The timing was probably coincidental, but days after announcing that the feds would no longer prosecute folks for using medicinal marijuana, Attorney General Eric Holder and the Drug Enforcement Administration publicized huge raids conducted nationwide, including in metro Atlanta, against the Mexican drug cartel La Familia. In other words, they want it known that they are still heavily involved in the futile “war on drugs.”
In metro Atlanta, authorities arrested 31 people in Gwinnett County, three in Cobb and one in Clayton while recovering a total of 188 pounds of crystal meth, 17 kilos of cocaine, 13 guns and $50,000.
Gwinnett police officers raided 10 locations in that county alone. Rodney Benson, special agent in charge of the DEA’s Atlanta Field Division, said metro Atlanta, Dallas and the Los Angeles area were La Familia’s biggest operational centers.
Of course, there is a huge difference between cancer patients smoking a little pot and the savagely violent La Familia, which traffics in meth and cocaine, launders drugs and kidnaps and kills. Still, the feds wouldn’t say whether they arrested any cartel leaders, which suggests they didn’t. And as long as cartel leaders remain free, the family’s violent work will continue.
And why wouldn’t it when they have so many customers here in the United States?
Analysts said the operation appeared designed to allay skepticism among Mexico’s political leaders about the U.S. government’s commitment to Mexico’s crackdown on cartels. The drug-related violence has taken about 15,000 lives since President Felipe Calderón entered office in 2006. Mexican authorities have arrested 80,000 drug suspects, and Washington has responded with $1.4 billion in aid under the Merida initiative, but some in Mexico have grown frustrated with the U.S. market’s continuing demand for illegal drugs.
In other words, the war on drugs still isn’t making any progress. Both Mexico and the United States would be better off if the US shifted billions in resources away from police and prosecution and into education and drug treatment. Yes, we should still target violent cartels. But until we can curb the appetite for meth through drug treatment, the violence will continue.