Walters' Wishful Thinking?

Police in Houston and El Paso say the cocaine trade is alive and well despite what Feds say about a supposed shortage.

Police in Houston and El Paso say the cocaine trade is alive and well in their cities despite what officials with the Drug Enforcement Administration and White House Office of the National Drug Control Policy say about a supposed shortage.

Outgoing DEA head Karen Tandy and ONDCP drug czar John Walters said this week that anti-coke strategies in Latin America (like the controversial Plan Colombia that includes spraying toxic herbicides over the coca-growing countryside – a process that also kills legal crops and causes health problems in humans) have cut export supply, driving the stateside price of cocaine ever higher, reports the Houston Chronicle. Walters says the price of a pure gram of cocaine has risen to $137, an increase of nearly 44% this year. “This report is the best evidence yet that counter-drug programs can break the machine that delivers violence, corruption and addiction to every country in the hemisphere,” Walters told reporters in Bogota. “This is not yet victory, but it is a sign that we are on the right track.”

Which track Walters is riding isn’t entirely clear however – at least not to police in Houston and El Paso, two cities singled out as exhibiting a short supply of coke, who say that the market for cocaine hasn’t “changed much in years,” the daily reports. “You can still go to the open-air markets and get pretty much anything you are looking for,” said Houston PD narco officer Lt. Gray Smith. Currently a gram of coke costs about $80 in Houston, he said. “It is consistent as far as price and purity.”

Indeed, Walters’ assessment also conflicts with the Dept. of Justice’s National Drug Threat Assessment released Nov. 7, which reports that Bolivia, Peru and Colombia produced 970 metric tons of cocaine last year, the largest haul in the past four years.

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