The UN Drug Conference -
Riding A Dead Horse
By Michael Levine <>

Last week I was invited to speak before a United Nations group, The International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, about the effect of drug trafficking on minority communities. I was invited because I not only have 30 years experience as a court qualified expert in drug trafficking, but I am also the brother of a 19 year heroin addict who committed suicide, the father of a police officer who was killed by crack addicts, was successful in helping my daughter fight addiction and my formative years were spent growing up on the streets of the South Bronx, where the scourge of drugs first impacted in this country. For the past couple of years I have begun turning down requests to be on panels to discuss drug issues because I found myself with people who had very little real-life experience in these matters. Most of their expertise came from books, articles and funded studies. Unfortunately, the hard reality of the street is quite different than theoretical reality. These forums would inevitably turn out to be cheer leading sessions, featuring the same proclamations repeated in thousands of such sessions over the past three decades. But this group, headed by U.N.Representative Onajé Mu'id, was exceptional. What they wanted to know was, after forty years of war on drugs, what answers could parents whose children were growing up in a bullet riddled ghetto expect, right now, from yet another expensive U.N.conference that they were paying for? Since they were the only forum in the entire conference asking the right question, I felt it my duty to participate. However the answer to their question was not one they wanted to hear. I told them I didn't believe that any real change would be coming out of this conference. That, this latest U.N. cheer leading session was yet another example of experts "revo-looting" at meetings, in return for which they received expense paid trips to New York plus honorariums. Some would receive funding from rich American benefactors to continue their endless droning. Some would receive media attention and votes. Some countries would attend and sing for their dinners in order to receive additional U.S. funding to make their lives better, while the desperate parents of American children got nothing but the tab. In essence I told them that it was not necessary to be a court qualified expert witness to know that the drug war was a "dead horse" and that the U.N. was once again trying to flog it back to life for its own selfish reason: U.S.taxpayer dollars. It is not that I believe that the drug problem cannot be solved. It is simply not in the best interests of professional "experts" to do so. If an effective program to reduce drug demand right here in the United States were adopted and their are such programs, including my own "Fight Back" community plan most of these "experts" might have to find another way to get their bureaucracies funded, their names in newspapers and a real job. I pointed out that if you listen to most of the U.N. speakers you will hear the same things they have been saying for decades: First, they tell us that the answer to America's drug problem is to spend more American taxpayer dollars to improve the lives of Third World farmers so that they would seek other means of earning an income. After four decades of this talk, and untold billions spent on this flawed logic, drugs are more available now than even before. Is it not finally apparent that this logic goes totally contrary to what we know of human nature? For instance, in one highly publicized case, I arrested a Wall Street Broker for cocaine trafficking whose legitimate salary was $1 million a year. How would the U.N. convince him to find another way of making money? In fact as some of my law enforcement colleagues on the inside, who would never say this in public tell me the current enourmous supplies of drugs on US streets combined with the improved organizational structure of the drug business from top to bottom, has actually led to a major drop in crime across the board. I'll bet you never heard a U.N. "expert" tell you that before. Second, another group of experts, continues to bleat that we should increase the funding of law enforcement. More money for everything from border controls and military operations to massive money laundering sting operations. These experts manage to ignore the fact that, since President Nixon declared war on drugs in 1971, we have spent almost $1 trillion dollars on these efforts, for absolutely nothing but a devastated Constitution, yet they still get invited on all expense paid trips to "dead horse flogging" conferences around the world, to parrot the same theme. Is it any wonder that recent polls indicate that 66 percent of Americans, desperate to solve the problem, want us to spend even more money on the war on drugs? And, finally, there is the "legalize-all-drugs" group, who, if they stopped to think for one moment, would realize that they are promoting the complete destruction of minority communities. For instance, if drugs were legal when I was a kid growing up in the Bronx, I guarantee you, I would not have survived. The sum total of all of this"if you are parents with children growing up in drug war zones that rival Beirut, Lebanon, and are expecting some help to come out of yet another hugely expensive "dead horse" flogging rally at the U.N. is Zero. Juan Ortiz, a Colombian born Taxi driver, picked me up at U.N. Plaza, right after the conference. He was incensed at the expense and the traffic jams. "You know it cost New York City $3 million for Clinton to come here and make a speech. Why didn't he just televise it?" When I pointed out that the President was also attending a political fund- raiser here on the same night, Mr. Ortiz understood immediately. This U.N. conference was less about solving the drug problem than it was about the redistribution of American votes and taxpayer dollars. And none of it is going to the people who need it most. Dokota tribal wisdom dictates that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse the best strategy is to dismount and find another horse. Only in the drug war "business" do we keep trying other strategies, such as appointing a committee to study the dead horse; staging mass international conferences on how to ride the dead horse; or funding studies to see how we can increase the performance of a dead horse. Unfortunately for those really suffering this drug problem, no one showed up at the U.N. with a live horse to ride.
Michael Levine
Michael Levine, 25 year veteran Federal Narcotics agent and the author of
NY Times Best seller DEEP COVER, THE BIG WHITE LIE and (currently
paperback) TRIANGLE OF DEATH, ISBN# 0 440 22367-9
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