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Dealing for dollars

In today’s drug market, dealers are more concerned with profit rather then race

Gregg Reese OW Contributor | 10/4/2018, 12:59 p.m.
It is perhaps fitting to start this overview of drugs in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Rampart...

“That’s about where the concern of ethnicity ends,” Walsh continued.

“Once the drugs are in the US, the cartel will use anyone to facilitate the transfer of drugs (to the consumer).”

Like any other commercial concern, their primary focus is maximizing the profit margin.

As the Southern California Drug Task Force (SCDTF) Assistant Director, Walsh is at the hub of HIDTA-LA, in this latest chapter of a two-decade-plus career. He started as a drug recognition expert in the L.A. County Jail, and progressed throughout the L.A. metropolitan area, much of it in drug suppression. From this vantage point, Walsh has seen shifting trends in types and methodology of drugs means by which they are transported, as well as the attitudes and procedures authorities use to address this social issue.

Change of Venue

While crack cocaine, fentanyl and other opium derivatives hog the headlines in the media, all reputable parties agree that methamphetamine remains the primary substance of abuse, regardless of consumer race or locale.

“For methamphetamine we used to see small individual labs that would produce a few ounces at a time. These smaller batches were not high quality and were usually ‘cut,’” Walsh explained.

The stereotypical “speed freaks,” cooking up “meth” in out-of-the-way trailer parks in the Antelope Valley, has largely given way to more organized labs across the border, maintained by the cartels. This means that African Americans, largely stereotyped as abusers of crack cocaine, are increasingly likely to be exposed to meth as well. (Note: This contradicts 2016 revelations by John Ehrlichman interviewer Dan Baum, which claim that Nixon’s oppression to drugs was a ploy to win the Presidency and further subjugate the Black populace.)

“That led way to super labs which could produce multiple pounds, to hundreds of pounds, at a time. The quality was a little better, but it was still cut. That led to the California legislation’s changing the laws to restrict the access to the required chemicals for manufacturing. This pushed production into Mexico.”

“In Mexico they now have super labs that are producing very high quality meth, hundreds of pounds at a time, for cheap. When I first started working narcotics, in 2002, a pound of meth was around $4,500.

When California changed the laws and the precursors were more difficult to obtain, the cost of a single pound went to about $9,000. Currently a pound of methamphetamine is around $2,300.

Rethinking the business model

“when Prohibition failed, we pursued, in successive “wars,” other drugs, like opium, heroin, marijuana, LSD and now cocaine. We’ve lost all of these wars; we’ll lose this one too. While they haven’t eradicated drugs, our wars have achieved other goals, however dubious; perhaps that’s why they’re launched in the first place.”

—from “Drug Wars As Victimization and Social Control” by Robert Elias.

“If we looked at our society, we used to have areas in our city that were ethnically-based neighborhoods, the cartels would stick to the neighborhood their people lived in...maybe decades ago we could try to break drugs down by ethnicities, but that is not where are now. Drugs, and/or drug cartels, do not care about your race, culture, religion, political affiliations, age, gender, economic status, area you live in,education level, or job title, etc,” said Glenn Walsh of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.