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The never-ending supply

Mexican drug cartel leaders know the realities of the drug war, and apparently, compared to their government counterparts, they are willing to state the obvious.
Mexican cartels cannot be defeated, drug lord says

Mexico’s war on the drug trade is futile even if cartel bosses are caught or killed as millions of people are involved in the illicit business, a senior drug chief said in an interview published on Sunday.

Ismael “el Mayo” Zambada, the right hand man of Mexico’s most notorious drug lord, Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman, blamed the government for surging drug violence and said President Felipe Calderon was being duped by his advisors into thinking he was making progress.

“One day I will decide to turn myself in to the government so they can shoot me. … They will shoot me and euphoria will break out. But at the end of days we’ll all know that nothing changed,” Zambada told the investigative newsmagazine Proceso.

“Millions of people are wrapped up in the narco problem. How can they be overcome? For all the bosses jailed, dead or extradited their replacements are already there.”

Simple point of fact. It doesn’t even matter if the cartels actually have that many people on tap at any one time β€” the supply of people to replace those killed or arrested is virtually infinite.

This is the obvious part of the drug war that prohibitionists hate to face. At great cost and great violence, you succeed (if things go well) in accomplishing… nothing. And those that are able to grasp this simple concept have nothing left than the self-delusion that legalization would somehow cause an increase in drug abuse so great that it would add up to more than all the violence, cost, and corruption of the drug war (despite all evidence to the contrary).

Today, the Buffalo News asks the question in the first part of a two-part series: Aren’t the drug kingpins replaced?

The same scenario plays out in many other Buffalo neighborhoods where small armies of cops move in for a day, arresting drug dealers by the dozens, only to have them replaced by new drug dealers.

The continued demand for drugs and the willingness of a fresh crop of dealers eager to replace those who have gone off to prison raise some serious questions:

  • How much do major drug investigations cost taxpayers? In an age of dwindling funds, is the investment worth it?
  • If such investments are not cost-effective, what would be the cost to society of allowing drug dealers to run rampant?
  • Would better drug-treatment programs dry up the demand for pushers such as Battaglia?
  • Is the drug war β€” which costs $15.5 billion for the federal government alone β€” a nationwide exercise in futility?

And the story goes on to point out some of these costs:

While declining to give specifics, law enforcers estimated that a long-term drug investigation lasting six months or more can easily cost up to $100,000 for personnel alone. The Battaglia case was smaller than many, lasting about three months.

A team of investigators may work on a case for months, with some conducting surveillance and interviews on the streets, while others spend endless hours listening to wiretapped conversations among the targets. Thousands of dollars more are often spent to pay informants and to make undercover drug buys.

On the day of the arrests, it is not unusual for more than 100 police officers and federal agents to take part in the raids. Some officers receive overtime for their participation.

After that comes a wave of court costs. Officers, prosecutors, judges and other court personnel all must be paid for the hundreds of hours they spend in court.

In drug busts where 20 to 30 people are arrested, it is not unusual for more than half the defendants to receive court-appointed attorneys at taxpayer expense. In federal court, the court-appointed attorneys now receive $125 an hour.

After that comes perhaps the most expensive part of all β€” the cost of imprisonment. In New York alone, more than 9,700 people are serving prison time for drug felonies. The state estimates the cost of housing a prisoner at $44,567 a year.

Of course, the opinion of those interviewed in law enforcement in this article is generally, “what choice do you have?” Well, there is a choice. The article appears to be setting up part two: “Debate over legalizing drugs” in tomorrow’s paper.

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19 comments to The never-ending supply

  • kaptinemo

    The money, the money, The MONEY.

    The money, the money, The MONEY.

    The money, the money, The MONEY.

    Again and again and again. An incessant drumbeat. A bug in the ear that won’t fly away. A drone on the Tube.

    Don’t bother talking about lost rights, trashed civil liberties, roughed-up pensioners, slaughtered kids and pets, etc. The sheep just yawn. But talk MONEY and watch the eyes light up and the mental gears turn.

    That’s what it will take. Sad, very very sad but true.

  • Buc

    From the article: “It’s one thing to bust the dealers,” said Common Council Member Richard A. Fontana of the Lovejoy District, who is thankful that the cops took down Battaglia. “But if you’re not providing enough help to the drug users, they’ll find someone else to buy from.”

    Right.

    As if the drug users all have no choice in the matter after they try the drug one time and are no longer capable of rational decision making.

  • Daniel Cardenas

    @kaptinemo – I hear you and feel you. But as annoying as that buzzing fly may be – I say, whatever it takes. To each his/her own – I dare say most in the US are concerned first and foremost with their bank account balance – consideration of right/wrong just can’t compete with the demands of paying one’s rent.

  • kaptinemo

    OT: Why the DrugWar must end.

    Terrifying Video: “I Don’t Need a Warrant, Ma’am, Under Federal Law”

    Fascism in operation. Your tax dollars at work. The woman is lucky to be alive, and I would posit the only reason she is was because she had a video camera.

  • permanentilt

    absurdity of the day:

    One retired narcotics detective said that it would be wrong to stop arresting drug dealers just because other dealers will replace them.
    “You can’t stop arresting child molesters,” he said, “just because you know other child molesters will take their place.”

    Yes, because we all understand how closely people’s demand for drugs parallels children’s demand for being molested? wtf?

  • kaptinemo

    Permanentilt, the problem has been that emotion has been skillfully used by the prohibs literally for generations to inculcate that kind of syllogistic ‘reasoning’ in order to achieve what they want…and when anyone tries to point that out, they, in turn, are targeted.

    All thoroughly predictable:

    from Themes in Chemical Prohibition:

    A review of chemical prohibitionist literature reveals eight themes which appear to emerge from the tactics of most such movements. The tactics utilized to produce these themes are as follows:

    1. The drug is associated with a hated subgroup of the society or a foreign enemy.

    2. The drug is identified as solely responsible for many problems in the culture, i.e., crime, violence, and insanity.

    3. The survival of the culture is pictured as being dependent on the prohibition of the drug.

    4. The concept of “controlled” usage is destroyed and replaced by a “domino theory” of chemical progression.

    5. The drug is associated with the corruption of young children, particularly their sexual corruption.

    6. Both the user and supplier of the drug are defined as fiends, always in search of new victims; usage of the drug is considered “contagious.”

    7. Policy options are presented as total prohibition or total access.

    8. Anyone questioning any of the above assumptions is bitterly attacked and characterized as part of the problem that needs to be eliminated. (Emphasis mine -k.)

    So…it becomes evident that so long as the prohibs can stay in their bubbles and not engage reformers logically rather than emotionally, they get to continue spouting their nonsense. They need to be dragged out of their bubbles and thei ivory towers and made to publicly debate us, which would result in all their fallacies exposed for what they are: manipulative propaganda. And nobody likes to be ‘had’, as in ‘suckered’; revealing how the public has been ‘took’ all these years isn’t conducive to further funding of the prohib agenda. A fact which they are well aware – and terrified – of.

  • Just me

    You got it KAPT ! Money money Money! When tax payers realize taxes = thier life(in time spent working and wasting thier life working) Then they realize thier life(In taxes) is being wasted on a unwinnable drug war. Then throw in the fact they only have so much time in thier life to be wasted…boom! It hits them right where this soul sits.

    I always then ask, what would you want YOUR TIME spent on? Taxation, regulation, education , treatment? Or running in circles chasing and endless supply of drug dealers and comsumes that will continue to eat your taxes(time) at a faster and faster rate?

    TAXES TAXES TAXES! TIME TIME TIME ! TIC TOC TIC TOC TIC TOC!

  • Just me

    Opps!

    …endless supply of drug dealers and *comsumers* that…

  • Just me

    I had a thought occur. Even if cannabis is legalized or prohibition ended. It wont save money….nope! Our government is just like a teenager….”OH! Got extra money! Let buy some trickass rims!” Time to put that teenager on lock down. We cant let them sqander and money saved that will come from cannabis legaization or the end of drug prohibition. Hell you know them dumasses will take out a loan on top of the rims for a new motor too. Mean while were all broke and starving.

  • Daniel Cardenas

    yeah but we got a bad ass ride… πŸ™‚

  • Daniel Cardenas

    with spinners! woot!

  • permanentilt

    Totally Kap, that list isn’t limited to marijuana either, it is staunchly adhered to in demonizing just about any positive social movement, worker’s movement, civil rights, liberalism, socialism, healthcare reform, anti-corporatism, non-christian religion, or defending a pointless war like Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq.

    I guess when a method has been tired and true for hundreds (thousands?) of years, why change it?

    The line I quoted is just so funny though, because there is absolutely nothing about child molesting in which “other child molesters will take their place”. Like there is a potential child molester out there thinking “I wish he would get busted so I can take a crack at those kids HE’S raping.”

    Even if he thought real hard about it, the cop probably would see nothing wrong with his statement. I mean we can point it out and say “It’s a tactic” but the cop probably thinks he is actually being logical.

  • kaptinemo

    JustMe, even that DrugWarrior ‘kid’ will understand when he tries to wheedle it out of Big Daddy (a.k.a The Gub’mint) and Big Daddy points to what’s left in the wallet and says “No more! The rest is for food and rent!”

    Which is what’s going to have to happen, and soon, as we’re almost as the hole-in-the-pocket stage of national finance in this country. The big banks should have been left to wither on the vine they poisoned, and the literally tons of money thrown in their pockets should have stayed in ours, but that too will become self-evident.

    The party’s over, but like people who are still drunk, the DrugWarriors still think they can ‘burn the candle at both ends’, and will keep trying until they get the fiscal door slammed in their faces. And that can’t happen soon enough…

  • Just me

    Ya your right Kapt , it cant happen soon enough. I think when that door slams shut , America may find its self waking from this stooper….not just the worriers…but everyone who think they can just go on swiping that credit card. The recent economic failure hasnt been big enough of a slap to wake everyone up. The wave that rebounded from that shore is coming back…maybe tsunami wave sized.

  • claygooding

    The depression is just now starting,and it will be here very soon. When the unemployment funds run out,the shit will hit the fan. I know many people that are paying their bills and feeding their families on unemployment and when it ends,there are still no jobs available for them to make a living at. Living in the middle of a large city will become a real challenge.
    There will be soup lines and many people homeless. Our government will have to decide if they are going to continue programs that are holes to throw money in or extend the unemployment benefits,and that will be real soon.
    Our legislators and bureaucratic agencies are going to be fighting for every tax dollar.

  • kaptinemo

    Clay and friends, if they don’t re-allocate the spending (particularly military spending) and throttle back the printing of fiat currency, that ‘door’ will not only slam shut, but the force of it will bring the house down.

    Which is why you see government making moves like re-positioning Army brigades in Iraq trained in ‘civil unrest’ (I thought that was the National Guard’s job?) and deploying microwave and sound cannon weapons to the US…to be used on US citizens.

    Makes you wonder why the people who really run things in this country are so nervous as to do that. And it behooves the rest of us to plan accordingly.

  • Scott

    To somewhat play devil’s advocate:

    Americans do not care about the money spent on drug prohibition, considering this expensive policy has existed for decades.

    Who really believes that drug prohibition is working? I have met no citizen who does.

    Americans have been trained for decades by people abusing their credibility as law enforcement officials (and other community leaders) that illicit drugs are evil (proving that by showing examples of extreme drug abuse).

    The problem with our drug law reform movement is that we still lack credibility in the eyes of too many people (though a positive shift is thankfully occurring).

    There is literally not one sustainable point for sustaining drug prohibition. Not one! There is no good reason why this fact should not constantly resonate during our communications with the public.

    Connecting drug prohibition to our Constitution is truly laughable by anyone who takes the time to scrutinize it (i.e. obvious judicial activism at the highest level of the judicial branch revealed by simply comparing the original Commerce Clause to a ban on the free growth, distribution, and possession of certain drugs, all within a single state).

    It is worthy to note that the liberals/progressives (who apparently still dominate our movement) at least generally ignore the above argument, perhaps because abusing the Commerce Clause is their (perhaps sole) method for government invasion into the private sector (e.g. New Deal and ObamaCare). In other words, do not expect the likes of George Soros to fund that critical argument.

    While the public does not apparently care about marijuana, they apparently care about being protected by our Constitution from government oppression (e.g. the real “Tea Party” movement). The constitutional argument is a great way to drive conservatives to our cause (embarrassing them with “New Deal talk” if they refuse), an alliance needed for our success.

    There is no good reason to continue to essentially avoid publicly wielding our “supreme law of the land” against the law enforcement prohibitionists who have taken an oath to uphold it.

    There is no cost/benefit analysis showing that drug prohibition is effective (I’m sure that you all know the details here).

    Drug prohibition is destructive (I’m sure that you all know the details here too).

    Drug prohibition is unwarranted, at least in the case of marijuana where there is no ‘conclusive’ evidence (e.g. studies strictly conforming to the scientific method) proving that moderate marijuana use causes any harm at all. Such degree of evidence should be a prerequisite when opposing liberty as an unalienable right.

    Drug prohibition will end when the “credibility scale” finally tips to our favor from the perspective of the public majority.

    Our movement should be doing whatever it can to debate prohibitionists on their turf, continuously chiseling away at their credibility by simple means of politely sharing the whole truth and nothing but the whole truth in front of the public.

    My favorite truth is exposing the fact that prohibitionists have been proclaiming disaster prior to every penalty reduction associated with illicit drugs, and though it is to their benefit to prove such disasters occurred (e.g. after Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2001, 14 states legalized medical marijuana, etc.), they cannot. That is a major blow to their credibility, and I have not seen anyone else in our movement mention it once (please correct me, if I’m wrong)!

    Our movement should also be allocating resources spent pointlessly lobbying the government (who clearly does not care about our cause) on directly engaging the public majority, embracing the mainstream in a way that they can comfortably handle (the Internet and mainstream public events are great vehicles for this).

    Our movement right now should be a public relations campaign to gain proper public support, ‘then’ lobby the government backed by that undeniable support.

    We need sufficiently-passionate public majority support to win. That has not been (and cannot rationally be) achieved by lobbying the government without that support, nor can it be achieved by avoiding the arguments that will persuade conservatives, even though such arguments can also be wielded heavily against the liberal/progressive agenda.

  • nice one scott — right on target!

  • kaptinemo

    “Our movement should be doing whatever it can to debate prohibitionists on their turf, continuously chiseling away at their credibility by simple means of politely sharing the whole truth and nothing but the whole truth in front of the public.”

    Or stand an empty chair on the podium and put a sign in it that says ‘drug prohibitionist’ on it, and hold press conferences to lay out our position and point out that every time we extend an invitation to the prohibs, they weasel out. Enough of that, and a prohib will be sent as a sacrifice.

    Because that’s exactly what would happen, for we’d rhetorically gut them right there on that podium. Of course, they’d probably send a bottom-feeder like Linda Taylor in their stead, to minimize the loss of face they’d experience. But no matter. The damage done to the prohib cause would be immeasurable.