Data show war on drugs failing as cocaine gets cheaper, purer

May 05, 2007|By Los Angeles Times

MEXICO CITY -- The United States and its Latin American allies are losing a major battle in the war on drugs, according to indicators showing that cocaine prices dipped for most of 2006 and American users were getting more bang for their buck.

Despite billions of dollars in U.S. anti-drug spending and record seizures, statistics recently released by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy suggest that cocaine is as available as ever.

Cocaine users and lawmen care about price and purity. Authorities work to choke off supply, driving up cost and damping street sales. Addicts want better coke at cheaper prices.

In 2005, John Walters, head of the drug policy office, made headlines reporting a spike in cocaine prices and falling levels of quality. Those figures indicated that U.S. drug control policies were working, he said.

But the new numbers issued by his office indicate that any victory was short-lived. Retail cocaine prices fell more than 12 percent between January and October of 2006 while average purity of cocaine seized by authorities rose from about 68 percent to 73 percent. The office released the figures in a letter to Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.