Drug dealing is all too common in the inner city, here as well as elsewhere in the District.

That said, Mount Pleasant has much less trouble of this sort than does Columbia Heights. That wasn't always so; twenty years ago, drug dealers openly worked Mount Pleasant Street, Kenyon Street was known as a marijuana source, and heroin was dealt on Ingleside Terrace. It was around 1980 that two drug-war executions took place here on the "west end" of Mount Pleasant, one in the alley behind the 2000 block of Park Road, one in the alley between 19th Street and Adams Mill Road. What goes on today in Mount Pleasant is minuscule, compared to those old days, and compared to what goes on now on the east side of 16th Street, in Columbia Heights.

Recently (May 2006), the MPD has provided a map illustrating the density of calls about drug dealing. This shows pretty dramatically how great a difference there is between Mount Pleasant, on the west side of 16th, and Columbia Heights, on the east side. As Inspector Burke of the MPD said, 16th Street is like an invisible line, with calm waters to the west, and a hurricane in progress on the east.

The two areas of most severe dealing in upper Columbia Heights are (1) the residential area around Perry Place and 14th Street, and (2) the vicinity of the Park Morton subsidized-housing complex, on Georgia Avenue.

Residents complain when drug dealing appears in Mount Pleasant, which is not unreasonable, but clearly the problems in Columbia Heights are much more severe, so that's where police attention must be focused.
map of drug call density
How does one fight an "open-air" drug market? There are more than 60 such markets known in the District, which suggests how hard it is to shut them down. Recently there was some chronic dealing going on in Mount Pleasant, especially in the vicinity of the triangular park at the confluence of Mount Pleasant Street, Park Road, and 17th Street. A combination of police attention and courageous activity by the nearby residents succeeded in eliminating this operation, at least for the time being.

People want to know why the police can't put a stop to the drug dealing, when everybody "knows" where it is going on, and even who is doing it. Unfortunately, it's not so easy. The dealers have gotten quite clever about it, employing juveniles to handle the "merchandise", so the dealers cannot be caught with the drugs on their persons. Even when dealers are caught and convicted, their prison terms are brief; the US has experimented with heavy terms for drug offenses, and found that ineffectual, as well as expensive. And when one dealer is gotten off the street, another arrives to fill the void. The fundamental problem is that there are too many young men who have such poor job prospects that drug dealing is a rational career choice, despite occasional jail terms, fines, and drug-world conflicts.
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Page last edited February, 2008