Overseas/Interdiction

Debunking Drug Warriors' Data

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Laura Carlsen debunks some of the statistics that supposedly show Mexican drug-war violence spilling over into the U.S. Here's an excerpt:

Contradictory facts are sometimes mentioned, but take a back seat to the hype, which is considered the real news. For example, in a NYT article titled "Wave of Drug Violence is Creeping into Arizona from Mexico, Officials Say," near the end of the article we are informed that homicide and violent crime in Arizona's border Maricopa County has decreased over the past years. A few of the articles on El Paso's panic attack over spillover also managed to mention that the city has one of the lowest homicide rates in the country, but buried the fact in a barrage of alarmist statements.

Other evidence used to cite spillover from Mexican drug cartels defies logic. Operation Xcellerator--a sting operation in the United States that reportedly led to the arrest of over 700 individuals associated with the Sinaloa drug cartel--is spun as evidence of the danger from Mexico when it is a criminal network in the United States, operated by U.S. citizens, and dealing to U.S. buyers. Of course it has links to foreign supply, but that does not change the transnational--not Mexican--nature of the threat.

When questioned following his testimony before the House Committee on Border and International Affairs Feb. 23, Homeland Security Director Steve McCraw stated that, "Yes, absolutely it (spillover violence) has occurred; there's no question about it." But the indicators of spillover discussed at the hearing in the absence of rising crime included U.S. citizens treated for injuries sustained in Juarez, asylum seekers, and threats against U.S. citizens. None constituted real Mexican crime infiltration of U.S. society.

In rejecting reporters' sloppy exaggerations, Carlsen is not denying the violence on the Mexican side of the border, nor the fact that those crimes have had effects up north. She notes, though, that these problems are products of prohibition itself, a fact that makes the calls for militarization all the more misguided.