Re "The Cocaine Trail," Oct. 20-22: Let's get real with the big picture about the illegal drug sale industry in the U.S. Conservative estimates put it at tens of billions of profits yearly. Though this translates into several American billionaires yearly, it is amazing how incapable the federal government is at finding any of them.
No agency seems interested, including the CIA, DEA, FBI, customs, defense, state or IRS. It's a bipartisan problem too. President Clinton's illegal drug czar Barry R. McCaffrey has proven just as incapable as the former Republican czar William J. Bennett.
Elliot Ness found it easy to get Al Capone over his millions of ill-gotten gains. Today it should be easier to accomplish the same thing with infinitely more powerful law enforcement methodologies available. Are they all looking the other way on purpose, maybe?
* My findings, based on my research into the drug-gang problem in L.A. over the past 35 years, support your contention that the ClA-Contra drug conspiracy theory for producing the crack-cocaine problem in South-Central L.A. has limited validity. If there weren't any consumers for a product, it wouldn't sell. The social psychological forces that produce an addict are more complex. In brief, addiction is a direction taken by people who feel that their lives are hopeless. The momentary feelings of euphoria produced by cocaine, in any form, are sought by desperate people who will pay any price, including possible death, to change their emotional state.
The recent revival of the political furor that the U.S. government, through the CIA, produced the crack-addiction problem in South-Central L.A. regrettably masks the true problem. The government is not guilty of this action; it is however grossly guilty of inaction. In the past several decades, after each desperate L.A. riot, that reflected a sense of hopelessness in the community, the then-president and other politicians promised socioeconomic aid that was never delivered.
LEWIS YABLONSKY PhD
Emeritus Professor of Sociology
Cal State Northridge
* The story is truly a street-level story that The Times never reached.
I believe it is important to point out that in your series there was no proof that the CIA was not involved in the drug trade. I am also concerned that the central focus of community concern was ignored. If one listens to the voices on the streets, the questions resonate with fury.
Why are our children serving 10 years or more for crack and Danilo Blandon works for my government? How could this happen during the much publicized "war on drugs"? Who knows about this drug smuggling? When did they know? What did they do?
The question of blame is secondary to these questions. The reason for establishing government complicity is to be able to seek to repair the damage done to our communities. The Times would have done the people of Los Angeles a true service by providing the answers to the above questions rather than trying to challenge the San Jose Mercury News story.
Homeless Outreach Program
* The Times' bold assertion, that crack epidemic, which began in L.A. during the '80s, followed "no blueprint or master plan," reminds one of J. Edgar Hoover piously insisting that there was no such thing as "organized crime." Here's a pop quiz for those who think they are well-informed on this subject: During the mid-'80s, when all this was going on, what individual was head of the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System?
[As vice president, George Bush headed the NNBIS, to coordinate drug interdiction efforts.]
* As an African American, I've been following the controvery surrounding the CIA, Congress and drug-dealing in South-Central L.A. I was embarassed to read ("Congressional Inquiry Probes CIA Allegations," Oct. 20) that one person at the hearing stated, "The American government has to own up to its responsibility."
What about African Americans owning up to their own responsibility not to take drugs. Isn't it the responsibility of individuals not to practice behavior that is detrimental to themselves? I don't care if we didn't know the potency of crack over regular cocaine; there's not a person doing drugs in this country who doesn't understand that drug usage always results in negative consequences. If we as black, white, yellow, red, brown, or whatever color Americans we are, can't take individual responsibility in our own communities, then we deserve, yes deserve, every negative consequence that comes our way. DOUGLAS L. HALL
* How is it that an admitted drug dealer can gain the support of the Compton audience that attended the congressional hearing? Ricky Ross, who has earned millions of dollars by peddling crack in South-Central, was assured by Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald that the Compton audience was with him and praying for him. No matter what the source of his cocaine, Ross certainly deserves no support from the African American community. How many lives has Ross destroyed in his self-professed quest to be the "biggest drug dealer in L.A."? The support of the audience and Millender-McDonald is appalling.