It is amazing the synergy that people from completely different backgrounds can give to exploring a subject when you put them together. I had wanted to put together a radio program on the subject of drugs and crime for quite some time. It is an important subject and one that gets plenty of air time on the news channels, but inevitably it comes in the form of a 30 second sound bite about some horrible crime. I wanted to do something a little different. Instead of the 30 second ‘shock and horror’ program lets do a 90 minute discussion about the subject, and lets assemble a panel that comes from a wide ranging series of backgrounds. I do believe that today’s program achieved those goals.

I do want to thank everyone that took part in the program, they are not in any particular order, everyone had a valuable contribution. I am also a believer in Karma, oh not in the new age stuff, just in the good old fashioned idea of if you give without expecting return, you reap great rewards. I know that personally, a few days ago I received a copy of a new book by two authors that collaborated on a beat selling book, they have a new book out, and they have included both my wife and I in the book! Karma works.

Here are the folks that took time out to talk on the program today:

Denny Griffin  was an investigator in New York for many years, he now lives in Las Vegas and specializes in books about crime.  His book ‘The Battle For Las Vegas’ is an authoritative look at the history of the city and how Organized crime was finally defeated. His most recent book is ‘Cullotta’, a definitive biography of the Mafia kingpin Frank Cullotta. Denny is a very quiet man, his mind is akin to a sponge, he absorbs facts and ideas. But when Denny does speak it is always with authority and thought.

Jay Rankin is the author of ‘Under The Neon Sky’, an autobiographical work that explores the 6 years that he worked at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as a night doorman. Drugs of one shape or another were very much a part of his life. Jay adds a spark to every conversation. Today was a great example, without the drug trade where would the economy be?  When he launched that question I sat back and listened to the answers.

Andrew DiDonato was a member of the New York Gambino crime family, one of his responsibilities was the establishment of a drug highway reaching from San Diego to New York. He is about to release both a book and a DVD documentary titled Surviving The Mob. I had the good fortune to preview some of the raw footage and all I can say is that it is chilling. Andrew brings a level of reality to a discussion like this that hits with the power of a Mack truck traveling at 300 miles an hour!

Vito Colucci is a renowned Private Investigator who has been involved with many high profile cases. Prior to this he was in law enforcement working as a Narcotic’s Detective and Undercover Organized Crime Investigator. Vito is also the author of the newly
released book “Inside the Private Eyes of a PI.”  He has a very balanced view on life. He is also no-ones fool. Mess with Vito you are just cruising for a bruising.

Armando Aldazabal rounded the panel out. He may be the youngest of the group, but, he may also be the most in-tune with modern society. He has watched both friends and family drift into the wasteland of drugs. His two books Cocaine Memoirs and What You Are turning Me Into are very stark explorations into the world of drugs. The official billing is fiction, yet when you explore these books you discover a very different genre, much of what he writes concerns people close to him. They are very personal books.

Can a group of such disparate people join together in the quest of discussing one issue?

The answer is a resounding YES!

Can the war on drugs be won? Maybe not. Can it be slowed down? Possibly.

Drugs have been a part of humanity for hundreds, actually, thousands of years. They were associated with religious ceremonies and entrenched in the culture of many peoples from around the globe. What we have witnessed over the past 100 plus years is an explosion in their recreational use. Today they are a major component on the ‘gray economy’. Violence, misery, and money, are the legacy they leave.

Jay Rankin brought up a controversial but indisputable point, they also fuel many legitimate jobs as a byproduct. From border guards, law enforcement to medical and emergency personnel.  Andrew DiDonato also pointed out that during his tenure with the Gambino family some proceeds from organized crime were funnelled back into legitimate business enterprises.

The Mexican border has degenerated into nothing short of a war zone. With hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, human life has become a worthless commodity.

We hear much out of Washington about ‘the war on drugs’ but this is an enemy, and I will quote Andrew DiDonato “with more heads than Medusa, you cut one off, and two more grow in its place.”

I do hope that if you missed the live program you will listen to the recording.

You can catch it here.

Vito Culucci also took took this program as an opportunity to introduce us to a new TV venture that Denny and he are working on, Crimewire. I have seen the pilot program and it certainly looks like a winner. As the saying goes, coming to a TV channel near you in the very near future! Actually I believe it is A&E. They are still building the web site and that sould be complete in a couple of weeks, you can get a preview at  www.crimewire.com.

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