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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ‘Crackdowns’ on drug cartels won’t work

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The recent article "Crackdown on drug gangs spreads a wave of kidnappings, extortions" (Oct. 17) is another strong illustration of the fallacy that legalization of drugs will somehow reduce crime by denying drug cartels and dealers their sources of income.

The increase of kidnappings and ransom demands in major parts of South America are being directly attributed to the "war on drugs" and the crackdown on South American cartels. It should be clear that people who have and continue to engage in murder, drug smuggling, extortion and other heinous crimes have as their goal money and power. They are subject to the risks of criminal warfare between gangs, but that has not been enough to discourage them from this lifestyle.

Drug smuggling may now be the major source of money and power in these gangs, but deny them that source, and they will only find another. Gang members who have participated in brutal murders, robberies, drug distribution and other crimes are not suddenly going to show up in church, working for minimum wage and becoming responsible members of society just because drugs have become legal.

It is indeed the economy, stupid. A good family, a decent education and a real opportunity in the workforce are the only ways to start dealing with a portion of society that feels it is without any chance for a decent life and as a result looks for escape in the drug culture or criminal world.

ROBERT A. POGGI

Alexandria

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