Confessions of a Drug Lord

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My name is Tiberius Julius Aquila.  My parents had a thing for Roman history.  I live in a little rural village somewhere in the middle of nowhere.  I am called a drug lord, drug dealer, drug pusher, drug runner and other things that I prefer not to mention.  My job is to deliver goods and services to gringo customers that mostly live north of the border between the US and Mexico.  I expect my products to meet the highest standards of quality possible and that my deliveries will be on time every time.

I have been asked to tell you something about drugs that most people do not realize or think about.  In my business, I risk my life every day, so it is important that I know what I am doing and understand the ins and outs of the drug business.  In many ways, the drug business is just like any other business.  We buy materials, convert the materials into a product and attempt to sell the product at a price that will bring a profit and enable us to pay our employees.

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Our small village has only one industry.  We do not have high tech businesses or manufacturing businesses or medical businesses in our village.  We are an agricultural community with three excellent resources.  We have plenty of sun, water and soil.  This enables us to grow some of the best marijuana in the world.  Now some of our local farmers look down on the drug business and that is fine with me.  We need to eat, and non-drug farmers provide good crops to feed my soldiers and workers.  But for those in the drug trade, the profits are outstanding, and the work is year-round with guaranteed benefits.

Of course, there is one way that our business differs from other businesses and this gives us a bad reputation.  There is a lot of violence in the drug business.  I wish it were not so but it is true.  You see, if I ran a legal government licensed business, I would be protected by patents, copyrights, trademarks, anti-trust laws and many other laws that protect a legal business.  But in the drug trade, there is no protection.  The police, the army, do not protect my business or my business associates.  Thus, there is always a great temptation by others to take my business away either by stealing my products or killing me outright and taking over my territory.  Because of this I must use guns and violence instead of lawyers and bankers.  This makes the business always risky and dangerous.

Now, I said that I was asked to provide some facts about the drug business.  The first fact is that without customers I would be out of business in a day.  The USA is a land of drug addicts.  The government there does not like to admit it.  Instead they blame the cigarette companies, the pharmaceutical companies, the whisky companies and of course they blame me and my industry.  My industry includes the Mafia, the Camorra, the Columbian Cartels, The Mexican Cartels, the farmers, the mules and anyone else connected with the production and distribution of illegal substances.  Once we have a good network setup, we often branch out to manufacturing and selling other illegal drugs.  Fentanyl has been very popular of late and profitable.  But it is not easy to branch into other drugs.  There is much competition.

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Most of my customers never notice that the popularity of drugs ebbs and flows.  Some years it is heroin, some it is cocaine, some it is marijuana.  In the states, I must compete with the legal drug dealers who seem able to continually come out with new addictive drugs.  Alcohol is not very popular among illegal operations these days because it takes too long to process.  Good quality alcohol must be aged for years to achieve a peak taste.  Drugs do not age and that is both an advantage and disadvantage.  It is an advantage because we can produce a drug and sell it within a month or so of production.  It is a disadvantage because alcohol is still the most popular drug in the world and we are shut out of this market.

“People use drugs, legal and illegal, because their lives are intolerably painful or dull. They hate their work and find no rest in their leisure. They are estranged from their families and their neighbors. It should tell us something that in healthy societies drug use is celebrative, convivial, and occasional, whereas among us it is lonely, shameful, and addictive. We need drugs, apparently, because we have lost each other.” — Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

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There are two kinds of drug users.  We can label them as recreational users and abusive users AKA drug addicts.  Recreational users consume modest amounts of drugs for fun, days off and special occasions.  Abusive users let the drugs consume their lives and are totally out of control when it comes to how much of a drug to use or when to use it.  The abusive users or addicts give our industry a very bad name.  I would be happier if there were no addicts, but I cannot control how people use my products.  It is like in the gun industry where they say that “Guns do not kill people, people kill people.”  I guess I would say that drugs don’t abuse people, but people abuse drugs.  You probably won’t buy that argument, but I thought I would try to run it by you anyway.

I know some of you will be offended by my calling the USA, a land of drug abusers but take a look at the following statistics: (From the Addiction Center)

  • Almost 21 million Americans have at least one addiction, yet only 10% of them receive treatment.
  • Drug overdose deaths have more than tripled since 1990.
  • From 1999 to 2017, more than 700,000 Americans died from overdosing on a drug.
  • Alcohol and drug addiction cost the U.S. economy over $600 billion every year.
  • About 20% of Americans who have depression or an anxiety disorder also have a substance use disorder.
  • On average, 30 Americans die every day in an alcohol-related car accident, and six Americans die every day from alcohol poisoning.
  • About 88,000 people die as a result of alcohol every year in the United States.

Are you ready for another fact of the drug trade?  Here it comes.  “There is no drug war.”  It is a phony war.  A war is a battle between two or more armies.  One side kills the other side and few if any prisoners are taken.  The armies use tanks, helicopters, airplanes, missile launchers and rockets to kill as many of the enemy as possible.   No one is attacking my soldiers except enemies within my country.  The competition that wants to take over my trade is the only army that I fear.  I do not worry about the military or the police.  We pay them enough to look the other way and as long as we limit the violence and mayhem to ourselves, they are happy to ignore us.

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Unfortunately, as with some military endeavors, there are often unintended consequences or as the US Army likes to say some people get killed and they are collateral damage.  We often have citizens who become collateral damage.  This usually gets in the newspapers and is very bad for our business.  We do not like bad publicity any more than other businesses would.  We are much happier with satisfied customers who get a quality product and tell others about our goods.  However, as with any industry, a few greedy people can upset the apple cart and then all hell breaks loose.  I think you saw that recently with the opioid crisis in the USA when a few pharmaceutical companies got very greedy and pushed the sale of large amounts of opioids to people whether they really needed them or not.  Another example from some years ago, was the highly popular company called ENRON which set up an energy business but got greedy and used many shady techniques to lie to their customers and inflate their stock prices.  Several senior executives from Enron ended up with prison terms.  In the end, greed will bring you down.

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The last point I want to make about my business concerns the idea that legalization would eliminate most of the illegal activity and violence associated with the trade.  I believe that this is false.  I am not saying this because legalization would put me out of business.  The fact of the matter is that legalization of drugs typically has one big problem.  It is that the government then decides to take a bite out of the profits.  They call this bite, taxes.  Mind you, they don’t just take a small bite, but they take a very big bite.  On average, federal and state excise taxes on cigarettes in the USA contribute to 44.3% of the total retail price of a pack of cigarettes.  Just to take one example for whisky, nearly 60% of every bottle of Bourbon sold goes to federal and state taxes.  When NY State decided to legalize Off Track Betting, it did cut into the illegal activity of bookie betting but not as much as the authorities had hoped for.  The state wanted winners to pay taxes and the mafia was a tax-free payer.  This meant that winners could bring home more money from illegal gambling than from legal gambling.

As long as I can avoid paying taxes, I will be able to provide my products cheaper than legally licensed drug dealers.  If I can provide a quality product at a lower price, I will remain the Walmart of drug dealers.   Perhaps, I should label my trucks with the logo “Always the lowest.”

Two other reasons that I do not worry about legalization concern both the puritanical and pragmatic interests that seem to govern attitudes towards drugs.   The puritanical people feel obligated to ban drugs because they believe that they are the devil’s weapons to destroy people.  Ever since the days of the Pilgrims there were Puritans who did not like to see people having fun.

“Years of research confirm biblical warnings that alcohol use leads to physical, mental, and emotional damage.”  (e.g., Proverbs 23:29-35)

When it comes to pragmatism, it is clear that politicians want to ensure a work force that shows up on time and is dutifully reliable to the time clock.  People using drugs often have a noted propensity for putting the needs of capitalism second to the needs they are focused on while high on drugs.  You may notice in the statistics above the large dollar amount lost to the USA economy that is attributed to drug use.  How this figure is calculated is a mystery but political attitudes towards drugs have always been hostile and show no signs of abating.  Regard the many years it has taken for the legalization of Marijuana to take hold in the USA.

I hope these “facts” of the drug trade have not been too disconcerting or off putting for you.  I believe that there is too much naivety and ignorance about our industry.  It is fostered for some of the reasons that I have noted in my confessions.  There are no doubt issues that I have missed or not mentioned.  If so, I err because of my perspective and not to deceive you.  I would not want to lose any customers.

“If you want to understand a society, take a good look at the drugs it uses. And what can this tell you about American culture? Well, look at the drugs we use. Except for pharmaceutical poison, there are essentially only two drugs that Western civilization tolerates: Caffeine from Monday to Friday to energize you enough to make you a productive member of society, and alcohol from Friday to Monday to keep you too stupid to figure out the prison that you are living in.”  ― Bill Hicks

Where did the Drug Crisis Start?

Where did the “Drug Crisis Start?”  Since 1980 deaths from drug overdoses in the USA have steadily increased every year.  In 1999, the per capita rate of drug deaths (Based on 100,000 people) was 6.1 for all drugs while the rate of deaths from opioids was 2.9.  In 2017, the rate was 21.7 for all drugs and 14.9 percent for opioids.

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Why are so many dying from Opioids?

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This article in the Guardian states that the main reason for the increases was the epidemic created by the pharmaceutical industry in pushing drugs for pain relief for very common problems such as arthritis and back pain. 

Thus, while we arrest drug dealers, the real culprits go scott free and become billionaires on the suffering of the US population. 

Certainly there is a causal link between an aging population, increased obesity, back pain, prescription drugs and drug deaths.  But as we should have clearly seen even twenty years ago, the solution is not more PAIN Killers.”

It should have been obvious to the doctors, pharmaceutical executives, FDA and all of our political leaders.  However, truth and reality are too often forgotten when it comes to making profits.  Greed trumps all other considerations and millions of Americans have become hooked on painkillers to alleviate symptoms that can often be treated with much simpler and more effective solutions.

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