Retired Customs and Border Protection Aviation/Marine Group Supervisor
Terry L. Nelson
Customs and Border Protection Aviation/Marine Group Supervisor, Dept. of Homeland Security (Ret.)
"After drugs are legalized, we can then begin to educate our population how to best deal with drug problems."
Terry Nelson's law-enforcement career spanned three decades. It included service in the US Border Patrol, the US Customs Service, and the Department of Homeland Security, taking him beyond the US borders into Mexico, Central America, and South America. In various capacities, he acquired first-hand knowledge of the war on drugs through his direct involvement with counter-narcotics missions. He labored with distinction, even receiving special Congressional recognition for his work.
"But," he says, "as the 'War on Drugs' went on and on, I never saw any visible progress - and only limited discussion about the lack of progress. Something was wrong with this picture." Terry came to understand drug prohibition was doing more harm than good, and that the United States needed a major policy change. He had thought a lot about decriminalization and legalization for years. But the obvious lack of progress toward winning the war and the continued congratulatory backslapping unrelated to even incremental successes made him conclude that enough was enough. He was ready to speak out. Terry has decided the only solution is a policy of legalized regulation of all drugs. That decision led to his joining LEAP - the first group he has ever joined. "We must remove the criminal element from the drug trade, because it is destroying our society and crippling governments to the south of us. We must change the rules to win the real war."
Terry retired in 2005 as a GS-14 air/marine group supervisor. He is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, having served as a communications specialist in Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines. He served nine years in the U.S. Border Patrol including a stint as instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, three years in marine operations in the Florida Keys, one year as a customs inspector at DFW Airport, seven years as an air interdiction officer/criminal investigator, two years as staff officer to the director of foreign operations, and five years on the staff for the Field Director, Surveillance Support Branch East. During this period the SSBE team participated in the seizure of over 230,000 pounds of cocaine and received the United States Interdiction Committee award for interdictions.
"But to what avail?" Terry asks. "Today drugs are cheaper, more potent, and far easier for our children to get than at the beginning of the war. We need a policy of legalized regulation."