The crumpled green 1994 Thunderbird is a jarring sight in the lobby of One Times Square in New York City. The driver, DEA agents say, was high on cocaine, barbiturates and marijuana when he hit and killed a 31-year-old Ohio woman. The man is serving 10 years. The car is the opening assault in an exhibit meant to lay bare the world of illicit drugs from the car accident to the global financing of rebel armies and terrorists, reports USA Today. Target America: Drug Traffickers, Terrorists and You is an expanded version of a Drug Enforcement Administration Museum traveling exhibit.
The exhibit, housed in three floors of borrowed space, is designed to illustrate through graphic photos and artifacts the societal costs of the production, trafficking and use of illegal drugs. “I want Americans to realize that, although they may not use drugs, everyone is impacted by drug use in this country,” DEA administrator Karen Tandy says. “That car represents the threat to every one of us on the road.” The exhibit invites visitors to trace the path of cocaine and heroin from drug labs in Afghanistan and Colombia to the pockets of insurgents in Colombia and Peru and to such terrorist organizations as Hezbollah. But it also makes a more controversial link between terrorism and the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The exhibit includes a large display of debris collected from both sites. The exhibit does not specifically tie the attacks to drug trafficking, but it uses the events to explain how terrorists use the drug trade as one of several methods to fund attacks.