Professor Constantine may be tending a rose garden on the banks of the Mohawk
River nowadays like his old friend Col. Ed Culhane of the
Rhode Island State Police
, but he's still having an impact. An essay he wrote on international organized crime and drug-trafficking
came to the attention of the Assistant Speaker of the New York State Assembly, the Honorable Edward Griffith.
Speaker Griffith is a native of Panama. On a visit there two years ago, he was appalled to behold the devastation wrought in Panama City by American forces sent in to arrest drug dealer and money-launderer General Manuel Antonio Noriega, who had made himself dictator of that country. (He is now in a US prison serving a 30-year sentence.) This took place in December 1989. Hundreds of Panamanians died. The damage to buildings, streets and infrastructure has still not been repaired.
Speaker Griffith returned to Albany with a new appreciation of the power and destructiveness of the drug cartels and other international organized criminal organizations who today may traffic in everything from weapons-grade nuclear material to enslaved women and children.
Like the Dominion, the powerful, shape-shifting enemy in the recently concluded Star Trek television epic Deep Space Nine, these organizations have so much wealth at their disposal that they can turn themselves into anything they want to be, up to and including making themselves the masters of governments and institutions of whole nations. And like the Dominion, they are supported by an army of drug users. This is not science fiction. This is reality. It is the great challenge of our time.
Like Professor Constantine, Speaker Griffith is a man of deeds, not words. And so, inspired by the Professor's brilliant essay, he took action.
ALBANY, NEW YORK
31 MARCH 2000
New York State Assembly Assistant Speaker Edward Griffith, Democrat of East New York, Brooklyn, has introduced a bill to establish, within the State University of New York, an academic Chair for International Organized Crime, Drug-Trafficking and Terrorism. Assembly Bill No. 4749-A, inspired by a brilliant, but as yet unpublished, essay by former State Police Superintendent and Drug Enforcement Administration chief Thomas A. Constantine, establishes such chair and gives it a mandate to organize conferences, create training programs, publish its proceedings and maintain a library; authorizes the Chancellor and Trustees of the State University to appoint a person well-qualified by education and experience to administer the program; authorizes a development program to build an endowment; and makes an appropriation of $250,000 to get the program started.
Says Griffith: "Organized crime has gone global in our time, emerging as the mortal enemy of democratic institutions and infecting and distorting world commerce and financial institutions. It has forged alliances with political terrorists and links to outlaw states. It is involved in every imaginable form of criminal activity. It is ruthless and inhuman and has raised a capital of such gargantuan proportions that these organizations can make themselves masters of entire governments through intimidation, violence and corruption."
New York has a celebrated tradition of leadership in the war against organized crime. With the 1957 Apalachin incident, the New York State Police dramatically exposed the existence of La Cosa Nostra to an unsuspecting world, sparking decades of intense effort to combat the criminal conspiracies that had grown so pervasive and entrenched. In 1991, the State Police again made history by exposing the far-flung operations of the Cali Cocaine Cartel in the state of New York. More recently, the cartel was defeated and dismantled on its home turf by Colombian authorities supported by the DEA under the leadership of Mr. Constantine, now a distinguished SUNY professor.
Says Griffith: "With the internationalization of organized crime and the proliferation of drug-trafficking and terrorism, the challenge to law enforcement has grown exponentially. The strategies developed to defeat the traditional mafia provide a strong foundation upon which to build the capabilities needed to fight it in the international theater. But we must also develop the legal and diplomatic frameworks within which law enforcement agencies of many nations may cooperate effectively along with the essential personal and professional relationships that build the trust and unity of purpose and that are the sine qua non for eventual victory.
Says Griffith: "Once again, New York will take the lead in the war against international organized crime by creating a focal point for our effort to develop the strategies needed to wage it."
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