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War on Drugs

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War on Drugs

Throughout history drugs have been nothing but a social problem, a burden per say. From Edgar Allen Poe smoking opium in an attempt to make his poetry more creative, to Vietnam soldiers coming back from the war addicted to heroin. Narcotics was not a serious issue at the time, only a small hand full of people were actually doing the drugs, and they were just simply looked down upon. It was not until the late nineteen sixties when recreational drug use became fashionable among young, white, middle class American citizens, that the United States Government "put it's foot down". (pbs.com) They started slowly ,developing agencies like the (BNDD) Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, which was founded in 1968 by the Linden Johnson administration. Congress also started passing laws like the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act in 1970.

It was not until June 17, 1971 when the war on drugs truly began.

At a press conference in the White House, President Richard J. Nixon officially declared war on drugs. He stated, "drug abuse is public enemy, number one in the United States."

He also announced the creation of (SAODAP) Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention. Three years later on August 9, 1974, President Nixon resigns, but not before founding one the greatest assets for the war on drugs, the (DEA) Drug Enforcement Agency. Established in July of 1973, this "super agency" (pbs.com) consisted of agents from the CIA, Customs and ODALE. This agency was designed to handle all aspects of the drug problem in America and would be headed Myles Ambrose.

Throughout the first years of the program the DEA was established their main focus was to stop the flow of marijuana from Mexico to America. Around the mid seventies the "enemy" face began to change, the enemy was now cocaine and it was coming from the country of Colombia. On November 22, 1975 the Colombian police seized over 600 kilos of cocaine from a small plane at the Cali Airport. The plane was believed to be headed to Miami, Florida. The amount of cocaine that was seized that day was the largest cocaine bust to date.

The DEA, along with other agencies, are still fighting cocaine and many other

drugs to this day. One of the reasons the war on drugs is lasting so long is because of the cost; the war on drugs is a very expense war. In the past, the government has spent around 10 billion dollars a years, this year alone (2002) the United States is excepted to spend over 19 billion on law enforcement for the war on drugs along, that's $ 609 per second. The reason the cost is so high is because there are so many different agencies and programs that need financial aid. Programs such as D.A.R.E, and the "Just Say No"

Anti-drug campaign. The "Just Say No" campaign was founded by Nancy Reagan

in 1984, it focused on white, middle class children and was the centerpiece of the Reagan

Administration's anti-drug campaign. The campaign mainly consisted of TV commercials and public advertisement, to keep kids from trying drugs.

When the war on drugs first began to take shape in the early seventies, the government wanted to know where the illicit substances were coming from. At first the answer was simply Mexico, they had previously imported in all of the marijuana in the sixties. The simple "mom and pop" cartels (warondrugs.com) (small businesses) would grow the marijuana in their own backyard and smuggle it over the border into southern Texas. This and much larger operations are known as the "Trafficking" of drugs. After a few years of smuggling the government caught on, so customs started cracking down on the border. This made the smuggler go to the air, they began using airplanes to get over the border. The Mexican smuggling business began to slow down though, due to stricter regulations on customs and border patrol. The lack of business was also due to another factor; America's drug of choice had changed. America now had a taste for cocaine and it was coming from the country of Colombia. Cocaine which is an extract of the cocoa bean, is grown all over the country of Colombia.

The country of Colombia is a nation made of poverty and corruption. It's main cash crop is coffee, but in reality it's cocaine. It is speculated that in Colombia alone, there is over 150,000 hectares of coco plantations. Colombia depends on cocaine; " it is estimated 300,000 people are directly dependent on the cocaine economy". (icdc.com) Thousands of people are assassinated and kidnapped every year in Columbia, do to political violence. In 1989, three of the five Colombian presidential candidates were murdered; the Medellin drug cartel was mainly reasonable for these violent atrocities.

Medellin is one of Colombia's biggest cities; it is located in central Columbia.

Throughout the early seventies to the early nineties, Medellin was the cocaine capital of the world. In fact anyone using cocaine between the late seventies, early eighties there's an 85 percent chance that the cocaine the person was using came from the Medellin Cartel. They invented the market for cocaine; they were the first people to ever be that successful in selling dope. The Medellin Cartel consisted of many people but, there was one man who controlled it all, the key figure on the other end of the war on drugs, the kingpin himself Pablo Escobar "El Doctor". (qtd. in Bowden 5) Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria was born December 1, 1949, to Hermilda and Senor Pablo Escobar, in Medellin, Columbia. "He grew up with the cruelty and the terror alive in the hills around his native Medillin." (qtd. in bowden 14) Pablo was born in the must violent of times in Columbia, "La Violenica" a time of civil war in Columbia. Around 1965 when Pablo was just 17, he dropped out of school, then began selling cocaine, by 1976 he was arrested, but this did not stop him. By 1982 Pablo had become so powerful that he was elected congressman on the Columbian Parliament. He also purchased one of Columbia's popular professional soccer teams. By this time in Colombia, Pablo was looked at as a sort of "Robin Hood" (pbs.com) buying mass apartment complexes for the poor to live in, the poor loved him. He was unstoppable, that was until 1989, Pablo helped coordinate a terrorist campaign that shot down an Avianca airliner out of the sky. His men shot down the plane in attempt to kill the only presidential candidate in the Columbian election. After this incident the U.S. government

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