To the Editor:
Drugs have not "won the war." With a comprehensive anti-drug strategy
in place, involving foreign policy, enforcement, education, treatment,
prevention and media, America's overall drug use has declined almost
by half in the past three decades -- from 14.1 percent of the
population in 1979 to 8.3 percent now who used drugs in the past
month. In addition, cocaine use, including crack -- the source of much
of the former record-high violent crime numbers -- is down 70 percent.
Want to go back?
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PALM BEACH GARDENS -- Destroy opium plants, or U.S. soldiers will
continue to abuse heroin and terrorism will continue to thrive in
That's the message from former U.S. drug czar, Gen. Barry McCaffrey,
who was Wednesday's keynote speaker at a conference for the National
Association of Addiction Treatment Providers at PGA National Resort.
McCaffrey, a retired four-star general who served as the nation's drug
czar under President Clinton, believes that drug abuse among soldiers
has doubled in the last four years.
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YUCATAN, Mexico -- The Canadian guy at the swim-up bar seemed ready to
fall off his stool and float away.
In an effort to help him focus, I asked him about Canada's involvement
in Mexico's brutal drug war.
"What involvement?" he said.
And that's the problem. A lot of Canadians don't know about our stake
in Mexico's war against drug lords, which now has a higher death rate
than the war in Iraq.
The war's statistics are staggering: More than 7,000 people killed
this year and last; 50,000 Mexican troops and federal police battling
five big drug cartels armed with rocket-launchers, machine guns,
grenades and armour-piercing sniper rifles over a drug trade valued at
$50 billion a year.
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Mexicans Seek 'True Solidarity'
MEXICO CITY -- After promising $1.4 billion last year under a landmark
initiative to help fight drug trafficking in Mexico, the U.S.
government has spent almost none of the money, fanning criticism on
both sides of the border that the United States is failing to respond
quickly to the deepening crisis.
In June, Congress appropriated $400 million to assist Mexico under the
first installment of the Merida Initiative, which was signed into law
by President George W. Bush. The three-year aid package was passed as
an emergency measure because of deteriorating security in Mexico. In
December, the State Department announced that $197 million had been
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Mexico's hillbilly drug smugglers have morphed into a raging
insurgency. Violence claimed more lives there last year alone than all
the Americans killed in the war in Iraq. And there's no end in sight.
What I remember most about my return to Mexico last year are the
narcomantas. At least that's what everyone called them: "drug
banners." Perhaps a dozen feet long and several feet high, they were
hung in parks and plazas around Monterrey. Their messages were
hand-painted in black block letters. They all said virtually the same
thing, even misspelling the same name in the same way. Similar banners
appeared in eight other Mexican cities that day--Aug. 26, 2008.
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No New Troops Or Funding in Obama's Plan
The Obama administration announced plans yesterday to move more than
450 law enforcement agents and equipment to the southern U.S. border
to combat Mexican drug cartel violence, but its "comprehensive
response" was also notable for what it omitted.
President Obama asked for no new troops, legislation or funding from
Congress for now, beyond the three-year $1.4 billion Merida
Initiative lawmakers gave Mexico and Central America for
counter-trafficking programs last year and a small amount of stimulus
money for border security.
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Guess which city leads the world in kidnappings?
No, not Beirut. Not Baghdad. Mexico City.
And guess who comes second? Ready? It's Phoenix, Ariz.: 370 recorded
cases in 2008 alone, and who knows how many unrecorded cases.
When you think Phoenix, you may think of retirees and golf courses.
But here's what the late Paul Harvey used to call "the rest of the
story," courtesy of the Web site Stratfor.com:
"Late on the night of June 22,  a residence in Phoenix was
approached by a heavily armed tactical team preparing to serve a
warrant. The members of the team were wearing the typical gear for
members of their profession: black boots, black BDU (battle dress
uniform) pants, Kevlar helmets and Phoenix Police Department (PPD)
raid shirts pulled over their body armour. The team members carried
AR-15 rifles equipped with Aimpoint sights to help them during the
low-light operation and, like most cops on a tactical team, in
addition to their long guns, the members of this team carried
secondary weapons --pistols strapped to their thighs.
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The White House yesterday said that it will push for treatment, rather
than incarceration, of people arrested for drug-related crimes as it
announced the nomination of Seattle Police Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske to
oversee the nation's effort to control illegal drugs.
The choice of drug czar and the emphasis on alternative drug courts,
announced by Vice President Biden, signal a sharp departure from Bush
administration policies, gravitating away from cutting the supply of
illicit drugs from foreign countries and toward curbing drug use in
communities across the United States.
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As Mexico Descends into Brutality and Lawlessness, the Government
Istelf Has Become a Tool of the Drug Lords
The target of the raid was the narcotraficante known as "El Conejo" -
the Rabbit. In keeping with his stature as the main supplier of
cocaine to one of Mexico's most powerful drug cartels, the Colombian
was throwing a lavish party at a sprawling mansion on the south side
of Mexico City. As always, there would be plenty of high-end
prostitutes, who served a dual purpose: They not only made money for
Conejo while they were working, they could also be sent back to
Colombia loaded down with the cash from his drug trafficking - by
some accounts as much as $40 million in profits every month.
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Americans are under attack not in some foreign province but in their
very homes and neighborhoods. Brutal drug cartel violence that wracks
Mexico is increasingly seeping over the border into U.S.
In Phoenix, armed extortionists are kidnapping Americans from their
homes and cars. In Southern California, citizens have been abducted by
armed gangs linked to the Tijuana drug rackets. And in Texas, Gov.
Rick Perry is requesting an additional $135 million for border
security to stem transnational gangs that threaten communities across
the Mexican border.
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AUSTIN -- The state and federal governments have prepared contingency
plans to deal with "spillover violence" from across the border as
Mexican troops clash with ruthless drug cartels terrorizing the
United States's southern neighbor.
"Anything you can think of that's happened in Mexico, we have to
think could happen here," said Steve McCraw, Gov. Rick Perry's
director of homeland security. "We know what they're capable of."
A crackdown by Mexican President Felipe Calderon has turned the City
of Juarez, just across the border from El Paso, into a war zone as
federal troops battle feuding cartels.
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Illegal Drugs Are Causing Havoc Across the World. Over Four Articles,
We Look at Attempts to Curb Supply and Cut Demand, Beginning in Mexico
IN RECENT months Mexicans have become inured to carefully
choreographed spectacles of horror.
Just before Christmas the severed heads of eight soldiers were found
dumped in plastic bags near a shopping centre in Chilpancingo, the
capital of the southern state of Guerrero. Last month another three
were found in an icebox near the border city of Ciudad Juarez.
Farther along the border near Tijuana police detained Santiago Meza,
nicknamed El Pozolero ("the soupmaker") who confessed to having
dissolved the bodies of more than 300 people in acid over the past
nine years on the orders of a local drug baron.
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Imagine if murders in Philadelphia tripled. Imagine if they
quadrupled. Imagine living in Juarez, Mexico. With a population about
the same as Philadelphia's 1.4 million, Juarez had 1,600 murders last
year; Philadelphia had 332.
Last month, Juarez had more than 80 murders. If you think that sounds
like a war zone, you would be right. Juarez is on the front lines of
the so-called war on drugs. That multi-decade misadventure has filled
U.S. prisons with thousands of drug-law violators, but hasn't done
enough to stem our demand for drugs.
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WASHINGTON -- Mexico's attorney general said Tuesday he sees no need
for U.S. troops to intervene in his country's war on drug cartels,
nor to gear up for a spillover of violence across the border.
"I don't see that," Attorney General Eduardo Medina-Mora said in an
interview with The Dallas Morning News. "I don't see the U.S.
military playing an active role. The size of the problem on the U.S.
side is not calling for that, and certainly Mexico has enough
institutional capabilities to deal with this."
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EL PASO - Gov. Rick Perry said he wants 1,000 troops to help guard
the Texas-Mexico border, and for the U.S. to fund strong security
measures to fight the Mexican drug cartels that have spread violence
and fear in Mexico, including Juarez.
"We're (also) asking the (Texas) Legislature for $135 million for
border security - to go after transnational gangs, for technology and
aviation assets, and for 1,000 troops," said Perry at a news
conference Tuesday at the Chamizal National Memorial.
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Mexican Cartels Wage a War of Unprecedented Violence That's Spreading
into the USA
VILLA AHUMADA, Mexico -- It was 3 a.m. when Griselda Munoz says she
got the first terrifying phone call: "Mom, there are people all over,
and they're shooting!"
A convoy of gunmen had invaded the ranch where her son, Jorge
Marrufo, 32, was working. As shots crackled in the background, he
told her he was running into the desert to hide in the sagebrush.
Before dawn, another call: "If anything happens to me, tell my kids I
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With Drug-Fueled Violence and Corruption Escalating Sharply, Many
Fear Drug Cartels Have Grown Too Powerful for Mexico to Control. Why
Things Are Getting Worse, and What It Means for the United States.
Detective Ramon Jasso was heading to work in this bustling city a few
days ago when an SUV pulled alongside and slowed ominously. Within
seconds, gunmen fired 97 bullets at the 37-year-old policeman,
killing him instantly.
Mr. Jasso had been warned. The day before, someone called his
cellphone and said he would be killed if he didn't immediately
release a young man who had been arrested for organizing a violent
protest in support of the city's drug gangs. The demonstrators were
demanding that the Mexican army withdraw from the drug war. The
protests have since spread from Monterrey -- once a model of order
and industry -- to five other cities. Drug Wars in Mexico
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"You hope for the best, plan for the worst"
AUSTIN -- Texas officials are working on a plan to respond to a potential
collapse of the Mexican government and the specter of thousands fleeing
north in fear for their lives after recent reports indicated the country
could be on the verge of chaos.
"You hope for the best, plan for the worst," Katherine Cesinger,
spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, said last week. "At this point, we've got
a contingency plan that's in development."
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More About The Ongoing Violence In Juarez
EL PASO -- A chorus of current and former U.S. officials are sounding
alarms about Mexico, warning the war-zone conditions in cities like
Juarez could lead to the government's downfall.
These voices include the Joint Forces Command, ex-CIA Director Michael
Hayden, former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, as well as
ex-U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey. Last Tuesday, Navy Adm. Mike
Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also said he was
concerned about escalating border violence.
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Now that the war in Iraq is won, President Barack Obama and Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton need to turn to the most significant terrorist
threat facing the United States. And it's not Afghanistan. It's Mexico.
Mexico is creeping closer to becoming a narco-state.
President Felipe Calderon is the latest in a series of Mexican chief
executives to take on the country's five major drug criminal syndicates.
Two years into his campaign, he's been extraordinarily effective. Yet his
success against the Gulf cartel, one of the most powerful, has contributed
to Mexico's instability.
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