The War on Drugs as Political Theatre

Great news!

The top drug smuggling king pin, El Chapo, has been captured thanks to the hard work and dedication of Mexican forces in cooperation with the US Drug Enforcement Agency! Thank goodness for the “War on Drugs”! Go America! Go democracy!

…right?

Well, not quite. This news comes a little over a month after it was revealed that the DEA has been working in cooperation with the Sinaloa drug cartel to smuggle billions worth of dollars into the United States in exchange for information on rival cartels.

Can you guess who led the powerfully dangerous Sinaloa cartel? That’s right, our pal El Chapo!

So let’s get this straight: The DEA has been working with the Sinaloa cartel for over a decade, helping them eliminate competition in Mexico and smuggle hard drugs into the US. Nearly 80% of all drugs flowing onto the streets of Chicago come from the Sinaloas. This information is revealed to the public via court documents, and not even a month later, El Chapo is captured, bringing praise to the very agency that has protected the Sinaloas.

That brings me to the conclusion that the War on Drugs is not about stopping the flow of illegal drugs into the US or into the hands of Americans, but instead about using drugs to systematically corrupt, incarcerate, and destroy innocent lives in the name of control and profits.

Private prisons love higher incarceration rates and actually depend on them to thrive. Local police departments love getting new toys (tanks, armored vehicles, SWAT gear, etc) to fight increased drug violence and the terror that it generates.

Since 2002, the US has had the highest incarceration rate of any country on this planet. We house 25% of the world’s prison population. Minority groups are disproportionately incarcerated despite a near equal drug usage rate (in fact, white Americans have been shown to use harder drugs a higher percentage of the time, yet the minority groups suffer the higher incarceration rate).

So next time you are in an argument over the War on Drugs, you can confidently say that it is a failed system. In fact, calling it a failed system is generous; it was deliberately contrived to fail.

It is time for a massive overhaul, if not outright elimination, of the DEA. If the accusations and reports are true, and I believe they are, then the agency is directly responsible for an untold amount of death and destruction of American and Mexican lives. Claiming to fight the influx of drugs on the one hand, while enabling those same drugs to enter the country on the other, is downright criminal.

It is time to end the political theatre called the War on Drugs.

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