Pubdate: Wed, 14 Mar 2007
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Copyright: 2007 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Author: Adam Scavone


Albany drug investigator John Burke has been highly critical of David 
Soares' steroid bust, based on assertions that steroid users are not 
on street corners, are not carrying weapons and are not shooting at 
one another.

Burke is missing a few things in the bigger picture. First, most of 
Albany County's narcotic drug users are using them safely and 
comfortably in their own homes and dorm rooms, buying them from 
friends, co-workers, relatives and other acquaintances. They are not 
shooting anyone, carrying weapons or otherwise causing problems. 
Second, Burke fails to recognize that, contrary to resolving the 
problem, legal repression of the drug trade can never succeed in 
reducing drug problems, and that by forcing these products into the 
black market, he engenders the problems of violence that he 
simultaneously decries.

There is a tremendous amount of money involved, but that market is 
governed by social customs (usually followed) backed by violent 
retribution for offenses, given the absolute lack of recourse to more 
civil means of dispute resolution.

Perhaps the greatest evidence for this reality is the fact that Burke 
has been doing this for 35 years. He says he makes 400 arrests every 
year, and takes thousands of dollars of drugs off the street.

Maybe he has not had the time in the last few decades to think it 
through, but maybe -- just maybe -- the narcotics industry has 
factored these losses into its operating overhead, and the real 
kingpins do not care how many kids trying to make a buck Burke and 
his police send to prison.

Adam Scavone

Saratoga Springs
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