Saturday, August 05, 2006

Drugs threaten New Orleans recovery

A devastating article in Saturday's New York Times chronicled the vicious return of high-level drug trafficing in New Orleans.

"The drug trade in New Orleans is flourishing again, after its dealers, who evacuated to the regional drug hub of Houston, forged closer ties to major suppliers from the Mexican and Colombian cartels. They have since brought back drugs to New Orleans in far larger shipments than before . . . essentially creating violent distribution gangs now spread over a much bigger area . . .

"As the drug-dealing returns, its effects are proving deadly for New Orleans, where the police say that fights over turf for distributing the drugs are the main reason for a spike in killings that threatens the cityÂ’s recovery. Even though its population is less than half of what it was before the storm, New Orleans recorded 22 homicides in July, the same number that it averaged each month in the three years before the hurricane."

-- "Drug problem escalates after Katrina," NYT, Aug. 5, 2006

There was much hope and optimism in the months after the storm that these sorts of problems were part of the city's past. It was almost as though the city, through cathartic agony, had finally earned redemption for the drug scourge that had long kept New Orleans teetering on the edge of disfunction.

It's painfully clear that those expectations were Pollyannaish at best.

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