Baltimore has experienced nine mass shootings this year, resulting in 15 deaths. The most recent was a septuple shooting in the Park Heights neighborhood on Wednesday. (“Six injured, one killed after shooters exit vehicle, open fire on group of men in Park Heights,” Aug.25).
The city’s gaping wound is bleeding out with more than 230 homicides and hundreds of additional nonfatal shootings. With a police force that is admittedly hundreds of officers short, the task ahead provides an uphill battle to control the explosion of violence. Although there are a number of familial or personal assaults, law enforcements agree that a majority are gang related.
In October 2020 the Department of Justice released a statement that reported the twelve year prison sentence that had been handed down to a man who was the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel cell operating in Baltimore. (”Manager of Sinaloa in Baltimore sentenced to 12 years,” Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office October 8, 2020).
A portion of the DOJ report claimed “Drug dealing practiced on the scale by the Sinaloa Cartel members in Baltimore fuels the violence that plagues the city. …The Sinaloa Cartel drives up fatal overdoses as well as the gun violence in our streets that comes with the drug trade.” The statement also said “The existence and influence of Mexican drug cartels in the city of Baltimore was well established”.
The cartel imports fentanyl, heroin, and meth into our city where, through prearrangement, leaders of gangs purchase and package it and sell the poison to locals. The continuing war in our streets is the result. The price our communities pay is incalculable.
Our real enemy is a criminal organization worth hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide. In recent years they have flooded the market with a higher grade of fentanyl and heroin resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans. Their goal, here in Baltimore and elsewhere, is to create a much larger group of users.
I agree with The Baltimore Sun when it declares “Baltimore Police reform remains essential to any hope of crime reduction” (Aug. 22). Independent oversight of the allocation of overtime pay, so misused in the past is necessary. Recently, almost $40 million has been spent on overtime. The more quickly those funds can be allocated to attract and train new officers, the more quickly the need for overtime will be reduced and more officers placed on the streets.
A massive increase of federal, state, and local security officers, working in tandem with the Baltimore Police Department, will be required. All avenues for funding including corporate and private donations need to be explored. The time for talking has expired. Now we must act and act quickly. We must contact our congressional representatives, the mayor, and members of the City Council in order to voice our demands for an immediate call for action to cut the “red tape” and produce results.
An attempt to eliminate the powerful criminal element at work behind our city’s suffering will be a daunting one. But to eliminate them we must do everything in our power if our great city is to survive. The future of our children and theirs depends on us.
— Ralph Clayton, Baltimore
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