09/02/12 Steven Downing

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Caravan for Peace V, Steven Downing Fmr Deputy Police Chief of L.A., Enrique Marones Pres Border Angels, Chad Padgett of LEAP, Chapo Guzmans vocal threat?

Audio file


Cultural Baggage / September 2, 2012


Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”

DEAN BECKER: My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.


DEAN BECKER: Hello, my friends. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I am your host, Dean Becker. Again this week we’re reporting on the road. This is the third week of the Caravan for Peace, Justice and Dignity. I’m producing this in Louisville. We’re heading to Chicago in the morning. We’re hoping you’re planning to attend if you’re in the area or that you’ll be with us when we go to New York, Cleveland, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. You can learn more details by visiting http://caravanforpeace.org


STEVEN DOWNING: My name is Steven Downing. I’m a retired Deputy Chief of Police from the Los Angeles Police Department. I’m a long time LEAP speaker and in the last year I’ve become a member of the LEAP board.

LEAP is an organization of about 3,000 criminal justice professionals who have all experienced the War on Drugs. We’ve been involved with it. We’ve enforced the laws and we’ve come to believe that it’s a complete failure.

LEAP is short for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and we lend credibility to the cause that we’re involved in and that is to end the War on Drugs.

DEAN BECKER: Currently we’re involved in this Caravan for Peace. It’s is traveling across America trying to educate, embolden folks to take a look at this situation.

STEVEN DOWNING: Absolutely. The statistics are something like 50 to 60,000 murders in the last 5 years in Mexico, 10 to 20,000 disappeared. We, in this country, hear those statistics every day, every day, every day. They become nothing. They mean nothing to people. What this caravan is doing, I believe, is putting a face on the statistics and it is presenting to the American public the pain of the people who have lost loved ones – children, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers. They step off the bus in this caravan and they hold the pictures of the loved ones that they have lost either through murder, disappearance, dismemberment, beheading, melted in vats of acid and they tell their stories and you see the pain in their eyes, the pain in their face. You see the tears and you know they’re real.

What we’re doing, as LEAP members… We have a beautiful vehicle dressed out to look like a police car but it says, “End the War on Drugs. Stop the Violence. Save Our Children.” What we’re doing is we are lending our credibility as criminal justice professionals to Javier Sicilia who is the leader of this caravan.

He has come to exactly the same conclusion. He lost a son to the War on Drugs – murder, a year ago…smothered, dismembered, tortured. He says we must end the War on Drugs. He says we must end prohibition as we know it. He says that drug abuse is a health problem. He says everything that LEAP believes so LEAP is throwing our credibility into the caravan so that we can give strength to Javier’s movement and strength to our own and hope, hope, hope that we can pierce that bubble of complacency in the United States and bring the people of the United States to understand how serious this war is and what the violence means because what the violence means today to a Mexican in Mexico if we don’t do something about this will mean the same thing to an American in the United States.

They are here. They’re crossing the border. The cartels control drug trafficking in 1,000 American cities today. They are using the resources of 33,000 street gangs with a membership of 1,500,000 to push their drugs in our communities, keep the black market alive, bring in the money that is buying the guns, the money that is being laundered by our institutions (our banks – our Bank of America, our Citibank).

If we can dry that up by ending prohibition the cartels will dry up, the black market will dry up, pushers won’t be pushing to our kids and we’ll have a better way of life for all Americans rather than the people who are benefiting by the trillion dollars that’s been spent on the War on Drugs.

DEAN BECKER: Just last week CBS news was talking about the fact that Chicago has become a focal point, a push point, if you will, for the Sinaloa cartel – Chapo Guzman’s outfit. They’re experiencing, perhaps, 10, 11, 12 murders a day, dozens wounded. This portends an ugly future for America, in general, if we don’t bring focus to bear on this problem. Your thought, Mr. Downing.

STEVEN DOWNING: You’re exactly right. Chapo Guzman is the head of a cartel. Chapo Guzman is most likely, in my opinion, being protected as an informant so he can provide the information that will hurt the Zetas which are a threat to him and his cartel. He’s making a move in Chicago in a big way and so we have now seen a new escalation of violence in Chicago. It has its up and downs but weekend after weekend you’re having 13/14 people, young people, killed/murdered and yet the same thing happens every time.

When I started 40 years ago we would bring the press in. We’d have a big “show and tell” and we’d tell them what we’re doing. We’d have a kilo of dope on the table and two or three handguns and a few thousand cash. Well, today it’s warehouses full of dope. It’s pallets full of money and it’s tens of thousands of war-level weapons.

They’re doing exactly the same thing in Chicago. They just did it last week. They had a big “show and tell.” They announced…they had all the guns laid out on the table. The Superintendent of Police gets up and he tells them, “We made 300 arrests. We got all these guns and we’re cracking down and we have a gang prevention program over here. We’re bringing 30 kids down to the park and we’re giving them some fruit juice and we’re giving them some backpacks.”

It’s the same thing they do every other month. We have a big press conference. We make new arrests. We seize new dope. We lose children every week to the violence of the streets but yet they cannot say that they support the end of prohibition.

We say, “If you believe in prohibition you do not believe in public safety. How about that, Commissioner? How about that? What do you believe in? Do you want to reduce violence?”

The answer is, “Well, that’s not my problem. That’s the law.”

Well, his answer should be different because he’s a leader. He’s at the head of an organization. Instead of asking his police officers to meet a quota every month he ought to be asking his police officers to become peace officers, once again, and not drug warriors.

Chicago is going to be the epicenter of drug prohibition. It is going to be known just as it known during alcohol prohibition. Al Capone is back only his name is Chapo Guzman today.

DEAN BECKER: The weapons are deadlier. The potential loses are even more extreme than what we suffered under alcohol prohibition.

Folks, we’ve been speaking with Mr. Steven Downing, former Deputy Police Chief of the city of Los Angeles.

You’ve ran narcotics squads. You were responsible for arrest of thousands of people. How do you feel about that now? Why didn’t you speak out, sir, if I dare ask.

STEVEN DOWNING: I’m a member of LEAP and I am speaking out and I learned and I have to say that I apologize for what I did but I believed what I was told when I was a young man. I believed that the drug abuser was evil and a thief and a burglar and a rapist.

Then, as you get experience, you stop listening to those who pass out the bologna and you start finding out for yourself. Suddenly one day it creeps up on you and you say, “I don’t know. This is wrong.”

As a police executive if you really believe in being a good executive, a good commander, you want to accomplish your goals. Well, the goal in drug enforcement is to reduce the flow of drugs into this country, reduce the addiction in this country, and to stop the violence.

Well, the addiction has remained about the same for the last 100 years – mostly about 1.3% of the population that has a drug addiction problem. It goes up and down a little bit but it stays pretty steady.

But the seizures, the importing of narcotics into this country escalate every year, every year, every year so we’ve failed there. We haven’t done anything about addiction so we’ve failed there and we haven’t done anything about violence. It’s become more and more violent so we haven’t done anything there.

So there’s not a single metric that says we have been successful. Our job was to cut the head off the snake and kill the organization. I finally figured out it wasn’t a snake. It was a starfish. You cut a starfish in half and what do you get? 2 starfish. Cut him in quarters and you get four. Pretty soon you have 8. Pretty soon you have 16.

There’s only a vacuum when you take out a cartel head or a kingpin or whatever they say they get. There’s always a vacuum because there’s so much money.

So they’re starfish. How do you kill a starfish? You remove its nutrients. How do you kill a cartel? You remove its nutrients. What’s its nutrients? It’s money.

How do you get rid of the money? You take that market away from them. As a government regulate it and control it. You dry up their money – they die. Just like Capone died. Just like organized crime. We gave birth to organized crime in this country with alcohol prohibition. We gave birth to what we have today with drug prohibition.

We got a big lesson to learn in this country.

DEAN BECKER: In closing here I want to say, first off, I apologize for chastising you but I wanted to challenge you on that point on why you didn’t speak out. But these other learned officials know better than you did when you were in office. They have seen this mayhem, this madness and they ought to speak out a little more clearly.

In closing, Steve…

STEVEN DOWNING: You know what they ought to do? We saw it this morning. You, Sam, and I – we saw it this morning. They ought to start talking to their troops.

We ran across 2 young police officers from Savannah this morning – less than 30-years-old – great looking, young men. You could tell by talking to them that they were in the police service for the reason they should be – service to their communities.

We talked about LEAP and they had heard about us. They saw our car – looks like a great police car. When our discussion was over both of them acknowledged that in private almost all of the guys they work with say, “This should be over. This should be done with. We have better things to do with the police resources.”

DEAN BECKER: Alright, once again, we’ve been speaking with Steven Downing, former Deputy Police Chief for the city of Los Angeles, member of the board of my band of brothers – Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Check us out on the web at http://leap.cc


ENRIQUE MARONES: Hello, my name is Enrique Marones and I’m the president and founder of Border Angels. We’re a faith-based organization based in San Diego, California. We’ve been around for 26 years. I founded the group back in 1986.

Our mission…if I was hungry did you give me something to eat? If I was thirsty did you give something to drink?

DEAN BECKER: Now we’re past the halfway point on the Caravan for Peace, Justice and Dignity. We’re beside the Tennessee River taking a little break which has given us a chance to talk about the progress, the perceptions, the press, what’s happened thus far. What’s your initial thoughts in that regard?

ENRIQUE MARONES: Well we’ve done 7 of these caravans as Border Angels. We’ve been across the country since February of 2006 where we helped spark the National Marches events. We came back and the marches literally started the next week.

More than 3 million people took to the streets to march and protest the inhumane immigration policies. Now in respect to this caravan, although we’ve moved our march and joined this caravan and we were the organized group in San Diego to launch the caravan. It is touching people’s hearts and minds which is what Javier Sicilia intended with his 5-point mission of crossing the country. Talking about the failed drug police, the arms trafficking, the money laundering, foreign policy and immigration reform.

Where ever we go like Atlanta yesterday or Louisville later today – you never know who’s listening, who’s standing there and that person or group may be the difference in changing the drug policy or the immigration policy.

Not only that you have the situation with that mother out there thinking she’s all alone and all of the sudden she hears a mother from Mexico that’s going through the exact same thing.

That sisterhood or that brotherhood that we’re sharing across the country is very, very powerful and as I was speaking this morning before we left Atlanta and I said all likely hood we’ll have to come back again because when we did our march in February of 2006 it was intended to be the only one and we never intended to continue doing them every year but there was such demand. There was such demand and the success of the huge marches that I really believe that what Javier has done here and done in Mexico with 2 caravans is very, very powerful and you never know where that tipping point is going to be.

So having Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and having people from Border Angels and these other organizations is very, very important. One of the unique things about this caravan is when I talk about diversity in our work I’m talking about different ethnicities, religions, people from different countries and so forth and we will continue to do that – you see some of that today.

But with this diversity it’s people who are focused on different themes – whether it’s money laundering or drugs or immigration – and they’re all equally important and they all do have something to do with the other.

So this is a very powerful caravan. As you said we’re heading home now in the sense of time. You never know that action, that speech, that report, what you hear on the radio might be the big difference in somebody listening and saying, “We need to change the policy without a doubt.”

The U.S. has a big responsibility in what happened in Mexico. Mexico needs to do more. The United States needs to do more. Instead of finger pointing let’s see what we can do together. These are worldwide issues. All of those five topics are worldwide issues. Here you have the most powerful economy in the history of the earth next to a developing country.

It’s important that people see this that we can work together and the lead is really the testimonies of the victims- mainly the mothers although there’s fathers. Even though I’m talking about immigration I’m a victim. My first cousin, her husband was decapitated so I know the issue. I don’t focus on that. I don’t talk as a victim. I talk more on immigration.

There’s no Native Americans on this caravan. There hasn’t been any Native Americans…when you hear people complaining about immigration it’s not the Native American community – it’s all these people that themselves at one time were immigrants.

We need to educate the people about what’s really happening and that’s part of what this caravan is doing.

DEAN BECKER: Much of the coverage in the press has been kind of slow, if you will – at least on a national scale. We do tend to light the fires in the cities we are in. But, the fact of the matter is I hear during some of the discussions there’s this phrase…let’s see if can remember it, “Escuche obama” and “Escuche Calderon”. Tell the folks what that means.

ENRIQUE MARONES: Sure. Those are chants…I’ve had the honor of leading the chants on these caravans and that is one of the chants that we use.

“Obama Escuche es stamos la lucia Calderon escuche”

What that means is Presidents Calderon and Obama to listen – that we are in a struggle, that we are paying attention and they need to pay attention and the incoming presidents, the re-election of President Obama…whatever happens there, whatever happens in Mexico – that we are in a struggle and it’s really up to us, the people.

The people…it’s not the people who are the head of government and we’re the ones who are going to make the change. As far as the national coverage and the U.S. coverage – it takes time. People here do not know who Javier Sicilia is. They tend to focus on their own issues and blame other people or countries or whatever. We’re changing that with these caravans and introducing Javier Sicilia to the United States and realizing that a U.S. mother is just like a Mexican mother – that pain is the same whether it’s because their child has been kidnapped, lost to drugs, died crossing the border. We need to realize that we’re all the same race – the human race and practice what we preach.

Just like a lot of your guests on different stations, Pacifica Radio for example, you talk about that diversity. One of the keys is that we tend…and we’re doing that same thing. The people that show up are already kind of in to that message but we want to reach the people that aren’t showing up. Even though some of them aren’t in the audience they’re going to get word of what we’re doing because even though it might have been a small story in the Atlanta Republic or a lot of Spanish media – you never know. You never know who’s reading that story.

What’s going to happen, I assure you, CNN in English knows that we were here even though the story was in CNN in Spanish. They know. They know and you never know what that tipping point will be. That’s why it’s important that we continue this process.

We’re big believers in the power of one - the fact that it’s one person that could really make a huge difference. If it was really easy to pinpoint that’s exactly what we would do but nobody knows what that one person or one action is and that’s why these series of events is so important.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, once again, we’ve been speaking with Mr. Enrique Marones. He’s with Border Angels. Please check out their website, http://borderangels.org.

ENRIQUE MARONES: Thank you very much and don’t forget that we’re all on this journey together so we want to have peace with justice and dignity and you can participate. Check out our website, http://borderangels.org and also the http://caravanforpeace.org so you’ll know where we going to go and you can tell your friends to join us and support us as we journey across the country to Washington, D.C.


CHAD PADGETT: I’m Chad Padgett. I’m from Indiana. I worked for the Indiana Department of Correction for six years for the juvenile services. I’ve seen recidivism rates skyrocket through implications of the drug war.

DEAN BECKER: Is it that there’s more drugs or is this just a situation where the system is better at catching these kids and bring them back into the system?

CHAD PADGETT: I don’t think there’s more drugs. I think it’s the fact of them going out and coming back with a dirty drop or something (urinalysis) and then having to get more time added onto their sentence. I don’t think it has to do with more drugs at all.

DEAN BECKER: You know I’m from Houston. We’ve had a major scandal breaking in the last week or two that the urine testing labs are showing indications that they truthfully don’t know the hell they’re doing. They’re sending people back to prison who had negative tests when tested outside their building. Have you seen similar circumstance in the work you do?

CHAD PADGETT: Yes, yes. Actually Indiana just had the same thing go on a year or so ago. The lab they used in Indianapolis was in trouble for reading the tests wrong and not being able to do it correctly.

DEAN BECKER: I had on my show a guest. His name was Doug Fine. He wrote a great new book called, “Too High To Fail.” I noticed there was a segment in there that featured a quote from you. Tell us what you shared with Doug Fine, please.

CHAD PADGETT: I said that marijuana prohibition does not work. It never has. As alcohol prohibition has showed that making a drug illegal is the single most effective way to put it in control of violent gangs and drug cartels.

By prohibiting marijuana the government gives up the right to control and regulate its production, distribution and consumption. If marijuana was brought above ground as a legal industry we could regain control over it.

We can have safe streets or marijuana prohibition but not both. We can prioritize violent crime and reserve horrible expense and limited prison space for those who injure, kill, steal and cheat others or we can continue to prioritize a war on drugs which has not succeeded in any measure.

DEAN BECKER: Kids get caught most often for marijuana. It stays in their system 30 days which is, in essence, about 30 times longer than any of the other hard drugs. Are these kids bad? Are they violent or they just caught up in the drug use?

CHAD PADGETT: There are a few that come to you that are violent but the majority of them they are just from the drug use. The drug war is locking up kids and then splitting up the families.

DEAN BECKER: You are no longer serving in that capacity. You had an accident. You have some medical problems…some problems with your pancreas as I understand. I know a gentleman out in California. He’s name is Steve Kubby. He’s had pancreatic cancer for I think more than 12 years now and through the use of this same product we’re talking about, cannabis, he’s still alive and, hell, I hear he’s thriving – goes skiing nearly every day during the winter.

What’s your thought? Is that a medicine that needs to be brought to the fore? There’s been hundreds of studies saying it has no imminent peril, if you will. It’s not addictive and does not lead to harder drugs. What’s your thought in that regard?

CHAD PADGETT: I definitely think that cannabis should be used as a medicine especially for anybody with pancreas issues. The pain, itself, is just tremendous and the use of narcotics just adds to the injury itself. It makes everything worse and long-term.

Being on cannabis medicine I’ve been told and read that it’s been very promising that it’s cured several people’s ailments.

DEAN BECKER: You get to speak for what I call my “band of brothers”, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. As time has gone by here we’re being more and more welcomed by the organizations that invite us, more embraced for the truth we are able to bring. What’s your thought in that regard, Chad?

CHAD PADGETT: I understand that. That’s just like a lot of current law enforcement. Our “band of brothers” is a great organization and there’s not another one out there like it.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Chad, we’re both going to be participating in this Caravan for Peace. It’s touring across this nation trying to awaken people for this need for change. Tomorrow we’re leaving Louisville. We’re going towards Chicago which has become the epicenter of the violence in this country. What’s your thought in regards to this escalation of violence?

CHAD PADGETT: The profits are there and the gangs want those. They see it and they go after it. Until we can get that taken from them – regulated and controlled – it’s going to be that way. It’s the same in all the major cities. It’s an escalation everywhere. Indianapolis has seen an escalation in murders and crime and younger kids is what it is – the gangs. It’s all accustom to the drug war.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, once again, that was Chad Padgett, LEAP speaker. We’re headed to Chicago – the King City of Prohibition, once again. Al Capone would be so very proud.

Hell, every government leader in America is probably proud because America is just damn proud. We’re so proud that we can’t admit that we made a mistake – a major frickin’ mistake like drug prohibition – so it’s destined to last forever unless you say no.

I’m finding as I drive this LEAP vehicle around the country and we pull into parking lots and we tell people what we’re doing, what we’re hoping to accomplish…well, they give us free copies. They give us free food. They give us a pat on the back. They give us encouragement.

This is not a taboo subject anymore. Talk to your mother, your kids, your neighbor, your boss. Talk to anybody. They understand. They get it. The glaring, obvious, ugly truth of this drug war is there for everybody to see and it’s time for us to talk about it. It’s time for us to encourage that discussion to move into the halls of political royalty – whatever these bastards think they are.

It’s time for them to face it. They made their bones in a wrong way. They cast their lot with a failure and it’s time to face that failure.

Please, stand up, speak up, do something to help bring this madness to an end.

Well, you heard us talking earlier about the fact that Chapo Guzman and his Sinaloa cartel are trying to take over Chicago. I think their first step in taking over the world because so many people are still so fearful of flowers and other plant products.


DEAN BECKER: Through a Freedom of Information Act request we recently acquired some audio footage that was recorded by the FBI of Chapo Guzman, the head of the Sinaloa cartel. I was surprised that he speaks such great English.

“I want rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers and Methodists”

DEAN BECKER: OK, so it’s really Harvey Korman from Blazing Saddles but it’s damn funny and it ain’t funny at all, is it?

In closing, I remind you, once again, that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.


DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica Studios of KPFT, Houston.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org