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U.S. War On Drugs - Only Cops & Criminals Benefit

OPINION

The United States' so-called war on drugs brings to mind the old saying that if you find yourself trapped in a deep hole, stop digging. Yet, last week, the Senate approved an aid package to combat drug trafficking in Mexico and Central America, with a record $400 million going to Mexico and $65 million to Central America.

The United States has been spending $69 billion a year worldwide for the last 40 years, for a total of $2.5 trillion, on drug prohibition -- with little to show for it. Is anyone actually benefiting from this war? Six groups come to mind.

The first group are the drug lords in nations such as Colombia, Afghanistan and Mexico, as well as those in the United States. They are making billions of dollars every year -- tax free.

The second group are the street gangs that infest many of our cities and neighborhoods, whose main source of income is the sale of illegal drugs.

Third are those people in government who are paid well to fight the first two groups. Their powers and bureaucratic fiefdoms grow larger with each tax dollar spent to fund this massive program that has been proved not to work.

Fourth are the politicians who get elected and reelected by talking tough -- not smart, just tough -- about drugs and crime. But the tougher we get in prosecuting nonviolent drug crimes, the softer we get in the prosecution of everything else because of the limited resources to fund the criminal justice system.

The fifth group are people who make money from increased crime. They include those who build prisons and those who staff them. The prison guards union is one of the strongest lobbying groups in California today, and its ranks continue to grow.

And last are the terrorist groups worldwide that are principally financed by the sale of illegal drugs.

Who are the losers in this war? Literally everyone else, especially our children.

Full Story: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-fleming5-2008jul05,0,2831899.story