04/15/12 Dudley Althaus

Dudley Althaus, reporter for Hou Chronicle re Obama's trip to Colombia + Ron Paul: "war on drugs total failure", Terry Nelson of LEAP: Obama's "no" ensures more violence, MJ Borden: "drug war price tag", Doug McVay - US a drug free zone?

Century of Lies
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Dudley Althaus
Houston Chronicle
Download: Audio icon COL_041512.mp3



Century of Lies / April 15, 2012


DEAN BECKER: The failure of Drug War is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors and millions more. Now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century of Lies.


DEAN BECKER: Thank you for joining us on this edition of Century of Lies. As we speak President Obama is in Colombia attending a summit of these leaders of the western hemisphere. The main topics of discussion are Cuba and the War on Drugs.

Yesterday’s Globe and Mail newspaper out of Canada had a headline that the drug war divides the hemisphere. A reporter for the Houston Chronicle, Dudley Althaus, had an article published today with the title, “Legalize Drugs? Obama administration flatly says no.”

Why is he saying no, Dudley?

DUDLEY ALTHAUS: Their contention is it’s not going to solve the problem. It’s not going to do anything to resolve the issues of rule of law and violence in the Americas. There’s a growing number of Latin American leaders that would disagree with that.

DEAN BECKER: There’s another story breaking today that in Guinea Bissau the military is overthrowing the government and it’s also reported that the military there is in charge of the import of 1,000 to 2,000 kilos of cocaine per day which will then be shipped to Europe. Your response to that, sir.

DUDLEY ALTHAUS: Western Africa has been a major problem for the past decade actually with a lot of cocaine coming out of South America and leaping through western Africa and then into Europe to feed the growing European consumption of cocaine.

I think you have a number of small countries over there that have become narco-states, if you will.

DEAN BECKER: I think that same scenario is what is compelling these Latin American leaders to bring this subject to the fore out of fear that this may happen to their countries as well. What do you think?

DUDLEY ALTHAUS: Yeah I think absolutely. That’s part of the problem. One of the main proponents of decriminalizing drugs right now, the most vocal proponents is the newly emplaced President of Guatemala, Perez, who is basically a very conservative former general who, in the past, has been accused of human rights violations in that country’s civil war.

He just took over the presidency and he sees that this is a real problem. It is a real threat to the state. Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, of course, have had major problems with street gangs, the Zetas there for quite a few years. Now that Zetas have teamed up in Guatemala, especially with the Zetas and other Mexican gangs, this has become a major threat to these very fragile democracies of the region.

DEAN BECKER: There was a comment that the situation in Mexico is turning into the graveyard for America’s drug habit. Your response, sir.

DUDLEY ALTHAUS: Into the graveyard of America’s drug habit in that the gangs and a lot of this violence is being financed by U.S. consumption. I don’t say that’s probably true although, you know, consumption inside Mexico has grown quite a bit in the recent years…in the past 4,5 or 6 years.

A lot of the violence in some of these cities is actually over local drug markets. So, yeah, I think that that’s definitely in the past the U.S. consumption and the Mexican leaders will tell you, you know, will complain that U.S. consumption is the main factor behind all of this but it’s gotten more complicated than that in recent years.

DEAN BECKER: The situation is that America has this habit. Some say it’s hundreds of billions of dollars per year that go to the U.S. gangs- some tens of billions that go to these barbarous cartels in Mexico. I guess the situation is Obama, Joe Biden are saying it’s a respectable subject that needs to be addressed but in no way in hell they’re going to legalize. What do you think of that response?

DUDLEY ALTHAUS: One of Obama’s top advisors for Latin America, Daniel Striper, said in a conference call to reporters this week was that Obama respects and believes it’s a worthy subject for debate but basically, “Hell no.”

You have to remember that this is an election year and Obama’s going to be in a tight election/reelection campaign. I don’t think you can expect anything out of the administration this year on this subject.

It might be put on the agenda in Cartagena. It might be put on the agenda that Latin America and the OAS should discuss the matter. That said, this is not going to be the magic bullet in the short term, at least, and even in the medium term for this terrible violence that’s racking Mexico, parts of Central America and Colombia…And Brazil. People forget about Brazil but a lot of the violence in the poor neighborhoods in Rio and elsewhere in Brazil is caused by the drug trade as well.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, we pawn off the horrors, the worst horrors of this drug war to our Latin neighbors, don’t we?

Now, you and Mr. Dane Schiller both report for the Houston Chronicle. A recent story in the Chronicle, I think the byline was by Dane, talked about a Houston cop got 15 years behind bars for wearing his uniform, driving a police car and hauling cocaine across the county.

The drug war empowers, enriches and enables these criminal actors to bribe and corrupt and just run rampant. Your response, sir.

DUDLEY ALTHAUS: I think the evidence is clear on that. I think it is a real threat to the rule of law. When you have weakened institutions anywhere as in Latin America and Texas and the United States is not exempt from that at all then, yeah, there’s a lot of money sloshing around from this. A lot money being able to bribe. A lot of temptation for people who don’t make as much money as they think they should be making.

In Mexico, of course, police make very little money and the culture of paying off cops for everything from a traffic violation to anything else is well established. So then when you get into it being a matter of payoffs for drug trades or other organized criminal activities you’re just talking a matter of zeros not really a matter of whether it’s right or wrong. It’s a matter of how much you’re going to be paid off.

So it’s become a major problem and it does cross the border. Many Mexicans believe that the reason there’s no violence in the United States is because it’s all been arranged and that there’s actually deeper corruption in the United States. They can’t otherwise explain why the passage of drugs through this country causes so much violence and then it just dissipates right at the border where the drugs are going all over the United States. Why isn’t there more violence, more corruption and more killing of police officers by one gang or the other – that sort of thing.

I don’t agree with the view of the Mexicans but can understand where they’re coming from.

DEAN BECKER: Speaking of reporting by you and Dane Schiller we talked a bit earlier and it made me go dig out a copy of the July 25th, 2011 print edition of the Chronicle. Big picture there…Cartel Money Market Fund. There’s a huge picture there of 134 metric tons going to be burned. It is still the main driver of their economic engine, isn’t it?

DUDLEY ALTHAUS: It is a major, major driver of their economic engine. There’s good profit margins and everything else in marijuana. I’m amazed at how much Mexican marijuana is still headed for the United States. The Mexican army is capturing tons and tons of Mexican marijuana near the south Texas border every week, every month and it’s just amazing. And even as much as they seize more and more is getting through.

I don’t live in Houston but I imagine Houston or elsewhere in Texas and the United States you can get a hold of Mexican marijuana. It’s cheaper than homegrown marijuana and it’s popular. I guess because of the price point and the improved quality.

In the article we called it a marketing miracle. Mexican marijuana has survived efforts to pull it out of the ground, to stomp it, to burn it and everything else and it’s still readily available everywhere.

DEAN BECKER: Dudley, as someone who’s been imbibing on the occasion for some 40-something years now, I can tell you that quality has certainly improved of that Mexican cannabis.

DUDLEY ALTHAUS: I wouldn’t know but I’ll take your word for that. I do know from talking to people in the states that it is readily available and the price is cheaper than Californian or anything else. The number of people in the states that grow their own marijuana or whatever.

I personally am agnostic about whether to legalize drugs. I don’t know. I think it’s a worthy debate. I guess I kind of agree, kind of mealy mouth, with the Obama administration. I don’t know. I don’t think that after years of covering this horrendous violence in Mexico that it’s an immediate or mid-term magic bullet.

On the other hand it’s fueling these guys and giving them money to buy guns from the United States and elsewhere. It probably couldn’t hurt. While they’re decriminalizing it, legalizing marijuana in many U.S. states it leaves a lot of Mexicans I’ve talked to to scratching their heads.

DEAN BECKER: I hear a lot of folks talk about that. “Yeah, if they stopped them from making money off the drug trade they’d just get more violent and get into more kidnappings, extortion, corruption and on down the line.”

I would respond to that that there’s nothing stopping them from doing that now. And the fact of the matter is if we can take away those tens of billions of dollars each year in profits from the drug trade we will begin to curtail their ability to act in such a horrible fashion.

DUDLEY ALTHAUS: I see your point. You could also argue that gangs like the Zetas and others have gotten into kidnapping, extortion and every other kind of predatory vice you can think of since the Calderon administration has cracked down on drug trade.

So as it has gotten more difficult for these guys to make money then they have moved into other stuff. That said, the main perpetrators of that, by all indications of these other crimes – extortion, kidnapping, whatever – are the Zetas who have never really been that good at smuggling drugs themselves as far as I know.

They were formed as basically the muscle of the Gulf cartel and didn’t really have that many contacts or that much expertise in smuggling drugs themselves. So when they branched out they got into this other stuff.

DEAN BECKER: Dudley, that brings to mind you say that the Zetas were not that proficient at gathering or smuggling drugs but they do, on occasion, rip off other cartels for their stash. Do they not?

DUDLEY ALTHAUS: Oh yeah. They’re smuggling drugs, definitely. But if you look at…there’s an indictment called the Dos Equis (the 2 X) indictment out of Washington against the Gof cartel and the Zetas a few years ago. Some of the transcripts of the telephone intercepts of that the amount of drugs these guys were talking about moving was miniscule compared to Guzman who was moving tons of stuff.

When they arrested this guy, one of the Zetas commanders, Manito, last year and when he was talking to Mexican investigators he was saying they really didn’t have that much contact with the Colombians. They didn’t trust the Colombians. They were working with people in Guatemala and branching out. So I’m sure they’re getting into drug trafficking, absolutely, but they’re learning business as they go. They were really financing themselves with other stuff as well. But definitely they into drug trafficking. That’s why these horrendous battles between Zetas and other groups are happening in north-eastern Mexico and Zacatecas and Jalisco and other places.

DEAN BECKER: Friends, we’ve been speaking with Mr. Dudley Althaus of the Houston Chronicle. Dudley, your courage, your ambition going into Mexico…I marvel at your courage, sir.

Any closing thoughts you’d like to say?

DUDLEY ALTHAUS: It’s not so much courage as this is an important time in Mexican history. This is definitely a challenge to Mexico’s fledgling democracy coming off of 70 years of one-party rule and federalism. These gangs, the money they’ve earned from drug trafficking has enabled them to corrupt many institutions and as hard as the country has paid so far on the effort to go after the gangs – I think the battle is just beginning.

So we’ll have to wait and see what happens with the next president of Mexico which will be decided July 1st. There’s been a lot of criticism about the army involvement against the gangs, the army being in the street, the Mexican Marines which are basically called sailors but they’re the Mexican naval infantry against the drug traffickers and in the streets of the cities.

Every candidate now has said they’ll keep the military in the streets just as Calderon has done until the police are able to handle the gangsters. Calderon has been saying the same thing for the past 5 years and it hasn’t happen. So I don’t expect major policy shifts although everybody is trying to say they’re going to have policy shifts in Mexico vis a vie the drug war. But as we see it right now it’s not looking like there is going to be that much change with whoever takes the presidency next year.


[snare drum beat]

DEAN BECKER: Is this when we take away tens of billions of dollars each year from the treasury of Shorty Guzman and the dozen murderous Mexican drug cartels?

Obama says no.

[band joins in]

Is now the time to stop al Qaeda from earning hundreds of millions of dollars each year to then buy weapons with which to kill our fine soldiers if they only grow the flowers we forbid?

Obama says no.

Do we act to today to eliminate the reason for the existence of more than 30,000 violent U.S. gangs, prowling our neighborhoods, selling contaminated drugs to our children?

Obama says no.


TERRY NELSON: This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. The 13 and 14th. of this month the 6th Summit of the Americas was held in Colombia. A principle item expected to be discussed by the 34 heads of state, is the changing of a strict prohibitionist policy towards drug policy. There are six countries in the western hemisphere that do not want to change the policy. Of course two of those, USA and Canada are big players. Panama, El Salvador and Honduras do not want to support change and risk losing their millions of US dollars that they receive. Bolivia already has legal coca and sells coca products across the world. Products such as coca tea, and other products made from the coca leaf. So they benefit doubly by it staying prohibited; they get the artificially high prices for the coca paste caused by prohibition and can still sell their legal products on the world market.

I hope that the countries that have suffered so much death and destruction because of the prohibitionist policy of the United States are able to stay united and stand up to the hegemonic United States. It is certainly time that the issue be openly discussed and an alternate strategy be implemented so that we can stop much of the crime and violence that is associated with the prohibition of drugs.

The European countries are already experimenting with and discussing ways to lessen the harm of drug prohibition. Recently at the United Nations meeting in Vienna many countries tried to get the conversation changed but once again the united States threw its weight around and managed to prevent anything positive relating to changing the drug policy.

I am bewildered that anyone would want to continue a public policy that is causing so much death, disease and destruction in the world. It can only be because people are benefiting financially or politically from the current policy and do not want to even discuss changing the policy to one that may work. One thing for sure is that the current policy that has been ongoing for over four decades absolutely does not work and causes far more harm that it does good.

As a police investigator we were taught to “follow the money” if you wanted to find the power behind something. So we know that the cartels are benefiting greatly from drugs remaining illegal. But, logic says that no one wants the cartels to generate more wealth and power. So, therefore, it must be the people that are benefiting from the politics and profits of the prohibition policy and possibly the continued disenfranchising of a certain segment of our society by keeping them from participating in the political process. The outcomes of presidential elections are determined by much fewer votes that we have prior drug felons that cannot vote.

Let’s change this failed public policy and try a new tact. Let’s try to educate our way out of our drug problem. Certainly our arrest and incarcerate policy has not worked. This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, www.leap.cc signing off. Stay safe.


[country music]

DEAN BECKER: We can’t ever win eternal war. We can’t ever win eternal war.
No we can’t ever win eternal war.

So we support terror because we’ve a mind to.


MARY JANE BORDEN: Hello drug policy aficionados! I’m Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts.

The question for this week asks, How much does the U.S. Corrections system cost taxpayers?

With April 15t h upon us, this is a reasonable question considering that there are over 7 million Americans currently under the control of the U.S. Corrections system. Their “price tag” includes:

Total 2008 spending in the U.S. on corrections: $75 billion

Spending in 2010 on state corrections: $51 billion

2009 spending on the 767,000 inmates in local jails: $20 billion

The 2011 budget for the federal Bureau of Prisons: $6.8 billion

2009 spending on the 242,000 inmates in state prison with a drug conviction as their most serious offense: $6.3 billion

2009 spending on the 4.2 million individuals on probation: $5.5 billion

Spending in 2009 on 171,000 inmates in federal prison: $4.3 billion

2009 spending on the 95,000 federal inmates for whom a drug conviction is their most serious offense: $2.4 billion

Unfortunately, these staggering billion dollar "price tags" take a snapshot of only one year. Over the decades, their financial burden on taxpayers has increased exponentially.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research, points to a solution: "... a 50 percent reduction in non-violent-offender inmates would save the federal government about $2.1 billion per year, state governments about $7.6 billion per year, and local governments about $7.2 billion per year ... these savings total $16.9 billion or about 22.8 percent of the total national spending on corrections"

Non-violent offenders basically mean drug offenders.

Ending drug war would clearly reduce the cost of corrections and ultimately the “price tag” borne by taxpayers.

These Facts were the subject of the Feature Article in the most recent edition of the bi-monthly e-newsletter, “What’s New at Drug War Facts.”You can subscribe to it from the bottom of the Drug War Facts home page at www.drugwarfacts.org.

If you have a question for which you need facts, please e-mail it to me at mjborden@drugwarfacts.org. I’ll try to answer your question in an upcoming show.
So remember when you need facts about drugs and drug policy, you can get the facts at Drug War Facts.



I am an agent for the cartels.
I help to keep the prices high.
Searching in the dark for another hippie to bust.
We hear you talking on your cell phone.
And on your home phone line.
The narcs and informants are in bed with crime.



DEAN BECKER: Drug…Truth…Network.

Teaching the choir to sing …solo.


DEAN BECKER: This is U.S. Presidential candidate Ron Paul speaking a couple days ago courtesy of CSPAN. The thing would run twice as long if we didn’t take out all the applause.


RON PAUL: I think the War on Drugs has been a total failure.

[audience applauds]

RON PAUL: I think drugs are horrible. I think they’re a mess but I also know that drug addiction of prescription drugs is a lot worse than illegal drugs.

[audience applauds]

RON PAUL: Addiction shouldn’t be a crime and we shouldn’t throw people in prison that didn’t commit a violent crime and turn them into violent criminals.

[audience applauds]

RON PAUL: Our country tried prohibition back when they passed the 18th amendment. Just think of the difference in that period of time. They actually amended the Constitution to change this and give the power to the government. Today the government just does it and doesn’t ever think about it.

That was a total failure so the people woke up and said we had to repeal the prohibition. Today I think we’re making great progress. When you see Pat Robertson coming out and saying, “Hey, let’s look at this more carefully.”

He, like I, was very reserved about saying drugs are dangerous but there’s a lot of danger. Who’s responsible for protecting you against yourself? When the government thinks they can do that they will regulate every single thing you do. They’ll tell you how much salt you can put on your food and how much exercise you have to get.

Not only doesn’t it work but it costs a lot of money and it’s also an excuse for the violation of our civil liberties.

And guess who some of the organized efforts are against changing the drug laws? Alcohol companies – they don’t want somebody using something in place of alcohol. Also the drug companies. What if you started using something that you could grow in your backyard and you didn’t buy all those expensive drugs?

[audience applauds]

RON PAUL: The issue for me is not the drugs. The issue for me is liberty and who makes the decision because one thing leads to another.

Today if you decided you wanted to drink raw milk you might be prohibited by the federal government for drinking raw milk.

Now because there is such a poor understanding on the War on Drugs there is a commercial product that we had for years, the founders grew it in their backyards and in their fields and we used it during World War II but because of the War on Drugs they prohibit this country from growing hemp.

One of their excuses is they say it looks like marijuana. I say, yeah, but if somebody wanted to get high on hemp they’d have to smoke a cigar as big as a phone pole.

But, once again, it’s back to our confidence. Who’s going to make up our minds. All this freedom doesn’t work, though, unless we do one thing. We have to assume responsibility for ourselves.

(Machine gun and shooting sounds with screaming)

That is the sound… of the American society, economy, the people, shooting themselves in the foot.

(Screaming in background)

Continuously. (screaming)

Twenty four hours per day. (screaming)

Seven days a week. (screaming)

For eternity (screaming)…

In order to wage the War on Drugs. (exhaustive moan)

Please visit drugtruth.net


DOUG McVAY: The Devil is in the Details.

U.S. attorneys in several states have sent letters to property owners and landlords who lease space to dispensaries warning of the possible forfeiture of their properties unless these businesses are evicted.

The current targets of this effort are dispensaries operating within 1,000 feet of a school. To justify this choice U.S. attorneys specifically cite 21 U.S. code section 860 that increases penalties for alleged drug crimes occurring within 1,000 feet of educational institutions.

U.S. attorneys involved have taken great care in the media to emphasize that this is about children yet recently the Denver news outlet, West Word, reported that for at least 2 Boulder dispensaries which received these letters the only school nearby is the campus of Colorado University which is a school, no doubt, yet it is attended primarily and almost solely by people over the age of 18. Some of the well over that age. Some of these adult students could be patients themselves. The thing is that’s what 21 U.S. code section 860 is really about.

Statements from the feds are piled high and steaming with references to young children because the feds lie. The rule being cited actually applies to alleged drug violations occurring “in or on or within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising of public or private elementary, vocational or secondary school or a public or private college, junior college, or university or a playground or a housing facility owned by a public housing authority or within 100 feet of a public youth center, public swimming pool or video arcade facility.”

That’s a lot of real estate!

For the Drug Truth Network this is Doug McVay from Common Sense for Drug Policy.


DEAN BECKER: Thanks, Doug, and the website for Common Sense for Drug Policy is http://csdp.org

On a local note, today’s Houston Chronicle indicates that a 53-year-old woman working for New Caney Independent School district was arrested after officers found pot in her home and vehicle. The suspect faces harsher charges because she lives near a church day care. This special education teacher’s aide was charged with possession of marijuana in a drug-free zone.

When you look at the maps and the statistics you realize that nearly half of America lives in a drug-free zone.

War is hell and drug war is eternal hell. There is no justification for this. Please visit our website, http://endprohibition.org. Prohibido istac evilesco!


For the Drug Truth Network, this is Dean Becker asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.

The Century of Lies.

Drug Truth Network programs are archived at the James A. Baker, III. Institute for Policy Studies.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org