Thursday, August 31, 2006

More on Mexican Crime

Well, my post on Crime in Mexico was either ill-timed or ill-conceived, I'm not sure which. But after I blogged about relative murder rates in Mexico City and Houston (Houston's homicide rate is much higher compared to its population), a rash of beheadings of police in Acapulco by Mexican drug cartels topped the headlines about Mexican crime, launching a new spate of articles to come out in the MSM.

The end of a recent ABC News item, for once, framed the matter from the Mexican perspective:

"[The drug cartels] approach you and they tell you, 'Plata or plomo?,' " [Webb County Sheriff Rick] Flores said. "It means, 'Money or lead? Which one do you want?' "

But in Nuevo Laredo, many Mexicans look across the river and see a never-ending American demand for illegal drugs and a willingness to spend tens of millions of dollars on the cartels that supply them.

"If I was in Laredo, Texas, I'd be embarrassed because the drug corridor is I-35 all the way to Dallas," Nuevo Laredo shop owner Suneson said. "So if this is an easy, a lucrative corridor, this means these drugs are getting across, and the United States is not doing its job. The demand in the United States, this insatiable demand that exists, is driving this frenzy over here, and that's really the problem."

The larger problem may be a combination of American demand, Mexican supply, and a culture of corruption. The unfortunate results along the Rio Grande are one city already paralyzed by fear and another deeply worried that the deadly drug violence is steadily making its way to the American side of the border.

That "may" be the larger problem? Supply and demand? Shocking! Meanwhile, that same Invisible Hand puts US enforcers in a frustrating Catch-22 situation, as Reuters reports that the border crackdown is boosting profits for criminal enterprises of all sorts.
Increased security on the U.S.-Mexican border is turning human smuggling into a multi-billion dollar criminal industry and attracting violent gangs with ties to Mexican drug cartels, authorities say. ...

Police and prosecutors in Arizona, where around half of the almost 1.2 million illegal immigrants caught crossing from Mexico last year were nabbed, say the success has transformed a trade once dominated by "mom and pop" outfits into an industry taking in up to $2.5 billion a year.

"What we are seeing here is the birth of a new organized criminal activity," said Cameron Holmes, the chief of financial remedies at the Arizona Attorney General's office. "We have seen smuggling here for years, but because of increased enforcement at the border it has grown exponentially," he added.
Was that really the goal of a border crackdown? The "birth of a new organized criminal activity?" By all accounts, the US border security strategy deserves nomination in the Stupid Security Awards, possibly in several categories.

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