Los Angeles' emergence as a major drug-smuggling and -dealing center has not been matched by federal funds to combat the problem, authorities said today at a congressional hearing.
"To us, it is unclear what the federal government is actually doing," said Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner. "Though I must say, the very distinct impression is that it is not doing enough. . . . There is a substantial gap between rhetoric and performance."
Reiner was one of several witnesses to appear before a joint congressional hearing on drug trafficking and abuse in the Los Angeles area.
"The international drug trade has indeed turned our region into the city of the living dead," the Rev. Bryan Jones, executive vice president of the United Neighborhood Organization, told the hearing.
Number of Agents Cited
He said the nation's second-largest city should at least have parity with New York and Miami in terms of federal manpower and money, noting that while Los Angeles has 100 to 120 Drug Enforcement Administration agents, each of those two cities has 300 agents.
"Because of the volume of cocaine that is coming into the area, we are becoming the nose of the nation," said Sheriff Sherman Block.
County Health Department statistics indicate that while overall drug overdose deaths have declined from 2,026 in 1982 to 1,488 in 1985, cocaine deaths have shot up significantly, from 46 in 1982 to 125 in 1985, an increase of 171%.
"Cocaine is in such plentiful supply in this area that the wholesale price has gone from $65,000 per kilo in 1981 to an average of $21,000 per kilo in 1986," Block said.
Block said he believes that it would be appropriate to use the military to stop drugs at the border. The Pentagon has stated that it does not believe the military should take part in law enforcement action.