Monday, October 29, 2007
Guns, Drugs, and the U.S.A
Wikipedia's web page on "War on Drugs" includes the following:
- ".......the U.S. Government's cost report on drug control to be roughly $12 billion in 2005."
- "Additionally, the U.S. Government reports that the cost of incarcerating drug law offenders was $30 billion -- $9.1 billion for police protection, $4.5 billion for legal adjudication, and $11.0 billion for state and federal corrections (sic).
Richard Davenport-Hines, in his book The Pursuit of Oblivion (W.W. Norton & Company, 2001), criticized the efficacy of the War on Drugs by pointing out:
U.S. Guns Behind Cartel Killings in Mexico
TIJUANA, Mexico -- Assassins blasted Ricardo Rosas Alvarado, a member of an elite state police force, with a blizzard of bullets pumped out of AK-47 assault rifles.
Alvarado crumpled at the wheel of his sedan, yet another victim of the weapons known here as "goat's horns" because of their curved ammunition clips, and which can fire at a rate of 600 rounds per minute. The killing, Mexican authorities said, was a panorama of blood, shattered glass and torn metal that brutally showcased the firepower of Mexico's drug cartels. But that was just the warm-up.
Two hours later, a small army of cartel hit men descended on a federal police office and bunkhouse in this crowded city at one of the world's busiest border crossings. None of the officers, who had recently been sent here to crush the drug gangs terrorizing the city, were killed in the hail of more than 1,200 bullets, authorities said. But police veterans understood the message delivered to the newcomers: "Welcome to Tijuana. Our guns are bigger than your guns."
The high-powered guns used in both incidents on the evening of Sept. 24 undoubtedly came from the United States, say police here, who estimate that 100 percent of drug-related killings are committed with smuggled U.S. weapons.
The guns pass into Mexico through the "ant trail," the nickname for the steady stream of people who each slip two or three weapons across the border every day. The "ants" -- along with larger smuggling operations -- are feeding a rapidly expanding arms race between Mexican drug cartels.
The U.S. weapons -- as many as 2,000 enter Mexico each day, according to a Mexican government study -- are crucial tools in an astoundingly barbaric war between rival cartels that has cost 4,000 lives in the past 18 months and sent law enforcement agencies in Washington and Mexico City into crisis mode.
These drug traffickers, with their steady supply of U.S. weaponry, are the target of President Bush's proposed $500 million U.S. aid package to help Mexico battle cartels. Officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, or ATF, hope that some of the money will be used to give Mexican police chiefs greater access to U.S. databases for gun traces. Currently, the traces can be made only through federal police headquarters in Mexico City. Many police chiefs do not even bother to make requests because of the inevitable bureaucratic delays.
"You're looking at the same firepower here on the border that our soldiers are facing in Iraq and Afghanistan," Thomas Mangan, a spokesman in Phoenix for the ATF, said in an interview.