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Why a Drug War Victory…Hurts


21-ton Cocaine Bust 1989/ Kevork Djansezian / AP Photo

In the U.S. drug war, even successes can have dangerous down sides. My commentary today in the Los Angeles Times describes one of those successes: the 1989 seizure of more than 21 tons of cocaine in a Southern California warehouse. It remains the single biggest cocaine bust in history.

That law enforcement coup led to high-level arrests, compromised smuggling routes and it cost Colombian and Mexican drug bosses billions in lost profits. However, it also had unexpected consequences. Most significantly, it changed the business model for traffickers. Mexican drug gangs that now control the U.S. cocaine market can trace their lucrative rise to power to that very same massive drug bust.

The game-changing series of events began as a pay dispute between Mexican smugglers and Colombian cartel bosses. In the end, Cali and Medellin crime bosses stepped aside, ceding the U.S. cocaine market to Mexican cartels. The frustrating result, years after the record-setting drug seizure, is still bigger, richer and more dangerous organized crime operations on our border.

Read all about it HERE.