“This war is perverting our most elementary principles and values.
Francisco Chao de la Torre has fought the war on drugs for fifteen years. He has worked in several police stations and police departments, including the Núcleo de Combate a Corrupção e Lavagem de Dinheiro (NuCC/LD), a unit charged with fighting corruption and money laundering crimes; Delegacia de Repressão a Entorpecentes (DRE), the anti-drug department, and Coordenadoria de Recursos Especiais (CORE), a especial unit of the Rio de Janeiro state civil police who are trained to perform high-risk operations, similar to a SWAT team, often carrying out raids to seize drugs and arrest drug dealers and traffickers. He led the team that arrested one of the most notorious drug dealers in Rio de Janeiro, receiving a promotion for bravery in December 2002. He currently serves as detective inspector in the Rio de Janeiro civil police unit in charge of fighting environmental crimes.
Francisco says he used to believe in the war on drugs. “I believed so much that I risked my life and health,” he says, “just like those policemen with whom I work. Many of them still believe today and continue competing in a race to see who can kill more, for which the finish line sadly never appears.” But he stopped believing as he observed that for every “public enemy number 1” arrested or killed by the police force, a replacement “public enemy number 1” would appear almost immediately. “Despite the arrests and enormous seizures -- the fruits of brilliant, self-sacrificing and courageous work done by the poorly paid police agents -- the drug trade, just like the mythical Greek Hydra, regenerates another two heads, even more venomous and dangerous than the original, for every one beheaded.”
His number-one reason for supporting the legalization of drugs is that the price paid by police is too high, Francisco explains. “This war, paid by police officers’ labor, diverting their limited resources to drug investigations and operations and putting their lives at risk, is perverting our most elementary principles and values.” He is quick to point out that being in favor of legalizing drugs is not the same thing as being in favor of drugs, explaining that he is and always will be in against drugs.
Francisco holds a BA in law from the National School of Law, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro as well as specializations in Penal law and Procedural law and Public Security and the Criminal Justice System. He is a board member of the Union of Police Officers of the state of Rio de Janeiro.