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.


“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


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

For the posters naive enough to think legalizing drugs in the US will lead to the cartels disbanding and becoming productive members of society, here’s a quick list of other profitable ventures the gangs could switch to:
1. Human trafficking
2. Kidnapping / Ransoms
3. Theft (not profitable in terms of cash, but it skips the middle man in using crime to get goods)

It’s also important to remember that most of these gang members aren’t making big bucks off of selling drugs – they’re poor. Drugs are profitable for a very small percertage of the people involved. They get into it for survival, hoping to eventually earn the prestige and secuity that they wouldn’t have as an individual in a gang-controlled area. Taking away the meager money they get by legalizing drugs would only make their lives worse, which historically leads to more crime. Not less.


No one is saying that the cartel members will become productive members of society, but it is a simple issue of supply and demand. If 70 percent of an organizations profit is no longer profitable, it definitely would cripple an organization. And speaking of historically, we learned in the 1930′s that ending alcohol prohibition stopped the mafia that ran the bootlegging industry. This is the exact same concept. The cartels are operating out of over 280 U.S. cities supplying drugs, and if their supply becomes worthless they will no longer have a reason to come to the U.S. Also if you think the money that they are making or the taxpayer dollars that we are spending is meager, you need to do a little more research.

Posted by M Smith | Report as abusive

Congress doesn’t want to legalize pot because it will cut into their profits.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Mr Ham. Your arguments rebutted.

1) You are saying you don’t like being taxed. Essentially that is a self centered argument. That is not an insult, just a fact.

2) You argue that legalising drugs will protect children. If drugs are legalised, will children be able to buy drugs? If not, where do you think they will go?

3) You argue that the war against drugs is supporting crime. The truth is that drug users are supporting crime. Their money is knowingly given to drug dealers, and the drug users know what this causes. You are attempting to remove drug users from responsibility.

4) People also murder and steal. Are you saying we should stop trying to prevent these things as well?

5) Each drug user and drug dealer locked away, is a person who stops contributing to human suffering. Except for their own, I suppose.

As your arguments are rebutted, you’d better come up with some new ones.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

The problems in Cuidad Juarez are symptomatic of societal problems that originate from certain views of life that are endemic to Latin American countries in general and Mexico in particular. IMHO, it relates to the acceptance by society of things like “social cleansing”, and other paradigms and memes that are uniquely Latin American. Further, it relates to this undying quest for money above all things else, that is manifest by the sale of drugs.

Why is it that other countries with a relatively high percentage of drug users DON’T have this problem with violence on this scale? America doesn’t have drug cartels contesting with the State. Nor does Canada, nor England, nor Holland. ‘Tis true that America shares the blame here, due to it’s insatiable consumption for drugs of different types. But as was so obviously shown with the “Prohibition” experiment, drug “cartels” develop when popular intoxicants are made illegal. Hey, there’s money to be made, “Viva el Capitalismo!”…

Anon, the war on drugs supports a WHOLE industry in the United States, that not only includes drug dealers, but also law enforcement, the courts, and private enterprises that run prisons, to name just a few of the participants. Your arguments, when interpolated to the local level to include the purchase of a small quantity of locally grown cannabis, that such purchase somehow is supporting crime or drug cartels is sheer NONSENSE. Further in this State, the purchase of medicinal cannabis is legal. So where are drug users, of cannabis at least, supporting “crime and drug cartels”? These kinds of generalizations demonizing personal intoxicant use just misinform, rather than educate.


You and I just have a different view of government. You have a lot of faith in the US gov’t (drug war, our warmongering/nationbuilding) whereas I have zero faith in the US gov’t. I look at 40 years of a failed drug war that’s done nothing but put even more people on drugs and make society even more dangerous than before. I look at 40 years of failure and predict the next 40 years of the exact same policy to fail, whereas you have faith that doing the exact same thing might work after so many repeated efforts.

You think voting Republican will fix all government’s problems, I don’t think voting any which way wil fix anything, it’s beyond repair.

Your points refuted

1.) I was saying it from more of a group perspective, I don’t like having a huge chunk of my check going to pay for this, I would think other people would also rather have a little more disposable income.

2.) I want drugs handled the same way cigarrettes and alcohol are handled. Age and quantity limits.

3.) The War on Drugs creates a black market, rather than just having a free open market with oversight, thus creating the drug cartels and terror cells.

4.) Murder and stealing aren’t victimless crimes, the only reason there’s victims when people use drugs they don’t grow themselves is solely because of the enormous black market the Drug War and it’s supporters have created.

5.) And drug users will always be suffering, just like anyone with a medical condition that goes untreated does. People are so morally righteous and judgemental in this country that we view doing drugs as deserving punishment rather than requiring help. It’s disgusting.

I don’t know what has to happen for people to stop having faith in government, how many areas does it have to fail?

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive


You refuted nothing. The price of the war on drugs is too high for the complete lack of results it has exhibited and we should quit spending that money.

As was shown during prohibition, and discovered by Richard Nixon. The making of substances illegal is criminogenic. The making of drugs illegal has led to the exact same type of violence and organized crime as were born during prohibition.

Open your eyes and learn from history. If you do not understand the Nixon reference it will go to show just how uninformed you are on the subject.

Posted by vwhizbang | Report as abusive

Dear Mexico,
Just legalize drugs, if you desire an end to this senseless violence.The U.S. did this with alcohol during the prohibition. I say let U.S. worry about drug consumption.
Does U.S. worry about gun crossing into Mexico and causing all those deaths? Hell our constitution gives us the right to own one ;).

Posted by smartguy | Report as abusive

It’s nice that they’re using our weapons and all, but…

Here in America, we like our crime white-collared and our theatre of war for profit being situated in far-off places where they don’t speak too much English.

Somebody might wanna send them pesky economic serfs Down South the message, plus Agent Orange, Willy Pete, Ollie North with more guns & ammo for crack while we’re at it. And a massive bailout.

Oh, and more “economic advisors”. That’ll teach them a crash course in casino capitalism, if nothing else will. And embed more greenhorn checkbook journos going, “Yessir, sources confirm that we’re finding MMD – Marijuana of Mass Destruction!”

After all, the War On Drugs is Too Big To Fail.

Posted by The Bell | Report as abusive

First, Mr. Debusmann, I just wish to tell you how much I appreciate your commentary and to thank Reuters for keeping you on the payroll.

Hey whizbang, Mexico has already decriminalized personal possession of all drugs. It’s not Mexico which must legalize drugs to put Mexican based organized criminals out of business, it is the USA which must do so. The organized criminals here are not fighting over Mexican market share.

The great majorities of murders in Mexico are related to various organized criminal gangs fighting over a share of the USA drug market. Just as during prohibition organized criminal gangs eliminated their competitors with extreme prejudice.

All prohibition does is to raise the price of a particular product to a level which enables a black market. That is, the risks of supplying market are out weighed by the vast amounts of money to be made.

There is an immutable economic law. Where there is a market, it will be fulfilled, legally or otherwise. So that drugs which are now illegal will continue to flow into the USA, regardless.

To continue the rant.

Why is it that it is perfectly legal to be whacked out on Valium, Prozac and any number of other psychotropic drugs, for which one must pay a doctor, pharmacy, and pharmaceutical manufacturer; and illegal to grow pot or opium in the back yard?

Only one reason comes to mind, that is to protect the profits of the doctors, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical manufacturers. But, then again, hasn’t the primary purpose of the USA government been for a very long time (since the founding of the nation, really)- to protect private profit at the expense of the public good?

((Mr Ham. Your arguments rebutted.
1) You are saying you don’t like being taxed. Essentially that is a self centered argument. That is not an insult, just a fact.))

Froggy writes: B.S. Nobody likes being overtaxes to pay for a drug war that only benefits big Pharma

((2) You argue that legalising drugs will protect children. If drugs are legalised, will children be able to buy drugs? If not, where do you think they will go?))

froggy writes:
What a weak rebuttal. Anyone can see that removing drug dealers who are usually armed, makes a safer world for everyone… not just children.

((3) You argue that the war against drugs is supporting crime. The truth is that drug users are supporting crime. Their money is knowingly given to drug dealers, and the drug users know what this causes. You are attempting to remove drug users from responsibility.))

Froggy writes:
If it weren’t against the law, it wouldn’t be a crime.
Hence, the war against drugs not only supports crime, but is the source of crime. Legalize it and there would be no drug dealers. Period.

((4) People also murder and steal. Are you saying we should stop trying to prevent these things as well?))

Froggy writes:
Gee. Ya think?

((5) Each drug user and drug dealer locked away, is a person who stops contributing to human suffering. Except for their own, I suppose.))

Froggy writes:
Drug user contributes to human suffering? lol.
Legalize it and no drug dealers to have to lock up, thus
saving taxpayers millions, while making millions in taxes in the process.

((As your arguments are rebutted, you’d better come up with some new ones.))

Froggy writes…
you haven’t rebutted anything to any ones satisfaction but your own.

Once again a Reuters Op-Ed writer offers an opinion, with no proposed solution…..
My opinion is that something is bad. The solution is …….

And Reuters pays this guy.

Posted by Edgy | Report as abusive

Gee, Froggie.

It seems you either didn’t properly read, or properly understand my rebuttal. Thats what I get for using short arguments, I suppose.

Example 1:
The argument on tax is self centered. Someone had to say it. It has nothing to do with crime itself.

Example 2:
Sorry for being complicated. I will set it out step by step.

-If drugs are legalised, this will not mean children can buy drugs legally. Right?
-Which means that underage people will still need to go to drug dealers to get their drugs. Right?
-Meaning there will still be a need for violent drug dealers, and hence, for drugs grown in conditions which cause human suffering. Understand?

Example 3:
You essentially say that laws are responsible for crime. And not actually the criminals who commit the crime. Does that excuse seem a bit *odd* to you?

Example 4:
Hey. You are the one who is arguing that because people break the law, their conduct shouldn’t be against the law. All I was doing was taking your silly argument to the next level of absurdity.

Example 5:
A drug user knowingly spends money which they know will cause suffering to innocent people. They are the one who make that choice. They are the ones who have a direct part in causing suffering.

And yet, you think that is LOL! Nice sense of humour you have!

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

I think that pot, at least, should be legalized, in that you should be able to grow your little pot plant at home. Usage is apparently pretty widespread, so either Obama has to print a trillion dollars to put Army tanks at 20-ft. intervals along the US/Mexico border to stop it coming across, or we say that enough people smoke dope in the United States that it’s pointless to try and stop it that way.

Insofar as other drugs are concerned, well, they used to use some of them as medicines, and the pharmaceutical companies can make analogues without harmful side affects pretty cheaply, to the point where the government can vend them out to people that are hooked on other things, and steal more business away from the drug dealers. I am in favor of improving border security still more, it’s too bad we’re going to end up being the United States of East Germany, but if the kids can’t play nice together, then it’s back to having beat cops on every corner and hotlines and so forth, and so on. Hillary Clinton remarked that a good portion of Mexico’s problems originate in the United States, which is another great reason for improving the border, to keep American dirtbags out of their country, so they can focus on their own. I read also that the US is trying to help Mexico when/where possible, but unless the citizens themselves decide they’ve had about enough of people shooting up the place, and figure out what to do about it, and decide to do it, there’s not really that much that our country can do for theirs. I’ve met some really nice folks from Mexico, but they’ve got some pretty serious problems that I just don’t know how they’re going to solve. Running away to the United States doesn’t fix the situation either…

Posted by Bert | Report as abusive

The solution in America is simple. Use the old Roman law form of ‘declaring a class of people as outlaws’. This of course would be drug users and ‘suspected drug users’. All of them would be executable by anyone as they all would be under an automatic standing death penalty. See a drug user or someone that you in good faith believe to be a drug user…not just because you want his property at the estate auction…then you execute him and present his driver’s licence at the local social control kommissariat to the secret police commander in charge and collect your bounty. Of course you better watch your back on the way home cuz’ your ‘suspect’s rellies may be huntin ‘YOU’ as a suspected ‘druggo’ too!

Posted by chester drawers | Report as abusive

Legalize all drugs for adults with the government selling them just above the cost of production. Use fingerprint readers to verify the identity of the registered users. Automated computer programs would be used to keep tract of the amounts obtained by addicts to reduce diversion to others, since one person can only use so much drugs. Anyone exceeding the limit would be first warned of a drug cut off, then questioned and offered treatment. Make any sale to others punishable by 10 years in prison without parole for the first offense and 15 years for the second offense. Cartels out of business, problem solved.

Posted by Bill Simpson | Report as abusive

Did Prohibition in the U.S. actually decrease alcohol consumption? Did it decrease alcohol-related crime, domestic violence, negative health impacts, birth defects? Obviously it increased crime and government spending to fight crime. Is there something we can learn from the past?

Posted by sea scapes | Report as abusive

P.S. And how can the U.S. – land of the moral high ground (and the lowest common denominator) – justify keeping tobacco legal while supporting this horror-show in Mexico?

Posted by sea scapes | Report as abusive

What will follow will be a flood of illegal immigrants seeking to escape the bloodshed and economic upheaval. We in the US are going to pay the price for these criminal gangs who now effectively run Mexico. We need to seal off the Mexican border and put thousands of troops along it and build a big Berlin style wall. Unless we do so, Obama free healthcare, free social security, free welfare payments, and free food will help do the job the socialists want to do: destroy America. We will just end up as another banana republic. South Central LA is the future of the US.

Posted by Bob Snakely | Report as abusive

Did Prohibition in the U.S. actually decrease alcohol consumption?

We can assume that not everyone who wanted to drink alcohol during prohibition would be willing to break the law in order to do so.

And those who were convicted and imprisoned, would be unlikely to access alcohol in their jail cell. Fermented orange juice not withstanding.

So yes, it would be safe to conclude that prohibition did actually decrease alcohol consumption. The only debatable point is by how much.

Posted by Mecha-Stalin | Report as abusive

>You essentially say that laws are responsible for crime. And not actually the criminals who commit the crime. Does that excuse seem a bit *odd* to you?

Yes, bad laws CAN be responsible for crime, but not people who are “committing” outlawed things.

Example: in Soviet Union it was a crime to go and work in the United States. But were the people doing this actually criminals?

Posted by Placid | Report as abusive

“So yes, it would be safe to conclude that prohibition did actually decrease alcohol consumption. The only debatable point is by how much.”

… and at what cost, both to the poor alcohol-drinkers who were thrown into a crowded space full of real, possibly dangerous criminals, and the public who has to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to house, feed and clothe the drinkers. oh and dont forget about the related costs to the families and employers of the drinkers who have lost a provider and a trained employee?

Posted by field | Report as abusive

“Posted by sea scapes
P.S. And how can the U.S. – land of the moral high ground (and the lowest common denominator) – justify keeping tobacco legal while supporting this horror-show in Mexico?

without prohibition, the drug trade would be regulated and made lawful, so that problems and debts would be settled using due course of law rather than bullets in heads. if tobacco were made illegal, we would just have one more illegal drug trade for the dealers to make money with, and to fight over. is that what you want?

i am not a tobacco smoker, in fact i hate the smell and its effects, but it makes no sense for person A to tell person B that they aren’t allowed to do something just because person A thinks it’s a bad idea.

Posted by field | Report as abusive

Dear Chris Brown –

You write: But, then again, hasn’t the primary purpose of the USA government been for a very long time (since the founding of the nation, really)- to protect private profit at the expense of the public good?

Yes, indeed, the very foundation of the country is to protect private property, but this IS the public good. No other system of government has prospered or been good for the public.

You’d do fine under your scheme of government — until they came for YOUR private property for the “public good.”

Posted by Chuck King | Report as abusive

“Example: in Soviet Union it was a crime to go and work in the United States. But were the people doing this actually criminals?”

Yes. The definition of a criminal is someone who commits a crime. And the definition of a crime is an action that breaks the law.

You essentially claim that people who break the law are not really responsible for breaking the law. And that’s just silly.

Posted by Mecha-Stalin | Report as abusive

“Criminal Anarchy” is an oxymoron. Anarchy is the absence of an archon, and thus the structure of arbitrary “laws,” by which one is defined as a “criminal.” The problem is that a party is still trying to force reality and exert a monopoly of force.

Posted by mustalammas | Report as abusive

Congratulations on your article. Cities in Irak and Afghanistan are Disneyland compared to the violence in Ciudad Juarez. The worst part is that there is no real head of government in this city. The mexican Mayor of Juarez lives in El Paso, Texas.
Your right, Juarez is the most violent city in the world. One third of all homicides commited in the whole country (Mexico) are executed in Ciudad Juarez. There is no police intelligence here, no government action to take the money out of this cartels. If police focus on reacting rather than preventing, this city will be lost to crime. I will tell you a metaphore to explain myself: If you take Bill Gates out of Microsoft, nothing happens, Microsoft continues with another group of guys as it is now running. If you take the money out of Microsoft, then the business is gone.
In Mexico, police have been reacting to chase criminals rather than focusing on cutting on the money flow.
The Mayor of San Pedro Garza Garcia, Nuevo Leon in Mexico is doing exactly that with the help of corporate owners who live there at about USD $50 million dollars of their pocket change. They have recluted a special force SWAT team that is getting rid of all the mafia in that city.

Best regards,

Oscar Cos Nesbitt.
Ciudad Juarez, Chihuaha.

Posted by Oscar Cos | Report as abusive

President Bush warned us and Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Ted Kennedy and Obama fought him every step of the way. But of course the state run fringe media, – just blame Booosh.

Posted by Fred | Report as abusive

To Michael Ham, Bernd Debusmann,

Bernd is right. It is about social cleansing. But it is not about social cleansing in Mexico. You are advocating social cleansing in US.

Michael Ham->
Handle drugs the same way cigarettes and alcohol are handled. Age and quantity limits.

It is all about economy. Hiking taxes and limitations will reduce consumption and rise black market. My guess black market will rise well before consumption sinks. It is already doing great despite war on drugs and ‘taxed and limited’ prescription drugs.

The reason why I use Brand’s wards about ‘social cleansing’, because you both don’t see the real social group suffers from drugs and you miss the real scale of problem. You both seams to talk about urban drugs. Middle class bachelors smoke pot and does some coke. Nobody cares about these few guys.

The real problem is urban underclass and ‘rust belt’ people. You call them mod/lumpen/low class/ low middle class. Ney York Times talks about them only during elections. They are already heavy on pain killers/drugs. They already drink moonshine and smoke counterfeit tobacco. They hate gov more than you do. But it is not the reason to left them go into anesthesia for life.

You are right that gov slowly loosing this war. Because, it is not just about drugs. It is about giving hope to this the most inflexible part of population. Hope comes with jobs (that all went to China).

Chris Brown ->
“killings in Mexico are related to various organized criminal gangs fighting over a share of the USA drug market”

Wrong! They always fought over share of US market. Latest all out war began with new Mexico president Felipe Calderón declared war on drugs.

Posted by Sergey | Report as abusive

Fred if you lived here you would know all this violence started very slowly 8 years ago. The chicken hawks from the Bush Administration and your Bush are the ones to blame not the ones left to clean up the mess.
Amor por Juarez


That sounded like a line right out of a Sean Hannity rant.

So it’s your stance that Bush warned us of more violence coming to the cities closest to the US border? That’s weird to me, since he pulled every single national guard from the border.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive


I never put any limits on who the drug war affects, it affects everyone. Everything that’s sold on the market is taxed through sales taxes, etc.

The black market for tobacco isn’t a big deal or a large market, and it’s something that could be easily fixed with a tax cut. The moonshine market isn’t that big of a deal either, there will always be a small black market for anything no matter what you do.

I’m not saying tax the world out of marijuana, tax it a small amount more than sales tax and the free market will drown out 95-99% of the black market whether it be people buying marijuana/marijuana products, plants or seeds.

I don’t like how it affects all classes of people, but it hurts poor people and blacks/hispanics the most. Just look at our prison population. As far as rich people go I don’t like how all the righteous people freaked out when they saw Michael Phelps with a bong, I’m sure that cost him some money too. It takes a very senile person to think it’s a big deal to see a young person with marijuana and react by flipping out, since every kid has done it pretty much.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

We all know what the solution is: legalize the drugs. With the drugs legal, the profit drops out of the gangs and they can no longer afford to maintain their actions. The corrupt cops, as in Chicago at the end of prohibition, will kill the gangs off to protect themselves from blackmail, etc. Legalizing drugs would solve most of the world’s crime problems, wipe out the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Colombian, Mexican, etc. drug gangs, and so on. The same number of drug addicts will remain. It never really changes anyway, as ending prohibition proved. It’s a win for everyone. the people supporting keeping drugs illegal are all profiting from that area. Politicians, prisons, cops, etc. all make money off the drug problem. Stop the problem and solve the problems. Let’s get smart on crime.

Posted by robert1234 | Report as abusive

It’s why we need a fence.

Posted by SirTennyson | Report as abusive

Hey Michael,
It is not about how to tax drugs.
It is not about how to drive drugs from black market to open market. It is about how to STOP drugs.
Blacks are devastated by drugs. 2/3 of blacks in jails are on drug charges. ‘Rust belt’ hooking on drugs essentially the same story in making. You dream about control by taxation would not work for:
1. There is huge gap between cost and price. Your taxation would not work. Your tax is essentially my black profit. Temptation is way too big.

2. Big % of drug uses quickly slip outside of society. They loose any intensive to pay extra for ‘legal drugs’.

3. Introduction of ‘legal drugs’ makes legal starting point for n.2.


You claimed:
“The black market for tobacco isn’t a big deal or a large market”
Last month NYPD single case netted $21,000,000. Is it small?
That exactly what comes with prohibiting taxation. It actually fuels black market instead of killing it.

Again you talk like urban folk who saw some of recreational drugs and police harassing kids over pot. Unfortunately your country is much more bigger and socially diversed. It is about no-go areas in LAX, NYC and New Ark etc where even ‘good’ kids forced do drugs or he/she well be REALLY harassed by gangs.
It is about ‘ghost towns’ in CA and ‘Rust belt’.
I don’t see how your taxation will change drug dealing in these areas.
I see nice urban kids will pay extra $$ for ‘legal drugs’ to avoid trouble. What about real problem areas.

I am immigrant and looks like I saw more places in US than you did :).

Posted by Sergey | Report as abusive


If you’re looking to stop drugs than you might as well give up completely. Unless you’re willing to give the government round the clock power to go into every house in America whenever they want and the power to seize anything they want than it’s impossible. I saw a guy growing a marijuana plant in his closet where no sun ever hit it, you going to search every closet in America? You going to search every person’s pocket?

I said in my last post i wanted a small tax, a small tax would not put a huge cost between production and price, captial markets fix that. There will always be incentive to buy legal, price, convenience, legality etc.

No I don’t consider 21 million a lot, however like i said before that could be easily fixed with a cigarette tax reduction. The black market for moonshine would mostly be killed too if people weren’t so avid about shoving Christianity down everyone’s throat and making alcohol illegal to sell in many places on sundays.

You’re 100% wrong on my background, the best thing to do is ask rather than guess. I grew up in the Northern Lights section of Columbus Ohio, not exactly the Bronx but certainly an urban area. I saw every day how much the people hated the police and government, I did (and do) also.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

Hello Michael,
I realize that drugs here to stay. Police, army and any other gov force can achieve only temporary results like arrest all dealers. Law enforcement is expensive and tend to become corrupted over time. On long run gangs will always a step ahead from law enforcement.

The long term results require social engineering. That means providing jobs, safe affordable housing, and education. It also implies a lot of gov intervention even in more inefficient way – social services. Look at New Ark NJ. Fed/State flooded city with money with no effect.

Now we come to utopia.
Strong Assumption: Most people in drug infected areas like to break free but trap in poverty cycle.

In some countries desperate communities do self policing against gangs. In US it may sound like private community where members can expel others for drugs while gov provide them with social net like: protect from gangs retaliation, jobs/schooling.

Yep. Sound naive.

Drugs and alcohol are social. They help individual to bridge the gap between where he/she sees itself in dreams and ugly reality. The only way to address the issue is make life easy for average person. Neither legal drugs and taxation nor brutal police force address the real issue behind drugs.

Posted by Sergey | Report as abusive

Why not invade Mexico and make it a state?

Posted by Mufaso | Report as abusive

First I would like to point out drugs are not political so it’s not a certain party. Secondly there is no such thing as a little tax that lasts long.
Back off the little guys that are draining the system and concentrate on the big ones both out in the mountains and here in the capitals (everywhere).
Don’t empty your Thompson on that 29 Ford racing away then proudly pose for the pictures. Let it make it’s delivery, and follow it back to the still.

Posted by Phubaiguy | Report as abusive

…very funny Mufaso, please include sub-equatorial Africa too, I mean it ! Then we can fight Nigeria together !



Posted by ANON | Report as abusive

legalizing drugs removes one of many serious problems and opens markets in counseling, rehabilitation,and even education in responsible use of those drugs that have had a sacred place in various human cultures across the world.

Will there still be crime? Of course! But it is human nature to desire an altered state of consciousness. That’s why people smoke and drink, etc.. And lets not forget that it is actually prescription drug abuse, and not street drugs which represent the greatest harm because they are abused the most.

People who fall into addiction do so because of a lack of understanding and also because of feelings of hopelessness and desperation. These things are not crimes. They are the result of how we live and deal with each other.

Bringing the drug trade into the open and educating people to “use responsibly”, just like we educate people to “drink responsibly”, will go a long way towards solving many of the problems that drug abuse brings.

People don’t like it when government tells them what they can and cannot take into their own bodies.

Posted by Benny_Acosta | Report as abusive