Wednesday, October 21, 2009

DEA Continues Red-Ribbon Campaign

The DEA's annual Red-Ribbon Campaign memoralizes the death of Special Agent Enrique Camarena. He was tortured and killed by Mexican traffickers in March of 1985. This statement about the campaign is typical of the agency's myopic view of their operations:

"The Red Ribbon Campaign is dedicated to helping to preserve Special Agent Camarena's memory and further the cause for which he gave his life, the fight against the violence of drug crime and the misery of addiction. By gathering together in special events and wearing a Red Ribbon during the last week in October, Americans from all walks of life demonstrate their opposition to drugs."

The loss of any life is regrettable, and what makes this loss even more regrettable is the preventable nature of it. The law gives traffickers the ability to make enormous sums of money from what would otherwise be nearly worthless plants. This profit potential creates the ability to influence the highest levels of government and indiscriminately kill civilians and law enforcement officers alike. The DEA needs to believe that Agent Camarena's death was a drug-related crime. When a man becomes inebriated at a bar and returns home to beat his spouse, that's a drug-related crime. When an addict sells their child or turns their spouse into a prostitute to obtain money for drugs, that's a prohibition-related crime. When a law enforcement officer is killed by a trafficker in order to protect their business interests, that's a prohibition-related crime. Determining the difference between drug and prohibition-related crimes is a simple task. If the crime would likely have occurred before the law existed it is a drug-related crime. Otherwise it is a prohibition-related crime.

Addiction can have horrible consequences for addicts and their families. Often the consequences related to law enforcement contact and a subsequent conviction create more misery than the drug problem ever did. People can and do recover from drug addiction. Recovery from a drug conviction is nearly impossible unless you have a skill that allows to make you money without being employed by someone.

The DEA's claim that Americans from all walks of life oppose drugs, would be laughable if it were not so intentionally dishonest. With of over $100 Billion in annual sales from just three of the major pharmaceutical manufacturers, Americans obviously have no problem with drugs. Many Americans do however have a problem with drugs that have been demonized via political propaganda and false education campaigns. Left to their own devices most people wouldn't know about many of these drugs let alone have a positive or negative perception of them.

The futility of DEA efforts will not change regardless of how much they would like it to. What can and must change is the public's recognition of the agency's contribution to the problem not the solution.


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