Latest Drug War News

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!

Shop online at and a percentage of each purchase will be donated to our cause! More than 600 top stores are participating!

The Internet Our Website

Global and National Events Calendar

Bottoms Up: Guide to Grassroots Activism

Prisons and Poisons

November Coalition Projects

Get on the Soapbox! with Soap for Change

November Coalition: We Have Issues!

November Coalition Local Scenes

November Coalition Multimedia Archive

The Razor Wire
Bring Back Federal Parole!
November Coalition: Our House

Stories from Behind The WALL

November Coalition: Nora's Blog

April 7, 2008 -- Michigan Daily (MI)

TV Shows Detroit's War On Drugs

"DEA" Is Like "Cops," But 35 Miles East Of Ann Arbor.

By John Daavettila, Daily Arts Writer

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Spike TV has strayed from its path of visual beauties and dudes beating the crap out of each other with its new reality show, which focuses on the Detroit division of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Cameras follow the officers through stings and busts, giving the public -- and possibly other drug dealers -- inside information on the drug enforcement system.

Sadly, though, there are no drunken car chases involving hillbillies and police officers, making the show more than a little boring. Despite the tense techno music and grainy film effects,

"DEA" is nothing more than one hour of waiting in cars, chattering on walkie-talkies and more scenes of officers arming themselves than the "Iliad."

Drug busts are enjoyable enough to watch, but here they're too few and far between.

It's obvious "DEA" can't fill an entire hour solely with ransacking drug-dealers, and even the presence of TV cameras can't entice the Detroit division to up its game a little bit.

The officers of "DEA" are your usual gang of cops: the rookie, the street-smart cop and, of course, the one named "Woody." But the show reveals an unexpected side of the officers as they give interviews about their families and the fear they battle with every new raid. They aren't Chief Wiggums, but the officers of the DEA end up being pretty likeable.

It's surprising how frank and open the officers are about their job, especially when it comes to their strategy of handling criminals.

The cops use a method called "The Flip," which entails persuading the newly-arrested drug dealer to rat out their supplier in return for a reduced or terminated sentence.

The central question of the series seems to be, "Are we winning the war on drugs?"

The DEA's answer is a pronounced "yes," but the show contradicts itself. How can we be winning if we constantly let the criminal go for revealing his supplier?

If anything, "DEA" exposes the problems within the drug enforcement system.

"DEA" may show the excitement of drug raids, but it also shows the long periods of waiting and scheming by the officers.

The likeability of the cops and the undercover actions of the Drug Enforcement Administration don't add up to much when placed next to a half hour of sitting in a van listening to a wired agent talking to a dealer.

Even when the actual action takes place, it ends up being nothing more than three minutes of swearing, blurred faces and innumerable threats. Sitting through the majority of the show isn't worth it.

It's not easy to find the positives of "DEA" -- unless you're a dealer looking for an inside scoop. TV has always been a place for viewers to escape their ho-hum matters while living vicariously through others and possibly getting a laugh along the way.

But "DEA" doesn't do any of those things, and with its depressing premise and lackluster entertainment value, only a small demographic would find this enjoyable.

For the latest drug war news, visit our friends and allies below

We are careful not to duplicate the efforts of other organizations, and as a grassroots coalition of prisoners and social reformers, our resources (time and money) are limited. The vast expertise and scope of the various drug reform organizations will enable you to stay informed on the ever-changing, many-faceted aspects of the movement. Our colleagues in reform also give the latest drug war news. Please check their websites often.

The Drug Policy Alliance
Drug Reform Coordination Network
Drug Sense and The Media Awareness Project

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact