The DEA is constantly reporting on where ,when, and how many drugs were seized. But where do the drugs go after that?
Another day, another reported drug bust. This time the Border Patrol Agents found more than a ton of marijuana while breaking up a border crossing operation. In addition to the marijuana, the DEA seized several trucks and a boat. Every day the Drug War leads to the seizure of drugs, cars, property, and money. The DEA, the Border Patrol, and even local cops are very fond of bragging about their busts. When agents make a bust, they make sure the press knows when, where, what, and how much. What never seems to be reported in the press is what happens to all the seized merchandize once the police have it in their possession.
Early in the morning, under the cover of darkness several Mexican drug runners attempted to cross the Rio Grande near Abram, Texas. The men were unloading a truck full of marijuana on the Mexican side, and loading it into a metal boat. They were in the process of floating the boat across to the American side to be loaded into another truck when the Border Patrol spotted them. The patrol quickly called for backup from Border Patrol, Customs, the Border Protection Office, and Air and Marine helicopters. A second Border Patrol team arrived via boat and caught the smugglers in the middle of the Rio Grande. The smugglers quickly abandoned ship and swam back to Mexico. In total the agents made no arrests, but seized almost two million dollars worth of marijuana, three trucks, and the boat.
What became of this seized material is slightly less clear. One of the seized cars had been reported stolen and was delivered to the Parr Police Department to be returned to its owner. The other vehicles and marijuana were turned over to the DEA. On an average week the government seizes over twenty million dollars worth of marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, and meth. In addition to this, the government seizes millions worth of weapons, money, and counterfeit goods. When asked what became of all these goods, the DEA office of public affairs respond “it gets destroyed.” They hold the contraband until any investigations are completed before destruction. The DEA refuses to disclose where or who they have contracted with to destroy the contraband. The reasons they cite for not releasing this information are contractor and citizen safety.
It is curious that the DEA is so secretive about their means of destroying seized contraband. There are many nations that have joined America’s War on Drugs that make public spectacles of destroying drugs. In 2008 the government of Thailand burned over fifteen tons of drugs in a ceremony near Bangkok. While the burning took place, over a thousand youngsters signed agreed to an anti-drug pledge. With the help of the UN Haiti seized twenty two hundred kilos of drugs. These drugs were then burned in the town square as a public symbol. The Drug War is a failure. The media bombardment of drug raids does nothing to stop the flow of drugs but does increase public perception of the drug war. Why if for no other reason then to be a symbolic statement would the government not be broadcasting the destruction of drugs with the same vigor that they do the seizure of drugs?