Loss of Personnel Fails to Hinder Drug Cartel Operations
Like any large business that deals with millions of dollars, drug cartels are organized so high employee turnover rates don’t interfere with day-to-day operations. Specifically, the arrest or death of a few cartel members will not affect their ability to continually traffic drugs at typical levels. Since black market premiums make the drug business so lucrative, even if one cartel is rendered obsolete by law enforcement, either existing or new organizations will quickly move to consolidate and fill the void to control the defunct cartel’s supply channels.
On a common sense level its not hard to understand the ability of drug cartels to traffic their products in volumes they are accustomed to without being inhibited by the killing or arresting of their members. But since this is common sense we’re dealing with, the Department of Justice has naturally buried its head in the sand to this uncomfortable truth. However, via Mike Riggs over at Reason, the DOJ is finally willing to acknowledge (at least in private) this inconvenient fact after years of implementing a policy of attempting to kill and arrest cartel members to influence the level of drugs coming into the US. In a leaked memo the DOJ concedes that:
The removal of key personnel does not have a discernable impact on drug flows as determined by seizure rates. [Drug trafficking organizations] operations appear to have built in redundancy and personnel that perform specific duties to limit the damage incurred by the removal of any one person. By sheer volume alone, drug operations would require more than one individual to coordinate and control the process. While the continued arrest or death of key DTO leadership may have long-term implications as to the control and viability of a specific DTO, there is no indication it will impact overall drug flows into the United States.
Better late than never! While the best approach to drug policy would be full legalization, as I previously made the case for here and here, hopefully the leak of this memo casting doubt on the preferred method of fighting drug cartels will force a change to the status quo and lead the government to look at the drug war in a completely different light – although I very much doubt it.
For more drug warrior stupidity, see this post by Ken at Popehat.
Image via Associated Press