The U.S.-Mexico Pipeline
A quietly released narco-intelligence report shows some hard truths about the U.S.-Mexico border.
Now, I’m starting to think we should dump the noun “border.” Border implies boundary, a line, a control. What we have, this federal report shows, is a conduit.
This analysis tells certain truths about the cartel war that’s exploded all over Mexico and the U.S.’s build-up of border law enforcement. And they leave some awkward questions that Washington ought to be asking.
It comes from a U.S. Justice Department analysis of street prices throughout the U.S., one I recently received that the mainstream media hasn’t paid much attention to. Some truths, I suppose, are more uncomfortable than others.
According to this analysis, commissioned by the National Drug Intelligence Center and surveying 133 cities, 67 U.S. cities have seen a change in cocaine prices. But only ten recorded a significant price increase ($5,000 or more per kilo). Seven cities reported a significant price decrease (same range). The analysis looked at 122 cities across the country. The other half of cities reported no change whatsoever compared to the same analysis completed six months before.
The laws of supply and demand are clear: Drug war and border enforcement or no, the U.S. has not seen any change in narco prices, the market has not been affected at all.
The message is even more clear: No matter which cartel is fighting which, no matter how much the United States spends on border enforcement, no change; the Colombian suppliers have lost nothing.
The numbers are interesting, particularly in the context of the Homeland Security Department’s budget request filed last month for fiscal year 2009 - $50.5 billion.
Homeland Security Sec. Michael Chertoff put in the request to the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security Appropriations, an eight percent increase over this year’s budget. Part of his justification, the 287 miles of border wall that have been built this year, a 21 percent increase in Border Patrol agents and the Project 28 towers contract sold to the Boeing Corporation which failed to work.
Narcotics street prices tell a story that is far more honest than the appointed politicos we pay to run this country. Walls haven’t worked, remote sensors haven’t either. More U.S. Border Patrol agents also fail to put a dent in the cartels’ networks that form the U.S.-Mexico border.
The cartels of Sinaloa, Tijuana and Nuevo Laredo may be taking each other out with rocket launchers, but the real work, the business of moving goods north, hasn’t been slowed at all.
Mexico recorded its bloodiest day yet in the cartel wars yesterday, 34 dead throughout the country. In Nogales, Mexico, three missile launchers carrying anti-tank rounds were seized Sunday. A Sinaloan family was car-jacked at rifle point in the peaceful town of Magdalena de Kino in northern Sonora this morning. In Culiacan, Sinaloa, the Mexican Army took over law enforcement Monday morning after the murders of nearly 20 cops and detectives. In Villa Ahumada, south of Ciudad Juarez, the entire police department abandoned the city after a battalion of 40 trucks carrying thugs with machine guns and hand grenades took over, Sunday night. The acting federal police chief was murdered May 7. A former Mexican FBI agent stands accused this morning of detonating a bomb near the Mexico City police station. Federal ecologists announced this morning that thirty percent of Mexico’s crops consist of marijuana and opium.
We’ve been reading a lot in the media about the C-word (no, not that one), the Colombianization of Mexico, the threat to its fragile democracy. I disagree. Business is booming, as much as it ever has.
And the media is perhaps the guiltiest of all. Presumably, the media carries no agenda and are compelled to ask the critical questions of the government. Instead, we read sentences like: “The smugglers are growing frustrated at the successful efforts of law enforcement, officials said.”
What’s the use of having a media independent of the State if it simply parrots back whatever nonsense it’s being fed?
Go back to that NDIC report, marijuana: 131 cities surveyed, only 49 reported a change, but no significant change.
Meth: 91 cities reported. 38 reported a change. In nine cities, the price went significantly up; in four it went signifcantly down.
I think these numbers are useful for Congress to think about before they go signing that check.
– Michel Marizco