Drug War

The Best Way to Fight Mexico's Drug Cartels


Today the Cato Institute, which tomorrow is holding a conference on "Ending the Global War on Drugs," released a paper analyzing Mexico's part in that war, which has been spectacularly bloody in recent years, killing more than 40,000 people since President Felipe Calderon launched a military assault on the cartels at the end of 2006. Cato Senior Fellow Ted Galen Carpenter concludes:

The only lasting, effective strategy is to defund the Mexican drug cartels. Reducing their billions of dollars in revenue requires the United States, as the principal consumer market for illegal drugs, to abandon its failed prohibition policy. That move would eliminate the lucrative black-market premium and greatly reduce the financial resources the cartels have available to bribe officials or hire enforcers to kill competitors and law enforcement personnel and intimidate the Mexican people. A refusal to abandon prohibition means that Mexico's agony will likely worsen and pose a significant security problem for the United States.

More on the Cato conference here.

NEXT: Sorry, But the VA Isn't a Model Health Care System for the Rest of the Country

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I’m sure Obama will reveal his own plan for eliminating Mexican cartels during the ‘012 campaign.

    Read my lips: Flying Killer Robots.

    1. MexiDrone 2012

  2. /TJ

    Just for good measure, cause they keep ruining my day with updates on the TEEVEE, FUCK YOU PENN STATE. Yeah, I made fun of their predicament last week. I MAKE FUN OF EVERYTHING. But the reality is perverse and disgusting, and you people make me sick. Fuck off and die. Especially you, Jerry Sandusky, you twisted fuck, and all you idiot JoePa worshippers. You SUCK.

    That is all.


  3. I sure wish my congressional representative, Kevin McCarthy (R) California, would read the CATO paper and have the nerve to actually do something constructive rather than just being “tough on crime”.

  4. To the extent the Cato paper has any impact at all, it will be used to justify really cracking down in the WOD.

    I mean, since all the drugs being sold in the US are at the root of the bloody cartel war, what other choice do Serious, Responsible Statesmen have?

    1. I’m surprised that we haven’t nuked any drug-producing countries (other than the U.S., of course), given our rhetoric.

      At the very least, flamethrower-carrying drones would seem in order to burn fields from the skies.

      Or, maybe, we should just drop the whole WoD?

      1. That pretty much describes what we (and the UN) have been doing in AFG in re: poppies.

        1. A test case for the whole world. Pure, cleansing flame.

  5. Can’t legalize drugs!
    How will police be able to arbitrarily search people and take their stuff without everyone being considered guilty until proving themselves innocent by submitting to a search?
    What about those who profit from prisons? Guards have families to feed too you know.
    What about all the lawyers who profit from defending and prosecuting drug crimes? Lawyers are people too. Well, not really.
    What about the lost revenue to drug companies when people self-medicate?
    What about substance abuse counselors who make money when judges force people into treatment?

    I mean, you can’t go acting like people own their own bodies and should be allowed to choose what goes into them.

    Crazy talk!


  6. Typical Libertarians want to solve problems through more chaos. Drug cartels don’t care about you or your children and legalization will not stop their violence. Violent anarchy is already the system of drug cartels and you want to make it law? You can’t use anarchy to solve this problem between two countries that want government. You have to wake up and realize the Mexican and American people want order and not chaos.

    1. Somalia, ROADZ!!!!!

      1. Liberty = Anarchy

    2. You know, as far as I know, McDonald’s has never hired hitmen to do a drive by on the local Burger King.

      It’s not that the cartel guys are nice. They are psychopaths. It’s that those psychopaths will have to return to extortion and pimping once they no longer have a monopoly on the drug trade. Legalizing it makes the cartels obsolete.

    3. How is a taxed and regulated system of drug distribution more chaotic than a distribution system run by criminals with no regulation? You’re right, drug cartels don’t care about you or your children. The owner of the corner store won’t sell alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana to minors because he’d lose his license. Cartels will sell to anyone with the green.

  7. The best strategy is first to get federal officials elected who claim to oppose drug use themselves, and think that drugs should be illegal, but allow states to legalize them if they want to do so, without federal interference.

    Let’s face it, no one who wants to totally legalize all drugs from day one is going to become influential at the federal level on this issue. So CATO and Reason are pissing in the wind if that’s what they set as the goal.

  8. Calls to end the drug war to defund the cartels: Dog bites man.

    Obama caught smoking weed in White House, subsequently calls for defunding DEA: Man bites dog.

  9. that’s stupid

    Why would WE need to legalize drugs to defund MEXCIAN cartels? MEXICO would need to legalize drugs, and then leave the problem of stopping the smuggling at the border to us. Whether or not we buy the drugs would be of no concern to them if they left the anti-smuggling-enforcement up to us.

    1. Because we’re a much more lucrative market, obviously. We have more customers and can pay higher rates.

    2. “”and then leave the problem of stopping the smuggling at the border to us.””

      It’s already up to us. How are we doing?

      Building a wall doesn’t help.


  10. Decriminalizing marijuana would not result in the instantaneous vaporization of criminal gangs. Therefor, we should not do it.


    1. This seems to be the argument of the day for most drug warriors… “Why, if we legalize drugs, they’ll just start (kidnapping|robbing|extorting|enlaving) people!”, because, ya know, that’s exactly what rum runners did after prohibition ended.

      1. No, they moved to prostitution and illegal drugs (and the gangs did shrink due to the legal competition in the booze market).

        As long as anything is illegal there will be gangs making money doing it.

      2. The naysayers also claim the cartels will simply sell more meth and heroin… As if they are not already fully exploiting those markets.

  11. The Cartels themselves are the biggest supporters of Prohibition. Drug legalization would send their profits down the crapper.

  12. Think about the latin american leaders who talk out both sides of their necks… With prohibition they get large amounts of foreign aid from the us and they benefit from a cocaine economy much like miami had… Itd be interesting to see their economies without without our prohibition

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.