In the third part of this documentary series the explosion of drug violence during 1990s and the rise of a very unusual meth queen is examined.
As Bill Clinton took over the presidency in 1993 the level of drug violence in American cities had really started to ramp up. As various gangs vied for control of the lucrative trade, they used violence to seize control of the market and to exact revenge on rivals.
Clinton responded by increasing prison sentences for drug related crimes, but with the rewards so high and many of those involved so desperate there was never going to be an easy solution.
This period also saw the rise of Lori Arnold, sister to the famous actor Tom. She was an unlikely figure in the narcotics trade and rose to fame as a supplier of the latest drug to hit the market, methamphetamine.
Lori was a user but when she first discovered meth, she also recognised the potential. From buying through middle-men she soon progressed to purchasing in bulk direct from the producers and at one point was making $300,000 a week. She also started her own meth lab on a ranch she owned and indeed in a small way helped spread the drug across the country and the globe.
However, it all came crashing down when the FBI raided her ranch and she went on to spend 16 years in prison, where she was known as ‘Scarface in a Skirt.’
They even tried to implicate her brother Tom Arnold and his then wife Roseanne Barr, having photos of them with Lori all taking private flights to Cuba on the sort of planes often used to smuggle drugs.
Arnold is clean now, remarried and looks back on her time as the meth queen philosophically.
America’s War on Drugs airs tonight and tomorrow night at 9:00 PM on History Channel.