Exposing the Drug War’s Horrors in Mexico and the U.S.

Monday, August 13th, 2012

By Jamie Haase, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

As a former criminal investigator for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Laredo, Texas, I witnessed firsthand the many horrors the drug war brings to communities on both sides of the border. Eventually, my sense of the drug war’s inability to end drug use and my knowledge of the harm it causes convinced me to resign from my post. I have since joined LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of current and former law enforcement officials who, knowing the war on drugs better than anybody, have dedicated their lives to ending it.

Radley has graciously allowed LEAP to blog about our work to end drug prohibition all this month. This week, I step in to fill the tremendous shoes of former DEA intelligence analyst Sean Dunagan, last week’s LEAP blogger, whose posts on how the DEA made the drug war worse rather than better, the government’s own admissions that the drug war creates violence and how the drug war has affected modern policing are definitely worth a read if you haven’t already checked them out.

We’ll also be sending updates about Mexican poet Javier Sicilia’s Caravan for Peace, a cross-country journey of drug war victims, their families and representatives of more than 100 domestic organizations that are currently traveling through the U.S. to draw attention to the violence the drug war creates in Mexico and here at home. There will be events in many cities between San Diego and Washington, D.C., and LEAP speakers will be on board the whole way, escorting the caravan in style in our own specially designed anti-prohibition LEAP-mobile, which is almost worth the trip in its own right:

It’s time we as a nation had a serious conversation about ending the drug war, and who better to get it started than people like myself and Dunagan who started out as believers? It took us years of seeing the violence, the injustice, the futility firsthand to be convinced of the failures of this war. If we can convince people to support ending prohibition without them having to personally see the carnage many of us law enforcers have witnessed first-hand, we’ll have done our job.

Stay tuned for more blog posts from me this week and other LEAPers throughout the month.

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21 Responses to “Exposing the Drug War’s Horrors in Mexico and the U.S.”

  1. #1 |  Thomas | 

    Maybe that will work but I think, just like in the abortion mess, that people who actually see the horror it causes are more likely to turn against it. I believe the war on (some) drugs needs to ended, but my wife, who really has never seen any of the war, I really havent either, believes it’s working. Personally I’d rather have the taxes. Prohabition has never and will never work.

  2. #2 |  (B)oscoH, Yogurt Eater | 

    How cool would it be if the LEAP mobile showed up at an elementary school and the kids got to see it and sit the front seat with a current or former law enforcement official and got to learn that the whole drug war thing is much more complicated than all the adults that have previously been allowed to talk with them let on!!

  3. #3 |  Jake H | 

    Jamie, thank you for all of your efforts and advocacy. We are very fortunate to have people like you who care enough to take up this cause. Keep up the good work.

  4. #4 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    Welcome Jamie, I’m glad to see you on The Agitator. I check LEAP’s website on occasion and I have contributed financially in the past. I greatly appreciate the work that LEAP does.

    Seeing the LEAP mobile photo made me think of a question. Does LEAP have a presence at law enforcement conventions and other activities frequented by LEO’s? Do you guys set up booths and hand out literature to active police? If so, I’m curious about the reception you get. Thanks.

  5. #5 |  Personanongrata | 

    Nice ride, better epiphany.

  6. #6 |  Aresen | 

    The folly of drug prohibition has been understood for over 40 years.

    The WoD was a stupid idea when Nixon first pushed it and it has only gotten worse since then.

    It is promoted by zealots who imagine they can “save people from themselves”, but it is assiduously supported by numerous groups – Law Enforcement Agencies, contractors, prison guard and police unions – that have a beneficial interest in seeing it continue.

  7. #7 |  Jim Collins | 

    There’s too much money to be made, to put an end to the “drug war”. Too much money to be made in selling it and too much to be made in fighting it.

    I’m willing to bet that some of the biggest contributors to politicians who want to keep the “war” going are some of the largest drug sellers. What would happen to the price if the “drug war” stopped overnight? Without the premium that being illegal puts on the price of drugs, the stuff isn’t worth what it takes to produce or transport it.

  8. #8 |  Wondering | 

    Great work at LEAP, but a question. So now that you guys are enlightened, have you turned in any of your comrades who beat perps or lied at trial? When some poor mutt gets killed, do you say something about it? When a wrong door search happens and the puppy gets slaughtered, do you speak out?

    Or are you only on the side of truth and justice when it comes to the drug war, but not when it comes to cops beating people to death? Still love LEAP, but it’s kinda bugging me.

  9. #9 |  el coronado | 

    “those that have a vested interest in seeing [the drug war] continue…”

    And of course, cops & bureaucrats & prisons do well because of it. But nobody ever seems to mention another possible culprit: the banks. Back in the late ’70’s & early ’80’s, you could read a lot about how South American & Central American debt was going to destroy the big US banks. Seems David Rockefeller had pushed all these ‘development’ loans, and bankers being the scummy lemmings they are, they all went hog wild. Great interest rates! Made the books just *sparkle*!!

    As anyone who’d ever done business in Latin America could have told them, that was a mistake. Seems they just couldn’t pay back the loans, after awhile. Oh well. Lo Siento, eh? But writing off the loans would mean los bancos would have to eat some shit on the books! The quarterly numbers would suck! Worst of all, bonuses would be affected! So they made some MORE loans, just so the borrowers could *cover the interest* on the BIG loans, which were never ever gonna be repaid. A guy named Paul Erdman made a career of writing about this stuff: he invented the ‘financial thriller’ genre.

    And then one day…you just stopped hearing about it. Why? Por Que?? Well, since it dropped off the screen right about the heyday of ‘Miami Vice’, let’s turn to them for the answer. Crockett & Tubbs have finally unraveled the dark threads of the Massive Sinister Plot, see, ruining several $2000 linen suits and $800 Beltrami slacks in the process. They’ve tracked it down to New York. Where a gray, humorless, clearly-well-connected old banker explains to them that ‘shutting down the flow of Mexican & South American coke and drogas would mean the nations in question would be unable to make their loan payments on time. Nothing personal, Detective. Just business.’

    So we’re stuck wondering: would a banking system that routinely inflates ruinous bubbles; sells “shit” to their very best customers; admittedly manipulates the world’s key interest-rate fixing (LIBOR); and regularly gets busted for laundering drug money….would *those guys* do _that_? Also, is it likely that a handful of mostly retired cops trying to do something about it likely to change anything? In a world where Jon Corzine not only walks around a free man, but bundles donations for the president?

  10. #10 |  Joe Lance | 

    “There is just too much money in it….” — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, January 31, 2011. http://www.mexidata.info/id2931.html

  11. #11 |  woolybully | 

    Ain’t it funny that the media never tries to rally Mexican-Americans around the fact that our government has declared war on the people of Mexico through the drug war. I find it hard to believe that nobody in politics or the media (with all of their bleeding hearts) have said shit about the horrors being perped by Obama and his predecessors on the poor folk who live just south of our border, not to mention here. Freeway Ricky Ross still in prison?

  12. #12 |  Chuck | 

    Tired of reading we need a “serious discussion”, or we need “more research”. Actually no, we need neither–been done, end of story. Leads me to believe this person is just another fool for the tool; attempting to get sympathy for his previous crimes and yet again failing to do anything. Guess all the torture, rape, and mass arrests got on his conscience so now we get to hear the same ol “serious discussion” mantra, again.

  13. #13 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 


    We do need serious discussion, if only because that is the only way to spread the word beyond us true believers. We do need more research, if only to contrast with the slapdash bushwa that dominates the War On Drugs side of the argument. The public is, gradually, coming to agree with us, but that doesn’t mean that the heavy lifting is done. As with any government program, we are going to have to prove again and again that this one is a waste before we can overcome the terrific inertia that keeps it running.

    I sympathize with your weariness. But I don’t just want to be Right, I want to be Done.

  14. #14 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 


    “The WoD was a stupid idea when Nixon first pushed it”. Nixon was a lousy President, but not for the reasons usually trotted out to condemn him. Watergate was a case of the Liberal Left punishing somebody they disliked for having the nerve to do the same things that people they liked had gotten away with, cold. If Nixon deserved to be impeached for Watergate, then JFK deserved to be impeached twice, for much the same behavior. And don’t get me started on LBJ.

    Nixon was a Big Government Republican and it is a mark of how far the far left had gone that they seriously considered him a Conservative. He pushed the War on Drugs. He started the BATF (and a bigger collection of out of control cowboys and slimy empire-builders would be hard to name). He failed to do anything about the economic mess that JFK had started, and the wave crashed all over Carter (poor, silly prat). The biggest problem I have with the current crop of Rightwing Intellectuals is that they keep coming back to try to rehabilitate Nixon and McCarthy, both of whom were jerks.

    Frankly, if McCarthy had’t existed, the Left would have had to invent him. They should burn candles in his memory, he’s been so useful for discrediting anybody who criticizes them.

  15. #15 |  Linda | 

    I actually was FOR the drug war. It all sounded good to me. I figured if you were not doing drugs, selling drugs or making drugs you had nothing to worry about. Now I am not so sure. I think I have read about one too many raids at the wrong house. I am especially troubled by the wrong house raids that result in the family dog being shot to death.

  16. #16 |  el coronado | 

    @#13 –

    Heck, Linda. While the stuff you mention are sickening atrocities & miscarriages of justice; proof of our de facto Police State and all that, I’d say you’re actually missing the big picture. Consider just what’s happened to our financial freedom in the last 40 years or so. Wanna buy a car/gold/some other nice goodie and pay cash for it? You’d better make sure it’s not more than 10 Grand. Gotta fill out a *form* if it is. Wanna make a cash withdrawal of more than $3000 from your own account at your own bank? Rest assured, a report on that transaction will be generated. Anonymous wire transfers? Anonymous prepaid credit cards? Pay for a plane ticket with cash? Affairs of the loins…er, “heart” in a nice hotel room in the name of ‘Mr & Mrs. Smith’, paid by cash? Send your money overseas? Hide it in a Swiss bank account? LOL. Not anyMORE!

    Drugs Schmugs. That’s just the camels’ nose. Your *money* is no longer your own, nor exclusively your business. Real-World Rule #2: No Money, No Freedom.

  17. #17 |  Tod | 

    Those who make the laws are just as corrupt as those who commit the crimes. It’s all about money and dumbing the population down. Real reform will have to originate from the states, one at a time. Unfortunately, good folks in government are few.

  18. #18 |  marie | 

    I figured if you were not doing drugs, selling drugs or making drugs you had nothing to worry about. Now I am not so sure.

    Even if drugs are legalized, ending the war on drugs, law enforcement still has plenty of tools to knock at your door before sunrise. It isn’t just the war on drugs that needs to be stopped. Law enforcement has too much power. Prosecutors have too much power. Legislators still like to be “tough on crime.” Those facts will make it easy to keep our prisons full.

  19. #19 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @14 – Ah, an equivalence attack. Which is absolute nonsense, there are stateist elements in both the left and right, back in reality.

    McCarthy’s witch hunt is yours. You are the one who’s hung up on it.

    @18 – Right – when judges and prosecutors are elected, they have to be SEEN to be “tough on crime”.

  20. #20 |  Alex K | 

    The war on drugs exists to enrich the people who profit from the drugs being illegal. Can you say CIA?

    For a history refresher, listen to these outstanding podcasts:




  21. #21 |  Creating the Crisis « The Honest Courtesan | 

    […] order” filter; take a look at the stories of the LEAP members Radley Balko has guest blogging on The Agitator right now and you’ll see what I mean.  These are clearly not stupid men, but they were so […]