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 â€” 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 â€” which costs $15.5 billion for the federal government alone â€” 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 â€” 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.