Skip

Mexican Drug Cartel Animated Infographic
January 17, 2013 6:28 PM   Subscribe

A short animated infographic that pretty clearly explains the extent of the illegal drug and weapon problem shared by Mexico and the United States.
posted by HuronBob (56 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I favor a demand-side approach.

In April 2011, former Mexican President Vicente Fox sat before an audience at the University of Colorado at Boulder and in his baritone voice and frank tone urged Americans to legalize marijuana. His thrust: it could help enervate Mexico’s violent drug cartels. “The drug consumer in the U.S. yields billions of dollars, money that goes back to Mexico to bribe police and money that buys guns,” Fox said. “So when you question yourselves about what is going on in Mexico, it depends very much on what happens in this nation.”
posted by Brian B. at 6:51 PM on January 17, 2013


Show me where you can buy rapid-fire grenade launchers and fully automatic AK-47 and M-60 machine guns in the United States first, then we can talk about how the cartels use American guns.

When I was stopped at unofficial checkpoints by shady characters on Mexico's highways after dark, it was not by men with Bushmasters and mini-rugers. It was by uniformed men with industrial powered weapons of death.

This is an extraordinary claim, and it requires extraordinary proof. The cartels are drowning in an amount of cash that dwarfs the legal GDP of Mexico, and they have access to any of the international arms dealers, and two entirely undefended, open coastlines that are already used by submarines and ships to transport shipments of drugs and cash to other countries.

Why would you buy a single high-end, semi-automatic hunting rifle that is high maintenance, requires some training to use, breaks down under heavy use, and requires specialized ammo ....when you can buy a crate of 20 indestructible automatic weapons with 10,000 rounds for the same price?

Sure, the weapons from the ATF sting turned up in Mexico in various low grade crimes. What did they expect to happen when you give known criminals firearms? But they were never associated with the cartels, because it simply makes no sense.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 7:22 PM on January 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's funny how the conservatives can champion the free market, and then in the next breath, declare war on it.

That's what the War on Drugs really amounts to. We are fighting the market. We are fighting ourselves. And we can never win a fight against ourselves; we can only lose.
posted by Malor at 7:23 PM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Not surprisingly, the comments on this site were mainly from indignant gun owners. The salient feature of this dynamic is that the US is the primary market for the Mexican drug trade, and a large contributor of the weapons used by the cartels.

Our laws, and habits, are such that we fund both the Mexican government and the cartels. This is insane. Legalizing marijuana seems like a helpful way to knock the bottom out of the weed trade. I'm not sure it would address the insanity that seems to be our national character.

Retrenching the cocaine and heroine market would seem to be a logical response by the cartels, and we are their favorite customers, so we still have to look to ourselves. One of our problems is that we claim to be waging a war on drugs, when what we are doing is supporting an expensive and ineffective police action.

I guess nobody knows the difference between war and law enforcement. We cannot wage a war in Mexico. Maybe the Mexicans can do this, but I would hate to see it come to that.
posted by mule98J at 7:24 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Malor, I'm sure there are millions of small arms, handguns, pump-action shotguns in Mexico sourced from US suppliers. A gun is a gun, and has a single purpose.
posted by mattoxic at 7:30 PM on January 17, 2013


The cartels are like the mafia. You can never get rid of them, but declaring war on them is only going to cause more pain for everybody.

The only solution is to legalize the production and sale of drugs in the United States and remove their funding. These days they buy politicians because there's nothing else to do with their money.

It's probably too late now anyway, the cartels are already starting to branch out into real estate. Just look at what's happened to San Antonio over the last decade, much less Guadalajara.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 7:31 PM on January 17, 2013


Show me where you can buy rapid-fire grenade launchers and fully automatic AK-47 and M-60 machine guns in the United States first, then we can talk about how the cartels use American guns.

Are you disputing the figures given, or is this just a very strawy strawman?
posted by pompomtom at 7:34 PM on January 17, 2013


mattoxic: Malor, I'm sure there are millions of small arms

I think you might have confused me with the prior commenter; my comment is very short, so you might have blended the two together.

I don't think, myself, that the guns matter much at all. What I think matters is the need to use them. And the War on Drugs is the source of that need. Without it, without the police destroying the inner cities, I suspect gun violence would decline dramatically.
posted by Malor at 7:43 PM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


it was not by men with Bushmasters and mini-rugers.

I think you mean Ruger Mini-14 or 30 here. I've posted this before, but there is a blog hat has been maintained for years displaying not just the weaponry but the whole effects of those caught in the drug war in Mexico. (If you don't see pictures on the front pages, just go to the last and work backwards). The cartels haave access to weapons that I cannot buy in even the most permissive of U.S. markets.

It was by uniformed men with industrial powered weapons of death.

All guns can be described thus. Even the comparatively modest .22 can be linked to substantial deaths, and the ammunition is very easy to acquire in bulk. The least impressive gun is still a gun.

Are you disputing the figures given, or is this just a very strawy strawman?

What figures? I didn't see anything about automatic weapons or grenades in the linked video but it is certain that such weapons are available to and used by the cartels. They do not come from Crazy Bob's Gun Emporium on the Arizona border (unless Crazy Bob wants to go to prison for a long time). If you doubt the availability, look to the link earlier for a variety of heavy automatic weapons, as well as breech- and magazine-fed grenade launchers.
posted by timfinnie at 7:51 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


What figures?

That 87% of firearms seized at drug crime scenes come from the US.
posted by pompomtom at 8:11 PM on January 17, 2013


That 87% of firearms seized at drug crime scenes come from the US.

According to? I didn't see any form of this in the linked video. This has to be your own citation.
posted by timfinnie at 8:15 PM on January 17, 2013


I don't know if it's really that clear, based on the video. How does a Mexican citizen buy a gun in America? And who is snorting cocaine? Isn't crack the top seller? And why and how do so many Mexicans turn into ruthless and remorseless murderers?
posted by Brocktoon at 8:17 PM on January 17, 2013


That 87% of firearms seized at drug crime scenes come from the US.

According to? I didn't see any form of this in the linked video. This has to be your own citation.


At 1:28 min. into the video
posted by Ochiee at 8:20 PM on January 17, 2013


According to? I didn't see any form of this in the linked video. This has to be your own citation.

Can't tell if I'm being wound up, so here's a link.
posted by pompomtom at 8:20 PM on January 17, 2013


Can't tell if I'm being wound up, so here's a link .

and it's still not a cite. There's no link. no figures. Just a claim. I can claim 100% of all guns found in Mexico come from the Netherlands.

The fact is that the figure can't be defined. In 2012 the Washington Post claimed 68%. Stratfor took on the claimed 90% figure. Representative Moran said it was 70 percent.

If it's really easy to define, don't you think there would be a single number we could use?
posted by timfinnie at 8:32 PM on January 17, 2013


If it's really easy to define, don't you think there would be a single number we could use?

In what world would it be "easy to define"? Not in Mexico, it seems.
posted by Ochiee at 8:38 PM on January 17, 2013


Just curious, for those arguing that decreasing drug demand is the approach we should take, is legalization of marijuana the only proposal on the table for doing so? Or are there proposals for decreasing the demand for narcotics as well?

According to the link that Brian B. linked to, marijuana "accounts for a third of the Mexican drug cartels’ revenue... What’s more, Mexican cartels traffic other narcotics, including cocaine, heroin and meth, and commit lucrative crimes from kidnapping to extortion, so even nationwide U.S. marijuana legalization would not destroy the cartels. Still, it could substantially weaken them."
posted by comradechu at 8:44 PM on January 17, 2013


Not in Mexico, it seems.

No, Mexico's pretty screwed, since people won't stop buying drugs and there's plenty of money flowing to those who participate in the so-called war.

Sad really, since I truly think tourism to Mexico from all nations would be greatly increased if the violence ceased. There are so many archaeological sites and modern cultural centers that could benefit greatly from the money denied by the fear of violence. And of all the nations, the U.S. is in the best position to appreciate and consume the cultural gifts of even brief Mexican holidays.

edit: I missed the 'brief' in the last sentence. Sorry.
posted by timfinnie at 8:47 PM on January 17, 2013


The fact is that the figure can't be defined. In 2012 the Washington Post claimed 68%. Stratfor took on the claimed 90% figure. Representative Moran said it was 70 percent.

Well, if we can't decide between 68%, 70%, 87% or 90% of guns, I suppose the logical thing to do is assume is that it's all a lie and the U.S. gun market is probably not involved at all. Yes?

Come on, dude. Despite the uncertainty and lack of definition, I am preeeeetty convinced by all the articles you cited PLUS the original, (in)famous GAO report that the U.S. is supplying "a metric shit-ton" of guns to the cartels.

The U.S. bankrolls the Mexican anti-drug forces. The U.S. bankrolls the cartels, via our hungry hungry market. The U.S. arms the Mexican anti-drug forces. Given that we're pretty much playing out our own fucked up bloody culture wars in our neighbor's backyard, I don't think the last corner of that square is too hard to fathom.
posted by DLWM at 8:49 PM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Just a claim. I can claim 100% of all guns found in Mexico come from the Netherlands.

Fine, so does that mean you are disputing the figure given? It wasn't too tricky a question.

If it's really easy to define, don't you think there would be a single number we could use?

What does that have to do with anything? Is there some sort of straw-man-off happening here? First we can't discuss anything that doesn't involve grenade launchers, now it's that we need an easier metric.

Still, the smallest figure presented is that the proportion of weapons seized from cartels being sourced from the US is significantly more than half. Would you agree to that? Is that cited enough?
posted by pompomtom at 8:51 PM on January 17, 2013


Or are there proposals for decreasing the demand for narcotics as well?

Remember, the goal isn't decreasing the demand, it's decreasing the price. If the margins on drugs of all sorts becomes slim, then there's not much money to pay for guns and muscle and assassinations.

The current Prohibition 2.0 approach means that every time we crack down and tighten restrictions, the price goes up, so the criminals can arm themselves better, and come up with novel ways of moving drugs into the country, so the overall supply stays roughly stable in terms of the population.

We're fighting against ourselves, and by definition, that is a fight we can't win.
posted by Malor at 8:57 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


when you can buy a crate of 20 indestructible automatic weapons

Wait... What? Indestructible? What kind of fantasy land do you live in where something indestructible!?
posted by Somnolent Jack at 9:04 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Come on, dude. Despite the uncertainly and lack of definition, I am preeeeetty convinced by all the articles you cited PLUS the original, (in)famous GAO report that the U.S. is supplying "a metric shit-ton" of guns to the cartels.

the proportion of weapons seized from cartels being sourced from the US is significantly more than half. Would you agree to that?

It's fine by me to say more than half. But to day 'sourced' is pretty vague. More nations than just the U.S. benefit commercially from the sale of arms (illegally) to the cartels. You have to also look to the China, and Russia, and some of the European nations, if the pictures' I've seen can be believed.

In any case, it isn't as simple as sourcing weapons in order to assign blame. As much as I don't believe that legalization is the one true answer, I do have to consider the many years of elected officials, on both sides of the aisle, who voted for funds for this ridiculous and horrifying show. They may not have all taken money from the "gun lobby" but they contributed just as much to our present condition where the militarization of forces against drug producers and distributors is concerned. Following that, the response from the cartels, too. (It's happening in the U.S., too, ¡Claro que sí!).
posted by timfinnie at 9:11 PM on January 17, 2013


As much as I don't believe that legalization is the one true answer,

It worked in Prohibition 1.0. Yes, we have alcoholism and the grief that causes, but under Prohibition, we had alcoholism, plus well-armed gangsters roaming the streets and scoffing at the police.

The gangsters in 2.0 are most prevalent in Mexico, but they're so well-armed and financed that they make the 1.0 guys look like chumps. 60,000 dead. 60,000!

Prohibition 2.0 is a horrific failure, one many times larger than the first. It's time to cut our losses, and stop killing people by the tens of thousands.
posted by Malor at 9:24 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


So there is no figure, and even if there is a figure it's wrong, and even if we these other figures which show roughly the same thing, then don't blame the US because China.

Got it.
posted by pompomtom at 9:27 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, I meant the Ruger mini-14. I wasn't paying attention to what I was writing very well.

Anyway, to claim that the weapons seized from cartels or in various crimes that was then sourced to purchases in the United States is in ANY WAY a representative sampling of the weapons typically used by the cartels demonstrates a ludicrous distortion of the facts via abusing statistics. Those are generally weapons seized from generic violent criminal activity

I've personally observed the use and brandishing of heavy machine guns, ghetto home-brew armored cars, rocket, grenade launchers etc that were either stolen/purchased/lost/given from the Mexican military or purchased in bulk on the international black market. When you talk about the cartels in Mexico, you're referring to a giant web of various para-military organizations that has nearly infinite resources. When they decided to protest the arrest of a cartel leader in Guadalajara last year, they were able to launch a coordinated shutdown of all major highways by hijacking and burning city buses in a blockade on all of those routes, simultaneously, with the death of only one civilian. I'm not sure the USMC could have pulled that off.

The major cartels rarely have their stuff seized. They give up small amounts of junk from time to time due to political pressure, or sell out minor-league players who get too successful for their own good. A lot of the Mexican military are working for both sides, which is why the Mexican Navy's marines have been so heavily used in the last two years for anti-cartel operations, because they were the least infiltrated branch of the military.

Let's not forget the roots of the scariest cartel, the Zetas, was the outright, wholesale defection of an elite branch of the Mexican military. If you're already in an equipped military unit, you're hardly going to need to awkwardly smuggle small amounts of semi-automatic arms across the border. The 87% figure was thoroughly debunked earlier last year.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 9:29 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


In response to the earlier comment, I consider the AK 47 and AK 74 basically indestructible, yes.

As well as far more suited to urban combat and countryside terrorism than the contents of your average Arizona Wal-mart sporting goods department.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 9:32 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


As much as I don't believe that legalization is the one true answer,

I don't entirely believe so either. There still needs to be huge improvements in Mexico's law enforcement and justice system, or else the cartels will move on to other businesses, or just stay in drug trafficking, but compete based on lower prices and easier access. To use another example, organized crime in Europe makes money smuggling cigarettes, while in China organized crime makes money counterfeiting cigarettes. And they're legal in both regions.
posted by FJT at 9:33 PM on January 17, 2013


To use another example, organized crime in Europe makes money smuggling cigarettes, while in China organized crime makes money counterfeiting cigarettes. And they're legal in both regions.

But they aren't highly-armed gangs, flipping the middle finger to the government and killing tens of thousands of civilians. They don't have the money or power for that, because there's no War on Cigarettes in either place.
posted by Malor at 9:46 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, this can all be solved easily: how about America legalizes drugs, and Mexico legalizes guns, and then everybody can have what they want!
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:59 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


It worked in Prohibition 1.0. Yes, we have alcoholism and the grief that causes, but under Prohibition, we had alcoholism, plus well-armed gangsters roaming the streets and scoffing at the police.

My understanding--not based on any close study of the subject, so I'm open to correction--is that historians have pretty much busted this as a myth. There was no massive crime wave during the prohibition era and gang activity is pretty continuous before, during and after.
posted by yoink at 10:23 PM on January 17, 2013


I like that idea, Mars, but I read somewhere that the cartels are so entrenched, it wouldn't make much difference. Huh I probably read that on Metafilter!
posted by Brocktoon at 10:29 PM on January 17, 2013


There was no massive crime wave during the prohibition era and gang activity is pretty continuous before, during and after.

Other than bootlegging alcohol, you mean. There was a massive crime wave there.

And all the money from the alcohol meant that the gangs were wealthy, dangerous, and hard to police.

They were smart to stop it the first time, because the cost of trying to stop alcohol was so much higher than just dealing with the consequences of having it.

It's the same thing today; the cost for the War on Drugs is far, far, worse than the drugs could ever be, in blood, in treasure, and in lives destroyed.
posted by Malor at 10:34 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also note that the alcohol money was flowing freely, and a great deal of it went into the pockets of local law enforcement... the War on Alcohol was a powerfully corrosive influence on good governance. It spread corruption everywhere. We see the same thing today.
posted by Malor at 10:36 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


By the way, what is up with conservative outrage at Fast and Furious? I realize it was a major clusterfuck, but since when were conservatives opposed to free markets and selling guns?

I'm all for legalizing the drugs, or at least not criminalizing them, but I also doubt that alone would solve the violence problem. It seems to me it might actually intensify, as there would be less remaining turf (smuggling humans, guns, and other contraband and maybe new enterprises of some sort) to fight over. My guess is the cartels would try to form more of a Yakuza style operation.

Maybe this is a good opportunity for an American gun culture science experiment:

Hypothesis: The "only" effective method to solve gun violence is for good people with guns to stop the bad people with guns.1

Assumptions: Let's assume there are more good people than bad people in Mexico, or at least that there exists a critical mass of good people.

Procedure: Put a gun (or assault weapon, grenade launcher, claymore, whatever) distribution stand on every corner and arm and train everyone who passes a standardized "good person" psychological profile questionnaire. Let all good people know they are free to go fuck-up the cartels to their hearts content.

1"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." (La Pierre et al).
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:11 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


So if trained soldiers can't do it, you want to arm a bunch of civilians? I see no problems with this plan whatsoever.

The criminals are winning because they are obscenely rich, and are using that wealth to preserve their power. They do violence because they can afford to. They can buy the weapons, and afford to pay pay people to take the kind of risks involved in open warfare. If civilians get AK-47s, they'll just upgrade their side to RPGs, or even APCs. Their strength is money. The guns and violence and death are a symptom, not a cause.

You have to attack the problem at the root. Trying to ban drugs, and attack the people who deal in them with soldiers, is like trying to stop global warming by using coal-powered machines to build sandbag walls. It may hold back the rising oceans for a time, but the higher the walls get, the higher the oceans get, as an indirect response.

Likewise, the more violent we get about drugs, the more profitable they become, and the more violent the bad guys get, because they can afford to arm and train themselves.

Sixty thousand dead. How can we even be arguing about this anymore?
posted by Malor at 11:47 PM on January 17, 2013


And, I have to say, if you think that somehow tightening up gun laws in the US is going to make a lick of difference in Mexico, you couldn't be more wrong. These people can build goddamn submarines. If you think they can't make their own weapons, should they choose, you're delusional.

People can make absolutely terrifying firearms with moderately advanced shop equipment. And reloading your spent brass has been done for freaking ever. All they have to do is pay urchins a few cents per shell, and they can light up the local shopping mall, and then every one of those spent casings will be picked up and returned to them. With enough money, all things are possible, and these people have more money than many governments.

You have to go after that wealth, and the way you go after it is through legalization. This is the only policy that will actually work. All the rest are heat and noise, designed to fulfill other goals, not the one you actually want solved.
posted by Malor at 12:21 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


There isn't any solution to the drug problem except legalization and treatment, none.

I'd consider the guns issues rather distracting, certainly American guns laws might've paid a critical role in the cartels growth historically and the cartels might buy their guns from American manufacturers even today, but guns are easy enough to make that cartels will simply create their own producers if necessary. Americans might even illegally import their guns from Mexico one day if the cartels got serious enough about production.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:04 AM on January 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


By the way, what is up with conservative outrage at Fast and Furious? I realize it was a major clusterfuck, but since when were conservatives opposed to free markets and selling guns?

Any bad idea, screw up, or fiasco that can be used to tarnish the Obama administration in any way is the next Watergate and must be treated as such.
posted by Bromius at 3:44 AM on January 18, 2013


Nothing will change. 60,000 dead? But they are Mexicans, and as we have seen, the rich and powerful don't even care about the poor who lack food and medicine in their own country.

Further, the US/CIA has been training, funding and arming the crazies in South America for decades, the amount of people disappeared, tortured and killed in that time is huge - do you think the elite cared about this? No, because they got what they wanted - fascist neo-liberal dictatorships who did America's bidding. So do you really think they care about Mexico?
posted by marienbad at 5:31 AM on January 18, 2013


Sixty thousand dead. How can we even be arguing about this anymore?
Dead Belgians Don't Count.
posted by fullerine at 7:47 AM on January 18, 2013


I think going after wealth is right, but both on the revenue side - decreasing profits - and the expense side - making it harder (and so, more expensive) to get guns.
posted by zippy at 8:05 AM on January 18, 2013


I think going after wealth is right,

What about banks? The cartels don't just keep their money under a big mattress. Do they launder their money through offshore financial centers?
posted by FJT at 10:08 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


By the way, what is up with conservative outrage at Fast and Furious? I realize it was a major clusterfuck, but since when were conservatives opposed to free markets and selling guns?

Any bad idea, screw up, or fiasco that can be used to tarnish the Obama administration in any way is the next Watergate and must be treated as such.


while this is true (about right wing media) it is also true that the administration made it possible for a few thousand (at least) guns to be trafficed to Mexico that wouldn't have been otherwise. They basically told gun dealers to allow sales that were being denied by the existing background check to go through to further a criminal investigation. Then they royally botched up the investigation to the point they don't KNOW how many guns got trafficed to mexico. then they have stonewalled a congressional investigation into it (admittedly at least partly driven by partisan politics-but then ins't that the whole idea of a TWO party system? one is a watchdog on the other?) Then the administration is lecturing legal, law abiding gun owners about how we must give up those guns for the common good. Hypocrisy on stilts right there.

I think going after wealth is right, but both on the revenue side - decreasing profits - and the expense side - making it harder (and so, more expensive) to get guns.

And just what method do you think is going to do that? magazine limits maybe? I am quite sure the drug cartels can find someone willing to sell them steel boxes with springs...I mean they aren't that hard to make, and they're are millions of them available on the markets these people have access to. Making them unavailable to the civilian US market ain't gonna matter. Theyre are machine shops on the pakistan/afhan border that turn out arms and ammunition (fully automatic at that, not semi automatic civilian copies) in sufficient quantities to keep the US military some problems, pretty sure the cartels can access similair talents.

That 87% of firearms seized at drug crime scenes come from the US.

No, 87% of the gun serial numbers submitted to the ATF for tracking from Mexico come from US manufacturers. NOTE: this is not the same thing AT ALL. This means that the mexican authoritys see some evidence about some gun being made or having been imported(both require permanent marks to be etched into the firearm) in the US at some point, than submitted to the ATF so maybe they can figure out how the guns are getting into the hands of the cartels. The vast majority of the guns seem to be models not readily available on the US market, particularly the heavy ordinance-machine guns, assult rifles (not 'assault weapons'), rocket launchers, grenade launchers and so on.

and buying a gun and taking it into Mexico is already illegal (as is recreational drug use-in both countries). Is making it more illegal gonna stop these people? I mean if we pass just ONE more law banning a certain type of firearm to the civilian market the murderers will see the error of their ways and turn into good citizens, right or is the argument they then can't get them? Or maybe they will just find another source or switch to a type of gun that IS available. And gun control in Mexico is so strict that the civilian population HAS effectively been disarmed. Yet the criminals still have guns, people still get murdered, and it is all motivated by OUR drug policy.

Treating drug abuse for what it is-a public health matter-and not as a criminal matter would be the best thing possible for the problems in Mexico and many problems in the US. Respect for and credibility of Police, violent crime and probably a dozen more I can't think of. Call it the Portugal solution.
posted by bartonlong at 11:01 AM on January 18, 2013


I think going after wealth is right, but both on the revenue side - decreasing profits - and the expense side - making it harder (and so, more expensive) to get guns.

Of course, they have the wealth to pursue weapons by lots of avenues. You're only going to be able to make access less convenient and so more expensive. If they have to contract out to a bunch of one-person shops with hand tools (to take the extreme Pakistan case mentioned above) that's going to be a bigger pain in the ass than just buying in quantity from a known manufacturer with known QA standards. You'll have more checks to cut, more people to oversee, more resources diverted to acquisition. So it becomes more expensive.

It's like how you can buy a PC for one price, but if you want a PC made to spec, it costs more, yes? Economies of scale in manufacturing and purchasing affect price.
posted by zippy at 11:37 AM on January 18, 2013


Of course, they have the wealth to pursue weapons by lots of avenues. You're only going to be able to make access less convenient and so more expensive. If they have to contract out to a bunch of one-person shops with hand tools (to take the extreme Pakistan case mentioned above) that's going to be a bigger pain in the ass than just buying in quantity from a known manufacturer with known QA standards. You'll have more checks to cut, more people to oversee, more resources diverted to acquisition. So it becomes more expensive.

well, this is true, and the Pakistan case is an edge example. Both there is no shortage of arms on the market for these people to buy and they are not going to resort to making them (Pakistan is another case but does illustrate what happens when people don't have access to effective weaponry but still want it-making guns ain't that hard). They have the resources to just buy what they want and guns that are far more suitable, and at cheaper prices than are available on the US civilian gun market. It appears, from photographic analysis and first hand reports, they have pretty much armed themselves from Mexican and corrupt central american countries armories. The guns that are seen on the photos just aren't available on the us civilian market. for example: a select fire ak-47 (meaning capable of full automatic fire) that is legal to own and can be bought at a gun store is worth 10-15k last I heard. On the international arms market it is available at somewhere between 500 and 1000 delievered (the high cost of smuggling...) wholesale at the armory is much cheaper, new in crates with ammo and magazines. You can get a used one in the some areas that have already been flooded with illegal arms for considerably less. BTW my numbers may not be quite right, they are from memory and the international arms market numbers are from CJ Chivers book, The Gun (I think).
posted by bartonlong at 1:37 PM on January 18, 2013


They were smart to stop it the first time, because the cost of trying to stop alcohol was so much higher than just dealing with the consequences of having it.

You're simply reiterating the common popular theory about the effects of Prohibition--the very theory which I'm suggesting historians have debunked. Here, from what I can see, is a pretty representative example of that debunking argument, it's an article by a historian in the American Journal of Public Health. It may be that he's completely wrong, that he's incorrect as to the current consensus among historians or that other historians have corrected his interpretation and those of the other historians he references--but you don't really get to establish that point by simply reiterating the original claim.

If he's right then Prohibition simply doesn't provide us with the neat little historical proof of the wonders of legalization that many wish it to be. That should hardly astound us--history doesn't provide many such perfectly transposable "test cases" and we should be suspicious of any such claims on their face.
posted by yoink at 7:04 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Legalization isn't wonderful. It's just better than what we have now.

How the fuck could it be worse?
posted by Malor at 8:57 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


How the fuck could it be worse?

With our divisive and dysfunctional government? And the distortion caused by our markets and businesses? And our deep, deep love of excess and even deeper fear mongering?

Yeah, don't ask that.
posted by FJT at 4:02 PM on January 19, 2013


With our divisive and dysfunctional government?

So getting the government out of the Prohibition racket is supposed to somehow be worse?

The only worse outcome I can see in that they could double down on the bad policy yet again. But it remains a bad policy. Drugs get into prisons. They can't stop drug trafficking even with 24x7 surveillance and the entire population literally in chains. Trying to do it on the outside is deeply stupid. The only way to win that war is by turning the entire country into something worse than a supermax prison.

If we're not prepared to do that, we're admitting that the cost is too high. There's no way that legalized drugs could be worse than that. There's no way it could be worse than what we already have. We're wasting trillions of dollars, just flat-out wasting them, when we could be investing that money in the inner cities, and solar power, and Internet access, and carbon sequestration.

Sixty thousand dead. When will we be willing to say, "Enough. This is not working." What will it take?
posted by Malor at 12:29 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The only way to win that war is by turning the entire country into something worse than a supermax prison.

Neither Japan nor Sweden have had to become Supermax prisons when enforcing drug laws.

Sixty thousand dead. When will we be willing to say, "Enough. This is not working." What will it take?

I'm trying to think why this statement doesn't sit well with me, and I've figured it out. You're giving a moral reason to enact policy that will affect another country. And, I don't think we need to illustrate how this has led the US down many a bad path, even though we had good intentions for everyone involved.

And even with that said, I'm not entirely opposed to legalization. For the US domestically, there would be benefits to legalizing or even choosing just to not really enforce existing drug laws. I'm just very ambivalent about it and have yet to remain convinced of one side or the other.
posted by FJT at 11:39 AM on January 20, 2013


See, FJT, for a very large chunk of the country, it's not the War on Drugs. It's the War on Blacks. Our inner cities look like war zones because they are war zones. Mexico is in horrific shape, because the entire country is the secondary front for the War on Drugs. It is in very real danger of being lost completely to drugs gangs; they have that much power and influence now, and it grows with each passing year, because the gangs have more money than God.

It's all our money, being bled away, because we're paying for both sides of the battle.... we pay police to hunt down drug users, lawyers to argue their cases, judges to sentence them, guards to watch them, parole agents to mind them after release, and then, very frequently, we do the same thing again and again with the same people. And then we pay in broken families and destroyed lives. And then we pay in the required crime to pay for overpriced drugs; people will spend whatever they have to spend, so all this policing just drives up the price. It doesn't really drop demand, because addiction is addiction, and an addict will pay whatever it takes. And it doesn't drop supply, either; we've been fighting for thirty years, and drugs are just as available now as they were when we started.

There is no way in which we do not lose. There is no upside to this mess. It is as failed as policies can get, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you.
posted by Malor at 2:08 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Neither Japan nor Sweden have had to become Supermax prisons when enforcing drug laws.

Neither Japan nor Sweden are drug free either, so what have the drug laws accomplished?
posted by Iax at 5:07 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is no upside to this mess. It is as failed as policies can get, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you.

I guess what gets to me is how this is starting to look like history is repeating itself. When imperialists attempted to subjugate the Native Americans, one of the tools used against them was alcohol. And when imperialists encountered the Chinese, they did the same thing, except with opium.

I'm also skeptical for those peddle in easy and simple solutions and don't admit that there is any downside to legalization, especially in a country as large and populous as America complete with great social inequality and lack of social safety nets.

Neither Japan nor Sweden are drug free either, so what have the drug laws accomplished?

They've been successful keeping addiction rates low. I admit though, different countries have different views regarding drugs. And this is why I don't think all governments should follow the same drug policy.
posted by FJT at 10:49 AM on January 21, 2013


I'm also skeptical for those peddle in easy and simple solutions and don't admit that there is any downside to legalization,

No matter what the downsides are, they can't be as bad as what's happening now.
posted by Malor at 5:16 PM on January 21, 2013


There is a subtle part to legalizing recreational drugs, namely the treatment part. If you legalize without offering treatment, then you only solve the organized crime problem being discussed here, but the drug use problem persists. If you offer treatment, then you deal with both problems much more effectively than incarceration does. There are't afaik any downsides per se to legalizing with or without treatment, but doing the treatment part correctly does require hiring psychologists, social workers, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:32 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


« Older Fringe Oral History   |   Exposure Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post