HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drug Czar Touts Colombian Efforts, Says Heroin Price Up
Pubdate: Thu, 01 Sep 2005
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2005 The Miami Herald
Author: Pablo Bachelet
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Walters, John)

War On Drugs


WASHINGTON - The purity of South American heroin on U.S. streets declined 
sharply last year as prices increased for the first time, the strongest 
indication yet that an aggressive antidrug program in Colombia may be 
having an impact in the United States, U.S. drug czar John Walters said 

But Walters recognized there was still no change in the purity and price 
levels of cocaine, by far Colombia's largest drug crop and the top 
moneymaker for drug traffickers. U.S. officials hope the heroin numbers are 
an early indicator that will eventually carry over into cocaine.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration Domestic Monitor Program, 
which uses samples obtained through undercover purchases to measure purity, 
South American heroin was 32.5 percent pure in 2004, down from 41.8 percent 
in 2003. The price was $1 per milligram in 2004 versus 77 cents a year earlier.

In the past, the Bush administration has cited statistics from fewer 
kidnappings to record crop eradications as proof that Colombian President 
Alvaro Uribe, an erstwhile U.S. ally, was making headway against drug 
traffickers and the paramilitary fighters and left-wing guerrilla groups 
that have been battling the government for decades.

Walters praised Uribe for his "spectacular" results.

But until now, the upbeat numbers in Colombia weren't coupled with 
corresponding increases in the price of cocaine or heroin -- or a decline 
in purity of both -- in the United States.

Critics of Plan Colombia -- a $4 billion program targeting drug trafficking 
and illegal armed groups -- say this showed drug producers were finding new 
ways to keep the U.S. market supplied.

Colombia receives about $700 million a year in U.S. aid.

Walters, who heads the White House's Office of National Drug Control 
Policy, cited the data during a presentation on the success of Plan 
Colombia at the Hudson Institute, a conservative Washington think tank.
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