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The chickens come home to roost

20 October 2008
… U.S. drug czar John P. Walters, in Mexico City to reassure officials that aid to fight drug gangs is in the pipeline, said traffickers resort to “fear and horror” in their campaign to take over government institutions but will ultimately fail.

“It’s not just about drugs,” Walters told a news conference. “It’s about kidnapping and murder. It’s about extortion . . . and suborning government officials.”

Although Mexican society suffers the brunt of the violence, Walters said, drug gangs and their hit men cross the border with relative ease to settle scores and carry out slayings in the U.S.

“These groups do not respect the border,” said Walters, who is head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy…

(Tracy Wilkinson, 18-October-2008 Los Angeles Times)

It’s about time.

Nice to see that the “Drug Czar” recognizes that drugs are not the issue…though he seems to think “kidnapping and murder… extortion… and suborning government officials” are a uniquely Mexican problem in the “proxy war” on some drugs.

While Walters is still fighting marijuana — which pretty much grows anywhere, and is abundantly available in the United States — what the “war on drugs” involves is money, guns, cocaine and methampetamines.

The money and guns don’t come from Mexico, but from the United States.  Coca doesn’t grow in Mexico, but comes in from U.S. allies Colombia and Peru (with Bolivia a distant third).  If the money and guns that support the trade don’t come into Mexico, the cocaine dealers will find an alternative route.  Methamphetamines ARE produced in Mexico, but depend on pseudoephenidrine suppliers… a chemical that is imported into Mexico from U.S. “most favored trading partner” (and largest lender) the People’s Republic of China, or India.  Certainly Mexico could do a better job of stopping pseudoephindrine imports, but why should it?  The U.S. concept of “free trade” seems to extend to giving preference to cheap Chinese goods over NAFTA partner Mexico in other goods, and Mexico has no real incentive to stop an import that at least gives the country a “value-added product” that the U.S. is willing to buy.

People seem shocked that “subording government officials” takes place in the United States.  It’s been going on for some time, and nothing new.  Commenting in the McAllen Monitor on the arrest of Starr County (Texas)  Sheriff Reymundo “Rey” Guerra, accused of accepting thousands of dollars in cash and gifts in exchange for aiding Gulf Cartel operations,

Alonzo Alvarez, a retired Roma High School teacher who has known the sheriff for decades, described drug trafficking as simply a way of life in Starr County.

Without surmising as to Guerra’s guilt or innocence, Alvarez testified that many of his friends, relatives and neighbors growing up in impoverished Roma turned to drug smuggling as a way to make a living for their families.

“It’s part of our heritage on the river,” Alvarez said. “It’s tradition for us.”

And, I’d say it’s just not on the river… but anywhere in America where people can earn a few bucks.

Now comes the weekend tear-jerker story of six-year old Cole Puffinburger.  Puffinburger, a cute little white kid, is the grandson of Clemens Tinnemeyer, who

… had stolen from a Mexican drug cartel through drug trafficking, primarily in methamphetamine, according to sources and police.


Sources said the amount of money stolen was between $8 million and $20 million and that he had been hiding.

Obviously, meth suppliers screwed over by their buyers can’t go to court, and have to resort to alternative dispute resolution methods to recover the debt. While it’s a good thing that young Cole was released unharmed (granddad ponied up, apparently, and is being held as a “material witness” in the case), had this only involved Mexican immigrants, or even Mexican-Americans, it probably wouldn’t have been more than a local news story, or it would have been spun as “those damn Mescans turning on their own” type story.

One reason I felt uncomfortable when I moved back to the United States was that the country was supposedly fighting two wars (in Iraq and Afganistan) but there was no war-time sense of urgency or emergency.  People were happy to fly their flags, and put “I support the troops” stickers on their cars (or huge SUVs), and lip service was paid to “the brave sacrifice” of soldiers and sailors… but I had no sense of anyone being asked to personally fight a war, or accept deprivation, or even iconvenience.

Here in Mexico, we have to read and see the corpses of every victim in this war (and the bloody corpses are national news… unlike in the U.S. where neither those killed in the foreign wars, nor those who die horribly from narcotics related violence or of just narcotics use ever disturb anyone’s tender sensiblities).  We see the police and army in the streets.  We see the guns.  We see the money.  We know the details of the kidnappings.

How will the U.S. react when it’s their middle class (and upper class) that starts getting their heads chopped off, when its their reporters being killed, when their children are kidnapped?  Denial, or are they going to get serious?

Mexico is “winning” (at a huge cost to itself) a war not of its making.  The foreign invaders are being driven into their own territory.  Gonna suck for the U.S., but that’s war.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. MaryOGrady permalink
    20 October 2008 8:11 pm

    Great post, but you forgot heroin.

  2. 22 October 2008 10:45 am

    Great article, I didn’t know what to expect but I’m glad I heard this story. Keep up the good work.

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  1. Mexico News & Reviews | Mexico 411: The War on Drugs

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