Thursday, August 13, 2009

US Mexico Winning the Drug War

Secretary Napolitano claims we are winning the drug war. She basis this on the amount of drug seizures. Using drug seizures as a metric for drug investigations is fraught with errors. Yes, you get to brag about how big the seizure is but you don't know how much more got away. If US agents seized 4.2 million pounds, that simply means the drug cartels grew or produced another 8.4 million pounds to replace it. The economies are such that for all of the costs associated with enforcement and conviction, the drug dealers are spending pennies in comparison. Gauging enforcement efforts based on seizures alone is akin to former Sec Def McNamara's fixation on body counts as a way to defining victory during the Vietnam War.

WASHINGTON -- The United States and Mexico are "winning" an often brutal war against drug cartels that operate across the border separating the two countries, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday.

"We are not only fighting this fight, but we are winning it," Napolitano, a former border state governor, said in prepared remarks at a border security conference in the frontier city of El Paso, Texas.

Noting that drug seizures since the beginning of this year had totaled 4.2 million pounds (1000 tonnes), Napolitano said the United States was now presented with a "unique opportunity to break up these cartels" that must be seized.

Her comments came one day after President Barack Obama visited Mexico, throwing his weight behind Mexico's crackdown on violent drug cartels that control much of the flow of illegal narcotics from South America to the United States.

Napolitano highlighted a string of drug and weapons seizures as evidence that the billion-dollar-plus war against the drug cartels was succeeding, despite a violent push back from gangs who have often appeared able to outgun and outspend Mexican federal forces.

The United States has pledged around 1.6 billion dollars to tackle drug trafficking in Mexico and Central America under the Merida Initiative, which also includes funds for training and equipment to boost security on the Mexican side of the border.

Since coming to office the Obama administration has acknowledged the US role in the violence, pledging to stem the flow of weapons into Mexico and curb demand for drugs in the United States.

"So far this year, we have seized 2.4 million pounds (one million kilograms) of drugs, more than 95,000 rounds of ammunition, and more than 500 assault rifles and handguns," Napolitano said.

Warning that further violence was likely, she offered support for the government of Mexican President Felipe Calderon despite allegations of military human rights abuses.

"We have a strong partner in President Calderon," Napolitano said. "We are fighting this fight together with the government of Mexico."

Napolitano said that defeating the cartels would take several years, and compared it to the US fight against the Mafia.

"The fighting has resulted in more than 12,000 deaths in Mexico, and there will, no doubt be more," Napolitano warned.

© 2009 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.


bigtrees said...

The drug war will be won when there is ZERO illicit drug use in the U.S. Until that time arrest and seizure statistics are as meaningless as body counts were in Vietnam. And we all know what happened there.

Anonymous said...

The drug war will be won when there is ZERO tolerance for ANY drug (caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, legal drugs, herbals, ginseng etc) or until PROHIBITION will be repealed. I guess Bigrtres didn't pay attention in her history class; besides you can never win because you can NEVER tell a human being what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.

Anonymous said...

That's never going to happen bigtrees. Americans like their freedoms too much, so much so that 10% of the population defied this 'War on Drugs' in the last year. 25 MILLION Americans partook in cannabis. We'll never be able to successfully tell Americans what they can do behind closed doors, as long as it doesn't hurt other people. Alcohol's Prohibition failed miserably in the 20's and 30's, the 'War on Drugs' (and the Americans who use them) has been failing for the last forty years.

Alcohol kills 150,000 Americans every year, and addicts 15% of its users.
Cigarettes kill 450,000 Americans every year, and addict 30%+ of its users.
Cannabis kills ZERO Americans every year, and can cause dependence in 10% of its users.
WHY is marijuana illegal again? Because according to the facts, marijuana is less harmful, and less addictive than these two LEGAL drugs. All we want is parity. Let us pay taxes and be recognized as proud citizens, instead of dirty little criminals. After all, we're only 10% of the population.

There are more stoners than there are Asian-Americans in this country.


Bob Baylor said...

The problem with focusing efforts exclusively on one area (Southwest border) is all smugglers have to do is adjust their routes. Illegal drug use is a societal issue and not one that can be addressed though incarceration. As some have already pointed out, as long as people want to use illegal drugs there will always be people willing to sell drugs to them.