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.

NEXT: In Criminal Cases, Should Science Only Serve the State?

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  1. wow finally someone speaking common sense and scientific facts over political bias and trumped up outrage. give that lady a rep or senate seat. PLEASE

  2. It must take John a long time to get from his Rush Limbaugh wireless receiver to his computer.

  3. Here’s what the SoS had to say about Mexican violence today:

    “Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the death of police officers, soldiers and civilians,” Clinton said. “I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility.”

    What I like about her statements are how she blames tens of millions of drug users and not the War on Drugs itself–the latter which is the sole cause of the violence, not the former–and how she takes a backhand shot at gun ownership.

  4. To correct the correction. Maricopa County is not on the border. It is completely surrounded by six other counties. Four Arizona counties are on the border: Yuma, Pima, Santa Cruz and Cochise but not Maricopa. It is true crime has gone up in Maricopa. But then we have a grandstanding sheriff who would rather round up illegal gardeners and janitors than deal with violent criminals. He has a SWAT team that was used to go after people with traffic tickets, managed to force a puppy into a burning building, where it died, and left a tank to roll down a hill almost killing a mother and her child, but crushing their car. Add to that a Religious Right lunatic in the county attorney’s office, who is fighting with everyone in site, and of course crime will go up. But is sure as hell isn’t because Maricopa is on the border. It is due to incompetent morons being elected sheriff and country attorney.

  5. Preemptively shut the fuck up, LoneWacko.

  6. hlm: I assume she meant “border” as a regional marker. Also, she said that violent crime there decreased, not increased.

  7. Add to that a Religious Right lunatic in the county attorney’s office, who is fighting with everyone in site

    What site would that be in?

  8. I would rather live in Arizona than Gaza.

  9. Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade

    Speak for yourself, madame

  10. Pro, I think Hillary is making a great case that prohibition is becoming a national security risk.

    Drug gangs can be crushed just like the bootlegging gangs were.

  11. Reinmoose, for the most part she is correct. Our insatiable demand for alcohol fueled the bootlegging trade too. I think the same solution should apply.

  12. TofuSushi | March 25, 2009, 3:24pm | #

    It must take John a long time to get from his Rush Limbaugh wireless receiver to his computer.”

    Twit.

  13. Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade

    Epi, you got some ‘splainin’ to do.

  14. 8 months before 9/11 there was…

    The Lone Gunmen

  15. One correction: I should have said that crime went up in those parts of Maricopa under the Sheriff’s jurisdiction and down in areas not under his jurisdiction. I misspoke when I said the entire county, it was only those regions under the control of Sheriff Joe “Stalin.”

  16. “TofuSushi | March 25, 2009, 3:37pm | #

    Add to that a Religious Right lunatic in the county attorney’s office, who is fighting with everyone in site

    What site would that be in?”

    Double Twit

  17. “TofuSushi | March 25, 2009, 3:43pm | #

    I would rather live in Arizona than Gaza.”

    Triple Twit

  18. *,

    I am ignoring you until you get a real handle. Like @ or better.

  19. But I would rather live in Gaza than in Maxine Waters.

  20. “I am ignoring you until you get a real handle. Like @ or better.”

    You’re like a chronic farter on a cross country bus trip.

    Please, someone crack a window.

  21. “I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility.”

    Hey, who would know more about enabling and co-dependency than Mrs. Bill Clinton?

  22. Most of this ballyhoo, I think, is nothing more than psychological preparation for closing the borders to normal, perfectly legal, crossings by tourists and buyers. It HAS happened before, when the Enrique Camarena crisis exploded (the planted DEA officer that was kidnapped and killed in Mexico in 1985 and caused a series of international crisis between Mexico and the US). The border was virtually closed to private and commercial crossings.

    So this drug violence spillover will be nothing more than a justification for placing even more restrictions on peaceful and legal crossings between Mexico and the US, potentially straining the relationship between the two countries even further. I can say that if Il Duce snubbed someone like Gordon Brown, the PM of the closest ally to the US, I can only be frightened by how this arrogant acolyte of Ayers will treat the Mexican president or the Mexican people.

  23. You mean the insatiable demand was a direct reference to Episiarch? Wow, that’s impressive. Wish I could do something to personally torque Hillary Clinton [shrugs, kicks pebble].

  24. The best stuff comes from the northern border anyway

  25. Wish I could do something to personally torque Hillary Clinton

    Ew.

  26. Torque as in upset her, dude. Don’t get icky this late in the day.

  27. Maricopa County is not on the U.S. – Mexico border. Pima County and Santa Cruz county are, which is where the I-19/I-10 smuggling corridor runs North from Nogales, Sonora through Tucson up to Phoenix, and then outward to all points on the map. Also, in the West, Yuma County, and in the East, Cochise County lie on the border, and have their own problems with immigration and drug smuggling. But just as a point of clarification, Maricopa county, where Phoenix is (and that nutball Joe Arpaio is Sheriff), is not a border county, as the article suggests.

  28. Add to that a Religious Right lunatic in the county attorney’s office, who is fighting with everyone in site, and of course crime will go up.

    As someone who worked under the guy, I assure you his only agenda is doing whatever it take to get reelected. Don’t blame him and Sheriff Joe, they’re only a symptom, blame Sun City and Mesa.

  29. Well, I see someone said it already. Oh well.

  30. Maricopa county is not on the US/Mexican border. It is to the north of Pima county, which is on the border.

    Maricopa is the place where music and passion were always in fashion.

  31. The flurry of panic about the spillover of violence from Mexico also arises just as Congress considers the latest installment of the Merida Mierda Initiative

    FTFY.

  32. Could somebody clarify for me whether Maricopa County is on the border or not?

  33. Could somebody clarify for me whether Maricopa County is on the border or not

    I believe it’s on the Canadian border.

  34. RC Dean: No.

  35. “Could somebody clarify for me whether Maricopa County is on the border or not?”

    It kind of looks as if it is:

    http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&tab=wl

  36. Guess you have to type in Maricopa County.

  37. Drug gangs can be crushed just like the bootlegging gangs were.

    If you thought poor Iraqis and Afghans were giving our troops their due, just wait until the Administration insist on stepping it up against rich drug cartels that are, you know, a half days drive away instead of across an ocean. Nothing good can come of this.

    “Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the death of police officers, soldiers and civilians,” Clinton said. “I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility.”

    Like early J G Ballard novels, there is a lot of crazy packed into a few words.

  38. “Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the death of police officers, soldiers and civilians,” Clinton said. “I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility.”

    Some were cautiously optimistic about recent developments like Christ’s, I mean Obama’s pick for drug czar. But where do we go from here? Are they going to send US troops to Mexico? the Border? Are they going to spend more money? Money from where? I fear that thing are not going to get better. LIke Trickyvic said, I think Clinton is setting the ground work for making the drug war a national security issue. That it will be democrats that will somehow manage to ramp up the drug war.

    Two things are immutable: 1) Drugs will continue to be consumed, 2) Someone will find a way to satisfy those consumers.

    And where the fuck is Joe since this douche bag has been elected?

  39. 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

    That is an incredible fact in and of itself. What more could you ask for?

    And has anyone produced an authoritative critique of the notion that American “assault weapons” are being used by Mexican cartels?

  40. Speaking of exaggerations or the opposite thereof, the author of this piece understated her case.
    End the US War on Drugs and the US War on Illegal Immigrants.
    Money saved, not spent.
    Imagine that.
    Problem “down there” solved. Peace restored.
    If only all problems “down there” could be solved so easily. (Thinking of herpes, etc.)

  41. Alan, the bootleggers were crushed by the effects of the 21st amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    “””LIke Trickyvic said, I think Clinton is setting the ground work for making the drug war a national security issue. That it will be democrats that will somehow manage to ramp up the drug war.”””

    Though they probably will use it as an excuse to ramp up the drug war, they won’t win. I agree with your two immutable items. There is only one way to end the negative effects of a black market.

    My point, albeit not obvious, is that it becomes harder to not talk about ending the prohibition when the prohibition its self becomes a national security problem. Clinton, by calling it a national secruity issue, gives anti-prohibitionist a stage to highlight the failures and dangers of the drug war. The claim that the drug war has escalated into a national secruity issue is pretty solid evidence that they are not winning the drug war. It becomes a matter of national security to look at alternatives to the status quo.

    Clinton gave us a good talking point, we should take advantage of it. The drug war is very dangerous to our nation.

  42. And has anyone produced an authoritative critique of the notion that American “assault weapons” are being used by Mexican cartels?

    ?Ellos Toman Nuestros Trabajos!

  43. Alan, the bootleggers were crushed by the effects of the 21st amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    Now, I get you. It did go over my head because at least in my area of the country bootleggers are far from being crushed so it wasn’t the first notion I would have attached to the idea.

  44. The drug war is very dangerous to our nation.

    And really, what a waste of money and resources.

  45. This acute crisis was created at the behest of the USgov. MXgov gave in to pressure to ramp up the-war-on-(some)drugs. Now cartels, their ability to penetrate the border apparently uneffected, are smuggling guns in violation of MXgov’s prohibition on firearms. Talking heads are ginning up yet another national security threat. They say the guns are coming from the US, I bet they are coming from somewhere farther south. Obama hasn’t got the goddam guts to call the whole thing off. Too many fucking jobs would be lost.
    The BBC is blathering hourly about our “insatiable” demand for drugs. Really? Insatiable? I have an apparently insatiable desire for assholes with tongues to shut the fuck up!

  46. Don’t blame him and Sheriff Joe, they’re only a symptom, blame Sun City and Mesa.

    Oh I do! Every time the brown-skin-fearing geriatrics make their mass exodus to the polls, like wildebeest on Rascals, I want to consume large amounts of alcohol. Unfortunately, as far as I know its still illegal to buy booze on voting day in Arizona!

    Besides, can’t I blame Arpaio/Thomas and the morons who elect them?

  47. “””And really, what a waste of money and resources.”””

    Yeah, but our government doesn’t seem to care about that, it’s not their money or resources. National security, they care about. Making a claim that ending the drug war to improve national security may sit better with those who have opposed ending it for other reasons.

  48. “””Besides, can’t I blame Arpaio/Thomas and the morons who elect them?”””

    Yes!

  49. Alan, is that because of anti-alcohol laws creating a market for them? Or is it a desire for a specific product?

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