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.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Drug War
4:20 on 5/3: Rally for Pot-Law Reform
4:20 on 5/3: Rally for Pot-Law Reform
Million Marijuana March this Saturday in Austin

Jordan Smith, May 1, 2014

Justice Says Legalize It
Justice Says Legalize It
Retired Supreme Court judge weighs in on pot prohibition

Jordan Smith, April 25, 2014

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
Musical chairs at Downtown HQ

May 9, 2014

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Drug War, cocaine, ONDCP, DEA

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle