February 15, 2015
Drug dealers. The first thought that probably comes to mind is a young male wearing a bandana, and saggy jeans who probably has a gun on his waist, or a big fat, bearded white guy with a leather vest. The lowest of the low, the criminals and vermin of society? Does society need to rid ourselves from these dangerous men who organize entire criminal enterprises the same way a Fortune 500 company designs its corporate structure?
Short answer. NO.
Drugs, and drug dealers have been around for thousands of years. If you go back into ancient times, a person who harvested and sold marijuana, or even opium, would be called a merchant, just as the jeweler adjacent to his shop at the marketplace.
The United States government, at one point or another, had allowed for possession and use of nearly all naturally occurring drugs (non synthetic). That all changed in June of 1971 when President Nixon declared a "war on drugs."
Like most wars that are not meant to be won, the drug war has been a disastrous failure since its inception and escalation through the 80's and 90's, only serving to swell our prison populations to the highest in the world. In 1980, the number of people in jail for nonviolent drug offenses rose from 50,000, to 400,000 in 1997.
By the end of George W. Bush's term as President, the U.S. saw more than 40,000 paramilitary style no-knock raids on mostly nonviolent offenders or over misdemeanors. The drug war, like any war, was seemingly used to pass Draconian laws to clamp down on the people, and has earned America the number 1 spot for highest incarceration rate in the world, with a prison population of over 2 million people.
History shows that when drug policy first occurred in America, it was targeting a group of people. For example, the first laws against opium use were clearly targeting Chinese immigrants. Just as the first anti-cocaine laws in the south were directed at black men. So, is there really a war ON drugs, or is there a war FOR the CONTROL of drugs?
The CIA has been involved in many clandestine operations involving the black market trade of illicit drugs with foreign countries and drug cartels. Like most black operations, they only come to light when either a mistake is made publicly on a grand scale, or after about 25 years of the projects ending.
In the fall of 2007, a Gulfstream Jet II, tail number, N987SA, crashed in Mexico. In the wreckage, Mexican authorities found 4 tons of cocaine, and one kilo of heroin. The plane carrying the payload has also been used in what is now known as a several decade long black op "Mayan Jaguar," and was used in CIA renditions of terrorists to the infamous Guantanamo Bay. For an in depth look at this story, go here.
This was not the first time the Government, officials within it, and in particular the intelligence community has been involved in massive movements of illegal drugs. One of the most famous cases that involved CIA drug trafficking, was the Iran Contra Affair. It goes like this. The CIA sold arms at marked up prices to the Iranian government, which is against US policy, so Iran could use its influence to have American hostages released in Lebanon. All the while, these funds would be used to fund the Contras to train and further arm the paramilitary forces to fight the Nicaraguan government. Within all of this was an even darker program, which took cocaine out of Nicaragua and straight into the borders of the United States.
The story broke by the investigate journalism of a man named Gary Webb. Webb's unprecedented work was largely "discredited" by the mainstream media, but not after key figures involved in the actual operations came forward and gave their testimonies. Recently, a Hollywood movie was released called "Kill the Messenger," which tells the story of CIA drug smuggling from Latin America to cities like Los Angeles, to fund the Contras. If the name "Freeway" Rick Ross rings a bell, he was one of the biggest distribution heads who picked up cocaine directly from CIA operatives.
With these two scandals alone, we can see the government is largely involved in the drug trade in one way or another. Its main competition though, is what they're really after. Welcome to the world of a drug dealer.
There are different levels of drug dealers just as any trade. You have main distribution and production centers that sells large quantities to smaller distribution centers, which funnel the drugs to the street gangs or drug bosses, which in turn sell to smaller dealers or "runners," who are used for the point of sale to the users.
The drug trade in America is an extraordinarily huge market. The world Market, as estimated by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, estimated the Global illegal Drug Trade to 4.4 Trillion dollars annually. This puts illegal drugs next to arms and oil as the largest trade in the world. You may call it GOD (Guns, Oil, and Drugs). But I digress.
In December 2009 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa claimed illegal drug money saved the banking industry from collapse. He claimed he had seen evidence that the proceeds of organized crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse during 2008. He said that a majority of the $352 billion of drug profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result:
"In many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital. In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor...Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade and other illegal activities...there were signs that some banks were rescued that way".
Crime and drugs go hand in hand, but the economics can not be ignored. Since making a consumer demand illegal creates a higher demand, and in turn creates a black market, crime will also be created. Street dealers often use their relatively large profits from the sale of drugs to purchase food, cars, clothes, and in some cases, launder money in to legitimate businesses which create more business for the evolving economy.
Set aside the violence, almost all continual and ongoing drug gangs and criminal enterprises are run just like Corporate businesses. They have CEO's, vice presidents, and the like all the way down the ladder to laborers, or runners.
If a U.N. official could make a statement as astounding as drug markets saved the banks during the 2008 banking crisis, imagine the amount of money and jobs that could be created with complete drug legalization?
The current system in place creates a vacuum for drug addicts and low level dealers of never ending prison sentences and the revolving door of jail. Private Prisons reep giant profits from prisons hanging no vacancy signs just as hotels do, and most of the shareholders of the Prison Industrial Complex sponsor bills or affect US drug policy in one way or another. See a conflict of interest?
Drug dealers large or small, actually have a positive impact on the economy, however due to the nature of black market sales and territorial disputes over drug turf, violence and death is the blowback that ensues. Overdoses run rampant due to the illegal nature of illicit drugs as there is no way to monitor purity of a product or identify the "cut" that the product is diluted with.
A free market for drugs, completely decriminalized would drastically eliminate our prison population, crime would fall to record low levels, and violent street gangs would have less of a stake in not only the drug trade, but the arms trade as well. A positive boost to our economy would happen almost over night, and local regulations could be put in place to manage drug addictions that are much more effective than the alternatives like long term methadone treatment.
Drug use in a nutshell is a personal choice made be each individual. Every man and woman is born with the natural right to consume any substance we choose, as long as it does no harm to another person or property. If we take a new stand on drugs as a society and revert back to natural rights, huge changes to the health and safety of the public would result, and benefits to the economy would follow. One thing is for sure, entrepreneurship will never die in America, but it is up to us on whether or not we want to have a truly free market to avoid crime, or drive markets under ground leaving them up for grabs to criminal enterprises and corrupted officials.