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The Civic Scene: Ill effects of smuggling felt in Queens, nation

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Smuggling is damaging our society in many ways and although our various governments are trying to stop it, the problem persists.

One type of damaging smuggling involves drugs, which can be flown or driven from South America and Central America with a profit so great that the plane, car, truck or motor boat is just abandoned.

Drugs find their way to our Queens neighborhoods, where addicts must steal or prostitute to obtain money for various types of drugs. It probably is a multibillion-dollar business which not only destroys the lives of those put in jail, but also the addicts who often must steal to obtain money for drugs.

There is so much money involved that normally honest citizens and government officials can’t resist the temptation to earn more money in a few hours than they can in months or years of legal work. Yes, I know of the many activities our city, state and federal governments are doing to stop the drug trade, but even more must be done.

Remember that even if you read about a success in stopping drugs, there is perhaps 60 percent to 90 percent of drug crimes that go uncaught.

Human smuggling is another damaging activity aimed at our country. Smugglers known as “coyotes” come from the south while “snakeheads” bring their human cargo from Asia.

Some of those being smuggled die from various causes. Some human smugglers charge $30,000 to bring someone into our country. The family and/or the person may be in debt and may have to work as a slave for years. Some smuggled girls are used as prostitutes, even if they develop a venereal disease. Sometimes children are taken as payment for smuggling.

It is not unheard of to read about people getting caught, or of those who died by drowning or in the desert of the southwest. While it is flattering to know that people will do almost anything to come to the United States, this degradation and waste of human resources is terrible.

It’s sad that many foreigners have legally signed for visas to come here but have to wait and wait, while others get here faster via illegal methods.

Another form of this crime is cigarette smuggling, which has been going on for a long time. Criminals buy inexpensive cigarettes in, say, North Carolina or South Carolina, and then bring them up north where they can be sold cheaply because the cigarette tax is so much higher here.

The criminals print fake tax stamps. New York City’s tax hike on cigarettes has encouraged smuggling. This is done independently or by organized crime. While raising the tax should bring in more revenue and may persuade some not to smoke, thus preventing all types of lung and other diseases, more money will have to be spent on law enforcement which would not be needed if the tax were not raised so high.

I guess we will have to wait a couple of years to see if the tax raise was worth it or if it was counterproductive.

Another product smuggled is guns. Criminals have long bought guns in southern states or in foreign countries and then brought them to different parts of this land, and to use in crimes. Some teenagers want a gun because it makes them a big man on the street. People often get killed from these illegal guns.

There have been recent stories about college kids from New York City who go to college in the South and buy guns there, where the firearms sales laws are lax, and then sell them on the streets of our city. Modern technology has made it possible to trace the guns back to the college students who bought them.

Some groups still lobby against a careful check of gun buyers at gun fairs. More has to be done to decrease the crime and social damage caused by illegal firearms.

Good and Bad News of the Week

It is good that credit cards can be used to buy goods and services to improve our quality of life because it would be dangerous if people had to carry a lot of cash.

It is bad that people don’t fully realize that the monthly credit card money is often loaned at an 18-percent interest rate. College students are inundated with easily obtained credit cards and suddenly have debts of tens of thousands of dollars before graduating from college.

I receive several monthly mailings, as well as phone calls, from all kinds of groups that want to give me credit cards. My wife and children also receive similar solicitations. On some days we receive three or four solicitations for credit cards. One must balance the convenience against the cost of borrowing with a credit card.

Posted 7:25 pm, October 10, 2011
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