How Narco States Work


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Welcome to Stuff You Should Know from www.HowStuffWorks.com.

Josh Clark

Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark, and with me as always is Charles W. "Zonkers" Bryant!

Chuck Bryant

Zonkers?

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

I just sit here wondering what you're going to call me.

Josh Clark

How's it going?

Chuck Bryant

Great, sir. You?

Josh Clark

Pretty good.

Chuck Bryant

You look good. You're as good as you were ten minutes ago when we recorded that other podcast.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Chuck, have you ever been to Mexico?

Chuck Bryant

I have been to Mexico.

Josh Clark

Have you ever been to TJ?

Chuck Bryant

I've been to TJ.

Josh Clark

Have you been to Juarez?

Chuck Bryant

No, just TJ and the Baja area.

Josh Clark

Had you gone a little further east along the broader to Juarez, you would have been in a narco state.

Chuck Bryant

Yes. You know what? I'm ashamed to say that I did not know what a narco state was. I'd heard of it, but I didn't really know what it was.

Josh Clark

I can't remember if I pitched this one, but it's a good one.

Chuck Bryant

Well done, sir.

Josh Clark

Thank you very much. Thank you.

Chuck Bryant

Huzzah.

Josh Clark

Chuck and I are talking about narco states, as you probably were tipped off by the title of this podcast. For those of you who don't know what a narco state is, it is -

Chuck Bryant

Josh, I'm just going to give my own definition it is a country where they sort of allow drug trafficking, and in some cases even participate in the drug trafficking.

Josh Clark

It's very rarely an entire country. Most of the time it's like a region, a very small area, a city, although there are cases where there have been narco states, like fully functioning countries, that are run by drugs. Their gross domestic product is almost fully funded by drugs. The government's in on it. The military's in on it. Right now, as far as I can tell, there's only one functioning narco state in the world.

Chuck Bryant

Afghanistan?

Josh Clark

No. It's close though. Guinea Bissau!

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, sure. In Africa!

Josh Clark

West Africa. I can't wait to tell that story.

Chuck Bryant

It's a good one.

Josh Clark

Yeah. So a narco state, as Chuck said, is basically any area where the government is either directly involved or turning a blind eye to drug trafficking.

Chuck Bryant

Yes. Central Mexico, Central America, South America always known as being rife with this kind of thing because chances are, if you're doing drugs in the U.S., chances are it did not come from inside the United States.

Josh Clark

No, unless it was meth or pot.

Chuck Bryant

And even then, chances are it probably didn't - although there is a lot of domestic meth labs and pot farms and stuff like that.

Josh Clark

But chances are it came through Mexico, if not from Mexico. Mexico didn't used to be nearly as violent. You know Juarez, which we were talking about had, I think, 300 murders in 2007. Then all of a sudden, a drug war started that's still going on now. In 2008, they had 1,500 murders.

Chuck Bryant

That's a heck of a stat.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Detroit had less than 300 murders in 2007.

Chuck Bryant

So Detroit is safer than someplace?

Josh Clark

It's safer than Juarez, believe it or not.

Chuck Bryant

Thank God for that.

Josh Clark

Yeah. I didn't get the stats on Tempe, though, so I can't say.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

One of the reasons why, and we'll see American intervention one way or another, usually has an impact on the formation of a narco state, but one of the reasons why Juarez and some of the other border towns around Mexico have turned into narco states is because the Coast Guard and the DEA effectively shut down the Caribbean in the 90s. That was the main route from South America to the U.S. for coke. Americans love coke.

Chuck Bryant

A lot of the world does. One thing I learned from reading this article and just by living as a human in the world is that drugs will find a way to get into the country.

Josh Clark

They definitely will. For example, when the Caribbean was shut down, they started moving it through Central American and up through Mexico.

Chuck Bryant

They just came another route.

Josh Clark

One way or another. The reason why is, like I said, Americans love cocaine. We consume 40 percent of the global supply of it every year.

Chuck Bryant

Europe does a lot of cocaine too.

Josh Clark

Europe loves the junk too.

Chuck Bryant

Europe is the heroin.

Josh Clark

They have 11 percent of the global population in Europe, but they have one-third of the world's heroin addicts. Big deal!

Chuck Bryant

It's weird how it's localized like that.

Josh Clark

It is, but think about it. Think about how much closer Europe is to the heroin-producing countries of South Asia. Then think about how close we are to the cocaine-producing countries of South America.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. Which affects the price, of course?

Josh Clark

It definitely does. Do you want to give them that stat?

Chuck Bryant

A kilogram of uncut cocaine, as you hear on the cop shows, goes for $22,000.00. That same kilo fetches about $120,000.00 in Moscow. That's a big markup.

Josh Clark

That's a huge markup.

Chuck Bryant

Is that street value, as they call it?

Josh Clark

I'm sure those are way off. I'm sure you could get a kilo for a lot less or pay a lot more, or whatever. One of the things the feds like to do is pump up the numbers so that they can get more funding.

Chuck Bryant

Makes sense.

Josh Clark

But you can definitely get a kilo of cocaine in American a lot cheaper than you can -

Chuck Bryant

In Russia.

Josh Clark

In Russia. Yeah. All of those kilos add up pretty quickly, and the drug trade, the global drug trade, makes an estimated $300,000,000,000.00 a year.

Chuck Bryant

That's nuts.

Josh Clark

That is a lot of cash. You could bail out two AIGs for that. We talked about the narco state being an area where government's either looking the other way or selling drugs directly.

Chuck Bryant

Or helping them out maybe, or just aiding them.

Josh Clark

There's a big problem with this.

Chuck Bryant

I would say so.

Josh Clark

I mean, you just think about it. "Oh, the government's not supposed to do that." You have to stop and think why.

Chuck Bryant

Why the government's not supposed to do that?

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

Well, because they're supposed to protect their citizens.

Josh Clark

Yeah. There's something Thomas Hobbes called the social contract. Basically, it said in exchange for certain freedoms, like we can't just do anything we want to, that we give to the government, we're going to give that power to the government. One of those things is the state monopoly on violence.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Where the government can put you in jail. The government can kill you, execute you, but the government's supposed to be the only one that does that. So if somebody, you know, shoots your kid, you don't go shoot them in the head. You get the government to go after this guy to incarcerate or kill him.

Chuck Bryant

In a civilized world, the social contract is kind of how we've developed, as nations of the world, and it works pretty well, for the most part.

Josh Clark

That's a whole other podcast right there.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. But in narco states, it's a little different because that's a little bit of a sham. They kind of have that contract as long as it doesn't interfere with the drug trade.

Josh Clark

Right. The government's given its power to drug traffickers at the expense of the people they're supposed to be protecting and representing. That's No. 1.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

How does this happen?

Chuck Bryant

One reason why that might happen - there's a bunch of different ways that could happen. One reason is if, let's say you're in Columbia, and all of a sudden - you've heard the term "Columbian necktie"?

Josh Clark

I have.

Chuck Bryant

All of a sudden, your judges, and your council people, and your politicians are getting knifed and executed in back alleys by the dozens. All of a sudden, the government might say, "Wait a minute. We might want to not go after these drug traffickers."

Josh Clark

Right. because if the state doesn't have a monopoly on violence any longer, if paramilitary groups affiliated with drug traffickers do, then yeah. Apparently, in Columbia, they came at the justice building with tanks. This wasn't the military. This was a rebel faction. I think it was FARC that did it.

Chuck Bryant

Right, Josh, FARC. That stands for Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia translated into English.

Josh Clark

Right, and they're actually a communist guerilla group.

Chuck Bryant

Dude, they're an army.

Josh Clark

They are. They actually got into drug trafficking in the 80s, I think.

Chuck Bryant

Indeed.

Josh Clark

Okay, so you have a huge armed guerilla army attacking your justice department in the country's capital. That's a good way to get a narco state started, right?

Chuck Bryant

Right. Sometimes you're bribed into it.

Josh Clark

That's another one, too.

Chuck Bryant

All of a sudden, if your coffers are being filled, a lot of politicians are willing to look the other way.

Josh Clark

Um hm. Also, if your intelligence services become compromised by drug traffickers, you're in big trouble.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. If those are corrupted, you're finished.

Josh Clark

Yeah, because the intelligence services are usuallytoward the top of the military hierarchy. If they're corrupted, they can turn the entire military against the government, which there is a division. After that happens, again, you're in big trouble, and a narco state can form.

Chuck Bryant

Plus, they know a lot about smuggling, the intelligence community. If they're all of a sudden on your side, then all of a sudden, you know a lot about smuggling.

Josh Clark

Right. You have to know how to get people, or arms, or something in and out of countries without being detected, so you know where all the airfields are. You have access to planes, and boats, and stuff. You start throwing kilos and coke in there, and all of a sudden you're a drug smuggler.

Chuck Bryant

Boom. Done.

Josh Clark

It's kind of tough for us to think about this in the United States because we've had a pretty stable government for the last couple hundred years. in countries where there's been high government turnover and lots of internal conflict, let's say infrastructure, like roads, bridges, water, electricity - these things have been cut throughout civil wars - and the government's too poor to fix them, all of a sudden, the government is delegitimized.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

Another rebel faction can step in and say, "Hey, we're taking over. By the way, we love drug trafficking."

Chuck Bryant

I've got a couple of stats for you.

Josh Clark

Let's hear them.

Chuck Bryant

Along those lines. Guatemala endured a 36-year long civil war. El Salvador in a 12-year long civil war! Nicaragua had one that lasted 19 years. What this means is it's a very unstable region easily swayed by whoever has the power, drug traffickers or the government. It also means there's a lot of guns.

Josh Clark

And a lot of former veterans that are out of work, but know how to use those guns, and can serve as a guerilla army.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. A lot of times, these are poor countries too. In fact, I would say almost every time it's a poor country. You don't have to be a generous to figure out. You've got guns. You've got these former military guys. You've got really poor people, and you've got loads of drugs that worth a lot money. It's not really too hard to devolve into a narco state.

Josh Clark

No, it's not. Of course, the root of all narco states is money. Either, like Chuck said bribes, that kind of thing, or the GDP. Afghanistan, apparently, their GDP is $6 billion annually. The United States, I think, has $14 trillion GDP.

Chuck Bryant

Something like that.

Josh Clark

It's kind of like, "Holy cow. How do you live like that?" They've been doing pretty good, but half of that has been through heroin.

Chuck Bryant

Right. Poppies!

Josh Clark

So Karzai, Hamid Karzai, who was "elected" president of Afghanistan "twice."

Chuck Bryant

He was just re-elected, right?

Josh Clark

Uh huh. "Re-elected." He is well-known for turning a blind eye while saying, "We need to get rid of these poppies." The U.S. is like, "Okay. Well, let us spray." He's like, "No, we have to do it all by hand." Apparently, the American forces over there - the DEAs over there as well - but the American commanders of the armed forces in Afghanistan don't let the DEA in at all, and they're frustrated pulling their hair out because they're not getting any support whatsoever. It's kind of one of those things. Everybody knows that Afghanistan produces poppies.As a matter of fact, in 2006, they produced the highest poppy harvest in recorded human history.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, just a coupleof years ago.

Josh Clark

It was double what it had been the year before.

Chuck Bryant

So clearly, they're not pulling enough by hand.

Josh Clark

No, because Karzai won't let them spray overhead.

Chuck Bryant

I should explain. That's a common method to - like you crop dust fields to put chemicals on them. You do the same thing if you want to eradicate and kill them.

Josh Clark

Right, and it is very effective. It's worked in Columbia. Columbia finally has a president - I shouldn't say "finally" - but Columbia has a president who is very sympathetic and friendly to the U.S. He lets the DEA in there, and they have eradicated a lot of cocoa fields using that method. It does work, but Karzai's like, "No."Apparently, there's been more and more reports of the people who are involved in the central government are all drug lords, or most of them are drug lords too. So Afghanistan is teetering right on the edge of being a narco state, if it's not already.So contributing to half your GDP, that's another reason for a narco state to develop!

Chuck Bryant

Since we're on money, another thing money brings is bribes and corruption, like we were talking about. I have to mention this because you uncovered this great fact from Guatemala. The federal judge - that's just hard to believe - the federal judge was accused of accepting thousands of dollars in bribes to dismiss a drug trafficking case. He dismissed the case. At the end of this trial, the judge was seen driving the defendant from court. So it goes pretty deep.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Guatemala is a de fact narco state right now.

Chuck Bryant

Big time.

Josh Clark

In Central America itself, like we said, since the Caribbean's been shut down, Central America started to play a key role as a supply line between South American and North America. Actually, because of all those conflicts you mentioned earlier, there's now a ration of five to one illegal unregistered guns to guns held by legitimate police and armed forces.

Chuck Bryant

Not good.

Josh Clark

Let's keep an eye on Central America.

Chuck Bryant

That means trouble is coming.

Josh Clark

Central America, again, we talked about how it's been destabilized by conflict. There's tons of guns. There's terrible infrastructure. There's plenty of drugs, and narco states.

Chuck Bryant

Do you know what else, dude?

Josh Clark

What?

Chuck Bryant

In Guatemala, corrupt government officials there have drafted legislation that prevents extradition.

Josh Clark

Yep.

Chuck Bryant

As we know, extradition is a really valuable tool for us when we're trying to prosecute these drug lords.

Josh Clark

Right.

Chuck Bryant

They said, "You can't do it." that kind of says right there, "Let us make our money, U.S. Stay out of our hair."

Josh Clark

Yep. Once you have your congress and the judiciary in your pocket, it's even more valuable than the military, although the military is a good first step.

Chuck Bryant

That's true.

Josh Clark

Chuck, you might notice that Central and South American keep popping up. One of the reasons why is because Central America specifically was a Cold War battleground where the U.S. and U.S.S.R. fought one another in proxy wars. Throughout the Cold War, basically both countries just completely used nations in Central and South America to fight one another, try to bleed one another out.

Chuck Bryant

You know what that means?

Josh Clark

What?

Chuck Bryant

That means that these people that live there are being trained by either Russian or American military. They're being supplied with guns, and ammunition, and all the things you need. Once you stop and say, "Cold Wars over," all those guns and trained dudes are still there. They're like, "Whoa. What should we do with all this stuff? Let's run drugs."

Josh Clark

"Not only that, we are not getting funding from the Soviets or the Americans anymore." The war didn't end for them. The conflict didn't end for them. The power struggle didn't end for them just because the Americans and Soviets all of a sudden lost interest. It's still going on, and they are funding it through drugs, right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

Also, the U.S. backed rightwing paramilitary groups or rightwing dictatorships, and the Soviets, of course, backed leftwing groups like FARC. FARC has a reputation for being extremely brutal. They use child soldiers. They engage in kidnappings, bombings.

Chuck Bryant

Kill their own people.

Josh Clark

Sure. At one point, they offered $1,000.00 to anybody who killed a government official, so they were outsourcing their terrorism. They're communists, so they were supported by the Soviets, so of course, they're horrible. The U.S. supported equally brutal regimes and groups, like la cofrida. Do you know about them? They're Guatemala.

Chuck Bryant

Yes. They were very much supported by the U.S. and they helped kill as many as 200,000 of their own people during that civil war. Josh, la cofrida wasn't the only one. Remember the 1980s when President Reagan launched the war on drugs? Do you know what was going on at the same time?

Josh Clark

What?

Chuck Bryant

We were providing funding and weapons for the same anti-communist paramilitary groups that were producing and distributing this cocaine. Right at the same time! Yet we were fighting a war on drugs. Doesn't add up, does it?

Josh Clark

Not only that, do you remember Manuel Norimega, and we went down to Panama in 1989?

Chuck Bryant

Uh huh.

Josh Clark

Delta Force was there. Special Forces was there. We captured him, and then put him in prison in Miami for a couple decades. He was a CIA asset for eight years.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, he was operating a narco state under our supervision, you could say.

Josh Clark

Yep. Then once news leaked out to the general public that he was a drug dealer, we went down and removed him from power.

Chuck Bryant

Right, and I believe he's still in prison, right?

Josh Clark

No, he just got out.

Chuck Bryant

Oh really?

Josh Clark

Like a year ago or something like that.

Chuck Bryant

Good for him.

Josh Clark

Again, this is the same thing that's going on right now in Afghanistan. We're well aware that Karzai is totally cool with heroin production in that nation, which, by the way, is far and away the largest producer of opium poppies in the world. So it's still going on.

Chuck Bryant

Though we donated a lot - that's not the right word - but we gave them close to $800 million for counter narcotics operations and measures.

Josh Clark

I'm sure every penny went to that too. So it's still going on, but the reason why it's really disturbing that this is still going on is because we haven't learned a very clear lesson from this. That's when we support groups that engage in drug trafficking, it invariably comes back to bite us in the ass.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

I mentioned la cofrida in Guatemala. The two guys who are running that show, running Guatemala as a narco state, were both trained by the United States at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, I think.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. Right here in Georgia.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

Is where they train foreign people.

Josh Clark

Specifically Latin Americans. It was set up specifically to train them.

Chuck Bryant

Pretty controversial.

Josh Clark

Yeah, because they train them in assassination, in assembling guerilla armies, and destabilizing central governments, that kind of stuff. So we're training these guys to go fight the Soviets, but then again, after the Cold War is over, these guys are still around.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

The Mexican Gulf cartel, which has become hugely violent and kind of big, is run by a couple of guys who were also trained at the School of the Americas. Basically, the world's biggest drug dealers were trained by the United States in the art of smuggling and all sorts of other stuff. They were trained in their craft.

Chuck Bryant

I think the Russians used Escobar, right?

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

To help guard their poppy fields. Is that right, or the cocoa?

Josh Clark

Yeah. FARC started out guarding Escobar's cocoa fields in Columbia for the Medellin cartel, right?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

Then apparently, they're like, "Wow. This guy's making a bunch of money. We're going to go out on our own," and they became rivals. Then again, Delta Force goes down there, and oversees the assassination of Escobar.I don't mean to sound paranoid. I really researched this article, and all this is fact. Everything that isn't fact, I've made verbal air quotes with. This is documented stuff. It's been printed in legitimate publications.

Chuck Bryant

It's all about the greenbacks. There's so much money at stake.

Josh Clark

Let's talk about Africa. That's the place to be these days if you're into narco states.

Chuck Bryant

Exactly. Africa has really risen since the 80s. That was the first sign of a drug presence, in Africa and Zambia, although it was marijuana in Zambia at the time. That's how it started out at least.

Josh Clark

Right.

Chuck Bryant

The gateway drug even when you're talking narco states.

Josh Clark

Sure, yeah.

Chuck Bryant

It's funny.

Josh Clark

So Zambia is exposed as a narco state. Apparently, the government wasn't aware of this one, but a group of prominent citizens were operating a sub narco state under the noses of the functioning government.

Chuck Bryant

And again, very poor people, which is key.

Josh Clark

Yeah. If people don't have any money and all of a sudden people give them gobs of money, they'll say, "Okay."

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. "You want to be a drug mule? We'll give you this much money." " No problem."

Josh Clark

So Zambia was the first to start it in Africa. Then the 90s, the reason why it picked up speed in the 90s was because it was the end of colonialism. It just ended within the last decade or so. This European influence and influx of money, and exploitation, left a vacuum economically, financially, and oftentimes with central governments there's a vacuum and there's no way to make any money or anything, so narco states are setting up.

Chuck Bryant

Senegal was another one.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

In the 90s, I believe. Heroin and cocaine were on the rise. Here's a state that you dug up that was pretty good. In 2008, The Telegraph newspaper in England reported that the cost of a bribe to look the other way at the airport when you're flying in at Dakar with drugs, nine grand per kilo of cocaine.

Josh Clark

Right. Chuck just mentioned a funny little word, and it was cocaine. You don't associate Africa with cocaine normally.

Chuck Bryant

That's true.

Josh Clark

You do now though.

Chuck Bryant

Big time.

Josh Clark

One of the reasons why it's popped up in African is because West Africa is a perfect stop for cocaine en route to Europe. Remember, we talked about Europe having a huge problem with heroin. One of the reason they didn't' have a big problem with cocaine is because the Columbians and other South Americans hadn't figured out how to get it to them. Now all of a sudden, West Africa is devolving into narco states because they finally figured out, "We need a port, and West Africa is it."

Chuck Bryant

Right. Specifically, Guinea Bissau!

Josh Clark

This is, like we said earlier, the one true functioning narco state right now.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. $150 million worth of cocaine passes through the borders of Guinea Bissau each month. That was in 2007.

Josh Clark

What is $150 million times two to them?

Chuck Bryant

Their gross domestic product. It's half their gross domestic product.

Josh Clark

So the entire nation, all of the goods and services produced in Guinea Bissau, above the boards, equals $300 million a year.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

They have half of that coming through their country in cocaine a month.

Chuck Bryant

Tell the story of how this started there.

Josh Clark

This is so interesting.

Chuck Bryant

It is.

Josh Clark

What year was it, 2005?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

There were a group of Guinea Bissauan fishermen who were out in their boats. There was a big old package floating, or maybe several smaller packages, just floating there. They hauled them in with their nets and took them back to land. They opened them up, and there was this white powder inside that they had never seen before. They didn't know what to do with it, so they actually used it as fertilizer on their crops, which killed their crops very quickly.

Chuck Bryant

Did they? I didn't know that.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Finally, one day when they were still puzzling over this stuff, God knows what else they did with it, a South American man shows up and says -

Chuck Bryant

"I believe you have something that belongs to us."

Josh Clark

Yeah. "That's cocaine. That's our cocaine. We'll give you $1 million for it." which is one 300th of the higher gross domestic product of Guinea Bissau. So they say, "Okay. By the way, can we do this again?" That was the birth of the Guinea Bissauan narco state.

Chuck Bryant

It completely happened by accident.

Josh Clark

It did. Can you imagine that? Guinea Bissau is a perfect narco state. The cops literally, in the capital Bissau - it's the capital city of the country - the cops have five cop cars, and they almost never have gasoline to fuel them.

Chuck Bryant

And they have $150 million worth of cocaine going through the borders with five cop cars.

Josh Clark

Right. It was a former Portuguese colony. The Portuguese left, and Guinea Bissau, there's not an airplane associated with that country, but they have air fields out on barrier islands that are totally unused, unpatrolled. What's more, the military is completely in the pocket of the - I think they're mostly Columbians that took the place over - built stucco mansions. They have direct TV antennas on the roofs. In this incredibly poverty-stricken country, they stick out like sore thumbs. They don't care. One of the reason why is, like I said, the military is on their side.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

How do we know that, Chuck?

Chuck Bryant

In September of 2006, cops there arrested two Columbian guys in a house with 700 kilos of cocaine. The soldiers came. They showed up at the police station, surrounded it, and said, "Give me the cocaine and the men." They did so. They got in their cars, loaded up their coke, and drove away.

Josh Clark

The cops watched the military load up the coke and just leave with the guys.

Chuck Bryant

"Thank you for your time."

Josh Clark

Yeah. That was it. That was the beginning of the end. The military engaged in an all-out war with the government, and ended up assassinating the president after laying siege to his mansion for several hours.

Chuck Bryant

Just this year, right? In March?

Josh Clark

Uh huh. He was assassinated in March. So there's no central government in Guinea Bissau. The Columbians are there selling drugs. Actually, they're not selling it in Guinea Bissau as far as I know. They're using Guinea Bissauans as mules. Even more perfect, because it was a Portuguese colony, they don't have to have visas to get into Europe. It's like Pablo Escobar went, "God, I need you to do me a favor. I got some friends back there on Earth, and they need a place in West Africa. Can you give us a perfect narco state?" and God's like, "Guinea Bissau."

Chuck Bryant

Sure. I think you said the average annual income there is like $500.00 a year.

Josh Clark

For a civil servant's job.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah. So it's clear that if you start waving just small amounts of money under their nose, they're going to be at your beck and call.

Josh Clark

So Guinea Bissau, one to watch. It's just insane right there.

Chuck Bryant

I'm sure it's not a safe place to be.

Josh Clark

Nope. So that's narco states. I have a headache just from talking about it. How about you, Chuck?

Chuck Bryant

I do.

Josh Clark

Kind of dense, isn't it?

Chuck Bryant

It is. It was a really good article, though.

Josh Clark

Thanks, man. If you want to read the article I wrote and poured my blood, sweat, and tears into, you can type "narco states" into the handy search bar at www.HowStuffWorks.com. That means it's time for listener mail.

Chuck Bryant

You know what's funny? This morning, Emily asked me, while we were getting ready for our day, what we were going to podcast on. I said narco states. She said, "What's a narco state?" I went, "I don't know." Here eight hours later, my mind is mush.

Josh Clark

You know everything there is to know about narco states.

Chuck Bryant

Or at least enough to talk about it for 25 minutes.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Has it only been 25 minutes?

Chuck Bryant

Jeri says 35. Josh, I'm going to call this "DNA Database London Email.""Hello Josh and Chuck. Love your show. Thought you may be interested in a little story in regards to the podcast about crime databases. I am from Yakima, Washington, but have lived in the U.K. for the last decade. I am a train driver/engineer." Lisa is 30. She's an American train engineer living in England.

Josh Clark

Toot, toot.

Chuck Bryant

Isn't that interesting? "A friend of mine who is also a conductor had a recent experience with the British transport police in regards to this. He was spat on by a member of the public who was abusive while carrying out ticket duties, so the police were called."On the day and for weeks after, my friend was pretty much harassed by the police because they wanted a DNA sample for him for 'exclusion purposes.' He steadfastly declined each request to the point where he put it in writing to the police that he would get a solicitor involved to ensure he never had to submit a sample."The outcome is basically that the offender went unpunished because the police won't follow it up anymore because the guy who was attacked and spit upon won't surrender his DNA for exclusion purposes. Just thought you may want to know. Even here in England, even victims of crimes are being coerced into giving samples. Keep up the great work. XXX. From Lisa!"

Josh Clark

Wow.

Chuck Bryant

Not an XO, buddy. Triple X! That's from Lisa in Stoke Hammond, Buckinghamshire. I guess that's a place.

Josh Clark

You know, I've been spit on before, and spit back.

Chuck Bryant

Did you get spit on?

Josh Clark

Um hm.

Chuck Bryant

By whom?

Josh Clark

Cab driver in Nice.

Chuck Bryant

Really?

Josh Clark

He was such a jerk. He tried to charge me $20.00 for an eight-block cab ride. I was like, "I'm not giving you that much." He's like, "Yes, you will. Ptooey!" I just blinked, and like put my hand on my face. Sure enough, there was spit. I just spit right back in his face.

Chuck Bryant

This was in France?

Josh Clark

I thought he was going to explode.

Chuck Bryant

Not even in a narco state.

Josh Clark

It was in Nice.

Chuck Bryant

Did you pay him?

Josh Clark

I paid him some. I didn't pay him $20.00.

Chuck Bryant

What a jerk. Spit on Josh. He's got a meeting with me scheduled.

Josh Clark

Thanks buddy.

Chuck Bryant

I'm going to go find this guy.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Let's go to Nice.

Chuck Bryant

All right.

Josh Clark

Well, if you have any stories about spitting on or being spit on, you can send it in an email to StuffPodcast@HowStuffWorks.com.

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