Humans Are Free Before the heroin epidemic became a nationwide problem, claiming thousands of lives, Plano, Texas, was already entrenched.
And like many of the places caught in the crosshairs of the continuing heroin crisis, Plano is the last place that one would expect to be swept into the opioid tidal wave.
We’ve recently interviewed Texas-native Belita Nelson, who has had an interesting few decades. For six years she termed herself the “chief propagandist” — or spokeswoman — for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Before that, as a Plano mother and teacher, Belita noticed what was happening in her community. She described Plano as an area rivaling Newtown, Connecticut, or Cape Cod — tight-knit regions where tragedy strikes hard and deep.
She explained that “[Plano] has the best school districts in the state of Texas… it’s a gated community. And in 1998, for heroin to be that prevalent in the community was stunning. Stunning. We got all the media attention because we were this upscale Texas neighborhood that nobody thought would be inundated with heroin.”
Nelson decided to take action, saying:
“I decided I’d had it. I was going to organize my community and fight this thing at the grassroots level. But we were never grassroots because the first thing I did was go on the Oprah show for the DEA.”
Belita stresses that she was never officially employed by the DEA but traveled for six years as a sort of unofficial spokeswoman for the agency.
The group recruited her because their goals aligned, and in many ways, she was perfect for the role. She was a mother who had witnessed the toll of heroin first-hand.
She was passionate and knew what she was talking about. Belita spoke to schools and parent groups and appeared on television networks.
With the help of a former Dallas Cowboy, she founded the Starfish Foundation to tackle heroin addiction. That organization ran until 2004 when one of the employees pocketed the donation money and left the foundation scrambling in the dark.
In our interview, Belita was hesitant to speak too openly but mentioned that when she first went to work with the DEA (she was contacted and became familiar with agency’s goals), she was told:
“‘Marijuana is safe, we know it’s safe, but it’s our cash cow and we will never, ever, give it up.’”
When the DEA seizes a car or makes a drug bust, it’s likely they’ll find wads of money.
They turn in the pot (or other drugs) — and keep the cash. Civil asset forfeiture law essentially gives the police and feds free reign, and they have confiscated billions of dollars from Americans, a majority of whom have not been charged with a crime.
Belita, like many