Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'War on Drugs'

The Specialist, Cont’d

March 21st, 2013 · 2 Comments

Non-fiction storytelling is ridiculously time-consuming. My latest Wired story, which began life as a Microkhan post in January 2012, has been in the works for nearly a year. Granted, much of that time was wasted on tasks that didn’t pan out—I’m still waiting for a certain FOIA request to come through, for example, not to […]

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The Persistence of Myth

October 2nd, 2012 · No Comments

It has become an article of faith that the illicit drug business is every bit as sophisticated as its Fortune 500 counterparts. But a closer look at the industry’s transportation practices reveals some definite scientific shortcomings. As this Dutch study of drug-courier techniques demonstrates, trafficking networks continue to employ concealment practices that have long been […]

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Cancer Sticks in the Clink

January 4th, 2011 · 7 Comments

One of my favorite economics story of the millennium is the Wall Street Journal‘s 2008 A-head about the use of tinned mackerel as prison currency. It’s a fantastic testament to the primacy of money; even when removed from ordinary society, humans always find a way to regulate their commerce by creating tangible symbols of achievement. […]

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Theater of the Absurd

December 21st, 2010 · 3 Comments

The hooded lady above was not a bandit, but rather a New York City detective who worked the 21 Jump Street beat in the early 1970s. Kathleen Conlon earned her gold shield after surviving a scary incident in the Bronx: While working on an undercover narcotics unit, she was dragged into an alley, assaulted, and […]

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The Khat Economy

August 4th, 2010 · 3 Comments

Where would the Ethiopian economy be without the mild, broadly illegal stimulant known as khat? Apparently in quite dire straits: Coffee and khat exports earned Ethiopia close to 737 million dollars, which was 36.9pc of the total foreign exchange of two billion dollars that the country earned in the 2009/10 fiscal year with 36.5pc, 729.1 […]

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A Tooth for a Tooth

July 19th, 2010 · No Comments

(Cross-posted to Ta-Nehisi Coates) In certain precincts of Albania, where familial ties still mean everything, minor grudges have a way of spiraling seriously out of control. Take the the sad case of the Morevataj clan, which has been embroiled in a decade-long blood feud thanks to a drunken spat that ended in murder. According to […]

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Not-So-Deadly Nightshade

June 25th, 2010 · 11 Comments

One of the most controversial aspects of AA’s history is the role that psychedelics may have played in Bill Wilson’s creative process. As I discuss in the Wired piece, when Wilson experienced his spiritual epiphany in December 1934, he did so at a New York City drying-out facility. Part of his treatment there consisted of […]

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When Splits Get Greased

June 16th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Our adopted home state may have a progressive reputation, owing chiefly to its principal city’s joie de vivre, but it’s also been woefully behind the times on certain political matters. The notorious Rockefeller drug laws, for example, are just now being scrapped, though vestiges seem certain to remain. And over three decades later than most […]

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Playing the Drug War Odds

June 15th, 2010 · 7 Comments

The ship above, the gargantuan M/V Dole Chile, was recently found to be carrying $2 million worth of cocaine into Delaware’s main port. The drugs were stashed in the ventilation system of a container loaded with bananas, which the ship delivers weekly to the Port of Wilmington. All in all, a nice little catch for […]

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What Sand and Cocaine Have in Common

June 10th, 2010 · 3 Comments

Despite a government ban, Cambodian dredgers are once again raking the floor of the Koh Pao River in search of vast quantities of sand. The risk of running afoul of the authorities is apparently far outweighed by the riches to be gained from exporting sand to Singapore, which desperately needs the granular commodity to expand […]

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The Provider

May 24th, 2010 · 5 Comments

America’s long-running (and endlessly futile) War on Drugs is on the verge of claiming another casualty: the government of Jamaica. The Caribbean nation’s capital is partly in flames today, as residents of Tivoli Gardens battle police with fire bombs and heavy weaponry. The reason for the bloodshed is the government’s call for the surrender of […]

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A Chemical Solution to a Chemical Problem?

April 27th, 2010 · 5 Comments

We’re in the midst of whipping through Nick Reding’s Methland, which is a fantastic feat of reporting. It takes an intrepid writer, indeed, to spend such a vast amount of time in small-town Iowa, connecting with tweakers and those who loathe them. While Methland has earned major plaudits for its human touch, we’ve been more […]

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Reason Through the Haze

January 29th, 2010 · 5 Comments

Having finally closed the Wired story that sent us out to Kenya last fall, we’ve moved on to another big project for the magazine. This time the focus will be on addiction, which means you should expect plenty of drug-policy posts in the coming months. We’ll kick off the fiesta today by noting this paper […]

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The Colombian Necktie Half-Truth

November 17th, 2009 · No Comments

One of our favorite slept-on tracks of recent years is “Cali Hustle”, off the criminally hard-to-find Bay Bury-Ya compilation. In the song’s final verse, Mac Mall kicks off his bars with this clever line: Colombian neckties for small fries We’ve always taken it for granted that such a grisly fate has befallen many a criminal […]

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The Marching Powder

November 4th, 2009 · 12 Comments

When Latin percussion god Tito Puente died some years back, The New York Post speculated that a 40-year cocaine addiction had finally caught up with the man. This piece of gossip turned out to be of (to say the least) dubious veracity, but it stuck with us nonetheless. That’s because it got us thinking about […]

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When’s the Victory Parade?

July 1st, 2009 · No Comments

With the Obama administration in the midst of trying to dinosaur the phrase “War on Drugs,” we thought it would be worth looking at some of that 40-year-old conflict’s greatest defeats. And we found a true gem buried within this recent Department of Justice bulletin (PDF), a compilation of felony-case statistics from 2004. There are […]

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