Pubdate: Fri, 10 Dec 1999
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 1999 The Washington Post Company
Address: 1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071
Author: Randall Vlahos


The "killing fields" in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, ["Border Families Await Word
of the Missing," front page, Dec. 1] are a reminder of the awesome power of
the people who profit through illegal drugs.

Communities all along the U.S.-Mexico border are locked in the grip of the
drug cartels and their violent methods. Many say that the real power in
Mexico and other Latin American countries stems from the cartels - not the
governments - and that the tendrils of this power extend deep into the
United States.

Seventy years ago Americans watched similar organized lawlessness and
violence consume their society and reacted by demanding that Congress end
Prohibition. Congress did so, and the violence came to an end.

The drug war is ravaging our inner cities and our youth; as the violence
and body counts escalate, politicians push the same old hot button: "Get
tough on drugs."

We've locked up more than a million Americans on drug-related charges, but
the problem hasn't gone away. The drug war has made a new class of
millionaires and generated jobs for thousands of bureaucrats, agents,
inspectors, police departments, prison systems and morgues.

Everyone gets a piece of the action - except the victims.

Americans should demand that Congress cut the heart out of organized crime
and illegal drugs, and only one "knife" can do that job: regulation.

Randall Vlahos, Arlington
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