WALL STREET JOURNAL: At a press conference last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder indicated that President Obama would keep a campaign promise by ending federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries. This means that the weed will remain illegal to transport and sell — and thus highly profitable for criminals — but there will be fewer repercussions for those who use it in states with liberal marijuana laws. The administration says it wants to end federal infringement on the rights of states. But the consequence of the policy change will be stealth legalization — which will create the worst of all worlds for countries like Mexico that are asked to fight supply.
“We certainly have a problem,” Mr. Medina Mora, [Mexico’s Attorney General] tells me, but he sees the violence as an outgrowth of the revival of the state’s authority rather than a sign of looming collapse. He argues that law enforcement has restored order in many areas where the mob previously ruled. As territory has been reclaimed, the cartels have gone to war with each other over their shrinking turf. This is why, he reports, of the 6,616 drug-related murders last year, more than 85% were gangsters killed by gangsters.
To really change things for the better, Latin American countries need the Americans to cut funding to the bad guys. Mr. Medina Mora estimates that drug consumers north of the Rio Grande put some $10 billion into the pockets of the cartels annually. This is how they either buy, intimidate or annihilate many of those who get in their way.
More interesting is Mexico’s estimates that half of all cartel revenue comes from the marijuana business. That means, by my calculation, that if you lift the prohibition on trafficking pot alone, it would cut mob income by half. It also means that if the U.S. adopts a wink-wink policy of tolerating marijuana use but keeps it officially illegal, the thugs are going to get richer. It is considered politically risky in the U.S. to argue for lifting the ban on marijuana. But that’s no excuse for Mr. Obama’s policy, which will harm Mexico further. The country has already paid enough for American hypocrisy on drug use. MORE
ABC NEWS: U.S. gun stores and gun shows are the source of more than 90 percent of the weapons being used by Mexico’s ruthless drug cartels, according to U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials. “It’s a war going on in Mexico, and these types of firearms are the weapons of war for them,” said Bill Newell, the special agent in charge of the Phoenix field division of the ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which has primary law enforcement jurisdiction for investigating gun trafficking to Mexico. “It’s virtually impossible to buy a firearm in Mexico as a private citizen, so this country is where they come,” said Newell. But U.S. efforts to stop the smuggling of tens of thousands of guns to Mexico, including high-powered assault weapons, have been hampered by lenient American gun laws and the Bush administration’s failure to give priority to anti-gun smuggling efforts, officials tell ABC News. MORE
CNN: Meanwhile, there is no question that Americans will pay a price if the drug violence spills over the border. Just a few days ago, the U.S. State Department issued a blunt travel advisory warning Americans with plans to travel in Mexico to be extra careful. “Recent Mexican army and police confrontations with drug cartels have resembled small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and grenades,” the advisory reads. “Large firefights have taken place in towns and cities … and during some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area.”
Firefights will put a crimp in the tourist industry. But, Mexicans are quick to point out the irony. Here Americans are worried about their safety in Mexico when one of the reasons the Mexican government is having such a difficult time fighting the drug cartels is because the enemy has plenty of money and guns. And both are coming from the north. According to most estimates, about 90 percent of all the cocaine flowing into the United States comes from Mexico and about 90 percent of the guns seized in drug-related violence come from the United States. MORE
WALL STREET JOURNAL: PHOENIX — This week, an Arizona gun shop goes on trial in state court in what law-enforcement officials are calling a landmark case against gun dealers who sell weapons that end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels, fueling horrific violence south of the border that killed more than 6,000 people last year. X-Caliber Guns LLC, is accused of knowingly selling hundreds of weapons, mostly AK-47s, to buyers who were posing as fronts for Mexican drug gangs. The gun store’s owner, 47-year-old George Iknadosian, has maintained his innocence in court filings. While the U.S. has long pressed Mexico to stop the flow of illegal drugs such as cocaine from crossing the border heading north, Mexico has complained that the U.S. doesn’t stop the flow of guns heading south. Mexican and U.S. officials estimate that more than 90% of the weapons used by Mexican drug cartels come from the U.S. Mexican soldiers arrived in the border city of Ciudad Juarez on Sunday, to confront drug-trafficking cartels in the country’s most violent region. Mexican and U.S. officials estimate that more than 90% of weapons used by Mexican drug cartels come from the U.S. Consider what happened last year in the Mexican border city of Nogales. The chief of the Sonora state anti-drug unit, Juan Manuel Pavón, was murdered by cartel hit men, just hours after attending a U.S. seminar on how to resist the tide of American firearms surging into Mexico. Several weapons linked to the crime traced back to X-Caliber Guns. MORE