Saturday, February 28, 2015

DPS border 'surge' failed to reduce drug supplies, which increased

Let's bottom line the effectiveness of Texas' border security measures. DPS and the National Guard aren't immigration enforcers and they score no "apprehensions" following the overwhelming number of documented "detections" of illegal border crossings (53 out of 113,000). So from a law enforcement perspective, drug enforcement vs. the cartels is the main reason they're down there (even if most of the GOP base fails to grasp the distinction). Jeremy Schwartz at the Austin Statesman (Feb. 27) further demonstrated the futility of that effort when he reported that the DPS surge has had no impact on retail drug prices in Texas, at all, meaning DPS has done nothing to reduce drug supplies and the whole "surge" gambit has been a pointless fiasco.

Indeed, reported Schwartz, drug prices declined during this period, meaning availabilty of drugs increased in response to the DPS surge, or at least in spite of it.  This exchange from a recent Texas Senate Finance Committee meeting captured the seldom-spoken reality:
“Can you sit there and say there’s been a reduction of street drugs in any of our major metropolitan areas?” [state Sen. John] Whitmire continued.

“I can’t say there has been,” [DPS chief Steve] McCraw responded. “The challenge we have now with numbers on street cost, there’s no question that it’s a good indicator of whether we are succeeding or not.”
Instead, “'We’re not seeing any slowdown in supply,' said Greg Thrash, resident agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Austin.' From the wholesale level, (illegal drug prices) are dropping like the price of gas (was).'”

Illegal drugs operate in an unfettered black market and their pricing reflects raw supply and demand. If prices are "dropping," more drug supply is entering the market, meaning DPS' "surge" not only didn't reduce drug trafficking, they presided over its statewide expansion with this misbegotten "Ready, Fire, Aim!" strategy.

See related Grits posts:


Anonymous said...

I think I'd rather spend my tax dollars on something that actually might help me.

Anonymous said...

Heck, they might just win the war against the cartels outright with $800,000,000 spent in a more devious fashion.

Imagine a concert festival with a big fence around the perimeter like "Austin City Limits" except with camping like the Kerrville Folk Festival. The state provides FREE DRUGS to the people inside the fence. Nobody is allowed to leave with drugs or leave while high on drugs. Set one of these things up in every major city.

Sure, there would be security issues but instead of securing a 1200 mile international border you are securing a city park.

The free-market-libertarian Republicans might support it with the understanding that free drugs would ruin the profit motive for the cartels and undermine the black market. The no-fun-puritanical actions-have-consequences Republicans will continue to "just say no" without considering novel approaches.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@9:06, we'll call that the "Hamsterdam Option."

Anonymous said...

There should be justice department investigation as to where this money is actually going as it is awkwardly obvious there is no societal benefit. Almost a billion dollars vanishing into thin air.

Anonymous said...

The only kind of socialist jobs programs supported by some people are those that create almost nothing of measurable value. If your jobs program actually BUILDS something then political opponents have something objective to complain about like The Big Dig in Boston or The Bridge To Nowhere in Alaska. The US military is another socialist jobs program that has wide support even though it creates almost nothing of measurable value.

Anonymous said...

The $815 million DPS surge is just another duplication of governent services between the state and federal goverment. The Chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee Senator Jane Nelson stated the surge polls well in her district and justified her decision based on that alone. Even though border cities such as El Paso are some of the safest in the US, Texas will continue to pull law enforcement resources to the 13 border counties for this unneeded surge. When basic goverment services such as CPS, education, mental health, and prisons go underfunded, I wonder how well increasing taxes in the future to pay for not only basic services, but an unnecessary surge will poll in Senate Jane Nelson's district. The $815 million political theatre is too high. That money needs to be spread out across the state... What is being done to stop weed growing operations in East Texas? The largest marijuana bust in Texas occurred a fee months ago in Polk County. Securing the border at the cost of making rural Texas the new frontier for organized crime is a flawed mistake. Texas Republicans will lose their base in rural Texas if flawed decisions such the one Senator Jane Nelson has made continue. Is waste of taxpayers money is still a waste of taxpayers money, and true fiscal conservatives recognize that.