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Battle against drugs needs to focus south of the border

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By Thomas Rousseau

staff writer


With the war on drugs having been an almost constant affair since the 1970s under President Nixon, all the focus is on the effects it has within our own borders. However, we often forget what changes might happen abroad.

With the Mexican drug cartels flourishing on their ill gotten gains, they are able to provide more to their recruits than the government is able to afford to spend on their police officers. The cartels have even made specific campaigns to discourage people from joining law enforcement financially. It might not be that we are losing the drug war, but we are merely fighting on the wrong turf.

Instead of SWAT teams targeting your grandmother’s house, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) should focus their gaze abroad to the known violent threats residing in Central and parts of South America.

Almost half of the world’s cocaine comes from a relatively small and underdeveloped region of South America. All but an extremely minimal amount of it comes from the Mexican border. As of now, the drug war is not being perpetuated entirely by America’s criminals; rather the heart of it all is in Central America and then it feeds into our country from the south.image

Violence from drug trafficking has been responsible for the deaths of dozens of journalists, who report on the movement of the cartel drug traffickers, along with the countless crimes committed.

With the current usage of known dangerous drugs such as cocaine and heroin at a relative low, we often forget why the usage of these narcotics has shrunk so much since its all time high in the late 1980s. Without the heavy enforcement of these laws, it is almost assured that these numbers will rise, contributing further to drug abuse related deaths.

In 2009, there were around 4.6 million people admitted into various ERs nationwide because of drugs or drug related crimes. Less drug use would contribute to less visits to hospitals and allow more space and time to treat law abiding citizens. Assume a portion of the 4.6 million does not have insurance; more money could be saved from taxpayer funds if crime was reduced.

Many towns and cities a mere miles away from the Texas border have been completely overrun by the violence caused by roving drug traffickers. With border patrols already facing heavy political resistance when it comes to strengthening their officers, these lesser known situations could easily spill over onto U.S. soil.

Without the combating of the cartels, this will only happen faster. Phoenix has already experienced a handful of conflict as it is the kidnapping capital of America with 668 kidnappings in 2008; this is due to the violence caused by drug gangs and their rivalries.

When border reform comes into question, people’s minds go to stopping the potentially innocent immigrants, rather than the very dangerous drug cartel members. The American people need to learn to distinguish the two different issues so that they can properly alleviate the situation.

Legalizing dangerous narcotics such as cocaine will only add to the headache. If they are made legal, they will still remain expensive and addictive. People that cannot afford to keep up with their addiction, or cannot physically stop so they will have little other choice than to turn to crime to support their habit.

In the same way, the legalization of marijuana would open up the very lucrative market to large companies that currently have a stranglehold on the tobacco industry. It is expected that they would quickly buy out the smaller weed farmers and producers and establish a monopoly-like system. After this was done, they could eventually add addictive substances like nicotine to their new and unregulated products and trap buyers between addiction and poverty.

We need to focus on uprooting the cartels, rather than just removing the buds growing over the border time after time. We also need to ensure that this plant is not being fed by the legalization of the harmful narcotics. Legalization will allow them to run honest businesses within America, but will not change them into honest people.

Every day, more than 3,200 persons younger than 18 start smoking and an estimated 2,100 youth and young adults who are occasional smokers become daily smokers. With greater enforcement of the current age restrictions put in place for these drugs, these numbers might grow smaller. The drug war, along with public opinion, has done a great deal to quell the massive cigarette industry. However, this fight is not over, it is imperative that we continue to fight so that future generations can live a healthier and longer life.

The current economical situation may not be ideal for waging such a war, but if we stop while our economy is weak, then that will likely make it harder to regain the lost ground when the recession inevitably ends.


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Battle against drugs needs to focus south of the border