Berto Jongman: Lessons from the Failed War on Drugs

07 Other Atrocities, 09 Justice, 11 Society, Civil Society, Government, Law Enforcement
Berto Jongman
Berto Jongman

Our Right to Poison: Lessons from the Failed War on Drugs

By Jochen-Martin Gutsch and Juan Moreno

SpiegelOnline. 22 February 2013

The global war on drugs has cost billions and taken countless lives — but achieved little. The scant results finally have politicians and experts joining calls for legalization. Following the journey of cocaine from a farm in Colombia to a user in Berlin sheds light on why.


Popeye is a pale, 50-year-old man with a shrill voice — a psychopath who doesn’t count his kills.

The longer Popeye talks — about his murders, the drug war and the havoc he and Escobar wreaked and that is currently being repeated in Mexico — the less important my prepared questions about this war become. I realize that I might as well throw away my notepad, because it all boils down to one question: How can we stop people like you, Popeye?

He pauses for a moment before saying: “People like me can’t be stopped. It’s a war. They lose men, and we lose men. They lose their scruples, and we never had any. In the end, you’ll even blow up an aircraft because you believe the Colombian president is on board. I don’t know what you have to do. Maybe sell cocaine in pharmacies. I’ve been in prison for 20 years, but you will never win this war when there is so much money to me made. Never.”

I’m sitting face to face with a killer: Popeye, an evil product of hell. And I’m afraid that the killer could be right.

The drug war is the longest war in recent history, underway for more than 40 years. It is a never-ending struggle against a $500 billion (€378 billion) industry.

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