The title of this post is the headline to a Christian Science Monitor story (11/22) describing an outcome that was not only predictable but, at the time, predicted, at least on this blog. The article opens:
The goal was to curb production of methamphetamine by cutting off key ingredients. It worked: Domestic production of methamphetamine fell. But a blow to meth labs in the United States became, in turn, a boon to a group in Mexico.
La Familia started manufacturing meth a few years earlier in the western state of Michoacán. By 2006, the group had emerged as a major distributor.
No one claims that the emergence of La Familia was the direct result of the US law. But US production of meth has decreased dramatically since 2004, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center's National Methamphetamine Threat Assessment of 2008.
A global report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime from 2008 also shows a 92 percent decline in the number of large-capacity labs in the US from 2001 to 2007. But in the same period, methamphetamine seized along the Mexican border dramatically increased. (There was a significant dip again in 2007, but seizure numbers are still higher than they were in 2001.)
Experts say that the expansion of meth networks operated by Mexican organizations is a major factor in the sustained meth supplies in the US today, even with new import restrictions on chemicals in Mexico.
Some are not surprised.
Count me among those unsurprised to learn that the gang La Familia Michoacana rose to power on a lucrative wave of meth smuggling thanks to restrictions on pseudoephedrine in the US market. Rather than focus on treating addicts, for some reason US policymakers thought it was a better idea to force them to buy their meth from gangsters instead of making it at home. Homemade meth was bad news, but rural meth cooks weren't beheading police officers or gunning down children as is happening now in Mexico. Sometimes better the devil you know.
I've been beating the drum about this unintended but painfully obvious outcome on this blog for years. Por ejemplo:
- Texas' anti-meth law shifted production to Mexico; prevention and treatment underfunded
- Redefining drug war success
- Stop digging: US policies enriching Mexican drug cartels
- Are we winning the war on sniffles?
- Mexican meth: 'I'm afraid what we did was create a monster'
- More on the war on sniffles
- War on sniffles worsens public safety
- Pseudoephedrine restrictions raise fears of 'more addiction, more overdoses and more violence'
- Oklahoma meth law not working
- Tradeoffs: Mexican cartels boost meth involvement
- Oklahoma meth law overhyped