Letters to the Editor

Big Smack Attack

Putting the cartel before the horse: After reading David Holthouse's "The Chiva Game," in the October 7 issue, about the illegal aliens selling heroin to the yuppies downtown, I just had to write in.

Holthouse worked diligently to make sure we understood that Enoc wasn't a bad guy, that he was just trying to feed his family back home. I am sure this rationalization could also have applied to the leaders of the Medellin drug cartel. Hey, they had families to feed, right? Selling drugs is illegal for a reason. Just because the yuppie junkies are ready and willing to gobble up heroin, that doesn't justify selling it to them.

I am also tired of the perpetuated myth that drug use is a victimless crime. This is simply not true. Maybe they aren't dying from heroin overdose in droves, but that's almost too bad -- because plenty of these losers also have families that depend on them. I feel sorry for their children. My parents were also pathetic junkies who held down careers but never had as much time for me as they did the needle.

As far as Delia goes, she is dumber than she is stoned. That B.S. about being in control is more of the same junkie dogma I have heard for years. How much control do you really have? Why don't you lay off for a day or two? Can you do it?

Rick Steves
via the Internet

Cleaning up downtown: I live near Skyline Park and walk past it every day. This area of downtown Denver is 99 percent free of drug dealers and their customers. Police commander Deborah Dilley and her officers have done a wonderful job. Thanks also to the watchful eyes of the security staffers in the numerous office buildings and to the employees at stores and restaurants. The Downtown Denver Business Improvement District organization and its purple-shirted cleaning crews have also helped. We now have a real neighborhood.

John Cassella

Street wise:"The Chiva Game" was a well-researched view into the heroin street scene. Many articles only manage to cover the surface issues or different points, but David Holthouse managed to bring out all the interesting aspects of selling and buying drugs, and from many perspectives.

Susan Cook
Asheville, North Carolina

No deal: Although I don't disagree with David Holthouse's account of the powerful incentives for poor immigrants to participate, even at a very low level, in the drug trade, his article doesn't adequately report the risks that they face. Under 18 USC 1326, someone deported for a drug-trafficking offense who returns to the U.S. faces up to twenty years in federal prison. Sentences of between 77 and 96 months are routine, depending on the individual's prior record. Moreover, even on a first drug-trafficking offense, the federal penalties for guys like Enoc can be stratospheric, if the quantity and/or purity is high enough. I have too many clients prosecuted in federal court who can't believe they face a minimum of ten years for making a couple-pound delivery on behalf of a supplier who knows better than to take the risk himself. And when that happens, their Prada-shod clientele just cycles through the neighborhood supply of dealers.

Cynthia Lie
Berkeley, California

An American tragedy: Westword is kind and sincere when it discusses illegal immigration. I know Westword has to try and show balance. However, sometimes too much emphasis is placed on illegal immigrants and their hardships, with very little emphasis on what this illegal invasion is doing to low-income American citizens, and the social unrest this country will harvest from this continued underclass that has no regard for the rule of law. So few people do not see the future; so few people even care about the future. One has to ask: Where have all the patriots gone? That's what is tragic in itself.

Jan Herron

The needle and the damage done: Thank you for David Holthouse's very informative article about heroin use in Denver. Although David mentioned HIV and injection-drug use, I was hoping to also see data about the rates of injection-drug use and hepatitis C. This dangerous virus, which is spread by contact with infected blood, is four times more common than HIV and very easily spread by sharing needles and other injection paraphernalia, like cookers or cottons, or by sharing straws while snorting drugs. It is estimated that injection-drug users have a 50 percent rate of hepatitis C infection if they have been injecting for more than six months, and 80 percent rates of infection after five years of injection -- a very serious public-health issue.

I appreciate your efforts to increase awareness about heroin use in our community and the fact that drug use affects people from all walks of life, race and ethnic group, age, etc. Keep up the great work.

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