What the DTOs [Drug Trafficing Organizations] are really selling is logistics, much like Wal-Mart and Amazon.com…. Amazon may have started as a bookseller, but its dominance, as Fast Company put it, is “now less about what it sells than how it sells,” providing a distribution hub for all sorts of products. Drug-trafficking organizations are using the same philosophy to cut costs, better control distribution, and develop new sources of revenue. – Think Again: Mexican Drug Cartels
I’ve not written much lately about the Mexican drug wars partly because I just haven’t written much lately period, and partly because the news has been pretty much of the always-gruesome same. Still, I thought that the recent Foreign Policy article on the topic by Evelyn Krache Morris was interesting in that it makes clear that the Mexican cartels have gone far beyond the drug smuggling operations of their early days and are now heavily involved in moving (illegally, of course) whatever will turn a profit. This could be drugs, could be precursor chemicals for meth production, could be pirated software and DVDs, could be people and could be something even worse.
Logistics, then, are the DTOs’ main source of revenue, and illegal drugs are but one of the products they offer. As the cartels’ revenue streams become increasingly diversified, the drug trade will become less and less important. In fact, the prospect of the DTOs’ selling their services to terrorists, say by transporting weapons of mass destruction across the U.S.-Mexico border, has begun to frighten analysts both inside and outside government.
Morris also outlines the growing presence of the cartels within the US – not only as a means of supporting their smuggling operations (essentially the “wholesale” side) but also moving into the street-level “retail” side. (See, for example, this LA Times article from a few days ago on the indictment of some 2 dozen members of a Pasadena-based gang working with the Sinaloa cartel to sell heroin, meth and cocaine in that city and elsewhere.)
Overall, given the cartel’s diversification, the profound corruption within Mexico and the resilience of the cartels themselves, Morris argues that neither legalization of drugs nor intensified policing will succeed in defeating them. Instead, she says, the US should “follow the money.” Outlining the involvement of some of the largest banks in the world in the laundering of the massive amounts of cartel funds, she argues that the best way to hurt the cartels is by aggressively pursuing the cash:
The staggering profits of illegal trade would be much less attractive if the DTOs could not launder, deposit, and ultimately spend their money…. Stanching the cartels’ profits will do more to end the bloodshed than any new fence or law.
An overstatement perhaps, but still an article well worth reading.
(For more of my posts on Mexico, see here.)
Filed under: Mexican drug wars, Mexico | Tagged: mexican drug war, mexican drug wars, mexican violence, Mexico, mexico drug gangs | Leave a comment »