Houston police say the new federal report that cocaine prices are rising and the drug is harder to get doesn’t jibe with what they’re seeing in the streets, reports the Houston Chronicle. Claims of short supplies or higher prices conflicted with reports from the streets of Houston and El Paso, the Texas cities singled out by the DEA as having a shortage. The availability of drugs and their price fluctuate slightly in the two cities, police said, but whether one wants to spend $20 or $20,000, the market hasn’t changed much in years. “You can still go to the open-air markets and get pretty much anything you are looking for,” said Lt. Gray Smith of the Houston police narcotics division.
“Our dealers aren’t running dry,” said Darrel Petry, an El Paso police spokesman. “Our guys are busting their humps every day, and the numbers are consistent.” Garrison Courtney, a DEA spokesman, stressed that the report’s conclusions looked at cities nationwide. Purchases, which are used to check availability and purity, were made using money seized from drug dealers, he said. “There are always cities that will have consistency, like illegal immigration or poverty,” he said of how geography and other factors support chronic situations in some regions. Houston has long been a hub for major drug cartels that bring in their product and distribute it to the rest of the U.S., particularly the East Coast. The city attracts big and small dealers alike who want to turn a profit on bulk amounts of cocaine and other drugs that can be purchased cheaper there than in most major cities, such as Dallas, Atlanta, or Chicago.