This ugly story provides a frightening example of the sordid relationships our government maintains when conducting international narcotics investigations.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Sandalio “Sandy” Gonzalez was shown the door after submitting a memo implicating a U.S. Government informant in several murders in Mexico.
From WFAA-TV in Dallas/Fort Worth, TX:
Gonzalez began in early 2004 to question the U.S. government's role in allowing an informant to commit possible crimes, even murder. Twelve bodies had been uncovered in a small duplex in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico - a short drive from Gonzalez’s El Paso office. Gonzalez, however, became shocked when he began to review government reports, including a report saying a paid U.S. informant supervised and participated in at least one murder at the cartel-operated house.
I guess even a high-ranking DEA agent has to draw the line somewhere. But Gonzalez’s superiors in Washington, D.C. didn’t appreciate his principled stand:
Troubled by what he found, Gonzalez ultimately wrote a memo to his ICE counterpart in El Paso, and sent a copy to the Justice Department. That was the beginning of the end of his career. “It was a classic case of shooting the messenger,” Gonzalez said. Gonzalez got a bad job review from DEA Administrator Karen Tandy, his boss. And felt pressure to retire early.
A more detailed account available at The Narcosphere, is quite a read. Still, this mess has largely escaped the headlines, surely to the satisfaction of Karen Tandy and her colleagues.
It’s no secret that our government frequently hires criminals to do its dirty work in the drug war, but condoning murder is a questionable sacrifice even by the drug war’s flimsy moral standards.
Seeing Karen Tandy take a stand against whistle-blowing at DEA is alarming given her agency’s vulnerability to internal corruption. It makes you wonder what else these guys are up to when they’re not busy interfering with the democratic process.
As police departments around the country struggle to eradicate outdoor marijuana crops before the fall harvest, rogue cannabis plants are fighting back.
From All Headline News:
West Duluth, MN (AHN) - At least 12 marijuana trees were discovered growing outside the front door of West Duluth police station in Minnesota.
West Duluth police Lt. John Beyer said they were unaware of the marijuana plants growing outside their precinct because they seldom use the front door. He said most officers use the backdoor entrance to the police station. He said, "The only thing I can say is somebody has a sense of humor. Now they'll read about it in the paper and say,'Yeah, that was me.'"
I would encourage whoever did this not to say “yeah, that was me.” Afterall, considering the tendency of police to estimate per-plant yields at over a pound and to assume a $5,000 per pound retail, you might get accused of growing $60,000 worth of marijuana in the front yard of the police station.
Here’s another good one from AZCentral.com:
PRESCOTT - A Yavapai County sheriff's deputy patrolling a senior housing development outside Prescott Wednesday spotted a 5-foot-tall marijuana plant growing between two residents' driveways. Deputy Justin Dwyer got out, identified the plant and interviewed the residents, spokeswoman Susan Quayle said. They told the deputy they thought the plant was "just an attractive weed, and they had been watering it because it looked so nice."
That’s a new one. I hope I live long enough to see people growing cannabis purely for its aesthetic value.
As for these particular old folks, I can’t tell if they’re incredibly stupid or surprisingly clever.
Delightfully smug sex columnist Dan Savage got stoned and walked into Seattle’s City Hall with a fake gun and bag full of pot cookies. For all the right reasons.
It all started when Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels proposed a wildly impractical ordinance which would hold nightclub owners responsible for any drug possession on their premises:
From The Stranger:
If the mayor's proposed regulations are adopted, club owners would be required to prevent patrons from carrying drugs into their place of business—prevent. Not attempt to prevent, not do their best to prevent, but prevent—period, full stop. If drugs are found on someone inside a club, the club would be shut down.
Savage was incredulous:
If the mayor expects club owners to keep drugs and weapons out of their clubs, it seemed reasonable to expect that he would be able to keep drugs and weapons out of City Hall.
So he had a friend whip up some pot cookies, tucked a fake gun into his shorts, and walked right past security and into the building. Once inside, he found his way into the Mayor’s office where he admitted to being stoned and offered pot cookies to several mayoral staffers.
No one accepted his offer, but Savage’s exploits have generated quite a buzz nonetheless. Check out Savage’s post at The Stranger Blog for pics and a slew of comments from shocked Seattleites.
Sigh…David Borden never makes us do cool stuff like that.
For a quick laugh check out “Report Shows Marijuana Users Growing Older” from the Salem News in Ohio. (Update: now removed, hopefully for the reasons listed below. Full article appears in the comments section of this post).
The story caught my attention because marijuana users are rarely studied in the U.S. I thought it odd that the Salem News would have the scoop on new marijuana research.
Turns out all they’ve got is the talkative County Prosecutor Robert Herron who read toxicology results from the coroner’s office and got upset that middle-aged dead people were testing positive for marijuana.
He thinks it’s a sign of moral decay:
"These are people who have kids, and I think that's significant," he said. Herron referred to a section in the recently released annual report of county Coroner Dr. William Graham which highlighted positive toxicology results by age. The report said 75 percent of cannabinoid (marijuana) users were males in their early 40's, and out of 17 positive tests for drugs, 16 cases involved people ranging in age from 20 years old to 48 years old.
But um…dead people are more likely to be old, silly. They’re also more likely to have been sick, in which case their marijuana use may have been medical.
I’m not surprised to see a drug warrior drawing asinine conclusions from an autopsy report. It’s happened before. But I’m disappointed that the reporter missed these obvious flaws in his logic.
Send your feedback here.
I think County Prosecutor Robert Herron is just pissed that he never got a chance to put these folks in jail.
Update: The article was suddenly removed from the Salem News website
Our friends at SSDP report that the ONDCP has been slammed by the GAO again.
WASHINGTON, DC – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) ruled on Friday that the White House’s $1.2 billion anti-drug ad campaign is not only ineffective, but encourages some teens to try drugs. The GAO, Congress’s auditing arm, recommended that funding for the ads be cut despite President Bush’s request for another $120 million to produce more ads next year.
ONDCP’s incompetence has become quite a chore for the folks at the GAO who are responsible for ensuring fiscal responsibility in government.
But hysterical drug warring congressman Mark Souder was quick to defend the program. Maybe a little too quick.
From the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette:
Souder said it’s always difficult to show a direct consequence of advertising. “It’s very difficult to tell whether Britney Spears bopping around on some Coca-Cola ad actually sold a single bottle of Coca-Cola,” Souder said. But “the groups that promote marijuana wouldn’t be criticizing it so much if they didn’t think it was effective.”
Unbelievable! For starters, I’d bet Coca-Cola could tell you down to the bottle how many cokes get sold each time Britney bops on their behalf. Unlike ONDCP, the cola industry scrupulously monitors its own effectiveness. If Souder wants to make asinine comparisons between the cola war and the drug war, he should do so on his own time.
But then he goes and tries to confuse us about who issued the report. It was from the GAO! Not an advocacy group. Finally, he concludes that the ads must work because people are saying they don’t, which assumes that reformers (or does he mean GAO?) are only interested in maximizing illegal drug use. Quite a mouthful, even from a notorious blow-hard like Souder.
The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette accepts letters here.
And speaking of incompetence at ONDCP, Tom Angell just gave me this Senate Appropriations Committee report released last month (sorry, no link):
The Committee is extremely displeased with the performance of ONDCP staff regarding their communication with the Committee and their responsiveness to congressional inquiries. ONDCP's lethargy and the inadequate information provided severely impacts the ability of the Committee to conduct its oversight and make budgetary decisions in a timely manner. This kind of unresponsiveness on the part of ONDCP results in an unnecessary waste of time and energy; numerous follow up communications are required in almost every instance. The Committee is particularly concerned that ONDCP has attempted to prevent the Committee from meeting with the directors of ONDCP programs. Therefore the Committee has reduced the salaries and expenses budget to more closely reflect actual performance.
It’s a rogue agency! They answer to no one. But hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, apply for their internship program. Your job will be to make up excuses for why John Walters can’t come to the phone when Congress calls.
In discussing the bill to legalize industrial hemp cultivation in California, the New York Times hits the nail on the head. Responding to complaints from law-enforcement agencies and ONDCP officials that hemp fields would provide a hiding place for commercial marijuana plants, the Times throws it back at ‘em:
To some people intimate with the nuances of marijuana, however, the idea of hiding marijuana in a hemp field, where the plants would cross-pollinate, provokes amusement. "It would be the end of outdoors marijuana," said Jack [Herer], 67, a marijuana historian and author who runs a group called Help End Marijuana Prohibition, or HEMP. "If it gets mixed with that crop, it's a disaster."
Once again, the drug warriors have followed their own ignorance into a counter-intuitive position that contradicts their stated goals. Widespread hemp cultivation could leave huge portions of the state unsuitable for commercial outdoor marijuana growing, a result they’ve been quite unable to achieve by conventional means.
Further proof that the drug warriors in Washington, D.C. don’t have a clue.
Honestly, I’m surprised they don’t just start claiming it gets you high. It would be our word against theirs. But I guess if they said that, then it would be their fault when some hippie asphyxiates from trying to smoke his pants.
Update: Months later, they're still trying the same line.
Every year in August, we see a flurry of marijuana eradication stories in local papers, as police target outdoor plants ripening for the fall harvest. Nowhere is this phenomenon more visible than in California where the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) makes Federal dollars available to local police departments wishing to send their officers on a treasure hunt in the forest.
Local papers have become shameless cheerleaders for this annual ritual, seeking to amaze the public with sexy photos of heavily armed cops repelling into dangerous terrain from helicopters alongside boastful headlines touting seizures in the millions.
Of course, for all the fanfare, many people will notice that there’s no shortage of high-grade marijuana in California. So police use deception to keep the reporters and the public interested.
Here’s how they do it:
Deception #1: Claim a “record” number of seizures every year.
Setting records implies that progress is being made. Every article on outdoor eradication efforts includes a quote like this:
From the Daily Democrat in Woodland, CA:
"I expect this year to be another big year," said [Officer] Resendez. "If we continue on the same pace, we'll exceed the number of plants eradicated last year."
Police are basically competing with themselves here, so they can’t lose. If the numbers go down, they’ll say it’s because last year’s effort intimidated the growers.
Of course record seizures are meaningless if you don’t compare them to an estimate of the overall crop size. A 10% increase in eradication is a failure if the total crop has increased by 20%, but you never get that type of analysis.
There are other factors at play as well. From the Union Democrat in Tuolumne County, CA:
"The increase in plant count is because the gardens are bigger," said Tuolumne County Sheriff Lt. Dan Bressler. "The gardens are bigger because there was so much rain this past year. Streams are full and a lot of water runoff means they're better able to supply their gardens."
Out of a dozen articles on marijuana eradication in California I’ve skimmed this week, only this one mentioned increased rain. Every other article praised record seizures, allowing readers to infer that good police work was the sole factor. It’s a notable omission since rain, unlike police, will find every plant in the forest. If anything, we should be expecting an impressive crop come October.
Deception #2:Dramatically overestimate crop values.
Big numbers get headlines and police will say anything. Here’s a typical quote from KATU News in Oregon:
The plants were four to six feet tall, growing in scattered gardens on three acres of Bureau of Land Management property near Hyatt Lake. Plants of that size can produce about a pound of marijuana each - worth about five-thousand dollars on the street.
I emailed Chris Conrad, court-qualified cannabis expert, to see what he thinks about these numbers. Here’s what Conrad has to say:
After decades of proclaiming "a pound of bud per plant" as being the average harvest, the DEA and DoJ had the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) do an actual study at their experimental marijuana garden at the University of Mississippi. The result: A typical mature female cannabis plant growing outdoors puts out 4 ounces of bud, that is 25% of their claimed yield, and it can be calculated by taking the square foot of the canopy and multiplying it by 1/2 ounce per square foot of area covered by the plant's canopy. The result, published in Cannabis Yields, 1992, notes that "a survey" of police came to a pound per plant, and that is clarified that drug police "estimate" a pound of bud per plant, but it is clear that there is absolutely no data to back that up, it is a made up number used by police to exaggerate crop values.
According to Conrad, police tend to exaggerate crop values within a range of “anywhere from 4 to 1 to 400 to 1.” Of course, with newspapers reporting that you can make $5,000 per plant, it’s no wonder so many people are out in the woods planting the stuff.
Deception #3 Pretend that marijuana eradication is dangerous.
Articles about marijuana eradication always claim the work is hazardous, citing difficult terrain and armed criminals. Again from the Daily Democrat:
[Resendez] added that there are several hazards to law enforcement officials, including the rocky terrain and the suspects. "It's pretty dangerous," Resendez said. "You'll encounter a suspect and they'll be armed. Not so much to protect themselves from law enforcement but from criminals who are trying to steal their plants."
At least he admits that growers arm themselves to protect the crop from thieves and not police. Still, the perception that growers might attack officers has continually driven a militarized approach to eradication. In his book The Great Drug War, Professor Arnold S. Trebach describes how “sensational journalism” in the early 1980s fueled a widespread perception that marijuana growers were armed and dangerous. CAMP officers have been armed to the teeth ever since.
Deception #4: Blame the Mexicans.Every article on outdoor marijuana growing in CA must have an obligatory reference to the Mexican gangs that are supposedly behind it all. We’ve come full-circle here, since racial animosity towards Mexicans was originally used as leverage in the first efforts to criminalize marijuana.
From the Crestline Courier-News in Lake Arrowhead, CA:
“Ninety-nine percent of the plants seized in the national forests,” [Special Agent] Stokes said, “were planted by members of the Mexican National Cartel which has a huge network throughout California and the west.”
99%!? It’s a convenient generalization, since most such articles note that the growers are rarely seen or apprehended. But I’ll bet if you’re a Mexican walking around a remote California forest in August, you’re a heck of a lot more likely to get questioned by the park police.
To the extent that Mexican gangs are getting involved in outdoor marijuana cultivation, it’s entirely due to prohibition. But it also reflects poorly on CAMP, which has dedicated 20 years to fighting marijuana in California’s forests, only to find that the business is still attracting new participants. If they exist, these gangs are the best evidence that CAMP has failed.
Regardless, I believe the role of Mexican crime syndicates has been dramatically overstated. Let’s face it, the upper half of California is crawling with white people that absolutely love planting pot in the woods. They’ve been there for decades.
For more on the history of CAMP, read Martin Targoff’s excellent book Can’t Find My Way Home. And if you’re ever accused of attempting to grow $50 million worth of marijuana, make sure your lawyer calls Chris Conrad to the stand.
"At these gardens, we've found dead animals and birds, ammonia sulfate, pesticides and herbicides, ponds and creeks lined with plastics, and garbage all over the place," he said. "The environmental damage is huge."El Universal's article made the key point, that the Chronicle article and few articles in US media yet make:
If narcotics are decriminalized, then the black market might cave in, and along with it the smuggling relationships that undermine conservation efforts.So it would. And that's what has to happen here too. There is nothing intrinsic to marijuana growing that it should have this kind of effect on our national parks -- if people were illegally growing broccoli or tomatoes in the parks for the mass commercial market they would undoubtedly create the same kind of pollution that is hurting the animals. The problem is prohibition. The solution is: legalization. Unfortunately, while Mr. Ferry certainly seems to care about the environment and to be working hard on its behalf, he also has some ideas about drug policy that don't seem well thought out:
One dilemma "that is really throwing us," Ferry said, is the wide-scale acceptance of medical marijuana and the perception that casual marijuana use hurts nothing. But if marijuana smokers saw the carcasses of deer, squirrels, songbirds, owls and other wildlife shot or poisoned at the illegal groves, as Ferry has, perhaps they would understand the price wildlife pays for their next toke.Blaming it on medical marijuana?!?!?!?!? No. Never mind that federal surveys found no increase in marijuana use in states that passed medical marijuana initiatives. (Could someone send in a link for this? I am having trouble finding it. I think it was part of a Monitoring the Future study one year.) Tell the feds and their ideological allies in certain cities and counties to stop shutting down coops who are in a position to contract with responsible growers. Hmm, I didn't set out to pick two SF Chronicle stories two days in a row. Maybe that's good. Again, here is their letter to the editor information. And again, please send us copies of your letters through our <?php print l('contact form', 'contact', NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, TRUE); ?> -- select the "Copies of Letter You've Sent" option -- or post a copy in the comments here below.
"This violent subculture is very much connected to the sale of drugs in the same locations, year after year.''Talking tough for the media, Brown continued:
"Oakland is not the place to do criminal business."Captain Dave Kozicki added to the tough talk:
"Every drug dealer out there should be looking over their shoulder, wondering whether or not they, in fact, sold to an undercover officer."Maybe some Oaklanders will be impressed, but I'm not. Frankly, I think comments like Brown's and Kozicki's are pretty silly. Clearly Oakland is a place to do drug dealing, or the drug dealers wouldn't be there. Do they seriously believe the drug trade isn't going to continue, in basically the same form, with at most an extremely brief (probably already over) and highly partial reduction? Or just moving to different locations? Obviously these are not the first drug arrests Oakland police have made during the "year after year" to which Brown referred. While I didn't look at all the details, a search of the SF Chronicle's archives going back to 1995 on the words "Oakland Drug Sweep" pulled up 130 listings -- I'm sure they weren't all really about drug sweeps, but a lot of them clearly were. Guys, the drugs are still there from after the last time you did this, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that... The way to make Oakland -- and all of our cities -- no longer places to do criminal business is to end prohibition. Sweeps and busts only move the trade from place to place or hand the business from one seller to another. Only drug legalization can actually make that kind of crime not pay. Let the Chronicle know what you think by sending them a letter to the editor. Send us a copy using our new <?php print l('contact form', 'contact', NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, TRUE); ?> -- select the "Copies of Letter You've Sent" option -- or post a copy in the comments here below.
"The whole impression leads one to believe that the attorney general wants voters to reject the initiative. The attorney general should confine his politicking to the stump and leave his bias out of the ballot statement that is supposed to be objective," Gors wrote.The state is not appealing the decision because doing so would prevent them from meeting their ballot printing deadline of September 1. The AP story can be read for free on the web site of the Yankton Press & Dakotan, though you have to register first to get through. Score for our side! We told them so...
This week’s most depressing story is that of Emiliano Gonzolez, an immigrant who consented to a police search only to have his life savings confiscated. The Eighth Circuit upheld the seizure even though Gonzolez was never even charged with a crime:
On May 28, 2003, a Nebraska state trooper signaled Gonzolez to pull over his rented Ford Taurus on Interstate 80. The trooper intended to issue a speeding ticket, but noticed the Gonzolez's name was not on the rental contract. The trooper then proceeded to question Gonzolez -- who did not speak English well -- and search the car. The trooper found a cooler containing $124,700 in cash, which he confiscated. A trained drug sniffing dog barked at the rental car and the cash. For the police, this was all the evidence needed to establish a drug crime that allows the force to keep the seized money.
Gonzolez’s behavior sounds suspicious until you give him a chance to explain it:
Associates of Gonzolez testified in court that they had pooled their life savings to purchase a refrigerated truck to start a produce business. Gonzolez flew on a one-way ticket to Chicago to buy a truck, but it had sold by the time he had arrived. Without a credit card of his own, he had a third-party rent one for him. Gonzolez hid the money in a cooler to keep it from being noticed and stolen. He was scared when the troopers began questioning him about it. There was no evidence disputing Gonzolez's story.
Only by reading the ruling itself can you fully appreciate the amount of evidence the court ignored before upholding the seizure. The court even admits that the testimony of Gonzolez and his witnesses is “plausible and consistent”, but nonetheless concludes that:
"...while an innocent traveler might theoretically carry more than $100,000 in cash across country and seek to conceal funds from would-be thieves on the highway, we have adopted the common-sense view that bundling and concealment of large amounts of currency, combined with other suspicious circumstances, supports a connection between money and drug trafficking."
The problem here is that forfeiture laws target the money directly, without addressing the guilt or innocence of the suspect. This case, for example, is bizarrely titled United States of America v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency. Forfeiture cases require a mere "preponderance of the evidence", which means that the court only has to be 51% sure you did something wrong in order to take everything you own.
Yet even this government-friendly standard appears unmet here. Gonzolez’s evasive answers during the traffic stop are easily attributable to his difficulty with English and his obviously valid concern that police might confiscate his money if they knew about it. The fact that a drug dog alerted on the money is insignificant since 80% of U.S. currency contains drug traces. He had a one-way ticket because he intended to drive home in a truck, and he had someone else rent the car because he couldn’t rent without a credit card.
A policy that ignores reason condemns itself to the inevitability of injustice against the innocent. Even if the Eighth Circuit truly disbelieves Gonzolez, these judges must surely recognize the ease with which law-abiding citizens could be rendered helpless under this doctrine.
The truth won’t always help in court, but Flex Your Rights helps prepare you for traffic stops. If Gonzolez had known to refuse the police search and keep quiet instead of lying, he might have avoided this mess entirely.
Dr. William Hurwitz, whose case we’ve reported on extensively, has been granted a new trial.
From the Washington Post:
A federal appeals court threw out the conviction of William E. Hurwitz yesterday, granting the prominent former Northern Virginia pain-management doctor a new trial because jurors were not allowed to consider whether he prescribed drugs in good faith. The decision again galvanized the national debate that the Hurwitz case had come to symbolize: whether fully licensed doctors prescribing legal medication to patients in chronic pain should be subject to prosecution if their patients abuse or sell the drugs. Patient advocate groups strongly supported Hurwitz and expressed concern that his conviction would have a chilling effect on pain doctors.
This is fantastic news. It’s been over a year and half since Hurwitz’s conviction, during which time we’ve seen a dramatic increase in media attention to the misguided war on pain management doctors and their patients. The controversy surrounding Richard Paey’s case in Florida has brought this issue into the mainstream, ensuring that a second Hurwitz trial will be a tougher sell for prosecutors.
Dr. Hurwitz was manipulated by deceptive patients, then convicted by deceptive prosecutors who lied to the jury and mischaracterized his career-long commitment to effective pain-management. Let’s hope he finally gets the justice he deserves.
Another prohibitionist politician has been ousted by voters:
From CBS NEWS:
Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski, stung by accusations of arrogance and stubbornness, lost his bid for a second term Tuesday after polling last in a three-way GOP primary.
We’ve reported on Murkowski several times, and we look forward to never mentioning his name again.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy looking for interns for the spring semester.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Student Internship Program is structured to challenge and reward a select number of students from across the country. The goal of the program is to allow students to gain an outstanding educational and work experience within various components of ONDCP. The program is intended to provide the students with knowledge, tools, skills, and real life work experiences that they can readily apply to future challenges and professional pursuits.
Anyone interested in drug policy ought to find this pretty exciting. But they’re a bit picky about the applicants:
All students tentatively selected are required to submit to urinalysis to screen for illegal drug use prior to appointment. A security background name check will be conducted and favorable results must be received to establish a report for duty date.
You might also want to avoid mentioning any expertise you may have regarding drug policy, or for that matter science, medicine, economics, or criminal justice policy. They’re looking for smart people, but you don’t want to overwhelm them.
Keep in mind that ONDCP is not a very prestigious organization. You don’t have to knock their socks off. As Tom Angell notes at Dare Generation Diary, their staffers sometimes have trouble spelling one syllable words. As an ONDCP intern, you can help these staffers draft public correspondences that the American tax-payer can be proud of.
Unfortunately these are unpaid positions, but I will buy you dinner every Friday for the duration of your internship with ONDCP.
Afterthought: If you’d rather intern with us, email email@example.com.
The Sri Lankan government has repeatedly charged that the Tigers' ships transported illegal drugs from Myanmar, though no concrete evidence of this has been presented. However, the Tigers do seem to have close links to organized criminal groups in Russia, Lithuania and Bulgaria, as well as foreign terrorist groups. Whatever their source, the Tamil Tigers appear to have ample funds to acquire weapons from anywhere and everywhere. Modern assault rifles, machine-guns, anti-tank weapons (rocket-propelled grenades), mortars and even man-pack SA-7 surface-to-air missiles from Russia, China and Europe.Without concrete evidence, one should never fully trust any government's accusations of drug trafficking made against its opponents -- not only because the government has an incentive to make its opponents look as awful as possible, but because there are drug-fighters within the government who want the money and crave the attention, and because it is a tactic governments use to try and get the international community and the US in particular more involved with their fights. That said, it could certainly be true -- John Thompson of the Mackenzie Institute, a Canadian think-tank concerned with organized violence and political instability, discussed the issue of terrorist groups using the drug trade to finance their activities in an interview with us in October 2001 -- it is a substantial factor for many such organizations, also one that tends to keep them around as mere criminal organizations once the political issues have faded. This is a reason for legalization -- it is only because of drug prohibition that the illicit trade is of such a size that it can help terrorist groups so much -- that it can literally cause civil wars to escalate, a phenomenon that is by no means limited to Sri Lanka (e.g. Colombia). Go and click on the letter to the editor link to speak out.