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With the methamphetamine trafficking problem in Galax once again in the media spotlight last week, some smoldering sentiments reignited for those who believe more could have been done to prevent Mexican drug cartels from establishing operations in the city.
Many feel that police could have done more earlier in the game, but what critics don't consider is that this level of organized crime was something new and unfamiliar in Southwest Virginia, and the cartels counted on rural law officers' inexperience to help them stay hidden.
Only in the past couple of years have police been trained to recognize gang activity, like "fights" among teens that are actually gang initiations.
Now, armed with education, police are doing what they can to deal with the problem. But, police chiefs and sheriffs are quick to tell you they need more help, especially from the federal government.
People often complain that Galax police should focus more on ending drug trafficking instead of making traffic stops. But consider this — many of those stops turn up meth, which leads back to dealers and more arrests.
The renewed talks about imported Mexican meth also brought out racist attitudes toward Latinos, who some blame for meth's proliferation. Yes, the suppliers are mostly Latino and here illegally, but most dealers and users aren't. And that doesn't account for the insatiable demand.
We all have a stake in this fight, and we shouldn't be distracted by blame and bigotry. We need to focus on the root of the problem, and help police take back our communities from the spread of this insidious drug and the violence, crime and ruined lives it leaves in its wake.