Drug War: Border Cops Blast U.S. Claims of Progress

By Dirk Hanson 07/08/11
Angry Arizona Sherriff insists 6,000 new National Guards troops cops needed on border, rather than 1,200 promised by Obama
in nogales.jpg
Hot sun above, drug tunnels below.
Photo via eastvalleytribune

The Obama administration, in the form of Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, showed up in Nogales on the Arizona border yesterday to cheerlead for a drug war strategy update that contains a nod in the direction of treatment. While continuing the fight against drug and gun smuggling, Napolitano and Kerlikowske, standing at a local Border Patrol station to make their announcement, were perhaps wondering if they were perched on top of one of the countless tunnels that have turned Nogales into a center for marijuana smuggling. AP  says that the updated plan includes “federal grants for efforts to prevent and treat drug use in border communities that bear the brunt of America's drug smuggling woes.”

Questioned about the plan after 40 years of failed drug policy, Kerlikowske said the country has made progress, such as lowering the rate of cocaine use. "There is no one enterprise that owns this problem," Kerlikowske said. But Arizona sheriff Paul Babeu said that the current 1,200 National Guard troops strung along the international border could never be a serious deterrent. Sheriff Babeu suggested that 6,000 troops might be needed.  He said the feds are trying to lull Americans into a “false sense of security,” and scoffed at crime numbers showing declines in border cities. "Well, yes, they are," Babeu said. "In fact, they are down in Chicago. They are down in New York City. They are down in Los Angeles."

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]