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Crime File: Drug Trafficking

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Moderated by James Q. Wilson, a panel of three (Mark Climan, Harvard University Research Fellow; Mark Moore, Harvard University Professor; and John Lawn, Administrator of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency), this team discusses Federal and local enforcement strategies against drug trafficking.
The discussion is preceded by a film clip on New York City's Operation Pressure Point, an enforcement program carried out in the lower Eastside targeting the street-level drug dealer and buyer. Operation Pressure Point involves police saturation of the area (150 uniformed officers police a 1-mile square area on a daily basis, along with 15 to 20 undercover narcotics officers). The panel discusses the merits and successes of this program, addressing issues such as displacement of drug dealing, the strategy of focusing on the street-level drug dealer as opposed to those higher in the drug market hierarchy, the expense of the program in terms of benefits and its inability to reach many segments of the drug dealing/using population, such as cocaine dealers/users who do not conduct business on the street. The changing Federal strategy in drug law enforcement, with a heavier focus on traffic organizations and seizure of assets, is considered, along with the merits of encouraging foreign Government cooperation in crop-eradication attacking drug networks, curbing demand, and drug education.

Date Published: January 1, 1986