The U.S. government has been celebrating a supposed “an unprecedented cocaine shortage” due to increased law enforcement in the southwestern U.S. and Mexico. National Public Radio reports that while ther are some spot shortages of cocaine, they are neither nationwide nor unprecedented. And the scarcity may have unintended consequences. Drug Czar John Walters has asserted that interdictions have choked the cocaine supply in 37 cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Grand Rapids, Mi.
NPR asked the police departments in each of the 37 cities to comment. Ten of the 37 cities confirmed that the cocaine scarcity is real. Among them were the largest cocaine markets in the nation, such as New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and San Francisco. Five cities said there was simply no shortage. Said Sgt. Roger Johnson of the Detroit Police Department: “No, we don’t have a problem finding it at all.” Officials in 18 cities gave qualified responses. In Boston, Chicago and Washington D.C., authorities acknowledged that supplies had tightened, and they applauded the busts. But they noted with frustration that price and availability of a $10-$20 rock of crack cocaine is unchanged, though the potency has dropped somewhat. Among cities that gave qualified responses, Denver, Houston, and Philadelphia reported that prices and supplies had spiked over the summer – but now they’re back to normal.