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Thursday, July 22, 2010

The New Prohibition and Mexico's Drug Violence

  Violence in Mexico related to the trafficking in illicit drugs continues to spread and become ever-more ubiquitous. On July 21, 2010, it took a new form: a remote-controlled car bomb with a human decoy designed to attract police and first-responders. (see this Washington Post report). The 'war on drugs' continues to carry a heavy toll, mostly on Mexicans but also on migrants, families, police and the army, and on American society and the U.S. taxpayer.
  Mexico is not alone, of course. The illicit drug mafias are active from the Arctic to Argentina, throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. But this is very close to home, and Americans ought to be more concerned.  The violence and related arms trafficking are directly caused by the post-World War II mania regarding drug use and the increasingly strict criminal penalties for drug offenses. 
  In a decade or two we will look back on this failed "New Prohibition" as the disastrous social policy that it is.  Those benefiting from the 'war on drugs' include the drug traffickers and the police and other government agencies on both sides of the border that have an interest in maintaining it in place. Huge and uncontrollable, poorly audited budgets, forfeiture assets and a built-in constituency in the policing and prison and related industries all comprise a system made up of interconnected multi-billion dollar businesses that have a strong stake in maintaining this New Prohibition. When will we come to our senses?
  (For a comprehensive look at the drug industry worldwide, see this recent U.N. report).
  (And for an interesting examination of how the drug traffic is impacting Brazil and its neighbors, see this story in World Politics Review).

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