Cultural Baggage, March 12, 2008
Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.
My name is Dean Becker. I don't condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison, and judicial nightmare that feeds on eternal drug war.
Dean Becker: Hello my friends. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I'm so glad you could be with us. Here, in just a moment, we're going to bring in Mr. John Baeza. He is a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. And if you've been watching the news across this nation, around the world and maybe more specifically in the city of Houston, you see that it's out of control, it's making no sense, it's not just ineffective, it is counterproductive, it is plain wrong what we have been doing for, lo, these many decades and John spent some time working in New York City. He worked as a corrections officer at Sing Sing even and worked as a Deputy Sheriff in Florida as well and I guess with that introduction let's go ahead and bring in our guest, Mr. John Baeza.
John Baeza: Hello, I'm here. How are you?
Dean Becker: I'm well, John. Thank you for being with us. You spent time believing in this drug war, you spent time working as an undercover officer and you spent time thinking that it was going to make a difference. What made you change your mind, Sir?
John Baeza: Well, what made me change my mind? I spent at least three years as an undercover and thinking I was fighting, I was a warrior, but what made me change my mind was one day I was making a buy, we were buying, we called it 'buying up', we were buying from a heroin dealer out of the projects and I would start out by buying, say, five or ten bags and all of a sudden it would go up to 20 bags, 100 bags of heroin, maybe 200, finally we started buying in the ounces. And then the last buy was going to be made for about $16,000 dollars worth of heroin.
When I went to the building...as an undercover you never go into a building with a gun because if you go into an apartment they automatically search you and I know my gun is clean and serviceable so I don't want them to have it, so I don't carry a weapon, you don't carry ID or anything like that...so this guy took me to the, up in Harlem on 124th Street and Fifth Avenue, took me up to the fourth floor apartment, he knocked on the door and then he immediately turned around, pointed a gun at me and told me 'This is the end of the line for you' with an expletive at the end, and then he came over, walked up to me with the gun, he says 'Give me the money.'
So I gave him the money and I didn't give it all to him because as undercover I became, kind of, in my role and I had kept some in my socks, so he didn't get all of it but I gave him the money and then he put the gun to my head and I could tell it was a real gun. I felt the cold, you know, the metal against my head and I was facing him and he told me to turn around. And right then and there in my gut I knew that most, not all, but most of these criminals, they can't shoot you, facing you, they have to turn you around because they're cowards too.
So, anyway, the bottom line was I didn't want my brains splattered all over a wall in Harlem in a tenement where nobody would probably find me so I refused to turn around. Long story short, he fled the building, of course the transmitter I had didn't work so my field team didn't know anything about it. Apparently he hopped into a car and left and went into the Bronx. He was later caught, most of the buyer money was found.
But after the incident, the first thing I was asked was not 'How are you?' It was 'Where's the buyer money?' That's what the Chief of Narcotics asked. And I just sat there and I just thought to myself 'Why am I doing this?' I have a family, I have children and it doesn't make any difference. I wouldn't have made any difference if I had made the buy, without any problems. So it just changed overnight. I never made another buy. And now I am totally changed 360 degrees in my thinking.
Dean Becker: Well, thank you for that. Once again, we're speaking with Mr. John Baeza, a member, a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. John, you see the stories breaking across the country, I was mentioning to the audience before we brought you on that everyday you see the stories in the newspaper about shoot-outs and children killed in the cross-fire and you see the stories coming out of Mexico, thousands of people dying in a very real war where the cartels are trying to control the distribution channels and mess with the police and the military down there that are trying to stop this.
The same happens in Colombia. My God, Afghanistan, the world's leading producer of opium. It has so many ramifications, so much blowback. What's your opinion? How do these politicians ignore it or even speak for more of the same?
John Baeza: Well, you know what? I've only seen maybe a few politicians speak against prohibition and most of them don't and they're stubborn and they don't realize that we are fighting a war against ourselves. In fact, overnight, if you legalized and regulated it, overnight you would actually see a huge difference. I know it from being out on the street and I've been to Guatemala, it's a transshipment country, I've been there. I know that all of this profit motive would be taken out of it and all this violence that we're seeing would be eliminated. I mean, you're going to still have crime but drug-related violence is going to be eliminated. It's just like after Prohibition, you don't see Coor's Lite and Anheuser-Busch fighting it out on the street over territory with tommy guns anymore. I mean, you don't see that. It doesn't happen. And it's the same thing, we'll have the same thing if we legalize and regulate all drugs.
Dean Becker: Well, John, there was a fairly major story published in this week's Time magazine, written by the authors, the screenwriters I guess, of the long HBO series 'The Wire' and it was a very cutting, if you will, article. It left no doubt where they stood in this regard. I want to kind of get your interpretation of that story in Time.
John Baeza: Sure. That's fine. I read the story in Time but I didn't even need to read that story because I've read several books, several books, one that David Simon wrote and another one that David Simon and Ed Burns wrote. Ed Burns is a former Baltimore homicide detective. And the book I'm referring, the first book was 'Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets' and that was a non-fiction book about the Homicide Squad. The second book was called 'The Corner' and that was about, mostly about the inner city. It was a year in the life of an inner city neighborhood and basically it was about the inner city inhabitants, those who were drug addicted, mostly, those who were not, it talked about the cops and there are so many quotes that I've pulled out of that book, more drug quotes that are positive for me, that I can utilize and cite, out of that book than any other book I've ever read so if anybody wants to read a book and wants to get the real deal and the real lowdown they can read this book called 'The Corner' by David Simon and Ed Burns.
It was a very popular book, I think it won some awards, but getting back to 'The Wire'...I was also a watcher of 'The Wire' because I realized that these individuals knew what they doing, they knew what police work was about, and 'The Wire', basically, it kind of told the story that listen, this promotes corruption. because we've had corruption in some of the episodes there, it's a never ending war and all we're doing is we're killing each other, we're killing ourselves and, in my opinion, what we're doing is we are making something illegal that is a natural right that we have. We have a natural right to self-medicate ourselves as long as we do not infringe on somebody else's rights. That's my basic premise.
Dean Becker: Yeah, and John, it's my understanding that one of the things that has driven your focus is the deviation from the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution. You want to talk about that?
John Baeza: Yeah, I would like to talk about that. In the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution we're talking about the enumeration of certain rights in the Constitution shall not be be denied or disparaged, other rights may not be denied or disparaged, I'm paraphrasing here because I don't have my book here, my Constitution, but anyway, basically what it's saying is, that was a compromise because people, James Wilson and Patrick Henry and so forth, they did not want just to limit, they wanted the Bill of Rights but they wanted some way to say 'This is not our only rights, these are the main ones, but we have other ones that are given to the people.'
Like the right to privacy, that's not stated anywhere but that's a right, that's a natural God-given right, and the founders were, the people that they were influenced by were people like John Locke and Thomas Hobbes and also John Stewart Mills who believed, basically, here it is in a nutshell, if you want to do a consensual activity and you don't infringe upon anybody else's rights then you can do it. Once you go out and drive on the road, you're infringing on someone else's rights. If you start polluting somebody else's property you're infringing on their rights. Otherwise, whatever you do in your own home and to your own body, that's for you to do. Now, your family can care about you and try to stop you, that's fine. But you have that natural right. And that cannot be taken away by law or legislation anyway.
Dean Becker: It strikes me as ironic, or just plain unconstitutional, when they made Alcohol illegal they did indeed amend the Constitution and when they made it legal again they amended the Constitution and yet with the 'control' of drugs they didn't call it Prohibition but it certainly fits that definition, does it not?
John Baeza: It does, and you know what, with alcohol, I'll just be brief on this but, you can't, even with alcohol, the amendment does not matter because you cannot, no matter what, you cannot amend something so that we don't have our natural rights, but that's about alcohol. But they didn't even go through, they knew the Ninth Amendment stood in their way during prohibition of alcohol, but for this 'war on drugs', what we call it, they didn't even care.
They just went after the, they just decided we're going to have this war on drugs and we're going to go after it. And I don't understand where, you know, we have enough problems with our State law enforcement, now we have hundreds of thousands of Federal law enforcement people enforcing our laws and really, the Constitution only authorizes specifically the Federal law enforcement.
There should be only three types of laws they should enforce which are, briefly, punishing counterfeiting and also punishing piracies and felonies committed on the high seas and offenses against the law of nations and that's pretty much it. That's what, those are the rights that were given. The Founding Fathers would roll over in their graves today if they knew we had a Federal police. It's one of our big problems, also. All of this is a huge problem, but I guess I go back to the beginning and I say, listen, this is unconstitutional. That's how I work it.
Dean Becker: I agree with you John. A lot of folks don't realize, they think these drug laws have been in place since time began, certainly since America began but, the truth be told, you reach back in time, Thomas Jefferson grew thousands of opium poppies at this Montecello home. Ben Franklin was a know user of Dover's Powder which is an opium product, and George Washington loved the cannabis harvest.
He made a quick trip back from Europe one time, just so he could attend the harvest. These people had no idea that the moralists in a century or two later would take it upon themselves to declare these products as somehow immoral and illegal and they didn't put a specific allowance for this into the Constitution because, by God, they were all users in the first place.
John Baeza: Exactly. And here you're talking about, to me, probably the greatest American to ever to grace the face of the Earth, George Washington, because of certain things he's done for our country and founding it and here he is, he grew hemp. It's absurd, the whole thing is absurd and it really bothers me to the base. I realized, after my encounter, it has changed my entire life. I have stopped thinking the way I thought.
And, you know, my father, years ago, he's a retired lieutenant from the New York City Fire Department, he told me, he said 'You're wrong, I know you're fighting this, you're going out there making buys and stuff, but you're wrong. They have to legalize drugs.' And I got into arguments with him and he knew because he worked in the ghetto too. He realized, this is not, we're not winning this. This is not right. So I really should have listened to him a long time ago but I came around.
Dean Becker: Well, John...we are speaking with Mr. John Baeza. He's a retired law enforcement officer, twenty year career, and now a member, a speaking member, for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. This is the Cultural Baggage show on the Drug Truth Network. And I'm so glad you're out there listening. I think what John and I do is to try to educate and motivate the average Joe out there to do his part, to say 'Well, this doesn't make any sense. I'm going to let my elected officials know.' John, I'm speaking today at University of Houston, next week at Sam Houston University. You get the chance to talk to some folks as well, do you not, about the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition mantra 'We want to curtail death, disease, crime and addiction?'
John Baeza: Yes I do. I get that chance and I'm happy to have that chance, I'm honored.
Dean Becker: And how long have you been with LEAP now, Sir?
John Baeza: I've only been with LEAP, I don't know, probably several months actually. I'm very new to LEAP but I've know about LEAP for quite some time. I just finally, when I retired completely, I had the time to devote to it and that's what I wanted to do and that's what I did.
Dean Becker: John, we're starting a campaign. We're starting it here in the gulag filling station of Houston, we're trying to gather Friends of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition to give them some focus. Like we're going to start contacting our local Sheriff, Tommy Thomas, and fax and phone and email and go visit him and try to redirect his focus, his efforts. I mean, my God, we fill our jails so full we lead the world in our incarceration rate. And it's going to take the people telling these politicians 'It's alright to back down.' To move away from this point of eternal drug war, right?
John Baeza: I agree completely. And like I said, there are very few representatives in our government who believe that the drug war is a failed policy and that we should legalize drugs and you do have one congressman right there in Texas who wants the complete legalization of drugs and regulation. So, at least you guys have somebody. Down here in Florida, we're trying.
Dean Becker: Well, John, I mean I've been fighting this for six years and it was only through serendipity of some kind that I started talking with this lady, Virginia McDavid, and she got the Democratic nomination and she's going up against a Republican who, in private, has told me 'Yeah, it's time to make some changes. It's time to do something about this' but, through his tenure, he's never done anything about it. And she has the courage to actually say this. I think it will help get her elected.
I'm hoping that other officials, not just in Houston, but other cities that listen to the Cultural Baggage Show will get in touch with me. I want to work with them, I want to, if somebody's wanting drug war to last forever and they're willing to come on the air, I'll put them on the air, if they think the drug war should end, then I'll put them on the air but it's time to open the dialogue and begin the process. Right, John?
John Baeza: I agree completely. Inform the people. And I think your show and, you know, the types of things that you're doing, going to the Sheriff and faxing him and calling him and so forth, I mean, he serves you. When I was a police officer and a detective and even a deputy sheriff, hey, you guys paid my salary. I served you so he needs to listen to the people and, you know, it takes common sense, that's all it takes, a little common sense and getting that, you can't be so stubborn. You have to, and I was at one point, I remember. So you can't be and just remember: you can argue it many different ways, and I've seen it argued many different ways, depending on your audience, you can cater your argument because the argument is always right, but it's just the way you cater it, and sometimes when I talk to people who are in, say the Cato Institute and so forth, they agree with the legalization but I will talk with them in a different manner, we will talk about the Ninth Amendment and so forth, when you talk to Rotary Clubs and so forth, and people like that, you know, you kind of stick to, you know, what do we have now?
We have, it's illegal and it's not regulated or do you want it to be regulated and legal? So that people can have, what is it now, right now we're having people shot in the streets like you were saying before, all these murders that we have, also people breaking into your cars and I used to work in a police station. I parked directly across from the entrance and my car got broken into two or three times. Right across from the police station in Harlem.
So, you know, this, it's not going to stop. And I also worked in the prisons and I found narcotics inside the prisons. And, you know, in fact, when I was at Sing Sing they actually found a 25 caliber pistol inside the prison. So you're not keeping any of this stuff out of anywhere. You could close, alright, you could take, get rid of all those other countries, all the growers, all the suppliers, all the supply countries, everything, put a wall around the United States and you would still have crystal meth, you would still have synthetic cocaine, synthetic heroin, I've actually bought it, Fentanyl, on the street.
I mean, people, it's a profit...it's money, if people are going to make money off of it they're gonna, why not legalize it, regulate it, and let the, to me personally, let the free market capitalists take over. I mean, that's how I am. That's not...I'm not presenting that as LEAP's, you know, stance, but that's my stance. I think that that would be better and save so many lives. It's a medical problem, this drug problem that we have. It's a medical issue.
Dean Becker: John, I don't want to beat a dead horse. I say this on almost every show but something that people need to realize is that back in 1913, before this prohibition began, Bayer Heroin sold on the grocer's shelf, right next to Bayer Aspirin, at the very same price.
John Baeza: Exactly. A nine-year-old girl could walk up to the counter and buy S.A. Bayer, they had Aspirin and they also had, I forget the name, diamorphine or something and it was a remedy that people used and it worked and they had the patent on it, you know, S.A. Bayer had the patent on it so we didn't have the problems that we have now. We didn't even have the addiction problem.
And quite frankly I don't think we need anymore laws on the books since 1913. I think we should go back to 1913 and eliminate every law we have since then and there would still be laws against murder and rape and so forth and those are the people, I worked on the sex crimes squad in New York City, best six years of my career as a detective and let me tell you something that's where we need to focus our energy: child abusers, rapists, the armed robbers, the people that are going to be there no matter whether we got the drug war or not, I'm talking about violent individuals who infringe on others' rights, that's where we take these people, this manpower.
We got, I think we have about 2,500 detectives who work for, in the narcotics division, alright, and I think there's a total of about 7,000 detectives so you're talking about, why not take those, and I was working in a sex crimes squad with about 22 detectives, I had a caseload of about a hundred, and I'm trying to prioritize these cases and, do you know how difficult it is to prioritize, a kid burned with an iron and then a woman who's raped with a bottle, how do you prioritize those, you know, it's horrible.
You do the best you can but here they were, spending all this money, all this time on narcotic enforcement and public morals and prostitution and, it's ridiculous, it's absurd and I'm glad that I come to realize that and I certainly hope that I've been, you know, educating some people out there and letting them know that law enforcement (*), there are people in law enforcement that really feel that we need to get rid of this alleged drug war.
Dean Becker: Alright, Mr. John Baeza, thank you so much for being with us today on Cultural Baggage. We have a couple of messages we want to share with our audience and want to remind folks that you can learn more by visiting the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition website which is LEAP.cc. Thank you, John.
John Baeza: Thanks so much, Dean.
It's time to play 'Name That Drug by its Side Effects.'
(horrible side-effects including death)
Answer: The answer , Cheese. Diphenhydramine hydrochloride and opiates, Tylenol PM and heroin. And particularly for children it seems most of the symptoms listed are due to Tylenol PM and the heroin only serves to bring the 'high' in focus.
Poppygate: Bizarre News about the U.S. Policy on Controlling Heroin, featuring Glenn Greenway.
Late Friday afternoon, February 29, 2008, the U.S. State Department issued its annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report. According to the report, Afghan poppy cultivation is now approaching half a million acres, roughly the same acreage given over to Christmas tree cultivation in the U.S. each year, an area considerably larger than Houston, Texas, or approximately ten acres of opium poppy per occupation soldier.
The same report also called attention to faltering drug eradication efforts of the Mexican government despite an ever more violent drug war being waged between the country's military and drug cartels which cost nearly 3,000 Mexican lives last year.
NATO is now involved in discussions with Russia to help the U.S. led occupation of Afghanistan. Russian contributions would include a joint training center, the use of Russian equipment to train troops for Afghanistan, help in delivering equipment to Afghanistan and permission for NATO troops to use Russian airspace. Of course, as many as 2 million Afghans were killed during the cruel Russian occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.
Fatal methadone poisoning has risen at least 10-fold in Maine during the course of the Bush presidency and reign of U.S. drug czar, John Walters.
Finally, the UN drug czar, Antonio Maria Costa, declared this week that U.S. and Western occupied Afghanistan is now the world's biggest supplier of marijuana. He also took time to call 24-year-old British singer Amy Winehouse a "poster girl for drug abuse." In turn, Winehouse's spokesman called Costa "a ludicrous man."
This is Glenn Greenway reporting for the Drug Truth Network.
Please join with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition in sharing the unvarnished truth about this drug war with our elected officials. Friends of LEAP will meet each month and then phone, fax, email and visit with a different public official every month. The time is right, the need is obvious and working together we will demand that our politicians make the necessary changes.
Dean Becker: OK, we cut out a lot of this stuff that we were sharing with the Houston audience here because I want to reach out to you across America and on up into Canada. If you have local officials, whether they be positive or negative about the drug war but are willing to talk about it in any fashion, please get in touch with me. My email is Dean@DrugTruth.Net. Insofar as our first ever meeting of the Friends of LEAP, we only had nine people show up, but everybody joined Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, people were sharing DVDs from the Director and many of the founders, and several tee shirts were bought, it's got the badge on the front for LEAP and on the back these shirts say 'Cops say legalize drugs. Ask me why.' And we're going to ask a lot of politicians why with your help in this coming election season there's much to be done. Again, my email is Dean@DrugTruth.Net.
Look here my friends, this drug war will last forever unless and until you do something about it. And one way you can get involved is to join up with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. As I said with our guest, John Baeza, 24 years a cop, now a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, that website, LEAP.cc.
And you know that because of this drug war policy, this prohibition, you don't know what's in that bag, do you? So 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.
Tap dancing on the edge on an abyss.
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