The recent arrests of a 10-year-old, an 11-year-old and a 12-year-old on drug-peddling charges establishes a new, tragic trend of using children as dope dealers and walking "stashes" in Baltimore. Police now fear that young children will also become victims of the violence that accompanies the drug trade and its turf battles.
None of this should be surprising to anyone who has toured the city's most notorious drug neighborhoods. Open drug-dealing around the clock goes on virtually unchecked. If little kids years ago used to emulate their elders' furtive beer and whiskey drinking by consuming soft drinks from brown paper bags, today they dream about the flashy gold chains and expensive Air Jordan sneakers they see worn by neighborhood hustlers. Trafficking or stashing drugs offers a way for kids to get those status items. "These kids want so much and we have so little," moans a mother who lost control over her 11-year-old son.
What frightens narcotics detectives is that they see no solution. Some experienced officers even talk about a generation that is likely to be lost as drugs and violence take their toll. And while many parents in poverty stricken neighborhoods desperately try to control their children, others condone their behavior and welcome the additional income their offspring bring in from the streets, whether through drug trafficking or prostitution. That sends the children a strong message. "When their parents are in it, when their peers are in it, when everybody else is in it, it's apparent to them that it's right to do it," says Sgt. John Sieracki of the Eastern District.