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I am a consultant and analyst with eight years of military law enforcement experience, six years of analytical experience covering Latin America, and over seven years of analytical experience covering Mexican TCOs and border violence issues. This blog is designed to inform readers about current border violence issues and provide analysis on those issues, as well as detailed focus on specific border topics. By applying my knowledge and experience through this blog, I hope to separate the wheat from the chaff...that is, dispel rumors propagated by sensationalist media reporting, explain in layman's terms what is going on with Mexican TCOs, and most importantly, WHY violence is happening along the US-Mexico border.

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With over a dozen years of combined experience in military law enforcement, force protection analysis, and writing a variety of professional products for the US Air Force, state government in California, and the general public, Ms. Longmire has the expertise to create a superior product for you or your agency to further your understanding of Mexico’s drug war. Longmire Consulting is dedicated to being on the cusp of the latest developments in Mexico in order to bring you the best possible analysis of threats posed by the drug violence south of the border.

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February 03, 2011

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Why not take a completely different approach. Instead of fighting fire with fire, cut off the oxygen.
Regulate drugs so that the people who use drugs don't rely on an illegal market supplied by the cartels. The government gains tax revenue, less people are jailed for things they shouldn't be,the cartels have no-one to sell to and the safety of the products is ensured. With careful planning we can ensure that drug use does not increase, and everyone wins.

@T - I couldn't agree with you more. I'm not a fan of legalizing "hard drugs" like cocaine and heroin, but marijuana seems like a no-brainer for exactly the reasons you mentioned.

I completely agree with T's proposal to decriminalize, legalize and tax marijuana. Others argue that marijuana leads to harder drugs. But is that mostly because the source for procuring marijuana is the same source for harder drugs - you have to enter the criminal world to obtain the marijuana.

Define 'hard drugs'.

LSD: no recorded fatal overdoses. Not addictive: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1755-5949.2008.00059.x/abstract

Cannabis: no recorded fatal overdoses.

Heroin: can be safely given to children as young as 3 for pain relief: http://www.bmj.com/content/322/7281/261.full

MDMA: rarely addictive. Most deaths occuring as a result of substitution with dangerous chemicals or water intoxication. Too much water = death.

GHB: as dangerous as alcohol: http://jop.sagepub.com/content/23/1/94.abstract

Methamphatmine: routinely given to children 6 years and older: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm088582.pdf

What are these harder drugs you're talking about?

@Strayan - Heroin and cocaine are listed as Schedule II drugs, which means they do have some medical uses, but it also means they're highly addictive. Meth is even more addictive than cocaine. I would highly recommend that you watch a series the National Geographic Channel recently aired called "Drugged: High on..." - they have an episode for marijuana, MDMA, and cocaine. It shows scientifically how each drug does what it does to a person's body, and films several people high on each drug so you can watch how they behave and feel. Here are links to the shows:
http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/series/drugged/5507/Overview88#tab-infographic

Excellent article.

I think that in general the Mexican government has been hitting the DTOs very hard arresting and killing many drug lords, more than any other time in history. Many criminals working for these DTOs have also been killed. There have been more that 30,000 people killed in this war and everybody agrees that the great mayority have been the criminals themselves getting killed everyday.

Before Calderon took power there were some divisions among the DTOs but nothing compared to what it´s happening now. There was actually a federation of drug cartels and their leaders met regularly. Those days are over, the Mexican government divided the cartels successfuly and it their endless deadly battles are weaking them and in some way making it easier for the authorities to take them.

Take the zetas for example, they used to be ex-soldiers from the Mexican and Guatemala armies, today most of those soldiers who initiated the gang have been killed and they had recruited young boys who are easy targets for the Mexican Army.

The rather fuzzy fact is, decade after decade, remove the profit incentive, decrease the drug related crime explosion. Wonder if people will ever be able to see the problem rationally? Sometimes it is very discouraging.

@Strayan - Sorry, but no intellectually or morally intact person can argue that meth is anything other than dangerous and evil -- and I choose that latter term very intentionally. Citing abstract scientific papers, as you do, is simply casuistic.

Meth is evil. It destroys individuals, families, and communities. Meth literally erodes the dopamine synapses of the brain, rendering the addict unable to experience pleasure normally. Once they're hooked, kicking the drug means returning to a world markedly different from the one they departed when they started using: nothing the addict enjoyed before meth will be quite as enjoyable again, because their brain has suffered a specific kind of damage, a neurochemical stripping of their Pleasure Reward Pathway (PRP). Which is why meth addicts have such a hard time getting clean, and such a high rate of relapse: they need the drug to feel "normal" again.

Can we agree there's something evil about that, in the context of someone encouraging others to use such a highly addictive and permanently damaging drug "recreationally"?

With respect, if you have not witnessed the destruction wrought by meth addiction first hand, then you don't know what you're talking about, no matter how many scientific papers you cite. Santa Clara County ("Silicon Valley") has four judges who do nothing, workday after workday, but take children away from meth-addicted parents. That is not an exaggeration, that is literally the work load. (OK, there may be a few oxycodone or heroin addicts in there, but the lion's share of cases is meth addicts -- you get the point.) Think about the raw human misery that judicial workload represents. It's a quiet social disaster, one sort of invisible to people whose lives are not touched in some way by drug addiction.

Look, as a society we have to come to some realistic accommodation with mind-altering substances. They're as old as civilization, and probably a little older than that. But there are good reasons why your laundry list of substances above should be carefully controlled and -- in my opinion -- mostly banned. California has pretty much de facto legalized pot (a $150 consultation fee to a Physician's Assistant can get you a medical marijuana card to treat your "stress"), and at the moment that's creating all kinds of problems. I think we'd all agree a 16-year-old completely blitzed on alcohol (say a .16% BAL, twice the legal limit for an adult) should not be driving. OK, how about a 16-year-old baked on a potent strain of "medical" marijuana? Well guess what? The second case is not currently illegal, even if that kid is swerving all over the road (you can get him for the reckless driving, but his being high on pot while driving is not per se illegal). Obviously, the legal system is going to have to catch up with the in-the-street reality we are now living in.

With some thoughtful law-crafting, I am in favor of marijuana being generally legalized, only because on balance I think it will represent less social harm, overall: it won't eradicate the illegal drug trade (as the RAND Corporation also argues in a recent report: http://www.rand.org/news/press/2010/10/12.html), but it will substantially decrease the black market and provide a tax base to support additional monitoring and LE action.

Sorry, I know I sound insufferably preachy, but I get incensed when I hear obviously intelligent people argue in favor of legalizing drugs, as if crack, meth, or heroin were the same as pot. All drugs are not created equal; some of them should remain strictly controlled, for very good reasons. Legalization is not some panacea or silver bullet solution for the problems represented by the illegal drug trade -- but "Isn't it pretty to think so?"

There is no scientific catergory called 'hard drugs'. It has been invented.

All drugs are potentially dangerous. Paracetamol/acetaminophen, for example, is responsible for an staggering number of overdoses in the USA. Do we consider that a 'hard drug'? What about alcohol? Is that a 'hard drug'? Caffeine intoxication can cause death. Does that make caffeine a 'hard drug'?

@strayan - You need to step away from the caffeine!

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