6               NATIONAL HEROIN CONFERENCE




        10                   Keynote Address by

        11               Attorney General Janet Reno




        15               Wednesday, February 5, 1997

        16                       12:30 p.m.








         1                  P R O C E E D I N G S

         2               MR. CONSTANTINO:  The Attorney

         3     General has adjusted her schedule in that the

         4     difficulty yesterday in the office, they lost

         5     one of their employees, which was a fairly

         6     young woman who had a heart attack and was

         7     close to the Attorney, which, I think, has

         8     obviously placed a strain on the schedule in

         9     dealing with the families and wakes and all

        10     that.  It's always dangerous, I think, to

        11     introduce your own boss.

        12                    (Laughter)

        13               MR. CONSTANTINO:  If you don't do it

        14     right you will feel uncomfortable.  If you're

        15     too flattering, it looks like a self-serving

        16     introduction.

        17                    (Laughter)

        18               MR. CONSTANTINO:  Given the two

        19     choices I allot for the latter.

        20                    (Laughter)

        21               MR. CONSTANTINO:  But what I say

        22     comes from the heart, I've said it before.  If


         1     there's a person with class and integrity and

         2     character that I know of, it is the Attorney

         3     General of the United States.

         4               I've watched her again and again in

         5     very difficult circumstances where it will be

         6     easy for her to say something that wouldn't be

         7     correct or warrant decision-making.  And in

         8     each and every one of those occasions I have

         9     been impressed by her courage, and always

        10     wondered whether or not, if I was placed in the

        11     same circumstances, I would have had the same

        12     reaction which she's had the strength to have.

        13               For those of you who work in law

        14     enforcement, it's really -- especially the

        15     state and local government -- you should know

        16     that virtually every two weeks both myself and

        17     a senior member of my staff meet with the

        18     Attorney General as does the record (inaudible)

        19     and alternating case.

        20               At probably, at least 80 percent of

        21     those meetings, an issue is arrived at whereas

        22     the Attorney General has been off in the United


         1     States and has seen something that she is

         2     impressed with or concerned about and wants to

         3     find some way that she can bring a reaction on

         4     the part of the Justice Department and, in our

         5     case, specifically the DEA.

         6               The other thing I'll tell you that we

         7     couldn't do any of these things, hold any of

         8     these conferences or run any of the enforcement

         9     programs if it wasn't for budget support.  And

        10     all of you know that, who work in law

        11     enforcement.  She has been a tiger in fighting

        12     for all of the budget enhancements that have

        13     been essential to DEA.

        14               So we're really beyond the

        15     (inaudible) to just carry out a lot of those

        16     philosophical, practical judgments that are set

        17     for us.  And with that I hope I have found the

        18     right balance between the two, and, Attorney

        19     General, it's now up to you.

        20                    (Applause)

        21               ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Thank you,

        22     Tom.


         1               I just appreciate what you do day in

         2     and day out.  And what all of you do.  I have

         3     just -- as I came I recognized faces that I

         4     have gotten to know and others that I've known

         5     for a long time, and I just appreciate your

         6     efforts on behalf of the American people.  And

         7     I want you to know that.

         8               For this conference Tom has brought

         9     together representatives of federal, state and

        10     local law enforcement, prosecutorial demand

        11     reduction agencies and members of

        12     nongovernmental organizations, to respond with

        13     a threat facing our communities by the growing

        14     supply and consumption of heroin.

        15               Prosecutors aren't going to win this

        16     battle by themselves.  DEA isn't going to win

        17     the battle by itself.  The local police

        18     department is not going to win.  The only way

        19     you're going to do this is by coming together,

        20     not just in conferences such as this, but in

        21     our daily operations, unconcerned about perks,

        22     unconcerned about credit, but one common goal


         1     that is, the best way to stem the growth of

         2     this problem in this country.  And I want to do

         3     everything I can to be a partner with you in

         4     that effort.

         5               Recent trends in heroin's

         6     availability, purity and price clearly indicate

         7     that this is one of the most critical problems

         8     we face in fighting narcotics in this country

         9     today.

        10               Worldwide production of heroin has

        11     increased drastically.  It is more plentiful on

        12     our streets.  It's, on average, five to six

        13     times more pure than a decade ago.  And it's

        14     less expensive.

        15               A formula that has increased heroin

        16     addiction for our country by 20 percent and

        17     brought about the usual parade of terrible

        18     results:  Violence, theft, despair, neglect and

        19     abuse of our children.  And now, more

        20     frequently then ever before, death.

        21               Now is the time to act, to develop a

        22     comprehensive plan to this nation.  It is time


         1     to develop enforcement and prevention

         2     strategies together before we have this demon

         3     totally out of control.

         4               Historically, heroin use and abuse

         5     has been consigned to the margins of our

         6     society.  Even in the 1960's, when large parts

         7     of mainstream America experimented with drugs,

         8     heroin was generally feared and refused to

         9     carry the stigma which set it apart from other

        10     drugs.

        11               Since then a stable addict population

        12     of about half a million people grew older, and

        13     through few new recruits, heroin consumption

        14     remained relatively constant throughout the 70s

        15     and the 80s because of lower availability,

        16     poorer quality and higher street prices, caused

        17     in large part by law enforcement pressure and

        18     then by the emergence of crack and cocaine.

        19               The predominate trend in America

        20     since the excesses of the 60's and the 70's has

        21     been an overall decrease in drug use.  Today an

        22     estimated six percent of Americans have used


         1     illicit drugs within the last month.  Less than

         2     half of the 14 percent in 1979.

         3               But heroin has not followed that

         4     trend.  It is now being supplied in greater

         5     quantity, higher purity; it's being purchased

         6     by a growing number of users and addicts.

         7     Within the last few years the number of addicts

         8     has increased from 500,000 people in the 1970's

         9     and 1980's to approximately 600,000 heroin

        10     addicts today.

        11               For more and more drug users it is

        12     replacing crack and cocaine as the drug of

        13     choice.  And for others it is being used in

        14     conjunction with those drugs to enhance their

        15     highs and to relieve their aftereffects.

        16               The expanding number of users in the

        17     United States has been propelled in large part

        18     by an increase in the purity of heroin sold on

        19     our streets.  A trend which not only reflects

        20     heroin's increased availability, but it has

        21     broadened its allure and potential users.

        22               Expanded availability of heroin


         1     worldwide and the competition for greater

         2     market share among producers and distributors

         3     has reduced the need for heroin dealers to

         4     dilute their product to satisfy the market

         5     demand.

         6               Ten years ago heroin street level

         7     purity averaged 7 percent.  But since 1988 it

         8     has increased more than five-fold to an average

         9     purity of between 35 and 40 percent.

        10               Higher purity heroin has enabled

        11     users to administer the drug through

        12     alternatives to injection, like inhaling or

        13     snorting, which are less efficient methods and

        14     capable of producing substantial euphoric

        15     effects at lower purity levels.

        16               The availability of snorting has

        17     attracted many new users, especially in the

        18     Northeast, where street purities regularly top

        19     50 percent are highly conducive to this method.

        20               Snorting not only circumvents the

        21     stigma traditionally associated with needles,

        22     and eliminates the direct risk of contracting


         1     AIDS and other communicable diseases in

         2     contaminated syringes, but it also fosters the

         3     mistaken view held by some that it is less

         4     addicting than injection.

         5               Indeed, snorting heroin is as

         6     addicting as injection, and may just as likely

         7     result in that fatal overdose.

         8               Snorting heroin is also unlikely to

         9     the lesson the drugs practiced consequences.

        10     Many addicts will continue to contract AIDS

        11     from prostitution, which the history of the

        12     crack epidemic teaches us, is a common method

        13     to finance a drug habit.

        14               And many users will more likely

        15     return to more efficient methods, like an

        16     injection, to boost their drug-induced stupors.

        17     As a result of increased street-level purities

        18     and the rising popularity of snorting, heroin

        19     consumption has become more widespread in

        20     mainstream society.

        21               More and more of middle class and

        22     working class teenagers, young adults in


         1     suburban residences with otherwise bright

         2     futures, are joining the older, long-term users

         3     who have more recently (inaudible) the addict

         4     population.

         5               Unless we do something now, we can

         6     expect this trend and it's consequences to

         7     continue and to become one of the most critical

         8     crises we face in the area of narcotics

         9     enforcement.

        10               If we do not counteract the heroin

        11     threat now, we risk repeating the terrible

        12     consequences of the 1980's cocaine and crack

        13     epidemic.

        14               I remember as it started to become

        15     epidemic, I just wish that in those days in the

        16     80's we had the opportunity to come together to

        17     find out what was happening in communities

        18     across the nation, to share intelligence and to

        19     develop a comprehensive plan, that together, we

        20     can spend this time before it becomes

        21     ingrained.

        22               Heroin and other illegal drugs exact


         1     a tremendous toll on society, both financially

         2     and morally.  The economic costs alone are

         3     absolutely staggering.  We spend billions of

         4     dollars annually to combat drug-related crime,

         5     to cure the illnesses related to drug abuse and

         6     to compensate for productivity losses in our

         7     workplace.

         8               But the other costs, the ones that

         9     stir our sense of true moral outrage, are the

        10     human costs.  Childhood essence lost in

        11     drive-by shootings.  Infants who are addicted

        12     to drugs.  School children of course place a

        13     higher premium on survival then on education,

        14     and their decadence and their misery are

        15     engulfing larger and larger segments of our

        16     population.

        17               The increase in heroin use and purity

        18     has also spawned a substantial increase in the

        19     number of users seen in hospital emergency

        20     rooms.  The Drug Abuse Warning Network, which

        21     helps people treated for drug-related problems

        22     and hospital emergency departments, estimates


         1     that 76,000 people sought emergency treatment

         2     for heroin-related problems in 1995, more than

         3     double the estimated 34,000 in 1990.  Heroin

         4     overdoses bring a tragic end to nearly 4,000

         5     lives each year.

         6               AIDS, the prevalent disease among the

         7     injection users and drug addicts who finance

         8     their habit through prostitution, has become a

         9     common and especially anguishing cause of death

        10     among heroin addicts and users.

        11               At times it seems that society's

        12     awareness of these costs and the dangers of

        13     illicit drug use has decreased.  A disturbing

        14     number of heroin-related deaths and arrests

        15     have occurred among the prominent entertainers,

        16     underscoring an image problem among those who

        17     young people often seek to emulate.

        18               I congratulate those members in the

        19     entertainment industry who are addressing these

        20     problems, and I commend their efforts to fight

        21     drugs and violence in this country.

        22               Unfortunately, heroin's allure has


         1     broadened at the same time that the drug's

         2     presence in cult culture has risen.  Many of

         3     those who are best positioned in our society to

         4     influence young people's attitudes have been

         5     sending the wrong message, or no message at

         6     all.

         7               The recent rash of talented young

         8     lives snuffed by heroin, and prominent people

         9     arrested for heroin use, suggest the drug may

        10     have acquired a dangerous new cache in some

        11     entertainment circles.

        12               A tacit acceptance of heroin is

        13     reflected not only by the prominent users'

        14     actions and the pervasiveness of drug entry in

        15     film, fashion and music, but by the apparent

        16     willingness of some of the entertainment

        17     industry to condone rather than to condemn its

        18     use.

        19               Those from the industry who have

        20     joined us this week are representative of so

        21     many in the field who know that substantial

        22     progress in curtailing America's drug problem


         1     will not come about unless people under 20, who

         2     are more likely than any other age group to

         3     begin using drugs and are more susceptible to

         4     messages in the meaning from the celebrities,

         5     receive a clear and unequivocal message from

         6     all corners that heroin usage is dangerous and

         7     it is wrong.

         8               The recent spate of deaths and

         9     arrests undermines this message, making it

        10     harder for children to say no when so many

        11     influential role models say yes.

        12               An unequivocal message from

        13     Government and private industry on the perils

        14     of the illegal drugs is especially important

        15     now that heroin is in the position to become

        16     our next major epidemic.

        17               Demand reduction through education

        18     and treatment is crucial to keeping people off

        19     drugs in the first place, and to breaking the

        20     cycle of crime and addiction among drug users.

        21               But such a limited strategy, without

        22     strong law enforcement, will not deter the


         1     hardcore users and the traffickers who stand

         2     ready to exploit any demand, especially now

         3     that the enormous global heroin supply has the

         4     potential to overwhelm current treatment and

         5     prevention efforts.

         6               In this respect, a strong law

         7     enforcement establishment encompassing federal,

         8     state and local jurisdictions, and a link to an

         9     efficient, effective intelligence-gathering

        10     apparatus is essential.

        11               The recent trend in heroin's

        12     availability, purity and consumption point to

        13     the urgency of our tasks.  Without an effective

        14     nationwide enforcement strategy, we will be

        15     overcome by trafficking organizations that are

        16     more sophisticated and more elusive than ever

        17     before.  They are poised to exploit every crack

        18     and fissure in our enforcement system, and we

        19     must be prepared to respond.

        20               The effect of such a strategy must

        21     take into account several features of the

        22     heroin crave that presents unique obstacles to


         1     law enforcement.  Unlike cocaine and other use

         2     of drugs, the bulk of the world's heroin supply

         3     is produced in countries that are particularly

         4     immune to the United States' influence,

         5     particularly Burma and Afghanistan, making

         6     cooperation to source countries difficult.

         7               Moreover, since a relatively small

         8     percentage of the total worldwide heroin supply

         9     is actually consumed in the United States,

        10     large seizures in this country are likely to

        11     have a relatively smaller effect on the

        12     worldwide heroin market then a similar seizure

        13     of cocaine would have on the cocaine market.

        14               Heroin's price structure also tends

        15     to favor traffickers over law enforcement by

        16     allowing drug trafficking organizations to

        17     profit from the relatively -- from the

        18     smuggling of relatively small quantities.

        19               Although heroin and cocaine prices

        20     are comfortable, on the street level, heroin

        21     offers a substantially larger profit margin on

        22     the wholesale level.  Heroin is best being


         1     moved in much smaller quantities than cocaine,

         2     but still realizes the same financial windfall,

         3     making it easier to conceal and ensuring that

         4     seizures and arrests large enough to disrupt

         5     the overall heroin market will be in treatment.

         6               Perhaps as a result of heroin's price

         7     advantage, many South American cocaine

         8     trafficking organizations are now distributing

         9     heroin.  In the last three years, South

        10     American heroin has accounted for a

        11     progressively larger proportion of the

        12     substance seized in this country.

        13               And South American organizations,

        14     with their very aggressive marketing tactics,

        15     have begun to cultivate extensive heroin

        16     clientele.  These organizations are attracting

        17     new addicts by offering reduced prices and

        18     increased periods, thereby ensuring themselves

        19     a significant long-term market share.

        20               The upsurge in South American heroin

        21     reaching our shores represents an especially

        22     serious threat because of the proximity and


         1     production potential of South American producer

         2     countries and the extensive trafficking

         3     resources controlled by South American

         4     organizations.

         5               Mexican organizations which also

         6     control substantial trafficking resources

         7     continue to supply large amounts of black tar

         8     and brown heroin in the rest of the United

         9     States.

        10               In the law enforcement arena we are

        11     building effective federal, state and local

        12     partnerships, and multi-agency task forces, as

        13     well as working to secure the cooperation of

        14     source-country governments.

        15               I cannot stress to you how important

        16     it is that the federal agencies that I

        17     represent do everything they can to be a

        18     partner with those of you who are out on the

        19     front line in state and local law enforcement.

        20               Many of you know my background as

        21     that other state prosecutor.  It is so

        22     important for me that you let me know about any


         1     occasion that I can do anything that promotes,

         2     that enhances, that encourages that cooperation

         3     and that partnership.  A two-way exchange of

         4     information, not just one-way.

         5               A recognition that, in some

         6     instances, the case is better prosecuted in

         7     state court and some instances it's better

         8     prosecuted in federal court.

         9               We need to do things not based on who

        10     get's the credit, but who can take the most

        11     effective step in stemming this surge of

        12     heroin.

        13               So, my telephone number is 514-2002.

        14                    (Laughter)

        15               If there are problems, let me know.

        16     Somebody said, "Well, you're too busy."  I

        17     think most people in this room will know that

        18     I'm not too busy to get back to you to

        19     follow-up to make sure that we're doing

        20     everything we can to be a partner.

        21               We give higher priority and more

        22     resources to heroin investigations.  Especially


         1     in gateway cities like New York and Miami,

         2     where a significant amount of heroin enters our

         3     country.

         4               We must also develop effective

         5     prosecution strategies that ensure heroin

         6     traffickers receive stiff penalties, that their

         7     money launderers are identified and prosecuted,

         8     and that they are denied the benefit of their

         9     ill-gotten gains.

        10               We want to reach out to other federal

        11     agencies to make sure that there are no turf

        12     battles.  And in money laundering

        13     investigations we want to be a partner, work

        14     together, ensure the exchange of information,

        15     follow patterns and trends that lead us to the

        16     sources where we can truly take effective

        17     action without regard of who gets the credit,

        18     but with regard with who get's the money

        19     launderer.

        20               The heroin market has the

        21     vulnerability to be exploited.  It is the

        22     exceptionally high-level superiority which has


         1     been largely responsible, as I noted

         2     previously, for the upsurge in use.

         3               The last 10 years have demonstrated

         4     that heroin purity is closely related to its

         5     availability.  As I have noted, the rise in

         6     street-level purities has enabled users to

         7     administer the drug through less efficient but

         8     more popular alternatives.

         9               And effective enforcement strategy

        10     that reduces the amount of heroin reaching our

        11     shores could, by forcing lower purities, have

        12     the simultaneous effect of reducing both supply

        13     and demand.

        14               At the same time that we disrupt the

        15     heroin retail enterprises, we must also devote

        16     resources to education and treatment to provide

        17     users and addicts the capacity and the

        18     incentive to overcome their drug problem.

        19               Current treatment programs can become

        20     even more effective if we link them more

        21     closely to the criminal justice system's unique

        22     ability to coerce participation.  I call it the


         1     good old fashioned carrot-and-stick approach.

         2     It makes sense and it works if we back up what

         3     we've said.

         4               Although our nation's drug abuse

         5     problem is not as severe as it was in the

         6     1970's, and during the height of the cocaine

         7     and crack epidemic in the 80's, the problem is

         8     still a very serious one for this nation.

         9               The challenge before us is to reduce

        10     the distribution and consumption of illegal

        11     drugs, and to not be lured into the complacency

        12     by the gains we have made in the previous

        13     decades.

        14               It is this latter problem,

        15     complacency, that I would like to close with.

        16     Despite rising budgets for counterdrug

        17     agencies, our national attention seems to have

        18     become diverted from the problem at hand.

        19               There has been a large decrease in

        20     the number of public service announcements

        21     available in the last years that have dealt

        22     with the dangers of illicit drugs.


         1               Our children's disapproval of drugs

         2     and knowledge of their dangerous consequences

         3     have decreased through the 1990's.  Indeed,

         4     young people exhibit an increased fascination

         5     for drug use.

         6               Many people now see drug use less as

         7     an abhorrent behavior than as a prominent and

         8     moral part of the times.  As a result, our

         9     children have begun to use illegal drugs,

        10     alcohol and tobacco in greater numbers in the

        11     last six years.

        12               We can reduce the distribution and

        13     the consumption of heroin and other illicit

        14     drugs if we maintain and resolve and allocate

        15     our limited resources very carefully, and in a

        16     comprehensive effort combining all aspects of

        17     law enforcement.

        18               We are a great nation with a

        19     tremendous capacity for resolute action and

        20     creative problem-solving.  It has been so

        21     impressive for me to have a chance to travel

        22     across this nation and see what police


         1     departments and sheriff's offices are doing,

         2     what federal agencies are doing in working in

         3     partnership with them.

         4               The focus on involvement.  The focus

         5     on the major organization to take it out and to

         6     keep it out.  Law enforcement in these last

         7     five years has proved we can be effective if we

         8     give them the tools to do the job.

         9               But law enforcement has also shown

        10     that, to be effective, we must not only have

        11     the tools to do the law enforcement part of it,

        12     we must have the tools to do the education,

        13     prevention and treatment part of it as well.

        14               We cannot afford to be complacent.

        15     If we let the genie out of the bottle by

        16     scaling back our efforts or by ignoring the

        17     problem, our country will pay an enormous

        18     economic and moral cost.  And it is neither a

        19     benevolent genie nor an easy one to squeeze

        20     back into the bottle.

        21               The decline in drug abuse in the last

        22     20 years demonstrates that effective


         1     enforcement, treatment and prevention can and

         2     does reduce our drug problem.

         3               We will succeed here this week and in

         4     the weeks and months and years to come if we

         5     can raise some measure of national

         6     consciousness as to the current threat posed by

         7     heroin.

         8               We also note that this conference

         9     will contribute to the develop of a national

        10     heroin strategy that can truly be effective in

        11     combatting this blooming problem.

        12               I am confident, based on what Tom has

        13     told me of the progress of this meeting today

        14     that, with your experience, your professional

        15     excellence and your dedication during the

        16     remainder of this conference, and as we work

        17     together in the weeks and months to come, that

        18     we can articulate and implement an effective

        19     solution diverting in this nation our heroin

        20     crisis.

        21               Just let me tell once again how much

        22     I admire you:  The federal agencies represented


         1     here, state and local officials, treatment

         2     professionals; those who understand how

         3     important it is to come together and look at

         4     the problem in a common sense way and then do

         5     something about it.

         6               On behalf of all the people in this

         7     nation I thank you so much for all that you do.

         8                    (Applause)

         9                    (End of Address)

        10                      *  *  *  *  *