Alan Shoemaker Ayahuasca Legal Defense Fund Needs Support 1/17/03

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items


recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed


reprinted from the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics

A case which pits the US government against the vine and leaves used to make ayahuasca, the South American visionary tea used for physical, emotional and spiritual healing, is nearing the trial phase and funds are urgently needed for the defense.

The case has potential ramifications not only on other ayahuasca cases, but on the rights of all individuals to worship in the privacy of their homes as they see fit.

At issue is the prosecution of Alan Shoemaker, an US ex-pat who, until last April 1, has been living in the jungle city of Iquitos, Peru since 1993. During the past 10 years Shoemaker has been a student of the sacred medicine, ayahuasca, and during the past five he's been working with a plant-based diabetes II medicine as well. He is married to a Peruvian woman, and is the father of two children with her.

In 1998, Shoemaker's wife, Mariella Noriega, started Chinchilejo (Dragonfly) a plant material export business. Among the plants she exported were Banisteriopsis caapi (ayahuasca vine) and Diplopterys cabrerana (huambisa leaves), the vine and one of the typical leaves used to make ayahuasca.

Mariella was not the first nor only Peruvian export firm to deal with these plants, but on January 29, 2001, her company, Chinchilejo, became the only Peruvian export company to ever have a shipment of these plants seized.

The DEA followed the shipment from its point of entry to its delivery to Shoemaker's adult son, Jesse Brock, who was starting a plant material wholesale business in the states. The plants, 200 kilos of ayahuasca vine and 250 kilos of huambisa leaves -- 450 kilos altogether -- were seized on the grounds that the leaves contained traces of DMT.

The seizure was extremely unusual as the plants were legal to export from Peru and had never been declared illegal here in the US. The shipment had been exported with all the necessary Peruvian and international paperwork completed.

No arrests were made at the time, but on April 1, when Shoemaker flew from Iquitos to Miami to see his dying mother, he was picked up at Miami International Airport and told a sealed indictment had been handed down on January 24, 2002, charging him with possession with intent to distribute a Schedule 1 substance, DMT.

The charge carries 20 years in federal prison. His son Jesse immediately turned himself into authorities in Atlanta.

Alan Shoemaker was held in prison for 59 days and released on a $50,000 cash bond with the stipulation that he wear an ankle bracelet and remain at his late mother's home in Tennessee until the case is concluded. He cannot bring his wife and children to the states for fear that she will be arrested as well.

Legal motions seeking a dismissal of the charges are being filed by Shoemaker's attorney Mark Sallee in January. Failing a dismissal, Sallee, from Atlanta, suggests that a trial may begin as early as April. Though Sallee has donated his services, he anticipates a number of sizeable expenses, from filing the motions to bringing in expert witnesses for the defense should they be needed. Alan Shoemaker used all of his resources to pay his bond. Mark Sallee cannot be asked to contribute any more than he is already contributing.

It is vital that the community contribute to this defense. If the government is permitted to selectively prosecute Shoemaker for legal plants shipped into the US, it will send a signal to Attorney General John Ashcroft that he will be given a green light by the public in other similarly indefensible cases.

Donations to the Alan Shoemaker Ayahuasca Defense Fund are tax-deductible and all proceeds will go to his defense. To send funds, please send a check or money order to: Alan Shoemaker (Ayahuasca) Defense Fund, Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics, P.O. Box 73481, Davis, CA 95617-3481.

Visit for further information.

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #272, 1/17/03 The Road to Mérida: Interviews with Participants in the "Out from the Shadows" Campaign | The Road to Mérida: Interview with Dr. Francisco Fernandez, Anthropologist and Former Rector of Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán | The Road to Mérida: Interview with Al Giordano, publisher of Narco News | Bolivian Government Represses Coca Protests, Four Dead... So Far | Ed Rosenthal Medical Marijuana Trial Underway -- Judge Blocks Mention of Prop. 215, Has Trouble Seating Jury | Canadian Prime Minister Promises Motion on Decriminalization as Courts Continue to Chip Away at Marijuana Laws | Latin American Anti-Prohibition Conference, Feb. 12-15, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico | Cumbre Internacional Sobre Legalización, 15-Dec Febrero, Mérida, México | Newsbrief: Souder Pushes Partial HEA Reform, Frank to Reintroduce Drug Provision Repeal Bill | Newsbrief: Racine Caves Before the Ravers | Newsbrief: MPP "War on Drug Czar" Continues -- State Reacts to Allegations | Newsbrief: 12 Dead in Brazil as Drug Police Raid Shantytowns | Newsbrief: Mexican Soldiers Bust Narcs | Newsbrief: Colombian President Seeks Iraq-Like Mobilization Against Traffickers | Newsbrief: Some Colombian Terrorists May Be More Equal Than Others | Newsbrief: Alaska Lieutenant Governor Disqualifies Marijuana Legalization Petition Signatures, Proponents Vow Fight | Newsbrief: Return of the RAVE Act | Newsbrief: Ecstasy Rarely Kills, British Study Finds | Alan Shoemaker Ayahuasca Legal Defense Fund Needs Support | Media Scan: Washington on Forchion, Cockburn on Rosenthal, Forbes on Walters, Szasz on Drug Medicalization, Bruce McKinney, GAO on DARE | DC Job Opportunity at DRCNet -- Campus Coordinator | The Reformer's Calendar

This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]