01/09/11 - Russ Jones

Century of Lies

Russ Jones, w/40 years experience in law enforcement speaks to Rotary Club on behalf of Drug Policy Forum of Texas and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Audio file


Century of Lies / January 09, 2011


The failure of Drug War is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors and millions more. Now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century of Lies.


(Majestic music)

Today we have a special edition of Century of Lies for you. The following was recorded recently at the San Antonio Rotary Club. The audio is taken from a video hosted on YouTube by Steve Nolin, the first audio engineer for the Drug Truth Network.

(Music continues)

Russ Jones: What I was experiencing as a police officer on the streets of the city of San Jose was that we didn’t have a war on drugs, we had drug prohibition and we had a war on people.

Dean Becker: Russ Jones is from my band of brothers in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Leap.cc

Announcer: Now, it is my pleasure to introduce our Chair today from the FBI, Mister Ralph Diaz, is going to introduce our speaker.

Ralph Diaz: Good afternoon to all of you today. I have the pleasure of introducing our guest speaker, Mister Russ Jones. Mister Jones had been involved with our counter-drug effort, probably for about forty years. Ten of those years he worked in San Jose, California as a narcotic detective.

He was assigned to a Drug Enforcement Administration led task force. As a government intelligence agent, he worked in Latin America, observing narcotics trafficking during the Nicaragua-Contra conflict.

In academia, he conducted studies of the impact of drug abuse on the crime index and wrote training programs for identifying the psychological and physiological symptoms of narcotics use. He developed drug rehabilitation programs designed specifically for those who are court mandated to participate.

He’s traveled throughout the Soviet Union and China to study their drug problems and polices. In the field of drug rehabilitation, Mister Jones implemented par courses for California and Texas counties, as well as for privately run programs.

He is a court recognized export for federal court and state courts on field of narcotics enforcement. He current resides in New Braunfels. Please help me welcome, Mister Russ Jones

(Long applause)

Russ Jones: Thank you. I’m a speaker for the Drug Policy Forum of Texas and I’ve got brochures on the tables there and I also represent LEAP. That’s Law Enforcement Against Prohibition We are a non-profit international organization of current and former members of law enforcement.

We’re judges, prosecutors and chiefs of police, narcotic detectives and DEA agents. All of us believe that the methods that are being used currently being used on this war on drugs which was supposed to alleviate the four categories of harm, has instead made them infinitely worse.

Now, usually when I make that statement, there are people in the group who go, “Oh no. This is one of those guys who wants to give up control,” and nothing can be farther from the truth. We feel that the fight of the war on drugs can be fought smarter and more successfully that it is today, under the current failed policy.

So, let me explain how I came to his conclusion. Some of you in this room are old enough to remember when Nixon ran for president and he coined the phrase the “war on drugs.”

Well, in 1970 his first year in office was the year I entered law enforcement. As a police officer on the streets of a major city, I saw little evidence of drugs or the problem of drugs in our community at that time.

We had no street gangs. We had no drive by shootings. We had none of those other problems associated with drug violence that we see today. There certainly were not headlines like you see today about large narcotics seizures.

What I was experiencing as a police officer in the streets of a major city was that we did not have a war on drugs, we had drug prohibition and we had war on people.

A war that was beginning to be waged on a large segment of our population and almost all the arrests were for simple possession. Not from being under the influence and not for many crimes while under the influence.

In 1974, I was transferred to the narcotics division. The US government was beginning to fund massive grants to law enforcement agencies all across this nation. In a sense our small narcotic team was expanding from a five man unit to a fifteen man division within the detective bureau. Now, within the narcotic division, I was immediately signed to the major violator unit.

(Crowd chatter)

Russ Jones: I really do miss that hair. (Referring to a slide shown)

(Crowd Laughs)

Russ Jones: Now working in this capacity, I start buying cocaine and methamphetamine and of course that would be followed up by an arrest and a search warrant. We started making headlines in the San Jose Mercury News and the district attorney would announce that we made blow to our community’s drug network.

Of course, what would follow would be that someone would take that dealer’s place within the organization. Soon, I was infiltrating and buying from pound quality dealers with more arrests and more headlines, another table full of guns, dope and money, another pronouncement by the district attorney or the chief of police.

Of course soon, we narcotics officers standing off to the side of the press conference would cut a glance at each other and smirk or smile. We knew nothing was going to change. We knew someone was maneuvering to take this dealer’s place in the organization.

We were also learning that when someone wanted to take over, the takeover was not done with attorneys and contacts. It’s done with violence and bloodshed, which we were beginning to experience all over San Jose.

We couldn’t explain the rapid rise in violent crime until, while working undercover and with informants, I discovered that San Jose had become the hub of the newly formed Nuestra Familia. That was the real first street gang in San Jose, as we know street gangs today.

During that time, I was also a part-time student at the University of San Francisco and I wrote a thesis on the impact of drug abuse on crime in the community. While I did that study on crime, 80% of out prisoners were in jail for a drug or a drug related offense.

Now, I couldn’t quite articulate it at the time but I was beginning to question what we were doing in this war on drugs. See, I had the sense that this war on drugs was a war on a problem created by prohibition, created by the war on drugs.

You can imagine my disappointment as a student, when my professor pointed out to me that there was nothing new to this discovery of the connection between prohibition and crime. See, Albert Einstein had already commented on the connection due to the rise in crime during alcohol prohibition.

In 1977, I was an officer with the DEA task force in San Jose. My investigations ranged from a federal judge who was eventually indicted and removed from office to criminal actions of organization that fell under the federal racketeering statutes.

I infiltrated a role with Hell’s Angels. I bought large amounts of methamphetamine and that led to the seizure of several methamphetamine labs. Those cases along with other investigations led to an indictment against thirty six members of the Hell’s Angels.

With the DEA, there were other large cases, multi-pound cases of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, seizures of planeloads of dope.

Nothing was changing. Nothing was getting better. It was only getting worse. We had more deaths by overdose, more disease, more crime, more violence and certainly more drug use.

So, what’s the impact of drug seizures done on the supply and demand in our country?

This is the price and purity produced by the DEA in their own briefing book. (Referring to a slide shown) The cost and inflation adjustment is the average cost to get a fix and the average purity – by purity, I mean, what percentage of the narcotic is in the product that they are buying.

I’ve backed up to 1970 the beginning of the war on drugs where you can see that average dose costs $6 and the average purity was 1.5%. That was some pretty weak product but by 1988 the purity doubled to 3.6% and the cost was down to $3.90. By 1999, the average dose was down to 80c the strength of the product today is up 38%. Ten years later, by the way, this trend continues.


Dean Becker: Once again you are listening to the Century of Lies on the Drug Truth Network. The speaker you hear is Russ Jones, a man with forty years of law enforcement experience, speaking to the San Antonio Rotary Club.


Russ Jones: You see the principle of supply and demand and the price applies to illegal businesses, as well as it applies to your business today. The chart shows that prices are way down. Well look, the demand is just constant.

We know that the supply of drugs into this country is up. Someone from the Department of Justice will come in here and give you a talk and say that they are interdicting 20-40% of the drugs coming into this country.

I’ll argue that drug deals tell us that they are smuggling in way more than they think they need. They’re writing off as “acceptable loss” as whatever we interdict and they are getting in the full 100%% of the drugs that they need. The problem continues to get worse and the more people and the more money that the government is throwing at the score.

In 1972 the DEA had about 3000 employees by 2005, 11,000 employees. Their annual budget went from $65 million to $2.1 billion dollars. In 1999, government spending as a result of the war on drugs, exceeded 30 billion. Estimates today put that figure as high as $70 billion dollars.

So, how’s this effort and spending affect the drug arrests?

Well in 1970, the year I entered law enforcement, you can see down there at the bottom we had 415,000 drug arrests across the nation. In 1980, we barely surpassed 500,000. But by 2005 we quadrupled that figure to 1.9 million arrested every year for drugs. Nearly half of those are for marijuana and 88% of those are for just simple possession of marijuana.

Now, let me put that 1.9 figure in perspective for you. That’s the population of the state of New Mexico. We are now arresting the equivalent of the population of the state of New Mexico every year for drugs and the vast majority is for simple marijuana possession.

You can treat addiction but you’ll never get over a conviction, a drug conviction is going to follow our young people the rest of their lives. It’s going to keep them from student loans, housing, and government assistance. It’s going to keep them from many meaningful full private sector jobs and certainly going to keep them from government jobs.

Now, I work with high school kids in community programs today. I’ve taught extensively in programs with teenagers, as well as adults. All the kids tell me, “It’s easier to get drugs than it is to get alcohol and tobacco.” Well, how can that be? It’s because our government does not regulate the sale of drugs, the drug dealer does.

The drug dealer decides who to sell to, where to sell, when to sale, what to sell, how to sell and for how much.

There is only one question the drug deal has of your kids. Have you got the money? How much money are we talking about? That’s $225 million dollars that was just seized here recently in just one case. Think some of that might invite corruption?

International drug trade generates $400 billion here annually and it’s going to the drug cartels and groups like Al Qaeda who are funding their terrorist activity all over the world.

This is all profit because what are we talking about here? Marijuana is a weed.

(Crowd laughs)

It comes from a bush. Opiates come from a flower. There’s no real value to any of these plant, until you do what? Until you make them illegal.

When as a police officer, I arrested a rapist, the community was safer. When I arrested a drug dealer I did was create a job opening for a long line of guys that will risk it all for a piece of those obscene profits.

I left law enforcement in 1980 and I sailed from San Francisco down to Costa Rica on a sailboat. I showed up there as a boat bum, an ex-cop and an ex-army combat helicopter pilot.

I infiltrated what is called the “Southern Front” or the Nicaraguan-Contra effort. There I was hired to train Nicaraguan pilots in American aircrafts such as this (referring to slide) but my real assignment from the start was to gather intelligence on everything from weapons trafficking to narcotics trafficking.

This is the aircraft I used to fly in and out of the secret airfield (referring to slide) or what they called in the senate hearings the secret air field in Costa Rica. While we were out there our government officials were looking the other way and our government’s involvement win narcotic trafficking was made public in congressional hearings in 1987 and later by investigative reporting by Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News.

What the public disclosure of the Iran-Contra affair, I was back in California. I was working in various capacities to prosecutors and defense attorneys, as a consultant. I testified in state and federal court as a forensic expert in physiological and physiological effects of drugs and how they may or may not played a role in cases such as rape and homicide.

I completed further work and studies in great education and included writing instructors manual to be used specifically for court mandated clients. As a result of all of this experience and expertise, in 1988 and 1989 I was invited by the Ministers of the Interior of communist China and the Soviet Union to travel through the countries to observe and work with the law enforcement agencies.

In China, I traveled throughout and consulted with police their officials in charge of narcotics enforcement. I met with their local police officers. I was even allowed into Tibet, which as that time had been closed to Westerners. I met there with law enforcement officials and community leaders.

It was the Soviet Union though, still behind the iron curtain back then, which allowed me the greatest exposure to their approach to the drug problem. I consulted with their narcotic enforcement experts and their top law enforcement officials.

I worked with their police officers in Leningrad, Moscow, Yalta and other major cities. I witnessed drug dealing on the streets. I went with them on a search warrant where we seized a methamphetamine lab. I visited recovering addicts in their rehabilitation programs.

And I came home, I came back to the United States with this question: If a Soviet Union, still behind the iron curtain, behind the iron curtain, as tight and controlling of it’s citizens as it was, unable to control illegal drugs through prohibition, then how are we are a free people ever going to?

The United States for the last four decades have fueled the war on drugs with a trillion of our tax dollars. We’ve made 38 million non-violent drug arrests. What are the results?

Our courts today are still choked with ever escalating drug prosecutions. We’ve quadrupled our prison population at 2.2 million. Prison building is now one of the fastest growing industries; certainly it is here in Texas.

We’re going to arrest another 1.9 million people this year – again, the equivalent of the population of the state of New Mexico.


Dean Becker: Once again, you are listening to Century of Lies on the Drug Truth Network. The speaker is Russ Jones of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition speaking to the San Antonio Rotary Club.


Russ Jones: The US has only 4.6% of the world’s population, yet we have 22.5% of the world’s prisoners. Here in the land of the free. Keep in mind that he majority are there for non-violent drug offenses.

After all these people are arrested and all these people are in prison, all the personnel we’ve used and all the money we’ve spent on this war on drugs, the rate of addiction today is 1.3%. That’s the same rate it was in 1970, when we began this war on drugs.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting different results. Ladies and gentlemen if we want different and if we want better results we need to be doing something different.

One of the first things I think we need to do is if refer the debate. We need to move it away from the polarized ideological positions that we see today and we need to put it squarely in the arena of rational evidence based policy thinking.

I think that the facts and evidence that I have supplied so far, make it clear that using the blunt tool of law enforcement to deal with complex social and health concerns is counterproductive.

I’m not alone in this. This isn’t a Left or Right issue. This isn’t a Conservative/Liberal issue. This isn’t a Democrat/Republication issue. This is a failed policy issue.

As I mentioned at the beginning, our speakers include judges such as California Superior Court Judge Jim Gray. We have prosecutors and chiefs of police, such as retired San Jose Chief of Police Joseph McNamara. Norm Stanford, a retired Chief of Police in Seattle. Noble prize winner Milton Freedman was a member of LEAP until his death recently. William F. Buckley Jr. supported our cause. George Shultz, past Secretary of State, supports what we are doing here. He’s now at the Stanford Hoover Institute.

In 2006, before he died, Walter Cronkite said, “I cannot help but wonder how many more lives, how much more money can be wasted before another politician will admit what is plain for all to see. The war on drug is a failure.”

Alright, one point I make that everyone will agree with me here in this room on is that drugs including alcohol and tobacco are potentially dangerous and their use is inherently risky.

Please tough, keep in mind you can be anti-drug and yet pro-reform of this current failed policy. See, we didn’t end alcohol prohibition because we suddenly decided alcohol was okay. No, we alcohol isn’t just okay.

We ended alcohol prohibition because prohibition didn’t work. Prohibition drove people from beer and wine and adulterated liquor. We ended prohibition because if the crime and violence due it the black market, from the death and diseases from an impure product. We ended alcohol prohibition due to the uncontrolled and unregulated market made it easier back then for kids back then to get booze. We realized that the damage to society was worse through prohibition than the damage to some who abused alcohol.

So, we need a drug policy that’s based on the evidence and effectiveness and it needs to be rational and scientific rather than moral and ideological. The policy is to good value for our tax dollars.

The policy needs to be based on reality.

You see most incidents of death, disease, crime and drug use is caused by drug prohibition. Death is caused by an impure product of uncertain strength. Diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis are spread by drug paraphernalia.

Crime has increased because a drug user is looking for a way to support their choice of drug at black market prices and crime has increased because dealer needs to protect or expand his territory.

Drug use is on the increase because dealers promote their product by multilevel marketing techniques. Gangs require the new dealer to find new users. The new dealer can’t sell to existing customers. That’s what the cause a lot of this blood shed is. So, he goes to the high school and college parties. He gives out free sample until our kids find their drug of choice. Then he starts charging them.

So, what might be a solution?

Well, you need to remove the profit motive. We need to fight this war economically by ending prohibition.

In doing so, we take away organized crime’s single largest source of income. Regulate the law to prohibit selling to minors or driving under the influence. Public, no use in public. Regulate with stricter laws. No marketing. No advertising.

Now, I’m not talking about going into a pharmacy, going back in the days where you could buy heroin or cocaine across the counter. No, that is not what I am talking about. I’m talking about first of all is getting the Department of Justice out of the doctor’s office because what medicines I take should be between me and my doctor.

Therefore, I’m talking about addicts being able to go to a doctor get a prescription that they can then take to heath clinic where they can get their dose administered by a nurse or health commission. Once addicts are able to go to a clinic, you’ve taken away the street dealer.

You’ve removed that 400 billion a year profit from the drug cartels. You collapsed illegal drug business just as we did with the Al Capones and the Bugs Moran and the Lucky Lucianos in the 1930s.

One of the best benefits of regulation is that we’re going to reduce drug use because no one is going to marketing to our kids. They won’t be able to complete with the market.

Street gangs today aren’t distilling alcohol and trying to sell it in our school parking lots. Drug cartels are not growing tobacco in our state parks and national forests and selling it on our street corners. That’s why kids tell you that it’s easier to get drugs than it is to get alcohol and tobacco.

I might add, when it he last time you head of a drive by shoot between Bud Light and Coors?

(Crowd laughs)

When is the last time Marlboro hired a twelve year old to run tobacco from one street corner to another?

Alright, you might ask me, had this been tried elsewhere?

From Australia to Canada to Europe, we’ve implemented harm reduction policies. We have time for one example: Switzerland. In Switzerland, heroin is dispensed freely to addicts in clinics.

There’s been a 50% decline in overdose deaths, in fact there had never been an overdose death in a clinic and the reduction in AIDS and hepatitis. Crimes have been cut by 60%.

There’s been in 82% decline in the number of new addict and a continuing decline because no one, number one, is on the street trying to build drug business and the drug user is in constant contact with a treatment councilor when they go in everyday to get their daily fix. Employment amongst addicts has doubled in Switzerland.

See, if we could redirect some of that $70 billion to educational programs. Look what we’ve done with tobacco in the last ten years. Now it is the deadliest and the most delayed addictive of drugs, yet we have reduced the use of tobacco in the last ten years, 43% down to 17%.

We have done that without kicking in any doors, without firing any shots, without arresting anyone.

And for one last picture (referring to slide), this picture was taken at 1932 right at the height if the war on alcohol. I want to notice the police officer and the women and the children.

Now remember, it was the Women’s Temperance Union that was active in bringing alcohol prohibition to begin with. So, why now twelve years later is the Women’s organization for National Reform? It’s right there the side of the car “end prohibition, save our children.”

Thank you for having me here today.

(Long applause)

Do we have time for questions? You’re first and then…

If you experience what the term now is “youthful indiscretion” and you weren’t arrested and you admit it, you can become a teacher, lawyer, professor, senator or President of the United States.

(Crowd chatter and laughing)

But if you’re arrested, even from a minute amount, you will never become a teacher, lawyer, professor, congressman or President of the United States. So, there is something wrong with what we’re doing.

We’re destroying lives but the war on drugs is worse. What I’m talking about here is not going to solve the problem of abuse and addiction. We are still going to deal with that all the violence that is occurring on the border in Mexico and Columbia and on our streets and Philadelphia, Chicago and even here in San Antonio. Questions?

(Music begins)

I will stick around if you have more questions. Thanks again.

(Long applause)

(Music continues)

What is the biggest impediment moving forward? It is the moral and ideological issues. Some people believe that is is okay for me to have my glass of wine but it’s not okay for you to have your drug it is just morally wrong for you to do what you are doing. Yes?

Any drug you don’t want to legalize, we’ll leave it in the hands of the drug dealer on the street corner.


Dean Becker: Once again, the speaker was Russ Jones, speaking on behalf of the Drug Policy Forum of Texas and my band of brother in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. leap.cc.

And as Russ has indicted, there is no truth, justice, logic, scientific fact, medical data, no reason whatsoever for this Drug War to exist. We have, in fact, been duped!

Please do your part to end the madness of Drug War.

Visit our website: endprohibition.org

Prohibido istac evilesco!


For the Drug Truth Network, this is Dean Becker. Asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.

The Century of Lies.

This show produced at Pacifica Studios at KPFT, Houston.

Drug Truth Network programs, archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies.

Transcript provided by: Ayn Morgan of www.eigengraupress.com