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The War on Drugs


“America’s crusade to purge drugs from the world is doomed to fail” (Ganeva, 2017, n.p.),says former DEA agent Celerino Castillo, in the new History channel drama America’s War on Drugs. The docuseries explores the link between the CIA, DEA, and military, exposing the hypocrisy of the United States Drug Policy over a span of 50 years. Castillo further explains: “America is more addicted to drug money than they are addicted to drugs” (Ganeva, 2017, n.p.).

Castillo’s former career was an extremely dangerous one. He risked his life going undercover several times during the 1980’s. Over a span of time he eventually came to the conclusion that the CIA did not care about the increased drug flow from Latin America. In fact, the agency essentially ignored the drug smuggling.

As guerrillas smuggled cocaine into America’s inner cities and the drug gained popularity, it became known as crack. The steady entrance of drugs into the country led to the mass addiction and incarceration epidemic, leading to America’s label of, “the number one jailer in the world” (Ganeva, 2017, n.p.).

America’s War on Drugs shares a range of stories that depict the effect of the global drug trade. The drug epidemic has negatively impacted more than just those addicted to cocaine. “When San Jose Mercury reporter Gary Webb broke that story, he was maligned as a conspiracy theorist and fired. Webb eventually killed himself” (Ganeva, 2017, n.p.). Anthony Lappé, one of the three producers of the show, shared his desire to do a detailed look inside the history of the war on drugs in America. This was achieved through, “historic footage, dramatic re-enactments and interviews with a cast of fascinating characters – including former CIA and DEA agents, drug traffickers and gang members… The series makes the case that the drug trade has always been entwined in America’s military adventures: all the way from the CIA’s secret experiments with LSD in the early Cold War, to opium production in Afghanistan during the War on Terror” (Ganeva, 2017, n.p.). 

The series has revealed an enormous amount of concealed history. Most of it has been taken over by the mainstream conversation around drugs. Some even say that the project feels too real or bizarre to be true.

“The series delivers injustice after injustice, with poor people of color almost always on the losing end” (Ganeva, 2017, n.p.). In one of the footage clips from 1996, John Deutch, former CIA director was interrogated during a community forum in South Central Los Angeles about the CIA’s linkage to crack. He was squirming in his boots because there are still people serving life without parole for crack offenses, which the CIA is in charge of.

Seeing how America is now in an opioid crisis, this past information could possibly be useful. Especially since Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been fixated on reversing the criminal justice and drug policy reforms that occurred under former President Obama (Ganeva, 2017).

For more information on this topic please read “America’s War on Drugs.”


Ganeva, T. (2017, June 15). ‘America’s War on Drugs’: Inside New Miniseries Exposing U.S. Hypocrisy. Retrieved June 17, 2017, from http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/features/americas-war-on-drugs-inside-engrossing-new-series-w487917

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