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December 15, 2004

ABC and the Philadelphia Inquirer on the big cocaine bust

Another TV station's report on the Philly cocaine bust has crossed the wires, WPVI, the local ABC affiliate, and the Philadelphia Inquirer has weighed in on the bust as well. PVI has some good quotes from the DA and police chief that really illustrate the senselessnes of the drug war pretty well.

First, DA Lynne Abraham said in their press conference:

It's going to disrupt a lot of cocaine distribution in Southwest Philadelphia and the city of Philadelphia.

The bust might have some short-term disruptive effect on cocaine distribution in Philadelphia. But that disruption is just as likely to lead to turf war violence and increased use of other drugs. And if the cocaine flow is really disupted at all, it will be back before very long. It's a market in a popular and lucrative commodity.

Then they quoted Chief Inspector Keith Sadler, referring to the 28-year old black man they had busted, Terry Scruggs, saying:

Our goal is not to let people like this terrorize the neighborhood.

And a resident of the neighborhood named Frankie Ray, referring to the size of the haul, told WPVI:

That's a big cleanup.

I hope that Frankie and his neighbors get some relief. Unfortunately, the most that busts like this can accomplish is to move the trade to some other neighborhood where other people will have to suffer with it. The truth is that only legalization can actually "clean up the streets" from the illicit drug trade -- by replacing it with a licit trade.

By the way, the Inquirer reported that Scruggs had made the US Marshals Service's "15 most wanted" list of violent fugitives nationwide during the year 2000, though he was ultimately acquitted on the two murder charges. I don't know if the acquittals mean that he wasn't guilty or if there just wasn't enough evidence to convict him. Let's assume for the sake of argument that he is the "bad guy" that Sadler and the US Marshals make him out to be. All the more reason for legalization -- to put people like Scruggs out of business.

Send a note to WPVI to let them know their report missed the story's real meaning; and send a letter to the editor to the Inquirer too. Suggest that the papers and stations revisit the Philly cocaine scene in a month or two to see how "disrupted" the cocaine trade is then, and to examine whether any increase in violence or other drug problems follows this bust. Post a copy of your letter back here.

- Dave Borden, DRCNet

Posted by dborden725 at December 15, 2004 06:46 PM

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