Dealing is a very big “business” for many drug dealers and unlike many other sectors in the U.S., business is booming. The gang leaders don’t have a recruiting program; they “draft” top prospects. One day, my aunt in Los Angeles asked her grandson if he were in the Crips. His reply was, “Grandma, I have no choice; it is Crips or die.”
And these young members have quotas to fill. They must push dope and get as many hooked as possible. The Peoria, Ill. Chamber of Commerce once did a job study for Black youth (18–30). The number one employer was the city government; number two was the local utility company and number three was the illegal drug activity. Peoria has a population of approximately 100,000 persons. No place of any size is immune from drug trafficking. I could not find credible estimates of how large the illegal drug business is in America but with certainty it is at least $250 billion per year. I bet we would be surprised where some of it ends up.
My brothers and sisters we have an extreme problem that needs urgent fixing. I would like to see Black elected officials become more active about addressing this problem. It is my firm belief that withdrawal programs are not the end solution. We need to come together and do something radically progressive. Nothing that has been tried in the past has improved this “illness.”
The time has come for bold, Americana style action. The first thing we should do is legalize drugs. Treat it like liquor and cigarettes by taxing it to the limit and regulate it wisely. The demand for illegally transported drugs will soon dry up and the use of street gangs will be a public danger. We could close many prisons and reduce enforcement officers along with parole and probation officers.
The next thing we need to do is to write new legislation. Organized street gangs are already being broadly prosecuted as racketeering enterprises. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) should be amended to explicitly include street gangs with certain, severe prosecution of their leadership. Everyone knows who the leaders are and where they live. A good example of this is how authorities are currently going after the street gang MS–13.
According to the Associated Press, “The Obama administration declared the ultra-violent street gang MS–13 to be an international criminal group ….The aim is to freeze it out of the U.S. financial system and seize what are estimated to be millions of dollars in criminal profits from drug… and other crimes committed in this country”.
Let’s form a taskforce like the old “Untouchables.” Make them forfeit their assets, bust up their leadership and strongly police our banking system that plays along with some of the vast money laundering that is taking place. If we follow the money and clean up the inside corruption, we will begin to turn the tide. Imagine our nation becoming a populous of people living productive lives once again. Right now we are just seeing our cultures and neighborhoods slide into oblivion. It is not something so great that we cannot manage. Some common sense, a lot of courage and a taste of vision could change it around. God bless us.
(Harry C. Alford is co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Website: Email:

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