White House Says War on Drugs Working

By Matthew Harwood

Is the U.S. winning the war on drugs? The White House's antidrug chief said it was in Bogota, Colombia, yesterday, reports The Los Angeles Times:

Interruptions of the flow of cocaine to the United States are causing street prices to rise, a sign that the "war on drugs" is working, the White House anti-drug chief said here Thursday.

John P. Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told reporters that interdictions in Colombia, in other countries along cocaine transit routes and on the open seas were reducing drug supplies, according to data on price and purity gathered in 37 major U.S. cities.

As a result of reduced supply, street cocaine prices over the first nine months of the year rose to an average $136.93 per pure gram at the end of September, a 44% increase from January, he said. Price and purity data were supported by other measures, including reduced evidence of cocaine use as found in workplace tests, he said.

Critics say government officials historically tout price increases and declines in purity as evidence antidrug initiatives are working, yet drug dealers and traffickers always adapt by boosting supply and dropping prices, making gains temporary.

Walters visit to Bogota comes when the Bush Administration is pushing the Democratic-led Congress to adopt a new version of Plan Colombia, on which the U.S. has spent $5 billion in antidrug and antiterrorism aid, and also to support a bilateral trade deal with the country.

Democrats first want assurance Colombia will address its poor record on human rights, environmental issues, and union rights before agreeing to a trade deal.


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