10/07/12 Nathan P. Jones

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Nathan P. Jones, a fellow at the James A Baker III Institute, Javier Sicilia leader of the Mexican Caravan for Peace, CBS report on lab failure & Judge Jim Gray Libertarian candidate for VP

Audio file


Cultural Baggage / October 7, 2012


Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”

DEAN BECKER: My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.


DEAN BECKER: Alright my friends, thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. This two days until the 11 year anniversary of the Drug Truth Network and I want to thank you for being with us all these years.

Today we got two shows back to back. Gonna talk about violence. Gonna talk about Mexico. Gonna talk about this drug war. We have with us in studio a fellow from the James A. Baker, III Institute for Public Policy, Rice University right here in Houston, Texas – the gulag filling station of this planet. We have with us Nathan P. Jones. How are you doing, Nathan?

NATHAN JONES: Good. Thank you for having me.

DEAN BECKER: Nathan, you’ve been with the Baker Institute for how long now?

NATHAN JONES: Since about mid-June of this year.

DEAN BECKER: Right. I’m just beginning to understand this. You guys kind of…you go to one college you fellowship at another and then you move on. You got your doctorate now, too, right?

NATHAN JONES: Yeah, finished my PhD at UC Irvine.

DEAN BECKER: You’ve written some amazing descriptions…thesis I guess they’re called. Let’s talk about what you presented. What helped you to get that doctorate.

NATHAN JONES: Oh, OK. What I did is as part of a PhD program at UC Irvine I conducted for 9 months with 3 months in Mexico City and 6 months in Tijuana and I conducted field work on organized crime – specifically on the cartel Arellano-Félix, the Tijuana cartel.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, there’s 6 or 7 major cartels, cartalitos. It seems weird to call multiples a cartel but, just the same, that’s what they call them these days.

NATHAN JONES: Yeah and the number is expanding as we’ve engaged…well not we…the government of Mexico has engaged in these kingpin strategies. They’ve been successful at disrupting these networks and fragmenting them into multiple networks. So what you’ve got is…you’ve got still those 7 are still around in one form or another sometimes with a different name and then you’ve got all their rivals that used to be their compatriots, sometimes with different business models now – even more diverse business models, and so you have even more “cartels.”

DEAN BECKER: And it’s not like, “Oh, the boss got busted let’s go home and quit this.”

NATHAN JONES: Absolutely not. The funny thing is a lot of people told me that the Tijuana Cartel was dead as I was doing my research and they are usually people outside of Tijuana that don’t know what’s going on. I always kind of chuckled. They are still there. They’re still going strong and some argue that they’re going stronger than ever.

DEAN BECKER: We’re talking out in the meeting room at the station. There was a point we were addressing and I told you to be sure and bring it forward. I’m hoping you will remember what it was. What were we talking about?

NATHAN JONES: Absolutely. We were talking about the history of what was going on in terms of the Mexican government. In the 1980s there was a lot of collusion between government…this has been well documented by a lot of academics. There was a lot of collusion in the 1980s between the government and drug trafficking.

We let – and when I say we I mean the United States – we allowed the Mexican DFS (Dirección Federal de Seguridad) which is their version of the FBI. We let them get away with a lot as long as they were anti-communist. In many ways they kind of negotiated and controlled the drug trafficking industry.

Now what happened was Enrique Camarena was an American DEA agent and he was killed brutally and horribly in broad daylight – tortured…

DEAN BECKER: They actually had doctors revive him so they could torture him again.

NATHAN JONES: Yeah, the famous case of Umberto Machain. This became a president setting case. Can you send bounty hunters to another country and bring him on back and the courts basically said, “This probably isn’t good for your foreign relations but once he’s here – he’s here - and we’re going to try him.”

So that’s the famous constitutional law case of Umberto Machain. After that incident we put incredible pressure on the Mexican government to disband the DFS and well-intentioned but what happened was then you got a bunch of different federal law enforcement agencies and the cartels right around that time also …one of the people responsible, Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo – “El Padrino” of the Guadalajara Cartel – he gets arrested and gets moved to secure, max facility so he can’t run the organization anymore through his mobile phone.

So what happened was you had a breakup of the “cartels”. So you had many, many cartels and you had many, many law enforcement agencies and it’s not as easy to pay that bribe and buy that security anymore so what you do is you build your own army. So in the 1990s we saw the beginning of the seeds of the violence that we’re seeing in full fruition today. We saw that start to emerge.

In the 80s traffickers would say, “I didn’t carry weapons. I had $100,000 in this pocket and I had a million pecos in this pocket and I bought the army or I bought a law enforcement agency.”

Sometime in the 1990s they started building up their own paramilitary apparatuses and the government was slowly but surely…This problem was going to become an inevitability. We’ve seen it in full force in the Calderon administration but it was building up.

DEAN BECKER: This brings to mind that “good intentions is the road to hell” – I can’t remember the exact phrase. We have done much the same thing where many of the head leaders of the Zetas were trained at the U.S. School of the Americas and do, therefor, they taught their subordinates what they learned and they became a very powerful organization.

NATHAN JONES: Yeah, they were GAFEs (Grupo Aeromóvil de Fuerzas Especiales). These were the special forces hotshots. Yes, some of them definitely in that original group definitely had training from U.S. Special Forces - some speculate Israeli Special Forces. One of the key problems has been salary. If you’re Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, the head of the Gulf Cartel, and you see these guys, really impressive commandoes, kicking down doors and you say, “Hey, I want those guys. How much do they make?”

And they say $500 bucks a month and you say, “I’ll pay them that a day.”

It becomes very easy to see how this happened. They were originally just supposed to be a paramilitary apparatus for the Gulf Cartel as serving as the enforcers but as we all know we continued those kingpin strategies. We got Osiel Cárdenas Guillén. We extradited him and by about 2008 the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel started doing a little dance around each other. We didn’t really know what was going to happen. By 2010 they really broke in and that’s when the Monterrey, the northern industrial hub for trade for Texas – 2 hours south of the Texas border – we’ve seen a spike in homicide rates and a reduction in security in that area.

DEAN BECKER: It extends even into Acapulco. They have their bouts of violence and push back. It kind of has moved around the country. It’s not so concentrated right on the U.S./Mexico border as it once was though it still deadly as hell. But it does move around kind of like a pinball.

NATHAN JONES: Absolutely. Cities that we never thought would be strategically important have turned out to be strategically important. For example, Querna Vaca – one hour south of Mexico City. I went there and took language classes. It was known as a place where the gringos go and learn Spanish. A wonderful language school, a beautiful city known as “The City of Eternal Spring.”

After the Mexican marines got Otturo Deltron Lava in December of 2009 Querna Vaca became a strategic point just south of Mexico City and multiple, different groups started fighting for that. We saw high rates of violence in a city that we never thought there would be high rates of violence in. So it pinballs around. You’re absolutely right.

DEAN BECKER: Once again folks, we’re speaking with Nathan P. Jones of the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.

Nathan, it’s hard to remember exactly…I think 5 or 6 weeks ago the Caravan for Peace came through Houston led by Javier Sicilia, the Mexican Poet, and 50 or 60 family members of those who were butchered and massacred in Mexico came to the Baker Institute. I wanted to share this piece here. It’s with Javier Sicilia. He’s actually speaking to Michelle Alexander.

He and I and a couple others stopped at this little city…it wasn’t even a city – a store out in the middle of Alabama – and via wifi and remotes and Skype and television they actually did this interview that’s up on YouTube now but this is a section from it. I wanted to just kind of share this and we’ll come back to our conversation here in about 2 minutes.


DEAN BECKER: The following is taken from “Children of the Same Sorrow.” It features Javier Sicilia, the Mexican poet, leader of the Caravan for Peace.

JAVIER SICILIA: (via interpreter) The caravan has a very clear purpose which is to make North Americans understand the responsibility they have in the suffering in the war we’re living through in Mexico.

Calderon declared war against narco-trafficking with the military and economic help of the United States and with U.S. weapons and weapons which are sold here like candy – assault weapons and handguns are entering Mexican territory illegally, arming narco-traffickers and organized crime.

We have many dead and disappeared because of this. We have come here to say that the United States shares responsibility in this and to say that drugs are not a national security issue. Drugs are a public health issue. Behind each of your addicts are our dead and behind each of your weapons are our dead also and our disappeared.

We need to find a path to peace together and hold that as a fundamental priority because in addition to these – the drugs and the arms – there is the immigration problem and the racism. African-Americans are criminalized in such a cruel way. The prisons are filled with them even though the white population consumes drugs at the same rate as the black population. There is a great deal of criminalization of immigrants as well.

The other piece is the money laundering. We haven’t developed a political policy to wage a multinational frontal attack on money laundering. We believe that these are the steps to peace - to attack money laundering, to regulate drugs by putting into law regulation of the drug market, control and restriction of assault weapons and enforcement on the part of Mexico of the illegality of arms trafficking.

So the caravan represents this search for a path to peace against the path to war.


DEAN BECKER: Once again, this is Cultural Baggage. Dean Becker here in studio with Nathan Jones of the Baker Institute.

Nathan, the fact of the matter is people get “it.” People are beginning to recognize the futility of this drug war though they’re so seldom able or daring to speak about it. I just wanted to get your response to that.

NATHAN JONES: I think a lot of it is politics. We reward dumb policy. In this culture I think we have this tendency with a two-party system to move entirely to “middle” so we get two parties that are not thinking about alternative ways to deal with this because they are afraid. We’re not getting the kind of candidates that we need because they are afraid. They are always playing it safe on other issues and they’re focused on issues so they want to play it safe on this issue.

Also there’s a lot of institutional support for the status quo….

DEAN BECKER: …hundreds of billions…

NATHAN JONES: …hundreds of billions, law enforcement, a prison industrial complex, etc. So there’s a lot of interest in maintaining the status quo.

DEAN BECKER: I wrote down a note here. Javier Sicilia was talking about the money laundering. HSBC recently I think it was 7 billion dollars they were laundering for the cartels and Wachovia bank I think it’s now 5/6 years ago – 320 billion dollars and got fined 140 million.

NATHAN JONES: Bank of America, too. They have the best case for they didn’t really know about it. It was the horse racing track up in Oklahoma or…they had a horse with an obvious narco name…but, yeah, definitely we’ve got a flawed system here where the American financial system is being used for money laundering purposes.

DEAN BECKER: I was trying to think of the phrase….maybe it already exists…but it’s not cognitive distance…it’s not …there’s just got to be a phrase to wrap around this circumstance that would maybe define it or encourage others to recognize it. It’s just so preposperous.

NATHAN JONES: It is ridiculous. The other thing these banks essentially have to turn themselves in. If you look at I think it was the Observer who did some great reporting on the Wachovia case and the poor guy who was the anti-money laundering unit was bringing this stuff to the attention and they were ignoring him intentionally. There is definitely a financial incentive there to ignore.

So that a real problem there.

DEAN BECKER: Well, yeah, whistle blowers get stoned and I mean with rocks. They don’t get recognized the way I think they ought to.

NATHAN JONES: But there’s a fundamental problem with a system that hinges on people turning themselves in.

DEAN BECKER: We have come to this fork in the road. We can continue to keep doing this same thing or we can try something different. A couple weeks back President Calderon, President Santos…what was the third one?

NATHAN JONES: Perez Molina….

DEAN BECKER: They spoke to the UN and presented the thought that it’s time to change the way we go about all this. They didn’t say it’s time to legalize it. They said everything but that word. And yet when the UN heard this and they put a summary on the UN webpage there was not one word about the drug war in any of those summaries they presented to the public if they didn’t want to hear the actual speaking.

It just, once again, shows that there are forces afoot. There’s got to be something going on to hold this batch of lies together beyond what we must know about. The American President refuses to talk about it. He laughs at legalization. He knows the truth. The Drug Czar knows the truth and yet they continue to think it’s necessary to lock up prisoners and for Mexicans to die by the tens of thousands , for overdoses to be hidden and more deadly because people are afraid to call for help…

I don’t know…we’ve got a couple minutes left and I’m rambling here but I’m a little angry. Your thoughts…

NATHAN JONES: No, it’s incredibly frustrating. What I did was research on organized crime in Mexico so I saw negative externality – the violence, the death, the destruction, the deligitimization of the state itself (the very concept of the state, of the government itself) – as a result of our prohibition policies. So that’s where I come from and so it’s incredibly frustrating to look at my own nation – we are the largest drug consuming nation in the world and it’s really unfortunate because even if Santos of Colombia, the leadership in Guatemala and Mexico – even if they really wanted to make a shift – you can’t get at the underlying political and economical forces until you deal with it in part, at least, here in the United States.

There are signs of hope. I know how angry you get. I know that feeling but there are signs of hope. I look at Colorado, Oregon and Washington and the initiatives that they have on their ballots. We may see, hopefully we’ll see a shift in this fundamental drug policy.

I really believe you have to get at those underlying political-economic supply and demand forces. We have to have production here in the United States otherwise we’re not doing necessarily a service to Mexico and Latin America.

DEAN BECKER: Well if I could get about 20,000 acres up near Hempstead, Texas I could supply weed for the United States. Well, I guess that’s further down the road and I hope to live long enough…

You know, Nathan, the fact of the matter is I want to come back to the Baker Institute because I’m proud that …the only degree I have is an Advanced Degree from Oaksterdam University but I am listed as one of the key people at the Baker Institute and it just brings to mind that you, my dear listeners, 11 years that we’ve been doing this. You know the full truth. You have the information, the ammunition, the ability to do something about this and that’s why I’m going to do this at least one more year.

This is a labor of love. It’s the best job I’ve ever had in my life though it pays absolutely zero. I guess the point I’m trying to get to here is you, listener, you have to come up with a plan. You’ve got to dare to do something. 50 words…write it out in handwriting – send it to your elected officials. That makes a big impression on them.

We’ve got one minute left. Nathan, your thoughts to close us out.

NATHAN JONES: If you have any opportunity to lobby on behalf of those initiatives in Colorado, Oregon and Washington please do so. We have to think about this drug problem and think about being good neighbors to our Latin American brothers and sisters.

We are the largest consuming nation in the world and we drive a lot of those problems that Latin America is seeing today.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, once again we’ve been speaking with Nathan P. Jones of the Baker Institute for Public Policy. We’ll be back right after these messages.


(Game show music)

DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.

Trouble breathing, severe headache, vertigo, cancer of the lung, skin, liver, kidney and bladder, a metallic taste in the mouth, profuse, bloody diarrhea, cold, clammy extremities, convulsions, shock, renal failure.


Time’s up!

The answer: the use of arsenic in contemporary medicine has been severely curtailed but it is still used in the treatment of severe parasitic disease.


DEAN BECKER: Because I’m such a good guy here’s a secondary warning: Don’t fire up that joint for pain no matter what God says on the first page of the bible.


DEAN BECKER: The following segment courtesy of CBS News.

REPORTER: Annie Dookhan was arrested at her home outside Boston. Police say the former state crime lab chemist admitted that she altered or faked test results of drug cases assigned to her.

Prosecutors say she went as far as adding cocaine to samples that were negative. State Attorney General Martha Coakley.

MARTHA COAKLEY: There was clearly a short-cutting of corners. There was just getting this done as quickly as possible and all of that we’re still looking at.

REPORTER: Officials say during her nine years at the lab Dookhan tested more than 60,000 drug samples. 1,100 people now in jail were put there, in part, due to her work. Already more than a dozen has been released because of questions of how she handled evidence.

John Martin is a defense attorney.

JOHN MARTIN: Everyone who’s been convicted in the last 5 to 6 years is possibly the victim of a very substantial miscarriage of justice and, on the other hand, a lot of very dangerous people might get out of jail.

REPORTER: Co-workers called Dookhan “Superwoman” because she tested more than 500 samples a month compared to 150 for a typical chemist. That raised suspicions spelled out in a 100-page report by the Massachusetts State Police. A supervisor said he never saw Dookhan in front of a microscope. Another chemist said Dookhan would submit a cocaine sample and it would come back heroin or vice versa.

She is also alleged to have lied under oath claiming to have a Master’s Degree in Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts. Dookhan later told investigators, “I screwed up big time. I messed up. I messed up bad. It’s my fault. I don’t want the lab to get in trouble.”

MARTHA COAKLEY: If you can get your results done quickly and you can handle big volume you’re perceived to be a good worker and beyond that I really can’t speculate because we’re still looking at it but we do not have evidence to-date of any other kind of motive.

REPORTER: The state crime lab was shut down last month. Special courts are now being set up to handle the thousands of cases that are expected to be reopened. And, Scott, as for Dookhan if she’s convicted on obstruction of justice and lying under oath she could face more than 20 years in prison.


DEAN BECKER: You know I hate to admit it but the ripples that come forth from the pebbles I throw into the lake of public opinion have not made one iota of difference here in Houston where our crime lab and our urine testing labs have been found to be decrepit, ancient and inaccurate, where 300,000 people per year are given similar slip-shod science.


DEAN BECKER: The day after the first Presidential debate I got a chance to speak with my good friend, Judge James P. Gray, who’s running for Vice President on the Libertarian ticket.


JAMES GRAY; It was pretty sad the rest of the evening. I’m frustrated because of this for our country.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. There was a lot of blarney if you ask me – a lot of non-fact put forward. What wasn’t said, what wasn’t addressed in any fashion is this ongoing drug war which complicates life all around this planet does it not?

JAMES GRAY; Well, it really does. I have already called this the War on Drugs, drug prohibition is the biggest failed policy in the history of our country – second only to slavery. And it’s true. But even what they did discuss last night…basically Obama and Romney spent a whole bunch of time trying to argue about how much less bad their health care system was than the other one. It’s just crazy.

It was pretty apparent that neither Romney nor Obama really has a plan about jobs, about our economy but Governor Gary Johnson …I don’t just call him the most qualified person to be President of the United States that I know of – he really does have a plan and it would be yours because we, as Libertarians, will be able to put in a coalition government which the people, once they understand the attractiveness of that, will absolutely demand.

So, yes we will have independence and Libertarians in our administration but also Republicans and Democrats as long as they agree with our philosophy of financial responsibility and social tolerance and we’ll be able to have, when we get this bipolar politics that’s going on in Washington today, we will be able to have some of their colleagues go up to them from our administration saying, “Get on board with this. This is a good idea. Embrace it.”

Because we really plan to go over the heads of these politicians who only care about their own self perpetuation and actually work for America.

So that’s why it was so sad last night that Governor Gary Johnson was not part of the debates.

DEAN BECKER: They’re afraid of how Governor Johnson might disprove their theories, correct?

JAMES GRAY; The watch word of our campaign is “The government is easy – watch.” Not because of what we say and what we say we will do but what Governor Gary Johnson did in New Mexico in his 8 years as governor.

The answer is, of course, yes. The problem is that the commission on presidential debates is literally run completely by Republicans and Democrats. They’re acting in their own selfish best interest but not in the interest of the country.

DEAN BECKER: Alright friends, we’ve been speaking with Judge James P. Gray. He is running for Vice President along with former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson under the Libertarian banner.

Judge Gray, any closing thoughts you’d like to tell folks about this upcoming election?

JAMES GRAY; Indeed, so. We must get accurate information out before the people. Dean, I’m convinced that people are prepared to share the pain and there will be some pain because of the situation we’re in. They will do it as long as they feel others are doing it as well. So if we do have that audit of our entire federal government – including the pentagon, including all of the agencies – under generally accepted accounting principles just like public companies are required to do. It’s never happened before but we will get honest information out there. Look and see what bang for the buck we’re getting and cut out all this obese federal government that we have today that’s usupted so much power away from the people and away from the states. People will flock to, including the media, will flock to Governor Gary Johnson. It’s just a question of time.

I appreciate the opportunity of sharing these thoughts and we’re going to continue to work for America like we always have.


DEAN BECKER: I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. Next week and the following week is pledge drive right here at the home station of the Drug Truth Network, KPFT. I’m asking you to show your support, to please send a check. Write it to KPFT and mail it to Dean Becker,9639 Railton Street, Houston, TX 77080. It’s time to show the PD and the manager that we’re serious here. So, please, one more time…11 years we’ve been on the air.

This is my birthday…well, tomorrow. Please show your support. KPFT send it to Dean Becker,9639 Railton Street, Houston, TX 77080.

And, as always, because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.



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DEAN BECKER: This is Dean Becker saying thank you for your birthday wishes for me and the Drug Truth Network.


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