Wednesday, January 16, 2008

US made fewer cocaine seizures in 2007

After all the hype we heard last year from drug czar John Walters declaring that cocaine availability in US cities was drying up, now we know that not only is cocaine still widely available, the US stopped fewer cocaine shipments in 2007 than in 2006. Reported AP ("Fewer cocaine shipments stopped in 2007," Jan. 15), overall, "seizures fell from 262 metric tons in 2006 to about 210 tons last year."

Think about that: With all the increased presence on the border, the billions spent boosting the border patrol, the National Guard and overtime for local departments to curb smuggling, cocaine interdiction declined?! The reasons, as reported by AP, are frustratingly predictable; smugglers can change tactics faster than the government can:
"In any given contest of offense and defense you've got to adjust your tactics," [Navy Adm. Jim] Stavridis said, alluding to a conclusion reached by [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike] Mullen and others that the drug cartels are nimbler than the U.S. government. They are finding new ways of eluding detection at sea, such as shipping drugs in semi-submersible vessels, and are flying drug routes from sites in western Venezuela that are harder to stop, officials said.
So that's why all these politicized border security programs, apparently, have done less than nothing to stop the flow of cocaine into the country; in fact, this massive increased spending coincided with a reduction in overall seizures. (Pete at Drug War Rant rightly wonders how Walters will explain himself?)

It's not like US security officials don't understand the real problems. Last year the deputy assistant secretary of defense for counternarcotics declared that "'The No. 1 narcotics problem we face is demand in the United States.” And yet most all the focus - certainly the bulk of drug war spending by the government - goes toward supply-side interdiction and incarceration, not treatment or other demand reduction.

Words fail me, other than to ask, how do you define success? Does this look like it? Ugh.


Anonymous said...

You define success anyway you want, that's how the government does it across the board. I did some consulting work for the EPA and their project was in shambles, but they reworked what success was and got to hire more people to redo the project. I guess in a way it's good our government is so inept, otherwise it might be worse.

Anonymous said...

It's like any other government work, if they succeed, they're out of a job.

The strategy is always to do just enough to keep and grow the budget.

It also helps to make sure everyone believes what is being done is worthwhile. I agree.....ugh!

Don said...

How will the drug czar explain fewer cocaine seizures? Probably by saying we scared them off and they are not trying to smuggle as much across. We have to keep in mind that most people are not as attuned to this as you, I, and most of your readers, and they can say pretty much anything and get away with it. The "gubmint" said it, so it must be true.

Unknown said...

Believe it or not: the same conventional wisdom that - without any evidence whatsoever - states that certain drugs cause addictions [in those 5% prone to addictions] also states that we only interdict less than half of what's coming in. By this perverse logic: fewer interdictions= less cocaine actually coming in. Of course, if we wanted to "win" the war, using this logic all we would have to do is end interdictions. After all, zero is half of zero.