Cocaine trade profits spotlighted
Washington — Over the weekend, authorities in Miami seized $3 million in currency and $10 million worth of cocaine in what federal officials called the breakup of a major operation to conceal profits from drug dealing. In Portland, Oregon, 2 arrests were made and 15 pounds of cocaine worth $2.5 million were seized.
''We think it is important for the nation to be aware that we at the Treasury Department are focusing on the financial aspects of the drug trade as well as drug trafficking itself,'' Treasury Assistant Secretary John Walker said. The announcement came a week after President Reagan declared a major offensive against illicit drug trafficking.
Walker said agents of the Customs Service and the Treasury's Internal Revenue Service (IRS) made the Miami seizure as part of a federal drug enforcement effort known as ''Operation Greenback.'' Twenty such task forces are operating in the US.
The Portland arrests occurred after two men flew there Saturday in a private plane police believe was used to make drug deliveries across the country. The men were arrested at a downtown hotel.
The New York Times reported Sunday that the multibillion-dollar cocaine trade is so lucrative, the chances of being caught so small, and the use of the drug has become so acceptable in some segments of US society, that it is increasingly attracting dealers from middle-class professional and business life. In the biggest seizure made yet, businessmen, physicians, lawyers, and bank officials were among the leaders of a ring that smuggled into the country 3,748 pounds of cocaine confiscated in March in Florida.