Sunday, February 19, 2012

The war on drugs, the larger effect

In 2011 the budget for "The war on Drugs" was estimated at 23.44 billion dollars. It is also estimated now that 1/2 a million inmates are incarcerated for drug related offenses. As most people would recognize, this war cannot be won. Both sides of this argument can accept this fact. The war on drugs in America though isn't the biggest problem though. As history has shown, people seem to have a natural attraction to drugs and substances that alter reality. So, we first have to recognize that a prohibition, essentially what we have now on drugs, will not work, and has not worked. On the opposite side, to legalize drugs is almost a guaranteed failure also. On the scale that drug laws are extended now, it would require a major overhaul over the entire system, that simply will never happen.
You may be asking your self, if both sides of the argument are wrong, whats the correct solution then. Well, the true answer is, there is no solution. Drugs have always been a problem, and will continue to be a problem. So, instead of fighting a war to exterminate drug use, we should focus more efforts on slowing it down. Right now, that would require us to focus on one of the main sources, Mexico.
In 2006 Mexico declared its own war on drugs. Since that time drug related violence has skyrocketed. In 2011, estimates put drug related deaths in Mexico more than 12,000. In perspective, that is double U.S. casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2001 to present. Since 2006, sources range Mexican casualties from 30,000 to above 50,000, all drug related. Mexicos war on Drugs-Pictures

In recent news was the debacle of the ATF. The ATF attempted to track a shipment of guns that would lead them to high value cartel targets. Instead, the ATF lost the shipment and we would come to find out that an American border patrol agent was gunned down with one of the very same weapons as a result from "project Gunrunner". This is not a uncommon occurrence though. The U.S. is a major supplier of the weapons that are used between the skirmishing cartels and the Mexican government. It has reached the point were we are doing more harm than good, and the Mexican government has noticed it.Mexico on U.S. weapons. 
The violence now though is reaching extreme proportions. The cartels use tactics (as pictured above) to instill fear into citizens. They leave dismembered bodies right in public view for all to see. Demonstrating the cartels power. By doing this they demonstrate their power over the government as well. On another occasion last fall after strings of violence against the police force on a border town of Texas the entire police force resigned for fear of their lives.Police resign. On yet another occasion last fall cartel members stopped in rush hour traffic on another border town and dumped 35 bodies in the middle of the road. 
The violence extends on all ranges though. It is not just cartels killing each other. Civilians are being targeted too.

Most of these incidents are happening fairly close to the American border, and it is only a matter of time before the violence starts to spill on American soil. So one of the solutions, the most relevant, is to increase border security by a substantial margin. It will still be a temporary fix. As the Mexican government had the same idea, they stepped up border security and on known drug paths. The problem is, that the cartels violence are so extravagant and they have so much wealth as is, they are able to buy off politicians and  security forces to allow the transportation still. Mexican government corruption. The demand for drugs will always be there, and so the dealers will find a way to get it in. But if the market can be hindered long enough, the cartel competition could fall apart long enough for one to take control of all of it. That is the sad truth. The best case scenario, is that one cartel takes control to end this trend of violence. As Mexico still has many hot spots for vacationing Americans, just last week the State department issued a enhanced warning from last year telling tourists to be careful while traveling. State Department Warning. With no end in sight as of now, and a spiraling budget deficit and a increase in violence, both governments are preparing for further damage. It will still be a long time before things get better, and most likely things will get worse before major change is made.



  1. What a great article. The cartels seem to have literately taken over the entire country. I can totally see where the government sits in a tough situation. There is always a catch 22 situation when it comes to powerful cartels and a government that is severely threatened by such. The war on drugs seems to be doing a whole lot worse for both countries than good. Extreme deficits are crippling, allowing the cartels to grow stronger and indulge on more gruesome crime. The ATF seems to always be working hard on federal crimes like these, however little effects have shown. Great article overall.

  2. I liked your article as well. It's more than a little unsettling to know that this kind of violence is taking place right under the border and even extending on to U.S. soil. If there's a market, and it's an illegal one, I doubt the cartels are going to give up their bread and butter business do you? These are some bad dudes and they've gotten more than a foothold in Mexico and the United States.

  3. This reminds me of a special I saw on television the other day about pretty much the same topic, with the focus on the Mexican government battling the cartels. One of the points they hit on that you mentioned was the fact that so many Mexican politicians are paid off by the cartel members to look the other way, and those who do not accept the bribes are killed. This whole thing made me think of another answer to those who think that simply legalizing drugs will solve the issue, what do you think the cartels will do if the drugs are legalized? What appears to be a very real possibility to me is that the cartels will begin to attack both legal dispensaries and those individuals purchasing narcotics from them. I find it hard to think otherwise when considering that the cartels would otherwise take such a huge hit in their business. Plus you're talking about individuals who are already dumping bodies in public places and committing mass murders. Why would they hesitate to strike back against new competition, even if it is in the form of a government? I think that it would simply lead to violence on an even grander scale.

  4. I think the war on drugs is a farce. If they really, really wanted to cut off the major supply routes for drugs they could. I believe they know who the major players are and what tactics they use to get drugs over the border. There's no way a cartel is stronger than the US military but for some reason we don't turn the job over to the military.

  5. The "war on drugs" is nothing more than an outdated political agenda. All one has to do is look at how badly this so called war has stuffed up our justice system. I am not a proponent of legalizing everything because I don't think that is the answer, but it is obvious to anybody without blinders on that something needs fixed. When you think about all the people in prison right now at an average of about 40,000 per inmate per year that are there for marijuana; it is a joke. I realize the damage that some drugs can cause and there needs to be a ban on them but I think it has become overzealous. I have personally seen what drugs can do. Almost one year ago my best friend from high school overdosed on heroin. We had obviously chosen different paths in life but he was still an important person in a big part of my past. I am not a crazy liberal who wants to legalize everything and have a great big free for all, but there definitely needs to be change. Unfortunately I don't see this happening soon because any politician that votes for it will be seen as weak on crime. It seems to me that there are too few politicians willing to stand for what they believe; instead it's all about what the people who give them money want.

  6. I’m going to have to go against the grain here and say that I don’t really agree with most of what was said in your post. Can the war on drugs be won? Of course not, but it’s not that type of war. Just like you said, we’re trying to minimize the effects that drugs have on our society. I also believe that your assumption that increased violence on the Mexican side of the border equals increased violence on the U.S. side to be a fallacy. Let’s take Juarez, Mexico for example. Juarez is considered to be the most dangerous city in the world yet just on the other side of the border lays El Paso, Texas. El Paso is one of the safest cities in the United States; how could this be though if increased violence on one side equates to increased violence on the other? As far as the ATF sting operation goes, we all know operations goes bad and it’s unfortunate that a border agent was killed with a U.S. supplied weapon but if it wasn’t with that weapon, it would have been with another. It’s not like the cartels are having a problem finding weapons to use. I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m attacking you personally, that’s not my intentions, just trying to make an argument that’s all.