If the celebrity nightlife scene seems as giddy as ever and your favorite party girl remains quite chatty, you know why:
Cocaine is economical and plentiful in these here parts. And despite a build up of more than 40,000 of agents along the U.S.-Mexico border, bloody Latin American drug wars and the alleged rehab of Lindsay Lohan, the white stuff continues to flow.
So says a new study from Santa Monica think-tank RAND. The study's author, Peter Chalk, says:
American enforcement measures have had notable successes against the Latin American cocaine trade, but the effort has had little impact on the amount of illicit drugs that are reaching the United States.
RAND says Columbia remains the main producer of coke, Mexico is the main entry point, and that 80 percent of the drug comes here via "noncommercial maritime conveyance" -- e.g. boats. And it gets through pretty easily, it seems.
Drugs are now being smuggled in smaller shipments, which allows traffickers to spread the risk and creates new challenges for law enforcement. In the past, if a big shipment was intercepted, traffickers were out of drugs. Now if one shipment is caught, nine others will still get through.
L.A., of course, is a main hub of the powder.
Cartels, the RAND report says, " ... Work closely with street gangs, which have established an especially strong influence in Los Angeles."