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......
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