This Week in History

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July 18, 1956: The Narcotics Control Act/Daniel Act is passed, establishing mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders.

July 14, 1969: President Richard Nixon sends a message to Congress entitled "Special Message to the Congress on Control of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs." The message asks Congress to enact legislation to combat rising levels of drug use.

July 17, 1980: Financed by wealthy ranchers and drug lords under Roberto Suarez Gomez, the "Cocaine Generals" of the Bolivian "cocaine coup" seize power. Within months it is learned that Pierluigi Pagliai and Stefano Delle Chiaie were right-wing Propaganda Due (P-2) terrorists with suspected kills on three continents and Klaus Altmann was none other than fugitive Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyons. Barbie, who had sent hundreds of Jews to their deaths, had avoided prosecution when Americans in occupied Germany recruited him as an informer in 1947 and engineered his escape.

July 17, 1984: The Drug War and Cold War collide when the Washington Times runs a story detailing DEA informant Barry Seal's successful infiltration of the Medellin cartel's operations in Panama. The story was leaked by Oliver North and purported to show the Nicaraguan Sandinistas' involvement in the drug trade. Ten days later, Carlos Lehder, Pablo Escobar, Jorge Ochoa, and José Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha are indicted by a Miami Federal grand jury based on evidence obtained by Seal. In February 1986, Seal is assassinated in Baton Rouge, LA, by gunmen hired by the cartel.

July 20, 1995: The total number of US marijuana arrests since 1965 passes the 10,000,000 mark, according to an estimate by NORML.

July 15, 1998: ONDCP Director Barry McCaffrey visits Switzerland to meet with officials responsible for drug policy and to see the heroin distribution program firsthand. Drug Czar McCaffrey makes clear the administration's concern about this program, noting that while such policies may bring short-term benefits, the US thinks they will in the long run prove detrimental to the well-being of Swiss society.

July 17, 2001: Madison, Wisconsin's Mayor Sue Bauman speaks out about the drug war in her State of the City address. She says: "As a city and as a society, we need to put more monies into prevention programs and thus fewer into policing and the criminal justice system... It is time that the nation, the state, the county and the City view drug and alcohol abuse as a public health problem. Unfortunately, the emphasis for years has been on a war on drugs -- an attempt to end drug usage and alcohol abuse by punishing the users/abusers. This is a failed strategy."

July 19, 2001: The Washington Post reports that a confidential informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration compromised dozens of prosecutions across the United States by falsely testifying under oath and concealing his own arrest record, but the DEA continued to employ him for 16 years despite detailed knowledge of his wrongdoing, according to interviews, court records and an internal report by the agency.

July 19, 2001: In conjunction with a two-day NIDA-directed Ecstasy conference, Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), introduces the "Ecstasy Prevention Act of 2001." An initial analysis by the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics (CCLE) shows that this new bill, while giving lip-service to generating more scientific data about the health consequences of MDMA (Ecstasy), directs over 22 million dollars to increased law enforcement, media propaganda, and the creation of a new MDMA drug test.

July 16, 2003: Philippine President Gloria Arroyo orders weekly public burnings of illegal drugs seized by the police, as well as the publication of mug shots of arrested drug dealers. "Let us put a face and identity to these people and get the public involved in hunting them down," says Arroyo.

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