I was heartened to read the editorial "Drug Monster" {Jan. 12}. The recent release of Colombia's drug kingpin, Jorge Ochoa, is a frustrating setback in the war against cocaine that Colombia and the United States have waged together and must continue to fight.

The Post's editorial was on target about the responsibility that American users bear for fueling the huge international cocaine cartel that has financed the killings of judges, journalists, prosecution witnesses, policemen and other innocent Latin Americans. Not only are U.S. dollars responsible for this violence, but U.S. drug users have made the members of the Medellin cartel three of the world's richest men.

One message Secretary of State George Shultz has repeatedly made in public statements is that America cannot preach what it doesn't practice. We cannot expect other countries to face this drug monster alone while some Americans flagrantly buy and use cocaine, calling it a recreational drug and arguing that they are hurting no one, not even themselves.

Every time an American uses cocaine, he is making a choice, one that results in an escalating war between the traffickers and our democratic allies in Latin America. And the traffickers seem to be winning. The United States owes it to its allies, and to the rest of the world, to continue to help Colombia fight cocaine. But the biggest help we could send all of Latin America would be the news that U.S. drug users are being held accountable for actions of theirs that have such terrible ramifications around the world. ANN B. WROBLESKI Assistant Secretary, International Narcotics Matters U.S. Department of State Washington