Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Would legalizing marijuana rid WA of drug trafficking organizations?

As our state continues debating the legal status of marijuana, one of the issues for consideration is how to eliminate the drug trafficking organizations that bring marijuana into our state.  Will changing the legal status of marijuana get rid of illegal drug organizations in Washington?

A recent edition of the New York Times Magazine features an article about drug trafficking.  The article mostly focuses on a Mexican drug cartel that "is responsible for as much as half of the illegal narcotics imported into the United States from Mexico each year."  Most of the article is about their cocaine trade but includes this about marijuana:

"Moving cocaine is a capital-intensive business, but the cartel subsidizes these investments with a ready source of easy income: marijuana. Cannabis is often described as the “cash crop” of Mexican cartels because it grows abundantly in the Sierras and requires no processing. But it’s bulkier than cocaine, and smellier, which makes it difficult to conceal."

These large organizations don't only deal with cocaine and marijuana:

"Heroin is easier to smuggle but difficult to produce, and as detailed in court documents, Chapo (the head of the cartel) is particularly proud of his organization’s work with the drug. He personally negotiates shipments to the United States and stands by its quality, which is normally 94 percent pure. “The value-to-weight ratio of heroin is better than any other drug,” says Alejandro Hope, who until recently was a senior officer at Cisen, Mexico’s equivalent to the C.I.A. 

But the future of the business may be methamphetamine. During the 1990s, when the market for meth exploded in the United States, new regulations made it more difficult to manufacture large quantities of the drug in this country. This presented an opportunity that the Sinaloa (cartel) quickly exploited. According to Anabel Hernández, author of “Los Señores del Narco,” a book about the cartel, it was one of Chapo’s deputies, a trafficker named Ignacio (Nacho) Coronel, who first spotted the massive potential of methamphetamine. “Nacho was like Steve Jobs,” Hernández told me. “He saw the future.” 

Here was a drug that was ragingly addictive and could be produced cheaply and smuggled with relative ease. When they first started manufacturing meth, the Sinaloa would provide free samples to their existing wholesale clients in the Midwest. “They’d send five hundred pounds of marijuana, and secreted in that would be two kilos of meth,” Jack Riley, the D.E.A.’s special agent in charge of the Chicago office, told me. “They’d give it away for free. They wanted the market.” 

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