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The Politics of Heroin:
CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade


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You think this is all "ancient history"? Think again. The current glut of pure white heroin entering this country has its roots in our undercover support of the Afghan rebell fight against Soviet Russia.

See: Dealing With the Deamon

It's now nearly 90 years since the first international attempts were taken to control ilicit drugs in 1909 at Shanghai. Today the world is facing levels of heroin production unprecedented in recent history, ten times higher than the last "plague" of the 1970's. Heroin has now become a global commodity insinuating its way into much of the third world and the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe.

Dealing with the Demon is a three part series which examines how this came to be and what can be done about it. Each film interweaves contemporary human stories with crucial scenes from the history of the drug trade which has now grown to become the second largest industry in the world.

This series provides the hidden background which is essential to understanding the global nature of the drug trade and the ongoing debate about what to do about ilicit drugs in society.

Filmed in fifteen different countries (in Asia, United States, Australia and Europe) at considerable risk to the filmmakers, Dealing with the Deamon is a compeling view of one of the darkest aspects of recent history.

The story that is revealed, follows the simple but expedient formula that drugs (and other long term problems like Islamic terrorism) took a back seat when the priority was winning a war against the evil Soviet Empire. At its more complex level, the story of heroin in the Golden Crescent involves connections between the CIA, the ISI, Mujahideen, the collapsed BCCI bank and Pakistan's nuclear weapons program.

Interview with Alfred McCoy, professor of Southeast Asian History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; author of The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade
Part One
"The problem with America's failed chance at essentially reducing if not eliminating drugs as a problem was a contradiction between the needs of domestic policy and the national security state."

Part Two
"When the Americans moved into Indochina after the French departed in 1955, we picked up the same tribes, the Hmong, the same politics of narcotics, the politics of heroin, that the French had established. By the 1960s we were operating, particularly the CIA, in collusion with the major traffickers exporting from the mountains not only to meet the consumption needs of Southeast Asia itself, but in the first instance America's combat forces fighting in Vietnam and ultimately the world market."

Part Three
"Moving on to our fourth instance, one close to home, is the whole Iran-contra operation . . . All the personnel that are involved in that operation are Laos veterans. Ted Shackley, Thomas Clines, Oliver North, Richard Secord - they all served in Laos during [the] thirteen-year war. They are all part of that policy of integrating narcotics and being complicitous in the narcotics trade in the furtherance of covert action."

Part Four
Because of their mandate to stop communism or to run a secret army in Laos or to harass the Nicaragua government with the contra operation - because they've had a political covert action mandate - they have found it convenient to ally themselves with the very drug brokers the DEA is trying to put in jail. While you're working with the CIA you are untouchable. The CIA backs you up. There are instances of minor traffickers being arrested in the United States for importing drugs and the CIA will actually go to the local police and courts and get them off and out because oftentimes they threaten to talk, make trouble, so the CIA just gets them out.




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