Published March 1973 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Progress Noted in War on Drugs Not very long ago, experts were saying there was no way to halt the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, and no way to keep those drugs out of America's youth once the narcotics were smuggled into the country. Now, however, the dire predictions have turned to cautious optimism, and the reason for the change is easily seen. A get-tough policy that the federal government instituted against drug smugglers and pushers at the start of 1972 is beginning to show some measurable progress. The policy involves a many pronged attack against illegal drugs by a number of federal agencies, and is being coordinated by the newly formed Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement. 0 t h e r agencies involved include the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, the Internal Revenue Service's special antinarcotics unit, and the U.S. Customs Bureau. All told, these agencies were responsible for 15,640 drug arrests during Fiscal Year 1972, as against the 11,998 arrests made during the previous fiscal year. And what is most significant in these figures is the fact that those arrested were pushers and smugglers, and not mere users of dangerous drugs. In addition to those arrested, the agencies identified another 3,000 drug pushers. And, although enough evidence could not be gathered to put these pushers in jail, the identification and subsequent surveillance of the pushers have seriously hampered their illegal trafficking of drugs. The coordinated offensive against drug abuse has also shown positive results in the field of seizure of illegal drugs. Almost three tons of heroin-worth close to $2 billion- were seized during Fiscal Year 1972, as were 11,000 pounds of other "hard" drugs and nearly 100 tons of marijuana. And cooperation from foreign governments has been increasing; in Thailand alone, drugs valued at $231 million earmarked for the United States were seized in raids made by U.S. and Thai agents. All these signs are encouraging. They show that the government is going after the right people-the pushers and smugglers-in its war on drugs. But drug abuse continues to be a critical problem in the United States, and, as long as a single pusher or smuggler remains at large, the problem remains unsolved. The war on drugs must not only be continued; it must be accelerated.