25 people died

Crystal Meth Rockdue to crystal meth last year in the Free State of Bavaria where I live. The police here didn’t shoot them, although they once helped the Philippine National Police (link) professionalize. A program that is suspended now – good as I don’t like my taxes helping Tokhang. Some Filipino hardliners might say, yeah yeah, Germans and especially Bavarians were really good before, but were forced to become bleeding hearts by the Allied Powers who defeated them once. Well, let us have a look at things and then compare. First of all at the main source of the drugs.

Sources and Effects

Vietnamese markets in the Czech Republic seem to be the main source of meth in Europe (link) as a high police official says in a feature by münchen.tv, a local internet TV station here in Munich. The buzz one hears is that Vietnamese gangs (link) are behind meth production in the Czech Republic. Bavaria and Saxony are most strongly and increasingly affected (link) for a number of years now. Cross-border police cooperation helps. Czechs have 200 more investigators now, Bavarians say. Czechs say Poland should improve controls on certain medicines used as precursor chemicals.

The 25 died because of the dangerous drug methamphetamine. Some of the things a Filipino former user described (link) and more are summarized in recent articles in the Bavarian press (link): aggressiveness, nausea, hallucinations, sleeplessness, risky sexual behavior short-term; organ damage, heart attack, stroke, teeth falling out, paranoia and impotence in the long-term; also with the possibility of severe damage to unborn children during pregnancy. In the extreme, it can lead to delusions and psychosis (link) leading to aggression and violence – as bouts, or even longer.

Bavaria fights back

Bavaria has now practically declared meth to be a state enemy. So should the Bavarian police shoot me, or the Indonesian tobacco vendor next door, to scare off potential Vietnamese drug gangsters? First of all, newspaper reports clearly mention that there are even groups of drug users who take short trips to the Czech border to get meth in Vietnamese markets. For that (link) there is a lot of undercover work going on in the border area, with Bavarian and Czech police forces cooperating. Health centers offer help to users. Seems police and health centers work together closely also.

I can imagine that a person who falls into the trap of addiction is more likely to help the state if he or she trusts them not to punish him or her – and can assume they are not in the pay of drug lords themselves. Of course nobody will say how often tips from health centers help police find dealers, and how dealers either singing or their mobile phones revealing the routes they drive and the people they call, meaning their suppliers. A recent movie on Bavarian TV, and recent movie spot sponsored by the Ministries of the Interior and Health of Bavaria, additionally raise awareness.

Conservative versus reactionary

What a contrast with the still prevalent attitude among some Filipino authorities, that raising awareness will make people even more curious and teach them how to do it – for example “draags”. My late teen years in Germany, when heroine was the dangerous drug, showed me otherwise. Novels and movies like Christiane F., based on the life story of a former junkie and teen prostitute in Berlin, warned young people of the dangers. A combination of health and police work dried out the scene. I worked at McDonald’s Bonn near the train station in the mid-1980s, saw the junkies.

Heroine is not much of an issue anymore in Germany, it seems. And yes, there was also the policy of giving methadone to junkies as a bridge to kicking the habit. There were even stations where junkies could get clean needles – to prevent AIDS from spreading more. Bavaria as far as I know never gave out needles like more liberal states did. Bavaria is conservative. What Bavaria is NOT is reactionary. The present Filipino drug war approach of half-truths, misinformation and fear-mongering is reactionary – and hardly effective, I think. Let time tell which approach succeeds.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 18 November 2017