Monday, August 18, 2008

The U.S. War on Drugs Kills Thousands in Mexico

Number of Americans killed in Iraq since 2003: 4,142

Number of deaths in Mexico since December 2006, largely because of the U.S. War on Drugs: 4,909

One reason that Mexican security has so deteriorated in the past decade is the demand in the U.S. for illegal narcotics, and the U.S. government's crackdown on the Caribbean trafficking route. Mexican cartels have risen up to serve the U.S. market, and their earnings have made them rich and well-armed.

The victims of last week's killing spree include the deputy police chief of the state of Michoacan and one of his men, a detective in the state of Chihuahua, and a deputy police chief in the state of Quintana Roo. As of July, 449 police and military officers have died in the Calderón offensive, further underscoring the price Mexico is paying for the U.S. "war on drugs." But the costs go well beyond the loss of life.

In a developed country like the U.S., prohibition takes a toll on the rule of law but does not overwhelm it. In Mexico, where a newly revived democracy is trying to reform institutions after 70 years of autocratic governance under the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the corrupting influence of drug profits is far more pernicious.

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Today's WSJ

14 Comments:

At 8/18/2008 9:57 AM, Anonymous b3 said...

THIS is the issue the libertarians should try to run with more, that and personal liberties. Instead, many see the libertarians as simply or primarily anti-tax, and largely aligned with conservative interests.

There's a huge pool of people that tend to lean left that would greatly appreciate a more progressive stance on personal liberties, while at least entertaining some of the other libertarian notions. Instead out trots Ron Paul, on which you could find NOTHING about drug policy on his website, but plenty about his anti-abortion stance.

There's a good set of progressives out there who admire the libertarian values, particularly on personal liberty. But that largely seems to not be the topic of debate; instead its largely focused around government-intervention topics that cater towards more conservative views, and tend to attract the rhetoric that goes along with that, which is so predominate on this blog.

I guess what I'm saying is, you're generally missing half your potential audience.

 
At 8/18/2008 11:36 AM, Blogger Jake said...

This is more than a war on drugs. This is a civil war. The drug gangs are trying to overthrow the government.

 
At 8/18/2008 12:12 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Blaming the War On Drugs on the thuggish and homicidal behavior of sociopathic criminals is quite a reach for an excuse...

I think this commentary by Ms. O'Grady (someone I've come to expect better of) is almost New York Times like in its content and delivery...

 
At 8/18/2008 1:56 PM, Anonymous b3 said...

Actually, I think blaming drugs makes completely sense. Now as to the 'War' part, well the fact that you have a market here in the US that's willing to pay inflated prices makes it a simple economics problem. The rewards of illegal behavior outweigh the risks to these people, especially when the trade becomes so lucrative.

Take the money out of the game, and there's a lot less incentive to kill people over your drug routes/turf/etc. Legalize and there's no need bribe or kill cops.

 
At 8/18/2008 3:27 PM, Anonymous qt said...

Juandos,

Have to concur that this is definitely a "tug at the heart strings" style of argumentation. Normally, crime statistics are presented in terms of per capita data for comparison and trending purposes.

U.S. forces in Iraq are very limited in number so total U.S. deaths is hardly comparable to the entire population of Mexico. Unless one is using deaths per 100,000, total deaths is an apples to oranges comparison.

It is interesting how emotional, victim impact stories are a standard form of argument. The underlying message seems to be that only a heartless, unchristian sod could support the war on drugs that is destroying lives in Mexico.

Milton Friedman presents a far more persuasive case for legalization. The law of supply and demand for example, works in favor of drug traffikers. The more one tries to prevent drugs from getting onto the street, the higher the street price and the greater incentive for drug traffiking.

 
At 8/18/2008 4:29 PM, Blogger Dave Narby said...

I would recommend you first try and get Ibogaine treatment for drug abusers legaized...

BEFORE you try and get extremely addictive and personality altering drugs legalized.

Either way, If you're going to sell legalization of drugs, IMO you're going to need to provide some radical drug treatment programs to go with it (preferably combined with a sensible abstinence campaign).

 
At 8/18/2008 5:26 PM, Anonymous QT said...

Fair point, Dave. Completely agree. One cannot minimize the hazards of these drugs to the brain.

The advantage of legalization is that drugs can be taxed, the quality controlled, the producers held liable for adverse effects on health, socially stigmatized, etc. In short, legalization places more stringent controls over these substances and allows the public access to third party liability protection.

One also needs to consider the effects of criminalization of possession. At present, the U.S. jails more people per capita for possession than any other country. The cost to incarcerate non-violent offenders for simple possession is very high but one must also consider the cost of a criminal record on future earnings.

In short, the costs of the war on drugs are very high and the results not very effacacious.

 
At 8/18/2008 9:05 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> Blaming the War On Drugs on the thuggish and homicidal behavior of sociopathic criminals is quite a reach for an excuse...

Sorry, juandos, this isn't "blaming" it on them, but asking a rational question: "Are the benefits worth the results", and, equally critically: "cannot the end results desired be better obtained through other means?"

Can a system of peer pressure and general public disapproval function to lower misuse of drugs (in addition to dealing with some other social ills, like extramarital pregnancies), better than misusing The Law to perform a function it's ill-suited for?

No law serves its purpose when a substantial proportion of the people disagree with it. The jury system itself, when properly constituted and informed, functions to prevent laws from being enforced if as many as 12% or more of the populace seriously argue with the utility and function of the law in question.

In general, laws with less support than that have no business in the first place being laws. And making them laws only serves to get people to ignore them, degrading overall respect for the idea of Rule of Law in the first place.

And enforcing said laws then serves to add a high measure of injustice to the system, esp. when efforts to enforce The Law both bulk up the Police State potential in any system (within 6 months of the passage of The Patriot Act, the DoJ was sending out extensive memos detailing how local LEOs could misuse the PA, applying it -- a law supposedly passed solely to deal with "terrorists" -- to their own *local* cases). It also risks turning otherwise legitimate citizens into hardened criminals by shoving them through the meatgrinder of our already overloaded prison systems.


The fact that the laws create an artificially high price for the goods in question leads to both high profits funding criminal, gang, and terrorist activities, as well as encourage adulterations leading to poisonings and overdosing by users.

So where's the "win win" here for **anyone** who ought to be "winning"?

The War on Drugs, unlike the Iraq War, is and has been, for two decades, the same sort of fiasco that the Temperance Movement was. It is singularly stupid, immoral, and unConstitutional.

 
At 8/19/2008 3:31 AM, Blogger juandos said...

First and foremost the so called, "War on Drugs was and still is a bizzare PR spin to explain why this country wastes billions of dollars and gets so little for its investment...

You know, sort of like that ongoing but losing affair called the, "War on Poverty"...

obh asks a pertinent question but leaves out the fact that maybe he doesn't know about that, "summugling" has been a long time problem on the Mexican border and the smugglers have ALWAYS been sociopathic, homocidal killers...

I grew up in Laredo and this B.S. that the "War on Drug Kills Thousands..." is just absolute nonsense...

Smugglers on the Mexican border have killed thousands regardless of the the smuggled good or service...

I still can remember how in June of '60 there was an all out fire fight of amazing proportions between the Mexican smugglers, their allies the state police and the US Border Patrol...

What was the smuggled product back then? Stolen American vehicles being moved into Mexico...

Later in the sixties smugglers were shooting up people in their attempt to move reefer into the states...

Sumgglers have always been willing to kill to move illegal aliens into the states...

So what's the next law we should overturn if the body count gets to high?

 
At 8/19/2008 10:55 AM, Anonymous QT said...

Juandos,

Thank you for some perspective on this issue. The examples that you illustrate seem to suggest that the assumption that a public policy change will "fix" the problem of smuggling is rather naive.

Perhaps, we should be studying smugglers to develop strategies to try to change this behavior as David Kennedy has done with local drug marketsand gang violence.

It does not help that a very poor country borders one that offers both greater economic opportunity and access to the largest market in the world.

 
At 8/19/2008 12:12 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"a public policy change will "fix" the problem of smuggling is rather naive"...

You know qt I'm wondering just how many people know that other smugglers (not quite as violent) are in the cross border business of older freon products now banned in this country, the older, larger, toilet tanks also now outlawed by the EPA in this country, while American cigs are being smuggled into Mexico...

The next hot item will be incandescent bulbs become illegal...

What these smuggled items lack is the phenomenally high rate of return drugs have due to our laws and Mexico's when they decide to enforce them...

Mexico is enforcing them now and its costing them...

What the rather mundane smuggled items also lack is that psychoactive property could possibly be more trouble than its worth...

BTW these same drug smugglers that are willing to unleash automatic gunfire to get their product across the border also have NO problem going into the "kidnap & ransom" game during shipping lulls...

Here's a two year old article about that has worked out in my home town area: More Americans abducted along Mexico border than in Iraq...

 
At 8/19/2008 1:34 PM, Anonymous b3 said...

Somehow I don't think the incandescent light bulb smuggling trade will be nearly as lucrative as the narcotics trade...or correspondingly, as violent.

The recent violence in Mexico, as I understand, has been characterized by very deliberate killings of high-ranking police officers and officials, designed to send a message from the cartels that they are willing to protect their business by going all-out, to the *professional* extent. Not just your random shoot-em-up.

 
At 8/19/2008 8:27 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> obh asks a pertinent question but leaves out the fact that maybe he doesn't know about that, "summugling" has been a long time problem on the Mexican border and the smugglers have ALWAYS been sociopathic, homocidal killers...

No question. Is there a reason you can associate with the War on Drugs which will justify turning a huge percentage of Americans into smugglers, dealers, and profiteers (thus criminals, and, sooner or later, prisoners) because there are and will always be users (thus criminals, and, in many cases, sooner or later, prisoners).

We already have the highest per-capita incarceration rate, and a large percentage of that is non-violent drug offenders.

And, of course, when it comes time to get more money for expanding and paying for prisons, who do you think gets set free due to "overcrowding"?

The non-violent drug offenders?
Don't be DAFT, man!
**THEY are serving mandatory minimum sentences.**
So the violent offenders at the far edge of their terms are the ones who get set free.

??? Excuse me, is there a rational, sensible event occurring here ???

You speak of border shootouts. OK, fine. Are you under the impression that South Central LA is close to the border? Parts of Philly? Chicago?

There is simply no rational reason why this even exists. The funds would be better spent on treating it like cigarettes -- and, unlike the existing system of cigarette taxes, expressly earmark all taxed revenue for the payment of anti-drug programs, rehab clinics, and the like.

Hell, you'd probably save enough on SWAT team funding alone to pay for such systems.

Back in 1985, the city/county officials of Gainesville/Alachua county, FL, succeeded in shutting down the channels making pot available in the area. I have actually seen T-shirts proclaiming "I survived the Great Gainesville Pot Famine, 1985". I had friends at the time who were regular pot smokers. They did pot, occasionally acid, nothing much else.

Now, do you think that, when the sources of pot dried up, that they stopped getting high?

If you think that is the case, then you're as loony as any liberal twit who thinks we need to "just sit down with Ahminajad and talk".

No, they switched to coke, which was smaller, lighter, more valuable per oz, and, although not home grown, was not shut down by the efforts at interdicting pot.

People are going to get high because they want to get high.

People have been known to smoke **banana peels**, for crying out loud.

Any system which attempts to deny them that is doomed to failure. If you want to reduce that, you need to do it by attacking the root causes, not by attacking the symptom. You need to go after the overall reasons why people want to get high, why they stay addicted even unto their own destruction.

And you damned sure aren't going to resolve that by throwing them in jail where they can get brutalized, sodomized and get AIDS.

The violent ones, yeah, they belong in jail for committing acts of violence. Not for the fact that they were doing anything with drugs.

And I'm not even going to go on further into the fact that, until about 1910, drugs of all kinds were completely legal, not considered the purview of the Federal Government, and that most of the damned laws were sold on the despiccably racist "Dangerously Crazed Niggers!!" hook in the first place (well, beyond noting it, I mean)

 
At 8/20/2008 11:22 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"No question. Is there a reason you can associate with the War on Drugs which will justify turning a huge percentage of Americans into smugglers, dealers, and profiteers (thus criminals, and, sooner or later, prisoners) because there are and will always be users (thus criminals, and, in many cases, sooner or later, prisoners)."...

Well obh we can say that about pedophiles, bank robbers, and muggers...

You then ask, "OK, fine. Are you under the impression that South Central LA is close to the border?"...

What's your point?

"There is simply no rational reason why this even exists"...

Sure there is a rational reason, its called the voter... Who do you think those politicos are listening to when they pass these laws on drugs and so forth?

So when do YOU say enough is enough?

"Somehow I don't think the incandescent light bulb smuggling trade will be nearly as lucrative as the narcotics trade...or correspondingly, as violent"...

Well b3 last year two deputy sheriffs in Zapata county (50 miles south of Laredo) were shot (thankfully not killed) over a trailer load of large sized toilet tanks...

Its not necessarily what the smuggled commodity might be but the person doing the smuggling...

People whining about the severity of the laws are trying to cast around for someone else to blame when the fact is, the blame falls on us all...

 

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