How Big Banks, Private Military Companies And The Prison Industry Cash In
Editor’s Note: After detailing the “War on Terror” racket, many readers emailed asking us to cover the profiteering that is occurring within the “War on Drugs.” As we work hard to dig up dirt on all the major problems confronting us, we have compiled a database of thousands of the most hard-hitting and informative news reports. So ask and you shall receive. Here you go.
By David DeGraw, AmpedStatus Report
Anyone who researches the “War on Drugs” already knows that it has been a very costly disaster. As the Global Commission on Drug Policy recently reported:
“The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world….
Vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption….
Government expenditures on futile supply reduction strategies and incarceration displace more cost-effective and evidence-based investments in demand and harm reduction.”
The War on Drugs has cost US taxpayers over $2.5 trillion dollars. From 1998 – 2008, a UN study estimates that the use of opiates has increased 35 percent and cocaine use has increased 27 percent. Due to nonviolent drug offenses, the US prison population has increased “more than twelvefold since 1980.”
The War on Drugs has also fueled organized crime and drug related violence has dramatically increased over the past few years. Due to drug war violence, since December of 2006, a stunning 45,000 people have been killed in Mexico alone.
Despite numerous reports and a mountain of evidence proving the utter failure of the War on Drugs, the Obama Administration has defended the effort and escalated the war. What many reports criticizing the War on Drugs fail to discuss is how successful the war has been at enriching the global financial elite. The War on Drugs, just like the War on Terror, is another criminal racket set up to benefit profiteering banks, military companies and the prison industrial complex at our tragic expense.
“Drug profits, in the most basic sense, are secured through the ability of the cartels to launder and transfer billions of dollars through the US banking system. The scale and scope of the US banking-drug cartel alliance surpasses any other economic activity of the US private banking system. According to US Justice Department records, one bank alone laundered $378.3 billion dollars between May 1, 2004 and May 31, 2007. Every major bank in the US has served as an active financial partner of the murderous drug cartels….
If the major US banks are the financial engines which allow the billion dollar drug empires to operate, the White House, the US Congress and the law enforcement agencies are the basic protectors of these banks…. Laundering drug money is one of the most lucrative sources of profit for Wall Street; the banks charge hefty commissions on the transfer of drug profits, which they then lend to borrowing institutions at interest rates far above what – if any – they pay to drug trafficker depositors. Awash in sanitized drug profits, these US titans of the finance world can easily buy their own elected officials to perpetuate the system.”
Private Contractors Making a Killing off the Drug War
“As tens of thousands of corpses continue to pile up as a result of the US-led ‘War on Drugs’ in Latin America, private contractors are benefiting from lucrative federal counternarcotics contracts amounting to billions of dollars, without worry of oversight or accountability.
U.S. contractors in Latin America are paid by the Defense and State Departments to supply countries with services that include intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, training, and equipment.
‘It’s becoming increasingly clear that our efforts to rein in the narcotics trade in Latin America, especially as it relates to the government’s use of contractors, have largely failed,’ said U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, chair of the Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight which released a report on counternarcotics contracts in Latin America this month. ‘Without adequate oversight and management we are wasting tax dollars and throwing money at a problem without even knowing what we’re getting in return.’”
For a further understanding of how the War on Drugs is deeply intertwined with the War on Terror, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has led to an explosive increase in drug trade profits:
Afghanistan as a Drug War
“From a modest 185 tons at the start of American intervention in 2001, Afghanistan now produced 8,200 tons of opium, a remarkable 53 percent of the country’s GDP and 93 percent of global heroin supply.
In this way, Afghanistan became the world’s first true ‘narco-state.’ If a cocaine traffic that provided just 3 percent of Colombia’s GDP could bring in its wake endless violence and powerful cartels capable of corrupting that country’s government, then we can only imagine the consequences of Afghanistan’s dependence on opium for more than 50 percent of its entire economy.
At a drug conference in Kabul this month, the head of Russia’s Federal Narcotics Service estimated the value of Afghanistan’s current opium crop at $65 billion. Only $500 million of that vast sum goes to Afghanistan’s farmers, $300 million to the Taliban guerrillas, and the $64 billion balance ‘to the drug mafia,’ leaving ample funds to corrupt the Karzai government in a nation whose total GDP is only $10 billion.”
Another major beneficiary of the drug war racket is the booming US private prison industry. With a stunning 2.3 million citizens imprisoned, the US incarcerates more people than any other country in the world. Most of these people are in jail as a result of draconian drug laws. Even former President Jimmy Carter recently spoke out against the mass incarceration resulting from the War on Drugs:
Call Off the Global Drug War
“Drug policies here are more punitive and counterproductive than in other democracies, and have brought about an explosion in prison populations. At the end of 1980, just before I left office, 500,000 people were incarcerated in America; at the end of 2009 the number was nearly 2.3 million. There are 743 people in prison for every 100,000 Americans, a higher portion than in any other country and seven times as great as in Europe. Some 7.2 million people are either in prison or on probation or parole — more than 3 percent of all American adults!
Some of this increase has been caused by mandatory minimum sentencing and “three strikes you’re out” laws. But about three-quarters of new admissions to state prisons are for nonviolent crimes. And the single greatest cause of prison population growth has been the war on drugs, with the number of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses increasing more than twelvefold since 1980.
Not only has this excessive punishment destroyed the lives of millions of young people and their families (disproportionately minorities), but it is wreaking havoc on state and local budgets.”
To capture the absurdity that is the War on Drugs, here’s the Daily Show’s coverage of the ATF’s deliberate arming of Mexican drug cartels:
“The ATF plan to prevent American guns from being used in Mexican gun violence is to provide Mexican gangs with American guns.”