by the Prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the
government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be
enforced. - Albert Einstein
The D.E.A. now has five commando-style squads it has been quietly deploying for the past several years to Western Hemisphere nations — including Haiti, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Belize — that are battling drug cartels.
The program — called FAST, for Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team — was created during the George W. Bush administration to investigate Taliban-linked drug traffickers in Afghanistan. Beginning in 2008 and continuing under President Obama, it has expanded far beyond the war zone.
The evolution of the program into a global enforcement arm reflects the United States’ growing reach in combating drug cartels and how policy makers increasingly are blurring the line between law enforcement and military activities, fusing elements of the “war on drugs” with the “war on terrorism.”
The war on drugs is beginning to resemble a real war now more than ever before.
It’s not just the horrifying death toll in places like Mexico and Honduras, it’s the method of American interdiction: Small, commando-style units have busted drug rings and killed dealers in foreign countries. Anti-drug agencies are taking a page from the counter-terrorism playbook.
But the conflicts are different and the tactics don’t always translate. As one critic of the new war on drugs says, its impossible to kill your way out of this problem.
Residents of the isolated Mosquito Coast of Honduras have burned down government buildings and are demanding that American drug agents leave the area immediately, intensifying a dispute over whether an antidrug operation there last week left four innocent people dead, including two pregnant women.
“For centuries we have been a peaceful people who live in harmony with nature, but today we declared these Americans to be persona non grata in our territory,” [local leaders] said in a press statement.
“I was the personal photographer of Bolivian general Hugo Banzer during his 1997 presidential campaign. After he won, I asked him to send me somewhere to document something exciting. He selected the Chapare Province of Cochabamba, where I embedded with Bolivia’s Mobile Police Unit for Rural Areas (UMOPAR) from 1997 to 2001. In its heyday, the unit was a highly specialized and DEA-funded subsidiary of Bolivia’s Special Antinarcotics Force, and my assignment was to document its efficiency and success.”
Drug Enforcement Administration agents working with members of the Honduran military were involved in the killing of two pregnant women and two men, all of them innocent, last Friday [May 11].
The deceased victims included two young men, Emerson Martínez and Chalo Brock Wood, and two women, Candelaria Tratt Nelson and Juana Banegas — both of whom were pregnant. According to Congressman Wood Grawell Maylo of the department of Gracias a Dios and the Mayor of Ahuas, Lucio Baquedano, the attack was carried out in the early morning by a helicopter unit consisting of Honduran police and members of the United Stated Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). They said that the unit mistook the targeted boat for another boat that was being used by drug traffickers.
El Tiempo reported that the two boats had passed each other in the early morning at about the time that the motorboat with the drug traffickers was being pursued by the helicopter. Mr. Baquedano said, “The boat with the narcos did not have a light, while the one with the passengers did have a light… which made it a visible target for the agents who were firing from the helicopter.” He said that the drug traffickers abandoned their boat and escaped up the coast in the direction of El Patuca.
Villagers rioted in protest, burning down government buildings and demanding that agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), who participated in the operation as part of a commando-style Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST), leave the area and stay out.
spreading ‘good will’ around the world: the dea’s presence in central america is expanding:
Honduras is a growing focus of American counternarcotics efforts aimed at the drug cartels that have increasingly sought to use its ungoverned spaces as a way point in shipping cocaine from South America to the United States.
In November 2011, The New York Times reported that the DEA has deployed five “commando-style squads” in Central America and the Caribbean, including Honduras, to combat drug cartels. Each team consists of 10 specially-trained agents with military experience. The operation is part of the Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST) program established under President George. W. Bush in response to drug trafficking associated with the Taliban in Afghanistan. The program is reportedly overseen by former Navy SEAL Richard Dobrich. The Pentagon provides most of the training, equipment, and transport for the DEA squads.
The Real Breaking Bad: How the Drug War Creates Collateral Damage
DEA “FAST Team” in Afghanistan
F.A.S.T. = Foreign-deployed Advisory and Support Teams
this is madness
The DEA in Afghanistan
WikiLeaks Highlights Drug War Mission Creep | Antiwar.com (January 2011)
According to The New York Times, which has access to a cache of DEA-related State Department cables, the DEA now has 87 offices in 63 countries – pretty much double the number of countries from 20 years ago, before 9/11. Today, the Global War on Terror has infused the drug interdiction agency with an expanded mission as a paramilitary and intelligence-gathering agency on par with the CIA and U.S. Special Forces overseas.
[…] Welcome to Drug Hunters International, which, for all of the $2.1 billion in taxpayer funding the agency gets in a year, has accomplished very little by way of the metrics: the illegal drug industry is considered as lucrative and even more dangerous than ever, particularly in neighboring Mexico, while the situation in Afghanistan – counter-terror and counter-narcotic alike – is on a widely accepted downward trajectory.
[…] Of course, that the U.S. has set up secret wiretapping programs with the aid of foreign governments all over the world, particularly in South America, where it has been operating heavily for years, is no surprise. The New York Times was perfectly right when it said the cables “do not offer large disclosures.” But they paint an interesting portrait of classic mission creep, of a bureaucracy constantly reinventing and recalibrating itself to maintain its significance in the annual budget; and most importantly, how the war on terror has been used to advance those goals for the DEA. By no means is it the only agency doing it, but it is certainly the most obvious.
Daniel Chong, the UC San Diego student who was left in a Drug Enforcement Agency holding cell for nearly five days, said the time spent in his cell was a life-altering experience.
[…] Chong said he was at a friend’s house in University City celebrating 4/20, a day many marijuana users set aside to smoke, when agents came inside and raided the residence. Chong was then taken to the DEA office in Kearny Mesa.
He said agents questioned him, and then told him he could go home. One agent even offered him a ride, Chong said. No criminal charges were filed against him.
But Chong did not go home that night. Instead, he was placed in a cell for five days without any human contact and was not given food or drink. In his desperation, he said he was forced to drink his own urine.
“I had to do what I had to do to survive….I hallucinated by the third day,” Chong said. “I was completely insane.”
Chong said he lost roughly 15 pounds during the time he was alone. His lawyer confirmed that Chong ingested a powdery substance found inside the cell. Later testing revealed the substance was methamphetamine.
After days of being ignored, Chong said he tried to take his own life by breaking the glass from his spectacles with his teeth and then carving “Sorry mom,” on his wrists. He said nurses also found pieces of glass in his throat, which led him to believe he ingested the pieces purposefully.
Chong said he could hear DEA employees and people in neighboring cells. He screamed to let them know he was there, but no one replied. He kicked the door, but no one came to get him.
By the time DEA officers found Chong in his cell Wednesday morning Chong was completely incoherent, said Iredale.
Medical marijuana advocates on Tuesday vowed to reopen a San Francisco-area college devoted to cannabis cultivation and known as the “Princeton of Pot” a day after federal agents shut down the school in a raid.
Hundreds of protesters rallied in front of San Francisco’s City Hall, some on crutches and in wheelchairs and smoking hand-rolled joints. The demonstrators carried signs that said, “Cannabis is medicine; let states regulate” and chanting “Feds off my meds.”
statement from oaksterdam university founder richard lee:
On Monday, April 2, my school - Oaksterdam University in Oakland - was raided by the DEA, IRS, and US Marshals. Oaksterdam provides training to the medical cannabis industry, and is fully compliant with state and local law.
President Obama promised at the beginning of his administration to respect state medical marijuana laws. He has broken this promise time and time again - and the consequences have been devastating.
This was a senseless act of intimidation. But I’ve been an activist far too long to become intimidated - and with the majority of Americans and common sense on our side, I know this is a fight we can win.
With our government trillions in debt, why is our government using taxpayer dollars to come after me, Oaksterdam, and the thousands of patients who need medical marijuana just to get through the day?
Tell President Obama and the DEA: Enough is enough. Keep your campaign promise, and stop the raids on the medical cannabis industry!
Thanks for your support, Richard Lee
RALLY TODAY IN SAN FRANCISCO! TUESDAY APRIL 3, 2012
BAY AREA UNITY MEDICAL CANNABIS RALLY
Tues, April 3rd - SF City Hall 11 AM - Polk St. Entrance
Followed by Noon March to the U.S. Federal Bldg, 450 Golden Gate
via California NORML
Large turnout expected, especially since Oaksterdam University was raided yesterday by federal authorities: Feds raid “Princeton of Pot” in California | Reuters
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EVENTS @ University of New Hampshire
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Event tonight @ Columbia University: Traumatized: The War on Drugs, Child Abuse, and the Teen Treatment Industry