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Bonner on Drug War

June 24, 1988

It is difficult to see how an educated man like (U.S. attorney for California's Central District) Robert Bonner ("Fighting the Good Fight Against Drugs Takes Money, Men and Hard Persistence," Opinion, June 12) can be so optimistic from the figures he gave with regard to drug enforcement.

Bonner states proudly that his office has confiscated $50 million of drug dealers' property--10 times the amount of the entire budget of his office. He fails to note that this is only 5% (or less) of the billion dollars in drug profits processed through Los Angeles last year. The drug dealers will make more than that in simple interest on their bank account (and that doesn't count the interest on last year's profits).

It is true that the police are seizing more drugs than ever, but that is simply because there are more drugs around to be seized. If the police were really able to seize a significant amount then drug prices would go up, drug profits would go up and drug imports would go up to make up the slack in supply. The only real effect of drug enforcement is to act as a price support system for illegal drugs.

Bonner states that the stiff new drug laws will prevent the Colombians from recruiting new members. This is a delusion by someone who is not familiar with South American poverty. There is an unlimited supply of volunteers to sell drugs to rich Americans--whatever the penalties.

Finally, Bonner states that "The war against illegal drugs is not lost." Maybe not, but the odds of the police winning are not even good enough to be called hopeless. It is time for a new approach.

CLIFFORD A. SCHAFFER

Canyon Country

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