Drug Cartels Are No Longer Just About Drugs

Foreign Policy has an article pointing out that the Mexican drug cartels have grown very large and powerful (as evidenced by the brazen standoffs with the government in recent years) and as a result, they are now less like drug cartels and more like mafia groups. Mostly starting with efforts to launder money and continuing as a means to reap increasing profits with the increased power they command, the cartels have expanded into all kinds of money-making schemes, including: protection rackets, kidnapping, theft and corruption. The cartel members are now almost at half a million members, which is more than the Mexican state oil company of 360,000 and even more than the police force of 400,000.

Colombian police posing with Pablo Escobar's dead body

 

The article tries to make a misguided point by saying that despite the failure of the war on drugs, legalizing them won’t affect the cartels too much since they have diversified their sources of revenue; what it fails to mention is that the cartels may not even be around if they hadn’t gotten started selling illegal drugs. Not to mention that it’s a logical fallacy to begin with: assuming the drug cartels are here to stay with or without the end of drug prohibition, then legalization is irrelevant when talking about the cartels. If the devil exists with or without charitable donations, then charity is irrelevant when talking about killing the devil. However, charity is good for a whole host of other reasons. In the same way, there are a lot of reasons to end prohibition (e.g., to stop wasting taxpayer money on the drug war, to restore personal freedom, to treat addiction as a healthcare issue instead of a criminal one) and only one of those is to reduce illegal trafficking and the associated violence.

From Foreign Policy, via NPR

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