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  1. Alfa
    BIG BUSINESS

    You know a criminal enterprise is highly profitable when law enforcers are
    muscling in on the business. Lawmen have been implicated in kidnapping for
    ransom as well as robberies of banks and armored vans. And their involvement
    in drug trafficking has been one of the biggest stumbling blocks in every
    administration's anti-drug campaign.

    The problem needs to be tackled with a firm hand as the government announces
    an intensified campaign against drug trafficking. Public officials must
    wonder why confiscated drugs are being pilfered right inside the storerooms
    of law enforcement agencies. Sometimes the amount of drugs confiscated
    shrinks significantly in transit from the site of a drug bust to the police
    station. Who pilfers the drugs, and where do the stolen items end up? Such
    pilferage can happen only with the connivance or direct participation of law
    enforcers themselves. In one raid in Cavite, the suspected pilferer was a
    ranking police officer. The man remains a member of an anti-narcotics unit.

    Public officials must also wonder why notorious drug dealers keep eluding
    arrest during police raids and sting operations. When drug dealers do get
    caught, they manage to escape from jail - even from supposedly well-secured
    detention centers at Camp Crame, headquarters of the Philippine National
    Police.

    A recent report said drug traffickers are earning billions selling their
    products to an estimated 1.8 million drug abusers around the country. The
    drug abusers consume an average of 108,000 kilos of shabu each year, the
    report said. At a street price of about P2,000 per gram, that's P216 billion
    a year for drug traffickers. Such figures can be irresistible to crooked law
    enforcers.

    Authorities report that at least 249 police personnel have been dismissed or
    are facing criminal and administrative charges for involvement in the
    illicit drug trade. But that figure could be just a drop in the bucket.
    Authorities may keep confiscating piles of shabu for presentation to
    President Arroyo and the press. Unless the lawmen protecting this big
    business are purged, however, shabu and other prohibited drugs will continue
    to flood the country.

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