Friday, December 9, 2011

If there were not Chapo, we would have to invent him (with apologies to Wilde)

Following in the footsteps of Eduardo Gutiérrez Guerrero [1], I am going to state the obvious: to focus on arresting the leaders of TCOs rather than systematically dismantling the organization itself will only lead to the fracturing of the organization and increased violence as others try to fill the leadership void (the point proven by charts provided by Gutiérrez). If President Calderón were truly sincere about “combating” organized crime, rather than deploying soldiers in the streets he would focus the state’s resources in competent investigations of ALL those involved, seizing all assets, and tracking down the organizations, businessmen and politicians who collaborate with the narcos as anywhere from 40 to 60 billion dollars a year of illicit cash washes through Mexico each year (or half a trillion since Calderón declared war). With a pool of 7 million “ninis” (youths who neither work nor study and who have little hope to do so) from which to draw, organized criminal groups can easily afford a war of attrition. TCOs offer the ninis what the government cannot and the elites will not, who see them as nothing more than castoff proles or proletarians [2].

The Calderón administration trumpets Ciudad Juaréz as a success with its unenlightened strategy but, although the death rate has fallen, it is not as precipitous as claimed since the administration tends to fiddle with statistics. In this case it is by using data from the highest month of casualties (October 2010 with an average of 11 per day) to compare it to one of the lowest months (April 2011 with an average closer to 6 per day not the 4 stated by Alejandro Poire [3]) claiming a 60% drop when in fact within this time-frame it was closer to 30%--which is not insignificant, and part of a trend of declining deaths for 2011, but certainly not the 60% claimed by the glib Poire (at the time he served as the federal security spokesperson but is now serving as the Interior Minister, the second highest post next to that of President). Both October of 2010 and April of 2011 were anomalies [4], and a more honest accounting would use the average number of people killed in 2010 (which was 9 per day) and compare this with the first four months of 2011 (including April) which has an average of 7 per day, with January and February both surpassing 200 deaths each (January - 222 and February - 231) [5].  

But Ciudad Júarez is not the only city in Mexico experiencing hyper-violence as, under this strategy that has the top leaders of TCOs being killed or captured by the war-machine, violence has spread undeterred throughout the country, especially through the pacific states [6]. The latest example is Sinaloa where, for the last few months now, things have been percolating in and around the cities of Culiacán, Mazatlán and Los Mochis (see pie chart below):

Although the violence in Sinaloa has been off of the radar of the major media outlets the lid blew off last week on November 23 with a host of burned bodies, including police officers, turning up in Culiacán, 16 of them publicly charred in 2 burning vehicles as a brazen warning [7]. The Governor of the State, Mario López Valdez, immediately stated that this was between the narcos [8] but a quick answer like this seems a tad facile considering that 32 police commanders in Ahome were recently dismissed [9] and in Tijuana 15 million of Chapo’s money seized [10]. Thus, a different supposition of what is occurring is that Chapo is “cleaning house” for this egregious loss, rather than the imminent attack of the Zetas into Sinaloa territory (a tit-for-tat response to attacks upon the Zetas in Veracruz [11]). Granted, the reprisal theory does seem to be the case with the 20 bodies discovered in Guadalajara, Jalisco the next day [12]...but anybody with a marker and some cardboard can make a “narcomensaje”.

Be that as it may, Calderón´s rhetoric, of making headway against organized crime, does not seem to support the facts as the killers continue to kill en mass, with impunity. Force vs Force as a means to resolve domestic issues is not working, that is, using military weapons and tactics to combat social issues. Trying to address social conditions in terms of war-making and using the army as a domestic police service to combat crime cannot be successful in any sense. Crime and criminals are a result of social phenomena--there is no army to defeat, no leaders who once captured cannot be replaced (at best there is the fracturing of the organization into smaller pieces which will jockey, fight, and coordinate and adapt to continually fill the demands of a voracious drug market). What the war-making has done is make the illicit markets more efficient, the organizations more deadly and created a highly populated “assassin profession” employing thousands of young men (and even women and children). 

But, cheered on by the US, Mexico refuses to deter from its ill-trodden path and, despite the fact that the narcos now kill by the truckload, still refuses to change strategy...increasing army patrols of the streets has not prevented assassins from driving around with trucks loaded with dead bodies, dumping them on major thoroughfares and/or lighting them on fire. What is needed is not bullets but competent investigations, rule of law, and a working justice system. Instead of deploying soldiers, Calderón should be “deploying” forensic accountants and investigators, "boring" suits and ties, rather than "sexy" guns and bullets, if he truly wants to wage an effective campaign against organized crime and make the country safer.

Calderon has engaged in a 5 year social experiment, of using the army to combat social problems, rather than focusing on the policing system. The results are in and it is clearly evident that it is not effective. After five years, billions of dollars, international support and assistance, Mexico now suffers from a contagion that has spread from the border to its east and west coasts with police officers kidnapped and killed [13], police forces resigning or fleeing from the towns that they are supposed to protect and serve [14], of cities having to fire their police commanders because of corruption and ties to the narcos, and of executions all over the country that continues to rise each year including those who dare speak out [15].

Now, the question many are asking is if this is a war, should Calderón not be held accountable? [16].

For a map of the killings: click: Narco-killings
Website: WM Consulting

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[1] Gutiérrez Guerrero, Eduardo (2011, June 01) La raíz de la violencia. Nexos. Retrieved June 06, 2011 from

[2] Malvido, Adriana (2011, December 07) Peña Nieto, redes sociales y ciudadanía. Milenio. Retrieved December 07 2011 from

[3] Borderland Beat (2011, May 20) Juarez Homicide rate drops 60% in 6 months, says Federal Security Spokesman. Borderland Beat. Retrieved November 25, 2011 from

[4] Sosa, Luz del Carmen (2011, May 01) En abril, menor cifra de homicidios en 14 meses. El Diario. Retrieved December 07, 2011 from

[5] ibid.

[6] Diego Valle Jones maps out the homicides for 2011, until August, and we can see that the Culican area is a hot spot

[7] Cabrera, Javier (2011, November 24) 26 muertos en Sinaloa; 16 fueron calcinados: La masacre, por disputa del territorio entre grupos antagónicos: Malova. El Universal. Retrieved November 25, 2011 from

[8] Debate (2011, November 25) Malova: Se disputan Sinaloa tres cirteles: Son el grupo criminal del Pacífico, los Beltrán Leyva y los Carrillo; familiares de las víctimas de los hechos del miércoles identifican a 10 de los 16 cuerpos. Debate. Retrieved November 25, 2011 from

[9] Noreste (2011, November 15)  Noreste. Detienen a todos los jefes policíacos de Ahome:
32 mandos fueron citados a una reunión para afinar detalles de operativos donde fueron sorprendidos con su detención. Retrieved November 25, 2011 from

[10] Noreste (2011, November 23) Incautan a "El Chapo" 15 millones de dólares: Es el segundo aseguramiento más grande de efectivo en lo que va del sexenio; el anterior fueron 26 millones de dólares asegurados en Culiacán. Noreste. Retrieved November 25, 2011 from

[11] Vanguardia (2011, September 21) Blindan Veracruz tras aparición de 35 cuerpos. Vanguardia. Retrieved December 07, 2011 from

[12] Zamarroni, Ulises (2011, November 24) Hallan al menos 20 cadáveres en Guadalajara: Los cuerpos fueron localizados en tres camionetas abandonadas en la Glorieta de los Arcos del Milenio. El Universal. Retrieved November 25, 2011 from

[13] CNN México (2011, November 21) Ocho personas, entre ellos tres policías, son secuestrados en Sinaloa: Cinco civiles y tres policías locales fueron secuestrados por hombres armados en el municipio de Angostura. CNN México. Retrieved November 25, 2011 from

[14] El Universal. (2011, November 25) Ejército rescata a 14 policías de emboscada en Michoacán: De acuerdo con la PGJE, los elementos municipales fueron rescatados cuando presuntamente iban a ser secuestrados en un paraje de Carácuaro; los sacan de la zona junto con sus familias. El Universal. Retrieved November 25, 2011 from

[15] Beyliss, Marcelo (2011, November 29) Matan en Sonora a padre de joven desaparecido. El Universal. Retrieved November 29, 2011 from

[16] BBC (25 November 2011) Mexico activists seek ICC investigation of drugs war. BBC. Retrieved November 25, 2011 from

Monday, December 5, 2011

New York Times: Active Duty Cops Face Difficulties Joining LEAP

Over the weekend, the New York Times published a story on the emerging debate within law enforcement about whether we need to end the "war on drugs," and the fact that some officers who support legalization are facing problems on the job.

Stationed in Deming, N.M., [Bryan] Gonzalez was in his green-and-white Border Patrol vehicle just a few feet from the international boundary when he pulled up next to a fellow agent to chat about the frustrations of the job. If marijuana were legalized, Mr. Gonzalez acknowledges saying, the drug-related violence across the border in Mexico would cease. He then brought up an organization called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition that favors ending the war on drugs.

Those remarks, along with others expressing sympathy for illegal immigrants from Mexico, were passed along to the Border Patrol headquarters in Washington. After an investigation, a termination letter arrived that said Mr. Gonzalez held “personal views that were contrary to core characteristics of Border Patrol Agents, which are patriotism, dedication and esprit de corps.”


In Arizona, Joe Miller, a probation officer in Mohave County, near the California border, filed suit last month in Federal District Court after he was dismissed for adding his name to a letter by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which is based in Medford, Mass., and known as LEAP, expressing support for the decriminalization of marijuana.


“No one wants to be fired and have to fight for their job in court,” said Neill Franklin, a retired police officer who is LEAP’s executive director. “So most officers are reluctant to sign on board. But we do have some brave souls.”


In the case of Mr. Gonzalez, the fired Border Patrol agent, he had not joined LEAP but had expressed sympathy with the group’s cause. “It didn’t make sense to me why marijuana is illegal,” he said. “To see that thousands of people are dying, some of whom I know, makes you want to look for a change.”

“I don’t want to work at a place that says I can’t think,” said Mr. Gonzalez, who grew up in El Paso, just across the border from Ciudad Juárez, which has experienced some of the worst bloodshed in Mexico.

Mr. Franklin, the LEAP official, said it was natural that those on the front lines of enforcing drug laws would have strong views on them, either way. It was the death of a colleague at the hands of a drug dealer in 2000 that prompted Mr. Franklin, a veteran officer, to begin questioning the nation’s drug policies. 

The full story is online here.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

White House Dismisses Popular Marijuana Petitions

 Polls Show Marijuana Legalization More Popular Than President Obama

-- Late Friday night the White House issued a typical evasive rejection of the several marijuana legalization petitions that collected more signatures than any other issue on its "We the People" website. Even though recent polls show that more voters support marijuana legalization than approve of President Obama's job performance, the White House categorically dismissed the notion of reforming any laws, focusing its response on the possible harms of marijuana use instead of addressing the many harms of prohibition detailed in the petitions.

One of the popular petitions, submitted by retired Baltimore narcotics cop Neill Franklin, called on the Obama administration to simply stop interfering with states' efforts to set their own marijuana laws.

"It's maddening that the administration wants to continue failed prohibition polices that do nothing to reduce drug use and succeed only in funneling billions of dollars into the pockets of the cartels and gangs that control the illegal market," said Franklin, who serves as executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of cops, judges and prosecutors who support legalizing and regulating drugs. "If the president and his advisers think they're being politically savvy by shying away from much-needed change to our drug policies, they're wrong. The recent Gallup poll shows that more Americans support legalizing marijuana than support continuing prohibition, so the administration is clearly out of step with the people it claims to represent. President Obama needs to remember his campaign pledge not to waste scarce resources interfering with state marijuana laws and his earlier statement about the 'utter failure' of the drug war."

Five of the top 10 petitions on the "We the People" site are about some aspect of marijuana or drug policy reform. The eight marijuana petitions that the White House's Friday rejection was intended to address have collectively garnered more than 150,00 signatures.

This isn't the first time that marijuana policy reform has proven popular in online forums hosted by the White House. A question from LEAP member and former sheriff's deputy MacKenzie Allen got the most votes in a White House YouTube forum this January. Marijuana questions also dominated the White House's "Open for Questions" online town hall in March 2009 and the Obama transition team's website in late 2008. Each time, the administration has issued terse rejections that contradict Obama's 2004 statement that "we need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws."

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the war on drugs and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at

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CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Ken Burns PBS Documentary Brings "Prohibition" Lesson to Modern America

  More Politicians Joining the Call to End "War on Drugs"

  Cops Who Fought "Drug War" Say It's Time for Legalization

-- As more politicians and world leaders declare willingness to consider ending the "war on drugs," a group of law enforcers who fought that war says a new Ken Burns PBS documentary about alcohol prohibition
premiering Sunday provides an important lesson for today's prohibition on marijuana and other illegal drugs.

"Does anyone think making the dangerous drug alcohol illegal actually decreased the harm associated with its use, abuse and distribution?" asked Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore narcotics cop who now heads up Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). "Just as then, today's prohibition on drugs doesn't accomplish much to reduce harmful use and only serves to create gruesome violence in the market where none would exist under noncriminal regulation. Legalizing these drugs will make our streets safer by reducing the crime and violence associated with their trade, just as when we re-legalized alcohol."

Many current and former elected officials are calling for a re-evaluation of the "war on drugs" and a growing number are even suggesting that marijuana and other drugs should be legalized. For example, last month, Mexican President Felipe Calderon made headlines by saying - in light of an uptick in cartel attacks - that the U.S. should look at "market alternatives" for drug supply if demand can't be reduced.

Advocates are pointing out the parallels between the repeal of alcohol prohibition and today's debate about ending the "war on drugs." For example, one factor that led to the demise of alcohol prohibition was its enormous pricetag for taxpayers during the Great Depression. Today's rough economic climate is leading more politicians to criticize the growing cost of the "war on drugs."

LEAP's Franklin said, "The one major difference between the two prohibitions is that our wise grandparents came to grips with the failure of their experiment to ban alcohol after just 13 years, while the 'drug war' that President Nixon declared 40 years ago is still being prosecuted, more harshly and expensively than ever. It's about time more of our political leaders start to think about an exit strategy."

Other influential leaders and groups recently issuing calls to move away from prohibitionist drug policies include the NAACP, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcke
r, the Washington State Democratic Central Committee and the UK's Liberal Democrat Party.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 29, 2011
CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or

Monday, September 19, 2011


New FBI Numbers Reveal Failure of "War on Drugs"

-- A new FBI report released today shows that there is a drug arrest every 19 seconds in the U.S. A group of police and judges who have been campaigning to legalize and regulate drugs pointed to the figures showing more than 1.6 million drug arrests in 2010 as evidence that the "war on drugs" is a failure that can never be won.

"Since the declaration of the 'war on drugs' 40 years ago we've arrested tens of millions of people in an effort to reduce drug use. The fact that cops had to spend time arresting another 1.6 million of our fellow citizens last year shows that it simply hasn't worked. In the current economy we simply cannot afford to keep arresting three people every minute in the failed 'war on drugs,'" said Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore narcotics cop who now heads the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). "If we legalized and taxed drugs, we could not only create new revenue in addition to the money we'd save from ending the cruel policy of arresting users, but we'd make society safer by bankrupting the cartels and gangs who control the currently illegal marketplace."

Today's FBI report, which can be found at, shows that 81.9 percent of all drug arrests in 2010 were for possession only, and 45.8 percent of all drug arrests were for possession of marijuana.

A separate Department of Justice report released last month shows that Mexican drug cartels are currently operating in more than 1,000 U.S. cities, whereas two years ago they were in 230 U.S. cities. Meanwhile, a new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report released earlier this month shows that nearly one in 10 Americans admit to regularly using illegal drugs.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 19, 2011
CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cops and Judges Endorse California 2012 Marijuana Initiative

Law Enforcers Say Ending Prohibition Improve Public Safety

SACRAMENTO, CA -- A group of police officers, prosecutors, judges and other criminal justice professionals is announcing its support for the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act of 2012, a ballot initiative that would end marijuana prohibition in California. The group, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), represents criminal justice professionals who have been on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and seen its failures and dangers up close.

Stephen Downing, a retired deputy chief of police with the Los Angeles Police Department, said, "This initiative will accomplish what the drug war has failed to do by cutting off the economic engine that fuels gangs, cartels and terrorists. And, instead of wasting millions of dollars to eradicate marijuana, we will bring marijuana under strict regulation and generate billions of dollars through capturing otherwise lost sales tax. Like it or not, marijuana is California's biggest cash crop and it is time we admit prohibition isn't working and start regulating and taxing it instead."

The Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act of 2012 would repeal prohibition of marijuana for adults aged 21 and older, strictly regulate the sale of marijuana similar to the wine industry and allow hemp agriculture and products. The initiative would not change laws regarding medical marijuana, impairment in the workplace, driving while impaired or use by persons under 21 years old.

Retired California Superior Court Judge James Gray added, "By regulating and controlling marijuana, we will make marijuana less available for our children. Don't take my word for it; ask any teenager you find whether it is easier to get marijuana or alcohol. The answer will be marijuana, because alcohol is regulated and controlled by the government, and marijuana is controlled by illegal marijuana dealers who don't ask for I.D."

More information about the initiative is online at

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 14, 2011
CONTACT: Jim Gray - (714) 328-8829 or
                   Stephen Downing - (562) 433-4043 or

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Paradigm Shift

President Calderón is still befuddled as to why the strategy that he has been pursuing for the last 5 years has not produced the results that he had expected (and for which he is still waiting), i.e., to win the drug war, as evidenced in his speech last week [1]. Aside from a close examination of the colossal failures of Plan Columbia and its kinship to Mexico’s imbroglio, I would like to humbly suggest that the problem is the paradigm through which Calderón views the challenges facing Mexico with regards to organized crime, drugs and security. His rhetoric indicates that he continues to view Mexico at war as is most recently seen by his labelling of criminal acts, such as the recent arson attack of the Casino Royale in Monterrey, as terrorism (of which they clearly are not, no matter how horrific, since these actions are perpetrated for financial gain rather than political aims) [2]. Moreover, Calderón, still operating within this “war-paradigm”, is also incorrect in thinking that the continuance of his current strategy is the only way to win (no matter how long it takes nor how many deaths result) [3].

One thing that President Calderón does get right, however, is that the prodigious US demand for drugs fuels the TCOs in Mexico and in turn the violence that has claimed nearly 48,000 lives (a large part of this is due to his misguided war and security policies) [4]. Everything else he gets wrong including relying on the US and its advisers to continue to follow this path of waging a war upon his fellow citizens (something to which the TCOs are now responding in kind through using any and all military grade weapons and munitions as well as building their own homemade tanks [5]).

It is erroneous for Calderón to adopt US “war-paradigm” policies and strategies to address social issues. We know this because, after over 40 years and trillions of dollars (yes trillions, not millions, not billions), the US still does not have a definitive policy nor practice that can enforce prohibition. As an example of this failure, the US tries to build a wall along the Mexican boarder when it cannot even keep contraband out of the most secure facilities it has--prisons--where drug use and abuse is rampant (just ask any warden or guard). The US continues to jail anyone who buys, sells or uses illegal drugs, with nothing to show other than the highest incarceration rate in the world coupled with the highest drug use in the world (clearly the tactics of fear are not working). As a grand social experiment, which has been conducted for over 4 decades (and is still, sadly, underway), the US has proven, without a shadow of a doubt, that the use of force to address social and health issues is not efficacious, that this “war-paradigm” does not work.

So, given the above, President Calderón needs to realize that if the use of force did not work with the US with its well-funded, well-trained and well-equipped armies (both police and military) it certainly will not work in Mexico with its poorly-funded, poorly-trained and poorly-equipped security forces (both the military and the police) stumbling along, relying “on numbers over intelligence and [which] falls back on time-worn tactics, such as highway checkpoints, of limited use against drug traffickers... [and] left the U.S. pointedly criticizing the force as "virtually blind" on the ground” [6]. Furthermore, for Calderón to continue to operate under a “war-paradigm”, and the poor results being achieved so far, has some seeing US forces in Mexico as inevitable [7].

But, what if we step back from this paradigm, and realise that it is not a war, what is to be done to address the threat of the TCOs? One option is to examine the structural elements--those that give rise to organized crime; the venues for their profits; and, the recruitment of Mexico´s poor into its ranks--something that is lacking under Calderón’s “war-paradigm”. A good example for us to turn to is Britain’s fight against highwaymen, desperate ex-soldiers-turned-robbers who, for the most part, when released from the war with little or no opportunity for work and the availability of quick cash to be made by a gun, turned to robbing stagecoaches in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Operating under the “war-paradigm” soldiers were deployed, strategies employed, rhetoric evoked and victories announced with each arrest made (sound familiar?) all for naught as the highwaymen continued in their trade, frustrating the British government’s efforts to combat this threat. Despite the efforts of an Empire nearing the height of its power and glory, one where the phrase "his Majesty's dominions, on which the sun never sets," was apt, and yet could do little to to prevent the scourge of highwaymen.

What did prove effective against the highwayman was a structural adjustment, i.e., the invention/introduction of bank drafts and cheques, the innovation of transferring money through the use of a document rather than physically bearing one’s riches (gold, silver and other valuables were untraceable and could be used by anyone) instruments which could then be tracked and canceled if they were stolen (and a new draft reissued) thus making useless those stolen by the highwayman.

A paradigm shift, something for President Calderón to consider as he enters the sunset of his governing tenure...

[1] Tovrov, Daniel (2011 Sept 5) Mexico's Drug War: Can President Calderon Win? International Business Times. Retrieved Sept 5, 2011 from

[2] ibid.

[3] ibid.

[4] But, Calderón is incorrect in thinking that the problem solely rests from being a neighbour to such a voracious consumer for Canada is as well yet does not suffer from the atrocious deaths and powerful TCOs that plague Mexico. Why is this? This is where the finger has to point back to himself, his fellow politicians, and the elite who control the wealth and resources of the country (with no intention of sharing), of the corruption that runs throughout all levels of government and without any serious efforts to bring about reform, accountability or transparency. For a count of those killed since President Calderón came to power see:

[5] Housworth, Gordon (2011, July 19) 'Narco-tanks': Cartel Competition Elevates to Asymmetrical Weapons. Insight Crime. Retrieved September 05, 2011 from

[5] Wilkinson, Tracy and Ken Ellingwood, (2010, December 29) Mexico army's failures hamper drug war. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 22, 2011 from

[6] Laplante, Matther D. (2011, February 07). Army official suggests U.S. troops might be needed in Mexico. The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved April 22, 2011 from

For a map of the killings: click: Narco-killings
Website: WM Consulting

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Department of Justice Says Mexican Cartels Operating in More Than 1,000 U.S. Cities

Two Years Ago, DoJ Said Cartels Were in 230 U.S. Cities

WASHINGTON, DC -- A newly released report by the U.S. Department of Justice shows that Mexican drug cartels are rapidly gaining ground inside the United States, despite expensive efforts by the government to crack down on trafficking. In light of the findings, a group of border patrol agents, police officers and judges is saying that it is time to legalize and regulate drugs in order to de-fund the cartels that make so much money from the illicit drug market.

"As someone who fought on the front lines of the failed 'war on drugs' for decades it is really no surprise to me that our prohibition policy isn't helping to achieve any reduction in drug trafficking," said Terry Nelson, a board member for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and a retired U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent. "We should have learned this lesson decades ago with alcohol prohibition, but let's hope that the data in this new government report helps more members of Congress and Obama administration officials to realize that their 'drug war' strategy is an abysmal failure and that it's time for a new direction."

The DoJ report, the 2011 National Drug Threat Assessment, says that Mexican criminal organizations have set up shop in more than a thousand U.S. cities, a sharp rise from the 230 cities reported in the 2009 assessment. The new report also says that, "The threat posed by the trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs will not abate in the near term and may increase."

In a separate recently leaked memo, U.S. Customs and Border Protection admits that enforcement operations against the cartels have no "discernible impact on drug flows."

"Innocent civilians and hardworking law enforcement officers are dying every day because of our failed policies," said Nelson. "The fact that we keep ramping up the 'drug war' instead of changing course is unconscionable."

The 2011 National Drug Threat Assessment can be found at

The leaked memo from U.S. Customs and Border Protection can be found at

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 8, 2011
CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or

Monday, September 5, 2011

Phoenix PD Lost Explosives at Sky Harbor

Phoenix PD Lost one pound of Explosives while training at Sky Harbor airport. Someone just picked up the bag with the explosives, and took it home....

Local news just showed the vehicle that took the explosives. People and officers are a block or so away, waiting for the bomb squad.

You think they would watch explosives. a little closer......

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Black Government Employees Call for End to Racially Biased “War on Drugs”

Group Joins Police Officers in Calling for Move Toward Legalization

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Blacks in Government (BIG), a group representing the interests of African-American government employees at the federal, state, county and municipal levels, overwhelmingly passed a resolution at its national delegates meeting last week calling for an end to the failed and racially biased “war on drugs.” The resolution, which will be delivered to President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, calls for “alternatives to incarceration that may, in part, include a model to regulate and control the distribution of some drugs.”

The resolution pointed to the words of Maryland State Police Major Neill Franklin and U.S. Marshal Matthew Fogg, both members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of police, judges, prosecutors and prison wardens who support legalizing and regulating drugs. BIG and LEAP have noted that African Americans constitute 53.5 percent of all persons who entered prison because of a drug conviction despite the fact that blacks are no more likely than whites to use drugs.

“I personally witnessed racially biased enforcement procedures when I ran a joint DEA task force,” said Fogg, a former U.S. marshal and a past BIG national first vice president. “When I requested equal enforcement of upscale suburban areas, I met internal resistance.”

The BIG resolution calls for “a federal investigation for solutions to eliminate the pretense and continued arrest and incarceration of African Americans at extraordinarily disparate rates for drug related charges.”

In passing the anti-drug-war resolution, BIG joins other African-American groups that have taken similar positions, such as the NAACP, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators and the National Black Police Association.

“The war on drugs has put blacks behind bars for drug offenses at more than ten times the rate of whites, even though the evidence consistently shows that blacks are no more likely to use or sell currently illicit drugs than whites are,” Fogg added. “It is time to end this virtual race war.”

The full text of the BIG resolution can be seen at

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents, U.S. marshals and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. Info at

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CONTACT: Tom Angell – (202) 557-4979 or

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Opium Wars

Carel Edwards is the former head of the European Commission's Anti-Drug Policy Coordination Unit. His insightful blog - Opium Wars - is focused on the politics of the global drug war. Here is an except from his latest post:

How long will it take for our feeble and election-hungry politicians to take their eyes off the economy and to recognise that the bells are tolling for traditional prohibition of drugs and for the UN Conventions on drugs, at least in their present form. If they persist in "fighting" rather than regulating and reducing the side effects, we should expect a gradual slide into a form of society in which organised crime plays a major part in mainstream politics and in ordinary people's lives. Try to explain that to your children.

LEAP is fortunate to have him as a member of our advisory board!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Colorado Cop and Judge Collect Signatures for 2012 Marijuana Legalization Initiative

 Former Law Enforcers Say Marijuana Prohibition Has Failed and Harms Public Safety

 DENVER, CO --  Police officers, judges and other criminal justice professionals who once enforced Colorado's marijuana prohibition laws are now helping to get an initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana onto the state's 2012 ballot. This Wednesday a former Denver cop and a former Lafayette judge will participate in a signature gathering drive to support the new initiative by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

"During my 36 years as a Denver cop I arrested more people for marijuana than I care to remember, but it didn't amount to one bit of good for our citizens," said Tony Ryan, a former officer with the Denver Police Department and a board member for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. "Keeping marijuana illegal doesn't do anything to reduce marijuana use, but it does benefit the gangs and cartels who control the currently illegal marijuana trade."

WHO: Cop and judge who support legalizing marijuana
WHAT: Signature gathering effort for 2012 marijuana initiative
WHEN: Wednesday, August 3 at 1:00 PM MT
WHERE: In front of the Denver City and County building, 1437 Bannock St., Denver

Another member of LEAP, former Lafayette judge Leonard Frieling, added, "When so many murders, rapes and robberies go unsolved, it makes absolutely no sense to keep taking up space in our courtrooms and jails with people arrested for marijuana possession. And even on the distribution end, no matter how many drug cartels and gangs we bust, there are always more criminals willing to step up and risk their lives and freedom for a chance at lucrative black market profits. Our state's voters have the power to strike a bigger blow against organized crime with this initiative to treat marijuana like alcohol than any amount of skill and dedication in the criminal justice system ever can."

The anti-prohibition law enforcers are just a few members of a huge statewide effort to collect signatures to place the marijuana legalization initiative on next year's ballot. More information about the initiative and details about how to get involved in the signature gathering drive can be found at

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens, federal agents and others who want to legalize and regulate marijuana after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition is not only ineffective but causes violence and crime. More info is available at

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NEWS ADVISORY: August 2, 2011
CONTACT: Tom Angell, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition - (202) 557-4979 or
                 Mason Tvert, initiative proponent  - (720) 255-4340 or

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Former Indiana Corrections Officer Testifies for Marijuana Legalization

 Study Committee Weighs Overhaul of Indiana's Marijuana Laws at Thursday Hearing

 INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- A former officer with the Indiana Department of Corrections will testify in favor of legalizing marijuana before a special study committee of the state legislature on Thursday. The study committee will be evaluating the state's marijuana laws and considering alternatives such as legalization with taxation, decriminalization and medical marijuana.

Chad Padgett, a former corrections and youth services officer from Walton, will testify that, "Marijuana prohibition does not work and never has. As alcohol prohibition showed, making a drug illegal is the single most effective way to put it in control of violent gangs and drug cartels. By prohibiting marijuana, government gives up the right to control and regulate its production, distribution, and consumption. If marijuana was brought above-ground as a legal industry, we could regain control over it."

WHO: Former corrections officer who supports marijuana legalization, other advocates
WHAT: Hearing of Indiana Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee
WHEN: Thursday, July 28 at 1:00 PM
WHERE: Room 431, State House, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, Indiana

Padgett is speaker for the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an international group of police officers, judges, corrections officials, border agents and other criminal justice professionals who have witnessed the failures of the so-called "war on drugs" firsthand.

"We can have safe streets or marijuana prohibition, but not both," Padgett will testify. "We can prioritize violent crime and reserve horribly expensive and limited prison space for those who injure, kill, steal and cheat others, or we can continue to prioritize a war on drugs which has not succeeded by any measure."

Ceasing to arrest people for marijuana and regulating and taxing its sales could lead to more than $182 million a year in law enforcement savings and new revenue for Indiana, according to Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron.

"We have limited amounts of tax dollars, and the public has told us stop spending money," Sen. Karen Tallian, a leading champion for reevaluating the state's marijuana laws, told the Associated Press earlier this year. "So I think we need to examine now if we want to spend our tax dollars on marijuana arrests or on public education. Do we want to spend it on marijuana arrests or infrastructure?"

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens, federal agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at

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NEWS ADVISORY: July 27, 2011
CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

NAACP says end the "war on drugs"

The NAACP has just joined the list of prominent organizations and individuals calling for a major paradigm shift away from the failed and punitive "war on drugs" and toward a health-based approach with a resolution passed today at the organization's national conference in Los Angeles.

Neill Franklin, an African American former narcotics cop from Baltimore and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, presented on the need to end the "war on drugs" at the NAACP conference yesterday, and had this to say about the passage of the resolution:
"The NAACP has been on the forefront of the struggle for civil rights and social justice in this country for over a century. The fact that these leaders are joining others like the National Black Police Association in calling for an end to the 'war on drugs' should be a wake up call to those politicians - including and especially President Obama - who still have not come to terms with the devastation that the 'drug war' causes in our society and especially in communities of color."
Here's video of Neill presenting at an NAACP criminal justice summit in March:

NAACP's official press release follows.


President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous: Major step towards equity, justice, effective law enforcement

Contact: Ben Wrobel

(917) 846-0658

(Los Angeles, CA) – Today the NAACP passed a historic resolution calling for an end to the war on drugs.  The resolution was voted on by a majority of delegates at the 102nd NAACP Annual Convention in Los Angeles, CA.  The overall message of the resolution is captured by its title: A Call to End the War on Drugs, Allocate Funding to Investigate Substance Abuse Treatment, Education, and Opportunities in Communities of Color for A Better Tomorrow. 

“Today the NAACP has taken a major step towards equity, justice and effective law enforcement,” stated Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP.  “These flawed drug policies that have been mostly enforced in African American communities must be stopped and replaced with evidenced-based practices that address the root causes of drug use and abuse in America.” 

The resolution outlines the facts about the failed drug war, highlighting that the U.S. spends over $40 billion annually on the war on drugs, locking up low-level drug offenders – mostly from communities of color.  African Americans are in fact 13 times more likely to go to jail for the same drug-related offense than their white counterparts.

“Studies show that all racial groups abuse drugs at similar rates, but the numbers also show that African Americans, Hispanics and other people of color are stopped, searched, arrested, charged, convicted, and sent to prison for drug-related charges at a much higher rate,” stated Alice Huffman, President of the California State Conference of the NAACP.  “This dual system of drug law enforcement that serves to keep African-Americans and other minorities under lock and key and in prison must be exposed and eradiated.

”Instead of sending drug offenders to prison, the resolution calls for the creation and expansion of rehabilitation and treatment programs, methadone clinics, and other treatment protocols that have been proven effective.

“We know that the war on drugs has been a complete failure because in the forty years that we’ve been waging this war, drug use and abuse has not gone down,” stated Robert Rooks, Director of the NAACP Criminal Justice Program. “The only thing we’ve accomplished is becoming the world’s largest incarcerator, sending people with mental health and addiction issues to prison, and creating a system of racial disparities that rivals Jim Crow policies of the 1960’s.”

Once ratified by the board of directors in October, the resolution will encourage the more than 1200 active NAACP units across the country to organize campaigns to advocate for the end of the war on drugs. 

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Jersey Narc Supports New Bipartisan Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

Assembly Bill Would Let Cops Focus on Violent Crimes

--  A bill to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana was introduced in the New Jersey General Assembly with bipartisan support on Wednesday. The bill, which is being endorsed by a group of police and judges who once waged the "war on drugs," comes less than a month after Connecticut legislators passed similar legislation decriminalizing marijuana.

Jack Cole, a 26-year veteran of the New Jersey State Police and board chairman for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, said, "As a former undercover narcotics detective in New Jersey, I now know that all the time and resources I spent arresting people for marijuana offenses over the course of my career didn't accomplish anything good. In addition to being a waste of money that should have been spent solving and preventing violent crimes, these arrests in many cases ruined otherwise productive people's lives. The marijuana decriminalization bill is a great first step to undoing some of the damage wrought by the failed 'war on drugs.'"

The New Jersey bill, A4252, would remove criminal penalties for adults who posses less than 15 grams of marijuana.  It is sponsored by Assemblymen Reed Gusciora (D) and Michael Patrick Carroll (R) with 15 additional co-sponsors.

Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron estimates that New Jersey currently spends more than $183 million every year enforcing its marijuana prohibition laws. In 2009, 22,439 people in New Jersey were arrested for possessing less than 50 grams of marijuana.

Rachel Cotrino, an attorney and Board member at NORML NJ, said, “In addition to imprisonment, offenders of the current law face loss of driving privileges from six months to two years. This unreasonably punitive measure causes many, otherwise law abiding citizens, to lose their jobs because they cannot get to work. Offenders also face eviction from their leased premises or loss of public housing.  It is time to decriminalize the individual user and remove the current penalties that stifle our community and economy.”

Fourteen states in the U.S. have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, federal agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at

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CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

First-Ever Marijuana Legalization Bill Introduced in U.S. Congress

Cops Say the War on Marijuana Has Failed, Let States End Prohibition

WASHINGTON, DC -- The first-ever Congressional bill to let states legalize marijuana will be introduced in the U.S. House by a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers on Thursday, and a group of police and judges who fought on the front lines of the failed "war on drugs" is announcing its support.

Neill Franklin, a former Baltimore narcotics cop and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, said, "Clearly the 'war on drugs' has failed, and nowhere is that more clear than with respect to marijuana. It baffles me that we arrest nearly 800,000 people on marijuana charges in this country each and every year at taxpayer expense when we could instead be taking in new tax revenue from legal and regulated marijuana sales. Making marijuana illegal hasn't prevented anyone from using it, but it has created a huge funding source that funnels billions of dollars in tax-free profits to violent drug cartels and gangs. More and more cops now agree: Legalizing marijuana will improve public safety."

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), would essentially end the federal government's bullying of states when it comes to marijuana policy reform. Initial co-sponsors include Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO).

The bill's introduction comes in the wake of last week's 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon declaring the "war on drugs," which the group of pro-legalization police officers commemorated by releasing a new report that they attempted to hand-deliver to Obama administration drug czar Gil Kerlikowske:

There are expected to be marijuana legalization initiatives on next year's ballots in at least three states: California, Colorado and Washington.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, federal agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at

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CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or
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