Obama’s Drug Czar, Gil Kerlikowske, announced a few weeks ago that the federal government would begin to shift its strategy in the War on Drugs, to a focus on prevention, treatment and the public health aspects of domestic drug use and addiction. A lot of people applauded the policy shift as a step in the right direction. It reflects the thinking that the best way to fight drugs isn’t a frontal assault on supply, but instead a campaign to reduce demand. This sort of tactic is important, because it’s less about stopping the drug trade itself and more about trying to root out its causes…

Article here.

It always comes back to money in this war, greed and money. Instead of focusing on the sensationalist shock of the headlines we’d do better to examine the enormous divide between rich and poor, the ridiculously low minimum wage and the lack of infrastructure in many areas that are huge contributors to the strength of gangs and the the desperation that leads people to these things. But these problems are systemic and far harder to talk about.

Article here.

On Monday, just after the conclusion of a wedding ceremony, a group of armed men burst into a Juarez church and ordered everyone down on the floor. Moving quickly, they collected the groom, his brother and their uncle and led them out. When another man tried to intervene, they shot him dead. The three relatives were then thrown into a truck and disappeared. On Wednesday, state police found their bodies in the bed of an abandoned pickup in the eastern sector of the city. They had been tortured for many hours before they were killed. It was a particularly horrifying example of the fact that violence in Juarez can strike anytime, anywhere.

Article here.

Yesterday in Mexico City, national security minister Genero Garcia Luna remarked at the Reuters Latin American Investment Summit that the war against the cartels will in all probability take years before anything is accomplished. Citing other prominent examples of long-lasting wars on organized crime in places like Italy, Colombia and Chicago in the 1920s, Garcia Luna explained that expectations for a quick finish should be tempered against these historical examples that lasted “six years on average.”

Article here.

Around Nogales, where arrests are down 20 percent, Susie Morales—who lives 2 1/2 miles from the line in the national forest west of Interstate 19—has seen no letup in crossings.

As she cooks dinner in her kitchen, she can look out and see mules backpacking drugs on a trail 75 yards from her front door. Another trail runs 50 yards behind her house.

These trails are so close that when Susie spots incursions, she runs into her bathroom with her cell phone and shuts the door. She has to keep her voice down so the crossers can’t hear her calling for help.

“There are more Border Patrol agents around, but the tide hasn’t abated,” says Morales. “It’s amazing. They’re still coming. We need active-duty military here, because we’re just outnumbered.”

She carries a .357 magnum everywhere she goes.

I’m not saying this law isn’t just terrible policy, but all of the people raising their voices about it in the rest of the country need to take a look at what life is like on the border right now. They also need to realize the federal government’s culpability. The states are the laboratories of policy. When their requests for immigration legislation and border security are ignored by the rest of the nation, this is what can happen.

Quote from this Leo Banks story in the Tucson Weekly.

Just a few weeks after the AP declared that the Sinaloa cartel had won the drug war in Juarez, the city saw one of its bloodiest days in recent memory. On Wednesday, 20 murders were recorded in a 24-hour span. The first murders of the day set the tone for the brutality to follow, as gunmen burst into a bar in the early morning and dragged eight people out into a nearby lot, lined them up against the wall, and executed them…

Article here.

Following the Rio Grande southeast out of the Valley of Juarez, past the Big Bend region and across the vast emptiness of the Chihuahuan desert, one eventually comes to the states of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, historic base of the Gulf Cartel and home to the newest outbreak of everyday violence in the Mexican drug war…

Article here.

Quote of the Week?

April 21, 2010

“It certainly is an odd thing to see a ‘Kevin Costner’ and a ‘centrifugal oil separator’ together in a place like the Gulf of Mexico,” said actor Stephen Baldwin.

LA Times.

April 15, 2010

Despite these contraindications, the cartels fighting the New Federation believe the government favors the group, and there have long been rumors that Calderon was somehow tied to El Chapo. The Juarez cartel may have recently taken some desperate steps to counter what it perceives to be a dire threat of government and New Federation cooperation. A local Juarez newspaper, El Diario, recently published an article discussing a Los Aztecas member who had been detained and interrogated by the Mexican military and federal police in connection with the murders of three U.S. Consulate employees in Juarez in March. During the interrogation, according to El Diario, the Los Aztecas member divulged that a decision was made by leaders in the Barrio Azteca gang and Juarez cartel to engage U.S. citizens in the Juarez area in an effort to force the U.S. government to intervene in Mexico and therefore act as a “neutral referee,” thereby helping to counter the Mexican government’s favoritism toward the New Federation.

Quite a report from Stratfor.

This is where the government has to deal with the industry realistically. Felipe Calderon and his entire administration know that the drug trade isn’t going away. U.S. officials know it too. As long as there is a market for drugs in the U.S., there will be an industry to support the demand in Mexico. And when that industry funnels tens of billions of dollars into the Mexican economy every year, through investments in business, the greasing of political palms and good old-fashioned trickle-down economics, it’s hardly in Mexico’s best interest to try to stamp it out.

Article here.