Cultural Baggage / December 05, 2010


(Guitar music with sounds of screeching tires and massive shots fired)

Plata o plomo.

It’s the silver or the lead
Just thank the Drug War
Take the money or your dead
America’s drunk on prohibition
Addicted of eternal Drug War
So in need of invention
It’s denial all the while
The drug lords are laughing
All the way to the bank


Aw, yes. Welcome to Cultural Baggage. My Name is Dean Becker. A bit later, we’ll be hearing from Daniel Robelo of the Drug Policy Alliance. First, I have an opening thought here.

Do we continue feeding $385 billion per year into the coffers of the black market profiteers? Do we continue to arrest 1.8 billion of our citizens each year for plant products? Do we continue to allow US high schools to be the number one distribution point for drugs made by untrained chemists and cut with dangerous household products or not?

In that our Drug War policy means that we constantly the feed Taliban cash cow, means that we encourage the barbarity in Mexico and gives reason for the violent gangs in the US and around the world. What is the benefit? What have we derived from this ninety six year old policy that offsets the horrible blowback that I’ve just listed?

That’s what we’re going to be talking about to today. Our first guest, the Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Mister Neill Franklin. Hello, sir.

Neill Franklin: Dean, how are you tonight?

Dean Becker: I’m good Neill, I hope you got to hear some of that introduction. It’s becoming an absurdity, the continuance of this policy. Is it not?

Neill Franklin: Oh, I think we’ve all already – I think we’ve been there from a while now.

Dean Becker: Yes, sir.

Neill Franklin: Yeah, it’s pretty bad and there’s no end in sight. At least, well not yet but we’re going to get there

Dean Becker: Yeah, we are. Now Neil, let’s talk about – briefly, about your law enforcement carrier.

Neill Franklin: Sure, Dean. Just real quick, for the listeners I’ve got thirty-three-plus years in the business of law enforcement. I started back in the mid-1970s with the Maryland State Police. I spent most of my time there in narcotics enforcement. I worked the streets as an undercover agent and then went into management, where I commanded numerous drug task forces; thirteen at one time, one for the northeast part of state of Maryland and these were multi-jurisdictional task forces. So, it involved state police, local police agencies and as well as the DEA. I then went for the training division of the Maryland State Police.

In 1999, I was recruited by the Baltimore police department to come command their training division and I – while there, my last year there I managed the budget for the agency, personal, human resources, training the fleet. I pretty much had all the resources for the agency.

I then went on to a third agency from there to command the criminal investigative bureau for the Maryland Transit Administration Police force, which involved all internal investigations, criminal investigations, narcotic investigations, as well as homeland security issues and initiatives.

Dean Becker: Ok, now I wanted you to share that with the listeners, so they can understand that you know where you’re coming form. You have been in the trenches of that Drug War. You have much mud on your boots it’s up to your elbows, right?

Neill Franklin: Yeah. Yeah, I’m still scraping some of it off.

Dean Becker: (Laughs) Now this brings to mind another question I want to go into and I’ve heard some rumors, perhaps some truth to the fact that the members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the speakers, of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, those with that mud on said boots are perhaps writing a book to talk about, I guess, how Saul turned to Paul. Is that what’s going on?

Neill Franklin: Yeah, that’s something we’re going to try to begin in 2011. It’s going to be part of our strategic plan for the next five years, but to begin it next year. We have a number of drug warriors, former drug warriors in our organization and they have been through so much as it relates to the war on drugs and it’s about time that we put that to paper and share it with the millions of people who are out there wondering what we should do as it relates to our war on drugs.

Dean Becker: I’ve talked to a few other speakers within LEAP and there is a bit of a – what shell I say here – a need to do mea culpa for some of these folks on what they did. Even our former director, Jack Cole, told me in that in the early days, they would go in and find an ounce of cocaine and they would throw it in with a bag of sugar, mix it up and say viola, major felony.

Neill Franklin: Um, hum.

Dean Becker: That’s just not just uncommon, is it?

Neill Franklin: No, it’s not and some of the other things that you know we did, we as undercover agents and it still happen s today, you know we’ll approach someone and try to get some information from them as to where we can buy narcotics or drugs and what have you.

Of course, after a while of feeding on that person, well you know you can go get it from person here. They give use a contact person and we just don’t go arrest the person who we eventual buy from, we then go back and arrest the person that gave us the information and lock them up for conspiracy.

Dean Becker: Yeah, it’s— (laughs)

Neill Franklin: That’s just a small piece of it and it’s a long story

Dean Becker: Well and again, when you figure there are some several thousand, two to four thousand drug arrests per day, you have to get creative to keep up the pace, don’t you?

Neill Franklin: (Laughs) Absolutely. Another one, Jack Cole speaks to all the time, is that when we are sitting around and you know, we’re making our cases undercover and somebody passes you a joint as you are sitting around because you know, smoking that marijuana, it’s a social thing, you know and you’re bonding. So, you’re passing it around and anyone who passes a joint to you, you charge them with distribution.

Dean Becker: (Laughs)

Neill Franklin: We did and you hold that over their head to have them work for you and to turn cases for you. It’s unbelievable.

Dean Becker: Ok, now, I want to talk about the nuts and bolts and what it is that is going to change this equation. What’s going to awaken enough people and change the mindset, get rid of the fables and the rumors about drugs and there’s a situation that just happened out in California. They had their Prop 19 to legalize marijuana for adults and so forth.

Neill Franklin: Right.

Dean Becker: There was a growing coalition of people, of unions and Latino police officers and many others. The one that stood out the most to me and I’m hoping you’ll talk about her involvement and the sprit that she brings to this and that is Alice Huffman.

Neill Franklin: Oh, yes.

Dean Becker: Who heads up the California NAACP and the spirit and the fire that she brought to this. Your thoughst there, Neill Franklin.

Neill Franklin: Well, you know, Alice Huffman, one of the things when I got into this a couple of years ago, I noticed that for the groups of the people this policy most adversely affected, your African Americans and Latinos, I didn’t see many people at the table who looked like African Americans and Latinos. I’m like thinking, “Wow isn’t’ this something that these groups are missing from changing these drug policies and getting in this fight.”

So, when Proposition 19 came out and someone had forwarded – had sent me a very small article from a paper in California, I believe it might have been the Sacramento, one of their maybe, The Bee, and it was an article about Alice Huffman supporting Proposition 19 and I almost fell off my chair when I read that.

So, I found her number and I gave her a call. This is right when I took over as the Executive Director for LEAP and I said, “Miss Huffman”, I said, “I’m from an organization, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and I just read your article,” and I said, “I’m thrilled.” She said, “Wait a minute. You’re a law enforcement organization?” I I said, “Yes.”

She said, “So, were you calling to try to prevent me from support Proposition 19 or change my mind?” I said, “No, we’re against prohibition.” I said, “We’re here to help you.”

From that day forward, I got to see this woman, Alice Huffman, just move forward with this issue and from a human rights perspective, from dealing with incarceration and the levels you mentioned at one point, of eight million people that we put in prison. The list goes on but she just took it to another level and the thing that really amazes me about her – I for one, knew that she was going to catch a lot of heat from this and she did, from a couple of groups there from California, one being bishop Ron Allen and there’s a long story behind that.

She stood up and she didn’t bend and she didn’t waver and she continued to move this issue forward and take it home. For that effort, there were literally thousands upon thousands of African Americans and Latinos now in the state of California, who now see just devastating the issues of prohibition are to are to our communities.

Her efforts alone, for the most part, have just gotten so many people to see the light and to see the truth behind this issue.

Dean Becker: Yeah.

Neill Franklin: Like I told her, I said, I applaud her efforts. I’ll stand with her. Our org will stand with her and we’re going to try and do the same thing with every other state NAACP org across the country.

Dean Becker: And it is so necessary, I mean that Alice Huffman recognized, truly, the impact, the stats, the data, the facts.

Neill Franklin: Yeah.

Dean Becker : That it is a – if not bigoted when it was written, it was bigoted in implementation, these drug laws,.

Neill Franklin: Absolutely, well I really and I could[n’t] care less and I think most people could[n’t] care less if that is by design or not. The bottom line is it does negatively, greatly negativity impact certain groups of people, whether intentionally or unintentionally. We need to, need to change that. That’s one of the many reasons that we need to change our policies.

Dean Becker: Alright, once again folks we’re speaking with Neill Franklin, the Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Neil, we’ve got several score of speakers, folks with said mud on their boots from being in the trenches of the Drug War, willing to speak to fraternal organizations, collages – heck, anybody who will ask us right?

Neill Franklin: Absolutely, we – I think we have speakers in about twenty three states right now and of course we’re moving to recruit speakers in more states but we also have speakers outside of the country and in other countries.

We have a branch in Brazil. We have a branch in Canada. We’re working on Mexico and Poland and the UK right now.

Dean Becker: Yeah, Ok and Neil, we have about a minute left and I’m going to be speaking her in about a minute with Mister Daniel Robelo, he in the Drug Policy Alliance and he’s been focusing extensively with on the situation that goes on down there in Mexico and again.

My introduction there, I was talking about the absurdity of continuing down this same failed path. It’s every newspaper, multiple stories every day and yet somehow it just doesn’t get the recognition that it deserves, does it Neill?

Neill Franklin: No, it doesn’t. I remember you likening this to these people who just fail to let this go and to change our direction. You liken as to them having an addiction, an addition to the war on drugs and that’s how I see it, Dean. That’s how I see it. They need intervention.

Dean Becker: Yeah, they do indeed. Well, I’ll tell you what, Neil, we’re going to move in but we’ll be in touch, as you well know. Certainly, we appreciate all the LEAP speakers who come and join us here on the Drug Truth Network.

Neill Franklin: Well, thanks, thanks for having me Dean and for those listening, go to our website and have a speaker come to your group or organization.

Dean Becker: Alright Neill Franklin, thank you so much

Neill Franklin: Thank you.


(Game show music)

It’s time to play: Name That Drug By Its Side Effects

Chest pain, fever, gastroenteritis, rectal hemorrhage, vaginal hemorrhage, ulcerated stomatitis, pancreatitis, pneumonia, amnesia, decreased libido, neuropathy, deafness, thrombocytopenia, paralysis and slow death.


Time’s up!

You should have gotten this one. It’s the world’s number one selling drug to cut down on cholesterol. Lipitor, another FDA approved product.


(Saxophone playing Three Blind Mice)

Drug War addicts, Drug War addicts
Hear how they lie, hear how they lie
They all pretend that they’re doing good
The real truth is that they never could

Why must there be such a thing as
Drug War addicts, Drug War addicts
Drug War addicts…


(Traditional string music)

Democracy has been stolen from our nation disguised as security. Ignorance is taught at every level. Trust and obey is our mantra. In the meantime, the water boils to a deadly froth.

The future of America, of individual Americans such as yourself, is in your hot boiled, red little hands. The corporations are counting on you being too distracted, disengaged and too afraid to stop their takeover of all your rights.

A quote Thomas Jefferson: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”.

Will you jump from the boiling water? Will you dare to compare the US constitution to what these corporate whores in Congress now call “governance?”

Or will you continue to squat and the bubbles rise?

(Shrill frog sound)


Dean Becker: Yes, will we continue to squat and watch the bubble rise or will we do something about it? That’s really the question. Many parameters, many guidelines and many situations in regards to the Drug War force us to remain silent, despite the hysteria, propaganda and chaos that surrounds us due this drug war.

We now have with us from the Drug Policy Alliance, Mister Daniel Robelo. Hello, Daniel.

Daniel Robelo: Hello Dean, thanks for having me.

Dean Becker: Well, Daniel, thank you for joining us. Tell us a little bit about the work you do with the Drug Policy Alliance.

Daniel Robelo: I work as a research Associate in the Legal Department of the Drug Policy Alliance, assisting in legislative efforts to roll back bad drug policies, the wasteful tragic drug policies of this war on drugs, as well as promote new innovative reforms.

We were working very closely with the Prop 19 campaign here in California and then in really in a professional and personal capacity to try to observe and bring more awareness to the tragic crisis that’s unfolding in Mexico and the rest of Latin America and really focus in the affect that this terrible, failed war on drugs had in Latin America for forty years now.

Dean Becker: Now, earlier I was talking to Neill Franklin, our first guest, about the stories in regards to Mexico being all over the place, in every newspaper, multiple stories today. Here are a few I found in today’s paper:

“Knocking down the Kingpins,” this is from The Los Angeles Times, “Mexico’s war on drugs has netted several high profile cartel leaders but the flow of drugs continues.” Do you want to respond to that?

Daniel Robelo: Well absolutely, as you know and as your listeners well know over 31,000 people have been killed since 2006, since Felipe Calderón took over the presidency of Mexico.

They like to celebrate, both the US and the Mexican governments, like to celebrate these captures or killings of some drug lieutenants or even kingpins. Most recently there was two members of the “La Familia MichoaCana,” one drug trafficking organization that seems to be in the decline, as well as the killing of Gulf Cartel head, known by the alias, “Tony Tormenta.”

They captured a couple of months ago, the acting head of the Beltran Leyva Cartel, another weaker cartel Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal. In spite of this, in spite of well as a record of a 134 tons seized in a tunnel between Tijuana and San Diego, the drug tracking organizations continue to operate with impunity. In fact, a couple of pieces of major news broke last week.

The AP has been doing a series of investigative reports and they – their most recent installment in this series shows that despite all of these major arrests and operations against the cartels, the drug trade has not been curbed what so ever. This is what we are working against and what this war on drugs is known for, for decades now.

The bottom line of their report as, despite all the press conferences by the DEA and the Justice Department and the photo ops, the cartel and especial the Sinaloa Cartel are the most powerful in Mexico, remains just as strong as ever.

The AP focused on a few major federal and joint bi-national or federal state law enforcement operations. One in particular called operation accelerator that 750 or more than 750 people were arrested and tons of drugs seized. The DEA called it a “crushing” blow but the AP interviewed dozens of people and tracked down hundreds of people that had been arrested and analyzed thousands of pages of court records.

They found that not a single cartel boss was nabbed in this operation and that none of the bosses of any of the cartels had ever been arrested in the United States and they continue to operate in Mexico with total impunity.

Many of the people they do arrest are not even middle management. They’re the low level street dealers or drug couriers, otherwise known as “mules” and that these workers are easily replaceable with even making a dent in the bottom line of these powerful drug cartels.

Dean Becker: You bring up a strong point here. We’re speaking with Mister Daniel Robelo with the Drug Policy Alliance. Daniel, you’re talking about not making a dent. And the truth be told we have an economic crises here in these United States but you go to Mexico to recruit new players for this Drug War and Mexico it is easy as pie, right?

Daniel Robelo: Absolutely and another major revelation came last week with the Wikileaks cable releases. Some of these leaked cables show that – absolutely, and the US government acknowledges and Mexican government officials say that with many of these military deployments that the “cartels are sophisticated players that can wait out a military deployment and they have almost unlimited human resource pool to draw from in the marginalized neighborhoods.”

So, it’s just – we’re just throwing more money at this and without any effect and the human cost we know is unspeakable. As well, when we – the Mexican military has been unleashed against the cartels, human rights violations are rampant, as well as corruption and that’s what some of these Wikileaks cables showed. Well, we already know but they revealed it from the mouth of US government officials.

Dean Becker: Yeah

Daniel Robelo: And that these human rights violations allow the drug cartels to actually fan the fires of popular outrage at these human right abuses and actually undermine any “success” that they might make with the hearts and minds of the Mexican public, which is increasingly losing confidence in this failed war on drugs.

Dean Becker: Yeah and man we’ve got just a minute and half or so here and I want to talk to you quickly about this other story that it has the situation, the violence, the fear that flows from this Drug War.

It means that the bars and the shops and the restaurants and everything are shutting down in Mexico and fewer and fewer people are able to find employment and it’s enticing.

There was a story in the Houston Chronicle a couple of days ago, a fourteen year old Mexican kid that beheaded four people. It’s never going to stop, as long as the billions are possible for these drug warriors, right – for these drug lords, right?

Daniel Robelo: Absolutely, you are right, Dean. As long as our insatiable US demand continues to fuel the trade and as long as prohibition continues to make it so profitable that people are willing to kill for it.

We can – if we end this prohibition, if we can explore alternatives. Let’s just start with marijuana and then move on to other drugs.

We can basically put these cartels out of business. Then with the money we can be saving from both sides if the border, we can really focus on economic development so we don’t see this tragic trend. It seems like a child soldier sort of trend. It is really one of the most tragic and recent installments of the ongoing crisis in Mexico.

Dean Becker: Indeed it is, once again friends we’re – this is Cultural Baggage on the Drug Truth Network. We’re speaking with Mister Daniel Robelo. We’ve got about twenty seconds here left. I want to turn that over to you. Tell us why people should get involved with the Drug Policy Alliance and point them to the website, please.

Daniel Robelo: You can read about us and get involved at We’re the leading organization trying to work with folks like Dean who’s doing great journalism and others to just bring awareness and change policies. One step at a time but overall the bigger picture is that we need an alternative to this failed prohibitionist policy. Please join us.

Dean Becker: Alright, Daniel Robelo, thank you so much.

Daniel Robelo: Thank you, Dean.

Dean Becker: Alright.

Daniel Robelo: Take care.

Dean Becker: Alright, bye bye.


(Country music)

War is peace. Peace through war.
A hundred years of prohibition
Needs a hundred years more.

We’ve gotta fund
The terrorists and gangs
To save the kids
We’ve got to do the same damn thing.


Mary Jane Borden: Hello Drug Policy Aficionados, I’m Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts.

The question for this week asks: What is harm reduction?

Harm reduction is the term often mentioned in conjunction with drug policy. A recent report from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, entitled, Out of Harm’s Way: Injecting drug user and harm reduction, defined harm reduction as “a range of pragmatic and evidence based public policies and practices aimed at reducing the negative consequences associated with drug use and other related risk factors, such as HIV and AIDS. These interventions exemplify human rights in action by seeking to alleviate hazards faced by the injecting drug users, where need without distinction and without judgment.”

The Red Cross concluded that, “Harm reduction is a pragmatic, cost effective and evidenced based. From a public health perspective it safeguards the well-being of drug users by allowing them to minimize harm to themselves and others.”

They went on to say that, “changing policies and reforming the justice system are central to harm reduction. Injecting drug use should not be seen as a criminal act but as a major public health issue.”

Another recent report from the International Harm Reduction Association called, Three Cents a Day is Not Enough: Resourcing HIV related harm reduction on a global basis supports the Red Cross, stating:

“Prevention of HIV is also cheaper than treatment HIV/AIDS. For example, in Asia it is estimated that the comprehensive package of HIV related harm reduction intervention costs $39 per disability adjusted life year saved. Whereas the antiretroviral treatment cost, approximately $2000 per life year saved. Such figures demonstrate that harm reduction is a low cost, high impact intervention.”

The IHRA’s conclusion in this report was a simple one, “More money is needed for harm reduction and it is needed now.”

These facts and others like them can be found in the HIV/AIDS chapter of Drug War Facts at

If you have a question for which you need facts, please email it to me at I’ll try to answer your question in an upcoming show.

So, remember when you need facts about drugs and drug policy, you can get the facts at Drug War Facts.


(Inspirational music)

To dream the American dream
To lie, steal and hope
With both your eyes closed
To ignore the nightmare surrounds you
Just to try, try to reach the American dream


(Energetic violin music)

Well I’ll take this dirt
(No joke!)
And pass those seeds
(Watch ‘em grow!)
Going to watch my marijuana grow like a big pine tree
Going to let my marijuana grow and be happy

Some advice from Sean Reefer and the Resin Valley Boys. Spring is just around the corner.


Dean Becker: Alright, thank you for joining us on Cultural Baggage. We want to thank our two guests Neill Franklin from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Daniel Robelo of the Drug Policy Alliance.

I want to alert you that next week, one of our guests on the Drug Truth Network will be Kathy Stout. She’s a professor at University of Texas, El Paso, directly across the river from the world’s most deadly city there, Ciudad Juarez.

Please check out our website. We have hundreds, approaching a thousand half hour shows available on our website, which of course is

Join us on the next Century of Lies show, which follows next on many of these Drug Truth Network stations. Our guest will be Wanda James of KushCon and Doctor Robert Melamede, who will be speaking about the cannabinoid system that’s in all of our bodies, every system within the human frame, that is.

And as always, because of prohibition, you don’t know what’s in that bag.

Please be careful.


To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.

Drug Truth Network programs are stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies.

Transcript provided by: Ayn Morgan of

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.