Wednesday, June 11, 2008

U.S. - Mexico Anti-Drug Blah Blah

Monday, U.S. and Mexican customs officials "unveiled a cooperative effort," to fight the "escalating levels of violence that have turned parts of Mexico into war zones and spread as far as North Texas," reports the Dallas Morning News. The headline: "U.S., Mexico launch unprecedented effort to disrupt cross-border weapons smuggling." (emphasis added).

Will Customs' (ICE) efforts to stop the flow of guns from the U.S. to Mexico be any more successful than the interdiction of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine from Mexico to the U.S.?

I have no confidence it will. What continues to strike me how the news media and Members of Congress remain blind to the incompetent and half-hearted nature of America's anti-drug effort. It is as though if they looked at how the money is being wasted by ICE, the DEA and the Justice Department by not doing what they are supposed to be doing, they might have to think about the logic of the effort, too.

Texas has four Federal judicial districts. Close to the border, we should expect that the federal drug investigators and prosecutors would be focused on the high-level trafficking organizations that operate along the Rio Grande.

Because of the racial disparity in the Federal government's cocaine prosecutions and the fact that so many of the crack defendants are minor participants in penny ante drug organizations, my July 2006 White Paper was successful in calling upon the Sentencing Commission to look at degree to which small scale cases dominate the federal investigations.

Thus there is interesting data that reveals the small quantities involved in Federal cocaine cases nationwide, compiled by the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The average weight of crack involved in a federal crack case (examining all of the 4,262 federal crack cases brought in FY 2006) was 51 grams. This is just one gram more than the 50 grams that trigger a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. How little is 51 grams? It is the weight of a common candy bar, nothing that a major dealer would waste their time with. It is too tiny an amount to make into a Federal case when cocaine is smuggled into the country by the metric ton (1,000,000 grams), that is, too tiny an amount if your head is screwed on right!

Shockingly, nationwide, 35.1 percent of all crack cases involve less than 25 grams.

In FY 2006, the federal prosecutors in Texas were largely wasting their time (and our money):
In Western Texas, there were 127 crack cases, 61 less than 25 grams -- 48.0 percent.
In Eastern Texas, there were 94 crack cases, 44 less than 25 grams -- 46.8 percent.
In Southern Texas, there were 70 crack cases, 31 less than 25 grams -- 44.3 percent.
In Northern Texas, there were 67 crack cases, 21, less than 25 grams -- 31.1 percent.

Remember, the State of Texas knows how to investigate, prosecute and punish drug dealers. They certainly can investigate and prosecute neighborhood crack dealers. And Texas has one of the largest prison systems in the United States, indeed one of the largest prison systems in the world.

Yet in FY 2006, federal prosecutors in Northern and Eastern Texas actually brought more crack cases than powder cocaine cases. They spent more time in federal court with candy bar crack cases than with Mexican cartel leaders. And that means that more minor players fill federal prison cells than cartel leaders. What a waste of the federal effort!

Unfortunately there is no comparable data for marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine. We are unable to see whether ICE, the DEA and Justice Department are especially incompetent and wasteful fighting cocaine by focusing on local crack cases, or if this misfocus is the case with other major drugs of abuse.

Is it any wonder the violent Mexican cartels feel they can operate with impunity in Mexico, and the United States?

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Anonymous said...

PROHIBITION never works it just CAUSES CRIME & VIOLENCE. Illegal drugs are way easier for kids to get than legal ones. The USA spends $69 billion a year on the drug war, builds 900 new prison beds and hires 150 more correction officers every two weeks, arrests someone on a drug charge every 17 seconds, jails more people than any nation and has killed over 100,000 citizens because of the drug war. In 1914 when ALL DRUGS WERE LEGAL 1.3% of our population was addicted to drugs, today 1.3% of our population is STILL ADDICTED TO DRUGS. The only way to control drugs is to REGULATE THEM AND END THE PROFITS AVAILABLE TO CRIMINALS just like ending alcohol prohibition did. There’s only been one drug success story in history, tobacco, THE MOST DEADLY and one of the MOST ADDICTIVE drugs. Almost half the users quit because of REGULATION, ACCURATE INFORMATION AND MEDICAL TREATMENT. No one went to jail and no one got killed. JOIN EMAIL LIST, WATCH VIDEOS:
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Jason Vorva said...

One of the problems is that incarceration has become an industry unto itself. The proof is that when new prisons are proposed, the backers justify it using 'economic benefit' to the community.

Users need rehab, small pushers put on house arrest and put into work crews and fined big time, not put in cells. Go after the cartels, and treat our demand problem!! We have to fix our prison system.