Alexander Lynn

Jun 12, 2019

10 min read

Human Rights and Heroin Wrongs

By Maria Canuto, Jeannette Pomales, George Jenkins, Christina Rivera, Loren Badgett, and Trevor Moody

Dear Readers: The following study/forum report is the result of a People’s Research Project prosecuted by students at Madison Park High School in 2004. It is reproduced here in light of the current opioid pandemic, and in recognition of the fact that the research conducted by these students 15 years ago anticipated literally everything that the current pandemic is unleashing on our peoples. Ultimately, it is the process and source of the crisis which this research unveiled 15 years ago which must be honored.

Seen my man get shot over a fix;

Niggaz stealing they kids Christmas gifts

after they give it to them, for some coke;

Another nigga moves on the block from another ‘hood and try to pop,

Niggaz stick him, then kill him for making money on their block.

A fiend owe a nigga a lot of money for some coke he cuffed

Dude went to the fiend’s crib one night when he was drunk

Went an’ kick in the door — the fiend seen it was him

He knew what time it was; he ran

He left a three year old in the room

He ran out the back, left his kid,

And the nigga shot the three year old in the head,

All over him not paying, he lost his three year old.

Fiend getting high in the room with his brother.

His brother hogging the coke,

The brother’s high but he wants more

Ends up stabbing his brother four times before he realize what he was doing

Then he stopped — happened in a crack house.

A young kid in the neighborhood was trying to sell sucked-on lemon heads

You know, when you suck all the flava out, it kind look like a rock

One fiend he sold it to came back tryin’ to get his money back;

Fiend end up cutting dude with a box cutter….

These are scenes from the drug trade in our neighborhood. October 9, 2003 the Boston Globe reported that there is a massive influx of heroin, the greatest heroin influx into New England in history. 1 Heroin has been on the rise for the last few years — actually since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

The Boston Herald has carried similar articles, and in these articles Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, declares it an epidemic. 2 Mayor of Boston, Tom Menino, decries that heroin is easier to buy than cigarettes, and that heroin actually costs less than a box of cigarettes — $4 per bag. 3

Heroin Flooding our Neighborhoods

Since it has been known that heroin has been on the rise for quite some time, why are these politicians suddenly so interested now? There are two important items related to this sudden interest: (1) Oxycontin, an over the counter prescription drug, became very popular in the 1990’s in suburban White communities in New England. 4 After a few years, people began to get addicted to it, and there were plenty of doctors willing to write up endless ‘scrips’ for their patients, as they get a cut in the pharmaceutical/financial proceeds. [The chemical make-up of Oxycontin is such that it is known in the street as over-the-counter heroin]. But then came a turn for the worse: some people got so addicted that it became common to see on the six o’clock news some crazed Oxycontin addict go into a suburban pharmacy with a shot gun and hold the place up for all their Oxycontin. 5 This became so common at the beginning of the new century, 2000–20001, that Oxycontin had to be banned from the pharmacies. 6

(2) The second condition is the so-called “War on Terror.” Before the U.S. decided to go to war in Afghanistan, the Taliban government of that Asian country had banned all production of poppies, the plant from which opium is derived — opium, in turn, is the main ingredient in the production of heroin. At the time of the U.S. invasion heroin export from Afghanistan was at a very low rate. 7 [This ban resulted in Afghanistan dropping from having a 70% share in the world market of heroin to a 20% share in the ten years of Taliban rule]. Two years after the U.S. invasion and military occupation, by 2003, heroin production from Afghanistan was again the highest in the world. Today, Afghanistan has a 75% share of the world market.

All of this has taken place since the U.S. took the Taliban out of power. 8 [This article was written in 2003. Since that time, under U.S. military occupation, Afghanistan is responsible for fully 85% of the world’s heroin (…)]

These two conditions — (1) the high demand for a replacement of Oxycontin in the suburbs, and (2) the massive influx of heroin from Afghanistan into the New England region resulting from the U.S. military occupation — combined to create what the local politicians are calling an “epidemic” of heroin consumption, with a sharp increase in overdoes. 9 The level of presence of heroin in our communities is definitely rising. It seems clear that the reason for the attention from the media and the government is because of the effect it is having on “well-healed” populations in the suburbs.

Collaboration with the United Nations

We began a collaboration with the United Nations Association of the United States of America. We decided to undertake a Human Rights Commission on the subject of the heroin proliferation and the central role of the U.S. military and corporations in drug running in our neighborhoods and all over the world.

With the guidance of the UN Association we participated in three workshops to prepare for our Human rights commission:

1. Researching our topic

2. Resolution writing

3. UN debate procedures and protocol

We did a lot of searching the world-wide web for information on the heroin trade. We split up into four groups to take up the research:

(1) Students from the Caribbean and Latin America;

(2) Students from African America and Africa

(3) Students from Haiti

(4) Students from Cape Verde

We were evenly divided, with about fifteen of us in each group. Topics researched included:

· “Field research” — that is, speaking with young men dealing heroin on our blocks in our neighborhoods;

· The United States war against the peoples of Vietnam, and the resulting flood of heroin into this country during the years of that war;

· Senator John Kerry’s Commission on the flow of drugs into this country;

· The war in Afghanistan

· Money laundering

The information we gathered was the main content of the Human Rights Commission debate, which we conducted as an all-day forum in April. With the training we received from the Model UN, we formulated, at the end of the day a Resolution concerning the US government and its violation of our Human Rights.

Much of the “Procedures and Protocols” which the Model UN people normally use at their forums were scrapped, so that we could run our forum as smoothly as possible. The UN people were very skilled at adapting to our needs.

Human Rights Commission on Heroin Proliferation

There were about sixty of us participating in this debate, and there were about ten observers, and four facilitators. After we were all briefed on the process for the day we broke up into caucuses/delegations. It was in these caucuses that the four delegations — (1) Haiti, (2) Africa/African America, (3), Caribbean/Latin America, and (4) Cabo Verde — prepared our arguments for the General Assembly debate.

In the African America/African delegation, a desperate situation broke out as soon as they began: Two of the participants admitted to being drug dealers. After it became clear that they were not in any danger for admitting this, they began to speak more boldly, with the swagger that goes along with the hype surrounding this type of activity. There were also two people who argued in favor of the benefits of smoking marijuana (they may have been “benefiting” at the time of this meeting). Combined, these four people held the floor, and it even looked as if this delegation may be split down the middle over the question of whether drug dealing was a legitimate form of community activity.

After about 20 minutes of this discussion, two students — Malith Luerice and Kenyetta Lattimore — made moving presentations, laying out in detail

· The negative effects drugs have in our communities

· Who really benefits from the selling of drugs

· The inevitable demise for neighborhood drug dealers in either jails, institutions or death.

When they were done the mood of the group had turned. A vote was undertaken on the question: Is drug dealing a positive activity in our community? “Yes”: three votes; “No”: eleven votes; “Abstain”: one (one of our two marijuana devotees was unclear what the vote was about…) With this vote secure the African/African America delegation was prepared to enter the General assembly.

United States Military Responsible for

Bringing Heroin into our Communities

Each delegation made an opening speech, which consisted of their basic position on the issue, backed up by research, and including the most important points they felt needed to be part of our concluding Resolution on the topic.

Some of the delegates detailed the way the U.S. military organized the production of poppy fields in Laos, and Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and paralleled this past activity to the present bumper crop being harvested by the same U.S. military in Afghanistan, which has resulted in the flooding of our neighborhoods with heroin. 10

Between the CIA and the U.S. military this opium was transformed into heroin and then brought to the United States. Top U.S. military commanders were in on the profits, and knowledge of the operations went all the way to the top of the U.S. government. It was government policy. The drug was dropped mostly into poor Black and Latino urban ghettos during the Vietnam War. 11 These are the same communities that were up in flames at that time (1968–1974), with the people all over the country fighting for their rights. With heroin as available as milk and eggs, this flood had a very negative impact on the freedom movements of Black and Latino peoples of this time, because a lot of energy and spirit was channeled into addiction. 12

One of the delegates reported on the role of the U.S. State Department in the cocaine industry. According to the “Kerry Report,” 13 which we all studied as preparation for this forum, the US State Department selected four companies owned and operated by narcotics traffickers to supply “humanitarian” assistance to the Contras, the mercenary army organized by the U.S. military to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. 14

“The Kerry Report” is famous for its exposure of the United States government’s leading role in drug running: the payments made by the State Department to these four companies between January and august 1986, were as follows:

SETCO, for air transport service……………………….$186,924.25

DIACSA, for airplane engine parts………………………..41,120.90

Frigorificos De Panterenas, as a broker/supplier for

various services to Contras on the southern Front….261,932.00

Vortex, for air transport services…………………………317,425.17


From the evidence he uncovered, Kerry came to the inevitable conclusion that the cocaine was coming into the United States in the same way that heroin came in from Vietnam and Laos: through the facilitation of the CIA and the U.S. military. 15

Maria Canuto, speaking on behalf of the Cape Verdian delegation, and drawing conclusions from the evidence, called for the following proposition to be included at the heart of our Resolution:

“It is the economic system of monopoly capitalism, based as it is on profits before human need, which creates such a situation of a government dealing drugs to its citizens. The people of this country need a socialist society created by us.”

Debate and Resolution

After the presentations from all four groups were made, the debate began. The opening salvo came from the African/African American delegation. Loren Badgett, speaking for the delegation, challenged the Haitian delegation: “You identified the problem, but were silent on who the perpetrators are. You completely left out who was responsible for this proliferation of heroin, acting as if you don’t know…”

After a few comments from other delegates on this subject, and after the Haitian delegation conferred for a few minutes, Greggoire Augustine spoke for the Haitian delegation: “We accept the criticism from the African delegation. We know the United States government is the biggest drug dealer in the world. We know that they are responsible for the recent flood of heroin in our communities. It is important to name who is responsible.”

From the research and discussion was developed a clear understanding of the role of money laundering in the drug trade, and the top place which giant banks like Bank of America and Fleet Bank play in this part of the drug business.

According to U.S. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan:

“Money laundering occurs when criminals attempt to disguise proceeds from criminal activities as legitimate funds. One way to launder money is to deposit the funds into U.S. banks or other financial institutions. Current estimates are that $500 billion to $1 trillion in illegal funds from organized crime, narcotics trafficking and other criminal misconduct are laundered through banks worldwide each year, with about half going through U.S. banks.” 16

Without the giant banks hiding the bank accounts of the biggest drug dealers, concluded the delegates, there could be no drug trafficking in the U.S. today.

After discussions about such basic neighborhood topics as the role of the police in targeting our young people for criminalization, the lack of training of police, the lack of job training for poor people, the insane amount of money going into wars that don’t benefit us, and the lack of health care and drug rehabilitation, the General Assembly agreed on the basic premise of the Resolution.

We concluded our Human Rights Commission with the agreement that the U.S. drug running and dumping on poor, working class neighborhoods in the United States was a clear violation of International Law. Specifically, it violated the rights of nations and peoples, such as African Americans, Puerto Ricans, Haitians, and other nationalities to self-determination and freedom from exploitation and outside coercion:

“The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to world peace and co-operation…” From “Declaration of the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples,” General Assembly Resolution, 1514, 15th United Nations, 1960.

Dropping tons of heroin and cocaine into poor communities of Color constitutes a violation of International Law. Making war against other poor nations for the purpose of developing the drug trade is a violation of International Law.