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October 24, 1996

American Nurses Association Reviews Medical Marijuana

October 24, 1996, Washington, D.C.: The Congress of Nursing Practice recently approved two motions regarding the use of marijuana as a medicine. The Congress agreed to: A) "Support education for RNs regarding current evidence based therapeutic uses of cannabis," and B) "Support investigation of therapeutic efficacy of cannabis in controlled trials." These recommendations will be included in a report from the Congress to the American Nurses Association (ANA) Board of Directors at their next scheduled meeting.

The Congress took up the issue of medical marijuana following a presentation at the Centennial Conference of the American Nurses Association by two of the eight legal marijuana patients in support of the drug's therapeutic value. The Congress also reviewed a position paper submitted by the Virginia Nurses Association entitled "Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis," but failed to issue a position statement on that issue.

Nevertheless, Mary Lynn Mathre, RN, of Patients Out Of Time said that the Congress' twofold motion "is a de facto statement by the ANA that marijuana has medical value; a way of showing support for similar resolutions passed by other U.S. health care organizations; and should be recognized by the U.S. government as a polite way of calling for the denial of marijuana as medicine for the sick and dying as illogical." Mathre notes that state nursing associations of Virginia, Mississippi, Colorado, New York, and California have endorsed the use of marijuana as a medicine.

Patients Out of Time is a non-profit organization comprised of five of the eight legal marijuana patients in the United States and various health care professionals.

For more information, please contact Mary Lynn Mathre of Patients Out of Time at (804) 263-4484 or write to: 1472 Fish Pond Road, Howardsville, VA 24562.

Man Faces Prison Term For Using Marijuana To Ease Pain

October 24, 1996, Waterloo, IA: An Iowa man is facing prison for using marijuana to relieve the symptoms of chronic pain syndrome and fibromyalgia, a painful muscle disorder. On Monday, October 28, the Black Hawk County District Court will decide whether to revoke his probation for refusing to stop smoking marijuana.

Allen Helmers sustained a broken back in a 1983 car accident and was injured again in 1994 after being struck by a drunken driver. Six months before the second accident, police seized three ounces of marijuana from Helmers' home. He was placed on probation for 2 to 5 years under intensive supervision and fined $1,800.

Helmers says that the pain he suffers daily makes it necessary that he use marijuana. Helmers' doctor, W. H. Verdyne, agrees. "Chronic neurological pain responds well to the medicinal use of marijuana ... causing much less side effects than the standard pain medications," Verdyne said. He notes that routine medications have been unsuccessful in managing Helmers' pain.

"The state of Iowa gave Allen a criminal conviction for possession of marijuana, and now they want to revoke his probation because he refuses to stop smoking it," said Carl Olsen of Iowans for Medical Marijuana, who organized a protest on Helmers behalf earlier this month. "The state of Iowa has the law on its side. We have love and compassion. The law must change."

For more information, please contact Allen Helmers at (319) 233-1336 or Carl Olsen of Iowans for Medical Marijuana at (515) 262-6957. Olsen may also be contacted via the Internet at

Clinton Proposes Drug Testing Teenage Applicants For Driver's Licenses

October 19, 1996, Washington, D.C.: President Clinton proposed a new federal mandate on Saturday to require teenagers to pass a drug test before receiving a driver's license.

Stating that a driver's license is a "privilege that should not be available to those who fail to demonstrate responsible behavior," Clinton directed the Office of National Drug Control Policy to come up with a strategy to implement nationwide drug testing for all teen applicants. Clinton said that he hoped the "90 percent [of adolescents] who are drug-free" would participate in the program willingly.

"We're already saying to teens if you drink you aren't allowed to drive. Now we should say that teens should pass a drug test as a condition of getting a driver's license. Our message should be simple: No drugs or no driver's license."

Clinton's announcement drew harsh criticism from civil libertarians.

"Once again we see civil liberties being pulverized by the political posturing of the president," charged Libertarian Presidential candidate Harry Brown. "Once again, we see millions of Americans having to prove their innocence to government bureaucrats. ... Once again, we see the 'War on Drugs' being used as an excuse to give the federal government more power."

Arthur Spitzer, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) District of Columbia branch, said the move was an example of "this drug mania gone crazy." He said the organization would consider mounting a legal challenge.

It is not yet known whether Clinton's proposal, if implemented, would be in violation of Constitutional guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure. Most recently, the Supreme Court ruled that high school athletes could be randomly drug tested regardless of individualized suspicion.

"Mandatory drug testing is an affront to human dignity, and it's making a mockery of the United States Constitution," said NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. "Clinton's latest proposal is ill conceived and unjustly labels an entire generation as suspected drug users."

For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500. The ACLU may be contacted at (202) 544-1681.

California Man Fired From Job After Arrest For Growing Marijuana

October 24, 1996, Santa Rosa, CA: An epileptic charged with marijuana cultivation this past August was suddenly dismissed from his two caregiver jobs. Alan Martinez of Santa Rosa maintains that he grows and uses marijuana as a medicine and plans to raise a medical necessity defense in court. He notes that individuals like himself, if they possess a physicians recommendation, would have an exemption under the law if Proposition 215 passes this November.

Martinez worked for eight years as a well respected caregiver until his arrest this summer. He believes that the media attention that surrounded his plea of "not guilty" and request for a trial to prove his medical necessity has caused his employers to fire him without notice.

"I don't know what I'll do for money, but I know I will be acquitted and my name will be cleared," said Martinez. "I did not expect all the uproar, but I will not back down. This is a matter of my life and my health. I hope no other patients have to go through this."

A rally in support of Alan Martinez and his caregiver, Jason Miller, is scheduled for noon in front of the Santa Rosa Court House on Tuesday, October 29.

For more information, please contact Lynnette Shaw of the Marin-Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana at (415) 256-9328 or NORML Legal Committee member William Panzer at (510) 834-1892. Alan Martinez may be contacted at (707) 526-9842.



Regional and other news

Body Count

Seven of the 15 felons sentenced by Multnomah County courts in the most recent week received jail or prison terms for controlled-substance violations, according to the "Portland" zoned section of
The Oregonian, distributed in the central metropolitan area (Oct. 24, 1996, p. 8, 3M MP-SE). That makes the body count so far this year 311 out of 570, or 54.56 percent.

Mom Sells Daughters For Cocaine - Media Blame Cocaine

It seems all the media in Oregon have been sensationally reporting the lurid case of a Southeast Portland woman charged with prostituting her three daughters over a two-year period in order to sustain her cocaine habit. "Mom pleads guilty to prostituting three daughters to get cocaine," in the Oct. 18, 1996 Oregonian (pp. A1 & A20) was typical, opening with the lead sentence, "Desperate to feed her cocaine habit, authorities say, Sherri Rene Good turned to the most precious thing she had to bargain with: her children."

Always eager to out-Oregonian The Oregonian, Willamette Week was even quicker to imply an (illusory) correlation. In its Oct. 23 "Rogues of the Week" column, the once-alternative weekly opined that "Social theorists can argue chicken-and-egg forever about the root causes of drug addiction, prostitution and child abuse. But seldom have we seen a more roguish and disturbing example of the ripple effect of substance abuse than the case of Sherri Rene Good" [etc.etc.] (p. 8).

What is it about journalism school that makes its graduates think they know anything about science, logic or drugs?

The sensational assertion or implication that cocaine addiction or substance abuse is a cause of such repugnant behavior is profoundly ignorant and only makes our drug problems worse by promoting public misunderstanding and fear. According to even the most conservative surveys such as the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, there are thousands if not tens of thousands of cocaine users in the Portland area. The evidence suggests about 8 percent of such consumers develop dependency problems. (See for example the New York Times article, "Is Nicotine Addictive? together with an excerpt from Dr. Michael S. Gazzaniga's book, Mind Matters, in his chapter on "Addiction," posted at; also the interview with Dr. Gazzaniga in The National Review of July 10, 1995, posted at; and "The Swedish Experience," Chapter 39 from The Consumers Union Report on Licit & Illicit Drugs, pp. 294-298, by Edward M. Brecher and the editors of Consumer Reports, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1972, ISBN 0-316-10717-4, available for $14.95 plus $1.75 postage from New Morning Books in Mt. Morris, IL, 1-800-851-7039, stock # HB/44, posted at

So assuming there are perhaps hundreds of cocaine addicts in the Portland area, probably about half of them women, it should be obvious that the vast majority if not all do not prostitute their children. Thus to suggest that cocaine causes such behavior is to draw an illusory correlation as ignorant as if one inferred that successfully enforcing cocaine prohibition would stop child prostitution. It would be far more rational to infer that some other factor or factors in the woman's psychological makeup caused her to so exploit her children under such circumstances. Probably millions of American women have used cocaine without prostituting their children. Yet the media focus on one case and come up with a causal correlation. Perhaps they also think a rooster crowing makes the sun rise every morning?

No reasonable case be made either that "substance abuse" causes women to prostitute their children. Again, the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse suggests there are hundreds of thousands of mothers in the Portland area who are addicted to alcohol, cigarettes, heroin and methamphetamine, not to mention caffeine. Even more thousands are undoubtedly dependent on video poker, marijuana, watching television excessively and probably hundreds of other idiosyncratic but psychological obsessions.

The more obvious "cause" for Good's prostituting her children should be prohibition, but the media invariably failed to raise that issue, just as they universally failed to note last week's new figures from the FBI on the record numbers of drug arrests in 1995. By and large, women addicted to alcohol and tobacco currently do not have to prostitute their children to get those substances. If we prohibited such substances, we might see more of such cases - and more men who wanted to have sex with children (or the women themselves) stocking up on such contraband. If cocaine or substance abuse caused Good's behavior, would she have continued such behavior if she could have suddenly obtained cocaine cheaply under medical supervision? Of course not. Would she have had more opportunity to seek help for her problem? Undoubtedly. Would she have been less fearful of seeking help? You decide.

The editor wonders when the public and public officials will wake up and realize that journalists, by training, hardly know anything about anything, except what they read in each other's papers and hear from each other's broadcasts. Who elected a bunch of journalism majors to frame the major public policy issues of the day? Is it wise to entrust such responsibilities to people with a vested interest in fear, loathing, sensationalism and political correctness? In truth, the people in charge of the news nowadays are not journalists at all. Real journalists always report both sides of a story. Once media such as The Oregonian and Willamette Week start doing that, the drug war is as good as over.

(Of course, surveys have shown journalists use or have used illegal drugs at least as much as the rest of the population. However, that often leads such people to cover their tracks by adopting the party-line, pro-drug-war stance, or simply avoiding drug-related assignments.)

The best short overview of drugs, scientific methodology and the problems of casual and causal correlations is probably still the first chapter of Andrew Weil's out-of-print classic, The Natural Mind. Anyone involved with drug-policy issues - particularly journalists - should spend 20 minutes or so absorbing this memorable essay. Point your browser to

'Addiction To Work Can Be As Damaging As Drug Use'

Newhouse News Service
By Bill Lubinger
October 17, 1996

Being a hard worker is an admired trait, a sign of true character. But there's a fine line between having a solid work ethic and being a workaholic.

Crossing that line, being addicted to your job, can do as much damage as any chemical dependency. At best, the fallout is personal burnout and detachment from your spouse and kids. At worst, it can cause total disintegration of the family.

Striking a balance between work, family and personal enrichment is no easy task, especially with more employers tightening their belts and more pressure in the workplace to do more with less. Beepers, cellular phones and laptop computers allow workers to escape the office, but technology can also tether them to their jobs 24 hours a day.

Beating workaholism starts by identifying that you have it.

Deciding whether you fit the profile is also difficult because there's no set number of hours you must work to be a workaholic. An addiction to work doesn't mean merely spending too much time at the office. Being distracted at home, lost in thought about the next day's meeting, stressed over a problem at the office, can divert your attention away from the family's needs.

Workaholics tend to justify their behavior by insisting that not only is it normal, but that it's required if the family wants to continue enjoying the fruits of labor -- vacations, new cars, computers, dinners out, the latest fashions. That argument doesn't wash. What about the things money can't buy?

"Kids just want the parent to be there for them," Borodkin said.

Once you're willing to admit the problem, prioritize what's important to you. If your job is most important, then accept the consequences. Other parts of your life will be sacrificed.

Plan out family time. Those who are task-driven may find they actually have to schedule appointments with their spouse and children. If this is you, so be it. Use whatever it takes.

When vacations come up, take them. If your business is so structured that you fear it will fail without you for a week or two, then the company is either flawed or you are too insecure.

Be willing to delegate. Entrust work associates to handle the job. After all, someone entrusted you, otherwise you wouldn't be in this mess.

Believe that you can change. Dennis M. Lafferty, executive assistant to the managing partner of the Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue law firm, acknowledges that he learned the hard way. He has two sons, 11 and 13, and a grown daughter from a previous marriage, which crumbled partly because establishing himself professionally dominated his time.

Focus on the big picture. When is the last time you heard of someone on their deathbed who wished they had spent more time at the office?

New Los Angeles Times Poll - Proposition 215's Lead Increasing

"Proposition 209 Still Holding Strong Lead"
Los Angeles Times, Oct. 25, 1996
By Dan Morain, Times Staff Writer


Among the four other initiatives sampled, Proposition 215, the marijuana measure, was winning among likely voters, 58% to 32%, with 10% uncertain how they will vote. In September, the measure led by 53% to 31%, with 16% undecided.

The measure has gained a higher profile since the last poll, with cartoonist Garry Trudeau drawing "Doonesbury" comic strips supportive of the measure.

California Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren, who like most other law enforcement officials opposes Proposition 215, blasted the cartoonist for making light of drug use.

Proposition 215 would permit people with various ailments to use marijuana legally as long as they had approval from a physician.

The marijuana initiative leads among most groups, with one exception being conservative Republicans. Nearly three-fourths of voters 18 to 29 years old support the measure, while people 65 and older favor it by a margin of 45% to 39%, with the rest undecided. Women are more strongly in favor of it than men, with 62% of women backing it, and 57% of men supporting it.

James Retkovske, 59, of Long Beach, who suffers from the effects of a shattered vertebra, is among those who intend to vote for Proposition 215 because he would be able to obtain marijuana legally.

"I've always got pain, but marijuana makes it easier to take," Retkovske said, adding that the effects of marijuana allow him to stop taking stronger painkilling medication.

'Survey - Congress Hopefuls Lean To Drug Prevention'

USA Today, Oct. 23, 1996 (USA Today from Dialog via Individual Inc.)

Many Republican and Democratic congressional candidates rank prevention programs as the key to curbing a surge in youth drug abuse, views contrary to the law-and-order positions taken by their parties' presidential candidates.

According to a new survey, a copy of which was obtained by USA Today, 65% of the candidates who responded favor education programs over the punitive and interdiction strategies recently advanced by President Clinton and GOP nominee Bob Dole.

Forty-four percent of the 1,000 candidates contacted responded to the poll, conducted by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America.

"I'm not sure that some of these people get the seriousness of this issue," said James Copple, president and chief executive officer of the coalitions group. "The fact that some chose not to respond is a response in itself."

Drug abuse vaulted into the national political spotlight last month when a Clinton administration study found that drug use among 12- to 17-year-olds had doubled since 1992.

Since then, Dole has incorporated those statistics into his stump speeches, accusing Clinton of displaying a lack of leadership on the issue.

Clinton recently responded with a proposal that would deny driver's licenses to teen-agers if they failed drug tests.

Dole has called for the National Guard to become more involved in the drug war.

The coalitions survey, however, shows that many congressional candidates are leaning toward prevention-based strategies.

Among the survey's other findings:

Thirteen percent of the candidates who responded, including six incumbents, supported some type of legalization that included efforts to legalize marijuana for medical reasons.

Twenty-five percent opposed increased funding to make addiction treatment more available to prisoners.

By indicating widespread support for education programs, Copple said the survey suggests rare bipartisan agreement, especially among Republicans who have traditionally emphasized programs to cut illegal drug supplies to the nation's streets.

"Across the political spectrum there is now recognition that education and prevention is where you get the most bang for the buck," said Rep. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. "That's not to say that law enforcement and interdiction are not important. But the best time to reach people is before they get involved with drugs."

100 Italian MPs Move To Regulate Soft Drugs

ROME - (Agence France Presse, from Dialog via Individual Inc. Oct. 23, 1996) One hundred Italian members of parliament have endorsed a draft law legalizing soft drugs, the Ecological Federation announced Tuesday.

In a drive led by the secretary of state for justice, ecologist Franco Corleone, the deputies -- nearly a fifth of the lower chamber's membership -- backed a plan to legalize the sale and consumption of marijuana and hashish in licensed outlets.

"We want to create a liberal legislation like the one they have in the Netherlands," Corleone said.

While most of those who endorsed the draft law come from the center-left governing coalition, many other members of the chamber have made known their opposition.

The government, which is preparing a conference on soft-drug legalization in Naples, has not taken a position and indicated it would follow the parliament's lead.

Since 1993, possession of no more than three daily doses of soft drugs can only be punished by administrative measures, such as withdrawal of passport or driving license.

Seattle Dares To Evaluate DARE's Effectiveness

D.A.R.E. - R.I.P.
The Seattle Times, Oct. 18, 1996

Officer Friendly is gone. And now the death knell has sounded for the popular D.A.R.E. program in Seattle. Advocates are up in arms, but city officials made an unquestionably right and responsible decision to ax the $250,000 program.

Although public support is high, studies of the effectiveness of the anti-drug program over its 13-year history are equivocal.

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program was pioneered by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles public schools to build self-esteem and teach students to say "no" to drugs. The 17-week curriculum is taught by full-time police officers.

D.A.R.E. has been universally praised for increasing knowledge about drugs, developing social skills and improving kids' attitudes about police. The program has also been a public-relations success: D.A.R.E. stickers, T-shirts and bumper stickers are ubiquitous. As Seattle police chief Norm Stamper noted, "It is in many ways a symbol, like the American flag."

D.A.R.E. boosters worry that eliminating the program will end beneficial interactions between police and students. But according to the Seattle Police Department, violence-prevention and community-policing efforts now dispatch about 70 police officers to the schools each year - at a much lower cost.

To his credit, Stamper and other public officials in Spokane and Oakland, Calif., (who also have canceled D.A.R.E.) have looked beyond the feel-good aura surrounding the program. What they've found is that rigorous, objective evaluations paint a far less-flattering picture of D.A.R.E.'s success. A five-year study by drug-prevention expert Richard Clayton of the University of Kentucky found no meaningful difference in attitudes and behavior between D.A.R.E. students and students who did not take the course. The most comprehensive assessment of D.A.R.E., conducted by the respected Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina, found the program had no measurable effect on youth drug abuse.

If the allocation of limited resources were based on a popularity contest, D.A.R.E. would win hands down. But responsible local governments must demand more from their public investments than warm feelings.

"When we've got shrinking funds, we have to allocate officers in the most effective ways," Seattle Police spokeswoman Christie-Lynn Bonner told the Times this week. Exactly. Efficacy and cost-effectiveness are fundamental criteria for evaluating public policy. D.A.R.E. fails on both counts.

[For more details see DRCNet's "A Different Look at D.A.R.E." site at - ed.]

Hemp Voters Guide


New MPP Pages

Several articles have just been added to the Marijuana Policy Project's World Wide Web site at

  • 1996 Drug Strategy Released
  • Ann Landers Writes to MPP to Express Support
  • Candidate Calls for an End to the "Drug War"
  • House Judiciary Committee Holds Forfeiture Reform Hearing
  • Marijuana Mandatory Minimum Bill Introduced in Senate
  • Medicinal Marijuana in the States
  • NIH Rejects Medicinal Marijuana Study
  • San Francisco Buyers' Club Raided
  • Useful Studies & Reports
  • Welfare Bill Eliminates Benefits for Drug Felons

    The Marijuana Policy Project is the nation's only organization dedicated exclusively to lobbying Congress for reform. To support the MPP's work and receive the bimonthly (hard-copy) newsletter, "Marijuana Policy Report," please send $25.00 annual membership dues to:

    Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)
    P.O. Box 77492
    Capitol Hill
    Washington, D.C. 20013

    202-462-5747 TEL
    202-232-0442 FAX

    'Lighten Up, Cops! Yes On Medical Marijuana'

    San Jose Mercury News, Opinion, Oct. 20, 1996
    by Joseph D. McNamara

    Joseph D. McNamara is the retired police chief of San Jose and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

    I spent 35 years as a police officer and always believed that the majority of cops cared about people and saw their jobs as a way to protect citizens from harm and help them when they needed assistance. Thus, it saddens me to see some cops in a knee-jerk response oppose letting doctors prescribe medical marijuana for patients in agony from chemotherapy, glaucoma, or a number of other illnesses for which marijuana seems to help.

    Allowing doctors instead of cops to decide what is appropriate medicine is logical. Under the present law, sick people or their families are forced to become criminals in order to get a drug that can help them. In some cases patients simply give up and lose the will to live.

    Recently, I met Steve Kubby. Twenty years ago, doctors told him he had cancer and could expect to die within four or five months. But Steve Kubby is a fighter. He went into intensive treatment only to find that it made him desperately ill and sapped his desire to live. He then began smoking marijuana and now at age 48 is a successful businessman with a zest for life. He still has cancer but marijuana helps him cope with the side-effects of treatment. There are many such people.

    If marijuana had not been made illegal in 1937, medical research could have been done to determine just how useful it can be as medicine.

    Because I became a policeman when I was 21, I never tried marijuana and still haven't. But I see no reason to be hypocritical. It does not turn users into demons.

    Both President Clinton and Newt Gingrich tried marijuana without going on to harder drugs and lives of crime. Indeed, most of the police officers I hired during my 18 years as police chief admitted in their pre-employment interviews that they had tried marijuana. It didn't keep them from becoming fine police officers.

    I do not advocate using marijuana, but it is not a drug that always leads to violence or other crime. More than 70 million Americans have tried marijuana and very few become habitual users or career criminals. Nor has anyone ever died from using marijuana, unlike aspirin, alcohol, nicotine and many other legal drugs.

    Passage of Proposition 215 will not send a message leading more teenagers to use marijuana. In the Netherlands, marijuana is freely available, and the per capita teenage use of the drug is less than it is in the United States. However, passing Proposition 215 will send a message that Californians care about helping people cope with illnesses and don't want to turn them into criminals because some police officer disapproves of their medicine.

    'Caribbean Nations Find Little Profit In Aiding US Drug War'

    The New York Times, Oct. 24, 1996
    By Larry Rohter

    BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- Hoping for American gratitude and assistance, the English-speaking countries of the eastern Caribbean have in recent years devoted larger portions of their meager budgets to fighting drug trafficking. But now, to the dismay of many in the region, the United States is responding with a policy of economic retrenchment.

    Legislation to give Caribbean countries the same free-trade benefits as Mexico and Canada has been shelved in Congress, and a little-noticed provision of the minimum-wage bill that President Clinton signed in August eliminates federal tax incentives to encourage low-interest loans to the region. Also, the two sides are in a bitter dispute over export quotas for bananas, the backbone of most economies in the area.

    "What is the message being sent?" Keith Mitchell, the prime minister of Grenada, asked. "It is that our friends are abandoning us, that the rug is being pulled from under us, that we are being told we must sink or float on our own."

    The scaling back of Washington's economic commitment comes with the region's re-emergence as a favorite transit zone for cocaine and heroin traffickers. Caribbean countries are largely cooperating with antidrug efforts, U.S. officials say, and their leaders are clearly rankled by what they see as a lack of American economic support.

    "We've surrendered our sovereignty," James Mitchell, prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said at a recent meeting of the Caribbean Americas Business Network in Miami. "We've given the U.S. all the cooperation in the world. What else do they want?"

    American officials acknowledge some of the complaints, but they also say that eastern Caribbean nations have passed up opportunities through membership in regional lending institutions to ease their economic dependence on Washington. For their part, leaders of the 14 nations making up the Caribbean Community, a regional economic association known as Caricom, have been urging the Clinton administration to grant them trade parity with Mexico and Canada, the United States' partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement.

    But Congress adjourned this month without taking action on the measure, which was intended to supplement the largely moribund Caribbean Basin Initiative created by the Reagan administration.

    In a report last month, the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a Washington-based research group, attributed the delay in action to "partisan and special interest opposition" in Congress. The council said American legislators were wary of offending fruit lobbyists.

    Caricom leaders say they need access to free trade to help compensate them for a drop of nearly 90 percent in American economic assistance to the region over the last decade, from $225 million to $26 million. In August, a provision in the new minimum-wage law ended tax breaks for American corporations doing business in Puerto Rico.

    At the same time, Washington is challenging the traditional system of trade preferences that allows many Caricom nations to export their products to European nations either duty free or at vastly reduced tariff rates. One such proposal, which Caribbean leaders say could cripple the region's banana industry, is now before the World Trade Organization.

    "It seems shortsighted and baffling," said Frank Alleyne of the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of the West Indies. "What about the cost in social unrest? If they succeed, drug cultivation will increase, mark my word. Farmers must find another crop, and that crop is marijuana."

    'Yes On Prop. 215: A Mission Of Mercy'

    San Francisco Examiner, Sunday, Oct. 20, 1996
    By Dennis Peron

    I co-wrote "The Compassionate Use Act" - Proposition 215, which would authorize medical use of marijuana - as a eulogy for my lover, Jonathan, who died of AIDS.

    Marijuana was the one drug, of more than 20 that were legally prescribed, that eased his nausea and stimulated his appetite. It also cheered him up.

    I wanted to leave for Jonathan, and for all the young people who have died of AIDS, a legacy of love and compassion.

    What started as a eulogy has become a larger and deeper mission of mercy, embracing the sick and dying from all walks of life. If you live in San Francisco, Prop. 215 could be about AIDS; in the Central Valley, cancer; in Leisure World, glaucoma and arthritis.

    Prop. 215 is for Scott Hager, a 34-year-old para-Olympics athlete whose house was raided by Santa Cruz police for four marijuana plants. They produced medication to control violent muscle spasms caused by his quadriplegia.

    Prop. 215 is for Byron Stamate, a 74-year-old retiree who was arrested in El Dorado County for growing marijuana to treat his girlfriend's chronic back pain.

    She committed suicide so she wouldn't have to testify against him in court. His home and life savings were seized by the sheriff's department, and he spent more than three months in jail.

    Prop. 215 is for Barbara Sweeny of Fairfax, an AIDS patient arrested for growing marijuana. She suffers from a chronic infection. Her prescribed drugs have terrible side effects that marijuana helps alleviate. After her arrest, she was instructed to try Marinol, a synthetic marijuana substitute that costs $300 a bottle. It didn't work very well at a cost of nearly $600 per week, paid by Medi-Cal.

    Prop. 215 is for Samuel Skipper, another AIDS patient. He was arrested in San Diego for growing his own marijuana for himself and his partner, who also suffered from AIDS. Sam went to prison, where he was stabbed and beaten by violent inmates.

    Prop. 215 is for Karen Thompson's 15-year-old son with Crohn's disease. He sometimes throws up 40 to 50 times a day after chemotherapy. Karen, who would watch her son on his knees with his head over the open toilet bowl, said, "When he takes two puffs from a marijuana cigarette, relief is almost immediate."

    Prop. 215 is for Hazel Rodgers, a 78-year-old glaucoma sufferer who credits marijuana with helping save her sight.

    Prop. 215 is for John Boyce, late husband of Anna Boyce, a nurse. After he was diagnosed with cancer, a man who prided himself on his law-abiding nature was so pained at the end of his life that he had to do something illegal to get relief from chemotherapy nausea.

    Prop. 215 is for Brownie Mary, 76, and the people she calls "kids." These are the young people with AIDS on Ward 86 at San Francisco General Hospital, where she has been a volunteer for 16 years. She has testified about the relief her kids get from her marijuana brownies.

    Prop. 215 is also for all the overworked district attorneys caught up in a moral dilemma, forced to prosecute sick and dying people for victimless marijuana offenses.

    Prop. 215 is for the brave police of California sworn to protect us, not to arrest the sick. I co-wrote the measure to ease their load and their consciences. It will allow them to concentrate on stopping violent crimes. It will save the taxpayers millions of dollars.

    (Marijuana sales will still be illegal, but Prop. 215 encourages state and federal governments to make medical marijuana accessible to the ill.)

    Prop. 215 is for the oncologists and AIDS specialists who watch helplessly as their patients retch or waste away.

    Prop. 215 is not about encouraging teens to use marijuana. I support all efforts against glorification of drug use, including alcohol and cigarettes. But do we want to imply to our youth that sick and dying people can't have a medicine because of them?

    Will we be remembered as a people who denied patients medicine for purely political reasons? Are we prepared to build more prisons? Who are we? Where are we going?

    The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 reaches into the centuries-old wisdom of the past, when cannabis was recognized as a valuable medicine, and turns it into a gift to people of the future. It will herald a turn toward a more loving and compassionate society.

    'Dole Backs The Big Lie In Drug War'

    Column Left
    By Robert Scheer
    Los Angeles Times, Oct. 22, 1996

    He exploits dependency for political purpose, using the myth that all narcotics are the same.

    Bob Dole will win the drug war. Bob "My Word Is My Bond" Dole says he will not "go AWOL" like that pansy Clinton: "When I'm president of the United States, we're going to use the National Guard and whatever sources we need to stop some of the drugs coming into America. If you stop the drugs, nobody's going to use the drugs."

    Way to go, Bob. Great stuff. Just seal the border and if the drugs can't come in, why of course nobody will be able to buy them and, voila, no drug problem. It's so simple, why didn't Clinton think of that?

    Actually, he did, spending $3 billion more a year than his predecessor did in the futile war on drugs. But the bipartisan effort, spanning three administrations, aimed at drying up the foreign supply and interdicting the flow of drugs through our borders, hasn't worked - and won't, ever. Federal expenditures to control the supply of drugs have increased fivefold in the past 10 years, but cocaine and heroin are cheaper, purer and more available today.

    No politician has the guts to admit it, but the supply of drugs cannot be effectively controlled because they are too easy to grow and smuggle. As a report by the respected, nonpartisan Washington policy research institute, Drug Strategies, points out: "A single DC-3 flight can bring a year's supply of heroin into the U.S. and 12 trailer trucks can bring in a year's supply of cocaine." A 25-square-mile area is sufficient to grow enough opium to feed the U.S. market, so burning poppy fields won't turn the trick. Dole can draft every adult American into the National Guard and it won't accomplish a damn thing.

    Even if you stopped drugs from coming into the country, that wouldn't affect the supply of marijuana, which is primarily home-grown and accounts for three-quarters of drug use. And it doesn't speak to the synthetic stimulants produced in domestic laboratories, or prescription drugs, which together represent a rapidly growing share of the drug market.

    Nor does arresting people in this country do anything at all to cut the supply. We now arrest three times as many people for drug possession and sale as we did in 1980, but despite 1.3 million arrests last year, the availability of drugs only increased. Drug convictions now account for two-thirds of the inmates in the federal prison system. Dole brags about carrying a copy of the 10th Amendment ("The powers not delegated to the U.S. . . . are reserved to the states . . . or to the people") in his pocket but seems blissfully unaware that the drug war represents a most irrational federal intrusion into our lives.

    The only way to impact drug use is to cut demand through education and treatment, but no politician wants to talk about that because it makes for a wimpy sound bite. In the best study of the cost of comparative strategies for cutting cocaine use, the Rand Corp. concluded that money spent on treatment is 10 times more effective in lowering usage than funding for interdiction at the border and 23 times more so than going after foreign producers.

    Yet the Clinton administration has continued the practice of its Republican predecessors in expanding efforts to control the supply of drugs while devoting only modest resources to cutting demand. With two out of three federal dollars still wasted on futile efforts to control the supply, treatment programs, including those designed for prisoners, go woefully underfunded. Federal prisons can treat only about 10% of prisoners who have drug habits.

    More important, it is not possible to educate about drugs while being dishonest. Young people in particular need to be taught about the relative risks of all drugs, including tobacco and alcohol, but the deliberate misinformation campaign built into the anti-drug war has only backfired. Smoking marijuana is not the same as shooting up heroin, and insisting that they are equally destructive only increases cynicism toward authority and a desire to experiment on one's own. The undifferentiated drug war hysteria perpetuated by Dole in the presidential campaign continues the big lie by once again treating all drugs as one and the same.

    Someday a major candidate will emerge with the courage to challenge the assumptions of drug war and announce a program to treat dependency as a complex medical problem rather than a simplistic military matter. In the meantime, we will have to suffer the costly foolishness of those like Dole who seek to exploit drug dependency for rank political purpose.

    Here's a man who in his 35 years in Congress never once dealt seriously with this issue; now he suddenly discovers its uses in the waning days of a desperate campaign. Yet another reason not to trust Bob Dole.

    Robert Scheer Is a Times Contributing Editor.

    CADCA Survey Reveals That Congressional Candidates Support Different Drug Strategy Than Presidential Candidates

    Contact: Kellie Foster, 1-800-54-CADCA
    Wednesday, October 23, 1996

    Congressional and Senate Candidates Focus on Prevention Over Interdiction and Law Enforcement

    WASHINGTON, DC (October 23, 1996) -- CADCA released telling results of a survey -- more than 1,000 candidates for House and Senate seats were polled -- that revealed a majority (65 percent) ranked prevention programs higher than domestic supply reduction, interdiction or law enforcement in solving our nation's drug crisis. Recent national attention, including the rhetoric of the Presidential candidates, has focused on interdiction not prevention. Taking action as a result of the survey results, CADCA has created a 1996 Voter's Guide which will be distributed to its 4,000 members this week.

    "The candidates overwhelming supported prevention above treatment, interdiction and law enforcement as the most effective means of dealing with our current drug crisis," said James E. Copple, President and CEO of CADCA the largest anti-drug coalition in the US. "The message, however, has been lost in the current Presidential Campaign and lost in the Congressional budget debates on this vital and controversial issue. What had been perceived as "pork" in the debates about the Crime Bill is now being supported as a viable strategy. This is a major shift in thinking."

    Among the survey's other findings:

  • Eighty eight percent supported federal funding for community based substance abuse prevention program;
  • Thirteen percent of the candidates, including six incumbents, supported some type of legalization;
  • More than seventy percent supported federal funding of treatment for women and adolescents;
  • Eighty five percent supported maintaining the age 21 as he national legal drinking age;
  • Sixty six percent supported a federal tax incentive to encourage businesses to establish drug-free workplace programs.

    In a Gallup Poll released in December of 1995, Americans placed prevention and education as the most cost-effective means of reducing substance abuse. The release of Household Survey data by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in late August caught most policy makers by surprise. That data pointed to an alarming 78 percent increase in the use of drugs amongst youth in the past four years. Following the release of this data, former Senator Bob Dole attacked President Clinton for being AWOL on the drug issue and President Clinton responded with law enforcement-style strategies such as drug testing to all teens as a condition of getting a driver's license.

    "Ironically, neither campaign bothered to look at the facts, nor did they look at what American people believed to be the real solution," said Copple. "Interdiction and law enforcement efforts and approaches to seal off our borders from the flow of drugs into this country have done little or nothing about the price of drugs on the streets. The street price for cocaine, heroine and marijuana have remained the same for the past ten years. Unfortunately, interdiction approaches have had little or no impact on supply."

    CADCA, a nonpartisan, privately funded non-profit organization of 4,000 community-based anti-drug coalitions conducted a survey of Congressional candidates for the purpose of issuing a voter guide. The survey, which is part of a larger campaign by CADCA to raise awareness among national leaders, policy makers and the voting public about the drug issue, revealed that an overwhelming 97 percent of the candidates responding would be willing to get involved personally in their own district.

    Congressman Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who has been working with CADCA since August of 1995, has created an anti-drug coalition in the 2nd Congressional District of Ohio. This Congressional Coalition is structured to bring together key influentials in the community with grassroots leaders to construct a broad-based plan with programs and strategies for reducing drug abuse. Rep. Portman has also worked with CADCA to conduct a day-long coalition building training session for close to 40 Republican Congressional staff members. Both the House of Republican Conference and the Democratic Caucus have passed unanimous resolutions endorsing anti-drug coalitions as an effective strategy in combating illegal drugs in their communities.

    "Since the release of the Household Survey, approximately 100,000+ kids have experimented with drugs for the first time and another 2,000 have died as a result of their use and/or addiction," said Copple. "We cannot afford to trivialize this debate any longer. Discussions or debates about what aide to what candidates used drugs in the sixties is counter productive. America's youth are smarter than that and they deserve substantive responses to their concerns."

    The 1996 Voter's Guide is being distributed to CADCA's network of more than 4,000 community-based coalitions this week. The guide will provide local coalitions with a tool to work with their local policy makers leading up to the November election and beyond.

    Founded in 1992, CADCA currently represents more than 4,000 coalitions members in the US including grassroots coalitions, educators, law enforcement, drug demand reduction coordinators and many others fighting substance abuse and drug-related violence. CADCA's mission is to promote and facilitate comprehensive responses to the nation's problems of drugs and drug-related violence.

    Jim Copple is available for interviews.

    Date: 10/23/1996

    Distributed by Join Together Online:

    Bob Curley
    Forum Editor - Join Together Online (
    National Editor - Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Weekly
    Principal - Expert Editorial
    205 Heritage Road
    North Kingstown, R.I. 02852
    (401) 886-4322
    fax: (401) 885-4659

    2 Letters, Pro And Con, On The Laura Kriho 'Juror Rights' Trial


    The Mountain-Ear, Oct. 17, 1996
    Letter to the Editor

    Not quite ready for jury nullification

    Recent letters to The Mountain-Ear reflect a great deal of misinformation about the Laura Kriho case and the American jury system in general. Having served as both a prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney, I'd like to offer the following comments.

    First, Ms. Kriho is not being punished for "voting her conscience." This is not a case in which a lone juror held out because she believed the prosecution had failed to meet its burden of proof; this is a case in which a juror who disapproved of certain drug laws lied about her past and her willingness to follow the law in order to serve on a jury and then disobeyed the judge by urging other jurors to disregard the law.

    Second, nobody is denying Ms. Kriho a jury trial because of what she did. Though I personally disagree, the Supreme Court has held that a person facing six months or less in jail has no constitutional right to a trial by jury. Ms. Kriho is not being treated any differently than anyone else cited for such an offense.

    Third, contrary to what one reader suggested, Gilpin County Judge Fred Rodgers did not publish an article on how to prosecute obstructionist jurors. Judge Rodgers' article in the summer issue of The Judges' Journal was submitted to that magazine as a result of the acquittal of O.J. Simpson and long before the Kriho incident arose. The article, which I found to be both scholarly and balanced, alerted judges across the nation to the First Amendment issues which may arise when groups such as the so-called Fully Informed Jury Association appear at courthouses and attempt to make contact with jurors who have sworn to follow the law.

    I have mixed feelings about jury nullification. When representing criminal defendants, there were times when I hoped jurors would disregard laws I considered to be draconian or archaic. On the other hand, followed to its logical conclusion, giving jurors the right to disregard the law ultimately does away with the rule of law altogether.

    Readers considering this issue should remember that jury nullification can work both ways. Consider the case of Oklahoma City bombing suspects Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Suppose several closet supporters of the militia movement wormed their way onto the jury by lying about their beliefs and their willingness to follow the law. Even if the evidence of guilt was overwhelming, the doctrine of jury nullification would allow those jurors to acquit merely because they didn't like the way some federal agencies handled the situation at Waco. After all, they would just be "voting their conscience."

    Though I disagree with some of our laws, I'm not quite ready to accept jury nullification.

    Mark S. Cohen


    Letter to the Editor
    Submitted: October 20, 1996

    To: The Editor, the Mountain-Ear via email:

    From: Paul Grant

    Re: Laura Kriho Case

    In response to Mark Cohen's letter (10/17/96), I must offer some corrections to his attempts to straighten out some facts about Laura Kriho's case. As Laura's attorney, I am closer to the facts, and I wonder where Mr. Cohen got his supposed facts.

    1. Mr. Cohen is entitled to his opinion as to why Laura Kriho has been prosecuted. The facts are, however, that what she did in the jury room was thoroughly evaluate the prosecutor's evidence - and she found it insufficient to convict on one two counts, sufficient for conviction on a third count. She also informed the other jurors that jurors have rights. After the trial, outside the courthouse, she even provided a brochure dealing with jury rights, to another juror.

    That's what provoked the judge to ask for an investigation and prosecution of Laura Kriho - her discussion of juror rights - if the evidence presented at trial - by other jurors - is to be believed.

    Mr. Cohen says Laura lied during jury selection. That is not true, it's just a libelous statement he repeats. There was no evidence offered at trial that any statement made by Laura was false. Those accusations against her were not supported by any evidence.

    2. Concerning the fact Laura was not allowed a jury trial: at first she was given one, then the prosecutor realizing he couldn't win with a jury, decided to limit the punishment he would seek to "no more than 6 months" so he could eliminate the jury. Legal? Yes. Ethical - No.

    3. Mr. Cohen didn't read the Judge Rodgers' article (The Judge's Journal, Summer 1996) very well, if he thinks it was written long before Laura Kriho's case. His article includes facts about Laura's case - incorrect facts, by the way - and does recommend prosecuting "obstructionist jurors." Why Mr. Cohen denies what is written in black and white, I won't presume to guess.

    What is peculiar about Judge Rodgers' article - and perhaps the Judge will explain this publicly - is, how could the judge submit this article before Laura Kriho was even charged, as he apparently did, yet include facts about her case? Where did he get his information? And why was he writing about a pending case?

    Mr. Cohen describes Judge Rodgers' article as scholarly and balanced. That's strange, since anyone who knows the subject matter addressed in the article - jury nullification and the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA)- would have to find Judge Rodgers' article full of misinformation, hostility and open bias.

    Judge Rodgers tries to taint jury nullification as having racist roots, and he gave short shrift to the history of jury nullification, overlooking that heroic juries were instrumental in establishing freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, resistance to slavery, rejection of Prohibition, and many other noble achievements. America's Founding Fathers benefited from juries refusing to convict under what they considered unjust British laws.

    And those jurors who resisted government oppression were not prosecuted, not after the jurors who acquitted William Penn in 1670 were fined, imprisoned, and later freed, establishing that jurors can't be punished for ignoring the judge's instructions or the law.

    What Mr. Cohen really does not understand about juries and the law, is that both emanate from "the people." Whatever law we have in this country, originates with the people. The jury is the voice of the people in the courtroom. We won't allow (in theory, but the Supreme Court finds ways around the theory) anyone to be deprived of life or liberty, without a fair and public trial, and a conviction, by a jury of one's peers. If the jury considers application of the law unjust, it is their right and their duty to acquit.

    Judges don't make law, even legislatures don't make law - they just think they do. Legislatures propose law, judges interpret their proposals - the people decide what is the law, by what laws they are willing to abide by, and what laws they are willing to enforce.

    Society readily accepts traditional laws against violence, and juries will gladly convict dangerous criminals, to keep them off the streets. Many other laws are not so universally accepted, and fair cross-sectional juries refusing to convict will send that message back to the legislatures, so the laws can be modified. Without the fair, cross-sectional jury, that message never gets back to the legislatures, and injustices are perpetrated in the courts.

    Mr. Cohen is afraid of this jury power. As with any freedom, there are risks. But his alternative is to allow judges to purge juries of anyone willing to question the law, of anyone willing to ignore the judge if necessary to do justice. And he supports prosecuting those jurors who do exercise their prerogative (recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court many times) to ignore the judge's instructions.

    Mr. Cohen is not quite ready to accept jury nullification - a right established in 1670, and a right important in the founding of this country, and in establishing free speech and a free press, and in ending slavery. Whether he is ready or not, jury nullification exists, it is a right, and the more judges and prosecutors attempt to suppress it, the more attention they bring to it.

    We have a glorious tradition of resisting oppression in this country. Sometimes we are just a little slow to recognize oppression, we are slow to anger. Perhaps that is why it took so long to end slavery. Prosecuting courageous jurors like Laura Kriho may help us wake up to the fact that our legal system has become terribly oppressive. In the last 100 years, the legal system itself has been responsible for taking away many of our freedoms, and hiding others. Jury nullification is a right, and a freedom, which we are now rediscovering.

    We have too many laws in this country, too little freedom. Jury power can show us which laws are not widely accepted, so that we can weed them out. A system of laws which is supported by the people's willingness to enforce them, will garner a lot more respect than the special interest-favoring legal system we have today. Jury nullification is a wonderful idea, whose time has come again.

    Paul Grant

    The Mountain-Ear
    P.O. Box 99
    Nederland, CO 80466
    Phone: (303) 258-7075
    Fax: (303) 258-3547
    Online Forum:

    The Jury Rights Project (
    To be added to or removed from this mailing list, send e-mail.
    Background info.:
    Donations to support Laura's defense can be made to:
    -- Laura Kriho Legal Defense Fund --
    c/o Paul Grant (defense attorney)
    Box 1272, Parker, CO 80134
    Phone: (303) 841-9649

    Dennis Peron On Cover of People Magazine

    Marnie Regen writes:


    People Magazine has featured Dennis Peron on the cover of this week's (month's?) edition. A two-page article about him, the club and the proposition can be found at

    'Drugs Seep Into Texas Despite Kingpin's Fall'

    Los Angeles Times, October 20, 1996
    Crime: A Houston jury may have convicted Juan Garcia Abrego, but smuggling from Mexico is still booming.

    By Mark Fineman, Times Staff Writer

    MATAMOROS, Mexico--Reflecting on last week's guilty verdict against the drug lord who has both tantalized and terrorized this gritty border town, Virginia Castillo thought immediately of Norma Moreno.

    Castillo and Moreno were reporters in Matamoros when Juan Garcia Abrego, a cookie-factory worker turned drug dealer, was building the foundation here for what became his multibillion-dollar smuggling cartel.

    Outraged, Moreno, 24, wrote a series of crusading columns against members of the Garcia Abrego family, the budding drug trade and the corruption that both fostered and grew from it. After a particularly scathing column about Garcia Abrego's uncle appeared, gunmen approached Moreno outside the newspaper office and shot her 17 times; then they shot the paper's owner 10 times.

    That was July 17, 1986.

    On Friday, as Castillo thumbed through the yellowed clippings bearing Moreno's last printed words, she shook her head: "No. I don't think this verdict is sufficient justice. . . . And no, I don't think it will change anything here.

    "It's not just Juan Garcia Abrego. He is guilty of many things. But there are still many others--in Mexico and in the United States."

    Two days after the verdict in Houston federal court that U.S. officials called "the final chapter" in Garcia Abrego's rise and fall, Mexican and U.S. officials said the cross-border flow of illegal drugs is as enduring as Castillo's painful memories in the town that was Abrego's imperial seat.

    A U.S. Border Patrol supervisor in Brownsville, Texas, just across the international bridge from Matamoros, told reporters Thursday that trafficking in illegal immigrants is down locally but that the drug trade is still booming. On average, more than half a ton of marijuana is confiscated along the 50-mile-wide stretch of border in and near Matamoros every month, federal authorities say. But they estimate that they seize only 10% of the illegal drugs coming through, a figure unchanged from before Garcia Abrego's arrest.

    The same day Garcia Abrego was convicted on 22 counts of using bribes and brutality to smuggle more than $1 billion worth of cocaine and marijuana into the United States between 1980 and 1996, an American police officer testified in another trial in Texas that as recently as this year, one U.S. Border Patrol agent took more than $1 million in bribes to protect Mexican drug shipments.

    "Drug trafficking is continuing here as before," said Gustavo Amador, a senior Matamoros police officer.


    And the drug-related death toll here has taken a worrisome jump, recalling the days in 1991 when scores of people were killed in a war between Garcia Abrego and his rivals. Within days of Mexico's dramatic January arrest and extradition of Garcia Abrego, the first accused drug baron ever placed on the FBI's most-wanted list, police found two men in an abandoned car, handcuffed and shot through the head--a characteristic, authorities said, of drug hits.

    In the months since, a Garcia Abrego bodyguard and another member of his Gulf cartel have been gunned down in assassinations that police suspect were part of the latest battle for control of this strategic area. North of the border, at least eight corpses have turned up during the last six months in and near the sleepy town of Brownsville. All of the victims had been tortured and shot in the head, with metal wire tying their hands.

    "They have this uncanny ability to regroup," Don Ferrarone, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's chief for Texas, said of the Mexican cartels. His agency estimates that those organizations still supply up to three-fourths of the cocaine sold in the United States.

    Ferrarone and Mexican drug experts said much of Garcia Abrego's turf has been absorbed by Amado Carrillo Fuentes, whose powerful Juarez cartel operates from the border city of Ciudad Juarez about 700 miles northwest of here. Carrillo and the Tijuana-based Arellano Felix brothers, whom officials have accused of recently murdering two Mexican drug agents as part of a fierce assault on the government, now dominate the entire border through a loose-knit "federation," authorities said.

    Meanwhile, Garcia Abrego's name and reputation endure in Matamoros. The troubadours in Plaza Allende in the heart of this poor town still celebrate the organization and its leader in song: A "narco-ballad" called "The Soapy Fish" is still among the top requests, the performers say. The song glorifies the life of a renegade drug kingpin so elusive that "it would be easier to catch a soapy fish."

    Nearby, at a protest rally outside City Hall a day after the Garcia Abrego verdict, critics described the state of their city with a single word: "anarchy." Police--short on resources and responsible for a population of more than 300,000--concede they're outgunned by the drug gangs. Few drug-related murders are solved. And many residents decline even to publicly discuss Garcia Abrego or the drug trade for fear of retribution.

    Reaction to the drug lord's conviction was mixed here, where some families have been destroyed by the drug trade and others have come to depend on it.

    "Some people here were happy, because [they believe] he killed their relatives," said Amador. "But other people were sad, because they're afraid it could mean the big money will stop flowing."


    Adelina Ramirez's son Albert, 18, disappeared without a trace after he was kidnapped in 1989 in Brownsville. Ramirez, who in February won a $6-million wrongful-death judgment against Garcia Abrego in Texas in connection with Albert's disappearance, said she was happy about last week's verdict. "But we still don't know about our son," she said.

    Matamoros was a natural base for Garcia Abrego, a U.S. citizen whose papers show his birthplace as the nearby Texas town of La Paloma. Matamoros is wedged against the southern tip of Texas and beside the Rio Grande, on what traditionally has been one of the most porous smuggling routes between Mexico and the United States.

    The route was forged with hooch during Prohibition by the drug lord's uncle, Juan N. Guerra, witnesses against Garcia Abrego have testified. The witnesses stated that Garcia Abrego--who was first arrested on U.S. soil in 1972 for car theft--used the route for marijuana as he started his empire in the late 1970s.

    Officials say that in the mid-1980s, when intensified U.S. patrols interrupted the Colombian cartels' cocaine shipments to southern Florida, Garcia Abrego pioneered ties to the cocaine producers, who gave the Mexican cartels up to 50% of each shipment in exchange for their transporting it by land into the United States.

    "He went from being a car thief in 1972 to being one of the biggest drug dealers in the country," a senior FBI agent said of Garcia Abrego. The Houston jury determined that he had amassed illegal wealth of at least $350 million in the United States alone.

    Basic economics drove many in Matamoros, where the minimum wage is about a tenth of what it is in the United States, into a drug-smuggling industry that Mexican investigators say generated $30 billion in profit in Mexico last year. And Garcia Abrego had even more available manpower after Mexico's economy plunged into crisis nearly two years ago, say church officials, local police and others.

    "Because of the crisis, there are now many people here who have dedicated their lives to the drug trade," explained Armando Gutierrez of Matamoros' most popular radio station, XEWS, who, echoing the troubadours, said "The Soapy Fish" is the most popular request in town.

    "These are young people who have no options. . . . They want to become heroes--like Juan Garcia Abrego. . . . For some, yes, he was a hero. The people with little education, they were excited by the fact that he made so much money and nobody could catch him. Others, no. Because they know how much damage drugs can do."

    Local police have long felt helpless against the Gulf cartel's firepower, brutality and riches.

    "We don't even have bulletproof vests," Amador said during an interview some months ago. "All we have are .38-caliber [pistols]. We don't have rifles. We don't even have [enough] patrol cars."


    On Friday, the police fleet grew by 25% when neighboring Brownsville donated seven used patrol cars to the force. Alarmed by the drug violence on its border, the Texas town also gave the Matamoros police 70 bulletproof vests and 120 rifles and shotguns.

    But Garcia Abrego's organization operated with impunity in and around Matamoros largely because it paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes to officials on both sides of the border, witnesses have testified. Along with the continuing drug crime, said Matamoros' deputy police commander, Jose Manuel Meguizo, the town has suffered from an enduring fear.

    "I don't want to say anything," he added, when asked his opinion of the Garcia Abrego case. Echoing the sentiments of many residents, he added: "He has people inside and outside [prison]. It's not that I respect him. I just don't want any problems."

    'Border Drug War'

    The San Diego Union-Tribune, Sunday, Oct. 20, 1996
    By Ana Arana

    Itchy & Scratchy
    EL PAS0 -- Surprised U.S. officials didn't find a stash of drugs in the Honda Accord abandoned at El Paso's Bridge of The Americas, a major drug smuggling entry point. Instead, a gruesome bundle was hidden in the trunk - the slashed bodies of Jose Refugio Rubalcava, a former Juarez police chief, and his two older sons. The chief's body showed signs of torture. A yellow bow was tied around his mouth - a macabre message from Amado Carrillo Fuentes to turncoats, police said.

    A known U.S. informant, Rubalcava reportedly was gathering information for an indictment against Amado Carrillo Fuentes, the Juarez drug lord, known for his viciousness and shrewdness. Rubalcava's two grown sons were unfortunate enough to be helping their father in this investigation.

    "It was a hideous message," said Carlos Diaz de Leon, El Paso's representative for the Mexican Attorney General's office. "But he was very useful to U.S. officials, thus the giftwrap."

    Rubalcava and his two sons were victims of the escalating violence linked directly to drug trafficking along the U.S.-Mexico border. Authorities on both sides expect more of the same, and not just along the Texas portion of the 1,800 mile border.

    In Tijuana, barely more than a 20-minute drive from downtown San Diego, the Felix-Arellano cartel is locked in a head-on an confrontation with Mexican authorities. Increasingly bold and ruthless, the Arellano operation is believed responsible for the recent assassinations of two Mexican government prosecutors assigned to Tijuana specifically to break its drug trafficking network.

    The conviction last week of former drug kingpin Juan Garcia-Abrego, who until early this year headed the Gulf cartel, will have no impact on future Mexican drug shipments. By all accounts, Abrego was not a powerful trafficker by the time of his arrest. His lieutenants already have joined ranks with Amado Carrillo Fuentes of the Juarez cartel, who is rapidly moving into that territory.

    The Juarez cartel has become Mexico's most powerful drug trafficking group. Carrillo Fuentes has always held an important position in the Mexican Federation, the loosely organized group that represents all Mexican traffickers. He had the best contacts with the Colombian drug cartels and had always served as deal maker among the trafficking families. He also crafted a delicate web of corruption that protects him to this date.

    In a three-month investigation of recent violence in Juarez and adjoining border cities, it has become evident that Carrillo Fuentes is in a massive power takeover which has left behind a trail of bodies as he has changed the rules of the game. Last year, for instance, he took advantage of legal problems faced by Colombian drug cartels at home and murdered a top Colombian trafficker. The killing sent a chilling message that he was determined to put an end to Colombian control of the Mexico drug business.

    Subsequently, Carrillo Fuentes has reinforced his direct contacts with cocaine producers in Peru and Bolivia, and has his eyes set on becoming the top trafficker in the hemisphere - the Pablo Escobar of Mexico. If Carrillo Fuentes continues unchecked, it portends more violence for the entire U.S.-Mexico border and serious repercussions for the border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

    His rise has caught many U.S. officials by surprise, as U.S. anti drug efforts are still directed in a state-by-state manner, and not necessarily in a smoothly coordinated way.

    Carrillo Fuentes has seriously damaged U.S. anti-drug efforts in the Texas area by targeting U.S. informants of the caliber of Rubalcava, which take years to cultivate. And he's apparently behind attacks against U.S. personnel and their relatives, which he has shrewdly masked as common crimes to avoid retaliation from U.S. authorities.

    One such attack was conducted by his underlings who attempted to murder a U.S. agent in a border city. The agent had identified the cartel's shipping routes, which cost the Carrillo Fuentes organization millions of dollars in lost cocaine revenue. After the murder attempt, the agent was quickly relocated to an inland post for his own safety.

    The 1995 murder of the brother of a high-ranking Drug Enforcement Agency official (who has since retired) was belatedly tied to the drug kingpin. Likewise, the 1994 disappearance and presumed murder of a U.S. telecommunications expert who apparently was a low-level free-lance operative gathering intelligence information in Jaurez for an unidentified U.S. agency.

    These two incidents are just part of the escalating border violence in Juarez, where 600 people have been killed in the last two years.

    The violence is an indication of the drug kingpin's heightened sense of bravura, drug experts say.

    "Amado is becoming richer and more violent. The drug gangs are doing business at a higher level and they are striking at their competitors and at the United States," said Don Ferrarone, special agent in charge of the DEA's office in Houston. "We've warned Washington."

    At the July Southwest Drug Summit in El Paso, U.S. officials announced tighter policies to curtail drug trafficking. But critics, including retired drug enforcement officials, say efforts do not match the message. "Many of the problems we have now arose because we couldn't get Washington interested," said a retired DEA agent, who held a top position in Mexico a few years ago. For a time, agents complained, Washington only cared about getting approval for the North American Trade Agreement, and ignored the resilience of Mexican drug gangs. Indeed, the border has always been a tightrope act for most U.S. of officials. Far from Washington, much of the violence that occurs here is largely unreported. But in the last two years, every law enforcement agency has registered ever higher levels of violence. In January, a Border Patrol agent was killed in Eagle Pass, Tex. Less serious incidents were reported in New Mexico and California.

    But it is in Juarez where the violence is spilling over. El Paso police Sgt. Bill Pheil said his city's youth gangs have grown more violent because they work with the Carrillo Fuentes people.

    The El Paso-Juarez area is even more important than California and Arizona because it is strategically located near Chihuahua's top-rated highway system, which connects the border with southern Mexico, where many drug shipments originate. Juarez '0 has become as important as the Colombian cities of Cali and Medellin were to the drug trade under the Colombian hegemony. Up to 70 percent of the cocaine transported into the United States comes through Mexico and 40 percent of that amount enters through Juarez.

    Carrillo Fuentes' web of corruption protects him and feeds him a flow of counterintelligence information on U.S. anti-drug efforts, Juarez journalists and U.S. officials say.

    Privately, U.S. officials are concerned about the escalating violence. "Sure we are concerned about them attempting to hit U.S. agents," said Robert S. Gelbard, assistant secretary of state for narcotics. "But there is no doubt in my mind that the violence will increase to the degree the Mexican government keeps up the pressure."

    Officials say that Mexican traffickers would not attempt to carry out attacks similar to the 1986 kidnapping and murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena. Recent events, though, do no warrant this reassurance.

    Take, for example what appeared to be an apparent carjacking in January 1995. Killed was Bruno Jordan, 27, the younger brother of Phil Jordan, a veteran DEA official and former head of El Paso Intelligence Center a DEA-run outfit. That same month Phil Jordan, 51, was taking over the position as head of EPIC.

    Initially, the Jordan family thought the murder was a common crime. The killer, a 13-year-old Juarez boy, had stole the brand new Silverado truck Bruno was driving. The boy is serving a 15.-year sentence at a Texas youth facility, but in an independent investigation, the family unearthed new evidence which they say indicates the murder was ordered by Carrillo Fuentes.

    "This was not a hit over a truck," said Virginia Jordan, Bruno's sister. "Our brother was lured with the truck to the place where he was shot."

    According to the family investigation, all the young members of the car-theft ring who knew about the carjacking were killed after the Jordan murder. The brother of the young killer was beaten and drowned in the Rio Grande after the Jordan family approached him to testify. Phil Jordan, now working as a security specialist for the Dallas Cowboys, is convinced his brother was killed because of his work.

    For the family of telecommunications wizard Saul Sanchez, his disappearance in May 1994 is baffling. The family now suspects Sanchez was gathering intelligence on drug traffickers for an unidentified U.S. agency, but has been unable to find answers for many of its questions despite a two-year search. U.S. officials have denied that Sanchez worked for any agency.

    Still, family members and Sanchez' colleagues said he sold sophisticated listening devices to police and drug traffickers and had been very concerned about his safety weeks before his disappearance. A native of Laredo, Tex., he and his Mexican wife left home to attend the theater in downtown Juarez. They vanished, leaving behind five children.

    Juarez journalists theorize that Sanchez was executed on orders of Carrillo Fuentes after the U.S. technical expert learned of several drug shipments. A Navy veteran, Sanchez, 37, built telephone listening devices for clients including the Juarez police. A large, friendly man, he had no previous brushes with the law to explain his association with known traffickers. "He sold the devices to the traffickers on the advice of his police friends," recalled his younger brother Sam, who lives in Dallas.

    Peter Lupsha, a researcher who specializes on drug trafficking at the University of New Mexico, said Sanchez could have belonged to the shadowy and murky world of low-level intelligence operations. "There are lots of guys out of the service who have skills that can be used in Mexico and get involved in rogue operations."

    These rogue operations avoid bilateral problems between the United States and Mexico, which, according to the rules of the game, are supposed to inform each other of any operations conducted in foreign territory.

    Lupsha and retired U.S. officials say these shadowy individuals are often necessary because of the rampant corruption in border cities, which compromise anti-drug efforts. It is believed that Rubalcava and other informants killed by traffickers in the last two years were found out when corrupt Mexican officials learned of their double identities. The murders of informants resound in Juarez.

    A French art dealer bought art for drug dealers but disappeared because she had friends who were suspected informants. A woman who was a cousin of Carrillo Fuentes was detained by U.S. authorities and talked too much; she was killed when she returned to Juarez. A beautiful radio reporter regularly passed information on to U.S. officials after wooing corrupt police of officers; she was shot on the face by a hit man who brought red roses from an admirer.

    And then there was Felipe Javier Lardizabal, the police investigator who found out about corrupt police officials who allowed the use of the Juarez Airport to unload drug shipments.

    Carrillo Fuentes was the first to demand that Colombians pay his organization with cocaine for transporting the drug to the U.S. market. He also gained entry into Colombian cocaine markets in Chicago, Atlanta, Oklahoma and Seattle. These were the preliminary steps which allowed the Carrillo Fuentes organization to develop independent enterprises which he now combines with amphetamine and marijuana trade.

    Now a multimillionaire, Carrillo Fuentes was the first to coordinate multi-ton cocaine shipments aboard large 727 passenger jets refitted to take cargo. Many of these shipments were flown directly into the Juarez Airport, where they were guarded by Mexican federal police.

    He also strengthened relations with Peruvian traffickers who have taken up residence in Mexico, and has recruited Bolivians to work directly under his organization. In May, he lost his top Bolivian lieutenant, Jose Pereira Salas, who was intercepted by Mexican authorities as he returned to Mexico from a meeting in Bogota and was turned over to the DEA.

    Carrillo Fuentes dreams of overstepping the Colombians in cocaine production. The drug lord is testing several shipping routes to bring cocaine directly to Mexico, but U.S. officials said he is having logistical problems.

    With the 1995 murder of Alberto Ochoa Soto, a top Colombian trafficker, Carrillo Fuentes closed a chapter in Mexico's drug trafficking annals.

    Ochoa Soto, 51, was his friend and colleague for more than ten years. A member of the Ochoa clan from Medellin, Colombia, Ochoa Soto broke the rules and taught Carrillo Fuentes a number of tricks of the trade, which allowed him to advance quicker and reinforce his earlier relations with the Colombian drug cartels.

    In Medellin, Ochoa's nephews, the once-powerful Ochoa brothers, are apparently fuming at Carrillo Fuentes' sleight-of-hand. "We are men of peace," Jorge Ochoa, the eldest, told a reporter, "We won't seek revenge." But in reality, the Colombians know that Carrillo Fuentes got them at their worst time, when most Colombian cartels are cutting deals with the Colombian government and can't devote as much of their attention to Amado Carrillo Fuentes.

    ANA ARANA covered Central America, Colombia and Venezuela for the Miami Herald, U.S. News and World Report and the Baltimore Sun from 1987 to 1993. Since then, she has done independent investigative reporting and directed the Americas program for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. This article, the product of a three-month investigation, includes reporting by Norman Navarro of El Imparcial in Hermosillo, Mexico and a team from El Tiempo in Bogota, Colombia.



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