Friday, June 16, 2017

'America's War on Drugs': Inside New Miniseries Exposing Hypocrisy of U.S. Drug Policy

There's a great moment in the new History channel miniseries, America's War on Drugs, when a former DEA agent named Celerino Castillo explains why America's crusade to purge drugs from the world is doomed to fail: "America is more addicted to drug money than they are addicted to drugs."

After risking his life going undercover in the 1980s, Castillo had been disillusioned – quite a few different times – to discover that the CIA couldn't care less about stemming the flow of cocaine from Latin America. In fact, the agency ignored the Contras' drug smuggling. The cocaine moved by the guerrillas made its way to America's inner cities as crack, fueling an epidemic of addiction and mass incarceration that has helped make America the number one jailer in the world. When San Jose Mercury reporter Gary Webb broke that story, he was maligned as a conspiracy theorist and fired. Webb eventually killed himself.

Unearthing these kinds of dizzying links in the global drug trade is the driving force behind the eight-hour, four-night event, which premieres this Sunday, June 18th. Using 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. "We really wanted to do an epic look at the secret history of the war on drugs in America and tell this much bigger story," says Anthony LappĂ©, who produced the four-part series along with Julian Hobbs and Elli Hakami . "It's almost like the secret history of the last 50 years."

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