I thought we were taking down the drug lords

Mexico’s President Alters Tactics Against Drug Crimes

Mexico’s new attorney general says there are now 60 to 80 drug cartels operating in the country, a sharp rise from the 10 that existed when outgoing President Calderon took office in 2006. President Enrique Pena Nieto says he wants to go after crime associated with drug trafficking instead of taking down crime bosses.

You mean… we spent all that effort and all those lives taking down the cartels and now, instead of 10 of them, there are 60-80 of them? What a surprise!!!


We could have told people that would happen. In fact, we did, to anyone who would listen.

Of course, there are those who simply don’t want to listen because they don’t care — the drug war is their game regardless of the outcome.

But what bothers me is those who only seem to be able to think in simplistic terms of the evil drug lords as a finite closed group that can be dismantled, instead of understanding the dynamics of either fueling or starving an environment that recruits, develops, and encourages violent criminal activity.

(By the way, it isn’t just in the drug war that this basic fault predominates — it’s also the foundation for much of the war on terror.)

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55 Responses to I thought we were taking down the drug lords

  1. War Vet says:

    Of course we have more terrorist factions now, but then again, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that didn’t get some if not all of their money from drug sales (drugs sold by the state, the cell or an ally to the movement(s)). That’s why the Taliban wanted to prohibit less than 100% of the opium: to make sure they were the only dopers on the block; to make sure Massoud and others didn’t have any drug money of their own to fight the Taliban; to make sure that the War Lords didn’t have any drug money to influence the region and politics away from Taliban Control and agendas. The War on Terror can be won in a world where drugs were legalized. It destroys their ability to corrupt and fight and influence and harass the locals. It keeps us out of war zones by not having to stay and fight, which would make the locals happier since we have overstayed our welcome. Drug legalization would bring about hemp, which would make every nation facing terrorism and terrorist threats more stable by adding more jobs (like tens of thousands of jobs in Iraq, just from hemp). Then some poor terrorist will wake up and realize he’s all out of wires, cellphones, AK rounds, batteries for his camcorder and no more plastic explosives . . . no more detonators or det wire, no more sugar for his chai –he’s be broke and will have to go back to work fixing radiators because the Taliban or Al Qaeda etc cannot pay him money to fight and record attacks . . . his wife is complaining and he must quit jihad for it no longer pays. Or kind of like when there were more militant groups in Burma when heroin became very distributable during the Vietnam Years and after . . . or how Pol Pot could afford to pay so many to do his purging and murder –not that he was the drug dealer, but I’m sure he promised protection for a little something something . . . Of course that’s why we call Cambodia the Medellin on the Mekong.

  2. Duncan20903 says:


    Wow, after claiming that he had seen Justin Bieber smoking pot while driving a paparazzo attempting to shoot photos of Justin Bieber’s Ferrari was hit by another car and killed this evening — although Bieber was NOT behind the wheel of the Ferrari.


  3. primus says:

    He was pursuing a ‘big story’ because he thought he saw someone smoking pot? That’s a ‘big story’????? Tragic, really that such an innocuous thing should elicit such a strong reaction on the part of the media. Making mountains of molehills much? Anyway, Karma had the final say.

    • allan says:

      aye… that the Bieber, Miley Cyrus and/or any other young star/celeb smokes ganja just means they’re actually being more responsible than those that think drinking booze is fun.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      primus the “big story” was that Mr. Bieber was smoking pot while driving!!! So the photographer went and got himself killed in an automobile collision because he wanted to prove that driving stoned is dangerous. There was no mention of whether the photographer, the guy that killed him, the gawking bystanders or the police who investigated the collision were driving stoned. All we know for certain is that Mr. Bieber was nowhere in the general vicinity of that fatal collision.

      Nothing to see here, move along” — Officer Barbrady

  4. allan says:

    and re Pete’s post… gosh, how long have we been pointing out the balloon theory? Good golly, folks really do need to pay more attention.

  5. allan says:

    ooh… another thought, remember the commiserating about the actual dollar value of the cartels’ biz in the U.S.? Annual global trade in illicit drugs is estimated in the hundreds of billions of dollars… well, if the U.S. consumes the majority of the world’s illicit drugs, then the majority of the cartels’ drug income comes from us…

    That and Pete’ post just made me think of “the Trouble with Tribbles” – other than the cartels aren’t cute and fuzzy of course…

    • War Vet says:

      Bloomberg: Wachovia Bank is in violation of transacting $378 odd billion coming from Mexico from 2004-7 without the proper anti-laundering strictures.

      Does the U.S really consume most of the world’s drugs or do we just spend the most i.e. a gram of mostly pure coke is usually $25 in Mexico and cheaper south and usually just as cheep as it is in Mexico or cheaper in Africa because of the demand in Europe and coastal warehouses in Guinea-Bissau . . . while a gram of good coke costs $100 in America and easily $25 more in Europe (except Italy and Spain: cheaper). Heroin might cost more in the States, but it would be a lot cheaper in Russia and Iran and Egypt. Actually Iran has the most drug users per-capita. Does Europe or Asia consume the most and do they consume more than North America? How much more accurate is a census or pool of data coming from a nation like America compared to Uganda . . . everyplace you look: Africa is filled to the brim with nation’s known for it’s pot or hash : South Africa, Malawi, Morocco, Liberia now and most of Europe’s coke is first transported to Africa as well, so they’ve got as much coke as Mexico does. Maybe nations like Nigeria and South Africa that have more stability have as many drug users as America does –except their goods are cheaper to fit the finances of a 3rd or 2nd world consumer/addict.

  6. Servetus says:

    Time was when people could recite the names of the major drug lords, Escobar, Guzman, etc. Now, few can, as if no one cares. The story of the latest drug lord cornered in the tropics doesn’t rate reading past the big headline. And it’s because drug lords are more common than Starbucks (take that, Johnny P.).

    Pablo Escobar’s story morphed into a 63-episode TV soap opera running in Colombia, and online, profiling and theorizing about the facets of his shortened life. Escobar: The Boss of Evil, has 11-million viewers, and counting. Pablo’s destined to become Colombia’s own version of Jesse James, immortalized in the myth and influence he bequeathed to smuggling. Not so for prohibitionists. The only legacy prohibs can expect is to have their names engraved on a urinal stall.

    Drugs won’t be a problem if you don’t make them a problem. In this case, the problem lies elsewhere, the usual places being poverty, dislocation and ostracism. Under our current form of economics, capitalism thrives on poverty, dislocation and ostracism, and so they shall remain, until something breaks, along with illicit drugs.

  7. N.T. Greene says:

    Sounds like someone got a fat wad of cash from those crime lords. You see, carriers getting busted has, for a long time now, been an acceptable risk in that business. If anything, concentrating on the carriers is just going to cause the cartels to spread out and have even MORE ground troops. Now, I feel like we have been through this strategy before… only to have it ultimately result in failure — or a switch over to concentrating on busting “drug lords”.

    I guess the good news is that if people have no memory of history, you can just occasionally switch between one of two policies — both of which have similar results. People won’t even rise up and demand there be a totally new strategy… because many of them will think that the old strategy IS entirely new. I can hear it now. “Really, it’s genius, they’re just going to concentrate on busting the supply lines.”

    This would be great… if it hadn’t been tried very, very often before to little effect. My opinion? This is a game that people are always going to want to play unless — UNLESS — you completely change the rules on them. And I don’t mean making drugs super-duper illegal, I mean you have to find a way to corral this underground and force it into legitimacy somehow…

  8. claygooding says:

    Moving chairs around on the deck of the “Good Ship Lollipop”,protecting the children by insuring their continued exposure to as much drugs as possible and locking up users have been the only strategies they can come up with.

    If not for the economy Kerli and Sabet would have gotten investors to build the rehab centers needed to make the change from incarceration to treatment but now are verbally claiming to support treatment while still filling our prisons.

    None have worked but why let that deter them as long as we keep printing more money. It looks as though that may be the only way we will ever get the rules changed,,complete failure of the economy around the world would end the drug market,,so I guess they will claim even that as a win.

  9. claygooding says:

    PS:After the economic apocalypse,,nobody we know will grow more marijuana,shrooms,cocaine or poppies will they? At least the markets will all be local user based until the economy supports expanded trade ones.

  10. kaptinemo says:

    Same ol’, same ol’. The problem is that the people want an end to the stupidity…but the political leaders are, themselves, stupid. They just cannot conceive that the wind has shifted, the the river’s running another course, and the worm has finally turned.

    If I seem uncharitable, it’s simply because there is no other way to characterize this. The generational shift has occured; we are well past the tipping point. The evidence is everywhere, especially at the voting booth. The generation whose ‘dead hand’ held back reform is itself dying off, or becoming politically nullified by ill health, and can no longer be counted upon to maintain prohibition courtesy of voting for prohibition-supporting pols.

    Needless to say, the following generation for which so much ‘concern’ was displayed, and for whom a massive, generational brainwashing program was instituted, is now in the ascendancy. They have reached both social and political majority, and since the majority of them have had personal experience with the very ‘demon’ substances that scared the wee-wee out of their predecessors – and know that fear was unwarranted at best and irrational at worst – are reflecting that in what happened in Washington State and Colorado, soon to be followed by others States.

    If the political leaders cannot see this, if they cannot hear the rumblings, cannot smell the smoke of the old prohibition paradigm burning, and cannot feel its’ heat as it burns, its’ flames growing ever closer to their outdated support of prohibition, if they cannot realize that things really, truly have changed, then they genuinely lack the intelligence to be leaders on this or any subject, really. They have to go, the sooner the better.

    Next election cycle, it’s time to clean house.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      The thing that seems most amusing to me is watching the leftover prohibitionists left behind all confused and marginalized. Most don’t even realize that the earth has shifted under their feet and the double digit IQ crowd still regurgitates their hysterical rhetoric as if the prohibasites are in control.

    • Dante says:

      “Next election cycle, it’s time to clean house.”

      Yep. And don’t stop there – we should clean house with every election. Put those {insert insulting word} Congress-critters on the street.

      Sometimes, in my head I imagine that all the Federal drug warriors (and their groupies like Kevin) get simultaneously fired, and denied unemployment benefits or health care. They are stripped of all wealth and power, and cast out into the wilderness.

      I’ll admit that I smile when I think about it.

      • claygooding says:

        The need to “clean house” doesn’t stop at our congress and state legislatures but at every city,county and state level also,,until we start taking the prohibitionist out of the drug warriors support club,sheriffs,mayors and DA’s,,,and I am betting that many of these positions will begin to be challenged by qualified candidates that can see the writing on the wall.

    • Opiophiliac says:

      I don’t know, Kapt. I hear what you are saying about the generational shift in attitudes about prohibition. On the one hand younger folks do poll in greater favor of legalizing marijuana than older folks, but for heroin or cocaine the percentages are very low. Only 8% of Americans fovor legalizing heroin, while 55% favored legal weed. (Coke 9%, meth 7%, E 10% in case you were curious.) Furthermore the shift in attitudes about tobacco have generated a large prohibition movement, I was surprised to read a DPA poll that found 40-something percent in favor of making tobacco illegal. Be it guns, drugs, pornography, gambling or whatever Americans are in love with prohibitions. The nanny state is alive an well, I don’t see that necessarily changing anytime soon.

      What I do see happening is a generational shift in thinking about the “drug problem” from a warfare mentality to a public health problem. In this sense I certainly agree with your point about the old prohibition paradigm crumbling.

      • kaptinemo says:

        Op, Professor Whitebread essentially ‘prophesied’ exactly that, a tobacco prohibition, way back in 1995, in the very last part of his speech and for the same reasons you’ve related.

        I don’t like tobacco, but I am not so foolish as to want to try prohibiting it. Same for alcohol. This country has followed that Road to Hell Paved With Good Intentions for so long it’s gotten derpy from the heat. Not thinking straight. Not if it thinks it can prohibit tobacco. Masochism does seem a part of our national psyche in that regard, as we keep ‘burning our fingers on the stove’ with prohibitions, again as Whitebread presciently stated we would.

        As much as I would like instant repeal of every drug law on the books and open the frakkin’ jails and let the non-violent ‘offenders’ out (what did most of them offend, save some self-appointed moral’s proctor’s sensibilities?), we have to take some legislative Bangalore torpedoes like what happened in WA and CO to the rest of the cornerstone of drug prohibition, which are the cannabis laws.

        Knock that down, and there’s no need to feed the Beast steak anymore, fiscally; it’s back to the kibble of local budgetary control again, and sorry, we can’t afford your pointless eradication efforts anymore. Then the proscriptions against other substances will begin to crumble, as the savings from ending drug prohibition in total are used for the ever-growing number of emergencies we may be seeing shortly. As Hurricane Katrina proved, our infrastructure is dangerously fragile, has been for a long time, and it’s getting worse. It will some day be presented along the lines of “Billions for BS, or for bridges?” I doubt the ascending Reformist Generation will choose the former.

        • Opiophiliac says:

          Thanks for the link, it’s a good read. I certainly agree with Whitebread’s analysis of drug prohibition being all about ingroup/outgroup politics. MY drugs expend consciousness, encourage conviviality and creativity, promote social bonding, ect. YOUR drugs cause addiction, break down family, cause disease, ect. Or I can use drugs in a responsible manor, or refrain from using if offered, but those other, unenlightened people, cannot be expected to handle the responsibility.

  11. Duncan20903 says:

    For crying out loud, on which planet in what alternate universe do the prohibitionists live?
    Do alcohol and marijuana mix? Colorado is about to find out

    • Servetus says:

      I think of it as a time/mind warp. The prohibitionist mindset is warped around the 1950s, with some 1620s warpage added to give it that medieval look.

      • Duncan20903 says:


        My wife’s family actually produced the first baby of European ancestry in the State of Maryland in 1620. It was actually kind of disturbing to learn that factoid because until then I was able to claim that my family had nothing whatever to do with slavery because both of my parents’ ancestors didn’t arrive in the U.S. until the 1880s.

        • Servetus says:

          My ancestors stepped ashore in 1752 as indentured servants, which is how most people traveled to America in those times. They went on to fight the British in the Revolution. Terms of indentured servitude were four years, unlike today’s wage slaves who are required to serve anywhere from 15 to 30 years before pensioning out.

        • allan says:

          ah well, we’ll forgive you latecomers. Scandihoovians were here centuries before the European horde descended upon this turtle island. The whole repeating names thing bugs me tho’… like if Olaf Olafsson named his son Olaf, would he be Olaf Olaf Olafssonson? And if he had a son and named him Olaf… see what I mean?

        • claygooding says:

          It doesn’t matter when our ancestors got here or what they did or didn’t do other than we were born here, raised here and will be buried here(ezry excepted,,he is on an extended vacation in Mexico)

          I don’t know any of my couch buddies but I know every one of them has ancestors that didn’t respond ell to tyranny or threats without ever seeing any family trees.

          My last living uncle in NC researched back as far as he could get and we had an ancestor at Valley Forge,,another in the 1812 war and one that was a Colonel in the CSA,Army of Virginia,,perhaps that is why I keep having visions of a burning DEA warehouse and a crowded hilltop downwind.

        • War Vet says:

          Worked for and right next to old Washington himself (Christopher Gist -the man who saved the first U.S. Presidet’s life twice according to Wiki and the History Channel) . . . you know he just had to know a little about hemp and why the differences between male and female was important or the distancing of plants were important etc. That’s something Washington would have taught him. He was Sequoyah’s grandfather; he would have understood hemp paper.

        • Duncan20903 says:

          Oh OK, I’ll amend. My wife’s family actually produced the first baby of Europeans (that kept written records) ancestry in the State of Maryland in 1620. 😉

    • primus says:

      On first reading, that article appears about as balanced as any I have seen. The ‘experts’ are staking out territory so they can in the future claim foreknowledge with reservations. They will claim that they could not have foreseen all the outcomes but were thinking of these possibilities ahead of time, and now time has proven them. What is refreshing is to see a rational discussion of the various potentials without all the hype.

  12. Servetus says:

    Drug law reformers are neglecting to feel joyous this season that prohib extremist Dan Burton (R-IN) has finally been booted out of Congress.

    Who can forget Dan?

    Dan Burton thinks the White House bugs his phone. Dan Burton is so convinced Vince Foster was murdered that he brought a pistol into the backyard of his Indiana home and reenacted the crime — reportedly with a pumpkin standing in for Foster’s head. Dan Burton is so afraid of catching AIDS that he brings his own scissors to the House barbershop and refuses to eat soup at public restaurants….— Time Magazine, May 1998

  13. kaptinemo says:

    On another forum long ago I positied that there was another, even more sinister reason behind drug prohibition than the money and political power it provides: population reduction and control in Developing Nations.

    At the end of WW2, senior diplomat George Kennan penned a policy paper (the relevant portion found here) that stated in very bald-faced terms that the US had become top dog in a world in which it was surrounded, Custer-style, by a growing planetary population that would come to resent America being only 6% of the world’s population (ca. 1948) but possessing 50% of the planet’s wealth.

    Kennan said in essence that the future foreign policy of the US had to be as unsentimental as possible WRT to such issues as human rights, because so long as world population increased, especially in the major Developing Nations such as China and India (and elsewhere), the US faced the rise of real rivals for that dominant position.

    This was again re-iterated by Henry Kissinger in his 1974 National Security Study Memorandum 200

    Obviously, the old way of doing things – exemplified in the infamous Lloyd George quote on the British Empire reserving to itself the right to ‘bomb (plural of n-word)’ could no longer be done, as the intended targets were starting to acquire the means of fighting back. Another means had to be found, and one in which ‘plausible deniability’ could be maintained while busily engaged in destabilitizing a country and softening it up for later commercial exploitation.

    So long as someone was sitting on top of resources that corporations wanted, that exploitation could not take place. That native ‘someone’ had to be ‘removed’. And direct action abroad could prompt dissent at home. ‘Clean hands’ were needed to execute bloody horrors. And so, local proxies were required. But even the proxies had to have acceptable-sounding cover, or the game becomes obvious. So the question boils down to: What’s a good way to engage in population control of Developing Nations? Answer: Get the indigs to kill each other.

    Ideology used to be the excuse. But with the passing of the Cold War, it’s gotten down to the brass tacks of economics, as was the contention of those post-WW2 planners. Some other means had to be developed, and some other propaganda mask to ‘justify’ it, had to be substituted, and ‘terrorism’ just isn’t that ‘sexy’.

    Cue the ramping up of the War on Drugs. Which, as usual, creates more harms than benefits. Unless you count that population reduction via drug-prohibition-sired violence is a ‘benefit’.

    • claygooding says:

      When you add the fact that every war we have been in since WWII has been to benefit corporations and had nothing to do with any people’s freedom,,it makes me hope for the economical upheaval sufficient to reduce us back to the 1800’s for a few years,,,just so we can try to get it right the next time.

    • ned morlef says:

      Amerika is building it’s police state one dog,one man,one house at a time. Then it doesn’t look like the land grab that it is.

    • War Vet says:

      It’s very possible and probable given place, culture and current world/region settings etc that major genocides happening in Cambodia or Rwanda would have at least had 8% of it’s funding from drug money . . . even more of a percent in Darfur and Yugoslavia . . . more so in Central America –especially after Iran-Contra. Would it be wise to say that the War on Drugs has had more impact on Latin America than the Monroe Doctrine, Teddy Corollary and Panama Canal combined

  14. Deep Dish says:

    In Colorado,

    During last year’s holiday season, there were more than 1,200 DUI arrests with 376 of those occurring during the New Year’s Eve enforcement period.


    This year,

    Eighty-one people in Colorado started the new year with an arrest for driving under the influence, according to the state patrol.


    Wowzers! That’s a 78% reduction. Preliminary, of course.

  15. Pingback: Do alcohol and cannabis mix? Colorado is about to find out - Grasscity.com Forums

  16. Opiophiliac says:

    President Enrique Pena Nieto says he wants to go after crime associated with drug trafficking instead of taking down crime bosses… He prefers going after the extortionists, kidnappers and street criminals that he says terrorize innocent Mexicans.

    So how evactly is that going to work? Are they just going to ignore the drug traffic, allowing the funding from drug sales to continue to supply the cartels, money which is then used to “terrorize innocent Mexicans.” Basically he is saying drugs won the drug war (great Onion article btw) and now we are just going to try to clean up the mess caused by prohibition.

  17. darkcycle says:

    Well, here’s something that I have said in the past and been criticized for claiming: The large grows on Federal land are NOT likely cartel grows. And more…the drug czar’s office made that claim largely to secure more funding. Read it here (sorry, Allan….)

    • allan says:

      dang it darkcycle, you know I love my repeating themes…

      But this is an easy fix. The theme is just changing to jobs… and while these groups may not be cartels, they are clandestine foreign nationals (“independent groups of Mexican nationals”) taking in billions of dollars tax-free that should be going to US workers and being spent in US communities.

      But thanks (and not for popping another balloon!), I like being trendy. Now I’ll be looking for more on this… informational shift

      • War Vet says:

        Because the CSA directly creates such jobs and has been known to do so (intent), this means that congress is kind of technically hiring illegal immigrants with both the Law and hiring citizens with the law as well . . . if one gets caught or not after a grow op is found -the system gets paid and it provides reasons for patrolling lands, which further pays the system –which increases jobs as well. The only reason why hundreds of jobs do get filled or even exist is because of the illegal immigrant doing more than what ICE or the IRS would nab him for . . . the CSA is like one hand clapping the other at an applause and very circular in it’s creating problems which creates jobs which creates problems which creates jobs etc.

    • allan says:

      here’s the LA Times’ story (the source for the SFGate article darkcycle linked to) on that:

      Roots of pot cultivation in national forests are hard to trace

      • allan says:

        it’s also a great example of government making things up in the drug war (or colloquially, talking out their ass)

        • darkcycle says:

          That’s the significant part in my book, being exposed for lying (again) to the public and Congress to secure funding. I never bought the line that these were “cartel grows”. Really, I still believe it’s to avoid forfeiture statutes, as well as opportunist guerrilla’s who plant outdoors as a matter of course. Why would you plant on your own land (and risk losing it) when you have a handy park with lots of secluded spots right nearby?
          But the acknowledged lies to the public and Congress? That’s significant in this current atmosphere. We need to hammer this one everywhere, so that when they go to budget process like beggars, they will be slapped hard for their temerity.

        • allan says:

          just as I threw the cartel grow-op meme back at them… I will throw this back at them. And this is a bit juicier. This lie is now public and bald-faced.

  18. Francis says:

    The fact that the WoD has given us both “drug lords” and “drug czars” seems appropriate — antiquated titles for an antiquated mentality.

  19. Deep Dish says:

    Yeah, it’s not like we have an Iron Curtain or anything… oh wait.

  20. Jose79845 says:

    We just re-elected the biggest drug lord in history. Obama is not withdrawing from Afghanistan, he is in fact putting in place the world’s largest marijuana and heroin exporting business ever.

  21. primus says:

    When cannabis is legalized, the production will move to wherever in the world the costs are lowest and the climate is conducive. All will be grown outdoors, and the importers will be paying about what the cartels are now, $50/lb. or $3/oz. or about 10 cents a gram. Add taxes, shipping, overhead etc. and sell it at $5/gm. and still make it impossible for domestic growers to compete. Once they are all driven out, keep on paying the Afghans or whoever $50 per pound, but add even more ‘sin’ taxes and the price will quickly rise to $10 per gram again, like today. The market has already proven it is prepared to pay this price, now they just undercut for a while until they have the entire market controlled, then jack the prices. Even $15/g could be in the cards, ‘to discourage use’.

    • darkcycle says:

      Primus, when the jack the taxes back up, guess what happens? Seeds go into the dirt when it’s that expensive. That’s what. Black/grey market makes it’ comeback and the illicit growers are back in business. The laws of economics will settle that.

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