— Terrorism and the
international drug trade are dependent upon one
another, said John P. Walters, director of the
White House Office of National Drug Control
Policy, at a symposium Tuesday evening.
to a unplanned meeting with President George W.
Bush on Wednesday, the U.S. "Drug Czar" rushed
through his speech on drug trafficking to catch a
plane to Washington.
Walters, an MSU
alumnus, heads up all federal drug programs and
"The drug problem
is not the same everywhere," he said to a crowd at
the Gerald R. Ford Museum. "It is very focused."
Walters spoke about
three major areas where he said terrorism and the
drug trade go hand in hand.
Afghanistan saw a large increase in the growth of
opium poppy, the plant opium is derived from, he
said. While the Taliban ruled, it encouraged
farmers to grow the poppy and threatened to harm
farmers' friends and family if they didn't,
The farmers were
not the ones making the money, and the drug trade
— though inconsistent with Muslim religious
beliefs — brought the terrorist organization a
large amount of funding, he said.
Since the Afghan
government started to break away from Taliban
hold, he said the amount of opium produced has
cocaine trafficking in Columbia has declined with
the help of U.S. intelligence agencies. The use of
boats has been the most efficient way for
traffickers to smuggle drugs out of Columbia and
into neighboring countries. U.S. intelligence
officers have pinpointed the boat trafficking and
can stop boats when they travel beyond Columbian
"These are all
businesses, just like terrorist organizations,
with structure," he said. "In order to stop them,
we have to understand their structure."
government has seen the relationship and has
started to take a more active role in communities
around the country by establishing more schools
and businesses, Walters said. When people have a
community they want to invest in, drug trade goes
down, he said.
"For the first
time, today, the Columbian government has presence
in all the provinces of Columbia," Walters said.
imports seep through all U.S. borders, 90 percent
of drugs brought in from the Southern Hemisphere
enter through Mexico, he said.
Walters said the
National Guard has been used to control drugs on
the border for years. Violence, terrorism and
corruption in Mexico are linked with the drug
industry, he said.
"The demand market
depends on the addiction," Walters said. "It's not
25-year-olds having bad weekend choices — it
depends on addiction."
Walters' speech was
coordinated by the Symposium on Science, Reason
and Modern Democracy, a research center within the
MSU Department of Political Science.
Norb Tuma, a Grand
Rapids landlord, came out to hear Walters because
he sees the effects of drugs daily with his
"I'm interested in
the relationship of drug use and crime and how it
relates to local issues," Tuma said. "Even in a
place like Grand Rapids, drug use is rampant."
an MSU professor of political science who helped
organize the event, said Walters' job is one of
the most challenging.
"It is very
difficult to convince the country you can win the
war on drugs, and very difficult to convince them
of the progress you made," Weinberger said.