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Drug Cartels and Costs of Prohibition

Discussion regarding the impact of drug prohibition has yet to arise despite the growing corruption and violence associated with the Mexican drug cartels. According to the New York Times March 1, 2009 article, ("With Force, Mexican Drug Cartels Get Their Way") "Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz is supposed to be the one to hire and fire the police chief in this gritty border city that is at the center of Mexico's drug war. It turns out, though, that real life in Ciudad Juarez does not follow the municipal code. It was drug traffickers who decided that Chief Roberto Orduna Cruz, a retired army major who had been on the job since May, should go. To make clear their insistence, they vowed to kill a police officer every 48 hours until he resigned. They first killed Mr. Orduna's deputy, Operations Director Sacramento Perez Serrano, together with three of his men. Then another police officer and a prison guard turned up dead. As the body count grew, Mr. Orduna eventually did as the traffickers had demanded, resigning his post on Feb. 20 and fleeing the city."

The article states, "Replacing Mr. Orduna will also fall outside the mayor's purview, although this time the criminals will not have a say. With Ciudad Juarez and the surrounding state of Chihuahua under siege by heavily armed drug lords, the federal government last week ordered the deployment of 5,000 soldiers to take over the Juarez Police Department. With the embattled mayor's full support, the country's defense secretary will pick the next chief."

The article notes, "Chihuahua, which already has about 2,500 soldiers and federal police on patrol, had almost half the 6,000 drug-related killings in all of Mexico in 2008 and is on pace for an even bloodier 2009. Juarez's strategic location at the busy El Paso border crossing and its large population of local drug users have prompted a fierce battle among rival cartels for control of the city. Nothing is surprising in Chihuahua anymore. Gunmen recently shot at one of three cars in Gov. Jose Reyes Baeza's motorcade, killing a bodyguard and wounding two agents. The drug cartels routinely collect taxes from business owners, shooting those who refuse to pay up. As for the Juarez mayor, who has made cleaning up the notoriously corrupt police department his focal point, the cartel recently threatened to decapitate him and his family unless he backed off."

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