the alcohol high.  My sleeping was affected by giving up grass, but being young I learned to be able to function on about four hours of sleep per night. As for my anxiety, hyper activity and OCD they were brought under control via years of psychotherapy, but until then marijuana was a helpful part of my life and why shouldn’t it be?

That was my anecdotal experience, but what of those around me and of my generation. What has been covered up through the years is the realities that if you are above the age of forty you likely have smoked pot. I would guess that figure would be about 80% of the people of America over age 40 were at one time or another “pot smokers”. During the late 60’s and through the 1970’s in New York the smell of grass was ubiquitous in movie theaters, sports arenas, concert halls and on the streets. This was also true all across the country.  Almost everybody “got high” and almost all suffered no ill consequences. I use 40 as a cutoff point based on the assumption that the leaders of government and business generally are over 40. What pushed smoking grass underground was the ascension of Ronald Reagan to the Presidency. His rise was assisted by the support of Right Wing Christian moralists and by the still racially divided South and Southwest. He was also supported those with placid childhood memories of the “golden era” 50’s, where the entire underside of America was swept under the rug so to speak. Some of these people were blatantly hypocritical given their private lives, but their attitude was that the masses needed control by their privileged insight. So Nancy Reagan said “just say no” and the DEA, which was formed under Nixon, received a massive influx of money and publicity. The “War On Drugs” escalated beyond control.

What was behind this sudden interest in the putative “drug problem” was not only the catering to a Right Wing base, but also in a sinister sense the “War On Drugs” was code for a war on people of color as it had always been since Harry J. Anslinger, with help from William R. Hearst for both economic and racial reasons had marijuana outlawed.

“Harry Jacob Anslinger (May 20, 1892 – November 14, 1975) held office as the Assistant Prohibition Commissioner in the Bureau of Prohibition, before being appointed as the first Commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department‘s Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) on August 12, 1930.

Anslinger held office an unprecedented 32 years in his role as Commissioner until 1962. He then held office two years as US Representative to the United Nations Narcotics Commission. The responsibilities once held by Anslinger are now largely under the jurisdiction of the U.S.” Office of National Drug Control Policy.

From 1930 to 1937 Anslinger, with extensive backing from Hearst in his newspapers campaigned to have marijuana made illegal. That Anslinger had been at the forefront of enforcing the laws of Prohibition, which proved abject failures and now was finding another fruitless crusade to keep himself gainfully employed as the handwriting was on the wall that Prohibition would soon end, was rarely questioned. Part of Anslinger’s success in having marijuana outlawed was that the outlawing had a decidedly racial component.

“Anslinger has been accused to be responsible for racial themes in articles against marijuana in the 1930s.

“By the tons it is coming into this country — the deadly, dreadful poison that racks and tears not only the body, but the very heart and soul of every human being who once becomes a slave to it in any of its cruel and devastating forms…. Marihuana is a short cut to the insane asylum. Smoke marihuana cigarettes for a month and what was once your brain will be nothing but a storehouse of horrid specters. Hasheesh makes a murderer who kills for the love of killing out of the mildest mannered man who ever laughed at the idea that any habit could ever get him….”[16]

“Colored students at the Univ. of Minn. partying with (white) female students, smoking [marijuana] and getting their sympathy with stories of racial persecution. Result: pregnancy”[17][18]

“Two Negros took a girl fourteen years old and kept her for two days under the influence of hemp. Upon recovery she was found to be suffering from syphilis.”[18][19]

“The first Federal law-enforcement administrator to recognize the signs of a national criminal syndication and sound the alarm was Harry J. Anslinger, Commissioner of the Bureau of Narcotics in the Treasury” (Ronald Reagan 1986)[20]

When Anslinger was interviewed in 1954 about drug abuse (see below), he did not mention anything about race or sex. In his book The Protectors (1964) Anslinger has a chapter called “Jazz and Junk Don’t Mix” about the black jazz musicians Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker, who both died after years of heroin and alcohol abuse:

“Jazz entertainers are neither fish nor fowl. They do not get the million-dollar protection Hollywood and Broadway can afford for their stars who have become addicted – and there are many more than will ever be revealed. Perhaps this is because jazz, once considered a decadent kind of music, has only token respectability. Jazz grew up next door to crime, so to speak. Clubs of dubious reputation were, for a long time, the only places where it could be heard. But the times bring changes, and as Billy Holiday was a victim of time and change, so too was Charlie Parker, a man whose music, like Billie’s, is still widely imitated. Most musicians credit Parker among others as spearheading what is called modern jazz.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_J._Anslinger

The effectiveness of the “War On Drugs” in negatively affecting the lives of American people of color, especially Blacks is incontrovertible by the statistics:

“Race: Black males continue to be incarcerated at an extraordinary rate. Black males make up 35.4 percent of the jail and prison population — even though they make up less than 10 percent of the overall U.S population. Four percent of U.S. black males were in jail or prison last year, compared to 1.7 percent of Hispanic males and .7 percent of white males. In other words, black males were locked up at almost six times the rate of their white counterparts.”        http://www.nccd-crc.org/nccd/pubs/2006nov_factsheet_incarceration.pdf

And again from my guest blog on the subject: http://jonathanturley.org/2011/11/26/the-incarceration-of-black-men-in-america/#comments

“Race: Black males continue to be incarcerated at an extraordinary rate. Black males make up 35.4 percent of the jail and prison population — even though they make up less than 10 percent of the overall U.S population. Four percent of U.S. black males were in jail or prison last year, compared to 1.7 percent of Hispanic males and .7 percent of white males. In other words, black males were locked up at almost six times the rate of their white counterparts.”    http://www.laprogressive.com/law-and-the-justice-system/boiling-hot-mad/.html

There is even more that shows the “War On Drugs” is a war on Black Americans:

“Nationwide, black males convicted of drug felonies in state courts are sentenced to prison 52 percent of the time, while white males are sentenced to prison only 34 percent of the time. The ratio for women is similar – 41 percent of black female felony drug offenders are sentenced to  prison, as compared to 24 percent of white females. With respect to violent offenses, 74 percent of  black male convicted felons serve prison time, as opposed to only 60 percent of white male convicted felons. With respect to all felonies, 58 percent of black male convicted felons, as opposed to 45 percent of white men, serve prison sentences”.  http://www.civilrights.org/publications/justiceontrialsentencing.html          

There are estimated to be over a million people incarcerated in American on drug related offenses, the majority of which are Black. In most States convicted felons lose their voting rights and their jail records ensure that their chances for employment are limited. The “War On Drugs” is a war on people of color, particularly Black people. This is President Obama’s hypocrisy and this is President Obama’s shame. Is it too much to assume that our first Black President would not make life worse for his fellow Black Americans and would at least not be responsible for continuing a futile “War On Drugs”. It is estimated that since 1971 the United States has spent $1 Trillion pursuing this insane “War”. Last year alone the cost was $41 Billion alone, not counting court and incarceration costs. http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/06/opinion/branson-end-war-on-drugs

The futility and hypocrisy of this war is becoming recognized by people on both the Right and Left sides of the political equation. The people are passing referendums decriminalizing marijuana use and the support for it grows from our politicians. It is time for our President to stop this hypocrisy and this sham. It is also time to turn the money spent on drug enforcement, into money spent on drug rehabilitation for those who need it.

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger






72 thoughts on “Obama and the War on Drugs: Hypocrisy in Action”

  1. Thanks for covering this subject, a war on drugs doing more harm than good. Thanks also for your ‘confession’. I think you are more an exception than a rule; myself in the 70s, & most people I’ve known who smoked marijuana, got dumber.

  2. Thank you Nick S as alwayds i learned something new on this blog as i had never heard of merck cocaine before. i will say im gonna take your advice and read keith richards book. i usually dont bother to read anything about anyone in the entertainment industry. since i found out. the rules of the game for them and how as along as you’re making them money you get what you want. and they will do anything to keep you making them money but once you stop following their rules. then its destruction times in all forms. i learned that lesson early and like many others gave up that particular dream….

  3. RobinH, Most of the cocaine Keith Richards snorted was Merck produced. He said it was the best..no jitters, hangover, etc. I think they still pack your nose after nose jobs w/ Merck cocaine.

  4. MikeS, As I think you know, I always encourage exercise. And since both of our marriages have been successful, that means we both married up! Don’t piss off the better half.

  5. i know our generation doesnt know and neither will the past. but before big pharma took over and back in the so called lawless days..

    heroin was used when doctors had to perform operations. they would inject the patient with heroin. to knock them out.

    pour cocaine into the wound to numb it.

    alcohol was used to clean it. and the surgery was performed of course this was before the advent of all the caines..

    ex. novacaine, lidocaine, dixocaine and all the others. the whole purpose of outlawing the drugs was for big pharma to take over using them in their meds which of course now means the people including the doctors had to get the meds from them…. not to mention the corporation formerly known as the government are the biggest dealers we have. how else are they funding the hundreds of 3 letters agencies we are not supposed to know about? or the so called false flag terror attacks. along with the billions spent on specialzed military weaponary? anytime there is a little bust of drugs anyway you can be sure that little bust of importing drugs is a distraction for the bigger drugs being bought over by the dealers in government.. and hey lets make it 2 fold.. let’s dump the drugs in the inner cities so we can make money off of getting them hooked on it. then from there we also get to lock them up and either give them exorbitant sentences or bails. and waaalaaaaa we’re in the money…….

    its just as with the tobacco industry. they win both ways they hook the people to their cigarettes. and when the people decide they no longer want to smoke. well then hey you can still give us your money by buying patches, gums, etc its a win -win situation for them…

  6. Another interesting point in Gene’s comment is about Asian heroin and Vancouver. In talking places to visit a week or so ago I mentioned Vancouver and it’s heroin problem. I knew there was a HUGE migration of Hong Kong residents who moved to Vancouver when Communist China took over Hong Kong. You almost feel like you’re in an Asian city. The reason the immigrants chose Vancouver is just so Asian. The geography looks like a good symbol in Chinese culture. I never put the Asian migration and heroin addiction together, this article did, thanks.

  7. Mike, First it must be understood the difference between incarcerations and prison time. I agree fully that black men are busted for simple possession much more frequently than any other demographic group. That is encouraged by many city police depts. w/ your hometown being the worst. They often can’t make bail so they serve days or weeks in lockup. I’m not saying this is nothing and that’s it’s no wrong. But incarcerations is a misleading statistic. It doesn’t differentiate between a kid doing 30 days for pot possession or a black man doing 40 years for selling crack cocaine, thanks to Tip O’Neill. That was one of the biggest injustices of all time. My wife was a Federal PO and virtually all of them had their stomachs turn sour when they would calculate crack sentences. They were all happy when that was overturned, ironically from a case in her office, Western District of Wi.[Booker v US].

    Heroin was run by La Cosa Nostra but your favorite former mayor as US Attorney was instrumental in gutting that syndicate. The famous Heroin pizza prosecutions destroyed the nationwide system of heroin distribution. They would use Italian immigrants[Naples and Sicilian], set them up w/ pizza shops throughout the country, and use that as a front for distribution. My bride had one of those guys who had a pizza shop in Milton, Wi. He was prosecuted in NY but she was assigned the presentence. Milton is classic small town Wi. and you can imagine the surprise that they learned their favorite pizza shop owner was Mafia. Being big eaters, they were more saddened than surprised because then they had to go to Pizza Hut. What those prosecutions did, even more than gutting the heroin biz, was destroy the honor of omerta. Made guys started standing in line to rat. Black gangs have filled the void. One of the reasons for the carnage in Chicago is that is the main hub of US distribution of heroin. Latin gangs also are involved as are Asian gangs. Pete pointed out earlier biker gangs have been the main sellers of meth, whether made in the US or Mexico. But there are a lot of hillbilly cookers and sellers. Watch the great flick, Winter’s Bone for a taste of the Southern Mo. meth culture. The Ozarks is where this scourge started and still lives.

    Gene’s comment mentioned black tar heroin. Keith Richards mentioned in his book that it’s shit and he would only use it if he was really jonesing. Mike, Keith’s wealth is certainly a prime factor but if you read his book, you’ll see why he never overdosed like so many others. He was meticulous in his dosage. But, more importantly he saw the Hendrix and others always using more and more trying to get higher. Keith saw you didn’t get higher, just more addicted. Here’s an anecdote you can take or leave. I was never a big Stones fan. I have read Beatles and Hendrix bio’s. However, I have a friend who works @ Fairfield University, near Westport, where Keith has lived since the 90’s. There are many celebrities there so folks pretty much don’t even look twice. Keith often goes to a local convenience store for coffee and fags. Just in the many times he’s seen Keith and had small talk w/ him he is just a down to earth guy. Never lost his blue collar persona. Funny, easy going, and gracious, particularly to kids. He was an only child and that was a great sadness in his youth. Howard Hughes I’ve read about and seen Scorcese’s flick. When you have a billionaire w/ severe OCD and a drug habit you get well..a guy living alone on a floor of the Sand’s casino eating only Baskin Robbins ice cream. The latter being a fantasy for some.

    1. Nick,

      Those were two good and interesting comments you made, which I’d like to comment on in turn. The truth is I am blogged out and written out today and your comments deserve in depth replies. I’ve been averaging over 100 “E” mails a day from the blog alone, which I compulsively read and I also had to write this piece. Your comments deserve response and if I get a chance and this thread is still alive, I’ll try to respond tomorrow because you said much worth talking about. My wife is getting pissed off and rightly so, that we are here in the country and on on my laptop, rather than enjoying the outdoors. Nature and exercise are calling.

  8. SWM, Mexico is fast becoming what Colombia was back in the 70’s-90’s. It took brave pols, reporters and attorneys to take back their country. The pols weren’t liberal and the measures were extreme, some of which virtually no one here would approve[read on Los Pepe’s]. The violence associated w/ narcotics trafficking is mostly related to the distribution of the product. Mexico produces pot and meth, but the cocaine is grown and processed in South America as it always has been, Mexico is not quite where Colombia was. The drug lords literally ran the country in a reign of terror, including taking over the Supreme Court, killing judges, and burning files, in downtown Bogota. But, there of thousands of other stories. I keep up w/ the Mexican problems via my Fed sources and just reading. When I drive through El Paso you could put a gun to my head and I wouldn’t drive into Juarez! If drastic measures are not taken[and they’ll have to be ugly, just like the FBI and the KKK in the 60’s] Mexico will be Escobar’s Colombia. The one advantage Mexicans have over what Colombia had to deal w/ are guerrilla armies like FARC in Colombia. The FARC were political for decades but became enforcers for Escobar. There are some revolutionary armed groups in Mexico, but no where nearly as powerful and well armed as FARC. From what my DEA sources tell me the disadvantage is the historic corruption of Mexican police. In Colombia, there was certainly corruption, but not the long history as Mexico. When Escobar came to power he corrupted the police w/ the simple phrase, “silver or lead.” You take the money or the bullet. My sources tell me the Mexican police have ALWAYS had their hands out on a massive scale. The DEA and CIA found honorable, brave local police, prosecutors, and judges to work w/ in Colombia. For the most part, those don’t exist in Mexico

  9. Mexican drug lords control the heroin trade in Texas as they due most others drugs here.

  10. Amen, there are so many reasons to abandon this “war” (like most wars). We are moving slowly with two states approving marijuana for recreational use. I hope it is only a matter of time before we realize the insanity of what we have been doing for 80 years.

  11. Sorry, I was carried away with this piecewise activity…
    it should be “Peace”

  12. An alternative, more inclusive title is “Obama and the War on XXXX: Hypocrisy in Action” just replace the XXXX with “Poverty,” “Piece,” “Pollution,” etc. etc.

  13. From the source cite above . . .


    Domestic methamphetamine production, trafficking, and abuse are concentrated in the western, southwestern, and midwestern United States. Methamphetamine is also increasingly available in portions of the South and eastern United States, especially Georgia and Florida. Clandestine laboratories in California and Mexico are the primary sources of supply for methamphetamine available in the United States.

    Over the last decade, the methamphetamine trafficking and abuse situation in the United States changed dramatically. In 1994, ethnic Mexican drug trafficking organizations operating “super labs” (laboratories capable of producing in excess of 10 pounds of methamphetamine in one 24-hour production cycle) based in Mexico and in California began to take control of the production and distribution of methamphetamine domestically. Independent laboratory operators, including outlaw motorcycle gangs, previously maintained control of methamphetamine production and distribution within the United States, and continue to operate today on a lesser scale. The entry of ethnic Mexican traffickers into the methamphetamine trade in the mid-1990s resulted in a significant increase in the supply of the drug. Mexican criminal organizations, based in Mexico and California, provided high-purity, low-cost methamphetamine originally to cities in the Midwest and West with Mexican populations.

    In 2001, approximately 8,000 clandestine methamphetamine laboratories were seized and reported to the National Clandestine Laboratory Database at the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC). In 2001, 298 seized super labs were reported to EPIC. This represents a rise in the number of superlabs from 2000, in which the total number of superlabs totaled 168. Further, for all of calendar year 2000, the Tijuana Residence Office (TJRO) reported only two seized methamphetamine laboratories. During calendar year 2001, the number of clandestine laboratories seized in Baja California Norte increased substantially, with 24 clandestine laboratories seized as of December 2001. The majority of these laboratories have been seized in the cities of Tijuana and Mexicali. Due to the proximity of these laboratories to the United States, it is believed that the majority of the methamphetamine was bound for the United States.

    According to EPIC, the methamphetamine seized annually in transit from Mexico to the United States has increased dramatically since 1992. Authorities seized 1,370 kilograms of methamphetamine along the border in 2001, compared with only 6.5 kilograms in 1992. The primary points of entry into the United States for methamphetamine produced in Mexico have traditionally been California ports of entry, particularly San Ysidro. Although a great amount of methamphetamine still transits this area, ports of entry in South Texas have experienced increases in smuggling activity, although this activity appears to be stabilizing. The most common method of transporting methamphetamine is within concealed compartments in passenger vehicles.

    The supply of methamphetamine in the United States also stems from multiple small-scale laboratories, often operated by independent cooks who obtain the ingredients necessary for manufacture from retail and convenience stores. Methamphetamine produced in these “mom-and-pop” laboratories is generally for personal use or limited distribution. A clandestine laboratory operator can use relatively common items, such as mason jars, coffee filters, hot plates, pressure cookers, pillowcases, plastic tubing, and gas cans to substitute for sophisticated laboratory equipment. The growing use of the Internet, which provides access to methamphetamine “recipes,” coupled with increased demand for high-purity product, has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of mom-and-pop laboratories throughout the United States. In 2001, the number of labs with capacities under ten pounds totaled over 7,700.

    Methamphetamine precursor chemicals diverted to large clandestine laboratories in the United States are usually dosage-form pseudoephedrine or ephedrine drug products. Because of law enforcement attention and strong state precursor control laws in California, traffickers have now diversified to pseudoephedrine suppliers nationwide, buying at relatively lower prices in other parts of the country and trafficking the product to California, where the black market price can bring up to $5,000 per pound of product.

    Nationwide networks of suppliers, working together, now provide ton quantities of pseudoephedrine tablet products to the market in California and to distributors in other states. The latter divert the product to local methamphetamine laboratories. Small-scale lab operators commonly buy over-the-counter pseudoephedrine products in small amounts from legitimate retailers. Recent reporting indicates that Canadian companies are a major source of supply for pseudoephedrine destined for U.S. laboratories because of minimal chemical controls in Canada. On March 7, 2002, search warrants were served on two residences, one in Paramount and the other in Lynwood, California. Four hundred containers of 25,000 count pseudoephedrine jars, or “pickle jars,” (approximately 10,000,000 tablets) and $1,502,000 USC were seized. The pseudoephedrine is believed to have originated in Canada.

    Pseudoephedrine and ephedrine are also purchased from unscrupulous U.S. distributors who sell case quantities of the tablets. Ultimately, the tablets are destined for California where they are manufactured into multiple pounds of methamphetamine. The finished methamphetamine is then distributed throughout the United States through preexisting smuggling methods to the traffickers.

    In addition, the use of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) has been encountered as a “cut” in methamphetamine produced primarily by Mexican organizations. Legitimately used as a dietary supplement for horses and humans, MSM is readily available at feed and livestock stores, as well as health and nutrition stores. The addition of MSM can be used to add volume to the finished methamphetamine, thus increasing the profit. Increases in the use of MSM may be a signal of difficulty in obtaining precursors, or a simple marketing method to meet demand while increasing profit.

    The crystalline form of methamphetamine, known as “ice,” “glass,” or “crystal,” is gaining popularity. Converted from powder by criminal elements in Southeast Asia, Mexico, and the United States, ice traditionally was used in Hawaii and southern California. More recently, its use has spread along the West Coast and Southwest border areas.

    The importation of methamphetamine tablets from Southeast Asia, primarily via the mail system, remains a potential threat. Produced mainly by the United Wa State Army, the largest heroin and methamphetamine trafficking group in Burma, the tablets, which weigh approximately 90 milligrams (mg), typically contain 25 to 30 mg of methamphetamine, and 45 to 65 mg of caffeine. Although it is believed that the tablets are trafficked primarily by ethnic Thais or Laotians for use in the Asian community, it is possible that larger amounts will be smuggled into the United States if demand increases outside that community.


    Until 1999, the methamphetamine problem was increasing at an alarming rate. International chemical control efforts reduced the supply of those chemicals needed to produce high-quality methamphetamine. As a result, the national purity level for methamphetamine has decreased dramatically. The average purity of methamphetamine exhibits seized by DEA dropped from 71.9 percent in 1994 to 30.7 percent in 1999. The average purity of methamphetamine exhibits seized by DEA in 2000 rose slightly to 35.3 percent and 40.1 in 2001.


    Methamphetamine prices vary throughout different regions of the United States. At the distribution level, prices range from $3,500 per pound in parts of California and Texas to $21,000 per pound in southeastern and northeastern regions of the country. Retail prices range from $400 to $3,000 per ounce.

  14. From the Almanac of Policy Issues – Drug Trafficking in the United States, a statement from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in 2004 . . .


    Heroin is readily available in many U.S. cities as evidenced by the unprecedented high level of average retail, or street-level, purity. Criminals in four foreign source areas produce the heroin available in the United States: South America (Colombia), Southeast Asia (principally Burma), Mexico, and Southwest Asia/Middle East (principally Afghanistan). While virtually all heroin produced in Mexico and South America is destined for the U.S. market, each of the four source areas has dominated the U.S. market at some point over the past 30 years. Over the past decade, the United States has experienced a dramatic shift in the heroin market from the domination of Southeast Asian heroin to a dominance of the wholesale and retail markets by South American heroin, especially in the East. In the West, by contrast, “black tar” and, to a lesser extent, brown powdered heroin from Mexico have been, and continue to be, the predominant available form.

    The increased availability of high-purity heroin, which can effectively be snorted, has given rise to a new, younger user population. While avoiding the stigma of needle use, this user group is ingesting larger quantities of the drug and, according to drug treatment specialists, progressing more quickly toward addiction.

    South American Heroin

    The availability of South American (SA) heroin, produced in Colombia, has increased dramatically in the United States since 1993. SA heroin is available in the metropolitan areas of the Northeast and along the East Coast. Independent traffickers typically smuggle SA heroin into the United States via couriers traveling aboard commercial airlines, with each courier usually carrying from 500 grams to 1 kilogram of heroin per trip. These traffickers increased their influence in the lucrative northeastern heroin market, which has the largest demand in the United States, by pursuing an aggressive marketing strategy. They distributed high-quality heroin (of purity frequently above 90 percent), undercut the price of their competition, and used their long-standing, effective drug distribution networks. Investigations also indicate the spread of SA heroin to smaller U.S. cities.

    Since the mid-1990s, Colombian heroin traffickers have diversified their methods of operation. Couriers still come into Miami, New York City, San Juan, and other U.S. cities on direct commercial flights from Colombia. Increasingly, however, Colombian traffickers are smuggling heroin from Colombia into the United States through such countries as Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela.

    In response to increased drug law enforcement presence at eastern ports of entry, some SA heroin traffickers have sought alternative routes. They transship heroin through the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport before it reaches its final destination of New York City’s LaGuardia Airport. Their couriers often transport heroin impregnated within clothing. Couriers with other destinations also smuggle the drug using this same method of concealment. In January 2002, USCS agents at the Miami International Airport arrested a courier who had arrived from Venezuela with 14 kilograms of heroin-saturated clothing. The following month, 18 kilograms of clothing saturated with heroin were seized in New York. Another increasingly used method is to smuggle heroin by sewing it into clothing. In New York in March 2002, two couriers were arrested at a hotel with approximately 8 to 10 kilograms of heroin sewn into 24 pieces of clothing. Also in New York that month, a married couple, Venezuelan nationals, who had arrived at JFK International Airport on a flight from Caracas, had in their luggage jackets that had a combined total of 6 kilograms of heroin sewn into them.

    Colombian heroin traffickers have also used commercial maritime methods to move larger amounts of their drug into the United States. Some of the past maritime heroin shipments have been intermixed with larger shipments of cocaine, and some have been transported via cruise ships. Larger shipments of heroin have also been smuggled via containerized cargo, as evidenced by the May 16, 2001, seizure of 54 kilograms of SA heroin in New York. The heroin, packaged in 1.5 pound bricks, was secreted in false bottoms of 1,400 25-pound boxes of frozen plantains. This seizure represents the largest seizure of SA heroin to date in the United States.

    Within the United States, ethnic Dominican criminal groups have played a significant role in retail-level heroin distribution in northeastern markets for at least the past two decades. During the 1990s, Dominican groups secured their role in the heroin trade by selling high-purity SA heroin. Currently, Dominican groups dominate retail heroin markets in northeastern cities such as New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia. New York City is the primary base of operation for ethnic Dominican groups. Colombian distribution networks at the wholesale level deal directly with Dominican trafficking groups responsible for retail sales.

    Mexican Heroin

    Mexican heroin has been a threat to the United States for decades. It is produced, smuggled, and distributed by polydrug trafficking groups, many of which have been in operation for more than 20 years. Nearly all of the heroin produced in Mexico is destined for distribution in the United States. Organized crime groups operating from Mexico produce, smuggle, and distribute the black tar heroin sold in the western United States. Traditionally, trafficking groups operating from Mexico evaded interdiction efforts by smuggling heroin to the U.S. market as they received orders from customers. By keeping quantities small, traffickers hoped to minimize the risk of losing a significant quantity of heroin in a single seizure. Even large polydrug Mexican organizations, which smuggle multiton quantities of cocaine and marijuana, generally limited smuggling of Mexican heroin into the United States to kilogram and smaller amounts. Nevertheless, trafficking organizations were capable of regularly smuggling significant quantities of heroin into the United States.

    Although illegal immigrants and migrant workers frequently smuggle heroin across the U.S./Mexico border in 1- to 3- kilogram amounts for the major trafficking groups, seizures indicate that larger loads are being moved across the border, primarily in privately owned vehicles. Once the heroin reaches the United States, traffickers rely upon well-entrenched polydrug smuggling and distribution networks to deliver their product to the market, principally in the metropolitan areas of the midwestern, southwestern, and western United States with sizable Mexican immigrant populations.

    Indicative of larger shipments of Mexican heroin being smuggled into the United States are several seizures that occurred in the Southwest in recent years. Following a traffic stop in April 2002 near Pleasanton, Texas – about 25 miles south of San Antonio – Department of Public Safety troopers seized 34 kilograms of brown powder heroin. The heroin bundles, placed inside metal boxes, were found in all four tires of a pickup truck which was headed for San Antonio. In January 2001, the USCS in Del Rio, Texas, seized 42 kilograms of black tar heroin and in December 2000, they seized 27 kilograms of black tar heroin at the Laredo port of entry. Texas has not been the only border state where large amounts of black tar heroin have been seized. In October 2000, 46 kilograms of black tar heroin were seized in Arizona at the San Luis port of entry. This seizure ranks as one of the largest ever made along the Southwest border.

    Although recent DEA cases have involved Mexican black tar heroin trafficking groups east of the Mississippi River, there has been no successful, long-term penetration of the East Coast markets by organizations selling Mexico-produced heroin.

    Southeast Asian Heroin

    High-purity Southeast Asian (SEA) heroin dominated the market in the United States during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Over the past few years, however, all indicators point to a decrease in SEA heroin available domestically. Significant investigations led to the incarceration in Thailand and extradition to the United States of more than a dozen high-level violators who played key roles in moving SEA heroin shipments to the United States. SEA heroin trafficking links run from independent brokers and shippers in Asia through overseas Chinese criminal populations to ethnic Chinese criminal wholesale distributors in the United States. In the United States, ethnic Chinese criminals rely upon local criminal organizations for the distribution of SEA heroin. Despite the recent decline in the trafficking of SEA heroin in the United States, Chinese criminal groups remain the most sophisticated heroin trafficking organizations in the world.

    SEA heroin shipments destined for U.S. markets may transit through China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, or South Korea. Largely independent U.S.-based ethnic Chinese traffickers control distribution within the United States, principally in the Northeast and along the East Coast. During the late 1990s, Vancouver, British Columbia, emerged as a key operational headquarters for ethnic Chinese criminal elements. These criminal groups were enmeshed with North American gangs of Asian descent in transporting SEA heroin to the United States, mainly to the East Coast. A DEA New York Field Division investigation led to the seizure, in January 2001, of 57 kilograms of SEA heroin from a container ship docked at the port in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The largest seizure of SEA heroin in recent years.

    Trafficking groups composed of West African criminals also smuggle SEA heroin to the United States. Nigerian criminals have been most active in U.S. cities and areas with well-established Nigerian populations, such as Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, Dallas, New York City, Newark, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Over the past several years, Chicago has become a hub for heroin trafficking controlled by Nigerian criminals who primarily deal in SEA heroin.

    Southwest Asian Heroin

    While a large portion of Southwest Asian (SWA) heroin is consumed in Western Europe, Pakistan, and Iran, traffickers operating from Middle Eastern locations smuggle SWA heroin to ethnic enclaves in the United States. Criminal groups composed of ethnic Lebanese, Pakistanis, Turks, and Afghans are all involved in supplying the drug to U.S.-based groups for retail distribution. SWA heroin traffickers and wholesale distributors generally have been consistently cautious, rarely conducting heroin business with persons not of Southwest Asian or Middle Eastern ethnicity. Therefore, the ethnic aspect of SWA heroin importation and distribution has made SWA heroin more prevalent in areas with large Southwest Asian populations.

    West African traffickers, who primarily smuggled SEA heroin to the United States in the 1990s, now also deal in SWA heroin. In a particularly noteworthy seizure of approximately 24 kilograms of heroin in New York in May 2000, 90 percent of the seized heroin consisted of SWA heroin, and the remaining 10 percent was SEA. While unusual, a shipment containing the two types of heroin is not unexpected. For the last several years, West African traffickers, based in Bangkok who normally deal in SEA heroin, have been sending couriers to Pakistan to buy the cheaper Afghanistan-produced SWA heroin. Heroin in Pakistan is about half the price of SEA heroin in Bangkok where the West Africans pay between $13,000 and $16,000 for a kilogram.

    The most recent sizeable seizure of SWA heroin occurred in New York City in September 200l when officers of the city police department confiscated approximately 50 kilograms of the substance. According to the Federal-wide Drug Seizure System, this was one of the largest seizures of powdered heroin in the past five years.


    On the street, heroin purity and price often reflect the drug’s availability. High purities and low prices, for example, indicate that heroin supplies are readily available. DEA’s Domestic Monitor Program (DMP), a retail heroin purchase program, tracks urban street-level heroin purity and price. The most recent data available show that, in 2000, the nationwide average purity for retail heroin from all sources was 36.8 percent. This number is significantly higher than the average of 7 percent reported two decades ago and higher than the 26 percent recorded in 1991. The significant rise in average purity corresponds to the increased availability of high-purity SA heroin, particularly in the northeastern United States.

    Moreover, the DMP indicated that the retail purity of SA heroin was the highest for any source, averaging 48.1 percent in 2000. SWA heroin followed with a 34.6 percent average and Mexican heroin averaged 20.8 percent. Heroin purity at the street level generally remained highest in the northeastern United States, where most of the nation’s user population lives. In 2000, Philadelphia recorded the DMP’s highest heroin purity average of 74.0 percent. Over the last several years, Philadelphia has ranked consistently at or near the top in DMP retail heroin purity levels. In addition, New York City continues to be one of the major importation and distribution centers for SA and SEA heroin.


    Nationwide, in 2000, SA heroin ranged from $50,000 to $200,000 per kilogram. SEA and SWA heroin ranged in price from $40,000 to $190,000 per kilogram. Wholesale-level prices for Mexican heroin were the lowest of any type, ranging from $13,200 to $175,000 per kilogram. The wide range in kilogram prices reflects variables such as buyer/seller relationships, quantities purchased, purchase frequencies, purity, and transportation costs.”

  15. Legalizing marijuana and taxing will be successful if the taxation and regulations still allow it to be relatively cheap. If it is overly expensive the black market is not going to go away, especially if simple possession is legal and the illegal market infrastructure is still in place.

  16. and nick

    meth manufacture and distribution has traditionally been a favorite money making enterprise of motorcycle clubs.

    so feel free to run on down to you local outlaws or mongols chapter and tell them about your gay and poor white theory. i’m sure they’d love the chance to hone their debating skills.

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