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Public Papers - 1989

Remarks to Law Enforcement Officers in Orange County, California

1989-04-25

Thank you very much, Sheriff Gates. And thank all of you, the supervisors, law enforcement community, thank you for that warm Orange County welcome. And it's good to be here. And I'm very proud that our great Attorney General is with me, Dick Thornburgh, who's doing a superb job in this battle against drugs and against crime all across the board. Dick, welcome. To Willie von Raab, the Commissioner of the Customs, I am delighted he is here. Sheriff Gates very generously telling me of the superb cooperation between the U.S. Customs and the sheriff's office here. And that's what it's going to take if we're going to have further victories in this war.

I'm delighted to be here with Senator Pete Wilson, an outstanding leader in the Senate, a man who has been really a conscience of the Senate in terms of antinarcotics, and Mike Hayde as well. And may I pay my respects to -- I know four Members of the United States Congress are here today -- Bill Dannemeyer and Congressman Cox. I believe I'm a little insecure in my lines here. I think we're in Chris' district, unless we flew over it. So, I'm glad to be hosted by Congressman Cox and then Congressman Bob Dornan, Congressman Gallegly as well.

So, I'm delighted again to be here. And let me just say this: that somewhere out here are 50 undercover narcotics agents; and let me say to you, you are the unsung heroes in this war, risking your lives almost every single day behind enemy lines, if you will, to save our kids' lives. And you know who you are, and we salute you and thank you for laying your lives out there for the rest of us. All of you are fighting fierce battles in one of the largest and toughest drug markets in the country. And somebody dies every other day in Orange County as a result of drugs. I don't know how many of you have seen the visuals, the display, but there is a penetrating chart that demonstrates dramatically the amounts of lives that are lost in Orange County from narcotics. And these people that have lost their lives -- they've ranged from an 82-year-old man to a 1-month-old child. It doesn't spare anyone. But you're not backing down; you're not giving up.

And that's one of the reasons I wanted to come here today. The communities here in Orange County are united. Law enforcement agencies crossed over sometimes competitive lines and banded together. And you're an example of hope, determination, and the true American spirit. You know, we won't build a better America until we win this war on drugs. And so, today I want to touch on both sides of the equation -- education, to cut off demand for drugs, and enforcement, to cut off the supply.

And I might say, parenthetically, that our new drug czar, Bill Bennett, former Secretary of Education, is tackling the problem on both sides of the equation -- education and interdiction. And I'm just delighted that he is doing the job he is in Washington. I wish he were here with us today so I could brag on him in public.

Demand for drugs is driven by a sense of hopelessness. Last year -- this is so sad -- an 18-year-old member of one of these gangs, in this instance the L.A. Crips gang, was asked: ``If you could change the world, how would you do it?'' And he said: ``I wouldn't know what to do. I wouldn't know what to change.'' And later he was asked: ``What do you think you'll be doing in 10 years?'' And he said: ``I don't think I'll be alive in 10 years.'' And that is life without hope, without meaning. And we're looking at a desperation that money alone will never cure. We won't win this one with our wallets alone. We will only win it through our collective effort and our collective will. And that means education -- cutting off demand through community involvement at all levels.

Mike Hayde and Sheriff Gates and so many others, your Drug Use Is Life Abuse Program is one outstanding community awareness effort. And you've got business, government, schools, religious groups, families, and law enforcement all personally committed to halting demand. There are the students that Brad was telling me about who produced the antidrug video that runs before the movies start, the workers who roll by on a sanitation truck painted on its side ``Drugs Are Garbage,'' and every L.A. Ram -- no matter who you're for -- but I commend the Rams in this one -- every L.A. Ram with a Drug Use Is Life Abuse patch on his uniform, over 22,000 student athletes on teams in Orange County who will wear the same patch. And then there's my friend, Reverend Robert Schuller, who's got churches all over the county delivering a sermon on drug abuse every 3 months, and again the students, distributing tens of thousands of cards for people to sign, making a personal commitment against drugs. And that idea came from a 16-year-old girl who says: ``The only thing I own is my name. I don't take signing my name lightly.'' Well, I want to join her. I want to proudly sign one of these cards, too, and I hope we can after this.

So, many are getting the word out. But I'd like to enlist one other group in the L.A. area that has a special responsibility: those in the entertainment industry. Television, films, and music are a positive influence. And my advice to them -- my entreaty is: Use that influence wisely to do good. I know that many in the business are already concerned and active, but I never want to see a movie again that makes drug use into something humorous. It is time that they got behind this crusade. This community has raised your voices; you've raised your voices so effectively in the cause of so many issues. Can you not raise them once more in support of a cause so important? In the work you do and the lives you lead, help us send a strong message, the right message, to a new generation of Americans: We want a drug-free America!

You get some marvelous mail in my line of work here as President, unbelievable. I quoted one yesterday from some kid, an eighth-grader or something, who said: ``Well, you've got to do better. You've got to do better on the fight against drugs and helping the environment.'' He wrote it on January 20th, the day I was sworn in. [Laughter] But nevertheless, he has a point. But here's one, a young woman: ``I have a brother who has wasted time, opportunity, and finally his mind. I've watched my mother and father cry and spend years of energy and effort on their addicted son instead of themselves. I hate drugs. Drugs have virtually destroyed my family.'' She deserves better; we all do. With the strongest means of enforcement we can devise, we must disarm, dismantle, and destroy the drug market in America.

You heard Brad Gates, the sheriff, tell us something of the history of this ground that we stand on. It was the core of an international marijuana and cocaine smuggling ring. How many lives, how many families, how many hopes and dreams have been destroyed with these chemical weapons of death and destruction -- drugs? Death bought and sold by the ton -- this operation had commercial packing equipment, underground storage vaults, large vans with hidden compartments, jet aircraft, ocean-going vessels. Once a warehouse of death, now it is a source of hope. Rancho del Rio has been reclaimed. Thanks to the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, pushed through by your former Congressman, Dan Lungren, we can now seize drug dealers' assets and use them in the war on drugs. And this is the first piece of forfeited drug property turned over for use by local officials in Orange County. It's going to serve as an International Narcotics Training Center and as a reminder to these merchants of death: Your money won't help you; in fact, we're going to use it against you.

So, what you see on these tables behind us is over million -- line up -- [laughter] -- million of laundered drug money recently seized by U.S. Customs and the regional narcotics suppression program in Operation Shackle. And today I'd like to formally turn these funds over to Sheriff Gates to help fund the Rancho del Rio project. I hope that all of you can help make this project a reality. I'm also pleased to present another million in drug money -- confiscated through a joint DEA-local sting operation in California and Arizona -- to fund more effective, cooperative efforts between local, State, and Federal enforcement agencies. This money then, totaling million, is the bounty of defeated drug criminals. And we won't stop until we nail every coward who deals in death and put them where they belong.

Now, you have had outstanding results over the last 2 years, thanks to the team efforts of local, State, and Federal agents: nearly 40 million in cash confiscated, the equivalent of 9 million injections of heroin and 38 million doses of cocaine seized. And that's 15 doses for every man, woman, and child in Orange County. Do we need any other reason than that to win this war? Let these funds go then to fighting the war they once financed. Let us raise awareness and build strength through a constellation of concerned Americans in every town, city, and community in this country. And let us send a message, loud and clear, to every drug merchant in America: You're going to be out of business! That is our message. That is my message to you today. Keep up the good work and continue to set an example for the rest of our great country.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

Note: The President spoke at 12:23 p.m. outside of the main house at Rancho del Rio. He was introduced by Orange County Sheriff Brad Gates. In his remarks, he referred to Michael K. Hayde, president of Drug Use Is Life Abuse, and Robert Schuller, pastor of the Crystal Cathedral. Prior to his remarks, the President toured the facility. Following his remarks, he attended a working luncheon with law enforcement officers at the ranch.

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