Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Peaceful Costa Rica New Casualty of U.S. Drug War

National Public Radio -- "Costa Rica is Central America's most stable democracy, a peaceful country that abolished its army in 1948 and now draws nearly a million U.S. tourists a year to its national parks and beaches. But it's also right in the middle of the world's most lucrative cocaine trafficking corridor.  As Mexican drug cartels push deeper into Central America, they've cast a dark shadow over Costa Rica's idyllic green image.

Recent polls show that crime and security are the leading public concern now in this country of 4.6 million people. The same laid-back attitude and openness to outsiders that draws tourists has also attracted Mexican cartels and their Colombia cocaine suppliers, who warehouse drug loads here and move them up the coastlines or overland toward the U.S.

Local contacts are increasingly paid in raw product for their logistical help, so drug use has jumped, especially for crack cocaine, and Costa Rica's homicide rate has nearly doubled since 2004.

"I do not remember in our whole history a menace like this menace with organized crime," says Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla.  Chinchilla says Costa Rica's view of itself as a peaceful, law-abiding country in a poor, violent region is now being put to the test by a threat far greater than even the conflicts of the Cold War era."

19 Comments:

At 12/21/2011 9:34 AM, Blogger Colin said...

More drug war victims here:

http://www.wyff4.com/r/30037563/detail.html

 
At 12/21/2011 10:19 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

The easy way to eliminate a crime is to make it legal. However, there are many criminal activities.

Crime comes to Costa Rica
December 6, 2011

"Drug wars, spilling south from Mexico, are not the only factor putting Costa Rica's tranquility in jeopardy.

A widening gap between rich and poor, people trafficking, a bustling sex trade and readily available crack also feed the country's criminal underbelly.

The World Bank report urges the region to focus more effort on prevention.

"Marginal funds that countries have should be redirected for use in drug prevention and youth-at-risk programs, in reforming weak criminal justice institutions and in passing legislation to curb easy access to firearms," Lorena Cohan, one of the report's authors, said about security-spending in Central America."

 
At 12/21/2011 11:01 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

Peak, we can criminalize anything.

Why a guy who was giving away his sperm to childless couples for free was sent a cease and desist order from our friendly, liberty loving government.

He didn't meet the standards set by government for sperm donation clinics - although he fully disclosed everything to the people to whom he donated his sperm for FREE. Those people obviously shouldn't have the option to decide for themselves whose sperm to use.

Government uber allas.

So, it's hardly surprising that government will decide what you can ingest. That doesn't make it wrong. It just gives government and the mafia (small difference) more control.

 
At 12/21/2011 11:07 AM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"Local contacts are increasingly paid in raw product for their logistical help, so drug use has jumped, especially for crack cocaine, and Costa Rica's homicide rate has nearly doubled since 2004." (for some reason this sentence wasn't highlighted in your post)

I thought that drug abuse was a victimless crime? Is Costa Rica waging a "war on drugs" as well? Is this spike of drug use and murder related to their drug prohibition policies? Fascists!

 
At 12/21/2011 11:40 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

The War on Terror, the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs--all wars designed by federal agencies, and the gaggle of grifters attached thereto, to last forever.

Sometimes one war helps another war go on forever--we have established an Islamic narco-state in Afghanistan, the world's most prolific grower of opium, the crop that sustains Karzai. US Marines protect opium fields of warlords aligned with Karzai. Heroin packets today have the US flag on the side.

Then we can conduct a War on Drugs, while supporting prolific opium-growing in Afghanistan, under a Karzai-government considered the most corrupt in the world. We may never get out of Afghanie, a $2 trillion war and counting.

The high cost of heroin will immiserate some addicts, meaning the War on Poverty gets some action too.

Woo-woo! Jobs for federal bureaucrats and money for grifters, and more taxes on you and me!

 
At 12/21/2011 11:52 AM, Blogger Che is dead said...

And then there is this line from the article:

"During the '80s, you had forces fighting in the region, but they have a structure, they have an ideology, they were fighting for different ways of conducting the society — the problem was a political problem," Chinchilla says. "This has to do with the survival of the institutions. It doesn't matter if it is from the left or the right; it doesn't matter what kind of ideology your government has."

I thought that the U.S. "war on drugs" started in the '70's. Why is it that Costa Rica is only experiencing problems now 30 years in? And what has attracted the cartels to Costa Rica? The article explains:

"But because there isn't a military and the police force has never had to be militarized, he says, "we are very vulnerable."

Hmmm, they've institituted one of the lefty pillars of success only to find themselves vulnerable to violent, criminal thugs. Go figure.

Perhaps, they should talk to the government of Columbia:

We have also learned how to join law enforcement and national security resources to break down trafficking groups and narcoterrorists. One of the greatest international policy success stories of the last decade has been the transformation of Colombia from a state dominated by narcoterrorism, violence and corruption to a thriving liberal democracy ... Colombia is the genuine backdrop for understanding the threat in Mexico today. The criminal gangs in Mexico go back decades. Many are drawn from generations in the same extended families. They have become wealthier and better armed, but the border areas they seek to control are an old battleground. The corruption they use to protect themselves has deep roots. They have become more dangerous as they have lost profits from the cocaine and meth trade over the last two years. Those who think legalizing drugs will stop the violence by cutting off the money to these groups seem unaware that they not only smuggle drugs and people across the border for profit, but that they also kidnap, hijack, manage large auto-theft operations and have extensive protection rackets.

Moreover, some of us remember that Bobby Kennedy was leading organized-crime strike forces against extremely dangerous mafia families, decades after the end of Prohibition. Just as ending Prohibition did not destroy organized crime in the U.S., legalizing drugs will not break the terrorist criminal groups in Mexico. In fact, the real pattern of violence from the mafia families in the U.S. to the cartels in Colombia suggests it is when they are threatened and destabilized that violence skyrockets. It is the violence focused on the threat of violent takeover by rival criminal groups that is an unfortunate but perhaps necessary first step in restoring the rule of law. -- WSJ

 
At 12/21/2011 2:04 PM, Blogger Marko said...

Once again, do you really think cocaine should be legal in the U.S.? How would that work, and how would that look?

First, even if the Federal government removed cocaine from Schedule 1, and somehow decided you don't need a prescription, do you think any states would make it legal? It is very difficult to even decriminalize medicinal marijuana usage. No way is any state legalizing cocaine. And for good reason, since I am sure the results would be catastrophic - imagine all the people going out and trying cocaine if it is on sale at the supermarket. Even if the libertarians are correct and it isn't super addictive, it is clearly addictive for many and ruins many, many lives.

People say using drugs is a victim-less crime, but selling or giving drugs to someone does produce a victim.

Should we allow companies to package rat poison as a recreational drug? Sure it might kill you, but that is a victimless crime, right?

 
At 12/21/2011 2:27 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Marko-

Sheesh, we should legalize all drugs, and then also totally deregulate alcohol too.

Why do people need a license to sell liquor---and another license to sell liquor if people are dancing, and another one for wine and beer in a restaurant, and no license for anyone who would just like to sell liquor on the street from a push-cart?

Imagine being able to buy a cold beer from a street vendor for $2, instead of $5-7 in a crowded bar?



I tell you American libertarians are a bunch of wimps--probably just GOP'ers who want to smoke pot.

 
At 12/21/2011 2:30 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

We need to stop these senseless drug related deaths.

 
At 12/21/2011 3:13 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"Once again, do you really think cocaine should be legal in the U.S.? How would that work, and how would that look? "

yes. it would work very simply. it would be manufactured to pharmaceutical quality and sold (with high taxes like cigarettes) to those over 21.

how would that look?

it would look great. it's not like it's difficult to get now. frankly, it would likely be harder to get for many users. when i was 16 it was easy to buy drugs, but hard to buy beer.

it would raise money instead of costing it hand over fist in enforcement, incarceration, etc.

there is no evidence in countries that have decriminalized drugs that usage goes up.

all the "reefer madness" "coke fiend" propaganda has no evidence to back it up, just totalitarian fearmongering.

i mean, think about it. would heroin being legal make you use it? no, me either.

"People say using drugs is a victim-less crime, but selling or giving drugs to someone does produce a victim."

what victim? lots of people use drugs to no ill effect. alcohol and cigarettes cause orders of magnitude more problems than cocaine.

why the arbitrary line? (sorry for the pun)

and who are you to tell someone else what to ingest? you sound like a prohibitionist. remember how well that worked out?

why is this any different?

 
At 12/21/2011 3:42 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Morganovich says: "would heroin being legal make you use it? no, me either."

In this rich consumer-driven economy, why wouldn't more people use it, like the tens of millions of Americans who drink or smoke?

Marijuana to Blame for Increased Drug Use in 2009, Government Report Says
September 15, 2010

National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske told CBS Radio News, young people are being exposed to "mixed messages" about marijuana including the idea that it is a medicine... it is not medicine.

Kerlikowske views marijuana as "an entry drug." The survey found that for the first time since 2002, less than half of young people believe using marijuana is harmful.

The Obama administration remains strongly opposed to legalization of marijuana.

The president's drug adviser said it is a "false argument" to say marijuana legalization would reduce cartel violence in Mexico. Kerlikowske, a former police chief and undercover narcotics detective, noted, "Taking one small part of the (cartel) enterprise (marijuana) away from them isn't going to change them."

 
At 12/21/2011 7:11 PM, Blogger Marko said...

Benji, are you against zoning laws? Are you actually an anarchist?

Morganovich - (thanks for the thoughtful critisism) I guess I do sound like a prohibitionist. It seems like the costs of legalizing most of the currently illegal drugs far outweigh the benefits.

Who are you to require cocaine to be manufactured to pharmaceutical quality (and so regulated) and be highly taxed? Same as me, I bet - a Citizen. We need to set up rules and laws that prevent disruption of the markets and individual liberty. The question is which are the best rules? I have every right to propose rules, just like you do, without being called a prohibitionist, which is partially a straw man argument.

You are also a prohibitionist of a sort, if you don't allow cheap cocaine to be sold out of a trailer legally. Why not?

I would suggest that if you only allowed officially regulated cocaine to be sold in certain ways, there would still be a large demand for illegal cocaine.

Look at legal (sort of) marijuana in California - the fields where they grow it need armed guards, and there is lots of violance and gang activity involved. So much for legalization curing the problem.

Should we allow people to buy Oxycontin without a prescription too? You must know that this would end up causing massive social disruption. Yes it is easy to get now, but you can't tell me that being illegal doesn't dramatically increase transaction costs to acquire and that on the margins people will use less when it is illegal.

On the vicitimless argument, I am suggesting that the victim is the person that buys it from you and uses it and gets addicted, has a heart attack or ODs. That is the victim of the crime of selling these powerful recreational drugs. Lots more people will die.

Alcohol was different - for one thing it was woven into the fabric of society, much more than it is today (prohibition partially changed that) and broadly viewed by society as acceptable. Alcohol over use also is extremely obvious for most users (other than maintenance drinkers). Intoxication has obvious an obvious cost to the user and makes it obvious in a crowd who is drunk.

Most illegal drugs are not and never had been part of our culture in the U.S., at least nothing like routine alcohol use. Also, most illegal drugs do not cause obvious intoxication and all the associated costs. It is much easier to fire the guy that comes in drunk than the guy that is using meth. For the meth addict, the burn is slower and less obvious - his life will be ruined often far more thoroughly after a long time of people thinking he is fine.

Unless these drugs are free and unregulated, which ain't gonna happen, there will be crime associated.

 
At 12/22/2011 9:44 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

"In this rich consumer-driven economy, why wouldn't more people use it, like the tens of millions of Americans who drink or smoke?"

because people consumer things based on preferences. just having lima bean ice cream available does not make you want them.

drugs are already widely available, and far more available to children that things like alcohol.

 
At 12/22/2011 10:06 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

marko-

your regulation and taxation argument gets into a very complex ares. you could make similar arguments about any sort of consumer laws. why do child seats need to be X or aspirin be Y? why do i need permission to use tetracycline?

i guess where i come down on that for drugs is that the government can say "we define cocaine as X and if it meets those standards, it's legal". sure, we could do away with all standards, and there are attractive aspects of that (and move to credentialing as opposed to mandates), but as an interim step, just treat drugs like they were cigarettes.

ultimately, i see you point and tend to favor credentialing over mandates, but am bowing to political reality as opposed to ideological purity.

taxing a drug is hardly a new idea. if we grant the government the ability to selectively tax certain goods (cigarettes, hotel rooms, parking, whatever) then it poses no new issues.

such legalization would provide a number of benefits though, mostly in the suppression of violent criminal activity. if cocaine had profit margins like tylenol and had safe, legal distribution, a lot of crime goes away along with vast enforcement costs and incarceration expense.

"On the vicitimless argument, I am suggesting that the victim is the person that buys it from you and uses it and gets addicted, has a heart attack or ODs. That is the victim of the crime of selling these powerful recreational drugs. Lots more people will die."

this argument contains a number of assumptions that i find questionable.

1. willing participants are not victims. are you a victim of your local bar that sells you whiskey, makes you an alcoholic, and gives you cirrhosis? how about the corner store that sells cigarettes? it seems quite paternalistic to define them all as "victims". that seems to imply that they need to be saved from themselves. freedom comes with the ability to make bad choices. if we banned every product that could be misused, we'd never be able to buy anything.

2. usage would go up? how do you figure? the stats from places like portugal do not support this. drugs are very easy to get even now.

3. legal drugs could be taxed and that money used for treatment, mitigating negative effects. they would also be much safer, as they would be pure and not cut with the dangerous chemicals that do so much harm. people used to go blind from drinking alcohol with wood alcohol in it during prohibition. that really does not happen anymore.

4. very few drugs have the addictive characteristics or health risks of alcohol or tobacco. my old girlfriend worked at a hospital treating addicts. you can die from booze far more easily than cocaine. alcohol withdraw can be fatal. this is not so of even heroin.

"Most illegal drugs are not and never had been part of our culture in the U.S., at least nothing like routine alcohol use"

this is also completely untrue. cocaine was legal. hell, it was in soda. opioid were readily available in all manner of "patent medicines".

illegal drugs are already a big part of our culture. huge numbers of people use them, especially cannabis. they are the drugs of choice for kids because they are easier to get than liquor.

"Unless these drugs are free and unregulated, which ain't gonna happen, there will be crime associated."

how do you come to this conclusion?

is there vast crime in cigarettes (regulated) or tylenol (heavily regulated) or any other pharmaceutical?

 
At 12/22/2011 11:58 AM, Blogger Marko said...

Morganovich, I meant to acknowledge that none of these drugs were illegal in the past and had uses in the culture, but my point is cocaine and laudenum use, for example, never rose to the level of alcohol. Almost everyone in the society used alchohol on a daily basis, especially the farther back in time you go. In fact, until the modern era, people in Europe essentially never drank water (only fit for animals) with the lower classes drinking ale or beer, and the upper classes drinking wine. All day every day. Can't say that about any other drug. This past usage makes alcohol part of our culture - it has not usually been used as an intoxicant (and usually was not used for that purpose). Opium? That was used medicinally, but not really socially - look at China in the 18th-19th century. Opium addiction was a huge problem, and although legal lead to people spending all their money on opium and led to a disaster on a large social scale.

I agree with your views on credentialing, and I also much prefer private ordering. But there are essential police functions performed by the government and preventing the sale of rat poison marketed as an intoxicant may be one of them.

To the extent that these drugs are addictive and not free, they will drive crime, but more importantly they will have large social costs. While caffeine and nicotine are both much more addictice than many of these drugs, they also produce much less of an intoxicant effect. I just can't see any state allowing opium to be sold at the grocery store, or even at the opium den.

Perhaps our most fundamental disagreement is that you don't seem to believe that people are much detered by the illegality of drugs currently. I feel they are deterred. I know I am. As an attorney, if I get busted for drugs I will loose my license to practice my profession. That is a powerful deterrent. If these drugs are legal, I would likely try one (I never have). I can't help thinking that if I would do this, that many others feel the same way. Illegality is societies way of putting the stamp of disapproval on certain destructive behaviors - not just destructive to the user, but to society in general. States with legal marijuana are not seeing a big decline in mj related crime, as far as I have seen.

 
At 12/22/2011 12:42 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"1. willing participants are not victims." -- morganovich

Except that in the case of many hard drugs, abusers are hardly "willing participants". They are addicts, stripped of free will and enslaved to their addiction.

"2. usage would go up? how do you figure?" -- morganovich

"In the Netherlands, where marijuana can be bought in "coffee shops," adolescent use, citizen anger and international irritation have soared. Responding to the outcry from its own citizens and from other countries, the Dutch government has reduced the number of marijuana shops, limited the amount that can be purchased, and raised the age of legal buyers to 18 from 16. This May, the Dutch government also announced that it will prohibit tourists from purchasing marijuana at coffee shops by the end of this year (in part, it said, to curb criminality and drug trafficking). Sweden offers an example of a successful restrictive drug policy. Faced with rising drug use in the 1990s, the government tightened drug control, stepped up police action, mounted a national action plan, and created a national drug coordinator. The result: Drug use is a third of the European average." -- WSJ

"3. legal drugs could be taxed and that money used for treatment, mitigating negative effects." -- morganovich

"For every $1 of taxes collected from the sale of tobacco and alcohol, we incur $9 in state and federal health-care, criminal justice and social-service costs. These costs will skyrocket if legalization becomes the norm, draining our public coffers at an even more alarming rate. ..." -- WSJ

continued ...

 
At 12/22/2011 12:46 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

continued ...

"4. very few drugs have the addictive characteristics or health risks of alcohol or tobacco." -- morganovich

Marijuana Withdrawal As Bad As Withdrawal From Cigarettes

Pot Use May Mellow Out Men's Sexual Function

Early and Chronic Marijuana Use May Damage Brain Function, Says Study

Active Ingredients In Marijuana Found To Spread And Prolong Pain

Cannabis alters human DNA

Long-Term Cannabis Users May Have Structural Brain Abnormalities

Teenage cannabis smokers face bigger risk of full-blown mental illness in later life

"cocaine was legal. hell, it was in soda. opioid were readily available in all manner of "patent medicines"." -- morganovich

The origins of federal drug laws were a response to disastrous drug and violence epidemics when virtually every family had access to opiate- and cocaine-based remedies around the end of the 19th century. Drugs were available without penalty. Addiction was rampant, with an estimated 250,000 opiate addicts in the U.S. population of 76 million." -- WSJ

"is there vast crime in cigarettes (regulated) or tylenol (heavily regulated) or any other pharmaceutical?" -- morganovich

"Roughly 80% of child abuse and neglect cases are tied to the use and abuse of drugs. It is not that drug abuse causes all crime and violence, it just makes it much worse by impairing judgment, weakening impulse control and at some levels of pathology, with some drugs, causing paranoia and psychosis. Well more than 50% of those arrested today for violent and property crimes test positive for illegal drug use when arrested. Legalized access to drugs would increase drug-related suffering dramatically." -- WSJ

 
At 12/22/2011 1:42 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

marko-

but use of cocaine would never rise to the level of alcohol use. it didn't when it was legal, and there is no reason to suspect it would now. would you start snorting like tony montagna just because it was legal?

the data from places that decriminalized use (like portugal) are not showing increases in use, ods, or associated problems.

i doubt usage goes up much. drugs are very easy to get and frankly, their illegality adds a cache. it also makes them readily available to kids, unlike beer.

but ultimately, i think it is the consumers own business. all net effects aside, what business of the government's is it what intoxicants you choose to consume?

so long as you don;t harm others (and there are lots of laws about that) why do they get any say?

i can speak as a please, own weapons, drink alcohol, but not consume some arbitrary list of drugs, many of which are considerably safer than the legal ones?

 
At 12/22/2011 1:59 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"Except that in the case of many hard drugs, abusers are hardly "willing participants". They are addicts, stripped of free will and enslaved to their addiction."

ahh, you mean like an alcoholic, a smoker, a degenerate gambler, a tv addict, or someone addicted to buying beanie babies on ebay?

shall we ban all those things as well?

claiming addicts lack free will seems both dangerous and specious to me. it's specious in that they clearly have free will as many stop. they are just using it in a awy you don't like. it's dangerous because if we start describing such people as not having free will, then they are non compis mentis, and not responsible for what they do nor deserving of freedom. sorry i killed you, but i'm a crackhead, not my fault sounds like a pretty dangerous idea.

2. portugal showed the opposite. costs, od's are down.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=portugal-drug-decriminalization

3. again, look at portugal. costs dropped even without tax. that wsj piece is just baseless extrapolation of smoker costs (incredibly high) to other drugs and lowball assumtptions on tax.

4. marijuana is very safe relative to alcohol or cigarettes. you article on its addictiveness is just flat out untrue. my ex gf is an addiction specialist. there is no physical addiction to pot.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-teenage-mind/201012/is-marijuana-addictive

the rest of that argument actually argues against itself.

if so many people are already on drugs, then what does legalizing them do? they are already being used. better to keep them away from kids and use them to raise money for treatment. that's also a very shady stat. testing positive does not mean "under the influence of". you smoke a joint 2 weeks ago and rob a house today, you'll "test positive", but there is no causal link.

most traffic fatalities and cases of domestic and child abuse are alcohol related, yet you seem fine with that.

why the double standard?

what right does the government have to tell you what to consume recreationaly? sure, if you then break a law/harm others, well, you get prosecuted like anyone else, but if you think stoners are more violent than drinkers, you've never been around any. personally, i have no interest in smoking pot, but i see not reason to foist that view on others.

drugs are already so easy to get that i think your assumptions about what happens if they are legalized are deeply flawed. those who want, already have. might as well make it easier to get treatment, safe product, and take the profits away from thugs and dump the huge enforcement costs.

i think where we are differing is that you think the war on drugs is working and somehow suppressing use.

i don't.

use is widespread, especially among kids (where it would be reduced under legalization), but the drugs and the situations around them are unsafe. the costs are massive, the benefit is non existent.

this is just like prohibition. you simply cannot suppress this much demand. it's just price supports for organized crime.

 

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