After working 28 years as a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the last 10 as the Agent in Charge of the Special Operations Division, a Virginia based Operational Coordination Center with participation from over 30 agencies, I learned many disturbing aspects of global drug trafficking to include the severe consequences of drug addiction.
Too often I hear stories about the sudden deaths of young children with bright futures. Over the years, I have listened to many parents crying out load after finding loved ones dead in their bedrooms after overdosing.
I also witnessed the drug education shrinking budgets in America and the lack of serious attention from leaders in Washington on this topic. How can we ignore the crisis of drug addiction, death and destruction of families? To make matters worse, we have a national health epidemic that connects into national security matters impacting all Americans.
Drug traffickers are in the business to make money while terrorists need money to operate and achieve their objectives.
As President Obama and other national leaders have stated, “terrorists are increasingly turning to crime and criminal networks for funding”. The threat of terrorists and drug traffickers forming a strong alliance is real and emerging quickly as a result of the worldwide demand for drugs and the exorbitant profits made from the business.
As state sponsorship of terrorism declines, terrorism fueled by drug trafficking is on the rise. More than ever, this ongoing and expanding crisis needs the proactive attention of government.
Many parents, teachers and educators have never heard of Spice or K2. They think K2 is a brand name for skiing gear and Spice is a seasoning for meals.
The manufacturers and distributors of these dangerous synthetic drugs want non-users to believe its incense or nice smelling potpourri.
The creative marketing scheme designed to protect the distributors from prosecution even mark the exotic designed packages, Scooby Snax, King Cobra, Kush Apple, Kong, Magic Dragon and as “not for human consumption”.
Meanwhile, parents around the country are finding this synthetic cannabis and the paraphernalia in the bedrooms of their beautiful children as they lay either unconscious, dead or in the middle of a psychotic episode.
The perception of the public is marijuana is safe so how bad can synthetic marijuana be? This is an emerging trend that has garnered the attention of the national media organizations, but sadly the public still doesn’t realize that this dried plant substance that is sprayed with chemicals and made in laboratories in China is actually like “poison” destroying so many lives and families.
There is no quality control in the labs and the organizations behind the distribution are making tremendous amounts of money. Because the laws are behind and the legal system in America is slow to respond, the traffickers are taking complete advantage and making lots of money.
A disturbing trend that I saw growing as the Director of the Special Operations Division, was that synthetic pot combined with other criminal activity was generating tons of profits and proceeds from this business were being sent to countries in the Middle East from the U.S. organizations.
After Project Synergy and a major case in Alabama as part of Operation Red Tide, many wondered why millions of dollars were being sent to Yemen from convenience stores, gas stations and smoke shops selling synthetic drugs on the streets of America.
The most troubling thing I learned is many of the Middle Eastern group’s organizing the distribution of this poison all over the USA that is killing kids and destroying families are also engaging in many crimes in addition to the sale of drugs, like illegal cigarette trafficking and the sale of drug paraphernalia.
They also engage in EBT Fraud and the sale of counterfeit goods.
We have seen cases all over the that have the same patterns of activity and they are in our back yards operating under the radar in many instances.
As a matter of fact, Congressman King wrote an article in 2007, 10 years ago, how these U.S. based groups were sending huge amounts of money back to the Middle East to support terror groups.
During multiple interviews, reporters always asked, “do we have the smoking gun to support that the millions funneled to Yemen were supporting terrorists”. Unfortunately, there is no proof beyond a reasonable doubt that these funds are going to terrorists and it remains an unanswered and difficult question based on a variety of reasons.
However, as an investigator for almost 30 years, it’s very hard to justify or accept that these large sums of money are not getting into the hands of violent jihadist organizations.
If you look at all the evidence and facts relating to Yemen and that the base of operations for AQAP, Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, is in that country, it’s certainly not a stretch to think that the people running these U.S. businesses are assisting the AQAP and other groups who need cash to operate.
They need funds for training, recruiting, weapons, bribery, explosives, travel and logistics. AQAP is a Sunni extremist group that has conducted numerous high profile attacks targeting the west.
There was plenty of suspicious activity developed in the money movements as U.S. banks and law enforcement agencies examined the flows of cash to Yemen.
Since U.S. officials have overwhelming responsibilities in keeping America safe, it’s very difficult to get anyone excited to investigate this emerging problem without the “smoking gun” to support that these monies are supporting the agenda of terrorists.
In my opinion this phenomenon is actually a “two for one special” for the terrorists. They can destroy families and kill children in the U.S. by selling synthetic drugs, and at the same time they can make tons of money in the process to support their cause.
This is nothing new to DEA as high level Afghani heroin traffickers have stated that selling heroin to customers in the west is part of the global jihad. They can kill and make money at the same time. This is a win-win scenario for the enemy as the U.S. officials continue to debate the topic and disagree on what’s actually happening.
It’s clearly more important for the government’s resources to prioritize the investigative efforts on the most pressing threats like when there is an active subject looking to kill innocent people on the streets of America.
It’s not possible with limited resources to investigate every aspect of terrorism, but shutting down the funding streams from the criminal activities like selling synthetic drugs in the U.S. will disrupt the terrorist’s activities.
The most important aspect is to understand the larger issues with the drug problem in America. Yes. It’s very sad that our youth are dying and lives are ruined. It’s horrible for parents and families to experience the impacts of drug addiction.
It’s the responsibility of our government to educate the great citizens of the country on the other realities of global drug trafficking. The public and policy makers must understand the economics behind terrorism since that’s a critical component of addressing the threat.
According to the United Nations World Drug Report, the global drug trade generates approximately $400 billion on an annual basis. It would be very naïve to think, that radical jihadists in Yemen wouldn’t be benefiting directly from the synthetic drug sales in America when millions and millions are funneled from their U.S. based illicit activities.