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Hit Mexico’s Cartels With Legalization

  1. SmokeTwibz

    WHENEVER I’ve interviewed Mexican cartel killers, the aspect that I’ve found most disturbing about them is that they appear to be sane.

    Even though they have described to me such unfathomable actions as hacking off the heads of still-living victims, it is something other than mental illness that drives their violence. Their sanity is disconcerting because, if they were simply mad, it would be easier to accept horrific actions like leaving piles of headless corpses in town squares.

    Instead, we have to face up to the hard reasons why thousands of young men (and some women) with full mental faculties have become serial killers. These reasons should be taken into account by residents of Colorado, Washington state and Oregon when they vote on referendums to legalize marijuana next Tuesday.

    The painful truth is that the monster of Mexican cartels has been pumped up by decades of Americans buying illegal drugs under the policies of prohibition. No one knows exactly how much money Mexican traffickers make, but reasonable estimates find they pocket $30 billion every year selling cocaine, marijuana, heroin and crystal meth to American users. Since 1980, the cumulative jackpot could be close to $1 trillion. Under the law of the jungle, this money goes to the most violent and sadistic players, so the cartels have spent their dollars on building increasingly ferocious death squads.

    There have been a tragic 60,000 killings under President Felipe Calderón that are described as drug-related. But even this description can be misleading. Most cartel assassins do not carry out these brutal acts because they are high on drugs. Their motive is to capture the profits that are so high because in the black market you can buy drugs for a nickel and sell them for a dollar. How many others would love to be in a business with a markup of more than 2,000 percent?

    Marijuana is just one of the drugs that the cartels traffic. Chemicals such as crystal meth may be too venomous to ever be legalized. But cannabis is a cash crop that provides huge profits to criminal armies, paying for assassins and guns south of the Rio Grande. The scale of the Mexican marijuana business was illustrated by a mammoth 120-hectare plantation busted last year in Baja California. It had a sophisticated irrigation system, sleeping quarters for 60 workers and could produce 120 metric tons of cannabis per harvest.

    Again, nobody knows exactly how much the whole Mexico-U.S. marijuana trade is worth, with estimates ranging from $2 billion to $20 billion annually. But even if you believe the lowest numbers, legal marijuana would take billions of dollars a year away from organized crime. This would inflict more financial damage than soldiers or drug agents have managed in years and substantially weaken cartels.

    It is also argued that Mexican gangsters have expanded to a portfolio of crimes that includes kidnapping, extortion, human smuggling and theft from oil pipelines. This is a terrifying truth. But this does not take away from the fact that the marijuana trade provides the crime groups with major resources. That they are committing crimes such as kidnapping, which have a horrific effect on innocent people, makes cutting off their financing all the more urgent.

    The cartels will not disappear overnight. U.S. agents and the Mexican police need to continue battling hit squads that wield rocket-propelled grenades and belt-driven machine guns. Killers who hack off heads still have to be locked away. Mexico needs to clean up corruption among the police and build a valid justice system. And young men in the barrios have to be given a better option than signing up as killers.

    All these tasks will be easier if the flow of money to the cartels is dramatically slowed down. Do we really want to hand them another trillion dollars over the next three decades?

    It is always hard to deal with these global issues in a world where all politics is local. Mexico was not even featured in the presidential debate on foreign policy, despite that fact that the United States has supported Calderón’s war on drugs with more than $1.3 billion worth of hardware, including Black Hawk helicopters, and that cartels have attacked and killed U.S. agents.

    Of course, residents of Colorado and Washington will have many valid local reasons to make their choices. But on the issue of organized crime, the underlying fact should be clear: Legal marijuana will take away dollars that pay for assassins and redirect them to small businesses and government coffers.

    If voters do choose to legalize marijuana it would be a historic decision, but it would also open up a can of worms. The U.S. federal government and even the United Nations would be forced to react to a state’s resolution to break from the path. This could be a good thing.

    Many Latin American leaders and others have been questioning the current prohibitionist doctrine. Even Calderón, who staked his presidency on fighting cartels and suffered assassination threats, spoke at the United Nations in September demanding an international debate on drug policy. Perhaps the time for this debate has come.

    Published: November 1, 2012

    Author Bio

    My name is Jason Jones. I'm from Rochester, MN and I'm 35 years old. I scrap metal and work as grounds keeper at a local trailer park. In the winter, I shovel a bunch of driveways and sidewalks to make some extra money and to stay busy. In my free time, I try to find interesting articles about the war on drugs that I can post on Drugs-Forum, so that the information can reach a wider audience.


  1. nitehowler
    The governments of the day cause these people to kill because of ridiculous laws n penalty s.

    If i thought i was going to be dobbed in and my family was going to get raided by trigger happy cops
    who accidentally shoot innocent people on a regular basis, have my house turned upside down ,all my assets taken and end up in jail with your family living on the street.

    Yes you would be pushed in to a position where killing becomes survival .

    Bad government policy is the one to blame and the killings wont stop until regulations and laws are changed.
  2. westie420uk
    i've still not been the same since i watched the Mexican Chainsaw Execution video. Its nasty.
  3. BitterSweet
    This is a really good article that shows the far reaching effects of policies, laws, and changes in societal attitudes. It's very true that the cartel will start looking to other places or activities to make up for the lost profits, so the article is right when it says a whole 'nother can of worms will be opened.

    I took a course in international business and it was the first time I really saw what happens in places like Mexico. In general, the economic scene there is so bad and there is so much corruption. Multi-national companies setting up factories there and taking extreme advantage of the low wages. I learned about the Maquiladoras (Mexican factories which take in imported raw materials and produce goods for domestic consumption and export on behalf of foreign companies) which are basically the landmark trade of Mexico.

    The value of women in mexico is disgustingly low - all women are viewed as sluts and prostitutes, and go missing, never return to work and managers don't even report a disappearance. There was one case we studied for one man or a few men were behind something like 4000 missing cases of women - murdering them, raping them - heads and bodies would be found on the side of the roads, bodies would be found with the breasts cut off or foreign objects shoved up the woman's private parts. The whole Mexican culture seems desensitized to this kind of violence that makes us sick to our stomach, whether or not related to drugs. It really makes you look at Mexico as a whole, and wonder if it is the Mexican culture that fosters the cartel, or if the cartel is the foundation for Mexico's seedy underbelly. At the end of the day, the lines are blurred and I can't imagine the fear with which people must live with over there.

    I know in the course I took where we discussed Mexico, we talked about how mostly women technically don't even exist as people to the government. They don't have I.D. and one might even argue that how can they go off the radar when they were never on it to begin with? This is really a phenomenon to be had.
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