The Mexican drug war and its intensification

Event study estimates suggest that cartel presence increases substantially after 2010 in municipalities well suited to grow opium poppy. Homicide rates increase along with the number of active cartels per municipality, with higher increases when a second, third, fourth and fifth cartel become active in the territory. These results suggest that some of the increase in violence that Mexico experienced in the last fifteen years could be attribute to criminal groups fighting for market shares of heroin and not only to changes in government enforcement.

That is from a recent job market paper by Fernanda Sobrino of Princeton University.


This Represents A Firm Grasp Of The Obvious . . .

File under "true but trivial"?

Statistic tell us about half the crime in California is from meth addicts.

Half the "which" crimes?

That matters.

Build the wall.

The excerpt misses the key part of the abstract- it's an event study looking at the 2010 OxyContin reformulation and the effect of this increased demand on # of cartels

Might be relevant:

From the article: Figure 2: Opium Poppy Suitability Index

It seems most of Mexico is well suited for opium poppy cultivation. The exceptions are the central and Chiapas highlands, the Yucatan peninsula and north Baja California.

If most of Mexico has good soil and climate for the plant, perhaps the level of government law enforcement would explain the differences in violence.

PS. it would be interesting to make an Opium Poppy Suitability Index for the continental US. Then discuss why the best areas for opium have no cartel violence.

Cheaper labor costs in Mexico

So we know a lot now about the economics of such Black Markets.

But the American 'War on Drugs' warriors learn nothing from decades of dramatic failure and huge negative consequences of their irrational crusade.

Point taken, but that's really not a sufficiently comprehensive explanation. These markets already operate relatively freely. Marijuana, LSD and mushrooms were widely distributed at my college and completely illegal, but nobody was getting shot up in drive-by's or hanging people off overpasses.

I'd love to ditch the whole enforcement/welfare apparatus, but it seems the results from enough experiments are in. Free markets in drugs mean large homeless populations imposing numerous externalities and violent cartels. I think the kind of people you want as neighbors are simply not going to sell recreational drugs for a living. Did anybody in the Italian mafia become a distiller or vintner after Prohibition was repealed?

Free markets in drugs mean large homeless populations imposing numerous externalities and violent cartels.
You may be wrong because:
1. Many heroin users are able to work.
2. The free market price might be very low and affordable to minimum wage workers.

"Many?" I strongly doubt it. Many more cannot. Philip Seymour Hoffman, for example, would have become incapable of working very soon.

Everything I've seen about heroin indicates it is a completely consumptive drug. Users become incapable of anything. Then they die young.

Let's see if we can make it through this thread without mentioning the banks that facilitate the laundering of proceeds, which basically makes the entire enterprise possible, at least at scale.

They're big 'n all; so we love them.

Everybody is rolling out their pet bete noire here. For prior, it's free markets, for 'We live' it's open borders, for McMike it's the banksters.

Tyler reaps what he sows

This is a weirdly conspiratorial view of the illegal drug market.

In a world largely comprised of actual conspiracies, namely the transnational violent drug cartels who murder tens of thousands of innocent people every year in México, you focus on “banks.”

Okay, so is your view that banks should refuse clients with a vowel at the end of their name, or banks should refuse clients who are Latinos, or maybe just Mexican nationals, or banks should rigorously perform law enforcement investigations on all brown clients?

Utter nonsense sophistry from you, you packed like ten logical fallacies in there.

The symbiotic relationship of criminal banks and money laundering is well documented. Criminal enterprises are eventually limited in growth if they cannot transfer their funds to "legitimate" use/storage

Meanwhile, your straw suggestion regarding regulation is just plain juevenile. There are plenty of efffective ways to catch money laundering, the problem is how to only catch drug dealers.

Hell, even some Republicans got interested in this briefly, in the wake of 9-11.

Do you have any evidence at all for blaming banks for drug trafficking? This is a wildly inaccurate claim that cuts against the obvious reality of drug cartels causing a failed state, so some evidence would be nice.

Would love to hear your suggestions for money laundering regulations to prevent drug cartels from moving cash, since this is clearly your area of expertise.

We're waiting :)

Faced with the explanations that you are either being deliberately obstinant or willfuly ignorant... I can't decide. There's so much evidence for both.

The WSJ may be a little too info-warsy for you, but since you seem unable to operate a google search:

Now the drug gangs are fighting for shares of green gold — avocados.

By all means, open borders.

These questions are irrellevant. What's relevant is whether Mexico can properly be considered an intact sovereign country or something more like Somalia or Afghanistan.

It's kind of bizarre that we're flying troops all over the world to participate in civil wars but Mexico is perceived as full of pious abuelas in chapel veils or compliant indigenous happily washing dishes for $6 an hour so no need to worry about it.

AFAIK, Mexico is serving it's roles for the US quite well as is. And there's very little negative spillover across our border. (I mean, REAL negative spillover). Why would we send troops in to mess that up?

Meth comes from Mexico and causes serious brain damage and it marketed illegally. It is on he scale of state sponsored chemical warfare especially when the current presidents brother is involved. Other state sponsors may be exporting meth precursor to Mexico.

Meets the conditions for a state of war between Mexico failed state and the USA. Turkey is making the same claim, it has validity.

Meth largely affects the poor and rural by keeping them busy and incarcerated. Which is good for the private prison industry here and gives the cops something to do with all those weapons and tanks. The impacst, like opioids, is only really visible in rural places.

A of course it makes the banks rich laundering money

I didn't say NO spillover, I said no "negative" spillover. So of course that definition must be made under the metrics of the US elite.

Right, that's been the pattern. But if Mexico becomes too weak to facilitate that corruption, that puts it all in play in a new way. And new capable and ruthless actors are poised to act.

Ask Manuel Noriega or Saddam. Everyone who matters knows where the lines are.

Yes, it's a huge conspiracy to flood America with meth to keep the private prison industry profitable.

Whatever the left version of InfoWars is, you're spending too much time on it.

Oh dear, I seem to have triggered you into a strawman crisis.

We can station the military along a one-mile strip south of the US border for interdiction and defense until Mexico decides to start acting like a serious country.

Abuela! Just yesterday I heard about a new children's book, about a little boy who bravely saves his abuela from the octopus she was getting ready to cook in the traditional manner.

I had remembered the outdoor book festival was happening this past weekend, so I was perusing the lineup - an interesting cultural artifact in itself: - as the day augured fine. The book was an afternoon read in the Latinx Storytelling Tent.

A certain numbing tendentiousness to the offerings, which reminded me why I hadn't attended in years, got me thinking the whole thing could be renamed the "Texas Abuela Festival" with little loss of information.

T.C.: Come to the book festival next year! I will come out to see you, and I promise to take my medicine and attend some of the other events.

It's worth a try.

I thought the cartels would cease to exist once the USA stopped enforcing marijuana laws?

News flash, the US hasn't.

News flash, no one seriously promised that.

Any reasonable prediction was for a change in product and strategies

Nope. Once prohibition creates organized crime, the U.S. experience is that it takes many decades to stamp it out. How long after the repeal of prohibition did it take to get rid of the mafia (which, of course, moved to other illegal activities after prohibition)?

By the same token, we should expect the damage from the drug war to be very long term (and, of course, marijuana hasn't been legalized yet (so far, we're at just 10 of 50 states having legalized and half of those are very recent).

Now let's compare Mexican drug war fatalities over the past fifteen years with the American death rate resulting from perfectly LEGAL, perfectly REGULATED, perfectly OVERSEEN peddling of opioids from perfectly CREDENTIALED physicians with perfectly attained AMA certification working with perfectly CRAVE pharma companies whose executives themselves are never obliged to subscribe to the Hippocratic Oath that credentialed American MDs all endorse and observe.

(How many US physicians have PERMANENTLY LOST their prescribing credentials and/or their medical licenses over the past fifteen years for their roles in addicting Americans to opioid "prescriptions"?)

Typo: CRAVEN pharma companies--those whose executives craved profits from peddling opiate addiction. (On their way to cornering the market, why did these execs not simply endorse legalizing heroin or morphine addiction?)

The cartels aren't drug vendors, drug vending is just how they collect revenue. They're rival sovereigns to the nominal state.

As for the Drug War angle, the best way for the US to throttle demand would be to Build The Wall and deploy its army to the border. This won't fix the cartel problem in Mexico because, again, the cartels aren't really about selling drugs, but it would at least keep the problem in Mexico and maybe give the Mexican state an advantage by depriving their enemies of tax revenue. That won't happen because the US ruling class definitely wants Latin American immigration to keep wages down, and probably wants to poison nuisance populations.

What makes you think a wall and a line of soldiers would stop a half-trillion dollar industry from finding a new supply route?

What makes you think it would have no effect? It doesn't have to reduce the contraband flow to zero.

It will affect tons of things. Just not the drug flow, at least not very very long.

I for one plan to invest in drones and tunnel boring machines. Just to name two that come to mind off the top.

Imagine thinking that DIY airlift or tunnels (both of which btw impose serious costs on the smuggler) would allow for the same volume of traffic as currently. Both are also far more difficult to accomplish in a surreptitious/deniable manner.

Imagine thinking that half trillion dollar industry can be stopped with a wall

I’m with ivvena here. It stumps me how people got the idea that a literally physical obstacle wouldn’t significantly affect a trade mostly plied openly on foot and by truck. A half trillion dollar industry suddenly finding that transportation costs have increased by a magnitude can’t move as much product.
But alas, it’s politically expedient for some to demand a magic bullet solution and dog the only viable idea on the table because it isn’t your guy’s.

Is there are risk that using the military in this fashion risks corrupting the military in the same way that prison guards (I imagine) or the Mexican police/military are corrupt?

It doesn't matter. It's all directed from Cuba.

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