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cockswain's avatar

What is going to happen in Mexico as the drug lords continue to gain power?

Asked by cockswain (15186 points ) September 15th, 2011

I don’t know exactly what question to ask, I just want to discuss this topic.

What got me thinking about it today was this article. Basically people are being killed for starting a website that would alert authorities to drug violence.

Even places like Acapulco aren’t particularly safe for tourists anymore. I wonder if it’s because the drug lords would rather have live there, on the beach, than central Mexico.

Law enforcement officers are either successfully bribed to look the other way, or their families are killed.

Anyways, the drug smuggling and violence was a big problem in 2007. Now it’s 2011 and my guess is that “something” should be done. But what can be done? What is going to happen to the Mexican gov’t if the drug lords continue to gain power and influence? Should the US intervene more, and if so, what should they do?

I was wondering if legalizing the drugs might be the solution. I know narcotics are far more addictive than marijuana and (short term) alcohol, so this would add a cost to US society in the form of healthcare, education, and probably some lost productivity. But this would be weighed against the money saved not fighting the drug war and adding a tax base. Not to mention there should be a huge reduction in gang related crime, both at the border and throughout the US.

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20 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

Oh, we’d never consider legalization! Just look what happened when we legalized alcohol, for example: We had to fight a World War!

That’s the kind of apparent illogic behind reasons why not to legalize, I think.

For the foreseeable future, and given our continued political illogic on the topic, look at a bigger and closer repeat of the Medellin and Cali cartels from Colombia in the 1980s. For an excellent account of what was going on there and the US assistance to the Colombian government in stopping it, read Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden.

FutureMemory's avatar

Heh, we’re so backwards that I bet some people would complain that if we legalized drugs, it would put certain factions of law enforcement out of work.

mazingerz88's avatar

I won’t be of much help. It’s mind boggling to me that a whole nation couldn’t get rid of drug lords. I do understand they have billions on their hands and they could buy enough people to survive and thrive. But a whole military unable to get rid of this shit? Drug buying Americans are complicit on this since it’s their cash that’s filling up the drug lord’s money bags.

cockswain's avatar

Imagine how awful the politics would be if someone in Congress got some support behind a serious bill.

cockswain's avatar

@mazingerz88 Americans are never going to stop buying and using drugs. It would be like trying to get them all to stop drinking.

mazingerz88's avatar

@cockswain Yup. I guess the Mexican culture is complicit as well. I hardly could blame them though. If I was a cop or worse, a civilian and thugs make me choose between a bribe or slaughtering my kids; I’ll choose the money. The only thing that could make me do otherwise is if Mexico has a witness protection program like the US. Not gonna happen. And if it did, someone would be on the drug lord’s payroll.

CWOTUS's avatar

@cockswain

No, I think you’re wrong about Congress, and I hate to see them maligned (unfairly maligned, anyway).

I think if we made drug acquisition a government mandate and gave it government sponsorship the whole market would crash… requiring a bailout.

noservice's avatar

Mexico has always had it rough. My parents grew up in a particularly bad area in the south. Then, the government was almost as bad as the drug lords. But according to them, it wasn’t so bad even then as it is now. So in short… I don’t know what’s going to happen to Mexico. I do know that my parents will probably never allow us to go with them to visit their extended family still living there. They wouldn’t want to place their two Americanized kids in danger.

Pandora's avatar

I think China was able to build a huge great wall and we should try the same thing. on our side of the Mexican border and in the future whenever they capture smugglers coming in and mules, give them the death penalty. That will give them something to think about.
If they find them transporting in the ocean, than shoot them and feed them to the fishes. Problem is we are not extremely serious about an extremely serious problem.
After all, drug lords are quite serious so why shouldn’t we respond in kind. They keep their shit over there and they can do what they want. Sorry for Mexico but this is one mess their own government should handle. They know who all the drug lords are. If they want to fix their problems than they should just drop bombs on their homes and be done with it.

JLeslie's avatar

The violence and crime in Mexico makes me very sad. And, the violence in the US for that matter.

I was talking about this just the other day with someone, and they too suggested legalizing drugs in the US to solve the problem. I had always been on the side of legalizing drugs, but a couple of years ago on a Fluther question, someone said their mind was changed on the topic when they spoke to someone who said it all sounds good in theory, but the countries in Europe that legalized drugs have some significant problems. I really don’t know enough about it. Then I was thinking places like Singapore, and other countries where they practically put you to death for using certain drugs, seems to have low crime and be very safe. So, the trick is one extreme or the other maybe? As far as Marijuana goes, I really think it should be legal, I don’t see how it is much different than alcohol. Let people grow it in their backyards.

If we did do something to really seal up the border, as @pandora suggested the problem might dry up. I don’t agree with her sentiment of tough luck Mexicans, but if they do not have Americans to sell to, the business would dry up anyway.

Lastly, if Mexico had less corruption in general, less poverty, a larger middle class, and better education system, more work opportunities, better wages, people would not seek out a life of crime so readily in my opinion. Oh, hmmm, I would say the same about the US at this point actually, but Mexico is actually a little worse than the US. For now.

HungryGuy's avatar

Legalize drugs. Take the insane profits away.

woodcutter's avatar

It hasn’t reached the necessary tipping point yet. What that is I’m not sure. The cartels are going to have to do something extreme or brazen on the US side. Maybe then the president will stop listening to Calderon and place troops on the border and new rule: no goddammed beanbag rounds from now on. We go full ball ammunition in conjunction with the hellfire missiles. They are good enough for Alkiada and they are good enough for drug runners. It won’t need to happen many times before they get the message.

bea2345's avatar

I would support the legalization of marijuana. Not because it is harmless, but because interdiction has manifestly failed. When smoking a weed is a rite of passage in nearly all societies, why bother?

The other drugs? I used to feel, let them have it, Legalization would enable quality control, for one: some of the chemicals used in processing cocaine, for example, are quite toxic. What changed my mind was the realization that too many people are taking aspirin for somebody else’s headache. Let the drug abusers clean up their act; and then we can go after the suppliers.

Wholesale decriminalization is simply not an option. What might work is an intensive campaign to sensitize people to the real dangers. Hepatitis from using unsterile needles; the interesting possibility of picking up something really nasty from a drug that came via somebody’s anus. I once saw a documentary about the progress of a cholera-infected patient. In twelve hours she went from a healthy, fit woman to something awful to watch: because of the drastic fluid loss. Her flesh actually shrank on her bones, her skin hung off her face: she looked old. When you see something like that, you have to take disease seriously. So I would propose a campaign that would stress, in unappetizing detail, what happens to substance abusers. I did not know, for example, that heroin is actually poisonous; users do not live long.

woodcutter's avatar

@bea2345 Yeah the hard stuff destroys everyone it touches. To legalize that stuff would be a big mistake. It’s not like people can realize the damage and just clean up their act. Not going to happen. Pot should be legalized and the penalty for the others made severe.
I know this will seem non PC for some but the border needs to impassable both directions. There are plenty of entry points to go between that are on the up and up. This cartel turf war is out of hand. It’s a matter of time before it’s right here and then maybe after enough people get killed something will be done. But why wait until something that outrageous happens? I have a good idea why nobody wants to touch this but after the big incident happens it will make enough who have the power, to use it without fear of the ACLU stepping in, or the Mexican president who seems to believe he has a say about how we do things here. It’s a damn shame a big disaster must happen before there is enough interest to do something.

cockswain's avatar

I think narcotics are definitely a different animal than pot and beer, but I don’t necessarily agree that they destroy everything they touch. I do agree they destroy a lot of people, but have no clue how many weekend partiers still function fine. Think of how much coke is used on Wall Street. By many measures, these guys still are considered successful.

Not that I just made a terrific point with that example, but what I’m saying is that people are going to use these drugs no matter what. They have for decades, and laws aren’t going to change that. I wonder if the laws and illegality are what add to the mystique. Possibly if you remove the mystique and legalize it, certain people won’t be quite as attracted to it. I would imagine that on the whole, we’d definitely have an increase in drug abuse and health related problems, but again, balancing that against the reduction in violent crime may be a net benefit to society.

I don’t think building a physical wall will solve the problem. Dealers will just find a way around it, and bribe the correct people to get through. Plus cost billions and billions more, that won’t actually solve the problem.

mattbrowne's avatar

The Mexican population has to solve this.

The only thing the American government could do is have doctors prescribe hard drugs for addicts, so they no longer have to buy them on the black market. This would shrink the market significantly.

woodcutter's avatar

Building a wall along the border would be cost prohibitive however If there were several stretches in strategic places to create choke points, the trespassers could be more easily managed. With all the technology at our disposal to detect where the people are with manpower there to interdict it could work. The important thing is the people guarding the area need to have some teeth. If we can get our people out of the wars they are in, I’m sure they would be tickled to be deployed right here in the border states. There is nothing wrong with having the military guarding us there. The cartels are powerful but I don’t think they can or would be willing to duke it out with the Marines.

bea2345's avatar

The gangs are targeting the U.S. is because that is where their market is. America will have to clean up its act and soon. There is a growing feeling in Latin America and the Caribbean that we are being saddled with the job of stopping the drug trade while U.S. attempts to discourage drug use are at best, feeble. One of these days somebody will decide that interdiction is too costly, and it will be best for all of us, I think, that that somebody should be the U.S.

Building a wall will, at best, be a temporary measure. And while the U.S. has military on its side, what do you think will be happening on the Mexican side? any good relations the U.S. has with Mexico will melt away like ice in a summer breeze. The only good long term solution is to stop the trade by making it meaningless. Awaaz.org has proposed removing Congolese coltan from the trade altogether as a means of stopping the civil war. It was tried with Sierra Leone diamonds, wasn’t it. Something of the kind could be attempted with hard drugs. I cannot believe that the idea cannot work.

cockswain's avatar

@bea2345 Thanks for your answer, I like it. Where do you live? It’s excellent to get the perspective of someone outside the US on this one.

I agree that the wall would be a temporary solution, and therefore an enormous waste of money. The US has spent billions and billions on the drug war for decades and made little difference. The people in the US want their recreational drugs, and that doesn’t look like it will change.

I don’t quite get what you mean when you say to make the trade meaningless. Do you mean legalize it? Also, I didn’t see a proposed solution for this problem on the website you linked. And I also don’t know what “coltan” is. Do you mind answering these questions?

bea2345's avatar

@cockswain – I am from Trinidad and Tobago. While we have problems with drug abuse, the informed opinion here is that we are a transshipment point between places like Colombia, Bolivia and Venezuela and the United States. It was always a problem but it is a good deal worse now.

As for making the trade meaningless: one way to start is to legalize marijuana. Why the hypocrisy? Once that is done, the wholesale export of the product will cease, if at the same time steps are taken to discourage mass production: can you imagine a company like Winston or Camel selling marijuana cigarettes? It boggles the imagination. Once it is made legal, the nexus will be broken between the ordinary Joe who smokes on weekends and the drug dealer, whose contacts are not people that you want to know.

I could not find the avaaz link, but if you look at this page, you will get some idea about what finances the war in the Congo. Coltan is a mineral, which, when processed, is a key component in electronic communications, particularly cellphones. Other countries, such as the U.S, and I believe, Canada and Australia, have it and it is fetching such high prices that there is a flourishing black market. Avaaz did have a campaign to make Congolese coltan illegal – the idea worked well with Sierra Leone diamonds – but I cannot find the link.

What we citizens must do and should do, is let our governments know that interdiction is not working. There has to be a solution to the violence and the crime, and an end to the suffering. Mexico is practically on the verge of a civil war and in the Caribbean Sea, piracy is an offshoot of the drug trade.

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