Helping the DEA
by Fred Reed: A
Culture in Regression
I see that
I may have to take over drug policy for the United States. Maybe
not, though. Ill hold off if I get a call from Michelle Leonhart,
who runs the Drug Enforcement Administration, asking me how she
ought to do her job, and what she ought to think about Mexico, and
what is wrong with Washingtons whole approach to mind candy.
(Im expecting her call any day now.) I will answer as follows:
Now, look here,
Ma'am. You need to rethink this drug thing. Its not going
well. It isnt going to go well. The Bare Skirmish on Drugs
(BSkOD) may have seemed a good idea when Reefer
Madness came out, or even in the Sixties a half century
ago. Now, no. Everyone with the brains of a microwave oven knows
that DEA serves only to keep prices up so that the narcos in Mexico
can afford classy military weaponry and gorgeous mansions.
the fault of DEA. In my days on the police desk I knew a fair few
DEA guys, including the magnificent Frank White and
They were ballsy, smart, savvy, and realistic cowboys, the best
company I can imagine. They did their jobs as well as they could
which, under the circumstances, was well indeed.
them. Fact is, though, DEA as an organization aint done jack-shit
about drugs. Im sorry, but there it is. Its like a law
of logic. If you set out to do something impossible, you wont
do it. Thats DEA.
A little history
if I may. In the Sixties, when mind candy went universal, we had
pot, acid, shrooms, mescaline, and various amphetamines. Scag was
a ghetto drug for strung-out crashers like William Burroughs, coke
mostly unknown, and crack nonexistent.
later. To my certain knowledge, today in suburban Washington, as
for example at Washington and Lee High where my daughters did time,
kids can buy all the aforementioned goodies, plus nitrous, Ecstasy,
crystal and, within a five-minute drive, there may still be an open-air
crack market in the parking lot of Green Valley pharmacy. Crack
isnt a kid drug, but it is easily available all over Washington.
know all sorts of people in their sixties now, veterans of Dong
Ha or Woodstock, some of them vets of both, and most of them do
grass and not infrequently hallucinogens. Im talking door-gunners,
Special Forces guys, at least two Ivy profs, just plain people.
So, Michelle, what exactly has the War on Half the Population accomplished?
arent protecting kids in high school, or even middle school,
from becoming drooling stoners living in dumpsters. They have easier
access to drugs than you do. What protects kids from becoming needle-cases
is I am aware of the preposterousness of this the common
sense of teenagers. They arent druggies because they dont
want to be. They arent alkies because they dont want
to be. Most dont smoke because they dont want to. DEA
has nothing to do with it. Kids could easily do all of these things.
America is up to the armpits in drugs, tobacco, and booze.
So you see,
Michelle, the DEA is like a man sitting on a raft in mid-Pacific,
trying to outlaw water.
Now we come,
tangentially anyway, to Mexico. It is being torn apart, toward God
knows what future, because it lives next to the worlds most
gluttonous market for drugs. It seems to Mexicans that Washington
is forcing them to die for a BSkoD that Washington wont fight
on its own soil.
Is this unreasonable
suspicion? Why is it unreasonable?
A couple of
things you might do to persuade Mexico that you really want to do
dont you put a youngish DEA guy, or gal, in each of about
ten universities chosen at random: say, Harvard, Yale, Princeton,
Harvard Medical, Julliard, Haverford, Berkeley, UCLA, and Dartmouth.
(I say theyre random). See, young agents could rig their apartments
for sound and video. In six months you could arrest hundreds of
children of senators, Fortune Five Hundred CEOs, and people high
in the Executive branch. You could give them the same sentences
that slum blacks get. Think of the headlines: Senators
Kid Gets Five Years in the General Population in Leavenworth.
Is that a concept or what?
you dont do this for reasons of politics. Mexicans just dont
understand the essential probity of America.
you could do to demonstrate your good faith: You could ask Congress
to legislate that people selling drugs to children in high school
be tried as adults. Since most of these dealers are themselves in
high school, you could put the daughters of lawyers in womens
slam in places like the Cook County Jail. Think how many interesting
things they could learn about compulsory lesbian sex.
I mean, you
are sincere about wanting to punish dealers, arent you?
OK. More and
more I see suggestions that the US send troops to Mexico to Right
Wrongs and make Mexico into Iowa. The Pentagon is sneaking psychopaths
of the CIA and retired military men into the country,
apparently wanting to showcase its systemic incapacity to win any
war against anybody at all. Here is a chance for you to do something
useful. DEA agents are not idiots, but colonels are.
You might try
to drill into the Pentagonal mind I would suggest a cold
chisel and a sledge hammer that Mexico differs in a fundamental
way from the militarys other comic efforts at martial enterprise:
The narcos have a million gringo hostages. Or maybe five hundred
thousand. Nobody is sure exactly how many Americans live in Mexico.
They we are very soft targets. We live in a sort of
sprawl across Mexico, concentrated in places well known, grouping
in known bars, unarmed and utterly defenseless.
A minor contact
I have with the bad guys says that, now, attacking Americans carries
a death sentence from people who would carry it out with a blow
torch over a period of days. Oh no. Dont fuck with the
gringos, says this guy. Like most Mexicans, the narcos figure
the US is looking for a pretext to invade. They are happy with the
current semi-partnership with Washington and dont want interference.
But piss these
bad boys off they are very, very bad boys and they could
begin killing gringos by hundreds. Logically it would be an easy
way of putting pressure on Washington to back off. Washington could
write off aging vets living on disability from Nam, but a lot of
expats here live in houses costing a million doomed green dollars.
Tell you what,
Michelle. You folks at DEA know whats out there. You know
who the narcos are, and what they are, and what they are capable
of doing. Maybe you could explain it to people a lot dumber than
you are, such as soldiers, pols, and combative columnists in panties
at the Washington Post. What think?
is author of Nekkid
in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well and A
Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Be. His latest
book is Curmudgeing
Through Paradise: Reports from a Fractal Dung Beetle. Visit
© 2011 Fred Reed
Best of Fred Reed