Pubdate: Sat, 29 Sep 2007
Source: San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Copyright: 2007 San Antonio Express-News


They are not listed on any stock exchange, but drug smugglers make 
profits that rival the top companies in America.

If you combined the Mexican cartels into one entity, it would 
generate more revenue than 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies, 
according to a recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The cartels produce about $23 billion in annual revenue, the GAO 
investigators determined.

If the statistics are not enough to depress -- or frighten -- you, 
consider this: Both the U.S. and Mexican governments, through 
bureaucratic bungling, are unwitting accomplices in this pernicious 
pipeline of drugs.

While the two nations are cooperating in the drug war, they are 
working their way through the relationship, with missteps that have 
contributed to the success of the cartels.

According to the report, for example, the White House drug policy 
office has prepared a counter-narcotics plan without alerting Mexican 
authorities, whose cooperation is vital to the project.

"The Office of National Drug Control Policy has to stop dropping the 
ball and doing sloppy work," Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who 
requested the report, told the Washington Post.

Mexico, meanwhile, faces its own problem in the war against drugs -- 
corruption. It is hard to fight the bad guys when the bad guys wear 
badges. The federal government has launched an initiative to weed out 
dirty cops, but the problem is so systemic that it may take years 
before a resolution is reached.

With such an enormous challenge, Mexico cannot succeed without help 
from its neighbor across the river. Cooperation is vital. If problems 
do not stop at the checkpoints, neither should the solutions to those problems. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake