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Juan Olivas, Rio Grande boatman of the next plateau, the soldiers could see in all directions. Banuelos told Dewbre: “We have a visual.” Dewbre replied: “You’re to follow the R.O.E.” Banuelos did not acknowledged Dewbre’s order. Nearly four minutes had passed since the incorrect order to “fire back” was issued. McDaniel and the other officers discussed whether or not Banuelos had heard Dewbre. But they did not retransmit the instruction. WORSE THAN DRUGS The war that Esequiel Hernandez wandered into is not confined to the U.S.Mexican border. The Pentagon spends about $1 billion a year fighting drugs. JTF-6 has conducted missions in thirty states and the Caribbean territories. An estimated 4,000 National Guard troops are involved in 1,300 counter-drug operations nationwide. And 89 percent of police departments now have paramilitary “SWAT” teams, which primarily serve drug warrants. In spite of all this, the drugs are winning. The availability and potency of hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine have skyrocketed over the past decade. At the same time, street prices have fallen. The United Nations estimates the annual revenue generated by the illegal drug industry at $400 billion. That’s 8 percent of the total international trade, or about the same size as the global automobile industry. The war has not proved either as easy, simple, or politically safe as its proponents had hoped. Days after he waved the plastic bag of crack on TV, Bush was embarrassed by revelations that it was not “seized” in Lafayette Park but in fact had been purchased for $2,400 by an undercover Drug Enforcement agent who had lured a drug dealer there. The seller was baffled by the agent’s request. On a D.E.A. tape of the phone call, the eighteen-year-old dealer asked, “Where the fuck is the White House?” “We can’t even keep drugs out of prison,” says Zeese of Common Sense for Drug Policy. “To think we could keep them out at the borders is absurd.” Common Sense for Drug Policy argues that drug abuse is a social problem that requires a combination of social not military solutions. The evidence bears that out. Where drug use has fallen, experts attribute the difference to lifestyle changes, not law enforcement. Reagan’s Secretary of State George Shultz, right-wing economist Milton Friedman, and broadcaster Walter Cronkite all make the same case. They are among the hundreds of signers of a June 1998 letter urging the United Nations to abandon the War on Drugs. The signatories hailed from forty nations, and included federal judges and Nobel Laureates from across the political spectrum. Published in The New York Times and elsewhere, the letter was blunt: “We believe that the global war on drugs is now causing more harm than drug abuse itself.” “This industry has empowered organized criminals, corrupted governments at all levels, eroded internal security, stimulated violence, and distorted both economic markets and moral values,” the letter said. “These are the consequences not of drug use per se, but of decades of failed and futile drug war policies.” DEATH IN THE DESERT Border Patrol agent Johnny Urias was picking up undocumented immigrants fifteen miles away when he heard the 6:07 p.m. radio call: “They’re taking fire from a man with a rifle at position three…. Please assist position three.” Urias and partner Rodolfo Martinez sped back to the Presidio station. They dropped off their suspects. They picked up M-16 rifles and protective vests. Two other agents arrived, and did the same. Within minutes, the four agents were speeding toward Redford, lights and sirens blaring. Urias radioed Banuelos, who told him that Hernandez was at the old fort. “He’s armed with a rifle, a .22,” the corporal said. Banuelos and his team were atop a plateau about two football fields away from Hernandez. They knew the Border Patrol was only minutes away. But Banuelos wanted to be closer. He handed the radio to Torrez, then waved for Wieler and Blood to follow him into the next ravine. From that moment on, Banuelos was out of radio contact with both McDaniel and the Border Patrol. The next arroyo was steeper than the last. Wieler stumbled several times. He scraped his hands on the sharp, loose gravel. He didn’t understand what Banuelos was doing. He said later that he “would have stayed and let the Border Patrol handle the situation.” Instead, he followed orders. Once atop the next plateau, the Marines moved toward the abandoned fort. Soon they were within 130 yards of Hernandez. They scurried forward one by one, in short rushes. They crouched low among the waist-high greasewood bushes. Banuelos watched Hernandez through the scope on his M-16 as his men moved. At 6:27 p.m., Banuelos believed he saw the boy raise his old .22 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15 SEPTEMBER 25, 1998