Federal officials plan to designate Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, Houston and almost the entire Southwest border as high-intensity drug trafficking areas, qualifying them for extra federal money and resources to battle the drug trade, Administration sources say.
It is unclear how much help the areas will get because of the designation. In the current fiscal year, only $25 million has been allocated for high-intensity localities.
However, that could increase by up to $21 million with money coming from assets seized from drug traffickers, Reggie Walton, associate director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said last month.
An Administration official, who spoke Friday on condition of anonymity, said the total federal effort in the designated areas "probably will be over $1 billion," when such things as temporarily reassigned federal agents and military efforts along the border are figured in.
An updated National Drug Control Strategy--required by Congress--is expected to be announced at the end of January. The original version was announced by President Bush last September.
Sources contacted Friday had seen drafts of the new strategy, which went to the White House Domestic Policy Council on Thursday and to Bush on Friday.
One source said the strategy calls for the areas around the actual cities to be included in the planning to fight drugs.
When drug control policy director William J. Bennett designated Washington, D.C., as a test case for future high-intensity drug trafficking areas last spring, leaders of surrounding cities and counties protested that the problems do not end at the capital's borders. They suggested that problems could simply be pushed into the surrounding areas.
In addition to the metropolitan areas, the new strategy designates 34 counties along the Southwest border as high-intensity drug-trafficking areas.
Interdiction efforts by the U.S. Customs Service and the Coast Guard will not get more money under the strategy. But military expenditures on border control will increase from about $313 million in 1990 to about $1.2 billion in 1991.
The strategy also outlines broader federal drug crimes for which the death penalty can be imposed, in line with the changes Bush said he wanted to make last year.
Under the proposals, the death penalty could be imposed on drug kingpins even when they or their organizations have not killed anyone.
The death penalty could be imposed if the attorney general approves the indictment and if, on conviction, the jury found serious, aggravating factors, a source said.
"This is basically following through on implementing the President's agenda vis-a-vis nasty, felonious drug traffickers," the source said.