Warfare, Interdiction Not Answer to America’s Drug Problem

Press Release April 23, 2001
Media Contact

Tony Newman at 510-208-7711 or Shayna Samuels at 212 547 6916

On Friday an American missionary plane mistakenly suspected of trafficking drugs was shot down by a Peruvian jet working in cooperation with a U.S. surveillance plane, killing missionary Veronica Bowers and her 7-month old daughter.

The tragedy was a result of a joint drug interdiction effort in Peru, which has reduced the amount of coca grown in the region by two thirds, according to government estimates. Colombia has now replaced Peru as the principal source of cocaine. Meanwhile, there has been no impact on drug abuse problems in the U.S.latinplane

Those who oppose this strategy argue that decreasing the demand for drugs, by providing treatment services, is a better way to approach America’s drug problem and reduce the possibility of innocent casualties. Though we spend billions on interdiction efforts — proven to have no impact on drug abuse problems in the U.S. — almost 60 percent of those who need treatment can not get it, according to government figures.

“Our ‘war on drugs’ is clearly doing more harm than good,” said Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of The Lindesmith Center – Drug Policy Foundation and author of Cops Across Borders. “Killing innocent people is not an acceptable price to pay on behalf of a strategy that has failed over and over again for decades.”

Americans working under CIA contract provided the Peruvian airforce with the information about the suspected plane, leading to this tragic incident.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

Sign up for updates from DPA.