Will Mexico Cartel Leader’s Capture Reduce Violence or Drug Abuse?

The leader of Mexico’s brutal Zetas organization has been captured in northern Mexico, authorities announced. According to the Associated Press:

Trevino Morales, 40, was captured by Mexican Marines who intercepted a pickup truck with $2 million in cash on a dirt road in the countryside outside the border city of Nuevo Laredo, which has long served as the Zetas’ base of operations. The truck was halted by a Marine helicopter and Trevino Morales was taken into custody along with a bodyguard and an accountant and eight guns, government spokesman Eduardo Sanchez told reporters.
 

The US State Dept. had offered up to $5 million for help in capturing him.

The report is mainly about the facts of the capture, and of Morales and the Zetas. There’s one expert quote, about Morales:

“He is the most sadistic drug capo in Mexico,” said George Grayson, a professor of Latin American politics at the College of William and Mary and an expert on the Zetas cartel. “He delights in inflicting torture and pain. He deserves to be in the lowest rungs of hell.”

Grayson’s take on Morales is easy to accept, if one has read any articles about the Mexican drug wars of the past several years. In fact there are reports I wish I’d never read. That said, I wish the reporter had sought some expert quotes about whether capturing a kingpin like Morales is likely to reduce drug trafficking or availability or abuse; and whether it could reduce the violence.

The answer to the first question is decidedly “no.” The Zetas will continue doing business and/or will splinter into rival factions doing business and/or other drug trafficking organizations will get the business. This is what has always happened previously.

Looking at the second question, the backdrop is that illegal drug trafficking exists because of prohibition. Absent drug prohibition laws, the trade and the vast revenues it currently generates would mostly reside in the licit economy, not encouraging violence in the trade. All that would be left in the underground is a sliver from “gray market” activity, smuggling to evade taxation and so forth.

Mexico’s drug wars have reached the height of violence they have in recent years, in part because of the escalation of anti-cartel activity — such as the capture of cartel leaders like Morales. It’s had the effect of producing many localized drug trafficking groups, fighting many more wars than was the case before. The current weakness of the government in terms of keeping a lid of crime is also a factor. The aggressive escalation of anti-cartel activity undertook by the administration of former Pres. Enrique Calderon came at a time when the government was least able to minimize the unintended consequences of such a program, which made it even worse.

Does that mean that Morales’s capture will necessarily provoke yet more violence? It might, but that depends on which way Mexico goes. One of the truisms of prohibition is that tolerating the prohibited activity can sometimes reduce the violence associated with the prohibited activity. One cartel can be replaced by a less violent one, if the government quietly allows that to happen.

So Mexico has some choices to make. But it would be better to expand the set of choices by considering international legalization systems, as Latin American leadership is currently pressing for a discussion of.

– Article originally from Stop the Drug War, used with permission.

Comments

9 Comments

  1. Anonymous on

    its impossible to convict this guy in the USA as long as he does not answer any questions

  2. Anonymous on

    release the man he had 8 guns….

  3. Anonymous on

    kendra and bridget are doing it to the american constitution

  4. gutrod on

    Morales arrest is just a drop in the bucket. There will be thousands of Mexicans willing to put their lives on the line to replace him. The American government should be ashamed of the mess that they have created down in Mexico, in their own country and worldwide. All in the name of right wing christian ideology and morality laws that were initially brought into place to control non whites. Sick.

  5. Mrs. Ratsrectum on

    He should NOT be extradited to the U.S. If he is suspected of giving the orders or involvement of deaths in Mexico, then he should stay there to answer, not be shipped off to the El Norte.

  6. Anonymous on

    THE SPANISH,MOSSAD AND CIA ARE PLANNING TO COMMIT BODILY HARM TO DANNY G FROM TORONTO WHO IS RELATED TO GEORGE WASHINGTON AND MANY OTHER’S, DANNY G WILL DEFEAT ALL THE POLICE(FEMINISM) EVERY SINGLE TIME. IL BE WAITING FOR YOU ALL FOR DANNY G FOR THROWING HIM IN JAIL AND BLAMING HIM AND ITS US THE ITALIANS AND SPANISH AND THE IDIOT CANADIANS OWE DANNY G MONEY FOR WHAT WE ARE DOING…STARVE CANADA STARVE.

  7. Anonymous on

    if he was not spanish he would be innocent. all the spanish including mexico, and south america are the most uneductaed people to ever exist. The south americans are sabotaging the united states to start a war, but in the past, the colombians(zions) used leaders like hitler to achieve their goals and the voices who are speaking to you all in your ears would be the people who talk to all the miliaries but today these feminist terrorists are attacking people themselves. the feminist pay street gangs to commit their crimes and pay leaders off to ignore the problems and whent the feminists pay a brib they act like it never happening and thgey are caught on tape, they are caught threating on wiretaps, feminists are must get executed. The europeans are expremely jealous of danny g, these europeans come to the united states when american traditions like the kentucky derby and last week the all star game for baseball. Europe are sabotaging the united states everyday because they envy america for they are able to pocess guns and take the lifes of zions like the sopranos and gotti’s. Zions are loosers like berlosconi who will get it bad after we are done, extrepct the worst this year. YOU FEMEINISTS ARE ALL CAUGHT EVERYDAY. THERE IS NO MORE CASH MONEY FOR ANY ITALIAN. YOUR DRUG SELLING DAYS ARE COMING TO AN END, YOUR ALL GOING TO JAIL YOU CALABRESE(cia), THE ITALIANS CALABRESE ARE CIA FOR CENTURIES AND COLOMBIA TOO. SPANISH PEOPLE ARE LOOSERS WHO ONLY CARE ABOUT COCAINE

  8. Anonymous on

    some kingpin .. looks more like a local patron of THE MANHOLE club downtown

  9. Anonymous on

    Locking him up is going to have little impact in drug trafficking in the region but the Zetas top leaders are all ex-military and employ terrorism and para-military tactics to get their way so with the top 2 zetas leaders dead or locked up we will hopefully see some kind of decrease in violence but i personally don’t expect it to be much, theres just too much money to be made for people to stop and play nice…