How do drugs and hard narcotics get into the United States? Where do they come from? Who is affected? How big is the international drug traffic? Here are the astonishing answers — a behind-the-scenes look at dope smuggling!
HE POINTED his grandfather's shotgun at his heart and pulled the trigger — ending a life which had been made "hell" by drugs. But before Percy Patrick Pilon, Jr., 18, committed suicide he wrote an open letter to fellow teenagers in which he said:
I have used all types of drugs from hash, pot and acid to hard stuff. It's all a bad scene. The people who push it don't use it because they know it's bad stuff. They can see what it does to you. All you are doing is ruining your life and letting people make money through you.... Where are you going to go from pot — hash — acid — heroin?
Drug Use Growing
What are the chances your child will be hooked on dope, his or her life ruined by heroin? Do you think this is only a problem of the ghettoes of the big city? If so, then you have been grossly mistaken. The problem of drug traffic is worsening. Drug abuse has spread from the big city ghettoes into the affluent suburbs. Heroin traffic is being described as commonplace in many schools. In Lynbrook, New York, parents heard estimates that perhaps 50 percent of the city's teenagers were using marijuana or hard narcotics. Because of increasing drug usage, Donald H. Louria, president of the New York State Council on Drug Addiction, warned that "within a couple of years every high school and every college in the country will be inundated by heroin." Unless the trend is reversed, your community will be affected — if it isn't already. Drug use has become part of modern life. Though laws still make certain drugs illegal, illicit drugs can be found almost everywhere. People are looking for thrills, kicks, excitement and escape, and drugs are providing it. What can be done about this growing plague of illicit drugs? Where does dope come from? How can the drug traffic be stopped?
The Opium Octopus
The major hard narcotic smuggled in world trade is opium, from the opium poppy plant — the source of morphine and heroin. The story of opium is almost as old as the story of mankind. In ancient Sumerian clay tablets is described the process of extraction of opium from the poppy plant. The Sumerians of lower Mesopotamia called it Gil, which meant "rejoicing." The knowledge of opium was spread abroad by the ancient Babylonians to Persia and Egypt. Arab traders introduced the drug into China probably in the ninth or tenth century. Originally, the drug was drunk or eaten. Opium smoking is of comparatively recent origin. Wrote Norman Taylor in his book Narcotics: Nature's Dangerous Gifts, "It is difficult to exaggerate the tragedy that opium has brought to humanity. No other drug has caused so much corruption, or unseated so many of the powerful; the tentacles of its trade have stretched from the august board rooms of the Fast India Company in London to the slums of San Francisco, the Emperors of China, the respected merchants of New York and Boston, and to those great centers of modern drug traffic in Cairo, Bangkok, and Singapore" (page 38). Officials estimate about 200 tons of opium are diverted annually from cultivation in Middle Eastern countries, such as Turkey. Another 1000 tons of opium are illegally produced in Southeast Asia, including Red China. "This quantity of raw material," stated a United Nations report, "could yield approximately 120 tons of morphine or even somewhat more of heroin. Assuming that an addict daily consumes no more than three therapeutic doses of morphine or heroin, the opium could annually supply more than ten million morphine addicts or more than twenty million heroin users..." Opium addiction, or addiction to any of its derivatives such as morphine or heroin, is obviously a problem of worldwide dimensions. It is not just a United States problem. Increasingly, it is a British problem, a Canadian problem, a French problem, a Scandinavian problem, a Dutch problem, a German problem, an Australian problem, a South African problem. A few official estimates show the enormity and scope of the scourge: Tehran, Iran, 40,000 addicts; Puerto Rico, 10,000; Hong Kong, 80,000; India, 340,000; the United States, 200,000. All these are estimates. No one can estimate the size of the problem in Egypt, the Middle East, Vietnam and China because these countries try to play down their role in the opium black market. But these and many other nations are directly or indirectly involved.
Tentacles of the Underworld
Each year an estimated 400-600 tons of opium are smuggled out of Southeast Asia, the bulk of it from Burma and Laos. On its way to the Americas, much of this opium passes through Thailand where 15-50 tons are added to the supply. Until recently, experts believed that the United States got only about five percent of its heroin from Southeast Asia, but some officials now think they underestimated the amount. Opium is converted into morphine in crude laboratories in northern Thailand and the morphine is converted into pure heroin in or around Bangkok. Smugglers purchase heroin in Bangkok at $2,250 a kilo. Once it reaches the United States, its price jumps to over $10,000 a kilo. By the time it is "cut," it sells for about a quarter million dollars! The focal point of narcotics smuggling through the Far East is Hong Kong, which has one of the highest narcotic addiction rates in the world. About four fifths of the illicit opium and heroin smuggled into the United States originates in Turkey. The opium is grown in wild, remote areas by Turkish farmers who receive about $10-$15 a pound. The opium is smuggled into Syria and Lebanon where it is chemically transformed into a morphine base, reducing its bulk by 90 percent. The chemist receives $5 per kilo (about 2.2 pounds) for the morphine base. From there it may be smuggled by ship to Corsica, or to Marseilles in southern France, where secret laboratories process the morphine base into pure powdery heroin. Here the chemist may receive $700 per kilo of heroin he produces. Conversion of the morphine base into pure heroin usually is done at or around Marseilles. It is a dangerous, sophisticated process that requires a knowledge of chemistry and a modern, well-equipped laboratory. A slip-up can cause a severe explosion. It is estimated that at least six — perhaps twice that number — secret heroin factories are in operation around Marseilles, operated by ruthless Corsican gangsters.
The Smuggling Operation!
Narcotics have been smuggled in hollowed-out books, scuba tanks, disguised as fruit, in canned fruit, false-bottomed suitcases, concealed compartments in trucks or automobiles, or in the mail labeled as innocent gifts. Women hide them in girdles, brassieres. "Pregnant" women hide them in false stomachs. From European ports, the heroin is smuggled by ship or airplane into the United States or Canada — to a port city, or a major airport such as Toronto, Philadelphia, New York, or any number of others. Since there are 350 ports of entry in the United States and 220 million travelers pass through them each year, heroin smugglers stand a good chance of carrying off their operation undetected. Customs agents estimate that they seize only about one tenth of the contraband shipped into the United States. The Turkish farmer might receive about $35 per kilo (about 2.2 pounds) of opium. The courier who brings the refined heroin into the United States may be an unknowing exchange student who is given $200 to bring a car into the country. American smugglers, mainly members of the Mafia, or Cosa Nostra, may pay $10,000 for a kilo. The wholesaler gets the same (or a diluted) kilo for about $18,000, and he will probably charge the distributor $32,000 for a "kilo" (by now, heavily diluted, cut with lactose, quinine, etc.). By the time the heroin reaches the addict or "junkie," the original kilo will make about 54,000 packets of heroin at $5 a bag, each bag containing five grains of 5% heroin! The original kilo of opium, on the street, might fetch $225,000. Some estimates say half a million dollars! A single Harlem distributor of heroin raked in unbelievable profits until Federal Narcotics agents cracked down on him. He had a net income — total profits — of $29,000 every single week, or over a million dollars a year, until he got careless. Clearly, there's a lot of money in the narcotics traffic! Who is involved in narcotics traffic? In some countries, the most respectable circles — the highest ranking government officials, leading politicians, foreign diplomats, cabinet officials in some Asian lands. In Laos the Army is said to be involved and the Air Force of that country allegedly transports opium. Corruption among high officials is commonplace. The temptation for "easy money" is too great.
The international narcotics traffic — especially heroin — is dominated by the Mafia. The Mafia is an organization variously called "Cosa Nostra," or "the syndicate." It is an international alliance of at least 24 tightly knit families or groups. Each family is linked to the others by mutual understandings, agreements and treaties (Cressey, Theft of the Nation, pp. x-xi). Members of "the mob" don't actually sell heroin or hard narcotics to dope addicts on the street. Rather, they are the importers and wholesalers. Their wholesale profits are conservatively estimated at $90 million a year. They sell to the "dealers" who are the middle-men; the "dealers" sell to the addicts or "junkies." Such dealers are indispensable to the Mafia and could be considered part of the organization in a broad sense, but rarely are bona fide members. In the narcotics racket, each dealer is an independent businessman. He purchases at wholesale prices from Mafiosi and sells at retail prices. His is the greatest risk. The "big shots" in the drug smuggling business are the importers of multi-kilo lots. Under them are the "kilo men" who handle nothing less than a kilo of heroin at a time. These men purchase from the importers and receive delivery from couriers. The kilo man then dilutes the heroin by adding three kilos of milk sugar for each kilo of heroin. Then the product is sold to "quarter-kilo men" and then to "ounce men" and then to "deck men," with more adulteration taking place at each stage. Eventually, street dealers dispense the heroin in five-grain packets called "bags" or "packs" or "balloons." The final cost to the addict is an estimated 6,000 to 9,000 times the price paid to the Turkish farmer for the original kilo! To purchase the estimated three tons of heroin smuggled into the United States each year, addicts — or "Junkies" — must pay over $2 billion. To get the money for heroin, most of them steal from two to five times that amount in property. An estimated 50 to 80 percent of the robberies and street crimes committed in the big cities of the United States are drug-related. Each year drug addicts must steal from $4 to $10 billion in stolen goods just to keep the heroin flowing into their veins!
The Marijuana Mecca
Opium and heroin smuggling attracts much attention since it is so dangerous. However, marijuana smuggling dwarfs the heroin traffic in volume. Some authorities believe 1,000 tons of marijuana cross into the United States from Mexico every year. Imported (smuggled) Mexican marijuana, or "Mary Jane," sells for $35 a kilo (2.2 pounds) in Tijuana. Across the border in the United States it brings $50-$57. Last summer in Massachusetts it wholesaled for $200-$300. Middlemen retail it for $5 a bag, containing 2.5 grams. Or, the original kilo in Tijuana may eventually make 2,500 marijuana "joints" or "reefers" that sell for $1 each! Thus, the smuggled 1000 metric tons of "pot" would be enough to make 2,500,000,000 "reefers" worth $2.5 billion! It's big business! More than 70,000 people a year are arrested for marijuana violations in Los Angeles County alone! From 1960 to 1968 marijuana violations skyrocketed to 700 percent for adults and over 2000 percent among juveniles! Marijuana has become a "gold mine" for smugglers and peddlers since the middle and upper classes have begun to adopt it as their new "thing." Said one probation officer in Los Angeles, "There's not one kid I've talked to who does not use it or hasn't used it." Obviously, for marijuana to be so omnipresent it can't all be smuggled in secretive cloak-and-dagger episodes. Some is "home grown." From 1967 to 1968 the number of marijuana plants seized in California leaped from 72,772 to 1,327,260 — an increase of over 1,500 percent! Many in Southern California wander around and plant a few Marijuana seeds here and there in out-of-the-way places where other people will unwittingly water them. Others plant them in their own flower or vegetable gardens.
What Is Being Done?
In view of the seriousness of the worldwide smuggling of narcotics, one would think many governments would be engaged in massive efforts to stem the flood. You might be surprised to learn that there has been very little real international cooperation until recently. In 1969 Operation Intercept was launched along the Mexican border and dramatically cut the flow of drugs. This was followed by Operation Cooperation, a combined American-Mexican venture to smash smuggling at its source. In January 1970 the United States made an important agreement with France. Paris pledged a stepped-up campaign against drug traffickers. Also, President Nixon has beefed up the undermanned Customs Bureau. Perhaps the most important measure taken thus far is a stepped-up war on organized crime in the United States by the Attorney General's office. However, the big drug crackdown has proved to be a big disappointment. Ironically, increased governmental concern appears to have boosted drug traffic at least temporarily. Smugglers, fearful that traditional sources and channels may soon be closed, have been moving large shipments of drugs while they are able. Even if production of opium in Turkey could be controlled, or wiped out, there is already enough that has been stored to meet the world's demand for several more years! The backlog of heroin stored in the United States has been estimated to be over 7,000 pounds — enough to supply 150 million shots of heroin! The chief international effort to control narcotics comes from the United Nations. The U. N.'s Commission on Narcotic Drugs is the world's watchdog on narcotics. However, the U. N. agencies are toothless — powerless to deal with narcotics traffic. The United Nations is merely a collection of diverse, independent governments. The U. N. can exhort nations to comply with narcotics control efforts, or attempt to persuade them, but it has no power. It cannot FORCE individual nations to "toe the line." In truth, today the responsibility for cutting back and controlling narcotics production and trafficking devolves upon each individual national government. But most of the world's nations dismiss the whole situation as "an American problem" and give it little more than lip service! However, now that many European nations recognize a burgeoning narcotics problem, they have begun to become more interested in policing the narcotics traffic. It has been suggested that the real solution to the narcotics traffic is to reform all drug addicts. If the individual addicts can be cured, reformed, rehabilitated, the drug traffic will die out because there is no market. The problem with this "solution," however, is that the overwhelming majority of heroin addicts who have been treated and weaned away from dope have gone right back to it when they had a chance — well over 90 percent of them! The fact is, a society which tends to foster drug addiction is in a very poor position to cure drug addiction. The modern social system, with its ghetto areas, crime, hypocrisies, immorality, lack of real purpose, is largely responsible for causing young people to "turn on" with drugs as an escape. Therefore, the solution to the problem of drug addiction and narcotics smuggling also involves the rehabilitation of society itself! That means new education programs, especially for young people in our cities. That means reconstruction programs to rebuild miserable ghetto areas, to eradicate rat-infested tenement houses, dilapidated apartment buildings, environments which cause people to want to "escape." It means educating the idle affluent in higher values and a better purpose in life.
Indictment of Morality
Drug traffic and abuse show no signs of letting up for one basic reason — there is something wrong with modern society around the world. The explosion in drug abuse and smuggling is an indictment of the immorality of our modern age — the immorality of many national governments who really do little or nothing to stop the sinister trade — the immorality of the peddlers and pushers who make money from the miseries of the "junkie" — the immorality of the growing numbers who turn to drugs for excitement, thrills, fun, and pleasure. Every figure involved in the dope traffic stands to make a fantastic profit. There is an innumerable string of payoffs all the way down the line, from the Turkish farmer to the pusher in the big city streets or at the neighborhood school. To stop the dope traffic — to smash the international dope racket — will require more than strict national laws and effective policing of borders and ports of entry. Although strong law enforcement efforts are definitely needed, they alone will not solve the problem. International cooperation is also needed, but it is very slow in coming and thus far has accomplished very little. Before the dope syndicate can be crushed, our whole modern society needs changing, so that the values and morals of individuals are upgraded. The drug scene is essentially an immoral scene — a big "cop-out" on life. If young people in the big cities and in the countryside were taught strong basic morality from childhood — if they were educated in the home, school and churches to be strong minded, courageous, effective citizens with high moral standards — then they would not fall victim to drugs. They would know better than to fool around with heroin, or acid, or pills, or any other narcotic. They would not allow themselves to be tempted! So, until there is a sudden about-face in the direction young people are going, and.'the direction society itself is taking — until there is a sudden renaissance of morality and high personal values — until young and old alike admit there is more to life than merely making money or having "fun," society will continue to be deluged by drugs, with more and more lives being wrecked, devastated, and ruined in the process! The current explosion in dope smuggling and abuse portends a frightening future filled with more fanatical, wild-eyed hippie clans, more lazy, inert, ambitionless blobs of humanity drifting through life, a weakened, escapist society, millions of sick and burned-out lives, and increasing hopelessness. Drug abuse exists only because corruption is rampant around the world and personal integrity and morality is at an all-time low. Only when there is a vast RENEWAL of morality and personal character development will the drug traffic cease to flow. Though this may seem like a simplistic solution to some sophisticated intellectuals, they must confess that nothing else has worked, and the prognosis for the future is not good.
Moral Instruction Needed
When it comes to instruction of morality, modern schools and even churches have "copped out." Many modern homes, as well, have abdicated their part in this responsibility. Is it any wonder, then, that increasingly young people are trying drugs, seeking, searching for some meaning in life? In a society where morality is threatened, where morality is not taught vigorously throughout youth, the difference between right and wrong becomes blurred and obscured. Young people begin to wonder, "Why shouldn't I smoke pot, drop acid, or shoot heroin?" And the older generation, lacking strong morals itself, has no ready, convincing, solid answer! A child's character and moral standards are largely determined by his early home life. Children more likely to take drugs are those from broken or unhappy homes, homes where the parents did not spend enough time with their offspring, or went to the opposite extreme and "spoiled" them. But children from solid, stable, balanced homes where high standards of morality are practiced, and where love is expressed, are much less likely to go the drug route! The solution to the drug problem lies largely with you. What kind of home is YOUR home? If you want to protect your children from drugs, then you need to write for our free booklets: New Facts About Marijuana; Hippies — Hypocrisy and Happiness; and The Plain Truth About Child Rearing. We would be most happy to send your copies to you as soon as we receive your request.