Saturday, October 27, 2007

Survey results: What is the structure of the US market for illegal drugs?

Time to round up responses to this week's reader survey which asked, "Several well-known cartels dominate most Mexican drug trafficking. Do you believe there exist American criminal cartels similar to those in Mexico?"

I posed the question after Governor Perry's security guru Fred Burton from Stratfor asserted that America had no large cartel-style criminal organizations because US law enforcement was too efficient and hard to corrupt. It turned out, only 3% of Grits readers agreed with Mr. Burton, but a surprising number overall - around 42% - agreed generally that America did not have large, Mexican cartel-style organized crime gangs.

With more than 200 responses, 14% said the US drug market is dominated by small, regional distributors, while 24% thought that the cartels' organizations themselves already extend into the US and control drug-smuggling crime gangs here in the states. Fifty-eight percent agreed with my assessment in this post that, since most of the huge sums of money spent on drugs comes from the US, some American capitalist crook was probably controlling the US portion.

I'm glad I asked the survey question, because having it up there made me think about the topic all week, and the range of responses actually made me reconsider my position (even though most readers agreed with my original stance). The more I read and think on it, the more I believe it likely that Mexican cartels work directly in America with decentralized networks of regional distributors and corrupt law enforcement. One commenter suggested that prison gangs were the de facto national network, and that could be partially true as well.

Of course, maybe there is one or more big-league American Gangster who's been successfully shielded from media and law enforcement scrutiny. We can't know for sure. But capitalism is a messy and dynamic thing, and it's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that Mexican crime organizations have extended their reach far enough into the United States to control their own distribution channels.

In any event, it's hubris in my view to believe, as Burton and 3% of Grits readers do, that US law enforcement is significantly shielded from corruption. Hell, we've seen elected sheriffs and drug task force supervisors shepherding drug trafficking caravans through their jurisdictions!

I've argued before and still believe that border security money should first go to root out official corruption on both the US and Mexican side before wasting money on "training" corrupt police. (In the worst case scenario, the US brought a team of Mexican commandos to Fort Benning, GA to receive special forces training who went back home, defected, and became Los Zetas, a feared mercenary band who fight on behalf of the Gulf Cartel.)

I'm increasingly frustrated that US border policies not only seem to ignore but worsen the threat of powerful Mexican criminal gangs operating in America. While a whopping 73% of Americans currently think illegal drugs are a "serious problem," honestly you haven't begun to see real trouble until Los Zetas show up in your town.

UPDATE: Mark Bennett from Defending People emails to say:
I don't think there exist American druglords. I've seen lots of cases involving American drug dealers, and all of them end with small-scale (tens of kilos) purchases from Mexicans. If there were American druglords, I would expect to have seen at least one case where the trail petered out with someone who wouldn't talk about his American boss.

There is undoubtedly corruption in US law enforcement, but there are too many agencies with jurisdiction over drug crime for a druglord to confidently preserve his freedom by bribing cops.
NUTHER UPDATE: A reader forwarded a link to this article from Mad Cow News (Oct. 29) in response to the assertion that there are no "American drug lords": Bush fundraiser linked to CIA drug plane.


Anonymous said...

Evidently, these folks haven't heard of Barrio Azteca. They run drugs for the Mexican cartels up into the Mid-West and are rumored to be moving further east. Then there's always TS and the Eme.

Anonymous said...

You know, I really believe that there's no need for a big drug boss in the U.S. for the Gulf cartels to do their business unencumbered. With hundreds of prison gang members running the streets in Texas alone doing their bidding, it keeps law enforcemnt on their toes but they can't put even a mild dent in the drug trade.

I can assure you that prison gangs like the Texas Syndicate and Pistoleros, and to some extent the Mexican Mafia, are not going to allow the cartels to gain a foot hold in Texas, either through the Zetas or MS-13. The prison gangs control Texas. The FBI knows this but down plays it, which is probably a good idea so as not to inflate their ego.

The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas and the Aryan Circle run the guns for the TS so, fire power is not a problem. Don't ever, ever, underestimate the Texas Syndicate. They're as ruthless as they come and they know the back roads.

Anonymous said...

There's only one way to put them out of business. The same way we put the Mafia out of the alcohol business.

Anonymous said...

There is a ready supply of drugs on any streetcorner in America. The main supplier is medicare/medicaid abuse for prescription drugs and Mexico for illegal drugs. The War on Drugs is a joke. The only thing it does is keep the "New Deal" prisons full.

Anonymous said...

Well, touch Mark Bennett.

Anonymous said...

If we can't keep drugs out of our jails and prisons, where there are no freedoms from searches, and having every technology known to mankind. With snitches, UA's on demand etc..
How realistic is it to think we can keep them out of the freest country on earth?

No matter how well meaning and self justified a BAD policy is portrayed. If logic, truth, facts and common sense CAN NOT support it much less justify it, why should anybody fund it much less support it? Why is it that a policies OWN documented YEARS of failures and inability to achieve “ ONE “ of it stated goals, is still unquestionable with no accountability?? There is not a company IN THE WORLD that would still be in business with the lack ability to achieve it’s stated goals and lack of return on investment this failed policy has, much less after 30+ years!

If we have been using the right “ TOOLS “ to solve this problem, after 30+ years why does the need for resources, funding and the demand for the forfeiture of our civil liberties and rights continue to GO UP YEAR AFTER YEAR ? Would not logic and common sense dictate just the opposite should be happening “ IF “ we were on the right path?

As long as we let those with bigoted self serving agendas continue to violate our people and our children as well as the very beliefs and freedoms this country was founded upon while continuing to profit from " PEOPLE RANCHING " nothing will change!

The next time you hear a person say, " I lost a family member to drugs, or watched it destroy their lives "! Ask them If this drug war is working after 30+ years why did your family suffer? The other side of this argument is, why should MILLIONS of others with no problems, be violated while having their families terrorized , abused and beheld accountable or responsible for a MINORITY of another’s mistakes, weakness and or ignorance.

Those claiming to be of faith, who attempt to claim sole ownership of the “ ALMIGHTIES “ gifts to all mankind and turn it in to a weapon to justify terrorizing and abusing his flock, might want to reconsider this path BEFORE THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT! I for one don’t believe “ HE “ is going to be very happy about it.

There Has To Be A Better Way!:)

Rusty White

Anonymous said...

Rusty White, "A voice crying in the wilderness".

I hear you, Mr. White and I believe you are correct.

If there is a Judgment Day, there will be many pious and self righteous people who dared to call themselves "Christians", who will find themselves saying "When, Lord, did we deny you, persecute, imprison you, or kill you, for consuming or handling a "substance", medicine, or plant?"

Anonymous said...


Sadly your so right!:( Many have had their houses of worship and their faith manipulated in to weapons for self serving agendas OF ALL KINDS!

There will be a day when NOBODIES position on this earth from President, Governor or " ANY " self pro-claimed chosen ones " AT ANY LEVEL " WILL MEAN ANYTHING!

I feel pity for them, because the " ALMIGHTY " WILL HAVE NONE! IMHO.


Anonymous said...

It's not like they haven't had the opportunity to see the truth of the matter.

Matthew 25:31-46 (New International Version)

The Sheep and the Goats
31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Anonymous said...

And if you think that consuming a drug or herb or chemical or medicine is good reason to persecute anyone, perhaps you have, according to your traditions, found a way to nullify these words.

Matthew 15
Clean and Unclean

3Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' 5But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,' 6he is not to 'honor his father' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
8" 'These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.'"

10Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. 11What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.' "

12Then the disciples came to him and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?"

13He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

15Peter said, "Explain the parable to us."

16"Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them. 17"Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.' "

Anonymous said...

Sharing these passages is not meant to be a wild eyed threat.

It's not a threat...I'm only trying to warn those who claim to be Christian and might be fooled by certain things that have "The appearance of wisdom", and because of being fooled by that "Appearance of wisdom", persecute and support persecuting others in the name of, that "Appearance of wisdom", the War on Drugs, and pull you from that future judgment.

Colossians 2

18Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

20Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21"Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? 22These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Anonymous said...

Oh well... Who is worried about going to hell for mistreating and harshly judging people, anyway?

Certainly not Christians. They have a free ticket to Heaven. They're saved and they face no judgment, unless that's true about the goats and sheep, of course.

I think we may already be here, anyway...hell, I mean, by the looks of it.

Actually, in our recognition of germs, bacteria, and viruses...unwashed hands are very dangerous.

Shouldn't we make more serious laws than we have now about it? Unclean hands should be a felony!

I'm sure there are already some laws about such things...but we need to get serious about it, don't we?

Serious prison time is called for,probably. Surely we already have fines for such. They aren't working. Some people are still nasty.

I hate the idea of unwashed hands...especially among the serving public.

Somebody needs to do something about this.

We need hand testing, too.

This could be bigger, and maybe more profitable, than the drug war.

Unclean hands can kill. What was Jesus thinking?

Could it have been about something more than clean or unclean hands? Maybe it was about being a goody two shoes, busybody, misled, or a Pharisee or Sadducee, or politician or hater, and judging others about specks in their eyes and overlooking the logs in our own. Nah. It was only about clean or unclean, real, in the flesh, hands.

It's bad to use drugs....and it's good to hurt and pursue people who do use them. It's good? Isn't it? Surely Jesus would approve of that.

Is it good to be part of persecuting people for what they consume? I's drugs. Everybody knows that drugs are the worst thing in the world. They're just like murder or rape. So are dirty hands.

Of course, we haven't, as a society, gone far enough, yet. No more drugs! That means aspirin, tylenol, ibuprofen, prozac, insulin, caffeine, alcohol, supplements and antibiotics, too. We need to get society pure and clean and righteous.

I read about a guy who ate a bicycle once. He swallowed it a chunk at a time.

Somebody should have hurt him for that.

He needed to be hurt more than he was already hurting himself, to teach him a lesson.

What the heck kind of message to the children did letting that guy get away with eating that bicycle send?

We have to send messages and signals to the children that if they do something dangerous...and somehow survive...that we, through our government and law enforcement, will make them think "hurt".

We'll show them what "hurt" means. That's the message. They better get it, too...or it'll be a lot worse than just a thump up side of the head.

Oh, and that it's ok for government to lie and intimidate and bully them...because that's what government does.

Adolf Hitler believed that a purged, cleaned up, and harshly manipulated and controlled society was a good society...and I bet he kept his hands sanitary, too.

I think he claimed to be a Christian, too. And, oh yeah, he didn't smoke.

True Christianity is about punishing, purging, and controlling. Everyone knows that.

That mercy and love stuff is for the birds. He probably didn't mean it anyway. He was joking with all that mercy, and forgiveness, and love stuff.

Being merciful and loving is being a real whuss and so namby pamby. Real men and women, and real Christians know better than that.