The Drug Industry’s Triumph Over the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

Scott Higham and Lenny Bernstein, The Drug Industry’s Triumph Over the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The Washington Post and 60 Minutes, 15 October 2017. “Amid a tarteted lobbying effort, Congress weakened the Dea’s ability to go after drug distributors, even as opioid-related deaths continue to rise, a Washington Post and ’60 Minutes’ investigation finds. In April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation’s streets. By then, the opioid war had claimed 200,000 lives, more than three times the number of U.S. military deaths in the Vietnam War. Overdose deaths continue to rise. There is no end in sight. A handful of members of Congress, allied with the nation’s major drug distributors, prevailed upon the DEA and the Justice Department to agree to a more industry-friendly law, undermining efforts to stanch the flow of pain pills, according to an investigation by The Washington Post and ’60 Minutes.’ The DEA had opposed the effort for years. The law was the crowning achievement of a multifaceted campaign by the drug industry to weaken aggressive DEA enforcement efforts against drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market. The industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and key members of Congress, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns. The chief advocate of the law that hobbled the DEA was Rep. Tom Marino, a Pennsylvania Republican who is now President Trump’s nominee to become the nation’s next drug czar. Marino spent years trying to move the law through Congress. It passed after Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) negotiated a final version with the DEA.”

Dark Alliance: The Story Behind the Crack Cocaine Explosion in the US

Gary Webb, Dark Alliance. San Jose Mercury News (online at Narco News), 18, 19 and 20 August 1996 and 16 September 1996. Part One, 18 August 1996: “America’s ‘crack’ plague has roots in Nicaragua war. Colombia-SanFrancisco Bay Area drug pipeline helped finance CIA-backed Contras. Backers of CIA-led Nicaraguan rebels brought cocaine to poor L.A. neighborhoods in early ’80s to help finance war–and a plague was born.” Part Two, 19 August 1996: “How a smuggler, a bureaucrat and a driven ghetto teen-ager created the cocaine pipeline, and how crack was ‘born’ in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1974. [In the] shadowy origins of ‘crack’ epidemic, [the] role of CIA-linked agents [was] a well-protected secret until now [August 1996]. Part Three, 20 August 1996: [The] war on drugs has [an] unequal impact on black Americans. [The] Contra case illustrates the discrepancy: Nicaraguan goes free; L.A. dealer faces life.”

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