How The War On Drugs Impacts Counterterrorism And Child Trafficking
Tony Schiena has had a few different roles in his life; he worked in South African intelligence, he’s trained special forces all over the world, and more recently wrote a screenplay for an upcoming film, Darc, which he is also set to star in.
Schiena works as a private security consultant, and also works to fight child trafficking and develop counterterror strategies around the world.
“We deal with law enforcement, with relays, with NGOs and sometimes with the victim, to at least find them the right specialized help,” says Schiena.
Our interview was supposed to be about his fitness and survival tips, which he’s taught in locales as dangerous as Afghanistan. But it was when I started asking him about the interaction between issues like terrorism, human trafficking and the drug trade and the war on drugs that he came alive.
“The ban against drugs causes the black market. The black market is where all of these illegal revenues are made. The black market also then funds the terrorists, just like how the opium in Afghanistan funds the Taliban. It’s the black market that really is where the issue is.”
In the area of human trafficking or terrorism, there isn’t a legislative “silver bullet” to combat the issue. Nobody is about to legalize child slavery or decriminalize terrorism.
For the drug trade, there have been numerous policy successes that suggest decriminalization or legalization may be an option. The case of Portugal is an example; after decriminalizing all drugs (in personal use amounts) in 2001, usage and deaths have both dropped.
“What I have a gripe with is that there’s no question of legalizing human trafficking, and yet it doesn’t have the same funding required to combat it, as much as the funding going into drug trafficking, which is something that can never be stopped. If you find a buyer, you can find a seller.”
According to one estimate, OECD countries donated $124 million annually on average between 2002-2012 to combat child trafficking. By contrast, the United States alone (according to some estimates) spends over $40 billion annually in the War On Drugs.
“[The war on drugs] it’s a huge expense on taxpayers. They will never stop drug trafficking. If you put the squeeze on Mexico they’re going to move to Honduras. Put the squeeze on Honduras and they’re back in Colombia. America has the biggest demand, and they’re always going to find a supplier,” he says.
“In drugs, if you’re the middleman, you buy the drugs, then you sell the drugs. In human trafficking, the child is used over and over and over again until they’re gotten rid of or sold off,” he says.
“Our partner is the commander of intelligence at Scotland Yard. We’re very involved with law enforcement. Often law enforcement lacks funding and very important things and are always experiencing cuts. Because though it’s a very important crime, drug trafficking gets the major funding,” he says.