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Coming Soon to a Neighborhood Near You: Mexico’s War on Drugs

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Mexican president Felipe Calderon’s war on drugs has been an absolute failure in that country. Last year, more than 6000 murders were committed linked directly to the drug war in Mexico – which was two times the number from the previous year. Kidnappings, beheadings and other atrocities are on the rise in Mexico, involving not just drug addicts, but innocent bystanders, police officers, judges, and other government officials. Of course, because of the proximity of the United States to Mexico there is a fear that the violence will spread to our soil. Based on news reports this week, the fears are more than justified and they soon may become a reality.

According to the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) Mexican drug cartels have a distribution network that involves at least 230 U.S. cities. Recent arrests by American law enforcement of Mexican drug traffickers in California, Minnesota, Maryland and Stow, Ohio indicate the threat is nationwide and located in urban as well as rural areas. The NDIC believes the Mexican cartels are “the greatest drug trafficking threat to the U.S. as they control most of the U.S. drug market and have established varied transportation routes, advanced communications capabilities and strong affiliations with gangs in the United States”.

Because the drugs being distributed are illegal, other illegal activity accompanies their distribution. There has been an increase in police discoveries of grenades and other military-style weaponry headed for Mexico in the U.S. The Phoenix police are inundated with reports of home break-ins, hostage takings, and kidnappings. Last year, the Maricopa County attorney’s office said such cases rose to 241 from 48 in 2004. Many of the incidents involve heavily armed assailants with survival and huge profits on their minds.

It is clear that the situation on our streets is about to spiral out of control unless something different from current policy is done. The Mexican drug cartels effectively use their huge drug profits to arm and supply illegal immigrants and established gangs in the U.S. to carry out their trade. As the economies of both Mexico and the U.S. continue to deteriorate from the worldwide economic crisis the labor pool for the cartels will expand as individuals seek new ways to feed their families. Illegal immigration from Mexico will skyrocket even more. Money for drug interdiction and crime prevention will be short as localities already feeling the pinch of the economic crisis go broke and Washington is paralyzed by the need to fund with a bankrupt treasury so many other needs in the nation. With high profits from the illegal trade in the U.S., cartels will make our neighborhoods into battle zones. Left with little help from the government, Americans will increasingly be forced to take the law into their own hands. They will be no match for the well-financed, ridiculously armed thugs that will roam our streets.

But, America does have the ability to prevent this scenario. First, we must bring home the hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops serving abroad to protect the country they swore an oath to protect. This not only will save Washington hundreds of billions of dollars annually, but their services are needed to maintain the integrity of our border with Mexico and keep the bad guys out.

Second, the federal government should repeal all drug prohibition laws and leave the matter to the states where it belongs under the 10th Amendment. The Obama Administration is to be commended for announcing this week that federal raids on medical marijuana facilities in the various states will be stopped. This is a great first step, but more needs to be done. Ultimately the people, through their state lawmakers, must decide what regulations on drugs are appropriate for their state. As some states legalize currently illegal drugs and experience a decline in violence other states will follow. Making illicit drugs legal will eliminate the profit bonanzas of the cartels and destroy incentives for illegal immigrants and gangs to terrorize our neighborhoods.

In June I wrote a post that beseeched American voters to consider a presidential candidate that would end the War on Drugs. That didn’t happen, but now faced with the largest economic crisis since the Great Depression and drug violence about to spill over into our country from Mexico perhaps President Obama will seize the moment and end a catastrophic policy that has senselessly ruined many lives, brought lawlessness and disorder to our streets, and threatens the very existence of our civil society.

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About Kenn Jacobine

  • Doug Hunter

    The legalization of drugs is a thorny issue. Certainly the ‘war on drugs’ should end and things like Marijuana should just be legalized, when it comes to harder drugs like Methamphetamines I have some reservations. Meth is highly addictive and literally causes a person to rot away as you watch. I don’t know what safe or legal dose or method of taking it should be implemented. I’m afraid that making it legal might get more people to try it and hence more people to lose their health and lives.

    Anyway, a state by state approach is a good one. States could try different methods out to see what worked and what didn’t.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    On balance, I like the idea of getting the Federal Government out of the regulation of currently illegal drugs and allowing the States to do as they please. The denizens of California and Mississippi doubtless have different ideas. The fifty States properly serve as testing grounds for ideas, and several States which get it wrong are likely to do far less damage than when the Federal Government gets it wrong and the entire country suffers. Nevertheless, I realize that the Federal Government is likely to be quite grudging in relinquishing not only power but potential revenues to the States.

    Lots of money is now spent quite unproductively trying, generally with little success, to restrict drug trafficking. It could be put to better use. While I am hesitant to suggest anything likely to put more funds in the hands of Federal or State Governments, the money is going to wind up there anyway; it seems best that it come out of the pockets of drug traffickers, which now cause a negative rather than a positive cash flow. Here is a well thought-out article from a “conservative” source which outlines some of the advantages.

    Obviously, not all currently illegal drugs are the same: some are far more harmful than others, and that should be considered by the States in deciding how to proceed. However, the main goal should be to diminish the very lucrative national and international markets for illegal drugs, and the only way I can think of to do that is to make them legal and heavily taxed. Appropriate levels of taxation would render them marginally less expensive than at present, on the theory that people who want to use such drugs would prefer to buy them from legitimate sources at even slightly less than the current prices.

    I would suggest that part of the tax money collected from the sale of previously illegal drugs be “earmarked” for medical treatment of abusers and for treatment and compensation of their victims.

    I have no idea at all how much could be collected by taxing previously illegal drugs, or how much could be saved by eliminating most of the expenses of dealing with drug distribution related crimes. However, I suspect that the amounts would be quite substantial. These things seem well worth exploring.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    “Making illicit drugs legal will eliminate the profit bonanzas of the cartels and destroy incentives for illegal immigrants and gangs to terrorize our neighborhoods.”

    Partly correct. The cartels will quickly adapt to the new legal status of their product, and they will no longer need to use violence because they will now be able to operate inside the law.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Doc

    The cartels will quickly adapt to the new legal status of their product, and they will no longer need to use violence because they will now be able to operate inside the law.

    They quite probably will if permitted to do so. I understand similar things happened in the U.S. after prohibition. So?

    Wouldn’t the relative lack of violence and the costs of containing it be an improvement? Ditto the substantial drug tax revenues likely to be generated? With the U.S. Government out of the international war on drugs, there would also likely be a lot less violence in Colombia, Mexico and the various countries (e.g., Panama) where high crime rates are related to drug transshipment. Sounds good to me. Hell, even Venezuelan President Chavez might come to love the U.S.

    Oh. One arguably bad thing: the drug lords, already wealthy but then washed in the blood of the lamb legality and respectability, might produce some very powerful dynasties and take over the Government; not that anything like that happened at the end of prohibition, of course.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Sounds reasonable to me. Looks like a better road to travel than the present one.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski
  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Dan @ #4: I agree completely. What about my comment suggested to you that I somehow wasn’t happy about the idea?

    I don’t have a problem with Mexican cartels corporations controlling the narcotics trade. Life would be much easier – for us and for them – if they didn’t have to shoot/kidnap/torture/decapitate their way into and out of their markets.

    Some of the more neanderthal drug lords would probably not survive, because they wouldn’t know how/wouldn’t find it fun to do business legally. Most, though, would legitimize and adapt quite happily.

  • Jimi

    Somehow this country did OK before prohibition. I believe in liberty and freedom with personal responsibility. That includes the freedom to be stupid AND self destructive. When it involves others, a crime is commited. If you destroy your health, it’s your responsibility to pay for any medical care given. Just as it was in the 1880’s.
    There are too many nanny staters and non-personal responsibility enablers to allow for such freedom, but it’s still deserved under our constitution.

  • June

    Don’t say that the military should be there to keep the bad guys out, unless you mean ALL the guys. We need to put a stop to all immigration until this country is straightened out. We need our military on the border now! They are thousands of miles away fighting terrorist in the Middle East, while we have a terrorist nation just to the south. Beheadings, kidnapping and all sorts of crime. This shows that there is no difference in the Middle Eastern nations and Mexico when it comes to crime.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Actually, I do agree with you, Kenn. Given the deteriorating economic situation in the U.S., it is likely to become the most fertile ground for all kinds of criminal activity. The expenditure in Iraq is hardly justifiable in view of the kinds of problems we’re facing at home. And when coupled with the likelihood of growing social unrest on the part of the native population, the situation may well become explosive. We haven’t a moment to lose.

  • Larry
  • Kenn Jacobine

    Just a couple of points of clarification from previous comments. I think we should bring all of our troops home not just from Iraq, but from Europe, South Korea, and Latin America. Second, I am for legal immigration like the system all four of my grandparents participated in. We do need our soldiers to “seal” the border to especially keep the bad guys out, but also to uphold the immigration laws we already have. Immigrants have always brought a lot of benefits to the U.S. but it must be legal and they should not come and receive any public assistance from Uncle Sam.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Doc,

    Convinced as I am that you are a rabid right-wing person at heart (:>)), I guess I just assumed that you were taking issue with my admittedly rabid left-wing comment. I can see all sorts of benefits coming from transitioning drug lords to law-abiding citizens. The only down-side I can think of is that referred to in my Comment #4.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    No, Dan, I’m even worse: a rabid centrist who dogmatically sees both sides of an issue and won’t back down from that those position positions.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Besides, it’s good to have a little dynasty diversification now and then. Astors, Morgans, Rothschilds, Rockefellers – boring! Kennedys – new, exciting and shiny!

    Thought. If young Al had been a bit smarter, would we now be talking about the Capones in the same breath?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Here are some encouraging good photos of Mexican troops arriving in Juarez, which saw “250 people . . . killed . . . by hitmen fighting for lucrative smuggling routes.” The article says the figure is for “this month,” but I suspect it meant “during February.”

    Sadly, the United States has announced no plans to dispatch ACORN and ACLU volunteers to bordering El Paso to assist gang members who, rightly fearing a vicious and genocidal slaughter by heavily armed and bloodthirsty uniformed baby killers, flee into Texas. Clearly, they will be in dire need of food, medical care, legal advice, and a whole lot more.

    What is the world coming to? Will no one raise a voice and take a stand by helping these poor souls driven into a life of victimless crime by the wicked United States imperialists?

    Dan(Miller)

    Slinks away silently, hoping that nobody takes seriously his expressions of humanitarian good will.

  • http://www.thisweekinsanmigueldeallende.com laguera

    “Making illicit drugs legal will eliminate the profit bonanzas of the cartels and destroy incentives for illegal immigrants and gangs to terrorize our neighborhoods.”

    I’m with Dr. Dreadful on this one. When we see cartel leaders on the Forbes list, it’s difficult to fight the economics.