In most cities, residents would be happy if 30 people were arrested for selling crack, cocaine, marijuana and firearms in their neighborhood.
But not in Ferriday, La.
Instead, some residents in the neighborhood are livid, saying the arrests are making it harder for them to sell their own drugs.
"You have to realize, we don't have no jobs around here or nothing," Derrick Brown told KALB.com. "Every time we try to make a little something to get on our feet or try to feed our family they come kicking the doors in and knocking us back down again."
All 30 arrests came Friday in Ferriday -- a town of 3,723 people most famous for being the birthplace of rocker Jerry Lee Lewis -- after a yearlong joint investigation called Delta Blues involving federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
The investigation, which targeted a local gang called the Sixth Street Boys, led to the seizure of 8 oz. of crack cocaine, a half kilo of powdered cocaine, 20 lbs. of marijuana, as well as firearms, currency and three vehicles, according to the Natchez Democrat.
Concordia Parish Sheriff Randy Maxwell told the Natchez Democrat that the operation was a huge success and that he was glad to see longtime dealers off the streets.
“It was a great success and the reason was because of the great cooperation with all of the agencies,” Maxwell said. “We got a lot of the big time players and longtime dealers in the parish.”
KALB.com reporter Brooke Buford said on air that she was surprised by Brown's reaction to the bust, but former narcotics cop Neill Franklin, the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition said this is old news to anyone familiar with the drug war.
"[Brown] made so much sense," Franklin told the Huffington Post. "This is an economic issue. In communities like these, there is no opportunity for employment or education. These people have to make money to buy food and pay bills. If there are no jobs, what do you expect they'll do?" The LEAP organization works to advocate for effective drug policies.
Ferriday Mayor Glen McGlothin told The Huffington Post that Buford's piece didn't tell the full story, but adds, "I would like to think that's because she is young."
"There are lots of people who are happy about the drug bust, but they are people who believe in law and order and were scared because of all the drugs."
He said that the people who are complaining that the only jobs available involve selling drugs don't see that they are part of the problem. "I assume people would rather start businesses in areas where drugs aren't being sold," he said.
Robert Housman, who was assistant director for strategic planning in the White House drug czar's office during the Clinton Administration, said the notion that selling drugs is the only option for Ferriday residents is "nonsense."
"There have been studies on the economics of drug-buying," Housman told The Huffington Post. "When you consider things like the risk and the costs of the drugs, you don't make a lot of money. Most people who sell are not eking out a living, they're merely supporting their own drug habit."
Franklin said he believes that providing economic and education opportunities to people in poor neighborhoods is the key to reducing the drug trade, but Housman said drug-buying habits are the reasons there are fewer opportunities.
"People don't want to open up businesses in neighborhoods like this," he said. "But many of these people selling drugs do have good business minds and could succeed if they applied themselves."
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