Cooperative U.S. - Mexican Antinarcotics Program

Over the past 30 years the United States has failed to adequately address the issue of illegal narcotics use.

Over the past 30 years the United States has failed to adequately address the issue of illegal narcotics use.  The country currently spends enormous sums on enforcement of drug laws, and interdiction and eradication of narcotics—as well as imprisonment of drug offenders, more so than any other nation. A growing body of evidence suggests that treatment and education is a more efficient way to decrease demand in the mature U.S. narcotics market. It may be desirable as well to legalize the consumption of some drugs. Mexico and several other Latin American nations have recently decriminalized their consumption.

The impact of this issue spreads far beyond our own borders. In Mexico, for example, more than 4,457 drug-related deaths have occurred this year—and more than 11,000 in the last two and one-half years. The violence results from competition among Mexican cartels for control of drug sales to the lucrative U.S. market. Because narcotics are illicit, they attract high prices that reap $15-$25 billion in annual profits for drug-trade leaders. This money is used to arm operatives with weapons trafficked from the United States and to bribe Mexican officials, police, and military charged with antinarcotic law enforcement. The Calderón administration has intensified efforts to restore domestic security and dismantle cartels, particularly by using military personnel. However, policies implemented only in Mexico cannot be successful unless they work in tandem with a U.S. antinarcotic policy that does more to limit demand and reduce the earnings of cartels.