The CIA Drug connection under Reagan

Under President Ronald Reagan America not only increased its involvement in the Middle East by supplying arms to both Iraq and Iran in their war against each other, but America stepped up its involvement in conflicts around the world, especially South America.

The “War on Drugs” really started with President Nixon and his attack on marijuana, but Reagan is known as the “Just Say No” president for his campaign against recreational drugs in America and a strong policy of international drug eradication. Under Reagan’s policy, at a time when Americans were being presented with strong anti-drug propaganda, the CIA was in fact an accomplice to a large narcotics smuggling ring in the United States. It was in fact Reagan’s policies that led to the cooperation between the CIA and the Contras. The Contras were a counter-revolutionary group that was fighting against the Sandinistas to return the corrupt Somoza regime to power in Nicaragua.

In a 1986 White House speech Ronald Reagan Stated: "Despite our best efforts, illegal cocaine is coming into our country at alarming levels and 4 to 5 million people regularly use it."

Alleged Contras in Nicaragua

In 1998 the CIA finally admitted to its involvement in drug trafficking in the United States after years of federal investigation by the Kerry Congressional Committee.  What the CIA admitted to was allowing cocaine trafficking to take place by Contras who were being supported by the CIA, using facilities and resources supplied by the US government, and preventing investigation into these activities by other agencies. This was done because funds for the support of militant groups in South America had been withdrawn by Congress so the CIA allowed the Contras to engage in the drug trade in the United States in order to make money to fund their military operations. If you are wondering why this was not covered more widely in the news during the Clinton Administration it may be because Arkansas was one of the major trafficking centers for the operations.

These are hard facts.  The CIA was forced to publish the information by the Congressional Committee when they were found of wrongdoing.  You can find the official CIA version of the story here:

CNN, and other major news agencies ran only minor stories covering the revelation:

As part of the evidence this page from Oliver North's notepad shows that he was aware of the possibility of Contra drug running to the United States.

The relevant item reads:

"Honduran DC-6 which is being used for runs out of New Orleans is probably being used for drug runs into U.S."

The truth is that the "War on Drugs" is more about international politics and control then it is about concern for the health of Americans. Drugs have been a major factor in the funding of revolutions for centuries. This is because drugs are a very high profit product that can be grown by even the most primitive people, and thus it’s very hard to control.  In fact the American Revolution was funded by “drugs”. The main “drug” in the funding of the American Revolution was tobacco, but opium played a role as well. Tobacco was regulated by the King of England not only for health reasons, but also because he knew that it was funding American colonial “terrorism”. America was able to pay for French support in the war against England largely through tobacco money. At the time the American Revolution was also known as "The Tobacco Wars" and the area of Massachusetts Bay was known as "The Tobacco Coast".

Likewise opium and cocaine have also been products that have funded many wars and revolutions over the past few hundred years. In fact a common strategy of entities that wish to quickly gain large amounts of money is to sell drugs to their local population. This was done by the British from the 1600s through the 1800s, selling not only to their own citizens, but to all of the people within their empire as well as China. It is estimated that the opium trade was the largest single source of revenue for the British Crown during this time and was one of the major trades that enabled British Imperialism. In addition, during WWII the Japanese began heavy opium production and sales, selling both to their own people and to the Chinese. This opium trade raised significant amounts of money to fund the Japanese military. 

The reason why the Reagan administration began the War on Drugs was to cut off the money supply to revolutionary groups in South America, the Middle East, and Asia that were using drug money to fund wars for national independence from foreign intervention. America has been able to selectively apply pressure to various regimes under the guise of the War on Drugs, which is just one more way that elements of the American government have been able to get funding for taking action against foreign governments in order to promote American interests. Another of the major problems that prompted the origin of the War on Drugs and was able to get much of the initial support for the program was the problem of the Medellin Cartel in Columbia run by Pablo Escobar.  This was a very legitimate and problematic issue; the Medellin Cartel was out of control and terrorizing the country of Columbia.

This is really what has always been behind the War on Drugs; the problem that is being addressed is not drug use, but the existence of drug cartels, narco-terrorism, and political groups that use drug money to fund private wars.

In 1999 Congress released a report on the history of CIA involvement in drug trafficking. If you don't remember seeing anything about it on the news, that because it wasn't reported by any major news agencies. An outline of the history can be found here:

A History of CIA Complicity in Drug International Trafficking

For more on this issue see:

This page is a part of This War Is About So Much More which was written in March and April of 2003. This document should be read in the order that it is presented. If you are coming to this page from an outside source, such as a search engine, and you are interested in how this information relates to Operation Iraqi Freedom, then please start at the Foreword. In addition, if you have been directed here from an outside search engine then you may want to re-search this website with the same criteria because it is likely that this website contains additional information on the same topics.
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