The Reality Behind The Movie Traffic

The Reality Behind The Movie Traffic
Posted by FoM on March 19, 2001 at 15:37:26 PT
Coming Up On Nightline By Leroy Sievers
Source: ABCNews
Tonight we have the first of a five-part series on drug-trafficking from Mexico to the United States  the reality behind the movie Traffic. When you work at Nightline, you don't get out much. We spend most of our nights here at the office. So movie recommendations are taken pretty seriously, because with only one or two nights a week that you can go out, you want to make the best of them. 
So one Monday, a lot of us came in raving about the same movie, Traffic. Not only is it a terrific movie, nominated for Best Picture (and no, Disney had nothing to do with it, we checked) but it presents a very accurate and very bleak picture of the drug war.Now, all of us have been covering drug stories for years. But it seems to have become one of those stories that has become part of the background noise. It's always out there, but we sort of ignore it. Well, at least for us, the movie changed that. It really energized us, and so we set out to produce a five-part series that will begin tonight. If you haven't seen the movie, don't worry, you don't need to have seen it to appreciate this week's broadcasts. But it is worth seeing.Ted and a team of producers set out to look at the realities of the drug war. A number of the characters in the movie are based on real people, and in a couple of cases, the real people appear in the movie. That's the case with tonight's broadcast. The customs official shown briefing the drug czar (Michael Douglas' role) really is a customs official, and Ted begins with him at the border crossing south of San Diego. He shows us what the U.S. government is doing to stop drugs from coming across: trained dogs, a new X-ray machine that can X-ray a whole vehicle, and every day they cut open cars to find drugs. But then we'll hear from a former member of one of the cartels who talks about how they beat customs to move their loads into the United States. And finally, we'll hear from teenagers about just how easy it is to get drugs far from the border, and how difficult it is for local police to try to stop it.Then tomorrow we'll tell you about the biggest, most powerful, and most vicious of the cartels that controls the Tijuana border crossing. On Wednesday, you'll meet people that live in fear of the smugglers, a reporter who crossed them and now goes nowhere without a dozen armed bodyguards, a neighborhood in the United States under siege, and officials in the new Mexican government who have to think about their safety as they try to fight the cartels. Thursday's broadcast is based on the expression "silver or lead." That's the choice that a number of officials and law enforcement agents are given by the cartels: Take our silver or take our lead. And Friday will focus again on the teenagers you'll first meet tonight as they talk about their experiences in buying, selling and using drugs, and how they fooled their parents.In the past, I've asked you how many broadcasts you all watch when we do run series, and many of you said two or three. And in the past few days, a number of you have written in to suggest that everyone just set their VCRs. Well, this is a series that we're very proud of, so we hope you'll watch all five nights, or set your VCRs, or your Tivo boxes, or whatever, but we hope that you will find the next five broadcasts compelling, challenging, and maybe even disturbing.Source: ABC NewsAuthor: Leroy Sievers, Executive Producer NightlinePublished: Monday, March 19, 2001 Copyright: 2001 ABC News Internet VenturesWebsite: Official Web Site'Nightline' To Devote a Full Week To Drugs Koppel Hooked on Drugs Articles - Traffic 
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Comment #7 posted by NiftySplifty on March 20, 2001 at 19:21:19 PT
Sudaca, I can certainly sympathize.
I'm just looking at it in the sense that ordinary citizens are going to be watching this, not just politicians. If it as least makes Joe Public think about the situation, then it's not a lost cause. No one expects the politicians to switch overnight, but when polls start saying that we don't want incarceration (and ultimately legalization someday), then the politicians' heads will either spin or roll. If they want to keep their fat-cat jobs, they'll have to switch. I'd just assume they'd be gone straight to hell, if it's just the same. Of course, I'm a staunch Libertarian, so I won't support the republocrats even if they start singing my song ('cause they still want the power).Nifty...
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Comment #6 posted by Sudaca on March 20, 2001 at 12:48:32 PT
I feel disappointed
look. Nothing here is new and nothing here is different. The only new message is the "two pronged attack" that is now being trumpeted as the next logical step. Unfortunately for the world, the movie director was shy on the message; there was no need to pander to the stereotypes the antis love so. For example teenage daughter could have been busted and imprisoned (you can get ugly from there) without having to be a nightmare incarnate. Experience and data suggest that the majority of users are not wrecks. I think that this movie tried too hard to be palatable to the establishment. I think they'll find a way to twist the message into another repetition of the same.If you think this has changed the politicans at all look at what's happening with the "ecstasy - the devil drug" episodes being played out in congress.
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Comment #5 posted by Dan B on March 20, 2001 at 07:16:34 PT:
I'm trying to reserve judgement until its over...
. . . but it seems to me that the message of last night's show was not "law enforcement isn't working, so we need to look at other options," but "law enforcement isn't working, so we need to try even harder to make it work." I am hoping that the tone of these five segments shifts toward legalization, but I saw no indication of that from last night's show. Perhaps Koppel's using this first show as a way to hook prohibitionists into watching the rest of the shows, or perhaps he's using the whole Traffic tie-in to play to the hopes of those in favor of decriminalization. I don't know; I'll have to watch the rest and see what happens. I am taping these shows, as I have taped the the most recent drug war-related shows from the History Channel and PBS. I hope to use those shows, the movie Traffic, and some good books (Drug Warriors and Their Prey, Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts, The Case for Legalizing Drugs) in a class or seminar some day. Let's hope that by then any drug war class will be a history lesson.Dan B
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on March 20, 2001 at 07:00:30 PT
Marijuana is NOT a Gateway Drug
I didn't like that they asked the girl what she started using first. I wonder if she drank alcohol? Other then that legalization is the only way to stop this problem. At least no other solution came to my mind from watching the program. I hope they don't just show us the gore of the drug war. We know all to well about that and sensationalism doesn't solve the problem.
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Comment #3 posted by Dankhank on March 20, 2001 at 05:50:40 PT
Yea ...
Nifty got it right ...I saw it and also winced at the hackneyed "started with Marijuana."Yes, a better time is coming ...
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Comment #2 posted by NiftySplifty on March 20, 2001 at 00:07:19 PT
I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised!
Since Mr. Koppel pretty much started off referring to the scene in the movie where the border cop says "...we're probably only getting 40-50 percent [of the drugs coming through the border]" and said, "Forty to fifty percent? Not even on their best day."So, it was surprisingly good, aside from asking a girl what she started using at the age of twelve, to which she replied, "marijuana, and it just took off from there". (Oh, for the love of God, not that one again!)Oh well, it's a good start!N...
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Comment #1 posted by mungojelly on March 19, 2001 at 20:19:41 PT:
i think this is going to be big
Nightline .. ABC .. "more americans get their news from ABCNews than from any other source," you know! this is going to change some minds! it's time to start expecting and demanding some momentum, getting something to happen on the streets. i think there's a lot of dormant potential in the marijuana legalization movement -- thousands of people show up for legalization rallies, but they're dismissed with "oh, they just come there to smoke pot and watch the bands." (as if that means that they're not sincere in protesting marijuana prohibition?) but i'd like to see people on the streets with signs saying "RESPONSIBLE MARIJUANA USE SHOULD NOT BE A CRIME -- LEGALIZE NOW!" -- every week, every day. 
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