Hit Drug Trafficking Where it Hurts

YeGon_millionsThe way to win the War on Drugs is to staunch the cash flow south.

by Joseph J. Kolb.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations are driven by one philosophy: unadulterated greed. The vast underground market of American drug consumers has not abated, and where there is money to be made, trafficking networks will continue to cross borders. The War on Drugs has reached an existential crisis; arrest after arrest on both sides of the border has not stopped the flow of drugs. In the wake of the recent abductions in Mexico, it is clear something must be done to put a halt to the criminal culture that pervades the border region. If the war cannot be won, it may soon be abandoned in favor of a different approach. But American agencies have one last strategy to halt this illegal industry: cut off the cash flow.

The amount of cash generated from American drug sales is staggering. Revenue streams reach Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (MDTOs) from street sales in the U.S. via both archaic and more elaborate methods: from carrying bulk cash over the border in sports bags or hidden in vehicles to money laundering and monetary debit cards designed to obfuscate law enforcement efforts. The United States of America-Mexico Bi-National Criminal Proceed Study from 2010 estimates that the proceeds entering Mexico from U.S. drug sales range from $19 to $29 billion annually. And while high-profile leaders such as Los Zeta Miguel Angel Trevino Morales in June 2013, Sinaloa leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in February 2014, and Juarez MDTO leader Vicente Carrillo Fuentes in October 2014 have been apprehended, there is little indication this will impact trafficking operations in these organizations.

In The Fire Next Door: Mexico’s Drug Violence and the Danger to America, Ted Galen Carpenter assessed the fallout of the arrests and killings of previous MDTO leaders: “All of those highly touted victories proved ephemeral, and both the flow of drugs and the accompanying power struggles have continued unabated.”

By 2010 officials in both the U.S. and Mexico realized that the path to victory lies in …

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