Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Useless Expense and Failed strategy

Sunday, June 17, 2012 |

Useless Expense and Failed Strategy

By the staff reporters at El Diario de Juarez

El Diario. 6-17-12.  Once again the futility of President Calderon's war against drugs was made evident; not even the deployment of federal and military forces, which coincided in Juarez with a bloody dispute among cartels and turned Juarez into the most violent city in Mexico, impacted the market nor put a stop to the drug trade to the United States.

On the contrary, according to the latest intelligence report from that country's Department of Justice, after 2011 the illegal shipment of cocaine, black tar heroin and metamphetamines increased and there's a greater availability of drugs in West Texas. The document, drafted by the NDIC, establishes that the spike in the flow of drugs coincides with the displacement by the cartel led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman of the organization led by Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, although this last still maintains control over a part of the corridor that goes through Juarez.

The final balance in this dispute that has gone on for four years is about 11,000 homicides. Despite the fact that the figures are lower after 2011, this number has no parallel in any other area.

It fell on the people of Juarez to suffer a war that not only brought death  and disintegration to thousands of families, but also devastated the economic and social structures that sustained the city's development. After that overly long critical juncture in which Juarez became an emblem of the binational war against drug trafficking  and in which the city came under fire from cartels that diversified their criminal activities, breaking lives and property, it hurts the citizens who survived the violence to learn that the sacrifice was for nothing.

It is repugnant, too, to confirm again and again that the strategy imposed by the United States and followed blindly by Mexico to attack drug trafficking is a farse because its financial structures remain untouched, and the demand by drug consumers intact. Little or nothing is done to inhibit consumption or the investment of drug proceeds.

It appears that the only objective that authorities from the neighboring country have is that of guaranteeing that things remain unchanged so that there is no lack of drugs for U.S. consumers, regardless of the trail of blood left by their trip through Mexico.

Another facet of this farse in the crusade against drugs is that only Mexicans are stigmatized as mafiosos while in the United States the cartel leaders who are citizens of that country remain faceless.

The prosecution in Texas for money laundering against Jose Trevino -- the brother of Miguel Angel Trevino, second in command of the Zetas -- and his sister Zulema, both United States citizens, illustrates one of a number of activities that the narco can use to launder money. The individuals that have been detained are accused of laundering money through the purchase of quarter horses and stables in racetracks such as the one in Ruidoso, New Mexico.  The activities and acquisitions of the Trevinos had raised suspicisions for some time in the horse racing industry, but U.S. authorities are only now taking action in an operation that according to Mexicos' Attorney General, Marisela Flores, began with the arrest of a Zeta cell by the Mexican Army.

And although the detainees are U.S. citizens, the operation is aimed at Mexican businessmen linked with the Zeta Cartel. Pancho Colorado, a Pemex contractor from Veracruz, has also been accused of being a front for Manuel and Oscar Trevino, which is why he decided last Thursday to surrender in Houston, Texas, to face the charges that the United States Department of Justice has brought against him.

But Anglo names and last names generally do not show up in large scale operations. A case which is emblematic of the permissive policy that the U.S. government follows in money laundering cases  brings us to the Bank of Wachovia, whose executives, without running any great risk, laundered millions of dollars from drug trafficking. According to news stories, between 2004 and 2007, Wachovia handled $378.4 billion dollars that they transferred Mexican currency exchange  businesses, without the bank's owners and executives worrying much about the source of these funds.

When the U.S. authorities detected the irregularities, they merely imposed a fine of $160 million, that is to say, less than 2% of its earnings in 2009. In effect, the punishment became an incentive for bankers and all sorts of businessmen to continue laundering money in violation of the law.

So long as practices like money laundering by banks are not prevented or punished in the U.S., the pressure to expand operations against trafficking on this side of the border, which has contributed to the escalation of violence instead of diminshing it, will continue to be insulting. The strategy of the war should not be limited to causing casualties among the traffickers, which generally results in fragmentation  of the cartels and more violence; what is urgently needed is a serious, legal battle against big enterprises (banks, currency exchange businesses, casinos, real estate, construction companies, among others) that are in the business of injecting drug money into the marketplace.

That's one part of the equation; the other part has to do with rescuing the economies devastated by the war. There, Juarez is once again an example of what can happen when, in the fight against crime, purely police measures are given priority over other basic investments. Empty commercial buildings (22% of commercial space vacant), closed down shopping centers, houses left vacant and destroyed, entire housing developments abandoned, empty lots full of trash or junk, torn up streets and sidewalks, and, generally, deficient and diminshed urban facilities, all reflect a city ruined by the economic recession brought on by violence and crime.

This crisis, in every sense of the word, did nothing but magnify the underdevelopment of the urban and social infrastructure.  The needs are obvious, with evidence of recovery that can barely be perceived after four years of hardship.

Given this devastation, one feels even more indignation that a useless war against drugs should have monopolized the greater part of the federal government's budget. While the deficit was growing here  (according to Juarez social and business sources, at least $5 billion dollars is needed  to rebuild the city), public funds were used to maintain a strong public safety employee payroll and federal and military operations all around the country, without any effect in the war against drug trafficking. Neither have the statistics on violence -- which has spiked to its highest levels, ever, in states like Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Jalisco or Veracruz-- nor the consumption of illegal drugs or their price on the market shown any evidence that the strategy has been productive.

Internal consumption (of drugs) is growing, drugs are still reaching the United States, the market grows, the the price has not even gone up. Drug trafficking has not stopped and, at the end of the day, the result does not translate into a decrease in cartel presence, but merely in a reassignment  of the drug corridors, internal reconfigurations, splits and new alliances.  

Fundamentally, nothing changes, and the distribution and money laundering web is guaranteed. The butchery of the war against drugs has only justified the multimillion budgets of public agencies on both sides of the border, but it doesn't seem to matter to anybody that in the midst of all this useless paraphernalia an entire city has bled to death.

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20 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

Great article. Confirms what most educated people already know and educates those who don't - the war on drugs is an utter failure.

anonymous said...

The price of drugs has gone up and there are periods of dry spells. The quality is bad and cut up with god knows what. Dont buy that crap. Get quality American bud, its better and doesn't leave a blood trail.

Anonymous said...

The strategy is useless because of corruption. 100% of the Mexican authorities are corrupt,including the military. The idea of a single police force in Mexico is ridiculous. One bribe and no more worries. Law enforcement in the United States is not perfect, but there are several law enforcement agencies that work independently of each other. One can be bribed, but it is difficult to bribe them all. Pobrecito Mexico.

Anonymous said...

Dope fiends are not asking to be saved. This war has been fought with the assumption that people will wake up tomorrow and forget they have a habit. Or that they'll feel guilty sucking on the pipe after seeing people butchered up into pieces. Not gonna happen. Stop trying to save crack heads! Its like trying to make nuns out of prostitutes.

777

Anonymous said...

Presidente Felipe Calderone did not shoot fifty thousand sicarios y halcones. They killed each other. If drogas were made legal, what do you think the bad people are going to do, paint stripes on the burro and go to the playa for tourist photos? Be a bartender? These are bad people. Caray! This is not a war about drugs, it is a war about crime! People who kill niños! Kill the innocent! -Desde México

Anonymous said...

Damn you said it the best.

Anonymous said...

Legalize it!!! Legalize all drugs just like guns are legal ... or illegalize guns. Either legalize both or illegalize both. I am just sick of these conservative hypocrites who claims we must have guns legal (for safety reasons), but cant legalize drugs (for safety reasons).
If guns were illegal the drug war could maybe be won, as long as guns remain legal the drug war leads to nothing but tears and destruction.
Any a§%hole claiming that the two issues are not related is just that: an a§%hole!

Anonymous said...

Sorry El Diario but what you fail to understand that sometimes it takes an increase in bloodshed to calm things down. I think when these guys wake up and realize all thier friends and family are dead they then realize they were lucky and change their outlook on life. I met a guy in Costa Rica once who told me amazing stories of his time in the 80's in Columbia working under Pablo, he told me the same thing....

Anonymous said...

U can thank el chapo for begining this war, with the help of the federal gov helping him clean all the old turf of the cdj!!!

2319ojo_despistado805 said...

Expect this mexico is just a distribution as well as production warehouse for drugs not anybodys fault america has a high rate of consumers and has many access points to other countries this is reality don't cry bout it live with it could be your relative son brother or dad putting that pipe to ther lips or that needle in ther veins or he can be on the other end breaking down that brick into ounces and infesting your streets NOTHING CHANGES its life DEAL WITH IT
Como dijo Don Mayo Zambada "si me matan o me atrapan nada cambia"

Anonymous said...

Calderon is linked to el chapo, all this war on drugs was a big plot to overthrow all cartels and keep sinaloa, the pan party will get millions in return, they dont care about the people and neither does chapo

Anonymous said...

first comment said it best!

Anonymous said...

"Presidente Felipe Calderone did not shoot fifty thousand sicarios y halcones. They killed each other. If drogas were made legal, what do you think the bad people are going to do, paint stripes on the burro and go to the playa for tourist photos? Be a bartender? These are bad people. Caray! This is not a war about drugs, it is a war about crime! People who kill niños! Kill the innocent! -Desde México"

Exactly!!

Anonymous said...

It always amazes me how the "journalists" in Mexico totally avoid laying the blame where it belongs. One of the hallmarks of the Spanish language is that you can talk or write for days without saying anything. In fact, in Spanish the more flowery and wordy and obtuse, the better.

So, the Juarez newspaper, the newspaper for the city that has been the shithole of North America for 50 years, is telling it how it is - it's the gringos. The gringos are to blame for everything. I'm sure they got a nice payoff from the narcos for writing such a meaningless report. Must have been worth a lot to el chapo and his brethren.

hahahaha - it's a gringo, racist conspiracy. Mexico ain't going nowhere. The economy got better? Sure it did, from selling millions of dollars worth of drugs to the US and Canada and Europe. Otherwise Mexico's economy will stay in the 1950's because they want the US to take care of everything for them. Walmart's in trouble now for all the bribes they paid to open stores in Mexico. So we pay the bribes and you don't like it and we don't pay the bribes to start huge businesses that create 1,000s of jobs and you don't like it - ????

Anonymous said...

"This is not a war about drugs, it is a war about crime! People who kill niños! Kill the innocent! -Desde México"
Oh shit,someone with a bit of sense?Instead of all these hysterical clowns bangin on about drug takers.And how it is all the fault of the US?
Saludos hermano

Anonymous said...

Your comment is ridiculous. Yes there will always be bad people who prey on others. But...when you give criminals a literal bottomless pot of gold (drug market) you can damn well bet there are going to be a lot more criminals. Abject poverty plus a never ending pool of easy money will always equal more crime. Prohibition has never worked anywhere ever. People like to get high. Only unrealistic fools still think the drug war is worth one more dollar. It is a flawed concept from top to bottom. And don't even try to start with that "surrender" crap. It's a stupid war with no objective. The day the world decides to give up drugs is the day a horse and a pig conceive a unicorn. It's either legalize and control, turn the laws into draconian dark age crimes in themselves, or continue fighting a failed war that is lining the pockets of all sorts of low lives (many "legitimate" people as well). What really seems like the best strategy really?

Anonymous said...

Please follow JAvier Sicillia a known poet and commentator whom in MArch of last year lost his son due to the violence. He had come to this conclusion long time ago. He is now an activist against violence and relAted .

Anonymous said...

The drug war is a success. It employees people who couldn't get a job any other way. The police state is here to stay.

Anonymous said...

How can you ever get a handle of it while you have rampant corruption from the local cop all the way up, and honest people earning 8 dollars a day ??
Is it any wonder so many say "we can't beat them, so we might as well join them" ?
If you want to get rid of the dirty, it might be best to start with cleaning your own ass first.

Anonymous said...

"hahahaha - it's a gringo, racist conspiracy"
Where doe's that bullshit come from?Do they really believe that?If they could get a grip on their corruption and violence,maybe the US,and other nations would invest in manufacturing in Mexico?No,they would rather do things the way they have,for centuries,and blame the the poor old gringo white,who gets blamed for just about everything along with the US?Go figure?

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