Losing the drug war

July 08, 1991|By Newsday

COLOMBIA'S uneasy truce with its drug lords points more urgently than ever to the need for the United States to find a domestic solution to the drug problem. The awesome influence of the narcotics cartels is spreading well beyond the initial coca-growing nuclei of Colombia, Peru and Bolivia across South America. Using Harvard Business School principles, the drug lords are expanding their enterprises to control everything from leaf production and paste processing to port shipments and financing. And they are opening new outlets in Western Europe and Japan.

Faced with this, an all-out paramilitary effort to interdict shipments is a futile policy. Enforcement efforts will always be a necessary part of drug control. But far more important will be a national commitment to controlling domestic demand for drugs.

And that can only be accomplished with the slow, unglamorous tools of education and addiction treatment programs.

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