War on Drugs, Part 5: 1998-2010

In 1998 the CIA Inspector General (CIA IG) issued a report admitting three key facts. First, that the Agency officially knew that as early as 1984 that Meneses was running drugs and arms through Costa Rica in partnership with senior Contras. Second, that the Agency had directly intervened in the San Francisco Frogmen case to cover up the links to Agency assets. And third, that the CIA and the Justice Department had an agreement to not pursue Blandon and Meneses for cocaine trafficking into the U.S. while they were funding the Contras. While the U.S. media was working itself up into a lather over the lurid minutiae of the 42nd POTUS alleged affair, the CIA quietly released an edited version of the IG’s report outlining their part in the criminal conspiracy that had destroyed hundreds of thousands of families and their communities. Although the press largely ignored the ramifications of the report, they did manage to report the DCIA’s mealy-mouthed mea culpa in response to it. He said “The allegations made have left an indelible impression in many American minds that the CIA was somehow responsible for the scourge of drugs in our inner cities”i.

In light of the American public’s “impression” of Agency responsibility, it is worth restating the original course of events. In 1981 the 40th POTUS issued Executive Order 12333 in the same week that the CIA was authorised to begin operations in Nicaragua and was already operating in Afghanistan with the Mujaheddin. The order outlined the rules of engagement for U.S. Intelligence personnel overseas. A few months later, the DCIA and the Attorney General built upon this by agreeing a Memorandum of Understanding of what needed to be reported to the Justice Department and what didn’t need to be reported. In short, Agency assets could break the law and Agency employees could break drugs laws specifically. This was at the same time as the CIA and it’s assets were just getting back into the drugs business in a big way. Gary Webb argued that in their defence, the Agency were unlikely to have known that helping the Contras to traffic cocaine into the States was going to result in the crack epidemic amongst America’s poor that it did eventually result in. He optimistically believed that the CIA was only guilty of “unbridled criminal stupidity”ii.

In the ten years since the Contras hearings the world had moved on. By 1998 the International Monetary Fund estimated that the amount of illegal money in the global economy was somewhere between $800 billion and $2 trillion, or between 2 to 5% of the total global GDPiii. The United Nations established the Convention against Transnational organised crime, and the Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The UN estimated that transnational organised crime was employing around 3.3 million people in the trafficking of drugs, arms, artefacts, endangered species and peopleiv. In the U.S. in May 1998 Operation Casablanca indicted numerous senior officials across Mexico’s banking sector, including Banco Nacional de Mexico (Banamex) and Banco Santander of Spain, as well as several senior members of the Cali and Juarez cartels. During the arrests of the 112 people, 2 tons of cocaine, 4 tons of marijuana and $35 million was seizedv. The U.S. Treasury Secretary called it the largest drug money-laundering case in the history of United States law enforcement. A few years later Citicorp bought Banamexvi, and the prosecutions collapsedvii. Fourteen years after that Citigroup finally shut down Banamex, paying $140 million in penalties amidst ongoing allegations of money-launderingviii.

By 1998, the wider social impact of the narcotics trade on Colombia was clear to see. 48% of the land was owned by 1.3% of the population, who were mostly super-wealthy absentee landlords, 5% was owned by 68% of the population, overwhelmingly subsistence farmers, and somewhere in the region of 42% of all farm land was owned by drug cartels. Power in Colombia was very much concentrated into the hands of a wealthy elite, with the narcotics trade fully integrated into the day-to-day politics, economics, military and law enforcement. At the same time as FARC were organising schools, hospitals, and legal systems, the U.S. company and alleged CIA front Dyn-Corp, was running mercenaries and ‘assets’ on covert ops in Colombia. Dyn-Corp had been contracting for the USG since the 40th POTUS, when it was alleged to have been trafficking arms and drugs in the early 1980s. By 1998 Dyn-Corp had contracts running with the U.S. State department, Commerce department, CIA and NASA. By 1998 Dyn-Corp were fighting alongside the Colombian military and the private paramilitaries of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC). Like their predecessors at MAS, the AUC were protecting the growing and distribution of the establishment-friendly narcotics networks. In 1999 Dyn-Corp was investigated for trafficking amphetamines, and in 2000 liquid heroinix.

From as early as 1958 Colombia had been, to all intents and purposes, engaged in a class-based civil war, between a ruling elite supported by the USG seeking to exploit the population and natural resources, and a highly politicised and organised section of the impoverished population seeking to control and define their own future. In the 1990s FARC was in the ascendancy in the poorest and underdeveloped 60% of the countryx. Over the course of the 1990s the land used for coca production across the country tripled, while that for opium multiplied by a factor of 5xi. Colombia was fast becoming the central axle around which the entire Crystal Triangle spun. It was close to the growing countries of Peru and Bolivia, the money-laundering facilities in Panama and the Caribbean, the trafficking hubs in Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, and it shared a history, language and culture, all-be-it one of colonial subjugation, with two key distribution and consumption gateways, the southern U.S. states and Spain. As the millennium drew to a close the cocaine trade had infiltrated every facet of the Colombian state and in turn, everything that the Colombian state came in contact with. So when the Colombian people fought against corruption of their country, Washington responded predictably by labelling them ‘narco-terrorists’xii.

While the USG levelled it’s sights on FARC, the Colombian state just couldn’t seem shake it’s drug habit. Between 1998 and 2000 Colombian air-force officers, the Director of Intelligence and the Head of Counter Intelligence all got caught trafficking drugs, arms and embezzling public fundsxiii. At the same time, Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented in two separate reports from 1991 and 2000 how the U.S. military and CIA had been working with the Colombian Army in the setting up of private paramilitaries, and how senior Colombian officers were directly involved in the planning and carrying out of their massacres. HRW’s conclusion was that the overarching plan was to drive FARC out of of the resource rich north and centre of the country and into the south-east which was already largely outside of State control. Coincidentally, these operations also had the effect of closing down certain trafficking networks and emboldening other networks. By 2000 there had been no discernible decrease in overall cocaine trafficking, but there had been a significant consolidation of trafficking into their hands of groups with close ties to law enforcement and the militaryxiv. From the 2000 HRW report it becomes quite apparent how close these ties had become, with half of all Colombian army commanders being investigated for their links to the trafficking paramilitaries. Further more, it has been argued that as proxies of the State intelligence mechanism, the private paramilitaries were in fact working closely with U.S., British and Israeli intelligence advisers as wellxv.

In 1999 the governments of Colombia and the U.S., under the 42nd POTUS, announced ‘Plan Colombia’. The intention was to reduce drug production by 50% within 6 years and to reclaim control of the areas being held by illegal armed groups (FARC)xvi. In 2000 the POTUS signed up officially and earmarked $1.3 billion in the budget to supply helicopters, planes, chemical and biological weapons, electronic surveillance equipment, training and military advisers. The Colombian ‘government’ promised $4 billion and the European Union (EU) a further £2.2 billion. And what did America expect for it’s money? The maintenance and securing of “capitalist socio-economic relations and unhindered access to Latin American markets by American transnational corporations”. And if ever an example were needed, by 2000 the banks being implicated in the laundering of Crystal Triangle drugs profits where names like J.P. Morgan, Chase Manhattan, Citibank, Citicorp and Bank of America. And it wasn’t just the banks. U.S. investigations into money-laundering found links to Philip Morris and Bell Helicopter, with figures being bandied around in the billions of dollarsxvii. And as always, there was the invertible consolidation of the narcotics trade into the hands of the ‘friendlies’ who would act as establishment-proxies when requiredxviii.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban had effectively taken control of large parts of the country, Osama bin Laden had relocated there from Sudan and Jihadist training camps were beginning to appear in increasing numbers. It was at this point that the CIA choose to reignite it’s relationship with the opium trafficking Warlord Ahmed Shah Massoud and his allies in the Northern Alliancexix. This was the same Ahmed Shah Massoud that had been the happy recipient of British MI6 and SAS support some twenty years earlierxx. Over those two decades opium production in Afghanistan had grown steadily, from 200 tons in 1980, to 1,600 tons in 1990, to 3,100 tons in 2000xxi. Then as the 42nd POTUS made way for his successor, the CIA established a permanent base in the area under Massoud’s control against the wishes of certain National Security Advisers who warned that once again the Agency was at risk of getting caught up in the heroin tradexxii. In 2000 the Taliban issued a ban on the growing of opium. However in light of their historical alliances with opium trafficking, it is hard to see this as a moral stance, but more likely a strategic onexxiii. When the ban came into force, opium production in the Taliban controlled areas declined drastically, going back to the 1980 level of 200 tons. In response the Northern Alliance region increased production to pick up some of the slack. Sensing the imminent U.S. attack, the Taliban withdrew the ban in September 2001 to help fund the war effort, and by 2002 opium production across the country was back up to 3,400 tonsxxiv.

The rationale for why Afghanistan was chosen over Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Hamburg, Florida or Minnesota from which the 9/11 attacks had been planned, funded and prepared for has been analysed at length elsewherexxv. It is sufficient for the purposes of this study to say that the invasion which followed the 11th September was unfortunately also mired in the global opium trade. As in other U.S. theatres of war previously, with the increase in chaos and traffic there was a concomitant influx of OC and increase in opium production. This time, not only did the CIA partner with opium traffickers already resident in the region, but they went as far as to convince a stalwart of the Mujaheddin opium trade out of retirement in France and back into the saddlexxvi.

Even though bin Laden organised Massoud’s assassination in the days leading up to the 11th September, the CIA had already collected enough data through the Northern Alliance for an extensive list of bombing targets across the country. On that list were 25 major narcotics facilities, which the Pentagon and the 43rd POTUS’s White House refused to target with air strikes. In addition to remaining silent about the opium trafficking in the region controlled by the Northern Alliance, the USG seemed unwilling to do anything about any of the Afghan opium trade at allxxvii. The U.S. media, dutifully avoided looking into the role of opium in Afghanistan. And, even in the aftermath of 11th September, the long term impacts of partnering with brutal criminals was going to have to take second place to the strategic objectives of the USGxxviii. One of the reasons the Taliban had been welcomed in certain areas of the country in the 1990s was due to the brutal atrocities committed by the opium warlords before them. In 2001, the memory of those mass-executions, systematic rapes and burning down of villages were still fresh in the minds of many. And, when the Taliban control faltered across those same regions, the behaviour began repeating itself. The revenge attacks by the opium warlords against the ethnic Pashtuns started almost immediately, with wide spread allegations of looting, mass-rapes and executionsxxix.

In 2001 the Colombian government estimated that 40% of the country’s cocaine exports were being controlled by right-wing paramilitary warlords and their trafficking partners, while FARC controlled in the region of 2.5%. The U.S. media chose not to dwell on these estimates as ‘Plan Colombia’ firmly set it’s sights on the ‘narco-terrorists’ of FARCxxx. The major trafficking cartels had spent years infiltrating themselves into the wider Colombian power structure, with business interests across the illegitimate and legitimate economy, and in major land holdings. By 2001 Colombia was cultivating three times as much coca as Bolivia and Peru combined. It had gone from producing 230 tons or 25% of global production in 1995, to 730 tons or 76% in 2001. And the DEA was well aware of this, monitoring the expansion of coca growing from 50,000 hectares in 1995 to just short of 170,000 hectares in 2001. And then, in February 2001 the Head of the DEA stated, “there is no evidence that any FARC or ELN units have established international transportation, wholesale distribution, or drug-money laundering networks in the United States or Europe”xxxi. But this didn’t make any difference to ‘Plan Colombia’, under both the 42nd and the 43rd POTUS the programme was overwhelmingly militarised and aimed at FARC and the ELNxxxii. Between 1996 and 2001, U.S. military aid to Colombia grew from $67 million to $1 billion. In 2001, the Colombian government estimated annual production to be in the region of 800 to 900 tons, with 40% under the control of the AUC, 2.5% under FARC control and the rest under non-specific members of the narco-bourgeoisiexxxiii.

In the first few months of 2002 the Colombian government accused FARC of running a massive narcotics trafficking and kidnapping network out of San Vicente del Caguan in Southern Colombia. In reality FARC, working with tens of thousands of workers and peasants in the region, were running the police force, utilities, schools, health service, road infrastructure and mass-vaccination programs. Under pressure from the USG, the Colombian government ordered a military invasion and bombing campaign of the region. The operation forced FARC into a guerilla insurgency, fighting out of the jungles and cities. In August of 2002 Pablo Escobar’s old friend Alvaro Uribe Velez became President of Colombia. He promptly enacted a legislative programme of privatisations and wholesale destruction of workers rights. Pensions, healthcare and social security were all privatised as safeguards against foreign resource exploitation were torn up. Transnational Corporations descended on the country like vultures, hoovering up the countries resources, industries and budgetsxxxiv.

The narco-bourgeoisie had concentrated themselves in to the state defended cities of Bogota, Medellin, Cali and Barranquilla. At the same time, the rural areas where the peasants were concentrated, had been subjected to the mass-aerial defoliation programme. According to the State Departments own estimates, rather than decrease the area of coca cultivation, the result of the mass-spraying of highly toxic chemicals had in fact significantly increased the cultivation of coca from 122,000 hectares in 1999 to 170,000 in 2001. By 2002 cocaine exports were estimated to be generating in the region of $3.5 billion. That same cocaine was generating sales for OC on the U.S. streets of $11 billion. Which raises the question, whether the mass-spraying was a defoliation program aimed at coca or a chemical warfare operation aimed at the people trying to stop a very profitable business. Aerial spraying entire regions during a civil war with highly toxic chemicals is indiscriminate, it will poison peasants, wildlife, livestock and crops alike. While the Colombian government was campaigning against the ‘narco-terrorists’, the army was resurrecting a U.S. strategy from Vietnam which entailed wiping out local civilian populations in villages that supported FARC. The argument was, that in order to drive a wedge between the paramilitaries and their supporter base they would have to ‘drain the sea to kill the fish’.xxxv

The accumulation and concentration of power and wealth through the narcotics trade in the Crystal Triangle has occurred on an epic scale. In 1999, Colombia’s National Association of Financial Institutions (ANIF) estimated that less than 10% of the global sales of Colombian narcotics were being brought back into the Colombian economy. ANIF estimated at that time, that the global sales of Colombian cocaine, heroin and marijuana was roughly $46 billion, and that in the region of $3.5 billion was being being repatriated into Colombia, much of which was being laundered through the real estate market. By the turn of the century, it has been estimated that $2.4 billion of cocaine profits was used to purchase 4.4 million hectares of land. By 2003, the narco-bourgeoisie were estimated to control somewhere in the region of 18 million hectares of Colombia. In addition to cultivating cocaine, opium and marijuana, this land was also being used for narcotics processing and logistics; as well as tourism, industry, private residencies, livestock and legitimate crops. The narco-economy, was already arguably close to becoming the foundation on which the entire Colombian economy rested. By 2003, it has been estimated that just the U.S. market for cocaine had reached $52.8 billion. And again, allegations of corruption abounded. That same year an ex-General of the Colombian Army reported that agents from the DEA and the Colombian Police were involved in murdering two informants. The case, involving two tons of cocaine eventually saw seven police arrested and a further eighteen fired from their jobs. The DEA denied any involvementxxxvi.

The contradictions between the ‘accepted’ narrative and the reality weren’t going unnoticed in Afghanistan. In 2002 the Boston Globe argued that “every major warlord and every provincial government in Afghanistan is involved in the drug business”, while the Guardian added, “By using heroin-financed gangsters of the Northern Alliance … the U.S. has handed over most of the country to the same war criminals that devastated Afghanistan in the early 1990s”xxxvii. But it took the truly unflinching critics to go beyond the shocked indignation of the mass media to point out the ongoing pattern of behaviour and its entirely predictable impact. Peter Dale Scott has spent decades unpicking and unravelling this terrifying policy. He has demonstrated time and again the direct comparisons between Afghanistan in the 2000s and Laos in the early 1960sxxxviii. For those who had been watching closely, there were no surprises in Afghanistan or Colombia.

With the Taliban supposedly routed, and the new U.S. backed Afghan government in place, the historical pattern continued repeating itself as senior CIA staff began losing interest in the Afghan opium trade. So, while low level analysts where calling for the targeting of drug labs, senior management where shifting resources from counter-narcotics to counter-terrorism. Senior Pentagon staff supported the Agency’s refocussing, fearing that they would have to go to war with their own opium-trafficking allies, which in turn would just spark another insurgency on a yet another front. So, true to form, as soon as the U.S. client government took control, opium production and trafficking exploded. According to the DEA, by 2002 Afghanistan was producing 1,278 tons of opium, this doubled in 2003 and then nearly doubled again in 2004, making U.S. controlled Afghanistan the producer of 87% of the entire planet’s opium supply. By the end of 2004, according to the CIA, Afghanistan was cultivating opium poppies across 206,000 hectares, with the potential to produce $7 billion worth of heroin. This made Afghanistan at that moment, the largest single producer country of any narcotic on the planetxxxix.

As 2003 drew to a close the relationships between the CIA and the trafficking of narcotics in Latin America was becoming increasingly difficult to unpick. With the increased reliance on Private Military Contractors (PMCs) three levels of secrecy were effectively cloaking the behaviour of the USG in the Crystal Triangle. Corporate confidentiality, national security and a bi-lateral agreement between the U.S. and Colombian governments subjecting both past and present USG employees, contractors and military to U.S. as opposed to Colombian law, created the perfect camouflage for covert actions. At the time, it was estimated that 90-95% of all human rights violations in Colombia where being committed by the narco-military network. This cloaking system makes it difficult to establish which transnationals were managing which operations, which in turn allowed the companies to effectively exploit and violate the country and it’s people with total immunity from prosecution. And the PMCs taking advantage of this free-for-all were the usual suspects. L3 Communications, KBR, Halliburton, Dyn-Corp and SAIC all had their snouts in the troughxl.

By 2004 Afghanistan was supplying 75% of Europe’s, and nearly all of it’s neighbouring countries heroin demands, while 90-95% of America’s heroin demand was being met out of Colombia, Mexico and south-east Asia. The situation in Afghanistan had become so endemic by 2004 that the narcotics trade was estimated to represent around 60% of the GDP, and employ 10% of the total Afghan population. The explosion of production had driven prices down. According to British law enforcement, between 1997 and 2004 the price of a gram of heroin on the street had dropped from £74 to £61. And like so many times before, even with extensive knowledge of forty major heroin syndicates on the Afghan-Pakistan border, the DEA didn’t make one major arrest or seizurexli.

As the CIA sent each new classified set of numbers on opium cultivation in Afghanistan over to the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) at the State Department, the Assistant Secretary of State running it couldn’t believe his eyes. With no sense of irony, each new report showed a significant increase in the amount of opium being planted. And as Afghanistan descended into being just another U.S. client narco-state, President Hamid Karzai was re-elected to office. Having returned to Afghanistan in 2001 under the protection of the CIA and U.S. Special Forcesxlii, Oil executive Hamid Karzai’s own brother would further complicate the situation. CIA asset Ahmed Wali Karzai, was later accused of using his own narcotics trafficking network to fix elections in Afghanistanxliii. For the international trade in narcotics, in Afghanistan at least, it was business as usual, even with the world’s media watching.

In 2004 President Uribe of Colombia successfully lobbied the 43rd POTUS to lift the cap on U.S. military and PMC personnelxliv. The Colombian paramilitaries were extending their operations beyond FARC. In May 2004 86 Colombian paramilitaries were captured by Venezuelan security forces in a house outside Caracas Venezuela owned by the anti-Castro anti-Chavez Cuban, Roberto Alonso. The Colombian paramilitaries were wearing Venezuelan army uniforms. Progressive leaders across the America’s were highly aware of the CIA’s behaviour. When Evo Morales banned the DEA from Bolivia he directly referenced ex-DEA agent Michael Levine’s book. Meanwhile in the States, the street price of cocaine had steadily declined since the 1980s. The DEA’s own figures were that a gram of cocaine costing $600 in the 1980s, was only $200 by the mid 1990s, and by 2005 was only $20-25 in New York and between $30-100 in LAxlv. One of the main impacts in the U.S. of the development of the cocaine trade in the Crystal Triangle was to turn it from being a luxury item affordable to only a select a few, to a mass-market product that almost anyone could destroy their lives with.

In 2005 the CIA informed the INL that it was highly likely that a percentage of the profits from the Afghan narcotics trade was funding the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami, the remnants of the Taliban and quite possibly even al Qaeda. By the middle of the year, U.S. and Afghan forces were raiding some sites, but it was half-hearted at best and in reality had little if any impact on the overall industry. It appeared that neither the DEA nor the Pentagon seemed eager to publicly acknowledge or take any real steps to diminish the production, processing or the trafficking, even if it meant allowing the insurgency to continue. Then, in the middle of the year, one of the Taliban regime’s top opium traffickers in the 1990s, Haji Bashir Noorzai was arrested and indicted in New York. By the summer of 2005 the press had started asking difficult questions, like how in 2001, after being detained and interrogated, the Pentagon had thought it appropriate to release Noorzai, who was a close ally of Mullah Omar, with known links to both al Qaeda and the Pakistani ISI, and one of the most effective opium trafficking business in Afghanistanxlvi.

In 2006 the World Bank issued a report stating that 25-30 of the key narcotics traffickers in Afghanistan, mostly based in the south of the country, were working with key politicians and members of the government. It went on to warn that the entire Afghan economy, state, society and politics was being affected by the tradexlvii. Even the country’s own Minister for Narcotics was having to admit that while receiving reports of cabinet ministers being implicated in drug trafficking and money-laundering, the justice system was just too corrupt to effectively pursue themxlviii.

By engaging the opium traffickers as allies in their invasion of Afghanistan, the CIA had effectively pump-primed the Afghan opium trade from the very beginningxlix. And amidst the chaos that played out on the TV screens each night, the trafficking continued quietly growing as the years passed. In 2007, UNODC estimated that opium production in Afghanistan had reached 8,200 tons, was being cultivated over 193,000 hectares and generated one third of Afghanistan’s total, illegal and legal, GDPl. Afghan opium was believed to represent somewhere in the region of 93% of the global opiates market. By 2007 it was being reported that four of the key people in the Afghan heroin trade were senior members of the Afghan government. In 2009, it was reported that a close ally of Hamid Karzai was a key drug trafficker that had entrenched his position with the support of officials in Kandahar and Kabul and commanders in NATO. The key problem confusing the official narrative was that Taliban opium revenues only represented 5% of the total drug income in 2008, and 6% in 2009. The total insurgency income from drugs was under 12% in 2008. So, at the time the UNODC was estimating the total Afghan opium crop was valued at $65 billion on the world’s market, 88% of that income was not funding the insurgency or the Talibanli.

A few years earlier in 2004, the UK press reported that drug trafficking had reached the level where it was the third largest cash commodity in the global economy after oil and arms. By 2005 a USG report estimated that between $500 billion and $1 trillion of illicit funds where being laundered through the legitimate banking industry, with somewhere in the region of 50% of those funds passing through U.S. banks specifically. Then, after the global financial meltdown, the UNODC went as far as to make the case that it was the billions of dollars of drug cash that had helped keep the financial system afloat. Similarly, a UK newspaper made the case that for some banks, the only liquid capital they had access to during the crisis was the proceeds of organised crime. Some people have since made the case that one of the things we have learned from the 2008 economic crisis was just how reliant the entire global economy is now on the illegal trafficking of drugs, and consequently organised crimelii.

From 1773 to 1946, a large part of the building and maintaining of empires had been done by addicting and exploiting large sections of humanity. It was a terrible time in human history, but my grandparents generation were assured that it was all behind us. A golden age of social democracies, global peace and united nations was dawning. It was a lie. Amidst the fanfare of victory in Europe and the Pacific, few noticed that the USG was secretly making plans to build and maintain an empire. From 1947 to 2010, from one administration to the next, from one presidency to the next, sections of the Intelligence community have worked with pushers, pimps, war criminals, fascists, rapists, murderers, mass-murderers and Nazis in their pursuit of an American hegemony. And from one decade to the next, the so-called systems of checks and balances has failed to weed out those responsible. Government signs-off on the strategy, the financial sector spirits away the profits and law enforcement looks the other way while the bodies are being buried.

That being said, there have been countless truly honourable men and women devoted to serving the people within those same institutions. And it was those people who often risked their own lives to make the rest of us aware of what was going on. Over the course of these five essays I have brought together the work of countless researchers, journalists, authors, whistle-blowers and government bodies. It has been their relentless pursuit of the truth and their bravery in the face of what is arguably one of the longest running and most brutal conspiracies in history that stands as a beacon of hope for all of us.

Some argued that the CIA’s role in the drugs trade was most likely nothing more than unbridled criminal stupidity. I can’t believe that. These institutions have some of the most expensively educated people on the planet staffing and advising them. Others have suggested that it was just a few bad apples. But that is clearly not true either. For the best part of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st Century this relationship has persistently infected the politics, economics and culture of the entire planet. Perhaps most worryingly, it has been argued that it is nothing more than a predictable and acceptable by-product of empire building. That may well be the case. I simply can’t fathom how anyone would think that it is an acceptable price to secure power and stockpile wealth. And of course, if it is the case then they have failed. The direction of travel our global village is travelling down is less like a Pax Americana, and more like a planet wide plutocracyliii. The political identities of many of the richest nation states have now become little more than puppet regimes to the 0.01%.

As for the class war built on drugs and my part in it. In communities around the world, at every stage of the process, from production to consumption, from financing to law enforcement, people are being brutalised, abused, and killed as I write this. So I do need to know what part I played in this. I live in a country where protesters can take part in a march while they smoke the hash that funds the war they are protesting against. Newsreaders happily regurgitate the same old lies that we all know are lies, and they know we know. But still they continue, like obedient propagandists. An entire sub-section of the Celebrity industry dances between titillation and indignation as they put every last nano-second of a young person’s drug-induced meltdown under a microscope. Well nearly all, they quickly forget how they led the baiting as their jester started to falter. And like dutiful consumers in lock-step behind their disposable idols, the next generation are once again sold the same lie that using mind altering narcotics is synonymous with free-thinking individualism. In hindsight, I think that the feeling of rebelling against the state with each puff is nothing more than a useful pantomime for others. To paraphrase Emma Goldman badly; if it truly freed our minds, they would have stopped it by now. The reality is the state helped grow it, process it, traffic it around the world and put it in front of me. From there, it was all me. I didn’t become a rebel with each puff. Instead I became complicit in one of the most brutal and persistent crimes against humanity ever perpetrated.

Nicolas Lalaguna is a novelist and essayist. His first novel, A Most Uncivil War has been called “the definitive fictional expression of the Spanish civil war”, while his second, Seven May Days has been called “an extraordinary political thriller”.

Further reading:

Churchill, W. & Vander Wall, J. – Agents of Repression, 1988

Cottle, D. & Villar, O. – Cocaine Death Squads and the War on Terror, 2011

Curtis, M. – Web of Deceit, 2003

Dale Scott, P. – American War Machine, 2010

Dale Scott, P. – Drugs, Oil and War. 2003

Dale Scott, P. & Marshall, J. – Cocaine Politics, 1998

Evans, R. – Undercover, 2013

Levine, M. – The Big White Lie, 2012

Macdonald, D. – Drugs in Afghanistan, 2007

Marks, J. – The Search for the ‘Manchurian Candidate’, 1991

McCoy, A. – The Politics of Heroin, 1991

Shlain, B. & Lee, M. – Acid Dreams, 1985

Valentine, D. – The Strength of the Wolf, 2004

Webb, G. – Dark Alliance, 2015

Wikileaks Contributors – The Wikileaks Files, 2015

Wilson, E. – Government of the Shadows, 2009

Zepezauer, M. – The CIA’s Greatest Hits, 1994

i Webb, G., Dark Alliance, 2015 p176, 445, 448, 452, 481, 482, 483

iiWebb, G., Dark Alliance, 2015 p445, 448, 452, 482, 483

iii Cribb, R. in Wilson, E., Government of the Shadows, 2009 p5

ivMcCoy, A. in Wilson, E., Government of the Shadows, 2009 p229

viiDale Scott, P. in Wilson, E., Government of the Shadows, 2009 p188

ixCottle, D. & Villar, O., Cocaine Death Squads and the War on Terror., 2011 p26, 27, 30, 167, 69

xCottle, D. & Villar, O., Cocaine Death Squads and the War on Terror., 2011 p18

xiDale Scott, P., American War Machine, 2010 p252

xiiCottle, D. & Villar, O., Cocaine Death Squads and the War on Terror., 2011 p19, 82

xiiiCottle, D. & Villar, O., Cocaine Death Squads and the War on Terror., 2011 p60

xivDale Scott, P., Drugs, Oil and War. 2003 p78, 89

xvCottle, D. & Villar, O., Cocaine Death Squads and the War on Terror., 2011 p59

xviiCottle, D. & Villar, O., Cocaine Death Squads and the War on Terror., 2011 p83, 84, 107, 130

xviiiDale Scott, P., Drugs, Oil and War. 2003 p89

xixRensselaer III, W.L in Wilson, E., Government of the Shadows, 2009 p197

xxSee essay 4 in this series

xxiRensselaer III, W.L in Wilson, E., Government of the Shadows, 2009 p197

xxiiDale Scott, P., American War Machine, 2010 p227

xxiiiDale Scott, P., Drugs, Oil and War. 2003 p0-xii, 41

xxivRensselaer III, W.L in Wilson, E., Government of the Shadows, 2009 p198, 199

xxvWikileaks Contributors, The Wikileaks Files, 2015 p369 and Curtis, M., Web of Deceit, 2003 p50

xxviDale Scott, P., American War Machine, 2010 p227

xxviiRisen, J., State of War, 2007 p18, 153

xxviiiDale Scott, P., Drugs, Oil and War. 2003 p32, 33

xxixCurtis, M., Web of Deceit, 2003 p48, 54

xxxDale Scott, P., Drugs, Oil and War. 2003 p39, 75

xxxiCottle, D. & Villar, O., Cocaine Death Squads and the War on Terror., 2011 p86, 87, 98

xxxiiDale Scott, P., Drugs, Oil and War. 2003 p73

xxxiiiCottle, D. & Villar, O., Cocaine Death Squads and the War on Terror., 2011 p108, 120

xxxivCottle, D. & Villar, O., Cocaine Death Squads and the War on Terror., 2011 p101, 102, 104, 106, 108, 109, 122

xxxvCottle, D. & Villar, O., Cocaine Death Squads and the War on Terror., 2011 p110, 111, 123, 134

xxxviCottle, D. & Villar, O., Cocaine Death Squads and the War on Terror., 2011 p87, 90, 111, 153

xxxviiRensselaer III, W.L in Wilson, E., Government of the Shadows, 2009 p200

xxxviiiDale Scott, P., American War Machine, 2010 p218, 219

xxxixRisen, J., State of War, 2007 p154, 155

xlCottle, D. & Villar, O., Cocaine Death Squads and the War on Terror., 2011 p162, 164, 165

xliMacdonald, D., Drugs in Afghanistan, 2007 p87, 94, 96

xliiRisen, J., State of War, 2007 p152

xliiiDale Scott, P., American War Machine, 2010 p219

xlivCottle, D. & Villar, O., Cocaine Death Squads and the War on Terror., 2011 p116

xlvCottle, D. & Villar, O., Cocaine Death Squads and the War on Terror., 2011 p144, 148, 150, 151

xlviRisen, J., State of War, 2007 p158, 162, 163, 165

xlviiDale Scott, P., American War Machine, 2010 p233

xlviiiMacdonald, D., Drugs in Afghanistan, 2007 p95

xlixDale Scott, P., American War Machine, 2010 p13

lRensselaer III, W.L. in Wilson, E., Government of the Shadows, 2009 p196, 200

liDale Scott, P., American War Machine, 2010 p13, 233, 234

liiDale Scott, P., American War Machine, 2010 p228, 229


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