Today’s news:

A Sad Day in the Baisley Park Houses

Last week, the city arrested 62 drug dealers in Queens. These dealers were reputedly members of dangerous gangs selling crack, cocaine, heroin, pot and pills in and near the Baisley Park Housing Development and Rochdale Village, according to the Queens DA. In some cases, they were peddling this poison near schools, playgrounds and daycare centers, he said. Some of those arrested are facing up to 25 years in prison if convicted on the most serious charges.

The bust was the result of six months of undercover work. At the NYPD, there is no more dangerous assignment than going undercover to infiltrate a drug gang. The officers who did this demonstrated tremendous courage. Some of the suspects in this bust already had a history of arrests for violent crimes.

The police seized seven weapons, six cars, 60 pounds of marijuana and $30,000 in cash. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said these gangs terrorized the housing projects where they operated, even though most of those arrested did not live in the buildings.

We should be happy and yet in this bust we find a more somber message. Although the oldest suspect is 62, most of those arrested are young, some only 16. Sixty-two human beings are facing serious prison time. Sixty-two Queens families will be devastated. Some children will only get to know their fathers during visits to upstate prisons. Sixty-two lives is a staggering number, and even with this successful operation there is no indication the city is winning the war on drugs. The narcotics unit will tell you this is a drop in the bucket.

It is a sad commentary that the drug trade appears to have become the largest employer of young men in southeast Queens. The police did what they had to do and they deserve the borough’s gratitude. But this war will not be won until ways are found to substantially reduce the demand for illegal drugs.

We applaud the courage of the police who made this bust and are certain the families that live in these buildings will be happy to see the drug gangs removed. Nevertheless, we are taken aback by the thought of so many young men taken out of Queens in handcuffs in one day.

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