Criminal anarchy on America’s doorstep

By Bernd Debusmann
September 24, 2009

Bernd Debusmann-Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own -

When Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderon, ordered 2,500 troops and federal agents into border city Ciudad Juarez 17 months ago to tamp down drug violence, the monthly murder rate ran at an average of 66. In retrospect, those were the days of peace and calm.

Ciudad Juarez has become the most active front in simultaneous and increasingly bloody wars. One is between drug cartels fighting each other for access to the U.S. market. Another is between drug traffickers and Mexican authorities charged with imposing law and order. They have been singularly unsuccessful.

Despite a vastly increased military presence (now about 7,000, plus 2,500 federal agents), the monthly body count this year has averaged more than 180 a month. In August, the body count exceeded 300, a record. According to a study published in August by a Mexican non-profit group, the Citizen Council for Public Security and Justice, Ciudad Juarez (population 1.6 million) has become the world’s most violent city.

Nation-wide, almost 14,000 people have died in drug-related violence since Calderon took office and declared war on the drug business. Casualties on the government side: 725 police and soldiers between the beginning of 2008 and mid-2009 alone.

But body counts tell only part of the story. To hear residents of Ciudad Juarez tell it, there is a third war going on, waged by common criminals against citizens who are fast losing what little faith they had that the state can provide security.

Common crime, from robbery and rape to extortion, auto theft and kidnapping for ransom, is up and Ciudad Juarez, divided from its Texan sister city El Paso by the Rio Grande river, has slid into what one long-time resident calls “a permanent state of criminal anarchy.”

Most killings fall into the category of “bad guys eliminating bad guys” and don’t inspire much, if any, investigative energy. And there is near-absolute impunity for murdering “malandros,” a colloquial term for an underclass of young addicts, small-time drug dealers, homeless people and others at the bottom of the social pile, according to Gustavo de la Rosa, a senior investigator of the Human Rights Commission of the state of Chihuahua, where Ciudad Juarez is the biggest city.

“We estimate that between 300 and 500 malandros have been killed since July of 2008,” de la Rosa said in an interview. “Not a single one of these murders has been solved, which leads one to believe that what is going on is ‘social cleansing’ with the tacit permission of the state.” Oscar Maynez Grijalva,  a former state forensics chief, has talked about death squads whose activities should be, but are not, investigated.

In the most brutal act so far of what some suspect is “social cleansing,” gunmen wielding AK-47 assault rifles stormed into a drug rehabilitation center early in September, herded 18 youths outside, lined them up against a wall and shot them. For good measure, they also put a bullet through the head of the center’s dog. It was the fifth mass killing at a rehabilitation center in a year and it took place within sight of the U.S. border fence.

ELIMINATING DISPOSABLE HUMAN BEINGS?

“Social cleansing,” the targeted elimination of groups considered undesirable, worthless or dangerous, has been practiced in a number of countries across Latin America, including Guatemala, El Salvador, Brazil, Honduras, Argentina, and Colombia, where the victims are labelled “the disposable ones.” It has not been a Mexican tradition.

But now, looking too closely into the question “who is killing whom and why” is becoming an increasingly risky business, as is following up on citizens’ complaints about army abuses. Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission has documented rapes, executions, torture and arbitrary detentions in states where the army is fighting the drug cartels.

Since Calderon began using the military to bypass notoriously corrupt police agencies, around 50,000 soldiers and 30,000 federal police officials have been deployed in drug-producing states and border cities. If Ciudad Juarez is a model, they can be part of the problem rather than the solution.

Take the case of de la Rosa, who became an outspoken critic of the military in the course of his job – pressing the army to investigate complaints from victims or their families. That earned him ever more explicit warnings to cool his criticism, from telephoned death threats to the detention and beating of one of his bodyguards.

“I’m convinced my life is at risk and on August 25, I asked the head of the state human rights commission to arrange for protection for myself and my office,” he said.  His request was greeted with silence, until September 20, when he was suspended from his job because the commission saw no way to guarantee his safety.

He then sent a detailed, 3,100-word letter to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission urging it to take measures to protect his life and that of his wife and 21-year-old son. What effect that plea will have remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, “I’ve begun adjusting my life,” said de la Rosa. “I won’t be sleeping in the same place every night. I won’t follow a daily routine.”In other words, he is going into hiding in the city where he has lived for most of his 63 years. Criminal anarchy in action.

(You can contact the author at Debusmann@Reuters.com)

91 comments

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Good article but nothing new to report really. Another failed war on something by the American goverment.
Another reason to legalise drugs.

Posted by Dutch | Report as abusive

In the case of Hitler “social cleansing” was wrong, morally repulsive, and undeniably cruel and inhumane. This is only because the ones cleansed were innocent of any wrongdoing, and the methods used to cleanse them were barbaric.

In this case “social cleansing” is exactly the model Western society needs to adopt. Anything that actual criminals receive in the way of defense, time, housing, etc. is a waste.

It doesn’t matter what you believe. Everyone will agree that when you are driving in the left lane and someone deliberately drives in front of you slowly, that person has made a conscious decision to delay progress. All such humans are worthless to society, as their invidualism hinders everyone around them.

Freedom is good, sure. But when one person’s freedom is in the way of everyone else’s that person needs to go.

Posted by teh_admiral | Report as abusive

Simple: Seal the border. We have the military power, and simply check, check and check again those who cross. I lived in berlin (West) for 7 years, and I saw how even the dysfunctional East Germans kept the border sealed to all but legitimate traffic.

If the US military can’t do this, then disperse the military, because the world isn’t shaped like Dr. Strangelove anymore.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

Wow Dutch, that was an intelligent insight. Why don’t you go to Ciudad Juarez for a nice visit. Drugs are practically legal there anyhow.

Posted by England | Report as abusive

To Dutch: legalize marijuana, but not the hard drugs. This is another great idea not yet tried and should be.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

JUST BUILD A WALL ALREADY! Build a wall and the drug dealers have to actually WORK to get the product across.

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

Legalizing drugs is not the answer. Class warfare with the result of removing and destroying certain classes is the secular answer. Then comes Jesus.

Posted by Dwaine | Report as abusive

Where in that article is there anything about the American Government? I do agree that legalizing heroin, marijuana, and cocaine would take the power away from the cartels though. We’ll see how that works out now that they have done so.

Posted by chomp | Report as abusive

I tried but failed to read the story in it’s entirety as I could hardly get past the second paragraph. Why is it you choose to bloviate and overuse adjectives to a point of redundancy? It would go without saying that the Mexican authorities are responsible for upholding the law and therefore not required to educate the reader as such. Sorry but I cant read this effort at reporting the news. Maybe Reuters should do better to vet their stories and or authors of same.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

I have to disagree on the whole ‘social cleansing’ pitch. The “malandros” are being killed by other malandros who are trying to get rich just like the former. It is nothing more than a turf war (a very serious one).

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive

Agreed with the first post. When something fails, you try again. If it fails for 50 years or longer, STOP! TRY another approach. We all know the real reason behind the archaic drug laws are taxes, racism, and propaganda. Imprisioning people has not worked. Prohibition creates crime where none exists.

Posted by jack | Report as abusive

These are the conditions that lead to revolution. If I remember my history correctly, Cuba in the 40s and 50s was a notoriously corrupt place and as we now know it took little to overthrow the government and replace it with a totalitarian system. If the elected government in Mexico cannot guarantee its citizens a measure of security, then it, too, will go the way of most ineffectual governments. The big question is, how will the USA respond to a failed state on its doorstep? Do we gave enough soldiers and marines on hand to occupy and pacify that country? I rather doubt it. This could get very interesting very, very quickly.

Posted by Bob Foster | Report as abusive

how many of these killers/gansters/criminals are living in US and freely travel across border? close the border now and violence in mexico will stop.

Posted by az guy | Report as abusive

If the federal government would allow states the ability to legalize pot on a state-by-state basis it would take a huge amount of money and power away from these criminals and murderers while making money for state and local governments in a time when our economy is suffering. Too bad most Americans don’t seem to care enough to actually research the topic, and because of it we prop up these cartels like the Mafia was propped up during prohibition. If only those people understood how much money the state could make from this.

“Mankind is more disposed to suffer when evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” – Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence

“Make the most of the Indian Hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!” – George Washington, 1794, in a letter to his gardener

Posted by Jeff | Report as abusive

Dutch,

don’t know where you’re from but I coulda sworn that the article was about Mexicans killing Mexicans. How do you figure this has anything to do with America’s failed ‘war on drugs’.

Posted by don | Report as abusive

I don’t think the US legalizing drugs will help Mexico at all. The gangs aren’t going to quit fighting and disband because one of their markets dried up. They’ll just find a new cause, like selling more locally and doing something different with their territory.

I just like to point out that in another blogs Bernd advocates drugs:
Driven to drink by marijuana laws?
Fresh thinking on the war on drugs?

Now he complains that monthly murder rate up from 66 to 300.
I just wondering what is your outlook over next 5 yrs without these war? I guess 5 yrs ago murder rate was in 40.

For decades Mexico gov was ignored drugs problem. Felipe Calderon was elected on promise to fight drugs. It looks like it is may be too late.

Bern, you never lived in area infested with gangs. There is a difference when 10 cops chase one bad guy and when 100′s corrupted agents chase 1000′s gang members. Second case always will have big collateral damage. But that the only way clean up city.

Posted by Sergey | Report as abusive

I think the debate is whether or not Mexico should legalize drugs, not the US. Mexico’s drug laws, as well as those of most other struggling nations – are a direct result of US failed drug policies. Mexico’s violence is an unfortunate byproduct of US economic hegemony combined with the fact that the US is able to use its economic power to shove uneducated-christian moral precepts veiled in policy, down the throats of less fortunate nations. Mexicans are killing each other over who gets to sell drugs to Americans. If Mexico legalizes drugs it can save money by not enforcing draconian foreign drug policy and use those resources to tax the production and local distribution of narcotics. US imports of drugs will naturally increase, but that’s a US problem – and we do love our drugs :)

Posted by mbb | Report as abusive

Drugs are not the problem. The problem is that drugs are illegal. This drives up the demand and the price and makes it profitable for the drug cartels. The billions spent on the war on drugs instead should go toward building schools and providing healthcare. Legalizing drugs now is the answer. Kids will lose interest in drugs once they realize they are no longer illegal and they are bad for you.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

This is the other side of not securing the borders. If we were serious about border security, a fence would have been constructed with enough security to prevent border crossings, this would force the drug dealers to look at other options and vacate the border towns. This can only be fixed by stronger security on or side of the border, these people are killing to gain access to our country and will only be stopped when the border is sealed.

Posted by Roger P | Report as abusive

Yes I think ALL drugs should be made legal. If you don’t want to smoke it or shoot it, then don’t. It’s a matter of personal choice.
Maybe America should start a war on the tobacco and alcohol companies next.

Posted by Dutch | Report as abusive

Though the article is a factual recount of what goes on, I disagree with the semantics of the title. Associating a political ideal (or anti-ideal) as anarchy to a drug “war” (so called to justify military investments in hardware) throws me back to 1920s Sacco & Vanzetti, where anti-Italian (the wetbacks of that time!) sentiment was let into the Courthouse and used to justify governmental actions against labor/anarchist organizers during a bubble period (pre crash). Any similarity to today’s situation is purely casual!

The article addresses the simptoms, not the cure nor the root cause. Today’s drugs are “needed” by a stressed-out society that has lived in function of an unachievable american dream (term coined by an investment banker in the post crash of 1929 to give some hope and induce people to use debt as a way to achieve it!), just like during bootleging liquor was a “necessity”.

In order to avoid the tangential problems of drugs and their distribution profits on the general population, legalize them and focus on the cure of societal imbalances that lead to drug use.

Posted by ross | Report as abusive

I am in favor of legalizing drugs. But that will have little effect on these criminal enterprises (both civilian and “official.”)

As for “closing the border”, well, I live in Arizona and have worked for years in Mexico in the mining business. Given the level of legal traffic, that is just impossible.

Phoenix is now the kidnapping capital of the U.S.

There was a shootout just recently at Tijuana as three vans full of illegals tried to rush the border under the direction of coyotes. Last year there was a running gun battle along I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix where one gang was trying to steal the illegals in the possession of another gang.

Enormous amounts of money and guns go south every day–the fruits and means of kidnapping, extortion and human slavery.

All tightening up the border has done is make smuggling of all kinds more lucrative.

We happily went to and are still at war in Afghanistan (and foolishly in Iraq) over the deaths of less than 3000 innocent people.

“…14,000 have died…since Calderon came into office…” Some of them were no doubt “maladrones” and bad guys. But many, and many more to come, can only be described as people without opportunity, jobs, decent government and diminishing hope.

Al Quaeda and the Taliban have nothing on this time bomb.

Posted by ErikM | Report as abusive

The war on drugs has gained massive momentum favoring the biggest cartels. The optimal approach to the quell the most powerful cartels is a “top down” execution and containment. This can only be done with top investigators and under cover military agents. Once key players of the most powerful cartels has been cleansed, the malandros and be dealt with using state and local police forces. But don’t kid yourself, this must be a “TOP DOWN” approach to get effective results.

If Mexico cannot solve this problem in the next 12-18 months, it will emerge as another security crisis for the U.S.

Posted by Red Socks | Report as abusive

As long as there is demand for ilegal drugs in the US there will not be peace in Mexico and most of Central America. I can´t believe that the US’s addiction and denial is costing the lives of hundreds of thousands in Latin America. Legalization seems to be the only way out.

Posted by Byron | Report as abusive

And the only ones who lose are the malandros. Legalize pot. It’s the easiest, quickest and most cost effective solution. It should have been done decades ago. It’s evident the drug war has become a business not only for the cartels but for the ones fighting them. Army+Police=Thugs. Legalize marijuana. Grow it in-country, tax it and pay off that trillion dollar deficit! Mexico won’t be able to compete with home grown – they’ll have to find something better to do, like, I don’t know… go to school? Become a Doctor? A teacher?

Posted by Todd | Report as abusive

When Americans stop doing drugs then the drug wars will stop. Must be a horrible life to live, to think that drugs will make it bearable, or that the only way to enjoy it is to get high.

Perhaps some 20-21 days paid vacation after the first year of work will give the population some rest and time for recreation away from quick ways to release some steam.
Working 16 hours a day for years and with little time off makes for a depressed bunch of people and kids who start trying drugs because the (responsible) parents are unable to keep a close watch.

Posted by ikea goddess of victory | Report as abusive

It helps to understand the history of drug laws in America and the reasons why they were implemented.

The tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical companies in the US were the leading proponents of our drug laws. They don’t want competition from home-grown marijuana bcause it would hurt their sales and profits.

The illegal drug dealers have grown so large and profitable that they are able to coerce politicians to maintain our failed drug policies, guaranteeing themselves a highly profitable market.

The American public must educate themselves and realize that building border defenses is another policy doomed to failure. Imprisoning drug users leads to a huge tax burden on taxpayers for prisons. Prison workers are lobbying for tougher drug laws – thereby gaining job security.

Let’s get off this stupid merry-go-round based on drug prohibition. Tax the hell out of it, but make it legal.

Posted by Todd | Report as abusive

Criminals profit from crime. They make the drugs. They sell the drugs.

Who pays for these drugs?- Drug users.
Who finances crime?- Drug users.
Who breaks the law?- Drug users.
Who is to blame for drug crime?- Drug users.

Blaming the law for crime? Now that just takes the issue to a whole new level of stupid…

Posted by F.O.I.Friday | Report as abusive

Legalize marijuana, are you stupid or crazy or both? What would be the long-term social consequences of that for our children. How about stop using drugs and the problem goes away without destroying the lives of millions of people and watching society decay and rot away. What is wrong with people today? Why would someone think this way? – “let us do whatever we want to do no matter what the consequences. We don’t have any values morales and no connection or understanding with right or wrong – nobody can tell me what I should do – I decide and I get to do whatever I want – I really don’t care who it hurts or who it destroys”.
Does this sound right to you ? Use your brains – there just might be a better way to live your life. Try to think about it – it’s not that hard a concept.

legalise all drugs tax marijuana
make rehab free,junkies will either
die from thier disease or be cured (choice ?)
help mexico clean up a mess that is partly our fault.
(not a college of the americas style clean up ).
problems that affect our neighbors can easily spread to
us end violence and protect the innocent
hold mexican police,soldiers etc. acountable under int. law

Posted by phil | Report as abusive

If drugs are legalized here, the criminal gangs will simply move on to other activities. This is not just about drugs, it is about criminals being free to act with little fear of punishment.
Mexico has some problems which they must solve in order for this situation to go away. I believe a death penalty would be an effective deterrent there, much more so than in the US. Prisons are no deterent there for those who can make it to the top of the pile.
Also, when law abiding citizens cannot arm themselves, criminals who do arm themselves can do as they please. I know in my town if some thug tried to to strong arm people, a blind eye would not be turned and the police un-informed. Some old codger in a Korean war cap would put a bullet in the fellow right away!

Posted by blackarrow | Report as abusive

Hi there all. I’m sorry to interrupt your conversation but if you could just backtrack for me a bit. I missed the part about what the goal of the War on Drugs was. I used to think it was about saving lives and reducing crime and making society a more mature and safe place to think and live in. But obviously I am way off track having made that assumption and the only way I can get up to speed on this is to start over from the beginning of the thought process since my founding basis – see above – is totally wrong thus rendering all my subsequent reasoning faulty at best. Hope somebody can help. I know it’s terribly elementary, but perhaps someone has the patience to share their knowings. You can email me at drugsrbad@anycost.com

Posted by Unclue D. Nsanity | Report as abusive

wow, this doesnt ever make our evening news in ireland!

wha the hells going on there? Cannot beleive it!

Posted by SEAN | Report as abusive

Shame really.

The War on Drugs was begun in order to protect the vulnerable from being exploited by the drug trade. But America has yet to figure out one problem.

And that is the scum who purchase illegal drugs, and directly fund human suffering with the money they spend on their greedy little habits.

Way to go, drug users! Thanks for making the planet just that little darker! Don’t blame the law. Don’t blame the crooks. It’s *your* money, *your* demand that causes countless deaths.

And the worst thing? You do it intentionally. You spend your money on illegal drugs, knowing full well what it ends up doing. And that isn’t just bad, it’s evil.

But hell, I ain’t saying anything you don’t already know. If you can buy illegal drugs without a shred of remorse at what you are doing to others, you certainly won’t listen to any lecture. Your morality was smoked away long ago.

Posted by Hmmmm | Report as abusive

These criminal gangs would not exist without the money from drugs. Its that simple. Gangs of this scale cannot exist without massive amounts of money, and the money comes from drugs. Legalizing drugs would solve the problem; it would destroy the gangs and eliminate the undesirable consequences.

NOBODY LIKES DRUGS BUT LIBERTY IS MORE IMPORTANT. IF SOMEONE WANTS TO COMMIT SLOW SUICIDE THEY SHOULD HAVE A RIGHT TO DO SO.

Posted by Chet Weger | Report as abusive

Also, the criminal gangs would not “simply move on to other criminal activities.” There simply aren’t enough other economically feasible criminal activities. And as long as there is a demand for drugs, there will be a supply for drugs be it legal or illegal.

Posted by Chet Weger | Report as abusive

If we legalize marijuana drug dealers will have a harder time making money since drugs are almost free.
Some drug dealers will move on to other businesses like stealing, car jacking and selling guns. These jobs give much less money to the suspect and less power. The stock market is full of drug money – lets stop this before it gets out of control.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

The purpose of the war on drugs is to kill the competition. The CIA controls a large portion of the drugs coming into the US to fund it’s black projects.

Posted by chris | Report as abusive

Why legalise anything? What right has anyone to tell anyone what they can and can’t do to their own minds and bodies apart from the fact that’s in the country in which they live? You’re all fecking crazy as it is so legalising grass wont make much difference will it?

Posted by P.P England | Report as abusive

I can’t recall one incident of “Social Cleansing” in the history of Brazil. Can the author of this article please point to which incident he refers to?

Posted by Jader | Report as abusive

To Bernd, Dutch & Co

When liberals talk about legalizing drugs they usually talk about someone rights to have fun and get high. They also point out unlucky street dealers and addicts who end up in prisons while cartels bosses never caught and enjoy huge markups because of risk.

Bernd even concern that many Mexican street dealers are caught in crossfire between army and cartels enforcers.

As usual you know nothing outside your Ivory towers.

War on drugs guys is all about mobs/low-low middle class/lumpen/underclass. These people live tough life and drugs offer them easy escape from reality. The only problem that drugs also ruin their lives. Whole communities/neighborhoods/villages slip to limbo. It is no longer about couple poor dealers and addicts. It is about abundant kids/broken infrastructure/ruined homes. You have never been in such places. Once you visit them you will learn when you need army when police and when rehab.

Posted by Sergey | Report as abusive

Like stated previously, this is the direct result of failed U.S. policy. We have been ‘fighting’ this “War on Drugs” for over 40 years, and what has been accomplished? Hundreds of thousands of our citizens are arrested every year for substance abuse, We fund billions of dollars to Drug cartels which meet our demand for the substances that we willfully use, Civil and Constitutional rights are being violated which result in a lack of respect for government officials, Billions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted to fuel this ‘war’, and our Prisons are overcrowded with non-violent offenders.

I could go on and on, but what does it take for our government to realize that these policies DO NOT WORK. Albert Einstein defined insanity as repeating the same actions and expecting a different result. Our policies are insane, and are in need of radical reform. We are prosecuting citizens for a crime of possessing a substance that may be harmful to themselves. Where is the liberty that our country was founded on? We mask this as “protecting the children”, but where is the protection for our children? We are leaving these substances in the hands of criminals who care nothing about your children. NEWSFLASH, after over 40 years of fighting, these substances are more readily available than ever to YOUR CHILDREN. The crime from the underground economics and turf wars of prohibition make the streets less safe for YOUR CHILDREN. The answer is to tax and regulate in order to protect your children. Statistics show that alcohol is harder for teens to get than the substances that we are really trying to protect them from. America open your eyes, this is a set of the most important and corrupt policies in our lawbooks and it continues to be swept under the rug. We need reform NOW and if this continues as is, it will only get worse.

Posted by M Smith | Report as abusive

It’s interesting how people here justify legalizing drugs to solve a somewhat immeadiate problem. It is the proverbil pebble in the pond. . . drop a pebble in the pond. The arguement is the pond is only affected by the pebble where the pebble lands! Not so! The inertia sends waves upon contact rippling through the rest of the pond. Legalize drugs and the ripples are generations hooked that ripple through society on their way to their next fix. They will steal, rob, beat, murder and sell their soul to get the next fix whether legalized or NOT. Those of us not needing our next fix pay for it all and I for one am not ready nor willing to give up what I earn and work for to some lazy freaked out fool who gives up his/her ability to think and choose to what ever their putting up their nose, in their mouth or shooting in their veins. Some where along the line many of you have given up on the idea of personal responcibility. Yeah! Consequences for your choice.

About the guns flowing into Mexico……biggest lie outside the tripe coming from the White Wash House. Truth is the vast, and I mean vast majority of firearms being used in Mexico is coming from its own Army arsenals. Those were sold to the army from Cuba, Czech, San Salvador, China and many other off shore points who have open doors and windows to international market in firearms. Guns here are to costly unless they are stolen and then taken across the border. You see their are a great many traitors among the Cartels who have come from the Army and special forces of Mexico and set up their own little empires. Their training came most likely from the US and they have now began training in their own streets and use their own people to practice on. It is now spilling over into our backyard and you people seem to want to blame someone else for our new problems. Here is how it “sits”. The first obligation of any country lies with its citizenry, not the government. We are the first line and the last line of defense. We empower others to do it for us and then wonder why the Hell they want to run our lives too! We need to turn the power of the people against the cartels, the mob and the gangsters and bury them literally. Then our children can go to school and we can go to work without wondering who is behind us or lurking around a corner. Bad boys are going to be bad boys (and girls) until they get spanked or squashed; whatever it takes folks. The same could be said for the people in Washington DC. Lets ship them all to Guantanimo and sort out the good from all the traitors on both sides of the aisle!

Don’t make or accept excuses from those we put in power locally or nationally for why we have problems. They made the laws and they know the problems and anything they can’t deal with is their load that they created. Make them responcible and don’t let them point the finger at the regular guy on the street. Point the middle finger at them and then vote them out and start with a fresh batch. Hopefully neither REpugnican nor Fascists disquised as Socialist Democrats will win. The people should uphold the rule of law which is the Consitution (when read in context with its appropriate meaning) because it endears itself to the people, for the people and by the people; not the government over the people, instead of the people, in lieu of the people! It is OUR responcibility FIRST! How can you do that when hopped up on mind benders?

Posted by James H. | Report as abusive

I don’t really get why people take drugs. Is it some sort of weakness? It doesn’t seem to have any productive value. Has humanity’s short circuiting of evolution created conditions that prevent addictive traits from being weeded out? What if there was a 50% chance that a drug user’s next hit would cause instant and certain death? Would that reduce demand? I wonder if people in Mexico have reduced their intake knowing that it can get them killed?

Posted by Kam | Report as abusive

Blackarrow, what kind of crim would the criminals turn to if we legalized all drugs?

I have lived on the border most of my life, the war on drugs has never been good for the border areas. The cost in lives has always been more than what has been saved. And that is just in America, in Mexico, and other central and south American countries it has been worse.

Think about it, prohibition of alcohol didn’t work, why would prohibition of drugs work. Using money from the taxation of the drugs for education and rehab will save more lives than anything else. You can’t save everyone, but we should at least try to save the ones that we can.

Posted by K B | Report as abusive

Let’s go back to an earlier post – September 25th, 2009 12:17 am GMT – Posted by phil. Get off the Kool Aid you half wit. International Law??? Who did you have in mind, the three stooges… Khadafi, Ahmadinejad and Chavez? You don’t have a brain cell between your ears. Maybe a little lower – like between your cheeks? No… the other ones. Now you’ve got the idea… get your head out of your mule.

@James H

Exactly, they will get their drugs whether legalized or NOT! But addiction is a HEALTH problem, and not a criminal problem! If someone commits a crime while under the influence of drugs, then he should be prosecuted for committing that crime. Why prosecute someone for a health problem though? This is what prohibitionists such as yourself do not understand. You are NOT helping the problem in any way. I can go down to the drug store and buy a pack of ephedrine and get high off my ass, but should I get arrested for buying ephedrine from the store? No! I would get arrested for committing whatever crime while under the influence. I can go buy a can of paint and sniff it until I pass out if I wanted, so should that paint be outlawed? Nonsense. The point is exactly what you stated, if someone wants to do drugs they will do it whether legal or illegal, but the consequences should reflect a person’s actions that would harm society. Why continue to fund these underground markets that fund criminal enterprises if a person will use drugs whether legal or not? Substance abuse should be treated the same way as alcoholism is, so that we stop criminalizing people who inherently are not criminals!

Posted by M Smith | Report as abusive

Jader, re “I can’t recall one incident of “Social Cleansing” in the history of Brazil. Can the author of this article please point to which incident he refers to?”
There is quite extensive literature on social cleansing in Brazil. Perhaps you could start by reading “The Unpast: Elite Violence and Social Control in Brazil, 1954-2000″ by R.S. Rose (a visiting professor at Catholic University of Rio Grade do Sul.
Also worth reading on the subject: The Candelaria Massacre:How Wagner dos Santos Survived the Street Children’s Killing that Shook Brazil. By Julie Rochester.

Posted by Bernd Debusmann | Report as abusive

A few very very basic points need to be made to the pro big government/pro drug war people.

1.) You’re having your brains taxed out to continue this, me personally I don’t enjoy it.

2.) The war on drugs puts drugs in children’s hands, you’re putting your children’s lives in danger by supporting it. No drug dealer checks id’s or birth certificates. I’ve never used, but getting weed or cocaine for me in middle school and high school was as easy as getting a pop from the machine.

3.) You’re supporting terrorists and drug cartels, these groups are even more against legalization than cigarrette companies/paper companies and any other company that would take a profit hit from legalization. So rather than having money go to good hardworking american farmers, it’s going to terrorists because of you.

4.) No matter how much you hate drug users and drugs in general, it will ALWAYS be around. No matter how much money and how many lives you’re willing to dump down a bottomless well.

5.) The Drug War has made zero progress on drug use in America, zero.

Those are the basic points pro-drug war people need to understand. Until they do, this debate will just go round and round. I don’t like shooting up or like it when people do, doesn’t ruin my ability to think rationally on the subject though.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive