Opa-locka on Bush Anti-Drug Tour

Opa-locka on Bush Anti-Drug Tour
Posted by FoM on September 10, 1999 at 13:31:38 PT
By Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo, Herald Staff Writer 
Source: Miami Herald
Opa-locka's Triangle, a small economically depressed neighborhood that has long been terrorized by drug dealers and drug-related violence, will be the final stop on Friday of a tri-city tour by Gov. Jeb Bush and the state's drug czar Jim McDonough touting a statewide strategy to reduce the scourge of drugs in Florida.
Opa-locka leaders believe the visit to the nine-block neighborhood will give them a needed boost in tackling a recalcitrant drug problem.Despite barricades erected in the city's Triangle 12 years ago to keep drug traffic out, and despite hundreds of thousands of dollars obtained to combat crime, drug sales have flourished. Drug users from as far north as Palm Beach County drive to the neighborhood to make their purchases.``The drug trade is an economic enterprise for the Triangle and this, of course, has made it difficult for families to live there and prosper,'' McDonough, director of the state Office of Drug Control, said Wednesday. Governor determined ``It's a threat to children and families. It's a deterrent to legitimate businesses. Gov. Bush doesn't plan to let that stand. If the community stands up and says, `No, we actually want legitimate businesses, economic growth plans, safe schools where are our children have potential for the future,' he's there to reinforce that statement. He's putting his money where his mouth is.'' Bush has promised to spend half a billion dollars next year to reduce drug use by 50 percent over five years. It's estimated that about 8 percent of the people in Florida -- compared to 6.2 percent nationwide -- use illegal drugs.Bush and McDonough will visit Orlando and St. Petersburg as well as Opa-locka on Friday to dramatize and reiterate a three-part Florida Drug Control Strategy to accomplish that goal: prevention and education, treatment and law-enforcement. In Opa-locka, the governor is expected to make more announcements about his ``holistic'' approach to fighting drugs, specifically law enforcement. Opa-locka Mayor Alvin Miller, who invited the state leaders in, welcomed the visit to the Triangle, which sits near State Road 9 between Northwest 22nd Avenue, 151st Street and Ali Baba Avenue.`A disease in our city' ``Those residents who live in the Triangle have been held hostage for so many years,'' said Miller, who is hoping the visits will mean the city can get funds to help combat the problem. ``Drugs are a disease in our city.''In 1998, Opa-locka, a 4.5-square-mile city, had 12 murders, many of which occurred in the Triangle.After the Drug Enforcement Agency last year arrested drug kingpin Rickey Brownlee, who based his $1 million-year operation in the neighborhood, a violent turf war erupted. Over a 10-year period Brownlee won loyalty and support in the starkly poor neighborhood by giving away money, food and toys. In August, Brownlee was convicted of conspiring to launder profits from drugs. He is expected to be sentenced to life in federal prison. But neighborhood leaders say little has changed. ``It seems like sometimes you're fighting a losing battle,'' said the Rev. Tyrone Jones, 44, minister of Church of God Triangle Hope Ministry. ``I welcome [the governor and czar]. It's so hard because a lot of families depend on that [drug money]. Pubdate: September 9, 1999Copyright 1999 Miami Herald Bush Hopes Anti-Drug Program Reduces Drug Use - 9/01/99
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