Mexico And The War On Drugs: Holy Hyperbole Batman!

by Tommy Brown

So, okay, it really bugs me when people pop off about the dope trade when they don’t know what they’re talking about and/or are purposefully being hysterical. From “Drug Gangs Have Mexico On The Ropes,”  on the editorial page of the Journal:

A murder in the Mexican state of Chihuahua last week horrified even hardened crime stoppers. Police Commander Martin Castro’s head was severed and left in an ice cooler in front of the police station in the town of Praxedis with a calling card from the Sinoloa drug cartel.

Not a good start. “Horrified even hardened crime-stoppers?” Who? Certainly not drug cops in Central America. Policemen in Mexico get assassinated on a fairly regular basis, just like every other narco-state. I mean, it’s a statement, but how much worse is it than the Colombian necktie? Next up:

According to Mexico’s attorney general, 6,616 people died in drug-trafficking violence in Mexico last year. A high percentage of those killed were themselves criminals, but many law enforcement agents battling organized crime were also murdered. The carnage continues. For the first 22 days of this year the body count is 354.

Translation: Six thousand people mere murdered. That’s a fair number of people. But most of them were narcotraficantes killed by other suppliers or the police themselves; what American cops call “public-service homicides.” Notice it doesn’t actually mention how many of the victims were the police. At any rate, the number of deaths doesn’t even match Colombia during the reign of the Cali cartel, let alone the reign of ultraviolance brought about by Pablo Escobar before that. And Mexico’s federal police are notoriously corrupt.

But here’s where it gets really stupid:

As bad as the violence is, it could get worse, and it is becoming clear that the U.S. faces contagion. In recent months, several important American voices have raised concerns about the risks north of the border. This means there is hope that the U.S. may begin to recognize the connection between American demand for prohibited substances and the rising instability in Mexico.

The brutality of the traffickers is imponderable for most Americans. Commander Castro was not the first Mexican to be beheaded. It is an increasingly popular terror tactic. Last month, eight soldiers and a state police chief were found decapitated in the state of Guerrero.

The first paragraph bears no connection to reality. The US risks contagion? As the author herself points out, it’s that America creates the demand that drives this trade in the first place. There is a comprehension-defying tidal wave of drugs that  coming over the Mexican border every single day: coke, dope, cheap weed, meth, unlicensed pharmies, you name it. If we expanded the DEA by a factor of ten we couldn’t put a serious dent in the border trade;  with the trillions of dollars involved,  it’s not hard for underpaid cops to turn a blind eye, especially in poverty-stricken Mexico. There is nary an inhabited square mile in this country (hell, in the Western Hemisphere) you can’t cop coke, rock or dope, whether it’s stepped-on garbage at a premium or high-purity Colombian.

Mexico’s worsening problem with traffickers is not exactly surprising. A little history: In the Eighties and Nineties, Colombia distributed cocaine directly into the United States, using Dominicans in the east and Mexicans in the west as distributors (there’s a reason the most popular slang for your coke connect is papi). And, as has been documented, the cartels took a beating: Escobar was killed and the Medellins crushed, to be replaced by the Calis who themselves were smashed by the end of the Nineties. So they decided to pull a Bolivia.

One of the best kept secrets of the War on Drugs is that Bolivia grows an enormous amount of coca, including a huge percentage of product processed in Colombia. But they refuse to actually deal drugs, except to the cartels and other major players, moving bulk and taking a smaller but safe profit. The Colombian cartels thought this outsourcing thing was a great idea, and proceeded to replicate the same thing with Mexico.

Really, it’s a great business decision.  Smuggling drugs into Mexico is practically a legitimate business, requiring only massive amounts of bribes and airplanes. The Mexicans have to take all the risk and expense of getting it into America, and then cutting it up it in places like New York and Los Angeles to be shipped around the country. But it’s still a good deal for the Mexicans too: They receive a bigger slice of the profit, there are large, well-established Mexican communities in every major American city to facilitate distribution, plus millions of illegals with one foot in the black market to begin with.

In fairness, I thought I would end this with the final line of the editorial as food for thought:

To put it another way, if Mexico is at risk of becoming a failed state, look no further than the large price premium the cartels get for peddling prohibited substances to Americans.

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