Pubdate: Sat, 19 Jan 2002
Source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times (TX)
Copyright: 2002 Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Author: Tim Eaton


Agent Roberto Fuentes shows kids kevlar, gun during talk about
reducing drug demand

The sound of rotor blades snapped through the sky above Windsor Park
Elementary on Friday, as a Drug Enforcement Agency helicopter cut
through the morning fog and touched down on the field next to the
basketball court.

Students poured out of the one-story school, and teachers corralled
them away from the wind and dust that the chopper kicked up until it
was safe to approach the agency's blue and black aircraft to hear a
presentation from the pilot, Agent Roberto Fuentes.

Fuentes flew to the school as a part of a program to educate students
about the dangers of drugs: the obvious health concerns and the
possibility of being confronted by DEA agents.

He said that his presentation to the young students centered on demand
and reduction of drugs.

"If there's no demand, they'll take the drugs somewhere else," he said
of the drug dealers.

Fuentes is part of a five-pilot, Houston-based DEA team that supports
drug enforcement efforts in eastern Texas. Between collaring
criminals, providing surveillance and transporting detainees, he and
other pilots educate students.

"It's important that you start early with these kids because they need
exposure to know how to make the right choices," said Marie Soza, a
mother of a Windsor Park third grader.

Fuentes sat the kids down on the grass beside the helicopter and
explained to them the surveillance uses of the DEA helicopters and
discussed how agents catch drug dealers. He also showed the kids a 9mm
sub-machine gun and bulletproof vest.

But he also explained the agency's responsibility and its role in the
U.S. Department of Justice, which was a convenient extension to some
of the students' studies.

"In social studies, we're learning about government, when our
counselor comes in, we talk about drugs," student council president
and fifth-grader Caroline Black said. "So it got all tied together."

The students get a fair amount of drug education in and out of school.
Many of the kids asked specific questions about drugs, such as, "What
is methamphetamine?" They also answered Fuentes' questions regarding
narcotics, like, "What other drug is crack made from?" and "What are
some legal drugs?"

"I think children learn a lot about drugs on TV, even if they just
watch the news," Windsor Park Principal Ginger Harris said. "So I
think it is important that we demystify it and talk about them and how
stupid drugs are." 
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