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Could We Be Wrong?

From the Detroit Free Press, via crimprof:

Detroit is one of dozens of U.S. cities with a shortage of cocaine, causing prices to skyrocket as law enforcement efforts in the United States, Mexico and Central and South America disrupt sources.

Is it true? Probably not — in April 2007 Drug Czar John Walters (the source for the Free Press’s information) reported in a letter to Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa that retail cocaine prices had fallen 11 percent from February 2005 to October 2006, to about $135 per gram of pure cocaine — hovering near the same levels since the early 1990s. In November 2005, however, Walters had claimed that cocaine prices had risen 19 percent and purity had dropped by about the same. The ONDCP noisily takes credit when drug prices increase, and quietly makes excuses when they decrease.

If there is a shortage of cocaine in Detroit and other U.S. cities, it is probably not because of law enforcement efforts. My take: the internecine drug war that spread from Nuevo Laredo to Monterrey has done more to curb the supply of cocaine (and therefore of defendants charged with drug trafficking) to Houston (and to the areas served by Houston as a hub of narcotics distribution) than anything the government has done in the last 30 years.

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