Monday, December 04, 2006

Unintended consequences of drug prohibition

Our southern border used to be a pretty friendly place. You hear about the big cities but there were numerous points where small towns straddling the border were casually accessed and family businesses thrived doing small trade in sundries and services between the two countries. Now, between drugs and illegal immigration the Border Patrol has hefted up its enforcement along that imaginary line between the US and Mexico and shut down all those low traffic access points.

The idea was to increase security but it had the opposite effect. The little mom and pop operations went out of business without the cross border trade and the families moved out of those little towns and the drug dealers and other criminals moved in. What do they care if the border is open or shut? They sneak in anyway and what perfect cover for digging tunnels. So today, the border is much more dangerous place.

Take Laredo for instance. People used to cross over the bridge for lunch and shopping. They don't do that anymore since 60 U.S. citizens have been kidnapped in the area in the last two years, and 21 of those cases are still open. Just this week 30 or so armed bandits stormed a ranch and kidnapped 6 people.

[An FBI spokesman] said "the abductions are the result of increasing lawlessness as two major drug cartels - the Gulf cartel and the Sinaloa cartel - fight for control of the cocaine and marijuana trafficking routes into the United States." One might also note that the violence has increased dramatically since the feds started their crackdown on meth and drove the trade straight into the Mexicans hands.

Cause and effect folks. Demand will always find a supplier and prohibition creates crime, it doesn't solve it. Drug prohition is like that whack a mole game. You knock it down in one place and it pops up in another.


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