Interdiction

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Editorial: There's Always Another Drug Cartel...

David Borden, Executive Director

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/borden12.jpg
David Borden
It was the DEA's lucky day, and one drug lord's unlucky one. Notorious drug lord Javier Arellano-Felix, head of one of the world's leading cocaine trafficking organizations, was plucked from the sea near Mexico's coastline by the US Coast Guard. He's now facing life in prison on a 2003 indictment for cocaine trafficking.

There are plenty of reasons besides drug trafficking for putting this guy away -- his cartel is a major party to the drug trade violence plaguing the Tijuana region that has already claimed some 1,500 lives. Some of the murders have been unspeakable in their sheer gruesomeness. The organization was responsible for the infamous 1993 assassination of Cardinal Juan Posadas Ocampo as he waited to meet an arriving papal official in Guadalajara airport.

Though we don't lament Arellano's loss of freedom, there is much to lament in the system that made him possible, a system that in its impact if not intentions has claimed so many lives and will continue to in the future. Cocaine traffickers and their henchmen are not killing people because they are high on cocaine; they are killing people because that is a part of business -- making money -- in this lucrative criminal enterprise. We know from long experience that taking out one drug lord, even dismembering an entire trafficking organization, only leads to the growth or establishment of a new one, with no reduction in the amount of cocaine getting taken to market. DEA officials acknowledged this even as they celebrated their high-profile capture -- they even predicted violence would result from it, as rival traffickers fight to fill the void the capture has created.

The most notorious drug lord, perhaps, was Medellin, Colombia cartel builder Pablo Escobar, taken down in a hail of bullets by government forces acting under the leadership of attorney general Gustavo de Greiff. De Greiff's public commentary was infinitely more enlightened than we should ever expect to hear from the DEA. De Greiff explained in the media that nothing would happen to the flow of cocaine, the Medellin will just be replaced by another cast of characters, the answer is... legalization. Of course the DEA and their bosses at the Dept. of Justice didn't like that. But he was right. (Click here to hear what de Greiff had to say at our 2003 Mexico conference.)

So while DEA's chieftains will undoubtedly continue to savor the afterglow for weeks or months to come, in the meanwhile the victims of drug prohibition will continue to needlessly suffer and die. Because there is always another cartel, another leader waiting in the wings, another vendor or middleman willing to sling a gun to get his share.

Latin America: US Feds Bust Major Mexican Trafficker, Expect Violence, Continued Drug Trafficking as Result

Javier Arellano-Felix, a major player in one of Mexico's powerful and violent drug trafficking organizations, was arrested by the US Coast Guard in international waters off the coast of Mexico's Baja California. But even as federal law enforcement officials risked serious injury from all the back-patting going on at their celebratory press conference Thursday, they acknowledged that his arrest would amount to little.

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DEA poster
The Arellano-Felix organization controls the Tijuana drug trade franchise, or "plaza" as it's called in Mexican slang. It grew in the 1980s into a major cocaine trafficking group, but was dealt a harsh blow in 2002 when one older Arellano-Felix brother was killed and another arrested. In the past two years, since the most recent disruptions of the Mexican cartel structure, the Arellano-Felix organization has been a key player in the bloody vendettas among traffickers that have left more than 1,500 people dead.

"El Tigrillo" ("The Little Tiger"), as he is known in Mexico, was one of several organization members indicted by a federal grand jury in San Diego in 2003 on charges they conspired to smuggle tons of cocaine into the US. He faces life in prison here.

"In the world of drug law enforcement, it doesn't get any better," John Fernandes, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's San Diego office, sat a mobbed news conference. "This is huge. The opportunity to capture a drug lord the caliber of Javier Arellano Felix is a unique event." His capture marks "the end of two decades of the most... powerful and violent drug-trafficking organization," he added.

And what that means in Mexico is a new round of violence as competing trafficking organizations fight to take advantage of the opening. Fernandes acknowledged as much, saying that violent jockeying for power is the likely result of Arellano's arrest.

Nor do authorities expect his arrest to make any significant difference. "In drug trafficking we're not naive enough to think that drug trafficking is going to stop," said FBI Daniel R. Dzwilewski, special agent in charge of the FBI's local office.

Still, it was a nice photo-op.

Don't Go to Indiana

From the Tribune-Star in Terre Haute, Indiana:
The Vigo County prosecutor’s office, the Terre Haute Police Department and Vigo County Sheriff’s Department will be conducting intermittent driver’s license checks at an undisclosed location in Vigo County.

When I hear that Indiana police are conducting “driver’s license checks”, my constitutional spidey-sense goes off. Afterall, these are the folks who brought us the drug checkpoint. And when that got overruled by the Supreme Court, they came out with the similar, but more sinister “fake drug checkpoint.”

And just when I’m getting ready to connect the dots, the Tribune-Star does it for me:

The checkpoint is also known as a highway interdiction operation, something that has been challenged in courts on the grounds that it may violate the Fourth Amendment prohibition against illegal search and seizure.

So at least we can agree that this is about drug interdiction rather than driver’s licenses. But the Tribune-Star is a bit off on the caselaw. The above quote should read:

The checkpoint is also known as a highway interdiction operation, something that has been overruled by the Supreme Court on the grounds that it does violate the Fourth Amendment prohibition against illegal search and seizure.

Though technically a win for the 4th Amendment, City of Indianapolis v. Edmond has a loophole in that it only prohibits checkpoints implemented for the “primary purpose” of drug interdiction. That’s why police can set up checkpoints on the pretext of checking driver’s licenses, and then proceed to march drug-sniffing dogs around your car in circles as you fumble for your documents.

Thanks to the Court’s recent decision in Illinois v. Caballes, dog-sniffs are impossible to challenge on 4th Amendment grounds if administered during the course of an otherwise legitimate law-enforcement activity, so these thinly-veiled drug checkpoints will be hard to challenge.

For that matter, I’m not sure we should even push this issue given our current Court’s attitude towards the 4th Amendment.

Instead, let’s just stay the hell out of Indiana.

Localização: 
United States

Smugglers Innovate as Border Tightens

Localização: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
USA Today
URL: 
http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20060803/a_borderdrugs03.art.htm

Drug Czar: Meth Battles Needs Tighter Border Control, Treatment

Localização: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Associated Press
URL: 
http://www.charlotte.com/mld/observer/news/local/15172904.htm

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