John Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, loves to talk about how much more potent marijuana is than it used to be, even (maybe especially) when his numbers are off by a factor of 14. But he is less keen to talk about the rising potency of cocaine, which, along with its falling price, suggests how ineffective U.S. interdiction and eradication efforts have been. A couple of years ago, Walters bragged that an uptick in cocaine prices showed that Plan Colombia, the multibillion-dollar program aimed at cutting cocaine off at its source, was finally working. Last week he conceded things had not worked out the way he had hoped:
The drug czar, John Walters, wrote Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that retail cocaine prices fell by 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 1981, when the U.S. government began collecting data, a gram of pure cocaine fetched $600.
The purity of this cocaine, meanwhile, has "trended somewhat toward former levels," as well, Walters said in the letter, citing data from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
A new report from the Washington Office on Latin America elaborates on the familiar failure of source control.
[via The Drug War Chronicle]