U.S. SCOURGE SPREADS SOUTH OF THE BORDERA
SCOURGE SPREADS SOUTH OF THE BORDERA Written Final ProjectPresented toProfessor Larry HerzogSan Diego State UniversityMAS 355The U.S. Mexico International BorderbyLeo P. Dano Jr.December 02, 1996In a recent newspaper article written in the San Diego Union Tribunecalled U.S.
Scourge Spreads South. A very disturbing fact was opening drugdoors just south of our own community, which is why I chose to do an in depthstudy of the easiness of drug purchase in our southern neighbor. It’s not newnews but a overwhelming growth in the usage of drugs, especially Rohypnol.The Mexican border town called Tijuana across from San Diego,California, once was a famous as a playground for drunken sailors and collegestudents. Today, authorities on both sides of the border warn, it has turnedinto a gangland run by a growing number of ruthless cartels that sell drugs. Itis no longer just marijuana (pot), but a growing problem with other types ofdrugs like Heroin, Crystal Methamphetamine, and Cocaine.
I recently visited the neighbor city of Tijuana and rode in a Tijuanataxi and was immediately met with a taxi driver named Jose, a Tijuana taxidriver in an open-necked, baby blue silk shirt, he sizes up the touriststrudging off the footbridge from the United States. Taxi, sir? You wantpharmacy? I get you a good pharmacy, he urges, stepping from a line ofbeckoning taxi drivers in big belts and straw cowboy hats. Good prices! Noprescriptions! Do I look like I want drugs?!I didn’t even solicit thebusiness.
I almost felt weird because this is exactly what I was planning to domy paper on. Soon he is nosing his long yellow Oldsmobile through scruffystreets choked with pharmacies. I asked for Somas-a drug that gives the user afeeling of drunkenness without all the liquor, and illegal in the United States.In less than 45 minutes I was able to purchase the drug right over the counter.
Of course, I didn’t actually purchase the drug, but kindly told the pharmacythat his price was too high.This just goes to show you how easy it was to get an illegal drug just30 minutes from SDSU. And instead of being sold by gun-toting drug traffickers,it is available in much of Latin America with a doctor’s prescription–ofteneasily obtained. It appears to be crossing the U.
S. border via boomingpharmacies in cities such as Tijuana.The sudden popularity of the drug (Somas) has returned the spotlight toMexico’s border drugstores, which for years have done a thriving business withAmericans but have recently exploded in number with the Tijuana residents. Tijuana residents are nearly twice as likely to have used an illegal drug asMexicans nationwide.
Drugs are not only a problem with our poverty ridden society here inU.S., but with a lot of our middle to upper class are now being the focus ofdrug usage. In a recent news broadcast, Rancho Bernardo, Scripps Ranch, andother well to do communities are being hit with a heroin craze with our youths.I couldn’t believe people would actually want to stick a needle in their arm forjoy and pleasure.
It is no longer the sniff, smoking of drugs but a whole newtrend of slamming (using needles to induce a drug). Even the worldwide scare ofAids doesn’t keep the drug of heroin from society. Dirty needles also scar thearms of the heroin addict for life. At the municipal jail, inmates detainedthe night before for minor infractions such as loitering or fighting in publicpull up their sleeves and bare arms covered with needle tracks.Rohypnol is another nightmare for every parent in America which isanother easily obtained drug in the pharmacies in Tijuana. This is the drug alsoknown as the date-rape drug, which has been televised many of times.Butunlike heroin or cocaine, Rohypnol has a respected corporate manufacturer–theSwiss pharmaceutical giant F.
Hoffman-La Roche, which produces in Mexico City.There are so many American tourists buying drugs that Tijuana’s pharmacies havedoubled in the past five years and now number around 700.With their cheap, government-controlled prices, they have drawn tens ofthousands of Californians, often retirees, who snap up brand-name blood pressure,cholesterol and other medications, often saving 50% of more.
and thanks tolooser regulations, the pharmacies also readily sell drugs that are unavailableor require prescriptions in the United States, from Prozac to treatments forAids and cancer.On Tijuana’s Avenida Revolucion, a tourist strip where merchants hawkliquor and Cuban cigars amid the blare of mariachi music, bustling drugstoreswith names like Pharmacy America and New York Pharmacy ring up an average of$3000.00 in sales a day, a local Tijuana pharmacist said.While they lack hard proof, U.S. authorities have told the Mexicangovernment at a couple of meetings in the past month that they believe thepharmacies are selling Rohypnol to young Americans. Mexican officials say theyare cracking down.
Well, they say they are, but are they? With so muchgovernment corruption, especially in the city of Tijuana, you can only think ofhow much money is being made in this enterprise and who’s getting some kick-backs.My recent visit to Tijuana indicates that Rohypnol is still readilyavailable. It has become a revolving door doctor atmosphere. The U.S.
policefirst began to spot abuse of Rohypnol, the brand for drug flunitrazepam, in 1993.Although it has never been approved for use in the United States, the sleepingmedication is sold legally in 64 countries.But it wasn’t insomniacs who use the drug in Florida and Texas, whereRohypnol first became a problem. The small, inexpensive pills were popped byaddicts to heighten a heroin trip, or by teenagers who wanted to feel drunk.
Rock star Kurt Cobain overdosed on Rohypnol and champagne a month before killinghimself.The most widely know cases are that Rohypnol is blamed in numerous date-rape cases. Men allegedly have slipped it into their companions’ drinks,rendering them unconscious. Since the drug causes short-term memory loss, womenhave awakened confused and dishelved, only to learn that they have beenassaulted.The Drug Enforcement Agency says it has logged more than 2,400 criminalcases involving Rohypnol.
As it increasingly turns up in California,legislators are trying to establish prison terms for people possessing orselling the pills, nicknamed roofies. Last month, Florida put Rohypnol intothe same legal category as heroin and cocaine.Worried about the abuse, Hoffman-La Roche has slashed its Rohypnoldistributors in Mexico from 200 to 16 and said it hired a former DEA agent, whoestablished that there was no diversion from its Mexico City factory. The U.S.
authorities don’t see much of a let-up in the amount of Rohypnol from hittingthe streets.Even with recent actions, Rohypnol has become much tougher to obtain andsell, several drugstore owners said. Nonetheless, in a personal visit to 15pharmacies, I was able to find one willing to sell it over the counter. Otherssuggested nearby doctors who would provide a prescription. I went to nearbymedical office lined with oil paintings of Jesus, I filled out a brief formasking if I had ulcers or heart attacks.
At no point was I asked of my symptoms.A doctor with a white coat glanced at the form and asked what drug I wanted.Rohypnol, I replied. Each prescription is $25, he responded.
The visitlasted a brief 10 minutes. No comment on the exact location of the medicaloffice in order to protect my source of information.I took the prescription to one the Tijuana pharmacies and the price forRohypnol was $10. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration frowns on thepractice, there is nothing stopping Americans from buying most medicines fromMexican pharmacies.
U.S. Customs normally allows Americans to bring in a personal supply of prescription drugs-up to 90 days worth, to be declared a theborder. The average age of the consumer was around 34 (when I asked one of theUnited States Customs agents).
I feel the Rohypnol problem is fairly new inCalifornia, but also Californians may simply be stuffing the drug in tote bagsor pockets.Rohypnol is also apparently being smuggled to the United States fromColumbia, where Hoffman-La Roche has a plant. But what is turning up in Texasand California is from Mexico and appears to be coming through the pharmacies.The Haight Ashbury Clinics, a San Francisco group, recently conducted Hoffman-LaRoche- funded studies of Rohypnol in Florida and Texas.I made a recent phone call to the Los Angeles Police Department andfound out that the police officers were provide free kits to detect Rohypnol inurine.
In the state of Florida they use the kit to convict date-rapists.Here we have everything, and it’s very accessible, said SanjuanaCovarrubias, director of the Centros facility in Tijuana.Some U.S. officials would like even tougher action. Specifically, theDEA is pushing to have the sedative classified as a Schedule 1 drug, as Floridadid last month.
that permits prosecutors to seek sentences such as thoseimposed for selling heroin or cocaine.Currently, the drug flunitrazepam is classified in the United States asa schedule four drug, defined as substances with low potential for abuse andacceptable for medical use in the United States. When the drug is legallyadministered, it is used for the short-term treatment of insomnia and as a mildsedative. Rohypnol is marketed in one milligram and two milligrams varieties,with two milligrams being considered a heavy dose.During my research, I found that most of the people bringing the drugacross are very young aged, college students. All they have to do is fill out adeclaration form (which lists what they are bringing across the border).
The Office of National Drug Control Policy says the use of Rohypnol maylead to the development of physical and psychological dependence. The risk ofdependence increases with dose and duration and can be considered greater inpatients with histories of alcohol and drug abuse. One physical dependence hasdeveloped, abrupt termination of the drug will result in withdrawal symptomssuch as headaches, muscle pains, extreme anxiety, tension, confusion andirritability. Extreme cases of withdrawal may experience numbness and tinglingof the extremities, hypersensitivity to light and noise, convulsions andhallucinations. I believe that education on this drug and it’s effects need tobe addressed in the near future; if not now, because our youths are going tosuffer in the long run and so will out communities.
Rohypnol is very hard to detect and only one way to get a positivereading is to do a urine sample. Even this detection process is very costly,which means it is hard to prosecute because of this reason. You have to bespecifically trying to detect this type of drug in order to get a positivereading.In conclusion, it is very evident on the problem with drugs in theborder town of Tijuana.
I have identified the danger of drugs, easiness inobtaining drugs in Tijuana, U.S. side usage, Mexico side usage, Rohypnol,affects and side affects and finally the U.S. noticing the problem and taking astep to combat the drug. I feel that the United States is not well educated onthe problem with Rohypnol here in this country.
Most parents would never knowof such a drug existed, and especially the easiness of obtaining the drug. Imight have heard of the drug once being a student here at SDSU, but it existsand seems to be the hush-hush; lets keep it ourselves secret drug. We need totake a stand and get the media involved in this, so the parents of an unexpectedcasualty doesn’t have to hear about it from an autopsy report. The literatureand statistics are there, but finding it can be a different task at hand.Awar on drugs can’t be won unless we all take an active role in the cause!BIBLIOGRAPHYDibble, Sandra. U.
S. Scourge spreads South. The San Diego Union TribuneSunday, November 17, 1996.Trotta, Dan.
FEATURE-U.S.-Mexico border becomes fertile new killing ground.Reuters, October 24, 1996. Social Issues