Authorities recently found several new tunnels designed to transport drugs across the US- Mexico border. Used to escape detection at heightened crossings into the states, these tunnels seem to have been built by someone with knowledge of engineering. Lined with plywood, they are reinforced using four-by-six beams; one of the tunnels was found in an abandoned strip mall in Western Arizona. The other started in Tijuana and was leading toward San Diego, but was discovered by authorities before it could be finished.
Since 1990, there have been over 156 tunnels found; thankfully most were discovered before their construction could be completed. This level of sneakiness shows that the cartels are using more and more ingenious means to traffic their goods onto America’s streets. One of the newly discovered tunnels even had an elevator and a rail cart system.
Though authorities have been able to stop the use or continued development of all the tunnels they have found, the question remains: How much has already come through these underground passageways? In a raid last November on tunnels found linking Sand Diego to Tijuana, a combined 52 tons of illegal drugs were found on both sides of the border. So I ask again: How much had gone through before, if on a single day authorities seized over 50 tons? It is scary to think about. Hundreds, possibly even thousands of tons could have passed through, and the raids were on only two tunnels.
Though tunneling is not a new tactic, it has become more and more common. Since October 2008 more than 70 passages have been found linking the two countries- more than in the previous six years combined.
The DEA special agent in charge of the investigation stated, “When you see what is there and the way they designed it, it wasn’t something that your average miner could put together.” With US customs checking traffic, and border guards patrolling outside of registered crossings, many groups have made the decision to “go underground”- literally.
So what does this tell us? Is the war on drugs finally working to clean up the situation? The answer, unfortunately for US tax payers, is no, and here is an interesting argument as to why:
“Prohibition is a textbook example of a policy with negative unintended consequences. Literally: it’s an example in the textbook I use in my introductory economics classes (Cowen and Tabarrok, Modern Principles of Economics if you’re curious) and in the most popular introductory economics textbook in the world (by N. Gregory Mankiw).The demand curve for drugs is extremely inelastic, meaning that people don’t change their drug consumption very much in response to changes in prices. Therefore, vigorous enforcement means higher prices and higher revenues for drug dealers.”
This quotation speaks volumes and was written by economist Art Carden, who has no ties to any drug enforcement or advocacy groups. His article hits home in a way that few can argue against. The more law enforcement cracks down on the ease of consumption, the more cartels do to usurp such methods. The higher the penalties for drug possession get, the higher the price becomes. This in turn funnels more and more money back to the drugs’ source, without reducing much of the demand. Addicts are addicts, and price usually does not drive their desire, or lack of control over it.
What if we did legalize certain drugs? Marijuana for example has been prescribed for years to those suffering from mental disorders, cancer, and other serious illnesses with many positive results. Instead of lining the pockets of suppliers and cartels why not choke off their economic supply through positive management and legalization? Instead of driving traffickers underground and around the billions of dollars spent to stop their activities, why not just use legal sale and taxation? It is a topic we as free-speaking citizens of the greatest country on the planet should at least seriously examine and debate. And, with many states warming up to the idea, especially in a serious economic downturn, we may all be doing so soon.
- Spagat, Elliot. Billeaud, Jacques. IndyStar. Associated Press. “Drug Tunnels: 2 Sophisticated Ones Discovered on U.S. Border.”
- Carden, Art. Forbes.com. Forbes. “Let’s be Blunt it’s Time to End the War on Drugs”. 4/19/2012.
- AFP. Yahoonews. “Third Drug Tunnel Found Under US-Mexico Border”. 7/13/2012
- n.a. New York Times. “Mexican Drug Trafficking (Mexico’s Drug War)”. 6/12/2012
By Will I.
Filed under: Featured, Life · Tags: addict, Addiction, addicts, Alcohol and Drugs, Art Carden, border, border patrol, cancer, cartels, dea, drug agents, Drug Cartels, Drug dealers, drug enforcement, drug laws, drug legalization, drug policy, drug possession, drug raid, drug suppliers, drug trade, drug trafficking, drug war, economist, economy, illegal drugs, marijuana, mental disorders, mental illness, Mexico, pot, prohibition, raid, raids, San Diego, Tijuana, tunnels, underground, underground passageways, US, US-Mexican border, war on drugs, Western Arizona