Americas war on drugs
The Drug War in Pictures
The neighborhood where I grew up in Dallas was beautiful. It had tree lined streets, a huge park with a lake and lots of flowers, a great place for taking pictures, and playing on the playground. It even had what to me back then was an awesome rocket slide. With the old style homes and friendly people, it was a great place to be as a kid. As the neighborhood grew many apartment complexes were built but they were very nice and very expensive.
As children me and my 8 other siblings had no fear of walking often at 9 or 10 at night to a friends house or home if we had been visiting. As a single parent, my mother wasn't worried about leaving me as the oldest, to care for the younger ones. I was probally about 10 to 13 years old. We grew up in the generation of what was called "latchkey kids". These were the kids whose parents worked and after school they came home to an empty house. We walked to the local 7-11, or to swim in the pools of the new apartments, or to our friends houses. We also walked to and from school, elementary and junior high, all the way to high school. It was a friendly neighborhood where everyone knew everyone else on the surrounding streets, and everyone looked out for everyone else.
Going to the park was a treat we looked forward to. We always stayed away from the brick enclosed patio where the picnic tables were located. The bad boys and girls were always uner there and it always had a funny smell coming from it. It was in the 70's. The era of bell bottom pants and halter tops, peace sign necklaces and long hair on boys and girls. The funny smell from the patio was marijuana. I knew what a "joint" looked like but having been sheltered and busy taking care of my brothers and sisters, It never enticed me into trying it. Only hoodlums smoked "weed." I was a good girl, well most of the time, and spent my time reading and talking to my girlfriends on the telephone. Those were the good times, a time of innocence and when most children still had respect for their parents. Rock and roll was the preferred music and children were safe in bed by 10pm. The only time I ever got into trouble was for talking my little brother into skipping school and hanging out at the park. We got busted by the truant officer and after he called our aunt to pick us up, we got a sound spanking by my uncle.
As the eighties came onto the scene, the neighborhood I knew as a child began to change. For one it became diverse. Caucasian, Hispanic and afro-americans all mixed in the area. I didn't mind, I was facinated by the different cultures, I had friends from all races, learned different types of music, turned twenty and got my own place. The disco phase from the 70's was still popular as the music of Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson and Def Lepoard. I went out with my friends to the clubs and now without a curfew, often partied till the early morning hours. It would become the "Cocaine era." My neighborhood was changing in other ways too. The innocence was slowly disappearing. The style went from bell bottoms to mini-skirts and hotpants. The boys under the park patio no longer smoked joints, instead always sniffiling and rubbing their noses. They were a different type of boys now. Rougher, more haggard and meaner. Police patrol the park I used used to love so much and I stopped going there. During this time there were increasing assualts ,rapes, and murders. Several home invasions resulting in loss of property and other crimes against persons were now common. No longer did we keeo the curtains open or leave the door unlocked. There were other changes going on in the neighbohood. The nice apartments that had been built were detiorating due to neglect as the owners sold them to slumlords. The slumlords in return rented them to persons who couldnot pass rental checks or didn't want to show I.D. They were taken over by the poor who could not afford anything better, the prostitutes and the drug dealers. Standing out front out the apartments they plied their trade, invisible to the police, and feared by the other residents. Many of the older homes once so elegant now had been split into four plexes that turned into drug liars. Drive-by shootings became a common occurence. Children no longer played in the yards or walked to and from school without parents. Gangs became prominent and street crimes increased to an all time high. My neighborhood no longer existed. But he worst was yet to come. The king was coming.
The 1990's were basically the same. The area continued to detioiorate. The apartments were now around $325.00 to 500.00 a month with all bills paid. Anyone could get a cellphone, prepaid, untraceable and the King was about to bust hell wide open. During the end of the 80's and throughout the nineties, a new drug hit the streets it's name was "CRACK". A smokeable form of cocaine so addictive it quickly took the place of powerded cocaine, methamphetamine and other street drugs. The crime rate soared as those who quickly became addicted to its euraphoic high robbed, killed, and assualted to aqquire the money for their next hit. Crack at first seemed like the poor mans drug because it can be bought in $5,10,20,or 50 dollar rocks. It seems cheap at first but the high only lasts 10-20 minutes, the the person is looking for money to score their next hit. It is possible for a person to go through several hundred dollars in a matter of an hour or so. The addicted user will rob, kill, assualt, sell their possessions of those of other to obtain the money to fund their habit. Many women hang out in the apartmentsand houses, called "CRACK HOUSES" where it is sold, performing sexual acts on the males who come to buy, selling their bodies for a $5.00 piece of posion. To make crack, the powered cocaine is cooked in a mixture of baking soda or other ingredients that form a hard rock like substance, which is then cut into smaller pieces and sold. It is the cheapest form of cocaine sold, but it is by far more potent than any other drug to hit the streets. When smoked it hits the brain immediately, causing a europhoric feeling, but also can cause paranoia, delusions, and erratic behavior. It can also cause heart attacks, heart arrythmias, strokes due to an increase in blood pressure and death. This is possible with even a firt time user.
It is now 2009 almost 2010. I still live in Dallas. A few streets down from where I was raised. But it is no longer my neighborhood. I don't go outside alone or after dark, my son is picked up and taken to school, things have changed. The prostitutes still walk the streets making money for their habits or those of their man. The addicts don't have to risk going out to buy the dealers now deliver free of charge. The buildings are decaying and falling down. The people, addicted, poor and broken pass on the streets. Young boys on bicycles, hired by the dealers called "Good Eyes " look out for the police and radio with walkie talkies if the police are approching. Everyday the newspaper is filled with notices of crimes, murders, robberies, assualts and a woman selling her child for prostituion, the child 5 was later beaten to death by the man who bought her for sex. Everywhere the effects of the King can be seen in what used to be my hometown. Everything is different now.
CRACK IS KING!!!!
A Neighborhood Update
The sound of the ambulance screaming so near awakened me from a deep sleep. What now I thought..another shooting, domestic disturbance or police raid gone bad. I tried to go back to sleep but the commotion was so loud it was impossible. From the lights flashing through my window and the proximity of the voices I could tell they were next door. I got dressed and went outside to join the throng of neighbors assembled on the sidewalk, quiet, curious and waiting.
We didn't have to wait long. The paramedics rolled their bed outside, the form on it covered with a blue sheet from head to toe. They were followed by the police who escorted 6 persons in handcuffs. The still blue form was wheeled into the ambulance and it drove away. The police car with the other 6 also left. The remaining car called for a backup unit with a canine. The house was soon surrounded by police, a hazmat team and DEA. They stayed until late into the morning, as the sun began to rise everyone finally went inside.
The house a well reputed drug house was finally shut down. Tony Romero. 18 years old was dead. He was a good student and an all around well liked kid. Tony died from a heart attack. Lately he had started hanging around with new friends, a different crowd than he usually ran with. This was his first visit to the blue house. It was also his first time trying crack. At his friends urging he took the pipe and lit the small whitish colored rock on the end. The flame crackled and died. Tony collapsed to the floor in a heap, the lighter still in his hand. He died from cardiac arrest caused by a sudden high spike in blood pressure. By the time the ambulance arrived it was already too late. He had died instantly upon inhaling the potent fumes. Another statistic from the hood.
Elena Martinez 14, was found sitting in a chair on her parents front porch, the paramedics and coroner said she had been dead for at least 12 hours. Her body was discovered by her mother while retrieving the paper that morning. She had stayed out with friends that night not coming home or calling. Elena died from a "cheese" overdose. After snorting the deadly mixture, Elena went into respiratory arrest. Her friends, afraid to call the police or an ambulance, waited until late into the night and put her body in a rocking chair on the front porch of her house to be discovered by her mother that morning. I can only imagine the horror she must have felt upon finding her child like some piece of discarded trash. From a good family and also a good student, Elena will also soon be just another statistic, forgotten and replaced by the next death caused by the wide array and availability of illegal drugs in this neighborhood.
Cheese is made from black tar herion smuggled in from Mexico and Tylenol PM, a sleep aid. The two are crushed together into a crumbly mix resembling cheese, thus the name. Cheese began to appear in our neighborhood and schools about two years ago. It was where it appeared that shocked even the most hardened policemen. The string of deaths that would follow would leave families destroyed and asking how, and why. It was first discovered in the elementary schools, its target audience the very youngest. It is packaged in small striped straws resembling the pixie straws I bought in my childhood. The pixie straws were filled with kool-aid, the cheese straws are filled with posion. The death of a 9 year old was the first, followed by a continous stream reaching 47 in a year. the ages ranged from 7 to 15. The ages of the dealers were the same as the victims. The victims are introduced to the drug free the first one or two times, they are soon hooked. Then the price is $ 2.00 to $ 4.00, easily obtainable by the young children at school. The drug is packaged by the dealers who employ these small children to introduce it to their friends and then sell it to them. The children easily become hooked and continue to purchase to stop the severe cravings from withdrawal. Though the amount of the drug is small it is sufficent to stop respiratory function in the child. This drug has reached epidemic proportions among the elementary students in 2 through 5th grades in my neighborhood and others around it. Though more prevelant in the poorer neighborhoods it has no boundaries and takes all who indulge prisoner. The death rate continues to soar.
To prevent this epidemic from reaching my family and bringing tragedy I have gone to the meetings sponsored by the Dallas Police Department at the school my 8 year attends. I watch for the signs, sluggishness, bleary eyed, slurred speech and other signs that appear such as appearing to be sleepy all the time, or appearing to be drunk. I search his room, his backpack, and anywhere else or thing that drugs could be concealed. Taking it one step further, I purchase the over the counter drug test and random test twice a month. It gives me a sense of security...no matter how small. The $ 13.00 is a small price to pay for the life of a child.
The blue house sits empty now, but the business will only move down a few blocks or streets and reopen somewhere else. The dealers will still deal, the addicts will still buy and the tragedies like those above will continue to occur. There is much publicity on the war on drugs but to me the fight is not in mexico or some other foregin country, but right here in my own front yard.