The four-part miniseries is a thorough exposé of the US government’s role in growing the domestic drug war.
A new four-part History Channel series delves deep in the U.S. government’s role in fueling the War on Drugs during the last five decades—producing the disastrous drug war as we know it today.
Jon Schwarz of The Intercept calls America’s War on Drugs, which debuted its first episode on Sunday (June 18), a “genuine milestone” which exposes the roots of the drug war, “one of the most cruel policies in U.S. history.”
“Most Americans would be utterly shocked if they knew the depth of involvement that the Central Intelligence Agency has had in the international drug trade,” said former drug smuggler and writer and TV producer Richard Stratton.
The CIA routinely cooperated with criminals in the name of fighting communism. There was the time during the 1960s when the CIA turned a blind eye to mob boss Santo Trafficante Jr’s drug deals in exchange for help assassinating Fidel Castro.
During the Vietnam War, the CIA oversaw the transport of opium into the United States—while shipping supplies to anti-communist guerrilla forces in Laos. During the ‘80s, while President Ronald Reagan was in office, the U.S. government supplied Nicaraguan contras with weapons while allowing cocaine into the United States, in an attempt to overthrow the Sandinista government.
Most people have probably heard of Project MK-ULTRA, the CIA’s attempt at mind control experiments using LSD during the 1950s through the early ‘70s. The agency imported the drug from Switzerland with the intention of developing mind control weapons to use against communist enemies.
Instead, the CIA unintentionally helped popularize acid and psychedelic counterculture, Schwarz notes.
“A lot of these patterns that have their origins in the 1960s became cyclical,” said Lindsay Moran, a former CIA officer. “Those relationships develop again and again throughout the War on Drugs.”
The four two-hour long episodes of America’s War on Drugs presents an “immersive trip through the last five decades, uncovering how the CIA, obsessed with keeping America safe in the fight against communism, allied itself with the mafia and foreign drug traffickers,” reads a description of the series. “In exchange for support against foreign enemies, the groups were allowed to grow their drug trade in the United States.”