Demand & Money: Why Mexican drug cartels aren’t losing this war.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again, but the Mexican drug war isn’t going to be won anytime soon, not while there’s black market demand for narcotics over here in the good old U.S. of A. The reasoning isn’t complicated and it shouldn’t take a RAND foundation study, or a man of Obama’s intelligence and charm to understand it… It’s the money. I’ve been there, take it from me.

Mexican Drug War, dealers, and Money

Since Calderon, Mexico’s President, declared an all out drug war on the cartels, Marijuana, Heroin, and crystal meth seizures at the U.S.-Mexico border have gone up by 30%-200% (crystal meth and heroin respectively) according to a recent L.A. Times article. As someone who’s actually been on both sides of the drug war, I can tell you that while Calderon’s people talk about the cartels trying to replace the state, the only thing drug dealers care about is money. Still, it’s true that having complete control over entire states in Mexico let’s these organizations operate more easily and control their business-interest more completely. At the end though, the drug war is all about the Benjamins, because there are a whole lot of those – like $40 Billion kind of a lot.

The reason I feel so confident in my position is this – I used to sell drugs in Los Angeles. I was not at the top of any cartel, but at some point I was selling tens-of-thousands of ecstasy pills a week along with a few pounds of crystal meth, cocaine stamped with those cartel logos (like scorpions, doves, and such), and any other drug my more than 400 clients, and 4-6 dealers, told me they would give me money for. The business brought me about $500,000 a year and though my success was short lived, having gotten arrested after my motorcycle accident, I got to learn quite a bit about the underworld in my five year immersion program.

While I stuck to drugs, others around me, each with their own little drug-empire, had no problem expanding into other profitable business like electronics, cellular phones, and credit card numbers complete with identity theft. If it made money, they wanted a part in it, and the drugs served as a great bonus since we were all high on a lot of them all the time. On many of our more extensive drug deals, involving those tinted-window car caravans you’ve seen in movies right along with secret meetings in the back of an abandoned gas station south of Orange County, we would use cell phones that my partners got from their underground operations, activated using a stolen identity so that they can’t be traced to us. A good deal of the stereo equipment in my old apartment was gotten through one of my friends’ little electronics-store operation – he gave me an entire stereo system, and I paid him with a few hundred ecstasy pills. I rocked and he made some money.

When cops sell drugs

One of my main connections, a stocky, short, Jewish guy we all simply called “D”, once took me along with him as he delivered a bag full of money and some boxes of armor-penetrating bullets to a Mexican Federale who would drive cocaine into the U.S. in the tires of his car. While he was supposed to be playing a different role in the Mexican drug war, he apparently really loved those bullets and would come back to his home country happy, with a trunk full of cash, while we drove away with spare tires full of those scorpion-stamped bricks of cocaine. And who could blame him given the huge sums of money flaunted in his face all the time as he was forced to live near poverty? At the time I certainly couldn’t.

The things is that morality aside, it doesn’t matter if anyone blames, or would arrest, this guy and the thousand others like him. We live in a world driven by money, and when the straight-and-narrow offers little compensation, the good life is only a few smuggling miles away. Of course on the money’s heels also comes intimidation, constant paranoia, and the almost certain feel of gun-metal either in your waist, or up against your temple. I’ve been there too.

Legalization? Probably not

All in all, it’s time for our government to realize that where there’s poverty there’s crime and where there’s crime drugs will soon follow. As the Mexican cartels send representatives to the U.S. they have taken over the distribution in many of our cities as well, increasing their profit margins, and their control, over this market. If you really want to deal them a blow, make all drugs legal and start regulating their manufacturing, though maybe then the difference between drug cartels and the Halliburtons of our world will become even less obvious.

Obviously, legalization isn’t going to happen, and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. The most commonly abused drugs in this country are alcohol and nicotine, both legal, with marijuana, which is essentially decriminalized in most states, coming in a close third. Together, those three drugs account for more than 95% of drug abuse here, and for a substantial portion of health-problems and deaths. If we bring the rest of the drugs into the fold, we’ll no doubt see large increases in use for most of them, compounding the problems in terms of health and related mortality.

Still, that seems to be the question – Legalize and reduce black-market crime while hurting the health (physical and psychological) of your citizenship? Or try to reduce demand with prevention while continuing the drug war, stopping as much of the supply as you can but never getting enough of it and letting drug kingpins amass Bill-Gates-like fortunes?

Fortunately for me, I don’t have to answer that question…

11 Replies to “Demand & Money: Why Mexican drug cartels aren’t losing this war.”

  1. Journey Healing Centers (AZ and UT drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers) is concerned over increased addiction, crime and economic impacts of legalizing marijuana.

    The first question is whether these tax revenues will really help the states dig out of the recession or create more costs. According to Businessweek, the latest studies show the U.S. collects about $8 billion yearly in taxes from alcohol, yet the total cost to the U.S. in 2008 due to alcohol-related problems was $185 billion, which created a huge loss.

    Without any federal oversight for medical marijuana, there are no FDA approvals or standard regulations. Dr Ravi Chandiramani, Journey Healing Centers Medical Director, explains, “We are concerned about the abuse and addiction potential of cannabis, which has been proven. In California, prescriptions have been provided for a wide variety of reasons, some legitimate and many not so legitimate.”

    Based on 30+ years of experience working with clients fighting addictions, Journey Healing Centers’ licensed doctors and therapists oppose the Medical Marijuana Propositions on the Arizona (Prop 203) and South Dakota ballots, along with California’s Prop 19 legalization for 21+ on the November ballot. If you have any drug or alcohol addiction questions, call our Free 24-Hour Hotline to speak with an Addiction Specialist: 1-866-774-5119

    1. I definitely agree that we need to be cautious when considering these issues, especially when both sides claim that their view is supreme and the other is simply a set of lies. I think the recent RAND study shows that the effects of legalization are difficult to nail down – some increased taxation but ambiguous changes in use, abuse, and related costs (traffic accidents, health problems, etc.).

  2. I have to lend much credibility to Adi’s take on this subject, for he has been the most willing to tell the truth about this issue. He is informed, honest both about the facts and his own personal experience with every aspect of addiction and drug trafficking. No doubt we must protect our kids and our social structure,…I myself don’t want to think that the pilot of the 747 I’m commuting on is being compromised by a couple of hits off a “harmless” spliff. Imagine, getting ready for heart surgery or delicate spinal surgery and wondering if the Surgeon who will be operating enjoys a toke now and then?

  3. I think that there is validity in both statements. As far as Voght’s comment, whether drugs are legal or not, you still might be taking a chance that your pilot may have smoked a blunt before piloting your plane. I personally worked for a private flight based operation and have seen many pilots leave in a state that I didn’t feel was suitable to be operating a plane. I have also heard a surgeon state that he wanted to try LSD as a part of having mind over matter. I sure as heck wouldn’t want someone doing surgery on me and start having a flashback. The truth of the matter is that whether or not it is legal, it is still here. I have mixed views on legalization myself. My question is: Why don’t we just throw in the towel on this thing we call a “War on Drugs”? Although there were drug related deaths before the war began, they weren’t the astronomical figures that we are hearing about now. 28,000 deaths in 4 years is a monstrous number and they are brutal deaths and some are just innocent bystanders. It’s sad! We really need to pray about this situation.

  4. ….When I was working with Robert Stutman ,head of the DEA on stopping the flow of Coke from the Escobar Cartel…. we joked that it was just going to be temperory… we finally caught the Mother Aircraft that was refueling and dropping off bundles from the sky with a LORAN to b picked up by ships… and then a short time later Escobar was killed and everything inploded as in the movie BLOW… Bob went to NYC and headed the Heroin Interdiction from Afganistain…. and its a cycle… always has been, always will be…. he said as did others Legalization and taxation will b the stop of it….Will the Law Makers even get thier heads out of thier &%$#@… maybe… if thay have enought Lobbyists in the Medical POT Arena….. but….

  5. I think its right to legalize drugs. People have to learn the right exposure with drugs, and yes it could take generations to come to that. Only available in drugstores, with correct advices.
    But we have to come out of childrens shoes.

    And whats going on in Mexico…its barbarian shit. People who kill or let kill women and children in such a brutal way should be captured quickly to use them instead of animals in experiments.

    I think if it would be allowed for the pharma-industry to produce drugs for recreational use they could invent more digestible drugs.

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