Tulia, Texas: Scenes from the Drug War

Our 23-minute video documentary explores the effects of a racially-motivated drug bust in the tiny town of Tulia, Texas.

Over an 18-month period, in a town so small it can barely support a Dairy Queen, the agent maintained his cover while allegedly making over 100 controlled buys of illegal narcotics, mostly cocaine.

The morning of the arrests, which were finally conducted en masse on July 23, 1999, brought more surprises. Although the arrest warrants were served at dawn, surprising most of the defendants in their beds, no drugs, money, or weapons were seized in the roundup. Only a few of the alleged dealers were able to raise the money to bond themselves out of jail. Many lived in public housing or trailer homes.

By the end of the week, as the rest of the suspects were rounded up, it was evident that the 41 persons targeted by the sting had something else in common. Thirty-nine of the arrestees came from Tulia's tiny black community, which numbers no more than 300. Nearly twenty percent of the town's black population had been taken down by one undercover agent.

  • Producer(s) The William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice
  • Director(s) Sarah Kunstler, Emily Kunstler, Lazar Bloch
  • Release Date 2001
  • Run time 23 min
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