The United States is most assuredly not winning the war on drugs. Anyone who tells you otherwise is woefully uninformed or playing politics. The most recent example of how badly the United States is losing this war can be evidenced by its decision to adopt counter-measures to the Mexican drug cartels’ newspaper advertisement campaign. I am not at all surprised by an article on Fox News Latino’s website describing the US attempt to counter-balance cartel “job advertisements” in Tijuana newspapers. I am glad that the United States is taking action against the Mexican cartels, but am very disappointed that reactive initiatives are continuing to be employed.
The article explains that the cartels often place ads for low-paying jobs for which the ability to cross the US-Mexico border legally is one of the few requirements, and the applicants are later informed that their job includes driving a company car across the border into the United States. Applicants are not told they will be transporting drugs, so their pay is less than that of “professional” drug couriers. This lowers the cost of transportation for the cartels and makes their couriers less nervous because they do not know they are breaking the law. This, in turn, increases both cartel profits and possibility of success through a single tactic. Newspaper ad space is also relatively cheap and reaches a large portion of the population that includes potential applicants who are desperate for work. Not surprisingly, this has been a success for the cartels.
The fact that the US is now mirroring this tactic tells me two things. First, the cartels have no doubt been operating this way for a long time. I came to this conclusion because the United States must have been monitoring this activity for months (at the minimum) to come to the conclusion that it must counteract these advertisements by buying ad space of its own. Furthermore, federal entities such as the US Immigration and Customs and Enforcement (ICE) need to go through the proper bureaucratic channels for approval of any initiative. Second, the cartels probably have already moved on to bigger and better tactics, even if they still use this one. Those who doubt the cartels’ innovative abilities need only review some of the more creative solutions the cartels have developed over the years: the catapults to toss bales of marijuana over the “walls” along the US-Mexico border; the use of speed boats; the construction of narco-submarines; long underground tunnels (sometimes furnished with electricity, ventilation, and/or plumbing) or the use of narco-tanks (heavily armored SUVs or trucks) to combat police and military units. There are other examples I did not mention here and no doubt there will be others in the future. In my opinion, this proves that the cartels employ some of the Americas’ brightest and most creative minds. Therefore, the United States should be more creative in its approach, and avoid mirroring their opponents’ tactics.
The United States is only now beginning an ad campaign that warns job seekers about the cartels’ employment ads and how to identify them. Sadly, as the article points out, those desperate for work probably will not care and this recruitment process will continue. However, my main concern is that this just further proves that the United States is still behind the curve and refuses to adapt. When facing consistently evolving adversaries, such as the drug cartels, the only way to defeat them is to figure out “the next step.” The only way for the United States to “win” this war is to be proactive, and not reactive.
Now try to tell me that the United States is “winning.” In fact, at this point, I would settle for an explanation as to how it’s not losing…
– Max Rava
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